Thursday, September 29, 2011

September News Bytes

  • There is a forthcoming CD of 14 melodic pieces written and performed by flautist/guitarist John Hackett, plus Debussy's 'Syrinx' for solo flute and JS Bach's 'Andante' from BWV 1034 with guest guitarist Andy Gray. "I am very proud of this new album. I hope it goes some way to building a bridge between classical and progressive music" - John Hackett

  • Corroncho is a Spanish speaking album recorded by Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera and Colombian artist/sculptor, Lucho Brieva in London between 2003-2008. The new CD is due out in November.

MASTODON's 'The Hunter' Projected To Sell 35K-40K First Week

"The Hunter", the new album from Atlanta progressive metallers MASTODON, is likely to sell between 35,000 and 40,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release, according to industry web site Hits Daily Double. The estimate was based on one-day sales reports compiled after the record arrived in stores on September 27 via Reprise Records.

MASTODON's previous CD, "Crack The Skye", opened with 41,000 units back in April 2009 to land at position No. 11 on The Billboard 200 chart. The band's 2006 effort, "Blood Mountain", came in with just over 24,000 units — significantly more than the 8,000 first-week tally registered by its predecessor, 2004's "Leviathan" — which put it at No. 32.

"The Hunter" was made available in several configurations that feature an exciting
interactive 3D experience known as Augmented Reality. The technology,
created by Los Angeles-based company Total Immersion, combines
virtual and real worlds to create a 3D one-of-a-kind interactive
experience that users can control. Just by using a camera on a computer, their own face and the cover art on "The Hunter", the user can turn themselves into "The Hunter" sculpture that is pictured on the cover.

The physical configurations for "The Hunter" are as follows:

Standard CD: Includes the album's 13 tracks, plus a basic Augmented
Reality Experience in which the users head becomes the "creature" on the
album's front cover in full 3D.

* Deluxe Physical CD/DVD: Sold
as a 13-song digipack with an alternative cover, this package includes
the standard CD, with the basic Augmented Reality Experience, plus a DVD
that includes a track-by-track, psychedelic visualizer, the "Deathbound" and "Black Tongue" videos.

Direct-To-Fan Package: This exclusive package is comprised of the
complete 13-song digipack album. Additionally, buyers received two
digital bonus tracks on day of release. An exclusive insert was
included which triggers an enhanced Augmented Reality Experience and
contains additional embedded content. Also included is a 20" x 30"
lenticular poster of the standard album cover artwork.

"The Hunter" track listing:

01. Black Tongue
02. Curl Of The Burl
03. Blasteroid
04. Stargasm
05. Octopus Has No Friends
06. All The Heavy Lifting
07. The Hunter
08. Dry Bone Valley
09. Thickening
10. Creature Lives
11. Spectrelight
12. Bedazzled Fingernails
13. The Sparrow
14. The Ruiner (limited-edition bonus track)
15. Deathbound (limited-edition bonus track)

The follow-up to 2009's "Crack The Skye" was MASTODON's third studio CD to be made available on Reprise Records in the U.S. and Canada and the band's first to be issued through Roadrunner Records outside of North America.

"The Hunter" was recorded at Doppler Studios in Atlanta with producer Mike Elizondo. Drum tracks were previously completed in Los Angeles at the legendary Sound City Studios where NIRVANA's masterwork "Nevermind" was recorded.

OPETH's 'Heritage' Cracks U.S. Top 20

"Heritage", the new album from Swedish progressive metallers OPETH, sold 19,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 19 on The Billboard 200 chart.

OPETH's previous studio CD, 2008's "Watershed", opened with more than 19,000 units to land at No. 23.

"Watershed" was the follow-up to the band's acclaimed "Ghost Reveries" CD, which debuted at No. 64 on the Billboard chart back in September 2005 with first-week sales of just under 15,000.

OPETH's 2003 album, "Damnation", premiered with a little over 5,000 copies.

"Heritage" was produced by OPETH vocalist/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt and was recorded earlier this year at Atlantis studios (formerly Metronome studios) in Stockholm. Mixing duties were handled by Steven Wilson (PORCUPINE TREE) and Åkerfeldt. Longtime collaborator Travis Smith also worked with Åkerfeldt to create, design and execute the album's artwork, which can be seen below.

"Heritage" first-week chart positions so far:

Denmark: #8
Norway: #8
Germany: #9
Netherlands: #10
Australia: #12
Austria: #16
U.S.A.: #19
U.K.: #22
France: #24
New Zealand: #26
Ireland: #34
Belgium: #87

"Heritage" was released in several configurations that will certainly incite the interest of OPETH's legion of fans, known for their passion for collecting and
collectibles. The album was made available as a standard version; as a
special edition loaded with extras; as a box set exclusive to the Roadrunner and the band's own official Omerch webstore; and as a double LP.

Standard CD

01. Heritage
02. The Devil's Orchard
03. I Feel The Dark
04. Slither
05. Nepenthe
06. Häxprocess
07. Famine
08. The Lines In My Hand
09. Folklore
10. Marrow Of The Earth

Special-Edition Digipack CD/DVD

As above plus additional DVD including:

* Bonus audio tracks: "Pyre" and "Face In The Snow"
* 5.1 mix of the whole album
* "Making of the album" documentary
* Card to download the bonus tracks
* Limited-edition OPETH coin (until stocks last)

The Deluxe Box Set:

* Double-LP set of "Heritage" with exclusive lenticular artwork (180-gram vinyl
in gatefold jacket)
* Custom gatefold jacket that houses the "Heritage" special edition CD/DVD set
(includes 2 bonus tracks, 5.1 audio mix of album and "Making Of Heritage" documentary)
* Exclusive 7" of 2 bonus tracks
* Litho print of album cover
* Oversized 16-page booklet with exclusive photos and artwork
* All content housed in custom slipcase
* Receive a digital download of the album the day before release

In a recent interview with Radio Metal, Åkerfeldt stated about "Heritage", "I never heard music like that, so I can't compare it to other bands.
If you want to compare it to another band, it has to be us. But still,
it's different. For me, it kind of makes sense, because I've been doing
this for such a long time. So it's not a massive departure for me and
for the guys in the band. But for fans, if they are, for example, into 'My Arms, Your Hearse' [OPETH's third album, released in 1998], it might be a bit different. But I'm
hoping that a lot of people are ready for this type of album from us.
The music is all over the place. It's hard to define the album and say
it sound like this or like that. There are no songs that represent more
the album than any other songs. It's an album as whole. You can't listen to only one song and you'll know what the album is going to be like.
Because, like I said, it's all over the place."

OPETH made its live debut with keyboardist Joakim Svalberg (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, GLENN HUGHES) at the 10th annual Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival on June 10, 2011 on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, 60 miles south of Nashville.

Keyboardist Per Wiberg, who joined OPETH in 2005, was relieved of his duties in April as part of a mutual decision with the remaining members of the band.

LESLIE WEST Comments On '3 Guitar Heroes' Tour Postponement

The previously announced "3 Guitar Heroes" tour featuring Michael Schenker, Uli Jon Roth and Leslie West has been postponed until early 2012 due to West's recent partial leg amputation.

West has released the following statement regarding the tour postponement:

West has issued the following official statement: "To everyone involved on
this tour. I am very sad today. I was so hoping this would happen.
Everyone worked so hard, and it would have been FUN. Yeah, I wanted it
to be fun. Unfortunately it was not being able to climb stairs, go to a
simple thing like a bathroom on a tour bus, which is tight for a normal
person, let alone me. I start training with my new leg Wednesday, so I
can get back to a normal life.

"I do hope that everyone would consider doing West coast to East after NAMM. Bob [West's manager Bob Ringe] and Wayne [Forte at booking agency Entourage Talent Associates] think this is possible.

you guys think you would want to do this, I will work that much harder
to learn to walk, which I will do anyway, but thought I would throw this
in there."

West's leg was removed in late June just
above the knee due to complications from diabetes. "I cried a couple
fuckin' times," he told "You still feel the nerves and stuff like that. I had to make a decision — lose my leg or lose my
life. What are you gonna do? But I'll tell you, it's a good thing it
wasn't one of my arms. Then I'd be really fucked."

West's manager Bob Ringe was the mastermind behind the "3 Guitar Heroes" tour, and there are some very special surprises for this excursion.
Following sets by each artist, the evening will climax with a jam of
these highly influential artists on stage together, with special guests
earmarked to join them in most markets, including Dean Guitars CEO, Elliott "Dean" Rubinson, who will be the tour bassist for both Schenker and Roth.
Source: RNR

EVERGREY's 'A Decade And A Half' Two-Disc Greatest-Hits Collection Due In November

Swedish metallers EVERGREY will release "A Decade And A Half", a two-disc greatest-hits collection, in North America on November 22 via SPV/Steamhammer. This deluxe package contains previously unreleased songs, live tracks and an extensive booklet.

Since the band arrived on the scene with its first album in 1998, EVERGREY has brought out eight studio albums and one live release. All of them
made the Top 20 in their native Sweden and the last two landed in the
Top 10. On top of that, their DVD, "A Night To Remember", was No. 1 for four weeks and nominated for an the Swedish Grammy equivalent.

"A Decade And A Half" track listing:

CD 1

01. The Masterplan
02. Blackened Dawn (live)
03. Rulers Of The Mind
04. A Touch Of Blessing
05. Frozen
06. For Every Tear That Falls (live)
07. More Than Ever
08. Blinded
09. Faith Restored
10. These Scars
11. Broken Wings
12. Words Mean Nothing
13. Wrong (live) (unplugged; previously unreleased)

CD 2

01. The Great Deceiver
02. Monday Morning Apocalypse
03. Wrong
04. Waking Up Blind (live)
05. Solitude Within
06. Recreation Day
07. Still In The Water
08. Leave It Behind Us
09. Fear
10. When The Walls Go Down (live)
11. Frozen (live) (unplugged; previously unreleased)

EVERGREY's latest album, "Glorious Collision", sold around 900 copies in the United States in its first week of
release. The CD landed at position No. 49 on the Top New Artist Albums
(Heatseekers) chart, which lists the best-selling albums by new and
developing artists, defined as those who have never appeared in the Top
100 of The Billboard 200.

EVERGREY's current lineup includes Englund and keyboardist Rikard Zander alongside new members Marcus Jidell (guitar), Hannes Van Dahl (drums) and Johan Niemann (bass).


OPETH Frontman On 'Heritage': "I Knew Early On That It Was Going To Be An Odd Album"

Josh Hart of recently conducted an interview with vocalist/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. A lot of people have immediately compared "Heritage" to "Damnation", mainly because of the absence of death metal vocals. Do you think that's a fair comparison?

Mikael Åkerfeldt: Yes and no. The only thing that's got anything to do with the "Damnation" album is the fact that there's no screams on there. I don't think there are many other similarities, to be honest. ["Heritage"] is a lot closer, I think, to the music I listen to to gain inspiration. To be honest, I don't really mind what album they compare it to. I guess it's the easy way out, so to speak, to compare it to the "Damnation" record, but I think the only similarities between those albums in reality is the fact that there's no screams. At what point in the songwriting process do the albums start to take shape for you? For instance, when writing "Heritage", how soon did you realize the album wouldn't have screaming and would be more progressive-rock sounding?

Mikael Åkerfeldt: The initial idea was actually to do a modern-sounding... almost like a continuation of "Watershed". I wanted to do three-part harmony vocals all the time, like some type of metal version of THE BYRDS. [laughs] But it didn't really work out. I wrote a couple of songs but I didn't feel that it was interesting enough for me. So I scrapped a
couple of songs that I had been working on and started from scratch,
writing a song that became "The Lines in My Hand" on the new
record. Which was a really odd song in comparison to anything else I've
ever done before. I got more freedom to do whatever I wanted after
writing that song. I kind of knew pretty early on that it was going to
be an odd album, and at the time I wasn't particularly interested in the most extreme, heavy type of metal, I was more into something else. So I knew pretty early on that it wasn't going to be a super, super extreme metal record. This record definitely displays the wide range of music that influences you outside of metal. I detect a hint of PINK FLOYD's David Gilmour on the song "Folklore", for instance. Who are some of the non-metal players that have really influenced you?

Mikael Åkerfeldt: Well, if you're talking guitar players, there are a lot of good guitar players out there. There's acoustic players like Bert Jansch. I like Nick Drake, and Jackson C. Frank. I love Jerry Donahue. Ritchie Blackmore has always been a big influence for me. I really appreciate his
integrity. I might not necessarily be the biggest fan of the renaissance music he's doing now, but I love an artist or musician who has followed some time of calling, if you know what I mean. Other than that, there are so many great guitar players out there. Joni Mitchell, I think she's a great guitar player, piano player, songwriter. I've been listening to a lot of her. All sorts of stuff.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NIGHTWISH 'Imaginaerum' Movie Director Issues Update

Finnish/Swedish symphonic metallers NIGHTWISH recently spent time not only putting finishing touches to their new album, "Imaginaerum", but also planning a movie of the same name.

"Imaginaerum" is one of the projects which recently received grants from the Finnish government institution called the Finnish Film Foundation. The movie, directed by Stobe Harju, about an old man on his deathbed who glimpses a childhood dream in
which he refuses to grow old, and fights aging with his imagination,
will get $575,000 toward its $3.7 million budget.

During a September 8 interview with Petri Silas of Finland's Soundi magazine, NIGHTWISH mainman/keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen revealed that all the filming for the "Imaginaerum" movie will be done in Canada with mostly Canadian actors/actresses.
Post-production will take place in Canada and Finland. He aso revealed
the names of the actors who have two of the main roles in the film: Marianne Farley and Quinn Lord.

Stobe Harju has issued the following update on the "Imaginaerum" film:

weeks have passed since the first day of shooting. It has been a
triumph so far. Even as the band sat down to look at some raw pre-edited
scenes, their faces couldn't lie. They were very happy with what they

"Many of you must be dying for information and images from
the set. We can't pour all that out since we really believe that some of
the reveals would spoil the show. However, if you've read the previous
update you know some of the character names already, which of at least Tom and Ann sound familiar to a many. And they should sound familiar.

"As I started to write 'Imaginaerum' screenplay, I planted one single parameter above everything else: This is a NIGHTWISH film, no matter how fictional story about the band it would be. I
didn't just wanted to use the band's name but also, to come up with
character names resembling NIGHTWISH members' names. The band in Imaginaerum became Ann, Tom, Marcus, Emil and Jack. I know, not very clever when it comes to molding names. Yet, I wanted the audience to feel the presence of NIGHTWISH and to me the convergence had to be clear. I had endless battles trying to convince people that using names similar to Anette, Tuomas, Marco, Emppu and Jukka was a perfect bridge between NIGHTWISH in reality and NIGHTWISH in a fantasy world. The band didn't agree with me originally. It became my decision and my responsibility I am proud of. That said, if someone
ever thinks this might be an ego thing for the band, think again. It's
my decision completely, and that's how I intend to keep it.

first two weeks have been a blast. So many great people have bled
together with us pouring their fantastic creativity into the project. We
have a fantastic art director and her team. Our director of photography
couldn't be more dedicated to his line of work or his visuality. Our
make-up and wardrobe departments have made magic in a short period of
time. And the cast... wow! The whole crew is filled with professionals I
could've only dreamt of when starting the project. And, our producers
are the kind who really understand the drama, art and the story while
keeping our budget safe and sound. I must be the luckiest director in
the world. What more can I say.

"What strikes me the most, is
the fact that this project is not only titled as 'the trip to one's
imagination,' but it is exactly that on every aspect of the game with
all the beloved people involved."

Several photos from the "Imaginaerum" movie shoot can be found at this location. A couple of the pictures are also available below.

The "Imaginaerum" album will be released in the U.S. on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 via Roadrunner Records; in Finland on Wednesday, November 30 and the rest of Europe on Friday, December 2 via Nuclear Blast Records.

NIGHTWISH's new single, "Storytime", will be released on Friday, November 11 via Nuclear Blast Records.

NIGHTWISH will kick off the "Imaginaerum" world tour in Los Angeles. The very first show of the trek will take
place at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California on
Saturday, January 21. This will be the biggest NIGHTWISH show production ever on North American soil and strictly a one-off — there will be no U.S. tour until later in 2012.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


SYMPHONY X, EPICA, REDEMPTION and PRETTY MAIDS are among the confirmed bands for next year's edition of the ProgPower USA festival, set to take place in September 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia (exact dates to be announced).

The festival billing is shaping up as follows:


EPICA (headliner)


SYMPHONY X (headliner)

For more information, visit

Sunday, September 25, 2011

MIKE PORTNOY Sued DREAM THEATER For 'Wrongfully Excluding' Him From Band

According to Courthouse News Service, ex-DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Portnoy filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates in April claiming that
they "wrongfully excluded" him from the group and are "wrongfully using
the name of the band in connection with [their] recording of an album
without the participation or consent of [Portnoy]." In addition, the drummer's complaint, which was filed on April 27, alleges that the defendants — John Petrucci (guitar), John Myung (bass), Jordan Rudess (keyboards), James LaBrie (vocals), along with associated companies Ytse Jam, Inc. and Infinity Tours, Inc. — "are wrongfully using the name of the band in connection with the
promotion of live performances by the individual defendants, without the participation or consent of [Portnoy]."

In an August 2011 interview with the Greek edition of Rock Hard magazine, Portnoy stated about his departure from DREAM THEATER, "I didn't make the decision to leave DREAM THEATER before [hooking up with] AVENGED SEVENFOLD [as their touring drummer], but I knew that something had to change in the DREAM THEATER camp. It's unfortunate that it was me that had to change, because I
never wanted to leave the band — it was never my intention; I never
wanted the split. I just merely thought that the band really could use a break, because I think the romance was really dying — backstage and
between [the members] personally. 25 years without a break is a very,
very, very long time and sometimes these relationships need a break from each other to rekindle the flame. So that's all I suggested. And even
before I [went on the road] with AVENGED SEVENFOLD, I remember touring with [the progressive rock project] TRANSATLANTIC at the beginning of 2010 and already knowing that something was wrong in the DREAM THEATER world and that I really needed a break from the guys and the whole DREAM THEATER machine. I knew something was brewing and I knew that I was unhappy,
and as has been well documented elsewhere, I merely just wanted a break. But unfortunately, those guys [the rest of DREAM THEATER] didn't see it that way and didn't respect my request for time off. It's unfortunate [that it turned out that way]."

Portnoy, who co-founded DREAM THEATER more than 20 years ago, announced his departure from the band in September 2010 while on tour with AVENGED SEVENFOLD. He has since been replaced by Mike Mangini (ANNIHILATOR, EXTREME, JAMES LABRIE, STEVE VAI).

Portnoy played on AVENGED SEVENFOLD's latest album, "Nightmare", following the death of that band's drummer, Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, and toured with them for the entire second half of 2010.

DREAM THEATER's new album, "A Dramatic Turn Of Events", was released on September 13 via Roadrunner Records.