After three weeks of zero posts it was James Durbin that got me out of the rut.
His first album dropped in 2011 and its a hard rock album. “Higher Than Heaven” is my favorite track. It’s melodic and heavy enough to rock and a co-write with James Michael and Marti Frederiksen.
Then album number 2 dropped in 2014 and it was not what I expected, more in line with the Imagine Dragons style of rock.
So I just moved on.
And then “The Road” came up on the New Release Playlist as I was driving.
I’d like to tell you that I knew it was Durbin on vocals just from hearing him, but I had to google it to find out. Hell I had to Google who was in that version of Quiet Riot.
Frankie Banali has been the drummer for the band since DuBrow reformed it in the 80s after the death of Rhoads. Bassist Chuck Wright replaced Rudy Sarzo and has been in and out of QR since the 80s. Guitarist Alex Grosso has been in a lot of hard rock bands and ended up in QR in 2006.
I wrote back in 2017 to go and listen to “The Road” first, then “Renegades” and “Freak Flag”. They are songs that should remain around for a lot longer. And I still stand by that but looking at Spotify, these songs doesn’t even rate in the Top 10.
Unfortunately this version of QR would record one more album. But, drama surrounded that release. Durbin left before it’s release and Banali went missing, only for the world to find out that he was dying from cancer.
But QR continues.
Johnny Kelly from Type O Negative and Danzig joins on drums. Jizzy Pearl is on vocals again. Alex Grossi remains on guitar and Rudy Sarzo has rejoined.
Young people today do not realise the impact that Twisted Sister had on the music business around 1984 and 1985. Sure, other bands had greater sales and bigger tours, however no one did MTV like Twisted Sister.
The “Because We Can” tour should of been renamed to “Because I Can”.
Richie Sambora didn’t show up to work but the show went on as JBJ had a replacement for Sambora on the same day.
Then Tico Torres undergoes emergency appendectomy surgery and the band POSTPONES their Mexico concert. This would have pissed the Jovi machine.
Then Tico fell ill again, but JBJ had a back up plan this time in New Jersey native and Kings Of Suburbia drummer Rich Scannella, who filled in until Tico was cleared to play.
The show must go on for JBJ as those super large merchandise deals means that the tour cannot stop. Merchandise deals become very expensive to the artist if they are broken or if the sales do not meet targets or if the promised shows are not delivered. Just ask Dee Snider.
It was almost September 24, 2013 and the new self titled Dream Theater album would be “officially” released on Roadrunner.
Going back a few more years, on September 13, 2011, “A Dramatic Turn Of Events” was released and it had 35,750 units sold in the first week.
With Roadrunner putting a lot of money into Dream Theater, they would want the above figures to increase by at least 20% but the market at that point in time was showing a shrinkage in sales compared to two years ago, due to licensed streaming.
But as album sales went down, concert attendances went up as well as ticket prices.
“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 anyone who wasn’t aware, 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.
The Crue wanted everyone to believe that they 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.
Sebastian Bach’s claimed that he did in fact audition during that period which Nikki Sixx denied on Twitter.
The other vocalists that are known to have auditioned are Stevie Rachelle from the band Tuff, Marq Torien from the band Bullet Boys and Stephen Shareaux from the band Kik Tracee.
Download “Illumination Theory”, “Behind The Veil” and “The Looking Glass”. “The Bigger Picture” also has some great musical sections. As for defining what Dream Theater is about right now; technical wizardry comes first and the actual song comes second.
A brilliant hard rock covers album of pop songs. Songs that I originally dismissed as terrible suddenly have a new lease of life thanks to Within Temptation’s reinterpretation and Sharon’s wonderful voice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Def Leppard was huge from 1983 to 1992. Even their sound was huge with multi-layered vocals and instrumentation.
They had a bit of a back lash in the 90’s and maybe alienated some of their fan base with their 90’s sounding “Slang” album. But like all great bands from the 80’s they had a renaissance.
Because of piracy.
No one could purchases or access Def Leppard’s digital music library legally between 2000 and 2017 (apart from the few forgeries the band did themselves and the live releases), so people obtained the music illegally.
And just like that Def Leppard replenished their fan base with younger fans.
“In recent years, we’ve been really fortunate that we’ve seen this new surge in our popularity. For the most part, that’s fuelled by younger people coming to the shows. We’ve been seeing it for the last 10, 12 or 15 years, you’d notice younger kids in the audience, but especially in the last couple of years, it’s grown exponentially. I really do believe that this is the upside of music piracy.”
Daft Punk’s track “Get Lucky” by August 2013 had been streamed 104,233,480 times. Spotify generally pays 0.004 a stream to the rights holder. So by doing the math that comes to $416,933.92 in payments from Spotify to the rights holder.
How much of this money is distributed down to Daft Punk from Columbia Records is unknown?
For a song that was released in April 2013, it’s proven to be a pretty good earner.
And i was wondering when Metal and rock bands would cross that 100 million mark. Well by 2021, a lot of em have and in the case of Queen, they’ve even crossed the billion mark.
It’s 1991 and Vito Bratta is doing the rounds for the Mane Attraction album. And he was uncomfortable.
A few years before this is what Vito Bratta said in the June 1989 issue of Kerrang magazine.
“I hate recording. I can’t stand it. I cant stand the pressures of writing and recording a record. If they told me tomorrow that i was going to go out on tour for fives years, i’d say, fine, i love it. Playing every night is what i love.”
When Vito did the Eddie Trunk show in 2007, he had this to say about the expectations placed on them by the Record Label;
“So the record company’s saying we need another “Pride”.
I say, “Ok, so what exactly does that mean?”
The label goes, “we need the hit singles”
I go, “listen the songs we gave you, on “Pride” weren’t hit singles written purposely to be to be hit singles. They were just songs that became hit singles and they were just songs we wrote. Now you’ve got somebody telling you now, you have to purposely write a hit single.
Now how do you do that?
How do you purposely write a hit single, I mean there are people out there that do that…”
In a Guitar World interview from the June 1991, Brad Tolinski asked Vito if Mane Attraction was difficult to make.
“In a way it was. It was the first time I ever felt real pressure. When we recorded our first record, “Fight To Survive”, we were real naive and just happy to have a deal.
Our next record, “Pride”, was also very relaxed. It was written over a period of three years, so we had plenty of time to compose and experiment. “Pride” went double platinum, which was both good and bad.
When we went to record the follow-up, “Big Game”, everyone told us, “Don’t worry, whatever you write will sell a million.”
There wasn’t any real fire or hunger on that record. We were playing arenas, getting big checks in the mail, getting calls that we were going platinum, and so on.
On top of that, we had convinced ourselves that we had to write hit singles in order to maintain our popularity, and in the end “Big Game” was too contrived. It didn’t sell as well as “Pride”.
This is what Vito had to say on the Eddie Trunk show;
“Big Game” was a setback for the Label. It didn’t sell as many. We were doing a headlining tour of Europe by ourselves for the “Big Game” album and they (the Label) said, “wouldn’t it be great if we played at Wembley with Motley Crue and Skid Row?”
Skid Row went on and they were just killing the place. And Motley Crue had a great show and here we are sandwiched in between.
We realized, that night, on stage at Wembley that these songs from the “Big Game” album aren’t translating well in the live show.
So we all looked at each other on stage and said we need to throw in some of our better stuff in here. I was like what better stuff. We need to write more for who we are because these songs are not translating.
Then we went back to the States and we told the record label, no more tours on this album. We are going to do the album that we want to do. And they said well considering how the last album went, they said “go ahead”.
They gave us unlimited funds.
“Mane Attraction” was a half a million dollar record. They just said go and do everything that you want.”
And the album failed to connect with a large audience.
Databases store everything we do online. And one of my favorite acts Cog had a song about it many years ago.
Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this And they’re scanning all their databases Hunting terrorists Yes they’re making lists of people interested in this And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist
Thinking short term hurts us. Every leader thinks about the now and never about what’s around the bend. The majority of people in charge of corporations only care about the now.
What is our bottom line looking like?
There is no care about their environmental footprint or employee well-being.
Record labels are the same. They focus so much on first week sales and charts as they believe it brings in an instant payday, without understanding that the payday they are really earning is from music created 30 plus years ago and it just percolated, slowly rising to the top.
Have you heard of the record labels starting to employ artists as employees and offer them retirement plans?
Of course not. That’s long term thinking.
And while everyone kept complaining that Spotify doesn’t pay, they couldn’t explain how Warner accumulated $360 million dollars in streaming fees from em.
All of those artists who sold their rights to the labels and publishers are losing out in the long run but maybe winning in the short term.
And I didn’t see much dumbing down of lyrics in the way the writers of the time claimed. And that’s why grunge took over. Instead I saw better lyrics, more mature lyrics, lyrics that showcased highs and lows.
So why would artists and film makers spend so much time on making one project every two to three years.
George Lucas once said that the $200 million movie is dead. But in 2013, a lot of blockbusters cost over $200 million and man didn’t they flop big time.
Movies like “R.I.P.D “ (a derivative version of Ghostbusters and Men In Black) and “The Lone Ranger” (a derivative version of The Lone Ranger TV show, National Treasure and Pirates of The Caribbean) came to mind.
For some reason, Hollywood still believes that they need a $200 million movie, meanwhile, the movies that did well in 2013 had lower budgets.
“The Conjuring” cost $20 million and when I wrote the article in 2013 it had made made $140 million and when I checked it today, it was at $319.5 million.
“The Heat” cost $43 million to make and in 2013 it had made $190 million and in 2021 it was at $229.9 million.
“Now You See Me” cost $75 million to make and in 2013 it had made $233 million and in 2021, the figures was at $351.7 million.
So is a $200 million budget movie really worth it or should those big budgets be used to make 5 lower budget movies.
So is social media a way to broadcast to people or connect with people?
And while I was critical of Dream Theater having a listening party with no fans, a few weeks later, they invited a select group of fans to experience the new album.
From its inception”TPB” is like a number one act, albeit a controversial act, always on top of the charts.
And it all happened via word of mouth in the same way we used to talk about artists and movies back in the day.
Or you can do like Lady Gaga, who would manipulate the mainstream media to write about her and get her loyal “monsters” to spread the word.
Are deluxe editions just overpriced boxes, offering the same thing over and over again for a higher price or offering something of value to a super fan that no one can get anywhere else?
The “Dream Theater” self-titled deluxe edition box set had the same album on a CD, a VINYL LP version and a FLAC version in a box and they charged over a $100 just to format shift the same music.
Meanwhile for half the price (at $55) Coheed and Cambria’s “The Afterman Limited Edition Deluxe Box Set Amory Award Edition” gives you the albums, the demos, a DVD making of, a VIP pass, a book of the story, and notes about the songs, plus a link to download the album and demos on mp3.
Back in the Eighties, the goal was to work in the music business for a record label while you dreamed of being a rock star. Fast forward thirty years and the goal is to work in technology as the new rock stars are the tech heads.
Artists don’t need a middle man to distribute their music, but artists are in love with the story of fame and wealth however they don’t understand that the aim of the game is to outlast the competition.
The “rock star myth” was a deliberate creation of the major labels. Wannabe musicians bought it hook, line and sinker, signing everything away to be the next star. And the Labels licked their lips at all the talent waiting to be exploited.
It’s got a “Kashmir” like groove I like. The head nods, the foot starts to tap and the fingers start to lay down the beat. There is a sense of classic rock familiarity that intrigues me and it is modern at the same time.
One last thing, when the future generations write the history of metal guitarists, talented players like Greg Tribbet will be forgotten. But he shouldn’t be.
Tribbet is a sum of his influences.
He can be progressive (Mudvayne’s 2nd album is the piece d resistance in progressive riffage), he can be heavy, he can be a guitar hero and he can be soulful, bluesy and even countrish. He is a great talent.
And since we are in the single music era, go and stream the crap out of this song. It will be worth your time.
I thought I’ll go with a Dio title for this post since I’m on a Dio kick at the moment.
Ahh, Copyright. A right created for creators to have a monopoly on their creations for a limited time, which was hijacked by corporations (Record Labels, Movie Studios and Publishers) and recently Investment funds.
I’m not a fan of “The Jesus and Mary Chain” but like so many artists before them, they are going to court because their label Warner Music doesn’t want to give them back the rights to their debut album, “Psycho Candy” released in 1985, even though the law states that they should.
This got me thinking about John Waite, who also went to court, because UMG wouldn’t give him back his rights.
And he didn’t win, because on the contract he signed, it was his “loan out company” on the paperwork and not him. Loan out companies are set up by the creator to employ themselves. This gives the artists a lot of tax benefits and when organisations make agreements with the artists, it is via their “loan out company”.
So UMG took the position that Waite didn’t grant them the copyrights, his company did and a company is not eligible to terminate a copyright.
Now for the triple smack down.
Are you ready?
The termination clauses in the Copyright Act, only allow natural persons and the heirs to terminate a copyright, so individuals benefit and not corporations. Yet, it is a corporation like Warner Music and UMG who benefit if the copyrights don’t revert back to the creators.
What a mess?
Waite’s tax-planning vehicle has crashed his termination rights and he had no idea that would be the case when he formed his loan out company.
And while creators are fighting to get back their songs, other creators are fighting to get back control of their brand. The estate of Chris Cornell, which is run by Vicky Cornell, has been controlling Soundgarden’s website and social media accounts. The surviving members of Soundgarden have asked previously for access, but they have been denied and they have not been happy about it.
Vicky Cornell sued the remaining members in 2019, accusing them of withholding royalties to force her to hand over recordings that Chris Cornell worked on before his death. And at the start of 2021, she sued them again over money and then offered to buy out the other members so she could control the Soundgarden brand.
But the change of ownership is a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, Gene Simmons from KISS has become a lobbyist, making his prophetic lyrics in “Cadillac Dreams” come true. Instead of recording new material, he is meeting with members of Congress to get laws passed so streaming services pay them more.
From the lips of Gene Simmons, “most people don’t realize every time you download a song, the songwriter is making minuscule amounts of one penny”. Umm is he talking about downloads or streams. Two totally different things there. And he goes onto a rant that there will be never be another Lennon, etc., but when you live in an ivory tower, you’re so out of touch, you have no idea what is happening and how much money new artists are making.
New Organisations which come from the labels or the publishers are still rooted in the same crappy innovation ideals of those organisations. So when Congress passed a law to create a new arm to match the unpaid royalties to artists, the first thing the new organisation did, called MLC, is nothing.
Their claim portal for artists to log in and search through unmatched songs and claim the ones they own is still not up and running.
Someone should tell Gene, to lobby this corporation to get the Claim Portal up and running.
So potentially, the unpaid royalties will now sit with MLC for at least 5 years and maybe more, before they even get a chance to be distributed.
But in all honesty, this will be a disaster, because there are a lot of conflicts of interest present when it comes to songs. Ex band members will claim songs out of spite, not because they wrote them.
And the Federal Court of Australia made Clive Palmer pay even more money back to Universal Publishing, for his recreation of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” into the song “Aussies Not Gonna Cop It”, which he then used in all of his campaign videos across the nation. So instead of paying $150K for a 12 month licence to use the proper song, he has ended up paying $1.5 million in damages plus lawyer fees and what not.
There hell bent nuclear strategy to go after internet service providers (ISPs) for the actions of a few users, these organisations have found a way to cut people off from the internet based on a mere accusation of copyright infringement.
A recent court decision in the U.S, has given these organisations unprecedented power and the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) is doing their best to get this bad decision overturned due to the incorrect instructions the judge had given the jury.
Basically these organisations claim for damages when people use the songs they have the rights for and then they get the courts and the law and the politicians to fight their battles.
Meanwhile, in Germany, the labels, publishers and independent copyright holders have teamed up with the ISP’s to block sites without the need of a court approval.
Each Copyright complaint by a label or TV producer is reviewed by a committee made up of retired judges. Streaming services make up 55% of revenue in Germany and piracy has reduced significantly. However people still seek out P2P services hence the reason why they want this kind of power.
But web-freedom activists are not happy as they believe this kind of power restricts internet freedom. The method here is to attack the services that offer illegal content rather than the users.
As the article in Billboard stated: “In Germany, the legislative environment is heavily weighted against censorship and attacks on internet freedom. Having lived under the Nazi Third Reich and communist East Germany, Germany considers privacy a hard-won freedom.”
The power granted to corporations for Copyright Infringements is a form of censorship and for the German people, censorship will never happen again.
Meanwhile Twitch is getting hit with thousands of copyright infringement claims on a daily basis. So the entertainment corporations close down or take down or shake down people and services from trading in pirated works, and then when they use music in their live streamed videos, these same bodies issue infringement claims to take it all down.
Maybe a conversation between Twitch and the entertainment corporations would have resulted in a better outcome.
But that’s too difficult.
Talking, that is.
And remember when Steven Spielberg was trying to destroy streaming services and Netflix in general and he didn’t want Netflix movies nominated for Oscars because the movies that Netflix makes are shown on TV screens. Well Netflix won seven Oscars at the recent Academy Awards and that was more than any other studio.
David Z, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington passed away. Ivan Moody was in a dark place at the time.
So many people make money from artists, and some make way more than the artists. The vicious cycles that artists are on from labels and management is borderline negligence.
The show must go on but there is no show when there is no artist.
The Jungle Giants is a band that plays a form of pop rock with dance/techno elements. I’m not a huge fan but in 2017 they were an unsigned artists that racked up over 50 million streams on Spotify. Those stats are impressive and a lot more than artists who actually have label deals.
It’s hard work controlling your own destiny. But you have the freedom to decide what path to take.
And Album number 4 just came out.
When is inspiration/influence just that and when is inspiration/influence copying?
It is possible to borrow without “stealing”. When ideas appear in ones mind, quite often they are unconsciously inspired by a piece of music the artist has heard.
And it’s perfectly okay and very common to take an existing idea and turn it into something new.
According to manager Barry McKay, Steve Harris stole an idea. I don’t know how you can steal an idea, but hey it happens.
Corporations and Unions run this country. The Courts have been compromised by money. The mainstream media is all about half-truths and likes. No one reports with any substance or an opinion anymore as they had served whoever paid them the most.
Game Of Thrones was the most pirated show in the world, with Australia leading the way.
Unless we pay $300 plus for a PAY TV subscription, we couldn’t watch it.
Nine years later nothing much has changed. We’re still a mess. We can’t get our population vaccinated and we have a leader who just looks for the photo opportunity and has best friends who run QANON sites.
I’m an Amazon Prime Video subscriber and due to a deal they have with another PAY TV provider in this country, I couldn’t watch Bosch S7 on Amazon.
So I downloaded it.
Imagine that. I’m a paying legal subscriber and I couldn’t watch a show that the service created on their platform.
Why did guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Alex Skolnick, John Petrucci and Paul Gilbert rise above all the other shredders of the era that came on the scene between 1984 and 1994?
Guitarists like Tony MacAlpine, Greg Howe and Vinnie Moore are all great guitarists, however they are still relatively unknowns outside of their guitar instrumental niche market.
Someone like Vinnie Moore played with Alice Cooper and is holding down the fort with UFO. He’s been there since 2003, 18 years. Michael Schenker only did 11, his first stint between 1973 and 78 was only 5 years.
Perseverance is a massive skill. Especially when it comes to life as a musician in an internet era with information overload each day.
And success happens when you contemplate giving up.
Dream Theater almost called it a day, between 1988 and 1991, when months rolled by and no suitable singer appeared.
Quiet Riot during the Randy Rhoads years, couldn’t get a U.S deal. After Randy left to join Ozzy, Kevin Dubrow persevered under his own surname, only to resurrect the Quiet Riot brand after the death of Randy Rhoads and turn it into a Number 1 act.
George Lynch auditioned for Ozzy’s band on two occasions, losing out to Randy Rhoads once and then to Jake E. Lee. One of his earlier bands “The Boyz” had a showcase gig organised for Gene Simmons to attend. Van Halen opened the show and the rest is history. Gene even said to Lynch, to consider changing his name as he will never make it.
Ronnie James Dio spent 18 years paying his dues before finding success with Rainbow in 1976.
How many musicians starting out today, would put in 18 years of service to music?
Don’t chase trends because what is here today will be gone tomorrow.
Of course it’s more difficult going your own way, however that is the future. If you are successful you will get label interest and a deal that suits you, because without an artist, there is no profit from music for the labels.
The major labels want radio hits so they find artists that are easy to sell and easily expendable.
“The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy was one of the funniest movies I had seen that year.
I provided my thoughts on the Metallica “Death Magnetic” DVD which included footage on the making of the album. It came with the Coffin Edition of the album.
James Hetfield still rules. As much as the documentary tried to paint Lars as this hands on kind of guy, if James didn’t agree or say yes, the musical idea wouldn’t be part of the song. Bob Rock once said that the problem with “St Anger” was that the main songwriter wasn’t there mentally. You can see that he is back for “Death Magnetic”.
And they went on a two year victory lap touring behind the album. They released DVD’s from shows, for the French and Latin America markets. They released live EP’s for certain markets. In Australia we got the “Six Feet Down Under” EP’s part 1 and 2.
When that died down, they orchestrated the “Big 4” shows and the “Orion” festival. They played the summer festivals around the world.
Then they celebrated their 30 years anniversary with a week of shows in San Francisco. When that died down they released the “Beyond Magnetic” EP, which had 4 songs that didn’t make the final cut. Then they released “Quebec Magnetic” and at that point in time they were doing the “Through The Never”movie.
So did anyone remember the debacle of “Lulu”?
It was old news, history. It’s like it never existed.
What a difference two years make?
“The House of Gold and Bones” by Stone Sour was becoming a favorite so I posted my review here and a review of a song “The Uncanny Valley” here.
At the time I was reading about how artists deserve to be paid for their creations because they put their blood, sweat and tears into those works.
When I was growing up there’s like a half a dozen or 10 big giant great bands that are super groups you know. Now it’s like there are thousands of bands. Picking through everything is hard. It’s stressful trying to find all the right music you know. George Lynch
It’s a good time for an artist to get their product out and streaming has moved distribution further away from the labels. And it pissed em off because their power came from controlling the distribution. Then the millions started coming in from streaming and suddenly their powerful again. And all they did was moan and complain.
8 Years Ago (2013)
I was writing about my fandom of Tesseract, who just released the excellent “Altered State”.
And it reminded me of an Australian band called Karnivool.
Tesseract also liked Karnivool as they had a few of the Karnivool songs in the Spotify playlists they created to promote the album.
Trivium was also doing the usual PR interviews about their new upcoming album called “Vengeance Falls”, produced by David Draiman from Disturbed.
And from the interviews, the theme was, “Bigger Melodies, Bigger Hooks, Bigger Riffs.”
And in 2021, I can say that the album proved just that, giving us the concert favorite “Strife” with its Judas Priest “Sentinel” Intro.
And the lyrics from Dave Mustaine seemed prophetic to me during this period.
I was questioning why artists would spend a lot of time putting together 12 tracks just to sell them as a packages for $10. It’s an old business model. In 2021, that business model is 55 plus years old.
I can’t recall a lot of companies doing the exact same thing they did 55 years ago and surviving.
But it looks like the album won’t go away anytime soon.
Apart from the great listening experience it also changed the way I played and wrote songs. After this album, I was okay with jamming on a groove instead of soloing.
This album joined albums like “Tribute”, “Powerslave”, “Somewhere In Time”, “Appetite For Destruction”, “Slave To The Grind”, “The Great Radio Controversy”, “And Justice For All”, “Metallica Black Album”, “5150”, “Hysteria”, “Wicked Sensation”, “No More Tears” and “Images And Words” as my “Bible” albums. These “Bible” albums are albums that I devoured, learning the riffs and the licks.
Tool is Maynard James Keenan on vocals, Adam Jones on guitar, Justin Chancellor on bass and Danny Carey on drums. Production is handled by David Bottrill.
The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. It went to No. 1 in Australia. In the U.S its certified as 3x Platinum and in Australia it’s also certified as Platinum. People were listening and unable to turn it off. Even on streaming services, the song “Schism” has only been on Spotify just under two years and it’s at 49.3 million streams, And it’s a 8 minute song.
The album is a product of the members being at the peak of their creativity and a four year label dispute.
At the time the band was critical of file sharing, so as part of the marketing for the album, they announced a different album title and a bogus 12 song track list, with stupid titles like “Encephatalis” and “Coeliacus”. Of course, the unregulated Wild West of file sharing sites, were flooded with bogus files bearing the titles’ names. It wasn’t until a month later that the band revealed the real album name and that the name “Systema Encéphale” and the track list had been a bunch of bullshit.
CD’s can pack 79 minutes of music and Tool gave em a few seconds back. Because at 78 minutes and 51 seconds long, it’s got every groove and landscape packed in across the 13 tracks. And to think that they kept editing the album at the mastering stage to get it under 79 minutes.
The whine of a machine starting up and it all comes crashing in, the toms are syncopated with the guitar riff and the bass is unique, taking the lead here to outline a different melody.
Once the vocals kick in with “Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity / Calculate what we will or will not tolerate”, they syncopate with the guitar riff. Maynard is telling ya, don’t let your grudges hold you back.
At 1.22, the song changes. It takes you into uncharted territory. The previous landscape is gone, in the rear-view mirror. And we are into the verse.
Clutch it like a cornerstone Otherwise, it all comes down Terrified of being wrong Ultimatum prison cell
You can’t imagine your life without the grudge you might have against the person who wronged you, the scarlet letterman. And what if your grudge isn’t justified and you have been wrong the whole time. You don’t want to be in that position, so you keep holding onto the grudge.
The song changes again after the bridge, with the vocal melody of “Choose to let this go”. The riff is heavy, Sabbath like heavy.
Give away the stone Let the waters kiss and transmutate These leaden grudges into gold
Let the burden go, it’s okay. Don’t let your hate and prejudices define you anymore.
The song then percolates and builds from 6.25 as the intro riff returns. Then there is silence and just the bass. And then an explosion of music from the 7 minute mark as Maynard belts out a scream that he carries for 24 seconds.
Studio trickery. Maybe.
The last 30 seconds is how you end a song. Listen to it. You will not be disappointed.
A creeping guitar riff starts the song off. At the Sydney concert I watched, Maynard did say the song is about the vampires that you come across in your life, who try to get you down.
But I’m still right here Giving blood, keeping faith And I’m still right here
Wait it out Gonna wait it out Be patient (wait it out)
The vampires could be anything. The education system, society, the corporations, the government, a friend, a lover, a family member. Be patient. Everyone comes undone eventually.
8 power chords are played on the bass, then silence for a few seconds, before the iconic bass riff starts the song. Justin Chancellor announces himself as a bass hero.
I know the pieces fit cause I watched them tumble down No fault, none to blame, it doesn’t mean I don’t desire To point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over To bring the pieces back together, rediscover communication
Once upon a time, all religions were the right one, than, they fell apart. The pieces are now corrupt, moulded shadows of the once great temple. This song says if the pieces don’t communicate with each other than we are doomed.
They are two tracks on the album. But they exist as one as the last note of “Parabol” flows into “Parabola”
The three minutes of “Parabol” feels like I’m in the vast plains of the Middle East, looking at the night sky.
The Pre Chorus and Chorus of “Parabola” echo Maynard’s work with A Perfect Circle.
This body holding me, reminding me that I am not alone in This body makes me feel eternal All this pain is an illusion
Live in the now people. It’s easier said than done. I know people who can’t let go of the past. It consumes them to the stage of insanity. They feel wronged. But all this pain a person feels focusing on the past is an illusion. It’s not real, it manifests in the brain. The pain that you think you are experiencing will pass.
At 2.04 it changes from being a standard hard rock song into a typical Tool song.
At 3.58 the bass takes over for a brief moment before the band kicks in, setting up the finale, the last 2 minutes.
At 4.40, a Black Sabbath fuzzed out riff kicks in. it plays while the drums play like a ceremonial fill.
Ticks And Leeches
A drum pattern kicks off the song. The bass kicks in, with a riff that is played along with the bass drum. It’s weird and off putting. Then the guitars kick in with some repeating single notes, the bass gets busier and so do the drums. By the 50 second mark, the double kick is frantic.
And then it changes for the verses.
Maynard’s melody is bordering on the periphery like a chainsaw.
Hope this is what you wanted Hope this is what you had in mind Cause this is what you’re getting I hope you’re choking I hope you choke on this
How good is that that Pre Chorus and Chorus riff, when Maynard is singing the melody of “hope this is what you wanted” and “I hope your choking”.
At 3.24 it changes into a clean tone guitar riff that keeps repeating forever. It percolates up to the 5.58 minute mark, before it explodes for the final 2 minutes.
Got nothing left to give to you
Every person with a dream or a goal has ticks and leeches waiting to suck em dry. Even good old Mother Nature will have nothing left to give us except floods, droughts and fire, for the humans are parasites here, sucking the wealth of resources dry for profit.
Then the massive ending from 7.20. The double kick drums are relentless, that Pre Chorus/Chorus riff kicks in and Maynard starts with his “is this what you wanted” melody.
The epic title track at 9 minutes and 22 seconds long.
The clean guitar riff is basic and it keeps repeating. Then the bass comes in and the drums, an explosion of poly rhythms and exploration.
How good is the main riff from 1.15? It’s a metal tour de force.
At 4.50, it’s just the bass, playing a triplet of notes with a brief pause.
And the intro guitar kicks in again.
And it keeps building.
Then at 7.17, the best part of the song kicks in. The drums play a simple beat, while the guitar is staccato like and the bass is doing something different, highlighting the vocal melody with a choice selection of notes.
It needs to be heard to be understood.
Reaching out to embrace the random. Reaching out to embrace whatever may come.
A song in which the “spirit” lives outside the norms but the person is still human and divine at the same time. They touch on these kind of themes with “Forty Six & 2” from the “Aenima” album.
Listen to it and read the lyrics. It’s like a complex novel coming to life.
Disposition/Reflection/Triad/Faaip De Oiad
The final tracks are part of a large suite but separate tracks on the album.
“Disposition” is like a tribal drum groove with a clean tone guitar riff. It only goes for about 3 minutes and 20 seconds.
It carries into “Reflection” which is the centrepiece at 11 minutes. It has a drum groove that evokes the Middle East, another iconic bass line, synths and an exotic guitar and vocal line.
So crucify the ego, before it’s far too late To leave behind this place so negative and blind and cynical And you will come to find that we are all one mind Capable of all that’s imagined and all conceivable Just let the light touch you And let the words spill through And let them pass right through Bringing out our hope and reason
It’s an incredible Tool song.
How good is the line “capable of all that’s imagined and conceivable”?
It’s the same mantra put forward by the self-development industry. You know the one, the 10,000 hours, showing grit, emotional intelligence, a growth mindset, resilience and creating a culture in which people feel safe to express their thoughts and everything will turn out okay.
From 8.28 it really kicks into a groove. Watching it live, is a memorable experience.
A 6 minute conclusion as the vast plains of the Middle East are back.
“Faaip de Oiad” is Enochian for “The Voice of God”. Now if you’re wondering what Enochian is, I also had to look it up when I came across it years ago. It’s basically an occult language that two spiritualists from England came up with, who claim angels divined this language to them.
As for the song, it’s just abstract noise and nothing worth talking about.
I was introduced to Tool in 1998. My best man burnt me the “Aenima” CD. I immediately got it. It was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t want the album to end.
This album has sustained 20 years. It’s not something you play a track from and then forget about, it’s something you go deeper into. It’s a journey.
They covered so much ground with this album and “Aenima”, that they next two albums that came after in “10,000 Days” and “Fear Inoculum” got stigmatised as sounding like “Aenima” and “Lateralus”.
And progressive rock/metal is meant to be dead. But Tool doesn’t fit into that category. It’s a little bit of metal, a little bit of rock, a little bit of progressive in its time changes and song structures and in its lyrics, they push different boundaries and messages. And Tool doesn’t care what the labels want or what the charts like. They push their own envelope, catering to their own needs first and taking their listeners with them.
Most of Tool’s songs since the “Aenima” album, are over seven minutes long. Their most recent album “Fear Inoculum” has every song over ten minutes. From a streaming point of view, this is a bad idea, as one Tool song from start to finish equates to three to four pop songs. And in an hour, you will hear a 15 minute Tool song 4 times whereas a 3 minute pop song will be heard 20 times.
So when you see a Tool song in the multi-millions, just think of the time invested listening to these songs.
If you hate Tool, then keep ignoring em. If you are into hip-hop only, ignore em. If you like your 3 to 4 minute pop fix, ignore em. But if you are a rocker and you liked how bands used to experiment with a song or two on an album, then you need to check out Tool.
And like Tool, I couldn’t edit this post any shorter. It is what it is, because it is.
I looked at Spotify’s Global Top 50 and I didn’t see a rock artist listed. It was all hip hop and collaborations of other hip hop artists. The Global Viral Top 50 also presented with a list of unknown artists to me. Artists like WhoHeem, Salem Ilese, Ritt Momney, JVKE and I could go on and list so many names and not one of them would be known to me.
And then Spotify releases data reports and tells everyone that hard rock and heavy metal artists are the most listened to. But the Top 50 and Viral lists doesn’t support that.
So people listen to what is popular and they listen a lot while the song is popular and then move on to the next big thing. But in rock and metal, people listen and they keep on listening for years and years.
So the streaming money is in rock. But the labels and the media that supports the labels like to report that hip hop is dominant.
Even in the live arena, rock bands dominate, in ticket sales and merch. And COVID19 has hurt these artists, that’s for sure, but it’s also given these artists an opportunity to get new music done, or a new book, or a new collaboration, or a new side project or something else.
Because music will keep paying forever. Streaming makes that a reality. It scales. As long as you hold the copyrights for your songs, they will pay you and your kids and your grandkids for a long time, because copyright takes a long time to expire these days. And the labels are pushing for never.
And going to a rock and roll show, it’s not all oldsters. There is a whole new audience there, its cyclical and if the kids can’t pay the high prices for the tickets, their parents will.
Remember in the pre-streaming era, a sale was a sale. And if you listened to a record or not was irrelevant. It was still a sale to the label and the artist thought they had a fan. But that was never certain.
But rock is not seen as rock anymore. There is pop rock, classic rock, post rock, hard rock, melodic rock, heavy rock, progressive rock, folk rock, stoner rock, sludge rock, punk rock and I can keep going with the different terms. In other words, there are so many niches and artist are playing to these niches and sustaining.
Hard Rock never went away when grunge came. It was still there albeit at a reduced release schedule and fans of the genre still purchased the albums that got released. And that niche is still there.
For artists, they need to realise it’s about subscriptions. Adobe went to monthly subscriptions and so did Microsoft. Apple is bundling all of their wares into a nice subscription. Netflix is subscription based. So is Amazon. For a small monthly fee, you get a lot of content and in music, you almost get the history of recorded music at your fingertips.
If you still want to create a CD, remember that CD sales thrived because people were rebuying their previous vinyl and cassette albums on CD and people who had computers with CD drives were purchasing CD’s. Computers don’t even come with CD drives anymore.
And for those who are upset that Daniel Ek is a billionaire, remember that without Spotify, Universal and Warner Music would be worth a lot less.
Streaming was gonna happen, because it’s on demand distribution. And people like that.
Based on RIAA certifications (total album units certified by the RIAA) Iron Maiden has 6.5 million sales in the US.
Megadeth and Tesla are also sitting at the same certification amount across their catalogue.
Who do you reckon has the biggest audience when it comes to playing live from the 3 bands?
Which tells me that Iron Maiden must be the most heavily pirated band there is. Their sales of recorded music compared to their sales of concert tickets and merchandise just don’t correlate. They get the same attendance as Metallica would get, yet the difference in certified album units between the bands is huge.
Metallica is at 63 million certified units.
While Megadeth and Tesla do play live, the crowds they get compared to Maiden are very different but they have the same amount of certified album sales.
So sales of recorded music does not correlate to massive concert attendances.
David Lee Roth, Muse and Dokken are sitting at 3.5M certified units but Muse plays gigs to 15,000 people and are headliners for certain European summer festivals.
Dokken even at their height didn’t play venues that big nor did David Lee Roth as a solo artist.
Like with Maiden, the sales of certified units don’t correlate with the concert attendances.
Since the sales don’t correlate to the increased demand for concert tickets, is it illegal downloading or the access to music via streaming driving the growth?