Τετάρτη, 22 Μαρτίου 2017

HEAVY LOAD Back Catalog To Be Reissued; More Things To Come


No Remorse Records and Gabriel Management are immensely proud to present something on many Heavy Metal fans wish list: the most exciting series of re-issues of the decade.

They are widely held as the band that started the whole Swedish Heavy Metal wave with their first album in 1978. In addition, they are regarded as the first Viking Metal band in the world. HEAVY LOAD, a name that electrifies fans around the globe. A band - a name that never ceased to reverberate and fascinate. In fact, a list of the bands that officially admit that they were influenced or inspired by this mythical Swedish act could turn out to be endless. 


Due to the  famous flood that  devastated Thunderload Studios back in 2001 (one meter of water for five hours), the HEAVY LOAD tapes had been evacuated, scattered, misplaced and believed to be damaged beyond repair. After arduous efforts trying to find and restore the tapes, the band´s founding members Ragne and Styrbjörn Wahlquist discovered that the recordings could be re-mastered.

These legendary albums have been out of print since the eighties. Bootlegs with poor sound quality have been abundant, and they are continuously selling in increasing numbers to new audiences around the world. In fact, no licensed CDs have ever been made (despite their often legal appearances) except for the rare Japanese releases from the Eighties. But, for ages, fans, journalists, musicians influenced by the band, as well as people of the music industry have tried to persuade Ragne and Styrbjörn to reissue their original recordings on both CD and vinyl LP. And now, at last, they will.


In order to guarantee the best sound quality, the reissued LPs and CDs will be remastered directly from the original analogue tapes. This will be done by Ragne and Styrbjörn themselves at Atlantis Grammofon in Stockholm – one of the few studios that still have the capacity to handle recordings the old analogue way. Now, finally, you will be able to hear the albums the way they were meant to be.

These official reissues will be expanded with bonus tracks. Some of these tracks have never been heard by the public before – demos and songs recorded for the albums which had to be dropped due to the limited playing time on LPs. The reissues will be available both as CDs (in deluxe digipak packages) and vinyl LPs (in gatefold covers). Both the CDs and the LPs will have the same bonus tracks. The CD covers will be coupled with great booklets, designed by the Wahlquist brothers themselves. Both the CD and the LP booklets will feature previously unpublished photos, as well as stories about how the songs came about.


HEAVY LOAD was founded in 1975 by two brothers: Ragne Wahlquist (vocals, keyboards and guitar) and Styrbjörn Wahlquist (vocals and drums). In 1978 HEAVY LOAD released their first album "Full Speed at High Level" - during an era when the Swedish media and record industry claimed that Hard Rock was dead and that the band was doomed to fail. The Wahlquist brothers’ vision has always been the core of what HEAVY LOAD was all about. So after expanding the band with a second guitarist, they founded their own recording facility, the famous Thunderload Studios, along with their own label, Thunderload Records. On their own label, they released timeless classics such as "Metal Conquest" (1981), "Death Or Glory" (1982) and "Stronger Than Evil" (1983) by HEAVY LOAD.


At last, due to an epic pact between the band and No Remorse Records, the back catalogue will be made available again. This series of ultimate reissues will start in the early Summer of 2017, with their last album "Stronger Than Evil" and continue back through their production.

But that’s not all of it. Far from it! As 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of their debut album, HEAVY LOAD prepares something special. Something special to DEFY THE POWERS OF THE DARK SEA.

HEAVY LOAD Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/heavyloadofficial
NO REMORSE RECORDS: www.noremorse.gr
GABRIEL MANAGEMENT: www.gabrielmanagement.eu

Παρασκευή, 6 Ιανουαρίου 2017

The metal albums we enjoyed most in 2016

2016 was a great year for metal music. When you are working in music industry and being part of a record label, store, magazine and website, you are associated with musicians, labels, promoters and editors daily, so metal besides of music, is your reality. One more year, I had the opportunity to listen to many new albums, but still, no one can say that listened everything. Everyone who claims that, is wrong. Also, you need to check the physical format to have the complete experience of an album, and not just have a quick listen on social networks, downloads or whatever. There are also the unlucky ones (the albums that released during December) that haven't got all the proper attention, since a few plays are not enough.

Below you will find (for start) 10 albums that I enjoyed most in 2016, and some of them (like 'The Eternalist') will follow me for the years to come, as pure classics.

1. AGATUS - The Eternalist
14 years have passed since the last Agatus album ('The Weaving Fates', 2002) but this long wait worth’s every single day, because with this release we witness history in the making. 'The Eternalist' is a genre-breaking album that captures the soul and passion of metal music through the visionary mind of its creator, Eskarth The Dark One. The Dark is without doubt a pure artist, a multi-instrumentalist, a creator with original ideas and vision. With the precious help and creative input of Vorskaath (Zemial), The Dark is offering to the metal universe an artistic creation that combines elements like the passion of Bathory, Warlord and ’70s-inspired prog melodies (in the vein of Eloy); epic majesty and pure metal that through the eyes and heart of The Dark transcends to a unique soundscape of dark heavy metal.

2. ETERNAL CHAMPION - The Armor Of Ire
Hammers, balls, guts and epic metal. One of the underground metal highlights of 2016 inspired by the Legends.

3. SUMERLANDS - Sumerlands
Genuine 80s metal worship and Phil Swanson on mic. Catchy, inspired, riff-driven and passionate, this is the kind of heavy metal we are looking (and praying) for, in the years to come.

4. FATES WARNING - Theories Of Flight
A great album by an old 80s established band. This is not something you see very often but Fates is not an ordinary band. 'Theories Of Flight' is the band's best album since 'A Pleasant SHade Of Gray' and it is filled with melody, their "regular" top notch songwriting, the best Ray Alder since ages and the heavy presence of Bobby Jarzombek. 

5. TAROT - Reflections
Do you miss Pagan Altar? 'Reflections' is the first full-length album of Tarot from Australia, after 'The Warrior's Spell', that was actually a compilation of the band's EPs. Nostalgic and beautiful, 'Reflections' is made of dreams, eerie landscapes and poetry, transformed in pure artistic music.

6. ASSASSIN'S BLADE - Agents Of Mystification
Another great debut album for 2016. A Swedish mob join forces with singer Jacques Belanger (ex-Exciter) and deliver us a pure metal offering inspired by Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Manilla Road and the spirit of Heavy Metal.

7. KHEMMIS - Hunted
Just a year after their debut full-length album ('Absolution'), the doomsters from Denver, Colorado, return with the perfect follow-up keeping their momentum strong. Once again, a great cover catches your eye before you even listen to the five songs herein. 'Hunted' is dominated by melody, the emotional vocal performance and along with gigantic riffs and the menhir-solid rhythm section it is irritant bizarre and defies the borders of traditional doom metal. 

8. THE TEMPLE - Forevermourn
Doom metal is perhaps the hardest sub-genre of our precious music sphere to get right. It really needs spirit and true passion to achieve the right result. All the songs on 'Forevermourn' seem to be forged and conceived from sorrow, regret and struggle, inspired by bands like Solstice, Warning and Isole. This is true doom metal indeed and so few new bands can truly claim that heavy crown.

9. SPELLCASTER - Night Hides The World
These guys, from Oregon, USA, have a great evolution and you won’t believe how good their third (and best so far) album is. 'Night Hides The World' is diverse and full of catchy, feel-good melodies. It might bring you in mind to a few of the (real) greats in metal, from bits of the Alder-era Fates Warning to Queensryche and Iron Maiden.

10. SACRED STEEL - Heavy Metal Sacrifice
Well, if you want to experience Heavy Metal in its purest form, you can't go wrong with Sacred Steel. Every time I listen an album by this German metal armada, I pray to transferred in their live shows at once.


Top 5 + 1 EPs / singles

1. SOLSTICE - To Sol A Thane
Loud uncompromised epic metal. Not for cunts.

2. WATCHTOWER - Concepts Of Math: Book One
Decades in the making, the line-up of 'Control And Resistance' cannot fail.

The Doomfather (Leif Edling) with Niklas Stalvind (Wolf) on vocals, deliver us 4 tracks from the Sabbath catacombs. 

4. ASCALON - Reflections
UK vigilantes and probably the best newcomers of the so called "new wave of traditional heavy metal"

5. MAUSOLEUM GATE - Metal And The Might
A unique blend of 70s sounds, obscure metal and personality.

Available only during their first live shows of the final tour, this is a special edition that contains 4 new studio tracks and 4 live recordings. Those 4 new tracks are in the usual Sabbath standards. Meaning, best of the best.

2016 was a great year for metal music. After many many years, QUICKSAND DREAM released their second album 'Beheading Tyrants' and that was a really nice surprise for 2016! Doomy epic metal with beautiful melodies and a great aura surrounding the songs. Portoguese metal warriors RAVENSIRE released their best effort yet, 'The Cycle Never Ends', in the beginning of 2016 and this is what you need before the battle in order to destroy your enemies and drink blood from their skulls.

DANG 'Monstrum Ex Machina' is the absolute outsider of 2016. A great multi dimensional album with 70s rock and prog elements, doom metal, heavy atmosphere and monsters from the underworld. Completely "outside of the box" is also the latest artistic creation of ZEMIAL 'The Repairer Of Reputations' that is available only digital at the moment, but you need to check it yourself.

Two classic US power metal acts had a killer comeback. HELSTAR with 'Vampiro' and METAL CHURCH with 'XI'. The latest album of METAL CHURCH was marked by the return of vocalist Mike Howe and even if few of the previous albums with Ronny Munroe on vocals were really good, it seems that this album was what fans wanted. On the other hand, the latest HELSTAR albums were not really good and had a more aggressive edge, that wasn't welcome by many of their fans, but 'Vampiro' is their best effort since their golden years in the 80s.

From older bands, the line-up change in German power metal legends RAGE was a relief for captain Peavey and 'The Devil Strikes Again' was indeed a strike we were looking for, from this great band. However, the real captain Rock n' Rolf returned with RUNNING WILD and 'Rapid Foray', and even if there are some strongs ideas and songs in the album, he really needs to consider again the band's line-up. I think that a call to Jorg Michael (drums) will be something that fans will really appreciate.

New (or close to "new") bands had also their share in 2016 with cool and enjoyable albums like MONUMENT ('Hair Of The Dog'), DEXTER WARD ('Rendezvous With Destiny'), HIGH SPIRITS ('Motivator') BLAZON STONE ('War Of The Roses'), HITTEN ('State Of Shock'), MONASTERIUM ('Monasterium') and WYTCH HAZEL ('Prelude') but few other not so new bands like SPIRITUS MORTIS ('The Year Is One') and WIDOW ('Carved In Stone') were nearly to the very best.

Besides what I really liked in 2016, there were many more albums and bands that must be mentioned if you want to have a right and correct retrospect, but this is not the point here. However, it is always important for the metal universe when a brand name like METALLICA or MEGADETH has a new album out there, but let's keep this for other sites.

What should we expect in 2017? A new album from the other few brand names is needed. Let's say that in my dreams I am expecting an album from OZZY in the vein of 'Bark At The Moon' and 'The Ultimate Sin' but let's stay on earth, where we are waiting for new albums from HEIR APPARENT, SOLSTICE, PAINFUL PRIDE and SAXON.

News are expected on the MANILLA ROAD family, too. Three albums are ready and scheduled for release during 2017. The new MANILLA ROAD album, the new HELLWELL album where Mark Shelton is working again with Randy 'Thrasher' Foxe on drums, and also a project where Mark Shelton is working with Rick Fisher on drums.

While BLACK SABBATH is coming to an end, Tony Iommi will probably compose music easier and according to some rumors he will might write few songs with Tony Martin that probably will be part in the future (?) reissues of albums like 'Headless Cross' and 'Tyr'. Meanwhile, since he already wrote a song like 'How Good It Is', we are expecting more surprises.

Have a great, healthy and lucky 2017.

Κυριακή, 20 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Jarvis Leatherby (Night Demon) interview. Heavy Metal is the law.

Night Demon from Ventura, California was born in May of 2011 and the current line-up is Jarvis Leatherby (vocals, bass), Armand John Anthony (guitars) and Dustin Squires (drums).
Their first s/t EP was released in 2012 and was a shock for the traditional metal scene, followed by their first full-album "Curse Of The Damned" in January of 2015 by SPV/Steamhammer. Been active with many live shows and extended tours, Night Demon have been established as one of the leading forces of the new wave of traditional heavy metal. 

Jarvis Leatherby has become one of the most respectful persons in the metal scene today and besides Night Demon, he is also the man responsible for Frost & Fire Festival and the reunion of Cirith Ungol, where he also handles bass duties. So, there aren't many people out there suitable for a similar interview where we simply discuss the present status of heavy metal music.

-Let's take a short break from your Night Demon tour and talk for a while for what your are doing almost every night lately, Heavy Metal. But first of all, how the tour is going?

J.: Tour went well. It’s actually over now. I can’t even believe it! I don’t know what to do with myself.  

-What's the diferences of the European metal fans, with the ones in the United States?

J.: I think there are very passionate fans in both places. Really they are all the same. I think that’s a common misconception. I will say that metal is much more popular in Europe and there are more die hard fans by volume, but in America there are many metalhead who live the lifestyle and are true supporters. They don’t have as many opportunities to see metal festivals and certain bands, so they make the dedication to travel to those events, and support those bands when they come to town. But basically metalhead are metalhead anywhere you go in the world.  

-What kind of hypes do you recognize in the metal scene over the last years? 

J.: It’s hard to say now with the internet being so popular. Obviously in mainstream metal, there’s still a lot of tough guy stuff, a lot of down tuning, and radio rock. That stuff will always be popular in middle America and other parts of the globe, and real metalhead don’t listen to that stuff, but I also see doom metal and stoner being more of a current trend in underground music. Maybe its not a trend, but it definitely has been more popular as of late.

-Is regression the new mainstream in metal music? In the present decline of the physical format, it seems more and more record labels (even major ones) sign and release what we might call "true" in metal music.

J.: Well I think that maybe some of the bigger labels are getting smarter business wise to sign try metal acts. The reason not necessarily being that they love true metal music and want to be that sort of label, but the fact is that true metal fans will always buy physical media or digital. Not the case with most mainstream music, so it seems to be a good move for the labels financially.

-How would you define "true", and such a term should exist? 

J.: I would honestly describe that as meaning that a band is not fake. Meaning they don’t follow current trends too closely, there is some originality there, and they mean what they do. No matter what style of music a band is playing, you can easily spot when someone is not being genuine with what they do. I don’t mind the term “true”, but I don’t like when people in the scene take on this term to mean that they have the right to call anyone else a poser who they don’t think is “true”. People need to be able to be who they are and listen to what ever the hell music they want to without some internet bully telling them they can’t.

-Many old and underground metal bands are reformed and even more new ones are born. Various festivals grow here and there and small record labels appear everywhere. Is everything so easy in our days? For me, wrong people and intentions are spread everywhere making things harder for those who really "know how", but what's your view on this?

J.: Well nothing ever with it in life comes super easy. When you truly follow your passion inline, there will be many obstacles  in the way, and they will never stop coming, but its really all part of the bigger plan. When you take these things on it can also be enjoyable. Accomplishing things in the face of adversity, especially following your passion, you can’t do any wrong, and you should never let anyone tell you that. Or don’t let it affect you, at least. There will always be people in this business for the wrong reasons. The only thing anyone can do about that, is stay away from them and keep doing your own thing. Those people always fall apart in the end and their true intentions will always show. You don’t need to waste your valuable time and energy trying to bring someone else down. They will do it on their own. Also, what does that say about young try and do that to someone else? You become the same thing you despise at that point. There’s enough room in this world for everyone.

-Old farts die hard. For sure there are some 80s metal bands that live and breath for metal and you can't easily stop them from what they love to do. How would you seperate them from the "fake ones", what is fake for you and who from those bands are the most important and/or best for you? 

J.: It’s a difficult question you have posed here.  I will answer and explain the best way I can…
I think its safe to say we can all agree that any historically great band from the old school at one point in time had integrity, originality, hard work, passion, and a great vision. Now some bands will continue to do this throughout their careers, or the opposite happens. They grow older, things change, they lose sight of why they started to begin with, and they go off in other selfish directions and the whole thing falls apart, or even worse, the band continues to do their thing for the wrong reasons and it shows.

Another scenario is when sometimes a band reunites for the first time in over decades of not only performing together, but also not even being in contact with one another. A lot of things can happen during the course of that time. People change. Even if the reunion has good vibes around it, there is an adjustment period. Often times you also have these bands that reunite after all these years, and want to take on a trendy or current rock and roll image. They want to be relevant in some sort of modern way. I can imagine that as an old man going out there, one would want to seem young and hip as they were in the days that fans know them from. However, this is a double edged sword. The fans like the old school style and fashion and that’s what they really want to see.

-From your experience and your live performaces, which are the best metal festivals out there?

J.: Keep it True, Muskelrock, Up the Hammers, Frost and Fire, Ragnarokkr, Defenders of the Old, Pounding Metal, Bang Your Head.

-Speaking for festivals, you are also the brain of Frost and Fire festival (Ventura, CA, USA) and this year in the second edition of the festival, you are behind the Cirith Ungol reunion. What made you start this festival and which are your goals?

J.: Yes, I started it in their honor. Cirith Ungol and Night Demon are the only two metal bands to ever break out of Ventura California, and as we all know Cirith Ungol started it all. Those guys are my best friends, and it’s been a true honor being the band’s manager and bass player. We are having a lot of fun, and have a lot more to come!

As far as the festival, it is something that I plan on keeping as an annual event. I was on the fence abut it before because my touring schedule is always so demanding, and I always want to make myself available for those opportunities, but after this last year, I saw how much fun everyone had and how important the whole thing was to so many people, so now I feel a definite responsibility to keep this going and pride myself on being the best heavy metal festival in America. That is my goal.

-Who are the new bands you distinguish from the present metal scene and why?

J.: Visigoth, Blade Killer, Black Trip, High Spirits, Warbringer, Midnight Chaser, Cauldron, Enforcer.
There are many more, but off the top of my head these bands represent what “true” means. It’s not the style the play, but their intent when they do it. 100% integrity all the time. They are all serious about what they do, but are also willing to have a good time with it.

-How would you describe the "proper" Heavy Metal fan / supporter?

J.: There is no proper way. If you like it, support it however you can and want to. I know one thing is that in Night Demon we are completely committed to what we do. We feel just as much responsibility to support our audience as we feel we want them to support us. We strive on putting on the best live show possible, traveling all over the world to visit anywhere the fans will have us, big or small. It’s give and take. Respect is earned, and everyone should think of it as a collaborative relationship.

-Last words. Give me something the readers will be glad to read!

J.: Lots of exciting things coming up!  New Night Demon album and European tour coming in April 2017, Cirith Ungol European festival appearances in 2017, and of course most and Fire III in October 2017 in Ventura, California.
Always stay true to yourself and thank you for supporting heavy metal. We get just as much from it as fans and as performs. Thank you!

Join Night Demon on Facebook HERE and visit www.nightdemon.net

Κυριακή, 23 Οκτωβρίου 2016

ZEMIAL present "The Repairer Of Reputations"

Three years after their last full-length album (Nykta), ZEMIAL present a new 14min track in two parts under the enigmatic title "The Repairer Of Reputations". ZEMIAL is in talks with various labels for a vinyl release and the song is already available for digital purchase and you can find it in the band's bandcamp page here
Archon Vorskaath, the multi-instrumentalist genius behind ZEMIAL, steps into new dimensions and breaking away from the norm with this new artistic creation. Far beyond the early days of Black Metal, he now transcends into progressive paths converting to music, fairytale images, dark lullabies and Tim Burton-ish nightmares.

Meanwhile, on the AGATUS camp, where Vorskaath handles the drumset, "The Eternalist" is already available on CD format by Hells Hedbangers Records and the band is rehearsing for upcoming live shows, so stay tuned...

You can read a review for "The Eternalist" I've done for Iron Fist here.

You can also read a new interview with The Dark talking about AGATUS and "The Eternalist" again on Iron Fist, here.  

Δευτέρα, 26 Σεπτεμβρίου 2016

CIRITH UNGOL - Paradise Lost

When Metal Blade Records announced that has finally been successful in licensing the rights for the reissue of 'Paradise Lost' on CD and for first time officially on vinyl, there was this statement of Robert Garven (drums) accompaning the release news: 

"The saga of Cirith Ungol's fourth album is true to its namesake 'Paradise Lost'. Like a classic Greek tragedy, it is an epic tale filled with pain, challenges, battles, lost opportunities, and final redemption. It contains a cast of heroes and villains, playing out their parts on a stage of metal, at a time when hair bands and speed metal were in vogue.
The seeds of this project grew from the fertile soil that was the aftermath of 'One Foot in Hell'. After its release the band immediately started work on their fourth effort 'Paradise Lost'. This was planned to be a concept album, and the album cover and theme had already been selected.
After its release the original record company could not secure distribution in Europe, and they released the band from its 3 album deal. Shortly thereafter, several of the remaining members left out of frustration. However, a few original members kept the fires of Ungol burning, closely guarded in its secret lair. They waited for the time when the stars were right, and the Great Old Ones were ready for it to come crawling out from its ancient crypt, back upon the metal stage. As of this writing, the being called Ungol has arisen to take its rightful place in the pantheon of true metal, and calls forth the Legions of Chaos to stand by their side to usher in its final act."

According to an older interview of Robert Garven (Steel Conjuring zine, May 2000) and also some personal email discussion I had with Robert during 2012, there were indeed many challenges, battles and lost opportunities, and more likely, this "final redemption" is more or less this 2016 reissue and the present status - reunion of CIRITH UNGOL, and perhaps not the original release of Restless Records in 1991, but lets stay in the music and talk about how legends are forged. 

Being unique from their first day, 'Paradise Lost' is the perfect follow-up to 'One Foot In Hell' and among some C.U. fans, that's their best album. I will have to disagree with that, since I consider 'King Of The Dead' as their best one, but still we are talking about a band that is balancing between perfection and... perfection. So we just share opinions and each one of the servants of chaos can choose among four perfect and unique metal albums as the "best one". 

'Paradise Lost' was out in 1991 and in 1992 CIRITH UNGOL steps into oblivion... until now. With Jerry Fogle (R.I.P.) been replaced by Jim Barraza and "Flint" by Vernon Green, we also find two additional musicians during th recording sessions (Joe Malatesta, Robert Warrenburg) with credits on the songs 'The Troll' and 'Heaven Help Us', plus a cover on the Arthur Brown's track 'Fire'.
The album starts with 'Join The Legion', a song that will drive the metal hordes crazy once it will be performed live. That intro and the vocals of Tim Baker (the voice of Chaos) cannot fail. Most people place C.U. under the "Epic Metal" banner, but that's somehow unfair for such a unique act. They have many epic elements of course, but there are also doomy moments, they are inspired by late 60s and 70s underground rock bands and the spirit of classic heavy metal is present everywhere and especially in 'Paradise Lost'. As for the last songs of the album, you cannot find easily tracks like 'Chaos Rising', 'Fallen Idols' and 'Paradise Lost' back-to-back. 

This article started as a 'Paradise Lost' reissue presentation, but you all have heard the album and you all love it (at least the readers of this blog-site), so it will end as another one CIRITH UNGOL-praise feature... and that's fine by me. Many bands have been labeled as "cult" but none deserves this title more than CIRITH UNGOL. One of the greatest metal bands.

Few days left and on the 7th of October 'Paradise Lost' will be available again and claim its place once more among the best metal releases ever. The CD version has been newly mastered from the original master tapes by Bart Gabriel and will include five bonus tracks (alternative mixes from album tracks). The vinyl edition will have a special vinyl master, using the original master tapes as a source, re-mastered by Patrick W. Engel at the Temple Of Disharmony studios. More goodies will be available in both formats, like previously unreleased photos, liner notes and song descriptions by band members.

CIRITH UNGOL will perform live for the first time in 25 years at the second installment of the Frost and Fire festival in Ventura, CA, taking place October 7th-9th, 2016.

Well, many of you have heard some rumors for something more in Europe during 2017... But until an official statement will be announced, consider this as a wish...

The might of Chaos descends, join the Legion.