CD Scavenger Hunt (November update)

In an attempt to not only keep track of my purchases, and to also keep this post from being two months late, I am actually going to add to this post throughout the month! A genius of an idea…..not sure why I hadn’t thought of it before. The added bonus is that I can clear up some desk space. I should really take an updated picture of my desk because I have a pile of purchases, a pile of promos, the pile of press releases and then my own notes…..and that’s just on the left side! Then there’s the pile of CDs that I want to upload into iTunes on the right…..don’t get me started on that. So here’s November’s buying update……

Ebay

Johnny Crash – Neighborhood Threat (1990) – $18 used: I have been on the search for this CD for about 8 years…..for a decent price. I used to go to this record store from around 1997 to 2002 when it finally closed and I used to get a ton of great used CDs every weekend. This was back in the day when the Internet, Ebay, Napster, and trading in used CDs for cash were all really a new thing (at least here in Rhode Island!). Anyway, I used to scrounge the used racks and I could come away with about 20 used CDs for $100 and they were all Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. You don’t know how many times I debated buying this CD and how many times I put off grabbing it because I found something else “more important”. Once that specific store closed it’s doors, I never saw another Johnny Crash CD. You can get one online through various outlets but Ebay has always seemed the easiest but I never bothered to pick one up because I thought that $20+ for it was too much, especially when I had seen it for $5 used in person. As the years have gone by, the amount of copies on Ebay have dwindled and the price has gone up. I have had this album on my Saved Searches for at least a couple of years and, one day last week, a notification came via email of a new listing with a BUY IT NOW price of $15 + $3 shipping. I jumped on it immeadiately!

Newbury Comics

The Big Four (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax) – Live From Sofia, Bulgaria (2010) box set – $55: Nothing would be better than to see the Big 4 of Thrash on tour in the U.S. but, for now, this live set from the 2010 European Tour will have to be enough. I grew up listening to all four bands so this was a no-brainer purchase for me, the only thing that bothered me was the price because $55 is expensive. I could have settled for the 2 DVD set for $20 but I wanted the audio as well so the 4 CD/2 DVD box set was the only option. Also included in the box set besides the CDs, DVDs and the box is a set of four photo cards (one for each band), a full color booklet and a guitar pick. The price really had me debating the purchase because I can get three or four different new releases for that amount but I reasoned that I was get more bang for the buck with one set. Plus, the regular price was $75 and waiting to use gift cards I will eventually get for the holidays would technically make it free…..but also $20 more expensive. I ended up saving $20.

Kiske/Somerville – s/t (2010) – $18: I have been wanting to pick this album up since it was announced first, because of Michael Kiske’s involvement (I’m a Helloween fan from way back in the ’80s) and second because Amanda Somerville jumped on my radar with her beautiful voice. I thought the concept was interesting in pairing the two singers and then I read a ton of positive reviews…..every once in a while I get an album stuck in my head that I just need to have, this was THAT album. The album came out a few weeks ago and I had been eyeballing it through the usual online stores but the price always floated up around $20 with shipping…..then the CD got a proper U.S. release and was on sale the first week. Unfortunatelt, the record store only stocked one copy the day it came out and someone managed to get to the store before me that Tuesday! This turned out to be one of the more pricey CDs I bought recently because I missed out on the initial sale price but I ended up with a comparable price compared to online and I didn’t have to wait for the mail.

Dio – Dio At Donnington, UK: Live 1983 & 1987 (2010) – $12: It’s been a rough time for me being a big fan of Ronnie James Dio and all the bands he fronted over the years, his death earlier this year affected me greatly because he was a big musical presence in my Metal journey of the last three decades. Besides groing up with the Dio band, I became a HUGE fan of his era in Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell and he led my favorite Rainbow lineup. One of the things I did after news of his passing was to listen to Ronnie’s collective work even more so there was a comfort in the music. This was a must have live set for me, not just because Ronnie is gone, but because I wanted to get my hands on an official release of both these legendary Dio shows at the Monsters Of Rock at Donnington. I hope that Ronnie’s wife Wendy continues to release classic archival material of Ronnie because his music is so great. Regular price was $18 for the 2 CD set so I saved $6 grabbing it on release day.

Helloween – 7 Sinners (2010) – $10: Like I mentioned up above, I started as a Helloween fan back in the ’80s with both KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS albums but somewhere in the early to mid-’90s I lost touch with the band. Some of the best Helloween albums have been released since 1998 when I rediscovered a lot of my old favorite bands when I got my Internet connection: 1998’s BETTER THAN RAW, 2000’s THE DARK RIDE and 2007’s GAMBLING WITH THE DEVIL. It just seems like Helloween just keeps pumping out record after record every couple of years, 7 SINNERS is their sixth studio album since 1998. I received a digital promotional copy of the album a couple of weeks prior to the release but there was a problem downloading the album so I never got to hear it! I would have spent the money on the proper CD for my personal collection anyway (this happens a lot!) and getting the CD on the day of release for $9.99 helped out a lot. Regular price was $16 so I saved $6.

GWAR – Bloody Pit Of Horror (2010) – $10: Didn’t GWAR just release an album last year? They did, LUST IN SPACE (2009). Nice to see the band trying to take over the world again as quickly as possible with two new albums and two world tours in two years. GWAR are the originators and bands like Mushroomhead, Lordi and Slipknot are capitalizing on an image that GWAR started all the way back in 1988! This was on my list of new releases to buy but it came out the same day as the new Dio and Helloween albums, then I found the Kiske/Somerville album, and I decided that I was going to spend too much money. Money is never an issue for me as long as the bills are paid and the family is fed but it’s getting close to the holidays and I didn’t want to overdue it…..I bought it anyway! The way I looked at it was that I would come back in a couple of weeks and have to pay the full price ($15) so I would be saving $5 by picking it up now. Plus, spending $10 now or in two weeks still means you’ve spent $10!

W.A.S.P. – s/t (1984) – $10 used: ever since Newbury Comics opened a store about 3 miles from my house, i never go to the Warwick, RI store anymore. True Rhode Islanders hate going anywhere if it takes longer than 15-20 minutes and the ride to Warwick, with traffic, can be 25 minutes. Needless to say, unless there’s other things that need to be done in the area, I don’t go down that way. After pulling a double shift at work, I came home to find that my wife was heading to Warwick to check out some holiday dishes for Thanksgiving…..the bribe for me to join her and the kids was Dunkin Donuts and a stop at the Warwick Newbury. This was a good trip because I found a lot of used bargains and this W.A.S.P. debut started it off. A little backstory here….. Back in 2003 when my wife was pregnant with our second daughter, she was out of work and we were cutting as many corners as possible. One thing I started to do was sell CDs I found on Ebay…..once my inventory was gone, I took a long look at my collection. I had all the original pressings of all the W.A.S.P. albums from the debut through CRIMSON IDOL but I also had the 1999 reissues with bonus tracks (the same reissues they keep re-releasing in different packaging every year!). Needing cash, I put the lot on Ebay and I think I scored $100! Over the years, I have regretted selling my original pressings because I think the reissues sound inferior so I’ve been on the hunt. When I saw this CD in the used bin, it was a definite purchase.

Tipton, Entwistle & Powell – Edge Of The World (2006) – $5 used: Here’s a disc that I passed up on four years ago and I have never seen cheap since the original sale price. Back in 2006, Glenn Tipton re-released his 1997 solo album BAPTIZM OF FIRE with two bonus tracks that were actually the Japanese bonus tracks from the 1997 release. I already had the original album so I didn’t bother but what did get my interest was this album that was released at the same time. So you have Glenn Tipton, The Who’s legendary bassist John Entwistle, legendary drummer Cozy Powell and keyboardist Don Airey working on a bunch of songs that weren’t done for BAPTIZM OF FIRE. Originally, this was supposed to be the band on BAPTIZM but the label got involved and these songs, and the lineup, got shelved. So the tracks finally see the light of day after close to ten years and 8 years after Cozy’s passing and 2 years after John’s. I never picked this up back then because I figured it would always be available, and it was, at $18 regular price. After a couple of years, the album disappeared off store shelves and I forgot about it…..$5 now is a great deal!

707 (featuring Kevin Russell) – Trip To Heaven (2000) – $4 used: I have this rule that if you’re going to rummage through the bargain bins, go through all of them thoroughly…..you never know what you might find. I’m an old school record store guy so I recognize a lot of obscure bands from my days as a kid flipping through racks of vinyl and cassettes, I recognized 707 right away. You may remember 707 from the early ’80s with their single ‘Mega Force’ but I remember them as being on Casablanca Records (KISS’ label). The band also got some publicity when Tod Howarth joined Frehley’s Comet and you may remember  singer Kevin Chalfant being a part of the band too. I wasn’t sure what kind of release this was but at $4 used, I figured that I could take a chance. Turns out Kevin Russell and 707 have been putting out some new material and re-releasing the old stuff.

Kotipelto – Waiting For The Dawn (2002) – $3 used: Bargain of the day! How can you pass up any Metal CD for $3? I recognized the band name as Timo Kotipelto from Stratovarius so I new that this was going to be some sort of Power Metal album. The album was released in 2002 on Century Media Records so I knew it had a regular release a few years ago but I didn’t remember Timo being solo. I grabbed this anyway, taking a chance again, but there was a second copy at the same price. Now the wheels are turning in my head…..could I sell this on Ebay? Good thing for cell phones! Turns out that this album sells for around$5 at auction so there wasn’t much upside to buying both copies but at least I got a great bargain! Perfect CD, as if it had never been played. No cut-outs, no wrinkles on the booklet, even the jewel case was in mint condition.

Sharon – Edge Of Time (1999) – $5 used: Another bargain! I’ve seen this album before back when it first came out in 1999 and I was a twice a week regular at 2 Guys Music in Warwick. That was a great place to get an education about what was coming out on European labels like Frontiers, SPV, Limb, Escape, Z Records etc. This CD came out in 1999 on Limb Music and distributed by SPV so I knew that I had at least found a Metal CD. What sold me right away, aside from the low price, was the gold sticker on the front of the jewel case that described the album as “sharp and timeless Melodic Rock & Metal”. That’s enough for me! From what I can tell, this was Sharon’s only release and the sound is a little dated from what the reviews say. I took the chance figuring that Melodic Metal from Germany, on a good label, can’t be all that bad. Plus, I checked Ebay on my phone and there weren’t any copies available for less than $9!

Domain – Stardawn (2006) – $9 used: Another awesome bargain! I would probably have to put this ahead of the Kotipelto CD as “bargain of the day” because this is a 3 disc set! STARDAWN was released in 2006 on Limb Music/SPV and it’s a 3 disc set including the STARDAWN album, a 16 song best of CD from 1988-2005 and a 9 song DVD titled SEVEN DAYS IN KOREA (LIVE 2005). I never let a nice set like this go: a 5 panel digipak, full color booklets, full color packaging, 2 CDs, a DVD and it’s a limited edition for Domain’s 20th Anniversary limited to 4000 copies worldwide. I didn’t see a serial number to designate which number out of 4000 I own but this STARDAWN collection isn’t something I’ve seen in local stores before.  Taking a quick look at my collection, it looks like I’ve picked up two or three Domain albums over the years but I don’t think I really have given the band much listening time.

Black Country Communion – s/t (2010) – $18: I ended up paying full price for this one because I passed on it the first couple of weeks after the album’s official release and, when I went to buy it on this trip, the sale price was gone. The sale price when this CD came out was $12.88 so I ended up paying $5 extra but I still felt OK about the higher price because I’ve heard such good things about this record. You’ve got Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian…..that’s as solid a lineup for a band as I’ve ever seen. Supergroup? Yeah, I’d say so…..it’s safe to say each musician is at the top of the list among their peers. I had this on my list just for Glenn Hughes, one of the greatest Rock singers of all time! The added bonus here is that the CD came with a bonus DVD that includes a video, interviews, behind the scenes in the studio and a photo gallery. If the album is as good as I’ve read, I’ll forget all about the high price.

Halford – Crucible (Remixed & Remastered) (2010) – $11: I picked this up to complete the Halford collection of remasters and because there were two copies, this one on sale and the other at regular price of $15. The sticker on the CD promotes the CRUCIBLE album remixed and remastered including four new tracks but, if you look closely, the four new tracks are really the two bonus tracks for the limited edition of the original pressing and the two bonus tracks for the Japanese import of the original pressing. This was one of those purchases that could have waited because I already have all the bonus tracks but, I was looking for something to buy and the sale sticker was calling my name. All the Halford remasters/reissues are top quality so I assume this one is more of the same. I haven’t opened it yet but when ido I will sit there and compare this to the original. Saved $4.

Halford – Live in Anaheim DVD (2010) – $15: For some reason, this DVD wasn’t released at the same time as the CD. I picked up the live album when it came out but this DVD came out a few weeks later and really flew under the radar. I could have pre-ordered this through the Halford website but I figured there would be a sale price and I could save a few bucks. The release date came and went and there was no mention in my weekly e-newsletter from the record store and there were no copies stocked in the store. About a month ago, I noticed that three brand new copies were in stock but regular priced. I decided to wait because there were three copies and there was no need to rush for it. A week later there were two copies…..two weeks after that I notice that there is only one Halford DVD left. I wasn’t going to risk another week, who knows who would buy it? This DVD includes the Anaheim concert obviously but also a documentary that includes four songs performed in Japan.

Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol (Deluxe Edition) (2010) – $35: OK, the price on this may stagger you but this is the standard price for this UK import. I’m not usually sucked into buying these “deluxe editions” that seem to be coming out for every single band now but I do have a few but there were some serious bonuses and the new editions were released in the U.S. I already own THE ETERNAL IDOL (1987), and I’m a big Sabbath fan, especially post-Ozzy, but there was one reason why this deluxe edition way high on my want list…..the sessions with Ray Gillen on vocals. Back in ’87, Ray Gillen (ex-Badlands) was the singer for Black Sabbath having taken over for Glenn Hughes during the tour for THE SEVENTH STAR (1986). The band hit the studio after the tour but for some reason it wasn’t working out with Ray Gillen on vocals…..Tony Martin eventually came in to replace Ray (who went to Badlands with Jake E. Lee) and just re-cut the vocals. The Ray Gillen sessions have been widely circulated in bootleg form but this is the first time Tony Iommi has allowed these recordings to be officially released. Another cool bonus is the two B-sides from the proper album: ‘Black Moon’ and ‘Some Kind Of Woman’. I was so worried about having to order this online that I bit the bullet and bought this right away…..and this was the only CD I bought on this specific shopping trip.

Issa – Sign Of Angels (2010) – $16: This is one of those albums where I heard a track and had to have it. Issa is a new artist on Frontiers Records and, obviously, it’s female-fronted melodic Hard Rock. I had a digital promo of the album, downloaded it to iTunes, listened to it once and accidently deleted it! So I checked out the video for the second track on the album, ‘I’m Alive’, and I just had this idea in my head that I had to have this album! The problem was I saw only one copy in the record store when the album was released and I hadn’t seen it since. I didn’t want to pay the high import price online for a new artist that I only really new by a video but I ended up paying the same price when I found a fresh copy about a month later. I’m a sucker for female-fronted bands but this is an impressive album, push this back 20 years and it’s a major hit.

Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: Live In Europe (2010) – $10: This is the live CD of Heaven & Hell’s performance at the 2009 Wacken Open Air festival on the tour for THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (2009). My favorite Black Sabbath lineup is the one with Ronnie James Dio so I would have snapped this live album up anyway but, with Ronnie’s passing still fresh, it was even more important to me to buy it. There’s just something about Ronnie James Dio that has really hit home with me over the last ten or twelve years and he has crept up into my Top 10 favorite artists/bands. Doesn’t matter if it’s Sabbath, Rainbow, solo, Elf or gueat appearances, I just have had a need over the last decade or so to collect all things Dio. Now that he’s gone, I want even more Dio music. Anyway, I saw this tour in Boston the same summer so it’s a nice way to re-live a great show. Saved $5 on the CD…..there was also a DVD released the same day.

Firewind – Days Of Defiance (2010) – $12: With Gus G. touring as Ozzy’s new guitarist, I completely forgot that a new Firewind album was coming out! Newbury Comics didn’t forget because there were at least ten copies available all with nice sale tags. I have a couple of Firewind CDs so I put this on my list and ended up going back and picking this up right away instead of waiting another week. You know what your getting with Firewind…..European Power Metal and excellent guitar work from Gus G. Usually I don’t get too excited over a new Firewind album but I must have had a Gus G. hangover after seeing Ozzfest and re-visiting the Dream Evil album that was released earlier in the year. Gus G. is having a pretty good year in 2010! I’ll tell you what sold me on picking this up right away…..there was something else released the same day that wasn’t in stock when I got to the record store so I spent the money I had on Firewind and still saved $4, regular price was $16. And that item was…..

Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: Live In Europe DVD (2010) – $10: The DVD version of the new Heaven & Hell live album was released the same day as Firewind but the store only stocked two copies of the DVD and I got to the store an hour after it opened so I missed out. I got the CD no problem, there were plenty of copies of that available but the DVD is what I really wanted. I wanted to see the show one more time because I had seen the Boston tour stop and it was a great show. I had the guy at the counter check the next delivery date, which was the next day, so I had it reserved. Show up the next day and the DVD didn’t come in, only more live CDs so my pal at the counter took my name and number and promised me a copy ASAP. Another 24 hours and I get a phone call from the store that my DVD is in so i made my third trip to the record store in two days for one DVD…..at least I got it and saved $5 in the process, regular price was $15.

David ‘Rock’ Feinstein – Bitten By The Beast (2010) – $10: And the Ronnie James Dio releated releases keep on coming! David ‘Rock’ Feinstein is Dio’s cousin and was in early Dio bands like Ronnie & The Prophets and Elf with RJD but you might remember Feinstein best from his days with The Rods. I remembered reading a year or so ago that Feinstein was working on two new albums: a solo album and a new Rods album both with performances from Ronnie. The album was going to be released by Ronnie and Wendy Dio’s label, Niji Entertainment, and Ronnie not only performed a song, ‘Metal Will never Die’, he helped Feinstein mix and master the album before his death. I probably would have picked this up eventually but because of Ronnie’s death, the Dio radar is up and I have to have more Dio related music. Picked this up on sale for $10, regular price was $14, so I saved $4.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Relentless (2010) – $12: Can anyone tell me why Yngwie has to release new albums so close to the end of the year? He did the same thing with his last record a couple years ago and I totally missed it! Anyway, I’m a Malmsteen fan all the way back to Steeler and Alcatrazz so I usually buy Yngwie’s new records but I wasn’t going to initially because I was sent a digital promo…..or so I thought. I get a lot of promos, mostly digital downloads and, if I like the band or album, I usually go buy it because I’m a collector. I got an email from Yngwie’s promotional people offering a digital copy of the album for review but, when I followed the links, I got a digital stream that wasn’t downloadable. I like to download this stuff into my iPod and listen to these album’s on the go but I was chained to my computer to hear RELENTLESS. Now I get the whole priacy thing and I don’t question an artist from trying to avoid it but it was just an inconvenience…..so I didn’t bother with it. I even forgot the album was released! I happened to see it when I grabbed the Feinstein CD and noticed the good sale price, regular price was $18. I didn’t want to pay such a high price knowing that I would end up grabbing this eventually so i bought it and saved $6. By the way, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens is back on the vocals.

Total = $298

Total (year) = $1758

Average Price (per item) = $10.72

Total CDs (year) = 149

Total DVDs (year) = 6

Total Box Sets (year) = 7

Total LPs (year) = 2

The Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax) – Live From Sofia, Bulgaria (2010) box set

The Big 4 – Live From Sofia, Bulgaria (2010, Warner Bros.)

DVD 1: Live From Sonisphere Festival, Sofia, Bulgaria – 6/22/2010
(Each band played approximately 1 hour sets.)

Anthrax
Caught In A Mosh
Got The Time
Madhouse
Be All, End All
Antisocial
Indians/Heaven And Hell
Medusa
Only
Metal Thrashing Mad
I Am The Law

Megadeth
Holy Wars…The Punishment Due
Hangar 18
Wake Up Dead
Head Crusher
In My Darkest Hour
Skin O’ My Teeth
A Tout Le Monde
Hook In Mouth
Trust
Sweating Bullets
Symphony Of Destruction
Peace Sells/Holy Wars Reprise

Slayer
World Painted Blood
Jihad
War Ensemble
Hate Worldwide
Seasons In The Abyss
Angel Of Death
Beauty Through Order
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Chemical Warfare
South Of Heaven
Raining Blood

DVD 2: Live From Sonisphere Festival, Sofia, Bulgaria – 6/22/2010
(Metallica played a 2 hour set, the documentary is 45 mins.)

Metallica
Creeping Death
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Fuel
Harvester Of Sorrow
Fade To Black
This Was Just Your Life
Cyanide
Sad But True
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
All Nightmare Long
One
Master Of Puppets
Blackened
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Am I Evil?
Hit The Lights
Seek & Destroy

DVD Extra – Backstage documentary including interviews and rehearsal footage of ‘Am I Evil?’

Anthrax
Joey Belladonna – lead vocals
Scott Ian – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar
Frank Bello – bass, backing vocals
Charlie Benante – drums

Megadeth
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, guitar
Chris Broderick – guitar, backing vocals
David Ellefson – bass, backing vocals
Shawn Drover – drums

Slayer
Tom Araya – vocals, bass
Jeff Hanneman – guitar
Kerry King – guitar
Dave Lombardo – drums

Metallica
James Hetfield – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Kirk Hammett – lead guitar, backing vocals
Robert Trujillo – bass, backing vocals
Lars Ulrich – drums

Region 0, NTSC
Total Running Time (DVD 1)
= approx. 3 hours
Total Running Time (DVD 2) = approx. 2 hours & 45 mins
Anthrax CD = 1:03:22
Megadeth CD = 1:01:04
Slayer CD = 1:01:54
Metallica double CD = 1:05:37 & 1:05:57

Metallica
Slayer
Megadeth
Anthrax

Filmed and recorded at the Sofia, Bulgaria stop on the Sonisphere Festival Tour (6/22/2010), this DVD/CD set captures an event that Metal fans around the world have been hoping for: the Big 4 of Thrash all sharing the same concert bill/tour. What was at least a year in the making from a negotiation standpoint, all four bands (Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica) all toured throughout parts of Europe together on the Sonisphere Festival tour, something that I can’t remember ever being done before. All I know is that I grew up with each band being a cornerstone of the Thrash movement back in the ’80s and it’s hard to deny the four bands’ history and legacy when it comes to Heavy Metal music. In addition to the Metal faithful in attendance in Sofia, the concert was screened in over 800 cinemas worldwide on the same day. This was a historical tour and I was sure that a DVD was going to be released and Lars Ulrich himself announced such plans to the audience at the show so I was eagerly awaiting this release. Once it was released, I paid the extra money for the complete audio & video deluxe set.

The Package:
I expected a nice box set and that’s exactly what I got. The box itself is a little larger than a regular DVD case and definitely deeper to fit all the materials. Inside is the DVD set and it’s the casing I don’t like much with one DVD sitting halfway over the top of the other, I always worry about scratches even though I am strictly careful. Also included are a full color booklet with plenty of photos and credits, a double-sided foldout poster with the box set artwork on one side and the tour poster on the other, four picture cards (one for each band) and a special guitar pick. After all that is removed, the five CD set is nestled inside! Each CD is housed in a cardboard slipcase with the band’s logo and a picture of parts of the drum kit, Metallica’s double disc is in a double-sided cardboard slipcase with logo and pictures of the crowd and the band in action.

The DVDs:
There are 2 DVDs and close to 6 hours of footage. DVD 1 includes complete sets by Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer in that order and they were edited on site after each performance so the show could be viewed around the world in cinemas on the same day. DVD 2 is the full Metallica headline set and a bonus documentary of the backstage area and the rehearsal footage of the bands together on ‘Am I Evil?’. All the performances are recorded and filmed crystal clear (this isn’t bootleg material!) and each band gives their performances their all. I wasn’t surprised by the running order of bands like a lot of people were online: obviously Anthrax would open and Metallica would headline but where would Megadeth and Slayer slot in? I wasn’t surprised to see Megadeth second considering that the past bad blood between Dave Mustaine and his former Metallica bandmates might be too much to get Dave to open just before Metallica came on. The more I thought about it though, Slayer is just as huge internationally as Megadeth if not more in certain countries. Who knows? I thought the running order was great and I enjoyed each band’s set. DVD 2 has the full Metallica set, the big draw being the four band jam on the Diamond Head classic ‘Am I Evil?’, and the behind the scenes documentary. If I had to choose which DVD is better, I would pick the first one because I think Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer are truer to the cause than Metallica. I know I will take a ton of criticism for that statement but I really haven’t been into Metallica since the Black album…..I have all the albums since and see the band live but I just prefer the older stuff, the stylistic changes to their overall sound, as well as, their commercial aspirations have soured me over the last 20 years. I have enjoyed albums and concerts by Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer a lot more in the last 20 years and I have become more of a fan of those bands as time has gone by when compared with Metallica. Like I said before, each band puts on a great show and the ‘Am I Evil?’ jam was really cool even if only Dave Lombardo from Slayer performed. If I had to pick the best performance for me it would be a tie between Anthrax and Slayer, I just enjoyed those more. The documentary after the Metallica performance was cool, you got a look at backstage life with each band, rehearsal/soundcheck footage, meet & greets with fans, band interactions and look at the stage area. Like the regular performance, the rehearsals for ‘Am I Evil?’ were extremely cool to be captured on film. One thing I really want to point out during all the bands’ performances is the crowd. Starting with Anthrax and ending with Metallica, the people packed into the stadium were ravenous for Metal and the bands. Anthrax had a large crowd to open that would easily fill arenas and sheds in the U.S. and, as the day continued, the crowds got bigger and hungrier for each band. I always like seeing Metal DVDs filmed outside the U.S. because it goes to show that there is a deep rooted love for all types of Heavy Metal around the world.

The CDs:
I think the best way to sum up the five audio CDs is that they are cool bonuses. The main reason you buy this set is to see the DVD of the entire concert, the CDs are a cool way to re-live that on your stereo or iPod. For me, I liked having the live sets on CD because I have listened to them in the car and on my iPod…..you can only sit in front of a TV for so long! This way you get four live albums for your collections and each one is an exact copy of the performances on DVD, nothing is missing.

Bottom Line:
If you couldn’t be there, or you didn’t have a theater near you that was screening the show, then this is a really cool box set to pick up. I paid the extra money to have the complete box set with the audio and video but there is a DVD only set that is priced lower, I’m not sure if it has all the extras like the poster, pick and pictures. Everything is professionally done, all the performances look and sound great and the behind the scenes documentary is definitely a bonus highlight. If your a fan of all or just a few of these bands, i recommend picking this up and watching a piece of Heavy Metal history.

Favorite Highlights:
Anthrax – ‘Got The Time’ & ‘Indians/Heaven And Hell’
Megadeth – ‘In My Darkest Hour’ & ‘Symphony Of Destruction’
Slayer – ‘Angel Of Death’ & ‘Raining Blood’
Metallica – ”For Whom The Bell Tolls’, ‘Am I Evil?’ & ‘Hit The Lights’

R.I.P. – Kevin DuBrow (3rd Anniversary)

Kevin DuBrow (1955 – 2007)

Three years ago today, Quiet Riot frontman Kevin DuBrow passed away in his Las Vegas home, he was 52 years old. I got into Quiet Riot back in 1983,  just like most fans did, when they released their groundbreaking METAL HEALTH album. I heard them on the radio and watched the band’s videos on MTV, the band was at the top of the charts and Kevin was the face (and mouth!) of the band. Unfortunately, the band’s career slipped as the years went on but some of my favorite music and memories of Kevin DuBrow and Quiet Riot came in the mid-90s through 2006 when the band was re-establishing itself and eventually reunited the classic lineup. My friends and I tried to catch every local concert the band put on and we were always treated to a great show. Thanks for the music and memories Kevin, rest in peace…..

R.I.P. – Eric Carr (19th Anniversary)

Eric Carr (1950-1991)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 19 years since Eric Carr passed away from complications due to heart cancer. I will never forget watching MTV that day trying to find out news on the death of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury and, in the same news segment, MTV reported on Eric’s death. I was upset about Mercury’s death but Eric was an important member of my favorite band…..KISS. I couldn’t even begin to think of how the band would continue without Eric and I truly thought it was the end of KISS. I grew up with the tail end of the makeup era and the non-makeup era and Eric Carr was an important part of that time in KISS’ career. The music he made will live on and I will never forget seeing him perform live in 1987 on the Crazy Nights tour…..thanks for the memories Eric! Rest in peace…..

R.I.P. – Freddie Mercury (19th Anniversary)

Freddie Mercury (1946-1991)

Today marks 19 years since the death of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, one of the greatest Rock singers of all time. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 19 years since his passing but the music Freddie created with Queen and as a solo artist will live on forever. Queen will always be one of my favorite bands and Freddie one of my favorite singers. Rest in peace…..

 

Dio – At Donington, UK: Live 1983 & 1987 (2010)

Dio – At Donington, UK: Live 1983 & 1987 (2010, Niji Entertainment Group)

CD 1 – (1983)

  1. Stand Up & Shout
  2. Straight Through The Heart
  3. Children Of The Sea
  4. Rainbow In The Dark
  5. Holy Diver
  6. Drum solo
  7. Stargazer
  8. Guitar solo
  9. Heaven And Hell
  10. Man On The Silver Mountain
  11. Starstruck
  12. Man On The Silver Mountain (Reprise)

CD 2 – (1987)

  1. Dream Evil
  2. Neon Knights
  3. Naked In The Rain
  4. Rock And Roll Children
  5. Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
  6. The Last In Line
  7. Children Of The Sea
  8. Holy Diver
  9. Heaven And Hell
  10. Man On The Silver Mountain
  11. All The Fools Sailed Away
  12. The Last In Line (Reprise)
  13. Rainbow In The Dark

Band Lineup (1983):
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Vivian Campbell – Guitars
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Vinny Appice – drums
Claude Schnell – Keyboards

Band Lineup (1987):
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Craig Goldy – Guitars
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums
Claude Schnell – Keyboards

Executive Producer: Ronnie James Dio

Country: USA

Total Time CD 1 = 46:42
Total Time CD 2 = 50:12

Ronnie James Dio
Ronnie James Dio MySpace page
Ronnie James Dio Facebook page

DIO AT DONINGTON, UK: LIVE 1983 & 1987 is the first posthumous release by Heavy Metal legend Ronnie James Dio. Sadly, Ronnie lost his battle with stomach cancer on May 16, 2010…..but his music lives on and this live album is a perfect way to document the rise and peak of the Dio band in the early to mid-’80s. At the time of his death, Ronnie was still working and this live album was one of the projects he was working on. Unfortunately he passed before work was complete but his wife, Wendy Dio, had the album finished and released. Niji Entertainment (Ronnie & Wendy’s company) will continue to release archival material in the future.

This live set combines both appearances by the Dio band at the Monsters Of Rock Festival at Donington in 1983 and 1987. The 1983 CD is a concert in support of Dio’s first album HOLY DIVER and the setlist is highlighted by four songs (‘Stand Up And Shout’, ‘Straight Through The Heart’, ‘Rainbow In The Dark’, ‘Holy Diver’) within the first five sandwiching the Black Sabbath standard ‘Children Of The Sea’. The band has the second opening slot after Diamond Head kicked off the festival so time was a factor I’m sure but the band still had time to rip through Rainbow’s ‘Stargazer’ and Sabbath’s ‘Heaven And Hell’ before the final Rainbow song, ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ with a touch of ‘Startstruck’ in the middle. I could do without the guitar and drum solos respectively but, back in the ’80s, these were mandatory parts of the set. The band is tight…..Ronnie sounds incredible and Vivian Campbell shows that, back in the day, he was a premier Heavy Metal guitarist.

The 1987 live set promotes the DREAM EVIL album and is represented by three songs (‘Dream Evil’, ‘Naked In The Rain’, ‘All The Fools Sailed Away’). Dio’s return to Donington in ’87 was at a time when the band was at their commercial peak and the earned them the co-headline slot just before Bon Jovi (imagine that?). By this time, the Dio band was on album #4 and each one is represented with the bulk coming off the HOLY DIVER record but THE LAST IN LINE (1984) is represented by the title cut and SACRED HEART (1985) by ‘Rock And Roll Children’. No solos this time around, it would have been nice to hear Craig Goldy due a solo just so I could compare it to Vivian’s  on the 1983 disc, but I’ll take the extra songs anyday! Nice to hear one of my Black Sabbath favorites, ‘Neon Knights’, open the show to go along with the ‘Heaven And Hell’ & ‘Children Of The Sea’ staples but the cool Rainbow track is ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’ to go along with ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’. The band is tight as they should be because the only different piece is guitarist Craig Goldy (replacing Campbell) but it’s not really different as Craig had been friends with Ronnie for a while.

The packaging is a three panel digipak with full color photos and a full color booklet that includes an essay by writer Dante Bonutto but it’s really a basic style package. The extras that were included are two replica all access passes for each Monsters Of Rock show.

Bottom Line:
It’s sad that Ronnie James Dio has passed away but his music lives on and this live document of both performances at Donington are a great way to celebrate his legacy. The music is crystal clear and the band is firing on all cylinders at each performance, especially Ronnie, who’s vocals are truly superb. If you are a Dio fan, I would highly recommend this live album, one of the better live albums I’ve heard in a while.

Favorite Songs:
All the songs are classics on both discs but it’s very cool to hear ‘Stargazer’ on the 1983 set and the DREAM EVIL songs and ‘rock And Roll Children’ live on the 1987 set.

Attila – Rage (2010)

Attila – Rage (2010, Artery Recordings)

  1. The End
  2. Make It Sick
  3. The Invitation
  4. Rage
  5. Lights Out
  6. Temper
  7. Girls Don’t Lie
  8. Strikeout
  9. Cheyenne 420
  10. Jumanji

Band Lineup:
Fronz – Vocals
Nate – Guitar
Chris – Guitar
Sean – Drums
Comrie – Bass

Producers: Eric Rushing & Stephan Hawkes

Country: USA

Total Time = 27:01

Attila MySpace page
Artery Recordings

One of my goals for 2010 was to open up myself to different styles of Metal that I normally wouldn’t listen to. If you’ve read this website regularly then you know that more extreme forms of Metal outside of Thrash really don’t find their way on my stereo except for maybe the occasional “big name” group in a specific genre. I didn’t want to limit myself to just hard Rock and traditional forms of Heavy metal, I wanted to explore more Black Metal and Death Metal because I know that there are great bands that I’m missing out on. When Attila’s third album, RAGE, crossed my desk, I really didn’t give the band much though. Then I went over to their MySpace page and saw that they describe themselves as a “party death metal” band, that was enough for me to wonder what was inside the jewel case.

Like I said, extreme forms of Metal aren’t my strong suit so it’s a whole new world for me as I check out different bands but I had an open mind going into RAGE. Opening track ‘The End’  is actually a quick intro (26 seconds) and it moves right into ‘Make It Sick’, probably the best song on the album or at least the one I most enjoyed. Basically I can describe the entire album by describing ‘Make It Sick’ — buzzing guitars with good solos, double kick drums, “cookie monster” growling, high pitch vocals like Dani Filth from Cradle Of Filth and clean vocals that sound like Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit. It’s a complete mash of influences all rolled into each song and it all adds up to a distraction for me. Musically everything is good as far as I can tell, I like the traditional guitar solos on some of the songs, it’s the three different vocal styles that are throwing me off. Then there’s the songwriting which is either about partying, being a bad ass or not “giving a fuck”. Granted, most albums have the same themes running through most of their songs but it just feels like Attila’s writing is still a bit immature but, like the line in ‘Make It Sick’, Attila says, “I don’t give a fuck if you like this song!”.

Bottom Line:
This just isn’t the album for me. I tried…..I gave RAGE a ton of spins and I tried hard to make sense of the songs but I just kept coming back to the three different vocal styles, especially the Fred Durst-sounding clean vocals, that whining wail that made me want to punch Durst in the face! I like the music, I think the instruments are all tight, especially the guitars…..it’s the vocals that are killing it for me. Go either growls or screams, even both but lose the clean whines. Like I mentioned, this is Attila’s third album, and they look like a young band, so their influences might be all over the place. I wouldn’t mind hearing their next album to see if their songwriting matures and the vocals tighten up but I’m not going out of my way. Not a bad record but nothing really stuck except for a couple of songs.

Favorite Songs:
‘Make It Sick’, ‘Rage’

The Murder Of My Sweet – Divanity (2010)

The Murder Of My Sweet – Divanity (2010, Frontiers)

  1. No Evil
  2. Follow The Rain
  3. Bleed Me Dry
  4. Chemical Attraction
  5. Kiss Of Death
  6. One Bullet
  7. Tonight
  8. Storms Of The Sea
  9. Destiny
  10. Revolution
  11. Valerie
  12. Death Of A Movie Star

Band Lineup:
Angelica Rylin – Vocals
Daniel Palmqvist – Guitars
Johan Niemann – Bass
Andreas Lindahl – Keyboards
Daniel Flores – Drums

Producer: Daniel Flores

Country: Sweden

Total Time = 53:51

The Murder Of My Sweet
The Murder Of My Sweet official MySpace page
Frontiers Records

Named after the 1944 film Murder, My Sweet, female-fronted Swedish newcomers The Murder Of My Sweet have made a serious impact signing with Melodic Rock label Frontiers Records and releasing their debut album, DIVANITY. The amount of female-fronted bands in all genres of Metal grows every year and The Murder Of My Sweet join a crowded field in the Symphonic/Gothic Metal genre alongside bands like Lacuna Coil, Epica, Lana Lane and Evanescence. Just like their peers, the band’s music is driven by heavy guitars, soaring vocals and a generous use of keyboards and orchestration. What sets The Murder Of My Sweet apart from the rest is Rylin’s voice because it just sounds different compared to Simone Simons, Cristina Scabbia and Amy Lee, sometimes it takes a newcomer to raise the bar and Rylin joins good company. The songs on DIVANITY are all heavy but very melodic, dark and brooding but varied in their compsition. There are a lot of sounds to take in between Rylin’s prominent voice, the guitars, keyboards and orchestration…..maybe a little too much and that’s where the band fails to pull away from the pack. The first half of the album impressed me and had me rocking out with songs like ‘No Evil’, ‘Bleed Me Dry’ and ‘Kiss Of Death’ but by the second half I felt like I had heard it all before. That’s not to say that the songs are bad, quite the opposite, they are very good. It’s just that I think that the album gets repetitive and there is so much more room for growth, it wasn’t until the final song, ‘Death Of A Movie Star’, that I heard something completely different. There was a Queen influence to ‘Death Of A Movie Star’ that I found different and refreshing.

Bottom Line:
Overall, a solid debut. I enjoyed listening to the album but after repeated listens it starts to sound the same. There is huge talent in The Murder Of My Sweet and not just Angelica Rylin because the musicianship and songwriting is top notch, all the band needs to do now is to separate themselves by expanding their sound. The Murder Of My Sweet is an up and coming band, I’m definitely looking forward to their next album to see what they do. If you’re a fan of Symphonic/Gothic Metal then be sure to check this album out.

Favorite Songs:
‘No Evil’, ‘Bleed Me Dry’, ‘Kiss Of Death’, ‘Death of A Movie Star’

Auras – New Generation (2010)

Auras – New Generation (2010, Frontiers Records)

  1. Beauty Of Dreams
  2. Forgive And Forget
  3. Never Give Up
  4. In My Arms
  5. Reach Out
  6. New Generation
  7. Forever In Your Eyes
  8. Hungry Hearts
  9. That’s The Way Love Goes
  10. Keep On Loving You
  11. Out Of Love
  12. Love To Survive

Band Lineup:
Gui Oliver – Lead Vocals
Ferpa Lacerda – Guitars & Background Vocals
Edu Sallum – Drums & Percussion
Matheus Brandon – Guitars & Background Vocals
Hemerson Vieira – Bass

Producers: Dennis Ward & Auras

Country: Brazil

Total Time = 55:22

Auras MySpace page
Frontiers Records

Auras is a Melodic Rock band from Brazil formed in 2007 with a style/influence from AOR masters like Journey, Survivor, The Storm, Richard Marx and Toto and the lesser known Surrender. Most Brazilian bands that I listen to (Angra, Shaman, Sepultura, and Pleasure Maker) are more Hard Rock or Metal oriented so I was surprised to hear this ’80s AOR sound full of saoring vocals, big harmonies, piano/keyboards and melodic guitar. Lead singer Gui Oliver has a voice very similar to former Journey frontmen Steve Perry and Steve Augeri (also from Tall Stories) as well as The Storm’s Kevin Chalfant. I actually pulled out a few Journey and The Storm CDs to compare the vocals just like I did when Journey hired Arnel Pineda a couple of years ago. It’s obvious that Oliver has a solid voice with good range and that he will be the main focal point in comparing Auras to the older bands. The rest of the band provides top notch musicianship, especially both guitar players (Felipe Lacerda and Matheus Brandon) who have a found that niche where the guitar doesn’t overpower the keyboards. Speaking of the keyboards, I haven’t been able to find out who plays keyboards/piano on this record but they are done really well and compliment the guitars while being a prominent part of the overall sound. The lyrics are all positive and upbeat in that they are all about love, faith and hope.

Opening NEW GENERATION is the uptempo ‘Beauty Of Dreams’ that sounds like pure Journey and could fit easily on their latest album with Arnel Pineda. ‘Forgive And Forget’ is Journey-esque with a more prominent guitar and this honky-tonk style piano that finds it’s way into the middle while the opening of ‘Never Give Up’ sounds a little like the opening intro to Van Halen’s ‘Top Of The World’ but not as heavy, ‘Never Give Up’ is another song that I could easily see the latest incarnation of Journey playing. It would be an AOR album without a ballad and the piano led ‘In My Arms’ is definitely lighter worthy and one of those songs you hear at weddings! The rest of the album is more of the standard AOR/Melodic Rock uptempo fair: ‘Reach Out’ is more mid-tempo, the title track starts with a keyboard/drum intro and moves into one of the more anthemic songs on the album and ‘Forever In Your Eyes’ has a little more melodic power than ‘Reach Out’ but it still finds a mid-tempo groove. I’m halfway through the album and I haven’t heard a bad song yet, nor have I heard one that lacks perfect sound. ‘Hungry Hearts’ is the first song that the band worked on together and it also was the first one sent to various labels to see if there was any interest, I hear a lot of Survivor in ‘Hungry Hearts’ around that VITAL SIGNS era from 1984. ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’ opens with a guitar driven intro but the keyboards give it this ’80s Power Pop sound that only gets saved when the guitar kicks in and there’s not enough guitar for me. When I saw the title for ‘Keep On Lovin’ You’, I was sure that this was going to be a cover of the REO Speedwagon hit but it’s really an original that follows the rest of the album’s pattern. What makes this song stand out a little more is that the band uses a talk box on some of the guitar work to give it that Bon Jovi ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ touch. More mid-tempo Journey-sims arrive with ‘Out Of Love’ and I feel like I’ve heard it already, same with the final ‘Love To Survive’.

Bottom Line:
When I put NEW GENERATION on for the first time, I admit that I was very surprised that Auras came from Brazil because they sound like they come straight from the U.S. West Coast! After hearing the first two songs, I was convinced that I had heard them on the radio back in the early ’80 on FM radio! Of course I hadn’t heard them before but that just goes to show you that new modern AOR/Melodic Rock from around the world is taking hold and bringing people back 25-30 years back in time. I will admit that the sound is definitely dated and, after repeated listens, the songs kind of blend together and you feel like you’ve heard it all before. In keeping with the ’80s AOR style, the lyrics are completely upbeat and positive and it doesn’t offer too much variety…..it’s all about love and the band pours their hearts out. Some fans are going to get turned off by the dated sound and lyrics, maybe looking for something with a little more bite to it and less polish. I think the album is well done and the musicianship is top notch, I’ve enjoyed listening to it a lot but I’m a little thrown off with the complete Journey/Survivor worship. I think NEW GENERATION is a good album that gets the band out there initially but Auras’ career will be defined by their ability to build their own unique sound rather than following their favorite bands’ blueprints. If you like Melodic Rock, then this is for you.

Favorite Songs:
‘Beauty Of Dreams’, ‘Never Give Up’, ‘New Generation’, ‘Forever In Your Eyes’

Methods Of Mayhem – A Public Disservice Announcement (2010)

Methods Of Mayhem – A Public Disservice Announcement (2010, Roadrunner/Loud & Proud)

  1. Drunk Uncle Pete
  2. Time Bomb
  3. Louder
  4. Fight Song
  5. Blame
  6. Two Ways
  7. Take Me Off The Ledge
  8. Only One
  9. All I Wanna Do
  10. Back To Before
  11. Party Instructions

Band Lineup:
Tommy Lee – vocals, guitar, drums
John “J3″ Allen III – guitar, vocals
Will Hunt – drums, percussion
Kai Marcus – guitar, backing vocals
Marty O’Brien – bass
DJ Aero – turntables

Additional Musicians:
Scott Humphrey – synthesizer, piano, backing vocals
Phil X – guitar
Chris Chaney – bass
Deryck Whibley – guitar
Chad Kroeger – backing vocals
Sonny Moore – synthesizer
Chino Moreno – vocals
James Kottak – vocals
Deadmau5 – electronics
Sofi Toufa – vocals
Marcus Davis – vocals
Steven McSwain – backing vocals

Producers: Scott Humphrey & Tommy Lee

Country: USA

Total Time = 43:06

Tommy Lee
Loud & Proud Records

Methods Of Mayhem is Tommy Lee’s side band outside of Motley Crue. Way back in 1999, Tommy quit the Crue and, shortly after his stint in jail for spousal abuse, formed Methods Of Mayhem to give himself a new creative outlet. The band got some serious publicity and a platinum debut from Tommy’s name, his celebrity status, the racy video for the first single ‘Get Naked’ and a touring slot on Ozzfest 2000. I had read all the press releases and reviews and, as a card-carrying Metalhead, I couldn’t get behind Tommy’s Nu-Metal and Rap Metal style with Methods and I especially despised his collaborator, rapper TiLo. I was in attendance at Ozzfest 2000 in Mansfield, MA and I heard all the boos and laughter as Tommy strapped on a guitar and rapped along with TiLo. Requests for Motley Crue songs and the generic “You suck!” comments (a lot of those came from me) were responded to by Tommy by throwing the middle finger. I will never forget the overwhelming boos that the band received at the conclusion of their set and I wondered just how far the mighty Crue drummer had fallen. Fast forward to 2010 and Tommy has since rejoined Motley Crue, starred in various reality TV shows and managed to release two solo albums under his own name…..now we get a new Methods Of Mayhem album, A PUBLIC DISSERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT.

Before I get into the review, let me explain why I was interested in this album. I’m sitting in my seat at Ozzfest 2010 (10 years after Methods got booed off the stage) and the screens keep running commercials hyping this new Methods record to the point of absurdity. There were street team members from the label or PR firm handing out postcard ads to the concert goers and it just seemed like this new album was everywhere a full month before it’s release…..the hype machine in full force! So I’m sitting there at Ozzfest and I’m thinking to myself, “Maybe this album won’t be as bad as the first one.” and “Maybe it’s worth a shot.”. Now I hadn’t heard a piece of music from the album but I did check out the press releases and it seemed that Tommy decided to open the creative door to anyone with an Internet connection and a desire to make music. Producer Scott Humphrey and Tommy offered fans and musicians from around the world to submit material to a specific website and, after listening to over 10,000 submissions, parts of selected submissions were added to Tommy’s writing to create the songs for the album. It sounded like an interesting concept but also threw a red flag in my head because it screamed “laziness” to me. How about just writing your own songs? Why collaborate with fans? Then again, I’m not a musician so how do I know about the creative process? I gave Tommy the benefit of the doubt. So the album comes out mid-September and I’m in the record store debating dropping the $12 for the CD and I decide to wait. Lucky for me, a friend of mine didn’t wait and I was able to borrow his copy.

What we basically have here is a continuation of the first Methods Of Mayhem album. A PUBLIC DISSERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT is an album full of Nu-Metal, Rap Metal, Alternative Rock and various beats and sound effects that are completely unlistenable. Tommy Lee has simply repeated the same formula as he did 10 years ago with the exception of outside contributions via the Internet. Of course there are also guest musicians, some good and some overrated. I can give credit to having Scorpions drummer James Kottak make a vocal appearance, same with the Chino Moreno from the Deftones, but Chad Kroeger from Nickelback? Deryck Whibley from Sum 41? Kroeger and Nickelback are successful but completely overrated and Whibley is more famous for his failed marriage to fellow Canadian alt-rocker Avril Lavigne than his own band! It just points to the fact that this kind of music and hype is at least 7 or 8 years out of date. At least Tommy listened to the overwhelming boos 10 years ago and got rid of TiLo!

Bottom Line:
Without a doubt the worst album I have heard all year and most likely the hands down favorite for my Worst Album of 2010. I seriously sat in my music room at least 6 or 7 times to give this a serious listen and it was a serious chore. There is nothing on this album even close to Tommy’s music with Motley Crue or even Hard Rock for that matter. Hell, I would even take basic Rock! All there is here is Nu-Metal, etc. and it’s 10 years past the sell by date. I can understand a musician’s right to explore new territory, to expand their musical base, but when you market the album heavily at a Heavy Metal festival like Ozzfest, then you are deceiving the fans. Thank god I didn’t waste my money.

Favorite Songs:
none

Halford – IV: Made Of Metal (2010)

Halford – IV: Made Of Metal (2010, Metal God Records)

  1. Undisputed
  2. Fire And Ice
  3. Made Of Metal
  4. Speed Of Sound
  5. Like There’s No Tomorrow
  6. Till The Day I Die
  7. We Own The Night
  8. Heartless
  9. Hell Razor
  10. Thunder And Lightning
  11. Twenty Five Years
  12. Matador
  13. I Know We Stand A Chance
  14. The Mower

Band Lineup:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Roy Z. – Guitars
Metal Mike Chlasciak – Guitars
Mike Davis – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Producer: Roy Z.

Country: USA

Total Time = 1:02:49

Halford
Halford MySpace page

It’s been a few years since Rob Halford released a new album under the Halford band moniker, 2002 to be exact with CRUCIBLE, but now there is a brand new studio album of Metal songs titled MADE OF METAL. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 years between albums because the Metal God has been very busy with his committments recording and touring with  Judas Priest and his Metal God empire that includes his own record label, solo catalog remasters, special album releases like the Halford – III: Winter Songs (2009) release and a clothing line. Add touring with the Halford band on this past summer’s Ozzfest and now supporting Ozzy Osbourne internationally, it’s safe to say that Rob Halford has a lot on his plate while Judas Priest takes a well deserved break. Judas Priest is my second favorite band so anything the band members do on the side is always of interest so I knew about the new Halford album from the beginning. Rob’s previous solo releases under the Halford name (2000’s RESURRECTION and 2002’s CRUCIBLE) were high quality Heavy Metal records so my expectations were definitely high when Rob announced he was in the studio creating a new album.

I got my first taste of MADE OF METAL when the digital single ‘The Mower’ was released through Halford.com and then Halford performed ‘Made Of Metal’ when I saw the band live on Ozzfest 2010. I was impressed by both songs and I knew that the new album was going to be really good because ‘The Mower’ sounded like something straight from the first two Halford albums but I also detected that there was a more melodic approach to at least the title track. After listening to the album daily since it’s late September release, it’s easy to hear that Rob’s reunion with Judas Priest has greatly influenced his current solo work because most of the album has a more commercial sound then the previous Halford releases. Obviously Rob’s voice is a large part of the Priest sound so similarities between the two bands are obvious but I think that the 2009 tour celebrating the 30th Anniversary of BRITISH STEEL (1980) may have influenced the writing to have more of a late ’70s/early ’80s Judas Priest vibe. Songs like ‘Undisputed’, ‘Speed Of Sound’, ‘Like There’s No Tomorrow’, ‘Heartless’ and ‘Hell Razor’ all sound like they came straight off Priest records of different eras. That may be a good thing for many fans because Priest’s last album, NOSTRADAMUS (2008), was heavily debated among fans. ‘Undisputed’ has some really bad clichéd lyrics but it’s still a good song, ‘Speed Of Sound’ has a fast tempo like something off SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE (1982) but the chorus comes off like something from TURBO (1986) and ‘Like There’s No Tomorrow’ has a very melodic sound underneath the dual guitars, a Priest trademark throughout the ’80s. Take a listen to ‘Heartless’ and ‘Hell Razor’ (both are back to back in the running order), ‘Heartless’ could easily fit on an album like BRITISH STEEL while ‘Hell Razor’ has a more ’70s Metal sound found on SIN AFTER SIN (1977) or STAINED CLASS (1978). Backing up a little, ‘Fire And Ice’ sounds like current day Power Metal similar to Hammerfall and Primal Fear and the title track sounds like a song that could easily fit on the NOSTRADAMUS album. The title of the song, and album when looking at the cover, is a little deceiving…..Rob Halford is the Metal God and ‘Made Of Metal’ sounds like it would fall right into place as a Metal anthem and Rob declaring his dedication once again but it’s actually a song inspired by NASCAR. Yes, NASCAR! Look at the cover and you see the “supersonic silver flying machine” and the lyrics to the song are blatantly about racing, even name-checking NASCAR. Is Rob pulling a Gene Simmons here by looking for an affiliation like Gene did years ago with Indy Racing?

I don’t like the Blues/Country/Western sound of ‘Till The Day I Die’, it reminds me of Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ but not anywhere as good and ‘We Own The Night’ has it’s moments but it is so commercial that it becomes forgettable. ‘Thunder And Lightning’ has more of a Hard Rock sound to it and the underlying riff reminds me again of Bon Jovi, this time with ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’. There is a true ballad on MADE OF METAL called ‘Twenty-Five Years’ and it’s very surprising because it’s not really something you expect from Halford. It’s a quiet song for the most part with Rob softly singing until the chorus kicks in and he adds more power to his vocal along with the guitars. Looking at the lyrics, the first thing that comes to mind is the song is about Rob’s battle with drugs and alcohol and staying sober…..not sure if that is what the song is actually about but good music can always be interpreted different ways. ‘Twenty-Five years’ breaks the album up a bit and gives a different fresh sound to all the Metal. Expanding more sounds, ‘Matador’ has a Latin flavor to the overall Metal sound and ‘I Know We Stand A Chance’ sounds like something that a female-fronted band like Lacuna Coil, Epica or After Forever would do. Maybe it’s the mid-tempo pace or the love torn lyrics but this doesn’t sound like Metal God territory. Rounding the record out is the previously mentioned single ‘The Mower’, a song that is very heavy and reminiscent of the vocal work Rob did with the higher screams on RESURRECTION, CRUCIBLE and even Judas Priest’s ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION (2005). It’s a heavy song and a good way to end the album but really listen to Rob’s vocal style and tell me you can’t hear some Udo Dirkschneider (U.D.O. & ex-Accept) in there!

Bottom Line:
Like I mentioned before, I was definitely looking forward to this album and I have given it a daily listen since it was released. The problem for MADE OF METAL is that it’s very hard to top Rob Halford’s first two solo albums RESURRECTION and CRUCIBLE…..those are two classic Metal albums from the early part of the decade. It was easy to beat Halford’s third album, WINTER SONGS, because I just didn’t get into the whole “winter/Xmas” style. The bottom line here is that if you like Judas Priest, then you will like MADE OF METAL. All the songs on this album are very accessible and melodic and it’s obvious that the last few years focusing on Judas Priest has made the Metal God’s sound more commercial and full of hooks. Overall, I like this album a lot, I find myself easily getting into the music and the songs stick in my head making it relatively easy to sing along. This may not be the heaviest Halford album, this may not be the best Halford album either, but I would rank it up there as a solid release that I believe gets better as you play it.

Favorite Songs:
‘Fire And Ice’, ‘Made Of Metal’, ‘Heartless’, Hell Razor’, ‘Twenty-Five Years’, ‘The Mower’

Crazy Lixx – New Religion (2010)

Crazy Lixx – New Religion (2010, Frontiers Records)

  1. Rock And A Hard Place
  2. My Medicine (R.O.C.K.)
  3. 21 ‘Til I Die
  4. Blame It On Love
  5. Road To Babylon
  6. Children Of The Cross
  7. The Witching Hour
  8. Lock up Your Daughter
  9. She’s Mine
  10. What Of Our Love
  11. Desert Bloom
  12. Voodoo Woman

Band Lineup:
Danny Rexon – Vocals
Andy Dawson – Guitars
Luke Rivano – Bass
Joey Cirera – Drums

Producer: Chris Laney

Country: Sweden

Total Time = 45:05

Crazy Lixx
Crazy Lixx MySpace page
Frontiers Records

NEW RELIGION is the second album by the Swedish Hard Rock band Crazy Lixx and it was released back in April on Frontiers Records. Crazy Lixx is one of many bands coming out of Sweden promoting the classic Hard Rock sound of the ’80s pioneered by the likes of Motley Crue, Poison, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi. The band follows a very specific formula that includes plenty of hooks, big harmonies and sleazy guitar all infused into a complete party vibe.

The album starts off with the anthemic ‘Rock And A Hard Place’ that reminds me of gritty Danger Danger and then ‘My Medicine (R.O.C.K.)’ that is a purely influenced by Def Leppard (check the harmonies) and Poison (the main riff sounds a little like ‘Unskinny Bop’). That’s not a bad way to start an album, especially if you are blatantly going for that kind of sound! As the album continues there are more ’80s hard rockers that have some grit and punch like the Skid Row-ish ’21 Till I Die’, ‘Road To Nowhere’, ‘The Witching Hour’, ‘Children Of The Cross’ and ‘Lock Up Your Daughter’. ‘The Witching Hour’ really stands out for me because it has a real heavy guitar and sounds close to Metal, like an early heavy Ratt or something, but the harmonies bring that melodic Def Leppard influence to even it out. ‘Lock Up Your Daughter’ also stands out for me with that infectious drum sound and huge harmonies reminding me of a cross between Motley Crue, Danger Danger, and Poison. Other highlights from NEW RELIGION are the more AOR/Melodic Rock styled ‘Blame It On Love’, the Bon Jovi influenced melodic rocker ‘She’s Mine’ and the pure Jovi balladry of ‘What Of Our Love’. The only throwaway track on the album for me is the quick instrumental ‘Desert Bloom’, it’s not a bad instrumental but I would just prefer another full song. Ending the record is the tight rocker ‘Voodoo Woman’, another track that has that heavier guitar infused in the middle of the big melodic, harmonized Hard Rock. Just a quick note on the production and sound here…..Swedish musician/producer Chris Laney is back again handling the production duties and the sound is perfect. Almost too perfect actually! Don’t get me wrong, I like a good sounding record but at times I wonder if Crazy Lixx is too polished? Then again, if you are going to be influenced by ’80s Hard Rock, and write songs in that direction, then you have to have top notch production and sound. The Crazy Lixx sound stands up right next to the masters like a Def Leppard or Bon Jovi.

Bottom Line:
I have had NEW RELIGION since March and I have had this in my weekly rotation ever since. The band grabs your attention immeadiately with ‘Rock And A Hard Place’ and never lets go and, as you move on through the album, each song follows suit. I grew up listening to FM radio and watching hours of MTV so the ’80s Glam/Hard Rock scene was inescapable and as the years passed has faded away. What has been missing in the U.S. mainstream is that party atmosphere and good time feeling from the bands that topped the charts 20-25 years ago, it’s good to see a band like Crazy Lixx emulate that style. For me, this is one of my favorite albums of the year and I recommend it for Hard Rock fans that want to travel back to the ’80s.

Favorite Songs:
I like the entire album but if I had to pick a Top 5 off this album they would be: ‘Rock And A Hard Place’, ‘My Medecine (R.O.C.K.)’, ‘Blame It On Love’, ‘The Witching Hour’ and ‘Lock Up Your Daughter’.