The following article is from Revolver's October/November 2015 issue. It is on newsstands now and available for purchase in our webstore.
by Chris Krovatin
For some bands, a laid-back studio experience is a godsend. For Vision of Disorder, it's a curse (pun intended). "We learned our lesson on the last record," says frontman Tim Williams of 2012's comeback, 'The Cursed Remain Cursed.' "We were accepting a lot of show offers, and it just made the writing process take forever. The band needs to be locked into a certain schedule, otherwise people start not showing up. 'I gotta do this, I gotta do that.' No. It's these days. Block out these hours."
Even just weeks into the recording of VOD's yet-untitled new album, Williams sounds sure of himself. He's conversational, relaxed, and quick to talk about his love for Nova Studios in Staten Island, New York—"Beautiful, right on the water." It doesn't hurt that his band is recording with Chris "Zeuss" Harris, whose production credits include Rob Zombie and Suffocation, just to name a few. "Needless to say, his past and the bands he works with—that alone brings enough," explains Williams. What's more, the band wasn't new to Zeuss. "He knows VOD. He's followed us from back in the day and knows what the band's supposed to sound like."
Given that the record's release date is coming up fast—Williams estimates late October—it's good that Vision of Disorder are on top of it, a fact that their frontman attributes to being ready when they arrive rather than completing its songs in-house. "VOD comes in pretty damn prepared," he says. "There's a little apprehension when you first enter the studio. That's normal. But we're a rehearsal band, and we write in the old-fashioned traditional way of four or five smelly guys in a shitty studio jamming out the songs. We're not, 'E-mail this riff to this guy' or 'Send this to that guy.' That's the key to the turnaround."
Look for Vision of Disorder's latest this October on Candlelight Records.
The following article is from Revolver's October/November 2015 issue. It is on newsstands now and available for purchase in our webstore.
by Dan Epstein
John Petrucci is in beautiful Budapest, Hungary on a glorious summer's day when Revolver reaches him by phone. Dream Theater, his progressive metal band, is about to play one of the twenty-five European festival dates they have scheduled for the summer of 2015—and yet, the Dream Theater guitarist and leader admits that he kind of wishes he was back in the studio, immersed in constructing the follow-up to the band's self-titled 2013 opus.
"I'm happy to perform, and I love it," says Petrucci. "At the same time, I'd rather focus on the creative process and working on the album. Switching gears to go on tour is something that's a little bit difficult to do."
Since January of this year, Dream Theater's as-yet-untitled thirteenth album has been slowly taking shape at Long Island, New York's Cove City Sound Studios, with Petrucci producing. "We did the last couple albums there," the axman explains. "It's a great spot for us. It's not too far from where I live and it's where the band originated. It's like home away from home for us."
Though Petrucci says "it's really too early for us to be revealing anything" in terms of details about the record, he does feel extremely positive about the direction that he, vocalist James LaBrie, keyboardist Jordan Rudess, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Mangini are taking with it.
"The new album will be a further progression of the band's creative identity," he says. "Every time that we go into the studio, we always try to make something that's better than the last. Everybody in the band has this kind of attitude where we love doing what we do, we're very lucky to be able to do what we do, and we feel that the best is still to come. That's partially why we self-titled our last album, because it signified a new beginning, and the strength of the belief that we have in the future of the band."
Even so, he says, living up to Dream Theater's impressive history can be rather daunting. "A new album project is like a fresh and inspiring blank canvas, and I love that every couple of years you have the opportunity of reinventing, trying something new and starting from scratch. But given the history of the band, you do have to take all of that into account and consider what we've done already, what we haven't explored yet, and what will not only keep us interested and fired up, but will also keep people who listen to the band excited, as well. You really have to deliver the goods—you can't rest on your laurels, you can't get lazy.
"I think it's cool being in a band where people look forward to your new music," Petrucci continues. "So often, when bands have been around for many years, people just want to hear the old songs. I get the strong feeling that most of our fans look forward to the new things that we do. It's like the same mentality of fans of the 'Lord of the Rings' movies—people look forward to the next part."
Lamb of God's Chris Adler recently dropped by Revolver HQ to talk about his new role in Megadeth. The drummer explains how he went from asking for autographs to becoming close friends with Dave Mustaine, how he contributed to the direction of the new 'Deth material, and so much more! Check out the video interview below!
The following is an excerpt from the Atreyu feature in the October/November issue of Revolver. Here, vocalist Alex Varkatzas discusses the meanings behind a few tracks on the group's latest release, Long Live.
Pick up the new issue on newsstands September 15 or get your copy here. Story by Dan Epstein.
REVOLVER So is the title track, "Long Live," a mission statement for this new chapter of Atreyu?
ALEX VARKATZAS It says it all. It's just about something in your life that you can't quit, that you can't stop—something that you love so much, that gives you so much pride and hope. I can relate it to music and my brotherhood with these guys, but I think we can all relate it to whatever drives us in life.
What's the song "Live to Labor" about?
It's about what I've experienced since I've "not been in Atreyu." I worked. I was lucky enough to hit the ground running with my gym business, and I was doing 40 to 50 hours a week of just training people—I lived in that fucking gym! There were times where I would literally sleep in there between sessions, I was so tired. I come from a middle class, maybe upper-middle class upbringing, but both my parents worked nine to five, 40 hours a week. My dad's an immigrant—the American dream. And that song is about how the whole American dream is just fucked—it's just about keeping you going in order to make money. Like, "You need to go to work so you can buy all this stuff!" But you can't buy happiness, you can't buy good things for your soul. But you can buy a flat-screen TV, so you better get up and work! If you spend your life in pursuit of material possessions, it's not leading to anything.
Switching to the music, Dan is really getting in touch with his inner 80s guitar god on a lot of the tracks.
Oh, yeah! I was so excited about that. One track in particular, "Brass Balls," is so fun, because I just hear the phrase "fuuuuck you!" whenever I hear that riff! The song is just about thinking that you're the cock of the walk, that you've got big fucking balls, and that everybody just worships the ground you walk on—when you're really just an idiot. It's a song I wrote to my 20-year-old self, basically. I'm writing it to the former me [laughs]. I see so many young bands right now where it's like, "You guys are making so much money, and you're doing such dumb shit!" Losing focus will fuck you up—trust me, I know.
Lamb of God's Chris Adler recently dropped by Revolver HQ to talk about the recording process of 'VII: Sturm und Drang,' the Summer's Last Stand tour with Slipknot and how all the recent success is a good sign for metal and hard rock. Check out the video interview below!
Part 2, where Adler discusses his role in Megadeth, is coming soon!
Australian metalcore act Parkway Drive will release their new album, 'Ire,' on September 25 via Epitaph. In anticipation, the band has teamed up with Revolver to premiere their new song, "Sound of Violence." Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments!
Vocalist Winston McCall said, "This is the soundtrack of our existence as a band. Every step we have taken has been down a path chosen by no one but ourselves. We write the music we want to hear, we dress the way we want to dress, we look the way we want to look, we go where we want to go and we play the shows we want to play. Our whole existence we have done things our way in the face of a chorus of voices and opinions telling us that it's wrong and that we don't belong. This is our answer, plain and simple."
Symphonic metal act Stratovarius will release their new album, 'Eternal,' on September 18 via earMUSIC. Here, Revolver caught up with vocalist Timo Kotipelto to find out why Kotipelto thinks 'Eternal' could be one of the band's best, how they did things in reverse order and why Stratovarius as an entity has endured for three decades.
REVOLVER What's new or different with Eternal? Did you approach making this album like a well-oiled machine or did you try anything different?
TIMO KOTIPELTO It's the second album with Rolf Pilve on the drums. After releasing 'Nemesis,' we toured a lot around the world and got more familiar with his playing style and abilities. That helped us when composing the new material.
There is one interesting fact: We had the cover artwork done over a year ago. We knew what kind of cover we wanted, even though the working title was different. The original plan was to start recording back then, but since we didn't have enough good quality material, we had to postpone entering the studio. And I think it was worth giving us more time to compose.
Can you tell me what a couple songs are about? Be as specific as possible, as we want the listener to go listen to these two tracks, after reading what you say, and keeping what you say in mind!
The first single that was released as a lyric video is a song called "Shine in the Dark." That song was written one-and-a-half years ago by Jani Liimatainen and I. While composing it, we sort of decided to make it very melodic and a chorus-after-chorus type of song. This is not so normal song construction in Strato songs. The lyrics are about a friend who passed away when we were kids. But the person is still around, in my mind.
Another song I would like to mention is the last one—"Lost Saga." Matias [Kupiainen, guitarist told me earlier this year that he had one epic song coming up and that he got inspired by some old Viking hymns.
He asked me if I could do Viking-related lyrics. Kinda like an Iron Maiden-type of lyrics. We don't have those topics on our albums. But this time I thought I could go outside the Stratobox and write epic lyrics for an epic song. It took me four nights to learn facts and fiction from the Viking era and I wrote the basic story. On the fifth night, Jani helped me out to refine it.
"Lost Saga" is by far the most time-consuming and most difficult lyrics I have ever written.
Will Stratovarius be doing any U.S. touring in 2015 or 2016? What are the tour plans? When can we expect you here?
We will start our European tour in Helsinki, Finland on September 16 and finish it in Zlin, Czech Republic on November 15. There are some touring plans for the spring , but unfortunately, so far, we have nothing planned for the U.S. It would be nice to come back to play some shows over there, as well!
Stratovarius has been a band since 1984! Thirty years—that's no small feat. What keeps the band going this after all these years? What is the one thing that gets you in the studio and on that stage every night?
I joined the band 1994. Since 1996, there has not been any original members in the lineup. We had some bad times 10 years ago and some lineup changes as well. But the last four albums we have had a very good working flow in the band and a fresh new energy to hit the studio and play live. I guess it's the same thing for us as for many other artists: We love creating music and performing it. Music is our hobby and profession.
This is your 16th album. How would you place it in your canon of albums? How would you describe it, related to the rest of your albums!
'Eternal' is a natural evolution for Stratovarius. It's the fourth album with Matias being part of the band—writing, recording and mixing the album. As I said, we were supposed to start recording more than a year ago but the truth is… that back then we didn't have enough good songs.
We needed more time to compose. And I think it was a very wise decision.
We had our cover artwork already done a year ago. Normally, bands tend to work on the cover as a very last step of the process. This time, we wanted to do that as one of the first steps. The cover probably also influenced us when composing some of the songs. I like the cover a lot!
It took me several weeks to write the lyrics and record the vocals. And I am quite satisfied with the result. 'Eternal' might be one of top three Stratovarius albums. Time will tell, but at this point, I think it's a very good album. But is it our best? I leave it up to the fans to decide.
Symphonic, progressive, and power metal can be such heavily stigmatized words when it comes to metal subgenres. Does that bother you? Do you think you've grown out of those genre parameters at this point? Or do you love it?
We are very often labeled as a power metal band. We do have some progressive and symphonic elements. But they are not our main thing. I think we have our own unique sound and style which separates us from the rest of the bands in the same genre. On 'Nemesis,' we had more choir and orchestra but on 'Eternal' we decided to go bit more back to our 90s style.
Bring Me the Horizon are on the subscriber cover of the October/November issue of Revolver. The following excerpt is taken from that feature. Pick up the new issue on newsstands September 15 or get your copy here. Story by Dan Epstein and photos by Ross Halfin.
Oli Sykes has grappled with more than a few obstacles in his life, including school bullies, loneliness, depression, and drug addiction. But for a few months in 2014, a bad case of writer's block seemed like his most daunting foe yet.
It was back in 2012 that the heavily-tattooed frontman of Bring Me the Horizon had successfully completed rehab for his addiction to the drug Ketamine. The experience was an arduous one, but it had ultimately helped to fuel his cathartic songwriting for 2013's 'Sempiternal,' an album that became a breakthrough commercial hit on both sides of the Atlantic for the British metalcore band. But as the time to make the follow-up to 'Sempitenal' approached, Sykes grew increasingly concerned that he might not have anything left in the tank. "I'll be honest," Sykes tells Revolver, "I was like, 'What the fuck do I sing about now?'"
Thankfully, Sykes' muse eventually returned in the unlikely form of comedian Louis C.K., whose riff about humans using their cellphones to ward off feelings of sadness and loneliness resonated deeply with the singer. "Louis C.K. put it better than I ever could," Sykes reflects, "but he was basically saying that it's so easy to not be alone these days— everyone's on their phones, or they're texting someone, or if they're not doing that they're on their computer. People have become so scared just to be alone with their feelings and their thoughts. And I realized that, for me, a massive part in sorting myself out was accepting what I'm feeling and just sort of letting myself experience it."
As Sykes and his bandmates—guitarist Lee Malia, bassist Matt Kean, drummer Matt Nicholls and keyboardist Jordan Fish—busied themselves with creating their new record, That's the Spirit, an obvious theme began to emerge, one which fired such bracing, anthemic, emotionally resonant tracks as "Throne," "True Friends" and the wryly-titled "Happy Song."
"I wouldn't call it 'conceptual,'" Sykes explains, "but the whole album's about the celebration of depression—not saying, 'Yeah, it's a good thing to be depressed,' but that it's better to accept depression rather than trying to block out the darkness. It's about accepting it, accepting who you are, and accepting what life is.
"I guess it's still a lot about what I've been through, but it's also a lot about how I'm living my life right now. Once you accept how shit life is, it's actually quite fun," he laughs. "It may sound like a negative thing to say, but it's true—it's a lot easier to enjoy life when you're not trying to force it into some kind of grand vision of what it should be. So this is really kind of a positive-negative album, if that makes sense."
Slayer appear on the cover of the next issue of Revolver, which will hit newsstands on September 15 and is available for purchase online right now. You can view the cover below, which was shot by Jimmy Hubbard.
You also can read an excerpt from the issue's cover story, written by Jon Wiederhorn. In this section, Kerry King and Tom Araya discuss what happened to fallen axman Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo's departure.
One of the hardest things I ever had to say to Jeff, 'Dude, you're not ready to play in Slayer,'" recalls band guitarist and songwriter Kerry King of the last day in 2012 when the late guitarist Jeff Hanneman showed up to practice with the band he helped form.
King wasn't trying to boot his musical companion of 30-plus years. He was practicing tough love, hoping to motivate Hanneman into upping his game and making a more concerted effort to return to form after his battle with necrotizing fasciitis, a deadly flesh-eating bacterial infection. The condition, likely caused by a poisonous spider bite in early 2011, ravaged the guitarist's arm, leaving him unable to play with speed and accuracy. He tried to rehabilitate, but found the process too difficult and sank into a deep depression that he countered with alcohol. "We kept trying to infuse him back into the mix because he was there from the beginning and we wanted him back," King explains. And while Hanneman was out of commission, Slayer brought in Exodus guitarist Gary Holt as a temporary fill-in since the bands grew up in the 80s thrash scene together. "We told Jeff, 'Ya know, Gary's been doing your gig and Gary don't mess up. If you get out there the way you are now, aside from the façade of people seeing you and being stoked that you're out there, sooner or later they're going to tune in to what you're playing and know that it's not that good.' That was a tough conversation, for sure. Whenever we would rehearse for any given tour, we would always bring Jeff in assuming he was going to be that much better and that much more ready. But he hit a plateau that he never got better from."
Vocalist and bassist Tom Araya, who was closer to Hanneman than King, says Hanneman had been on a decline of alcohol abuse since his dad died during the making of 2009's 'World Painted Blood.' And after he contracted necrotizing fasciitis, he went from beer to booze. "I saw what was happening so I reached out to Jeff and said, 'Just get your ass back on the road. We'll figure everything else out,'" says Araya. "But I think by then he had given up. It must have really been hard for him. Here we are touring without him. We're moving forward. We made him aware of the fact that he was a major part of the band, but he couldn't do what he loved, which was being out in front of an audience and performing."
Meanwhile, the Slayer juggernaut kept rolling with Holt. The only major obstacle before Hanneman's demise came in early March. Four days before Slayer were scheduled to fly to Australia to play the Soundwave festival, drummer Dave Lombardo posted a rant on Facebook in which he complained about being owed significant royalties and touring income. Caught off guard, Slayer held a band meeting— which included Hanneman—and decided to fire Lombardo.
"Dave was getting some very bad advice and he took it," King says with a shrug. "I felt bad for him. At that point, I never planned on playing with another drummer, ever. I don't like to change stuff. I want to roll with how they are. But Dave sent that ship sailing and me and Tom just watched it go."
Araya is less sympathetic. He never forgave Lombardo for leaving the band in a lurch twice before. "I wasn't shocked because we have a history with Dave, and let's just say history tends to repeat itself," he says with a slight sneer. "In all honesty, I knew something was coming. For three or four years we couldn't come to terms with Dave about anything."
When he heard what went down with Lombardo, drummer Paul Bostaph, who had played on a few Slayer studio albums between 1994 and 2000, contacted King and expressed interest in returning to the band. At first Slayer were wary. Like Lombardo, Bostaph had left the band twice before.
"I was actually on the flight to Australia to play Soundwave with drummer Jon Dette, who was already there with Anthrax," King says. "We land. I turn my phone on and the first text is from Paul. I thought, 'Why would I want someone in my band who quit twice?' That said, Paul never left on bad terms and fans like him. He's got his own little niche of fans that are Bostaph freaks so it worked out well."
With Bostaph back in the fold by the spring, Slayer planned to start working on a new album, hoping Hanneman would contribute to the songwriting even if he couldn't play. After all, he wrote the music for many of the band's best tunes, including "Angel of Death," "Raining Blood," "Dead Skin Mask," "South of Heaven," and "War Ensemble." But Slayer's latest album, 'Repentless,' features just one Hanneman song, "Piano Wire," and that was an outtake from 2009's 'World Painted Blood.' The vocals and drums were re- recorded, but everything else is the same.
Even if Hanneman was excited about working on a follow-up to 'World Painted Blood,' he wasn't physically or mentally able to focus enough to write according to his bandmates. "Jeff sent us one song that was made up of a lot of rehashed stuff we had already rejected," King explains. "I think he was having a hard time remembering what it was like to be Jeff Hanneman. And I don't think he realized he was putting together stuff we had already picked through."
King realized the potential predicament Slayer could be in long before Hanneman's downward slide. As soon as the guitarist became ill from the spider bite, King went into riff-writing overdrive and kept tweaking his songs on and off for four years. Hanneman attended band rehearsals, but usually didn't stay for long. Then he stopped coming altogether. Araya reached out to the guitarist with increasing frequency, but Hanneman stopped texting him back. There was radio silence between the guitarist and the band until the spring of 2013 when Hanneman texted Araya to say he had to go back to the hospital.
"I asked him what was going on and he wouldn't tell me," Araya says. "Then I got a text from him saying he was headed home. I was like, 'Cool, this is great. You'll get home, you'll get better and then you'll come back out on the road.'"
But Araya's optimism was short-lived. "The next time I heard about Jeff was from our manager who called to say he passed away," Araya says, his voice a hushed near-monotone. "I thought, 'What? He just texted me and said he was going home.'"
The Slayer co-founder, best recognized as a blur of blond hair standing stage right in an Oakland Raiders jersey, Hanneman lived for Slayer until the day he died on May 2, 2013 from liver failure.
Hanneman never told his bandmates he had cirrhosis of the liver, caused by years of excessive drinking. And the sicker he became, the more he distanced himself from the outside world. "I knew he was in bad shape," King says. "But nobody expected him to die. When he went into the hospital nobody ever said, 'Hey, you better go see Jeff. He doesn't have much time.'"
Failure recently dropped by Revolver HQ to talk about their reunion, new album—'The Heart Is a Monster'—hearing their music being covered by Paramore, and so much more. Check out the video below and let us know what you think in the comments!