Thursday, December 21, 2006

Top 5 Concerts Attended in 2006


This was my most productive concert-going year: 35 shows in all. I don't think I'll ever top that. It was a great year...

1. Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band @ First Midwest Ampitheater - I decided to go at the last minute and didn't really have that high of expectations, but the show absolutely blew me away. His 18-piece band packed a huge punch and he really looked like he was having fun. Superb.

2. Roger Waters @ First Midwest Ampitheater - I was so excited to see him and he did not disappoint.

3. Queensryche @ Potawatami Bingo Casino in Milwaukee - Great seats made this one special.

4. Mastodon @ Metro - Raw and powerful.

5. Y&T @ Chicago City Limits - The boys playing on our home turf for a change...

Other notable shows: Iron Maiden, Tom Waits, Randy Newman, Sammy Hagar, Journey & Def Leppard, Paul Stanley, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Tenacious D, Boris, David Zollo @ an Iowa wedding and Mutiny in Chicago (two shows).


1. Mastodon @ Metro -For a couple of seconds before their show started, I was standing right next to Brent Hines. That was nice. Covet. Plus. Mastodon at the Metro. Perfect.

2. Built to Spill @ Metro (two nights) - It's always a pleasure.

3. Lemonheads @ Double Door -I smiled so much during this show...

4. Unholy Alliance: Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb of God, Children of Bodom @ Aragon Ballroom - So hot. So many shaved heads and tatoos, I could hardly stand it.....

5. Queensryche @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino - Simply because we could sit and still be in the front. Mindcrime I and II and discount coupon for blackjack.....


5. Iron Maiden @ Allstate Arena - The WHOLE NEW ALBUM?!? Yes, please.....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Album of the Week 12/25/06
Iced Earth - Live at Metro Chicago, IL 04-20-04

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Suggested by: MJ

MJ: So to cap off 2006, I thought it only fitting to pay homage to my greatest musical discovery of 2006: a bit torrent site giving users the ability to share and download live bootlegs. It’s been an eye-opening experience and an exciting journey. Definitely the best thing to happen to my personal music experience since the mp3 player.

First, I will defend the practice of sharing live bootlegs. I personally think it should be far down on any copyright infringement enforcement task list, and best if omitted completely. Now, let me clarify – I used the word “sharing”. This site is specifically for those of us who want to listen to this stuff for our own pleasure, not to take these live recordings, package them, and sell them for profit. Also, the site will ban downloads that include any officially released material. For instance, if an artist used a live recording for a greatest hits package or a bonus track, the “offending” tracks have to be removed in order to let users continue downloads. They have their shit together, and they are providing this site for music lovers only. I’m a BIG fan of this site.

As far as the argument goes that you are ripping off the artists, I just don’t buy it. Of the bands I download from this site (and I think this is the case with most other users), in most cases I have purchased most of their official releases. I’ve given them plenty of my money. I just want more material to listen to. In most cases, the stuff that I have downloaded will NEVER be considered for an official release (case in point – this AOTW). But just because the record companies will never agree to release it due to suboptimal sound or the doubt that it will be a commercial success, does that mean that rabid fans should be denied these unique performances? What a damn shame that would be…

So enough defending this practice – let’s get into how I found this site, and why and how it’s changed me. Completely by coincidence prior to learning about the torrent site, I was at the library in the music section looking for a book. I came across the book “Bootleg: The Secret History Of The Other Recording Industry” by Clinton Heylin. I really got it as a backup in case the book that I came for sucked (it did). So I really enjoyed this book, but it was very dated. It was written before the whole mp3 craze and music downloading. Then unrelated to this book, I kept thinking how cool it would be to have video of Queensryche back in the day – specifically on the Rage For Order tour. I had been reading a QR message board and there was a section called “The Art Of Live” where people talk about live shows they have, etc. The problem is, anywhere I saw people talking about this it always required that you had to have something to trade with them (that they would want) to get their goods. I posted a question asking people how they got started and any suggestions for me who doesn’t have squat. A couple of folks sent me personal messages and led me to the torrent site. Ever since, I’ve been going nuts. There have been times that I have bordered on obsession. Anyway, one of the guys on the QR site started a QR DVD “torrent war” on the site so I could download a bunch of great stuff. That was the coolest thing. At first I just thought it was a coincidence, but then I emailed the guy and he pretty much fessed up that he was behind it. Very cool…

[Man, I’m kind of rambling here, but I’ll try to wrap this up and get to the point!]

I was never really into bootlegs before. I always thought it was weird how some people collect basically every show from the favorite artists. I just didn’t get it. But the fact of the matter is that I love live music. I love the whole experience of a live concert: scoring tickets, the build-up before the show, the minute the lights go out and you know this thing is ON!, the crowd, an obscure song a band plays, the feeling that you are hearing the best live music playing in town right at that particular moment, getting blown away by something, etc., etc. So this leads me to my ranking of treasures in the realm of bootlegs:

1. A show you were
2. A show from a tour you saw
3. An historic concert from a tour that you didn’t see
4. A show/tour that you missed that you are now kicking yourself for
5. A show from a band that you are thinking about getting into
6. A show from a band that you are thinking about going to see
7. A show from a band that you are definitely going to see when they come around

Those last two are ranked low because it can kind of ruin your live experience when you see the show. I’ve kind of ruined this a bit by looking at setlists beforehand, but this would be the ultimate. What I have done in the past is gone ahead and downloaded these, but in the case of #6, just listen to a little bit, and in the case of #7, not listen to until after the show I go to – but then I guess it turns into a #2. Obviously, within these rankings would include the sound/performance quality of each show, but you get my point.

So finally that brings me to the whole point of this – this week’s AOTW (finally!!!!)…

Well, Iced Earth Live in Chicago 2004 (April 20th, to be exact) was a show I was at, and a great recording to boot! Mark and I were pretty damn into Iced Earth and their new album, “The Glorious Burden” before this show. In fact, we went to see them again in Milwaukee a few days later. This bootleg gave me much more appreciation for what we saw. The singer, Tim “Ripper” Owens was absolutely wailing that night. And the riffs from Mr. Schaffer were awesome, as expected. What I think back as the greatest moment of the show by far was when they left the stage and the crew started rolling out old Civil War flags and it became evident that they were going to do “Gettysburg”, their 32-minute magnus opus from the new album. It was the highlight of the album for us, and definitely the highlight of the show. I don’t think they will ever do it in entirety again. So I feel lucky to have seen this tour (twice…). And now I feel even more lucky to have the ultimate souvenir from the show, a live recording of those moments we shared with the band and the surrounding crowd. Ok, I guess Ripper’s mic or micstand would also be pretty cool. Or Schaffer’s guitar. Or one of those Civil War flags. Or the Glorious Burden backdrop. Or someone’s underpants (better if it’s from a band member, but I guess one from a crowd member would be okay as well…).

MH: I swear you can hear the two of us screaming for this band in the background. This was such a whirlwind show. I remember I had to leave rehearsal early to get to this one. I missed all the opening bands, but got there in time for IE. I wasn't gonna miss this show. It had Ripper as the lead singer, and I think he's hot. Plus it was a metal band at the Metro. The greatest place to see live music. For Real.

This was also a catch up for my introduction into IE. I only knew a few of the tracks since we (Queensryche Mike and I ) had just started to listen to them. I would have loved to see them with the original singer Matt Barlow, but I am glad to see Ripper burning it up, yo. So the night was going to be relatively new to me.... I had the new album, but didn't know the back catalogue.... Notice the british way I spelled catalogue. I'm cool.

I just remember the anticipation of when they were going to come out and do the ENTIRE Gettysburg 32 minute long song. No way, are they really? Darn right. They pulled it off, and I loved every freaking minute of it. They need to tour again. Jon Shaeffer needs to get his back fixed or at least get a really cool back brace and stand him up and get him to riffing. I could use another show with them. We of course, drove to Milwaukee four days later and saw the same show at the Rave, which I highly recommend, and hope to do so again.
Not to be 14 and writing stuff on my folders at school, but Iced Earth Rule.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Album of the Week 12/18/06
Celtic Frost - Monotheist

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Suggested by: MH

MH: Now I just did a review for IQ saying how certain genres need to be taken in small amounts, right? Well, this one definitely falls into that category. Whenever these songs come on random, I am so excited and am happy with the aural assault that they do to my ears, but as I tried to listen to the whole album, I find my mind wandering. I think the music is great. The guitars are fantastic. It's heavy, aggressive, evil, all that shit. But I'm so ready for the album to be over. Now I once read in a Lester Bangs book, that music is perfect in it's form, and if you don't like a certain kind of music, it's just that your brain may not be ready to process it. I've struggled with that alot. I mean, I have been a convert to certain types of music or artists, and I feel this is true. But sometimes after I am listening to this type of death metal, I want to listen to something super adult contemporary. Like Melissa Manchester or The Mighty Barry Manilow. Just as a pallet cleanse. I'm sure that I will always have this as an option to listen to, but am not sure if I'm gonna pull it out at a party. Like I would pull out Bootylicious or Funkadelic.

I did put the song 'Winter' on my Christmas cd that I gave out to my family. It's properly gothic and gorgeous. It's an instrumental with a lot of forboding strings doing really long notes. Plenty of dischord and dissonance, too. It brings up imagery of cold, old drafty churches, solitude, and your hands and feet never getting quite warm enough. Which is the emotion that I'm sure they were going for. Mission accomplished, my death metallists. I ain't mad atcha. And is it pronounced Celtic with a "Kel" or Celtic, like the fabulous Boston Celtics? The mind reels....

MJ: Now this is some evil shit. And I love it. Kind of doomy in parts, with really crunchy riffs. I usually like good-quality doom metal – slow that shit down and just beat me over the head with that slow and sludgy, deep, dark and nasty jam.

This falls into that category of fairly brutal metal with that little extra something that keeps it on the side of good as opposed to monotonous crap. And that can be a very thin line, my friend.

When I first started listening to this several months ago, it struck me as the kind of music that I just couldn’t listen to straight through. Just a bit TOO much you know. But even in a period when I haven’t been listening to too much metal, this sounded really good to me – and I happily went the distance.

I think there is a lot of emotion on this album. The song “Ground” with the repetitive lyrics: “Oh God….why have you forsaken me…” is pretty damn intense. I mean, he means what he’s singing. A lot of the vocals on this album are repetitive, but to a good overall effect, in my opinion.

I really like this singer’s voice as well. It’s very effective in its evilness, but not so over the top that you can’t understand anything. Sometimes it even sounds a bit gothic, a la Peter Murphy of Bauhaus.

This was a good pick to start rounding out year. It was the AOTW in effect through Christmas Eve. I feel that we have officially exorcised the demons of 2006…

Monday, December 18, 2006

Top 5 Songs with the Word "Lonely" in the Title

1. Lonely Side Of Town - Y&T
2. Lonely Is The Night - Billy Squier
3. There Is Lonely - Prince
4. Only The Lonely - The Motels
5. Lonely Nights - White Lion

1. Lonely At The Top – Randy Newman
2. Only The Lonely – Roy Orbison
3. Lonely Days – Bee Gees
4. Lonely Weekends – Charlie Rich
5. Lonely Side Of Town – Y&T

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Album of the Week 12/11/06
IQ - The Wake

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Suggested by: MJ

MJ: I picked this without ever hearing it, based on reading somewhere that I should dig these guys if I’m a fan of certain other bands (namely, Marillion). I was sort of taken aback since I’d never even heard of them. So I decided to give them a spin.

I listened to this first at work, which is a terrible place to get a first impression. The volume is down way too low for starters, plus I get distracted. So after that listen, I was ready to do my write up – basically pan the album and talk about how it’s never a given that you will like a band because they are “similar” to some band you dig. This thesis was reinforced this weekend from another event, which I’ll get to later.

I usually try to listen to each AOTW more than once, particularly ones that are new to my ears. So I thought I would give this another chance. I queued it up on my mp3 player, but put a backup after it in case I just couldn’t get into it. Low expectations, my friends…

So off I go. Definitely prog rock – you can’t hide from those keyboards. The singer’s voice was not bothering me – kind of a cross between Tommy Shaw (Styx), Geddy Lee (Rush), Jon Anderson (Yes) and maybe someone else that I just couldn’t figure out. The music style sounds a little dated, it is from 1984 (22 years ago!). But I can’t poke holes at their musical abilities. There’s some pretty intricate stuff on here. There was one song (“The Thousand Days”) that kind of reminded me of that Flock of Seagull’s song “Space Age Love Song”. And oddly, that didn’t bother me that much. So I didn’t turn it off.

This one could actually grow on me a bit over time. I may even check out some of their more recent releases. And I was this close to discarding them forever…

Prog rock/metal is a tough thing. I think there is a fine line between good and cheesy. And I think this line is in a different place for everyone. This is a particularly delicate genre to turn people on to. I’ll be surprised if MH digs this one.

So what about the event over the weekend that I was talking about before? Ok, here goes. I was scanned my TV for HD things to DVR, and came across Dream Theater Live at Budokon. This is a band I’m supposed to like given that I like prog rock/metal and particularly because I like Queensryche. I’ve listened to a few of their CDs. I keep trying to get into them because I felt like I should – and hoping that I will get off on them like I do on Queensryche (the more the merrier!). But after watching a bit of this concert, it is finally apparent to me: I don’t like Dream Theater. There, I said it. It’s done and I’m extremely over it. It’s all about the vocals – they just sound weak and thin to me. I’ve seen the lead singer’s name on lists of best vocalists, but I just don’t get it. Coincidently, it’s of the same style as IQ’s singer, but I like his voice so much more.

So this reminds me once again that there are no guarantees when it comes to digging music. Sometimes the fact that a band “sounds just like” a band you love doesn’t mean shit. You may think, “yes, I can see your point, but there is one difference: they suck and the band I like rules”. And no one can really argue with that. I guess sometimes people say this without really trying to get into the music, but there’s nothing you can do about that (besides maybe duct-taping a pair of headphones around their head). Music is subjective. And I will not be subjecting myself to Dream Theater anymore…

MH: Man, this was an album that truly tested my patience. In a good way, I mean, at least I'm sitting listening to music instead of tarring a roof or something like that. Sometimes when an album is a specific type, in this case, prog rock, you kind of have to be in the mood to listen to it. In my humble experience, if it's not hitting you , it's hard to be dropped into a concept album. Because most prog albums are concepts....

I love the use of keyboards on this album. I have always loved interesting use of keyboards. And they have some good harmonies on this too. I think the idea of a choir of angels is fun and should be used in EVERY recording somehow. Don't we all need a choir of angels? For Real. Okay, I think that's all I have to say. I didn't really get into this, would love to, but I don't know If I feel like making time for another prog band. I can't even get through my Dream Theater CDs in one sitting and I've had them for years....

Friday, December 08, 2006

Top 5 Musician's Names in Metal


1. Matthias Jabs
2. Udo Dirkschneider
3. Warren DeMartini
4. Nicko McBrain
5. Bobby Blotzer

Honorable mention: Lemmy Kilmister


1. Zakk Wylde
2. Rudy Sarzo
3. Rick Savage
4. Bobby Blotzer
5. Yngwie Malmsteen

Honorable mention: Dave Meniketti. I'm not sure, but I think it's Dave Meniketti...
Album of the Week 12/04/06
Def Leppard - On Through The Night

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Suggested by: MH

MH: Okay, yo, this is the one that started it all. The first album by the mighty Def Leppard. I was such a huge Lep fan. They were my first band that I loved. I started with Pyromania, then got heavy into High and Dry. I never really got this one. I always knew that I would want it, and probably like it since I LOVE High and Dry. I'll even go so far as saying that it's my favorite Lep album. But this one, I never had. I did have a Union Jack Shirt though. I was cool. No one could touch me.

Queensryche Mike hooked my ass up with this album. It's all good. Now I feel that the song writing on this is still a little green, but that is entirely because it was their first album. It's a little more garage and raw, which is great considering where they have been on the last few albums, polished and perfect. I like the energy of "Sorrow Is A Woman", and you can not deny the awesomeness of the cover with the giant guitar on a truck rollin through space. That is pretty much as cool as you can get. I would love a t-shirt with that image on it, big time. It could go well with Mike and my plan to wear the most embarrasing ridiculous shirts to various opportunities. So far, Mike would love to do ZZ Top "Afterburner" I think Bon Jovi 7800 degrees farenheit. We would be cool as heck then. I don't think This album is as ironically funny, so I wouldn't feel too weird wearing this one. Maybe a Styrper shirt would be cool too. Or Trixter.

MJ: I typically only play two DL CD’s: “High ‘N’ Dry” and “Pyromania”. So it’s good to expand my scope from time to time. I will admit, I’m not sure I ever played this one in entirety before.

My main take on this album is that it really shows how Lep evolved and got much better. I guess it’s all about developing and building on what you’ve done before. This album sounds so much different than the two MONSTERS that came out subsequently (the two I’ve mentioned before…). Kind of a stripped down sound, sort of subdued rocking, and vocals that make me wonder at times if it is Joe Elliott.

Another thing that got my attention was how awesome many of the song titles are, but that they don’t really live up to the level of rocking the name implies. I mean, come on: “Rock Brigade”, “Wasted”, “Rocks Off” and “Answer to the Master”? “Rock Brigade” comes closest, and is probably my favorite song on the album behind “Hello America”.

Here’s a weird thing about this album. When Mark threw this out, my first reaction was that I didn’t know it that well and looked forward to it. I was ready given that I remember loving the song “On Through The Night”. But get this: that song’s not on this album. It’s on “High ‘N’ Dry”. I seem to recall some other artist with this same situation, but it escapes me right now. Very strange.

It’s very interesting listening to this and thinking about what was going to happen to this band over the next few years. They really kicked things into gear. I suspect part of this was songwriting maturity, but mostly I think it was that they hooked up with a good producer. Their next three albums were produced by the now legendary “Mutt” Lange, and not coincidently those were their biggest and best (the big two mentioned above, then “Hysteria” - we’re talking millions of records!). The boys just needed a little help with their rock. And boy did they get it…

One last comment I have: I always pretty much hated this album cover. I think that was another reason I didn’t listen to it much. I should think a huge guitar like that is awesome, but it just doesn’t work, in my opinion.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Album of the Week 11/27/06
Devin Townsend - Ocean Machine: Biomech

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Suggested by: MJ

MJ: In 2005, I discovered the genius that is Devin Townsend. My first entry into Devdom came from seeing the video for “Love?” off of Strapping Young Lad’s “Alien”. I would usually watch Headbanger’s Ball and fast forward through most of the crap – but this one caught my attention. It was quite extreme, but with a little hook that gave me something to sink my teeth into. I did a little research and picked up a different SYL CD. I really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t quite head over heels in love. Yet.

I continued to read about Dev’s other band, aptly titled The Devin Townsend Band. The brief synopsis was that this was much different than SYL, less extreme, more melodic, etc. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that and, without rushing into it, picked up some DTB stuff.

I was pretty much instantly blown away. The music was so…how do you describe it…HUGE. Very ambient, heavy at times, but mostly just really good songs. I found that the ability to weave in and out of intensity levels and “heaviness” really added to the overall effect, making the heavy heavier and the less heavy sound very delicate and beautiful (the McDLT effect – hot side hot, cool side cool...). Interestingly, it gave be a better appreciation for the SYL stuff. Sometimes, you just want to rock, you know?

“Ocean Machine: Biomech” was the one album of DTB (their first) that really grabbed me from the start. It is likely my favorite DTB album, although I will admit that I need to give the others more love. I seem to play this one a lot more than the others. During this week’s listen (which blended into the month), my love for this album has been solidified. This one ranks very high on my list of rock/metal faves. There are MEGAJAMS on this. I’m not sure if I know of a better one-two punch than the songs “Funeral” and “Bastard”. To add to that – the first song of that tandem is about eight minutes, the second is over ten. So yea, that’s over 18 solid minutes of ridiculous uninterrupted rocking. Put that in your hookah and take a lung-filling monster tug…

Of course, this solidification of my love does not come free. In my enthusiasm, I bought three CD’s and a DVD from Hevy Devy’s website the other night. One disc is his second ambient release, which is much different then both SYL and DTB. He says it’s good to go to sleep to. I could use that sometimes. The other two CD’s are demo and outtakes, some from this album. So I had to get those. I’m pretty much in for any and all that Dev has to offer…

MH: First off, I love Devin Townsend. I think he is so infinitely talented that it almost pisses me off. He is so prolific and all of his stuff is, even if I don't dig it, it is, at least, interesting. When QM and I started to find him, I remember looking at a magazine and seeing his "Skullet" and thinking, "I don't think I can handle this guy". It was then when I called QM and told him, "I don't think I can handle this guy". Then I saw a video for "Relentless" by Strapping Young Lad. It was the heaviest and most relentless riffage I had heard up to that point. I was kind of hooked. It had all the noise and melod that I love in metal. I think I called back QM and said "I might have been wrong about this guy..." So in classic form, QM then managed to download the entire catalog and in hours I had the whole Strapping Young Lad catalogue. It was then that QM found out that he had a series of solo albums that he released when he wasn't doing SYL. Awesome. We now had MORE by this guy!!! I think one of the reasons I like him is his sense of humor about his industry. (He's Canadian and their SYL DVD is called "For Those Aboot to Rock.") I also think I like him because his songwriting is as close to what I wish I wrote songs like. All melody and rock.

So let's get to this album. Ocean Machine: Biotech. I love it. I lose myself in his albums all the time. They actually are able to make me float away and I sometimes forget what I was doing before that. My personal favorite song on this album is "Life". That is one of the best songs I have heard period. It has a great sing-a-long chorus. It's got cool guitar scales in it. It sounds like it could have been in a 80's movie when the main character is learning that everything was going to be allright. Maybe a "Training" scene. And I mean this in the best possible way. It's one song that has remained on my IPOD since we got all his stuff. It's suprisingly accessible. Most of the other tunes on this cd are relatively long, 6 to 7 minutes, and I couldn't have been happier. I totally dug the riffing in "Funeral." And I think it's very ambitious to write a song called 'The Death of Music" Right on, Dev. Go on, you maniac.

Strapping and Devin Townsend are now on the VERY top of our lists to go see in concert. Strapping came around with Ozzfest last summer, but I couldn't bring myself to buy a ticket for System Of A Down and Disturbed. I think they are not that good, and it would have only been twenty minutes on the side stage. QM and I deserve a whole show. It would be perfect if SYL and DTB played together. He'd be tired, but hey, that's rock and roll. You can't say you're relentless without being so. I think he could do it. He's got the perfect Skullet after all....
Top 5 Songs that Contain the Word "Rock" in the Title

1. Rock Candy – Montrose
2. For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) – AC/DC
3. Rock Of Ages – Def Leppard
4. There’s Only One Way To Rock – Sammy Hagar
5. Rock You – Helix

This exercise made me realize there were quite a few songs to choose from. I know I missed some, and there are others that are Top 5 worthy. But I just had to include Helix...

1. Rock and Roll's Gonna Save The World - Y & T
2. Rock You Like A Hurricane - Scorpions
3. Rock You - Helix
4. Rock of Ages - Def Leppard
5. Rock Hard in a Funky Place - Prince
6. Rockaroid Rollazoid - Y & T (Honorable Mention...)
Album of the Week 11/20/06
Evergey - Monday Morning Apocalypse

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Suggested by: MH

MH: Ok. I picked this album. I did because I have now seen these guys twice and I have enjoyed them live both times. I think the singer is very enigmatic and the music is very entertaining. Plus I also know QM likes them alot and wanted to give this new album a shot. But to be honest, I could not STAND this album. At all. It is so polished that there is no danger, spontinaeity, or from what I could tell, passion. By about the third song that was about how his father didn't love him, I was done. I like my metal to be a little scary or aggressive. Which while the riffs tried to be hard, they just for some reason weren't to me. Oh well. That's all I really have to say about that one. Tune in next week...

MJ: Interesting pick, BOM. That’s cool that you picked one from a band that I totally embraced and you think you should listen to more (probably due to my constant ramblings!).

I REALLY like these guys. They are one of my favorites of the new metal bands that we’ve discovered over the last few years. Definitely progressive metal (I say with confidence, however can’t really pinpoint what that means – I just know it is). Their album “The Inner Circle” was my favorite album of the year a couple years ago. They usually have good melodies, lots of tempo changes, nice riffage, and cool special effects (voiceovers, etc.). This was a band that made me proud to have a Swedish heritage…

Mark and I saw them for the first time when they warmed up for Iced Earth. I never heard a lick from them previously. I wasn’t completely blown away, but I remember being captivated. Rarely do I go nuts about a band on the first listen. I don’t think I ran out and bought anything by them after the show either. But I kept thinking about it, and soon got the goods and fully sunk my teeth into them.

I was really excited when this was coming out, as well as the previously released live DVD. But for some reason I didn’t play either of them all that much. I seem to be describing this a lot on this blog. I think I’ve been getting so much music this year that I’m suffering from audio ADD. There’s so much I want to listen to, and no time to really sink into any one thing. I need to work on that in 2007. So this was a very good call as an AOTW pick.

On initial listens, I didn’t feel this was as good as a lot of their other releases. I think I would still argue this, but by no means does this mean it’s a weak release. It sounded pretty damn good to me this go around. It could be that I haven’t been listening to that much metal lately so this sounded a lot heavier to me. And one thing that is still true is that I really dig Tom Englund’s voice. Very versatile and unique. He’s just got a really good chops, and is definitely not a stereotypical metal voice.

Which leads me to a sort of embarrassing story, but what the hell. When Mark and I saw Evergrey the second time (warming up for In Flames in Grand Rapids, Michigan – and the fact that we drove there for the show is not the embarrassing part!), we were up pretty close for their set. At my age, I don’t know why I should get a kick out of things like this, but sometimes I try to find a moment when I think I can get a bandmember’s attention and get some acknowledgement of my ability to rock. Usually I’m not that close so it’s not even an option, but this time I felt I had a shot. Everyone was kind of focusing on the band, rocking in their own fairly reserved way. I picked a moment when the singer was kind of looking our way and giving him full eye contact I rose up an arm with vigor and pumped the tried and true devil horns in his direction. Much to my delight, he kind of raised his eyebrows in acknowledgement while continuing to sing, as if to signal to me “yes, I know we (or I!) rock, thanks for noticing”. So I was way too excited about this outcome and nudged Mark who saw the whole thing. Pathetic? Yea, sort of, but screw it – I’m comfortable in my role as an audience member and what that entails. And sometimes it entails pumping your damn fist and showing the band what is up….

There have been a couple times Mark and I have gotten positive acknowledgement from a singer. One was from an Iron Maiden tribute band with a singer that looked like Eddie Murphy. The other was from a band that I think will show up here at some point. In both cases, the singer was quite pleased with the level of rocking that he was witnessing…

Sidenote: I didn’t actually follow this particular season of “Survivor”, but doesn’t the guy in the upper right hand corner of the album cover look like that one guy that was on the show? This guy:
Top 5 Drummers Kicking it Now

1. Brann Dailor (Mastodon)
2. Jean Paul Gaster (Clutch)
3. Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)
4. Neil Peart (Rush) - Of course
5. Scott Rockenfield (Queensryche)

1. Jack DeJohnette - here's my total dick pick - he's a jazz drummer and in my opinion they blow all other drummers away!
2. Neil Peart (Rush) - so hard to accurately air drum to him
3. Levon Helm (The Band, solo) - bonus points for being a great singer as well!
4. The dude from Mastodon
5. The dude from Strapping Young Lad

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Album of the Week 11/13/06:
Tom Waits - Frank's Wild Years

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Suggested by: MJ

MJ: Eventually I had to make a pick for AOTW that would show that I don’t just listen to metal. I was on a roll there. Come on, Dokken and Fastway back-to-back? Was anyone worried about me just a little bit?

Got to see TW for my second time this year, which is always a treat. He’s one of my favorites, and a just felt I would force Mark to listen to one of my favorite albums by him. Also, he put out a fabulous 3-CD box set of unreleased and new songs a couple weeks ago, so I was getting myself in the mood…

I lean more towards the older, slower Waits stuff. I still like the wilder songs he does, but much prefer the quieter, balladesque (I think I made that word up) songs. This album is a good mix of the two styles. There are many different musical stylings on this one. It’s such an interesting album, and hangs together as a whole so nicely. He was on such a roll at this point of his career – “Swordfishtrombones” and “Rain Dogs” were his previous releases.

“Innocent When You Dream” (both versions), “Cold Cold Ground” and “Train Song” are among the album’s highlights for me, but as I said before, it’s the sum of the parts that make this album so special. A certain atmosphere is created throughout that binds it all together.

Okay, I’m in the mood now. On to discovering that box set…

MH: Here's is my Tom Waits story. He took a long time for me to like him. When I was living in Indiana, I kept hearing about him, and that I was supposed to love him and respect him. The only thing was, I couldn't stand his voice. I found it grating and obnoxious. I started to like and admire his songwriting, but I couldn't listen to any of it because he freaked me out so much. Then, Glory Be, two TWO albums came out of other artists covering his stuff came out at the same time. I bought them immediately. It was "Holly Cole Temptation" and "Step Right Up" by various artists like 10,000 Maniacs, Violent Femmes, and my fav at the time Frente! I was thrilled. I got to know all of those albums pretty well, and really liked Tom Waits enough to give him a shot. ( I know, How BIG of me) I bought the album Closing Time while I was in Scotland at this totally cool cd shop that I think at the end of the trip everyone in Schadenfreude had purchased at least 5 cds each. They were cheap for albums that we didn't have. They bought a lot of Zeppelin. I bought Tom Waits and Meatloaf. I also bought Justin some Roberta Flack, yo. No Big Deal. Anyhoo. Closing time became one of my favorite albums. His piano work and the mood of his songs on that album were perfect.

When I hear Tom Waits, these images always pop in my head. Trains, pork pie hats, stale beer smell, ripped leather or vinyl barstools, coughing, unkempt beards. It all winds up having the same I could have been or done more sense. Sad, but not melancholy in a way. Like he's gonna go on, but is wiser for the lesson. And it always seems like he's coming home...

When I had the radio show for our pilot I used the song "Depot, Depot" off the "Heart Of Saturday Night" for a scene. It just fit perfectly.

Which brings me to this album of the week. I loved it. I knew a couple of the songs already since I just recently saw him in concert. The album as a whole is fantastic. He is such a good songwriter I can hardly stand it. I wonder if his real life is as interesting as his album's alter egos. It would be interesting to talk to him about it. I listened to it while I was on a train coming up to the city. With every clickity clack of the rail, I felt more at home with this record. I just want to travel in a boxcar when I hear his stuff. Of course, a boxcar with a bathroom and at least ONE comfortable seat. His arrangements are so simple too. Like all good music, Simplicity is beautiful. His piano work is fantastic. I hope to own everything he has and to put one song on every mix tape I make. Because I feel people need to be reminded of his brilliance...Well done, Brother of Metal. Good Pick....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Top 5 Artists/Bands You Would Like to See Live for the First Time (that aren’t dead or disbanded with a very low likelihood of reforming):


1. Fish solo (ex-Marillion singer)
2. Strapping Young Lad/Devin Townsend Band
3. Nevermore
4. Manowar
5. Pete Townshend solo


1. You Am I
2. Swervedriver
3. Van Halen (Roth) (It could happen)
4. Strapping Young Lad/Devin Townsend Band
5. Oasis

Album of the Week 11/06/06:
Demons & Wizards - Touched By The Crimson King

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Suggested by: MH

MH: Why I like Demons and Wizards. Jon Shaeffer. He is the mastermind of Iced Earth and half of Demons and Wizards, (along with the lead singer of Blind Guardian). The thing I like best about him, is that you can totally tell when you're listening to his bands. He has such a fast playing style, and I think, secretly (or not so secretly) wants to be in Iron Maiden. This album is one of the reasons I wanted to start an Album of the Week place. It's an album that I have, like, but don't listen to enough. Pretty much all of my Iced Earth catalog and the other Demons and Wizards have been listened to but not as much as they could be.

Sometimes his playing is so fast that I wonder how it is done. Then we saw them in concert and I focused on his playing to see how he did it. I found out that at least on one song he has the same guy playing the same riff,but alternates hitting certain notes so it sounds like this incredible riff done by one guitar, but it is done by two. God, if he was that good, I'd have to worry about whether or not he was of this earth. This Iced Earth.

One of the things I like best, and it is exemplified in this album, is his usage of mystical themes and old world imagry. All very visual and tough at the same time. I mean, the album is called Touched by the Crimson King. Wicked Witch was a stand out track to me. I also love his useage of background operatic vocals. I think he wishes that he lived in the time of Wagnerian Double basses and monks chanting their chants. Cause with the current album, they are all on there, but for this generation. Now, I'm not sure how much lasting power this album has though. Sometimes after I get done listening to this, I put it away and don't bring it out unless I have a jones for it. Which I don't know if it's a flaw, or if it just takes a certain mood to listen to this stuff.

Plus, he's kind of hot. He rides a Harley, and has a bad back. Hot.

MJ: Lo and behold – the riffmaster himself, Jon Schaffer! This was a good pick for the AOTW. I was so excited when this was coming out - I didn’t even know they were working on a new album. Then it came out and I didn’t really listen to it that much. And truthfully, it’s not like I play the first Demons & Wizards all that much either.

So what’s the deal? Well, it’s certainly not a problem with the music. Schaffer’s riffs are extra-meaty, per usual. He’s definitely one of my favorite metal shreaders. The lyrics? I don’t think so. I don’t even now what the hell they’re talking about on this one, but they certainly don’t get in the way. So what’s left? The voice. The singer is the guy from Blind Guardian, Hansi Kursch. I’ve tried for a while to get into Blind Guardian. I’ve bought some CD’s – thought it sounded pretty good, but in the end I don’t go back to them. His voice is not awful – in fact it’s very unique and he can hit the notes. But I guess it’s just not for me. This week’s AOTW made that clear to me for the time being.

I thought about how I would rank the vocalists Schaffer has worked with, and came up with:

Matt Barlow
Tim “Ripper” Owens
Hansi Kursch

I’m not ruling out my ability to revisit this at some point in the future. Maybe his voice will grow on me. But I couldn’t help but think how awesome this album would have been if Barlow or Ripper were on vocal duty. Wow.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Album of the Week 10/30/06:
Trick or Treat Soundtrack

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Suggested by: MJ

MJ: I picked this for obvious reasons, but I’ll admit I was intrigued with both the movie and the soundtrack. This is one that you have to consider in the context of the year it came out, 1986. “It was twenty years ago today…we got to jam to the sounds of Fastway…” (Sorry.)

Let me start by saying that with all of their deficiencies, both movie and soundtrack are not as bad as I thought they would be. I figured the special effects and the acting in the movie would be pretty lame. But I thought it was a decent “scary” movie with pretty good acting. There were high school outcast clichés galore, but I thought the storyline was interesting at first. The backward messages in the album were kind of creepy when first introduced in the movie. You have to remember that this did seem to be a threat back in 1986 – metal music corrupting youngsters minds to the point of making them do crazy things (other than just banging their head). (As a sidenote – I think it’s kind of interesting that the advent of CD’s kind of threw out the ability to play stuff backwards. I guess now the evil bands just have to come right out and say it to the kids forwards!) But I will admit the movie kind of falls apart in the end and the whole point becomes a little cloudy. It seemed like they had a good idea for the movie and then lost interest when it came to actually finishing it up. The DVD that is out tries to capitalize on the fact that there are appearances by Gene Simmons and Ozzy. Pretty misleading marketing, their scenes are very short and not all that interesting. But in the end, I sat through the whole movie and kind of cared how it was all going to turn out. And I did get a kick out of how the was music featured in the movie.

I listened to the soundtrack a couple times before watching the music, which made it much more fun. Almost every tune is very anthemic in nature, which I always get a kick out of. And like the movie, clichés galore! This stuff exists for the sole purpose of making kids pump their fist in the air. There’s no way at this point that any fist pumping that I will do to this will be accompanied by a tongue firmly pressed in my cheek. Absolutely none of the song titles or lyrics will surprise you AT ALL: “Don’t Stop The Fight”, “Get Tough”, “Tear Down The Walls”, etc. But you know, what the hell. It’s pretty fun stuff, even if it is kind of silly. And the singer (Dave King) has pretty good chops. I’ll play this again when I don’t want to think to hard and just want to rock.

I find it very interesting looking back that they went with a full soundtrack of original material from Fastway. I don’t recall them being that big at the time, and they were kind of living or dying with these guys. What’s really funny is that the music isn’t scary at all. There’s a hilarious scene in the movie where this guy comes back from the dead to sing a song at the high school dance. There’s a ton of suspense as he’s staring down the crowd. Then he starts beating his crenched fist against his hip. With the look on his face, you would think he would be getting ready to emit mouthfuls of super evil shit. Then the song starts and he starts singing. If I had been drinking a beverage at that instant, it would have been a classic spit take moment. The song isn’t evil at all, just some stuff about rock n’ roll and stuff. I mean, at the time there were some bands out there that put out some pretty brutal stuff. But alas, they wouldn’t have had a chance to be hit singles – and it’s my guess that’s what they were going for. Well, hit singles on a pretty limited budget…

MH: My first comment on movies like this is: PROPAGANDA! It is such a message movie to parents and the producers who made this were clearly in the PMRC. Basically, if you let your children listen to heavy metal, they will end up dead or killing someone. When the scene happened where Skippy from Family Ties started to play the music backwards and the mom had such a scared look on her face, and the mom just didn't understand, I felt so preached to. I listened to a TON of metal growing up, and I am as pleasant as a salve. Bonus points for Melrose Place's Gay icon Doug Savant who, as a bully, looks GREAT in a skinny tie!

The second thing I thought of, while watching this movie, and listening to the soundtrack deftly played by FASTWAY (with a lead singer who always reminded me of Lauraine Newman for SNL): THIS scared parents? The evil main rock character and the music are simply just not scary. Now, don't get me wrong, parents, there are a ton of bands that could be feared. Mayhem, Gorgoroth, slipKnot, Dimmu Borgir and alot of those norweigan bands who advocate the burning of churches. That kind of stuff. That's scary because they are actually following ancient Nordic religious practices of trying to demolish catholicism. I would have bought it more if they threw down some Immortal or Emperor or something....., um, but Fastway? Not exactly scary. But of course, I am comparing them to today's standards where shocking is pretty mainstream and not as shocking anymore.

Oh well. On the musical side. I think Fastway could have been big. The singer, Lauraine, has chops and I think maybe they were just kind of overshadowed by more flashy, glammed out bands at the time. Too bad for them. The guitar playing is tight, the energy is up. Their lyrics are awful, but they could be seen as empowering to young budding teenagers who are just sick of it all. I wonder what Fastway is up to now? Um, hard to tell. I bet they are certainly not scaring anyone.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Album of the Week 10/23/06:
Bob Mould - Black Sheets Of Rain

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Suggested by: MH

MH: Mould. Yet ANOTHER connection musically that QM and I share. I have been a Mould fan for a while. Whatever. I'm not as big of a fan of his electronica stuff, but his new album is better. More rock, less techno. I bet I would like it if I had Robot ears.

Which is why I chose 'Black Sheets of Rain' as AOTW. His second solo album after the classic album Workbook. (One of the greatest albums I have.) I liked the acoustic nature of the album comapred to his punk Du days. I always found him fascinating. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew I had a connection to him somehow. His songs were so obsessive and longing and I just kind of related with them hardcore. Then the day I found out that he was indeed gay, I thanked the gods. I love the fact that a gay guy can rock the BEJESUS out of a guitar, and no one cared if he was a gay or not. I was going through some crap with this guy named Charlie, and the song "If I Can't Change Your mind" when he was in Sugar, fit perfectly around my poor little heart. Only a guy could have written that song for another guy. It was clear to me that he was kin, you know? My brother maintains that seeing him on this (Black Sheets of Rain) tour was the loudest concert he had ever seen. And he's seen a lot.

Okay, to the album. I LOVE how dark it is. Just the title track alone which opens the album is perfect. "Is there an upside to every downside?" I remember I listened to this album along with alot of Counting Crows and The Original Cast Recording of RENT as I was driving out to Colorado to see my Tiffy. I quit my job, shaved my head and drove west to see what was up, you know? And this album just felt good to me. I was in love with Charlie, and he was not in love with me even though he would let me rub his naked ass. Whatever, man.

What I like about him is his darkness, and his troubled heart. I think it makes for the best songs, you know? Who wants happy artists? But then he partners the darkness with really optimistic melodies and pop lines, ie "Out of your Life." I wish I could have seen this tour myself. Who knows what I was doing at the time. Probably rubbing "not"-gay Charlie's naked ass then going home to jerk off like a mad man. Wow! There's a picture, huh? I would have loved to see his face (Mould's, not Charlie's) when he ripped through "Stop Your Crying", and the last track which just sounds cathartic to me. I love his screaming songs. Must be the metal and Punk fan in me. Good way to end an album.

MJ: Well, here’s another one of the musicians Hanner and I realized we had in common the first time we met. Right on to that…

Bob Mould is one of those guys that I liked right away. I just love his sound so much – I’m pretty much in for whatever he throws at me. However, I do tend to focus on one of his albums over others – the one that got me into him. The album is “Workbook” and it is likely in my top 20 albums of all time. For this reason, Mark’s selection this week was a fantastic call. This one in particular got lost in the shuffle for me. I just didn’t listen to it much.

Upon listening to it this week, I have no good reason why this one is not on a more regular rotation. While maybe not as complete as “Workbook”, many of the songs stand up nicely to that previous release. I totally dig the title track and for some reason “Stop Your Crying” really jumped out at me this time around.

All in all, this proves out one of the reasons for this webpage: to be reminded of things that for whatever reason did not get your full attention the first time around. I’m sure there are many more out there. Stay tuned…

Monday, October 16, 2006

Album of the Week 10/16/06:
Dokken - Back For The Attack

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Suggested by: MJ

MJ: Okay - first of all, part of my reason for picking this album ended up being an inaccurate figment of my imagination. For some reason I was thinking this album was released a bit later, outside of the metal heyday of the mid to late 80’s. I’ve since read some really good reviews on this album and it intrigued me. My theory was going to be that there was some really good metal albums that were released that never caught on simply because metal was “out of favor”. (How many interviews have you seen with 80’s metal folks that blame Nirvana for their demise? The thing is, I don’t think they are just trying to blame someone. I think that’s really what happened, more or less.) So I made it my pick, then realized this came out in 1987. My theory was blown. Metal was alive and well in 1987. So, as a fan of Dokken around this time, why did I miss this album?

I realized that occasionally I get a mental block on some bands and albums that I just can’t shake. For this album, I think it was the whole business with the song “Dream Warriors” and it’s association with the third installment of the “Nightmare on Elm Street ” movies. I didn’t really like the song and I’m pretty sure the video was ridiculous and had Freddie in it. In fact, on further listening I think this is the weakest song on the album. The chorus just sounded kind of weak to me. Now, it turns out that this song was originally released on a special EP, then thrown on the end of this album for the heck of it. Also, I swear I remember hearing a fairly lame chorus that would have been for a song called “Back for the Attack”, but now I see that there wasn’t a song like that on this album. That one really confuses me. So with those two things in my head, I did not pursue the album any further.

Another thing I find interesting is that the timing of your inroads to an album could be critical. Take some album that for some reason just clicked with you at the time it came out and you still love today. Now ask yourself, if I were to listen to this album for the first time 15-20 years later, would I embrace it as I did before? I’m guessing in many cases the answer is no. So I was definitely up against that problem with this Dokken release.

I’ve listened to this album a couple times before this week, so I didn’t go into it completely cold. I was surprised that it sounded pretty good and heavy before. But this week I was going to really sink my teeth into it. So I listened to it four times. As much as I will admit it does sound a bit dated, I had a fantastic time listening to it and it felt very nostalgic. But I think it stands up musically pretty darn well. As much as Don Dokken’s vocals have always been my key to the band, it was George Lynch’s axework that really jumped out at me. Really good stuff. (I read somewhere the Lynch was the runner up in Ozzy’s auditions for lead guitarist for his solo band behind Randy Rhoads – so yes, he’s good.) Generally the first part of the album is its strongest : “Prisoner”, “Night by Night” – then holy crap, the instrumental song “Mr. Scary”. My god that song is a jam. Lynch just totally shreads. Shreads, I say!

A lot of people cite one of the weaker songs as the single which enjoyed some success “Burning Like a Flame”. Yes, it’s pretty melodic, but I like it. You can’t rock your ass off all the time. It’s a great song to sing in the shower, I suspect.

So this exercise renewed my appreciation for Dokken. I think another reason that I didn’t bite on this back in 1987 is that I was distancing myself from much of the glam metal type bands in favor of bands like Motorhead, Iron Maiden, etc. Dokken leans much closer to the glam side of the spectrum, but in the end I don’t think they should be lumped in with that genre. I think they were a good band with great licks and nice melodic chops from Don. I think it stands the test of time pretty well. It works for me, at least.

(Future AOTW foreshadowing – there’s another band/album that may just fit into my original theory that may be coming down the pipeline at some point…)

MH: Yup, I actually had two Dokken albums.(!) Vinyl! I was so into Def Leppard that I started to wander outside the Pyromania camp I was holled up in, and got "Breaking The Chains" for my birthday. I loved the song "Breaking The Chains" SO MUCH! I listened to it, then I turned off the album. I don't know why, I just didn't know that there would be more songs that I would like. Isn't that weird? My brother in law (at the time) Andrew told me that I should listen to the rest of the album as there might be other good songs on there. I for some reason never thought of that. I listened to all of Pyromania, why wouldn't I listen to all of Dokken.

I then got "Tooth and Nail". I though it was the height of toughness with the evil claw and the flames coming out of it. Then I fell in love with the song 'Alone again' that I wrote down the lyrics and put them in my literary magazine for my eighth grade english class. Then I suddenly totally stopped listening to them. I think it was because I got, "Piece of Mind" by Iron Maiden. and that left Don's melodic warbling to the side unforunately.

I, of course, still LOVE "Breaking The Chains", and it's still on my ipod.

I had no idea what this album, "Back For The Attack", would be like...QM had been talking about it for a while and how it was released later than all the hey-day of the metallic eighties, but if you read the previous post, that was proven to be a little off. Which makes me think. Why wasn't this album bigger when it was out? It had to be better than the other stuff that was out! This album has hooks all OVER it. I really enjoyed the shit out of this. I think George Lynch is the pulse of this band. He is such a good guitarist and muscular and powerful and highly underrated in my eyes as an axeman.

Then I realized why this album wasn't big... Forget everything that was out at the time. This album has some of the WORST lyrics I have ever heard. And, unfortunately, every song has some of the same structure. Riff, verse, sing along chorus, verse, sing along chorus, guitar solo, sing along chorus, fade out. Now do NOT get me wrong. The music on this album is fantastic, but I could not get past the lyrics. When I finally got to "Tale of the Gypsy" I was ready to give up. Don Dokken has such a nice melodic voice, that I have always wondered why he chose to be a metal star. It seems to betray his golden tones. He certainly can growl, sort of, but when he was singing the lyrics he just sounded a little silly to me. He needs to work a little bit harder on the content and less on making sure the audience has a sing along opportunity. I think maybe the band would have stuck together if they would have focused on making music that they liked, and not what every studio was putting out at the time. I was also really pleased how uptempo the album was. There wasn't really a ballad on there that I could discern. Well, done Don. All in all, this album is something they should be proud of musically. And George Lynch is a madman on the fret.

My Dad likes Dokken.

MJ: I would have to agree with you on the lyrics. Don and the boys are no thespians. Thank god I have always been able to ignore the silly lyrics in some of my favorite bands. If I had to defend the lyrical content of some of my faves (Y&T included!!!!), I would have an uphill battle. Now when I hear the ridiculous things that are said, I just smile and jam to the riff. I know you agree with this as well, MH - in fact, I think you said something like this in a previous post.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Album of the Week 10/09/06:
Meshuggah - Catch Thirty-Three

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Suggested By: MH

MH: First of all, I think the idea of a concept album is awesome. I agree that sometimes, it is a bit alienating to the new listener of the band or if you just want to have singles off an album. But bottom line some of my favorite albums have been very conceptual. Operation Mindcrime, Leviathan, 2112, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. So I was IN at the release of this album.

These guys are such good players. There is one track that just had the guitarist playing the same chord for what feels like, 30 seconds. Then the rest of the band comes in and he is still playing the same notes. These guys are good. I wonder what Rush thinks of them? I think they should hear this disc. These guys are super heavy too. You can't really understand the lyrics, but I don't really care much about lyrics anyway. One thing that I learned about this disc is if you aren't lisenting to it in a row, these songs sort of don't work on their own. They are needed to be listened to the whole disc. Which isn't really that hard since the disc is, maybe 37 minutes or something.

I feel the album picks up during the last few songs. Dehumanization is great and a Jam. They seemed to be able to write the whole album with certain chords and have been able to sustain it, and yet, change some of the ideas with a simple change in tempo or melody line. Again, these guys are good. I need to listen to more of these guys. Which is kind of why I picked them, so I could be reminded about their jammingness. QM (Queensryche Mike, a.k.a MJ) got to see them, and I couldn't . Which sucked. Oh well. This album may not make the rotation, but I love it!!!!!! I ain't gonna worry about a god damn thing.

MJ: So what is this classified as, "Math Metal"? I'm still trying to figure out what the hell that means - music to play when you are leisurely working on calculus? Does the guitarist take a fairly awesome riff, then raise it to the third power? Anyway, it's been so long since I listenened to Meshuggah that I kind of forgot how they sounded. To me, it's one of those fairly extreme bands that has that little extra something that makes it work for me. Nice chunky riffs, they slow it down a bit and just go heavy on our ass...that's what I'm talking about. I will admit, there are times when the songs get a little repetitive - but I guess sometimes you just have to settle into the groove and see it all the way through...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Album of the Week 10/02/06:
Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny

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Suggested by: MJ

MJ: I went with this as my first pick due to its historical metal significance, that this year marks its 30th anniversary, and that I personally don't play this JP release all that much. So I wanted to give it a little love...

To fully appreciate this, you have to listen in the context of what it must of sounded like back in 1976. What was ruling the airwaves at the time? Lite rock? Disco? Now, it's not like this kind of heavier music hadn't been heard before: Black Sabbath had been out for quite a while, and it is the second Priest release. But I have to make the claim that a new breed of metal was born at approximately the 6:48 minute mark on the first track "Victim Of Changes". From this point on, Halford just brings the song home with his signature screaming. Over the last five seconds of the song he emits a soaring scream that acted as a sonic calling to all would-be metalheads. It's beautiful.

How I would have loved to have picked this up at a record store in 1976. I give credit to anyone who did. I wonder if there were people who complained of their new direction and preferred the previously released "Rocka Rolla" ("I like the old shit better").

It's always good to have an excuse to throw down more Halford. Chops galore...

MH: I am always surprised at Judas Priest albums. I'm not sure if it's because I tend to compare them with what is out now, or what is popular, but I'm always surprised by them. Nowadays, music is so crazy heavy and insane (ie slipKnot, Meshuggah, Mastodon, and others) that I wonder why people were so afraid of heavy metal back in the day that this came out. It's not nearly as heavy. It was heavier than what was out in the day though, so that's cool. They have two great guitars and a lot of bass, but they aren't that shocking. And Sabbath was doing it first, so they were just following suit. Much like how there are always a ton of lookalike bands in every genre. Priest just sound like good rock and roll to me.

Sad Wings of Destiny starts off like how a Priest album should, with an awesome scream by Rob Halford. The hottest gay guy in metal. I'd jump his bones. I also listened to this album with the knowledge that the singer that replaced him after he left the band was named after track 2. Tim "the Ripper" Owens. I wanted to know why it was this song that he picked to be named after. Why not the Hellion? or Painkiller, or The Electric Eye? Which also brings me to what I find funny about Priest. They always have titles for really supremely evil things that are meant to "getcha": The Hellion, Painkiller, Green Menalishi, Exciter, and it always makes me laugh. Plus I wasn't expecting as much piano on the album as there was. Piano isn't particularly heavy, so I am glad to see that they weren't afraid to use it. (However, pianos are generally really heavy physically.) Keyboards are always used more in the european bands anyway. It's not considered wimpy as it is over in the states...
Another thing I like about Priest is that they are never afraid to have a story line of some sorts within the tracks. I kind of scoffed at the reports that the new album would be conceptual, but then they have always tried to keep up with Maiden's boys at writing long flowing verses about mythical things. Personally, I think Preist are better at the 3 or 4 minute rock jams. But they have had something like the last track on the albums. It has an intro, and then tell a story. Which is cool, I thought. The guitar playing on this album is so good, and I could tell that they were hungry and were only going to go up in their talents and rocking nature. I'm glad to have this album now under my belt.

Here it is folks, the official launching of the "Hooks So Big" blog. Here's the scoop:

Main contributors: Mark Hanner and Mike Johnson

Main purpose: MH and MJ will alternate picking an album of the week. We will listen to it during the week (M-Su), then talk about it. Simple enough? You are all welcome to play at home. Just add a comment as you see fit. We will post on Monday what the album of the week is, and who's pick it was - no other comments at that time. Then by the next Monday both MH and MJ will have posted their comments.

Secondary purpose: There may be some random postings from time to time - maybe concert previews or reviews, etc. Who really knows?

What are the rules of each album of the week you pick?: There are none. We alternate, and no questions are asked.

Where did the name of the blog come from?: There was a random comment made by one of the contributors in reference to the Y&T song "Love Has No Cure" (from Unearthed Vol. 2): "It's got a hook so big you could hang a side of beef from it".

Warning: We kind of like a lot of metal. A lot of the albums will probably be of or pertaining to metal music. And we are not apologizing for this...