Godsmack

In February of 1995, after being behind the drums for more than 23 years, Sully Erna decided to start a new band. It was only a matter of time before he realized he needed to take charge and step out from behind the kit to front the band himself. One year and a couple of member changes later Godsmack was born. Sully Erna, Robbie Merrill and Tony Rombola hit the studio and recorded their first CD titled All Wound Up. They did this over one weekend for a measly twenty six-hundred dollars. Over the next two years, the band played throughout the Boston scene with drummer Joe Darco and began earning a strong reputation of being a great live band. The noise they were making in the New England area created a snowball effect like no other.
Godsmack began drawing in bigger and bigger audiences to their live shows. Their CD began circulating through the streets of Boston and eventually landed in the hands of a DJ for WAAF, a Boston radio station. WAAF put "Keep Away" into heavy rotation and it quickly soared to the #1 spot at the station. Newbury Comics, a New England record store chain, agreed to sell the CD on consignment and the grind continued. Shortly after the success of "Keep Away" Godsmack went back into the studio and recorded a single titled "Whatever", which became the new local favorite on WAAF. It took off in the blink of an eye and the race was on.
As a result of the single doing so well, Godsmack's CD began selling hundreds of copies per week, and soon escalated to more than one thousand copies per week, becoming the second best selling CD in that chain of stores. Godsmack's live shows began selling out throughout New England, which in return created more requests for their music on the local radio stations and more CD sales. On and on it went until the summer of 1998 when Republic/Universal stepped up and signed the band to their label.
Joe Darco was soon replaced by Tommy Stewart, All Wound Up was re-mastered and the artwork was changed. The finished self-titled debut CD Godsmack hit the shelves six weeks later. Godsmack hit the road on their first headlining tour, The Voodoo Tour. The bands strong live performances, coupled with high record sales and growing number of fans, landed them time slots on Ozzfest 1999 and 2000, a European tour with Black Sabbath and an appearance at Woodstock 1999.
In 2000, Godsmack released their second CD, Awake. This album's title track dominated rock radio and broke chart records throughout 2000 and 2001. The CD's instrumental track "Vampires" earned the band its first Grammy nomination.
Godsmack toured Awake selling out arenas and outdoor venues nationwide. They gave their fans their moneys worth with a gothic stage, video and pyro; lots of pyro!
In 2002, Sully was asked to A&R the soundtrack for the motion picture The Scorpion King, the third installment in the Mummy saga. The song Godsmack wrote and performed lived up to its title: "I Stand Alone" became the #1 single at Rock Radio and the most played Active Rock song in 2002 for 14 weeks straight.
After spending over four years on the road the band decided to take a break before heading back into the studio. It was during this break that Shannon Larkin, a friend of Sully's for 15 years, formerly of Wrathchild America, AMEN and Ugly Kid Joe, was asked to replace Tommy Stewart.
The new line up headed to Miami to write and record the bands third CD. Faceless was released in April of 2003 and became the #1 selling record in America of that week. Faceless also brought another tour that ran 23 months strong including two more Grammy nominations for "I Stand Alone" and an 11 month
international arena tour with the kings of metal, Metallica!!
In March of 2004, Godsmack released their first acoustic EP, The Other Side which included new versions of previous hits like "Keep Away", "Re-Align" and a haunting new version of the Navy's recruit song, "Awake"! This also spawned a side tour of its own. Godsmack filled in breaks from the big stage with Metallica with intimate storytelling acoustic shows giving their fans the explanation behind the title, The Other Side.
With rich velvet curtains, stone gargoyles and strings of Christmas lights illuminating theaters around the country, fans had a whole new experience of the true talents of this unique foursome. Stripped down to nothing, Godsmack continued to deliver one of the best acoustic performances of our time.
Godsmack ended 2004, and two CD cycles, with a nostalgic New Year's Eve performance at the Hard Rock Café, in Orlando, Fl. During this amazing three hour performance, Godsmack rolled through just about every song in their catalog as well as a few well known cover songs.
The band released Godsmack IV on April 25, 2006 and The Oracle, hit the streets on May 4, 2010.

Coheed and Cambria

The Color Before the Sun, the eighth studio album from progressive post-hardcore visionaries Coheed and Cambria, finally sends this band of space cadets crashing down to Earth. After traversing the outer limits of science fiction over seven acclaimed albums and more than 20 comic books, founder and songwriter Claudio Sanchez is ready to explore his emotions nakedly, plainly and unabashedly. No conceptual framework, no galaxy of characters, no seven-minute epics, no places for the band, as he quips, to "put a laser beam on it."

"I kind of want people to know that Coheed can write that sort of record," says Sanchez. "I've always said in the past that there's never been a limitation on the band. It makes no sense to me to draw a line in the sand and never cross it."

While the most conceptually abstruse Coheed records have always had a foundation in reality, The Color Before the Sun marks the first time Sanchez is exposing his raw feelings, narrated from his own perspective — the anxiety of fatherhood, the disorienting feeling of losing a home, the reflections had during early-morning walks. His own story is told through big, bright, driving, colorful songs that beam like power-pop, crunch like vintage '90s emocore and float with the expansive feel of space-rock.

Recorded by Grammy-nominated producer Jay Joyce (Cage the Elephant, Eric Church) at Nashville's Neon Cross Studios, Sun also marks the first time Coheed has ever recorded their music live in the studio — Sanchez playing alongside guitarist Travis Stever, drummer Josh Eppard and bass player Zach Cooper with minimal overdubs.

"Again, it was that exposed honesty," says Sanchez. "I wanted the blemishes to create the charm…. Let those accidents just happen, let's not microscope it."

The concise, 10-song Sun follows Coheed's sprawling, two-part opus Afterman: Ascension and Afterman: Descension. Both Top 10 debuts, they serve as a "punctuation mark" to the seven-album Amory Wars saga that included 82 minutes of music and a hardcover coffee table book. Around the time of those records' completion, Sanchez and his wife left their cozy, secluded home in New York's Hudson Valley for a more nomadic life, attempting to find their place in the world. After travelling to California, Florida and Paris, they ultimately fell in love with Brooklyn, leaving their quiet home for a cramped brownstone in Park Slope. Used to working in solitude, Sanchez instead found himself writing music in the middle of a railroad apartment.

"Normally…I need to kind of get into my own head and create these characters," says Sanchez. "So I felt very exposed. I knew that our neighbors could hear me. At one point somebody had asked if a woman was in the apartment singing, and I was like, 'Aaaah!' I think that subconsciously leaked into the music that I actually created. I kind of gathered this collection of songs that very much chronicled the situation I was feeling there. I didn't understand who I was, what I wanted to be. I was writing these songs that weren't part of a formula. It just felt foreign."

During the process, he also discovered his wife was pregnant with his son, Atlas, and the anticipation of being a father started to influence his songwriting. The tender acoustic ballad "Ghost" has Sanchez pondering what type of parent he will be; the explosive, deceptively triumphant "Atlas" anticipates what life will be like leaving his first-born son when he goes on the road; "Here to Mars" is a simple, hard-chugging love song to his wife.

The destroyed home on the album cover is no metaphor. The tenants who had rented Sanchez's house upstate had abandoned it, leaving some demolished floors, the residue of a colony of plants and the stench of marijuana. It's speculated that the home where Coheed and Cambria created their last four records — writing upstairs and rehearsing in the basement — was totaled after the residents turned it into a grow-house. Songs on Sun deal with the transient feeling of Sanchez not knowing whether to stay on the "island" of a Brooklyn block, or in the comforting country confines of his home, whether destroyed ("Colors") or intact ("Island").

Though never leaving our own solar system, The Color Before the Sun, may be Coheed and Cambria's most important saga — a story that's sketched less like an explosive Image Comics title and more like an introverted Drawn and Quarterly book, less like Todd McFarlane and more like Adrian Tomine.

"That's always sort of been the reason for the concept, was that it was a curtain to hide behind," says Sanchez. "I always found it very hard to be that heart-on-your-sleeve songwriter. Maybe it's the fear of judgment or whatever. I felt like if I could just hide behind these fictitious characters, then nobody will judge me. They'll judge the work, but it won't stain me. It's almost like trying to distance myself from the art, whereas this time I've sort of embraced it and allowed it to be me."

Since the September, 2011 release of Worship Music, six-time Grammy-nominated Anthrax has experienced a tremendous comeback. "Classic era" vocalist Joey Belladonna rejoined the lineup in the Spring of 2010, fronting for the band on The Big Four shows across Europe - Anthrax, along with Metalllica, Slayer and Megadeth - the four bands that defined the speed/thrash metal genre. Worship Music, the band's first studio album in eight years and the first with Belladonna since 1990, was released the day after Anthrax played a home-town concert at New York's Yankee Stadium with The Big Four. Press and VIPs called Worship Music "the metal album of the year." In 2012, Anthrax became the first metal band to have its music played on Mars when its "Got The Time" was chosen by NASA to wake up the Mars Rover. The band has just finished recording the follow up to Worship Music that is expected out in early 2016. "Evil Twin," the new album's first track and accompanying lyric video was recently premiered; the song and video paints a powerful picture of the infamous zealots and others who have perpetrated violent extremism on innocents around the world, and can be viewed here According to Benante, the new songs are "aggressive and thrashy. Anyone who liked 'Worship Music' should love the new album.

Killswitch Engage

Sometimes, a much-loved and highly successful band needs to shake things up a bit to keep things fresh and interesting for their fans and for themselves, all the while retaining the signature sonic hallmarks that have defined their sound.

For their upcoming sixth album, Massachusetts metal pioneers Killswitch Engage reunited with original singer Jesse Leach, whose vocals and lyrics on 2002's landmark Alive or Just Breathing are fan-favorite qualities and part of what helped put KsE on the map as one of the most important bands of the '00s metal revival. Poll KsE fans and ask which album they like best and Alive or Just Breathing is usually right at the top of the list.

Call it coming full circle, returning to their roots or coming home again. Whatever the case and no matter what you choose to label it, Leach's return to the fold is welcomed and anticipated by all involved, from the band members themselves to the fans. Leach is a fitting piece of the KsE puzzle. KsE enjoyed a decade of success with Leach's replacement Howard Jones, who has moved on amicably.

"This change is very exciting," the band said upon announcing Leach's triumphant return. "We know you're going to love it. This is truly a new era in KsE history and it is ready to shred your face off. So, please help us in welcoming Jesse back into the KsE family; he is a rare and great talent, a fact that older KsE fans have known for years. Here is to a killer new record and a bright future. The five of us cannot wait to write this record and play shows together and bring that feeling to our fans. It's been far too long."

KsE burst onto the scene with the genre-defining Alive or Just Breathing, notching a Grammy nomination in 2005 for the title track from 2004's gold-certified The End of Heartache and following up that landmark album with the Gold-selling As Daylight Dies and an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live along with gracing the covers of countless metal and rock magazines around the world.

Through the '00s, KsE adopted a versatile, non-stop touring schedule. The band's road history includes two treks on Ozzfest, stints on Warped Tour and Taste of Chaos, as they have that rare ability to straddle the line between the metal and alternative scenes by touring with Slayer and Mastodon as easily as My Chemical Romance and Underoath

The band's DVD Set This World Ablaze also enjoyed Gold-selling status, proving that KsE have the metallic Midas touch.

However, KsE have never coasted on the wave of prior successes, which saw them become one of the premier, most successful bands to emerge from the so-called New Wave of American metal. With Leach back at the vocal helm and behind the mic and a renewed sense of what they want to accomplish, what once was is brand new again and 2012 (and beyond) looks to be another exciting year (and decade) for Killswitch Engage.

Of Mice & Men

Strength often comes from starting over. In the aftermath of a disruption, calamity, or tragedy, there's a process of restoration. Southern California quintet Of Mice & Men refer to it as Restoring Force. Not only does that serve as the title for the group's third full-length album for Rise Records and follow-up to 2011 breakout The Flood, but it also sums up their unbreakable spirit. Enduring lineup shifts and a constant uphill battle to be heard, the band—Austin Carlile [lead vocals], Alan Ashby [rhythm guitars], Phil Manansala [lead guitar], Aaron Pauley [bass, vocals], and Valentino "Tino" Arteaga [drums]—emerges stronger than ever.

"What happens after a disaster? What happens after The Flood?" asks Carlile. "You return to normal. You find balance again. That's what we felt like we were doing with this album. We officially added Aaron, and this is exactly where we needed to be with our sound. We wanted this record to bring equilibrium back to our band and music. We're letting everyone know that we're here to stay. We're Restoring Force."

Embracing that mindset, they headed to House of Loud Studios in New Jersey to record with producer David Bendeth [Paramore, Breaking Benjamin] at the start of June 2013. Through intense recording sessions, they challenged themselves and expanded their signature style. As a result, they penned pummeling, passionate, and powerful anthems that teeter between searing screams and magnetic melodies.

"David is a character," smiles Carlile. "He brought out the best in us by pushing us to the absolute limit. That's why we wanted to work with him from the beginning. He worked us, shaped us, and molded us. We loved him sometimes, and we hated him others. He helped us reach a new level though."

Part of the group's ascent involved the incorporation of Pauley into every aspect of the creative process. His soaring hooks proved the perfect counterpoint to Carlile's crushing screams.

"It was the first time we had every actually recorded together," Carlile goes on. "He's our brother, and he's an incredible vocalist. I remember one night we were doing pre-production early on, and Aaron had some reservations. He was down on himself, and he didn't know if he was cut out for it. I told him, 'You're the person who delivers that final punch and emotion. You're the one who sends it home for us. Trust yourself'. The next day, he showed me 'Feels Like Forever'."

The track builds from a polyrhythmic riff into an utterly unforgettable refrain. It's artfully heavy and chaotically catchy.

"I saw Aaron's struggle in the studio, and I had the same struggle two weeks later," admits Carlile. "I broke down. I was mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. That song takes me back to making this record. When we finished it, I was so reassured. You can always come out of any low point."

Elsewhere on the record, "Bones Exposed" snaps from staggering guitars into a percussive onslaught led by the frontman's inimitable growl and cinematic lyrics.

"This one's heavier," he affirms. "I was bitter, angry, hurt, and wounded. It's about somebody you really don't like at the moment. At the same time, we're all broken. We're all messed up. We're all liars. We're all sinners. We're all flawed. None of us are perfect so you have to let it go at some point. It's like a cut. If you leave it alone, it heals. Otherwise, you scratch it until the bones are exposed."

Meanwhile, "Would You Still Be There?" merges the melodic and metallic seamlessly, and "You're Not Alone" seesaws between an uplifting refrain and guttural verse. The latter touches on a larger theme for Carlile.

"The theme of the record is togetherness, working together, and being a family," he reveals. "I want our listeners to know they're not alone. We're all going through it with them."

The fans won't take his words lightly. The group has become a veritable phenomenon worldwide, selling out shows across North America all the way to Australia, Europe, and beyond. The Flood reached #28 on the Billboard Top 200 and garnered praise from the New York Times, Rock Sound, Alternative Press, and more. With sales surpassing 125,000 and YouTube streams over 16,000,000, The Flood remains one of the most successful releases in 22 years of Rise Records.

In the end though, Restoring Force is a pivotal moment for Of Mice & Men that sees them gain power like never before.

"Of Mice & Men has outgrown all of us," concludes Carlile. "It's bigger than the individuals comprising it. It's bigger than the album. It has become its own thing. It's more than just a rock group. I want this album to get people thinking and talking. It's different. There are no cryptic messages. This is purely meant to move you."

Force has effectively been restored for Of Mice & Men, and they're ready to conquer.

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada, formed in 2005 in Dayton, Ohio, started out riding high on Rise Records, releasing Dear Love: A Beautiful Discord which scanned over 50,000 copies and Plagues which has sold over 100,000 copies. In 2008, right before embarking on the Van's Warped Tour, The Devil Wears Prada announced their signing with Ferret. The band composed of Jeremy DePoyster (guitar/vocals), Daniel Williams (drums), Mike Hranica (vocals), Chris Rubey (guitar), Andy Trick (bass) and James Baney (keys) has been incredibly busy since the release of Plagues, including headlining multiple tours in the US and internationally and have also been featured on multiple festivals worldwide.

We Gave It Hell

Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, We Gave it Hell is a heavy-as-hell five-piece that is gearing up to leave a fist-shaped mark on the worlds of metal and hardcore. The band just dropped The Conditioning EP on April 8 via Itunes, Spotify, and other media outlets. The second single "Ares" is an explosive anthem, built to be the soundtrack for a punishing time in the pit. It is this song's potent live performance, partnered with a massive wall of death, at the 2014 Extreme Thing Sports and Music Festival that is the setting for the band's latest music video, which BlankTV premiered exclusively May 7th.

Postings on Craigslist and a handful of mutual friends led to the formation of We Gave it Hell in 2012. They immediately found themselves with a following thanks to an overwhelmingly positive response from the earliest releases, as well as their dedication to playing as many shows as possible throughout the Southwestern United States. Their sound is a combination of Deftones' melody, groove and ambience matched with the pummeling onslaught of metalcore heroes like Born of Osiris. This unique combination of genres has earned them a great deal of respect from fans and peers alike.

Recently, the group was handpicked by Sumerian Records as one of the top 17 bands in the country to play in the finals for the label's Road to the Sphinx Competition. They've also played a date on Mayhem Festival and are set to play a date on The All Stars Tour in summer 2014. In their hometown, they've played the main stage at the city's Extreme Thing Festival two years in a row. With all of these shows under their belts, they've managed to share the stage with Bring Me the Horizon, Asking Alexandria, Parkway Drive, Killswitch Engage, Emmure, Born of Osiris, Sleeping with Sirens, Of Mice and Men, Attila, Upon A Burning Body, Issues, Emmure, Thy Art is Murder and many more. After several out of state short tour runs, We Gave It Hell is pushing to tour more and more. A new EP can be expected late spring or early summer 2015.

A Friend, A Foe

Vegas based Post-Hardcore band striving to save the world one strum at a time.
Twitter - @AFriendAFoe
Instagram - @AFriendAFoe
Merch - http://afriendafoe.bigcartel.com/

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