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

Australian Method Series: Black Majesty – Stargazer

How can you pass up an album with “Stargazer” as its title?

Black Majesty is from Melbourne, Australia. The band is made up of John Cavaliere on vocals, Steve Janevski and Hanny Mohamed on guitars with Pavel Konvalinka on drums. There is no bassist listed.

Steve Janevski on guitar lists George Lynch, Zakk Wylde, John Sykes, Michael Wilton & Chris DeGarmo, Warren Demartini, Ronnie Letekro as his favourite guitarists. All great influences to have.

And apart from playing in Black Majesty (Power Melodic Metal), he also plays in Wicked Smile (Heavy Rock) and The Radio Sun (AOR Melodic Rock).

“Stargazer” was released in 2012.

Falling

The lead breaks are excellent. Steve Janevski and Hanny Mohamed showcase their abilities from the outset.

Lost Highway

Harmony guitars and fast double kick start the song off.

Voice Of Change

A killer Chorus and another killer lead break section. Actually killer lead breaks as there are a few.

Killing Hand

It has a “Paris Is Burning” riff to start off and I like it.

Check out the Chorus. Great vocal melodies, fast double kick and the guitars just play power chords.

As it’s becoming the norm, the lead breaks on this album are guitar hero moments.

Journey To The Soul

How good are the harmony guitars in the intro, before it moves into a Maiden like groove?

Holy Hillers

Another great harmony guitar intro.

Symphony Of Death

The slow Intro reminds of Queensryche circa first two albums and once the gallop riff starts, Helloween and Maiden come to mind.

But the lead breaks. Guitar hero stuff again.

It starts off with an open string harmony lick, then each guitarist gets a chance to shred and tap away before coming back to the open string harmonies to close the solo.

Edge Of The World

It’s blasting fast and loud.

And when it comes to instrumental section, Janevski and Mohamed don’t disappoint.

Stargazer

As soon as the Intro leads start, the song could have appeared on “Brave New World” and people would think Maiden wrote it.

The lead section part of the song is essential listening. it starts off with a sing-a-long harmony lead before it goes into individual solos. And man, what solos they are.

By the end of it, you can only press repeat.

If there is a criticism, the drums seem to be on cruise control with the stock fast double kick patterns Power Metal music is known for.

Steve Janevski and Hanny Mohamed deserve special mention here on guitars.

Vocalist John Cavaliere is a multi-octave vocalist. His voice and style ranges between David Coverdale, Bruce Dickinson, Geoff Tate and Michael Kiske but still sounding unique enough to be original.

I’m not a huge Power Metal fan but I do listen to bands that play that style purely for the guitar playing.

If you like Power Metal, you’ll like this. If you like Melodic Metal you’ll like this. If you like Heavy Metal, you’ll like this.

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

Dokken – Broken Bones

I was a streamer by the time this album came out, so it felt like I purchased it.

And it didn’t feel right not finishing off the Dokken series for three more albums.

“Broken Bones” came out in 2012 on Frontiers. Mick Brown didn’t play on the album as I think he was touring with Ted Nugent at that point in time, so the drumming was handled by Jimmy DeGrasso. Joining Don Dokken and Jon Levin was new bassist Sean McNabb.

And the star of the album is Jon Levin on guitar again. His solos are excellent, songs within songs moments and he can write a mean riff. Vocally, Don Dokken sings in his lower register while Mark Boals is doing the backing vocals.

“Empire”

Like most of the Dokken albums released, they start off with a fast rocker. This one is more like “Till The Living End”.

Check out the guitar leads from Jon Levin on this.

What Will You Rule In The End
A Burnin Empire

“Broken Bones”

“It’s Not Love” is instantly recognisable and it also reminds me of a cut from “Back For The Attack”.

An emotive lead break from Levin is a must hear.

All These Bones That Lie Within My Spirit
Broken Just Like Me

“Best of Me”

Very grungy (think “Even Flow” from Pearl Jam).

“Blind”

A slower groove doesn’t hide “The Hunter” influence.

“Waterfall”

At 2.48 long, it feels like an unfinished cut, a left over psychedelic track. A miss for me.

“The Victim of the Crime”

The intro is head banging material before it moves into an exotic sounding riff and groove, more Tool like. And I’m always interested when bands do these kinds of things.

The lead breaks from Levin are worthy, reminding me of a cross between Uli Jon Roth and Yngwie Malmsteen.

“Burning Tears”

A haunting melodic acoustic arpeggio similar to “Alone Again” starts the song, but it’s the distorted riff which kicks in after that gets the head banging.

And Jon Levin again shines on the lead guitar here.

“Today”

It started to become a trend, since “Dysfunctional” that a cover song would appear on a Dokken album. This one is from Jefferson Airplane cover, written by Marty Balin and Paul Kantner.

It feels like an inferior “From The Beginning” ELP cover they did on “Dysfunctional”. Better to be left off, but Frontier’s likes to put old songs under a new sound copyright which they control.

“For the Last Time”

Jon Levin again steals the light, with his movement from acoustic passages to full out rock and metal riffs.

“Fade Away”

It has a feel from “The Hunter” in the intro and “Dream Warriors” in the verses. Then it’s like “Stop Fighting Love” and “Will The Sun Rise”. Musically, it’s great to jam to, vocally, Don is in the lower register and its very monotonous.

But Levin shines again in the lead break.

“Tonight”

It’s another fast rocker, to close the album with, similar to the title track in speed, but very Euro sounding, more Scorpions like. Levin just keeps shining throughout the album with another guitar hero lead break.

And make sure you check out the guitar harmony lead break to close the song and album out.

“Can’t Fight This Love”

It’s a bonus track from the cloth of “Back For The Attack”.

If you’re a Dokken fan there is something here for ya. If you’re a guitar player, you’ll be impressed by Jon Levin.

P.S. Even though some of the songs are dull, Levin’s performances are anything but dull.

P.S.S. What happened to the drum sounds on some of the albums during the 2000’s? Is it because artists are recording at home or in cheaper studios than the studios before. Is the mixing bad?

P.S.S.S. Don Dokken’s voice on this album is very monotonous and same same on each song. But he does get the job done with the help of Mark Boals.

P.S.S.S.S. Did I mention that Jon Levin is a Guitar Hero? He is.

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Music

Albums From 2012 That Need To Be Heard

The Night Flight Orchestra
Internal Affairs

If you never experienced the Seventies, then this album from a super group of melodic death metal bands recaptures it all. From the “Immigrant Song/Achilles Last Stand” references in “Siberian Queen” to the “I Was Made For Loving You” references in “West Ruth Avenue” or the “Play That Funky Music/ Stevie Wonder’s Superstititious in “Internal Affairs”.

It captures it all and more.

Fen
Of Losing Interest

I didn’t know what to expect hearing this. It’s like Rush on Thrash Metal. Then its Rush on Hard Rock. Then its Rush meets Tool. Then it’s Rush on Groove Metal. Then it’s a cross between Rush and Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam. Being from Canada, the Rush influences are real strong.

Progressive music doesn’t have to be all time changes and technical playing ability. It can be Fen. Just doing something that blends so many different styles together and making it sound infectious.

Check out “Riddled”, it starts off with a thrash metal riff, then it goes into a verse that is Tool like merged with Kansas.

Adrenaline Mob
Omerta

It is balls to the wall metal classic in the style of Accept, Scorpions, Dio merged with the metal stylings of Disturbed and Godsmack. “Undaunted”, “All On The Line”, “Angel Sky”, “Indifferent” and “Hit The Wall” are worthy additions to any metal bands setlist.

The cover of Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” is also a fitting metal tribute to a pop number one hit.

So put aside all of your views on the members that make up the band and from what bands they come from and embrace a great balls to the wall metal project.

Digital Summer
Breaking Point

DIY band from Phonenix, Arizona, getting stronger with each release. “Breaking Point” was a Kickstarter funded project and it didn’t disappoint. The lead single “Forget You” has racked up 1,027,533 views on YouTube. They are great numbers for an independent band, that also manage themselves, record and release their own music and hold down day jobs.

If you like modern rock, then you will like this band.

Richie Sambora
Aftermath Of The Lowdown

The good old Richie Sambora released a great modern rock album that didn’t get the recognition it deserved because at that point in time he was still in Bon Jovi and Bon Jovi (the band) needed him to start the promotional interviews for the “What About Now” album.

Check out “Seven Years Gone”, “Nowadays”, “Every Road Leads Home To You”. Hell, the whole album is good. Give it your time.

Lizzard
Out Of Reach

This band is definitely under the radar for what they do. Think of Earshot meets Tool meets 10 Years meets modern rock. Vocalist, Mathieu Ricou has a voice that crosses between Chad Kroeger, Aaron Lews and Maynard James Keenan.

There is a feel of Progressive Metal, TOOL, Hard Rock, Trance & hypnotic music, DEFTONES, YES and PINK FLOYD. It’s a potent mix.

Vaudeville
Vendetta

Vaudeville is one band that deserves more recognition for what they do. They merge the styles of Muse and Radiohead with Hard Rock. It sounds beautiful and original.

Check out the song “Restless Souls”.

Will you stand up
And fight against their wrath
Or will you run
Until there’s nothing left

Hell Or Highwater
Begin Again

The new band from Atreyu drummer Brandon Saller. Hell or Highwater finds Saller stepping away from his drum kit and taking the mic to be the band’s lead vocalist. It’s hard rock people and it rocks real good and it doesn’t sound generic.

Burnside
Evolution

One of many great bands from Australia. It’s modern rock done really well. Check out “Remember When”, “Lost The Will”, “The Last Time” and “What You’ve Become”.

One Less Reason
A Blueprint For Writhing

This EP was my first introduction to One Less Reason. I knew nothing about them and when I heard “All Beauty Fades”, I was left speechless when the rest of the music and melody kicked in. And they are another DIY band.

It’s a six song EP and there is no filler. A very smart decision to release the best.

Corroded
State Of Disgrace

Corroded have a decent following in their own country of Sweden.

They are a skillful band that create groove based hard rock. Stand out songs are “Let them Hate As Long As They Fear”, “I Will Not”, and “Believe In Me”.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Question Everything – Inspiration From Killswitch Engage and Jesse Leach

After overdosing on the new Protest the Hero album “Volition” for some reason the last song “Skies” got me thinking about Killswitch Engage. So out come the headphones and on goes the new album “Disarm the Descent.” I haven’t listened to it since about July. Our favourites don’t last long in the times of today. With so much new music coming out, we move on very quickly. As Jesse Leach pointed out recently in an interview with Lithium Magazine, the title is a creative way of saying redemption or rising again.

“You’re in a state of your life where you’re approaching rock bottom and you find a way to pick yourself up again before you hit the floor.”

I came to Killswitch Engage late. I didn’t listen to their first three albums. The only song I heard was “My Last Serenade” back in 2004 and that was via a bass player friend. However at that time, nothing really connected with me and that was it. There was no urge to commit to the band for me.

Fast forward a few years and the “Guitar World” issue arrived in the mailbox. I don’t recall which month; however it was a magazine from 2007. At that time the magazine still came with a DVD of bonus content. One of the bonuses was a lesson from the Killswitch guitarists on how to play “My Curse” and after watching it, I was hooked.

So I asked my bass player friend to burn me all of their albums, which he did. At the time, I had no idea that vocalists changed, which after hearing “Alive or Just Breathing” in 2007, I realised that the tones of the vocalists didn’t match up. So what do we do when we need information? We Google. We click on Wikipedia. In addition, “My Last Serenade” suddenly mattered. The song sucker punched me and I was hooked. The timing was right in 2007, for Killswitch Engage to enter my life on a full time basis.

By the time, their 2009 self-titled album came out; I was purchasing it without even listening to a single note. As a bonus their back catalogue was on special at the time, so I picked them up as well and added the official releases to my collection. That is why I always say that no metrics can ever measure the reach or pull of a band at the time of a release.

Of course, sales data can show what is in demand at a certain point in time; however the reach and the popularity of a certain band or a certain album cannot be properly measured until years later. Remember that history is written by the winners. In music, the winners are the artists or bands that outlast the competition.

Going back to the different singers, since Jesse’s split with the band, he kept busy with other projects, like the stoner-rock outfit “Seemless” and the metalcore/hard-core influenced “The Empire Shall Fall”. During this period, he also appeared with Killswitch Engage, performing the track “My Last Serenade” alongside Howard Jones at the Roadrunner United concert in 2005.

Then in 2011, I was blown away by “Times of Grace”. Everything about that album connected with me on so many different levels. I saw “Times Of Grace” open up for “Machine Head” at the Uni Roundhouse in Sydney in February 2012. Adam Dutkiewicz had his leg in some form of a support cast and he still went ballistic on stage, commenting frequently that “Aussie girls are hot.”

In relation to “Times Of Grace”, I could hear the regret in some of the songs. When Jesse jumped ship from Killswitch he was fighting a pretty serious depression. He had just gotten married and he couldn’t deal with being on the road all the time and away from his new family.

Songs like, “Fall From Grace (my best song on the album)”, “The Forgotten One”, “Hymn Of A Broken Man”, “In The Arms Of Mercy” and “Where The Spirit Leads Me” capture the more personal side of Jesse Leach. I remember reading in an interview in the “Revolver” April/May issue with Jesse mentioning that at the time of leaving Killswitch he was “broken and unconfident”.

So when Killswitch Engage announced that Jesse Leach is the vocalist again, I was more than pleased. His redemption was complete. When Jesse left Killswitch Engage the album he worked on “Alive Or Just Breathing” was just another album in a burgeoning metalcore scene that helped to kick start the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement.

Today, “Alive or Just Breathing” is seen as a classic. I always state that music is all about creating great music now so that it is recognised later for its greatness. As an artist grows their body of work takes on a new life of its own. It takes a while for something to be assimilated. Artists or bands have to hang in there long enough until they get their turn, getting better while they wait and releasing quality music.

“In Due Time” was the lead-off single.

“All that we suffer through leads to determination
The trials we all go through gives us the strength to carry on 

Something within us burns, desire feeds the will to live
A reason to believe I will see redemption”

As the chorus lyrics go, in due time, the shadows will gave way to the light. You just need to be patient and resilient. The words could even reference Jesse’s redemption to Killswitch and the knowledge that he had to go through all these trials so that he could come back a better person.

“A Tribute To The Fallen” has that hook that resonates. In my view this song should have led the album.

“With a new dawn we rise in renewed strength
Knowing we’ve just begun to fight this war within”

Think about all the crap that is going on in our democratic nations. Governments are spying on their own people. The Corporations and their lobby groups drive legislation. Government granted monopolies like the copyright industry are doing their best to kill innovation and when that fails, insert the corporations and their lobby groups. Transparency is promised however it doesn’t exist. Every communication is suddenly classified. Enables of pirated goods get more jail time than actual criminal offenders.

“New Awakening” has the legend behind it about how Jesse blew his voice while he was recording it in the studio. After the Doctor told him about the strain on the vocal chords, Jesse saw it as a badge of honour.

“There is more to life than this
We are more than just this flesh
We are alive and our time has come
For a new awakening”

It’s the Killswitch revolution. Killswitch wants you. Where do i sign? I’m all in.

“You Don’t Bleed For Me” connects with me because it more or less sums up our politicians and how even though they are voted in by the people, they do not work for the people. Of course there are the rare ones who do their best to speak for the people but in the end money wins the game.

“Fly your flag of righteousness
When underneath it is deviousness, it is greed and lies
Don’t pretend to know me you martyr of disgrace
With your plastic smile
I don’t believe a word you say
You don’t speak for me
You don’t bleed, you don’t bleed
You don’t bleed for me”

The closer “Time Will Not Remain”.

“None of us should be thought of as anything less than a potential to change the world”

What a lyric and what a statement. That is the reason why Jesse Leach’s return means so much to Killswitch Engage and to metal fans in general. He never stopped being who he was. He was not corrupted by the modern era. He questions social norms and ideals. He questions the crap our politicians and news outlets throw at us. He questions everything. The great vocalists always have something to say.

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Music, My Stories, Review in 40 Words

Review In 40 Words – Nonpoint – Nonpoint (2012)

A brilliant heavy metal release from 2012. This album should be in everyone’s collection. While the previous album “Miracle” suffered with the Mudvayne/vocal style comparison to Chad Gray, this one doesn’t. It’s a stand out in a saturated metal marketplace.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Disciple – Draw The Line

Classic Song To Be Discovered
Disciple – Draw The Line

This is a song that I could have written. It more or less reflects on a certain point in my life.

It’s actually written by Kevin Young (Disciple), Seth Mosley (Me In Motion) and Ben Glover (Christian version of Desmond Child) and it appeared on the 2012 album, O God Save Us All by Disciple.

Another crash, another fall, another failure
Another choice I don’t want to remember
Been here too many times
Every day is another fight

This is what I wasn’t prepared for. That the choices I made, can either turn out great, or end up in pain and tears. It’s hard to look back at certain choices and the events that followed afterwards and realise that the blame rests with me. I have made a lot of mistakes and as painful as it is to own them, there was no way I could move forward. There was no one left to blame except me.

I’m at war with the person I could be
Give me a chance and I’ll mess up a good thing

How true? I know what I should do, I know who I should be, however I try to be someone I am not. I have a good thing, in children that love me, a wife that loves me, so why do I make choices that hurts them and me. As I got older, I realised all of this and I was lucky that all the good things in my life stuck around. They could have easily walked away and I would have been left with nothing.

This is where I draw the line
This is where the old me dies
Light a match, let it burn, kiss it goodbye
Give it up, what I was, this is where I draw the line

This is it. That point in time, when I pulled up the handbrake, walked out of the car and left the old me behind. I realised that I had slipped so far from what I have known and I needed to do whatever it takes to get back to those good things in my life.

Another battle I lost fighting solo
How many times must I learn what I already know
Can’t do this on my own
Wasn’t meant to fight alone

I always believed that my problems are my problems and that I needed to solve them on my own. It must be a male thing. People are always there, however I always ignored their views. I was always right and no one else could tell me any different. It took me a long time to realise that I don’t have to do this all on my own. People want to listen, people want to help, I just had to let them. Again, the choice was down to me.

So I’m lifting my hands in surrender
Take my thoughts and my flaws and make me better

I am human. I have made mistakes. I needed to learn from my flaws and make myself a better person. I needed to take my thoughts of revenge, injustice and hate and use those feelings to make me a better person.

Revenge for the betrayal and backstabbing would not give me satisfaction. Revenge for the corporate funded injustice would not give me satisfaction. There was no need to hold on to those feelings. Time has a funning way of making things work out. Some call it Karma, I call it ‘living by the choices we make.’

Let’s put it this way, from when I walked away from that part of life back in September 2010, I have gone from strength to strength. The other people that where in my life at that time, have dragged themselves even further below. They burned the musical house that I created to the ground, they burned whatever relationships they had to the ground by constantly running away from responsibility, fabricating stories and blaming others when it all goes bad.

I am happy to say that I am living by the choices I made.

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