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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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy

How bad can piracy be? A Case Study involving Protest The Hero, Iron Maiden and Digital Summer.

The MPAA and the RIAA are trying their best to stop all file-sharing services. They still don’t realise that the moment they shut one down through legal action, several more appear in its place. 

The RIAA has shut down Napster, Kazaa and Limewire. The MPAA has gone to the ISP level, first trying to get verdicts that ISP’s facilitate copyright infringement, then trying to get personal information of ISP customers for copyright trolling lawsuits. When that got complicated, they resorted to getting blockades against certain websites. They have even resorted to using law enforcement agencies to shut down “rogue” websites (MegaUpload comes to mind).

So with all the activity going on, has file sharing ceased? Nope. Sharing still happens. 

I just went onto The Pirate Bay and typed in “Iron Maiden”. The discography is available for downloading and it is free. There are 840 seeders and 290 leechers. So is this illegal sharing of Iron Maiden’s music bad? Is it harming the band?

Okay, so Iron Maiden is a “big” band and they broke through in the Eighties on the back of the dreaded “Record Label”. People can argue that the impact of piracy to a band of Iron Maiden’s stature is minimal. In 2011, Iron Maiden played 33 shows and had total gross earnings of $33,085,671. Yep, that’s right, they grossed $33MIL. The band is still signed to a major label and they have full control of their merchandising deals.

They are on Spotify and “Fear Of The Dark” is leading the way with 16.74 million streams.

What about bands that where on a major label and are now classed as independent? I typed in “Protest The Hero” into The Pirate Bay search engine. Their 2011 album, “Scurrilous” is available for downloading and it is free. There are 64 seeders and 3 leechers. Their 2008 album, “Fortress” is available for downloading and it is free. There are 48 seeders and 1 leecher. So is this illegal sharing of Protest The Hero’s music bad?

Between January and February, 2013, Protest The Hero had a Indiegogo campaign with the following slogan: “Protest The Hero – New Album. We have completed all of our obligations to record labels. It’s time to go it alone and take control of our careers. It’s now or never!”

The goal was $125,000. By the time funding finished, the band raised $341,146. Yep, that’s right. They almost tripled their funding goal. All up 8361 backers.

What about independent DIY bands? I typed in “Digital Summer” into The Pirate Bay search engine. The discography is available for downloading and it is free. There are 12 seeders and 3 leechers. So is this illegal sharing of Digital Summer’s music bad?

In 2012, Digital Summer had a Kickstarter campaign to give fans the opportunity to contribute to the release of their next album (which ended up becoming Breaking Point) in exchange for cool incentives and it also helped the band raise the money they need to finish the album and market it nationwide THE RIGHT WAY. They had a goal of $25,000. They got 340 backers and raised $51,080.

So is this illegal sharing (12 seeders = 12 people) of Digital Summer’s music bad? Is it harming the band?

The band released “Breaking Point”, toured behind it and are now prepping an acoustic album.

The unbelievers would say that the guys from Digital Summer all hold down day jobs, so the RIAA must be correct in their viewpoint as artists are not making enough money solely from the activities in the music business.

If you listen to the stories from the RIAA, you would believe that piracy is harming everything to do with music and this is so far from the truth, it hurts just to think it.

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

Semi Obscure Machine Head songs

Getting dropped by Roadrunner U.S after the Supercharger album saved Machine Head. The first album Burn My Eyes (released in 1994) was a success. For a debut album Machine Head went on a three year victory lap. The second album The More Things Change (released in 1997) stagnated.

In order to keep their deal with Roadrunner Records going they had to resort to the metal music that was popular at the time. In this case it was Nu Metal. The Burning Red (released in 1999) and Supercharger (released in 2001) came and went during this period.

Then the band got dropped. They even got rejected by every record label they approached for a new deal.

They could have broken up. Instead they went away and wrote Through The Ashes of Empires (released in 2003) which they self-produced. Just like how Rush’s, 2112 laid the foundations of what was to come for Rush, Through The Ashes of Empires did the same for Machine Head.

The lifestyle of a musician isn’t just rags to riches. It cycles back to rags and then back to riches and back again. I always use the Apple analogy. Apple was a leader when it came out on the scene. Then it was going out of business. Then the company got Steve Jobs back in and it became a leader again. In the process, it changed the way live and how we consume music. Now it is running on fumes again.

The list of songs you are about to read are cult favourites. They are not the songs that Machine Head will put into a concert set list every time, however they deserve the same attention as the big ones.

Left Unfinished released in 2003 on Through The Ashes of Empires.

Lyrics and music are written by Robb Flynn. It starts off with the creepy tinker box music. Robb Flynn was adopted at birth. He told LA Weekly that for the longest time he hated his biological parents and never wanted anything to do with them. He wrote this song as a “F.U” to them.

After the tinker box music, a Pantera groove kicks in.

How Korn like are the verses? All the way from the vocal melody to the phased/flanged/tremolo’d guitars to the bass hitting the note and sliding the finger down to the hip hop groove of the drums.

The chorus again is a standout, with the perfect backing vocals of Adam Duce.

I’ll never forget
Life you disdain
So to the parents that bore me this pain
With all those things you left unfinished

This is real life, this is real hurt. This isn’t no Bon Jovi song written by a committee. It isn’t pretty. It is the anthem for all the other kids given up for adoption. I can never relate to the lyrical theme of the song however I can relate to the pain. Pain doesn’t discriminate. It affects us all. The abandonment that Robb feels can be translated to the abandonment a kid feels when the school bully lays into him or her.

You never could love me
I’m glad that you never did
My parents that raised me
Had plenty of that to give
And for that
I’ll love them forever with all my heart
But to you don’t let there be no mistake about it
F.U you cocksucker F.U, you whore
I’ll live my life the opposite of what you are
Love will be my rock
The rock that I stand on

It’s all there. The exorcism of a childhood denied from one set of parents to the childhood obtained from another set of parents. I can’t help but make the connection to Queensryche and Chris DeGarmo’s Bridge, which served as his exorcism of being abandoned by his father.

Don’t try to reach out to me
Don’t try to call
The boy that you created
Is dead for all you f&@king know
You just pretend you’ve never heard or seen
The name Lawrence Mathew Cardine

Wow. The world knows him as Robert Conrad Flynn. However his birth certificate states Lawrence Matthew Cardine. I have seen Robb perform with Machine Head on three occasions in Australia, and he commands the stage. When he says the words, the circle pit gets into a frenzy. You would never pick up on his wounded past.

We are all damaged a little bit. The ones that make it through the heartache and the depression end up changing the world.

As I have said many times, you cannot copy the vocal style of Robb Flynn. You need to have lived his lifestyle to have his vocal style. To me it is the best voice in the metal genre. He can be melodic in a Rob Halford /Bruce Dickinson way, he can be aggressive in a James Hetfield way, he can be progressive in a Jonathan Davis/Maynard Keenan way, he can be hardcore in a Phil Anselmo way and he can be deathly in a Chuck Schuldiner way.

In a world where everyone believes they are a winner, a world-beater who feels entitled to success, you have Robb Flynn the anti-hero to the victorious life portrayed by the fakes. The maestro Flynn who has more questions than answers.

People like Robb Flynn and Corey Taylor have made it through and they are changing the world.

Descend The Shades Of Night released in 2003 on Through The Ashes of Empires

Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn and Dave McClain. It’s my favourite song on the album.

What can I say, when I heard this song I was in a bad place. The acoustic intro is so sad and depressing. The reason why this song connected with me, is knowing that there are other people out there feeling the same way.

Sitting in the empty black
The last slivers of dusk have passed
Accept the dawn to ease the fear
One day I will not be here

They don’t teach you about death in school. They don’t tell that death can come at any time. You feel invincible when you are 18. As you get older you start to think about death a bit more.

The lead break from Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn for some reason reminds me of Tesla. I know, they are two separate bands from two totally different time periods and genre’s, however the whole passage and even coming into the harmony guitars, just reminds of The Great Radio Controversy from Tesla released in 1988.

Then the sing with me part is up lifting.

It is the humanity in the song, knowing that Robb Flynn has got more questions than answers. We can put on a happy face and we can get along with those at work but what we really want to do is let go, be ourselves and be accepted.

Pearls Before The Swine released in 2011 on Unto The Locust

It’s a Robb Flynn, Phil Demmel and Dave McClain composition.

It’s the familiarity of the Ride The Lightning intro. The drums and bass groove from McClain and Dice is identical to what Ulrich and Burton play in Ride The Lightning. It is that familiarity that hooks me in. I didn’t like this song when I first heard it because the other songs like Unto The Locust, Be Still and Know, This Is The End, Darkness Within and Who We Are really stood out. However, playing those stand out songs to death, I unearthed this little gem, sitting between Darkness Within and Who We Are.

This is what guitarist Phil Demmel told Sonic Excess magazine about the song;

“It was a song without lyrics really for a while, without a concept. We kind of came up with an idea to write about addicts and addiction, when talking to each other and watching Breaking Bad episodes to kind of catch up and start again to see it. (laughs) It’s not a song about hope. It’s just a song about being in the throes of addiction, in its claws, and a lot of my lyrics are in there. So, there’s a lot of descriptive thoughts of addiction. It’s not a song of hope for sure. It’s not ‘Stairway To Heaven.'”

Lie in this state of perdition
Never to awake

Perdition – A state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful person passes after death. What a powerful line that sums up what addiction and depression is.

Make love to denial her sober embrace
Nails they’ve embedded never to release

If you don’t realise you have a problem, you can never treat it.

Count the 12 times you step equal 12 times you fail
No abstination relapse tip the scale
As you swallow the hook and you chew on the line
Choke on the sinker in this sea of lies

Man, what a verse. The 12 steps of rehab just didn’t work out and before you know it, the habit is back; hook, line and sinker.

The passage from 3.18 is superb. The music, the build and the melodic vocals. People have tried to imitate Robb Flynn in his vocal style, however as far as I am concerned, you need to have lived his life in order to sing like him. His vocal style is his lifestyle. I will replay this song a thousand times just to hear this section.

Broke vows and broken rosaries
Bind these rusted hopeless dreams
Broke vows and broken rosaries
Bind these rusted hands in prayer
Faith trust and love are mowed down lonely In these killing fields

What a vocal melody. It’s goose bumps all the way. The double kick from McClain keeps it rolling.

Then it’s all thrash from 4.36. I would have loved to be in the studio when they wrote this bit. It would have been high fives all around. The whole song is progressive. Not in the weird time changes progressive, just the fusion of so many different styles and melodies and riffs.

Machine Head hold their own against the Big 4. Hell, that concept should be expanded to include Machine Head. Better yet get rid of Anthrax and put Machine Head on the bill.

A Farewell To Arms released in 2007 on The Blackening

This is the album where Machine Head finally got their victory lap. The Blackening is such a strong album that other songs could be missed if you don’t dig deep into it. A Farewell To Arms is unbelievable. Great music and great vocal melodies. The lyrics are written by Robb Flynn, Adam Duce and Phil Demmel. The music is written by Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel.

Mutilated lives
Blackening as coffin line the sides
Filled with fathers
Who has won?
When only sons
Hold their grieving heads and mourn
A farewell to arms

The end product of war for the ones that do not return. It comes across in a powerful way. While the verses are great what truly makes the track is the chorus.

I’ll wave this flag of white
So the venged see the light
We’ll pay for closed eyes
With our genocide

Is venged even a word? Who cares right, as it fits the vocal melody to a tee? The chorus has a similar guitar melody like Halo underpinning the vocal melody.

Then the Iron Maiden-esque lead break wails from 7.10. The drumming and the backing tracks all have that Maiden Trooper Gallop. Then at 7.40 it is the Creeping Death “Die By My Hand” part from Metallica.

Somehow they bring it all back to an ending reminiscent of Master Of Puppets, again from Metallica. Just when I think it’s over, a few more bars of clean tone and the immortal words A FAREWELL TO ARMS.

Who has won when we’re all dead? This song also points the finger at the rich and the government officials that pushed the country into war. One of the verses deals with how the children of the fallen are left without fathers and how the children of the government officials will never know what it is like to fight a war.

Kick You When You’re Down released in 2001 on Supercharger

It’s a Robb Flynn, Ahrue Luster, Adam Duce and Dave McClain composition. The Supercharger album didn’t get as much attention from me as it should have when it first came out. As I got older, I went back and listened to it. Now I appreciate it more.

You have to trust in yourself
You must believe in yourself
You have to follow your heart
You overcome, improve, endure

It’s the anthem for the determined. As the other lyrics in the song state, sometimes you fight and you win, sometimes you fight and you lose, however it is the fighter in you that will never lose. In the end you move forward by overcoming obstacles, improving on what you did before and enduring. Remember, to be a winner, you need to outlast the competition.

Deafening Silence released in 2001 on Supercharger

This song is a Robb Flynn, Ahrue Luster, Adam Duce and Dave McClain composition.

One thing I really liked about this period of Machine Head (1999 to 2001) is that Robb Flynn was pushing himself lyrically and really went to town writing about his own personal issues. That is why the albums that came after had the perfect mix of personal reflections, political reflections and religious reflections.

You drink a thousand lies,
to freeze the past in time

Numbing the present with alcohol. I am sure every metal head has been in this situation. That is why we gravitate to this kind of music. We are the outcasts, the ones that society couldn’t pigeon hole. Note the reference to a song from Burn My Eyes.

See the pain in my eyes
see the scars deep inside
My God, I’m down in this hole again
With the laughter I smile
with the tears that I cry
Keep going down this road called life

The chorus above speaks volumes about society in general. My favourite lines are “With the laughter I smile, with the tears that I cry, keep doing down this road called life.” That is who we are in a nutshell. We just roll along. The ones that don’t, end up taking their lives.

Silver released in 1999 on The Burning Red

It’s got similar lyrics from A Nation On Fire. This song really reminds of Tool, especially that Cold breakdown. Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Dave McClain, Ahrue Luster and Dave McClain.

Take my hand
Across this land
Escape this, all the hell inside

Creating that other shell of a person to take the pain while the real person is hidden somewhere in the recesses of the mind.

Create this man
To make my stand
And break this hardened shell in time

It’s like this, we put out a face of confidence to all who see us, however inside, we are filled with doubt. We are scared. We are questioning. And if we feel like everything is going great, the real person will break away the mask and step into the light.

I see a mirror to me
The lines along my face are drawn in
I believe reflections bleed
The sorrows of our souls

I remember reading an interview with Robb Flynn that he was bulimic at one point in his life, always forcing himself to chuck up so that he can look the part. It’s a powerful verse with great imagery. We have all stood in front of the mirror and we have all judged our appearances.

A Thousand Lies released in 1994 on Burn My Eyes

The verse riff is the same as Cowboys From Hell from Pantera. Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Chris Kontos, Logan Mader and Adam Duce.

In poverty there is no democracy

Basically in poverty there is the motto that only the strong survive. That whole fairness and equality is rubbish. Even in poverty there is class warfare.

This urban life is so volatile
An inner city or a concrete hell

This is it, you either live, or you die or you end up in prison.

What is a man who don’t stay true to the game
Don’t care for no one, only cares for his greed
He’s playin’ God killin’ thousands of people ‘
Cause the power is the fix that he needs

When Robb is writing about themes that piss him off, he is always on game. He is basically saying, who can we trust in this world anymore, when all we get is lies.

A Nation On Fire released in 1994 on Burn My Eyes

Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Chris Kontos, Logan Mader and Adam Duce. The intro clean tone riff is that good, that it was re-written for A Farewell To Arms and Unto The Locust.

A world that spends more to kill than to cure

Another brilliant line. What kind of a world do we live in? Our Governments give more money to the military then what they do for research on finding cures.

So take my hand across this land

There are the lines that re-appear in Silver. It’s almost like he is saying to an angel to take him away from this world.

You tell me peace, Well I hear gunshots all night
The scars I have, I’ve earned ’cause I’ve had to fight

As we get older and we accumulate knowledge, we find it hard to believe the B.S that our Politicians try to push. The themes that Robb explores on the first Machine Head album keep re-occurring time and time again on other albums.

How cool is the SLOW part at the end. The groove just gets slower until the song ends.

I’m Your God Now released in 1994 on Burn My Eyes.

Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Chris Kontos, Logan Mader and Adam Duce.

The vocal melody at the start is that good, that Robb Flynn used it again for A Farewell To Arms. It’s a sad and sorrowful tale of addiction. The “her” in the song is the heroin. Drug addiction is covered a far bit in the songs of Machine Head.

So pain told you to take her
Well I learned to accept that feeling
‘Cause I found how to numb it
If only for just a short while
I’d get so high, I’d forget my own name
I scarred my fist, I scarred my brain
I think that I’m going insane
I think that I’m going insane

This song was brought back into my memory when I was listening to the Sixx AM album and the song, The Girl With The Golden Eyes. Nikki Sixx is another person that struggled to deal with the abandonment of his father.

So now I’m in your system
And I’m what helps you numb your pain
With time you will confide in me
So lonely my friend, I’ve made you lose control
You’ll use me more and more with time
Our friendship grows with each mainline
So glad that you could be so blind
So glad that you could be so blind

Again I am thinking of the Sixx AM song.

She speaks to me in Persian
Tells me that she loves me
The Girl With Golden Eyes

And though I hardly know her
I let her in my veins
And trust her with my life

I wish I never kissed her
Cause I just can’t resist her
The Girl With Golden Eyes

Every time she whispers
Take me in your arms
The way you did last night

Everything will be alright
Everything will be okay

People like Robb Flynn, Nikki Sixx and Corey Taylor have made it through and they are changing the world.

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy

Deja-Vu. 2011 vs. 2013 with Dream Theater and Trivium – Random Thoughts on their new songs

It’s like déjà vu again. In 2011, I was listening to new songs from Trivium and Dream Theater. Trivium had just unleashed In Waves as its promotional single for the In Waves album and Dream Theater had unleashed On The Backs of Angels as its promotional single for the A Dramatic Turn of Events album.

I remember listening to both songs back then and taking into account both of the band’s position in the musical landscape. Dream Theater to me, had the most to prove, as this music would be their first without founder Mike Portnoy.

In my opinion In Waves is a stronger song than On The Backs of Angels. The song wins all the time. I was listening to Images and Words yesterday and the reason why that album is awesome 21 years after its release is the songs. Learning To Live, Metropolis and Take The Time are progressive as hell, but man, I can physically hum the whole songs to anyone including the progressive interludes.

Images and Words is Dream Theater. That album represented what Dream Theater are all about and it set in motion everything that was to come. This new album is self-titled, therefore it should represent what Dream Theater is all about.

Anyway I digress, going back to my 2011 experiences. In relation to the albums, both of them had a six week U.S sale run (physical sales) and then disappeared. Will history repeat itself? I think so.

Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Week 1 – ending 21 Sept 2011 – 35,750 units sold
Week 2 – ending 28 Sept 2011 – 8,030 units sold
Week 3 – ending 05 Oct 2011 – 4,430 units sold
Week 4 – ending 12 Oct 2011 – 3,120 units sold
Week 5 – ending 19 Oct 2011 – 2,600 units sold

Trivium – In Waves
Week 1 – ending 17 Aug 2011 – 20,640 units sold
Week 2 – ending 24 Aug 2011 – 6,700 units sold
Week 4 – ending 07 Sept 2011 – 2,890 units sold
Week 5 – ending 14 Sept 2011 – 2,890 units sold

Artists are so scared if an album under performs these days. WHY? The album sales figures quoted above is not the metric to judge success on. Dream Theater have hardly sold any music in South America, however they play to their biggest crowds there. I wonder how that came to be?

As Nicko McBrain said in Flight 666 The Movie, Iron Maiden hasn’t sold an album in Costa Rica, however they are playing a stadium show that is sold out with 30,000 people attending. Put it down to piracy, file sharing, Bit Torrent or copyright infringement. The bottom line is this, if what you create is great, expect it to be shared.

Before the Internet, before YouTube, before streaming services like Spotify, fans had to own the music to hear it. That is no longer the case. The history of recorded music is at our fingertips. Fans are participating in this new arena, while artists and labels are still banging their heads against the wall judging success by album sales.

Even Mike Portnoy asked fans to buy The Winery Dogs as a show of support to the label and to show to them that this project is viable. Why does he care about sales? Look at all his posts, show after show. He is blown away at the reaction they are getting. Isn’t that the validation he should be seeking?

So here we are in 2013. We have Trivium’s new song Brave This Storm and Dream Theater’s The Enemy Within.

So what is the verdict.

I can’t say that The Enemy Within is anything special. Some bits remind me of Scenes from a Memory, but really, I could see this song fitting on A Dramatic Turn of Events. It is not a great leap forward in musical terms. Let’s hope that the other songs make the “definite statement.”

Hopefully what we heard was their “Commercial” piece for the album, in the same way that Forsaken was seen as the “Commercial” piece in Systematic Chaos. If this new album turns out to just be ADToE part 2, then yeah I’ll be pretty disappointed, and everyone will know what a pivotal role Portnoy played in the band and how directionless they are without him.

On the other hand, I was very cautious as to how the Trivium and David Draiman collaboration would work. From hearing Brave This Storm, I would say they are on a definite winner. The song is heavy, it is a progression from what they started with In Waves, it is all math in the verses and it is very melodic. Let’s hope that the other Trivium songs are not Brave This Storm 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on.

For some reason this got me thinking about a song from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers called Rebels which is the lead off track on his 1985, Southern Accents album.

With one foot in the grave
One foot on the pedal
I was born a rebel

Are musicians/artists rebels in 2013? It seems that they all want to be winners. Seen any posts from a musician recently about what they think, what they feel, what they are going to do and it doesn’t relate to selling music. Our heroes are even beholden to the Corporations.

Randy Blythe is one artist that shows his humanity. He uses his photographs and puts stories around them, which always relate to a personal part of his life. We are all human. We win and we lose. Blythe focuses on his work, not the sales pitch.

There is new news every day, so if Dream Theater and Trivium want their story to survive, they need to keep it alive by making news every day

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