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

Joel Hoekstra 13 – Running Games

I was interested to hear this but I didn’t think I would have liked it as much as I did.

It’s excellent.

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 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.

The musicians for the album 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.

It feels like the 70s ethos, when you see so many guys from different bands jamming together and releasing music.

I was reading some of the interviews Hoekstra did when the album come out and fuck there are some shit interviewers out there, who just do the simple Wikipedia style of interview without even listening to the album.

But the one at “The Rock Pit” is what an interview is about. The interviewer actually listened to the album, liked it and wanted to know more about it. And you get exactly that.

“Finish Line”

“We Rock” from Dio is merged with “I’ll See The Light Tonight” from Malmsteen for the Intro riff and I’m all in.

And that Chorus. Wow. What a hook!

Make sure to check out the lead break as Hoekstra is doing his eight finger tapping.

“I’m Gonna Lose It”

I like the Intro lead. It reminds me of Thin Lizzy.

And just before the Chorus, there is a little snippet of a riff that gets me thinking of “A Touch Of Madness” from Night Ranger.

The lead break again. Wow.

Over at Glide Magazine, Hoekstra said He came up with the song out at Hook City at the Whitesnake studio.

“Hard To Say Goodbye”

The Chorus feels like a Joe Lynn Turner Rainbow Chorus.

“How Do You”

It’s slower and groovy, more in the vein of Adrenaline Mob in the verses with a Euro classical inspired Chorus.

“Heart Attack”

It is a bluesy groovy cut.

“Fantasy”

It feels like ZZ Top added some Metal to their sound in the Intro, and the verses are massive, Kashmir like.

Their is a keyboard solo and then Hoekstra breaks loose.

“Lonely Days”

What a melodic rock Chorus. I’m a sucker for these.

“Reach For the Sky”

Cliched and overused song title.

In an interview over at The Rock Pit, Hoekstra mentions how he wrote the riff on the Whitesnake Tour Bus. Inspiration strikes all the time.

“Cried Enough For You”

It feels like a Y&T cut from the “Black Tiger” album in the acoustic sections before it moves to an Iron Maiden like old school groove.

“Take What’s Mine”

The fast guitar lead and machine gun riff to start off the song gets me to pay attention, but it’s the verse riff that makes me pick up the guitar and bang my head to.

And there’s another anthemic Chorus.

“Running Games”

It feels like a Toto cut.

“Lay Down Your Love”

It feels like ZZ Top has come to town.

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

Check it out.

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

Australian Method Series: Jimmy Barnes – Two Fires

“I’d been caught between two fires for a long time. One was the inferno that I had built with my success and addictions. The other was the fire that burned for my family”

It’s how Chapter 33 called “out of control like a bushfire” started from the “Working Class Man” book.

“Two Fires” is his fourth studio album released in 1990 and his first United States release for Atlantic Records.

This was the last proper attempt to break Barnes to the U.S market, as previous label partnerships with Elektra and Geffen for the earlier records fell apart due to various reasons.

It was also the first step away from the AOR sounding “Freight Train Heart”. Most of the song writing credits this time are shared by the band and unknown writers instead of Desmond Child, Jonathan Cain and Diane Warren.

“Lay Down Your Guns”

The album gave Barnesy a chance to work with some great players like Brian Setzer from The Stray Cats who plays guitar on this.

A sinister crime noir “Peter Gunn” style riff kicks it off. The song is written by Jimmy Barnes and Rick Nowels.

Nowels was still in his early days of becoming a huge songwriter. His credits now include Adele, Lana Del Rey and many more. Just go to his Wikipedia page.

Lay down your guns and surrender

“Let’s Make It Last All Night”

Very Foreigner sounding, the Chorus is massive as you would expect from a song written by Barnes, Diane Warren and Desmond Child.

It was also a hit in Australia and it’s a staple of his live show.

Let’s make it last all night
This could be the last time I make love to you

“Little Darling”

A Barnes composition with Setzer on guitar again bringing some rockabilly to a soul rock tune.

Well I get to your house
Like the rest of the band
But somehow these things don’t always turn out as planned
You called me a cab and yeah I walked out that door

Barnesy talks about this event in his book. he thought he messed up his chance with his future wife.

“Love Is Enough”

It’s got a feel like “Every Breath You Take” in the verses, just more rockier.

“Hardline”

It’s a hard rock track and one of the best on the album.

Well it’s late at night something just ain’t right
I can tell by the look in your eye
You don’t say two words
You got a stare that burns
It’s gonna be a long long night

“One of a Kind”

Another rocker with hard rock lyrics.

Tight skirts, like a flirt
She don’t stop till it starts to hurt
She’s sweet, what a treat
Got to get her into my back seat

Mmmm. Flirt with skirt with hurt and sweet with treat and backseat. Overused terms but I would not have it any other way.

“Sister Mercy”

Cause a woman’s got the power
To take control of me
Well she can wrap me round her finger
And make a damn fool of me

The blues songs from the 1930s had lyrics like this. That’s how much staying power the blues medium had.

“When Your Love is Gone”

A great ballad. The sound is dated as it uses a lot of 80s sounding midis.

Well, I missed all the signs, never read between lines

And the Barnesy kids make an appearance in the outro.

“Between Two Fires”

A track written by Barnes and Holly Knight.

As you would expect, it’s anthemic and melodic rock.

The Intro and verses riff remind me of “Rocking In The Free World”. And the Chorus soars.

Caught between two fires
Losing control since I first met you

“Fade to Black”

This is a great rock song. Forgotten behind the hits.

When day fades to black
I won’t look back, of that I’m certain

When you just want to escape the rat race for the night.

I wanna get of this one way street
Don’t want to be among the faceless

“Hold On”

It sounds like a track from “Out Of This World” by Europe. With a bit of Led Zeppelin thrown in.

Like most albums of the time, the labels held the power, so they made artists write and write and write.

Barnes wrote over 30 tracks for the album with a lot of em still unreleased and some as B-sides to the singles.

And the fans rallied behind him once again, sending the album to number 1 on two separate occasions and making it 6x Platinum.

And that elusive break through into the US market still remained elusive.

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

1986 – Part 2.1: Yngwie Malmsteen – Trilogy

A guitarist in a band I was in, worshipped Yngwie. And he sort of pissed me off, strutting around like he was elite, making fun of all others who didn’t like Yngwie and because of him, I hated Yngwie to start off. I wouldn’t give in and say anything positive about Yngwie to him.

It wasn’t until I left the band, that I gave Yngwie some time. And when I heard the albums “Marching Out” and “Trilogy” I was hooked. Good music is good music and good riffs are good riffs.

And “Trilogy” is full of good riffs and good leads and I still class “Marching Out” as one of “the” metal albums of the 80’s.

It would become a normal thing for each Yngwie release, but I was pretty bummed when the singer from the “Marching Out” record, Jeff Scott Soto was out, replaced by Mark Boals. Then I was bummed when Boals was replaced by Joe Lynn Turner and bummed again when Turner was replaced by an unknown Swede called Goran Edman.

I guess the singer problem is solved now, as Yngwie can’t really fire himself.

Malmsteen gets a lot of praise here, but let’s not forget Boals on vocals, a cross between Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillian.

“You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget”

A great opener.

The riff is simple and the keys give it a melodic rock tone.

For me the piece d resistance is the G# diminished arpeggio lead between the verse and the chorus. Its so fun to play and it connects the two sections.

And the lead break is one of Yngwie’s best. He shreds but it’s perfect for the song as he doesn’t overplay, full of melody, scalar runs and sweeps.

At 3.20, just after the solo, it goes into a slow breakdown and it builds up again into the Chorus.

And while the chorus melody keeps going, Malmsteen is wailing away in the background.

“Liar”

It’s a very Euro sounding riff. Early Europe had songs like this.

It’s more like Uli Jon Roth Scorpions merged with Blackmore’s “Speed King” and “Highway Star”.

In the verses and chorus, Malmsteen jams on a pedal point, embellishing it with scalar runs on the 4th or 8th bar of the riff, while the keys and bass outline a chord progression.

“Queen In Love”

The intro riff immediately got me to grab my guitar and attempt to learn it. It’s a great head banging riff in Em to jam to.

The sweep-picked diminished arpeggios before the main solo are excellent and fun (also frustrating) to learn. And the main solo is also one of his best.

“Crying”

An instrumental.

There is an acoustic guitar which outlines a sad rhythm, guitar track, while another acoustic guitar plays a classical like lead over it.

Eventually it morphs into an electric lead break but it wasn’t needed.

“Fury”

Who would have known that Malmsteen would utter these words many years later while intoxicated on an airplane?

This isn’t a favourite but it is fun to jam to.

“Fire”

The intro is great to play. It feels like it came from the fingers of EVH as its got this major key vibe, sort of like “Dance The Night Away” but don’t think the songs sound alike, they don’t.

Actually the way it moves from A to E, G to D and F to C, the hand placements are more “All Right Now” than anything else.

“Magic Mirror”

The intro.

Its head banging stuff. Malmsteen nailed the combo of metal riffs and keyboard embellishments in this song.

“Everyone is searching for the meaning of our life”.

We still are searching.

“Dark Ages”

Sweden’s Melodic Death Metallers would be proud of this.

Its doomy, heavy and ready to sink wooden ships, in a time when darkness ruled.

“Trilogy Suite Op:5”

I didn’t get why it needed to have Suite Op:5 added.

An instrumental.

While the first part is all shred like and fast classical arpeggios, it’s the middle section which hooked me.

From the 3 minute mark.

You need to hear that movement. Its classical music at its best and Malmsteen showcases his acoustic guitar skills.

Then when the distortion kicks in, it goes into a Uli Jon Roth style of groove, which is the foundation for more shred and a keyboard solo.

Finally, my Metallica and Slayer loving friends, couldn’t get past the album credits which state; “Produced and Conducted by Yngwie Malmsteen”.

Yes that one world, “conducted” was enough to make people not listen to Malmsteen. But if you want to hear some great melodic metal, very Rainbow like, then crank it.

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

Australian Method Series: Riff Raiders – Rock N Roll Daydream

A Hard Rock band from Melbourne.

What a cool name.

“Rock N Roll Daydream” is album number 2. It came out in 2020 on 30th March. By that time Australia had started its COVID-19 lockdown. Their tour from February to April was halted.

Riff Raiders are powerhouse vocalist Jenni Powell, Marty Powell on guitar and production, Ross Hetherington on drums, Josh King on guitars and Ron E. Smith on bass.

Loaded Gun

As soon as the riff kicks in I was hooked. If you like the ZZ Top blues rock and you like how Jake E Lee composed the riffs on Badlands debut, you will like this song.

Stop Looking At Me

A great modern rock tune, more like Stone Temple Pilots (think “Vaseline”), Shinedown and Nu-Metal with an Aerosmith swagger. Yes, it’s possible as Riff Raiders made it possible.

Samantha Jones

It tells the true story of a fan who left a vinyl copy of their first album on a train, and the efforts Sammy J went to to get it back to him. Musically it’s hard rock.

Best Day Ever

It’s a Foo Fighters like tune and I like it.

Light

A cool rock ballad.

When I’m Dreaming

This song reminds of the power and energy of Jet merged with Queens Of The Stone Age. It’s a perfect blend.

Stepping On A Cloud

If you enjoyed that Oasis hard rock period in the 90s then you will like this one. A perfect psychedelic groove for a song about sky diving.

Standing On My Own

It’s got that AC/DC vibe and a familiar vocal melody. A perfect song for the live arena.

Sunset To Sunrise

It’s got that Led Zep III acoustic vibe. Or Whitesnake on their last few studio albums.

Shade

What a slow sleazy groove to kick it off, merging songs like “Still Got The Blues” and “She’s So Heavy“.

Check out the guitar lead. It’s got Gary Moore and Richie Blackmore influences.

A perfect closer for a worthy album that showcases there is a lot more to Australian rock than AC/DC like acts.

And you hear a lot of classic rock influences like Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, The Beatles and Led Zep, and modern rock influences like Oasis, Foo Fighters, Shinedown and Stone Temple Pilots.

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

As Daylight Dies

From Killswitch Engage, released in 2006.

It hasn’t stopped selling.

Not bad for an album that Dutkiewicz once said in a Guitar World interview, “had riffs in it, so he could play and drink beer at the same time”.

Last week it moved 2,000 copies on vinyl. It was already certified Gold in 2009 by the RIAA and the song “My Curse,” was certified Platinum in 2020. At the moment it has over 122 million streams on Spotify.

Howard Jones was on lead vocals with the usual crew of Adam Dutkiewicz on lead guitar, vocals, keyboards and Joel Stroetzel on rhythm guitar. Mike D’Antonio on bass and Justin Foley on drums.

“Daylight Dies” (the song) was also certified Gold in 2009 and their cover of “Holy Diver” was certified Gold in 2020 and at the moment it has over 75 million streams on Spotify.

“This Fire” is at 49.2 million streams. It’s basically “Fixation On The Darkness” just shorter. And it’s used as CM Punks theme song in WWE.

Combining all things great from the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene with the American thrash scene and a nod to hard rock and classic rock bands, “As Daylight Dies” captures it all.

The album kept the band on the road for three years. But it also strained the relationship between Dutkiewicz and Jones, which eventually led to the departure of Jones and the return of original vocalist, Jesse Leach.

If you like your melodic metal then check out tracks like “Arms Of Sorrow” (it has this “Back In The Village” solo section) and “My Curse” (the big radio single) which has aggressive hardcore verses and a massive arena rock Chorus. Make sure you listen to the head banging verse riff.

“For You” moves between some of the darkest, progressive and heaviest riffs in the verses to the most melodic riffs in the Chorus.

Check out the intro to “Break The Silence” and if you’re not a fan of the screaming verses, stick around for the Chorus.

“Reject Yourself” is loaded with a lot of good riffs.

P.S. There is no way you could play the riffs on this album and drink beer at the same time, as there is a lot of LH movement.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard