The road to success, or even survival, for any band is a difficult one. For a band like Mnemic, that's never found a way to break through in the United States for a wide assortment of reasons, it can be even that much harder. For every band, from the smallest local band to Metallica or Aerosmith, there always seems to come a point where the band is tested to decide if they should move forward or pack it in.
That time seemingly came for Mnemic following the release of their SONS OF THE SYSTEM release. It was at this point that 3/5 of the band turned over. This left the band's lone original member Mircea Gabriel Eftemie with a decision - continue Mnemic which has always shown the potential but has never broken through on the biggest stage, or call it a day and try something else. According to Eftemie, there really was no decision like this to be made. Mnemic found new members and went about the business of recording their latest release, MNEMESIS. As he explained to PITRIFF recently, the turnover of members did present it's own set of challenges, but never so much so that he ever considered putting an end to Mnemic. Here's the conversation:
Creating the magical moment in a band's history can certainly be a blessing. it can also be a curse though. Throughout the history of recorded music, most long term bands have created their "epic moment", and then followed it up (generally unsuccessfully) for the next several decades trying to recapture that moment once again. While I'm sure people will question the band's apex moment, I'll state that ENDLESS PAIN (and specifically the brilliant track "Flag Of Hate") was Kreator's grandest moment. While they have been one of the more excellent thrash bands since then, they never really lived up to that album...until 2009's HORDES OF CHAOS. There was a level of brilliance with that release that most didn't think these guys had anymore. That was the blessing.
BLACK THRONE OF ALL CREATION
Holy Suffocation, is this a tribute band? Actually, it's not. Dehuman is a Belgian death metal band that claims themselves to be an "old school death metal" band, and they are certainly right on the mark with that. BLACK THRONE OF ALL CREATION certainly could have done well in 1996 or so...long before this genre was uprooted and bastardized by all the influence of Metalcore to ruin future generations of sonic death.
While I appreciate the old school sound that Dehuman has, they unfortunately sound like they might have recorded with gear that hasn't been updated since the '90s as well.
FEW AGAINST MANY
I know I wasn't alone in worrying that guitarist Gus G. joining Ozzy would ruin Firewind. Sure, we all get that it's a great move for Gus. Further, we also understand that it is an unbelievable opportunity that that has propelled every other guitarist except Joe Holmes to stardom. In short, we get why Gus did it. That said though, Firewind has been, along with Primal Fear, the most consistently great power metal band of the last decade. Seeing it become a part time project behind a very high profile gig could have spelled disaster.
Thankfully though, this has not happened. While it's not the best album Firewind has ever done, FEW AGAINST MANY is very much in tune with the greatness of previous efforts and continues to show development of the band as songwriters. To say the least, FEW AGAINST MANY kicks ass in the tradition the band had previously established.
This pattern has been played out far too many times. Band comes along and kicks ass from the start. As time goes by though, original members start flaking away, and the core sound slowly begins to go in different directions. Finally, you get down to one original member and a sound that seemingly forces itself to touch on the original direction, but falls away to some completely new signatures that render said band to being little more than a shell of their former selves. After 14 years, Mnemic has eroded away to guitarist Mircea Gabriel Eftemie and four other jags (JAG = Just Another Guy) that have come in to sing the old songs while changing the entire chemistry and vibe of the band. For most, a listen to MNEMESIS followed by a listen to MECHANICAL SPIN PHENOMENA, and you'll think you listened to two entirely different bands. Some will call that musical growth. I'll call it failing direction as a band.
Last week saw the debut of Rising West - a "new band" that was formed to make a statement or two about the current state of affairs in Queensryche. It says, pretty loudly, that the band behind vocalist Geoff Tate pretty much hate him and don't want to work with him anymore. It also loudly proclaims that the guys in the band do not believe in the direction that Tate and his wife have taken the band into. Finally, it definitely screams out that they are going to take their legacy with them into something new, and Geoff Tate can do nothing about it. In short, what's truly rising in the west is a mutiny from within the ranks of one of the most respected bands to come out of the 80s scene.
As a fan of Queensryche since their very beginnings, I can only ask...plead really...Geoff, please retire the name Queensryche and move forward with your solo career. Please do not drag it through the mud the way so many bands have done over the past decade.
If you aren't a fan of Helloween, you might consider Michael Kiske returning to metal after over a decade of saying that he hated everything about it to be hypocritical. If you are a fan of Helloween, you probably will look at it as a simple change of mind.
So Michael Kiske has changed his mind and returned to metal...:P
Seriously though, the great Helloween vocalist has joined forces with many of the best names in the current European metal market to form what has to be considered a supergroup of sorts; the new group Unisonic. The band, which also features former Helloween and current Gamma Ray guitarist Kai Hansen, Krokus/Gotthard axeslinger Mandy Meyer and the former bottom end of Pink Cream 69 (bassist Dennis Ward and drummer Kosta Zafiriou), have just released their first effort - the self-titled release UNISONIC. As a Helloween enthusiast, as well as a fan of every single band these guys are or have been with, this seems like a home run waiting to be hit.
Ugly Kid Joe
STAIRWAY TO HELL
Ugly Kid Joe was one of my very favorite bands of the later hair band era. They got massively popular off a song that, to me anyway, wasn't very good ("Everything About You"), but they backed it up with three albums that really kicked ass (AMERICA'S LEAST WANTED, MENACE TO SOBRIETY and the hugely overlooked MOTEL CALIFORNIA). With much better than average musicianship, and attitude filled lyrics that were literally spit at the listener, Ugly Kid Joe were the original "anti-hair band" hair band of the era. It didn't last too long though, and before we knew it, they were gone. Vocalist Whit Crane bounce around in bands like Life Of Agony and Medication, before joining up with former UKJ bandmate and drummer Shannon Larkin in Another Animal. Larkin also found a career in a little band called Godsmack. Dave Fortman put down his guitar and put on his producer's cap, working with tons of bands from Superjoint Ritual to Otep, among others. In short, their youthful success led several guys to other careers in music.