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

1985 – Part 6

Fates Warning – The Spectre Within

I picked up their first three albums really cheap in the early 90’s via a second hand record shop. The youthful exuberance approach to song writing is clear, with extravagant structures and riff-a-ramas in each song. Better albums and songs would come later however those songs would not be possible if they didn’t get these early albums and the styles out of the way. Put simply, this is Fates Warning, sounding heavier, faster and more complex.

The band is also different to the band that I would come to like. John Arch is on vocals, Victor Arduini and Jim Matheos are on guitars, Jim Arch is on keyboards, Steve Zimmerman on bass and Joe DiBiase on drums.

“Orphan Gypsy”, musically is an underrated progressive metal cut. If it appeared on a Megadeth or Metallica or Slayer album, it would be seen as a classic. Lyrically, the melodies are hit and miss, but the music is a thrash-a-thon. “Without A Trace” has an intro riff which could have come from Malmsteen’s “I’ll See The Light Tonight” before it morphs into a galloping riff like Iron Maiden.

But its “The Apparition” which fuses their Maiden influences (especially “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”) with their other influences which really gets my attention. Even the vocal delivery, could be said to inspire Midnight from Crimson Glory.

Musically, the piece d resistance is “Epitaph”. It sounds like its inspired by “Heaven And Hell” from Sabbath. And at 12 minutes long, it has different movements and moods and it’s a great way to close the album. This song is a giant leap for progressive metal. 

Vocally, John Arch, is a tenor, a cross between Geoff Tate and Dickinson, with a bit of Robert Plant, Rob Halford falsetto and King Diamond chucked in for good measure. But his choice of melodies are a bit of a let down on some of the songs.

Loverboy – Loving Every Minute of It

If you listened to rock music, there is no way that you would have not heard of Loverboy and their songs. This is their first album to not feature Bruce Fairbairn in the producers chair, and Tom Allom was hired.

The album is not on Spotify Australia which irks me, but hey, YouTube has it.

Mutt Lange is on hand to write the big hit, “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It”. This dude couldn’t do nothing wrong for a long time.

Jonathan Cain from Journey is on hand to co-write the soft rock influenced “This Could Be The Night” with Paul Dean, Mike Reno and Bill Wray.

Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance are on hand to write “Dangerous”, a melodic rock classic.

The riff in “Friday Night” is to my liking. This one is written by Bill Wray, Paul Dean, Davitt Sigerson and Patrick Mahassen.

And the lyric, “Friday Night, I just got paid, no sleep till Monday”. Truth right there, folks.

The good songs keep coming, with the hard rocking “Too Much Too Soon” and the ballad like “Destination Heartbreak” (with its heartbreak emotive guitar solo). But it’s the Lange penned title cut that moved units.

Heart – Heart

This album was massive in the U.S with 5 plus million in sales and a who’s who of songwriters behind it. Not sure if that was the intention of the Wilson sisters or the label, but the addition of songs from outside writers enhanced the band. 

“If Looks Could Kill” is a perfect opener. There is a “Live In Memphis” release on Spotify which is recorded in 1985 for a radio broadcast, and this opens it. Its raw rock and roll without all the studio polish and perfect. It’s written by Jack Conrad and Bob Garrett. And Conrad played bass in The Doors after the death of Jim Morrison and became a songwriter later on.

“What About Love” is a cut written by Sheron Alton, Brian Allen and Jim Vallance. I like the verses more than the Chorus. “Never” and “All Eyes” are written by Holly Knight and Gene Bloch, along with Nancy Wilson, Ann Wilson and Sue Ennis. “These Dreams” is written by Elton John’s song writing partner Bernie Taupin and Martin Page. It was a hit, but it’s not on my radar.

“The Wolf” (the side 1 closer) and “Shell Shock” (the side 2 closer) are written by the band with Sue Ennis. Both songs are aggressive and loud and I like em, but they wouldn’t push the album past the 5 million mark in sales. 

DLR – Crazy From The Heat

Roth got a lot of money to go solo, but the real solo album would come with “Eat Em And Smile”, then again, that album also had a lot of cover songs on it as well, so the real solo album, free of covers was “Skyscraper”.

For “Crazy From The Heat”, I own it on cassette and LP, but I never play it.

Warrior – Fighting For The Earth

The title makes me laugh now, but in the 80’s it was badass. Even the band name referenced my favourite movie, “Warriors”. They had the whole dystopian metal look happening, and that intro riff, used in a million songs, but so effective in this song. 

And vocalist Paramore McCarty is one hell of a vocalist. If you haven’t heard Warrior, then you would have heard his singing with Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys. In 2017, he resurfaced with the band “Radiation Romeos” and released an album on Frontiers. If the name sounds familiar, well it appeared in the lyrics of the song “Atomic Playboys”. Musically, it sounds very similar to the song.

And when you want to talk about connections, Robin Crosby from Ratt kick started his career by getting him to sing in his pre-Ratt bands and getting him noticed. 

And Joe Floyd is an excellent guitarist/songwriter. If you’ve seen a Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford album, well he is listed in the production credits as either a mixer or engineer.

Immortal enemy, has come to challenge man / Secret science out of control

Who knew the immortal enemy is a virus. We cannot eradicate it, so we need to learn with it.

We are fighting for the earth

But no one is listening. As long as money rules the game, the Earth suffers.

Blood and corruption, hideous crimes / Lying leaders, controlling our minds

It feels like the rich and powerful don’t have to answer to anyone. Rules don’t apply to them. Then you have the news outlets who no one seems to fact check, also spreading lies like our elected leaders.

“Defenders of Creation” starts off with a riff that reminds me of “It’s Not Love” by Dokken. What came first, we will never know.

Leatherwolf – Endangered Species

In Europe it was released as “Leatherwolf” and in America it was released as “Endangered Species”. To confuse matters even more another self-titled album was released in 1987, which is different to this one.

But it was “Streetready” released in 89 that really got me interested in the band and I couldn’t find any of their early stuff at that point in time. But many years later, the internet made sure I did.

And this album is not on Spotify Australia but it’s on YouTube.

Musically, it’s metal the way I know it from a band trying to find where they fit into things. The tracks I like are “Endangered Species”, “Season Of The Witch” and “Leatherwolf”. But better songs would come after.

Mr Mister – Welcome To The Real World

Like Loverboy, but lighter in rock and roll. Like Marillion, but more poppy. Like Toto and their Africa period. Like U2 but not big on the social conscience lyrics.

That’s basically how I described em.

And there was no denying “On Broken Wings”. It was everywhere and I liked it. 134 million streams on Spotify demonstrates how big it is. And maybe because it reminded me of U2, I gravitated to it.

“Kyrie” is another song which still does the rounds at 33 million plus streams. This one reminds me of “Africa” from Toto and Marillion and I like it.

The labels tried their best to break up the band by offering vocalist Richard Page the vocalist gig in Toto to replace Bobby Kimball and then to replace Peter Cetera in Chicago.

But Page refused both offers.

In the end, this album (their second) was its biggest.

Once album number three “ Go On” stalled in sales a few years later, the writing was on the wall. Guitarist Steve Farris left in 88 and the remaining members went to work on album number 4 with session guitarists.  This was ready for release in 1990 but the label refused to release it and that was that. 

John Fogerty – Centrefield

I had no idea at the time the troubles he had with the labels and his old CCR songs but there was no denying that John Fogerty is a star. And the songs, “Vanz Kant Danz” and “Mr Greed” sum it up nicely about his struggles.

That opening lick in “The Old Man Down The Road” gets the foot tapping. Its instant and memorable. “Rock and Roll Girls” transports you back to those 60’s movies, hanging out on the boardwalk. “Mr Greed” is a blues rock slap down of his former label boss and the title track is a 12 bar blues romp. 

And that’s a wrap for 1985 part 6, and I’m off to 1977 for part 6.

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

Radiation Romeos

I was writing a post on 1985 as part of my yearly series and the band Warrior came up. I’m a fan of Paramore McCarty on vocals.

He did the album “Fighting For The Earth” in 1985 and then was in label limbo land, until he got the vocalist gig for Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys. The aggressive melodic rock and over the top Vinnie Vincent style of guitar playing really got me into the band. But when a label throws millions at a release, they want a return on those millions and more. And that didn’t happen. So Atomic Playboys got dropped.

And McCarty disappeared for a long time. I now know via Wikipedia that he went back to Warrior and did a few more albums with them.

And then he sort of disappeared again.

But in 2017, he resurfaced with a new band called “Radiation Romeos”. If the words sound familiar to you, they should, as they are lyrics in the “Atomic Playboys” song. And the song “Radiation Romeos” is a derivative cut of the “Atomic Playboys” and by far the best rocker on the album which is basically a new take on an old sound.

“Ocean Drive” is a slower melodic rocker, more anthemic and 80’s influenced. “Promised Land” is a cross between a Dio cut and Gary Moore, think “Egypt The Chains Are On” and “Blood Of Emeralds”. “Til The End Of Time” is another melodic rocker which is cool for a listen and “On The Tight Rope” could come from an AC/DC album.

Only one album has been released on Frontiers and I’m not sure if anymore will come.

P.S. 

There has to be money in music and streaming, because Frontiers wouldn’t be throwing money at artists to get them to write and record for them. They have been a very prolific record label.

P.S.S.

Then again, the money is in holding the copyrights for songs for the life of the artist plus 70 years after death. In some countries its 90 years.

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

2000 – Part 6

I still have quite a few more posts to do for 2000. I think I’m half way through it.

My musical likes were all over the place depending on my mood and what inspires me to pick up the guitar and play it.

Pantera – Reinventing The Steel

I didn’t hear this album when it came out. I moved away from Pantera after the hard-core vocals on “A Vulgar Display of Power”. Musically I liked it, lyrically I liked it, but the vocals I didn’t like. I knew eventually I would get back into listening to their catalogue because Dimebag is that good, that you need to listen to him. Plus he’s a mega Kiss fan, with Ace Frehley being an idol, along with Randy Rhoads.

Each song has some cool guitar moments, like “Hellbound” with its downtuned and flanged riff. Or “Revolution Is My Name” with its steroid infused blues rock riffs, like ZZ Top, down-tuned, and sped up.

What is my name?

Well, it’s revolution baby….

“Goddamn Electric” is like a Sabbath cut, musically, moving between so many different grooves and “I’ll Cast A Shadow” has an awesome intro riff and chromatic breakdown section full of brimstone and fire and moshing bodies.

Shadows Fall – Of One Blood

Musically, its heavy metal as I know it. To the reviewers and critics, they called the band copy cats of the Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal scene.

Vocally it’s a cross between death metal growls and abrasive Hetfield like vocals. The soaring and melodic clean tone vocals would come on later albums. Original vocalist Phil Labonte was out of the band because of musical differences and dreadlocked singer Brain Fair was in. And for those that don’t know, Labonte went on to form All That Remains and on occasions he filled in for Ivan Moody in Five Finger Death Punch.

Guitarist Jon Donais has been in Anthrax since 2013, appearing on “For All Kings”. Other guitarist Matt Bachand plays bass in various other bands like Hatebreed and Act of Defiance.

In relation to this album, better albums would come later.

RPWL – God Has Failed

They started off as a Pink Floyd cover band and then got a deal to make original music. For me, they took up the mantle that Pink Floyd was leaving behind with their lack of recorded output in the 1990’s and 2000’s. If you like “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” then you will like this.

“Hole In The Sky (Pt 1: Fly / Pt 2: Crawl To You)” opens the album. Its melancholic guitar arpeggios and Dave Gilmour like voice instantly hooks me in.

“Who Do You Think We Are” is the best cut for me. It’s the most accessible. It starts off with an emotive guitar solo, sounding more like a Beatles cut than a Pink Floyd cut with a Chorus that Oasis would be proud off. And that solo at the 3 minute mark, its Clapton like in the emotion stakes.

“In Your Dreams” sounds like “Sorrow” from Pink Floyd in the first part. This is the one that really got under peoples skins. And the chorus has a clear Genesis influence and it’s a nice mix of their influences in an accessible format. For someone to listen to this song and not be aware of the Pink Floyd and Genesis catalogue, this would sound original. And that is originality.

“Hole in The Sky (Pt 3: The Promise)” takes the riffs from the first two parts and adds an excellent one minute guitar solo. Set up a playlist and put both songs together, just to listen to how the song sounds complete.

This album got negative reviews because it lacked originality, but my view of originality is taking something that came before and using it to make something different.

When Kingdom Come appeared towards the late 80’s, they were marked as Led Zeppelin clones. I remember the critics blasting them, but the album sold. Because people want to listen to Led Zeppelin and Kingdom Come were doing songs that Led Zeppelin were no long doing.

RPWL was also doing things that Pink Floyd were no longer doing in 2000.

Joe Satriani – Engines Of Creation

He went industrial with this album.

Sampled drums and loops more or less kick off every song on the album. Satriani has enough goodwill in my book, that there will always be a bias towards his work. But there has to be a song that makes me want to pick up the guitar and learn it.

In this case, the ballad like “Until We Say Goodbye” is the song. Otherwise, the album is a miss.

Nickelback – The State

I think this album was released in 1999 in the Northern markets, and 2000 in the Australian market. It’s a forgotten album now when you look at the success which came after.

Two songs dominate this album.

“Breathe” is one of the best songs Nickelback has written. Just press play and listen to it. It has a riff which is recognisable, a drum pattern which is dominant and the vocal melodies from Chad Kroger are brilliant.

“Leader Of Men” is another great song as it rolls along with the acoustic in the intro and verses as it builds until the whole band comes in.

But there are some other cool sections within songs. “Diggin’ This” has a heavy groovy riff. “One Last Run” starts off with a double time metal like riff. “Hold Out Your Hand” also has a heavy dirge riff which I like.

Check out pre chart topping Nickelback.

Well that’s a wrap for another 2000 post. Off to 1985 for Part 6 we go.

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The Record Vault – Candlebox

Self-Titled debut

I was late to the party on these guys. 

Guitar World and Guitar For The Practicing Musician had guitar tabs of the songs “Far Behind”, You”, “Cover Me” and “Change”. And I learned em without listening to the song and I liked what I heard.

I read the reviews in the U.S mags who gave it good reviews and how they have become Madonna’s darlings as their label Maverick Records is owned/run by Madonna and her team. The band basically put Maverick Records on the map as they were the first successful act on the label which signed Deftones and Alanis Morissette later. 

Peter Klett on guitars really knows how to decorate a song with his little melodic riffs and licks. Just listen to “Far Behind” and how he takes a stock standard chord progression of G, Em, C, D (like “Stand By Me”) and really decorates it with diads, arpeggios, hammer ons/pull offs and single note licks to make it sound unique.

Happy Pills

This is their third album.

One song, “Sometimes” defines this album for me. It’s that good, I had it on repeat consistently.

I’ve written about the song before.

You can read it here. 

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August 2020 – Part 5

Jessie’s Girl 2 (feat Rick Springfield) – Coheed And Cambria

I’ve been a fan from when I was given a CD rip of the “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” album in 2005 and a few months later I was consuming the brand new “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV”.

Their song structures and the riffs got me interested. And the voice of Claude Sanchez got me to commit. That voice rocks out like Geddy Lee, but still sounds unique and different enough.

And the hair. Man that hair. It’s massive. 

And to top it off, there is the big SciFi saga about a mystical energy source known as “The Keywork”.

Starting Over – Chris Stapleton

Rock bands used to do ballads like this, an acoustic guitar, a light drum shuffle and lyrics that take you down the sidewalk of life.

Chris Stapleton is a country artist and he came across my radar because my kids were listening to a collaboration he did with Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran, “BLOW”. And I was interested because it’s a blues rock monster with a wicked guitar riff.

Then I checked out his other songs, like “Parachute” which has over 135 million streams and “Tennessee Whiskey” which has 315+ million streams.

And became a fan.

The Lost Tapes – Dokken

“This was when I was on my own, and I was playing with Juan Croucier [Ratt] on bass. We went to Germany in ‘79 and did a tour, so these were all the demos we did.”

Don Dokken

Don Dokken never should have re-recorded some of the songs but he did because the tapes were bad.

But all is not lost. There are some early gems here, without any re-recordings.

So if you have the “Back In The Streets” EP, which I do, you don’t really need to buy “The Lost Tapes”, however, the “Back In The Streets” EP was released as a bootleg, so Don Dokken never got any royalties from the sale of the EP but he will get payment for this release.

So it’s no surprise that my favourite tracks on “The Lost Tapes” are from the “Back In The Streets” EP.

And I heard that Don Dokken used these actual songs (co-written by Lynch and Brown) to get a record deal under the name of Dokken and this started the rift with Lynch.

“Were Going Wrong” is written by Dokken and Lynch. It has a riff that came straight from “Hot N Ready” by UFO and a certain Rainbow track.

“Day After Day” is a brilliant ballad like the 70’s ballads, with a bluesy guitar solo that Don Dokken should be proud off.

“Felony” is a Dokken, Lynch and Brown cut and this song re-appeared on the “Breaking The Chains” album.

“Back In The Streets” is a Dokken and Lynch cut and it’s got that Sunset Strip vibe. “Liar” is a Dokken cut and its recorded live in the late 70’s, and a version of it appears on the “From Conception” album, a live recording of the early days with Lynch and Brown. 

For the following cuts I don’t have any info on at all. 

“Rainbows” is not on the EP I have and it’s a song I haven’t heard before, but it feels like a re-recording. The intro riff is good. And I don’t know who wrote it.

“Hit And Run” appeared on the “From Conception Live 1981” released in 2007. This song was written for the “Breaking The Chains” album. I’m pretty sure that Lynch is playing on this version and how this song didn’t make the album confuses me. 

S&M 2 – Metallica

I thought this was unnecessary. 

But when artists suddenly cannot tour because of COVID-19, this album suddenly took on a different meaning to me.

It’s a celebration of Metallica. It’s a celebration of gathering and cramming into a venue to let our hair down and be infected with live music. It’s a celebration of bands performing live and bringing their circus to town. This time with a whole symphony.

And since 1998 they have released other albums, so it was good to hear those tracks get the orchestra treatment.

Songs like “The Day Never Comes”, “Confusion”, “Moth Into Flame”, “Halo On Fire”, “The Unforgiven III” and “All Within My Hands”.

Plus there are two symphonies in “The Iron Foundry” from composer Alexander Mosolov and “Scythian Suite” from composer Sergei Prokofiev.

“The Memory Remains” was a favourite of mine when it came out on “Reload” but over the last 15 years, it’s become one of those powerful singalong concert moments like “For Whom The Bells Toll”.

“The Outlaw Torn” is a favourite from the “Load” album, and it’s also a song which translates well with the whole symphony. Plus that outro groove/riff is essential listening.

And “No Leaf Clover” is always a blast to listen too. 

Another World – Gojira

From France.

What a journey it’s been for them. 

Their style morphed from being a technical death metal band to a heavy metal band and now to a hard rock act.

Regardless of style, it’s the riffage that gets me interested.

And their lyrics deal with society and the environment.

Manhattan Skyline – Ihsahn, Einar Solberg

I’ve been a fan of Ihsahn for a long time.

My cousin was into Black Metal. I never got the industrial vocals part, but the movement did give us blast beats to incorporate into normal metal songs and it also introduced symphonic elements to metal music. 

It’s a long way from the Norwegian Black Metal movement he was involved in as the co-founder and guitarist with Emperor.

They wore corpse paint and he didn’t spend any time in prison, while his other Emperor band members committed murder and arson. And his views on Satanism and Christianity always got people talking, even the very open minded Norwegians.

But don’t let the stories detract from listening. Listen with your ears and an open mind as his solo releases just keep pushing the boundaries. 

On this song, Einar Solberg from Leprous (or his sister in law) is guesting with him and it feels like the Euro Pop songs from the 80’s. Its catchy and infectious.

Scars – Fates Warning

There will always be a bias towards Fates Warning. 

This band has been a part of my life for a long time and I still rate their 2000 album “Disconnect” as a perfect connector between the hard rock and metal prog of their earlier albums with the prog of Tool and Porcupine Tree which relied more on groove and atmospheric textures. 

And with “Scars” they continue on their own prog journey, fusing different styles and elements and more emphasis on expression than technicality and even more emphasis on progressive song writing than the standard verse and chorus structure.

Kill The Lights

The album is called “The Sinner” and it’s from a metalcore supergroup band which features members from bands who all had record deals and some success in the past.

Vocalist James Clark (Throw The Fight), guitarist Jordan Whelan (Still Remains), drummer ‘Moose’ Thomas (Bullet For My Valentine) and bassist Travis Montgomery (Threat Signal).

And I had the impression that the album would be screaming verses and melodic Choruses. While that is true for some songs, it’s does have some subtleness.

Stand out songs are “The Faceless”, “Through The Night”, “Tear Me Apart”, “The Enemy”, “Sober”, “Rest” and “Unmoved”.

They worked over the last two and a half years to put the album together and it’s a good mix of songs with different emotions and feelings. Fearless Records signed them after a whole year of negotiations.

“The Enemy” is a great track with a fast guitar opening riff and a foot stomping chorus.

“Through The Night” deals with the anxiety and depression that vocalist James went through. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and that really kicked off his struggles and they kicked in again when his children came into the world.

Adelitas Way and Seether also dropped albums this month, but they will be reviewed in next month’s list.

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

August 2020 – Part 4

Use My Voice – Evanescence

Amy Lee is a musician I would want around for a long time. The sound of her voice (which can be mournful, aggressive, rageful and happy) always gets me interested and the messages in the songs are genuine.

Relationships are difficult and they become even more difficult when one side tries to force their personality onto the other, speaking for them and even questioning them in a negative way in front of others.

Use your voice people, don’t suppress it. Its special and unique to you. This applies to everything in life and not just to relationships. Because no one is entitled to speak for you except you.

Space – Biffy Clyro

This band is hit and miss for me. They have me interested, then they lose me and then they get me again.

And this song has me back again about having a space in your heart for the special someone who is in and out of your life.

Maybe It’s Time – Sixx AM with guests

I liked this song when it appeared on their 2016 album “Prayers For The Blessed”.

It’s been redone now with a lot of guest vocalists to raise awareness of addiction and recovery.

“When I was young, I was dumb”

Indestructible. 

Getting old was never in my thoughts. 

Jumping out of moving cars, getting drunk and generally mucking around, sometimes dangerously, was bred out of pure boredom.

And not of all of us got out alive. People committed suicide and others got addicted to drugs, living a hard life right now with shakes and aliens in the fridge. 

“Maybe it’s time to deal with the pieces in my life”

There has to be a reawakening, a turning point. Some people believe they need to help you see it, but I believe you need to get to that point yourself.

For me, it was lying in a hospital bed with my foot broken and my face bruised and bleeding because I was drunk and jumped out of a moving car. I just had surgery to insert screws and a long road to recovery.

Cruel Hands Of Time – Tygers Of Pan Tang

It’s a crazy world we live in when “Tygers Of Pan Tang” are putting out some of their best music. Guitarist Robb Weir is the only original member left from the 80s.

The riffage on this song is straight from the Sunset strip and I’m pretty sure it’s from the fingers of Michael Crystal who has been in the band since 2013 and vocalist Jacopo Meille has some nice pipes, so the melodies are infectious.

Talk To Me – Apocalyptica with Lzzy Hale

These dudes from Finland have been on my radar since they covered Metallica songs on the cellos. And they have done everything, from the covers, the instrumental originals and the vocal originals.

This time they have Lzzy Hale, the best rock voice.

Satellites – Andy James

That chorus lead melody that kicks in at about the minute mark is emotive and the harmonies just add a nice complexity to it.

One of the best instrumental guitarists right now.

World On Fire – Daughtry

It’s so good to have Daughtry knocking on the door of hard rock again. He’s angry and the addictive melody is perfect over the aggressive guitar riffs.

Stressed out, head trauma, took a beating

Life is already difficult from our own doing and the trauma we inflict on ourselves with our thoughts and feelings So when society gets a hold of us, we are even more beaten down, shaped and moulded.

But we find ways to survive, to move on.

The final part to August 2020 is coming up.

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

August 2020 – Part 3

Our Last Night, Fractured Amygdala, A Sum Of Our Parts

Damnation Angels

From the U.K. 

I came across them years ago on an Amazon recommendation for the “Bringer Of Light” album in 2012, and with so much music being released between the years since and so little time to listen to everything, I lost track of them.

Here we are in 2020, with their third album “Fiber Of Our Being” (fourth if you include the EP in 2009).

Life in a band is tough. It’s even tougher these days, with so much music being released, it’s hard to be heard. From when they started to now, only the Garney brothers are left.

And my favourite tracks are not the main ones, but more of the album cuts like “Our Last Night”, “Fractured Amygdala” and “A Sum Of Our Parts”.

The soft piano on “Our Last Night” has some great vocals with a spine tingling backing choir.

How can you not like a song called “Fractured Amygdala” (instead of using a generic “Fractured Mind” title, they went to the science and pulled a specific area of the brain to write about) with its Nightwish and Symphony X like sound? 

And if the amygdala is damaged, there is a reduction of fear and aggression.

“A Sum Of Our Parts” closes the album with its melancholy.

And I hate the genre “symphonic metal” which these guys get lumped with. It’s stupid and dumb.

Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye Joe Bonamassa

It’s a stand-alone song, separate from the album that is just below and co-written with Bernie Marsden as part of his Abbey Studios Recording.

You do know who Bernie Marsden is right.

A co-writer with David Coverdale and the guitarist in Whitesnake, with songs like “Here I Go Again”, “Young Blood”, “Fool For Your Loving”, “Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues”, “Lovehunter” and “Trouble”.

And Bonamassa had this to say in a Facebook post about the track;

“I wrote ‘Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye’ about a previous relationship that I was in. We were together for five years, and we held on until the very last day. We fought for it, and fought for it, and we finally figured out it just wasn’t going to work. So that song was very autobiographical. It’s hard to write that way, I’ve always found. But my best songs are like that. Bernie Marsden and I wrote that song together. He has a great way of harmonically putting chords together, and the music has his stamp all over it.

Bonamassa is his own businessman. He has his fan base which likes his British Blues Rock and Mississippi Delta influences. And of course, with Covid-19 putting a dent in the live business, artists like Bonamassa are affected, because his normal gross average for a gig is over $300K for about 2500 tickets sold.

But Bonamassa has and still continues to build his career, so when others have come and gone, he’ll still be doing the rounds.

A New Day NowJoe Bonamassa

When Bonamassa rocks out in his bluesy Cream and Bad Company way, with a bit of Skynyrd, I am all in.

And the songs which capture that spirit on the album are tracks like “Cradle Rock” which has a section after the lead break that reminds me of Eddie Van Halen.

“Miss You, Hate You” is country rock and it’s probably the best song that Skynyrd didn’t write. “A New Day Yesterday” is a blues rock stomp.

“Colour And Shape” has a memorable guitar lead and it’s a fusion of different styles, while “If Heartaches Were Nickels” is a blues ballad while “Don’t Burn Down That Bridge” rocks out with its fuzzed out riffs and stompy bass guitar.

MedicationRoyal Bliss

Another interchangeable blues rock riff kicks off the song, but it’s the vocal melody that hooks me in and the chorus chords are like “I Love Rock N Roll” with a memorable hook. 

So where’s my medication, you got yours and I want mine. 

If it wasn’t for streaming, I wouldn’t even know about Royal Bliss, but from streaming I have become a fan.

Déjà vu10 Years

Their modern rock style is something I like.

Turn off my brain it all sounds the same

And the lyric keeps morphing to say, turn off the songs, they all sound the same and turn off the screens, they all look the same.

We are surrounded by things we like and follow, which leads us to an echo chamber. And the internet is a copy system. It survives by copying. So we read essentially the same story across different websites with just a few journalistic changes and suddenly everything sounds the same.

I’m in my mid 40’s right now and all the new music I listen to sounds the same, basically a new take on an old sound. I still like it, but I get what all the older people I knew back in the 80’s and early 90’s like my school teachers, guitar teachers and work colleagues who grew up in the 70’s said, “that all of the 80’s music was a new take on the 60’s and 70’s sound”.

To them, everything sounded the same.

Stay tuned for parts 4 and 5 for August 2020.

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

August 2020 – Part 2 – John Petrucci

“Suspended Animation” came out in 2005. I purchased it from his website straight away and I’ve lived with this instrumental album for a long time. Just recently it appeared on Spotify as well, which makes it easier for me, as I didn’t have to rely on my CD rip on Apple Music for listening.

On “Suspended Animation” he had enough hooks and catchy melodic passages that I could sink my fingers into and let’s not forget the brilliance of “Glasgow Kiss”, a tour de force in itself, especially that middle breakdown section, when he plays arpeggio chords over the open E and B strings and then that emotive lead.

And I have lived with “Suspended Animation” for a long time.

A long time.

Fifteen years later, “Terminal Velocity” is thrust upon us, in a world overtaken and overrun by a virus which spreads easily, kills and keeps mutating.

And fifteen years, it’s a long time in a songwriters life.

So many things change.

You get older, you have different family dynamics and your music listening habits keep evolving or devolving or they end up in an echo chamber, listening to the same stuff you listened to when you were growing up.

And if you have a practice routine to keep up your chops, you will get technically better at playing your instrument. It’s that old saying, get better every day by a ¼ of a percent and over the course of 365 days your 91% better and over 15 years you are 1368% better.

Well, John Petrucci is so good technically that I feel like breaking my guitar trying to learn stuff from him.

Petrucci assembled the band that he did G3 with around 2006, which is Mike Portnoy on drums and Dave LaRue on bass. It’s an awesome band and being a long time DT fan, it’s cool to hear MP drumming to JP riffs again.

“Temple Of Circadia” is my favourite, especially that clean tone section which kicks in before the 3 minute mark and the lead break which follows.

This is what JP said on Twitter; “The ending to “Temple Of Circadia” is also a highpoint for me in the all-out jamming nature that ends the song and I also thought finishing the album with a guitar cadenza like I did was the perfect way to put an exclamation point on the entire record”.

“Happy Song” with the major key vibe is like the commercial song on the album, especially that Americana Rock vibe in the melodic lead. Petrucci said on Twitter that the main chorus melody is one of his favourites and I agree.

And just listen to the outro. Its finger breaking stuff and still melodic. This song has appeared live on his G3 tours and at his Guitar Universe camp.

“The Oddfather” sounds like a track that could have come from “Black Clouds And Silver Linings”. And one of the melodic tremolo leads sounds like a Muse lead however Petrucci in his Twitter post said he was trying to mimic the sound of a fast alternate picked mandolin.

“Terminal Velocity” has that major key vibe in sections that remind me of this Arcade game called “Turbo Outrun”. It’s the first song he wrote for the album and it was an archived riff from a while go.

And that major key vibe is energetic and uplifting, while Petrucci uses the E Harmonic Minor mode for the main theme and melody to create a dark and mysterious type of sound, as per his Twitter post at the listening party.

“Out Of The Blue” is a blues fusion track.

“Glass Eyed Zombies” brings the metal. It’s heavy, its groovy and MP is having a ball with it. There is this lead break section, like a verse, that sounds like those TV themes from Danny Elfman.

And that outro again, melodic progressive metal with Petrucci nailing a brilliant lead to finish it off.

“The Way Things Fall” is like a Rush track in the intro, but then this melodic rock riff comes in and I’m all in. Once the melodic lead comes in, which acts like a verse, it’s perfect. You just need to listen to it.

“Gemini” is a song I have had for ages as a bootleg. I don’t even know when it was recorded or where it was recorded. But this song has been around for a long time and its very Dream Theater like from the Portnoy era. There are sections in this song that have appeared in DT songs and LTE songs, albeit with some variations.

“Snake In My Boot” was going to be called “The Stomp” and if you’ve heard “The Stroke” from Mr Squier you will know why it has a similar title, but the first impression I got from this was a Queen like vibe.

And on Spotify, he is getting some great numbers.

Over the course of just a week, he is already over the 120K number for each song with the pre-album release songs like “Terminal Velocity” at 360K and growing. So people are listening to the album over and over and over again. And that’s a good thing.

And these numbers, just don’t happen magically.

Petrucci has done something which I didn’t think he would do. He had a Twitter listening party and as he was listening to the album, he tweeted bits about each song, little nuggets here and there about certain sections and how they came about and how hard it is to play. He was connecting with his fans in a way he hasn’t done before.

And its resonating.

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

Count Your Days – Vanishing Point

It starts off with crunching guitars and an octave lead which gels with the symphonic elements. Then the singing starts.

The day when I waved goodbye I remember it well

These momentous days of saying goodbye to someone are engraved in our minds. One chapter ends and a new one begins, for better or worse. And it’s hard to say goodbye to something, because of fear. The fear of the unknown, the fear of other people’s opinions or the sadness that comes.

Once the Chorus kicks in, it takes a stock standard heavy rock track into AOR territory.

I took a look inside and I felt the great divide
In a world I fear that’s giving in to lies

The world was always giving in to lies. People believed what they read from the various newspapers and books. Reading critically is not easy, because it means you need to take another opposing view in mind. And people don’t want to take in a view that opposes their current beliefs.

And George Orwell is trending today on Twitter with this quote from 1984;

“Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. Which had not been merely altered it had been actually destroyed. Everything faded into the mist. The past is erased. The erasure was forgotten. The lie became truth”.

And that melodic harmony lead break in the Outro.

The emotions it evokes, just makes me press repeat. On the YouTube video clip its shortened, so make sure you get the 6 minute plus version, so you can hear this lead break repeated endlessly before it fades out.

The YouTube video clip on AFM records has over 104K views, while on Spotify it has 17,586 streams. The data tells me that the melodic metal fans prefer to sample free and buy, instead of paying a monthly fee for streaming.

Vanishing Point have been in the game for 23 years, mainly vocalist Silvio Massaro and guitarist Chris Porcianko. And it takes a while to get people to really recognise you. The way this song has grown on YouTube, no other song of theirs has had that same amount of growth in such a short period of time.

To compare, the excellent “When Truth Lies” from their 2014 album “Distant Is The Sun” is at 140K views on YouTube.

If you like melodic metal then “Count Your Days” is your fix.

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

Salvus

Its track 4 on the new Vanishing Point album, “Dead Elysium”. I’m presuming “Salvus” is a combination of Salvation and Us.

A few distorted chords, the orchestral synths and then a guitar lead. Just before the minute mark, it all becomes quiet, just a vocal melody and some choir synths.

Staring at the edge
Reaching out to the world
Feels like I’m alone

The way this section comes in, I felt like I was alone, at the edge of the world. The movie “City Of Angels” comes to mind, how the character played by Nicholas Cage, stands at the beach, at sunrise, listening to some choral symphony being played in the atmosphere.

Then the drums and bass come in, no guitar as yet, because when they do come in again at the 1.38 mark for the pre-chorus, they are effective.

You don’t have to change the world
I will keep you safe

With all that is happening in the world, it’s hard to even feel safe. No one really knows what is going on at the moment and in years to come, some of the decisions made will be looked back with agreeance or disagreement. The only thing I can do is promise to keep my loved ones safe.

Bring our dark to light

Kids these days have been sold a lie via social media. They constantly see posts of people in faraway places, smiling and laughing and they believe they need to have the same life. They don’t, but there is a FOMO effect happening here, the fear of missing out. Each person has a different journey in life, a different path to walk on. No paths are the same, even if the road they are on is the same.

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