When Twisted Sister disbanded in 87, Dee wasn’t in the news a lot, except for a few little paragraphs here and there in a magazine about his upcoming “Desperado” project.
Then that project got killed by record label bosses at Neglektra.
And the biggest voice in my life was missing during the “golden commercial years” of metal and rock music.
Then Widowmaker got up and running, however Grunge came and after a two albums, the band was done.
A solo album called “Never Let The Bastards Wear You Down” revived hope that more would come. But it didn’t eventuate.
However Dee is a lifer when it comes to music. He battled tooth and nail to make it, so there was no way he was going to lay dormant for long.
And like it was written in some holy book, Dee came back, more diverse than ever. He became a movie maker, a radio show host, a solo artist, an author and when TS reformed, he led them up front all the way to the last show.
“For The Love Of Metal” came out in 2018 and it is basically metal music the way I know it.
His solo music doesn’t have the same public acceptance as the Twisted music, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important or influential. As I’ve said before, a million sales of an album doesn’t mean you have 1 million fans. You just have a million people who purchased the album.
The question any artist should be asking is, how many people actually listened to the album from start to finish?
In a one to one commercial sale, it will never be known how many people listened to the album at least once and how many people listened to the album over a hundred or a thousand times.
“Mask” is a great song.
Depending on how you experience the album, it’s either hidden deep in the album at track 8 or it’s at the start of the B side of the vinyl.
That intro riff hooks me in right away. It’s thrash power Metal like.
With torn and bleeding smiles we move on And mouth all different kinds of broken promises Why should our days be spent in denial While counting our faults and ripping our hearts out
These lines express the struggle of carrying on with a facade of happiness despite inner turmoil.
The smiles we wear is depicted as torn and bleeding, indicating the pain and suffering we endure internally.
We continue to make promises we cannot keep, adding to the brokenness within. The questioning of why one should spend their days in denial is a desire for honesty and authenticity, rather than pretending everything is fine.
The act of counting faults and ripping hearts out shows a self-destructive pattern of dwelling on personal flaws and causing emotional harm.
These lines highlight the complexity of navigating through life’s challenges while grappling with inner turmoil and the longing for genuine connection and self-acceptance.
The face you see is not our own It hides our tears and shades our eyes The heart you touched has since grown cold We wear the mask that grins and lies
We live in a world of suppression.
The idea of each one of us presenting a false image to the world, concealing our true emotions and vulnerabilities behind a mask is real.
The face that others perceive is not a genuine reflection of our inner feelings. Instead, it serves as a shield to protect ourselves from judgment, pain, or further emotional exposure.
The heart that was once open and receptive has now become distant and detached.
The mask we wear may project a smiling and seemingly content facade, but it conceals the truth and hides the pain beneath the surface.
Behind our doors the time cannot be whisked away Crashing and burning, leaving hints of darkness Deep within their withered faces, lines are sunken in We say we’re fine behind the mask We say we’re fine, why do you ask
The passage of time and the struggles that accompany it. Behind closed doors, the weight of time cannot be escaped or avoided.
The phrase “crashing and burning” conveys a sense of chaos and turmoil that leaves traces of darkness in its wake. The imagery of withered faces with sunken lines reflects the toll that time and life’s challenges have taken on us.
Despite the weariness and pain hidden within, we still maintain the facade of being fine. We wear a mask of contentment and happiness, even when asked about our well-being.
The repetition of “we say we’re fine” emphasizes the disconnect between our true emotions and the image we project to the outside world. Its easier to maintain appearances and avoid delving into the depths of our inner struggles.
The subject matter is serious and the music is thunderous.
A little Frontiers Records project known as “Revolution Saints” is now four albums deep. The self-titled debut came out in 2015. Songs like “Back On My Trail”, “Locked Out Of Paradise” and “Way To The Sun” with Neal Schon led the way. I was also a fan of the excellent Eclipse cover, “How To Mend A Broken Heart”.
The sophomore album “Light In The Dark” hit the streets in 2017 with the excellent “Freedom” as the standout track.
Third album, “Rise” came out in 2020 and with the song “When The Heartache Has Gone”, they broke the million streams on Spotify. The trilogy of albums also saw the end of the first iteration of the band with the departure of Doug Aldrich and Jack Blades.
And then “Eagle Flight” landed in 2023.
Once I heard it, I had to write about it.
Joining Castronovo is Joel Hoekstra and Jeff Pilson. Two excellent musicians and songwriters with resumes to match.
But the main songwriter is Alessandro Del Vecchio again, the Max Martin, Jim Vallance and Desmond Child of Italy. according to my math, Del Vecchio’s song writing credits for Frontiers album releases would be a thousand plus. If it wasn’t for Del Vecchio, Revolution Saints wouldn’t exist.
With each song I will highlight the songwriters, to showcase the casting net that Frontiers President Serafino Perugino casts to get quality songs for his projects.
Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio, Francesco Savino and Rossella Moscatello. Savino and Moscatello are from the metal band False Memories, another Frontiers act, who released an album, “The Last Night Of Fall” in 2021.
This song is pure melodic rock with Castronovo’s tobacco stained Steve Perry like vocals.
Del Vecchio plays on this as well, delivering a stellar performance on the keys/piano.
Under the sky we will fly like eagles
Eagles are known for their strength, grace and ability to fly at great heights. Eagles are used to symbols of freedom, courage and vision. The phrase conveys a sense of freedom, power and soaring above our limitations. You can overcome obstacles, rise about your circumstances and experience a sense of exhilaration and triumph.
Our dreams are mirrored from our thoughts, grounded by a thousand hopes
Our dreams are a reflection of our thoughts and aspirations. Our minds project our desires and wishes into the world, creating a mental image or a “mirror” of what we hope to achieve. Each hope serves as a foundation, providing us with the strength and resilience to persevere through challenges and obstacles.
Talking Like Strangers
Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and Joel Hoekstra and it’s a Hoekstra riff that kicks it off.
It’s got that major key vibe, and man that Intro solo from Hoekstra had me playing air guitar. Musically it sounds like a Firehouse song and I like it, as I think the first two Firehouse albums are excellent.
But the Chorus has that Euro Pop vibe. Almost ABBA like. And man, Castronovo hits some highs here.
Need Each Other
Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and Italian pop songwriter Francesco Boccia.
Press play on it it.
And then stick around for the guitar solo from Hoekstra.
Kids Will Be Kids
Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and Kristian Fyhr.
Fyhr is the vocalist in several Frontiers acts like Seventh Crystal and House Of Lords.
An almost funky like groove starts it off, but once the intro guitar lead kicks in, its melodic rock heaven.
Castronovo is again nailing the vocal melody.
We were too young to know, that grown ups never lie, kids will be kids no matter what
It expresses the idea that when we were children, we were naive and unaware of the fact that adults sometimes deceive or lie.
As children, we tended to trust adults completely and believed that they always spoke the truth. However, as we grow older, we come to realize that adults are fallible and capable of dishonesty.
And regardless of what children may experience or learn about the world, they will still behave like children. Children have their own unique perspectives, innocence, and tendencies to be playful, curious, and impulsive.
The nature of childhood remains constant despite any revelations or disillusionment that may occur as children become more aware of the complexities of the adult world.
“It still has the pop sensibility of Journey but with Joel and Jeff in the band I feel it is a bit heavier.
I grew up with heavy metal and I love playing songs with that kind of power.
Johnny Gioeli, the singer from Hardline, who Neal and I had been with in the early 1990s, produced my vocals for me. I have always admired Johnny’s vocals. He coached me on Zoom.”
I’ll Cry For You Tonight
Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and Francesco Boccia.
It’s like a ballad, but it’s still got enough weight to rock. Blues rock that is.
Crime Of The Century
One of my favourite tracks on the album and it’s written by Anders Wikstrom who is/was the guitarist and songwriter in the Swedish hard rock band Treat for the band’s first three records. Since the late 80’s he has amassed a portfolio of close to 300 credits on Discogs.
That Chorus hook remains with me long after the song is finished. Castronovo is channeling his love of Paul Stanley.
Gotta break thru the walls Just to find that my heart is still beating
The idea of perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges or difficult situations.
Are you determined to overcome obstacles in order to discover that you are still alive and capable of experiencing life?
Set Yourself Free
Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and it feels like it came from Night Ranger aka “Why Does Love Have To Change?”
Just press play and enjoy.
Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio, Kristian Fyhr, Nikos Sofis and Saal Richmond. Sofis is a Greek songwriter/lyricist and Richmond is created the band IN-SIDE. If you like acts like Alan Parsons Project, Toto, Work Of Art and Europe then you will like IN-SIDE.
Jeff Pilson’s bass rumbles here perfectly locked in with Castronovo’s drums. It’s almost galloping.
Another favorite, just behind “Crime Of The Century”.
Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio and Francesco Boccia.
Castronovo is the highlight here, especially in the Chorus.
And Hoekstra nails the solo section.
Save It All
Written by Alessandro Del Vecchio, Kristian Fyhr and Stefano Mainini who also wrote songs for Sunstorm’s “Brother In Arms” album before this.
Hoekstra puts his stamp on this song. The guitars are phenomenal.
In most of the interviews I’ve read, Castronovo has said he doesn’t write lyrics and if it wasn’t for Del Vecchio, this project wouldn’t exist.
As a fan of Dokken and the song writing of Jeff Pilson, I would have loved to see some Pilson co-writes. Then again, the writers used here, have done a stellar job.
He couldn’t play guitar, and when he took lessons, he felt he got worse, so he quit.
Based on how “singing talent” was defined in the late 60s and early 70s, Springsteen had none.
The groups he was in kept looking for a lead singer, and it wasn’t him.
People ignored him or avoided him. His agent deserted him and audiences walked out on him.
The bands he was in left him.
He would write lyrics of driving/cruising around town but he didn’t know how to drive a car.
He would write lyrics of relationships, good times and bad times and he wasn’t even dating.
But he showed up everyday. Whatever talent people told him he lacked he acquired in skill.
A skill about telling stories and making people believe those stories are his.
The first two albums bombed. But he didn’t walk away. He was consistent and he kept on creating and releasing, even though the critics blasted him.
And then he dropped “Born to Run” in 1975.
All of our favorite artists have taken multiple albums to find their audience.
And if by chance a debut album comes out firing like “Appetite For Destruction” did, you need to look into how Guns N Roses were a 7 year over night success, like The Beatles.
Izzy Stradlin hit LA in 1980 and after doing time with unknown bands formed Hollywood Rose in 1983 with his childhood friend Axl Rose, who also moved to LA in 1982.
Duff McKagan played guitar, bass and drums in various bands from 1979 before moving to LA in 1983.
Slash, Steven Adler and Duff ended up in a band called Roadcrew, and due to not being able to find a suitable singer, Slash disbanded the band.
Adler then joined Guns N Roses and got his Roadcrew band mates to join as well when the other members left.
After some member changes and a band merger between LA Guns and Hollywood Rose and further member changes, the Guns N Roses version that blew us away with “Appetite” formed sometime in 1985.
Community is important.
Springsteen built a community around himself with the E Street Band. The people you surround yourself with, can raise the bar and push you on. In the case of “GnR”, the community can party even harder than you are used to and push you on in other ways.
None of it matters if your are not committed to the journey.
Springsteen was committed and at certain points in the last 40 years, he won by converting people to fans one at a time.
Iron Maiden, is one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time.
In September 2015, they released, “The Book of Souls”. The press release had something like this, “the album features eleven epic tracks, including the 18-minute-long “Empire of the Clouds.”
“The Book of Souls” takes its inspiration from several sources, including the Mayan civilization and the ancient Aztec mythology. Talking about the inspiration behind the album, Iron Maiden’s bassist, Steve Harris, said, “We all love exploring the myths and legends of different cultures around the world, and I think fans will really enjoy seeing how we’ve taken these ideas and turned them into something new and exciting.”
The album is also known for its successful chart performance, reaching number one in several countries worldwide.
The album’s tracks are not typical radio-friendly tracks; instead, they are epic journeys that take the listeners on a ride.
If Eternity Should Fail
Written by Bruce Dickinson. The song is played in drop D tuning and it originally had been written for one of Dickinson’s solo albums.
As Dickinson explains in a Kerrang interview;
The demo was done and the band just copied what Roy [Z, along time Bruce collaborator] and I did in his bedroom. In fact, the little keyboard bit in the beginning is me in Roy’s bedroom.
In a Rolling Stone interview, Dickinson described the song being about a machine designed by the evil Dr. Necropolis that steals the souls of men.
After the effects laden Intro, it really kicks into gear at the 1.32 mark.
Dickinson is at his best here, with each word and syllable clearly pronounced.
What the hell does “reefing a sail” mean?
I had to look it up.
Waiting in line at the ending of time if eternity should fail
It is open to interpretation.
The idea of a final judgment or reckoning, where all souls must wait in line to be judged, even if eternity itself were to come to an end.
Or it could be the idea of waiting for something that may never come, even in the face of eternal time. This interpretation could speak to the human experience of waiting for something unattainable or out of reach, despite the seemingly infinite amount of time available.
At the 5 minute mark it kicks into overdrive, classic Maiden. At 5.45 we get the harmonies.
I could have done without the demonic voice at the end.
Speed Of Light
Written by Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson.
Nothing super original about this musically as it is a track with alot of Deep Purple swagger mashed up with “From Here To Eternity” from the “Fear Of The Dark” album.
Shadows in the stars, we will not return, humanity won’t save us, at the speed of light.
It’s not just words to fit the music. There is a lot to unpack here.
“Shadows in the stars” could be interpreted as a metaphor for the human condition of feeling small and insignificant in the face of the vastness of the cosmos.
“We will not return” suggests a finality, perhaps implying that humanity is on a one-way journey towards some unknown destiny or fate.
“Humanity won’t save us” suggests a lack of hope or faith in the ability of human society to solve the problems facing us. This could be interpreted as a commentary on the current state of the world, where many pressing issues such as climate change, political instability, and inequality remain unresolved.
And the phrase “at the speed of light” suggests a sense of urgency and the idea that time is running out. This could be interpreted as a warning that we need to act quickly and decisively if we want to avoid a catastrophic future.
It conveys a sense of resignation and a lack of hope for the future. It suggests that we may be on a collision course with some form of disaster, and that there may be little we can do to avoid it.
The Great Unknown
Written by Adrian Smith and Steve Harris.
It reminds me of “Aerials” from System Of A Down. And I like it.
But it doesn’t lift off after the Intro and Dickinson is hard to decipher vocally.
But make sure you stick around for the harmony solo which kicks in at 4.11, before the main solo.
Overall if the great John Kalodner was sequencing the album, this song would be left off or it would be heavily edited to a 4 minute song.
The Red And The Black
Written by Steve Harris.
This song confuses me. It’s sort of a classic but it’s not. But depending on mood it is. Hear me out.
After the bass doodling, the whole Intro is classic Maiden.
We hear the vocal melody played on the guitar before the first verse kicks in. And it’s excellent. But the singing that comes next is way too busy and indecipherable. Even Harris has said in various interviews that Dickinson freaked out at singing this because there are so many words.
Lyrically it’s based on a 1830 French book called “Le Rouge et le Noir”.
The story is about a man trying to rise up the social ladder via working hard and then abandoning his ambitions as he spirals down with mental illness.
See myself in the hall of mirrors A different shape every step I take A different mind every step of the line But in the end they are all mine
The idea of self-reflection and the complexity of one’s identity.
The “hall of mirrors” is a metaphor for the mind or the self, as we look inward and see different versions of ourselves reflected back.
Our perception of ourselves is constantly changing.
At 2.26, they start the woh-oh part.
At 2.58, the song moves into another section. The lead guitar plays the vocal melody and it works this time around.
And they move back to the woh-oh part.
Chance your luck a four leafed one
Success is uncertain and one must take a chance or a risk in order to achieve it. The “four-leafed one” emphasizes the idea that success or good luck is rare, like finding a four-leaf clover in a field of three-leaf clovers.
When the chorus kicks in it’s in major key territory.
At 6.34, a harmony section kicks in and then an excellent lead. I think it’s from Janick Gers. And there still another 6 minutes to go.
Another excellent lead kicks in at 8.38.
And the piece d resistance is the lead break that starts at 9.40. You need to stick around for that. It continues to the 11.53 mark.
It’s only fitting that it ends with the woh-oh part.
When The River Runs Deep
Written by Adrian Smith and Steve Harris.
How good is the riff that kicks in at the 35 second mark?
But the vocal melodies don’t do it justice.
The Book Of Souls
Written by Janick Gers and Steve Harris.
A baroque like intro from Janick Gers gets things started.
At the 58 second mark it goes into an Arabic feel, more “Powerslave” Ancient Egypt like than Aztec/Inca.
Prophecy of sky gods
The foretelling made by deities associated with the sky. In many cultures, the sky is seen as a domain of the gods, and so predictions made by them would be considered especially significant.
The sun and moon Passing of old ways will come true soon
A prophecy of change and transformation. The sun and moon are often seen as powerful symbols of change and cycles of renewal.
But the song could have done with some editing.
Death Or Glory
Written by Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson who bring pack the power of the first three Maiden albums.
Lyrically it continues Dickinson’s love affair with aerial combat, which he covered in “Aces High” and “Tailgunner”.
Musically, the whole solo section is definitely worth pressing play for.
Shadows Of The Valley
Written by Janick Gers and Steve Harris.
An intro reminiscent of “Wasted Years” and “Paschendale”. And I’m hooked.
And musically the song is great. Melodically it is great. Lyrically it’s not so great.
Tears Of A Clown
I love the groove on this, written by Adrian Smith and Steve Harris, the song is praised by Dickinson as his favourite track and it is based on comedian Robin Williams’ depression and suicide in 2014.
Tomorrow comes, tomorrow goes But the cloud remains the same Wonder why he’s feeling down Tears of a clown
A façade of happiness, even though the person is struggling with inner turmoil or sadness. Hiding their true emotions, just as a clown hides their true face behind a mask or makeup.
The Man Of Sorrows
Written by Dave Murray and Steve Harris. An arpeggiated Intro with a lead. Perfect.
Then the vocal melodies come in and Dickinson is crystal clear.
And when the Chorus kicks in, it brings back memories of “Wasting Love” from the “Fear Of The Dark” album.
Looking through a mist of truth That we believe an elusive cloud
We perceive reality as hazy or unclear, and we struggle to discern what is true and what is not. Truth may be difficult to perceive clearly, perhaps because of personal biases or limited information. We see truth as something that is difficult to grasp or pin down.
The things we find are hard to say now That we live through day to day
Do you struggle to articulate your thoughts and experiences. You may feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the world around you, or you may be grappling with difficult emotions or circumstances.
Find it hard to force the reasons Why we find it hard to die
A feeling of hopelessness, reflecting on the mystery of human mortality and the meaning of life.
As we look to see the man of sorrows Passing knowledge to those who don’t know
Is the “man of sorrows” a reference to Jesus Christ, who is often depicted as a figure of suffering and compassion in Christian theology?
The line suggests that this figure is offering guidance or insight to those who are open to receiving it.
As we watch all our friends passing over As they pass through the edges of time
The passage of time and the inevitability of death.
Steve Harris had to deal with a loss of a family member and a close friend during the writing and recording of this album.
The passing of friends and loved ones, has led Harris to contemplate the meaning of life and mortality.
From the Thin Lizzy like harmonies to the lead breaks the whole solo section is excellent.
Empire Of The Clouds
It’s long. 18 minutes in length but this song will be seen as a masterpiece if it isn’t seen that way already.
Written by Bruce Dickinson.
The track tells the story of the “British R101” airship, which crashed in northern France on 5 October 1930 during its maiden voyage.
Over the course of various interviews during the album’s release, we found out that the song was written entirely by Bruce Dickinson, who initially intended it to be about “World War I fighter aeroplanes.”
Dickinson abandoned the idea after using the same theme for the song “Death or Glory,” also from The Book of Souls.
At the time of recording, Dickinson was reading “a big, sort of encyclopedic crash report” of the R101, entitled “To Ride the Storm”.
It took Dickinson about a month to compose the song during the recording sessions.
The track features Dickinson’s debut on piano and the rest of the band had to play along to this piano track while following instructions from Dickinson and producer Kevin Shirley.
And how good is that piano riff and melody. It sounds like it’s out of sync with the metronome but that’s what makes it sound even better.
And when Dickinson starts singing with the catch cry “to ride the storm”, you stop and pay attention.
To ride the storm, to an empire of the clouds To ride the storm, they climbed aboard their silver ghost To ride the storm, to a kingdom that will come To ride the storm, and damn the rest, oblivion
At 6.35, the guitars play the Intro piano melody and at 7.00 the song changes tact. The Instrumental section starts with all playing SOS Morse Code.
Then the best part of the song. A melodic lead in a Major Key kicks in at about 7.10 and I’m stopped in my tracks.
These harmonies continue to 10.04, when the first of the individual leads kicks in.
At 10.35, the song changes feel and tempo. And the riff.
Wow. It gets the foot tapping and the head banging.
At 11.00 it goes back to one of those harmony riffs.
And like Chekov’s Gun, they bring back that riff from 10.35 with a vocal melody at 12.31.
Anton Chekhov is a Russian playwright and he famously said that “if a gun is introduced in the first act of a play, it should be fired by the third.”
This riff is like the gun.
And at 13.00 it changes tact again, more operatic and cinematic. And progressive.
But at 13.40, that riff is fired again.
The empire of the clouds, just ashes in our past
On 11 March 2016, the band announced that the song would be released as a 12″ picture disc single for Record Store Day limited to 5,500 copies, using the front cover of the Daily Mirror from 6 October 1930 as the cover artwork. The single’s B-side features an interview with Dickinson and McBrain, entitled “Maiden Voyage”, in which they recount the song’s creation.
In conclusion, “The Book of Souls” is an album that showcases Iron Maiden’s musical brilliance, passion, and maturity.
The songs are not to formula as they don’t have the weight of MTV or label pressures to do that. What you get is an album that allows the musicians to follow their creative muses.
I wouldn’t walk out of a concert if any of these songs came up in the setlist and for that, this album has aged well.
He walked away from Evanescence before “Fallen” exploded and after it he become a new Jim Vallance or Desmond Child or Max Martin in the song writing world of modern/pop rock.
But a musician needs to create and sometimes their creative output outweighs what the big labels require. So Hodges started to form some projects.
Let’s go back to 2003. Hodges and Mark Colbert began to collaborate and formed Trading Yesterday, recording music from an apartment setup.
A demo album listening party attracted the attention of Epic Records.
They finally got the green light to record an album and it was finished during the first half of 2005.
The label deal with Epic fell apart which meant the “More Than This” album was shelved.
Welcome to label purgatory.
After returning to independent status, the band had their first demo album “The Beauty and the Tragedy” reprinted for sale on February 25, 2006.
Due to leaving Epic, “More Than This” was unable to be released due to licensing. However, the entire album leaked to the internet in December 2006. Thank you, Mr Internet.
“Shattered” is from that album, which finally got an official release in 2011 on an independent label created by David Hodges.
It is a hauntingly beautiful ballad that explores the pain and heartbreak of a failed relationship. But in this case, the failed relationship is between David Hodges and his faith.
The song starts off with a gentle piano melody that sets the tone for the emotional journey to unfold.
Yesterday I died, tomorrow’s bleeding, I fall into your sunlight
With “yesterday I died”, the phrase represents a significant loss or change that feels like a death. This could be a literal death of someone close, or a metaphorical death of a relationship or a part of oneself.
“Tomorrow’s bleeding” could suggest that further pain or difficulty is anticipated in the future. The use of the word “bleeding” creates an image of something raw or exposed.
“I fall into your sunlight” is seeking comfort or refuge in someone or something that brings light or positivity into our lives. The phrase “fall into” suggests a surrender or a letting go, allowing ourselves to be embraced by this source of warmth and hope.
And the song really comes to life at the 2.13 mark. There is a quiet piano. It’s melodic, haunting and yet hopeful.
Then the acoustic guitars come in and vocals.
There’s a light, there’s the sun Taking all the shattered ones To the place we belong, and his love will conquer
“There’s a light, there’s the sun” is interpreted as a metaphor for hope and positivity. The light and the sun represent brightness, warmth, and clarity, which can help dispel darkness and confusion.
“Taking all the shattered ones” are the people who are broken or wounded in some way. The phrase “shattered ones” could be a metaphor for people who have experienced trauma, heartbreak, or disappointment.
“To the place we belong” could be interpreted as a metaphorical destination, a place where the “shattered ones” can find a sense of belonging and acceptance. This could be a literal place, such as a community or a home, or a more abstract concept, such as a state of mind or a spiritual dimension.
“And his love will conquer” could be interpreted as a reference to a higher power or a divine force that can help heal and transform the “shattered ones”. The phrase “his love” could refer to the love of God or some other spiritual figure, or it could be a more general reference to the power of love and compassion.
Overall, this phrase conveys a sense of hope and optimism, that even those who are broken and wounded can find a sense of belonging and healing. It suggests that there is a higher power or a force of love that can help overcome adversity and bring people together.
The band announced in 2007 that they would change their name from “Trading Yesterday” to “The Age of Information”, with an EP, “Everything is Broken”, released on September, 2007.
But this whole project is forgotten. It shouldn’t be.
Then my vinyl came in and I listened to it the old way, cranking the stereo with the lyric sheet in front of me.
And I kept thinking.
Stryper would like to have their yellow and black colors back. The colors of caution. If you grew up in the 80’s you would know that Stryper had the “Yellow And Black”. And as much as those colors are associated with Stryper, as part of the Stryper reunion in the early 2000’s, one of the stipulations from Michael Sweet was that he wouldn’t wear the Yellow and Black anymore.
So Metallica took it 20 years later.
In the “So What” interviews conducted by Stefan Chirazi and available on the Metallica website, Chirazi asked James Hetfield what the colour yellow means. James, responded with the following;
“Yellow, for me, is light. It’s a source of goodness. So against the black, it really pops.
My vision was I wanted this album [to be] called “Lux Aeterna” because that summed up all the songs for me, kind of an eternal light that was always inside of us that maybe is just now coming out.
And I was out-voted, which is great. “72 Seasons” is definitely more chewable. But that colour came out of “Lux Aeterna.”
“72 Seasons” is released on their own “Blackened Records”.
They are free to do what they want, and it all happened because they control their masters and the highly lucrative back catalogue. Not another label or some investment fund. It is them.
They print so much vinyl they purchased their own vinyl press. Because they can.
As part of the press releases, Hetfield stated “the first 18 years of our lives, that form our true or false selves. Much of our adult experience is re-enactment or reaction to those childhood experiences”.
So here we go.
As told to Stefan Chirazi, in the “So What” interview, this is what James had to say about it; “It was the “72 seasons of sorrow,” and I dropped the “sorrow” part because the first 18 years of life aren’t all sorrow”.
One thing about the songwriting team of Hetfield and Ulrich is that they sure know how to start off a song.
When that fast riff comes in at 50 seconds it’s mosh pit time. And at 65 seconds it’s the same riff but played with a hard rock feel.
“Shot down, traumatic, time haunted by the past”
What an opening line.
It’s easy to read the situation as someone who has experienced significant emotional trauma, and this trauma continues to affect them in the present.
The opening phrase “shot down” is interesting to me. It generally implies a sudden, unexpected loss or defeat. This could be a reference to a specific event that caused the trauma, such as the loss of a loved one or a significant failure.
And with the phrase “time haunted by the past”, it suggests that it is difficult to focus on the present, as the events of the past are a constant reminder.
I gotta say, I like the way this song starts. Actually all of the riffs in this song are headbanging.
I also like the whole “Seething, breathing, nightmares grow”. It’s a different vocal style for Hetfield. It’s simple and very melodic.
“Facing my demons, now I run, still my shadows follow”
It’s menacing and it goes to show the mind state of Hetfield as he tries to confront his inner demons or personal issues, but despite his efforts to escape or avoid them, the problems continue to affect him.
And then there is the word “shadows”.
It could be interpreted as a metaphor for the negative aspects of Hetfield’s personality or past experiences that continue to linger and affect him.
This track is classic Metallica.
Rob Trujilo thinks this song would be a killer in the live arena because there is a groove element to it.
Via the “So What” interviews, Trujilo has stated that; “the verse in that song is different from anything Metallica’s ever done, and it’s surrounded by this groove that is just so infectious, it captures you, kicks you in the ass, and, well, you’ve got to move.”
Lyrically it’s dark.
In the first verse, Hetfield is telling us about a voice inside and how it is questioning if he’s good enough and how he should just give up.
In the second verse, the lyrics state;
“Then a voice appears, whisper in your ears, “you are good enough”, throwing down a rope, a lifeline of hope, never give you up”.
Does it suggests a moment of encouragement and support as the rope is pulling Hetfield out of the dark hole or is the rope a noose.
The phrase “you are good enough” could be a powerful statement of validation and acceptance.
How can it be that the Metal God known as Hetfield is struggling with feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt?
But is the voice offering a message of self-worth and confidence as a way to trick the person into listening to it.
How good is the section from 3.50?
Sleepwalk My Life Away
It builds perfectly. The bass is dominant while the guitars decorate like “Enter Sandman”.
And the bluesy riffing is back.
Maybe it’s back too much but i don’t care.
“Stagger on through the fog in the midnight sun”.
It could represent a challenging and confusing situation that the person is facing, where they must navigate through unclear circumstances (the fog) while enduring a continuous period of brightness and clarity (the midnight sun).
Additionally, the word “stagger”, a lack of balance, due to alcohol or some other addiction, shows that the person is unable to maintain their composure in the face of difficulty.
You Must Burn
Hearing this, I can hear those groove metal tracks like “Harvester Of Sorrow” and “Sad But True”. And I like it.
Via “So What”, this is what Trujilo had to say about the twisting middle section;
With this particular middle section that came to be, that was really centered around a jam and was very moody, and there’s a danger to it; I like how the bass is walking. It’s got a feel to it where it’s “walking through a forest,” like a scene from a Tim Burton movie or something. That’s the feel I get. And James and I just started kind of grooving on it. It was just the two of us.”
How good is the riff at 4.26?
“Smile as it burns to the ground, the perfect don’t want you around, question yourself you may learn who’s the next witch you must burn”
Smile people as you watch that something you disliked or have been rejected from burn to the ground.
The latter part of the line, “question yourself you may learn who’s the next witch you must burn,” is more metaphorical. Its asking is to reflect on our own actions and judgments, perhaps in relation to the exclusion we also might have experienced.
Overall, this line seems to be expressing a somewhat dark and cynical perspective on social dynamics and human behavior otherwise known as social media.
I had to look up what “Lux Aeterna” meant. I knew that “Lux” meant “Light” but wanted to know more. Well “Eternal Light” is the answer.
While acts like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard became commcercially successful, the biggest Metal band in the world right now, wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Diamond Head.
A tribute to “Diamond Head”, their “Kill Em All” album and their fans.
“Amplification, lighting the nation” Hetfield sings.
Crown Of Barbed Wire
“So tight this crown of barbed wire”
The Metaphorical Crown of Thorns.
The “crown of thorns” is often used to refer to the painful burden that someone is forced to bear.
The “crown of barbed wire” suggests the heavy burden Hetfield is carrying, that is causing him pain and distress.
Barbed wire is also used to create boundaries or to keep people in or out of certain areas. The “crown” of barbed wire could represent the sense of being hemmed in or limited in some way.
I like the “Harvester Of Sorrow“ feel in the Interlude and Solo Section.
“Harvester Of Sorrow” is back again. I love the groove from the original song and I like it here.
Then it morphs into a speed Metal track.
How good is that Chorus?
I’m screaming at the top of my lungs, “chase the light, lean on me”.
If Darkness Had A Son
The military style drumming hooks me in. And the way Hetfield builds the guitars reminds me of “Now That We’re Dead” which is my favorite song from the “Hardwired” album.
Let’s go back to 2019.
I remember it well. Metallica were about to arrive in Australia to play a lot of sold out shows, but the tour was cancelled a week before the shows as Hetfield entered rehab again.
Are we surprised when Hetfield chants “temptation”?
“If darkness had a son, here I am”
What an iconic and powerful line.
It suggests a willingness to confront the darkness and embrace one’s own inner struggles, but it also carries a sense of danger and potential for evil.
Too Far Gone
It’s classic Metallica.
And I’m a big fan of the fast punk vibe in the Chorus.
Finally Kirk Hammett breaks out some decent licks. Especially the fast picking bit between the Chorus and Verse. Very “Master Of Puppets” like.
And that “all away” section is perfect.
The song ends with “make it through the day, just for today”.
Room Of Mirrors
It’s a punk song.
“In a mirrored room, all alone I stand, strip away the phantom fame”.
It shows a desire for self-reflection, authenticity, and honesty. Hetfield wants to show us who he truly is, without the illusions of fame and celebrity getting in the way.
And I like that Thin Lizzy like harmony after the solo, which they use a few more times throughout the song.
I had to look up what it meant.
“Inamorata” means “the woman that a man loves”.
The woman here is called Misery and when Hetfield sings “She’s not why I’m living” and “She’s not what I’m living for”, you feel every word.
Via “So What”, this is how Hetfield sums it up; “Misery as my mistress, and I’m trying to hide her. I enjoy her at certain times, but I don’t want the world to know about her.
I don’t want to introduce her to the world because it’s not okay. So misery as a mistress, it does serve a purpose in my life, but I don’t want it to be my life, and I’m tired of it running my life.”
Via the “So What” interviews, Trujilo stated they “hit a grand slam with “Inamorata”. It’s a cross between a beautiful old film with a really cool painting or something… it resonates “California.”
It’s the breakdown. The hi-hat shimmering in the background. The bass playing a groove. Swing like. The guitars decorate.
It’s got a Bill Ward Sabbath groove and swing.
And Hetfield, The anguish.
Then the harmonies begin, like “My Friend Of Misery” and a section from “Orion”.
“Darker Still” is a song by the Australian band Parkway Drive. It is also the title track of their 2022 album.
It is one of the best Metal tracks released in the 2020’s decade.
When it comes to Metal, there is always a discussion as to “what is Metal?”
Growing up in the 80s, there was a period up to about 1985 when any album with distortion guitar was classed as Metal.
This meant that you would find AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Kiss, Metallica, Venom, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Scorpions and Quiet Riot (just to name a few) in the Metal section. Even Punk bands ended up in the Metal section.
But the scene fragmented. Blame the labels and MTV.
The massive sales of albums from Def Leppard, Scorpions, Judas Priest and Van Halen in 84 and 85, paved the way for the massive sales to come from Bon Jovi, Europe, Guns N Roses, Whitesnake and Def Leppard again between 1986 and 1989.
The labels needed new names and suddenly Glam/Hair Metal was a thing, Hard Rock was a thing, Melodic Rock was a thing, Thrash Metal was a thing, Death Metal became a thing, Melodic Metal became a thing and then Melodic Death Metal became a thing.
And somehow a thing called Black Metal and Extreme Metal became a genre.
On the other side you had Speed Metal, which morphed to Power Metal and then elements of that style became known as Symphonic Metal and another element became known as Pirate Metal.
And we all know that Grunge came and created a wasteland of rock acts. Industrial Metal and Industrial Rock started to rule the wastelands, and then Alternative Rock and Alternative Metal came briefly just to give way to Nu Metal.
And before Nu Metal, there was Grindcore, Hardcore, Doom Metal and everything else that didn’t fit in.
Parkway Drive started off in the 2000s with a Metalcore label. Metalcore is described as a fusion music genre that combines elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk. Its known for its use of breakdowns, slow, intense passages conducive to moshing.
These days Parkway Drive is basically a Metal act (and a pretty big one) that has so many different styles in their repertoire.
Metallica in the 90s, had became a very different version to the speed Metal band that started off. While their 80s output focused on speed, they did push some boundaries in the progressive Metal world before scaling it back to end up with the biggest selling groove Metal album ever.
Then they incorporated Blues Rock and Southern Rock into their sound for the “Load” and “Reload” album cycles. And when Nu Metal became a thing with no guitar solos becoming the norm they did this as well with the “St Anger” album. But since the fans became madly in anger with them, they never returned to the “No guitar solos”.
Metal to me is an “anything goes” attitude. And that’s what Parkway Drive brings to the table.
“Darker Still” has a lot of solos. Melodic solos. Emotive and sad by Jeff Ling who is the lead guitarist and man, he plays the sections wonderfully. But the recording sessions for this album along with some personal issues broke him and he lashed out badly at vocalist Winston McCall.
Just the way it begins with the whistling and the acoustic guitar is enough to hook me in.
But it’s the whistling melody which comes in at the 28 second mark that forms the foundations of the song. Because the same melody appears later as a solo, and with a choir and with violins and it’s massive.
Especially from 4.08. You hear it all, the guitar lead, the voices and the violins. Just close your eyes and let the music take you away.
And Ling breaks free again, for one of his best solos.
The song’s lyrics to me are about a person struggling with depression and the darkness that comes with it. It describes the feeling of being trapped in a cycle of self-destructive behavior, unable to break free despite the toll it takes on their life and relationships.
The chorus of the song is powerful, with the lyrics “And the night grows darker still”
This line speaks to the idea that even in the darkest moments of our lives, there is still hope and the possibility for redemption and recovery.
After they finished doing the tracking for the “Darker Still” album, the band members started the process of breaking up. No one wanted to be in the band anymore.
More volatile meetings were held and the guys realized they needed help.
Rhythm guitarist and manager, Luke Kilpatrick, saved the band. He suggested that they get counseling. Like Metallica.
The April 2022 tour they cancelled of the U.S for undisclosed reasons was due to the weekly counseling sessions they started to have.
And they made it.
Until I die, until I die and the night grows darker still.
It’s my favourite song from the self-titled “Black” album and I just saw footage of Metallica playing it live on Jimmy Kimmel a few days ago.
It’s down-tuned a little bit, a sign of aging and how the voice needs those lower keys. It’s also sped up a little bit (yep they can still play a fast tempo song even faster) and it’s still as powerful.
On Spotify, it is at 52 million streams.
Basically forgotten and it pales compared to songs like “Enter Sandman” at 1.072 billion streams, “Nothing Else Matters” at 925 million streams, “The Unforgiven” at 428 million streams, “Sad But True” at 267 million streams and “Wherever I May Roam” at 167 million streams. It’s no surprise that the singles have a high listen rate.
Behind the singles, it’s song’s like “Holier Than Thou”, “The God That Failed” and “My Friend Of Misery” that make albums great. At one stage “Holier Than Thou” was going to be the lead single from the album, but Mr Ulrich had other ideas.
Most of the talk today is on the release of “72 Seasons”. As I type this, the new album is playing on Spotify.
But for Metallica to have the career they have had, it all comes back to the monumental “Black” album. It’s the Championship Ring, the one that gets you to do multiple victory laps.
A few years ago it celebrated 30 Years and as bands do these days, they celebrated the release with a special Anniversary edition.
And what I like about these Anniversary editions, is when bands add the demos. David Coverdale splices them together and calls them “Evolution” versions. Metallica gives you the warts and all, with mistakes and all that.
And I tracked the evolution of the song.
For the ones that have heard the “Holier Than You – From James’ Riffs Tapes” version on the Remastered Deluxe Box Set, you can hear the drum groove already established via James programming the drum machine.
And James is scatting vocally for the verses, but he had the Chorus hook. Short and sweet. Song writing 101 is to always start with the Chorus hook and work backwards.
The next version of the song is listed as the “August 13th Demo”. This time it’s just James and Lars and you get to hear that machine gun picking from James with Lars making the drumming a bit more tighter and refined.
And James has the vocal melody down, but not the words as he “Obi Wans” and “Yeahs” his way through the song, except for the Chorus. Because the hook is still there.
“No more the crap rolls out your mouth again”
What an opening line. I feel like this is about those TV Evangelists that ended up getting caught with their pants down, doing hookers and cocaine back in the late 80s and early 90s.
But these days, it could be about politicians and lobbyist who seem to push agendas that don’t benefit the people who voted them in, but those same agendas do benefit the corporations who funded their campaigns.
Even celebrities say or type words that get them into trouble. Social Media is the cesspool for this.
“You lie so much you believe yourself”
And iconic line and even more important now than ever before when lies are sold as truth and people surround themselves within echo chambers, unable to read critically nor able to analyse the data.
Differing opinions on facts is healthy for society but its unhealthy when opinions are formed without any basis of facts. Then again, if everyone saw everything the same, there would be no hate or division.
That section from 3.13.
It happens after the solo.
It’s just drums and bass. It’s brief but it definitely gets the foot tapping and the head moving. Then the guitars kick in and the song ends. I think at 3.47 it could be the shortest Metallica song. But one of their heaviest and leanest.
A shimmering clean tone guitar sets the song but it’s the vocals from Dave Hodges which makes me a fan.
Yes it’s the same David Hodges who was a studio contributor to Evanescence between 1999–2002 which accumulated in the “Fallen” album.
He has since had success co-writing and co-producing for various pop, pop rock and country artists, including Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Daughtry, Backstreet Boys, Avril Lavigne, David Archuleta, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Jessie James, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Tim McGraw. His career is basically an “A to Z in Making It”.
“Dust and Gold” is a song by Arrows To Athens, a David Hodges band project. It was released as a single in 2011 and later included on the band’s debut album, “Kings & Thieves” released in the same year.
It’s sitting at 5.4 million streams on Spotify. Forgotten. It’s a tragedy.
It’s down to you and me On these cold and empty streets Forgotten what we’re living for
The “you “ in this case is the persons belief.
The lyrics describe a struggle to find meaning and purpose in life. Their is reflection on the challenges and hardships faced, and wonders if there is any deeper significance to the experiences.
All I see are kings and thieves When all I own is just dust and gold
The album title in the Chorus of another song.
The phrase could be interpreted in a few different ways, but generally, it speaks to the idea that people in power and those who steal or exploit others, who are normally the ones in power, seem to be the most visible and influential figures in society, while the second part of the phrase, “when all I own is just dust and gold,” could mean that the person has come to the realization that material possessions, hold little value in the grand scheme of things. This may contrast with the wealth and power of the kings and thieves mentioned in the first part of the phrase.
It can also be interpreted as a metaphor for the idea that while we may be insignificant in the grand scheme of things, we still have value and worth.
The mood and feel of the song has made it a popular choice for use in film and television, and it has been featured in trailers for movies like “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” and TV shows like “The Vampire Diaries.”
Musically, “Dust and Gold” features a driving beat and soaring vocals, with a sound that is reminiscent of bands like Thirty Seconds to Mars and Imagine Dragons.
Overall, “Dust and Gold” is a powerful and inspiring song that speaks to the universal human desire to find meaning and purpose in life, and to recognize the value of our own experiences and struggles.
“Blue For You” is studio album number 9 for Status Quo released in March 1976. Coming into this album, they had built up a pretty solid fan base in the U.K, Australia, Netherlands, France, Spain and New Zealand.
And they never properly broke through into the U.S market on the backs of sales, but with the streaming numbers they are getting these days, you could say that the band has broken into U.S market.
How many bands get a chance to record 9 albums?
And guess what, their biggest songs, would come on subsequent albums?
Status Quo for this album is John Coghlan on drums, Alan Lancaster on bass/guitar and vocals, Rick Parfitt on guitar/keyboards and vocals and Francis Rossi on guitar and vocals.
Is There A Better Way
Is there a better song that merges pub rock, rock and roll and a bit of street attitude then this?
Press play and let Status Quo mesmerize you with this.
Mad About The Boy
A 12 bar blues boogie tune.
Ring Of A Change
Thousands of bands played like this in 1976. Some had success doing it and others didn’t. Status Quo had very good vocalists behind this with pop like sensibilities who also rocked hard.
Blue For You
The title track. It’s got that 60’s rhythm and blues feel.
I’m a fan of the more energetic songs like this one.
Written by guitarist Rick Parfitt, “Rain” also became the first single from the album, reaching No. 7 in the UK charts after its release in February 1976.
Its B-side was the non-album track “You Lost the Love”, written by Francis Rossi and Bob Young.
The riffs in this song can be heard in the NWOBHM which came after. When ELO decided they wanted to rock, they sounded like this. They would use this kind of riff to greater commercial success later on with “Whatever You Want”. AC/DC also made a name for themselves jamming on chord vamps like this.
It has this “Radar Love” blues rock vamp happening. The only thing you could do is tap your foot and rock on.
That’s A Fact
I love the groove on this. It’s almost funky, but not. It also reminds me of “American Woman”.
Ease Your Mind
It’s a bit of Beatles, it’s a bit of rock and roll and a bit of soul. And a like it.
It’s like a progressive rock song without the time changes as the song goes through moods between atmospheric dream like folk rock to a full blown pub rocker.
And the album ends here.
But in 2005, they re-issued the album with some bonus tracks.
You Lost The Love
Dreamy pop rock written by guitarist Francis Rossi and Bob Young.
Wild Side Of Life
It sounds like a Beatles cut. And I like it.
It’s a cover song made famous by country singer “Hank Thompson and His Brazos Valley Boys” (now that is a band name) and written by Arlie Carter and William Warren.
It was originally released in 1952, and while it wasn’t on the original album for Status Quo, they did release it as a single in December 1976.
A perfect Christmas gift for those hardcore Status Quo fans. Its B-side was a new composition called, “All Through the Night”. The single reached No. 9.
Remember when artists used to do this. Release albums and singles more frequently. This was the strategy up to about 1985.
The rise of MTV in the 80’s and the “Blockbuster Release” strategy of spending a lot of dollars to get an album that each song could be a potential single (think “Thriller”, “Born In The USA”, “Brothers In Arms”, “The Joshua Tree” just to name a few) changed this model, because everything was about maximising the promotion of each release so the act could get multi-platinum sales.
There were a few surprises like “Back In Black” from AC/DC, “Pyromania” and “Hysteria” from Def Leppard, and “Slippery When Wet” from Bon Jovi. They were just albums put together and they sold even higher than the “Blockbuster” albums.
And a bit of trivia, bassist Alan Lancaster had to come back home to Australia, so the bass duties on “Wild Side Of Life” are done by Roger Glover from Deep Purple.
All Through The Night
It’s got this heartland vibe written by guitarist Francis Rossi and bassist Alan Lancaster. I dig the major key riff which is played under the chorus hook.
If you are keen to check out some 70’s hard rock and blues with smooth vocals, press play on this.
Status Quo are a British rock band formed in 1962 and originally called “The Scorpions”.
I am stretching the Australian link because founder and bassist Alan Lancaster, moved to Sydney after meeting his Australian wife.
After Status Quo, Lancaster played with leading Australian bands, The Bombers and The Party Boys.