AmpliTube MESA/Boogie!

amplitube_mesa_boogie

Well then, this is pretty much the best news ever!

PRESS RELEASE: IK Multimedia is proud to announce AmpliTube® MESA/Boogie®, a new collaboration with the R&D Team at Mesa Engineering that brings some of the most legendary tones from the original boutique manufacturer’s amplifiers and cabinets to AmpliTube® 3 Custom Shop for Mac and PC. Read More …

The Mesa/Boogie Mark Five: 25

Mesa Boogie Mark 25

Whoa! Mesa/Boogie is just smashing it lately. First there was the Cab Clone guitar speaker cabinet emulator that I raved about a few months ago and still find myself coveting on a daily basis. And now there’s… this! The Mesa Boogie Mark Five: 25, combining elements of some of Mesa Boogie’s greatest amps, switchable 10/25 watt power, inbuilt Cab Clone, 5-band EQ… in short it’s got everything you want from a Mesa/Boogie and more, plus it’s tiny and adorable.

Have a listen to it in this video: Read More …

INTERVIEW: Shihad’s Jon Toogood

Shihad FVEYShihad worship at the altar of The Riff. Few bands this side of AC/DC have managed a knack for instantly identifiable, eminently air-guitarable riffs. But although they’ve enjoyed a consistent career of killer albums and shows, new album FVEY stands above their immense catalog as The One That Will Probably Move Them Up A Notch. Produced by Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman, this album encapsulates everything everyone has always loved about Shihad – the riffs, the song craft, the energetic performance, the melody, the thought-provoking lyrics. But there’s something more happening on this one. I caught up with vocalist/guitarist/riffmeister Jon Toogood to talk about it.

First thing we all want to know is ‘Where the hell do these riffs come from?’

Okay, we’ve been experimenting with this tuning which is basically standard E with the bottom string dropped to a bass-register A. So you’re doing the A, an octave A, and then the rest of the guitar is tuned normally. And it’s quite hard to play because the low string is really floppy but once you get used to it it makes this wall of sound. You get a decent amp and turn it up loud, and then you play with a great bass player like Karl and a great guitar player like Phil, and when you all play in unison and are in tune it sounds like Satan’s bass player. Read More …

INTERVIEW: Satyricon

satyriconIn the world of Black Metal, Satyricon is utterly uncompromising. When, well into their career, the band started to incorporate hard rock elements into their sound, it may have flipped out the purists but there’s no way you could accuse them of selling out: if anything such a move is an expression of outright honesty. You don’t go exploring hard rock riffs and rhythms in Black Metal and expect hardcore Black Metal audiences to to accept it, nor to you release a hard rock album dripping in cadaverous Black Metal riffage, because comfortably hard rock audiences aren’t gonna take that either. Nope, you do what you do because that’s what you have to do. Satyricon’s latest (and self-titled) album plays down some of that hard rock influence while emphasising atmospherics and dynamics, moving further away from the Black Metal sound in some parts while turning it up to 11 in others. I spoke to mastermind Satyr on the eve of the album’s release. Read More …

Mesa Boogie pedals!

Wow! Check this out. After decades of making killer amps and preamps (including the pedal-housed V-Twin and Bottle Rocket preamp pedals, if you wanna get technical about it), Mesa Boogie is getting into the pedal biz in a big way. They’re designed and hand-built in Petaluma, California and they’re going to be huge.

There’s the Tone Burst Boost/Overdrive

There’s the Grid Slammer Overdrive

There’s the Flux Drive Overdrive

And the Throttle Box Distortion.

Click on the links to each pedal for more info and demos!

INTERVIEW: Dragonforce’s Herman Li

It’s always tough on fans when a singer leaves a band. Sure, Van Halen did fine with Sammy Hagar, and AC/DC didn’t exactly flounder when Brian Johnson joined, but there’s always that moment of “Oh jeez, will this work?” Post-Lane Warrant, heck, even post-Hagar Van Halen – there’s lots of scope for a misstep. Well the new Dragonforce album, The Power Within, will immediately shut up anyone who expects the band to lose some of its edge following the departure of ZP Theart. About a year after Theart walked, Dragonforce announced they’d enlisted Marc Hudson as their new voice. And what a voice. Dragonforce still sounds like Dragonforce, but even more musical, more powerful and more exciting. For a band who dishes out killer riffs and impossible guitar licks as easily as walking, kicking it up a notch is quite a feat. But The Power Within delivers.

Hi Herman! We haven’t met before but I remember you kicking around on the Jemsite forums back in the day.

Oh yeah! I still go to Jemsite. It’s got good information.

It’s been great to see forum regulars like you and James McIlroy (Cradle of Filth) going on to such big things. 

Yeah! Actually James gave me the contact with Ibanez to get my deal!

No way! 

Yeah!

Well, first question: What did the switch to Marc bring to the creative process?

With the switch of singer we definitely turned the whole recording process, the rehearsing, the whole band thing upside down and changed everything around. I think it was going to happen anyway, because after we finished the last album I wanted to really look back at the ten years we’d been doing the band – y’know, how we did it, how we wanted to change things, how we could make it better. So for this album and the recording process, I suppose I can almost say it’s completely different from the last album, the last two albums.

Read More …

INTERVIEW: Dream Theater’s John Petrucci

When Mike Portnoy quit Dream Theater a year ago, it could have been a disaster for the band. Instead they went into audition mode, recruiting former Extreme/Steve Vai drummer Mike Mangini to record A Dramatic Turn Of Events. The new album is classic Dream Theater, with odd time signatures, clever arrangements, genre-hopping, long instrumental sections and plenty of shred. Mangini proves he’s the perfect man for the job, and the entire band sounds energised and inspired by the new, more democratic approach to composition. It’s their most varied and creative work since 1999’s Scenes From A Memory.

The first impression I had of this album was “This reminds me of something. What is it? Oh! Dream Theater!” It really brings back the things I really loved about the Images & Words era.

Cool! We were definitely conscious to look at our goals for the new album and really talk to each other beforehand. I had a lot of conversations with Jordan (Rudess, keys) about the compositional direction, and trying to hone in on the elements that make the band special in our eyes. We had a conversation with James (LaBrie) about where we wanted to take the vocals melodically, and conversations with John Myung (bass) not only about the album but each song. We had a very focused general outlook of the entire writing process. And not only that but as a producer what it was going to sound like when it was all said and done. So that probably helped keep it in that direction.

Read More …

NAMM 2009: What were your favourites?

I’m sure there will still be a few NAMM 2009 press releases filtering through for the next week or so (I’ll be adding a bunch of new stories tonight), but now that the bulk of NAMM news is in, what are your personal highlights from this year’s new gear?

If you wanna refresh your memory, you can see all my NAMM coverage by clicking THIS LINK.

Here are the things I’m most stoked about:

AMPS
Peavey 3120
Mesa Boogie Mark 5
Carvin Legacy II

EFFECTS
Ibanez Paul Gilbert Airplane Flanger
Eventide Pitch Factor
Vox Joe Satriani Big Bad Wah
New RJM switchers

GUITARS
ESP James Hetfield Iron Cross
Ibanez RG1527M maple-fretboard 7-string
Ibanez PGM100 reissue
EVH Wolfgang

By the way, anybody else notice that there was no big Dave Mustaine/Marshall announcement? Dave’s been talking for months about a new signature Marshall product, and there are various rumours that it’s either a variant of the JVM series head, a rackmountable JVM preamp, or even a new MIDI tube preamp to fill the gap left by the discontinued JMP-1. I’ve contacted Dave to see if he can shed any light on the story, and I’ll report back if I hear from him.