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

Top 10 – 2021: Part 2

And we continue the journey of 2021 releases.

Daughtry – Dearly Beloved

In 2012 Chris Daughtry had a decision to make after “Break The Spell”.

Should he stay with the same sound?

Should he change the sound completely?

Should he stay with the same sound but experiment with a few songs by bringing in different sounds?

“Baptized” came out in in November 2013 on RCA Records and it was an electro synth pop sounding album, a significant departure from the hard rock sound on their first three albums.

Like the previous albums, RCA farmed Chris Daughtry out to work with different writers. But while the writers previously had some rock pedigree, the writers on “Baptized” album specialized in other styles.

There is a song called “Long Live Rock N Roll” and it doesn’t even rock, as it’s more in the vein of “I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker”, an acoustic folk song which tells a story of growing up with a certain type of music.

Then came a “Greatest Hits” album in 2016 with two new songs called “Torches” and “Go Down.

“Torches” is actually a good bridge between the old sound and the “Baptized” sound,

The song “Go Down” has your typical catchy Daughtry vocal melody but it’s instrument sounds are routed in synth pop and electronica. Think of the band “Garbage”.

“Cage To Rattle” came out in 2018. 10 songs that total 38 minutes. RCA again was spending a lot of money for Chris Daughtry to write with so many outside writers in the quest to find hits.

But the record executives failed to understand is that Daughtry’s audience is predominantly made up of rockers. And there is a saying, when you’re chasing hits it don’t mean the hits would come.

Then Daughtry and RCA parted ways.

And Daughtry was back, louder and meaner.

“Dearly Beloved” is a return to form which shows the world that Daughtry still knows how to rock!!

Machine Head – Arrows In Words From The Sky

In October, Machine “Fucking” Head made 30 years! It’s a long time in the business. Music is a lifers game.

In the early 90s, Robb Flynn decided to quit the band he was in, to start Machine “Fucking” Head, so he could call the shots and not have to answer to anyone.

Throughout the years he’s had different versions of the band with “The Blackening” line up being the most favored and then the “Burn My Eyes” line up.

Over the last three years, Robb’s motto is simple. If he has a song, or two, he’s going to get it recorded and released.

In 2019, “Do Or Die” was released.

In February 2020, “Circle The Drain” came out.

In June 2020, the “Civil Unrest” single, featuring the tracks “Bulletproof” and the Jesse Leach collaboration “Stop The Bleeding” came out.

In November 2020, the stand alone “My Hands Are Empty” was released.

And on 11 June 2021, the 3-Song digital single, “Arrows In Words From The Sky” dropped.

In total 8 songs have been released. They could represent an album that came out today, but we all got to spend time with these songs when they came out and make em special at that particular point in time.

Centuries of pain, under a paper sword
Arrows in words from the sky

Check it out.

Joel Hoekstras 13 – Running Games

I am a Russell Allen fan. I knew of Allen long before I heard of Joel Hoekstra. Allen has a voice which can suit power symphonic bands, metal bands, melodic rock bands, hard rock bands, nu-metal bands and blues rock bands.

And I’m also a Jeff Watson fan, so I wasn’t too thrilled with any Night Ranger version without Watson. Then again Watson hasn’t done much being away from the band and I still want to hear new Night Ranger music.

So I still listened to Night Ranger and Hoekstra impressed but I felt he was restrained within that band as Blades and Keagy are the alphas.

And with Whitesnake, Coverdale has two great guitarists to write tunes with but they need to comply with what Coverdale desires.

Which means that Hoekstra 13 is the true Joel Hoekstra.

“Running Games” is album number 2 for his Frontiers label contract.

The band for the album is a supergroup are Russell Allen on vocals, Tony Franklin on bass, Vinny Appice on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards with Jeff Scott Soto doing backing vocals. Yep, you read that right, the great JSS is doing backing vocals.

Overall Hoekstra’s songwriting is top level and the performances from the guys are excellent.

Check it out.

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

The Record Vault: Deep Purple – Machine Head

“Machine Head” is the sixth studio album released on 25 March 1972 on Purple Records.

The success of this album didn’t just happen. The band had been touring and recording in between live shows since 1969. Any new song they wrote would get debuted live before it was recorded.

But the band felt that these earlier studio albums did not sound as good as their live performances, and wanted to record in a stage environment.

As legend would have it, Deep Purple planned to record the “Machine Head” album at Montreux Casino in Switzerland during December 1971. But some “stupid with a flare gun burned the whole place to the ground”.

Deep Purple relocated to another hotel called “The Pavilion” however the neighbors kept calling the police over the noise and Deep Purple got evicted. The basic tracks to “Smoke On The Water” were recorded here.

They searched for other recording locations and settled with the empty Grand Hotel, on the edge of Montreux.

The band for the album is the classic line up of Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Ian Gillan on vocals, Roger Glover on bass, Jon Lord on keyboards, Hammond organ and Ian Paice on drums.

The album is listed as being produced by Deep Purple with Martin Birch doing the engineering and the mixing with Deep Purple.

Highway Star

It’s a speed Metal song before it became a thing.

Written on the bus while touring. Management arranged for the band to travel to the gig with a group of music journalists who could interview the band at their leisure.

One of them asked Blackmore how he wrote songs and the opening riff was the result. The rest of the band completed the arrangement during rehearsals and it was added to the show on the evening of the gig.

Blackmore based his guitar solo around a figure that he learned from rockabilly artists Johnny Burnette who was active between 1952 and 1964 when he drowned.

Maybe I”m A Leo

I like the blues rock riff on this which Glover wrote the song’s main riff after listening to John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?” Hell it could have been based on “Come Together” which was based on a Chuck Berry song.

It had a working title of “One Just Before Midnight”, which appears in a picture of a recording sheet on the album sleeve.

Pictures of Home

Montreux had become their home away from home and this song covers that period.

A fast drum solo Intro starts it off before the band crashes in. The major key pentatonic soloing reminds me of Thin Lizzy before Thin Lizzy became famous.

Never Before

I love the blues when it’s done right. And on this track Deep Purple nail it.

This style of blues rock would form the foundation of the Rainbow sound.

Smoke On The Water

The opening riff and the whole build up with the drums and then bass.

That’s why you press play on this.

Lazy

It was played live in 1971. Glover said the song was roughly based on an Oscar Brown song, “Sleepy”, while Blackmore stated it was inspired by Eric Clapton’s “Stepping Out”.

Either way, it’s how music is created.

Take our influences and create something new.

The song was designed for the live show with each instrument having a break to showcase the talents of the player. Even Ian Gillan got a harmonica spot.

Space Truckin’

“So come on”.

And the rest is history. Nonsense lyrics or not it’s a classic Deep Purple jam.

When A Blind Man Cries

No one called these kind of songs ballads back in the day. It was just a slower rock song.

Listen to the little leads and the lead break itself. So much emotion. Blackmore doesn’t get enough credit for being a great blues player.

In Australia it went to number 1, along with other countries like Denmark, France, West Germany as it was known back then, the UK and Holland.

Certifications will be viewed in the future as a small memory of the music business, the way the piano player is forgotten and vaudeville productions. Once upon a time they ruled. What happened to em?

But when people talk about this album, they talk about it’s 2x Platinum certification in the US and it’s Gold certifications in France, Italy, Japan and the UK.

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Arrows In Words From The Sky

This October, Machine “Fucking” Head will make 30 years!

In the early 90s, Robb Flynn decided to quit the band he was in, to start Machine “Fucking” Head, so he could call the shots and not have to answer to anyone.

Throughout the years he’s had different versions of the band with “The Blackening” line up being the most favored and then the “Burn My Eyes” line up.

Over the last three years, Robb’s motto is simple. If he has a song, or two, he’s going to get it recorded and released. And he’s still calling the shots.

Jared MacEachern on bass is still there, a dedicated right hand man.

In 2019, “Do Or Die” was released.

In February 2020, “Circle The Drain” came out.

In June 2020, the “Civil Unrest” single, featuring the tracks “Bulletproof” and the Jesse Leach collaboration “Stop The Bleeding” came out.

In November 2020, the stand alone “My Hands Are Empty” was released, a collaboration between Robb Flynn and Logan Mader from the “Burn My Eyes” version of the band.

And on 11 June 2021, the 3-Song digital single, “Arrows In Words From The Sky” dropped.

In total 8 songs have been released. They could represent an album that came out today, but we all got to spend time with these songs when they came out and make em special at that particular point in time.

On his blog, Robb said that, “these three songs represent Machine Head better than anything I could ever try to explain here.

The way these songs grew and took shape over time, tells us our future is more exciting than even we would like to admit.

Being able to corral all the chaos, pain, confusion, and yes, hope, into music has never made me feel more alive. These songs will hopefully do the same for you, after all, that’s who they were written for.

Arrows In Words From The Sky

As soon as the droning open string tones and natural harmonics kick in, I was hooked.

It sounds sad and when the vocal melody comes in, it’s mournful. But all of this is the calm before the storm.

Centuries of pain, under a paper sword
Arrows in words from the sky

When the distorted section with the vocal melody “breaking down (I am reborn)” kicks in, it’s desk breaking stuff. It hits a raw nerve and unleashes a lot of emotions.

Listen to the lead break.

It’s guitar hero stuff from Robb Flynn. His lead work is so underrated.

Check it out.

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

2001 – Part 1.3: Machine Head – Supercharger

The Evergrey “In Search Of Truth” post and “Origin Of Symmetry” by Muse post were meant to be part of this large post, however after I finished writing all of the posts they had a lot of words in there to be part of one post, so they ended up as separate posts.

The Machine Head post will be 1.3, the upcoming Megadeth post will be 1.4 and the Ozzy post will be 1.5.

Machine Head – Supercharger

Supercharger is their fourth album.

It came out just weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and it got lost in the aftermath. Roadrunner also gave them zero promotion and to this date, its considered a commercial failure by the label. They even went on tour for the album without any label support which was a slap in the face to the band as Robb Flynn has admitted that “The Burning Red” and “Supercharger” were albums that Roadrunner pressured them to do, so they could break into the mainstream.

But when the mainstream didn’t come, Flynn said that the band was going to return to “what we they did best”.

It is also the band’s last release to feature lead guitarist Ahrue Luster and as a by-product it set in stone the next 15 years.

For me, this was the first album I purchased from Machine Head.

And in relation to the album being a commercial failure, in a 2015 interview with LouderSound, this is what Robb Flynn had to say about it.

“Supercharger sold 250,000 copies. If that’s a disaster, I’ll take it.

We played nine shows in the UK, all sold out, and the US tour was mostly sold out, which was a first.

Every night when we play “Bulldozer”, that whole theory that everybody hates “Supercharger” gets completely stomped into the ground. We play “Bulldozer” and it’s one of the top five reactions of the night, every time”

After a minute of “The Declaration”, the iconic riff of “Bulldozer” kicks in. Listen to the drumming from Dave McClain in the intro. In the live arena, this song is powerful, mosh pit powerful.

“Full steam we go against the odds, headfirst we go against the grain”.

But the lack of solos is going with the grain, as between 1999 and 2005, there was a “no guitar solo” movement. This song was missing a ripping lead.

“Crashing Around You” is a great hard rock song. It was the only single from the album and it had a film clip with a burning San Francisco skyline and stuff crashing down around them.

It was pulled from MTV and rock radio because the term “crashing” was found to be offensive.

But the lyrics are excellent, the music grooves and having this song pulled from every promotional outlet definitely hurt the band. But the fans loved it.

When they pulled this song out for the concert, the place went nuts.

“Kick You When You’re Down” sounds like a track from the “Catharsis” album with its catchcry about believing in yourself and following your heart.

“Only the Names” deserves more attention. This Robb Flynn penned track is classic Machine Head merging all the doom from the early era. Tracks from the current era even sound like this song. That distorted riff would sink submarines it’s that heavy. Early Tool comes to mind here.

“All in Your Head” is one of my favourite Machine Head tracks. That intro, especially live, is head banging material and in its essence it’s basically a hard rock song.

“American High” kicks off with a Tarzan like vocal chant, which is actually the riff of the song. It sounds like the guys are having fun and Flynn brings out some of his spoken word raps in the verses but this song got slammed by the reviewers, for the Tarzan chant.

“Nausea” feels like a Deftones style track especially in the verses.

“Blank Generation” reminds me of early Tool. It’s Aggressive with a capital A.

“Trephination” has a cool bass riff to kick it off.

“Deafening Silence” keeps building until it explodes towards the end.

“Supercharger” has a great intro riff, but that dissonance Korn style riff in the first part of the verse didn’t enhance the song in anyway.

The Japanese version has a cover of “Hole in the Sky” from Black Sabbath as its bonus track. A lot of fans saw this as a weird choice considering the nu-metal style of the album.

But from a rhythm guitar point of view, there is a lot here to unpack.

And after being exposed to Machine Head by various band members this album was my first financial commitment to the band, so it holds a special place in my history.

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Catharsis

“Catharsis” from Machine Head, had its three year anniversary a few days ago.

I posted a review here, not long after it came out.

As the review stated, I have no issues with lyrics of any kind and I do not have a problem with artists I like, taking a stance and commenting on what they see is the state of the world. Opinions are important whether a person agrees or disagrees with them.

So it’s no surprise that on “Catharsis”, Robb Flynn is giving his take on the world. It’s not pretty, but no one said the six o’clock news is pretty.

Most of the songs were written during the time of Trump’s running for President and election. There is despair, anger and some forecasting as to what the future would look like, under a Trump presidency in the lyrics of the songs.

And Robb Flynn was right with every word.

Check out the song “Bastards” with its catch phrase of “Don’t let the bastards wear you down”. Because it happened. All of the lies and the hate speech wore everyone down. Even internationally, our news bulletins spent a lot of time fact checking Trump’s claims and others just basically laughed at him and made unflattering jokes about him.

Robb copped a lot of flak for taking a stand on politics, from U.S magazine writers, U.S music websites/blogs and U.S fans. It was an American thing. As Dee Snider said on Twitter recently, a lot of metal fans in the U.S, are also Trump supporters and was anyone really surprised when the majority of writers for the U.S metal magazines and websites came out as Trump supporters. Especially the ones, on the more extreme side of metal.

And what was surprising about all this, was how many of the U.S “fans” and “writers” kept posting that Robb Flynn should just keep his views on politics to himself and just sing.

But politics have been a big part of Machine Head. The songs, “A Thousand Lies”, “Clenching The Fists Of Dissent”, “Halo”, “In The Presence Of My Enemies” and “A Farewell To Arms” are all political.

What did these guys think he was writing about?

Making cookies.

I believe that Machine Head is more popular outside the U.S and the international audience stood with Robb Flynn on this. We didn’t have the U.S problem.

Is the album bloated?

Yep, a few songs too many. At 75 minutes long, it’s a lot to take in, especially in a world that has a lot of distractions and people just don’t know how to manage their time effectively.

Is it the best Machine Head album?

Depends on what you grew up with. I like “The Blackening”, “Through The Ashes Of Empires”, “Supercharger” but my favourite is “Unto The Locust”. It’s the most focused and at seven songs, it’s pretty much all killer.

And the message of standing your ground is important. It’s easier said than done, because to stand your ground, means that you need to move out of your comfort zone.

Because standing bye and watching the unacceptable become the acceptable is not an option.

Play it loud.

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

November 2020 – Part 3

Pyramaze

From Denmark. “Epitaph” is album number six.

The album kicks off with the title track “Epitaph”, a 1.40 instrumental that would not be out of place on the “Braveheart” soundtrack or “Game Of Thrones”.

This song bleeds into “A Stroke Of Magic” and that Evergrey djent/syncopated style of riffing captures me. “Steal My Crown” starts off with a catchy piano lick and when the power chords come crashing down, in the words of Rob Halford, “they go tearing through my senses”.

“Knights In Shining Armour” is a power metal cut with a catchy keyboard melody underpinning the Chorus and “Birds Of Prey” is a hard rock sing with an AOR Chorus.

“Particle” reminds of Evergrey and for that memory, it is elevated to stand out status.

“I’m chasing every particle of you”

God damn, even Desmond Child or Max Martin can’t come up with a line that good.

“Indestructible” asks the question “for why we try to die so young” in the Chorus.

“World Foregone” also reminds me of Evergrey and I’m all in with the alternate picked verses and ballad like Chorus with “how long, how long, can we go on”.

It’s about pollution and climate change. An important message that needs to be heard over and over again. Something that White Lion was onto but ignored.

Machine Head

“My Hands Are Empty” keeps the single song drops from Machine Head going.

From a new music point of view, prior to this song, MH released “Do Or Die” in 2019 and in 2020, “Circle The Drain” (and an acoustic version), “Stop The Bleeding” and “Bulletproof” have been released. If any of em end up on a long player, who knows, but as a fan I’ve enjoyed the single drops.

The songs “Stop The Bleeding” and “Bulletproof” appeared like an EP called “Civil Unrest”.

AC/DC

The mighty Acca Dacca return with one of the best album titles ever in “Power Up”. Their return was met with enough fandom, which pushed their album into number 1 and decent sales, something that Bon Jovi couldn’t muster with his 2020 release.

“Realize” storms out of the gate with its “For Those About To Rock” intro before it starts cranking with its “Problem Child/Sin City” vibe. And I’m all in.

“Shot In The Dark” is better than a walk in the park, with its instantly recognisable riff, which people state sounds like “Rock N Roll Train” and “Rock N Roll Train” sounds like other AC/DC songs, because Angus and Malcolm are brilliant at creating derivative versions of the same riff.

Tracks like “Through The Mists Of Time” is AC/DC bringing in something extra and the way the Chorus happens, well it’s just a little bit different. In Australia, a band called Choirboys did songs like this.

“Kick You When You’re Down” makes me pick up the guitar to learn that intro riff.

“Demon Fire” is fast blues. It sounds like Airbourne’s “Blood In The Water”. “Let There Be Rock” comes to mind and so does “Safe in New York City” and “Caught With Your Pants Down”.

Other favourites are “Money Shot” and “Code Red”.

Power up for 2020 and rock on.

Chris Stapleton

This is a real good blues rock album in the style of John Fogerty and Steve Earle. The first three tracks are a triple combo knockout with “Starting Over”, “Devil Always Made Me Think Twice” (which sounds like it came from the same family tree of “Old Man Down The Road” by John Fogerty) and “Cold” which is basically a re-write of a Paolo Nutini song called “Iron Sky”.

“Arkansas” keeps that Delta blues vibe going with its swampy riffs. “Hillbilly Blood” sounds like a Steve Earle track. “Maggie’s Song” feels like “Shooting Star” from Bad Company.

Lunatic Soul

Opening track “Navvie” is an acoustic Celtic like romp, more colonial, tribal and folky sounding than anything modern. And I like it. So I went to Google to find out more about the band.

Lunatic Soul is a progressive rock side-project, founded by Riverside vocalist and bass guitarist Mariusz Duda in 2008. “Through Shaded Woods” is the side projects seventh album.

Riverside has been in my life since the early 2000’s and I had no idea there was a side project. All instruments and vocals are performed by Duda. He found inspiration for the album from his hometown in Poland, which is surrounded by forests and lakes.

“The Passage” is up next. This track clocks in at 8.57 as it weaves its way through its Norse and Slavic folk influences in the riffs, all done in a haunting way.

“Through Shaded Woods” continues the Celtic tribal folk feel from “Navvie” with a tremolo effect vocal melody. “Summoning Dance” clocks in at 9.52 and its underpinned by an acoustic bass riff that reminds me of Tool.

The acoustic finger picked intro to “The Fountain” starts and the melancholy gets me interested.

Volster

I added “Arise” to my playlist because I saw their name in a list of new releases.

Another hard rock band from Sweden.

“Turn The Tide” with its Led Zep like influences immediately grabbed me and “End Of The World” could have been a Dio cut with a Blackmore style solo.

But it’s the hard rock tracks with a little bit of prog thrown in that are my favourites. Check out the Rush influenced “I Wish” and the Kings X influenced “Sign of the Times” and “Highroad to Nowhere”.

Spirit Adrift

From the U.S.

It started off as a solo project in 2015.

And since then, vocalist/guitarist/bassist Nate Garrett has taken his melodic doom metal influences and tweaked them into an old school metal machine, all within four albums and two Eps.

The new album is called “Enlightened in Eternity”. Garrett does everything except the drums, which are carried out by a person called Marcus Bryant.

“Ride Into The Light” could have been on an Accept album and their take on mixing Judas Priest with AC/DC.

“Astral Levitation” has two sections. Section 1 is Sabbath/Dio “Heaven And Hell” era while section 2 is all Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy with the harmony guitars.

“Cosmic Conquest” has so many riffs in the song, that a whole album could have been written of those riffs got fleshed into individual songs.

I’m interested, let’s see what comes next.

Part 4 is coming up.

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

Unto The Locust

9 years old yesterday.

I was a first day buyer and I got the CD/DVD deluxe version.

7 original tracks and two covers for the deluxe, which had a kick ass version of “The Sentinel” from Judas Priest and “Witch Hunt” from Rush. In addition, there is an acoustic track of “Darkness Within”.

The DVD has a making of documentary which I watched once and I don’t really remember much of except for a debate they had about a song.

Coming into this the album, the thrash tour de force “The Blackening” came out in 2007 and the band went on a three year victory lap with it. That’s right, a three year tour.

And then they dropped this album.

“I Am Hell” kicks it off.

Its a 3 part classical movement, consisting of the main thrash part, the classical outro, and the Latin intro of which Robb recorded 24 separate voices to create it. The Latin words chanted are “Sagre Sani” = Blood saint”, and “Bellator Inferni” = “Hell warrior”.

And I wasn’t all in.

But the last two minutes when the acoustic kicks in for the classical outro had me loosening up to it.

Then the finger tapped intro to track 2 begins and I was really in.

“Be Still And Know” is one of my favourite Machine Head songs.

In this struggle / Are we dead or alive?

What’s the saying, “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept” or something like that.

And life is a struggle, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s all down to the standard we accept. The one that brings change is uncomfortable and the other is comfortable.

And there’s heartache / As we search to connect

We like to say that we know what we are doing but in reality we don’t. We are just working and living off our best guess. So we have heartache and we keep on connecting.

Because relationships are not easy. They need work and sometimes they need downtime.

There is love / Know that we are one / We are all in this together / Weather the storm

If I have my best day or my worst day, that feeling will pass. And in time I’ll forget it because it doesn’t matter. And I’ll experience other days of highs and lows and those feelings will be forgotten as well.

And the fast double kick drum in the solo harmony section is so fast it makes me wonder how all the modern drummers do it so easily.

Glaciers will melt and the oceans rise / Waves will come crashing ashore

Maybe global warming will not pass and we’ll need to deal with the fallout.

And the sun will rise
Dawn will break through the blackest night
Distant in its glow
This shall pass be still and know

And if this was the only good song on the album it was worth it.

But then “Locust” started.

Viewed by many critics at the time as a disappointing follow up to 2007’s “The Blackening”, “Locust” went on to become Machine Head’s #1 streamed song of the digital-era, racking up 25 million streams to date plus 11 million and counting YouTube views.

The clean tone dropped D (but in C#) arpeggio riff is now iconic. It’s a singalong riff in the live arena.

And the lyrical theme is different.

Behind an angel’s disguise, an insect preys
Mandibles cut like a knife, the reckoning

The Locust is an analogy for bad people in human relationships who come and rip you off, rob you off your affection and then leave you stripped and destroyed, the same way a swarm of locusts leave a crop stripped and destroyed.

And if these two tracks proved the best I was happy with the follow up.

But Robb Flynn had been practicing classical guitar and the classical intro to “This Is The End” starts. And I was all in over and over again.

When the harmony guitars come in, the 220bpm riff-a-thon begins.

But the centerpiece is “Darkness Within”. Just listen to it and you will know why. It’s a heavy hard rock song and the lead break from Phil Demmel is Randy Rhoads worthy, a song within a song moment.

Could this album get any better?

It does with the last two originals “Pearls Before The Swine” (think Metallica “Ride The Lightning” era) and “Who We Are” (think Judas Priest Classic album era).

And the cover songs.

Blistering and recorded live in the studio.

Happy 9th birthday.

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Circle The Drain

The song started its life 13 plus months ago. It had a hook about “Treading Water” initially and that was probably going to be the title.

Robb Flynn then mentioned how the song title came about. He had a friend, who returned from Afghanistan only to have his relationship fall apart. His girlfriend messed around on him while he was gone, then she got paranoid about him messing around on her and drove him crazy. The title came from the words Robb’s friend said to him, “they were just circling the drain”.

Circling the drain means to be very near death and have little time to live. It is also used to describe a project or relationship that is on the brink of failure.

Robb also lost two long term band members who decided to leave Machine Head.

I don’t know if it was a relationship gone bad or if it was just time to move on, as nothing lasts ever, even the cold November Rain.

But when relationships do go bad, either romantic or band breakups, the people’s lives change forever. Suddenly, people/friends take sides, and you are not being invited to the events you used to go to and you are exposed to it all via social media and societies quest to showcase how great their lives are on it.

So artists channel this pain and anger and aggression into their music and their words.

Treading water, were just numbing the pain
Spinning round as we circle the drain

You know how it’s going to end, but you are too scared to move on and break ties. So we go around in circles, walking on egg shells and taking care to not hurt each other’s feelings, while our real feelings left the building a long time ago.

Excuses don’t mean anything when tears run down our eyes

No one said break ups are easy. And totems of the relationship are left behind everywhere, like a song or a movie that you don’t like anymore, because it brings back memories of that person.

And if it’s not tears running down the eyes, its blood. For all of our advancements in science and technology, we still can’t control our lizard brain, that small section of the brain that controls everything once it’s activated. It’s dangerous and on occasions deadly.

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The Sentinel

I forgot about this song in the 90’s and the 2000’s. It’s like it didn’t exist. Then I purchased the deluxe edition of “Unto The Locust” by Machine Head, and it was a bonus track. And I immediately ripped the CD and copied the song/album to my iPhone and added it to my playlists. The song was back in my life after a long hiatus.

And that is how our relationship with music works. We fall in and out of love with the songs.

Due to blowing away all of the mp3 tracks I had on my iPhone when I switched to streaming, I lost my mp3 rip of the Machine Head version. And it is not on Machine Head’s Spotify account, which irks me, but a Rock Covers album list.

And “The Sentinel” is my favourite track on the “Defenders Of The Faith” album. I could listen to it over and over again.

It’s music made for the sound system and not the earbuds/headphones, however in this day and age, the headphones will do.

A power chord crashes in.

As it buzzes out for a bar, a single note melodic riff is played.

Then another power chord is played, and another single note melodic riff. It repeats, until it gets into the speed metal riff of the verses.

And Halford sets the scene along deserted avenues with figures primed and ready for a quick surprise.

Then we are into the Chorus.

Sworn to avenge
Condemn to hell
Tempt not the blade
All fear the sentinel

It’s an arena rock chorus but it’s lyrical message is so far removed from the pop charts and the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “Cum On Feel The Noize” type of messages. “The Sentinel” is like an avenger for the down trodden and forgotten, or just a no bullshit bounty hunter.

The guitar solo has tapping, pentatonic lines, arpeggio pull off licks, natural minor scalar runs and a whole damn of legato.

And there is silence at the end of the solo, as they move into a melancholic and subdued verse, slowly building it up as the vicar stands expressionless, unmoved by his victory.

And how good are the riffs underneath the Chorus vocal melody.

Sworn to avenge.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, Unsung Heroes

My Spotify Top Artist For 2018 is … Machine Head

Don’t let the bastards grind you down is the catch-cry from Machine Head this year. It pissed some people off and inspire others.

Apart from dropping a new album at the start of the year, Machine Head’s back catalogue features heavily in my life.

And Robb Flynn’s vocals are an acquired taste as he merges aggressive throat breaking barks to soaring melodic passages. It’s a voice built from his lifestyle. No one else can mimic it.

Thanks for the music and even though 2018 ends a bit uncertain for the band with two members leaving, I am sure Robb Flynn will go on and deliver a stellar Machine Head album.

The world is watching. New drummers and guitarists are waiting to join. It’s up to you.

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