Tommy Victor is an unsung hero of Rock. The Prong frontman (and the band’s only constant) has been putting out great records under the Prong banner since 1989’s Force Fed. Between then and the band’s latest — thirteenth studio album State of Emergency (Steamhammer / SPV) — there’s been a brief flirtation with commercial success in the early-mid nineties, an extended hiatus before and after the band’s unfairly-maligned Scorpio Rising album from 2003, and a steady stream of quality material over recent years.
A lot has changed in the twenty years since my first Bloodstock. What began as a relatively small indoor gathering in the middle of Derby city centre now welcomes around fifteen thousand metal fans from around the world annually. From two days, two halls, a signing room, and a “Metal Market” to four days, four stages, a signing tent, art gallery, gaming zone, and curiosities such as Viking battles and even early morning Heavy Metal Aerobics sessions, the changes to Bloodstock have been gradual but necessary.
Although hard rock and heavy metal existed in Canada before the emergence of Jonquière genre dodgers Voivod, the loudest expulsions of northerly rage still generally belonged to disgruntled ice hockey fans and angry moose. While prog legends Rush had already made a name for themselves and acts like Exciter and Anvil were slowly gaining the attention of metal fans across the world, Voivod were about to take Canadian noise to an entirely new level.
There’s something romantic and cinematic about adopted New Jersey (via Norway) songwriter Luke Elliot’s third album, Let ‘em All Talk (Icons Creating Evil Art) over and above the wistful storytelling. ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’, all film-noir meets spaghetti western vibes with its orchestral flecks, feels torn from an as-yet-unwritten Tarrantino follow-up to Django Unchained, or perhaps the lead single to the debuting next James Bond, while ‘William Tell’ could have been one of the musical interludes from Black Mariah’s club in Luke Cage (Netflix version).
Crown Lands claim the crown with this truly fearless album. Which crown? The crown of the New Kings of Progressive Rock. This virtuoso, exciting and engaging Canadian duo – guitarist/bassist/keys player Kevin Comeau and singer/drummer Cody Bowles – have delivered a record that, if you hold any prog in your soul, will leave you smiling from sated ear to sated ear. It’s also a record full of ideas, that will make you think, that fulfills its promise, and is well worth the wait – how many albums can we say that about? As Bowles sings on ‘Context’: “If life is a wheel/ Please let it spin/ And doors that may open/ Please let me in …” You’re in guys, you’re in.
Rush, UMe/Mercury, and Anthem Records continue the comprehensive Rush 40th anniversary album series with new and expanded editions of the band’s decade-defining 1982 release, Signals, an album that signified how the band was in no way detached and subdivided from the ever-shifting 1980s musical landscape. Signals-40th Anniversary will be available to fans in three distinct configurations, including the (1) Super Deluxe Edition, (2) one-LP Picture Disc Edition, and (3) Dolby Atmos Digital Edition. There will also be a limited edition Super Deluxe box featuring eight lithographs of Neil Peart’s original hand-drawn lyrics for each song on Signals only available through the official Rush online store. All configurations can be pre-ordered and pre-saved, at the link below. Watch the re-release issue.
Today is the third anniversary of the death of Rush icon, drummer, and lyricst Neil Peart. Since Neil kept his bout with cancer private, the news of his death went through the music world like a shockwave. The band Rush ceased to exist at that point. As part of our remembrance, we are sharing this memorial piece written by our own writing icon, Mathew Davies, who died in 2021. RIP Neil.
For the second time in his career, New York bassist Frank Bello steps into the studio without the help of his Anthrax bandmates to record something a little different. Whereas previous side project Altitudes and Attitude was a collaborative affair with Dave Ellefson of Megadeth and Jeff Friedl of A Perfect Circle, six track EP Then I’m Gone (Rare Bird Recordings) is a much more personal affair with Bello playing almost all of the instruments himself.
It’s been three years since Canadian musical contortionist Devin Townsend confused the hell out of everyone with Empath, an album of such relentless eclecticism and stupefying eccentricity that even now it remains almost beyond comprehension. A kitchen sink album in every respect, our heroic Canuck threw literally everything into the mix. From death metal and jazz to Chad Kroeger and cats, Empath was the mindfuck to end all mindfucks.