TERRAVORE, CONCRETE, CIROZA and SQUAD OF DEATH in Grindhouse Skate Park, Sofia, Bulgaria, May 15, 2021.

Photographer: Kiril Gruev ©

JUDAS PRIEST are working on new album

JUDAS PRIEST members Rob Halford (vocals), Scott Travis (drums) and Richie Faulkner (guitar) spoke to Metal Hammer magazine about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band’s follow-up to “Firepower” album. Released in March 2018, “Firepower” was the second LP to feature Faulkner, who was selected to fill the void left by founding guitarist K.K. Downing following his exit in 2011.

Judas Priest
Judas Priest

“We started the year prepping the next JUDAS PRIEST metal masterpiece,” Rob said. “We had one massive writing session together and we’ve got an enormous amount of material stacked up, which is really thrilling after the glorious response we had to ‘Firepower’.”

“It’s gonna be good,” added Travis. Rob‘s always excited about new music, which is great, because he’s such a creative guy and when you are that creative, naturally you never rest on your laurels. You always want to do something new and get it out there.”

Faulkner talked in more detail about PRIEST‘s songwriting process, saying: “We compile all our ideas and get together and throw them in the pot and see what sticks, then see what lights up the room, see what Rob grabs hold of. It might be a riff that Rob really gets his teeth into that inspires a lyric or an intro, verse or chorus and suddenly you’ve got the nucleus of a song.”


NANOWAR OF STEEL reveals music video for new single “Uranus” feat. Michael Starr (STEEL PANTHER)

Kings of masterful Heavy Metal parodies NANOWAR OF STEEL bless the world with yet another spectacular music video for their new single “Uranus”, featuring none other than glam icon Michael Starr of the legendary STEEL PANTHER! Showing off their incredible choreography skills in shiny space suits, NANOWAR OF STEEL dance their way straight into your heart – and Uranus!

Michael Starr (STEEL PANTHER) says about the video for “Uranus”:
“This video will make your penis bigger with one view. The more times you view it, the bigger your penis will get. You’re welcome.
“Uranus” is a must watch video. It’s the only way to have your first eye orgasms. A fun video with a great story line. If you don’t like this song you must be deaf. If you don’t like this video you must be blind.”

Gatto Panceri 666 of NANOWAR OF STEEL adds about the video for “Uranus”:
“I know, this joke has been used and abused since 1781, from the very first day William Herschel discovered this planet. However, being a practicing astronomer and a professional idiot, I felt I had more right to use it as the subject of a song to be dignified with a Lady Gaga-level video (in all humbleness).
Perhaps it won’t be the most original pun ever, but one thing we can tell you for sure: this joke turned out to be the most expensive one we’ve ever told so far!”

Nanowar Of Steel
Nanowar Of Steel; photo by Valerio Fea

After gathering millions of clicks on YouTube and Spotify, Italy’s finest up-and-coming comedy metal outfit NANOWAR OF STEEL celebrates the overwhelmingly successful release of their previously sold out 2018 album, “Stairway To Valhalla”, with an exclusive first ever re-issue on vinyl via Napalm Records on December 4, 2020.

The re-issued vinyl edition will be available in two different colors and comes along with a bonus CD as well as yet-unreleased fountains of fun, starting with party smashing “Uranus” featuring Michael Starr (STEEL PANTHER). On their forth full-length, the five-piece offers hits such as “The Call of Cthulhu” and “Barbie, Milf Princess of the Twilight” featuring Fabio Lione (Turilli/Lione Rhapsody). The Bonus CD also contains NANOWAR OF STEEL’s smashers “Norwegian Reggaeton” and “Valhalleluja” amongst others!

Nanowar Of Steel - Stairway To Valhalla
Nanowar Of Steel – Stairway To Valhalla

Stairway To Valhalla (Re-Issue) Tracklist:
1. Declination
2. Barbie, Milf Princess of the Twilight
3. The Call of Cthulhu
4. Heavy Metal Kibbles
5. Il maestro Myiagi di Pino
6. L’opelatole ecologico
7. Images and Swords
8. In the Sky
9. … And Then I Noticed That She Was a Gargoyle
10. Tooth Fairy
11. Vegan Velociraptor
12. Another Drill in the Wall
13. Ironmonger (The Copier of the Seven Keys)
14. Bum Voyage
15. Uranus
16. The Crown and the Onion Ring
17. The Quest for Carrefour
18. Hail to Liechtenstein
19. Uranus (feat. Michael Starr)

Bonus CD:
1. Valhalleluja
2. Sottosegretari alla presidenza della repubblica del True Metal
3. Norwegian Reggaeton
4. Bestie di Seitan
5. Sneeztem of a Yawn
6. A cena da Gianni
7. Kurograd
8. Esce ma non mi rosica (Shahram Shabpareh Cover)
9. Deep Throat Revolution (Immanuel Casto Cover)
10. Norwegian Reggaeton (Remix)

Gatto Panceri 666 – Bass 
Potowotominimak – Vocals
Mr. Baffo – Vocals
Abdul – Guitar
Uinona Raider – Drums

Gallery: U.D.O. in Plovdiv

U.D.O. in the Anthic Theatre, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, September 18, 2020.

Photographer: Kiril Gruev ©

Check for full gallery in The Other Side.

Rob Halford’s Confess: “I’m a pop tart”

“Pop tart” is the qualification by which Rob Halford identifies most readily in his newly released book (Confess: The Autobiography). And although he has the musical-phrasing proficiency of the crooners of popular music at its height, it hardly shows in this book – a rather dry, sparse, and substance-lacking piece.

The lack of substance does not pertain to Halford’s romantic life, which is the main subject of the book. There is no way his need to be out with his sexuality could be underestimated – it is no less than cathartic and life-saving – his personal purgatory, as he calls it. After following him through his ordeals and dalliances, we are happy with the conclusion of Rob being in a commited relationship for twenty five years.

Confession – released September 29, 2020

The “shock” and problems of the book begin outside its deeply intimate narration.
There seems to be a bias, unwillingness, and general lack of interest to get to the core of most matters.
A first discrepancy is Halford’s vehement assertion that the impression he had been into BDSM was “an urban myth and utter bollocks: I’m pretty vanilla”. That urban myth, however, was created by Halford himself through various interviews, including one for The Advocate, when he came out of the closet. If any amount of sincerity could be surmised from his lyrics, these, too, refer to him as “sadomasochistic to the core”, in one of the most convincing songs of his solo career, Fetish. He admittedly signalled the handkerchief code from the stage with Judas Priest in his years in the closet – messages such as “fisting”, “watersports”, and “heavy S&M”. In any case, he puts to rest a dispute with K.K.Downing of who came up with the leather-and-studs image that would become a trademark of the heavy metal genre: K.K. did suggest the style and Halford went along.

Speaking of K.K., his individual musical contributions (prior to British Steel where Judas Priest began writing as a team) seem almost entirely omitted from the book, in favour of various references to Glenn Tipton and his “ingenious riffs”. There are words full of sentiment as to how he and Halford wrote music together; in contrast, there’s no reference to Before The Dawn, a ballad by Downing which is known to have been very personal to Halford, who wrote the lyrics. In addition, there’s a distinct negative colouring of Downing’s character, referring to him as “constantly moaning: that’s what he does”, at times completely irrational, and being notorious for holding a grudge. In contrast, Glenn is portrayed as self-assured, determined and clear-visioned, almost a saintly figure “with a beatific smile”, who would regularly dismiss Downing’s “moaning” with a sarcastic remark.
It is nearly painful to read such accounts in light of the book by K.K. Downing, which serves as a poignant outlet for his life of frustration within the band, caused primarily by the condescension and dismissal by its dominant figure (Tipton), even when vital matters were brought to the table, pertaining to both the band’s business and interpersonal dynamics.

Rob Halford, on the other hand, has no issue with authority of any kind. He dreads confrontation – a leitmotif in the book. We see him, in a large portion of it, fawning over various “stars”, including Johnny Depp and Lady Gaga, and not least, “Queenie”. It feels awkward to witness Halford’s delight at being noticed by a “celebrity”. At least once in the book, he describes himself as masochistic.

Rob Halford’s industrial project, 2wo

In contrast to the drooling accounts of encounters (or their contemplation) with Freddie Mercury, Cher, Jack Nicholson, Madonna and various others, there’s little in the book pertaining to musical matters. Halford claims, understandably, that Judas Priest is the most important thing in his life – and yet music seems a backdrop for his next romance or brush with a celebrity.
He awkwardly derides some of his work, both in and out of Priest, for various reasons: projects outside Priest (except for Resurrection which he designed purposely as a statement that he was “metal” and an appeal to rejoin the band) are given little significance, particularly the album Crucible, strangely described as “not heavy, unlike Resurrection”. A work with Priest such as the infamous Eat Me Alive is addressed as lyrically “a joke”, although it can’t be a more poignant sublimation of Halford’s “enormous sex drive” which coloured both his work and personal life.

Halford seems most concerned with the perceived authority of not only Judas Priest, but the metal scene in general; in fact, he has recently stated that “metal” is his favourite word.
Like Downing, he embraces Nostradamus wholeheartedly and swears that the album should one day see its proper presentation and rightful place as a rock-symphonic masterpiece; unlike Downing, he does it somewhat apologetically: after all, the album had divided “our beautiful metal maniacs”, as he likes to refer to them in public. A simplistic, formulaic, easily digestible album like the band’s latest, Firepower (a big commercial success) is laudably extolled.

Judas Priest on their last tour (2018-19)

In conclusion, Halford leaves us on the happy note that “The Metal God” can’t be more fulfilled – a title he likes using, leaving us to question the extent and depth of his self-irony. It doesn’t seem to penetrate between his self-effacing and his self-aggrandizing sides, nor does it aim to. Halford’s irony is neither of the Socratic nor the Romantic kind: it is content with the lustrous duality of the surface.

Beyond The Black

Gallery: Sea Of Black Festival 2020

ENGINEER OF DEATH, SURRATION, CHURCH OF DESTINY, JFT, BESTIA ATER, FROM THE ASHES, LUNATIC THEATRE, GWENDYDD and GET SOME! at Sea Of Black Festival 2020 in Summer Theather, Burgas, Bulgaria, August 8, 2020.

Photographer: Kiril Gruev ©

SCHIRENC PLAYS PUNGENT STENCH replace ANCIENT at Broken Silence Black Death Metal Fest 2020

Austrian Death Metal legend Martin „El Cochino“ Schirenc comes with his SCHIRENC PLAYS PUNGENT STENCH to Broken Silence Black Death Metal Fest 2020, which will take place in the Summer Theatre of Burgas, Bulgaria, on July  4,  2020, Saturday.

Schirenc Plays Pungent Stench

Schirenc Plays Pungent Stench

Due COVID-19 reasons, ANCIENT postponed their visit in Bulgaria for 2021.

The day PUNGENT STENCH disbanded in 2007 marked the loss of one of Death Metal‘s most unique originators…and the calls for a reunion have not ceased ever since. Although disappointed by the sudden split, founding member singer/guitarist Martin „El Cochino“ Schirenc continued to release music and play concerts with various other projects, before he finally agreed to attend a PUNGENT STENCH tribute show in Istanbul, where he played several songs from his former band under the moniker „The Church of Pungent Stench“. Supported by Mike Gröger (HOLLENTHON) on drums, as well as Hakan Nurcanlı (Art Diktator) on bass, this 2011 concert was a huge success. Subsequently, Schirenc received numerous offers from various promoters to also bring this show to other cities.

It wasn’t until 2013 that Schirenc finally agreed to take THE CHURCH OF PUNGENT STENCH on the road to grace stages worldwide. The new line up continued to feature Mike on drums, but also introduced a new bass player, Danny Vacuum, known for his involvement with bands like GENOCIDE S.S., NECRONY and THE ACCIDENTS. The first show took place at the Eindhoven Metal Meeting and only marked the beginning of a successful series of appearances at the biggest festivals in Europe (Neurotic Deathfest, SWR Barroselas Metalfest, Graspop Metal Meeting, Hellfest, Bang Your Head, Brutal Assault, Into The Grave) and the USA (70.000 Tons of Metal and Maryland Deathfest).

Due to a legal dispute, the band was forced to change its name and is now touring as SCHIRENC PLAYS PUNGENT STENCH. However, the mission remains the same:  ringing the music of Austria’s sickest band back to life and keeping the flame burning by refusing to praise the ashes!

Schirenc Plays Pungent Stench

Schirenc Plays Pungent Stench

The complete line-up is NOKTURNAL MORTUM (Pagan Folk Metal, Ukraine), SCHIRENC PLAYS PUNGENT STENCH (Death Metal, Austria), ACHERONTAS (Black Metal, Greece),  KAWIR (Black Metal, Greece), SCAPEGOAT (Death Metal, Bulgaria), DAY OF EXECUTION (Death Metal, Bulgaria), PAST REDEMPTION (Death Metal, Bulgaria), THE REVENGE PROJECT (Death Metal, Bulgaria), BOLG (Black Metal, Bulgaria).

Ticket price categories:
01.06.2020 – 03.07.2020 – 50 BGN
at the festival doors – 70 BGN

Children until 10 years enter for free with parent with purchased ticket.

Tickets presale:

Broken Silence Black Death Metal Fest 2020

K.K.Downing, the curious incident of the unnamed JUDAS PRIEST guitarist, and Rob Halford’s human rights activism

We have followed the turbulent Judas Priest media developments since they commenced in early 2018 (see previous articles), and we will preface the latest with a reminder.

KK had left the band in 2011, citing dictatorial management and declining quality of performance. While expressing he had been trying to voice his concerns and mend the relationship throughout the years, he reached out to his colleagues once again when Glenn Tipton announced he was no longer able to tour (February 2018), due to Parkinson’s disease.

K.K. Downing

K.K. Downing

Downing, a founding member and defining part of the band both historically and artistically, was willing to resume his place. To his astonishment, his offer seemed to have enraged the Judas Priest camp: Rob Halford impulsively accused Downing of insinuating that Tipton had not played on the band’s latest release (an assertion with no substantial claim), while Ian Hill, the bass player, implied that “no fans would miss KK Downing, because we now have Richie Faulkner, who brought new energy to the band”. The latter statement was dismissed by KK, who recalled that on the British Steel 30th Anniversary Tour (the last one where he participated) he had been by far the most energetic member. Moreover, his vigour and hesitation to make musical compromises had been the primary reason for his departure: e.g., in his book “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” (out September 2018) he zealously laments the band’s decision to withdraw from properly presenting (even in modest form) the band’s operatic masterpiece, 2008’s Nostradamus.

Rob Halford as "Nostradamus"

Rob Halford as “Nostradamus”

The psychological tensions within the band seemed to have oppressed Downing, who withdrew from music for a decade – yet, following the band’s vehement refusal to welcome him back – not even as a participant in the 50th Anniversary Tour due to take place next year – Downing formed his new band, KK’s Priest. It includes drummer Les Binks of Stained Class fame (the 1978 album which, in the opinion of many, defined the genre of heavy metal), singer Tim “Ripper” Owens, who had replaced Rob Halford after his departure in the 90s, bassist Tony Newton (Voodoo Six), and guitarist A.J. Mills (Hostile). The forming of the new entity followed KK’s much acclaimed full live set of Judas Priest songs in November 2019, while the band’s name reflects KK’s attachment and passion for what he deems his life, Judas Priest – the band he co-founded in 1969, becoming its musical basis and famous star – alongside Tipton and Halford – for a number of decades.

Judas Priest, Stained Class Era

Judas Priest, Stained Class Era

Current Judas Priest in its live capacity seems to consist of Rob Halford, Ian Hill, drummer Scott Travis (since 1990’s Painkiller), guitarist Richie Faulkner (ex- Lauren Harris), and producer/guitarist Andy Sneap, who on the 2018-9 Firepower tour replaced Glenn Tipton – by that time only able to make encore appearances. The 50th Anniversary Tour, due to take place this year, has been rescheduled, with the band actively promoting it and its current members.

One such promotion spurred the headline of this article. While announcing a guitar masterclass with Faulkner, the band states:
“…Poised now to celebrate that illustrious career as they enter their 50th year in the industry – 2020 should have seen the band embark on an epic 50th-anniversary tour in celebration but due to Covid-19, this has had to be postponed to 2021…
When the previous guitarist left in 2011 with a still-burning desire to continue flying the flag of metal, Judas Priest decided to continue on, by enlisting newcomer Richie Faulkner on guitar. The move seemed to have reinvigorated the band…”

K.K. Downing

K.K. Downing

What has looked like an anti-KK Downing campaign since early 2018, culminates in a revision of history which excludes him. It is curious why his name still rings sharp – just like the tone of his guitar (incomparably more characteristic, daring and vigorous than that of Faulkner) – in the fans’ years. Did four decades of Judas Priest, in which they moulded their name, fame and legacy, consist of Tipton, Haford, and an unnamed member?

If Judas Priest wants to be true to a Brand Safety trend – the result of sweeping under the carpet any artistic tension and “controversy” which probably made the band’s extreme identity at its prime – then they should withdraw any produce involving the member they wish to erase – as in the case with Tim Owens, who had complained that the albums with him were not available on streaming platforms; nor did the Halford-fronted band revisit any of the songs.

news_kk_KK's Priest

KK’s Priest

It can of course be argued that the “Ripper” era isn’t essential to Priest – which would only emphasise the atrocity of erasing Downing. It is ironic that, if we go by KK’s book, it was KK who reached out to Halford and pleaded for Rob’s return before Glenn Tipton.
Yet another irony is that, in recent years and months, Halford has become an increasingly outspoken human rights activist (which we fully support!):
“Obviously, there have been gay metalheads since metal was invented, but [in the ‘70s] we were invisible,” Halford told Billboard in a new interview. “After a Priest show, a lot of us went back to working at the Ford plant or a Walgreens or working as a schoolteacher, but we were gay. We had to hide, basically.”

Judas Priest

Judas Priest

Is this a case of standing for humanity but not the person? Nobody should be invisible, let alone a stalwart of heavy metal who devoted his life to Judas Priest; someone who stood by the band’s artistic interest with the same lack of compromise (while compromising his psychological well-being), precision and resolve which define heavy metal per se.

KK’s Priest have meanwhile completed an album and are eager to go on the road, whenever possible:
“We are now just waiting for studio facilities to re-open in order to mix and master the album.
We are incredibly excited and totally ready for the launch of what we consider to be an exceptional and important record; we sincerely hope that you will agree!”

KK’s Priest feat. Dave Ellefson (Megadeth) in the first-ever live rendition of Judas Priest’s Before The Dawn (Downing composition):

The publication prepared by Beyond The Black

Gallery: BENDIDA presents new album „First of the Heroes“

Bulgarian Symphonic Fantasy Metal band BENDIDA presents new album „First of the Heroes“, club Mixtape 5, Sofis, Bulgaria, March 6, 2020.

Photographer: Kiril Gruev ©

Check for full gallery in The Other Side.