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

Oli Herbert – All That Remains

I remember the first time I heard the band. It was in 2008 and the “Overcome” album just dropped. I believe it was their fourth album.

At the time I had no idea how divisive this album was to their existing fan base. I read comments to reviews and YouTube videos that blasted this album.

One fan mentioned how the album is the mass marketed pop washed version of “The Fall of Ideals” (their much loved previous album). And as I type this, I still haven’t listened to the three albums before “Overcome”.

For me, “Overcome” made All That Remains (ATR) accessible and I’ve been a fan since. And ATR had the balls to go with what they believed was right at the point in time.

Because in music when you have public acceptance of your music/certain songs, you start to write similar songs so that the public acceptance remains. Some bands totally change styles while others do it within their style. ATR did it within their style.

Anyway the first track “Before The Damned” started blasting out of my headphones. It’s also by far the most heaviest track.

From 0 to 22 seconds, the snare and palm muted guitar pattern hooks you in straight away. It’s performed by syncopated military precision. Yeah it might sound generic but so did every pedal point riff on albums in the Eighties. And if you go back to the Seventies, a lot of albums had the same blues pedal point boogie going on.

From 22 to 33 seconds, the whole band is now grooving on the intro pattern, however this time the bass drum sounds out the intro riff and the other instruments play something a bit different, like open string melodic leads and what not.

From 34 to 55 seconds the verse rolls around. The riff again is generic but within the context of the song it works and the way the drums and guitars are synchronized is excellent.

But it‘s the Chorus from 56 seconds to 1.07 that seals the deal. I was hooked by how effortlessly ATR changed from the death metal verses to the hard rock arena chorus.

We will still set in motion
Changing of the time
We have not forgotten
We control our lives

Now every review I read blasted Labonte’s clean vocals and how they lacked depth, balls or there was too much auto tune.

Basically they all said that Labonte should not do clean vocals ever in the same way Bruce Dickinson should never attempt screamo/death metal vocals.

Even James Hetfield copped criticism for his vocals on the self titled Metallica album and the Load LP’s. But every artist needs to grow and try new things. These subjective debates is the reason why I love music. You can talk the whole day and night over differing viewpoints.

When I hear a song, I listen to it from a guitar point of view.

Does the song make me want to put down what I am doing and learn it?

And this song does.

Musically it’s excellent.

At 2.04 we get this head banging metal breakdown and the solo begins at 2.09 over that same head banging breakdown riff. The solo is chromatic and diminished, in the same way Randy Rhoads shreds on “Diary Of A Madman”. This concludes at 2.19. It sounds dissonant and atonal.

After two minutes and fifty seconds the song is done. So I listened again and again and again because it’s a lesson on no filler songwriting. It’s also a great lesson in the “Progress Is Derivative” model because the song takes a lot of their influences and puts it all together in an original way.

And the main man behind the guitar is Oli Herbert. A great guitar player, founding member of All That Remains and songwriter who passed away at 44.

Rest In Peace.

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Music, My Stories

Why Music Gives Us Pleasure?

There is a story over at Aeon that talks about studies as to why music gives us pleasure. And after all, science still doesn’t know why. Sure, they have some points but there is nothing objective to reference. Everything in music is subjective.

On Spotify.me, it has the statement “You Are What You Stream”.  My recent listening has Motley Crue as my top artist, “Sometimes” from Candlebox as my top track and 90% of my tracks are high tempo with an average beats per minute of 125 for the songs.

So Spotify.me makes a subjective claim that I am high energy, because it couldn’t find any chill music in my listening history, and Spotify would like to know what it’s like living life at 10.

You see, listening to high energy tracks is my chill music. There is nothing better than laying back, closing your eyes and hearing some of the classic Maiden albums wash over the ear drums, or hearing various playlists I’ve put together like best guitar solos or best live songs or various era’s and whatever else comes to mind.

But an AI algorithm cannot give you that, because it needs objective examples to come up with some form of analysis. So even though these companies buy tech companies to make their Discover playlists and everyday playlists better, they fail to grasp how the brain connects the songs together. I could go from “Hey You” from Pink Floyd to “Hollow Years” from Dream Theater to “Try Me” from UFO all because of the guitar solos.

Or I could go from “Landing In London” by Three Doors Down, to “Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Jovi to “Home Sweet Home” by Motley because of the lyrical theme of being on the road and away from the family.

I would go across genres. There could be a song from a death metal band that I like because musically it blows me away, but it doesn’t mean I like death and black metal. But the algorithms believe I do and hammer my Discover playlist with these kind of bands.

Sometimes it’s a mood I am in. When I want to chill, I don’t put on Enya or whatever these algorithms reference as “Chill”. I put on hard rock and metal music.

In a week’s worth of listening, I would have so many bands and styles in there. And no AI algorithm can come up with those human emotions. Maybe in 20 years’ time or then again maybe never.

If you want to read a long article about why it’s hard to know why music gives us pleasure. Here it is.

I’m just gonna chill with my Dio playlist that covers his Rainbow, Sabbath and solo output. It’s a shame that Spotify Australia doesn’t have the Heaven and Hell release.

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

Coheed And Cambria

“Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures” is the new album. The title can turn people away who are not fans and to be honest these long album titles did sound peculiar and they triggered an interest for me back in 2007, however I still needed another recommendation to dive in.

It started with a recommendation that came from a Guitar World interview about the “No World For Tomorrow” album, which also came out in 2007 but I still did nothing with it.

Then a few months later I was given a burnt copy of “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” by an old band member. I was at work and I couldn’t wait until I got home as I had some after work activities to do so I would have been home late. Anyway I placed the CD into the CD player of the PC, grabbed the shitty e-training headphones from work and pressed play.

The rest is history as I became a fan for life.

So here I am 11 years later and another new Coheed release has hit the streets. Being a fan, I have no problem spending the $172.95AUD for the Deluxe Box Set. I’ve done this same routine for the last four releases.

It’s another concept album.

My first concept experience was “Operation Mindcrime” from Queensryche, then “The Crimson Idol” from WASP and then “Streets: A Rock Opera” from Savatage. But Coheed take it to another level, with more or less each album except one being part of a concept story called “The Amory Wars”.

Here is a quick summary. There are more detailed ones out there.

A scientist called Sirius Amory discovers an energy source called “The Keywork” is actually souls who haven’t transcended. This happens on “The Afterman” album.

Many years later, a person called Wilhelm Ryan starts using the energy of the Keywork to murder and rule. Coheed and Cambria are robots created to destroy him. Along with a person called Inferno, who also is a robot, they attack Ryan’s fortress and manage to destroy it. But Ryan survives. However Coheed and Cambria think he’s dead. Thinking it’s over, their memory is wiped. This happens on “The Year Of The Black Rainbow”.

In “The Second Stage Turbine Blade” Coheed and Cambria get killed and their last surviving son, Claudio, is left to take up the charge. I’m still not sure how humanoid robots have children. But the recent Bladerunner movie also had this story arc.

Claudio finds out that he’s like the chosen one in “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth”.

In “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. I: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness” there is a character called “The Writer” that starts to fuck up the story because he’s going through a relationship break up. It reminds me of the Matrix characters “The Keymaker” merged with “The Architect”.

In “No World For Tomorrow”, Claudio destroys the Keywork and releases the trapped souls. And the new album takes place after this event.

Now of you want to read reviews of the album I suggest you check out these reviews from Metal Injection and Rock Sins.

I more or less agree with everything they say. In my view, if the album music doesn’t convert new fans the narrative will. It’s a win-win for Coheed and Cambria.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Live After Death

It’s the best live album out there.

It’s also my first exposure to Iron Maiden and a pretty good reason why I didn’t feel the need to buy the first four albums until very much later on.

At the time I didn’t know, but the tempo of the songs is just a bit quicker on the live album compared to the recorded versions and the tempo of the live versions is basically how I’ve grown to know the songs. If you don’t believe me, compare the two “Hallowed Be Thy Name” versions.

And I heard Bruce Dickinson sing the DiAnno era songs first, and because of this I can’t get into the DiAnno versions. I still play the DiAnno Maiden records but I guess Bruce has my heart.

It’s also the reason why I purchased a ticket for each of the two Sydney shows on the “Somewhere Back In Time” tour of 2008.

I also got it on cassette and it was my first cassette that had a multiple fold out sleeve in the layout. Plus Derek Riggs delivered another masterclass cover design. I drawed that cover quite a few times.

Vinyl was also hard to get because it was people’s first preference when it came to buying recorded music. And my town only got a small amount of vinyl. You had to travel to Sydney via a 90 minute train trip one way and maybe even then, the record store wouldn’t have it. It’s a risk us music lovers would take.

It was exciting to read the cities they played in the cassette fold out sleeve. And I was bummed to see that they played Shellharbour Workers which is 15 minutes away from where I lived.

I never went because I didn’t know about the show (yeah I know, how could have that happened, but it did). Many years later and I swear it was purely subconscious, I had my wedding reception at the venue and years after that I had my kids christenings at the same venue. I didn’t think about it at the time however it was pointed out to me recently that I’ve had most of my functions at the venue Maiden played on the “Live After Death” tour.

And the venue is more like a theatre so Maiden would have had a cut down version of the stage show.

As far as live albums go, we (the fans) hold it in high regard with the vinyl and video formats receiving certifications all around the world.

Scream for me Long Beach…

P.S.

Kiss “Alive II” was also released on October 14, in 1977. Both pretty influential albums.

P.S.S

Maiden did find gold again with the “Rock In Rio” release. Especially the DVD. And on this album, Bruce brought to life songs from the Blaze fronted era.

P.S.S.S

I also purchased the DVD for “Flight 666” which I rank as Maiden’s third best live album and a great memento for the two nights I watched em perform the same set.

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

Dynazty

Dynazty came onto my radar in 2016.

Actually I heard of em a few years before but avoided them because of the band name, thinking they would sound like Kiss, and why did they spell it with a ‘Z’.

They are a typical example of what its like to be involved in the music business today for a Swedish band. They exist completely off the mainstream radar screen, doing their thing and building their catalogue of songs. And eventually, people will notice. But it takes time. Hell, I’m a fan of their last three releases and I don’t even know who is in the band.

How is that possible?

It’s so far removed from the label gatekeeper 80’s/90’s model. Anyway I looked em up this time and here are the member’s. Nils Molin on vocals, George Harnsten Egg on drums, Rob Love Magnusson on guitar, Mike Lavér on guitars and Jonathan Olsson on bass. Yep, I can’t say I’ve heard of em.

The new album and number six overall is called “Firesign”. It’s a European sounding album, so it’s fitting that I am listening to it in Europe.

But it was album number four “Renatus” that hooked me in which I heard at the same time as album number five “Titanic Mass” in 2016.

And people are listening. Music is a lifers game. You’re either in it for life or it’s just a passing hobby.

And Dynazty are in it.

A label head would call this pop power rock. But I hate labels, so to me, it’s just a cool rock album with kick ass guitar solos. Actually really good guitar solos.

Breathe With Me

The kick ass intro gets the foot tapping, the vocal melodies gets the head nodding and when the guitar solo comes in, it’s got so many cool licks from sweep picking to legato lines to string skipping to pentatonic lines.

It’ll be cool to sit down and figure it all out.

The Grey

Any track that starts off with just drums and bass hooks me in. When the keys and guitars kick in, it’s melodic heaven.

And that guitar solo. It starts off with a repeating open string lick under changing chords. After that it’s time to tastefully shred.

If the first two songs don’t hook you, then the rest won’t.

In The Arms Of A Devil

One of the heavier tracks on the album and another guitar solo moment which hooks me.

My Darkest Hour

The vocal melodies, the symphonic music and that guitar solo. Brilliant. I scrubbed it back 8 times just to hear the lead again.

Will these songs sustain and penetrate?

Who knows.

I thought Dokken would rule the world and instead it ended up being Metallica.

Firesign

Rammstein riffs merged with In Flames riffs merged with Joey Tempest style vocals.

What’s not to like?

And when you add in another tasty guitar solo.

It’s perfect.

Follow Me

It’s everything that’s great about Euro Metal wrapped up in a 4 minute song.

And again the guitar leads shine.

The Light Inside The Tunnel

Malmsteen influences are all over this album, but by the last song it’s clear that the Dynazty guitarists have surpassed the Fury Master.

And apart from the symphonic nods, this song grooves. It has an addictive chorus on the album and another great guitar solo.

Check it out purely for the guitar heroes.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Music Is A Relationship Between Artist And Fan

With chaos comes opportunity.  For centuries, progress is made from learning how to deal with the chaos.

Copyright is in a chaotic state. The corporations who hold the rights to valuable art, are fighting battles against infringement, organising web blocking and are trying their best to get stricter copyright enforcement laws passed while also lobbying hard to extend copyright terms. As if the current “life plus 70 years after death” term is not long, enough.

In addition, these copyright monopolies don’t want works entering the public domain, so in the late 90’s these large organisations got a law passed that would prevent works meant to enter the public domain from not entering until 2019.

For those that don’t know, the public domain is culture. Keith Richards once said, ‘you can’t copyright the blues.’ Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Presley and all of the sixties greats took songs from the Public Domain and built a highly lucrative career from it.

Culture is built and expanded by sharing stories and building on the works of others. But the Copyright organisations have manipulated and changed copyright so much, it’s far removed from its purpose of giving creators a short term monopoly on their works, so they have an incentive to create more works.

Short terms meant 14 years to 28 years depending if the artist renewed their work.

Works that should be in the public domain do not benefit the original creators in any way. The majority of them have passed away, however these works (the valuable ones) are beneficial for the few copyright monopoly gatekeepers.

For culture to thrive once again, it is important to respect the public domain. If you want another 60’s culture explosion, we need to have a public domain.

It’s not going to be easy, because you have the RIAA who continually push lies out into the world, so that technology companies can do something to protect the labels crap business models. You have ISP’s who are fighting their own battles about what their users do on the net. You have the techies who provide services, using channels supported and owned by the ISP’s. You have the various lobby groups for the public, for the techies, for the ISP’s and for the labels/movie studios. And when these tribes come into a room, it’s exactly what Frankie sings, they go to war.

And nowhere in the mix is the artist and the customer. Because in the end, it’s the relationship the customer has with the music/art which creates value. The labels claim they are there to represent the artists, which is complete BS. The labels are there to represent themselves.

For the recording business to thrive, you need the artist to create and you need a customer to become a fan and connect with the art, so they could be monetised. If that relationship is not happening, all of the other crap going on is pointless.

If you are an artist, you need to realise your fans are king. Exceptional fan service is the key driving force behind a bands success. It’s good old business 101, “treat your customers right and they’ll stay with you forever”.  Because if you build a community of customers and are serving these dedicated customers with something great, then you would expect profits to go up.

In all of the wars happening around access to music, the most important one, the artist and the fan connection, is continually ignored. Don’t be an artist that falls into that trap.

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

Logos

In the “No Sleep Til Sudbury” book there is a chapter on Motley Crue. You need to read the book to find out what is said as I don’t want to give away spoilers.

Anyway the chapter got me thinking about Motley Crue, because the band was huge in my life growing up and still to this day I fork out dollars to buy stuff from em and I’m sure I’ll be forking our dollars for “The Dirt” soundtrack as well.

I know it’s insane, especially since the band was average at best with Tommy Lee being the most talented in all areas, musical and home video making. And I’ve watched em live every time they came to Australia, only to walk away saying how shit is Vince and why didn’t someone unplug Mick Mars. But I’ve gone back time and time again.

The one thing that always hooked me in with the Crue is the marketing. Each album has its unique band logo. It’s never the same logo, like Acca Dacca’s, Maiden, Judas Priest and many others. I can see a logo and I’ll know which album it’s connected with. And as soon as I got good drawing one logo, I had to learn to draw a new one. I think its a marvelous move.

A friend of mine called Herman who I don’t really see anymore had a denim jacket with logos sewn on and by 1989, that jacket had five Crue logo patches on it and two Whitesnake/GNR logo patches compared to one Metallica, Megadeth, Dio, Van Halen, Maiden, Acca, Slayer, Poison, Jovi and Kiss. Again, genius marketing move from the Crue and also by Coverdale in reinventing the Whitesnake brand and Guns N Roses who had the two guns facing each other logo which was generic and the “Appetite For Destruction” logo.

If I owed a generic AC/DC top with only the logo on it, I would be known as having an AC/DC top regardless of when I purchased it and I would have no need to purchase a new AC/DC top unless it faded to grey or ripped completely.

But if I owed a Crue top with the Girls logo in 1992, I would be known as owning an old Crue top. It was a symptom of my generation. And because it was a genius marketing move from Crue/Sixx, I always felt the need to get a new top.

Ka Ching. Ka Ching.

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