A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Guitar Heroes

“There are guitar heroes and there are band guys. Guitar heroes are the top dogs – whatever they say goes. Band guys are team players, committed to the chemistry of the whole. Steve Howe is a band guy from way back.”

October 1989 Guitar World…

Players like Zakk Wylde, Slash, John Petrucci and Marc Tremonti could easily be classed as band guys. James Hetfield is all about Metallica and of course there are many more that have come and gone.

In that same issue George Lynch spoke about his relationship with Don Dokken and how his new band Lynch Mob is a band that will not have a revolving door of musicians just because the band leader might have woken up on the wrong side of the bed. We all know how that turned out.

So it got me thinking about guitar players who are plying their trade day in and day out without getting the recognition they really deserve. It’s tough to be an artist regardless of era. Today, the main focus is on money. However music slays money all the time if done right and when it is done right it usually generates a pile of it anyway.

And I started focusing on two guitar bands that are doing the rounds at the moment. The only criteria I used is that the guitar partnership was formed/created at the start of the 2000’s with their respective bands.

Tom Englund/Henrik Danhage

Evergrey is about to make twenty years in the business and they are stronger than ever in popularity. Thank Tom Englund for keeping the flame burning. They are a band that doesn’t go out to write hit singles however some of the fan base believe they did just that with the “Monday Morning Apocalypse” album in 2006. For me, Evergrey is Evergrey. Dark, honest, melodic and hopeful.

The Englund/Danhage partnership started in 2000, ceased in 2010 and rekindled again in 2013. Clearly the magic is still there. For the uninitiated check out the albums “Hymns For The Broken”, “The Inner Circle” and “Torn”.  “The Inner Circle” album gave me a whole new inspiration to create music again.

They are the antidote, the complete opposite of our phony culture.

Zoltan Bathory/Jason Hook

Five Finger Death Punch are record label darlings at this point in time. With the first three albums all going Gold and the current Volumes 1 and 2 both pushing close to that mark what isn’t there to like from a record label point of view.

Underpinning the mighty PUNCH is the rhythm playing of Zoltan Bathory. Rooted in European metal and its modes, with a dash of hard rock and melodic death metal, Bathory consistently delivers head banging, foot stomping riffola. And no one could have predicted the success that would come.

The Bathory/Hook partnership started in 2009. For the uninitiated check out “War Is The Answer”, “American Capitalist” and “The Wrong Side Of Heaven Volume 1”.

And yes, Five Finger Death Punch are consistent sellers proving once again, people will invest their time and money if they believe in the MESSAGE!

Adam Dutkiewicz/Joel Stroetzel

This partnership started before 2000, however Dutkiewicz was the drummer back then. But in 2001, Dutkiewicz took up the guitar again and a whole new era kicked off.

For the uninitiated check out “The End of Heartache”, “As Daylight Dies” and “Disarm the Descent”. “As Daylight Dies” was an important album for me, as it combined melodic vocals, with brutal riffs and technical playing. Even though the band is not classed as a progressive band, they are progressive. It is a shame that in 2014, progressive music is seen as how fast and technical you can get, where in the past progressive music didn’t mean that. And that is the definition that Killswitch Engage inherits.

Robb Flynn/Phil Demmel

They are like an old act that took four albums to find their voice and hit a groove. And what a groove they found in “The Blackening”. Enough said.  Also “Unto The Locust” is no slouch either and from what I have heard so far, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” is shaping up to be a monster.

Their Machine Head partnership began in 2003 although they knew each other from their time spent in Vio-Lence, it wasn’t until they got together to write the follow-up to the backs to the wall comeback album, “Through The Ashes Of Empires” that they set a new standard in metal and thrash circles. A three-year touring cycle followed. A deserved victory lap for a brilliant album.

And the thing about Robb Flynn that I like is that he fights back. If he is wrong, he apologizes however if he is not wrong he defends himself. Just because someone is criticizing him it does not mean they’re right. And Robb Flynn doesn’t give in so easily.

Claude Sanchez/Travis Stever

Coheed and Cambria have played a vital role in my developing skills as a songwriter. The “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth” and it’s follow up, “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV” showed what can be achieved when you mash-up so many different styles into a story line. “Welcome Home” is a perfect example. It has punk elements, pop elements and classic rock elements. “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth” they showcase prog rock, atmospheric rock and classic rock with a twang of modern rock.

In other words, Coheed and Cambria are unlike anything else. They are so far from the me-too artist that is always trumped up by the media reporting outlets. An artist tests limits and Claude Sanchez definitely falls into this space.

Synester Gates/Zacky Vengeance

There is nothing about Avenged Sevenfold that hasn’t been planned and analysed to the smallest detail. Before they even started they decided on stage names, which is a throwback to the classic rock artists and the Eighties metal heroes. With their BLACK album “Hail To The King” they finally have songs that just rock on the stage.

I witnessed the energy the new songs output compared to the older more complex material. In relation to guitar playing, check out “Afterlife” and “Second Heartbeat”.

Even the mighty Zakk Wylde said that Gates is “the torchbearer for the young kids now to play solos, learn the scales, and develop a feel.”And with Synester’s influences ranging from Zakk Wylde, Dimebag Darrell, Slash, John Petrucci, Allan Holdsworth and Frank Gambale, a torchbearer he is.

Luke Hoskin/ Tim Millar

These guys are a perfect example of succeeding through hard work and hewing to their own vision and refusing to adjust to others’ input. While other artists might have had more of the limelight, all this did was allow the Protest The Hero guys to refine their song writing in relative obscurity.

For definitive albums, you can’t go past their new one “Volition”. Funded by the fans and written for the fans.

Matt Heafy/ Corey Beaulieu

Many of us are hooked by something. Trivium is one such band that hooked me. I put it down to their cover version of “Master Of Puppets”. Hell, they sounded better than Metallica.

And the thing that really connects with me is that they are always exploring themselves as artists. They don’t know if they are on the right path, but they are always trying to get there and that is important.

“Shogun” will be seen as their masterpiece album however songs like “In Waves” and “Strife” have proven to take a life on their own. I am really looking forward to their gig with In Flames in November.

Jake Pitts/Jinxx

With so many hard rock or modern rock bands out there, who does a person decide what band to gravitate to as our time is precious.

Having two guitar players that bring back memories of the early eighties is a good start. And that is where Black Veil Brides come in. Now the vocals are hit and miss but there is no denying the quality of the guitar playing and the song writing.

Dee Snider even called them “rockstars”.

Matthew Tuck/Michael “Padge” Paget

A similar set up like Trivium and their career trajectory is almost identical.

Like “Shogun” for Trivium, “Scream/Aim/Fire” is a definitive thrash metal album for Bullet For My Valentine.

Then there are songs from “Fever” and “Temper Temper” that have taken a life of their own. In this case “The Last Fight” and “Breaking Point”.

With so much new music, I usually stop paying attention and go back to my favourites. The above artists have proven themselves since the start of the 2000’s to become my favourites. For other up and comers, yell at me to notice you and I will ignore you. Yell a little bit more, and I will just retreat and burrow down deeper into my favourites.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Artists Need To Do More To Stay In The Game. Lessons from the Diary Of A Frontman.

I really dig “The General Journals – Diary of a Frontman… and Other Ramblings” that Robb Flynn puts out there. I see them as honest and man he talks some hard truths in there. In an environment where a lot of metal artists are still trying to get some ink in magazines and newspapers as a sign of success, Robb Flynn is going straight to the core. He is speaking to his audience without the need of a middleman.

The truths and frustrations on the song writing process, the whole parting with Adam Duce, the depression that came after it, the Beneath The Silt post, the acoustic shows, the gigs, the Power Chord post and so on.

Most fans of music dig the emotional connection and Robb Flynn is there on the front line trying to make a difference.

Love him or hate him, this is what Robb Flynn is doing for the metal community. He is making a difference. It doesn’t all have to be about YouTube videos or posts of cover songs. The blog is sufficient to keep people interested in Machine Head, without any new music coming. As soon as he releases a new Journal, hundreds of other websites pick up the story and add their own little take on his words.

Randy Blythe is another who is connecting with his photographs.

They are connecting with their fans on different levels.

Every post about the band dynamic and the song writing process, I can relate. I can connect with that. I am sure many other musicians can as well.

The metal community is still about the album cycle. This needs to change. It’s not the nineties anymore. Unless an artist’s product is so outstanding it sells itself, artists need to do more to stay in the game.

Too often artists are unapproachable. I have never met Robb, but I bet whoever he comes across, he will be open to discussion, because he is passionate about what he does. He is excited to talk about his past, the albums that influenced him and current music that has his interest.

Outside of the metal community, you can say that he is unknown to most. He is not mainstream, nor does he want to be. Most of us will fade away and those who create great art will live on, through their work.

Unlike so many in the metal community, Robb Flynn was a seasoned performed when he had success in 1994 with “Burn My Eyes”. As he is getting older, he continues to achieve success. From 2003, and with the addition of Phil Demmel, Machine Head has gone from strength to strength.

In a musical world run by Corporations, who only see the fame and the dollars, Robb Flynn is the anti-hero, the one that is looking for the career. You woodshed, you wait for your time, if you’re great, you will triumph.

He is not fussed if he makes a million dollars or thousands of dollars or hundreds of dollars. All he cares about is being involved with creating music. It’s all about the sound, the song and upon this foundation, Robb Flynn has created his best work. The post on “Halo” and how it took six months to be written is pure gold.

When the history of metal is rewritten in the future, Machine Head and Robb Flynn will be spoken about and revered.  

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A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories

There Are No Instant Experts

I finished reading an article called “COMPLEXITY AND THE TEN-THOUSAND-HOUR RULE” by Malcolm Gladwell a few weeks ago and a few concepts from that article have been lingering around in my head.

CONCEPT:
There are no instant experts. The article used a study by psychologist John Hayes who looked at “seventy-six famous classical composers and found that, in almost every case, those composers did not create their greatest work until they had been composing for at least ten years. (The sole exceptions: Shostakovich and Paganini, who took nine years, and Erik Satie, who took eight.)”

While I would argue that rock and metal musicians start composing at an early age, for the purposes of this article I would use the first bands that artists are involved in as year zero or the birth date of when artists started composing.

Basically it’s rare for a debut album or the first piece of music an artist creates to be their best. Of course there are some outliers to this concept, however the concept generally works. So, how does the concept fit into the metal and rock world.

Let’s start with one of my favourite bands at the moment, Machine Head.

Their debut album “Burn My Eyes” came out in 1994. For a groove thrash metal band, the album was a success.

So who is the main composer on “Burn My Eyes?” Of course the answer is Robb Flynn.

Robb Flynn started writing songs around 1984 and by 1985 he was in a band called “Forbidden” or “Forbidden Evil” (depending on which story you read). So Robb Flynn’s birth date for creating music is 1984. Comparing these dates with the concept, you can say that Robb Flynn created a great piece of work with “Burn My Eyes” ten years after he started composing. Since this album is also the debut album of Machine Head, in relation to the concept, for the band Machine Head, this is also Year Zero or the bands birth date for composing.

Burn My Eyes wasn’t Machine Head’s greatest work. That happened in 2007, with “The Blackening.”

From a Robb Flynn perspective, his greatest work happened 23 years from when he started composing. From a Machine Head perspective, the bands greatest work happened 13 years from when the band started composing.

Of course the biggest variable with the concept is that most bands or artists are the sum of their parts. This is so true for Machine Head. For “The Blackening” all of the members played an important part in the compositions.

Phil Demmel’s path is very similar to Robb Flynn’s. He founded the band Vio-Lence in 1985. It is safe to assume that he started composing a year before.

From Demmel’s perspective, it was 23 years from when he started composing that he was involved in the creation of a great work, with “The Blackening”. As already mentioned, from a Machine Head perspective, the bands greatest work happened 13 years from when the band started composing.

However with Demmel joining the band in 2003, this ushered in a new version of the band, so the composition birth date for this band goes back to 2003.

So for Machine Head “Version 7”, it took them 4 years to create their greatest work.

For completeness, here are the previous versions of Machine Head.
Version 1 (operated from 1992 to 1994) was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Logan Mader and Tony Costanza.
Version 2 (operated from 1994 to 1995)was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Logan Mader and Chris Kontos.
Version 3 (operated for a few months in 1995)was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Logan Mader and Walter Ryan.
Version 4 (operated from 1995 to 1998) was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Logan Mader and Dave McClain.
Version 5 (operated from 1998 to 2002) was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Ahrue Luster and Dave McClain.
Version 6 (operated from 2002 to 2003) was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce and Dave McClain.
Version 7 (operated from 2003 to 2013) was Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Phil Demmel and Dave McClain.
Version 8 (operating from 2013) is Robb Flynn, Phil Demmel, Dave McClain and Jared MacEachern.

So by looking at the above versions and taking into account the concept that all great works happen ten years from when they start composing, the new version of Machine Head, will create their greatest work in 2013 (of course provided that they are still together). However if Adam Duce, remained in the band, Version 7 of the band would have been creating their greatest work right now.

So what should be the greatest triumph of the Robb Flynn, Adam Duce, Phil Demmel and Dave McClain era, will be a great debut album for the Robb Flynn, Phil Demmel, Dave McClain and Jared MacEachern era.

Let’s look at Motley Crue. Based on sales figures alone, “Dr Feelgood” is their piece d resistance and it was released in 1989. The main songwriters on Dr Feelgood are Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars.

Nikki Sixx, started in bands in 1975, therefore this is the year that Nikki Sixx started composing.

Vince Neil and Tommy Lee started off in bands around 1979, therefore this will be the year that they started composing.

Mick Mars on the other hand goes back to 1972, therefore this will be the year that Mick Mars started composing.

The band Motley Crue was formed in January, 1981. This is the year that the band started composing.

From a Nikki Sixx perspective, he was involved in creating “Dr Feelgood”, 14 years from when he started composing.

From a Mick Mars perspective, he was involved in creating “Dr Feelgood”, 17 years from when he started composing.

From a Tommy Lee and Vince Neil perspective, they were involved in creating “Dr Feelgood”, 10 years from when they started composing.

In relation to the band Motley Crue, it was 8 years from when the band started composing.

So based on the concept, the version of Motley Crue that we know, will not be able to create another masterpiece. So how did they end up creating “Saints Of Los Angeles” which everyone said is their best album since “Dr Feelgood.”

The answer is simple (just take a look at the songwriters on the album);

The song writing team of Nikki Sixx, James Michael, DJ Ashba and Marti Frederiksen wrote the songs “L.A.M.F”, “Face Down in the Dirt”, “What’s It Gonna Take”, “Down at the Whisky”, “Saints of Los Angeles”, “Welcome to the Machine” and “Goin’ Out Swingin.”

The song writing team of Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, James Michael, DJ Ashba and Marti Frederiksen wrote the songs “Mutherf&cker of the Year”, “The Animal in Me”, “Just Another Psycho”, “Chicks = Trouble” and “White Trash Circus”.

Finally the song writing team of Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tommy Lee, James Michael, DJ Ashba and Marti Frederiksen wrote the song “This Ain’t a Love Song.”

Even though the product was Motley Crue, three of the main composers are not from Motley Crue.

So by looking at all of the above, the song writing team of Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, James Michael, DJ Ashba and Marti Frederiksen should create their best work by 2018. That is provided they stick around.

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

Semi Obscure Machine Head songs

Getting dropped by Roadrunner U.S after the Supercharger album saved Machine Head. The first album Burn My Eyes (released in 1994) was a success. For a debut album Machine Head went on a three year victory lap. The second album The More Things Change (released in 1997) stagnated.

In order to keep their deal with Roadrunner Records going they had to resort to the metal music that was popular at the time. In this case it was Nu Metal. The Burning Red (released in 1999) and Supercharger (released in 2001) came and went during this period.

Then the band got dropped. They even got rejected by every record label they approached for a new deal.

They could have broken up. Instead they went away and wrote Through The Ashes of Empires (released in 2003) which they self-produced. Just like how Rush’s, 2112 laid the foundations of what was to come for Rush, Through The Ashes of Empires did the same for Machine Head.

The lifestyle of a musician isn’t just rags to riches. It cycles back to rags and then back to riches and back again. I always use the Apple analogy. Apple was a leader when it came out on the scene. Then it was going out of business. Then the company got Steve Jobs back in and it became a leader again. In the process, it changed the way live and how we consume music. Now it is running on fumes again.

The list of songs you are about to read are cult favourites. They are not the songs that Machine Head will put into a concert set list every time, however they deserve the same attention as the big ones.

Left Unfinished released in 2003 on Through The Ashes of Empires.

Lyrics and music are written by Robb Flynn. It starts off with the creepy tinker box music. Robb Flynn was adopted at birth. He told LA Weekly that for the longest time he hated his biological parents and never wanted anything to do with them. He wrote this song as a “F.U” to them.

After the tinker box music, a Pantera groove kicks in.

How Korn like are the verses? All the way from the vocal melody to the phased/flanged/tremolo’d guitars to the bass hitting the note and sliding the finger down to the hip hop groove of the drums.

The chorus again is a standout, with the perfect backing vocals of Adam Duce.

I’ll never forget
Life you disdain
So to the parents that bore me this pain
With all those things you left unfinished

This is real life, this is real hurt. This isn’t no Bon Jovi song written by a committee. It isn’t pretty. It is the anthem for all the other kids given up for adoption. I can never relate to the lyrical theme of the song however I can relate to the pain. Pain doesn’t discriminate. It affects us all. The abandonment that Robb feels can be translated to the abandonment a kid feels when the school bully lays into him or her.

You never could love me
I’m glad that you never did
My parents that raised me
Had plenty of that to give
And for that
I’ll love them forever with all my heart
But to you don’t let there be no mistake about it
F.U you cocksucker F.U, you whore
I’ll live my life the opposite of what you are
Love will be my rock
The rock that I stand on

It’s all there. The exorcism of a childhood denied from one set of parents to the childhood obtained from another set of parents. I can’t help but make the connection to Queensryche and Chris DeGarmo’s Bridge, which served as his exorcism of being abandoned by his father.

Don’t try to reach out to me
Don’t try to call
The boy that you created
Is dead for all you f&@king know
You just pretend you’ve never heard or seen
The name Lawrence Mathew Cardine

Wow. The world knows him as Robert Conrad Flynn. However his birth certificate states Lawrence Matthew Cardine. I have seen Robb perform with Machine Head on three occasions in Australia, and he commands the stage. When he says the words, the circle pit gets into a frenzy. You would never pick up on his wounded past.

We are all damaged a little bit. The ones that make it through the heartache and the depression end up changing the world.

As I have said many times, you cannot copy the vocal style of Robb Flynn. You need to have lived his lifestyle to have his vocal style. To me it is the best voice in the metal genre. He can be melodic in a Rob Halford /Bruce Dickinson way, he can be aggressive in a James Hetfield way, he can be progressive in a Jonathan Davis/Maynard Keenan way, he can be hardcore in a Phil Anselmo way and he can be deathly in a Chuck Schuldiner way.

In a world where everyone believes they are a winner, a world-beater who feels entitled to success, you have Robb Flynn the anti-hero to the victorious life portrayed by the fakes. The maestro Flynn who has more questions than answers.

People like Robb Flynn and Corey Taylor have made it through and they are changing the world.

Descend The Shades Of Night released in 2003 on Through The Ashes of Empires

Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn and Dave McClain. It’s my favourite song on the album.

What can I say, when I heard this song I was in a bad place. The acoustic intro is so sad and depressing. The reason why this song connected with me, is knowing that there are other people out there feeling the same way.

Sitting in the empty black
The last slivers of dusk have passed
Accept the dawn to ease the fear
One day I will not be here

They don’t teach you about death in school. They don’t tell that death can come at any time. You feel invincible when you are 18. As you get older you start to think about death a bit more.

The lead break from Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn for some reason reminds me of Tesla. I know, they are two separate bands from two totally different time periods and genre’s, however the whole passage and even coming into the harmony guitars, just reminds of The Great Radio Controversy from Tesla released in 1988.

Then the sing with me part is up lifting.

It is the humanity in the song, knowing that Robb Flynn has got more questions than answers. We can put on a happy face and we can get along with those at work but what we really want to do is let go, be ourselves and be accepted.

Pearls Before The Swine released in 2011 on Unto The Locust

It’s a Robb Flynn, Phil Demmel and Dave McClain composition.

It’s the familiarity of the Ride The Lightning intro. The drums and bass groove from McClain and Dice is identical to what Ulrich and Burton play in Ride The Lightning. It is that familiarity that hooks me in. I didn’t like this song when I first heard it because the other songs like Unto The Locust, Be Still and Know, This Is The End, Darkness Within and Who We Are really stood out. However, playing those stand out songs to death, I unearthed this little gem, sitting between Darkness Within and Who We Are.

This is what guitarist Phil Demmel told Sonic Excess magazine about the song;

“It was a song without lyrics really for a while, without a concept. We kind of came up with an idea to write about addicts and addiction, when talking to each other and watching Breaking Bad episodes to kind of catch up and start again to see it. (laughs) It’s not a song about hope. It’s just a song about being in the throes of addiction, in its claws, and a lot of my lyrics are in there. So, there’s a lot of descriptive thoughts of addiction. It’s not a song of hope for sure. It’s not ‘Stairway To Heaven.'”

Lie in this state of perdition
Never to awake

Perdition – A state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful person passes after death. What a powerful line that sums up what addiction and depression is.

Make love to denial her sober embrace
Nails they’ve embedded never to release

If you don’t realise you have a problem, you can never treat it.

Count the 12 times you step equal 12 times you fail
No abstination relapse tip the scale
As you swallow the hook and you chew on the line
Choke on the sinker in this sea of lies

Man, what a verse. The 12 steps of rehab just didn’t work out and before you know it, the habit is back; hook, line and sinker.

The passage from 3.18 is superb. The music, the build and the melodic vocals. People have tried to imitate Robb Flynn in his vocal style, however as far as I am concerned, you need to have lived his life in order to sing like him. His vocal style is his lifestyle. I will replay this song a thousand times just to hear this section.

Broke vows and broken rosaries
Bind these rusted hopeless dreams
Broke vows and broken rosaries
Bind these rusted hands in prayer
Faith trust and love are mowed down lonely In these killing fields

What a vocal melody. It’s goose bumps all the way. The double kick from McClain keeps it rolling.

Then it’s all thrash from 4.36. I would have loved to be in the studio when they wrote this bit. It would have been high fives all around. The whole song is progressive. Not in the weird time changes progressive, just the fusion of so many different styles and melodies and riffs.

Machine Head hold their own against the Big 4. Hell, that concept should be expanded to include Machine Head. Better yet get rid of Anthrax and put Machine Head on the bill.

A Farewell To Arms released in 2007 on The Blackening

This is the album where Machine Head finally got their victory lap. The Blackening is such a strong album that other songs could be missed if you don’t dig deep into it. A Farewell To Arms is unbelievable. Great music and great vocal melodies. The lyrics are written by Robb Flynn, Adam Duce and Phil Demmel. The music is written by Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel.

Mutilated lives
Blackening as coffin line the sides
Filled with fathers
Who has won?
When only sons
Hold their grieving heads and mourn
A farewell to arms

The end product of war for the ones that do not return. It comes across in a powerful way. While the verses are great what truly makes the track is the chorus.

I’ll wave this flag of white
So the venged see the light
We’ll pay for closed eyes
With our genocide

Is venged even a word? Who cares right, as it fits the vocal melody to a tee? The chorus has a similar guitar melody like Halo underpinning the vocal melody.

Then the Iron Maiden-esque lead break wails from 7.10. The drumming and the backing tracks all have that Maiden Trooper Gallop. Then at 7.40 it is the Creeping Death “Die By My Hand” part from Metallica.

Somehow they bring it all back to an ending reminiscent of Master Of Puppets, again from Metallica. Just when I think it’s over, a few more bars of clean tone and the immortal words A FAREWELL TO ARMS.

Who has won when we’re all dead? This song also points the finger at the rich and the government officials that pushed the country into war. One of the verses deals with how the children of the fallen are left without fathers and how the children of the government officials will never know what it is like to fight a war.

Kick You When You’re Down released in 2001 on Supercharger

It’s a Robb Flynn, Ahrue Luster, Adam Duce and Dave McClain composition. The Supercharger album didn’t get as much attention from me as it should have when it first came out. As I got older, I went back and listened to it. Now I appreciate it more.

You have to trust in yourself
You must believe in yourself
You have to follow your heart
You overcome, improve, endure

It’s the anthem for the determined. As the other lyrics in the song state, sometimes you fight and you win, sometimes you fight and you lose, however it is the fighter in you that will never lose. In the end you move forward by overcoming obstacles, improving on what you did before and enduring. Remember, to be a winner, you need to outlast the competition.

Deafening Silence released in 2001 on Supercharger

This song is a Robb Flynn, Ahrue Luster, Adam Duce and Dave McClain composition.

One thing I really liked about this period of Machine Head (1999 to 2001) is that Robb Flynn was pushing himself lyrically and really went to town writing about his own personal issues. That is why the albums that came after had the perfect mix of personal reflections, political reflections and religious reflections.

You drink a thousand lies,
to freeze the past in time

Numbing the present with alcohol. I am sure every metal head has been in this situation. That is why we gravitate to this kind of music. We are the outcasts, the ones that society couldn’t pigeon hole. Note the reference to a song from Burn My Eyes.

See the pain in my eyes
see the scars deep inside
My God, I’m down in this hole again
With the laughter I smile
with the tears that I cry
Keep going down this road called life

The chorus above speaks volumes about society in general. My favourite lines are “With the laughter I smile, with the tears that I cry, keep doing down this road called life.” That is who we are in a nutshell. We just roll along. The ones that don’t, end up taking their lives.

Silver released in 1999 on The Burning Red

It’s got similar lyrics from A Nation On Fire. This song really reminds of Tool, especially that Cold breakdown. Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Dave McClain, Ahrue Luster and Dave McClain.

Take my hand
Across this land
Escape this, all the hell inside

Creating that other shell of a person to take the pain while the real person is hidden somewhere in the recesses of the mind.

Create this man
To make my stand
And break this hardened shell in time

It’s like this, we put out a face of confidence to all who see us, however inside, we are filled with doubt. We are scared. We are questioning. And if we feel like everything is going great, the real person will break away the mask and step into the light.

I see a mirror to me
The lines along my face are drawn in
I believe reflections bleed
The sorrows of our souls

I remember reading an interview with Robb Flynn that he was bulimic at one point in his life, always forcing himself to chuck up so that he can look the part. It’s a powerful verse with great imagery. We have all stood in front of the mirror and we have all judged our appearances.

A Thousand Lies released in 1994 on Burn My Eyes

The verse riff is the same as Cowboys From Hell from Pantera. Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Chris Kontos, Logan Mader and Adam Duce.

In poverty there is no democracy

Basically in poverty there is the motto that only the strong survive. That whole fairness and equality is rubbish. Even in poverty there is class warfare.

This urban life is so volatile
An inner city or a concrete hell

This is it, you either live, or you die or you end up in prison.

What is a man who don’t stay true to the game
Don’t care for no one, only cares for his greed
He’s playin’ God killin’ thousands of people ‘
Cause the power is the fix that he needs

When Robb is writing about themes that piss him off, he is always on game. He is basically saying, who can we trust in this world anymore, when all we get is lies.

A Nation On Fire released in 1994 on Burn My Eyes

Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Chris Kontos, Logan Mader and Adam Duce. The intro clean tone riff is that good, that it was re-written for A Farewell To Arms and Unto The Locust.

A world that spends more to kill than to cure

Another brilliant line. What kind of a world do we live in? Our Governments give more money to the military then what they do for research on finding cures.

So take my hand across this land

There are the lines that re-appear in Silver. It’s almost like he is saying to an angel to take him away from this world.

You tell me peace, Well I hear gunshots all night
The scars I have, I’ve earned ’cause I’ve had to fight

As we get older and we accumulate knowledge, we find it hard to believe the B.S that our Politicians try to push. The themes that Robb explores on the first Machine Head album keep re-occurring time and time again on other albums.

How cool is the SLOW part at the end. The groove just gets slower until the song ends.

I’m Your God Now released in 1994 on Burn My Eyes.

Lyrics are written by Robb Flynn and the music is written by Robb Flynn, Chris Kontos, Logan Mader and Adam Duce.

The vocal melody at the start is that good, that Robb Flynn used it again for A Farewell To Arms. It’s a sad and sorrowful tale of addiction. The “her” in the song is the heroin. Drug addiction is covered a far bit in the songs of Machine Head.

So pain told you to take her
Well I learned to accept that feeling
‘Cause I found how to numb it
If only for just a short while
I’d get so high, I’d forget my own name
I scarred my fist, I scarred my brain
I think that I’m going insane
I think that I’m going insane

This song was brought back into my memory when I was listening to the Sixx AM album and the song, The Girl With The Golden Eyes. Nikki Sixx is another person that struggled to deal with the abandonment of his father.

So now I’m in your system
And I’m what helps you numb your pain
With time you will confide in me
So lonely my friend, I’ve made you lose control
You’ll use me more and more with time
Our friendship grows with each mainline
So glad that you could be so blind
So glad that you could be so blind

Again I am thinking of the Sixx AM song.

She speaks to me in Persian
Tells me that she loves me
The Girl With Golden Eyes

And though I hardly know her
I let her in my veins
And trust her with my life

I wish I never kissed her
Cause I just can’t resist her
The Girl With Golden Eyes

Every time she whispers
Take me in your arms
The way you did last night

Everything will be alright
Everything will be okay

People like Robb Flynn, Nikki Sixx and Corey Taylor have made it through and they are changing the world.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Classic Songs To Be Discovered – Tesla, Machine Head, Thousand Foot Krutch, Trapt, Since October, Three Doors Down, Daughtry

It looks like my playlist shuffle is stuck in the song titles that begin with B.  Here is the list of songs driving in to work today.

Breakin Free – Tesla
Be Somebody – Thousand Foot Krutch
Beautiful – Since October
Back Again – Daughtry
Believer – Three Doors Down
Black Rose – Trapt
Beautiful Mourning – Machine Head

Breakin Free is from the rock band Tesla and it is from their hardly heard 2008 album, Forever More.  It is the Brave New World from Iron Maiden, meets Tool intro that hooks me, and the spiteful lyrics resonate with me.  Even though the song deals with a relationship break up, it could mean any situation where a person that you trust and liked ends up making life a living hell.  

I’m done with swallowing my pride
And the truth in the end denied
You know it makes me sick how you’re so quick to always criticize
You never find fault in yourself
You’re always blamin’ someone else

Breakin Free is written by the band, along with classic rock producer Terry Thomas.  If anyone remembers the 1991 album from Foreigner (the one with Johnny Edwards on vocals), Terry co-wrote most of those songs as well, along with the Bad Company albums released between 1988 and 1992.  That is why the song sounds classic but modern.

Be Somebody is from Thousand Foot Krutch.  It’s from the fan funded The End is Where We Begin album, released in 2011.  

We all wanna be somebody, we just need a taste of who we are
We all wanna be somebody, we’re willing to go but not that far

Isn’t that so true.  We all want to be recognised for something.  In order to get there, we end up changing who we are.  We sell our souls for money and fame.  We betray the most important person, ourselves.  The lyrics bring it all home, we are willing to do what we need to do to be somebody, but we have boundaries as to who far we will go.

Beautiful is from Since October.  It is from their debut 2006 album Gasping For Hope, that they released as an unsigned band relying completely on Myspace to push it and sell it.  In the end it got them signed to Christian label Tooth and Nail, and so far they have released another two more albums after that.

It is the Duran Duran – Come Undone similarities that grab me.  For some reason derivative works in pop and rock work, however in metal, if they are too similar they are decried.  

You’re completely perfect but perfectly incomplete
You’re lacking only me but you acted like you didn’t want to know me

Unrequited love.  The lyrics are nothing earth shattering, and very adolescent like, and that is what works with the song.  Of course the guys in the band were in their early twenties when they wrote this song.

Back Again is from Daughtry.  It is the bonus track or b-side to the No Surprise single, that comes from the Leave This Town album released in 2009.  It is a classic rock song.  It deserved to be on the album.

We’ve all been down this road before,
I give it all, you wanted more
I’ve only got myself to blame

That is the best part of the song.  It is where Chris Daughtry really shines on the vocals.  It is a song Chris wrote with Adam Gontier from Three Days Grace, well ex Three Days Grace now and produced by Howard Benson, who is the mainstream go to producer for metal and rock music these days.

Believer is from Three Doors Down.  It is from the 2011, Time Of My Life album.  It is very different to what Three Doors Down are renowned for and it works.  The intro rocks, and the melodic lead kicks things off nicely.

I would have been in doubt
When this started out
That everything would turn out this way
First it was a phone call
Then it was another
From a mother who was ready to play

It’s written by the band, and at 2.57 it’s short and sweet, but hectic just the same.  Of course the sound is very modern like, thanks to Howard Benson again.  Sometimes, we need music to have a laugh with, and in this case, I get that from the lyrics, about a married lady who wants to play, only for her affair to be busted up by her husband.

Howard Benson’s story is interesting, going from being a keyboard player, to a producer, to the Vice President of Giant Records, to an A&R rep for Elektra and now Warners Music.  This is proof that you don’t go to 0-Riches in an instant.  It takes time and a lot of work.

Black Rose is from Trapt.  It is from the 2008 album, Only through The Pain.  It is a ballad with a killer chorus and a killer ending.  

Black rose your thorns are cutting into me for the last time
Black rose I watched your petals wilt away I couldn’t bring you back to life
You were always where the sun could never go,
I never wanted you to have to be alone

But I couldn’t find a way to help you grow,
Black Rose

It’s written by vocalist Chris Brown and songwriter, Adam Malka.  It’s produced by Garth Richardson from Chevelle/Atreyu fame.  These lyrics found a connection within me, due to my struggles dealing with my cousins fall into mental illness.  I had to cut loose, as if i stayed he would have dragged me along with him.

Beautiful Mourning is from Machine Head and it is from the best metal album of the two thousands, the mighty Blackening album released in 2007.  The song has been said to be about Rob Flynn, tripping on acid and taking a razor to his wrists.  It is the most depressing  words every put to paper.

My redemption is knowing
This will be over
My aggression,
I fear I’ve lost control
Who is this man I said?
Mirror reflects a stranger
Fist shatters the despair
Awake the pain to anger

The music was written by Robb and Phil Demmel, with lyrics by Robb.  This is real.  Life isn’t all about the highs and the laughs even though we take photographs showing that is the case.  Life has a darker side to everything.  We are fragile, we can snap at any minute.

Enjoy.

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