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

November 2020 – Part 1

A lot of music has been released in November so far. So here we go with my review of it.

Black Stone Cherry

I have a bias towards BSC, so it’s not surprise they lead off my November posts of new releases.

“The Human Condition” is the album. They are like my modern day heavy rock ZZ Top.

“The Chain” grooves its way through until the solo section riff kicks in and the speed picks up. “Ringin’ In My Head” and “Again” flow into each other, catchy and groovy tracks that remain ringing in my head after they’ve finished.

“When Angels Learn To Fly” is a bit removed from their blues rock and more in Shinedown like territory. And one of my favourite tracks on the album.

As soon as the intro lead break starts for “In Love With The Pain” I was all in.

“Ride” sounds like it came from the Sunset Strip. “Don’t Bring Me Down” is a cover from ELO and it works perfectly.

System Of A Down

“Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” is SOAD’s response to Azerbaijan and Turkey’s bombing of an Armenian settlement inside Azerbaijan called Nagorno-Karabakh which the Armenians call Artsakh.

All of the SOAD members are from Armenian ancestries and this conflict has gotten the band to write and record new music.

At it its highest level, it’s a conflict based on religious divides first. Armenia is Christian and Azerbaijan is Islam.

From 1988 to 1994, the original war broke out, with the area being liberated into Armenian hands. But in Europe, these kind of small liberations are rarely forgotten by the losing side. Clashes have occurred throughout the years, from 2008 onwards and in 2020, it escalated again.

“Protect The Land” is a tribute to the soldiers and people of Artsakh who are risking their lives to protect their homes.

Orianthi

“O” is the new album.

It’s on Frontiers.

I read ten reviews of the album and all of them hated it. One review even went to town on how the marketing team are promoting Orianthi, and they used an image from one of the music videos of her slithering on a bed in undies and all that.

For me, it’s great to see Orianthi back out on her own.

And from the outset, “Contagious” gets me rocking, a cross between blues rock and a bit of Muse chucked in. “Sinners Hymn” is a nice amalgamation of the devils blues music with modern rock to create a sinners anthem. “Sorry” is a contemporary pop song.

“Crawling Out Of The Dark” is on acoustic, it’s quite, subdued and melancholic.

“Streams Of Consciousness” is a co-write with Nikki Sixx and Marti Frederiksen. Country rock at its best. And then there is a track like “Company” which has blues guitar but the background foundation is very synth driven. And a chorus that would not be out of place on an album from “The Cure”. “Moonwalker” has got this Latin vibe.

In other words there is a lot of variation here and a little bit for everyone.

Fates Warning

On Metal Blade Records.

One of the first progressive metal bands I got into. For a prog band to succeed there has to be a song. If there isn’t a song, then all of the flash and technical interludes over complex time changes means nothing. Jim Matheos can craft a song and he doesn’t need to create complex interludes with millions of notes. Sometimes an atmospheric mood or groove is enough.

“Long Day Good Night” is their newest album and they’ve been on form since their comeback 5 years ago after a long hiatus.

“The Destination Onward” percolates for the first few minutes as it builds into a rocker. “Shuttered World” and “Alone We Walk” establish grooves and move on with em. This is as straight forward as Fates Warning get. “The Way Home” builds for 4 minutes before the band smashes in and rocks their way for another three or so minutes.

“Glass Houses” brings the prog metal that Fates Warning is known for.

The piece d’resistance is “Longest Shadow of the Day”. At the start it combines a King Crimson like progression with flamenco style guitars and a bass solo. And as the song percolates and builds, its fusion of styles clash into the Fates Warning style, I like. And this happens around the 3 minute mark.

At 5 and a half minutes, it all quietens down with some mournful arpeggios and it’s time for Ray Alder’s voice to shine.

Then at 8.42, Joey Vera takes over with a bass riff that makes me want to take up bass. Drummer, Bobby Jarzombek also shines, with Matheos and new guitarist, Michael Adbow decorating.

And did I mention it has a great guitar solo as well?

It does.

And for those Armored Saint fans, bassist Joey Vera has been doing work with Fates Warning since 2000 and he’s still rocking and progging away with em.

Jeff Scott Soto

Otherwise known as JSS from here on in. One of my favourite rock voices when it comes to melodic rock, and I am also digging the work he’s doing with Sons Of Apollo.

The album “Wide Awake (In My Dreamland)” kicks off in melodic rock style with “Someone To Love”. From the opening intro lead, I am hooked. “Mystified” is more L.A Sunset Strip than Euro Melodic Metal with a shred-a-licious solo.

“Love’s Blind” rocks in the intro and verses. The Chorus is a bit clichéd but hey JSS has a lot of goodwill in my book, so it doesn’t really detract.

“Without You” is one of those Euro like ballads that borders on classical music. Listening to it, I’m hearing, Zep, Bruce Dickinson, ELO and Swedish acts like Roxette and ABBA.

“Paper Wings” has guitar work that reminds me of the work that JSS did with Malmsteen and is an instant favourite for me. I know that Malmsteen has dissed JSS in the press, but Malmsteen is known as a revisionist and whatever he says doesn’t diminish the work that JSS did with him, especially on the excellent “Marching Out”.

Album closer “Desperate” also captures that 80’s metal vibe that I like.

Part 2 is coming up.

Standard