Current Playlist

Now that I’ve seen the Anvil movie and read the book, I feel rejuvenated! Nothing like seeing/hearing an inspirational story about Heavy Metal to get you out of a rut and back on track. There have also been some really good albums that I’ve rediscovered by adding them into my iPod so it’s been all about the music and getting myself into a Metal frame of mind. Here’s what I’ve been spinning…..

Anvil – Anthology (1999): I have a lot of holes in my Anvil collection but I’m taking care of that as we speak. This anthology cane out on Metal Blade Records back in ’99 and has 18 songs that come from everything from the debut HARD ‘N HEAVY (1981) to SPEED OF SOUND (1998). It’s a nice overview of Anvil’s career to that point.

Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007): Watch the new Anvil movie and you’ll get an inside look at the recording of this album. I never really took this album out of my playing rotation for the last year and a half…..if the CD is sitting next to the stereo then it’s in the “Now Playing” pile. When I actually file it away in the cases, then it’s out of normal rotation. What a great album, a serious comeback from a band that’s never really gone away.

Wolf – Ravenous (2009): I really wasn’t expecting much from Wolf but that just goes to show you that I’m an idiot! I never picked up 2006’s THE BLACK FLAME even though 2004’s EVIL STAR was an awesome record. I ended up grabbing this CD a week after it came out as an afterthought because it was still on sale. This is probably going to be in my list of top albums of 2009! Review coming soon…..

MSG – Gipsy Lady: The Schenker Barden Acoustic Project (2009): Always a big fan of MSG and Michael’s solo work, especially his acoustic THANK YOU series which are some of the best work he’s ever released. Now that the Schenker/Barden team is here for a while, they are exploring the acoustic realm together. It’s a little different with vocals but they are a solid team. Review this week…..

UFO – The Visitor (2009): One of my favorite releases of 2009 and June 2009’s album of the month. Review this week…..

Aerosmith – Nine Lives (1998): Everyone remembers this album as the one with ‘Pink’ on it but I picked this up over a decade ago the day it came out. It had been 4 years since GET A GRIP (1993) and I bought the album just because it was a new Aerosmith record. Every song on the album is great and I remember thinking that this was going to be the Aerosmith album that would closely resemble the ’70s but not be as commercially successful. They had a few singles but when ‘Pink’ hit the radio then NINE LIVES skyrocketed! I skip ‘Pink’ when I play the CD. Two quick details: I have the original pressing with the original cover art and I saw the tour on New Year’s Eve that year…..what a party!

KISS – Crazy Nights (1987): I know this album by heart and KISS is my favorite band but I wouldn’t have listened to it 10 times in the last week if my daughter wasn’t playing it constantly!

Rhapsody – Legendary Tales (1997): I got into Rhapsody (now Rhaposdy Of Fire) back in 1998 and I heard a newer song on an internet radio show last week so I figured I would give the band a fresh listen from the beginning and start to search out some of the holes in my Rhapsody collection.

The Gathering – Mandylion (1995): With the band’s new album (THE WEST POLE) coming out Tuesday, I figured I would revisit the album that got me into the band. If I buy the new album it will be the first Gathering record I’ve picked up since 2000’s IF THEN ELSE.

Anvil – ‘The Story Of Anvil’ movie review – 5/30/09

The Story Of Anvil movie pic

Anvil – ‘The Story Of Anvil’

Back in April, Anvil made their appearance in Worcester, MA at The Palladium as part of The New England Metal & Hardcore Festival. The band was part of the Thursday night pre-show that included the New England premiere of the documentary and their concert immeadiately after. I was set to go but the problem was that my wife’s birthday was the same day as the show! I was told to go, my wife is understanding when it comes to Metal, but there are some lines you don’t cross and missing my wife’s birthday party was one I wasn’t prepared to try. So I never went. The good news was that the movie has been enjoying a long run at a theater in Cambridge, MA but the hour plus drive into the Boston metro area is something I like to avoid.

So I’m sitting at my computer after work early Saturday morning and I’m searching for info online for the inevitable DVD release in the U.S. and I found a local link to the Avon Cinema in Providence, RI. The Anvil movie started a run there Thursday and the theater is only 15 mins from home! Armed with my iPod blaring Anvil’s latest album, THIS IS THIRTEEN, and the hardcover book of The Story Of Anvil, I made my way down to Thayer Street (near Brown University) for the matinee show.

Thayer Street used to be one of my hangouts in the early ’90s when I was in college, there were plenty of bars and record shops to go along with all the college girls from Brown University. It was a cool place to hang and party back in the day but as I finished school, and the record shops started closing, I stopped going down that way. I probably haven’t been down that area in a good 10 years so I decided to get there early and take in some of the shops. Nothing…..I couldn’t find any of them, there were none left! Turns out the shop I was looking for, In Your Ear Records, moved to Warren, RI so I had nothing to do but buy my movie ticket, listen to some Anvil and wait.

Waiting in the tiny lobby of the old school theater, I found a lot of kindred spirits. There were a few older Metalheads like me bringing their kids to see the movie but what really made the day were the kids/teens that made their way to the movie on their own to discover some Metal. I ended up talking to a group of 5 kids, all within the ages of 13-17, and they were like sponges for Metal information. They saw my Heaven & Hell tour shirt and we started talking. It’s nice to see the younger generation embracing Heavy Metal and it’s history. It’s sounds a bit corny to say something like that but kids nowadays don’t have as many independent record shops or flea markets like I did. There isn’t radio airplay and MTV is a joke, the only way these kids learn is from the Internet and their parents’ music collections. There were about 20 of us in the lobby talking Metal, talking Anvil, and there was just a great vibe almost like going to a concert.

So the doors open, we all file in the theater, and we endure 10 mins of previews! Those things should be outlawed! The movie starts off with some classic Anvil footage of the Japan SuperRock show in ’84…..exactly like the trailer. There was a lot of applause seeing the old footage and a lot of laughter seeing Lips using his trademark dildo to play his guitar!

I’m not going to ruin the movie for everyone by going through the entire story, I’ll save that for the eventual DVD review when VH-1 Classic Records sets a U.S. release date for the soundtrack and DVD, I just want to give some thoughts and highlights. Basically, the documentary centers around the history of Anvil, the highs and lows of being in a legendary band that never quite achieved success, and the journey of making THIS IS THIRTEEN. I was a young kid when I discovered Anvil so I’m an old time fan, it was really cool to see one of the bands I grew up with on the big screen. There was enough claasic footage to satisfy my old school cravings and there was plenty of recent tour footage (circa 2006/2007 before THIS IS THIRTEEN) to give me an idea of where Anvil is. The comparisons to Spinal Tap are inevitable and obvious, there is definitely some comedy to Anvil’s journey: how can so much bad shit happen to one band? Especially one that is so influential to a lot of Metal heavyweights (Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slash, Slayer, etc.)? There was a bit of laughter when some of the lower points of the tour were showed like the band missing a few trains, band fights, venues that hold 10,000 and less than 200 show up…..definitely Spinal Tap! I took it seriously and, even though I laughed a bit too, I couldn’t help but ask the same question that the movie asks over and over: How did Anvil not become stars?

The answers come from the book, something I recommend people read because you get so much more information and insight to the band’s history and the film. I’m 2/3 of the way through the book but I was able to fill in parts of the movie with the information I had read, it made everything more enjoyable. Like I said, I took the documentary seriously because I really love Metal and a band like Anvil, that I grew up with, is close to my heart. Not trying to get all sentimental here but when you love something, you pursue it and that’s one of the main themes of Lips’ and Robbo’s career, it’s the reason they keep going. One of the scenes in the film shows Lips’ 50th birthday party at a club with Anvil playing a set. There are some longtime Anvil diehards there singing all the words right into the camera in the drunken Metal splendor and, even though they were funny, I identified with them, I identified with the band. I’m going to be 37 this year, I’ve put in 29 years of Metal fandom in and I can’t see that stopping as I go forward to the 40s and 50s.

Back to Anvil…..another part of the movie I really got into was the making of THIS IS THIRTEEN with legendary Metal producer Chris Tsangarides. I really thought the album was one of the best of 2007 and it was really cool to see everything from the band sending a demo to Tsangarides, to raising the money, to the studio performances, and the decision to release the album themselves. It gave an insight to the creative process but also the personal journey the band invested in culminating in a triumphant sold-out appearance at a Metal festival in Tokyo, Japan.

When the movie ended, there was some applause from the audience because it was a really great film. I ended up talking to some people outside the theater and gave them some links to some cool Metal websites so they could check out some Anvil and other bands from the early ’80s that these people remembered but lost touch with. All in all, a great film and a great band. I will definitely be going back for another show sometime this week and I’m going to take my 10 yr old daughter with me so she can add Anvil to her Heavy Metal discovery.

Go see this film! Metal On Metal!

Idols Are Dead – Mean (2008)

idols-are-dead-mean-2008

Idols Are Dead – Mean (2008, Scarlet Records/SPV)

  1. This Is Not The End
  2. Let’s Do It
  3. Dance With The Devil
  4. Pain For Sale
  5. Dirt
  6. It’s So Easy
  7. The Name Of My Rage
  8. Proud To Be Sick
  9. Twiggy

Band Lineup:
Mana – Vocals
Alley X – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Ico – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Maxx C. – Bass & Backing Vocals
Luka – Drums

Producers: Gabriele Ravaglia, Simone Mularoni & Maxx C.

Country: Italy

Total Time = 32:36

Idols Are Dead MySpace page
Scarlet Records
SPV Germany
SPV USA

Idols Are Dead are a young Metal quintet from Italy that wear there influences right on their leather clad sleeves. Imagine bringing together APPETITE-era GNR, Black album-era Metallica and touches of classic Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Anthrax and fusing all of it to the latest sound of Metalcore by channelling the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, Killswitch Engage and Bullet For My Valentine. That’s a lot of sound and I’m not usually a fan of the newer breed of popular Metal but what I like about Idols Are Dead is that they stay true to their influences and they don’t compromise their sound.

‘This Is Not The End’ opens the album with a quick fire barrage of guitars and double-bass drums that remind me of the Hard Rock side of Metallica mixed with late ’90s Anthrax with John Bush. There’s an overall melodic tone to the song, especially in the singing, that sounds very American…..probably because lead vocalist Mana has a lot of James Hetfield in his delivery. Not a bad thing. ‘Let’s Do It’ is more of the straight forward catchy Metal while ‘Dance With The Devil’ has some interesting bass lines and buzzing guitars. Two things I noticed right away: this band has a lot of melody in it’s Metal assault and the production is top notch. This does not sound like a new band, a couple of the guys were in the Italian Death outfit Electrocution in the early ’90s, they sound like seasoned vets. Two more standout tracks, ‘Pain For Sale’ and ‘Dirt’, cement the band’s aggressive abilities with some outstanding riffs and solos while the rhythm section drives each song with a ton of power and attitude.

So far I’m into the record (and I don’t like bands that sound like Killswitch or Avenged) but the momentum stops with the Idols Are Dead cover of GNR’s ‘It’s So Easy’. This is why I hate cover songs, they disrupt the flow of the original material. Granted, it’s a good rendition of the GNR standard but not necessary…..a small complaint. The band makes up for it with the drum intro to ‘The Name Of My Rage’, a song that finds a certain driving groove that had my head bobbing back and forth in full headbang. Definitely a Metallica “Black era” influenced song but definitely faster with some interesting solos, one of my favorites of the record, especially that drum sound! The opening guitar of ‘Proud To Be Sick’ signals old school Thrash and the band incorporates that with the modern Metal sound like a Shadows Fall or All That Remains with clean vocals. Same thing with ‘Twiggy’, the band finds a certain classic Metal groove and combines it with a more modern sound. For some reason I really dig ‘Twiggy” and I can’t put my finger on way except for maybe there is just this certain old school root to it.

Bottom Line:
I really didn’t know what to expect from Idols Are Dead, especially when I read some of the band comparisons, but they impressed me. There is this classic Metal sound the band has that, when mixed with the melodic Metalcore, they come up with something really aggressive and full of groove. Aside from my disdain for the GNR cover, I thought MEAN was a seriously good debut. If I had to level any criticism, I would like to see the band branch out more and maybe experiment a little with different styles. The songs on MEAN are all very straightforward and tight, you can hear the influences the band has, their next album should be where they expand and explore their overall sound. I’ll definitely be looking forward to a new Idols Are Dead album, in the meantime I’ll keep this album in my listening rotation.

Favorite Songs: ‘The Name Of My Rage’, ‘Pain For Sale’, ‘Twiggy’, ‘Dance With The Devil’

Tragik – Outlaw (2009)

cd-tragik_outlaw

Tragik – Outlaw (2009, indepentdent release)

  1. …..In the Name Of…..
  2. Two Timer
  3. On The Other Side
  4. You Are Everything To Me
  5. What You Give
  6. Everything Changes
  7. Forgive Me
  8. Just Can’t Get Enough
  9. Loneliness
  10. Who’s Gonna Make The First Move
  11. Go Down Fightin’
  12. Give It Up

Band Lineup:
Phil Vincent – Vocals, Keyboards, Rhythm Guitar
Damian D’Ercole – Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Bass
Dirk Phillips – Drums & Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Steven Albanese – Lead Guitar (tracks 5, 7, 11)
Billy Roux – Lead Guitar (tracks 3 & 12)
Paul Colombo – Lead Guitar (track 9) & Rhythm Guitar (tracks 2, 8, 9, 12)

Producers: Phil Vincent & Dirk Phillips

Total Time = 53:36

Tragik MySpace page
Phil Vincent

It’s always really cool to get an album from a local artist…..Phil Vincent has been a part of the local Rhode Island/Massachusetts scene for a long time, his debut solo album, RISING, was released in 1996. Using his extensive talents as a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Phil has also been a catalyst in the bands Circular Logik and Tragik. The first Tragik album, POETIC JUSTICE, was released in 2007 and now the follow-up, OUTLAW, has hit the shelves.

Taking a quick glance at the cover (you can’t help it!), one might expect an ’80s Hard Rock feast but the album starts off unexpectedly with a piano-based ballad ‘…In The Name Of…’, nothing like throwing in a curveball right away! I expected to get a rocking track right off the bat but instead there is this very melodic pure ballad that sounds a bit like ‘Love Walks In’ from the Hagar-era Van Halen crossed with some mid ’70s Queen. Listen to the guitar solo, it screams Brian May, very well done. The pace picks up right away with the uptempo ‘Two Timer’ and ‘On The Other Side’. Both songs are heavy on guitar but they stay melodic and have that hook that drags you in and gets you singing along. Both songs remind me a little of Dokken, especially ‘On The Other Side’ which sounds like something off SHADOWLIFE (1997) or LONG WAY HOME (2002). ‘You Are Everything To Me’ is the second ballad, although it does Rock up with the guitar solo, and it has this quirky keyboard sequence running through it. The sound gets filled out after the solo and it’s better for it, I wouldn’t mind hearing the guitar through the whole song.

‘What You Give’ is similar to ‘You Are Everything To Me’ and is very melodic in a Beatles/Journey/Styx kind of way but with a heavier classic rock style guitar throughout. Listen for the guitar solos on this one and try to pick out a little Brian May again, very cool. I like how the song builds up and by the end really rocks with a second solo. More heavy Melodic Rock on ‘Everything Changes’ with plenty of guitar and vocal harmonies…..one of my favorites on the album. I wasn’t sure what to think about ‘Forgive Me’ because the opening piano and percussion had a something of a slow dance beat to it but as the song progresses the guitars kick in and the song gets heavier. It stays in it’s melodic mid-tempo groove but has a lot of bite to it while retaining the piano throughout…..another unpredictable track that has become a favorite on the album. Same thing with ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, I wasn’t sure about it at first but repeated listens has hooked me in with it’s melody and harmonies with heavy modern guitar. It reminds me of the direction on the latest Night Ranger album HOLE IN THE SUN, modern & melodic.

‘Loneliness’ is slow and brooding and has this early ’80s Rock thing to it, not my favorite off OUTLAW but definitely something different. Same thing for ‘Who’s Gonna Make The First Move’, it has that early ’80s ballad sound kind of like Foreigner or Journey and is definitely a companion track to the album opener ‘In The Name Of…’. Tragik really has a knack for capturing that AOR/MHR sound that was big two decades ago and is missing from today’s radio, ‘Who’s Gonna Make The First Move’ is perfect for popular Rock radio. While the melodic side has been displayed throughout the album, the band doesn’t forget to throw out the Hard Rock and the final two songs (‘Go Down Fightin’ and ‘Give It Up’) definitely conclude the record with some serious power chords and solos recalling some early Dokken, a little Bon Jovi, and a touch of Sammy Hagar.

Bottom Line:
It’s always good to hear an album from a band in the local scene and getting a listen to the latest Tragik has to offer proves that good solid Rock music hasn’t died here in the southern New England area. What I like most about OUTLAW, and Tragik as a band, is that there is a lot of diversity to the sound. There are smooth ballads mixed in with driving rockers mixed with powerful mid-tempo tracks…..the band retains the heavy guitars throughout and uses the piano/keyboards in many tracks as a base. The guitar tones especially grabbed me throughout the album and I was definitely trying to pick out some of the influences. There are a lot of different styles to enjoy here but if AOR/Melodic Hard Rock is your thing, then this is an album to get a hold of. I grew up on Metal but also the Journeys, Bon Jovis and Night Rangers of the Rock world so this is definitely an album I’ve been playing constantly. Now I have to track down Tragik’s first album POETIC JUSTICE (2007) and give that a spin!

Favorite Songs: ‘Two Timer’, ‘Everything Changes’, ‘Forgive Me’, ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, ‘Who’s Gonna Make The First Move’

Press Release: Judas Priest – A Touch Of Evil Live (2009) artwork, tracklisting, release dates revealed

From Bravewords.com & JudasPriest.com:

Judas Priest - A Touch Of Evil Live (2009)

As the creators of a live release that is considered to be one of the all-time great concert recordings in the realm of heavy metal (1979’s Unleashed In The East), whenever Judas Priest announce a new live album, metalheads worldwide instantly take note. And on A Touch of Evil: Live (due for release in July 2009 via Sony Music and Epic Records), the mighty Priest – which includes singer Rob Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton and KK Downing, bassist Ian Hill, and drummer Scott Travis – doesn’t disappoint. Focusing primarily on fan-revered album cuts (all previously unreleased in live form on CD), A Touch of Evil: Live features absolutely scintillating renditions of such Priest gems as ‘Riding On The Wind’, ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death’, ‘Dissident Aggressor’, ‘A Touch Of Evil’, ‘Eat Me Alive’, and the set-closing ‘Painkiller’. Also of note are the first live album appearances of standouts from Priest’s critically acclaimed 2008 concept double disc, Nostradamus (‘Death’ and ‘Prophecy’).

Recorded by Martin Walker and Brian Thorene during the Judas Priest’s mammoth 2005 and 2008 world tours, A Touch Of Evil: Live also marks the first Priest album that producer Tom Allom has worked on since 1988 (co-producing along with the band). It was such Allom-produced albums as the aforementioned Unleashed In The East, as well as British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance (among others) that made Priest not only one of the premier metal acts, but one of the leading global rock acts. As heard throughout A Touch of Evil: Live, Priest remain a must-see live act…and a must-hear one, as well.”

The complete tracklist for A Touch of Evil: Live is as follows: ‘Judas Rising’, ‘Hellrider’, ‘between The Hammer And The Anvil’, ‘Riding On The Wind’, ‘Death’, ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death’, ‘Dissident Aggressor’, ‘A Touch Of Evil’, ‘Eat Me Alive’, ‘Prophecy’, ‘Painkiller’.

WANTED: Savannah – s/t (1998)

WANTED

SAVANNAH - S-T

Savannah – s/t (1998)

I discovered Savannah back in 1998 when I was reading issue 3 of the Metal Dreams fanzine and I realized that the band was from Massachusetts. Savannah was a combination of members from two other bands: SlyBoyz and Lord Grey. I always make it a point to check out local bands and I remember putting Savannah at the top of my want list. The problem was I forgot to write down the name of the album, so when I finally got around to finding Savannah in my favorite local record store, I picked up the wrong one!

My first Savannah album was the live SALEM’S LOT (1999), recorded on 2/5/99 in Salem, Massachusetts. At the time I had no idea I just picked up a live album, it was the only one in stock so I figured that was the one I read about in Metal Dreams. The good thing was that 8 out of the 10 songs were from the self-titled debut with the other 2 coming from the soon to be released FOREVER’S COME AND GONE (2000). At least I got a preview of what I wanted! My second Savannah album was FOREVER’S COME AND GONE, I received a CDR promo to review for a Rock website I used to write for, I’ve never replaced the CDR but the album is readily available.

The first Savannah album is hard to find, Z Records released it back in 1998 but it’s out of print and the band has disbanded. There is a Japanese version with a bonus track (an alternate version of ‘Two Young Hearts’) and that can be found on Amazon.com for about $75.

For more info on Savannah, check out the band’s page at Heavy Harmonies.

Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009)

heaven-hell-the-devil-you-know-2009

Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009, Rhino)

  1. Atom And Evil
  2. Fear
  3. Bible Black
  4. Double The Pain
  5. Rock And Roll Angel
  6. The Turn Of The Screw
  7. Eating The Cannibals
  8. Follow The Tears
  9. Neverwhere
  10. Breaking Into Heaven

Heaven & Hell 2009

Band Lineup:
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Tony Iommi – Guitars
Geezer Butler – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums

Produced by: Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi & Geezer Butler

Total Time = 54:05

Heaven & Hell
Heaven & Hell MySpace page
Black-Sabbath.com
Rhino Records

Black Sabbath is the band that started it all…..they created Heavy Metal. I’ve been a long time fan of all incarnations of Sabbath whether it be with Ozzy, Dio, Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes or Tony Martin on the mic. My favorite era by far is with Ronnie James Dio. Take a listen to the dual masterpieces HEAVEN & HELL (1980) and MOB RULES (1981) or the severely underrated reunion record DEHUMANIZER (1992) and you will hear classic track after classic track of monumental riffs and soaring vocals of early ’80s Heavy Metal. I was lucky to witness the the DEHUMANIZER lineup in concert in Boston way back in 1992 and that cemented my worship of the Dio-era Sabbath. Through all the reunions with Ozzy and the Ozzfest performances I saw of the original Sabbath, I still liked the Dio-era better. That’s not to say that the Ozzy-era is bad, it’s just as timeless, I just prefer the better singer. So with Ozzy holding the Black Sabbath name in check, I was glad to see Dio, Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice reunite their classic lineup of Sabbath even if they use the different name of Heaven & Hell.

The three new songs from THE DIO YEARS (2007) best of record were excellent and they translated well in concert…..I saw them twice! So when the guys announced in 2008 that they were writing new material for a brand new Heaven & Hell album, I couldn’t have been happier! THE DEVIL YOU KNOW  has been one of the most anticipated albums of the last year because the band is legendary and the players among the best of their craft. Who wouldn’t want to hear a new Black Sabbath Heaven & Hell album?

If I could describe THE DEVIL YOU KNOW in one word it would be “doom”. Tony Iommi has laid down the best Doom Metal riffs in the history of Heavy Metal and he continues on the new record not only with his heavy handed riffs but with his amazing solos. Ronnie James Dio is in top form vocally (as usual) and sounds better in his mid-60s than many of the Metal vocalists half his age…..his performance alone shows just how timeless he is and proves that he is still one of the best Metal singers on the planet. Geezer and Vinny lay down a solid backbone that throbs and pounds the music into your eardrums. This is one heavy album! More mid-tempo Doom rather than an all out Metal assault, I hear a lot of DEHUMANIZER and the slower parts of MOB RULES thoughout THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. The first two songs (‘Atom And Evil’ & ‘Fear’) are slow and sludgy but powerful, they have that mid-tempo heaviness and that epic sound but the best is saved for ‘Bible Black’. If you had to find this album’s ‘Children Of The Sea’ or ‘The Sign Of The Southern Cross’, then ‘Bible Black’ that song. The song builds on every note Iommi plucks from his guitar and Dio puts in the performance of the album. Listen to that main riff and you will be coming back for more!

‘Double The Pain’ picks the pace up a bit more and sounds a bit more straight forward than the epics that start the album…..the song reminds me of the DEHUMANIZER album. ‘Rock And Roll Angel’ slows down again and seems out of place with it’s title and lyrics, the music is fine but it sounds like a solo Dio throwaway. Maybe with a better title and better lyrics this would be a better song? The guitar work, especially at the solo break, is superb so I can’t really give it a bad grade…..good music always trumps bad lyrics! Geezer’s bass is the main thrust of ‘The Turn Of The Screw’, another mid-tempo Doom classic that displays all of the band’s strengths.

Six songs in and we only have one uptempo song with ‘Double The Pain’. The best thing about the Dio era albums was that for every ‘Heaven & Hell’ you had a ‘Neon Knights’. For every ‘The Sign Of The Southern Cross’ you had a ‘Turn Up The Night’. What’s missing for me so far is the fast songs that speed by fluidly and display a whole other side of the Sabbath, I mean Heaven & Hell, power. Thankfully all the prayers are answered with ‘Eating The Cannibals’, the song that is the ‘Neon Knights’ of THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. Dio displays his uptempo registers proving he can do the epics and the fast stuff easily in his mid-60s and the Iommi/Butler/Appice machine just wails. Younger bands should take a listen and learn a lesson, this is classic heavy metal at it’s best! More mid-tempo doom awaits with ‘Follow The Tears’, a song that sounds like it came from the DEHUMANIZER sessions, and the final track ‘Breaking Into Heaven’ but I find I really enjoy the faster ‘Neverwhere’ more.

Bottom Line:
Fans of Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell should definitely pick this up because it’s a classic album by a great group of top musicians. The band is firing on all cylinders with some of the best performances they have ever created together. After 30 years as a riff giant, Tony Iommi stills sets the standard for Heavy Metal guitarists and Ronnie James Dio displays the same versatile vocal range he’s had throughout his career with Rainbow, Sabbath, and his own band. I’ve read some criticism in some reviews that the album is too slow, too plodding, I’ve read the word “dinosaur” in a few. THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is mostly slow to mid-tempo Doom laden epics but they are powerful and anything but boring (maybe ‘Rock And Roll Angel’ lyrically) and the three faster songs are very good with ‘Eating The Cannibals’ standing out the most. I say go out and pick this up, the band picks up where they left off in 1992 and the three song teaser from 2007. One of the best albums of the year for me!

Favorite Songs:
‘Bible Black’, ‘Eating The Cannibals’, ‘Neverwhere’, ‘Atom And Evil’, ‘Fear’

My current projects

I’ve taken a couple weeks off from writing here because I had some other projects involving my music collection that I wanted to get started on…..but I have also been a little bored with the whole blogging thing lately. So here’s what I’ve been doing with myself lately…..

iPod & iTunes
When I bought my new iPod 120 gb I was sure I could easily fill it but I didn’t take into account the actual time to take my CDs and burn them in. The first thing I did was figure out how to upload the albums in my Dell DJ 30 back to the computer. When I would load my Dell DJ, I would delete the songs off my hard drive because I knew there was a way to reload it. I reloaded everything and then transferred to iTunes…..the most I had to do was change a few details and update some cover artwork but the process was simple. Good thing too because I had some bands in the DJ with a ton of albums: KISS, Sabbath, Maiden, Priest, UFO, Saxon, MSG, Scorpions, Dio. Once I got everything into iTunes, I started uploading more CDs and I’ve been storing everything on an external hard drive. It’s been a long process because I’ve been stopping and listening to a lot of lost classics. The other iPod project was loading my daughter’s Nano with selected classics from KISS, Saxon, David Lee Roth, Ozzy, and AC/DC and transferring everything she had on the computer’s hard drive to the external.

Collectorz.com – Music Collector
I have had the Music Collector software for four years and I still haven’t catalogued my CD collection. When I bought it a few years ago, I started a list but then we started house hunting, bought a house, moved, etc. My collection lived in various states for the last few years and, now that they are organized, I decided to get a new start cataloging them.

Posters & Pictures
Another Metal hobby of mine is collecting posters and pictures of my favorite bands and albums. I have a ton of old poster and promo flats that I’ve picked up from local record stores and Ebay and I have been able to snag some black & white promo shots of bands on Ebay. After 3 years of being in my house, my wife and I decided we might as well decorate and the upstairs music room is all mine so I’ve been going through things deciding which ones to frame.

So that’s where I’m at now but I should be back blogging soon. My collections have renewed life and that also makes my interest renewed, hopefully I can translate that into some consistent posts…..

WANTED: Livesay – s/t (1996)

WANTED

LIVESAYDEBUTCD

Livesay – s/t (1996)

I pulled out issue #1 of Metal Dreams, an old fanzine that I used to love to read before they went completely online. When I flipped to the reviews section, I found a piece of paper I had stapled to a page with a review of Livesay’s first record…..an original want list! One of my past times before the Internet was to write down lists of albums I wanted (I still do it!) that I found in fanzines. From 1995 thru 1997, I bought tons of zines and made tons of lists.

I’m not really sure what this album sounds like, I could go and sample it from the Livesay MySpace page or the debut album’s CD Baby page but I want it based solely on my gut feeling from 13 years ago. Unfortunately, it’s out of print but I’m sure I can find a copy somewhere. I do know that the band is from the NewYork/Connecticut area and they play Melodic Metal with a Progressive edge…..at least that’s what I’ve read! 

The first iPod playlist!

Well I finally did it…..I bought an iPod!

My Dell DJ 30 has served me above and beyond the call of duty and it finally died a noble death. I was listening to my DJ at work last week and the headphone jack fell out of the unit. Turns out the solder that held the actual jack in place had come loose and that’s why I kept thinking my headphones were dying. I was getting volume from one ear on the headphones unless I packed the jack with aluminum foil, a temporary fix. Then it happened…..I pulled the headphones out to put in a little more foil and the entire piece came out! R.I.P. Dell DJ……..

So I went to Best Buy last Saturday and dropped the $250 for an iPod 120gb and $40 for the 2 yr. warranty (if anything happens to it, I can bring it back and get a fresh one). I’ve been loading albums into iTunes but I don’t have nearly as many as I had in the Dell. Here’s what I have in the iPod because it’s all I’ve listened to…..

Great White – Rising (2009): I still haven’t given up on this album even though it’s a little too mellow. It’s definitely a grower and I’m beginning to enjoy it more everytime I play it.

Hammerfall – No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009): Here’s another album that I haven’t given up on yet especially since I kind of knew what to expect. Hammerfall plays straight ahead Power Metal and they don’t stray far from their formula…..that can be either refreshing or redundant depending on the quality of the material. This album gets more refreshing everytime I spin it.

Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – Play My Game (2009): This new record comes out next week and I was lucky to get it in the mail Saturday afternoon. I’ve only given it one full spin so far.

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): The album of the year for me so far!

UFO – The Visitor (2009): Another album I was lucky to receive in the mail a full month before it’s release…..all UFO has done since 1995’s WALK ON WATER is release high quality albums and THE VISITOR is no exception.

Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009): This album was probably one of the most anticpated of 2009 for me next to the new Saxon. I’ve been playing this non-stop but I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet…..probably sometime this week.

Accept – Predator (1996): Accept’s final studio album and probably their most confusing since EAT THE HEAT (1989). I remember I picked this up the week it came out because I had read about it in a fanzine and Accept were one of my formative bands back in the ’80s. I figured that I was going to get a Metal album but PREDATOR is a mix of different styles, the best track being the first: ‘Hard Attack’. The biggest problem I had was that Udo didn’t sing every song on the album, bassist Peter Baltes sang lead on three tunes and had a primary role on the backing vocals. At the time I loved it save for a couple of tunes…..13 years later I can hear a few more filler tracks but there is some good material too.

Livenation.com presale for Heaven & Hell tour

The presale is up at LiveNation.com for the U.S. Heaven & Hell tour and it’s only for today. You need the special password, and after some searching, I found it: devil. Remember that the password is case sensitive so type it in with small letters.

I’ll see everyone at the show in Boston at the Bank Of America Pavilion on August 28.

Killer Klown – Gain (2009)

kkgain

Killer Klown – Gain (2009, Street Symphonies Records)

  1. Monster Idiot
  2. Bloody Velvet
  3. Tropical Disease
  4. Big Town
  5. Broken Silence
  6. Too Bad
  7. Joker
  8. Smoke This
  9. Acid Rain
  10. Gangster
  11. Demolition Man

killer-klown-2009

Band Lineup:
Gabry – Vocals
Diablo – Guitars
Andy K. – Drums
Nicoch – Bass

Produced by: Killer Klown

Country: Italy

Total Time = 36:32

Killer Klown MySpace page
Street Symphonies Records

There seems to be a big Hard Rock/Heavy Metal scene coming out of Italy lately because I’ve been sent a lot of new albums from there recently. Killer Klown are the newest band to hit my radar with their debut record GAIN. The band plays a dirty brand of Sleaze/Glam/Hard Rock and that they profess to be “the pure essence of rock ‘N Roll with no compromises” and “a great Rock ‘N Roll explosion in your face!”. I like the attitude and cockiness and it translates straight into the music because they seriously rock! The band reminds me of big time acts like L.A. Guns, Skid Row and Guns ‘N Roses, as well as, rising stars like Gypsy Pistoleros, Dirty Penny and Wig Wam.

Opening track ‘Monster Idiot’ features blazing guitars and crashing cymbals around lead singer Gabry’s Axl Rose/Sebastion Bach style delivery. High powered energy with screaming guitars solos, Killer Klown set the bar high to open GAIN. ‘Bloody Velvet’ slows down a little but it has that dirty ’80s Sunset Strip sound while ‘Tropical Disease’ chugs along with speedy precision. One of my favorite tunes on the album is ‘Big Town’, it has this infectious chorus and backing vocal while the guitars swirl around until the solo. This has APPETITE era GnR written all over it, it has that catchy hook with a big time swagger.

‘Broken Silence’ slows down to mid-tempo/ballad speed with a cool melodic sense and harmony that reminds me of the power balladry of classic Skid Row and Bon Jovi. This song definitely has that ’80s feel to it and it’s probably my favorite song from the album…..it has crystal clear guitars and melodic vocals. The band picks up speed again with the hard rocking ‘Too Bad’ and the playful GnR styled ‘Joker’, another major highlight for me on GAIN! ‘Joker’ has that playful Nuno Bettencourt influenced guitar, with an awesome solo and big gang vocals at the chorus…..it just sounds like one of those Hard Rock party songs we all listened to.

Killer Klown get back to a mid-tempo groove with ‘Smoke This’, a song that has more of a edgy modern Hard Rock sound, while ‘Acid Rain’ is more of an instrumental/spoken word piece that serves as a dark intro to the following song….’Gangster’. The first time I heard the vocal effects on ‘Gangster’, I immeadiately thought they sounded familiar to the effects used on Motley Crue’s GENERATION SWINE (1997) when Nikki Sixx would sing. I like the trade-off between the effects and Gabry’s regular voice and the guitars are definitely intense. Closing song on the record is ‘Demolition Man’, another high energy song with serious drum pounding and gritty vocals. The song gets very melodic around the chorus and it’s instantly catchy, the guitar solo is one of the best on the record. I have to say, I’m impressed with Killer Klown.

Bottom Line:
If you like ’80s Hard Rock with a lot of Sleaze/Glam attitude, and solid musical performances, then Killer Klown’s GAIN is worth checking out. I hate to keep comparing Killer Klown to the likes of GnR and Skid Row but the proof is in the music and you can definitely hear the influences. The band sounds tight, the songs are well written, and the production is top notch…..GAIN is one of the best CDs I’ve heard this year! For a debut album the band has hit on all cylinders and I will be anxiously waiting for future releases.

Favorite Songs:
‘Joker’, ‘Broken Silence’, ‘Demolition Man’, ‘Monster Idiot’