During my time at Bloodstock 2012 I had the absolute joy and pleasure to meet one of my all-time musical icons, Jim Sheppard.
Being a fan of Nevermore for many many years and then discovering Sanctuary off the back of that it was great to finally meet one of the guys that helped create some of the most influential heavy metal music of the modern era.
Here’s what Jim and I chatted about in the sunny heat of Bloodstock…
Former ICED EARTH members Matt Barlow (vocals) and Freddie Vidales (bass, guitar), along with ex-NEVERMORE drummer Van Williams, have set ASHES OF ARES as the name of their brand new project.
Within months of their departures from the iconic metal bands ICED EARTH and NEVERMORE, the trio came together with a renewed drive to create a sound which is a true collaboration of their personal influences, ideas and visions. Armed with the knowledge acquired through years of the writing, touring and recording cycle, and with the support of an army of loyal fans across the globe, ASHES OF ARES is poised to carve out a new legacy and stand alongside those who have helped pave the way.
A new taste of what is to come can be heard in the YouTube clip below.
Commented Barlow: “Well, though we are still in the early stages of progress, we are really excited about what we are hearing thus far. We hope that you have patience with us as we continue with this creative process and search for a record label that will help us bring our music to you all in the best way. Thanks for all your support…. More to come!”
Barlow announced his retirement from ICED EARTH in March 2011, citing his commitment to his family and the need for the group to tour more as the reasons for his exit.
Matt Barlow: Pic courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/redoppressor
Vidales left ICED EARTH earlier this year for reasons which were not disclosed. He says, “I know from the outside it seems nuts to leave a band with so much going for it, but from the inside it made a lot of sense to me.” He adds, “I did not leave because Matt left or so we could work on this [new project], I also did not leave because of the heavy touring. I was actually glad that the touring had picked up. My reasons are private. The guys in the band know, and that’s all who need to know.”
Williams and guitarist Jeff Loomis announced their departure from NEVERMORE in April 2011 due to personal differences with the band’s lead singer, Warrel Dane, and bassist, Jim Sheppard.
Guitar extraordinaire, JEFF LOOMIS, has teamed up with Guitar World to share his shredding skills with fans. A guitar lesson for “The Ultimatum” has been posted on Guitar World, demonstrating how to play the lead guitar part of the song. “The Ultimatum” is from his most recent release, Plains of Oblivion.
Plains Of Oblivion, the new album from JEFF LOOMIS (ex-NEVERMORE), is currently streaming in it’s entirety as part of AOL’s Full CD Listening Party at this location.
Loomis is currently out on a 24-date, coast-to-coast US tour with PROTEST THE HERO, PERIPHERY, THE SAFETY FIRE and TODAY I CAUGHT THE PLAGUE. Footage of Loomis performing the tracks ‘Mercurial’ and ‘Sibylline Origin’, from the new Plains Of Oblivion album, on March 25th at the Bottom Line in Chicago, IL can be seen below:
Jeff recently revealed the quality players he’s brought in to accompany him on the stage:
Joe Nurre – guitar (SHADED ENMITY )
Gregory Macklin – bass (SYSTEM DIVIDE, ORDINANCE)
Anup Sastry – drums (INTERVALS, SKYHARBOR)
The month-long run kicked off in Chicago, IL on March 25th and wraps up in Philadelphia, PA on April 22nd.
Tour dates are as follows:
9 – St. Louis, MO – Pops
10 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave II
11 – Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
12 – Columbus, OH – The Outland Ballroom
13 – Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop
14 – Baltimore, MD – Sonar
16 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
17 – Orlando, FL – The Social
18 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln Theater
20 – New York, NY – Gramercy
22 – Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
Loomis’ new Plains Of Oblivion album was produced by Aaron Smith (7 HORNS 7 EYES).
Plains Of Oblivion tracklisting:
‘Mercurial (featuring MARTY FRIEDMAN)
‘The Ultimatum’ (featuring TONY MACALPINE)
‘Tragedy And Harmony’ (featuring CHRISTINE RHOADES)
JEFF LOOMIS has released a video teaser for his forthcoming album, Plains Of Oblivion, due out April 10. The teaser has audio snippets from every song off of the new album including “The Ultimatum” which was the first track to be revealed in its entirety last week. A guitar playthrough for “The Ultimatum” can be seen here.
The Plains Of Oblivion Video Teaser can be seen here (and below).
In support of the release, JEFF LOOMIS will be on tour with PROTEST THE HERO, PERIPHERY and THE SAFETY FIRE. A full list of dates can be seen below.
Pre-Order packages for Plains Of Oblivion are available exclusively through CMDistro and can be purchased here.
JEFF LOOMIS has released a guitar playthrough video for the track “The Ultimatum”. Featuring guest soloist Tony MacAlpine, “The Ultimatum” is the first track to be revealed off the forthcoming album, Plains of Oblivion that will be out on April 10th in North America and April 9th in Europe. The video playthrough for “The Ultimatum” can be seen below:
Pre-Orders for the new album Plains of Oblivion have just launched and are now available exclusively through CMDistro. A limited supply of pre-order packages including a CD, t-shirt and guitar pick are available for $22 and can be purchased here.
In support of the release, JEFF LOOMIS will be on tour with PROTEST THE HERO, PERIPHERY and THE SAFETY FIRE. A full list of dates can be seen below.
JEFF LOOMIS, ex-Nevermore guitar prodigy, has been added to the 24-date, coast-to-coast US tour with PROTEST THE HERO, PERIPHERY, THE SAFETY FIRE and TODAY I CAUGHT THE PLAGUE. JEFF LOOMIS reveals the quality players he’s brought in to accompany him on the stage:
Joe Nurre – guitar (Shaded Enmity)
Gregory Macklin – bass (System Divide, Ordinance)
Anup Sastry – drums (Intervals, Skyharbor)
“My good friend, Joe Nurre from up here in Seattle, will be playing guitar with me out on this run with Protest the Hero and Periphery. Some of you might have seen him play with Nevermore on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise last year. I was lucky enough to find this killer drummer online. His name is Anup Sastry, I’ve seen him do these perfect drum covers on his Youtube page. I reached out and learned he plays in a few great bands as well. You should check out all the stuff he’s done. Anup is based out in the DC area and brought in a friend of his, Greg Macklin, to do bass. Those guys are going to be getting together out there to start practicing the set. Joe and I will do the same over here and then a couple weeks before the tour, Joe and I will fly over Maryland and we’ll all rehearse until we get things perfect. I can’t wait to get out there and start playing live again. See you soon.”
The tour begins March 25th in Chicago, IL and will lead up the release of the new album, Plains Of Oblivion on April 10th, before wrapping up in Philadelphia, PA on April 22nd. Tickets for the tour go on sale in most cities this Friday, February 3rd. A full list of dates can be seen below.
For more information on JEFF LOOMIS, please visit:
After releasing a handful of updates and teasers, JEFF LOOMIS fans have been dying to know when they can expect the ex-Nevermore guitar prodigy’s forthcoming album. It is with much excitement that JEFF LOOMIS finally reveals the details of his highly anticipated sophomore effort entitled Plains of Oblivion. The new album will be released on April 10th in North America and April 9th in Europe via Century Media Records. The ten track effort will be produced by Aaron Smith (7 Horns 7 Eyes) and is some of JEFF LOOMIS’ best work yet. The full track listing and artwork for Plains of Oblivion can be seen below. JEFF LOOMIS teamed up with Colin Marks of Rain Song Design ( www.rain-song.co.uk) to create the intriguing artwork. Marks is most well known for his previous work with All Shall Perish, The End and Xerath.
Plains of Oblivion Track Listing:
01 Mercurial (featuring Marty Friedman)
02 The Ultimatum (featuring Tony MacAlpine)
03 Escape Velocity
04 Tragedy And Harmony (featuring Christine Rhoades)
05 Requiem For The Living (featuring Attila Voros)
06 Continuum Drift (featuring Chris Poland)
07 Surrender (featuring Ihsahn)
08 Chosen Time (featuring Christine Rhoades)
10 Sibylline Origin
Legendary guitarist JEFF LOOMIS has been in the studio the last few months working on his highly anticipated sophomore solo album, to be released later this year. Since entering the studio, LOOMIS has revealed a number of notable guests that will be appearing on the release and now, LOOMIS announces the newest special guest: IHSAHN, formerly of Norwegian black metal band EMPEROR and current solo artist. JEFF LOOMIS updates:
“I know most of you are aware that Christine Rhoades is doing some vocals on my album. At first I thought she’d be the only guest singer on the record but then this one song started coming together, it’s pretty brutal. I’ve always wanted to do really, really heavy music and after hearing this, both Aaron and myself thought we needed some crazy, sick singer on it. We just sat around tossing names out for a bit, nothing really was sticking and then Aaron says, ‘I got it…Ihsahn’ and it was one of those moments where you knew that was the answer all along, it just hadn’t been unlocked in your mind yet. Anyway, a few short emails back and forth and we had his vocal track in. It came out amazing. I can’t wait for you to hear it. Ihsahn, thanks again, it’s an honor to have you on my record.”
The new album will be produced by Aaron Smith (7 Horns 7 Eyes), and fans should keep their eyes peeled for previews of developing songs, studio updates and additional details.
“Follow”, a brand new song from PURE SWEET HELL, the metal band featuring former NEVERMORE drummer Van Williams, is available for streaming on the group’s official web site. The track comes off PURE SWEET HELL‘s sophomore album, “Spitting At The Stars”, which is slated for a late 2011 release.
The CD, which is currently being mastered, features guitar solos from some of heavy metal’s top shredders, including Glen Drover (EIDOLON, MEGADETH), Steve Smyth (NEVERMORE, TESTAMENT, FORBIDDEN), Chris Amott (ARCH ENEMY), Jeff Loomis (NEVERMORE) and Attila Vörös (LEANDER, NEVERMORE). John Winters (HATEFIST), who contributed in the production/engineering of the record, got a chance to lay down a solo as well.
A three-minute video clip which offers a unique perspective on the making of “Spitting At The Stars” can be seen below. Also available is the CD cover artwork.
PURE SWEET HELL’s full-length debut, “The Voyeurs of Utter Destruction As Beauty”, came out in February 2005 via Crash Music, Inc.
PURE SWEET HELL consists of Williams (drums, vocals) and Christ Eichhorn (guitar, bass), who has spent much of his time writing music and doing studio and live work with a number of bands. The group’s music can be described as a combination of thrash, black, and death metal.
Guitarist/vocalist Dean Sternberg (WITHIN ANOTHER, INTO ETERNITY), who was called upon for a guitar solo on “The Voyuers Of Utter Destruction As Beauty”, is taking on a bigger role this time and is sharing vocals on some of the tracks alongside Van.
Williams and guitarist Jeff Loomis announced their departure from NEVERMORE in April.
Legendary guitarist Jeff Loomis recently granted MetalSucks his first interview since departing Nevermore this past April. Besides chats with a few European magazines, this will be the ONLY interview Loomis grants regarding the split. He also discussed his new, yet-to-be titled solo album. Excerpts from the chat follow:
Let’s dive right in with the obvious question: From your perspective, what happened with Nevermore?
Van and I started discussing leaving Nevermore when we were on our last tour with Symphony X in Europe. Obviously, as everyone knows, Nevermore had been together since 1993, and we were very happy for many years. I think that over a period of time, with excessive touring and doing records together, we just got burnt out from one another. There were also many issues with drinking and alcohol abuse [my own] included. I’m not out to do interviews about the end of Nevermore and just zero out particular people in the band, that would be wrong and false information anyway.
We were on the last leg of the Symphony X tour and Van and I had a talk with Warrel backstage and we told him we didn’t want to continue on with the next tour with Symphony X in the States. We wanted to take some time and regroup, so to speak, and wait for Jim to come back, since he was recovering from brain surgery. Warrel really did not like that idea, but Van and I stuck with it, thinking it was a smart move to maybe start fresh at a later date. All hell kind of broke from that [discussion], because the concert promoter [in the U.S.] got pissed off, and I heard through the grapevine that we might get sued because of it. That’s pretty much when Van and I issued a statement that we were going to depart from the band.
I really just had had enough at the end. I want to do different things musically, and I think it was just better that we left. It was quite amazing, though, with all the response we got from our fans. It’s really nice to know that we affected so many people in a positive way with our music.
So you started discussing leaving the band during that tour… at that point, for how long had you known that there were serious problems within the band?
For quite some time actually… there were many problems health-wise that were kinda getting scary. Warrel had a problem with his pancreas and diabetes back in ’05, and Jim recently underwent brain surgery to remove a small brain tumor, plus he had issues with Crohn’s disease. Sometimes Jim wasn’t able to tour because of that, and we would always have to find a replacement. Troubles happen all the time in bands, and we always dealt with them. I think that over a period of time, though, that started to kind of take a toll with never having the whole original band onstage at certain times when we were on tour. People were asking tons of questions about it, and we would do the best we could with trying to explain everything, but sometimes fans wouldn’t understand or get the real picture of what was going on. So, yes, I would say from as early on as 2005, there were issues we had to deal with, medical-wise.
So… not trying to get you to talk smack or anything, but Warrel said some very not nice things about Van in the press, and claimed he had learned you guys quit via Blabbermouth. Do you have any thoughts on the way he reacted? Did he learn about the split via the internet?
Yeah, when I read [what Warrel said about Van] I was really bummed. I’ve known Warrel for twenty years now, and still, to this day, I sometimes can’t figure him out. He has known Van for almost twenty years as well, and to say something like that is really sad, especially after the numerous tours and records we have done together.
Van is the kind of guy that speaks what he believes in. He is from New York and he is my best buddy. When certain issues would come up in the band, he never had a problem holding back his thoughts, and I don’t think Warrel liked that very much.
A lot of that started about five or six years ago when we used to get paid through Warrel and Jim. This sucked really bad for many reasons. Number one, you shouldn’t be getting paid by other band members, especially when you’re in a signed band. Van and I ended up going to our manager and lawyer to get paid through them. Equal split four ways. Its so simple. This bothered Warrel and Jim quite a bit. For some reason, Jim had always thought he was our “manager,” and the one that could get things done.This actually worked for a while, but in the long run, it really didn’t. I wish he would had just stuck to playing his bass at those times, because it ended up not being a good thing at all.
I think Warrel might have heard prior to the internet that Van and I wanted to leave, but you know I can’t be certain.
New photos from the recording sessions for the forthcoming solo album from former NEVERMORE guitarist Jeff Loomis at Fastback Studios in Seattle, Washington can be seen at this location.
Loomis entered the studio on August 23 to begin recording the follow-up to 2008′s “Zero Order Phase”, which will feature three or four tracks with vocals. Christine Rhoades, who previously collaborated with NEVERMORE on the “Dreaming Neon Black” CD, will sing on selected tracks and Shane Lentz will handle the bass. Aaron Smith (7 HORNS 7 EYES) is producing the effort.
“[Smith] has been a friend for a while now and has helped me out with various recording projects over the years,” said Loomis. “We’ve been working on demos and pre-production for the past few weeks and are very happy with the way things are turning out.”
He added, “Doing drums, as most of you know, is Dirk Verbeuren [of SOILWORK]. I don’t think there’s really anything else I can add to that. His name just sort of speaks for itself.
“Up until about [a few] weeks ago, I was planning on doing the bass parts myself but then saw this amazing bass player on YouTube and said to myself, ‘I need to have him on the record.’ I got in touch and was thrilled to find out he was into it. I’m really looking forward to hearing what he’s going to be bringing to these songs.”
Shortly after wrapping up in the studio, Jeff will embark on a three-week tour of special Schecter guitar clinics in China, scheduled for October.
Jeff was the lead guitar player and main songwriter of NEVERMORE, a band that has certainly made its mark on modern music by forging a unique sound that fuses different forms of metal that has given birth to an authentic and very influential style. His solo CD, “Zero Order Phase”, took the #4 spot in a April 2009 Guitar World magazine’s readers’ poll in the “Best Shred Album Of The Year” category — a notable accomplishment when you consider the top three vote-getters, Paul Gilbert, Yngwie Malmsteen and Joe Satriani. Jeff has become one of his generation’s most recognizable guitarists and the source of many of the last decade’s best riffs.
Jeff’s complex shredding has been a central part of the progressive power guitar scene since 1992 and is responsible for some of the most awe-inspiring riffs modern metal has ever heard. Nearly every aspiring musician who has been listening to metal for the past 10 years or so has undoubtedly had the pleasure of hearing Jeff Loomis’ progressive and technically superior playing. “Jeff epitomizes the very essence of modern guitar playing; there is a huge fan base that has waited a long time for this type of product from him,” stated Joe Palombo, Executive Director of Rock House.
Loomis’ first solo album, “Zero Order Phase”, was released in September 2008 through Century Media Records.
Greece’s Rock Overdose recently conducted an interview with SANCTUARY/NEVERMORE frontman Warrel Dane. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
When asked about NEVERMORE‘s recent split with guitarist Jeff Loomis and drummer Van Williams, Dane said, “Well, I didn’t separate from Jeff; Jeff separated from me — that was his choice. And he, I think, wants to focus more on being a guitar hero and doing solo records. And this whole thing, this split with Jeff…. I mean, I could give a shit about our drummer — we never got along anyway — but Jeff was one of my best friends. And it’s like going through a very painful divorce. I’m still very upset about the way it happened, because I didn’t know that they were quitting the band until I saw on Blabbermouth. And that’s not the way you treat your friends. We could have talked. And that was really, really shitty. I still talk to Jeff sometimes, but he’s in his own world right now, so good luck to him. I love him — he’s like my brother, but… There’s not a whole lot I can say about that.”
Regarding NEVERMORE‘s future, Warrel said, “NEVERMORE is still a band. We’re still going to use Attila [Vörös], the guitar player that was playing with NEVERMORE when all this happened. And I think we have a new drummer — I’m still deciding. The guitar players that are submitting their YouTube videos to me for auditions, some of them are just fucking phenomenal. And I’m kind of humbled by all this, because I didn’t realize that they are so many talented kids out there. Replacing Jeff is hard, so it’s gonna be a slow process. And I will not replace Jeff until find the perfect guitar player — someone that can write songs and someone that can play solos. Sometimes there is somebody that can really compose good music and sometimes there’s another one that can really shred on the guitar, so there has to be a balance. I’m gonna approach this carefully, because I don’t want to stain the legacy of the band. NEVERMORE was my baby and has always been my passion for years. I’m still hurt over the way things fell apart, but you pick yourself up and just focus on what you’re doing in the moment. But NEVERMORE is still a band; there was just two people that quit.”
Loomis and Williams announced their departure from NEVERMORE in April. In a joint statement, the two musicians blamed their decision to quit on “internal struggles and ongoing issues within the band.”
Loomis and Williams had been with NEVERMORE since the band’s self-titled first album, which came out in 1995.
NEVERMORE tapped Dagna Barrera to play bass on the band’s recent “Power Of Metal” European tour with SYMPHONY X, PSYCHOTIC WALTZ, MERCENARY and THAUROROD after the group’s regular bassist, Jim Sheppard, underwent surgery on February 16 to remove a benign brain tumor.
Dagna previously played bass in NEVERMORE singer Warrel Dane‘s solo project and is also a member of the Seattle-based progressive rock band ONE UNDONE.
NEVERMORE‘s latest album, “The Obsidian Conspiracy”, sold around 4,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 134 on The Billboard 200 chart. The CD landed at position No. 1 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.
Jeff Loomis returns to the studio at the end of this month to begin recording his eagerly awaited sophomore solo album. With key players contributing to the release, there is no doubt fans will be pleased. Aaron Smith (7 Horns 7 Eyes) will be producing the album. “He [Smith] has been a friend for a while now and has helped me out with various recording projects over the years.” Says Loomis. “We’ve been working on demos and pre-production for the past few weeks and are very happy with the way things are turning out.”
Loomis has also enlisted a group of impressive musicians to back the project. Dirk Verbeuren of Soilwork will be tracking drums, and Shane Lentz will be handling bass. “Doing drums, as most of you know, is Dirk Verbeuren. I don’t think there’s really anything else I can add to that. His name just sort of speaks for itself. Up until about 2 weeks ago, I was planning on doing the bass parts myself but then saw this amazing bass player on YouTube and said to myself, ‘I need to have him on the record.’ I got in touch and was thrilled to find out he was into it. I’m really looking forward to hearing what he’s going to be bringing to these songs.” In addition, Loomis plans on collaborating with a handful of other vocalists and musicians including Christine Rhodes, who previously contributed to Nevermore’s Dreaming Neon Black album.
Fans should keep their eyes peeled for previews of developing songs, studio updates and additional details. The album is set for release in Spring 2012.
Reunited ’80s metallers SANCTUARY – which feature current NEVERMORE frontman Warrel Dane and bassist Jim Sheppard – are currently working on material for a new album due out later this year/early 2012.
“Nevermore is not dead,” Dane exclaimed in a recent Twitter update. “Sanctuary is just the focus now and oh holy shit when you hear you will know why. Serious Lenny (Rutledge; guitar) is writing some amazing thrash it’s gonna cut your brains in half. A major Sanctuary announcement coming in the next few days…”
Nevermore parted ways with guitar player Jeff Loomis and drummer Van Williams in April. In a statement the pair wrote: “In a mutual decision Jeff Loomis and Van Williams have decided to leave Nevermore. The time has come to pursue our own paths from the group. Due to internal struggles and ongoing issues within the band, we feel it is our time to move on. We would like to thank all of our fans around the world for their years of love, support and enthusiasm. This was not an easy decision but a very necessary one at this point, may we all meet again someday, somewhere in time.”