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Jason Bieler shares 5 of his favorite prog songs

Jason Bieler (not Bieber) & The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra are currently in the studio recording the follow up to the critically acclaimed debut “Songs For The Apocalypse” set for an early 2022 release, with a single expected to drop this fall. Here Jason tells us about some of his favorite prog rock songs.

Genesis – SquonkI have a circuitous route to discovering classic prog. As a kid, I was more aware of the Genesis Phil Collins mega-hits with just a smattering of the Lamb Lies Down tunes with Gabriel. I was fascinated by the fact that while obviously more complex compositionally Genesis was still first and foremost writing actual songs. Sometimes these bands seemed more interested in getting together and solving complex math problems or in purposefully making things difficult rather than songwriting…Genesis managed to do both. New fan, first-time caller!

King Crimson – Larks’ Tongues In Aspic (Part 1)Robert Fripp was always a guy I felt compelled to say nice things about publicly yet I was completely unexposed to his actual playing. Like Radiohead…it is just accepted that at posh music cocktail parties you must simply nod in agreement when one nearby muso says…”did you hear the new Radiohead remix by the ambient hemp farmer from Lapland…it is transcendent!!!” So in my late to the party style, I was forced to learn this tune for reasons that cannot be divulged at this time…(top-secret government stuff.) Imagine my delight when having never played in a cover band in my life I was charged with learning this piece. My joy can be best summarized like this:

“What Mr.Fripp did was very spiteful, but it was also very brave and very honest and I respect him for doing that. But the content of what he played has made me hate him. So there’s a layer of respect, admittedly, for his brilliant achievement, but it’s peppered with hate.”

Haken – Cockroach KingLOVE this band from the first second that I heard them, this tune just floored me, it has elements of Queen, Jazz, prog, rock…but it all felt real, and made sense rather than “look at what we can play.” At the end of the day for me…it has to be song first, then the technical boundary-pushing stuff. Rare is the band that can do both! Viva La Haken!

Devin Townsend – EvermoreThere are so many things I love about Devin, not the least of which is his fearless sense of adventure which could also just be a blatant disregard for giving a crap about what anyone else thinks…either way he is like the Lewis & Clark of sonic exploration if there was only one of them…so maybe we’ll call him the Sir Edmund Hillary of modern compositional travels! All that, plus he is a delightfully kind person and was beyond helpful to me more than a few times. So technically I could be thought of as the Tenzing Norgay to his Sir Edmund, yes yes! The Tenzing of Pseudo Prog! The catalog of his achievements is vast and diverse and fearless…this is just a brilliant tune from Empath…dig deep there is a world in there!

Jason Bieler – Annalise  – As the self-proclaimed King Of Prog I would be remiss if I did not mention this peppy number from my new record Songs For The Apocalypse…I still have no idea what the actual time signature is, so to increase my prog street cred I think I will proclaim it to be “polyrhythm.” I have always felt that my undeniable good looks have made it harder to be taken seriously as a new world prog composer…which is why I now feature a VIP package that offers Dungeons & Dragons playtime with the crew. While touring I exclusively travel in a Saruman The White costume, and all support personnel are instructed to choose and dress as a Tolkien character during our cosplay after parties.

‘Song for the Apocalypse’ showcased a diverse array of styles with Bieler working with an eclectic group of musical friends including some notable prog rock names, such as Todd LaTorre (Queensrÿche), Devin Townsend, Bumblefoot (Sons of Apollo), Pat Badger (Extreme), Butch Walker (ex-Marvelous 3), Dave Ellefson, Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Benji Webbe (Skindred), Kyle Sanders (Hellyeah) and more.

The post Jason Bieler shares 5 of his favorite prog songs appeared first on The Prog Report.

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Jason Bieler working on follow-up to ‘Songs for the Apocalypse’

Jason Bieler (not Bieber) & The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra are currently in the studio recording the follow up to the critically acclaimed debut “Songs For The Apocalypse” set for an early 2022 release, with a single expected to drop this fall.
‘Apocalypse’ showcased a diverse array of styles with Bieler working with an eclectic group of musical friends including some notable prog rock names, such as Todd LaTorre (Queensrÿche), Devin Townsend, Bumblefoot (Sons of Apollo), Pat Badger (Extreme), Butch Walker (ex-Marvelous 3), ,Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Benji Webbe (Skindred), Kyle Sanders (Hellyeah) and more.

Jason checked in with the following update.

“I’m in the process of creating an even more adventurous hook-laden record that will hopefully be worthy of your fractured attention and earn repeated deep dives without causing a case of the bends. Music you can listen to with friends while drinking the blood of infants at posh parties of the Hollywood elite like George Clooney or Oprah. The kind of music that subliminally suggests that your annoying racist neighbor would make a great candidate for a human sacrifice…but also gently reminds you of your fear of forced prison sex and in doing so keeps you from committing the actual deed. So very much like Harry Style’s “Watermelon Sugar.”

Regarding “Songs For The Apocalypse” success he added;
“To be honest I had no expectations or delusions of grandeur with Songs For The Apocalypse so the success and worldwide acceptance caught me a bit off guard. Now I even have a stalker, hanging out at the end of my driveway almost every day at nearly the same time…my family keeps telling me it’s just the amazon prime guy…but I think we all know better. Fame can be a fickle bitch. #puffywasright”

Jason will also be doing a handful of dates alongside legendary interpretive dance icon Jeff Scott Soto this October. A full tour by The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra is expected in early 2022.

Jason Bieler & Jeff Scott Soto:
9/30 Bluffton SC – The Roasting Room
10/1 Atlanta GA – 37 Main Avondale
10/8 Boca Raton FL – The Funky Biscuit TKTS – https://bit.ly/3seQudp
10/9 Tampa FL – The Attic Ybor TKTS – https://bit.ly/3dRBf4U
10/16 Chicago – Reggies TKTS – https://bit.ly/3wP2dTv

The post Jason Bieler working on follow-up to ‘Songs for the Apocalypse’ appeared first on The Prog Report.

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INTERVIEW: Craig Blackwell – Guitarist, Todd La Torre

Craig Blackwell

 

Craig Blackwell played guitar, bass, and keys on Todd La Torre’s first solo album, Rejoice in the Suffering.  He also co-composed the record.  In this interview, we talk about his musical history, his work on Rejoice in the Suffering, and his feelings about KISS’ “Mr. Blackwell.”

 

William:  Is this your first interview?

Craig:  Yes.

William:  Great.  We’re making journalistic history! How did you get into playing guitar?

Craig:  That started back when I was about seven years old.  I lived with my mother, mainly.  Whenever she would drive me back and forth to school, we’d always listen to music.  She was real big into Neil Diamond and some other artists.  I was always listening to music.  Well, one day she picked me up from school and on the way home she had a catalog in the car.  I was just flipping through the pages and I stumbled across an acoustic guitar in the music section.  I went “Ah, Mom!  Look at that!”  She went, “Wow!  Do you like that?”  I go, “I’d love to have one of those,” and she whipped the fastest U turn I’ve ever seen and we went down to the nearest music store and she bought me a guitar.  There was a TV show at the time on WEDU here, channel three, and there was a guy every Saturday morning that would tune the guitar with you and then teach you chords on TV.  That’s where it all started.

William:  I used to play a good bit, and my mom bought me my first guitar, too.

Craig:  Moms are always our biggest fans.

William:  They sure are.  Thanks goodness for moms!

You and Todd have known each other since you were teenagers.  How did y’all meet?

Craig:  We went to the same high school.  At the time, I had a band in school.  I had a drummer, bass player, another guitar player, and we were kind of rotating singers because singers are hard to find in school.  Our drummer’s father didn’t want him playing in the band anymore.  One of our mutual friends, Russ, had mentioned to me, “Well, hey, I know a guy.  He’s a little younger than us, but he’s a really good drummer.  His name’s Todd and we can go over to his house and he would love to play in the band, I’m sure.” We talked with Todd and he said, “Yeah, come on over.  I’ll play you some songs.  So we went over to his house, which was right around the corner from all of our houses.  He played “Modern Day Cowboy” from Tesla for me.  He was about fifteen seconds into the song and I went, “Dude, you’re in.  You’re in.  That’s it.”  That’s all I needed to hear.

William:  [Laughs]

Craig:  So we became super-close friends and we just grew together and realized that writing and playing together was what we wanted to do.  We’ve been best friends ever since.

William:  When did you first hear Todd sing and what was your reaction?

Craig:  Back in high school, Todd and I agreed on doing—ironically, enough—“Silent Lucidity” live at school.  We did an acoustic version with some other guys.  That was really, I think, the first time Todd sang live in front of hundreds of people.  It was a packed house.  After high school, Todd and I lived together for about three years.  He had purchased a house in St. Petersburg.  When I moved out from where I was, he asked me, “Hey, you want to come be my roommate?  We’d have a blast.” Obviously, the music was a big thing.  He had his drum kit set up in the house, and I had all my guitar stuff, so we disturbed our neighbors quite a bit.  It was the loud house on the block.  We lived together for a little while, and we were singing back and forth.  Todd’s vocal ability definitely developed over the years.  Jumping forward to Crimson Glory.  That’s when he really . . . . That’s when I was like, “Wow!  How did you pull that off?  You just became this amazing singer overnight, almost.” He’d been working really hard on it.  It just goes to show you that with drive and ability you can really take off, and that’s what happened for Todd.

William:  So what did he sound like in the early, pre-Crimson Glory days?

Craig:  He has a really good lower register.  His voice goes lower than most people’s.  I can’t even get near to that.  Now, he can roll all the way up to Halford height, midnight-height screams that are just unbelievable.  As far as vocal ability and what he sounded like before, it was always very pleasant.  He had a really nice warm voice.  I always enjoyed writing with him and writing songs with him because his delivery was always really good that way.  I can sing, too.  I just don’t have that warm-style voice that he does.  I have more of a gritty voice.  He has a very broad spectrum of sounds that he can produce with his instrument.  The voice is a beautiful instrument and he knows how to use it.

William:  So the high stuff kind of came later for him, then.

Craig:  I believe when Crimson Glory asked him to join was when he really started working on and refining that high end and that accuracy.  Those notes are not easy to hit accurately.  You hear a lot of guys trying to do it, but they’re not on the note.  They’re pitchy.  Todd is not.  He’s very on the notes.  Very impressive.

William:  That’s interesting because when I listened to Rejoice in the Suffering, the high stuff was there that I’m used to hearing from his work with Queensrÿche, and then he hits some of that low stuff, like “One By One,” and I’m like, “Wow!  Where has that been at?”

Craig: Yeah.  Well, the music that we were producing really didn’t require too much of the high, high screaming, which we like.  We’ve always been Halford, Fight, Pantera, Testament, Slayer, Stryper fans.  He’s always been able to do the guttural, that low growling.  I can’t do it.  It hurts my throat and I don’t see how he does it, but he does it.  As far as the Queensrÿche gig, that’s not something they want to hear too much; that’s not their thing.  He does do it live occasionally, and they don’t mind.

I tell you; it’s been an impressive view from my side watching him develop.

William:  Any thoughts about touring for the album?

Craig:  Right now we can’t do shows.  We are talking about it.  I can’t comment too much on the lineup, but we do have musicians ready to go for live shows.  I’m not saying we’re definitely doing it, but we are in talks.  Right now, everything’s so uncertain with the virus that it’s hard to really say, “Yeah, we’re gonna go do this and that and that.” I want people to know that we are thinking about it.  We get asked that question a lot.  “Are you guys ever gonna play live?” The answer is, we want to.  It’s just a matter of Todd’s availability because Queensrÿche is his main thing.  We can’t step on their schedule.  But if we do have an opening where we can do live shows again and there is an opening where can get Todd and we could go do a show, we are definitely looking at that.

William:  That’s good to hear.  I assume and hope you guys will play Florida since you live here and I’m here myself.

Craig:  That’s where we live and we’ve got some killer venues around.

William:  My understanding is Blue Water Sound & Stage is your “day gig” or main thing.

Craig:  It’s a live sound company.  I do live sound for bands, and I also have a studio in my home that I use to record, produce, mix, and master for some labels.  I’ve worked with Rat Pak on some other projects.  I become really good friends, through Todd, with Joe who owns Rat Pak, so he’s throwing some stuff my way.  Blue Water Sound & Stage is my main personal business.

William:  It’s been popular to re-release remastered versions of albums.  What does that mean to remaster something?  Is that always a good thing?

Craig:  That can go either way.  Mastering is the most important part of a mix.  So if you’ve heard a song and you listen to the song, but you’re like, “There’s just something about that song I don’t like,” that could be in the mastering.  The ear is very, very sensitive.  When you have bad frequencies that were missed in mastering, the song can actually annoy you subconsciously.  The mastering is very crucial—same with the mixing.  You gotta be very familiar with frequency cancellations, annoying frequencies to the ear.  Two of the biggest ones are electric guitar and vocals.

William:  Have you ever heard something that’s been remastered and thought it actually sounds worse?

Craig: Yes.  Absolutely.

William:  So why are records remastered?  Is the sound objectively better or does it come down to differences in taste and personal preference?  Are some people just trying to find an excuse to put the record out again?

Craig: That could be part of it, the excuse to put the record out again, maybe to generate sales.  But I think it’s that in the past twenty-five years, the standard has changed.  If you listen to an old Van Halen record like Diver Down or one of their earlier records, listen to the volume of the record.  It’s very low.  Let’s say you’re listening to that through your car stereo; I’d turn that up to about thirty-three, which is beyond what I would ever turn anything up to.  When they remaster it, they’re remastering it probably mainly for volume, maybe to brighten it up a little bit, bring a little more low-end into it because that’s another thing with the old standards:  there wasn’t a lot of low-end.  They were afraid to put it in there because it distorted real easy; it would overload.  Now, the standard is they realize they can add a little more low-end and they can bring the volume way up to so that when I put that remastered CD in, I’m only hitting twenty-five on the volume and it’s blaring loud on my car stereo.  Perceived volume is what it’s called when you master.

 

Todd La Torre - Rejoice In The Suffering

 

William:  What do you think about raising the volume?  I know a lot of people prefer the older recordings because there are more peaks and valleys, a greater dynamic range, and I know if someone brings that volume of the recording up too far during mastering or remastering, you start getting clipping, which will affect the recording no matter how low you play it.  And if every part of a song is as loud as all the other parts, it stops getting your attention.

I guess what I’m asking is, what do you think about increasing the volume as part of the remastering process?

Craig: You just gotta be careful with it because you’re right:  it loses its peaks.  Here’s a thing about mastering:  when you bring the bottom of the mix up and squish it at the top of the ceiling, you’re bringing up frequencies and sounds.  You can bring up weird frequencies that change the sound of the song.  You’re like, “Well, I haven’t heard that in the song before.  Did they add something?” Or it sounds more compressed.  Sometimes you’ll get stuff that’s overly compressed and they’ve killed it.  They’ve lost the dynamic.  Those peaks are gone.  The valleys are gone.  It doesn’t sound pleasing to my ear anymore.  I have heard a few albums where I’ve thought, “Yeah, they shouldn’t have touched it.  They should have just left it alone.”

William:  So re-mastering doesn’t just necessarily make it louder.  It can actually change the song.

Craig: Absolutely.

William:  What’s an album you’d love to remaster?

Craig:  Hmmm . . . . I wouldn’t change anything that I love because I love it just the way it is.  That’s a hard question.

William:  Does KISS’ “Mr. Blackwell” from their Music from “The Elder” album speak to you in any way?

Craig: [Laughs] You know, when I first heard that song, I was drawn to it just because of the name Blackwell in it.  I always thought that was cool.  I’m not sure who that song is in reference to.  I think there is a magician whose last name is Blackwell because I’ve been asked that question.  I’ve always wondered who that song is in reference to, but, yes, that song always spoke to me.  I was never a huge KISS fan, but I always respected them.  I love the look.  I love the craziness.

William:  The narrative of The Elder is kind of confusing, but I think he is supposed to be the villain.  That’s about all I know about “Mr. Blackwell.” Is there a song from Rejoice in the Suffering that you are particularly proud of?

Craig:  “Apology.” I had written that chorus piece that’s in there a while back.  We fought with it a little bit and then said, “You know, let’s add this in here.  This is kind of the sound and feel I’m going for.” Todd started writing lyrics, and then it got really emotional.  Then, we finished up the end of the song where it goes up into the higher register.  I feel that song.  It really hits home.  I really look forward to playing that song live one day.  I’m proud of all of the songs, but that one hits me in the heart.  It’s a really deep song for me.

William:  I asked Todd about “Apology,” and I also told him that was my favorite song off the record.  I like all of the record.  I like the bonus tracks, too, but “Apology” is the one that rips you in half.  It’s searing.  What a great song.

Craig: That song is really emotional for Todd.  I know that.  We don’t want to elaborate too much on it, but it definitely hits home.  There’s a lot of feeling behind that song.

William:  He and I talked about it a little bit.  He didn’t get into specifics, but I know from other interviews and so on what it’s about it or some of what it’s about.  The background is out there for people who want to look around.  “Apology” will really resonate with a lot of people, I think.

Craig: It’s a melodic, metal groove.  It’s got everything in it.  That’s the beauty of that song.   I love the chorus of that song.  That groove to me just really hits.  That song has every aspect you would want in a metal song.

William:  There’s the high parts.  The catchy parts.  The part about a minute in, where Todd does that long, rumbling, guttural “AHHHHHHH.” Just an incredible song.

Can you tell us a little bit about the equipment you used on the album—guitars, amplifiers, effects?

Craig:  I’m a Jackson guy.  I love Jackson guitars.  I’ve owned Jackson guitars all of my life.  I’ve always been a Randy Rhoads fan, so I’ve always loved the Vs, King Vs, Dinkys, solo Strats.  Within the last three years, I’ve picked up a Chapman; it’s a British company.  So I played four different guitars on the record:  a Jackson, a Chapman, a Gibson Les Paul, and an ESP EC-1000.  For amplification, I used a Kemper.  A big-name producer—I’m not gonna name his name—gave us a secret preset that he has for rhythm guitars.  I’ve always been big on the Mesa Boogie .50 Cal.  Well, that’s the preset that was given to us for our rhythm sound.  So that’s basically, a Kemper on the rhythms, and then I used an EVH EL4 through a Mesa Boogie 412 cabinet for the leads.

William:  What about bass?  You played bass on there, too, right?

Craig:  Yep.  I played through an Ampeg.  It’s a smaller Ampeg head.  I just run direct.  I used a Music Man bass on the record.

William:  Are there songs or parts of songs on Rejoice in the Suffering where you tried to channel a particular song, bassist, guitarist, or band?

Craig: This is a great question.  You will hear a lot of different styles and guitar players.  In these songs, I’m basically saying, “Hey, this is my inspiration.” You’ll hear Paul Gilbert, Jake Lee, Jason Becker, Zakk Wylde, Stryper, John Sykes, Jeff Loomis, a little bit of Joe Bonamassa, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.  Those are all guys that I grew up listening to.  Neal Schon.  I could keep naming guitar players.  I wanted to say, “Hey, thank you.”

So there’s a lot of inspiration.  So you remember Shotgun Messiah?

William:  Oh, yeah.  Yeah.

Craig: Harry Cody is the guitar player.  I don’t know what’s he’s doing now, but he is one of my favorite guitar players.  He’s an unbelievable guitar player.  He’s super-smooth.  Blues Saraceno.  I was always a huge Jason Becker fan and Marty Friedman.  I just recently linked up with Jeff Loomis.  I’ve always been a fan of him from the first time I heard him.  These are just amazing players.  All these guys helped shape how I play, especially back in the day when I first heard Stryper.  Michael Sweet and Oz Fox playing together were unbelievable to me.  I couldn’t believe what those guys were doing together.  Just great guys and unbelievable guitar players.

 

Craig Blackwell

 

William:  You mentioned Jeff Loomis.  Have you heard the Conquering Dystopia project that he did?

Craig: I’ve been so wrapped up in recording that I’ve really got to get back to some stuff that I’ve been missing, so I have not.

William:  They classify themselves as an instrumental technical death metal supergroup.  It’s really good stuff.  The only weird thing is something about the record label one of the guys is on prevents Conquering Dystopia from releasing their record on CD, so you have to get it either as download or on vinyl.

Craig: Huh.  That’s weird.

William:  I think they want to get it out on CD at some point.  Once we go from metal to death metal, I get pickier, so this is good stuff.

Speaking of death metal, Todd said he wants to go in more of a death metal direction on his next solo album, kind of in the vein of “One By One.” Are there additional styles, you’d like to explore in your playing on his next solo album?

Craig: Absolutely.  We’ve actually already written some stuff that we’re working on.  I know he wanted to go in that direction.  That’s not my favorite genre, but I would love to do that project with him—no problem.  That would take me in a different direction.  I’m always looking to step out of the box.  Every musician is in some sort of a box.  I think we’d have a lot of fun with that.

William:  Five albums down the line, you guys are gonna be doing bagpipes and polka.

Craig: [Laughs] Yeah, we’ll be all over the place.

William:  Let’s say you’re doing the second album and Todd says, “Not all these songs have to be death metal.  Let’s do a song that’s not death metal.  You get to choose the style and direction.” What would you want to do?

Craig:  I would go back to the groove.  I always love groove.  To me, that’s where my heart and soul is, that roots-metal groove.  “One By One” is the oddball on this record, so doing a groove song would be the same thing on a second record.  So if he asked me that and I said, “Let’s go back to a groove metal song,” we would have to try to make it fit, but that’s where my heart would go.

William:  So let’s say y’all are able to do a little touring on the album.  If you were going to include one cover song in your set, what would you include and why?

Craig:  OOOOOOO!  That’s a good one.  Oh, man.  Let’s see . . . . That’s a tough one.  It might end up being a Pantera song or something to kick the audience in the teeth a little bit, surprise them a little bit.  It would definitely be in that range.  Pantera, maybe.  I don’t know.  That’s a good question.  I don’t have an answer for it.

William:  Well, I’m just going to throw this out there.  Todd could really do “Cemetery Gates” justice.  “Becoming” is a real get-you-going, pump-you-up track.  I’d love to hear “Over the Mountain.” It’s got my favorite Randy Rhoads solo.

Craig:  Oh, yep.  That’s a great one.  You know what?  You just triggered one for me—“Believer.”  I love Zakk Wylde’s version of that when they do that song live.  “Believer” would be a really good tune to do live like that.  Diary of a Madman is one of my favorite Ozzy albums of all time.  I used to have the vinyl of that.  I took the album jacket and pinned it to my wall and put the vinyl in another sleeve because I loved the picture.  I’ve always loved that album cover.

William:  Diary of a Madman has some great stuff.  A lot of that early Ozzy stuff is so solid.  You mentioned Jake E. Lee and it seems to me that Ultimate Sin and Bark at the Moon—especially Bark at the Moon—don’t get mentioned as much in Ozzy’s catalog as maybe they should, but to me Bark at the Moon is a great album.

Craig: Yeah, absolutely,

William:  If I went into a bar and ordered a “Craig Blackwell,” what ingredients would the bartender put in the drink?

Craig: You know what that would be?  That would be a variant of a Long Island Iced Tea.  [Laughs]

William:  Thank you so much for talking with me.

Craig:  You’re welcome.  Sounds good, buddy, and we can do this anytime.

William:  That’s good to know.  I want to talk with you about your future projects.

Craig:  Keep in touch.  You got my number.  Like I said, any time.

 

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NEW MUSIC: Todd La Torre set to release debut solo album “Rejoice In The Suffering”

Todd La Torre

 

As global touring came to a sudden and unexpected halt earlier this year, Queensrÿche frontman Todd La Torre has been using his recent pandemic downtime to put the finishing touches on his debut solo album Rejoice In The Suffering.

The idea for a solo album was always in the cards for Todd. With Queensrÿche tour dates postponed indefinitely, the world events offered Todd the opportunity to explore his ideas for Rejoice In The Suffering. Todd teamed up with longtime friend and collaborator Craig Blackwell and alongside producer Chris “Zeuss” Harris created a diverse heavy metal album that draws influence from different styles. These styles will surprise fans who only know La Torre from his previous work with Queensrÿche or Crimson Glory before that.

Rejoice In The Suffering is scheduled for release globally on February 5, 2021 via Rat Pak Records.

 

 

 

Todd La Torre - Rejoice In The Suffering

 

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Jason Bieler and The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra – Songs For The Apocalypse (Album Review)

Not one to normally travel in the world of prog, rocker Jason Bieler, known for his time as guitarist/singer and songwriter for 90s rock band Saigon Kick has created an album that is perfectly titled for these times in ‘Songs For The Apocalypse.” Listed under the moniker Jason Bieler and The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra, the album presents a diverse array of styles and finds Bieler working with an eclectic group of musical friends including some notable prog rock names, such as Todd LaTorre (Queensrÿche), Devin Townsend, Bumblefoot (Sons of Apollo), Pat Badger (Extreme), Butch Walker (ex-Marvelous 3), ,Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Benji Webbe (Skindred), Kyle Sanders (Hellyeah) and more.

It is hard to know what to expect going in.  Bieler has always been an eclectic artist going back to the early Saigon Kick albums like platinum selling The Lizard and the extremely diverse Water, their last on Atlantic Records.  Since that time, Bieler has run a successful record label, putting out albums from bands like Karnivool, Sikth, and Nonpoint, as well as releasing more than 100 songs of various styles on streaming platforms.  But this is his first official solo album, and it is a quite impressive outing.

Fans of classic Saigon Kick will immediately recognize Bieler’s style in the main opening track and first single “Apology”, a powerful, heavy track with the catchy chorus filled with his unique harmony style.  There could not be a better track to kick off the festivities.  The next track, “Bring Out Your Dead,” gets even more aggressive and features an unexpected solo by Devin Townsend, not known for guesting on many albums.

From here is where things really get interesting.  “Annalise” is a completely strange yet captivating track that channels Beiler’s inner prog musician.  The various time signatures of the drums, guitars, and vocals, all playing off each at once shouldn’t make sense, but it completely does.  This is one of the highlights on the record and as a listener, you can’t help but think, what might be next?

You have three rock tracks up next. “Stones Will Fly” enters Foo Fighters territory with the drums heavy on toms, building towards a grungy chorus, “Down In A Hole” a darker entry with a latin-groove breakdown, while “Anthem for Losers” is a fist-pumping arena rock jam.  But, the next few tracks that follow are completely different.”Horror Wobbles The Hippo” is a dark instrumental with some great guitar work, “Beyond Hope” contains a reggae-style rap, while “Crab Claw Don” is half circus anthem and half gorgeous ballad.

“Born in the Sun” reintroduces the heavy guitars with a riff that would work on a Dream Theater track. “Alone in the World” is pure Saigon Kick with the signature tom-tom drums and vocal harmonies. The last full track “Very Fine People” is a sarcastic acoustic ballad where Bieler sings “We all need love, we all see who you are.”

This is a completely fun, interesting, and entertaining album that is heavy, melodic, and diverse.  It is a great reminder to Saigon Kick fans why that was one of the 90s most underrated bands. Welcome back Mr. Bieler. Highly recommended.

Released on Jan 22nd, 2021 on Frontiers Music

Key Tracks: Apology, Bring Out Your Dead, Annalise, Born of the Sun

Tracklist:
1. Never Ending Circle
2. Apology
3. Bring Out Your Dead
4. Annalise
5. Stones Will Fly
6. Down In A Hole
7. Anthem For Losers
8. Horror Wobbles The Hippo
9. Beyond Hope
10. Crab Claw Dan
11. Born Of The Sun
12. Baby Driver
13. Alone In The World
14. Very Fine People
15. Fkswyso

https://orcd.co/jasonbieler

Line-up:
All instruments and vocals by Jason Bieler unless listed otherwise below:

Apology
Drums: Todd LaTorre
Bass: Kevin Scott
Solos: Andee Blacksugar

Bring Out Your Dead
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: David Ellefson
Solo: Devin Townsend

Annalise:
Bass: Kevin Scott

Stones Will Fly:
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass: Pat Badger
Solo and extra guitars: Butch Walker

Down In A Hole:
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: Kyle Sanders
Extra Guitars: Stephen Gibb

Anthem For Losers
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass, Piano, Guitar Twanging: Clay Cook

Horror Wobbles The Hippo:
Extra guitars solos and soundscapes: Emil Werstler

Beyond Hope
Guest Vocals: Benji Webbe
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass: David Ellefson
Solo: Bumblefoot

Born Of The Sun:
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: Kyle Sanders
Solo: Clint Lowery

Alone In The World:
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Guest Vocals: Jeff Scott Soto

The post Jason Bieler and The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra – Songs For The Apocalypse (Album Review) appeared first on The Prog Report.

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Jason Bieler Interview – Songs for the Apocalypse

Not one to normally travel in the world of prog, rocker Jason Bieler is set to release his new solo album, “Songs For The Apocalypse,” under the moniker Jason Bieler and The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra, on January 22, 2021 on CD/LP/Digital. The album presents a diverse array of styles and finds Bieler working with an eclectic group of musical friends including some notable prog rock names, such as Todd LaTorre (Queensrÿche), Devin Townsend, Bumblefoot (Sons of Apollo), Pat Badger (Extreme), Butch Walker (ex-Marvelous 3), ,Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Benji Webbe (Skindred), Kyle Sanders (Hellyeah) and more. A full list of musical cohorts can be found below.  For those not familiar with Jason Bieler, he is the guitarist/vocalist/producer of the band Saigon Kick.  Yes, the band that had the hit “Love Is On the Way”.

Here Jason joins the podcast to talk about his new solo album Songs for the Apocalypse which features guests like Devin Townsend, Bumblefoot, Todd La Torre and others. We also talk about his long career as a member of Saigon Kick, owning his own record label, and more.

For the full audio click the podcast link or download the podcast on
iTunes · Google· Stitcher · PodBeanSpotify
Subscribe to the podcast to automatically receive future podcast episodes.

Pre-order/save the album HERE: https://orcd.co/jasonbieler

Tracklist:
1. Never Ending Circle
2. Apology
3. Bring Out Your Dead
4. Annalise
5. Stones Will Fly
6. Down In A Hole
7. Anthem For Losers
8. Horror Wobbles The Hippo
9. Beyond Hope
10. Crab Claw Dan
11. Born Of The Sun
12. Baby Driver
13. Alone In The World
14. Very Fine People
15. Fkswyso

Line-up:
All instruments and vocals by Jason Bieler unless listed otherwise below:

Apology
Drums: Todd LaTorre
Bass: Kevin Scott
Solos: Andee Blacksugar

Bring Out Your Dead
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: David Ellefson
Solo: Devin Townsend

Annalise:
Bass: Kevin Scott

Stones Will Fly, My Only Hope:
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass: Pat Badger
Solo and extra guitars: Butch Walker

Down In A Hole:
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: Kyle Sanders
Extra Guitars: Stephen Gibb

Anthem For Losers
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass, Piano, Guitar Twanging: Clay Cook

Horror Wobbles The Hippo:
Extra guitars solos and soundscapes: Emil Werstler

Beyond Hope
Guest Vocals: Benji Webbe
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass: David Ellefson
Solo: Bumblefoot

Born Of The Sun:
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: Kyle Sanders
Solo: Clint Lowery

Alone In The World:
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Guest Vocals: Jeff Scott Soto

The post Jason Bieler Interview – Songs for the Apocalypse appeared first on The Prog Report.

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Rock News Wrapup: Dio, Metallica, Ronnie Atkins, Todd La Torre

Ronnie Atkins

 

Niji Entertainment and BMG have announced the first two albums in the DIO live album reissue series with “Evil Or Divine: Live In New York City” and “Holy Diver Live” on February 12, 2021. Fans can get an early listen with two tracks launched today, a never-before-released, live version of “Lord Of The Last Day” and a live version of the classic “Holy Diver”. Watch a video for “Holy Diver” now below.

Wendy Dio, who has served as the curator of Dio’s musical legacy and everything that relates to her late husband’s career (including the Ronnie James Dio hologram tour), says: “I am very excited to be working with BMG, a label that still has a passion for rock music. They will be making the complete DIO catalog available again with some interesting surprises.”

 


 

Frontiers Music Srl will release “One Shot”, the new solo album from Danish vocalist Ronnie Atkins, album on March 12, 2021. The disc’s first single, “Real”, can be streamed HERE.

“To be honest, I initially had no intention to do a solo album to begin with, but for various reasons, and in particularly my own personal health situation, I finally decided to have a crack at it,” says Atkins.

“Around Easter 2020, and only some six weeks after I was told that everything seemingly looked very positive for my health, I was, unfortunately, diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and told it was incurable, which was devastating news for me. Needless to say, that was a total game changer and I went into kind of a panic situation for a while. But when the dust had settled, I realized there were two ways to approach the situation. I could sit down, accept the facts, and feel pity for myself or I could pull myself up, set some goals, pursue my dreams, and carry on living. And with fantastic backup from my family and true friends, I went for the latter.”

 


 

Queensryche’s Todd La Torre has unnveiled a ripping solo track, “Darkened Majesty”.

The track comes off his first solo album “Rejoice In The Suffering” which comes out on February 5 via Rat Pak Records.

Check out the first single HERE.

 


 

METALLICA’s James Hetfield performed an acoustic version of Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page” at Joe Walsh’s fourth annual VetsAid charity concert, which took place virtually on Saturday, December 12. Also appearing with the legendary EAGLES guitarist were PEARL JAM’s Eddie Vedder, Jon Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, Daryl Hall, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, Blake Shelton, Steven Van Zandt, Brandon Flowers, Gwen Stefani, Jason Isbell, Ben Harper, and many more.

Video of Hetfield’s “Turn The Page” rendition can be seen HERE.

 

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Jason Bieler releases single “Bring Out Your Dead” feat. Devin Townsend and Dave Ellefson

Not one to normally travel in the world of prog, rocker Jason Bieler is set to release his new solo album, “Songs For The Apocalypse,” under the moniker Jason Bieler and The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra, on January 22, 2021 on CD/LP/Digital. The album presents a diverse array of styles and finds Bieler working with an eclectic group of musical friends including some notable prog rock names, such as Todd LaTorre (Queensrÿche), Devin Townsend, Bumblefoot (Sons of Apollo), Pat Badger (Extreme), Butch Walker (ex-Marvelous 3), ,Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Benji Webbe (Skindred), Kyle Sanders (Hellyeah) and more. A full list of musical cohorts can be found below.  For those not familiar with Jason Bieler, he is the guitarist/vocalist/producer of the band Saigon Kick.  Yes, the band that had the hit “Love Is On the Way”.

Today, Bieler has released the new song ‘Bring Out Your Dead’ featuring David Ellefson (Megadeth), Devin Townsend, and Edu Cominato (SOTO, Jeff Scott Soto).

“As someone who tends to avoid guest appearances, I had to make an exception for the hyper-snuggly Jason Bieler as a direct result of a show he played in Vancouver I saw when I was 18 that I found super inspiring. Its my honor to be involved with such a snuggly, talented dude. =)” – Devin Townsend

“Jason Bieler is the modern-day Frank Zappa of our time. This record shows incredible diversity, melodies for days and an incredibly sophisticated view of the world through the eccentric lyrics and music of Mr Bieler. This record took me to new musical voyages I had never before explored and for that alone I’m thankful for the privilege of playing on this album.” – David Ellefson (Megadeth/Ellefson)

 

Pre-order/save the album HERE: https://orcd.co/jasonbieler

Tracklist:
1. Never Ending Circle
2. Apology
3. Bring Out Your Dead
4. Annalise
5. Stones Will Fly
6. Down In A Hole
7. Anthem For Losers
8. Horror Wobbles The Hippo
9. Beyond Hope
10. Crab Claw Dan
11. Born Of The Sun
12. Baby Driver
13. Alone In The World
14. Very Fine People
15. Fkswyso

Line-up:
All instruments and vocals by Jason Bieler unless listed otherwise below:

Apology
Drums: Todd LaTorre
Bass: Kevin Scott
Solos: Andee Blacksugar

Bring Out Your Dead
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: David Ellefson
Solo: Devin Townsend

Annalise:
Bass: Kevin Scott

Stones Will Fly, My Only Hope:
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass: Pat Badger
Solo and extra guitars: Butch Walker

Down In A Hole:
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: Kyle Sanders
Extra Guitars: Stephen Gibb

Anthem For Losers
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass, Piano, Guitar Twanging: Clay Cook

Horror Wobbles The Hippo:
Extra guitars solos and soundscapes: Emil Werstler

Beyond Hope
Guest Vocals: Benji Webbe
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass: David Ellefson
Solo: Bumblefoot

Born Of The Sun:
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: Kyle Sanders
Solo: Clint Lowery

Alone In The World:
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Guest Vocals: Jeff Scott Soto

The post Jason Bieler releases single “Bring Out Your Dead” feat. Devin Townsend and Dave Ellefson appeared first on The Prog Report.

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Todd La Torre announces new solo album ‘Rejoice in the Suffering’

As global touring came to a sudden and unexpected halt earlier this year, Queensrÿche frontman Todd La Torre has been using his recent pandemic downtime to put the finishing touches on his debut solo album Rejoice In The Suffering. The idea for a solo album was always in the cards for Todd. With Queensrÿche tour dates postponed indefinitely, the world events offered Todd the opportunity to explore his ideas for Rejoice In The Suffering. Todd teamed up with longtime friend and collaborator Craig Blackwell and alongside producer Chris “Zeuss” Harris created a diverse heavy metal album that draws influence from different styles. These styles will surprise fans who only know La Torre from his previous work with Queensrÿche or Crimson Glory before that. Rejoice In The Suffering is scheduled for release globally on February 5, 2021 via Rat Pak Records.

“Rejoice In The Suffering was truly a labor of love. It’s a pure metal record that certainly showcases a wide range of my vocal abilities. I feel there is something for any true fan of metal on this album. This album is full of groove, dynamics, power, and substance and I can’t wait for people to hear it,” explains Todd La Torre.

From the album’s opening riffs of “Dogmata” to the vocal acrobatics that drive the album closer “Apology,” it is apparent that Todd La Torre has a true love of heavy metal. Playing drums and recording the vocals for the album, songs like “Darkened Majesty” and “Critical Cynic” offer an inside look into the musical mind of La Torre. Craig Blackwell’s guitar playing provides the perfect musical accents to La Torre’s vocals. Todd even finds vocal wails not heard from him before as showcased on the title track and the punishing “Vanguards of the Dawn Wall.” The deluxe version of the album features 3 bonus tracks: “Fractured,” “Set It Off” and “One by One.”

The track listing for Rejoice In The Suffering:

1. Dogmata
2. Pretenders
3. Hellbound and Down
4. Darkened Majesty
5. Crossroads to Insanity
6. Critical Cynic
7. Rejoice in the Suffering
8. Vexed
9. Vanguards of the Dawn Wall
10. Apology
Bonus Tracks (Deluxe Version Only)
11. Fractured
12. Set it Off
13. One by One

The post Todd La Torre announces new solo album ‘Rejoice in the Suffering’ appeared first on The Prog Report.

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Jason Bieler releases single “Apology” feat. Todd La Torre on drums from upcoming solo record

Not one to normally travel in the world of prog, rocker Jason Bieler is set to release his new solo album, “Songs For The Apocalypse,” under the moniker Jason Bieler and The Baron Von Bielski Orchestra, on January 22, 2021 on CD/LP/Digital. The album presents a diverse array of styles and finds Bieler working with an eclectic group of musical friends including some notable prog rock names, such as Todd LaTorre (Queensrÿche), Devin Townsend, Bumblefoot (Sons of Apollo), Pat Badger (Extreme), Butch Walker (ex-Marvelous 3), ,Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), Clint Lowery (Sevendust), Benji Webbe (Skindred), Kyle Sanders (Hellyeah) and more. A full list of musical cohorts can be found below.  For those not familiar with Jason Bieler, he is the guitarist/vocalist/producer of the band Saigon Kick.  Yes, the band that had the hit “Love Is On the Way”.

The first single and video, ‘Apology’ features Todd LaTorre (Queensrÿche) on drums, Kevin Scott on bass, and a guest guitar solo from Andee Blacksugar (KMFDM), with Bieler handling lead vocals and all other instruments.

Watch the video for ‘Apology’ HERE:

Pre-order/save the album HERE: https://orcd.co/jasonbieler

Tracklist:
1. Never Ending Circle
2. Apology
3. Bring Out Your Dead
4. Annalise
5. Stones Will Fly
6. Down In A Hole
7. Anthem For Losers
8. Horror Wobbles The Hippo
9. Beyond Hope
10. Crab Claw Dan
11. Born Of The Sun
12. Baby Driver
13. Alone In The World
14. Very Fine People
15. Fkswyso

Line-up:
All instruments and vocals by Jason Bieler unless listed otherwise below:

Apology
Drums: Todd LaTorre
Bass: Kevin Scott
Solos: Andee Blacksugar

Bring Out Your Dead
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: David Ellefson
Solo: Devin Townsend

Annalise:
Bass: Kevin Scott

Stones Will Fly, My Only Hope:
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass: Pat Badger
Solo and extra guitars: Butch Walker

Down In A Hole:
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: Kyle Sanders
Extra Guitars: Stephen Gibb

Anthem For Losers
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass, Piano, Guitar Twanging: Clay Cook

Horror Wobbles The Hippo:
Extra guitars solos and soundscapes: Emil Werstler

Beyond Hope
Guest Vocals: Benji Webbe
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Bass: David Ellefson
Solo: Bumblefoot

Born Of The Sun:
Drums: Edu Cominato
Bass: Kyle Sanders
Solo: Clint Lowery

Alone In The World:
Drums: Ricky Sanders
Guest Vocals: Jeff Scott Soto

The post Jason Bieler releases single “Apology” feat. Todd La Torre on drums from upcoming solo record appeared first on The Prog Report.

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