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

1985 – Part 6

Fates Warning – The Spectre Within

I picked up their first three albums really cheap in the early 90’s via a second hand record shop. The youthful exuberance approach to song writing is clear, with extravagant structures and riff-a-ramas in each song. Better albums and songs would come later however those songs would not be possible if they didn’t get these early albums and the styles out of the way. Put simply, this is Fates Warning, sounding heavier, faster and more complex.

The band is also different to the band that I would come to like. John Arch is on vocals, Victor Arduini and Jim Matheos are on guitars, Jim Arch is on keyboards, Steve Zimmerman on bass and Joe DiBiase on drums.

“Orphan Gypsy”, musically is an underrated progressive metal cut. If it appeared on a Megadeth or Metallica or Slayer album, it would be seen as a classic. Lyrically, the melodies are hit and miss, but the music is a thrash-a-thon. “Without A Trace” has an intro riff which could have come from Malmsteen’s “I’ll See The Light Tonight” before it morphs into a galloping riff like Iron Maiden.

But its “The Apparition” which fuses their Maiden influences (especially “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”) with their other influences which really gets my attention. Even the vocal delivery, could be said to inspire Midnight from Crimson Glory.

Musically, the piece d resistance is “Epitaph”. It sounds like its inspired by “Heaven And Hell” from Sabbath. And at 12 minutes long, it has different movements and moods and it’s a great way to close the album. This song is a giant leap for progressive metal. 

Vocally, John Arch, is a tenor, a cross between Geoff Tate and Dickinson, with a bit of Robert Plant, Rob Halford falsetto and King Diamond chucked in for good measure. But his choice of melodies are a bit of a let down on some of the songs.

Loverboy – Loving Every Minute of It

If you listened to rock music, there is no way that you would have not heard of Loverboy and their songs. This is their first album to not feature Bruce Fairbairn in the producers chair, and Tom Allom was hired.

The album is not on Spotify Australia which irks me, but hey, YouTube has it.

Mutt Lange is on hand to write the big hit, “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It”. This dude couldn’t do nothing wrong for a long time.

Jonathan Cain from Journey is on hand to co-write the soft rock influenced “This Could Be The Night” with Paul Dean, Mike Reno and Bill Wray.

Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance are on hand to write “Dangerous”, a melodic rock classic.

The riff in “Friday Night” is to my liking. This one is written by Bill Wray, Paul Dean, Davitt Sigerson and Patrick Mahassen.

And the lyric, “Friday Night, I just got paid, no sleep till Monday”. Truth right there, folks.

The good songs keep coming, with the hard rocking “Too Much Too Soon” and the ballad like “Destination Heartbreak” (with its heartbreak emotive guitar solo). But it’s the Lange penned title cut that moved units.

Heart – Heart

This album was massive in the U.S with 5 plus million in sales and a who’s who of songwriters behind it. Not sure if that was the intention of the Wilson sisters or the label, but the addition of songs from outside writers enhanced the band. 

“If Looks Could Kill” is a perfect opener. There is a “Live In Memphis” release on Spotify which is recorded in 1985 for a radio broadcast, and this opens it. Its raw rock and roll without all the studio polish and perfect. It’s written by Jack Conrad and Bob Garrett. And Conrad played bass in The Doors after the death of Jim Morrison and became a songwriter later on.

“What About Love” is a cut written by Sheron Alton, Brian Allen and Jim Vallance. I like the verses more than the Chorus. “Never” and “All Eyes” are written by Holly Knight and Gene Bloch, along with Nancy Wilson, Ann Wilson and Sue Ennis. “These Dreams” is written by Elton John’s song writing partner Bernie Taupin and Martin Page. It was a hit, but it’s not on my radar.

“The Wolf” (the side 1 closer) and “Shell Shock” (the side 2 closer) are written by the band with Sue Ennis. Both songs are aggressive and loud and I like em, but they wouldn’t push the album past the 5 million mark in sales. 

DLR – Crazy From The Heat

Roth got a lot of money to go solo, but the real solo album would come with “Eat Em And Smile”, then again, that album also had a lot of cover songs on it as well, so the real solo album, free of covers was “Skyscraper”.

For “Crazy From The Heat”, I own it on cassette and LP, but I never play it.

Warrior – Fighting For The Earth

The title makes me laugh now, but in the 80’s it was badass. Even the band name referenced my favourite movie, “Warriors”. They had the whole dystopian metal look happening, and that intro riff, used in a million songs, but so effective in this song. 

And vocalist Paramore McCarty is one hell of a vocalist. If you haven’t heard Warrior, then you would have heard his singing with Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys. In 2017, he resurfaced with the band “Radiation Romeos” and released an album on Frontiers. If the name sounds familiar, well it appeared in the lyrics of the song “Atomic Playboys”. Musically, it sounds very similar to the song.

And when you want to talk about connections, Robin Crosby from Ratt kick started his career by getting him to sing in his pre-Ratt bands and getting him noticed. 

And Joe Floyd is an excellent guitarist/songwriter. If you’ve seen a Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford album, well he is listed in the production credits as either a mixer or engineer.

Immortal enemy, has come to challenge man / Secret science out of control

Who knew the immortal enemy is a virus. We cannot eradicate it, so we need to learn with it.

We are fighting for the earth

But no one is listening. As long as money rules the game, the Earth suffers.

Blood and corruption, hideous crimes / Lying leaders, controlling our minds

It feels like the rich and powerful don’t have to answer to anyone. Rules don’t apply to them. Then you have the news outlets who no one seems to fact check, also spreading lies like our elected leaders.

“Defenders of Creation” starts off with a riff that reminds me of “It’s Not Love” by Dokken. What came first, we will never know.

Leatherwolf – Endangered Species

In Europe it was released as “Leatherwolf” and in America it was released as “Endangered Species”. To confuse matters even more another self-titled album was released in 1987, which is different to this one.

But it was “Streetready” released in 89 that really got me interested in the band and I couldn’t find any of their early stuff at that point in time. But many years later, the internet made sure I did.

And this album is not on Spotify Australia but it’s on YouTube.

Musically, it’s metal the way I know it from a band trying to find where they fit into things. The tracks I like are “Endangered Species”, “Season Of The Witch” and “Leatherwolf”. But better songs would come after.

Mr Mister – Welcome To The Real World

Like Loverboy, but lighter in rock and roll. Like Marillion, but more poppy. Like Toto and their Africa period. Like U2 but not big on the social conscience lyrics.

That’s basically how I described em.

And there was no denying “On Broken Wings”. It was everywhere and I liked it. 134 million streams on Spotify demonstrates how big it is. And maybe because it reminded me of U2, I gravitated to it.

“Kyrie” is another song which still does the rounds at 33 million plus streams. This one reminds me of “Africa” from Toto and Marillion and I like it.

The labels tried their best to break up the band by offering vocalist Richard Page the vocalist gig in Toto to replace Bobby Kimball and then to replace Peter Cetera in Chicago.

But Page refused both offers.

In the end, this album (their second) was its biggest.

Once album number three “ Go On” stalled in sales a few years later, the writing was on the wall. Guitarist Steve Farris left in 88 and the remaining members went to work on album number 4 with session guitarists.  This was ready for release in 1990 but the label refused to release it and that was that. 

John Fogerty – Centrefield

I had no idea at the time the troubles he had with the labels and his old CCR songs but there was no denying that John Fogerty is a star. And the songs, “Vanz Kant Danz” and “Mr Greed” sum it up nicely about his struggles.

That opening lick in “The Old Man Down The Road” gets the foot tapping. Its instant and memorable. “Rock and Roll Girls” transports you back to those 60’s movies, hanging out on the boardwalk. “Mr Greed” is a blues rock slap down of his former label boss and the title track is a 12 bar blues romp. 

And that’s a wrap for 1985 part 6, and I’m off to 1977 for part 6.

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

2000 – Part 6

I still have quite a few more posts to do for 2000. I think I’m half way through it.

My musical likes were all over the place depending on my mood and what inspires me to pick up the guitar and play it.

Pantera – Reinventing The Steel

I didn’t hear this album when it came out. I moved away from Pantera after the hard-core vocals on “A Vulgar Display of Power”. Musically I liked it, lyrically I liked it, but the vocals I didn’t like. I knew eventually I would get back into listening to their catalogue because Dimebag is that good, that you need to listen to him. Plus he’s a mega Kiss fan, with Ace Frehley being an idol, along with Randy Rhoads.

Each song has some cool guitar moments, like “Hellbound” with its downtuned and flanged riff. Or “Revolution Is My Name” with its steroid infused blues rock riffs, like ZZ Top, down-tuned, and sped up.

What is my name?

Well, it’s revolution baby….

“Goddamn Electric” is like a Sabbath cut, musically, moving between so many different grooves and “I’ll Cast A Shadow” has an awesome intro riff and chromatic breakdown section full of brimstone and fire and moshing bodies.

Shadows Fall – Of One Blood

Musically, its heavy metal as I know it. To the reviewers and critics, they called the band copy cats of the Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal scene.

Vocally it’s a cross between death metal growls and abrasive Hetfield like vocals. The soaring and melodic clean tone vocals would come on later albums. Original vocalist Phil Labonte was out of the band because of musical differences and dreadlocked singer Brain Fair was in. And for those that don’t know, Labonte went on to form All That Remains and on occasions he filled in for Ivan Moody in Five Finger Death Punch.

Guitarist Jon Donais has been in Anthrax since 2013, appearing on “For All Kings”. Other guitarist Matt Bachand plays bass in various other bands like Hatebreed and Act of Defiance.

In relation to this album, better albums would come later.

RPWL – God Has Failed

They started off as a Pink Floyd cover band and then got a deal to make original music. For me, they took up the mantle that Pink Floyd was leaving behind with their lack of recorded output in the 1990’s and 2000’s. If you like “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” then you will like this.

“Hole In The Sky (Pt 1: Fly / Pt 2: Crawl To You)” opens the album. Its melancholic guitar arpeggios and Dave Gilmour like voice instantly hooks me in.

“Who Do You Think We Are” is the best cut for me. It’s the most accessible. It starts off with an emotive guitar solo, sounding more like a Beatles cut than a Pink Floyd cut with a Chorus that Oasis would be proud off. And that solo at the 3 minute mark, its Clapton like in the emotion stakes.

“In Your Dreams” sounds like “Sorrow” from Pink Floyd in the first part. This is the one that really got under peoples skins. And the chorus has a clear Genesis influence and it’s a nice mix of their influences in an accessible format. For someone to listen to this song and not be aware of the Pink Floyd and Genesis catalogue, this would sound original. And that is originality.

“Hole in The Sky (Pt 3: The Promise)” takes the riffs from the first two parts and adds an excellent one minute guitar solo. Set up a playlist and put both songs together, just to listen to how the song sounds complete.

This album got negative reviews because it lacked originality, but my view of originality is taking something that came before and using it to make something different.

When Kingdom Come appeared towards the late 80’s, they were marked as Led Zeppelin clones. I remember the critics blasting them, but the album sold. Because people want to listen to Led Zeppelin and Kingdom Come were doing songs that Led Zeppelin were no long doing.

RPWL was also doing things that Pink Floyd were no longer doing in 2000.

Joe Satriani – Engines Of Creation

He went industrial with this album.

Sampled drums and loops more or less kick off every song on the album. Satriani has enough goodwill in my book, that there will always be a bias towards his work. But there has to be a song that makes me want to pick up the guitar and learn it.

In this case, the ballad like “Until We Say Goodbye” is the song. Otherwise, the album is a miss.

Nickelback – The State

I think this album was released in 1999 in the Northern markets, and 2000 in the Australian market. It’s a forgotten album now when you look at the success which came after.

Two songs dominate this album.

“Breathe” is one of the best songs Nickelback has written. Just press play and listen to it. It has a riff which is recognisable, a drum pattern which is dominant and the vocal melodies from Chad Kroger are brilliant.

“Leader Of Men” is another great song as it rolls along with the acoustic in the intro and verses as it builds until the whole band comes in.

But there are some other cool sections within songs. “Diggin’ This” has a heavy groovy riff. “One Last Run” starts off with a double time metal like riff. “Hold Out Your Hand” also has a heavy dirge riff which I like.

Check out pre chart topping Nickelback.

Well that’s a wrap for another 2000 post. Off to 1985 for Part 6 we go.

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

August 2020 – Part 5

Jessie’s Girl 2 (feat Rick Springfield) – Coheed And Cambria

I’ve been a fan 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”.

Starting Over – Chris Stapleton

Rock bands used to do ballads like this, an acoustic guitar, a light drum shuffle and lyrics that take you down the sidewalk of life.

Chris Stapleton is a country artist and he came across my radar because my kids were listening to a collaboration he did with Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran, “BLOW”. And I was interested because it’s a blues rock monster with a wicked guitar riff.

Then I checked out his other songs, like “Parachute” which has over 135 million streams and “Tennessee Whiskey” which has 315+ million streams.

And became a fan.

The Lost Tapes – Dokken

“This was when I was on my own, and I was playing with Juan Croucier [Ratt] on bass. We went to Germany in ‘79 and did a tour, so these were all the demos we did.”

Don Dokken

Don Dokken never should have re-recorded some of the songs but he did because the tapes were bad.

But all is not lost. There are some early gems here, without any re-recordings.

So if you have the “Back In The Streets” EP, which I do, you don’t really need to buy “The Lost Tapes”, however, the “Back In The Streets” EP was released as a bootleg, so Don Dokken never got any royalties from the sale of the EP but he will get payment for this release.

So it’s no surprise that my favourite tracks on “The Lost Tapes” are from the “Back In The Streets” EP.

And I heard that Don Dokken used these actual songs (co-written by Lynch and Brown) to get a record deal under the name of Dokken and this started the rift with Lynch.

“Were Going Wrong” is written by Dokken and Lynch. It has a riff that came straight from “Hot N Ready” by UFO and a certain Rainbow track.

“Day After Day” is a brilliant ballad like the 70’s ballads, with a bluesy guitar solo that Don Dokken should be proud off.

“Felony” is a Dokken, Lynch and Brown cut and this song re-appeared on the “Breaking The Chains” album.

“Back In The Streets” is a Dokken and Lynch cut and it’s got that Sunset Strip vibe. “Liar” is a Dokken cut and its recorded live in the late 70’s, and a version of it appears on the “From Conception” album, a live recording of the early days with Lynch and Brown. 

For the following cuts I don’t have any info on at all. 

“Rainbows” is not on the EP I have and it’s a song I haven’t heard before, but it feels like a re-recording. The intro riff is good. And I don’t know who wrote it.

“Hit And Run” appeared on the “From Conception Live 1981” released in 2007. This song was written for the “Breaking The Chains” album. I’m pretty sure that Lynch is playing on this version and how this song didn’t make the album confuses me. 

S&M 2 – Metallica

I thought this was unnecessary. 

But when artists suddenly cannot tour because of COVID-19, this album suddenly took on a different meaning to me.

It’s a celebration of Metallica. It’s a celebration of gathering and cramming into a venue to let our hair down and be infected with live music. It’s a celebration of bands performing live and bringing their circus to town. This time with a whole symphony.

And since 1998 they have released other albums, so it was good to hear those tracks get the orchestra treatment.

Songs like “The Day Never Comes”, “Confusion”, “Moth Into Flame”, “Halo On Fire”, “The Unforgiven III” and “All Within My Hands”.

Plus there are two symphonies in “The Iron Foundry” from composer Alexander Mosolov and “Scythian Suite” from composer Sergei Prokofiev.

“The Memory Remains” was a favourite of mine when it came out on “Reload” but over the last 15 years, it’s become one of those powerful singalong concert moments like “For Whom The Bells Toll”.

“The Outlaw Torn” is a favourite from the “Load” album, and it’s also a song which translates well with the whole symphony. Plus that outro groove/riff is essential listening.

And “No Leaf Clover” is always a blast to listen too. 

Another World – Gojira

From France.

What a journey it’s been for them. 

Their style morphed from being a technical death metal band to a heavy metal band and now to a hard rock act.

Regardless of style, it’s the riffage that gets me interested.

And their lyrics deal with society and the environment.

Manhattan Skyline – Ihsahn, Einar Solberg

I’ve been a fan of Ihsahn for a long time.

My cousin was into Black Metal. I never got the industrial vocals part, but the movement did give us blast beats to incorporate into normal metal songs and it also introduced symphonic elements to metal music. 

It’s a long way from the Norwegian Black Metal movement he was involved in as the co-founder and guitarist with Emperor.

They wore corpse paint and he didn’t spend any time in prison, while his other Emperor band members committed murder and arson. And his views on Satanism and Christianity always got people talking, even the very open minded Norwegians.

But don’t let the stories detract from listening. Listen with your ears and an open mind as his solo releases just keep pushing the boundaries. 

On this song, Einar Solberg from Leprous (or his sister in law) is guesting with him and it feels like the Euro Pop songs from the 80’s. Its catchy and infectious.

Scars – Fates Warning

There will always be a bias towards Fates Warning. 

This band has been a part of my life for a long time and I still rate their 2000 album “Disconnect” as a perfect connector between the hard rock and metal prog of their earlier albums with the prog of Tool and Porcupine Tree which relied more on groove and atmospheric textures. 

And with “Scars” they continue on their own prog journey, fusing different styles and elements and more emphasis on expression than technicality and even more emphasis on progressive song writing than the standard verse and chorus structure.

Kill The Lights

The album is called “The Sinner” and it’s from a metalcore supergroup band which features members from bands who all had record deals and some success in the past.

Vocalist James Clark (Throw The Fight), guitarist Jordan Whelan (Still Remains), drummer ‘Moose’ Thomas (Bullet For My Valentine) and bassist Travis Montgomery (Threat Signal).

And I had the impression that the album would be screaming verses and melodic Choruses. While that is true for some songs, it’s does have some subtleness.

Stand out songs are “The Faceless”, “Through The Night”, “Tear Me Apart”, “The Enemy”, “Sober”, “Rest” and “Unmoved”.

They worked over the last two and a half years to put the album together and it’s a good mix of songs with different emotions and feelings. Fearless Records signed them after a whole year of negotiations.

“The Enemy” is a great track with a fast guitar opening riff and a foot stomping chorus.

“Through The Night” deals with the anxiety and depression that vocalist James went through. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and that really kicked off his struggles and they kicked in again when his children came into the world.

Adelitas Way and Seether also dropped albums this month, but they will be reviewed in next month’s list.

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

August 2020 – Part 2 – 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 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.

This is what JP said on Twitter; “The ending to “Temple Of Circadia” is also a highpoint for me in the all-out jamming nature that ends the song and I also thought finishing the album with a guitar cadenza like I did was the perfect way to put an exclamation point on the entire record”.

“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.

Over the course of just a week, he is already over the 120K number for each song with the pre-album release songs like “Terminal Velocity” at 360K and growing. So people are listening to the album over and over and over again. And that’s a good thing.

And these numbers, just don’t happen magically.

Petrucci has done something which I didn’t think he would do. He had a Twitter listening party and as he was listening to the album, he tweeted bits about each song, little nuggets here and there about certain sections and how they came about and how hard it is to play. He was connecting with his fans in a way he hasn’t done before.

And its resonating.

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

August 2020 – Part 1

I guess John Kalodner was really onto something when he got David Coverdale to reimagine some of the older Whitesnake songs for future Whitesnake releases.

In case you are not aware, “Here I Go Again”, “Crying In The Rain” and “Fool For Your Loving” all appeared on early Whitesnake albums before getting a reimagined feel and sound in 1987 and 1989.

So fast forward 33 years later from those innovative 80s days and reimagined tracks are a real phenomenon.

Because even though artists took offence to what Daniel Ek said about being more prolific in releasing product, deep down they know it’s true, especially if they want to stay relevant in the modern world. Because news travels fast and dies fast.

Last week’s release is forgotten and replaced by this week’s release. This is true for the casual fans, who make up the majority, while super fans will spend weeks on the same release, like how I’m overdosing on Vanishing Point’s new album “Dead Elysium” right now.

Break In (Reimagined)– Halestorm (feat. Amy Lee)

Halestorm released an EP called ‘Reimagined’ EP on August 14, 2020. And they get it. They always break up the album cycle with a covers EP in between. This time around, they did one cover song and a few reimagined tracks.

“Break In” appeared on ‘The Strange Case Of…’ album released in 2012. And the way it’s done, its haunting. It’s a perfect duet between Lzzy Hale and Amy Lee.

We Stich These Wounds (Reimagined) – Black Veil Brides

They wanted to do this reimagined album a while back, but their contract with Universal didn’t allow them, nor was the label interested in re-recordings. But that contract is now done and dusted and the band is on Sumerian Records.

I like the music on the “We Stich These Wounds” album. They are basic metal riffs in the way that I know metal and the lead breaks are 80’s like shred which basically combines EVH, Randy Rhoads and Yngwie Malmsteen. Overall the sound is updated and better than the lo-fi style of mix on the original.

This album is like a companion to the original, the way the re-release of “Under The Blade” on Atlantic is a companion piece to the original pressing of the album on “Secret Records”.

Make Love Great Again – Stryper

There has to be a distortion pedal called Stryper because their high treble distortion is unique enough to warrant a distortion pedal.

Musically this song is excellent and heavy. There’s no mellowing out for Michael Sweet as he gets older.

There’s a culture
That’s building walls
Just like vultures
Consuming all

We are back to having civil unrest based on skin and race. All of the laws about discrimination in the last 50 years, are not worth the paper they are printed on, especially when people need to take to the streets to show that their lives matter.

But hope is alive, it never died
Make love great again
Fight for it till the end

It’s how we survive. Work hard and make our luck and we hope to live a better life. But not everyone sees it the same. Lie, steal and manipulate is their way to a better life. And if they get away with it, then others believe they need to do the same thing as well. Until it all comes crashing down, the way it did for all those predators in the meToo movement.

Space Truckin’ – Ace Frehley

I’ve always loved the groove on this song. Especially that 12 bar blues chromatic riff in the Chorus.

While his original creativity takes time, it’s okay to rock out to songs that you like.

And Ace really brings the energy on this.

Again – Black Stone Cherry

Have I told ya that I’m a fan.

Black Stone Cherry and their brand of heavy melodic groove rock influenced by blues grooves from the 70’s is perfect for my ears.

How good does this start off, with the bass drum acting like a click and a guitar riff.

You’re lost and so confused from a choice you couldn’t choose
I know just how it feels cause I felt that somewhere too

Don’t deny yourself the life you want to live because you are worried about not being good enough or how you will be judged by others or because it’s risky. Because that benefits no one, especially you. So don’t let the odds stop you from doing what you know in your heart and mind you are meant to do. Because there are so many of us in that space.

Burning Blade – Andy James

One of the best instrumental guitar players doing the rounds at the moment in the field of heavy rock and melodic metal.

In Trance – Night Demon with Uli Jon Roth

Night Demon might not have the most eye catching name, but the brand of metal they play is rooted in the metal I like, which is the NWOBHM and 80’s LA Sunset Strip Metal and 80’s German/Scandinavian Metal. Plus they get Uli Jon Roth to appear live with them.

Down In A Hole – Khemmis

Man, this cover version of one of my favourite AIC songs, is epic doom metal. It makes Bathory’s “Twilight Of The Gods” sound light compared to the down tuned lead in this song. And I don’t know anything about this band, except they keep appearing on playlists.

For The Love Of Metal (Live) – Dee Snider

Dee is the true “Leader of the Pack”. He still brings the goods live while his contemporaries have resorted to backing tracks and retirement. He voices his opinions and whether you agree or disagree, you need to respect.

And this live accompaniment to the excellent album is worth it, as Dee brings out classics from his TS days, plus his solo career releases.

How good is the opening song, “Lies Are A Business” and I forgot how heavy “The Beast” from TS is?

The band is in fine form, but the star is Dee and his banter between the songs. He’s like a comedian. And the best celebration is hearing so many different songs from so many different projects all in the one set list. There are Twisted Sister songs, Widowmaker songs and of course, Dee Snider solo songs, especially from the last two releases, plus you get an original studio song “Prove Me Wrong”.

It’s perfect.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

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

July 2020 – Part 4

Vanishing Point

My favourite Australian metal act from Melbourne, who are under lockdown right now, because of a massive second wave.

Their new album is coming out soon.

So far “Dead Elysium” and “Salvus” have dropped and I can’t stop playing em.

“Dead Elysium” with its keys and syncopated guitar riffs remind me of Evergrey.

“Salvus” has this major key vibe in the intro, which hooks me in. And without having any information, it looks like the song title is a play on “Salvation + Us.”

It’s an addictive song, so I press repeat again.

7 Angels

The song and band are also called “7 Angels” and Mark Slaughter guests. Its Moroccan style intro gets me interested, but its the balls to the wall hard rock vibe gets me interested.

Perfect Plan

“Better Walk Alone” is typical of the melodic rock coming out of Europe and the Frontiers Label. Its derivative but still a good listen. Check out the Chorus on this. Its huge.

“Time For A Miracle” kicks off with the military snare and a guitar riff that reminds me of Kashmir from Led Zeppelin in its triplet like pattern. And the verses remind me of “Metropolis Pt 1” from Dream Theater.

I’m interested. The whole album is coming out soon.

Andy James

“Die A Devil” is the song, another instrumental piece which has a lot of good melodic moments, shred and some great riffs.

Three Days Grace

Have you seen the memes about Gotye with the punchline of “Hey, you are somebody That I Used To Know”?

Anyway, Three Days Grace (the version of the band that exists right now) is bringing the song back into our lives, in a modern rock way. Then again, I’ve always said that Gotye’s song is a copy of song from The Police called “King Of Pain”.

Haken

The album is “Virus”, which is a coincidence because the title was decided way before the whole COVID-19 spread worldwide.

So if you like progressive and technical rock/metal, then this album would fill the void. This band actually came onto my radar because they reminded me of Dream Theater, and some of the guys in the band toured with Mike Portnoy as “The Shattered Fortress”. But on this album, while they have kept that Dream Theater influence, they’ve decorated it with a bit of Periphery style technical metal.

And I was going to do a review on the album but the Angry Metal Guy nailed it. Check it out.

Starset

I kept seeing this band getting radio plays on a different blog I follow, so I thought I should check em out.

And the song that keeps getting radio plays is not my favourite at all. If I had to make a decision to like the band on that song, then it would be a pass. However, I stuck around and listened to the whole album called “Divisions” which came out last year.

And my favourite songs, are “Where The Skies End”, “Perfect Machine”, “Stratosphere”, “Faultline”, “Solstice” and “Diving Bell”.

Ocean Alley

It came up on a rock playlist and I checked the album, but I only like two of the songs. “Tombstone” and “Way Down”. These two songs remind me of The Night Flight Orchestra and early Marillion.

Primal Fear

“Metal Commando” is the name of the album and it’s the usual metal fair with song titles like “I Am Alive”, “Along Came The Devil” and “My Name Is Fear”.

Pinnacle Point

This band could release an album under the Kansas band name and people would believe it’s Kansas. “Symphony Of Mind” is the album and go to tracks are “Ascent To The Point”, “Never Surrender”. “Shadows Of Peace” and “Dangerous Times”.

Well that’s it for July 2020 releases.

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

July 2020 – Part 2

Love Become Law
The Cherry Truck Band

It’s a combination of Black Stone Cherry and Monster Truck.

And the intro riff reminds me of “Conquistador” from 30 Seconds To Mars.

Stand for peace / if it takes everything

I don’t know if we really know what that means this days. The narrative has moved from evil countries to our own backyards and evil/corrupt politicians who are a threat to peace in the name of economics. And these politicians have realised that when people have money, they feel safe and the majority will be obedient little servants.

So are we willing to risk everything to stand for peace.

Iris
Diamante, Breaking Benjamin

A cover.

It’s okay and it got me interested to re-listen to the original from The Goo Goo Dolls, which is a lot better.

How huge was that song back in the 90s?

And the good thing about covers is that they re-introduce a classic song to a whole new audience.

Just ask Quiet Riot (their Slade covers) and Motley Crue (“Helter Skelter”, “Smokin In The Boys Room”, “Jailhouse Rock”) just to name a few.

The Unknown
10 Years

I really dig their brand of music which is a mixture of so many different styles I like.

“How did we end up here, sifting through our own ashes?”

Every event and moment that transpires in the now, is rooted to a past decision. That other place you purchased over the first place or the extra drink you had and the strings that came with that.

“No one can survive at the speed of light forever”

Life is fluid and fast. It’s so much faster today than ever before. As I type this, the explosion in Beirut was all over the news and 24 hours later it was done.

“Time moves on and carries us into the great unknown”

We don’t know what the future holds. As Sarah Connor said at the end of “Judgement Day”;

“The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”

Come On Out – RAC Mix
The Airborne Toxic Event

This song sounds like a My Chemical Romance track mixed with “Heroes” from David Bowie. And I like it.

It’s About Time
Jefferson Starship

This one took me by surprise.

It’s just a good pop rock song. And I have no idea who is in Jefferson Starship right now, but don’t let the band name be a detractor.

Lions
Look Into Me
Winner Takes All
Tokyo Motor Fist

“The world is in chaos” is how “Lions” starts off.

And it sure is.

We are trying to live with the new normal, with restrictions and lockdown, then the COVID-19 numbers get better and we start to open up, only to see the numbers go up again and restrictions kick in. I’ve been working from home for six months, with no end in sight.

Eagle
Crazy Lixx

The bass groove is like “Heaven And Hell” but the guitar and synths decorations are pure melodic rock.

Always The Villain
Michael Grant And The Assassins

This album was mentioned over at 2Loud2OldMusic and because it’s a Frontiers release, I went to Spotify to check it out.

And I became a fan on the first listen.

So who is Michael Grant?

He plays all the instruments on this album except for 5 tracks, he calls in a different drummer.

So when you listen to the album, remember that Michael Grant is playing those riffs, the majority of the drum tracks, the bass lines, the lead lines and he does all the vocals.

“The Assassins” comes from his touring band, but they didn’t play on the album.

And before going solo, Grant was the founder, and lead singer/guitarist in the alternative melodic hard rock band “Endeverafter” between 2004 and 2012, who had a deal with Epic Records, and they released one album “Kiss Or Kill” in 2007.

From 2012 to 2018, Grant was the guitarist in LA Guns and also wrote and recorded “The Missing Peace” album with them, released in 2017. The LA Guns camp said he left the band to pursue his solo project, while Grant said he was fired from the band.

Anyway.

Every single song on this album is melodic, with good riffs, catchy AOR choruses and great leads.

“Nightmare” is my favorite today, because of the lead break that reminds me of Dave Gilmour but depending on the day or my mood, other tracks take over.

Ignite The Sky
Bloody Heels

This one also appeared on 2Loud2OldMusic as a new release coming out for the week, and like Michael Grant, it’s a Frontiers release, so I went to Spotify, pressed play and became a fan.

Because the album reminds me of Hurricane, Slaughter, Babylon AD, Tangier, Steelheart and Hericane Alice. All bands I like.

And I have no idea about the band members, place of origin or any histories. It’s just the music, leading me.

“Ignite The Sky” sounds like it could have come from Harem Scarem with a Mark Slaughter like vocal line. “Criminal Masterminds” is my favourite today as the lyrics tell us there is no difference between a man in a suit and tie and a man with a 45.

“Black Swan” reminds me of Def Leppard in the Chorus. “Stand Your Ground” has this harmony lead which connects. “Silhouette” has a clean tone arpeggio riff that reminds of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” from Warrant.

“In Between”
Beartooth

I saw that this song got a certification in the US and I was like;

Who is this?

And what do they sound like?

So I pressed play on the song and I was surprised.

And I like the vocal line, “it’s easy to lose yourself in between.” Because, when we are transitioning from one path to another, it’s easy to forget who we are in the in between.

Escape Artist
Rise Against

I really like this band. I’ve been a fan since 2005.

“It’s a lottery of life, we just play it”

I read somewhere about how the human body is fighting death from its first breath. Some make it to old age and some don’t.

And everything is a lottery. That story you write, could become popular or be ignored. That song you write, could become popular or be ignored.

But if you don’t play the lottery, you’ll never, ever know.

Colour and Shape
Joe Bonamassa

I am a fan of Bonamassa when he’s in that blues rock, heavy rock vibe. And sometimes, he pulls out soulful ballads like this one. It’s a fusion of blues, funk with a bit of 7th and 9th jazz chords chucked in. But it’s the lead break at 2.40 that made me become a fan of this song.

Lost
Friends
Arctic Rain

“I was lost in the middle of nowhere” is how “Lost” begins, before a melodic lead kicks off the intro.

And its melodic rock with huge choruses.

Part 3 of July is coming up.

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

July 2020 – Part 1

How Do We Want To Live?
Long Distance Calling

From Germany, its instrumental Pink Floyd style rock with Tool like grooves and a few vocal tracks. But it’s the moods they set that always hook me in.

“Hazard” has this palm muted riff from 1.42 and it morphs into this little melodic lick from about 2.25 to 2.56. Then its silence and an arpeggio guitar riff begins, while a female voice hauntingly talks about AI possessing a certain set of skills which could turn AI into a superhuman. And its silent for a brief moment, then I’m hooked again from 3.56, when the emotive lead kicks in. It’s a few notes, a few bends, but its impact is immense.

“Voices” and that riff from 2.30, it’s like a palm muted digital delay lick. “Immunity” has this riff/lead from 2.50 and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and from about 3.39 it morphs into a Muse like riff.

And if you want to hear just one track, then “Sharing Thoughts” is the track, especially that whole movement from 1.31 to the end. Then again, the section that starts from 3.05 is essential listening.

Night Demon

“Night Demon” does a new take on an old sound and I like it. “Vysteria” is their new single release and on Spotify, they combined various single releases into an EP. Since they came up with the word, they define “Vysteria” as “exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement incited by the media, especially among a group of people during a pandemic”.

“Vysteria” is basically about COVID-19 and how our lives have been affected by restrictions and lockdown, with the conspiracy catch cry of “is it the end of the world, or the thinning of the herd”.

NOBODY IS SAFE
THE VIRUS HAS NO PREDJUDICE
NO BLACK OR WHITE
THE RICH AMONG THE POOR

“Are You Out There” feels like it came from “On Through The Night” and the self-titled Maiden debut. “Kill The Pain” has this “Where Eagles Dare” start before it morphs into a Judas Priest/Metallica cut. “Empires Fall” is “Hit The Lights” only faster. Then again the song is a cover from a NWOBHM band.

The Game Is Over – Evanescence

“The Game Is Over” has me interested to hear what will come next.

A bell tolls and a drum beat plays.

The bass kicks in and Amy Lee’s iconic voice starts telling us she’s had enough of the relationship.

Your sweet words they mean nothing, save your breath
The game is over

Empty Promises – Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

Kingfish can play that guitar. I was searching the various sites for new Blues Rock artists to listen to and Kingfish got some loving on a few sites, which got me interested. So I checked him out and I’m glad I did.

The arpeggios to kick it off get me interested, but it’s that lead that kicks in at the 35 second mark that seals the deal.

And the vocals start at 1.10, soulful and bluesy.

Dawn Of The Demos – Taking Dawn

I didn’t think I would like so many cuts from this. If you want to know what this band is like, they started off as “7th Son” in reference to their favourite Maiden album. So heavy metal the way I know it from the 80’s is what this band is about.

“Break”, “Still Breathing”. “Endlessly”, “Godless” and “Transcend The Trend” are favourites.

And if you want a track to check out, go for “Endlessly”.

My Body Is A Cage – Peter Gabriel

“My Body Is A Cage” appeared in the Netflix series “Dark”. It appeared in this crucial ending of an episode and the vocal line echoed the angst of the scene. So I was Shazamming it, because I wanted to know who sang it.

And it was Peter Gabriel. I presumed it was an old cut but it came out in 2010. So it’s relatively new.

Tiny Little Movies – Will Hoge

Will Hoge came into my headspace from the blog 2Loud2OldMusic.

And although not all of the songs connected, the ones had that this country blues soul rock vibe did, like “Midway Motel”, “The Overthrow” and “Even When The River Runs Out Of This Town” are my favourites.

High And Dry – Slade

This came on my radar via Traci Guns who shared a clip of himself playing the vinyl to Dee Snider and he asked Dee to guess who. Dee guessed the artist but he didn’t guess the song.

So I went to Shazam it, while it was playing on TG’s account and I found out it’s called “High And Dry”.

And it came out in 1983 on the album “The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome” which was re-released in the U.S in 1984 as “Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply”.

And the section he shared is that melodic lead break which immediately hooked me in. It’s never too late to discover something new that’s old.

Part 2 of July 2020 is coming up.

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

June 2020 – Part 3

Palimpsest
Protest The Hero

The cover of the raging bull with the American flag draped over a horn, tattered and torn, really got my attention. It’s a great piece of art.

I had to Google what “Palimpsest” meant. And it means, “a manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on the erased earlier writing.” Another definition which breaks it down is, “something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.”

Protest The Hero can play their instruments. Their music moves between technical metal with textures from a lot of different genres. So they really earn the “progressive metal” title.

A Metal Injection review said, “the bands Queensryche meets Between The Buried And Me approach makes albums like 2013’s “Volition” indispensable amalgamations of conceptual grandiosity and technicality”.

And if you want a killer review of the album that I agree with, then the metal injection one is it. This album will be streamed for a while.

Landing In Heaven
Free Spirits Rising

About landing in a place in the afterlife and not knowing you are there.

And the best bit is when it changes half way through to a massive 2 plus minute outro section.

I guess “until it’s time to meet again, I’ll be here waiting”. There is an instrumental version of the song as well.

Press repeat.

Beyond Your Limits
Long Distance Calling

There album dropped recently and I’ve added all of it to my July playlist. From Germany, I am a fan of their instrumental rock grooves and I am hearing some vocals on this album.

The last three minutes.

The moods that deconstructs and reconstructs the song. Brilliant.

Then that last 30 seconds with that emotive lead break.

So I press repeat to listen again.

Back To Life
H.E.A.T

From the bands website: “In the new world order, we find ourselves in a position where we can’t go on tour, we feel we have a duty to bring some vibe to the summer of 2020. So kick back, grab a drink, make your backyard a festival area and let us bring you back to life.

And that’s exactly what I did, in the winter of 2020, Australian style.

Blood From Above
Stryper

From the upcoming “Even The Devil Believes” album, which will surely get the clergy into a mess. Its classic Stryper. Here is a review from a blog that I follow which I totally agree with.

Cradle Rock
Joe Bonamassa

When Bonamassa rocks out like he does on this one, I’m all in.

And the title hooked me in straight away because it reminded me of “And The Cradle Will Rock”. There is even a small section in the lead break, that brings back memories of Van Halen.

After A Few
Another Lost Year

I feel a bit tipsy after a few and I’m ready for a party, but in this song, they take it too far and make it way too hard to move on, after a few drinks.

A great listen.

Dangerous
Seether

That bass riff to kick off the song sounds dangerous as we are told to take off the blinders that cover our eyes.

Hot Damn
White Flame

That funky groove. Hot Damn.

Dead Elysium
Vanishing Point

From Melbourne, Australia and one of the best progressive metal bands out there.

It’s been six plus years since they released the excellent “Distant Is The Sun” and in between they have had their setbacks in getting this album done, especially around vocalist Silvio Massaro and his throat infections and respiratory illnesses.

If you like bands like Evergrey, then there is no way you can’t like Vanishing Point. Guitarist Chris Porcianko is an excellent song writer, creating intricate and syncopated riffs. And the dude can shred and be emotive as well.

This is the title track of album number 6.

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

And I was all in.

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

June 2020 – Part 2

Shine On
Adelitas Way
This Means War
Aware At Last featuring Adelitas Way

“Shine On” is a good song. Reminds me a lot of Tesla and the “Forever More” album.

And it’s virtually ignored.

The YouTube video dropped a few days ago and it has less than 5000. It doesn’t even rate in the Top 5 listened songs on Spotify.

But it should.

Break
Still Breathing
Taking Dawn

They started off as “7th Son” in tribute to their favourite Maiden album. Signed to Roadrunner and then neglected by Roadrunner.

This one is from their “Dawn Of The Demos” album released during COVID-19.

London 1666
Alcatrazz

There best known phase was with Malmsteen on guitar. “No Parole From Rock N Roll” and “Live Sentence” are good metal albums.

Fast forward 30 plus years later and Yngwie devotee Joe Stump is on guitar. He riffs and shreds like Malmsteen and Alcatrazz haven’t sounded this good for a long time.

The intro riff could have come from the “Marching Out” album. And Graham Bonnet, he might not look like a stereotypical metal singer, but he has the pipes for it.

So far they have dropped two songs from the upcoming “Born Innocent” album and I am liking.

When Ignorance Turns To Bliss
Good Days, Bad Days
Eric Steckel

I was searching the blogs for blues rock guitarists to sink my ears into that have come out in the last 15 years. And it wasn’t a simple search. I was going in deep, reading reviews of albums and various blogs and what not. Like the good old days of searching vinyl.

Eric Steckel and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram are two blues rock dudes that have come out of this search and I have gotten into.

And man, they can play and they can sing.

Eric Steckel reminds me of what Jake E. Lee was trying to do with Badlands crossed with a bit of Bad Company. Steckel can be emotive, bluesy and if needed, he can metal it up and shred.

“Good Days, Bad Days” is my favourite of the bunch. It’s a subdued and melancholic, rhythm and blues rock tune with a killer emotive lead break.

Stop The Bleeding (featuring Jesse Leach)
Bulletproof
Machine Head

“Stop The Bleeding” is a great song. The riffage, the punk like feel in the chorus and the lyrics, “Beating after beating, throat choked under knee, help me please because I can’t breathe, just stop the bleeding”.

The whole world is aware but will anything really change in the long run.

Like the lyrics in “Bulletproof”, “The rich mad with power, the poor left to bleed”. And its these people and the organisations they represent that will do whatever it takes to keep their power and all their multiple zeroes in their bank accounts.

As Y&T sing in “Masters And Slaves”, “there’s only kings and queens and you’re a pawn in their game” and “like masters and slaves, we are divided that way”.

In the state of Victoria, in Australia, they are experiencing a second wave of outbreaks of COVID-19. Government housing buildings and suburbs which are not wealthy are in lockdown, but the wealthier suburbs are not in lockdown. So what gives.

Who are people who live in affluent suburbs so special?

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