Tag Archives: dio

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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Black Sabbath-13

13

I did my best to approach Black Sabbath’s newest offering 13 with an open mind. As much as I love the Sabbath legacy there was a lot of turmoil surrounding this. The vile cunt that is Sharon Osbourne did her best to submarine this. She refused to pay original drummer Bill Ward a fair share even though she sued guitarist Tony Iommi for 50 % of the rights to Black Sabbath. See she sued for 50% to insure that all original member got 25% each. That right there is the definition of “fuzzy math”. Apparently Sharon 25% and the reported 4% she actually offered Bill Ward are one in the same. In his place we get Brad Wilk from Rage Against The Machine. To be fair, he does a stand-up job on the throne. We all know that Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler still have it, so the question is about Ozzy. He sounds good but you can tell that producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin processed the shit out of it. It sounds good but it sounds fake.

Everyone heard the first track “God is Dead” before the album release. I think that song is a perfect representation of what 13 is. Song opens with a nice slow doomy riff that is the epitome of the Sabbath sound. It’s a good song but it’s over 8-minutes long. Time length is a big problem on 13. Out of the 8 songs on the record there are 5 of them over 7-minutes long. They are not interesting enough to warrant the length. It comes across like they were stretching, just filling time. Especially when you add in Tony & Geezer always talked about how difficult Ozzy was when they did the 2 songs on that “reunion” album awhile back.

Plus we some recycled ideas too. “Loner” has a pretty cool riff but when Ozzy breaks out his “alright now” from “Sweet Leaf” it’s instantly deflating and you start feeling like you’ve been sold a bill of goods. It gets worse with the follow-up track “Zetgiest” which is an out and out rip-off of “Planet Caravan”. I haven’t seen anything that lazily self plagiarism since Metallica did “The Unforgiven II”.

One of the hurdles that Black Sabbath is unable to clear is that they have been such a huge influence on metal bands. Their sound has been reproduced so many times that when they do it, it sounds like everyone else. When you compare 13 to what Butler and Iommi did on the Heaven & Hell reunion with Dio, something is lacking here. Maybe it’s that Tony was going through cancer, maybe it’s Ozzy not having it and them trying to overcompensate, or maybe Rick Rubin made this a Rick Rubin produced album rather than a Black Sabbath record.

Either way, it stinks.

I guess 13 is an unlucky number.

PS

There is a deluxe edition with 3 more songs on the second disc but when has there ever been better songs as the bonus?

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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Adrenaline Mob-Coverta

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Since I just reviewed Anthrax’s cover album Anthems, I guess it makes sense to do the same for Adrenaline Mob’s collection of covers Coverta. While I was not a fan of their debut album Omerta, maybe someone else’s songs will help change my mind.

It kicks off with “Hive Wire” originally done by the criminally underrated Badlands. It’s a pretty faithful cover but while Russell Allen may be a good vocalist, he pales in comparison to Ray Gillen. All this version does is make me want to go listen to Badlands some more. There is a really rocking version of The Doors “Break On Through”. The band does a nice job in using a funky bass instead of an organ. Adrenaline Mob made this there own song. The same was accomplished with Van Halen’s “Romeo’s Delight. Heavied it up, sped it up, and added a touch from Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” while rounding it out with a pinch of “Top Jimmy”. Speaking of Zepplin, there is a version of “Lemon Song”. While it is a rather basic cover of the song, it really shows off how good of musicians the band is, so it’s acceptable. Sort of finishing it out is “Barracuda” by Heart. This is basically a note for note re-recording and sounds exactly as you think it would. The best thing I can say about it, is that it is the only track that does not have the same crappy guitar tone that permeates throughout the album.

I say “sort of finishes” because there are 3 Ronnie James Dio song’s on here. Granted they cover different bands he sang with, it still seems odd. We have “Stand Up and Shout” from his solo days, “Kill The King” from Rainbow and “Mob Rules” from his Black Sabbath days. All of them are as expected covers and seem more fitting for playing as an encore than expecting someone to play for them. I really wish they would have chose just one of his songs, especially if it was one we haven’t heard countless times.

After this I guess it’s safe to say I am not a fan of Adrenaline Mob. Be it original or cover tunes, I don’t care. Coverta, is a bland collection of songs we have heard before done in exactly the way we thought they would be.

Ughh.

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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Stryper-The Covering

Every time I see a band release one of these all covers albums, I cringe. For the most part they all reek of cash grabs or contract fulfillment. Usually they are without any hint of originality or fun, which is sad because the songs should reflect that music that got them excited as kids. Sadly, The Covering, the collection from Stryper is just like the ones I mentioned. I was curious to see which songs the band chose since everyone knows Stryper for being a Christian hard rock group. Most of the songs they picked are typical of what a group of guys growing up in the early 80’s would have listened to. There are the Scorpions, Black Sabbath, KISS, Ozzy, Maiden, Judas Priest and Van Halen songs present. About the only “surprise” is the opener, a cover of Sweet’s “Set Me Free”. While the band does a nice job in retaining the spirit of the original here, it cannot be said of the others. It all starts to sound like background noise at your local bar with a well produced cover act on stage.

What is most disappointing about The Covering is the song selection. Too many of them were obvious choices or did not fit the bands ability. So I will do something a little different and go track by track and review and offer my suggestion for what they should have done.

Set Me Free”, by The Sweet. I liked this one as it was a little different and also not the obvious song to pick from that bands catalog.

Blackout”, by The Scorpions. Not a bad cover but not a good one either. With Michael Sweet’s high range, one of the Scorps’ slower songs like “Still In Love With You” may have been better. I know that it is a hit but “Blackout” is one of that bands biggest songs as well.

Heaven and Hell”, by Black Sabbath. Great choice of a Dio era Sabbath song and no complaints about this one.

Lights Out”, by UFO. Such a great song and Stryper does it justice. My only other choice for them would have been “Love To Love”.

Carry On My Wayward Son”, by Kansas. This radio rock staple just comes across as so cover band. When I hear this I imagine drunk 50 year-old’s swaying in front of the stage and singing every other line as the struggle with consciousness. I think “Play the Game Tonight” would have been a lot more enjoyable.

Highway Star”, by Deep Purple. This was a bad idea. Robert’s voice sounds way too clean for this and Oz Fox cannot play Blackmore. I may have gone with “Comin Home” or another song that had Coverdale on vocals.

Shout It Out Loud”, by KISS. Not one of KISS’ best songs but we all have KISS songs that we love that we probably shouldn’t. The inherent obstacle with choosing a KISS song is that almost all of them are about sex and that does not jive with Stryper’s belief. So you have to go with a Paul song, especially since his vocals would work for Stryper. “Tomorrow” or maybe “100,000 years”

Over the Mountain”, by Ozzy. This is just plain atrocious. Micheal’s vocals do not work and the guitar playing is horrendous. I would have stayed away from Ozzy because his stuff is so iconic and his vocals do not easily match up with Michael’s range. “Rock N Roll Rebel” would have been the best choice just on song title alone.

The Trooper”, by Iron Maiden. As bad as you think the Ozzy track is, this is ten times worse. Just a really, really bad idea. It reeks of cover band at your corner sports bar so much that you actually feel bad. If anything they should have chosen one of Maiden’s poppier tracks to better ft them. “Can I Play with Madness” would have been so much better of a choice.

Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest. Again sports bar cover band here as well. Just very very blah and with these choices of heavier bands it sounds like the band is in over there head. They seem a pace behind and it does not work. “Love Bites” or “Hot Rockin” if someone would have asked me.

On Fire” by Van Halen. I do applaud the choice on this one. Not an obvious one but once again, the original vocals do not translate well to Stryper. God made only one Diamond Dave and we should all respect that. You figure that of all the bands, Stryper would know that. I really wish the band would have showed a little self deprecation and done “Runnin With The Devil” the high range would fit and the band would have gotten major points for it.

Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. Covering Zeppelin is a very tricky endeavor. They are such an iconic band and their stuff is so well known that any deviation is almost heresy. So this is a almost no-win situation and they did a good job here.

The album finishes up with the lone original track, “God”. I will let you guess what the subject matter is but sonically it is definitely classic Stryper

After the disc finishes playing I do not know how many people will be anxiously waiting to replay it. Only a handle full of the covers are decent and while the new song is good, it is not that good. With The Covering, Stryper showed everyone the bands that caused them to start playing. While I think every band has makes up this kind of list, this one should have been left in the jam room.

 

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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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