Monday, November 19, 2007

Jonas Hörnqvist uploads new track!

Treasure Land guitarist Jonas Hörnqvist has made a new solo instrumental composition avialbale at his myspace profile entitled "Phoenix Rising" which is taken from his forthcoming solo album. Jonas hopes to make this new album available in 2008, with the quality displayed here it sounds like it going to be killer!

Check out the clip at

Friday, November 16, 2007

James Byrd premiers "Avianti Etudes"

James Byrd has just made a live performance video available on his official website

The track is entitled "Avianti Etudes" and was recorded 6 to 7 years ago, yet now has seen the light of day. The track is a never before heard solo guitar composition and demonstrates just some of what the Byrd Guitars Super Avianti is capable of.

You can download the video at (for optimum quality) or view the clip below.

For more information on Byrd visit:

Friday, November 09, 2007

Roger Staffelbach of Angel Of Eden interview

Roger Staffelbach is best known as the guitarist in prog metallers Artension. However, with the band seemingly on hiatus Roger took this down time to form a band based around his own musical vision with Angel Of Eden being the result. Home to an impressive line up consisting of Carsten "Lizard" Schulz, Ramy Ali and Mistheria the band have see their debut album "The End Of Never" released on November 16th through Lion Music. We caught up with Roger to get a great insight into the making of the album and his new band, the state of play with Artension and much more.

Roger, congratulations on the debut Angel Of Eden release. Can you tell us what led to you forming the band and how you went about selecting the other musicians on the release?
Thanks a lot Andy. Ok, here we go. 2-3 Years ago I found myself facing many personal issues do deal with, besides going through the break-up and the divorce of my marriage, which pulled me down really heavily, I was time and again close to getting involved in other band situations, this for whatever reasons then never worked out at all, (having to deal with too many promises etc.) or the way it should have and the way I expected it to happen. I then realised I had to do something, I wanted and I had to move forward. I also decided that I wanted to work with people I hadn't worked with before.

So I decided to put together my own band. What I was not interested in was a project, as I had to deal with that issue way too long before. I was then contacted by Carsten, I was checking out his stuff and I totally liked what I heard from his previous works and from then on for me it was clear I wanted to work with him. Furthermore we get along very well and became close friends so we were ready to move on. First we were talking about Carsten to sing on 3 tracks, and we had the idea to work with different singers, but then I realised that this would limit the whole thing to a project and I did not want to be limited to this. Ramy as well as Ferdy who played on the 4 demo Tracks, who I also used for the final record, were recommended by Carsten and I was checking some of their stuff and also liked big time what they were doing, besides this Ramy and Ferdy are easy to get along with, which for me was equally important for all the guys involved in this, it makes everything so much easier, and I also think it shows if you listen to the final product.
Then getting the keyboarder was a bit difficult, it just didn’t work out for various reasons. To make a long story short, I simply never got any tracks, and as I was under pressure from the label regarding the deadline, I had look out for someone else. So I figured that Mistheria would be the guy, and as you see it worked out just great. I love his playing and furthermore we got along great from day 1. Furthermore I know Steve (Di Georgio) for some years already and I really wanted him to play on this one and he agreed to do it. So, at this point I'm really glad how everything has turned out for me.

What's the state of play with Artension and did this push you to forge ahead with a new band?
Regarding Artension, I of course would love to make another record, but whether this happens, I don’t know, but I do hope it does. Maybe there will be another one, but unfortunately I don’t know yet. And yes the current status of Artension of course was one of the reasons that led to the decision of forming my own band, that’s for sure. I just didn't want to sit home and wait for a call to make another record; it's a simple as that.

The album is a great mix of neo-classical, power and melodic metal. Does the music encompass all of what you like to hear in a band format?
Pretty much so. I'm heavily into Power Metal, Neo-classical and Melodic Rock, that’s exactly what I wanted to do with my new band.

When did the initial seeds of the tracks form and which songs came first?
For example Towards the Light is a track I wrote and recorded 3 Years ago in Memory of Shawn Lane and for the Shawn Lane Tribute, I just re-recorded this one. Lots of ideas were around for many years, but I never put them together as songs, and this was the heavy part for me. The first song besides Towards the Light I have finished was Into the Black, and then all the pieces came together step by step.
Over what time scale was the track written and did any songs undertake any changes through the writing/recording process?
I took me about 1 year to finalize all the songs. Once we had the Drums recorded I have not changed anything at all.

You have Carsten Schulz on vocals, what made you offer the gig to Carsten?
As I explained before I was checking the stuff he did with his other bands Domain and Evidence One, and I was heavily impressed especially with what he has done on the Tattooed Heart record. Furthermore I think he has a unique style, which makes him stand out. Besides this, Carsten as well as Mistheria and me share the same taste and passion of music.

The opening track "Angel Of Eden" has a great vibe and sets the tone for the album, how did you go about choosing this track to open the album?
This was the first track we recorded the vocal tracks for and I was just blown away how powerful the song sounded with these big vocal choirs, it had to be the title track, this was sure from this very moment.

"Dreamchaser" and "Into The Black" are rampant double bass drum assaults, what was your aim with these tracks?
I just wanted to do the music I always wanted to do, and this is straight forward, powerful metal. I always loved songs like 'Let it Ride', 'Into the Blue' and the really melodic songs like 'Into the Eye of the Storm' we did with Artension, I wanted to go somewhat this direction.

They should go down a storm live.
I definitely think so.

"Keys To Avalon" sees the tempo drop back for a melodic treat and it’s a great groove over which Carsten works his magic. What was the inspiration for this track?
This again was a track I was writing for another band I was meant to get involved with but again this cooperation didn’t work out, it's more in the Hard Rock Vein. So I figured this must be the song for Carsten, as he has this Hard Rock background way more than I have and I just worked out great.

The track is home to one of my favourite solos on the album, what did you look to get across in your solos on the album?
I basically didn't think about this too much. I knew the feel of the songs so it was obvious for me in about what direction I had to go for each track. Usually I go in the studio jam over the solo part and start to work out ideas, and then I record it.

"Return Of The Pharaoh pt.I" has a strong Yngwie slant to it, is it safe to say that Yngwie is an influence on you?
Yngwie is the reason I play the guitar. After listening to his Trilogy record the very first time, I was 14 years old, nothing would ever be the way it was before, and it changed my life. This is probably the song I’m most proud of; I really think it came out great.

What era Malmsteen do you like best?
I like his early stuff like Trilogy, the first Rising Force record, and then I’m totally into the Eclipse and Fire and Ice records. I also admire his works his done with his concerto and I also find some great tracks on the 'Unleash the Fury' record. This man is a legend, that’s simply the way it is.

"Stampede" hits you in the face like a sledgehammer, how did this track come together?
I was noodling around this opening riff for quiet some time and again I put it together piece by piece. It demanded this sledgehammer groove.

"The Battle Of 1386" is superb, great atmosphere with orchestration from Mistheria, I sort of see it as your version of see it as a cross between prime Metallica mixed with Holst's "The Planets".
I was inspired by this as I am very much into medieval history. I love sightseeing old castles, museums etc. This song is about a battle which took place close to where I live and I often go to this site to see the old paintings in the Battle Chapel. However, I wanted it to sound somewhat like a Movie soundtrack and I guess we got pretty close. I'm into Metallicas 'Ride the Lightning' record, especially because of the guitar sound and the riffing and I had this vicious riff and again I put it together piece by piece, it just had to bring over the character of a medieval battle from the start to the end. Mistheria did a terrific job on the intro and the whole orchestration of that tune. He, and this was the case on all the tracks he played on, always understood a 100% what my vision of each of the tracks was.

What led to you using Artension band mate John West on vocals here as opposed to Carsten?
This song simply demanded John’s voice and he did an outstanding job on this one.

There is a nice guitar/keyboard solo trade off here, did you and Mistheria discuss what you would do on sections like this or did you just "go for it"?
We just went for it, it has an aggressive touch to it and this is exactly what the song demanded.

How did the writing for the title track happen?
“End of Never” was the third song I have finished, and it didn’t take me that long to finish it. Also this was the first song we put the vocals on and I was blown away by Carsten's performance on this one, it was simply magic.

The closing instrumental "Towards The Light" is a nice showcase of your skills yet retains a purpose and has a strong classical edge. What does this instrumental say to you?
As I said before this track I have re-recorded and I think its showcases my abilities best from all the tracks on the record. This song means a lot to me as this is the first song I have recorded under my name on the Shawn Lane Tribute, and most importantly I wrote it in honour of the great Shawn Lane.

You have a great sound on the album, what guitars/amps/fx did you use and what were you looking to get from your sound this time around?
I use for many years now the Engl Savage 120 Amp. I have been searching for my sound for many years and I was trying dozens of tube amps, but still they never satisfied me a 100%, till that day when I came across Engl Savage 120. It just had everything I was searching for. Modelling Amps are not what I’m into, I miss the dynamics. They're fine for practising etc. . I own a Pod for working at home, but not for recording. Furthermore I got an Endorsement with DEAN Guitars and I really like the guitars I got from them. I got an ML Dimebag Tribute as well as a Vendetta. They play and sound great.

Regarding the sound I was going for a full and heavy sound, the rhythm sound is very important to me and I’m really happy how the whole thing has turned out in the end. Here and there are some balances I would do slightly different now, but all in all I’m more than happy how it has turned out.

The last few Artension albums in many fans eyes saw you taking a back seat to Vitalij's keyboards. Was this something you wanted to put right with Angel Of Eden?
Maybe, I liked all our records, but I missed a little bit the heaviness in the final mixes.
What's next for the band and yourself?
Let’s see what happens. I will try to play live with this band, I think the raw power of these songs are written to be performed live, I hope this works out. Besides that I’m already in the song writing process for record number two.
Anything else you would like to add for the readers?
Please check out the record, I hope you like what we've done and I hope to see you live.
Roger many thanks for your time.
Thank you Andy for your support and for having me here. Keep rocking on!
Web Links

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Roger Staffelbach's Angel Of Eden sign to Lion Music

Lion Music are delighted to announce the signing of Roger Staffelbach’s Angel Of Eden. Acclaimed for his unique style, aggressive rhythm playing and his considerable soloing skills over 7 albums with prog metallers Artension, guitarist Roger Staffelbach has served up a potent offering of first class song writing over the ten tracks on the debut Roger Staffelbach’s Angel Of Eden album “The End Of Never”.

Fuelled by Roger’s virtuoso guitar work, the melodic soaring vocals of Carsten “Lizard” Schulz [Evidence One, ex Domain], keyboard wizardry of Mistheria [solo, Bruce Dickinson], the powerhouse drumming of Rami Ali [Evidence One] and thunderous bottom end of Steve Di Giorgio [ex Testament] along with guest performances from John West [ex Royal Hunt], David Shankle [ex Manowar] and Ferdy Doernberg [Axel Rudi Pell], “The End Of Never” is a first class album from some of metal most respected names offering lush vocal melodies, pulsating rhythms and virtuoso lead breaks within captivating songs.

Track Listing
01. The End Of Never
02. Dreamchaser
03. Angel Of Eden
04. Return Of The Pharaoh (Pt. I)
05. The Battle Of 1386
06. Into The Black
07. Return Of The Pharaoh (Pt. II)
08. Keys To Avalon
09. Stampede
10. Towards The Light
Web Links

Sunday, August 19, 2007

George Bellas returns with Palace Terrace

Lion Music are proud to announce the signing of Palace Terrace, a progressive neo classical rock band with a theatrical and modern edge that is intellectually stimulating, thought provoking and emotionally moving. Their music combines superb musicianship, beautifully crafted melodies, unique harmonic progressions, compelling stories, counterpoint, large orchestrations, wide dynamics, odd meters, stunning vocal arrangements and elaborate forms.

Palace Terrace was formed when composer/guitarist George Bellas contacted Tenor Vocalist Jonathan R Marshall and invited him to fill the main vocalist spot in the band. The two discussed how they would like to see the band debut as well as evolve into the future. Sharing very similar visions the two began writing their first album "Flying Through Infinity". The search for an extraordinary percussionist was much of a concern for George and was a long but fruitful ambition when he finally discovered the prolific talents of Percussionist Sasha Horn.

George Bellas is one of the world’s leading technically advanced players with a CV that has seem him work with Ring Of Fire, John West, Vitalij Kuprij, Mogg/Way and many more as well as 3 critically acclaimed solos albums to date. George contributes all the compositions, orchestration, guitar, keyboards, bass, percussion, vocals and studio production. He has been playing guitar since the age of 7.

Palace Terrace will publicly debut with their album titled "Flying Through Infinity" during the fourth quarter of 2007 (actual date tbc) through Lion Music. More information on the album to follow soon.

Web Links

Saturday, August 11, 2007

"Treasure Land - The Search Has Begun" review

Treasure Land look set to become one of the most exciting neo-classical outfits of 2007 if the 4 tracks currently available on their official website are anything to go by. Entitled “The Search Has Begun”, the 4 tracks see guitarist Jonas Hörnqvist deliver tracks with the same kind of quality as heard on Malmsteen’s “Trilogy” albeit updated for the 21st century. Rest assured guitar heads will get a major kick out of this but luckily the song writing is equally up to scratch. Rick Altzi handles vocals here but the band have recently announced that he has left the band and a replacement is being sought. If the band can get in a high profile name (and the material gives no reason as to why they couldn’t) this could be the shot in the arm the neo-classical genre needs to get it back into the public eye.

Kicking off with the high intensity of “The Cities Are Burning” home to a scolding riff and rampant double bass drum work with an equally strong production the track is infectious and will be a winner in the live environment. The solo is equally stunning with Hörnqvist playing with equal parts speed yet with a keen ear for melody. An arpeggio sequence kicks it off before the fretboard explodes into frenzy – glorious stuff before some trade offs between guitar and keys see Hörnqvist go up another gear before another sweep picked arpeggio section brings us back into the chorus to round out the track. “Let The Curtain Fall” falls into a impressive mid tempo tune with another great riff which breaks down for the verse before picking up again for the chorus, here there is a hint of modern day power metal ala Silent Force or Iron Mask (no bad thing) and its another triumph with another scorching solo from Hörnqvist. “The Price” sees the tempo pick up again for a rocker giving of the same sort of feel as Malmsteen’s ‘Liar’ yet with nothing here remotely smelling of plagiarism. An intricate classical melody sequence again kicks off the solo section before Hörnqvist impresses once again when he cuts loose. The eastern meets Spanish latino tinted acoustic instrumental of “Only For You” adds another spin to the proceedings with some beautiful melodies over film score like orchestral arrangements.

Overall “The Search Has Begun” demonstrates a very high level of songwriting, performance and craft and I cannot wait to hear more. Check out the clips now at

Friday, June 08, 2007

Roger Staffelbach/Angel Of Eden update


Roger Staffelbach's official website has had a makeover with new content and looks superb! Roger has also just been confirmed as a Dean Guitars endorsee.

One great album to look out for out soon, Roger has just issued the following information on his website.

We are right now in the final stages of mixing of the Record, and it's gonna be great. There was a slight Change in the Line Up so from now on Mistheria is the man on the keyboards. All i can say that he is a real maestro, i'm sure you're gonna love it! We all get along very well so i'm really looking forward to what's coming next here. A new homepage for Angel of Eden will be up , details to be announced here soon. Anyway i will keep you posted on everything.

I also would like to announce the guests on the record:

John West (Artension/Solo/ex Royal Hunt)
David Shankle (DSG / ex-Manowar)
Ferdy Doernberg (Uli Roth / Axel Rudi Pell)

Thank you all for your outstanding performances!

The main core of the band on the forthcoming album as previously reported is:

Vocals: Carsten Schulz
Guitars: Roger Staffelbach
Keyboards: Mistheria
Bass: Steve Di Giorgio
Drums: Rami Ali

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Impellitteri news update

Chris Impellitteri has just posted the following on his official fansite

Hello Friends,

The new IMPELLITTERI recording titled "Good and Evil" is proceeding nicely. We are recording at the Village Recorders in Los Angeles. Also, their is a BIG SURPRISE as to who is singing in the band!! Beware!!
We are recording 13 fast riff crazy tunes with all of the Impellitteri signature shredding guitar solos, screaming vocals, pounding drums, brutal bass, with a lot of melody thrown in. And we are actually working with a co-producer, who is giving us some new and welcome input!! SHRED ON!!!

Chris is featured in the June issue ( on news stands now!!) of Guitar One Magazine with Rush on the cover. It is officially the magazines last issue, so thanks Guitar One for including Impellitteri. They have some solo ideas based on the Play With Fire riff, which actually should be based on the Black Impellitteri EP not Stand in Line. The EP has the better version!!

You can check out the solo to Play with Fire on the audio section of this web page. It was one of those crazy solos that started it all. Every shredder seems to have that IMPELLITTERI Black EP which was one of the most enjoyable discs we made because we were so poor and we just played live with virtually all room mics. Crude, rude, and taking it too the limit with everything.

Anyways, the new disc is going to sound huge and it will shock you from start to finish.

We also posted some free songs on the audio section for anyone to ripp. So, please enjoy!!

In addition we posted the bootleg footage of Impellitteri's infamous "Screaming Symphony-Instrumental" and "Space Jazz Bulldozer" live videos for all of you youtube fanatics. The bootlegs where actually recorded by some audience member at a convention we were playing as a favor to JBL It is funny how many people watch that thing, it is becoming a cult classic.

-Chris Impellitteri

Monday, May 07, 2007

Michael Harris - Orchestrate review

Lion Music - Out Now

“Orchestrate” sees world acclaimed guitarist Michael Harris back with the most ambitious album of his career. With a style best described as "Neo Orchestral Metal” the album is a modern day masterpiece. One listen reveals the unique combination of electric guitar playing a very “classical meets metal” style with an orchestra and metal drumming complete with stunning guitar virtuosity. Fans of Yngwie’s Concerto album and Uli Jon Roth’s works on ‘Transcendental Sky Guitar’ will have some idea of the basis to which Michael has taken his cues from, but to limit this album as a wannabe of the above would be selling it cheaply. ‘Orchestrate’ is simply a work of original beauty with immense guitar work that manages to combine a near perfect marriage of melody and technicality over orchestral backings which are both intelligent in their composition and stunning in their arrangement. Yet the album manages to fuse rock drumming and metal rhythms into the work.

The production of the album is also superb. Michael’s guitar tone is nearer to the Uli Roth school of tone than the Yngwie Strat attack and to some degree this tonality may well have pitched where Michael takes the orchestral backing. Opener ‘Opus Concerto’ is nothing short of breathtaking with in its music, guitar work but also production. ‘String Theory’ sees Michael take his guitar through every conceivable emotion there is the neo-classical genre from deft grace notes to blow your head off fretboard melting. The majestic ‘The Mad Composers Rage’ is a full on classical metal assault. ‘Notes From The Kursk’ has a dark and menacing Russian/Slavik vibe to it. ‘Battle At Storms Edge’ is probably the easiest track for straight metal heads to get into and reminded me a little of James Byrd’s ‘Out Of The Temple’ (from Son Of Man) which his no bad thing at all. The acoustic ‘Guiprice’ is short and concise yet musically beautiful before ‘Mysterioso’ sees the music go more towards traditional neo-classical waters which is further built upon with ‘Octavian II’. ‘The Anti Shred’ sees more restrained music come back to the fray and sees the main melody from ‘String Theory’ rearranged which is a nice turnaround before ‘Schizo Forte’ rips your head off with its cocked wah pedal tone full of counterpoints, impressive drumming from Matt Thompson whose work is equally as impressive throughout as Harris’s guitar. I view this track as Michaels own version of say a Trilogy Suite Op.5 (Yngwie Malmsteen – Trilogy) i.e. strong melodies intertwined with virtuoso guitar and its a great way to the end the album.

Overall Michael Harris has delivered what should be viewed as a classic of the neo-classical (or neo-orchestral) genre. There is plenty here for even the most hardened guitar addict to sink their teeth into yet enough accessibility for the more casual listener to enjoy. Overall a highly recommended release.

Now read our exclusive interview with Michael at:

Buy Online at:
USA - Guitar 9
Europe - Lion Music Store

Masi - Eternal Struggle review


‘Eternal Struggle’ released by Masi (led by guitar whiz Alex Masi) is one neo-classical album all readers of Baroque & Roll owe it to themselves to own. Released back in 2001, ‘Eternal Struggle’ stands up as well now as it did back at the time of its original release. Home to a sound that is commercial yet heavy; its sure to appeal to all fans of the classic Rising Force output.

Alex Masi shows off his guitar wares with equal aplomb whether it be on electric or nylon acoustic with a technique that is full of speedy arpeggios, chromatic and dissonant licks and a wailing vibrato. Simply said if you enjoy energised lead guitar and pounding riffs then ‘Eternal Struggle’ is an essential purchase. Also featured is a cover of the Foreigner classic ‘Blue Morning, Blue Day’ to which Masi adds a tonne of TNT with explosive results. Highlights come in the form of practically every song from the opening gambit onslaught of ‘Crow Haven’s Corner’ and ‘All I Want’ to the more melodic yet dark waters of ‘Wheels Roll On’ and ‘Black Flames Allure’ whilst the more commercial tracks such as ‘Lost In The City’ and ‘On & On’ hark back to the glory days of Yngwie’s ‘Odyssey’. album. The tender ‘Writing On The Wall’ is simpy beautiful showcasing Masi’s acoustic technique with nice orchestration here for added texture not to mention a great vocal from Kyle Michaels.

‘Eternal Struggle’ is one of the best neo-classical albums released so far in the 21st century and whilst Masi seems more content to play in fusion waters this will be an everlasting tribute to his skills as a neo-classical writer and performer.
Order at:
USA - Guitar 9

Sunday, April 29, 2007

George Bellas, Joe Stump and Kiko Loureiro set for Argentina

George Bellas, Joe Stump and Kiko Loureiro (Angra) will be doing some concerts next month in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 19th and 20th at the Acatraz Theatre. It will be a G3 type of bill. All three guitarists will also be doing 2 guitar clinics at the MI (Musicians Institute) of Argentina.

For more information visit and for further George Bellas worldwide clinics see next post below.

George Bellas to give guitar masterclass in Spain

Masterclass in Spain:

George will be doing several Masterclass' at the ACADEMIA DE GUITARRA located in Malaga, Spain during the month of June 2007.

George Bellas Masterclass
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Sunday, June 3, 2007

For a taster of George's guitar prowess click here...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Double Dealer Live DVD sampler

Check out the clip below for a sampler of Norifumi Shima in full flight from the latest Double Dealer live DVD.

As previously reported the new Double Dealer studio album "Desert Of Lost Souls" is out in Japan on 25th April, soundclips from the album can now be heard here

Kelly Simonz launches new myspace page

One Of Japan's leading guitar virtuosos Kelly Simonz has recently launched his own MySpace page. So be sure to head on over, check out the clips for some blistering neo-classical soloing in superb song formats and also with Kelly's great vocals.

In other Kelly Simonz news a promo sampler of his new DVD (only available through his official website) can be watched via the following link. This new DVD is approx 65 mins long and captures Kelly's performance at The Flamingo in Austria.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Roger Staffelbach's AngelOf Eden update

Roger Staffelbach, lead guitarist of ‘Roger Staffelbach’s Angel Of Eden - The End Of Never’ has posted the forthcoming album’s artwork (see below). It looks like the album with be released in Japan in July/August time (tbc) with a European release to follow shortly afterwards.

The first class line-up for the forthcoming release is:

Roger Staffelbach- Guitars
Carsten Schulz - Vocals (Domain, Evidence One)
Ferdy Doernberg - Keys (Uli Jon Roth)
Mats Olausson - Keys (Yngwie Malmsteen)
Steve di Giorgio - Bass (Testament, Sebastian Bach)
Rami Ali - Drums (Evidence One)

In related news Roger also has signed with Dean Guitars.

Web Links

Double Dealer enter the 'Desert Of Lost Souls'

Double Dealer, the Japanese supergroup featuring members of Concerto Moon and Sabre Tiger, which means to B&R readers the superb Norifumi Shima see their fourth album entitled ‘Desert Of Lost Souls’ released in Japan (a domestic release is probably unlikely) on April 25th.

The track listing is:


More information on the release (in Japanese) can be found at:

The album can be ordered from:

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

IMPELLITTERI "LIVE! FAST LOUD!" CD being re-issued with new artwork

The long out of print "Live! Fast! Loud!" CD will now be available for ordering en mass once again.

The re-issue will contain TONS of newunreleased photos and more importantly, 2 NEW bonus tracks. One is"Rat Race" and the other is a ULTA RARE live acoustic performance of"Power of Love". The "Power of Love acoustic" track may actually notstay on there long so the ones who order fast will get it.

1. Overture
2. Visual Prison
3. I'll Be With You
4. Victim of the System
5. Walk Away
6. Stand in Line
7. Countdown to the Revolution
8. Screaming Symphony
9. Burning
10. Lost in the Rain
11. For Your Love
12. Over the Rainbow
13. Warrior
14. Rat Race*
15. Meet the Band
16. The King Is Rising
17. Power of Love-Acoustic**bonus tracks

The Special Edition re-issue of "Live! Fast! Loud!" is a FAN CLUB ONLY pressing and although it IS approved by the band, it is NOT part of theirofficial discography.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Michael Harris Interview

Welcome to 2007! A year where you will see Baroque & Roll get bigger with more frequent updates so be sure to add us to your bookmarks.

To kick of the new year is our first interview of the year, the "as promised" interview with Michael Harris. If you have not yet checked out Michael's stunning new release "Orchestrate" don't hesitate to do so.

Michael, many thanks for agreeing to this interview, May I kick it off by congratulating you on “Orchestrate”, its absolutely fantastic.

Much thanks!

When did the initial seed to do an album of neo-orchestral metal come to you?

I guess around 2 years ago I decided to compose a whole neo classical record, as I’ve always loved the genre and have written a lot of that style in the past from record to record. As the record developed, I realized “neo-orchestral” was a more accurate term for what I was doing than “neo-classical”.

How long did that vision take to materialise into the work of art that is ‘Orchestrate’?

I had some material already demo’d, so that helped a bit. Then the bulk of the record was written I guess within about a year. From start to release, it seems I’m usually looking at 2 years or more for my records. That’s what I feel it takes to get it right.

The album reflects the sound that I hear in my head when I think of a guitar with an orchestra in this setting perfectly. How was the music written?

My composing process can get quite ugly. If I get lucky, a song might flow smoothly from one part to another in my mind, but many songs are the result of fitting parts together that have been written at different times. Either way, I start with a theme that I feel is strong enough to work around, and build it from there until oops, I have a song.

I don’t like filler parts, so if I reach an impasse, I’ll move to another song while waiting to find the perfect part for the previous one, so I might actually be working on several at the same time. Then I go back and tweak stuff. That’s where I get into real trouble.

I imagine it was pretty demanding to work through the orchestral scores and then perform these yourself. What you were looking to achieve with the orchestra side of the music?

I love the sound of an orchestra - it seems to give music more “relevance” than a smaller format. There’s just something incredibly intense about it. So I wanted to intensify my music with the orchestra and to also have a lot of sections where the drums stop and the song collapses into an orchestral break (sometimes a chamber, sometimes a full orchestra.) Choirs also pop up from time to time as well. I also love timpani (nearly all the timpani sounds were recorded on my Roland guitar synth.)

How did you go about approaching the orchestration from a mixing viewpoint?

“Orchestrate” is the first record I’ve mixed on my own, and I was fortunate to be able to work in an excellent Pro Tools room at Gary Long’s studio, Nomad, here in Dallas. I recorded the orchestration one sound at a time as opposed to keyboard chords, so that made the mix more challenging, but allowed for more flexibility and authenticity. I had my engineering mentors, Sterling Winfield & JT Longoria both help me set up the mix as well. I’ve learned a ton from those guys in the last 5 years, and a ton about mastering from Gary.

Was the album written with the lead guitar as the dominant factor with the backing worked around those lines?

Yes, most of the time it was. But it definitely worked the opposite way at times as well. I won’t hesitate to compose an idea on keyboard or guitar synth.

The first thing that hit me was that your main focus was on the melody as opposed to ramming as many techniques or scale sequences into each track; is this a fair observation?

Yes, thanks for acknowledging that. That’s exactly my objective on every record. I definitely respect any musician with exceptional technique and strive for that myself, but it’s composition that is the real challenge for me, and that’s also where I have the most fun.

I especially like the way the album tends to bloom and then contract combining certain songs as per a classical movement. Was the running order of the album intentional or it is something that just panned out this way?

I definitely spend some time toiling over the running order of all my albums. I put them in order and listen back, usually going through several attempts before I lock one in. Whether I mean to or not, I always end up with a couple of songs that sound similar on a record, so I have to separate them. Then you can’t put all the softer tunes together, so you have to separate those in a way where the record still flows. I always like my records to have a lot of dynamics.

What classical composers served as inspiration for Orchestrate?

Some of my fave master composers are Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Dukas (“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”), and Beethoven. Although there is a lot of amazing Mozart in major keys, I much prefer music written in minor keys. There’s something about dark, depressing music that makes me very happy:-) Recently, I listened to some 20th century composers, such as Allan Pettersson and Krzysztof Penderecki, as I had read about them being very dark. Their material was unique and intense, mostly in a textural, not melodic sense though. My mother recently gave me some Dvorak, which I liked a lot.

In regards to your guitar work, what was your primary aim for this aspect of the music?

I wanted to play very melodically, have a nice blend of electric, acoustic, and nylon guitars, and definitely lots of metal rhythm guitar. I wanted to have some sections where the orchestra and guitar play parallel lines, and other sections with them working against each other. Chops-wise, I wanted to play a lot of whole notes, haha.

What guitar gear did you use for this album?

The electric guitar was mostly my Hamer Scarab II, also a Brian Moore electric w/synth & piezo pickups, my Hamer Eclipse on one passage in “Octavian II” (because the mini humbuckers have less gain), my Tacoma Chief acoustic, and my Wechter Pathmaker electric nylon string. Amp-wise, I used a Line 6 POD direct and a Mesa Dual Rectifier head mic’d through and Mesa 4x12 cab.

Is the Hamer a custom instrument as I have never seen one like that anywhere!

Yes, that’s why I liked it so much when I first set eyes on it. It is a Scarab II, a model that was only made for a couple years. And it is custom, in the fact of being non tremelo. My 2 Scarabs are the only U.S.A. models to ever be non tremelo, although Hamer has started to make a non tremelo import version of the Scarab. I love what my graphic artist, John Holland ( did visually on the front cover with the Scarabs. It epitomizes the fusion of classical and metal.

What were you looking for in your guitar tone into how that would balance with the orchestration?

I went with my normal tone and didn’t have to EQ too much in the mix. In fact, I EQ’d my guits at first, but eventually went back and took most of the EQ off. As far as overall balance with the orchestra, it was a matter of tweaking over and over and fortunately having time for perspective in between. Getting a proper balance between any group of instruments is always a challenge, because it’s subjective and everyone in the room has an opinion.

Despite the heavy classical nature of the album there is also a metal element present. What do you feel it is that allows metal and classical music to fuse so well?

Pure classical music can run the gamut of dynamics, and on the heavier side of that, can be incredibly powerful, like metal is. In making “Orchestrate”, I realized just how much a drum kit can add to that power. Timpani is wonderful, but there is nothing in pure classical instrumentation that is as heavy as one single rock drumkit. Matt did a fabulous job showing how metal drumming can exploit that classical power, such as in “Battle At Storm’s Edge”.

Do you find any inspiration for Orchestrate in Yngwie’s or Uli Jon Roth’s classical/guitar albums?

Absolutely, Ulis’ solos (Scorpions; Electric Sun) are the best solos ever, epitomized by “The Sails of Charon” or “Still So Many Lives Away”. Yngwie’s Alcatrazz record and first 2 solo records were my personal faves. Blackmore and Steve Morse are also influences in fusing classical with rock, but my biggest influences in this style are the compositional influences of ELP & Kansas. You may hear that more on future releases (such as my new band, “Thought Chamber”) than you’d hear on “Orchestrate” though. Kansas is my fave U.S. band ever. There’s not even a runner up in my book. I’m not talking “Wayward Son” though, I’m talking deep cuts such as “The Pinnacle”, “Journey From MariaBronn”, “The Wall”, or “Song for America” - chiefly Kerry Livgren compositions, who is my favourite rock composer, and very classically influenced himself. Unlike most composers, I can’t see where Kerrys’ influences came from. Incredibly original. And ELP’s “Karn Evil 9” is among my favourite pieces of music ever!

Anything else you would like to add for the readers?

Thanks to those who give “Orchestrate” (or any progressive record) more than one good listen in order to absorb it properly. I hope fans of the genre will also check out my new band, “Thought Chamber” in 2007, and the new Vitalij Kuprij record, “Glacial Inferno”, which is a freakin’ AMAZING record, very neo classical, and I was honoured to play on it. Also, thanks to those who support their favourite artists by BUYING their music.

Michael many thanks for your time.

I enjoyed it immensely. Somebody please shut me up:-)

Web Links

Blog Widget by LinkWithin