INTERVIEW: Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt

Opeth Opeth unashamedly alienated some of their fan base with their 2011 album Heritage. While a large portion of their fans were drawn to the Swedesh masters for their progressive death metal leanings, Heritage was primarily inspired by 70s fusion in the style of John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra – and there wasn’t a single death-growl to be heard anywhere. And now, with Pale Communion, Opeth has moved sideways again, a little away from some of the jazzier moments of Heritage and towards more of a 1970s progressive rock feel, while still a million miles removed from death metal. It’s an album which will challenge some fans while thrilling others, but the overall impression from a chat with frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt is that he’s driven solely by his artistry, and this is what he’s feeling right now.  Read More …

INTERVIEW: Story Of The Year’s Ryan Phillips

photoStory Of The Year’s 2003 debut album Page Avenue was a landmark of the post-hardcore genre. Three more albums followed before the band went on hiatus in 2011. Nobody quite knew when the lads would get back together again. Thankfully the break was short-lived and the band returned in 2013 with Page Avenue: 10 Years And Counting, which saw the debut reimagined with new, acoustic-based arrangements which revealed new layers of depth and emotional resonance without resorting to wimpy acoustic stereotypes: this was every bit a Story Of The Year creation, rather than a phoned-in strum-along. The band is returning to Australia in June to celebrate Page Avenue by performing the album in its entirety, including of course the hits “Until The Day I Die,” “Anthem Of Our Dying Day” and “Sidewalks” as well as a bunch of fan favourites and surprises. I caught up with guitarist Ryan Phillips to talk about the tour, the album and guitar nerd stuff. Read More …

REVIEW: Marshall Handwired Series 2245THW

Marshall 2245THWIf you’ve never plugged into an old-school tube amp with no master volume control, dude, you’re missing out. If the closest you’ve ever come to blasting through a cranked Plexi is a digital model, you’ve never experienced the majesty and power of rock. There’s a special kind of alchemy that occurs when you put some hurt on those power tubes and really push some air through those speakers. But first, a little history lesson: the 1962 has its roots in the JTM45, the first amp Marshall ever made. It was first produced in 1962, inspired by the Fender Bassman but with various changes related to the differences in parts available in the UK compared to the USA. Released in 1965, the Model 1962 was basically the bass version of the JTM 45 (Model 1986), and the basic design underwent various revisions over the years, partly in an effort to improve the Tremolo circuit. This version, from Marshall’s Handwired Series of authentic all-valve amp reproductions, is based on the 1962HW ‘Bluesbreaker’ combo, itself a recreation of a 1965 version of the amp. Read More …

Marshall CSJTM 145 1964 Andertons 50th Anniversary

42728-csjtm-64-staright-frontWanna see something cool? The Marshall Custom Shop CS JTM145 50th Anniversary Andertons Valve Head was designed in collaboration with Lee Anderton to celebrate Andertons Music Company’s 50th birthday. Built by the Marshall Custom Shop in Milton Keynes, UK, and available exclusively from Andertons Music (one of the oldest Marshall dealers in the world!) in a limited edition of 200, it features a commemorative plate with Andertons 50th Anniversary logo and a matching custom amp cover. And it’s the first time Marshall has ever made an anniversary amp for a retailer like this. What’s that? You want to hera what it would sound like if Joe Bonamassa played Bernie Marsden’s original 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard through one? Alright.


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INTERVIEW: Scar The Martyr’s Joey Jordison

Scar The MartyrJoey Jordison has always been a monster of a drummer. His inventiveness and power have played a crucial role in making Slipknot into the unstoppable juggernaut it is. And if he was ‘only’ a drummer, his place in metal history would be assured. But Jordison isn’t tied down to one particular instrument. Murderdolls proved that he had a solid handle on rock-metal riffage. But with new band Scar The Martyr, Jordison is really free to explore his own musicality. He plays drums and bass throughout, and provides the guitar backbone for all but two of the self-titled album’s 14 tracks. As a guitarist Jordison’s style is assured, aggressive, and equal parts rhythmic and textural. As a result, Scar The Martyr [Roadrunner] is an incredibly dynamic listening experience, crammed full of brutal riffs and haunting chords, and some pretty damn chunky guitar tones too. In addition to Jordison, the album features the guitar work of Jed Simon (Strapping Young Lad), Kris Norris (Darkest Hour) and vocalist Henry Derek, as well as Nine Inch Nails’ Chris Vrenna on keys.

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My Jam With Joe Satriani

Peter and JoeWe’re in the past. I’m about 15 years old. I’m sitting on my bed trying to nail that incredible solo from Joe Satriani’s Crushing Day. I’m getting pissed off. This is hard. Try it again. Argh! Hit a clanger about a quarter of the way in. Start again. Frig. Only got two bars in that time and hit a bad harmonic. Argh. Aaaarrgh! Argh.

My dad walks in.

“What the hell is going on?”

“I’m trying to learn this Joe Satriani solo but it’s impossible!”

“Impossible?”

“Yeah.” Read More …

REVIEW: Marshall JVM410HJS Joe Satriani amp

JVM410HJSB

Joe Satriani needs his amps to cover a lot of ground during the course of a single gig, from vintage bluesy sweetness to chunky rock to screaming harmonically overstimulated lead. For years he’s (generally) used clean amps and distortion pedals for his tone, but when it came time to lay down some riffage with his supergroup Chickenfoot, Joe realised only Marshall would do. So they worked together on an amp based on the JVM410. Let’s let Joe explain: “It’s got four channels and three modes per channel, and we just set the thing up in the control room when we were doing overdubs (for Chickenfoot III) and we went from channel to channel, and I think the only time we used a different amp was when we plugged in a ’59 Fender Twin amp to add a little something to a ballad. Everything else was done through that amp. I never felt like I wasn’t punching enough or I never had enough gain or I wasn’t clean enough. It’s really an outstanding amp.” Read More …

NAMM: Marshall Custom Pin Up Range

Custom Pin UpDid you see my earlier post about the Marshall Custom Pin Up Range unveiled at NAMM? These amps seem to be very popular, judging by the reaction on social media. And with good reason: they embody everything that’s cool about Marshall: tone, elegance and …sexiness. Hehe.

Here’s some more info about the amps. They’re tonally inspired by the Marshall Class 5 (you can read my review of that little bruiser here), and cosmetically inspired by the pin-up models of the 1940s. The range is strictly a one-off limited edition offering. Each C5 Custom Pin-Up product comes complete with a Marshall Custom Shop embossment, and a certificate of authenticity. Featuring EL84 valve power, These 5 watt amps have controls for volume, bass, middle and treble, and there are 8 and 16 ohm speaker outputs and a headphone output. Along with the Custom Pinup Head, there are three different speaker cabinet options to choose from, each with the same custom covering and G10F-15 speaker, but with different graphic options.

Sets are currently clearing production and should be available within the next couple of months. Read More …