Archive for March, 2010

KISS – Ace Frehley solo album (1978, Casablanca Records)

  1. Rip It Out
  2. Speedin’ Back To My Baby
  3. Snow Blind
  4. Ozone
  5. What’s On Your Mind?
  6. New York Groove
  7. I’m In Need Of Love
  8. Wiped Out
  9. Fractured Mirror

Musicians:
Ace Frehley – Lead & Background Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer, Bass
Anton Fig – Drums & Percussion
Will Lee – Bass on tracks 4, 7, 8
Carl Tallarico – Drums on track 9
David Lasley & Susan Collins & co. – Background Vocals on tracks 2, 5, 6
Larry Kelly – Background Vocals on track 1
Bill ‘Bear’ Scheniman – Bell on track 9
Bobby McAdams – Power Mouth on track 6

Producers: Eddie Kramer & Ace Frehley

Country: USA

Total Time = 36:38

Ace Frehley
Ace Frehley MySpace page
KISS
KISSFAQ

Ace Frehley has always been my favorite member of KISS. From the time I was a young kid in 1977 when I discovered KISS, straight through to present day, Ace Frehley has always been one of my guitar heroes and one of the reasons KISS is my favorite band. He had that outer world persona, the cool silver, black and blue makeup with matching costume, that made him look more like a superhero than the rest. The focus was always on Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley in magazines and interviews so I always waited for an article featuring Ace but there weren’t as many and this gave Ace an extra aura of mystery to me. Back in the early ’80s when I started to really get into music, I started to look at KISS as more than a superhero, comic, cartoon entity and that of an actual band. I started to collect their albums on cassette, paying close attention to every small detail I could find in newspapers, magazines and record stores about each record. By the time KISS released CREATURES OF THE NIGHT (1982), I had almost every KISS album on cassette except the solo albums and THE ELDER (1981)…..these albums had become scarce due to their cut-out/delete bin status. First on my list…..Ace Frehley.

I remember exactly where & when I bought my Ace Frehley solo album cassette – Good Vibrations in Seekonk, Massachusetts for $7.98 sometime in the Fall of 1982. Every weekend my mom would go to the Seekonk to do food shopping at the area’s first mega-grocery store, Heartland, and it was always packed. This turned into a 2 hour odyssey every weekend so I would go to the Good Vibrations in the same plaza and look at ALL the vinyl, tapes and magazines and that’s how I got my Metal education. Back then I had a want list and all the missing KISS album were at the top…..but on cassette! That store had tons of vinyl (this was before CDs took over) and they had copies of all four solo albums but I needed the cassette and it wasn’t in the “K” section of the cassettes…..until I asked the guy at the counter and he found it under “F” for Frehley! That is something that gets discussed regularly, especially by KISS fans, is it a KISS record or a solo album? Technically it’s a solo record but unified by the band name KISS so I always file my solo albums in my KISS discography. Enough of my collecting rules, on to the album!

As many a young kid my age did back in the day, you listened to the first couple of songs on each side first because you knew they were probably the best songs. Then you hit <<Rewind>> and listened to those first couple of songs again and again until they were etched into your mind. If you knew which songs were the hits, the single, then you could get to the rest of the tape later. I knew from KISS articles in magazines that ‘New York Groove’ was played on the DYNASTY tour so I re-wound Side 2 and listened to that song first…..a lot of the time I would let the tape run into ‘I’m In Need Of Love’. Same thing with Side 1, ‘Rip It Out’ was the official single and I played that over and over, letting the tape run so I knew ‘Speedin’ Back to My Baby’ as well. These four songs were the entire basis for me listening to this album and it wasn’t until months after I bought, maybe even a couple of years actually, until I started to listen to the album as a whole. ‘Rip It Out’ and ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’ sounded like typical KISS songs sung by Ace so I really got into them quick but ‘Snow Blind’ and ‘Ozone’ were songs that I couldn’t get into right away. Both songs seemed weird to me back then and, when I was told by some older metalheads in my neighborhood that the songs were about drugs, I didn’t like them. Remember “Say No To Drugs”? Once I started listening to them I started to like both songs because they were different, spacey, kind of out there just like Ace was. Now these two tracks are  couple of my favorites on the record. Last song on Side 1 is ‘What’s On Your Mind?’ and it is definitely a lost Ace classic that has a really catchy melody and chorus…..it’s one of those songs that gets you singing along right away and it could have easily fit on LOVE GUN (1977) or even DYNASTY (1979) a year later. I think this is one of Ace’s best vocal performances on the album.

Side 2 opens with the DYNASTY tour performed ‘New York Groove’, a song written by Russ Ballard and previously recorded by a British Glam band, Hello, in 1975. Now I didn’t know that this was a cover song back when I bought the album and I have never heard Hello’s version so my long standing rules against cover songs doesn’t apply. I knew this was a song KISS played live, it was the only hit single from any of the solo albums (#13 on the Billboard charts in 1978) and it was a catchy song that instantly stuck in my brain. ‘I’m In Need Of Love’ is a spacey kind of song, similar to ‘Snow Blind’ and ‘Ozone’ with different guitar techniques and sounds. I’ve always liked the song, it has this mid-tempo pace that borders a ballad at some points but the song picks up at the guitar solo…..one of my favorites on the record. The title is a pure KISS type of song title so that was another reason I gravitated to it. Back in the day I didn’t care much for ‘Wiped Out’ or ‘Fractured Mirror’, I always thought that the opening surf-styled guitar riff was corny and I never really cared about instrumentals. Today I’m a huge fan of ‘Fractured Mirror’ but ‘Wiped Out’ is probably my least favorite song on the album. ‘Fractured Mirror’ had turned into one of Ace’s signature moments and he uses it to this day as an intro when he hits the concert stage., I still find ‘Wiped Out’ a little corny but the song takes on that spacey kind of feel like ‘Ozone’ or ‘Snow Blind’.

Bottom Line:
For me, the best solo album is the Ace Frehley solo album, not just because he has always been my favorite member of KISS but because the album is an extension of what Ace had done up to that point in KISS. The songs sound like Ace sung KISS songs but there is a lot of experimentation, a lot of freedom with sound and guitar effects, that could never fit onto a proper KISS album. I like every song on the album, even ‘Wiped Out’, and you can tell that Ace put all his creativity into making the record, I also think that his vocals on this record were more confident and better than anything he had sung with KISS at that point in time. From a personal historical standpoint, this was the album that made me seek out the other three solo albums, in the hopes that they would be just as good, and started me following both Ace’s and Peter Criss’ solo careers. I own the original cassette I had from back in the day and that is an original Casablanca Records pressing, not a Polygram Records reissue…..I also have the first pressing on CD through Polygram and the 1997 remaster. I would like to track down an original pressing vinyl LP with the poster but those go for big bucks online or at conventions.

Favorite Songs:
I like every song on the album but if I had to pick four songs then they would be: ‘Rip It Out’, ‘What’s On Your Mind?’, ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’ & ‘I’m In Need Of Love’

WANTED

Manowar – Hell On Earth IV DVD (2007)

When it comes to really good music DVDs, Manowar is right up there with KISS and Iron Maiden in making some of the best. Manowar’s HELL ON EARTH series has been going strong since debuting in 2001 and know they are up to volume 5! I have been picking these DVDs up around the time they were released but for some strange reason I never picked up volume 4. Recently, I bought the new HELL ON EARTH V DVD when it was released and I was ready to have a full week of Manowar on my big screen TV but I soon found out that volume 4 is missing! I swear I had it in my DVD collection but it’s not there. I even checked my records of my CD & DVD purchases for the last couple of years (Yes, I actually keep track of what I spend!) and it’s not listed. So, to complete the set, I want HELL ON EARTH IV (2007)!

Death to false Metal!

Swedish Hard Rock/Metal band Human Cometh is offering a free download of their new album, EVOLUTION.

The band is giving EVOLUTION away absolutely free but there is a donation button (via Paypal) if you would like to throw a couple bucks their way for their music. I’m a firm believer in paying for a product and, when I download the album after this post, I will be making a donation.

You can download EVOLUTION at the band’s website.

http://www.humancometh.com/

Band Lineup:
Morgan Pettersson - Lead Guitar
Kaj Roth – Lead Vocals
Bjorn Pehrson – Bass
Jon Robbins – Drums
Steven Gardner – Backing vocals

Nothing is better than a concert by one of your favorite bands…..and it’s even better when it’s FREE! I went to the Mohegan Sun Casino Friday night to catch Ace Frehley live in concert at the Wolf Den. For those of you who haven’t been, the Wolf Den is an intimate club that sits right in the heart of the casino surrounded by the sounds of slot machines and gaming tables. The Wolf Den holds about 400 people and it usually brings in some of the better known Hard Rock acts. Earlier in the month, Kix played there and Helix is coming in April! A lot of tribute acts get on that stage and play for the casino patrons as well.

Being a KISS fan, I knew that an Ace Frehley solo show would bring tons of New England KISS fans to the casino so my friend and I got there for 3:30 in the afternoon (showtime was 8pm), had a nice meal at one of the buffets, and got in line around 5pm. As predicted, the KISS Army came out in force. We counted and we were within the first 50 people but the line stretched to over the 400 capacity. The cool thing about the Wolf Den is that it is primarily open so you can see the show from the casino floor, there were people three deep around the arena and many fans took over slot machines close by to take in the show. We had a great table inside, very close to the stage with a perfect view, so I didn’t run down to the front when Ace and the band came on. Ace was joined by Scot Coogan (drums/vocals) and Anthony Esposito (bass/vocals), who both played on his new record, ANOMALY, as well as, new guitarist Todd Youth.

Ace Frehley setlist:

Intro – Fractured Mirror
Rocket Ride
Parasite
Snow Blind
Sister
Pain In The Neck
Into The Void
Speedin’ Back To My Baby
Rock Soldiers
Love Her All I Can
Talk To Me
2000 Man
Strange Ways
New York Groove
Rip It Out
Hard Times
Shock Me
Ace guitar solo (w/smoking guitar)
Let Me Know outro
Shout It Out Loud

Encore:
Deuce
Love Gun
Cold Gin

This was a great concert…..a KISS diehard’s dream! Ace and his band came out and put on an energetic show full of Ace solo and KISS classics. Not surprisingly, Ace and the band focused on most KISS material that featured Ace either as lead singer or primary songwriter. It was extremely cool to hear deep tracks like ‘Rocket Ride’, ‘Strange Ways’, ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Talk To Me’, songs that were rarely played live by KISS during their ’70s heyday. Ace also pulled out 4 songs from his 1978 KISS solo record (‘New York Groove’, ‘Rip It Out’, ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’, ‘Snow Blind’) and 2 brand new songs off ANOMALY (‘Sister’ & ‘Pain In The Neck’) but one of the most gratifying songs of the set for me was ‘Rock Soldiers’ from the first Frehley’s Comet album…..to this day, Frehley’s Comet is one of my all-time favorite bands. The ’78 solo album songs were great also, the Ace album was my favorite by the four members and it was so cool to finally hear ‘Rip It Out’ and ‘Snow Blind’ live. I thought ‘Sister’ came out great live and Ace announced that this was the first performance of ‘Pain In The Neck’ ever so we got a little extra KISStory at the show. The audience was mostly KISS fans so all the KISS classics got huge ovations, as did the entire set. ‘Parasite’, ‘Shock Me’ and ‘Shout It Out Loud’ were all great but the encore really brought the house down with cool versions of ‘Deuce’, ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Cold Gin’. Ace also managed to get in a great guitar solo complete with his signature smoking guitar and then he was joined by the band to complete the ‘Let Me Know’ outro solo with the signature KISS moves…..something that got the crowd really going! What a show! Ace and the band played 20 songs in an hour and 45 minutes, including an extended guitar solo and the opening into tape of ‘Fractured Mirror’ from the ’78 solo record…..so it was really 22 songs worth of time! You can’t ask for much more! It was a great show at a great venue for a great price…..FREE!

Definitely catch Ace on tour if you can…..check out Ace Frehley.com for tour dates.

WANTED

Dream Evil – Evilized (2003)

This one is really simple…..I thought I had it and I don’t. I got into Dream Evil with their 2002 debut, DRAGONSLAYER. The band had a cool Metal name that sounded like a classic Metal band, the album artwork was cool and the music was solid Power Metal. For some strange reason, I never bothered to pick up the follow-up record, EVILIZED. Recently, I bought the two CD set GOLD MEDAL IN METAL (2008) and I thought I had completed my Dream Evil collection….until I found this CD missing!

It’s rare that I have a Friday night off but my wife went to Connecticut to see Train in concert and I went out on a date with my two daughters. After a fun dinner I took them to Gamestop to buy them special video game presents. What was already a great night out with the kids got even better when I remembered that my local Newbury Comics was having one of it’s Rock & Metal special sales with tons of CDs specially sale priced between $7.99 – $11.88…..this is always a good time to stock up! I didn’t go overboard, and I forgot my want list again, but with the kids fed and bribed, we hit the record store! I will be hitting this sale again a few times before it ends the second week of April!

Acrassicauda – Only the Dead See The End Of The War (2010) – $5: I walked in the front door and found this CD right away! I have been following Acrassicauda since I saw the Heavy Metal In Baghdad DVD back in 2008. I remember hearing that the band’s first official album was being released but I completely forgot about it! This is a four song E.P. rather than a full-length record but with the band relocated to the U.S. and signed to a label, I expect more music from the band soon.

White Wizzard – Over The Top (2010) – $9: The new White Wizzard came out a couple of weeks ago and it was only one of two new releases I could remember from my want list! I definitely liked the old school Metal style of last year’s HIGH SPEED G.T.O. (2009) so I’ve been waiting for this follow-up. This CD was displayed right next to Acrassicauda so I was able to get the next to last copy ata great sale price!

Van Canto – Tribe Of Force (2010) – $12: This is the second new release I could remember from my want list and this was a must have for me because of the video I saw on Youtube for the opening track, ‘Lost Forever’, from this album. I wasn’t sure of what to think about A Capella Metal but I was won over by the concept as soon as I heard the opening. This is solid Power Metal but without instruments except for the drums.

Mutiny Within – s/t (2010) – $10: I don’t usually buy into the hype on a new group right away but I heard one track by Mutiny Within and I figured it was worth taking a chance for the $9.99 price. Progressive Death Metal/Metalcore isn’t my genre of choice but I’m exploring different genres and why not try a new band? I noticed that Mutiny Within is coming locally with Sonata Arctica in a couple weeks so I might see the show if I like what I hear.

High On Fire – Snakes For The Divine (2010) – $8: Best price at $7.99 for a full length album. I’m a little late getting on the High On Fire bandwagon but I really wanted to pick this album up shortly after it was released. I’ve read a lot of good reviews so I’m looking forward to spinning it this week and maybe I can pick up a few other High On Fire albums that I saw on sale for $9.99 in the next couple of weeks.

Dream Evil – Gold Medal In Metal (2008) – $10: Best value for a 2 CD set for $9.99 on sale. I’ve been following Dream Evil since DRAGONSLAYER (2002) and I’ve been buying their albums right along as they been released…..actually, I just noticed that I don’t have EVILIZED (2003) in my collection! I remember checking this CD out when it was released a couple of years ago but the price was close to $20. Seeing that it was a live CD plus a rarities CD I wanted it but I figured I could wait for it until the price came down. I actually almost bought this just before Christmas when I saw the price lowered to $14.99 but even then I figured that was too much for a 2 year old release. The bargain hunter in me couldn’t pass up the deal at $9.99, I thought that would complete the Dream Evil collection through the new record, INTO THE NIGHT (2010), but now I realize I’m missing EVILIZED too.

I bought a few other discs in the last couple of days…..as I reported in my Hammerfall concert review, I picked up Powerglove’s two CDs for $17 total and I received Infinite Descent’s CD for free from the band. The only other disc I’ve bought is the debut album from Silent Lapse. I received an email promoting the album as a free download or a free CD…..I never pass up a free CD so I went to the band’s website and I ordered my free disc. It wasn’t completly free, I had to pay the $3 shipping charge so the Silent Lapse CD was $3.

Total = $74

Total (year) =$253

Total CDs (year) = 30

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total LPs (year) = 1

Bruce Kulick – BK3 (2010, Twenty 4 Records/Rocket Science Ventures)

  1. Fate
  2. Ain’t Gonna Die
  3. No Friend Of Mine
  4. Hand Of The King
  5. I’ll Survive
  6. Dirty Girl
  7. Final Mile
  8. I’m The Animal
  9. And I Know
  10. Between The Lines
  11. Life

Musicians:
Bruce Kulick – Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Jeremy Rubofino – Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
Brent Fitz – Drums
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals on ‘Ain’t Gonna Die’
John Corabi – Lead Vocals on ‘No Friend Of Mine’
Nick Simmons – Lead Vocals on ‘Hand Of The King’
George Kerhulas – Hammond B3
Doug Fieger – Lead Vocals & Percussion on ‘Dirty Girl’
Tobias Sammet – Lead Vocals on ‘I’m The Animal’
Eric Singer – Drums on ‘I’m The Animal’
Steve Lukather – Guitars on ‘Between The Lines’
Jimmy Haslip – Bass on ‘Between The Lines’
Kenny Aronoff – Drums on ‘Between The Lines’

Producers: Jeremy Rubofino & Bruce Kulick

Country: USA

Total Time = 46:14

Bruce Kulick
Bruce Kulick MySpace page

The last 6 months or so have been a great time to be a KISS fan with new albums from KISS and Ace Frehley finally seeing the light of day and now former KISS lead guitarist Bruce Kulick releases his third solo album BK3. After having no new material for so long, KISS fans like myself are revelling in this recording rebirth! I grew up in the ’80s so the non-makeup KISS was my focal point and Bruce was a big part of the KISS machine at a time when stability and musicianship was desperately needed. From the ANIMALIZE TOUR in 1984 to the MTV Unplugged session in 1995, Bruce Kulick was a talented mainstay in the band and helped right the KISS ship and keep it on a steady course for 11 years until the inevitable reunion with Peter Criss & Ace Frehley. I make it a point to follow former members of KISS through their solo careers but I haven’t really followed Bruce past UNION, the excellent band project with John Corabi, to his solo albums. BK3 is Bruce’s third solo effort and I decided to check it out.

BK3 is like an all-star solo album with a lot of big name guest musicians making appearances on half the tracks and Bruce handling vocals on the other half. KISS fans will take note that Gene Simmons co-wrote and and lead vocals on ‘Ain’t Gonna Die’ while his son, Nick Simmons, helped write and sang on the first single ‘Hand Of The King’. ‘Ain’t Gonna Die’ sounds like it could easily fit into the ’90s REVENGE/CARNIVAL OF SOULS KISS era and it is one of the best Gene related songs to be released in the last 15 years. Nick Simmons puts in a solid vocal performance on ‘Hand Of The King’ and he sounds very much like his famous father when he sings, I didn’t even realize that it was Nick singing this song until I read the liner notes, I thought it was Gene doing a subdued vocal with Bruce on backup harmonies. Just goes to show you the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! ‘Hand Of The King’ is another song that could have easily fit on a ’90s KISS album, it has a certain bite to it, a dirty Hard Rock sound that was so prevalent on REVENGE and CARNIVAL OF SOULS. Current KISS drummer Eric Singer also makes an appearance by playing drums on ‘I’m The Animal’ and Bruce’s Union partner John Corabi (former The Scream & Motley Crue) adds a great vocal to ‘No Friend Of Mine’, a song that could easily be a long lost Union track and one of my favorites on the album.

This isn’t an all-star KISS related project though, Bruce has brought in a few other friends to add some different sounds to the album. Former singer of The Knack, Doug Fieger, adds a really catchy vocal to the power-Pop of ‘Dirty Girl’ (a title that sounds like a Gene Simmons song!) and Tobias Sammet of Edguy/Avantasia fame contributes his great set of pipes to ‘I’m the Animal’, a song originally meant for Gene to sing but is a much better fit for Tobias. It’s a guitar heavy track with that REVENGE style main riff and aggressive vocal but the harmonies on the chorus break it up a bit. Sammet is well-known for his Power Metal/Melodic Hard Rock vocals but here he filss in an aggressive ballsy vocal with a ton of attitude. ‘Between The Lines’ is an all-star instrumental with Bruce and Steve Lukather (Toto) trading off guitar parts so smoothly. Seeing that this is his solo album, Bruce takes the reins on the other half of the album singing on the record’s other five tracks. No offense to Bruce but he’s no Joe Lynn Turner or Paul Stanley vocally but his performance is pretty good. ‘Fate’ opens with a fast Hard Rock style and an edgy vocal while ‘And I Know’ goes for a more melodic approach. Where Bruce shines vocally is on the slower songs, kind of like his KISS vocal debut on ‘I Walk Alone’ from CARNIVAL OF SOULS. ‘I’ll Survive’ is laid back (like Bruce!) and he sounds a bit like Space Ace at the mic. ‘Final Mile’ is a melodic mid-tempo track that really spotlights Bruce vocally as does ‘Life’, a song that has a cool Beatles and Queen laid back vibe to it…..cool guitar on this song too.

Bottom Line:
I honestly wasn’t expecting a lot from this album because I hadn’t heard Bruce’s previous solo albums but I was pleasantly surprised at how varied and well done this album is. Maybe I wasn’t expecting much because Bruce is never really a focal point in the bands he has been in, he is always a solid part of the supporting cast. BK3 turns things around though, the writing is solid and Bruce’s vocals are pretty good. He’s always been an underrated guitar player so his guitar work is as solid as it’s always been. The collaborations are the highlights, especially the Gene and Nick songs for KISS fans, but the Corabi, Feiger and Sammet songs are the best on the album. ‘No Friend Of Mine’ is reason enough to buy this record and it’s probably my favorite of the album with ‘Dirty Girl’ coming in a close second. Overall I would say this is a really good solid album that flows very well. I’ve been giving this a lot of time on the stereo and iPod and I’m really enjoying it…..this album is going to surprise a few people and it’s going to win Bruce some extra fans outside of the KISS realm.

From Bravewords.com:

Columbia/Legacy a division of Sony Music Entertainment, have announced the release of Legacy Edition of JUDAS PRIEST’s seminal album, British Steel, on May 10th in the UK and May 11th in North America.

British Steel: Legacy Edition features the 2001 remaster of the original 36-minute, nine-song album (plus two bonus tracks). Also included is a DVD which combines a live 16-song concert filmed in August 2009 at the Seminole Hard Rock Arena in Hollywood, Florida (the album sequence plus seven more cuts), with a 30-minute Making Of British Steel interview that includes all four original band members.

British Steel was the sixth studio album by Judas Priest. Released on April 14th, 1980 and produced by Tom Allom, British Steel was recorded at Tittenhurst Park in England – a mansion owned at the time by former BEATLE Ringo Starr, and previously owned by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

British Steel has long been considered one of metals all-time classics. It was with this release that Priest truly broke through to the masses, with a pair of tracks that have become fixtures on rock radio – the enduring anthems ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘Living After Midnight’. But like all classic albums, there is not a single weak track detected on British Steel, as evidenced by such standouts as the perennial concert highlight, ‘Metal Gods’, as well as ‘Rapid Fire’, ‘Grinder’, ‘United’ and ‘The Rage’, amongst others.

In 2009 Judas Priest performed the British Steel album in its entirety for the first time ever as part of their 30th anniversary USA tour. A filmed recording of the show on the August 17th, 2009 at The Seminole Hard Rock Arena, Hollywood, Florida – will be included in both the limited edition deluxe and deluxe releases. The show was captured in front of a vibrant American audience and in full 5.1 surround and stereo sound. Known for their high-energy and spectacular stage shows the band played the entire British Steel album in sequence as well as a number of other well-know tracks from their catalog.

The live concert was mixed in stereo and 5.1 by the original British Steel producer Tom Allom.

British Steel: Legacy Edition tracklisting:

Disc 1 – Remastered album
‘Rapid Fire’
‘Metal Gods’
‘Breaking The Law’
‘Grinder’
‘United’
‘You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise’
‘Living After Midnight’
‘The Rage’
‘Steeler’
Bonus tracks:
‘Red, White & Blue’
‘Grinder’ (Live)

Disc 2 – DVD The British Steel 2009 Tour (Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Arena, Hollywood, Florida, August 17, 2009)
‘Rapid Fire’
‘Metal Gods’
‘Breaking The Law’
‘Grinder’
‘United’
‘You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise’
‘Living After Midnight’
‘The Rage’
‘Steeler’
‘The Ripper’
‘Prophecy’
‘Hell Patrol’
‘Victim Of Changes’
‘Freewheel Burning’
‘Diamonds And Rust’
‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’

On Saturday night I made the 45 minute drive up to The Palladium in Worcester, MA to catch one of my favorite bands from the last 15 years…..Hammerfall!

I got into Hammerfall in late 1997 when I saw the GLORY TO THE BRAVE CD in the Import Section of my favorite record store and I took a chance. 13 years later…..I have bought every Hammerfall album (except 2008′s MASTERPIECES) and have hoped I would get the chance to see them in concert. Back in 2005, Hammerfall toured the U.S. including a stop at The Palladium but I missed it. At the time I was working at a new job and I hadn’t been there long so I probably didn’t go because I didn’t want to make waves asking for a night off to see a Metal show. This time around I took the day off way in advance! I hadn’t been to a show at The Palladium in years so I forgot what it was like…..it’s a great old theater with a general admission floor and it definitely gets all the good Metal shows regularly including the annual New England Metal & Hardcore Festival. I was flying solo so my plan was to get in, get a drink, grab my Hammerfall tour shirt and find a stool in the bar area to watch the opening acts from.

All the opening bands were local Massachusetts Metal bands and this was my first time seeing any of them so I was hoping to hear some cool music and maybe check out a CD or two. First band on was Infinite Descent and they played close to 30 minutes of some really good Progressive/Thrash/Death Metal that all I could immeadiately compare them to was Arch Enemy. A lot of that has to do with lead vocalist Olivia Berka being similar to Angela Gossow with her aggressive vocals but it was her mixing of the clean vocals that hooked me right away. The other cool thing was the band gave away inflatable swords that the kids on the floor used during their moshing battle. I was going to hit the band’s merchandise stand for a copy of their demo but guitarist Rob Gil was handing them out to the crowd after the band’s set…..a good way to meet some of the fans.

Next up was Frozen, another Progressive/Thrash/Death Metal band from Massachusetts that was very aggressive but also very eclectic. There were a ton of different styles the band threw out including modern heavy Rock and musical themes from ’80s Nintendo games so it was an interesting set. I was going to pick up a CD (the band has two releases) but I never made it over to their merch stand because I didn’t want to lose my prime viewing spot.

Last opener was Powerglove and they got the biggest ovation from the crowd. Powerglove is from the Boston area and they play “video game Metal”: the band takes video game music and creates a metallic version. (You may recognize their band name, taken from the old Nintendo glove controller, the Power Glove.) Songs based on Mario, Dr. Robotnik (from Sonic the Hedgehog), Power Rangers, Mortal Kombat, Tetris and Final Fantasy were featured through their set that also included stage props, full costumes and foam swords that they sold and threw into the pit so the fans could “do battle”. You would think that the previous two aggressive bands would get the crowd whipped to a frenzy but these guys were obvious favorites and they had a full floor area moshing, battling and banging their heads. I was completely taken off guard by how good the band was so I went over to their booth on the way out and paid only $17 to get both the band’s CDs. Definitely the most interesting and entertaining of all the openers but I’d say this was one of the better local lineups I’ve seen in a long time.

Hammerfall setlist:

Punish & Enslave
Crimson Thunder
Renegade
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Last Man Standing
Blood Bound
Life Is Now
Heeding The Call
Rebel Inside
The Dragon Lies Bleeding
Between Two Worlds
Any Means Necessary
Stronger Than All

Encore:
Riders Of The Storm
Secrets
Let The Hammer Fall
Hearts On Fire

Like I said before, Hammerfall played The Palladium back in 2005 and I didn’t get to the show, there was no way I was missing the band this time around! Who knows if it will take another 5 years for them to return? My favorite Hammerfall album is their second, LEGACY OF KINGS (1998), so I was hoping to hear a few songs from that, as well as, some new songs. Old school Hammerfall (the first 3 records) is what I like best and I haven’t really focused heavily on a new Hammerfall record since their third with RENEGADE in 200, the subsequent releases were bought and listened to but I put them down quickly. On the ride up to Worcester, I listened to the new album, NO SACRIFICE, NO VICTORY (2009) and CRIMSON THUNDER (2004)…..the new album gets better everytime I hear it and I had forgotten just how good CRIMSON THUNDER was!

The venue was packed and the band came out to the heavy as hell ‘Punish & Enslave’ from the latest album…..from there it was full speed ahead! Every Hammerfall album was represented by at least one song in the 17 song set with the NO SACRIFICE album getting five played live. All the new songs fit into the set well around all the classic material and the highlights for me were all of them but the standout songs were ‘Between Two Worlds’ and ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’. The band played some classic songs from their earlier era, especially from the LEGACY album, and that had me completely psyched. I finally got to hear ‘The Dragon Lies Bleeding’, ‘Renegade’ and ‘Let The Hammer Fall’ live! Another 5 songs came from the 2004-2005 era, when the band last played the U.S., off CRIMSON THUNDER and CHAPTER V: UNBENT, UNBOWED, UNBROKEN (2005). I never really got into CHAPTER V but I had given it a re-listen a few days before the show and I was surprised at how good it sounded now so it was cool to get the first two songs off that album (‘Secrets’ & ‘Blood Bound’) live. The crowd went nuts the entire time, especially for the classics off the first three albums, but the intensity was at it’s highest for the CRIMSON THUNDER songs ‘Crimson Thunder’, ‘Riders Of The Storm and the set ending ‘Hearts On Fire’.

The band looked like they were having a great time on stage and they were full of energy, Worcester was the second show of the tour so they were probably pumped way up to be back in the U.S. Joacim Cans sounded so great live, his vocals were so good that he sounded almost exactly like the albums…..he has definitely moved up on my favorite singers list! Fredrik Larrson (who played bass on the first record) was back and teamed up superbly with drummer Anders Johannson while guitarist Oscar Drojnak had a blistering guitar and seemed to be having more fun than the crowd! Even though each band member was excellent I have to say that the newest member, guitarist Pontus Norgren, stood out the most aside from Joacim Cans. Many of you may have heard of Pontus through his solo work, his work with Jeff Scott Soto on his solo stuff and in Humanimal or through his various studio & production work. Needless to say, Pontus is a seriously talented musician…..he plays great guitar (very melodic) and his vocal harmonies are a perfect fit for the Hammerfall sound. I found myself watching him for most of the set to see how he would handle the older material vs. the new songs, I say he did an excellent job.

The band was so good, so passionate about Metal and the fans, that I left the show on a huge high note. You couldn’t help it after the band tore into ‘Hearts On Fire’ to end the set, they had the crowd so frenzied that they could have easily pulled out another 2 or 3 songs and it would have been even better. We got 17 songs that represented all their albums with perfect playing and respect for the fans…..that’s about all you can ask from a concert. If anyone has the chance to check out the Hammerfall tour, I fully recommend buying a ticket! The band kicked my ass back into gear and now I am ready for the next big concert and I’ve been listening to all sorts of Metal non-stop: no TV, no sports talk radio, no video games…..just Heavy Metal!

From Iron Maiden.com:

IRON MAIDEN ANNOUNCE NEW STUDIO ALBUM “THE FINAL FRONTIER” AND NORTH AMERICAN TOUR

IRON MAIDEN are pleased to announce that their forthcoming new studio album will be called ‘THE FINAL FRONTIER‘, and is expected be released late summer of this year.

The announcement comes with news of a North American Tour with Very Special Guests Dream Theater to open in Dallas, Texas, on 9th June and finish in Washington D.C. on 20th July, making it Maiden’s most extensive North American tour in many years.

Following these shows in USA and Canada The Final Frontier World Tour will travel back to Europe for a few selected major festival and stadium shows with the band planning to continue to many other countries in 2011 (full currently confirmed dates below).

The full Live Nation North America press release for the North American Tour is posted here.

An exclusive pre-sale allowing members of the IRON MAIDEN fan club first access to tickets to the North American Maiden Shows will be made available two days prior to them being available to the public.

Tickets for the Canadian shows will go on sale to the public on Saturday 13th March at 10am PST (10am EST for Toronto and 12 noon EST Montreal). 
Exclusive first access to the tickets will be available to IM fan club members on Wednesday 10th March at 10am PST through to Thursday 11th March at 6pm PST (EST for Toronto).
Regretfully due to technical reasons an exclusive Pre-Sale in Montreal is not possible.

Tickets for the US Shows will go on sale to the public on Saturday 20th March at 10am EST.
Exclusive first access to the tickets will be available to IM fan club members on Wednesday 17th March at 10am EST through to Thursday 18th March at 6pm EST

As IRON MAIDEN are actively dedicated to ensuring their fans always have access to the best possible tickets at the fairest possible price, without being subject to scalping for good seats, so many North American shows will operate, at least in part, a paperless ticket policy: More information on Ticketmaster Paperless Ticketing can be found here

To give IRON MAIDEN fan club members a privileged insight to their touring world, IMTV will return to http://www.ironmaiden.com to cover THE FINAL FRONTIER WORLD TOUR. This exclusive footage includes regular video from the live shows, touring, band interviews, insights into our crew and what they do and much much more. The website will also feature exclusive tour diaries, exclusive photographs and anything else that helps the fans get a real insight into the dynamics of a big tour.

**THE FINAL FRONTIER 2010 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR**
With Very Special Guests Dream Theater

JUNE
Wed 09 Dallas, TX – Superpages.com Center
Fri 11 Houston, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Sat 12 San Antonio, TX – AT&T Center
Mon 14 Denver, CO – Comfort Dental Amphitheatre
Wed 16 Albuquerque, NM – The Pavilion
Thu 17 Phoenix, AZ – Cricket Wireless Pavilion
Sat 19 San Bernardino, CA – San Manuel Amphitheatre
Sun 20 Concord, CA – Sleep Train Pavilion
Tue 22 Auburn, WA – White River Amphitheatre
Thu 24 Vancouver, BC – GM Place
Sat 26 Edmonton, AB – Rexall Place
Tue 29 Saskatoon, SK – Credit Union Center
Wed 30 Winnipeg, MB – MTS Center +
(+Dream Theater will not be performing in Winnipeg)

JULY
Sat 03 Toronto, ON – Molson Amphitheatre
Wed 07 Montreal, QC – Bell Centre
Sun 11 Holmdel, NJ – PNC
Mon 12 New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
Wed 14 Pittsburgh, PA – First Niagra Pavilion
Thu 15 Cleveland, OH – Blossom Music Center
Sat 17 Detroit, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre
Sun 18 Chicago, IL – First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Tue 20 Washington D.C. – Jiffy Lube Live

**THE FINAL FRONTIER 2010 EUROPEAN TOUR**

July 30 -Aug 1 Germany – Wacken Festival

AUGUST
Thur 05 Sweden – Stockholm Stora Skuggan Sonisphere Festival
Sat 07 Finland – Helsinki Pori’s Kirjurinluoto Sonisphere Festival
Sun 08 UK – Knebworth Sonisphere Festival
Wed 11 Norway- Bergen Bergenhus Festning – Koengen

From Escape Music:

Release Date: April 23, 2010

Tracklist:
1. Falling From Grace
2. All The Years Gone
3. The Right Side
4. Coming Home
5. Thru The Rain
6. All That I Needed
7. More Than A Friend
8. Justify
9. Ashes To Ashes
10. Till We Meet Again
11. Captain Jack (Instrumental)
12. Sea Of Black

The band is: Louis D’Augusta- Lead Vocals, Gene D’Itria-Guitars & Back up Vocals, Michael Palumbo – Bass & Back up Vocals, Joey “Vee” Vadala- Drums

Formed in 1980, this dedicated hard rock band from the Boston area has had numerous accomplishments. Most notably, they have sold over 100,000 albums worldwide and performed with great acts such as Hanoi Rocks, Molly Hatchet, Winger, Stryper, Cheap Trick, Girlschool, Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, Hurricane, Grim Reaper, Steven Stills and The Ramones along with many many others.

Their first self titled EP with producer Jon Mathias was recorded at The Record Plant in New York City. The EP sold over 10,000 copies in the Boston area alone, and was enough to get record companies’ attention.

In 1985, the band was signed to RCA records and released their first major label debut, “New Birth”, produced by Tony Platt. The 45 single, “Do You Love Me”, was number one for over six weeks at many radio stations along the east coast. The video for that single was also in rotation on MTV and hit Billboard’s charts. In 1987, “Mass” was signed to Enigma records and released their third album/CD, “Take You Home”, produced by John Rollo and “Mass”. This record/CD sold tens of thousands in the United States as well as England, Japan, and other countries around the world. In 1988, “Mass” released their fourth record/CD,” “Voices in the Night”, on Enigma records. Michael Sweet of the band “Stryper” was the producer. Again, this CD sold well all over the world. Songs such as “Reach for the Sky”, “Turn it all Around”, and “Voices in the Night” were available as CD singles. Songs from this CD also appeared on various compilation CD’s. That same year, “Mass” was nominated for ‘Best Heavy Metal Act’ at the Boston Music Awards.

Mass has continually worked to improve themselves and in 2007 signed with Escape Music and the result was the highly enjoyable “Crack Of Dawn” (ESM153). This release excited old fans of the band as well as attracting many new ones. Swedish producer Martin Kronlund twiddled the knobs to make this a fine sounding CD.

It’s now 2010 and the band have been working harder than ever for the new release Sea Of Black, an album that is chock full of ripping guitars and driving rhythms. Mass have always been a tight sounding four piece that have excelled in great songwriting and blinding musicianship. Once again using Martin Kronlund at the production helm what we have here is a winning formula that can only enhance their poularity. Although essentially a hard rock band Mass know how to hit the right notes with a ballad or two and they pour on the passion with ease. Astounding music…

With thirty years experience in this competitive world of rock music Mass has come shining through

I got my taxes done in early February so the annual refund windfall my family receives is always a welcome event to start the new year. I’ve spent a lot of money in the last 30 days between paying down debt, buying new furniture, a big T.V. and a long-awaited Playstation 3. I spent a little bit of money on music but not a lot, I’ve just been keeping up with some of the newer releases and a few that I missed in 2009. So here’s what I picked up in the last month or so…..

Foreigner – Can’t Slow Down (2009) – $12: This was one of the albums that I missed in 2009 that I had heard so many good things about but never got around to setting foot in a Wal-Mart because I hate it so much. If I have to go into a Wal-Mart for any reason then it means that either my wife has brought me in or whatever I need is only available there. The last time I was in Wal-Mart was when I bought another exclusive, KISS – SONIC BOOM (2009). I should have just bought this new Foreigner album then but I didn’t for some strange reason. Same deal as other Wal-Mart exclusives: a 3 disc set including the new record, a CD of re-recorded hits and a live concert DVD. Great value, bad retail environment.

Overkill – Ironbound (2010) – $10: I hadn’t set foot in the record store in a couple of weeks so I went in specifically to get the new Overkill after I went to the Wal-Mart to buy the Foreigner album. I can’t remember the last time I missed an Overkill record and I wasn’t going to miss this one especially with a great release day sale price! How can you beat saving $6 off the regular price by picking the album up the day of release, or at least the week of release?

Icarus Witch – Draw Down The Moon (2010) – $9: Of course going to the record store means that you’re probably going to buy more than one CD and I started going through the Metal section. I completely forgot that the new Icarus Witch album had come out and I was shocked by the low sale price. If you’ve followed this blog for a while then you know that Icarus Witch is one of my favorite new bands of the last 4 to 5 years so this was an easy purchase.

Heavenly – Carpe Diem (2010) – $15: Can you guess by the album cover what type of Metal this is? If you guessed Power Metal…..you’re correct. CARPE DIEM was released on AFM Records everywhere but North America in the Fall of 2009 and I’ve had the digital promo from the label since then. I just can’t embrace downloading as a form of ownership yet (a topic for another time!), I’m an old school collector and I still like the CD, cassette, vinyl, or DVD in my hands. Like I said, AFM Records sent me the digital promo and the album is really good so I put this on my want list to physically own. The problem is that all the online stores I shop at, including Ebay, offered the European import from 2009 for $20+ and then a shipping charge on top of that! I wasn’t about to pay $25+ for a CD when I could wait patiently for a U.S. release. Same label, same packaging, same music but at least $10 cheaper by waiting.

Keel – Streets Of Rock ‘n’ Roll (2010) – $13: Same situation as Heavenly: I received the digital promo from the label, it’s a great album, put it on the want list because I want to own the physical product. I always wondered why Keel never got back together during the reunion boom of the last 15 years but it was definitely worth the wait because this new record is solid. Sale price was unadvertised and there was only one copy at the store so I snatched it up and saved a few bucks off the regular price and the online price at my online shops.

Keel – The Right To Rock (25th Anniversary Edition) (2010 reissue) – $13: It’s hard to believe that 25 years has gone by since this album came out. I have been a Keel fan since 1984 when they released their debut LAY DOWN THE LAW and I bought THE RIGHT TO ROCK on cassette when it came out back in the day. In the late ’90s when I got the Internet, I started to fill holes in my collection and there were a few Keel albums I needed to get on CD. I picked up a used copy of the 2000 reissue CD on the Metal Mayhem label but there has been some debate over the years if that was an official release or a bootleg (I always considered it an official release). Same situation as the new Keel album: I received a digital promo from the label and put it on the want list even though I already owned it…..I got a little excited over the reunion, the new record and the bonus track – ‘The Right To Rock (Reunion version)’.

Manowar – Hell On Earth V DVD – $30: I have been waiting for the latest installment of HELL ON EARTH to hit my local record store ever since Manowar’s website announced the release for all territories due in late November 2009. Unfortunately, North America was skipped! It’s been available through the Manowar website, online stores and Ebay ever since but for $40 – $50 + shipping depending on where you look. I was going to buy it directly from the band but it was $40 + shipping and I thought that was too much for a 2 DVD set. I caught the Newbury Comics weekly email on Monday and saw this was a new release with a $30 sale price so I figured I better get down there first thing Tuesday morning in case there was only a couple of copies. Manowar may have released some subpar albums in the last 10 years but their DVDs are awesome…..they rival both Iron Maiden and KISS for the top spot in Heavy Metal DVD releases. The only problem I had was that I got home and found out I’m missing HELL ON EARTH (Part IV) from 2007! Guess what just made the want list?

I spent a few bucks online at Ebay and a couple of shops also…..here’s the online take…..

Lynzee – Lost In America (2009) – FREE: That’s right…..a free CD! I entered a contest over at the Hair Metal Mansion and Andrew picked my name to win one of the three Lynzee releases he was giving away. Not a bad deal! This album is released through the excellent reissue label Retrospect Records and it’s a compilation of songs from Lynzee’s first two demos, some unreleased material and four new tracks re-done from the original masters way back in the day. If it’s free then it’s for me! It’s a cool way to discover a new band.

Dream Evil – In The Night (2010) – $15: I could have bought this one in the record store but it was the regular jewel case version and not the limited edition with the 2 bonus tracks, extended artwork and patch. Which one do you think I wanted? I checked all the online stores and the limited edition was going for $22+ so I started watching Ebay. I found a seller I’ve done business with in the past and he/she had 5 sealed copies with a BUY IT NOW price of $15…..one click of the mouse and it was mine!

Uncle Slam – Say Uncle (2010 reissue) – $15: The original pressing and the Japanese import always go for big bucks on Ebay and I have had this on my want list for a long time. When I got the press release from Tribunal/Divebomb Records about the reissue, I made a mental note to watch the street date closely. Of course, then I forgot all about it. The label had a special sale that ran for a limited time where you could get this reissue for $12 + $3 shipping, saving at least $5 off the regular price. I received a reminder email that the sale was ending soon and, with an hour to spare, I ordered my CD.

Krokus – Pay It In Metal (1978) – $10: I’m a big Krokus fan and I have always kept the first few Krokus albums on my Ebay watch list. I’ve had the opportunity before to buy PAY IT IN METAL but I’ve always passed because there was always something else to buy. This is actually a vinyl LP, in mint condition, and I won it at auction for $5. Add $5 for shipping and you get the total paid. PAY IT IN METAL is the third Krokus record and it is the same exact album as PAINKILLER (1978)…..the only difference is that the artwork and album title were changed for different countries. There are supposed to be five different covers for this record but I have only seen three: the PAINKILLER album, this U.S. version of PAY IT IN METAL and the German version of PAY IT IN METAL that has the peeled banana of coins. See the Krokus website for more details.

Knightmare – Unholy (2008) – $5: Another Ebay purchase at a great price! I’m not sure how I stumbled upon Australia’s Knightmare but I did and I did some research. UNHOLY is a 5 track E.P. that was limited to 500 copies worldwide and it is now out of print…..that means I had to have one! I found this one on Ebay for $1 and I waited until the last minute of the auction to make a bid…..add the $4 shipping and I got a great bargain on a rare CD.

Total = $142

Total (year) = $179

Total CDs (year) = 20

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total LPs (year) = 1