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Closing in on Anberlin’s fifth release Dark is the Way, Light is a Place pegging Anberlin is a bit of a challenge. On the one hand they are the embodiment of what hard work and dedication can do for a band that humbly began their career on Tooth & Nail. After all, Tooth & Nail is just a small independent label known more for signing talented bands but not necessarily for fostering these bands to the next level. And while they garnered a fair amount of acclaim and fans through grass roots marketing, Anberlin’s popularity continues to grow. Now with Universal Republic, they face new challenges and higher expectations that naturally follow them after the big success of New Surrender that also included the number one single, “Feel Good Drag.”

On Christmas 2009, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan handed in a demo for a song he had written entitled “Death” and proclaimed, “That’s it, that’s the last song for this record.” Three days later, the Avenged Sevenfold drummer was found in his home, dead from a lethal mix of prescription drugs and alcohol. Tomorrow, A7X will release that record, now called Nightmare, which is not only the last physical recording of The Rev’s legacy, but also his tribute.

It’s hard to describe festivals outside of the normal parameters of setup and slate. The DNA resembles one part carnival, one part concert and one part spectacle. On the surface, the analysis of the Mayhem Festival is no different. In short it’s a lot of bands, lots of merchandise, lots flying motorcycles and a veritable dustbowl of pits created by fans taking in the pulse of the ten hour feast of metal mania. The only way to understand it isn’t just to experience it. The only way to understand it is to live it.

Korn is one of those bands that you either love or hate. But whether or you love or hate them one of things that cannot be argued is their longevity – Seventeen years later the boys from Bakersfield are still churning out the records and relentlessly fine tuning the music the makes them tick. If you’re a Korn fan it’s been a long journey not without its share of controversy.

There are very few artists in the music business that are as controversial as Derek Webb. Sure there are other advocates and political activists out there, but many of them do so much of their talking away from their music whereas Derek Webb seems to ruffle the most feathers from the front of the stage. Ironically, and because Derek’s music comes from Nashville – whose foundations include the home of Contemporary Christian Music itself, it’s often hard to separate what’s redeeming about the art that is born from that environment and reconciling that with the lyrical philosophy of the song writer himself. That is, of course, unless you’re Derek Webb. For Derek, it’s easy to separate art from philosophy…taking it a step further it’s easy to make that separation when you understand that there is definitely a difference between artistic expression and music with an agenda.

When former Contemporary Christian Music artist, Jennifer Knapp, dropped the bomb that she was gay, it was like the shot heard around the world. Fresh off her tour with Derek Webb, I recently had the opportunity to interview Jennifer Knapp in between gigs. In her conversation with C6M, Jennifer spoke candidly about the controversy of coming out of the closet and being lambasted by the Christian media, what it was like to be the center of a controversy that grabbed national attention and finally what the future holds for her.

Ronnie James Dio, legendary vocalist from classic bands Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven & Hell, has passed away at the age of 67 years old. I got a text late last night that said this: “Rumors swirling that Dio may be dead….”. While “death rumors” (sometimes true, sometimes false) seem to be cropping up more and more these days, this one seemed pretty credible, seeing how Dio has been battling stomach cancer since late last year. While Wendy Dio (longtime Wife and manager) had posted early this morning that “he wasn’t doing well, but he isn’t dead!”, it turns out he did indeed pass away this morning at 7:45 am.

Anyone who was into music videos in the early 80’s will remember the video “Can U Deliver?” featuring 5 dirty guys traveling through the wasteland, wearing steel armor and riding motorcycles ready to do battle. While they didn’t achieve multi-platinum success, to this young 12-year-old metalhead they were as fast as Metallica, as heavy as Judas Priest and every bit as cool as Iron Maiden.

Kristofferson is one of the great unsung heroes of American music. Well…unsung may not be the right term. He’s certainly revered in Country circles, but even with the countless Grammy nominations, he’s never had much success in the mainstream. You could say he’s a Rodney Dangerfield in the music industry. That is to say, he gets no respect. The average music fan – even one who counts themselves as a fan of artists such as Johnny Cash or Janis Joplin – wouldn’t mention Kris Kristofferson in their High Fidelity Top 5 Singer/Songwriters Of All Time list. But you get the sense that Kris doesn’t care much for mainstream respect.

Initially I hadn’t been sure what to expect from She & Him’s live act. I own both of the band’s albums, love their fresh (though oddly reminiscent) style, and have listened to them repeatedly. But a well produced album doesn’t always translate into a good live performance. It took about one verse and half a chorus into the band’s first song to realize that Deschanel and M. Ward are the real deal. I’ve been enjoying Deschanel’s movies for years, but after seeing her perform live on stage, I realize now that she’s one of those rare people who was born with more talent in her little toe than most people will ever know.