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

The Record Vault: Coheed And Cambria – Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures

Coheed and Cambria were back in the Amory Wars universe when they announced the 5 part Vaxis series.

This is Act 1.

Otherwise known as “Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures”, the ninth album, released on October 5, 2018.

As soon as it was announced, I was interested and Pre-Ordered the limited edition deluxe box set which includes an 80+ page hardcover, full color book with custom illustrations and complete ACT I story.

The Book also houses the CD of “The Unheavenly Creatures” as well as the exclusive BONUS CD, “The Crown Heights Demos”.

The box set also includes a replica Creature mask, a fold out poster of the cover art, the usual VIP/Black Card which allows card holders early access to tickets and early entry to Coheed and Cambria headline shows.

And the pre order also came with access to a digital site to download the album and the demos on release day.

So, the story.

Set sometime after the events of “No World for Tomorrow”, (their 2007 album, as the three subsequent albums were all prequels), the planets that formally made up Heaven’s Fence are scarred and cracked after an event known as “The Great Crash.”

A group of elites known as the Five Houses of the Star Supremacy have converted these worlds into prison planets, with one planet being called The Dark Sentencer.

The album tells the tale of two new characters, Sister Spider and Creature as they struggle with being imprisoned on The Dark Sentencer and fight to secure the safety of their unborn son, Vaxis.

At 78 minutes, it’s a monster of an album.

The album opens as usual, with a short music and spoken intro called “Prologue”. The voice over talks about “the five houses”, “the planet prisons”, and “a love story”. And the voice ends the narrative with, “It begins with them, but ends with me, their son, Vaxis.”

Then the “Domino The Destitute” inspired riff kicks off “The Dark Sentencer”. You get the big chants like a prison riot is taking place, the big rock riffs and the progressive feel of the arrangement. Like all Coheed albums, song number 2 is the epic.

The title track “Unheavenly Creatures” has a riff that sounds like it was written on the TonePad app. When the guitars come crashing in, it’s major key pop rock.

I like how Coheed always makes riffs in a major key sound heavy, like in “Toys”. If anything it could have come from the fingertips of Mark Tremonti.

The spirit of “Mother Superior” is evident on “Black Sunday”.

“Queen Of The Dark” starts off with a sad piano riff and then a digital delay strummed riff comes in before the window shattering drum groove sets the mood and tone.

“True Ugly” feels like a power pop punk song, full of melody and aggression.

“Love Protocol” has an arena rock Chorus that needs to be heard.

“The Pavilion (A Long Way Back)” has a simple palm muted arpeggio guitar riff and a drum groove that demands attention. It’s one of the best songs on the album and it was the first song written for the album.

“Night-Time Walkers” feels like a “Halloween” or “Escape From New York” soundtrack in the intro. Or a scene from “Stranger Things”. Then the crunching guitars kick in and the drumming becomes more dominant before it moves into a massive Chorus.

“The Gutter” could have come from “A Night at the Opera”. And how good are the violins in this song.

“All On Fire” feels like “No World For Tomorrow”.

“It Walks Amongst Us” has this Middle Eastern exotic soundscape to start off, before it moves into a metal like riff that is played with an 80s keyboard synth sound.

“Old Flames”, is the second last track, and it’s a massive song. You can see it in the same way that the second last episode of each season of “Game Of Thrones” was the biggie.

This feels like classic rock as a piano starts it, before the Cheap Trick like riff kicks in and a massive Arena rock Chorus.

The whole “Naa / Na na na na na-ah” feels like a Cheap Trick song. Even My Chemical Romance have sections like this. As the guitars and drums end, the piano riff starts and it’s the “Prologue” riff.

“Lucky Stars” is an acoustic number that closes the record. It’s like the aftermath. Make sure you stick around for the Clapton like lead break.

And the guys toured hard on this album and now we wait for “Act 2”, in between Claudio’s side project The Prize Fighter Inferno, named after a character in the Amory Wars story.

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1996 – Part 1.1: Def Leppard – Slang

There was no way Def Leppard could continue in the same vein of “Pyromania”, “Hysteria” and “Adrenalize” without a reset. It became a heavy burden to carry on the style of those albums. They had to change or die.

I was surprised when the opening musical notes of “Truth” started off, and the distorted “why don’t you tell me” vocal line. It was more in the vein of Brit Alternative Rock/Pop than Blues Heavy Rock.

Check out the exotic sounding lead break. And the demo version of the song sounds more natural and it’s my go to version as the mix is in the heavy rock category that I like.

I like the exotic middle eastern sounds on “Turn To Dust” before a groovy Rick Savage bass riff kicks in and the Chorus is classic Def Lep, with the layered vocals.

“Slang” always felt like an INXS song to me as it’s got that fun pop vibe.

How good is the repeating lick intro to “All I Want Is Everything”?

Then when the drums and bass come in, it’s got a perfect groove and Joe Elliot’s haunting vocal melody takes it to another level.

This track could have come from a Tom Petty album.

“Work It Out” is Vivian Campbell’s first songwriting contribution and it’s a high point on the album. The song reminds me of the sounds of British bands like Gun who had a brief moment in the spotlight between 1989 and 1995.

The chugging guitar sound was made by running Campbell’s guitar through a drum machine gate.

In the June, 1996, Guitar issue, Campbell said that when he was in Dio, he wrote some of the music, but writing a song for Dio was basically writing a guitar riff and 32 bars of a guitar solo. That was his world, as Dio would then arrange the pieces as he saw fit.

Campbell mentioned that Def Leppard is not about that. It’s about getting the song right for the record. Campbell further said that;

“In the 80’s there was more than just doing what was appropriate for the song. There was the plus, you know, that I had to do a solo for a record but also had to advance my career as a guitarist in the eyes of all guitarists.”

Make sure you stick around for the interlude section. It starts off funky, there’s a repeating palm muted guitar lick with ambient noise and then a bone crunching riff.

That’s right people, no guitar solo, but still plenty of guitar melodic licks and riffs played throughout.

That small fingerpicked intro for “Breathe A Sigh” is excellent. This is Def Leppard going more rhythm and blues with their unmistakable layered harmony vocals in the Chorus.

In a June 1996, Guitar issue, interviewer Rich Maloof mentioned how the hip hop groove is reminiscent of TLC’s “Diggin’ On You”.

How good is the arpeggio picked guitar riff and the vocal melody from the start in “Deliver Me”?

And that Chorus is heavy rock with the melodic layered vocals that I expect from Def Lep.

“Gift Of Flesh” has a slamming wah solo by Phil Collen done in one take.

“Blood Runs Cold” is another classic Def Lep track. The actual version and the “Rough Mix” version are both excellent.

How cool is the New Wave style of guitar on “Pearl Of Euphoria”?

And yes there had to be a song title with a word that ends in “ia”.

The June 1996 Guitar piece from Rich Maloof ends with these words;

As guitarists in a band that found success in a doomed era of rock, Collen and Campbell have adopted the Darwinian notion that survival is dependent on change. The new era is just as doomed, of course, but it speaks well for this pair that they knew to change and had the reserve of talent needed to grow.

As Collen concludes, “We’ve picked up a lot of experience on the way and we found a way to get it out of our system with an album we think is right. To us, that is the biggest thing. We weren’t even slightly worried, and we think anyone who likes us will like it. And hopefully we’ll get some new fans as well.”

Crank “Slang” and enjoy an excellent Def Leppard record.

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Re-Recordings

Last week, there was a lot of discussion on Taylor Swift and her re-recordings. This week, crickets. Nothing. It’s amazing how fast news rises and dies. And I’m surprised at how many different views people have on it.

In the end it’s all about control.

In metal and rock circles, these kind of re-recordings have been happening from when I could remember.

Def Leppard created forgeries of a few of their songs in the last 10 years so they could be on streaming services as they were having a contractual dispute with the label over the payments they should be getting from digital services.

Any artist that ends up on Frontiers Records, ends up doing forgeries of their classic songs. Check out this Frontiers list of a whose who ofre-recorded classics.

Jeff Lynne re-recorded a lot of ELO songs and released them as a solo album with the title, “Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra.”

Stryper re-recorded their best off and called it “Second Coming” album.

Whitesnake had their biggest hit by re-recording an earlier song in 1987 which was on Geffen Records and as a Frontiers artist David Coverdale re-recorded his Deep Purple era and released it as a Whitesnake album.

Journey re-recorded the majority of their classics with Arnel Pineda and released these re-recorded songs with an album of new material as a bonus disc.

Pretty Maids did the same with “Louder Than Ever” in which they left the “sacred” albums of “Future World” and “Jump The Gun” alone but took songs from the others.

Trixter did it with a few songs on each of their Frontiers albums.

Kid Rock said in 2012 that he will re-recording his 12x Platinum smash, “Devil without a Cause” so that he will own the rights to the new versions.

Styx re-recorded some of their classics plus a couple of Damn Yankees songs with the “Regeneration: Volume I and II” releases.

Dokken (the version with Don Dokken on vocals, Jon Levin on guitars, Barry Sparks on bass and Mick Brown on drums) re-recorded the classics from the 80’s and released those versions as a “Greatest Hits” package in 2010. Maybe the title of the album should have been “Greatest Re-Recorded Hits”

KISS also re-recorded their classic songs with current members Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer and released em as a bonus disc with “Sonic Boom”.

Arch Enemy went down this route to re-record classic songs from their first three albums with their new singer. Fans who liked the original albums didn’t like the forgeries while people who discovered the band during the Angela Gossow period, didn’t care.

Any person who purchased a “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band” game, most likely supported an artist who had re-recorded their song because the master went missing, or something was wrong with the master or because they wanted to have control of the higher license payment for the songs that appeared on the games.

And let’s not forget what the Osbourne camp did with “Blizzard Of Ozz” and “Diary Of A Madman” by taking out Kerslake and Daisley from the recordings and getting their parts re-done by the current members at the time in Mike Bordin and Rob Trujilo. Bordin expressed regret at doing it many years later.

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The Record Vault: Coheed And Cambria – The Color Before The Sun

The album came out in 2015 and it’s the only non-conceptual album the band has released and easily there most accessible. Then again, with each release their old emo hard-core and metal roots got less and less as some prog rock influences came in and then classic rock.

I got the limited edition, deluxe box set which includes two CDs, the album and a disc of demo tracks, plus two hardcover books, one featuring album lyrics and artwork and another featuring a “behind-the-scenes look” of the album’s creative process, plus an in-studio DVD, and a clear 7-inch record of unreleased demo tracks.

I also got a custom house key, a lapel pin, a certificate of authenticity; as well as exclusive, members-only access to new music, videos, concert tickets, merchandise and commentary from the band to a special website that requires a log in and all that.

“Island”

The acoustic single note riff to kick off “Island” is addictive. It reminds me of Rush and “The Spirit Of Radio”(not because the riffs sound the same, but because of its feel) and then a riff which reminds me of “Jessie’s Girl” kicks in with the same single note riff in distorted played over it. It’s upbeat and poppy, but lyrically the song deals with doubt and about “getting off the island”, in which this case the island is a metaphor for the comfort zone of our lives or the war we have within our head about starting something new or staying with the old.

I live inside this head, and I’m at war
Hero and villain, Same type, keeping score

“Eraser”

It has a groovy bass played in the verses and drums which dominate.

Oh Middle age, bring me a crisis
What am I worth, does the truth hurt?

Yes what are we worth and what are our lives worth. There’s nothing like age to get you reassessing and re-evaluating. In this case, Claudio wants the clocks to be turned back to the way things were.

I’ve been nostalgic recently, maybe because I am watching “Sopranos”, but when I think to turning the clocks back to the past, it might sound exciting, but I don’t want to live in a world with a few channels, no internet or slow dial up internet and listening to music based on purchases instead of leasing.

“Colors”

I lost myself along the way
Restless nights mixed with purposeless days
Counting forward, taking steps
To a better man, the one you can live with

The song deals with changes like selling a house, moving to a new house and spending time away from family. And until you get settled again, it takes weeks maybe months before you make sense of it all.

“Here To Mars”

It’s in the stars
And you’re my everything from here to Mars

A very upbeat love song from Claudio to his wife Chondra, like “Blood Red Summer” upbeat.

Make sure you check out the interlude section from 2.18 to 3.02 as it builds up into the Chorus again as Claudio sings, “I will never let you go”.

“Ghost”

The acoustic guitar riff keeps repeating like a metronomic grandfather clock. The song is simple, as Claudio’s vocal harmonies carry the song.

“Atlas”

That you’re the weight of his anchor,
The love that is guiding him home,

Written for Claudio and Chondra’s son, Atlas.

“Young Love”

The song is an apology to The Big Beige, Claudio’s old house in New York. And for those fans who always wondered why the demo releases are called the “Big Beige” versions, well it’s because he did them at home.

I like the repeating guitar lick.

“We leave for the coast/In the wrong hands/You where bruised, disposed”

I like the ending, as at it transitions into “You Got Spirit, Kid”.

“You Got Spirit, Kid”

It’s the first single released for “The Color Before The Sun”.

The plastic king of castle polyethylene
Go on, time to be a good little pig

Cause when the rug gets pulled out from underneath
Just embrace the fall
Oh you got spirit, kid
You’re number one
Go on living that farce
Cause nobody gives a f… who you are

Manufactured pop stars don’t have a long shelf life which is a shame, because there is talent there, but it’s never given a chance to be its own beast as others control it. And when it all goes bad, the people who control just move on to the next wannabe. In other words, you will come to a point in life when you realise that the problems you see as big aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things.

There is a nice little Pink Floyd jam at the end which makes an amazing segue into “The Audience”.

“The Audience”

This song became a favourite instantly with its Tool like groove. Just listen to the music in the verses. The guitars play an intricate riff, the bass syncs up with the bass drum while the drums free style and still keep a beat.

This is my audience
Forever one together
Burning Stars
Cut from the same disease
Ever longing, what and who we are

The fans of Coheed and Cambria have expectations as to how the band should sound, the industries who make money from Coheed and Cambria have expectations as to how the band should sound and the band members themselves as they grow older have evolving wants as to how they should sound. Sometimes they don’t align and sometimes they do.

“Peace To The Mountain”

It’s a simple acoustic, drum and vocal song.

I learned to keep quiet,
How to keep my distance.
Afraid to let strangers in,
How to keep my secrets.

I see this as Claudio hiding behind the characters and the Sci-Fi world he created because he was scared to express his own feelings in his songs. But he’s now older and wiser and at peace with who he is.

So if you were scared to check out Coheed and Cambria before, because of the Armory Wars saga, check out this album.

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The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – April 5 to April 11

4 Years Ago (2017)

I was writing about the labels and streaming services.

Spotify is a service, that provides music to users. It was created by techies because the record labels didn’t have the clout to do what was required for their artists and the vast copyrights they hold. But for Spotify to work, it needed access to the vast libraries of copyrights the record labels hold. And in the process the three major labels got a stake in Spotify.

And the labels still control the narrative. They have done such a great job with their fake news stories about streaming rates killing music, but at the same time their revenue goes up due to streaming payments.

8 Years Ago (2013)

It was a Bon Jovi week. I tracked how “What About Now” dropped from #7 to #34 in a week.

Sales had dropped from 101,000 to 29,000 to 16,000. And news happened about Richie Sambora dropping off the tour due to personal issues.

In comparison to sales with other acts, “Babel” from Mumford and Sons was still moving 37,000 units, and “Night Visions” from Imagine Dragons was moving 47,000 units. Both albums had been on the charts for 27 and 30 weeks respectively at the time.

Then I did another post which had “What About Now” dropping from #34 to #50 at week 4.

It only moved 2,383 units for the week but the tour was selling out. I wrote that the album is the worst Jovi album ever. It debuted at number 1, then went to number 7 and then it went to number 34 and then at 50.

I even got creative and asked the question what could have Bon Jovi done differently.

But reading back now, I went on a misguided rant which is embarrassing to read but still part of this blogs history.

Last Man Standing” from Bon Jovi is a classic song waiting to be rediscovered.

Everyone knows the hits. However, there are a lot of songs that deserve more attention than what they have received. 

“Last Man Standing” is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Billy Falcon. The studio version was meant to be on 2003’s “This Left Feels Right” greatest hits package, however, it ended up on the “100,000,000 Fans Can’t Be Wrong” box set released in 2004.  It was a laid back acoustic style ballad with slide guitar and all the country twang you can get into a song.  An acoustic live version of the song was added to the “This Left Feels Right” DVD.

It was then re-worked into a great rock song for the 2005 “Have A Nice Day” album.  The intro grabs you and makes you want to pay attention and the theme of the song is about kids turning up to a circus/freak show act to see the last real performer of live music.

I also wrote about “Undivided” which is another classic Jovi song waiting to be rediscovered.

“Undivided” was written by Bon Jovi, Sambora and Billy Falcon and it’s probably the heaviest song Bon Jovi has recorded. The producer was Luke Ebbin (who was introduced to JBJ by A&R legend John Kalodner) and the song was originally called “One”.

I wrote about how Black Sabbath was employing the same scorched earth marketing that Bon Jovi employed to promote their new album “13” and their first with Ozzy since 1978.

I got into Black Sabbath via Randy Rhoads and the “Tribute” album. The “Blizzard” and “Diary” albums became my bibles in relation to guitar playing. I needed to learn every riff, every lick, every bass line and every vocal melody line. It was an obsession.

On “Tribute”, I heard three songs that where not written by the usual Ozzy, Randy and Bob Daisley combination. I actually feel sorry for Bob Daisley. The Osbourne’s have tried hard to write Daisley out of the Ozzy history. 

It was “Children of The Grave” that got my attention. The way it’s done on “Tribute”, with faster tempo and the wonderful Randy Rhoads Guitar Hero solo.

I was listening to a lot of Periphery at the time as well. And I wrote a post about their song “Ragnarok”.

I saw Periphery live at the Annandale Hotel in Feb 2013, as a sideshow they did from the Soundwave tour. 

They were good. Very good. Technical and melodic. Technical and aggressive. Technical and progressive. Technical and rocking. Technical and serene. Technical and mechanical. 

Ragnarok. The end of the world in Norse mythology by submersion of the world in water. Afterward, the world will resurface anew and be repopulated by two human survivors. Does this sound familiar to all? 

This song explodes from the 2.20 minute mark to about 4.30. Check it out.

Andy Johns also passed away. He was a pretty big deal in my life as he was involved in quite a few influential albums for me.

Cinderella and the “Night Songs” and “Long Cold Winter” albums. Then came “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” by Van Halen. Ted Templeman was on board to record Sammy Hagar, as Andy Johns was too demanding for Sammy.

Majority of music lovers will remember the artists and the songs attached they wrote and the producers become forgotten.

I discovered a Swiss band called Polution that played a brand a rock I like, so I wrote about em.

I checked em out on Spotify to see if anything else has come out since and nothing has. So I guess another one bites the dust.

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The Record Vault: Coheed And Cambria – The Afterman: Descension

“The Afterman: Descension” is the seventh studio album by progressive rock band Coheed and Cambria and the second part of a double album, the first part of which is “The Afterman: Ascension”.

You can read my review on it here.

The deluxe version of the album was released with a coffee-table book co-written by band member Claudio Sanchez and writer Peter David, giving a song-by-song experience of the concept album. The album follows the Amory Wars storyline, and concentrates on the character Sirius Amory.

In summary, “The Afterman’s” story takes place at the start of the saga. It follows Sirius Amory, an astromner and his All Mother spaceship as they explore a powerful energy source known as the “Keywork” which is powered by the souls of the departed, imprisoned in some form of purgartorial afterlife.

“Pretelethal”

“WHO WILL REPAIR THIS HEART?” is the repeating lyric, as this song is the set up for the next one.

In the book, Claudio explains that the musical ideas came from him jamming with a lot of new gadgets that he picked up on the road.

And he stuck with the lyric because it represents loss and pain.

From a story point of view, a weakened Sirius is being protected by the energy of Evagria The Faithful, from the other entities. But Vic The Butcher, Domino The Destitute and Holy Wood The Cracked are bombarding Evagria, trying to get to Sirius, so they could possess his body and leave this place.

“Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant”

A sombre acoustic guitar starts off with a droning open string and a high melody.

Then the song explodes into the riff and the whole band is in.

If you remember from the “Ascension” review, there is a character called Vic The Butcher, who wanted Sentry to kill innocents on his behalf, but when Sentry refused, Vic The Butcher organised others to kill Sentry by hanging, making it look like a suicide to Sentry’s family.

And now both their souls are trapped in the purgatory stage of the Keywork.

The feel of the song reminds me of “No World For Tomorrow”.

Sentry is the last entity that Sirius will encounter.

Evagria explained to Sirius that he had been in the Keywork for 547 days even though to Sirius it was no more than a week. Just think of the movie “Interstellar”.

For Sirius, it was time to go home, only if he could find a way. As the All Mother told him, his chance of survival to return was 30%.

And I saw Sentry as a pseudonym for “Claudio The Defiant” as the music and lyrics came after Claudio had an argument with his manager because the Manager requested that Claudio try and write more accessible music, which Claudio already thought he was. This was his response.

“The Hard Sell”

“You’re selling out to be in!” is the main hook on this song.

In “The Afterman” book, Claudio mentions how this song comes from a personal viewpoint about his struggles with record labels and managers who want him to write more accessible lyrics.

No one starts writing songs for em to become a hit. There is a need inside a person to create.

Sirius has now returned to Heavens Fence and is being questioned about what he saw and what happened. But he doesn’t tell the whole truth, scared as to the consequences that could come if everyone knows that an “afterlife” exists.

And his wife Meri has moved on with her life. She is in a relationship with the Police Officer who saved her at the bar in “Goodnight, Fair Lady” when her drink was spiked.

“Number City”

This is a different Coheed and Cambria with a groovy, funky, fuzzed out bass riff, taking control of the song. It’s almost disco rock and I like it.

And in the story there is a car accident with Sirius and Meri in which Meri is unconscious and taken to ICU.

“Gravity’s Union”

It’s the longest song on the album and it’s the moods that hook me.

And from the 5 minute mark to the end, it’s desk breaking stuff, with all the layered guitars, the emotive drumming, locked in bass and those infectious vocal melodies from Claudio.

It goes back to before the accident. Sirius and Meri are arguing in the car when it crashes.

And the song ends with a heart monitor beeping.

“Away We Go”

It reminds me of “Feathers” from “No World For Tomorrow”. It has a synth lick to kick it off which is memorable.

This song deals with Meri and her transition into the afterlife.

“Iron Fist”

This is Sirius dealing with the loss of Meri and how he ruins a lot of things.

And you don’t think that a song called “Iron Fist” would be an acoustic ballad, feeling like it’s recorded in the heartland of the country.

The lead from Travis Steer. Its bluesy and full of soul.

“Dark Side Of Me”

As soon as the drums start and the finger picked guitar intro kicks in, I am hooked.

There are bits and pieces from “Here We Are Juggernaut” in the Chorus and the build-up of “Mother Superior”.

It deals with Sirius facing Meri new partner who was also going to be a father. But Sirius ruined it all.

“2’s My Favourite 1”

This one also reminds me of “Feathers” from “No World For Tomorrow”.

Sirius makes the decision to go back to the Keywork and find Meri, to help her transition into the afterlife.

Both albums are different and worthy to be heard.

Check em out.

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The Record Vault: Coheed And Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension

It’s a double album, released in two stages. The first part is “The Afterman” Ascension” and the second part is “The Afterman: Descension”.

It is the first Coheed and Cambria album since 2005 “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness” to feature Josh Eppard on drums, and the first to feature Zach Cooper on bass.

I purchased the deluxe version of the album.

The original advertisement

In summary, “The Afterman’s” story takes place at the start of the saga. It follows Sirius Amory, an astromner and his All Mother spaceship as they explore a powerful energy source known as the “Keywork” which is powered by the souls of the departed, imprisoned in some form of purgartorial afterlife.

The Fan VIP allowed me to enter the venue early to watch an acoustic performance before the show as long as I had purchased a concert ticket.

There is an AUTHORS NOTE in the book which states that “the world within the Keywork is the first stop of the two levels of the afterlife.

The first, where Sirius is at the moment, is actually more of a purgatory, though the souls are unaware that this is not necessarily their final resting place. Once the souls stop looking out only for themselves, shirking the “me, me, me” attitude that leads to regret, unfinished business and unrest, they can move to the collective consciousness, to the perfect Utopian afterlife.”

And as Sirius explores this energy source he starts to encounter the souls of these people and their stories are told in the “Key Entity Extraction” songs I to IV.

The Hollow

A piano riff kicks it off. You can hear the keys hit the strings.

It gives you a visual of how the souls come at Sirius.

Claudio Sanchez transposed the “The Ring In Return” melody into this. The piece is meant to express the anxiety Sirius is feeling before he heads out into the Keywork.

There is a narrative between Sirius and Mother who is the onboard AI of his spaceship, who promises to be with him all the way as he enters this mysterious energy sournce.

Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute

You can see how Domino is controlled by a puppet master.

The intro which reminds me Dream Theater’s “Learning To Live” outro and “Wasted Years” from Iron Maiden was enough to get me to lose my shit.

Domino is one of the first lost souls Sirius encounters.

It’s a personal song about the troubles that former bassist Michael Todd was involved in, after falling in with a bad crowd and the addictions he had.

But its told in the story of a boxer named Domino, who had it all to be a champion, but fell in with the wrong crowd, throwing fights and using drugs. One day he convinced his brother Chess to help him and his gangster friends with an armoured car robbery, which went horribly wrong and Chess got shot. Domino unable to go on, took a gun to his mouth and ended it.

The Afterman

In the book you get a drawing with the lyrics on the next page, plus a blurb from Claudio who talks about the origins of the song and the personal inspiration.

The digital delay riff is excellent. A beautiful and tragic song.

It takes place on Valencine, the home planet of Sirius and how his wife Mary reacts to seeing a breaking news report which states: “Controversial researcher Sirius Amory feared dead after unexplained explosion, ending privately funded endeavour to self-professed “Keywork”

Mothers Of Men

The intro riff gets me interested to pick up the guitar and learn it.

Sirius discovers that the Keywork doesn’t discriminate against positive or negative energy. It’s all energy in the end and valuable at that.

Goodnight, Fair Lady

Can there be a pop rock song about a serious subject matter like date rape?

In “Goodnight Fair Lady”, Sirius’s wife is at a bar and her drink gets spiked. She is saved by an Officer called Graves Colten. The Officer will eventually become her love interest.

Key Entity Extraction II: Holly Wood The Cracked

The second entity is a wannabe starlet, fixated on celebrity culture who would go to dangerous lengths to feel she was connected to celebrities.

All the songs on this album are from personal experiences, which have been made to fit the narrative as in this case, Claudio also had some fan stalkers during his time.

Key Entity Extraction III: Vic The Butcher

The albums most rocking song.

Vic was a tyrant Army General who did anything to get into power and did anything to stay in power. He is rage in the Keywork.

He asked a promising soldier called Sentry to kill innocents, but Sentry refused (you will get his story in the next Afterman review) and Vic ordered other soldiers to kill Sentry.

Eventually but at an older age, Vic was charged with war crimes and was due to stand trial for them, but he ended up burning the building he lived in, with both he and his wife inside and hundreds of others.

Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful

“Evagria The Faithful” is the opposite of “Vic The Butcher”.

The Yin to the Yang.

She rescues Sirius from Vic’s tight grip. She has shed her human consciousness and transcended into the Utopia. She operates on a part of the Keywork which is in perfect harmony and oneness. She keeps the other entities away from Sirius but she can only hold them off for so long.

Subtraction

This was supposed to be a Prize Fighter Inferno song (a Claudio Sanchez side project which also continues the story from a character in the earlier albums).

The song deals with the thoughts of Sirius and how with his relentless need to explore the uncharted territory, he is also driving his relationship with Mary to breaking point.

And the first part of the album ends with “The Afterman: Descension” next.

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

Phil Demmel on The Jasta Show

Here’s the link to the Jasta Show interview with Phil Demmel.

Phil Demmel, lead guitar player for VIO-LENCE, formerly of Machine Head is on The Jasta Show. For hard rock fans, Jamey Jasta is the person who wrote the majority of material for Dee Snider’s “For The Love Of Metal” album and working with Dee on a new album. Plus he has albums out as a solo artist and as part of Hatebreed.

I didn’t know of Demmel until he joined Machine Head and I then saw a past link between him and Robb Flynn, when they both did time in the band VIO-LENCE.

It’s a great easy chat between em. Just two muso’s talking and catching up.

Demmel talks about the moment he passed out on stage in Europe at the same time his Dad passed away in the U.S. And he’s spiritual, taking into his life the concepts he likes from Christianity, Buddhism and other religions.

He talks about children.

He found out he has a 33 year old daughter who messaged him via Facebook while he was on tour with Machine Head in the 2000’s and is a product of a 1987 one night high school romance. He has another child from a previous relationship as well.

He also had a vasectomy in 2009, which he then reversed when he got engaged to Bleeding Through keyboardist Marta Peterson in 2012. They have one kid via IVF and another one which “is a miracle”, according to Demmel.

Demmel laughed about never taking the easy route in life.

And both Jasta and Demmel talk about how kids give them focus. Jasta got into podcasting because his daughter wanted to get into it. And I can relate. My kids wanted to make stop motion mini movies so I learned about stop motion. I started to blog because my kids wanted to blog and I did it to show them how. They blogged a few times and stopped.

He talked about his earlier high school bands playing covers of Maiden, AC/DC and Def Leppard. He plays aggressive music and is known for his work with Machine Head but his influences are the same as all of ours, when everything was known as Metal before the labels made up different titles for every sound.

He joined Machine Head in 2002 and he was still working a tradie job, up until 2011. Once the Jackson endorsement money started coming in, he could become a full time musician.

Think about that for a second.

He played and toured the world for a 9 year period and in downtime, had to hustle on a building site for a payday. He remained in Machine Head up until 2018 and he laid down a lot of crushing riffs and a lot of iconic solos, ala Randy Rhoads song within song solo moments.

A listener asked him some of his favourite tracks he’s been involved in.

Demmel mentioned “Farewell To Arms” as he wrote the intro and outro and those sections still give him chills, the Chorus to “Locust” and some of the melodic contributions to “Darkness Within”. “Killers and Kings” was also mentioned as a song he wrote 95% of music to.

He loved being in Machine Head, it was a band he wanted to be in and stay in, but it got to the point where Robb Flynn was going in one direction musically and Phil Demmel was going in another direction musically. So he bailed.

He’s still emotional about the way it ended, the awkward tour and the goodbyes. It wasn’t a clean break, and Demmel mentioned how none of his past break ups have been clean. They’ve all been pretty professional in relation to the departures. He spent 16 years in the band and 98% of it was good, so he’s not going to let the 2% take over the 98%.

If you havent heard him play check out “Darkness Within” and “Locust”.

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

Albums That Influenced Jake E Lee

The great Martin Popoff released a book a while ago called “10 Albums That Changed My Life”.

Jake E Lee was one of the artists who gave Popoff his top 10.

The albums “Bark At The Moon” and “The Ultimate Sin” with Ozzy Osbourne introduced Jake E Lee to the masses, but its “Badlands” and “Voodoo Highway” which really showed what Jake E Lee is all about.

But that all ended by 1991.

Since Badlands, he became a recluse and did a few solo releases here and there and he sold some gear for extra cash. He eventually re-appeared with the “Red Dragon Cartel” which didn’t set my world on fire, but as a fan, it was great to have him back, recording and releasing music. And with every release he does I’m still interested to hear it.

So here are the 10 albums which changed Jake E Lee’s life?

Ozzy Osbourne – Bark At The Moon

His first album with Ozzy Osbourne, who told the world he wrote the album with one finger and a piano.

Lee said that this record changed his life. It was exciting to work with pro musicians like Bob Daisley and Tommy Aldridge and to write with Bob Daisley (but Ozzy is credited as the only songwriter on the album) and to record in a foreign country.

The song “Bark At The Moon” is almost at 72 million streams on Spotify. And who can forget that intro riff and the outro solo.

Scorpions – Virgin Killer

This is what Lee said about the album.

“I was in bands by this point. I was going through a lot of different bands.

I was in a funk band and we had a full horn section and I loved playing that stuff.

I was also in a fusion band, where we did a lot of Return To Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra. It wasn’t a popular band, but it was a fun one to play in.

I was in a rock band and for me, at that point, Ted Nugent was huge but he was not really my cup of tea. He sort of simplified everything and it was making it less interesting and I was getting a little bit tired of rock.

So I think the only band I really enjoyed back then at that moment was Scorpions. Uli Jon Roth was a beast on guitar. But like I say, I was not 100% in rock. I was in other bands that interested me more.”

When “Bark At The Moon” came out, Lee came across as very accomplished and experienced, but when you look at the hours he put in with different styles and different bands, you get an idea of the work ethic in place to expand his mind outside of just rock music.

Led Zeppelin – III

Lee saved up his allowance to buy this album and it became his favourite Led Zeppelin album. This is what he had to say on it.

“I heard “Immigrant Song” on the radio and it was such a nasty riff and a spooky song and I was like, great, this album’s going to be bitchin’.

And I took it home and that’s the only song like it on the whole record. It pissed me off.

I tried to take the record back and they wanted to know why.

And I said, “Because I don’t like it”.

“You can’t bring a record back just because you don’t like it”. And I was stuck with it for the next month, until I could buy another new album. So it was the only new music I could listen to then.

And then it grew on me.

After a month, it was and still to this day is, my favourite Led Zeppelin record. And the reason I wanted to address that is, I kind of feel like our Red Dragon Cartel record “Patina” is like that, most of the songs on there aren’t immediately accessible.”

That’s how it was when you had to buy a physical album. Like it or not, you were stuck with it, so you listen to it a little bit more and you start to like it a little bit more. But from the mid 80’s, a lot of filler started coming onto records and it didn’t matter how many times you listened to the album, you just couldn’t like all of it.

And what are people’s views of “Patina”?

I listened to it once and filed it away. It’s time to get it out and give it a re-listen.

Deep Purple – Machine Head

Lee listened to “Machine Head” a lot as he liked Ritchie’s blues influence and how he made a Strat sound so big and powerful. At this stage, Lee was a Gibson guy.

But when he made his debut to the world with Ozzy he was a Strat guy.

Montrose – Montrose

Lee talks about Ronnie Montrose and how he should have been more applauded than he was, because he was a monster guitar play, with a great tone who could write solid songs.

Aerosmith – Rocks

The first record he got from Aerosmith was “Get Your Wings”. It made him a fan, but it was “Rocks” that became his favourite because of the looseness in the guitar playing of Joe Perry.

Van Halen – Van Halen

Lee basically said, when Van Halen came along, they changed his life.

When this record first came out, he quit the other bands he was in and just stayed within the rock bands. They did a lot of Van Halen covers and he started to write songs in this style.

He goes on to say “Eddie’s playing really turned everybody’s thoughts on how to play guitar upside down”.

Long live the King. RIP. EVH.

Jimi Hendrix Experience – Band Of Gypsies

Lee mentions how “Are You Experienced” is the reason he picked a guitar up, but “Band Of Gypsies” is the album he can’t get enough of.

Lee mentioned how Hendrix was so much harder to learn than the other guys like Page and Clapton, and I agree with him. The other guitar players stuck within normal shapes and patterns when it came to leads and playing, whereas Hendrix was different. Lee called him “John Coltrane on guitar”.

Iron Butterfly – In A Gadda Da Vida

This was Lee’s first rock record he purchased. Before that, he was exposed to James Bond soundtracks. He thought it was the heaviest thing he ever heard.

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

Lee thought Iron Butterfly was the heaviest thing he ever heard and then he heard the Black Sabbath debut. Nobody sounded like that according to Lee.

I posted another post previously when Jake E Lee mentioned his Top 5 guitar solos in a July 1989 Guitar World interview. And he more or less has stayed true to what his top 10 albums are.

The list is Jimi Hendrix and “Red House” from the “Hendrix In The West” album released in 1971.

“Crossroads” from Cream’s “Wheels Of Fire” featuring Eric Clapton.

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” from Led Zeppelin “III” featuring Jimmy Page which shouldn’t be a surprise.

“Mean Town Blues” from Johnny Winter and “Stratus” from a Spectrum album featuring Tommy Bolin.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories

The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – March 22 to March 28

4 Years Ago (2017)

I always like to highlight some of the bullshit that Copyright spews up. For a law that’s meant to protect the artist, it’s a instantly abused so that Corporations benefit. And pretty soon, expect to see laws change that benefit investment funds.

I wrote about how the RIAA/MPAA are large perpetrators of fake news in the world. When billions of dollars are involved, these industries employ some of the most creative writers in the business to basically creating fictional works of fakery. Does anyone remember these ones.

  • Home Taping Is Killing Music And It’s Illegal
  • Copy a CD and get a criminal record
  • Piracy: It’s a crime
  • Piracy kills artists.

And I wrote about artists who made up by sharing their files with fans as unsigned artists and how some bands couldn’t include a song on an album because they couldn’t track down the original writer because of bad record keeping by the same organizations who claim to protect the artists.

Artists were also taking their labels to court for digital payments as Spotify was making inroads in the US market and these artists on deals pre tech were still getting paid on that old sale royalty deal.

The Spotify Release Radar was that good that I need to write about the artists and songs that appeared like “Midnight Flyer” by The Night Flight Orchestra.

My favourite Swedish supergroup of metal heads was back, playing the classic rock music I love. This time around, it’s about a galactic space opera, where the human race is pitted against female space commanders with pearl necklaces. It’s a brilliant James Bind script.

“Sinking Ship” by Harem Scarem and that funky groovy foot stomping Intro riff was on the list.

How good is Pete Lesperance on guitar?

Along with Harry Hess they have navigated 30 plus years of Harem Scarem, plus their solo work and side projects.

Other tracks that appeared are “Snakes In Paradise” by Crazy Lixx, “Never Was A Forever” by Honeymoon Suite, “Light Me Up” by Doom Unit, “Straight To The Top” by Creye, “Underneath” by Blacktop Mojo and “Big Sky Country” by KXM.

8 Years Ago (2013)

I was still on a Bon Jovi and White Lion deep dive into their catalogue. Here is a post of “We Got It Going On”. It’s the best song on the “Lost Highway” album.

I did a week 2 update on Bon Jovi’s “What About Now” album as it slipped from Number 1 to Number 7. In week one they had 101K unit sales to 29K units in week 2.

At the time, Mumford and Sons who after 26 weeks on the chart, was still moving 27,000 units of their album “Babel” and in total, “Babel” had sold 2,122,000 copies.

7 years later, the “What About Now” album still doesn’t have any certification.

Where does a band fit who where promoted as pretty hair boys in tight leathers but played a brand of hard rock that was technical and who also wrote about serious themes.

Thats the predicament White Lion found themselves in. “El Salvador” appeared on “Fight To Survive”, the anti war ballad “When The Children Cry” appeared on “Pride” and on Big Game, the band was singing about apartheid in “Cry For Freedom”, religion in “If My Mind Is Evil”, Greenpeace and the Rainbow Warrior in “Little Fighter” and violence in the family “Broken Home”.

Here is my review of the “Big Game” album.

And here was Part 2 of a Guitar World interview with Vito Bratta discussing the album.

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