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

April 2020 – Part 4

The final post for April 2020.

Here is the Spotify link to all of it. Here are posts 1 and 2 and 3 which talk about new music in April.

And here are the songs from the first three months (Jan to Mar) who are still doing the rounds in April.

Circle The Drain
Machine Head

Up until last year, Machine Head had four members. Then drummer Dave McClain and guitarist Phil Demmel left. Actually they already left, but then committed to finishing off the tour as sort of a last farewell. I read some interviews where they said it was like “turning up for the pay check”.

Robb Flynn is the founding member of Machine Head and he continued the band after the departures.

Robb got drummer Chris Kontos and guitarist Logan Mader who played on the MH debut “Burn My Eyes” album (released in 1994) and they (with current Machine Head bassist Jared MacEachern) re-recorded that 94 album live in the studio. This iteration became known as the BME band. Then Robb did an acoustic cover of “Die Young” from Black Sabbath, released it on Spotify and it became my favourite track.

And Machine Head toured. But with two versions of the band. There was the BME band mentioned above and the “Classics” band, with the addition of Waclaw Kieltyka on guitar and Matt Alston on drums.

So the “Classics” band would play all the Machine Head classics, and then the “Classics” band would go off and the “Burn My Eyes” band would come to play that album in its entirety.

From a new song perspective, he dropped two songs with different musicians (yep different from the dudes mentioned above). I couldn’t even keep track of who is who and I like looking at the credits.

I didn’t like “Do Or Die”, but I do like “Circle The Drain” and I enjoyed watching the making of videos. I like how it all came together and how a conversation with a friend about his relationship “circling the drain” finally nailed the title down. The drummer on “Circle The Drain” is Navene Koperweis.

It’s a great song and when Robb Flynn sings melodically, it’s a pretty cool moment. I still remember when I was watching the making of “Through The Ashes of Empires” album in 2003, and Robb Flynn is playing an acoustic guitar and playing Tesla’s “Love Song”. And I was like F yeah”. This dude knows his shit.

Feeling Whitney
Royal Bliss

It’s a cover of a Post Malone song about addictions and looking for that fix. The Post Malone version has more of a “Dust In The Wind” acoustic feel, while Royal Bliss turn it into a modern rock song.

Running Up That Hill
Naked City
Jorn

These two cover songs from Jorn would probably never go out of this playlist. The Kate Bush cover about making a deal with God to swap places is excellent and“Naked City” is one of my favourite cuts from the “Dynasty” album.

Come Clean
H.E.A.T

The Chorus on this song is so catchy.

Lyrically it’s not the best, about moving on to other partners but he can’t stop thinking about his ex. But the melody and the execution is excellent, and it’s melodic rock so who cares about the lyrical message.

Because Of You
Storm Force

I love the keys in the start, the nod to “The Who” as an influence and the major key 70’s feel of the verses.

And when the Chorus rolls around, it seals the deal.

Because of you I will climb a little higher

There is always someone there, who has your back, mentoring and supporting you. Remember that and never feel alone. It could be a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, a friend, a mentor.

Aeromantic album
The Night Flight Orchestra

Yep, the whole album is still doing the rounds.

“Transmissions”, “Aeromantic”, “Taurus”, “Carmencita Seven” and “Dead Of Winter” kept getting a lot of listens this month.

That’s not to say that the other tracks like “Divinyls”, “If Tonight Is Our Only Chance”, “Sister Mercurial”, “Servants Of The Air”, “Golden Swansdown”, “This Boy’s Last Summer” or “Curves” are no good. Because based on my mood anyone of them would become my favourite for a day.

Mr Big Shot
Collateral

This song reminds me so much of the songs from Skid Row’s self-titled debut and it just keeps getting spins from me. And it’s also from the debut album of Collateral.

Since this song has been four months in my playlist, I thought I should find out more.

Clicking on their bio on their website, it tells me, “Ripped jeans, cowboy boots, long hair and make-up, Collateral are a band that look and sound like a stadium rock band”. I know most stadium bands didn’t wear ripped jeans and cowboy boots, but hey, who cares, its rock and roll so let’s go with that imagery.

I think I have mentioned before that Collateral are from South East Kent in the U.K.

Remember a time when the UK led the way for rock and roll, with Cream, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, Free, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Steppenwolf, Slade, Mott The Hoople and David Bowie. And then the U.K did it again in the 80’s with the NWOBHM and New Wave.

Maybe the modern streaming age is seeing another revival. Sweden definitely has something special happening with their many different scenes focusing on different styles of rock and metal, like melodic rock, hard rock, progressive rock/metal, thrash metal and death metal. UK bands have also made their way into my playlists and my headspace as well.

Let’s see where it all goes.

Aftershock
Swallowed By The Machine
The Death Of Me
Harem Scarem

There are a lot of good cuts on Harem Scarem’s album and the guitar playing from Pete Lesperance is excellent. “Swallowed By The Machine” at this point in time and for the mood I am in, is getting a lot of attention.

We’re falling into dystopia
It’s crumbling before our eyes
Black mirror reflecting all our lives

I love technology, I work in technology and I am careful to switch off and not let those black mirror devices take control every single minute of the day.

Days of judgement upon us
Broken and demoralized
March into the vortex single file

It’s like a dystopian movie, where the human race is lined up, like cattle, waiting for their turn to walk into confusion and dizziness.

Because it feels like the world tries to do that.

With so much information at our fingertips, we don’t know what to click on and read sometimes. Every story has a point of view of the writer, and they are laced with some facts, a little bit of lies and a little bit of fiction. And then people try to pass it off as “truth”.

We all have dreams, we all have doubts
Be careful which you feed
And don’t get swallowed by the machine

Feed the correct hunger and walk the road you want to walk.

Watching “The Last Dance” and seeing those years roll by, man, it brings back some crossroads decisions. I can’t dispute the decisions made, because I am here today, with a wife and three kids. And I am content, happy.

I have no doubt that if I made a different decision, I wouldn’t have what I have today and I probably wouldn’t be in the same place mentally. But I still wonder, what if because the machine still rolls on, beckoning me to step inside.

Fake News
Turn The Light On
Shakra

The intro riff on “Fake News” reminds me of that GNR and Skid Row swagger.

And it’s good to hear these kind of influences, because Shakra (from Switzerland) are a band which defines the meaning of perseverance and grit.

Imagine a hard rock band, being formed in 1995, when the Grunge movement was on a decline and Industrial Metal like Ministry and NIN was becoming a thing, Tool was still a relatively unknown band, as “Aenima” was a few years away from being released and Korn was a few years away from their breakthrough and the start of the Nu-Metal movement.

25 years in the business and twelve albums down. Not bad at all.

Bubbles
Framing Hanley

These guys started off in 2005. They got signed and released two albums on a record label in 2007 and 2010. The band left their label and created a Kickstarter campaign for the next album, by asking their fans to donate a dollar.

That album is “The Sum Of Who We Are”, released in 2014.

They went on a break for three years between 2015 and 2018. And finally they have a new album out in 2020 and the song “Bubbles” just refuses to go away.

I Can’t Be The Only One
Killswitch Engage

I like Killswitch Engage.

The riffs are a cross between melodic rock, hard rock, heavy metal and groove metal. On occasions there are thrash and black metal riffs and a nod to Sweden’s metal scene around 1992 to 1998.

The vocals move between screamed and melodic. And screaming the way they do, it takes a toll on the vocal chords.

During the album making, vocalist Jesse Leach had to have throat surgery to remove a polyp and then 3 months of speech, vocal and scream therapy. And no vocalist wants to hear, that there could be a chance they could never sing again.

And you know how much I hate labels. Here is what Jesse Leach said on the issue of being classed as Metalcore in an interview at the excellent Consequence of Sound website.

“You know how genres go. That term has been so bastardized, I don’t even know what it means. When I think of Killswitch, I don’t think metalcore, I think metal, in general. I get people gotta categorize it, I get that, but you ask me, I don’t know, because I don’t even listen to metalcore. We came from the hardcore scene. We were hardcore kids who were into metal. That’s where the ‘metalcore’ came.”

This is an alternate edit from the track released on 2019’s “Atonement” album. And I really like the below lyrics.

Divided we’ve become, this fight has just begun
But I can’t be the only one
Together we overcome with a truth they can’t outrun
But I can’t be the only one

United we overcome

“Habit” by Adelitas Way, “All Eyes On You” by Smash Into Pieces, “The First Time” by Khymera, “Shadowman” by One Desire, “Broken” by FM and “Fly Like An Eagle”, “Legacy” and “Lay Me Down” from In This Moment are also getting spins.

And that’s it for my April listening. It’s only taken me half a month to complete.

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

April 2020 – Part 3

The third installment of April 2020 new music.

Here is the Spotify link. Here are posts 1 and 2.

An Ill-Fated Wonder
Scar Of The Sun

A metal band from Athens, Greece.

This is the beauty of Spotify and music in general right now. For the music styles I like, Spotify tells me the style is vibrant and alive all over the world.

If the record labels still controlled the distribution chain, they will have the world believe that beats and hip hop is the only style.

The open string legato intro gets me interested. And the whole song reminds me of the Paradise Lost, “Draconian Times” album merged with “Shogun” from Trivium.

Hope and pray
Long the day
That your lie turns asunder
Pure dismay
Gone astray
From this ill-fated wonder

And the breakdown section from about 3.40, when it goes to clean tone and then the build-up starts which moves into the open string melodic lead, with double kick drumming. Well, its head banging time.

The Way You Bleed
Taking Dawn

From the U.S.

Originally the band was called “7th Son”. So you can have a guess as to which band is an influence. They changed their name to “Taking Dawn” and a Roadrunner contract came soon after.

Roadrunner is known for its “excellent and non-existent Artists Development Department”, so when the first record didn’t set the world alight commercially, the label dropped them and signed another fresh band.

Then there was some band member changes and the need to use a different name for a few years in “Devils Run” and an eventual return to the “Taking Dawn” band name.

Taking Dawn came into my life because of a few excellent covers in “The Chain” from Fleetwood Mac and “Black Diamond” from Kiss. So I have been following them on Spotify.

What an intro. It reminds me of so many other songs. The acoustic guitar part reminds me of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “The Housing Of The Rising Sun” and when the distortion kicks in, it’s a smorgasbord of power chords, open string pedal tones, hammer ons and pull offs.

Why can’t you see the beauty in the way you bleed

Turn Away – Radio Edit
Sunflower Dead

A great hard rock song and I know nothing about the band. If it sticks around then I might do a Google search.

Light From Within
My Wicked Twin

A blog I follow, mikeladano.com had a post-up about this album. You can view it here. There is nothing to add except put it on and enjoy.

And the vocal melody in the verses, like the first four lines, are very “Alice In Chains like” in style and delivery. But the music is so far removed from Alice In Chains sludgy vibe.

From A Whisper To A Scream
Gathering Of Kings

I like melodic rock and Europe is leading the way with this kind of music.

Gathering Of Kings keeps delivering on their melodicism’s. The keyboard riff is hooky and it gets me interested straight away.

And the lead break brings back memories of the 80’s Shrapnel Artists.

Perfect.

The Whole “Catastrophist” Album
Trivium

I don’t think there is a better metal act than Trivium right now.

Robb Flynn on Twitter called it a masterpiece.

And I agree.

The Kerrang review said, “you can hear just how much they love heavy metal, injecting elements of thrash, melodic death metal and black metal throughout the 10 songs.”

And I agree.

The Metal Hammer review over at loudersound.com states “ The Sin And The Sentence got Trivium back on the horse. “What The Dead Men Say” has them winning again. One of metal’s most beloved bands are on the form of their lives right now. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

And I agree.

The excellent Sonic Perspectives website, said this; “There is something in this album for everyone, but one might not know what it is until the song has already hit them straight in the chest with its might. Wherever Trivium steps from here, be it down this same path or diverging elsewhere, it will be in the shadow of “What the Dead Men Say.””

And I agree.

I’ll have a review of this album soon as for me there is just so much to unpack.

Freight Train
Vandenberg

Adrian Vandenberg can still write a great song.

“Freight Train” is great because it has a lot of quality riffs, a killer lead break by Vandenberg, which is a lot longer than some of his 8 second teaser lead breaks he did with the “Moonkings”.

Did I mention the chorus vocal line is pretty cool as well?

Like a freight train
Burning down the tracks
Nothing can get in my way
Like a freight train
No looking back
Make no mistakes, I’m here to stay

Adrian Vandenberg is a freight train.

When he sets his mind to come back, he comes back. When he set his mind to pull back and go underground and focus on his art and painting, he did just that. As a fan of his 80’s stuff, I am happy to see that he’s here to stay.

Got no time to hesitate
Never take the easy way
Don’t look back on bad decisions made

What’s done is done.

There’s no way to turn back time, it’s important to move on and live in the now.

Hazard
Long Distance Calling

They play instrumental music, but it’s more of a groove, a band jamming on a groove and seeing where all of the different textures take em. Very different to guitar solo instrumental music like Vai, Satriani and so forth.

And I like it.

Maybe because it reminds me of Tool.

“Hazard” has this female spoken voice about AI’s developing skills that will overpower humans and as soon as the voiceover stops, the song kicks in with a dreamy lead break and the texture gets louder, frantic and sombre.

Its brilliant to listen to.

Always The Same – 2020 Remix
Whitesnake

This song came from out of nowhere and what a track. A left over from the “Flesh And Blood” album. The feel of the music, the vocal line. I dig.

It’s been one of those days when it all goes wrong

Man who hasn’t lived those days. You just can’t get a breath from drowning. Sometimes the wrongness is out of our control, sometimes its self-inflicted from words said or things not done or said.

Now it’s raining, raining in my heart
It’s always the same when were apart

No one wants to be alone. It’s more evident today than ever. For the person who lives alone, self-isolation is proving difficult because they have no one else to talk to when the tech is off. And it’s strange to type these words, because going out and socialising was illegal in lockdown.

The Whole Album
Revolution Saints

There will be a review coming up of this album soon.

In the meantime, if you like bands like Night Ranger (not because Jack Blades is in here, because Doug Aldrich plays that mf guitar like a combination of Jeff Watson and Brad Gillis), Journey (when they knew how to rock out) and of course melodic rock in general, then you should check this out.

If you liked the debut album, you should check this out. If you like the sophomore release, then you should check this one out.

Part 4 is coming up with the usual suspects which are still re-appearing from the start of the year.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

April 2020 – Part 2

April 2020 has finished and a lot of new music has hit my earbuds and I am still listening to tunes released between January and March 2020. While the last post started off with the songs from previous months, this post will start the new ones;

Here is the Spotify link.

Here is post 1.

Ishtar’s Gate
False Prophet
Testament

“Souls Of Black” is a great album and it was my introduction to Testament in a post “Metallica Black Album” landscape. The earlier stuff is technical like thrash with Alex Skolnick creating jazz fusion solos over the chromatic riffs from Eric Peterson. Then Skolnick left and I was like why.

And throughout the years I have been following Testament and their releases. I don’t own a lot of the bands stuff, but I did have a pretty cool mix tape from the era and I recently purchased their first five albums in a CD box set for $23AUD.

And Peterson just kept writing excellent riffs that covered power metal, thrash, groove metal, nu-metal and black/death metal. Chuck Billy would sing, growl and spit those vocal lines out. Then Skolnick returned and so did my interest in the band.

These two songs stood out to me on their recent release. The riffs are top quality.

Walking On A Thin Line
Hartmann

Oliver Hartmann has been a mainstay in the German rock scene for the last 20 years. He sings in Hartmann, and he is the lead singer for “Echoes”, a Pink Floyd tribute band.

And he plays bass and has done a lot of guest appearances on other records from European artists.

“Walking on a Thin Line” sounds like one of the best Scorpions songs that the Scorpions didn’t write.

Honesty Files
And You’ll Say
Urge Overkill

Ken Taylor from sunny “10 degrees Celsius” Melbourne commented on a blog post recently and he told me to check out an album from Urge Overkill (as I had mentioned the “Sister Havana” song and how the band was like a one hit wonder), which I did and I saved two songs. This album is from the mid 90’s so it doesn’t really belong on the April 2020 new music, but hey, its new music to me, as I heard it in April 2020.

We Will Rock You
Empires Fall
Welcome To The Night
Stranger In The Room
Darkness Remains
Night Demon

“Night Demon” is another recommendation from Ken Taylor. Their energetic take on the NWOBHM and Iron Maiden is fresh. I really like how bands these days take an old style and sound and make it new.

Every song you play, will have something familiar from a previous song you may have heard. And of course they do a rocking cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.

Billy’s Got A Gun – Live
Def Leppard

One of my favourite Def Leppard songs.

Can you feel it in the air?

Danger!!

What You Give Is What You Get (Edit)
Dance (Edit)

RATT

The RATT Atlantic Re-Issues are disappointing. Each album has an EDIT of a song released as a single as its bonus track.

The “Round And Round” edit cuts out DeMartini’s guitar solo and it goes straight into the harmony solo. The whole solo is a favourite of mine, so I couldn’t add that “edit” to the list. And from “Detonator” they have a dance funk mix for “Lovin’ You Is A Dirty Job” which is basically a joke.

I find it hard to believe that there is no extra material laying around or demos of the album songs. I remember reading an interview with Juan Croucier many years ago, and he states how he has over 60 songs left over from his RATT days, which either had him as the main songwriter or as a co-writer.

I play guitar and I know that even though a song is finished, there is another one in the works and other riffs been written. You just don’t stop creating.

The Canary
Protest The Hero

From Canada.

Protest the Hero (known as PTH from now on) are one of my favourite bands. They had a recording contract for their first three albums between 2005 and 2011. They built a cult following and then got dropped by their label. The label even said to them they have “no audience”.

So they went the fan funding route in 2012, trying to raise $125K USD and they ended up getting $341K.

I was on board with the Indiegogo fan funding campaign for the “Volition” album.

I was also on board with the Bandcamp six month “Pacific Myth” subscription campaign, where I get a song a month for six months, with a video that highlights the making of, plus the sheet music and I get to download the cover of each song, plus the track and the instrumental track.

Then they released that as a six song EP.

And then it was all quiet on the Canadian front, until “The Canary” flew in. And I’m back in the cage, ready to support them again.

Part 3 coming up.

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

April 2020 – Part 1

April 2020 has finished and a lot of new music has hit my earbuds and I am still listening to tunes released between January and March 2020. While the last post started off with the songs from previous months, this post will start the new ones;

Here is the Spotify link.

Sever
From The Ashes
Red

From the album “Declaration”.

“Sever” and “From The Ashes” have been added to the excellent “The War We Made”.

There is something about the voice tones and the vocal melodies of Michael Barnes which always hook me in. But if I look at the writers or co-writers, Barnes isn’t even listed as a songwriter. The majority of the songs are written by guitarist Anthony Armstrong along with producer Rob Graves.

In case you are not aware, Red is made up of Barnes on vocals, the Armstrong brothers, Anthony on guitars and Randy on bass and piano with Dan Johnson on drums. I have been a fan of this band since 2008. Their first three albums are my favourites and the albums that came afterwards had some cool songs, but they also lost me a little bit with their direction, but “Declaration” is a step back into my headspace and a direction I like.

Time won’t stop another setting sun
Facing this pain like a loaded gun

There’s no escape from problems. The more they are ignored, the bigger they become.

Sever these fraying ties

Break away instead of mending. It’s easier said than done, because while one part of the mind knows it’s right, the other part holds on to the memories, the good ones and the heart wants everything to stay as it is.

Agonize alone in the cold again
I loved more than I could hold

You think you could have it all, a relationship, a family, a career and a life as a touring musician or a high paying job.

But it’s hard.

Having so many commitments, something or someone will suffer.

I Would Love To Rock The World
Moon Of Forever
Free Spirits Rising

“A call to the promoters, trying to get a show, messages left are unanswered, trying to give rock a go” is how “I Would Love To Rock The World” starts off.

You can tell they are having fun with this song as it tells the story of trying to get a gig because even though they have failed or been burned many times, they would do it again if given the chance.

“Castles are burning as mother earth cries, her message of love is etched forever in blue” is how “Moon Of Forever” starts off, which has more of a 70s feel. In the 5 minutes, it has three verses and a lot of music with different moods.

From what I can gather, Free Spirits Rising is an Australian artist (just one dude who plays all the instruments). At this point in time he has released 10 stand-alone songs on streaming services since April last year. Sort of like a song a month policy.

The Black
Hologram
Dynazty

The Swedes are back with a new album called “The Dark Delight”.

“The Black” and “Hologram” stand out for me.

That harmony lead lick to kick off “The Black” is excellent and the vocal lines in the chorus which are inspired by classical and old folk pirate songs.

Meanwhile “Hologram” is a pop metal gem, if there is such a term. The lead break in “Hologram” is one of my favourites for this year so far. You need to hear it, to know what I mean.

Ride The Blade
Rock’N’Roll Survivors
Bonfire

For two albums (“Fireworks” released in 1987 and “Point Blank” released in 1989), Bonfire was one of my favourite acts.

The riffage and the songs were exactly to my liking. Then all hell broke loose with record labels dropping hard rock bands and suddenly Bonfire’s 1991 record, “Knock Out” was nowhere to be found. I couldn’t even get it imported into Australia and I couldn’t even get any news from em, because the usual metal mags I was buying didn’t mention em.

But Napster and its users gave me their 90’s output, and streaming now has some of their albums, but not the ones I like. “Fistful Of Fire” is their 17th studio album and man it’s been a long ride for founding guitarist Hans Ziller, the only original member since 1972.

So it’s probably a big reason why “Rock ‘N’ Roll Survivors” resonated plus the riffs and lead breaks played a pretty big part.

And the intro to “Ride The Blade”. Crank it loud and start to play air guitar.

She Dragoon
Conception

“By The Blues” has been doing the rounds for a few months on my playlists and now, “She Dragoon” is added to the list. This is one of the best Queensryche songs that Queensryche didn’t write.

In case you are not aware, Conception is from Norway and they came into my life via the excellent “In Your Multitude” released in 1995. which reminded me of Dream Theater’s “Images and Words” and “Awake” era albums, but with the songs more accessible. They also released another good album in “Flow” in 1997 and then they disbanded between 1998 and 2018.

Awaken Me
Spoken

I like this band.

They are marketed as an American Christian Rock band.

But to me, they are pretty awesome hard rock band who has been doing the rounds since 1997. The last new music from the band was back in 2017 and in February, they released a nu-metal song, called “The Way Back Home” with a massive melodic chorus.

“Awaken Me” is not as aggressive in the riffage as “The Way Back Home”. It’s more melodic and the chorus remains with me.

Awaken me to you
Cover me with the fire of your love
Take me with you
Forever, forever
With you

The “YOU” can be a lover, a parent, a child or a God. Just insert which one you want. And its catchy. Hence the reason why the song is in the list.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

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