Avenged Sevenfold became one of the world’s biggest rock bands by creating a sound that broke through obstacles of language, distance and culture. They raised the stakes and standards for the genre with a string of blockbuster albums, including their 2005 platinum-selling breakthrough, City Of Evil, 2007’s platinum-selling Avenged Sevenfold and two consecutive No. 1’s on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart: 2010’s Nightmare and 2013’s Hail To The King. They’ve achieved Diamond, Platinum and Gold awards for album sales in nearly a dozen countries, racked up over a billion video views and a billion-plus Spotify streams, have consistently been one of the most-played bands on rock radio for over a decade with multiple No. 1 singles, and have headlined arenas and the biggest rock festivals around the globe, amassing a diehard international fan base whose members number in the millions. Their most recent release, The Stage, is a work of immense scope and ambition tied together by an Artificial Intelligence theme. Inspired by the writings of Carl Sagan and Elon Musk, the album is the band’s first thematic release and its epic 15-minute-plus closing track, “Exist,” features a guest appearance by award-winning astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson giving a spoken word performance he penned specifically for the album. The album hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock, Hard Rock and Alternative Albums charts and drew praise from a plethora of outlets, among them Rolling Stone, NME, Q, The Guardian, Guitar World, Metal Hammer, Revolver, Loudwire, Metal Injection, Alternative Press, Drum, Total Guitar and Classic Rock, with the latter calling it “a metal masterpiece.”
Over the past two decades Papa Roach have established themselves as true trendsetters in rock music: They’ve been nominated for two Grammys, toured the globe with everyone from Eminem to Marilyn Manson and crafted the nü metal anthem “Last Resort,” which is still in heavy rotation on rock radio seventeen years after its release. However, the group’s ninth full-length Crooked Teeth sees the band returning to their humble—and hungry—roots. The album was recorded in a cramped North Hollywood studio with up-and-coming producers Nicholas “RAS” Furlong and Colin Brittain, who grew up listening to Papa Roach and inspired them to revisit some of the traits that personally endeared the band to them, most notably frontman Jacoby Shaddix’s remarkable rapping technique. From the instantly infectious nature of the title track to the atmospheric sheen of the ballad “Periscope” (which features Skylar Grey) and the hip-hop rock mashup “Sunrise Trailer Park” (which features an impassioned verse from Machine Gun Kelly), Crooked Teeth displays the various sides of Papa Roach and illustrates why they’ve managed to remain relevant while musical trends ebb and flow. Crooked Teeth also sees Shaddix pulling no punches lyrically, as evidenced on intensely personal tracks like “Born For Greatness,” produced by Jason Evigan (Jason Derulo, Demi Lovato, Kehlani, Madonna), which sees Shaddix getting sentimental about his three children, or “American Dreams” where the lifelong pacifist begs the listener to ask, “have you ever thought war was a sickness? The album’s acclaimed track “Help” debuted as the #1 Most Added at Active Rock and quickly became the #1 rock song in the country. Crooked Teeth is out May 19 via Eleven Seven Music.
Skillet lets their music speak the loudest. That’s how the quartet has cemented its place as one of the 21st century’s most successful rock bands. Selling over 11 million units worldwide, the Wisconsin quartet—John Cooper [lead vocals/bass], Korey Cooper [guitar/keys], Jen Ledger [drums/vocals], and Seth Morrison [lead guitars]—have received two GRAMMY® Award nominations and won a Billboard Music Award for the platinum-certified Awake. Their double-platinum single “Monster” is “the eighth most- streamed rock song of 2015” with a total of 57 million plays (and counting) on Spotify and would earn the distinction of becoming “the best-selling digital single in the history of Christian Music.” 2013’s Rise bowed at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 upon release and received resounding and eclectic acclaim from the likes of USA Today, New York Times, Revolver Loudwire, and more.
The group’s ninth full-length album, UNLEASHED [Atlantic Records/Word], sees them turn everything up louder, amplifying all aspects of their signature hypnotic sound. Channeling an intense muse, John immediately commenced writing just months after Rise hit shelves.
“By the time Rise came out, I could take a little bit of a breather and experience it,” he explains. “I remember thinking, ‘this feels important to me, but I need something a little more urgent.’ I didn’t want whatever we did next to be so emotionally heavy. I wanted to make a record that made people feel the music – an album that would connect people to the music as well as to each other. An album, like some of my favorites, that’d be like a party to listen to – where people could sing along – together.
That idea solidified as Skillet toured Europe in 2013 with Nickelback. Night after night, John watched the non-English speaking audience sing every word back to him. It left an indelible mark on his writing process.
“It struck me, how music is much bigger than a language,” he affirms. “There’s a universal feeling. We wanted to get that emotion across more through the music than with the words. I aimed to write songs people could easily relate to anywhere and everywhere.”
Getting off the road in 2015, John headed to Los Angeles to begin recording what would become UNLEASHED with producer Brian Howes—who helmed the 2006 platinum- selling Comatose and co-wrote the platinum No. 1 smash “Awake and Alive.” Cutting half of the album with Brian, John tapped the talents of multiple producers for the first
time in Skillet history, working with both GRAMMY Award winning producer Seth Mosley in Nashville and Kevin Churko [Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed] in Las Vegas.
“Comatose was a very special album for a lot of reasons,” he continues. “We wanted to record with Brian again and when the chance came up we were both ready to go. I’m also a huge fan of Kevin Churko, and it was amazing to have the opportunity to write with him. When I met Seth we just clicked. The entire process with each of them was such a great experience.”
The first single “Feel Invincible” explodes to life on a swinging guitar chug transitioning to sweeping electronics and a theatrical vocal call-and-response. Everything culminates on a towering chant that’s impossible to shake just as a melodic guitar lead takes off.
“It’s a fight song,” says John. “Sometimes, everything in the world makes you want to give up. This is a reminder not to. I think, ‘This is my life. This is my family. I can’t go around being scared all the time.’ I have the strength to face what’s happening.”
On the other end of the spectrum, “Stars” shines with a passionate and poetic refrain, “Here I am, lifting up my heart to the one who holds the stars.” Amidst the shimmering electronics and orchestration, it carries a message that John hopes will be easy to understand.
“It goes along with wanting to speak to as many people as possible,” he continues. “On a deeper spiritual level, for those who may not believe, it’s saying that there’s something bigger out there—whether it’s your community, family, or friends. Basically that we’re not, and don’t have to be alone.”
Whether it’s the snapping crunch of “Burn it Down” or the skittering crash and burn on “Out of Hell,” the record exudes a propulsive energy that can speak to both sides of the band’s audience, whether they’re sharing a bill with Disturbed or Lecrae.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” John leaves off. “The fans, the Panheads, means everything to us. They’re the reason we’re here. They make our shows what they are. We wanted to give that energy back to them in UNLEASHED.”
Ultimately, this is Skillet at their most potent, pure, and powerful.
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE
Finding themselves five albums in and long established as one of the biggest British metal acts in music history, Bullet For My Valentine have been busy rewriting their own future – finding new ways to invent intelligent noise and remaining unshackled by the legacy that comes with being masters of the trade. After initially forming as Jeff Killed John in 1998, eventually securing a five-album major label deal, their 2005 debut The Poison and 2008 follow-up Scream Aim Fire would provided an injection of what heavy music was very much lacking at the time. Consecutive full-lengths Fever, Temper Temper and Venom would cement their stature as modern masters, selling millions of albums worldwide and being crowned Best British Band at the Kerrang! Awards three years in a row – where they’ve also been awarded for Best Single, Best Live Band and Best British Newcomer. It’s not just the press and fans that have afforded them such faith – even the heroes that inspired them in the first place, bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica, have personally selected BFMV to hit the road and share the stage with them.
Returning with new opus Gravity, the Welsh quartet have stretched their creative wings like never before, delicately balancing film-score electronica and icy synths in their trademark hellfire of hard rock. Yet, in many ways, its 11 tracks are the mark of a band at their most focused and refined – utilising an expansive whirlpool of noise to clarify their message, rather than overcomplicate it. Opener Leap Of Faith is as devilishly catchy and heavy as any of BFMV’s biggest hits to date, while the stripped-down acoustics of Breathe Underwater capture a side to them that’s never been heard before. With touring drummer Jason Bowld joining founding singer/guitarist Matt Tuck, fellow axeman Michael ‘Padge’ Paget and bassist Jamie Mathias, this is a band reborn – in more ways than one…
“Over the last 12 months, I’ve been thinking about the word contemporary a lot,” reveals Matt, in the run-up to release. “And I feel this is a contemporary record. It’s not an old school, heart-on-your-sleeve influences thing. We’ve done that so let’s move forward and make the band more interesting. We don’t want to alienate anyone… but we don’t want to write the same shit anymore. Metalheads will enjoy this, I actually feel the softer electronic parts make the heavy moments even more crushing. It’s about engaging the listener and taking them on a journey, messing with their heads a bit…”
New offerings such as Letting You Go, The Very Last Time, Under Again and Coma are among those that are guaranteed to mess with heads – marking a departure from the metalcore scene they were instrumental in popularising. It’s arguably the bravest move of their career to date, their ultimate act of defiance. And somehow, a song like Coma could also contain one of the heaviest riffs this band have ever put their name to…
“That’s a dark track with a lot of weight to it,” nods Matt. “It’s definitely one for those that like broodier, heavier songs. We tried to push the boundaries a bit further on that song with all the electronic stuff and loops. Lyrically, it’s a true representation of where I’ve been over the last two years unfortunately… but now I’ve come out of the other side.”
The three years since 2015’s Venom haven’t been easy for BFMV’s commander-in-chief. But instead of falling deeper down a tunnel of self-despair, he channelled his life experiences into art like never before. It would be one of the most introspective and revelatory processes of his life – by his own admission, a personal and creative evolution that simply needed to happen…
“This is me pouring my heart out into song,” continues Matt. “It’s all about that journey.
I picked up my guitar, even though I didn’t really want to, and it’s like I couldn’t stop it, like I couldn’t fight it… Something boldly experimental can’t be done on a whim, we had to be comfortable and eventually we got there. The album is so up and down, so positive on tracks like Not Dead Yet, which is all about seizing the day and catching the moment. Then Under Again is all about the crushing depression I had about a year ago. The whole thing captures the character of… well, me – with some help from [producer] Carl Bown. There’s so much weight to this music without being complicated. That’s exactly what this album is: very uncomplicated.”
Having a multi-instrumentalist like Jason fully on-board also played a big part in this latest chapter of their history – the sticksman having worked with Matt previously in BFMV/Cancer Bats offshoot Axewound. The insight from a musician that made his name playing in Pitchshifter, Killing Joke and Pop Will Itself was not to be ignored – bringing something very different to the classic heavy metal influences at play between the long-lasting Tuck/Paget guitar partnership. This band has never been more ready to explore the unexplored, believes their charismatic frontman…
“While I’ve always been the main songwriter, it’s always been good having Padge supporting when needed,” continues Matt. “He’d bring ideas to the table, and now with Jason involved as well, it’s been incredible – he can write, sing, play guitar, drum, program electronic stuff, he’s just lives it. After the success of the last cycle, we clawed our way back up to where we needed to be, but this time we needed to do something people felt we couldn’t do. We had to make a statement – there could be no better time for the rebirth of Bullet. There’s no point relying on old glories to take us forward – that would be unimaginative, uncreative and boring. The history will always be there, it’s in the books. That’s Bullet. But we’ve moved on.”
As for the history to be made, it’s very much the break of a new dawn for BFMV. Their founding frontman has his sights set higher than ever before. He admits he has already “won the lottery” living out the dreams he had as young teenager, honing his craft and learning to control every corner of that stage. He explains it’s “been amazing and a privilege but you can’t keep shouting about the past – lose steam and it can all be taken away.” You have to keep on winning those lotteries, he humbly explains. Now, having headlined festivals around Europe and various other parts of the world – it’s time to look closer to home…
“We are more than ready for the UK, we’re the best band we’ve ever been,” comes the reply, when asked about being one of the frontrunners in the race to becoming future headliners of Download Festival. Count the number of British bands that realistically look poised for such elevation and it soon becomes clear just how much Bullet For My Valentine’s hard work has been paying off. But no matter how much his band have achieved so far – topping charts and winning awards with platinum records – this will always be a band on-the-cusp in their frontman’s eyes. And perhaps there lies the secret to their success…
“When you get those shots, you make them count,” reasons Matt. “We can hold our own with the best of them and Gravity feels like our best opportunity to headline Download. Bring it on. Other bands might be heavier, but we have the songs – we will always win on that front. I don’t want us to be another boring band that just does okay. Until I’m headlining those festivals, I’m not satisfied. Nothing else matters.”
With a new album, a new line-up and a new sound skyrocketing what is shaping up to be the biggest year of his career to date, you’d better believe him.
In the two short years since their debut album was cooked up in frontman Caleb Shomo’s basement, BEARTOOTH has catapulted into heavy music’s stratosphere. “The Lines,” “Beaten in Lips,” “In Between,” and “Body Bag” collected over 10 million views on YouTube, as BEARTOOTH trekked around the globe with Slipknot, Pierce The Veil, Bring Me The Horizon, Sleeping With Sirens, and the Vans Warped Tour.
BEARTOOTH has as much in common with stomping metalcore as old-school punk, vintage screamo, and harder edged pop punk, with a bit of cinematic extravagance.
Whereas Disgusting was the sound of a man pushing forward, Aggressive is a battle cry vowing to never retreat back into the dark. BEARTOOTH’s second album arrives filled with unapologetic power and focused determination. It’s the inevitable result of a fiercely dedicated, immensely talented, often troubled young singer who found purpose in sharing his insecurity, hostility, and regret with likeminded people the world over, people he never dreamt would hear his music let alone connect with it.
“’Crazy’ doesn’t even begin to describe it,” Shomo says of the BEARTOOTH journey. “It’s been the biggest whirlwind of unexpected things happening over and over.”
The title track on the band’s sophomore set, Aggressive, plays like a BEARTOOTH mission statement. “Aggressive” boasts impassioned throaty verses, pressure mounting build-ups, cathartic breakdowns, crowd moving bounce and savage riffs. “Who knew you’d be hated for being who you are? And be a big target for all the insecure?” Shomo croons at the start of “Hated,” an outsider anthem with the urgent momentum of the best of the ‘90s punk set with a soaring Active Rock chorus. “Loser” is every bit as driving as Foo Fighters or Rise Against, with the sweaty exuberance championed in the underground scene. Alternately, “Always Dead” is a circle-pit inciting banger worthy of any hardcore festival, while “Rock is Dead” makes for a huge exhale from serious reflection into full-blown reckless celebration.
Nobody comes to a BEARTOOTH show to stand around. The audience craves involvement, yearns for participation, insists on mixing it up and always sings along. BEARTOOTH’s Sick EP (2013) and Disgusting (2014) debut full-length saw Shomo painstakingly executing all of the instrumentation and vocals himself, working to exorcise the demons of a deep depression, self-doubt, and creative frustration. Aggressive is a natural step forward, defying the temptation to remain in despair.
“I want people to understand that I get it,” Shomo explains with characteristic honesty. “We’ve all been there. A lot of us are still there and a lot of us will go back to that place. But you don’t have to let it win or let it define you. Whatever you need to fight depression, whatever it takes to fight this darkness in your life, if you really put your head against it and really fight for it, you can overcome and come out on top.”
Shomo and his bandmates are more than happy to let BEARTOOTH define them. Aggressive is filled with screaming verses, soul moving riffs, and mosh parts, yet at the same time, it’s incredibly catchy. That’s what BEARTOOTH does best: bridging raw authentic intensity with accessibility, much like the balance between the sobering reality of personal demons and the hope attainable through perseverance.
“This band is who and what I am now,” Shomo says proudly. “I want this band to be the stamp I leave with my name for the rest of my life. And I want this record to prove it. This is my chance to prove, to myself, that BEARTOOTH isn’t a fluke.”
Nothing about Shomo’s career could be described as a “fluke.” ‘Though still in his early twenties, he’s experienced many of the highs and lows associated with creative expression, underground subculture and commercial charts. Starting as Attack Attack!’s keyboard player at age 15, the Columbus, Ohio native had moved into the frontman position by the time their third album debuted Billboard’s Top 10. Shomo eventually left Attack Attack! in order to face his depression and anxiety directly.
BEARTOOTH began as a purely solo expression of pain and mental illness. Following the recruitment of guitarists Taylor Lumley and Kam Bradbury, bassist Oshie Bichar, and the band’s original drummer, to tour in support of Sick and Disgusting, BEARTOOTH evolved into something more resembling a traditional band. The setup is similar to entities like Marilyn Manson, The Cure, Foo Fighters, or Nine Inch Nails, where one person leads the charge creatively but feeds off the energy of trusted confidantes and comrades-at-arms who execute the overall vision.
Shomo spent a grim Midwest winter back in his basement, obsessively tinkering with BEARTOOTH’s much-anticipated follow-up to the point of exhaustion. He’d tried sharing the workload with outside mixers on the first album, but there are so many nuances to BEARTOOTH’s sound that none of the people he tried quite got it.
Enter veteran hit-maker David Bendeth, whose discography includes important albums by Paramore, Breaking Benjamin, A Day To Remember, and Taking Back Sunday. Sensing something of a kindred spirit, Shomo entrusted Bendeth with mixing duties on Aggressive, soaking up the producer’s knowledge and experience.
The new BEARTOOTH album also features a bit of co-songwriting contribution from John Feldmann, whose work as producer, mixer, and cowriter includes albums by Good Charlotte, The Used, and 5 Seconds Of Summer. A longtime believer in Shomo, Feldmann was instrumental in BEARTOOTH’s deal with Red Bull Music.
“The process of making this record was truly life changing, more than any other experience I’ve had in a long time,” says Shomo, who worked hard to get in better physical shape, too. He points to one two hour-long conversation with Bendeth as pivotal in the album’s journey and speaks affectionately of Feldmann as well, who he credits with helping to bring out some of the brighter/melodic spots on Aggressive.
“It was a really delicate process. The reason I was able to work with those two is because we’re so close, it’s become a little family. They have a lot of respect for what I do and how I like to do it. They really understood what it means to me mentally to make a BEARTOOTH record. All they want to do is take that process further, push the envelope, get better songs out of me and for the record.”
Part of that process involved drawing upon the past two years of touring. “If I was at a show, which parts would have me wanting to jump on top of people’s shoulders to sing along as loudly as I can? What part will really pull me into a show? Sure, there are heavier songs and more chilled out songs. But I don’t want there to ever be a dead moment. I want everything to have an intense vibe and good energy to it.”
Disgusting dealt primarily with self-hatred. This time around, on Aggressive, there’s a different type of aggressiveness driving the proceedings thematically. “Look at an orchestra: nobody is saying a word but some people literally live and die for it. It touches you. It moves you,” Shomo points out. “I do not want to be one of those people leading people into a weird place with the lyrics just because they’re captivated by something else in the song. I want people singing along to things that empower them, that make them want to go out and experience life in new ways.”
What once belonged solely to Caleb Shomo in his basement has been shared with the world, connecting in once unimaginable with an increasingly broadening audience. Now BEARTOOTH belongs to the people as much as it did to the person. Aggressive is an inevitable evolution, as BEARTOOTH sinks its bite into the world.
INSANE CLOWN POSSE
When Insane Clown Posse emerged from the darkness surrounding Detroit’s underground music scene in the early ’90s, the world had yet to imagine the impact that the face painted duo’s hardcore, hip-hop style would bear on mainstream music.
Over the course of several Gold and Platinum albums, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope have shared their Dark Carnival mythology with the world, through their lyrics which range from the philosophic to the humorous and through their over-the-top live performances (the Clowns’ most infamous concert tradition: Dousing the crowd with hundreds of gallons of Faygo soda). The duo’s millions of fans — known as ‘Juggalos’ — have become one of the most studied and talked-about musical subcultures of all time.
Many of their albums, including the Platinum-selling “The Great Milenko” and “The Amazing Jeckel Brothers” have become true classics of the horrorcore rap genre. Additionally, Insane Clown Posse’s annual Gathering of the Juggalos has grown to become one of North America’s most eclectic and celebrated summer music festivals. Their most recent two-part album “The Marvelous Missing Link” opened at #2 on the Billboard Top 10 Rap Chart and member Shaggy 2 Dope’s solo album “F.T.F.O.M.F.” opened at the coveted #1 spot on the Billboard Independent Charts.
Thanks to their bestselling albums, compilations, music videos, professional wrestling promotion (Juggalo Championship Wrestling), films, outrageous events, television shows (“Insane Clown Posse Theater”) and unprecedented merchandise success, Insane Clown Posse has smashed through the ceiling of the music industry’s expectations to create a bona fide entertainment empire that shows no signs of stopping
The Blood of Gods Mythos:
The story of GWAR is carved across the history of this barren and hopeless planet, but GWAR themselves are not of this world… their story begins in the deepest reaches of outer space. Long ago, the beings who would become the rock band GWAR were part of an elite fighting force, the Scumdogs of the Universe. For eons, they served as thralls to a supreme being known only as the Master. But one by one, each future member of the band earned a glaring reputation for being an intergalactic fuck-up. And so, they were banished, sent away on a fool’s errand to conquer an insignificant shitball floating in a dark corner of the universe; the planet Earth. Once here, GWAR shaped the face of the globe, destroying and rebuilding the natural world, and giving rise to all of human history. Aliens to some, gods and demons to others, our erstwhile Scumdogs fucked apes to create the human race, and this fateful unplanned pregnancy would prove to be truly disastrous!
Their new album, “The Blood of Gods” is nothing less than a sacred text chronicling the rise of humanity against their makers, and the massive battle between GWAR and the forces of all that is uptight and wrong with the world. Along the way, the band challenges the sins of their great mistake, from politics, pollution, and organized religion, to fast food, and factory farming. Humans are shown as what they are; a parasitical disease that must be eradicated before they suck the planet dry.
Of course, “The Blood of Gods” is the first GWAR album without the band’s fallen leader, Oderus Urungus. The title of the album refers to the loss of Oderus. and the struggles and triumphs that produced the new sound of the band. Born of adversity, “The Blood of Gods” is a sonic scar…a question asked and answered…Death cannot kill GWAR. Nothing can.
OF MICE & MEN
Strength often comes from starting over. In the aftermath of a disruption, calamity, or tragedy, there’s a process of restoration. Southern California quintet Of Mice & Men refer to it as Restoring Force. Not only does that serve as the title for the group’s third full-length album for Rise Records and follow-up to 2011 breakout The Flood, but it also sums up their unbreakable spirit. Enduring lineup shifts and a constant uphill battle to be heard, the band—Austin Carlile [lead vocals], Alan Ashby [rhythm guitars], Phil Manansala [lead guitar], Aaron Pauley [bass, vocals], and Valentino “Tino” Arteaga [drums]—emerges stronger than ever.
“What happens after a disaster? What happens after The Flood?” asks Carlile. “You return to normal. You find balance again. That’s what we felt like we were doing with this album. We officially added Aaron, and this is exactly where we needed to be with our sound. We wanted this record to bring equilibrium back to our band and music. We’re letting everyone know that we’re here to stay. We’re Restoring Force.”
Embracing that mindset, they headed to House of Loud Studios in New Jersey to record with producer David Bendeth [Paramore, Breaking Benjamin] at the start of June 2013. Through intense recording sessions, they challenged themselves and expanded their signature style. As a result, they penned pummeling, passionate, and powerful anthems that teeter between searing screams and magnetic melodies.
“David is a character,” smiles Carlile. “He brought out the best in us by pushing us to the absolute limit. That’s why we wanted to work with him from the beginning. He worked us, shaped us, and molded us. We loved him sometimes, and we hated him others. He helped us reach a new level though.”
Part of the group’s ascent involved the incorporation of Pauley into every aspect of the creative process. His soaring hooks proved the perfect counterpoint to Carlile’s crushing screams.
“It was the first time we had every actually recorded together,” Carlile goes on. “He’s our brother, and he’s an incredible vocalist. I remember one night we were doing pre-production early on, and Aaron had some reservations. He was down on himself, and he didn’t know if he was cut out for it. I told him, ‘You’re the person who delivers that final punch and emotion. You’re the one who sends it home for us. Trust yourself’. The next day, he showed me ‘Feels Like Forever’.”
The track builds from a polyrhythmic riff into an utterly unforgettable refrain. It’s artfully heavy and chaotically catchy.
“I saw Aaron’s struggle in the studio, and I had the same struggle two weeks later,” admits Carlile. “I broke down. I was mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. That song takes me back to making this record. When we finished it, I was so reassured. You can always come out of any low point.”
Elsewhere on the record, “Bones Exposed” snaps from staggering guitars into a percussive onslaught led by the frontman’s inimitable growl and cinematic lyrics.
“This one’s heavier,” he affirms. “I was bitter, angry, hurt, and wounded. It’s about somebody you really don’t like at the moment. At the same time, we’re all broken. We’re all messed up. We’re all liars. We’re all sinners. We’re all flawed. None of us are perfect so you have to let it go at some point. It’s like a cut. If you leave it alone, it heals. Otherwise, you scratch it until the bones are exposed.”
Meanwhile, “Would You Still Be There?” merges the melodic and metallic seamlessly, and “You’re Not Alone” seesaws between an uplifting refrain and guttural verse. The latter touches on a larger theme for Carlile.
“The theme of the record is togetherness, working together, and being a family,” he reveals. “I want our listeners to know they’re not alone. We’re all going through it with them.”
The fans won’t take his words lightly. The group has become a veritable phenomenon worldwide, selling out shows across North America all the way to Australia, Europe, and beyond. The Flood reached #28 on the Billboard Top 200 and garnered praise from the New York Times, Rock Sound, Alternative Press, and more. With sales surpassing 125,000 and YouTube streams over 16,000,000, The Flood remains one of the most successful releases in 22 years of Rise Records.
In the end though, Restoring Force is a pivotal moment for Of Mice & Men that sees them gain power like never before.
“Of Mice & Men has outgrown all of us,” concludes Carlile. “It’s bigger than the individuals comprising it. It’s bigger than the album. It has become its own thing. It’s more than just a rock group. I want this album to get people thinking and talking. It’s different. There are no cryptic messages. This is purely meant to move you.”
Force has effectively been restored for Of Mice & Men, and they’re ready to conquer. — Rick Florino, November 2013
Unpredictability drives progression.
When art can’t be pigeonholed or pinned down, it elevates the very medium itself. Bad Wolves thrives on that sort of unpredictability, standing confidently at a crossroads between anthemic hard rock infectiousness and thought-provoking technically-charged heavy metal. Think a cross between the mind-numbing musical malevolence of Meshuggah and Sevendust’s timeless irresistibility, and you’re halfway there…The vision of ex-DevilDriver co-founder and previous driving force John Boecklin [drums, guitars] and vocalist Tommy Vext [Snot, Westfield Massacre] as well as Doc Coyle [guitar], Chris Cain [guitar], and Kyle Konkiel, the group’s full-length debut represents metallic evolution in its purest form.
The result of a musical journey he kicked off in 2014, Boecklin describes the style best.
“We sound like a heavy-slightly prog rock band that tunes low and cuts off most of the fat,” he explains. “Watching Faith No More on the reunion tour made my thought process change. I was standing there, and it hit me that I don’t want to be in a metal band with screaming all the time. We’re heavy, yet from track-to-track, things change quite a bit.”
“More was revealed, so more was required,” adds Vext. “The overall tonality and approach resonated with me as an opportunity to challenge myself and grow as a vocalist. I was given a platform to tap into some musical influences I hadn’t yet explored in previous bands. All in all, it was some of the most diverse, original material I’ve gotten to wrap my hands around.”
“In no rush to put together something reminiscent of [his] musical past,” Boecklin quietly wrote over the course of 2015. During summer ‘16, he entered Audio Hammer Studios with longtime collaborator Mark Lewis [Trivium, All That Remains] and tracked what would become the group’s debut album.
“Starting from scratch is never easy,” admits Boecklin. “Many musical roads were traveled before getting to what you hear today—it’s trial and error. I kept reminding myself not to do what I’ve done before. Eventually, we started to hear what we wanted.”
Now, the first single “Learn To Live” snaps from a chugging polyrhythmic riff into a hummable bridge before colliding with an undeniable refrain that’s impossible to shake and the final scream, “You’d better learn to fucking live.”
“The aim of the song was to basically challenge listeners to ask themselves, ‘Am I willing to take personal responsibility for my own happiness?’,” says Vext. “It’s a concept I use in my day-to-day life as a sober life coach. It’s meant to address situational depression, anxiety, and the disconnect from interpersonal relationships as a byproduct of social media addiction.”
Album opener “A Toast To The Ghosts” delivers a searing gut-punch punctuated by sharp succinct fretwork, smart-bomb precise percussion, and another searing vocal performance. Everything culminates on the pensive and punishing “Blood and Bones.” Vext adds, “It’s like an open letter to an abusive relationship partner that no longer serves you or the opposing counterpart. It’s left open to interpretation.”
Defined by a push-and-pull between incalculable instrumentation and soaring melodies, Bad Wolves will keep listeners guessing and thinking on their path to hard rock and metal supremacy.
“This is something new for me,” Boecklin leaves off. “It’s the most unique drumming I’ve ever done. Tommy has never sounded so good. The songs are much more diverse than anything from our collective past. I’d love for people to take away some sort of connection emotionally. That’s what all of the bands who inspire me do. Everything else doesn’t really matter.”
Since the beginning, Fozzy has been about hard work, dedication and delivering great rock n roll to their devoted fans worldwide; reminding them that music is all about invoking dirty, sweaty jubilation and doing it LOUDLY!
However, calling them just “entertainers” would be abridging their talent as Ward is one of the most versatile, underrated riffers in rock n roll and Jericho’s vocal range and passion for music makes one wonder just how he is able to excel in pretty much everything he does. Throw in the powerhouse rock solid drumming of Frank Fontsere, the blazing leads of Billy Grey and the genius & energy of returning bassist Paul DiLeo and it’s no surprise that Fozzy has skyrocketed into becoming one of the hottest rock acts in years.
The band inched up the ladder after releasing four progressively popular studio albums. However, it was 2012’s Sin & Bones, which featured the hit single “Sandpaper” (over 3 million views on YouTube) that found the band reaching a level of legitimacy that drew a mass audience to drink in their trademark heavy melodic groove. Sin & Bones eventually reached #143 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, but it was their next album, Do You Wanna Start A War (produced by Ward), released in the summer of 2014 that really blew the door open, debuting at #54 on Billboard and giving the band their first top 30 single in “Lights Go Out” (which was also the theme for the 2014 WWE Summerslam PPV and blared in sports arenas nationwide), along with the live favorite title track and the ABBA cover (your eyes do not deceive you),“SOS”.
But as much success the band had enjoyed, nothing compared to the juggernaut known as “JUDAS”. Released in May 2017, the song spent 5 WEEKS at NUMBER ONE on the highly influential ‘Big Uns Countdown’ on Sirius/XM’s Octane channel, amassed over 18 MILLION views for its video on YouTube and cracked the TOP 5 on the US Rock Radio Charts. With that giant hit song in their arsenal, Fozzy is now back on the road on their wildly successful Judas Rising Tour. After sharing the stage over the years with Metallica, Kiss, Avenged Sevenfold, Slash, Saxon, Theory Of A Dead Man, Drowning Pool, Steel Panther, Hardcore Superstar & Buckcherry, Fozzy is back on the stage to bring good times and great tunes to their fans around the world and elsewhere! Add in the arrival of their new album also named “Judas” on October 13, 2017, it’s the perfect time to remind the world that not only is Judas Rising, but so is Fozzy!
The Fever 333
Rhymes and riffs incite more change than bullets and bombs ever could.
Not long after the Vietnam War, Bad Brains rallied a Rastafarian punk spirit against the international blight of apartheid and the coked-out corporate greed synonymous with eighties America. Taking aim at endemic and institutional racism, Public Enemy spoke up against the Fear of a Black Planet only four months before Operation Desert Shield descended on the Middle East. Bringing blue brutality to the forefront of the zeitgeist, N.W.A. chanted “Fuck Tha Police,” and Body Count went primal on the whole program via “Cop Killer.” Rising from the same streets that gave the world Dr. Dre and eventually Kendrick Lamar, Fishbone tackled poverty and urged for social justice. The list of sonic rebels goes on and on…
In 2018, the United States of America feels ripe for a musical uprising. Divided more than ever in its 242-year history over systemic issues of immigration, race, class warfare, inequality, and misogyny, the time for change is now. The band is The Fever 333.
Comprised of vocalist Jason Aalon Butler [ex-letlive.], drummer Aric Improta [Night Verses], and guitarist Stephen Harrison [ex-the Chariot], the Los Angeles trio lock and load gnashing guitars, guttural beats, and brazenly bold bars and then pull the trigger on a hard-hitting hybrid of hip-hop, punk, and activism.
“The movement is much greater than the music,” exclaims Butler. “The art is only a contingent piece. We want to make sure we’re just as involved in the activism and actual activation. By no means do we expect other artists to take on this task. Most of the people who made big improvements were either assassinated or just called crazy. We make it ostensibly clear that everything we do is in an active effort for change. It’s about bringing back that socio-political mindfulness. We’re trying to write the soundtrack to the revolution that we know is about to happen.”
In the midst of America’s 2017 socio-political upheaval, the singer—a self-described “bi-racial double agent who’s got a black father and a white mother”—could feel the weight “of the divisions we’ve created because of race.” After meeting Travis Barker of blink-182 by chance, he spent Super Bowl Sunday with the iconic drummer and mutual friend producer John Feldman. That day, this unholy triumvirate’s conversation inspired the songs that would eventually comprise The Fever 333’s 2018 debut.
“We started talking about black punk rock,” he recalls. “Punk rock and hip-hop are one-in-the-same. They’re always flying the flag of channeling art from discord. Travis and John supported my desire to create something a little dangerous that was subservice: musically and in ethos. We opened the floodgates together.”
Around this time, the frontman made a conscious decision to disband letlive., which he founded 15 years before. Equally inspired by the teachings of Angela Davis and the words of “hood prophets” in his native “Section 8 Inglewood,” Butler’s future agenda became etched in stone.
“I appreciate my accomplishments in letlive.,” he says. “I wanted to move forward towards a very clear-cut and specific vision. Personally, artistically, mentally, emotionally, and politically, I’m very radical, left-leaning, and unapologetic in what I believe. That’s the only way to accomplish anything, whether contemporary or long-term. letlive. had done what it was supposed to. It was time for a new era.”
Feverishly writing, each session yielded more tunes. Last summer, The Fever 333 made their live debut—quite appropriately—on July 4, 2017. They hijacked the parking lot of infamous L.A. staple Randy’s Donuts (Notably, it’s a stone’s throw from South Central where the vocalist grew up). This “Political Pool Party” preceded the storm to come.
Every element made a statement—even the lineup.
“We’ve got a black guitar player, mixed race singer, and white drummer,” he goes on. “There’s a purpose.”
On their upcoming EP, that purpose can be felt loud and clear. Fittingly, their sonic declaration of independence, “We’re Coming In,” culminates on the sharp scream, “We’re coming in, motherfucker!”
“It’s about pulling the fuck up at The White House and having a discourse with our current administration and cabinet about how what they’re doing affects us,” he sighs. “The middle class will soon be eradicated. We’re showing face in hopes to create an empathetic capsule.”
“Hunting Season” stands among a long lineage of anthems for “people of color versus the authority and that vicious cycle.” “Made In America” ignites a clarion call of buzzsaw riffing, a volley of vicious verses, and another powder keg chant.
“This country’s wealth and success were built on the backs of slaves,” he sighs. “We’re all immigrants. It’s about the fucking facts. The people in power benefit from that.”
“Walking In My Shoes” doesn’t just title another banger; it serves as the banner for The Fever 333’s activism. The Walking In My Shoes Foundation will host speakers, launch art installations, promote storytellers, and benefit partner charities such as Downtown Los Angeles-based Inner City Arts, The ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and more.
In the end, the revolution truly starts with The Fever 333.
“‘The Fever’ involves self-possessed autonomous human beings spreading an idea of understanding and empathy from one mind to another,” he leaves off. “It’s infectious. Three is the magic number. The strongest shape in geometry is the triangle with its three points. ‘C’ is the third letter in the alphabet. The ‘Three C’s’ are ‘Community, Charity, and Change.’ The people who want to invest in this are as fucking important as we are. By invest, I don’t mean sales or awards; I mean success towards making this revolution a reality. Our generation has so much power. We have these systems in place that are completely fucked, but we’re up next. If we can rally together and cultivate this strength and solidarity, I believe we can be the change.”
FROM ASHES TO NEW
Lancaster, Pennsylvania is one of a hundred similar American towns; in fact, there are places just like it all over the world: post-industrial but still largely working class, and generally offering bleak prospects for the kids who grow up there. Suburban boredom, broken families, substance abuse, limited opportunity – this is an environment in which authentic, compelling creativity can thrive, if it’s accompanied by a burning desire, unstoppable drive, and complete lack of any backup plan. There have always been powerful voices that rise above the din of mediocrity and monotony. The voice of From Ashes to New founder and frontman Matt Brandyberry is one of those that is forcing itself to be heard.
Matt’s lifelong interest in music progressed along a wide-ranging path: he was ardent hip-hop fan who wrote rhymes while in junior high, then learned piano and guitar. He pursued music with a passion, ignoring warnings from naysayers around him who shook their fingers in disapproval, asserting that he was doomed to fail and would never amount to anything.
His early musical efforts were straight-up rap, and he couldn’t get anything happening with it. “People would say, ‘You aren’t a rapper. You are white. Just quit. Just get a real job.’ And I eventually thought I would be that regular 9 to 5 guy.”
To make matters worse, Matt was making bad choices. “Most of what I have done has been a failure,” he admits with an unsettling candor. “Things I fell into. Things I believed. I was pretty damn good at baseball, but I made bad choices. I ruined it. I fell into a bad crowd, getting in trouble, and partying too much. I was doing things I shouldn’t have been doing instead of following what could have been a career choice.”
Matt found a steady job as a cable TV installer, and had to relegate writing and performing to his off hours and weekends. Rap gave way to joining local rock bands, but his creative contributions ended up being frustratingly limited.
He was making good money doing the 9 to 5, but he didn’t have an outlet for the powerful music he was starting to hear in his head, and the voices of people who discouraged him grew louder and almost caused Matt to lose his focus.
This roadblock seemed insurmountable. Matt realized that he himself possessed the power to overcome the negativity and spitefulness he felt around him. Confidence was something that was totally under his control. An internal voice told him to press forward with his own creativity.
By pushing past the negativity with From Ashes to New, a rock band with a point of view, Matt found his voice, performing powerful songs that speak of redemption, liberation, and personal salvation.
Matt used money from a workers compensation settlement to begin the FATN journey. At the time, it seemed like yet another questionable choice. Investing his life savings into what amounted to an underground studio-only project, Matt did so in order to generate the quality recordings which eventually got the band some attention.
Negativity threatened to derail From Ashes To New’s dreams once again when several band members jumped ship after the band signed to Better Noise Records. But this became another opportunity, as the band evolved a tighter unit, most recently adding guitarist Lance Dowdle, formerly of hard rock band Emphatic, who adds his own passion and energy. “The current lineup reflects the true spirit of the band,” Matt says, “and we can’t wait to play for fans all over the world”
“Through It All,” the band’s breakthrough first single, has launched their sound onto the radio and created multiple touring opportunities. Matt recounts, “There’s always someone involved in our lives that in the end seems to change us. A friend, a family member, a significant other, sometimes we’re left to wonder if it was for better or for worse. Often times we don’t know what we have until it is gone.”
“Lost And Alone is a song about feeling lost and hopeless in today’s society. No matter how many times it feels like we have something to hold onto, that something always seems to find a way to escape us. It paints the picture of the bitter reality that we have to take matters into our own hands and not rely on the world to save us,” Matt explains.
Ultimately, From Ashes to New’s message is true to life, raw, and genuine. Their music is a testament to positive inspiration for the people of the world that they, too, can take risks and not settle into an expected life of mediocrity.
“We are only regular if we make ourselves regular. We are what we tell ourselves we are,” Matt says. “Some of our fans tell us they feel things are hopeless and I tell them, ‘You have to believe in yourself before anyone else can.'”
Formed in Queens, NY in 2012, the hard rock quintet and nu-metal revivalists Sylar devastate and entrance listeners with their crushing riffs and melodic choruses. While the band is made up of singer Jayden Panesso, guitarist/vocalist Miguel Cardona, guitarist Dustin Jennings, bassist Travis Hufton, and drummer Thomas Veroutis, the band uses the studio like an extra instrument. Heavily produced, with angular edits, heavily gated guitars and hip-hop influenced beats and vocals, the band create a unique sound that is all their own. For their sophomore album and Hopeless Records Debut Help!, Sylar enlisted veteran producer Erik Ron (Escape The Fate, I Prevail, Hands Like Houses) who helped the band create a record that is impossible to not bob your head to.
DEVOUR THE DAY
Formed in the final weeks of 2012, Blacktop Mojo began cutting their teeth in the numerous country venues that Texas has to offer, but the guys never quite felt like they belonged. With each song they wrote, the vocals got less twangy and the sound from the amps became more gravelly and distorted until the guys had found their own unique blend of heavy southern rock. Through touring, the band has played with many national acts such as Bon Jovi, Sammy Hagar, Aaron Lewis, Daryl “DMC” McDaniels, Candlebox, Drowning Pool, Puddle Of Mudd, Smile Empty Soul, Audiotopsy, and Whiskey Myers.
After running the highways for two years in support of their debut album, I Am (2014), in July of this year the band loaded their gear in the van and made a trip to Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville, as well as FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL to make their sophomore effort entitled, Burn the Ships. In addition to the producer of the band’s first record, Philip Mosley, the band brought in co-producer, Jimmy Johnson of the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound studios as well as his long-time engineer, Steve Melton (Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Rolling Stones, Bob Seger) to bring a seasoned sonic quality to their brand of raw, grungy rock.
The band caught the public eye in in April of 2016 when they released a music video for their cover of Aerosmith’s 1973 classic hit “Dream On” which has since gone viral with over 1.4 million views on YouTube.
Burn The Ships was released March 10th of 2017 garnering critical acclaim in both US and European press outlets including Loudwire, Revolver Magazine, Outburn Magazine, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, and many more. Team Rock’s Classic Rock Magazine, is quoted as saying “Blacktop Mojo might just be America’s next big rock band.”
Other notable highlights from 2017 include winning a contest to open for Bon Jovi at American Airlines Arena in Dallas, TX and being invited to SXSW by Gibson Guitars to appear on Sammy Hagar’s “Rock and Roll Road Trip” TV show on AXS. The band performed the Montrose classic “Rock Candy” with Sammy Hagar and Daryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run DMC for the show. The band’s single “Where The Wind Blows” was Top 40 on the Active Rock Charts.
There’s an unwavering conviction running through Stone Broken’s Spinefarm Records debut, Ain’t Always Easy; the notion of taking a leap of faith in order to grab control of one’s own destiny, seizing precious moments and living your very best life, with no apologies or regrets. It’s a philosophy close to the heart of Stone Broken frontman Rich Moss, and a credo which fuels the band’s desire to take on the world with their music.
At the beginning of the decade, Moss had abandoned his life-long dream of becoming a professional musician, following the tragic death of a former bandmate who suffered from alcohol addiction. Years spent poring over guitar magazines, practising in his bedroom and playing gigs around the Black Country and the West Midlands were filed away as memories, as Wolverhampton-born Moss built a successful career as an analyst.
Yet the idea that there must be more to life persisted. In 2013, after four years away from music, he formed Stone Broken with guitarist Chris Davis, bassist Kieron Conroy and long-time musical soulmate Robyn Haycock on drums – the four of them determined and willing to make sacrifices in pursuit of their dreams.
“The very first song I wrote for this band is called ‘This Life’ and it’s about taking what you’re good at and using it as a vehicle to move forward, because you only have one shot at life,” says Moss. “We all came into this band a lot more mature and with a greater understanding of the industry, and we agreed between us there should be no half-measures.”
The group’s first declaration of intent came with 2014’s self-financed, self-released EP, The Crow Flies, a calling card largely intended to secure local gigs. But it was the release, in January 2016, of debut album All In Time which truly amplified the word-of-mouth buzz around the band from a whisper to a scream. With Kerrang! Radio and Planet Rock picking up on storming opening track ‘Not Your Enemy’, the anthemic ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘Stay All Night’, plus the bruised and beautiful ‘Wait For You’, an ever-expanding audience was alerted to the fact that here was an emerging British outfit with the riffs, the choruses and songwriting smarts to make its mark on the global stage.
“We never conceived anything to fit into a scene,” continues Rich, “we just wrote the kind of music we listen to. We saw bands such as Shinedown, Black Stone Cherry, Halestorm and Alter Bridge as our peers. People understand that we’re here because we love what we do.”
In early 2017, following a lengthy European tour, the musicians entered Long Wave Recording Studios in Cardiff to work once again with All In Time producer Romesh Dodangoda (Motörhead, Bring Me The Horizon,Twin Atlantic) on their second album. The result, the 11 track Ain’t Always Easy, is compelling proof that the Walsall quartet are ready to stand toe-to-toe with the biggest names on the contemporary hard rock scene.
Loaded with state-of-the-art arena-friendly anthems, Ain’t Always Easy is one of the most assured British rock albums of recent times. From stirring opener and first single ‘Worth Fighting For’ through to the blissful ‘The Only Thing I Need’, this is an absorbing, deeply heartfelt collection which marries important issues, both personal and pressing, to instantly accessible, granite-hard hard rock.
One might trace a path from ‘Other Side Of Me’ through ‘Doesn’t Matter’ and on to ‘I Believe’ to see an unfolding triptych tracing Moss’ journey from bedroom dreamer through to rock-star-in-waiting, the frustrations of working nine to five poured into punchy, inspirational lyrics yearning for a shot at the big stages.
“Honestly, you can be anything you wanna be,” sings Moss on ‘I Believe’. “I’ve got a feeling you’re gonna have the time of your life.”
“‘I Believe’ isn’t a note to self as such,” Moss reflects, “but it’s related to my relationship with music over the years. As a teenager, I’d flick through guitar magazines and see these rock stars and think, ‘I want to do that’, and at this point in my life it’s me telling myself and the band that we need that same self-belief to move to bigger stages.”
Elsewhere, the album deals with the pain of addiction (‘Let Me See It All’, ‘Just A Memory’), loss (‘Anyone’), homesickness (the beautifully affecting ‘Home’) and, in the most striking, stark terms – with lyrics such as “I hear her screaming from the bedroom, it’s the same thing I heard last night…” – domestic abuse (‘Heartbeat Away’), a subject Moss admits is painfully close to home.
“It comes from experiences that I’ve seen personally, so it’s a heartfelt song, about the impact on the person and those around them,” he states. “With ‘This Life’, we’d get a lot of people telling us that it got them through a rough patch, and I’m hoping that ‘Heartbeat Away’ might offer some strength and support to anyone similarly affected.”
Set for release via Spinefarm Records on March 2nd 2018, Ain’t Always Easy promises to place Stone Broken at the forefront of an emboldened, increasingly fertile British rock scene… and beyond.
“Who doesn’t like big, driving riffs and massive choruses?” asks Spinefarm’s Head Of A&R Dante Bonutto rhetorically. ”At last, a UK band with the sound and the attitude to make it possible for them to compete with rock’s elite.”
“The success of the first album took us by surprise, but we always wanted the follow-up to break down more barriers and get us to the next level where we can step up on a global scale,” says Moss. “We’ve already got fans in the US, and they tell us they can easily imagine us on the radio there. Every rock band dreams of success in America, but we feel we’re ready.”
“Among our fans – The Broken Army – there’s a massive buzz around everything we’re doing at the moment,” the vocalist/guitarist adds. “This is a really good time to be in this band, and now we just want everyone to hear exactly why.”
“Anticipation for the new album is high,” acknowledges Robyn Haycock, “especially given how high we set the bar with All The Time. But, as a band, I think we’ve pushed ourselves even harder this time. We’re so proud of this record, and so excited for what lies ahead.”
One life. One band. One vision. For Stone Broken, the time is now.