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My Top 10 Albums of 2017 (even though it’s 2018)

I know what you’re thinking. Who the hell needs another end of the year Top 10 lists. Well to be fair, no one. But if everyone else gets the fun of making one so should I. Let’s be honest, these are fun. I love sitting and writing down all the great releases that came out. Crossing out and revising the list over and over again. The scanning other peoples list and cursing the fact that I forgot something. Then going back and redoing my list one more time.

I am a but more anal about making lists than others. There has to be rules. If its a Top 10, then there should only be 10 on the list. No two way tie for first or 5 honorable mentions.

Top 10 is 10.

Period.

End of story.

10-Europe-Walk The Earth

If you would have told me in 1985 when “The Final Countdown” was earworming its’ way into our brains. That I would be a huge fan of Europe, so much that I would pre-order their albums, I would have wondered what gave me brain damage. Yet, I am a huge fan and you should be too. I heard a interview with the drummer that when the band reformed they changed the way they wrote songs. Apparently, the old method was singer Joey Tempest writing everything and then bring it to the band. Now they get together to create. Thankfully those annoying keyboards have been replaced with powerful old school organs. Europe seems to have given in to their childhood and have channeled the bands they grew up on. Influences ranging from Rainbow and Deep Purple are evident. The title track would have been a monster hit back in the day. Honestly, it still could be if someone uses it in a sports highlight reel.

9-Godflesh-Post Self

It was so refreshing to hear some new Godflesh. I remember the first time I heard them. I was drinking at Emo’s, R.I.P., and Streetcleaner came on. It was a revelation. The heaviness and dissonance was so different that anything I had every heard. Godflesh was first of the industrial bands that soon flooded the scene. However,to me they were always different. Maybe it’s because they were on Earache and there was an extra level of heaviness. There was always level of noise in their sound that was amazingly inviting. Post Self gave me the same feeling. I’ve seen people say that it doesn’t have metal leanings but it sure does sound like it to me. Still brutal and awesome. Like an army of orcs rampaging over a field of keyboards.

8-Riverdogs-California

I’d venture to guess that most people have no idea who the Riverdogs are and why I would have them on my Top 10. Those people are seriously ignorant and deprived. At first glance people will assume that since Vivian Campbell, of Dio, Whitesnake, and Del Leppard fame, that it would be in that vein. Riverdogs are so much more. The key to the band is singer Rob Lamothe. His voice is magical. Emotional like a mutha fucka. First time I heard these guys was when they were doing a radio tour promoting their debut album in 1990. Vivian and Rob were on Z-Rock, R.I.P. again, and they played acoustic versions of the songs. It was amazing. Those two gave the songs such life and meaning that I was instantly hooked. Great thing about it was that it showed how good the songs were that they would work with just two guys with guitars. So I was ecstatic to see that California was coming out. Frontiers Records did something brilliant by having the band play acoustic versions of these new songs in advance of the release.

Describing their sound is tough. While it is definitely rock there are hints of soft rock, alternative, and alt-country mixed in with Jeff Buckley. It worked. “Welcome To The New Disaster” and “You’re Too Rock N Roll” drip with brilliance that make you wonder if you’re worthy. It’s the perfect record for driving with the top down and sun glaring down on you.

7-Tau Cross-Pillar Of Fire

I had never heard of Tau Cross until December. Sarah Kiteeringham from Banger TV was talking about them on her Album on the Year list. Naturally, she violated the rules and had about 10 different albums. Nonetheless, one of her choices was Tau Cross. When she said Away from Voivod was in the band, my ears pricked up. This is a really interesting band. It does have some of Voivod-ness on here, this is a bit more abrasive. Rob Miller, formerly of Amebix, plays bass and sings with a gravely tone that elevates this above the fray. He shows his range by smoothing it out some and injecting some bass and it gives the band a Killing Joke vibe. The title track showcases that with the added acoustic guitars and violins.

Only complaint is the album is a tad long. Sort of. The vinyl is 11 songs which I think is perfect. But the CD/MP3 version adds 3 songs. Not that they’re bad but as I’ve gotten older i’ve realized that Aerosmith’s Rocks has only 8 songs and that kind of tough to top. Get in, get out leave them wanting more.

6-Power Trip-Nightmare Logic

You remember what I just wrote about getting in and getting out? Well that is perfect exemplified on Nightmare Logic by Power Trip. This is 8 tracks and 32 minutes of Texas thrash that if these guys had access to a DeLorean and flux capacitor would tear it up at Ruthie’s Inn in 1987 San Fran. It is note perfect old school thrash but doesn’t sound dated. These guys wear their influences on their sleeves. Proudly. Heavy, nasty riffs with dive bombs that would make Slayer proud. Riley Gale’s vocals are very reminiscent of Kurt from D.R.I. but with more intensity. They aren’t afraid to tackle some big lyrical issues. From the dependence on OTC drugs to extreme right wing religious politics feel their wraith. Not a bad note on this.

5-L.A. Guns-The Missing Peace

It’s been a rough couple decades for L.A. Guns. After having some solid success in the 80’s and 90’s, they rapidly became a punchline. They went from being known as a solid act to having two versions of the same band touring around the country. Silly fighting through the media made it even worse. However, time heals all wounds and singer Phil Lewis and guitarist Tracii Guns kissed and made up. Thankfully so, because we got The Missing Peace.

THIS IS A MONSTER ALBUM!!

They did not miss a beat and it sounds like it was recorded by their 20-something selves not the 50 year olds they are now. They looked father time in his face and spit on him. High energy guitar rock that traverses time. Phil’s voice hasn’t aged at all and the British snarl he had in Girl is still present. Tracii is one of the most underrated guitarist of his generation. He can play with feel as well as power, plus writes terrific riffs. He also shows some humility by deferring to Michael Grant whose playing injects some adrenaline into the album. From opener “It’s All the Same To Me” to “Sticky Fingers” (not that Sticky Fingers) to “Baby Got Fever” the album transports you to a packed Gazzarri’s and you don’t care that you have half a can of hair spray on your head and you’re a dude. Rarely does a successful band make their best album 3 decades into the game.

4-Code Orange-Forever

I have a system for the way I listen to new albums I’ve never heard of. I’ll look up what’s coming out that Friday, then find it on Google Play Music and add it to a playlist called Decide. That’s how I came to hear Code Orange. I was not prepared.

HOLY SHIT, is this a brutal album.

They’re called a deathcore band but I don’t know how accurate that is. Mainly because I have no idea what deathcore is. These kids and their uber specific genres . Anyway. Code Orange is power personified. Not fast but HEAVY. Starting with the title track, it’s just simple quarter notes that are delivered with such force its unbelievable. They get schizophrenic with some hardcore stuff on “Kill the Creator” but the power is still there.

OK, I get what deathcore is now.

I think what’s impressive is they are not afraid to record a song like “Bleeding In The Blur”. They use clean vocals and the song is more Octane than Liquid Metal. Or something like “Spy” with is a hybrid stoner metal song with electronic elements. “Ugly” is more industrial/alternative than metal but fits right in with the other songs. Forever is actually a very diverse album and shows that Code Orange will do whatever they want.

Forever is a fantastic album that has put Code Orange on the map. I am really curious what they’ll do next, should be interesting.

3-Mutoid Man-War Moans

Someone on Metal Riot had the best description of Mutoid Man. They described them as the perfect blend of cockrock and mathcore. There is plenty of harmonies in their music balanced out with some insane technical playing. The songs are very catchy, fun and surprisingly smart. I don’t want to make it seem like they are tough to grasp like a Dragonforce or Dillinger Escape Plan. A song like “Kiss of Death” is a standard hard rock song but they put enough of a twist on it to make it their own. Imagine High on Fire guitars with a Josh Homme melody. Without assaulting a camera woman though.

“War Moans” and “Irons In The Fire” would be prototypical metal songs in anyone else’s hands. Here they are delivered crisply but with enough attitude making them Mutoid Man.

Look at the two bands that preceded them on the list. If they opened for L.A. Guns or Code Orange they would be received quite well. Honestly I think Mutoid Man would like both of the gigs too.

2-Integrity-Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with SiriusXM. In theory it should be a godsend for music lovers. Unfortunately, what you end up finding out is that they have the same lazy programming as terrestrial radio. That’s why I end up listening to MLB Radio more than any of the music channels. The one time I was listening to Liquid Metal and they weren’t playing a Soulfly or Sepultura song. Honestly, you would think these were the biggest bands ever the way Jose rams them down everyone’s throat. Anyway, that’s where I heard the new Integrity. The song “Hymn for the Children of the lack Flame” came on and I was entranced. These brutally fast guitars came out of the speaker accompanied by some nasty shedding. Very reminiscent of early Slayer. Back when Kerry had hair. Then Dwid Hellion’s vocals came on. He’s got a big shouty growl that works so well on the metal tracks as well some of the more hardcore ones. Most of the songs are barely over 3 minutes long but I don’t think the human neck could sustain much more headbanging. Then the second half of the album and it changes. The songs get longer and the band starts stretching their wings.”7 Reece Mews” has Dwid channeling Tom Waits over bursts of stoner metal. Then on “Unholy Salvation of Sabbatai Levi”his voice sounds like its pleading or warning us over ominous droning guitars. Even though Integrity is Dwid and whomever he wants, he gives a lot of room to guitarist Domenic Romeo. Domenic shows lots of old school flash while maintaining a contemporary feel.

1-Wayward Sons-Ghosts Of Yet To Come

I realize this is the 3rd album from Frontiers Records on my list. What can I say, they had a good year. Like other titles, they released several songs ahead of the albums release. The first Wayward Sons track available was “Until The End”. I was hooked instantly. Just a quality hard rocker accompanied by some sharp pointed lyrics about dealing with less than honorable people.

They are the ones that try to hurt you

They are the ones that cause it all

They are the ones that have no virtue, at all

Toby Jepson’s words take what would be a good song to a great one by injecting some thought and wit into them. Some may know him from the band Little Angels. Some may know him from acting in Gladiator, Angela’s Ashes, Band of Brothers. Or from him producing Saxon, Chrome Molly and the Virginmarys. Either way, you need to know him for Wayward Sons. It’s a little dismissive to say this is just a hard rock band. While they are, the music is so good it’s almost insulting to lump them in with others. There is a definite English feel to the songs, ala Wildhearts, Therapy, Terrorvision. However, Wayward Sons songs seem to have an extra layer to them. The music is very simple, but Toby’s voice is truly an extra instrument. As the guitars are playing 4 chord rock . He’s singing in a style that adds another riff to the song while adding a harmony to it as well. “Crush” and “Give It Away” are audio heroin with the way it sucks you in and wraps it self around you.

Good rock songs are simple yet tough to write. Every track on here is a diamond. This is the bar band you want to see that is so good the lady you meet at the show ends up being your wife.

Two wrap it all up, Wayward Sons has been the definite #1 in all incarnations of this list. I will say that numbers 2 through 6 could be rearranged in any order and I would be fine with it. It was tough keeping Enslaved off the list but I thought Godflesh was a stronger album. Hopefully you’ve found some new music to listen to. So grab your phone and open Spotify or Beats or Google and get to searching.

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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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In This Moment-Black Widow

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Black Widow is the newest album from In This Moment and is a a big moment for the band. Pardon the pun. While the band has developed a nice following, there is the perception it has mainly to do with Maria Brink being at the forefront of every promo picture. Although she is quite attractive, Maria is undoubtedly a good singer and lyricist. While she may not be afraid to play up her feminine wiles, she is definitely Metal. The struggle is, if they are artists or just a reason to sell posters and t-shirts.

Black Widow starts with the prefect song for this band, “Sex Metal Barbie”. No matter what one may think of the song, “Sex Metal Barbie” is one of the greatest titles ever. It’s one of those phrases that when you hear it you kick yourself for not coming up with it first. Title aside, it is a really good song that seems to mix In This Moment’s favoring of Korn and Manson. Plus like many of their songs, Maria Brink adds some personal lyrics to it. It addresses her experiences of being an attractive and strong woman in the male dominated Metal scene.

The real strength to Black Widow is Maria’s ability to convey her feelings. I sort of feel that this album is something that as an older male, is not necessarily meant for me. One reason why In This Moment has attracted such a ardent fan base is they address the plight of the female metal fans. There is a huge amount of women out there that have not had someone speak to them. “Dirty Pretty” and “Natural Born Sinner” are two more songs dealing with sexuality that coming from any male singer might not have the same resonance. Then there’s “Into The Darkness” not necessarily a song but a spoken word piece of an emotionally abusive relationship that is very powerful.

You can see that In This Moment can be very powerful but sometimes they get a little too big for their britches. They really want to connect emotionally but sometimes Maria’s attempt at singing emotionally comes across as silly. Her soft whisper that is half a whimper gets annoying quick. Most apparently on “Out Of Hell” , a song that is an insight into two people living on the street. She is trying to convey that there is a way out and she will stand with them but her delivery is so manipulative that it’s the audio equivalent of the Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial. I’m not saying that I think she is being fake. She just goes over the top and the producer or someone should have stepped in.

When listening to Black Widow I had flashbacks to the No Doubt video where the guys in the band were standing to the side while Gwen was getting photographed. There are no killer riffs or solos, just songs. While that is good in theory, at times it does seem like the songs were Maria Brink and a backup band. There is a lot to like about Black Widow and you have to give In This Moment a lot of credit. This was a big opportunity for the and at least they swung for the fences.

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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The Pretty Reckless-Going To Hell

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Sometimes it’s good to listen to a band without knowing a thing about them. A couple years back I heard Light Me Up, the debut album from The Pretty Reckless and loved it. Great female fronted dirty hard rock. It was months later that I discovered the singer was Taylor Momson an actress from Gossip Girl. At the time she was doing the typical Hollywood actress getting older routine of fighting with her Mom and showing her tits for no reason. Thankfully I missed all that drama and got to enjoy the album and liked it so much I bought their follow up EP Hit Me Like A Man. So I was looking forward to their new offering Going To Hell.
Listening to Going To Hell you realize that Taylor Momson is not just another actress cashing in on her fame by making an album. Lindsay, Hillary, I’m looking at you. She is in fact a rock singer. She has a real good sound that borders on the gritty with a hint of blues potential. Sort of if Sass Jordan was a Mouseketeer. The band cranks out some quality hard rock here. Kicking down the door with “Follow Me Down” and the title track, you know that this is not a pop record. They get heavier on “Sweet Things” a blistering track that has some creepy counter vocals by guitarist Ben Phillips. “Why’d You Bring A Shotgun To The Party?” wins for best song title and best song. Very slinky riff that is unavoidable with a chorus to beat.
Interesting is the amount of slow songs/ballads on here. Probably could have done without several of them. “Burn” is a standout and is just Taylor singing along with an acoustic guitar. The simplicity of it works so well that you don’t mind it’s under two minutes long. “Waiting For A Friend” has a classic sound that Rolling Stones/Guns N Roses fans will recognize. The slides on the acoustic along with the harmonica are timeless alongside her smoldering voice. Now depending on what version you buy there are two more acoustic tracks. “Going To Hell” and “Sweet Things” get the acoustic makeover. Taylor and Ben do a great job of remaking the songs not just simply performing them on an acoustic. “Going To Hell” is about the half the length and the guitar has a definite Johnny Cash feel to them. Curious that “Sweet Things” was chosen for the redo since it is the heaviest track but they do it well. Now the riff does sound just like the acoustic version of Winger’s “Down Incognito” but it still works. Plus Ben’s vocals have a more sinister sound to them here.
All in all Going To Hell is another success for The Pretty Reckless. Granted there are some missteps and they could have chopped off a track or two. But it shows the growth of the band. More importantly you see the growth of Taylor Momson as a singer and songwriter. It’s that growth that makes you want to hear what is next.

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 Bear-Rock From The Woods

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Back in the mid 90’s I worked at a local record store. When Seattle was in full swing there was this one customer always coming in to sell old CD’s to buy new releases. He had the proper grunge uniform of shaved head, goatee, and Doc’s. The CD’s he brought in were all the 80’s hard rock bands; Poison, Winger, Motley Crue, etc. Our store always required someone to show their ID. On his drivers license his picture was of him in full Cure’s Robert Smith attire. In other words he was just playing dress up or trend hopping. You saw it with bands too. They cut their hair and got “more serious” to fit in the Nirvana world. Now this was not an anomaly as bands have kept doing that. With the rise of 70’s rock/Southern rock influenced acts; Scorpion Child, Rival Sons and so forth. Guys that were dabbling in modern rock or whatever genre Octane is playing, are now buying bell bottoms and Orange amps.

And that brings us to Black Bear and their album Rock From The Woods. Judging from the band name and the cover, a walking bridge in the woods, I was expecting some Southern twinged rockin’. However, just like the guy selling CD’s we have some guys playing dress up. You can tell something is fishy from jump street. Album opener “We Are Black Bear” is just Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” except they just replace American band with Black Bear. This would be cute as the last track but since it’s the first, just silly. Unfortunately the aping of a classic rock band does not end there as they lift from The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” on “Uncle Vic”. Even rappers would think it was excessive.

That track is the epitome of what is wrong with the album. The guitarist seems to latch onto a cliché 70’s guitar lick and beat it to death. Besides the unoriginality, it is usually done very poorly. A simple 4 note fill sounds as if I was playing it. Then there is the vocalist. He just doesn’t have the swagger or soul to pull off this music. Most of the time he sounds like he is really struggling. I learned the band is from Milan so that cultural disconnect is a problem.

Now the odd part of Rock From The Woods is many of the songs are flat out modern rock. And surprisingly, their good too. “Time” is a really tremendous song. A mid-tempo slow builder that pulls you in as its plays. “Ghost of You” is a fist pumper that would easily slide in regular rotation on modern rock radio. Same with “Never Easy” a nice ballad that once you get past the horrible guitar fills in the first minute is rather good.

European bands playing distinctively American styles is nothing new. There seems to be a part of Finland that is forever 1987 Sunset Strip glam rock. Just like some of those bands, Black Bear may love the music they try to play but it doesn’t translate.

Pun intended.

Rock From The Woods seems a bit bi-polar with its’ conflicting styles. Yet when its’ good, its’ good. Hopefully Black Bear will decide on who they are.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon purchase

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on a MP3 sale

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

$0-Not worth the drive space

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A look at Sirius/XM for the Metalheads

 

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Satellite radio has been around for awhile and I finally jumped on board a year ago. My job requires me to drive a lot so I am in my car a lot. I used Pandora and my iTunes a lot but there is just something about a radio station. I heard Sirius/XM when I was with an ex. Driving around in her car I got a good opportunity to hear what was offered. Sadly, that was the only positive experience I got from that horrible horrible woman. I loved how this product satisfied my musical tastes, all of them. However I just want to focus on the ones that service the heavier stuff. With the Clear Channel effect all over our terrestrial radio dial, satellite is something that metalheads should really look into. The channels I want to concentrate on are Channels 38 to 40, Ozzy’s Boneyard, Hair Nation, and Liquid Metal.

ozzyBoneyard, I refuse to use the Ozzy label because of the horrible woman that is Sharon Osbourne, is a really good classic hard rock/metal station. They do a real nice job of mixing stuff up so you are not hearing “Iron Man” every 30 minutes. Band selection is nice, besides the obvious, Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, you get Tank, and Diamond Head and a plethora of others. You will find yourself saying “I haven’t heard that in a while” a lot. No shows except for an hour hosted by Jim Norton and Ultimate Sinner where a listener gets to pick 5 songs. A nice little feature. They occasionally play some new music from veteran bands already on the play list. Music wise, it is a great listen that you will have no problem leaving on for hours straight.

The big drawback to me is the Ozzy affiliation. Granted I probably hate Sharon way more than anyone else. And that hatred has tarnished Ozzy’s music to me. I cannot even listen to his era of Black Sabbath anymore because of her but I can overlook that most of the time. What bugs me is that every promo for the station is Ozzy related. From him mumbling about some story from 1984 or hearing Sharon or one of their idiotic kids tell a story about him, it’s stomach churning. The ball washing gets worse when they have famous metal musicians talk about how great Ozzy is. It is really sickening and it is the main reason I change the channel.

hairNext on the dial, is Channel 39 Hair Nation. As the name suggests it has all the bands from 80’s and 90’s with big hair that were the lifeblood of Headbangers Ball. This was the station that really hooked me one getting Sirius/XM. I remember driving with the awful ex and on came Sleez Beez. C’mon where else are you going to hear Sleez Beez? When I first got the radio I remember hearing a D:A:D song and thinking this was the greatest purchase that I ever made. What I didn’t realize is that they would play that same song over and over again. I know I am in my car a lot but it is like bad FM radio overkill. Then I noticed that they did this a lot. Heard “Gimme Your Love” from McAuley Schenker Group and got that D:A:D happy feeling. Then I heard it again and again. The station has a pattern of pulling out a band and playing their hit. Then they play that song over and over and then put that band back on the shelf. Why they won’t play another song I have no idea. They will however play the fuck out of Bon Jovi. Someone there loves them some Bon Jovi because you will l hear a BJ song every 30 minutes and that is not a good thing. I seriously think that Bon Jovi has a deal with this channel similar to what Ozzy has with Boneyard. This station never plays new music even though many of the bands the play have released new material. They did however play the new Richie Sambora single, furthering my Bon Jovi conspiracy theory. Plus they do not have a listener show like the other two stations do. This went from being one of my favorites to being one that I hit and run on. Hair Nation is also the home to Eddie Trunk who has a show on Monday night. However he plays more stuff you hear on Boneyard but that vile cunt Sharon had him kicked off that channel because he dared to criticize Ozzy.

sirius_xm_liquid_metalLast but not least is Channel 40, Liquid Metal. They play all of the new metal bands plus lots of the originators. When I say Metal I mean METAL. Cannibal Corpse, Slipknot, High On Fire, real heavy stuff. They do a nice job of crossing the many genres of Metal. Thrash, death, stoner, black you name it. Liquid Metal also does a great job on featuring new bands and letting listeners know when an important album is coming out. Occasionally they play some bands that are better off on Octane, a channel for new Hard Rock, but that is being picky. They also have Listener Domination, their show lets a listener a chance to pick three songs and say why. One of my favorite things about the station is Bloody Roots a show hosted by renowned Metal author Ian Christie. He will have a different theme for each show and does a fantastic job of giving tidbits and back story plus lots of the stuff he plays you will not hear any other time.

I think the reason that Boneyard and Liquid Metal are run so well is that Jose Mangin seemingly is in charge of both. His voice is on promos for both channels and they both have a listener show. He is the afternoon host and some may remember him when MTV did a Headbangers Ball special. He is a nice enough guy that obviously loves Metal. However he kind of bugs me. Maybe because he is always UP or maybe it is that he still has a faux hawk and still wears Affliction shirts. Logic would dictate that he would be in charge of Hair Nation as well and if so he is doing a shitty job.

Earlier I mentioned Octane on Channel 37. They play modern hard rock a long the lines of In This Moment, Chevelle, and Sevendust. It’s not a bad station I listen occasionally but a lot of what they play I don’t care for.

Yes I do realize there is a huge “Kids these days” factor present.

While I have become disappointed in Hair Nation and the Ozzy ass kissing makes me want to puke on my passenger seat, but I cannot recommend getting Sirius/XM enough. It really satisfies my musical desires plus there is a bunch of other great stuff available. I love being able to go from Mastodon to Glen Miller to listening to an Astros game. I got the Onyx model and I am able to take that from my car to another car or inside. Terrific if you drive more than one vehicle plus you can listen to it on your smartphone or online from your computer.

Seriously go get it.

Now.

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