Make Mine Metal…

Diabulus In Musica - a most unexpected treat...

Sometimes, a record just sneaks up on you.  Such is the case with Spanish symphonic metallurgists, Diabulus In Musica, whose latest album “The Wanderer” made it into my hyper-nerdy collection of European Metal Bands fronted by three-octave wielding neo-divas after checking out samples on Amazon and iTunes.

It’s a rare band who can win you over via ninety seconds of streamed thrashing and wailing  but this band managed to do it – they’re at the heavier end of the spectrum for this kind of band.  Less akin to the more recently radio-friendly tunes of Within Temptation, more akin to the full-on, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink theatrics of your blissfully unfashionable Euro bands like Xandria or Edenbridge.

Hmm...a symphonic metal band you could happily take home to meet your parents...

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Diabulus In Musica could comfortably slot into a True Metal summer festival like the UK’s Bloodstock or Belgium’s Graspop without too many of your self-appointed taste police questioning their credentials.

You can check out the first single from the album, “Sceneries of Hope”, at YouTube and marvel at the parp-tastic keyboard intro (see if you can beat my record of waiting five seconds before yelling ‘prog!’ at nobody in particular).

Metal Soundtracks for Friday the 13th…

Alice? What's the matter?

Over at the Metal Hammer blog, writer and podcaster extraordinaire Merlin Alderslade presents a list of top quality metal soundtracks to listen to on this most numerically challenging of Fridays.

I will, of course, concur with his choice of the excellent soundtrack to the first Resident Evil film (the first place that I heard Slipknot, fact fans) which features a selection of Marilyn Manson‘s score cues, Rammstein, The Crystal Method and improbably-barnetted nu-metallists Static-X.   Happy days.

Horror and Metal, after all, go together like fine Italian coffee and a deliciously crunchy piece of biscotti – perfect bedfellows that it would be foolish to try and separate.


If I had to choose one thing to listen to on this particular Friday which perfectly marries these two socially unacceptable and outcast genres, then I’m going back to the Eighties for a slice of glorious, retro hard rock from Dokken and their theme for the third “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie, ‘Dream Warriors’

And, yes – Don Dokken’s fluffy 80’s hair is by far the most terrifying thing in the video…

Kiss on “Dancing With The Stars”. End of irony imminent.

Trust KISS bass monster Gene Simmons to see an emerging market and grab it with both hands (or possibly his astonishing tongue.  You know what he’s like).

In words that I never thought I would have to type, last night saw arena rock titans KISS playing live on a ‘Rock Week’ edition of BBC-created reality contest, “Dancing With The Stars”.

Have some of THAT, middle American fanbase, confused viewers and KISS army maniacs!

Cue assorted pro-dancers gamely donning their best “Alive!” era stage garb and cavorting in a PG-rated fashion as the pyro explosions did their best to be louder than Gene’s rather questionable vocals.

KISS bass-player and lead venture capitalist Gene Simmons, pictured in a normal day at the office...

You can behold what it all looked like at Metal Hammer magazine’s blog – and take in some Steel Panther action, too.  I apologise in advance for Satchel’s trousers.  Let’s just put them behind us and move on with our lives…

Best Double Bill Ever?


Rock jesters The Darkness are supporting noted alien glamstress and Mother Monster, Lady Gaga, on her optimistically titled UK ‘tour’ (two stadium gigs in England and a show in Ireland counts as a tour, does it?  I must be getting old).

GagaNicko - the REAL dynamic duo...

My sniping aside, this is clearly the greatest meeting of minds since wily old goat Gene Simmons decided to fund his latest house extension by going on tour in the States this summer with Motley Crue.  La Gaga loves herself some rock – witness  evidence of Mother Monster with a right old gargoyle above (sorry Nicko) – so this blend of pop glam and glam rock revival seems like a match made on a particularly prescient spreadsheet.

The shows are in September and – I’ll wager – probably sold out by the time that you read this…

Five Strings of Doom!


Via Neatorama.  Isn’t it…pretty?

Well, pretty if Dragons and general fantastical nerd paraphernalia are your bag (Clue? Yup).

This is a custom five-string bass, made to order for a customer in Thailand by American Luthier Emerald Guitars.

If you’re going to get a guitar made, I guess it pays to go big, make it truly unique and specific to who you are and what your music’s about (I’m thinking sweet, lunatic Power Metal with lots of songs about heroically questing and the like – course, the owner could be in a BritPop cover band, but I can’t see it somehow).


Perhaps the owner of Draco should think about playing with Takamizawa, lead guitarist for Japanese progressive rock band, The Alfee, whose Angel Sword guitar is pictured above?

New Deftones record in October?


It’s not all swords, Power Metal and European men with prodigious levels of facial fuzz in my music collection, you know.  I have been known to listen to bands not from Holland, not fronted by warbling ne0-diva femme fatales and who formed in the nineties.  To wit – awesome lead bellowist and unintentional Greg Grunberg lookalike Chino Moreno is tentatively promising a new Deftones record before 2013 arrives (and makes the Mayans look like numpties).


In an interview with an Argentinian radio station, Moreno confirms that pre-production is complete and recording is due to start imminently, with a release scheduled for the early part of the autumn.

2010’s “Diamond Eyes” was pretty damned stellar – unless the band have secretly committed to recording an album of Michael Buble and Aqua covers, the chances are that this new record will continue that enviable quality streak.  In related news, Sergio Vega will continue to sub in for indisposed Chi Cheng – with much love for Sergio and his work in the current Deftones line-up, I hope that there soon comes a day when he’ll have to look for another gig…

Jim Marshall – A Life Lived Loud…

The immortal Stackfather - Jim Marshall OBE with Slayer guitarist Kerry King.

This is sad news – Jim Marshall OBE, father of the modern amplifier, has died at the age of 88.  If you’ve listened to a noisy, obnoxious rock record made in the last fifty or so years, the chances are that it was made by some bunch of rampaging miscreants armed with one of the good Doctor’s cabs and stacks.

Oh look, poetry.

He leaves behind him a legacy of rocking sonic innovation which includes the iconic Marshall amplifier and a dedication to making even the most rudimentary of bedroom guitarists feel like stadium-headlining rock gods whenever they plugged in.

Why not have a look at Slayer’s Kerry King demoing his signature Marshall amp via the Tubes (warning: features awesome riffing and scary tatts).

Sonisphere 2012 cancelled…

What was I just saying about rock being dead?

Great bill - wrong time?

The UK leg of the Sonisphere music festival has been cancelled.

Not a sentence that I was expecting to read today, but the financial climate is such that I imagine many fans of heavy music took one look at this year’s Download bill and thought that their cash was going Donington way.

Either that, or the lure of Tr00 Kvlt Metal at Bloodstock is too hard to resist for many a metalhead…

Rock is dead (again)


Fresh from debuting his band Soundgarden‘s first new music since 1996, lead singer Chris Cornell has a sobering message for those of us with ringing ears and luxuriant tresses.

Per an interview with noted rock bible “Details”*, Cornell states for the record that “Rock has lost its place at the centre of the musical universe”.  And, much as it pains me to add currency to this kind of notion, I think that he’s got a point.

*“Details” is as much a rock bible as “Kerrang!” is nowadays – in fact, “Details” may have more rock cred…

Citing American radio’s antipathy towards new rock bands, a fracturing of the creative process enabled by technology and the seemingly irresistible allure of recreational substances, Cornell paints a bleak but – to me – wholly accurate picture of where music is right now.

Once the ease of file-sharing/cut-throat IP piracy (delete as applicable) made making a living from music a labour only slightly less difficult than raising the Titanic, the infrastructure which one could rely on to inform an voracious audience about new music was changed itself – we’ve never had an easier time of finding new music, consuming it and having a new favourite band but our relationship with that music has changed so much that it’s difficult to see how anybody but an established band being able to sustain the kind of career which Cornell and Soundgarden have enjoyed.

Music has never been more of a service or a backdrop to people’s lives than it currently is.  It’s the driver which powers reality TV competitions and nominally the thing that Katy Perry or Rihanna are famous before (that is, before parallel careers in film or fashion present themselves).  That implosion of the traditional music business career model – you can’t sell records because a tiny percentage of music fans pay for music – means that you have to evolve beyond the accepted path of what a musician does.

I find that somewhat depressing, to be honest with you.  I’ve always found that music was one of the most transcendent forms of art – capable of transporting you away from your immediate environment in a different way to the written word and able to make you forget about life and your everyday woes in a way quite distinct from films or television.  It’s more immediate than that kind of directed experience and capable of making even a suit-wearing, twelve-hour day executive lose their inhibitions and go bug-wild at the sound of a power chord struck in faux-anger.  To think that music is the jumping-off point to do something more lucrative or ‘better’ is very aggrieving.

For Cornell to feel that this pathway to shared community or tribal belonging – call it what you will – is something of an admission that for a generation younger than mine, music is ever more the corporate tool of marketing products and services and less the clarion call to the soul that it’s always felt like.


Clearly, the image above depicts the kind of thing that a Cowell-format music show would never let a prospective star get away with – how would that kind of wanton aggression and wilful property damage play in an era of David Cameron values, tabloid hysteria and razor-thin profit margins?  About as well as Justin Bieber at a Five Finger Death Punch show.

Yeah, that good.

I’ve heard the argument that rock is dead since I was a teenager and yet it’s never quite shuddered to a halt and expired – seemingly every so often, a band like Nirvana, Deftones or Muse comes along and rudely drives a vintage Fender guitar right through your heart and makes you see the world from a distinct and undeniable perspective.  I don’t see that changing, but the scale to which a band like that can break through seems to have changed.

There’s always a sense that rock should be the transgressive, unpopular, wholly disreputable older brother to the eager-to-please, squeaky clean younger sibling of pop (which makes Country your oft-divorced, beer and line-dance afficianado Uncle, I guess?), so the notion that it can’t get arrested on American radio and that the kids prefer Kanye’s glossy capitalist hip-hop narrative isn’t exactly a surprise.

When you were young, did you want to listen to your parents music?  Yeah, me either.  If I had to call it – and bloggers tend to feel that they have to – I’d say that rock isn’t dead – It’s just enjoying a disgraceful long afternoon in the sun and trying hard to ignore the bratty, currently popular kids who remind them of former glory.