Any time that a band covers a much beloved, obscure 80s metal song like “Atomic Playboys,” they are bound to get my attention. Such is the case with Sinner who’s latest release, One Bullet Left, is some solid rock and roll in the vein of glamorous heavy metal. Rocking the world since 1982, Sinner is a veteran hard rock act that hasn’t received a ton of attention outside their home country of Germany. While they’ve always been a big hit in Europe, their success never translated over to the states, which is a shame. Sinner is a solid hard rock band and their latest effort, One Bullet Left, is an enjoyable record, especially if you are tired of all the same whiny modern rock that currently rules the US airways.
The title track on One Bullet Left is a foot stomping, hard rocking, heavy beating, good time song. With a sing-along, chanting chorus and some wicked leads by guitarist Christof Leim, “One Bullet Left” is pure fun. Isn’t that what music is supposed to be anyway—a muse that puts a smile on your face? Once you are singing along with Sinner on “One Bullet Left,” you’ll be grinning from ear to ear.
Sinner’s cover of “Atomic Playboys,” originally done by Steve Stevens in 1989, is magnificent. Sinner’s version of the song is a perfect replica of the original, an homage to the art of an amazing tune that never got it’s recognized due. Sinner performs this deep classic to perfection and it was a real treat hearing this song covered properly. Sinner gets their due for replicating such an obscure, yet enjoyable, metal treat.
Although he’s been leading the microphone since the early 80s, lead vocalist Mat Sinner still sounds like a young, hungry rocker at heart. His voice has not deteriorated over the decades, and while he won’t wow you with overpowering metal scream high notes, his dark, gritty voice is a perfect complement to the hard rock music that the band lays out. Doubling as the bassist (and lead songwriter) for the band keeps Mat Sinner very busy. One Bullet Left is mostly his creation, and it’s a good one. It’s been three years since the band’s last release, but the wait for a new album was worth it. Sinner has delivered a rocking record.
Overall, One Bullet Left is a solid album for fans of hard rock. If you are seeking out a banging album that isn’t overplayed and mainstream, then veteran act Sinner’s One Bullet Left is a disc you will enjoy. Their latest album is a hard rocking good time for the ears. It’s definitely worth a few listens.
Rating: Out of 10
- The One You Left Behind
- Back On Trail
- Give & Take
- One Bullet Left
- 10 2 Death
- Atomic Playboys
- Suicide Mission
- Wake Me When I’m Sober
- Mind Over Matter
- Mend To Be Broken
- Rolling Away
Mat Sinner – Vocals, Bass
Alex Beyrodt – Guitars
Christof Leim – Guitars
Alex Scholpp – Guitars
Andre Hilgers– Drums
Halcyon (hal-see-uh’n) – adj. – calm, peaceful, tranquil
Imagine that Cookie Monster meets hair metal and they fall in love. The offspring of their nuptials would be Halcyon Way, an exceptional progressive/doom/glam metal band that is offering their latest round of intense music for the masses in the form of Indoctrination. Halcyon Way blends doom metal, progressive metal, and 80s metal in perfect harmony for the greater good of music. The vocals of lead singer, Steve Braun are the perfect contrast to the gravelly rock voice of death vocalist, Kris Maltenieks, and it is noticed immediately on the opening track, “On Black Wings.” The end result of that serene mix is some exceptional music.
Part doom metal, part progressive metal, all heavy metal – Halcyon Way has released a strong album in Indoctrination. Even though several songs contain cookie monster vocals, Braun’s high notes make the songs fresh and enjoyable. Fortunately, Braun is the dominate voice on this album. However, the direction that Halcyon Way took to sprinkle in the death vocals makes the two contrasting voices work well together. It’s like enjoying a good plate of sweet and spicy wings. Most of the journey is an enjoyable savory taste, and every now and then the bitters are thrown in to snap the senses to life and make the listener aware.
The songs on Indoctrination are layered with multiple levels of musical genius. Each song was painstakingly crafted with numerous changes and arrangements to provide the most ear enjoyment possible for the fan. It is truly an honor to hear such art in the finished format. Phenomenal guitar work overlaying both angelic and devilishly gruff vocals mixed in with one of the best drummers in rock and roll (Ernie Topran) make Indoctrination an album worth owning. Although ripe with double bass throughout most of the record, Topran makes enough changes and spectacular rhythms to prove that he is in the elite of the drumming world.
Indoctrination is metal at its finest. If you prefer your rock dark and heavy with a touch of glam, you will love Indoctrination by Halcyon Way. To learn more about the band or to order a copy of Indoctrination, visit www.halcyonway.com.
Rating: Out of 10
- On Black Wings
- Our Finest Hour
- Revolution Is Now
- The Wages Of War
- Stand Up
- The Age Of Betrayal
- The System
Halcyon Way Is:
Steve Braun – Lead Vocals
Jon Bodan – Lead Guitar
Ernie Topran – Drums
Kris Maltenieks – Bass Guitar, Death Vocals
Zane – Rhythm Guitar
Any time a new album is released that causes fists to fly in the crisp night air, legs to pump at Olympic athletic speed, and rock screams to unleash in howling yowls, it has to be grand. Megadeth’s latest album Th1rt3en is exactly that. Once again, Dave Mustaine and company came to the party and showed all the other so-called metal bands how heavy metal is meant to played. It’s just one of the many reasons why Megadeth is as high in the hard rocking ranks as bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, and WASP.
Th1rt3en is an amazing collection of blistering metal songs for those who love to bang their heads, or just feel the energy that heavy metal music brings. With bassist Dave Ellefson providing a signature classic sound to the bass lines, Megadeth has taken their music creation to the next level. Galloping bass lines dominate Thirt3en and provide a steady backdrop along with Shawn Drover’s incredible drums, keeping the rhythm section sturdy.
Overlaying the phenomenal combination of bass and drums is some stellar guitar work by both Dave Mustaine and Chris Broderick. Broderick and Mustaine not only remind us what guitar solos are, they also remind us why we love them so much. Songs like “New World Order” and “Fast Lane” feature blazing solos that scream magnificence. It would be pure pleasure to see these amazing solos performed in concert. The wizardry that Mustaine and Broderick highlight in their effective finger picking mastery is nothing short of astonishing. If every guitarist focused this much time and effort into their song crafting, the metal world would be a much better place.
What’s most interesting about Megadeth’s Th1rt3en is how the second half of the album is so much greater than the first. Upon spinning the first five songs of the record, I was worried that we had a dud on our hands. It’s not that the opening five tracks are horrible (except maybe “Guns, Drugs, & Money” – which is a bad song), but they aren’t up to the excellence that comes later. The beginning of the album had me concerned. Fortunately, Megadeth showed that they still know how to rock like no one else’s business beginning with the sixth cut of the record, “Never Dead.”
Themes of fast, muscle cars tearing down the highway, women destroying the well made niche of man, and the over-involvement of government in the daily life of citizens all run rampant throughout the record. Constructed as only the genius of Megadeth could, the band has compiled lyrics on topics that make the listener think and perhaps want to learn a little bit more about their country and their place in politics. If that wasn’t enough for the average fan, the band threw in some songs about hot babes and slick driving machines. All walks of life are covered and all parties get to go home happy.
Thirt3en is one of Megadeth’s strongest albums to date. At this stage of their career, the band could have phoned it in, released a record of re-recorded material, or decided to try some experimental path, but they didn’t. They instead decided to focus and produce an album worthy of the fans and the band’s moniker. Make no mistake about it— Th1rt3en is a lucky number if you are a Megadeth fan.
Rating: Out of 10
Notable Tracks: New World Order, Fast Lane, 13
- Sudden Death
- Public Enemy No. 1
- Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)
- We The People
- Guns, Drugs, & Money
- Never Dead
- New World Order
- Fast Lane
- Black Swan
- Millennium Of The Blind
- Deadly Nightshade
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Lead and Rhythm Guitars
Chris Broderick – Lead and Rhythm Guitars
Dave Ellefson – Bass Guitar
Shawn Drover – Drums
On their latest release, Big Money, House of Lords reminds us yet again what an underrated band they are. Their last release (2009’s Cartesian Dreams) was so grand that it ranked on my top ten hard rock records of the year list (no easy feat). With singer James Christian still sounding magnificent on the microphone and his current bandmates following suit on their respective instruments, House of Lords prove once again that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Big Money opens with the hard rocking title track that immediate reminds the listener of why House of Lords is such a great band. Packed with strong guitar riffs, a heavy handed drum beat by B.J. Zampa, and some solid vocals by James Christian, “Big Money” is as strong an opener for a record as they come. James Christian can still pack a wallop when singing a tune. His voice sounds as magnificent today as it did back in 1989 when the band debuted. Father time has been very kind to James Christian’s voice.
Proving they can still belt out a ballad with the best of them, House of Lords included “The Next Time I Hold You,” on this record. A powerful love-fest of a song, cigarette lighters will be out in full force if the band decides to play this in concert. House of Lords was kind enough to remind us all what a power ballad should sound like and delivered a superb one in “The Next Time I Hold You.” With exceptional vocals, a solid guitar solo, and a classic arrangement, this is a fantastic ballad and one of the best tracks on the disc.
Synthesizers dominate the music throughout Big Money, making it sound like a harder edged Europe. While House of Lords has always had keyboards in their music, I can’t recall an album where they dominated the landscape of the music as much as they do on Big Money. The added element doesn’t take away from the music, but the disc may have benefited from more guitar solos and less synth work. There are areas on the record screaming for a guitar solo, only to be filled in by some keyboards. That’s not to take away from the great work that keyboardist Jeff Kent has done, but some more solos from Jimi Bell would have helped on certain songs.
Following the mantra of “always leave them wanting more,” House of Lords waited for the final track of the disc to unleash their best song. “Blood” is a hard rocking masterpiece that includes outstanding vocals, a ripping guitar solo, and arena pounding drums. The synthesizers were reduced to a background rhythm section, making “Blood” a much heavier song than most of the album.
Overall, House of Lords have produced another solid record that is worth seeking out and adding to your collection. With any luck, we may see this band on some of the festival bills in 2012. A stop at M3 would be real nice! With new music to support, I suppose that anything is possible.
Rating: Out of 10
- Big Money
- One Man Down
- First To Cry
- Someday When
- Livin’ In A Dream World
- The Next Time I Hold You
- Run For Your Life
- Once Twice
House Of Lords Is:
James Christian – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Jimi Bell – Guitar
Chris McCarvill – Bass Guitar
B. J. Zampa – Drums
Jeff Kent – Keyboards
Sebastian Bach is back with a new album, a new(er) band, and a whole new attitude. Fans expecting to hear a new incarnation of hair metal should keep on walking. This is new Bach, and it is highly transformed from old Bach.
The first exceptionally noticeable trait on Sebastian Bach’s latest CD, Kicking And Screaming is how unique the sound is when compared to past Bach. While Sebastian mentioned in several interviews that the new disc was going to be decidedly different from anything he’s previously recorded, it’s hard to know what that means until actually hearing the disc. Bach was not kidding. Fans purchasing Kicking And Screaming hoping to hear regurgitated hair metal from days gone by are in for a big disappointment. Kicking And Screaming is a Sebastian Bach solo record like none that has been heard before and that is great news for metal fans.
Bach’s voice has changed for this release. Known for his primal metal screams and magnificent yowls that ruled the hairspray rock back in the day, Bach has followed more of a modern trend for Kicking And Screaming. The yodeling has been pushed aside for more of an alternative rock sound. Blend together the sounds of Seether, Three Days Grace, Shinedown, Soundgarden, and a lot of London LeGrand, and the end result will be Bach’s voice on Kicking And Screaming. It’s neither a good thing nor a bad thing, but it is different. So different that it is immediately noticeable and after a couple of spins through the disc, it’s likeable. The lengths that Bach went to be more than a cliché of his former self shows and it is a welcome breath of fresh air.
After seeing Sebastian Bach live at this year’s M3 Festival, I knew that young guitar wizard, Nick Sterling, was an exceptional talent. However, once I heard his work on Kicking And Screaming I was reminded of Steve Vai on David Lee Roth’s Yankee Rose. Sterling is close to being that elite and his chops on the album are astonishing. Layered with intense solos and spectacular finger picking, Nick Sterling is every bit as good as Sebastian Bach proclaimed him to be. As lead guitarist for Bach’s band, he provides a fresh and invigorating style of guitar that brings out the best in each song. Nick Sterling is the future sound of hard rocking guitarists, and if he keeps up this great work, he is going to be remembered forever. Like Johnny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd before him, this young superstar can be the next IT guitarist. Let’s just hope he keeps his head on straight and doesn’t fade away into the fold.
Overall, if you are seeking a great hard rock album with a modern spike, purchase a copy of Kicking And Screaming. However, if you are looking for old school Bach ala the Skid Row days, you might want to take a pass. There is no Aqua Net required to enjoy this album.
Notable Tracks: Dance On Your Grave, Long As I Got The Music, Dream Forever
Rating: Out of 10
- Kicking And Screaming
- My Own Worst Enemy
- Dance On Your Grave
- Caught In A Dream
- As Long As I’ve Got The Music
- I’m Alive
- Dirty Power
- Live The Life
- Dream Forever
- One Good Reason
- Lost In The Light
Sebastian Bach Is:
Sebastian Bach – Lead Vocals
Nick Sterling – Lead Guitar
Johnny Chromatic – Rhythm Guitar
Rob DeLuca – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
I must admit that after hearing the opening track, “Growin’ Up In California,” from the latest Night Ranger disc, I was a little disappointed. It appears that Night Ranger was listening to Motley Crue’s Saints Of Los Angeles a little too much before hitting the studio to record Somewhere In California. Their history of Hollywood and playing the early clubs is a clear rip off of the Crue’s “Down At The Whiskey”. It’s unfortunate, because the rest of Somewhere In California is classic Night Ranger and a boatload of fun.
The overall sound on Somewhere In California is vintage, mid-80s Night Ranger. The band was able to travel to their best known period of work and conjure up the golden sound from back in the day. With themes of women, good times, and rock and roll Somewhere In California harkens back to the carefree, easy days of the 80s that most people may have forgotten.
At the heart of the vocals on Somewhere In California is Jack Blades, still singing his ass off after all these years. And while Blades’ voice may sound a little older, it doesn’t take away from what Night Ranger set out to accomplish. Older doesn’t mean worse; it just means aged, like a fine wine. Blades’ voice is in exceptional form, it just lacks the power that was there 20 years ago, and that should be expected.
Guitarist Brad Gillis can still play guitar at a very high level and the solos on songs like “Growing Up In California” and “Say It With Love” prove that. Gillis and guitarist Joel Hoekstra play off each other well, and the addition of Eric Levy’s keyboards acting as a third guitar at times, blends the music together beautifully. Not many bands know how to integrate the keyboard sound into their rock songs, but Night Ranger pulls it off effortlessly and effectively.
If you were a fan of Seven Wishes or Big Life, you are going to fall in love with Somewhere In California. This is classic Night Ranger the way we remember them and the way they were meant to sound. The high flying fun stands out throughout the album and while there is the expected (and almost required) ballad of the album, for the most part, Night Ranger has decided that it is better to rock out. And since they do it so well, who are we to argue? If you’re searching for that 80s sound that will have you reaching for your Aqua Net and acid washed jeans, get yourself a copy of Somewhere In California.
Notable Tracks: Bye, Bye Baby (Not Tonight), Follow Your Heart, Say It With Love
Rating: Out of 10
- Growin’ Up In California
- Lay It On Me
- Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)
- Follow Your Heart
- Time Of Our Lives
- No Time To Lose Ya
- Live For Today
- It’s Not Over
- End Of The Day
- Rock N Roll Tonite
- Say It With Love
Night Ranger Is:
Jack Blades – Lead Vocals, Bass Guitar
Kelly Keagy – Drums, Vocals
Brad Gillis – Guitars
Joel Hoekstra – Guitars
Eric Levy – Keyboards
Call it thrash. Call it hard. Call it heavy. Whatever you call it, Havok’s Time Is Up can best be described as a powerful heavy metal trip of fun. Upon hearing the opening drumbeats of “Prepare For Attack,” it’s obvious that something special, heavy, and hard is going to be displayed for the next 30 plus minutes. Blending bits of Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, and hard core punk, Havok is a delightful kick to the midsection of heavy metal mayhem. Their sophomore album, Time Is Up proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The guitar work of Reece Scruggs is some of the most brilliant finger picking that I’ve heard on a metal record. The clarity of the notes at the speed he performs is mesmerizing. Undoubtedly the most stand out member (musically) of the group, Scruggs really takes guitar playing to the upper echelon of fantastic. I could sit and listen to him play all day long.
“No Amnesty” starts off with a strange sound effect before the drums and guitars kick in like the cops busting up a wild party. The pacing is unbelievable and it’s a true wonder how drummer Pete Webber’s arms don’t fall off while pounding the skins for this song. If you’ve been searching for something to bang your head hard to while thrusting your horns in the air and jumping around like a madman without a mosh pit, “No Amnesty” is the song for you.
“Scumbag In Disguise” is a great ode to those who hide their criticisms behind modern technology like Twitter and Facebook. While it could also be an ode to critics who have nothing positive to say, the message in “Scumbag In Disguise” is clear—if you’re a troll, no one cares what you have to say. With sharp, biting lyrics surrounded by an outstanding Reece Scruggs guitar solo, this is one of the best tracks on Time Is Up.
The dark, ominous intro of “The Cleric” sets the stage for the greatness that follows. If Iron Maiden were to release a thrash song, it would sound like “The Cleric.” This is the darkest (and perhaps the strongest) song on Time Is Up. The deeper meaning of the lyrics is clear once you are able to get past the fantastic music. It’s obvious that Sanchez is writing about certain world leaders and corporate CEOs. The message that their greed will do them in at the end is plain. Sung with a bit of anger, “The Cleric” is a superb song that plays to all the strengths of this band.
If you like your metal hard, heavy, and fast, then Havok’s Time Is Up is the record for you. Filled with raw power, thundering drums, and blistering guitar work, Time Is Up is one of the coolest records to come out this year. It’s fist pumping, metal screaming rock at its finest and it’s now available for your ears to enjoy exclusively.
Rating: Out of 10
- Prepare For Attack
- Fatal Intervention
- No Amnesty
- Covering Fire
- Killing Tendencies
- Scumbag In Disguise
- The Cleric
- Out Of My Way
- Time Is Up
David Sanchez – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Reece Scruggs – Lead Guitar
Jesse De Los Santos – Bass Guitar
Pete Webber – Drums
In 1990, Whitesnake embarked on a World Tour in support of their (then) latest album, Slip Of The Tongue. One of the stops made during that tour was in Donnington, Berkshire England as headliners of the Monsters Of Rock Festival. Their fateful headlining performance was recorded with the intention to release a live album the following year. Unfortunately for Whitesnake fans, the live album was shelved and never heard from again…until now. Whitesnake has released a double live album (and a companion DVD) of the entire Donnington concert and their fans should rejoice. This live set is amazing!
Back in 1990, Whitesnake was at the peak of their stardom. Three years earlier they had released their biggest album to date, the self-titled Whitesnake that went on to sell millions of copies. Their follow up, Slip Of The Tongue was just as grand, and featured new guitarists Steve Vai and Adrian Vandenberg (replacing the much beloved John Sykes), along with Rudy Sarzo on bass and Tommy Aldrige on drums. This was an entirely different lineup than the one that recorded the magnificent eponymous CD. Slip Of The Tongue would be the last Whitesnake album released in the US for 18 years. That is part of the reason that fans were anxious to see the Donnington CD get an official release. The other part of the reason is because the performance was one of the best the band has ever done.
Opening with “Slip Of The Tongue” and coming out onstage with rampant energy, Whitesnake proved immediately what headlining rockers should do at a festival. While it was expected that the band would play a few tracks to help promote their new album, the classics were plenty and arrived early as well. “Slow And Easy,” “Slide It In,” and “Cheap And Nasty” all showed up toward the beginning of the set, much to the delight of the fans.
Key moments throughout the live CD set include both Adrian Vandenberg’s guitar solo as well as Steve Vai’s. Both of these gentlemen are exceptional guitarists in their own right, and I often forget that they were in the same band for a brief time. Hearing the stunning work that they put into their respective solos was a real treat to the musical ear. If for no other reason (even thought there are plenty) these solos make this album worth owning.
A magnificent version of “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City” complete with the audience serenading the band shows up in the encore just before the show stopping, “Still Of The Night.” This one-two combination is an exceptional way to close out a concert and had me yearning to see the band live again. I only wish that I could build a time machine and see this rendition of Whitesnake live on stage. However, since time travel has not become available without a flux capacitor, plutonium, and a boatload of money, we will just have to settle for the next best thing — Whitesnake Live At Donnington 1990. This 2-disc set is worth every penny that you spend on it.
Rating: Out of 10
Slip Of The Tongue
Slide It In
Slow An Easy
Kitten’s Got Claws
Adaigo For Strato
Flying Dutchman Boogie
Is This Love
Cheap And Nasty
Crying In The Rain
Fool For Your Loving
For The Love Of God
The Audience Is Listening
Here I Go Again
Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City
Still Of The Night
Whitesnake (circa 1990)
David Coverdale – Vocals
Steve Vai – Guitar
Adrian Vandenberg – Guitar
Rudy Sarzo – Bass
Tommy Aldridge – Drums
Their time has come! The classic gems of modern day Iron Maiden are finally being collected on a late era only, 2-disc compilation. Donning their hits from 1990 – 2010, Iron Maiden has released a 2-disc set of powerful songs tilted From Fear To Eternity. The title is a nice word play off two of Iron Maiden’s better known hits from the early 90s. From Fear To Eternity is a great tribute to latter day Iron Maiden songs that seem too often to be ignored.
Obviously the fans love the classic material. If you’re seeking a collection of Maiden’s 80s hits, Somewhere Back In Time was released in 2008 and can be easily found. However, if you’ve been wondering what the band has been up to lately, but haven’t picked up any of their newer albums, this is the collection for you.
Not since 2005’s Essential Iron Maiden set have this many post modern Maiden tunes been available in one collection. Combining classics like “Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter” with modern smashes like “These Colours Don’t Run” is excellent work. And while there are some key tracks that have been excluded (most notably “Futureal” from Virtual IX), the songs that are included pack quite the wallop.
Some of the key moments on this 2-disc collection of hits come from the past decade of Maiden greatness. “Coming Home,” “For The Greater Good Of God,” and “Paschendale” all show the brilliance that Maiden has recently crafted. If you haven’t given the newer music a chance, then this is a fantastic way to reintroduce yourself to the band. The last four Iron Maiden studio albums have all been brilliant and some of the best tracks from each of those discs are captured on From Fear To Eternity.
Another nice inclusion is the rare B-side “Man On The Edge” live with Bruce Dickinson singing lead vocals. I’m not sure what tour this was recorded during, but it was nice to hear Dickinson’s take on the song. However, the decision to not include any songs that Blaze Bayley sang on comes as quite a disappointment. His rendition of “Afraid To Shoot Strangers” is exceptional and it would have been nice to see a few songs with his vocals featured on this set. As it is though, the band opted to only include the Bruce Dickinson versions of all the tracks.
As happens with any greatest hits package, there are bound to be debates over the songs that were not included in the final cut. Both “Wildest Dreams” and “The Final Frontier” are surprising absences on From Fear To Eternity. Other missed opportunities include: “From Here To Eternity,” “The Angel And The Gambler,” and “Journeyman,” just to name a few.
Overall From Fear To Eternity is a great collection of repackaged material. It you own the entire Maiden catalog, feel free to skip over this set. If you’ve missed out on some of the latter material though, then this is the perfect album to catch you up.
U.S. fans can get free downloads of the songs, “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg, and “The Wicker Man” at this link. Check it out!!
Rating: Out of 10
- The Wicker Man
- Holy Smoke
- El Dorado
- Different World
- Man On The Edge (Live)
- The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
- Blood Brothers
- Rain Maker
- Sign Of The Cross (Live)
- Brave New World
- Fear Of The Dark (Live)
- Be Quick Or Be Dead
- No More Lies
- Coming Home
- The Clansman (Live)
- For The Greater Good Of God
- These Colours Don’t Run
- Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter
- Afraid To Shoot Strangers
- Dance Of Death
- When The Wind Blows
Iron Maiden Is:
Bruce Dickinson – Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass
Janick Gers – Guitar
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar
Nicko McBrain – Drums
Mean Streak ‘s latest disc, Declaration Of War, is just what the title proclaims. Filled with war themed songs, boot-stomping anthems, and powerful music that explodes in your eardrums like a well tossed hand grenade, Declaration Of War is a praiseworthy, intense, hard rock album. Declaration Of War is this Swedish metal band’s second release, and although I am not familiar with their first album, I may just have to seek it out after hearing this disc.
If Jim Gillette from Nitro joined Manowar to form a band, Mean Streak is exactly what the band would sound like. Talented guitarist, David Andersson gives Nitro’s Michael Angelo Batio a run for his money as one of the best guitarists in thrash/speed/doom metal. At one time it was claimed that Batio was the fastest guitarist in all the metal world. After hearing Declaration Of War, I can guarantee that Andersson could outplay him.
David Andersson has a talent not found in many guitarists. He plays fast. He plays heavy. He plays clean. That last comment is the most important. Most guitarists that play fast or heavy tend to distort their sound or blend it in with special effects, whammy bars, etc. Not Andersson. When he shreds the guitar on songs like “As You Sow You Shall Reap” and “In For The Kill,” you can hear every note as clearly as the ringing of a bell. Andersson is an amazing talent and truly helps Mean Streak stand out from the rest of the pack.
However, great guitar work isn’t the only wonderful thing about Mean Streak. They also come equipped with one of the greatest lead vocalists since the dawn of Bruce Dickinson. Lead singer Andy La Guerin is a talent that needs to be heard. A more prominent howler than Dickinson in his prime, La Guerin can give a rock scream/metal yodel like none that has ever been heard. His voice is intense and mighty, and compliments Andersson’s guitar work beautifully. Together, the two are a supreme talent.
Mean Streak is a complete band. They have a phenomenal vocalist in La Guerin and one of the greatest guitar players on the metal scene in Andersson. For most bands, that would be enough, but Mean Streak pushes it to the next level by composing complex, progressive songs in the vein of newer Iron Maiden. Each song on Declaration Of War builds up over time and develops into something more than what it starts as. The intricate details in each track will demand multiple listens for many months to come. Layered guitar work by both Andersson and Patrick Gardberg accompanied by Peter Andersson’s galloping bass lines cement the music firmly in greatness. If you’re a fan of progressive, thrash metal, you are going to love Declaration Of War.
Another notable band to hail from Sweden, Mean Streak is definitely worth checking out. Declaration Of War is an amazing album and one that should catapult Mean Streak into the next stratosphere of metal greatness. If you want to treat yourself to some great music that is simply irresistible, pick up a copy of Declaration Of War.
Notable Tracks: “In For The Kill,” “No Man’s Land,” “Sons Of Metal”
Check out Mean Streak on MySpace!
Rating: Out of 10
- Declaration Of War
- In For The Kill
- Crimson Sky
- The End Of The Rainbow
- As You Sow You Shall Reap
- No Mans Land
- Brothers Til The End
- Sons Of Metal
- Sign In The Sky
- History Of Lies
- The Oblation
Andy La Guerin – Vocals
Peter Andersson – Bass
Jonas Kallsback – Drums
David Andersson – Lead Guitar
Patrick Gardberg – Guitar
If you were a fan of hard rock in the late 80s, then you are most likely familiar with Kingdom Come. When their self titled debut was released in 1988, Kingdom Come was all over the radio. Unfortunately for the band, too many people thought that Led Zeppelin had reunited. It was a joke that still haunts the band to this day. It also takes away from the quality of their first two albums (Kingdom Come and In Your Face) which are two of the greatest hard rock albums released in the late 80s.
There is a huge problem with Kingdom Come’s latest release, Rendered Waters, and it has nothing to do with the way the disc sounds. The music is quite incredible and long time fans will enjoy this album. However, the problem that stems from Rendered Waters is the band’s decision to re-record tracks from previous albums and then add in some new songs. If the band wanted to release a greatest hits album, then they should have done it the proper way, by releasing the original versions of these classic songs.
To me, this decision is just plain lazy. A greatest hits album by Kingdom Come would be a welcome treat. A new album by Kingdom Come would be a welcome treat (especially after hearing the new tracks on Rendered Waters). However, the decision to re-record songs and release them now shows a lackadaisical attitude toward the fans.
As for the songs themselves, they are terrific. While I still prefer the original versions of songs like “Pushing Hard” and “Seventeen” the re-worked versions have a nice ring to them. Lenny Wolf is no longer the screamer from the 80s; his voice has mellowed with time. This provides new insight to the songs and adds some harmony that was not present on the original versions. That’s not to say the new versions are better (or worse for that matter) they are just different takes on classic songs.
On “Pushing Hard” it’s all too evident that Wolf can no longer hit the high notes like he did during his heyday. That doesn’t mean the revamped version of this track sounds awful, because that is not true. However, if fans already own the earlier version, this reworked track does not add anything in the way of musical depth. The band would have been better served to just leave well enough alone.
The new tracks on the album are solid and only leaving you wanting more.”Blue Tree”s is classic rock done in the modern style that sounds amazing. From the opening drum beats to the intense guitar work of Eric Foerster, this is a great song that shows the direction Kingdom Come’s music is heading in. That direction is a welcome one. Wolf’s voice is strong on this track and makes it obvious that the man is still an exceptional singer.
“Is It Fair” starts with a cool riff from Foerster that bleeds into the entire track. Foerster and Wolf show they are a great guitar tandem on this cut. The solo is intense and overall, “Is It Fair” is an enjoyable song. While the basic back beat of the tune is simple in structure, the overall combination of the band’s ability to play great music with Wolf’s vocals sounding as sweet as ever, make this a solid new song.
“Don’t Remember” proves to be the shortest of all the songs on Rendered Waters, but that doesn’t make it the weakest. A slow, melodic, powerful ballad, “Don’t Remember” is another great new song added to Rendered Waters. Foerster’s solo is an amazing treat and really ties the entire song together while showing off his incredible guitar playing ability. “Don’t Remember” is a song that fans are bound to fall in love with.
Rendered Waters is like a visit with an old friend. The memories that you share are the same in theme, but the stories get a little longer and little more embellished, as is the case when any old friends get together. Hopefully for their next album, Kingdom Come will move forward and provide us with a full album of new material. That would be a true gift from an old friend.
- Can’t Deny
- The Wind
- Blue Trees
- Should I
- I’ve Been Trying
- Pushing Hard
- Is It Fair
- Living Out Of Touch
- Don’t Remember
- Break Down The Wall
Kingdom Come Is:
Lenny Wolf – Vocals/Guitar
Frank Binke – Bass
Eric Foerster – Guitar
Nader Rahy – Drums
It’s hard to believe that a mega-rock star such as David Coverdale would have trouble finding love. He’s rich, charismatic, still decent looking, and a well known entertainer. One would think that the girls are lining up to date him and that he would be able to take his pick for a love mate.
However, on Whitesnake’s latest album, Forevermore, themes of needing love, wanting love, and stealing love are rampant throughout. “Steal Your Heart Away”, “All Out Of Luck”, “Love Will Set You Free”, and “Easier Said Than Done” are the first four tracks on Forevermore. All four songs revolve around a similar theme — love. What was going through the mind of Mr. Coverdale while writing the lyrics to these songs?
That’s not to say that Forevermore is a sappy, heartsick, school boy, love fest. It is far from that. While there are the required ballads done in Whitesnake style (ala Is This Love), the majority of the record is rooted in hard rock. And with guitarist Reb Beach lighting it up much like he did on Winger’s last album (2009’s Karma) Forevermore is a treat for both Whitesnake fans and fans of hard rock.
Songs such as “I Need You (Shine A Light)” are notable, powerful, and pleasing to the ear upon first listen. “I Need You (Shine A Light)” is a fast moving, up tempo, hard rocking song that could be the best thing Whitesnake has produced in years. Coverdale’s voice sounds like the 80s all over again and the twin guitar attack from Beach and Doug Aldrich is pure joy for the music lover. The opening riff just screams “Summertime!” and if you close your eyes, you can feel the hot sun on your face and the highway miles rolling behind you. If this song doesn’t become a huge hit, there is something wrong with the music industry. It would be in the best interest of Whitesnake’s management to make sure that “I Need You (Shine A Light)” is released as a single.
Then there is the lighter side of this album. The soft acoustic “One Of These Days” is the perfect contrast to “I Need You (Shine A Light)” and is superbly placed to follow that massive rock single. These are complete book ends in the form of musical opposites. “One Of These Days” finds Coverdale’s voice sounding sweeter than ever. With a perfect blend of acoustic guitar and a dash of electric mixed in, “One Of These Days” weaves wonderfully through the listeners ears.
It’s obvious that Whitesnake took the recording of Forevermore seriously. Their vast catalog of music has served a number of hits over the years, and the band knew that they were up against their past. Rather than shy away from that challenge and try to recreate music they’ve already done, or churn out something that is total garbage, the band worked hard to put together a spectacular collection of songs that make a fantastic record.
Make no mistake, Forevermore, is an early front runner for record of the year. I don’t say that lightly, as I take my favorite albums very seriously. However, Forevermore has earned this early nomination. The hard work and dedication to the craft clearly shows in the finished product. If you’re a fan of Whitesnake, you need to own this album. If you’re a fan of hair metal, you need to own this album. If you’re a fan of rock music, well, you know…
Notable Tracks: I Need You (Shine A Light), One Of These Days, Fare Thee Well
- Steal Your Heart Away
- All Out Of Luck
- Love Will Set You Free
- Easier Said Than Done
- Tell Me How
- I Need You (Shine A Light)
- One Of These Days
- Love And Treat Me Right
- Dogs In The Street
- Fare Thee Well
- Whipping Boy Blues
David Coverdale – Vocals
Reb Beach – Guitar
Doug Aldrich – Guitar
Michael Devin – Bass
Briian Tichy – Drums
In case you weren’t certain where Sick Of It All hailed from or what type of music the band performs, they are happy to clarify. On the fourth track of the band’s latest album, Based On A True Story, lead singer Lou Koller leads the chant of “New York… Hardcore…!” Hardcore rock is definitely what Sick Of It All is all about.
Based On A True Story is the band’s first album in over four years. The band has been making hardcore rock and roll to the delight of their fans since 1986. Formed by Koller and his brother, guitarist Pete Koller, Sick Of It All exploded onto the hardcore scene in the mid-eighties and quickly rose the ranks to become one of the best known hardcore bands in existence.
While the opening tracks on Based On A True Story are only slightly above average, it’s the third song on the disc, “Dominated”, that really brings the record to life. Starting with a ripping beat and complimented with snarling, seething vocals by Lou Koller, “Dominated” is pure energy packed into just over 2 minutes of music.
“A Month Of Sundays” continues the greatness that “Dominated” started, with another hard rocking, kick in the ass song that will find you needing to jump around and scream for no apparent reason. A shout out to the early days of performing matinee gigs at CBGBs on Sunday afternoons, “A Month Of Sundays” re-lives the beginnings of the hardcore scene in New York City. The song references name drops of the Bowery, New York City, and a shout out to their future worldwide dominance. The references are made with style, as Sick Of It All remembers where they came from and where they were headed.
Toward the end of the album, the songs only get better. The second to last track, “Nobody Rules”, is the second to best track on the record. The music, especially the drums, is once again loud, proud, and fantastically hard. The chant of “Nobody Rules” sticks in your head and doesn’t go anywhere for a long time. It’s easy to hit repeat on this track several times, but don’t hit it too often. If you do, you’re apt to miss the best song on the record.
It’s rare that a band saves their best work for last. However, that is exactly what Sick Of It All has done on Based On A True Story. “Dirty Money” could be one of the best hard rock songs I’ve ever heard. With a beat that can only be described as intense speed, “Dirty Money” is an anthem to the evils of monetary desire. Between the groove of the music and the message in the lyrics, “Dirty Money” makes you think. And as with most great song that makes you think, you realize how magnificent music can be. “Dirty Money” is the strongest track on Based On A True Story and it leaves the listener wanting more.
Filled with thrash sounds that will leave your insides vibrating as you try to stop yourself from moshing in your living room, Based On A True Story is a hard and heavy album. While it contains moments of brilliance with certain songs, Based On A True Story suffers from similarity disease. Too many songs sound identical and at times it can be hard to determine where one song ended and the next began. Overall, this is an enjoyable record for its hard beats and raw power. However, Based On A True Story falls short of being a masterpiece.
Notable Tracks: Dominated, Nobody Rules, Dirty Money
- Death Or Jail
- The Divide
- A Month Of Sundays
- Bent Outta Shape
- Lowest Common Denominator
- Good Cop
- Watch It Burn
- Waiting For The Day
- Long As She’s Standing
- Nobody Rules
- Dirty Money
Sick Of It All Is:
Lou Koller – Vocals
Pete Koller – Guitar
Craig Setari – Bass
Armand Maijdi – Drums
Bullet is back with another head banging, hard rocking, ear splitting monster record, Highway Pirates. Coming off the phenomenal Bite The Bullet, Bullet was poised for quite a task to repeat such a great performance contained on their last record. Fortunately for both Bullet and their fans, the band was able to pull it off. The hard rocking, guitar shredding, heavy metal mayhem continues in stride on Highway Pirates.
Highway Pirates picks up right where Bite The Bullet left off, and while some fans may cry foul, it’s a perfect follow up. Not every album has to change direction and see a band growing musically while venturing into some different, astounding territory. Sometimes, if the formula works, then you stick with it. That’s exactly what Bullet has done with Highway Pirates much to the delight of my ears.
Highway Pirates launches with the title track and immediately there is no doubting who is blasting out of the radio speakers. Bullet is a loud, raw, in your face, heavy metal act that can pump up the juice in even the calmest of listeners. With ripping guitar work from Hampus Klang and Erik Almstrong,”Highway Pirates” sets the tone for the entire album, which is hard, heavy, and fast. This is true metal at its finest.
“Back On The Road” continues the shred fest of guitar genius. This song appears to be a sequel to “Road King” (from 2008’s Bite The Bullet) which is a delicious metal treat. “Road King” was one of the best songs from that album, and “Back On The Road” is another spectacular hard and heavy tune that’s sure to have heads banging in no time.
Dag “Hell” Hofer’s vocals sound as intense as ever on this record. His voice is a high powered tension wire that explodes through each song, screaming with energy and adding credibility to the music. As a lead vocalist, Hell Hofer is one of the best in the business. His vocal styling is one that many lead singers should envy. Filled with power, pitch, and ability, Hell Hofer is a vital part of what makes Highway Pirates so great.
Hampus Klang and Erik Almstrong are great guitarists in their own right. On Highway Pirates, they show other hard rock bands how guitars should be played. Their shred and rip style is ideal for the metal generation. The solos are clean and structured in perfect time with the intensity of the music. Klang and Almstrong go all out on tracks like Back On The Road, Blood Runs Hot, and Heavy Metal Dynamite. You would be hard pressed to find a better guitar tandem in the heavy metal genre.
The AC/DC influences can be heard all over Highway Pirates. Bullet takes the bar beat rock and roll to the next level by injecting some speed and thrash elements to the simplistic four bar sound. The results are simply amazing. Highway Pirates is a hard rocking hit that will not disappoint metal fans at all. Adding this metal music bliss to your collection is a smart move that would make your friends envious and showcase your hard rock genius.
- Highway Pirates
- Back On The Road
- Stay Wild
- Blood Run Hot
- Fire And Dynamite
- Down And Out
- Heavy Metal Dynamite
- City Lights
- Into The Night
Dag “Hell” Hofer – Vocals
Hampus Klang – Guitars
Erik Almstrong – Guitars
Gustav Hjortsjo – Drums
Adam Hector – Bass
The album cover really says it all. It depicts a flying pig, which indicates when fans thought that a fully reunited Mr. Big would release a new record. Much to their surprise, the band did reunite with all of the original members, and returned with one rocking record. What If… is the first album with all of the original bandmates since 1996. That’s quite a lot of time gone by. Mr. Big makes up for it in a big, big way, with a solid release that is ear pleasing and juice squeezing!
One point of amazement is how solid and sharp Eric Martin’s voice still sounds. Even after rocking the scene for more than three decades, his vocal prowess would put most (younger) modern rock singers to shame. Martin’s ability with his pipes is clearly evident and decorates What If… with class, making it a noteworthy record, not some lame reunion rehash that tends to happen when 80s hair metal bands “reunite”.
Slapping the bass like it’s the late 80s all over again, Billy Sheehan still has a unique, undeniable style. His funk-o-matic, slap bass, party sound is still going strong and even more enjoyable than can be remembered. What If… gives Sheehan a chance to really show off his talent while not stealing the spotlight entirely. That is a big part of what makes Mr. Big’s latest album so enjoyable.
Paul Gilbert is definitely back at home with Mr. Big. His guitar work never sounded better and his tantalizing solos were all crafted with an elegance meant to compliment Billy Sheehan’s bass playing like no other guitarist can. It’s a true win for the fans to see these wizards back in action again. The finger picking exchange and solo trade off, follow the leader, of guitar and bass on “Around The World” make this album worth the money spent to own it. It’s an amazing moment of musical record and one that demands repeat listens. Without a doubt the best track on What If… and one of the best songs in Mr. Big’s career.
While What If… may not contain a monster hit like “To Be With You” or “Green Tinted Sixties Mind” what is apparent is the fact that Mr. Big has released a record of solid tracks that all have merit. What If… is an album that not only feels right mixed in with the other glam bands, it also fits in with mainstream radio and modern rock releases. The album was well thought out, well performed, and well recorded. Mr. Big has a big hit in What If… as long as they can get a little bit of promotion behind the record. Long time fans are going to love this record. For those of us that may have forgotten all about Mr. Big, it’s time to pay them another visit.
Key Tracks: Stranger In My Life, As Far As I Can See, Around The World
- American Beauty
- Stranger In My Life
- Nobody Left To Blame
- Still Ain’t Enough For Me
- Once Upon A Time
- As Far As I Can See
- All The Way Up
- I Won’t Get In My Way
- Around The World
- I Get The Feeling
Mr Big Is:
Eric Martin – Vocals
Paul Gilbert – Guitars
Billy Sheehan – Bass
Pat Torpey – Drums
Whether it’s with Extreme, Van Halen, or on his own, one thing about Gary Cherone remains constant – the man can sing! He also seems to always be involved in great musical projects. That’s why when word came out regarding Hurtsmile, Cherone’s latest outing with his brother Markus, expectations were high. Once again Gary Cherone delivered.
One thing is eminent, Hurtsmile is not a hair metal record, but then, Extreme was never really a hair metal band no matter how often they got lumped into the category. Hurtsmile is a class unto itself – a modern rock record that would do well with some radio airplay.
Hurtsmile is an amalgamation of Cherone’s entire career. Elements of Extreme, his days in Van Halen, and his more recent solo projects are all evident in this debut disc. While sometimes biting and fast, and sometimes acoustic and soft, Hurtsmile is certainly one thing – rocking. Led by Markus Cherone’s powerful and striking guitar, Hurtsmile is an enjoyable ride through the valley of hard rock. Markus Cherone’s ability with the guitar rivals that of the other legendary guitarist Gary Cherone has worked with, Nuno Bettencourt. The first solo on lead song Just War Theory shows off Markus’ talent and the realization of his ability just grows from there.
Not to get lost in the advertising of the Cherone brothers are the rhythm section of Joe Pessia on Bass Guitar and Dana Spellman on drums. Their timing is impeccable and Spellman’s ability to keep the beat is something every musician should aspire to. These two are the perfect compliment to the Cherone brothers. The four musicians make some quality music together.
All is not perfect on Hurstsmile however. While most of the album is a solid rockfest, it does come with moments of limitations. A couple of songs (most notably Kaffur and Set Me Free) appear to be more filler than killer and only serve to hurt the album’s overall greatness. However, songs like Jesus Would You Meet Me and Slave more than make up for the shortcomings of those weaker songs. They are just a barely noticeably dip on the road of an otherwise fantastic musical journey.
Hard rocking and filled with gems, Hurtsmile is an album that fans of Gary Cherone are going to enjoy. The guitar work is simply outstanding and Gary Cherone’s voice is still strong and significant. The acoustic jam on Jesus Would You Meet Me alone is worth the price of the record. Hurtsmile delivers more than just one great song though. It comes with several to choose from. If you’ve been craving a hard rock record that will provide multiple listens, then pick up a copy of Hurtsmile. There will be plenty of return on your investment.
- Just War Theory
- Love Thy Neighbor
- Kaffur (Infidel)
- Painter Paint
- Tolerance Song
- Set Me Free
- Jesus Would You Meet Me
- Beyond The Garden – Kicking Against The Goads
- Just War Reprise
- The Murder Of Daniel Faulkner (4699)
Gary Cherone – Vocals
Markus Cherone – Guitars
Joe Pessia – Bass
Dana Spellman – Drums
The first thing that stands out on Gynger Lynn’s sophomore LP Baby’s Gone Bad (culled from material originally recorded in 1993) is the guitar work of Will Hair. Between blistering solos and clean notes, Will Hair stands out as the most talented member of this group. While I like lead singer Dean Pressley’s voice it is Will Hair’s ability with the ax that gives Baby’s Gone Bad some merit.
Oozing with 80s hair metal riffs, lyrics, and topics, Baby’s Gone Bad is a great album for the hair metal fanatic. Whether it’s singing about a girl, fast times, or partying, Gynger Lynn covers the 80s scene in full force for 16 tracks. Some of these songs are very catchy (Baby’s All Talk, Need To Know, Baby’s Gone Bad) and some are nothing more than filler (Take Me Away, Yes It’s True, The Chance).
Ultimately there is nothing outstanding or new in the presentation. Gynger Lynn is a band that would have made it big back in the day if they had the proper marketing. What that adds up to in 2011 is a mediocre effort that the nostalgic metal heads will love. That leaves little room to grow an audience though.
The power ballads on the album (of which there are several) do stand out and it’s these romantic jams that make Baby’s Gone Bad worth paying attention to. Pressley’s voice is a perfect companion to Will Hair’s moving guitar riffs and Gavin Jadwin’s keyboard playing. A quick listen to songs like Along The Way or Lonely, Lonely will leave you yearning for the innocent days of high school and your fringe leather jacket.
Part of the problem with Baby’s Gone Bad is that not enough songs were excluded from the album. If the band and the producer had decided to trim this album to 11 songs, it might be regarded as one of the strongest hair metal records released in quite a while. Unfortunately, Gynger Lynn decided to take the more is more approach which left a glaring error on the disc. Filler songs are far too many and actually take away from the stronger songs that stand out in their own right.
Overall, Baby’s Gone Bad isn’t a bad album; it’s just that it never rises above the level of average. If you’re seeking a hair metal sound from back in the day, Gynger Lynn is worth checking out. If you’re looking for a record that has depth and a little innovation, this is not the record for you. Hopefully for their next release Gynger Lynn will decide to write some current material that will include current topics. It would certainly be an interesting listen.
Key Tracks – Need To Know; Baby’s All Talk; Lonely, Lonely
- Take Me Away
- Need To Know
- Baby’s All Talk
- Along The Way
- Yes It’ True
- Need A Little Love
- Goin’ Home
- Lonely, Lonely
- Never Gone Find A Better Girl
- Wanna Be Your Lover
- The Chance
- Stay With Me
- Baby’s Gone Bad
- Way Of The World
- Bad Luck
It’s been years since Nelson has released any new material and even longer since they’ve had a radio hit (1991 to be precise). So, why would the band think that after all this time, they would be able to release a brand new album that fans would find relevant and want to add to their music collection? The answer is simple. Nelson still has talent. They proved that with their new release, Lightning Strikes Twice (due out in February in the US, available now in Europe). Lightning Strikes Twice is the perfect complement to After The Rain, even though it is several years (and several albums) removed from the Nelson debut.
Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are still a talented pair of twins with their father’s (Ricky Nelson) blessed ability with the gift of music. After several years away from the studio, the twins decided that it was time to record some new material and release it to the public. Whether they’ve been sitting on this material for years, or recently wrote it with a new album in mind is hard to tell, but one thing’s for certain – the material is excellent.
Officially billed as the sequel to 1990’s After The Rain, Lightning Strikes Twice is a true return to that era of good time, happy, rock and roll. It’s a return to a style of music that didn’t take itself too seriously and only cared about having a music party with a great groove. Lightning Strikes Twice has accomplished this feat with relative ease. Both Matthew and Gunnar sound incredible. Their voices have not aged over the years and there is no hint that either of them lost their ability behind the microphone.
Gunnar’s talent with the guitar is still fascinating. The solos on Lightning Strikes Twice are rich and deep, and while the basic structure of the songs can sometimes be “cheesy,” it’s that kind of corny that we are looking for to rescue us from the layered, over thought, overly produced hard rock of today. Gunnar and his guitar bring it back to the simplicity of yesteryear.
Thematically, Lightning Strikes Twice builds on the similar ground that produced Nelson’s chart topping debut album. Broken hearts, lots of parties, and the chivalrous, “boy rescues girl from bad relationship” are all present and accounting for. Sappy, romantic lines textured with high wailing guitar solos drench this record throughout. Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy wants girl in the worst way, boy doesn’t know how to tell girl he loves her… the list goes on and on. If you enjoyed (or still enjoy) After The Rain, then you are going to love Lightning Strikes Twice.
While the album is not groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, Lightning Strikes Twice is more about the fun factor. If you want to revisit the late 80s/early 90s without having to get nostalgic or find your own flux capacitor, listening to Lightning Strikes Twice is the best way to do it. Chock full of nothing but fun and happiness (even on the sad songs), this is a terrific album that you should get your hands on.
- Call Me
- Day By Day
- Ready, Willing, And Able
- How Can I Miss You?
- You’re All I Need Tonight
- To Get Back To You
- When You’re Gone
- Take Me There
- In It For The Money
- Change A Thing
- Kickin’ My Heart Around
At the risk of sounding like a giddy tween school girl having her first eargasm listening to a favorite boy band, American Bang’s self titled debut album is nothing short of phenomenal. I just want to jump up and down on my bed and scream my head off whenever I play this record. Not since Black Stone Cherry’s debut disc have I been this excited by listening to a rock album.
Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, American Bang is the perfect blend of southern rock, country, and hard modern rock. Their unique sound and style is what sets them apart from the other bands out there today. American Bang does not try to imitate anyone, instead they present themselves. That tactic has worked, because their self titled debut album is proof of what a fantastic group they are.
Lead singer Jaren Johnson’s voice is the standout component of American Bang. Johnson has a rock and roll throat with a southern twang that creates melodic, mesmerizing vocals. His talent behind the microphone is amazing and his ability really stands out on songs like “Wild And Young” and “I Wouldn’t Want To Be You”. Johnson’s unique vocal style helps to separate American Bang from the plethora of carbon copied new bands out there.
The praise of Johnson’s voice is not meant to undermine the ability of the rest of the band. Ben Brown’s lead guitar chops are superb, and the rhythm section of Kelby Ray (bass) and Neil Mason (drums) round out the group perfectly. This is a band that makes magic together and that magic is evident on their self titled debut.
“Wild And Young” is one of the best songs on the record and rightfully so. A terrific song about youth, enjoying the best years of your life and living for the moment, “Wild And Young” is a song that just makes the listener happy. Even if you’re crotchety and old, you will find the lyrics emulating from your mouth after a couple of listens. “Wild And Young” is a blazing song.
“Angels” kicks off with nice acoustic plucking and Johnson’s high twanged voice telling us a story. By the time the bridge has completed, we are in love with this song. It has a soft, sweet feel to it that captivates the senses. Angels will be a big radio hit, once American Bang decides they want to release it.
“She Don’t Cry No More” follows and hits a little harder, as this song is a more of a rocker than its predecessor. Fast guitar and a quick drum beat highlight this song as the rocking good time that it is. Bound to put a bounce in your step, “She Don’t Cry No More” is a blazing good time song.
“Wouldn’t Want To Be You” slows things down again, but not in a ballad way. This song has more of a bounce to it. An excellent groove kicks off the song and carries throughout. The bounce and twang lead into the chorus where the rhythm lifts to a slightly faster level, before settling down to the steady pace of the verse. Reminiscent of early Black Crowes, “Wouldn’t Want To Be You” is southern rock done right.
Overall, American Bang is a stellar debut album by a magnificent band. I see great things in the future for American Bang. They should be around for a while, rocking the masses. Be smart and get in on the greatness early by picking up a copy of their self-titled debut album.
Rating: Out of 10
- Whiskey Walk
- Wild And Young
- She Don’t Cry No More
- Hurts Like Hell
- All We Know
- Wouldn’t Want To Be You
- A Man Can Change
- Other Side Of You
- Roll On
American Bang Is:
Jaren Johnson – vocals, guitar
Ben Brown – guitar
Kelby Ray – bass
Neil Mason – drums
The return of 80s metal icons Y&T with a brand new album is something that had most fans salivating. After not releasing a new record since the 1990s, everyone was curious to see what the band could do in the studio. Their brand new record, Facemelter, is up for a tough test. Can a hard rock band that’s been silent from new material for more than a decade still deliver the goods? Dave Meniketti and company went into the studio to find out.
Facemelter starts out with a lot of promise. Although the intro “Prelude, On With The Show”, sounds like a rip off of Motley Crue’s “God Bless The Children Of The Beast”, the song “On With The Show” rocks hard and starts the record off right. Blazing guitar riffs combined with superb vocals by Meniketti solidify “On With The Show” as a spectacular album opener.
Classic 80s metal saturates Facemelter. Every song has either a large helping of 80s metal style, or at least a touch of the classic metal feel. “Shine On” is an example of 80s rock recaptured. This song sounds like it could have (and maybe should have) come out in 1989. Starting with a sweet, slow Meniketti riff, the drums build until Shine On explodes in classic guitar solos, hot vocals, and heavy rock. This is one of the strongest songs on the record, even if it feels a little dated.
Despite stealing Foreigner’s signature riff (RE: “Hot Blooded”), “Hot Shot” is another great Facemelter track. The song opens with the “Hot Blooded” riff (albeit slightly altered) and then bleeds into a more Y&T type of sound. Singing about women, rock and roll, and having a drinking good time, Hot Shot is a classic, sleazy, sexual innuendo that makes older listeners yearn for the glory days of yesteryear.
“Gonna Go Blind” is the most entertaining track on Facemelter. A tongue-in-cheek ode to sexual fantasy and self pleasuring, “Gonna Go Blind” is a humorous track with a hard rock backdrop. Meniketti sings about how a certain leisure activity will make him go blind. He never says what that activity is, but he doesn’t need to. The listener is intelligent enough to figure out by the end of the first verse. He’s gonna go blind because he does it all the time.
Overall, Facemelter fails to live up to the test of being a blistering hard rock record. It’s not that this is a bad album, just not a fantastic one. There are moments of greatness on this album and a couple of the songs will even cause a smile, a fist in the air, and a head bang. Overall though, Facemelter lacks the punch that one would expect from a heavy metal record.
While the stronger songs definitely stand out (“Shine On”, “Gonna Go Blind”), there is also unfortunately too much filler (“I Want Your Money”, “Blind Patriot”) to help set this record apart from the massive amount of music that is currently available. If you are a fan of 80s metal, or Y&T, then you should pick up a copy of Facemelter. If you’re looking for some innovative hard rock to bang your head to for hours at end, don’t bother. Facemelter is an album that may end up collecting dust after a few spins.
Rating: Out of 10
- Prelude, On With The Show
- On With The Show
- How Long
- Shine On
- I Want Your Money
- Wild Child
- I’m Coming Home
- If You Want Me
- Hot Shot
- Blind Patriot
- Don’t Bring Me Down
- Gonna Go Blind
- One Life
- Losing My Mind
Dave Meniketti – Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals
Phil Kennemore – Bass Guitar
John Nymann – Guitar
Mike Vanderhule – Drums
Have you been seeking out some new rock and roll that kicks you in the gut and makes you stand up and scream, “Hell Yeah!” Well, look no further than California’s Black Sunshine. Their self titled debut album was unleashed back in May, and my only regret is that I didn’t get my hands on this disc sooner. Wrapped in heavy riffs, dark tones, and blasting with rock and roll, Black Sunshine is a fun album to enjoy this summer.
Black Sunshine is fronted by the gritty vocals of lead singer Matt Reardon. His dirty voice (reminiscent of Josey Scott from Saliva) is a perfect match for the music that the rest of the band performs. Having been an extreme skier in a previous life, Reardon knows how to come at his audience hard, fast, and with astonishing results.
The lead single “Once In My Life” is a fantastic track. Opening with a slow, folksy build, the song bursts into hard and heavy about 40 seconds in. “Once In My Life” is a great overview of the “Black Sunshine” sound. Heavy on vocals and guitars, but rooted with a rhythm section that keeps perfect time, “Once In My Life” should be a modern rock radio hit in no time.
Guitarist Charles Lee showcases some of his hard chops throughout the record, most notably on the album’s best song, “Slave.” “Slave” is a masterpiece of music, brilliant in vocals, guitars, bass, and drums. The lyrics hit home hard, as Reardon sings about not wanting to be a slave to the 9 to 5 grind. We need to untie the noose and be set free. Go after what you want in life and don’t conform to what society tells you that you have to be. Nothing is more rock and roll than that. And coming from a guy who had to reinvent himself after a severe skiing accident nearly cost him his life, the message in “Slave” is that much more meaningful.
Want mellow tunes to compliment the heavy rockers? “Black Sunshine” has those too. “Cannonball” slows things down a bit, blending acoustic and electric guitars with soft drums and Reardon’s higher octave vocals. “Cannonball” is the classic, gritty, modern rock ballad done in the style of Hinder or Saliva. The music is slowed down, but still powerful, and the arrangement on this song is high quality. A powerful ballad, it’s almost certain that “Cannonball” will be released as a single sometime in the near future.
“Hell Yeah” is the only song on the album that was somewhat of a disappointment. A solid track overall, Black Sunshine followed the theme of Nickelback’s “Animal” but left the heaviest punches off of this track. The song tells the tale of the narrator having some fun with a girl that “grinds his gears” and telling her father not to wait up for them. Too familiar to Nickelback’s lines of “that’s her Dad outside the car” and “I got both hands on the wheel while she’s got both hands on my gear” but without the wit, “Hell Yeah,” was a bit of a letdown.
Filled with heavy guitars, an outstanding rhythm section, and a lead vocalist that has range and power, Black Sunshine is a fun band to listen to. Their eponymous debut album is loaded with riffs and beats that every hard rocker loves to hear. Bound to be a summer sensation, “Black Sunshine” is an album that should be added to every rock and roll collection. Without question, Black Sunshine is an exceptional group worth your attention. They certainly have my vote for best new band of 2010. Do yourself a favor and check out their hard rocking debut album, available in stores now.
Rating: Out of 10
- Holy Gasoline
- Burn To Shine
- Once In My Life
- Hell Yeah
- Flying Sideways
- Psycho Babble
Looking for hard rock that’s also a lot of fun? Well, Sweden’s Crashdiet’s “Generation Wild” is just what you’ve been seeking. A throwback to the old days of heavy metal, “Generation Wild” is a solid, L.A. Strip, 80s influenced, rock and roll disc.
Lead singer Simon Cruz has captured the high screech, high pitched, power vocals that make any sleaze/glam band stand out. Hitting the high notes with relative ease, Simon Cruz sets the tone for “Generation Wild.” The blistering guitar attack by guitarist Martin Sweet rounds out the songs nicely. While Sweet slices and dices, he also shreds it up and his work creates riff bliss that guitar hero fanatics are bound to love.
“Generation Wild” opens with the hard rocking song “Armageddon.” As an opening track “Armageddon” sets the pace for what is to come later on the disc. .With Cruz singing in the higher range, L.A. sleaze is written all over this tune. Think Dio meets early Dokken and you’ll start to get the picture.
“So Alive” comes up next and is a step down from the album’s first cut. “So Alive” is lacking in the guitar riffs that show up on other songs, which weakens this track. Where gut busting solos should be, a weaker, almost synthesizer-like guitar is being played. It’s a shame to hear that on a song that had so much potential.
The title track follows “So Alive” and more than makes up for the oversight of the previous song. “Generation Wild” the song is a heavy rocking return to fun. Complete with a song-along chorus that is bound to have everyone on their feet and chanting, “Generation Wild” is a kick ass song. Sweet’s solo is well played and the shreds he adds in throughout the song add plenty of body and life.
Unfortunately, “Generation Wild” never makes the transition from good/borderline great to exceptional. The reason for this is the mediocre middle tracks that lack the punch and force of songs like “Armageddon” and “Native Nature.” If the whole disc rocked that hard, it would be must have material. The middle songs just aren’t able to support the rest of the disc, and by the time this situation is rectified, the listener has already lost interest.
While some songs are clichéd, (“Rebel,” “So Alive”), and others are just a tad weak, “Generation Wild” is an overall good effort by Crashdiet. However, I would have liked to have heard grittier tunes to match the opening track of “Armageddon” or the later tracks of “Native Nature” and “Chemical.” That being said “Generation Wild” is sure to please fans of the 80′s metal scene. Chock full of glam and sleaze, Crashdiet’s disc has its moments of greatness that are able to overtake the weaker points and supply some glam rock and roll.
Rating: Out of 10
- 442 (intro)
- So Alive
- Generation Wild
- Save Her
- Down With The Dust
- Native Nature
- Bound To Fail
- Beautiful Pain
Holy $%^T! That was my initial reaction when I heard the latest Ozzy album, “Scream,” for the first time. I’ll admit I didn’t have high expectations out of the gate, but holy hell, what a record! Ozzy has proven that he still has it and maybe never lost it to begin with. “Scream” is an album that renews faith in the current state of rock and roll and solidifies Ozzy’s status as a rock god. Make no mistake, “Scream” rocks hard and rocks right.
“Scream” opens with the dark, heavy, and so enjoyable song, “Let It Die.” This dark heavy track opens the album with a boom and sets the tone for all that is to follow. Ozzy’s vocals are sharp and tough and the guitar playing by new Ozzy guitarist Gus G is blistering and emotional. Sure, everyone is going to miss Zak Wylde, but Gus G is a healthy replacement that quickly poses the question “Zak who?”
“Let Me Hear You Scream” picks up right where “Let It Die” left off and a better track could not have been chosen for the album’s first single. “Let Me Hear You Scream” is classic Ozzy at his best. This fast tempo rocker will have you pumping your fist in the air and singing along in a matter of seconds. With a chorus of “go hard or go home” Ozzy delivers on this mantra. “Let Me Hear You Scream” does rock hard and it’s a track that will most likely have the repeat button being hit multiple times.
“Soul Sucker” is the darkest song on the disc. With a heavy, Tony Iommi guitar and doctored reverb Ozzy vocals, “Soul Sucker” could be something off the latest Black Sabbath effort. The song draws deep on Ozzy’s roots of demonic music and blends perfectly with his newer pop subjects of love and lost love. The end result is one of the best Osbourne songs ever recorded.
“Life Won’t Wait” the requisite power ballad slows things down, but not in a negative way. This song still rocks hard, even for a ballad, and once again Gus G has the opportunity to show off his chops and skills as Ozzy’s latest, greatest guitarist. Drawing from the “No More Tears” period, “Life Won’t Wait” is certain to be a radio hit in the next few months. It’s a lovely ballad that shows the softer side of Ozzy and even includes a meaningful message of going after what you want now as opposed to later.
The heavy, hard rocking hits continue. “Diggin’ Me Down”, “Crucify”, and “Fearless” are all hard rocking mavens that please the ear in ways that most songs can’t. Full of grit, shredding guitar, and signature Ozzy vocals, these tracks are monster rock songs that help shape and solidify “Scream.”
Overall, Ozzy has really returned with his latest album. “Scream” is an unexpected masterpiece and front-runner for hard rock album of the year. Ozzy should consider playing a lot off material off this disc during his upcoming tour, because the fans deserve to hear it, and Mr. Osbourne should be very proud of what he has accomplished on “Scream.” This disc will make you scream… for joy!
Rating: Out of 10
- Let It Die
- Let Me Hear You Scream
- Soul Sucker
- Life Won’t Wait
- Diggin’ Me Down
- I Want It More
- Latimer’s Mercy
- I Love You All
Ozzy Osbourne Band Is:
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals
Gus G. – Guitars
Rob “Blasko” Nicholson – Bass
Adam Wakerman – Keyboards
Tommy Clufetos – Drums
The first thought that went through my head when I heard Skillet’s, Awake, was “why haven’t I heard of this band sooner?” Although they’ve been around since the late 90s, Skillet has somehow managed to escape my eardrums. Now that I’ve found them, I don’t plan to ever let them go.
Take Austin Winkler from Hinder and combine his voice with the music of Three Days Grace, and you’ll have a good understanding of what Skillet’s Awake sounds like. It’s an exceptional blend of modern and progressive rock that’s bound to get anyone on their feet and rocking.
Awake is an excellent introduction to the band. A hard rocking, progressive metal album that has a unique flavor to it, this disc is pleasure to the ears. If you like your rock and roll loud and proud, you are going to love Skillet’s Awake.
The album opens with the heavy hit, “Hero.” Lead singer John Cooper shares the vocals on this song with his wife Korey and the two voices complement each other very well. The opening guitar riff from Ben Kasica and the heavy synthesizer from Korey Cooper set the stage nicely for this hard pounding rock anthem.
“Monster,” the second track, continues the hard rock mayhem that is central to Awake. Kasica shows off exceptional guitar work and drummer Jen Ledger keeps the pace fast and furious with a steady drum beat. John Cooper’s vocals are strong on this track. Monster is a song that will have you head banging in no time.
You want ballads? Awake has those too. “Don’t Wake Me” is a soft acoustical journey through romance that would make Hinder fans jealous. “Don’t Wake Me” is an incredibly beautiful song that was well arranged with the perfect blend of acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and keyboard harmony. Bound to be a radio hit with the romantic ballad lovers, “Don’t Wake Me” shows the depth of Skillet. This is an incredible song that everyone is certain to love.
“One Day Too Late” is the best song on the album. Not only is it an instant rock classic, but the message in the music is a powerful one that makes the listener think. Starting soft and sweet, John Cooper talks about having so much to do and not knowing if there is enough time to accomplish it all. However, the message isn’t about getting a personal agenda taken care of. The message in this song is trying harder to do the things that matter most. Forgive your enemies. Forget the pains of the past. Do your best to make the world a better place, because tomorrow could be one day too late.
“Should’ve When You Could’ve” is another hard rocking hit that touches on themes of revenge in its best form, as a dish served cold. Cooper’s lyrics talk about no longer trusting a lover who could have been the only one. However, the moment was blown and the muse is going to miss the love they had. One day that will be realized and that’s when the revenge will be its sweetest. Another incredible song, “Should’ve When You Could’ve” helps to strengthen the greatness of this record.
Packed with hard rocking hits, sweet soft ballads, and a sound that is familiar, yet unique, Awake is a solid hard rock record that should be added to your collection. If you’re a fan of Theory of a Deadman or Hinder, you are going to love Skillet’s Awake. Capturing the modern rock sound with the progressive groove, Awake is a meaningful album that I wish I discovered sooner.
Rating: Out of 10
- Don’t Wake Me
- Awake And Alive
- One Day Too Late
- It’s Not Me It’s You
- Should’ve When You Could’ve
- Never Surrender
John Cooper – lead vocals, bass
Korey Cooper – keyboards, backing vocals, rhythm guitar, synthesizers
Ben Kasica – Lead Guitar
Jen Ledger – Drums, backing vocals
Part of the new wave of Swedish heavy metal, Outshine has released their latest hard rocking effort, Until We Are Dead. This album definitely has a heavy feel to it. Not glam rock, and certainly not modern rock, Until We Are Dead has its own unique sound that is hard to categorize. That’s always the sign of an original band. Outshine are their own type of music, heavy as it is.
Lead singer Erlend Jegstad has an incredible voice that is showcased all over this disc. His high vocals are the perfect contrast to the dark music, creating an incredible wall of enjoyable sound. Jegstad’s voice is a breath of fresh air in the world of heavy metal. As unique as his band, Jegstad can’t be classified. What he does is sing his ass off and put exceptional vocal tracks on Until We Are Dead.
Until We Are Dead is filled with chord and tempo changes that would make Rush proud. Constantly evolving and never repeating, each song on this album is a unique experience. Without any ballads or filler, Outshine has put together 10 tracks of hardcore, hard rock. If you’re a fan of banging your head hard to progressive, dark metal, Until We Are Dead is the album for you.
Guitarist Jimmy Norberg gets to show off his shredding skills frequently. On the opening notes of Viva Shevegas, Norberg’s guitar kicks off the song in style. His work on “One For The Nerves” and “Ain’t Life Grand” is stellar. Norberg shows his talent throughout the record and his talent is enormous. Excellent guitar work is really what helps Until We Are Dead stand out from the rest of the pack.
Packed with themes of drinking, death, darkness, murder, and confusion, Until We Are Dead is a heavy album that metal fans are bound to love. Stand out tracks on the disc include “Ain’t Life Grand”, “Viva Shevegas”, and “Riot”. All exceptionally crafted, these songs are the strongest showcase of Outshine’s ability as a band.
Until We Are Dead is a solid album that metal fans are sure to love. Heavy guitars, pounding drums (with exceptional rhythm), anger filled vocals, and energetic rock music complete this disc and make it a worthwhile investment. If you’ve been searching for that summer album where you can roll down the windows of your car, crank the music, pump your fist in the air, and bang your head while driving 70, look no further. Until We Are Dead is the goal that you seek.
If you like to purchase your music via download, you can pick up Until We Are Dead at this link. By doing so, you will get also get Outshine’s cover of the Billy Idol classic, “White Wedding”. Check it out!!
Rating: Out of 10
- One For The Nerves
- Love For The Music
- Ain’t Life Grand
- Viva Shevegas
- Until I’m Dead
- I’m Sorry
- Save Me
Jimmy Norberg – Guitars
Erlend Jegstad – Vocals
Fredrik Kretz –Drums
Per Stenbeck – Bass
The first noticeable thing about Social Code’s debut album, Rock N Roll, is how perfect the title fits. Rock N Roll is just that, rock music at its finest. Social Code has created a record that is destined for glory and it’s an album that all hard rock fans should own. Rock N Roll is one of the best records to come out in 2010.
Social Code takes the simple approach to creating rock music – four musicians, no filler. Following the format of great rock bands from the 70s and 80s, each member of Social Code has their own place in the band. There is no double duty for vocalist Travis Nesbitt. He concentrates on his strength, which is singing. The same is true for fellow members Morgan Gies (guitar), Logan Jacobs (bass), and Ben Shillabeer (drums). They all do their part to create the music and they all do it exceptionally well.
Best described as dirty (or gritty) rock, Rock N Roll is a powerful album. Blending the styles of Hinder, Lynch Mob, and Papa Roach, Social Code is the real deal and Rock N Roll proves it. Opening with an odd acoustic ballad to rock and roll music, the title track is a strange lead song for such an intense record. “Rock N Roll” is an acoustic ballad to Social Code’s one true muse, rock music. Simple and sweet, “Rock N Roll” is a great song, but the weakest on the record. The acoustic format is nothing like the rest of the record and it’s odd that the song didn’t kick into a rock anthem halfway through.
The rest of the album does that instead. From the opening riffs of “Nothing Left To Lose” to the final chord of “Too Late For Tomorrow”, nothing but fist pumping, sing-along, hard rock music is pushed out of the speakers. Bar jamming, foot stomping, good time hard rock is what Rock N Roll is all about. With incredible guitar work from Morgan Gies, and exceptional vocals from Travis Nesbitt, Social Code is almost guaranteed to be the best new band of 2010.
Lead single Satisfied is a brilliant tribute to the one night stand. Launching with an excellent guitar riff, Satisfied kicks in with pounding rock drums and Travis Nesbitt’s raspy vocals singing an ode to a woman who just wants to have sex. No strings attached, no names are necessary, the woman of this song just wants to have fun for the night and then leave, with the promise of leaving you Satisfied. One thing is certain, this single is highly satisfying.
“Buy Buy Baby” sounds like it could have been included on George Lynch’s Souls of We. Opening with a funky bass line from Logan Jacobs, “Buy Buy Baby” is a grooving rock tribute to those who are addicted to spending. With a chorus that has you up on your feet, singing along, and dancing to the music, “Buy Buy Baby” is an excellent track.
Rock N Roll is not without its power ballads. However, these are not your father’s power ballads. “Real Girl” is the first power ballad, with the emphasis on power. An awesome guitar riff launches the song and a sing-along chorus of “I need a real girl, real world/I needed someone to hold on to/I need a real girl real world/how did I ever end up with you,” pulls it all together. Far from sappy, and miles away from the modern ballads, “Real Girl” is a ballad with balls.
“Stay” is the other power ballad on the disc and while it’s sappier than “Real Girl”, it still packs its own hard core punch. Nesbitt’s vocals shine on this song. Opening with a soft verse that finds him in an octave higher than most of the record, the chorus bites down hard with a head banger’s chant that pleases the ear in orgasmic fashion. Stay is the way all power ballads should sound.
An absolute incredible masterpiece, Social Code’s Rock N Roll is an album that must be added to your collection. If you are a fan of hard rock music that is just plain fun, Rock N Roll is the record for you. You can learn more about Social Code (and sample some of their incredible music) by visiting their website at: http://www.socialcodemusic.com
Rating: Out of 10
- Rock N Roll
- Nothing Left To Lose
- Perfect Grave
- Buy Buy Baby
- Real Girl
- Fight For Love
- You Never Know What You Got Until It’s Gone
- I’m Not Okay
- Too Late For Tomorrow
Social Code Is:
Travis Nesbitt – Vocals
Logan Jacobs – Bass
Morgan Gies – Guitar
Ben Shillabeer – Drums
Are you looking for some new rock that stands out from the mediocre metal and has a sound that slaps you awake? Well, look no further, Taking Dawn is the band you seek. Equipped with a talented lead singer in Chris Babbit, who also serves double duty as guitarist, and armed with talented musicians who know how to play their instruments well, Taking Dawn is poised to be the next great hard rock band.
Their debut album, Time To Burn, is a testament to that style of hard and heavy rock. Filled with crushing guitar solos, rhythmic drums, and a lead singer whose voice is powerful and smooth, Time To Burn is one hell of a debut album.
Time To Burn opens with the title track, a fast, hard-hitting rock tune that has a modern Winger vibe and finds lead vocalist Chris Babbit sounding a lot like Kip Winger. That’s not to say Taking Dawn is a Winger-esque band, but the opening track definitely has a Winger sound and feel to it. A solid opener on its own accord, Time To Burn sets the pace for the rest of the album and announces that Taking Dawn hit hard.
“Like A Revolution” keeps the rock going. Babbit and guitarist Mikey Cross show off their skills on this song, which contains some amazing guitar work. The solos are sharp and enjoyable and the heaviness of the song reminds us of why we are fans of hard rock and roll in the first place. “Like A Revolution” is a song that packs a powerful punch.
“So Loud” is a blistering party rocker if ever there was one. While simple in lyrics and melody, the catchy hook and chorus force you to tap your feet and sing along. It’s only a matter of moments before you know the words and are shouting them out loud with a smile on your face and an extra bounce in your step. So Loud reminds us of what fun rock sounds like.
The big ballad of the album (yeah, you knew they had to have one) is “Close Your Eyes”. As far as ballads go, this one is ok. Ballads are not the strength of Taking Dawn, and while every band likes to include one in the hopes it will push them over the top,”Close Your Eyes” is mediocre at best. The band should stick to their strengths, which is fist in your face, hard rock and roll.
The album closes with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”, and while it’s a huge risk to cover a song so beloved, I give Taking Dawn a lot of credit. Their version of this classic rocker is solid. Opening with a nifty little guitar riff, the song segues right into the classic guitar notes of the original. And while Chris Babbit may not be Lindsey Buckingham and Mikey Cross is certainly not Stevie Nicks, the dark raspy vocals work exceptionally well for this cover tune.
Taking Dawn are a new band that you should definitely be listening to. Armed with heavy rock, talented guitars, and deep, dark vocals that have power and ability, this is a band worth telling your friends about. If you’re a fan of rock and roll and you’ve been waiting for something new and exciting to come around that you could get behind and support, then Taking Dawn is what you’ve been wanting. Time To Burn is available on Roadrunner Records and worth every penny you spend on it.
- Time to Burn
- Like A Revolution
- Take Me Away
- So Loud
- Save Me
- Close Your Eyes
- Fight ‘Em With Your Rock
- Never Enough
- The Chain
Taking Dawn Is:
Chris Babbit – Lead Vocals & Guitar
Mikey Cross – Lead & Rhythm Guitars, backing vocals
Andrew Cushing – Bass Guitar, backing vocals
Alan Doucette – Drums, backing vocals
Swing rock, modern blues, or ultra hip contemporary; whatever you want to call it, Poppy & The Usual Suspects is good music. Singing the modern day blues of hating work, wanting to be with a girl, getting dumped, and the desire to party all night, Poppy & The Usual Suspects have found a way to spice up the blues with some great guitar riffs, enjoyable percussion, and old fashioned crying over the pain lyrics.
Celestial Love Jones is an album that is hard to categorize. It’s filled with a blues rhythm but fueled by a drummer that would be perfect in the latest heavy metal rock band. Poppy & The Usual Suspects definitely rock hard, and that is made clear by the time the first guitar solo arrives on the opening track Can’t Find That Thing. Lead guitarist Julio Franco does a wonderful job executing an amazing solo that demands attention. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a deep guitar solo like this, and the fact that it is being played on a rockabilly blues album makes it all the more astonishing.
Poppy & The Usual Suspects are a different band and Celestial Love Jones is certainly a different album. Breaking away from the everyday repetitive crap that is churned out on modern radio, Celestial Love Jones is so unique, that at first listen, it’s hard to say if it’s lovable or not. There is so much going on in the music, that an immediate opinion is hard to form because there is too much to absorb.
The title track consists of heavy harmonica (played by Poppy himself) that competes with the guitar solo on the previous song for most amazing sound on the disc. This is one harmonica solo that was well thought out and deep. It is a true centerpiece for the song. The rest of the tune is basic 4/4 bar blues, but the wail of the harp pulls it all together and makes it a stand out song.
Poppy has a deep voice and works to his strengths. Rather than going for the high notes that he might not be able to pull off, Poppy stays within his range of low tenor and lets the guitars and harmonica take center stage. He is more of a backdrop to the wonderful world of music that is surrounding him.
The incredible guitar riffs and harp work continue throughout the album. If you’re a fan of guitar solos or excellent harmonica playing, this is the album for you. Mr. Boss Man is an exceptional chant to hating your job and telling your boss to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. An ode to those slaving on the job everywhere, this is Poppy & The Usual Suspect’s opus for the working man. Even if you love your job, you will be singing along with this catchy riff.
Obsession opens with an ominous feeling of darkness and the lyrics solidify that this is a dark song of wanting something all the time, so much that it overtakes all other thoughts of the day. In this case, the obsession is a girl. Musically, this is the simplest song on the record, but it is so catchy that it’s worth nothing what a great song this is. An easy sing-along, Obsession will have you rocking out in no time.
Simply stated, Celestial Love Jones rocks hard. If you’re on the search for a different type of rock that is going to be new yet deeply satisfying, look no further. Poppy & The Usual Suspects are exactly what you want. Filled with exceptional guitar work, wonderful harmonica riffs, and a steady rhythm section that never misses a beat, Celestial Love Jones is an excellent disc.
Check out Poppy and the Usual Suspects at myspace!
Rating: Out of 10
- Can’t Find That Thing
- Celestial Love Jones
- Baby’s Comin’ Home
- Mr. Boss Man
- Be My Girl
- Lie After Lie
- Comfortable Shoes
- Money Shot
- Dealer’s Choice
Poppy & The Usual Suspects Are:
Poppy – vocals, harmonica
Julio Franco – guitar
Brian Palmerino – guitar keyboards
Robert Togliatti – bass, vocals
Jason Fay – drums, percussion, vocals
Glam fans rejoice! One of the better hair metal bands of the 80s (although they weren’t as well known as the big names) has released the follow up to their exceptional debut CD some 20 years later, All Those Strangers. This album is everything that a growing (or well seasoned) metal fan needs in their collection.
On All Those Strangers, Vain make it sound like the late 80s all over again. The reason for that? This follow up disc to their superb debut album was recorded in 1991. It is finally getting to see the light of day thanks to Jackie Rainbow Records who dug it out of the vaults and decided to give it a shot. I am extremely grateful that they did.
Vain was a band that never got enough recognition. Lead singer Davy Vain has the ultimate glam voice, sounding like a cross between Taime Down (Faster Pussycat) and David Roach (Junkyard). Davy Vain is a master behind the microphone. His ability to hit the right key and the precise inflection at the perfect moment is impeccable. On songs like “Shooting Star”, “Love Drug”, and “Here Comes Lonely”, Vain shows his power and ability by sounding like a leader from the L.A. Strip circa 1988.
Exceptional vocals aren’t the only thing that All Those Strangers is blessed with. The guitar playing is incredible, highlighted by Danny West’s killer solos and James Scott enchanting rhythm. All Those Strangers has a lot of fast paced, bluesy moments, which only helps to catapult it to the upper echelon of greatness. It has a sound similar to early LA Guns and a touch of White Lion.
Every song on this disc is great. All Those Strangers is one of those rare records where you want to hear the next song as badly as you want to replay the last one. It’s that strong. Why this band never gained more attention remains a mystery to me. You can blame grunge and the death of the Hollywood Strip scene all you want, but these guys should have made a comeback a lot sooner.
The best song on the disc (by far) is also the power ballad of the record and it an amazing one at that. “Shouldn’t Cry” is the epitome of what late 80s rock aspired to be. If you slap on the headphones, put this song on, and sit in a darkened room with your eyes closed, there is no doubt you will be whisked back to high school days, thinking about your girl and wondering what tomorrow is going to bring. I’ve never heard a song that can transport me back instantaneously the way “Shouldn’t Cry” does. It’s magical.
Blessed with the ability to capture the sound of hair metal at the height of its fame, All Those Strangers is a glam fans dream come true. A must own for your collection, this disc will not disappoint, but it may make you yearn for the easier days of yesteryear. That’s a small price to pay for a collection of exceptional rock and roll.
Rating: Out of 10
- Love Drug
- Planets Turning
- Shooting Star
- Too Bad
- Far Away
- Wake Up
- Freak Flag
- Here Comes Lonely
- Shouldn’t Cry
- Do You Sleep With Strangers?
- Looking Glass
Davy Vain – Vocals
Danny West – Guitar
James Scott – Guitar
Ashley Mitchell – Bass
Tom Rickard – Drums
Normally, I am not a fan of cover albums, finding them lame at best. It’s always been my belief that if a band is going to take the time to go into the studio and record an albums worth of someone else’s material, why can’t they make the extra effort and record their own songs? However, Hatebreed has me rethinking the cover album a little bit.
For The Lions is a slamming disc containing 19 of the hardest covers you’ll ever hear, by bands that are not everyday household names, featuring songs that you do not experience often. That’s what makes this record stand out from the overpopulated crowd of cover albums.
For The Lions opens with a ripping version of Slayer’s Ghosts of War and never lets go from there. Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies, Black Flag, and The Misfits are all covered on this disc as well. Great songs from lesser known bands such as Madball, Obituary, and Bad Brains are included for your listening pleasure.
What is most unique about For The Lions is lead singer Jamey Jasta’s ability to channel the spirit of the frontmen for each of the bands that he is covering. During Metallica’s Escape, there are moments when I could swear that I was listening to the actual Metallica version of the song. The band plays the music note for note and Jasta comes as close as he can to sounding like the original singer. This is more a tribute than a cover, but it works wonderfully.
Other songs are definitely a Hatebreed interpretation as the vocals go more toward the gravelly side that Hatebreed is known for. However, not knowing the original versions of those songs, Jasta could be spot on with those vocal inflections.
The music itself is fast, loud, and raw; music your mother or wife would probably hate. Angry speed and thrash metal with a powerful lead singer belching out the hits. It fills you with a raw energy that makes you want to throw your fist in the air, scream as loud as you can, and shout at that you are alive! Hatebreed channels your inner warrior through the power of music and has a fun time doing it.
Covering 19 of their favorite songs, Hatebreed scores a winner with For The Lions. Incredible guitar work, exceptional vocals, and a ton of raw power and energy highlight this disc as a standout piece that is worthy of adding to your heavy metal collection. If you’ve never heard the original versions of these tunes, then this is an excellent introduction. If you know the songs well, this is a great way to appreciate a new interpretation on these classics. Feel the power that Hatebreed delivers with For The Lions.
Rating: Out of 10
1. Ghosts of War (Slayer) 4:00
2. Suicidal Maniac (Suicidal Tendencies) 3:06
3. Escape (Metallica) 4:38
4. Hatebreeders (Misfits) 2:52
5. Set it Off (Madball) 2:37
6. Thirsty and Miserable (Black Flag) 2:21
7. All I Had I Gave (Crowbar) 3:16
8. Your Mistake (Agnostic Front) 1:43
9. I’m in Pain (Obituary) 4:11
10. It’s the Limit (Cro Mags) 1:41
11. Refuse/Resist (Sepultura) 3:08
12. Supertouch Shitfit (Bad Brains) 2:22
13. Evil Minds (D.R.I) 0:58
14. Shut Me Out (Sick of it All) 2:14
15. Sick of Talk (Negative Approach) 0:39
16. Life is Pain (Merauder) 3:22
17. Hear Me (Judge) 1:55
18. Boxed In (Sub Zero) 2:59
19. A Spoiler (Sheer Terror)
Jamey Jasta – Lead vocals
Chris Beattie – Bass Guitar
Wayne Lozniak – Lead Guitar
Matt Byrne – Drums
Frank Novinec – Guitar