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Delaney Bramlett, Heaven and Hell, Black Sabbath, Dio, Deep Purple, AC/DC, Metallica, Megadeth, Danzig, Guns N Roses, and tons more news

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  • Robert
    Singer-songwriter-producer DELANEY BRAMLETT, who penned classic rock songs such as Let it Rain and worked with musicians GEORGE HARRISON and ERIC CLAPTON,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 29, 2008
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      Singer-songwriter-producer DELANEY BRAMLETT, who penned classic rock songs such as 'Let it Rain' and worked with musicians GEORGE HARRISON and ERIC CLAPTON, has died. He was 69.

      Bramlett died Saturday shortly before 5 a.m. at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles as a result of complications from gall-bladder surgery, his wife Susan Lanier-Bramlett said.

      Born in Mississippi, Bramlett enjoyed a career in the music business that spanned 50 years.

      He is perhaps best known for standards such as 'Superstar', co-written with LEON RUSSELL, which was recorded by USHER, LUTHER VANDROSS, BETTE MIDLER, THE CARPENTERS and most recently, SONIC YOUTH, in a version featured on the Grammy-nominated soundtrack of the movie Juno.

      He also co-wrote 'Let it Rain' with British guitarist Clapton, who also recorded it, and 'Never Ending Song of Love', which was recorded by more than 100 artists including RAY CHARLES, GEORGE JONES, TAMMY WYNETTE, PATTY LOVELESS and DWIGHT YOAKAM.

      During his career, he performed, co-wrote or recorded with stars such as JIMI HENDRIX, JANIS JOPLIN, JOHN LENNON, DAVE MASON, BILLY PRESTON, THE EVERLY BROTHERS and MAC DAVIS. He also produced artists including Etta James and Elvin Bishop.

      He recently released an album A New Kind Of Blues, on independent label Magnolia Gold Records.

      He is survived by his wife, three daughters: Michele Bramlett, Suzanne Bramlett and Bekka Bramlett-Britt, a son Dylan

      Thomas, and a brother John Bramlett. Services are pending.

      Legendary heavy metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio recently spoke to Revolver magazine about the upcoming album from HEAVEN AND HELL — the band featuring BLACK SABBATH members Dio, Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass) and Vinny Appice (drums). The group's first LP since SABBATH's "Dehumanizer" (1992) is being recorded at Rockfield studios in Wales, England (where "Dehumanizer" was also tracked).

      "It sounds great," Ronnie said of the self-produced set which he co-wrote with Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler during sessions in Los Angeles and England. "It's a real cross-section of everything we've done, from 'Heaven and Hell' through 'Mob Rules' and 'Dehumanizer'. I think there's a lot of 'Dehumanizer' in it, but a lot of other things, too, a real good blend of what this band has represented."

      HEAVEN AND HELL has scheduled the following European tour dates:

      May 30 - Moscow, RUS @ B1 Maximum
      May 31 - Moscow, RUS @ B1 Maximum
      Jun. 02 - Helsinki, FIN @ Icehall
      June 3-6 - Sölvesborg, SWE - Sweden Rock
      Jun. 04 - Oslo, NOR @ Spektrum
      Jun. 08 - Gießen, GER @ Hessenhallen
      Jun. 09 - Berlin, GER @ Zitadelle
      Jun. 10 - Bamberg, GER @ Jako-Arena
      Jun. 13 - Burgum, NETH - Waldrock
      Jun. 14 - Karlsruhe, GER @ Europahalle
      Jun. 16 - Bonn, GER @ Museumsmeile
      Jun. 17 - Zürich, SWI @ Volkshaus
      Jun. 19-21 - Clisson, FRA - Hellfest

      More shows will be announced soon.

      Two years ago, Dio, Iommi, Butler and Appice reunited to record a trio of new songs for Rhino's "Black Sabbath: The Dio Years" before launching a highly anticipated and greatly acclaimed world tour under their new moniker HEAVEN AND HELL. Revitalized by the reunion, the lineup is back in the studio now recording the first-ever full-length studio album from HEAVEN AND HELL. To whet the fans' appetites for the new album, HEAVEN AND HELL returned to the road this past summer for a short stint on the Metal Masters Tour, a month-long North American trek with JUDAS PRIEST, MOTÖRHEAD, and TESTAMENT.

      Regarding the band's decision to continue to operate as HEAVEN AND HELL rather than BLACK SABBATH, Iommi told Billboard.com earlier this year, "It really is BLACK SABBATH, whatever we do. We just choose to go out as HEAVEN AND HELL so everyone knows what they're getting [and] so people won't expect to hear 'Iron Man' and all those songs. We've done them for so many years, it's nice to do just all the stuff with did with Ronnie again."

      According to a posting on The Deep Purple Appreciation Society web site, DEEP PURPLE frontman Ian Gillan will join the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra on September 4, 2009 in Graefenhainichen, Germany and September 5, 2009 in Magdeburg, Germany for a performance of PURPLE classics as part of the "Classics Play Rock" concert series.

      As previously reported, the first three DEEP PURPLE reunion albums — "Perfect Strangers" (1984), "The House Of Blue Light" (1987) and "Nobody's Perfect" (1988) — will get the SHM-CD (Super High Material CD) treatment in paper sleeve editions. They will be issued in this format in Japan in late February 2009 as limited editions.

      According to Positive-Feedback.com, Super High Material CD is an improved version of the Compact Disc material that uses super-quality, enhanced transparency polycarbonate material developed for use in LCD screens. They will play in any CD player. Universal Music Japan and JVC co-developed the SHM-CD. They report that the new material allows the pits to be formed more precisely plus eliminates laser splatter. The signal characteristics are improved as a result with overall lower distortion and better musicality.

      According to the DEEP PURPLE Appreciation Society, former Deep Purple bassist Nick Simper was due to play three Mk1 tribute shows in Austria and Germany during November with Austrian rock band NASTY HABITS. All three had to be cancelled, however Nasty Habits drummer Peter Brkusic has now announced that two Austrian shows have been rescheduled for the Orpheum, Graz on March 11th and Reige, Vienna on March 14th. The set list will be comprised entirely of Mk1 (guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord, bassist Nick Simper, drummer Ian Paice, singer Rod Evans) tracks.

      Lars Brandle from Billboard.biz is reporting:

      Albert Music, the Aussie label home to AC/DC, has renewed its exclusive licensing deal with Sony Music Entertainment Australia. The new long-term arrangement covers all Albert Music catalog, digital content and future CD and DVD releases in Australia and New Zealand.

      Alberts' existing partnership with Sony delivered one of the biggest hits of the year Down Under, AC/DC's Black Ice, which topped the chart after its October release and has gone on to shift 350,000 units (seven-times platinum), according to Sony Music.

      "We are happy to continue in this very successful relationship with Sony," Albert Music CEO Tim Prescott tells Billboard.biz. The deal is important for several key reasons, he adds. "It is a building block for growing the international profiles of our great new talent; from both our U.K., and Australian labels, and our publishing sources. We are also closely associated with Sony Music internationally through the AC/DC recording catalog."

      The Pulse of Radio reports: What is Christmas like when you're one of the world's biggest rock stars? If you're METALLICA frontman James Hetfield, the holiday is pretty much like everyone else's. "It's pretty normal, pretty normal," he said. "We got the grandparents up from Argentina, you know. I love decorating. You know, we've got the house all done up. You got kids, you've got to decorate. It's so fun. Try not to spoil the kids too much, but of course they are. We limit it to one gift each, and then of course, you know, you've got family that bombards them and they spend all day opening gifts (laughs)."

      METALLICA just completed the first leg of its North American tour in support of the band's latest album, "Death Magnetic", and will start up again on January 12 in Milwaukee.

      The group confirmed last week that Guitar Hero: Metallica will be released sometime in early 2009, possibly in the spring.

      METALLICA is one of the nominees for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. The final list of inductees will be announced next month.

      MEGADETH is in the final stages of the songwriting process for the band's new album, which is tentatively expected sometime next year via Roadrunner Records. The CD is once again being helmed by acclaimed British producer Andy "Undie" Sneap, who produced MEGADETH's last album, "United Abominations" (May 2007, Roadrunner Records).

      MEGADETH's forthcoming LP will be the group's first with guitarist Chris Broderick, who replaced Glen Drover at the end of last year.

      MEGADETH drummer Shawn Drover has issued the following update:

      "Today is my last day at Vic's Garage [MEGADETH's newly built recording studio in Southern California] before I jump on a plane heading back home [to Atlanta] for the holiday season.

      "Since joing MEGS in 2004, I have had to do the not-so-envious task of getting all my Christmas shopping done on December 24; I am so used to doing this now, that it's really no biggie for me, so I should have it all done and still be home in time for family eve dinner, etc.

      "My silent hope while I was here was to get this record 'demoed' before I went home for the holidays, and I am hapy to say that after today, we pretty much achieved this task. I believe it will really help us, as we all get to listen to what we have done and absorb it all, so we can make a few changes here and there to make the record even better before we start tracking, starting in January 2009. This is a first for James [Lomenzo, bass] and Chris to be in MEGS and to see how Dave [Mustaine] operates from the music's inception (James joined MEGS after most of 'United Abominations' was written, if you remember) — getting the ideas what he has in his head to the actual finished product, though it's no surprise to me that they are handling it like the pros that they are.

      "I will reveal nothing on the style of these new songs — just know that they are 100% HEAVY METAL."

      MEGADETH will embark on the "Priest Feast" European tour in February 2009 with headliners JUDAS PRIEST and openers TESTAMENT.

      Released on September 30, MEGADETH's "Anthology: Set The World Afire" (Capitol/EMI) career-spanning 2-CD and digital collection sold around 2,600 copies in the United States in its first week of release, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

      MEGADETH is in the final stages of the songwriting process for the band's new album, which is tentatively expected sometime next year via Roadrunner Records. The CD is once again being helmed by acclaimed British producer Andy "Undie" Sneap, who produced MEGADETH's last album, "United Abominations" (May 2007, Roadrunner Records).

      MEGADETH's forthcoming LP will be the group's first with guitarist Chris Broderick, who replaced Glen Drover at the end of last year.

      MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine recently spoke to Revolver magazine about what fans can expect from the upcoming CD, which he said will contain "stuff that's melodic like nobody's business, stuff that's heavier than hell, and stuff that's a combination of both." An excerpt from the chat follows below.

      Revolver: How are the songs coming together?

      Mustaine: The way I write, I'll play a riff and tape it and save it. And if I don't use it now, I'll use it later. The very first song I ever wrote, "Rust In Peace… Polaris", didn't appear on anything until the fourth MEGADETH record. Right now, there are about 20 songs that are in the making, and there's another good 25-to-30 hours worth of guitar riffs on tape. And I've also got a lot of old lyrics I've assembled over my career. Some of it's relevant to this day and age; some of it is stuff that, if I released it, would probably get me in a lot of trouble. Those songs deal with a lot of the anger that I felt when I was younger and reading things like [the 1971 underground manual for making homemade explosives] "The Anarchist Cookbook".

      Revolver: Is anything complete and ready to be recorded?

      Mustaine: There's probably seven or eight of those, and then there's a couple of songs left over from the last record and one from the record before that. But sometimes the best stuff I write is at the spur of the moment. I wrote "Angry Again" right after I got out of a treatment center in Arizona. They had done one of those happy little 1990s interventions where everybody who's not loaded gets to point the finger at everyone who is. And the day I got out of rehab, they threw me into a studio in Phoenix where I wrote "Angry Again" for the movie "The Last Action Hero".

      The entire interview can be found in the February 2009 "Mega Preview 2009" issue of Revolver magazine, available on newsstands now.

      Bud Prager, President of E.S.P. Management, Inc. — who co-managed MEGADETH from 1995 to 2001, helping them to their first major commercial radio success and co-writing a number of songs — lost his year-plus long battle with esophageal cancer at his home in Montauk, N.Y. on December 22. Born In New York City on January 16, 1929, he was a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, where he was the recipient of the school music award. He attended Hartwick College and New York University. On his return from active duty in the U.S. Army in Korea, he began attending law school at night while working full time, receiving his LL.B. from New York Law School.

      He started his music industry career working for SESAC, one of three performing-rights organizations in the U.S., attaining the position of General Manager. During this period, he was also one of the founding members of the Country Music Association in Nashville.

      From there, he went to Warner Bros. Records as an independent producer, then to Warner Bros. Music as an independent publishing affiliate, setting up their original gospel music division.

      In the 1960s, Bud formed an independent label, Windfall Records, distributed by CBS Records (now Sony). Windfall was a partnership with Felix Pappalardi, the producer of CREAM ("Disraeli Gears", "Wheels of Fire", the first double album to be certified platinum, and "Goodbye"). The record company grew into Windfall Music Enterprises, which included, at various times, artist management, publishing, production and recording divisions. Pappalardi and Prager helped bring together and managed MOUNTAIN who would go on to write "Mississippi Queen" and perform at Woodstock. After MOUNTAIN disbanded, guitarist Leslie West and CREAM bassist Jack Bruce were brought together by Prager and became WEST, BRUCE & LAING. Later, Prager founded Phantom Records, distributed by RCA Records, and eventually, ESP Management Inc

      In 1976 he helped form and began a 17-year management affiliation with the group FOREIGNER. After repeatedly being turned by all the major record labels, Prager was able to secure a deal with Atlantic Records. The "group that couldn't find a label" went on to sell in excess of 50 million albums, and tours successfully to this day.

      Along with a co-manager, in 1986 Prager helped "resurrect" BAD COMPANY (Atco/EastWest Records). With a new line-up, they went on to have enormous radio success, sell millions of albums, and tour the world.

      The group DAMN YANKEES featuring Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw (STYX) and Jack Blades (NIGHT RANGER) (Warner Bros. Records), which burst onto the hard rock scene in 1989, was another hugely successful band co-managed by Prager.

      Between his record label, publishing and management interests, Bud was variously involved with Dann Huff, Frank Filipetti, Gary Kurfirst, Mike Renault, WHITESNAKE, Corky Laing, the YOUNGBLOODS, the CHAMBERS BROTHERS, FREE, Mylon, Mitch Ryder and others. He was mentor throughout his career to many dozens of artists, songwriters, producers, managers and entertainment industry professionals.

      At his death, he was advisor to, and on the Board of Directors of MRD, a Toronto-based royalty recovery service.

      In addition to his career, he was an avid golfer, bridge player, and sports fan.

      He leaves behind his wife of 42 years, the former Gloria Mahaney, son Evan S. (ESP II), daughter-in-law DJ, two grandsons, Ethan S. (ESP III) and Liam, and brother Harold of Arkansas.

      A memorial service will be planned for early '09. If you would like details, please email espmgt@....

      DANZIG will be headlining the 2nd annual Musink Tattoo Convention & Music Festival on Sunday February 22 at the Orange County Fair & Expo Center in Organge County, California. The event will feature over 200 of the world's finest tattoo artists, art exhibits, lifestyle vendors, educational seminars and skateboarding/BMX demos and more.

      GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Richard Fortus has told TheTelegraph.com that the band's world tour in support of "Chinese Democracy" should start late March and will likely last at least two years.

      Fortus will take part in a one-night-only reunion of PALE DIVINE, a.k.a. THE EYES, a mega-popular St. Louis, Missouri alt-rock act that broke through nationally in the early '90s. The original four members — vocalist Michael Schaerer, Fortus, bass player Dan Angenend Jr. and drummer Greg Miller — will take the stage at The Pageant in St. Louis at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 29, after not playing together for 17 years.

      GUNS N' ROSES' new album, "Chinese Democracy", sold 56,000 copies in the United States in its fourth week of release to land at position No. 33 on The Billboard 200 chart. The CD has shifted 421,000 units since it was released on November 23 as a Best Buy exclusive after a wait of more than 15 years.

      Kevin Cogill, who was arrested in August for allegedly leaking nine tracks from the then-unreleased "Chinese Democracy" album online through his blog, pleaded guilty violating federal copyright laws in a Los Angeles court on December 15. According to the Associated Press, Cogill's plea deal requires him to cooperate with investigators and may lead to a sentence of up to a year in federal prison, probation and a large fine.

      A television show based on the Tracii Guns-led version of L.A. GUNS is currently being shopped to different networks. The guitarist stated in an online posting, "Our label paid to have the show made. I saw the first six episodes… fucking hilarious! Once the show is sold, then we find out the air dates, then we start marketing dollars for the release of the [group's new studio] record, so as of now it's a waiting game." He added, "The name of the band will not be L.A. GUNS for this TV show and album, but we will do some nostalgia shows and festivals as L.A. GUNS… basically just having fun and playing tunes."

      Tracii Guns' L.A. GUNS is not to be confused with the Phil Lewis-fronted group, which is also continuing to record and perform under the L.A. GUNS moniker.

      The band's new album featuring new singer Marty Casey will be released next year via Alexus Records.

      Marty Casey is the former contestant on the hit CBS-TV "reality" show "Rock Star: INXS".

      Guitarist Alex Grossi (ADLER'S APPETITE, QUIET RIOT, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, HOOKERS 'N' BLOW) has signed on to cover guitar duties with BANG TANGO on their upcoming European tour supporting FASTER PUSSYCAT, as well as additional U.S. dates for 2009.

      BANG TANGO's latest album, "From the Hip", was released in October 2006 via Perris Records. The CD was engineered by Scott "Goody" Goodwine (HATEBREED, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM) and was mixed by Taz (CHERRY ST., THE ADDICTIONS, SPINNING CHAIN).

      ADLER'S APPETITE's current lineup includes Grossi alongside returning singer Sheldon Tarsha, Michael Thomas (FASTER PUSSYCAT) on guitar, and Chip Z'Nuff (ENUFF Z'NUFF) on bass.

      According to Classicrockmagazine.com, London’s famous Astoria has set a date from which it will close its doors, although new news suggests that the site may still have a future as a music venue.

      The club is due to be shut down on January 15th with dance promoters Manumission hosting the venue’s final night. The venue, as reported for many years, is to be shut to make way for the new Crossrail project that plans to install a tube line that will link east and west London.

      It is still hoped that a replacement venue will be built to replace the Astoria. Managing director for Astoria owners Festival Republic has told NME.com: “”It is a sad day for music fans who are losing out to long planned and long awaited progress of London’s transport system. We can do no more than celebrate how good (Astoria) was and look forward to its replacement being born when construction begins.”

      EDGUY/AVANTASIA frontman Tobias Sammet has issued the following update:

      "Hey my friends, this year was a very busy year for me. It was a successful year, I managed to keep myself out of trouble, I released two really successful albums and played a great tour. On the private end I am the happiest man on earth and I just wanna let you know, how much I appreciate your loyalty and your support. I thank you for being open-minded, for enduring my hair cut and honesty... and a little pop song every now and then. Seriously, I promise you I will follow my heart, I will never lie to you and as long as I feel so much inspiration and music in me, I will go on and we'll have many more years to go. Thanks for being the greatest fans in the world. See you with Edguy on tour in January.

      I wish you peace, health, happiness, love and whatever you need! Merry Christmas and a happy new year."

      AVANTASIA Producer Sascha Paeth Receives Golden Bobby Award
      Sascha Paeth, producer, engineer and guitarist of AVANTASIA has just received the prestigious sound award Golden Bobby by the German association of sound engineers (VDT) for the best production of the year 2008 - in the category Rock. The song that made the difference was the 11-minutes-epic 'The Scarecrow'. The jury of highly acclaimed and established sound engineers and professors stated that they were astonished at the dynamics and the power and that they couldn't think of a song winning so clearly. "The Scarecrow", latest Avantasia album of EDGUY-main man Tobias Sammet starred a long list of guest musicians (MAGNUM's Bob Catley, JORN LANDE, ex-HELLOWEEN singer Michael Kiske, ALICE COOPER, KISS drummer Eric Singer, SCORPIONS guitarist Rudolf Schenker, GAMMA RAY's Kai Hansen), featured Top 10 hit single 'Lost In Space' and went on the official album charts in 15 countries, going Top 10 in four countries.

      When asked about the award, that is sponsored by the prestigious Neumann-company frontman Tobias Sammet said: "It's no surprise to me, Sascha is one of the best producers in the world. He is a genius, it's just that he can't show the scope of his talent every time, because in most of his productions his clients ask him to put all that fast overloaded stuff, which makes it hard to define and shape a clear but yet powerful sound. The next Avantasia record will feature a symphonic orchestra and I think there is no better choice than letting Sascha arrange, produce and engineer it. He is a great man, a great producer and he deserves that award like no one else."

      Florida-based metallers TRIVIUM have been confirmed for next year's Waldrock festival, set to take place June 13, 2009 in Burgum, The Netherlands. Tickets go on sale on January 17.

      The festival billing is shaping up as follows:


      "Shogun", the new album from TRIVIUM, has sold less than 60,000 copies in the United States since its late September release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The CD follows up "The Crusade", which opened with 31,000 copies in October 2006 to land at No. 25.

      "Shogun" was released in North America on September 30 via Roadrunner Records. The CD was mixed in London by Colin Richardson (SLIPKNOT, MACHINE HEAD, FEAR FACTORY, BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, NAPALM DEATH), with Jeff Rose and Martin "Ginge" Ford assisting on engineering duties.

      Finnish melodic power metal legends STRATOVARIUS have scheduled the following dates:

      May 22-23 - Wacken Rocks - Kreuth / Aurich, Germany
      Jun. 19-21 - Hellfest - Clisson, France
      Jul. 11 - Masters Of Rock Festival - Vizovice, Czech Republic

      EXTORIAN, LORD OF THE GRAVE and SHEVER have been confirmed for the Doom Shall Rise festival, the world's biggest event exclusively dedicated to doom metal. Set to take place on April 17-18, 2009 at the Chapel in Göppingen (near Stuttgart) Germany, the festival will feature performances by the following artists:

      EXTORIAN (D)
      SEMLAH (SWE)
      SHEVER (CH)
      SYRACH (NOR)
      WARNING (UK)
      WINO (USA)

      More bands will follow.

      IN FLAMES and ARCH ENEMY have been confirmed for next year's Norway Rock Festival, set to take place July 9-12, 2009 in Kvinesdal, Norway.

      The festival billing is shaping up as follows:


      Swedish heavy metallers WOLF have issued the following update:

      "We've been getting a lot of emails and questions regarding us touring with METALLICA and we'd like to spread a bit of light regarding the matter.

      "First; we're NOT touring with METALLICA. This was a rumor that started in Sweden and we thought nothing of it since we've heard nothing from our booking agencies. Then we started getting congratulations from all over the world and we started looking into it. We couldn't find any truth or base in the matter so we decided to drop it.

      "Now, since we wrote our '2008 list' (where we mentioned this) on our MySpace, we start getting emails again. We like to thank everyone who writes us and that are looking forward to see us tour, but we're NOT touring with METALLICA. We ARE, however, looking at possible tour options for the 'Ravenous' album tour, and we hope that we're able to get as close as we can to you all on the next tour."

      WOLF recently announced plans to film a video for the song "Voodoo" in Umeå, Sweden with director Owe Lingwall of Village Road Film. WOLF previously worked with Lingwall on the clip for the track "I Will Kill Again", which can be viewed below.

      "Voodoo" comes off WOLF's fifth album, "Ravenous", which is scheduled for release on February 23, 2009 via Century Media Records. The CD was recorded at Studio Seven in Örebro, Sweden with producer Roy Z, who has previously worked with JUDAS PRIEST, SEBASTIAN BACH, HALFORD, HELLOWEEN and BRUCE DICKINSON, among others.

      Commented guitarist Johannes "Axeman" Losbäck: "'Ravenous' will grab you by the throat and it will not let go until you succumb. Our time is NOW and we're taking each and everyone with us. We can't wait to tour for this album and unleash the new songs upon the metal community!"

      STRATOVARIUS has vowed to return with a new studio album in 2009 — the group's first since the departure of guitar player and main composer Timo Tolkki. According to a press release, the new CD will be "a positive and powerful record that the band's fans all over the world are certain to take to their hearts."

      Commented keyboardist Jens Johansson: "After Tolkki gave his blessing for us to go on without him, and after writing music together again this summer and a lot of thought, we have decided to carry the legacy of STRATOVARIUS into the future."

      Added singer Timo Kotipelto: "We are all very excited about the record and about playing STRATOVARIUS music live to our fans. We can't wait."

      STRATOVARIUS' latest addition is 25-year-old Finnish guitar phenomenon Matias Kupiainen. Drummer Jörg Michael said, "In Matias we found new character who fits perfectly with his way of melodic guitar shredding. He is a killer player, a 'wunderkind' from Finland!"

      More 2009 festival appearances are planned and will be announced soon. These dates will be followed by a concert tour.

      STRATOVARIUS 2008 is:

      Timo Kotipelto - Vocals
      Matias Kupiainen - Guitars
      Lauri Porra - Bass
      Jörg Michael - Drums
      Jens Johansson – Keyboards

      MUDVAYNE, NONPOINT and IN THIS MOMENT will team up for a U.S. tour in early 2009. So far the following dates have been revealed:

      Feb. 03 - Waterloo, IA - McElroy Auditorium
      Feb. 04 - Sioux Falls, SD - Ramkota Exhibit Hall
      Feb. 06 - Rochester, MN - Mayo Civic Center
      Feb. 07 - Fargo, ND -The Venue @ The Hub
      Feb. 09 - Green Bay, WI - Riverside Ballroom
      Feb. 10 - Davenport, IA - The Capitol Theatre
      Feb. 13 - Omaha, NE - Sokol Auditorium
      Feb. 14 - Springfield, MO - Shrine Mosque
      Feb. 15 - Mokena, IL - The Pearl Room
      Feb. 17 - Springfield, IL - Prairie Captial Convention Center
      Feb. 21 - Ft. Wayne, IN - Piere's
      Feb. 28 - Sayreville, NJ - Starland Ballroom

      KISS drummer Eric Singer and former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick will appear at the Norwegian KISS Expo 2009, set to take place Saturday, February 21 at Glassheim in Jevnaker. Eric and Bruce will be there to sign, talk and take photos with the fans. The event will also feature dealers from USA, Sweden and Norway (including KissOnline, Kiss Shop and Kiss Army Sweden), videos on a big screen, a KISS DJ and more.

      Expo guests will be able to stay for an exclusive soundcheck.

      Get your KISS Expo 2009 tickets at www.billettservice.no.

      KISS guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley recently confirmed to Classic Rock magazine that the band is seriously considering recording a new album. When asked what the future holds for KISS, Stanley replied, "It looks like we'll be touring Europe as well as the States next year. You'll be getting more of what you saw at the Download festival this past summer — the 'KISS Alive!' vibe amped up to the max. There might even be a new KISS album at some point. I have been ambivalent to the idea in the past but I'm much more open to it now. . . I thought that I'd be content for KISS to remain a heritage act, just playing our greatest hits — 'Detroit Rock City' and all that. But the new KISS lineup with Tommy Thayer (guitar) and Eric Singer (drums) is proving to be so good, so strong in spirit, it would interesting to see how we perform in the studio. I must stress that no recording time has been booked at this point. But it if we were to go into the studio, the
      intention would be to make a KISS album in the style of our 1970s recordings. A classic KISS album, unmistakably."

      MUDVAYNE's fourth studio album, "The New Game", sold 48,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 15 on The Billboard 200 chart. This is less than one third of the opening tally registered by its predecessor, "Lost and Found", which premiered with 152,000 units back in April 2005 to land at No. 2.

      NONPOINT's fifth studio album, "Vengeance", was released in November 2007 via Bieler Bros. Records. The CD was recorded at Bieler Bros. Studios in Pompano Beach, FL with producer Matt LaPlant (SIKTH).

      IN THIS MOMENT's sophomore album, "The Dream", sold more than 8,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 70 on The Billboard 200 chart.

      HARDCORE SUPERSTAR, CRUCIFIED BARBARA, BABYLON BOMBS and GEMINI FIVE will play a small festival called Glam Slam in Växjö, Sweden on Friday, February 27, 2009. The organizer of this festival is giving away a festival t-shirt to the first 250 guests.

      Tickets are avalible at www.t-shirtbymail.com.

      HARDCORE SUPERSTAR has set "Beg For It" as the title of its new album, due in June 2009. The CD is currently being recorded at IN FLAMES' studio in Gothenburg, Sweden.

      The second full-length album from CRUCIFIED BARBARA, "Til Death Do Us Party", is scheduled for release in Scandinavia on February 11 and in the rest of Europe on February 27. The CD was produced by Mats Levén (THERION, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, KRUX, TREAT, AT VANCE, ABSTRAKT ALGEBRA).

      Former FREHLEY'S COMET member Tod Howarth has uploaded an acoustic re-recording of the classic FREHLEY'S COMET song "Time Ain't Running Out" on his MySpace page. He says, "I hope that you FREHLEY'S COMET fans enjoy it; it was done for you, with the idea coming from friend/fan Brian Sword. He has had many that I will utilize this coming year."

      Tod continued, "I will be back to work on the heavy rock CD after the New Year, as this time of the season is busy for most everyone. I've mentioned it before but can't help to say it again — I have many responsibilities besides music so it's taking me a painfully long time to get the new CD done."

      FREHLEY'S COMET recorded three albums, produced four videos before the lineup dissolved and Ace Frehley moved on to his solo effort. Tod continued writing and pursuing a solo record deal and received one from Gene Simmons in 1990. However this was short-lived because of the refreshing sounds of "grunge." Tod liked this new sound but also knew it was to change the face of music, and the direction of his career. After rejoining CHEAP TRICK in 1990, he helped support the continuing "Lap of Luxury" tour with the hit "The Flame". Tod played with CHEAP TRICK consistently until 1997 whereupon he went back at work on solo material. Since 2000 he has played with CHEAP TRICK in special live and TV shows and handled the keys, and backing vocals on the "Silver" DVD. In 2008 he traveled to Japan with CHEAP TRICK to once again handle the keys and vocals for the band's 30th-year anniversary concert, "Live at Budokan".

      According to Ashladan.be, reactivated Arizona thrash band SACRED REICH is among the artists that will perform at the 14th edition of the Graspop Metal Meeting, set to take place June 26-28, 2009 on the festival grounds of the Boeretang in Dessel, Belgium. Also scheduled to appear are LEGION OF THE DAMNED and KATAKLYSM.

      According to the organizers, the concept remains identical: three days of metal mania, four stages, 70 bands, metal market, festival fair, side animation, signing sessions and much more!"

      The 2008 edition of Graspop Metal Meeting featured performances by DEF LEPPARD, ICED EARTH, TESTAMENT, WHITESNAKE and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, among many others.

      For more information, visit www.graspop.com.

      BOURBON CROW, the country side project of Wednesday 13 and Rayen Belchere, has announced the addition of two members to the band's touring lineup: Nate Manor and Roman Surman. Most fans will know Nate as the touring bassist in WEDNESDAY 13, a role he will continue in BOURBON CROW. Roman Surman has also been in the WEDNESDAY 13 camp for a number of years as a guitar tech and sound engineer. He has also provided some of the voices in on WEDNESDAY 13's "Weirdo A Go-Go" DVD. Roman will be handling lead guitar duties, with Wednesday and Rayen playing rhythm. A drummer has yet to be named.

      BOURBON CROW's sophomore CD is scheduled for a late April/early May release, to be followed by U.S. tour dates.

      Commented Wednesday 13: "I look forward to hitting the road with this project. We plan to do some dates in the States in April/May and then hopefully going overseas in the autumn. I look forward to playing live again with Rayen and putting together a new band to bring these songs to life. These songs are different from the last BOURBON CROW CD. We are not labeling this a country CD, but it's more of a 'southern' CD. Some of these songs will fit the country model while some may end up being more of a southern rock vibe. Some have the tongue-in-cheek vibe of the last CD, some are honest songs. It will be hard to categorize what genre this is, so we are calling it a southern CD."

      For more information, visit www.myspace.com/bourboncrow.

      PLACE VENDOME, the project featuring former HELLOWEEN singer Michael Kiske alongside PINK CREAM 69's Dennis Ward, will release its second album, "Streets Of Fire", on February 20, 2009 via Frontiers Records. The songs this time were supplied by different songwriters, who were particularly motivated and enthusiastic to be part of this new project. Torsti Spoof (LEVERAGE) offered up "Dancer", "Changes", "Believer" and the title track; Ronny Milianowicz (SAINT DEAMON and songwriter for PRIMAL FEAR) wrote "Surrender Your Soul", "Completely Breathless" and "A Scene In Replay"; while Robert Sall (WORK OF ART) contributed "Follow Me" and "Valerie". The CD was once again recorded at Ward's studio in Karlsdorf, Germany, with Ward's PINK CREAM 69 bandmate Kosta Zafiriou and Gunther Werno of VANDEN PLAS laying down drums and keyboards, respectively. A promotional video for the song "My Guardian Angel" — written by Magnus Karlsson (BOB CATLEY, PRIMAL FEAR) — is
      included as a special interactive bonus on the album and marks Michael Kiske's visual return on the scene after years of a self-imposed exile.

      Speaking to MichaelKiske.net, Kiske stated about the new CD, "It's more AOR this time. I like it very much so far. Very different to the stuff I normally do. To record the vocals for the projects I usually need two, maybe three evenings (two hours) for a song to get learned and to find the right performance. Often also just one evening. I always do MY thing. I don't believe in vocals were singers are just puppets of other people. That makes very static and unconvincing vocals for my ears. The singer always has to be himself. If someone wants me to sing a song and I say yes to it, it gets 'kiskelized.'"

      Torsti Spoof told MichaelKiske.net about the new album, "I wrote 'Dancer', 'Changes', 'Believer' and 'Streets of Fire'. Tuomas Heikkinen and Pekka Heino wrote the lyrics. The songs are very melodic hard rock. 'Changes' is a bit more AOR than the rest. The songs are not so far from the style of the first album at all. 'Streets of Fire' and 'Dancer' are a bit on the heavier side. It is up to the producer how the songs end up sounding: how heavy, how AOR etc... I can't wait to hear the finished album."

      Ronny Milianowicz stated: "My songs are 'Surrender Your Soul', 'Completely Breathless' and 'A Scene In Replay'. I think it's very AOR and especially 'Surrender Your Soul' and 'A Scene In Reply'. 'Compleatly Breathless' could be a modern pop/metal song. Kiske sang on the greatest album of all time, 'Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 2', [so] to be able to write something for him is a dream come true. Since I started write music back in '88 I always thinking a voice like Kiske in my head when I compose so finally I get the original voice to my compositions."

      Robert Sall: "I wrote 'Follow Me' and 'Valerie'. These songs sounds more like the songs on the WORK OF ART album which I think it's a bit softer than the first PLACE VENDOME record. I didn't write these songs specifically for PLACE VENDOME and I'm a bit surprised that the record company wanted these songs for the new VENDOME record but I hope the VENDOME fans, as well as Mr. Kiske, will enjoy them anyway!!"

      Guitarist David "Snejken" Nordlander has left the Swedish "classic rock" band BACKDRAFT. He explained in a statement, "It doesn't come natural to me any more. Through the years I've given everything, but lately I've lost the devotion and my heart is just not there anymore. Therefore I've made the decision to leave the band. I wish the rest of the boys best of luck and success in the future. Finally I like to say THANK YOU to all the fans and other people out there for your support throughout the years. You made it possible to live the dream."

      The remaining members of the band commented: "We wish Snejken the best of luck and we are sad to lose one of the best guitar players in the world. It will be hard for us to find a new guitar player, but not impossible."

      BACKDRAFT is currently working on material for a new studio album, due in 2009.

      The band's second CD, "The Second Coming", was released in August 2007 via GMR Music.

      Swedish progressive metallers OPETH have been confirmed for next year's installment of the Summer Breeze festival, set to take place August 13-15, 2009 in Dinkelsbühl, Germany.

      The festival billing is shaping up as follows:


      Many more bands will be announced over the coming months.

      Los Angeles thrashers WARBRINGER have been confirmed for the Headbangers Open Air festival, set to take place July 23-25, 2009 in in Brande-Hörnerkirchen, Germany.

      The festival billing is shaping up as follows:

      THE RODS
      ZED YAGO

      British hard rock legends DEMON will play a special 30th-anniversary set at the Keep It True XIII festival, set to take place in April 2010 at Tauberfrankenhalle in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany.

      The festival billing is shaping up as follows:

      SATAN'S HOST (with Harry Conklin)
      SIREN (with Doug Lee)

      Around 20 bands will perform over the course of two days.

      Tickets will be available at the Keep It True XII festival in April 2009.

      BOLT THROWER, SCHANDMAUL, HEAVEN SHALL BURN and ONSLAUGHT have been confirmed for the Rockarea festival, set to take place August 28-29, 2009 at Stausee in Losheim, Germany.

      The festival billing is shaping up as follows:


      For more information, visit www.rockarea-festival.com.

      VITAL REMAINS, DEBAUCHERY and WOLFCHANT have been confirmed for next year's Walpurgis Metal Days IX festival, set to take place May 1-2, 2009 at Festplatz in Hauzenberg, Germany.

      The festival billing is shaping up as follows:


      For more information, visit www.walpurgismetal.de.

      MAYHEM, WATAIN and DARK FUNERAL are among the confirmed bands for the Kings of Black Metal festival, set to take place on April 18, 2009 at Hessenhallen in Giessen, Germany.

      The festival billing is shaping up as follows:


      For more information, visit www.myspace.com/kingsofblackmetal.

      BARREN EARTH is the name of a new Helsinki, Finland-based project featuring members of KREATOR, MOONSORROW, SWALLOW THE SUN and MANNHAI, among other bands. Formed in the fall of 2007, BARREN EARTH's music "combines elements of modern and traditional (death) metal with '70s prog rock and folk," according to the group's official bio. "Among the band's influences are artists like PARADISE LOST, OPETH, PINK FLOYD, JETHRO TULL and also some pioneers of Finnish prog.. The members' individual backgrounds in many internationally known and acclaimed outfits is a testament to the quality of the band's music. These same backgrounds are obviously also echoed in BARREN EARTH's music."

      BARREN EARTH entered Jive Studios in Helsinki this past summer to record several tracks which can now be streamed via the band's MySpace page. Check out the songs "The Flame of Serenity", "Ere All Perish", "Forlorn Waves" and "The Floodred" at this location.

      BARREN EARTH is:

      Mikko Kotamäki (SWALLOW THE SUN, EMPYREAN BANE) - Vocals
      Janne Perttilä (RYTMIHÄIRIÖ, MOONSORROW session) - Guitar
      Sami Yli-Sirniö (KREATOR, WALTARI) - Guitar
      Olli-Pekka Laine (MANNHAI, CHAOSBREED, ex-AMORPHIS) - Bass
      Kasper Mårtenson (VENHO) - Keyboards
      Marko Tarvonen (MOONSORROW) – Drums

      For more information, visit www.myspace.com/barrenearthdemonstration.
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