Lead Vocalist Feature – Tommy Vext

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Thomas Cummings was born on the 15th of April 1982. He is better known by his stage name Tommy Vext and is known for being the lead vocalist for Bad Wolves, Snot, Divine Heresy and Westfield Massacre. In 2017 Tommy filled in for Ivan Moody on Five Finger Death Punch’s European arena tour when the vocalist checked into a medical facility.

Tommy started his music career in Brooklyn, New York as a teenager singing in local hardcore bands and he engaged in freestyle rap battles with the neighbourhood’s hopefuls. He even snuck into the nightclubs for his own shows, because he was too young to enter.

In 1996, he formed the band Maniacal Disciple with some friends, Jim Donovan, Steve Perlmutter and Mike Kontaras. They eventually changed their name to Vext based on Wu-Tang’s lyrics and it became Tommy’s nickname in the New York hardcore scene.

In 2005 at the Roadrunner’s 25th anniversary show Tommy was invited to sing with Corey Taylor from Slipknot.

In 2006 Tommy was recruited by Dino Cazares from Fear Factory to be the front man for his new band Divine Heresy. Their debut studio album “Bleed The Fifth” was released in the United States on the 28th of August 2007  by Century Media Records. The album was produced by Logan Mader, formerly of Machine Head and guitarist for Soulfly. “Bleed The Fifth” was met with warm reviews by the critics and fans alike.

Tommy was responsible for the majority of the lyrics which was influenced by the Book of Revelation, natural disasters, war and terrorism.

Due to unresolvable differences between Tommy and Dino Cazares, Tommy parted with Divine Heresy in 2008. Later on bassist Joe Payne and drummer Tim Yeung broke ties with Dino as well.

Snot is an American heavy metal band from Santa Barbara, California that was formed in 1995. Their debut studio album “Get Some” was released in 1997 with Lynn Strait on lead vocals. The band disbanded after Lynn’s death in 1998. In 2008 the band reformed with Tommy on lead vocals. The band did a fall tour in 2008 in the USA in support of DevilDriver. Snot went on hiatus again when the original guitarist Sonny Mayo left the band. In 2014 Snot reunited at the Whiskey a Go Go in Hollywood. They played three more shows in Southern California before going quiet once again.

In 2011 Tommy Vext reformed Vext with members of Mutiny Within, along with guitar virtuoso Angel Vivaldi. The band releseased an EP titled Impernance in 2012 and a year later they released another EP Broke is the New Black.

After his stint with Snot, Vext moved on and formed a new band known as “Westfield Massacre”. The band released their self-titled debut album on Urban Yeti Records 2016. In 2017, Vext began working on a side project with former DevilDriver drummer John Boecklin Vext left Westfield while he was on tour with Five Finger Death Punch.

In 2016 Tommy formed a new band with former DevilDriver drummer John Boecklin, named Bad Wolves. Guitarists Doc Coyle (Vagus Nerve, God Forbid), Chris Cain (Bury Your Dead) and later bassist Kyle Konkiel formerly of In This Moment were recruited for the project. During the summer of 2016 they headed to the studio to start recording the bands’ debut album. They headed off to AudioHammer studios with longtime collaborator Mark Lewis who has worked with Trivium and All That Remains to name a few.

On the 2nd of May 2017, Bad Wolves independently premiered a song titled “Learn To Live” coupled with a music video. In November 2017 it was announced that Bad Wolves had signed with Eleven Seven Music and Zoltan Bathory (founding guitarist of FFDP) became the band’s manager.

Bad Wolves released their debut studio album “Disobey”on the 11th of May 2018 through Eleven Seven Music. The album reached number 23 on the US Billboard 200. In November 2017, the band released their second single “Toast To The Ghost”. On the 18th of January 2018, they released a third single , which was a cover of The Cranberries “Zombie” and it charted on multiple charts. The cover of this song took the band’s reputation to a another level and placed them on everyone’s radar. The Cranberries’ lead singer Dolores O’Riordan was meant to have performed the song with the band, but she passed away prior to recording the song. The music video for the song was released on the 22nd of February 2018, it paid tribute to the singer and the original music video.

The song topped the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart, while the music video was viewed more than 170 million times. The single is certified platinum in Canada, the United States and gold in Germany.

The band toured with Breaking Benjamin, Starset, Shinedown and Five Finger Death Punch for the first half of 2018.

One of the most fascinating parts of Tommy’s story is the home invasion he experienced in 2010. He was attacked by his twin brother when he was high in his own home. His brother is currently serving 17 years behind bars for attempted murder and Tommy had to testify against him.

“Remember When” one of the songs from “Disobey” was written describing Tommy’s childhood and his relationship with his twin brother. It describes two people who lived the exact same life and went through the same hardships, advantages, disadvantages and were ultimately defined as adults by the different choices they made. Their lives reflect the choices that they made as individuals.

I’m in awe by how Tommy handled the adversities he had to face and how he ended up overcoming them. He now helps other creative people face their addictions in order to overcome them and he helps people fight depression. By doing this Tommy feels that he has found his purpose and he passionately embarks on a mission to better others’ lives as well as his own.

If you want to read more about Tommy’s personal life, here is a link to the article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brick-brick/201808/tommy-vext-and-the-deafening-sound-self-termination

Rock Regards, Lauren K

Best 17 Rock Songs of 2017

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Best Rock Songs of 2017

17: Imminence – Up

Imminence, a Swedish band which took me completely by surprise! The song starts out like any other modern rock song and then escalates, becoming more intense with each verse. The band’s material is diverse and their music often crosses over genre boundaries.

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16: Skarlett Riot – Warrior

A high-energy song that is enveloped by powerful female vocals and some truly impressive breakdowns that is enough to get you hooked on to the band’s material. The band incorporates hard rock mixed with a metal edge into their sound which creates a great experience for rock fans. This song stood out to me, because it has so much heart and the drumming creates a solid support base for the song.

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15: Avatar – A Statue Of The King

A truly theatrical experience, as we have come to expect from Avatar. A spectacle of metal perfection and phenomenal musicianship. Avatar is releasing their new album “Avatar Country” on the 12th of January 2018 and I’m salivating!

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14: I Prevail – Come and Get It

I don’t think the band could have compiled a better video to convey the amount of energy and passion they have for what they do. This live performance video montage conveys the raw energy that I Prevail possess. This song is incredible, because it is heavy but at the same time it has great rhythm to it. Throw me in the pit!!

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13: Papa Roach – Born for Greatness

A great arena rocker and a music video to match the energy of the song. Papa Roach delivers a solid crowd-pleaser with this song. An instant way to improve your mood!!

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12: Incubus – Nimble Bastard

Incubus deliver an undeniable groove with this song and lighthearted lyrical content. The video plays out like a meme and you can see the band members having a lot of fun with this one. A refreshing departure from the rock music genre’s heavier subject matter.

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11: While She Sleeps – Empire of Silence

The only way I can describe this song is by comparing it to a roller coaster, from the use of the strategic silences to the smashing drums combined with the switch between clean and unclean vocals. This song is a feast to any metal head’s  ears.

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10: Seether – Let You Down

The lyrics are melancholy and the hook tends to reel in the listener slowly but surely. I’m in love with the visuals of this video and it has been expertly crafted to be creepy while still leaving a lot to the imagination. Art house horror is the only way I feel I can describe the video.

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9: Escape The Fate – Empire

I made the mistake of reading some comments posted on YouTube below this video, which were very negative. I disagree with all of them. This song has grit, energy and fuels the need to head bang. It is a party song and can get you in the mood for the weekend from the first note. I don’t think fans should take it so seriously, it is not meant to be debated about. It is meant to be enjoyed.

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8: Asking Alexandria – Into The Fire

Asking Alexandria released a video for “Into The Fire” that plays out more like a scene straight from Sin City than a music video. I’m definitely not complaining, because I loved every second of it. The highlight of this song, in my opinion, is Danny’s vocals. The song really shows off his vocal range and versatility, not taking anything away from the band’s performance at all.

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7: In This Moment – Roots

The lyrics of the song is empowering and I can’t help but feel that this is an incredibly personal song to Maria Brink. A blistering chorus combined with verses that hypnotize the listener. A solid delivery by the band.

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6: Fozzy – Judas

A charismatic front man combined with an entertaining video supported by solid bass playing surrounded by flames and Marshall speakers, sounds like a recipe for success to me! This describes Fozzy’s latest music video in a nutshell.

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5: Marmozets – Major System Error

The Marmozets are back! A delicious bombardment of guitars, drums topped off with girl power in the form of Becca’s vocals. I can dance and head bang to this song, a rare combination. 😀

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4: Myles Kennedy – Year of the Tiger

I will start by admitting that I’m biased when it comes to Myles Kennedy. He has been working on his solo album since 2009!! It seems like his solo project will finally see the light of day. Year of the Tiger is different to any of Myles’ previous projects, but that was the goal. Myles loves blues and has incorporated that sound into his solo work. His debut album will be released on the 9th of March 2018. This song is refreshing and the lyrical content tells the deeply personal story of the emotions Myles went through as a child when he lost his father. I’m so proud to be a fan.

PS: Myles is launching his solo tour in my home town of Cape Town in 2018! I can hardly contain myself!

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3: Nothing More – Go To War

Grammy nominated rock song, just says it all, doesn’t it? The song is relevant to today’s current political climate and the chorus is incredibly powerful. Jonny Hawkins never holds back and you can definitely tell with this song, his vocal range is impressive as well. The band managed to nab 3 Grammy nominations and I couldn’t be prouder.

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2: Five Finger Death Punch – Gone Away

All of us are well aware of what Five Finger Death Punch are capable of, but I for one did not expect this. The band released a cover of Offspring’s song “Gone Away” and I’m in love with it. I was not aware that Ivan Moody’s voice was capable of the subtleties of this vocal performance. An immaculate performance by the entire band and an instant classic.

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1: Pop Evil – Waking Lions

I’m delighted with the approach that Pop Evil took with this song. The heavier sound compared to their previous album is a pleasant surprise. A soaring chorus framed by heavier verses is refreshing and I have to admit Hayley’s drumming is impeccable. Bottom line….we need more!

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Cheers to 2017!!

It has been a great year for rock music!

Rock Regards,

Lauren K