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

The Record Vault: Digital Summer – Cause And Effect

Sometimes a band comes across your ears that you just like.

Digital Summer is one such band. They fuse a combination of other styles, but it’s delivered in a way, which is easily assessable and executed with a high degree of technicality.

It was the “Counting The Hours” release in 2010 that got me interested. And I was on board for the fan funding campaign on the “Breaking Point” album and the reason why I got their CDs and other gear all signed.

They are from Phoenix, Arizona, formed in 2006. Up until this day, they have remained independent and unsigned, while still getting radio airplay and building a fan base. They are a great story to read about.

“Cause And Effect” came out in 2007 and the band for the album is Kyle Winterstein on vocals, Ian Winterstein and Johnmark Cenfield on Guitar, Anthony Hernandez on Bass and Chris Carlson on Drums.

I’ve seen em labeled as Post Grunge, Hard Rock, Alternative Metal, Post Rock, Nu-Metal, Modern Rock and Alternative Rock.

To me it’s all Rock And Metal.

Disconnect

A Nu Metal like intro (think Godsmack) gives way to a heavy and melodic verse (think Staind) and an AOR Chorus (think Fuel). And I love it.

There must be a way to cut the cord.

So much harder to do these days as we live in a society which thrives on connection.

I reject this reality

Social media is a one size fits all approach. You either comply with the regulations the providers have or you get booted from the service or your smart enough to have never joined in the first place.

Crash

This one reminds me so much of Staind and I like it.

Press play on this for the Chorus.

When life crashes down around you

What do we do next?

Pick ourselves up and start again or find someone to blame and go one like nothing happened.

Suffocate

Press play for the mood and feeling in the verse.

The Chorus feels like a Seether Chorus with Fuel added in for spice.

What would you do with the whole world / Rolled in your hands? / I’d like to watch it burn

The best way to sum up the darkness when your feeling down and depressed.

Now Or Never

If you like Three Days Grace and Seether, then you’ll like this.

Vocally in the verses, Kyle Winterstein comes across like Aaron Lewis.

Lyrically it’s got that 80s attitude of don’t look back to the past because if you want to change your life, the door is open but you’ll need to act fast as opportunities don’t last forever.

So don’t hesitate because it’s now or never.

Broken

Arpeggios start the song and then distorted guitars kick in.

Its aggressive and Three Days Grace/Fuel definitely cones to mind.

So break my wings and watch me fall / Cause I’m broken

A true way to describe a feeling post relationship break up.

One More Day

A clean tone strummed riff that reminds me of Incubus starts everything off.

But press play for the Chorus and allow the emotion and the mood take you away.

Just tryin to make it one more day

You can tattoo this as a slogan.

Like how Art Of Dying had the Chorus hook of “if I can get through this, I can get through anything”.

That’s life in a nutshell. Trying to make it one more day.

Chasing Tomorrow

Press play for the Chorus which brings memories of Hoobastank’s debut album which I’m a big fan of.

I cut myself / Made a brand new scar today

The scar is a reminder of a time and a place so you don’t make the same mistakes again.

Sick Inside

It feels like a Heavy Rock cut with a bit of Tool like grooves in the Intro.

And check out the super melodic Chorus which Staind would be proud off.

YOU! / Everything you do / MAKES ME SO SICK INSIDE

A lot of rage as the writer wishes they never met their partner.

This Time

A piano melody plays briefly before the guitars crash in. This song is a favorite as well as it reminds me of Breaking Benjamin.

I don’t care what it takes this time / I’ll do anything to make things right / The hardest day of my whole damn life / Was the day that I said goodbye

From the rage in the previous song to the emotion of loss in this one.

Whatever It Takes

It sounds like a Bush cut and I like it.

And this one is back to theme of doing whatever it takes to get someone out of their life.

Love And Tragedy

The song begins with a feed backing guitar with the use of an eBow to keep the notes sustaining.

Then a digital delay The Edge like progression kicks in and I’m all in.

Press play on this especially for the Chorus.

Violent cries of love and tragedy

There is a target to Kyle’s anger and you hear it.

Sxxxoxxxe

The album closer is like a soundtrack song, with a haunting piano, sampled voices and drums and a vocal line processed through a tremolo effect.

Throughout it, you hear guitars feed backing.

And then a vocal melody kicks in without any effects, repeating “just to suffocate with me”.

If you haven’t heard em, get cranking.

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1986 – Part 3.7: Fastway – Trick Or Treat

“Trick or Treat” is album number 4 but for me it will always be known as the soundtrack for the “Trick or Treat” movie and my first exposure to Fastway.

It was released in November 1986, a month after the movie and it would be the final album to feature Dave King on vocals. While the previous album “Waiting On The Roar” did not have a guitar riff written by Fast Eddie Clarke, this album is credited as all songs written by Fastway and there are riffs to be heard.

Fastway is Dave King on lead vocals, “Fast” Eddie Clarke on rhythm guitar/lead guitar, Shane Carroll on second guitar, Paul Reid on bass guitar and Alan Connor on drums.

These guys appear on tracks 1 to 7. The song “Heft”(track 8) is from the debut album and bass is played by Mick Feat and drums by Jerry Shirley. “If You Could See” (track 9) is from the “All Fired Up” album, with bass being played by Charlie McCraken and drums by Jerry Shirley.

The flick had WC wry controversial story in it that was related to blues, rock and metal and it fed on the Satanic Panic sweep wing across the Bible Belt of the U.S.

Spoilers alert.

There is a rock star by the name of Sammi Curr, who sold his soul to the devil to rock and roll ala Robert Johnson.

Curr dies in a hotel fire, but is resurrected by a fan of his playing the last vinyl recording of Curr’s music backwards. The vinyl record was given to him by a DJ called Nuke, played by Gene Simmons.

The fan has been bullied at school and suddenly he is no longer bullied as the reincarnated Curr has some “Final Destination” punishment in mind for the bullies. But like all things, when it comes to your heroes and power, power corrupts and by the end of the movie, the Curr has turned against his fans and it allowed the script writers to come up with these kind of sentences.

Hysterical Survivor: [crying] Oh, God, it was–it was awful! I mean, this guy was shooting stuff out of his guitar and it was–and people were running and I don’t–and my very best friend she was…

Cop #1: All right, all right. What did the suspect look like?

Hysterical Survivor: I told you. It was Sammi.

Cop #1: Who is Sammi?

Cop #2: Sammi Curr? The rock singer?

Hysterical Survivor: [still crying] Yes. Yes.

Cop #2: Sammi Curr died last week.

Cop #1: [both cops turn away from the still-sobbing girl] Looks like we better check out the party punch.

And of course the punching bag for all of the evangelists at the time, Ozzy Osbourne makes a guest appearance as Reverend Aaron Gilstom. This would have infuriated all of those people taking him to court, for supposably having backward messages of “shoot” in “Suicide Solution” and the script was written for Ozzy to smacks down those evangelists.

Reverend Aaron Gilstom: (in response to Heavy Metal music)

Demonic beasts.

Whatever happened to the good old simple love song?

“I love you.”

There good words to use. Nowadays they have to write some sickness. It’s just absolutely sick and bizarre, and I’m going to do my upmost best to try and stop it now.

Go get em Reverend. And now to the album.

“Trick or Treat”

Three chords and tom hits like a metronome. I was immediately invested. It’s a perfect amalgamation of NWOBHM and Hard Rock.

I really like the section, in the verse, as it moves between Em and D for a few bars, and then moves to a C chord and a D chord which acts as a Pre Chorus.

Those intro chords come back in, just before “Fast” Eddie breaks out some licks.

“After Midnight”

It’s like Angus and Malcolm Young joined the band and wrote a derivative version of “You Shook Me All Night Long”.

And I like it.

“Don’t Stop the Fight”

This was my favourite cut when it came out.

The palm muted intro and build up always got me pumped. It still does today.

It reminds me of “Wild Child” from WASP, which is bizarre as Blackie Lawless did get offered the part to play Sammi Curr, but rejected it when he was told he couldn’t write the soundtrack music as Fastway was already contracted to do so.

“Stand Up”

Another head banging intro with a killer vocal melody.

How can you not like it?

Press play to hear the bass groove and lead break. The sound of the toms before it comes out of the solo, always makes me laugh. Corny, but a product of the times and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lyrically, it’s an anthem, with the message to stand up and be counted.

“Tear Down the Walls”

After sound effects, it goes into a brief song, with the gang chants to “tear down the walls”. It fitted the movie scene nicely.

“Get Tough”

It kicks off side 2.

After some heavily flanged and distorted guitars, that sounded spooky, for lack of a better word, the song kicks in and the message is all about standing up for yourself, because you’ve had enough of the crap that’s been thrown at you.

“Hold on to the Night”

A “Radar Love” like drum groove starts it off and it continues throughout the whole song, while the riffs and melodies change.

“Heft”

Originally released on the album “Fastway”.

I like the heaviness of the intro/verse riff.

From a modern sound, its something that Tool would do, however it also reminds me of tracks like “Mississippi Queen” and “Evie” and it fits the theme of the album perfectly.

“If You Could See”

Originally released on the album “All Fired Up” and how catchy is that acoustic guitar in the Intro?

The album did okay business in Australian and the movie was popular as well. It was hard to get a rental copy of it from the local video shops. As soon as I rented it, I had my neighbours video over and the dubbing began.

For me, there is no filler on this. It’s all killer. Classic NWOBHM with hard rock polish added to it.

Crank it, play it backwards whatever.

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The Record Vault: Passion, Grace And Fire featuring John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola and Paco De Lucia

“Passion, Grace & Fire” is the second album by John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola and Paco de Lucía released in 1983. The names follow the words in the album title.

Unlike their first album “Friday Night in San Francisco” which was recorded live, this album consists entirely of studio recordings with the Di Meola and McLaughlin cuts appearing on studio albums previously.

John McLaughlin plays on the centre channel and a nylon-string guitar. Al Di Meola plays on the left channel and plays a steel-string acoustic guitar. Paco de Lucia plays on the right channel and plays a nylon-string guitar.

Aspan

Written by John McLaughlin and it is also the opening song on his “Music Spoken Here” album released in 1982.

It’s impressive in the virtuoso speed at which they play the acoustic guitars.

Orient Blue Suite

Written by Al Di Meola, it’s in three parts, with each part fading out and the new one begins.

Shimmering lush sounding arpeggios begin this song, bringing an Orient and classical feel to the music.

The pentatonic lead breaks, played with intervals delivers an exotic sounding melody.

Towards the end it goes into a flamenco like section, which sounds at odds with the previous sections.

Chiquito

Written by Paco de Lucia it’s impressive in its technicality, but it’s missing a recognisable melodic motif here.

There is a “Live In Spain” version which de Lucia recorded with his group known as “The Paco De Lucia Sextet” and it’s a lot better than this version. There is a 80 second intro played on a woodwind instrument and when de Lucia comes in at the 1.23 mark, with his band it makes the different movements of the song stand out.

Sichia

Side two begins with another Paco de Lucia and like “Chiquito”, its impressive in its playing, but missing a recognisable melody in this format.

David

Written by John McLaughlin and it is also from his “Music Is Spoken” album. It’s not available on the Spotify listing of the album for some reason. Its listed but greyed out. So I went to YouTube to hear it.

The intro is haunting and beautiful at the same time, as one guitar (which I presume is McLaughlin) plays a melody while the other guitars just down strum the chord progressions.

At 1.38, it becomes aggressive with some fast machine gun acoustic lines, as it transitions into a section I call “The Fire Section”. Towards the end of the song it goes back into the Intro, which sounds contemplative.

Passion, Grace & Fire

Written by Al Di Meola, this song appeared on his “Electric Rendezvous” album, released in 1982.

There is the piece de’resistance on the album as it has the arpeggio intro riff that is recognisable and it keeps repeating throughout the song.

The section from 1.49 to 2.02 is a favourite and the riff repeats again.

Basically the skill of the players to interchange between fast melodic licks and rhythm duties is great to listen to.

The three acoustic guitars sound great and it doesn’t get boring. Stylistically it moves between Spanish/Flamenco to Classical to Gypsy to Jazz easily. If you enjoy virtuoso playing, you will love this. If you want your instrumentals to have memorable melodies, then this might be difficult to digest within the flurry of notes on offer.

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1986 – Part 3.3: Savatage – Fight For The Rock

My journey began with “Gutter Ballet” and moved forward with “Streets: A Rock Opera” before going back to the earlier albums.

So even though “Fight For The Rock” was released in 1986, it wasn’t until the early 90’s that I heard it.

I studied WW2 in History a fair bit and the cover is instantly recognisable recreating the “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” photo and cancel culture today has found this recreation to be offensive or insensitive.

Who would have thought?

The band for the album is “the classic line-up” in Jon Oliva on vocals and piano, Criss Oliva (RIP) on guitars, Johnny Lee Middleton on bass and Steve Doc Wacholz on drums.

The Paul O’Neill co-writes and production credits was still an album away, so this album is produced by Stephan Galfas, who had had worked with Stryper on “To Hell With The Devil”, Meatloaf’s ignored “Dead Ringer” album and a few John Waite albums before he worked with Savatage. Post Savatage he worked on Saxon’s much maligned but a favourite to me, “Destiny” album.

The band members have voiced their displeasure with the album.

You will read the usual “record label wanted us to make it” or “pressured us to make it” phrases mentioned but if the album did well commercially, then the narrative from the band members might be very different.

For the record, I hate the power the labels had back then. They could make or break a career.

But in the end, they are in the money making business and they would do whatever it takes to make money.

If Savatage said “NO” to the record label demands, it would be career suicide. So caught between a rock and a hard place, I suppose they really had to “fight for the rock” on this one, so they could get another chance at making an album.

Musically, its Savatage as I know em. Lyrically, they are a bit different.

The Fight For The Rock

A Criss Oliva riff starts the album, rooted in the sound of heavy metal that I like.

“Warriors of the fight, you are in force tonight”, says Jon Oliva, about rock being here to stay. By 1986, it was all overused cliches.

At 2.04, it goes into a synth lick before it builds up into the solo section, which is essential listening for any guitarist.

Out On The Streets

It feels like a 70’s cut, with its acoustic guitar arpeggios and weird synth sounds.

By the time the Chorus rolls around, the major chords make it sound happy, while the lyrics are about feeling sad due to a romance falling apart.

Press play for the brief acoustic guitar melodic lick after the Chorus.

And I like the solo from Criss Oliva, it’s got blues and fast melodic legato lines with inventive phrasing.

Crying For Love

The intro with violins and fingerpicked clean tone guitars is a great listen but misleading when it comes to the song because it’s a rocker, with a classic Savatage riff from Criss Oliva in the verses.

The Chorus is Hard AOR Rock. It’s an obvious attempt.

Criss Oliva knows how to create a lead. He starts off with some fast open string pull off licks before going into his usual fast legato lines.

Day After Day

A Badfinger cover and that 70’s “Leader Of The Pack” vibe comes through.

The Edge Of Midnight

An Andrew Lloyd Webber “Phantom Of The Opera” organ begins the song, which brings in some classical elements. Lyrically it’s not the best, but musically the riffs are an amalgamation of hard rock and heavy metal.

Check out the verse riff, Skid Row would use riffs like this on two multi-platinum albums.

Hyde

There’s some good progressive metal like riffs here.

How good is it the way Jon Oliva sings “Hy-I-ide” and then Criss Oliva mimics the vocal melody the next repeat?

Lady In Disguise

A riff similar to “Wishing Well” is the centrepiece of this song. It’s almost Queen like in its musical composition.

She’s Only Rock N Roll

The main riff (which is also the verse riff) is classic Savatage, which also reminds me of Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow.

Check out the lead break.

Wishing Well

A Free cover and I think this was my first exposure to this song. The slight increase in tempo makes the track sound more metal than rock.

Musically, it’s a great song and the vocal melodies from Paul Rodgers, delivered by Jon Oliva are excellent

Red Light Paradise

It sounds like soundtrack music and for some reason, the “Cobra” movie with Stallone comes to mind.

To repeat, musically its good, lyrically it could be better but the sound is still Savatage.

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Australian Method Series: Parkway Drive – Ire

My journey into the world of Parkway Drive started with “Reverence” in 2018 and backwards I went.

“Ire” came out in 2016. It’s their fifth album, but the second album I’d heard from em. It went to Number 1 on the Aussie Charts and the U.S Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums chart.

The band for the album is Winston McCall on lead vocals, Jeff Ling on lead guitar, Luke “Pig” Kilpatrick on rhythm guitar, Jia “Pie” O’Connor on bass and Ben “Gaz” Gordon on drums.

The label even invested in a vocal coach for Winston McCall to increase his melodic skills as he’s already well known for this guttural vocals.

From listening to “Reverence” first and going back to “Ire”, it’s safe to say that this album was the start of the Hard Rock and Classic Metal tunes this band fine tuned with “Reverence”.

This fusion of Nu-Metal, Thrash Metal, Classic Metal, Power Metal, Hard Rock ad Death Metal is not meant to go together and work, but it does and it works very well.

Destroyer

A repeating guitar lick starts the album. Its low, it build in intensity and it’s a lick that the crowd could sing-along with along with the “Destroy” vocal chant. But this section wouldn’t work without the rhythm and drum work. It’s thunderous and like a military march.

Once the main riff comes in, its melodic and heavy at the same time. If you grew up on a diet of hard rock, then this riff would fit the criteria.

Dying To Believe

Any song that starts with the lyric, “like dragging nails through my skin” is going to be fast and aggressive. And that’s exactly how it plays it in the blast beat intro.

Vice Grip

Sitting at 52.7 million streams on Spotify. The video clip on YouTube has 23 million views.

Another sing-along guitar riff to start the song and a Chorus you can chant along to with the “Yeah, yeah, yeah” vocals.

Musically, it’s a hard rock song and I’m picking up the guitar after I finish this post to learn it.

There is a “Rise” chant section, which reminds me of the “Die” section from “Creeping Death”.

Crushed

Religious chants give way to “tear the throat box out” vocals and riffs which are too good to not listen to regardless of your preference for vocal styles.

The section from the 40 second mark to 1.01. Press play for that, just to hear how the religious chants work with heavy music.

Or stick around from 3.26 onwards, just to hear the guitar melody under the vocals which could have come from an Iron Maiden album.

But the overall style of the track is Nu-Metal. Weird I know, but it works.

Fractures

The riffs remind me so much of the 80’s and Pantera’s first two albums.

But press play for the Chorus guitar melodies and “wooahs”.

Check out the section from 3.30 as it slows down and then builds back up. As soon as the guitar lead lets loose for the last 30 seconds of the song, someone decided to fade out the song. Nooooo.

Writings On The Wall

The drum groove is like “We Will Rock You”, so you hear McCall carrying the vocal over a bed of ominous piano notes, synths, bass and abstract guitar lines.

“Put your hands up, put your hands up, we’ll fight until we die, this ain’t ever gonna stop”, whispers McCall in true spirit of the 80’s ethos like “Stand Up And Shout”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “Bang Your Head”.

Then at 2.30, the song kicks in with some metal like riffage.

At 2.55, my favourite melodic riff from the album kicks in. And the song ends with the haunting piano lines heard throughout the song.

Bottom Feeder

There are so many riffs that people will class as hair metal in this song. But it’s all Metal to me. It’s one of the heaviest tracks and catchiest.

The Sound Of Violence

The intro riff gets me to pay attention and the breakdown Chorus would work well in the live arena.

Vicious

Musically, this song has some serious hard rock cred. Even Metallica “Black” album era.

Dedicated

I feel like I’m listening to a Killswitch Engage tune on this.

Stick around for the breakdown at the end.

A Deathless Song

Acoustic guitars with a fusion of flamenco vibes and baroque start the song. But at 0.44, those iconic sing-along melodic leads kick in.

And those melodic sing-along leads are heard throughout the song, especially in the last minute outro, as they give way to the same riffs, but played with violins.

In the end it’s a “hard core hard rock” album, Somehow it makes perfect sense.

Check it out.

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1986 – Part 3.2: Queensryche – Rage For Order

“Rage for Order” is the second album by Queensrÿche, released on June 27, 1986.

The Queensryche Cyber Army are really good at keeping the bands Wikipedia pages up to date and super detailed. Everything that can be found on the a internet is included along with print media and newspaper articles.

Go to the Wikipedia page on this album and you’ll get heaps of information.

MTV was becoming a huge promotions vehicle for artists and 1986 was clearly becoming the last year that bands would experiment with the songwriting. After 1986, albums would become very MTV Friendly because all the artists wanted a piece of that pie.

Musically it’s an excellent album. Each song has a riff or a vocal melody that I like. From a song point of view, “Walk In The Shadows” is close to perfect.

Lyrically the album touches on subject matters I’m interested in, like government intrusion and corruption, technology and social issues.

Management and the Label must have felt threatened at the experimental progressive album delivered by the band, so it’s no surprise that there is a cover song, which then became the lead single.

And no one knew how to handle Queensryche.

They had opening spots with Ratt and Bon Jovi (seriously, what the….), AC/DC (good gig to have if you play similar styles but they are very different styles) and maybe the most compatible one in relation to “Metal”, Ozzy Osbourne.

The Tri-Ryche logo makes it’s first appearance as well.

I never understood how this album was ever labeled as a “glam metal” album, but the label had to make them fit somewhere along with some questionable clothing and hairspray.

Queensrÿche is the classic line up of Geoff Tate on vocals, Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton on guitars, Eddie Jackson on bass and Scott Rockenfield on drums.

Neil Kernon is Producing, Engineering and Mixing. Man of many hats.

Walk In The Shadows

Written by Chris DeGarmo, Geoff Tate and Michael Wilton.

It’s as good as anything that came from “Operation Mindcrime” and “Empire”.

I’m a big fan of the Intro riff (it’s great to play) and that Chorus is massive.

I Dream in Infrared

Written by Tate and Wilton.

It reminds me of Rush in the Intro and I feel like Crimson Glory took this song and used it as a foundation to build on.

But you need to press play on this for the acoustic guitar arpeggios and the haunting vocal melody from Tate in the verses.

Is it just me or does this track remind you of “Breaking the Silence” and “Waiting for 22” from the “Mindcrime” album?

The Whisper

Written solely by DeGarmo and the Celtic inspired Intro definitely gets me interested. Something that Maiden would use a lot in the Dickinson Part 2 era.

The whole song is what Metal should sound like.

Gonna Get Close to You

A Dalbello cover, although I didn’t know it at the time.

To cover a song from outside the genre you are classified in, is a sign of respect to the artist who wrote it.

Many years later, Lisa Dalbello would do guest vocals on Alex Lifeson’s “Victor” album.

Check out the way the verses are constructed, it feels ominous.

The Killing Words

Written by DeGarmo and Tate.

The keyboard Intro gives way to the guitar, before it goes into a soundtrack like verse. It’s very Marillion like and the vocals remind me of Fish and I like it.

But you’ll be pressing play to this song, for the section when Tate sings “Over”.

Surgical Strike

Written by DeGarmo and Wilton it feels more like a cut from “The Warning”.

And there are sections here which remind of “Speak” and “The Needle Lies”.

Press play for the Outro that begins from 2.40. You won’t be disappointed.

Neue Regel

Written by DeGarmo and Tate.

When I heard “A Perfect Circle” for the first time, I thought of this song. It has all of those atmospheric elements and outside the box sounds and composition elements.

This is how progressive music should sound like and it’s the embryo of what the “Promised Land” album would be.

But press play on this just to hear the power of Geoff Tate.

Chemical Youth (We Are Rebellion)

Written by Tate and Wilton, who brings the heavy metal riffs to the rebellion.

It’s put together in a progressive way as it doesn’t just follow the standard verse and chorus narrative.

London

Written by DeGarmo, Tate and Wilton and it reminds me of the “Mindcrime” album musically and the song “I Don’t Believe In Love”.

It’s got a great Chorus, so press play to hear “London” sound like “Young Boy”.

And then hang around for the harmonies and individual lead breaks.

Screaming in Digital

Written by DeGarmo, Tate and Wilton, musically it also reminds me of different songs from the “Mindcrime” album.

The electronic synths are dominant and Tate is very Peter Gabriel like in the verses.

But press play for the vocal melodies from 2.15 to 2.40 and stick around for the guitar hero lead breaks. And then those unbelievable vocal melodies come back.

I Will Remember

Written by DeGarmo, it has some nice acoustic playing from DeGarmo, a sign of things to come.

It was Certified Gold in the U.S.

To this Australian, it’s a criminally underrated jewel that was way ahead of its time and no one really knew what to do with it.

And I’m not sure if Marillion was an influence to the band at this point in time but goddamn this album reminds me so much of “Script for a Jester’s Tear”. Maybe it’s the similarities in vocal styles between Fish and Tate.

Anyway press play and let the sounds of love, politics and technology wash over you.

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1986 – Part 3.1: Megadeth – Peace Sells But Who’s Buying

“Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?” was released on September 19, 1986.

Edward J. Repka as the cover illustrator is the rock star here. While the concept design is listed as coming from Dave Mustaine and Andy Somers, its Repka who brought the concept to life.

There is Vic Rattlehead, portrayed as a real estate salesman, in front of a desolated United Nations Headquarters with fighter jets in the sky and frayed flags still on the poles.

Brilliant.

The band for this album is the same as the debut, with Dave Mustaine on guitars and lead vocals, David Ellefson on bass, Chris Poland on guitars and Gar Samuelson on drums.

The album is produced by Mustaine but Casey McMackin as the engineer also deserves credit as he was involved with mixing or engineering quite a few albums from the California Thrash Metal scene, for bands like Vio-Lence, Saint Vitus, Nuclear Assault, Zoetrope, Dark Angel and Flotsam and Jetsam. And in the 90’s he did “1916” and “March or Die” by Motorhead. Mixing was done by Paul Lani and Stan Katayama but there’s a story in that as well.

The album was troubled due to the high level of drug abuse. Mustaine and Ellefson were already heavy users, however Samuelson and Poland were said to be even more extreme, something which Poland has disputed to say that what he did was nothing different to what other people were doing at the time. Regardless of the differing point of views, Samuelson and Poland got fired after the promotional tour for this album.

Another issue was the record label. The project started with Combat Records, resulting in the original mix of the album and a co-production by Randy Burns, however Capital Records then purchased the rights to the album (and the band) and got Paul Lani to remix it himself. Lani was more of a Pop Rock mixer, so he knew how the album should sound to get favourable MTV and Radio treatment. And it got that attention as well.

All songs are written and composed by Dave Mustaine, except “I Ain’t Superstitious” by Willie Dixon.

“Wake Up Dead”

The film clip got me interested. It was the steel cage and the chaos around it, with people climbing all over it towards the end. It was dystopian and unsettling and I loved it.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Mustaine’s voice to begin with, but man, the music had me hooked. There was just so much guitar playing to unpack and learn.

Like the head banging riff that plays between 1.10 to 1.40. Or the blistering super-fast picked riff between 2.03 and 2.26. Or the change in groove in tempo from 2.42 with the unorthodox solo from Chris Poland combining exotic lines with fast jazz chromatic lines.

And there wasn’t much singing in this “single” like the hard rock singles I was growing up with. Actually I think all up there are about 8 lines as those lyrics describe Mustaine cheating on his current partner however he stayed with her because he was homeless at the time and needed a place to stay. But he had to leave her because he thought she had intentions to kill him.

“The Conjuring”

The song is about black magic and contains instructions for hexes.

The intro is ominous but it’s the fast riff from 0.57 which I like while Chris Poland moves in with another atonal solo, making sharps and flats fit chords they shouldn’t fit.

Check out the galloping and progressive riff between 1.43 and 1.58. A favourite and so fun to play. Or the fast riffs from 2.36 to 2.57 and then my favourite foot stomping, head banging riff in the song from 2.58 to 3.29.

And Mustaine is not working within a Verse and Chorus structure. Until the next song.

“Peace Sells”

It’s iconic, musically and lyrically.

The bass intro sets the tone. Even though Ellefson plays it, Mustaine wrote it.

The “No More Mr Nice Guy” vocal delivery over a riff that Mr Hetfield would use for the “Enter Sandman” verses is excellent. Then again, the E pedal point with a F chord chucked in was a staple of thrash metal music and Mustaine’s favourite band “Diamond Head”.

The Motorhead inspired outro from 2.20 is where it’s at. It’s fast, its unrelenting and Mustaine’s war cry of “Peace Sells But Who’s Buying” echoes the great work to come, especially in the track “Holy Wars” from “Rust In Peace” a few years later.

I like the lyric “What do you mean, I don’t support your system? I go to court when I have too”

Its clever.

And the best summary of the song is the way Mustaine put it on a VH1 doco; “peace is something we all want, but nobody wants to give up stuff.”

“Devil’s Island”

Mustaine takes some of his riffs from his Metallica days and re-uses em here as the intro reminds me of a section in the song “Phantom Lord”. He also used a similar riff in “This Was My Life” from the “Countdown To Extinction”.

But my favourite riff is the Chorus riff. Check it out.

Another great riff is from 2.22 to 2.43.

The title is a reference to a former French penal colony off the coast of French Guiana. The lyrics detail the thoughts of a condemned prisoner awaiting execution. He is spared by God, but must spend the rest of his life on the island.

“Good Mourning/Black Friday”

Side 2 begins with this.

“Good Mourning” begins with a clean tone acoustic guitar begins. Its haunting.

And some serious shred is heard as the song transitions from “Good Mourning” to “Black Friday”.

How good is the musical groove and feel from 1.48 to 2.23?

“Bad Omen”

Another ominous like intro with arpeggios as the song builds into a thrasher from when the fast bass riff begins at 1.19. But it’s the groove metal riff at 1.36 which gets me interested to learn it.

The soloing from Chris Poland is so different to what I was used to. Very Jazz fusion like in the vein of Al DiMeola.

At 2.50 it goes into a supercharged neck breaking riff and some serious shredding.

“I Ain’t Superstitious”

Other artists did it, but I feel that Mustaine showed the metal community that you could cover songs that didn’t really come from the genre you are classed in and still make em sound like they are from the genre, like this blues funk song, suddenly sounds like a metal blues song.

From a reference point, “I Ain’t Superstitious” is written by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in 1961.

“My Last Words”

Mustaine again showcases his arpeggio clean tone riff writing for a song about playing a game of Russian roulette.

The intro on this song is excellent. After the clean tone arpeggios and open string pull offs, it goes into a face melting riff.

But check out the riff from 3.10 to 3.25 and the solo after it. Even Lars Ulrich has given this track his tick of approval.

At 36 minutes long, Mustaine created an album that took hours and hours of learning in order to get the riffs and leads down. And from that, I became a fan of Megadeth.

“Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?” is very influential in the movement of technical thrash metal. Mustaine (if he hadn’t done so already) raised the bar here. Along with other thrash releases from Metallica and Slayer, future extreme metallers had a holy trinity of release for reference points.

From a commercial point of view, the use of the “Peace Sells” bass riff to introduce the MTV news segment, showed other thrash bands the commercial potential of thrash metal if done right. But MTV didn’t pay em, because they used the “fair use” defence which is why they cut off the music after a few seconds, as if they went past that timeframe, they would have to make payment.

Musicians who would go on to form Sweden’s Melodic Death metal scene have always referred to this album as an influence.

The album does have a Platinum certification for the U.S and Canada and a Silver certification for the U.K.

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Daughtry – Dearly Beloved

Chris Daughtry (and as a byproduct Daughtry) had a decision to make after “Break The Spell”.

Should they stay with the same sound?

Should they change their sound completely?

Should they stay with the same sound but experiment with a few songs by bringing in different sounds?

“Baptized” came out in in November 2013 on RCA Records and it was an electro synth pop sounding album, a significant departure from the group’s hard rock sound from their first three albums.

Like the previous albums, RCA farmed Chris Daughtry out to work with different writers and to record with those different writers like the debut album. But while the writers previously had some rock pedigree, the writers on “Baptized” album specialized in other styles.

There is a song called “Long Live Rock N Roll” and it doesn’t even rock, as it’s more in the vein of “I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker”, an acoustic folk story telling song of growing up with a certain type of music.

But lead single “Waiting For Superman” did stick around and is at 83.7 million streams at the moment on Spotify.

Then came a “Greatest Hits” album in 2016 with two new songs called “Torches” and “Go Down.

“Torches” is actually a good bridge between the old sound and the “Baptized” sound,

The song “Go Down” has your typical catchy Daughtry vocal melody but it’s instrument sounds are routed in synth pop and electronica. Think of the band “Garbage”.

Most artists who found success playing a hard modern rock style in the 2000’s started to experiment and bring in sounds from Adele, Maroon 5, The Fray, Train, OneRepublic and Imagine Dragons.

Shinedown was in a similar predicament as Daughtry but I believe they did a better job at bringing in those new sounds, while still staying true to their old sound.

“Cage To Rattle” came out in 2018. 10 songs that total 38 minutes. RCA again was spending a lot of money for Chris Daughtry to write with so many outside writers in the quest to find hits.

But what the record executives failed to understand is that Daughtry’s audience is predominantly made up of rockers.

And there is a saying, when your chasing hits it don’t mean the hits would come.

Then Daughtry and RCA parted ways.

And a new look was in play for a dystopian story called “Dearly Beloved”, released in 2021.

Plus the hard rock distorted guitars are back with a vengeance, something which Daughtry hinted to in 2016 when the “Greatest Hits” album came out but then the label got in the way.

The band for the album is Chris Daughtry, Josh Steely and Brian Craddock on guitars, Josh Paul on bass, Elvio Fernandes on keyboards and Brandon Maclin on drums.

Desperation

Written by Chris Daughtry.

It simmers in the verses, with Daughtry singing in the lower registers as he blends his voice with the synth and guitars.

It’s a slow rocker before soaring in the Chorus.

And the heaviness of the guitars definitely captures my attention.

It also sets the lead in for the next track “World On Fire”.

World On Fire

Written by Daughtry and producers Scott Stevens and Marti Frederiksen.

The film clip for this and “Heavy Is The Crown” is set in a dystopian future while Chris Daughtry looks like an “Assassin’s Creed” character.

Heavy Is The Crown

Written by Daughtry, John Cummings, Elvis Fernandezs, Scott Stevens and Marti Frederiksen.

It’s a song writing committee. John Cummings is from the band Mogwai, who is accomplished on guitar, as well as keyboards.

The guitars dominate here along with Daughtry’s voice. Check out the Chorus.

Changes Are Coming

Written by Daughtry, Stevens and Frederiksen.

More of the same 120bpm, guitar heavy modern Arena Rock.

Dearly Beloved

Written by Daughtry, Brian Craddock and Mark Holman.

It’s a ballad and Daughtry knows how to deliver em.

The guitars are load and so is the electronica and keyboards.

Cry For Help

Written by Daughtry, Stevens and Frederiksen.

Acoustics and piano give way to loud distorted guitars and another hooky Chorus.

Asylum

Written by Daughtry, Cummings, Fernandezs, Stevens and Frederiksen.

Its sort of gospel heavy rock cut and why wouldn’t it be, with lyrics like “the lunatics have taken the asylum.”

Evil

Written by Daughtry, Stevens and Frederiksen.

Check out the bridge.

The Victim

Written by Daughtry, Stevens and Frederiksen.

If you like hard rock you will like this.

Somebody

Chris Daughtry is the songwriter and he delivers vocally on this while the guitars get loud in the Chorus.

Call You Mine

Written by Chris Daughtry in and his wife Deanna.

The Intro with the palm muted chugging acoustic guitar is the best.

Lioness

Written by Chris Daughtry.

Check out the Outro.

Break Into My Heart

Written by Daughtry, Stevens and Frederiksen.

A piano and a voice to close the album.

“Dearly Beloved” is a return to form which shows the world that Daughtry still knows how to rock!!

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The Record Vault: Daughtry – Leave This Town (B Sides)

“Leave This Town: The B-Sides” is an EP released on March 15, 2010, to iTunes.

Listening to these six tracks, it’s hard to believe they were left off. The quality is there.

The personnel is Chris Daughtry on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Josh Steely on lead guitar,
Brian Craddock on rhythm guitar, Josh Paul on bass guitar and Robin Diaz on drums.

“Long Way”

Written by Chris Daughtry and Jason Wade from Lifehouse.

It’s got that Lifehouse vibe, but Daughtry’s voice is so unique.

Having a stable band behind Daughtry’s voice, makes all of the songs sound genuine and not over-produced, regardless of the money and time spent in studios to over produce em.

“One Last Chance”

Written by Daughtry, Mitch Allan and David Hodges.

Its too similar to “Life After You” in the verses and is probably a reason why it wasn’t included. But its still a worthy track, with a Chorus that reminds me of “Learn My Lesson” just a bit more aggressive.

And there is a harmony solo.

“Get Me Through”

Written by Daughtry and rhythm guitarist Brian Craddock and it’s in the alt-rock dropped D arena vibe.

Check out the Bridge vocal melody.

“What Have We Become”

Written by a songwriting committee of Daughtry, rhythm guitarist Craddock, ex-drummer Joey Barnes, bassist Josh Paul, guitiarist Josh Steely and songwriter/bassist Tommy Henriksen.

It’s basically a mid-tempo heavy rocker with a Chorus riff that reminds me of “Pour Some Sugar To Me” and a worthy guitar lead.

“On the Inside”

Another mid-tempo rocker written by Daughtry, Richard Marx and Chad Kroeger.

Flip a coin and let it land in your hand
Heads you gonna stay but its tails

Taking a chance is easier said than done. Writing out a plan is easy, actioning the plan is a different story altogether.

“Traffic Light”

Written by Daughtry and rhtynm guitarist Craddock.

This one is a favourite, another mid-tempo rocker which is a cross between “September”, “Tennesse Line” and “Supernatural”.

Man that Chorus.

Wow, so catchy for a B- Side.

“Back Again”

This is a great rock track, written by Daughtry and Adam Gontier from Three Days Grace at the time and two of the greatest hard rock voices to come out in the 2000’s.

The Chorus is Arena rock.

But you will be listening and saving this song because of the bridge, when Daughtry starts singing, “we’ve been down this road before”.

It’s that good it comes “back again” for the outro.

These B-sides are A-sides to me.

Their not on Spotify but YouTube has em so check em out.

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1996 – Part 3.6: Apocalyptica – Plays Metallica By Four Cellos

It could be seen as a gimmick to mimic hard rock and heavy metal songs on cellos.

But it’s no gimmick.

Because what you hear are technical players playing the the vocal melody, the guitar leads, the main riffs and sometimes the drum beat.

“Plays Metallica by Four Cellos” is the debut album by Finnish metal band Apocalyptica, released in 1996. It features instrumental Metallica covers arranged and played on cellos.

The band was invited to record this album by a label employee after a 1995 show in which they performed some of the songs. The members were initially unsure and thought nobody would listen to such a record, but the employee insisted and they recorded it.

And people liked it, especially in Europe. In Finland it was certified Platinum and it was certified Gold in Germany and Poland.

Enter Sandman

When you hear the vocal melodies of James Hetfield shifted from a voice to a cello, you get to understand how musical Hetfield’s vocal melodies are.

Master Of Puppets

So many good sections in this.

The way they play the Verse and Pre-Chorus with the vocal melody is a must listen.

But you will be pressing play on this to listen to the solo sections as they move from the clean tone arpeggios to the fast sections. And that whole clean tone arpeggios section is very Ennio Morricone sounding, when played on the cellos. But I never thought that hearing it with the electrics.

Harvester Of Sorrow

Great sequencing to have these three tracks one after another. Imagine an album that had this three punch combo.

The slow metal groove on the original version is a favourite and the guys in Apocalyptica do it justice, especially the cello that becomes like the percussive drum.

The Unforgiven

This song was made to be played via orchestras and cellos however I don’t think that was the intention of Hetifeld and Co. Yes, you can hear some of those Ennio Morricone influences in the original cut that appeared on the “Black” album, but goddamn when you hear the track in this medium, it’s a soundtrack song to a Clint Eastwood Western.

The intro, the chorus and the solo sections are essential listening. You really get to hear the quality and melodicism of Metallica.

And the sequencing of these four tracks is perfect.

Sad But True

When I first heard this song, I heard a bone crushing heavy metal cut with a Kashmir like groove. But when you hear it with the cellos, you immediately pick up on the Ennio Morricone influence.

Creeping Death

The Verses and the Chorus played on the cellos along with the vocal melody is essential listening.

Then instead of repeating the Verse and Chorus, the Apocalyptica guys go straight into the excellent Hammett lead break and the Conan The Barbarian “Die” section.

Wherever I May Roam

The middle Eastern style intro suddenly sounds like a Genghis Khan Mongolian soundtrack when played through cellos.

Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

This song was always going to work on cellos.

When the arpeggios start and Hammet’s lead begins in the Intro , its haunting and sad.

Basically if you like Metallica, you will like what Apocalyptica does here

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