Ask any guitar groupie who the six-string king is, and Joe Satriani might be the first name that comes out of their mouth. The 55-year-old virtuoso has spent decades training and working with the best guitarists in the world.
It all began on the day Jimi Hendrix died. A young Joseph Satriani ran up to his football coach during a training session and immediately announced he was quitting to become a guitarist.
Was it the universe's way of replacing one genius with another?
Joe says he can only guess. "In my 14-year-old brain, I felt I was losing something that I couldn't live without. That wasting my time playing sports was something I had to stop, and I had to learn how to play music so I could replace what I was going to be missing. It was a very emotional moment."
The fretboard wizard soon discovered he was blessed with a natural skill. He was playing in a band and at high school events within eight months of first picking up a guitar.
Jason Powers, better known as Elzhi, has dealt with the death of close friends and the break-up of his group Slum Village, but he still sounds as passionate as ever.
“It’s more than getting paid. You can’t even put into words how it feels to put the mic out and have the crowd finish your sentence. I love to create. I love to write something, put it down in the studio and play it back. It’s a beautiful feeling man. I do it for the whole experience."
Elzhi joined underground favourites Slum Village in 2001, a group often praised as the reincarnation of A Tribe Called Quest. Legendary producer J Dilla was partly responsible for bringing Elzhi into the group and helped him to get his first paid music gig.
Sadly, Dilla passed away in 2006 after a battle with Lupus disease. Founding Slum Village member Baatin also died three years later due to mysterious circumstances surrounding a struggle with mental illness.
After their 2010 release Villa Manifesto, Elzhi announced his departure from the group citing shady managers and underhanded labels.
Despite a traumatic decade, he says he never considered quitting rap. “The way it affected my music, it made me want to get a lot more personal. You can’t just bottle those feelings up inside, so the only way I know how to get them out is express it through my music. It’s almost therapeutic for me. It’s almost like medicine.”
Novembre has always been a special band. From arctic landscapes to scorching deserts, the Italian four piece manage to convey an amazing sense of atmosphere without resorting to any of the dramatic cheesiness of a cliche metal band.
Firstly Carmelo, congratulations on another quality release.
Thanks a lot mate!
Was there a specific concept or idea you guys had in mind when writing songs for The Blue?
Not really. But thinking again, this blue/cobalt picture was always in my mind. Who knows how these things work.
Recently Novembre have been booked for a tour across the UK in support of Paradise Lost, what expectations do you have from the tour and most importantly are you excited!!!?
Absolutely. We are supporting the most important band of the post-Death Metal age, the founders of the Gothic-Doom scene. It’s such an honour for us. They’re A class people, really kind, down to Earth and helpful guys. Killer tour indeed!
Israeli progressive metal band Orphaned Land released their first concept album Mabool, in 2004. After receiving rave reviews for their unique style of Oriental and Middle Eastern music, they are now working on a follow-up with prog legend Steven Wilson.
Guitarist Matti Svatizky spoke to me about Orphaned Land’s seventeen year history, beards and the Israeli metal scene.
Hi Matti, it’s a pleasure to interview one of the creative minds from such a great band! Before we start, I must know what happened to your beard? I thought it was pretty glorious haha.
Hey man, what’s up? Thanks for the compliments, they’ll get you everywhere! Now for the more serious business, my beard! The truth is, in band photos it may have looked cool, but in real life it turned out to be a disaster, so I really had to let it go.
For those who are new to the band, can you describe what Orphaned Land is all about?
Well, visiting our website (orphaned-land.com) is a very good idea. You can really learn a lot from there, hear sample music, see my ex-beard, see the rest of the guys etc. But to sum up what we’re about, I’d say that we play metal with ethnic touch. The metal we play is influenced by the whole metal genre and has aspects such as thrash metal, heavy metal, death metal, doom metal, black metal, progressive metal and so on. However, our music is not inspired by metal only, but from other genres as well. We consider ourselves to be open-minded music lovers.
The Weeknd's second album is a drug-fueled haze of sex and heartache.
After releasing House of Balloons earlier this year, Abel Tesfaye went from obscurity to god-like worship. On Thursday, the Toronto based singer further broadens his soundscape.
Instead of trying to repeat the success of his previous work, he ditches the catchy hooks and trash talking by revealing a more emotional side. His falsetto glides effortlessly over atmospheric production on tracks like 'Lonely Star' and 'Rolling Stone', and he briefly flirts with reggae during 'Heaven or Las Vegas'.
Even Drake makes a worthy appearance, somehow managing not to bore the ears off the listener with his usual cheesiness. While it's not as instantly rewarding as its predecessor, Thursday has enough great moments to continue The Weekend's cult-like buzz.
Look for the third part of this sacred R&B trilogy later in the year.
By Jimmy Ness
When you are a pre-teen it’s perfectly acceptable to love a celebrity. But if you are over 18, you are probably a creep with a restraining order.
Admittedly, I try to keep my fanboyism for Wu Tang a secret, but sometimes it just takes control. This is one of those times.
Although I’m a relatively new Wu fan, I have been looking forward to this album for a long time. It was originally announced in 2005 and is the constantly delayed sequel to the classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, released fourteen years prior.
Like many others, I accepted the common belief that the 90’s heyday was over and it was ring-tone rap from here on out. However, despite my worst fears, Raekwon lives up to the hype and delivers a modern classic.
Surprisingly, OB4CL2 maintains the cinematic feel pioneered by the original, but without RZA completely commanding the boards. This time around production is shared between the late J Dilla, Dr Dre, Pete Rock and Marley Marl amongst others.
The album follows the Mafioso theme of the previous release and Rae still has the grimiest slang. The more you listen, the more you’ll uncover new metaphors underneath his cryptic wordplay.
Guests are also on point with features from Ghostface, GZA, Masta Killa, Slick Rick, Inspectah Deck, and even Cappadonna’s performance is up to standard again. I missed seeing another guest verse from Nas on a sequel to Verbal Intercourse, but lyricism is still where OB4CL2 shines.
For a fan of Wu Tang or Hip hop in general, this is a 22 track masterpiece.
Forget Blueprint 3.
By Jimmy Ness