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

My Own Top 40 List Based On iTunes Play Metrics

I made the upgrade from the iPhone 5 to the 6 and when I synced up the old phone to iTunes to back it up, I saw the top 30 songs that did the rounds over the last 12 months.

1. Lift Me Up
Five Finger Death Punch
The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 1
Released: 2013
Plays: 1481

What can I say, “The Ultimate Sin” influence just connected with me and I kept on coming back to the song over and over again.

2.Shepherd Of Fire
Avenged Sevenfold
Hail To The King
Released: 2013
Plays: 1319

Any song that can combine “Enter Sandman” and “Trust” from Metallica and Megadeth deserves attention.

3. West Ruth Ave
The Night Flight Orchestra
Internal Affairs
Released: 2012
Plays: 1271

What can I say, the Kiss “I Was Made For Lovin You” vibe connects and that Chorus melody is infectious.

4. A Day in My Life
Five Finger Death Punch
The Wrong Side of Heaven & the Righteous Side Of Hell, Vol. 2
Released: 2013
Plays: 1071

Five Finger Death Punch have two entries in my top 5. This one is a classic from Volume 2. The chorus is indelible.

5. Angel Of Mercy
Black Label Society
Catacombs Of The Black Vatican
Released: 2014
Plays: 1124

The monster that is Zakk Wylde returns with a classic. The song opens up for Zakk’s masterclass in soloing.

6. Be Somebody
Thousand Foot Krutch
The End Is Where We Begin
Released: 2012
Plays: 996

The song just flows that it sounds effortless. Brilliant.

7. Used To Be
Arrows To Athens
Kings And Thieves
Released: 2011
Plays: 743

Very surprised by the album when I came across it this year.

8. Mist
Protest The Hero
Volition
Released: 2013
Plays: 660

I thought this song would have been higher as i certainly feel like I have played it a 1000 times. Guess I’ll be a Newfoundlander.

9. Conquistador
Thirty Seconds to Mars
Love Lust Faith + Dreams
Released: 2013
Plays: 557

The riff owes a lot to Marilyn Manson’s “Fight Song” and when Jared Leto/backing vocals sing, “we will, we will, we will rise again” you can just imagine Freddie Mercury singing “we will, we will rock you”.

10. Heritage
The Kindred
Life In Lucidity
Released: 2014
Plays: 419

Love the band formerly known as “Today I Caught The Plague”. The message in this song sums up exactly how I feel about culture, we build on what came before.

11. Fly On The Wall
Thousand Foot Krutch
The End Is Where We Begin
Released: 2012
Plays: 403

Another song that just flows effortless from the fan funded “The End Is Where We Begin” album.

12. Fallen
Volbeat
Beyond Hell Above Heaven
Released: 2010
Plays: 387

Our Danish heroes deliver a rockabilly metal classic.

13. Draw The Line
Disciple
O’ God Save Us All
Released: 2012
Plays: 322

The lyrical content connects and the song is a great pop ditty from a band that borders on metal, rock and Christian gospel.

14. Tuesday’s Rain
Asphalt Ballet
Asphalt Ballet
Released: 1991
Plays: 223

A brilliant song that got lost in the seismic shift of 1991/92. You were either in or you were out. Asphalt Ballet was deemed to be out.

15. Strife
Trivium
Vengeance Falls
Released: 2013
Plays: 222

With a Judas Priest sing along intro, Trivium deliver with “Strife”. Go on Spotify and you will see that it is getting some serious traction.

16. Denial Waits
Ashes Divide
Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright
Released: 2008
Plays: 215

This song is unique and in a league of its own for production, craftsmanship and melodies. A classic that deserves more attention.

17. High Wire
Badlands
Badlands
Released: 1989
Plays: 210

If Jake E.Lee wants Red Dragon Cartel to reach a certain level of success and be ubiquitous than HE needs to write songs that are better than “High Wire”.

18. Hail To The King
Avenged Sevenfold
Hail To The King
Released: 2013
Plays: 209

What can I say, who doesn’t like a song that reminds them of AC/DC and “Thunderstruck”.

19. American Slang
The Gaslight Anthem
American Slang
Released: 2010
Plays: 200

The song that Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi wish they wrote.

20. Lick It Up
Kiss
Lick It Up
Released: 1983
Plays: 197

The song that saved Kiss’s career.

21. Rainbow in the Dark
Dio
Holy Diver
Released: 1983
Plays: 195

The Corey Taylor version from the Dio tribute album appears further down the list. An infectious song just tattoo’s itself on the skin and remains forever.

22. The Last Time
Badlands
Voodoo Highway
Released: 1991
Plays: 194

If Jake E.Lee wants Red Dragon Cartel to reach a certain level of success and be ubiquitous then HE needs to write songs that are better than “High Wire” and “The Last Time”.

23. Moth
Hellyeah
Blood For Blood
Released: 2014
Plays: 177

Clearly the best song on the new album.

24. Live In Love
Times Of Grace
The Hymn Of A Broken Man
Released: 2011
Plays: 167

This should be added to the set list of Killswitch Engage, it is that good.

25. Until It’s Gone
Linkin Park
The Hunting Party
Released: 2014
Plays: 167

It’s a return to the Linkin Park trademark sound.

26. Attack
Thirty Seconds to Mars
A Beautiful Lie
Released: 2005
Plays: 147

The song that got me into the band. A pure masterclass in electronics, industrial and fuzzed out rock.

27. End Of My Rope
Asphalt Ballet
Asphalt Ballet
Released: 1991
Plays: 139

From a band that deserved way more than what they got.

28. Hell Or Hallelujah
Kiss
Monster
Released: 2012
Plays: 135

The best song that Kiss or Paul Stanley has written since “Psycho Circus”. Mmm, “Live To Win” was also pretty good, however that was from Paul’s solo album of the same name.

29. Wolvish
The Kindred
Life In Lucidity
Released: 2014
Plays: 122

Progressive music the way it should be.

30. Watch You Bleed
Five Finger Death Punch
The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 1
Released: 2013
Plays: 121

Another chorus melody that is ubiquitous.

Other songs outside the Top 30 are as follows:

31. Rebellion
Linkin Park
The Hunting Party
Released: 2013
Plays: 103

It was like System Of A Down never went away. Having Daron Malakian on it doesn’t hurt at all.

32. Orestes
A Perfect Circle
Mer de Noms
Released: 2000
Plays: 103

This song was pivotal as my development as a songwriter. Much in the same way that Evergrey showed me that good music is still being created from a metal point of view, A Perfect Circle showed me the same from a progressive art rock point of view.

33. Wrong Side Of Heaven
Five Finger Death Punch
The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 1
Released: 2013
Plays: 93

The emotion grabs me. One of the best ballads that FFDP have created.

34. It’s Time
Imagine Dragons
Night Visions
Released: 2012
Plays: 84

The main vocal melody is the same as a melody for an instrumental song I wrote for my wedding. So it connected from the outset.

35. Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute
Coheed and Cambria
The Afterman: Ascension
Released: 2012
Plays: 83

What can I say, when the “Wasted Years” like intro starts off, I was hooked.

36. Line Of Fire
Vandenberg’s Moonkings
Vandenberg’s Moonkings
Released: 2014
Plays: 79

The mighty Dutchman is back and he sure knows how to turn it up to eleven.

37. Out Of Reach
Vandenberg’s Moonkings
Vandenberg’s Moonkings
Released: 2014
Plays: 73

An emotional roller coaster that straps you in and doesn’t let you go.

38. Rainbow In The Dark
Corey Taylor
Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life
Released: 2014
Plays: 73

Corey does a stellar job on the vocal.

39. When Truth Lies
Vanishing Point
Distant Is The Sun
Released: 2014
Plays: 69

One of the most consistent and best progressive metal bands to come out of Australia.

40. Coming Home
Avenged Sevenfold
Hail To The King
Released: 2013
Plays: 63

Synester Gates goes to town on this song. That whole minute plus lead break is beautiful.

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One Thing Cannot Be Disputed; Those Artists Who “Steal, Copy, Imitate” Are The Most Successful

So you are one of those artists that has a song or a few songs in the list of 4 million that haven’t been streamed yet on Spotify.

Then you hear a song that sounds very similar to your song.

Do you scream “theft” and lawyer up, preparing for a court case that you don’t have the funds for?
Do you just shrug your shoulders and move on?
Do you send the artist an email and ask him to acknowledge you as a songwriter to their song?
Do you use the fame of the current song to bring attention to your song?

I am sure in 90% of the cases, everyone will do the first part. Everyone will scream theft and then they will start a long and expensive court process. If the publisher controls the copyright, then this will happen 100% of the time.

Since the Copyright industries have grown into Corporate monoliths, it is suddenly uncool for an artist to use previous works as influences for further works. Even the audience of certain bands weigh in on the argument, calling certain bands rip offs and so forth.

However, one thing cannot be disputed, those artists who “steal” are the most successful. Those who “imitate” are the most successful. Those who “copy” are the most successful.

Led Zeppelin built a career on copying blues and folk standards.

Metallica built their career by copying their NWOBM influences and many others.

Oasis built a career on copying from “The Beatles”.

The Beatles built a career on copying from blues and rock standards.

Coldplay has built a career on the “progress is derivative” model.

Bon Jovi has built a career on re-writing their hits. Seriously, if you look at their catalogue, “Living On A Prayer” has been rewritten for every album that came after “Slippery When Wet.” New Jersey had “Born To Be My Baby”. Keep The Faith had the title track. Crush had “It’s My Life”.

In the rock and metal worlds let’s look at the songs burning up the rock charts.

Five Finger Death Punch – “Lift Me Up” has a vocal melody in the verses similar to “The Ultimate Sin” from Ozzy Osbourne. A lot of people call it theft, I call it influence. Imitation is a form of flattery. The song is getting the plays. People are paying attention and that is what artists want.

It is not about sales anymore, it is about listening. Are people listening to your music?

Avenged Sevenfold – the whole “Hail To The King” album copies from other artists who of course copied from other artists for their own music. Again, a lot of people call it theft, I call it influence. Imitation is a form of flattery.

Megadeth paid homage to Black Sabbath’s, “Children of the Grave” in their new song “Kingmaker”.

Alter Bridge also paid homage to Black Sabbath’s “Children Of The Grave” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Revelation Mother Earth” in the solo section of their song “Fortress”.

Continuing on with Alter Bridge, the song “The Uninvited” has a strong resemblance to Tool’s “Schism”. Do these odes to their influences make them unoriginal? No chance. The “Fortress” album is a great showpiece in technical riffage and great melodies.

Airbourne is making a career referencing AC/DC.

Motley Crue borrowed from Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” and Stevie Wright’s “Eve” for their song “Sex”.

Black Sabbath copied from their own past to create ’13’. “The End Of The Beginning” is basically the song “Black Sabbath” re-written again in 2012

Call it the Rick Rubin effect. He even convinced Metallica to rewrite their earlier albums for 2008’s “Death Magnetic.”

Dream Theater even borrowed from the Rick Rubin effect. They got some flack on “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”, as the songs followed a similar structure to songs from “Images and Words”. Dream Theater did do a great job at masking it, as the songs do come across as independent “stand on their own” compositions, however the hard core fans will pick up the references to their earlier material.

The next time a person is creating their little masterpiece and it sounds like something that is known before, don’t abandon it. Chances are it will connect with millions.

It is a shame that we have a generation of people that have grown up with a belief that music is created in a vacuum and they decide that legal threats is the best way forward. When Balance Sheets are affected, these industries will do anything to hold on or maintain their profits.

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2013 Metal and Rock Releases. Are they Derivative, Evolutionary, Original or Clones?

Artists need to think about their music as a product. In the end we (the fans) are all suckers for good products. Give us a good product and we will reciprocate.

So I am listening to the new Protest The Hero album, “Volition”. What a product it is! For the record, I was one of those fans that contributed to the Indiegogo campaign so you can say that my views are biased.

And what about this for a piece of PR? As soon as they were made aware of a few leaks hitting the internet in bad quality, Protest The Hero hastily arranged a download site for their Indiegogo contributors, sent an email to everyone about it with instructions on how to get their unique download pin and away we went, downloading the album.

The best way to fight piracy is to communicate with your fan base. They are your only concern. In relation to people downloading the album some will come to a show and some will download it and hate it.

So what was my immediate thought on the new album?

Original and evolutionary. This is Protest The Hero continuing on from what they have created in the past by adding a few more bells and whistles. The decision to go the fan funded route was just the beginning. During the recording process they lost a drummer and got an even better drummer in Chris Adler. They then got some friends to build some IT support to store all the data of the fans that contributed via Indiegogo.

So to sum up, Protest The Hero were able to record, mix, master and produce an album without having any record label support and without the need of a record label advance that they would have had to pay back AND they are still able to use the record labels to distribute the standard release worldwide.

Going back to the drumming, what a brilliant job from Chris Adler? It’s inspiring in the sense of “I Want To Break Stuff” inspiring. It just feels very metal like.

While Dream Theater and Korn get a lot of ink in the press, it is bands like Protest The Hero, Machine Head and Digital Summer that are stealing the thunder by reaching out to their fans, connecting and doing it the new way. They are cutting out everyone that gets in the way of them and their fans. It is a band to fan connection. It is a fan to band connection.

On a side note, when I listen to new music from bands, I normally place the music in the following categories;

1. Progress is derivative (to others this is the stolen or copied bucket).

2. Evolutionary (this is bands building on their past a little bit each time. It is the iterative approach)

3. Original (this is something that is so divergent or out there that it hasn’t been done before)

4. Maintenance (this is where the band delivers the same album over and over again)

So looking at my top 20 list of music so far from 2013, in which categories do they fall in.

Progress Is Derivative
Avenged Sevenfold with the “Hail To The King” album.

“Lift Me Up” from Five Finger Death Punch and “Kingmaker” from Megadeth also fit into this category.

Evolutionary

This list has quite a few releases in it.

Protest The Hero leads the way with “Volition”. It builds on all of their previous efforts.

“Vengeance Falls” from Trivium is also an evolutionary album, building on the shorter song structure from “In Waves” with better melodies and technical precise riffage.

The concept album from Black Veil Brides falls into the evolutionary bucket for me. While the overall musical themes of the album are still rooted in the previous releases, there was enough growth to show a band evolving.

Mutiny Within hit the evolutionary path with the release of “Synchronicity” which shows the band moving further away from the metalcore stigma that Roadrunner put on them.

30 Seconds To Mars went all world music on “Love Lust Faith Dreams” which is again an evolution of “This Is War.” My wife loves this album.

Audrey Horne released “Youngblood” which is a further evolution from their previous album, moving more into a blues rock/metal vibe.

The next two albums are debut albums and the reason why I saw them as evolutionary is that the evolve from the sounds of Korn and Genesis/Pink Floyd.

Brian Welch’s solo project, Love and Death released the excellent “Between Here and The Lost” which is an evolution of what Korn was doing prior to Head’s departure. If i had to pick between Korn’s new one and Love and Death, my vote goes to Love and Death.

Sound Of Contact released a sci-fi concept album with “Dimensionaut” that captures the eerie spirit of sci-fi soundtracks merged with Pink Floyd/Genesis and Marillion prog.

Original

I see Volbeat as an original band.

With “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” they merge country with their metal/rockabilly style. This album could have fitted in the evolutionary bucket as well, however in my opinion there is another of a blend of different music styles to class it as another original release.

I just finished reading a post on the Classic Rock Magazine website with Michael Poulsen, the lead singer from Volbeat. In that interview, he states that artists cant make any more money from record sales and that selling records doesn’t put food on the table anymore.

This is strange coming from a band that shifted 300,000 units in the U.S with their previous album. So if you do the math 300,000 at $10 a CD comes to $3MIL gross earnings on the CD. The current album is sitting at about 130,000 units in the U.S so far. So if Volbeat are not getting any money from the sales of recorded music, they should be speaking to their label about re-negotiating their deal.

TesseracT’s “Altered State” to me is a great piece of work. It isn’t just a bunch of songs put together and called an album. This is an album that needs to be listened from start to finish, with high quality headphones. There is so much happening that each listen is a new experience. It’s original to me.

Maintenance

All of these releases are good releases showcasing what the band does best. In a lot of cases, bands produce their greatest album by doing this and in some cases bands produce a few forgettable albums as well.

Coheed and Cambria – “The Afterman –  Descension”

Dream Theater – “Dream Theater”

Bullet For My Valentine – “Temper Temper”

Stone Sour – “House Of Gold And Bones Part 2”

Alter Bridge – “Fortress”

Killswitch Engage – “Disarm The Descent”

Five Finger Death Punch – “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1”

Pretty Maids – “Motherland”

Buckcherry – “Confessions”

An artist and their music can move up or down in these categories throughout their careers.

The lessons here are that bands don’t have to be ground breaking original to be successful. They just need a well thought out approach that is executed well.

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Life Is About Experience

I like going to the movies. It is an experience that I enjoyed growing up and it is an experience that I have passed on to my boys.

Today, we are watching “Planes”. So I purchase my tickets. Lucky for the budget, my wife had vouchers which made the tickets $8 each. Otherwise, the tickets at the Event Cinemas are $17 each.

So three tickets = $24.

Then comes the big rip. The boys wanted the “Planes pack” which involved “Planes” themed drink cups, along with a “Planes” theme popcorn box.

However, Event Cinemas, had no more “Planes” popcorn boxes and they couldn’t sell me the Planes Drink Cups with a generic pop corn box because “the generic popcorn box is a touch larger than the Planes themed popcorn box.”

Bullshit I said. Then I was told that it really has to do with stock counts. My boys finally agreed with what they want and off to the movie. Then I had to put up with kids way too young to even be there, that just kept on screaming and crying.

In relation to the movie, it is another great flick from the same “Cars” team.

What can I say, the movie just got me thinking about GRIT. In the movie, Dusty Crophopper is a crop duster who wants to be a racer. Everyone tells him that he is crazy, a dreamer and that he should be just a normal crop duster. In the end, the good old crop duster just persevered.

What I got out of the movie is that you can’t tell people what to do. Everyone has to find out for themselves. Life is about experience. Just like Bon Scott (RIP) said in “Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock N Roll)”, it’s a long ride that we all have to take. We have to find our own way. Every classic album that we have come to love, never came out as a debut album.

“Dr Feelgood” from Motley Crue came out in 1989. It is their best album. Mick Mars played a large part in the songwriting process. By 1989, he had been playing in bands for 17 years. Nikki Sixx, the other main songwriter had been playing in bands for 14 years. Life is about experience, and when that experience is translated into a song, it connects with other people who have lived that experience. Bob Rock paid his dues before he rocked the world with “Dr Feelgood” and the Black album from Metallica.

An album like “Appetite For Destruction” from Guns N Roses is an outlier, however if you read the stories about the album, the songs and the ideas of the songs were written years before.

Life is not always up. If you haven’t experienced disappointment, you haven’t taken any risks. Life is about losses, even more than victories. As Ivan Moody sings in “Lift Me Up”;

Lift me up above this
The flames and the ashes
Lift me up and help me to fly away

Lick your wounds, lift yourself back up and get back in the game. Learn from what happened. Don’t let it weigh you down. Quoting from Ivan Moody again; 

Best get out of my way
‘Cause there’s nothing to say
Is that all that you got?
Because I ain’t got all day

I won’t be broken
I won’t be tortured
I won’t be beaten down
I have the answer
I take the pressure
I turn it all around

Moody gets it. People see him as a winner, however he is like us. He makes mistakes, he falls down and he picks himself up again to fight another day.

Finally, in relation to the cinema experience, in this day and age, most people have decent sized TV’s with wi-fi connections and surround sound systems. It is an untapped market. Movie Studio’s should be releasing the movie to us, the same day it hit’s the cinemas. Once the movie is out, it is out. I would have been happy to pay $20 to watch it at home via a 24 hour stream. 

However the movie studios would still like to scream PIRACY instead of servicing it’s customers.

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Five Finger Death Punch Encompass Their Past and Improve On It

When Zoltan Bathory was putting together a new band in 2004, his vision was to bring metal back to the masses. The first foundation was established with  2007′s ‘The Way of the Fist’. 2009’s War Is The Answer and 2011’s American Capitalist both added to the foundation. The house that Death Punch built is still going full steam ahead with two new albums about to hit the streets in the next seven months.

Chris Kael the bassist of Five Finger Death Punch said the following on the new album in a recent interview;

“It’s basically all the things that Death Punch have learned over the last three albums, we put into this new album, so it’s basically the best of Death Punch all in one brand new release. The melodies are strong, Ivan’s still pissed as hell, the musicianship is at its best and we are really proud of it! “

Ivan Moody the vocalist had the following to say on the new album;

“This is everything Death Punch has ever done and it pushes the bar up. That’s the great part about doing two CDs—we got to experiment this time. We didn’t want to change our style—the machine isn’t broken. So instead, what we did is encompass what we’ve done already and advance on it.”

So what do the above statements say in relation to Five Finger Death Punch. Inspiration doesn’t take place in a vacuum. All day long you are experiencing. All year long you are experiencing. If people think you can write quality songs with no prior experience, they are delusional.  Our whole life is a database of information. Be ready to index it and then reference it. Use it to create something better. Learn from it and create something better.

Five Finger Death Punch are merging all of their experiences and influences into a new double album.  They have their signature voice and they are not changing it for anybody and they are still playing to their fans. In the end it is the fans that matter. They are the ones that give the band the chance to create and release albums. Not the record labels or the money that they throw at the band. The fans are king here and FFDP are playing to their core. As I have said many times before, don’t spread your wings too far. Focus on your core audience as that is your foundation.

Just listen to Lift Me Up. If you are a music fan, you will hear the vocal melody inspiration from the song The Ultimate Sin by Ozzy Osbourne, released in 1986. Ivan Moody experienced that song, he heard it, he allowed it to take him somewhere and he stored it. Fast forward 26 years and Ivan Moody is referencing it, twisting it and making it his own.

Some people will call this plagiarism, I call it being influenced. Allow yourself to be influenced.

I am pretty sure in fifty years’ time some publishing company that will end up owning the Ozzy Osbourne catalogue will end up suing the publishing company that owns the Five Finger Death Punch catalogue for plagiarism, much the same way the Men At Work songwriters were sued for a flute solo that they didn’t even write that referenced a long forgotten children’s classic.

This is real. This is happening in the Entertainment business. People are trolling for lawsuits. Companies have been formed for this purpose. While everyone tries to get legislation passed to protect the entertainment business models from 1980, they should be focusing on these trolling organisations that are stifling innovation and progress with B.S cases.

The point in all of this. Experiences are everything in music. It is the difference between making a connection with a fan or not making a connection. Sometimes that experience can be the influence of another song. It is okay to allow it. That is how music has evolved throughout the ages.

Five Finger Death Punch have paid their dues, they have lived and experienced life, they have been patient, they have mined their lives for content and they didn’t quit.

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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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