Remembering Dio

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A Belsito article on the subject of Ronnie James Dio has been dusted off and republished on the Dog Blog – the website of the Prairie Dog magazine. The article was republished after the sad news of the passing of metal legend Ronnie James Dio over the weekend.  To read the Belsito-penned article, click here. The artwork of RJD was created by former Prairie Dog art director Nigel Hood and stolen directly from the Dog Blog – so go check them out.

Monday, May 17th, 2010 by MBM Staff Continue Reading

  Stunning Debut From Local Metal Band

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(Published Winter 2008 – The Fresh Magazine)

The old saying goes, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” In the case of Sault Ste. Marie’s Gates of Winter, the opposite is true. From Geoffrey Rousselot’s spectacular artwork that graces the cover of Lux Aeterna to the album’s final track “Omega”, Gates of Winter have created a lonely, metal masterpiece that finds a level of grace and class unheard of in most independent metal releases. It becomes immediately clear that no element of this 49-minute album, wasn’t carefully considered.

Although best defined as epic symphonic or progressive metal, Lux Aeterna showcases a variety of genres and influences buried in every track. Refined and complex, there are certainly elements of the obvious comparators, Symphony X or Paradise Lost, but there are also unexpected goth or even classical turns throughout the songs. The CD opener “Life Force Rapture” lays down the gauntlet, sending out the message that this is not a second-tier band riding the coattails of their European heroes, but rather a creative force that could stand toe-to-toe with many of their influences. In the tradition of great European epic metal, these Canadian musicians created a minimasterpiece in “Burning Kingdom,” a trilogy. “I: A Dark Affliction,” the opening movement of the mini-epic, provides one of the album’s most ethereal, emotional moments as Lee Maines’ amazing pipes are provided the brilliant female counterpoint of guest vocalist Jody Lynn Bedard. Throughout Lux Aeterna, Maines showcases his confident and versatile voice alternating between the rich lower range of Queensryche’s Geoff Tate and the growl of Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt, adding with unexpected goth moments worthy of Sisters of Mercy’s Andrew Eldritch. His command of his role provides a centrepoint of the album, a launching point for the immensly talented musicians surrounding him. Brian Holmes’ dark keyboard playing plays a  pivotal role in the orchestral and atmospheric development of many of the tracks, where he expertly slips in and out of the searing guitar riffs. Like a game of cat and mouse, Holmes and lead guitarist Bryan Belleau, provide the movement and flow of the songs, bringing them to their highest moments. Steve Angelo Furgiuele on bass, puts in a non-stop stellar performance throughout the album, filling in the bottom end with low frequency spurts and stops, patterns and punctuation, occasionally taking the centre-focus of a song like “Lux Aeterna” (part of the Burning Kingdom suite). The highlight of the CD is “The Wildwood Pariah,” a beautiful and haunting track that shows off the maturity of this metal band. A tale worthy of Nick Cave, the song focuses on the luring of a child into the woods by a pariah, as seen from the perspective of both characters.

The gently interwined sound of the guitar and the vocal whispers could send shivers up any listener’s back. Throughout the song, Maines once again shows off his vocal dexterity in clearly defining both personas, expertly putting the appropriate emotion into each of the character’s vocal delivery. Lux Aeterna is clearly one of the best albums to come out of Canada’s north in a very long time.

With its beautiful production, Gates of Winter have created a meticulously crafted, smart and powerful metal debut.

Check out www.gatesofwinter.com for more information about Gates Of Winter and Lux Aeterna.

Saturday, December 27th, 2008 by MBM Staff Continue Reading

  Signs of the Musical Apocalypse (Pt. 2)

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(Published Summer 2008 – Fresh Magazine) 

Bringing readers evidence from the wasteland that all is not well in the world of mainstream music.

Evidence #2: The Death of Indie or Dolly Parton Enters the Fray

I have recently heard the phrase “the new indie” being thrown around in the music media. Usually when the word “new” is added to a phrase, there is a problem being hidden or something that people would rather be forgotten.

In the underground music scene, being “indie” has always been considered hip. Being outside the mainstream was seen as a positive quality, a defiant stance and the ultimate FU to society and “the man”. With the death of traditional music mediums and formats, underscored by plummeting sales, the dismantling of the music industry made the impossible happen: indie developed mainstream commercial value. In the past few years, independent music has been selling on a bigger scale than it ever did historically. The mainstream music buyer has been diversifying, finding their own music by scouring the Internet for music to call their own. Although brief, the Internet played the role of leveler of the playing field. The Internet made indie cool to mainstream audiences… for a while.

Then the inevitable happened. Signed mainstream label acts wanted a bit of the action. They wanted to be indie again (or in some cases for the first time). Like returning to the mother’s womb, bands that once sold millions of albums have been shunning the life given to them by mainstream labels. They have been adopting the indie uniform, conveniently forgetting the millions in advertising dollars that were spent making them famous. There were some early comers to the indie conversion: Prince and Sloan worked the indie angle in a somewhat more authentic and organic way. Unfortunately, in the past year, it has become profitable and trendy for millionaire rock stars to avert their gaze from the limelight, deny their corporate pedigree, and rescind their memberships to the major label poolside club.

Case in point: Radiohead. 90s critical darlings and million-selling major label players – declared independence. Not only did the band spin their labeled past as tortured and constrained by record execs, crying lack of creative freedom, they even offered their music at a price of the buyer’s choice (including free). Let it go on record that Radiohead have never said how much they made through this route, which has been estimated by some as considerable. And let’s not forget that the band’s best days are still linked to The Bends or OK Computer – major label releases. These are the albums that they will be remembered for, whether they like it or not. Remember the million dollar videos? Of course you do. The millions spent on the band bringing them to the top of their game – conveniently forgotten.

Now it seems that everyone has decided to go indie. From hair metal like Whitesnake to… here it is… Dolly Parton. Yes, Dolly is now freed from the shackles of her label, giving her the freedom to spread her wings and enjoy all the creative magic that indie brings. Poor Dolly: the wigs, the cleavage, the makeup, and all the past glory – all washed away in the indie glow. Must have been hard to spend forty years plus as a label prisoner. Good thing she is going indie to finally make the CD she always wanted, showing off her newfound creative freedom. Backwoods Barbie, her first indie release, was released in February of this year, reaching #2 on the country charts and #17 on Billboard 200 albums chart – the highest release position of her career. The indie approach has proven itself a mainstream moneymaker.

As country music’s Top 10 champion, Dolly Parton undoubtedly has talent. But when she becomes “indie”, all is clearly not well in the world of music. Is there any doubt as to why the “new indie” label is being used? I think not.

Bring on the musical apocalypse. /cb

“Like returning to the mother’s womb, bands that once sold millions of albums have been shunning the life given to them by mainstream labels.”

Friday, June 27th, 2008 by MBM Staff Continue Reading

  Signs of the Musical Apocalypse (Pt. 1)

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 (Published Winter 2008 – The Fresh Magazine) 

Evidence #1: Gene Simmons Sex Tape: Caught in the Act

We all new it would eventually happen. All of us, that is, except Gene himself. The recent leak of the Gene Simmons (Kiss) sex tape should not be surprising to most music followers, who have witnessed the long slow descent of this 70s rock god into an embarrassing celebrity imbecile.

For a generation, Simmons and his crew of grease-painted merry men, imprinted their personas and music on the impressionable brains of their fans at an early age. Kiss’ happily brainwashed gaggle of followers has compulsively spent billions of dollars supporting their heroes – even if deep inside they knew better.When Simmons used to open his mouth, it was only his freakish tongue that came out. In recent years, it has become an endless flurry of his misogynistic theories on women, idiotic boasting about wealth and power, as well as hair-brained opinions on everything from car washes to sliced bread. Just when you think it couldn’t get worse, he speaks. But it has brought him increasing wealth and fame.At least during the 70s and early 80s, Simmons still showed some degree of creative spark and retained some mystery. There were no video channels, no DVDs (or even VHS), no Entertainment Tonight, no Internet, no Celebrity Apprentice, no Family Jewels to expose his persona. Just the fans’ imagination. Those were the days.

With the recent “leak” of the sex tape, unfortunately nothing is left to the imagination.For the first time in a long while, Simmons isn’t going to simply turn a profit, but rather fans’ stomachs. His uninspired romp with Frank’s Energy Drink spokesmodel “Elsa” – captured for all who care to see it – will hopefully unmask Simmons, clearly showing a middle-aged man with a bad helmet of hair, disconnected from reality, going through stereotypical motions of what he believes a big rock star is supposed to do.

In the era of endless technology and limited celebrity privacy, Simmons’ extreme hubris has once again led him to great folly…a nail in the “Kiss® Kasket” so to speak.The aforementioned video will hopefully shut the demon up for at least a little while, so fans can dig deep into the foggy recesses of their minds to see if they can recall what they once actually enjoyed about this “musician”. After years of his seemingly unending success, where we have had to tolerate Simmons boasting about his sexual prowess, this latest sex tape revelation might actually prove that the tongue is indeed mightier than the sword. Pun intended.

Bring on the musical apocalypse.

Sunday, January 27th, 2008 by MBM Staff Continue Reading

  Picking the Electronic Fields

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(Published Winter 2008 – The Fresh Magazine)

We scour the Internet to find the best in upand – coming Canadian independent music for you. So sit back, relax and let us do the work for you. All you have to do is enjoy

Plants and Animals

QUICK HITS:

Who: Plants and Animals – Originally known for an acoustic instrumental roots sound, Plants and Animals have just released their full-length debut on Secret City Records that shows some indie muscle with a 70s vibe that places them in an exciting new realm.

What: Song pick: Mellow indie rock with a cool vibe. Check out “Bye, Bye, Bye”, perfect piano-based, alt-pop song is at once uplifting and groovy – in a very Canadian way. Takes back a song title that was once associated with horrible boy band purgatory – and gives it so much more.

Where: From Montreal, Quebec

Why: This 3-piece, rock outfit have been making in-roads into key indie circles and their music is cool.

When: New CD Parc Avenue was released February 26

Check out Plants and Animals and their songs at: http://www.myspace.com/plantsandanimals

Sunday, January 27th, 2008 by MBM Staff Continue Reading

  "Buy an umbrella you cheap bitch"

Or how The Rocky Horror Picture Show started

By Chris Belsito
Entertainment Staff, The Carillon (Published Oct 24, 1996)

“Whatever happened to Fay Wray?” asks Frank N’ Furter. “She went apeshit,” responds the crowd. Apparently, so did the audiences at early showings of the musical production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. To this day, dedicated masses return to showings of what has become a cult film to get their yearly matting of wet rice in hair. How did all this begin? Just ask the audience. As the movie begins and the huge bright red lips enter the screen, the audience yells, “And God said, ‘Let there be lips!’” That’s all there is to it. Now twenty years later, the lips are still going strong.

I remember one evening at the local billiard hall pumping quarters into the jukebox during a game with a few gentlemen

Thursday, October 24th, 1996 by MBM Staff Continue Reading