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

2000 – V1

I’ve been doing these yearly revision posts on and off for the last four years. Basically when I’ve felt like it.

I started with 1980, as that was a pivotal year when it all began for me. And then I went forward and back at the same time. I did a post for 1981, and then a post for 1979. Then a post for 1982 and a post for 1978.

Currently I am up to 1985 and 1977 for those eras. They are in a various states of drafts and on hold for a little bit because I get excited about other posts and it felt like I was just writing about the same bands (like AC/DC, who had releases on both sides of the 80’s and 70’s).

So I wanted to start up another year and work my way forward on that one.

Plus other bloggers who I follow have also been summarizing various years from their own personal experiences.

So a few days ago, I had a vision and in my madness I decided to also kick off a 2000 series.

So there will be a 2000, 1985 and 1977 series running in parallel.

Then there will be a 2001, 1986 and 1976.

But when I started to write the 2000 post, the world has a funny way to show me, that I’m still writing about the same bands I was writing about in the 80’s with a few additions here and there.

So h is Part 1 of 2000.

Bon Jovi – Crush

“It’s My Life” was everywhere. The single got a lot of traction in Australia. It was on radio, on the music TV stations and the various CD single editions were selling out quickly.

The resurrection of Bon Jovi was complete after a pretty relaxed period between 1996 and 1999. Then again, Sambora and Jovi did release solo albums in between and toured, so maybe it wasn’t so relaxed.

Songsmith Max Martin got a co-write, however it’s hard to know what he actually did because Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora didn’t use him again. Also just ask Steven Tyler, how much song writing some of the outside writers did. Holly Knight got a writing credit for “Rag Doll”, and all she did was come up with the song title. Thanks Deke for that one.

And although I like the derivative sounding “It’s My Life”, my favourites (like most of the Bon Jovi albums) are more of the deeper cuts, like “Just Older”, “Two Story Town”, “Mystery Train”, the six plus minutes of “Next 100 Years”, the laidback feel of “She’s A Mystery” and probably the best live song they have written in “Old Wild Night”, which gets no love these days but it should.

Disturbed – The Sickness

There was a sticker on the CD, which had a quote from “Ozzy” calling Disturbed “the future of Heavy Metal”. I don’t know if Ozzy actually said that, but it was a cool bit of marketing, because I bit and handed over $20.

The thing that got me from the start, is the staccato vocals from David Draiman, which was so different from the 80’s type of singers I was used to plus it helped that the music was pretty cool as well. And I kept listening, became a fan, seen em live on two occasions and today, I hold David Draiman in some unique company of metal voices and Disturbed as one of my favourite acts.

And this album really put em on the map. In the U.S alone (and if you like to use the RIAA sales metric as a gauge for success) then 9 million is the number so far.

For me, the cross between groove metal and heavy metal and that thing people called Nu-Metal is excellent and it got me out of a rut.

“Voices” talks about some freaky shit, and that vocal delivery from Draiman was so unique it captured me. Then “The Game” starts off with the NIN style of electronics, and when the guitar riff comes in, its heavy metal all the way.

“Stupify” has this guitar riff that takes the style of Korn and guitarist Dan Donegan has this ability to make it sound like a metal riff.

And his ability to take influences from what was current like NIN, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Tool and put it into his metal influenced blender, that’s the magic brew of Disturbed. By the way check out the section from about 2.52 for a breakdown.

“Numb” is taking the moodiness of Tool and making it accessible in a 4 minute song. “Shout 2000” gives an old 80’s song a new lease of life and the title track “Down With The Sickness” is that song in the concert when the musician looks at the sea of faces jumping up and down and head banging, like an ocean swell about to hit the stage.

Fates Warning – Disconnected

I was always on the fence with Fates Warning. My cousin Mega loved em and he had all of their albums. But for me, I just taped the songs I liked from those albums and never really got into a whole album.

But this album changed all of that. As soon as the first ringing guitar notes started which to my ears mimicked a warning siren, I was hooked.

For me, it feels like a perfect blend of what was current, like Tool and Porcupine Tree and a nod to what Dream Theater was creating (they even have Kevin Moore guesting on keyboards) and it’s all surrounded by a hard rock progressive feel.

Also while the earlier albums showed guitarist Jim Matheos evolving with each release from raw NWOBHM, to Power Metal, to technical thrash metal, to Queensryche style rock to atmospheric progressive rock and on this one, he is digging deep into his well and bringing out everything he knows into well-structured songs and a cohesive album.

And the album is ignored by the masses.

But not by me.

“Disconnected, Pt 1” kicks it off with its ominous warning siren guitar bends. And the synth keys make it sound even more dystopian. Then again, if you look at the cover of the album, its people in gas masks under an orange sky. For me, it’s like our Australian summer, which had orange and red skies, and our air quality was crap, for a very long time.

“One” blasts out of the gates with its Porcupine Tree/Tool influenced riff.

“So” is groove heavy, with a hint of a Tool influence, but Jim Matheos makes it sound metal. When it quietens down in the verses, it just reminds me of the song “Black Sabbath”. The bridge section from about 4.30 also quietens down and then that Tool like groove from 5.50 hits you like a sledgehammer. “Pieces Of Me” is a derivative version of “One”, with small changes here and there to make it stand on its own.

And the two big bookends.

“Something For Nothing” and “Still Remains”. They are quality, as a melancholic and atmospheric groove leads the way. It’s progressive and it doesn’t have or need a thousand notes per second nor complex time signatures pieced together and added like fractions. On both songs, it’s a feel and a groove which lays the foundation and the songs keep building from there.

The album closes with “Disconnected, Pt 2”, with the guitar warning siren bends and some nice keys.

Iron Maiden – Brave New World

There was “The Ed Hunter Tour” of 1999, which announced the latest and upgraded hardware version of Iron Maiden from 5.0 to 6.0. And it’s been the same line up since.

And no one really knew how this 6.0 upgrade would go with new music. But they delivered.

Each song has a section which makes it connect.

From the opening Em chord of “The Wicker Man”, the song is full of the things that make Maiden great, like the repeating chorus line of “your time will come” and the singalong “woh-oh-oh” in the outro which is then followed by harmony guitars.

And I like the “Fear Of The Dark” section between 5.00 and 5.42 in “Ghost Of The Navigator” and the harmony solos in “Brave New World”.

“Blood Brothers” is a classic Maiden song, driven by an awesome bass riff, synth strings, harmony guitars (especially that harmony section from 3.29 to 3.57 and again from 4.22 to 6.20) and a vocal performance from Bruce Dickinson to rival his 80’s output. It feels like only a few singers could pull off repeating the same chorus line over and over again and make it sound unique. Dio comes to mind, Dee Snider as well and Bruce Dickinson.

“The Mercenary” has a head banging intro to rival the “Two Minutes To Midnight” intro. And that Chorus, when Bruce starts to sing “Nowhere to hide, nowhere to run”. Brilliant. “Dream Of Mirrors” and that “Phantom Of The Opera” intro. But when it quietens down and it’s just the bass rumbling along, with the closed high hats and a clean tone guitar melodic lick. That’s when the hairs on the back of my neck rise up. And by the end of it, I’m also dreaming in black and white because Bruce repeats it so many times, you get hypnotized. Also listen to when Bruce sings woh – oh from the 7.20 minute mark.

“The Fallen Angel” with its “Wrathchild” style intro. Then that open string pull of lick in the Chorus. The intro in “The Nomad” which is also the Chorus riff and then that epic sounding exotic/barbarian/viking like lead from about the 4 minute mark. The intro to “Out Of The Silent Planet”.

Version 6.0 was off to the good start and the “Rock In Rio” DVD put any doubt to rest.

Everclear – Songs From An American Movie, Vol 1: Learning How To Smile

This is another album that got my attention.

The song “Wonderful” was all over the charts in Australia, and I suppose that “Star Wars” poster on the bedroom door lyric got me to bite. And the album is excellent. Again, it came at a perfect time to get me out of a rut, musically. It was different and removed from the 80’s and 70’s music I was so into. Then again, I was still overdosing on Maiden, but that’s another story.

“Here We Go Again” has these jazzy 7th style chords played in a pattern like “I Love Rock N Roll” in the verses, and it got me interested straight away. And there is a horn section which reminded me of “Tangled In The Web” from Lynch Mob. And that bridge section about sitting on a mattress in the corner and eating Chinese food. Its conversationlist and I like it.

“AM Radio” has a lot of great lyrics about the 70’s and listening to that AM Radio or just laying in bed with the radio on and listening to it all night long.

The VCR and the DVD
There wasn’t none of that crap back in 1970
We didn’t know about a World Wide Web
It was a whole different game being played back when I was a kid

Even if you weren’t born then, you already get a picture in your head of some of the technology that wasn’t around.

Flashback, ’72
Another summer in the neighbourhood
Hangin’ out with nothing to do

Even in the 80’s, we had days like these with nothing to do. It changed in the 90’s when parents had an agenda of things their kids had to do or achieve or attend.

Cruisin’ with the windows rolled down
We’d listen to the radio station

Damn right.

I remember 1977
I started going to concerts and I saw the Led Zeppelin
I got a guitar on Christmas day
I dreamed that Jimmy Page would come from Santa Monica
and teach me to play

There is always a defining “aha” moment, which sets of the correct adrenaline kick.

I like pop, I like soul, I like rock, but I never liked disco

Not many who liked pop, soul and rock liked disco. Remember Bob Seger and his old time rock and roll to soothe the soul.

“Learning How To Smile” is my favorite track on the album.

Five miles outside of Vegas when we broke down
Threw my keys inside the window and we never looked back
Got all drunk and sloppy on a Greyhound bus
We passed out, all them losers they were laughing at us

Youthful enthusiasm, leave the past behind (the car) and move forward to something new. The oldsters would have organised a tow truck to retrieve the car and then spend money to fix it, because every possession was precious. Tell that to the throwaway generation, who upgrade their Tech yearly or bi-yearly.

We got lost in Phoenix, seemed like such a long time
Seven months of livin’ swimming on those thin white lines
Did some time for sellin’ acid to the wrong guy
Life just keeps on gettin’ smaller and we never ask why

Taking and selling drugs and doing what they could to get by, with no safety net.

Why there is no perfect place, yes I know this is true
I’m just learning how to smile
That’s not easy to do

Life is not all sunshine and a bed of roses. And the more older we get, the harder it is to smile sometimes, even though you want to smile.

We was broke outside of Philly when the storms came
I was working in New Jersey, hitchin’ rides in the rain
You was happy talkin’ dirty at that phone sex place
Life just keeps on gettin’ weirder for us every day

Tommy and Gina have nothing on Art and his girl.

We can leave it all behind like we do every time
Yes we both live for the day
When we can leave and just go runnin’ away

Escapism. I remember when I first got my car license. I felt a freedom, I’d never felt before.

Five miles outside of Vegas, five years down the line
We got married in the desert and the sunshine

Through all the ups and downs, I guess they learned how to smile.

And to close off the album, “Thrift Store Chair” has this acoustic 70’s feel, which reminds me of Bad Company and “Wonderful” kicks off with a simple drum groove, and then the piano which outlines the chords. And the song just keeps on building.

Well 2000 is officially kicked off. Now I’m going back in time to 1985. And then 1977. And then back to 2000, in ludicrous speed.

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The State Of Heavy Metal

There it is again. Heavy metal. It doesn’t matter how many times the labels tried to kill it, mainstream it or commercialize it, Heavy Metal has remained consistent from when it began. Whenever pop music becomes pretentious, heavy metal rises up as an alternative answer.

What does the term “heavy metal” mean?

Black Sabbath started something in 1969 in the UK. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin started something on the hard rock front. In the U.S you had Kiss, Styx, Ted Nugent, Journey. In Australia, you had a pub rock band called AC/DC. Progressive Rock became a force to be reckoned with on the backs of Pink Floyd, ELP, Genesis and Yes.

By the mid Seventies, disco, punk and new wave became the darlings of the scene and heavy metal and all forms of rock went underground again, waiting for the day to rise again.

Then came the New Wave of British Heavy Metal between 1979 and 1983. At the same time, hard rock, glam metal and speed metal roared out of the Los Angeles and San Francisco scene. Think Motley Crue, Ratt, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.

When heavy metal and hard rock drops off the mainstream scene, it is never gone for long. Heavy Metal is the answer to all things corrupt. It is the soundtrack.

Typically most metal fans come from working-class homes or changed family dynamics. According to a recent study, all us metal heads must have low self-esteem, because that is why we listen to metal music.

The mainstream always ignored metal music, seeing it as too dumb. Of course, when a band breaks through, the mainstream are the first group of media outlets to jump on the wagon. Remember Metallica. Ignored by the mainstream completely. The only mainstream press they got was the sad and tragic death of Cliff Burton. Then the Black album comes out and it is undeniable. It’s a juggernaut and everyone wanted to be a part of it.

So here is the list of the current state of heavy metal.

CLASSIC EVERYTHING

Rush – enough said. Move on.

AC/DC – enough said times two.

CLASSIC METAL

Iron Maiden – they need another great album like “Brave New World” soon or they will be playing to smaller and smaller audiences with each tour.

Metallica – they need to start making better decisions and they need to release new music. Look at their decision-making process. A project with Lou Reed (RIP) that just didn’t connect with the fan bases of each party involved and an $18 million dud of a movie. In relation to new music, they can only go back to the same market place year after year before the fans get burned on it.

Megadeth – Dave Mustaine said on “The Metal Show” that his top five Megadeth albums are “Countdown To Extinction”, “Rust In Peace”, “Peace Sells”, “So Far So Good So What” and “Killing Is My Business”. He needs to have a current album in that Top 5.

Slayer – are finished in relation to new music without Jeff Hanneman. He was the main songwriter in Slayer, full stop. To hear Kerry King saying that if the Jeff Hanneman music in the archives is not good, it will be not used is a load of B.S. Who made Kerry King the gatekeeper?

Judas Priest – is not Judas Priest anymore. It’s all about the dollars.

Black Sabbath – is all about the last paycheck. Anyone remember the recent album? Name me the whole track list without Googling it. I bet if i asked you to name me the whole track list on “Paranoid” or “Heaven And Hell” I would get an answer.

Pantera – lets hope that no one is stupid enough to reform Pantera with a “guitarist” paying tribute to Dimebag. Stick to your guns Vinnie. Pantera died completely when Dimebag died.

CLASSIC ROCK

Led Zeppelin is still big business in the market place. That is what the mighty Zep has become. A Corporate entity.

Pink Floyd are on hiatus however Roger Waters is still doing the rounds. He is the real deal anyway.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same market places year after year since 2008. The fans are getting burnt on this grab for cash as no new music has been forthcoming expect for the song “Sex”. The movie and the farewell tour are constantly dropped to the public.

Deep Purple should call it a day. They are out of ideas and inspiration.

Styx, Journey, Toto and Night Ranger are shadows of their former selves, doing enough to make a living in the current music business, but out of touch of what the music business fans want from their artists today. Which is a direct line, a connection.

THRASH/GROOVE METAL

Machine Head is the leader in this group. In Robb Flynn, they have a work horse of epic proportions who has the grit to see things through.

Trivium are real contenders. Say what you will about them, one thing is clear; they are not afraid to try new shit out and take risks.

METAL (all styles)

Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch lead this group. They are ticking all the boxes. They have the sales on the board and both are part of the public conversation.

Bullet For My Valentine – have a great album in them. Can they write it?

Stone Sour – should have released one album instead of two.

Sevendust – I love them and the new album was a welcomed return to form.

Disturbed – The Device album had the same impact as the last Disturbed album. Do they still have a place in the Metal world?

Heartist – could be the next big thing or they could crash and burn with their next album as now they have a record label A&R department in their house.

ROCK (all styles)

Shinedown are the new ROCK GODS. Volbeat are not that far behind with Black Veil Brides and Skillet as decent contenders.

Eve To Adam – released a great rock album but no one has heard it.

Buckcherry – veterans of the scene and play to a niche.

Thirty Seconds To Mars – took too long to release a good album. If you are going to take 4 years between releases, you need to release a great album.

Airbourne – fill the AC/DC void when AC/DC is on hiatus.

Alter Bridge – are an experienced team that deliver consistently.

One Less Reason – great music, great songs however if people buy a physical product from them, they need to deliver.

10 Years – a great fan funded release in 2012. Now they need to make some hard decisions. Do they go the fan funded route again or do they seek to get a deal or something entirely different.

DO IT YOURSELF ROCK

Digital Summer – they run their band as a company that puts money back into the band and they still hold down jobs that gives them money for living.

Burnside – released a great album that no one has heard.

Vaudeville – another band that released a great album.

SUPER GROUP

The Night Flight Orchestra – If you haven’t heard “Internal Affairs” from 2012 you need to. TNFO is made up of melodic death metal bands playing classic rock and metal.

PROGRESSIVE METAL/ROCK

Tool – it’s going to be an event when the new Tool album comes out. Is it too late? Time will tell.

Coheed and Cambria – can’t do nothing wrong currently. Excellent double releases, plus great fan perks.

Dream Theater – are doing their best to maintain the success they achieved 10 years ago. Need a great album otherwise it’s bye bye.

TesseracT, Protest The Hero and Periphery are the new leaders of Progressive Music.

Today I Caught The Plague, Sound of Contact, Op Shop, Scale The Summit and Lizzard are rookies to take notice off.

METALCORE (MELODIC DEATH METAL)

Killswitch Engage are firing on all guns.

In Flames need to bring out new music.

All That Remains needs to head back to the studio.

The rest of the bands in this movement need a re-think.

SYMPHONIC METAL/ROCK

Within Temptation – enough said

DEATH METAL

Lamb of God – they are angry and they are pissed off. A bullshit murder trial and banned in a South East Asian country by ignorant pricks.

SHOCK

One final mention; “Du, Du Hast, Du Hast mish a fraud.” Rammstein has a dicka, so let’s get together, what is the problem?

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

Get Down With The Trivium – Progress Is Derivative

Trivium has been doing the usual PR interviews about the new album that is scheduled to come out in August (no date has been set as yet). So from the interviews I have read, these six words have been mentioned constantly, “Bigger Melodies, Bigger Hooks, Bigger Riffs.” How would you interpret that?

My thoughts are that this is their attempt at a commercialized product.

Oooo Ah A A A Get down with the Trivium…

Hey there all will you listen to me, we are trivium but it is disturbed we want to be
Hey there all will you listen to me, we have the bigger riffs and melodies, just wait and see
Hey there all will you just listen to it, we are sure that you will like it
Hey there all will you just listen to it, we spent thousands on it so you need to like it.

I am sure you get the hint of the vocal melody line for the above.

So will the new Trivium album sound like Disturbed. I think not. Why? It is this comment from bassist Paolo Gregoletto in an interview on the Roadrunner website;

…. “now we’ve really learned what works within our band and it’s really about improving those things, bettering them each time we go into it. I think once you find what your identity is, you just want to keep improving and building upon that, and adding new elements in but also retaining what makes your band unique among the thousands and thousands of bands that are out there.”

Sound familiar. Heard the above before.

The guys from Five Finger Death Punch are also pushing the same line. Bands have finally realised that they need to play to their core. It is the core that will sustain them and it will be the core that will abandon them. While Jon Bon Jovi is trying to get all the 15 year old One Direction fans to like Bon Jovi with the Because We Can release, it is refreshing to see bands staying true to who they are and building on it.

When Def Leppard released Slang in 1996, it was an attempt to sound grungy and alternative. It was an attempt to play to a new audience that never liked them to begin with, and never would. By doing that they abandoned their core and they still haven’t recovered from that debacle. Def Leppard stated that they wanted to get away from the way they did the albums coming into Slang. This was just a too far departure sound wise. The songs are there and Def Leppard have mentioned that they are planning on re-issuing Slang with a new mix and so forth, so maybe some of those songs that had potential will stand up and be counted as Def Leppard classics.

When Megadeth released Risk, I was curious as to what audience they were trying to win over? It definitely wasn’t the core audience. When Metallica went alternative in the Nineties, the core was still loyal enough to stick with him. They laid down five ground breaking albums before that, we could forgive them for a decade of slip ups.

If there is one band that has stayed loyal to their audience, it is AC/DC. Iron Maiden is a close second. By doing that, look at the careers they have had so far.

Progress is made by improving on what came before. It is the same in music. If you want a career, if you want to make progress, you need to improve on what came before. Progress is derivative.

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It’s Time That Artists Leave The Old Way Behind and Be Leader’s Once Again

I still don’t agree with the old business model of putting together twelve tracks just to sell them for ten dollars as a package. I would like to see established bands like Machine Head, Dream Theater, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown and Trivium lead the way with a new paradigm. Leave the old way behind.

I know that Five Finger Death Punch are about to release a double album and Trivium have a new one coming along as does Dream Theater and Machine Head is not that far away either. All of these new releases are based on the old way. The album still has a place if done right and what that means is that all the tracks have to be of high quality. No one has time for filler these days.

Five Finger Death Punch started the writing process for their new album/s on the Trespass Festival Tour at the start of 2012. They brought out a mobile recording studio with them, to hash out riffs and put bits and pieces together, so when they got into the studio in September 2012, they already had the songs.  This is where they should have been releasing some songs. At the end they had 25 songs written that they are releasing on two CD’s.

Five Finger Death Punch are signed to a label, so of course they will need to release an album, as that is what the labels demand. So keeping that in mind, FFDP should have picked the best 10 songs for a CD release and from September 2012 to July 2013 they should have been releasing a song a month from the other 15 songs they had left. It is a different take on the old way. It is keeping the labels happy as they are still stuck in the past and it is keeping the fans happy as they are living in the future and just want content.

One thing that artists need to be clear on; streaming has won the war. YouTube is the original and unofficial streaming king. That is where the kids go to watch and listen. If artists pull their albums from legal services like Spotify, those same albums will still be available on YouTube to be streamed unlicensed. The fans have spoken. The fans killed off the CD, by embracing new technology. It is time the artists take note.

One more thing that artists need to understand: Spotify gives them 70% of the revenues. The exact same amount as iTunes. The difference is that Spotify pays you over time instead of right now and that is the problem that a lot of artists with the pressure of the label and the manager do not understand. The reason why they don’t understand it, is because the label and the manager all want to be paid RIGHT now.

Go on to Black Sabbath’s Spotify account and check to see which songs are the most streamed from them. It is all the songs written 40 years ago and nothing from the new album. Streaming services do pay.  If the artists have a problem with not getting “paid” by streaming services, they should be checking with the company they sold their rights to. Black Sabbath might scream piracy, however who is collecting the monies from Spotify streams for their back catalogue. The answer: the company that holds the rights is collecting.

I remember a time when musicians used to lead. Now technologists lead, while the artists entourage of money leaches are screaming they are not making any money, while the association who represents the Record Labels (and who claims incorrectly that they represent the artists as well) the RIAA plays Whac-A-Mole with technology. They killed Napster only to get Kazaa and Limewire. They killed Kazaa and Limewire, only to get BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay. They kill one cyber locker like Megaupload and another ten more appear. They send DMCA takedowns to Google and then another 100 new links spring up. Seriously does Google need to be doing all this work, just for providing a service like a search engine.

What artists and the labels do not realise is that Spotify and YouTube has made a dent in people’s downloading habits. Progress doesn’t happen overnight or right now. It takes years and sometimes decades. Invest now for rewards later, however the record labels do not believe in this, the managers do not believe in this and they convince the artists that they sign to not believe in this. So what do they believe in; short term profits.

The answer to success is right there in front of the artist. If an artist wants to make plenty of money in music, they need to be a superstar as no one has time for anything less. Just like there is one Facebook, one Google and one Amazon, the same filtering will happen in music and their respective niches.

Five Finger Death Punch is knocking on that Superstar door for the metal genre. They have competition from Stone Sour, Bullet For My Valentine and Disturbed, however if fan engagement is an indication then Five Finger Death Punch are the new superstars.

Shinedown is already the new superstar for the hard rock genre. Bands like Hinder, Adelitas Way, Alter Bridge, Seether, Halestorm, Three Days Grace, Black Stone Cherry, Saving Abel, Pop Evil, Rev Theory, Breaking Benjamin are the challengers.

Dream Theater is already the superstar for the progressive genre. They are unrivalled and really unchallenged at the moment.

Periphery are the Djent superstars.

TesserAct are the new Pink Floyd superstars.

Machine Head are the new superstars of the thrash genre.

Metallica have surpassed superstar status and have moved into the Legends space.

If you want to survive in the future, you need to live in it. Metallica now understands this, however AC/DC still doesn’t understand it. For some insane reason, AC/DC is holding their music back from Spotify (which is licensed and pays) while it is on Grooveshark and YouTube (which are unlicensed and do not pay).

Spotify might not even win the streaming war. Maybe Google will come up with something better, maybe iTunes Radio will win, or some other new player will come on the scene and blow everyone away. One thing is clear, there will be only one streaming champion. Diehard fans will still pay up front for songs they have never heard, however with so much music coming out at the moment and our time so limited, this is not the business model that artists should base their future on.

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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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Music, Uncategorized

Guitar World – January – 1986

Guitar World – 1986 – January

I was unpacking boxes and I came across all of my Guitar World magazines, Guitar for the Practicing Musician which morphed into just Guitar, Guitar School, Guitar One, Guitar Player, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Australian Guitar and Guitar Player.

This was the first Guitar World magazine I purchased.  I remember purchasing it from the newsagency, bringing it home and slowly taking it out of the plastic.  I remember turning the pages over as delicate as a heart surgeon.   This was all I had back in 86, apart from a tape of Twisted Sister’s Stay Hunger, Van Halen’s 1984, Bruce Springsteen’s – Born In The USA and Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil.  I also had some seven inch singles from my brothers that had Kiss – I Was Made for Loving You and Hard Times as its B Side.

It had Yngwie Malmsteen on the cover.   I don’t know why I purchased this edition as at that time I didn’t even know who Yngwie was or how he sounded.  However I was starting to get into guitars and the magazine was called Guitar World.

There was a small piece in a section called The Whammy Bar, which stated that Billy Sheehan will be joining David Lee Roth on his new solo project and that DLR is also trying to get Yngwie Malmsteen in there.  Here is the connection for me as I knew who DLR was from Van Halen.  This alone made me interested in seeking out the music from Malmsteen.

Who would have thought how interconnected Malmsteen and Steve Vai where at that time.  Talk about six degrees of separation.  So Malmsteen came to America and played in a hard rock band called Alcatrazz.  When he left that band to do Rising Force, Alcatrazz hired Steve Vai as his replacement.  DLR is looking at putting a new band together post Van Halen and Malmsteen is sought out, however it is Vai that gets the job.

Then I read the Malmsteen interview.

“I’d rather have people dislike my style than change it,” he says. “If someone says, ‘Hey, Yngwie, you play too damn much’ –- I don’t care. The way I play is the way I like to play. If people like it – great.  If they don’t, it’s still fine with me.”

I think 27 years on; it’s safe to say that Yngwie didn’t conform to any record label standard.   I have listened to every album he has produced and while quite a few became a yawn fest and a waste of time I will never get back, he never gave in and he never sacrificed his ideals to please the  corporate empires.  For any guitarist or musician coming out, this should be your motto especially when you have musicians from ‘successful ‘ groups departing and issuing comments like this (from Adam Gontier – ex Three Days Grace vocalist);

“The music BUSINESS.  Remember this people…, in my/our case; it’s always been about the “business”.  The money.  What about the love for creating real music from the heart?  Where did that fit in? Pretty much nowhere.  No room for music from the heart, when it’s just about music for the radio.”  

You can safely say that Malmsteen has always been about the music.

It’s okay to have haters.  You cannot please everyone.  However as soon as you lose what made you special in the first place, you are the same as everyone else.

“I’ve always sacrificed things in order to become the best musician I could be. “

Malmsteen dropped out of school at 15, got a job working in a guitar shop which further developed his skills (being able to play is one thing, however knowing your equipment and knowing how it all hangs together is another).  How many kids these days drop out of school at 15?  Why would they?  Isn’t it better to get an education and even go to Uni/College so that there is something to fall back on?

“If guitar players just listen to other guitar players it’s almost impossible to avoid sounding like them,” says Malmsteen, who acknowledges only Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore as guitar influences.”

Isn’t that so true.  Look at all the metal guitarists around today, they can do all the guitar tricks from so many different styles, all packaged into one.  Malmsteen sweeps, Van Halen taps, Al DiMeola alternate picking, Steve Morse string skipping, John Petrucci legato, Randy Rhoads modal theories, and so on.  The ones that truly stand out are the ones that do it a touch differently.  Disturbed is a prime example that comes to mind of this where guitar and drums where one.  The guitar acted like a percussion instrument.  Great music can be born out of the syncopation of drums and guitar.

“It’s also important to me that what I play fast will also sound good if the same notes are played at a slower speed. I play classical runs, arpeggios and broken chords that if played at a slower speed would sound very nice as well. “

Has anyone ever done it?  I have.  I remember taking Trilogy Suite and playing it at 100bpm instead of the 200 bpm it is supposed to be.

“Anyone who’s witnessed Malmsteen on stage knows he is an intensely exciting performer. Most guitarists with mind-boggling technique are actually quite boring in concert, but Malmsteen manages to impress as well as entertain. He is always in constant motion, whether playing his Strat with his teeth or effortlessly twirling it around his body.”

This is a general rule for every musician.   The definition of musician also takes in the definition of performer.  You need to deliver the goods live and make it exciting.  You need to make the kids want to be you, you need to inspire the almost there musicians to be you and you need to leave the mouths wide open of seasoned musicians.   Otherwise the million plus other musicians will come along and push you aside.

“Much hard work, of course, has gone into honing his style.  “I’ve been playing constantly since the age of eight,” says the twenty-two-year-old guitarist.”

Yes that’s right, Malmsteen was 22 in 1986.  He came to the U.S in 1983 as a 19 year old.   This is what kids need to realise.  It takes time.  Nothing happens overnight.  You need to be in it for the long haul.  In the case of Malmsteen, he came to the US and joined Steeler and then Alcatrazz.  Both bands where stepping stones.

Would Led Zeppelin have been so great if they formed in 1964 or 1966?  Would Jimmy Page write the songs he did if he didn’t do time with the Yardbirds and the British studio scenes.

Would Metallica be where they are if they kept their original bassist and never hired Cliff Burton?   Would they have written Master of Puppets if Dave Mustaine was still in the band?

Basically it was a long road to success once upon a time and that hasn’t changed in the current internet era.  Even someone like PSY had put in time before he went viral.  His first album was released in 2001.  It wasn’t until 2011 that the world knew who he was and that was achieved without the traditional mainstream press and radio.

Even though the news carriers publicise the one in a million stories of people found and made into overnight sensations, there are still a billion of other artists still paying their dues.

“I’ve always been aware of recording techniques,” he says, “and I’ve always felt I could do a better job than an outside producer because they obviously don’t know the songs as well as I do.  I mean, I don’t think a painter would do the background and let someone else finish the rest of the painting.”

The musician definition just keeps on growing.  You create, you perform, you know your gear and tweak it to suit, you practice your art, you record your own music, you produce it and release it.  With the internet and advancements of technology, every musician should be doing the above.

 “Malmsteen’s desire to do it all obviously puts a lot of weight on his shoulders. Will he keep a clean head and progress? Or will he get caught up in the rabid attention he’s been getting and stagnate? The answers to these questions will prove if Malmsteen becomes the legendary guitarist he is so capable of becoming.”

The magazine came out in January 1986.  Malmsteen was promoting Marching Out which came out October 1985.  In September of 86 he released Trilogy.  Three albums in three years as a solo artist.  In total if you include Steeler and Alcatrazz releases that is six releases in four years.

Remember Malmsteen’s motto, it’s all about the music.  Keep on pumping the music boys and girls, that is how it was done back in the day so that artists could get traction and that is how it should be done in this day and age.  Six album releases in four years.  A total of 50 songs over a 48 month (as one Alcatrazz album was a live release).

A song a month should be the aim of every artist as a minimum.

Did Malmsteen become the legendary guitarist?  My view is YES.  He released Odyssey in 1988 with Joe Lyn Turner which became Malmsteen’s most successful album of his career and the one where you could have questioned if he was becoming another record label slave.  Remember his motto, its all about the music and the very commercial sounding Joe Lynn Turner was fired.

Did he maintain his legendary status?  My view is YES.  When shredding and neo-classical became out of fashion in the record label controlled U.S Malmsteen still forged a successful career in Europe and Japan during the 1990’s.  He never gave in to suit a flavour of the year style.  He remained true to himself and that to me is the sign of a legend.

Yes there are stories of his ego, his erratic behaviour, his fury (remember the plane incident) and his controlling manner however he never gave away himself, he never sold out to cash in.  As soon as he became commercially successful, he fired the singer and started a new again.

I remember reading in Metal Edge or another music rag sometime during the mid 90’s that Malmsteen and Ronnie James Dio ended up getting together to write some songs or where going to get together to form a supergroup.  I don’t know how true that is and what happened to the music they created.

Other guitarists mentioned in the magazine where Spacey T. from the band Sound Barrier, Kazumi Watanabe, George Thorogood, John Martyn, Lonnie Mack, Steve Stevens, Dave Meniketti and Al Di Meola.  But that is for another day.

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