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

2017

Every year, I see album of the year lists. And I’ve done em as well. But in truth, a large percentage of those top 10 albums that make it on lists are due to just a few songs that connect with people. Well that’s how it happens with me these days. Of course some albums are great from start to finish, but it’s a rarity.

So this year, my 2017 list is made up songs that I’ve come across in 2017’s Release Radar (in other words released in 2017) or Discover Playlist from Spotify that I’ve heard the first time in 2017 and have connected with me.

In order to compile the list before year-end, I stopped adding music to the playlist at the end of November. So here is my playlist of new music I heard in 2017.

Also in 2017, Spotify gave me a ton of stats.

So I listened to 66,157 minutes of music, which equates to 1103 hours, which equates to about 3 hours of listening each day.

7,084 different songs make up my listening habit for 2017, which is made up of 1,680 different artists. Hell, I even skipped 2,274 songs. Back in the 80’s I listened to less than 30 artists.

My five top artists for 2017 are The Night Flight Orchestra, Whitesnake, Coheed and Cambria, Trivium and Ozzy Osbourne. And here is my Spotify generated playlist of the top 100 songs I listened too in 2017 across all decades.

Life Ain’t Easy (For A Boy With Long Hair) – The New Roses

Who would have thought that a German act would sound better than the American acts that influenced them?

So what can I say
Things got that bad
I stood before the mirror
To shave my head
But then I looked into my eyes
And I knew right then
You’ll let your hair grow
And start a band

Hilarious but it doesn’t take away from the story setting. We don’t know what we should do sometimes. And when it comes time to make a life-changing decision and dealing with the unknown, it’s important to remind yourself of your true calling.

And as the years went bye
Fashion went and came
And everybody changed
But I’m still the same
Now you try to dress up
Like a rock and roll star
You don’t look cool
And you won’t get far
What you’re looking for
You can’t just buy and wear

There is so much truth in the above. I can put on a T-shirt from companies who endorse MMA fighters and it doesn’t mean I support the sport. The same goes for people who wear Harley Davidsons T-shirts while they drive around in 4WD’s. Rock and metal wear is an attitude as much as a lifestyle choice. It was never about looking cool or a fashion statement. It was about acceptance and being a member of the tribe.

Freedom – Revolution Saints

It’s the best song on the album. Deen Castronovo is one hell of a vocalist and he kicks off this song with a great drum groove. Musically it sounds like a Deep Purple song from the Coverdale era and there’s nothing wrong with that influence whatsoever.

Freedom
Sweet freedom
Coming my way

It’s the mood the music sets that hooks me in and the way it builds in the verses.

Gemini – The Night Flight Orchestra

On each album TNFO have a disco pop metal rock track. “West Ruth Ave” took the spot on the first album, “Living For The Night-time” took the spot on the second album and “Gemini” takes the spot on the third album. So many influences are present in this song. It’s like Styx, The Police, Divinyls and Blondie got put into a blender and out came “Gemini”.

Blind Leading The Blind – Adrenaline Mob

Man the “Mob” has suffered on the road. AJ Pero didn’t survive the tour he was involved in and recently David Z lost his life when a truck slammed into their van parked on the side of the road.

The world is running out of time
We all think we know what’s wrong or right
It’s the blind leading the blind

Our governments work for the corporations who are only interested in making money. They don’t care about global warming or our natural resources. The debates between the two sides don’t even exist. How can one side argue their point if the other side doesn’t believe there is a point to argue.

Goodbye Forever – Volbeat

The mighty Michael Poulsen is one hell of a songwriter. As soon as the song starts off with his major key lead and 60’s rock feel, I’m hooked.

Did you say the thing you wanted?
Have you ever felt in love?
A moment where no problems would ever get you down
Free as an eagle but only for a day, yeah listen

Live every moment like it’s your last.

Take the arms that embrace, no more being afraid
Feel the sun on your face or goodbye forever

Live in the now, don’t be afraid.

We are the birth
We are the end
We are the souls
We have a name
We are the rising and fallen ones
We are the spirit forever more

This is my favourite part of the song. I dig how the military style drumming works with the syncopated guitar lines and the gospel backing vocals. Just brilliant.

They Don’t Care About Us – Saliva

It’s a great re-imagining of a Michael Jackson song in a hard rock context. It’s from their “Love, Lies and Therapy” album released in 2016. Hell I don’t even know who is in the band anymore. They sort of dropped off my radar after Josey Scott left.

Skin head, dead head
Everybody gone bad
Situation, aggravation
Everybody allegation
In the suite, on the news
Everybody dog food
Bang bang, shot dead
Everybody’s gone mad

All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us

“Bang, bang, shot dead.” The two biggest man-made killers of people are guns and cars. So it’s not surprising that terrorists are using the two to cause chaos in major cities. But what about the home-grown madman, who takes bags of guns into a Las Vegas Hotel and then proceeds to play target practice at a Country Music Festival. Even though the song was in response to Rodney King’s beating at the hands of LA Police, the message remains the same, 20 plus years later.

Every time mass shootings happen, the Government fails to do anything. And it doesn’t matter who is President. Mass shootings happened under Trump and he has done nothing. They happened under Obama and he did nothing. They happened under Bush Jnr and he did nothing. They happened under Clinton and he did nothing. They happened under Bush Snr and he did nothing.

The Government is voted in by the people, but all they do is please the lobby groups and corporations.

Mass shootings happened in Australia under previous Governments; however when the “Port Arthur” massacre happened while the Liberal Government of John Howard was in power, we finally had a leader and a Government that stood up and made change. Since then, we haven’t had a mass shooting.

People always remember what people do.

Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now
I’m tired of being the victim of shame
They’re throwing me in a class with a bad name
I can’t believe this is the land from which I came

After 9/11, our rights all around the world disappeared as the democratically elected Governments passed a lot of laws to “try and prevent future disasters from happening” which in turn made these democratically elected governments similar to totalitarian governments.

The laws passed involved the invasion of our privacy. Our phone calls either could be or will be recorded, our emails would be stored and analysed by an algorithm, our Google searches would be reported for certain key words and analysed, our text messages and so much more.

We are the victims of Government corruption to protect the faceless people who pay the politicians to speak for them.

Periscope – Papa Roach

One of the bands I was involved with in the early 2000’s covered “Last Resort” because it had that “Bring Your Daughter (To The Slaughter)” riff.

I don’t want to dive in first
You don’t want to hear these words
It’s only going to make it worse

So the band with each album has been on my radar and with each album they surprise with their diversity. This is another surprise. There’s hardly any distortion but the song still rocks hard.

Black Rain – Eclipse

They are from Stockholm, Sweden. They formed in 1999 and currently they are on Frontiers Records. Singer/guitarist/bassist Erik Martensson also has a side gig writing songs for other artists. Frontiers Records constantly use him to write songs for other artists. If you don’t believe me, check out W.E.T and Revolution Saints even covered an Eclipse song on their debut album.

This song is here because of the lead break. The riff under it reminds me of “Hangar 18” by Megadeth, while the actual lead break itself is reminiscent of the “Mr Crowley” outro lead and the “Tornado of Souls” lead by Marty Friedman.

No Surrender – Art Of Anarchy
Changed Man – Art Of Anarchy
The Madness – Art Of Anarchy

I was really surprised by this release. Actually I was blown away by it. The lyrics more or less reference the schizophrenic breakdown of Scott Stapp. Hell you can call it a concept album.

“In ‘No Surrender’ I addressed those moments in life where you’ve reached a personal crossroads or crisis. That place where your back is against the wall and you’re left with two choices — to cave in and crumble allowing whatever circumstance to break you forever, or to rise up and fight through holding on to that never give up spirit that lies deep within. I detail in the verses personal experiences, as I lived them, that have taken me to that critical place of choice. Am I to give up, stay down and fade away or get up, fight on and never surrender.”
Scott Stapp

In “No Surrender”, Stapp is singing, “No way out, hit the flat line, we get up, no surrender, it’s your time, grab the lifeline, we get up, no surrender, no surrender”. There it is, the human spirit fighting for its place in society and the world at large.

In “The Madness”, Stapp is singing, “The madness keeps me from the other side”. And the other side is where he wants to be. Its greener, full of love and his family is there. He wants to be there with them.

In “Changed Man”, Stapp is singing, “Give me one more chance, cause I’m a changed man, it’s time to come back home”. You can hear the sorrow and regret in his voice.

You live, you make mistakes, you learn from the mistakes, you create memories and experiences and then you write songs about them. And while a lot of people I know pretend to be perfect and happy, reality is so much different.

The Violence – Rise Against

I came across this band via Guitar Hero. My kids had “Savior” up and man it was a pretty wicked song and I’ve been a fan since.

Are we not good enough? Are we not brave enough?
Is the violence in our nature just the image of our maker?
Are we not good enough? Are we not brave enough?
To become something greater
Than the violence in our nature?

I guess a few madmen who are in charge spoil it for the billions who don’t seek violence and war.

Pariah – Steve Wilson

Porcupine Tree or solo!

Does it really matter for Steve Wilson?

I’m tired of Facebook
Tired of my failing health
I’m tired of everyone
And that includes myself

Can we ever really disconnect from society and people in our current social media driven times?

Carry Me My Bones – Corroded
A Note To Me – Corroded

It’s the acoustic version from “The Nevo Sessions”.

“Carry Me My Bones” in distortion is a pretty good song, but man, the acoustic version is swampy and groovy and rawer and better.

Carry me my tired bones

If only our bones could talk and tell us the secrets they hold of how they kept our body together in times of stress, being overworked, being drunk or depressed.

“A Note To Me”

I’m just a coward who hates everything about me
Everything I’ve done was a lie
It’s hard not to cry

Self-assessment or awareness of invulnerability is what makes us better.

I stand before you in my nakedness
I admit that I was wrong
My only hope is that you will forgive
And that someday, someday, will forget

I’m not perfect. I’ve said words that have hurt people. Some of them have forgiven me and others haven’t. But I’ve learnt from every word said in spite to be better.

Light Me Up – Doom Unit

It’s got this swampy bluesy feel which I really dig. Plus the vocal melodies are addictive. And they are from Finland. I’ll be honest, there is something in the culture water’s around Northern Europe because there is so much good music coming out of the region.

When I start another day
I’m slowly drowning all the way
Light me up

When the day isn’t happening the way you planned and nothing is going right for you, you need to focus on what you can control.

Human (Jim Eno Sessions) – Ran’n’Bone Man

Elton John reckons Rag’n’Bone man has the best new music out there. If you haven’t heard “Human” then you should. It’s a hit and it’s getting there slowly, as all good music does its converting people like me into it. This version is a simple piano/acoustic guitar version. It’s raw and the vocals are emotive.

I’m only human
I make mistakes

We all make mistakes. And we get a lot of chances to make amends and learn from those mistakes.

Playing With Fire – I Am Giant

I’m through with playing with games in the presence of a liar

It’s the opening line of this groovy little number.

Are we dragging up the past when I’ve walked the line already

Yes, our memories can have a negative impact. There are always things in the past that we regret. But, for some, regretful words, choices and actions remain with them forever. Every single memory from the past comes with an emotion. Get stuck with a past emotion and you roadblock your future.

Lost – Death Angel

I thought this was Adrenaline Mob when I heard it. And even though the song came out in 2016 on “The Evil Divide” album, I only just heard it, so it’s in my 2017 list. And it’s that bridge section that comes in at 2.50 that hooked me in.

Rain down on me and wash this pain away

In every ancient text, rain is seeing as the great redeemer. It’s part of Mother Nature’s arsenal to destroy the sins of man-made structures.

From The Flame – Leprous

I had to Google to find out more information about Leprous. Wikipedia tells me that Leprous is a Norwegian progressive metal band formed in 2001 and the band gained prominence as the backing band for former Emperor front man Ihsahn’s live shows.

You’ll find me here when I’m gone
Where I made my surrender

There is always a street, a home, a beach, a park where something went down. A paradigm shift so big that the person’s life was/is changed forever.

Send In The Clowns – End Of Green

This song is so gloomy but I like it. I have no idea who End of Green is or how the album sounds. All I know is that this song came up on my Release Radar playlist and it’s been a save from the outset.

So I went to Google to find out more. Check out what Wikipedia tells me.

End of Green is a German gothic/doom metal band formed in Stuttgart in 1992. According to singer Michael Huber, the band’s name implies the end of the colour green, which typically symbolizes hope. This fits with the type of music the band produces. The band describes its style as Depressed Subcore. The lyrics are about loneliness, depression, pain and death.

Damn right it’s depressing and yet there is something hypnotic about it.

In this moment so painful
I’ll wear the chains of the past

So true.

When we feel down, it’s the memories of the past that keep us weighed down, unable to get out of the hole. The words said or not said and the actions taken or the lack of actions taken. And those memories of the past normally come with an emotion. It we allow that emotion to control us, our current days will be pre-loaded with pain and angst.

All my life they have pushed me around

At some point in time, we will hit the wall. Like it or not, endings are real and there’s nothing that can be done. But all endings serve a purpose and are necessary. An un-loving or over controlling or violent relationship prevents us from reaching our potential. So what do we do, when we take back control of our lives?

Basically, good things cannot start to happen unless the bad ends.

Promised Land – Sweet & Lynch

People who know who I am and what my faith is all about know that heaven is often referred to as the Promised Land. That’s exactly what the song is about. How we struggle through life yet through it all, we need to stay strong and focused. Eventually, we’ll see the Promised Land.
Michael Sweet

“Promised Land” is the opening track and the first single in the lead up to the album release. This song deserves more attention, but it’s hard to break through the noise. Each new track is competing against all the hit records plus everything in between.

“Take my hand, the promised land”.

The promised land can be any place or event that you have kept a discipline or focus to get to. It could be the home you built or purchased or a personal achievement or goal.

My Fate – Vimic

Is this Joey Jordison’s third or fourth post Slipknot band?

The reason why this song is here happens from 3.15 to the end. You need to hear it to appreciate it.

And that outro guitar solo. You need to hear that as well to appreciate it.

I am the author of my fate

One of the best lines I’ve heard. The buck stops with you. The place you are in right now is because of you and the decision you made. You are the author of your fate.

Here I Stand – In Whispers

I got no idea who this band is and how many albums they have released. But this song came up on a Release Radar or Discover playlist and it was good enough to end up in my 2017 playlist.

The song originally hit YouTube in 2011. The album “Sound The Alarm” came out in March 2013. The first time I heard the song is in 2017. It’s the way of the world. Things take some time to get our attention.

Are you still around when it happens?

The main riff hooks me in, a combination of Judas Priest style riffing made famous by Avenged Sevenfold and Black Veil Brides in their songs. ‘Knives and Pens’ by Black Veil Brides sounds like Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘Unholy Confessions”.

Here I stand
And I won’t fall down
Mercy me
With both my feet on the ground
Shame on me
Forever holding you down
Here I stand
And I won’t fall down

Every time I hear “Here I Stand” I think of standing before someone (a powerful entity, a corrupted employer or a loved one) to face judgement or punishment for some act in the past. Who gave the right to these people to judge upon me?

The Road – Quiet Riot

As soon as I heard the voice, it was familiar. I’d like to tell you that I knew it was Durbin on vocals just from hearing him, but I had to Google it to find out. Hell I had to Google who was in this version of Quiet Riot. It’s good to see that Quiet Riot is still releasing new music, even when the two founders in Rhoads and DuBrow have both left this Earth for astral planes far and wide and main songwriter from the 80s Carlos Cavazo is now bending strings for Ratt which looks like to be on hiatus anyway.

Feels like we just got back
I’ll kiss my family and I’ll be out the door again
We’re running around in the dark
We are together apart

Unless your family is travelling with you, the road is just you, the guys in the band, some members of the road crew and lonely miles between cities. A lot of artists don’t come back. Randy Rhoads didn’t come back home. Steve Ray Vaughan didn’t come back. A lot of the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t come back. Cliff Burton didn’t come back. Kurt Cobain came back but didn’t want to go back out. Chris Cornell didn’t come back. Chester Bennington didn’t come back. AJ Pero didn’t come back. David Z didn’t come back and the other guys from Adrenaline Mob got pretty banged up.

American Rock ‘n Roll – Kid Rock
Greatest Show On Earth – Kid Rock
Stand The Pain – Kid Rock

From his newest album “Sweet Southern Sugar”. I can’t say I’m a huge Kid Rock fan, but I do check out his stuff from time to time. I also caught him live on the Bon Jovi “Because We Can” tour. He’s a showman and a very good one at that. These three songs are hard southern rock all the way and man, they are a joy to listen too. It’s like one big party jam committed to tape.

American Rock ‘n Roll

It’s the laid back rock of the 70’s which today is known as country rock.

“Headlights shining on rusted fences as I pass the rail yard”

I love the lyric. It brings back memories of the past regardless where you lived.

Fire up the lighter and a Lucky Strike
The radio’s saying “Take a walk on the wild side”

If you are a smoker today, you are seen as a fool.

Why would you put a cigarette in your mouth when you know how it kills ya? But once upon a time, smoking was a part of life, especially socially.

Give me that heart and that soul
American rock ‘n’ roll

Amen.

Greatest Show On Earth

It’s the in your face album opener. Again, it’s dirtied up blues in Kid Rock’s own unique way.

I’m a full-blown
Down home rolling stone
I’m a cyclone
I’ll shit wherever I roam

The attitude, groove and lyrical phrasing in the verses hook me in. Like any rocker who hits the road, they come and leave like a cyclone.

The Chorus, is the best Chorus that Aerosmith didn’t write.

Welcome to the greatest
Love you when you hate us
Welcome to the greatest f….. show on earth

A showman Kid Rock is. I saw him opening up for Bon Jovi on the  “Because We Can” tour and he nailed it. He had the stadium crowd in his hands and he took us on his journey. Even my wife, you never heard one single note from Kid Rock enjoyed the show.

Stand The Pain

It’s got the same message like all the rock anthems of the past. But it’s not a rocker. It’s a laid back rocker.

When it feels like you just can’t stand the pain
And when it feels there’s nothing left that you can do
Just bow your head down and plow right through

Working smarter is better than working harder. If the day’s events caused a massive change in your life, there is no use in attaching emotions to them because it will always end in pain. The best way is to move onto the new day and into new beginnings.

Sometimes life’s plans can be postponed
And it’s hard to step back out into the unknown

I’ve been in situations like this. I can plan for some future state but life is full of random variables which can never be foreseen. And suddenly, when these variables strike, I am navigating unknown roads, looking for answers.

You and Me – Farmers Boys

It’s weird to explain this band. It’s like Muse went a bit heavier. Wikipedia tells me they are a heavy metal band from Stuttgart, Germany and have been active since 1994. They reached their peak of popularity with their album “The World Is Ours” in 2000. Wikipedia further tells me their musical style is a blend of Machine Head’s groove metal and Paradise Lost’s gothic metal. Add Muse to that list.

You and me against them all; this is how it ends

Humans are excellent at finding something to be afraid of. This ranges from our partners, to the people in the shadows, to the faceless network of people conspiring against us and what we stand for and so forth. However, if there is someone who lets us down, it’s normally ourselves. Our doubt cripples us. Because of doubt, we don’t trust in our own abilities to try to do something new. But a time comes in all of our lives, when we become brave enough to rise.

We never giving up giving in
That’s how we bring the system down.
You and me carry on
’till all the kingdoms fall

Redefined – H.E.A.T
Best Of The Broken – H.E.A.T

H.E.A.T is a Swedish hard rock group formed in 2007. These songs are from album number 5. Yep, back in the 80’s, if an artist went global or continental, they might get to album number 5. In the internet era of 1999 plus, artists are getting to album number 5 and above without getting out of their own continent.

Redefined

You tell me what you want
And I give you what you need
We don’t realize we’re redefined
You tell me what you want
And I give you what you need
We don’t realize we are redefined

Our roles in society, relationships and our lives in general are constantly redefined. Sometimes by choices we made or by choices of others. And it’s okay if we make short-sighted bad decisions based on short-term thinking. Everyone does it. However not everyone can correct those decisions.

Best Of The Broken

Welcome, now, say goodbye
Good men will be sacrificed
We are the industry, running free
Wearing rings of cyanide

Damn right. The recording industry makes a lot of money. And that money buys them influence. When you have influence, you are basically allowed to run free and do whatever you want. However, when the internet introduced a new distribution system which the recording industry couldn’t control, they screamed and moaned and paid a lot of dollars to get laws written to give them back control.

Smalltown Boy – Apollo Drive

When I first heard the song I thought it was a Coldplay song from their earlier albums. It’s got an iconic piano riff and I’m thinking, this song is massive, why isn’t it a bigger hit. So I Google “Smalltown Boy” and I find out the original artist who performed it is Bronski Beat on their 1984 album “The Age Of Consent”. On their Spotify account, the song has 24 plus million streams, while the Apollo Drive account has only twenty thousand streams.

Anyway, I prefer the Apollo Drive. And it’s weird that in this day and age, I know nothing of the band. A quick Google search tells me they are from Sweden and they took their band name from a LA street where the deal was done to form the band.

You leave in the morning with everything you own in a little black case
Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a sad and lonely face

Mother will never understand why you had to leave
But the answers you seek will never be found at home
The love that you need will never be found at home

People had to escape their towns and head to the cities if they wanted to make something of themselves. Some succeeded, some failed and some just didn’t make it. It doesn’t have to be that way today. You can be somebody from the confines of your bedroom walls, while you still live with your parents.

Karma – Cyhra
Closure – Cyhra
Dark Clarity – Cyhra

I had to Google who Cyhra are. It’s like a Scandinavian supergroup. It features former Amaranthe vocalist Jake E., ex In Flames guitarist Jesper Strömblad, ex In Flames bassist Peter Iwers and drummer Alexander Landenberg from power metal outfit Rhapsody. The foundations are all based on friendship and a desire to create music.

Karma

Consumed by greed
You trade your hearts away
You don’t practice what you preach
Well you’re planting your own dismay

Is it about a band member that did them wrong or a manager or someone else that ripped them off? Either way, it’s a brilliant verse.

And the song is a cross between the Euro modern metal vibe of their earlier bands with Bon Jovi style Choruses. It’s brilliant and I’m a fan.

Closure

It’s got some wicked harmonies for a ballad.

And every single argument’s
Like walking on glass
Whatever the setback
I’ll never look back

Damn right it is. An argument is never fully finished because each party feels like they should have said more, so it just sits there until next time.

Dark Clarity

Again, harmony guitars kick off the song and once the drums come in, it’s moshing time.

I’m romancing a cliché
In this life we portray
We conduct our own demise
I want to break out

We wear so many masks in our daily lives. Sometimes it gets so much living a cliché, we just want to rip those masks off, before it’s too late.

Angel Of Mercy – Black Label Society

I don’t know what it is, but man this song gets the hairs rising on the back of my neck. It brings back memories. I can just imagine lying on my bedroom floor listening to this on headphones! For those that don’t know, the song appears on the album “Catacombs Of the Black Vatican” from Black Label Society. It’s not a 2017 release but it’s been in my playlist since it came out in 2014.

The lead break is pure magic. It just explodes out of the speakers and builds and builds to the point where you cannot help but be in awe at the feel, the melodic phrasing and the disciplined technique on display. The song will never be a hit on the Billboard Charts and due to its mellow nature it might never get a live appearance, but god damn it, the song is a classic.

Til It’s Gone – Kenny Chesney

He’s a country rocker and this song sounds like those southern rock bands of the Seventies for some reason. It’s from his 2014 album, “The Big Revival”. I had to look him up to see what’s the go because to be honest I don’t follow country music. Wikipedia tells me he has recorded 20 albums, 14 of which have been certified Gold or higher by the RIAA. Goes to show that you could be king of your niche/genre but it doesn’t mean that everybody in the world knows who you are.

Got nowhere to go and all night to get there
But I’m going there with you

It’s the opening line of the song and it hooks me in.

The Doomed – A Perfect Circle

I really dig A Perfect Circle. “The Doomed” is their first piece of new music since 2013 and scheduled to appear on their fourth studio album, their first in 14 years. I suppose anything that involves Maynard from Tool, takes time to fruition.

Wikipedia tells me that the song’s origins go back to a small orchestral part written by guitarist/founder Billy Howerdel, who was writing the soundtrack for the indie film D-Love during the band’s downtime in 2015. The part didn’t end up making it in the film; however Howerdel sent the part to band vocalist Maynard James Keenan which Keenan then in return asked Howerdel to write a song around it.

And with anything involving Maynard, the lyrics generate a lot of debate.  Howerdel mentioned that, to him, the song is about how power corrupts the people in control of the world.

Behold the new Christ
Behold the same old horde

It doesn’t matter who gets voted in or who leads a nation or a company. The people who forced out the previous leader are still there. The faceless horde is still scheming and plotting.

Blessed are the fornicates
May we bend down to be their whores?
Blessed are the rich
May we labor, deliver them more

I guess not much has changed in human history. The majority of People are still building the dreams of a few people.

Doomed are the poor
Doomed are the peaceful
Doomed are the meek
Doomed are the merciful

If you have a pure heart and a utopian vision, you are doomed. Lies and deceit rule the day. Ignorance and race rule the day. Money and power rule our lives.

You’re on your own!”

We are always on our own.

Rags to Riches – Babylon A.D

“Rags To Riches” is one of the singles released in the lead up and it hooked me in with its “Atomic Playboys” style riff. Musically its excellent and that solo break with that riff underpinning it, is just brilliant.

Rags to riches, young girl got her wishes

With the whole #METOO movement and people speaking up, maybe the young girl didn’t get what she really wished for.

Wanderlust – Black Country Communion

I dig this “super” group. First, I am a fan of Joe Bonamassa on guitar. Glenn Hughes on bass and vocals is a no brainer. Then when you add the rest of the personal, you can see it’s got some serious cred.

I don’t know what the song is about lyrically. I don’t really care, because the sounds, the groove and the feel hook me in.

Forever Alone – Bigfoot

I dig this. It’s got a cool Journey vibe circa 1980-1983. So I had to Google them to find out more and to be honest, the Google search didn’t give me back much information except they are on Frontiers Records (which is no surprise),

What I did find is they are a 5 piece Hard Rock band based in Wigan, England, formed in 2014. Their website tells me they have influences stemming from many different genres from The Eagles to Pantera.

And this song sounds like Journey.

The Outsider – Black Veil Brides
My Vow – Black Veil Brides

You either dig BVB or hate BVB. There is no in between. Personally, I got into the band because of the guitarists and by album number 3, the songs started to grow on me. These two songs are from album number 5, called “Vale” due to be released January 2018.

The Outsider

You know how A7X copped flack for cloning some great metal songs on “Hail to the King”. Well, I think BVB cloned the whole A7X album on this song. And that my friend is why I love music. The familiarity of the melodies and the sounds.

This wall of stone
That they built to cage our minds

No truths or facts will change a mind that doesn’t want to be changed. And our viewpoints from birth are shaped by the social tribes we grew up in. Eventually as we get older, we start our own research and start to form our own views. And some of us just remain with the views that we grew up with.

Say a prayer, every night
All we hear must be right
I am the outsider

The power of religion is huge. Those words in the Bible are treated like truth. But people are forming different views. I always say that the entities with the power get to rewrite history in a way that it suits them. The wealthiest entity in the world is religion.

My Vow

The way the song starts off hooks me in. The riffs are classic heavy metal straight from the metal 80’s.

Like a bomb that ticks when my heart clicks
I’ll be left for dead with what I’ve said

Such a cool lyric about the moment when the words you say are like a bomb going off in a room.

And that lead break is shredalicious.

Bloodline Lullaby – Otherwise

As soon as it starts, I am reminded of “The Afterman” by Coheed and Cambria.

Another day, another moon

So true.

Any time you’re feeling lonely
Just listen to the wind, you’ll hear me
Sing your song across the sky
This is our bloodline lullaby

It’s about being a parent, the bloodline that ties father to child.

Crazy as it seems, love in the spotlight
Chasing out a dream, living through fault line
You are all I need, you’re my everything
Counting down the hours, so how the time flies
Running the miracle mile, crossing the state lines
I’m right here with you, always true

And that’s the truth. Once you become a parent, your priorities change. Suddenly the spotlight you craved ceases to be the most important thing in your life. And on tour, you are counting down the days before you get back home to see your son or daughter. Not all artists have those same feelings, only some.

God of the Sun – Sons of Apollo
Alive – Sons Of Apollo
Labyrinth – Sons Of Apollo

When I read that Portnoy/Sherinian started a project together I wasn’t interested. However as a fan of Ron Bumblefoot Thal, I was suddenly very interested. And when I read that Portnoy/Sherinian tapped Jeff Scott Soto to do vocals, I was very intrigued.

Any fan of progressive rock/metal will love this album. It has everything that all the great albums have. Even the musical interludes are memorable and hummable, which has become a forgotten art form over the last 15 years as bands play more technical and physically exhausting intricate passages in their songs.

God of the Sun

The Arabian Middle Eastern feel in the intro hooks me in right away and when Bumblefoot kicks in with the riff at 1.20, its breaking desk time. But it gets even better at the 2 minute mark with another head busting, desk breaking riff. And when JSS starts singing at the 2.30 minute mark, the feel is laid back and very Kashmir like in the groove.

Cause I am the light
Surrender tonight
I am the face of tomorrow
Now I’ve just begun
You can’t hide or run
Cause I am the god of the sun

JSS brings out his Dio influences in the chorus. Hell, this passage could have appeared on a Dio/Malmsteen album.

Then at the 5 minute mark, the song moves into a laid back solo section before going all proggy at the 7 minute mark.

Even though I am not a drummer, I remember watching a video of Mark Portnoy discussing how he drums certain songs and he spoke about a cool little technique called Stretch and Grow. It’s like they play a 4 bar riff, with a 1 bar melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff, but this time, the 2 bars of the melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff, and the now 3 bars of the melodic passage. You can see how they are stretching and growing the 1 bar melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff and 4 bars of the melodic passage.

Then they start contract the “Stretch and Grow” back to the 1 bar melodic passage. So it basically goes, 4 bar riff, 4 bar melodic passage, 4 bar riff, 3 bar melodic passage, 4 bar riff, 2 bar melodic passage and it all ends with the same 4 bar riff and 1 bar melodic passage.

And that my friend is Prog 101.

Alive

It’s about drug use. Hell, most of the addictions we have these days are legal ones. Prescription drugs, nicotine and alcohol are all-powerful legal drugs.

Colorize the sadness; the fear is black and white
Tunnel of denial, looking for the light
The devil on my shoulder, the master of disguise
Can you hear him singing?

The song is a power ballad.

Labyrinth

Stare at the wall
Pray for reflection

The black mirror screens we stare at are the walls that reflect back at us.

Cause it takes me in
And I can’t let go
But I’ll never win
In this labyrinth

Social media is a labyrinth. Our quest in connection has created a labyrinth which takes us in and never lets us go. I know the song is not about social media, but making the connection is easy.

Time stands still in this virtual land
There’s no winning this losing hand

And the way the song weaves in and out of progressive rock and hard rock, is like a labyrinth.

Internal Masquerade – Galactic Cowboys

This band had a lot of promo from Geffen Records back in the day, but the audience just didn’t come. Eventually they got dropped and disappeared, only to return. And what a nice return it is.

As soon as the intro riff kicks in, I’m hooked. It’s a combination of natural harmonics and scalar runs, outlining the chord progression.

I’m your fear from deep inside
I’m the hate that you can’t hide
I’m the demons that comprise your very soul
I’m the rose amongst the thorns
I’m the angel with the horns
I’m the deeper darker side of you

How many times have you smiled but really felt like ripping the other person’s head off in rage. We all have that darker side.

The Sin And The Sentence – Trivium
Other Worlds – Trivium
Beyond Oblivion – Trivium
The Revanchist – Trivium
Endless Night – Trivium

It was the James Hetfield vocals on “The Crusade” that hooked me in. Fast forward almost 10 years later and Trivium is still at it and still kicking some butt.

The Sin and the Sentence

The first thing that comes to mind is the T1000 Cybernetic drummer. Wow, the speed and precision. Human capabilities never cease to amaze me.

You better practice your lines
You better practice your words
I know that real monsters lie
Between the light and the shade

Hell, this could be directed at any leader of a democratic country. Isn’t it funny how democratically elected leaders want to turn their country into a totalitarian state, like the same ones our grandfathers went to war to defeat?

You condemn me
Cause you don’t understand me

And that my friend’s is life in a nutshell. The politicians are so out of touch with society and reality, they don’t understand us. They are so wrapped up in their ivory towers I bet if a journalist asked any leader of the U.S, U.K or Australia for the price of bread and milk, they wouldn’t know the answer.

Beyond Oblivion

Matt Heafy sure knows how to write a catchy chorus.

(What have we done?) Creations devised
(What have we done?) To put an end to all life?

Have you seen the AI demonstration that Elon Musk put out on his twitter account. It’s scary. Very scary.

A dead road, a dark sun
Now waits beyond oblivion

Maybe in our quest to conquer nature and get other people to work for us, we create tools that will end up destroying us.

Other Worlds

Cause we’re living in other worlds
Breathing in other worlds

Let me see how many worlds I live in. My home world, my work world, my sporting world, my music world, my social world, my parents world and to be honest I can keep on going forever.

The problem in relationships is when one person spends their time living in a world more than the other person. For example, one person is spending their time living in their home world, while another person is spending their time living in their social world. Suddenly we have a disconnect and a problem.

The Revanchist

Hell I didn’t even know what “Revanchist” meant. Google dictionary tells me it’s “an advocate or supporter of a political policy of revanche, especially in order to seek vengeance for a previous military defeat.” Hell, World War II is a perfect example. The song is a perfect example of storytelling.

I’ve been waiting here on the outside
I’ve been watching you from afar

It sounds like the revanchist is vetting supporters.

You say you’ve lost your world, you say you’ve lost your faith
I’ll be the shelter in the dark, clothe you in my hate

Indoctrination.

Profiteers and preachers
Sycophants and leachers

It doesn’t matter from what social circle you come from. The Revanchist will accept and indoctrinate all.

The Revanchist, his thoughts become mine
How deep they become intertwined
He said, “Submit for salvation, submit for salvation”
The age old lie

The followers are ready to submit themselves to the war of the revanchist. It’s their salvation.

Thunder High On The Mountain – Joe Satriani

It’s one of Satriani’s stronger songs released recently. Just the way it starts it off, with the war like click drum, the orchestra hits and a finger tapped legato line, is brilliant. I’m hooked and I’m paying attention. And the movements between section works.

New World – Robert Plant

This song surprised me when I heard it. The mood, the groove and the vocal melody all work together.

In songs we praise a happy landing
On yet another virgin shore
Escape the booming world
Embrace the new world
Out here the immigrant takes hold
Across the planes and over mountains
Put flight to all who came before
They’re barely human
It’s time to move them
And let them kneel before the sword

Human’s quest for land and power led to cultures being eradicated or enslaved.

Find Your Way Home – King King
Broken – King King

There is a lot of good music out there and artists like “King King” are virtually unknown in the major music markets. It was their cover of Frankie Miller’s “Jealousy” that made me a fan.

Find Your Way Home

It’s a cool bluesy ballad.

How did it work out they we’d be enemies?
Where did everything go wrong?
When the sun goes down on your memories
Please find your way home

He’s basically saying, those memories with emotions attached are killing the relationship. When the sun goes down on them and basically kills em off, come home. He’ll be waiting there for you.

Broken

This world is broken
We can’t hold on
My hope is fading
Our faith is almost gone

We need something to change. The world and our governments of the free world have been hijacked by money.

This Is War – Audrey Horne

My favourite supergroup of extreme metallers (along with “The Night Flight Orchestra”) is back with a new album that brings back memories of the Seventies and Eighties. Once the harmony guitars that sound like “Fear Of The Dark” from Maiden kick in, I’m ready to throw my computer screen at the window.

It’s brilliant.

We will never be silence or divided
This is war

My 2017 call to arms.

Miracle – Story of the Year

I Swear I’m OK – Story of the Year

This band is a favourite of mine. They can be rock, metal and pop all on one album. Their label stuffed em up, by labelling them that whole emo rock/hard-core tag.

I need this more than you know
I need a miracle
Tell me I’m not alone
Please don’t let me go

You are in the situation where change is needed. Your old self needs to be washed off and a new being needs to rise. But you need to make hard choices. Are you read for what will come after? Are you read to let go of what you know?

I’m not the man I promised I would be

It’s from “I Swear I’m OK”. I never make promises as they always lead to disappointment. I can try to commit to do things differently but promises can never be measured.

Nevermore (Acoustic) – Art of Dying

For some reason, when “Art Of Dying” goes acoustic, they rock harder.

Waking Lions – Pop Evil

Waking the lions in me
I’m waking the lions in me

We all have that grit and resilience inside of us. If we choose to do something with it, is a different story all together.

And that my friends brings 2017 to close.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Score Card Inc V2.0

Bon Jovi/Richie Sambora
“Aftermath of the Lowdown” is way better than any Bon Jovi music released from 2007 onwards. It’s deep and personal and there was no way that Jon Bon Jovi would have put his vocals to those songs, so they ended up being Richie Sambora songs. But it did nothing commercially and Sambora is from the cloth of sales and charts. So he went back to the comfort zone of Bon Jovi, but he wasn’t feeling it, so he went solo again,which has morphed into a duo called RSO.

Meanwhile, Bon Jovi continued on as business as usual, making huge profits at the box office. However, all was not well with the label and “Burning Bridges” was meant to be the goodbye letter, but money talks. And Jovi is back in league with the label they hated and a new album called “This House Is Not For Sale” is out. Suddenly the press is going gaga over its number 1 charting and since the legacy labels still control the news cycle. But the album is a flop. It’s second week was a disaster and nothing has been mentioned about its third or fourth week. But, the ones that control news cycle are doing their best to rewrite history, seizing on a few words that Jovi said “down playing Richie’s role in the song writing”. Suddenly, Richie wasn’t involved as much.

The truth is they are better together than apart.

But then again, all of the good bands had a high creative span of about 10 years before they split or went on hiatus. The Beatles, The Eagles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kiss and Aerosmith all had close to 10 years of mega creativity in the 70’s.

Metallica, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith (again), Slayer, Megadeth, Skid Row, Van Halen and many others had a good run from 1980 to 1992.

But the MTV era gave bands a longer shelf life and what we have in the modern age is sub-standard music.

But past success is no guarantee of future success. Our lives and society in general is more fluid, especially when it comes to new music. And Jovi is selling c grade re-writes of past hit songs, and using his brand to do it. There are just not enough new things there to convince people to listen and there’s not enough new things there to convince people who weren’t paying attention before to pay attention now. And Jovi along with Universal are hoping that people pay attention to the marketing and not to what’s inside the album. And the media is out of touch with consumers and the people in general. In all democratic countries, the media is consistently getting it wrong. Hell, they couldn’t even get Brexit and Trump correct because they fail to understand that success or failure is in the hands of the people and not the celebrities. And why haven’t all of the celebrities left UK or the US when Brexit and Trump happened.

What Jovi needed was a hit single. Instead we got 17 songs (that is if you got the deluxe edition) requiring too much of our time. Only diehard super fans will have the time, however, even those fans will have competing priorities these days. U2 is in the same boat and let’s not talk about the mess that was Aerosmith’s last album.

Because bands shouldn’t forget, that their newest release is competing with the history of recorded music and their old hits. I can easily switch from Metallica to Led Zeppelin to Dream Theater to Motley Crue to Ratt to Kiss to Machine Head to Dokken, etc.

Europe
Europe broke through to the mainstream about the same time Bon Jovi did in 1986 and that is where the similarity ends. While Jovi had commercially successful albums in “New Jersey” and “Keep The Faith”, Europe had modest success with “Out of This World” and “Prisoners of Paradise”. Europe then went on hiatus and lost their record deal with Epic in the process, while Jovi went on to more albums and eventually a comeback hit with “It’s My Life”.

But when Europe got their act together in 2003 and got control over their music catalogue, a funny thing happened. They started to make more money then what they did at the peak of their commercial success.

And Europe in 2016, is a better creative entity than Bon Jovi is.

Since 2003, the band has released five albums. The very modern and down tuned “Start from the Dark” album came out in 2004. Then in 2006, the very modern and melodic “Secret Society” album came out. The very modern but retro sounding “Last Look At Eden” album came out in 2009, followed by their jam record in “Bag Of Bones” in 2012. Then in 2015, their classic rock album “War Of Kings” came out.

And suddenly, Europe is getting traction again in the U.S and Australia, but this time it’s on their own terms and their own control. By doing what they do best. Be musicians first and create. They didn’t try and be tech entrepreneur, football club owners, gadget makers and so forth.

Digital Summer
One of the best DIY bands out there. In 2013, they were riding the wave of their fan funded “Breaking Point” album, released in 2012. 2013 also gave us “After Hours: Unplugged & Rewired”, which was followed by a stand-alone single called “50 Shades” in 2015. In between keeping a band going, the guys still hold down full time jobs.

Meanwhile, a new hashtag #DSAquarius has been doing the rounds on their Facebook page while new family additions in the DS world has led to a halt of the songwriting process for the follow up album. That’s how DIY Indie bands roll.

Don Dokken/George Lynch/Jeff Pilson/Mick Brown
In 2013 there was talk of a Dokken reunion but it never happened. Then finally in 2016 it happened and they all got paid well.

Since 2013, George Lynch has been the most creative of the four even though Don Dokken keeps on telling everyone that these projects didn’t do well commercially. Surely an artist should create because of a need to create, not because of a need to make millions.
• 2013 – Lynch Mob – Unplugged: Live from Sugarhill Studios
• 2014 – Lynch Mob – Sun Red Sun
• 2014 – KXM (featuring Doug Pinnick from King’s X and Ray Luzier from Korn)
• 2015 – Lynch Mob – Rebel
• 2015 – George Lynch – Shadow Train
• 2015 – Sweet & Lynch – Only to Rise
And Lynch has new releases coming out for Project N Fidelikah, Lynch Mob and KXM in 2016 and 2017 and it looks like Sweet and Lynch will have another album coming out as well.

Dokken on the other hand, released Broken Bones in 2012 and a rumoured project with Michael Schenker is still being talked about. Meanwhile, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown have become touring go to guys for Foreigner and Ted Nugent.

Black Veil Brides
So in January 2013, the Black Veil Brides told us “The Story Of The Wild Ones”, their concept rock opera about standing up against the army of F.E.A.R., which was also adapted into a film called “Legion of the Black”. The lead single, “In the End” became a streaming behemoth for the band with 32,301,515 streams and still counting.

Then in October 2014, they released their self-titled album, otherwise known as “Black Veil Brides IV” with Bob Rock as the producer. It gave birth to a favourite of mine in “Goodbye Agony” and on Spotify it has racked up 7,105,442 streams. Sonically it’s one of their best recordings. Since then Andy Biersack issued a solo release and we wait for new music from BVB. Like a lot of other bands in music, having new music out on a yearly basis is the new thing, like how it was in the seventies and eighties.

Zakk Wylde/Black Label Society
In 2013, Zakk dropped “Unblackened” a live acoustic album, which was forgettable, but no one can forget “Angel Of Mercy” (currently it has over 1.5 million streams) and that unbelievable lead section from Zakk.

“Angel Of Mercy” appeared on the “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” album released in 2014. Then in 2016, we got another acoustic album in “Book Of Shadows II”, but what we want is another groove metal Black Label Society album.

Dynazty
Matt Heafy from Trivium tweeted once that he has found his new favourite band. And I don’t disagree with him at all. Sweden has a healthy hard rock and metal scene and Dynazty is another to add to that list. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, the band was formed in 2007 and it wasn’t until 2008 that they found a lead singer. Fast forward 8 years later and I am hearing the band for the first time in 2016.

And they sum up what it means to be involved in the music business. You exist today completely off the radar screen. And eventually, people will notice. But it takes time.

It makes me want to scream “Fire, Flames, Fury”.

Black Stone Cherry
It’s the era of the bands with Black in their band name. Black Sabbath, Black Veil Brides, Black Label Society and Black Stone Cherry just to name a few. Vocalist Chris Robertson on the earlier recordings sounded better than Chris Cornell ever did. In 2013, the band was recording “Magic Mountain” and it came out in 2014. While 2016 gave us the “Kentucky” album (the band’s 5th album) and the ten year anniversary of their debut album.

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It’s Always Been About The Songs

“The biggest thing that surprised me about fame was that it was fleeting. You work so hard to get there and you just assume that it’s some sort of finish line, or you take a victory lap and maybe spike the ball, run around the field screaming ‘Goal,” I don’t know.”
Dee Snider 

It is pretty well-known how long and hard Twisted Sister worked at getting their sound and image out to the masses. It is also pretty well-known how short their fame was in the Eighties and how quickly they faded from the conversation.

You see, the biggest untold story in music is that when an artist hits a high with one album/song, it doesn’t mean that the next album/song will also hit that same high.

“Stay Hungry” sold over 2 million copies when “Come Out And Play” was released in 1985. At that point in time, “Under The Blade” was still selling, “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” was still selling and so was “Stay Hungry”. Because when an album crosses over into the mainstream, the back catalogue of the artists suddenly become popular.

Then a new album drops and suddenly the sales are not as high as the previous album. It doesn’t mean the band is not famous or popular anymore, it just meant that a re-adjustment was going on with the fans.

A lot of fans were still digesting the back catalogue and a lot of fans moved on to the next flavour of the year.

So instead of Twisted Sister’s management team booking a normal theatre and shed tour, they booked an arena tour for “Come Out And Play”. And when the arena shows failed to sell out, the tour got canned which cost the band money. The merchandise agreement for the tour became null and void which cost the band money.

“The reality is that rock and roll, in the mainstream, it’s in a difficult place right now. People don’t buy music, and they certainly don’t buy rock bands’ music in the way that they used to. And so, for our genre, it’s kind of… We’re limping along when it comes to public appeal. I believe that rock and roll is alive and well. I just think that people need to show their support and let the genre keep thriving.”
Andy Biersack – Black Veil Brides

People never wanted to buy music. I know I never did. I wanted to listen to music. However, corporations got involved with music, and a big business was born from it. Guess how many records Kiss sold from their first album, before they started to record their second album.

If you answered 70,000 units, then you are correct. If you don’t believe me, read Paul Stanley’s “Face The Music”. Metallica’s “Kill Em All” didn’t set any sales records when it came out either. Nine months after the album’s release, Metallica went back into the studio to record “Ride The Lightning”.

But today, bands want instant success. They want their first album to sell like Metallica’s “Black” album or Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”.

“Metal was really strong in the 80s and kind of had hard times in the 90s. I think we treaded water and kept alive and kept focused on being Testament, and writing songs that we wrote without thinking or trying to change and play with what’s current at the time. It really hurt a lot of bands trying to do that. Fortunately, we didn’t do that. We went opposite. We went a little darker and heavier at that time. Then the metal got healthy again, and coming out the other end, we were in the right spot with the direction we were going, and the history we had, it just carried through. Metal has been real strong since the early 2000s. It’s been gradually picking up. I see the generation changing with a lot more younger fans coming to shows now over the last ten years.”
CHUCK BILLY – Testament

The crux of longevity is the replenishing of your fan base, year after year. And you do that by being in the game. Each album release will do some of the following;

  • Pick up new fans and keep all of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose some of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose all of the old fans
  • Keep all of the old fans
  • Lose some of the old fans

It’s just the way it is. You see for me, I lost interest in Testament after Alex Skolnick left. My cousin Mega, still purchased their albums, I heard them and forgot them. It was just part of getting older. Musical tastes changed for a while. That is why in 2015, my music collection has everything from folk, blues, classic rock, metal, hard rock, glam rock, thrash metal, death metal, metalcore, progressive rock, etc…

So in 2015, the album is just not as important as it was once was. With streaming it is all about the songs. For all the artists that complain about sales, the truth is if you’re popular, people want to listen to your music and they want more of it, if it is good. My kids don’t even care if the songs all came from the same album.

Today, the artists get paid every time we listen.

Elektra sold Metallica’s self-titled album and the band only got paid once for the sale. Today, Metallica is cleaning up, as fans are streaming their tracks over and over again. They are getting paid continuously. And right now payments are low, but they will grow as more people subscribe. And if we are listening to our favourites music, they will get paid forever.

So it all comes down to listens and good songs have a long listening life, a long time to make money.

And it’s always been about good songs.

Metallica did not break big until “Enter Sandman” crossed over. Twisted Sister did not break big until “We’re Not Gonna Take It” crossed over.

We all want more if the artists are great and the hard truth is that very few are.

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The Perfect Album Of 2014

We know that metal and rock bands need to get their heads away from the album format. From all of the 2014 releases that I heard, there was not an album that I loved from start to finish. So for my top 10 list, I have sequenced my favourite songs like an “album”. (Everyone gasps).

It looks pretty solid from start to finish.

Machine Head – Now We Die

It’s the first track and lead single from “Bloodstone and Diamonds”.

Cast off the shackles of the past
Live in the moment nothing ever lasts

So true, live in the now because no one knows when that last day being alive is.

A family friend died last week at 50 years of age however he actually died over 10 years when his wife left him. He just never got over it and it led to 4 heart attacks, stents, pace makers and in the end it was a brain haemorrhage that did it. A few days ago, the mother of a kid I coach in football died from a heart attack. She was under 40 years of age.

The recording business is so enraptured about what they lost that they fail to see the opportunities of the day and what they stand to gain.

Vanishing Point – Distant Is The Sun

One of Australia’s best kept secrets when it comes to melodic metal. This is the title track of their new album that almost didn’t get made.

 How many times can you walk away
How many years can you give to crying

It covers the years in between albums and the struggle to get the album done due to life being life. They dealt with a record company going bust, band members leaving, shelving the music written with those band members, starting from scratch again, the death of a family member and then finding inspiration to continue.

Evergrey – King Of Errors

The anti-heroes from Sweden. As a fan, there has not been a bad release from them. “Hymns For The Broken” is no different and “King Of Errors” is a great comeback song.

They call us kings
And then we fall down broken

Social media accounts put out an image that all is well in our lives. There we are, happy, smiling, taking selfies with others and having a good time.

I know that life is peaks and valleys. We could be kings and queens for a while but it doesn’t sustain. We all have our lows. We all make errors. I made errors and I made choices that led me to where I am today.

Black Label Society – Angel Of Mercy

“Zakk’s developing into a monster. If you listen to his guitar playing there’s a little bit of Hendrix here, some other stylings there. He’s putting it all together in his own way. Zakk’s a musician for the future.”

OZZY – Guitar World, October 1989

Enough said.

Door of memories
Closed forevermore

I love the analogy of using the door to keep the memories from leaking out. We never want to lose all of those good and bad memories. In the end they make us who we are today.

Intervals – Automation

Intervals is another progressive band from Canada with a cult like following. I came across their name when I saw them on a tour poster with bands that I support like Periphery, Protest The Hero and TesserAct.

“Automation” is from their 2014 self-funded/released album “A Voice Within”.

After a few instrumental releases, this is their first one to feature vocals and what a stellar job they did with it.

The gears pulling forward
Always falling into place
The battle I know is over
Despite the effort and haste

The Kindred – Heritage

Yep, another band from Canada that was formerly known as “Today I Caught The Plague” and one of the best progressive bands out there that everyone needs to hear. This song is from the album “Life In Lucidity” released on Sumerian Records.

Now stand on the shoulders of history’s tallest thinkers
See that their height is borrowed from predecessors
And even the worst ideas can spur better conceptions
Pushing humankind along an evolutionary rite of passage

The whole British Rock movement in the Sixties came about because of the love the British musicians had for the American Blues movement. They borrowed from their predecessors to make new creations. Hell, Led Zeppelin took blue and folk staples and built a career of that. That E7(#9) chord that Jimi Hendrix so famously used in “Purple Haze” was used consistently by Wes Montgomery years before. However it is known to the masses as the “Hendrix Chord”.

We’ll be tomorrow’s heritage
The giants of advancing thought
But if only we respect the statuesque preceding

Machine Head – Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones

It was hard to pick a song from Machine Head because “Sail Into The Black”, “Killers and Kings” and “Game Over” are all up there as well, however “Ghosts Will Haunt My Bones” was a favourite right from the start. That whole intro build up made me want to pick up my work desk and throw it out the window.

From my throat the agonies emit
My demons wrestle and my thoughts conflict
The stench of bile, as I purge this hate
An inner struggle I can’t separate

With all that was happening behind the scenes between the Machine Head members it is a miracle that this album was finished and finally released.

Adrenaline Mob – Dearly Departed

Adrenaline Mob’s aura is a throwback to the Eighties period. Yeah, I know they might have had some nu-metal style of riffing in some songs, overall, the feel is still classic Eighties.

I gave you everything
Took you under my wing
With open arms brought you in the family

I don’t allow people into my life that easily anymore. The band members from my last band left me cautious and then when they put in song writing claims for songs that I had registered in 2005 (and the band formed in 2008, with the bass player that also put in a claim joining in 2010) I was furious. The deceitfulness shown by them I thought wasn’t possible in humans and it was a real eye-opener to me to be more careful.

Fight or Flight – Leaving

The side project that featured members from Evans Blue and Disturbed.

Living life through compromise

Being married for more than fifteen years is basically living a life through compromise on both sides. Having kids further compromises that life. Working a Monday to Friday job is another compromise. Get where I am going with this. Are there any people out there that have never compromised anything of themselves?

Sanctuary – The Year The Sun Died

Sanctuary are a cult favourite of mine and the thing is as much as I tried to get into Nevermore, I just couldn’t. Then came Warrel Dane’s solo album and I was like “yeah”. And with Sanctuary’s new one, it’s a “Fuck Yeah”.

What if there is nothing more?
What if there is only emptiness?
What if there is nothing more
Beyond the code of deliverance?
What if everything decays?
What if we’ve all just been betrayed?
The code of deliverance leads us closer
We are closer to the end

It’s like a modern-day “Draconian Times” from Paradise Lost all wrapped up into one song.

ONE LAST ENTRY: Black Veil Brides – Faithless

Say what you want about them and their look but man, this band has two deadset shredders in Jinxx (plus he plays a mean violin) and Jake Pitts.

“Faithless” is a riff romp and the Bob Rock production just takes it to another level. Even the vocal tone of Andy Biersack which I am not a big fan off is pretty good under the tutelage of Rock.

Live with defiance
It’s time to fight
Don’t ever let them keep your words from being heard

Dee Snider would be proud.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Music Is All About Change

The new music industry is all about change.

Do you think that if you pull your music from Spotify that it is not available on YouTube with ad support (which means income) and with no ad support (which means no income).

The new music industry is about exploring different business models and seeing which one works for you.

Black Veil Brides had a Pre-Order pledge campaign for their new album and the perks on offer just kept on getting sold out. First week U.S sales are anaemic at 29,925 however does that mean that the album is not popular or that it is not a success. Go on YouTube. The BVBArmyVEVO account shows 2,206,786 views for the “Heart Of Fire” video, 1,208,958 for the “Faithless” audio and recently a clip went up for the ballad “Goodbye Agony” and that has already accumulated 464,059 views. Compared to their big song “In The End” with 36,560,728 views, you can see that the fan base is experiencing the band in many different ways. In this case, the band and their team (record labels, managers, accountants, lawyers and publishers) are making money from the Pledge Campaign, YouTube views, streams on other services, physical sales, mp3 sales and radio plays.

Coheed and Cambria had a vinyl remastered re-issue of “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” which sold out its first pressing and then they went on a sold out commemoration tour of the album. They are remaining relevant even though their last album came out in February 2013. For them, 2014 was all about touring, vinyl sales, special edition live box sets and merchandise.

Basically new business models from bands are reshaping the way music is marketed and distributed. There are countless new artists emerging and there are countless new ways for fans to listen to those artists.

The music industry of the past consisted of great control. Distribution in those days consisted of record stores. Technology has made way for new opportunities, thus creating new models. The internet has eliminated a lot of past costs within the music industry; this goes for the way music is recorded, the format of music, the marketing, and especially the distribution outlets. New models have taken away the control aspect.

Digital Summer recently asked a Facebook question to their followers about how does everyone find new music. They wanted to know how their fans had heard of them and where they usually hear new music they like? I went through the comments and grouped them into categories.

Radio like Sirius XM Octane, local terrestrial stations, Pandora, Slacker Radio, iHeart, etc got 137 votes for 26%. At this point in time radio is still the best way to get your music out there. However it is the Live show that seals the deal for the band.

Live Shows especially comments around the opening slot that they had on the current Volbeat tour got 121 votes for 23%. It looks like the band really delivers on stage. Also the comments kept on saying that the band members took time out to meet newly converted fans and showed them where they can get free downloads of the band’s music. It’s all about connecting with fans folks.

Word of mouth from fans or band members got 63 votes for 12%. With the internet connecting everyone, I expect this to be more relevant.

YouTube via the algorithm suggestions got 57 votes for 11%. The tech industry is fragmented. When you combine the platforms like YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MySpace, Online publications, other online platforms and Amazon, you get a 37% reach from the Techies.

Spotify via the similar artists feature got 30 votes for 6%

Twitter via the band members following someone and that someone goes on to check the band out got 25 votes for 5%.

iTunes via the Genius or suggestions based on previous purchases got 25 votes for 5%.

Promotions like having cool looking merchandise, flyers, giving away free demo CD’s, having their stickers plastered all over town, endorsement companies, music stores got 16 votes for 3%.

Other Online Platforms like Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Google Play, XBOX Music, Last.fm, Gaming Music Videos got a combined 13 votes which also equates to 2%.

Instagram via the band members liking photos posted by users or following users got 10 votes for 2%. This was a surprise, however the work that the band members have done on this site is astounding. One fan commented that they are a Gemini Syndrome fan and when they posted a photo of Gemini Syndrome on Instagram, one of the Winterstein brothers liked the photo. The soon to be fan, clicked on his account, saw they had a band, checked out the band and then became a fan.

Facebook and MySpace got 10 votes each for 2%. Goes to show that while Facebook is a good tool for connecting with fans once you have them, it is not a good tool for finding new fans.

Online publications like Stereogum, Loudwire, Jango, Revolver, Ultimate-Guitar got 6 votes for 1%. This is another fragmented industry. The online publications offer no substance, no personal opinion. It’s just all thumbs up, pat my back and I will pat yours style of reporting.

The Pirate Bay/Torrents got 4 votes for 1%. Looks like copyright infringement is not such a big issue.

Amazon got 3 votes for 1%. This is how I found out about the band. Their “Counting The Hours” album came up with bands I might like based on my purchases.

So what does tell any new artist trying to build a career in music.

Be ready to change on the whim and be ready to try different ways of promoting, connecting and marketing your music.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The World Created By Black Veil Brides

I am listening to the new Black Veil Brides album. So far I am five songs in and it is pretty good. Stand outs from the first five are the relentless “Faithless” and “World Of Sacrifice” while the ballad “Goodbye Agony” brings back memories of Bruce Dickinson’s “Tears Of The Dragon”. They are one band that gets a lot of hate from the metal elitists. They look like girls, so how can they be metal. They play commercial metal, so they can’t be metal. They follow fads so they are not genuine and therefore cannot be metal. I have read it all and I continue to laugh at the reasons people come up with for not liking the band.

However, they just keep on keeping on. Whatever boxes they need to tick on their world domination plan they are ticking. And they are doing it by focusing on their world. They understand the game that no one can be the biggest and best in everything. They’ve found their own thing that they stand for and they are working for the fans that stand with them. We all know that successful artists are NOT loved by everyone. Successful artists are hated as much as they are loved. It comes with the territory.

Five Finger Death Punch have connected with the blue-collar working class, the extreme sports and the military class.

Coheed and Cambria have connected with the comic book rock culture and fans that enjoy both narratives, heavy music and great storytelling.

Killswitch Engage with Jesse Leach on vocals are both political and entertaining at the same time.

Evergrey have connected with the people who don’t find the world as happy as social media makes it out to be.

Black Veil Brides have found a niche audience and that is their particular strength. The key for any artist is to ensure that the audience base is always added to or replenished by new fans or young fans. It’s like a ten-year cycle. AC/DC had an audience in the seventies, that got replenished in 1980 via “Back In Black” and by 1990, the audience base got replenished again via “The Razors Edge”. Dream Theater found an audience with “Images and Words”. That audience base got a boost almost 7 years later with “Metropolis Part 2”. The in the two thousands, “Train Of Thought” and “Systematic Chaos” brought in a metal audience while “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” and “Octavarium” saw a new progressive art rock fan base.

Being a metal/rock artist is not just about making music. It’s about a whole lifestyle that our favourite artists represent. Everything that Black Veil Brides does represents what their music represents. In This Moment is another artists that represents this lifestyle. They have both become the very thing that people associate with.

BVB are putting their own rock and metal concoction out there. It is a mixture of rock, metal, punk, pop, shred and thrash. They have dressed like goths, glam rockers, “Mad Max – Shout At The Devil” look and now they are dressed in metal black. That is where the backlash comes from. However they have their own style and following. And in a world that is moving to streaming services with each passing day, they still do decent sales numbers. They have defined their kingdom, their world, their space in the music business and now they are out to rule it. It’s never about the breaking into the mainstream. No metal/rock act has broken into the mainstream. The mainstream has come looking for them only when those acts have exploded all over the world.

Metallica, all but ignored by the mainstream became mainstream darlings after every circulation wanted them in their zine due to the massive Black album.

The take away in all this is to find your own world in the music business and dominate it. Your audience is the people who share the same tastes, values, attitude and lifestyle with you. When you know who those people are, you can travel around the world, because those people are everywhere, once you know who you are looking for.

And for the album, it is a solid listen.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Guitar Heroes

“There are guitar heroes and there are band guys. Guitar heroes are the top dogs – whatever they say goes. Band guys are team players, committed to the chemistry of the whole. Steve Howe is a band guy from way back.”

October 1989 Guitar World…

Players like Zakk Wylde, Slash, John Petrucci and Marc Tremonti could easily be classed as band guys. James Hetfield is all about Metallica and of course there are many more that have come and gone.

In that same issue George Lynch spoke about his relationship with Don Dokken and how his new band Lynch Mob is a band that will not have a revolving door of musicians just because the band leader might have woken up on the wrong side of the bed. We all know how that turned out.

So it got me thinking about guitar players who are plying their trade day in and day out without getting the recognition they really deserve. It’s tough to be an artist regardless of era. Today, the main focus is on money. However music slays money all the time if done right and when it is done right it usually generates a pile of it anyway.

And I started focusing on two guitar bands that are doing the rounds at the moment. The only criteria I used is that the guitar partnership was formed/created at the start of the 2000’s with their respective bands.

Tom Englund/Henrik Danhage

Evergrey is about to make twenty years in the business and they are stronger than ever in popularity. Thank Tom Englund for keeping the flame burning. They are a band that doesn’t go out to write hit singles however some of the fan base believe they did just that with the “Monday Morning Apocalypse” album in 2006. For me, Evergrey is Evergrey. Dark, honest, melodic and hopeful.

The Englund/Danhage partnership started in 2000, ceased in 2010 and rekindled again in 2013. Clearly the magic is still there. For the uninitiated check out the albums “Hymns For The Broken”, “The Inner Circle” and “Torn”.  “The Inner Circle” album gave me a whole new inspiration to create music again.

They are the antidote, the complete opposite of our phony culture.

Zoltan Bathory/Jason Hook

Five Finger Death Punch are record label darlings at this point in time. With the first three albums all going Gold and the current Volumes 1 and 2 both pushing close to that mark what isn’t there to like from a record label point of view.

Underpinning the mighty PUNCH is the rhythm playing of Zoltan Bathory. Rooted in European metal and its modes, with a dash of hard rock and melodic death metal, Bathory consistently delivers head banging, foot stomping riffola. And no one could have predicted the success that would come.

The Bathory/Hook partnership started in 2009. For the uninitiated check out “War Is The Answer”, “American Capitalist” and “The Wrong Side Of Heaven Volume 1”.

And yes, Five Finger Death Punch are consistent sellers proving once again, people will invest their time and money if they believe in the MESSAGE!

Adam Dutkiewicz/Joel Stroetzel

This partnership started before 2000, however Dutkiewicz was the drummer back then. But in 2001, Dutkiewicz took up the guitar again and a whole new era kicked off.

For the uninitiated check out “The End of Heartache”, “As Daylight Dies” and “Disarm the Descent”. “As Daylight Dies” was an important album for me, as it combined melodic vocals, with brutal riffs and technical playing. Even though the band is not classed as a progressive band, they are progressive. It is a shame that in 2014, progressive music is seen as how fast and technical you can get, where in the past progressive music didn’t mean that. And that is the definition that Killswitch Engage inherits.

Robb Flynn/Phil Demmel

They are like an old act that took four albums to find their voice and hit a groove. And what a groove they found in “The Blackening”. Enough said.  Also “Unto The Locust” is no slouch either and from what I have heard so far, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” is shaping up to be a monster.

Their Machine Head partnership began in 2003 although they knew each other from their time spent in Vio-Lence, it wasn’t until they got together to write the follow-up to the backs to the wall comeback album, “Through The Ashes Of Empires” that they set a new standard in metal and thrash circles. A three-year touring cycle followed. A deserved victory lap for a brilliant album.

And the thing about Robb Flynn that I like is that he fights back. If he is wrong, he apologizes however if he is not wrong he defends himself. Just because someone is criticizing him it does not mean they’re right. And Robb Flynn doesn’t give in so easily.

Claude Sanchez/Travis Stever

Coheed and Cambria have played a vital role in my developing skills as a songwriter. The “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth” and it’s follow up, “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV” showed what can be achieved when you mash-up so many different styles into a story line. “Welcome Home” is a perfect example. It has punk elements, pop elements and classic rock elements. “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth” they showcase prog rock, atmospheric rock and classic rock with a twang of modern rock.

In other words, Coheed and Cambria are unlike anything else. They are so far from the me-too artist that is always trumped up by the media reporting outlets. An artist tests limits and Claude Sanchez definitely falls into this space.

Synester Gates/Zacky Vengeance

There is nothing about Avenged Sevenfold that hasn’t been planned and analysed to the smallest detail. Before they even started they decided on stage names, which is a throwback to the classic rock artists and the Eighties metal heroes. With their BLACK album “Hail To The King” they finally have songs that just rock on the stage.

I witnessed the energy the new songs output compared to the older more complex material. In relation to guitar playing, check out “Afterlife” and “Second Heartbeat”.

Even the mighty Zakk Wylde said that Gates is “the torchbearer for the young kids now to play solos, learn the scales, and develop a feel.”And with Synester’s influences ranging from Zakk Wylde, Dimebag Darrell, Slash, John Petrucci, Allan Holdsworth and Frank Gambale, a torchbearer he is.

Luke Hoskin/ Tim Millar

These guys are a perfect example of succeeding through hard work and hewing to their own vision and refusing to adjust to others’ input. While other artists might have had more of the limelight, all this did was allow the Protest The Hero guys to refine their song writing in relative obscurity.

For definitive albums, you can’t go past their new one “Volition”. Funded by the fans and written for the fans.

Matt Heafy/ Corey Beaulieu

Many of us are hooked by something. Trivium is one such band that hooked me. I put it down to their cover version of “Master Of Puppets”. Hell, they sounded better than Metallica.

And the thing that really connects with me is that they are always exploring themselves as artists. They don’t know if they are on the right path, but they are always trying to get there and that is important.

“Shogun” will be seen as their masterpiece album however songs like “In Waves” and “Strife” have proven to take a life on their own. I am really looking forward to their gig with In Flames in November.

Jake Pitts/Jinxx

With so many hard rock or modern rock bands out there, who does a person decide what band to gravitate to as our time is precious.

Having two guitar players that bring back memories of the early eighties is a good start. And that is where Black Veil Brides come in. Now the vocals are hit and miss but there is no denying the quality of the guitar playing and the song writing.

Dee Snider even called them “rockstars”.

Matthew Tuck/Michael “Padge” Paget

A similar set up like Trivium and their career trajectory is almost identical.

Like “Shogun” for Trivium, “Scream/Aim/Fire” is a definitive thrash metal album for Bullet For My Valentine.

Then there are songs from “Fever” and “Temper Temper” that have taken a life of their own. In this case “The Last Fight” and “Breaking Point”.

With so much new music, I usually stop paying attention and go back to my favourites. The above artists have proven themselves since the start of the 2000’s to become my favourites. For other up and comers, yell at me to notice you and I will ignore you. Yell a little bit more, and I will just retreat and burrow down deeper into my favourites.

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