may 2012

Guitarists Jonathan Donais and Matt Bachand give us the lowdown on their new album and their new B.C. Rich signature guitars, as well as what it’s like to navigate the shark-infested waters of the music world.

With a less-than-booming music industry and the economical realities imposed on bands today, many have no choice but to cut corners during the recording process. Shadows Fall lead guitarist Jonathan Donais notes that with the steep decline in record label budgets, “a lot of bands are putting out records a lot faster than they used to, and you can definitely see that it’s getting watered down, like, ‘I heard this before already.’” It may have surprised some industry insiders when Shadows Fall actually took a year off from the road to write and record Fire From the Sky, their seventh studio release. This was not an easy decision for the group. “You used to be able to sit back and write for as long as you needed, and be able to pay your bills,” says Donais. “You can’t do that anymore. You have to just get right back on the road to keep making money.” But the band refused to compromise on quality. “We’re not quick writers; we’re not one of those bands that come in with 20 or 30 songs. We concentrate on trying to get 10 or 11 really strong songs and then we’ll have one or two left over, if we’re lucky, ” explains Donais. While some bands use spare time together on the road to write, he says that this would have stifled Shadows Fall’s creative juices and ability to jam as a band on tour. “We don’t write on the road—we won’t even think about writing a record until that tour cycle is over. It keeps you excited to write again because you haven’t done it for so long.”

Shadows Fall went to great lengths to secure mega-producer Adam Dutkiewicz’s services for the recording. Dutkiewicz produced Shadows’ 1997 debut, Somber Eyes to the Sky, and soon after, both Shadows and Dutkiewicz’s band, Killswitch Engage, exploded on the scene, ushering in the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement and injecting new life into the moribund metal landscape. Shadows Fall had wanted to get Dutkiewicz back in the producer’s chair for years, but scheduling conflicts continually thwarted these plans as Dutkiewicz became one of the most in-demand producers in the metal scene, having shaped the sound of influential artists like The Devil Wears Prada and As I Lay Dying, among many others. When Dutkiewicz hired Shadows Fall’s rhythm guitarist, Matt Bachand, in 2011 to fill in on bass for his project, Times of Grace, they were finally able to sync their schedules so that Dutkiewicz could produce Fire From the Sky. From all accounts, it appears the band’s valiant efforts have paid off. Dutkiewicz pushed the band to its limits and many consider Fire From the Sky to be the band’s strongest effort to date.

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Bogner's beastliest amp is made miniature—and still slays.

Excellent sounds in a portable and very affordably priced package.

A footswitchable clean channel and onboard reverb would make it perfect.

$329

Bogner Ecstasy Mini
bogneramplification.com

4.5
5
4.5
4.5

The original Bogner Ecstasy, released in 1992, is iconic in heavy rock circles. Though it was popularized and preferred by rock and metal artists (Steve Vai and Brad Whitford were among famous users), its ability to move from heavy Brit distortion to Fender-like near-clean tones made it appealing beyond hard-edged circles. Even notorious tone scientist Eric Johnson was enamored with its capabilities.

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Rig Rundown: IDLES

See how chaotic co-pilots Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan bring five pedalboards to mutilate, mangle, and mask their guitars into bass, synth, hip-hop beats, raging elephant sounds, and whatever “genk” is.

Do you hear that thunder? That’s the sound of strength in numbers. Specifically, it's the sound of four 100-watt stacks. (Actually, one is a 200-watt bass tube head.) IDLES’ guitarists Mark Bowen and Lee Kiernan finally have the firepower to match their fury. (Original members singer/lyricist Joe Talbot, drummer Jon Beavis, and bassist Adam Devonshire fill out the band. Kiernan took over for guitarist Andy Stewart after 2015 EP Meat was released.)

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