In a recent interview with Artisan News at the RONNIE JAMES DIO This Is Your Life Tribute Concert and Awards Gala in Hollywood, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford (who also received the Man On The Silver Mountain Award) revealed that the band's long-awaited new album is done.
"Lots going on in the JOP camp. We are reviewing more complete demos for the new album. Lots of very heavy and dark material for sure.
We have decided that the sold-out ProgPower Festival in Atlanta will be our only show this year. Glenn and the fans wanted a very special once in a lifetime show and we feel it is only right that we give them want they demanded.
Welcome our new guitarist, Bill Hudson...
BETTER DAYS COMIN'
Of the bands that have come back into an active state from the 80s, it's hard to argue that any has created stronger music than Winger. Their IV and KARMA releases have been enjoyable to say the least, and have shown that there is still plenty of magic left when this collection of musicians gets together. While not as good as KARMA, BETTER DAYS COMIN' certainly won't offend any fans of the band. While not quite as heavy as it's predecessor, BETTER DAYS COMIN' is a cool release that showcases the melody and the musicianship that always set Winger apart from most of the other bands that were out there in 1989. It's not likely to win any new fans over, but that's probably not even a consideration at this point. BETTER DAYS COMIN' will feed those that always look for new releases from bands of their past.
Black Label Society
CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN
When Zakk Wylde decides to release new music, the metal world definitely stops for a moment and listens. They may not like it all, but they do listen. It's a testament to how unbelievable the man is on guitar; a true legend who stands shoulder to shoulder with the Eddie Van Halen's and Dimebag Darrell's of the world of guitar playing. If Zakk has a habit though, it's to release an album that's dull every once in awhile. It doesn't happen all the time, but it certainly has been known to happen. SHOT TO HELL was pretty lame, and 1919 ETERNAL was a little too full of concept instead of substance. Still, the last two releases, ORDER OF THE BLACK and the acoustic THE SONG REMAINS NOT THE SAME left me thinking that Wylde was back to his creative best, and caused a lot of anticipation for his latest. Unfortunately, CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN just doesn't measure up. Slow, plodding and mid-tempo, the word that comes to mind throughout is boring.
BROKEN CROWN HALO
It's not really much of a secret that two of my favorite bands out there today are fronted by ladies. Those two bands are Halestorm and Lacuna Coil. While it took me awhile to latch onto Halestorm, Lacuna Coil was a band that I latched on the very first time I heard them. I remember getting a sampler from Century Media that had the song "Heaven's A Lie" on it, and knowing this would soon be one of my favorite bands out there. I've seen the band several times, and they've gotten better with every tour as well. The combined male-female vocals of Andrea Ferro and the lovely Cristina Scabbia brings one of the most appealing sounds to the entire Goth Metal subgenre; a subgenre that overwrought with far too much orchestral crap and not enough straight up rock and metal. BROKEN CROWN HALO is certainly not the band's best work, but it works for them. It's good, not great. In many ways, it sounds like they may have just decided to play it safe and stay the course this time around. At least they chose a path that's been working.
TIME TRAVELERS & BONFIRES
Sevendust are really a band for the fans, and the fans are definitely always there for the band. Case in point - their latest release TIME TRAVELERS & BONFIRES. This release is one paid for by the latest trend hitting the music business, pre-funding by the fans to pay for a project. The band asked for a lot for this campaign, and got 245% funding from their fans in return. So what did Sevendust do with that money? Well, they created a very cool release that, while different from anything they've ever done studio-wise, is about as good as anything they've created to date. An acoustic release featuring fix new tracks and acoustic reworkings of some of their most popular material, TIME TRAVELERS & BONFIRES connects on every level with the established fanbase. For a band that gets so much from their fans, that's just what you would expect.
RONNIE JAMES DIO: THIS IS YOUR LIFE
As much as I want to take this at face value, it's hard to not at least wonder just how many times Wendy Dio is going to visit the Dio well and mine more material culled from his past work. There's already been multiple live releases, deluxe reissues, an officially sanctioned band playing the music of Dio...and now second tribute collection of music from people other than Dio performing his work (the first being Jorn Lande's DIO release). I'm almost expecting a release of special rare interviews or voice mails to come at this point. Still, it's their business what they put out, and ours to merely judge it. So that said, we now have RONNIE JAMES DIO: THIS IS YOUR LIFE. While it has some real heavyweights performing on it, it's pretty much like every other tribute album you'll get. It's a hodge podge of covers. Some are good. Some aren't. Big surprise, right?
It's not very often that a band that has zero backing behind it sweeps in and just monopolizes my listening time. Generally, bands like Red Reign get 30 seconds as I quickly scan through their music and I'm on to something else that I'm getting pressured to review by a publicist. For Red Reign, I was asked to review this as a favor for my Classic Metal Show co-host Neeley, which quite honestly is the only reason this one ever hit my player in the first place. Good call on his part though, as it's been the only disc in my player for days now. CHASING SHADOWS is a hard rocker full of nasty guitar driven metal that falls somewhere between the heavier Van Halen songs and a bunch of the better modern metal stuff out there today. Red Reign has quickly become a band that I need to know more about.