Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault: Coheed and Cambria – Second Stage Turbine Blade

I was waiting for my CD to come in before I did this post.

The debut album was released in 2002, but the story goes back to 1995 when Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever had a band called “Toxic Parents” which then became “Beautiful Loser”.

Three months later, Stever left and the remaining members renamed the band, “Shabutie”.

Michael Todd was recruited in 1996 and would remain the bassist until his arrest for break and enter circa 2010/11.

As Shabütie, the band released their first studio demo “Plan to Take Over the World” in 1999 and “The Penelope EP” in 1999, shortly after which Stever rejoined the band.

The original drummer left in 1999 and Josh Eppard was the replacement. He would be the drummer on the first three Coheed albums and while he was out of the band between 2006 and 2011 he returned for “The Afterman” albums and is still the drummer at this point in time.

The band went on to release another EP called “Delirium Trigger” in 2000 and several songs that appeared on it, were based on a series of science fiction comics written by Claudio Sanchez called “The Bag.On.Line Adventures”, which were later renamed “The Amory Wars”.

This science fiction story was Sanchez’s side project. Eventually, the band would rename themselves as Coheed and Cambria, after two of the story’s protagonists.

From a story point of view, there is a great summary over at the Coheed and Cambria fan wiki.

In a nutshell, and spoiler alert, Coheed and Cambria are dead by the end of it. Coheed by now had already killed off his children except Claudio and Cambria had to kill Coheed as he unleashed a virus and then unable to live without Coheed, she killed herself. In the process her energy/sacrifice then saved the dying star that Coheed was trying to destroy. Their son Claudio, is left to pick up the pieces.

A lot of pieces of the puzzle are put into place, and backstory’s are told. The fan wiki page does a great job detailing it.

“Second Stage Turbine Blade”

It’s a minute of ambient noise and an ominous sombre piano riff.

“Time Consumer”

The feel of this song in the first minute feels like a Pink Floyd/U2 jam mash up. It is raw and gritty as it grooves its way to the exploding of distorted guitars at the 1.14 mark.

“Devil In Jersey City”

It’s got that pop punk feel, almost happy like but the subject matter is disturbing involving a bashing and a rape by the gang called “Jersey City Devils” on the daughter of Coheed and Cambria and her partner.

“Everything Evil”

This moves into “Everything Evil,” which is arguably the most proggy track on the album. The ending of the song has that piano riff which becomes the first song on subsequent albums

Delirium Trigger”

The heaviest song on the album.

“Hearshot Kid Disaster”

It has a funky riff.

“33”

A pop song which is 3.30 long. Coincidence.

“Junesong Provision”

“Junesong Provision” Heavy guitar and impressive vocals and lyrics make up this noteworthy song.

“Neverender”

The bass is excellent and the riffs are rooted in hard rock. Claudio’s vocals are the most confident on this one and it shows.

“God Send Conspirator”
A clean guitar riff starts the song off, which sounds like an indie song. The bass grooves and funks it’s way throughout.

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

Australian Method Series – Karnivool

“Sound Awake” was released in 2009 and it peaked at Number 2 on the Australian Charts.

Karnivool is an Australian progressive band formed in Perth, Western Australia in 1997, with an interesting set list of Nirvana and Carcass songs.

The group currently consists of Ian Kenny on vocals, Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking on guitar, Jon Stockman on bass, and Steve Judd on drums.

The last album they did was “Asymmetry” released in 2013. Vocalist, Ian Kenny is also the lead singer in the highly successful pop rock act, “Birds Of Tokyo” which started off as a side project for him and I’m pretty sure it is now his main project as the Gold and Platinum and Multi-Platinum certifications mount up for em.

So, after touring in the US on the “Themata” album, Karnivool returned to Australia in 2008 and entered the studio to write their follow-up. While writing the album, they still toured around Australia, testing out some of the new songs in the live arena.

While “Themata” was written mostly by guitarist Drew Goodard, “Sound Awake” was much more of a collaborative effort from everyone.

“Simple Boy” and Goliath” show an influence from The Mars Volta and pack a one two punch to kick off the album.

“New Day” at 8 minutes long, is a must listen, with its melodic vocals and progressive structures and how it just keeps building. If you want to hear how Birds Of Tokyo sound then this is the bastard child of their sound. It even has a Live feel.

“Set Fire To The Hive” is a nod to Soundgarden’s “Badmotorfinger” days, a bit of modern “System Of A Down” and their Alternative Rock style from the first album.

“Umbra” has a catchy hook to start the song. The ending is excellent, stick around for it.

“All I Know” has an odd riff and a Tool like rhythm.

“The Caudal Lure” is the most progressive track, moving between time signatures and feels.

“Illumine” is a metal cut.

And the last two tracks are the piece d resistance with guitarists Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking shining.

“Deadman” just keeps building up and the song ends around 10 minutes, with some ambient noise and then a re-recorded version of “Change (Part 1)”, starts. But when this song was on “Themata” it built and when we expected it to blast off, it ended. Now we finally hear what comes after the build-up.

“Change (Part 2)” has all the best things of Sabbath, Tool, Radiohead and hard rock.

Musically, Tool, Porcupine Tree and early Muse come to mind. There’s some Deftones and Radiohead there. There’s an Alternative Rock vibe from the debut that’s still there. It’s catchy, has heaps of melody because Ian Kenny is one of Australia’s best singers. The rhythm section of Judd and Stockman is excellent, creative and full of ideas to change it up. And Goddard and Hosking make a wonderful twin guitar outfit.

Check em out.

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The Record Vault: Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness

Released in 2005, Claudio Sanchez, Travis Stever, Michael Todd and Josh Eppard are back for “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness”, putting in a serious challenge to Meatloaf on the length of album titles.

I call it “Good Apollo IV”.

“Keeping The Blade”/”Always And Never”

It starts off with violins and an ominous piano riff. After about 90 seconds, a piece of music which is familiar appears.

Then an acoustic guitar riff starts for “Always And Never”, while Sanchez sings a haunting vocal melody. But these tracks are a set up for what is about to come.

“Welcome Home”

This is the big one, at 73.7 million streams on Spotify.

That intro. Listen to it.

Then the Kashmir like feel and riff comes in which ends up being the main riff. Listen to it.

That outro. With the Kashmir riff, the lead break and the whoa, oh chants. Listen to it.

And when the song ends, listen to it again.

“Ten Speed (of God’s Blood & Burial)”

It’s a major key rock song with a funky bass groove. Songs like these keep popping up on their albums and most reviewers call em EMO songs, which never made sense to me. They are just great rock songs.

“Crossing the Frame”

It continues the major key pop rock vibe of “Ten Speed”.

“Apollo I: The Writing Writer”

After some synths, the riff which kicks off the song is excellent, based on palm muted arpeggios and single notes, with a progressive bass groove.

And the major key Chorus, so catchy and poppy.

The song moves between these progressive verses and poppy choruses, never losing my interest.

“Once Upon Your Dead Body”

The song continues some of those major key pop vibes from earlier songs.

“Wake Up”

At 12.2 million streams on Spotify, the song is another star from the album.

It’s a ballad, but with no cliches. And seriously the hook is around the words “Kill anyone for you“.

Take that, pop singles with 15 writers.

“The Suffering

“The Suffering” is the next high point after “Welcome Home” and at 22 million Spotify streams, it’s also one of the big songs from the album.

The most catchiest, especially the vocal line, “listen well, will you marry me and are you well in the suffering” which sounds like the hook from Three Evils’s, “pull the trigger and the nightmare stops“.

And we like it.

“The Lying Lies & Dirty Secrets of Miss Erica Court”

Nothing really connected with me on this one.

“Mother May I”

It’s probably the best Police song written in the 2000’s, that Sting, Copeland and Summers didn’t write.

The final 4 songs are part of a suite called “The Willing Well”.

“The Willing Well I: Fuel for the Feeding End”

Not one of their best.

“The Willing Well II: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness”

At the 3.15 mark there is this section with whoa oh oh backing vocals that reminds me of Maiden. Musically it’s got all these other little Maiden sections.

“The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth”

The guitar and bass both play unique progressions and it works so good together, all held tight by the unorthodox drumming of Josh Eppard.

“The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut”

“The Final Cut” closes it nicely, more slower, doomy even. There’s a church organ in the background and the guitars sound like they came from the 70s.

And that wah drenched solo needs to be heard. After it goes into a Gilmour like clean tone solo, which again needs to be heard.

Vocally Sanchez is in the zone.

Press repeat on this one as well.

And now for the story, if you’re interested. Plot spoiler warning.

It takes place in the real world of “The Writer”, the person writing the story and it mixes up the reality of The Writer with the fictional story and I’m not a fan of stories that are written like this.

But in the process of the two stories being told, the sci-fi story progresses as the mental health of The Writer regresses. And I will do my best to summarise what it’s all about.

So from the story point of view, Claudio works out that the Keywork is powered by the energy of enslaved souls who want to be set free, and the only way to free them is by destroying Heaven’s Fence.

From The Writer’s point of view, he wants to do bad things to his cheating ex, Erica Court and his mental health deteriorates even further.

Back to the story, a rebel strike team has disabled a generator on a planet, which allows a rebel spaceship to land.

Sound familiar.

Claudio realises he’s “The Crowing” which is sort of like “The Chosen One” to bring peace to the galaxy.

But the bad guys in the story, Wilhelm (aka The Emperor) and his General (aka Darth Vader) have a trap waiting.

Back to The Writer, he has become like Caligula, and is now talking to his bike called “Ten Speed” (Caligula spoke to his horse and made the horse a Senator). Ten Speed tells the Writer not to murder his ex, but to exact his vengeance metaphorically by killing Ambellina, who represents Erica’s good side in the story, and is the love interest for Claudio, which will in turn cause Claudio to accept his destiny as the Crowing and destroy the Keywork.

Back to the story, Claudio and Ambellina arrive at a meeting place, the Willing Well, in which they can see the Writer’s argument with Ten Speed take place.

The Writer eventually uses the Willing Well to pass into his own story. The Writer explains to Claudio he must kill Ambellina for his own peace of mind, so that the story may have an ending. Claudio refuses and The Writer (who has God like powers in his own story) kills Ambellina, and walks off into the distance with his bicycle, Ten Speed, leaving Claudio with the message “all worlds from here must burn,” implying that it is the Crowing’s duty to destroy the Keywork.

And the next album “No World For Tomorrow” is set up.

Here is the box set the two albums came in.

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Thunder Bay Down Under Summertime Spin Series – Vanishing Point

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”.

Vanishing Point are from Melbourne, Australia.

“Dead Elysium” came out in 2020. Six years since they released the excellent “Distant Is The Sun” and during that period they had their setbacks in getting this album done, especially around vocalist Silvio Massaro and his throat infections and respiratory illnesses.

And before “Distant Is The Sun” there was “The Fourth Season” which came out in 2007.

The thing with Vanishing Point is that they write the music that makes them happy. With Silvio Massaro behind the mic and Chris Porcianko on guitars, they act as the mainstays and the main writers within the band, which actually came to my attention in 1997 with their debut album “In Thought”.

And while Massaro was on vocals for the debut, Porcianko wasn’t.

The guitars on the debut were handled by Andrew Whitehead and founder Tom Vucur. Porcianko joined the band after the debut album was done and never left. Vucur left during the writing of “Distant To The Sun”, which meant they had to restart the writing process again as they couldn’t use his riffs.

And in 2020, they dropped “Dead Elysium”.

Guitarist Chris Porcianko doesn’t get the recognition but he is an excellent song writer, and guitarist, creating intricate and syncopated riffs. And the dude can shred and be emotive as well.

The haunting piano kicks off “Dead Elysium” and then that syncopated riff comes in, which reminds me of “The Masterplan” and “A Touch Of Blessing” from Evergrey blended together.

And I was all in.

“Count Your Days” starts off with crunching guitars and an octave lead which gels with the symphonic elements.

Then the singing starts.

The day when I waved goodbye I remember it well

Those momentous days of saying goodbye to someone are engraved in our minds. One chapter ends and a new one begins, for better or worse. And it’s hard to say goodbye to something, because of fear. The fear of the unknown, the fear of other people’s opinions or the sadness that comes with saying goodbye.

Once the Chorus kicks in, it takes the track into AOR territory.

I took a look inside and I felt the great divide
In a world I fear that’s giving in to lies

The world was always giving in to lies. People believe what they read from the various newspapers and books. Reading critically is not easy, because it means you need to take another opposing view in mind, plus invest time to read widely. And people don’t want to take in a view that opposes their current beliefs.

And that melodic harmony lead break in the Outro.

How good is it?

The emotions it evokes, just makes me press repeat.

On YouTube, the video clip its shortened, so make sure you get the 6 minute plus version, so you can hear this lead break repeated endlessly before it fades out.

“Salvus” has this major key vibe in the intro, which hooks me in.

A few distorted chords, the orchestral synths and then a guitar lead.

Just before the minute mark, it all becomes quiet, just a vocal melody and some choir synths.

Staring at the edge
Reaching out to the world
Feels like I’m alone

The way this section comes in, I felt like I was alone, at the edge of the world. The movie “City Of Angels” comes to mind, how the character played by Nicholas Cage, stands at the beach, at sunrise, listening to some choral symphony being played in the atmosphere.

Then the drums and bass come in, no guitar as yet, because when they do come in again at the 1.38 mark for the pre-chorus, they are effective.

You don’t have to change the world
I will keep you safe

With all that is happening in the world, it’s hard to even feel safe.

Bring our dark to light

While the title track could have come from an Evergrey album, it’s tracks like “The Fall”, which provide the variation.

Just listen to the Chorus.

I should of seen the signs

Foresight is a wonderful thing but in real time we aren’t the best at seeing the subtle signs.

I can make believe or I can take the fall

How I would love to escape sometimes instead of facing reality.

Throughout my life I’ve been knocked on my arse so many times by people and by society in general, that once I’ve fallen the only way up, is to stand again.

Slowly.

Sometimes with broken bones.

I won’t give up, give in

It’s repeated in the outro, like a mantra, a new awakening and a new awareness.

And the guitar work from Porcianko is brilliant.

Check out Vanishing Point.

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Best Of September 2020

As we got into the final months the releases started flowing out like a busted water pipe. All of those held up releases from when lockdown began, started to come out.

So September had seven posts on the new release front.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

Part 6 is here.

Part 7 is here.

For single song releases, Rise Against dropped “Broken Dreams, Inc.”.

They contributed the song to the “Dark Nights: Death Metal” Soundtrack, DC’s new Batman comic-book series. Another creative way to release songs with comic book culture.

The song deals with levelling the playing field for everyone to have a chance at achieving the American dream.

When we owe more than we’re worth
And they’re changing the locks on the doors

The banking industry got wealthy from selling debt.

How’s that for a career?

When the factories are automated
Broken dreams incorporated

Stryper released the Metal with “Even The Devil Believes”. Michael Sweet works hard, writing and recording new music via his many different projects but the project which is his bread and butter is Stryper.

It’s a return to their “Soldiers Under Command” sound from the 80’s and it showcases the influence of Judas Priest to their music.

Seether released “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”. The title translates from Latin to, ‘If you want peace, prepare for war’.

Bad Juju from Melbourne, Australia released the excellent “You’re Not Alone” album.

Landfall from Brazil is a melodic rock band signed to Frontiers and this album was a big surprise. It brings back that feel-good 80’s vibe with the window down, driving 100km on the highway and the wind licking my face on my way to the city with hopes and dreams.

10 Years released “Violent Allies”, produced by Howard Benson.

Benson also produced the “Feeding The Wolves” album back in 2010. That album is a favourite of mine, but there is a portion of the fanbase that hates what Benson’s generic pop production did to 10 Years. But that’s the production I like.

And the album which reigned supreme for me in September is “Dead Elysium” from Vanishing Point.

I wrote about this album here.

And here.

And here.

And here.

And here.

And here.

In other words, check it out.

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Best Of August 2020

August had five posts on the new releases.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Part 4 is here.

Part 5 is here.

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

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

Stressed out, head trauma, took a beating

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

But we find ways to survive, to move on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A long time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check it out.

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Lizzard

They have a sound and a style. Their debut album “Out Of Reach” is an experience in itself, merging alternative rock and metal music on a background of progressive and experimental grooves.

And they are a three piece band from France, formed in 2006 that no one even knows about. The vocalist in the band is Mathieu Ricou. The bass player is William Knox and the drummer is Katy Elwell.

Who?

They sure don’t sound like a rock star names like Synester Gates or Zacky Vengeance.

Back when the Record Labels controlled who got signed and who got heard, the French metal scene was more or less ignored. For a band/artist to come out of anY European country that band/artist had to more or less dominate the country. And Europe always has a habit of turning out intriguing acts who only occasionally managed to gain widespread attention.

The Tool influence is very prominent but there are overtones of at least four other bands.

Chevelle, Earshot, 10 Years and Karnivool.

“Out Of Reach” is a perfect example of their style that merges Tool like grooves with Dream Theater like progressive grooves. All of it is underpinned by the melodic vocals of Ricou, who shifts between a Maynard James Keened to an Aaron Lewis to an Chino Moreno.

My personal favourite is “Loose Ends”. The bass groove from William Knox is hypnotic and the drum patterns from Katy Elwell just enhance the groove. Mathieu Ricou knows how to enhance the song with his vocals, his melodies, his phrasing and his guitar lines. “A Perfect Circle” also comes to mind. I still call it hard rock. At 3.05 the trance takes effect with a solid Tool like groove. Then at the 4 minute it goes into a Pink Floyd style atmospheric outro full of dissonant volume swells.

“Twisted Machine” is a stand out. It looks like all three members lived and breathed, “Aenima” and “Lateralus” from Tool while writing this album. From 3.40 the song goes into a wicked groove, ala “Schism”. I actually cranked “Schism” after and thematically the two songs flow in together. And that whole section from about 3.30 in “Schism” got me thinking of “Ragnarok” from Periphery and off I went to digest that song.

At 44 minutes “Out Of Reach” is a compact album, which is how it should be.

Since Tool is on hiatus, Earshot are more or less no more, Chevelle are trying out new musical horizons and Deftones are here and there when they want to me, Lizzard is a perfect replacement to fill the gap. They haven’t just filled the gap, they have made it their own.

They have a fan funding campaign up for their new album on Ulule. It’s in French and the Google translator is working spasmodically. 61 contributors so far and they have achieved 89% of their target. The target is 3,500 Euros.

Did I contribute?

No.

Fan funding to me is about delivering something unique to a fan. The perks are just not unique enough and $15Euro for a CD (which equates to about $22 Australian) is above what I would pay for a CD. So it will be a Spotify album.

If an album sold 61 CD’s it would be seen as a dud.

Fan Funding a CD and offering fans what the old legacy gatekeepers offered fans, is not embracing the new. It is using new and exiting platforms to prop up old business models.

People want access to the music and they will contribute for a perk if they believe they are getting value for their money. Make it worth their while, otherwise it is leaving money on the table.

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It’s all MIRRORS and MISDIRECTION: Tilting Against Windmills with Protest The Hero

That vocal section in “Tilting Against Windmills” from about 2.28 with the lyric “Father Forgive me for I have sinned” sounds huge. It’s epic and it just comes out of nowhere. Isn’t it funny how a small section totally makes the song. The whole “Volition” album is full of great sections.

“Without Prejudice” has the base line that comes out at about 3:10 which just builds to a mad climax. It also has an awesome lyric line. “Jump from the nearest tallest building and reach new heights.” What a brilliant way to say the clichéd and overused Reach For The Sky term.

“Clarity” has the excellent lyric line of ‘This drought is relieved with acid rain”. Love the lyrical statement.

“Yellow Teeth” has a mad chorus guitar melody.

“Plato’s Tripartite” has a tough progressive bit from about 2:54 to 3:32.

“A Life Embossed” has an awesome progressive guitar lead that starts at 3:44.

“Mist” has the major key ending with the dark lyric line of “You’re as deep as the grave, marching to the heartbeat of the land.” It just comes out of nowhere and after a chaotic math metal interlude.

The last song “Skies” is the perfect closer. It feels like it’s got some subliminal message that says, “play me again… play me again… play play play….”

Every song on “Volition” has something that just stands up and slaps you in the face with awesomeness. I am starting to sound like Bill and Ted. And what about the drumming. It is a tragedy that Chris Adler isn’t touring on the back of this release. Everything just sounds more powerful. From the double kick to the hitting of the skins.

I decided to do some Google searches on Protest The Hero because that is what we do these days. I was at first interested to see what kind of gear they use which is a pretty basic set up. Then in my searches I came across some YouTube clips of them giving tutorials for some of their songs.

All I can say is Whoaaa….

First off, I wanted to break my guitar, just because they make what they are playing look so easy. What I am finding out is that by “trying” to take on some of their stuff it is opening myself to a whole new world of composition and it is breaking me out of my rut.

I also watched some interviews with the guys as well and they talked about their influences especially Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci. What was funny to me is that they actually aren’t major Rush fans at all, which I thought was bizarre as they are Canadian and Rush is Canadian. Rhythm guitarist Tim Millar said something like “I have like a Greatest Hits album but that’s about it”.

Even before the Ron Jarzombek connection on “Drumhead Trial” I was always saying to anyone who listened to me that Protest The Hero remind me of Watchtower, a technical thrash band from the Eighties. Watchtower released a brilliant album called “Control and Resistance”. I remember picking it up for $2 in a second hard record store around 1989. What a bargain?

In relation to Watchtower and their album “Control And Resistance” this is what Guitar World said about it in a list of Top Ten Shred Albums of the 80’s.

“Sounding like the twisted scion of Metallica and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, WatchTower was the most brilliant weird band of its time. Guitarist Ron Jarzombek, with his complex harmony solos, strange scales and furious staccato lead bursts, performs tricks on his guitar that will leave you more than sufficiently breathless.”

Their 2nd singer Jason McMaster was tapped to join Pantera before Phil Anselmo joined. Then he left and formed a hard rock band called Dangerous Toys and had some mainstream success. The original guitarist Billy White also went all hard rock and joined Don Dokken for his solo project (and was also the main songwriter on it). Remember the album “Up From The Ashes.” The bass player Doug Keyser was asked to audition for Metallica after Cliff Burton died. Watchtower has a history man with so many different MIRRORS and MISDIRECTION.

Also another band that Protest The Hero always reminded me off is Leviathan, another progressive technical metal/rock band. Their album “Deepest Secrets Beneath” is essential listening.

I’ve cranked “Volition” to death already, so yesterday I decided to go through some other progressive bands. I played the new Dream Theater, played Periphery II and played Tesseract “Altered State” and then went back to “Volition”.

Progressive music is in a good place as far as I’m concerned.

All four bands mentioned above have different and unique sounds but yet are undeniably progressive. Protest The Hero is by far the most intense, and I think that’s why they stand out above the rest.

Listening to the new Dream Theater and then going back to “Volition” was a real eye opener. I hold Dream Theater in high regard from a technical point of view, however the stuff that Protest The Hero do is technical to the max and it’s the tempo they do it in that gives this overwhelming impression.

It just made listening to Dream Theater sound so slow and old. Speaking of old bands, the new Fates Warning album is better than Dream Theater’s self-titled album. I really dig what Fates Warning is all about, merging hard rock, with Tool/Porcupine Tree/atmospheric Pink Floyd like movements and Iron Maiden style lead breaks. Plus as a Dream Theater fan, Fates Warning get Kevin Moore to contribute with each album.

When I was going through the booklet I noticed that their producer Cameron McLellan was involved a lot in the song writing process. It’s no surprise that he is filling in for bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi. Like how un-metal is that. He pulled out of the U.S tour because he is involved in a stage play and because the recording ran over the tour dates conflict with the dates of the stage play. So of course for the US tour Cameron McLellan is filling in for him.

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Uncategorized

The State Of Heavy Metal

There it is again. Heavy metal. It doesn’t matter how many times the labels tried to kill it, mainstream it or commercialize it, Heavy Metal has remained consistent from when it began. Whenever pop music becomes pretentious, heavy metal rises up as an alternative answer.

What does the term “heavy metal” mean?

Black Sabbath started something in 1969 in the UK. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin started something on the hard rock front. In the U.S you had Kiss, Styx, Ted Nugent, Journey. In Australia, you had a pub rock band called AC/DC. Progressive Rock became a force to be reckoned with on the backs of Pink Floyd, ELP, Genesis and Yes.

By the mid Seventies, disco, punk and new wave became the darlings of the scene and heavy metal and all forms of rock went underground again, waiting for the day to rise again.

Then came the New Wave of British Heavy Metal between 1979 and 1983. At the same time, hard rock, glam metal and speed metal roared out of the Los Angeles and San Francisco scene. Think Motley Crue, Ratt, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer.

When heavy metal and hard rock drops off the mainstream scene, it is never gone for long. Heavy Metal is the answer to all things corrupt. It is the soundtrack.

Typically most metal fans come from working-class homes or changed family dynamics. According to a recent study, all us metal heads must have low self-esteem, because that is why we listen to metal music.

The mainstream always ignored metal music, seeing it as too dumb. Of course, when a band breaks through, the mainstream are the first group of media outlets to jump on the wagon. Remember Metallica. Ignored by the mainstream completely. The only mainstream press they got was the sad and tragic death of Cliff Burton. Then the Black album comes out and it is undeniable. It’s a juggernaut and everyone wanted to be a part of it.

So here is the list of the current state of heavy metal.

CLASSIC EVERYTHING

Rush – enough said. Move on.

AC/DC – enough said times two.

CLASSIC METAL

Iron Maiden – they need another great album like “Brave New World” soon or they will be playing to smaller and smaller audiences with each tour.

Metallica – they need to start making better decisions and they need to release new music. Look at their decision-making process. A project with Lou Reed (RIP) that just didn’t connect with the fan bases of each party involved and an $18 million dud of a movie. In relation to new music, they can only go back to the same market place year after year before the fans get burned on it.

Megadeth – Dave Mustaine said on “The Metal Show” that his top five Megadeth albums are “Countdown To Extinction”, “Rust In Peace”, “Peace Sells”, “So Far So Good So What” and “Killing Is My Business”. He needs to have a current album in that Top 5.

Slayer – are finished in relation to new music without Jeff Hanneman. He was the main songwriter in Slayer, full stop. To hear Kerry King saying that if the Jeff Hanneman music in the archives is not good, it will be not used is a load of B.S. Who made Kerry King the gatekeeper?

Judas Priest – is not Judas Priest anymore. It’s all about the dollars.

Black Sabbath – is all about the last paycheck. Anyone remember the recent album? Name me the whole track list without Googling it. I bet if i asked you to name me the whole track list on “Paranoid” or “Heaven And Hell” I would get an answer.

Pantera – lets hope that no one is stupid enough to reform Pantera with a “guitarist” paying tribute to Dimebag. Stick to your guns Vinnie. Pantera died completely when Dimebag died.

CLASSIC ROCK

Led Zeppelin is still big business in the market place. That is what the mighty Zep has become. A Corporate entity.

Pink Floyd are on hiatus however Roger Waters is still doing the rounds. He is the real deal anyway.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same market places year after year since 2008. The fans are getting burnt on this grab for cash as no new music has been forthcoming expect for the song “Sex”. The movie and the farewell tour are constantly dropped to the public.

Deep Purple should call it a day. They are out of ideas and inspiration.

Styx, Journey, Toto and Night Ranger are shadows of their former selves, doing enough to make a living in the current music business, but out of touch of what the music business fans want from their artists today. Which is a direct line, a connection.

THRASH/GROOVE METAL

Machine Head is the leader in this group. In Robb Flynn, they have a work horse of epic proportions who has the grit to see things through.

Trivium are real contenders. Say what you will about them, one thing is clear; they are not afraid to try new shit out and take risks.

METAL (all styles)

Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch lead this group. They are ticking all the boxes. They have the sales on the board and both are part of the public conversation.

Bullet For My Valentine – have a great album in them. Can they write it?

Stone Sour – should have released one album instead of two.

Sevendust – I love them and the new album was a welcomed return to form.

Disturbed – The Device album had the same impact as the last Disturbed album. Do they still have a place in the Metal world?

Heartist – could be the next big thing or they could crash and burn with their next album as now they have a record label A&R department in their house.

ROCK (all styles)

Shinedown are the new ROCK GODS. Volbeat are not that far behind with Black Veil Brides and Skillet as decent contenders.

Eve To Adam – released a great rock album but no one has heard it.

Buckcherry – veterans of the scene and play to a niche.

Thirty Seconds To Mars – took too long to release a good album. If you are going to take 4 years between releases, you need to release a great album.

Airbourne – fill the AC/DC void when AC/DC is on hiatus.

Alter Bridge – are an experienced team that deliver consistently.

One Less Reason – great music, great songs however if people buy a physical product from them, they need to deliver.

10 Years – a great fan funded release in 2012. Now they need to make some hard decisions. Do they go the fan funded route again or do they seek to get a deal or something entirely different.

DO IT YOURSELF ROCK

Digital Summer – they run their band as a company that puts money back into the band and they still hold down jobs that gives them money for living.

Burnside – released a great album that no one has heard.

Vaudeville – another band that released a great album.

SUPER GROUP

The Night Flight Orchestra – If you haven’t heard “Internal Affairs” from 2012 you need to. TNFO is made up of melodic death metal bands playing classic rock and metal.

PROGRESSIVE METAL/ROCK

Tool – it’s going to be an event when the new Tool album comes out. Is it too late? Time will tell.

Coheed and Cambria – can’t do nothing wrong currently. Excellent double releases, plus great fan perks.

Dream Theater – are doing their best to maintain the success they achieved 10 years ago. Need a great album otherwise it’s bye bye.

TesseracT, Protest The Hero and Periphery are the new leaders of Progressive Music.

Today I Caught The Plague, Sound of Contact, Op Shop, Scale The Summit and Lizzard are rookies to take notice off.

METALCORE (MELODIC DEATH METAL)

Killswitch Engage are firing on all guns.

In Flames need to bring out new music.

All That Remains needs to head back to the studio.

The rest of the bands in this movement need a re-think.

SYMPHONIC METAL/ROCK

Within Temptation – enough said

DEATH METAL

Lamb of God – they are angry and they are pissed off. A bullshit murder trial and banned in a South East Asian country by ignorant pricks.

SHOCK

One final mention; “Du, Du Hast, Du Hast mish a fraud.” Rammstein has a dicka, so let’s get together, what is the problem?

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Music, My Stories, Review in 40 Words

Review In 40 Words – Sound Of Contact – Dimensionaut (2013)

The vocalist is Simon Collins, the son of Phil Collins, who also formed the band with David Kerzner. This is great prog without all the technical mastery wrapped around a concept story about a traveller of dimensions and galaxies.

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