I was doing the endless Twitter scroll and I came across a post from a Twitter user called @BookOfMetallicA;
April 8th, 2003: Metallica finished recording the album “St. Anger”.
“There’s two years of condensed emotion in this. We’ve gone through a lot of personal changes, struggles, epiphanies, its deep. It’s so deep lyrically and musically”. James Hetfield.
So I thought, why not. Let’s go back there again.
I saw the band on the “St. Anger” tour when it hit Australia. In a live setting, “Frantic” and “St Anger” were not out of place when matched against the other songs from the band catalogue, but Lar’s didn’t play the fast double kick sections.
I remember picking the album up and it had the DVD of them jamming the album live in their rehearsal studio. I didn’t even play the album, I went straight to the DVD. I purchased the majority of the singles released because of the B-sides. James Hetfield singing off key is jarring, a throwback to the old days of speed metal when it was more about the aggression than being in tune.
The snare sound or the general drum sound didn’t bother me, as some of the music I was listening too had weird percussion drum sounds already like Slipknot, Spineshank and Mudvayne.
“Realistically though if you really think about it – it was the fact that there was NO real songs. That was because the guy who writes the songs – couldn’t write the songs because of where he was personally.
So, what St. Anger became was what the band could do at that point and it is exactly that. It was riffs strung together…
The way I look at it was like raw power or a garage band. It was just riffs… It was garage band and that was supposed to sound like that and what I learned out of it is that people in metal just don’t want it to change. So, it’s best that Rick Rubin continue the metal thing and not Bob.
Hetfield still did a “master of puppets” like job manipulating and piecing together all of the lyrical streams of consciousness’s from the other guys into lyrics.
The title “Some Kind Of Monster” is more attached to the no holds barred documentary/film than the actual song. But the first two minutes of just instrumental music grooves its way into your brain and it would not be out of place on a “Corrosion of Conformity” album.
In “Dirty Window”, Hetfield is judge, jury and executioner while he finds ways to rhyme defecator and rejecter.
“Invisible Kid” has a lot of potential.
“My World” is “Frantic” part 2. And I feel like it’s a dig at their performance coach, with the lyric. “it’s my world and you can’t have it”. At one stage, the performance coach thought he was part of the band.
“Shoot Me Again” could have come from Alice In Chains.
How good does “Sweet Amber” start off?
That bluesy feeling.
“The Unnamed Feeling” has this “Outlaw Torn” feel with some slide guitar as Hetfield sings about something coming alive while he dies a little more. “Purify” is the only song that had nothing there to jam to.
“All Within My Hands” should have been titled “Control Everything, Kills Everything”. And it’s strange because Hetfield is singing on key but the music is downtuned chaos.
Overall, there is enough riffage on the album that makes it fun for me to pick up the guitar to jam to and for that, it still stands the test of time as Metallica always had the balls to do what they wanted to do.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
On March 28th, 1995 “Skid Row” released their third album “Subhuman Race” on Atlantic Records. 26 years ago.
This is the last Skid Row album with singer Sebastian Bach and drummer Rob Affuso, and the last one to be released on Atlantic.
No one in Australia even knew of the issues that the band was having with Sebastian Bach and his arguments with Rachel Bolan. And the album charted really well in Australia, reaching Number 5 on the charts.
Bolan many years later described the album as a nightmare to do because the band was pressured into doing the album, even though they had fallen apart internally, and the change of producers who had different ways of doing things didn’t help. Bolan wanted Michael Waegner to remain but Bob Rock was given the gig.
Sebastian Bach also said that the sounds are dated, which is no surprise that the album tracks which appeared on the greatest hits album got remixed and cleaned up.
The album didn’t have the same level of commercial success of their two previous albums.
But I still like it.
Because I first became a fan of the band because of the lyrics and Rachel Bolan is still a master at writing some kick ass lyrics.
Keep the peace when face to face with the scene Got a hunch that ain’t what you really mean Weather’s fair, does that change where you stand? My back is turned and the knife is in your hand
Doesn’t it piss you off when people put shit on you to get ahead.
I always saw this song as a sign of the times.
I read interviews from Blind Melon, Pearl Jam and Kim Thayil from Soundgarden in Guitar World where they put shit on bands from the 80s and on guitar players who could shred. It didn’t need to happen as all of those bands operated in different sonics and different headspaces.
There’s always room for all of em in my life.
Walk all over what I believe But I’m still here, you disappear
Only if it’s true. People who shit on you, are always around to shit on you a little bit more.
Only if you let them.
If the weight of the world is on your shoulders Then carry it for a day
Love that lyric.
Beat Yourself Blind
Pour me a chemical to take away the edge
Maybe I’ll pour a chemical to give me an edge.
Eileen’s calling me to sit awhile and talk to trees
The mind is a fragile thing. But it can be trained to be tough but it can also make you disconnect from reality.
Taking liberties; burned by your dictation
Taking liberties means to “behave in an unduly familiar manner towards a person” while dictation means “the action of giving orders authoritatively or categorically.”
Conformity to someone else’s way of life who sees you as subhuman never ends well. Stand your ground and fight for your views and beliefs.
Show me a sign To a light that shines One direction into another Sheltered peace of mind
This song reminds me so much of Rush, in a musical sense.
And I’m always looking for new ways to make life better, but man, sometimes it would be great if there was a sign.
Life comes and goes, quick as does the day
Blink and you will miss it.
Time’s a breathing bomb, going with the flow Stand atop it all outside the status quo
It’s easy to say “I will live outside the circle” but the status quo is a tough undertow to avoid.
Hide from all the hell and wash up with the tide Wait and you commit psychological suicide
You need to be in the chaos to survive.
Break the molds of beg and submission
A brilliant line to be who you are. Don’t let anyone file down your rough edges that make you unique.
This album (their third in three years) came out in 2016. And since this release, they have released “Beautiful Strange” in 2018 and a few single song releases in 2019.
There is also a cool single called “Spaceman” released in 2015. Check out the cover.
Paul Laine is on production duties and does co-lead vocals on the song “Wink And Smile”. There’s a cool story as to how Laine got involved with the band. Go to the YouTube account of The Radio Sun and you will see a documentary called “Paul Laine And The Radio Sun”.
Laine also appeared on stage with the band on a small run of Australian shows.
Guitarist Brett Garsed from John Farnham/Nelson also appears on “Falling For You”.
The band is made up off Jason Old on lead vocals, Stevie Janevski on guitars, Robbie Erdmanis on bass and Ben Wignall on drums.
Their style is pure melodic rock. It doesn’t stray whatsoever in the same way that AC/DC doesn’t stray from their style.
“Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”
The guitar playing from Janevski gets me interested. The vocal melodies are layered and the Chorus sounds massive. Make sure you check out the singalong lead break.
Musically the song reminds me of “Walk With A Stranger” from Skid Row, which was a song they played on the scene before they got signed and Trixter covered.
“Standing On The Edge Of Love”
It’s got that melodic rock riff that seems to appear in every melodic rock song. But. I don’t care. I like it as much as I like a 12 bar blues shuffle.
“You’ll Never Know”
The Chorus hooks me.
“Fall To Pieces”
It’s got a fast pedal point head banging riff to kick it off like a song from the “Surfing With The Alien” album by Satriani.
The outro is excellent.
“Wink And Smile”
A melodic lead kicks off the song. Paul Laine features on this.
“Falling For You”
Brett Garsed appears on this. Make sure you check out the solo section. It’s Garsed at his shredding best.
The band also covered “After The Rain” from Nelson. It’s on YouTube.
And for a melodic rock band they are not on Frontiers or from Sweden. But from Australia.
And I normally have about six to ten records on a post but in this case it had to be one album as it’s one of my favorite Evergrey albums.
So Part 1 is broken up into 1.1 and 1.2.
“In Search of Truth” is the third studio album and first concept album by Evergrey. It is the first album to feature guitarist Henrik Danhage and bassist Michael Håkansson, as well as the only one to feature keyboardist Sven Karlsson. Founder and mainstay, Tom Englund is on vocals and guitars with the very underrated Patrick Carlsson on drums.
Produced by Andy LaRocque, who had produced all the band’s previous albums up to now.
The album deals with alien abductions, based on the allegedly factual account of alien abduction victim Whitley Strieber’s book “Communion”.
The album cover was created by Swedish graphic designer Mattias Norén, who I once contacted for a possible album cover for an album I was involved in, before I decided to go with Brazilian artist, Gustavo Sazes.
An alien abduction story can be sort of blah, but Englund is the master at showcasing his personal side in the lyrics. So what we hear lyrically is how the main character struggles to understand what is happening and how scared and confused they are.
Less than 5 minutes and what an opener. One of my favourite songs from Everygrey. Make sure you check out the live version on “A Night To Remember”. They do a Maiden “Running Free” singalong after the lead section which is perfect.
And the music video clip, with people painted to blend in the walls is unsettling as their eyes open, as the main character is being watched at all times.
“I have decided to keep this tape recorder with me at all times. Just so that I maybe one day can explain all the strange things happening to me. The lack of sleep…the loss of time. But most of all, the sensation of never being lonely…always being watched…”
And then the 7/8 syncopated intro blasts off.
Then that Chorus. The constant double kick, the power chords and the vocal melody which sings;
We are all a part off, forced to live within, a conspiracy for ages, the masterplan
The next time the second chorus rolls around, there is a little melodic lead before it. It’s a “why not” moment, to break up the verse and chorus structure.
The instrumental section in the interlude, the lead break and how they come out of this interlude and back into the Chorus. A masterpiece.
Make sure you check out Henrik Danhage’s outro lead break.
“Rulers Of The Mind”
It has another memorable intro.
The stomping drumming in the verses reminds me of “Kashmir”.
There is this orchestral choir happening over one of the lead breaks, which is unsettling.
And how good is the Chorus vocal melody and we had to live through an intro, two verses and a solo before we got to it. And then there is silence and a piano line. And slowly, it rebuilds up.
Make sure to check out the lead break at the 3.50 mark. Then at 4.21 those orchestral choirs come back in. They are cinematic and desperate. And the last 50 seconds, the Chorus reappears.
At 6 minutes long it didn’t get boring and I press repeat.
“Watching The Skies”
It feels like a Malmsteen or Dream Theater cut with the keyboard solo. And the double kick drumming from Patrick Carlsson is relentless, fast when it needs to be and syncopated when it needs to be.
Check out the section from 4.05 and the excellent lead break kicks in at 4.45.
“State Of Paralysis”
It has a haunting piano riff to kick it off and Englund is in theatre mode as he plays a fearful and confused abductee.
“They’re coming, they’re coming”
Englund keeps repeating those words.
“State of Paralysis” and “The Encounter” are basically the same song split into two different tracks. This one is progressive. Like Dream Theater “Awake” style of album.
Make sure you check out the guitar solo at the 3 minute mark and there is this ten second guitar melody that plays between 3.50 and 4.00.
And those same words, “they’re coming” keep reappearing.
“Mark Of The Triangle”
This is probably Evergrey at its progressive best, with tempo changes and technical playing. But still accessible.
The start alone has the bass locking in with the kick drum while the synth plays chords and the guitars play a lead.
This morphs into the guitars syncopating, with double kick drumming and the keyboard playing a melodic lead.
And it quietens down to the verse, which is just bass, piano and drums with a vocal melody.
At 1.30 the trademark Evergrey syncopated riff kicks in. It’s their style.
The whole guitar solo section from 3.55. Listen to the piano riff that kicks it off. All the pop songs from Max Martin use it. It’s a Sweden thing.
At the 5 minute mark the synths become dominant and its cinematic.
The symphonic choir is haunting.
At 2.44 there is a different symphonic choir for a few seconds that reminds me of “Suite Sister Mary” from Queensryche. Which isn’t surprising as Queensryche is listed as an influence.
And the last three minutes of the song is epic, reminding me of songs like “The Aftermath” and “The Storm Within” from their recent albums.
How good is the piano intro?
And then Englund sings, with all his emotion.
The piano takes centre stage again at the 50 second mark with another iconic riff.
Then it goes back to the piano intro and an acoustic guitar with more vocals.
At 3.26, it’s the tape narrative again about, “oh god, it’s happening again”. The piano is haunting and at the 4 minute the guitar solo begins with big bends.
The album closer. It starts off with a piano riff and then the band cranks in.
Listen to the ahh choir before the Chorus and then there is a blast beat section of furious double kick before the Chorus kicks in.
Each verse has a different riff but within the same chord structure. Its creative and a progressive way of thinking.
At 2.59, it’s the style of Evergrey that they have carried to this day, syncopated staccato guitar riffs with a keyboard melody over the top.
The whole guitar solo section and coming out of it needs to be heard.
And then its silence, with a taped piano riff playing and Englund singing, “I’m crawling back to sleep” before the whole band kicks in.
I have to mention again that Tom Englund is a very underrated vocalist. Each song bears his emotion and soul. You hear anger, sadness, hope, fear and happiness. His voice is strong, ballsy, unique to him and it avoids sounding like a Geoff Tate or Ray Adler or Bruce Dickinson or David Coverdale copycat which a lot of artists started doing to get a break in the market. And throughout this album, his voice moves between strong and bold to panic, crying and whimpering in “Different Worlds” as he narrates, “Oh, god, it’s happening again / I don’t wanna be here / I wanna go home”.
This was also Evergrey’s first release on German label, “Inside Out”, a move up to a bigger label from their previous independent label. For the label, Inside Out, 2001 was a big year as they released “Burn the Sun” from Ark, “Terria” from Devin Townsend and “In Search Of Truth” from Evergrey, all seen as defining albums in the progressive metal genre.
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.
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.
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.
A piano riff kicks it off. You can hear the keys hit the strings.
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
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 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.
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.
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”.
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.
I only got into these guys last year. The cover got me interested.
There is a normal looking human hand reaching out from dark grey water and another human hand trying to pull up the person, who is submerged. Then there are two other hands, withered and decaying and white, trying to keep the submerged person in the water and trying to bring the unsubmerged person also into the water. And this takes place in front of a red moon.
I pressed play on the EP called “You’re Not Alone” (released in September 2020) and became a fan. I mentioned it in my September 2020 post. Prior to this, they had another EP release called “Hidden Desire” in 2018, which I pressed play on today, but it’s nowhere near as accomplished as this EP.
So I did some reading.
They are from Melbourne, Australia. A lot of the websites have them listed as an emo act or a pop punk act or an alternative Brit Pop act but this album is basically anthemic rock.
The layered guitars of the intro is enough to get me interested. It reminds me of bands like Anberlin.
I don’t want to disappoint you I don’t want to ask the question where I already know the answer
None of us want to be hated. Acceptance is important. It’s instilled in us from birth. If we are not part of a group, then something must be wrong with us. But that’s not the case.
Another catchy guitar layered intro hooks me in which also serves as the chorus music.
It feels like a Brit Pop 90’s song, mixed with The Cure and a little bit My Chemical Romance and Blink 182.
My favourite song.
The fuzzed out intro reminds me of Bowie and The Wallflowers. The song deals with being lonely at night and giving life to those dark thoughts. And it’s another song, created on a bed of layered guitars.
Bad Juju’s vocalist Russell Holland mentioned that the song was influenced by a text message which said, “Do you get lonely? Because I get lonely too”.
What do you do when a friend is using drugs to deal with isolation.
The “wo oh” slow interlude section needs to be heard.
It feels like a track from “Mellon Collie” from The Smashing Pumpkins. There is also some Blur, maybe some Cure and New Order and maybe a bit of a grungy alternative rock sound if anything.
“The truth is I’m not fine and it’s not okay / tell me what you want to be hearing I will say it like I fucking mean it” is the hook in the Chorus.
It’s basically a FU to “Are You Okay?” day.
Because the truth is, we always have doubts and fears.
It’s a pop song about giving up on a toxic relationship.
“I’ve been feeling really really shitty, since you came and moved to this city”
And eventually, he’s leaving town on the interstate, with the window down and a feeling of freedom as to what is next.
After two EP’s, I am interested to hear what is next.
Coheed and Cambria had released four albums that covered the story of Coheed and Cambria and their son Claudio against the villain Wilhelm Ryan. On “Year Of The Black Rainbow” you get to hear and read how Wilhelm Ryan became the villain.
This is from the book blurb that came with the deluxe edition, which I tried to get but it sold out so quick.
Welcome to the worlds of Heaven’s Fence, where a lattice of mysterious energy known as “the Keywork” binds and sustains life on a triangular network of planets–from the bleak and hellish Howling Earth to the spare beauty of Bendelesh.
Beneath the Keywork’s glow, under the governance of the twelve grey-skinned Mages and the watchful gaze of the winged Prise, humanity goes about it’s daily life unaffected by the goings-on of the higher powers at work in the universe.
Until the day when the ambitious Wilhelm Ryan, newest member to the brotherhood of Mages, acts on his growing discontent at being branded another ordinary Mage, ruling over one lowly Sector.
Shrewd and silver-tongued, Ryan launches the Mage Wars: a devastating campaign to win control of the entire Fence and take on the legendary mantle of Supreme Tri-Mage, a position likened to God himself.
Dr Leonard Hohenberger, the Fence’s top scientist is summoned by the Prise to stop Ryan. His creations, Coheed and Cambria, are thus born and lead the battle to save Heaven’s Fence.
Released in 2010.
This is the first and only album to feature Chris Pennie on drums and the last to feature Michael Todd on bass, after he was arrested on charges of armed robbery. Claudio Sanchez as usual is on lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards and synthesisers, while Travis Stever does lead guitar and lap steel guitars.
Other songs to come out of this period is a cover of the ZZ Top song, “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers”, for the tribute album “A Tribute from Friends” and a new song “Deranged”, which was released on the soundtrack for the video game “Batman: Arkham City” on October 18, 2011.
It’s a one minute, soft piano piece, with ambient and creepy noises as you hear the creaking noise of the piano keys when they are pressed down.
The verses are technical and the Chorus rocks. The breakdown in the middle is as powerful as the band had gotten and the blah blah vocal chant after the Chorus is unsettling but it works.
“Guns of Summer”
This song divided the fans. Drummer Chris Pennie really shines on this. The whole Intro is like a drum solo with vocal melodies and electronica.
It showcases how technical the band can be. The verses are progressive (I saw a comment once that called the verses mind-bending) and the chorus soars.
“Here We Are Juggernaut”
Dark and heavy and progressive metal like.
Listen to the fuzzed out bass in the verses and the addictive vocal melody in the Chorus.
Also the “bodies breaking” vocal melody in the verses always gets me to pay attention.
A dreamy electronica influenced ballad. It reminds me of My Chemical Romance and Smashing Pumpkins.
Check out the repeating guitar lick in the Chorus. Simple and effective.
And also check out the fuzzed out lead break from Travis Steer. Neil Young would be proud.
“This Shattered Symphony”
Typical Coheed song which moves between pop rock like riffs and melodies and then switches to those art rock and Metal kind of riffs with frantic vocal melodies.
“World of Lines”
If you like rock music you should be able to get into this song. I was hooked from the intro. And the chorus is one of their best.
“Made Out of Nothing (All That I Am)”
Would not be out of place on “No Word For Tomorrow”. It’s a beautiful mix of pop and hard rock.
“Pearl of the Stars”
Chris Pennie brings some unusual percussion to this song and the guitar work is haunting, yet beautiful. Claudio moves between low pitched vocals to his normal pitch at the right times.
“In the Flame of Error”
Drummer Chris Pennie shines on this track as well. It’s heavy and dark. Check out the riff in the verse.
“When Skeletons Live”
This song is, plain and simple, awesome. From the keyboard led intro, to the brilliant chorus, this is one of my favourite Coheed songs of all time.
“The Black Rainbow”
A cacophony of noise rock, progressive rock and alternative metal. Make sure you check out the outro when Claudio is singing “It’s over” and there’s a fuzzed out decaying lead by Travis Steer with emotive drumming.
For the hardcore fans, the Deluxe edition bonus tracks are “Chamberlain”, “The Lost Shepherd” and the iTunes edition bonus track is “Hush”.
You’ll need to go to YouTube to check them out. The Chorus of “The Lost Shepherd” is worth your time to invest.
The DVD is pretty cool as it shows how the new tools and effects brought in my the producers allowed the guys to be more creative and to express themselves.