Iron Maiden | The Number Of The Beast | A 35th Anniversary Retrospective

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Iron Maiden | The Number Of The Beast | A 35th Anniversary Retrospective

This retrospective dedicated to the memory of :
†Clive Burr† – March 8th, 1957 – March 12th, 2013

 

Original Label: Capitol Records / Harvest Records
Release Year: 1982
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: NWOBHM – New Wave Of British Heavy Metal

 

Band Members (Original Pressing)

Steve Harris – Bass
Dave Murray – Rhythm/Lead Guitars
Adrian Smith – Lead/Rhythm Guitars
†Clive Burr† – Drums
Bruce Dickinson – Vocals

Martin Birch – Producer

 

Contact Links 

Iron Maiden Official Website

Iron Maiden Official Facebook

Iron Maiden Official Twitter

Iron Maiden Official Youtube Channel

Iron Maiden Official Google+ Profile

Iron Maiden Official Instagram Profile

Iron Maiden Official International Fan Club

Track Listing – Original 1982 Pressing
Invaders
Children Of The Damned
The Prisoner
22 Acacia Avenue
The Number Of The Beast
Run To The Hills
Gangland
Hallowed Be Thy Name

Iron-Maiden

Towards the middle to the end of the 1970’s it appeared that heavy metal music was on its last legs and headed to a early grave. With the over saturation of disco music in the United States and the rise of punk rock devouring the globe like a plague bands from the First Wave Of Heavy Metal or FWOHM were on their way out. Black Sabbath had finally gave Ozzy Osbourne his walking papers, the death of John Bohnam had all but ended Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple had imploded and Alice Cooper and others had all ran their course up to that point. Even Kiss had lost a lot of followers after they compromised and conformed to the pop culture of the day and released the heavily disco laden and much hated Dynasty with its song ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. The global Heavy Metal scene had seemed to be on ice and the Heavy Metal Community had become fractured and conflicted. However not for long.

Across the Atlantic Ocean in the United Kingdom in the epicenter of punk there would be a hidden ground swell of talent ready to shake the global community to its core and become the saviours of the heavy metal genre. This would be known as the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal or NWOBHM. Some would even argue and maybe rightfully so that this movement of heavy metal music was the true ground zero for the heavy metal genre. The class of NWOBHM would not only be a large on bt a serious game changer in the history of heavy metal. Bands like Motorhead, Witchfinder General, Angelwitch, Samson, Quartz, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Diamonhead, Def Leppard, Girlschool, Saxon, Raven and Iron Maiden to name a few would breathe new life into the Heavy Metal community worldwide. However it would be Iron Maiden that would carry the standard for the next 40+ years. Iron Maiden would also be perhaps ‘The ONLY Band’ that the entire heavy metal community no matter the 26 to 30 sub genres that 95% of all the people could really agree upon and Number Of The Beast helped solidify this fact.

Begun by Steve Harris in 1975 and enduring multiple lineup changes over the course of the next 5 years, Iron Maiden would release their self titled debut in 1980 Iron Maiden with Steve Harris – Bass , Dave Murray – Guitars , Paul Di’Anno – Vocals , Clive Burr – Drums and Dennis Stratton – Guitars. Their debut would be followed up with Killers is 1981 with the line up of Steve Harris – Bass , Dave Murray – Guitars , Paul Di’Anno – Vocals , Clive Burr – Drums and Adrian Smith – Guitars. Iron Maiden hit the road just as soon as their first album arrived in record stores; beginning in the UK before criss-crossing Europe in support of Kiss, and it was there that Dennis Stratton began distancing himself from his bandmates and even choosing to ride with the crew between gigs. This attitude simply would not fly with Harris and Maiden manager Rod Smallwood, who promptly fired Stratton at tour’s end and called upon an old mate of Dave Murray’s named Adrian Smith, who had recently given up on his own band, Urchin, and was ready to hop a ride on the Iron Maiden juggernaut and silence any doubters with his work on the band’s excellent sophomore album, ‘Killers.’

Iron Maiden’s membership troubles weren’t over yet, oh no! Now it was singer Paul Di’Anno’s turn to rock the group’s tightly run ship, as his once casual drug and alcohol use had grown increasingly at odds with Harris and Smallwood’s regimented schedule and tall professional expectations. So after mutually agreeing it would be in everyone’s best interest to go their separate ways, Maiden moved quickly to poach a promising young singer named Bruce Dickinson from their N.W.O.B.H.M. rivals Samson, and his powerful voice (along with Adrian Smith’s first songwriting) would indeed contribute to the breakthrough success of 1982’s ‘The Number of the Beast.’ The line up now would be as follows, Steve Harris – Bass , Dave Murray – Guitars , Bruce Dickinson – Vocals , Clive Burr – Drums and Adrian Smith – Guitars.

Number Of The Beast is the only album to feature songwriting by drummer Clive Burr. This is one of several reasons why the album was so different from previous ones other than the obvious change in lead singer. It was the first album with writing by Adrian Smith (see below track listing for details), and the first to feature writing by the ‘new’ Steve Harris (his older style had been written for different musicians, and in a different time) – the entire writing system was different. However, it is one of the few albums not to feature a Dave Murray song, and the first album not to feature an instrumental. It was widely panned by mainstream media upon its release, including Rolling Stone, who claimed that it “blusters along aimlessly, proving again that bad music is hell.”

It was also panned by social conservatives, especially in America. Due to its title, Iron Maiden was called a “Satanic band” in the US. Their Beast on the Road tour was marred by boycotts and protests. However, it was well received by Iron Maiden fans and is considered to be one of their best albums. All Music Guide, in its official review of the album -written by Steve Huey-, stated: “The Number of the Beast is quite simply one of the best heavy metal albums ever released”. The album was ranked number 17 on Guitar World’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time. In 2000 Q magazine placed the album at number 100 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever, and a year later the same magazine named it as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time. In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at #40 in its list of “40 Best Albums of the ’80s”.[ The BBC made a documentary of this album in their Classic Albums series.

The album was also the centre of controversy, particularly in America, due to the lyrics of the title track and the cover art depicting Satan being controlled by Eddie. This cover art was originally intended for an earlier single, “Purgatory”, but the band felt the cover was too high of caliber for just a single and a less complex image was used for the single instead. The title track, “Number of the Beast”, was said not be a satanic song but was actually instead inspired by bass player Steve Harris’s nightmare about being trapped in Hell, triggered after watching Damien: Omen II. The album’s cover art has been parodied several times – by crossover thrash band Stormtroopers of Death for the cover art of their 1999 album Bigger Than the Devil, and on a T-shirt by underground New York Hip Hop Label Uncle Howie Records. Streetwear brand Diamond Supply Co. parodied the album cover for a shirt in their line. Nick Tershay, founder of Diamond is reported as having had to pay $50,000 due to the parody being too close to the original art work. The original 1982 artwork includes a light blue sky in the background; this was a mistake by the printers of the album cover, and was later rectified and became black when the album was remastered for compact disc in 1998.While the title track was thought by many to mean that Iron Maiden were Satanists, in fact the song was inspired by a nightmare bassist Steve Harris had, triggered by watching the film Damien: Omen II late at night. While he was quite scared of the Satanic images he saw in his nightmare, he also felt them amusing, and after that, he obtained the idea for the song, and also for the title of the album.

“Children of the Damned” is based on the films Village of the Damned and Children of the Damned, which in turn were adapted from the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. On a recent “Bruce Dickinson Rock Show” on BBC Radio 6, Dickinson told Ronnie James Dio that Children of the Damned was inspired by Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Sea”.
“The Prisoner” was inspired by the British TV show of the same name, and features dialogue from its title sequence. Rod Smallwood had to telephone Patrick McGoohan to ask permission to use the dialogue for the song. According to witnesses the usually calm Smallwood was completely star struck during the conversation. McGoohan was reported to have said “What did you say the name was? Iron Maiden? Do it.” Iron Maiden later made another song based on the series, “Back in the Village” from Powerslave.
“22 Acacia Avenue” is the second song in the “Charlotte the Harlot” saga.
The title track opens with a spoken introduction which draws heavily from the King James Version of Revelation 13:18, and is apparently inspired by Tam o’ Shanter by Robert Burns. Barry Clayton is the name of the actor who speaks those opening lines on the album.

On October 24, 2002, progressive metal outfit Dream Theater played the original album in its entirety at La Mutualite in Paris, France. The performance was recorded and has been released through the band’s YtseJam Records label.
“Run To The Hills” was covered on the all-star tribute album Numbers From The Beast, featuring vocalist Robin McAuley, guitarists Michael Schenker and Pete Fletcher, bassist Tony Franklin, and drummer Brian Tichy. The version slightly varied from the original, in terms of guitars, when Schenker added small solos.
“Hallowed Be Thy Name” & “The Number Of The Beast” was covered by Iced Earth on their album, Tribute To The Gods. Machine Head also covered it on the Maiden Heaven: A Tribute To Iron Maiden tribute album released by Kerrang! magazine in 2008. It was also covered by Cradle of Filth.
The album has also been used in several video games – “Run To The Hills” is featured on SSX On Tour as the opening theme, and a cover version is a track in Rock Band in which it is the only song on the disk listed as an ‘Impossible’ song for all the instruments. In addition, the master tracks of the songs “The Number of the Beast”, “Run to the Hills” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (the latter being a live recording found on Flight 666) were made downloadable to Rock Band as part of a 12 pack on June 8, 2009, and “The Prisoner” was made downloadable as part of the “Maiden Epics” pack on May 22, 2012. In Guitar Hero III, the hit song “The Number of the Beast” was featured. “The Number of the Beast” and “Run to the Hills” were also made downloadable to Rocksmith 2014 on November 5, 2013.
Now I want to take a journey through Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast with some highlights from each track where relevant to the album. This will be a literary attempt at a ‘Classic Albums’ series in a more verbal aspect.

Invaders
‘Invaders’ is the opening track on Iron Maiden’s third studio album ‘The Number of the Beast’, released in March 1982. The reception of this song was fairly mixed, as many reviewers thought that this was one of the weaker tracks on the otherwise excellent album, and it was a poor decision to use as the opener. On the other hand, others have felt that this song has been overly criticized, saying that Invaders kicks things off to a great start with a fast pace and its collection of riffs. Some also think that while the pace and mood of the song are not to their liking, or they perhaps consider it dull, the epic tone of the lyrics about Norse warfare was approved of. Whatever the fans and reviews might say, Steve Harris himself, the writer of the song and the band’s bassist, has stated that the track was not good enough, commenting that it

“could have been replaced with something a bit better, only we didn’t have anything else to replace it with at the time. We had just enough time to do what we did, and that was it.”

 

Children Of The Damned

This dark and compelling track is inspired by the 1963 film of the same name, which is about six children with psychic abilities who are forced to battle for their survival against an inferior human race. The song describes the death of the last of the children, as he steps out to face the humans which are intent on destroying him by burning him at the stake. It is a deep and thought-provoking film, worthy of the song which it inspired…

The Prisoner
A musical adaptation of the old BBC television series, The Prisoner. The song begins with Patrick McGoohan’s opening narration from the show.
Rod Smallwood, the band manager, was very nervous about calling Patrick McGoohan to get permission to use the quote. After bolstering up the courage to call McGoohan, he explained the proposition uncomfortably. McGoohan thought for a moment, than asked, “What was the band’s name again?” Rod, who was downright scared at this point, told him again. “A rock band, you say?” McGoohan continued thoughtfully. Suddenly, he commanded “Do it!” sharply before hanging up. The band cracked up at this afterwards.
The band got the opening narration from The Prisoner tapes owned by metal DJ Tommy Vance.

Steve Harris:

“Adrian took the solo on this one and it’s one of his favorites. It’s a very strong live number, although we don’t play it on the set now.”

22 Acacia Avenue
This is the second song in the Charlotte the Harlot saga – the first is “Charlotte the Harlot,” the third is “Hooks In You” and the fourth is “From Here To Eternity.” Charlotte is a hooker you can meet on 22 Acacia Avenue, and this song describes her life on the job. >>
On the cover of the album Somewhere in Time, the band’s mascot Eddie is standing on “Acacia Avenue.” In one of the windows, you can see Charlotte.

The Number Of The Beast

This song was influenced by the 1978 movie Damien: Omen II, which is about a 13-year-old Antichrist. It was written by Iron Maiden bass player Steve Harris, who explained: “Basically, this song is about a dream. It’s not about devil worship.”
Before the music starts, this opens with an a cappella quote from The Book of Revelation. The band wanted the horror film actor Vincent Price to read this intro, but he wanted more money than they were willing to pay (a year later, Price lent his voice to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”). The quote was read by an unknown thespian actor who had no interest in the band.
The number of the beast, according to Revelation 13:18 (the quoted scripture), is 666. Interestingly, 6+6+6 is 18, the number of the verse. Elsewhere in that chapter, it is stated that no man will be able to buy or sell without a mark on the right hand or forehead with the number of the beast on it. This has lead to religious zealots “finding” 666 in practically everything.

The cover art for the album depicted Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie and a devil in vicious combat in Hell. The cover art for single depicted Eddie with a sinister grin on his face holding the devil’s head (See also: “Run to the Hills”).
During the recording of the album, there were rumors floating about that supernatural occurrences had been going on in the studio, such as lights flipping on and off, strange noises, visions of Satan, etc. This was used as evidence that Satan and the Antichrist had a hand in making this. In a concert at New York’s Palladium on June 29, 1982 (which is heavily bootlegged), Bruce Dickinson said:

“Just want to say to all the people who play records backwards and burn albums out in the streets, they can go and get… stick their heads up their arse or something like that, ’cause… we ain’t interested.”

On the cover art, just right of the devil’s ankle, is artist Derek Riggs’ signature: the unique symbol which contains his initials.
The tour accompanying the album’s release was called “The Beast on the Road.”
Lead singer Bruce Dickinson said of this song:

“We can play with conviction every night, because we totally believe in the music we’re performing.” This quote, along with the line “666, the one for you and me”

The Number of the Beast album surprisingly came top of a survey by music retailer HMV to find the UK public’s favourite British album during the Queen’s 60 years on the throne. The poll attracted almost 55,000 votes in the month preceding the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee via Facebook, including presumably a fair number of Maiden fans. An HMV spokesman commented: “The power of social media means there are one or two surprises.”
As he explained on the BBC Classic Albums series, Bruce Dickinson’s high-pitched scream at the end of the intro was a result of producer Martin Birch forcing the band to replay the intro several times. Dickinson became so fed up with the constant repeats that he emitted the scream out of frustration, and it fit so well that the band decided to keep it.

 

Run To The Hills

About the European arrival to the “New World,” told from the perspective of both the oppressed Cree and the invading Anglo-Saxon soldiers. The first verse (“White man came across the sea, he brought us pain and misery”) is from the point of view of the Natives. The second verse (“Chasing the redskins back to their holes, fighting them at their own game”) is from the white man’s eyes, and the last verse (“Selling them whiskey and taking their gold, enslaving the young and destroying the old”) is an impartial third-person narration.
Released as a single on February 12, 1982. The B-side was “Total Eclipse” and was the first single that featured Bruce Dickinson’s “air-raid siren” vocals. On December 2nd, 1985, a version of this recorded live was released as a single, with a live recording of “Phantom of the Opera” as the B-side.

The cover art for the single featured a Native American with an axe wrestling a devil in Hell. Considering the lyrics, this caused some controversy, as many interpreted this to mean the band was suggesting that the imperialistic whites were devils.
In 2002, this was re-released as a single to help promote a tour the band organized to raise money for former drummer Clive Burr, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis.
This was Iron Maiden’s first Top 10 hit in the UK.
The single’s cover art had the same setting as the cover art for the album The Number of the Beast. They were both set in Hell, with a red humanoid devil and spiraling gray clouds against the night sky. Both were designed by Derek Riggs, who does most Maiden cover art.
The 1982 single charted at #7. The 1985 single (recorded live) charted at #26.

Steve Harris:

“I wanted to try and get the feeling of galloping horses. But when you play this one, be careful not to let it run away with you.”

The official biography of Iron Maiden, written by Mick Wall, is titled Run to the Hills.
This song was “covered” by Metallica on their 1986 mini-EP Garage Days Re-Revisited. At the very end of the last track, they fade out to the introduction of this song, and quite off key, as well. This was their nod to Iron Maiden, who were one of their New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) inspirations.

Gangland
This is a rarity among the Iron Maiden library. This track is one of the more polarizing tracks on Number Of The Beast. It has been both well received by the critics and fans or totally slammed as a so called filler on the Number Of The Beast. “Gangland” is, along with “Invaders”, the song that gets classified as fillers by most people. I kind of disagree with that, but this one is still looked upon as a filler. A quite jazzy drum beat gives way to a very simplistic but catchy and quite heavy riff. The only thing wrong with this song is that it’s slightly repetitive and not quite up to par with the rest. I will leave this up to the casual fan or the die hard fan to come to their personal conclusions about Gangland.

Hallowed Be Thy Name
This song is about a man who is on death row and about to be executed, it is from the perspective of that man.
This song has been covered by Iced Earth and Cradle of Filth.
The live version of this song off of A Real Dead One was released as a single in 1993 after Bruce Dickinson announced he was leaving the band. The single’s cover shows Eddie as Satan stabbing Bruce to death with a triton. Killing the departing vocalist in album art was an idea that was also used on the cover of Maiden Japan in 1981 (with Eddie holding Paul Di’Anno’s severed head), as well as in the video of Bruce’s farewell concert with the band, “Raising Hell,” where horror illusionist Simon Drake appears to impale Bruce to death in an iron maiden torture device.
The 9th and final song on Iron Maiden’s hugely successful 3rd album “The Number of the Beast” (1982) At 7:12 it is the longest song on the album, as there are 2 long periods of instrumentals. The song starts off quite slowly, and increases the tempo as the story it tells progresses. It describes a man’s thoughts as he is sent to the gallows, the feelings of terror, confusion and realization to the fact that he really is afraid of death, contrary to his belief. The vocals end as the man is executed, followed by a long instrumental section, at the end of which are the man’s last words “Hallowed Be Thy Name” Truly an all time classic heavy metal song, from an all time classic heavy metal album, by an all time classic heavy metal band.

In a year that would of been Clive Burr’s 60th birthday I really wanted to cover this album as a retrospective. If Heavy Metal as a genre had seemed without a identity or struggling up to this point in history than all that struggle was over. From this pivotal album heavy metal music would not only fracture into several sub genres but also tell the mainstream we are hear to stay whether you like it or not. With little MTV play and almost no radio play Iron Maiden’s Number of The Beast certainly went on to solidify metal. It would also become one of heavy metal’s most successful and influential albums over its now near 50 year history.

Legendary Rock ‘n Roll Musician Chuck Berry dies at 90

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Legendary Rock ‘n Roll Musician Chuck Berry dies at 90

ST. CHARLES, MO (KTVI) – Police say that legendary rock n’ roll musician Chuck Berry has died at the age of 90-years-old.

First responders were called to a medical emergency on Buckner Road at about 12:40pm Saturday. They found an unresponsive man inside the home. They started administering lifesaving techniques. St. Charles Police say he could bot be revived. Berry was pronounced dead at 1:26pm.

St. Charles Police sat they have confirmed the identity of the man to be Charles Edward Anderson Berry Sr., better known as legendary musician Chuck Berry.

The family requests privacy during this time of bereavement.

Berry was born in The Ville neighborhood of north St. Louis in 1926, where he attended Sumner High School. His home, on Whittier Avenue, is on the National Register of Historic Places. That’s where he lived in the 1950’s when he recorded many of his biggest hits.

Berry just released his first new studio album in more than 35 years. The album called “Chuck” was recorded in St. Louis-area studios.

Chuck-Berry-537x350

Jimmy Marsala, a bassist in Berry’s longtime band, suggests the new album took so long to come together because Berry wanted to make sure it lived up to everyone’s expectations. His last studio album was “Rock It” in 1979.

Crossing Rubicon | No Less Than Everything | Album Review March 2017

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Crossing Rubicon | No Less Than Everything | Album Review March 2017

Label: Pavement Entertainment
Release Year: 2015
Country: USA
Genre: Progressive/Power Metal

 

Band Members

Scotty Anarchy – Lead Vocals
Brandi Hood – Drums/Vocals
Jeanne Sagan -Bass/Vocals
Zach Lambert – Guitar/Vocals
Jesse Near – Guitar

 

Contact Links 

Crossing Rubicon Official Website

Crossing Rubicon Official Facebook Page

Crossing Rubicon Official Twitter

Crossing Rubicon Official YouTube Channel

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I can remember a time in the early to middle 1980’s where some very quality heavy metal bands were coming out of the New England area of the United States. Much of the bands were coming from Connecticut area. My first introduction to bands out of this area was Liege Lord in 1983. Soon after that I would discover Steel Prophet and Obsession. But in 1984 it was legendary progressive metal Fates Warning that would really put the Connecticut/New England metal scene on the global map. These bands would all share into some success throughout the rest of the 1980’s until the Seattle bands in the Pacific Northwest would alter the musical landscape for a few years to come.

While record labels and promoters were having their honeymoon with plaid clad lumberjack Grunge whores, heavy metal would suffer for a while and music that once sold out arena’s was reduced back to the nightclub scenes it seemed to of come out of just a decade before. However as many know heavy metal is extremely resilient and has proven so in its almost 50 year history. It is so resilient in fact that those bands I mentioned would recruit another generation of bands. Crossing Rubicon would be one of those bands. Here is a brief biography from their official Crossing Rubicon Facebook Page.

Crossing Rubicon began as a two-man project involving Scotty Anarchy and Pete Ahern (Red China Blue). The band enlisted our current drummer Brandi Hood shortly thereafter. Zach Lambert came on board and the group’s second guitarist. Brandi’s long-time rhythmic accomplice Jeff Diablo joined in the spring of 2010 as the groups bassist to round out the lineup. Pete stepped away from the band in the summer of 2010. Rob Dolan (ex-Dirty Blonde, ex-Hot Mess) joined to fill the lead role through four very successful shows including opening slots for In This Moment, Nonpoint, Pop Evil, and Rev Theory. In March 2011, the groups current guitarist Matt Douglas took over as the group’s permanent lead guitarist.
Success continued as the band landed opening slots for Motley Crue, Bret Michaels, and Tantric. Bassist Jeff Miles stepped away from the band in late 2013 to be replaced by the groups current bassist, Steven Riccio. Crossing Rubicon’s music is often described as a throwback to metal of the 80’s and early 90’s, as band such as Queensryche, Alice In Chains, Metallica, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden, while having a modern rock sound.

It would be that very sound that the band would employ to forge their debut album No Less Than Everything. The band not only applies vintage heavy metal forged from the golden lineage of heavy metal but also advance the evolution of power progressive metal with very modern and relevant elements. Their music is written in such a way that it is ‘Generation Transcending’ as to not be pigeonholed to any particular generational or age demographic. They certainly have a keen and intricate sense of allow all the hallmarks of pure and true heavy metal to come through everything they write and record. Now I will proceed to do a track by track analysis and point out some highlights from every track on Crossing Rubicon’s No Less Than Everything.

 

Tomorrow Never Comes is a straight away guitar charged frenzy. This frenzy is backed by a very quick and precise charging rhythm section. The vocals are a hybrid of Michael Kiske meets Jon Oliva. There is almost a slight thrash metal aesthetic throughout this track. The backing vocals have some attitude behind them as well. The guitar solo’s are well balanced.

Unhinged opens up with a more tuned rhythmic section both with the bass/drum and rhythm guitar. It is a bit more distorted than the previous track however the intro serves a purpose to set up the first verse and bridge narrative. The female backing vocals add some depth to this track as well. This track just continues to build layer upon layers on heavy rhythm sections within the chord progressions.

Never Again begins with a blistering rhythmic section based around the drums. From there it is a total blister fest between chord progressions and time signatures forming some brutal passages. The heavy blast beats of the bass drums really ground and anchor this track. The guitar solo really stands out as a shred fest among this heavily rhythm based track.

The Fallen begins as a semi atmospheric ballad with a isolated guitar bass and vocal before taking off into a blistering frenzy. This track goes from more of a ballad into a anthem style track. The vocals are very warm and really play off the backbone of the rhythm section. The guitar chord progressions are a bit warmer in this song as well. The lead portion of the guitar goes into a multiple solo style progression telling almost a instrumental story narrative. The backing vocals are very spot on as well. This track ends almost like a Savatage style track.

Bittersweet Day opens up with a very groove laden rhythm section with some really intricate rhythm guitar work in perfect harmony with the bass/drum rhythm section. This track is a very gritty yet fluid track allowing the vocals to come through very crystal clear allowing the track to both breathe and tell the story of the song. The guitar solo’s remind me a lot of a Kai Hansen (Helloween era) meets Savatage’s Cris Oliva. This is one of those songs that can hold its own in any decade over the last 30 years.

Cut Deep reminds me of one of those old school hard rock tracks that may of surfaced in the late 1980’s early 1990’s. There is a certain Alice In Chains influence happening in this track with the multiple vocal harmonies. This takes nothing away from the beautiful quality of the track. I hear some KingsX and even Galactic Cowboy odd metal influence in this one. The vocals harmonies are the true highlight on Cut Deep.

Whos Gonna Save You opens up with a serious blistering rhythm section. This is beautifully followed up with some nasty yet brutal lead vocals with some blistering and brooding backing vocal harmonies. The lyrical content is spot on in harmony with the instrumental throughout the entire track. The writing was deliberately brutal on this song. Even the rhythm section and guitars are brutal with some serious teeth behind them. This is just one serious beast of a track.

Violet Carson opens up with a vocal chant like there may be a occult thing going on here. The vocal chants are layered with beautiful harmony. Soon the track takes a very dark and brutal brooding chord progression. This song really reminds me of a Mercyful Fate meets Narnia vibe in a very odd yet tasteful way. The rhythm section throughout goes in and out between a progressive and power metal time signature. Once again the guitar solos are very spot on in time and register. There is a very wicked and beautiful spoken word section in the middle of the track to help enhance the narrative of the story. The vocal chants harmonies are the true anchor on this one.

Reason To Beg opens up with a very traditional heavy metal chord progression. The rhythm section reminds me a lot of gritty sleaze rock in the vein of Dirty Looks meets Ugly Kid Joe with slight progressive power metal elements. The lyrical content is rather brutal as well.

Do We Not Bleed is one of those tracks that could of been very radio friendly in the 1980’s or early 1990’s. It is a very well written straight away heavy metal track that carries all the hallmarks of verse/bridge/chorus with a well executed guitar solo within it that is carry by a strong bass/drum rhythm section. This is a song that could also be easily adapted to video form.

Im Here is a straight up guitar and vocal oriented track. With that said it is greatly anchored by a killer rhythm section with some serious emotion within the lyrical construct. It is a very fast up tempo track that will appeal to both metal purists and progressive metal purists. The chord progressions within the guitar solos are very heavily progressive influenced along with the vocal harmonies. The vocals really hit some high points on the register.

Return To Atlantis opens up with a very unusual but welcomed ocean crashing on the shore effect. Then the track takes on a very pure progressive metal chord progression allowing the rhythm section and lyrical story to breathe while the listener digests what they are listening to. This track is really focused on the harmony between vocals and instrumental portions developing a special emotion for the audience to really absorb this. The guitar solos are arranged and executed to the point as to not take away from the obvious story narrative the band is trying to convey to their target audience.

Crossing Rubicon are definitely one of those bands that really take a little bit of influence from all eras of heavy metal and hard rock and balance them with ease. They also blend all these various forms of metal and hard rock without it sounding stale or dated. They definitely have created a sound that will not pigeonhole them into where they can play and who they can share a live bill with. It is also noted that No Less Than Everything is a ‘debut’ album. If this is a debut album I can not wait for what they will do next. They definitely have the talent and ability to created various levels to heavy metal and hard rock. For a well thought of and well written ‘debut’ I give this a 4.5/5 for the insightful effort.

 

 

 

Knight Area | Heaven And Beyond | Album Review March 2017

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Knight Area | Heaven And Beyond | March 2017

Label: Butler Records
Release Year: 2017
Country: The Netherlands
Genre: Neo Progressive Rock/Metal

Band Members

Gerben Klazinga – Keyboards
Mark Smit – Vocals
Pieter van Hoorn – Drums
Peter Vink – Bass
Mark Bogert – Guitars

 

Contact Links 

Knight Area Official Website

Knight Area Official Facebook Page

Knight Area Official Twitter

Knight Area Official YouTube Channel

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My gateway into neo progressive rock music was Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood in 1985. It was a bit difficult for me due to the fact I was a solid metal purist at the time. However the music never left me and the seed was sown towards future neo progressive music in the future. Throughout the years neo progressive music and bands would come across my path. By 1999 I had discovered California neo progressive rocker’s Enchant when I bought A Blueprint Of The World – 1993 and Wounded – 1996. From that point all my defenses concerning neo progressive rock and metal had been totally removed.

Soon after I had discovered bands such as IQ, Pendragon, Spock’s Beard, Jadis, Pallas and Arena to name a few. These bands all have a common thread that easily allows the neo progressive title to be bestowed upon them. This common thread is experimental symphonic prog. It requires particular programming of synth’s along with guitars and rely more on a heavy lush stringed section. It is a very rare occasion when the neo progressive element meets a heavier almost metal element. It also takes a very talented and exceptional band to be able to blend these elements just right. Fortunately Dutch band Knight Area has been able to manage just that. Their 2017 release Heaven And Beyond displays this at work.

On Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond there is a sonic buffet of various styles in play. Various styles not only include the obvious neo progressive staple but also go on to include hard rock, heavy metal and even AOR at certain points. This album is easily accessible to those various audio pallets. My appeal to Knight Area really took off after Peter Vinnk – Bass (Star One and Ayreon) alumni joined the band. I had always been a fan of his intricate and expansive bass work. This work is magnified on Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond. Now I would like to explore some highlights of Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond track by track.

 

Unbroken opens up with the keyboard transcribing a horned section almost from the 16 th century. Soon it goes into a pure progressive hard rock slightly metal chord progression with a great isolated guitar solo. The track fades down and soon come out of left field with a really gritty and crunchy rhythm based guitar signature. That is followed by a thunderous another thunderous rhythmic section between the bass, drum and rhythm portion on the guitar. Mark Smit – Vocals then comes in with some powerful, clear and angelic style vocals to carry the atmosphere of the track. This is a very guitar driven track from top to bottom with various breaks and time signatures.

Tree Of Life opens with a beautiful piano passage before being met with a straight away progressive hard rock passage. The rhythmic section really sets the table on this track quite nice. The guitar almost sounds like a 7 string guitar at times allowing more depth within the track. The vocal work is just as much a instrument as it is a narrative piece within the composition. The guitar solo’s really allow for a heavier listening experience. This is easily one of the tracks that can open up a live set list delivering depth to their intended audience. The Hammond Organ style towards the end gives the track a vintage progressive rock presence.

Memories starts out with a lush piano ballad with a deep warmth within the vocals. Although it is very progressive it displays some light AOR elements. The track soon takes off like a hard rock power ballad however without sounding cheesy. The guitars really lend a lot of atmospheric depth and layers to the stringed section. The vocals harmonies are spot on with the instrumental portions to the composition. They are almost like a mini choir in nature. This is definitely one of the more guitar driven tracks on the album.

Dreamworld begins with a beautiful piano intro before taking on a very heavily symphonic rooted chord progression. It is as if the band are taking a symphony orchestra mindset and transcribing it to the available instruments at their disposal. This track as big thunderous rhythm sections matched wonderfully with big stringed sections. The vocals really blend all the sum of the parts of this track beautifully. The band really start to form a very distinct sound on Dreamworld.

The Reaper opens up with a very dark brooding bass passage with some seriously warm yet dark vocals along with a open atmosphere on the keyboards. The vocals are arranged with such thought and care in their isolation. This track takes on a very some very misty eerie instrumental elements allowing the isolated vocals to get a beautiful to be told in its fullness. In its gloomy atmosphere the track still allows a little light in to breathe.

Box Of Toys opens with a powerful guitar solo from the top. Soon it goes into a break with a great rhythm section to allow the vocal to breathe and tell the story. This track reminds me a lot of early GTR or Asia compositions. There is a great violin in this as well. The harmonies are very Yes in nature.

Starlight blasts open into a progressive frenzy with the rhythm section. This is a very straight away progressive hard rock track with intelligent vocal harmonies playing in perfect range with the stringed section of keys and lead guitar. Starlight borders on the fringe of a progressive metal track at times throughout the track.

Heaven And Beyond opens up with a beautiful harmony between the piano, guitar and vocal. This combination allows the listener to settle in the track. The opening is almost ballad like before the drums come in and turn it into more of a power ballad. This is definitely one of those songs I see their fan base singing back to them during live performances on tour. Its very nature is unifying. The guitar solo’s are a complete treat on this one as well. There are some really tight beautiful vocal harmonies towards the end.

Saviour Of Sinners opens up with a straight away prog metal delight with some neo progressive elements sprinkled in. The band really has a great talent in mixing the vocals to be isolated within the instrumental where they can be clearly heard and the story told. The rhythm section is spot on leading both the vocal harmony and the stringed section serving as a anchor for the entire track. Time signatures are definitely present all over this song.

Eternal Light the ethereal opening guitar solo on this track matches the title quite perfectly. It appears this was recorded live as is in studio along with a beautiful and perfectly complimentary keyboard in tandem harmony. The emotion in this track will take the listener for a emotional ride. It is the only instrumental on Heaven And Beyond.

Twins of Sins opens up in a almost unconventional classic rock format. It opens up much like 1980’s progressive rock when bands like Asia, Yes , etc took on more AOR elements. However the further this goes the more the track takes on a more modern neo progressive metal track with catchy time signatures and complex chord progressions to match the intricate bass and vocals. This track also serves as a great uplifting track to close out the album.

To my surprise Knight Area’s Heaven And Beyond was a very unconventionally guitar oriented neo progressive album. Sometimes the term neo progressive means it is more keyboard based however this album was not that. Heaven And Beyond is going to surprise some people in the progressive rock and metal communities since there is a little bit of everything for the progressive pallet. I would not be surprised to find this album in the Top 5 or even #1 of the Album Of 2017 lists when they come out at the end of the year. This is a very good album and gets a 5/5 for the variety of many progressive elements.

Frontiers Music srl is pleased to announce the release of Vanden Plas Official’ forthcoming live CD/DVD entitled “The Seraphic Live Works” on May 12, 2017!

In their long career, Vanden Plas Official has only released one live album, “Spirit of Live,” recorded in Paris at the legendary Elysée Montmartre, in 2000. With the upcoming release of “The Seraphic Live Works,” the wait for another documentation of the band’s immense talents asa live act is finally over!

Through many tours and countless concerts, Vanden Plas has proven again and again that it is among the world’s leading progressive metal bands. The quintet’s glowing reputation carries across the pond to the U.S. where Vanden Plas was invited to appear at the renowned ProgPower USA in Atlanta in 2011. Regardless of a band’s fame, an invitation to this prestigious event is an honor and their performance is certainly a high note in Vanden Plas’ history. And it is for exactly that reason that Vanden Plas decided to captutre that unique moment.

“The Seraphic Live Works” shows unmistakably how extraordinary this gig at Center Stage Theater was for everyone involved. A performance exploding with energy, euphoric audience, and the venue’s own special flair. The recordings will captivate every viewer and there is no question that Vanden Plas made the right decision to preserve this performance for eternity.

“The Seraphic Live Works” captivates and enthralls for nine songs, beginning with straightforward opener “Postcard to God” through the atmospheric “Far Off Grace” to the brilliant closer, “Silently.” In this extended live version of the song, Vanden Plas ignites a prog metal fireworks display that is unparalleled, leading the listener through more than 11 magnificent minutes to a spectacular conclusion.

Vanden Plas has fans all over the world, but for those who have not yet been able to experience the band, they wanted to give them the next best thing with “The Seraphic Live Works.” The audio and video capture an authentic band that stands out in the prog metal genre.

Vanden Plas

“The Seraphic Live Works” includes:

Tracklisting (CD & DVD):
1. Postcard To God
2. Rush Of Silence
3. Holes In The Sky
4. Far Off Grace
5. Scar Of An Angel
6. Quicksilver
7. Cold Wind
8. Frequency
9. Silently

VANDEN PLAS
Stephan Lill – Guitar
Andreas Lill – Drums
Günter Werno – Keyboards
Andy Kuntz – Vocals
Torsten Reichert – Bass

www.vandenplas.de
www.facebook.com/VandenPlasOfficial

MIKE PORTNOY’s THE SHATTERED FORTRESS CONFIRMS MORE EXCLUSIVE SHOWS IN EUROPE & UK!!

Mike Portnoy

The Shattered Fortress is Mike Portnoy and an all-star Prog lineup consisting of members of HAKEN and the NEAL MORSE BAND performing Dream Theater’s 12 Step Suite live in it’s entirety for the first time…

This is not “a new band or project”, it is “an exclusive EVENT” that will be making several exclusive live appearances in select markets throughout the world ONLY in 2017

The setlist at the show will be comprised of the 12 Step Suite and select other classic Mike Portnoy/Dream Theater songs

As of now, these are the ONLY Shattered Fortress shows…after 2017, this will NOT be happening again….So don’t miss this ONCE IN A LIFETIME event while you can!

All Tickets on Sale this evening! Wednesday March 15th at 7pm GMT

June 28th – London, England – Koko
http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/event/OKF2806S

June 30th – Barcelona, Spain – Be Prog My Friend
http://www.beprogmyfriend.com/17/en/home/

July 1st – Paris, France – Trianon
http://www.digitick.com/mike-portnoy-s-shattered-fortress-le-trianon-paris-01-juillet-2017-css4-digitick-pg101-ri4551297.html

July 3rd – Esch Sur Alzette, Luxemburg – Kulturfabrick
https://apps.ticketmatic.com/widgets/kulturfabrik/addtickets?event=926886119564&l=fr#/addtickets

July 4th – Milan, Italy – Teatro Della Luna
http://www.ticketone.it/mike-portnoys-shattered-fortress-biglietti.html?affiliate=ITT&doc=artistPages%2Ftickets&fun=artist&action=tickets&kuid=534111

July 5th – Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7
http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1410

July 6th – Tilburg, Holland – 013
http://www.ticketmaster.nl/event/185067

July 8th – Tel Aviv, Israel – Teatre Club
https://rockstage.co/tickets/mpsf.html

July 11th – Moscow, Russia – Yotaspace
https://radario.ru/events/111636/tickets

July 12th – St Petersburg, Russia – Aurora
https://radario.ru/events/111637/tickets

July 14th – Loreley, Germany – Night Of The Prog
https://www.wiv-ticket-shop.com/en/notp-festival-xii/

Sept 8th – Atlanta, GA – Prog Power USA
SOLD OUT

Sept 10th – Mexico City, Mexico – El Plaza Condesa
http://m.ticketmaster.com.mx/esp-prog-night-mexico-distrito-federal-10-09-2017/event/1400519797663FB6

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