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

1996 – Part 5.5: Stabbing Westward – Wither Blister Burn & Peel

It was their 2001 self-titled album that made me a fan and I went backwards. “Darkest Days” was consumed next and then “Whither Blister Burn & Peel”.

Before writing started for this album, main songwriter and guitarist Stuart Zechman departed the band after the “Ungod” tour due to “personal differences”.

So the band for this album is Christopher Hall on lead vocals, guitar and drum machine programming. Jim Sellers is on bass and guitar. Walter Flakus is on keyboards and programming. Andy Kubiszewski is on drums, guitar and keyboards.

Kubiszewski was actually new as well, and when it came to song writing for this album, he played the band dozens of demos he did. Songs like “What Do I Have to Do?”, “Haunting Me,” “Sometimes It Hurts,” “Crushing Me,” “Slipping Away,” “Desperate Now,” and “Goodbye.” These song would appear on this album and the “Darkest Days” albums.

The band thought about finding another guitarist however they went into the studio without any guitar player and decided to play the guitar parts themselves with Sellers and Kubiszewski taking on most of the guitar duties.

I Don’t Believe

Any song that starts off with the words “I’m such an asshole” and “I just keep fucking up” means business. While rooted in the Industrial sounds of NIN, it has a certain arena rock vibe when the Chorus kicks in which the hook “I don’t believe I could be so stupid and naïve”.

Shame

The big song from the album. The intro riff is infectious, instantly making me pick up the guitar to learn it.

What Do I Have to Do?

The electronic keys riff with the sound effects is unusual and I like it. My favourite song, which shows a real rock vocal.

Press play to hear how the second verse riff crashes in. Brilliant.

And the hook, is so desperate with the words, “what do I have to do if you don’t want me”

Why

The main music is sound effects, electronics and the keys providing a riff. It all feels so desolate and haunting. But I like it.

Why can’t you see that everything is broken?

These kind of artists got blasted by rock audiences at the grim nature of their lyrics, but as a fan of metal bands and thrash metal in particular, these kind of lyrics are nothing new. All of our heroes have fears and doubts.

Inside You

It’s like soundtrack music with a vocal melody over it.

Falls Apart

The album does fall apart with this song. It has a Ministry like riff which starts off the song full of energy, however the verses really let it down.

So Wrong

This could be on a metal album or a rock album and it wouldn’t be out of place because of the main riff.

Actually Fates Warning have a similar song on their “Disconnect” album from 2000.

Crushing Me

It’s like a long lost song from Kurt Cobain. Press play and check out the intro riff. But there are a lot of sections with sound effects, electronics and keys which just take away the good from the intro riff.

Sleep

There is a cool riff in this song, but you would need to listen through a lot of soundscapes and electronics. But when it comes it around the 2.10 mark, it’s worth the wait.

Slipping Away

This one just slipped away from me as the title states, with too much electronica.

The album was a success and supported by the singles “Shame” and “What Do I Have to Do?” they got themselves a Gold certification in the U.S and some heavy MTV rotation. The band also recruited Mark Eliopulos to handle the live element of the main guitar parts.

This is how it was for me between 1995 to about 2005. I would buy an album from a hard rock band I knew and I would be buying albums from so many different artists that looked like they had distorted guitars and played something that could be influenced by metal and rock bands.

I was just looking for something to get into it.

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

The Record Vault: Def Leppard – Slang

Released in 1996.

Def Leppard couldn’t continue in the same vein of “Pyromania”, “Hysteria” and “Adrenalize” without a reset. It became a heavy burden to carry on the style of those albums. They either had to change or die.

Truth

I was surprised when the opening musical notes of “Truth” started off, and the distorted “why don’t you tell me” vocal line. It was more in the vein of Brit Alternative Rock/Pop than Blues Heavy Rock.

Check out the exotic sounding lead break. And the demo version of the song sounds more natural and it’s my go to version as the mix is in the heavy rock category that I like.

Turn To Dust

I like the exotic middle eastern sounds on “Turn To Dust” before a groovy Rick Savage bass riff kicks in and the Chorus is classic Def Lep, with the layered vocals.

Slang

“Slang” always felt like an INXS song to me as it’s got that fun pop vibe.

All I Want Is Everything

How good is the repeating lick intro to “All I Want Is Everything”?

Then when the drums and bass come in, it’s got a perfect groove and Joe Elliot’s haunting vocal melody takes it to another level.

This track could have come from a Tom Petty album.

Work It Out

“Work It Out” is Vivian Campbell’s first songwriting contribution and it’s a high point on the album. The song reminds me of the sounds of British bands like Gun who had a brief moment in the spotlight between 1989 and 1995.

The chugging guitar sound was made by running Campbell’s guitar through a drum machine gate.

In the June, 1996, Guitar issue, Campbell said that when “he was in Dio, he wrote some of the music, but writing a song for Dio was basically writing a guitar riff and 32 bars of a guitar solo. That was his world, as Dio would then arrange the pieces as he saw fit.”

Then again legions of fans liked him for that Dio part.

Campbell also mentioned that Def Leppard is not about the long guitar solos. It’s about getting the song right for the record.

Campbell further said that;

“In the 80’s there was more than just doing what was appropriate for the song. There was the plus, you know, that I had to do a solo for a record but also had to advance my career as a guitarist in the eyes of all guitarists.”

Make sure you stick around for the interlude section. It starts off funky, there’s a repeating palm muted guitar lick with ambient noise and then a bone crunching riff.

That’s right people, no guitar solo, but still plenty of guitar melodic licks and riffs played throughout.

Breathe A Sigh

That small fingerpicked intro for “Breathe A Sigh” is excellent. This is Def Leppard going more rhythm and blues with their unmistakable layered harmony vocals in the Chorus.

In a June 1996, Guitar issue, interviewer Rich Maloof mentioned how the hip hop groove is reminiscent of TLC’s “Diggin’ On You”.

Deliver Me

How good is the arpeggio picked guitar riff and the vocal melody from the start in “Deliver Me”?

Gift Of Flesh

And that Chorus is heavy rock with the melodic layered vocals that I expect from Def Lep.

“Gift Of Flesh” has a slamming wah solo by Phil Collen done in one take.

Blood Runs Cold

“Blood Runs Cold” is another classic Def Lep track. The actual version and the “Rough Mix” version are both excellent.

Pearl Of Euphoria

How cool is the New Wave style of guitar on “Pearl Of Euphoria”?

And yes there had to be a song title with a word that ends in “ia”.

The June 1996 Guitar piece from Rich Maloof ends with these words;

As guitarists in a band that found success in a doomed era of rock, Collen and Campbell have adopted the Darwinian notion that survival is dependent on change. The new era is just as doomed, of course, but it speaks well for this pair that they knew to change and had the reserve of talent needed to grow.

As Collen concludes, “We’ve picked up a lot of experience on the way and we found a way to get it out of our system with an album we think is right. To us, that is the biggest thing. We weren’t even slightly worried, and we think anyone who likes us will like it. And hopefully we’ll get some new fans as well.”

Crank “Slang” and enjoy an excellent Def Leppard record.

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

2001 – Part 4.5: Skillet – Alien Youth

It was the “Comatose” album released in 2006 that made me a fan of Skillet and I followed em up to to “Rise” album released in 2013.

And although I listened to “Unleashed” released in 2017 and “Victorious” from 2019, I didn’t really feel the need to relisten to em.

And when I went looking at their back catalogue I was surprised how much their sound had evolved.

“Alien Youth” is their fourth album released in 2001. Their sound on this is like industrial rock.

The band for this album is John Cooper on vocals, bass, sampling and programming, Korey Cooper on keyboards, sampling and programming, Lori Peters on drums, Kevin Haaland on guitars (except “Earth Invasion”) and Ben Kasica on guitars (“Earth Invasion”).

Alien Youth

It reminded me of Motley Crue’s “Generation Swine” album. And I like that connection.

Vapor

It reminds me of the whole “industrial rock” movement.

Earth Invasion

The best song on the album.

Very “Smells Like Teen Spirit” like.

You Are My Hope

The usual ballad.

It’s catchy and derivative.

Eating Me Away

A fuzzed out bass riff dominates the verses and once the Chorus kicks in, it’s Stabbing Westward and Korn like.

Kill Me, Heal Me

I like it’s swinging drum groove in the verses. I’ve heard Good Charlotte songs with these kind of beats and melodies, but they came after this.

Otherwise it’s all grunge rock.

The Thirst Is Taking Over

My favorite song on the album.

The verses have a programmed drum beat with clean tone and lightly delayed guitars.

And in the Chorus, there’s a distorted and fuzzed out guitar.

One Real Thing

The Chorus is hard rock and it has this “Teenage Dirtbag” vibe.

Stronger

Nirvana meets Ministry.

It has some cool riffs to jam on but lyrically it’s a bit cliched with the repeating “my god is strong” melody.

Rippin’ Me Off

It starts off terribly, with programming and sampling. Then a Nirvana like riff kicks in.

It’s a response to Marilyn Manson and his views on God being dead.

Check out the chorus. It’s heavy and angry.

You say that God is dead but you’re rippin’ me off/ You can’t infect my mind with your vanity/ You’re rippin’ me off!

Will You Be There (Falling Down)

This is a great ballad.

It feels like Bryan Adams and Celine Dion are singing it.

Come My Way

The closer. it starts off with a piano riff that sounds like it came from a soundtrack.

And it’s more hymn “Hallelujah” like.

They are labeled as a Christian Rock act, but they delivered an album that people from all walks of life would like.

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