Korn Decimate Anaheim

Photo: Steve RoseKorn wrapped up their second of a two night sold out run at the newly remodeled House of Blues. The venue, now located at the new Garden Walk in Anaheim, was a great site to host this iconic band. They played a great mixture of songs spanning their almost 25 year career. “Here to Stay,” “Shoots and Ladders,” “Blind,” and “Falling Away from Me.” were some highlights from the night. The crowd was as aggressive as the music that was coming from the stage and went to a new level of intensity when singer, Jonathan Davis, came out with his bag pipes during the opening of “Shoots and Ladders.” They kept the energy going into Ray Luzier’s drum solo before being joined by the rest of the band for “Blind.”

Photo: Steve RoseKorn put on a fantastic, high energy show. From the first note, to the last chord of the night, guitarists Munky and Head had their signature dreadlocks whipping around as they churned out memorable riff after riff on their detuned 7 string guitars. Bassist, Fieldy, was awesome as he rattled the venue with his thunderous slap bass style.

The band will head off to Europe before returning the states in late Spring for a tour that will take them into Summer. Don’t miss out on catching them when they are in your area.

Photos by Steve Rose

Korn @ House of Blues Anaheim

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Killswitch Engage Dominates Downtown L.A.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Novo Theater in downtown Los Angeles was the place to be Friday evening for a great night of metal with Unearth, Exodus, and Killswitch Engage. With these three acts on the bill, this show was guaranteed to deliver and they went above and beyond with their performance.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Unearth kicked things off with a great set that included “The Great Dividers,” “My Will be Done,” and my favorite from their set, “Giles.” This song had one of the biggest circle pits of the night and was definitely one of their standout performances. This Massachusetts based band was a great selection to kick off the show and fire up the crowd. Guitarists, Buz McGrath and Ken Susi, were phenomenal all night as they made great use of all 7 strings on their signature LTD guitars.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Exodus was the next band up and these bay area vets wasted no time in unleashing their brand of brutal thrash. Gary Holt and Lee Altus were masterful on their ESP guitars as they sawed through their picks playing their signature high-octane riffs during their eight song set. Notables during their show were “Blood in Blood Out,” “Bonded by Blood,” and the closing song, “Strike of the Beast.” Steve Zetro Souza did a fantastic job all night singing these songs and getting the crowd going. He sent a shoutout to his fellow “satanic hispanics” in the crowd before inviting Dino Cazares of Fear Factory and Brujeria to take the stage so the band could wish him a happy 50th birthday.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Before the crowd had a chance to catch their breath after Exodus’ crushing set, Killswitch Engage energetically took the stage and put on a great headlining set. The band played a diverse selection of songs ranging from songs off their current album, Incarnate, to earlier releases like “My Last Serenade” from their 2002 release, Alive or Just Breathing. Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz were a dynamic pair all night. Their high energy level of guitar playing was inspiring and great to see live. Their Caparison guitars sounded great and they were able to dial in some awesome tones through their rigs. Vocalist, Jesse Leach, drummer,       Justin Foley, and bassist, Mike D’Antonio also put on noteworthy performances.

Photos by Steve Rose

Unearth

Unearth @ The Novo

Exodus
Exodus @ The Novo

Killswitch Engage
Killswitch Engage @ The Novo

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Signature Style: Cost Effective Quality

It seems like more and more artists are getting signature model guitars and these guitars are being made overseas to make them more cost effective to hopefully get them into the hands of more people. As a guitar player, do you think that the quality of a particular instrument diminishes because it is made outside of the U.S.? Are U.S. made guitars superior to guitars made in China or Indonesia? Is the feel and sound of the instrument all that matters and all that should matter? These are all very important and relevant questions that should be addressed.

First off, I know many guitar players who refuse to play another artist’s guitar. Some have a problem with someone else’s name on the guitar, while others believe that the guitar should be for that artist or their fans. Personally, I have no issues in playing or owning a signature model guitar. I like that they tend to have different specs or features not on stock models and at times, they are limited production models, and have some added value. Some guitars are very artist specific like the various James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett ESP and LTD models, while other artists like Eric Johnson or The Edge have understated Fender Stratocaster signature models. It all comes down to the preference and style of the consumer and they type of guitar they feel like playing.

So if you’re the type of musician who would own a signature guitar, do you care if it is made in the U.S. or overseas? There are some musicians who if they buy a signature model, will only buy a U.S. made model because they believe the quality or sound is superior. I have owned a number of signature models and have not found that belief to be true. I care more about how the guitar sounds or feels in my hands than where it is made. I’ve played so many guitars that I can tell almost instantly if it works for my needs. One of my favorites was a 2006 Jackson Dominion that was made in Japan. The guitar could do anything and sounded phenomenal. These guitars are now made in Indonesia as are most Jackson Pro Series models, but that hasn’t hurt the playability or quality.

Recently, artists like Matt Heafy, Brent Hinds, and even the legendary Tony Iommi have announced Epiphone signature models. Each of these musicians could very easily have a Gibson signature line, but have realized that what matters is playability and reliability. If that can be achieved by making a guitar overseas and keeping the costs more affordable to the consumer then it is a great balance. Even Hinds’ fellow guitarist in Mastodon, Bill Kelliher has recently left Gibson to sign with ESP and his first model is a LTD signature that will be released in the Fall. These artist signatures aren’t just limited to Epiphone endorsees either; Paul Reed Smith has announced a PRS SE model for Periphery’s Mark Holcomb that joins other guitars in the signature SE line with artists like Santana and Mark Tremonti. This is just an example of a few guitar manufacturers that have taken their production of signature models overseas and haven’t sacrificed any quality or playability. Guitar god Zakk Wylde started his own company, Wylde Audio, to produce instruments, amps, and pedals. The first few models have begun shipping and production of all of those instruments takes place in Asia. The trend is going toward high quality, but cost effective instruments that sound great regardless of where they are manufactured.

To those signature guitar naysayers: more often than not, there is another name on that single cut Gibson electric guitar, and that signature model has done pretty well.

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Scorpions and Queensryche are a Winning Pair in Vegas

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Scorpions and Queensryche wrapped up their penultimate show at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. This residency, dubbed “Blacked Out in Vegas,” consisted of a five night run at this fantastic venue. The crowd was energetic and excited from the moment that Queensryche took that stage and that emotion carried over until the Scorpions played their last note of the night. These two bands have been touring together since last Fall and compliment each other nicely. They both have die hard fans that live and breathe on each note played or lyric sung.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Queensryche put on a fantastic eight song set that was filled with fan favorites like “Operation: Mindcrime,” “Jet City Woman,” and “Queen of the Reich.” Michael “Whip” Wilton’s playing was fiery and inspiring as he tilted his body back to go with the notes being bent on that familiar skull painted ESP guitar. The other members of the band were all dialed in, while singer, Todd La Torre was spot on vocally and did a great job interacting with the fans.

Following a short break, the kabuki curtain with the Scorpions Return to Forever artwork on it, dropped to the ground, and the band emerged from the fog and kicked off their eighteen song set with “Going Out With a Bang.” Throughout the night, the band played a mixture of current songs and the legendary ones that they are known for. “The Zoo” is always a good one and the band played it early in the set. This song features Matthias Jabs on the talk box and handling the lead duties on his black explorer style guitar. Rudolf Schenker and bassist, Pawel Maciwoda, patrolled the stage and played to everyone in the front row, at times pointing and smiling at selected fans who were yelling to get noticed. For a band entering it’s 51st year, they show no signs of age or slowing down. Klaus Meine still has that legendary and recognizable voice and showed his appreciation to the fans by throwing out handfuls of drumsticks to as many as he could in between musical breaks.

Both bands put on great, hard rockin’ sets and it’s obvious they each love playing these great songs to their adoring fans. These two bands only have a couple of dates left together, but both have extensive touring plans throughout the year.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

 

Queensryche @ The Joint

Scorpions @ The Joint

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AfterNAMMth: 2016 Edition

It’s that time of year when gearheads like myself get excited for the late-January trip to Anaheim. It’s always hectic trying to deal with the masses when parking and then having to join them as we funnel through the few available entrances of the convention center. NAMM is the only time of the year when I agree to wait in line to use and escalator and only be allowed to ride it in small groups.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Ernie Ball Music Man booth was my favorite booth of the convention. They showcased all of their new products in a thoughtful way that encouraged interaction with those visiting the booth. Some notable standouts from EBMM were their new line of overdrive and delay expression pedals, the Cutlass and Stingray guitars, and new signature models for St. Vincent and James Valentine. The St. Vincent guitar is by far the most unique and visually intriguing instrument of this year’s guitars. The guitar I was most impressed with, and the one was named Best in Show for 2016, was the new James Valentine signature model. This guitar looks great, plays great, and that’s all that you’re really looking for in a quality instrument.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Another standout booth was D’Angelico guitars. Their guitars are mainly hollow, or semi-hollow, body instruments that feel like art pieces as much as they do as guitars. I am highly considering getting a EX-DC as my next guitar. I was also a fan of the EXL-A, an acoustic archtop guitar that was stunning. I would recommend those to anyone looking for an affordable, well built instrument and especially to those looking for a great jazz box. D’Angelico also had a cool looking, limited edition EX-59 Marilyn Monroe guitar that caught the attention of many, but is only limited to a run of 20 — 12 of which will be for the US. The most unique guitar in their booth was the Teardrop New Yorker, which is part of their New York made Master Builder series.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

Both ESP and Schecter impressed me with their instrument diversity and are sure to attract a variety of supporters. In the past, I felt like ESP and Schecter both catered toward the hardcore, or metal player, but now I feel like they are trying to branch out with more classic shapes, while still providing the radical designs that brought them to the forefront. Schecter had a great take on a Gibson Explorer-type of guitar that will definitely be of interest to many. They also unveiled a new Jeff Loomis guitar, called the Cygnus, which I expect will be a very popular model for them. ESP debuted two signature models that both look awesome: the Glen Tipton signature and a new James Hetfield V.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The Fender booth is consistently impressive and this year did not disappoint. They announced the limited edition Magnificent Seven series of guitars, which will be released for only one month per model and with limited quantities of each. Similar to last year’s 10 for ’15, these guitars are sure to sell out and become instant collectors items. I was excited about the release of both a signature guitar and amp for The Edge.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

The U2 guitarist’s sound is immediately identifiable and a good portion of that has come from using Fender products. The black strat and maple neck are timeless classics for a reason and it was not a surprise that The Edge chose them for his signature model. His hardwired Edge Deluxe amp is the fourth signature amp that Fender has made, building upon the success of the Eric Clapton amps. Fender also introduced the Bassbreaker Series of amps which consists of nine different models that will appeal to a diverse group of players. This is definitely one of the new releases at NAMM that I wish I could’ve spent more time playing.

The return of the CE model from PRS was a definite highlight for me. After being off the market for at least 10 years, PRS has decided to bring back this popular model that first debuted in 1988. Between the resurrection of the CE and the jaw dropping Private Stock models, PRS continually puts out high quality instruments. I also appreciate that Paul Reed Smith can often be found taking pictures and answering the questions of players, dealers, and associated media.

Photo: Steve Rose

Photo: Steve Rose

In the matter of full disclosure: I’m not only a fan of these guitars, but I’m also a proud owner of a 30th Anniversary Custom 24 and couldn’t be more pleased.

The lackluster booth of the NAMM show (in my opinion) unfortunately went to Gibson. Their 2016 lineup featured the departure of the robot tuning gimmick and returned the brand to the quality and reputation that its fans have come to expect. The lowered price points will definitely help soothe the sour taste in the mouths of those who jeered the moves that Gibson had made in years past. I felt like the booth was too dark and it felt more like Club Gibson than a company trying to showcase their beautiful instruments. I like that Gibson had some top of the line models available to demo, including the limited edition Bob Dylan SJ-200, which was a treat to play. Gibson was more sad city than music city and that was kind of a let down.

As the 2016 winter NAMM show comes to a close, I’m excited about all of the new gear coming out soon. I have already begun plotting how I’m going to afford some of the things that stood out. My legs are excited to have another year to prepare for the hell I put them through walking the floor. It may be an insignificant detail, but I was impressed that D’Angelico passed out little bottles of hand sanitizer in their gift bags. I appreciated that D’Angelico was thoughtful enough to help us fight the dreaded NAMMthrax virus.

NAMM 2016

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Soulfly Delivers a Pulverizing Set at the Fonda Theatre

MaxSoulfly kicked off their We Sold Our Souls to Metal tour in Los Angeles at the Fonda Theatre on Wednesday night. This tour celebrates the release of their new album, Archangel, which is the band’s tenth album and second under Nuclear Blast. The new album is unmistakable Soulfly, with heavy, but melodic rhythms and crushing guitars that fans have come to expect.

The opening bands were Shattered Sun and Soilwork. Decapitated was supposed to be on the bill, but there were some unforeseeable issues and they couldn’t make it. Shattered Sun put on a brief, but heavy set and seemed to make some new fans by the time they were done. Soilwork also put on a crushing set and had many rabid fans keeping the energy going in the circle pit. When it was time for Soulfly to take the stage, the crowd was worked into a sweaty, beer drenched lather and were ready for those pulsating Brazilian rhythms that Max Cavalera pioneered.

Max ESPMax, with his signature ESP guitar strapped around him like a soldier going into battle, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand all night. The band was high energy for the duration of their set and fellow guitarist; Marc Rizzo handled the band’s complex lead lines on his Schecter seven string, making them look almost like a mortal could attempt them.

This was a great show from top to bottom and Soulfly is one of those bandsSoulfly that has the ability to pick you up, change your mood, and feed off of the energy that they provide. Check out the tour dates and catch the band when the come to your town.

 

 

Soulfly




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Daily Gear Obsession: I Want You Back Part 2

Today’s Daily Gear Obsession wraps up the final two guitars that I once owned and wish I still did. The hard truth is that I wouldn’t have been able to keep all four, but it is nice to reminisce about what could’ve been.

ESP Kirk Hammett KH2 – This was a great, sleek looking guitar. This guitar had a fast neck and was very easy to play. The skull and cross bone inlays were a perfect fit for this guitar that just begged for some Metallica songs to be played on it. Naturally, I obliged and appreciated the guitar’s versatility in playing all styles of music. The EMG pickups sounded awesome and the 81 and 60 were a great combination for this speed machine. As I’m typing this, I’m remembering its effortless playing and am longing for it again.

Rickenbacker 360/6 – This guitar was completely different than any other guitar that I owned and I miss its jangle. I’m a huge fan of The Beatles, and I’m sure like many, I had to get a Ric. They just have that sound. That specific, identifiable sound that no other guitar has and that’s what makes it so unique. The neck is small and makes chording a breeze; even those pesky 7th chords that the Fab Four liked to use. The color of my guitar was Fireglo and it was gorgeous. When I think of a Ric, that’s the color that comes to mind. There have been other famous and historic colors, just with The Beatles alone, but the Fireglo is it for me. If you get the chance to buy a Ric you should do it. Don’t second guess it. Then take that guitar and plug it into a Vox AC30 and see if that doesn’t put a huge smile on your face.

This wraps ups the four guitars that I regret selling. My impatience and ever-changing tastes have caused me to loose a lot of money on these guitars and many others. Damn you, eBay!!!!

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Daily Gear Obsession: NAMM Edition Part 1

I have begun to slowly digest all of the goodness that I saw this past weekend at NAMM. I saw some fantastic guitars, some that I will never be able to own, and some, like the Fender Steve Harris bass that I plan to pre-order this week.

Here is the list of everything that is on today’s Daily Gear Obsession:

Earthquaker Devices – Sea Machine V2. This is the ultimate chorus pedal! It allows the player to have complete control over depth, animation, and dimension. I didn’t even know that it was possible to control animation and dimension. This pedal is full of adjustable options and I would probably need to carve out a good part of my day to fiddle with it like I did with the Palisades.

Gretsch Brian Setzer Hot Rod – Gretsch has revamped this line of already great guitars to feature different color options like Green Sparkle and Harbor Blue. Gretsch makes some great guitars and it’s really nice to see so many great models laid out in a row. I used to own a 6120RHH and it was well built and played like a dream. I also love the Setzer Black Phoenix and Billy Duffy White Falcon.

Kramer Satchel Pacer – This is a fun looking guitar. It comes in either yellow or purple leopard print and I am leaning toward the purple. It comes with Seymour Duncan pickups and a Floyd Rose trem so you can bend that bar to your heart’s delight.

ESP Gary Holt signature – This is a thrash monster! The Liquid Metal Lava paint job looks awesome and almost like the guitar has swam through a sea of piranhas. The guitar comes with red EMG 81 and 89 pickups on both the ESP model and the higher end LTD model.

Dunlop Mini Cry Baby – Who doesn’t want a wah pedal that the size of an iPhone? This looked so cool and it will take up a lot less real estate on a pedal board. Given that Dunlop has scaled down the size of its larger pedals like the Fuzz Face, it makes sense that their wah was the next to get this treatment. If they ever do a mini Kirk Hammett wah I won’t be able to get my wallet out fast enough.

Ibanez Mini Tube Screamer – Ibanez has also miniaturized one of their iconic pedals and it looks more toy than pedal. I’m sure that it still retains all of its sonic tradition and I’d love to try it out.

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Day 1: The AfterNAMMth

Today was a busy and tiring day. I clearly did not do enough pre-NAMM training in preparation for what was ahead. I arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center shortly before 9 a.m. and waited somewhat patiently for the doors to open at 10. Once the doors opened, there was a mad dash of every other impatient person trying to find the first of their many booths of the day.

I checked out the Ibanez booth and saw the new Paul Stanley Iceman models they had on display. The cracked mirror one is so cool …and also so expensive. They also had three of the Joe Satriani Art Series models, which all looked very cool and very unique.

The people and products at Earthquaker Devices are really awesome. I had a chance to talk to a couple employees about their new pedals and am eager to try out a few. It’s a bonus when Andy Summers of The Police is checking out pedals right next to you.

I stopped by the Ernie Ball Music Man booth and was welcomed with a number of new colors for the John Petrucci Majesty Artisan Series. They also had a new JP15 model that features a sahara burst and a roasted neck. They were all very cool.

I went upstairs to check out the new Kramer Satchel signature Pacer guitar. This is a great looking guitar and has a very strong “hair metal” vibe.

The Fender booth was very crowded, but I was able to check out some of the offerings from the Fender Custom Shop. Wow, those master builders do not disappoint! I have included some images of their handy work and will post more when I get back tomorrow. I was also happy to see the updated Steve Harris Precision Bass. This new bass is white and features the graphic of his favorite team, West Ham United.

My next stop was the ESP booth which was filled with some crazy looking guitars. A few of the guitars I saw were more art piece than instrument and were priced out at $75,000! I was also impressed by the new Gary Holt signature series. Gary was previously with Schecter Guitars and this is his first signature line with ESP.

What’s better than a wall of Marshalls? Nothing. The Marshall display never disappoints. It’s a towering behemoth of sound and it looks so damn cool. In looking at my pictures from last year, I realized that I took the same shot this year, but from the other side.

A stack of Orange cabs was really sweet and I was impressed with the layout of their booth. They have a wide variety of products ranging from the aptly titled Rockerverb to the new Crush series of amps.

I also got to meet some fantastic musicians throughout the day. First was the great bass player, Marcus Miller, who was very gracious with his time and demoed a couple pedals at the Dunlop booth. Next was Devin Townsend, who is another nice guy that loves to talk gear. While waiting in line at the Music Man booth for John Petrucci, Uli Jon Roth walked by and I got a picture with him.

Warning: If you find yourself in Hall E of the Convention Center, do not walk to the end of the hall unless you’re a drummer or really love cymbals. The amount of noise and overall sonic chaos left me looking for the quickest way back up the escalator.

…also, if you’re ever walking next to Rickey Medlocke and Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynryd, make sure you don’t have a slice of Sbarro pizza, 2 breadsticks, and a Coke in your hand. It makes it really hard to approach them to say anything. I didn’t get a chance to meet them, but I did pay $10.25 for the above mentioned combo.

 

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