Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Ulterium Records for setting up the interview
Thanks to Ulterium Records for the promo pictures of the band
EXODUS is the name of the brand new Waken Eyes album. The Canadian band is led by guitarist Tom Frelek, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing. In the following chat we spoke about the new album, the line up of the band, which includes Mike LePond (Symphony X etc.), Henrik Bath (Darkwater) and Marco Minnemann (Joe Satriani). EXODUS is an album that speaks to you if you’re into progressive metal music, however the main focus is not on longer instrumenal solos but on vocals which makes the album a bit different to other progressive metal albums.
The last time Overkill was in Calgary was about a decade ago in a small bar. It was the first time the New Jersey thrashers had ever been to Calgary. I had the pleasure of having dinner with a couple of the guys in the band and while happy to be in town they said, realistically they would not come back. The Western Canadian leg is too small and too far to play to small crowds. They wanted to play cities they had never been to before, at least once, but they doubted they would ever come back. Well, as the Overkill songs says, ‘Never Say Never’, as they returned as part of a co-headlining gig with Nuclear Blast label-mates and fellow New Jersey-ites, Symphony X. The last time Symphony X played in Calgary they played in a bigger venue as support to Iced Earth. So it is very likely that Symphony X was perhaps disappointed they played a smaller hall (Capacity: 1000), half the size as last time, and it is possible that Overkill were much happier playing a much bigger venue – four times as big! It’s all about perception.
With the imminent release of their Historikill: 1995-2007 box set we had a chat with Overkill’s iconic vocalist Bobby Blitz to discuss belt buckles, being a tourist, and what’s in store for the fans with this mega, 13 CD box-set.
Guitarist Michael Romeo commented on the new single:
“Without You” is a bit mellower than the first single, “Nevermore,” with a big chorus and a sweeping feel. I don’t know if I would call the track a ballad, but it’s a little bit softer, not so much about riff, but more the acoustic and electric interplay. Those two are good single choices, if you will, because they represent what the record is: it’s heavy, but at the same time, there are some of these soaring melodic parts.”
New Jersey’s progressive metal masters SYMPHONY X are set to release their brand new, ninth studio album called Underworld on July 24th via Nuclear Blast Records.
SYMPHONY X have triumphed, creating a panoramic “album rock” experience in an era cursed with diminishing attention spans. “This new one is about the song, really crafting each one on its own, to be as strong as it could be” says Michael Romeo, chief writer in the band, and proprietor of The Dungeon, the tricked-out studio in which the album was crafted, newly equipped with the latest in technology required to execute the band’s famous symphonic and orchestrated touches.
“Musically, Underworld has things reminiscent of the bands previous albums but this one definitely has its own individuality,” stated Michael. “Every element added was in service of the song, so the album flows and becomes a total listening experience from start to finish. Every song is to-the-point and fine-tuned, with us paying a lot of attention to the hooks, voices, riffs, and keeping the interest and the energy high for the entire record. It is heavy and aggressive as fuck when it needs to be, yet soaring and emotional at other times. I think the balance is just right. It had to have all the elements of what we normally would do, just tweaked up a notch and really fine-tuned. You know, industry people have talked about how we’ll never see a complete album again, and that idea. I wanted to defend the reputation of the album, and really try to make Underworld worth listening to as a whole record. It’s what I love about great individual songs, but still an album experience. I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching, but it was a point we wanted to make. It was about the progression of the whole record. It speeds up here and then it dips down here. It all makes sense together, it all works together and it all flows together.”
Primal Fear’s powerhouse vocalist Ralf Scheepers will starring in his first leading role as an actor in the supernatural horror film Devil’s Five. Benedictum’s vocalist Veronica Freeman will bring her deadly good looks to the production as well. Symphony X Guitarist Michael Romeo is scoring the movie, so heavy metal fans have good reason to support the film by going to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/devil-s-five/x/7516571.
OVERKILL, New Jersey’s highest-ranking admirals of thrash, are proud to announce their worldwide deal with Nuclear Blast Records. Previously signed to the label in Europe only, a special box set comprised of the band’s entire back catalogue will be their first worldwide release on Nuclear Blast, due out this fall and coinciding with their co-headlining North American tour with fellow Jersey natives & progressive metal juggernauts SYMPHONY X.
“OVERKILL is now a part of the Nuclear Blast family for the entire world,” states band manager John Finberg. “I have worked with the U.S. office on various projects as of late and they have a true understanding of what to do and how to do it. This upcoming box set is the start of the next chapter in the band’s career.”
Nuclear Blast label manager Gerardo commented on the signing of OVERKILL:
“NB is proud to announce a world-wide deal with Overkill. We’ve worked with them outside North America for the past few years, but it was time to extend the deal and have them join the North American family as well. Nuclear Blast America welcomes the legends!” Read the rest of this entry »
Frontiers Music srl is pleased to announce another impactful release to kick off 2015 with a bang: LEVEL 10’s debut album, “Chapter One”, released on January 23rd EU and on January 27th in North America. The album features 12 songs performed in a true Metal style, with a distinctly contemporary edge feat. Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner, etc) and Russell Allen (Symphony X) plus an all star metal line-up incl. Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween, etc.) & Alexander Beyrodt (Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle, Silent Force) on lead guitars, Randy Black (ex-Annihilator, ex-Primal Fear, etc) on drums & Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards. Song samples are available below.
Coming in 2015 – LEVEL 10’s debut album, “Chapter One” featuring Mat Sinner and Russell Allen plus more!
Interview with Mike LePond
(Silent Assassins, Symphony X)
You are one of the only guys in Symphony X who has not done some sort of solo work outside the band. Do the other guys tease you or was it a matter of seeing how fun those outside project can be? In a related note, you also seem to be the busiest member outside of Symphony X. Where do you find the time?
Hahaha!! No, the guys never teased me about this. I have always dreamed of releasing a classic heavy metal album. When Symphony was touring the world for the Iconoclast, I put all the songs together and now it’s finally done!! Yes, when we are off the road, I love doing other projects. I just love to play.
Symphony X takes a long time between albums, does that get frustrating, or does it just give you time to other fun stuff?
It’s frustrating because I love recording and touring with the band, but I understand these amazing songs need time to be perfected. So, during the downtime, I keep myself busy.
Onto your current project, tell us about the formation of Silent Assassins. How important is it in this digital age to have physical product for the few remaining loyalists? In a related note, how did the fund-raising campaign go? What was your experiences with it?
In the modern age, digital downloads are taking over, but there is no greater feeling for me, than holding a physical product in my hands. We will always carry physical product for the faithful. The fundraising campaign was an amazing experience. It allowed me to forget about the record companies and deal with the fans directly. I believe that this is the future for music.
Explain some of your inspiration for the cover art. It reminds me of a Trojan horse. In a related not, tell us about your choice of title and the meaning behind it…or is it just one of those cool sounding names?
The cover art is based on the title track called Silent Assassins. It is all about the Trojan war. The Silent Assassins were the Greek warriors hiding inside the trojan horse. You could also call the players on my CD, silent assassins.
Tell me about the performance of Alan Tecchio. To me it seems to be one of his finest performances in a while.
Alan’s vocals were exactly what I needed for this record. His voice is tough and hard, but with tremendous melody and class. And he performed magnificently in the studio. One of the best vocalists out there I think.
I know you have a lot of star firepower on the album, who played drums?
Yes, lots of star power on this project. Besides Alan, I had Metal Mike on lead guitar. Michael Romeo programmed the drums, played keyboards and played some leads.
Did you and the guys in your solo project get together and jam at all, or was it a matter of everyone working apart and assembling it later?
There were no rehearsals for the record. I did scratch vocals for Alan to hear and gave Metal Mike the songs to play lead on.
Do you have any plans to tour the album, with this lineup or another?
I would like to do some festivals or cruises with this project. It would always be me and Alan with other hired musicians.
How has preliminary response been?
The Preliminary response has been wonderful. All the reviews have been very positive and I’m really excited for the release date.
Tell us a bit about your gear for our gear heads out there! Did you use a special set-up for the recording?
For the recording, I had my bass direct on one track. On the other track I used my Tech 21 Sansamp for overdrive. When I play on stage, I use my Peavey 8×10 cabinet with a Peavey Tour 700 head.
What is next on your horizon?
Symphony X is now recording our next CD, so next year I will be on the road with them. I will also begin working on a second solo album.
70000 tons Of Metal is the biggest heavy metal cruise on the planet. It has gained and created a loyal and fanatical following amongst metal fans around the globe in a short few years. Even though there were a lot of discussions, and even some outrage on the official 70000tons forum and social media, about the long silence while waiting to hear about the booking of the bands. However, the whole cruise was a surrealistic experience for journalists and fans alike. Spirits were not dampened by a rainy day which whipped the Caribbean sea and the ship, Majesty Of The Seas, about. The metallic mayhem on the sea sailed from Miami, Florida to Costa Maya, Mexico and back. Here is the brief write-up of all these bands who appeared on the ship.
Russell Allen (SYMPHONY X, ADRENALINE MOB) & Mat Sinner (PRIMAL FEAR FEAR, SINNER)
Mat Sinner (PRIMAL FEAR FEAR, SINNER) recently announced an as-yet-unnamed project with vocalist Russell Allen (SYMPHONY X, ADRENALINE MOB). He has checked in with the following update:
“We’ve chosen eleven great tracks and these guys will record with me and Russel in the studio:
Roland Grapow (MASTERPLAN/guitars, lead guitar), Randy Black (Primal Fear/drums), Alessandro Del Vecchio (keyboards, vocals) and Alexander Beyrodt (Pimal Fear, VOODOO CIRCLE/additional lead guitars). Produced by Mat Sinner and mixed by Achim Koehler, with a release on Frontiers Rec early 2013. Watch out, this will be a huge album!”
Randy Black has also checked in with the following:
“Off to a great start recording the drum tracks for the forthcoming Russell Allen and Mat Sinner project. Killer tracks on this one, keep an eye out for it to be released on Frontiers Records. At the helm in the studio engineering the drum recordings is Nikolai Wurk (DUSKMACHINE). First recording session with the new custom Pearl Masters Premium Legend kit… and it’s sounding spectacular!”
As previously reported, Black has been confirmed as the man behind the kit for the upcoming ROCK MEETS CLASSIC 2013 tour, which will run through Europe in February/March next year. Black joins his Primal Fear bandmates Mat Sinner (bass/master of ceremonies), Alex Beyrodt (guitars) and Ralf Scheepers (backing vocals) as part of THE MAT SINNER BAND.
In a recent interview with the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, SYMPHONY X’s founding member & guitar virtuoso Michael Romeo shared his background about playing clarinet as a child, taking piano lessons at age 10, and discovering this passion for electric guitar while in his teens which led him to a career in music.
“You write something one day and then you come back a couple months later after you’re done touring and you listen to it and you’re like, `Man, oh no, it’s not as good as I remember,’” shares Romeo, modestly. After eighteen years of SYMPHONY X’s longevity, he admits: “I love music and I still love doing it, the whole creative thing.”
SYMPHONY X’s innovative mixture of heavy metal and progressive rock have made them a favored staple among prog metal fans for almost 20 years. Iconoclast, the band’s eighth studio album, debuted at #76 on the Billboard Top 200 chart in the U.S. and at #105 on the Canadian Soundscan Top 200 chart last June.
View the official fan-created video for the SYMPHONY X track “Electric Messiah” – off the band’s latest album Iconoclast.
Since the early 90’s, many a progressive metal band has tried to repeat the success of Dream Theater. There is no doubt as to who have been the most successful: Symphony X. The band was formed by guitarist Michael Romeo in 1994, released their debut the following year and got their break in 1997 with their third album ”Divine wings of tragedy”. As it turned out, this was only the beginning. Today, Symphony X are actually bigger than ever. Their two most recent albums, ”Paradise lost” (2007) and the most recent release ”Iconoclast” (2011) in particular, have broadened the band’s fanbase most impressively. Then again, these are two of the very strongest progressive metal releases in recent years – imagine a darker, rougher Dream Theater with classical influences and Russell Allen’s brilliant vocals as the icing on the cake.
Tickets are available at our website: www.swedenrock.com. There you can also find more information about tickets, prices and accommodation.
Around 70 bands will perform on our 5 stages next summer. The following ten have been confirmed so far:
BLUE ÖYSTER CULT
DIMMU BORGIR SYMPHONY X EDGUY GAMMA RAY DANKO JONES PENTAGRAM