“This guy is a fucking awesome guitarist!” That’s how renowned guitar god Slash describes Chris Buck’s soulful playing. Just a quick listen to his brand new album Postcards From Capricorn and it’s instantly confirmed that this South Whales native is one of the most promising Rock/Blues-based emerging artists of this millennium. Not in vain, he’s been signed to Tru-B-Dor Records, the new label of former Guns N’ Roses manager Alan Niven. In this exclusive interview Chris talks about his style, his band “The Big Horns”, the new album, and being compared to Eric Clapton and other six string heavyweights.

Bristish illustrator Mark Wilkinson’s work has been adorning the cover sleeves of Rock and Metal albums for decades. His work for bands like Judas Priest and Marillion, as well as for posters for the Monster of Rock Festival, Star Wars movies, and book covers is widely recognized. His refined technique and unique fantastic visions have made of the artist a legend within the world of commercial illustration. To celebrate his career of more than 30 years, Wilkinson recently published the book “Shadowplay”, a recount of most of his work to date. In this interview the artist talks extensively about the new book, his influences, and his ongoing collaboration with artists such as Judas Priest and Marillion.

Burnt Belief is the brainchild of two exceptional musicians: guitarist/composer Jon Durant and Porcupine Tree’s bassist Colin Edwin. This post rock-meets-fusion instrumental album marks the second time the two have joined forces to create new musical landscapes. Previously they had worked together on Durant’s 2011 release Dance of the Shadow Planets. For this new collaboration the duo decided to share writing duties and record at three studios, two in the U.S. and one in the U.K. So far, the album has been praised by fans and musicians alike and has opened new stylistic paths for both musicians. In this interview, Durant tell us in detail about this new venture, its impact on their professional relationship, and why they decided to release the album using independent channels.

German visual artist Andreas Marschall is widely known as one of Metal’s quintessential illustrators, his works having adorned album covers for decades. Bands like Blind Guardian, Kreator, Sodom, and In Flames, among many others, owe Marschall big time for helping them to establish crucial aspects of their visual imagery. Over the last few years the artist has also been exploring another passion: film making. In fact, he recently premiered his second feature film, a horror/fantasy tour de force titled “Masks”, which is expected to arrive on North American shores soon. While promoting the film worldwide, we had the opportunity to talk with Marschall about the origins of his career, his vast body of work, and movie making.

In 2012, ten years into their career, California’s As I Lay Dying released their sixth studio album titled Awakened. With the help of legendary Black Flag drummer and producer Bill Stevenson, the group successfully refined their blend of Metalcore adding sudden slabs of neo-Thrash and occasional melodic catchiness. “We really needed to make sure that we are still progressing and showing that we’re only getting stronger with our sound. We’re always trying to throw in new elements and always expand our sound somewhat,” says long time guitarist Phil Sgrosso about the band’s mindset while recording the album. Indeed, tracks like the opener “Cauterize”, the frantic “A Greater Foundation” or the sonically dense “Overcome” only come to confirm that this is probably one of the quintet’s finest recorded efforts to date.

Thrash Metal has never and will never die! In order to keep it fresh and with a natural state of sheer aggression; however, the genre has always depended on new blood, a new generation of fans and musicians to keep the flame alive. Thankfully that’s California’s Bonded By Blood’s raison d’etre: to help to command the XXI century’s new hordes of American Thrash. Their latest release, The Aftermath (out via Earache Records), only confirms the previous statement: the album is pure aggression, with great hooks and lots of high quality music. Recently we spoke with drummer Carlos Regalado about the band’s new album, their recent line up changes, and overall ongoing mission to take their music to every possible corner of the planet.

Despite the mainstream success and commercial appeal of Van Halen’s 1984, this mega-selling album was released with some accompanying controversial issues. For instance, though the album featured muscular Heavy Rock cuts such as “Panama” and “Hot For A Teacher”, it also proposed dramatic stylistic challenges in the keyboard-oriented hit singles “Jump” and “I‘ll Wait”. Additionally, the cover sleeve depicting a little angel smoking a cigarette while naughtily smiling was indeed, a polemical subject, even though it never caused major issues for the quartet’s successful career.

This is the second part to our “A Guide to (some of) the Best Metal Album Covers of 2012” posting last week. As we know, cover artwork was a big thing for Metal music in 2012. Many of them were epic, cryptic, nightmarish and more importantly, artfully executed. They helped to both enrich many listeners’ imaginations and to enhance the music itself; and this is why we’re covering them! In the second part to our guide, we keep exploring the stories behind some of these magnificent visual pieces. We’ve interviewed some of the designers and musicians involved with said art and they in turn opened for us new worlds of imagination an awe. Check it out!

As far as Metal music goes 2012 was one of the most interesting years in a long time. Masterful albums such as Sigh’s In Somniphobia, Ihsahn’s Eremita, Enslaved’s Riitiir, Katatonia’s Dead End Kings, among many others, kept the quality and innovative spirit on the genre at supremely high levels. Cover artworks were also a big thing. They went from being epic (Testament), to nightmarish (Sigh), and even to minimalist (Ihsahn). Most importantly though, they helped to enhance the music and general aura of each album while introducing fans to new worlds where the power of imagination seems not to have limits. Through 2012 PureGrainAudio interviewed some of the designers and musicians involved with the creation of some of these amazing cover artworks and what we learned was, as with the music itself, totally fascinating!

In 2005, legendary North American illustrator Joe Petagno published via Feral House the book “Orgasmatron: The Heavy Metal Art of Joe Petagno”. The impressively-illustrated volume compiled some of the most outstanding, eye-popping works the designer had produced for bands such as Vital Remains, Angelcorpse, and of course, Motorhead.

Veteran visual artist Paul Raymond Gregory seems to be one of the busiest personalities in the world of heavy Metal. The British painter and illustrator recently completed the cover artwork for Saxon’s upcoming album Sacrifice (his 12th for the band), as he continues producing large, detailed canvases based on Tolkien’s literary works. Also, he’s preparing the 2013 edition of the popular UK festival “Bloodstock Open Air”, a massive Heavy Metal gathering of bands and fans that Gregory helped to create more than 10 years ago. On top of all this, Gregory just published a book titled “Beyond Time And Place”. These glossy, 176 illustrated pages showcases the artist’s visual works and achievements over the past 35 years of his career. It includes most of his major Tolkien-inspired pieces and many artworks he has produced for bands such as Saxon, Dio, Molly Hatchet, and Blind Guardian among others. A true feast for the eyes, no doubt about it!

Cradle Of Filth is back! Buy wait… did they ever leave? Since their thunderous 1984 debut, The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh, the band has never stopped releasing new music. Their unique Gothic approach to Black/Death Metal; however, over the years started to be received with various grades of success. For some, the British collective just wasn’t bringing anything new to the table. To those naysayers the group present their blistering new album The Manticore And Other Horrors, a recording that recaptures in all its glory, the vibrancy of earlier classics with a modern, clearer sound and superb production values.

Let’s compare the first half of Guns N’ Roses’ roller coaster-like career with a winning hand in a card game. We have the mega-selling, game-changer Appetite for Destruction (1987) and the twin behemoths Use Your Illusion I & II (1991). Then, stuck in the middle we find their 1988 EP Lies, a sort of well-placed wildcard between a trio of aces. Despite its apparent lesser importance, this EP spawned the now-classic acoustic ballad “Patience” and the polemic track “One In A Million”. It also exemplified to perfection, everything the band was about at the time. This included a previously released faux live recording and cover artwork that had many things to say, even if they weren’t true.

A few months have passed since the arrest of Lamb Of God’s singer Randy Blythe at the Czech Republic’s Ruzyně Airport. He ended being charged with manslaughter in regards to the death of a fan at a concert where the band played two years prior. As a result, Randy found himself incarcerated for over a month. This obligated the rest of the members and crew to come back home without their friend and integral part of one of today’s most revered Metal outfits. It was the beginning of an odyssey that still doesn’t have end in sight. Months after the incident, we finally had the opportunity to chat with Lamb’s Of God drummer and founding member Chris Adler about whole situation and current legal challenges the band will face in the near future.