Tag Archives: retro metal

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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Rated X-Rated X

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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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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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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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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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Truckfighters-Universe

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Truckfighters have been one of those bands I read about but not checked out. With the release of Universe I was able to change that. They are usually referred to as a Stoner band or Desert Rock, with there obvious influence of Kyuss. After hearing the first two tracks, “Mind Control” and “The Chairman”, I would have to agree. They have guitars that are fuzzier than a closet full of cashmere and cause the listener to head bang without though. One big difference is that the bass plays a much bigger role than their contemporaries. It carries the main riff and has several moments of flair.

After that, the band takes a bit of a turn.

The fuzz gets dialed back a bit and what is left is a somewhat heavy, gloomy metal band. Just like a less pretentious version of Tool. If you ever heard of the Boston act We’re All Gonna Die. It’s very similar. In fact I was sure this was them after a name change. Oops, since Truckfighters are Swedish.

“Convention” is more straight ahead and should have been on the new Queens of The Stone Age album. “Get Lifted” is the Tool sound I referenced just with a lot more distortion and the vocals dialed back. The band finishes it off with the 13-minute “Mastadont”. I don’t know if this is a dig at Mastadon or not. Maybe the length of the song is a nod of influence. It starts of slow and hypnotically until about halfway. Then is kicks in, but just for a minute. It’s like they needed a breath before hammering it home one more. The song slowly winds down until it fades out with some tasty acoustic guitars. It’s a real tour de force from these guys. One last kudo for Universe is that it is only 7 songs. While that may sound short, 3 of the songs are over 7 minutes. Plus I would rather have 7 good and interesting songs than 7 good ones and 3 more that are just fillers.

You might want to call Truckfighters the thinking man’s Stoner band. Except that’s a stupid moniker. I do feel the Tool comparisons are valid though. I do feel kind of bad for not listening to this band before. Do yourself a favor and don’t be like me, several reasons for that actually. Just go buy this.

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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Iced Earth-Plagues of Babylon

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I have never been that big a fan of Iced Earth. Every time I heard them, I enjoyed it but it never really grabbed me. Their brand of traditional metal has always been well executed and main man/guitarist Jon Schaffer seems like a cool guy. I remember reading interviews over his frustrations of being a metal band with Korn and Limp Bizkit being called “metal”. He wasn’t bitter or angry just adamant about his love for metal. Plus he’s a history geek and as a history major myself, GO COOGS!, I have to appreciate that.

Regardless of my previous indifference, Iced Earth has returned with a new offering in Plagues of Babylon. It is chock full of what has brought them this far, good ole metal and some above average lyrics. The title track starts us off with galloping guitars and some tasty duel playing between Schaffer and lead guitarist Troy Seele. With a lyrical theme that continues from the “Something Wicked” album, it tales a lovely tale of the ruling class suppressing the masses by unleashing deadly viruses. Several of the songs convey a deep hatred for the way society has gone but is done in such an open ended way that it allows the listener to draw on their own feelings.

The conveyor of said lyrics is vocalist Stu Block . His voice is pretty nondescript and average. He has a touch of gruffness but it is almost always mid-tone. He doesn’t get really high and subsequently his sound gets swallowed up by the music. And it’s not a mixing problem as the album sounds terrific. To be fair, on “Cthulu” and “Spirit of the Times” he sounds awesome. Those two tracks do have a ballad feel, “Cthulu” end up pretty heavy though, and his softer delivery works perfectly. Hansi Kursch takes the mic on “Among The Living” but you can’t really tell. I didn’t know it till I read the notes. Most surprisingly, Jon Schaffer takes his turn on the just as surprising cover of “Highwayman”. Cool idea but to “metal” that song up comes across as silly.

Plagues of Babylon is not a bad album. Good writing, great playing, terrific production, passable singing, but it just seems eh. I know that Iced Earth is a popular band but it just doesn’t click with me for some reason. I want to like them but just don’t.

It’s like a George Costanza break-up, its not you it’s me.

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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Tracii Guns League of Gentlemen-The First Album

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It’s a shame.

It’s just a shame that so many people will not give this a listen because Tracii Guns name is forefront. I think longtime fans are tired of all the bullshit from his on again off again relationship with L.A. Guns and his formation of a second L.A. Guns, that they will not even bother.

It truly is a shame because Tracii Guns’ League of Gentlemen The First Album is one of the best releases of the year.

Seriously, I’m not joking.

You have to give Tracii a lot of credit. He could have formed another band and put out rehashed 80’s hard rock.

Instead he formed a group, a league if you will, of guys that wanted to pay homage to 70’s rock. The First Album is chockful of retro inspired goodness. Front and center in all of this is singer Scott Foster. His voice is very versatile as it can go from bluesy to straight rock and then powerful when needed. The band released a video for “The Sound” which is kind of a misleading indicator for what the rest of the album is. It’s slow and moody a little long but it does show that The League Of Gentlemen are going to be something different. Album opener “Everything, Everything” and “The Witch”really show off the band and their intent. And I do mean band because the organ playing is very crucial to the sound as is the rhythm. I don’t know where Tracii found bassist Craig McCloskey but thank God he did. His playing allows Tracii to venture out more and remind people what a great guitar player he is. From Stones-ish bluesy slide on “Painted Lady” to some absolute acoustic ripping on on the cover of Badfingers’ “Without You”. Scott Foster kills it on this song. Jumping ranges and feelings, it’s terrific. There is also a cover of “One” from Three Dog Night. When it started I wasn’t real enthusiastic but the band gives it a nice reworking especially drummer Doni Gray’s cymbals.

Some people may harp that there is a lot of Zepplin influence here, there is, but it’s not like Kingdom Come or someone else where they’re aping them. This is more of an homage to them and other 70’s British and American rock bands. It’s funny because Rival Sons are doing the same thing and they are critical darlings, and deservedly so. The shame is that so many people will not give this a chance because Tracii’s name is on it so they are automatically going to think it’s going to be L.A. Guns Mach 12. Unfortunate, because The First Album should be getting all kinds of praise from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. But because of the off stage idiocy attached to Tracii’s name it will be ignored.

Their loss. Tracii Guns League Of Gentlemen is one of the best albums of the year.

Seriously, I’m not joking.

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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Trouble-The Distortion Field

TDF

 

Trouble has always been one of those bands that not a lot of people know of, but those that do LOVE them. My introduction to them was their classic 1990 self-titled release. Their Sabbath inspired sludge instantly hooked me. What ended up setting them apart from other bands was singer Eric Wagner. He has a distinctive high pitched style that elevated their sludgy sound from their contemporaries.

 

However, like every other band Trouble has had a revolving door of band members. The core sound courtesy of guitarists Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell are still here. Wagner’s on again off again relationship with the band is in the off position. Replacing him is Kyle Thomas, formerly of thrash band Exhorder, who had replaced Wagner before but never recorded with the band.

 

Although it may be unfair, the success of The Distortion Field rests on the vocals chords of Thomas. The band did not go for a Wagner clone as Thomas has a much gruffer sound. The music is still the same awesomeness though. For those that have not heard the band before, Franklin and Wartell have a very distinctive style. While still sludgy, many times the songs have a bounce to them. The second track “Paranoia Conspiracy” is the perfect example of this. Thomas’ voice seems to work when he can get in that groove. Same thing can be said for “Sink or Swim”, these are two of the best tracks on The Distortion Field. They really crank up the Sabbath influence on “One Life” and “Hand Of Doom”. Two crunchers that make you forget all about Wagner.

 

There are a couple of times that Thomas’s voice turns a song into just a typical metal song. “Glass of Lies” could have been recorded by a hundred bands. Then there is “One Life”, a curious yet out of place ballad. Plus, Thomas sounds like Mike Howe from Metal Church here.

 

The first time I listened to The Distortion Field, I really did not like it. Maybe it was my loyalty to Eric Wagner or maybe this is one of those albums you have to give a couple spins to. I think the more you listen to the music you will adjust to Thomas’ voice. Either way, Trouble did a good job in retaining their core sound while adding a new flair with Kyle Thomas.

 

 

 

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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bbq

There must be something about the water in Finland. Between that country and its’ neighbor Sweden, they have had a renaissance of 80’s hard rock/glam. Even weirder is that a lot of it is rather good. So the newest addition to the Sunset Strip Wayback Party is Barbe-Q Barbies. They are an all-female quintet that is more Sass Jordan than Vixen. Just like their Finnish contemporaries, they seem to be very image conscience. Glancing at the album cover, lots of bare midriffs and lets just say they are all lookers. While that may be appealing in one way, it can make one very wary. We hard rock/metal fans have been deluged as of late with scantily clad female musicians that seem more interested in posing than playing. I guess I was spoiled growing up with Doro, Lita Ford, Girlschool, and Bitch. While they may have done an occasional provocative pose or two but you always knew they meant business. Nowadays, you have Huntress where there are more pics of her boobs hanging out than there are of them covered. The singer from In This Moment is good but it seems like she is Katy Perry half the time. Don’t get me started with Butcher Babies, two girls who perform topless to distract from their shitty music. The fact they are doing it is one thing but the fact that Revolver and Liquid Metal gives them any attention is another.

 

All that is a shame because it’s making it harder for Barbe-Q Barbies and others that are trying to be taken seriously.

 

Back story aside, how is Breaking All The Rules? Incredibly cliche titles aside, the band is good. The singer has a nice voice with some grit to it. Best comparison is to imagine if Gwen Stefani grew up 10 years earlier and listened to L.A. glam instead of ska. The rest of the band is capable but lacking. While the songs may be simple they are kind of catchy but there is something missing. It may be the producers fault because every song has the same tone. It really does a disservice because there is several real good songs. First single “STFU” is a great rocker with a little dance in it.

 

“One More (And I’ll Be Gone)” perfectly conveys the lyrical theme of drinking the break-up away. True to form there is a ballad, the maudlin titled “Gun In My Hand”. Here the singer cranks up a extra layer of grit and adds some nice emotion as well. The one glaring problem is she repeats the title almost 10 times per verse. Again, I think a better producer would have corrected this.

 

I think what Barbe-Q Barbies show on Breaking All The Rules is that there is a lot of potential here. The band seems to be in this for the music and if you look at their Facebook page they seem to tour regularly. Hopefully they’ll keep working hard and their label will get them a proper producer.

 

 

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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