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.

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

Incarnate

Jesse Leach has paid his dues. He was the original lead singer in Killswitch Engage. Then he departed after their break through album, replaced by Howard Jones. The band continued gaining momentum. Rumors started to circulate of friction between Adam Dutkiewicz  and Howard Jones, around the vocalists performances  in the studio and on the stage.

Leach in the meantime experimented with a few different projects and musical styles, ranging from blues to metalcore. And then he got a call from Adam to write lyrics for a little side project he had going. This project would go on to become Times Of Grace.

In music it’s the people behind the music who are the stars. And the producer behind Killswitch Engage is Adam himself. All the normal metal zines are covering Anthrax, who are doing the old school publicity junket. But it’s Killswitch who’s winning.

The world is changing. Honesty and truth rule the day. And Jesse Leach is very honest in his lyrics than Jesse Leach.  Along with Robb Flynn, he took down Anselmo’s white power.

“Incarnate” is the latest from Killswitch Engage and metalheads are proving once again, how loyal they are to supporting the artist in various forms. Sales of recorded music for metal bands is higher compared to other genres. Streaming is no slouch either.

“Alone I Stand”

It sounds like a “Times Of Grace” tune “Strength In Numbers” at the start. Regardless, it’s a brilliant song.

A day of great tribulation is upon us
A time of deception conflict and unrest
I will not cower in fear and submission
I will hold my ground and resist

That talking part is like a sermon in the Church of Metal.

I am disconnected from a system I’ve rejected.

What a line. Where do the misfits stand when we reject what is demanded of us. To paraphrase the Chorus, alone we stand.

“Hate By Design”

It’s a one-two knock out punch. What a song and the lyrics from Jesse, brilliant. In a recent interview that appeared on Blabbermouth, he mentions the song, as he was talking about Phil Anselmo’s “white power” gesture.

“Every time I get this question, my answer is the [KILLSWITCH ENGAGE] song ‘Hate By Design’ [about prejudice and discrimination being passed on from generation to generation]. Just read the lyrics. There’s your answer.”

We are born free
From the restrains of this society
Helpless to what is instilled

I’m instantly taken back to “The Unforgiven” from Metallica, especially the lyrics, “New blood joins this Earth and quickly he’s subdued”. A connection is made to a song from my past.

On YouTube it’s got 1,364,393 views. On Spotify, it’s got 1,333,386 streams.

“Strength Of The Mind”

Track number 4. It has 1,263,792 views on YouTube and on Spotify it has 1,470,525 streams.

Who can raise you from the fall and save you? Only you

That’s right. Our power is unlimited, if we just believe in ourselves and stop worrying about where we sit in the pecking order.

I’ve seen rock bottom and I’ve smashed my fists against it
Just keep telling yourself it will be alright

Man, that message. Who hasn’t been there. We all have had those moments, when you feel like you are not winning and everything you do just turns to crap. And your spending your days doing things for others, through obligation or duty to the family. And its so far away from the world of possibilities you had when you where young.

There are no detours when it comes to Killswitch. If you are a fan of the band, then you are a fan for life.

“Quiet Distress”

The victim, over and over again
Becomes the victor in the end

There is a saying about how you handle failure and rejection that determines your character.

“Until The Day”

The open spaces
Another city passes as we sleep
And it calls to me

Is it a song about life on the road. A departure from the well-known songs like “Turn The Page”, “Home Sweet Home” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. but still up there.

“It Falls On Me”

You don’t see me, you can’t hear my voice
Left me with nothing without a choice

Who hasn’t been in a relationship where all decisions are made for you.

“The Great Deceit”

Love the thrash intro.

How many more will die before we realize the truth has been disguised?

Our institutions are good at deceit. They employ people to sell their lies as truth. It’s always refreshing to see artists raise questions about them.

“We Carry On”

Somehow through it all
We carry on (we carry on)

And that’s life in a nutshell. We always find a way to carry on. We overcome setbacks, deaths in the family, wins and losses. Through it all, we still carry on.

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Going Viral

I have a Killswitch Engage Google Alert set up and from when I set up that alert I would be lucky to get at least one alert a day with a story on Killswitch Engage. The only exception to this rule of thumb was when Killswitch Engage had a new album coming out and the guys in the band started doing the whole promotional run. During those cycles I would get daily alerts with two to three links of interviews.

So imagine my surprise when I started getting Google Alerts a few days ago on Killswitch Engage and it had over 12 to 15 links to different websites all telling the same story.

“Metal Guitarist wins big on “The Price Is Right”.

News outlets that have never run a Killswitch Engage story at all (and probably never will after this) suddenly jumped on the band wagon.

Yep, Adam Dutkiewicz’s hilarious appearance on “The Price Is Right” and then going on to win over $50K in cash/prizes plus a holiday was brilliant and it went viral. For Adam Dutkiewicz, if he got a marketing team and paid them top dollar for this type of promotion, he wouldn’t be able to get it.

The reason why it went viral is that we, the fans shared the fuck out of it because of Adam.

He is a genuine rock star, a great talent, a hard worker (via being a producer and a band member) and a madman that keeps it real.

I remember watching him perform when he toured Australia with “Times Of Grace”. He is a dead set madman on stage. His leg was in a knee brace, however that did nothing to slow him down. Eventually, the knee brace came off and ended up backstage.

So when I saw the footage from “The Price Is Right” it was exactly as you would expect Adam to be. Hilarious and all he wanted to do was say hello to his dog. Because when you have a resume that involves musician, recording engineer, songwriter, and music producer, it leaves little time to be a family man.

That is why he is adored.

Music is his lifestyle.

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

Guitar Heroes

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

October 1989 Guitar World…

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

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

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

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

Tom Englund/Henrik Danhage

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

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

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

Zoltan Bathory/Jason Hook

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

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

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

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

Adam Dutkiewicz/Joel Stroetzel

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

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

Robb Flynn/Phil Demmel

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

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

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

Claude Sanchez/Travis Stever

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

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

Synester Gates/Zacky Vengeance

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

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

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

Luke Hoskin/ Tim Millar

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

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

Matt Heafy/ Corey Beaulieu

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

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

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

Jake Pitts/Jinxx

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

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

Dee Snider even called them “rockstars”.

Matthew Tuck/Michael “Padge” Paget

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

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

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

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

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Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Songs Based On Inspiration Rather Than Logic

That is the difference between everlasting music and throwaway crap. You wanna know why Shinedown had a lot of success with “The Sound of Madness” in 2008. It’s because the songs were inspired and genuine. The audience loved the throwbacks to the classic rock of the Seventies. The fan base connected with the lyrical themes. Look at Spotify and YouTube and you will see that one of the most streamed/viewed songs from the album is “Call Me” and it wasn’t even a single.

You see, when fans get behind a band there are so many reasons why they do it. It could be a lifestyle choice. It could be a song connection. There is no exact formula, however the labels will still try to re-create those successes by signing many other bands in an attempt to emulate what Shinedown achieved with “The Sound Of Madness”.

Sort of like how Daughtry and James Durbin went off into the sunset to chase the pop trends of Coldplay, Casting Crowns and Train. Logic will tell you that if you write a song that is of similar calibre it will connect with an audience. But for both of those artists, it failed to pay off. “Baptism” and “Celebrate” both took a long time to complete and they more or less disappeared from the conversation within a week.

Why is “The End Of Heartache” from Killswitch Engage seen as an important album?

The reason why this album is seen as an important album and a classic is that it gave every guitar player hope for a future. The guitar playing on the album is phenomenal and it brought back metal to the masses in a major way. And with anything that is successful, people copy it and try to emulate that same success with other bands. The record labels saturated the market with copycat acts which more or less ensures that the metalcore movement suffers the same fate as the glam/rock movement. The media labelled it as metalcore. For Adam Dutkiewicz and crew, “The End Of Heartache” is basically a band that was refusing to dance to someone else’s tune.

“It’s almost like today’s songs are all written with the same formula – they have the same snare sound, the same bass sound and that generic heavy rock guitar tone.”
Jake E Lee said the above in an interview with Guitar World September 1991 issue.

Why do I mention it?

Because it is TRUTH.

Anyway remember the bands at the forefront of the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal. Bands like Bleeding Through, Shadows Fall and Chimaira. All gone. God Forbid is also gone. After 15 years plus in the game, they couldn’t work out how to stay relevant, how to find new fans, how to maintain existing fans and how to create new music that cuts through the noise.

On a personal level, I supported Chimaira and Shadows Fall. On their last couple of releases I was getting the feel that their songs started to focus on a more logical structure. Robb Flynn recently referred to this situation as “samey”.

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

So Do You Want To Know What Being In A Band Is Really Like?

Do You Want To Know What Being In A Band Was Really Like?

It was a lifestyle of round ’em up from whatever place or establishment they were in, go on the road, and see what happens. In between trips they will write songs, try em out live, and then go and record the tracks that worked the best in a live setting. Some people got rich in the process and the others get rich from the lifestyle.

“Highway Star” from Deep Purple was written in 1971 during the day while the band was travelling to a gig and performed that same night. In 1972, it was the lead off track on the excellent “Machine Head” album.

Towards the end of the seventies, artists ceased doing it this way.

Why?

Because of the “Blockbuster” record label business model.

In the music business, the Blockbuster Business Model refers to a method of spending large amounts of money on recording and marketing, with the hope that the music will become a blockbuster, generating high returns. If a band had some traction, then they were perfect candidates for the “Blockbuster Record”. Plus it also helped that before the Soundscan era, the record labels found a loophole in the certification process that was based on distribution numbers instead of sales numbers.

That is why bands started to spend 12 months in a studio. That is why albums started to cost millions.

The record labels knew what they were doing. Spend millions recording it, then print up a million copies of it and you have a platinum record to give to the band.

It as an accepted fact that there are a low amount of blockbusters each year. And it those blockbusters that prop up the rest.

Let’s look at last year. The blockbuster albums for the rock and metal genre’s could be broken down to the following releases;

Five Finger Death Punch
Avenged Sevenfold
Volbeat
Thirty Seconds To Mars
Black Sabbath
A Day To Remember
Bring Me The Horizon
Skillet
Black Veil Brides
Bullet for My Valentine
Killswitch Engage
Stone Sour
Trivium
Dream Theater
Coheed and Cambria

But what are the songs that people are cranking. If you go to Spotify and check the top ten songs for each band, you will see that following;

Five Finger Death Punch have no song from “The Wrong Side Of Heaven” albums in the Top 10, however they have the sales on the board.

Avenged Sevenfold are streaming stars with “Hail To The King”, “Shepherd Of Fire”, “This Is War” and “Doin Time” leading the charge. They are also selling stars.

Volbeat are super streaming stars. “Lola Montez”, “Cape Of Our Hero”, “Pearl Hart” and “The Nameless One” are leading the way. And the album is still selling, 12 months after it was released.

Thirty Seconds To Mars are also streaming stars. “Up In The Air” and “City Of Angels” are the stars from the new album, with “Do Or Die” slowly rising as a serious challenger. And after the Oscars, the album got a new lease of life in the sales department.

Black Sabbath have “Loner”, “God Is Dead” and “End Of The Beginning” as the songs that people decided are worthy of their attention. The album also had a three-month run in the sales department.

A Day To Remember have no real star songs to remember from their “Common Courtesy” album but they do have the sales.

Bring Me The Horizon have their whole album in the Spotify Top 10 and man, the streaming numbers are good. “Can You Feel My Heart” has 7.2 million streams, “Sleepwalking” has 7.5 million streams. Plus they have the sales.

Skillet has nothing from “Rise” in the Top 10 songs for Spotify, however their album is still selling.

Black Veil Brides have “In The End” leading the charge for them and also had a good run in the sales department.

Bullet for My Valentine have “Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)”, “Breaking Point”, “Riot” and “Temper Temper” leading the way.

Killswitch Engage have “In Due Time” leading the charge with four of other songs also in the Top 10.

Stone Sour have “Do Me A Favour” leading the charge from the 2013, House Of Gold and Bones release.

Trivium have “Strife” leading the way.

Dream Theater have “The Enemy Inside” with 800,000 streams but it’s pretty clear that compared to the other bands, Dream Theater fans purchased the album and are listening to it that way.

Coheed and Cambria really pushed the sale deluxe editions of the “The Afterman” releases to their fans and it paid off for them very handsomely. Which is probably why they have no songs in the Top 10 for their Spotify account. It’s because we, the fans have the mp3’s due to the way Coheed and Cambria packaged it.

So do you want to know what being in a band is really like now?

It is a lifestyle of writing and releasing songs, connecting with fans and being as human as possible. Some people will make money in the process, some people will walkaway and complain that piracy is killing everything and then others will still get rich from the lifestyle. Then when the great song turns into great songs, the band will hit the road.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit, Unsung Heroes

Music Trends in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal – What’s On The Up and What’s On The Down

ON A DOWN SLOPE

DAUGHTRY

The band leader, Chris Daughtry messed up big time chasing the crowds of “Train” and “Imagine Dragons”. He was a hard rocker from day dot and that is what gave him his legion of fans. For the ill-fated and recent “Baptized” album, he committed career suicide, throwing his lot with the hit songwriters. The songs are good, however they are not Daughtry songs. It would have been better for him as an artist to have given those songs to other artists that are more electronic pop rock minded. Daughtry needs more music right away and they need it to ROCK.

RECORD LABELS

The major metal and rock labels will continue to sign the bands and artists that had success in the Eighties and Nineties and get those bands to release forgeries of their greatest hits. It’s all about locking up the songs under copyright. “He who owns a lot of copyrights, will make a lot of money in the future, when said artists are dead and buried.”

In relation to new bands, they will sing fewer bands on even more shittier deals and shift their efforts to breaking them. It doesn’t mean that we will pay attention. It will be bands from certain niche’s that will break out and we will gravitate to them.

Also no one wants to pay. Look at the APP business. The highest downloaded APPS are all free ones. And they are still making money. We are happy to provide our private data to Apple and Google, as long as we get what we want, with no strings attached. If a record label has a business model that is dependent upon people paying, re-evaluate.

KIRK HAMMETT

He is out of touch. We live in a world right now that is connected 24/7. A lot of those connections happen because of social media. So his recent, “Ivory Tower” comments about social media show just how out of touch he is. Also from seeing him play live on three occasions, he has made a career on the coat tails of James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. Don’t believe me, watch the making of the Black album, especially the scene when Bob Rock tells him that the solo he just put down for “The Unforgiven” is garbage.

HYPE

We can see through the hype and we hate it. So much hype was around Dream Theater’s self titled release and it disappeared from the conversation within six weeks. Megadeth’s “Super Collider” is being outsold by the Black album. Daughtry’s “Baptized” took forever to record and it did nothing. You can’t have a song called “Long Live Rock N Roll” and not have it sounding anything like ROCK. It sounds like that one hit wonder song “I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker With A Flower In My Hair.”

RESPONSE SYSTEMS FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

NAPSTER showed the music business and the entertainment business at large, how fans of music, movies and books want to consume content. They want to download it easily, free of DRM, use it in any way they want and they want to do it for free.

For all of the talentless CEO’s that flew in private jets off the hard work by the artists, this was a big NO NO. So off they went to their lobby group arms, the RIAA and MPAA and they started to lobby hard the governments. The various sister associations around the world started to do the same thing. The best thing they could come up with is a graduated response system, financed by the ISP’s. It failed in France. It failed in New Zealand. In the U.S it is hard to tell, especially when you have a copyright troll like Rightscorp shaking down IP addresses. So if Rightscorp is sending shake down notices to ISP’s, then why does the US have a graduated response scheme?

The bottom line is this, the people who the RIAA and MPAA want to catch are years ahead of them in INNOVATION. And INNOVATION is what they should be focusing on.

THE ALBUM FORMAT

We are challenged with time and we only want the best. Since we are allowed to cherry pick, we will. Heavy Metal and Hard Rock artists need to understand they are in the hit business. It doesn’t matter if they are radio-friendly or not. Each band in each metal and rock genre, needs to create that song that hits us on the first listen.

That is why bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold and Shinedown are so successful. They get the game. That is why Killswitch Engage is successful. Adam Dutkiewicz understands the power of a massive chorus. That is why Trivium is having a career. Over the course of all of their albums, they always had a song that had “hit potential” for the genre they are in.

Making money is hard. Just because a band releases an album, it doesn’t mean that we want to pay for it in its entirety, especially if it has got a couple of crap songs on it. It’s better to release 8 songs that a “certifiable smashes” instead of 12 songs that have four crap ones. However, it turns out the public still has time for Metallica’s “Black” album. It is still moving two to three thousand units a week and it is expected to pass 16 million by May.

Artists need to think about the no limits that digital offers them. We want the good stuff. Artists need to think about how they can provide us the good stuff, without resorting to the album format. Don’t base your career on dropping an album every two years. An artist needs to base their career on constant events.

GOING GOING ALMOST GONE

CLASSIC ROCK

The artists are on their last legs. Motley Crue is ceasing to tour, however stand alone shows, plus new music are still in the works. They have hit the same markets over and over again since their 2004 comeback and in between they have released 3 new songs on a “Greatest Hits” album, 13 new songs on “Saints of Los Angeles” and 1 new song in 2012. The train is slowly coming to a halt.

Aerosmith released a DUD. The train is not a rolling anymore for them. All up, Classic Rock bands have maybe have another 10 years left.

A transition is happening. The younger acts are generating touring dollars, playing smaller venues and at affordable prices. It’s happening.

ON THE UP

STORYTELLING

That is why TV shows are the most downloaded torrents of all time. Tell a good story and the world will be at your door step.

RICHIE SAMBORA

Seeing him in Australia, he is invigorated and he is having a blast. Not having to play second fiddle to Jon Bon Jovi, he is branching out again and this time, his roots are strong enough to balance his branches. The “Aftermath Of The Lowdown” is the best hard rock record from 2012 that went unnoticed because it was released so close to his Bon Jovi work.

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