Archive for December 16, 2009

You might remember that I wrote a recent Ebay Madness column on Militia – THE SYBLING E.P. (1985) back in October. A couple of months ago this auction blew the roof off and ended at an insane $2550. So other copies were bound to show up…..

Militia – The Sybling E.P. (1985) sells for $1685

Seller: sambb2000
Country: Austin, Texas (USA)
Starting Price: 99 cents
Bids: 17

Like most copies of THE SYBLING E.P., this auction is from Texas. Militia was part of the underground Metal scene in Texas so it only makes sense for a few copies to be hanging around down there. This copy of THE SYBLING is unique in that it has one flaw…..water damage (see next picture) on the right side from the upper corner down.

I have to give the seller credit for being so detailed and reporting the water damage because some people might not considering the big bucks this goes for. As an added bonus, the seller will include a picture of Militia singer Mike Soliz holding this actual copy…..how’s that for authenticity! It’s still a lot of money and a crazy price…..I still wouldn’t mind finding one, I would keep it for my collection!

Check out the other Ebay Madness column for links where you can get more information, buy a compilation with THE SYBLING on it or just listen to the record.

Megadeth – Endgame (2009, Roadrunner Records)

  1. Dialectic Chaos
  2. This Day We Fight!
  3. 44 Minutes
  4. 1,320′
  5. Bite The Hand
  6. Bodies
  7. Endgame
  8. The Hardest Part Of Letting Go…Sealed With A Kiss
  9. Head Crusher
  10. How The Story Ends
  11. The Right To Go Insane

Band Lineup:
Dave Mustaine – Guitars, Vocals
Chris Broderick – Guitars, Backing Vocals
James LoMenzo – Bass, Backing Vocals
Shawn Drover – Drums

Producers: Andy Sneap & Dave Mustaine

Country: USA

Total Time = 45:05

Megadeth
Megadeth MySpace page
Roadrunner Records

I have been a Megadeth fan since their debut album KILLING IS MY BUSINESS…AND BUSINESS IS GOOD in 1985. When I was growing up back then the Metal world was diverse and intertwined, you could listen to Megadeth or Anthrax alongside Poison and Motley Crue and sprinkle in AC/DC and Yngwie Malmsteen in for good measure. It was less about labels and categories and just about the music, success was based on street cred as well as gold & platinum records. I have bought every Megadeth record when it was released, even RISK (1999)! Somewhere in the middle of his career, Dave Mustaine cared more for competing with his old band Metallica and catering to the fashionable trends the Metal world went through. For me, the last pure Thrash album Megadeth made was RUST IN PEACE (1990). That’s not to say the other albums are bad…..just different. For about 10 years, Megadeth released albums that failed to live up to their old school legacy even though they had quality performances. In 2007, UNITED ABOMINATIONS came out and I was skeptical but the band’s live performance impressed me and I listened more closely to the album…..it became #11 in my Top 15 Albums of 2007. Now ENDGAME is here and I’ve given it a closer listen…..another solid Metal record for Mustaine and company! It’s an album that harkens back to the Megadeth of old.

The album opens with the powerful thrashing instrumental ‘Dialectic Chaos’ that showcases the solo tradeoffs between Dave Mustaine and new Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick (ex-Jag Panzer. ex-Nevermore). The instrumental immeadiately leads into the ultra fast ‘This Day We Fight!’, a song that truly sounds like early thrashing mad ‘Deth. So it’s a great start to another highly anticipated album but ’44 Minutes’ is bound to bring a bit of controversy. Most older fans (like myself) always want bands to stay true to their early/classic sound and they usually revolt against any stylistic change. I’m not really one of those fans (unless the music just suck, remember RISK?) so I’m cool with the fact that ’44 Minutes’ is Heavy Metal but not pure Thrash. One of the controversies around UNITED ABOMINATIONS a couple years ago was that there were a lot of heavy tracks and driving riffs but the songs weren’t fast enough. I liked the diversity of that album and I’m glad to see the band continue that pattern now, it breaks up the album a little and shows off a different side of the band, a groove if you will. It’s an expansion fo the overall sound not a detraction. Get all that?

Anyway, more thrashier moments occur in ’1,320′, including a great solo section, and ‘Bite The Hand’, a song that starts off with a grooved main riff but moves into speed territory. ‘Bodies’ has a solid bassline from James Lomenzo that really makes the song but it reminds me of something from the radio friendly CRYPTIC WRITINGS (1999). The chorus on ‘Bodies’ has that melodic touch to it that might scare some people off but the twin guitar work is superb and saves the song, especially the solo that moves into breakneck speed. If you follow anything Mustaine has done then you know that many of his songs are politically charged and the title track ‘Endgame’ is exactly that. Another Heavy Metal track that moves into faster paces thoughout, Mustaine waxes poetic on the current status of the U.S. government, the President, FEMA, the Patriot Act and the state of the country in general. ‘Endgame’ could easily fit on UNITED ABOMINATIONS or THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED (2004) and it’s definitely one of the better songs on the album. The pace slows right down with ‘The Hardest Part Of Letting Go…Sealed With A Kiss’ for the first half and then speeds up with the second. It’s a tale of two songs really, the beginning and end being the almost ballad style of ‘The Hardest Part Of Letting Go’ and the middle being the frantic speed of ‘Sealed With A Kiss’. I like the two dynamics coming together so this is definitely a highlight for me. Old School fans will like the straightforward Thrash of ‘Head Crusher’, even if the lyrics aren’t that strong. Same with ‘How The Story Ends’ but it has a more rhythmic groove to it. The last song on ENDGAME is ‘The Right To Go Insane’ and it starts with a simple bass intro and moves into a pulsating main riff. Again, it’s another solid track with a great solo trade-off.

Bottom Line:
ENDGAME is not a pure Thrash record, although it has some old school Thrash moments, it’s definitely more regular Heavy Metal with a slightly slower pace. Maybe it’s the fact that the lines that define what Thrash is today are blurred but Thrash doesn’t always have to be about speed. If that was the case then a ton of Black, Death, Power and Progressive Metal bands out there are a lot faster than Megadeth is. Today’s Thrash has more to do with heaviness and power rather than pure speed, would you call Dragonforce Thrash? Dave Mustaine has taken the best elements of old school Megadeth and the Megadeth of the last 10 years and combines them to make another solid album. I’ll be honest, I still haven’t fully recovered from the experimental Nu-Metal of 1999′s RISK so any new Megadeth record I’m going to approach with caution. The good news is that ENDGAME is a solid record and sits alongside UNITED ABOMINATIONS as a powerful counterpart. ENDGAME may not be the pure old school Thrash album older fans desperately want but it is a formidable album with many Thrash elements and it’s very heavy.

Favorite Songs:
‘Dialectic Chaos’, ‘This Day We Fight!’, ’44 Minutes’, ‘The Hardest Part Of Letting Go…Sealed With A Kiss’, ‘Endgame’

Sunstorm – House Of Dreams (2009, Frontiers Records)

  1. Divided
  2. Don’t Give Up
  3. The Spirit Inside
  4. I Found Love
  5. Say You Will
  6. Gutters Of Gold
  7. Save A Place (In Your Heart)
  8. Forever Now
  9. Tears On The Pages
  10. House Of Dreams
  11. Walk On

Musicians:
Joe Lynn Turner – Vocals
Dennis Ward – Bass, Guitars, Backing Vocals
Uwe Reitenauer – Guitars
Thorsten Koehne – Solo Guitars
Gunther Werno – Keyboards
Chris Schmidt – Drums
Marco Bayati – additional Solo Guitar on ‘I Found Love’

Producer: Dennis Ward

Total Time = 49:15

Joe Lynn Turner
Frontiers Records

“Joe Lynn Turner has one of the best voices in the Rock world. Doesn’t matter who you put him up against, JLT has one of the smoothest voices and it keeps getting better album after album.”

I stole that line from my December 2007 review of the last Joe Lynn Turner solo album, SECOND HAND LIFE. That album was so good that it threatened the Scorpions’ excellent HUMANITY HOUR 1 for my top album of 2007. The bottom line is this: no matter what Joe Lynn Turner puts his voice to (Fandango, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie, solo or voiceover work), it’s always going to be a great performance. Sunstorm is not a band but more of an album project. The original idea came from Frontiers Records president Serafino Perugino to have JLT complete unfinished demos from his shelved mid-’80s solo album, the follow-up to the excellent solo debut RESCUE YOU (1985). The self-titled Sunstorm debut was released in 2006 and it was one of the best Melodic Rock albums of the year full of melodic hooks, guitar and keyboard driven songs and solid ballads all delivered with the smooth as silk Joe Lynn Turner vocals. The first release was a great album so a follow-up was a no brainer. JLT is always at his best doing early ’80s AOR/Melodic Rock and the latest Sunstorm release, HOUSE OF DREAMS, is another high quality album in the extensive JLT discography. Joining JLT in the songwriting department are some notable names in the AOR world: Paul Sabu, Jim Peterik from Survivor, Russ Ballard and Desmond Child among others. With songwriting partners like that, you know the songs are high quality and extremely melodic.

Kicking the record off is ‘Divided’, a melodic rock song that blends the guitars and keyboards perfectly for that true ’80s AOR sound. ‘Divided’ is uptempo and shows some muscle but it sounds so smooth with JLT’s vocals…..put this on the radio in 1985 and you’ve got a hit! Same with ‘Don’t Give Up’, pure melodic rock that has perfect production and vocals and an uptempo hook that keeps me singing right along. Slowing things down a bit, JLT and company go into a mid-tempo AOR feast with ‘The Spirit Inside’. This could almost be a revved up power ballad at times with it’s lush layered sound, JLT crooning as only he can with the smoothest delivery. Definitely a song for the lighters (or cell phones)! The pace picks up again with the fastest rocker on the album, ‘I Found Love’. Now this is a retro ’80s track if I ever heard one! The keyboards are layered all over while the guitars weave in and out around a fat bassline, all very melodic, fast and full of life. The chorus is infectious and fun…..the whole point of good Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The first true ballad arrives with the Jim Peterik penned ‘Say You Will’. This is a pure AOR ballad based on the piano and JLT’s vocals, this could easily be a Survivor song with Jimi Jamison singing., one of the best ballads I’ve heard all year! If you really want to hear how well Joe Lynn Turner can sing, play this song , he is fantastic! Another Jim Peterik written song is next, the fast rocker ‘Gutters Of Gold’. When I first saw the tracklisting for HOUSE OF DREAMS, I wondered if this was the same song as the one Peterik’s World Stage project recorded back in 1999. That song remains unreleased as far as I knw and the only way I heard it was when it was included on Melodicrock.com’s first CD. This version of ‘Gutters Of Gold’ is re-recorded and the vocals re-done by JLT so it sounds a little more aggressive than the original World Stage version. It’s a barnstormer of a song and probably the best and most memorable of the album, it’s so infectious that you can’t help singing along right away and it really sticks in your memory. The Paul Sabu co-written ‘Save A Place (In Your Heart)’ treads the mid-tempo/uptempo line carefully and is lined with piano and keyboards around plenty of guitar flourishes. It’s a cool song and has a very familiar sound, upon further investigation I found that it’s a song originally recorded in 1988 for the self-titled debut album Sabu’s Hard Rock band Only Child. Technically it’s a cover, as is ‘Gutters Of Gold’, but this is a project not a band so I’m giving a pass to Sunstorm & JLT because these songs aren’t well known and the quality of the updated performances are excellent. Either that or I’m starting to soften my position against cover songs!

More incestuous songwriting and re-recording is delivered with the JLT original ‘Forever Now’, a feel good uptempo rock song that originally appeared on Terry Brock’s 2001 album BACK TO EDEN. Technically not a cover because JLT wrote it and it’s a great song with a very uplifting chorus and harmonies. It’s a little on the “light” side for me but a lot of Melodic Rock and AOR sounds like this no matter the years so it’s still a quality song and has plenty of guitars. Proper ballad #2 is ‘Tears On the Page’ and it is another perfect Turner vocal accompanied by a piano and subtle guitars. The song is a Jim Peterik/Russ Ballard co-write so it’s extremely melodic and it has that signature Survivor style to it, again I could easily hear Jimi Jamison singing this and have it on any Survivor album. I like this ballad better than ‘Say You Will’ and both are really great. The title track picks the momentum back up again with another solid guitar and keyboard mix but it kind of sounds too similar to other songs on the album. The chorus is the highpoint and JLT puts in yet another great vocal but I’m not really getting into it. Hearing it separate from the other album tracks makes it standout more, maybe the song holds too much to the specific pattern of the album? Ending the album is ‘Walk On’, another keyboard heavy ballad that is pure AOR. No coincidence that one of the most notable songwriters of the ’80s, Desmond Child, is credited with JLT as the writers. This is another song that has made an appearance before, this time on the 1987 album FREIGHT TRAIN HEART by Jimmy Barnes. I don’t have that record (but I will look for it now!) so the song is new to me but it ends the albums on a soft note and it’s kind of a letdown, not the song but the sequence.

Bottom Line:
If you have ever heard a Joe Lynn Turner sung album then you have an idea of what the new Sunstorm album will sound like. It’s a great melodic Rock album with flawless production, great music and, of course, perfect vocals. The sound is a little dated, a little too rooted in the early to mid ’80s, but if you grew up at that time with that music then you will like this record. All the songs are well written, the list of songwriters is a testament to that, and the performances are high quality, I couldn’t find one song that I didn’t like or could be called a “filler” track. I admit that at the end ‘House Of Dreams’ and ‘Walk On’ seemed to follow the same patterns as the rest of the tracks but they are still good solid songs that could easily be a single if either the radio industry got it’s collective heads together or we turn the calendar back 20 years. This is another great album from Joe Lynn Turner and it is definitely one of the best I have heard this year.

Favorite Songs:
I like every song on the album but if I had to pick a few that stand out above the rest they would be: ‘Gutters Of Gold’, ‘I Found Love’, ‘Tears On The Pages’ and ”Divided’.