Music, My Stories

The Record Vault: Music As A Weapon

The Disturbed Record Vault series is almost at an end.

“Music as a Weapon” is a series of concert tours created by Disturbed. All up this tour did the rounds seven different times.

In 2001, the first edition featured Disturbed, Drowning Pool, Adema, Stereomud and Systematic.

In 2003, which is also the tour captured on the CD, it featured Disturbed, Chevelle, Taproot and Unloco.

In 2006, the tour featured Disturbed, Stone Sour, Flyleaf and Nonpoint.

In 2008, the tour came to Australia and New Zealand which I caught. It featured Disturbed, P.O.D., Alter Bridge, Redline and Behind Crimson Eyes.

In 2009, the tour featured a bigger line up, with Disturbed, Killswitch Engage, Lacuna Coil, Chimaira, Suicide Silence, Spineshank, Crooked X, Bury Your Dead, Born of Osiris and After the Burial.

In 2011, the line-up was Disturbed, Korn, Sevendust, In This Moment and StillWell. It’s also the first time the tour had co-headliners with Disturbed and Korn. The Australia and New Zealand edition had Disturbed, Trivium, As I Lay Dying, Forgiven Rival and These Four Walls.

But back to the “Music as a Weapon II”.

It was recorded at The Aragon in Chicago in 2003, and released in 2004.

The DVD also contains Disturbed’s video for their single “Liberate” and it was Disturbed’s last release with bass guitarist Steve Kmak.

On a different note, it was also Unloco’s final release before splitting up. But vocalist Joey Duenas did form a new band called “Anew Revolution” and released two excellent albums called “Rise” in 2008 and “iMerica” in 2010. But that band is also no more.

“Loading the Weapon” (instrumental)

An instrumental track from Disturbed that is not on any album. I love the mood that this track creates.

“Bound”

It then explodes into “Bound” from the “Believe” album.

“Myself”

This CD was my first exposure to Taproot. The live recording didn’t captivate me to listen any further.

“Dehumanized”

It was written and recorded for the “Believe” album, however it didn’t make the final cut. But it was played live during the “Believe” tour and released as a B side to the “Stricken” single from the “Ten Thousand Fists” album, alongside “Hell”.

And it was finally released on “The Lost Children” album.

“Forfeit”

My first exposure to Chevelle and I was instantly a fan. The live recording isn’t the best, but the Tool like grooves into a concise 4 minute song was of interest to me.

“Fade to Black”

From Disturbed.

A Metallica cover. And how good is the whole intro with the acoustic arpeggios and lead break.

“Empty”

My first exposure to Unloco.

“Sumtimes”

Taproot’s other song on the album. It’s like Staind and the track is more accessible than the previous one. But still not interested.

“Darkness”

From the “Believe” album. The piano and acoustic guitar is haunting. Draiman’s vocal delivery is excellent.

“Bruises”

From “Unloco”. This song was in “The Matrix” movies and various video games.

“Prayer”

From the “Believe” album, the fast staccato riffing in the Intro isn’t as powerful as the album version, but I do like the slight increase in tempo which makes the fast staccato riffing even faster.

And Draiman delivers vocally.

“The Red”

David Draiman makes an appearance with Chevelle. Its pitchy especially when Draiman joins in with the harmonies but that’s what performing live is all about.

“Poem”

Song number three from Taproot. The riff sounded interesting and a bit complex, so from this song, I would go on to check out more Taproot eventually.

“Stupify”

From “The Sickness” album, and Peter Loeffler from Chevelle and Joey Duenas from Unloco make an appearance.

In the end, it’s live with no studio overdubs and very different to the live albums I grew up with, (which were basically re-cut in a studio).

I also like how Disturbed put three unreleased songs on this album.

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1996 – Part 3.1: Scorpions – Pure Instinct

Man, the Scorpions sure know how to cause a bit of controversy with their album covers. Remember “Virgin Killer” or “Lovedrive” and to a lesser extent “Animal Magnetism”. Well, you can add “Pure Instinct” to the list.

And all of this controversy generated an alternative cover, with the Scorpion guys acting like animals..

And the music catalog of Scorpions is all over the place when it comes to streaming services. This album like many others from the Scorpions is not available on streaming services like Spotify, Deezer or Apple, but hey YouTube has it.

So “Pure Instinct” is album thirteen. Released in 1996 it’s basically forgotten.

Klaus Meine is on vocals, Rudolf Schenker on rhythm guitars, Matthias Jabs on lead guitars and Ralph Rieckermann on bass. For drums they used a session player (aka a “Hired Gun”) called Curt Cress.

The main Producer is Erwin Musper with 80s legend Keith Olsen, producing tracks 1 and 7.

“Wild Child”

Produced by Keith Olsen.

Bag pipes play a Celtic like melody before the crunchy guitars of Rudolf Schenker kick in. Its classic Scorpions delivering a kick ass rock song.

Check out the lead breaks from Mattias Jabs especially the outro solo.

And to close out, the bag pipe melody is back in. Musically it’s as good as any hard rock track from the Scorpions.

“But the Best for You”

Klaus Meine wrote the song.

It’s more Bryan Adams in the Intro than the Euro Scorpions Rock and the verses are very heavily influenced by ELP and the song “From The Beginning”.

What is it with that ELP track?

Dokken covered the ELP track a year before on “Dysfunctional”.

The Chorus also has that “You Give Love A Bad Name” vibe.

“Does Anyone Know”

Another Meine composition and its the first ballad on the album.

Another day has just begun
Life goes on there’s no return
How can I trust anyone
When honesty is such a dirty word

A breakdown in a relationship is not easy especially when you’ve been deceived.

The guitar solo from Jabs is excellent, reminding me a bit of a certain UFO guitarist who did time in Scorpions.

“Stone in My Shoe”

The hard rock of Schenker is back and its got that 70’s feel.

“Soul Behind the Face”

The intro remimds of the Uli Jon Roth era with a bit of Neal Schon.

And even though the acoustic guitar is prominent in the verses, i class the song as a rocker.

And Meine’s lyrics are better here, questioning who he’s real friends are.

And What a Chorus!.

“Oh Girl (I Wanna Be with You)”

A mix of “No One Like You” and “Passion Rules the Game”.

“When You Came into My Life”

A ballad written by Meine and Schenker along with Titiek Puspa and James F. Sundah.

The intro arpeggios remind me of something, but I cant remember what.

The acoustic lead break by Jabs is brief.

“Where the River Flows”

I thought of Collective Soul when I saw this title, even though their version came after. A rock song but with a strummed acoustic as the main focal point.

Under suburban skies
Where life is bleeding
Where concrete skies are grey
There’s plenty of room for dreaming

My hometown has sure changed. Suburbia has moved from the house into the apartment which goes up many levels.

“Time Will Call Your Name”

It’s like a long lost cut from Led Zep III.

“You and I”

A boring ballad to me but it got played live.

“Are You the One?”

A ballad to close the album with.

Skip.

And the album was a Top 10 album in Germany and Finland. It was also a Top 20 album in France, Switzerland and Austria.

It was also certified Gold in Germany, France and Finland.

In the end, it was a release to keep the Scorpions brand going. But the songs feel dull and uninspired. Other artists who had fame in the 80s ask struggled during this period, unsure of what to write, how to sound and how they fit in. Like when Slayer delivered a Nu-Metal album, you knew as a fan that bands were doing it tough.

Klaus Meine at 48 years of age was still writing about “Wild Child’s” and other irrelevant 80s cliches. But on some songs he showed us that there is a questioning human behind the rock star bravado.

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Disturbed – Evolution

I don’t own it. Between 2016 and 2019, I didn’t buy a lot of music as streaming was becoming king.

Released in 2018 and after the success of “The Sound Of Silence”, it was inevitable that the sound of Disturbed would evolve to include a lot of acoustic guitars.

In the interviews leading up to the release, the guys in the band mentioned that the classic rock music they grew up with, influenced the writing of this album.

And this time around, Kevin Churko is also listed as a songwriter along with the band (like how Mutt Lange was listed as a writer with the bands he worked with) and the song “Uninvited Guest” has Dianne Warren as a co-writer. Yes the “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” Dianne.

Are You Ready

A throwback to the first two albums in musical style, lyrics and vocal phrasing with an anthemic Chorus.

No More

It’s got a riff and drum groove that reminds me of “The Beautiful People” from Marylyn Manson.

In the Chorus, if you like Swedish Hard Rock or Euro Hard Rock, then you’ll get your fix here.

A Reason To Fight

One of the first acoustic tracks on the album, about not giving up when the demon inside you wants you to. Not a favorite.

In Another Time

The start feels poppy, but then a “Kashmir” like riff kicks in.

The way the verses are delivered vocally is more in line with the popular charting songs.

And the Chorus. Huge.

Stronger On Your Own

A drum groove that reminds me of the first album from Imagine Dragons is prominent but the song still sounds like Disturbed with a bit of Shinedown.

Hold On To Memories

A simple strummed progression on the acoustic guitar starts it off, and then a melodic acoustic lead kicks in.

Draiman is hopeful, sending a message to take the ones you love and hold em close, and to make the most of your life.

And the song remains in the acoustic domain throughout, like “A Reason To Fight”.

Saviour Of Nothing

The heavy rock is back.

But the song was pedestrian, until the interlude section from 2.40 got me interested.

Then a lead break started, first with some Digitech Whammy effects and the shred kicked in after.

Watch You Burn

The acoustic guitars are back, more Led Zeppelin like especially the interlude.

The Best Ones Lie

Its back to the Disturbed Hard Rock sound.

Already Gone

Acoustic guitars are back again with a “Stairway To Heaven” like intro.

This is the best of the acoustic guitar songs and the only one that should have been included. The feel of it is almost Country Rock and Draiman’s bass/baritone like delivery is perfect.

Now for the bonus tracks.

The Sound Of Silence (Live with Myles Kennedy)

It’s a great track and Disturbed have done it justice with their re-interpretation.

This Venom

It’s a bonus track, but the Chorus is better than some of the album tracks.

Check out the whole interlude and lead section part.

Are You Ready (Sam DeJong Remix)

It’s an Imagine Dragons song with this remix and I like it.

Uninvited Guest

Another acoustic guitar led song.

Give it a listen just for the orchestra.

And the album at this point in time doesn’t have any certifications. Time will tell if people will keep listening to it. If I had to rank all the albums, this is my least favorite.

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2001 – Part 3.7: Adema – Adema

Labelled as Nu-Metal. I never understood what that label meant. Even though I hated the “hair metal” tag back in the late 80’s, it was easily understood why the record labels and media outlets labelled bands with that term.

But Nu-Metal always had me confused. To me it’s all just music.

The bands that started to make inroads in the early 2000’s, had the same aggression and rage as a lot of the bands I grew up with. Just because they didn’t have guitar solos, had shorter hair, dressed differently and played syncopated riffs, it didn’t make them that much different.

And the majority of these bands had even bigger arena rock choruses than the bands who made it in the 80’s and still had a level of success without MTV pushing them, which was very different to the 80’s as all the bands then got to a million in sales on the back of the exposure MTV generated.

The vocal tones of singers in the 2000’s were different as well.

Growing up in the 80’s my ears got used to the Bruce Dickinson, Geoff Tate, Sebastian Bach, Ronnie James Dio, Tom Kiefer and David Coverdale style vocals.

And then in the 90’s with the advent of Grunge, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley and Eddie Vedder (along with others) changed what a vocalist should sound like.

Rob Thomas, Trent Reznor and Jonathan Davis further changed the expectations. And I was like a pariah within my hard rock friends, who hated all of these singers because they didn’t have the range of the metal and hard rock singers of the 80’s.

Back to Adema, the album came out in 2001, but I didn’t hear it until 2003. I have written about them in a Record Vault post, previously.

Adema is Mark Chavez on vocals, Tim Fluckey on lead guitar and keyboards, Mike Ransom on rhythm guitar, Dave DeRoo on bass and Kris Kohls on drums.

Everyone

The Intro riff reminds me of P.O.D and Godsmack.

The Chorus reminds me of Korn. I like how songs do that.

Everyone is the same
Quick to point the blame
All I know is that life is a struggle

Truth right there.

Blow It Away

So many influences here.

The Intro music reminds me of Godsmack.

In the verses, there is a Nirvana bass feel, with Korn like guitar embellishments.

Lyrically, it’s a nasty song about a relationship gone bad and if you’ve seen American Psycho, you will know what the singer is thinking.

Giving In

The Intro hooks me in, with its combination of Deftones and “Come Undone” from Duran Duran.

And it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album, about giving in to your addictions or giving in to the darkness that loneliness brings due to your addictions.

Freaking Out

The rapped verses have enough melody to keep me interested and the music/feel of the song reminds me of New Order.

The Way You Like It

My second favourite and the flow of the song is great, with a catchy Chorus.

More Linkin Park like.

Close Friends

A bass riff in the verses which reminds me of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

Do What You Want To Do

Aggressive song about living the life you want to live.

Skin

Phased out chorused guitars shimmer and glimmer in the verses over a jazz-rock fusion drum groove. Then the Chorus riff kicks in, abrasive, compared to the verses.

Pain Inside

It’s got all the synth electronics that bands were using back in the day.

The chorus gospel effect on the guitars gets me interested and the verse drum and bass groove keeps the momentum going.

Once the power chords come crashing in for the Chorus, I’m sold.

Speculum

The acoustic guitar gets some use but it’s not a ballad.

There’s so many people dying
You complain about your situation

Death gives perspective.

Drowning

The intro riff reminds me of Muse.

It’s like a needle in my spine
It stings inside
Poisons me with time
I can’t deal with your lies

Relationships are tough. They could lift you up or bury you.

Trust

It feels like a song from “The Crow” movie with a bit of “Come Undone” by Duran Duran as an influence.

I’m so alone, empty and lost, it’s easier to let you go
Time will erode the shame and the fault, it’s easier to let you go

We become focused on achieving something and when we do, we realize we also lost something along the way, like a relationship that you didn’t want to lose.

And that’s the album.

The band was active up to 2009 and then disappeared, only to resurface in 2021 with a new song and possibly a new album.

But it all started here. The debut gave them the valuable rookie card.

Crank it.

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The Record Vault: Disturbed – Immortalized

It’s the last album I purchased and much later than its release date at a discounted price. At the time I was still endeavouring at keeping my Disturbed collection intact.

So “Immortalized” is the comeback album after the hiatus, released on August 21, 2015 by Reprise Records. It’s also the comeback album for “The Guy”, the Disturbed mascot.

Between “Asylum” and “Immortalized”, there is a five year gap. “The Lost Children” doesn’t count here as it was an album of leftover tracks.

One song defines this album and it’s the cover of “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel. As soon as it was released as a single it went to Platinum, and by November 2017, it was 3x Platinum and right now its getting close to 4x Platinum.

The album itself was certified Platinum in January 2018. So in an era of no sales, Disturbed is still pulling good numbers.

The band members David Draiman (vocals), Dan Donegan (guitar) and Mike Wengren (drums) perform on the album. Bass player John Moyer was not present, due to working with Adrenaline Mob and Art of Anarchy so Donegan did the bass. But Moyer is still pictured in the booklet.

Kevin Churko is producing and his run of certifications continues similar to Olsen and Werman back in the 80s.

The reviews at the time were not kind to the album with sentences like “It won’t change the minds of those who weren’t fans before” or “Immortalized” is fans-only release as it feeds the target audience”.

But hindsight is a wonderful thing and “The Sound Of Silence” for better or for worse brought in a whole new audience.

“The Eye of the Storm” (Intro)

You hear the sound of a vinyl record starting, all dusty and then a demented tremolo effect arpeggio starts, complemented by a guitar lead.

“Immortalized”

The Intro riff is classic Disturbed.

“Secure a legacy that will never die, be immortalized”

What kind of legacy is up to you?

“The Vengeful One”

It reminds me of “Louder Than Hell” from Motley Crue. And I like it.

The drum groove sets the pace and then one of my favourite riffs on the album just explodes the same way it does on “Louder Than Hell”.

Pure head banging bliss.

“The rabid media plays their role / Stoking the flames of war to no surprise / Only too eager to sell their souls / For the apocalypse must be televised”

There are no views for happy moments. Chaos, death and destruction gets people glued to their screens.

“Open Your Eyes”

It’s catchy and easily digestible.

This song has John Feldmann (from the band Goldfinger, plus he has a history of writing and producing other artists like Papa Roach, Black Veil Brides, 5 Seconds Of Summer) and Nick Furlong (another songwriter who has worked with Papa Roach, Good Charlotte, All Time Low, 5 Seconds Of Summer) as co-writers, along with Draiman, Donegan and Wengren.

But regardless of the songwriters, it’s still a Disturbed cut, through and through.

You’re hypnotized, demoralized
Believe every line that they sell you
Start channelling whatever will remains
Discern from what’s fiction and what is true

Open your eyes

People need to read more critically and research different point of views. But with social media being such a massive force of nature, it’s very easy to surround yourself in an echo chamber, hearing the same thing, over and over and over again, until you believe it is true and you refuse to see another point of view, which could be true.

“The Light”

A hard rock song, reminding me of “My Hero” from Foo Fighters in certain sections.

And how good is the vocal melody in the Chorus. Pure AOR Melodic Rock.

Four punch knockout combo right there.

“What Are You Waiting For”

I wasn’t surprised that they had a cut that sounded like Five Finger Death Punch on the album. The track is also co-written with John Feldman.

The lead break has a lot of the Digitech Whammy Pedal effects.

“You’re Mine”

The electronic element is back, then again, Draiman’s side project “Device” did sound like this.

“Who”

The riff is a derivative of “Indestructible” and the gang vocal chants are here.

“Save Our Last Goodbye”

It starts off with a person leaving messages on a phone.

The heavy songs were getting derivative at this point in time although I still enjoy listening to em, just to hear what Draiman does with the vocal melodies, or if there is a guitar lead or an interlude that makes me bang the head.

And this song from 3.07 has this Judas Priest like riff in the Interlude which definitely gets the head banging.

In the last minute, it breaks down to a piano and Draiman’s falsetto before building up again.

By the end of it, the person is still calling the number to leave a message and the number is no longer active.

“Fire It Up”

I feel like they started off with an idea to do a song like “We Will Rock You” but once it went through the Disturbed blender, it ended up sounding like “Fire It Up” and if anything it feels like a Godsmack track, with the lyrical line, “when I fire it up, it feels alright”.

“The Sound of Silence”

My brother was singing this song on the day he died from a brain aneurysm and he’s not even a Disturbed fan, but he heard the song on a TV show and it stuck with him.

And I didn’t really care about this song or this version, but a life experience has changed that.

“Never Wrong”

It’s a throwback to the debut album, with a repeating lyrical line done in the Draiman drawl.

“Who Taught You How to Hate”

A great title.

A long time ago I came across a quote like “a child’s life is like a blank sheet of paper, which every person leaves a mark on”.

So how did that child grow up to hate?

Now for the bonus tracks, “Tyrant”, “Legion Of Monsters” and “The Brave And The Bold”.

“Tyrant”

I like the lead break.

“Legion of Monsters”

Inspired by a Rolling Stone article on the Boston Marathon Bomber. It’s angry and energetic.

“The Brave and the Bold”

I like the Blues Rock riff to start off the song. The Chorus is pure Disturbed and the lead break is excellent as there are a lot of Randy Rhoads type licks chucked in and I like it.

For comeback albums, it was well received and while the reviewers said the album is for hard-core fans only, this album actually grew Disturbed’s fan base.

In Australia, Canada and the U.S, the album went to Number 1. In Austria, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K, it was a Top 10 album. In Belgium, Holland and Portugal it was a Top 20 album.

For certifications, it was certified Platinum in Australia, Canada, Germany, Norway and the U.S. It was certified Gold in Austria, New Zealand, Sweden and the U.K.

The “Immortalized” tour was earning on average $200K in B level cities (using California as a guide, San Diego is classed as a B level city) and about $400K in A Level cities (like Los Angeles) a night.

Good or bad, acoustic guitar songs would become very prominent on the next album “Evolution” released in 2018.

The touring cycle was done and the bad was starting a trek of shows to commemorate “The Sickness” 20 year Anniversary before COVID-19 put a halt to proceedings.

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Hired Gun

I watched it last night, however it was released in 2016.

Eric Singer is a legend and the doco cemented that for me.

Between 2004 and 2008, Kiss wouldn’t tour when Alice Cooper was touring and Alice wouldn’t tour when Kiss was touring.

All because of Eric Singer. Both acts had him as a Hired Gun.

And what happened to Billy Joel?

He turned down being produced by George “Beatles” Martin because Martin wanted to use session guys and Joel was loyal to his current band members only to boot 1/2 of em a few years later and then drummer Liberty DeVitto sometime after that after he asked for a pay rise.

Jason Hook from Five Finger Death Punch is involved as Producer so there is a focus on heavy metal/rock acts.

And I didn’t know his past pre FFDP, as the touring guitarist for Mandy Moore and Hillary Duff. It didn’t mention if he played on the albums of those artists. And while these touring gigs could be lucrative, they can also end abruptly.

But it was the Hillary Duff gig that got him noticed by Alice Cooper, so when that finished up, Alice was there.

And there was a bass player who was a hired gun for the band Filter, was paid hardly nothing and said it was his worst experience ever and now he does voice overs.

The guitar player for Pink’s band was mentioned. I forgot his name so I just googled him.

Justin Derrico.

There is footage of him jamming. Derrico brings out some Mixolydian lines, string skipping and sweeps. The dude can play but the last time he played on a Pink album was in 2012 for “The Truth About Love”.

You get to hear how Jason Newsted borrowed money from his friends to fly out for the Metallica bass player audition after Cliff Burton’s death. Once he got the gig, he was put on $500 a week until he became a full member a year later.

Or Derek St Holmes, who sang “Stranglehold” but was never part of the band and people believed that the voice of St Holmes was Ted Nugent.

Rudy Sarzo is there as well, as his stints in Ozzy and Whitesnake were as a hired gun.

The documentary focused on the death of Randy Rhoads and showed footage of the crash, which I think took away from what they were trying to achieve with the doco but as a Randy Rhoads fan I was still glued to the TV screen. They could have spoken about the death like they did for Cliff Burton. I suppose there is never an easy way of dealing with these kind of things.

And Steve Lukather did a lot of session work but his main focal point was writing a song for George Benson. And it’s well known that Lukather and Eddie Van Halen were involved in “Beat It”. Lukather made sure to mention how he played the bass and guitar riff.

But.

At what state was “Beat It” in, before Lukather came and did the bass and guitar riff.

Was it just a keyboard song originally and Lukather needed to come up with something?

Was there a scratch riff for him to refer to?

Or was there someone else’s “Hired Gun” idea there for him to build on?

Or was he given the demo version and told to play it like that but in his style?

Some “unknown” Hired Guns to me are Brett Garsed who did work with John Farnham and Nelson along with Carl Verheyen who was a hired gun for Supertramp before becoming a member and he did a lot of session work for other artists, sometimes without even been credited.

And of course when Bob Ezrin was talking about “hired guns” playing on albums and not being credited, I immediately thought of Kiss and how towards the late 70’s, they started to get different players to perform on songs, but still sold the idea that the band members played on all the tracks to their fan base.

In the end, I wanted a bit more from “Hired Gun” however it was still a cool to watch.

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The Record Vault: Disturbed – The Lost Children

“The Lost Children” was released on November 8, 2011.

By the time this album hit the streets, Disturbed was on hiatus for an indefinite period of time. The band had been on a five album cycle of release and tour. 12 years in total without really having a proper break.

The music industry was also going through another transition. The U.S labels weren’t approving Spotify to operate until they got a percentage stake in the company, so P2P piracy was at an all time high and while the labels procrastinated, YouTube became a dominate streaming service which paid even less.

In the break, Draiman would produce a few bands, with Trivium being the biggest, form a new project called Device, which released an album that sounded like “The Sickness” while Donegan and Wengren hooked up with the “Evans Blue” singer Dan Chandler to form “Fight Or Flight” and release the excellent hard modern rock album “A Life By Design”.

Meanwhile bassist John Moyer would hook up with Adrenaline Mob for the “Coverta” and “Men Of Honour” releases, Art of Anarchy for their 2015 and 2017 releases, Geoff Tate’s Operation Mindcrime project and its 2015 release.

Because of these projects, Moyer wasn’t available to play on “Immortalized”, released in 2015, but returned to the band to tour and then played on “Evolution” released in 2018.

“The Children” in the album title is another term for “The Songs”. And “The Lost Children” is all of Disturbed’s non-album tracks up to 2011.

“Hell”

It’s from the “Ten Thousand Fists” album.

I feel like the riff got tweaked and used to better effect for “Indestructible”. But it doesn’t mean that this song is inferior.

Lyrically it’s about s person in a relationship who keeps coming in and out of the persons life, and every time they come back in, they mess up their world a little bit more.

“A Welcome Burden”

From “The Sickness” album cycle and the song appeared on the “Dracula 2000” soundtrack.

Its flow is like the debut album and it’s groovy Nu-Metal riffs.

“This Moment”

It was written for the “Transformers” album, but never used.

And man, what a riff to start it off.

“Old Friend”

From the “Asylum” album cycle and a song which appeared in Dexter.

The Intro riff hooks me in. It’s head banging and almost progressive by it’s notes phrasing.

The Chorus as usual is huge.

“Monster”

From the “Ten Thousand Fists” album cycle and a riff similar to “Stricken” starts the song off.

I like the single note runs in the Verse riff.

And an excellent guitar lead is also present.

“Run”

From the “Indestructible” album cycle.

A fast double time Intro gives way to a groove verse. Actually the drumming from Mike Wengren is a stand out on this.

“Leave It Alone”

From the “Asylum” album batch of songs. The song has excellent riffs throughout.

In the Verses, there is a natural harmonic lick that comes in on certain bars.

The Chorus riff gets the head banging with its military like groove.

For the solo, it goes to half time and how good is that bluesy solo lick to come out of the lead section.

“Two Worlds”

A song from the “Ten Thousand Fists” album cycle.

Can melodic rock, Sabbath and Nu-Metal be a thing?

On this song they exist in harmony.

And I always enjoy a Donegan solo, but this time it’s the riff after the solo which gets me to pick up the guitar.

“God of the Mind”

A B-side from “The Sickness” and it also appeared in the “Valentine” movie. It’s a derivative version of the songs that appeared on the debut.

The verses do remind me of Tool but I feel like the song has more NIN and early Filter influences.

“Sickened”

A B-side from “Ten Thousand Fists” and a massive head banging Intro kicks it off.

For the verses, a tom-tom drum pattern provides the focus while the guitar belts out chords.

And as usual, the Chorus is melodic and big.

“Mine”

A B-side from “Asylum” and the song is about religion as a catalyst for war.

The first part with the spoken samples of leaders and newscasters with Draiman chanting “hey“ is excellent.

After that I feel like the song becomes a thrash groove song. Wengren on the drums is the star here.

“Parasite”

A B-side from “Indestructible” but with a riff that brings back memories of “Fighting For The Earth” from Warrior.

“Dehumanized”

A B-side from “Believe” that they played live regularly with a big Chorus.

“3”

A B-side from “Asylum”, originally released as a digital single to benefit the “West Memphis Three”.

The lead break is shred-a-licious.

In case you weren’t aware, the West Memphis Three are three Metal heads convicted as teenagers in 1994 of the 1993 murders of three boys. During the trial, the prosecution asserted that the juveniles killed the children as part of a Satanic ritual.

Due to the dubious nature of the evidence, the case generated widespread controversy and was the subject of several documentaries. Celebrities and musicians held fundraisers to support efforts to free the men. Metallica, Pearl Jam and Disturbed come to mind.

And after serving 18 years they were freed and the real killers still walk the streets.

“Midlife Crisis”

A Faith No More cover and a B-side from “Indestructible”. And each Disturbed cover is a great rendition. This song could pass as a Disturbed original.

“Living After Midnight”

A Judas Priest cover which starts off with the “Painkiller” drum Intro and a B-side from “Asylum”.

By the end of it, the album didn’t feel like a put together cash in. It actually felt like a new Disturbed album as the sequencing of the songs didn’t follow the chronological release of the songs.

Sink your ears into “The Lost Children”.

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Iron Maiden – Senjutsu

Somewhere back in time, an Iron Maiden album would be purchased, listened to and the cover/lyrics digested, day after day after day, until the next album.

And I kept doing it like this up to their Bruce II era albums “Brave New World” released in 2000 and its follow up “Dance Of Death” released in 2003, along with the “Rock In Rio” and “Death On The Road” live releases.

And then things started to change. “A Matter Of Life and Death” released in 2006 and “The Final Frontier” released in 2010 are like unknown albums even though I own em and have heard them more than a few times.

“The Book Of Souls” album released in 2015 is one that I listened to a lot more and I also watched em playing half the album on tour, so it’s more familiar.

Now in 2021, we have “Senjutsu”.

A lot of the reviews I have read mention how there are no Dave Murray contributions to this album, in the same way reviews mentioned how Kirk Hammett didn’t have a co-write on “Death Magnetic”. But James Hetfield summed it up when he said, “Hammett’s riffs just weren’t there at that point in time”. And if Murray was struggling to be creative or stuck in a rut, lucky for Maiden, they have other songwriters who can step up in Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson, Janick Gers and of course, Steve Harris.

Kevin “Caveman” Shirley is producing and mixing again.

And once upon a time, Iron Maiden artwork was just Derek Riggs. Now it’s a team of artists. There is a person leading the Art Designs, there are illustrators, calligraphists and translators.

But Eddie still remains. The constant throughout it all.

“Senjutsu”

It’s an Adrian Smith and Steve Harris composition, and you can immediately hear the Smith riffage, its almost Tool like.

How good is the melodic lead in the Chorus?

The section from 3.30 to 5.20 is pure Tool in the way Nicko McBrain sets the groove with Steve Harris. But the way the guitars decorate the section is more metal and hard rock and Bruce Dickinson’s melodies also stay within the hard rock and metal domain.

The minute outro returns to the Tool groove while the guitars lay down riffs which could come from the “Gates of Babylon”. After eight minutes and twenty seconds, the title track is down.

“Stratego”

A Janick Gers and Harris composition with a riff that reminds me of the “Fear Of The Dark” album and songs like “Judas Be My Guide” with a bit of the Iron Maiden gallop chucked in.

Listen to the section from 1.28, which I think is the Chorus and how the vocal melody and the guitar melody are the same.

“The Writing on the Wall”

A Smith and Dickinson composition.

I like the Steve Earle – “Copperhead Road”/Aerosmith – “Hangman Jury” like influence in the intro and main riff, Then again “Scars” from Smith/Kotzen also comes to mind.

But my favourite part of the song is the lead break from Adrian Smith between 4.26 and 5.08. Its emotive and it gets me playing air guitar.

It brings back the same feeling of the solo in “2 Minutes To Midnight”, the section between 3.26 and 4.06. You know the section I’m talking about, as they build back up into the main riff.

“Lost in a Lost World”

Steve Harris equals nine minutes and thirty one seconds on this one.

The acoustic intro with the vocal reminds me of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and their song “From The Beginning”, which Dokken also covered on their “Dysfunctional” album.

At the 2 minute mark it blasts out into the typical Maiden metal sound.

Listen to the section between 3.38 and 4.14 and tell me if it reminds you of “The Evil Than Men Do” musically.

And I like it, especially the “Revelations” section straight afterwards.

As the song flows, the “Revelations” riff becomes the backing riff for a bunch of harmony solo’s that remind me of “The X Factor” and “Dance Of Death” albums.

The last minute, Harris showcases how tasty bass arpeggios can be when done right, with Synths, a Celtic inspired guitar line and a haunting vocal.

“Days of Future Past”

A Smith and Dickinson composition and the shortest song on the album at 4 minutes. It’s also my least favourite.

“The Time Machine”

The disc 1 closer.

It’s a 7 minute Gers and Harris composition. The fingerpicked clean tone intro gives way to another Southern Rock inspired riff at the 1.10 mark. If anything, Jethro Tull comes to mind.

At 3.11, the galloping feel is back and a Celtic like harmony lead kicks in, something which Maiden have done before, but still enjoyable to hear over and over again.

But the piece d resistance is that change at the 4.30 mark, it’s still in 4/4 but it sounds progressive. Then it goes into an ascending riff for a guitar solo.

At 5.24, the Celtic like harmonies are back and Dickinson kicks in with his melodies.

At 6.20, the Celtic harmony is played in clean tone and I’m thinking of “The Clansman”.

“Darkest Hour”

A Smith and Dickinson composition which clocks in at 7.20 and it’s the disc 2 opener.

The intro has echoes of “Paschendale” and I like it. At the minute mark, the verses kick in.

As soon as the Chorus kicks in, I’m reminded of “Tears Of A Dragon” from Dickinson’s solo career and I’m ready to break my desk.

At 4 minutes, the intro is back in and the lead break starts.

Wow. Brilliant.

I don’t have my CD delivered yet, but I am presuming it’s Smith on the lead break as he is the most technical of the three guitarists and the flow of the solo sounds like a nice worked out Smith solo, a song within a song.

And as the Chorus kicks back in, different melodic guitar leads lay underneath the vocal melody, bringing the song to a close.

“Death of the Celts”

Harris equals ten minutes and twenty seconds.

Again, Harris showcases how musical the bass guitar can be as the whole intro is driven by the bass.

But the song is way too long, lacking a distinctive vocal section and it does get boring.

However I do like the solo section from 7.20 to 7.50. I think it’s Smith and then Gers kicks in.

“The Parchment”

Harris bookends the album with songs over 10 minutes. On this one, Harris equals 12:39.

The start of this song reminds me of “Sign Of The Cross”.

Guitar wise, there is a Ritchie Blackmore “Rainbow” influence.

And how good is that head banging verse riff?

The lead section that starts from 6.40 is familiar and I like it. It comes back in at the 9.28 mark.

The song speeds up for the last three minutes, as different shred lead breaks kick in. But by the end of it, it also could have used some editing.

“Hell on Earth”

The closer, in which Harris equals 11:19.

I think they should have done away with “Death Of The Celts” and “The Parchment” and gone straight into this for after “Darkest Hour”.

The intro is haunting, yet familiar, reminding me of “Alexander The Great” and “Seventh Son”.

At 2.16, the Maiden brand of rock and metal kicks in. The galloping riffs are there and a Celtic like harmony lead is also there.

At 2.49 to 3.08, there is a melodic lead which is a favourite.

The vocals kick in at 3.31.

The chorus (I think it’s a Chorus) comes in at 5 minutes.

Man, check out that section from 9.10 to 9.40. Those harmony guitars are perfect and sing-a-long like.

Then the song quietens down and returns to the haunting intro, reminding me again of “Alexander The Great” and “Seventh Son”.

And the album ends. Iron Maiden is like an old friend that returns for a visit now and then.

So welcome back old friend, let’s have a drink and catch up.

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The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic II

Bjorn Strid did an interview on Robb Flynn’s “No Fucking Regrets” Podcast and Flynn explained em as “80’s Miami Vice Pop”. You can check it out here on Spotify.

Guitarist David Andersson is the main songwriter in TNFO (and he’s also the main songwriter in Soilwork), bringing in his influences of Swedish Pop, Brit Pop, Funk, Disco and Strid’s love of late 70’s, early 80’s radio rock into the mix.

Two of my favourite Kiss albums are “Dynasty” and “Unmasked” because they brought in other styles of music into the Kiss rock sound and they still made it sound hard rock. So I wasn’t surprised to hear that “Dynasty” and “Unmasked” are also favourite albums for Strid and how Strid sees the song “Easy As It Seems” from Kiss as the foundation of Disco Rock and the blueprint for a TNFO song.

Kiss cops a lot of flak for those albums from their U.S fan base, but those two albums basically set up a new sound in different parts of the world. It’s no surprise that Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway liked em along with Australia.

The late 70’s and early 80’s had a certain way of writing and performing songs, which has been lost as the years have gone on.

Strid now feels balanced creatively. He can’t do Soilwork if he can’t do TNFO and vice versa. And by doing TFNO which is out of his comfort zone, has made him a better singer overall.

They missed out on touring the “Aeromantic” album because of COVID-19. Actually they were one week into the tour before they had to go home. And the promoters wouldn’t cancel the shows because they would be up for costs, so they waited until the last minute until the government shut everything down, putting the band into a difficult predicament.

The whole band also got COVID-19. No one went to hospital but David Andersson coped it bad.

And because the band wasn’t done with “Aeromantic”, they remained within the “Aeromantic” vibe and zone.

Recorded at Nordic Sound Lab, 90 minutes from Gothenburg, they do their albums by booking studio sessions and they just write for those sessions. By the end of the writing, they have about 40 songs down. Quantity equals quality.

Originally the core audience back in 2012 was Soilwork fans and general metal fans curious to check the band out, but 9 years into it, the audience is made up of different people who are not generally metal fans, but fans of good crossover rock music.

For Strid, his Mum listened to hard rock music and popular acts like Eurythmics and Bruce Springsteen.

Iron Maiden and WASP was an early experience for him. But Twisted Sister “Stay Hungry” album was very big for him.

A guy in his class had a few compilation tapes from his Tennis coach who was into extreme music and Strid borrowed those tapes and copied em. When he was asked which artists he liked, it was always the fast songs and that’s how he got his nickname “Speed”.

So on to the review.

TNFO are Bjorn Strid on Lead and Backing vocals, David Andersson on Guitars, Sharlee D’Angelo on bass, Sebastian Forslund on Guitars and Percussion, Jonas Kallsback on Drums, John Manhattan Lönnmyr on Keyboards and Anna Brygard / Anna Mia Bonde on Backing Vocals and known as the “Backing Anna’s”.

Violent Indigo

If you like Whitesnake, just think of those big chord synth chords at the start of “Slip Of The Tongue”. Well the chords at the start here are even bigger.

Midnight Marvellous

Each album has a track like this. “West Ruth Ave” on the first album. “Living For The Nighttime” on the second album. “Star Of Rio” on the third album. “Turn To Miami” on the fourth album and “This Boys Last Summer” on the fifth album.

And “Midnight Marvellous” is just as impressive.

Check out the interlude breakdown just before the solo when bassist Sharlee D’Angelo grooves and new keyboardist solos.

How Long

Strid described this song as “90s Deep Purple on cocaine”. And he’s not wrong.

The Chorus is excellent, but it’s the guitar playing and leads that make me a fan.

The ending is smashing.

Burn For Me

As soon as this song starts you will either think of “Modern Love” by David Bowie or “Straight For The Heart” by Toto or “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John or “I’m So Excited” from The Pointer Sisters.

And it’s a favourite to me because of those familiarity.

Chardonnay Nights

It’s going to be a good night of drinking and kicking back. Instead of chardonnay, my poison is Shiraz or Cabernet Merlot.

Change

How good is the intro?

Genesis (their song “That’s All”) comes to mind, but the Chorus is perfect AOR Melodic Rock.

Amber Through A Window

This feels like a New Wave rock cut, for driving in the night, with the window down in summer.

I Will Try

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” from Tears For Fears comes to mind in the verses.

The Chorus is like 80’s Journey and Cher circa 1987. The guitar work feels like its Neal Schon. Brilliant.

You Belong To The Night

The TNFO sound has a Rolling Stones influence and Mick Jagger solo influence. This song is evidence of that.

Listen to “Tattoo You” and “Just Another Night” which TNFO covered for “Amber Galactic”.

Zodiac

Songs from Michael Jackson come to mind listening to this and it’s a great piece of pop rock song writing.

And just listen to it for the joy of Sharlee D’Angelo’s sultry bass lines.

White Jeans

The first single released as part of the album pre-release. I think it hit Spotify about 12 weeks before the album drop.

Can Judas Priest and ELO be combined?

In the world of TNFO, it can. Everything goes.

And that Chorus. Brilliant.

Also check out the clip for it as it’s hilarious.

Moonlit Skies

What a closer.

As soon as you press play, the intro just takes you away. It reminds me of “Edge Of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks and those guitar lines of something else and I like it.

BONUS TRACKReach Out (Cheap Trick cover)

It’s worthy of inclusion on the proper album. Musically is like new wave hard rock and vocally Strid merges Robin Zander with Rick Springfield. Brilliant.

As Strid said in his interview with Robb Flynn, the album is a continuation of “Aeromantic”. And I became a fan of TNFO first and then went back and became a fan of Soilwork.

Maybe one day in the future we’ll get a gatefold issue of both “Aeromantic” albums together.

And if you grew up in the 80’s listening to hard rock and melodic rock, then you need to listen to this.

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2001 – Part 3.6 and Australian Method Series: The Living End – Roll On

“Roll On” is the second album by The Living End. It was released in Australia and New Zealand in November 2000, and internationally in March 2001, so I’ll go with the 2001 date.

The band for the album is Chris Cheney on vocals and guitar as well as writing the songs, Scott Owen on double bass and backing vocals and Travis Demsey on drums.

The album is the last work to feature drummer Travis Demsey. In the downtime following the album’s release and subsequent tour, he would leave the band, to be replaced by Andy Strachan.

The album was certified 2x platinum in Australia by November 2007.

Roll On

1,2,3,4 and the band crashes in.

“We roll on with our heads held high” is the catch cry. It remains with you long after the song is finished about a wharfies strike in Melbourne in 1998 and how after a month of striking, if the wharfies didn’t go back to work they would be replaced.

The riffs are classic Aussie Pub Rock riffs, rooted in the blues. You can smell the sweat of the working class in the notes.

Check out the guitar lead.

It’s their big single from the album and a live favorite.

Pictures In The Mirror

It’s a cross between the Foo Fighters, The Beatles and The Clash.

But that solo/interlude section reminds me of Van Halen and Kansas.

“The sun goes down, the moon appears on the horizon, the streets are bare, she walks alone”

The scene is set as the character in the song disappears from the limelight.

Alone.

Because all of those people around you when you’re famous, abandon you when they can’t make money from you.

Riot On Broadway

Similar to “Prisoner Of Society” merging their punk and rockabilly hooks and riffs.

Staring At The Light

One of my favorites.

It’s like a new wave rock track circa “The Police” merged with “The Clash” and made to sound like a modern rock song.

Carry Me Home

That Intro riff would melt the pavement on the Sunset Strip.

Listen to it.

And the NWOBHM influences makes this a metal cut.

And Cheney, is a guitar hero.

Don’t Shut The Gate

A heavy blues rock groove starts it all off before it moves into a Midnight Oil style of cut.

Dirty Man

The Intro lead lick reminds me of something else.

The interlude riff is like a Nu-Metal riff as it’s intertwined with a rockabilly riff.

“I was born on Saturday and I was buried on Sunday” is repeated throughout the song.

Blood On Your Hands

Is there a thing like funk/reggae/punk and jazz?

Well listen to this.

If anything The Police amalgamated these different styles and made it sound rock.

Revolution Regained

It’s a metal cut which has a galloping riff like “The Trooper”, some rockabilly sections and an excellent melodic guitar solo.

Silent Victory

It’s their AC/DC cut.

The Intro is “Dirty Deeds”.

The Chorus is melodic.

And how good is the interlude section between 2.10 and 2.30?

Read About It

Cheney is a master of incorporating so many different styles and techniques into a 4 bar riff.

This song has reggae, melodic rock, punk and metal in it, with a progressive mindset.

The Chorus riff is essential listening.

Killing The Right

Similar to “Read About It”.

Check out the guitar work from 2.30 to 2.50.

Astoria Paranoia

A fast drum riff like “Black Betty” starts the song.

Uncle Harry

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