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

Score Card Inc

Three years ago in November, 2013, I posted a score sheet on certain artists/trends and how they are dealing with the music business.

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

Robb Flynn
He still understands that it is not all about making records. From Nov 2013 to now, Robb Flynn via Machine Head, kept on releasing his Journals both video and written. In April, 2014, “Killers and Kings” came out for Record Store Day and the band went on tour. He started a clothing range called “Killers and Kings” that didn’t really take off. In November, 2014, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” came out and the band embarked on a lengthy “An Evening With” world tour. In June 1, 2016, “Is There Anybody Out There?” came out as a stand-alone single.

His connection with his audience runs deep. People either dig him or detest him or some people will not just forget him in an orange jumpsuit during the Nu-Metal phase of the band’s career.

Protest The Hero
Back in 2013, “Protest The Hero” showed how the record labels are so out of touch with its customers. PTH was dropped because the label told them they have no audience. However, a fan funding campaign showed a pretty impressive hard-core audience that was willing to cough up some serious dollars for the band. Even the band was blown away at the response.

And they did it again between Nov 2015 and April 2016 with “Pacific Myth” an innovative one song per month release over six months via Bandcamp. Fans had the option of two packages, and I selected the one that also had the six video releases. In between, the guys would upload drum videos, cooking videos, song transcriptions and what not.

Nikki Sixx
In 2013, he talked about a farewell tour. Well that tour finally happened and concluded in 2015. The Crue fan base didn’t really need one more world tour however, they wanted to finish up in their own way and the world tour is what we got, with a new song called “All Bad Things”. The movie is still in the works, they have their own pleasure toys, a rumour of The Dirt 2, plus lawsuits from photographers and opening bands to contend with. Seriously, squirting piss at a bunch of guys who paid $1 million to be on the tour would always end up in the courts.

With Sixx A.M. he has released an albums worth of music and the next album is coming in a few weeks. They are on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, he does his Sixx Sense Radio Show and he doesn’t like to wash his hands after going to the toilet.

Coheed and Cambria
By November, 2013, COCA had been touring non-stop on the back of “The Afterman” two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus Sci-Fi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Since then, Claude Sanchez became a dad. He wrote more comics with his wife called “Translucid” in 2014 and in 2015 managed to release another slab of songs called “The Color Before The Sun” and go on a another world tour.

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Well, we are almost one week away from that new music hitting the streets and in the meantime, we have been treated to three tracks.
It’s a welcome relief to hear Metallica doing what they do best and I believe they have enough new music in their archives for another album to drop within two years this time, instead of eight.

And after hearing the album – yes it is available on the pirate sites, I can honestly say that it’s not worth the 8 year wait at all and maybe 4 song EP’s is the best way to go.

Dream Theater
I wrote in November 2013, that they need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Dream Theater has a knack for popping up with some goodies, like “Images and Words”, “Scenes From A Memory”, “Systematic Chaos” and “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

So in January 2016, they dropped the 130 minute “Astonishing” concept album, about a dystopian future society. Concept albums lead to different revenue spin offs like a stage play, comic book stories, video games, animations, TV series, a movie and so forth. But then again, Slayer are doing a graphic comic book series and have never done a concept album.

Stone Sour
I wrote in 2013, that something went south with their career trajectory. Of course, a beast called Slipknot would devour the creative forces of the band. Their take on modern metal is good, but with Slipknot getting more melodic, is there a reason for Stone Sour to exist.

Five Finger Death Punch
They have an audience who purchases and streams their product. Along the way, each album has received certifications for so many units moved. An onstage meltdown, a record label lawsuit and then a change of label has not slowed the band down in any way. If they can remain together, they will remain a powerhouse.

Trivium
Back in November, 2013, their new album “Vengeance Falls” was called a Disturbed covers album. The truth is, if people are talking about you, it is a good thing. And that album gave Trivium a concert classic in “Strife”. Since then, they released “Silence In The Snow” in 2015. They are always looking to reinvent themselves constantly while staying true to heavy metal. Plus Matt Heafy has a pretty cool Top 10 list of albums that changed his life.

1. Metallica – The Black Album (1991)
“A kid lent me The Black Album at school and it changed my life. I had never heard anything like it before, and I started playing guitar all the time.”

2. In Flames – Whoracle (1997)
“That was at the time of Napster, and I was into the classic great metal bands. I was on Napster and I found In Flames. I had never heard melodic death metal before, and it changed my ear on what kind of music I wanted to play.”

3. Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
“What I’ve always loved about Queen is that they’ve never released the same thing twice. Everything is drastically different while still sounding like Queen. Every song on A Night At The Opera sounds different to the next one and they all stand up as fantastic.”

4. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
“With Iron Maiden it’s hard, because I love so many of their records. They’re all so important. Seventh Son, though, is the one that really got me into Iron Maiden. It’s one of their more epic records; there’s vivid storytelling going on. Getting into Iron Maiden helped me trace the roots of the music that I love. I could see where so many metal, death metal and black metal bands had taken things from.”

5. Ihsahn – Eremita (2012)
“Emperor changed my life, and Ihsahn changed my life again with this album. He spun the idea of black metal on its head by incorporating jazz chords, interesting production and clean singing. That record taught me to never be afraid of making whatever I want to make. We’ve always done that, but this album drove that home for me.”

6. Boston – Boston (1976)
“The vocal production is insane. Everything about this record epitomises the best things of rock ‘n’ roll.”

7. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
“The Beatles blow my mind in the same way that Queen do in that every song and record is so different to the last. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters as well. It’s not like nowadays where you might have one songwriter in a band.”

8. Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (1997)
“This is where Emperor really changed the dynamic of where black metal was going. Black metal was the rebellion to rock and metal, and was supposed to be different. “When there’s a movement like that, a lot of bands come out playing semi-similar music. That record opened up with clean guitar and there’s this classical singing; it has chaotic moments and beautiful moments all in one. Emperor makes such interesting black metal with these big dramatic moments.”

9. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
“Listening to Depeche Mode, you can hear that Rammstein is a combination of Depeche Mode and Metallica. Violator is one of the darkest, scariest records I’ve ever heard. It has this different kind of sadness that you feel in the music.”

10. The London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart’s Requiem (1791)
“The gothic artwork of that record is incredible, and this version for me is just the best. Listening to this, you can hear that out of all contemporary music, metal is the closest living relative to classical. It is the most epic moments of music that have always drawn me in, and I feel that with Mozart’s Requiem that is where you’re getting into the blueprint for everything that was to come.”

Shinedown
They have an audience who want to listen to them and so far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them. Their new album “Threat To Survival” has taken its influences from Adele, Imagine Dragons and other pop artists and they still made it rock hard. Daughtry and James Durbin should take note. Along the way, their fans purchased and streamed all the way to certification after certification.

Avenged Sevenfold
Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a bigger risk for Avenged Sevenfold then their new album and it paid off for them.

Fast forward to 2016, and their new album drops early. It is a creative tour de force but to me it’s already in the rear view. All of the good bits in each song are undone by the creativity of trying to push the boundaries.

Piracy
In 2013, I wrote that piracy is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be and with revenues in 2016, approaching the pre-Napster era, it’s further proof that piracy does not affect their bottom lines, especially when there are services out there that can compete with piracy.

Evergrey
The pure definition of perseverance with 20 plus years in the music business and still going strong.

By November 2013, the “new” version of the band that delivered “Glorious Collision” had splintered again and lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund was not sure on the next step. A reconnection with drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage (who departed before “Glorious Collision”) spawned the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” in 2014 and a few months ago, “The Storm Within” builds on the atmospherics created by “Hymns”.

Megadeth
In 2013, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider” was outsold by Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album. In 2015, Mustaine got his metal chops back and in 2016, “Dystopia” came out. Another Mustaine Resurrection was at hand.

Tremonti/Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti knows it’s about putting new music out there and consistently. In 2013, we had “Fortress” from Alter Bridge. In 2015, we had “Cauterize” from Tremonti and 2016 has given us, “Dust” from Tremonti and “The Last Hero” from Alter Bridge. In three years, Tremonti has been part of 4 albums while Metallica ……

The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project ever from Soilwork and Arch Enemy band members. The first album “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and the second “Skyline Whispers” in 2015. Essential listening to any hard rock fans of the 80’s.

Sales
In 2013, I wrote that sales are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in the market. In 2016, listens are more important than sales.

Bullet For My Valentine
By November 2013, people had lost their “Temper Temper” with them, but in 2015, the band found their “Venom” again, which leads us to new music hitting the net in November 2016.

Revolution Saints
In 2013, this band existed in the head of the Frontiers President. In 2015, they released an excellent melodic AOR rock album. So much potential, so many good songs, great musicians and it all went to hell because Castronovo couldn’t keep his 5555t together. Let’s hope that Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich forgive him and they try for another album. This time with the three of them writing.

TesseracT
One of the hardest working progressive bands out there, building their fanbase, city by city. In 2011, they released “One”. In 2013, they released the excellent “Altered State” and in 2015 we got “Polaris”.

Days Of Jupiter
An unsung Swedish melodic groove rock band, that’s a cross between Evergrey and Disturbed. In 2012 they released “Secrets Brought to Life” and in 2015, “Only Ashes Remain” came out.

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

Muse
They play stadiums but they don’t have the same sales figures as the 70’s and 80’s legends. A perfect example of the modern world, in which massive single songs sell concert tickets.

Live
In 2013, I wrote;
Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Concert ticket prices are still high, especially for the superstar acts. The price gauge happened as an offset to dwindling revenues from recorded sales, however with recorded music revenue now as high as the pre-Napster era, there is no reason for the high concert ticket prices.

Slash
As an artist, he didn’t need to go back to Gunners. He had enough momentum to keep going as a solo artist and with Myles Kennedy, a better front man than Axl Rose. Slash kept on releasing new music consistently, while Duff and Axl complained of piracy and artistically were dead in the water. Money triumphs over creativity and in this case, it’s really sad.

Album
Back in 2013, I wrote how everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy as album sales shrink. Back then 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. So what is the point of the album, when people ignore the songs that are not “hits”. When I go to Spotify and I come across an artist I haven’t heard before, I go to their Spotify page and hear the tracks in their top 10 list. Those tracks in most cases are pulled from many different albums.

And if any of those tracks connect with me, I might dig deeper into the album.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Created by their love of metal and rock music and when that same genre put up roadblocks to a career in music, they changed tact and went all flamenco acoustic on the world. Talk about paying their dues and taking risks. They moved from Mexico and took a chance in Europe. Over an 8 year Dublin residence, they honed their style and songs, so when their “official” debut album hit in 2006, what seemed like an overnight sensation was 15 years in the making.

There is nothing more difficult in the world then trying to make it as a musician. You need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And your brand or movement might just make some small gains. Then it hits a few speed bumps, like Rodrigo and Gabriela’s metal band losing their recording contract in 1997 and suddenly you are back at the start. But they kept on showing up, on the coast of Mexico and playing their acoustic guitars in the bars. Because showing up day after day, is the hardest part of making a difference. If you look at the history of the artists we like and admire, you will see many years in pursuit of their dreams.

It is a work of a lifetime to create an impact and build something of substance. In 2013, they were riding the highs of their 2012 “Area 52” collaboration, which involved re-working their best songs with a full flamenco band. Then in 2014, “9 Dead Alive” dropped and new music is needed ASAP.

Sebastian Bach/Skid Row
They shouldn’t get back together, because no one cares about Skid Row in the way they used too. They might have a large audience in Japan, like Dokken, but the rest of the “Youth Gone Wild” have moved on. Sebastian Bach is actually bigger than Skid Row and releases way better music than Skid Row have done without him. But, what was he thinking when he approved the photo for his memoir’s cover.

The Kindred
From Canada and the healthy progressive scene. They started off as “Today I Caught The Plague” from the ashes of another band called “A Legend Falls”. In 2011 they released the excellent “Lore” and went on tour with one of my favourite bands in Protest The Hero and their “Scurrilous Tour”. Then in 2013, a name change happened to “The Kindred” and the excellent “Life In Lucidity” came out at the start of 2014.

However, PTH needed a drummer for their “Volition” tour and it was no surprise that they tapped Mike Ieradi (who also co-founded the group) to fill the spot. Then in 2015, vocalist David Journeaux departed, with Johnny McArthur as their new vocalist and Kenny Saunders as their new drummer. So now I wait to see what comes next.

Streaming
Back in 2013, I wrote that everyone talks about the money which isn’t filtering down to the artist and how streaming is too entrenched to be replaced. Since then the record labels have grown their revenues on the back of streaming. Artists who negotiate deals with the streaming services like Metallica and Motley Crue have never complained about streaming. Suddenly, luddites Anthrax are not complaining and Scott Ian even mentioned how he believes streaming is the best thing to have happened to the recording industry.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

The Gaslight Anthem
They do the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen better than Bruce Springsteen these days. It was like a supergroup of independent musicians that came together in New Jersey in 2006. Their 2010 album, “American Slang” spawned an unexpected hit with the title track and “45” from their 2012 album “Handwritten” became their biggest hit. Since then, “Get Hurt” came out in 2014 and by July 2015, the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Since the hiatus, singer Brian Fallon released a solo album called “Painkillers” in March 2016, and on April, 2016, a vinyl EP called “Georgia” was released for Record Store Day 2016 with a limited pressing run of 2,000 copies on 10″ vinyl. Let’s hope that “The Gaslight Anthem” get together for more music over the next three-year period.

Volbeat
Seen as overnight sensations however they are over 25 years in the business. It all started with “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” in 2008 and being added to the Metallica “Death Magnetic U.S. Tour”. Then in 2010, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” came out and while that was still selling, they released “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” in 2013 and they hit every major music market over and over again. Since then, they released “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie” and are continuing on their merry ways. For all the newbies, check out their streaming numbers. They are huge compared to other major label metal/rock acts.

Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace
In 2013, Killswitch Engage released “Disarm the Descent”, their comeback album with Jesse Leach on vocals. And how good is “In Due Time” with brutal verses and an arena rock chorus. Then in February 2015, a new track called “Loyalty” appeared on “Catch The Throne: The Mixtape Volume 2” to promote “Game of Thrones”. They then toured and kept on working on “Incarnate” which finally came out on March 11, 2016. Since then, they toured and are planning on releasing a beer. Meanwhile, “Times of Grace” have five songs completed for a new album to come out, with their last one coming out in 2011.

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

Discover Playlist

We still live in an environment where artists insist on making albums and then spending time promoting a body of songs, believing if they yell loud enough people will care. But we don’t. Volbeat singer/guitarist Michael Poulsen hit the nail on the head, when he said “kids these days have a new favourite artist each week”.

Sometimes it takes months or years for excellence to rise to the top. So it’s always interesting to see what songs the Discover Playlist comes up with, because I have been pretty slack at following or liking or saving some of my favourite artists in Spotify.

I am always surprised when songs from artists I normally support come up, or from artists I haven’t heard in a while. Sometimes, it’s from an artist I have heard off, but haven’t heard any music from. Other times it’s from artists where I have heard an album or a song, but never really got into it. Other times it’s from artists where I own an album or two and the songs are from an album I don’t own or haven’t heard.

Alter Bridge – Slip Into The Void
I have the CD’s of Alter Bridge and their music on my iTunes, however the Spotify service had no idea I liked Alter Bridge. But, from my listening habits on the service, its algorithms worked out that Alter Bridge could be a band I would be interested in. That’s one point for the algorithms.

It’s from 2010’s “ABIII”.

How good does the song start off?

It’s a hypnotic riff, and when Myles comes in with the vocals, it feels dangerous.

Slip to the void
To the dark
To the fall
Crawl to the life you shouldn’t know
You should never come this way
To test the hands of fate
You don’t belong here

In our life we have highs and lows and as much as we believe or want to be happy all the time, none of us can be all the time. “Slip Into The Void” is a dark song

Then from 1.30 the intro is over and the song cranks to eleven.

John Norum – Love Is Meant To Last Forever
An important ingredient to Europe’s breakout success in 1986 is John Norum. He played on the album, was on the original cover and is included in “The Final Countdown” video clip but never toured behind the album support.

Who knows why Norum left Europe at that time.

Having a step father who was high up at CBS/Sony at Sweden might have influenced him, while on the other hand, the death of a close friend in a drowning accident while Europe filmed a concert for live broadcast might have affected him.

My John Norum exposure post Europe goes something like this. He played with Don Dokken on the excellent “Up From The Ashes” album, and then he went solo again with “Face The Truth”. That album I do have because of Glenn Hughes doing guest vocals on it. It’s an excellent piece of melodic rock. However, “Love Is Meant To Last Forever” is from “Total Control”, Norum’s first solo album released in 1987 and post his departure from Europe. I remember seeing the album advertised in the Guitar magazines I purchased during the time, but I never picked it up.

From the intro, I am hooked.

I always enjoy melodic rock/metal music. A lot of the times the lyrics in those songs would make me grind my teeth, but musically, the genre is spot on. Future Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist Goran Edman provides vocals for the song.

You are my best friend
And I will try to understand
The moment you need me
I’ll be there so just take my hand

We are all just visitors to this world, so our time is short and one thing we are all looking for is a love that will last forever.

Dynazty – Titanic Mass
Matt Heafy from Trivium tweeted 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. 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.

The whole song is a perfect example of the style of music I enjoy and that Chorus reminds me of “The Fire Still Burns” from Twisted Sister.

As an added bonus, how good is the harmony interlude section that kicks in at 2.30.

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

Rev Theory – We Own The Night
I got into this band with their 2008 release “Light It Up” and the songs “Hell Yeah”, “Broken Bones”, “Wanted Man”, “Ten Years”, “You’re The One” and “Far From Over”. After that I heard the “Justice” album and it just didn’t connect with me, so I sort of lost them afterwards. But this track is up there with my favourites.

The band’s journey has been going since 2002.

They released “Truth Is Currency” in 2005, on Element Records, an EMI subsidiary. In 2007, they got a major label deal with Interscope Records and released “Light It Up” in 2008. “Justice” had the big name producer in Terry Date and it was released in 2011 on Interscope Records. In 2012, they release an EP called “Take ‘Em Out” on Killer Tracks, a subsidiary of Universal.

In August, 2014, Rev Theory signed with Another Century Records a subsidiary of Century Media/Sony Music and here we are in 2016, with “The Revelation”.

“We Own The Night” has a groove that I dig. It starts off with a distorted arpeggiated guitar riff. Then a simplistic “We Will Rock You” drum groove comes in, along with the emotive and catchy vocal line. When the Chorus kicks in, I’m hooked.

Head down
Walk the line with no opinion

Ideas and opinions can shape the world but our degree factories condition us to believe we don’t have an opinion and as soon as we get into debt, we fail to voice any opinion, just in case it gets us dismissed from work, because without work, we cannot pay our debt.

Turn up the audio, lose yourself and all control tonight
I’ll keep on clawing my way until there is a change

An old message of turning it up appears in 2016. Quick call the plagiarism lawyers.

Place Vendome – Streets of Fire
The song begins with a beautiful sounding piano lick merging the chorus chords with the vocal line. After 25 seconds, the song moves into melodic rock territory.

Frontiers Records is doing its best to keep melodic rock and metal going. Place Vendome is one of the many “supergroup” projects put together by Frontiers Records president Serafino Perugino and one of his earliest that dates back to 2004.

Michael Kiske from Helloween fame is on vocals while Denis Ward from Pink Cream 69 is bassist, producer, mixer and engineer. The songs are all written by outside writers. In the end, it is a full on AOR project, where the music decisions are made by the A&R departments of Frontiers and not the artists themselves.

Our time has come, we must take justice in our hands
I feel heavy and hard, but that’s just the way it is
There out to steal our dreams, our pride, our dignity
Will we find in the art we play, will we roll the dice?

It’s the rebellion theme of the 80’s.

Streets of fire
The rise and the fall
In the streets of fire
War raging on

Once the fight begins it never really ends. The loser will bide their time, until they strike again.

Also check out the tasty finger tapped lick in the solo.

Days of Jupiter – Bleed
The do Disturbed better than Disturbed and I mean that in a good way. The song is from their “Secrets Brought To Life” album released in 2012. Of course they are from Sweden. Where else would good heavy rock bands come from these days?

Life will make you
Bleed
It’s down to who you wanna be
It’s down to you
You wanna
Take another bite from insanity
Take another bite from reality
Bleed
Step up to who you wanna be
Step up to who you wanna
Take another bite from insanity
Take another bite from reality

Life will make you bleed. There is no doubt about it. Decisions made in the past will make you bleed. But it is down to the person as to how they respond to the insanity that reality throws at them.

Black Trip – Die With Me
It’s heavy rock and it has this Seventies attitude that I dig.

No loss, no life, let go and die with me

The Chorus. Once it comes in, it just hooks me in.

The will is struggling in a state of despair
These broken pieces I cannot repair
There’s nothing here that I can argue about
It’s just a shame I couldn’t figure it out

I know nothing about this band. Spotify tells me the song is from an album called “Shadowline” released in August, 2015. So I went to their website and saw the band is no more due to a band member departure, however the band will continue under a new name. It comes as no surprise that they are from Sweden.

A few press releases found their way to Blabbermouth explain the band a bit more.

So the genesis of the band goes back to 2003. Like Audrey Horne, Volbeat and The Night Flight Orchestra, the artists wanted to create a band based on their musical upbringing. But things don’t go as smooth and the project got put on the back burner until 2011. There is another album called “Goin Under” that came out in 2013 that I will check out as well.

Marillion – Hooks In You
Love the intro riff on this. Guitar player, Steve Rothery is excellent and he deserves more attention for his deeds.

It’s from the “Seasons End” album released in 1989 and the first to feature current lead singer Steve Hogarth, following the departure of former vocalist Fish in late 1988. I have the Marillion LP’s and nothing of them on digital, so another bonus point to the Spotify algorithm for recommending Marillion based on my listening habits.

She’s got her hooks in you

No one else ever sounded like Marillion, either then or now. As a result we’re left with a body of work from 1983 to 1989, which really gets no accolades today. A cult like fan base sustains Marillion and to the hard-core fans they will never be forgotten.

David Lee Roth – Just Like Paradise
Wow, it’s been 20 plus years since I’ve heard this song. It’s amazing how time makes you forget but as soon as you hear a song from your past, you are familiar with it, you know every word and it takes you back to a point in time, to MTV, to the video clip, to Steve Vai and his heart guitar, to big hair, to over the top lead singer antics and just a feel good innocent time where I believed I was indestructible.

The power of music.

Rockin’ steady in her daddy’s car
She got the stereo with the big guitars
And that’s all right

The scene is set with lyrics no one will ever forget.

This must be just like livin’ in paradise
And I don’t wanna go home

The undeniable chorus hook .

“Just Like Paradise” appeared on 1988’s “Skyscraper” album and the last to feature Steve Vai. I saw the album for sale when it came out but passed on it for AC/DC’s “Heatseeker”. I suppose Angus coming out of a television was a better marketing angle than David Lee Roth hanging on a mountain. Then that night, I caught the clip on MTV and I went back to the store the next day. I was afraid I’d missed my chance. Was that one LP still available?

It was. The impact of a song to sell an album cannot be underestimated. So I came home and dropped the needle and fell into confusion again. Like “Eat Em And Smile”, it was a very hit and miss album. But there is no denying the star of the album. It was a perfect MTV song for a band who’d paid their dues with previous artists, because, once upon a time paying your dues mattered.

Eclipse – Bleed and Scream
That intro riff over the foot stomping drum beat is addictive. This is from 2012.

Now you’re begging on your knees
And you’re begging me to stay
You beg me to look past your little mistake
There’s nothing you can say to me
No nothing you can say to me

Did she sleep with someone else?

I can handle the pain
Handle the betrayal
Handle the knife you stabbed in my back
You’re nothing but a memory
Someone I’m gonna forget

Man, this is an angry break up song and that solo takes me back to the 80’s. It’s structured and well thought out.

Another band from Stockholm, Sweden, formed in 1999. Currently they are on Frontiers Records and singer/guitarist/bassist Erik Martensson is constantly used by the label to write songs for other artists. If you don’t believe me, check out W.E.T and Revolution Saints covered an Eclipse song.

Marys Creek – Hypnotized
Mary’s Creek hail from (drum roll………) Sweden. Formed in 2004, they have a Euro Pop vibe happening in the Chorus and the verses are a combination of heavy rock Euro metal.

The song is from the “Infinity” album released in 2016.

The intro to this song is like a commercialised edited version of “Seasons In The Abyss” from Slayer. Then from the 30 second mark, it goes into a very heavy AC/DC, “Long Way To The Top” vibe.

I try to love
I try to hate
Don’t give me pain
Cause my soul can’t take no more

You Want It, You Want It So Bad,
I will never let you go,
Come take it, you can take what you want, you’ve got me hypnotized

So I was curious to check out the album. Of course “Hypnotized” is the opening track and an excellent introduction to the band.

The next track to grab my attention is “So Afraid (To Live). Musically it’s a foot stomper and a modern take on the grooves of AC/DC.

So afraid you can’t go on this way
You have to live your life, you have to live

“The First Day” is up next and it’s pretty hooky.

This is the first day of the rest of my life

“The Ghost Inside” is more of what I expected from the album based on the song “Hypnotized”. It has that metallic edge and the cowbell comes out in the interlude.

Insanity is the ghost inside

“Forever Lost” is another track that deserves more attention, however it is buried at the tail end of the album. It crosses between metal and rock.

Could it be today I take my final breath?

You just don’t know when that day will be, so it goes without saying, don’t waste any time.

Slash – Wicked Stone
From 2014’s “World On Fire” album.

It starts off like a Van Halen song, but then when the main riff comes in, it reminds me of “Locomotive” from “Use Your Illusion II” and the vocals of Myles Kennedy are instantly recognisable.

I have this on CD, so I never told Spotify that I liked the band. Another bonus point for the algorithm.

It’s a great song, with a groovy swagger and an arena rock chorus.

Once a rolling stone
Now a falling star
Was so close to home
Now so far

Fame is fleeting. Each artist has a peak which is followed by a low. Some make it back to new highs, some just make it back and some just get off the grid.

Work Of Art – How Will I Know?
To be honest, with power been taken away from the labels as to who can release music, it has brought about a new era of artists who have no real reason to try to sound a certain way. Artists don’t have to worry about trends.

And that’s how Work of Art comes into the picture.

This song just brings back memories of the 80’s for me. It’s from the “Framework” album, released in 2014 and of course they are from Sweden. The bands origins go back to 1992 and the project got put on hold. They tried again in 1998. It got put on hold. Then they tried again from 2002.

How can I know if this love can be true?

We don’t and we never will. From what I have experienced, love changes as the years go on. That lustful love at the beginning changes a lot as time goes on.

The track was good enough to make me go to the album and hear it. And it was a cool listen. It’s classic melodic rock from the 80’s done at its best and for any fans it’s a worthwhile listen.

Other stand-out tracks are “How Do You Sleep At Night” and “The Machine”. Both songs have excellent guitar playing and that jazz fusion lead in “The Machine” is sublime.

Thunderstone – Through The Pain
How good is that groove in the intro?

That Chorus.

Melodic metal from Helsinki, Finland at its best. Formed in 2000 but the member’s origins go back even further. In 2001, they got a deal with Nuclear Blast. Their self-titled debut came out in 2002 and since then they have released 5 albums and changed members.

Give me your heart, give me your soul
You’ll feel alive again, take my hand, I’ll set you free
I will take your through the pain with me

The song is from the “Apocalypse Again” album released in 2016 and based on the strength of it, I immediately went to hear the album on Spotify.

After a generic power metal opening track, I was hooked by “The Path”. Wow, what a track. A foot stomping intro riff leads into a subdued verse, which is followed by a middle eastern sounding pre-chorus and capped off by a massive arena rock chorus.

You will always find your way back to your home
This is the path you’ll always roam

Damn right, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Higher” is the next track that hooks me in with the intro guitar lick that reminds me of Ozzy era “Hellraiser meets Zombie Stomp meets Welcome To The Jungle intro”. It doesn’t have that big power metal chorus and it relies solely on the groove and that intro lick.

“Days Of Our Lives” is another foot stomper. For some reason, when Thunderstone move away from the fast power metal songs the songs are just better and more addictive. This one has a Kashmir like drum groove.

These are the days of our lives
The time to be alive
Get wings and learn to fly
Soar up in the sky

I know, it’s been said so many times before, but who cares. This is heavy metal. Fly on your way like an eagle. Oh, wait a minute that was “Flight of Icarus” from Maiden. It doesn’t end well for poor Icarus.

UFO – Rock Bottom
At 7 plus minutes, you forget how powerful this track is. No one has the time these days to spend 7 minutes on a track. But back in the 80’s, all we had was time. And to anyone who wanted to listen, I’ve always said this track is the embryo that gave birth to the NWOBHM and speed metal movements in general.

Almost 40 years later the track still gets the head nodding and the foot tapping.

In the solo you can hear why Michael Schenker became an influence to a million guitarists. And he’s still doing it tough financially due to bad contracts, bad management deals and bad accountants who took large chunks while they drip fed him pennies.

Rock bottom (x6)

From a time when Choruses had the title repeated over and over again.

Lucifer goes walkin’
Down for you to meet

Good old Luci gets a mention. How did this song pass the censors back in the 70’s?

Warlock – All We Are
It’s from 1987’s “Truimph And Steel” album and it was perfect for MTV. A hot looking blonde front woman decked out in black leathers and an MTV friendly backing band.

Think of Warlock as the record label experiment that would lead to Mr Big a few years later. All of the members were recruited from bands that had either a good guitar player, a good bass player or a good drummer and nothing else. So the label A&R heads decided to keep the talent and eventually something will come along.

All we are
All we are, we are
We are all, all we need

How catchy is that Chorus?

That was the hook. A call to arms to all rock and metal heads to realise that all we need to make it or to be somebody is the unity. The strength of the pack.

Harem Scarem – Slowly Slipping Away
I passed on the LP because of the band name and that doll on the cover. Many years later, I heard the record and I was an instant fan.

We’ve had our share of confusion
We’ve been let down so many times before

Simple, yet so right.

Black Country Communion – One Last Soul
I’m a big fan of Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa, so I was very interested when I heard they got together. The usual outlets wrote a lot of good things about their little project, that also includes Jason Bonham. But I didn’t know where to start musically. I didn’t want to invest time into the whole album. I wanted recommendations. So thank you Spotify Discovery for bringing me “One Last Soul” from the debut self-titled album, released in 2010.

You’re the one last Soul
Who can win it
You’re the one last Soul
If you try
You’re the one last Soul
If you live it

The solo has this classic rock, Michael Schenker vibe.

And after three albums, they are on hiatus or broken up. I read some interviews with Glenn. He was angry at Joe’s commitment during the recording of the third album recording.

Sacred Mother Tongue – Evolve/Become
The song is from the album “A Light Shines” released in 2012.

This one is interesting. It’s got a huge arena rock melodic rock/metal chorus, with thrash style riffing and barking lyrics in the verses. I dig it.

Reflection of our failings, and all we’ve done
Our power is in numbers, unite as one
We’ll wash away destruction, when said and done
Evolve in forward motion / We must Become

Fates Warning – One
From the addictive “Disconnected” album, released in 2000 and to me is a perfect blend of Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Tool and “Images and Words” era Dream Theater. This one is very influenced by Porcupine Tree.

Under the spotlight
I feel our world becoming one

You know the feeling when the spotlight shines on you. You cannot see anyone else and you feel like you’re the only one.

 

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Music

Return Of 2015: Part III

NUMBER 8:
Days Of Jupiter – Only Ashes Remain
If you don’t like Disturbed’s comeback album, then get into this album.

Days Of Jupiter hail from Sweden and they started in January 2010, however the members have been in various bands prior. Like anything to do with music, it’s a long way just to rock and roll.

They take Disturbed’s / Shinedown / Five Finger Death Punch and Alter Bridge style of music, amp it up with “Rammstein” style grooves, mix in some Tool progressive grooves, add in some Euro/Metal influences like Accept, Scorpions, Evergrey and top it off with Arena Rock choruses.

The result is “Only Ashes Remain”; their second album. For those that don’t know, “Secrets Brought to Life” released in 2012, is their debut album.

The opening moments of “Ashes” bring back memories of Five Finger Death Punch’s “The Bleeding”. “Broken Halo” is a hell of a good song. “Remember My Name” is a metal tour de force.

“I” reminds me of the “Draconian Times” album by Paradise Lost. “Shut Up” is a monster song, with that Rammstein marching beat and “Last One Alive” brings back the intro of “Ashes”.

NUMBER 9:
Sweet and Lynch – Only To Rise
The people who spread the word for the project are either fans of Stryper and Dokken or Michael Sweet and George Lynch. Sweet and Lynch are two veterans of the music business who know they need to play to their core. It is the core audience that will sustain them and it will be the core audience that will abandon them when they deviate too far from it. My review can be found here.

The whole album is an example of the progress is derivative model that I subscribe too.

NUMBER 10:
Muse – Drones
I have a lot of time for this band, because of “Stockholm Syndrome”. That song was copied and used by a ton of metal and rock bands afterwards. “Drones” to me has enough to satisfy the core, and to pick up new fans. Check out “Psycho” that merges a “Black Sabbath” sludgy groove with classical overtones. Then comes “Mercy” that will satisfy the pop fans of Muse, plus it has enough grit to satisfy the rock fans. I will even go out on a limb and call Muse the modern-day Led Zeppelin.

“Reaper” kicks off with a Van Halen “Hot For Teacher” vibe and it has this “Still Of The Night” vibe from Whitesnake in the Chorus, while the bassist is playing lines like “Heart Of The Sunrise” from Yes. Brilliant.

Then you have a keyboard led song like “Aftermath” with it’s Claptonesque blues style of leads in the intro.

Chuck into the mix the Morricone themed “The Globalist” that morphs into a “Stockholm Syndrome” style movement that then morphs into an Elton John crossed with jazz movement and you can see why I call Muse the modern-day Led Zeppelin.

And the lyrics from Matt Bellamy are brilliant, especially for a band that has commercial appeal, who also racks up at least 5 million streams on Spotify each day. While Coldplay and Bon Jovi tell their audience they can move mountains, Muse/Bellamy tells them what is happening in the world at this point in time.

“Your mind is just a program and I’m the virus” ….. From “Psycho”

“Absent gods and silent tyranny
We’re going under hypnotised
By another puppeteer” ….. From “Mercy”

“I’m just a pawn and we’re all expendable” ….. From “Reapers”

“You were my oppressor
And I, I have been programmed to obey
Now, you are my handler
And I, I will execute your demands” ….. From “The Handler”

“Oppression is persisting
I can’t fight this brain conditioning
Our freedom’s just a loan
Run by machines and drones
They’ve got us locked into their sights” ….. From “Revolt”

NUMBER 11:
Coheed and Cambria – The Color Before The Sun
You can hear how fatherhood and love has affected Claude Sanchez.

“Island” kicks off the album. It’s similar in style to other major key rockers COCA have done in the past. However, the best song is Claude’s love song, “Here To Mars”.

And as usual Claude Sanchez comes up with some excellent lyrics;

“Now give me one good reason to stay here at all
When the fee is too big, our apartment’s too small
Where’s my life-saver when I’m screaming danger” ….. From “Island”

“You, you keeping on screaming from the top of your lungs,
Mr. Who Gives A Shit, just shut up” ….. From “You Got Spirit, Kid”

“You’re number one
Go on living that farce
Cause nobody gives a fuck who you are” ….. From “You Got Spirit, Kid”

NUMBER 12:
All That Remains – The Order Of Things
Maybe all the love goes to “Killswitch Engage”, but man All That Remains are up there as well.

“This Probably Won’t End Well”, “The Greatest Generation”, “For You”, “A Reason For Me To Fight”, “Bite My Tongue” (love the little jazzy breakdown solo section) and “Criticism and Self Realization” are stand outs.

And if you are looking for voices who are not afraid to speak their minds, then look no further than frontman, Phil Labonte. Check out some of his lyrics.

“Mistakes that are made are the gifts that keep giving” ….. From “This Probably Won’t End Well”

“They dug and shaped the earth and with their hands gave birth,
To all the modern wonders that you see, they worked from dawn till dusk” ….. From “The Greatest Generation”

“Cause I can’t wait while you think this through
We don’t have endless time, remember who left who” ….. From “For You”

“No cavalry left that we can call, we’re on our own, backs against the wall” ….. From “A Reason For Me To Fight”

“Apologies are empty words, I know you’re only sorry (because) you got caught” ….. From “Bite My Tongue”

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A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories

The Signature Voice Manifesto

SIGNATURE VOICE

Zoltan Bathory said  “Every vocalist has a signature” when he was asked what it was like to work with Rob Halford on Lift Me Up.  For some reason that statement just stuck in my head and it got me thinking. I came to the conclusion that the so-called “SIGNATURE” is the difference between bands that stand out above the noise of the internet and the bands that don’t. The signature statement isn’t just relevant to vocalists either. All the band members need to have a signature sound.

Why did Korn rise above all the other bands from their scene in 1993 to get a record deal? They had the signature vocalist in Jonathan Davis. Love him or hate him, one thing is undeniable, he is original. Munky and Head delivered a signature guitar sound, based on down tuned seven string grooves and effects. The bass and the drums delivered their own signature groove’s fusing, hip hop, R&B, funk and metal.

Why did Pantera rise to a metal god status? Dimebag and Vinnie are in their element. They are locked in so tight, it became the Pantera signature groove.  Suddenly all the other bands out there started to have the drums and the guitar lock in like Pantera. The other element is Phil Anselmo. As a Dimebag fan, I still blame Anselmo for Dimebag’s death. If Pantera remained together, Dimebag wouldn’t be playing a venue with crap security. However, one thing is also undeniable in this. When Phil changed his vocal style from Rob Halford metal god, to a combination of Rob Halford metal god meets hard-core god,  another signature sound was born. Suddenly, a host of bands sprang forth.

Why did Machine Head have a rebirth in 2003 and since then they have continued to go from strength to strength? Machine Head came out at a time (1994) when Groove Metal had already done its victory lap (as the labels had already over saturated the market with crap bands). Burn My Eyes, stood out because it still contained that Eighties thrash metal vibe, merged with groove metal, so they went on a two year victory lap for it.

By the time, The More Things Change came out in 1997, the musical scene changed again as it was starting to move to a more Industrial metal sound. The More Things Change is a continuation of what they did with Burn My Eyes, however the climate was different, so the album suffered in promotion from the label, who was chasing the big dollars by signing industrial bands.

By the time The Burning Red came out in 1999, the scene changed again as it was moving to Nu Metal. Then Supercharger comes out in 2001 and it comes out at the time when Nu Metal is finishing its victory lap and Metalcore is on the rise. The Trade Towers fall, their clips get pulled from music shows, because they have falling buildings and their label drops them.

They are on their own, left to their own vices and their own influences. So what do they do? They start writing, free from the pressures and influence of the label machine. In doing so, they created the Machine Head signature sound (that merges their thrash roots, with their hard rock roots, with their power metal influences, with their groove metal influences, with their nu-metal influences ) and Robb Flynn creates his signature vocal style that a thousand other bands try to imitate. He is older, he is angrier and he is more melodic. If you want to have Robb Flynn’s vocal style, you need to have lived his lifestyle. You can’t have the same impact, if you come from Orange County and had parents rolling in the green.

Why did Disturbed rise above all the other bands that came out in 1999? The music is nothing original, and you can say it is a clone of the nu metal movement. What set Disturbed apart is the unique signature vocal sound of David Draiman. He is that unique and special, no one is even bothering to clone him or copy him. There is a band from Sweden called, Days Of Jupiter that comes very close to filling the void that Disturbed has left behind when they went on their self-imposed hiatus.

Why did Metallica become the premier thrash band, and not Slayer, Anthrax or Exodus or Megadeth? In my opinion I believe that Slayer and Megadeth are up there as well, however if you look all over the internet, it is Metallica that has the pull and the numbers. Two reasons – James Hetfield and the Compositions. James delivered that signature bark and it wasn’t just a bark like all the other bands and the NWOBM bands, it had a melodic sense to it. Second, it was the compositions. As much as people like the fast 4 minute songs, it is the longer compositions that set Metallica streets ahead of the others. Then when all the other thrash bands started to go into the longer form, Metallica changed the rules again with the Black album.

So if you want to be an artist, you need to have a signature sound and to get that signature sound, you need to mine your life experiences and influences.

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