Music, My Stories

Cooking The Charts

“They bought 30,000 units with six credit cards. Six credit cards. Explain how you buy 30,000 with six credit cards”.
6ix9ine

Don’t you just love a good rigging controversy.

From artists scalping their own tickets to promote higher prices on the secondary market so they get paid more to scalping and buying their own music to get to number one. The things that artists and their management/label teams do, to have a number 1.

This time around, Justin Beiber and Ariana Grande are accused of juicing the charts.

They are not artists I follow, but I am pretty sure artist who I do follow would be thinking, if they should do the same.

Sort of like the Lance Armstrong effect in cycling. All of the other teams knew that the Armstrong team was juicing and winning and not getting caught. From the few bio’s and interviews I have read, other cyclists contemplated doing the same. And then Armstrong got busted and it all went to hell for him. And lucky for the other cyclists, that they didn’t go down that path.

And we have a double standard here. It’s okay to drive a vehicle drunk, to commit manslaughter, to take drugs and overdose, to get into the fights, to urinate in public and what not, but when it comes to doing something shady around money and status, it’s not okay.

Somehow shady practices around money doesn’t sit well with our morals.

I watch a South Park episode last night and the school had an active shooter every single day. And Stanley’s mum was outraged and she wanted the people to be outraged but they thought she was going through menopause because to them school shootings are normal.

It’s become like that.

When you become desensitized to something, it becomes the new normal like summers which are way above normal temperatures with bushfires and smoke haze.

It’s the new normal.

Like rigging the charts has been around since the 70s and it never really went away.

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Bob Rock on The Bob Lefsetz Podcast

I probably own all the hard rock albums Bob Rock has been involved in from a production stand point, mixer and engineer from Loverboy and onwards. And this podcast is brilliant. Bob Rock gives so much information and there are so many takeaways from it.

Currently
He’s sitting on two albums already done, one with Richie Sambora and Offspring. And it looks like the albums will not come out until next year.

To me, the reason why the albums are being held is because the focus is still on sales.

But the time is now.

It’s all about people listening. Not sales.

I read that “The Last Dance” was scheduled for a different release window, but Netflix saw the opportunity to release it during the no sports period of COVID-19 and it hit our screens exaclty then, giving the people their fix of sports and re-creating Jordan as a modern day superstar. It’s like he just finished playing and it’s being over 22 years.

Life
As soon as budgets for recording sessions went super low, labels and artists stopped using mega studios. Hence he has a dormant mega studio at home. And he uses Bryan Adams studio, in Vancouver to record with artists.

He got into music for the love of making records. And even though budgets are smaller he still wants to make records, so he chooses who he wants to work with and he’s okay with a smaller budget.

He’s 66 now and he’s been together with his wife for 35 years, which is huge when it comes to the music business.

But the best advice he gave is;

Mixing is a perspective. The way the Mixer mixes is their perspective on how music sounds.

That’s brilliant, because so many people chase sounds developed by others and Bob Rock is creating sounds on how he thinks it should sound.

He’s A Musician First
Even though he is known as a producer he was a musician first. So he still writes tracks with drums, keys, bass and a scratch guitar. He co-wrote 8 songs on the new Richie Sambora album.

He’s a collector of vintage gear. He collected all the amps and pedals that Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Dave Gilmour used. And he was trying to re-create the Led Zep 1 guitar sound and he found out on the internet he was missing one small effect, which he had, and once he plugged it in, he got the sound.

And he felt like a kid.

He has a warehouse full of amps, keyboards and guitars/bass.

He had a lot of singles because albums were expensive. So he was exposed to different artists, different productions, different styles.

Put Yourself Out There
With one of his first proper bands, they worked jobs, saved money and then they all went to England to make it. That lasted six months before they came home with nothing to show.

His parents were not even happy about their sons choice of careers. And after he came home, he got a normal job again. And it was at one of those jobs, he heard an ad on the radio, to learn basic engineering.

So he went to Vancouver with funds supplied from his parents and the guy who was teaching the course offered Rock a job at Little Mountain Recording Studios.

He got the job because he wasn’t scared to make a mistake. And this opportunity started his entire career.

So the lesson here is to persevere, PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE and don’t be sacred to fail.

Punk Music Opened Doors
Punk made it easy for bands to play clubs and make records, because before punk, the musicians had to be of a certain standard, (just think of Steely Dan, The Eagles, Little Feat, Styx and even Toto). Then punk comes around and three chord songs are getting studio time and club time.

Punk music opened up these doors.

And Bob Rock said, punk music allowed him to make records. The first song he wrote, he got an album deal. The Payola$ and REM got signed on the same week.

The Payola$ name was a poke at the payola scandal where the labels and the radio stations tried to fix the charts.

Find The Home Of The Song
He worked with guitarist Mick Ronson from David Bowie. Ronson produced two Payola$ albums.

Ronson taught Rock the lesson, that you don’t need to re-record everything. Sometimes the demo could have enough in it and a few overdubs could finish it off.

Another lesson Ronson taught Rock is about finding a home of the song and doing it right. In “Sad But True” Rock told Metallica, you have a song here and he was hearing “When The Levee Breaks” but the tempo was too fast on the demo. He told Metallica to slow it down and they found the songs home and the world got a groove metal behemoth. Lyrically I’m not a fan of “Sad But True”, but musically its bone crunching to play.

Bruce Fairbairn
Bruce Fairbairn liked to have demos or do pre-production before he got the artist into the studio. And he kept a tight schedule, pushing artists hard to get a lot of out em within the schedule.

Metallica
So coming into the “Black” album, Metallica never played in the studio together but he got em to do it for the “Black” album which Rock calls the “pocket” album.

Pre-Production for the “Black” album took 2 weeks and it took 15 months to record the album. But originally, he was hired to mix the album, because the guys liked the sound/sonics of the Motley Crue “Dr Feelgood” album.

And it took that long because they spent weeks getting the perfect guitar sound, and weeks for the perfect drum sound and weeks for the perfect bass sound. He sent Lars to get drum lessons and James to get vocal lessons. And they had no idea how big the album would become. All up he spent 15 years working with Metallica, and he realised he just had to move on eventually.

Bon Jovi and Bruce Allen
The manager of The Payola$, Bruce Allen, ended up managing Bob Rock and Allen told him, “you gotta stop doing these gigs because you are a producer and I will manage you as a producer and you will make some money”. And Allen said to him, “you are going to get a point on the next record” and that was “Slippery When Wet” but he didn’t get the point.

So on “Slippery When Wet”, Rock only made $10K Canadian and for “Permanent Vacation”, Bruce Fairbairn offered him $8K Canadian. And the production crew just wanted “Slippery When Wet” to go Gold so they could get another production gig. And in three months it sold 3 million in the U.S alone.

But Jon Bon Jovi wanted Bob Rock to do the next album “New Jersey” and Bruce Allen said that Bob isnt doing it. But Jon wanted Bob Rock and Rock got his point (1%) for mixing the album.

He Keeps On Learning
In every production gig he always learned something new, from either the artists because of what they wanted to do/achieve or the other people he was working with in the production team and he’s still learning right now.

That’s why he’s still in the business, he has continued to self develop, learn and grow as a producer. He never rested on his laurels. And he keeps an eye on what rises to the surface, so he could see what is happening sonically and from a song point of view.

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
And everything Rock has done is because of the sounds on the Motley Crue and Metallica albums he produced.

And Rock goes its because the guys in Motley Crue and Metallica pushed him to step out of his comfort zone and try different things.

Do Your Time
Rock came from jingles, a 1 minute record every day. You need to start somewhere. And be patient.

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The Record Vault – Black Roses Soundtrack

“Trick Or Treat” and “Black Roses” played on the fears of the bible belters. This fear, that rock and roll music and now heavy metal music was causing kids to commit suicide and live disobedient and decadent lives led to fertile story telling in film.

I didn’t see “Black Roses” or know about it or purchase the soundtrack until sometime between 94 and 96 even though it came out in 1988.

I purchased the LP first and then many years later, I didn’t know that I had the LP, so I purchased the CD for it.

So in the movie, a heavy metal band named “Black Roses” turns a sleepy towns kids into rockers first and secretly into demonic monsters.

Wikipedia mentions how the soundtrack features many prominent bands at the time such as King Kobra, Tempest, Hallow’s Eve, Lizzy Borden among others. I wouldn’t say prominent but hey the past is always rewritten to suit a narrative.

But the reason why I wanted to hear the album is because of guitarist Alex Masi who had a lot of advertisements running in the guitar magazines when his “Attack Of The Neon Shark” album came out in 1989, plus he got a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Rock Album.

But then again, I’m not sure if getting a Grammy is a good thing when it comes to metal and rock music, because, Jethro Tull did get an award over Metallica and then recently, the Grammy sound people played “Master Of Puppets” when Megadeth got the award. Ouch.

Anyway, the Black Roses band is Carmine Appice on drums, Mick Sweda on guitars, Chuck Wright on bass and Mark Free on vocals with Alex Masi assisting on some guitar tracks.

And because we didn’t have the internet to research stuff, I found out that Masi only played the Rhythm’s after purchasing the album.

Damn, No Leads. That was Mick Sweda.

But when I heard the songs, Sweda was never known for having sweep picking in his repertoire of licks, and when you go deep into the credits of each song, you see that Masi is the shredder on the songs from the band titled Black Roses/Masi.

Anyway, lets unpack this soundtrack (which is not on Spotify), but hey YouTube has it. By the way, there is a user called DannyWaysted who has a lot of 80’s album on the account. Some very obscure favourites of mine. Check it out. Just search for the user name.

“Dance on Fire” kicks off the album and it is from the Black Roses band. The riff is derivative, basic and nothing original. But it’s still a good listen.

The next track “Soldiers of the Night” is mentioned as Black Roses/Masi. This song could have appeared on a Manowar album. The difference that production makes to a song is huge. In a Manowar environment, it would have sounded metal, cranked to a Spinal Tap’ish’ 11. In the hands of lesser mortals, it sounds like a pop rock song with keyboards with a catchcry of raising our fists forever high.

Then we get a song “I’m No Stranger” from an underrated hard rock group in Bang Tango. This song rocks.

There was something about Bang Tango that I liked. I once said to a friend that the band takes something from Motley Crue, Y&T, Guns N Roses, Ratt, Scorpions, Judas Priest and Poison and puts them in a blender. That’s Bang Tango to me.

The Black Roses/Masi version is back with “Rock Invasion”. Of course the song is going to kick off with a lot of shred from Masi. And the chorus is derivative, but hey, rock did really invade the masses in the 80’s.

There is this cool bass and drum groove from Carmine Appice and Chuck Wright in the middle when Masi gets a chance to play with his whammy and force out a million notes in 20 seconds.

And Black Roses closes off Side 1 with the ballad “Paradise (We’re on Our Way)”.

And it reminds me of those Stan Bush ballads he did for various movies.

Now Stan Bush was an 80’s movies voice. Who can forget “The Touch” which basically is another derivative version of “Jump”?

The lead break from Mick Sweda is emotional and perfect, but the star on this song is Mark Free, known since 1993 as Marcie Free, who delivers a vocal hero performance. And if you want to know which band does music like this today, look no further than Revolution Saints.

Lizzy Borden’s, “Me Against the World” kicks off side 2 and it’s basically “Rock N Roll’s Gonna Save The World” from Y&T done in Lizzy’s way. I never got into Lizzy Borden and I don’t why, because I do like this song. Especially the harmony solo section. If you haven’t heard it, find the song on YouTube and crank it. It rivals the harmony solo from “Round and Round” by Ratt.

“Take It Off” from King Kobra is okay. I always gave King Kobra a chance because Johnny Edwards is one hell of a vocalist.

The only time I’ve seen and heard of David Michael-Phillips is via this soundtrack. “King of Kool” is the song. And it’s AC/DC in the verses with a melodic rock style chorus attached. But in the end, I kept thinking of Britny Fox and I couldn’t bite.

Tempest with “Streetlife Warrior” is up next and it was the first time I heard the band. That 10 second intro had me interested, the verses lost me, and the chorus really lost me, then that brief melodic lead after the chorus had me interested again. So I listened through the verses and chorus again to see what else they could do instrumentally. But I didn’t commit any further than this song on the soundtrack.

The NWOBHM was alive and well with Hallow’s Eve and their song “D.I.E.”.

Even early Metallica was alive and well in Hallow’s Eve.

I really liked this song and I have no idea why I didn’t go deeper into their catalogue in the mid 90’s when I got this soundtrack. There are lyrical themes like don’t live your life worrying about things you can’t stop (in this instance it’s about death) because if you give into your fears, you became a slave to them.

D.I.E
Death in effect…..

And that’s it, the “Black Roses” soundtrack is a wrap….

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The Record Vault – Extra Sebastian Bach

Here is another addition from the box of the CD’s I found, to a previously reported Record Vault collection for Sebastian Bach.

“Give Em Hell” is the album.

It’s Bach’s fifth solo release, but only the third release to contain original studio recordings. It’s also at this point in time his last official release. Bach toured on this album, then went on an “18 And Live” tour and then went on a 30th Anniversary tour of Skid Row’s debut album.

As usual with a Sebastian Bach release, there is a crew of musicians, assembled to write and record the album, produced by Bob Marlette.

Steve Stevens co-wrote the songs, “Push Away”, “Had Enough” and “Gun To A Knife Fight” and also played on em. John 5 co-wrote the song “Temptation” and also plays on it. Duff McKagan plays bass on the whole album. Devin Bronson who is a songwriter and a guitarist co-wrote a lot of the songs and also plays the rest of the guitar tracks. Bobby Jarzombek is on drums, and if you are a Fates Warning fan, you would know of his work.

And there is a cover of “Rock N Roll Is A Vicious Game” from April Wine.

So let’s unpack it.

“Hell Inside My Head” is a rock and roll tour de-force. The riffs are excellent. Especially the intro melodic lead, which goes into a ZZ Top Texan groove.

“Destiny has put me to the test”

Who knows if there is a destiny or a pre-determined path?

What I do know is the choices I make or have made have definitely put me to the test on occasions many years later. Somehow I find a way through the chaos and madness.

“Harmony” has a melodic chorus, which is a good relief from the aggressiveness of “Hell Inside My Head”.

“All My Friends Are Dead” is one of my favourites on this album. The song is written by Bach, Bronson, Marlette and a person called Issac Carpenter. The intro riff is super heavy. Scorpions employed a similar riff for “The Cross” on the “Humanity” album.

The Chorus is catchy and the guitar playing throughout the song, is excellent, which is all done by Devon Bronson who is basically showcasing his abilities here.

“Temptation” has John 5 making an appearance on guitar. The songwriters are listed as Bach, John 5, Marlette and a person called Johnny Chromatic. I don’t know which songwriter wrote the intro riff, but it’s a monster. And the verses have a nice guitar riff, with a powerful melody from Bach.

“Push Away” is another favourite cut. This one is written by Bach and Steve Stevens.

The guitar playing is excellent. Stevens brings it.

And the way the song smoulders in the verses just to explode in the Chorus, works. But it’s the guitar playing that connects with me and from 3.08 to 4.28 it’s one of the best moments on the album, especially that guitar solo between 3.56 to 4.28.

In “Dominator”, Bronson takes the stage again with his guitar playing. It’s down tuned, like “Stockholm Syndrome” from Muse and heavy for a song that deals with bondage. And that last minute, the heaviness, brings back memories of Skid Row’s “Subhuman Race”.

“Had Enough” has a song writing committee of Bach, Bronson, Stevens, Marlette and a person called KS Anthony.

It’s sort of like a power ballad, but hang around for the 2.30 mark rolls around, the bridge riff and then the solo. And to top it off, there is an outro solo. For that alone, the song is high up on a list of mine, plus Bach delivers a vocal performance to rival his 80’s/early 90’s self.

“Gun To A Knife Fight” is written by Bach, Stevens, Marlette and KS Anthony. The verses roll while Bach delivers a vocal performance that will remind you of songs like “Psycho Love” and “The Threat”. And that melodic rock chorus needs more attention. And the lead break again is worthy of guitar hero status. On the three songs that Stevens appears, they have some of his best work on em.

“Taking Back Tomorrow” is needs more attention. But no one cares. The song structure and the riffs are excellent. This one is written by Bach, Bronson, Marlette and Issac Carpenter.

“Disengaged” is heavy, fast and aggressive. It rocks, it speeds, its melodic and Bach delivers a vocal line.

Bach always liked the heaviness in music and this album delivers on that hands down. And if you’re a fan of Steve Stevens and his style of guitar playing, the three tracks he makes an appearance on are essential listening.

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Hexes

“Hexes” is from the Tesseract album called “Polaris” released in 2015.

For those who don’t know, Tesseract are an U.K. act, who play a form of progressive rock. If you like genre titles, then they started off as a djent band which then morphed into a math rock style with atmospheric rock elements.

“Hexes” according to a quick search on the internet, means to cast a spell on/put a curse on.

And in this instance, our own decisions and past histories are the hexes we put on our lives.

It’s a progressive, atmospheric tune.

At its core, is a digital delay riff, which just keeps on building into an explosive syncopated progressive riff.

But let’s not forget the vocal melody and that haunting soft piano which just rumbles under the surface.

And that half time section from about 3.22 to the end.

It isn’t a secret this mind’s shrouded in history
It isn’t a secret this mind spirals in disarray
It isn’t a secret this mind shatters in mystery
It isn’t a secret I find terror in memory

Our thoughts are a secret. Unless we talk about em. But we don’t. Because we feel exposed and we don’t like to be exposed.

So we keep thinking and building more thoughts. Which we store away like memories. Fantasy clashes with reality and the mind is confused as to what is real.

History hexes us
I breathe again
History hexes us
I live again

Whatever happened in our past, it doesn’t mean our future is fixed. Each day is a new chance to breathe and live again.

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Cauterize

For those who don’t know, Mark Tremonti is the guitarist and main songwriter for Creed, which then morphed into Alter Bridge with Myles Kennedy.

But Creed and Alter Bridge live in the heavy/hard rock arena. In between downtime, Tremonti decided to hook up with some friends and pay homage to his metal influences.

If you want to hear speed metal then look no further than the “Cauterize” intro riff. The big thrash acts don’t even write riffs like this anymore.

The song then morphs into a Euro Metal tour de force with open string pedal pi

The last 35 seconds of the song feels like a jazz-fusion jam cranked through the car stereo with the window down and my hand half hanging out as I’m driving on a road full of hope and possibilities.

And the album is called “Cauterize,” but Tremonti was leaning towards “Providence” as the title of the record, until he went through all the lyrics and all the song titles, and when he looked at them “Cauterize” seemed like the most unique title.

Take the sun and cauterize
Make us pure again

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April 2020 – Part 4

The final post for April 2020.

Here is the Spotify link to all of it. Here are posts 1 and 2 and 3 which talk about new music in April.

And here are the songs from the first three months (Jan to Mar) who are still doing the rounds in April.

Circle The Drain
Machine Head

Up until last year, Machine Head had four members. Then drummer Dave McClain and guitarist Phil Demmel left. Actually they already left, but then committed to finishing off the tour as sort of a last farewell. I read some interviews where they said it was like “turning up for the pay check”.

Robb Flynn is the founding member of Machine Head and he continued the band after the departures.

Robb got drummer Chris Kontos and guitarist Logan Mader who played on the MH debut “Burn My Eyes” album (released in 1994) and they (with current Machine Head bassist Jared MacEachern) re-recorded that 94 album live in the studio. This iteration became known as the BME band. Then Robb did an acoustic cover of “Die Young” from Black Sabbath, released it on Spotify and it became my favourite track.

And Machine Head toured. But with two versions of the band. There was the BME band mentioned above and the “Classics” band, with the addition of Waclaw Kieltyka on guitar and Matt Alston on drums.

So the “Classics” band would play all the Machine Head classics, and then the “Classics” band would go off and the “Burn My Eyes” band would come to play that album in its entirety.

From a new song perspective, he dropped two songs with different musicians (yep different from the dudes mentioned above). I couldn’t even keep track of who is who and I like looking at the credits.

I didn’t like “Do Or Die”, but I do like “Circle The Drain” and I enjoyed watching the making of videos. I like how it all came together and how a conversation with a friend about his relationship “circling the drain” finally nailed the title down. The drummer on “Circle The Drain” is Navene Koperweis.

It’s a great song and when Robb Flynn sings melodically, it’s a pretty cool moment. I still remember when I was watching the making of “Through The Ashes of Empires” album in 2003, and Robb Flynn is playing an acoustic guitar and playing Tesla’s “Love Song”. And I was like F yeah”. This dude knows his shit.

Feeling Whitney
Royal Bliss

It’s a cover of a Post Malone song about addictions and looking for that fix. The Post Malone version has more of a “Dust In The Wind” acoustic feel, while Royal Bliss turn it into a modern rock song.

Running Up That Hill
Naked City
Jorn

These two cover songs from Jorn would probably never go out of this playlist. The Kate Bush cover about making a deal with God to swap places is excellent and“Naked City” is one of my favourite cuts from the “Dynasty” album.

Come Clean
H.E.A.T

The Chorus on this song is so catchy.

Lyrically it’s not the best, about moving on to other partners but he can’t stop thinking about his ex. But the melody and the execution is excellent, and it’s melodic rock so who cares about the lyrical message.

Because Of You
Storm Force

I love the keys in the start, the nod to “The Who” as an influence and the major key 70’s feel of the verses.

And when the Chorus rolls around, it seals the deal.

Because of you I will climb a little higher

There is always someone there, who has your back, mentoring and supporting you. Remember that and never feel alone. It could be a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, a friend, a mentor.

Aeromantic album
The Night Flight Orchestra

Yep, the whole album is still doing the rounds.

“Transmissions”, “Aeromantic”, “Taurus”, “Carmencita Seven” and “Dead Of Winter” kept getting a lot of listens this month.

That’s not to say that the other tracks like “Divinyls”, “If Tonight Is Our Only Chance”, “Sister Mercurial”, “Servants Of The Air”, “Golden Swansdown”, “This Boy’s Last Summer” or “Curves” are no good. Because based on my mood anyone of them would become my favourite for a day.

Mr Big Shot
Collateral

This song reminds me so much of the songs from Skid Row’s self-titled debut and it just keeps getting spins from me. And it’s also from the debut album of Collateral.

Since this song has been four months in my playlist, I thought I should find out more.

Clicking on their bio on their website, it tells me, “Ripped jeans, cowboy boots, long hair and make-up, Collateral are a band that look and sound like a stadium rock band”. I know most stadium bands didn’t wear ripped jeans and cowboy boots, but hey, who cares, its rock and roll so let’s go with that imagery.

I think I have mentioned before that Collateral are from South East Kent in the U.K.

Remember a time when the UK led the way for rock and roll, with Cream, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, Free, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Steppenwolf, Slade, Mott The Hoople and David Bowie. And then the U.K did it again in the 80’s with the NWOBHM and New Wave.

Maybe the modern streaming age is seeing another revival. Sweden definitely has something special happening with their many different scenes focusing on different styles of rock and metal, like melodic rock, hard rock, progressive rock/metal, thrash metal and death metal. UK bands have also made their way into my playlists and my headspace as well.

Let’s see where it all goes.

Aftershock
Swallowed By The Machine
The Death Of Me
Harem Scarem

There are a lot of good cuts on Harem Scarem’s album and the guitar playing from Pete Lesperance is excellent. “Swallowed By The Machine” at this point in time and for the mood I am in, is getting a lot of attention.

We’re falling into dystopia
It’s crumbling before our eyes
Black mirror reflecting all our lives

I love technology, I work in technology and I am careful to switch off and not let those black mirror devices take control every single minute of the day.

Days of judgement upon us
Broken and demoralized
March into the vortex single file

It’s like a dystopian movie, where the human race is lined up, like cattle, waiting for their turn to walk into confusion and dizziness.

Because it feels like the world tries to do that.

With so much information at our fingertips, we don’t know what to click on and read sometimes. Every story has a point of view of the writer, and they are laced with some facts, a little bit of lies and a little bit of fiction. And then people try to pass it off as “truth”.

We all have dreams, we all have doubts
Be careful which you feed
And don’t get swallowed by the machine

Feed the correct hunger and walk the road you want to walk.

Watching “The Last Dance” and seeing those years roll by, man, it brings back some crossroads decisions. I can’t dispute the decisions made, because I am here today, with a wife and three kids. And I am content, happy.

I have no doubt that if I made a different decision, I wouldn’t have what I have today and I probably wouldn’t be in the same place mentally. But I still wonder, what if because the machine still rolls on, beckoning me to step inside.

Fake News
Turn The Light On
Shakra

The intro riff on “Fake News” reminds me of that GNR and Skid Row swagger.

And it’s good to hear these kind of influences, because Shakra (from Switzerland) are a band which defines the meaning of perseverance and grit.

Imagine a hard rock band, being formed in 1995, when the Grunge movement was on a decline and Industrial Metal like Ministry and NIN was becoming a thing, Tool was still a relatively unknown band, as “Aenima” was a few years away from being released and Korn was a few years away from their breakthrough and the start of the Nu-Metal movement.

25 years in the business and twelve albums down. Not bad at all.

Bubbles
Framing Hanley

These guys started off in 2005. They got signed and released two albums on a record label in 2007 and 2010. The band left their label and created a Kickstarter campaign for the next album, by asking their fans to donate a dollar.

That album is “The Sum Of Who We Are”, released in 2014.

They went on a break for three years between 2015 and 2018. And finally they have a new album out in 2020 and the song “Bubbles” just refuses to go away.

I Can’t Be The Only One
Killswitch Engage

I like Killswitch Engage.

The riffs are a cross between melodic rock, hard rock, heavy metal and groove metal. On occasions there are thrash and black metal riffs and a nod to Sweden’s metal scene around 1992 to 1998.

The vocals move between screamed and melodic. And screaming the way they do, it takes a toll on the vocal chords.

During the album making, vocalist Jesse Leach had to have throat surgery to remove a polyp and then 3 months of speech, vocal and scream therapy. And no vocalist wants to hear, that there could be a chance they could never sing again.

And you know how much I hate labels. Here is what Jesse Leach said on the issue of being classed as Metalcore in an interview at the excellent Consequence of Sound website.

“You know how genres go. That term has been so bastardized, I don’t even know what it means. When I think of Killswitch, I don’t think metalcore, I think metal, in general. I get people gotta categorize it, I get that, but you ask me, I don’t know, because I don’t even listen to metalcore. We came from the hardcore scene. We were hardcore kids who were into metal. That’s where the ‘metalcore’ came.”

This is an alternate edit from the track released on 2019’s “Atonement” album. And I really like the below lyrics.

Divided we’ve become, this fight has just begun
But I can’t be the only one
Together we overcome with a truth they can’t outrun
But I can’t be the only one

United we overcome

“Habit” by Adelitas Way, “All Eyes On You” by Smash Into Pieces, “The First Time” by Khymera, “Shadowman” by One Desire, “Broken” by FM and “Fly Like An Eagle”, “Legacy” and “Lay Me Down” from In This Moment are also getting spins.

And that’s it for my April listening. It’s only taken me half a month to complete.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity

IsoRamblings And IsoThoughts

In the last couple of years, everything we knew has changed. The tech heads who we pledged our loyalty and private information to, stopped innovating and started protecting their riches, selling out data and search/like histories to everyone and anyone.

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data breach.

It’s old news now. Irrelevant. That’s how quickly we move on.

And then comes a company called Clearview who builds a database of peoples faces which can track where that face appeared by using cameras in streets, shops and traffic lights.

Sounds scary right.

But the scary part is that, we the public, willingly gave em our faces and we didn’t even know we were doing it, because of our social media accounts or tags from other social media accounts that didn’t haven’t their privacy set high.

And the biggest topic before COVID-19 was climate change. It got that big that grown adult men felt threatened and decided to make fun of Greta Thunberg.

But Michael Moore has brought that topic back in the conversation with his latest documentary. Moore definitely knows how to stir up shit. But that was last week’s news, it doesn’t even rate a mention today.

And what side are we on for COVID-19?

Are we on the “health before the economy” side or the “economy before health” side.

The Governments are really about the economy and if people die, so be it, it’s all collateral damage.

How will live music return to the masses?

You can’t really practice social distancing and one person per 4 metres square in a live venue.

Bryan Adams went on a Twitter meltdown because he couldn’t do his residency and Brent Smith from Shinedown wants to tour because he’s healthy and eats right and he’s telling his fans to do the same. And if they do, they will be fine in the venue together and not get Coronavirus. Umm, yeah.

And the U.S via Trump are getting a lot of press around the world for the wrong reason. And he keeps calling it the China Flu.

Do people even know that the Spanish Flu started in a farm in Kansas, USA and was then spread to the local garrison there and then spread all around the world by US troop movements during WWI?

It was a U.S flu.

And even back then the leaders of the U.S failed to acknowledge it, and they put economics before public health. It didn’t turn out too well did it.

And I never thought in my lifetime I’ll see a pandemic. But I have.

And music still lives. It thrives. Because of digital distribution. And if that stops I still would have my collection.

So read critically, read from different sources and make up your mind that way, because our leaders are not the ones to trust.

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

April 2020 – Part 3

The third installment of April 2020 new music.

Here is the Spotify link. Here are posts 1 and 2.

An Ill-Fated Wonder
Scar Of The Sun

A metal band from Athens, Greece.

This is the beauty of Spotify and music in general right now. For the music styles I like, Spotify tells me the style is vibrant and alive all over the world.

If the record labels still controlled the distribution chain, they will have the world believe that beats and hip hop is the only style.

The open string legato intro gets me interested. And the whole song reminds me of the Paradise Lost, “Draconian Times” album merged with “Shogun” from Trivium.

Hope and pray
Long the day
That your lie turns asunder
Pure dismay
Gone astray
From this ill-fated wonder

And the breakdown section from about 3.40, when it goes to clean tone and then the build-up starts which moves into the open string melodic lead, with double kick drumming. Well, its head banging time.

The Way You Bleed
Taking Dawn

From the U.S.

Originally the band was called “7th Son”. So you can have a guess as to which band is an influence. They changed their name to “Taking Dawn” and a Roadrunner contract came soon after.

Roadrunner is known for its “excellent and non-existent Artists Development Department”, so when the first record didn’t set the world alight commercially, the label dropped them and signed another fresh band.

Then there was some band member changes and the need to use a different name for a few years in “Devils Run” and an eventual return to the “Taking Dawn” band name.

Taking Dawn came into my life because of a few excellent covers in “The Chain” from Fleetwood Mac and “Black Diamond” from Kiss. So I have been following them on Spotify.

What an intro. It reminds me of so many other songs. The acoustic guitar part reminds me of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “The Housing Of The Rising Sun” and when the distortion kicks in, it’s a smorgasbord of power chords, open string pedal tones, hammer ons and pull offs.

Why can’t you see the beauty in the way you bleed

Turn Away – Radio Edit
Sunflower Dead

A great hard rock song and I know nothing about the band. If it sticks around then I might do a Google search.

Light From Within
My Wicked Twin

A blog I follow, mikeladano.com had a post-up about this album. You can view it here. There is nothing to add except put it on and enjoy.

And the vocal melody in the verses, like the first four lines, are very “Alice In Chains like” in style and delivery. But the music is so far removed from Alice In Chains sludgy vibe.

From A Whisper To A Scream
Gathering Of Kings

I like melodic rock and Europe is leading the way with this kind of music.

Gathering Of Kings keeps delivering on their melodicism’s. The keyboard riff is hooky and it gets me interested straight away.

And the lead break brings back memories of the 80’s Shrapnel Artists.

Perfect.

The Whole “Catastrophist” Album
Trivium

I don’t think there is a better metal act than Trivium right now.

Robb Flynn on Twitter called it a masterpiece.

And I agree.

The Kerrang review said, “you can hear just how much they love heavy metal, injecting elements of thrash, melodic death metal and black metal throughout the 10 songs.”

And I agree.

The Metal Hammer review over at loudersound.com states “ The Sin And The Sentence got Trivium back on the horse. “What The Dead Men Say” has them winning again. One of metal’s most beloved bands are on the form of their lives right now. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

And I agree.

The excellent Sonic Perspectives website, said this; “There is something in this album for everyone, but one might not know what it is until the song has already hit them straight in the chest with its might. Wherever Trivium steps from here, be it down this same path or diverging elsewhere, it will be in the shadow of “What the Dead Men Say.””

And I agree.

I’ll have a review of this album soon as for me there is just so much to unpack.

Freight Train
Vandenberg

Adrian Vandenberg can still write a great song.

“Freight Train” is great because it has a lot of quality riffs, a killer lead break by Vandenberg, which is a lot longer than some of his 8 second teaser lead breaks he did with the “Moonkings”.

Did I mention the chorus vocal line is pretty cool as well?

Like a freight train
Burning down the tracks
Nothing can get in my way
Like a freight train
No looking back
Make no mistakes, I’m here to stay

Adrian Vandenberg is a freight train.

When he sets his mind to come back, he comes back. When he set his mind to pull back and go underground and focus on his art and painting, he did just that. As a fan of his 80’s stuff, I am happy to see that he’s here to stay.

Got no time to hesitate
Never take the easy way
Don’t look back on bad decisions made

What’s done is done.

There’s no way to turn back time, it’s important to move on and live in the now.

Hazard
Long Distance Calling

They play instrumental music, but it’s more of a groove, a band jamming on a groove and seeing where all of the different textures take em. Very different to guitar solo instrumental music like Vai, Satriani and so forth.

And I like it.

Maybe because it reminds me of Tool.

“Hazard” has this female spoken voice about AI’s developing skills that will overpower humans and as soon as the voiceover stops, the song kicks in with a dreamy lead break and the texture gets louder, frantic and sombre.

Its brilliant to listen to.

Always The Same – 2020 Remix
Whitesnake

This song came from out of nowhere and what a track. A left over from the “Flesh And Blood” album. The feel of the music, the vocal line. I dig.

It’s been one of those days when it all goes wrong

Man who hasn’t lived those days. You just can’t get a breath from drowning. Sometimes the wrongness is out of our control, sometimes its self-inflicted from words said or things not done or said.

Now it’s raining, raining in my heart
It’s always the same when were apart

No one wants to be alone. It’s more evident today than ever. For the person who lives alone, self-isolation is proving difficult because they have no one else to talk to when the tech is off. And it’s strange to type these words, because going out and socialising was illegal in lockdown.

The Whole Album
Revolution Saints

There will be a review coming up of this album soon.

In the meantime, if you like bands like Night Ranger (not because Jack Blades is in here, because Doug Aldrich plays that mf guitar like a combination of Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis), Journey (when they knew how to rock out) and of course melodic rock in general, then you should check this out.

If you liked the debut album, you should check this out. If you like the sophomore release, then you should check this one out.

Part 4 is coming up with the usual suspects which are still re-appearing from the start of the year.

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

The Record Vault – Bullet For My Valentine – Venom Edition

I didn’t know I had the CD until I opened up a box and there it was. Still in its wrapping along with a lot of other CD’s in their wrapping. I had a phase when I started streaming, where I just purchased a lot of CD’s online and just put them away in a box as I was streaming the album on Spotify. Based on what was in this box, there will need to be a “Record Vault” revision of some of the other artists as well.

Anyway, this post is about “Venom” released in 2015.

But I need to go back to the “Fever” album released in 2010, because that album started the hard rock and heavy metal phase of BFMV and it’s my favourite album. They followed “Fever” with “Temper, Temper” released in 2013, which went further in a hard rock direction. Like they had a live cover of “Whole Lotta Rosie” from AC/DC as a bonus track. But then again, they also had a Robert Tepper cover, “No Easy Way Out” on the thrash metal “Scream, Aim, Fire” album released in 2008.

But in 2015, they combined elements of all their releases into a very good album called “Venom”.

It was in my top 10 for 2015.

It had the speed metal, from the first two albums, it had the heavy metal and hard rock from the two albums just before “Venom”, plus it had a touch of growth with some modern influences and the digital delay U2 influence heard in the title track “Venom”.

I’ve said it before, BFMV is a melodic rock and hard rock band with thrash and metal influences, however fans of hard rock and melodic rock have not given this band a chance because of the screaming aspect or the classification with a different style because of record label marketing. Like metalcore.

And for a band with metal, hard rock and thrash roots who came out 2005, BFMV have massive numbers when it comes to streaming and YouTube views.

Massive.

And they tour relentlessly. I’ve seen em live and the band delivers.

“No Way Out” is relentless. A thrash-a-thon.

Looking out standing over the edge
Too numb to feel alive

Even though this song was written in 2015, the words are still relevant.

Will life return to normal once COVID-19 is all over?

Will people still gather in larger groups?

A scientist on TV said, there might not be a cure or a vaccine for COVID-19, but a treatment, like how they do with HIV. Its numbing.

Tell me why I feel like there’s no way out

The Chorus deals with the mental struggles of thinking there is no way out and we hate waiting for time to pass and we hate following rules but sometimes following rules is what we need to do.

This negativity
Is dominating and smothering me
I just can’t breathe

I can’t help but over analyse events, thinking that some of the people I deal with have other motives, saying one thing to my face and saying something else behind my back.

The negativity is not productive and its torturous. This was heaps prominent when I was younger and as I got older, my care factor for these kinds of analysis went to ZERO. Other things are more important than putting thoughts in my head which don’t exist.

The guitar solo while brief is quality. And it ends with the same thrash-a-thon that it began with.

“You Want A Battle? (Here’s A War)” from Bullet For My Valentine (BFMV) starts off with a call to arms which is familiar to people who grew up in the 80’s.

“We will not take this anymore, These words will never be ignored, You want a battle? Here’s a war”

And the band blasts in with some pretty cool riffage.

The message based on the first three lines, is the same between Twisted Sister’s war cry of “we’re not gonna take it”, to Bullet For My Valentine’s “we will not take this anymore”.

But the subject matter is a bit different if you look at the film clips.

While in the 80’s, the enemy for Dee Snider and Co. was the disciplinary parent while the BFMV music video the enemy is the abusive parent and the violence in the family, until the victims get their revenge. And the Genus lyrical annotations state the song is about bullying.

Don’t suffer in your silence
Know you are never alone

Vocalist and guitarist, Matt Tuck, said that he suffered a lot of bullying at school because he was the heavy metal kid with long hair that didn’t fit in and how it took him a lot of time to finally stand up for himself. I find it strange that this kind of

From about the 2.50 minute mark there is this bridge like section which I like and then when the outro chorus kicks in with an open string melodic lick under it, its head banging stuff.

“Army Of Noise” could have come from an 80’s album.

Lights out, fist raised
Adrenaline rushing infecting our veins
Now feel the heat as the temperature spikes
Bodies are thrashing the fire ignites

Metallica’s “Kill Em All” album has this vibe with “Seek And Destroy”, “Metal Militia”, “Whiplash” and basically every other song except “The Four Horsemen” and “Jump In The Fire”. The first two songs on the “Ram It Down” album from Judas Priest have this vibe.

So here we are
Weapons in arms
Army of noise has come to destroy
We will not fall

How things change. Hard Rock music went from “noise” to “acceptable” to “mainstream”. And it got heavier and it was till acceptable.

What is classified as noise these days?

“Worthless” is a typical “FU”.

You can keep all your apologies
Those words are worthless to me
And I don’t wanna hear that you’re sorry
Your words mean nothing to me

Take that.

And all the songs are underpinned by great riffage, excellent shredding and drumming.

There was an additional 3D style cover but the photo below doesn’t do the V and the snake justice.

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