Tag Archives: hair metal

The REAL Top 10 Hair Metal Bands aka screw you Loudwire

 

I love music lists.

I know they are mainly designed just to infuriate readers who will then hopefully share the link and generate clicks. Still, I love them. Especially when they are horribly wrong. One of the recent ones that fit this criteria is from Loudwire. The just released the 10 Best Hair Metal Bands. I expected this to be off since everyone that works at Loudwire probably weren’t born when this genre was at the top

So in another excuse to take someone else’s idea and write something about, here is the actual 10 Best Hair Metal Bands.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, I loathe the moniker “hair metal”. It was a term thought up by music writers that had come into power with the grunge/alt rock wave. It was their not so clever way to diminish and invalidate the genre that they didn’t like. In all genre’s of music there were great bands and then the waves after of horrible imitators.

Also, let’s loosely define what “hair metal” is. For me I say it is hard rock with a commercial sensibility. A buddy came up with the term “hard pop” and I think that’s fair. There has to be either a dreamboat of a lead singer or a shred meister on guitar. Lyrics should have a bit of a blue streak to them. Power ballads are not a must but extremely encouraged.

Anyway, here is the list from Loudwire.

10. Dokken
9. Whitesnake
8. Cinderella
7. Poison
6. Ratt
5. Skid Row
4. W.A.S.P.
3. Twisted Sister
2. Def Leppard
1. Mötley Crüe

The list as a whole is not bad but there are a couple big mistakes. Two of them should not be on it. W.A.S.P. is not a hair metal band. They were more shock rock and traditional metal, even though they did dip their toes in the hair metal pond with the excellent power ballad “Forever Free”.

The other band that shouldn’t be on the list is Twisted Sister. Being honest, they are a glorified one hit wonder. While Stay Hungry is an excellent album the rest of their output is “eh”. Not to undercut the impact of Stay Hungry, more specifically the videos. However, one good album does not warrant being on this list.

If you listen to the Hair Nation channel on Sirius XM you will hear several acts that are not Hair Metal. Tesla is just a straight up rock band. Queensryche are a metal band that just had a big power ballad. Scorpions were extremely popular in the 70’s beforehand.

The other band I am removing is Poison. While they were an extremely popular act. One that you could argue are the poster boys for the genre, they just aren’t as good as the others.

10-Def Leppard-There is no denying how awesome their first 4 LP’s are. I listened to High N Dry the other day and it is still a mother trucker. So good. The reason I have them this low is because how they have distanced themselves from the genre and fanbase that loved them. In hindsight, it may have been a smart move since they are still playing big shows. However, I’d argue that it is because they were one of the biggest acts of that time.

9-White Lion-Pretty boy lead singer

Shredding guitar god

Huge power ballad √

While they did have three keys to this genre, they were also a really good band. 4 solid albums is nothing to sneeze at. As a whole they hold up better than one would think. Plus, I love their cover of Radar Love. Lastly, the fact that after the band broke up, guitarist Vito Bratta just said “fuck it!!” and left the music industry is bad ass.

8-Warrant-There are several bands that were severely harmed by their biggest hit. Extreme and Saigon Kick were so different than the songs they became known for. While “Cherry Pie” was a big hit and a popular video, it became an anchor for the band. It’s a shame because they were so much more. I remember driving and listening to Z-Rock, anyone remember that? I heard this heavy yet catchy song that blew my mind. When the DJ said it was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Warrant I was dumbfounded. Previously, they were just a band that was there but that song changed my mind. Then they released the acoustic version of “I Saw Red” and was all in. But the “Cherry Pie” video with all it’s over the top cliché was the perfect touchstone for naysayers. Unfortunate because the band never got a fair chance withtheir follow-up Dog Eat Dog an oustanding album. Even their “grunge” album Ultraphobic is good. Plus, the two albums they have recorded with new singer Robert Mason hold their own with the catalog.

7-Cinderella-This is another band that is wrongfully pigeon-holed. When you look at the cover of their first album, they are totally glammed out. Because of that I think they are thought of as a Poison clone when they are clearly not. The sound is a lot heavier than one thinks. Tom Keifer’s voice is one of the more unique ones plus being a fantastic songwriter too. Cinderella really made a leap from Night Songs to Long Cold Winter. Heartbreak Station was a slip though. Keifer’s throat problems have hurt the band more than once tour-wise hindering their growth. Every time they seemed poise to have a comeback and do something big it ended up not happening. Plus, they made the most awesome commercial for a chili dog stand..

6-Dokken-It’s funny researching all these bands, it seems like 4 albums in and it goes off the rails. Same with Dokken but I get why they broke up, Don is kind of an ass and George is no saint himself. The band has an interesting backstory in that Don essentially joined George’s band yet somehow they ended up using Don’s last name. In between all the ego clashes and silliness, they released some essential albums. Great mix of a commercial sound with a heaviness to it. Plus Lynch was a monster player. Even their comeback album Dysfunctional is good. It was originally released in Japan simply titled Dokken. It sold so well that Elektra in the States picked it up, added some songs and remixed it. Get the original Japanese version as it sounds more like classic Dokken while the US version tries to make them sound alternative. It still sold over 300k copies which is amazing at that time. Since then been a lot of misses and drama. The Erase the Slate album with Reb Beach on guitar is severely overlooked. I think most of the criticism of the band nowadays is because of the band fighting than the music. Shame.

5-RATT-It has always amazed me how overlooked RATT are. I don’t know if it’s because they were one of the first bands to break through but they have a fantastic catalog. The 5 studio albums have at least 2 hits per. That doesn’t even include their EP with “You Think You’re Tough” arguably their best song. They never had the big power ballad that others did but I kind of respect them for not forcing one. Warren DeMartini was the requisite guitar hero and he’s still held on high regard. Bonus points for their comeback album Infestation being so good it holds its own. The legal fighting over who holds the band name has not helped the bands profile though.

4-Whitesnake-Now some may wonder how I can include Whitesnake here when I left off the Scorpions since both bands were active in the 70’s. One, it’s my list. Two, Whitesnake was basically a blues band until John Sykes joined the band and guitar driven, stripper anthems emerged. I have always said if there is a Stripping Hall Of Fame, Whitesnake should be in there. The amount of dollar bills that went flying because songs from the ’87 album came on is innumerable. The album before it, Slide It In is often overlooked and is the blueprint for ‘87. While the videos of Tawne Kittaen and multiple Jaguars looks silly, the songs still hold up after all these years. The lyrics are dripping with sexual innuendo that became passe, listening to them now they just seem fun. A deep dive is the import album Starker in Tokyo, an acoustic album with just Dave and Adrian Vandenberg. The last two releases Good To Be Bad and Forevermore should not be overlooked.

3-Skid Row-Rolling Stone magazine once declared Sebastian Bach as the last genetically engineered front man. While it has been decades since they wrote that I still thinks it holds true. He was like David Lee Roth with an anger streak. He’s tall and good looking with unbelievable pipes and he knows it. They had the huge power ballad but they were able to not be defined by it. Amazingly they got heavier as they went along. Seeing the video for “Slave To The Grind” after being bombarded by “ I Will Remember You” the previous year was like seeing a color TV the first time. You have to remember on this album they took Pantera out as their opener. After that came Subhuman Race, released in 1995 and is one of the greatest albums that most people never heard. I understand some will say I have them too high since they ostensibly had only 3 albums and most only heard of two.

They need to revisit the catalog.

2-Motley Crüe– It’s tempting to put this band at number one just because of their autobiography The Dirt. Seriously, that book is a degenerate bible. And I mean that in a good way. Nonetheless, the band’s music is pretty legendary. They ended on Dr. Feelgood, their biggest album which is highly unusual. Motley seemed to go up a rung on every album while changing their look and style. Even weirder they changed the logo every album too. No one has ever done that. They sounded so raw on Too Fast For Love that it’s almost punk. It’s a shame Elektra cleaned it up the mix, that’s why you should try to find the original copy on Leathur Records . I don’t know if it’s a demerit but for me their best album is Motley Crue the one without Vince Neil. John Corabi added so much as a singer and lyricist it’s a shame we didn’t get to hear more. Still there are hits after hits on the Neil ones. Look at the setlist for the retirement shows and there are at least a half dozen songs they could’ve added. I know I should take off points for their obvious “going through the motions” retirement tour. Tommy’s drum kit messing up on the last show was an unfortunate yet fitting coda for them.

1-Winger-OK. I know people are calling me names after seeing I have Winger at number 1. I don’t care. I think they are the best band of this genre. Forget about the videos of Kip dancing around and concentrate on the music. Incredibly well crafted hard rock. They were the perfect package. The band are all incredibly competent musicians. Kip studied classical music before playing with Alice Cooper where he met guitarist/keyboardist Paul Taylor. Reb Beach had been a sought after session guitarist and drummer Rod Morgenstein played with the Dixie Dregs. Plus they had the songs. Their MTV popularity was what killed them when Beavis and Butthead came in to popularity. A real shame because they had just released Pull, a truly great album. If given a chance I think people would see the growth they always accused the band of not being capable of. Winger broke up but got back together for IV. After that was Karma and lastly Better Days Comin‘. The band has figured out a schedule to work around everyone’s solo stuff and get back together and make great music. That freedom allows the band to relax and just be themselves. They don’t seem to run from their history like others. Time has passed and on and the line “She’s Only Seventeen” gets changed to “She’s Only 43” at shows nowadays. It’s perfectly pays homage to the song while acknowledging that everyone has gotten older. Older but still having fun.

So there its is. I doubt many, if any, will agree with my list. That’s fine. If you haven’t listened to any of the albums I used to justify a bands rating. I urge you to give it a spin and see if I changes your mind.

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Sweet & Lynch-Only To Rise

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Geez, another project album?

Really?

This one features Michael Sweet of Stryper fame on vocals joined by the magical fingers of guitarist George Lynch. Somehow these two men who have been creating music for most of their lives came up with the name Sweet & Lynch.

Ugh.

That “moniker” does not reek of creative genius for the prospective buyer. Band name aside, the prospect of these two guys working together is intriguing. The last Stryper album was good as was Michael’s subsequent solo offering. The same can be said of George’s latest output. The two Lynch Mob EP’s were terrific and his other project band, KXM, was on many people’s Top 10 lists. Also have to mention that the band is rounded out with the rhythm section of James Lomenzo and Brian Tichy. Two very capable veterans that have played together and with a variety of acts,

One of the main reasons this intrigued me so much was to hear Michael Sweet away from Stryper’s safety net. I was never really a big fan of them. The religious stuff was a bit too heavy handed plus the outfits were just silly. The prospect of him being able to shun those restraints is very appealing.

Sweet & Lynch sound exactly as you might think, a more melodic sounding Lynch Mob. At times it does sound a bit more Stryper-ish. That is heard right from the get go on “The Wish”. It gets a bit slinkier on “Dying Rose” with it’s Lynch Mob sound but Michael’s voice gives it that something extra. His high pitched vocals return on “Recover”. With George’s playing it really hearkens back to the glory days. Now the track that George shows off the most on is “Divine”. The guitar sound is so nasty sounding it’s almost pornographic. Only To Rise ends with the title track, probably my favorite song on the album. Brian Tichy’s double bass drumming really amps it up and makes it one of the heaviest tracks any of the guys has done.

With the pedigree of these two you expect a power ballad. Naturally there are a couple with “Love Stay” being the best. The rhythm section really help and takes a song that could have been very generic into something a lot more interesting. “Me Without You” is a nice one as well, though it seem to echo Dokken’s “Alone Again”.

Purely accidental I’m sure.

Sadly there are a couple of misses here. “Stretch in Numbers” sounds like they never knew which way to take the song. The keyboard is so out front you wonder if George just forgot to play on it. Then there’s “Hero Zero” which has some of the silliest lyrics I’ve heard in a long time. The hero is a zero, he’s just a highwayman. That’s bad. So bad that it ruins what could of been a good song.

It’s a shame that the new release shelf has been flooded with so many of these projects. I think fans may have soured on the gimmick-ness of these “dream projects” and in turn they overlook the ones that are actually good. Sweet & Lynch is one of those good ones with Only To Rise delivering on it’s promise of mixing together Stryper and Dokken into a audibly tasty treat. If you are a fan of either of those bands I recommend Sweet & Lynch wholeheartedly.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-buy it as a used CD

$1.00-streaming it on Spotify

$0-Not worth the drive space

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Big Trouble-Long Start To A Short Career

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After finding this under the pile of other new releases, several things came to mind. Why does the name Big Trouble sound familiar? How old is this? Is this another reissue of a lost album? If this is new how in the hell how has no one used this name before?
This EP from Big Trouble is new material but they are an old band. Long Start To A Short Career was released on Retrospect a label that specializes in finding demo’s and albums from bands that never quite made it. Big Trouble is one of those bands that got close but never got their “big break”. Despite creating a substantial following in the Southeast the dastardly flannel wearing boys from Seattle shifted the musical winds.
Upon listening to Long Start, this sounds like they are left over songs from 2 decades ago. “What’s Going On?” is very reminiscent of Roth era Van Halen complete with a wise cracking banter. It makes me think of all those Swedish and Norwegian bands that are coming out now sounding like they are 1989 LA bands playing at Gazzari’s. Everyone seems to be a parody of one another. Not a scintilla of originality and worst of it’s boring. I can handle something being unoriginal, everyone rips off everyone, but when it is boring that is unforgivable.
The best track on here is “Now You See Me” a solid rock tune. Basic song with a nice hook and no overtly sexual lyrics from a guy in his mid to late 40’s. Hey, I’m the same age so I know how creepy it is. That’s kind of a problem with bands like this doing 80’s hard rock. David Lee Roth and Taime Downe can get away with overtly sexual stuff because that’s what they’re known for, they built up cache. Bob in Detroit sounds really icky to anyone not knowing who he is.
I almost feel bad hammering these guys because they got back together and made something. That is to be commended. However, I wish they would do more songs like “Now You See Me” and less of “Candyland”.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-buy it as a used CD

$1.00-streaming it on Spotify
$0-Not worth the drive space

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Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators-World On Fire

Slash_-_World_on_Fire

 

You have to give Slash a lot of credit. Out of all the members of Guns N Roses he has had the most success. From Snakepit to Velvet Revolver to this new band. I really do like them but I really hate the name. The quartet is billed as Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. So out of the four guys, two get mentioned. The Conspirators must feel like Andrew Ridgley when Wham started getting referred to as Wham featuring George Michael.

World On Fire is their second album they has made. If you’ve never heard Myles Kennedy sing before, The Alter Bridge singer is a nice fit and has a very unique high pitched style similar to Axl but with a bit more modern feel. The Conspirators are the rhythm section of Todd Kearns on bass and drummer Brent Fitz behind the throne. Brent was in Union the tragically overlooked band that also had John Corabi and Bruce Kulick in it.

 

There’s a lot to like on this album. It kicks off amazingly with the title track, a perfect mix of classic and modern hard rock. I think the band is at its’ best when it does that. At times it does feel like it is at odds with itself. You start off with the aforementioned track then it’s followed by “Shadow Life”a decent rocker but very dour. It seems that they wanted to show how modern they were right upfront. Being diverse is great but that song placement is not. Especially since it’s followed by another great rockin’ track in “Automatic Overdrive”. I think that song along with others like “Wicked Stone” are a nice representation of the melding of Slash’s and Myles hard rock backgrounds.

 

One of my favorites is “Bent To Fly” which is best described as an upbeat power ballad. It has a lot of beef to it but enough sensitivity and slowness for the ladies. Just like the ad for Monster Ballads said “Every bad boy has a soft side.”

 

If you look at the liner notes you can see that all the songs I mentioned are at the very beginning. You will also see that there are 17 tracks on World On Fire. 17!! SEVENTEEN!! That is a lot for a single disc, actually it’s too much. I think an album is best with 10-12 songs. So World on Fire has 5 to 7 too many tracks. That excess is obvious as the songs are not necessarily bad but just blah. If the album ended with “Dirty Girl” it would have been great. The back half has two songs over 6 minutes a piece. Ugh. I hate to criticize an artist for giving the fans too much but if they would have whittled the album down a bit it would have been a much better experience.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-but it as a used CD
$1.00-streaming it on Spotify
$0-Not worth the drive space

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Jeff LaBar-One For The Road

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I guess it’s fitting that Cinderella’s guitarist Jeff Labar has released a solo album since his band mate Tom Keiffer put one out last year. Now it’s common knowledge that Tom was the main man and songwriter and his album highlighted that. So expectations could reasonably be low for Jeff’s solo debut One For The Road. After a couple listens a couple things pop out. One, Jeff is a big Led Zeppelin fan and has no qualms with paying homage. Two, there is no way I would let him date my sister.
The Zeppelin thing first. There is no mistake that Jimmy Page played a major influence in Jeff’s musical awakening. The instrumental “Ode To Page” is a clear nod in both music and title. The piece evokes the acoustic openings of several Zep classics. “Muse” also has that same fell but more of the meat of the song. “Hello or Goodbye” is a terrific power ballad that reminds me of John Corabi. The rest of the album is made up of solid but uneventful hard rock songs. They’re the kinds of songs that you don’t seek out but don’t fast forward when the pop up on iTunes. Jeff does not have the strongest of voices but he does a good job in knowing what he can do.
Now onto why I said I wouldn’t let Jeff date my sister. Using real life experiences as lyrical material is nothing new. Jeff used his marriage and subsequent divorce as the inspiration for “No Strings”. Fine. Where my worry comes from is “Asking For A Beating”. The song is clearly about a crappy relationship with a woman. It’s a really good catchy song but when you have a chorus of “you’re asking for a beating” your ears kind of perk up. Maybe it’s because we had the Ray Rice incident in the news recently but this did not seem like the wisest song title or lyric choice. I do realize that he’s not referencing beating a woman but just the trials and tribulations of dating. Like I said it’s a really good song but someone should have said “how about we try a different phrase?”
One For The Road is only 7 songs long so it’s more a mini-LP than EP. As a whole it shows a lot of promise from Jeff. It has done real well on its’ first week so hopefully this will spur Jeff to do more music. Since it has been nearly two decades from the last release of new material from Cinderella he should have lots of ideas stored up.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-buy it as a used CD
$1.00-streaming it on Spotify
$0-Not worth the drive space

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KIX-Rock Your Face Off

kix-rockyourfaceoff-cover2014

I’ve written this review three times now. It’s very easy to write about an album that’s really good. Even easier if it’s really bad. However when it’s just “eh” it takes a lot of effort. I’ve heard Kix for a long time. I remember when they broke and they had a couple of good commercial hard rock albums. Listening back to Blow My Fuse and Hot Wire and there is some nice stuff. I remember when Seattle happened and every band that had sniffed Headbangers Ball got dropped and Kix were one of the ones ended up recording for CMC Records. It was kind of cool to hear a dirty rock record when we were being inundated with grunge songs featuring millionaires whining about how bad the world is. But in hindsight I never went out of my way to listen to them. Didn’t immediately turn the channel when they came on but never got excited when they did either. My apathy aside, Kix has kept on going and for the past couple of years have been headlining the M3 Festival in Maryland.
Naturally, they returned to the studio and have just released Rock Your Face Off. Their first album in almost a decade and it’s exactly what you’d want, solid bar band hard rock. It stars off great with “Wheels In Motion” and soon followed by “Rollin’ In Honey” (no idea what that means but it sounds awesome). My favorite track is “You’re Gone” with a little slower tempo that has a sleazier vibe to it. They do the requisite ballad “Inside Outside Inn” but it’s about as formulaic as it gets. After that it seems like it’s all something we’ve heard before . Nothing bad but nothing really stands out. There are 12 tracks and it would have been a better if there were only 10 and maybe a cover.
I feel bad because I am not liking this more. I love a lot of the recent albums from Kix contemporaries. Krokus, Warrant, Winger have all made real good records as of late. I wish Rock Your Face Off was as good as those but it’s not. Kix sounds like the local bar band that got lucky and have found their level.
Unfortunately.

In light if this album I’m changing up my rating system a tad.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-but it as a used CD
$1.00-streaming it on Spotify
$0-Not worth the drive space

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WINGER-Better Days Comin’

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Odd how time plays out. In the early 90’s Winger was the toast of MTV. Then came Metallica’s video with Kip as a dartboard and Beavis & Butthead. Suddenly MTV, and the rest of the music world, wanted nothing to do with Winger. Ironically it happened when they just released Pull, arguably their best album. The band took some time off but still kept releasing material. Both IV and Kharma were well received and pretty good listens too. Now Metallica is making shitty albums with Lou Reed and Beavis & Butthead bombed when it was relaunched. However Winger still stands and have just released Better Days Comin’.
It was pretty interesting that Winger released two videos ahead of Better Days Comin’ release. I think it was a very wise move as “Rat Race” and “Midnight Diver Of A Love Machine” showed a more aggressive side of the band. So not only did it interest those that were going to buy it but those that may have begrudgingly liked the band, despite Kip’s dancing, were now interested. Well the band delivered big time with Better Days Comin’. It is a prefect representation of those that already love the band. Besides the two hard rockers already mentioned another heavy track is “Storm In Me”. Then there is the exceptionally catchy hard rock of “Queen Babylon” and “So Long China”. With having a drummer like Rod Morgenstein and a guitar player like Reb Beach, the band gets to flex their musical chops on “Tin Soldier”. Both guys along with Kip, who is an underrated bassist, give a progressive feel that may surprise some. The album wraps up with “Out Of This World” a song that is a prefect amalgamation of best traits of the band. It’s catchy, a little poppy, some showoff playing, and a lot smarter than their critics say.
It’s very fitting that Winger chose Better Days Comin’ as the album title. While huge success is out of reach, they have crafted a terrific album that will stand up against the best of their catalog. They did it on their terms, the way they wanted, without a promise of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Better Days indeed.

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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Sister-Disguised Vultures

sister

How in the Hell did this happen? Another European band playing classic American rock? Yes, but this time it’s Sister a band from Norway and these guys worship at the makeup caked alter of Motley Crue with a touch of Murderdolls. Disguised Vultures is the second release from the quartet and their first on Metal Blade. First time I heard of Sister was a Tweet from Metal Blade CEO Brian Slagel. Since that label has been on a roll as of late, I was quite intrigued. Being on Metal Blade and having blood splattered somewhat quasi anti-religious album art, I was expecting something heavy and menacing. What is delivered though is a sleazy punk / hard rock hybrid that combines the sleaziness of the Sunset Strip infused with scream singing of modern rock.
Sister does a great job of bridging the two and in turn appealing to both sets of fans. The songs are very catchy and upbeat with crunchy guitars but with a slightly sinister quality to them. Lead single an video “Sick” is a perfect example. Snappy, hooky, and with a chorus that begs to be sung along with. They show their punky side on “Arise” and “Slay Yourself”. For me the highlight of Disguised Vultures is “DMN”. Perfect hard rock song. Simple yet catchy, nice solo, and lyrically the band puts themselves over thereby making them more appealing to listeners. One of the more curious tracks is “Naked”. A misfire of a ballad that is twice as long as it should be. Thankfully, the album finishes out nicely with “Please Kill Me” an acoustic guitar led rocking track that highlights the bands rhythm section.

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It would be easy to take shots at Sister just off their appearance. Add in that they have members named Rikki and Cari, somewhere Jizzy Pearl is smiling, and it’s easy pickings. However once you listen to them and you hear that there is something behind the sound. Disguised Vultures is a fun trek down memory lane that is rooted in the now.

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

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon(This, not showing bold for some reason)

$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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Julian Angel’s Beautiful Beast-Kicking Down the Barricades

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There is this wave in Europe that features a revival of the 80’s Glam band. There are some very good ones and some very bad ones. Julian Angel’s Beautiful Beast from Germany is one of the higher regarded. As I’ve never listened to them before I had no idea what to expect. I was a little leery since this is only a three piece yet Mr. Angel felt the need to put his name in the band name anyway. Maybe he’s just trying to be the Tyler Perry of Germany. Then there’s the album cover for Kicking Down The Barricades. I know I’m not a great writer but even if I was Stephen King I could not do it justice. Basically it looks like a 10th Grade metalhead designed an album cover.

 

In 1987.

 

To say it’s ridiculous would be an understatement. What’s worse is that this is a trend for European metal acts. I think it’s an attempt to look retro but it just looks cheesy and embarrassing.

 

Now for the actual music on Kick Down The Barricade, you start off with “Bad Boys Never Dance” and you run into another hurdle. Lyrically the album is very stilted and you wonder if there is a language barrier or they’re trying to be authentic to the era. Either way it’s grating at times.

 

Julian Angel is the vocalist and guitarist of the band. His voice has an unusual and scratchy quality that takes a bit of getting use to. The harmonies are top notch too. Now his guitar playing is very exceptional. The soloing is top notch and fits each song perfectly.

 

“Unsexy” is an extremely catchy song with a hooky chorus that could have been in regular rotation on Headbanger’s Ball. Same can be said of “Big Stuff” with it’s Warrant inspired verses and big choruses. “Shake Me Back Home” is very reminiscent of Junkyard’s “Simple Man” but still has a certain charm to it. The album ends nicely with a a dirty slinky number in “Six In The Red”.

 

When I first listened to Kick Down The Barricades I thought it was a demos from the 80’s that had been re-released. With the cover, lyrics, sound, it comes across as a bit dated. Maybe it’s the innocence and sincerity that help you overlook the rough patches and you appreciate the earnestness and honesty of Julian Angel. In the end you go from a mocking position to one of understanding.

 

 

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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GWAR-Battle Maximus

gwar

 

For a band like GWAR, releasing their new album Battle Maximus is an interesting quirk. They are well known as a visual live band, is new material truly necessary? If you saw them perform on AXS TV early this year, their over the top outrageous-ness is still evident. You also heard singer Oderus muttering gibberish instead of singing the actual lyrics but no one seemed to mind. The stage antics had already seeped over to the music side previously. GWAR had gone from being a metal band that played funny songs to a comedy band that played metal eventually becoming more of a punk act.

 

A couple years back they acknowledged the wrong path taken and went back to making some great sounding metal. Question is, does Battle Maximus continues that path or do they veer off track once more. There is some very heavy, catchy stuff here. “Triumph of The Pig Children” and “They Swallowed The Sun” are two nice heavy tracks that will get the heads bobbing. I think the highlight of the album is “ I, Bonesnapper” which features, not ironically, Bonesnapper on vocals. He has a much different style and sound than Oderus and it is pretty welcoming. Refreshingly, the title track is an unexpected and very well done instrumental. One of the more curious tracks is “Falling” which would be a hit on Octane from one of those Hot Topic metal bands.

 

On the whole Battle Maximus is kind of flat. Not coincidentally this is the first album since guitarist Cory Smoot aka Flattus Maximus passed away. Beside that, there is also a new Beefcake the Mighty aka the bassist. Besides the uninspiring music, the lyrics are not nearly as clever nor as funny as previous releases.

 

Battle Maximus is not an album one will play over and over again. It seems like it will be background noise while the band and its’ minions lambasts Kim Kardashian, decapitates the President, feeds audience members to the grinder.

 

In the end that’s why we all came in the first place.

 

 

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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