Discussion with musicians, guitar makers, industry folk and just plain interesting people. By music journalist Peter Hodgson
Each time Firewind released an album over the last 20 years, it wasn’t just the brilliancy of exceptional guitarist Gus G (Ozzy Osbourne, Arch Enemy, Dream Evil) that fans were in awe of, but also the skills of every one of the band’s vocalists. Fantastic riffs, hooks and solos by the gifted hands of guitarist Gus aside, it’s the great vocal melody – an integral part of every Firewind song – that’s causing a stir. In that respect nothing has changed in their newest album, simply titled Firewind, quite the contrary: with his charismatic voice new member Herbie Langhans (Avantasia, Radiant, Seventh Avenue, amongst others) refines each and every last one of the ten new songs and infuses them with an expressive force that is remarkable. “With Herbie I feel like we’re doing a relaunch of the original Firewind cast, because his singing style bears a certain resemblance to that of Stephen Fredrick, our first
vocalist,” comments Gus. “I’m proud and happy that we can continue with the tradition of great Firewind vocalists thanks to Herbie.” On 15 May 2020 at the latest, when Firewind will be released via AFM, the public will hear just how competently new band member Langhans has stepped up to this challenge.
Gus G and Herbie Langhans got to know each other back in the autumn of 2019, when the Firewind leader was looking for a suitable replacement for Henning Basse after the tour with Queensrÿche. “I remembered Herbie singing for Sinbreed and how amazed I always was by his vocal performance”, he recalls. “So I did some research on YouTube, had my record company reach out to him and got right down to it: ‚Hi Herbie, here are ten new songs, can you help us? Deadline is mid of January.‘ Luckily, Herbie agreed immediately and got familiarised with everything in no time.” Just a few weeks later the recordings for Firewind were a done deal, ready for Swedish sound engineer Tobias Lindell (Europe, Avatar, H.E.A.T.) to mix them in ‚Lindell Audio Studios‘.
The result is impressive indeed. Firewind boasts 11 prime examples of Melodic Metal songs. The skill, craftsmanship and power bleeds through every note, a passion you can almost taste, with hymnal melodies as a particularly outstanding feature. Stylewise, the band actually broadened their range compared to earlier releases: With 'Welcome To The Empire' and ‘Rising Fire’ you’ll get your typical Firewind blend. Whereas ‘Overdrive’ dressed in a groovy rhythm and reminiscent of Dio/Black Sabbath (Gus: “That was a new direction for me. The song was supposed to be just a little bonus number but it took on a life on its own and was doing so well that it just had to be on the album”) and ‘Space Cowboy’ in all its retro flair glory will take you by surprise. But there’s still more: ‘Orbitual Sunrise’, ‘Longing To Know You’ and the above-mentioned ‘Space Cowboy’ are connected through their lyrics. ”It’s kind of a Sci-Fi story about the overexploitation of nature seen through the eyes of a lonely astronaut, orbiting earth in his space capsule,” Gus explains.
It`s official: The band has once again brought their full potential, making Firewind a more than worthy successor of their 2017 concept work Immortals. “The new album is an exciting and fashionable mix of Hard Rock and Power Metal. These songs are fresh but tough and melodious at the same time. In my opinion the record sounds exactly as a band in our genre is supposed to in the year 2020. But of course, the key feature lies with the quality
of the composition, which has been our main focus again,” comments Gus. There’s nothing more to add to this succinct assessment!
Al Di Meola
World-renowned guitar hero Al Di Meola welcomes a new decade with an ambitious follow-up to his 2013 studio recording All Your Life: A Tribute to the Beatles with a sophomore homage to the Beatles, entitled Across The Universe, due out on earMUSIC on March 13, 2020.
Al Di Meola’s exquisite mastery of the fretboard is equal only to his appreciation of the Beatles’ legacy that has inspired generations of both musicians and music fans with their famed recording catalog. A retrospective of Al Di Meola’s nearly 50-year acclaimed career expressed through his virtuosic arrangements of 14 Beatles songs, Across The Universe journeys alongside one of America’s foremost guitarists as he revisits classic hits and more obscure tunes written by the ingenious Fab Four who have helped define the man he is today.
Adding to his lauded recording collection of more than 30 solo albums and numerous acclaimed collaborations with the likes of Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Stanley Clarke, Paco De Lucia and many others, Across The Universe is yet another masterpiece showcasing Al Di Meola’s fascination with complex rhythmic syncopation combined with provocative lyrical melodies and intricate harmonies. Beatles fans, guitar-heads, and music lovers alike can expect the unexpected upon venturing into the world put forth by Across The Universe. To commemorate the singular life of John Lennon, Al Di Meola reenacts the famous Lennon cover for his 1975 solo album Rock ‘n’ Roll for the artwork for Across The Universe.
Al Di Meola is a living legend celebrated for pioneering a unique style of impeccable guitar technique combined with a sophisticated global musical language that’s captured the hearts of audiences across the world. A GRAMMY Award-winner, he’s garnered three gold albums while selling more than six million albums in worldwide sales. His collaborations with artists such as Paul Simon, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Page, Santana, Steve Winwood, Herbie Hancock, Frank Zappa, Luciano Pavarotti, and others have elevated Al Di Meola to become a household name. Traversing divinely across multiple genres including flamenco, Latin, fusion, jazz, rock, and world music, Al Di Meola is a vivacious tour de force always redefining the boundaries of what’s possible on a six-stringed instrument. Across The Universe is no different than his most decorated recordings with his arsenal of a large ensemble bringing creative reinterpretations of Beatles songs to astounding heights.
“I really credit the Beatles for the reason why I play guitar,” says Al Di Meola. “That was a major catalyst for me to want to learn music, so their impact was pretty strong.”
Al Di Meola employs a wide lens on Across The Universe with lightening-speed electric guitar orchestrations balanced with lavish acoustic arrangements. The debut single Strawberry Fields Forever from Across The Universe (released today, January 17) is a fiery electric guitar fueled stunner backed by a red-hot rock band. Epic rock ‘n’ roll covers are sprinkled throughout the album, including the visionary take on the album opener Here Comes The Sun, as well as a riveting Hey Jude and Golden Slumbers Medley. Al Di Meola’s acoustic fingerpicking soars on Dear Prudence and Norwegian Wood, while he ventures to a jazz fusion aesthetic on Till There Was You.
Across The Universe simmers to a diverse set of mid-tempo grooves on Mother Nature’s Son, Yesterday, Your Mother Should Know, I’ll Follow The Sun, and Julia. Al Di Meola features a lovely solo performance on Here, There And Everywhere. Across The Universe finishes with a short, but very sweet melodic version of Octopus’s Garden.
Across The Universe will be released as a
CD Digipak, 2LP and Digital on March 13, 2020 on earMUSIC.
Songwriter Andrew Farriss offers up a funky country groove 'Good Momma Bad' as the second single from his highly anticipated forthcoming self-titled debut album. I caught up with Andrew to talk about the record, guitars, and the challenges of stepping into the spotlight.
Photographer credit: David Christopher Banks
John 5 is about to begin his first ever solo tour of Australia. We geeked out a bit because of course we did.
Full tour details here! https://silverbacktouring.com.au/john5-2019/
Pinnacle Music Group are absolutely thrilled to announce that the legendary guitar virtuoso MARTY FRIEDMAN will be returning to Australia, for the first time with his full “Super Band” across four VERY intimate venues.
With a career of over thirty years with some of the world’s biggest heavy metal acts on top of an absolutely monumental solo career, Marty Friedman is a household name for guitarists across the world, and Australian fans get the chance to see the legendary shredder himself tear it up onstage in four incredibly intimate venues, giving fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience Friedman’s guitar wizardry closer than ever before
ULTIMATE VIP PACKAGES AVAILABLE!
You all have heard how great the VIP packages were for Marty`s US and Europe tours-this time will top even that! What you get with this great package:
– Meet Marty and have ALL your items signed – no limit
– Photo with Marty – with your own camera
– Chat with Marty – no rush through
– Exclusive Marty Friedman guitar pick – the exact same one he uses
– And the rarest of the rare—the VIP only CD, “Marty`s Vault 4: Wicked Sh*t From Japan”
If you know anything about the previous VIP packages, you will know that participants all received “Marty`s Vault 1, 2 & 3” Those are not available anywhere anymore. The new 75 minute Marty`s Vault “4” cd continues in a series of Marty`s recordings that he has done in Japan that have not been heard outside of Japan and contain some of Marty`s finest and favorite playing of his career. This is a must have for any Marty collector and is not for sale anywhere and ONLY available with the VIP package.
VIP packages are limited. To get yours now, please send an empty email to:
Wednesday, December 11: Crowbar, Sydney
Thursday, December 12: Crowbar, Brisbane
Friday, December 13: Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne SOLD OUT
Saturday, December 14: The Basement, Canberra
Sunday, December 15: The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne NEW SHOW
Tickets on sale now via Oztix or
Matty T Wall
How does a musician, who happens to be pretty handy on the guitar, but lives in the most isolated capital city in the world, get some of the finest Blues guitarists on the international music scene to take part in his latest project? Simple. He asks them.
Australian blues-rock barnstormer, Matty T Wall has been on a rapidly rising career trajectory since his 2016 debut release Blue Skies was nominated as Best Blues Album (International) at the 15th Annual Independent Music Awards.
Wall’s 2018 follow-up Sidewinder proved the success was no one-off - the album subsequently reaching the upper echelons of blues airplay charts in Australia, the US and Europe, and opening plenty of doors all around for this firebrand singer-songwriter and fearsomely talented guitarist.
While Wall’s latest release may be a tad unexpected, it’s sure to be very welcome for blues lovers. With a roll call of guests including Eric Gales, Walter Trout, Kirk Fletcher, Kid Ramos and fellow West Australian Dave Hole featured, the aptly titled Transpacific Blues Vol. 1 will be a must-have for lovers of classic blues numbers and amazing guitar skills.
With his abiding love of blues traditions combined with a thirst for new and different approaches to the genre, not to mention an adventurous and enthusiastic approach to his craft, Wall reached across the oceans to invite some of the greatest blues players to trade licks for him – resulting in an album of classic blues songs with plenty of creative twists.
“I’ve wanted to do a collaborative release for quite a while, but my initial idea was to do something with Australian artists,” Wall says of the project’s origins. “However, I’d always been inspired by what Gary Moore did with Still Got The Blues, he had Albert King, Albert Collins and even George Harrison playing on it.
The seeds of inspiration sown – Wall’s initial idea became more ambitious. As he explains “I just thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to see if I can interest some of my absolute idols - some of the very best guitarists in the world - to participate in this project – they can only say no right? So, I just thought – well, why not ask them? ”
Why not indeed. While Wall was focussed on the album being an internationally angled release, the first cab off the rank enabled Wall to think act local and think global. “Dave Hole is a huge blues name at home as well as in the US and Europe,” he states. “He ticked all the boxes right from the start, plus he’s just a wonderful guy – so generous and wise -.he was actually the inspiration for me taking my version of blues & music to the rest of the world! I wouldn’t have thought that possible to do were it not for Dave’s breakthrough success.”
“From there I wanted to see if I could get some gun guitar players from the US. So Kid Ramos was the next guy. He’s an incredible guitarist who is very much like Brian Setzer (Stray Cats), he’s got that sort of vibe going on, and he’s a former Fabulous Thunderbirds guitar-slinger. I was then talking to a friend in the States about Eric Gales, who is absolutely my favourite guitar player at the moment and probably will be one of them forever. He’s like Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jimi Hendrix, the solos just flow out of him. Virtuosic, incredible solos. He listened to some of my stuff and he really liked it and wanted to go ahead, so it was really great to get that approval.”
Next up on Wall’s blues hitlist was one Walter Trout. The great blues master and former Bluesbreaker is very much in demand, headlining major festivals and dominating international blues charts. But, Wall’s call was answered, and then some...
MATTY T WALL SOCIAL MEDIA
Peter is a great interviewer that really knows his stuff when it comes to guitar.
Really enjoyed the first episode, and as a fan of the host, I look forward to many many more!