Music, My Stories

The Record Vault: Music As A Weapon

The Disturbed Record Vault series is almost at an end.

“Music as a Weapon” is a series of concert tours created by Disturbed. All up this tour did the rounds seven different times.

In 2001, the first edition featured Disturbed, Drowning Pool, Adema, Stereomud and Systematic.

In 2003, which is also the tour captured on the CD, it featured Disturbed, Chevelle, Taproot and Unloco.

In 2006, the tour featured Disturbed, Stone Sour, Flyleaf and Nonpoint.

In 2008, the tour came to Australia and New Zealand which I caught. It featured Disturbed, P.O.D., Alter Bridge, Redline and Behind Crimson Eyes.

In 2009, the tour featured a bigger line up, with Disturbed, Killswitch Engage, Lacuna Coil, Chimaira, Suicide Silence, Spineshank, Crooked X, Bury Your Dead, Born of Osiris and After the Burial.

In 2011, the line-up was Disturbed, Korn, Sevendust, In This Moment and StillWell. It’s also the first time the tour had co-headliners with Disturbed and Korn. The Australia and New Zealand edition had Disturbed, Trivium, As I Lay Dying, Forgiven Rival and These Four Walls.

But back to the “Music as a Weapon II”.

It was recorded at The Aragon in Chicago in 2003, and released in 2004.

The DVD also contains Disturbed’s video for their single “Liberate” and it was Disturbed’s last release with bass guitarist Steve Kmak.

On a different note, it was also Unloco’s final release before splitting up. But vocalist Joey Duenas did form a new band called “Anew Revolution” and released two excellent albums called “Rise” in 2008 and “iMerica” in 2010. But that band is also no more.

“Loading the Weapon” (instrumental)

An instrumental track from Disturbed that is not on any album. I love the mood that this track creates.

“Bound”

It then explodes into “Bound” from the “Believe” album.

“Myself”

This CD was my first exposure to Taproot. The live recording didn’t captivate me to listen any further.

“Dehumanized”

It was written and recorded for the “Believe” album, however it didn’t make the final cut. But it was played live during the “Believe” tour and released as a B side to the “Stricken” single from the “Ten Thousand Fists” album, alongside “Hell”.

And it was finally released on “The Lost Children” album.

“Forfeit”

My first exposure to Chevelle and I was instantly a fan. The live recording isn’t the best, but the Tool like grooves into a concise 4 minute song was of interest to me.

“Fade to Black”

From Disturbed.

A Metallica cover. And how good is the whole intro with the acoustic arpeggios and lead break.

“Empty”

My first exposure to Unloco.

“Sumtimes”

Taproot’s other song on the album. It’s like Staind and the track is more accessible than the previous one. But still not interested.

“Darkness”

From the “Believe” album. The piano and acoustic guitar is haunting. Draiman’s vocal delivery is excellent.

“Bruises”

From “Unloco”. This song was in “The Matrix” movies and various video games.

“Prayer”

From the “Believe” album, the fast staccato riffing in the Intro isn’t as powerful as the album version, but I do like the slight increase in tempo which makes the fast staccato riffing even faster.

And Draiman delivers vocally.

“The Red”

David Draiman makes an appearance with Chevelle. Its pitchy especially when Draiman joins in with the harmonies but that’s what performing live is all about.

“Poem”

Song number three from Taproot. The riff sounded interesting and a bit complex, so from this song, I would go on to check out more Taproot eventually.

“Stupify”

From “The Sickness” album, and Peter Loeffler from Chevelle and Joey Duenas from Unloco make an appearance.

In the end, it’s live with no studio overdubs and very different to the live albums I grew up with, (which were basically re-cut in a studio).

I also like how Disturbed put three unreleased songs on this album.

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Dokken – Return 2 The East Live 2016

I listened to this album when it came out in 2018 on Spotify. I felt like I needed to. And I have most of the Dokken albums except, “Broken Bones”, this one and “The Lost Tapes”.

Sebastian Bach on Twitter was asked a question recently, “which band does he believe squandered all their talents?” and he answered that with “Skid Row”, but goddamn, “Dokken” is probably the poster artist for “squandering talents”.

It’s Another Day (New Studio Track)

It sounds like a Lynch Mob track with Don Dokken singing.

Nostalgia and my memory of Dokken in the 80’s wants me to like this.

Kiss Of Death

It’s great to hear Pilson, Brown and Lynch rocking out again musically. The crowd at the ball park fakery is unsettling. Don’s voice is more bass than his earlier self. It’s not how I want to hear him, but I also understand that age is never kind to a voice.

When Lynch breaks loose in the lead break, you hear exactly why he’s a guitar hero. He plays it almost note for note as per the studio recording, however he adds in extra notes and phrases and they enhance the lead break.

And the song fades out.

WTF.

The Hunter

It’s up next but it doesn’t feel like it was the next song in the set list.

The riffs in this song are excellent and I’ve always liked the lead break in this.

And like “Kiss Of Death”, Lynch enhances it, evolves it, throwing in his years of experience of playing it live.

I’m not a fan of the overall vocal delivery or the backing vocals.

Unchain The Night

The songs don’t flow like a concert as there is dead silence between the songs, as one song fades out and the other begins.

Even though the live album was put together from different shows they could have made it flow like a concert experience from start to finish.

The riffage in this song is excellent. And the lead breaks again from Lynch shows an artist who is on top of his game and has been for a long time.

When Heaven Comes Down

This song doesn’t get the credit it deserves as a heavy metal cut, as the riffs are very NWOBHM.

Breakin’ The Chains

It’s sped up just a little bit and I like it. Vocally, everyone is delivering.

Listening to Lynch wail away with just Pilson and Brown providing the foundation is rawk and roll in the power trio sense.

Into The Fire

Another cut, that doesn’t get its dues as a metal cut. And Lynch decorates in between the riffs with little fills here and there.

The lead break also has some fast picked lines added to it.

Dream Warriors

How can you not like this song?

The way the drums introduce it, the spooky clean tone riff and then the head banging distorted riff.

Lynch’s tone in the clean tone verses is excellent.

Tooth And Nail

I always enjoy listening to the lead breaks on this song. Especially the finger tapped section.

And “Tooth And Nail” goes straight into “The Hunter” but its faded out.

Why they decided to sequence it like this and not follow the actual concert set list is mystifying.

Alone Again

Although it’s a ballad, it’s a favourite.

Lynch doesn’t miss a note in the lead break.

The best part of the song is the C to D to Em chord progression, while Don is singing “Alone Again” without you over and over again. It would have been great to hear em jam on that a little bit more.

It’s Not Love

It’s like an anabolic ZZ Top cut, a perfect song for the live show.

After the lead break, the band is jamming and Pilson steps on the fuzz to become the centre point.

There’s some more jamming, some crowd participation and they move back into the song.

In My Dreams

Lynch is tuned down to cater for Don’s voice and the riffs suddenly sound menacing.

I think it’s safe to say that the lead break in this song is iconic. You can only play it one way, and that’s the way it was recorded.

Heaven Sent (Acoustic Studio Bonus Track)

This song would always work as an acoustic cut, because its blues based and the blues started off on acoustic guitars.

Will The Sun Rise (Acoustic Studio Bonus Track)

A nice re-imagining of a stellar rock song.

Actually the two acoustic tracks are the real highlights here.

And for their return to the East, it would have been great if they did a different set list instead of paying homage to the original set list. But they didn’t.

If you want to hear Dokken at their best, then 1988’s “Beast from the East” is their piece d’resistance and one of my top 5 live albums, along with “Live After Death” from Iron Maiden, “Tribute” from Ozzy, “Alive III” from Kiss and “Live At Budokan” from Dream Theater.

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The Record Vault: Dio – Holy Diver Live

The rebuild of the Dio brand in the 2000’s involved a revolving cast of musicians.

Tracy G served as the guitarist from 1993 to 1999. He brought in different elements to the band and assisted it keeping the band going throughout the 90’s.

Craig Goldy came back in between 1999 and 2002 to help with a new album “Magica” and keep the live show going.

Doug Aldrich came in between 2002 and 2003 for the album “Killing The Dragon” and to keep the live show going. Warren DeMartini did a small stint in 2003 for the live show, with Craig Goldy to return for a new album called “Master Of The Moon” in 2004.

Doug Aldrich returned again as a touring musician for 2005.

Interest in Dio was high, as “Master Of The Moon” was highly praised and recommended. The 1983 “Holy Diver” was also reissued by Rock Candy during this time.

The band for the tour was Ronnie James Dio on vocals, Doug Aldrich on guitar, Scott Warren on keyboards, Rudy Sarzo on bass and Simon Wright on drums. The show was filmed at London’s Astoria Theatre on October 22, 2005 and released in 2006. The DVD booklet describes the concert as “one of the best hard rock gigs of all time”.

The stage show is not as extravagant as the 1983/84 stage shows. Wright is only 70cm off the ground, instead of the 3 metre drum riser that Vinny Appice had to contend with.

“Tarot Woman”

From Rainbow.

When I saw it as the opener, I was surprised, but goddamn, the song is full of energy and the riffs in the song are perfect foot stomping live riffs. Blackmore wouldn’t create anything else.

Aldrich’s tone is stellar and is faithful to Blackmore as much as possible with a bit of improvisation in the lead break.

“The Sign of The Southern Cross”

From Black Sabbath.

How heavy does this sound on this recording?

A perfect addition to the set list and the crowd responds.

“One Night in the City”

From “The Last In Line” album. I used to mix up “Caught In The Middle” and “One Night In The City” and intertwine the lyrics of the songs.

Then we get the whole “Holy Diver” album.

“Stand up and Shout”

The band is on fire. Sarzo and Wright own the foundations while Aldrich comes across like he’s been in the band forever. Dio is vocally good, singing in a lower range, so he doesn’t overstretch those vocal chords knowing that as you get older, they seem to disappear.

At 3.32 long, its fast and relentless.

“Holy Diver”

The feedback leads into the riff of “Holy Diver”. The tempo feels a bit slower compared to the previous live performances I’ve watched.

Dio’s voice is gravelly and perfect. Wright is a monster on the drums and Rudy Sarzo is still making love to his bass. Aldrich here remains as close to faithful to Campbell’s licks and leads. And there is no better singer at ad-libbing on the outro’s than Dio.

“Gypsy”

It’s got a groove riff that’s like a “let’s get this party started” riff. Aldrich here is given the freedom to do his own thing in the lead break. And the song morphs into a “Drum Solo” and you all know my views on these kind of lone solos in concerts.

“Caught in the Middle”

How good is the intro riff?

And I love that melodic rock chorus?

Just press play to hear Dio ad-libbing the outro.

“Don’t Talk to Strangers”

A great song to listen to and Dio is all gravelly on this one as well, giving it a different vibe. By now, Aldrich is sweating and his rock hard abs are on show for the predominantly male audience.

“Straight Through the Heart”

The groove riff to kick it off and the verse vocal melodies are my favourites. Aldrich also shines on the lead break while Wright and Sarzo, along with Warren on the keys and peculiar dance moves, provide a great foundation

“Invisible”

Once the clean tone arpeggios are done, a distorted riff kicks in and it sounds similar to “Shout At The Devil” from Motley Crue.

It’s amazing how many albums released around the same time (1983/1984) had similar songs.

“Rainbow in the Dark”

As soon as the Am chord comes crashing in and the synth lick starts playing, the crowd is involved and loving it.

In the ending part of the song, Dio is saying to his audience, “you are all my rainbow in the dark”.

“Shame on the Night”

The bluesy Pink Panther crime noir style riff always gets my foot tapping.

And just before the Outro of the song kicks in, there is a “Guitar Solo” moment, but done as part of a jam with the band which is a lot better than just the “lone ranger” style of solo. And you can hear how exotic Aldrich is, with his melodic minor soloing.

Then the “Escape From New York” influenced outro kicks in.

And for some strange reason, they reprise “Holy Diver” again, maybe as a way to musically say to the audience that this is the end of the “Holy Diver” album play through.

“Gates of Babylon”

From Rainbow and how can you not like it. It’s got an exotic riff, pentatonic riffs and a killer Dio vocal. Warren on the keys is excellent, Sarzo and Wright bring the power, while Aldrich is excellent especially in the lead break, which goes to show how complex Blackmore can get.

“Heaven and Hell”

The best Black Sabbath song and we get 11 minutes of it.

This time around, the crowd is chanting the opening riff with Dio and they are all in when Dio’s starts singing, as he waves his devil horns salute around.

Rudy Sarzo is one hell of a bassist. Very underrated.

The middle section lead break is faithful to Iommi.

And we get four minutes of the fast outro section with Aldrich wailing away.

I guess the world is full of kings and queens who blind our eyes and steal our dreams.

“Man on the Silver Mountain”

The first song of the encore is from the Rainbow days. And Aldrich nails the song riff, using the pick and his fingers to sort of chicken pick the intro riff.

If you listen closely, you will notice how Dave Sabo was influenced to write “Youth Gone Wild” and “Monkey Business” from this riff.

And I like how they go into the “Little Wing” influenced “Catch The Rainbow”.

“Long Live Rock and Roll”

And those Rainbow days are back again for 3 minutes and 30 seconds of energy and crowd sing-alongs. And if this was the end of the concert, it would have been a worthy end.

But there was one more track to come.

“We Rock”

The closer, which became a standard closer for Dio but with the fast metal riff, it could easily be an opener.

At almost 2 hours, the show is done and Dio leaves the building.

P.S. From start to finish the set list flows like a classic metal album, a one stop overview of Dio’s career and if you’re a fan, you will see a lot of songs missing that maybe should have been in, such was Dio’s quality output.

P.S.S. Doug Aldrich is faithful to the past material and the riffs/leads of Vivian Campbell, Richie Blackmore and Tony Iommi. In Whitesnake, he also did an admirable job in being faithful to the past and assisting David Coverdale to keep the brand going.

P.S.S.S. Dio at 63 is aged and his voice is not the same but if you went to the show you wouldn’t be disappointed. He still delivers a worthy performance befitting a man of his age.

P.S.S.S.S. I can’t believe how many great songs Dio wrote/co-wrote across three different bands and over three decades.

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2001 – Part 2.4: Live – V

To me it’s all just rock music in the end.

“V” is album number five, released in 2001. The band for the album is Ed Kowalczyk on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Chad Taylor on lead guitar, Patrick Dahlheimer on bass and Chad Gracey on drums. Like most of the albums, the majority of tracks are written by Ed Kowalczyk.

Wikipedia tells me that the collection of songs that became “V” was never intended to be released as an album. Guitarist Chad Taylor said, “The goal was to prepare songs for the next studio session. MCA got a hold of the material and pushed us to call it an album.” The songs were originally going to be released free to fans as a collection called “Ecstatic Fanatic”.

“Deep Enough”

One of their most creative songs. I was hooked from the intro.

It basically starts off with a music box piano riff, and then a Middle East music melody crashes in, which keeps repeating under a catchy verse vocal line which I’m pretty sure Karnivool was influenced by for the verse melody on “Themata”.

And the track was meant to be the album’s first single but the record company pulled rank and released “Simple Creed” instead which proved to be a big mistake.

Maybe they got scared from the lyrical nature of the song, about skirts rising and male appendage excitement rising with it.

“People Like You”

It feels like a Guns N Roses song from the “Use Your Illusion” album. In the Chorus, Ed even sounds like Axl.

In a dream I had you were standing all alone
With a dyin’ world below and a microphone
Singin’ hallelujah
I finally broke their mold

We take and cop so much crap as we go through life. People try to shape us to some version that they believe is true. Be unique, be free and don’t let others drag you down.

People like you! people like you! Motherfuckers like you! people like you!

It’s my favourite part of the song, when Ed sings the melody for the above lyrics and the guitar plays the octave guitar melody. And yes, he does say “motherfuckers”

“Transmit Your Love”

This track could have been an album cut on “Secret Samadhi”.

“Forever May Not Be Long Enough”

The piano riff to start the song is excellent.

It’s a co-write with Glen Ballard, who everyone wanted to work with after “Jagged Little Pill” blew up around the world in 1995.

In 1997, Aerosmith worked with him on the very underrated “Nine Lives” album and it’s the song “Taste Of India” which Ballard co-wrote with Steve Tyler and Joe Perry, that I’m reminded off when I hear this song, which was also played during the closing credits of “The Mummy Returns” movie.

“Call Me A Fool”

The Beatles influences come through on this.

“OK”

Musically, this is Live bringing the funk and soul.

Take away my TV
don’t want your fuckin’ therapy
it’s all decay decay decay
not today, not today

Kids listening to this song today, won’t even know why someone would want their TV taken away. For them, the TV is like how the radio was for others, background noise. Most of our attentions are fixated on our small black screens.

“Overcome”

It’s got a piano riff and violins to set the mood and a nice vocal melody, but the lyrics about “holy water in lungs” are way to pretentious.

“Hero of Love”

The Beatles are back again for the album closer. Listen to this song for the Chorus.

“Throwing Copper” at 8x Platinum in the U.S was never going to be topped. It was part of a cultural movement. And “Secret Samadhi” is a great album, but it only went 2x Platinum in the U.S.

No small feat, but a massive drop in commercial expectations. “The Distance To Here” is at Platinum for U.S sales. “V” has no certification, not even a Gold.

And their commercial trajectory was similar to the 80’s bands on albums four and five except Metallica who had their biggest success with album number 5.

But they still do good live business, when live shows used to happen.

Because of “Throwing Copper”.

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The Record Vault: Creed – Live (DVD)

It’s just called “Live”.

This concert was filmed on their “Full Circle” tour in 2009. Joining the usual 4 members, Scott Stapp, Mark Tremonti, Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall, is Eric Friedman on guitar.

Friedman has an interesting story.

Tremonti really got behind him around 2002/3 but his journey starts in 1996, when Kenny Wayne Shepherd pulled him onstage for a jam session. He got a Fender deal at 13 and a developmental record deal with Steve Vai’s label Favored Nations at 15. He appeared on the excellent Submersed album “In Due Time” (released in 2004) and as the rhythm guitarist with Creed on their reformation tour. He’s also in the Tremonti band.

Creed gets blasted for various reasons by critics and haters, but if you look at their output and the years those albums came out, you will notice that their releases acted like a bridge between eras.

“Human Clay” is that album that bridged the 80’s and early 90’s with the newer sounds from the late 90’s. After “Human Clay” we would get hundreds of derivative bands, in the same way we got hundreds of hard rock bands in the early 90’s.

I think of “Human Clay” in the same way I think of “Sad Wings Of Destiny” from Judas Priest which bridged the derivative blues rock from the early 70’s and space prog rock into a sound that I know as metal.

“Bullets”

It’s a great opener, very metal like. Check out the intro riff for aggression.

It’s also the second single from Creed’s third album, “Weathered”.

When I watched em in Sydney on the “Weathered” tour, they also opened with this one.

“Overcome”

“Please allow us to re-introduce ourselves. We have overcome”, Stapp said as he introduced the song.

From the new album, and it was like Creed never broke up. But it was a different Creed as well, as Tremonti delivers a killer lead break.

“My Own Prison”

“When we got back into the room after six years of not playing together, I asked Mark, “what do you want to play” and he said, “let’s go back to the beginning”” was how Stapp introduced this song.

And “My Own Prison” begins. Its slower tempo groove fits perfectly in the set list after two heavy openers.

“Say I”

One of my favourite tracks from Creed as it incorporates a few different feels and styles. If you like Tool, then the verses would remind you of Tool. If you like hard rock, then the pre-chorus will remind you of hard rock. If you like metal, then the intro and chorus riff will remind you of metal.

For me, this is a deep album cut and to see it in the set list, I wish I was in Houston watching the show.

And they jam the interlude groove, which I didn’t think they would do. But they did, making the concert experience different from just playing the song as per the recording.

“Never Die”

“This song is about innocence”, Stapp said in his introduction. I still reckon this is an awesome Pearl Jam song. Maybe more so for the vocal than the music, as the riffs from Tremonti incorporate so many different styles. And if you read his interviews, you will feel like you had the same upbringing as him and his discovery of music.

“Torn”

One of my favourite songs to jam to. Tremonti is a master at creating a great riff.

“A Thousand Faces”

This is another album cut, which defines the Creed sound and make sure you check out the Tremonti solo towards the end of the song.

“What If”

How good is the Chorus and that chromatic Metallica/Megadeth like interlude?

Then they jam. The solo section has Tremonti and Friedman trading licks and none of it is from the studio recording. It’s all part of the live show.

“Unforgiven”

If you are a fan of Creed because of “Higher” and “What’s This Life For” then you will be bored by this song. It’s basically speed metal and aggressive.

And Creed brought back the big Rock N Roll show. Check out the photo below.

They had a similar stage design with pyro and flames in 2003, which at the time was “anti trends” as most bands from 1994 and onwards operated in shadows.

“Are You Ready?”

The groove of the riff is head banging stuff.

“What’s This Life For”

One of my favourite songs from the debut. It’s a ballad, but those last two minutes of the song, are excellent.

“Faceless Man”

“This next song is very personal to me”, Stapp said as he introduced this.

Its cinematic and this part of their music always get overlooked. This track was hidden behind the hits, “Higher” and “With Arms Wide Open” but this track is the piece d’resistance on the album as it moves between rock and ballad and rock and ballad.

And I hated learning it, because I had to change my tuning to an open D5 tuning. But, I believe the open D5 tuning just makes you play with an eastern feel, so make sure you check out the main eastern sounding riff.

This song is Creed folks.

Put it on and crank it.

“With Arms Wide Open”

The anthem, with its “Dust In The Wind” inspired progression. And while it was written for the birth of a child, the song has taken on many different meanings. Tremonti’s finger picking gets a highlight moment, but that defining moment would come with “One Last Breath” a bit later on.

“My Sacrifice”

This song doesn’t get the respect it should. The riffs are stellar and the vocal melody is iconic.

“One”

From the debut album, another song with a killer riff that is fun to jam.

“One Last Breath”

On Songfacts, Tremonti mentioned that “One Last Breath” is one of his favourite riffs. On YouTube it’s got a massive amount of views. On Spotify, it’s at 135.3 million streams, even more than “Higher” which is sitting at 110.1 million streams or “My Sacrifice” at 127.3 million streams.

This song really highlights Tremonti’s clean fingerstyle.

In a Guitar World issue, Tremonti mentioned how he would have devoured all the Classical/Baroque stuff, but subliminally his style developed by devouring the acoustic pieces from metal and rock artists, like “Mechanical Resonance” and the style of Frank Hannon or the fingerstyle stuff from Metallica on their slower tempo songs and instrumentals like “Call Of Ktulu”.

“Higher”

The closer. If you don’t know it, then you haven’t been part of the mainstream.

By the end of it, the band is drenched in sweat, Stapp went shirtless and the thousands of fans in attendance would have gone away happy. It’s not always perfect, but hey, that’s why it’s called the live show. And no live show is the same as the last show. If we wanted perfect, we would listen to the studio albums.

P.S. I forgot that I had this DVD when I did the original Record Vault post on Creed.

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The Record Vault – Black Label Society – Extra

I used to call this band Black Wylde Society or Boozed Wylde Society or Boned Wylde Society or Brusied Wylde Society.


All because of this cover.

I love Zakk.

He can play, he solos and he writes killer riffs and songs.

He went from a scraggy pretty boy into a fierce Viking like warrior. He never pigeon holed himself, bringing his southern rock influences and piano, playing into the world of metal.

And the form of groove metal he plays with Black Label Society has influenced countless artists.

In this DVD, Robert Trujilo is on bass for the Detroit concert footage and Mike Inez is on bass for the Tokyo concert footage. Nick Catanese is on guitar and Craig Nunenmacher is on drums. Such a great band, it deserved to be captured on film.

The gig was that insane they ran out of alcohol at the bar.

And Zakk promotes it like a bikie gang, calling the Detroit Chapter to go insane and drink the place dry.

Well god damn it, they did.

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Number 13 – Metallica Monday

Filmed at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia on March 1, 2013 on the Soundwave Tour (which is basically a travelling festival around Australia during the summer, but it doesn’t exist anymore due to increased demands from artists to be paid upfront as the promoter didn’t always pay, a dwindling turnout and a promoter that uses Twitter like Trump).

The thing with this show is that Metallica are not really touring on an album as “Death Magnetic” is 5 years old by now. So it’s like a best off. And after watching this show, it’s a best off, based on songs which work really well in the live arena.

Hit the Lights

It’s become their standard opener in the YouTube live recordings I’ve seen. It’s simplicity is its energy.

Master of Puppets

There is no denying the power of that intro riff.

And the tempo of the song is increased a few more beats per minute. To put it into context, a 7 plus minute song at its normal tempo is reduced to a 6 plus minute song because of the tempo increase.

And as is the norm, the crowd singalong in the slow harmony lead is Maiden-esque from “Rock In Rio”.

The Four Horsemen

As the feedback from “Master Of Puppets” keeps ringing out on James’s guitar, and after asking “if Melbourne is ready” (we pronounce it Mel-Burn while James pronounces it as its spelt, Mel-Bourne), James launches into the opening riff.

And I forgot to mention how Lars is the master of the facials.

And finally there is a pause after the triple knockout of the first three songs.

Harvester of Sorrow

Lars cops a lot of crap for his drumming, but the dude can play and his drum parts are uniquely his.

This song is heavy, and the drum patterns from Lars definitely add to it. Simplicity at its finest.

And I’ve always said that if this song wasn’t written, then “Enter Sandman” wouldn’t have been written to become the beast it became.

The slower tempo, the open string arpeggio riff which grooves and the intro drumming pattern all combine to become the embryo of what “Enter Sandman” is. Check out the version on YouTube from Moscow on the Black tour.

Then there is a two minute “Guitar Doodle” where Kirk plays a few riffs and a lead guitar spotlight, but to me these kind of things are best left in the warm up room.

Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

But the “Guitar Doodle” was a side piece, a sleight of hand, while they set up James with the acoustic guitar for “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”.

And Lars owns the ending with the harmony guitars as he nails the double bass drumming.

Leper Messiah

There is a section in this song during the intro, when the bass just plays and the guitars play a heavily palm muted E5 power chord, staccato like.

And the title came from the late Mr Cliff Burton (RIP).

To reiterate, I’ve always said to all of the people who dissed the “Black” album for “selling out” to refer to songs like “Leper Messiah”, “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Escape”, “Jump In The Fire”, “Harvester of Sorrow”, “The Thing That Should Not Be” and “Trapped Under Ice”. They are all slower tempo songs, like the “Black” album songs.

My Friend of Misery

One of my favourite tracks on the “Black” album. My actual favourite is “Holier Than Thou”.

The bass riff is “iconic” and that slow breakdown section with that emotive lead is my favourite part of the song. It’s the norm now for the crowd to sing the harmony part but Melbourne (pronounced Mel-Burn) was the first to do it.

I gotta admit, this is the shit for an artist.

Hearing the Metallica family sing back their riffs and leads, is moving and emotional. If you don’t feel it, check for a pulse.

Sad But True

Its heavy and you can tell the band enjoys playing it.

Then a little “Bass Doodle” is another sleight of hand as the band gets ready for “Fade To Black”.

Fade to Black

For a song that generated so much controversy in the 80’s during that whole “kid commits suicide so let’s sue the heavy metal artist the kid likes” period, it’s become one of their biggest songs ever.

And that whole outro section is some of my favourite piece of music.

All Nightmare Long

I haven’t heard this song for almost a decade, and man, I’m asking myself “why”. It’s a good song. So many riffs in it and that Chorus is excellent.

Then I played “Death Magnetic” and I remembered why I stopped listening to it.

“The Loudness Wars”.

This is when bands compressed their mixes so much to get maximum volume in the master.

Ouch

One

I don’t think there will be a set list that will not have this song on it.

The clean tone intro with the leads, the “landmine” double kick section and that finger tapped outro along with the harmony guitars.

How can you not like it?

For Whom the Bell Tolls

The intro in this song is head banging stuff. A perfect song for the live arena and they played it a bit quicker.

Blackened

The backing tape of the backwards harmony guitars starts it off and it’s one of my favourite Metallica cuts and man, don’t they bring it.

It’s 7/4 staccato intro riff is thrash metal prog. Even in the Chorus it moves between 4/4 and 2/4. It leaves all other pretenders behind as it begins whipping the dance of the dead.

Then there is another “Guitar Doodle” which then sets up, “Nothing Else Matters”.

Nothing Else Matters

Even though Kirk plays the intro live, this is James’s song. It’s his spotlight moment and he takes the Dave Gilmour like lead with a guitar hero gusto.

And I remember when the “Black” album came out, I was reading some of the comments about this song from artists of the thrash genre and writers for magazines like Metal Mania.

Like it was a sell out or whatever.

Tell that to the 50,000 people in attendance who sang every word of it.

One thing about Metallica is that they never remained fixed.

There was always growth in their music.

If you want an example of a growth mindset in music then this band is it. IF you want an example of a fixed mindset in music then AC/DC is it.

There is no right or wrong. It all works.

Enter Sandman

So James lets his guitar feedback ring out, shows his Australian minted guitar picks to the camera which the audience sees on the big screen and they raise their voices in appreciation and “Enter Sandman” begins.

This song is a live powerhouse.

Creeping Death

The “Die By My Hand” chant evolved in the live arena.

This song was also mentioned in one of those “Satanic Panic” articles and documentaries I read in a newspaper written by clueless journalist or saw on TV like 60 minutes.

I remember a lawyer saying, “what kind of band tells their audience to “die” in a concert”.

It’s unbelievable shit to see and hear how desperate people became to blame someone.

Damage, Inc.

It’s not my favourite song but I love the title for its uniqueness.

Seek & Destroy

And the closer, sending the Metallica family on their way to seek and destroy.

You can take it literally or you can use it as growth, to seek new knowledge, gain new skills and destroy your old self as you create a new self, stronger and better.

Metallica, once again is doing something different and not fixed during this COVID break.

Breaking out the archives for free.

Most artists would release these as DVD releases. For a fee. But not Metallica. There is a reason why they are on top.

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

Release Day Friday

A few surprises in the Release Day playlist from Spotify.

The 2020 Remix of “Still Of The Night” kicks it all off. And for those who don’t know who Chis Collier is, he is the one, doing the mixing. Recently he’s worked a lot of with George Lynch on his KXM, Ultraphonix, Lynch Mob and Sweet Lynch projects. And he’s been in the biz for a long time, especially as a mixer.

Even though I have overdosed on “Still Of The Night”, I can’t skip it. My fingers don’t allow me to. And the solo from Sykes has an effect added which wasn’t needed.

“Step Into The Light” from Dokken is next. I didn’t even know that Dokken had any new music in the works. Or what version of Dokken it is. So I had to Google for more information. And it’s not really new music at all, but old music that’s never been heard and before the band Dokken got a record deal. I actually have an EP of this version of the band called “Back In The Streets”.

Anyway, these songs that Don Dokken wrote in the early days will be released on an album called “The Lost Songs : 1978-1981”. And the song is forgettable but if you are fan and you want a prequel of what Don Dokken was like before Dokken, then it will be a good start. I already have the Lynch early days on a CD. The songs that Lynch and Brown wrote in The Boyz are the songs that Don Dokken used to get himself signed, which started the resentment between Lynch and himself.

There are live songs from Def Leppard, Rush, Black Crowes and Pretty Maids with “We Belong”, “A Passage To Bangkok”, “Sister Luck” and “Long Way To Go”.

Then there are some Warner Music Archives releases, so I got White Lion, Winger and Saigon Kick show up in the list, with “Wait – Extended Remix”, “All I Ever Wanted” and “Dear Prudence”. The White Lion track is over 6 minutes long and Reb Beach with Winger is always enjoyable to listen to, like the section before the solo and then his guitar solo.

And one of my favourite guitarists these last five years is Andy James, and his latest track “Dual” is on the playlist. He can play, he can shred and the difference between him and other guitarists/shredders is the song. Andy James writes songs with killer riffs, and then the solos he plays are melodic, even sing-a-like in the verse/chorus structure of instrumental music. And when it’s time to shred in the solo section, he delivers.

Blacktop Mojo have been pretty consistent with their songs, but “Leave It Alone” didn’t resonate today.

Vandenberg drops “Let It Rain” as the album also drops today, so this will take up my listening today, as I’ve enjoyed all the pre-release songs so far.

Trapt dropped another song, a ballad called “Far Enough Away”.

Aldo Nova dropped a groovy and bluesy tune which I like called “When All Is Said And Done”.

The Gathering Of Kings had another song called “Revelation” appear in the playlist, and I saw that their new album had dropped as well. So this would take some of my time to sink my teeth into.

The piece d’resistance is “Death Diviner” from Soilwork, because on this song Bjorn Strid brings his clean tone hard rock voice that he uses for The Night Flight Orchestra to the metal music of Soilwork. Previous albums and songs had him moving between death and melodic vocals, but on this song, he’s all melodic.

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Music

Metallica: Live in Nickelsdorf, Austria, – June 10, 2012

Here is the YouTube link.

I was doing some boring things, which involved data entry of receipts for tax returns and I needed some music. So I went to YouTube and I came across a few of the recent live concerts Metallica have released while we have been in isolation.

This one came out a week ago and they play the full “Black” Album (for the 20th Anniversary tour), but a year later, which Lars makes mention in his introduction.

Some of the songs are pedal to the metal aggression and energy, some songs have tempo changes in between courtesy of Lars, some songs like “Hell And Back” from the “Beyond Magnetic” EP sound great, and James getting the crowd to sing harmonies during the “My Friend Of Misery” solo is brilliant.

Hearing the whole “Black” album played from last song to first is brilliant, and I forgot how powerful some songs are, like “Holier Than Thou”. For that song, the guys brought it. Damn did they bring it.

Let’s unpack the set list.

“Hit the Lights” sounded fresh even though at this point in time in 2012 it’s 30 years old. “Master of Puppets” never gets old and neither does “The Four Horsemen”.

Now “For Whom The Bell Tolls” should be a powerful statement, but it was patchy with the tempo swinging around a few times, and Kirk doing ad-libs in that awesome intro solo.

“Hell and Back” was a surprise at how good it sounded live. Then they started with the “Black” album and “The Struggle Within” showed why they never really played it live as it was a struggle.

“My Friend of Misery” was great with James getting the crowd to sing harmonies. “The God That Failed” is also one of my favourite cuts because of the groove and it didn’t disappoint. The intro to “Of Wolf & Man” is perfect for the live arena.

“Nothing Else Matters” is a staple but not their best performance of it on this gig.

The next three cuts all rocked, “Through the Never”, “Don’t Tread On Me” and “Wherever I May Roam”.

“The Unforgiven” has one of Kirk’s best solos. “Holier Than Thou” had so much energy and “Sad But True” is so heavy and a great live song.

“Enter Sandman” was played with the tempo a bit quicker and man, it worked so good. I was tapping my foot and nodding my head the whole time.

Now if you want to hear how Death Metal came to be a thing, check out “Fight Fire With Fire”. While the recorded version still had a young James singing, the voice that James brings out live is guttural.

“One” is a great live song, especially when that double kick section begins and it’s all just a little bit faster.

And “Seek & Destroy” closes it out, so all the fans can cruise the city looking for a fight.

And the thing is, Metallica travels with a professional camera crew and the footage they film is quality. While bands release these kind of concerts on DVD, Metallica bootleg their own concerts and release selections on YouTube or if you subscribe to their “own” streaming service you get all of these concerts, and albums and demos and what not.

So there is a reason why Metallica is staying on top. They are innovating on their own.

How many other big artists have their own streaming service?

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

Maiden Live

On Friday, 6 May, 2016, I took my wife and three boys aged 10,9 and 4 to watch Iron Maiden on “The Book Of Souls World Tour” at the Qudos Bank Arena, formerly known as the Allphones Arena, formerly known as the Acer Arena in Homebush, Sydney.

The last time I saw Maiden was on the “Somewhere Back In Time Tour”. I went to both shows then, on February 9 and 10, 2008. The venue was then known as the Acer Arena and there wasn’t a spare spot on the floor or in the stands. But this time I saw red seats and spaces on the floor. Is it a sign of fading popularity?

I don’t think so, because prior to the show, Maiden got a “Gold” Certification for recorded music sales in Australia for “The Book Of Souls” album released in 2015.

As in 2008, the lights went out as soon as “Doctor Doctor” started playing from UFO on the backing intro music. And then it started with the little movie of the Maiden plane stuck in vines in a jungle.

“If Eternity Should Fail” and “Speed of Light” was the 1-2 punch from the “The Book of Souls” album to kick off the album.

When you have a legacy like Maiden’s, it’s a double-edged sword to spend the first 15 minutes of the concert playing tracks from the new album. There was some debate afterwards if this was a good thing or a bad thing especially when the audience was made up of people like me, dads and mums bringing their children to watch Maiden for the first time and children who were raised on the classic Maiden songs.

Anyway, the Dickinson penned “If Eternity Should Fail” is a great opener, and when the band kicks in with the intro lead is game on.

Waiting in line for the ending of time
If eternity should fail

It’s got a great sing a long chorus and that’s why it works live. By the time the “Ace Of Spades” influenced interlude kicks in, the floor is swaying with bodies. This song worked well live.

But the Smith/Dickinson composition, “Speed Of Light”, like “From Here To Eternity” and “Holy Smoke” before it, just don’t work as live songs. Boring and pedestrian.

“Children of the Damned”
Maiden takes us back to 1982 and we are all “Children of The Damned” again.

It’s the first of three songs from “The Number of the Beast” album and the first time, I am hearing this song live, as it wasn’t played on the 2008 “Somewhere Back In Time” tour. “Live After Death” was my first exposure to Maiden, and this song proved to be a favourite.

You’re Children of The Damned
Your back’s against the wall

Steve Harris wrote it about a book/movie, but those two lines above speak to me.

Because back in the Eighties, metal heads and rock heads got discriminated against. Since everyone that listened to metal and hard rock got classed as “devil worshippers” you can say that we were all damned and our backs were against the wall, trying to prove to others that we matter and have something better to offer this world.

Great live track and the quicker live tempo suited the song.

“Tears of a Clown” and “The Red And The Black” came next.

So Maiden went back to the new album. While I understand the importance of the song to Maiden and how it’s about comedian Robin Williams, “Tears of A Clown” just didn’t work as a live song. It’s best kept as a studio track.

Which brings me to the Steve Harris penned “The Red and the Black”. When I first heard this song on the album, I loved certain sections of it and after a few listens could honestly say it could do with some edits. Hearing the song, live, I can honestly say they should have been creative and exercised some control and edited the song down to 6 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

There is a harmony lead section of the song towards the end of the song that is excellent, however I think Maiden missed big time with these songs. Even the chants felt forced. “Fear Of The Dark” has the chants because the people/fans decided to chant along with the leads, not because Maiden wrote a song that has chants in it.

By now my four-year old fell asleep, which was a shame as his favourite song is “The Trooper” and that came up next. Actually I was surprised he fell asleep with the loud volumes.

“The Trooper”
So Maiden take us back to 1983 and the “Piece of Mind” album and play a speed metal version of the song. It was funny because in the car on the way up to the show my kids were singing the song super fast as well .

Actually, the song was that fast, that even Bruce couldn’t get all the words out in time.

Did it matter?

Not at all. My ten-year old and nine-year old lapped it up.

You’ll take my life but I’ll take yours too
You’ll fire your musket but I’ll run you through
So when you’re waiting for the next attack
You’d better stand there’s no turning back.

The stop of the music and the start of the vocal line is done brilliantly. It will remain a classic forever because of it.

“Powerslave”
The Dickinson penned title track from their 1984 album was up next and it’s one of my favourites.

When I was living this lie – Fear was my Game
People would worship and fall –
Drop to their knees.

Has our world progressed since the time of the Pharaohs?

Instead of whips and chains to work, we have wages and loans to keep us as slaves.

Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave
I don’t wanna die, I’m a God,
Why can’t I live on?
When the Life Giver dies,
All around is laid waste,
And in my last hour,
I’m a Slave to the Power of Death.

Then we are back to two more songs from “The Book Of Souls”. This time “Death or Glory” is up and to be honest it is another miss. But, “The Book of Souls” written by Gers and Harris deserves to be in the Maiden set forever and a day. It’s epic and grandiose and on par with “Powerslave”.

By know the clichéd stage antics of Janick Gers was bordering on “Dark Helmet” ludicrous proportions. Foot on the monitors like he’s doing ballet, swinging the guitar around his neck like anyone in 2016 cares about it, the Richie Blackmore splits and grabbing the guitar so the pick-up side faces the floor proved to be silly and funny at the same time.

But there was no escaping the power of  “Book Of Souls”.

A life that’s full of all the wealth and riches
Can never last an eternity

Sort of sounds like our current world. According to certain media reports we are living in a gold age of prosperity. I am sure that people in third world countries would disagree, but as the lyric states, what we have currently cannot last forever. But what is guaranteed is that the people in power and wealth would pay tooth and nail to ensure it does last forever.

The set is rounded off by “Hallowed Be Thy Name” from “The Number of the Beast”, “Fear of the Dark” from the album of the same name released in 1982 and “Iron Maiden” from the debut Maiden album released in 1980.

Now, “Hallowed Be They Name” to me, is a classic and man, the audience resonated with it.

Reflecting on my past life and it doesn’t have much time

When the end is near, all you can do is go back through your memories one last time because once it ends, those memories will be forever lost. It’s pretty sad when you think of the knowledge we could have if memories in our brains can somehow be preserved.

When the priest comes to read me the last rites
I take a look through the bars at the last sights
Of a world that has gone very wrong for me

In order to write “The Trooper”, Maiden had to write “Hallowed Be Thy Name” because both songs have very similar elements, especially the stop start sections of the verses, where the music stops and the vocals start.

The Harris penned “Fear Of The Dark” has achieved a new sense of immortality courtesy of the “Rock In Rio” performance on the “Brave New World” tour. Every section in the song is more or less a sing/chant along.

Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have constant fear that something’s always near

I always saw “Fear Of The Dark” as an analogy for fear of the future, the unknown and how the world is always throwing good and bad times into our lives. And to be quite honest it’s pretty scary sometimes.

But “Iron Maiden” to me is a big letdown. I understand its historical importance but in the end it’s a really average song.

The encore kicked off with “The Number of the Beast”, then “Blood Brothers” from the “Brave New World” album released in 2000 and the set finished off with “Wasted Years” from the “Somewhere in Time” album released in 1986.

I’m coming back I will return
And I’ll possess your body and I’ll make you burn

Metal music was known as “The Beast” in the 80’s, because it possessed our bodies and minds. And when the establishments thought it was dead and buried, a bigger beast in Grunge, Industrial, Metalcore, NuMetal, Death Metal, Black Metal all came forth, until Metal music returned once again.

Bruce made special mention that the audience and Iron Maiden are “Blood Brothers” and how in the audience he is seeing parents with children and so forth. At this time I got a lot of high fives from people around me, that I had the balls to bring my children to the show. So without any surprises, the Steve Harris penned “Blood Brothers” was up.

Maybe all the things that you know that are precious to you
Could be swept away by fate’s own hand

Live each day to the best that it can be lived, because the world doesn’t care about the houses, cars, iPads and record collections when it comes calling for you.

Finally the big one and the favourite of my eldest son, the Adrian Smith penned “Wasted Years”. I always associated this song as another “Turn The Page”, “Home Sweet Home” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. And it’s also a love song.

The guitar intro is legendary and Adrian Smith as a songwriter has contributed to a lot of “classics” from the Maiden 80’s era. I would call him the unsung hero of Iron Maiden.

I close my eyes, and think of home
Another city goes by in the night
Ain’t it funny how it is, you never miss it ’til it’s gone away
And my heart is lying there and will be ’til my dying day

So Maiden came to Australia. For some reason I feel that it was for the last time. I hope not.

My eldest son, he loved the show and enjoyed it along with me. My middle son, got super tired half way and just kept on yawning. My youngest son fell asleep at the concert by “Tears Of A Clown”. My wife held him the whole time.

What kind of father buys concert tickets for a Friday night show, which is the end of a school week and the start of a sport filled week playing football. We got home at 1am and by 7am we all got up for the morning Saturday games.

Metal all the way.

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