Sad news to report as Marsha Zazula, the legendary co-founder of Megaforce Records which launched the careers of Metallica, Anthrax, King’s X and many others, has died. She was 68 years old. News of her passing was shared by her daughter Rikki, writing: “RIP Mom April 21, 1952 -January 10, 2021 Your love, Your strength, Your memory and Your music has changed lives and will continue to FOREVER.” Marsha formed Megaforce with her husband Jon “Jonny Z” Zazula in 1983, as metal music lovers and entrepreneurs with no prior industry experience, but founded a brand that will always hold an iconic place in the hearts of metal fans and band. In Jonny’s 2020 memoir, he largely credited a lot of the success of the label to Marsha. The label released Metallica’s first two albums, 1983’s “Kill ‘Em All” and 1984’s “Ride The Lightning”, before the band signed to Elektra. Other bands they fostered and worked with included Testament, Overkill, Ace Frehley, Ministry, Stormtroopers Of Death, Raven, and many more. The Zazula’s latest venture was Breaking Bands, a music management, and services company run with Chuck Billy of Testament and Maria Ferrero. RIP Marsha.
Cover songs can be tricky. A balancing act that often results in calamity. Lean too far one way and be accused of musical blasphemy; keep things too safe and be reliably informed you shouldn’t have bothered in the first place. So with that in mind, surely an album consisting entirely of cover versions is just asking for trouble, isn’t it?Continue reading
Industrial Metal legends Stabbing Westward have shared a brand new Halloween covers EP dubbed Hallowed Hymns! The release, a gift to their die-hard fans and new ones too, is streaming and physical copies are for sale from their new label COP International at the link below. The covers include new takes on old Industrial and post-Punk/Goth classics from Ministry, The Cure, and Echo and the Bunnymen. The EP was produced by their longtime collaborator John Fryer, who worked on the band’s early classic albums. Fryer and Stabbing Westward are in the studio now working on a new full-length album for release in 2021. Purchase and stream the EP now!
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The EP, released on COP International Records, features 4 tracks that were instrumental to the industrial band’s beginnings and conjure the feeling of the season and include original takes on “Burn” from The Cure (famously featured on the soundtrack to The Crow), the classic “Every Day Is Halloween” by Ministry and Echo And The Bunnymen’s eternal hit “Killing Moon.” There is also a special “Devil’s Night Mix” version of Stabbing Westward’s “Burn” cover to round out the surprise release.
Stabbing Westward— featuring original founding members Christopher Hall (vocals/guitar) and Walter Flakus (keyboards/programming) as well as longtime bandmate Carlton Bost (bass) and newest member Bobby Amaro (drums)—originally released their cover of “Burn” to much fanfare for the Cold Waves Festival compilation album in September; the track was premiered by Revolver magazine that called it a “reverent cover” that kicked off the compilation “with a bang.”
Says frontman Christopher Hall about this special surprise release:
“2020 has been a shit year. We were supposed to release our new album and tour the U.S. to support it. But clearly that’s not happening. We know Halloween is different this year with no parties and no Trick or Treating so we wanted to give fans something special …. something that will help tie you over until we can release some new music.
We picked these three tracks because, for us, they represent the feeling of Halloween and they were very important songs during our early musical stages. If there were ever two bands that I would say most influenced Walter and I to form Stabbing Westward it would be Ministry and The Cure. From the earliest days of Ministry’s With Sympathy through the evolution of Twitch, they were the band that opened our minds and hearts to industrial music. To be able to reimagine these songs as Stabbing Westward while still trying to pay homage to the brilliance of the original versions was a terrifyingly fun adventure.
We have been working on the album so hard for so long that it was really a joy to take a break and explore all these tracks had to offer. As often as you listen to your favorite songs it’s a totally different experience to take one apart and see how it was built. It gave me such an immense appreciation for what these amazing artists created—especially the Ministry track knowing how primitive the gear was that Al Jourgensen had to work with back then with none of the modern tools we take for granted today. He literally created new techniques in the studio that we still use today. He was light years ahead of his time. We hope you enjoy listening to these tracks as much as we have enjoyed recording them.”
The EP’s title coyly illustrates that Stabbing Westward is in fact neither dead nor gone, but rather ready to pick up where they left off after a string of mid-‘90s hits that dominated alternative radio and film soundtracks, including “Shame,” “Save Yourself,” “So Far Away” and “What Do I Have to Do?”, and resulted in two Gold records.
(photo credit: @Pharmadiver/Kim Hansen Photography)
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We caught up with music legend Burton C. Bell (ex Fear Factory) of Ascension of the Watchers for a new podcast, to chat all about his new album Apocrypha (Dissonance Productions). We chatted about the history of the band, the lead up to making this new album, Burton’s songwriting process, how he derives inspiration from film scores and soundtracks, his bandmates Jayce Lewis and John Bechdel (Ministry, Prong), the spiritual side to his lyrics and themes he writes from, the concept of “modern analog” and how it influenced the recording, memories of the late Paul Raven (Killing Joke/Prong), some thoughts on other projects like City of Fire and G/Z/R, and much more. Order the album here, and check out our chat.
It appears that Protest the Hero have got some thoughts on today’s, let us say shit, political climate. When your opening track is called ‘The Migrant Mother’ it’s a bit of a tell that Palimpsest (Spinefarm Records) has some issues it wants to address. I mean, regardless of subject matter I’d still be all for Palimpsest. Come on, it’s Protest the Hero, I could listen to songs about cooking bacon as long as it’s a new album.
Bill Rieflin, who had a four-decade career as a drummer across Punk, Alternative Rock, Industrial Metal, and Progressive Rock has died. He was 59. Initial reports of his passing made no mention of a cause of death, but his Wikipedia page reported a battle with cancer, confirmed by his friend, session drummer Kevin Chamberlin. Most recently Bill was the drummer for King Crimson and the news was reported by KC founder Robert Fripp in a very sad and touching memorial via Facebook. Fripp wrote that Rieflin’s wife, Tracy, called him with the news. “Tracy told Toyah (Fripp’s wife) and me that the day was grey, and as Bill flew away the clouds opened, and the skies were blue for about fifteen minutes. Fly well, Brother Bill! My life is immeasurably richer for knowing you.” Rieflin’s career began in his hometown of Seattle, where he drummed with a variety of local acts, notably the punk rock group The Blackouts. The band’s final EP was produced by Ministry’s Al Jourgensen, with whom Rieflin became friends with. Jourgensen recruited the Rieflin to join Ministry when Blackouts broke up, and Rieflin played on the band’s 1988 album The Land of Rape and Honey, an industrial music iconic album in the genre. He continued as a member of the group through the mid-90s, contributing to five of the band’s LPs. Following his departure from Ministry in 1996, he played with KMFDM, New York experimental band Swans and folk group Angels of Light. Rieflin also played on Nine Inch Nails’ 1999 double album The Fragile. Also that year, he released his debut solo album, Birth of a Giant. It was during this time that a publicist introduced him to R.E.M.’s Peter Buck. The drummer would then join and contribute to R.E.M.’s final three albums — 2004’s Around the Sun, 2008’s Accelerate and 2011’s Collapse Into Now. Rieflin had previously collaborated and remained friends, announced that the drummer had joined King Crimson in 2013. Rieflin would tour with the group and appear on five of their ensuing live albums, released between 2015-18. He had been absent from the group since taking an indefinite sabbatical in 2019. Bill was an incredible drummer and kind soul. Not many artists can say they wrote and performed with three Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acts (King Crimson, R.E.M., and Nine Inch Nails) as Bill did. Many artists paid tribute to Bill, including fellow Seattle musician Krist Novoselic of Nirvana. We send out condolences to Bill’s family, friends and many fans at this time.Continue reading
Download Festival Australia is coming up soon and has added three more bands, to the already stacked bill. Dead Letter Circus, Hellions, and Orpheus Omega have joined with the likes of My Chemical Romance, Deftones, Jimmy Eat World, Ministry, In Flames, Testament and more. Download Australia takes place Friday, 20th March at Showgrounds, Melbourne, and Saturday, 21st March at Parramatta Park, Sydney. Moshtix is the official partner for tickets for both the Melbourne and the Sydney leg of Download Festival and are on sale now.Continue reading
Sad news on the Festival and Convention front as the long-running Rock and Shock Festival in Worcester, Massachusetts has disbanded after 15 years. The announcement was made in a post to social media about the festival canceling all further festivals. The fest paired the best Horror convention and concert series in the USA and made use of both the famous Worcester Palladium venue and the convention center at the DCU Center up the block. Ghost Cult covered many Rock N Shock fests which featured incredible conventions, horror celebrities, amazing vendors , indie films, headliners such as Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, Disturbed, Danzig (including a pre-reunion Misfits headline set with Doyle), ICP, Ministry, GWAR, King Diamond, Type O Negative, Lordi, Disturbed, Mushroomhead, Voivod, Amorphis, Twiztid, Dark Tranquility, Hatebreed, Devildriver, Motionless In White, Death Grips, Superjoint, Wednesday 13, Sabaton, Prong, Witch Mountain, Sanctuary, Soilwork, OTEP, Shadows Fall, God Forbid, Cavalera, Conspiracy, Anthrax, Overkill, Misfits, and more!Continue reading
The lights came up… and it was all over.
This has been the scenario for thousands of shows I have seen. Maybe 6,000 plus shows that I have attended or performed in since I was a small child. The final bow, thunderous applause, and the blinding lights of the house coming on, our shared experience ending as we gather ourselves to go to the bar, or home. Except this was different. This was the last time I would ever see Slayer. It was definitely hitting me, long before the final notes of ‘Angel of Death’ rang out and the final jets of pyro screamed across the top of the band in a way that would excite Beavis and Butthead to no end. Continue reading
I wish I could say I knew Jonny Zazula back in the day, but I wasn’t quite old enough. Sure, I had heard all the stories. As a major Metallica and Anthrax fan, Jon and his wife Marsha’s life stories are Metal history as much as any riff, album or chorus. I bumped into Jon about twelve years ago at Starland Ballroom in New Jersey. I was there to see a Testament headline show. Jon and Eddie Trunk, who owes his career to Jon and Marsha to an extent, walked right by and I totally fanboyed out. I’m pretty sure I blurted out something lame like “Holy shit, Jonny Z! Thanks for everything!”, since that what was in my heart. He gave me like a half-pat on the arm, half a “hey dude I need to get by you” move and slipped past me on his way backstage. Trunk just smiled. That was my in-person brush with him, until a recent phone interview (coming soon) for this book release. The book is a memoir about an enterprising music lover who put a genre or two on his back and raised up everyone around him toward greatness.