Archive for July, 2010

Wig Wam – Non Stop Rock ‘N Roll (2010, Frontiers Records)

  1. Do Ya Wanna Taste It
  2. Walls Come Down
  3. Wild One
  4. C’mon Everybody
  5. Man In The Moon
  6. Still I’m Burning
  7. All You Wanted
  8. Non Stop Rock ‘N Roll
  9. From Here
  10. Rocket Through My Heart
  11. Chasing Rainbows
  12. Gotta Get It On (bonus track for U.S. & European digipak)

Band Lineup:
Age Sten Nilsen – Vocals
Trond Holter – Guitar
Bernt Jansen – Bass
Oystein Andersen – Drums

Producer: Trond Holter

Country: Norway

Total Time = 44:31

Wig Wam
Wig Wam MySpace page
Frontiers Records

Norwegian hard rockers Wig Wam have come back after four years to release their new album of ’80s inspired party rock, NON STOP ROCK ‘N ROLL. Technically, this is the band’s 5th release but their 3rd studio album. Wig Wam debuted in 2004 with 667…THE NEIGHBOUR OF THE BEAST and an appearance in the 2005 Eurovision Song contest. Shortly after, the band re-released the debut with some bonus tracks as HARD TO BE  A ROCK ‘N ROLLER (2005) and even that has been re-named a couple of times depending on the region! I had heard about the band from various message boards and I took a chance on their second studio album, WIG WAMANIA! (2006). Add the Japanese exclusive live album, LIVE IN TOKYO (2007), and now this new album and we should be up to 5 records now…..get all that?

Wig Wam makes no excuses when it comes to making music, they are definitely and directly influenced by ’80s styled, MTV hyped and spandex tight Hard Rock/Sleaze/Glam. Think mid to late ’80s Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Poison and any other “hair” band you can think of with huge multi-tracked harmonies, party vocals and plenty of hooks that get you singing along. It’s as if the band entered a time machine, went back to 1986 and made this record, then came back. Mind you, I’m not complaining, this is the kind of music I grew up with in the ’80s but some rockers are going to find the cheese factor higher than the sleaze factor! Right off the bat, ‘Do Ya Wanna Taste It’ moves into a Poison groove with a Vinnie Vincent song title and Def Leppard harmonies…..get the picture? It’s a formula that works because ‘Do Ya Wanna Taste It’ sticks in your head and you start singing along by the second chorus.

‘Walls Come Down’ gets a little faster and harder while ‘Wild One’ is another party anthem that could have easily made FM radio back in the day. ‘C’mon Everybody’ gets heavier but retains that party feel but the chorus is a bit weak, this marks the first chink in the armor. It’s not that the song is bad, it’s pretty good actually, but you get the whole idea right away: Wig Wam is going to go back and forth between all out Hair Metal worship and dirty Hard Rock.

Thankfully the band throws out a curveball to break up the party a bit with the power ballad ‘Man In The Moon’ and the power AOR sound of ‘Still I’m Burning’ and ‘All You Wanted’. The ballad is solid but I was hoping the band would branch out a little after I heard some Journey-esque keyboards in ‘All You Wanted’ but, once the harmonies kick in at the chorus, it’s back to the same Hard Rock formula. The title track gets a little faster and heavier and ballad #2, ‘From Here’, does what it’s supposed to do by breaking up the party with it’s sincere songwriting and performance. Wig Wam is known for their party rock but their ballads are very well-crafted tunes, some of the best on the album! The beginning of ‘Rocket Through My Heart’ is purely influenced by Bon Jovi and it follows through with each verse, the chorus is more of the bombastic kind that’s been all over this album…..’Chasing Rainbows’ starts with a quick drum intro and moves into KISS territory circa 1976-78 until the chorus, which sounds completely familiar but I can’t place it. The bonus track for the first pressing in the U.S. & Europe is ‘Gotta Get It On’ and it’s really one of the weaker songs on the album.

Bottom Line:
So what have we learned here? Well, we know that Wig Wam is heavily influenced by Hard Rock’s mid-80s glory years and they do a good job creating good time party rock. We know that there are few different styles mixed in to break things up, especially the ballads, and we know that if you want to have a good time then this is the album for you. The real question is can you take listening to a lot of similar sounding party rock anthems for 10 out of 12 songs? If you’re like me, then you can easily listen to this album over and over. I’ve had this album since it was released and I still haven’t taken it out of my weekly playlist. Some fans of harder Rock/Metal might not like the overt Glam-ness of the album but it works extremely well. If you like the big hair bands of the ’80s, then this new Wig Wam record is definitely worth checking out.

Favorite Songs:
‘Do Ya Wanna Taste It’, ‘Walls Come Down’, ‘Wild One’, ‘Man In The Moon’, ‘Non Stop Rock ‘N Roll’, ‘Rocket Through My Heart’

It’s been a few months since I caught a live concert but it was definitely worth the wait because, after years of waiting, I finally got to see the Michael Schenker Group in concert! Michael Schenker has been one of my favorite guitarists for years but I always seem to come up short when he comes close to the New England area. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to see him in New York on the last couple of tours but something always came up to stop me from going…..this time around I wasn’t going to miss the show, billed as the MSG 30th Anniversary World Tour. The Showcase Live is about 15 mins from my house so I bought a ticket as soon as the show was announced. The venue is located in the Patriot Place complex that surrounds Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots). I have never been in the Showcase Live but I have heard it was a cool place for a show.

I got to the arena around 7:30pm (showtime was 8pm) and it was nice to see plenty of people hanging around outside with a wide range of MSG and UFO tour shirts. Once I bought my tour shirt ($25 is more than reasonable!) and went in I was a bit shocked to see a real large crowd that got bigger as the night went on! Foxboro, MA is about 20 minutes from Providence, RI, about an hour from Boston, MA  and Hartford, CT so it is an ideal venue smack in the heart of New England. I talked to a lot of people and it turns out that people came from a lot of other states like Maine, New Hamphire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania…..this was a serious event! The opening band was a newer act from Sweden, Sister Sin. As I would find out later, Sister Sin has been around since 2003 but they got worldwide exposure with the release of their second full-length album SWITCHBLADE SERENADES in 2008. The band opened pretty much on time and ran through a 7 song/30 minute set that was full of energy and plenty of Metal that reminded me of a combination of early Motley Crue with a NWOBHM influence. I was impressed with the performance and it was nice to meet up with the band after the concert at their merchandise table.

Michael Schenker Group setlist:

Armed And Ready
Cry For The Nations
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Ready To Rock
I Want You
A Night To Remember
Carmine Appice drum solo
Into The Arena
Lost Horizons
Rock My Nights Away
On And On
Lights Out
Attack Of The Mad Axeman

Encore:
Ride On My Way
Rock Bottom

2nd Encore:
Doctor Doctor

Are you kidding me?! What a setlist! I knew that the band was going to concentrate of the first couple of albums with Gary Barden but I had forgotten just how powerful these songs are…..they have more impact now that I have heard them live. It was great to finally hear classics like ‘Armed And Ready’, ‘On And On’ and ‘Attack Of The Mad Axeman’ in concert but I was also glad to hear the band play a few newer songs from IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY (2008) like ‘A Night To Remember’ and ‘I Want You’. I thought the newer songs fit right in with the classics and I heard more than a few fans singing right along word for word. It was good to hear the classic Schenker/Barden team on stage and Carmine Appice added a thunderous drum sound to the performance. You could tell that the band were having a good time playing both the old and the new and there was a real good energy coming from the stage. Unfortunately, there was a bit of trouble with the sound because there were times that Gary was completely lost in the mix, couldn’t hear him at all near the bar area, but things got a little better as the show moved on. Of course, the highlights were the classics and the crowd got louder for the UFO songs, especially as Gary Barden introduced “a song that is Michael’s legacy”…..’Lights Out’. I had secured a good spot for Sister Sin in the bar area near the soundboard, a perfect view, but I needed to get closer to see Michael. As the show progressed, I was able to make it up front to Michael’s side of the stage so I could see the man work his magic up close. Truly amazing! I was able to make it up to Michael’s side by ‘Lights Out’ and I was blown away. Same thing for ‘Rock Bottom’ during the first encore, watching Michael play that classic solo was one of the best live moments I’ve seen in 25 years of attending concerts. I honestly thought the night was over but the band returned for one last song, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and that brought the place down! A truly classic show from the arena, to the setlist, to the performance! Definitely worth the wait.

Here’s a video from the show that I found on Youtube of the set opener ‘Armed And Ready’:

Please visit the official Michael Schenker website for more tour dates and information.

OK, so what was a month of purchases has taken me extra time to post because I’m lazy! So here is Part 2 of this installment of CD Scavenger Hunt, the first part will be the post before this one! All of these CDs come from my local record store, Newbury Comics, except for the last CD that came from Best Buy.

Newbury Comics

Ozzy Osbourne – Scream (2010) - $9: This was a definite purchase because I have been an Ozzy fan since the first album and this was either going to be a solid record or a complete train wreck! After the TV show and the last 2 studio albums, I’ve had no faith in Ozzy but my loyalty keeps me coming back over and over. I was going to pick this up at Best Buy because it was featured for $8 but I decided that my loyalty lies with the independent store so I paid the extra buck at Newbury Comics, regular price at both stores was $15 so I saved $6. I installed SCREAM as my July 2010 Album Of The Month so click the link above to read the review.

Halford – Live In Anaheim (2010) – $12: I don’t miss a new Halford release and this double disc live set was on my list since the Metal God announced it months ago. This live album is a 2 disc set that is billed as an “original soundtrack”, that’s because the live DVD of this show is coming in August. I was a little disappointed that the DVD set wasn’t released at the same time but I will take the 19 song live show plus the 4 live bonus tracks from Japan. Regular price was $20 so I saved $8 buying it the day of release!

Sister Sin – True Sound Of The Underground (2010) – $10: I’ve been keeping an eye on Sister Sin since 2008 when they released their first record SWITCHBLADE SERENADE but I never got around to buying that album. When it first came out, I wasn’t sure because they were a new band that I hadn’t heard about. By the time I checked them out, I missed the sale price and couldn’t find the record in the stores! I’ve heard a few songs and read a lot of good reviews on the band so I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Regular price was $14, saved $4.

Primal Fear – Live In The USA/16.6 All Over The World (2010 Special Edition) – $0: As you all know, I’m a huge Power Metal fan and a huge Primal Fear fan so this new live CD & DVD set was a must have. I knew that this was going to be a high priced purchase because all the online stores listed this set between $25 – $40 plus shipping and the Newbury Comics website listed the $25 regular price. Of course there was always the option of buying each separately but what is the sense of that? It becomes MORE expensive! I got to the store and found a sale sticker for $20, I will save $5 any way I can, especially when it’s for a great package! Here’s the kicker, I had a $20 gift card from Father’s Day that my daughters gave me so this actually cost me nothing! Saved $20.

Vince Neil – Tattoos & Tequila (2010) – $10: When I heard Vince Neil was releasing a new solo album, I was all for it because I am a big fan of both EXPOSED (1993) & CARVED IN STONE (1995)…..I had no idea that this was mostly a covers album. I actually waited to buy this because I was on the fence about all the covers and there are 2 versions of the album: the 11 song U.S. release and the 12 song European that includes a cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers’. The price difference between the 2 versions was $5 and I wasn’t dropping the extra five bucks for another cover song so I settled for the U.S. pressing. Good thing I didn’t miss the sale price because I would have been pissed to pay the regular price of $15….saved $5.

Dokken – Greatest Hits (2010) – $13: Watch out if you go to pick up this latest greatest hits collection from Dokken because there’s more than meets the eye here. The first 10 songs are re-recorded classics featuring the current Dokken lineup of Don Dokken, Mick Brown, Jon Levin and Sean McNabb followed by two brand new songs – ‘Almost Over’ and ‘Magic Man’. There was no sticker on the front indicating the contents of the album and the Deadline/Cleopatra label has a habit of recycling a lot of previously released material. I wasn’t sure what I had in my hands so I called home and had my daughter look it up on the Net (I don’t have a smartphone!). Once I knew that these were different versions with 2 new songs, I snatched it up. I’ve been a Dokken fan since BREAKING THE CHAINS (1983) so I always support the band. Honestly, there’s not much difference between this album and Vince Neil’s because Dokken is essentially covering themselves but at least it’s their own material. Saved $3.

Sabaton – Coat Of Arms (2010) – $10: When I saw that Sabaton was releasing a new album, I checked my collection to see if I owned any of the band’s albums. It turns out that I own a couple of them so I gave them a quick listen and decided that I would pick up COAT OF ARMS the day it came out at the sale price. It’s Power Metal and I’m a fan of the genre so there had to be something worth checking out on this album. Regular price was $16 so I saved $6 and there were two bonus instrumentals included so it’s a 12 song disc instead of 10 songs. This was a reach for me, and I still haven’t listened to it, so I have my fingers crossed.

Rhapsody Of Fire – The Frozen Tears Of Angels (2010) – $10: Unlike Sabaton, I knew what I was buying when I picked up the new Rhapsody Of Fire. I have been a fan since the Power Metal resurgence in 1997 when the band was known simply as Rhapsody and they released LEGENDARY TALES. I have almost every Rhapsody album (I’m missing 2006′s TRIUMPH OR AGONY) so I figured I’d grab this at the sale price (saved $6) and I was pleasantly surprised to see the 2 bonus tracks from the European digipak release included on the U.S. pressing. By the way, I hate the new name! I know that there was some legal issues with another band named Rhapsody but the “Of Fire” part really doesn’t fit.

Witchery – Witchkrieg (2010) – $10: Here’s another album that I was on the fence about picking up even though I own a few Witchery albums. Maybe it was the switch in vocalists, maybe it was that it’s been four years since DON’T FEAR THE REAPER (2006) but I was going to pass on it. I got to the register with this set of purchases and I asked my Metal friend at the counter if he had heard it. We got to talking, he recommended it, he hasn’t steered me wrong before so I went back and grabbed a copy. Saved $6.

Y&T – Facemelter (2010) – $18: I had meaning to buy the new Y&T for a few weeks but the import prices with shipping were out of control and my local Newbury Comics hadn’t stocked it yet. I bought this on my last vacation 4th of July week at the Newbury Comics in Norwood, MA (the chain’s superstore). My wife, the kids and I got in the car for a drive and we happened to pass by the superstore (I planned it that way!) so we stopped on the way back. I had to pay full price at the store but that was still better than the online prices that were around $20 – $25 plus shipping. I’ve been looking forward to this album because I’ve been a Y&T fan since I heard ‘Don’t Stop Runnin’ on the radio back in 1984.

Anthrax – Fistful Of Metal (1984) – $10 used: Nothing pisses me off more than not being able to find a CD for years. I have had a cassette of this album for two decades and I have never been able to replace it! I’ve had the chance a few times but that was close to 10 years ago just before my favorite mom & pop record store closed it’s doors. I have had FISTFUL OF METAL on my short list of wanted CDs and neither Ebay or record stores have been able to turn up a copy. I once found a copy at a pawn shop for $5 but it had the biggest scratch on the CD so I passed, even that CD was found 5 years ago! This is the original Megaforce CD pressing in perfect condition so I didn’t mind spending a couple extra bucks for a used CD. I estimate that this would be a regular price of $15 so I assume I saved $5. I bought this with the new Y&T in Norwood, MA.

Best Buy

Bret Michaels – Custom Built (2010) – $8: I have no idea why I bought this because, even though I like Poison, Bret’s solo career has been a waste of money. Bret’s last album, ROCK MY WORLD (2008), was one of my Worst Albums of 2008 and I vowed not to get sucked in again by an album advertised as a new album but it’s really recycled material from previous records. Maybe it was the Best Buy exclusive sale price? Maybe it was like with the new Ozzy record? I was curious to hear if there is anything good or if it’s a train wreck. Things aren’t looking good when Miley Cyrus (yes, Hannah Montana!) is featured on the thrid track on the record. I’ll review this eventually but I’m not in any hurry…..at least I saved $7 because this was going to be $15 regular price after the initial promotion.

Total = $120

Total (year) = $933

Average price (per item) = $10.03

Total CDs (year) = 85

Total DVDs (year) = 2

Total Box Sets (year) = 5

Total LPs (year) = 1

It’s been a long month but I am on the verge of vacation so I’m hoping to post a little more but I have been listening to music…..and buying! A lot of cool new releases came out and I found a lot of cool bargains over the last month so this is going to be a long update that’s going to be posted in two parts…..

Ebay
(free shipping this time around)

Airbourne – No Guts, No Glory (Special Edition) (2010) – $9: When Airbourne came out in 2007, I became a big fan. Yeah, I know they sound like AC/DC, or Rose Tattoo, or The Angels/Angel City or…..well, you get the idea. I liked the music, your basic barroom boogie Rock ‘n’ Roll with a ton of energy. I ended up getting an email straight from Roadrunner Records offering a fan-pack that included a limited edition double disc set that included a live DVD in addition to the regular album, the album also included 5 new songs as bonus tracks and a limited edition t-shirt…..all for $40! I don’t like Airbourne that much! Could care less about the shirt or the DVD but the bonus tracks were the key. The regular U.S. pressing was $9.99 without the extra songs the first week of release but I passed. I found this seller on Ebay and I picked up this CD at a great price along with the next couple…..

Danger Angel – s/t (2010) – $7: I don’t know much about Danger Angel except that they are on Perris Records, so that means the music must be in the Hard Rock style, and Jeff Scott Soto added lead vocals to one of the songs. I actually received a digital promo of the album months ago and I have never listened to it…..not sure why because even the cover looks cool like an old school ’80s record. The band is from Greece, they’ve supported Winger and Jeff Scott Soto on tour and they’re a new band. Hopefully this is a promising debut…..

Sinbreed – When Worlds Collide (2010) – $4: Here’s another great deal that I got from the same seller on an album that I received a digital promo of but never really listened to. I’m a big Power Metal fan and Sinbreed is a pure Power Metal group from Germany so I’m hoping that it’s a solid record. The band has a U.S. distribution deal with Nightmare Records and I received a digital promo but with all the new releases out now, I pushed it aside. I’ve read a lot of good reviews on this record so I’m looking forward to it.

Online

Judas Priest – British Steel (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2010) – $30: Back in mid-May, I went to the record store to pick up this album and, of course, I bought the 2 disc version not the 3 disc pressing…..I wrote about it in the “Buyer Be Aware” edition of CD Scavenger Hunt. I wanted the 3 disc set with the remastered album, the live DVD and the live CD of the live DVD. The version I ended up snagging for $14 on sale was just the remastered record and the live DVD and I returned it the next day for a refund. Turns out the 3 CD Deluxe set was released in Europe at the same time as the 2 disc set but the the U.S. release for the 3 disc was slated for early June. I ordered directly through JudasPriest.com so I wouldn’t have a hassle, it was $30 but I received the album within 48 hours from Sony Direct in a perfect package. Sometimes buying straight from the band is the way to go.

Best Buy

Lamb Of God – Hourglass (3 CD box set) (2010) – $7: Best price on this 3 disc set was at Best Buy, they had it advertised for $16.99 in their new ad for the Tuesday release so I definitely made the trip. The reason I got the set for $7 instead of $17 was because I had a $10 off coupon from the Best Buy Rewards program that I was going to use to reserve my copy of Madden 2011. I went for the instant $10 savings on the box set and, even though I’m new to Lamb Of God, it’s some very brutal music that I’m really getting into. I’ve actually seen Lamb Of God live but I never really got into their albums but I’ve made it a point lately to listen to more extreme Metal and the band fit the bill. Saved $10.

Newbury Comics

Visions Of Atlantis – Cast Away (2004) – $6 used: For the last couple of months I have been watching a few used CDs that have regular priced counterparts right with them. I’ve been meaning to buy them all up because they are solid bargains but I always find something else to pick up. This Visions Of Atlantis CD has been on my radar for at least two months, maybe longer. It’s regular priced comrade is $16 so I figured maybe someone would snag this album if they saw the $10 savings. These two discs were filed in the “V” section in the regular stock CDs so I took the used CD and placed it in the Heavy Metal section under the “V” there. Not every Newbury Comics has a specific Metal section but there are some Metal dudes that work there and they are cool enough to make a dedicated place for Metal, this is one of the reasons why I keep going to the same store! I figured that since Visions Of Atlantis were a Symphonic Metal band then they should have a presence in the Metal section…..and keeping the two differently priced CDs seperate so i could wait and decide when to buy the used one. Saved $10.

Bang Camaro – II (2008) – $4: Here’s another bargain CD that I’ve been watching for a while! Bang Camaro is a Boston band so I naturally have an interest because I live in Rhode Island about an hour away. Bang Camaro got a lot of press when they debuted in 2007 because they feature 8 to 12 singers on each album and sometimes on each song! The band lineup is a revolving door but the spirit of the project remains strong. I had the opportunity to buy the debut at a cheap price but I passed and now I can’t find it locally. Bang Camaro came to my attention when I heard their song ‘Revolution’ while playing Madden 2010 on my Playstation 3…..it’s a good tune so I figured I would finally give them a chance. There were three brand new copies of this CD: one for $8, another for $6 and the copy I bought for $4. Saved $4.

Stephen Pearcy – Social Intercourse (2002) – $5 used: I never really got around to buying any of Stephen Pearcy’s solo work until just over a month ago. I have all the records from Arcade and Vertex, and I’m a huge Ratt fan, so I finally decided to pick this stuff up. I didn’t expect to find anything new under Ratt but old habits are diehard and I checked their section…..there’s this CD! It’s been a while but I’ve seen this album go for around $15 in the record stores at regular price, while the online prices change rapidly, so I estimate I saved $10.

Nevermore – The Obsidian Conspiracy (2010) – $12: I bought this album the day of release on sale for $12 because i thought the cover was really cool. I have been into Nevermore since 1999′s DREAMING NEON BLACK and that was only because I found out through the power of the Internet that the members of Nevermore were also members of Sanctuary…..I had a cassette copy of REFUGE DENIED when it came out in 1987! I’ve missed out on the last couple Nevermore albums since 2000′s DEAD HEART IN A DEAD WORLD so I figured that this new album would be a good way to reconnect. Regular price was $17 so I saved $5.

Kingdom Of Sorrow – s/t (2008) – $10: I work with a guy that is huge into Kingdom Of Sorrow and he constantly asks me if I have heard any of the music or if I have picked up a CD. Up until a couple of weeks ago I really didn’t pay attention to the recommendation but then the band’s new album came out and I decided to buy that one on sale (I’ll get to that next!). When I was going to grab the new CD, I noticed that the debut had a $9.99 sale sticker too. Maybe it was a mistake? The other two copies of the debut didn’t have sale stickers so I snagged this one quick. I like to start at the beginning if I can with new bands so this was a good purchase. Saved $5.

Kingdom Of Sorrow – Behind The Blackest Tears (2010) – $10: Like I mentioned above, when this album was released there was a great sale price. Add the sale price to the constant recommendation from a co-worker with my going to Ozzfest this summer and you have the recipe for a CD purchase. Truthfully, I’ve been meaning to check out KOS because I’ve read good things but my co-worker’s insistence made me not purchase the debut until this new record came out. Now I won’t be staring into space when I see the band on Ozzfest…..saved $5.

Savage Grace – The Dominatress/Master Of Disguise reissue (2010) & After The Fall From Grace/Ride Into the Night reissue (2010) - $24 ($12 each): Now this was a complete surprise! Every week I get the Newbury Comics e-newsletter telling me what the new releases are and how much they are going to be but somehow I missed the reissues for the Savage Grace albums. Before I went out to the store, I jumped online quick and I found a quick announcement regarding the reissues. I double checked my newsletters (I save them for a while) and there they were on sale for $12

each! When I got to the store they had 2 copies of each reissue so I was able to get both and let someone else enjoy some classic Heavy Metal. Each reissue is a single disc housed in a nice slipcase with 4 bonus tracks and 3 bonus tracks respectively. There are full color booklets with extensive liner notes and pictures along with the preserved and uncensored  original album artwork. You can tell that Limb Music took special time and care to get these reissues just right. Most of these albums are available on Ebay in cassette or LP form but the CDs are usually bootlegs. I believe AFTER THE FALL FROM GRACE has an official CD release but THE DOMINATRESS and MASTER OF DISGUISE are usually a 2-on-1 CD from Greece that is a definite bootleg. It’s nice to have an official re-release finally…..and a superb job as well. Regular price was $16 each so I saved $8 ($4 each).

Total = $128

Total (year) = $813

Average price (per item) = $10.04

Total CDs (year) = 74

Total DVDs (year) = 2

Total Box Sets (year) = 4

Total LPs (year) = 1

Ozzy Osbourne – Scream (2010, Sony/Epic Records)

  1. Let It Die
  2. Let Me Hear You Scream
  3. Soul Sucker
  4. Life Won’t Wait
  5. Diggin’ Me Down
  6. Crucify
  7. Fearless
  8. Time
  9. I Want More
  10. Latimer’s Mercy
  11. I Love You All

Band Lineup:
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals
Gus G. – Guitars
Blasko – Bass
Tommy Clufetos – Drums
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards

Produced by: Ozzy Osbourne & Kevin Churko

Total Time = 49:08

Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne MySpace page
Ozzfest

I’m going to be extremely honest here…..I wasn’t really excited about a new Ozzy album. His last two studio albums, DOWN TO EARTH (2001) and BLACK RAIN (2007), left a lot to be desired with their modern Metal/Black Label Society sound and I didn’t like them at all. Then you have the controversy of Ozzy & Sharon Osbourne letting Zakk Wylde go, ending a 22-year musical partnership, and bringing in new guitarist Gus G. (Firewind, Dream Evil, Nightrage). Nothing against Gus G. because he’s a solid guitar player, and I’m a fan of his, but the Ozzy/Zakk Wylde era is just as revered as the Ozzy/Randy Rhoads era. Even if the last few Ozzy records were more like Black Label Society records, it’s Zakk Wylde! Then there’s the constant blitz that is the Ozzy Osbourne brand whether it’s on television, public appearances, promotional gimmicks or product branding…..it’s total overkill! Sharon Osbourne has taken a page right out of the Gene Simmons playbook and has made Ozzy a household brand name just like KISS! I wasn’t impressed with Ozzy showing up at a Dodger game to lead the crowd to the longest & loudest scream record…..it was about promoting SCREAM and wouldn’t have been done otherwise even though it did happen during the Dodgers’ third annual “ThinkCure! Weekend” for cancer. Needless to say, the “Prince of Darkness” is not the same ominous, crazy Metal musician I remember him being when I was growing up in the ’80s and my desire to hear new music from him is at an all-time low. I picked up SCREAM because I had hope…..

Opening song ‘Let It Die’ sounds like a holdover from the BLACK RAIN sessions with it’s very thick modern sound and processed vocals. One of my biggest complaints about the last couple of Ozzy records were the effects put on his voice and here they are again! Just let the man sing…..if he can. This song is a slow dirge that picks up around the chorus with guitar lines that sound like Zakk Wylde’s. Gus G. wasn’t around in time to add to the songwriting on the album so he’s basically playing what he’s told to on all the songs, the only time I hear him stretch out is on the solos. The solo section on ‘Let It Die’ is a pace-changing instrumental and it helps the song not be a total loss for me. ‘Let Me Hear You Scream’ is the lead single and video from the album and it’s a song that sounds most like old school Ozzy. This is going to be a monster track in concert with its pounding rhythm and it’s obvious “crowd participation” style. Seeing that both Blasko and Clufetos were in Rob Zombie’s band, you can hear the Industrial beats driving the song along a very Wylde main riff. The song takes off for me with the catchy lyrics and the solos/runs Gus G. puts on top of that main riff, definitely one of the better songs on the record.

The original title for the album was going to be “Soul Sucka”, the Ozzy camp even announced the new title on Ozzy’s website, but fan outrage over the Hip-Hop styled title made them change it quickly to SCREAM. The song ‘Soul Sucker’ is another sludge-fest that gives off more of an Industrial/Nu-Metal sound with effects again on Ozzy’s vocals. The song actually sounds like a cross between Black Sabbath and Black Label especially at the solo/instrumental break, the best part of the song that actually saves it. If they had just followed that instead of the processed and repetitive “soul sucker” lyrical dirge. Moving into more familiar territory, Ozzy and company create the best sounding ballad he’s done in years with ‘Life Won’t Wait’. It has a clean sound, Ozzy sounds in good voice and the guitar is really good. It has a retro sound to it and could easily fit on NO MORE TEARS (1991) or OZZMOSIS (1995) and it sounds unlike the rest of the album so far because it’s not as distorted and down-tuned. You’d be hard pressed to distinguish Gus G. from Zakk Wylde because he plays exactly like him, hopefully Gus can stretch out a little on tour. The acoustic opening to ‘Diggin’ Me Down’ caught my attention immeadiately and I had a Randy Rhoads flashback, that is definitely something I could hear coming off the first two Ozzy records. After the intro, the song kicks into a heavy Sabbath groove with a touch of older Metallica in there too. The main riffs sound too much like Zakk Wylde but there is a huge drum sound and Ozzy’s voice really cuts through with the lyrics challenging Jesus. I like the song because it’s very heavy and sounds more akin to the Ozzy records from 1988-1995, again fitting on any of the first three albums with Zakk Wylde.

‘Crucify’ is an obvious title for an Ozzy tune and the similarities to ‘Diggin’ Me Down’ are also obvious, I would almost call this a continuation of ‘Diggin Me Down’. ‘Crucify’ isn’t as heavy as ‘Diggin’ Me Down’ and there are some cleaner guitar parts that you can idenitfy as not too Wylde so the song isn’t a total loss. ‘Fearless’ returns to a heavier uptempo sound with a thick sounding rhythm section and some good guitar fills but the chorus leaves a lot to be desired and I get this “I’ve heard this before feeling”. It definitely sounds like an unfinished idea and screams filler. Ballad #2 is ‘Time’, a song very similar to ‘Life Won’t Wait’ in that it has the best old school Ozzy sound and that the “Prince of Darkness” really has a good touch when it comes to the softer side of Metal. Gus G. gets a good solo section in the song and there is a Beatles influence that makes this very melodic (Ozzy is a huge Beatles fan) so I would definitely consider this another of my favorites. ‘I Want It More’ goes for the slower Metal groove of Black Label but the chorus is melodic enough to save the song from being a complete dirge copy. The main riff is heavy as hell and the solo section is great with the keyboards really fleshing out the sound and adding a distinct layer but the chorus really sets the song apart from the music and gives it an originality. ‘Latimer’s Mercy’ is an ominous song that sounds a little like ‘Soul Sucker’ in some parts and like late ’90searly 2000s Alice Cooper in others. The song doesn’t work for me even with it’s buzzsaw main riff and thick backline, there’s something missing. Same thing goes for the last song ‘I Love You All’, there’s something missing…..like most of the song! ‘I Love You All’ is basically one minute long and consists of ballad style music and Ozzy singing to the fans that he thanks us for standing by him through the years and that he loves us all. Definite throwaway track and a waste of time, if you’re going to have eleven songs on an album at least make them eleven FULL songs!

Bottom Line:
SCREAM is a tough album for me because I am battling my loyalties to the Ozzy Osbourne I grew up with from 1980-1995 against the new millenium Ozzy that is trying to keep up with the bands playing with him on Ozzfest. On one hand, I really want to like the album because it’s Ozzy. On the other, I’m waiting to be disappointed because that’s exactly what Ozzy has done with his last two studio albums. I have given this new album a lot of playing time since it came out a couple of weeks ago and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s definitely better than both DOWN TO EARTH and BLACK RAIN. If we throw out ‘I Love You All’ and go with the ten full songs, I would say that I really like six of them and two of those are the ballads. SCREAM is a heavy album with enough modern Metal, Black Sabbath styled riffs and the trademark  Ozzy sound to satisfy a lot of fans, I think Ozzy has finally found that elusive mix of being current while trying to retain his classic sound. SCREAM isn’t going to rank up there with BLIZZARD OF OZZ (1980) or DIARY OF A MADMAN (1981) but it has enough of the classic Ozzy to make me forget about the last two studio albums. This isn’t the best Ozzy record but I can hear this growing on me the more I listen to it. What I am looking forward to is the live performance at Ozzfest with Gus G. on stage, I’d like to hear if he gets to stretch out of the Zakk Wylde mold he was forced to fill on the record and, hopefully, the next album will feature more of Gus’ original Euro-Metal playing. SCREAM isn’t a full comeback but it’s a start.

Favorite Songs:
‘Let Me Hear You Scream’, ‘Life Won’t Wait’, ‘Diggin’ Me Down’, ‘Time’, ‘I Want It More’

Judas Priest – British Steel (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition – 3 Disc set) (2010)

Disc 1 – British Steel (remastered) -

  1. Rapid Fire
  2. Metal Gods
  3. Breaking The Law
  4. Grinder
  5. United
  6. You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise
  7. Living After Midnight
  8. The Rage
  9. Steeler
  10. Red, White & Blue (studio bonus track)
  11. Grinder (live bonus track)

Disc 2 –  The British Steel 2009 Tour (Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Arena, Hollywood, Florida, August 17, 2009) CD

  1. Rapid Fire
  2. Metal Gods
  3. Breaking The Law
  4. Grinder
  5. United
  6. You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise
  7. Living After Midnight
  8. The Rage
  9. Steeler
  10. The Ripper
  11. Hell Patrol
  12. Victim Of Changes
  13. Freewheel Burning
  14. Diamonds And Rust
  15. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming

Disc 3 –  The British Steel 2009 Tour (Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Arena, Hollywood, Florida, August 17, 2009) DVD

  1. Rapid Fire
  2. Metal Gods
  3. Breaking The Law
  4. Grinder
  5. United
  6. You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise
  7. Living After Midnight
  8. The Rage
  9. Steeler
  10. The Ripper
  11. Prophecy
  12. Hell Patrol
  13. Victim Of Changes
  14. Freewheel Burning
  15. Diamonds And Rust
  16. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming

DVD Extra – The Making of British Steel Interview

Total Time (Disc 1) = 44:43
Total Time (Disc 2) = 1:15:48
Region 0, NTSC, Running Time (Disc 3 concert) = 1:28:21

What can you say about Judas Priest’s BRITISH STEEL that hasn’t already been said? It is truly a landmark Heavy Metal album that bridged the classic heavy Rock of the 1970s and moved it into the slick and powerful 1980s with it’s pure metallic sound and commercial accessibility to FM airwaves. Look at all the classic songs that still get played on Classic Rock and current Rock radio: ‘Metal Gods’, ‘Breaking The Law’, ‘Living After Midnight’, ‘United’. I’m lucky here in Rhode Island because the local Rock station (94 WHJY) has one of the longest running Heavy Metal programs on Saturday nights called  “The Metal Zone” and I’ve heard plenty of deeper tracks from BRITISH STEEL played over the years like ‘Steeler’ and ‘Grinder’. I grew up with this album, I think I got it in 1983 officially but I had a dubbed cassette, and it’s been one of my favorite albums by Judas Priest and of the ’80s.

Now BRITISH STEEL is 30 years old…..that’s hard to believe! That’s most of my life (I’m 38)! In order to celebrate such a milestone, Judas Priest toured last summer and played the entire album in order, then added a handful of Priest classics and rarities. I caught the show in Mansfield, MA on July 7th and it was a magnificent show, now it’s great to have a commorative document to enjoy it again.

Disc 1 – British Steel (remastered)
There really isn’t much new to say about the remastered album because it’s exactly the same remastered version that the band and label released back in 2001. The two bonus tracks are also the same: ‘Red, White & Blue’ is a studio track from the TURBO sessions in 1985 and the live version of ‘Grinder’ comes from the Long Beach Arena (Long Beach, California) on the 1984 DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH tour. If you already have a copy of the proper album then you might not really notice the remastering, I didn’t in 2001, and the bonus tracks seem out of place. I have always wondered why we got bonus tracks from 1984/85 instead of rarities from 1980. I’m a little disappointed that the label used the 2001 remaster, I was hoping for something more.

Disc 2 – Live in Hollywood, Florida – 7/17/09 CD
Here’s where the entire 30th Anniversary package gets interesting because the whole point of celebrating 30 years of BRITISH STEEL was the band’s tour. This live CD is the exact companion to the Disc 3 DVD except for the omission of ‘Prophecy’ from the NOSTRADAMUS (2008) album. I’m going to assume that the song was left off for time constraints on the CD format and, seeing that NOSTRADAMUS wasn’t the commercial and critical success the band hoped it would be, ‘Prophecy’ seems like the logical choice to cut. It’s a long song too and that is one of the reasons behind the 13 minute time difference between the CD and DVD. It’s all about getting bang for your buck and the audio CD of the show is a true bonus, the official U.S. release was a 2 disc set that included the remastered album and the DVD. The live album sounds good and it’s a solid performance by the band so I’m glad I held out and picked up the Deluxe Edition. I don’t hve 90 mins to sit around the TV and watch the DVD all the time so putting the live album in the iPod and enjoying a classic Priest tour is a major plus for me.

Disc 3 – Live in Hollywood, Florida – 7/17/09 DVD
Exactly the same as the CD version except that ‘Prophecy’ is included. I probably should have reviewed the DVD first but it’s technically listed as Disc 3 in the package so that’s how it will be for the review. Judas Priest toured on the basis of the 30th anniversary of British Steel in the Summer of 2009 and it was basically a basic show of the band just playing. Aside from the backdrop banners, the lights and lasers and the trademark Harley Davidson, there were no real production gimmicks. Basically the band came, on and played BRITISH STEEL note for note, took a quick break and came out with the second part of the set. The DVD is basically the same show I saw in Mansfield and it’s a cool piece of nostalgia for me because I had such a great time at the show. A few things of note from watching the DVD and remembering from the Mansfield show I saw: Halford was a little more animated on stage than he was on the previous two tours, he still has an awesome voice, Glenn & KK are a superb guitar duo, Ian needs to move around a little and Scott Travis is a monster drummer and it’s crazy to think he’s been in Priest 20 years now! All the guys looked like they were having a blast and they really poured everything into the performance. In addition to the concert there is a bonus section that is an interview about the making of BRITISH STEEL. It’s good to watch once but if you have the CLASSIC ALBUMS DVD for BRIISH STEEL then you don’t really need the interview.

Packaging
Diehards may not be happy with the 2010 version of the BRITISH STEEL album cover with the blood added and the hand missing but it doesn’t really bother me. The digipak folds out revealing the discs, the factory pictures on the left & right panels were used as backdrops during the BRITISH STEEL part of the concert and the booklet is housed inside the right panel. The booklet has the original album cover, plenty of pictures from the concert, liner notes from the show & tour and a 2 page essay from British writer Dave Shack.

Bottom Line:
Judas Priest is my second favorite band (KISS is first!) so buying this was a complete no-brainer. Add the fact that I saw the show in Mansifield, MA ten days prior to the recording and this turns out to be a cool tour souvenir for me. Diehards, collectors and completists are going to pick this package up but the casual fan might not because of the $30 price tag. The 2 disc version was retailing between $15-20 for the album and live DVD but I wanted that extra audio CD of the live show and the deluxe packaging. I like sets like this, for me it’s worth the money. If you don’t have BRITISH STEEL yet and you’ve never caught the band on tour then this is a cool package to have. My only minor complaints lies with the remastered album and the bonus section of the DVD. I understand the point of not remastering the proper album again but why not include some new bonus material? Also, if there is already a DVD out there on the making of BRITISH STEEL, why include a new interview on the same subject? Diehard fans like myself appreciate the effort but would rather have had more footage from the tour, backstage footage, etc.

Masterplan – Time To Be King (2010, AFM Records)

  1. Fiddle Of Time
  2. Blow Your Winds
  3. Far From The End Of The World
  4. Time To Be King
  5. Lonely Winds Of War
  6. The Dark Road
  7. The Sun Is In Your Hands
  8. The Black One
  9. Blue Europa
  10. Under the Moon
  11. Kisses From You (bonus track)

Band Lineup:
Jorn Lande – Vocals
Roland Grapow – Guitars
Axel Mackenrott – Keyboards
Jan S. Eckert – Bass
Mike Terrana – Drums

Producer: Roland Grapow

Country: Germany

Total Time = 47:49

Masterplan
Masterplan MySpace page
AFM Records

Masterplan is back again with their fourth album, TIME TO BE KING, but that isn’t the big news…..original lead singer Jorn Lande has returned to the microphone once again! I’ve been a Masterplan fan right from the self-titled debut in 2003 through to MK II (2007) that featured ex-Riot lead singer Mike DiMeo on lead vocals…..I have also been a fan of Jorn’s since the first Ark album in 1999 so I have no idea how I missed this announcement. The change from Jorn to DiMeo in 2007 took my by surprise but the album was really good, very powerful Power Metal. DiMeo was Riot’s singer for close to 15 years and through 6 studio albums so he had the voice but I identified Masterplan with Jorn Lande.

Masterplan is always going to be thought of as a Power Metal group because of the long list of bands that the members have been involved with. Founding guitarist Roland Grapow is formerly from Helloween, drummer Mike Terrana from Rage, Yngwie and Axel Rudi Pell, then you’ve got Jorn’s long history. Add Jan Eckert’s time in Running Wild & Iron Savior and Axel Mackenrott’s involvement in Gamma Ray and you can see what direction the band is going to go in. The Power Metal tag is going to scare some fans away because of the backlash against the genre, something I have never undertsood. I’m a big Power Metal fan, I find it as close to the traditional ’80s Metal that I grew up with as you can get. The good thing about Masterplan is that, although they are considered Power Metal, the band incorporates a lot of Progressive elements into the music to give it a more epic sound. You can also hear a more traditional Hard Rock style creeping in to many songs…..maybe that’s part and parcel of Jorn’s versatile vocal ability channelling the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillan and David Coverdale. Sometimes a classic voice like Jorn’s influences the songwriting more than is expected. MK II with DiMeo was more Power Metal while TIME TO BE KING with Jorn is diverse blend of styles.

Opening track ‘Fiddle Of Time’ starts out with a very prominent swirling keyboard but moves into more guitar oriented territory until that keyboard riff returns again after the chorus. It’s a heavy song, definitely a good way to start the album, and it has a very classic sound like Uriah Heep or Deep Purple but more Progressive Metal like a Royal Hunt. ‘Blow Your Winds’ follows a catchy ’80s Hard Rock path like a Joe Lynn Turner fronted Rainbow and ‘Far From The End Of The World’ is pure Power Metal with heavy keyboard arrangements. I can’t help but be reminded of Royal Hunt again by the keyboards and guitars playing off each other making ‘Far From The Edge Of The World’ sound so lush and epic. The title track has the same elements also and that kind of makes things a bit repetitive, the band using the same formula on the first and third songs already, but it’s still a solid performance. The band mixes things up a little with the quiet keyboard/acoustic guitar/marching drum intro on ‘Lonely Winds Of War’, a song that I would categorize as an epic ballad. There’s a lot of power in the song but it’s not fast by any means, Roland Grapow’s guitar solos are very melodic and Jorn’s vocal is my favorite on the record, a blend of power and emotion.

‘The Dark Road’ opens similarly to ‘Time To Be King’ and ‘Fiddle Of Time’ with the big guitar/keyboard riffs but it moves into unexpected territory of a second epic ballad in a row. Jorn does his best David Coverdale and the slower parts of the song remind me of ’70s Dio-era Rainbow mixed with the bluesier side of Whitesnake or Coverdale-era Deep Purple. Such a huge sound here, very layered and grand…..best song on the album! The music gets heavier on ‘The Sun Is In Your Hands’ but you can hear a little of that Hard Rock style mixed in with the Power Metal. Listen to the guitar solo but pay attention to the drums…..Mike Terrana is a beast on this entire album and his double kick style is as subtle as it is powerful. I like ‘The Black One’ just for it’s thick bassline that starts it off and comes back to start each verse. There’s a thick sound here, plenty of layers between the guitars, bass, keys and drums but Jorn pulls it all together with a gritty vocal. Add another solid guitar solo by Grapow, and the big drum fills by Terrana, and it’s another favorite of mine. ‘Blue Europa’ is another harder track that grabs me with it’s World War II inspired lyrics and heavy guitar while ‘Under The Moon’ is a more progressive and epic song that slows everything down but gets more powerful as the song continues. There’s an ambient tone to the song during the quieter parts when it’s really just the keyboard and the vocal, definitely subdued. I like ‘Under The Moon’ because it’s more straight-forward with not a lot of swirling keyboards and intricate guitars, it reminds me a little of the symphonic Pink Floyd-ian style The Gathering used on HOW TO MEASURE A PLANET? (1999) but with Jorn’s rich voice.

The version I picked up was the European limited edition, gold-embossed digipak with the bonus track ‘Kisses From You’. On first listen, you would swear that ‘Kisses From You’ was a Queen cover song that was done extremely well. Everything from the guitar tone, to the piano, to the complete arrangement is pure Queen. I sat in front of my Queen collection looking for the song on one of the album, maybe as a B-side or a bonus track but it wasn’t there! Turns out ‘Kisses From You’ is an original and it’s dead on Queen inspired…..definitely a favorite!

Bottom Line:
Masterplan has continued where they left off in 2005 with AERONAUTICS now that Jorn Lande has returned to the vocal slot, TIME TO BE KING is a solid album and a great comeback. I don’t get all this backlash toward Power Metal…..is it the imagery? The higher vocals? The clean musicianship? Not everything has to be harsh or extreme to be vital and comtemporary. Masterplan is a band of five solid musicians that are at the top of their game delivering a grand performance that us truly one of the best of the year. Some of the songs follow the same formula but that can be said of any song on any album in any genre. There isn’t a weak song on TIME TO BE KING and the Progressive elements outweigh and enhance the pure Power Metal formula. If you’re a fan of Power Metal then this is going to be a top album of 2010 but if Power Metal isn’t your thing then you might not like it. So far, this is one of the best albums of the year for me.

Favorite Songs:
Not a weak song on the album and I like them all but if I had to pick five highlights they would be: ”Fiddle Of Time’, ‘Lonely Winds Of War’, ‘The Dark Road’, ‘The Sun Is In Your Hands’, & ‘Under the Moon’