Marty Friedman Comes Home

A night of entirely instrumental acts?  If you’ve read some of my previous reviews on instrumental music (there aren’t many), you understand that I went into this concert with some reservations.  The list of instrumental metal albums which I love from start to finish can probably be counted off on one hand.  However, with the powerhouse line-up of ex-Megadeth/Cacophony guitarist, Marty Friedman, returning to his hometown of Baltimore; Chris Letchford-led Scale The Summit; and The Fine Constant, founded by Sarah Longfield, I decided the chance was one worth taking.

The Fine ConstantFacebook Twitter  | Bandcamp | Store

I was well aware of all of these bands prior to this, though I had rarely if ever dabbled in their work.  The Fine Constant was the most recent of these three that I had come to know, built upon the incredible talent of Sarah’s guitar wizardry.  Joining her on stage were drummer, Steve Meyer, and recent touring addition of fellow guitarist, Dave Dunsire.  Only slightly surprising, there was no bass player, but with each playing 8-string guitars, the lower register was taken care of without any reason to notice.  The two blazed through complex tunes, trading lead melodies while the other rumbled riffs underneath.  By the end of their short set, the crowd was screaming for any more music that they could convince this trio to dish out, but unfortunately for those adamant fans, the show had to transition.


Scale The SummitOfficial Website Facebook  | Twitter | Instagram | New Album | Bandcamp

Scale The Summit’s name first appeared on my radar during the days of MySpace.  I was quite impressed by Chris Letchford’s ease of the instrument.  He and the other two members of his trio did not disappoint on August 6, at Baltimore Soundstage.  The bassist, Kilian Duarte, in particular, was quite expressive.  I’ll let the photos below demonstrate my point.  As of the writing, you can purchase 5 of their albums digitally for only $29.25, as well as picked up their new album, In A World Of Fear, for only $5 digitally.


Marty FriedmanOfficial Website Facebook  | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Marty Friedman’s tenure in Megadeth saw some of my favorite releases from one of my favorite bands.  His guitar playing has always been transcendent, whether it was along Mustaine, or in Cacophony with the amazing Jason Becker.  Thus it is to my detriment that I have yet to explore his solo material.  But from my crash course prior to the show, and the stunning demonstration I received upon arrival, I can tell you he has certainly not lost his touch.  The amount of energy erupting from the stage was built not only upon the strength of the music, coated lightly with Rust In Peace-era Megadeth instrumentals, but also upon the extraordinary talent of his fellow musicians.  Perhaps more impressive to me than any other artist that night was bassist, Kiyoshi Manii, who seemed to epitomize energy for the entire hour and a half the group commanded the stage.  Do yourself a favor and catch these three amazing bands as they currently tour the US on the “Wall Of Sound Tour,” and pick up Friedman’s newest solo album, released August 4, which shares the same name.

Interview: Jeff Waters of Annihilator (2/3)

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Hello again, friends and fans!  Today we continue a journey which we embarked upon last week.  Jeff Waters returns to give you further insight into the process for creating Annihilator’s new album, Suicide Society, as well as giving you his thoughts on the new Slayer and Iron Maiden albums (with a little look to the future for Judas Priest).  We discuss cookie monster vocals, as well as touch on the new(er) metal scene with artists like Trivium, Children Of Bodom, and Lamb Of God.  We round out our 20-plus min. segment by talking about the advent of digital recording and the pros and cons of being able to create songs while being thousands of miles apart.

If you haven’t done so already, check out a review of Annihilator’s new album, Suicide Society, by a fellow contributor.  The album is available now, so what are you waiting for?  Pick it up!

For more on Annihilator, visit:
Official Website
Buy Suicide Society from: iTunes | Amazon
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Artist Spotlight: David Judson Clemmons

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When I first started writing I wasn’t lucky enough to have anyone come and ask for reviews of their music, so I wrote about albums and artists that I loved no matter how old or new. I just wanted to share good music with people, and I still do. That’s why, today, I’d like to share with you a musician who receives far less attention than he deserves. For more than 20 years, he has been involved in a variety of projects spanning a number of genres, but there is great material to be heard from all of them. His name is David Judson Clemmons.

Following the release of “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?,” lead guitarist Chris Poland was kicked out of the thrash metal band Megadeth. After taking a moment to explore a solo career, he joined forces with his brother, Mark, as well as bassist David Randi, and guitarist/vocalist David Clemmons to form a progressive metal band called Damn The Machine in the early 90s. Clemmons had previously been a member of Ministers Of Anger, an extremely politically charged metal group whose subject matter found a welcome home on the self-titled Damn The Machine record. Following the album’s release, they went on tour with Dream Theater, Flotsam & Jetsam, and Voivod in Europe. However, in the mid-1990s their record label dropped them, as well as a handful of other acts, and the group disbanded and went their separate ways.

Damn The Machine

Damn The Machine: Chris Poland, David Clemmons, Mark Poland, David Randi

Check out: Damn The Machine’s “On With The Dream”

After the split, David Judson Clemmons enlisted the help of bassist Steve Cordrey and drummer Hoss Wright to form JUD. Their first album, Something Better, produced by Ross Robinson (KoRn, Sepultura), was released in 1996. JUD was much different than Damn The Machine, fluctuating between bass intensive, aggressive songs filled with crunchy guitar riffs to atmospheric songs with almost spoken word lyrics. It was more like a bastard child of Prong, Sonic Youth, and Nirvana than Dream Theater.

In addition to Something Better, JUD went on to release three more albums: Chasing California (1998), The Perfect Life (2000), and Sufferboy (2008). Over time the band members changed, and with them came a more refined sound. The latter two are my personal favorites, containing some fantastic melodies and heartfelt confessions. Clemmons described the last release as “songs of mental torture and the most energetic, aggressive record I’ve ever made.”

Jud - Sufferboy

JUD: James Schmidt, Jan Hampicke, David Clemmons

Check out: JUD’s “Drained”

At about the same time that JUD’s Something Better was released, Clemmons connected with several other musicians and demoed out some songs that didn’t fit the mold of JUD. These tunes would go on to form solo releases, as well as tracks for a group David calls The Fullbliss. These albums included Fools and Their Splendor (2000), This Temple Is Haunted (2001), Life In The Kingdom Of Agreement (2004), Yes Sir (2006), and most recently Cold White Earth (2011). In comparison with JUD, The Fullbliss and Clemmons’ solo releases are generally less aggressive, but retain their introspection. They also have a tendency to include a wider variety of instrumentation, such as violin and even horn sections. The last release, Cold White Earth, centers on an acoustic environment that allows the lyrics to become the focal point of the album.

The Fullbliss

The Fullbliss: Jan Hampicke, Anne de Wolff, David Clemmons, James Schmidt

Check out: David Judson Clemmons’ “The Shores” (live)
Check out: The Fullbliss’ “Our Houses”

To me there’s something very special about the music that Clemmons creates. I find myself as captivated by Damn The Machine now as when I first heard the music, and his other groups have stood the test of time for me as well. Despite the different styles of each ensemble, there is an allure to be discovered in each. There is a transcendent quality to “The Shores” from Clemmons’ solo catalog, for instance, and you can’t help but be swept away. JUD’s track “Drained” equally lifts you from your feet, but by a means that is more akin to a tornado. And I’d be remiss not to mention The Fullbliss tune, “Our Houses,” which remains one of my all-time favorites of any of Clemmons’ works, as it paints the struggles of his life with a backdrop of remarkable positivity. Maybe that’s the appeal of David’s work: it’s very honest. The world that David Judson Clemmons paints in his songs is painful and difficult, but not without slivers of hope. That portrait of reality is what keeps him moving forward and what keeps me coming back.


For more on David Judson Clemmons, visit:
Official Website
Buy Clemmons’ music at: iTunes | Amazon | From The Band
Buy Damn The Machine’s album: iTunes | Amazon