EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ROB ROCK Talks About the New Impellitteri Album, His Solo Career, and His Faith

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We caught up with Rob Rock recently and he had a lot to say about the new Impellitteri album, his solo career and his faith.

The Pure Metal Fan: What made you want to become a musician?

Rob Rock: I think growing up in a musical family played a big part in what direction I went in. Loving rock and roll on the radio and having my brother’s band rehearsing in the basement really cemented my love for music. Plus the fact that I was always encouraged to chase my dreams was fuel for the fire.

TPMF: Who are your major influences?

RR: Foreigner, Styx, Bad Co., Uriah Heep, and Grand Funk Railroad were my earliest influences. I started as a drummer who also sang leads and backing vocals. As a singer, Lou Gramm and Dio were my favorite vocalists, and Queen, Judas Priest, and Boston were also some of my favorite groups.

TPMF: How did you meet Chris and when did you start working with him?

RR: I met Chris at a gig. My band was opening up for the Gregg Allman Band and Chris was there. After the show he introduced himself and told me that we needed to play together. He came down to the club the next day and we jammed and he was right. Soon after he joined my band and we started writing songs and performing originals and cover songs together.

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TPMF: Who writes the songs for Impellitteri?

RR: Chris is the driving force for the songs but the whole band is involved, especially writing our own parts. Chris is the catalyst for the songs, demo-ing up song ideas and passing them around to the band. Everyone adds their parts to the song and we put it all together. Chris and I work together offering suggestions on the title and melody framework and I take it from there as far as the lyrics go.

TPMF: Could you briefly describe the music-making process?

RR: First we demo-up the songs and decide which ones are keepers and which songs work well together to create an album. Then the band will go in the studio and record the songs live, concentrating on the drums. From there we each do our parts and once we have all the tracks complete it goes to mixing and mastering.

“LOL…that was kind of scary actually…I had my reservations about messing with such a classic.”

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TPMF: Who came up with the ‘beasts and monsters’ theme for The Nature of the Beast?

RR: Chris had the original thoughts on the title and from there is just kind of evolved into a theme. It was not intentional from the start but naturally occurred during the writing process. Even though there is no song with that title, I reference the theme in several songs which became a thread that kind of runs through the album.

TPMF: What was it like doing a metal version of The Phantom of the Opera?

RR: LOL…that was kind of scary actually…I had my reservations about messing with such a classic. When I heard the demo, I was floored by Chris’s take on it. Wow, how is this going to go over? Then I had to step up to the plate and deliver vocally. Chris and I discussed that we would demo it and see what the result was, and make sure we were happy with it. I think it is a unique take on the song for sure, and hopefully we will surprise a lot of people.

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TPMF: Is it just me, or does Masquerade sound a lot like Randy Rhoads era Ozzy? Was this intentional?

RR: Yea, I could hear that! It was a riff Chris was playing around with when we were practicing for the tour after the Venom album was released. It sounded great on the demo so we went with it. Of course the #metoo movement was beginning to get a lot of exposure and attention so I just had to comment on it.

TPMF: Does the verse, “Come to me, and I’ll set your spirit free” on Kill the Beast refer to Jesus Christ? And what is the overall theme on the song?

RR: There are some lyrical double meanings throughout the album and the answer to your question is yes. The theme is about dark influences and spiritual warfare in the world. The song “Man of War” is a tribute to the Armed Forces but also has an underlying spiritual theme to it.

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TPMF: Which songs do you like the most off the new album?

RR: That depends on which day you ask me…I go through phases where I like certain songs more, and then I’ll find myself gravitating towards other songs as well, so it’s really hard to say. I like all of them actually… this album has a lot of depth once you sink into it.

“I find it really hard to exist in a box or a label that has been created by others.”

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TPMF: What has been Impellitteri’s biggest challenge as a band?

RR: I think finding the right touring situation has been a challenge. We, to this day, are still seeking a great way to reach the fans that makes sense to everyone involved. We do some huge shows in Asia and Europe and want to do that here in the States as well, but we need to get the promoters on board to open the doors for good touring options.

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TPMF: It’s a well known fact that Impellitteri isn’t a Christian band, but do you consider yourself a Christian musician?

RR: I find it really hard to exist in a box or a label that has been created by others. I’m not sure that one label means the exact same thing to everyone. I know I’m a Christian, and I know that I’m a musician.

TPMF: How big of a role has your faith played in your songwriting, and your life in general?

RR: When I write lyrics, I write from my personal point of view, or from the point of view from the subject of the song, or sometimes from the viewpoint of others. I don’t lock myself in any box. I just try to do what’s best for each song and not compromise my beliefs in the process.

My faith is reflected in my songwriting and I also vary my approach to lyrics with the situation I am writing in. It is not always blatant. Sometimes my lyrics are commentary observations of the world around us. My faith plays a huge roll in my life and is always present in creating music and lyrics.

TPMF: It’s been over 11 years since your last solo album, when can we expect a new one?

RR: I’ve been continually asked about the next RR album. I am currently writing songs with several friends and hope to get on a roll to put together some demos in the near future. I’m not sure when it will all come together, but I am hoping that 2019 will be a good year to start recording.

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TPMF: Any parting words?

RR: Well, I hope everyone will support the Impellitteri band and buy a CD or download. Hopefully the chance to see us live and get a T-shirt will come together soon, too.

The band seems to have a lot of momentum with the release of “The Nature of the Beast”.

We are working on getting the band out there and hope to tour soon and do some concerts and some more festival shows all over the world.

I would like to thank the fans and friends and supporters who have stayed with us and supported us all along this ride. It’s amazing that our metal family is still so strong!

Thank you, and God bless you all.

You can purchase your copy of The Nature of the Beast from Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and other fine retailers.

 

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Album Review: Narnia — Narnia

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So…it’s been HOW long since the last Narnia studio album with Christian Liljegren on lead vocals? Ten years, you say? Has it really been that long? It has been a long time but this album, dare I say, is worth the wait. I’m not even really sure where to start with this review, but, here goes.

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The Narnia faithful will not be disappointed with this record. With this self-titled effort, Narnia returns to it’s neoclassical power metal roots. There is something on this album for fans of all of Narnia’s various sound/style iterations (sans Course of a Generation). There’s a little Long Live the King here, and a little Enter the Gate there. But although the band stays true to it’s sonic roots, there’s plenty of musical evolution to keep this effort sounding fresh. CJ Grimmark would probably disagree, but I find the album to be about half classic Narnia and half a progression towards a newer sound. Let’s break it down track by track:

The opener, Reaching for the Top, is a high energy track in the tradition of Inner Sanctum from the Desert Land album. I think it’s pretty much the perfect opening track for a comeback album. The catchy riff coupled with a tasty guitar solo is sure to please.

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Next, we’re hit with I Still Believe, the new People of the Blood Red Cross, if you will. This tune should have you doing a jig with it’s Irish-sounding intro. It then kicks into an up-tempo rhythm leading to a catchy chorus and then into possibly the fastest guitar solo ever recorded by Grimmark. I find the solo break to be particularly satisfying in it’s entirety. CJ’s use of an entirely different rhythm behind the guitar solo is brilliant. I haven’t noticed that with most other artists. This is one of the best tracks on the album.

In spot number three, we find On the Highest Mountain (possibly my favorite song, well, because…you’ll just have to read the liner notes). This song sounds like it would fit nicely in the LLTK era, yet still feels fresh with it’s time changes and booming chorus. Clearly, the last half of the song is my favorite (liner notes…). CJ solos through the last third of the song, a la Star Over Bethlehem from the Japanese version of LLTK. In a word, it’s down right SHREDTASTIC!

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Things really slow down with Thank You. The first time I heard it, it seemed out of place. Let’s just say it’s not your typical Narnia tune. After several listens, I really started to like it. It’s actually quite refreshing. A quiet beginning builds to some fine soloing by mister Grimmark. All in all, a somewhat experimental track that actually works.

Up next, One Way to the Promised Land kicks things back up to full-rocking mode. This one is a fave for sure, with it’s driving rhythm and fascinating keyboard/guitar solo. Probably among my top three favorite songs on the album.

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We now arrive at Messengers. The second of two singles released just a few days ago (Reaching for the Top being the first), this is my pick for the best radio song on the record. The animated video for this tune is pretty darn cool. Be sure to check it out at the link below. Solid track in the best Narnia tradition.

Who do You Follow? is another rockin’ gem with some interesting time changes. “Priesthood of Sweden your castles are burning…” is the stand-out lyric. There’s another rippin’ guitar solo, as expected. overall a great tune.

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In the eighth spot we find Moving On, another high-tempo scorcher to crank up until just before it’s painful. I really dig the chord progression on the verse — it’s fresh and tasty. Yet another impressive guitar solo from my favorite shred-master is here to enjoy. Another great track.

Last, and certainly not least, is Set the World on Fire. This is my favorite song, without a doubt. Artists often bury the weakest tracks deep on the B side, but that’s not the case here. In my opinion, this is one of the most killer tunes on the album, especially riff-wise. The snare and bass drums kick it off like a gun at a sprint event. Grimmark is doing so much with the rhythm guitar that you have to pay very close attention to catch it all. The guitar solo and solo break are the best on the album, especially the harmony solo portion. This track ends the album with an even bigger bang than RFTT opens it with.

The bottom line: This is arguably the BEST Narnia album to date. It’s a monumental task to attempt to topple the likes of LLTK and DL, but the boys from Sweden just may have done it. From top-notch mixing and mastering to CJ Grimmark’s masterful production skills, this may in fact be the perfect Narnia record.

Score: 9.5/10

The album is available worldwide on September 16th.

Check out the band here: http://www.narniatheband.com

EXCLUSIVE: George Ochoa Discusses Upcoming Worldview Album, New Lead Vocalist

By: Martin Simson, Editor

The Pure Metal Fan had the privilege of visiting with George Ochoa in his southern California studio this past Friday and we learned some exciting things about the new Worldview album.

We had the opportunity to hear two of the new tracks, and the experience left us very excited. If these two songs are any indication, this record may top the first.

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“The new Worldview album is going to have the same high-caliber as the first one, if not higher…”, says Ochoa.

The new lead vocalist (announcement coming soon) sounds amazing. Deep lows and soaring highs, filling both tracks with resonating verses and catchy choruses. Distinctively different vocal approach than the first album (featuring Rey Parra), but not entirely unfamiliar.

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George Ochoa in his southern California recording studio

George continues, “We’ll be releasing a music video in the next month-and-a-half; probably a lyric video.”

Based on just these two songs, this record should easily top The Chosen Few — definitely a power/progressive metal album worthy of getting excited about!

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George is projecting a November 2018 release date.

#worldviewmetal #georgereneochoa #heavymetal #metal #hardrock #christianmetal #christianhardrock

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Album Review: Narnia — We Still Believe (Made in Brazil)

By: Martin Simson, Editor

This is Narnia’s second live album, and let me tell you, it’s a good one.

I won’t be doing a track by track break-down in this review only because it’s a live album with previously released material.

My overall impression is that this record sounds HUGE. Especially if you turn it up until just before it’s painful. Some of the songs sound even better than the original studio recordings, particularly the earlier material. CJ Grimmark has changed his guitar attack on several songs, making them sound even better, if that’s even possible.

Christian’s vocals sound strong and clear, and the overall production is excellent. Each musician is easily heard in the mix. The obligatory drum solo (which Andreas NAILS) and guitar solo do not disappoint. CJ’s solo is saturated with feeling, emotion and just enough speed to satisfy any shred fan.

The stand-out tracks are Shelter Through the Pain, Messengers, No More Shadows from the Past, The Awakening and Living Water.

The mix and production couldn’t be better. This is a live disc that will satisfy even the harshest critics of live albums. This is definitely a must-have for power metal fans of all breeds.

Score: 4.5/5

Track listing:

  • 01 – Inner Sanctum
  • 02 – The Mission
  • 03 – Reaching For The Top
  • 04 – Shelter Through The Pain
  • 05 – No More Shadows From The Past
  • 06 – I Still Believe
  • 07 – Messengers
  • 08 – Drum Solo
  • 09 – Guitar Solo
  • 10 – The Awakening
  • 11 – Long Live The King
  • 12 – Into This Game
  • 13 – Living Water

Line up:

  • Christian Liljegren – Vocals
  • CJ Grimmark – Guitar, vocals
  • Andreas Johansson – Drums
  • Martin Härenstam – Keyboards
  • Jonatan Samuelsson – Bass, vocals

You can pre-order your copy here: http://narniatheband.com/campaign-we-still-believe-made-in-brazil/

Chris Impellitteri Excited about Feedback from “The Nature of the Beast”

Chris Impellitteri is pleased by industry feedback about Impellitteri’s forthcoming album The Nature of the Beast.

Read on:

Further Details Regarding Oz Fox’s Condition

More information about Oz Fox’s status.

“While performing on stage in Las Vegas, on August 12th, 2018 at approximately 12:30 am Oz Fox had a seizure on stage.  He was taken to the hospital to stabilize his vitals and was given a CAT scan & MRI.  Results showed that he had 2 masses in his head, one by his ear and the other in the back of his brain. The next day he was given a spinal tap. Results stated he had no infections in his spine, so now Oz will go under testing for brain surgery biopsies.”

Please continue to pray for Oz, Annie and their families.

Update on Oz Fox

Update on Oz Fox from Annie Lobert’s Facebook page:

“Update on Oz Fox: Spinal tap results in: No infection, but Oz needs a procedure for biopsies on his brain.

Not going to lie…this has messed me up! But yesterday I was reminded of 2 Cronicles 20 & the story of king Jehoshaphat—how the enemy was coming against him fierce! The attack upon them was serious & looked like in the natural they would surely lose…but here is what God said:

“Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

You will not need to fight this battle…POSITION yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, oh Judah & Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.

And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord”

The story goes that king ordered the people to sing and worship as they headed out to battle:

“Praise the Lord, His mercy endures forever!”

And when they started singing, God brought ambushes against the enemies and they were DEFEATED.

So here is what I’m asking all of you to do—believe that God is good—worship with us & pray with us as we head into this battle.

We trust God no matter what. This is how we fight our battles—it may look like we’re surrounded but God is surrounding us.

Oz says he just wants to get home & play his guitar—get better & get back on stage. Oh and make some pancakes. Lols!

We sincerely love you all and thank you for standing in the gap!”

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Annie Lobert Provides an Update on Oz Fox

Annie Lobert shares an update on Oz Fox’s condition:

“Spinal tap right now as we speak for Oz Fox prayers appreciated! Thank you all so much for your support. Updates coming soon of progress with tests.”

Please keep Oz and his family in prayer. We’ll continue to provide updates as they become available.

Official Statement from Stryper regarding Oz Fox

Stryper provided the following update:

Our dear friend and lead-guitarist Oz Fox fell ill Saturday night while performing in Las Vegas with a side project that he sometimes plays in when not touring with Stryper. Oz suffered a seizure causing a fall on stage. After performing an MRI, doctors discovered an area of concern near his brain which they are now running a biopsy on. The doctors have instructed him not to drive or fly for 90 days. No additional information is available at this time. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and we will communicate additional information as it becomes available. 

The logistics and options for current tour dates are being discussed with the respective promoters. U.S. tour dates will play as scheduled and in anticipation of a full recovery will include Oz Fox. The upcoming Australian tour will be performed as a trio (with the blessing of Oz), and will include Michael Sweet, Robert Sweet, and Perry Richardson. For our fans in Japan, please await an announcement from the concert promoter there as to the plans for the Japan tour.

New information will first be communicated via Stryper.com and Stryper’s official Facebook page.”