Accept in the 90’s didn’t exist for me. It wasn’t until 2008/09 that I started to re-listen to Accept and check out their 90’s output.
But the big problem with anything to do with the 90’s was confusion. The 90’s just kept striking out 80’s bands because they felt lost and didn’t know how to fit in. Gone was the label support and the people left around just didn’t know what to do.
If you don’t believe me, press play on Dio’s “Angry Machines” or Dokken’s “Shadowlife” or “Generation Swine” by Motley Crue. Confused. Yep, so was Ronnie and Don and Nikki/Tommy.
And as a fan of hard rock and heavy metal music, I was even more confused why these popular 80s bands couldn’t keep on releasing great albums in the 90’s.
On this album, Accept is mainly staying true to their roots. They have incorporated some 90’s groove and sounds and a little bit of 70’s Scorpions, however their sound is still AC/DC meets Judas Priest.
I read some of the reviews of this album recently and man, people don’t like it. I can hear why people would hate this album as there are musical elements on this album that can be classed as “what the” moments. But this album shows a band trying to survive in a hostile musical climate towards them. And it didn’t matter to me what new musical element they brought in, as it still sounds like Accept and it still sounds like Metal.
So “Predator” is studio album 11, released in 1996. It was produced by Michael Wagener and it is their last recording with singer Udo Dirkschneider.
Joining Udo here is the great Wolf Hoffmann on guitars, Peter Baltes on bass and drums are played by Michael Cartellone, fresh from his Damn Yankees gig.
This is Accept doing AC/DC and I like it. A lot.
A head banging riff like “Balls To The Wall” underpins this song.
Baltes and Udo do lead vocals on this and the vocals of Baltes just don’t work for me here.
There is also this country like open sting lick played between the Chorus and Verse which I like.
Making Me Scream
This song has a 90’s alternative metal groove as the rhythm, however the exotic lead over it makes it classic Accept.
You could almost say it’s like the embryo of “Black Label Society”. The heaviness also reminds me of the self-titled Motley Crue album.
Diggin’ in the Dirt
Remember that song “Three Little Pigs”, well it reminds me of that. It has a similar vibe.
Lay It Down
The music on this song is excellent.
Baltes does the lead vocals here and he does a great job.
The Chorus is a rocker and anthemic.
There is no way that Zakk Wylde can say he never heard this song, because it so Black Label Society and that band was a few years away, however Zakk had created his embryonic incarnation with “Pride And Glory”.
If this song doesn’t make you bang your head, check for a pulse.
It Ain’t Over Yet
Baltes does the lead vocals again on this sleazy rocker.
I’m not a fan of this song at all.
Its speed metal, old school and I love it. Just press play to hear the wah riff between 1.08 and 1.12. It’s only four seconds but its excellent.
And the lead break is classic Hoffmann. Press play on that as well.
Take Out the Crime
The love for AC/DC is back here.
Don’t Give a Damn
And you get to hear AC/DC again. And I like it.
Run Through the Night
The intro riff reminds me of “Aint Talking Bout Love” from Van Halen. Press play to hear how a derivative riff is created.
The drums sound like they belong on a Gloria Estefan or Janet Jackson album. The song “Black Cat” comes to mind. Baltes does the lead vocals here, but the song is a skip for me. A terrible way to end the album.
“Predator” was the last Accept album for 14-years. Udo would never return.
But I feel they are bigger now than they’ve ever been. “Blood Of The Nations” came first in 2010 and each release afterwards has built on their return.
Mark Tornillo on vocals is excellent and a perfect song writing partner for Wolf Hoffmann. That’s not to say that others didn’t contribute. Bassist Peter Baltes was also a song writing partner while he was in the band and new bassist Martin Motnik contributes along with long time lyricist Deaffy, otherwise known as Gaby Hoffmann.
While hated, do yourself a favour and check out songs like “Hard Attack”, “Crossroads”, “Lay it Down” and “Crucified”. From there you can make up your own mind.
This would start a trend with Dream Theater that after each studio album, a live album would follow from the tour. Kevin Shirley was on hand to produce and record it. But Shirley was stressed as he only had two days to mix and fix it. In the book “Lifting Shadows” by Rich Wilson, Shirley mentioned that on this live album there were a lot of fixes.
The show was recorded at the Bataclan Theater in Paris however the tour began September 1997 in Brazil. And before it even started, they had to get new management. Remember the manager who won the battle to remain manager, well he left. He wasn’t feeling it anymore. The management team that came in proved so much worse. The band was lost and needed direction. These new guys didn’t provide it, but they had no problem spending money. And when the band fired them the managers sued em.
Furthermore, Petrucci and Portnoy were at loggerheads. Portnoy still had a chip on his shoulder over Petrucci choosing to go with Shirley’s ideas and the disagreements they had over which manager would get the gig. During the tour, Portnoy even fired Petrucci’s guitar tech, which didn’t go down well with Petrucci.
Portnoy also announced to the band that he is quitting once the tour is finished. So in retrospect this live album could have been the last official release.
The album cover, one of two designed by Storm Thorgerson for the band, shows an overhead view of the ancient Roman theatre in Orange, France set into a head of a monk. Like “Falling into Infinity” it does not feature the band’s word mark due to Storm’s demand who sees logos as ugly.
This would also be the last album to feature Derek Sherinian on keyboards as his short tenure in the band would come to an end.
A Change of Seasons I: The Crimson Sunrise
So from a concert perspective, they split “A Change Of Seasons” into its separate parts and scattered them throughout the concert.
The acoustic intro gets the crowd singing along, ala Maiden like. Trust the Europeans (and the South Americans) to give a concert a football (soccer) like atmosphere. As soon as the band kicks in, its heavy and precise.
A Change of Seasons II: Innocence
They move into part 2 effortlessly. LaBrie is strained but does a great job. He’s a professional. Sometimes singers have 10 from 10 performances and some days they have 7 from 10. It’s still a good performance.
Puppies on Acid
Is basically “The Mirror” and a bit of “Lie” from the “Awake” album combined to serve as a segue into “Just Let Me Breathe”. Strange choice.
Just Let Me Breathe
From the “Falling To Infinity” album.
The song is great musically. I’m not a super fan of the vocal melodies, but I do like how they had the balls to try melodies like that.
One of my favourite tracks from the “Awake” album.
Press play to hear the intro, the way the Chorus crashes in musically and the excellent Petrucci solo. If anything, Petrucci’s playing live is even better than the studio recordings. He’s so precise, yet he still creates room for some improvisation. And that my friends is the meaning of a great musician.
LaBrie unfortunately is difficult to listen to, especially the high notes.
Take The Time
The first track from their biggest album so far, “Images and Words”.
Check out the funky first verses. You will feel like you are in the 70’s. It’s the beauty of the band, to be so diverse musically.
The ending contains the solo from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” and the main riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick”. This is the kind of improvisation I like.
Derek Sherinian Piano Solo
I hate individual solo spotlights without any backing music to it.
For the purists, the brief solo does contain portions of “Platt Opus” which would be released on the debut Platypus album, (a progressive rock supergroup to which Sherinian and John Myung were members of, and they released their first album a year after this album).
However Sherinian tries to make his solo spotlight tie in with “Lines In The Sand”.
Lines In The Sand
From the “Falling into Infinity” album.
This song works live and LaBrie doesn’t need to strain his voice here as this song is more in the lower registers.
Petrucci again delivers a killer a guitar solo. All the emotion he committed to tape is here, live. The bends, the vibrato and the fast legato lines. Even Labrie at the end, mentioned, “John Petrucci on guitar people”.
The solo segues into my favourite part of the song. A groove is established and LaBrie is in his Pete Gabriel element here. Petrucci decorates like Alex Lifeson on the guitar. Then at 9.36, Petrucci starts to build it up, taking parts of the intro, and adding a lot of grease and blues. Then his Lifeson decorating with power chords and ringing open strings is back. Portnoy gets busier and the band cranks into the main riff of the song.
From the “Awake” album.
Ballsy move to play another epic track straight after an epic track, but then again, Dream Theater didn’t get to this stage, playing by the rules.
A Change of Seasons IV: The Darkest of Winters
And this is a perfect example of not playing by the rules. When they go into the instrumental section of “A Change Of Seasons”
And after 3 minutes of “The Darkest Of Winters”, they go into their instrumental masterpiece from “When Dream and Day Unite”, the “Majesty” spelt backwards “Ytse Jam”. And as soon as the intro riff kicks in, the crowd is chanting along with them.
This kind of set list is preaching to the converted.
Mike Portnoy Drum Solo
A 5 minute drum solo and the last 2 minutes is the ending of “Ytse Jam”.
But it’s a next for me.
Trial of Tears
From the “Falling into Infinity” album. The first two minutes has Petrucci playing “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind”, with Portnoy channelling Neal Peart from Rush.
From the “Falling Into Infinity” album.
The “Live At Budokan” version is the definitive version for me. The flamenco Al DiMeola like noodling at the start which is present on the “Budokan” version is here as well, just a bit more embryonic. And the solo sticks to script here, it doesn’t have the long shred solo from “Budokan”.
LaBrie doesn’t need to strain much here, and vocally he’s bringing it.
Take Away My Pain
From the “Falling into Infinity” album. I didn’t think it would end up in a set list as it’s not one of the stronger songs from the album.
Caught in a Web
From the “Awake” album. The tempo is sped up just a little bit and it works perfectly. You can feel the energy hit you from the speakers.
From the “Awake” album. Like “Caught In A Web” before it, the tempo is sped up a little bit and its perfect for the song. It sounds more energetic and powerful.
From the “Falling into Infinity” album and the band definitely shows which songs influenced the song as they go into portions of “Have a Cigar” from Pink Floyd and “Enter Sandman” from Metallica. Press play to hear it.
John Petrucci Guitar Solo
An 8 minute guitar solo which contains a portion of a song that would become “Paradigm Shift” from a side project called “Liquid Tension Experiment”, which Portnoy and Petrucci would form after this period with future Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess and bassist Tony Levin.
The ending of the album begins with “Pull Me Under”, “Metropolis” and “Learning To Live”. My three favourite songs from “Images And Words”. And they finish it off how they started, with the final chapter of “A Change Of Seasons”.
For a live album, it is the least favourite live album in the “Dream Theater” catalogue. I don’t go back to it much, however as the title states, it’s a capture of a time, a period. So enjoy it for what it is, a band on the verge of breaking up but keeping it all together for their love of music.
And a DVD release came out as well. But that review is for another day.
Every label head said Schenker was finished, washed up.
It’s 1991 and a supergroup called Contraband drop their debut album. And it keeps on dropping because it is so bad. The nice advance payment that Schenker got to be involved in the project didn’t do much to enhance or move forward his career. In fact his manager and ex-partner took most of it.
But he stays alive, because he’s a lifer. When you have been in the game for this long, the only thing you know how to do is play. And play he did. He jumped on board the unplugged bandwagon and released an album. He called up Robin McAuley and released another McAuley Schenker studio album.
Then he re-unites with Phil Mogg and they start writing. The songs got the labels interested and the “Walk On Water” album from UFO, released in 1995 surprised everyone. Suddenly Schenker was back on the agenda and he’s getting money thrown at him again. He had a lot of bad people in his life at this point in time, from managers and partners, so it was always going to happen that MSG would return.
I didn’t think it would be that quick. Because a year after “Walk On Water”, “Written In The Sand” is released, the eighth full-length studio album that falls under the MSG brand.
The only thing consistent with all of these MSG albums is the name and Michael Schenker himself. The other members are in a constant flux. For this album, Schenker is joined by Leif Sundin on vocals, Shane Gaalaas on drums, and Barry Sparks on bass. All the music is by Michael Schenker and all lyrics by Leif Sundin.
Ron Nevison is doing all the Producing, Engineering and Mixing.
It’s not on Spotify which irks me, but YouTube has it.
Brave New World
It’s got groove, swing and lot of rock and roll. And the first thing that grabs my attention are the vocals from Leif Sundin. His voice is very melodic, fluid and unique. I would say he’s up there as one of the best singers in MSG.
The lead breaks are impressive, with Schenker even soloing over a harmony solo which acts as a rhythm guitar.
Cry No More
Press play to hear the intro. Its heavy and a lot of acts who went alternative to survive weren’t doing riffs like this during this period. The song could have been on a Deep Purple album and it wouldn’t be out pf place.
It’s a ballad that turns into a rocker. It’s not original, yet it is an easy listen.
Back to Life
No one was writing riffs like this in 1996. Its old school and I like it. Barry Sparks is massive on the bass here as well.
Written in the Sand
This track is essential MSG. It has a sleazy bluesy riff and a lot of melody. And Schenker delivers a tasty guitar-solo in the middle and for the outro.
It wouldn’t be an MSG album without an instrumental. This one has an “Eruption” vibe before moving into a fast blues. Think of “Hot For Teacher” when it picks up.
Love Never Dies
Imagine “Finish What Ya Started” merging with the melodic rock genre. Well this is the outcome. Another close favourite with a killer Schenker lead break.
I Will Be There
Press play to hear the verse riff. Schenker makes it sound technical, yet it rocks so fluidly.
Take Me Through the Night
Its classic heavy metal while the singing is happening and the solo section is barroom blues brawling.
It wouldn’t be out of place on any metal album from the early 80’s.
Down the Drain
The album closer showcases how Schenker decorates in a creative way. You cannot ignore how good it is.
While Schenker’s North American career had stalled, he was still a big draw in Japan and certain European markets. And just like that, the whole “Contraband” affair was forgotten. That is if you heard the album. Which wasn’t easy to do.
If the style of the artwork looks familiar, it should. Its Ken Kelly doing the cover. If you have “Destroyer” and “Love Gun” from Kiss, “Rising” by Rainbow, “Space Invader” by Ace and other albums by Manowar like “Fighting The World” and “The Triumph Of Steel”, then you would have been exposed to Ken Kelly.
Should be called “Duller Than Hell” and Motley Crue also want their title back. Or they should have used their war cry “Death To False Metal” as the album title as the songs themselves are too derivative of earlier Manowar and could be classed as false.
It’s their eighth album, released on October 1, 1996. After the expiration of their contract with Atlantic, the band did a big money move to Geffen Records and this is their first offering. For an album on Geffen Records, the production is lifeless. Stale. Which is strange as the album was anticipated. And it was a running joke, if the album would ever get released as they approached four years from the previous studio album. Back then four years was a long time. These days bands go decades without releasing anything new.
Formed in 1980, Joey DeMaio on bass, keyboards is still the head honcho and main songwriter. Eric Adams is still the vocalist. It is the first album to feature guitarist Karl Logan, as well as the return of drummer Scott Columbus.
Dee Snider once posted on Twitter, if people should listen to an artist if they did a crime that doesn’t sit well with you.
Guitarist Karl Logan was arrested in 2019 for child pornography offenses. I questioned myself if I should review this album or not review it. I decided to review it, since all the songs are written by kingpin DeMaio.
My opinion of the album still hasn’t changed.
It’s a parody of their former albums, like “Fighting The World”. The guitar playing is boring.
While former guitarist Ross The Boss played riffs, the new guy plays chords. They might as well have gotten Richie Sambora to play chords. He would have done a more livelier job. And maybe introduced a talk box into their sound.
I was always a Ross The Boss fan anyway and was pretty bummed when he was asked to leave the band he formed with Joey DeMaio by DeMaio himself circa 1988. At first, Ross the Boss was replaced by David Shankle, who left in ’94 after playing on “The Triumph of Steel”. I didn’t want to even listen to the album, but my cousin is a massive fan and he kept playing their new albums for me to check out.
Return of the Warlord
It’s very Judas Priest like. Think “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and “Heading Out The Highway”. Each song has a dedication in the CD liner notes, and this one is dedicated to Mary Hooton for all the years and all the tears.
Lyrically, its dumb and simple. While the musical climate in the 90’s started to get more introspective and introverted, Manowar was the opposite. They stayed big, bombast, epic and aloof.
Check-out lines like, “I got no money or big house just got life, I don’t like to save it’s more fun to spend, If you like metal you’re my friend, And that bike out in the yard well that’s my wife”.
Yep, I know the 90’s were hard on 80’s metal, yet Manowar survived writing stuff like this.
Brothers of Metal Pt. 1
It’s from 1986, so they must have had writers block. The lyrical themes of “Fighting for metal, that is real, brothers of metal standing together with hands in the air” was a running joke in 1996. The song is dedicated to Jeff Bova.
More lyrical Shakespeare with “Our hearts are filled with metal and masters we have none, and we will die for metal, metal heals, my son
The Gods Made Heavy Metal
Judas Priest again comes to mind, circa “Screaming For Vengeance” era. With lyrics that will either make you take up the fight for Heavy Metal or laugh at the parody of Heavy Metal.
We are treated to biblical lines like “the gods made heavy metal and they saw that is was good, they said to play it louder than Hell, we promised that we would”.
It’s dedicated to a person called Rainer Haensel, for always being ready for anything crazy and for never letting the band down.
Another song that was demoed in 1986, it’s a piano ballad in a major key. Very Queen like and on this album it is in memory of Anthony John Columbus III.
But it’s a skip for me.
One more song that was demoed in 1986 which is dedicated to Tom Miller for believing in the band no matter how crazy it seemed.
And Sylvester Stallone should of used lines like these in a “Rocky” or “Creed” movie. “Today is the day all the training through, we have come for the number one not the number two, let the contest begin play hard fight to win, immortality victory and fame”.
More of the same like the previous songs, the song is for the Manowar fans around the world who stand, shout, live and breathe MANOWAR METAL. I wouldn’t be surprised if “Manowar Metal” becomes a new genre in the years to come.
It’s another piano major key ballad for the first 90 seconds before it kicks in to more of the same. “Fighting The World” comes to mind here.
It’s dedicated to John Kalodner, their friend, brother and King. And they do him proud, with the lyrics, “Fight for the crown, fight for the ring, We’re fighting the world, we fight for the king”.
And if you grew up in the 80s you would have seen John
Today Is a Good Day to Die
A 9 minute instrumental that could belong in a Clint Eastwood Western.
They pull no punches in the CD notes when they say this song is dedicated to all the losers in the world who have tried to put Manowar and the Manowar fans down. As the Indians fought and died for their way of life, so shall Manowar. Great Spirit, they only wish to live long enough to urinate on the graves of their enemies.
Probably the best song on the album as it’s pace is frantic. And the Power is dedicated to artist Ken Kelly.
Manowar’s style is 80bpm chugging along rhythms. Most of their music is the key of Em. They celebrate heavy metal the way we knew it in the early 80’s, before it splintered into so many different categories. They make no apologies for it either. They do it their way, they have their core audience who are devoted to them and sustain them.
“Back In Black” from AC/DC is simple and it keeps you interested. “Louder Than Hell” is simple but it doesn’t keep me interested. Not like the earlier albums from Manowar.
Eric Adams on vocals is underrated and never spoken about when it comes to great vocalists. But they should talk about him a bit more. If you talk about Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillian, Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford, then Eric Adams should be in the same conversation. This album doesn’t do him justice, but check out the 80’s material.
Check it out if you want to hear a band carrying on the flag of 80’s Heavy Metal in the wastelands of Grunge, Alternative and Industrial.
I was a fan back in the day and I still enjoy cranking their tunes. They released two official albums that I am aware off, in “Rise” (2008) and “iMerica” in 2010. There was an “Unplugged EP” in 2012 and a Kickstarter project that release new songs to the backers only in 2014.
I hope Anew Revolution make more music. They have fans. We probably won’t make the band millions, but we will listen.
Once upon a time, it used to cost a lot of money to record. Very few acts, got signed and even less acts got a chance to record and get distributed. Getting inside the record label machine was hard, however if an act could penetrate, they could have a long career even if they never had a hit on the charts.
The label did have good intentions to keep you in the business and the label would promote you. All at your cost of course. But the truth is, it was harder to keep a record deal than to get a record deal. Especially if you didn’t sell. And even more so, once MTV came out and you didn’t sell.
Kiss benefited from this business model. They relied on the label putting some money upfront for the recording of the album, for the film clips and for tour support.
Then Napster came, then torrents, the iTunes store and streaming and Gene and Paul just kept on shouting it loud to everyone about how there is no music business, while they toured non-stop and made money from the music business.
In the process they recorded two albums during this period.
Yep, two albums. “Sonic Boom” and “Monster”. But for all of the complaining about streaming they did, the Kiss catalogue was on Spotify Australia. Then half of it was off. Then it was back on after a few weeks off. Madness.
I’m against bands withholding their music from a service that people legitimately pay for.
It’s all about consumption. Funds are tight, but Google and Spotify is not the problem. The artists are getting squeezed by the consumer. The consumer either listens or doesn’t want to listen to your music.
For any artist thinking of withholding their music from a streaming service, don’t do it. Don’t hold back progress. Because if you look at the past, you will see people who said the internet would kill the incentive to make music. Wrong, there’s so much more music than ever before. People said streaming would kill the business. Wrong, revenues are up and streaming is seen as it’s saviour.
A band called Dungeon is opening for Megadeth in Sydney. I knew of the name, but never heard any of their music. The band name just didn’t do it for me. It was my mistake. I listened with my eyes instead of my ears. Well that was to change.
After the gig, Dungeon was definitely on my radar and I did purchase a few of their albums. And as soon as I got into them, they called it quits.
You see, Lord was originally started as a side project for Dungeon guitarist/vocalist Tim Grose, which was meant as something different from his main band sound. Lord’s first album was released in 2003 and it wasn’t so different from Dungeon. After Dungeon disbanded in 2005, Lord just became a continuation of Dungeon’s sound with new members. You could even purchase Dungeon albums at shows Lord did.
“Set in Stone” is the third album released in September 2009 by the band’s own label Dominus in conjunction with Riot! Entertainment. The album was recorded in my home town of Wollongong, Australia. A small foot note in history, is that a band I was in at the time opened up for Lord when they played Wollongong touring on this album.
The band is Tim Grose (also known as Lord Tim) on vocals and guitars, Tim Yatras on drums, Mark Furtner on guitars and Andrew Dowling on bass.
Spectres of the Ascendant
48 seconds of sound effects to introduce “Redemption”.
Written by Tim Grose and drummer Tim Yatras, who would depart the band after the album was completed.
Its face melting speed metal.
Another Grose and Yatras track.
It’s hard rock, with a major key Arena melodic rock Chorus.
Co-guitarist Mark Furtner gets a co-write with Grose and Yatras.
Fast, Malmsteen like from the “Marching Out” album. The solo is very Vinnie Moore like, running through different scalar patterns.
Set in Stone
Another track written by Grose and Yatras.
My favourite song on the album. The intro riff is a brilliant mix of Classic NWOBHM and American metal. Judas Priest and Maiden come to mind, with vocals bordering between a cross between Dickinson and Tate at their classic metal best.
There is this “wo-oh-oh” chant after the solo. I can imagine thousands of people chanting it at a gig.
Someone Else’s Dream
Written by the band.
An 80’s sounding synth and a syncopated guitar line set the foundations. At stages it feels like it’s a song from the Gothenburg metal scene, but the Chorus is huge and melodic.
It’s almost Maiden like with a lot of musical influences from the “Fear of The Dark” album.
I play air guitar to the harmony guitars.
Written by Tim Grose, Tim Yatras and Andrew Dowling.
The lyrical theme is pretty clear. Boy falls in love, gets rejected and goes all Michael Douglas “Falling Down” on the girl and the world.
The guitar playing in the lead break is brilliant.
Beyond the Light
Written by the band.
Judas Priest and UFO “Lights Out” era comes to mind, vocally and musically. It’s a great song to sing along to.
The End of Days
Written by Grose and Yatras.
It’s like a thrash metal song, with the vocals being a cross between Rob Halford and Tom Araya (in the verses).
Staying true to its title it ends with a nuclear bomb going off.
Be My Guest
Written by Tim Grose, Tim Yatras and ex Dungeon bassist Brendan McDonald.
This is like “Stars” on guitar with a lot of guest solos.
It’s an instrumental track featuring guest solos from Craig Goldy of Dio, Glen Drover from Eidolon, Olof Mörck of Dragonland, Yoshiyasu Maruyama of the Japanese thrash band Argument Soul, Angra’s Felipe Andreoli, the former Enter Twilight member Richie Hausberger, Chris Porcianko from Vanishing Point, Chris Brooks and former Dungeon members Stu Marshall and Justin Sayers.
Written by Grose and Yatras. It’s your typical power ballads.
Pete Lesperance from Harem Scarem plays a solo on this.
On a Night Like This
A Kylie Minogue cover as the bonus track.
The fact that the band would attempt such a cover shows the versatility of the members.
Reviews for Australian artists are difficult to do as I want to highlight influences of their sound without making them sound like copyists, and if people from other continents want to check them out, my aim is to give them a reference point as well.
If you haven’t dabbled in the power metal genre, then let Lord be your entry point.
It’s easy really.
Just press play on the melodic rock tracks first like “100 Reasons” and “Beyond The Light”.
If you like em, then press play on the classic metal track, “Set In Stone”.
If you like that, press play on the more ambitious tracks like “The End Of Days” and “Forever”.
Then you are at the fast speed metal with “Redemption” and “Eternal Storm”.
In 1996, Sammy Hagar left Van Halen. Both camps tried to set the record straight as to why things happened like they did. It made for great reading, the press had a field day and the fans just wanted new music.
Enter an old flame.
David Lee Roth re-joined briefly and recorded two songs with the band for the 1996 compilation “Best Of – Volume I”. There is a story about this saga as well, but other sites on the web cover it better. As is the norm, Roth and Eddie clashed again and Roth was out, eventually replaced by Gary Cherone from Extreme.
However we got a “Best Of” album. And it sold well. I guess the public’s appetite to hear Roth with Van Halen again was sky high. I know in Australia it got a Platinum certification and in the U.S it was 3x Platinum.
The album was released on October 22, 1996. I basically purchased it for the two newly recorded Roth songs, “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” and “Me Wise Magic” plus “Humans Being” which did appear on the Twister soundtrack, however my first hearing of the song was on this compilation.
And this review would focus on those three songs.
Can’t Get This Stuff No More
I got so used to Sammy Hagar and his melodies.
So I wasn’t totally enthused to hear Roth deliver his vocals about a “date with a super model and how he doesn’t need so much to remember”. But Roth is Roth, and it’s why I am a fan. He never conformed nor did he change his style. And the Chorus is as good as any Van Roth chorus.
Eddie was also getting a lot more progressive with his song writing and bro Alex, did a great job to put a beat and feel to it all.
Check out the lead break rhythms and EVH talk boxing his way before he breaks open the gates of shred. For progressiveness check out the outro that just came from left field as it’s a unique piece of music on its own.
Wikipedia also tells me that the music for this song was based on a track called “Backdoor Shuffle” which was originally part of the sessions for the “Balance” album.
Me Wise Magic
As soon as I heard the intro I was picking up the guitar to learn it. Not sure what came first. “Test For Echo” or this. I can Google it, but who cares, as the intro does remind me of Rush. Roth moves between spoken verse to a frantic pre chorus and a killer Chorus with Michael Anthony nailing the backing vocals.
Both of the Roth tracks were produced by Glen Ballard who had a renaissance of some sort in the mid 90’s thanks to Alanis Morissette and “Jagged Little Pill”.
The way the song started is how it ends.
An example of what I meant with EVH being progressive in his writing. You don’t hear the Intro riff again in the song, until it appears in the Outro.
EVH’s working title was “The Three Faces of Shamus,” for its three sections with “completely different vibes going on”.
Roth was also asked to work with Desmond Child on the lyrics after he discarded (or rewrote) the words that Ballard wrote. But Roth is Roth, and no one tells him what to do.
Produced by Bruce Fairbairn.
The intro Em riff (E to G to A) hooks me instantly. It’s almost Metallica like, but also like Alice Cooper (think “I’m Eighteen”).
My favourite part of the song is when Sammy sings “Shine On”, and of course EVH chimes in with a quick melodic lead, which quietens down and then builds up again, full of octaves, whammy bar manipulations, superhuman bends over a droning E note and legato slides. And none of it would work if it wasn’t for the time keeping of AVH.
And there is a story around this song’s creation, but Wikipedia covers it pretty good.
WILL IT EVER BE FIXED TO REWARD THE CREATOR MORE THAN THE ORGANISATION?
I thought Stallone owned the “Rocky” franchises. Otherwise why would he be involved (by writing, directing and acting) in six movies and three spin offs. He did get paid to write the script but the power balance equation back in the 70’s meant Stallone had to keep his mouth shut or never work again. MGM created movies, and when they did so, it also created work for agents, lawyers and managers. No one wanted to upset anybody.
And just like that, a song from an artist is taken down on Spotify without any repercussions to the person making the false claim. And there is no counter notice. As the Torrentfreak article states; “The problem with Spotify’s system is that it’s relatively easy to flag a track and have it removed. However, there is no official option for the accused party to appeal the takedown. Instead, they have to resolve the matter with the accuser directly. If the accuser doesn’t respond, the artist is simply out of luck”.
And this puts the power back into the big labels who would find it easier to address wrongful takedowns than smaller independent artists, which creates an unfair situation.
While the artists cashed in once when they sold their rights, Hipgnosis is cashing in, over and over and over again. And since the Copyright Term in the U.S, lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years after their death, this will be a long time return as long as the music is still listened to. And our neighbours New Zealand just extended their terms by 20 years to make it 70 years from release date otherwise their free trade agreement with the EU couldn’t happen.
The “A Change of Seasons” EP from 1995, closed a chapter for Dream Theater that went back to those dark days without a deal.
After a short tour to promote the EP, they started writing songs in early 1996 for the follow up album to “Awake”. Derek Sherinian was a full-fledged member and was an extra addition to the song writing team.
Their label East West Records had folded into Elektra. Sylvia Rhone was now the President. Her interest in hard rock music was minimal. Nikki Sixx was also very anti-Sylvia, calling her from the stage on her mobile during Motley Crue concerts and getting the fans to scream “F U Sylvia Rhone.”
As written in the book, “Lifting Shadows” by Rich Wilson, Rhone wanted to drop Dream Theater or to transfer the contract to Warner International, however their success in Europe and Japan was bringing enough dollars to the label, so Elektra decided to keep them. However, they had to come up with more shorter tracks that radio could get behind.
Little did they know, that they would be in development hell for almost a year. Most of the songs they submitted to the label for approval, were met with the request to write more songs. Progressive songs like “Lines In The Sand” and “Trial Of Tears” got a muted response from the label, while songs like “Hollow Years” and “You Not Me” got the label excited.
On top of this was the dissolution of their management team, which had the band divided. Petrucci picked one manager and Portnoy picked the other. Eventually, Petrucci’s choice Rob Shore was selected as the manager and Portnoy’s choice Jim Pitulski went to court to recoup some of his losses.
Further to this, their friend in label hell, A&R Rep Derek Oliver left and his replacement, Josh Deutsch was already fed up with the band. As far as he was concerned, the band was selling enough to not be a liability to the label, so as long as he could get the new record out, they would make numbers.
12 plus months passed before Deutsch gave the go-ahead to record the new album, in March 1997. The list of producers the band submitted was ignored and Kevin Shirley who just did Aerosmith’s “Nine Lives” was hired. Shirley also recommended that the band work with Desmond Child to re-write “You or Me”, resulting in Petrucci being flown down to Florida to work on the song with Child. Following the sessions, the song became “You Not Me”. This infuriated Mike Portnoy as he didn’t like how Desmond Child would re-write one of the songs with just one band member.
Originally, Petrucci and Portnoy wanted to call it “Stream of Consciousness”, but the rest of the band rejected the name although the phrase “Stream of Consciousness” is found in the song “Lines in the Sand” and would later become the title of an instrumental song on “Train of Thought”. Its eventual title was proposed by Petrucci, and its cover art was designed by Storm Thorgerson.
When you write for that long, there is enough material for a double album, but Elektra said the approved budget is for a single album.
As a side note, Portnoy released the double album, when he did the Ytse Jam Records Demo series for the “Falling Into Infinity” demos release. It also got a re-release with Dream Theater’s “Lost Not Forgotten” Archives releases.
If you are a fan of the band, the demo releases are must haves, as you get to hear songs like “Raise the Knife”, “Where are You Now”, “Cover My Eyes”, “Speak to Me”, “The Way It Used to Be”, and “Metropolis Pt. 2”, which was later expanded into its own album and the rest being included on the 1999 fan club CD “Cleaning Out the Closet”.
As soon as the King Crimson inspired intro kicks in with the keys and guitars in harmony, I was hooked. John Myung comes in with a bass riff which is very Tool like and I like the way John Petrucci decorates, very Adam Jones/Tool like.
Mike Portnoy is the lyrical writer here, as he looks at the music industry.
Press play for the Verse Riff. Its heavy, its melodic and its influenced by the times, but it doesn’t sound dated as there is funk and there is groove.
James Labrie cops a lot of flak from fans and I am one of them, but he shows his versatility moving between Peter Gabriel like vocals, to Maynard James Keenan vocals, to Bluesy Paul Rodgers style vocals and yet he makes it all sound hard rock in his own LaBrie way.
Derek Sherinian on the keys is more like Kevin Moore in style.
For an opening track it got my attention.
You Not Me
Musically it’s written by Dream Theater and lyrically it’s done by John Petrucci with small additions from Desmond Child. After hearing the demo of this song, I think Child’s additions are more like Holly Knight’s addition to change the title of “Rag Time” to “Rag Doll” by Aerosmith. The original demo is called “You Or Me”. After Child was involved, it changed to “You Not Me”. The vocal melodies are there on the demo.
The riff is nu-metal before nu-metal was even a thing.
And I like its big Chorus and simple Verse/Chorus structure. I am a hard rock fan first who likes progressive music, so this song is right up my alley.
When they play this song live they go into “Enter Sandman” from Metallica as there a bits in the song that sound like they came from “Sandman”. If you get a chance to check out one of their live performances of this song, do it
Lyrics are written by John Petrucci. He is trying to tell an abuse story of person called Vanessa.
Musically, it’s got the dreamy arpeggios of Pink Floyd, with the metal crunch of Metallica. It’s a potent mix. And I like it.
The “Live At Budokan” version is “the” version to listen to. This is where the solo is extended to include some shredding from Petrucci and the outro is also extended. One thing that is guaranteed when you watch DT live, is you don’t just get the studio version of the song. Which is a good thing. It irks me when bands play the studio version of a song live. There are no musical conversations happening on stage. For some bands it works, like Metallica and Iron Maiden, as their song structures are very rigid.
It was released as a single and you can tell why. It moves between flamenco-classical style acoustic guitars to a melodic soft rock Chorus. Petrucci wrote the lyrics to the song.
Burning My Soul
Mike Portnoy’s lyrics were inspired by his frustration at their A&R man, Derek Oliver. Once seen as a supporter who got them signed was now seen as a roadblock, a gear in the label machine pushing the label “sign em and drop em” agenda.
Overall, it’s a great song. It’s metallic, with a lot of groove. Metallica wasn’t this heavy during this time.
It also marks the beginning of an excellent middle section of the album, that involves “Burning My Soul”, “Hell’s Kitchen”, and “Lines in the Sand”.
Producer Kevin Shirley made the decision to take out the middle section from “Burning My Soul” and turn it into a separate instrumental track.
Which I thank him for as “Hell’s Kitchen” is a 3 minute rollercoaster of emotions. Press play to hear John Petrucci at his melodic best.
Lines in the Sand
Lyrics are written by John Petrucci and press play to hear his guitar lead along with the verse/bridge section after the solo break.
King’s X’s Doug Pinnick also appears but James LaBrie stars here, twisting and morphing his voice across many different musical styles and genres.
At 12 minutes long, it didn’t feel boring at all.
Take Away My Pain
This is Dream Theater doing U2 while U2 was doing electro-techno rock.
Lyrically, John Petrucci writes about the death of his father and he decorates the song like “The Edge”.
And for people who said they sold out by writing a song like this, well they seem to forget that “Another Day”, “To Live Forever” and “Lifting Shadows Of A Dream” are very similar to this. So it was nothing new for Dream Theater to have songs like this on the album.
Just Let Me Breathe
Portnoy is throwing missiles at the music industry with his lyrics here. It deals with the media and how they purely exist to over report and sensationalise tragedy, like the deaths of Shannon Hoon and Kurt Cobain.
The drum and bass intro segues into the guitar riff kicking in. It’s heavy and groovy. Very “Liquid Tension Experiment” like which would come after this album.
Derek Sherinian solos here with Petrucci kicking in some harmonies. Then they trade off each other. Overall, I like the song musically but the vocal melodies didn’t resonate with me, although I do like how Portnoy wanted to try something different with the melodies.
James LaBrie has a lyrical contribution to a Dream Theater album. The song is a ballad, with a nice piano riff as its centrepiece but it wasn’t a favourite back then nor is it a favourite write now.
Petrucci does deliver a nice solo.
Trial of Tears
I wrote a whole blog post on this song. You can read it here. It’s in three sections but played as one complete 13 minute song. Bassist John Myung is the lyrical writer.
Section I is called “It’s Raining”, Section II is called “Deep in Heaven” and Section III is called “The Wasteland”.
James LaBrie again steals the show with the various vocal styles he exhibits here. And Petrucci is on hand to deliver some nice emotive lead breaks.
As mentioned in the book, “Lifting Shadows” by Rich Wilson, the album was considered a commercial failure, failing to break any new ground for Dream Theater or increase their sales despite its more commercial direction. As a result of the creative and personal tensions experienced during the album’s production phase, it has been described as the band’s “most difficult album”, and eventually led to their demanding to be free from record label interference for all future albums.
Regardless of commercial expectations, I go back to this album on a regular basis. Crank it.
Did Zakk Wylde have enough material for a live Black Label Society album so early in its career. Well, yes if you include his Ozzy and Pride and Glory output with Black Label Society and no, if you just include his Black Label Society output.
“Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live!! +5” was recorded on October 28, 2000, at The Troubadour in West Hollywood and released in January, 2001.
You get some rowdy yells of “Zakk”, “Zakk” and an air raid siren starts ringing.
Then the band crashes in with a trademark Zakk riff, downtuned, syncopated and loaded with pinch harmonics and single note melodic motifs. And Zakk sounds great live, his voice made up of an Ozzy influence and his brewtal lifestyle.
13 Years of Grief
I didn’t even know they went into this song as there was no stop/start in the performance. It was all fluid.
Stronger Than Death
Zakk was doing Pantera better than what Pantera was doing at this point in time.
These kind of titles make me laugh. “Killed By Death” from Motorhead is another title that falls in this category.
There is this break down riff towards the end (which is changed up a bit from the main intro riff), which is head banging material.
All for You
Great riffs in this song.
After the heavy intro, there is a brief pause and Zakk screams “Limp Bizkit sucks dick”, the crowd cheers and into the verse they go, which reminds me of “Bleed For Me” from “1919: Eternal” which came out a few years later.
And there is some fine shredding here in the solo. So press play to hear it.
Phoney Smiles & Fake Hellos
Yep I’ve come across some people in my life that sum up the song title.
Some more great riffage. It’s like Zakk took the best of “No More Tears” and just amalgamated it with Iommi/Dimebag and what you have is Black Label Society.
Lost My Better Half
Zakk is going down low here with a Drop A tuning: low to high – A,A,D,G,B,e.
Just think about it. The low E is not D or C# or B but A. God damn.
Bored to Tears
More Zakk riffs to play along to that won’t leave you bored but it’s sounding same same.
It’s the guitar solo moment of the gig.
Born to Booze
The intro riff on this is excellent. It deserves more attention.
World of Trouble
And without a breath or break, it moves straight into “World Of Trouble”.
No More Tears
He made it sound like a Pantera track.
The Beginning… at Last
And it’s more of the same, with another fast heavy rocker to finish the gig.
The next songs are all studio cuts. Zakk Wyle plays everything on these except the drums, which are handled by drummer Craig Nunenmacher.
Heart of Gold
A Neil Young cover done right.
The mighty Black Sabbath gets a Zakk cover. And I like it.
Like a Bird
Zakk can pen a great acoustic song. This one is classic Zakk. Almost”Blue On Black” and “Days Of The New” and “Changes” from Sabbath.
Blood In The Well
More of the same infectious acoustic rock.
The Beginning… at Last
An acoustic version of this heavy rocker. Think “Fade Away” from Pride And Glory but acoustics.
Overall, the the last five studio cuts are must saves for any Zakk fan and the live recording is a snapshot of a time when Zakk was doing Pantera and Corrosion Of Conformity better than those bands.