Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

The Best Metal and Rock Top 10 for 2013

Well the year is almost over and it is time to look back at the albums that connected and hit the mark for 2013. Anyone who has been a constant visitor to this blog will notice that I have spoken about these albums in previous posts in more detail.

1. Protest The Hero – Volition

Disclaimer; I was one of those fans that contributed to this album, so the competition for the best album of 2013 wasn’t even close. Protest The Hero wins hands down. They delivered an album for the fans. It has everything that a condensed progressive technical metal album should have. Plus it has Chris Adler on drums. In 2011, “Scurrilous” was number seven on my list.

If you want the detailed breakdown, here it is;

This album also shows how the mainstream media is out of touch. Despite all the hype around Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, Korn and Black Sabbath, the biggest release of the year belongs to Protest The Hero.

And deservedly so.

They connected with their audience via Indiegogo. They have cut through all the internet noise without the need of major label. In the age of information overload, Protest The Hero relied on their audience and their music to get their message through.

2. Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King

Call this album what you will, however no one can take away the fact that it is a damn good listen. Having those nods to the past and building on those influences is what music is all about. In twenty years time, this album will be revered and copied, because that is how music is made.

3. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1

Part 1 is a killer classic metal album with arena melodic rock chorus. Watch You Bleed, Lift Me Up, The Wrong Side Of Heaven, Anywhere But Here are all rock sing a longs.

4. Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

Jesse Leach is back and man can he write a catchy chorus. Each song goes through so many vocal emotions, it’s one heck of a roller coaster. The Times Of Grace project brought Jesse back into the metal world. “The Hymn Of A Broken Man” was one great album and it was in my top 10 list for that year.

In 2009, I also had the self titled Killswitch Engage album at number five in my top 10 list.

5. TesserAcT – Altered State

This band is really branching out from the Djent constraints by embracing atmospheric style song writing. The math metal is still there and the vocals bring it all home. I have always said, TesseracT will be seen as the new Pink Floyd by a whole new generation. In 2011, TesseracT came in ninth position with the album “One”. I was pleasently surprised to see this one pop in Robb Flynn’s top 10 list.

6. Trivium – Vengeance Falls

Trivium have always had the balls to make decisions. Working with Dave Draiman is one of them. Seriously i cant see an issue with how the vocal melodies are phrased or delivered by Heafy. I really like this album. The music is top-notch and the songs are of high quality. In 2011, Trivium came in tenth position with the album “In Waves”.

7. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman – Descension

Another band that is employing data to connect with fans. They have been on the road since January and released two slabs of music within 3 months. This album doesn’t have Domino The Destitute, but it has Sentry The Defiant plus others.

8. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 2

A Day In My Life. Man that chorus just hooks me in. Put to the side the cliché rhyming from Moody and just focus on the musical melodies and you will be hooked as well. It’s been played on repeat on my iPhone on my way to work and on my way home.

“American Capitalist” was fifth in my 2011 list and “War Is The Answer” was 2nd in 2009, just behind “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” from Dream Theater.

9. Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies

I was a fan of this band before they broke through in the U.S. It was the “Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil” album from 2007 that made me a fan. I was really looking forward to this release and the band didn’t disappoint. It has all of their trademarks with a dash of country and hillbilly thrown into the mix.

10. Alter Bridge – Fortress

Mark Tremonti is one hell of a guitar player and most importantly a hell of a songwriter. Teaming up with Myles Kennedy has been a godsend. Alter Bridge get better with each album and they rarely fail to disappoint.

Notable Mentions

Audrey Horne – Youngblood

If you don’t know this band, you should. I swear every genre of music and time period associated with music is heard on this album. Give this band the attention they deserve. Their whole catalogue is on Spotify so there is no excuse to not check them out. Any band that is from Norway and with a black metal post deserves to be heard in a hard rock context.

Mutiny Within – Synchronicity

The only thing holding this band back is what their definition of success is and Chris Clancy. He is so hung up on fighting for the old system and how it used to be, he is failing to see opportunities in front of him.

Hearts And Hands – My Own Machine

A great pop metal or pop rock album. Hearts and Hands started off as a side project for Chelsea Grin vocalist Alex Koehler. However since he departed after their 2012 self titled EP, the band has undergone a significant transformation and their sound has shifted away from breakdowns and screams to effected guitars, acoustics and great songs.

Love and Death – Between Here and The Lost

A hundred times better than the new Korn album. They even sound like Korn on some of the songs. Brian Head Welch is a star and this album proves it.

Sound Of Contact – Dimensionaut

Progressive Rock and a voice that sounds very similar to Phil Collins. Plus any album that has a concept attached to it, always gets my attention. Its plot follows an alienated, unnamed human who is tired of humanity and embraces his fate as a traveler of dimensions, time and galaxies. Throughout the story, the dimensionaut constructs his escape from reality, realizing new experiences and encountering love in the process.

Faith Circus – Turn Up The Band

If this band had the same attention as Avenged Sevenfold, critics would come out and comment how each song sounds like a rip off from every successful glam rock and blues rock album made in the Eighties. Music is derivative and Faith Circus deliver. It is a great listen from start to finish. Another band from Norway that deserves your attention.

Final Notable Mentions

Due to my kids overdosing on the music I placed on their iPods certain classic rock albums have come back into my life.

Twisted Sister – You Cant Stop Rock N Roll
Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
Kiss – Lick It Up
Kiss – Asylum
Kiss – Destroyer
Deep Purple – Machine Head
Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet
Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
Europe – The Final Countdown

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

Hands In The Sky Big Shot – Great Music Will Live On Forever

I have been on a Sons Of Anarchy binge lately. Just recently I finished Season 2 and the final episode had an unbelievable piece of music that complemented and enhanced the desperation of the final scenes. You need to see it, to understand what I mean.

Of course I wanted to know more about this piece of music. So I Google “Sons of Anarchy Season 2 Music”. I come across a WIKIA page that shows me each episode and the songs that played on each episode. I click on the final episode of Season 2 and I see that the last song listed is from a band called “Straylight Run” and that the song is called “Hands In The Sky”.

So I go onto YouTube, type in the band name, and there it is. I came across 16 videos with a combined play count of 1,498,818. Spotify streams have the count as 110,507.

I want to go deeper, because that is what we do, when we come across something that connects with us.

The song was released on an EP, called “Prepare To Be Wrong” from 2005. God damn. I am hearing this song in 2013. That is 8 years after its release.

The audience (both legal and illegal) who watched “Sons Of Anarchy” on December 1, 2009 heard the song for the first time. If you dig deeper you will see that the actual song hit YouTube from December 4, 2009, which is right after the “Sons Of Anarchy” episode.

By February 2010, the band went on indefinite hiatus due to money complications. This is strange, especially when “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” was doing the rounds courtesy of the TV show.

Of course, with Victory Records being the label that released the EP, it would be safe to assume that Victory Records would have kept their reputation intact by pocketing handsomely and not giving a cent to Straylight Run.

Straylight Run started off on Victory Records due to a contract that John Nolan and Shaun Cooper had with the label courtesy of their other band “Taking Back Sunday.” That contract was fulfilled with the EP release in 2005. Then Universal Republic picked them up for their 2007 release “The Needles The Space” only to be dropped when vocalist, guitarist and pianist Michelle DaRosa left. They went all independent for their next two EP releases and then called it a day after that.

Great music will always be found. “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” will live on forever. It is now a part of pop culture. It really captured the desperation of the scenes and now I can’t stop playing the song, along with Neil Young’s “Hey, Hey, My, My” which was used to close Season 3.

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

The Music Industry Is A Competitive Marketplace. Just ask “Burning Yesterday”.

I have had some music laying around that I earmarked once upon a time for a re-listen in a proper way. Proper to me in this day and age means headphones.

Burning Yesterday is the first band and their album from 2009, “We Create Monsters Not Machines.” Burning Yesterday is based in Nashville. The sound is polished and for an independent band, they sure sound like a major label act. All the songs are pretty solid.

If you like bands like Red, Papa Roach, Breaking Benjamin, Skillet and Disciple then you would rate this album very highly. If you don’t mind those bands, then you will not mind this album. If you don’t like those bands, then you will not like this album.

From all the bashing that the album format has gotten, one thing I do like are the connections. For example, on this album Robert Venable was the producer. For those that do not know, Robert Venable has worked on the following albums;

  • Megadeth – The System Has Failed
  • Spoken – Illusion
  • Love and Death – Between Here & Lost
  • Disciple – Horseshoes And Handgrenades
  • Disciple – O God Save Us All
  • Seventh Day Slumber – Love and Worship
  • Seventh Day Slumber – Anthem Of Angels

A point of interest is that in their electronic bio, it states the following;
“We Create Monsters Not Machines” was produced by Travis Wyrick (P.O.D., Disciple, Pillar, Since October, 10 Years).”

CD Baby also states the above comments, while Allmusic and Wikipedia has the producer as Robert Venable. My interpretation is that Travis Wyrick was used in a songwriter/executive producer role, while the actual album was produced by Robert Venable.

So if the album is good (and it is that good that it made my Top 20 for the year) why didn’t it set the world on fire? The answer is simple. COMPETITION IN THE MARKETPLACE and TIME.

2009 was a tough year for any new artist releasing music. Actually every year is a tough year for any new band. For the fan base that Burning Yesterday is trying to appeal to, they had to compete against the following bands and their releases for that year;

  • Red – Innocence and Instinct
  • Pillar – Confessions
  • Breaking Benjamin – Dear Agony
  • Casting Crowns – Until The Whole World Hears
  • Thirty Seconds To Mars – This Is War
  • Seether – Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces
  • Daughtry – Leave This Town
  • Stryper – Murder By Pride
  • Chevelle – SciFi Crimes
  • Veer Union – Against The Grain
  • Adelitas Way – Adelitas Way
  • Three Days Grace – Life Starts Now
  • Skillet – Awake
  • Madina Lake – Attics To Eden
  • Halestorm – Halestorm
  • Thousand Foot Krutch – Welcome To The Masquerade
  • Smile Empty Soul – Consciousness
  • Decyfer Down – Crash Love
  • Ten Second Epic – Hometown
  • Cavo – Bright Nights, Dark Days
  • Papa Roach – Metamorphosis
  • Muse – The Resistance
  • Burn Halo – Burn Halo

The thing is I could go on forever about similar sounding bands and styles that had reasonably good albums released in 2009. For any artist that is starting out, piracy should not be their biggest concern. Their biggest concern should be competition. How do they compete in the market place in this day and age. Piracy should be used as a metric of demand.

So Burning Yesterday spend their time and money on getting a good production team and recording an album of good tunes. They actually entered the studio with producer Travis Wyrick in 2007. The album came out at the start of 2009. So they release it into a market place, that is saturated with hundreds of new releases on a daily basis. Apart from the core audience who are aware of the band, it doesn’t spread.

My view has always been the same. Musicians are entrepreneurs. They are people who organize and operate a business, taking on the financial risk to do so. They have to give people a reason to buy their product against all the other competing products. The Michael Jackson superstar business model created by the record labels in the early Eighties is dead and buried. It is never coming back. Different superstars will rise within different genres and communities, however they are the ones that will need to create the buzz.

The days of record labels breaking really great bands to the public are over. It is the bands that need to break themselves. Sure, Record Labels can be useful as distribution agents, however the final marketing starts and ends with the band.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Copyright, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Uprising – This Revolution Is Calling For War. The spying on people controversy done in a Rock N Roll way.

As fans of music, we always looked to our heroes and the artists we liked for inspiration. So what would Queensryche say on the current state of the world and the spying on U.S citizens by its own government? The song Speak is from the Operation Mindcrime album, released in 1988.

The rich control the government, the media the law

1988 was a time when hard rock ruled the day, and the bands at the forefront had the whole rock n roll cliché surrounding them. You know the one, party hard, sleep with groupies, trash hotels and eventually get together to perform live and record.

Queensryche on the other hand simmered under the surface, focusing on issues that affected everyone, however at that time in 1988, we were all blind to it.

Revolution Calling led the way with the words;

Got no love for politicians
Or that crazy scene in D.C
It’s just a power mad town

Let’s look at some recent events making the news. Copyright czar, Victoria Espinel, is best known for playing a large role in the SECRET negotiations between Hollywood and the recording industries to punish internet users under a six strikes initiative. She has know taken up a job with one of the groups that used to lobby her office.

Let’s reword the Revolution Calling verse;

Got no love for corruption
As everyone sells their soul in D.C
It’s just a knife in the back town

Later on, Geoff Tate summed up American corruption in Spreading the Disease. In 2013, people actually care, however they should have cared back in 1988.

Religion and sex are power plays,
Manipulate the people for the money they pay.
Selling skin, selling God
The numbers look the same on their credit cards
Politicians say no to drugs
While we pay for wars in South America
Fighting fire with empty words
While the banks get fat and the poor stay poor
And the rich get rich and the cops get paid to look away
As the one percent rules America.

Let’s reword the above lyrics in the following way;

Copyright Infringement is a power play
To shakedown the people and to get them to pay
Lobbying hard, bribing all
As the numbers need to look good on their balance sheets
Politicians say no to piracy
While judges allow copyright trolls to extort
Fighting fire with empty words
While the banks get bailed and the poor stay poor
And the rich get rich and the cops get paid to act for them
As the one percent still rules America

Does anyone remember the shutdown of MegaUpload in January 2012? Yep, the FBI was in charge of the shutdown, based on evidence provided to it by the Hollywood Movie Studios and the MPAA. Talk about cops doing the bidding for the wealthy. Isn’t it funny how Victoria Espinel, now has a job with a lobby group that used to lobby her department!

Another recent event is how a cyber-locker like Hotfile was found to be personally liable for facilitating copyright infringement. In a nutshell a judge in the U.S. Courts, found a business entity that provides a cloud service liable for how users choose to use it. Of course, Hotfile was no saint in this matter, however, what Hotfile did show is that Hollywood still doesn’t get it, when it comes to servicing the people or fans of content.

Finally, Grooveshark has achieved licensing agreements with Sony and EMI. So for years, the record labels pursued them in the courts, while also sending Google millions of takedown requests. A court in Denmark even ordered that the ISP’s block access to Grooveshark. WHY? The site was providing a service to customers by allowing the users to stream and upload music that they can play immediately or add to a playlist. However the record labels wants the music to be licensed, which means that Grooveshark needs to pay a fee. So if you are a user and you have uploaded music that you have purchased legally, why should you need to pay a monthly fee for it to license it.

Makes me think of the excellent Metallica song, Eye of The Beholder from the ..And Justice For All album also released in 1988. It looks like something was afoot around this period, as both Metallica and Queensryche touched on the same subject matter. They even toured together.

Independence limited
Freedom of choice is made for you my friend
Freedom of speech is words that they will bend
Freedom with their exception

The “they” in the song can be the Corporations, the lobby groups, the judges, the government. As Warren Buffett said, the class war is already over and the rich have won. The 1 percent own all the important land and they either own or control the corporations. In the process, they have also purchased the Politicians and the Judges. They also own the big media companies, so they control what news we get. THAT IS WHY they fear the INTERNET. They spend millions on lobbying, so that they get what they want, which is more wealth for them and less for everybody else.

Where is the voice of the people, like the song Vox Populi from 30 Seconds To Mars, that was released on their excellent, This Is War album in 2009.

This is a call to arms
Gather soldiers
Time to go to war
This is a battle song
Brothers and sisters
Time to go to war

And the story ends with the lyrics of Uprising from Muse, that was released on Resistance in 2009. In the same way that Queensryche and Metallica touched on similar themes in 1988, Muse and Thirty Seconds To Mars did the same in 2009.

Rise up and take the power back
It’s time that the fat cats had a heart attack
You know that their time is coming to an end
We have to unify and watch our flag ascend

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

Amen.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Back in 1989, Derek Oliver said the following; Dream Theater: one of the most innovative bands in town.

I am re-reading a Kerrang interview that Derek Oliver conducted with Dream Theater back in 1989. It has the title; PROG ROCK LIVES… RUN TO THE HILLS.

Yes, that is the same Derek Oliver that negotiated Dream Theater’s deal with Atco and the same Derek Oliver, that had a song written in his name.

Pull Me Under originally had the working title of “Oliver’s Twist”. It was a last minute song written at the request of Derek Oliver. The original version also had the unbelievable solo section from Erotomania in it. Pull Me Under was so good, that John Petrucci used the 1st verse riff of Pull Me Under in The Count Of Tuscany 1st Verse from the album, Black Clouds and Silver Linings released in 2009. He also used the songs structure for the song On The Backs Of Angels from the album A Dramatic Turn Of Events released in 2011.

“They stand alone. Unique in their quest for musical perfection. Dream Theater have no boundaries. Their frontier terminates at the edge of infinity. Not surprisingly, yours truly has taken to this band like a fish to water.”

He is a fan, and in two years’ time this fan would play a major part in breaking Dream Theater to the masses. See what fans can do for a band. Throughout the article, Oliver is full of praise of the band. He introduces the band’s new album, When Dream and Day Unite and covers the Dream Theater backstory from 1985. Oliver also touches on the name change from Majesty to Dream Theater and the reasons behind it. Most importantly the article finishes with the following comment; “Dream Theater: one of the most innovative bands in town.”

There it is. The magic word. Innovative. To be successful, you’ve got to change something that is not working. To remain successful, you need to keep on changing something that is not working.

Why did Apple become a giant in the first place?. Innovation. Why did Apple fade from view after 1985? Lack of innovation. Why did Apple become a giant again from 1999? Innovation. Why is Apple fading again since 2011? Lack of innovation.

On the day that I purchased When Dream and Day Unite, I also purchased the Watchtower album Control and Resistance. Watchtower had guitarist Ron Jarzombek and to be honest, he was one technically wired maestro. I listened to Watchtower’s album and was blown away by the technicality of it. Then I put on Dream Theater’s album and was blown away by the technicality and the songs.

This is in 1989. At that time, hard rock was ruling the charts and the sales. Every band more or less sounded the same. The ones that innovated, ending up breaking through and remaining.

So the album comes out, the label Mechanix does nothing with it, the band doesn’t tour behind it and compared to the numbers that other bands achieved in 1989, the album was classed a failure. Remember to be successful, you’ve got to change something that is not working.

Vocalist, Charlie Domicini was let go. At first the band focused on trying to find a new singer. During this time, they also focused on writing better songs. Most bands normally have 3 months to come out with album number 2. Dream Theater in this case had 2 years. Furthermore, their sound evolved from the technical derivative metal sound on When Dream and Day Unite, to a more warmer sound, rooted in classic progressive rock.

Remember to be successful you need to change something that is not working. In this case Dream Theater changed vocalists, their sound, their song structures and in the end they change labels as well.

Mike Portnoy also said in the interview that most styles of music tend to go around in cycles and he thought it was about the right time for Dream Theater’s sound to make an impact.

There it is. The second magic word. The Right Time.

Let’s look at the competition in 1989. Dream Theater needed to compete against bands that released albums in 1987 and in 1988, as well as bands that released albums in 1989. That is a lot of music there to compete against. Was 1989 the right time for Dream Theater? Of course not. Look at the list below.

1987 – Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction
1987 – Ozzy Osbourne – Tribute
1987 – Whitesnake – Whitesnake
1987 – Def Leppard – Hysteria
1987 – Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls
1987 – Kiss – Crazy Nights
1987 – White Lion – Pride
1988 – Poison – Open Up and Say Ahh,
1988 – Bon Jovi – New Jersey
1988 – David Lee Roth – Skyscraper
1988 – Megadeth – So Far, So Good… So What
1988 – AC/DC – Blow Up Your Video
1988 – Kingdom Come – Kingdom Come
1988 – Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
1988 – Scorpions – Savage Amusement
1988 – Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime
1988 – Van Halen – OU812
1988 – Stryper – In God We Trust
1988 – Slayer – South Of Heaven
1988 – Cinderella – Long Cold Winter
1988 – Britny Fox – Britny Fox
1988 – Danzig – Danzig
1988 – Europe – Out Of This World
1988 – Winger – Winger
1988 – Metallica …And Justice For All
1988 – Anthrax – State Of Euphoria
1988 -Ozzy Osbourne – No Rest For The Wicked
1988 – BulletBoys – BulletBoys
1988 – U2 – Rattle and Hum
1988 – Guns N Roses – Lies
1989 – Skid Row – Skid Row
1989 – After the War – Gary Moore
1989 – The Great Radio Controversy – Tesla
1989 – Extreme – Extreme
1989 – ..Twice Shy – Great White
1989 – The Headless Children – W.A.S.P.
1989 – Headless Cross – Black Sabbath
1989 – Blue Murder – Blue Murder
1989 – Dangerous Toys – Dangerous Toys
1989 – Badlands – Badlands
1989 – Repeat Offender – Richard Marx
1989 – Big Game – White Lion
1989 – Bad English – Bad English
1989 – Danger Danger – Danger Danger
1989 – The End of the Innocence – Don Henley
1989 – Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich – Warrant
1989 – Trash – Alice Cooper
1989 – Practice What You Preach – Testament
1989 – Trouble in Angel City – Lion
1989 – Perfect Symmetry – Fates Warning
1989 – Mother’s Milk – Red Hot Chili Peppers
1989 – Conspiracy – King Diamond
1989 – Enuff Z’nuff – Enuff Z’nuff
1989 – Cocked & Loaded – L.A. Guns
1989 – Dr. Feelgood – Mötley Crüe
1989 – Alice in Hell – Annihilator
1989 – Gretchen Goes to Nebraska – King’s X
1989 – The Real Thing – Faith No More
1989 – Mr. Big – Mr. Big
1989 – Slowly We Rot – Obituary
1989 – Bleach – Nirvana
1989 – The Offspring – The Offspring
1989 – Alice in Hell – Annihilator
1989 – Louder Than Love – Soundgarden
1989 – Wake Me When It’s Over – Faster Pussycat
1989 – Pump – Aerosmith
1989 – Let Love Rule – Lenny Kravitz
1989 – Seasons End – Marillion
1989 – The Seeds of Love – Tears for Fears
1989 – Trouble Walkin’ – Ace Frehley
1989 – The Years of Decay – Overkill
1989 – Nothingface – Voivod
1989 – Long Hard Look – Lou Gramm
1989 – Storm Front – Billy Joel
1989 – Hot in the Shade – Kiss
1989 – Pretty Hate Machine – Nine Inch Nails
1989 – Flying in a Blue Dream – Joe Satriani
1989 – Slip of the Tongue – Whitesnake
1989 -…But Seriously – Phil Collins
1989 – Presto – Rush
1989 – Gutter Ballet – Savatage

So fast forward to 1992. Based on the competition, fate would have that 1992 was the right time for Dream Theater to explode. I have always said that the bands that remain successful are the ones that outlast the competition. Let’s see the competition that Dream Theater had for listeners attention.
1991 – Metallica – Metallica
1991 – Skid Row – Slave To The Grind
1991 – Guns N Roses – Use Your Illusion I and II
1991 – Nirvana – Nevermind
1991 – Pearl Jam – Ten
1991 – Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
1991 – Alice Cooper – Hey Stoopid
1991 – Rush – Roll The Bones
1991 – Tesla – Psychotic Supper
1991 – Ozzy Osbourne – No More Tears
1991 – Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
1991 – Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger
1992 – Alice In Chains – Sap
1992 – Pantera – Vulgar Display Of Power
1992 – Kings X – Kings X
1992 – Tool – Opiate
1992 – White Zombie – La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol 1
1992 – Def Leppard – Adrenalize
1992 – Yngwie Malmsteen – Fire and Ice
1992 – Slaughter – The Wild Life
1992 – Iron Maiden – Fear Of The Dark
1992 – Testament – The Ritual
1992 – Kiss – Revenge
1992 – WASP – The Crimson Idol
1992 – Firehouse – Hold Your Fire
1992 – Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer
1992 – Helmet – Meantime
1992 – Megadeth – Countdown To Extinction
1992 – Danzig – Danzig III: How The Gods Kill
1992 – Warrant – Dog Eat Dog
1992 – Ugly Kid Joe – America’s Least Wanted
1992 – Extreme – III Sides To Every Story
1992 – Alice In Chains – Dirt
1992 – Soul Asylum – Grave Dancers Union
1992 – REM – Automatic For The People
1992 – Prince – Love Symbol Album
1992 – Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine

Notice the diminished presence of hard rock music in the above list. Hard Rock music is a big reason why 1989 didn’t work out for Dream Theater. Fans of rock music got sledgehammered with substandard hard rock releases in 1989, as the record labels tried their best to cash in on a movement that was starting its own self implosion. Dream Theater was just lost in the mix.

So what do the hard rock fans in 1992 do? At this point in time they are starved of quality hard rock releases. Some of them jump onto the Seattle movement. Some go back and re-discover the past. The rest go in search of something that is similar to what they have known.

Enter Dream Theater with Images and Words. The album was unique and innovative to remain rooted to the prog rock niche that Derek Oliver spoke about in 1989 and it was familiar enough to cross over to the hard rock audience, looking for something new and exciting.

So to remain successful, you need to keep on changing something that is not working. The Kevin Moore situation was unexpected to the rest of the band and because of that, they had to make a decision on the fly. That is when Derek Sherinian was hired.

Fame also produced record label expectations and all of that came to a head with the Falling Into Infinity project and tour of 1997/98. Something had to change.

Jordan Rudess was in, Derek Sherinian was out. The role of Producer shifted from hired outsiders to Portnoy and Petrucci. Finally, an ultimatum was given to the label, do not get involved in the songs that we create.

What came next? Metropolis II: Scenes Of A Memory. A truly innovative album. It had the hard rock vibe that Dream Theater is renowned for, it had the progressive rock vibe and more importantly, it had that connection with the current musical climate, referencing bands like Tool and Alice In Chains.

How can you top it? Easy, do a double album that is even more innovative. Say hello to Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence.

By the time 2003 came around, the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal was in full swing. So what do Dream Theater do? Create a metal masterpiece in Train Of Thought. Another album that was rooted in so many different styles and an album that still remained unique to the progressive rock movement.

Then came another unexpected change with the departure of Mike Portnoy in 2010 and again Dream Theater had to make a decision on the fly.

It’s 2013. Dream Theater are about to release their first self-titled album. In this current environment, music is getting released left, right and centre. Independent DIY bands are competing against label funded bands. Is Dream Theater still one of the most innovative bands in town?

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Music, Treating Fans Like Shit

Queensryche is nothing without Chris DeGarmo.

I really, really, really liked this band.  Note the emphasis on the three really’s.  They started off as a normal metal band, with a singer in Geoff Tate that had a unique voice for the metal genre.  The musical style of the band evolved much the same way my musical tastes evolved during the Eighties, so it was perfect.

I have been forming an opinion on Queensryche, since Chris DeGarmo left in January 1998, after the 1997 Hear In The Now Frontier album.

After listening to what Geoff Tate has released recently with his Kings and Queens solo album and his F.U Queensryche offering, and also listening to the new song Redemption that the Queensryche/Todd LaTorre fronted version released, I can say without a doubt, that the star in Queensryche was Chris DeGarmo.

To be honest, I purchased all the Queensryche releases up to American Soldier.  That is what fans did once upon a time, and none of the new stuff stacks up.  The songs are forgettable and the music even more so.  I thought that Operation Mindcrime II would be a savior, however that failed to get my attention as well.  Who knew at the time that it came out, that session musicians played on it.

For those that don’t know the story so far, Geoff Tate was fired from Queensryche.  He countered that firing by saying that he is Queensryche, so how can they fire him from the band that he lived and breathed.

Stories continued to come out, about violent punch ups before a South American show, involving Geoff Tate vs the rest of the band members, about how the band members haven’t even played on any of the newer Queensryche releases even though they are credited and so on.  Just go to Loudwire, search for Queensryche and you will be filled in.

They have filed injunctions against each other and I am pretty sure if they could throw each other under a bus, they would.  This is one of those bad blood split ups, more controversial than Vince Neil’s ousting from Motley Crue or David Lee Roth’s ousting from Van Halen.

I saw Queensryche at the Metro Theater in Sydney back in 2009, August 31.  The band at the time was the original four, with Tate’s son in law Parker Lundgren on guitars.  What can I say, they killed it.  The Metro is a small venue, it was sold out.  1,200 people paid $90 to watch them.

They did songs from Rage For Order, Empire and American Soldier.  That was cool, because they promoted the shows that way as well, so people knew what they were paying for.   The American Soldier songs became toilet breaks.

Keeping bands together is a tough gig in itself.  Don Henley said that it was a horrible relief when the Eagles broke up.  That more or less sums it up.  On one hand, the break up feels like shit, you are sad and you are on the angry, but on the other hand, you are relieved its over, you are free, you can start over again.

What is pathetic in all of this, is that the fans are being treated like shit.  Both bands do not deserve the name of Queensryche.  They should have taken a new name, however both versions know, that they need the Queensryche name to sell themselves.

One thing is clear in my mind, Queensryche will always be Chris DeGarmo for me.

It looks even that is not working.   F.U debuted at #74, with 5,500 units sold, last week.  Week 2 saw it at #173 with 2,275 sold.  By week 3 it will be gone.  So expect Tate to start spitting out some controversial comments, so that he can get free press come his way.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Brokenpromisedland – A classic Bon Jovi song waiting to be discovered

Brokenpromisedland

The best song on the 2009 album The Circle is Brokenpromisedland.  This song was written by Bon Jovi, Sambora, John Shanks and Desmond Child.  Actually John Shanks also had a co-write with Bon Jovi and Sambora for This Is Love, This is Life. 

Angels falling from the sky
Imagine that imagine that
Nobody getting out of here alive
No turning back no turning back
Who’s going to bail out all our shattered dreams
And scrape some truth off of these city streets
No time for praying get up off your knees

The GFC left a lot of people shattered and broken.  As an artist, there was plenty of subject matter there for songs.  What was done by the corrupt powers that be, has been done.  We the people need to scrape ourselves back off the floor and start again.

Most of the songs on The Circle album sounded forced to me, except for this song.  It was the only one that felt natural.  The other songs could have been hits if they were sung by a band that lived through the GFC from the other side of the tracks.  Songs like Work for The Working Man and We Weren’t Born To Follow are good songs but it didn’t sound right coming from Jon Bon Jovi, who charges a really high premium to be a JBJBackstage member, who charges really high prices on meet and greets and section A concert tickets and does anyone remember that whole debacle with Skid Row back in the late eighties.   This is the one where Skid Row signed with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora back when the Skid’s were just starting out.  Essentially, Bon Jovi and Sambora ended up owning Skid Row’s publishing rights.  This was no biggie at the time of the contract being signed, but then when the Skid Row album went five times platinum, it was.  Sambora eventually gave his share of the deal back to Skid Row but Bon Jovi, didn’t.

Basically if mp3’s and Napster didn’t change the way music is consumed, Bon Jovi wouldn’t have done these large scale world tours ever again.  During a 10 year period between 1994 and 2004, Bon Jovi didn’t even do a proper tour of Australia at all.  Australian Bon Jovi fans are one of the largest and most loyal fan bases the band has and they ignored Australia during this period, playing special one off shows for certain festivals and just in one state.  It’s like playing one show in New York and expecting LA people to attend it.

They were content on the income coming in from record / CD sales, publishing and radio royalties.  Well that income has dried up and they need to earn their money the old fashion way, which means they have to hit the road.  Anyway I digress.    Back to Brokenpromisedland.

No one bailed us out during this period.  The working man got nothing except pain.  A whole lotta pain.

There’s hope I know
Out on that lonely road
Cause home is where you are and where I am
Breathe in breathe out
There’s only now
And all I got I’m holding in my hands
We’re breaking out of brokenpromisedland

We live, we work, we get paid, we have large houses on a poor man’s wage.  When all that goes to hell, all that we have left is what we hold in our hands.  It could be our kids, a suitcase, a loved one or some memories of what we could salvage.  It becomes our most cherished possession.

Let’s close our eyes and just disappear
Slip through the cracks no looking back
We’ll get a million miles away from here
And let the past just fade to black
So what you learn to live with your regrets
No need to fear what hasn’t happened yet
Life will get you but you can’t forget

Australia wasn’t that bad during the GFC.  Our banks remained stable and our jobs remained.  But what it did do was make us realise that we need to change.  We needed to re-evaluate what is important to us.  If we couldn’t afford the large house, down size it.  It’s okay to do so.  It made us realise that we are not beholden to people’s judgements.  We needed to do what we needed to do and what benefited us so that we don’t end up on our arse.

How many nights between 2008 and 2009 I just wished I was at any other place except the place I was at.  I always wanted to live my life with no ‘what if’s’ however a lot of what if’s came into my life during this period.  It is not something I regret, I have learned to live with the choices I made based on the information I had at that time.

Every time I hear Brokenpromisedland, all those emotions from 2008 to 2009 come back to me and I smile.  I made it through to the other side and I can still smile.  During that time I had a wife, a 4 year old, a 3 year old and a shell of a home.  I still have my wife, my 4 year old is now turning 8, my 3 year old is now turning 7, my 1 year old will be turning 2 and the shell of a home is my family home.  I broke out of the broken promised land and made my own promised land, so far removed from what the establishments want.

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