Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Rockin In The Free World

I’m a great believer that information should be easily obtainable.

Just recently, I heard “Rockin’ in the Free World” again. The last time that I remember hearing that song was on some MTV awards show. It was the one that had Neil Young and Pearl Jam playing it together. Fast forward almost twenty years later and we have a megalomaniac that no one cares about, using the song for a presidential campaign.

If I associate the song with anything that is happening today, it will be about music and how it is free. Back in the nineties it would have had a different meaning.

But let’s look at the title, “Rockin’ In the Free World’.

What does “free world” actually mean these days?

Back in 1989, the free world to me came down to democracy “being free” and communism being “oppressive and restrictive”.

In 2015, Australia, the U.S and the majority of the democratic, free nations, are spying on its citizens for the perceived “greater good”.

In 2015, democratic nations are trying to pass secret bills that the people who voted them in cannot see or know about, however the Corporations that finance their campaigns are allowed to see the bills and ask for changes.

In 2015, democratic nations are imprisoning whistle-blowers who expose their secrets, labelling them as terrorists and dissenters.

In 2015, our courts of justice are overrun with requests for the courts to approve the handover of personal information to the ones who pay the most.

In 2015, copyright is used to suppress free speech.  If you don’t believe me, a court in France has ruled that a magazine violated copyright law.

What did the magazine do that was so bad?

They had an article that showed people how to access illegal sources of music and movie content online.

Isn’t it funny how on the one hand, the “free world” that we know has become restrictive and oppressive while on the other hand, a lot of the information or content that was once restricted, is now free because of people sharing.

People are sharing because they are infringing on a restrictive law called copyright. And the response by the industries affected is to pay politicians a lot of money to write and pass even more restrictive laws.

Even when technology companies like Spotify and Netflix or the pirate sites themselves show our governments that giving customers what they want is better than restrictive legislation, what do our governments do in response?

They pass legislation that is restrictive and oppressive. Australia has now joined other democratic “free world” countries in introducing site blocking legislation in order to keep media companies happy.

Copyright was designed to protect the creator.

However, as the Recording, Book and Movie Industries started to grow, business people came out from their corporate offices and stuck their claws into Copyright. So what we have today is business people defending the copyright monopoly, while they are robbing artists and their fans dry. These same defenders of the copyright monopoly are laughing all the way to the bank while exploiting the system in a legal way.

Seriously, would an artist need a copyright on their works 70 to 90 years after they have died. Of course not, but the companies that built their business on obtaining copyrights sure have a need.

Artists create not because they can make money off it as individuals, but because of who we are. We have been creative creatures from the start of civilisation.

Meanwhile, while the Australian government bends its backside to the legacy media companies, Netflix keeps on making huge inroads in the Australian market, with over 1 million users since its April launch this year. The reason why this number is staggering is that Netflix’s competitors in Australia have about 300,000 users combined.

Surely this is proof that Australians do pay for movies and TV shows if they are provided in a way that is convenient to them. And we are paying for a Netflix subscription that doesn’t have nowhere near the content that the U.S version has. But we still pay, because it allows us to watch their content, when we want to watch it, over and over again.

Not in a time slot like PayTV. Keep on rocking is what I say.

Standard
Music, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Pono Music

It’s all about the instant PAYDAY. At the moment, the Kickstarter campaign for it is over $2.2 million. Neil Young and the Pono team know that their product is for a niche market and they are going to milk it for what it’s worth. High-resolution digital albums at PonoMusic.com are expected to cost between $14.99 -$24.99 and Pono Music can’t even tell the world what their percentage take will be.

If you remember back to 1998, the recording business became famous for saying that no one will be interested in downloading a crappy mp3. Guess they didn’t know how many billions those no ones came too.

Pono is coming at a time when fans of music have decided that YouTube and Spotify are better alternatives. Other fans of music have decided that they are happy with downloading mp3’s (either legally or illegally). And that is what Pono Music fails to understand. The fans of music are in control. If they want to pay, they will. If they want to go to a show, they will.

Pono CEO John Hamm is well-known for being involved in companies that start-up and get bought out by larger companies. That ends up as a big pay-day for him and Pono will be no different, because it is all about the payday and not about satisfying music fans or bringing back the glory days of music or bringing back the soul of music.

Furthermore, Hamm has an agenda as a member of the Grammy Foundation, that works hand in hand with the major labels to promote the recording industry. What about telling artists that contribute to the recording industry what they will receive?

Finally, Phil Baker is the VP and his experience is taking products from a concept to the market in the quickest and most cost-effective way.

It’s all about business and nothing about music. The major labels get richer. The people in Pono get richer. The major bands will get some kickbacks in a top down royalty scheme and all the rest will get nothing.

Standard
Music

Black – Some Songs Just Cannot Be Covered

I had a pretty crazy 36 hours that involved a three-hour drive (with toilet stops and breakfast stops) to Canberra, the Australian National Museum, some shopping, dinner and then the next morning, we took in Questacon, some more shopping and another three-hour drive home (this time I made sure that I laid down the law on the toilet breaks).

I have three boys, aged 8, 7 and 2. I love em to death, but they drive me mad. Especially on holidays. For example, today, we had breakfast at the hotel. My eldest and me were the last ones to leave and from the looks of it, he looked pretty full. So we go back to the room and we start packing. I open the fridge to grab the few items we had in there and he asks me, “Can I have a coke?”

I am thinking to myself “WTF”. Didn’t he just tell me, two minutes ago that he is so full he cannot breathe. Now he wants to drink a bottle of coke and it’s not even 10am. I turn to look at him, with an upset angry face and reply a stern, “NO”. I hate doing that, however I am seeing that the kids have no self-control when it comes to soft drink.

Quick getaway’s are stressful. I don’t even call them getaways. I call them stressaways. Sometimes going back to work is more of a holiday than the actual holiday. Especially when kids are involved, however I wouldn’t even dream of going somewhere without them. The room we stayed in at the Grand Mercure had two levels. I don’t know what the hell my wife and I were thinking when we booked the room. For the short time that we actually stayed in the room, all we did was walk the 2 year old up and down the freaking stairs. Then towards the end of the stay, he started screaming the room down to go solo on the stairs. Fun and games. Fun and games.

So in all of the craziness of today, I had a small window, a small opportunity, a small chance to read some emails and one of them was an email from YouTube, telling me that the song “Black” is up for viewing from the Smith and Myers acoustic project.

For those that don’t know, Brent Smith and Zach Myers are from Shinedown. In order to pass time between albums, the band asked fans to vote and recommend songs that they would like to see the guys cover. The final agreed list was finalised and in April 2013, Smith and Myers went in and recorded the final ten songs acoustically.

We are finally seeing the songs starting to filter through on YouTube. What a 9 month build up to the release? Bon Jovi, Phil Collins, Pearl Jam and Adele didn’t approve the YouTube releases because that meant that Smith and Myers are effectively giving the performances away. For the original artist (or whoever owns the rights at this point in time), this means no income.

So the original 10 song release is down to six for the time being. “Acoustic Sessions” will be released digitally on Jan. 28, and the list of songs are as follows;

“London Calling” by the Clash
“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding
“Nothing Else Matters” by Metallic
“She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes
“Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum
“Blue On Black” by Kenny Wayne Shephard

The other 4 songs that will be released at another time are;
“Black” by Pearl Jam
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Bob Jovi
“In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins
“Someone Like You” by Adele

So I was very surprised to see the email that “Black” from Pearl Jam was up. Thinking that it was a mistake and that the song would get taken down, I suddenly made sure I found some time on my holiday to check it out.

First, let me tell you a story about Pearl Jam and “Black”. I really didn’t like “Even Flow” or “Alive” when they hit the air waves back in 1991. They just didn’t connect with me at that point in time. In addition, I was really anti-grunge because all of the rock bands that I was into started to disappear. So I was staying loyal to my team. The hard rock team.

Then in 1993, I saw an live performance of the band doing “Jeremy” going into “Rockin In The Free World” with Neil Young at the MTV Awards and I was suddenly interested. Loyalty to hard/glam rock was still strong, however in the end I am a fan of music and if there is great music to hear from other genre’s I will dig deep and hear it. So I asked a previous hard rock friend of mine who switched to the grunge side to copy the album onto a cassette for me.

Oh, the shame of admitting defeat. My mate made sure that he dug in the hooks, while twisting the knife. On my way home, I pressed play on the Sony Walkman and there it was, hidden away at track 5. “Black” had entered my life. “Her legs spread out before me”. What a hard rock lyric, however it doesn’t sound cliche or derivative of the hard rock genre. It is original and fresh.

By the time “Black” finished, I wanted to hear the whole song again, just to hear that unbelievable outro this time around. And when it finished for the second time, I rewinded the tape again and heard it again. I did that non stop for about two weeks, until the tape got tangled up (or chewed up – the people that had tapes would totally understand what I mean by this) and then I was off to the record shop to purchase the CD. I paid $27, just to hear the song “Black” over and over again, almost 2 years after it was released.

“Black” was the car that put me on the road to Seattle.

So now I am listening to the Brent Smith and Zach Myers cover of that song. It takes a lot of guts taking on a song that was a hit, however it was never released as an official single. The fans made this song go viral back in the early nineties, by spamming radio stations to play it and since the Billboard charts have some funny connection with radio plays, the song hit number 3 on the Billboard Rock Charts, beating out songs that had actual single sales on the board.

So Smith and Myers have shown a lot of guts taking on a song that has over 50 million YouTube views from all the various channels that host it. One channel from Nothingman54 has the song at 33,717,347 views.

Aaron Lewis from Staind has also taken the song on. He slowed it down a little bit and his version would have been a definite keeper if the ad lib Eddie Vedder outro was nailed. Again it was a good version, but the pure raw emotion that the original version invokes is not achieved.

For Brent Smith to cover the song and to do it justice he needed to have lived the song before covering it. I always say that some songs cannot be covered. And I have always said that Pearl Jam’s “Black” is such a song.

While the Smith and Myers version is good, it leaves me feeling a bit empty. Maybe I expected a lot more. Maybe they should have included a piano into their acoustic version, as the piano is an integral part of the song. Maybe Brent should have strummed some chords while Myers took the song on in the outro with the piano that wasn’t there.

I really really like Shinedown, so to be critical of Brent Smith (who to me is Shinedown) is painful. I actually went back to hear the original Pearl Jam version after this. Spotify has the “Ten Redux” album up and I was transported back to the same day in 1993, pressing repeat over and over again to hear the song. Then I went to the 2004 remixed version that appeared on “rearview mirror” and set it to repeat.

So even though the Smith and Myers version didn’t connect with me, they did make me go back and listen to the original version, over and over and over again. And that is the power of music. Du Du Duu D Du Du Duu

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

The Legend of Vito Bratta

When it comes to the Eighties and the so-called “Hair” bands, many people saw the image and failed to dig deep into the album and listen to the music. White Lion was such band that was labeled a hair band. Did they have hair? Of course they did and it was teased to the hilt. Did they wear tight clothes that looked dorky? Of course they did. They did all of that and they rocked hard.

The lifeblood of the band without a doubt was Vito Bratta. He is a dead set superstar. Even today, if you look on YouTube and you come across any White Lion clips, the majority of the comments are about Vito Bratta. Mike Tramp gets a passing mention as an average talent, however Vito Bratta is held in such high regard.

It is a shame that Vito Bratta walked away from it all and it is a shame that there is no control around their music in the digital world. On YouTube, all of the White Lion clips are by users. The clip for “When The Children Cry” is by a user called “Louvers” and it has 8,627,861 views in the four years that it has been up.

10.All The Fallen Men

Go on YouTube and the song is more or less forgotten. Mike Tramp brings it out for his acoustic performances, however the few channels that have this song, all have views less than 10,000. The song is a metal masterpiece and a perfect product of the time. Musically, you can’t get any better. The vocal melody is top-notch, however in 1984, people didn’t want to listen about “All The Fallen Men” and “El Salvador”. The lyrical themes needed to be better and that is what Mike Tramp struggled with. In 1984, only Dio could have gotten away with these kind of themes, along with the bands from the thrash movement like Metallica.

“All The Fallen Men” is written by Vito Bratta and Mike Tramp and it was released on the 1984 “Fight To Survive” album.

The intro reminds me of Dokken’s”Breaking The Chains” from 1983 and Dio’s “Evil Eyes” from 1984. It’s got a verse riff that Neil Young would make famous in “Rockin In The Free World”. Of course, Neil Young’s song was released 5 years later in 1989. Progress is derivative.

Listen to the interlude riff before the solo section. The Thrash movement would have been proud.

9. Wait

“Wait” as a song didn’t connect with me right away however the Vito Bratta lead break made me want to smash my guitar in pieces. It was my first introduction to White Lion and back in 1988, it would be a while before I heard the full “Pride” album.

You see, once upon a time there was MTV (when it used to play music clips only) and man that show had some serious traction. We were addicted to it. Once MTV put a video clip in rotation, the band associated with the video clip would be brought to the masses. If we liked the band/act, we could purchase their music. It was exciting and it got people talking.

This is what “Wait” did for White Lion, and the lead break cemented Vito Bratta as a Guitar Hero. The path that “Wait” travelled was a product of the Gatekeeper controlled music business.

“Wait” was released on June 1, 1987, however it took another seven months before MTV picked it up and started airing it. With the internet, after the initial publicity burst is over, most people are ready for the next thing. And if the songs are not of blockbuster quality, the act will not last seven months on the same 10 tracks. Look at Dream Theater, all the marketing dollars and corporate deals in the lead up for an album that had a six-week sales life.

On YouTube, “Wait” is available on two channels, with a combined view count of 335,387. On Spotify it has 615,593 streams. Isn’t that bizarre, how the song that broke White Lion in the Eighties doesn’t have the same traction today. Songs like “You’re All I Need” has 1,039,523 views on one channel and “Till Death Do Us Part” has 1,393,139 views on another. This is what fan power brings to the table.

8. Love Dont Come Easy

“Love Dont Come Easy” is the natural progression from “Wait”. The chord inversions sum up Vito’s style. He starts off with a D5 power chord, then that moves to the 2nd inversion which is D5/F#, then D5/G and finishing it off with an Asus4 chord.

And did anyone pick up the Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’ vibe in the intro. Neal Schon does pull offs, Vito does tapping with hammer – ons and pull offs. That idea would have to have come from Zito as he was working with Bad English and Neal Schon in 1989.

It is a great pop song however the audience outside of the hard rock circle don’t know about it. On YouTube, it has 595,733 views on one channel and on Spotify it doesn’t rate in the Top 10.

7. Fight To Survive

Fight To Survive – musically brilliant. It’s got that Randy Rhoads “Believer” merged with “Suicide Solution” vibe in the intro. That is the connection for me.

Who isn’t a sucker for a verse that has volume swells over a driving bass and drum groove. It is a very underrated song that got lost in all the noise.

The song is written by Vito Bratta, Mike Tramp and Nicky Capozzi. One of those rare songs that breaks away from the Tramp/Bratta team.

If you go on YouTube and search for the song you will see that it has been forgotten. However it should be remembered. This is Vito in a metal mood. The solo section as usual is unbelievable. You need to hear it to understand it. The biggest Achilles Heel for White Lion was the lyrical message. With a song like “Fight To Survive”, the message that Mike Tramp tried to get across didn’t really resonate. Which is a shame due to the fact that the vocal melody is really strong.

6. Hungry

After purchasing the “Pride” album, breaking the shrink-wrap and dropping the needle, my ears got assaulted with that riff. That intro riff. I love it. It is heavy and melodic.

“Hungry” was perfect for 1987. It fit the time and the vibe. Bratta really goes to town on this song. On YouTube, six user channels have it up for a combined view count of 274,679. The version that has the most views is the White Lion 2005 version without Vito, performing it live.

Listening to this song again I have come to the conclusion that Vito is the star in all of the songs. The guitar takes centre stage on everything.

5. When The Children Cry

I love acoustic guitar and Vito showed himself to be a true master of it. It was very reminiscent of Randy Rhoads. Of course, Malmsteen was no slouch either when it came to playing the acoustic.

A song that can have multiple meanings and my interpretation of the song is that it from the viewpoint of an older person looking at the state of the world and saying to themselves, how did we mess this up for the next generation coming through in this world.

This is the star of the show in relation to YouTube and Spotify. White Lion’s biggest hit based on fan power alone.

4. Cry For Freedom

White Lion had the balls to tackle the subject of apartheid when all the other bands in 1989 didn’t. It is unfortunate that the Eighties degenerated into a state of generic and clichéd derivative lyrical themes and subjects involving sex, partying and drugs. When bands branched away from that subject matter, it was very hit and miss.

White Lion fell into that crowd of misses as the label “Atlantic” would still push the pop metal or pop rock edge of the band. Music culture was built by artists taking a stand on a subject. The history of rock and metal is littered with bands that made big statements. White Lion made that big statement however it got missed.

It’s the guitar sound. The way it swells and hallucinates with each shifting chord change. You cant help but be drawn in.

“Cry For Freedom” is the kind of track that can be played when any uprising to oppression happens. It could have been played during the Arab Spring, the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Syrian Civil War. It never loses its power.

The “Cry For Freedom” video has 738,582 views on the 80s Classic Metal YouTube channel.

3. Lady Of The Valley

“Lady Of The Valley” is an epic song. What a classic intro riff. It is the sleeper hit of the “Pride” album. For some insane reason, Spotify will not play the “Pride” version and it plays a really bad version from some Greatest Hits package. Then you go on YouTube and one version is really sped up, however there is a version that is from the “Pride” album and at the right speed.

It was the perfect closer to Side A on the album.

The solo section that begins after the lyric “Yes, I’ve laid him at your feet” can make the hairs rise on your neck is that good. It’s a full blow metal song, even progressive at some stages. So many shifts and the guitar work is just amazing.

2. Little Fighter

My kids love this song. They associate themselves as “the little fighters” trying to rise up and get the world’s attention.

This is a great song because even though the song is about the Rainbow Warrior Greenpeace ship, anyone can relate to it. Any person that has been down trodden, abused and down and out for the count can relate to it.

You were one of a kind
One who’d never give it up

Any musician out there trying to make it you need to be the one that never gives up.

Rise again little fighter and let the world know the reason why

That’s all we are in life, fighters. Even Bon Jovi released a song called “Fighter” on the “What About Now” album. We fight from the day we are born to breathe, to grow, to learn and to be somebody.

1. Warsong

This is the band writing for the band and not listening to their label about writing ‘hit songs’. This song has many different styles into one 6 minute plus song. It gets the number one spot for its melodic brutality.

What are we fighting for?
When the price we pay is endless war
What are we fighting for?
When all we need is peace

As Axl Rose sang in Civil War, “I don’t need your “Civil War”, “it feeds the rich while it buries the poor”. As Bruce Springsteen sang in his cover version of the song “War”, “War, what is good for, absolutely nothing”. As Metallica sang in “Disposable Heroe’s”, “Back to the front, You will die when I say, you must die.”

We can all see the cost of war these days however we still go to war.

In the end I had a hard time picking 10 songs for this post as each song that Vito has played on all have unbelievable sections.

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

Hands In The Sky Big Shot – Great Music Will Live On Forever

I have been on a Sons Of Anarchy binge lately. Just recently I finished Season 2 and the final episode had an unbelievable piece of music that complemented and enhanced the desperation of the final scenes. You need to see it, to understand what I mean.

Of course I wanted to know more about this piece of music. So I Google “Sons of Anarchy Season 2 Music”. I come across a WIKIA page that shows me each episode and the songs that played on each episode. I click on the final episode of Season 2 and I see that the last song listed is from a band called “Straylight Run” and that the song is called “Hands In The Sky”.

So I go onto YouTube, type in the band name, and there it is. I came across 16 videos with a combined play count of 1,498,818. Spotify streams have the count as 110,507.

I want to go deeper, because that is what we do, when we come across something that connects with us.

The song was released on an EP, called “Prepare To Be Wrong” from 2005. God damn. I am hearing this song in 2013. That is 8 years after its release.

The audience (both legal and illegal) who watched “Sons Of Anarchy” on December 1, 2009 heard the song for the first time. If you dig deeper you will see that the actual song hit YouTube from December 4, 2009, which is right after the “Sons Of Anarchy” episode.

By February 2010, the band went on indefinite hiatus due to money complications. This is strange, especially when “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” was doing the rounds courtesy of the TV show.

Of course, with Victory Records being the label that released the EP, it would be safe to assume that Victory Records would have kept their reputation intact by pocketing handsomely and not giving a cent to Straylight Run.

Straylight Run started off on Victory Records due to a contract that John Nolan and Shaun Cooper had with the label courtesy of their other band “Taking Back Sunday.” That contract was fulfilled with the EP release in 2005. Then Universal Republic picked them up for their 2007 release “The Needles The Space” only to be dropped when vocalist, guitarist and pianist Michelle DaRosa left. They went all independent for their next two EP releases and then called it a day after that.

Great music will always be found. “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” will live on forever. It is now a part of pop culture. It really captured the desperation of the scenes and now I can’t stop playing the song, along with Neil Young’s “Hey, Hey, My, My” which was used to close Season 3.

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

The Derivative Effect In Action with Avenged Sevenfold and Hail To The King.

All hail. The King has arrived. Good artists copy, great artists steal is the saying. I am really digging the new Avenged Sevenfold album. A7X said they wanted to make a classic rock/metal album in the vein of AC/DC – Back In Back, Metallica – Master of Puppets and Black, Megadeth – Rust In Peace and Countdown To Extinction, Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz, Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast and Powerslave, Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance, Vah Halen – 1984, Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction, Dio – Holy Diver and Black Sabbath – Heaven And Hell.

On release, it went to Number 1 on the Billboard charts. Once upon a time going to Number 1 was important, however these days, it is a fad. Longevity is the new importance. Does the album have the longevity? Will it be streamed forever and a day? My answer is YES it will.

On first listen you will hear influences (and on some tracks it is really obvious) from quite a few of the albums and bands mentioned above. They do it so well, it is hard to not like it. The lead breaks are brilliant and very Maiden like. They have gone for that sing along lead break. It will be interesting to see how those lead breaks translate to the very passionate and vocal South American fan bases. Overall, all the songs will work well in a live setting.

In the end A7X has definitely given a “popular band’s feel” to all the songs along with their own A7X bits and twists in between.

All metal and rock music and popular music in general has come to exist because of evolution, because of progress being derivative. It is never the result of creating something out of nothing that it is so original, it would blow everyone away.

“Live Wire” from Motley Crue released in 1981 borrowed from Girlschool’s “Yeah Right” also released in the same year.

“My Sanctuary” from Unisonic released in 2012 has a vocal melody that is very similar to the A Flock Of Seagulls song called “I Ran (So Far Away)” that was released in 1981.

“The Ghost Inside” from the band Vendetta released in 2012 is very similar to Michael Schenker’s “Desert Song” released in 1981. “Desert Song” is then very similar to what Michael Schenker did with UFO on the song “Love to Love” released in 1976.

“Hey Hey My My from Neil Young, released in 1979 is very similar to the song” I’d Love To Change The World” from Ten Years After released in 1971. In addition the riff to Tom Petty’s “Refugee” is also very similar to “I’d Love To Change The World.”

“Ten Black Roses” from The Rasmus released in 2008 borrows from Muse’s “Showbiz” released in 1998.

“Life is Beautiful” from Sixx AM released in 2007 borrows it’s Chorus from Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” released in 1993. The song “Beautiful” from the band Since October released in 2006 has a verse that is influenced by “Come Undone” from Duran Duran. The chorus riff also borrows from the same song. In addition, the song Come Undone is a derivative work from an earlier Duran Duran song called “First Impression” released in 1990.

The song “This Is It” from the band Staind released in 2011 has the chorus vocal melody that borrows from The Offspring’s “Gone Away” chorus melody.

Anyone that listens to the above examples, will be able to note the similarities from beginning to end. This is what I mean by the term progress is derivative.

By taking similar phrasings and chord structures, A7X was able to reinvent a past work with a fresh perspective. They have created new songs that are rooted in the past. That is why we as fans appreciate music so much. It is all built on something that came before. What makes the song unique and great is the musicians ability to express it and play it. If James Hetfield was a flawless virtuoso, I am sure the Metallica songs would have sounded a touch different, maybe less personalised and more sterile. If Motley Crue was a bunch of virtuosos then I am sure it would have been a different band. Good or bad, we will never know, however what we do know is that musicians sound the way they do because they are influenced by emotions and by their technical ability on the instrument.

It is produced by Mike Elizondo. Mixed by Andy Wallace and Engineered by Adam Hawkins.

Management is Larry Jacobson and Alex Reese for World Audience.

Shepherd Of Fire

The rain and the bell at the start and the feedback riff with the evil tri-tone is influenced from the song “Black Sabbath”. The main riff is very “Enter Sandman” like and it also has touches of Megadeth like the songs “Disconnect” from “The World Needs A New Hero” and “Trust” from Cryptic Writings. Since Metallica got the “Enter Sandman” riff from a band called Excel, we can safely say that progress is derivative. The drumming in the Intro, After The Solo and Outro is very “Enter Sandman” like, which Lars Ulrich said is based on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website for the track:
“We intentionally wrote it as an intro track. The idea was that the arrangement would evoke a sense of imagery with the tribal yet primordial drums. It seemed to resonate from Hell almost. It’s something of an apocalyptic call to arms. I love the arrangement. We wanted to set up the album and foreshadow what was to come, being that it’s a groove-based, riff-oriented record. We haven’t really done Zeppelin-style or Sabbath-like riffs before, so this is our version of an album that’s along those lines.”

Hail To The King

From the outset this song has that Iron Maiden vibe. The intro reminds me of “Wasted Years” from the “Somewhere In Time” album. The chorus reminds me of the song “Sign Of The Cross” from “The X Factor” album. Synester Gates said that he was playing a lot of “gypsy jazz guitar – Django Reinhardt and a few others”, so for the intro, he took those techniques and metalized it. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website for the track:
“The whole solo is based on minor blues changes. I like it when it transfers to that regal feel, which aligns with the lyrics. A lot of people get confused and think that it’s neo-classical, but it’s really gypsy jazz.” 

Doing Time
This song is a Guns N Roses merged with WASP. The whole intro has got that “You Could Be Mine” / “Welcome To The Jungle” vibe. The vocals in the verse remind me of GNR and The Cult. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website for the track;

“This was a Mike Elizondo suggestion. He was hearing a kind of low vocal, swagger-based rock song, sort of a quintessential ‘80s or ‘90s vibe but with a very modern approach. It’s a bad freight train that never stops.

“For this solo – and for all of them, actually – I tried to just jam with the songs instead of being overly analytical about what I was doing. I sat with Mike and the rest of the guys, and I would play until everybody was on board with the way it was going. The main thing was that I wanted the songs to influence my playing rather than me imposing a signature style on the music.”

This Means War

Three words. “Sad But True”. With each listen I keep on enjoying the album just a little bit more. The songs flow well together and with similarities aside (seriously “This Is War” is a very ballsy song to release due to how similar it sounds to “Sad But True”) the album has a pretty epic feel to it. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

Synester Gates said the following on the Music Radar website about the track;
“We wanted a really impactful, riff-based intro but one that would also feature our dual lead harmony approach. It’s pretty cool how it fits into the slow groove of the track and just hammers through.

“This song is becoming one of my favourites. I’ve been really enjoying watching people listen to it because it so fits the vibe of the album. When they hear it, they start moving, and they don’t stop. Sometimes, with more progressive songs, you lose that feel somewhere along the line, but This Means War never quits – the energy is always there.”

“All of my solos were improvised initially – I would go in and get my bearings and see what I came up with. I was hearing something chaotic in the intro, a machine-gun spray that would build into something more melodic.”

Requiem

This is classic Euro metal. It has that vibe. It’s got that Yngwie Malmsteen / Swedish metal influence. The choir at the beginning reminds of Carl Orff “O Fortuna”. The Metal Sucks website calls this song a “Kashmir” rip off and while I get that aspect, this song is one of those songs that is a little harder to pin down. The vocal part were Shadows screams “In Flames” reminds me of “No More Lies” from Iron Maiden, that came out on the “Dance Of Death” album in 2003. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates had to say about the song on the Music Rader website;

“The choir in the beginning is great. I’m very excited about how this song turned out. We wanted the foundation to be a metal band’s approach to classical orchestration.”

“Matt’s vocal is more like a lead violin part, and when my guitar chugs underneath the riff, it’s almost like what low brass would do. We layered each element very carefully, and the result is one of the more cinematic tracks on the record.”

“The solo was a fun one. I don’t do a lot of wah stuff, so I had a great time playing around with that. The wah gave it an added dimension and colours, some new life.”

Crimson Day

This is what Synester Gates had to say about this song on the Music Radar website.

“That’s a clean-sounding electric guitar on the opening, not an acoustic – there were no mics on the guitar involved, just on the amps. It’s one of my favourite clean tones I’ve ever fucking heard.”

 “We stumbled onto it by accident, actually. There were a few secrets in getting it, mainly that it’s a baritone guitar with a capo on it so I could play it in open E standard tuning. It has a really sick, rich, sparkly sound. Seriously, I’m so proud of how it turned out.”

“We wanted the song to have huge drums and be an epic rock ballad. It has a sombre vibe, but it doesn’t make you fucking sad all the way through. We were listening to a lot of Elton John, some Ozzy ballads and some Zeppelin. Actually, the lyrics are inspired by my nephew, so the song has a very personal meaning to me.

Heretic

Like This Is War, the song is very ballsy as it is like Megadeth’s – Symphony Of Destruction. Overall it has that Megadeth feel to it and yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates said on the Music Radar website:
“This was probably the first song that we wrote for the album, so there’s a bit of a throwback to the old, traditional Avenged stuff. It’s a little progressive, but we wanted to maintain some space in the arrangement so the drums could shine and the riffs and vocals could breathe.”

 “That’s a pretty important point, really, because we tend to fill things to the brim with guitar harmonies, vocal harmonies, lead things going in and out. Leaving a feeling of air made a big difference in how all of the parts stood out.”

“This is a lot of guitar, though, some big moments. If you’re not the biggest groove fan – and it you’re not, you should be – there’s still a progressive element. So it’s a mix, this song, and it worked out really well.”

Coming Home

This song is weird. I am getting an overall Iron Maiden feel but its hart to pin point exactly what. I’m sort of getting “Ghost of Navigators” for the verse but there is something else, which might not even by Maiden, maybe WASP? I am starting to sound like a psychic. The Harmony guitars at the end is Megadeth, “A Toute Le Monde.” Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates said about the song;
“Another Mike suggestion. He wanted us to do something upbeat, but we wanted to make sure that it didn’t get hokey – we’ve done upbeat before, and sometimes things can get a little too cutesy and sugary. Our goal was to have a darker, more serious tone, which can get lost when you increase the tempo.” 

“It’s very adventurous, but it maintains that upbeat vibe. There’s some great drumming on it, and I’m really excited about the guitar work. The solo is big. Instead of doing a vocal bridge, we decided to do one with the guitar and have it take you places. I think it fits with the imagery of the lyrics, which are very personal but still presented in a way that people can relate to it. The words are very ‘storytellery,’ concerning travel and endeavours, but they’re not necessarily concerned with present time. The guitar stuff goes hand-in-hand with all of that.”

Planets

The way the drums are in the Intro it reminds me of a song that I cant put my finger on. Kiss comes to mind, something from the Psycho Circus album. Also the riff. Yep familiar, not sure what like though, riff is similar to the outro of “Broken” except heavier, Bridge bit is Pantera: “Mouth of War” for the drums. Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates had to say about the song on the Music Radar website;
“To me, the last two songs, in addition to being my favourites, make up the best ending to a record we’ve ever had. Lyrically, Planets is the precursor to Acid Rain; it’s about a meteoric, intergalactic war that results in an apocalypse and the human species aligning together to go fight something much better than us, our individual trials and tribulations.”

“Musically, the song was incredibly difficult to write and pull off – the elements of dissonance, tension and resolution. We wanted to have that friction throughout, but it still had to be palatable; it couldn’t be like listening to Penderecki or Stockhausen. There had to be a relate ability and connect ability to it.”

“We really toiled over the track, but it turned out great. I’m so fucking excited about it.”

Acid Rain

This is Gary Moore – “Still Got The Blues/Parisienne Walkways” merged with GNR – “November Rain”. The Solo is definitely “November Rain’ish.” Yep, it’s perfect and it is the derivative effect in action.

This is what Synester Gates had to say about the song on the Music Radar website;
“It’s a cool way to end the record – not a typical ballad, but it’s not soft or sugary, either. The song takes you to an emotional place, especially if you pay attention to the lyrics, which are some of the best Matt has ever written.

“The song is about coming to the realization that you’ve lost the battle, but at least you’re with that one special person who matters. It’s something of an apocalyptic love story, which is pretty unique for us.”

In the end what we are hearing is a mish mash of different artists, a verse from one artist, a chorus from another artist, an intro riff from another and with the A7X little elements chucked in.

Of course, it’s not a bad form to go with, the only issue here is that some sound so close that they are unmistakably obvious, or perhaps that was the point. I wonder if they are going to see some action over it?

When I first heard the album, the first thing I did was Google, “Avenged Sevenfold copied” and heaps of pages come up. To me, it all comes down to this. Music is a sum of our influences. A person that hasn’t heard a piece of music can say that what they created is original as they have not heard anything else before that. However for all of us, music is a sum of what we have heard, mixed in with our style and ability to play those influences.

So will there be any action of these “similarities.” I see it as a double edged sword.

Because the bands they are “ripping off” are popular I don’t see how those bands can bring some action against A7X. They haven’t taken anything away from the original versions of those songs. If anything it’s made me interested to go back and listen to those songs to see if I can pick up more similarities. Those bands should be posting things like, “Thanks to Avenged Sevenfold for bringing attention to our song Symphony Of Destruction on the song Heretic from their new album Hail To The King. Check out the Megadeth version here.” That is what they should be doing.

However, if they borrowed or where influenced from unknown bands, like how Metallica and Led Zeppelin did, then I am sure that the unknown band/artist would be bringing action to the band, however I still believe it is a stupid idea. Use it to your advantage in other ways. Point to it. Market yourselves like the example above.

In the end Avenged Sevenfold released an album that has people talking about. We are engaged with it, talking about the influences we hear on it and the similarities to other artists. Some are negative, some are positive. In the end we are engaged with the product and we are forming a relationship with it.

For the record, I ripped the CD of the album and then I gave the CD to a few friends to rip on their own computers so that he can listen to it. WHY? I wanted them to listen to it so that we can talk about it.

Nah, people are talking about it on the web. The first thing I did was Google, “Avenged Sevenfold copied” and heaps of pages come up. To me, it all comes down to this. Music is a sum of our influences. A person that hasn’t heard a piece of music can say that what they created is original as they have not heard anything else before that. However for all of us, music is a sum of what we have heard, mixed in with our style and ability to play those influences. Show me someone who says what they wrote is “original” and I’ll show you a liar. Everything has been written, we are just a sum of our influences and how we interpret those influences through our own individualism, and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

For action against them it’s a double edged sword.

Because the bands they are “ripping off” are popular I don’t see how those bands can bring some action against A7X. They haven’t taken anything away from the original versions of those songs. If anything it’s made me interested to go back and listen to those songs to see if I can pick up more similarities. Those bands should be posting things like, “Thanks to Avenged Sevenfold for bringing attention to Symphony Of Destruction on the song Heretic.” That is what they should be doing.

However, if they borrowed or where influenced from unknown bands, like how Metallica and Led Zeppelin did, then I am sure that unknown band would be bringing action to the band, however I still believe it is a stupid idea. Use it to your advantage in other ways. The same way the big bands should use it. It’s always better to enforce positive approaches in order to take advantage of whatever scenarios are encountered.

Standard
Music

Vito Bratta – White Lion – Fight To Survive Review.

1985 – Fight To Survive

File:Fight to survive cover.jpg

Stand Outs

Fight To Survive – musically brilliant.  Lyrically it’s good as well about street life and fighting to be alive each day. Great tapping intro that breaks down into the bass groove for the verse, with the volume swells and then it picks up for the big chorus.  Love the delay in the solo section.

All The Fallen Men – Very Neil Young Rocking in the Free World influence in the verses.  Then again this came before Neil Young.

El Salvador – The best song on this first album.  The flamenco intro moving into the distortion riff is brilliant.  You can hear Al DiMeola’s Mediterranean Sundance.  And once the song kicks its all Thin Lizzy.  Phil Lynott would be proud.

Clichéd Songs

Broken Heart – Mike Tramp’s lyrics where typical of the 80’s.  Bratta shreds in the solo section with tapping and tap bends.

All Burn In Hell – reminded of Twisted Sister’s Burn in Hell.  Musically is typical of the 80’s.  Love the syncopated interlude before the solo.  Very modern alternative rock metal vibe there.  Solo section to me is a song within a song.

Bad Songs with Great Bratta Moments

Where Do We Run – reminds of a 100th rate AC/DC song in the verse.  Tramps lyrics and melodies are lame.  It’s a shame that it has a killer solo, very much in the vein of Randy Rhoads – Flying High Again and George Lynch – Tooth and Nail.

In The City – up until the interlude and solo section, where Bratta wails, the song sounds like a Y&T rip off lyrically.  Firehouse also did a song, where the vocal melody was similar.  Does anyone remember The Dream?

Filler Songs

Cherokee – again the lyrics are tacky, “Cherokee, riding free”.

Kid of a 1000 Faces – the less said about this song the better.

The Road To Valhalla – with that title I was expecting something epic.

Standard