One can say the sound of steel was injected into Exmortus founder, guitarist and vocalist, Jadran “Conan” Gonzalez at an early age. Born into a family of musician, he grew up listening to his grandparents sing and play guitar, while his father and uncle both were in rock and metal bands. At just 5 years old, his father took him to watch his uncle play in a death metal band at the Whisky. The experience left quite the lasting impression on him. He soaked in the vibe and the atmosphere and begged for a guitar of his own. He was gifted a beginner Crate guitar and combo amp and once his father saw him stick to practicing, purchased him a solid Gibson SG. It was just a few years later at the age of 12 that Conan formed Exmortus, which would not have lasted had it not been for his parents.
Gonzalez reflects, “My family has been and continue to be very supportive of my endeavors with my music. I don’t think Exmortus would exist if it weren’t for my parents driving the band to our gigs. My dad also acted as our first manager and made sure we played on time and were taken care of at the gigs since we were so young when we started performing.”
An LA fixture for well over a decade now, they released their first LP, 2008’s In Hatred’s Flame, when Conan was just 18 years old, but had already paid their dues through their shows and buzzed about demos. The mixture of thrash, death, black and especially neo classical that made them stand out from the LA thrash revival in the 00’s.
“Classical influence came from watching Fantasia and Looney Tunes a bunch as a kid, “explains Gonzalez. “Of course I got into Ozzy because of Randy Rhoads’s neo classical style and then into Yngwie during my high school years. Ever since I’ve delved deeper by studying counterpoint and harmony with old theory books that have all the classic examples.”
2014’s Slave to the Sword LP was the album that took all their influences and forged them together the strongest. Touring nonstop in support of that LP with the likes of Dark Tranquillity, Krisiun, Arsis and many others prepped them for a more mature sound on 2016’s Ride Forth. Constant touring with Amon Amarth, Children of Bodom and Arsis proved too much for some of the members, as founding member and drummer, Mario Mortus as well as long time guitarist, David Rivera, stepped down to pursue other interests. Gonzalez had been used to line up changes, starting a band with preteens can see many of the members change as they get older, but this one seemed especially tough since Mortus was not just a member, but family.
Family was started him on this path, but it was ultimately his family that told him to keep going. Mortus urged him not give up and while speaking with the parents and uncle, they all told him he had gone too far to quit now, so he hunkered down his studio and crafted his finest songs to date as well as enlisted Chase Becker and Carlos Cruz of Warbringer to help record the tracks.
With Sound of Steel, Gonzalez once again revisited the team that made Slave and Ride Forth such successes, revisiting producer Zack Ohren (Machine Head, Fallujah) at Sharkbite Studio to sonically capture the tracks while artist, Philip Lawvere (Celtic Frost, Helloween), created the cover art.
“This new record takes the best from both Slave and Ride albums and adds a killer twist especially accentuated by Chase and Carlos of Warbringer. While still paying homage to our classic favorites like Priest, Malmsteen, Slayer, etc., we also deliver tastefully the extremities of black/death metal and of course the neo-classical structure/harmony that we are known for.”
The band kicked off the promotion for the album by heading to Europe for a month long tour with FL death metal legends, Obituary. For this run and from now on, Adrian Aguilar has joined as drummer and they are ready to start up the US promo cycle. They return to the road very soon, when their steel shines the brightest, this Summer.
Growing up in the San Francisco area suburbs as young metal heads can make it quite likely to take influence from the pioneers of metal that spanned the area in the 1980’s. So it’s no surprise that Hatchet describes their sound as “Pure, Uncompromising, Bay Area Thrash Metal”.
Since hitting the Bay Area Metal scene in early 2007, Hatchet quickly made a name for itself. They worked hard to gig as often as they could and also not compete with, but group together bands of the like to help strengthen the scene.
After self-releasing two demos, the band’s debut album, Awaiting Evil, was released in mid-2008 via Metal Blade Records. The album was well-received by thrash enthusiasts around the globe and proved a great beginning for Hatchet. During the album cycle, the band completed 3 full DIY U.S. tours that helped put them on the map for up and coming thrash metal bands.
Their sophomore effort, Dawn of the End, released on their new label, The End Records, showcased a much more aggressive and professionally oriented band. The band hit the road and performed over 200 shows throughout 2013/14 touring and performing alongside national acts such as: Soilwork, Jeff Loomis Band, Blackguard, Trivium, Flotsam and Jetsam, Exmortus, Warbringer, Havok, Lich King, Black Tide, Cellador and Threat Signal
The band’s third release titled Fear Beyond Lunacy is highly anticipated among thrashers and metal heads worldwide. The album will debut a new Hatchet lineup behind founding member, vocalist, and lead guitarist, Julz Ramos. The new members have injected the band with a surge of raw energy, and fans of Hatchet will be overly satisfied with this revived enthusiasm laid into the recordings. Says Ramos, “the faster, thrashier tracks hit harder than ever before, while the melodic stuff is catchier and we’ve even experimented with some heavier, slower tempos.”
The band eager to release this monster of an album spent two months hyping the record’s release while sharing stages nationally with Kobra and the Lotus and Doyle and since release have remained continually in the public eye touring supporting Metal Church, Flotsam and Jetsam, Helstar, Act of Defiance, Eliminate and their own headliner with Black Fast and Green Death.
Hailing from the same state as guitar greats Dimebag Darrell and Stevie Ray Vaughn, Immortal Guardian and it’s founding member Gabriel Guardian continue to carry the flag of musical innovation and virtuosity for the lone star state. Sponsored by Fender Guitars at the young age of 22, Guardian with his one of a kind ability to shred on guitar and keyboard AT THE SAME TIME has brought to the table a new style of performance seen as novelty by some and pure genius by most. With the addition of Brazilian vocal siren Carlos Zema back in 2012, the band has evolved into a full frontal metal assault of anthemic melodies, technical rhythms, and powerful highflying vocals. Immortal Guardian’s latest EP “Revolution Part I” is the independently released follow up to their debut EP “Super Metal: Edition Z” and prequel to the band’s first full length album “Revolution Part II”. For Revolution Part I, legendary producer/engineer Roy Z was brought into the mix to give the tracks a unique sound that evokes the NWOBHM stylings heard in his high profile clients such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. “Roy completely molded the band’s sound in the recordings…” states frontman Carlos Zema, “…It went from water to wine.”
Immortal Guardian and their eternal quest to “spread the shred” has landed the band on national and international tours including a headlining Brazilian tour and several dates in Russia. Immortal Guardian has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in metal such as Judas Priest, Dragonforce, Kamelot, Symphony X, Sonata Arctica, Slayer, Metal Church, Soilwork, Steve Vai and others. The band has also made a name for themselves as a DIY guerilla marketing machine via their Immortal Guardian Shred Sled, a mobile metal show on wheels, which has been covered by SPIN.com and other media outlets while out at major music festivals such as South By Southwest, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and River City Rockfest.
Immortal Guardian is currently getting ready to announce their first full-length record being released on M-Theory Audio set for late summer. When asked about the label signing Gabriel Guardian commented, ““I’m very happy to announce IMMORTAL GUARDIAN’s signing with M-Theory Audio and the start of our next epic chapter. Marco Barbieri and his team have been accumulating a serious roster, and with a track record like his, we are definitely honored to be joining the family. Looking forward to all the good times ahead!”
Flagstaff Power/High Fantasy Metal