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

September 2020 – Part 7

Here is the final post for September 2020.

Black Stone Cherry

“Ringin’ In My Head” is one of the lead off singles from their upcoming album “The Human Condition” which will be released on October 30, 2020.

And the riff and the melody go back to 2017.

People, people, your attention, please
I need to tell all y’all about a new disease
It’s crept right up from beneath our nose
And what happens next, we already know

Lockdown, and quarantine and then more lockdowns and then masks and a lot of alcohol on our hands than inside our bodies, and sadly infections and deaths.

Rise Against

It was the Guitar Hero game which got me into this band and I’ve been a fan since. Their form of punk borders on fast metal like riffs, with melodic vocals.

“Broken Dreams, Inc.” is the song.

What a great title?

They contributed the song to the “Dark Nights: Death Metal” Soundtrack, DC’s new Batman comic-book series. The song deals with levelling the playing field for everyone to have a chance at achieving the American dream.

People vote our leaders in so our leaders should work for the people and put power in the people’s hands. Instead our leaders put power into the hand of businesses.

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

In Australia, each household is in so much debt it’s not even funny. The banking industry got wealthy from selling debt.

How’s that for a career?

How does it feel to make billions because you gave mortgages to people who never shouldn’t have got one.

When the factories are automated
Broken dreams incorporated
Gather your things, but there’s nowhere to go

When one business closes, a new one begins. Kids starting school this year, will be working jobs that haven’t even been created.

Tygers Of Pan Tang

I’m an original fan of this band because of John Sykes. And throughout the years, they’ve kept on going with some breaks here and there. But in the last twelve years, I’ve jumped back in with TOPT.

Original guitarist and founder Robb Weir re-started the band back in 2001 and from 2008’s “Animal Instinct”, I’ve been on board. Italian born signer, Jacopo Meille is brilliant and very melodic as he brings a Jeff Scott Soto / Robert Plant / Paul Rodgers like feel, with Craig Ellis on drums and Gavin Gray on bass.

The “Ambush” album is good. Produced by Chris Tsangerides.

“Keeping Me Alive” kicks it all off, with a riff straight from the Sunset Strip.

“These Eyes” is an excellent Dokken/Lynch inspired cut which isn’t written by Dokken/Lynch.

Do you reckon the band would have succeeded if it was called Lynch Dokken instead of Dokken?

“Rock N Roll Dream” is a roller alright, with a rumbling bass riff in the verse and a Freddie Mercury style vocal line.

“Play To Win” sounds like the old TOPT with a nod in the direction of AC/DC.

“Burning Desire” is an excellent Bad Company inspired song, which isn’t written by Paul Rodgers or Mick Ralphs. And the lead break had me playing air guitar.

“Hey Suzie” feels like a Guns N Roses cut from the Appetite era.

“Mr Indispensable” sounds like a song from The Cult and the closer “Cruel Hands Of Time” is my favourite cut.

Basically TOPT are still delivering the goods, 40 years later.

Bad Juju

I checked these guys out based on the album cover.

There is a normal looking human hand reaching out from dark grey water and another human hand trying to pull up that person who is submerged. Then there are two other hands, withered and decaying and white, trying to keep the submerged person in the water and trying to bring the unsubmerged person also into the water. And this takes place in front of a red moon.

And I pressed play and became a fan.

So I did some reading.

They are from Melbourne, Australia. There ya go, from my own back yard. Even though the websites have them listed as emo, to me this album is basically anthemic rock.

“Disappoint” opens the album, with its layered guitar riffs and melodies courtesy of Abe Miller and Armarin Saengsri with aggressive drumming by Drue Herring and solid bass playing by Matt John, which allows Russell Holland to wail.

“Picture Us” feels like a Brit Pop 90’s song, mixing The Cure with My Chemical Romance and Blink 182.

“Dawn” deals with being lonely at night and giving life to those dark thoughts. Again, it’s a on a bed of layered guitars.

“Say It” feels like a track from “Mellon Collie” from The Smashing Pumpkins.

“The truth is I’m not fine and it’s not okay / tell what you want to be hearing I will say it like I mean it” is the hook in the Chorus.

It’s basically a fuck you to “Are You Okay?” day.

“Let’s Talk” is a pop song about giving up on a toxic relationship.

And that’s a wrap for the massive month that was September 2020.

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

September 2020 – 10 Years

From the US and formed in 1999. Signed to a label a few years later.

But I didn’t get into em until 2008.

Basically from 2000 onwards, I was really into the groove progressive rock of Tool.

But Tool songs just kept getting longer and I was looking for something to listen to, which was similar and more accessible.

So bands like Chevelle, Adema, Earshot, Deftones and 10 Years appeared on my radar, who played that form of groove rock and metal and I became a fan.

“Violent Allies” is produced by Howard Benson. Benson also produced the “Feeding The Wolves” album back in 2010.

That album is a favourite of mine, but there is a portion of the fanbase that hates what Benson’s generic pop production did to 10 Years.

If you don’t know what I mean, just check out his albums with Daughtry, Seether, Skillet, Theory Of A Deadman, Scott Stapp, Three Days Grace, 3 Doors Down, Red and many others. But for me, it’s that style of pop production I like.

The band entered the studio with 20 songs written and Benson cut 75% of the songs. The band then to write new material and revisit some of the other material to make the songs stronger.

“The Shift”

I never knew a shift was happening / The scenery just seemed to be stuck on, stuck on, stuck on repeat

And that’s how people pull one over you. Governments give us a tax break here, a stimulus payment there and in secret negotiate trade laws and tax laws that create monopolies and suddenly we are living in a democracy that’s more about supporting big business than its people.

We go from silence to sirens without a space between / we are a violent virus without a remedy

We are scared of an actual virus that infects and kills us, but are we the biggest virus to the planet and each other.

Killing each other, no problem.

To reflect superiority over each other, no problem.

To reap every resource from the Earth, no problem.

All that we’ve managed to make is just a comfortable cage / Oh god, I gotta get out

And once we are in that cage, which is basically our home, we are comfortable, we are safe and we don’t want to change. We don’t want a shift to happen. All we want is a job till retirement so we can pay the bills and mortgage.

“The Unknown”

It’s a bit softer than the opener.

But time moves on and carries us / Into the wild of the great unknown

Kids today will be working jobs that haven’t been created yet. They will be living in places and buildings that haven’t been built. It’s exciting that the future is a great unknown.

“Déjà Vu”

Turn off my brain this all feels the same

The echo chamber of social media can get overwhelming as our finger keeps going on the infinite scroll.

Then we read the news and it feels like we’ve read this before or seen the TV footage before. Police brutality is nothing new. Citizens protesting against injustice is nothing new. Corporations and politicians filling their pockets with profits of the Earth’s resources is nothing new. Another copyright suit against a famous song is nothing new.

So you got heart and soul
Born to break the mold
You’re oh so original like someone I used to know

We are all young for such a brief time and believe that we are born for something different. So we pour our heart and soul into our work, thinking we will be rewarded with untold riches.

But it doesn’t work that way.

“Without You”

I am brand new now without you / Everything I can do now without you

Truth.

You don’t realise how stifling and restrictive a relationship could be until both sides are free of it.

“Cut The Cord”

I lied to myself to stay above the tide and ignore the warning signs

I used to have this viewpoint to “stick with things forever” because I’ve spent time on it already and I don’t want to waste the time I’ve spent to start something new, because it means that all that time spent was for nothing.

Just reading what I typed is doing my head in.

It took me a while to realise that the time spent is all learning and preparation for the next thing to come. This is true for everything, from self-development, to changing jobs and relationships.

“I Wish”

Take it all in and let the flood begin to wash away our sins
Open your mouth, let the fire out and burn me down
All is fair in love and war

It’s a great set of lyrics to sum up arguments, because as soon as the barrage starts it’s like a flood or a fire.

You can fire back, you can ignore it, you can escape it or you can apologise if you are at fault.

Trying to get the other person to see your point of view or your side is pointless because that just doesn’t happen.

“Start Again”

As these hands of time tick on by the song remains the same
Circling the drain, I’m done

It’s the end, there is nothing else that could have been done. Once you start circling the drain, you end up in the wastewater.

And there’s going to be one more final post to wrap up September 2020 releases because 10 Years took over this post.

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

September 2020 – Part 5

I feel weird even writing about other bands after the death of EVH.

My first born is even named after him, with a V instead of the W because my wife didn’t like Edward, she liked Edvard.

But life goes on and I just got my ears around AC’s new song “Shot In The Dark”. But that’s for a different post.

The Pineapple Thief

From Somerset, England.

This is their self-produced thirteenth album.

And I only got onto their train a few years ago and I’m slowly going through their back catalogue. And as much as I want to have my finger on the pulse to all new music and to what is good, I am always late to the party.

The band is made up of the main songwriter Bruce Soord on guitars and vocals, Steve Kitch on keyboards, Jon Sykes on bass and Gavin Harrison on drums.

It’s hard to explain their sound, with influences ranging from Porcupine Tree, A Perfect Circle, Pink Floyd, Muse, Radiohead, The Police, Marillion, Queensryche (Promised Land era) and Genesis.

“Versions Of The Truth” is moody and progressive, with the Chorus catch-cry of “It’s not how I remembered it”.

And they are pushing the boundaries that Pink Floyd created on this song, especially the sounds and moods from the “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” album.

Then “Break It All” sounds like it came from the “Promised Land” album from Queensryche.

“Demons” sounds like the best Porcupine Tree song that they didn’t write and “Driving Like Maniacs” has a pretty basic music foundation with an emotive vocal line. In the old days this piano led tune would be on the charts. Check out the Chorus.

“Leave Me Be” sounds like a song from Powderfinger, one of Australia’s premier hard rock bands before they called it quits while “Out Of Line” is impressive. It has this acoustic guitar pattern that keeps on repeating and a vocal melody which is addictive. It’s very Porcupine Tree like, more in the vein of tracks like “Trains” mixed with A Perfect Circle with Gilmour like vocals.

“Stop Making Sense” has sounds that appear on “The Police” and Marillion albums. Even Gotye used those sounds on “Somebody I Used To Know” and “The Game” closes the album off, with a subliminal message to press repeat and listen to the album again.

The Smashing Pumpkins

“The Colour Of Love” is a good song.

It reminds me of “Love Song” from The Cure, so it’s very different from the Pumpkins sound I like, which is more or less captured on two albums, “Siamese Dreams” And “Mellon Collie”.

Nevertheless, I am interested to hear more.

Smile Empty Soul

They always stick around in my life with a song or two from each release. The glory from this EP goes to “Land Of The Lost”.

Billy Raffoul

“Big City” has this Springsteen and Gaslight Anthem vibe which I dig, so it was a pretty easy save. Musically its an acoustic guitar, harmonica and a vocal line. And that’s all you need sometime.

The Score

From New York City, which is going through a decent second wave of COVID-19 illnesses.

So how did The Score come into my life?

Well, my kids were listening to the song “Best Part” from em. It had enough there to get me curious to check em out.

Their sound is like the Imagine Dragons sound when they broke out big and a sound which Shinedown would push on their last few albums.

And I had no idea how massive the band is. On Spotify they have 4.28m monthly listeners. Some of their earlier songs are over a 100 million streams, while the songs “Stronger” and “Born For This” which appear on this album are at 54m and 34m streams respectively on Spotify.

So I did some reading.

The Score is basically two dudes.

Eddie Anthony sings and plays guitar and drums. Edan Dover sings, plays keyboards and produces.

I think this is the sign of the times. You don’t need any extras who don’t contribute to the song. The days of just being a drummer or just a bass player or just a guitarist in a band are over, unless you play instrumental music. And in the history of music it was always one or two and maybe three writers in a song.

So I’m listening to the “Carry On” album, released towards the end of August 2020.

“Golden” is basically an 80’s song, all dolled up and ready for a night out in 2020.

Take be back to my youth, bring me back to my roots
I don’t know where I am going, but I know that its golden

It doesn’t matter that we got older because our youth and our roots are what made us who we are. Those innocent and hopeful dreams, every single one of em, golden till the end.

“Running All Night” is another song worth of attention.

“Alone in the dark just my thoughts in a room”

That’s the scary part of life. We could be at our worst or at our best. We could be the most creative or the most depressed.

“I’ve been running all night in my head”

And that’s what we seem to do on a daily basis. Our thoughts move from different paradigms into a blend of paradigms and into a single paradigm. Running through different scenarios of certain events and what if’s.

And there are songs like “Fire” and “Stronger” which sound like they came from the recent Shinedown album.

Well Part 5 is done and from the looks of my playlist, there will be one more part to close off the September releases.

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

September 2020 – Part 4

Seether

Originally from South Africa.

Seether these days are founding members Shaun Morgan on vocals and Dale Steward on bass. Drummer John Humphrey joined in 2003 and now they have Corey Lowery on guitar who has been in a few modern rock bands like Saint Asonia, Dark New Day, Eye Empire and Stuck Mojo and is the brother to Clint Lowery, the guitarist from Sevendust.

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

There form of fuzzy rock always gets me interested. And man, Shaun Morgan can write riffs.

And the first track “Dead And Alone” starts. It’s doomy and very Sabbath like with a very Tool meets Rage Against The Machine vibe in the verses. Or Deftones.

On a side note, did you know that guitarists Tom Morello from RATM and Adam Jones from Tool were in a band together before they went and formed the bands that the world knows. These two dudes changed modern rock guitar.

And the bass guitar is always prominent in Seether like in “Bruised And Bloodied” with an addictive and melodic vocal melody showcasing the pipes on Shaun Morgan.

“Dangerous” is another melodic post grunge rock song. The bass guitar kicks it off again and the vocal line is catchy.

The last two minutes of “Buried In The Sand” are so doomy yet melodic.

“Failure” is another track that kicks off with the bass and a catchy melodic vocal line. And man, the lyrics.

And yeah I live my life like a broken-hearted failure / I’m trying to shed some light on the scars left by the razors

The feelings of depression, self-loathing, and anxiety are conveyed in the lyrics and the music builds in intensity at the right moment.

And the closer, “Written In Stone” keeps the melancholy going, with its clean tone arpeggio intro and slow build as it percolates. And I’m waiting for it to explode in intensity, but it doesn’t, which is also a good thing.

I read a Kerrang review of this album which said the “songs are either power-chorus cheese that’s still waiting to see if the invitation to appear on the Spider-Man soundtrack with Chad Kroeger turns up in the post, or mid-paced nu-metal with the volume turned down.

In other words the review states the album sounds dated.

But that’s exactly why I like em.

Needtobreathe

The first time I came across this band was via an Amazon referral when I purchased either a “Casting Crowns” or “Skillet” or “Thousand Foot Krutch” album back in 2012. So I went to the pirate sites and YouTube and sampled em. And I moved on. There was a lot of material there to digest and I wasn’t really in the mood to explore deep. My third child was under six months, I had surgery on my foot three times to put screws in and then to take the screws out and my mindset wasn’t on exploring new music.

Fast forward many years later and Mr Jon Snow at 2loud2oldmusic.com is a fan of the band and writes enthusiastically about em. You can read the review from 2loud2old here. The enthusiasm rubs off and I’m keen to explore, and my mood is very different.

“Alive” kicks the album off nicely and “Out Of Body” feels like a Springsteen song in the verses and I like it. “Riding High” sounds like a cross between Bad Company and The Eagles. And there are other songs to check out like “Who Am I”, “Banks”, “Bottom Of A Heartbreak” and “Seasons”.

Disturbed

“If I Ever Lose My Faith In You” is Disturbed trying to re-capture their “The Sound Of Silence” moment.

Stryper

Michael Sweet is working hard, writing and recording new music via his many different projects but the project which is his bread and butter and which led to him being who he is, is Stryper.

“Even The Devil Believes” is basically pushing the metal Stryper sound of the last few albums, which in reality was a return to their “Soldiers Under Command” sound from the 80’s and it showcases the influence of Judas Priest to their music.

Standout tracks are “Blood From The Above”, “Make Love Great Again”, “Do Unto Others”, “Even The Devil Believes”, “How To Fly”, “Invitation Only” and “For God & Rock ‘N’ Roll” which starts off with the same drum pattern that Robert Sweet uses for “To Hell With The Devil”.

Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen is always here and there with me. “Letter To You” means he’s back to being here. It’s one of those “My Hometown” style tracks which I like.

And theres this interview video of Springsteen doing the rounds on social media about “when Trump loses the next election”.

The Boss has spoken.

Mastodon

This is an old track that appeared on a new compilation album.

And how can you not like a track called “White Walker”?

But the tribal drum start that gets you. It makes you feel like you are in the snow, living the life of a Wilding with the threat of these ancient beings.

September became a big month for releases in 2020 because so many albums got pushed back to this month because of coronavirus, so there will be a few more posts to come.

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

September 2020 – Part 3

This post covers two good albums. One is melodic hard rock like the good ol 80s and the other is melodic modern rock like the good ol 00s.

Landfall

From Brazil.

Another melodic rock band signed to Frontiers. Their Frontiers press announcement says this about their sound.

“Landfall’s sound can be described as falling between classic melodic rock a là Journey with some slightly heavier influences, such as classic era Dokken, White Lion, and Extreme.”

I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did.

This album reminds me of the first two albums of Harem Scarem. It reminds me of Mr Big’s first two albums. It reminds me of Pretty Maids. It reminds me of acts like Tangier who came out in the early 90’s and never really had a chance. It reminds me of Cinderella, Winger and Skid Row. It reminds of Ratt. It reminds me of Van Halen. And I can go on and on and on. It’s basically the 80’s repackaged into an excellent album.

And they show their influences without copying.

“Rush Hour” takes me back to the late 80’s with a song which sounds like it came from a Pretty Maids album with Mr Big’s “Addicted To The Rush” chucked in.

“No Way Out” brings out the Bad English vibe.

“Jane’s Carousel” has this verse riff which puts me back into the 80’s but it sounds like the Paul Stanley song “Live To Win”, only lighter.

“Across The Street” has this Night Ranger feel.

“Taxi Driver” feels like it came from a Van Halen album with Steve Perry like vocals. And the lead break is very Vito Bratta like. Just listen to it and you’ll know what I mean.

“Distant Love” is basically a Journey cut. Hell, it can even appear on a Revolution Saints album with Deen Castronovo singing.

“Roundabout” took all the excellent things about Autograph and mixed in some Def Leppard and made a real cool track.

“Road Of Dreams” can be interchanged with any Revolution Saints track.

“Sound Of The City” closes the album and it makes me press repeat to re-listen to it again.

This album brings back that feel-good 80’s vibe with the window down, driving 100km on the highway and the wind licking my face on my way to the city with hopes and dreams.

Adelitas Way

From the U.S.

Adelitas Way has over 1m listeners on Spotify and songs like “Invincible” have 34m streams and counting. They have a fan base and they’ve been servicing this fan base for a decade. When it comes to Modern Rock acts, this band is up there.

When I pressed play on “What It Takes” I thought I was listening to Digital Summer. They are an independent band I’ve supported over the last 15 years.

And the album is full of that modern rock vibe, a cross between Shinedown, Three Days Grace and Nickelback. It’s a guilty pleasure and I like it.

“Stay Ready” could have come from a Linkin Park album, the ones with heavy guitars and melodic vocals. And it’s one of my favourites on the album.

“My Derailment” is the best song that Nickelback hasn’t written in the last 5 years.

Other tracks worthy of a listen are “What It Takes”, “All In”, “Shine On”, “Stay”, “Habit” and “Heartbreak”.

Part 4 is coming up.

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

September 2020 – Part 2

Sevendust

I purchased my first Sevendust record back in 99 because I read the reviews about crashing guitars and melodic vocals, so I was keen to check em out. I took the CD home, unwrapped it, and looked at the album credits and the thank you credits before hearing a note. And I saw a name I was familiar with.

Jay Jay French was their manager. The same Jay Jay French from Twisted Sister.

Their first three albums (the self-titled debut released in 97, “Home” released in 99 and “Animosity” released in 2001) all went Gold in the U.S. and they got some traction in Australia as well.

I have been on and off the Sevendust train over the last 20 plus years and “Blood From A Stone” the lead single from their upcoming album is good enough to get me back on the train.

Starset

Their most streamed song, “Trials” has been reimagined.

And I didn’t like the original cut of the song, but I like the reimagined one. Which could be strange for fans of the original cut, because when George Lynch reimagined the “Wicked Sensation” album, I hated it, but other people could hear that reimagined version first and like it.

I guess like me with this band.

Khemmis

From Denver, Colorado, USA.

They took their name from an Ancient Egyptian city and more or less their whole Spotify collection is on this list as I really got into em over the month of September.

It was the blog “The Great Southern Brainfart” that got me interested.

The “Absolution” album was released in 2015.

That down-tuned, sludge like, fuzzed out, doom is all over this album but it’s the last track, the sombre “The Bereaved” which grabs me. It starts off with clean tone arpeggios before moving to a doom riff conjured from the darkest places a person could find.

And there is shred over the intro, so I wasn’t sure if this song is an 8 minute instrumental or if this was just one super long intro, because at 3 minutes in, no vocals had been heard.

And then they start at 3.11.

The “Hunted” album was released in 2016.

“Beyond The Door” and “Hunted” are the standout tracks. At 9 minutes and 12 minutes long, they roll along as an amalgamation of the “IV” album from Black Sabbath merged with the Gothenburg metal scene.

Especially the title track.

The “Desolation” album was released in 2018.

“Bloodletting” gets things off to a nice start but it’s the second track “Isolation” which gets me interested.

But “From Ruin” is the star of the album. That intro is so depressingly heavy it feels like lead on my shoulders.

Out of the darkest night / no one could help me find a way / but in the new spring dawn / I find the strength to carry on

Each new day is a new way to do things. To be seen, to learn, to own what you do and to do it better next time.

Then the song picks up with a 12/8 style riff that reminds me of “Phantom Of The Opera” with some killer leads.

“Doomed Heavy Metal” was released in 2020.

It’s a six song EP, with two originals, an awesome cover of “Rainbow In The Dark” (which sounds like how Ghost would cover it) and three live tracks.

And 2020 also gave us a doomy cover version of “Down In A Hole” from Alice In Chains as well.

They are a band on my radar. I’m interested, let’s see what comes next.

Andy James

From England.

One of my favourite instrumental guitarists going around at the moment.

He started off in the heavy metal band “Sacred Mother Tongue” between the years of 2004 and 2013. In between he also did some solo albums, instructional videos and classes and once he went solo, he also set up his Andy James Guitar Academy.

“Lock N’ Load” has this aggressive Five Finger Death Punch riff, with impressive leads, especially that sing along lead which appears in what I call the Chorus section.

Arctic Rain

From Sweden.

The album is very derivative which is okay for my taste, but “Night After Night” is a melodic rock song that really stands out.

Another act on Frontiers.

I’m also interested, let’s see what comes next.

Shiraz Lane

From Finland and another release on Frontiers.

“Broken Into Pieces” is the lead-off single from the soon to be released third album and I think this could be the album that makes me a fan.

Part 3 for September music coming up soon.

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

September 2020 – Part 1

Protest The Hero

From Canada.

They just dropped an album a few months ago and now they dropped a 2 song single of tracks that didn’t appear on the album.

If you like technical progressive metal, with vocals ranging from clean tone to death metal, then Protest The Hero is a band you need to check out.

My favourite album is “Volition”. This is the album after they got dropped by their label and they went the fan funded route, which we (the fans) had no problem helping with. But that was almost 7 years ago. In between they did an innovative Bandcamp project.

“Gift Horse” has some serious playing, with clean melodic vocals while “The Duelling Cavalier” continues the technical playing with a memorable guitar intro and corny lyrics, but hey, these dudes write songs about dog laws, Star Trek vs Star Wars, artists ripping fans off at the merchandise stand while they mime on stage, playing a bar in Newfoundland and getting drunk there with the locals plus topics on philosophical and stoic viewpoints on life.

Smith & Myers

I’m a fan of this acoustic side project. If you don’t know, it’s Brent Smith and Zach Myers from Shinedown.

“Not Mad Enough” is a song of the times, living with lockdown, police brutality and protests.

I can’t forgive what I can’t forget
And I can’t forget

It resonates straight away. I can’t forgive what I still remember. It’s a scar, but I move on and I learn from what happened, because it’s easy to blame the moment when things go bad, but really it’s the system that needs to be overhauled. The system that got me to that place in the beginning.

Face down, I can taste the blood
It’s hard to breathe, someone let me up

Whoever lived and saw the footage of George Floyd face down on the pavement, screaming “help me please, I can’t breathe” will never forget it. Because the person who held him down was a Police Officer, a person meant to protect him. And the other police officers just watched on, without doing anything to stop it.

In Flames

They remastered their brilliant “Clayman” album. Musically they are a heavy rock and metal band and the riffs are so catchy and memorable.

Vocally they move between clean tone and death metal, hence the term melodic death metal.

“Bullet Ride” and “Pinball Map”, musically, will not be out of place on a Judas Priest album.

“Only For The Weak” is a doom metal cut. Think of the album “Draconian Times” by Paradise Lost.

“Square Nothing” has this clean tone arpeggio riff with harmony guitars that remind me of Scorpions pre 80’s.

“Clayman” musically is brilliant and at first, the crackled growl vocals didn’t capture me, but the music is that good, that the song became a favourite.

“Satellites And Astronauts” musically could have come from an Iron Maiden album.

“Swim” just makes me pick up the guitar to learn it and “Another Day In Quicksand” has this “The Fire Still Burns” from Twisted Sister groove and riff.

Corey Taylor

He’s one of the better vocalists to have come out in the last 20 years. He can destroy his voice with Slipknot and he can bring the melody, the attitude and the AC/DC barroom brawl whenever he wants to other projects like Stone Sour, various cover songs and now to his own name as a solo act.

“Black Eyes Blue” is basically a hard rock track and I’m interested to hear more.

Redemption

Tom Englund from Evergrey is on vocals for this live recording and as an Evergrey fan I’m all in to the music Englund puts out, but Redemption came on my radar in the early 2000’s because Ray Adler from Fates Warning was on vocals.

The self-titled debut was released in 2003, “The Fullness Of Time” in 2005, “The Origins Of Ruin” in 2007, “Snowfall On Judgement Day” in 2009 and “This Mortal Coil” in 2011. Then a five year gap, and “The Art Of Loss” was released, the last album with Ray Adler on vocals and in 2018 a “Long Nights Journey Into Day” came out with Tom Englund on vocals.

But the band isn’t built around vocalists.

It’s built around guitarist and songwriter Nick Van Dyk, who has Chris Quirarte on drums, Sean Andrews on bass, Simone Mularoni on guitar and Vikram Shankar on keys.

There is a cover of Megadeth’s “Peace Sells” with drummer Chris Quirarte doing an unbelievable Dave Mustaine impression, all the way to the snarls and Chris Poland also guests on the guitar.

“The Echo Chamber” is still a favourite as it has an intro riff that reminds me of “Ytse Jam” from Dream Theater and lyrics so relevant of the time, because the echo chamber phenomenon is real in today’s world, as people expose themselves to information from like-minded individuals and they refuse to believe any other view-points or to research other view-points. The 5G Covid Conspiracy, the No Global Warming outcomes, the QAnon rabbit hole and whatever else that comes out around anti vaccinations and other conspiracies.

Stay tuned for part 2.

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

The Music Careers of the “Young Guns” from Guitar World September 1991

So I am flicking through an old issue of Guitar World that goes back to September 1991 and there is a D’Addario ad with the title “Young Guns II”. Pictured on the ad are the following guitar players;

Gary Hoey
John Axtel and Atom Ellis from Psychefunkapus
Tommy Bolan from Freight Train Jane
Gerard Zappa and Adam Holland from Valentine
Black Eyed Susan guitarists
Tristan
Matt Prudoehl

So what happened to these “Young Guns.”

Gary Hoey auditioned for Ozzy Osbourne in 1988, during the search for Jake E.Lee’s replacement. We all know that Zakk Wylde got that gig. He also auditioned for Def Leppard, which ended up going to Vivian Campbell. Then he teamed up with a few LA vets in “Heavy Bones” who released one album in 1992 and when it did nothing, they broke up shortly.

Good musicians never quit. He went solo and had a hit with “Hocus Pocus” a cover of the Focus hit. This led to some chart success, some soundtrack work and a monthly column in Guitar World called “Hocus Pocus” which I found informative and helpful to my guitar playing.

Although Extreme became famous for the funk rock in the early nineties, Hoey broke it down to a teachable lesson called “Get The Funk Out” from Guitar World June 1994 issue. But the best lesson for me was “Arpeggio Acrobats” that appeared in the November 1994 which involved playing string skipping arpeggios. Since then he has more or less released an album each year.

A true warrior of the music industry and a diversified artist. He doesn’t have the world-wide recognition but he has what a lot of musicians that had world recognition wish they had. A career in the music industry.

John Axtel (guitarist) and Atom Ellis (bass) from Psychefunkapus got together in 1986 and by 1992 it was all over. Two albums came out on Atlantic. 1990’s self titled debut and “Skin” in 1991. Then it was all over.

John Axtel has been around the scene with various projects and the same for Atom Ellis.  They also have shown their diversity and that is why they have been around in various bands and different genre’s.

Tommy Bolan was part of “Warlock” and then joined the solo band of “Black N Blue” vocalist Jamie St. James, which in the end became “Freight Train Jane”. “Mitch Perry” was the first choice however he was unavailable. Then Tommy Bolan auditioned and St.James had his “guitar guy”.

The band got together around 1991 as the ad for the “D’Addario” strings shows. The album “Hallucination” didn’t come out until 1994 and it did nothing.

Everyone is quick to blame “Grunge” however the decline of glam rock and hard rock bands has a lot to do with the songs and their messages just didn’t connect with the new generation of kids. For example, “You” from the album is great song musically but lame vocally. And when you compare it to another song called “You” from Candlebox, you would understand why connected and one didn’t. Tommy Bolan for all of his talent has been hit and miss. His most recent execursion was an instructional video/book out called “Metal Primer”.

This is one person that should have achieved more however for some reason didn’t.

Valentine started with Adam Holland (guitarist), Craig Pullman (keyboardist) and Gerard Zappa (bassist) in 1986. Once all the other band members joined they moved to LA and did some demos. Columbia Records came knocking only to see a record label re-shuffle put the band in a tough position which then turned out okay as their original A&R rep took the band with him to Giant Records who then released Valentine’s debut CD in 1990.

They they became Open Skyz, a new label deal with RCA eventuated and another self-titled album came out in 1993. Another label re-organisation meant no label and compounded with fatigue after almost a decade of music industry ups and downs, they called it a day.

However they have all remained in the music business and to this day continue to have a career in the music business. A new album called “Soul Salvation” came out in 2008 after a positive response to their Firefest appearance. Adam Holland is also the guitarist in the Steve Augeri Band (former Journey lead vocalist).

Blackeyed Susan had Dizzy Dean Davidson on vocals/guitar, Rick Criniti on guitar and Tony Santoro (RIP) also on guitar. Critini and Santoro both did time together in the band “Rage” while Dizzy Dean Davidson was fresh from his “Britny Fox” stint. Criniti also worked as a live keyboardist for Cinderella.   This band was talented and they had pedigree, however it wasn’t to be. The band split after their label Mercury pulled the plug and stopped the touring support dollars from filtering down in late 1991. However all three have had a career in the music business that lasted decades, even Santoro until his untimely death at 40 due to a heart attack.

Tristan and Matt Prudoehl I haven’t even heard off. Not back then and not now. Probably a reason why they failed to have a music career.

 

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Music, My Stories

The Game Of Rock Stars Claimed Vito Bratta

“I didn’t like them, and they didn’t like me!” said White Lion’s guitarist Vito Bratta as he tried to explain why bassist James Lomenzo and drummer Greg D’Angelo abruptly left the band at the end of their European tour.

“We didn’t fight – it was like me and Mike were a separate band from the two of them.”

Within four days they had recruited bass player Tommy T-Bone’ Caradonna – a veteran of Lita Ford and Alice Cooper’s backing bands – and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso, formerly with Y&T.

“The way it is now,” Vito said excitedly, “there’s so much attitude it’s scary to me.” 

The above was printed in the Hot Metal September 1991 issue.

When White Lion departed with bassist James Lomenzo and drummer Greg D’Angleo in 1991, a lot of people saw it as the end for the band.

A change was coming in the musical climate.

The record labels didn’t have no moral obligation to keep their hard rock rosters in tact. The only obligation they have is to the shareholders and their bottom line.

So with every major label signing bands from Seattle, the poor old hard rock bands that made the labels billions over the last 10 years suddenly disappeared. White Lion was one of them. The label never dropped them, however in my mind they would have dropped them eventually if the band stayed together.

White Lion finished up because Vito Bratta became conflicted. Disillusioned.

The recording business in 1989 was not interested in originality or allowing artists free reign in the song writing process, even though it would have made the record label more money in the long-term. The recording business only cared about short-term income and total control. So you have two entities trying to do business with each other and of course, their goals are not aligned.

Vito was never afraid to make observations about the bands exploding on the scene. He made various comments in Guitar magazines and rock magazines, about the sad state of guitar playing and how the song ceased to matter.

Vito wanted longevity and he didn’t like how White Lion was seen as part of the same movement of bands that he was commenting about. He was an artist competing in a game of rock stars. He was an artist competing in a game of profits. With each game, there is a winner and a loser.

By 1991, every artist needed a hit to get recognition. The album format was already dead due to MTV playing the “HIT” video. If a band had a hit single then people were interested in buying the album to see what that band is all about. This is Vito’s disillusionment. When he made an appearance on the Eddie Trunk show, he said words to the effect like “how do you write a hit single” when he was talking about Big Game, the following up to Pride.

Vito should have trusted himself and pushed the songs that connect with him. We are drawn to emotion. We all want to be touched. Trust your heart. White Lion was never a band that played the singles game, however the industry forced them into it and their main musical songwriter started to second guess himself.

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Alternate Reality, Music, My Stories

Cold Case – Connecting The Dots With Motley Crue And It’s Vocalist Problem.

“MOTLEY STILL SINGERLESS” is the headline from a news break item that did the rounds in an issue of Hot Metal from June 1992.

For everyone that had a vested interest in hard rock music knows, Motley Crue and Vince Neil parted ways in February 1992. The actual argument took place on February 11, 1992, with Motley Crue issuing the official statement on Neil’s departure on February 14, 1992.

Now from all evidence, it looks like the band started working with John Corabi immediately, from as earliest as February 17, 1992, however it wasn’t until September 27, 1992, that John Corabi officially signed a contract to be Motley Crue’s new lead vocalist. The below is from the June 1992, Hot Metal magazine and it is an update from Walt Woodward III (RIP);

In a conversation with Walt Woodward III, drummer with much touted and Hot Metal-approved The Scream, we just had to ask what exactly was going on with the band’s singer John Corabi? It seemed to those on the outside that just as The Scream was about to explode Down Under, John Corabi was gonna bail for Da Crue.

Well, as of April 15th no confirmation had been made. Says the very friendly Walt, “We’ve just finished recording a song with John. It’s for [MTV comedian] Paulie Shaw’s new movie Encino Man. Sure, Motley Crue are really interested in John. He’s been writing with them, and whether the songs end up on our album or the Crue’s is yet to be seen.”

Walt went on to explain that he was a big fan of dedication. Y’see, since becoming The Scream, John Corabi, Walt, Bruce Bouillet and John Alderette”…had really grown together, become good friends. I would hope that dedication would win through.”

If John was to bail from The Scream though, things would definitely go on. Says Walt, “We’ve all talked about it and if John did leave I can honestly say that there’s a couple of cool cats out there who’ve rung us up and will definitely blow some people away.”

The above is interesting for two reasons. As far as the guys in “The Scream” where concerned, the songs that John Corabi was working on, could have ended up on a Motley Crue album or a new Scream album. That would mean that even though John Corabi was working with Motley Crue, he was still technically or legally in The Scream.

This also goes against Nikki Sixx’s viewpoint on the matter that John Corabi was the only guy on the scene. The comments from Walt Woodward, gives some street cred to Sebastian Bach’s claim that he did in fact audition, as it was almost seven months from when Vince Neil left to when Motley Crue officially announced John Corabi as the replacement. The other vocalists that also auditioned are Stevie Rachelle from the band Tuff, Marq Torien from the band Bullet Boys and Stephen Shareaux from the band Kik Tracee.

Now if Sebastian Bach did audition in 1992, it would have had to have been between February 1992 and September 1992. Due to the fact that John Corabi had to wait until September to be officially recognised as the lead singer, it points to one thing; some reservations existed within the Motley Crue circle of managers, record label reps and road crew if John Corabi was the right man.

During the period December, 1991 and June 22, 1992, Skid Row was touring the U.S. Plenty of free days in between to tee up an audition.

From July 8, 1992 to August 11, 1992, Skid Row did a South American tour and wrapped up the month of August with an appearance at Castle Donnington in the U.K. Again, plenty of time to fit in an audition after the tour ended.

Skid Row didn’t hit the road again until October 1992 for a small Japanese tour and then they wrapped up the “Slave To The Grind” cycle, by supporting Guns N Roses on their “Use Your Illusion” Australian tour from January 30, 1993 to February 6, 1993. Of course by the time this cycle completed, Sebastian Bach had committed to Skid Row.

It is not uncommon for different theories to emerge when band members are replaced. Even Dream Theater got caught up in it, when the stories came out that Marco Minnemann got the Dream Theater drummer spot when Mike Portnoy left. That is why on the videos of the drummer audition that came out, you don’t see footage of Dream Theater telling Minnemann that he didn’t get the gig, however there was footage of when they told all the other drummers that auditioned they didn’t get the gig.

By connecting the dots, Marco Minnemann got the gig and then turned it down when he was told he needed to relocate to the other side of America.

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