RIP Cherry Sickbeat

Cherry Sickbeat of NervoChaos on stage in Tokyo in May 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

NervoChaos guitarist Cherry Sickbeat has died following a short battle with cancer.

Cherry Sickbeat stood out in a punk rock and extreme metal world dominated by men. She would often let her guitar do the talking.

She first made a name for herself as a vocalist and guitarist in the band Hellsakura. In the past couple of years of her life, her main job was as guitarist in the extreme metal band NervoChaos. She played on the band’s most recent album, the fabulous “Nyctophilia”, and she toured relentlessly around the world with the band during 2015-17.

Cherry “Sickbeat” Taketani was born in 1970 in Brazil. She was a Brazilian national of Japanese descent, her Japanese grandparents having emigrated from Japan to Brazil. She was a multi-instrumentalist, most famous for her guitar work, but she was also an accomplished vocalist, drummer and shamisen player.

Cherry, we salute you. Thank you for the music and the mayhem. RIP.

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KISS legend Gene Simmons to release “The Vault” to celebrate 50 years in rock

Gene Simmons in Tokyo in Oct 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Legendary KISS co-founder Gene Simmons is about to release the ultimate collector’s item for the serious KISS collectors out there: “The Vault”.

KISS legend Gene Simmons is always coming up with new ways of marketing himself. With “The Vault”, a massive US$2,000 limited edition box filled with music and memorabilia, he takes it a step further by hand-delivering the boxes to his fans.

Among many goodies (a Gene Simmons action figure!), “The Vault” includes no fewer than 150 never-released-before songs written and performed by Simmons. Among the many interesting recordings are one where Simmons is demoing KISS songs in the 70s with Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen.

Simmons will bring “The Vault” to you in person. He will travel the world in 2018 with “The Vault Experience”. Confirmed Japan dates for the “The Vault Experience” are 7th and 8th April 2018. It is unclear if this is to coincide with a KISS tour or not. As previously announced, Simmons will perform with his Gene Simmons Band in Japan in October 2017.

www.genesimmonsvault.com

www.facebook.com/officialgenesimmons

 

 

Preview: Chaos Assault festival with Mantar and Sigh

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Festival preview: On 22nd and 23rd September, Ward Records are putting on a mini festival with a difference. We get some really great and unique extreme bands performing over two days at a club in Shibuya, Tokyo.

German duo Mantar will finally play in Japan! The duo has developed a loyal following and are now ready to meet their Japanese fans. Mantar is a raw and sinister drums-and-guitar duo with no bassist in sight. Somehow they still manage to sound heavier than most other bands. Heavy extreme music with a punk attitude, Mantar is damp and chaotic mayhem. Their music is a melting pot of various extreme metal genres. They formed in 2013 and released their debut album, “Death by Burning”, in 2014. They have since released “Ode to the Flame” in 2016 and the EP “The Spell” in 2017. In addition to their studio work, they have been a hard-touring band and in the process they have developed a distinct signature sound that stands out from the crowd.

Sigh’s Dr. Mikannibal on stage in Tokyo in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Cult Japanese band Sigh was one of the early black metal bands in Japan. They have since evolved into an avant-garde extreme metal band. They established a reputation for greatness, weirdness and fabulous entertainment and made a name for themselves when they in the early 1990s signed a record deal with the late Euronymous of Mayhem and his label Deathlike Silence Records. They debuted in 1993 with “Scorn Defeat”. Sigh has toured internationally and here in Japan they have opened for bands such as Watain and Mayhem.

For the first evening of Chaos Assault, the two headliners will be joined by Boris (a jam-tastic Japanese genre-bending noise rock/heavy psych trio). On the second day, Mantar and Sigh will perform together with Doom (progressive fusion metal) and Church of Misery (Japanese doom/psych/stoner rock).

This is a rather promising mini festival with a fab mix of unique heavy artists far removed from the mainstream. Come and join the weird and the wonderful at this celebration of uniqueness.

Get your tickets here: https://wardrecords.com/special/CHAOSASSAULT.php

News: Loudness will release new album in January

Loudness on stage in Tokyo on 30th Dec 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Our favourite Japanese heavy metal band Loudness, currently on tour in Europe, will release their new studio album in January.

The follow-up to 2014’s terrific “The Sun Will Rise Again” will be called “Rise to Glory” and will be released on 26th January 2018 via Ward Records in Japan and earMUSIC internationally.

Loudness Official Facebook page

Dynazty vocalist Nils Molin officially joins Amaranthe

Nils Molin backstage in Tokyo in February 2017 while on tour with Dynazty. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Dynazty vocalist Nils Molin has become an official member of Amaranthe.

Hardly a surprise, but now Dynazty vocalist Nils Molin has officially joined Amaranthe. He joins the band as one of its three lead vocalists and replaces the band’s co-founder Jake E who departed the group earlier this year. Roppongi Rocks learnt already early this year of Amaranthe’s interest in Nils Molin’s services. When Molin was in Tokyo in February with Dynazty, he smiled when we mentioned Amaranthe to him (“we know that you know that we know”, kind of) but without revealing what was coming up.

Having earlier used Chris Adam from the band Smash Into Pieces as a stand in for Jake E, in March Amaranthe started using Nils Molin for gigs in Europe.

When Amaranthe’s Elize Ryd played in Japan with Gus G in March, she said of Molin who had then done his first few gigs with Amaranthe: “Nils is top of the list. We had fun with these gigs in Sweden. It was so much fun! He’s a cool and great guy. Thus it would be great to have him in the band. Exciting! It’s great with some new blood. He’s awesome. It sounded really great. His voice fits us really well. He can even reach the high octaves together with me. That was cool! We want him! We obviously would like to have him. We’ll see what happens. We’ll find out.” Now we have found out. Nils Molin is now a permanent member of Amaranthe. What remains unclear is his future with Dynazty. Officially it seems he will do both bands, but with the kind of schedule Amaranthe normally has, there is bound to be very little time left over for Dynazty.

www.facebook.com/amarantheband

www.amaranthe.se

Graham Bonnet Band reveals new guitarist

The new line-up of Graham Bonnet Band with new guitarist Joey Tafolla on the left.

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Graham Bonnet Band reveals Joey Tafolla as Conrado Pesinato’s replacement.

As previously reported by Roppongi Rocks, fab guitarist Conrado Pesinato recently left Graham Bonnet Band. While no official explanation has been given for Pesinato’s departure, today the band revealed who will replace him: Jag Panzer guitarist Joey Tafolla. Tafolla has released a number of solo albums via Shrapnel Records. Back in February, Tafolla was a guest with Graham Bonnet Band when they performed with Uli Jon Roth. Now he is the latest in a long row of phenomenal guitarists who have been creating terrific music with Graham Bonnet over the years.

Graham Bonnet and Conrado Pesinato in Tokyo in March 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

www.facebook.com/grahambonnetmusic

Former Amaranthe and In Flames members unite in CyHra

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E and Jesper Strömblad launch CyHra | Record deal inked, debut album and world tour coming up.

Vocalist Jake E, who recently announced his departure from Amaranthe, has teamed up with guitarist Jesper Strömblad (ex-In Flames, HammerFall) to launch a new modern metal band called CyHra. The band has signed a record deal with Spinefarm Records/Universal.

For CyHra, Jake E and Jesper Strömblad have recruited former In Flames bassist Peter Iwers and drummer Alex Landenburg, who has played with Annihilator, Bonfire, Masterplan and Stratovarius, to complete the line-up.

Jake E on stage in Tokyo in September 2016 during the Helloween/Amaranthe tour. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The band is already working on its debut album, which is expected to be released later this year. Based on the great quality of early CyHra demo recordings I’ve heard, this new band will no doubt cause a stir and get attention from both Amaranthe and In Flames fans. This is modern and melodic metal bursting with energy. These four gentlemen have some serious pedigree, but I reckon the best is yet to come for them. Once the debut album is released sometime in the autumn, CyHra plans to do extensive international touring in support of the album.

www.cyhra.comwww.facebook.com/cyhraofficial

BREAKING NEWS: Jake E officially leaves Amaranthe

Jake E on stage in Tokyo with Amaranthe in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E has decided to leave Amaranthe, the very successful melodic metal band he co-founded. “I am stepping off the Amaranthe tour bus and will go on to do new things”, says Jake in a comment to Roppongi Rocks.

Jake E and Elize Ryd on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Since 2011, Amaranthe has released four studio albums and relentlessly toured the world. Following Amaranthe’s Japan tour with Helloween in September last year, Jake E, one of the band’s three vocalists, has taken time out from the band. Smash Into PiecesChris Adam has been standing in for him during Amaranthe’s gigs in the past few months.

Jake E in Tokyo in 2014. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E in Tokyo in 2014. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

“I’ve had some fantastic seven years with Amaranthe. We have achieved success far beyond what I expected when we formed the band. I am very proud of what we have achieved with Amaranthe: creatively and commercially, in the studio and on stage in front of our great fans. Now I am stepping off the Amaranthe tour bus and will go on to do new things. I am involved with plenty of great things, both in the music space and in other creative areas,” comments Jake E exclusively to Roppongi Rocks.

Jake E has earlier announced that he will perform on stage in Sweden in March with his old band Dreamland. Recently he has spent time hosting a radio show, working on film projects and produced the debut album by Finnish band Ember Falls. Among other things. No doubt we will hear more from the multi-talented Jake E in the near future.

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2013. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2013. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

www.facebook.com/jakeeofficial

www.facebook.com/amarantheband

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Jake E on stage with Amaranthe in Tokyo in 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The Roppongi Rocks Music Awards 2016 – What rocked our world in 2016

Michael Amott of Black Earth onstage in Tokyo, 17th May 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Michael Amott of Black Earth on stage in Tokyo, 17th May 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

2016 was another year filled with great rock music. There was too much good stuff to mention here, but here are some of our favourites from the past year.

Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral in Tokyo, 9th October 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral in Tokyo, 9th October 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Extreme Metal Album of the Year

Dark Funeral “Where Shadows Forever Reign”. Lord Ahriman and his men delivered above and beyond what we were hoping for. Bordering on sensational.

Runner up: Aborted “Retrogore”

Megadeth-Dystopia

Heavy Metal Album of the Year

Megadeth “Dystopia”. Megadeth is back on top. With the arrival of Dirk Verbeuren in the band this year, who knows what the band can do on the next album?

Runner up: Moonsorrow “Jumalten Aika”

Graham Bonnet and Beth-Ami Heavenstone in Tokyo 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Graham Bonnet and Beth-Ami Heavenstone in Tokyo 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Classic Rock Album of the Year

Graham Bonnet Band “The Book”. What a comeback by the former Rainbow, Alcatrazz and MSG singer!

Runner up: Hellsingland Underground “Understanding Gravity”

New England in Kawasaki, Japan in November 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

New England in Kawasaki, Japan in November 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Live Album of the Year

New England “Live at the Regent Theatre”. Simply beautiful. The songwriting skills of John Fannon combined with four great musicians that complement each other so well creates magic.

Runner up: Motörhead “Clean Your Clock”

Napalm Death on stage in Tokyo, 5th September 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Napalm Death on stage in Tokyo, 5th September 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Gig of the Year

Napalm Death in Tokyo in September. Still quite possibly the best band in the world.

Runners up: Soilwork, New England, Michael Schenker, Exodus, Black Earth and Candlemass were among those artists who did excellent gigs in Japan in 2016.

Video of the Year

Kampfar “Tornekratt” Epic! A great song with a video to match it.

Runners up: Richie Ramone “I Fix This”, Amaranthe “That Song”

Black Earth on stage in Tokyo, 17th May 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Black Earth on stage in Tokyo, 17th May 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Reunion of the Year

Black Earth – following 2015’s reunion of the original Arch Enemy line-up for a few songs at Loud Park, Michael Amott returned to Japan for a full-blown Black Earth tour.

Runners up: Michael Schenker Fest (a line-up of pure MSG royalty) and Dokken (yes, the much-hyped Japanese reunion tour for Dokken’s classic line-up was actually much better than expected)

Mikkey Dee on stage at Loud Park with Scorpions. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Mikkey Dee on stage at Loud Park with Scorpions. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Energy Injections of the Year

Drummers Mikkey Dee to Scorpions and Dirk Verbeuren to Megadeth! Simply wow! Very smart recruitment decisions.

Dirk Verbeuren in Tokyo. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Dirk Verbeuren in Tokyo in 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Newcomers of the Year

Open Surgery: Great debut album from this Swedish death metal band.

Eradikal Insane: Having previously self-released their debut album, 2016 saw the French extreme metal band toured Europe and sign a management deal with Alpha Omega.

Unearthed Elf: An epic fantasy power doom metal project by a sick American elf.

Vindland: Melodic pagan black metal from France.

Congrats to the winners and apologies for all the great music from 2016 that we’ve forgot to mention here. Now on to 2017! Cheers!

Graham Bonnet Band and Alcatrazz to tour Japan in 2017

Graham Bonnet Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Graham Bonnet on stage in Tokyo in June 2015. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

It’s been confirmed! Graham Bonnet Band will tour Japan in 2017 and the Japanese fans will get a special Alcatrazz encore during the tour.bonnet-flyer

In 2015, an early version of the Graham Bonnet Band toured Japan as opening act for Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock. A few months ago, Graham Bonnet was back in Japan as one of the guest vocalists during the Japanese Michael Schenker Fest tour. In the spring of 2017, we will finally get the now-finalised Graham Bonnet Band line-up on stage in Japan.

The Japan tour will consist of three gigs in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo in mid-March. Graham Bonnet Band – Graham Bonnet (vocals), Beth-Ami Heavenstone (bass), Conrado Pesinato (guitar), Jimmy Waldo (keyboards) and Mark Zonder (drums) – will perform a full set and as a treat, they will be joined by bassist Gary Shea for a special Alcatrazz encore. While Shea and Waldo are on a Japan tour right now with their New England band, the planned shows with Bonnet in March will be the first time since 1984 that the three founding members of Alcatrazz will perform together in Japan. This will be special and not something you want to miss. Get your tickets now: www.ameblo.jp/tokyoonkyorock

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