Unleashed Power Biography
Last updated: 02/14/2003 01:10:26 AM
The latest release from Unleashed Power is an E.P. titled “Absorbed”. It is a compilation of original tracks presenting a musical history of the band. In a way, the E.P. takes you on a backwards journey through U.P.'s existence, beginning with a dynamic brand new song, moving into a few masterful pieces from the Mindfailure sessions, and tossing in an almost forgotten favorite retrieved from the depths of a closet. So many other bands would have resorted to doing an E.P. containing covers, but songwriter and guitar player Ken Jacobsen has far too much original material to waste time with others’ work. That's one of the exhilarating aspects of U.P. - they offer a never-ending surge of innovative sounds.
Ken Jacobsen (formerly known as Ken Jack) is truly the mastermind behind U.P. (Unleashed Power). From writing mind-tangling, socially-relevant lyrics to performing intricate guitar riffs and breaks, Jacobsen has been the driving force demanding excellence from himself and the other band members. From the debut album "Quintet of Spheres" to the demanding "Mindfailure" and the most recent E.P. "Absorbed", Jacobsen has been the songwriter and producer of the material. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, but raised throughout Europe and the U.S., Jacobsen's international perspective and experience is evident in his writing, playing, and producing. He has never stayed within the traditional heavy metal confines that many other bands have fallen captive to.
Ken's first band, Avalon, recorded an album in Denmark featuring John Mathias and Metallica-famed Sweet Silence Studios' engineer, Flemming Rasmussen. The subsequent breakup of Avalon brought Ken to New York City (1988) where he formed the solid Unleashed Power lineup. This lineup produced two demos, "Blindfolded" and "Quintet of Spheres", which ultimately became the full length CD release of “Quintet of Spheres”. However, it was developing, producing, and performing "Mindfailure" that enabled Ken's brilliance to truly shine. The level of intensity required at every step of this production demonstrated what Jacobsen is really all about: peak performance, testing the limits, and ultimate perfection.
Avid fans know that “Quintet of Spheres” was not only the band's first release (1994), but also the one to set the tone for the tunes to come. Spheres demonstrated the band's ability to produce intense riffing, heavy offbeat drumming, and lyrics that make you use your gray matter. It is these traits that have compelled fans to keep a close watch on U.P.'s new releases-but it's the band's incessant demonstration of unyielding intensity that has stimulated a cult-like passion for the band. In addition U.P. is widely considered to be one of the premiere innovative, technically cutting edge bands of the times.
Unfortunately, the band has not only experienced triumphant highs. In the summer of 1994, 27-year-old bassist, John Lievano faced a tragic death by breaking his neck in a freak train accident. Drummer Ed Owen's disillusionment with the destitute prospect of finding a replacement and recording another album, sans label, culminated with his departure. A new era for U.P. - Unleashed Power was imminent.
Ken - who had long been familiar with Jörg Michael's drumming on the classic Mekong Delta albums-initiated contact. Jörg's chops and experience infused U.P.'s songs with a new dimension of verve and punch. Although the material would stretch his abilities to the limit, Jörg enthusiastically embraced this new challenge. Since he yearned to play heavy progressive material once more, the talks became reality culminating with the two spending time in Germany rehearsing and recording the drum tracks for the "Mindfailure" CD in a WW II bunker.
The course was now set for a heavier, heartier sound, but ex-singer John Mathias realized he did not desire to pursue this new punishing style of music. Enter Brian T. Chaffee, a vocalist that leaves a lasting impression, the natural choice for a replacement. Brian's talents and flexible, gut-wrenching vocal style was an appreciated addition to the lineup.
One of the reasons U.P. can repeatedly produce intensely forceful music is the band's thorough commitment to impeccable performance and musical quality. During the 1995 Mindfailure recording, band members were reputed to have done outrageous acts to maintain the focus, dexterity and strength required to sustain the level of excellence they expected of themselves. Jörg Michael forced himself to abstain from sex (much to his wife's chagrin) to enable him to do the intricate double bass drum work. Lead guitarist, Ken Jacobsen, would do a regimented work-out before he could even begin the performance. Vocalist, Brian T. Chaffee, would refuse to speak to anyone during the entire recording session, so as to not wear his voice out.
The sudden death of former U.P. bassist, John Lievano, prompted the search for another bassist. Jörg introduced Tony Spagone to Ken after the two met at a rehearsal session in Germany. Tony Spagone's appearance would only be as a session player, and New Yorker John Balistreri would eventually join as a band member.
"Mindfailure" was truly Jacobsen's attempt at a masterpiece level of perfection. His accomplishment of this goal is entirely evident on the C.D. You've got to hear it to believe it!
With the completion of this new and brutal recording and extremely positive response, tour offers were laid on the table. Unfortunately, when confronted with the ensuing live shows, Brian, consumed with personal obligations, realized he wasn't the man to perform the tour and left the band. With live shows scheduled and two songs remaining to be completed for the new "Absorbed" E.P., Texan Len Jarrell stepped in to perform with awe striking power and total conviction.
It is into this era that we are now moving. From the band's embryonic start as Avalon to the regenerating band of today, U.P. will continue to enthrall and entrance heavy metal enthusiasts around the world. "We will not go away." - U.P.