Opening Act: A New Way To Live Forever
Club L.A. in Destin, FL
This was my first concert at Club L.A. out in Destin, Florida. I’m pleasantly surprised that a venue like this exists in a beachtown that likes to project a clean image for the families that visit in the summer. Of course, spring break is an entirely different tale of debauchery but the City of Destin doesn’t want anyone to know about that!
Doors opened at 7:30PM but I didn’t end up getting to the show until a bit after 8PM. I was thinking we’ve might’ve at least missed the start of the opening act but the bartender told us there was an issue with one of their amps so they were going on late. It was probably 8:30 or so when Fort Lauderdale’s A New Way To Live Forever took the stage.
ANWTLF plays in a style that’s grounded in ’90s rock. On their Facebook page, some of the bands they list as being fans of or being influenced by are Sunny Day Real Estate, Nirvana, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Lenny Kravitz, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon and Muse. Although I didn’t keep tabs on their setlist, they played for a good amount of time. I’d imagine probably 45 minutes or so at least and I think they closed with “California Waiting” by Kings of Leon. It was a decent set. This type of rock music isn’t really my thing but there were a few good songs in the bunch. The music of A New Way To Live Forever is definitely worlds away from Ratt ‘n’ roll! They seemed like a cool group of guys though. They hung out after their set for photos and autographs and to sell their CD. They even stayed around to drink beer, shoot pool and watch Pearcy’s set.
But now to the main event: Stephen Pearcy! I haven’t been able to find any info on who the members of his “Ratt Bastards” solo band are other than guitarist Erik Ferentinos. The show was by no means a sell-out. It’s a decent sized club and I’d bet by the time Pearcy played there was maybe 200 people there. As Pearcy said, “It doesn’t matter whether to me whether it’s 10 people or 10,000 people. It’s all a party!” Most of the crowd was as close to the stage as possible for Stephen’s entire set and they were into the show with fists in the air and singing along to every word.
I remember years ago the internet bashing Stephen Pearcy’s live performances pretty bad, posting them on YouTube and whatnot. I personally thought he gave a good performance on Saturday night. Yeah, his voice isn’t as strong as it once was but when you sing in that gritty nasally style that he does and you’re in your mid-50s, you’re not going to sound like you did on Out of the Cellar! Guys like Pearcy, Bret Michaels and Vince Neil catch a lot of flak for their live performances but considering their age and style of music they play, they do fine. It’s rock ‘n’ roll, not opera! It’s the spirit that matters, I don’t care if they can’t hit every note live.
Stephen Pearcy’s setlist:
Lay It Down
You’re In Love
Lack of Communication
Slip of the Lip
You Think You’re Tough
Way Cool Jr.
U Got It
Heading Out to the Highway [Judas Priest cover]
Back For More
Round And Round
As you can see, Pearcy played pretty much all of the hits you’d want if you went to see a Ratt show. I was hoping he’d play “Best of Me”, which was the single from 2010′s Infestation, but I can understand why he didn’t since it’s hard to count that as a “hit” for Ratt. I was actually quite surprised he didn’t throw in any Arcade or solo stuff. His solo material is a bit too industrial & alternative for me but I wouldn’t have minded it at all if he tossed in anything from the first Arcade record. That’s a great album.
For $15, I discovered one decent band and got to see a hair metal legend sing all of his hits from Ratt. Not a bad night at all. Well worth the money if Stephen Pearcy ever comes near your town.
Queensryche – Frequency Unknown
2013, Cleopatra Records/Deadline Music
3. “Give It to You”
5. “In the Hands of God”
6. “Running Backwards”
7. “Life Without You”
10. “The Weight of the World”
11. “I Don’t Believe in Love”
13. “Jet City Woman”
14. “Silent Lucidity”
Geoff Tate – Lead Vocals
Kelly Gray – Guitar (solo on Track 1)
Robert Sarzo – Guitar (solo on Track 3)
Rudy Sarzo – Bass (Tracks 1, 5, and 9)
Simon Wright – Drums (Tracks 1 and 5)
Randy Gane – Keyboards (Tracks 1, 5–6, and 8–10), Bass (Track 10)
Craig Locicero – Guitar (Tracks 1–10)
Jason Slater – Bass (Tracks 2–4, and 6–8), Keyboards (Tracks 7–8)
Martín Irigoyen – Guitar, Bass, Drums (Tracks 11–14)
Paul Bostaph – Drums (Tracks 6–9)
Evan Bautista – Drums (Tracks 2–4, and 10)
Jason Slater – Theremin (solo on Track 2)
Chris Cannella – Guitar (solo on Track 4)
Ty Tabor – Guitar (solo on Tracks 5 and 8)
K.K. Downing – Guitar (solo on Track 6)
Brad Gillis – Guitar (solo on Track 7)
Dave Meniketti – Guitar (solo on Track 9)
Chris Poland – Guitar (solo on Track 10)
Producer: Jason Slater
Even though I’ve always considered the band to be one of the more bland and boring rock/metal outfits out there, the story of Queensryche has become quite interesting over the last year. I’m certain more people are discussing Queensryche now more than they have in probably 10, 15 or 20 years. I know I am. If you want a good overview of what’s been happening and why there are two groups claiming to be Queensryche, check out this excellent article (which has been spotlighted and given the stamp of approval by the La Torre version of the band).
Well, as the world continues to wait for the Todd La Torre version of Queensryche to release their album, the Geoff Tate line-up has released their own album. Geoff Tate is probably one of the least popular guys in the world of rock & metal right now, so it’s no surprise the bashing started as soon as sound clips were released. But rightfully so. The production was pretty bad on the preview clips that were released. Some of those issues seem to have been corrected now that the album has been released but Cleopatra Records is now offering to send an even more recently remixed copy of the album to anyone to can provide them with proof of purchase of Frequency Unknown. They made this announcement just weeks after the album hit the shelves. It’s a head-scratcher. Why the label didn’t just wait and release a properly remixed album, I don’t know.
And just take a look at the limited involvement of the “band” and the long list of additional musicians. It’s a guitar solo-bonanza! They might as well be called “Geoff Tate’s Queensryche” or maybe “The Geoff Tate Group”, “Geoff Tate & Friends” or “Just Geoff”. There’s really no “band” here at all. The making of this album looks like a revolving door of musicians. Heck, this version of the band has already lost Glen Drover and Bobby Blotzer (they only participated in live shows before splitting)!
Okay, enough nitpicking. It’s the music that matters, right? Well, despite never really having any preference towards anything Queensryche and despite the fact that I agree Tate comes off like an arrogant jerk, this album is actually decent. I know Dedicated to Chaos tried to go some weird rock/pop/dance/whatever route and the band was properly trashed for doing so but Tate doesn’t go that route with the not-so-subtly titled Frequency Unknown (come on, it’s FU with a big fist coming at you on the cover… a message to Tate-haters and former band mates I’m sure). No, Frequency Unknown is a hard rock album with a modern sound. I’m okay with that. I think no matter what, Tate was going to lose. He’s getting bashed for sounding modern but if he tried to make an album with the classic Queensryche sound he would’ve gotten bashed for that as well. The closest he comes to his days of old is with “In the Hands of God” and “The Weight of the World”, I think.
“Cold” is a great modern sounding hard rock song. When it first became available, I wanted to be able to laugh at how bad it was and then continue on with my day, but it’s become one of my favorite songs of the year. I can’t stop playing it. Other songs like “Life Without You” and “Everything” remain highlights for me.
The only thing that truly weighs the album down are the four re-recording of a few Queensryche classics that are tacked on at the end. Tate has pointblank said he re-recorded them for the money because the label wanted these songs for licensing purposes. It’s only Tate and Martin Irigoyen on these songs. The sore spot here is Geoff’s voice. He sounds fine on the FU material, never going out of his weakening range but he just can’t hit the notes on these older songs. The music sounds fine to my casual Queensryche listening ears but I’ve read other reviews of die-hards picking apart Irigoyen’s musicianship. The production definitely lacking on these four songs.
Overall, Frequency Unknown had the recipe for a true disaster but Tate and his army of musicians pulled through and delivered a solid modern hard rock album. Just don’t expect much from the re-recordings.
Highlights: “Cold”, “Give It to You”, “In the Hands of God”, “Life Without You”, “Everything”, “The Weight of the World”
Skid Row – United World Rebellion: Chapter One
2013, Megaforce Records
1. Kings of Demolition
2. Let’s Go
3. This Is Killing Me
4. Get Up
Johnny Solinger – Lead Vocals
Dave “Snake” Sabo – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Scotti Hill – Guitar
Rachel Bolan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Rob Hammersmith – Drums
Producer: Dave “Snake” Sabo
Skid Row is one of the few name hair bands that hasn’t constantly been doing the tour/record/tour thing. Seems like they took a few years off even from touring, for some reason. I was starting to think that maybe there would never any new music from them since their first two albums with Johnny Solinger didn’t receive the highest of praise. I’ve always felt Sebastian Bach’s voice was what truly made the band special anyway. Yeah, they’ve written some great songs but other than Slave to the Grind, I don’t think they’ve ever written an entirely great album.
Still, when I read that Skid Row were going to release some new music (the plan is multiple EPs over the next year and a half or so), I had a good feeling about the album. I think the band is aware that people were not entirely enthusiastic with the previous Solinger albums and I felt they would proceed with that in mind. I actually think the cover for this EP is very striking as well and somehow (even though you shouldn’t judge an album by its cover) it gave me further hope.
Skid Row was always one of the darker and heavier hair bands (they eventually made the complete transfer from hair metal band to heavy metal band) and things are no different on United World Rebellion: Chapter One. This is solid 1980s sounding heavy metal full or anger and pessimism (as if you couldn’t tell by the EP’s title or cover art).
The only song that really doesn’t work for me is the ballad called “This Is Killing Me”. It’s a very simple, no-frills, lifeless ballad. Quite frankly, it sounds like something that Bret Michaels would write and record. The other four tracks are songs that I think fans of Slave to the Grind and Subhuman Race can appreciate. I’ve read comments elsewhere of someone complaining that this EP is trying too hard to sound modern. I don’t get that at all. Sound likes good late ’80s/early ’90s metal to me.
I’m very interested in hearing how the rest of the EPs are going to sound. I actually like this model of recording a lot. I’ve felt for awhile that older artists should mostly stick to releasing EPs and then compile them at a later date as a full album (as Skid Row plans on doing). I think too much time, effort and money goes into recording full albums for these bands who, let’s be honest, aren’t going to sell many albums in the first place. Slowly releasing EPs and then compiling them into an LP is a great way to keep your name out there and cut down on costs. Knock out five or six songs, go make some tour money during the summer, come back and knock out another five or six songs, repeat.
Highlights: “Kings of Demolition”, “Get Up”, “Stitches”
Jorn – Symphonic
2013, Frontiers Records
1. I Came To Rock
2. Rock And Roll Children
3. The World I See
4. Burn Your Flame
5. Man Of The Dark
6. My Road
7. Time To Be King
8. Black Morning
9. Like Stone In Water
10. Vision Eyes
11. War Of The World
12. Behind The Clown
13. A Thousand Cuts
14. The Mob Rules
Symphonic is a collection of Jorn’s songs, handpicked by Jorn Lande himself, that have been given a remix and orchestral makeover. Even dating back to when Metallica did it, adding orchestral arrangements on top of hard rock/heavy metal is a hit-or-miss affair. It’s hard to make a song work with an orchestra when they weren’t written with that in mind. Still, it can work depending on the song and as I mentioned, a number of these songs were actually remixed to better suit the orchestra element.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no expert when it comes to Jorn Lande or the various projects he’s been a part of. It’s only in the last few years I’ve begun to listen to his music but I do recognize some of the songs here like “A Thousand Cuts”, “Time To Be King”, “The World I See”, “Black Morning” and his Dio/Black Sabbath covers.
It’s no surprise that the more powerful numbers like “A Thousand Cuts”, “Time To Be King” and “The Mob Rules” are my favorite out of this bunch. There’s no tampering with those songs to make way for an orchestra. Get in where you can fit in. Mileage will vary on this album. I guess it really all comes down to ‘How much do you like symphonic rock?” Symphony isn’t a necessary release, there’s not one new song in the bunch, but it’s fine for what it is. It’s a satisfying placeholder until the next Jorn album comes along (which shouldn’t be long given this guy’s hectic schedule).
Highlights: ”Rock And Roll Children”, “The World I See”, “My Road”, “Time To Be King”, “Black Morning”, “A Thousand Cuts”, “The Mob Rules”
3. KISS – Monster
4. Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
5. Aerosmith – Songs from Another Dimension!
6. Adler – Back From The Dead
7. Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage
8. Hess – Living In Yesterday
9. Slash – Apocalyptic Love
10. Dokken – Broken Bones
11. Great White – Elation
12. Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown
13. Jorn – Bring Heavy Rock to the Land
17. Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue
18. Hinder – Welcome to the Freak Show
19. Million Dollar Reload – A Sinner’s Saint
20. The Morning After – Legacy
21. Heart – Fanatic
22. Accept – Stalingrad
Missed Them in 2012…
These are releases from 2012 that I’ve heard some songs from but I haven’t listened to the entire album yet. I wouldn’t have felt right trying to place them on the list without having heard the complete album. Look for reviews of these albums soon.
* Danko Jones – Rock and Roll is Black and Blue
* Black Country Communion – Afterglow
* L.A. Guns – Hollywood Forever (from what I’ve heard, this probably would’ve made my Top 10)
* Jettblack – Raining Rock
* The Last Vegas – Bad Decisions
* Ian Gillan & Tony Iommi: WhoCares
* Overkill – The Electric Age
* T & N – Slave to the Empire
* Lynch Mob – Sound Mountain Session EP
The “everything else” category.
1. Richard Marx – Christmas Spirit
2. Dio – The Very Beast of Dio, Vol. 2
3. Rod Stewart – Merry Christmas, Baby
4. John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John – This Christmas
5. TSO – Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night) EP
6. Dee Snider – Dee Does Broadway
7. Buckcherry – “Gluttony” [single]
8. Motley Crue – “Sex” [single]
9. Wildstreet – “Easy Does It” [single]
Most Anticipated in 2013
Judas Priest: Slated for sometime in 2013, this is easily the most anticipated album for me. I’m looking forward to and hoping Priest will deliver a classic sounding metal album and forget about overblown concept records. It’s just a shame KK Downing isn’t along for the ride but I think having some young blood in Priest might actually help push them to be heavier, harder and faster. The same thing happened when Scott Travis joined the band. I’d still love to see Downing come back at some point though. Why not have six members of Judas Priest?
Buckcherry – Confessions (Feb. 19): The lead single “Gluttony” has already been released and I’m really enjoying it. These guys do not disappoint.
My Darkest Days (fall): These guys have released two of my favorite albums from the last few years and are already writing for a follow up to last year’s Sick and Twisted Affair with a new studio album in the fall. I’m hoping the recent departure of guitarist Sal Costa wouldn’t delay the release.
Avenged Sevenfold: No timetable for a new album other than 2013. The band is supposedly going to begin recording this month.
Motley Crue: Another “sometime in 2013″ release. The question is — LP or EP? Vince Neil has mentioned it will be an EP and that’s more in line with what Tommy Lee has stated he’d like for the band to release from now on. Nikki Sixx has been referring to the next Crue release as an “album”, so I guess we’ll see. The single they released in the summer (“Sex”) was decent and seems to fit in with the modern rock turn Crue has taken since 2005.
Black Sabbath: Originally meant for 2012, all kinds of legal issues and drama have slowed this one down. Pretty stupid if they don’t end up pulling Bill Ward in but I’m interested just because I’m a fan of Iommi & Butler. In fact, bring back Ward and get rid of Ozzy and I’d feel even better about this reunion album. My preference is still for Iommi & Butler to form a new band with either Tony Martin (long shot), Jorn Lande, Ian Gillan or Glenn Hughes.
Megadeth: I dunno… Megadeth is one of my all-time favorite bands so I’m always interested but with each release I’m finding less and less to like. Yes, they are getting heavier and faster. Perhaps they are the heaviest and fastest they’ve ever been but Dave seems to be forsaking melody to do it. Seems like he’d rather go off on political rants and conspiracy theories than write memorable songs.
AC/DC: One of those bands that myself & radio have played out to the point where I’m kinda numb to them. But, Black Ice was far better than I ever imagined it could be so I’m definitely interested in new music. This past spring Malcolm Young said a new album would be out in a “year or two”. Here’s hoping it’ll be released in 2013.
Tom Keifer (spring) – I’m a big fan of Cinderella. People have been asking for a new Cinderella album for over 10 years now. I’m not sure why Tom would decide to a solo release instead but I’m not going to complain.
Deep Purple: Ian Gillan said they were planning a new release. Hopefully they follow through!
Anthrax: I think it was Joey Belladonna who stated in interview this past summer than they wanted to release something new in 2013.
Hardcore Superstar – C’mon Take On Me (March 1)
Black Veil Brides – Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones (January 8): I surprisingly enjoyed their last album. Looking forward to hearing whether they’ve kept the same sound or going even more glam/power metal than before.
Crashdiet – The Savage Playground (late January)
Bon Jovi – What About Now (March 26): I’m not a fan of the lead single, “Because We Can”. I actually haven’t been a fan of the last few albums either but I was optimistic because I liked all four new songs they released with the deluxe version of their latest greatest hits compilation. I can’t help but get excited when a new Bon Jovi album is coming out but I would not be surprised if this album was only good for a ballad or two.
Posted in Year End Awards
Tags: 2012, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Avenged Sevenfold, Black Sabbath, Bon Jovi, Buckcherry, Classic Metal, Classic Rock, Deep Purple, Dio, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Hinder, Judas Priest, KISS, Megadeth, Melodic Rock, Metal, Motley Crue, Music, My Darkest Days, Papa Roach, Richard Marx, Rick Springfield, Rock, Rod Stewart, Slash, Van Halen
Accept - Stalingrad
( 2012, Nuclear Blast Records)
1. Hung, Drawn And Quartered
4. Flash To Bang Time
5. Shadow Soldiers
7. Against The World
8. Twist Of Fate
9. The Quick And The Dead
10. The Galley
Mark Tornillo - Vocals
Wolf Hoffmann - Guitar
Herman Frank - Guitar
Peter Baltes - Bass
Stefan Schwarzmann - Drums
Producer: Andy Sneap
A reinvigorated Accept continues to storm through the world pummeling everything in sight with their old school heavy metal tank of destruction. Bringing Mark Tornillo into the was a stroke of genius as he really sounds right at home backed by one of Germany’s best and heaviest metal masters.
Although I didn’t find Stalingrad to hit me as immediately as the pummeling Blood of the Nations did, this album is essentially “Blood of the Nations, Part 2″, even if it is a bit more melodic. In the end though, I would rank this album to be every bit just as pleasurable as Blood of the Nations. Make no mistake that Stalingrad is no-frills traditional pounding heavy metal and it’s legitimate (i.e. they actually helped to create the genre and aren’t just ripping it off 30 years later) that we should all be thankful for.
Lap it up while you can, who knows how much longer the old masters can continue to crank ‘em out like this?
Highlights: “Hung, Drawn And Quartered”, “Stalingrad”, “Hellfire”, “Flash To Bang Time”, “Shadow Soldiers”, “Twist of Fate”, “The Quick and The Dead”
Zakk Wylde – Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Berzerker’s Guide to World Tour Domination (Book Review)
Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Berseker’s Guide to World Tour Domination
By Zakk Wylde with Eric Hendrikx
(2012, HarperCollins/William Morrow & Co.)
While I’ve always thought Zakk comes across as a cool guy, I’ve never been a huge fan of the music he’s played. That’s not a knock on his skills, I know he’s a great guitar player it’s just that Ozzy has never appealed to me much and I think all Black Label Society albums sound the same, give or take a few tracks. Still, when the opportunity to read this book came about, I figured it would be worth looking into because Zakk is a true rock star yet seems much more down to Earth than other “rock stars”.
If you’re looking for a detailed history about Zakk’s life, you aren’t going to find it here. You do pick up bits about Zakk’s early days and his family and home life but this is less of an autobiography and more of a humorous take on the good & bad that occurs on the way to finding your place in the world as a viking god of metal. The book is what the title says: a guide to world tour domination.
Mostly told through Zakk’s voice, co-author Eric Hendrikx handles a lot of the introductions to each chapter and a number of sidebars. Each one is so hilariously over the top, making metal sound so epic and majestic you’d swear these intros were written either by Jack Black or Manowar. There are also a few other “guest” writers such as UFC fighter Forrest Griffin, WWE pro wrestler Chris Jericho, TNA pro wrestler Bully Ray (aka – Bubba Ray Dudley), Zakk’s wife and various other friends & BLS bandmates.
This book is definitely not for the timid. The book is filled with very colorful language on each page and lots of gross out humor. If you’re turned off by tons of cursing, alcohol, detailed accounts of bodily functions and lots of talks about penis & vagina don’t bother picking this book up. The things Zakk says about his wife! That gal has a great sense of humor to sign off on this book.
There are stories involving Ozzy but the book mostly focuses on Zakk’s time since starting up Black Label Society. It’s obvious Zakk takes heavy metal and the Black Label brotherhood very seriously but at the same time everything is open for jokes. I really enjoyed the self-deprecating humor that Zakk displays in the book. Nothing is off limits and the book is written tongue in cheek. He’s not some rock star looking down on everyone trying to play it off like he’s the coolest guy around (though he may be) saying “here’s what you need to do if you wanna make it like I did, kid”.
Zakk may not drink anymore but he’s comes across as the kind of guy you could just walk up to and shoot the breeze with at a bar and have totally normal conversation. Books like these can sometimes be used as a weapon to take shots at certain people but Zakk doesn’t do that here (well, maybe other than the music labels) and I have to commend him for that. It’s a fun book with not a single self-important or mean-spirited page to be found.
While Ozzy fans and BLS fans should have a particular interest in this book, I also recommend it to metal fans in general if you’re looking for a good laugh and some fun/gross stories about playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band.
Hell – Human Remains (2011, Nuclear Blast Records)
1. Overture: Themes from “Deathsquad” … 1:14
2. On Earth as it is in Hell … 5:09
3. Plague and Fyre … 5:09
4. The Oppressors … 5:53
5. Blasphemy and the Master … 8:11
6. Let Battle Commence … 4:23
7. The Devil’s Deadly Weapon … 10:14
8. The Quest … 4:21
9. Macbeth … 7:21
10. Save Us from Those Who Would Save Us … 5:05
11. No Martyr’s Cage … 9:00
David Bower – Vocals
Kev Bower – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Andy Sneap – Guitar
Tony Speakman – Bass
Tim Bowler – Drums
Producer: Andy Sneap
Human Remains is an album I had listened to late last year but I’m just now getting around to reviewing it. The story here is that Hell was part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene in the early 1980s but never was able to get around to recording an album. They released a handful of demo tapes and 1 EP before splitting up in 1987. According to Wikipedia, they had signed with the Belgium label Mausoleum but the record company went bankrupt shortly before Hell was to record their debut.
Fast forward to 2008, the surviving original members of Hell (vocalist/guitarist Dave Halliday committed suicide shortly after the group’s disbandment in the ’80s) got together with Sabbat’s vocalist Martin Walkyier & guitarist Andy Sneap (who took guitar lessons from Halliday) to re-record some old Hell tunes for a proper album. After laying down vocals, it was decided Walkyier was not the right man for the job so Kev Bower’s brother David Bower stepped in to re-record Walkyier’s vocals (who had been re-recording the vocals of Dave Halliday!).
I’m actually quite surprised by how little attention this album has received. Even though Metal Hammer magazine has listed it as #6 on their best albums of 2011 list, I haven’t really seen many people talk about this album. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. Though the band seemingly does not like the NWOBHM tag (their Facebook page states their genre as “HELL”), they definitely play in that style while adding other metal elements such as thrash, speed, goth, black, power and symphonic.
I wasn’t even aware of Hell until this release. There are so many NWOBHM bands that came and went without having released a debut album, it’s hard to keep track! When I looked at the album cover and heard that guitarist/producer Andy Sneap was involved, I figured this was going to be really heavy stuff. Something that would be too heavy for my ears. Luckily, it isn’t and don’t let the imagery, lyrics or the over the top vocal theatrical performance of David Bower fool you — it’s all done tongue in cheek.
A couple of the songs are way too long: “Blasphemy and The Master”, “The Devil’s Deadly Weapon” (10 minutes!) and “No Martyr’s Cage” but even those songs have moments worth exploring. The band is definitely are their best with a straight ahead NWOBHM headbangers like “The Quest”.
And of course, the production is absolutely fantastic. Lots of stuff going on here to give atmosphere. That’s expected when you have Andy Sneap on board who has earned a reputation as one of heavy metal’s best producers.
An obscure gem from just last year, Human Remains should be picked up and listened to by fans of Priest, Maiden, Venom and Mercyful Fate. Here’s hoping this isn’t a one-off and Hell will continue to reign over us for quite some time to come!
Highlights: “On Earth As It Is In Hell”, “The Oppressors”, “Let the Battle Commence”, “The Quest”, “Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us”
Rat Salad: Black Sabbath, The Classic Years, 1969 – 1975
(2006, St. Martin’s Press)
By Paul Wilkinson
Here is a short review for a book I had considered buying on and off for years. While I have read a number of Black Sabbath books, I held off on this for awhile because it focuses on the Ozzy era up through 1975 and it’s well-known that I prefer the likes of Ronnie James Dio & Tony Martin over Ozzy Osbourne’s tenure. Still, when I found out it was available from the local library, I checked it out and gave it a shot.
To be honest, I got about 80 pages into this 240 page book before I decided to walk away from it. I am a huge Sabbath fan but you not only need to be a major Ozzy-era fan but also a musician to really get the most out of this book. All the talk about C sharp, E minor or whatever is absolutely boring to me. I am not a musician, so that detailed information means nothing to my brain. I read a review that stated this book is like a text book, in some ways, I agree.
In addition to that, the author tries to interject his own personal history into the book. I found this to be quite odd and it really disrupts the flow of the book whenever he delves into his personal life. If he wants to talk about how Sabbath affected his teenage years, fine, but I don’t care to learn about his school days, his best friends or first kiss. It’s really out of place and the author comes off as a self-important snob but then I guess most of us music critics are exactly that.
Bottom line: if you love the early years of Black Sabbath AND are a musician, you’ll probably like the book a lot. For those of us that like to listen but can’t play a note, there are much better books on Black Sabbath out there.
Scorpions – Comeblack (2011, Sony Music Entertainment)
1. “Rhythm of Love” – 3:39
2. “No One Like You” – 4:06
3. “The Zoo” – 5:38
4. “Rock You Like a Hurricane” – 4:15
5. “Blackout” – 3:48
6. “Wind of Change” – 5:08
7. “Still Loving You” – 6:43
8. “Tainted Love” (Gloria Jones cover) – 3:28
9. “Children of the Revolution” (T. Rex cover) – 3:33
10. “Across the Universe” (The Beatles cover) – 3:17
11. “Tin Soldier” (Small Faces cover) – 3:15
12. “All Day and All of the Night” (The Kinks cover) – 3:16
13. “Ruby Tuesday” (The Rolling Stones cover) – 3:55
Klaus Meine – Lead vocals
Matthias Jabs – Lead Guitar, Backing vocals
Rudolf Schenker – Rhythm Guitar, Backing vocals
Paweł Mąciwoda – Bass, Backing vocals
James Kottak – Drums, Percussion, Backing vocals
Producer: Mikael “Nord” Andersson & Martin Hansen
So, even though this album wasn’t released until January 2012 in North America, it was released in Europe in November 2011. This is how it snuck its way onto the 2011 edition of the Metal Excess Awards because I heard the album last year. I’d been putting off doing a review of this album for awhile and now that it’s available worldwide, this is as good of a time as any to talk about it.
Like most people, whenever I hear that a band is re-recording their signature songs, I just roll my eyes. It’s not really intended for the fans. It’s something that’s done as way to cut old labels/band mates out of royalties by licensing the new versions for commercials purposes instead of the originals. I understand and accept that. Anything that puts the screws to the idiots at the major labels is cool by me. Financial reasons aside, those type of releases are plain filler when it comes to the serious fan.
But I have to give the Scorpions credit for this album. Yes, they re-recorded seven of their biggest hits, and that means virtually nothing to the die-hards but they also added six freshly-recorded cover songs that helped inspired the band during their formative years. That (and only that) is what makes this album interesting and worth looking into as far as I’m concerned.
I will say this, given the modern and slightly beefier production, the classics sound good in their updated form. I won’t even bother listing them in the Highlights section because it’s familiar territory. I could’ve gone without yet another cover of “Tainted Love” but all of the covers are well done with the Beatles, T. Rex and Small Faces tunes standing out.
This supposedly is the FINAL Scorpions release, but you know how that goes… For $9 or so, if you’re a big fan of the Scorps, this is worth picking up.
Highlights: ”Children of the Revolution”, “Across the Universe”, “Tin Soldier”