Tag Archive | Heavy Metal

Yes, It Exists: King Diamond Action Figure

King Diamond Action Figure
Photo By Gail

You are not hallucinating; this is an officially licensed King Diamond Action Figure that you can own! Created by Super7, the best description I could find of this awesome collectible, including the priceless headline, was found Right Here:

PREPARE FOR HEAVY METAL ACTION

Who said rock stars can’t also be action heroes? With this King Diamond ReAction Action Figure, you can add the famous Danish musician to all your wild adventures. Have him save the day with his impressive vocal range, or with his powerful Dark Metal ballads. Either way, he’s a perfect piece to add to your collection.

You can find King Diamond on various sites around the web for prices ranging from $19.99 to $24.99, so do some creative Googling and get a bargain!

Spotted at The Five Points Festival!

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Video Clip Of The Week: Kodiak, “Goodbye”


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again right now: I would rather listen than any ’80s Metal band for one hundred million billion years than listen to any artist currently on the pop charts for five minutes. Just being serious. For that reason, this week’s high energy clip from New Jersey-based rockers Kodiak is like a breath of fresh air in a vacuum. The no-frills clip for their single “Goodbye,” featuring footage from the studio and the band’s stage show, is a great introduction to this talented band, which includes brothers Pete (Drums) and Chris (Guitar) Biggiani, with Bassist TJ Haefner, and lead singer Eric Dalton. Plus, the group is co-managed by Warren Wyatt and drum legend Carmine Appice. So, props for that.

While “Goodbye” is a classic metal scorcher (comparisons to Van Halen are not unwarranted) Kodiak remind me most of bands like Winger and Dokken: groups with handsome, charismatic frontmen who achieved a crossover appeal by infusing their glam metal repertoire with a few well-placed “power ballads.” I can’t guess whether that will also be Kodiak’s approach, but the potential to stretch out is certainly there. In the mean time, Kodiak guarantee that feel-good, edgy hard rock is officially back in acton. Like them on the FaceBook at This Link. Enjoy!

Kodiak Band

Video Clip of The Week: “Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In” By Tragedy


If you get 20 seconds into this week’s awesome Video Clip and suspect that you may be watching an outtake from This is Spinal Tap, you are not to blame. The tristate area band Tragedy started out as a heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees, but they have now expanded their repertoire to include a wider variety of classic pop acts, and that’s just good news for everyone. Today we feature the video for Tragedy’s metalized performance of “Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In,” a song from the legendary Broadway musical Hair, which was popularized in a 1969 single release by The 5th Dimension. Wikipedia confirms that this song, which is actually a medley of two songs from the play,  was one of the most popular songs of 1969 worldwide, but the lyrical message of “Aquarius” — about welcoming an age of love, light, and humanity — is more important at this moment than maybe ever before in our lifetimes.

Visually, this video is a straight-up, fully stylized band performance intercut with a few thematically appropriate cosmic visual effects and a brief modern dance interlude featuring a pair of blonde babes, to keep it very theatrical and visually engaging throughout. And as much as I wish that the drummer would put on a shirt, I respect the fact that he is fully immersed in his art. Aurally, Tragedy stay faithful to the song’s original arrangement while rocking hard enough to crack a skull. Even the most devoted head bangers will give the horns up on this one.

“Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In” is part of the just-release album Tragedy Goes to the Movies, featuring metal-injected takes on music from cinema classics such as Grease, 007 Skyfall, Hair, and Star Wars: Return of The Jedi, which can be procured at This Link.  The Tragedy Goes To The Movies World Tour kicked off on February 22nd, 2019, for stops in the UK, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Germany and all across the US. Consult the Google for tour dates! Enjoy!

Tragedy Band

Video Clip of The Week: Monster Magnet, “When the Hammer Comes Down”

If there is one band that can always be relied on to deliver the goods when you just want to Rock Out, that band is Monster Magnet. This week’s featured clip is a performance-based lyric video for the group’s current single, “When the Hammer Comes Down,” and it does not disappoint in its delivery of the relentless heavy metal Sturm und Drang that defines iconic front man Dave Wyndorf and his head-banging bandmates.

Visually, this clip reminds me of classic Black Sabbath, with its film negative imaging and minimal, but signature, visual effects. Though not an overtly political song, I’m pretty sure that Wyndorf is opposes the current Administration, which makes me love him even more. Point being that the basic titular theme, and the song’s refrain, “The Universe will do you right/ when the Hammer Comes Down,” can certainly be embraced by the Resistance movement going surging in this country. It could not come at a better time.

The video release of “When the Hammer Comes Down” coincides with the kick off of Monster Magnet’s North American Fall Tour, dates for which are below, in support of their most recent album release, Mindfucker. Enjoy, bitches!

10/8: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
10/9: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
10/10: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
10/12: San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
10/13: Sacramento, CA @ Aftershock Festival*
10/15: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
10/16: San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
10/17: Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
10/19: San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
10/20: Dallas, TX @ Canton Hall
10/21: Houston, TX @ White Oak (Upstairs)
10/23: Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
10/24: Nashville, TN @ Basement East
10/26: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage
10/27: New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater
10/28: Boston, MA @ The Sinclair

Monster Magnet 2018

Recommended Viewing: We Are X, The Death and Life of X Japan

We Are X Movie Poster
Above Image Courtesy of We Are X Film Dot Com. All Other Photos By Gail

When the most popular heavy metal band in Japan came to New York in October of 2014 to play a show at Madison Square Garden, they managed to sell out the legendary arena, despite being virtually unknown in America. X (known stateside as X Japan), got their start in the 1980s as a glam metal band, doing their best to shock audiences with their outrageous stage show and equally over-the-top, gender-bending physical appearances that included flamboyant rock fashions, wildly theatrical hairstyles and Kabuki-esque make-up. But what critics who initially dismissed the band as all style and no substance didn’t realize was that these guys could play their asses off, and were selling the type of rebellious image that repressed Japanese audiences couldn’t wait to buy. Now, an award-winning documentary, We Are X,  aims to bring the myth and enigma that is X Japan into your consciousness.

X Japan Concert Ad

Critics say that the mark of a good documentary is when its story is accessible to, and can be fully enjoyed by, audiences who are completely unfamiliar with its subject matter. Using the career-milestone Madison Square Garden concert as a jumping off point, and circling back to that show (which I attended) at the film’s end, Director Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man) has succeeded wildly at crafting a career-spanning Rock & Roll fable that will surely hook those who’ve never even heard of X Japan right from its opening credits.

Yoshiki at MSG
Yoshiki on Stage at MSG

Told primarily from the viewpoint of founding member Yoshiki; X Japan’s drummer, composer and charismatic leader, We Are X is both the story of the band’s groundbreaking 30-year career, and also the life story of Yoshiki, who turned to music as a child as a means to cope with the suicide of his father. Forming X as a teenager with school friend Toshi, who became the band’s lead singer, Yoshiki was driven to succeed by existential questions that haunted him from his father’s death; namely “What is my purpose?” and “why am I here?”

Yoshiki and Stephen Kijak
Yoshiki and Stephen Kijak Discuss the Film at a Post-Screening Q&A Here in NYC

Embracing a ‘Do or Die’ sensibility, X Japan became not just an innovative and successful rock band, but a cultural force as powerfully influential as that created by The Beatles decades before them. Not only have they achieved phenomenal record sales and concert attendances, but band members’ personal brands are associated with products as diverse as credit cards, wine, comic book superhero alter egos, and dolls made in their own likenesses. X Japan is also credited with spearheading the uniquely Japanese Visual Kei movement.

X at MSG
X Japan on Stage at MSG

The band’s great successes, however, were tempered with equally great tragedies. As a counterpoint to the celebratory  moments, the film carefully explores the suicides of two seminal band members, Hide (in 1998) and Taiji (in 2011), which shattered the lives of both X Japan’s surviving members, and devastated their fans, one of whom was driven to suicide because of the news. We Are X is a true life Rock & Roll story that really has everything.

Yoshiki and Toshi
Yoshiki and Toshi Rocking It Back in the Day!

Despite the intense personal/personnel drama, career challenges and many heart-rending moments, We Are X is also good fun, and thoroughly entertaining. One of my favorite parts happens towards the film’s end, when Yoshiki and Toshi are reunited in 2007, ten years after the singer abandoned X Japan to join a mind-controlling cult. Yoshiki recalls hanging out at the Palladium in Hollywood, where the friends were approached by two guys looking to buy drugs. One of the men asked the duo if they knew where they could score some X (meaning the psychedelic drug, Ecstasy). Yoshiki, whose grasp of the English language is obviously much  better now than it was back then, laughs when he recalls replying to the guy, with complete sincerity, “We are X!” Hilarious.

We Are X opens in theaters nationwide on Friday October 21st, 2016.

Grade: A+

X at MSG
X Japan On Stage at Madison Square Garden, October 2014

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Recommended Reading: Shootin’ The Shit, Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti-Heroes, Icons and Metal Gods By Vinny Cecolini

Shootin the Shit Cover

Way, way back, when I used to interview Famous People for a (meager) living, I acquired a valued reputation as a bit of a Rock Star Whisperer for my ability to get musicians to open up and talk about anything — even subjects or revelations that they had never made before to another journalist. This happened all the time. And while I take full credit for honing this skill through interviews with members of bands like Motley Crue, Duran Duran, Alice Cooper, The Sex Pistols and Led Zeppelin, I did have a couple of valuable mentors in fellow rock journalist friends who showed me the ropes when I was just an egg, and who taught me to me fearless. One of those friends was veteran rock journalist Vincent “Vinny” Cecolini, a Metal God in his own right, whom I have been friends with for twenty years. Vinny is the bomb.

Vinny has just published his first book of his collected interviews with some of the biggest names in metal and extreme rock, which is called Shootin’ the Sh*t — Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti- Heroes, Icons & Metal Gods. Unlike typical collections of rock star interviews,  Vinny’s first eBook is a compendium of conversations with artists  that were conducted during pivotal moments in each of their careers. Plans for pop culture domination; The truths behind long-debated rock ‘n’ roll legends; the inspirations for — and true meanings of — classic song lyrics; the decisions for leaving and returning to major bands; the struggles with such un-rock ‘n’ roll experiences as fatherhood and maturity: these are just a few of the revelations contained within the pages of Shooting the Sh*t Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti-Heroes, Icons & Metal Gods. Each conversation focuses on the artist and not the writer. This is a must read book!

“Fans want to read the artist’s words,” Vinny explains. “They want to read exact, contextual quotes. They don’t care about a journalist’s musings and meanderings. If they did, they would immediately flip over to a magazine’s reviews or editorial section.” As the title suggests, the author never treats his artist chats as paint-by-numbers question and answer sessions, but as friendly, naturally flowing conversations.

“Straight-forward interviews are the kiss of death,” Vinny continues. “When promoting something new, most artists are subjected to a cattle call of interviews. And nothing will bore an artist quicker than hearing the same sterile questions over and over again; nothing will frustrate or turn them off quicker than watching a ‘hack’ journalist stammering as he or she fumbles with a list of questions.

“If a journalist lets the conversation flow naturally, it may take him or her in a different direction than intended, but that is fine. Even if given an agenda by a publication (to talk about a new album, DVD or tour), eventually, the conversation will find its way back to topic.” This practice has resulted in a number of amazing chats with artists such as Neil Young, Meat Loaf, Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and the late, great Ronnie James Dio. Metal!

During his 25-year career, Vinny’s work has appeared in dozens of publications including Hit Parader, Metal Maniacs and Bikini. He was also the head writer for cable network VH1 Classic during the short window when that station actually played music videos. Like many veteran journalists, Vinny accumulated conversations that, for a variety of reasons, had never been published. Shooting the Sh*t is Vinny’s opportunity to help these amazing and often highly candid conversations  a new audience. The idea was born as the author lamented over an unpublished chat with a pre-American Nightmare Marilyn Manson.

Shooting the Sh*t Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti-Heroes, Icons & Metal Gods is available now an e-book on Kindle now and will be available on other formats this week! Get it on Amazon right now at This Link!