Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Zakk Wylde

Angel Of Mercy

I don’t know what it is, but man this song gets the hairs rising on the back of my neck. It brings back memories. I can just imagine lying on my bedroom floor listening to this on my headphones back in the Eighties!

For those that don’t know the song appears on the album “Catacombs Of the Black Vatican” from Black Label Society.

It begins with a clean tone strumming passage and to be honest it is that rough Southern fried voice of Zakk’s that seals the deal. It’s like whatever music Zakk commits to tape, it has a soul that infatuates the head space.

When Zakk Wylde got the Ozzy gig, I was also in my teens, however the guitar ability exhibited by Zakk for such a young age alerted me to the fact that I needed to woodshed a lot more if I was to compete. He was in a different league already for the age he was at.

And what about the lead break?

It’s pure magic. Yes, Wylde can wail. Just listen.

That there alone is the reason why Zakk Wylde is a Guitar God, as it includes everything but the kitchen sink. It builds and builds to the point where you cannot help but be in awe at the feel, the melodic phrasing and the disciplined technique on display.

The song will never be a hit on the Billboard Charts and due to its mellow nature it might never get a live appearance, but god damn it, the song is a classic.

And “Damn That Flood”. God damn.

It is the track that should have been on Black Sabbath’s 13 album. It’s got that famous heavy blues groove that Sabbath is so renowned for. This is metal before Metallica made it all about speed. A slow killer riff that brings out the heaviness.

And again that lead break is another song within a song composition. Crank the wah, crank the bends, crank the shred, crank the repeating licks, the alternate picking and legato runs. It’s so complex and yet it comes across so effortlessly.

This is why Zakk worked for Ozzy.

Without Ozzy knowing it, he had a protégé that could do Black Sabbath better than Black Sabbath. He had a protégé that could do Randy Rhoads justice. (Of course, as a diehard RR fan, no one could do RR better than RR himself). Finally, Ozzy also had a protégé that could play Jake E Lee better than Jake E Lee. Zakk once called it the most glorified covers gig ever, where he gets to play some cool shit written by others and he also gets to play his own shit.

One final mention “Empty Promises”. It the metal song of 2014. The whole intro is a cross between Alice In Chains “Would” and Black Sabbath “Heaven And Hell”.

The groove is hypnotic in the verses.

And again that lead break section is just drenched in every guitar technique known to man.

Check it out on Spotify. Show some love for the Wyldester.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Ashes Divide

The first thing that comes to mind is “A Perfect Circle”. So I Googled it and of course it is Billy Howerdel’s project. And he sings on it. And wow, the vocals are really impressive. And the album came out in 2008. Five years ago. And I am hearing it today. And I love it.

But the album was four years in the making.

“Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright” is the album name.

The excellent Josh Freese provides drums and as usual the majority of the instruments are done by Howerdel. I remember reading about some of the bands that were big influences on Howerdel and the whole British new-wave and alternative scene was mentioned. Bands like “The Cure” and “Pink Floyd”. I am getting that feel from this album. If I could sum it up, it is like the mash-up of “Diary of A Madman” from “Ozzy/Randy” with “Love Song” from “The Cure”.

“Stripped Away”

Refuse to lay down tonight,
And tolerate your words…

The mood and progressive feel of the song instantly hook me in. The connection to A Perfect Circle makes me interested. As much as Howerdel tried to not sound like himself, the truth is he couldn’t.

“Denial Waits”

“Run away from the way that you love me”

What a song. I love it. The whole feel and dynamics. The frantic clean tone moody verses clashing against the fuzzed out chorus with the excellent lyrics and melody. Its infectious and majestic. The song is musical and melodic in a way that chart toppers of today can only dream off. A hit single that wasn’t.

“Too Late”

Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde helped Howerdel in a production kind of way with the vocal melodies and she also co-wrote “Too Late”.

If I could separate me from myself, I’d stay away from me.

Again the feel and the unusual drumming patterns employed by Freese make this song happen. One thing that I have always gotten out from Howerdel’s music is the movie soundtrack atmospheres he creates. It puts me at a point in time or place from my youth. And that is why I gravitated towards music in my younger years. Those feelings of innocence that well-crafted music creates.

“Forever Can Be”

It’s a return to Howerdel’s “A Perfect Circle” roots. It draws you in and it is more hooky.

It must’ve been very hard
To have lived and never learnt
To be content with who you are
We all want the same things don’t we
To find the one who opens channels to our hearts
A path you never found upon your own.

The lyrics remind me of that toxic person that we have encountered in life. Sort of like the Machine Head song, “Unto The Locust”. I like that analogy, comparing a relationship with a person to the characteristics of a locust swarm.

You know what kind of people I am talking about. It is a person that you treat and respect right. It is a person that you would go out of your way to help even if it meant arguing with your family over it. But to that person, they always saw life with a chip on their shoulder and that if someone was living a touch better than them, they complained that their chance at a good life was stolen from them by the same person helping them.


Danny Lohner was into the song, pushing Howerdel to flesh out a real chorus for it, trying to get Howerdel to simplify his arrangements.

I watched you wash away any chance of coming clean to anyone

Having dealt with liars and deceitful people in a band situation, I can honestly say that I will never be in another band again. Because people just don’t get it. The drummer believed that because he drummed on it, he deserved a song writing credit. The vocalist believed because he sang on it and re-interpreted some of the vocal melodies to suit his voice that he also deserves a song writing credit. The bass player believed because he put the case to shorten the interlude section that he also deserves a song writing credit.


It’s got this British sound if there is such a thing.

Cut a smile in my face so you’ll intake some fleeting comfort
You’ve built a wall of beauty to help tolerate any discomfort

Aint that the truth. It’s a nice diplomatic way to say that we all wear facades in our daily lives.


You and I keep falling further away
It’s become our ritual
We stare like strangers straight through each other in to the wall…

The groundhog lifestyle when communication breaks down.

“The Stone”

We survive what we can’t change
So let it fade, Just let it go
We pretend so nothing does change
We’re flowers never breaking through the stone

We are conditioned to live, work and die. Call it the post WW2 rebuilding mentality. I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that my children are the flowers that DO BREAK THROUGH THE STONE.

“The Prey”

It’s got almost an EDM New Order feel merged with Collective Soul. Yep, remember Ed Roland and Shine.

They pretend to be the ones to be afraid of
Caressing our souls away from us
And all of the world to keep us all in line
If we just fold our hands and smile

Democracy works when we all obey and do what our Governments require us to do. But when our Governments are in league with Corporations and are taking substantial contributions from them to pass laws, it’s becoming harder to believe.


The epic for the album at six minutes and thirty seconds long. It’s a melancholic ride back into the past of Howerdel and his “A Perfect Circle” tenure. How sad is that piano riff?

We’re cut from the same cloth but we are
Stained with the poison of pride

We’re sucking the life from the whole of the world
Can’t be confined or condemned to be
Reduced to a place that’s a violent resolve
To the end they will try

The vocal phrasing is all Maynard. Not too sure if Howerdel had this style of phrasing before he hooked up with Maynard or if he developed it after working with Maynard sort of like how Zakk Wylde phrases his vocals in a very definitive Ozzy style.

There is no filler on this album. Check it out.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Arrows To Athens

I would like to think that when it comes to music and it’s history I am very knowledgable. And with the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, I would like to think so. However with the rise of the internet and the big changes that come with the distribution of music, that knowledge is slowly slipping.

Case in point. I went in cold to listen to “Arrows To Athens”.

So I had no idea what style of music they played, who was in the band, who produced it and which label if any released it. Basically I was going in cold except for the words of a few friends via the six degrees of separation theory. Yep it was one of those, a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend mentioned that the band is cool.

Kings And Thieves

I really liked it. It’s simple but effective modern rock. Catchy as hell.

So I Googled it and I came across the name of David Hodges. Apart from the David Hodges connection there is not a lot of information available on-line about the band.

He walked away from Evanescence before “Fallen” exploded and since then he has become a new Jim Vallance or Desmond Child or Max Martin in the song writing world of modern/pop rock.

But I bet you that a lot of the people who like the artists that David Hodges worked with have no idea that the songs they like were co-written or written by David Hodges. Because that is the world today. The kids don’t care about the back story of the song. All they care about is the end product.

Due to the lack of information available online it is pretty easy to conclude that no one has really heard the album, which is a shame. Because it is good. Better than the rubbish that the major labels push out. If this album had Maroon 5 or Coldplay as the artist, I guarantee you that all of the songs would be smash hits. However it barely exists. The most streamed song on Spotify is at 67,000 streams.

Used To Be

A power ballad. Phenomenal.

“Cause the tide is coming
Swallowing the ground”

Change and starting over is never easy, because we beat ourselves up before the change even happens.

Should we do this is the first question that we ask ourselves over and over again?

If we do this, then this might happen?

If we don’t do this, then this other thing might happen?

We play Nostradamus on the decisions that we make. It makes us fear change. However once we decide to make change, then there is no looking back. The decision has been made and it’s time to go forward.

The song is heartfelt. We’ve all been there, but David Hodges encapsulates it all in a four-minute masterpiece.


“Look at this life
Is the mirror what you want to see?”

We have all been in this place, where we look in the mirror, see our reflection and we don’t like what we see. Somewhere in the past, decisions that we made have led us down onto a path that has more or less made us someone we don’t want to be.

The Waiting

From the outset it reminds me of “Citizen Soldier” from Three Doors Down.

Fate still holds us
We work our life to ease a conscience,
And fill the Earth to set it free
‘Cause truth will rise up to the surface
And present words won’t change a thing

All the liars today will have their lies unmasked long after they are gone. That is the way of the world. The truth will always rise up to the surface. So to all of those ex-band members of mine who claimed to have written songs that I wrote years before the band even started, watch out. Fate will make the truth see the light of day.


David’s problem is that he is too talented. He can easily write hit singles. The song is infectious.

There are clouds on the horizon,
So take a breath here in the calm before the storm.
If only for a moment

Our lives are too hectic. Each day is a focus struggle. We work at our desks with our headphones on. Doing two things at once. We watch our favourite TV shows with our laptops or tablets or iPads in our hands.

Sometimes we need to just take a moment break, take a break and re-evaluate why we are alive.

It’s just another hit song in a line of songs that has not reached a wider audience.

The Silence

Do you believe that the silence can erase the memory?

We all need to be supported by someone who can testify to the truth that we say. However, no one wants to get involved anymore, so they stay in silence on the sidelines while we burn.

Your Gravity

This is my goodbye
I can’t take another year
Falling into broken expectations

It sounds like the thousands of wannabe artists that walk away from a dream of being a rock n roll superstar. While the actual song subject matter is different, the lyric line is generic enough to be applied to many different situations.

Do yourself a favour and check it out. It’s on Spotify and on YouTube.

Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

A Note To APRA AMCOS and Andrew Harris – It’s A Brave New World. Deal With It.

We live in a far better world when it comes to the consumption of entertainment products. As much as the RIAA, the Performing Rights Organisations and the labels still use the smokescreen piracy argument, we are as a matter of fact living in a post piracy world.

The user decides what he or she likes. The user decides how they will tell their friends about what the like. In most cases, it is via social media. And the recording industry is scared of this. It is scared because a social media account has more reach than their marketing efforts. They are scared because the audience is connected to one another and that they are out of the loop.

So when I read an opinion piece from an APRA representative that is all fluff and without any fact, it upsets me. It upsets me because it is misleading. It upsets me because as an APRA AMCOS member, that this line of thinking is the best that they could come up with. Seriously Andrew Harris needs to get his head out of the lies and really take a look at the world. You would expect that a person with a title of Principal Analyst at APRA AMCOS would actually do some analysis.

His whole piece is misleading. From the start to the end.

What streaming services like Spotify have shown is that people that did pirate and paid nothing for the content are now actually contributing to the recording business through the free-ad supported Spotify. It is putting money there where previously it didn’t exist.

There will always be people that will upload and download pirated content in the same way that people bootlegged copyright recordings in the pre-Internet days. Hell, the whole rock and roll movement that swept over the Communist Eastern Bloc in the Sixties’ was from bootlegged recordings.

Furthermore, Napster showed the recording business what music customers want. And 15 years later there still isn’t a legal version of what Napster created. If people want to download mp3’s for free, then allow them to do so legally. If the ads on the pirate sites generated so much money, then why doesn’t the recording industry cater to suit. Instead you get the recording industry with their larger acts locking up their content to capitalise on first week sales because that is still their mentality.

Seriously, since when did copyright infringement become such a dangerous crime to warrant monitoring and surveillance of people’s on line behaviours because the recording industry along with the movie industry are insistent that the privacy of people and their digital footprint needs to be stored and monitored in the name of protecting profits.

The truth is that the recording industry has not delivered on all of the demands of customers.

There are still customers that want to download high quality mp3’s for free. Cater to that market with free advertising and you will see more money enter the record labels pockets.

There are still customers that want to download uncompressed FLAC audio files for free. Cater to that market with free advertising and you will see more money enter the pockets of the record labels. I don’t know how much the artist will end up getting but one thing that is certain, is that the record labels are all cashed up.

And it is possible to compete with free. Free to air TV networks have competed for over 70 years.

Does that mean that sales of a physical product are gone? My answer is NO because fans of bands will always want that special unique deluxe package. The part that some labels like Rat Pak or artists like Coheed and Cambria get and other labels or artists don’t get is that the deluxe package in 2014 is more than a CD with a DVD. Those days are long gone.

In relation to APRA all you need to do is cast your mind back to 2008 when APRA supported an aggressive new copyright law in New Zealand including punishment of persons accused but not proven to be infringing copyright. This position was opposed by artists and APRA members but hey they still thought it was a good idea.

The thing with Andrew Harris and APRA AMCOS is that they get paid when they collect monies on behalf of the songwriters. And the thing is, even though streaming pays the rights holders which in most cases are the Record Labels, where does APRA AMCOS fit in all of this.

The AMCOS arm collects and distributes mechanical royalties for the reproduction of musical works in CD’s, music videos, DVD’s and digital downloads to name a few. So if people are streaming music, what does AMCOS collect? This is from APRA’s sustainability report published in October 2013.

Nowadays, new media accounts for almost 50% of AMCOS revenue, with licensing revenue from digital downloads totalling $26.7m in 2012/13. Revenue from subscription and ad-funded services more than doubled during the year, however, to $1.2m, and most of the world’s major players in that space – including Spotify, Google, Rdio and Deezer –now operate in Australia and NZ.

By comparison, traditional mechanical royalties from the sale of physical product accounted for only $10.5m of AMCOS revenue during 2012/13 – a decline of some $4m over the year – and a figure that is expected to decline further in the immediate future.

And that is the crux of the argument from APRA AMCOS which has been the same argument from the record labels for a long time. Still focused on what they get paid right now without any thought as to what a future with a hundred million paying streaming subscribers could bring to its business. Still focused on CD sales right now instead of a future with a billion subscribers who download mp3’s for free on ad supported legal websites.

It’s a brave new world out there and it is a shame that organisations that make their money from artists/songwriters are not doing their best to push innovation and in turn make more money for their members.

A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes


You could say wrong time, wrong place hurt Junkyard. Being from Australia, I am always into bands that can take the AC/DC style of rock n roll and spruce it up with their own twists without sounding too much of a copycat. Junkyard was such band that did it really well with their debut album released in 1989.

Guitarist Chris Gates came up with the name Junkyard. One name that was floated around was ‘Crack’ however they decided against that when the actual drug named crack became mainstream news.

They came from a hardcore punk scene into a scene that was splintering into a few different genres/groups.

One group was the bands that wanted to be like Motley Crue and Poison.

The other group was bands that wanted to be like Bon Jovi and Journey.

Then you had another group that didn’t mind if they merged and criss crossed between genres. Underrated bands like “Junkyard”, “Raging Slab”, “Dangerous Toys” and “Circus Of Power”.

This time the genre mash-up revolves around the following ingredients;

Bad Company/Free Classic Rock – CHECK

AC/DC Hard Rock – CHECK

Punk Rock – CHECK

Punk Rock Attitude – CHECK

Aerosmith Hard Rock – CHECK

ZZ Top Blues Boogie Rock – CHECK

Southern/Country Rock – CHECK

Guns N Roses Current Flavour Influence – CHECK

A lot of people believe that the Guns N Roses comparison is the reason why Geffen Records became interested. To put it into context, Guns N Roses didn’t really take over the world until 1988 and by then, Junkyard already had a record deal in place with Geffen records.

One other point to note is that the media always emphasised the fact that Junkyard got signed nine months after forming. However, the origins of the band and the respective musicians go back even further.

All of the band members were paying their dues way before Junkyard started. Guitarists Chris Gates and Brian Baker have been at it since 1980 beginning with punk bands “Minor Threat” and “The Big Boys”. Bass player Todd Muscat and drummer Patrick Mazingo had been at it since 1983 with the band “Decry”.

So they get together and form a new band in 1987. Labels started to become interested. Virgin came knocking first based on an 8 track demo the band did. However during a gig with Jane’s Addiction and Green River, they got approached by Geffen. The A&R rep at that time also knew about the members previous punk bands and a deal was made.

The excellent Tom Werman was on hand to produce the debut album that came out in 1989. The engineer was Duane Baron who was also no slouch in the producer chair either.

While others complain about Werman’s work ethic or input, the Junkyard team had nothing but praise. However, another candidate that was considered was Matt Wallace, who did the initial demos that Geffen financed before they gave the go ahead for the full album to be recorded. Matt Wallace was a more eclectic producer, being involved with artists like “The Replacements”, “John Hiatt” and “Faith No More”.


It is the album opener and it kicks it off in style.

“Simple Man”

“Throwing pennies into the wishing well”

Chris Gates wrote it before the band even got together. I love that lyric line. So simple but effective.

“Shot In The Dark”

Not the Ozzy version. This one is more raucous and sleazy. I think the term they used in the Eighties was “Snotty”.


Looks like Zakk Wylde was listening to Junkyard as the intro and feel of the song could have inspired Ozzy’s “I Don’t Wanna Change The World”. Chris Gates tells that story that the idea for the riff came from a “Cheech & Chong” movie however after the song was finished he went back to see if he could find the scene where Tommy Chong played the riff and he couldn’t find it.

Credit insane French Canadian video director Jean Pellerin for the cool “Hollywood” clip that MTV picked up and put into rotation.

“Life Sentence”

Musically it reminds me of Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades”.


“More uptempo driven re-write of “La Grange” from ZZ Top.

“Hands Off”

It continues with the Southern Rock/Gospel Rock style feel. But the lyrics. Man they take the cake for some of the most funniest shit ever committed to music.

The darker “Sixes, Sevens & Nines” came next and by 1992 the band was dropped from Geffen. That is how quickly fortunes changed in the era of record label control. The band knew what was up. The writing was on the wall. All of their contemporaries were getting dropped.

This is what drummer Patrick Muzingo said in an interview with SleazeRoxx.

“We decided it’s about time for us to face reality and get real jobs. Sure, we were bummed and still wanted to be a band but we also were extremely responsible adults and, from the get go, knew we weren’t gonna become millionaires doing this. We all got REAL jobs and went our separate ways. Some of us continued on with new bands for a few years, others got careers. There was no drama when we spilt up. No BS.”

If you are a musician and have dreams of making millions, then I will give you a second to digest the above comments because that is reality. Even the musicians today that complain that the past was better are misleading people. Junkyard had a major label contract and when it all ended they had to go get real jobs.

They wrote and recorded material for a third album with the working title “103,000 People Can’t Be Wrong” (which was a reference to the first week sales of album number 2) but the record never got made for various reasons.

The band wanted to produce it themselves so Geffen gave them an ultimatum.

Record it with a real producer, however they will give no marketing support or touring support.

Or they would release the band from their deal and allow the band to shop the record to other labels.

But no other label would come forth to support them as all of the labels had moved on to find the next Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

Eye Empire

“I know that all of you are wondering, what happened to Submersed? Well, the answers is… A lot.. This business and struggle to make it took its toll on the members… Two weeks before “Price of Fame” was slated for release, Tj, Kelan and Justin decided to move on with their lives and left SubmerseD. Garrett and I believing in “Price of Fame” made the choice to press on and see what could happen. Well, nothing happened… the single never had a chance… mind bottling… The fact is, is that a majority of our fan base is unaccounted for due to Burning, making it impossible for the labels to understand just how many people really support us out there… When it comes down to it now, SubmerseD no longer has a place on Windup’s roster and will be dropped shortly… I was trying to wait until things were a little more official before an announcement but you guys and gals are smart and I felt you deserved an explanation now rather than later”

The above is what Donald Carpenter, the singer of SubmerseD put up in 2008 on their MySpace page. Some people call it a whiny rant, however the truth of the post is hidden in the words “making it impossible for the labels to understand just how many people really support” the band. Yep, while Wind Up Records focused on the old business model of CD sales or mp3 sales as a band’s popularity, they ended up failing their artists. Piracy is a black hole that the record labels like to put in their financial reports back to artists that if something doesn’t sell it must be piracy’s fault.

Go on YouTube. The song “Never Again” has had 351,372 views. An acoustic version of the band performing “Hollow” has been viewed 178,498 times. People were listening to the band. Maybe not in the way they hoped or wanted, but they were listening.

For those people who don’t know about SubmerseD. They band was signed to Wind Up Records. Mark Tremonti from Creed/Alter Bridge worked with them. Guitarist Eric Friedman was a key ingredient in the chemistry that made “In Due Time” such a good album however by the time their second album “Immortal Verses” came out, Friedman was gone and the band was dropped by Wind-Up Records after its failure.

So in 2009, Eye Empire is formed. It was a pseudo supergroup of members who had label deals with other bands. The foundations come from Dark New Day members Corey Lowery and B.C. Kochmit. Vocals came from Donald Carpenter. Drums came from a range of other musicians.

So they go the Independent route, self-releasing their music through their website in limited edition 1000 runs. That way they compile an email list of people interested in purchasing their music. YouTube became a promotional outlet. That is how I came across Eye Empire. Their clip of “I Pray” has had 147,120 views. The song “More Than Fate” has had 81,729 views on the Eye Empire VEVO account, 46,447 on the Eye Empire You Tube account, 41,694 on a user/fan account and 72,508 on the Submersed YouTube account. In total, that is 242,378 views.

The band was making inroads and I always say that success comes to the ones who outlast the competition. In this case, the version of Eye Empire that people started to adopt as the definitive band is no more. From when the release of Eye Empire’s second album “Evolve” came out in October 2013 to April 2014, Donald Carpenter, the very reason why I got into the band was out. Lowery, Kochmit and Bennett said in a statement that Carpenter was trying to reassemble a former band which to me means SubmerseD. Carpenter replied with a philosophical “Starting over is always hard but it’s not the first time and I am certain that it won’t be the last.”

The hardest part of change is actually making the decision to change. Once that decision is made then the rest is easy. In relation to Eye Empire, I can relate to the driven aspect of some members not being in sync with another band member.

In the early nineties, I was in a hard rock band that was out-of-place in the Industrial Alternative Nu-Metal wasteland between the years of 1996 and 1999. It was a three-piece band. The drummer wanted to be big as Pearl Jam but didn’t have the work ethic. The bass player/singer was happy playing the club circuit week in/week out as it was a stable income.

Each three-hour gig got us $150 each. We used to play three gigs a week. So $450 in the pocket each week was a good little additional income for me on top of my normal full-time job. However, the bass player/singer and the drummer didn’t have any jobs. So their cash income came on top of the unemployment benefits they received. So our lifestyles were very different. While I had a mortgage, they lived at home with their parents. So the work ethic between us was very different because of the different responsibilities we had.

I practiced my guitar playing each day. The drummer didn’t even practice. The only time he played the drums was at band practice and then live. The bass player always started the jam sessions/live performances sober and by the end was getting pretty tipsy. So again, the drive between us as musicians was different.

I was married and looking to start a family. The drummer was single, in and out of relationships. The singer was separated and had two kids to two different woman. So our personal lives brought different responsibilities to the table.

The song writing was like this. If I wrote a song, I would bring it in complete, with music and lyrics. If the bass player/singer wrote a song, he would bring it in complete. And we jammed them without any questions. So you can see where the arguments would come from later on.

And you get this in bands.

The different work ethics, the different drive of the individuals and the different expectations that they place on each other and the band.

And I am thinking that Carpenter’s definition of success and fame is over exaggerated or over inflated.

Shinedown is one of the biggest rock bands right now and they play two to five thousand seat arenas. Is that a bad thing. Of course not. Maybe if Donald Carpenter was the lead singer it would be a bad thing.

So what about the songs on “Evolve”?

“Beyond The Stars” and “Live Loud” are real good songs. The stand outs by far. “Within” is a good merge of their Sevendust influence along with Muse. “The War Isn’t Over Yet” is an aggressive piece of music. “The Man I Am” is very reminiscent to what Donald Carpenter did with SubmerseD and to be honest it brings back a memory of Deep Purple “Soldier Of Fortune” for some reason. “Don’t Look Back” is reminiscent of “Animosity” era Sevendust. Another quality track.

The other half of the album borders too much on Sevendust. Which is a shame as the potential is there, however it will remain unfulfilled.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes


I was listening to the new album “Another Life”. Yeah I know it was released in 2013 and in today’s terms it is old. However once upon a time an album under 12 months was still classed as a new album.

Anyway, i am listening to it and i am not really getting into it. Then a riff that reminds me of the pre-chorus of the song called “Zero” by Smashing Pumpkins blows into my head space. The song in question is “Take Your Place” and I am hooked. It is track nine on the CD.

The only reason why I went this deep into the album was because the same experience happened to me on their previous album.

And finally the album is rocking.

“Forbidden You” comes after and the song “Pretty Handsome Awkward” from The Used comes to mind.

Then it gets even more aggressive with “Remember Me”. It’s got this Disturbed meets Black Label Society groove that is just the way I like it with a flourish of some shred. I had no idea it was the lead single when I listened to it. I found that out after I did some Googling on them.

It’s got a great line in it.

“When the stitches don’t hold and you start to bleed ‘Remember Me'”

It reminds me of the “Unto The Locust” theme from Machine Head, about how people come into your life and end up messing it up, before they leave and move on to another victim.

My ex-drummer was like that. In my mind I tried hard to help him but he kept on making the wrong choices and in the end he made his life difficult and everyone else that was around got dragged into his cesspool of trash.

And then the album ends.

The piece d resistance are the last three songs and I guarantee you that they will go unheard because if someone stumbles across Emphatic due to a playlist algorithm, they will be given the songs that a A&R person believes in. But the audience always has a different viewpoint. We make our own favourites.

We make our own soundtracks and our own memories. So after hearing the last three tracks, I decided to give the other eight tracks a re-listen. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention. But I wanted to pay attention because of the story. You see, Emphatic has a story. And like the best TV shows out there, it is a good narrative.

Emphatic had a record deal with Universal which fell apart. They then recorded their album “Damage” with producer Howard Benson and they were set for a major push in mainstream rock with Atlantic Records behind them.

Then everything changed. Emphatic’s lead singer at the time,Patrick Wilson injured his larynx in a bar fight. No one is sure if someone hit him in the throat or tried to choke him. And timing is everything in music. In this case, it was the worst possible time, with the band starting promotion for their brand new album at the time.

Atlantic Records and Indegoot stuck around. They waited for Wilson to get better however he didn’t and Wilson officially quit the group and Atlantic then dropped them. Guitarist Justin McCain fell into a depression becoming the same person that Wilson became. Then came Toryn Green, formerly of Fuel via a Facebook reach out and eventually a new label in Epochal Artist Records came knocking.

This is how “Another Life” was born. They hooked up with Revolver Magazine (the standard Corporate Deal) to stream the album before it came out.

So with my renewed interest, I started to enjoy some of the other songs like “Time Is Running Out”, “Lights”, “Something’s Never Die”, “The Choice” and “Another Life”.

As I was doing more research I saw that Toryn Green is now out, due to the good old “creative differences” excuse.

And just recently, they signed to Pavement Entertainment and are set to release their new album in late 2014. It’s like the days of old, when bands released an album each year and musicians jumped from band to band.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance

It’s there Eighth album. Think about that for a second. How many bands out there had their biggest album on their 8th release. Just to put it into context. Metallica’s 8th album was “St Anger”. Motley Crue’s 8th album was “New Tattoo”. Aerosmith’s 8th album was “Done With Mirrors”. Black Sabbath’s 8th album was “Never Say Die”. Ozzy’s 8th album was “Down To Earth”.

There is a reason why this album is a classic album. The good old right place and right time applies, however there is more to it.

It molds the AC/DC style of rock, with the NWOBHM style of metal that Judas Priest was involved in, with the Euro Metal sounds of Accept and Scorpions, with the sounds of the new Hard Rock scene coming out from the U.S. It has so many styles and genres merged into one concise package. And the audience lapped it up.

It satisfied the audience that they built up with “British Steel” in 1980 and the “Livin After Midnight” fans.

“Screaming For Vengeance” also brought in a whole new audience with the lean and simple, “You Got Another Thing Comin”.

And when a band is faced with a deadline two things happen. They choke or they deliver. In this case, Judas Priest delivered. They found themselves needing one more track. And that last track was “You Got Another Thing Comin”.

And you know, the band felt that the more complex pieces should be sequenced earlier on and as it turned out, that buried eighth track called “Another Thing Comin” was the one. Radio picked up the track and started to play it without the label even thinking of releasing it as a single. It was the final years of when the actual DJ had the power to break a band with the playlists they created.

Tom Allom was in the producers chair again.

Again it is the one/two punch of “The Hellion/Electric Eye” that kicks it off. With the lyrical themes of “someone spying on us” and the melodic pedal point riff, you can easily place this song as a parent to the thrash movement.

The whole Orwellian “1984” theme of spy satellites and the invasion of privacy is so real today, with the NSA and other democratic Government agencies around the world spying on their own citizens. In 30 plus years, the world is exactly the “Electric Eye” and our civil liberties are being eroded a little bit at a time.

You think you’ve private lives
Think nothing of the kind
There is no true escape
I’m watching all the time

Yep, it sure sounds like 2014.

Even in “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin” there is a theme in there that was used to great extent by Dee Snider in “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

“My life, I’m gonna live it up”

The teenagers of the Eighties were born to parents who were born during World War II or just after. Our upbringing was different. Live, work and die was the unwritten mantra.

So when we heard songs like “You Got Another Thing Comin”, “Cum on Feel The Noize”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “Shout At The Devil” and “Don’t Stop Believin” we connected with them immediately.

“(Take These) Chains” was written by Bob Halligan Jnr. If that name sounds familiar, it should. He co-write “Rise To It” with Paul Stanley from the Kiss album, “Hot In The Shade”. He also co-write “Don’t Close Your Eyes” with the Kix guys for the “Blow My Fuse” album.

“Screaming For Vengeance”

Tie a blindfold all around your head
Spin you round in the torture before the dread
And then you’re pushed and shoved into every corner
Then they lead you out into the final slaughter

This is what the Copyright industries and the powerful record labels have done. In order to protect their business models, they lobbied hard to get Copyright terms extended. They lobbied hard and went to the courts to challenge or kill innovation that challenged their profits. All done with a blindfold over the public.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Bonfire – Fireworks

When I heard the “Fireworks” album from Bonfire I got the impression that they were superstars already. The album to me is a definitive piece of hard rock, melodic rock, heavy metal and euro metal all merged into one cohesive package.

I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend that made me a copy of the album on cassette. I had no idea who was in the band, who wrote the songs, who produced it and on what label it was on.

What I did know was the music. And the music was great. It brought Bonfire from the minors into the majors for me. And as much as the press labeled them overnight sensations, overnight sensations they were not.

Claus Lessman and Hans Ziller started to work together in a band called Cacumen in 1978. “Fireworks” came out in 1987. Yep, this overnight sensation was nine years in the making. And to top it off, “Fireworks” was Bonfire’s second album, and if you add the releases from Cacumen, this overnight sensation was a five album veteran.

And here is one for those copyright maximalist. In the late nineties, Lessman and Ziller had a six-year legal battle to get back the album copyrights of their pre-Bonfire band Cacumen. The court case finished up in 2004, with a win to them.

Yep, the companies that originally released the Cacumen albums ceased to exist. They did nothing with the music while they existed. However the people who still worked at those companies held the copyrights for those releases instead of the songwriters in the band. And when the band wanted them back, they fought tooth and nail to keep them.

I can hear people asking what is the sense for holding the copyright of albums and not releasing them?

The answer is plain and simple. GREED. The record label owners were waiting for someone to come and give them enormous loads of money for the Cacumen albums they still controlled. Thank god the courts saw in Bonfire’s favour.

The band for the release consisted of Claus Lessmann on vocals, Hans Ziller and Horst Maier-Thorn on guitar and Jörg Deisinger on bass.

Who you say?

That was exactly the same thing that I said when I found out the band member names.

“Ready 4 Reaction” and “Never Mind” are a great one/two punch to kick off the album. This is what the Eighties album delivered once upon a time. That knockout one/two punch. The great albums delivered even more knockout punches on subsequent tracks and to be honest Bonfire delivered a great album.

Both songs are composed by the band members and you get that Euro Metal Scorpions/MSG vibe immediately.

The lead break and the harmonies in “Ready 4 Reaction” provided an instant connection to me. How good is Hans Ziller. The Eighties was the era of the guitar hero. While other guitarists took the limelight and the instructional tape offers, Hans Ziller let the music do the talking.

Michael Wagener’s production is also crisp and clear.

If you are a fan of music that like genre’s “Ready 4 Reaction” well here is a new one for you, melodic speed metal.

Then the tempo goes into rock territory for “Never Mind” with the pinch harmonics riff that gives Zakk Wylde a challenge for who can do better pinch harmonics. And that lead break is another powerful piece of composition.

“Sleeping All Alone” and “Sweet Obsession” are both written by a songwriting committee like the current songs that make up the top 40 pop charts. Jack Ponti and Joe Lynn Turner this time are included as songwriters along with the four band members.


Some people hate him
but a winner never quits
when he’s rollin’ he’s a one man blitz – look out

Aint that the truth. Everyone hates a winner, thinking that it should have been them instead. People always think that they had the better song, the better look, the better story and so on. But the reason why people win, is that they never stop.

In the end, Bonfire was one of the thousands of bands that signed contracts stacked against them and of course they got ripped off. If you have read any interview with Hans Ziller and Clauss Lessman, they say the same. A small consolation is that Bonfire was not the only band who were ripped off. But it took its toll and Hans Ziller left the band in 1989.

And one more mention as it is not on an official Bonfire album.

Sword and Stone

It’s written by Desmond Child, Paul Stanley and Bruce Kulick. By the late eighties, Desmond Child was rock royalty. Riding high on the charts with hit songs from Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Kiss.

“Sword and Stone” sounds like a lot of other songs that came before it and a lot of songs that came after sound like it, but, man, I tell ya, there is something about this song that just makes me play it on a regular basis.

You can hear the “Crazy Crazy Nights” and “Hot In The Shade” pop metal stylings in this song. It was originally a demo for the KISS album “Crazy Nights”. Paul Dean from Loverboy also used the song for his “Hardcore” album. But the Bonfire version is the one that I like.

It appeared on the “Shocker” soundtrack which to be honest is a pretty wicked soundtrack and having “Timeless Love” from Saraya coming after “Sword and Stone” it was another one/two punch.

A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Tooth And Nail

The “Breaking the Chains” clip was all over MTV but no one was buying the album of the same name.

The band was doing an arena tour with Blue Oyster Cult and the label still wanted to drop them.

“Tooth and Nail” was Dokken’s last shot. The band recorded it and then they went back to their day jobs. Mick Brown and George Lynch went back to driving trucks while Don Dokken went back to buying, fixing and selling cars.

Then the album blew up.

Listening to “Tooth and Nail” today, thirty years since it was released, I can honestly say it holds up well. Everything that I loved about the album back then, I still like today.

Put aside the band politics and the legendary Lynch/Dokken wars. Just pay attention to the songs, especially the backs to the wall attitude that you can hear emanating from the speakers.

“Without Warning” kicks it off the one/two punch, with its ominius minor key build, before it breaks into the frantic “Tooth N Nail”. The song is written by Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson and it is a definitive piece of hard rock and heavy metal. To me , the song is up there in the same throne room as the work that Randy Rhoads did with Ozzy.

Desperate living, driving me mad
Writings on the wall
Crushed all our hopes and the dreams we once had
Just to watch them fall

What a lyric. It’s Dokken’s last chance. The hopes of a musical career was hanging in the balance. The writing was on the wall if they didn’t deliver and in desperation, quality comes. Dokken delivered a speed metal anthem to open up their do or die album.

And with the rise of the “Guitar Hero”, George Lynch really announced his presence, when he delivered a Randy Rhoads inspired lead break that is reminiscent to “Flying High Again”.

Also isn’t it funny how in 1984, the same theme resonated. It was always that “us versus them” attitude. The “We’re Not Gonna Take It” message of Twisted Sister. In this case, “Tooth and Nail” is a protest song against the record label that wanted to drop them.

“When Heaven Comes Down” is another Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition. This time they veer into heavy metal territory.

Ashes to ashes, sorrow and shame
Look at the future again
Angels in heaven walking the streets
Searching for someone to blame

Again, when you don’t have the pressure to write to a formula and when you throw everything against the wind, you end up with something great. In this case the subject matter is darker. It is not the usual sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

“Into the Fire” is a Don Dokken, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition and this is more in line with the LA Glam sound hence the reason why it became a single.

“Alone Again” is a Don Dokken and Jeff Pilson composition and for a power ballad it is wicked. How good is that solo section? It is a song within a song lead break.

“Turn On the Action” is another speed metal song by the Mick Brown, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson composition.

“Tooth And Nail” was released at the right time of the hard rock movement and within 12 months it was certified GOLD for sales in the U.S. It paved the way for Dokken to become a household name.

By 1988, Dokken was at that next level of success. They were doing arena’s and selling them out but they imploded. It was selfish. After reading a lot of band biographies, it became clear that keeping bands together is a difficult job.

James Hetfield wanted to bring in a new singer. Then he wanted Lars Ulrich out. But nothing happened and Metallica remained in tact to go on to become the worlds biggest band. That wasn’t the case for Dokken. They splintered and never recovered.