Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher: New Album is Full of Despair + Tragedy

A COVID-19 vaccine isn’t the only thing to look forward to in 2021. Mastodon plan to release their newest album next year, which, according to guitarist Bill Kelliher, will bring a lot of big riffs, despair and tragedy — and possibly even a theme comparable to Emperor of Sand.

After Kelliher played some of his favorite riffs for us, he got into detail about Mastodon’s upcoming album. The guitarist hopes the modern metal lords will begin recording by the end of September, teasing some killer surprises and fresh soundscapes.

“There’s so much material there between all four of us. As always, there’s some surprises, there’s some cool soundscapes that we have just never gone down that path before. We like to keep it interesting. It gets stagnant if you keep putting out the same sounding stuff every single record. That’s the greatest thing about our band — there’s no formula where someone’s gonna say, ‘Nah, that doesn’t fit.’”

He adds, “In this record, there are some concepts going on that I can hear. I know a lot of the lyrical content is already there, but I don’t know if it’s finalized. As usual, there’s a lot of despair and tragic moments and stuff like that that has happened in all our lives, that we kind of feed off of when it comes down to writing lyrics and concepts for songs. I’m sure there will be some sort of theme along the lines of Emperor of Sand.”

“I just wanna get it recorded while it’s still exciting to me. That’s the thing about the studio, you spend too long in there, you can’t tell if stuff sounds good anymore. You gotta get it out while it’s hot, while it’s still got that spontaneity to it, which it still does.”

Watch our interview with Bill Kelliher below and click here to grab Mastodon’s new Medium Rarities compilation.

Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher: New Album is Full of Despair + Tragedy

2020’s Best Metal Songs (So Far)

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System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian Plays ‘Wiki: Fact or Fiction’

If COVID-19 has proven one thing, it’s that you shouldn’t trust everything you see on the Internet. In that spirit, we hopped on a Zoom call with System of a Down bassist and North Kingsley musician Shavo Odadjian to prove and disprove what’s written about him on Wikipedia.

Shavo tells some incredible stories in this Wikipedia episode, including the time he managed to get into an AC/DC music video shoot featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Shavo ended up directly next to Arnold in the “Big Gun” video. “The shot they used, the lights hit me more than they hit him. I was shining. It should have been a crowd and Arnold, but there’s a kid right next to Arnold — me. The next day, I was popular at school.”

The bassist also cleared up some misinformation about the infamous 2001 riot caused by a System show gone awry. Odadjian says it wasn’t police who cancelled the gig, it was the fire marshal, because between 15,000 and 20,000 people (not 7,000-10,000) showed up for a free Toxicity release show. According to Shavo, fallout from the cancelled gig resulted in System’s gear getting stolen and destroyed, with his bass cabinet ending up on the sidewalk on Hollywood and Vine.

Another famous piece of System lore — that “Chop Suey!” was originally called “Self-Righteous Suicide” — turned out to be incorrect. Shavo says the song was simply called “Suicide” and that the band’s record label pushed to change the title since a song called “Suicide” would be difficult to push as a single. Nineteen years later, the “Chop Suey!” video is about to hit one billion views on YouTube.

Watch Shavo Odadjian play ‘Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?’ in the video below and click here to grab the new North Kingsley EP, Vol. 1.

System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian – Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?

Top 66 Hard Rock + Metal Bassists of All Time

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Emperor Legend Ihsahn Plays His Favorite Riffs

In this episode of Gear Factor, Ihsahn takes us through his life as a musician, from learning Iron Maiden, to the groundbreaking black metal band Emperor and into his prolific solo career.

When it came to his beginnings as a metal musician, it was Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” that really got Ihsahn excited. “Not much to it,” Ihsahn says about the track’s basic chord structure, “but the title and the chorus was enough.”

As for his favorite riffs from Emperor, one of Ihsahn’s personal favorites “Thus Spake the Nightspirit” from the pivotal black metal album Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. “It’s really tricky to sing and play this simultaneously,” the musician shares before showcasing the dynamic verse riffs.

“Coming from that ‘80s Iron Maiden background, instantly, I wanted to find a melody to go over those chords,” Ihsahn says of creating “I Am the Black Wizards.” “Of course, it’s not a very diatonic thing. It’s really just an E and an F. So I came up with this melody that’s played both fast and slow in the song.”

As for Ihsahn’s solo career, he plays the fresh cut “Stridig” from his newest EP, Telemark. “It’s a very simple riff, but I think the dissonance and the way it’s arranged, to be both the hook and the verse, is kind of nice. The main guitar is playing the same thing all the way through.”

Watch Ihsahn play his favorite riffs in the Gear Factor episode below and click here to grab a copy of his Telemark EP.

Emperor Legend Ihsahn Plays His Favorite Riffs

Top 30 Black Metal Albums of All Time

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PEOPLE = S#!T #2 (Fails, Public Freakouts + Instant Karma)

What do ya know? People still equal s—t! We’re serving up another compilation filled with fails, public freakouts and instant karma moments from the world of music.

One of the biggest fails in modern history took place at the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which featured performances by Smash Mouth, Trapt, Quiet Riot and more. One study estimated that Sturgis has been linked to over 250,000 new cases of COVID-19, though various health professionals have disputed that number due to a lack of modeling. Regardless, COVID rates in the Dakotas are spiking at higher rates than anywhere else in the country, with hundreds of new cases being reported each day, according to the Los Angeles Times.

We’ve also included a guitar store edition of World’s Dumbest Criminals, where a local lad stuffed an entire axe down his pants in a bizarre attempt at theft. The man was caught red-handed and on camera, but even though he got busted, the dude returned a second time only to stuff another guitar into his trousers. Needless to say, he didn’t get away with it.

Remember the trashiest wedding in history? A video of a bride walking down the aisle and twerking to Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch” went viral years ago. However, she wasn’t even the star of the video. An unfortunate attendee stole the show, giving a timeless reaction before cradling his innocent son, protecting the young boy’s ears from Josh Todd singing, “You’re crazy bitch, but you fuck so good I’m on top of it.”

Watch People = S#!t No. 2 in the Loud List below.

PEOPLE = S#!T #2 (Fails, Public Freakouts + Instant Karma Compilation)

57 Rock + Metal Bands Who Changed Names Before Getting Famous

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Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher Plays His Favorite Guitar Riffs

Mastodon‘s Bill Kelliher tells us in this edition of Gear Factor that he came to the guitar late, but as we’ve seen over the years, he’s definitely able to fire out killer riffs.

“What got me into playing guitar was that all my friends were playing. I was the last guy out of six of my buddies who were all playing guitar,” says Kelliher, who adds that Van Halen was the band who put him on his path. “When I first saw Van Halen, I looked up and said, ‘Man, that’s what I want to do with my life,’” says the guitarist.

Admittedly, his friends had a head start on him as a youngster, but he recalls a friend playing Randy Rhoads riffs from Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Crazy Train” as his turning point. “I felt like giving up in the moment. I felt like they were just too good,” said Kelliher of trying to keep up with his buddies. “I could play ‘Smoke on the Water’ and stuff. But I told myself that if I could learn how to play that riff in ‘Crazy Train’ that I had a standing chance.”

Other early influences of note included Iron Maiden and the Dead Kennedys, with the latter really speaking to the guitarist. “I had accidentally got this Dead Kennedys tape passed along to me in the art room and my friend was like, ‘Dude, this is the stupidest music you’ve ever heard and it’s terrible,’ but I heard it and I coveted it. I was like, ‘This music is awesome. I don’t know what you’re thinking. This music is crazy. It’s cool as shit and I love it.’”

Records also gave him an entry point into additional music, noting that bands like Metallica and Slayer were photographed wearing other band T-shirts or sporting stickers on their instruments. Because of Jeff Hanneman having a Dead Kennedys sticker on his guitar, he gave Slayer a try.

As for his own music, Kelliher takes us back to his early days with his first band, Crinkle Pig, sharing the origins of that name as well as one of the first riffs he’d written. The guitarist also reveals that after being in a number of bands that didn’t take themselves too seriously, he was well aware that Mastodon was a definite pro band. “With Mastodon, it was like, we’re serious now. We’re going to write some heavy shit and be fucking evil.”

Taking viewers through some of his favorite riffs, we get bits of “Crusher Destroyer,” “Asleep in the Deep” and “Spectrelight,” revealing that the band typically writes in three different tunings — D standard, Drop C and Drop A.

“I like incorporating a lot of those open strings. Every song I write has got an open string somewhere. It’s kind of like an exclamation point to the low string,” says Kelliher.

The Mastodon guitarist also gives us bits of “Fallen Torches,” their new Bill & Ted Face the Music song “Rufus Lives” and his Grammy-winning Emperor of Sand favorite, “Sultan’s Curse.”

Watch Bill Kelliher’s full Gear Factor episode below and look for Mastodon’s Medium Rarities coming Sept. 11 and check out the Bill & Ted Face the Music soundtrack available now.

Mastodon’s Bill Kelliher Plays His Favorite Riffs

2020’s Best Metal Songs (So Far)

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Dave Mustaine: Cocaine + Conflict Helped Create ‘Rust in Peace’

In Dave Mustaine’s new memoir, Rust in Peace, the thrash legend, his bandmates and crew tell the story of Megadeth’s iconic fourth album, along with the stories of drug addiction and inner conflict which surrounded it.

In this rare post-cancer video interview, Mustaine gets into the book’s gritty details. “I’d be bullshitting you if I said [cocaine] did not influence [Rust in Peace] because we were all under the influence of the drug at the time,” Mustaine told us. “I didn’t really like coke that much. I liked the way that it tasted, but I didn’t like the way it made me feel. It never ended well, put it that way.”

Like many fans, Mustaine holds the chemistry Megadeth had with Marty Friedman and Nick Menza in high regard, which led to reunion attempts of the Rust in Peace lineup. “The chemistry of Nick and Marty… that was amazing,” Mustaine says. “My heart aches when I think about that. That’s why I wrote in the back of the book, ‘In loving memory,’ and not ‘In memory of.’”

“I wanted things to work out with Nick. I even said if it’s not going to work with him playing in the studio, let’s have somebody else go into the studio and have Nick play live. I was bending over backwards to get a place for Nick, and then he said he wanted an exorbitant amount of cash.”

As for the gigantic impact Rust in Peace continues to make on metalheads, Mustaine says, “I’m really happy that it made people happy — that’s the thing I like the most. When you set to do something, you do it for yourself and fuck, who cares what anyone else thinks, but if you’re doing something and it makes you feel good to make other people feel good, that’s awesome.

Watch our full interview with Dave Mustaine below and click here to grab a copy of Rust in Peace: The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece.

Dave Mustaine: ‘Rust in Peace’ + Megadeth’s Failed Reunion

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When Musicians Fight Security Guards

Remember the days when COVID-19 wasn’t the most dangerous part of throwing down in the pit? That’s what security was for, but even though security guards are important for our safety, tension between them and musicians can sometimes boil over.

One classic clip features Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain stage diving into a crowd of fans. As he was surfed back to the stage, one guard seemed to handle him a little roughly, leading to Cobain smashing his guitar into the man’s head. After a couple of blows, the guard connected with a punch to Cobain’s head and kicked the grunge icon while he was down, leading to full-on chaos from Kurt’s bandmates.

Neck Deep were forced to cancel a 2017 show just two songs into a set due to a confrontation with security. According to reports, a crowd surfer got slammed to the ground by security after coming over the barricade. Former Neck Deep bassist Fil Thorpe-Evans confronted security, only to be pulled off stage, leading to his bandmates dropping their instruments to protect him. A free-for-all broke out between the stage and the barricade, and it was all caught on tape.

We even threw some rappers into the mix for this list, including Action Bronson, who was accosted by a security guard for lighting up a blunt onstage. The guard attempted to get Bronson in a headlock, but it turned out to be a big mistake, as the powerful rapper pushed him damn near off the stage. Don’t get between a rapper and his weed, especially if he’s got the strength advantage.

Check out this compilation of When Musicians Fight Security Guards in the Loud List below.

When Musicians Fight Security Guards

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Unleash the Archers’ Guitarists Play Their Favorite Riffs

As we continue to roll out Gear Factor episodes, you get to learn a little more about the era in which the artists grew up and track a bit of their evolution on their preferred instruments. Such is the case for Unleash the Archers‘ Andrew Kingsley and Grant Truesdell, who show their initial love for the music of their youth.

Kingsley recalls, “I listened to a lot of Nirvana when I was a kid and I think that was where it kind of took off. I found that it was heavier than most stuff I listened to but also super melodic. Most of the stuff I started with was pop-rock, mostly Foo Fighters and Nirvana, but I was like 10 or 11.”

After playing a bit of Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” he confesses to also being influenced by the nu metal of the late ’90s/early 2000s until he discovered Iron Maiden.

The same holds true for Grant Truesdell, but rather than nu metal, it was pop-punk that caught his ear with Blink-182’s “Dammit” being the first riff he learned. “I grew up a punk kid, so the first kind of songs and stuff I started learning, it wasn’t very metal, but Blink-182. The first riff I ever learned was from ‘Dammit.’ That was like when I was 12,” says the guitarist.

He too also points to Iron Maiden as the turning point in his metal education, recalling, “I came home from school one day and I don’t know if you remember Much More Music, but it was on TV and they were playing Iron Maiden’s Rock in Rio and that was the first time I’d seen Iron Maiden, heard Iron Maiden and it completely changed me.” The pair then serve up a bit of “The Trooper.”

For Kingsley, his journey then took him to melodic metal, citing Rhapsody and DragonForce as favorites. “When I first heard Rhapsody and the song was called ‘Emerald Sword.’ I was just like, ‘Holy crap. This is epic!’ It was still like Iron Maiden in that sound, but it introduced more cinematic themes, way more virtuoso guitar playing.”

Truesdell says “Crazy Train” was the first guitar solo he learned, stating, “It sounds a lot harder than it is, but when you’re 12 you learn that and you’re like, ‘Cool, I can tap.’” The two musicians share their love for “tapping,” with Kingsley nimbly making his way through Van Halen’s “Eruption.” “I think tapping as a young guitar player is one of those things that’s easy to learn and makes you sound better than you are,” laughs Truesdell.

Digging into their own catalog, Truesdell recalls a song called “Dream Crusher” being his first riff once he joined Unleashing the Archers. He recalls listening to an Angra song and shows a bit of the evolution until it reached what appeared in “Dream Crusher.”

Kingsley, who joined the group in 2013, breaks out “Hail the Tide,” a track that he’d written prior to being in Unleash the Archers. His first true UTA song was “Test Your Metal,” which he calls “the beginning of the quick bangers.”

The pair also dig a little deeper in the catalog, with Truesdell rocking through “Crypt” and Kingsley showcasing “False Walls,” before the pair address their new album, Abyss. Kingsley showcases riffs from “The Wind That Shapes the Land” and “Soulbound” before they both demonstrate their love for the album closing “Afterlife.”

Unleash the Archers’ Abyss album is out now and you can pick it up here. Stay tuned to the group’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates and watch their full Gear Factor episode below.

Unleash the Archers Play Their Favorite Riffs

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Top 10 Most Nostalgic Metal Moments

Heavy metal is alive and crushing it in 2020, but the power of nostalgia remains strong for metalheads across the globe. From the ‘70s onward, heavy metal played a huge part in the cultural zeitgeist, whether on TV, the silver screen or in your ear holes.

Remember those old Monsters of Rock commercials? Of course you do, but how about that iconic blue screen topped with an address to send your check or money order? For just one payment of $26.99, you could get two CDs of hair metal’s biggest hits, or $21.99 if you’d prefer a duo of cassettes. How else could you get Nelson, Winger and Enuff Z’Nuff singles in one blast? Back then, you couldn’t.

How about an injection of nostalgia of heavy metal films? Spinal Tap should have you covered, while inspiring you to turn your volume and gain knobs to 11. Even more nostalgic, though? Heavy Metal Parking Lot! It’s because we’ve all been tailgating before a big concert, mixing with society’s castaways in a sea of alcohol and marijuana. These dynamics were especially ripe in the ‘80s and it was all captured brilliantly on film.

When it comes to music, what’s more nostalgic than seeing Dave Mustaine interviewed as a member of Metallica? One iconic interview gave us the phrase “Metal up your ass!” which has been echoed throughout the decades by dedicated metalheads. You’ll also see Bruce Dickinson interviewed during the first few months of his tenure in Iron Maiden.

Check out these Top 10 Most Nostalgic Metal Moments in the Loud List below.

Top 10 Most Nostalgic Metal Moments

The Best Metal Song of Each Year Since 1970

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Who Really Invented the Sing/Scream Thing in Metal?

Where did the whole sing/scream thing in metal come from? You know what we’re talking about — bands who blend extreme vocals and clean singing together as part of their dynamic. That’s what we take a dive into on Episode 22 in Loudwire’s “50 Years of Heavy Metal” video series.

Obviously, the style is most commonly associated with 2000s era metalcore and onward, but the emergence of this vocal duality came much, much earlier on in metal and even rose to prominence outside of metalcore right around the same time that exciting new subgenre exploded.

Unlike many stylistic evolutions in metal, the sing/scream thing can’t necessarily be traced back to just one band. Quite a few groups had ventured beyond the limitations of either just screaming (growling, barking, gutturals… you get the idea) or just singing. Each band that did this early on wielded influence over different factions of future generations, so this timeline is not as neatly compacted as some other areas we’ve explored in previous episodes of “50 Years of Heavy Metal.”

The gothic doom (death/doom) scene in England had an enduring impact on what was to come, but bands such as My Dying Bride didn’t place a tremendous emphasis on light and shade when it came to singing, more so using short, clean-sung passages as mood pieces. Still, it counts toward the evolutionary cycle.

Others such as Edge of Sanity began experimenting with the concept too, far removed from England all the way over in Sweden. Countrymates Opeth really doubled down on this formula, using clean sung passages over clean-toned instrumental bits that countered the band’s burly, death metal-esque prog and those legendary growls from Mikael Åkerfeldt.

Building off the gothic doom scene’s foundation, Lacuna Coil further explored the dynamic using female and male singers.

Oh, yes, and let’s not forget oddball Mike Patton in Faith No More, who presented the idea with more mainstream appeal despite the band’s outlandish eccentricities.

Without any of this, the new millennium would sound radically different. But really, who did it first? With some help from members of Killswitch Engage, Opeth, Lacuna Coil and In Flames, that’s exactly what we try to answer in the video at the top of the page.

50 Most Important Metal Bands in the 21st Century

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Bill & Ted’s William Sadler on ‘Face the Music’ + Favorite Bands

The highly-anticipated third Bill & Ted movie, Face the Music, will finally hit screens Aug. 28. To talk about the new movie, the cult status of the first two Bill & Ted films, his favorite bands and more, we got in touch with actor William Sadler, who famously plays Death in the trilogy.

“It was fantastic,” Sadler describes reuniting with Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter for Face the Music. “It was a long time ago… 29 years or something like that. As soon as we met on the set and I was in the makeup and the robes and the boots that make me six-feet-two or whatever and the scythe, it was like we had never stopped. It was like no time had passed at all.”

“The spirit was there, the energy was there, the fun… I mean, we’re all older, we look a little different, but the spirit hadn’t gotten old.”

Despite not being a metalhead himself, Sadler has a deep appreciation for how Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey have entrenched themselves in metal subculture. As for his musical side, Sadler is a longtime guitar player, having grown up during the golden age of rock in the 1960s and ‘70s.

“The Beatles came along and swept everyone away, but I was a Stones fan,” Sadler explains. “Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young hit about that time, James Taylor hit about that time, Paul Simon was writing these extraordinary things. I’ve always been a [Bob] Dylan fan. I loved it when he went electric, I was ready. The Band, Creedence Clearwater… there were a lot of them. It was a fun time.”

Check out our chat with William Sadler below and make sure to see Bill & Ted Face the Music once it comes out on Aug. 28.

Bill & Ted’s William Sadler: Favorite Bands, Heavy Metal + ‘Face the Music’

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