Tag Archives: heavy 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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Adrenaline Mob-Dearly Departed

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If you look at my past reviews you can see I am not the biggest fan of Adrenaline Mob. In fact I think the band may have taken on their namesake and put a hit out me. So it must seem odd that once again I am tackling their newest. Call it self flagellation or more likely that it’s February and there is not a lot out. Dearly Departed is a mini-LP mostly made up of covers or acoustic numbers. They did this right after their debut album and I like this idea. Alice In Chains did it and I think it’s a nice way of staying in the public eye without milking the cow.

Let’s address the covers first. Dearly Departed kicks off with Pat Travers’ “Snorting Whiskey”. This is a blazing cover and it had me rethinking my attitude towards the band by the time it hit the chorus. It is a balls out rockin’ version of this 70’s classic and you can hear the band enjoying themselves. Especially guitarist Mike Orlando who sounds like a mixture of an Allman brother and an 80’s shredder on here. Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” also gets the treatment and it is a good one. The feeling is like this is a fun practice room song that they just decided to record. I applaud the guys for choosing some not too obvious songs. However, just because it is a surprising choice does not mean it is a good one. Case in point is their version of “Devil Went Down To Georgia”. It sounds exactly as you would imagine and it’s not nearly as clever as it needed to be. The last cover on here is a “Black Sabbath Medley”. It is about as original sounding as that title. One highlight is drummer AJ Pero channeling his inner Animal and going bat shit insane on it. There needs to be a moratorium on bands covering Sabbath, Metallica, and Slayer. Just don’t do it. You will always be compared to the original and in doing so will always be lacking.

Along with the covers, the other draw is the three acoustic interpretations on here. Each one of them being very good. Russell Allen really gets a chance to show off his voice on them. “Crystal Clear” and “Angel Sky” have full band accompaniment on them but the acoustic vibe is still there and the stripped down quality is delicious. As good as those versions are, “All On The Line” is legendary. With just Russell and Mike alone with a guitar the emotion really comes through. Really beautiful and powerful.

Dearly Departed is rounded out with a radio edit of the title track. Taking off that extra minute really streamlined the song and makes modern rock keeper. “Gets You Through The Night” is an unreleased track from Men Of Honor. It is a little peppier and reminds me of Saliva or Nickelback and I’m not saying that in a good way. It proves the adage that if the song was any good it would have been on the album.

I guess Dearly Departed has opened my eyes to Adrenaline Mob. I really like how the band is able to mix modern hard rock with classic rock sensibilities. Hopefully it will continue on their next release. My one small complaint is I think Dearly Departed should be a bit cheaper. It’s only $1 less than a regular album so I dropped it down one because of that.

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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Rated X-Rated X

RATEDX

The other project featuring an Appice in it is Rated X. This group has Carmine Appice on the drumstool. He has been in so many bands that it’s probably easier to name who he hasn’t been in. He is best know for Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, and King Kobra. The singer for Rated X is Joe Lynn Turner who fronted Rainbow during the MTV days. Rounding out the quartet is Tony Franklin the fretless bass maestro from Blue Murder and The Firm and guitarist Karl Cochran.

There are a lot similarities between Rated X and the other Appice project WAMI. Both singers have sung with Yngwie and Rainbow. Both bassist have played with Carmine in Blue Murder. And oddly, the least know of each group is the guitar player. However the big difference is that Cochran and Joe Lynn Turner have been playing together for awhile. Unfortunately Karl suffered a stroke midway through recording so Nikolo Kotzev of Brazen Abbot filled in for him.

Rated X offers up some classic sounding hard rock that sounds fittingly like a cross between Rainbow and Blue Murder. What makes this group standout from the others is that the familiarity between the members gives it more of a band feel and less of a studio one. The album kicks off with “Get Back My Crown” and “This Is Who I Am” and seems like a fitting declaration for a group of guys trying to reclaim their spot in the game. The keys on it really adds to the Rainbow feel. They’re also evident on “Fire & Ice” with it’s big chorus and bigger organ. (Don’t laugh, I’m talking about the musical instrument.)

The Blue Murder pedigree shines through on several tracks too. Some of it comes from Tony Franklin’s signature fretless bass sound. “Lhasa” has the same big epic song feel to it as “Valley Of The Kings”. Then there just some straight up rockers in “Devil In Disguise” and “Piece Of Mind” where Rated X is making there own statement.

To be fair there are a coupe of stinkers. “You Are The Music” reeks of “we need a ballad here” thinking. “Maybe Tonight” is a bland soft rocker. It almost seems that if they slow down it falls apart but they do a great job on “Our Love Is Over”. It’s a nice ballad that really shows off Karl’s playing. There is also an acoustic version that is just Joe Lynn and a piano and it is beautiful. It’s amazing to hear his voice still sounding that good.

What makes Rated X so much better than all the other project bands is that they seem to want to be a band. The extensive demoing and work they did before recording is evident. The cohesiveness comes through the speakers and the band has made an album worthy of their collective legacies.

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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The perfect Guns N’ Roses-Use Your Illusion album

use_your_illusion_pro_by_martinezivan24-d5wemdw

 

The holiday is a desert for new releases and ironically, wrong usage, I actually have free time to write. So instead of doing a title I really have no interest in I will once again steal an idea from a podcast. Dig Me Out is a terrific podcast that focuses on lesser known releases of the 90’s. While they mainly stick to alternative, hard rock and metal occasionally sneaks in. Recently they celebrated their 200th episode and to commensurate the big achievement the episode was dedicated to Guns N Roses Use Your Illusion I & II. It was a fascinating episode with lots of info and ideas. One of my favorite tidbits was that “November Rain” was originally a 20+ minute song that had to be trimmed down.

During the course of conversation they addressed the elephant in room, should this have been 2 albums released simultaneously? One suggestion was to release several EP’s that collected similar songs together. Epic songs, bluesy songs, etc. In theory that sounds good but I think they knew that the band was on borrowed time with all the drug problems the various members had. Plus, who knew what the music climate would be by the time EP #4 came out. In truth the music world of 1991 when this was released and in 3 years later 1994 were totally different. You could have released one and then another 12-18 months later but you if #2 sells way less than #1 the media will go bananas. Plus this was the time when record releases were a big deal. Fans would line up and pack stores for midnight releases. A couple years later with grunge killing the rock star and the internet changing the industry, big releases were not the same.

The spark for this article was them mentioning about cherry picking the two albums and creating the ultimate Use Your Illusion. This idea really intrigued me with a combined 29 songs between the two, only counting “Don’t Cry” once, and deciding on what 10 songs would make the best album is a fun idea.

So the following are my 10 songs plus the order they should be on the album. I think that can be an overlooked aspect to a release and it is VERY evident on the two Use Your Illusions. I is alright but having “The Garden” followed by “The Garden of Eden” is just lazy. It gives the impression that the two tracks are tied together. II is just a mess. “Civil War” is a great song but not an opener. All the fast energetic songs are in the middle and the big single “You could Be Mine” is track 12.

12!!

With all that said, let’s kick this pig.

Scott’s Ultimate Use Your Illusion

Track 1-”You Could Be Mine”-This is the perfect album opener. Upbeat, already popular from the Terminator 2 soundtrack, listeners will be on board from the jump.

Track 2-”Garden of Eden”-Want to keep up the tempo from the 1st track. Plus it sounds like it could come from Appetite.

Track 3-”Civil War”-after those two rockers, this serves as a bridge from what they were to what they want to be.

Track 4-”Live and Let Die”-This is such a good cover that I don’t want to bury it on the back of the album. Plus the bombast of it leads perfectly into…

Track 5-”November Rain”-The opening piano note is a perfect segue from Track 4. The midway point is perfect this song.

Track 6-”The Garden”-It follows “November Rain” on I and I think it works. Coming off the grandiose-ness of the previous track you need to something different but not vanilla. The soft/heavy flux of this track and the Alice Cooper guest vocals work perfectly. I know the Dig Me Out guys didn’t like this song but I really do.

Track 7-”Dust N’ Bones”-One of the few songs where Izzy sang. Great song showing the bands roots.

Track 8-”Estranged”-The other big epic song. If I only hear this song once every 6 months, it’s my favorite off these albums. Slash’s guitar sound is just nasty and that simple 4 note riff is killer. I do wish that they had a big name producer on this album that would’ve cut about 90 seconds out of the middle and this song would be legendary. I think you have to have it far enough away from “November Rain “ to give listeners a chance to recover.

Track 9-”Pretty Tied Up”– I like the jangliness of the song and after “Estranged” you need some normalcy. Plus it leads right into…

Track 10-”You Ain’t The First”– I love the acoustic sound of this, very Stones/Aerosmith plus it echoes the Lies EP. I think this is the perfect ending,

I realize I left off “Don’t Cry”and the reason why is you already have 2 “kind of” ballads on here. I could cheat and say that it is a Japanese Bonus track along with “So Fine”. Nowadays, people do not remember how big a deal it was getting UK or Japan import of a release just for the bonus tracks. Plus, after seeing Shannon Hoon on the video and hearing that he sang on it I was excited to hear Blind Melon. Then when I actually heard it, it made me wish that God did not give us ears. Horrible.

I am pretty solid on the song choices I made, the only argument would be on the order but my reasoning for tempo and feel will stay.

One of the other favorite tracks mentioned on the podcast was “Coma”. The track is alright but with 2 other long songs that I think are better, this album is better served without it. “Bad Obsession” was the one song that was a tough cut. Honestly I had that in the Track 7 slot and then heard “Dust N’ Bones” again and made the switch. With the success and notoriety of “November Rain”, “Estranged”, and “Civil War”, I think people overlook how many good rock songs are on here.

Along with making up two new words, I believe I laid out solid reasons of what I think would make the best single disc version of Use Your Illusion. Am I right on or way off base?

Just let me know.

 

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Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators-World On Fire

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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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Overkill-White Devil Armory

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The first time I saw Overkill I really didn’t want to see them. They were the opener on Slayer’s South Of Heaven tour that also featured Motorhead. The only exposure to Overkill I had was their “Hello From The Gutter” video. It was alright but didn’t grab me. Me and my buddy Kevin went to the show late to miss them and catch Lemmy before Slayer destroyed the place. In true metal club fashion the show was running late and we ended up seeing Overkill. They were unreal. A perpetual thrash machine was on full display. They annihilated during the allotted time. I was a fan of theirs until the lineup carousel started and they faded into the woodwork. However, with the release on Ironbound in 2010 they have been on a roll. Now we get White Devil Armory and the momentum hasn’t stopped.
All the staples are here. Bobby Blitz sounding as good as ever. DD Verni’s signature bass sound. And some quintessential thrash riffs from David Linsk. White Devil Armory punches you in the gut from the start. “Armorist”, “Down To Te Bone” and “Pig” are a lethal triple threat. The band was wise to put “Bitter Pill” next since it starts off slow and gives you a chance to breathe. However “Where There’s Smoke” is next and they’re off to the races again and they don’t stop until the album finishes. My version of White Devil Armory has 2 bonus tracks. “Fight Song” has a tinge of soccer singalong to it. Lastly there is a cover of the Nazareth track “Miss Misery” with fellow New Jersey thrash legend and current Accept singer Marc Tornillo
It’s amazing to think that after 30 years Overkill is still killing it. Playing high level thrash nonetheless. Ponce Del Leon went looking for the fountain of youth in Florida, when apparently it’s been in New Jersey and Overkill found it. In today’s scene I don’t think there is another metal band that has released 3 quality albums in a row like Overkill has. White Devil Armory doesn’t show that Overkill still has it, it shows that they never lost it.

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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Marty Friedman-Inferno

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You have to give Marty Friedman credit. He could have taken the easy route post-Megadeth and formed his own metal band or just done more shred records and everyone would have been happy. Except he wouldn’t have. He loves the Japanese culture so he moved there and did some TV and some J-Pop and was extremely happy. On his terms.
However, the metal siren’s call was to much to resist and he is back with Inferno. It is a collection of instrumentals along with some very cool guest stars. It starts with a couple of said instrumentals that show off Marty’s handy work. (See what I did there?) Neat part about them is that they are both noticeably different in approach and sound but still equally entertaining. Now Inferno goes into the guest phase. First up is “Wicked Panacea” with Rodrigo y Gabriela, the outstanding neuvo flameno guitar duo. The song incorporates them perfectly as Marty’s playing allows them to easily slide in and out throughout the track. Truly remarkable. Canadian hard rock hero Danko Jones provides some lead vocals on “I Can’t Relax”. Again Marty crafts a song tailored for Danko and shows a different side of himself while exposing Danko to those who may not be familiar with his awesomeness. My favorite track is “Meat Hook” and it features Jorgen Munkeby of The Shining on saxophone.
Yes, saxophone.
If you are not familiar with The Shining, they are a Norwegian avant garde metal band and Jorgen is the lead singer that occasionally breaks out the saxophone. He is brilliant and so is this track. Similar to what he did on “Wicked Panacea”, Marty lets Jorgen play what he wants over the track as they intertwine and eventually harmonize. I love this song so much and it is a true testament to what someone can do if they are willing to push the boundaries. I mean really push them. A lot.
Alex Laiho from Children of Bodom sings on “Lyncathrope” and it’s pretty good. As is “Sociopaths” with David Davidson of Revocation. I was hoping for a little more crazy shredding on this one considering who was involved. Inferno ends up with two very interesting tracks. “Undertow’ is a very light track that leads into “Horrors”. It seem like it’s a battle between classical influence, represented by the piano played, and shredding, his guitar. They go back and forth over the course of 6 minutes and it’s pretty impressive.
After grunge hit it became very uncool to know how to play with your guitar. Shredding was a dirty word and all of us that grew up looking forward to the newest Shrapnel release were doomed. Like with everything, time wins out. Shredding has returned and with it Marty Friedman. Inferno is a terrific reminder of what he could do plus it’s a better reminder of what he can do. And hopefully how others can push themselves.

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

 

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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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Sister-Disguised Vultures

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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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