Tag Archives: anthrax

V/A-This Is Your Life-A Tribute To Ronnie James Dio

 

Ronnie_James_Dio_-_This_Is_Your_Life_cover

Very rarely are “tribute” albums a good thing. Either they are modern artist playing classic rock songs because the label thinks it’s a good idea, KISS My ASS or Zeppelin-Encomion. Or you get gimmick-y crap like Country Does Metal. Ugh. Lastly, there’s what I call the Cleopatra effect. A label uses a group of older artists to do classic rock tributes. The label Cleopatra had an assembly line of 80’s rockers doing songs of 70’s acts. It became comical to see Jizzy Pearl of Love/Hate or Joe Lynn Turner on every release from Cleopatra. Very rarely do you get a tribute album of well known acts doing songs in the same genre of an iconic artist.
Lo and behold, here comes This Is Your Life-A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio. They did a great job of collecting metal artists for this record and the songs they covered range throughout his career. As an added bonus most of these songs are new recordings. With this kind of an album I think it’s best to go track by track.
Starting us off is “Neon Nights” by Anthrax. They do a nice and faithful version of the song. It’s a perfect album opener. If you heard last year’s Anthems you know they can do great covers. Following that is is Tenacious D’s “The Last In Line”. It has a nice acoustic opening but once it kicks in… the only way to go is down…… I love these guys but doing an electric metal song doesn’t work. Plus Jack Black does not have the pipes for this song. We are then greeted with Adrenaline Mob’s “The Mob Rules”. This was done on their covers EP a while back and I was not a fan of it then and still feel the same. Most of Stone Sour tries their hand at “Rainbow In The Dark”. They are joined by guitarist Satchel of Steel Panther fame aka Russ Parish from Paul Gilbert’s band and Fight. Doing such a well known song can be tricky but they put their spin on it. It’s a little heavier and just a tad faster. What is interesting is Corey Taylor’s vocal choice. His delivery is very restrained thereby letting the guitar riff to shine. At first it’s surprising because you expect him to go big but this works a lot better.
Young ones Halestorm try on “Straight Through The Heart”. The band proudly wears it influences on its’ sleeves and have done a couple of covers EP’s already. I know I’m supposed to like them but something about them doesn’t click. Lizzy Hale has a killer voice and on the second half of the song she steps it up a notch and it’s is killer. However the band is very blah and the guitar playing is bar band level. I know her brother is the drummer but she needs to be with some players.
The first track released was “Starstruck” with Biff Byford of Saxon singing with Motorhead. Just typing that sentence is a metalhead’s wet dream. Listening to it is even better. Biff’s gravel works great with Motorhead’s dirty delivery. It’s just so simple and so great. Another legacy act is next with the Scorpions doing “The Temple of the King”. The Rainbow track fits right in the Scorpions wheelhouse. The mid pace song is perfect for Klaus Meine’s vocals. It sounds like it should have been on their MTV Unplugged album. The Metal Queen herself, Doro gives us “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” and it is as glorious as you would think. When Ronnie passed they did a couple of tribute shows and she sang this song. It was done awhile back but chances are most people haven’t heard it. Another already available track is “Holy Diver” by Killswitch Engage. Done when Howard Jones was still the singer, it’s still a pretty cool cover and even better video.
Glenn Hughes takes the lead alongside Dio veterans Simon Wright, Rudy Sarzo, and Craig Goldy on “Catch The Rainbow”. Since this is very ballad-like it reminds me of some of the Black Sabbath stuff Glenn did. I like that he chose a song that he could do use his blues voice but it doesn’t really work. Next is one of my favorite songs Ronnie sang.”I” ,from the Black Sabbath-the Dio Years, is better than anything on that gawd awful 13 record. Former Lynch Mob singer Oni Logan is joined by Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, and Brian Tichy, Musically its good but Oni cannot match the defiance that was so evident on the original.
One of the tracks I was really looking forward to was “Man On The Silver Mountain” with Rob Halford on vocals. When Dio dropped out of Sabbath when they were going to open for Ozzy’s retirement shows, Rob stepped in. He did a terrific version of “Children Of The Sea” so my expectations were high. Unfortunately time has caught up with the Metal God and his voice is flat and very uninspiring.
The mighty Metallica do a medley on “Ronnie Rising”. It’s made up of “A Light In the Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King”. It’s tremendous. Any long time fan will know that they love to do covers and it shows here. Especially on “Stargazer/Kill The King” sections.
The album ends with Dio himself singing the title track. It’s just him and a piano and it’s phenomenal. A little heard track and it shows what a powerhouse he was.
There are some other songs depending on what version you buy. The digital download has “Buried Alive” by Jasta. I like it since we get to hear Jamey actually sing and this track works for him. The Japanese version has Stryper’s “Heaven and Hell” which was available on their covers LP from a couple years back. It’s good but they changed some lyrics and that kind of bugged me. Dio Disciples crank out “Stand Up and Shout”. I don’t have that version but it’s either Oni Logan or Ripper Owens singing so it should be good.
As with any tribute there are some hit or misses. As a whole This Is Your Life is a fitting tribute for Ronnie and with all the proceeds going to the Stand Up and Shout cancer fund that was set up after his passing it’s even more fitting.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space

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Anthrax-Anthems

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Cover albums can be hit or miss and have a tendency to be a cash cow for the band. Lots of time they should just be called contractual obligation. Thrash metal icons Anthrax have just released Anthems a 6-track nod to their youth. I say their youth because all the songs are from the 70’s just very beefed up. Since there is only 7 tracks, I’ll go one by one.

First up is the title track originally done by Rush. I am not a Rush fan, only had a couple of their albums. However, Anthrax does a real good job on this Fly By Night original. The band chunks it up some and Joey Belladonna does a terrific job in singing Geddy Lee’s unique vocals. Next is “T.N.T.” by AC/DC’ All I can say is “eh”. Does anyone really need another AC/DC cover? Unless you are going to do it death style like Six Feet Under did, why bother. That is followed by album radio mainstay “Smokin’” from Boston. This is my favorite song off Anthems. Anthrax stays true to to the original just heavy-ing it some. Big highlight is the outstanding organ work from Fred Mandel. This is a perfect party song.

When the news leaked of what songs were on this, the one shocker was “Keep On Runnin” from Journey. While it is not of the best known tracks from their classic album Escape, it is still a curious choice. How are a bunch of New York metalheads going to treat a San Fran pop hit? Thrash the fuck out it. It is played faster than it has ever been played before and Belladonna’s high register works well mimicking Steve Perry’s voice.

Then some familiar artists get a second song covered. Anthrax had already done a Cheap Trick song before, “Auf Weidersehn” from the Sounds Of Black Noise expanded version. This time around it is “Big Eyes”. Music wise it is fine, but here Joey’s voice doesn’t work for me. I really wish they would have done “Gonna Raise Hell”, that would have killed. The other second timer is Thin Lizzy. On Sounds they did an awesome version of “Cowboy Song” this go round we get “Jailbreak”. I have the same feelings about this track that I do about “T.N.T.” Why bother? Again, Joey’s vocals do not work here. On the original Phil Lynott’s voice drips with a confidence and swagger that Belladonna can only dream about. I believe that “Cold Sweat” would have been a much better choice but if they wanted to stay in that same era for Lizzy, “Waitin For An Alibi” would have been an interesting choice.

The album is rounded out with two versions of “Crawl” from last years Worship Music. An album version and the orchestral version which sounds like if one of these “sad bastard” metal bands covered it.

All in all, Anthems is a good buy. While I do not love all the choices they are still enjoyable when they pop up on iTunes. Plus it is only $7 so you can’t be all that mad.

Oops, almost forgot that there is several different album covers for Anthems. The one I got has an homage of the Boston artwork. Looks pretty cool. Tough to tell which version you will get as the slipcase only has a small cut out for you to view the artwork.

Again, adjust for the fact you only pay $7 for this. This is too much math involved for me to re-calculate this. Sorry, I was a history major.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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1st Annual Year In Metal Wrap-up (a little late)

Everyone has read countless lists of top 10’s or Top 20’s or whatever. While I love making and reading these lists as much as the next guy, I want to do something a little different. So here is the 1st Annual, even though it cannot be annual if it is the first, Year in Metal Wrapup.

Album of the Year


Bad City-Welcome To the Wasteland

I came across this album from the good folks at Metal Excess. They gave it a great review and I love it even more. It has to be one of the most fun hard rock albums I have heard in years. The closest example I can think of is when I first heard The Darkness. It has the same throwback 70’s rock feel but sprinkled in with a little 80’s esthetic, namely the “gang vocals” that permeate many of the songs. However, it does not sounded dated as quality knows no age. The cherry on this musical sundae is “Call Paul Stanley”. The four-and a half minute ode to rockstar dreams, name checks the legendary KISS frontman all the while paying homage in the best song of the year.  I cannot recommend this album enough and guarantee that you will like it. Not a money back guarantee because I am broke but you get the idea.  Go buy this album.  NOW!!

Video

Runner up-Overkill-Ironbound

Surprise of the Year


RATT-Infestation

With the 80’s hard rock nostalgia running rampant you had to wander if this was just a cash grab. The propensity for disaster was high. The last time anyone heard of RATT was with ex-Love/Hate vocalist Jizzy Pearl out front and former Crue-er John Corabi singing backups and rhythm guitar. Carlos Cavazo was recruited to replace Corabi and original singer Stephen Pearcy returned. The band could have easily done festivals and shows playing the old stuff. Thankfully what they did was hunker down in the studio and cranked out a terrific slab of hard rock goodies that serve as enduring legacy of the band. It hits you from the go on “Eat me Up Alive” with its’ sexually tinged lyrics and trademark Warren DeMartini riffs. Every song fits easily in to the RATT catalog and if you saw them live this past summer you can attest to that.

Runner up-Accept-Blood Of the Nations

Disappointment of the Year

Monster Magnet-Mastermind

Now I love me some Monster Magnet. I love that mainman Dave Wyndorf has stuck to a formula that only he knows. His brand of stoner/space rock is unique unto itself and the fact that his lyrics seem to be written as if they were from a stream of conscience acid induced rant, just seems to make it better. Mastermind is not a bad album per se, it is just not nearly as good as the previous Monster Magnet releases. There are several good tracks on here “Dig That Hole” and lead single “Gods and Punks” That track is accompanied by a terrific video. Those songs aside, the album just feels very lethargic, I know that may seem ironic since this is Monster Magnet, but  on all the other albums the slower stuff had a swing or a groove to it that drew you in. Mastermind just seems to sit there at times, leaving you very unfulfilled. 

Runner-up-Stone Temple Pilots-S/T

Best Metal Event of the Year

The Big Four Shows

As time has unfolded, the chances of seeing Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax all together has seemed very slight. While some had played with one another on previous tours, a package that included all the Big 4 of Thrash Metal just seemed like chatter. There were so many hurdles for this to come together. Metallica is the biggest band in the world and they do not need to. Megadeth, is burdened with Dave Mustaine and his public feuds with members of Slayer and Metallica. Slayer, had been feuding with Mustaine on personal and musical levels. Anthrax while always up for a show had gone through 3 singers in the span of a year. So when the good fortune happened that this came true, it was a headbangers dream come true. The bands played a series of festivals in Europe and the shows were  immortalized in a DVD set for all to see. They were even shown in theaters in the States and in true metal tradition, the cops were called. Although they did not make it here to the States all the acts have indicated that is something they would love to do. Hopefully the stars will aline for that.

Runner Up-?

Worst Metal Event of the Year

Ronnie James Dio loses his fight with cancer.

When word spread that Dio had died of caner is rocked the metal community. It was only a month before that he had said how good he felt and that his prospects were looking good. Fans had just seen him at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards and it seemed like he was going to beat it. However as strong as Dio may have been, cancer was much stronger. Losing anyone to cancer is horrible but when you lose someone that seemed liked a part of the family to millions worldwide it is devastating. His passing was sad because he was still singing great and releasing quality music. While that may be a selfish  attitude as a fan, Dio being there for as long as he did was an inspiration for many and provided enjoyment that cannot be measured.

We see musicians die every year, that is not a new thing. Losing Dio or legendary metal manager Debbie Abono to caner is sad. Seeing some junkie musician die at their own hands while sad in one way is not deserving of the same emotion. When people like the formers pass, it let’s us know how fleeting life actually is. We are coming upon a time where many of the founders are getting up in age and nature will take its’ course. The obits will start to fill as the legends pass on. And while we will mourn the loss and fondly remember of the joy they brought us, it will also remind us of our own mortality.

There has been some good come out of Dio’s passing. Outreach of cancer awareness in the metal community has come to the forefront. With Ronnie’s and others passing’s, more and more headbangers are hopefully having the necessary checkups done. Wendy Dio, is heading the Stand Up And Shout Foundation and raising funds for cancer research. They recently donated over $100,000 to M.D, Anderson Hospital in Houston, the facility where Ronnie received treatment.

Runner Up-Slash defacing his Guns N Roses legacy by having  that talentless ho bag Fergie sing on Sweet Child O’Mine.

Most Anticipated For This Year

New Mastodon album

This past year was a little light in “holy shit” releases. Last year there was new ones from Lamb of God, Megadeth, and Slayer, among other notables. With the possibility of the Georgia quartet delivering a new platter of metal goodness, I am a twitter like a schoolgirl seeing Justin Beiber. It will be a great day when I open the Sunday ad for Best Buy and see Mastodon listed next to whatever Youtube sensation or middle-class gangster wannabe.

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