With Peter Hodgson

Hey folks. I’m writing this week’s column from Anaheim, California, where I’ve been attending the NAMM Show with the guitar pickup company Seymour Duncan. On Thursday, Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares dropped by our booth to say hi and check out some new gear, and Testament’s Alex Skolnick played some incredible music with effect pedals and loopers. On Friday, Black Label Society’s Dario Lorina played some tracks from his forthcoming solo record. And on Saturday we had a signing with Mick Thomson of Slipknot who could not have been cooler. And I caught up with Australia’s favourite Canadian, Devin Townsend, who was taking a break from working on his symphony. It’s been a hell of a week.
Xandria have found lineup stability with singer Dianne van Giersbergen and are ready to take things to the next level with their seventh studio album Theater of Dimensions. The album is a hyper-emotional affair that digs deep lyrically. You can experience it for yourself with the brand new video for Call Of Destiny on YouTube.
Hammerfall have been masters of ground-breaking metal anthems since the start of their remarkable career back in 1993. Now they’ve released the new video for Built To Last, the title track from their new record. Oscar Dronjak says of the video, “We wanted to do something simple yet effective, so we recorded this in my studio during tour rehearsals. The computer effects give the video a really cool and unique atmosphere.”
With under a month until the Thrash, Blast and Grind mini-festival tour hits the highways, tickets are understandably selling fast. The news that Sydney's Black Rheno have been invited to showcase at SXSW 2017 will push things along. Meanwhile, grind mainstays and all-round great guys King Parrot utterly destroyed their slot on the opening night of UNIFY Festival recently, further solidifying their place among local metal royalty. Also featuring Psycroptic, Revocation and Whoretopsy, the Thrash Blast and Grind Tour is a landmark heavy music. Check it at Max Watts, Friday February 17.
Armed with pioneering pure metal proposals like Death Rider, The Beast Within and Raise The Dead in 1982, New Jersey’s Overkill were a rock-solid part of the first clutch of bands forging in fire this music known as thrash metal. Along with Metallica, Exodus, Slayer and cross-town doppelgangers Anthrax, D.D. Verni and Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth were helping to create a new form of metal that’s still as vibrant today as when the band’s first album, Feel The Fire, was issued back in the spring of ‘85. Now witness Overkill’s 18th album of blistering yet precise and thought-provoking thrash magic, The Grinding Wheel. It’s due out Friday February 10.