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

Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Spin Series – Roxus

Here is the usual prologue.

My blogger pal Deke over at Thunder Bay had a cool Northern Hemisphere Summertime Series between July and August.

Each week, he wrote about albums he spun during the summer.

Well, the real Earth summer is between December, January and February in the Southern Hemisphere.

So the good act that Thunder Bay is, boarded a Qantas plane, landed in Sydney, survived 14 days quarantine in a Sydney hotel and is finally here to present the “Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Series”.

Roxus already had a reputation for getting kicked off stages at venues around Sydney for saying the word “fuck” too many times and for female audience members exposing themselves.

It’s pretty tame compared to today’s standards but back then, bands played at venues that didn’t really accommodate their sound and crowd.

Formed in 1987, they got the attention of Aussie rock commentator, Ian (Molly) Meldrum, who signed them to his Melodian Records label.

The version of the band that I know as Roxus is Dragan Stanic on guitars, Darren Danielson on drums, John Nixon on bass, Juno Roxas on lead vocals and Andy Shanahan on keyboards.

Timing is everything.

In 1989, they released two 7 inch singles. The excellent “Stand Back” with “Spaghetti Wire” as the B-side and “Body Heat” with “Don’t Stop” as the B-side.

The two A side tracks quickly became melodic rock anthems, being played on music television stations around Australia.

They toured hard and supported Poison, Bon Jovi and Warrant.

All that experience accumulated in an EP release called “Live” in 1990, which raised questions as to how much of it was actually live. Then again, my favorite live albums all had studio overdubs.

Apart from “Body Heat” and “Stand Back”, two new songs appeared on “Live”. “That Girl” and another anthem called “Morning Light”

And they toured again and went to LA to write and record new songs for an album release.

Their first full length album “Nightstreet” came out in 1991. Produced by Mark Opitz who at the time was Australia’s version of Tom Werman. Opitz had hit albums with INXS, Cold Chisel, Angels and Noiseworks, just to name a few.

My favorite is “Rock N’ Roll Nights”. It’s a De Arrow cut, which guitarist Dragan Stanic brought to the band, along with “First Break Of My Heart” which is another favorite of mine. These two tracks have keys and riffs and are dripping in melodic rock cliches.

“Midnight Love” is another classic melodic rock song along with “My Way” which has a very Van Halen like vibe and of course “Stand Back” with that brilliant keys intro and the distortion that crashes in after.

While they loved their melodic rock, tracks like “Bad Boys” and “Night Street” would not be out of place on a Warrant or Skid Row album. More aggressive.

And then the ballads in “Jimi G” which is more Bad Company like and better than the overplayed big hit “Where Are You Now” which is typical of the power ballad genre. And it doesn’t leave much room for the very underrated ballad “This Time”.

Basically, if you like melodic rock then Roxus was/is one of the best acts from Australia who did it.

And happy Boxing Day.

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

Best Of August 2020

August had five posts on the new releases.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

For single song releases, “World On Fire” by Daughtry was released.

This time around Daughtry is angry and the melody is perfect over the aggressive guitar riffs.

Stressed out, head trauma, took a beating

Life is already difficult from our own doing and the trauma we inflict on ourselves with our thoughts and feelings When society gets a hold of us, we are even more beaten down, shaped and moulded.

But we find ways to survive, to move on.

“Jessie’s Girl 2” from Coheed And Cambria and feat Rick Springfield was also released as a stand alone single.

I’ve been a fan of the band from when I was given a CD rip of the “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” album in 2005 and a few months later I was consuming the brand new “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV”.

Their song structures and the riffs got me interested. And the voice of Claude Sanchez got me to commit. That voice rocks out like Geddy Lee, but still sounds unique and different enough.

And the hair. Man that hair. It’s massive. 

And to top it off, there is the big SciFi saga about a mystical energy source known as “The Keywork”.

But the album which reigned supreme for me in August is “Terminal Velocity” from John Petrucci.

“Suspended Animation” came out in 2005. I purchased it from his website straight away and I’ve lived with this instrumental album for a long time.

Just recently it appeared on Spotify as well, which makes it easier for me, as I didn’t have to rely on my CD rip on Apple Music for listening.

On “Suspended Animation” he had enough hooks and catchy melodic passages that I could sink my fingers into and let’s not forget the brilliance of “Glasgow Kiss”, a tour de force in itself, especially that middle breakdown section, when he plays arpeggio chords over the open E and B strings and then that emotive lead.

And I have lived with “Suspended Animation” for a long time.

A long time.

Fifteen years later, “Terminal Velocity” is thrust upon us, in a world overtaken and overrun by a virus which spreads easily, kills and keeps mutating.

And fifteen years, it’s a long time in a songwriters life.

So many things change. You get older, you have different family dynamics and your music listening habits keep evolving or devolving or they end up in an echo chamber, listening to the same stuff you listened to when you were growing up.

And if you have a practice routine to keep up your chops, you will get technically better at playing your instrument. It’s that old saying, get better every day by a ¼ of a percent and over the course of 365 days your 91% better and over 15 years you are 1368% better.

Well, John Petrucci is so good technically that I feel like breaking my guitar trying to learn stuff from him.

Petrucci assembled the same band that he did G3 with around 2006, which is Mike Portnoy on drums and Dave LaRue on bass. It’s an awesome band and being a long time DT fan, it’s cool to hear MP drumming to JP riffs again.

“Temple Of Circadia” is my favourite, especially that clean tone section which kicks in before the 3 minute mark and the lead break which follows. Like “Glasgow Kiss” part 2.

“Happy Song” with the major key vibe is like the commercial song on the album, especially that Americana Rock vibe in the melodic lead. Petrucci said on Twitter that the main chorus melody is one of his favourites and I agree.

And just listen to the outro. Its finger breaking stuff and still melodic. This song has appeared live on his G3 tours and at his Guitar Universe camp.

“The Oddfather” sounds like a track that could have come from “Black Clouds And Silver Linings”. And one of the melodic tremolo leads sounds like a Muse lead, however Petrucci in his Twitter post said he was trying to mimic the sound of a fast alternate picked mandolin.

“Terminal Velocity” has that major key vibe in sections that remind me of this Arcade game called “Turbo Outrun”. It’s the first song he wrote for the album and it was an archived riff from a while go.

And that major key vibe is energetic and uplifting, while Petrucci uses the E Harmonic Minor mode for the main theme and melody to create a dark and mysterious type of sound, as per his Twitter post at the listening party.

“Out Of The Blue” is a blues fusion track. “Glass Eyed Zombies” brings the metal. It’s heavy, its groovy and MP is having a ball with it. There is this lead break section, like a verse, that sounds like those TV themes from Danny Elfman. And that outro again, melodic progressive metal with Petrucci nailing a brilliant lead to finish it off.

“The Way Things Fall” is like a Rush track in the intro, but then this melodic rock riff comes in and I’m all in. Once the melodic lead comes in, which acts like a verse, it’s perfect. You just need to listen to it.

“Gemini” is a song I have had for ages as a bootleg. I don’t even know when it was recorded or where it was recorded. But this song has been around for a long time and its very Dream Theater like from the Portnoy era. There are sections in this song that have appeared in DT songs and LTE songs, albeit with some variations.

“Snake In My Boot” was going to be called “The Stomp” and if you’ve heard “The Stroke” from Mr Squier you will know why it has a similar title, but the first impression I got from this was a Queen like vibe.

And on Spotify, he is getting some great numbers because people are listening to the album over and over and over again. And that’s a good thing.

Check it out.

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

September 2020 – Part 2

Sevendust

I purchased my first Sevendust record back in 99 because I read the reviews about crashing guitars and melodic vocals, so I was keen to check em out. I took the CD home, unwrapped it, and looked at the album credits and the thank you credits before hearing a note. And I saw a name I was familiar with.

Jay Jay French was their manager. The same Jay Jay French from Twisted Sister.

Their first three albums (the self-titled debut released in 97, “Home” released in 99 and “Animosity” released in 2001) all went Gold in the U.S. and they got some traction in Australia as well.

I have been on and off the Sevendust train over the last 20 plus years and “Blood From A Stone” the lead single from their upcoming album is good enough to get me back on the train.

Starset

Their most streamed song, “Trials” has been reimagined.

And I didn’t like the original cut of the song, but I like the reimagined one. Which could be strange for fans of the original cut, because when George Lynch reimagined the “Wicked Sensation” album, I hated it, but other people could hear that reimagined version first and like it.

I guess like me with this band.

Khemmis

From Denver, Colorado, USA.

They took their name from an Ancient Egyptian city and more or less their whole Spotify collection is on this list as I really got into em over the month of September.

It was the blog “The Great Southern Brainfart” that got me interested.

The “Absolution” album was released in 2015.

That down-tuned, sludge like, fuzzed out, doom is all over this album but it’s the last track, the sombre “The Bereaved” which grabs me. It starts off with clean tone arpeggios before moving to a doom riff conjured from the darkest places a person could find.

And there is shred over the intro, so I wasn’t sure if this song is an 8 minute instrumental or if this was just one super long intro, because at 3 minutes in, no vocals had been heard.

And then they start at 3.11.

The “Hunted” album was released in 2016.

“Beyond The Door” and “Hunted” are the standout tracks. At 9 minutes and 12 minutes long, they roll along as an amalgamation of the “IV” album from Black Sabbath merged with the Gothenburg metal scene.

Especially the title track.

The “Desolation” album was released in 2018.

“Bloodletting” gets things off to a nice start but it’s the second track “Isolation” which gets me interested.

But “From Ruin” is the star of the album. That intro is so depressingly heavy it feels like lead on my shoulders.

Out of the darkest night / no one could help me find a way / but in the new spring dawn / I find the strength to carry on

Each new day is a new way to do things. To be seen, to learn, to own what you do and to do it better next time.

Then the song picks up with a 12/8 style riff that reminds me of “Phantom Of The Opera” with some killer leads.

“Doomed Heavy Metal” was released in 2020.

It’s a six song EP, with two originals, an awesome cover of “Rainbow In The Dark” (which sounds like how Ghost would cover it) and three live tracks.

And 2020 also gave us a doomy cover version of “Down In A Hole” from Alice In Chains as well.

They are a band on my radar. I’m interested, let’s see what comes next.

Andy James

From England.

One of my favourite instrumental guitarists going around at the moment.

He started off in the heavy metal band “Sacred Mother Tongue” between the years of 2004 and 2013. In between he also did some solo albums, instructional videos and classes and once he went solo, he also set up his Andy James Guitar Academy.

“Lock N’ Load” has this aggressive Five Finger Death Punch riff, with impressive leads, especially that sing along lead which appears in what I call the Chorus section.

Arctic Rain

From Sweden.

The album is very derivative which is okay for my taste, but “Night After Night” is a melodic rock song that really stands out.

Another act on Frontiers.

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

Shiraz Lane

From Finland and another release on Frontiers.

“Broken Into Pieces” is the lead-off single from the soon to be released third album and I think this could be the album that makes me a fan.

Part 3 for September music coming up soon.

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

August 2020 – Part 4

Use My Voice – Evanescence

Amy Lee is a musician I would want around for a long time. The sound of her voice (which can be mournful, aggressive, rageful and happy) always gets me interested and the messages in the songs are genuine.

Relationships are difficult and they become even more difficult when one side tries to force their personality onto the other, speaking for them and even questioning them in a negative way in front of others.

Use your voice people, don’t suppress it. Its special and unique to you. This applies to everything in life and not just to relationships. Because no one is entitled to speak for you except you.

Space – Biffy Clyro

This band is hit and miss for me. They have me interested, then they lose me and then they get me again.

And this song has me back again about having a space in your heart for the special someone who is in and out of your life.

Maybe It’s Time – Sixx AM with guests

I liked this song when it appeared on their 2016 album “Prayers For The Blessed”.

It’s been redone now with a lot of guest vocalists to raise awareness of addiction and recovery.

“When I was young, I was dumb”

Indestructible. 

Getting old was never in my thoughts. 

Jumping out of moving cars, getting drunk and generally mucking around, sometimes dangerously, was bred out of pure boredom.

And not of all of us got out alive. People committed suicide and others got addicted to drugs, living a hard life right now with shakes and aliens in the fridge. 

“Maybe it’s time to deal with the pieces in my life”

There has to be a reawakening, a turning point. Some people believe they need to help you see it, but I believe you need to get to that point yourself.

For me, it was lying in a hospital bed with my foot broken and my face bruised and bleeding because I was drunk and jumped out of a moving car. I just had surgery to insert screws and a long road to recovery.

Cruel Hands Of Time – Tygers Of Pan Tang

It’s a crazy world we live in when “Tygers Of Pan Tang” are putting out some of their best music. Guitarist Robb Weir is the only original member left from the 80s.

The riffage on this song is straight from the Sunset strip and I’m pretty sure it’s from the fingers of Michael Crystal who has been in the band since 2013 and vocalist Jacopo Meille has some nice pipes, so the melodies are infectious.

Talk To Me – Apocalyptica with Lzzy Hale

These dudes from Finland have been on my radar since they covered Metallica songs on the cellos. And they have done everything, from the covers, the instrumental originals and the vocal originals.

This time they have Lzzy Hale, the best rock voice.

Satellites – Andy James

That chorus lead melody that kicks in at about the minute mark is emotive and the harmonies just add a nice complexity to it.

One of the best instrumental guitarists right now.

World On Fire – Daughtry

It’s so good to have Daughtry knocking on the door of hard rock again. He’s angry and the addictive melody is perfect over the aggressive guitar riffs.

Stressed out, head trauma, took a beating

Life is already difficult from our own doing and the trauma we inflict on ourselves with our thoughts and feelings So when society gets a hold of us, we are even more beaten down, shaped and moulded.

But we find ways to survive, to move on.

The final part to August 2020 is coming up.

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

June 2020 – Part 1

Beautiful
Bodies For The Bones
Die Trying featuring Shaun Morgan
Sweet Forgiveness
Art of Dying

These songs are from their “Demos and Rarities” lockdown release. I’ve been in and out of love with this band.

“Beautiful” is in the similar vein to their “Vices And Virtues” album in sound and theme. It’s the style I like.

“Bodies For The Bones” is super down tuned for heaviness. I don’t like this style. While the music sits super low which I’m not a fan of, the vocal melodies sit in the upper registry and drive the song.

“Die Trying” is one of my favourite cuts. This one features Shaun Morgan from Seether. Remember them. Seether came onto my radar almost 15 plus year ago when they did a song with Amy from Evanescence for “The Punisher” movie. A ballad called “Broken”.

“If it takes forever I would die trying”

The ethos of a lifer trying to make something from their life, to meet their definition of success and happiness.

And that’s the important element here, it’s your definition, that defines you. Don’t try to fit in to other people’s definitions.

“Sweet Forgiveness” has a haunting acoustic riff.

“Come take me out of here, I’m at the end of my rope, there’s nowhere to go”

There is always somewhere to go. Pick up the phone, talk to someone, catch up for a coffee and keep talking. There is always someone who wants to listen.

Darker Thoughts
Ghosts
Ending Days
Paradise Lost

This one-way street you’re on
You’ll never be fulfilled
And this one way street you’re on
Is gonna get you killed

That vocal melody. It’s haunting.

With inner peace gone, you pray
All those darker thoughts are coming back to stay
With inner peace gone you’ve paid
All those darker thoughts are coming back to stay

And then the violins kick in, over a grinding dirgey riff, while the “Godless are sworn to kill, Annihilation” is barked out.

Let’s chuck in an emotive pentatonic minor lead to finish it off.

On The Run Again
Chrome Division

The way this song starts off with the acoustic delta like blues riff, which morphs into a head banging distortion riff. It’s been played before, it’s been heard before, but I still like it.

Dual (featuring Matt Guillory)
Ultra City
Andy James

Instrumental music at its best.

In the 80’s, it got to a stage where the instrumental songs would be just a power chord and a million notes in the bar. Then another power chord and then another million notes. There was hardly any riffs and it became pretty bland. Because once you’ve heard one artist doing it from Shrapnel, you would have heard em all.

But these days, the instrumental players, write a song first, with awesome riffage and then decorate it with great melodic lead breaks.

Andy James is up there for me, with players like John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, George Lynch, John Sykes, Yngwie Malmsteen and Marty Friedman.

Leave It Alone
Signals Gone
Blacktop Mojo

This band deserves more attention. One of the best hard rock bands out there at the moment.

Far Enough Away
Trapt

They are doing Daughtry better than what Daughtry is doing right now. There is something special about an acoustic guitar, drums, bass and a good vocal melody, with some synth strings thrown in.

Death Diviner
Soilwork

The riff.

A cross between “Schism” from Tool and Soilwork’s signature groove.

Bjorn Strid takes the clean melodic highway on vocals and a classic Soilwork song is born.

That Chorus.

The riff again.

Press play and enjoy.

When All Is Said And Done
Aldo Nova

I didn’t expect this kind of cut from Aldo Nova.

And I like how artists can still surprise me.

This is bluesy, groovy and heavy. If you like the work that Glenn Hughes did with Black Country Communion, then you will like this.

Revelation
Riders Of The Light
Highway To Paradise
Lorelei
From A Whisper To A Scream
Final Hour
Gathering Of Kings

This band’s new take on an old sound is just to my liking. This is album number 2.

“Revelation” sets my mind time machine to 1984/85 and that beautiful melodic rock coming from an excellent band called Y&T.

And if you like tunes like that, then you’ll like this project, a gathering of Nordic musos who want to create.

All Of My Life
The Road
Highway
Between Good And Bad
When She Cries
Mike Tramp

I’ve always enjoyed Mike Tramp’s voice. With the last few solo releases, his lyrics are exceptional and they resonate on this album, “Second Time Around”.

He sold his heart and soul for rock and roll in “All Of My Life”.

He looked ahead on “The Road” that broke him, made him, turned his tears to smiles, brought him home again and the road he never wants to end.

He saw life come and go so fast on a “Highway” as he went for a ride and never looked back, finding love, finding heartache, finding highs and crashing lows.

Loving You Is A Dirty Job
Easy Come Easy Go
Intensity
Lost In The Dark
Back
Victims Of Desire
Built To Please
Passion

Passion covers most of the 80’s/early 90’s sounds and releases from bands.

Kiss. Its covered.

Keel. It’s covered.

Ratt. Its covered.

Steelheart. Its covered.

Skid Row. Its covered.

Hurricane. Its covered.

Winger. It’s covered.

2020
Vandenberg

The whole album is stellar.

It gives me this feeling of when I listened to Bad Company, Rainbow (Dio fronted), Led Zeppelin, Scorpions, Deep Purple (Coverdale/Hughes version), Whitesnake and Black Sabbath (Dio fronted).

Each day is a different favourite.

“Ride Like The Wind” reminds of “Gates Of Babylon” from Rainbow. That’s my favourite today.

Yesterday, it was the Bad Company sounding “Hell and High Water”.

The day before it was the “Bad Boys” sounding “Light Up The Sky”.

Tomorrow it could be “Shout”, which reminds me of “Slow And Easy” on steroids, with a driving beat. Especially that section after the solo, when it’s just drums, and Romero is singing, “Get Up And Shout”. Even “I Love It Loud” comes to mind.

There is the “Fool For Your Loving” inspired “Shitstorm” with a David Coverdale like vocal that has been my go to track.

Or the Richie Blackmore inspired “Shadows Of The Night”.

“Let It Rain” reminds of Bonfire.

And my favourite track “Skyfall” closes the album.

And apart from the excellent riffage and song construction, the lead breaks are superb, song within song moments.

And the band is excellent.

Part 2 coming up.

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

May 2020 – Part 3

December
Highway To Paradise
Gathering Of Kings

I really need to sink my ears into this album and learn more about the project because even though their brand of melodic rock is derivative, I like it.

On their debut album, it had a lot of guest vocalists, and because Bjorn Strid from Soilwork and The Night Flight Orchestra was involved, I was interested.

These tracks are from the follow up.

The Shift
10 Years

I’ve been a long time fan of 10 Years.

There form of groove rock, which in the beginning, had a nod to Tool but in a concise 4 minute package, got me interested.

And since then, they have kept on morphing into a unique rock band.

Darker Thoughts
Ghosts
Paradise Lost

I became a fan with the “Draconian Times” album and then they lost me with their Depeche Mode style album in the late 90’s.

Since the start of the 2010’s they have started to creep back in. “Darker Thoughts” is sombre, as it percolates with just an acoustic guitar, violins and cellos. Then it kicks in, and that riff from 2.18.

House On Fire
Asking Alexandria

This band did a covers EP once, and they had songs from artists I grew up with.

For example, on the “Life Gone Wild” EP from 2010, they covered “18 And Life” and “Youth Gone Wild” frim Skid Row.

Then in 2012 they dropped another EP called “Under The Influence: A Tribute To The Legends Of Hard Rock” which had, “Separate Ways” from Journey, “Kick Start My Heart” from Motley Crue, “Here I Go Again” from Whitesnake and “Hysteria” from Def Leppard.

This track is from their new album and its different, bordering on the sounds of “Imagine Dragons” in the verses with a massive Chorus, which gets the foot tapping.

Check it out.

Uninvited
Earshot

“Earshot” is another band that found a niche combining the angst of bands like Korn with the progressiveness of Tool, into concise 4 to 5 minute rock songs. This was between 2004 and 2008. Then they disappeared, while similar bands like 10 Years and Chevelle kept on going.

“Uninvited” is a great return.

And I’m interested.

It has this epic, Middle Eastern/Arabic feel as it percolates and rumbles through, with a kicking guitar solo.

The following songs, I have already written about on some of the Release Day Friday playlist posts.

Make It Out Alive
Tell Me How You Really Feel
Trapt

The cover for “Make It Out Alive” is a skull with the American flag painted/engraved into the bone, wearing a gas mask all on a black background. It’s a great piece of art and the song portrays that angst.

Dark Necessities
Luca Stricagnoli

This dude can really play an acoustic guitar.

This is a cover of a RHCP song and what you get, is the guitars, the vocal lines, the bass lines and a percussive beat all played on the guitar.

He also has his own special designed acoustic guitar with three necks which allows him to play these songs live.

Watch his YouTube videos to see him in action.

And it was two of those YouTube videos that made me a fan.

“Thunderstruck” and “Fear Of The Dark”.

Watch em and be in awe.

There is so much talent in the world today, that deserves to be heard and seen, the same way guitarists in the 70’s and 80’s were heard and seen. And Luca Stricagnoli is one of those artists.

Prove Me Wrong
Dee Snider

After 40 years in the business, Dee Snider is still proving people wrong. His recent batch of releases, which takes a stab at modern pop rock with “We Are The Ones” and modern groove metal with “For The Love Of Metal” has returned him to the throne of the black sheep’s, the SMF’s.

And “Prove Me Wrong” has a foot stomping metal riff that could make it on a Metallica album with Dee at his metal best.

Atlas Falls
Shinedown

I am a fan of Shinedown.

Their last two albums moved away from the hard rock sounds that got me into em, but they have enough goodwill in my book, for me to remain a fan, plus they had enough tracks on the last two releases to keep me interested.

So when this track was released, a left over from the “Amaryllis” album released in 2012, I was hooked, because this is the Shinedown I like.

Skyfall
Vandenberg

This tune just smoulders, like those epic 70’s tracks from Rainbow and Deep Purple.

Yep, that’s the vibe I get, a Ritchie Blackmore vibe.

Invasion
Haken

The vocal delivery reminds me of Styx and the sounds in the first minute are like an 80s video game.

Musically, it ticks all the boxes for me.

And just like that, they are back in my life as I became one in 2016, then I was on the fence in 2018 and now I’m back.

Voices
Long Distance Calling

They have no singing, it’s all instrumental, but instrumental music built on a groove or a riff and they just keep building it with derivative versions of the same riff.

You need to listen to it, to understand what I mean.

Change For The Better
FM

I knew about FM from the 90’s but never heard anything from em. And in the 2010’s they started to come into my life.

And then they really came on my radar because of “Shot In The Dark”, the song which is known as an “Ozzy” song.

You see, Phil Soussan wrote that song while he was in a band called Wildlife with the Overland brothers (before FM was created). According to the Overland brothers, they helped develop a lot of the concepts and progressions and lyrical melodies, including the keys for “Shot In The Dark”. But they didn’t get the credit and even questioned what Ozzy Osbourne actually did to the song to get a credit.

So they re-recorded the version they had done with Soussan back in the Wildlife days as a bonus track to their 2016 EP.

Give it a listen on Spotify and or go on YouTube.

And as Wikipedia states, “this authorship issue has become a source of contention over the years, and in spite of its success, the song has rarely appeared on Ozzy Osbourne greatest hits compilations as a result.”

As for “Change For The Better”, it’s a mix of Journey and Toto when they used to rock a little bit.

Blackened 2020
Metallica

It was great to see James Hetfield again on the YouTube video of this.

And what a comeback song for him, with a pretty cool acoustic rewrite in the Ennio Morricone style for one of their most progressive and powerful tracks.

To me, the “Justice” album is an unbelievable record. I don’t care that the bass is missing and that the guitar sound has too many mids or the drums sound too compressed. Because a great song is a great song regardless and the “Justice” album has a lot of great songs.

And man, didn’t “One” really shake up MTV.

For a band that didn’t do any clips, they did two versions, one with the film footage and the other with just the band performing in the warehouse. Suddenly you had a million kids buying a double bass drum kit and off they went to practice the double kick “landmine” section.

But “Blackened” opened the album and it’s 7/4 time signature for the intro riff grabbed me by the throat instantly.

“Termination (termination)”

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

April 2020 – Part 4

The final post for April 2020.

Here is the Spotify link to all of it. Here are posts 1 and 2 and 3 which talk about new music in April.

And here are the songs from the first three months (Jan to Mar) who are still doing the rounds in April.

Circle The Drain
Machine Head

Up until last year, Machine Head had four members. Then drummer Dave McClain and guitarist Phil Demmel left. Actually they already left, but then committed to finishing off the tour as sort of a last farewell. I read some interviews where they said it was like “turning up for the pay check”.

Robb Flynn is the founding member of Machine Head and he continued the band after the departures.

Robb got drummer Chris Kontos and guitarist Logan Mader who played on the MH debut “Burn My Eyes” album (released in 1994) and they (with current Machine Head bassist Jared MacEachern) re-recorded that 94 album live in the studio. This iteration became known as the BME band. Then Robb did an acoustic cover of “Die Young” from Black Sabbath, released it on Spotify and it became my favourite track.

And Machine Head toured. But with two versions of the band. There was the BME band mentioned above and the “Classics” band, with the addition of Waclaw Kieltyka on guitar and Matt Alston on drums.

So the “Classics” band would play all the Machine Head classics, and then the “Classics” band would go off and the “Burn My Eyes” band would come to play that album in its entirety.

From a new song perspective, he dropped two songs with different musicians (yep different from the dudes mentioned above). I couldn’t even keep track of who is who and I like looking at the credits.

I didn’t like “Do Or Die”, but I do like “Circle The Drain” and I enjoyed watching the making of videos. I like how it all came together and how a conversation with a friend about his relationship “circling the drain” finally nailed the title down. The drummer on “Circle The Drain” is Navene Koperweis.

It’s a great song and when Robb Flynn sings melodically, it’s a pretty cool moment. I still remember when I was watching the making of “Through The Ashes of Empires” album in 2003, and Robb Flynn is playing an acoustic guitar and playing Tesla’s “Love Song”. And I was like F yeah”. This dude knows his shit.

Feeling Whitney
Royal Bliss

It’s a cover of a Post Malone song about addictions and looking for that fix. The Post Malone version has more of a “Dust In The Wind” acoustic feel, while Royal Bliss turn it into a modern rock song.

Running Up That Hill
Naked City
Jorn

These two cover songs from Jorn would probably never go out of this playlist. The Kate Bush cover about making a deal with God to swap places is excellent and“Naked City” is one of my favourite cuts from the “Dynasty” album.

Come Clean
H.E.A.T

The Chorus on this song is so catchy.

Lyrically it’s not the best, about moving on to other partners but he can’t stop thinking about his ex. But the melody and the execution is excellent, and it’s melodic rock so who cares about the lyrical message.

Because Of You
Storm Force

I love the keys in the start, the nod to “The Who” as an influence and the major key 70’s feel of the verses.

And when the Chorus rolls around, it seals the deal.

Because of you I will climb a little higher

There is always someone there, who has your back, mentoring and supporting you. Remember that and never feel alone. It could be a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, a friend, a mentor.

Aeromantic album
The Night Flight Orchestra

Yep, the whole album is still doing the rounds.

“Transmissions”, “Aeromantic”, “Taurus”, “Carmencita Seven” and “Dead Of Winter” kept getting a lot of listens this month.

That’s not to say that the other tracks like “Divinyls”, “If Tonight Is Our Only Chance”, “Sister Mercurial”, “Servants Of The Air”, “Golden Swansdown”, “This Boy’s Last Summer” or “Curves” are no good. Because based on my mood anyone of them would become my favourite for a day.

Mr Big Shot
Collateral

This song reminds me so much of the songs from Skid Row’s self-titled debut and it just keeps getting spins from me. And it’s also from the debut album of Collateral.

Since this song has been four months in my playlist, I thought I should find out more.

Clicking on their bio on their website, it tells me, “Ripped jeans, cowboy boots, long hair and make-up, Collateral are a band that look and sound like a stadium rock band”. I know most stadium bands didn’t wear ripped jeans and cowboy boots, but hey, who cares, its rock and roll so let’s go with that imagery.

I think I have mentioned before that Collateral are from South East Kent in the U.K.

Remember a time when the UK led the way for rock and roll, with Cream, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, Free, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Steppenwolf, Slade, Mott The Hoople and David Bowie. And then the U.K did it again in the 80’s with the NWOBHM and New Wave.

Maybe the modern streaming age is seeing another revival. Sweden definitely has something special happening with their many different scenes focusing on different styles of rock and metal, like melodic rock, hard rock, progressive rock/metal, thrash metal and death metal. UK bands have also made their way into my playlists and my headspace as well.

Let’s see where it all goes.

Aftershock
Swallowed By The Machine
The Death Of Me
Harem Scarem

There are a lot of good cuts on Harem Scarem’s album and the guitar playing from Pete Lesperance is excellent. “Swallowed By The Machine” at this point in time and for the mood I am in, is getting a lot of attention.

We’re falling into dystopia
It’s crumbling before our eyes
Black mirror reflecting all our lives

I love technology, I work in technology and I am careful to switch off and not let those black mirror devices take control every single minute of the day.

Days of judgement upon us
Broken and demoralized
March into the vortex single file

It’s like a dystopian movie, where the human race is lined up, like cattle, waiting for their turn to walk into confusion and dizziness.

Because it feels like the world tries to do that.

With so much information at our fingertips, we don’t know what to click on and read sometimes. Every story has a point of view of the writer, and they are laced with some facts, a little bit of lies and a little bit of fiction. And then people try to pass it off as “truth”.

We all have dreams, we all have doubts
Be careful which you feed
And don’t get swallowed by the machine

Feed the correct hunger and walk the road you want to walk.

Watching “The Last Dance” and seeing those years roll by, man, it brings back some crossroads decisions. I can’t dispute the decisions made, because I am here today, with a wife and three kids. And I am content, happy.

I have no doubt that if I made a different decision, I wouldn’t have what I have today and I probably wouldn’t be in the same place mentally. But I still wonder, what if because the machine still rolls on, beckoning me to step inside.

Fake News
Turn The Light On
Shakra

The intro riff on “Fake News” reminds me of that GNR and Skid Row swagger.

And it’s good to hear these kind of influences, because Shakra (from Switzerland) are a band which defines the meaning of perseverance and grit.

Imagine a hard rock band, being formed in 1995, when the Grunge movement was on a decline and Industrial Metal like Ministry and NIN was becoming a thing, Tool was still a relatively unknown band, as “Aenima” was a few years away from being released and Korn was a few years away from their breakthrough and the start of the Nu-Metal movement.

25 years in the business and twelve albums down. Not bad at all.

Bubbles
Framing Hanley

These guys started off in 2005. They got signed and released two albums on a record label in 2007 and 2010. The band left their label and created a Kickstarter campaign for the next album, by asking their fans to donate a dollar.

That album is “The Sum Of Who We Are”, released in 2014.

They went on a break for three years between 2015 and 2018. And finally they have a new album out in 2020 and the song “Bubbles” just refuses to go away.

I Can’t Be The Only One
Killswitch Engage

I like Killswitch Engage.

The riffs are a cross between melodic rock, hard rock, heavy metal and groove metal. On occasions there are thrash and black metal riffs and a nod to Sweden’s metal scene around 1992 to 1998.

The vocals move between screamed and melodic. And screaming the way they do, it takes a toll on the vocal chords.

During the album making, vocalist Jesse Leach had to have throat surgery to remove a polyp and then 3 months of speech, vocal and scream therapy. And no vocalist wants to hear, that there could be a chance they could never sing again.

And you know how much I hate labels. Here is what Jesse Leach said on the issue of being classed as Metalcore in an interview at the excellent Consequence of Sound website.

“You know how genres go. That term has been so bastardized, I don’t even know what it means. When I think of Killswitch, I don’t think metalcore, I think metal, in general. I get people gotta categorize it, I get that, but you ask me, I don’t know, because I don’t even listen to metalcore. We came from the hardcore scene. We were hardcore kids who were into metal. That’s where the ‘metalcore’ came.”

This is an alternate edit from the track released on 2019’s “Atonement” album. And I really like the below lyrics.

Divided we’ve become, this fight has just begun
But I can’t be the only one
Together we overcome with a truth they can’t outrun
But I can’t be the only one

United we overcome

“Habit” by Adelitas Way, “All Eyes On You” by Smash Into Pieces, “The First Time” by Khymera, “Shadowman” by One Desire, “Broken” by FM and “Fly Like An Eagle”, “Legacy” and “Lay Me Down” from In This Moment are also getting spins.

And that’s it for my April listening. It’s only taken me half a month to complete.

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

Sign Of The Times

It was a Metal Hammer magazine in 1989 which had a two page interview with a young German guitarist called Axel Rudi Pell.

I thought what a cool name. The interview was all about his debut album, “Wild Obsession” released in 1989

And I had this “buy list” that I kept in my wallet of records to buy, so I added it to the list. But I never found it available and I never ordered it. And he kept releasing albums and he kept appearing in the European magazines. The U.S and Aussie mags gave him no love and neither did any of the Guitar mags, but the Metal Hammers’ and Kerrangs’ did.

And I kept reading of the albums he kept making, like “Nasty Reputation” released in 91 with Rob Rock on vocals and the albums between 1992 and 1997 which had Jeff Scott Soto on vocals. And I kept adding his albums to the “buy list” and then I stopped.

In 1998, Johnny Gioeli joined on vocals and never left. Remember Hardline and its debut album with Neal Schon, Deen Castronovo and the Gioeli brothers. Yep that same dude. He has done 13 studio albums with Axel Rudi Pell, plus Hardline albums and Crush 40 albums for video games. If you want a hard worker in the music business, Johnny Gioeli is one.

Keeping a stable vocalist has made me a fan of ARP’s works, because he’s unlike other hot shot guitarists who just kept changing singers with each album. Actually only two come to mind at the moment, in Malmsteen and Lynch.

So I’m listening to the new album, “Sign Of The Times” and I don’t know if it’s the mood I am in, or the quarantine for the last 10 weeks, but this album is hitting all the spots for me. Every single song has something which connects.

Like in “Gunfire”, the song reminded me of Motorhead in the riffs, and you had Gioeli pulling out some cool metal vocals and then the guitar solo started and it just kept going and I kept banging that head and I was in love with the song.

“Bad Reputation” is all major key and it’s got that summertime love feel. This could have come from an ELO album, or an early Whitesnake, or Bad Company album, or even Sweet. Hell, Kiss covered this style on “Dynasty” and “Unmasked”.

The Choir voices and the violins kick off “Sign Of The Times” but when the distorted riff comes in on its own, it’s like “Heaven And Hell” and Gioeli is singing about “being on our way to better times”, and it’s got Dio all over it.

“Looking down on the ashes, we are moving on to a new world”

If you call this an unprecedented time, a time of ashes, then we hope to be moving to a new world. Time will tell how we navigate these uncharted waters.

And for all the heaviness of the song with its riffage, the guitar solo section is just drums, keyboards and bass. No rhythm guitar. It’s exactly how it will sound live and of course ARP doesn’t disappoint in the lead.

“The End Of The Line” just rolls along at about 140bpm and my foot is tapping and Gioeli is telling us that “we are running out of time”.

Any song with a title like “As Blind As A Fool Can Be” just screams epic. Before the song even started I was already thinking, “All The Fools Sailed Away”, “Blindman”, “Soldier Of Fortune”, “Sailing Ships” and “When A Blindman Cries”. And it rolls along like any ballad should.

On “Wings Of The Storm” (I know, it’s an overused title), the world gets weirder every day, so Gioeli is looking to fly far away on the wings of the storm. And the riffage by ARP is exactly how it should be. It’s got this bluesy feel in the verses, but it’s still metal. And when the Chorus kicks in, the riffs are excellent but Gioeli is the star with the vocal performance.

And no ARP song is complete without a minute and a half guitar solo. There’s actually two of em on this one. In the middle and in the outro.

“Waiting For Your Call” sounds like an awesome Scorpions song that Scorpions didn’t write.

“Into The Fire” (another overused title, I know) has this groove which reminds of “Kashmir” and “Egypt(The Chains Are On)”. And of course, the solo is worthy for a track which closes the album.

Listening to this album and hearing Gioeli on vocals has got me thinking that I really need to go back and listen to the Hardline albums I haven’t heard since the first album, which happens to be a lot albums.

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Dream On

Another artist / songwriter / producer that is represented on Revolution Saints debut album from 2015 is Erik Martensson, who is also the guitarist for the Swedish melodic rock band Eclipse.

“Dream On” is probably not the best title to use since those two words together are associated with a song about looking in the mirror and the lines on your face not getting clearer by a band from Boston called Aerosmith.

Anyway.

“Dream On” is a better derivative version of “Back On My Trail” and it really brings back memories of Night Ranger.

“Dream On” has a committee of songwriters.

Music is written by Erik Martensson (along with Finish-Swedish songwriter Johan Becker and Kristofer Becker. Lyrics are written by Martensson, J. Becker, K. Becker, Alessandro Del Vecchio and Jack Blades.

Man, that intro riff puts me right back into the 80’s. Those dreams of youthful innocence. And it’s got all of the cliches in the lyrics from the 80s and I like it.

For all the young and the innocent
For those who long who you are to catch their falling star
I guess you know who you are

I wonder what kind of dreams the youth have today.

In the 80s it was a rite of passage to get your drivers license and get a car like it’s a badge of honor. Then it morphed to tech devices.

The kids are more than happy to drive their parents car because it’s all about their social media status and the latest tech they have and gaming online. Car markers are challenged trying to get younger buyers who actually care about the environment, something which the car makers don’t care about to actually buy a car.

For all the strong sticking to their guns
For all the ones that wave their flags up high
Comes a time to make it or break it

I was always told that if you don’t make it by a certain age focus on Plan B. It’s the worst advice ever. Because no journey is the same. Every person has a destination in mind, and they need to be flexible with the route.

When times get tough just don’t dare to stop

It’s when a lot of people quit.

Something has steered them away from their goal. It could be a relationship break up or an argument or a rejection for a project they were working on. And it sets something off, like their not good enough. But everyone is good enough, it all depends on how much determination a person has to push through the lulls.

And the lead break from Doug Aldrich is quality. Hear it, experience it and play air guitar to it.

Another song to check out which also has Erik Mårtensson co-writing on this debut is “How to Mend a Broken Heart” (Originally recorded by Eclipse).

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Locked Out Of Heaven

The debut Revolution Saints album was number 5 on my 2015 list. And they just released their 3rd album this year.

Revolution Saints is a supergroup of musicians who have been around for a long time.

Deen Castronovo (was discovered by Neal Schon and was then given a chance to play in Bad English by Schon) is on drums and vocals. It was a shame that a few months after this album was released, he was in the press for all of the wrong reasons. He even lost his Journey drumming gig because of it.

Doug Aldrich can shred and he helped prolong the careers of artists like Dio and Whitesnake, while Jack Blades has a stellar resume with Night Ranger, Damn Yankees and writing songs for other artists with Tommy Shaw. But the star of the album is an Italian songwriter called Allessandro Del Vecchio. He’s like the Desmond Child or Jim Vallance or Max Martin for Frontiers Records president Serafino Perugiono.

And “Locked Out of Paradise” is written solely by Alessandro Del Vecchio. There is a live version of the song on the “Light In The Dark” deluxe version, which shows the power of the song.

The palm muted intro for the first 20 seconds and then the power chords come crashing in with metronome drum rolls precision from Castronovo supplementing the build into the verses.

From about 38 seconds we are into the verse. Its rocking, its melodic and it builds nicely into the pre-chorus and that tasty arena rock chorus.

“We’ve been locked out of paradise, we lost our battle to survive”

Paradise is this elusive utopian refuge we try to get to. But we can’t quantify it or measure how far we need to go to get there, so we keep chasing it. My view to get there, is drip by drip, little steps at a time and trying to make each day, each week, each year, each decade better than the previous.

“Bring your heart to me, what do you touch?, I’m just a man with a hope”

Because in the end all we do is hope. We feel that our expectations and desires for a particular thing to happen are getting closer to the event. So we keep hoping. Some keep praying. And we keep going.

For the debut album, the songs were already written by other writers, so all Aldrich had to do was learn the riffs, put his unique spin on them and then work out what he needed to do for the solos.

Which are quality.

The lead break for this song is well-structured and well thought out, as Aldrich pulls out various techniques from his arsenal. It starts off melodically, builds nicely and ends with a guitar acapella two bar shred fest before moving back into the song.

By the end, I am pressing repeat just to hear that intro again and that guitar solo.

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