Metal, Non-Squitur - posted on December 22, 2013 by

Cwn Annwn Reflects On A Year’s Worth Of Holiday Blessings

It was a rough year for Minnesota metal bands. We lost a lot of venues, including the venerable Station 4. The opportunities for local metal bands have shrunk considerably. The genre has further fractured into sub-genres that refuse to support each other. Bands continued to get their gear ripped off at an alarming rate. By any standard, 2013 will not go down in the books as a banner year for Minnesota metal.

But despite this, we still found a lot of reasons to smile this year. There are plenty of signs that Minnesota metal isn’t going anywhere soon, and beyond, there’s still a lot of awesomeness in the world to celebrate.

As the holidays are close at hand, we took a look back at a year’s worth of blessings. Here’s what we’re thankful for.

There’s a lot of people working hard to promote the Minnesota metal scene

Ritual Madness Podcast
Ritual Madness Podcast
Undead Scene
Undead Scene
SlayerMike Productions

There are still a lot of cool clubs having metal shows

Club Underground 1

Yes Virginia, Bands *Can* Get Stolen Gear Back


The heart of gold beating underneath a crusty exterior


Axl Rose’s desire for reggae


This man became a part of our lives, and we never looked back


That I can rock facial hair


Remembering that adversity is always a matter of perspective


Despite the fears of others, gay marriage did not cause society to break down


The world finally recognized our style

Cwn Annwn Style

Everything About Kids Interview Bands


In the distance, I can hear the shithawks returning

The Shithawks Are Returning


Kittehs 2

The future of local leadership has never looked brighter


The internet enables us to pursue our passions


We have talented people who are working hard to bring our new music to life


We have so many fans who listen to us, love us and tell others about us. Without you, we don’t do this


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Metal - posted on December 15, 2013 by

The Five Best Vocalists In Heavy Metal

The Five Best Vocalists In Heavy Metal
If there’s one element of metal music that’s criminally undervalued, it’s the vocals. After all, metal bands can still be iconic even if their singer is pedestrian (cue to Tom Araya and Kerry King slowly nodding).

A superior vocalist, however, is often the key ingredient that allows metal bands to transcend their sub-genre and cultivate widespread appeal.

Unlike other genres, a metal vocalist must marry technical precision with an aggression that complements machine-gun rhythms and blistering guitars. Mastery of this convention is often the difference between a band’s fame and anonymity.

Over the past four decades, metal has seen innumerable talented vocalists come and go. In my opinion, here are the best:

Phil Anselmo

Who was the most important member of Pantera? Here’s a hint – it wasn’t anybody whose last name was “Abbott”.

Okay, stating it in this manner is somewhat unfair as Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul are as gigantic of figures in the genre as you can be. I actually believe that, as a lead player, Dimebag is somewhat underrated – the man is only one plane below Eddie Van Halen.

But for all the greatness of the brothers Abbott, it’s easy to forget that this band toiled in absolute obscurity for four albums prior to Cowboys From Hell. Moreover, although it’s easy to forget due to his tragic on-stage demise, Dimebag’s post-Pantera work (Damageplan) was hard to describe as anything greater than mediocre both commercially and artistically.

It was the presence of Phil Anselmo that propelled Pantera to its five-year, post-Black album run as the undisputed heavyweight metal champions of the world. From 1994 though 1998, Pantera seized the crown that was abdicated following a string of near-comical missteps from the genre’s leaders (to this day, it’s almost unfathomable to note how the three year period from October 1995 through November 1998 brought us Stomp 442, The X Factor, Load, Cryptic Writings, Reload, Virtual XI, Diabolus in Musica and Volume 8: The Threat Is Real. No wonder Fred Durst’s ascent to popularity went virtually unchallenged.)

Anselmo was not a vocal gymnast a la Geoff Tate, nor did he possess the unearthly wailing abilities of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. Anselmo did, however, possess a violent bark bordering on unhinged that he blended with underrated clean vocals in a way the few singers could (and can still) match. This talent was further complemented by Anselmo’s tough-guy persona that, unlike his legions of imitators, came off as authentic rather than contrived. As Terrence Lee and Pat Lachman can attest to, Anselmo was the catalyst that transformed Dimebag and Vinnie from anonymous, regional superstars to bona fide deities.


Bruce Dickinson

While few would ever deny the greatness of Bruce Dickinson, only through its absence can it be fully perceived. Yes, you will occasionally encounter the Dead Kennedys-adoring hipster who somehow lives in a world where Paul Di’Anno was the superior vocalist. But let’s not forget – in 1998, the height of the Blaze Bayley era, Iron Maiden was actually scheduled to play the Medina Entertainment Center in Minnesota, a venue whose website places a link to “Bowling” in the header and predominantly features acts who can’t come to financial terms with the local casino. Upon Dickinson’s return to the band, Iron Maiden not only returned to rightful relevance but enjoyed a multi-generational resurgence (catch a Maiden show in the states and it will amaze you how many complete families are in attendance).

There are definitely more technically proficient singers than Bruce Dickinson, and from time to time, it feels as if it takes all of the man’s willpower to prevent the David St. Hubbins genes sewn into his DNA from turning a fine piece of Steve Harris craftsmanship into Stonehenge. But the ever-so-slight holes in his game are more than compensated for by his boundless energy. I was at the show in the video below. The temperature crossed 103 degrees that day, breaking a century old mark. Two people died of heat stroke. And here’s a 54-year old Bruce Dickinson with a voice indistinguishable from a 24-year old Bruce Dickinson thrashing around in a full-length jacket like a Highlander pursuing The Quickening.


Ronnie James Dio

Any list of the greatest vocalists in metal that don’t place Ronnie James Dio somewhere near the top should frankly be reported to Google as spam. Moreso than any other singer in the genre, Dio’s voice personified righteousness. More than one B-grade power metal act has tried to copy the diminutive Dio’s white magic, and (thankfully) most are recognized as poor imitations and relegated to obscurity.

What was particularly impressive about Dio (RIP) was his longevity. While it’s been 10 years since Geoff Tate possessed anything resembling a pitch that could strike out a big-league hitter, take a look at Dio performing at Wacken a year before his death in 2009. It’s unbelievable. At age sixty-seven, Dio was spitting rhymes in a realm unattainable by anyone not named Hansi Kürsch (an excellent singer, but unquestionably the private-label version of the original).

The only real place you can ding Dio, and the primary reason he’s not #1 on this list, is the relative infrequency that his vocals appear in the genre’s most familiar songs. Everybody loves Holy Diver, Rainbow In The Dark and The Mob Rules, but ask any casual metal fan to start rattling off the songs they believe define the genre and it’ll probably be a while before they name a song sung by Dio. That’s less of Dio’s fault as much as it’s a reflection of a way the chips fell throughout his career, but for someone of his reputation and pedigree, you’d expect his material to have carried more significance than it has.


James Hetfield Pre Vocal-Blowout

Hey, remember this song?

Yeah, we all had fun with this song on Live Binge and Purge. But few people know the seismic impact that this song ultimately had on the band’s career.

During the recording of this song in 1992, Hetfield blew out his vocals and was forced to adopt a more traditional singing style. To this day, Hetfield listens to a cassette tape of a basic piano-key warm-up prior to singing on stage. While much is made of the band’s affinity for experimentation contributing to the decline in its sound (and make no mistake, it was a decline), I tend to believe that Hetfield’s forced move into the world of crooning played a much bigger role in Metallica’s post-Black sound than any nefarious scheme concocted by Lars or Bob Rock.

Just listen to how Hetfield sings Master of Puppets in 1987:

And listen to how he sang it in 1994:

I’m not here to deconstruct Metallica’s career or the artistic decisions they have made over the years – that’s another article. But even the untrained ear can tell that 1994 Hetfield, while not bad or embarrassing, is clearly a shadow of the titan that was 1987 Hetfield.

Dickinson and Dio get points for not losing speed off their fastball throughout their career. But pre-blowout Hetfield was doing things vocally that nobody had ever done. Whereas Phil Anselmo needed two voices, two characters, to achieve his sound, Hetfield’s ability to hit pitch with the level of aggression he did was probably the most critical component of the band’s success. Put crooning Hetfield on Ride The Lightning or And Justice For All and you still have good albums. You just don’t have two of the greatest albums ever made.

Hetfield was able to scream accessibly, an art out of the reach of most vocalists even today.


John Bush

Getting back to singers who can still throw a fastball…..

What the fuck was that?

While the least famous of any vocalist on this list, in my eyes, John Bush is unquestionably (in my mind) the best metal vocalist ever.

Similar to Dio and Dickinson, Bush simply never ages. Listen to any recording of the man from 1984 to 2013. He’s as consistent as the sunrise.

And whereas Hetfield made the art of on-pitch screaming famous, John Bush perfected it.

Few people even know that during the band’s formative years, Metallica asked John Bush to join as their vocalist. Sadly, he declined, citing his commitment to Armored Saint. Just look what could have been.

And just like one of his obvious influences, John Fogerty, Bush boasts a surprisingly wide vocal range that’s belied by his bassy timbre. Hear the notes that he hits during 1991’s Reign Of Fire.

While ultimately nowhere near as influential on the genre as those preceding him on this list, it’s difficult to conceive of a more technically perfect singer than John Bush. Death/extreme genres notwithstanding, the man could capably sing anything.

Honorable Mention: Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Hansi Kürsch, Devin Townsend, Corey Taylor

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Spotlight - posted on December 9, 2013 by

7 Easy Steps To Help Demonicon / Daigoro Get Their Stolen Gear Back

Help Demonicon Get Their Stolen Gear Back

You’re a musician in a band. You and your bandmates have invested thousands of dollars in gear – amps, guitars, drums, processors, you name it. Not only that, you’ve spent nearly as many hours practicing, rehearsing, writing and gigging because, well, you’re a musician. This is your passion. Without music, life is monochromatic.

Now imagine if every piece of gear you owned was stolen. In a single instant, the tools that enable your art have vanished.

It’s every musician’s worst nightmare. And it just happened to our friends in Demonicon and Daigoro.

Thankfully, it is possible to recover stolen gear. Nobody commits this type of crime and then just squats on their ill-gained loot. Eventually, the turds who ripped off our friends will attempt to profit from it.

Our friends in A Moment Without recently recovered some of their stolen gear after a similar robbery thanks to a friend who spotted one of their amps at a local Music Go Round.

The key is to remain vigilant, and this is where we hope we can help.

We created a seven-step guide for people who want to help Demonicon and Daigoro get their gear back. After completing these steps (which should take about five minutes in total), you’ll receive e-mail alerts whenever key items stolen from Demonicon or Daigoro show up online. With any luck, one of these alerts will help the band recover their gear and bring the assholes who committed this crime to justice.

Without further adieu:

Step One: Get A Google Account

Note, if you use Gmail for your primary e-mail address, you can skip this step and go to step two.

To get started, you need to get your primary e-mail address set up as a Google account. Luckily, this is super easy.

Go to this link: Google Accounts. Before filling out the form, select the I prefer to use my current email address option. Then, fill out the fields.

You now have a Google Account that is registered to your e-mail address. Your user name is your e-mail address, and your password is whatever you chose.

Help Demonicon Get Their Stolen Gear Back Step One

Step Two: Go to Google Alerts

Pretty simple. Just go to If you need to sign in, use your Gmail credentials or the credentials you just created in step one.

Step Three: Create An Alert

In the field labeled Search Query, copy and paste the following with the quotes and capitalization intact: “Ampeg SVT 4” OR “Ampeg SVT4”

Select the drop-down menu next to How Many and select All Results.

Click Create Alert.

Help Demonicon Get Their Stolen Gear Back Step Three

You should now be at a screen that looks like the following:

Help Demonicon Get Their Stolen Gear Back Step Four

Step Four: Create A Second Alert

Click Create A New Alert. This will take you back to the screen you were at in step three.

Repeat everything you did in step three, but copy and paste the following with the quotes and capitalization intact in the field labeled Search Query: Behringer “bt2000”

Change the How Many field to read All Results, and create your alert. Your screen should look like the following:

Help Demonicon Get Their Stolen Gear Back Step Five

Step Five: Create Additional Alerts

Continue to create additional alerts, copying and pasting the following phrases:

Crate “GT3500”

“Ibanez” “Soundgear” “SR-505”

Laney AOR (“Pro100” OR “Pro 100”)

You should now have an Alerts screen that looks like this:

Help Demonicon Get Their Stolen Gear Back Step Six

Step Six – Bookmark The Gear

We have created a special page of our website that lists this stolen gear, which you can visit here. Bookmark this page.

Step Seven – Be Vigilant

You should now begin to get e-mails in your inbox alerting you any time one of the above items appears on the internet, be it on Craigslist, Ebay, Music Go Round, or wherever.

If you suspect that one of these alerts might be one of the stolen items, double-check by cross referencing against the list you just bookmarked. You will get an alert every time one of these items go online somewhere. Note: Most of these alerts will be from legitimate dealers or individuals looking to sell their own legally purchased product. Do not harass every individual who puts a Crate GT3500 on the market.

That said, if you feel you have a strong lead, contact Nate, Eli or Anthony through the Demonicon and Daigoro Facebook pages.


Wait, I’ve Got A Question

You only had me create five alerts? These guys had a ton of gear ripped off. Why not create alerts for everything?

Good question. The biggest challenge you’ll face when using this method to help Demonicon/Daigoro is that you’ll get a lot of false positives.

For example, if somebody in Florida decides to put their legitimately purchased GT3500 on Craigslist, you’ll end up getting a Google Alerts e-mail. It’s likely that most of the e-mails you receive as alerts will be for legitimate, non-stolen product.

To help minimize how much legitimate stuff you have to sift through, I created queries for the less common items that have unique model numbers and identifiers. If you were to create an alert for “black Jackson Flying V”, for example, your e-mail box would be crushed by the number of alerts you would receive given how many of these things are on the market. That’s not conducive to helping these guys get their gear back.

The biggest aid that anybody can provide Demonicon and Daigoro is in helping to recover just a single item. If one item is found, there’s a decent chance the seller can be traced. When A Moment Without recovered a single piece of their stolen gear, the police learned that it was all unloaded at the same time by the same individual at the same place.

That said, if you want to create additional alerts for the other pieces of gear, feel free. It won’t hurt.


Do I have to copy and paste those alerts exactly as you constructed them?

You don’t have to. I wrote them that way so as to minimize the amount of junk, false alerts that you would receive. That said, if you want to modify those alerts or create your own, feel free!
How can I shut off the e-mails?

Why would you do that, you cold, heartless bastard?

Just go to, and you can either shut off some or all of your alerts. Pretty simple.
What do I do if I think I’ve found a stolen item?

Get in contact with Nate, Eli or Anthony through the Demonicon or Daigoro Facebook pages. They’ll help you verify if what you found is legitimately theirs.
I can’t figure out how to get this Alerts working! What do I do?

Go to YouTube and search for “Google Alerts”. There, you will find a plethora of videos to help you figure out how to use this service.

If you’re still having trouble, please feel free to e-mail me, Neil, at jame0123 [at], or leave your question in the comments, and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.


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Spotlight - posted on December 3, 2013 by

Twin Cities Metal You Need To Hear: Cold Colours

Cold Colours Live

I don’t remember exactly when it was that I first became aware of Cold Colours. I vaguely remember pulling up their website on my dial-up connection sometime around 2001 from my old college apartment in Roseville. If memory serves me correctly, I believe somebody in the band reached out to us (we were just getting off the ground as a band capable of gigging at that point), and I remember being really flattered that somebody had “discovered” us and liked what we had to offer.

Hopefully that story is true – it’s stitched together from some disjointed memories and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s completely false.

Regardless of its origins, the relationship between Cwn Annwn and Cold Colours has been among the most treasured we have built over the years. No band has consistently treated us with more respect, made us feel like legitimate artists and rooted for our success more than the CC boys, and the feeling has been more than mutual.

The tricky thing about that statement, however, is that Cold Colours has meant many different things throughout the years. Founder, vocalist and whatever-instrumentalist-the-band-needs-now Brian Huebner has remained the only constant throughout the band’s many incarnations.

Although the band’s history dates back to 1999, our story begins here:

Cold Colours The Burden Of Hope

The Burden Of Hope

The version of the band most associated with the name “Cold Colours” in our memory bank was The Burden Of Hope era group featuring Huebner on vocals and guitar, Glen Wadie on drums, Jon Rayl on keys, Joseph Dunne on bass and Paul Anthony on guitar (and later Lance Vien). The Burden Of Hope sounded much as you would expect from its Travis Smith-painted album cover – melancholy, yet poetic.

The Burden Of Hope was Cold Colours at its most graceful and poignant, and perhaps most adherent to our understanding of their style. Within the confines of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the band was relatively unique – few people were blending gothic undertones with legitimate metal. Live, their shows were extremely powerful and emotive. We shared the stage with Cold Colours several times during this era, and to us, this period was the band’s most distinctive and defining.

During that era, “Breathe In” was their followers’ consensus favorite, even though the band absolutely hated the song (if I’m remembering correctly, anyways).

Breathe In from Cold Colours on Myspace.

“All This Time” was my personal favorite song. To this day, I’ll still bust out that C#add9, A, B chord progression during band practice.

All This Time from Cold Colours on Myspace.


Cold Colours The Great Depression

The Great Depression

Following the departure of Dunne, Anthony, Wadie and Rayl, Cold Colours entered a more transitory phase. On their primary release from this era, The Great Depression, Huebner drifted musically from the whole-note cadence that marked The Burden Of Hope to a sound that had stronger roots in Iced Earth and Judas Priest. The riffs were faster, the songs were more aggressive and the guitar harmonies grew more dominant.

Despite this shift, Huebner retained his commitment to crafting memorable choruses. Cold Colours’ ability to get stuck in your head was perhaps best exemplified by Redemption, a track which featured a strong, Jon Schaffer-esque guitar hook, well-crafted dynamics and a powerful refrain.

Redemption from Cold Colours on Myspace.


Cold Colours Self Titled


One of the unfortunate byproducts of The Great Depression era was the near-constant shuffling of band members. During the many occasions that I watched Cold Colours play during this time, it was kind of a crapshoot as to what instrument Huebner would be playing. This, combined with a suffering scene, led Cold Colours to become essentially a solo project.

The transition from democracy to autocracy, however, has had a highly transformative impact on the band’s sound. The most striking observation one makes after listening to tracks from Cold Colours newest self-titled release (as well as the occasional live show cobbled together from willing musicians) is how authentic the music has become. Without taking away from the band’s potent prior works, Cold Colours’ new tracks more closely conform to the visual imagery that has defined the band throughout the years, appealing to a much more primal lineage of dark, gothic metal. There is a subtle but meaningful difference between the concepts of “sadness” and “doom”, and the progression in Cold Colours sound represents the band’s traverse between the two.

This Devotion from Cold Colours on Myspace.


Cold Colours Favorite Shirt


Perhaps what I’ve admired most about Cold Colours is Huebner’s unrelenting persistence and tenacity. Like anybody who has ever played in an independent band, including ourselves, Brian has been knocked off of his horse on more than one occasion. But in my years of friendship with him, never once have I heard him consider throwing in the towel and foregoing his art, and I’ll be shocked if that day ever arrives.

Moreover, Brian has always viewed success as something that encompasses more than his own band. The number of people who have spent more hours than him growing the profile of Twin Cities metal can be counted on one hand. Brian is a rare member of the metal community who recognizes that a rising tide lifts all boats, and the Twin Cities scene benefits from his involvement. I’m proud to consider his band a peer, and I’m prouder to call him a friend.

Listen to Cold Colours online –

Become a fan of Cold Colours on Facebook –

Catch Cold Colours on Saturday, December 7th at Neisen’s –

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Non-Squitur - posted on December 2, 2013 by

Cwn Annwn Has Allied With Kuwait

Cwn Annwn and Rob Ford


We are some sick motherfuckers.

Credit: Jim Schott

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Band News - posted on November 24, 2013 by

Yes Virginia, Cwn Annwn Is Recording A New Album

Amps In Studio 2
If you’re a fan of Cwn Annwn, you’ve probably noticed a bit of radio silence since opening for Holy Grail back in July. No shows. Little communication. No incidents with the paparazzi. If you haven’t encountered us in the bowels of Kooler Sound, chances are it’s been a while since you’ve been graced by our sweet, sultry presence.

Why the hermitude? Besides the ever-present struggle to escape the insidious clutches of responsible adulthood, we’ve been hard at work on our new full-length followup to 2011’s The Alpha and the Omega.

This as-of-now untitled project marks our first collaboration with Ian Combs and Waterbury Studios. Working with Ian and his process has had a significant impact on our sound, and thus far, we couldn’t be happier. Ian’s passion, attention to detail and highly-refined ear has brought out a new dimension in our music and added a level of depth unexplored in our prior efforts.

This endeavor covers a sizable range of our band’s history. Two tracks, The Accuser and Two Minutes Hate, were written prior to The Alpha and the Omega (the latter track actually predating Julie joining the band). In contrast, Metamorphosis and Embodying Chaos mark the first material Cwn Annwn has recorded prior to playing out live. Finally, this project also represents our first foray into cover material, as we’ve paid tribute to the seminal prog act Rush with an interpretation of their 1982 classic, Subdivisions.

After what seemed like endless hours of rehearsal, pre-production and tracking, we’re excited to announce that recording is finally complete. The aforementioned Mr. Combs is hard at work on mixing as we speak, and we’re hopeful to share with you the fruits of our labor as soon as we can.

In the meantime, get a taste of what’s to come via the following:








Amps In Studio

Jake In Studio

Mike In Studio

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