Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Score Card Checkpoint V3.0

A lot can happen in music and to bands in three years.

Vanishing Point
Great melodic metal band from Melbourne, Australia. 2014 gave us the “Distant Is The Sun” album. The excellent title track, “When Truth Lies” and “Let The River Run” still get listens today. I was on their Facebook page a few days ago and a new album is in the works, plus a few of their older titles are getting re-issues via AFM Records.

Harem Scarem
In 2013, they re-recorded their 1993 album “Mood Swings” and called it “Mood Swings II” for Frontier Records, which is all part of their President Serafino’s idea to amass a large and profitable catalogue of hard melodic rock music, so he can negotiate better streaming rates and keep all the profits for himself. In 2014, they released “Thirteen” also on Frontiers.

Rev Theory
I got into this band with their 2008 release “Light It Up” and the songs “Hell Yeah”, “Broken Bones”, “Wanted Man”, “Ten Years” and “Far From Over”. Then came the “Justice” album and it didn’t connect with me, so I sort of lost them afterwards. Then came a couple of hit and miss EP’s and suddenly we have a new album in “The Revelation”. It’s just how it is these days. We fall in and out of liking artists who are also competing with the history of music, plus their old hits for our attention. And for me, the 2008 album is what stands the test of time and because of that release I am always interested to see what the band does next.

Adrenaline Mob
2012 gave us “Omerta”. 2013 gave us “Coverta” and 2014 gave us “Men Of Honour”, while 2015 gave us “Dearly Departed”. In between, Mike Portnoy left and AJ Pero came in. They went on tour and AJ Pero died. Bassist, John Moyer also left and other bassists came in. But the mainstays are still there and still writing, with a new album expected to drop in 2017.

Lizzard
In 2013, I was giving their “Out Of Reach” album released in 2012, a lot of attention. I don’t know how I came across it or who gave it to me. It’s much different to when I used to purchase albums. Anyway, I was wondering what happened to them a few weeks ago, so I searched them up on Spotify and found they released an album called “Majestic” in 2014 and prior to “Out Of Reach”, there was a debut album called “Venus” in 2011.

Their take on Tool like progressive grooves in a shortened pop rock way is unique enough to convert me as a fan. But no one else knows them.

Thirty Seconds To Mars
In 2013, they released “Love Lust Faith Dreams” and went on a world tour to support it. In the process Jared Leto won a few awards for his acting and on the back of the publicity, the band grew a little bit more. With streaming services, they have songs pushing above 50 million streams and some songs pushing close to a 100 million streams.

Audrey Horne
They are one of the original classic rock/metal supergroups created by extreme metallers. This one hails from Norway. It’s their self –titled album, released in 2010 that hooked me in and the song “Sail Away”. In 2013, they released “Youngblood” and 2014 gave us “Pure Heavy”. Since then I haven’t seen or heard any news about them, apart from a few live shows here and there in Norway.

Stryper
2013 gave us re-recorded versions of 80’s Stryper in “Second Coming” and towards the end of the year “No More Hell To Pay” came out. In 2015, “Fallen” was released. Lead vocalist and main songwriter Michael Sweet was also busy with “I’m Not Your Suicide” in 2014 and “One Sided War” in 2016. Sweet and Lynch also released “Only To Rise” in 2015.

All I can say is that Michael Sweet understands what the music business is about in 2016. In 3 years, he was involved in six new music releases and in all of them he was the main songwriter. Remember in the early 80’s, bands released new product each year. Then MTV blew up and suddenly bands became global superstars and releases started to be every two years and then three years and for some, every four years.

Nonpoint
They released their self-titled album in 2012, which was more of a rock record than a metal record. “The Return” came out in 2014 and “The Poison Red” in 2016. In 2017, they will be touring with Alter Bridge and will also celebrate 20 years since their formation in Florida.

Breaking Benjamin
In 2010, all hell broke loose in the Breaking Benjamin camp, when their label made an agreement with other members to release a greatest hits package while vocalist/guitarist and main songwriter Benjamin Burnely was on hiatus trying to find a diagnosis to his health condition. This infuriated Burnley who fired the members and sued everyone in sight.

The recording contact was part of the dispute and the whole world got to see a real recording contract and the band agreement. The case went to arbitration and three years later, it looks like proceedings went in favour of Benjamin Burnely.

By the middle of 2014 Breaking Benjamin was a new band with new members, carefully selected from other modern rock bands. In 2015, “Dark Before Dawn” came out and it went straight to number 1 and it blew away major label releases from other artists in the pop genre who had bigger marketing budgets and PR campaigns.

On Spotify the band has 2,084,806 monthly listeners and lead single, “Failure” is at 20,721,981 streams and “Angels Fall” is at 19,926,003 streams. Meanwhile songs from earlier albums like “The Diary Of Jane” are at 76,513,373 streams (and it’s a song on a Spotify playlist called “Rock the 2000’s, which has 657,616 followers). The future for Breaking Benjamin is bright and the album is still selling and they are still on tour supporting it.

Sound Of Contact
The excellent concept album “Dimensionaut” came out in 2013 almost by pure accident amongst the members writing and performing on solo albums and other projects. For fans of Phil Collins, his son, Simon fronts the band. Then from there, in 2014, Simon was arrested on suspicion of supplying drugs and questioned over possession of drugs. He was released on bail and then all charges were dropped against him, which leaves him free to concentrate on music. And in 2016, Sound of Contact is recording a new album, plus all of the members are recording solo albums.

Kingdom Come
In 2013, Lenny Wolf released the “Outliers” album under the Kingdom Come name. By 2016, Kingdom Come played shows with Danny Stag and Johnny B Frank back in the fold and then Lenny retired the band.

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

Lizzard

They have a sound and a style. Their debut album “Out Of Reach” is an experience in itself, merging alternative rock and metal music on a background of progressive and experimental grooves.

And they are a three piece band from France, formed in 2006 that no one even knows about. The vocalist in the band is Mathieu Ricou. The bass player is William Knox and the drummer is Katy Elwell.

Who?

They sure don’t sound like a rock star names like Synester Gates or Zacky Vengeance.

Back when the Record Labels controlled who got signed and who got heard, the French metal scene was more or less ignored. For a band/artist to come out of anY European country that band/artist had to more or less dominate the country. And Europe always has a habit of turning out intriguing acts who only occasionally managed to gain widespread attention.

The Tool influence is very prominent but there are overtones of at least four other bands.

Chevelle, Earshot, 10 Years and Karnivool.

“Out Of Reach” is a perfect example of their style that merges Tool like grooves with Dream Theater like progressive grooves. All of it is underpinned by the melodic vocals of Ricou, who shifts between a Maynard James Keened to an Aaron Lewis to an Chino Moreno.

My personal favourite is “Loose Ends”. The bass groove from William Knox is hypnotic and the drum patterns from Katy Elwell just enhance the groove. Mathieu Ricou knows how to enhance the song with his vocals, his melodies, his phrasing and his guitar lines. “A Perfect Circle” also comes to mind. I still call it hard rock. At 3.05 the trance takes effect with a solid Tool like groove. Then at the 4 minute it goes into a Pink Floyd style atmospheric outro full of dissonant volume swells.

“Twisted Machine” is a stand out. It looks like all three members lived and breathed, “Aenima” and “Lateralus” from Tool while writing this album. From 3.40 the song goes into a wicked groove, ala “Schism”. I actually cranked “Schism” after and thematically the two songs flow in together. And that whole section from about 3.30 in “Schism” got me thinking of “Ragnarok” from Periphery and off I went to digest that song.

At 44 minutes “Out Of Reach” is a compact album, which is how it should be.

Since Tool is on hiatus, Earshot are more or less no more, Chevelle are trying out new musical horizons and Deftones are here and there when they want to me, Lizzard is a perfect replacement to fill the gap. They haven’t just filled the gap, they have made it their own.

They have a fan funding campaign up for their new album on Ulule. It’s in French and the Google translator is working spasmodically. 61 contributors so far and they have achieved 89% of their target. The target is 3,500 Euros.

Did I contribute?

No.

Fan funding to me is about delivering something unique to a fan. The perks are just not unique enough and $15Euro for a CD (which equates to about $22 Australian) is above what I would pay for a CD. So it will be a Spotify album.

If an album sold 61 CD’s it would be seen as a dud.

Fan Funding a CD and offering fans what the old legacy gatekeepers offered fans, is not embracing the new. It is using new and exiting platforms to prop up old business models.

People want access to the music and they will contribute for a perk if they believe they are getting value for their money. Make it worth their while, otherwise it is leaving money on the table.

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Music

Albums From 2012 That Need To Be Heard

The Night Flight Orchestra
Internal Affairs

If you never experienced the Seventies, then this album from a super group of melodic death metal bands recaptures it all. From the “Immigrant Song/Achilles Last Stand” references in “Siberian Queen” to the “I Was Made For Loving You” references in “West Ruth Avenue” or the “Play That Funky Music/ Stevie Wonder’s Superstititious in “Internal Affairs”.

It captures it all and more.

Fen
Of Losing Interest

I didn’t know what to expect hearing this. It’s like Rush on Thrash Metal. Then its Rush on Hard Rock. Then its Rush meets Tool. Then it’s Rush on Groove Metal. Then it’s a cross between Rush and Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam. Being from Canada, the Rush influences are real strong.

Progressive music doesn’t have to be all time changes and technical playing ability. It can be Fen. Just doing something that blends so many different styles together and making it sound infectious.

Check out “Riddled”, it starts off with a thrash metal riff, then it goes into a verse that is Tool like merged with Kansas.

Adrenaline Mob
Omerta

It is balls to the wall metal classic in the style of Accept, Scorpions, Dio merged with the metal stylings of Disturbed and Godsmack. “Undaunted”, “All On The Line”, “Angel Sky”, “Indifferent” and “Hit The Wall” are worthy additions to any metal bands setlist.

The cover of Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” is also a fitting metal tribute to a pop number one hit.

So put aside all of your views on the members that make up the band and from what bands they come from and embrace a great balls to the wall metal project.

Digital Summer
Breaking Point

DIY band from Phonenix, Arizona, getting stronger with each release. “Breaking Point” was a Kickstarter funded project and it didn’t disappoint. The lead single “Forget You” has racked up 1,027,533 views on YouTube. They are great numbers for an independent band, that also manage themselves, record and release their own music and hold down day jobs.

If you like modern rock, then you will like this band.

Richie Sambora
Aftermath Of The Lowdown

The good old Richie Sambora released a great modern rock album that didn’t get the recognition it deserved because at that point in time he was still in Bon Jovi and Bon Jovi (the band) needed him to start the promotional interviews for the “What About Now” album.

Check out “Seven Years Gone”, “Nowadays”, “Every Road Leads Home To You”. Hell, the whole album is good. Give it your time.

Lizzard
Out Of Reach

This band is definitely under the radar for what they do. Think of Earshot meets Tool meets 10 Years meets modern rock. Vocalist, Mathieu Ricou has a voice that crosses between Chad Kroeger, Aaron Lews and Maynard James Keenan.

There is a feel of Progressive Metal, TOOL, Hard Rock, Trance & hypnotic music, DEFTONES, YES and PINK FLOYD. It’s a potent mix.

Vaudeville
Vendetta

Vaudeville is one band that deserves more recognition for what they do. They merge the styles of Muse and Radiohead with Hard Rock. It sounds beautiful and original.

Check out the song “Restless Souls”.

Will you stand up
And fight against their wrath
Or will you run
Until there’s nothing left

Hell Or Highwater
Begin Again

The new band from Atreyu drummer Brandon Saller. Hell or Highwater finds Saller stepping away from his drum kit and taking the mic to be the band’s lead vocalist. It’s hard rock people and it rocks real good and it doesn’t sound generic.

Burnside
Evolution

One of many great bands from Australia. It’s modern rock done really well. Check out “Remember When”, “Lost The Will”, “The Last Time” and “What You’ve Become”.

One Less Reason
A Blueprint For Writhing

This EP was my first introduction to One Less Reason. I knew nothing about them and when I heard “All Beauty Fades”, I was left speechless when the rest of the music and melody kicked in. And they are another DIY band.

It’s a six song EP and there is no filler. A very smart decision to release the best.

Corroded
State Of Disgrace

Corroded have a decent following in their own country of Sweden.

They are a skillful band that create groove based hard rock. Stand out songs are “Let them Hate As Long As They Fear”, “I Will Not”, and “Believe In Me”.

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The State Of Heavy Metal

There it is again. Heavy metal. It doesn’t matter how many times the labels tried to kill it, mainstream it or commercialize it, Heavy Metal has remained consistent from when it began. Whenever pop music becomes pretentious, heavy metal rises up as an alternative answer.

What does the term “heavy metal” mean?

Black Sabbath started something in 1969 in the UK. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin started something on the hard rock front. In the U.S you had Kiss, Styx, Ted Nugent, Journey. In Australia, you had a pub rock band called AC/DC. Progressive Rock became a force to be reckoned with on the backs of Pink Floyd, ELP, Genesis and Yes.

By the mid Seventies, disco, punk and new wave became the darlings of the scene and heavy metal and all forms of rock went underground again, waiting for the day to rise again.

Then came the New Wave of British Heavy Metal between 1979 and 1983. At the same time, hard rock, glam metal and speed metal roared out of the Los Angeles and San Francisco scene. Think Motley Crue, Ratt, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.

When heavy metal and hard rock drops off the mainstream scene, it is never gone for long. Heavy Metal is the answer to all things corrupt. It is the soundtrack.

Typically most metal fans come from working-class homes or changed family dynamics. According to a recent study, all us metal heads must have low self-esteem, because that is why we listen to metal music.

The mainstream always ignored metal music, seeing it as too dumb. Of course, when a band breaks through, the mainstream are the first group of media outlets to jump on the wagon. Remember Metallica. Ignored by the mainstream completely. The only mainstream press they got was the sad and tragic death of Cliff Burton. Then the Black album comes out and it is undeniable. It’s a juggernaut and everyone wanted to be a part of it.

So here is the list of the current state of heavy metal.

CLASSIC EVERYTHING

Rush – enough said. Move on.

AC/DC – enough said times two.

CLASSIC METAL

Iron Maiden – they need another great album like “Brave New World” soon or they will be playing to smaller and smaller audiences with each tour.

Metallica – they need to start making better decisions and they need to release new music. Look at their decision-making process. A project with Lou Reed (RIP) that just didn’t connect with the fan bases of each party involved and an $18 million dud of a movie. In relation to new music, they can only go back to the same market place year after year before the fans get burned on it.

Megadeth – Dave Mustaine said on “The Metal Show” that his top five Megadeth albums are “Countdown To Extinction”, “Rust In Peace”, “Peace Sells”, “So Far So Good So What” and “Killing Is My Business”. He needs to have a current album in that Top 5.

Slayer – are finished in relation to new music without Jeff Hanneman. He was the main songwriter in Slayer, full stop. To hear Kerry King saying that if the Jeff Hanneman music in the archives is not good, it will be not used is a load of B.S. Who made Kerry King the gatekeeper?

Judas Priest – is not Judas Priest anymore. It’s all about the dollars.

Black Sabbath – is all about the last paycheck. Anyone remember the recent album? Name me the whole track list without Googling it. I bet if i asked you to name me the whole track list on “Paranoid” or “Heaven And Hell” I would get an answer.

Pantera – lets hope that no one is stupid enough to reform Pantera with a “guitarist” paying tribute to Dimebag. Stick to your guns Vinnie. Pantera died completely when Dimebag died.

CLASSIC ROCK

Led Zeppelin is still big business in the market place. That is what the mighty Zep has become. A Corporate entity.

Pink Floyd are on hiatus however Roger Waters is still doing the rounds. He is the real deal anyway.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same market places year after year since 2008. The fans are getting burnt on this grab for cash as no new music has been forthcoming expect for the song “Sex”. The movie and the farewell tour are constantly dropped to the public.

Deep Purple should call it a day. They are out of ideas and inspiration.

Styx, Journey, Toto and Night Ranger are shadows of their former selves, doing enough to make a living in the current music business, but out of touch of what the music business fans want from their artists today. Which is a direct line, a connection.

THRASH/GROOVE METAL

Machine Head is the leader in this group. In Robb Flynn, they have a work horse of epic proportions who has the grit to see things through.

Trivium are real contenders. Say what you will about them, one thing is clear; they are not afraid to try new shit out and take risks.

METAL (all styles)

Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch lead this group. They are ticking all the boxes. They have the sales on the board and both are part of the public conversation.

Bullet For My Valentine – have a great album in them. Can they write it?

Stone Sour – should have released one album instead of two.

Sevendust – I love them and the new album was a welcomed return to form.

Disturbed – The Device album had the same impact as the last Disturbed album. Do they still have a place in the Metal world?

Heartist – could be the next big thing or they could crash and burn with their next album as now they have a record label A&R department in their house.

ROCK (all styles)

Shinedown are the new ROCK GODS. Volbeat are not that far behind with Black Veil Brides and Skillet as decent contenders.

Eve To Adam – released a great rock album but no one has heard it.

Buckcherry – veterans of the scene and play to a niche.

Thirty Seconds To Mars – took too long to release a good album. If you are going to take 4 years between releases, you need to release a great album.

Airbourne – fill the AC/DC void when AC/DC is on hiatus.

Alter Bridge – are an experienced team that deliver consistently.

One Less Reason – great music, great songs however if people buy a physical product from them, they need to deliver.

10 Years – a great fan funded release in 2012. Now they need to make some hard decisions. Do they go the fan funded route again or do they seek to get a deal or something entirely different.

DO IT YOURSELF ROCK

Digital Summer – they run their band as a company that puts money back into the band and they still hold down jobs that gives them money for living.

Burnside – released a great album that no one has heard.

Vaudeville – another band that released a great album.

SUPER GROUP

The Night Flight Orchestra – If you haven’t heard “Internal Affairs” from 2012 you need to. TNFO is made up of melodic death metal bands playing classic rock and metal.

PROGRESSIVE METAL/ROCK

Tool – it’s going to be an event when the new Tool album comes out. Is it too late? Time will tell.

Coheed and Cambria – can’t do nothing wrong currently. Excellent double releases, plus great fan perks.

Dream Theater – are doing their best to maintain the success they achieved 10 years ago. Need a great album otherwise it’s bye bye.

TesseracT, Protest The Hero and Periphery are the new leaders of Progressive Music.

Today I Caught The Plague, Sound of Contact, Op Shop, Scale The Summit and Lizzard are rookies to take notice off.

METALCORE (MELODIC DEATH METAL)

Killswitch Engage are firing on all guns.

In Flames need to bring out new music.

All That Remains needs to head back to the studio.

The rest of the bands in this movement need a re-think.

SYMPHONIC METAL/ROCK

Within Temptation – enough said

DEATH METAL

Lamb of God – they are angry and they are pissed off. A bullshit murder trial and banned in a South East Asian country by ignorant pricks.

SHOCK

One final mention; “Du, Du Hast, Du Hast mish a fraud.” Rammstein has a dicka, so let’s get together, what is the problem?

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