Review by Tony Cannella
From Allentown, Pennsylvania MindMaze play power metal and have just released their stunning, mesmerizing (insert adjective here) debut album “Mask of Lies”. There are a lot of great metal bands out there, but sometimes along comes a band that brings things to a new level. For me, MindMaze is one such band.
Straight away from the pounding and soaring opening track “Never Look Back”, “Mask of Lies” is as consistent and powerful a debut as I’ve heard in quite some time. “Breaking the Chains” keeps the momentum going full throttle. Lead vocalist Sarah Teets is simply awesome and her vocals are the perfect mix of fire and passion to go along with riffs that keep coming fast and furious. Continue reading »
Label : Atlantic Records/Roadrunner Records/Warner
Review by Tony Cannella
I am in awe of the band Halestorm right now. Their new album “The Strange Case of…” just left me awestruck and speechless (no easy task). From the word go “The Strange Case of…” offers a pure hard rock smorgasbord of hard rock, metal and punk infused guitar riffs, great songs that have easy mainstream appeal and a strong dose of attitude coming from this American band – especially from lead singer Lzzy Hale. To put it simply “The Strange Case of…” simply rocks. Occasionally Halestorm will slow things down on ballads like “In Your Room” and “Break In”, these songs are okay, but in my opinion Halestorm is at their best when they are rocking out. The opening track “Love Bites (So Do I)” sets the tone right out of the gate and offers plenty of attitude, this is the first video that the band has done for the album and a solid choice. The second track “Mz. Hyde” thumps in and has a bouncy, infectious, addicting vibe and a melody that is just flat out contagious. The next two tracks, “I Miss the Misery” and “Freak Like Me” are two songs that features Halestorm at their in-your-face best. These opening four songs bring come at you at a relentless, rapid fire pace. “Beautiful With You” slows things down a bit and although it is not strictly a ballad it allows the listener to catch his or her breath. After the ballad-ish “In Your Room” and “Break In”, Halestorm returns to rocking out in a big way with “Rock Show”, “Daughters of Darkness” and the simply awesome “You Call Me a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing”. The final two tracks “American Boys” and “Here’s to Us” brings things to a close with a bang. In short, don’t mess with Halestorm. This is the second full-length album from Halestorm and with “The Strange Case of…” the band seems ready to ascend to the next level, based on the power and quality of the songs contained here, that only seems inevitable. 2012 could just be Halestorm’s year.
Rating – 95/100
- Love Bites (So Do I)
- Mz. Hyde
- I Miss the Misery
- Freak Like Me
- Beautiful with You
- In Your Room
- Break In
- Rock Show
- Daughters of Darkness
- You Call Me a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing
- American Boys
- Here’s to Us
- Lzzy Hale – Vocals & Guitar
- Josh Smith – Bass
- Joe Hottinger – Guitar
- Arejay Hale – Drums
Interview by Miriam C.
Trascription by Kassandra Ortmann
I know, I know what are you gonna say “What’s this, that’s too short and we want more!”. I totally understand you but the occasion was too much inviting to let it go so I took the chance, also for really short but quite, I admit to say, inviting interview with Lzzy Hale from the American new hard rock sensation Halestorm during their unique Italian gig in Milan. For sure there will be another occasion to do an interview but for the moment enjoy this exclusive! For this interview I really thanks for her collaboration and help Mrs. Morandi Anna Marzia from Roadrunner Italy/Warner Italy.
I was asking you about your second album, “The Strange Case of..”. I am wondering when you started to compose this album?
Ah well, we um, we didn’t have a whole lot time to think about this record and to prepare for it. We had been touring on the last record, um for nearly three years and basically got off tour, had 24 hours to pack and then went right to California to start making the record. We had a handful of ideas, ah, none of them were really finished yet. We had a couple of serious songs. We didn’t really know what we were doing yet. Basically we just had to dive in and chase after whatever got us excited. And try not to think to hard about the pressure of making a record. Um, we ended up doing for the first half of the record writing probably the most aggressive songs we have ever written. A lot of riff driven songs, I’m being obnoxious and screaming my head off. And then uh, half way through um, I started really opening up and writing some of the most intimate songs that we’ve ever written. And it ended up to be, the finished product ended up to be this strange duality of sorts. And just the light and dark, the soft and strong but somehow it still all went together, which was surprising to me. And hopefully the message on this record is that you can be both. (LAUGHS)
I have read here and there some of your lyrics, and some of them are really straight-you-in-the face? What are the facts or things that inspired you during the song writing process?
Oh, it can be anything. First of all I live with uh, anywhere between four to nine boys at any given time, so there is always (LAUGHS) something strange going on (LAUGHS), that sometimes the guys will say something that I will have to write down because it is a little over the top. But um, to be honest, a lot of the recent inspiration especially for this record, came from the fans actually. And uh, we definitely keep in touch with our fans with Twitter and Facebook, and all of the social medias but um we started to get physical letters actually to the studio while we were making this record. And it just so inspiring to hear their stories, to hear what are fans are going through and what our music means to them. I think when we went in to make this record we really had a great idea of who we were actually singing to and um they were giving us alot of fuel in order to make a record they really deserved. In all honesty, Inspiration can come from anywhere though. I mean, I love watching people and I consider myself an observer and a sponge of sorts. So really it could be anything somebody says to you, you write it down, or somebody will be telling you a story and you say “Ja, I should write a song for them”. In a lot of ways whether it’s my personal experience or somebody else’s, it’s fun, it’s fun because there is no real one way that you can write a song.
I saw “Private Parts” is a bonus track. It features the participation of James Michael. Who was working in singing with him?
He is wonderful, I love James so much. Originally he wasn’t planning on singing on the record. He and I wrote the song together. And uh, he had all these ideas about who could sing this song with me was excited to see who it ended up being. And at the last minute I called him up and saying, “You know what James, nobody can sing this as well as you can”. Because it is from his heart as well, so um, he ended up singing it with me and it was just wonderful cause he has such an amazing voice and he’s such a great guy. So it was a great bonding experience actually.
The “Strange Case of”, in the US was published by Atlantic Records and in Europe by Roadrunner Records. How about this collaboration. Any plans for the European market to re-release your past discography. For example, your debut self titled album?
Yes, I definitely think that will happen in Europe. The wonderful thing about Roadrunner Records overseas is that they are such amazing people. Even though things are kind of shaken down right now, (LAUGHS) everybody is so talented. They really knew what they were doing overseas. So the partnership between Atlantic and Roadrunner, really helped give us a leg up in Europe. Because we had come over here a couple of times with different bands and I noticed we had never really had a whole lot of press (LAUGHS) until we started working with Roadrunner Records. And uh, then we came over here for the last tour, and everyday we had something to do, and we were meeting all of these people and doing all these meet and greets. And I was like. “WOW! This is how its supposed to be!”. So, I definitely think that more of our material to be released in Europe, especially considering we most likely will be doing a live CD as well as another EP. You can’t really limit us to any one thing I think we, uh, we start itching to do something new after every couple of months. So there will be definitely more coming over here.
I don’t know if you heard the question about Nightwish and the former singer. I don’t know if you read the news. It happened that the singer has quit the band because of too long tours. I ask you, aren’t you afraid to feel physically and mentally drained. I read on your website that you do a lot of touring. Are you not afraid to be tired mentally and physically?
Uhm, its definitely a battle, in fact as we speak right now I actually have a cold. But the show must go on, and we’re gonna do a show tonight and rock it out anyway. Um, I think that for me the hardest is making sure that you take care of yourself, and you’re honest with yourself. That when you are tired you go to bed instead of staying up till 4 AM. (LAUGHS) Or um, making sure you remember that your body is your instrument. A lot of it is just common sense, you know. If it hurts don’t do it, uh, you know you try to eat right, try to get a little bit of exercise in everyday. That type of thing. Because unfortunately for singers, and this what I feel with Jacob and a lot of the other singers that are struggling now, is that you cant just go to a music shop and get a new one. (LAUGHS) We don’t have that technology yet! (LAUGHS) Like a guitar player if a string breaks, you replace the string, but with singers you can’t really replace whats yours, what is inside of you and your body. So, um, its just something you have to keep in mind. I know in past years I struggled, because I am very stubborn at times. So I’ll want to be invincible, like, “No! I can do it!”, you know, I’ll stay up all night and I’ll party and do the show. Maybe I could have down that when I was a young teenager (LAUGHS), but not anymore! (LAUGHS)
Congratulations for winning the “Hottest Chick in Hard Rock” . How do you feel about it?
I am actually quite flattered. I know there are a lot of women that look at that in a negative light. I never really did. I enjoy the attention. I enjoy dressing up. Um, obviously I am no stranger to the high heels and the short skirts. But I do have one rule and that is to make sure that if I am getting all of this attention for you know, being a girl and being sexy and the rock and roll then I have to make sure that I take care of myself. And that I am good at my instrument and good at what I do. Um, and have something to back it up! You know, because we cant ride solely on the sex because that is going to go away at some point. And one point in time I am going to be a sixty five year old woman and no one gonna want to see me in a short skirt. (LAUGHS) So I have to make sure I am good at what I do!
So you take the advantage now for the time being?
Unfortunately we are at the end. We thank you for this short interview and I am really, really happy to have had this talk with you? So … thanks again.
Thank you so much for taking the time for me darling. Its been an absolute pleasure talking to you.
Thank you so much!
Hopefully I will get you meet you one day!
Me too, I hope to meet you but unfortunately today I am not in Milan, I am quite far away from Milan but the best I can get today is to interview you!
No worries, we will be back. I promise you that!
So we are at the end, thank you so much?
Thank you so much! Darling. Bye.
Photos by Chris Phelps & Alex R. Kirzhner
Label : Poets Labyrinth Productions
Review by Tony Cannella
Even though Christmas just passed, it is never too late for some quality holiday music. That brings us to the new single by Pennsylvania based singer/songwriter Tiffany Apan in collaboration with Chuck Owston as they present their version of the 16th century English Folk classic “Greensleeves”. I have to admit that I have always loved this song and found it deeply moving; it always seems to lend itself well to a rock setting or classical backdrop. The version that Tiffany Apan and Chuck Owston has presented us with is a more traditional, mournful rendition of the song. Right off-the-bat, Tiffany Apan has a phenomenal classically trained voice as she is accompanied by Chuck Owston on mandolins. “Greensleeves” is a perfect treat for the holiday season, but it is not just Christmas music.This is a timeless classic that Tiffany Apan and Chuck Owston has injected their heart and soul into and should be enjoyed year ‘round.
Rating – 85/100
- Tiffany Apan – Vocals, Bass, Cello
- Chuck Owston – Mandolins
Label : Metal Mind Productions
Review by Tony Cannella
It is hard to believe that the debut album from Philadelphia’s Tapping The Vein first saw the light-of-day, way back in 2002. This CD managed to slip by pretty much under-the-radar for the most part, but now thanks to the good people at Metal Mind Productions it has been given a new life, for more metal heads to discover and enjoy. Tapping the Vein shows off their skills in combining basic rock elements with electronic fundamentals from the very first track, “The Ledge”, which turns out to be a pretty darn cool opener. “Butterfly” is next and continues to move things in a positive direction. This song starts off slower in tempo, before picking up the pace and becoming one of the best songs “The Damage” has to offer. Other songs of interest include: “Sugar Falls”, “Beautiful” and the excellent closing number “Falling In”. Metal Mind is deserving of massive amounts of credit for continuing to give overlooked albums a second chance. Since the release of “The Damage”, Tapping The Vein has come out with another pretty good release, “Another Day Down” but it is “The Damage” that got the ball rolling for this underrated Philly band.
Rating – 79/100
- The Ledge
- Sugar Falls
- The Damage
- Falling In
- Heather Thompson – Vocals
- Mark Burkert – Guitar
- Joe Rolland – Bass
- Eric Fisher – Drums, Keyboards & Programming
Style switcher only on this demo version. Theme styles can be changed from Options page.
- Flames of Fury – “FoF” EP (2013)
- Effloresce – “Coma Ghosts” (2012)
- Marie Fredriksson – “Nu!” (2013)
- Anneke Van Giersbergen
- Leaves Eyes’ – “Symphonies of the Night” (2013)
- Phildel – “The Glass Ghost” EP (2013)
- Lita Ford
- Sarah Teets – MindMaze
- Susanna Vesilahti – Unshine
- Trobar de Morte – “The Silver Wheel” (2012)
- Viper Venom – “In Venom Veritas” (2012)
- Via Obscura – “Gedanken” (2012)
- The Mariana Hollow – “Velvet Black Sky” (2012)
- Storyum – “Insomnia” (2012)
- Snei Ap – “Hidden Floors” EP (2013)
- Sin7sinS – “Carnival of No Tomorrow” (2012)
- MaterDea – “Satyricon” (2011)
- Rampart – “War Behast” (2012)
- Lita Ford – “The Bitch is Back… Live” LIVE ALBUM (2013)
- Epysode – “Fantasmagoria” (2013)
- Beyond God – “Dark Light of Dawn” EP (2013)
- Ayreon – “The Theory of Everything” (2013)
- Seremonia – “Ihiminen” (2013)
- Tuomas Tuovinen & Eveelina Kojo – myGrain
- TEODASIA announces European Tour with TARJA TURUNEN
- I Left the Planet – “I Left the Planet” EP (2011)
- Grimes – “Visions” (2012)
- Грай [Grai] – “О Земле Родной” ["O Zemly Rodnoj" - "About Native Land"] (2011)
- Gin Wigmore – “Gravel and Wine” (2011)
- Funin – “Unsound” (2011)