Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Book Of Souls

“The Book Of Souls” is 5 years old.

This album is special for me because it’s on “The Book Of Souls” tour that I took my whole family to watch the mighty Maiden.

My youngest was only 4. He kept singing “The Trooper” on the way ya up, the Chorus wooh part and he didn’t even stay awake long enough to hear it live.

Yep, he crashed out at a Maiden concert. My wife held him the whole time.

My other two kids were 10 and 9, and this album is there first Maiden album experience.

Nowadays they have their own playlists which incorporates all the Maiden albums. I think I did okay in fostering their love for metal music and Iron Maiden.

Once the album was done, Bruce was diagnosed with cancer and the album was delayed while Bruce got treated.

It wasn’t even mastered as the band wanted the raw mix.

And what an album to get stuck into.

Adrian was writing shorter songs like “Speed Of Light” and “Death Or Glory”.

“If Eternity Should Fail” is a great Maiden song once the dramatic 2 minutes is done with.

“The Red And The Black” has the chants like it’s a football match, a perfect tribute for the Maiden fan base by Steve Harris.

And management wanted a single album but Bruce had other ideas for the album with a piano he won at an auction and his two finger technique proving the catalyst for the longest Maiden song “Empire In The Clouds”.

Then the massive tour happened with the Aztec Culture and the classics.

And maybe it would have been the last album for the band, but CoVid has given em all time off.

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August 2020 – Part 1

I guess John Kalodner was really onto something when he got David Coverdale to reimagine some of the older Whitesnake songs for future Whitesnake releases.

In case you are not aware, “Here I Go Again”, “Crying In The Rain” and “Fool For Your Loving” all appeared on early Whitesnake albums before getting a reimagined feel and sound in 1987 and 1989.

So fast forward 33 years later from those innovative 80s days and reimagined tracks are a real phenomenon.

Because even though artists took offence to what Daniel Ek said about being more prolific in releasing product, deep down they know it’s true, especially if they want to stay relevant in the modern world. Because news travels fast and dies fast.

Last week’s release is forgotten and replaced by this week’s release. This is true for the casual fans, who make up the majority, while super fans will spend weeks on the same release, like how I’m overdosing on Vanishing Point’s new album “Dead Elysium” right now.

Break In (Reimagined)– Halestorm (feat. Amy Lee)

Halestorm released an EP called ‘Reimagined’ EP on August 14, 2020. And they get it. They always break up the album cycle with a covers EP in between. This time around, they did one cover song and a few reimagined tracks.

“Break In” appeared on ‘The Strange Case Of…’ album released in 2012. And the way it’s done, its haunting. It’s a perfect duet between Lzzy Hale and Amy Lee.

We Stich These Wounds (Reimagined) – Black Veil Brides

They wanted to do this reimagined album a while back, but their contract with Universal didn’t allow them, nor was the label interested in re-recordings. But that contract is now done and dusted and the band is on Sumerian Records.

I like the music on the “We Stich These Wounds” album. They are basic metal riffs in the way that I know metal and the lead breaks are 80’s like shred which basically combines EVH, Randy Rhoads and Yngwie Malmsteen. Overall the sound is updated and better than the lo-fi style of mix on the original.

This album is like a companion to the original, the way the re-release of “Under The Blade” on Atlantic is a companion piece to the original pressing of the album on “Secret Records”.

Make Love Great Again – Stryper

There has to be a distortion pedal called Stryper because their high treble distortion is unique enough to warrant a distortion pedal.

Musically this song is excellent and heavy. There’s no mellowing out for Michael Sweet as he gets older.

There’s a culture
That’s building walls
Just like vultures
Consuming all

We are back to having civil unrest based on skin and race. All of the laws about discrimination in the last 50 years, are not worth the paper they are printed on, especially when people need to take to the streets to show that their lives matter.

But hope is alive, it never died
Make love great again
Fight for it till the end

It’s how we survive. Work hard and make our luck and we hope to live a better life. But not everyone sees it the same. Lie, steal and manipulate is their way to a better life. And if they get away with it, then others believe they need to do the same thing as well. Until it all comes crashing down, the way it did for all those predators in the meToo movement.

Space Truckin’ – Ace Frehley

I’ve always loved the groove on this song. Especially that 12 bar blues chromatic riff in the Chorus.

While his original creativity takes time, it’s okay to rock out to songs that you like.

And Ace really brings the energy on this.

Again – Black Stone Cherry

Have I told ya that I’m a fan.

Black Stone Cherry and their brand of heavy melodic groove rock influenced by blues grooves from the 70’s is perfect for my ears.

How good does this start off, with the bass drum acting like a click and a guitar riff.

You’re lost and so confused from a choice you couldn’t choose
I know just how it feels cause I felt that somewhere too

Don’t deny yourself the life you want to live because you are worried about not being good enough or how you will be judged by others or because it’s risky. Because that benefits no one, especially you. So don’t let the odds stop you from doing what you know in your heart and mind you are meant to do. Because there are so many of us in that space.

Burning Blade – Andy James

One of the best instrumental guitar players doing the rounds at the moment in the field of heavy rock and melodic metal.

In Trance – Night Demon with Uli Jon Roth

Night Demon might not have the most eye catching name, but the brand of metal they play is rooted in the metal I like, which is the NWOBHM and 80’s LA Sunset Strip Metal and 80’s German/Scandinavian Metal. Plus they get Uli Jon Roth to appear live with them.

Down In A Hole – Khemmis

Man, this cover version of one of my favourite AIC songs, is epic doom metal. It makes Bathory’s “Twilight Of The Gods” sound light compared to the down tuned lead in this song. And I don’t know anything about this band, except they keep appearing on playlists.

For The Love Of Metal (Live) – Dee Snider

Dee is the true “Leader of the Pack”. He still brings the goods live while his contemporaries have resorted to backing tracks and retirement. He voices his opinions and whether you agree or disagree, you need to respect.

And this live accompaniment to the excellent album is worth it, as Dee brings out classics from his TS days, plus his solo career releases.

How good is the opening song, “Lies Are A Business” and I forgot how heavy “The Beast” from TS is?

The band is in fine form, but the star is Dee and his banter between the songs. He’s like a comedian. And the best celebration is hearing so many different songs from so many different projects all in the one set list. There are Twisted Sister songs, Widowmaker songs and of course, Dee Snider solo songs, especially from the last two releases, plus you get an original studio song “Prove Me Wrong”.

It’s perfect.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

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The Fall

Six years between albums.

“Distant Is The Sun” came out in 2014 and now we have “Dead Elysium”.

Before “Distant Is The Sun”, “The Fourth Season” came out in 2007, a seven year wait.

The thing with Vanishing Point is that they write the music that makes them happy. With Silvio Massaro behind the mic and Chris Porcianko on guitars, they act as the mainstays and the main writers within the band which came to my attention in 1997 with their debut album “In Thought”.

And while Massaro was on vocals for the debut the guitarist wasn’t Porcianko. The guitarist’s on the debut were handled by Andrew Whitehead and founder Tom Vucur. Porcianko joined the band after the debut album was done and never left.

Vucur left during the writing of “Distant To The Sun”, which meant they had to restart again as they couldn’t use his riffs.

And here we are in 2020, so far removed from normality. Our grandkids will be asking us, what was it like in the pandemic.

While the title track could have come from an Evergrey album, it’s tracks like “The Fall”, “Salvus” and “Count Your Days” which provide the variation.

I should of seen the signs

Foresight is a wonderful thing but in real time we aren’t the best at seeing the subtle signs.

“I can make believe or I can take the fall”

How I would love to escape sometimes instead of facing reality.

Throughout my life I’ve been knocked on my arse so many times by people and by society in general, that once I’ve fallen the only way up, is to stand again.

Slowly.

Sometimes with broken bones.

“I won’t give up, give in”

It’s repeated in the outro, like a mantra, a new awakening and a new awareness.

Don’t give up and don’t give in. I swear by these words.

And the guitar work from Porcianko is brilliant. A true guitar hero.

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The Record Vault – Crimson Glory

From Sarasota, Florida, Crimson Glory started off in 1979. One of their earlier band names was “Beowulf”, one of my favourite stories.

The line-up which is known to me as the classic line up had vocalist Midnight, guitarist Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, bassist Jeff Lords and drummer Dana Burnell.

Their style of metal was pioneering and along with bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning and Watchtower, (with Dream Theater added in a few years later), they are seen as pioneers of the U.S prog metal movement.

And because their original style still had traditional NWOBHM influences, they were able to tour with such diverse acts like Celtic Frost, Anthrax, Metallica, Ozzy, Queensryche and Doro.

The masquerade mask angle was strange to begin with, but I understood their message, that the music should lead the way, not how they looked but by the third album the masks ceased to be and hard rock abs were on display.

Now if you like hard rock/blues rock, then check out their third album “Strange And Beautiful” first and go backwards, otherwise, if your preference is metal, then start with the debut and go forward.

Crimson Glory

The self-titled debut came out in 1986 but I didn’t hear it until 89, along with the second album.

And the Dio-era Black Sabbath style was immediate to me, but there was some Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Scorpions and a little but if UFO. And the vocals, so distinct and unique, very Geoff Tate like, but still original. The references to those bands is important because in 1989, I was looking forward to hearing metal albums from those bands.

But.

Scorpion’s didn’t really amuse me with “Savage Amusement” in 87, UFO still powdered their noses and had no recording contract, Queensryche went hard rock (which was a good thing) but I also liked their metal style, Iron Maiden lost an important band member and went even more streamlined with “No Prayer For The Dying” and Black Sabbath was still trying to replenish their worth and value after the “Born Again” debacle while Dio was starting to lose his star power from 5 years before.

So I went looking elsewhere for my metal fix and Crimson Glory filled the void.

And I like to play the guitar, so any album that makes me pick up the guitar to learn the songs gets my attention, and this is what the Crimson Glory albums do. Overall the riffage is excellent.

“Valhalla” sizzles as it kicks off the album, with chugging chords and harmonizing leads with a pretty wicked solo.

“Dragon Lady” starts off with a Midnight wail, harmony guitars and then a Deep Purple “Stormbringer” like riff in the verses. Make sure you check out the Chorus, which has a combination of harmony guitars and an AOR rock chorus. But it’s the harmony lead lick that comes after the Chorus that really gets me hooked.

“Heart Of Steel” starts off with acoustic guitars and harmony leads. It reminds me of 70’s Scorpions with Uli Jon Roth on guitars, with a nod to the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. And it’s probably their most catchiest and at 5 minutes long it doesn’t get boring. Especially the guitar playing and those harmony leads. The last 15 seconds is that good, the only thing you can do is press repeat.

“Azrael” is the song to listen to from the debut. The intro is a mix of acoustic guitars, symphonic voices, violins and Midnight’s unique voice which sounds like Geoff Tate from “The Warning” album. This then leads in to one of the best metal tracks I have heard with harmony guitars and galloping riffs.

“Mayday” is the fastest song on the album, relentless like “Screaming For Vengeance” and that ball tearing falsetto from Midnight rattled my windows.

“Queen of the Masquerade” is more hard rock than heavy metal with the “I Love Rock N Roll” chords in the verses and some serious shred.

“Angels of War” is very reminiscent of Iron Maiden while closer “Lost Reflection” is a haunting acoustic piece, built on two chords and Midnight’s gloomy and mournful vocals. From 3.10, distorted guitars crash in with reverb drums and after 30 seconds it fades out to how it started.

Transcendence

They really hit a peak with this album, released in 1988. It was talked about in the same breath as “Operation: Mindcrime”, “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” and “Keeper Of The Seven Keys pt. II”.

That intro riff in “Lady Of Winter” is metal fists in the air worthy and Midnight is more focused on his vocal delivery than the vocal gymnastics this time.

“Red Sharks” sounds like it came from a Mercyful Fate album with its all guns blazing riffage and double kick drumming. But its Midnight’s vocals which take it out of the Earth, as his voice moves between operatic, falsetto, tenor and baritone. Make sure you check out the guitar solos.

“Painted Skies” is my favourite, with the acoustic intro and a haunting Midnight vocal melody before it explodes for the Chorus. It’s probably the best Queensryche song that Queensryche didn’t write.

“Spread your wings you can fly, but the dark is never free, in painted skies that chain the colours of your dream”

It’s all in metaphors.

The harmony leads which mimic the chorus vocal line need to be heard. And the solos after that as well. Brilliant songs within a song construction.

“Masque Of The Red Death” has one of the best intro riffs and “In Dark Places” has this riff groove which rumbles along like Kashmir from Led Zeppelin.

The first 70 seconds of “Where Dragon’s Rule”. Listen to it.

“Lonely” starts off similar to “Painted Skies” and when the harmony guitars kick in, it’s massive. And the harmony lead break at the end is similar to “Heart Of Steel” from the debut album.

The closer “Transcendence” is fitting to close the album with acoustic guitars, a chilling choir, a Midnight vocal line that sounds like it came from the Misty Mountains that Robert Plant used to frequent.

A sign of things to come.

Strange And Beautiful

Released in 1991.

So much change happened in the 90’s and the world was never going to be the same again. While the first two albums put Crimson Glory on the metal map, the third one on Atlantic, would alienate their fan base and the band.

They went from a five piece to a four piece with one guitarist departing and not being replaced. They changed drummers. They changed labels from Roadrunner to Atlantic. New musical trends started emerging and artists tried to incorporate some of those sounds into their own sound. They got in outside writers. And Crimson Glory took of their masks, showed their abs and went back to their 70’s roots for this album, which seemed to be the trend that all bands were doing.

If you want to hear how Led Zeppelin would have sounded in the 90’s then this is the album for you.

Musically, this album has no resemblance to the sound of the previous two albums. This is a blues rock album with some progressive elements and hard rock overtones. Even Midnight sounds like he was the vocalist in Guns N Roses, The Cult, Cinderella or Led Zeppelin, depending on the song.

And I like it.

“Strange And Beautiful” and “Starchamber” are two tracks that immediately scream Led Zeppelin. The influence is clear, but these songs are not copycats. They stand on their own. Especially that intro riff to “Strange And Beautiful”. Listen to it.

“In The Mood” has Midnight delivering a vocal line reminiscent of Ian Astbury and Axl Rose. “The Chant” could have come from a Cinderella album, which is not surprising as it was written by outside writers.

“Promised Land” starts off with various chants and world instruments before it moves into a riff which Jake E Lee would be proud off. Hell this track would have been a perfect Badlands track.

“Love and Dreams” sounds like it came from a Bad Company album, especially the first two albums.

“Deep Inside Your Heart” starts off acoustically like “Painted Skies” and “Azrael”, a nod to their first two albums. But it’s a power ballad of the highest quality. The Chorus is massive and catchy, while the guitar work from Drenning is guitar hero worthy.

“Dance On Fire” feels like a Blue Murder song and “Far Away” could have come from a CCR album in the 60’s.

And everyone that I know judged this album on being the successor to “Transcendence” and saw it as a miserable failure, but to me it was a perfect progression of a band needing a progression.

In the years after, guitarist Jon Drenning said that “Strange and Beautiful” was more or less a Midnight solo album, and when the album got panned, Midnight didn’t stay in the band long enough to tour on the album. But if that is the case, why does Drenning have so many songwriting credits on the album?

In other words he was all in with this change.

And while it might have been a Midnight solo album, it’s his vocals which unifies this album with the first two albums. And Drenning on the guitar showcases his abilities even more moving between metal, rock, blues and folk and pulling out techniques like slide guitar, fast alternate picking, legato techniques and what not. A true guitar hero.

Sink your teeth into “Strange And Beautiful”, “Promised Land”, “The Chant” and “Deep Inside Your Heart” first.

And Midnight left the band, paving the way for others to fill his spot like Todd Le Torre who we all know as the current Queensryche vocalist.

In the 2000’s Midnight passed away from a stomach aneurysm and the world lost a great talent.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

1985 – Part 5

Megadeth – Killing Is My Business

My relationship with Megadeth started with the “Rust In Peace” album in 1990. That was a wow moment for me, in relation to song construction, guitar playing and pushing the boundaries of thrash metal even further and more progressive.

So I started collecting more Megadeth albums. “So Far So Good So What” and then “Countdown To Extinction” was released. Then I went back to “Peace Sells” and then “Youthanasia” came out.

Then I went back to the debut, and it was the mid 90’s. And I thought it was average. I couldn’t hear a song that I liked but each song had sections/riffs which got me interested. And it infuriated me.

I suppose that’s what you get, when you spend half of your $8K recording budget on drugs and alcohol and then had to fire the producer because you couldn’t afford him, which meant you had to produce the album.

“Loved To Deth” has this open string pull off riff that I like. “Killing Is My Business” is the NWOBHM movement on steroids and speed and other hallucinogens. The first 90 seconds of “The Skull Beneath The Skin” is groove metal mixed with speed. “Rattlehead” is so fast, it’s a speed metal anthem. 

Whatever Metallica was, Megadeth was going to be faster and more aggressive.

“Chosen Ones” has this “Jump In The Fire” style riff and it’s probably their slowest song. “Mechanix” is 4 minutes of relentless anger. And I’m sure everyone knows that this song became “The Four Horseman” when Mustaine was in Metallica. When he played it live with Megadeth at a Sydney concert he merged the two songs and it was a perfect homage to both.

And Mustaine didn’t want to sing, but after spending six months searching for a vocalist, he took on the reins. It was like Deja-vu as James Hetfield also didn’t want to sing, but did it due to a lack of suitable vocalists.  

Savatage – Power Of The Night

There is a Savatage before “Gutter Ballet” and a Savatage post the death of Criss Oliva for me.

This album is pre “Gutter Ballet” and it’s a band trying to find their sound and style. Max Norman is producing. 5 years before, he was doing Ozzy with Randy and 5 years later he would do Megadeth and Lynch Mob albums.

I like the intro riff to “Power Of The Night”. “Hard As Love” has a title which is a product of its time, but while this kind of title would have worked for Danger Danger or Bulletboys, it felt wrong with Savatage. But musically, its brilliant, catchy.

“Fountain Of Youth” is the embryo of what Savatage would become. The musical structure and different grooves would become more prominent on the albums that came after.

But the album is hit and miss in the lyrics department.

Kick Axe – Welcome To The Club

I picked up their first two albums in the 90’s because I saw that Spencer Proffer was involved.

They are a very underrated band from Canada and I like “Welcome To The Club” more than the debut album “Vices”.

“Welcome To The Club” is a different kind of track, rooted in hard rock, but those clean tone arpeggios give the song a very UK Pop sound. Then you have a song like “Feels Good Don’t Stop” which swings, grooves and rocks its way all the way while “Comin’ After You” feels like a Marillion song while “Make Your Move” is a hard rock song through and through.

How good is the intro to “Never Let Go”? And overall, I feel like I am listening to a Y&T cut merged with Triumph.

“Hellraisers” has some serious good riffage in the intro and verses.

“Can’t Take It With You” has those big “I Love It Loud” drums but the riffage and vocal melodies would have given birth to the recent Swedish Melodic Rock movement. It sounds like H.E.A.T built a career on songs like these.

“Too Loud… Too Old” sounds like an unchained and frantic VH song and it also reminds me of a blog I visit regularly called 2Loud2OldMusic.

The way the staccato bass rolls in “Feel The Power” gets the foot tapping. Check out those harmony leads as well.

And the album closes with a cover song, “With A Little Help From My Friends” but even though Lennon and McCartney wrote it, the definitive version is from Joe Cocker.

Keel – The Right To Rock

Gene Simmons is producing under his label Gold Mountain Records while Steve Riley plays drums on the album but left to join WASP.

The band had three songs written before they got sent to the studio (“The Right To Rock”, “Back To The City” and “Electric Love”), so they covered three Gene Simmons demos (“Easier Said Than Done”, “So Many Girls, So Little Time” and “Get Down”) and re-recorded three songs from the debut album (“Speed Demon”, “Tonight You’re Mine” became “You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)” and the Rolling Stones cover “Let’s Spend The Night Together”).

I still like the intro to “The Right To Rock”, it’s perfect for the time.

“All of my life I’ve been fighting for the right to make my stand” and we are still fighting to make our stand. It will never stop.

“I’m gonna do it my way or not do it all” sounded so easy back then, but as you grow up, you start to realise that it’s not that easy to do things your way and still participate in society. In order to live, you need money and to get money you need to work. If doing things your way, generates money, great, if it doesn’t, then you need to work for someone else and suddenly you are not doing it your way.

“Back To The City” is interchangeable with their other songs and I really like the Rolling Stones cover “Let’s Spend The Night Together”.

The verse riff of the Gene Simmons penned “So Many Girls, So Little Time” is pure heavy metal. “Electric Love” is melodic rock, with Ron Keel delivering a vocal line at 11. “Speed Demon” is pure NWOBHM with Ron Keel again delivering a vocal line at 11. There’s just 11 in his delivery and that’s it. 

“Get Down” is another Simmons cut which feels like a re-write of “I Love It Loud” but lyrically, its dumb. “You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)” is another cut inspired by the NWOBHM, with fast “Overkill” double kick drumming in the intro.

Even though the album is a mixture of new songs, re-recordings and Gene Simmons penned songs, Keel earned “The Right To Rock” after it.

Also if you’ve seen a Y&T cover on A&M Records, a Foreigner cover or some different posters around the Mad Max and Star Wars movies, then there is a pretty good chance you’ve seen the artwork of John Taylor Dismukes.

Autograph – That’s The Stuff 

Autograph were either loathed or liked. There was no in between.

I liked the first album “Sign In Please” and loathed the second album “That’s The Stuff” which really wasn’t the stuff.

And the second track “Take No Prisoners” is a rewrite of “Turn Up The Radio”. This is an album that is lacking in ideas and very hard to listen to.

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The Record Vault – Cerebus


It was a random purchase at a record fair in the 90’s. The bin had a large sign that said 7 records for $10.

How could I refuse that offer?

The dystopian landscape cover painting got my attention, as its reminded me of various movies.

I dropped the needle and I was pleasantly surprised.

I was hearing early Judas Priest, Saxon, Motorhead, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy and Riot.

The raw production and the treble biased mix had me thinking of those Metallica albums. Which means that the bass player is hardly heard, which is a shame as Eric Burgess is the main songwriter in the band.

Cerebus is an American act. There is also a deathcore band with the same name that came out in the 2000’s who have nothing to do with this 80’s version.

They released a Demo in 1985, a full length album “Too Late To Pray” in 1986 on a label called New Renaissance Records, an EP in 1987 called “Like a Banshee On The Loose” on a local North Carolina label, another demo in 1988, another EP in 1991 called “Regression Progression” on a local label and a best of album in 2019 called “From Beyond The Vault Door” on a label called “Heaven And Hell”.

And their label “New Renaissance Records” was created by Ann Boleyn after her band Hellion had a record in the British Music Charts, but was unable to find an American deal. So Boleyn sold her car and musical instruments to fund the initial pressings of compilation albums and eventually full releases by bands. King Kobra (the band founded by Carmine Appice and Mark Free) was an act that was on the label as well.

So the label signed the band to an 2 album deal, but the label offered no tour support. Cerebus played an extensive US tour on their own budget but going to Europe proved impossible as they didn’t have the means, which is a shame, as the majority of their sales were in Germany and Western Europe. After the U.S run of shows, the band and label parted ways.

The band kept writing and releasing, but in a market dominated by gatekeepers, they needed a label and a distributor. Which didn’t come as easy as they thought.

And as the EP releases kept coming, the band kept tweaking their sound, moving from their Iron Maiden/Saxon style to a more Deep Purple, Whitesnake and UFO sound.

Running Out Of Time

Its speed metal and those harmony leads from Andy Huffine and Chris Pennell (RIP) in the solo section sound like they came from a Saxon album.

The vocal lines from Scott Board are like the chainsaw vocals of James Hetfield from the first two Metallica albums, with the Rob Halford banshee wail.

And the double bass drumming from Joby Barker just keeps pummelling along.

Taking Your Chances

A different style of cut, in the hard rock vein with a melodic rock style chorus.

Distant Eyes

Acoustic arpeggios kick it off with a guitar solo before it explodes into a UFO style cut merging “Lights Out” and “Too Hot To Handle”.

Too Late To Pray

It also starts off with acoustic guitar arpeggios, before it moves into a military style drum beat. Then the harmony guitars kick in, but it’s all part of a long intro, before the main song kicks in with a head banging riff.

And the vocal line is ball tearing.

Rock The House Down

It has the “One Riff To Rule Em All”, which a lot of people would know as “Two Minutes To Midnight” but it goes back all the way to the 70’s.

Catch Me If You Can

Sounds like “Running Out Of Time”.

Talk Is Cheap

It sounds like “Running Out Of Time”, but with no singing, and bass solos which you can actually hear.

Longing For Home

It has these “I Still Love You” arpeggios in the intro which I like.

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The Record Vault – Cacophony

“Go Off” is the second album from the Marty Friedman and Jason Becker project known as Cacophony, released in 1989.

The first one, “Speed Metal Symphony” was released in 1987.

It’s basically like Racer X but a bit more on the technical side of thrash, like Watchtower. And like Racer X, the guitarists in the band would go on to explore other outlets. Marty Friedman with Megadeth and Jason Becker with David Lee Roth, which was cut short by a terminal disease which took away all movement.

“X-Ray Eyes” feels like it came from a Testament album. The lead section has Becker and Friedman trading sections for over a minute and raw thrash like vocals.

“E.S.P” starts off with a finger picked intro and lead that resembles Baroque. You feel like you are in a castle watching the jester perform, before it rips into a thrash metal riff which reminds of Annihilator. Listen to the outro (the last minute), and the riffs and the harmony leads.

“Stranger” attempts to be groovy with Van Halen like riffs while “Go Off” is an instrumental, with a lot of fast guitar solos. Not my favourite cuts.

“Black Cat” has this Oriental feel in the first minute, before it moves to a Thin Lizzy style harmony merged with Gary Moore’s “Over The Hills And Far Away”. At 7 minutes long, it’s the first two minutes I like.

“Sword Of The Warrior” is another thrash-a-thon, with symphonic harmony sweeps. But when the steroid infused “Peace Sells” inspired bass riff kicks in, the song gets even faster. This track could have come from “Kill Em All” or the “Peace Sells” album.

“Floating World” is a lot slower, more rock like with Thin Lizzy harmonies. And when it’s at that level I am a fan.

“Images” is a slower tempo song, which sounds like it came from the soundtrack of an Italian Spaghetti Western. This one is an instrumental and at 3 minutes long, it’s perfect.

So if you like guitar playing with flawless technique and songs with a lot of riffs and leads and raw vocals then you should give it a listen. Or if you want to hear a great instrumental track, then just go straight to “Images”. You will not be disappointed.

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2000 – Part 5

AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip

Five years after “Ballbreaker” they return with the very underrated “Stiff Upper Lip”.

The title track starts off like blues band jamming at the local pub and then the romp and stomp kick in.

How good is “House Of Jazz”?

That riff groove is so sleazy and foot stomping.

And “Safe In New York City” has this E to G, E to A and E to B flat style chord progression that reminds me of the “Tommy Gunn” riff, but the song vibe is like “Let There Be Rock”.

“Satellite Blues” is an underrated gem in the AC/DC canon.

And its towards the back of the album that it gets bluesy and dirty with “Damned” and “Come And Get It” being excellent additions. Listen to those sharp 7 and flat 9 chords in the Pre Chorus.

“All Screwed Up” is 5 minutes of blues rock while “Give It Up” is a rewrite of “Highway To Hell” but it stands on its own.

Not as big as other albums in sales but it got em on the road again, which is the place that AC/DC rule.

Axel Rudi Pell – The Masquerade Ball

He was labelled a Malmsteen clone, but if anything, he’s more in the mould of German guitarists like Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth, along with Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker with a nod to the British rockers of the 70’s which involves, Paul Kossoff from Free, Jimmy Page from Led Zep, Richie Blackmore from Deep Purple and Rainbow and Mick Ralphs plus Jimi Hendrix who is from the US but went to the UK to make it.

Johnny Gioeli is on vocals as well.

And the album is not on Spotify Australia, but it’s on YouTube which pays less.

“Earls Of Black” and that intro lead break. Check it out.

“Voodoo Nights” sounds like “Big City Nights” from Scorpions. Plus Gioeli delivers a vocal performance.

“The Black Masquerade” at 10 minutes doesn’t get boring (especially the violins in the Chorus) while “Tear Down The Walls” reminds me of his other songs like “Warrior” and a melodic lead break after the Chorus.

Scorpions – Moment Of Glory

And this album is also not on Spotify Australia. It’s Scorpions with the Berliner Philharmoniker. It was meant to be Michael Kamen scoring it, but then left to pursue the Metallica project.

“Hurricane 2000” kicks it off, which is basically “Rock You Like A Hurricane” about a bitch being hungry and how Klaus is going to feed her inches and feed her well.

“Crossfire” really kicks in to overdrive when the “Crossfire” section starts. If your not ready to take up swords and go to war than you’re too uptight.

“Deadly Sting Suite” is also an instrumental merging the Scorpions songs, “He’s A Woman, She’s A Man” with “Dynamite”. And it’s done brilliantly.

And the concert ends with “Still Loving You”, “Big City Nights” and “Lady Starlight”. “Big City Nights” is pretty impressive.

The Berlin Philharmoniker really does a great job with it, and how good are the backing vocalists and the symphonic/choir vocalists.

Black Label Society – Stronger Than Death

The title alone makes me laugh and it reminds me of Motorhead’s “Killed By Death”.

Zakk Wylde wrote all the songs, played all the guitars, did all the vocals and also played the bass and piano. Plus he produced it as well. And mixed and mastered it.

“All For You” has basically a riff which the NuMetal movement “used to death”, but Zakk makes it sound “shiny metal fresh”.

“Phoney Smiles And Fake Hellos” is a favourite.

And he went back to the world of “Miracle Man” for the lyrical inspiration on “Counterfeit God” and when the verse riff kicks in, its down tuned and “heavier than death”.

“Just Killing Time” is those Zakk tunes on the piano and delivering a CCR like vocal.

“Stronger Than Death” is a slow dirge, full of grooves, but interchangeable with a few of the other tracks on this album and “Love Reign Down” closes the album, another groove riff laden cut

Mr Big – Get Over It

I heard this album many years after it came out. I was even surprised the band was still recording after “Bump Ahead” which was released in 1993. And I had to see who was still in the band, because I knew Paul Gilbert left to do Racer X again.

So Eric Martin still wails away and on this one, he is very bluesy, sort of like the Badlands second album. On guitars this time around is Richie Kotzen, with Billy Sheehan and Pat Torpey rounding out the rhythm section.

Songwriter Marti Frederiksen is called in and while the bluesy tunes are nice to listen to, they start to become repetitive. Interchangeable in fact.

I suppose I was over it by then.

Dio – Magica

Ronnie James Dio had enough goodwill in my book to warrant eternal fandom. But I didn’t really get into his 90’s output after “Dehumanizer”.

But many years later in the 2000’s (and after Heaven And Hell released “The Devil You Know” album) I started to listen and “Magica” was first because I was always a sucker for a concept album.

The band is a good one for the release with Simon Wright on drums, Jimmy Bain on bass and Craig Goldy on guitars.

“Lord Of The Last Day” is classic Dio, merging his Sabbath time with the dirgy “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” groove.

“Fever Dreams” instantly became a favourite because its riff reminds me of “Dream Evil” and “Long Live Rock N Roll”.

“Challs” is one of the characters in the story and the song is a blues rock groove blended with melodic rock and it’s one of my favourite songs on the album. Maybe because it also sounds like the songs from “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line” album, like “Rainbow In The Dark” mixed with “Dream Evil”.

“As Long As It’s Not About Love” has this Hendrix “Little Wing” style intro and a haunting vocal line from Dio before it gets into the dirge like groove similar to “Sign Of The Southern Cross” from his Sabbath days.

“Losing My Insanity” is pirate metal and I like it.

“Otherworld” has this Middle Eastern riff, distorted and fuzzed. The riff makes me want to pick up the guitar to learn it. And Dio is telling his stories.

If you like Dio in the 80’s, then you will like this album. There is enough there to keep you interested.

Off to 1985, for Part 5.

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

The Record Vault – Creed

Mark Tremonti is a big reason why Creed became a favourite.

To anyone who listened to me after “Weathered”, I called him the modern day Jimmy Page, as he can move between fast metal riffs, to blues rock riffs, to heavy groove rock riffs to folk rock and even classical. Plus he did it by using various open string tunings. There was a lot of variation on the albums.

Similar to how Page moved between so many different styles, so when you got a Led Zeppelin album, you had a lot of variation between each song. And Page did it by using various open string tunings.

My Own Prison

The debut released in 1997.

It took me a while to get used to Scott Stapp’s “Vedder Voice”, but from the outset the music made me want to pick up the guitar and play it.

Album opener “Torn” moves between the light in the verses and dark in the Chorus. Plus it’s got two breakdowns. And at 6 minutes long, I was in.

The intro in “Ode” has got some serious Metal overtones. Plus it’s got a head banging chromatic riff in the interlude.

“My Own Prison” deals with being responsible for creating your own prison.

“In America” almost sounds folky and Chilli Peppers like with all the open tunings that Tremonti employs. The Chorus sounds like it came from the British Rock explosion.

“Unforgiven” has a groove metal riff which could have come from Pantera.

“What’s This Life For” is a favourite. The way it starts off with the clean tone strumming, it could have come from the 70’s folk rock movement. But it’s the 2 minute outro that really hooks me.

And the album closes with “One”, a pure Creed classic.

Two of their best songs to close out.

Human Clay
The follow up, released in 1999.

I don’t think anyone had any idea as to how big this album would get, like 11 x Platinum in the US and 4 x Platinum in Australia.

And “Are You Ready?” kicks it all off. The heaviness of the groove riff had me ready to listen to more and “What If” continues the groove metal set with the opener.

How good does “Beautiful” start off?

“Say I” musically is a metal song. It could come from a thrash album. The clean tones just keep percolating until it explodes into a Tool like riff for the Chorus.

“Faceless Man” is one of those fan favourite cuts, as it moves between hard rock and groove metal, between light and shade and dark. And Tremonti even pulls out an open string lick.

“With Arms Wide Open” and “Higher” are up next and these songs sold the album to the masses, but its “Wash Away Those Years” which I like more. Its cuts like this, “Faceless Man”, “Say I” and “What If” which really made this album for me.

“Inside Us All” closes the album and it’s another cut which moves between a clean tone verse and distorted chorus which I like. Plus there is another cool and fast melodic lick which Tremonti chucks in at the outro of the song, a precursor to the things to come in the shred department.

Weathered

Released in 2001, and it blows me away from the outset with “Bullets”.

That riff from Tremonti, with the fast alternate picking, palm muting and open strings is addictive. They opened with this song when I saw em live in Sydney.

Bassist Brian Marshall was out and Tremonti did the bass parts for the album.

Then “Freedom Fighter” has this Texan blues groove but done in a Pantera style for the verses.

“Who’s Got My Back” is typical of the style of the Creed songs I like, with atmospheric finger picked riffs in clean tone percolating in the verses, which leads to open string tuned chords and eventually crunching and distorted chords.

How heavy is that verse riff in “Signs”?

Then you are treated to the excellent finger picked lines of “One Last Breath”.

“My Sacrifice” pushed this album to multi-platinum status in Australia and the U.S and the streaming counts for this song are huge, way higher than “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open”. And while I liked the song when I heard it on the album, it wasn’t until I saw Creed live that I really enjoyed the song and the way they played it. It was the closer, it was delivered with power and a lot of pyro and they made sure they left you wanting more.

“Stand Here With Me” came next and its similarity to “My Sacrifice” made me ignore it, but the riff stands on its own. And there is a lead break in this song, which got me paying attention.

“Weathered” is my favourite track, especially that whole interlude/bridge section from the 3.27 mark and that riff. It reminds me of heavy metal from the 80’s.

“Hide” is “My Sacrifice” part 3 and although it is derivative, it doesn’t get boring. “Don’t Stop Dancing” has a nice little melodic lead from Tremonti, who really picks his small lead break spots to perfection.

Full Circle

It came out in 2009.

Alter Bridge had traction by now, releasing “One Day Remains” in 2004 and the excellent “Blackbird” in 2007 and I was like, why would Tremonti get back with Stapp. But it’s a fitting way to go out, the four dudes who were in the initial band to come full circle.

The anti-Creed press made sure they kept repeating how the sales of the album didn’t match the sales of the previous albums and that the album is a dud.

But it’s not a dud and the tour did well at the box office.

“Overcome” kicks it off in typical Creed fashion, but this time around the band is angrier and a bit more weathered from life. “A Thousand Faces” and “Rain” are my favourites. “On My Sleeve” is also worthy.

“Away In Silence”, “Full Circle” and “Time” round up the album for me.

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

The Pirate Vault #11

The Mix Tape

I did this mix tape as an album of songs I like from different artists, as I wanted to get the feel of those songs into my song writing.

Kiss – I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire)

It’s a perfect album opener with a fast palm muted and aggressive riff. It’s a Paul Stanley and Desmond Child composition, appearing on the “Animalize” album released in 1984.

Y&T – Temptation

For track 2, it was always the most accessible tune, so here is a pop rock tune, with big harmonies.

Y&T worked hard on A&M Records and built a career. Then the big labels came calling and Geffen Records got the signature for a lot of money. And Y&T also got a label rep, who told them what songs should be worked on and what songs shouldn’t.

This one is written by Al Pitrelli and Bruno Ravel during the early Danger Danger days, with Phil Kennemore adding some lyrics and it appeared on their 1987 album “Contagious”, which Geffen earmarked to sell a lot to cover the costs of the Whitesnake 87 album.

Kansas – One Man, One Heart

The Kansas tracks on this mix tape are from the Steve Morse era of Kansas between 1986 and 1988. Steve Morse was involved in the “Power” album released in 1986 and “In The Spirit Of Things” released in 1988.

These two tracks are from the “In The Spirit Of Things” album and even though I’m a Steve Morse fan, he wasn’t involved in writing em.

This one is written by Mark Spiro and Dan Huff (the same Dan Huff from Giant) and what you get is a melodic rock song, worthy of a place on the imaginary album.

Kansas – Stand Beside Me

This one is written by Mark Jordan and Bruce Gaitsch and it’s like the ballad track.

Hericane Alice – I Walk Alone

This band was good and this track is a stompy 12/8 bluesy romp, perfect to close off Side 1 of the imaginary album.

Kiss – Love Gun

You open up Side 2 with another aggressive album opener. Can’t go wrong with a Kiss cut.

Sammy Hagar – Remember The Heroes

This is a very underrated song from the mighty Sammy Hagar. It appeared on the “Three Lock Box” album, released in 1982 and Jonathan Cain (who was having an unbelievable run of high profile songs with Journey and other artists) is a co-writer with Sammy Hagar.

Kansas – Silhouettes In Disguise

It’s from the “Power” album released in 86. This track is written by Steve Morse and Steve Walsh. And it’s the fast past riff that hooks me.

Kansas – Three Pretenders

This cut is also from the “Power” album. This track is written by Billy Greer, Steve Morse and Steve Walsh. The way the guitar and synth chords work in the intro hooks me in and the vocal line from Steve Walsh is perfect.

Bad English – Possession

And it closes with a melodic rock AOR song.

Side B

And here is another take of an imaginary album.

Blue Murder – We All Fall Down

Another fast and aggressive opener to kick off the album about Louie who lost his daughter behind the tracks, as the sweet brown sugar took her.

John Sykes pulled out his Phil Lynott experiences vocally and lyrically.

David Coverdale – The Last Note Of Freedom

Hans Zimmer wrote the music and Billy Idol wrote the lyrics. I’ve read that David Coverdale has been credited as well, but I am pretty sure he wasn’t credited on the original Days Of Thunder soundtrack.

It’s a melodic rock gem, bordering between, pop and rock.

George Lynch – We Don’t Own This World

The Nelson twins sing on this track, and man, they deliver.

It’s actually written by Pilson and Lynch, so it’s definitely got their Dokken vibe, but the Nelson twins are the difference. It’s a melodic rock hit with an intro riff that reminds me of “Women From Tokyo” from Deep Purple.

Dream Theater – Lifting Shadows Of A Dream

Its Dream Theater bringing their U2 and Marillion influences to their form of progressive hard rock, and it works so good to close Side 1.

Vince Neil – The Edge

The side 2 opener is fast, a bit progressive in its structure as it moves between Spanish/Flamenco guitar riffs to metal Uli Jon Roth style of riffs. Steve Stevens played some of this best riffs with Vince Neil.

Stryper – Calling For You

After an aggressive opener, you always need a little melody. And Stryper is at their melodic best on this song.

Tesla – Cry

From the excellent “Bust A Nut” album released in 1994.

And for those who said that grunge killed hard rock artists, well it didn’t kill Tesla.

In a volatile market, made hostile by the record labels who dumped hard rock bands and then had their puppets in the press lambast the style, Tesla, stood tall and worked hard touring on this album and even got a certification in the process.

And then the labels tried to kill em off.

Megadeth – Tornado Of Souls

This is a fast rocker and the solo from Friedman is a “wow” moment.

Aerosmith – Living On The Edge

The simple riff in D, that just keeps repeating is addictive and the vocal melody from Tyler captures you.

Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell II – Back Into Hell

The longest song titles in the world brought the mighty Loaf back into our lives.

And even though he released 4 or 5 albums after “Bat Out Of Hell”, all of those albums ceased to exist and it was like his career was “Bat Out Of Hell” 1 and 2.

The Jimi Hendrix Story / Def Leppard – Pyromania

A friend of mine had a Jimi Hendrix compilation and I recorded it over a few different tapes. I can’t even remember what was on this side before I taped Hendrix over it.

And of course, “Pyromania” on side 2, a perfect Walkman companion. This Def Lep album is the perfect bridge between the 70’s British Rock and Glam artists merged with the NWOBHM and the LA Sunset Strip.

I also added “King Of Fools” from Twisted Sister, “Sleepin In The Fire” from WASP and “Love Gun” from Kiss to the end of it. I think you get the drift that I really liked “Love Gun”.

I even wrote a song called “Love Gin” and “Cold Gun”. I know, merging two Kiss song titles is pretty desperate.

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