Lightning Swords Of Death US Tour

LightningSwordsOfDeath-BaphometicChaosiumPRESS RELEASE: LA-based black metal legion, Lightning Swords Of Death, are emerging for a North American tour this June. They will be supporting Melechesh alongside Vreid and Reign of Lies. The tour begins on June 16th in Los Angeles at The Joint and will wrap up on June 30th in Brooklyn. Lightning Swords Of Death’s “caustic yet otherworldly approach” (Decibel Magazine) has earned the band high praise from fans and critics worldwide with their most recent album, Baphometic Chaosium. Read More …

INTERVIEW: Jim Breuer

Jim BreuerOkay, so if you’ve been reading the site or following me on Twitter lately, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been developing a bit of an interest in stand-up comedy. I guess I need to find an interest outside of music to keep things fresh, since music is my life’s passion as well as my day job. Anyway, I was just going through some files when I stumbled upon this interview from last year with comedian and fellow metal-obsessive Jim Breuer. Hopefully some of you might like reading about someone who loves metal as much as we do, but approaches it from a different perspective. Don’t worry, I’m not turing the site into I Heart Comedy or anything. Here’s the interview: Read More …

EVENT ALERT: MMF Metal forum, featuring …me

Hey! I’ll be one of the panelists at the MMF Metal forum on February 8 in St Kilda. This event, by Music Managers Forum Australia, is part of the St Kilda Festival and it’s a great opportunity for anyone interested in metal, but especially those who play it, to pick the brains of some very knowledgable experts. And me [boomTISH]. Now, it’s free but you need to book. Tickets are available here. Come along, participate, and let’s have a beer afterwards.

There are plenty of other forums and masterclasses run by MMF as part of the Festival. Check out this schedule for more.

Here are the details of the metal forum.

MMF METAL FORUM Wed. 8 FEB. 2012, 8 PM

WHAT: Tips and Tricks, How to get a better Gig, where to tour, Local and International Markets, Trends. Hear it from the experts.

VENUE: Alliance Francaise De Melbourne, Side Entrance, 51 Grey Street, St Kilda, Victoria 3182

Tickets: http://www.trybooking.com/ZYS
Ben Ralph – GM ROADRUNNER RECORDS

Ben has been at Roadrunner Records for 4 years as General Manager, Australian/NZ territory. Roadrunner is internationally renowned for its roster of rock, hard rock and metal artists and is famous for such bands as Slipknot, Nickelback, Sepultura, Machine Head and more. Prior to working at Roadrunner Ben was Head of Labels/A&R at Stomp Entertainment where he worked for 8 years. Ben has also managed the following labels in Australia over his career – Victory, Metalblade, Sub Pop, Saddle Creek, Sanctuary, Rykodisc/ADA, Tooth & Nail, Equal Vision, Southern Lord, Mans Ruin and more. www.roadrunnerrecords.com.au

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The most evil musical intervals ever

Here’s my latest for Gibson.com: a lesson on the most evil musical intervals ever.

A snippet:

Today we’re going to look at some of the most evil musical intervals known to man – some of the most dastardly, unsettling, creepy, ghoulish musical notes ever. Notes so dark, so twisted, so evilthat they lay awake at night formulating new taxes, new places to hide your guitar picks when you need them and new ways to make you late for work. Notes so malevolent that Ozzy himself can but cower and tremble in their ghastly presence.

I’m talking about the minor second, the minor third and the flattened fifth.

Scared yet?

No? Well, you will be. Crank up your amp and lay into Figure 1 at around 50 beats per minute.

Click here for the rest!

NEWS: Gibson counts down greatest metal songs of all time

The Epiphone Jeff Waters "Annihilation-V" - click the pic for more info.

This week Gibson.com is counting down the 50 Greatest Metal Songs Of All Time (with input from yours truly). What songs made the cut? I’m not telling! You’ll have to check it out for yourself.

Here are numbers 50 through to 41. Check back all week as the countdown progresses. And click here to read all my stories on Gibson.com. (For the benefit of new readers, I write one feature and several news stories each week on Gibson.com).

COOL SITE ALERT: HeavyMetalBay.com

I just stumbled across this site through a news story on melodicrock.comheavymetalbay.com, a place for you to buy, sell or trade your metalabilia. The site also offers the ability to promote your band to other like-minded metalheads. It seems like a very cool idea and I’m gonna sign up so I can find me some sweet, sweet metallic rarities (oh and also I need to buy Black Sabbath’s Cross Purposes on CD cos I only have a low-quality ripped MP3 version from when my brother and I were living together and shared our CD collections way back when. Maybe I’ll find it on HeavyMetalBay!).

Read More …

FEATURE: Going Solo

Performing as a solo acoustic act can represent either an artistic breakthrough or the kiss of death. It’s undeniably difficult to stand up in front of a crowd with only an acoustic guitar to shield you from the glare of public opinion, able to hear every little comment or conversation from the audience. While some artists are right at home in this environment, others could be forgiven for scurrying for the hills. While it’s easy to slip into the trap of just strumming some chords and warbling along, there are some tricks you can use to make your solo acoustic performance more distinctive, sonically varied, and unique. Let’s look at a few of them.

The first thing to think about is what to play. Are you taking songs that were originally written on electric guitar, with thrashing power chords? Songs like this don’t tend to translate well into solo acoustic performance because the awesome power of a blazing 100 watt amp is such a big part of the sound, and playing the same part on an acoustic guitar can change a riff from “CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUG” to “dinka-dinka-dink.” Clever use of open strings and arpeggiation (breaking up a chord into one note at a time) can take an otherwise heavy riff and recast it with moody atmosphere that will service the song much more musically if you take a riff that’s not meant for an acoustic or clean sound and just play it verbatim.

Take, for example, the main riff of that good old standard, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” For the song’s intro, Metallica took the same riff and moved it around a little, with some open strings and sustained notes, instead of just playing a clean toned version of the ultra distorted main version.

Another pitfall to avoid is the vigorous thrashing of chords, unless the song really needs it for dramatic emphasis. With the limited tonal palate of an acoustic guitar compared to a fully augmented rock band, dynamic control becomes one of your most important tools. One quite intuitive and great sounding technique is to break up a chord by strumming pairs of notes, or strumming only the bass note on the first beat of the bar, and all the remaining notes on subsequent beats. This opens up the arrangement a lot more and allows the audience to mentally fill in what the song might sound like with a full band. The idea is to treat the guitar as six individual voices in a choir – you can have them all sing the same melody in the same octave for dramatic emphasis, but an entire concert’s worth of that same sound can be a little bit of an onslaught. Breaking up a chord into groups of notes allows each section of the chord to breathe, and creates a more supportive bed for vocals.

Next, there’s guitar tone. Despite some great technical advances (like the D Tar Mama Bear acoustic preamp, Takamine’s CoolTube valve-driven onboard acoustic guitar preamp system, and various other analog and digital modelling technologies), a lot of players still just plug the guitar into the mixing desk and treat the audience to the unpleasant quackiness of piezo pickups. The problem with the pickups built into most acoustic guitars is that they transfer only the direct vibration of the string, but what we, the listeners, know as a true acoustic guitar sound also includes the effect of the sound reverberating inside the guitar body before leaping out of the sound hole. If you don’t have a dedicated acoustic processor, a little bit of this mysterious aural voodoo can be added with reverb and delay pedals. Dial the reverb to a ‘small room’ setting, set the effect mix to a ratio of about 75% dry signal and 25% reverb, then feed the reverb pedal into a delay set for a very quick single repeat of around 40-60 milliseconds, again mixed down relatively low, and with the treble of the repeat reduced, if your delay has a tone shaping feature. What you want to do is mimic the sound of a guitar string echoing only within the space of the guitar body, not an entire room. Then if you want to add traditional delay or reverb sounds, and have an extra available pedal or processor, the resulting echo or reverb will sound more like it’s being applied to a real acoustic guitar, instead of just repeating the trebly, hollow piezo sound.

Finally, the best acoustic performers I’ve seen make it feel like you’re sitting in their living room. They do this by being relaxed and displaying lots of personality and confidence, especially during between-song banter. The worst ones I’ve seen make you feel like you’re intruding on their private time, by mumbling or generally ignoring the audience (probably out of nerves, but still, this makes for a terrible entertainment experience).