Papa Roach – The Connection
(2012, Eleven Seven Music)
2. “Still Swingin’”
3. “Where Did the Angels Go?”
4. “Silence is the Enemy”
5. “Before I Die”
6. “Wish You Never Met Me”
7. “Give Me Back My Life”
8. “Breathe You In”
9. “Leader of the Broken Hearts”
10. “Not That Beautiful”
11. “Walking Dead”
12. “Won’t Let Up”
13. “As Far as I Remember”
Jacoby Shaddix – Vocals
Jerry Horton – Guitar
Tobin Esperance – Bass
Tony Palermo – Drums
Producer: James Michael & John Feldmann
When Papa Roach crashed onto the scene with their nu-metal bandwagon Infest album, who would’ve thought they’d still be around 12 years later releasing new music? The Connection is the band’s 7th studio album and I have to admit Papa Roach have had quite a respectful career with hit singles, gold & platinum albums and energetic live shows.
The Connection is an appropriate album because even though the band has gone through changes in sound and style over the years (heck, the last album was called Metamorphosis) on this release they attempt to bring it all together. At various times, the band’s brand of rock has been alternative metal, nu metal, electronic rock, rock/pop, rap metal and even ’80s melodic hard rock. Papa Roach isn’t going for a cohesive sound on this album and I mean that in a good way. The band is bringing everything they’ve brought to the table in the past.
“Still Swingin’” is a perfect anthemic example of what Papa Roach has sounded like over the last few releases while “Where Did the Angels Go?” brings back the band’s nu metal/rap influences. “Before I Die” is pure radio ready infectious rock/pop ballad that will probably be released as a single.
Of course, some of the lyrics are overly dramatic and emo and just look at some of the song titles: “Before I Die”, “Wish You Never Met Me”, “Leader of the Broken Hearts”, etc. It’s like a gloomy 15 year old came up with this stuff. But for the most part, Papa Roach knows how to write a catchy melody and chorus.
I think this album compares favorably to the band’s previous efforts. There’s a bit of everything for everyone.
Highlights: ”Still Swingin’”, “Where Did the Angels Go?”, “Silence Is The Enemy”, “Before I Die”, “Wish You Never Met Me”, “Walking Dead”
1. “Spider In My Mouth”
3. “Blood Happens”
4. “Inside My Head”
5. “Sin and Bones”
6. “A Passed Life”
7. “She’s My Addiction”
8. “Shine Forever”
9. “Dark Passenger”
10. “Storm the Beaches”
Chris Jericho – Lead Vocals
Rich Ward – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Billy Grey – Guitar
Paul Di Leo – Bass
Frank Fontsere – Drums
Phil Campbell – Guitar (solo on “She’s My Addiction”)
Producer: Rich Ward
Fozzy returns with their 5th album, which is very much a continuation of the quasi-Avenged Sevenfold sound they started going for with 2012′s Chasing the Grail. Heck, they even got M. Shadow’s to do vocals for one of their songs (the lead single “Sandpaper”).
Previous Fozzy albums seemed to do a few really good numbers with a bunch of dreck to fill out the album. Luckily, the good outweighs the bad here. “Spider In My Mouth” is a good A7X sounding numbers where melody meets metal. “Sandpaper” sounds like a Fozzy song. “Blood Happens” has some decent moments but is ultimately not a favorite of mine because it ends up sounding like metalcore at times (complete with metalcore vocals from Jericho… don’t do that again). “Inside My Head” is standard modern hard rock but I like it. “Sin and Bones” is another driving number ready for radio. “A Passed Life” is somber and melodic. Good tune.
Despite the involvement of Motorhead’s Phil Campbell, “She’s My Addiction” is a bit too light sounding. The chorus reminds me of Trixter. “Shine Forever” is a bland modern number that comes across as Tool a bit. “Dark Passenger” is another track with low-key melodic moments and I’m starting to think it’s those moments where Fozzy’s strength really lies. The eleven minute closer “Storm the Beaches” also features those quiet moments but also some thrashy moments that bring to mind Anthrax and yet again Avenged Sevenfold.
Century Media is the fourth label the band has been on. The first two albums were released by Megaforce and they’ve been label hopping ever since. Hopefully they’ve found a new permanent home with Century Media, which is a solid label for metal bands. Jericho stated he thought Sin And Bones was the band’s “black album”, the one that’s going to break them into the mainstream.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that way. The album debuted at #143 on the Billboard and even with M. Shadows “Sandpaper” didn’t chart as a single. Still, despite some criticisms I have about Jericho’s voice), the band itself is writing better songs. Is it the Black Album? Not quite but it’s definitely Fozzy’s best album so far.
Highlights: “Spider In My Mouth”, “Sandpaper”, “Sin and Bones”, “A Passed Life”, “Dark Passenger”, “Storm the Beaches”
My Darkest Days – Sick And Twisted Affair
(2012, Mercury Records)
1. Sick And Twisted Affair … 3:41
2. Save Yourself … 3:43
3. Casual Sex … 3:16
4. Stutter … 2:45
5. Nature Of The Beast … 3:03
6. Perfect … 3:51
7. Again … 3:38
8. Gone … 3:33
9. Love Crime … 2:59
Matt Walst – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Sal Costa – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brendan McMillan – Bass
Doug Oliver – Drums, Percussion
Reid Henry – Keyboard, Backing Vocals
John 5 – Guitar (“Casual Sex”)
Barry Stock – Guitar (“Again”)
Producer: Joey Moi
Well, when something is working, why change it? Just like My Darkest Days’ self-titled debut, Sick And Twisted Affair has he same producer (sans Chad Kroeger), guest musicians and dirty catchy club-worthy hard rock numbers that deal with sex.
There is a deluxe edition that features extra tracks a few alternate mixes and the same cover art but colored differently (I prefer the deluxe edition’s color scheme). I haven’t heard the deluxe edition but I’m really loving the fact that there’s only 9 songs on the regular edition. Always leave ‘em wanting more, never overstay your welcome. Helps to cut down on filler too.
Speaking of filler, the only track I would consider to be just that is the band’s cover of Joe & Mystikal’s “Stutter”. I loved their take on Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” on the last album but this one doesn’t work, IMO.
So getting to what does work, let’s start off with the lead single “Casual Sex”. Definitely the follow up to “Porn Star Dancing” and meant to appeal to the club scene but that’s okay because it rocks at the same time (and just like “Porn Star Dancing” there are pop and rock mixes available). With that song and others, I’m noticing keyboards being used a lot more. There’s very much a synth sound found on “Sick And Twisted Affair”, “Love Crime” and “Again” where the band comes across like a sexier version of Orgy (not that orgies can’t be sexy).
More in the typical modern hard rock style there is “Nature of the Beast” which I would place as the weakest original track on the album.
It’s really hard to pick the best tracks because I find myself repeating each song 2 or 3 times. On this day alone I think I’ve listened to this album 6 or 7 times total. Virtually every song will stick in your head and take up space. There’s so much single potential here. “Love Crime”, “Again”, “Save Yourself” and “Gone” are ready for rock & pop stations. “Save Yourself” and “Gone” are the two ballads on the album, great songs and I can definitely see them blowing up big on the pop stations.
As with the debut, this album is going to be one of my favorite of the year. Great collection of hard rock that has broad appeal. If you were a fan of My Darkest Days’ first album, you’re going to be a fan of this one as well.
Highlights: “Sick And Twisted Affair”, “Save Yourself”, “Casual Sex”, “Perfect”, “Again”, “Gone”, “Love Crime”
Zeroking – Kings of Self Destruction (2012, Vanity Music Group)
1. “Dead Rock Star” … 4:49
2. “Forget Vegas” … 4:52
3. “She Said” … 4:52
4. “Showtime Revolution” … 4:04
5. “Southern Lady, Ex-Godiva” … 5:09
6. “Stone Cold Bitch” … 3:54
7. “Love Is Dead” … 4:33
8. “Kings of Self Destruction” … 3:27
9. “Girls of California” … 4:48
10. “The Party’s Over” … 4:32
11. “Black Friday” … 3:53
12. “Valentine” … 4:28
13. “Leaving Los Angeles” … 6:32
14. “Valentine” [Studio Outtake] … 4:37
15. “Stone Cold Bitch” [Acoustic - Live] … 4:04
16. “Girls of California” [Single Edit] … 4:06
Andy Haught – Lead Vocals
Shane Day – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Paul First – Bass, Backing Vocals
Chris Webb – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Producer: Steve Riley
Caught somewhere between old school and new school Huntington, West Virginia’s Zeroking are a band that should be all over radio… NOW!!! These guys describe themselves as “a hard rock/metal party” and that’s pretty accurate. Zeroking brings influences from bands like Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue but adds a modern hard rock touch of their own just in the way that Hinder and Buckcherry have done. Any fan of Buckcherry & Hinder should find plenty to like here. The band has found a great middle ground for classic rock and new rock. Zeroking fits modern rock radio stations and fans of Adelita’s Way, Sick Puppies, Sixx:A.M., Skillet and Pop Evil will like these guys.
The band wastes no time by opening the album with “Dead Rock Star”. My favorite track on the album and would be my choice as a single. Very catchy stuff that will appeal to the new old school and old school. ”She Said” is a modern hard rock song that I could also see getting play on radio. “Southern Lady, Ex-Godiva” has a southern rock swagger to it that will draw comparisons to Buckcherry or the last Hinder album. ”Love Is Dead” is another great tune that has single potential with lead singer Andy Haught sharing vocals another Huntington native Stacee Lawson (whose voice reminds me of Stevie Nicks). Through the sleaze & swagger of the rest of the album, the album starts to wind down on a sensitive note with “Valentine”. This is a really good ballad and, again, could be a single. “Leaving Los Angeles” is a great semi-laid back rock rock/pop tune that closes the proper album (the final three tracks are alternative versions) and sounds like Sixx:A.M.
Zeroking are a band that have a lot of things going for them on Kings of Self Destruction. The production is very well done and the songs will appeal to a broad range of hard rock fans. They are old school and melodic enough for ’80s fans yet current enough to grab the ear of fans of the modern rock scene. Check this album out and help spread the word about this great young band.
Highlights: “Dead Rock Star”, “She Said”, “Southern Lady, Ex-Godiva”, “Stone Cold Bitch”, “Love Is Dead”, “The Party’s Over”, “Valentine”, “Leaving Los Angeles”
Drug Under – Forgive and Forget (2012, Down Boy Records)
1. Forgive and Forget
2. I Need To See
3. Borrowed Time
3. Never Again
7. Change My Ways
8. All The Lies
9. It’s Over
Romero – Vocals
Eric Greenwall – Guitars
Pat Searcy – Guitars
Aaron Greenwall – Bass
Mike Crisler – Drums
Producer: Mark Obermeyer, Jerry Dixon & Erik Turner
Never judge a book (or album) by its cover! When this Denver, CO.-based band was first brought to my attention, going by the cover art and knowing that the label is owned and operated by Warrant’s Jerry Dixon & Erik Turner, I assumed Drug Under was going to be the type of hard rock act that drew heavily on ’80s influences. Not so. They are a modern hard rock/metal act that fits right in with the rest of the bands on active rock radio these days.
I can’t say this type of rock that features an alternative influence and crunchy guitars is a favorite of mine but Drug Under has their moments where they really shine. “I Need To See” and “Never Again” have the most commercial appeal, I think, and are my favorites. Very cool songs that should be on radio. “Forgive and Forget”, “Borrowed Time” & “Echoes” all have enough of a hard driving edge to keep those that just want to bang their heads satisfied. “All The Lies” and “It’s Over” are of particular interest to me. There’s some nice melodies in the melancholy moments of both of these rockers that show potential for this band to write some great ballads later down the line.
Forgive and Forget is an album sure to appeal to fans of the modern rock/metal scene and ’90s rock/metal. While I am not going to say that Drug Under knocked it out of the park on this release, it’s still an enjoyable listen that shows this is a talented band that has a bright future.
Highlights: “I Need To See”, “Never Again”, “Change My Ways”, “All The Lies”, “It’s Over”
Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.
2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.
Top 25 Albums of 2011
1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.
Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.
1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]
Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!
All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/
Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/
The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/
Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/
Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/
Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com
Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/
Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/
Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/
Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/
Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/
The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/
Posted in Year End Awards
Tags: Alice Cooper, Alternative Metal, Alternative Rock, Anthrax, AOR, Black 'n Blue, Black Country Communion, Black Sabbath, Black Veil Brides, Blues Rock, Chickenfoot, Classic Metal, Classic Rock, Def Leppard, Edguy, Eric Carr, Foo Fighters, George Lynch, Glam Metal, Glam Rock, Hair Metal, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Hell, House of Lords, Hurtsmile, Ian Gillan, Joe Bonamassa, Journey, King Kobra, KISS, Megadeth, Melodic Hard Rock, Melodic Rock, Metal, Metalcore, Mike Tramp, Music, Myles Kennedy, NWOBHM, Pop Metal, Power Metal, Reckless Love, Riot, Rock, Saliva, Savage Messiah, Scorpions, Sebastian Bach, Sixx:A.M., Slash, Sleaze Metal, Sleaze Rock, Speed Metal, Steel Panther, Stryper, The Last Vegas, The Poodles, Thrash Metal, Tony Iommi, Vains of Jenna, Warrant, White Lion, Whitesnake, Who Cares, Wildstreet
Black Veil Brides – Rebels (2011, Universal Republic Records)
1. “Coffin” … 4:15
2. “Rebel Yell” … 4:38
3. “Unholy” … 3:25
4. “Rebel Love Song” [Extended Director's Cut Music Video] … 6:50
Andy Biersack – Vocals
Jake Pitts – Guitar
Jinxx – Guitar
Ashley Purdy – Bass
Christian Coma – Drums
Zakk Wylde – Guitar (“Rebel Yell”)
Just six months after releasing the glam/metalcore Set The World On Fire album, the Black Veil Brides are back with an iTunes exclusive EP featuring one new original song, two covers and a music video. Truthfully, I couldn’t care less about the music video to “Rebel Love Song”. That seems like it would’ve been better suited to be included as a bonus on STWOF since that’s the album the song comes from.
I recently read excerpts of an interview with lead singer Andy Biersack who made it sound like BVB were looked to spread their wings beyond the metalcore scene. They don’t want to do anything fancy or “mature”, they just want to play & write fun rock songs. “More Motley Crue, less W.A.S.P.” is how Andy put it. “Coffin” will still appeal to their goth & emo Hot Topic fan-base but it’s definitely a song that shifts away from the metalcore sound into a regular ol’ modern metal sound that’s comparable to Avenged Sevenfold.
Just as Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows moved away from the awful screaming metalcore style of “singing”, Andy seems to be doing the same as well. He still screams but it’s not as abrasive as before and certainly sounds in place on Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” and KISS’ “Unholy”.
Yes, the ’80s influence is coming through even more. “Coffin” itself is a good song and stands up to the best from STWOF but if “fun” is what BVB is going for these days — then they’ve far beyond exceeded that with their covers of “Rebel Yell” (Zakk Wylde guests on this one) and “Unholy”. Their versions are great. A very powerful, heavy sound has been given to both and this especially suits “Unholy”.
I am very interested in seeing what is coming on the next album. I have a feeling that just like Avenged Sevenfold once these guys further break away from metalcore, they’re going to be one of the great modern metal bands.
Sixx:A.M. – Codependence [single] (2011, Eleven Seven Music)
1. “Codependence” … 3:37
James Michael – Vocals, Drums, Guitar
DJ Ashba – Guitar
Nikki Sixx – Bass
Producer: James Michael
On the same day the band released 7 (an EP featuring stripped down and rearranged versions of previously released songs) for download, Sixx:A.M. also released the song “Codependence” exclusively through iTunes for FREE. “Codependence” comes from the This Is Gonna Hurt sessions and while it was previously unreleased here in the United States, it appeared as a bonus track when the album was issued in Japan.
Though Japan often gets bonus tracks, sometimes those tracks aren’t really worth listening to in the first place, they’re just filler. Well, that’s not the case this time. “Codependence” doesn’t rate with the very best of This Is Gonna Hurt but I still like it. It’s much more straight forward than most of the tracks from the album making it a bit less memorable whenever James Michael is singing a chorus he can make the song sound like something you should be paying attention to. Even through the self-loathing and moody lyrics a lot of Sixx:A.M. come off sounding like really cool rock anthems and that’s what “Codependence” is to me.
But why take my word for it? It’s FREE. Go download it and listen.
Sixx:A.M. – 7 (2011, Eleven Seven Music)
1. “Lies of the Beautiful People” … 3:58
2. “This Is Gonna Hurt” … 4:46
3. “Life Is Beautiful” … 4:08
4. “Help Is On the Way” … 4:05
5. “Sure Feels Right” … 4:08
6. “Pray for Me” … 4:28
7. “Accidents Can Happen” … 4:09
James Michael – Vocals, Keyboards, Drums, Strings, Guitar
DJ Ashba – Guitar
Nikki Sixx – Bass
Producer: James Michael
One good thing about the digital age of music is how quickly a project can be announced to the public and then released. It was late November when Sixx:A.M. announced an acoustic EP was on its way and just a few weeks later it was digitally released on December 13th. I think it’s an iTunes exclusive but I’m not positive.
I’ve always been a fan of Sixx:A.M. Despite a few odd moments, The Heroin Diaries was good overall and This Is Gonna Hurt (which was released earlier this year) is absolutely fantastic with not a single foul track to be found. They’re a great live band as well. So when they announced they were re-working previous songs into an acoustic EP, I knew it was going to be good.
The whole acoustic thing isn’t really appropriate labeling though. The band has since backed off a bit on calling 7 an acoustic EP, preferring to say the songs are “stripped down”, which is the accurate statement. It’s not as if this is an “unplugged” performance. The production is still here, electric guitars as well, but the arrangements are different and acoustic instruments feature more prominently.
I like how James Michael didn’t lower his voice to a whisper just because the songs are “stripped down” and the tempo has changed. He’s still soaring on these songs when appropriate and he continues to prove himself as one of rock’s best vocalists.
I think “This Is Gonna Hurt” is a particularly beautiful song and stands out the most on this EP. The band has taken it in a completely different direction here and have turned it into a haunting piano-based ballad. Given Sixx:A.M.’s strong sense of melody and dark, emotive lyrics you can pretty much switch any of there songs from rocker to ballad or ballad to rocker and come out with great results.
The final words I have to say is that these were all great songs in their original form. They are all given a twist here on 7 and I consider the whole experiment a huge success. Sixx:A.M. itself has been a huge success in my eyes. They are one of the best bands to come along in the last 10 years and I’m anxious to see what else they have planned.
Black Veil Brides – Set The World On Fire (2011, Universal Republic Records/Lava Records)
1. “New Religion” … 3:50
2. “Set the World on Fire” … 3:39
3. “Fallen Angels” … 3:45
4. “Love Isn’t Always Fair” … 4:13
5. “God Bless You” … 3:18
6. “Rebel Love Song” … 3:57
7. “Saviour” … 4:23
8. “The Legacy” … 4:40
9. “Die for You” … 3:43
10. “Ritual” … 3:30
11. “Youth & Whisky” … 3:30
Andy Biersack – Vocals
Jake Pitts – Guitar
Jinxx – Guitar, Violin
Ashley Purdy – Bass
Christian Coma – Drums
Producer: Josh Abraham & Christopher Walken
Hollywood, CA’s Black Veil Brides are among the current crop of Hot Topic darlings and while there are a few screamo moments on this disc, the band has much more in common with ’80s metal than some might realize. The cool thing is the band doesn’t try to hide their influences. They cite Motley Crue & KISS as big influences (which is obvious based on image alone) but have also stated Def Leppard’s Hysteria was the inspiration for the recording & production process of this album.
Surprisingly, BVB is made up of some good talent. Pitts & Jinxx are a very good guitar duo and have no problem playing fast & furious while firing off solos. Vocalist Andy Biersack can growl and scream with the best (worst) of the current trendy metal crowd but the guy can actually sing too and that’s when this album is at its best. Thankfully, the screaming is kept to a minimum on Set The World On Fire and the band doesn’t come across as the cliched angry, disenfranchised or depressed youths like so many other bands from the metalcore movement.
With elements of glam metal, speed metal, power metal & metalcore, the Brides bring what I would call extreme glam metal to the masses. Their look and sound is heavy and unique enough to interest the wrist-cutters but there’s enough of an ’80s metal influence (featuring catchy choruses and slick production values and even a power ballad thrown in) to grab the ear of those that are fans of the Age of Aqua Net.
By the way, my copy of the album came with a mini fold-out poster of Jake Pitts. How cute.
Highlights: ”Set the World on Fire”, “Love Isn’t Always Fair”, “God Bless You”, “Saviour”, “The Legacy”, “Ritual”