A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Promised Land – Sweet and Lynch

I’ve been listening to “Promised Land”, the new single from the Sweet & Lynch project. For those that don’t know, Michael Sweet from Stryper joined forces with George Lynch to create Sweet & Lynch. They are supported by one of the best rhythm sections in the business in James Lomenzo on bass and Brian Tichy on drums. Underpinning it all is melodic rock label Frontiers.

Their first album, “Only To Rise” was released in 2014 and I must say it’s an excellent listen and a great throwback to a style I remember well, but with modern touches and production.

Well, here we are, 3 years later and “Promised Land” is the first single released from the upcoming “Unified” album.

The first thing that hooks me is the feel of the song. It’s basically a speed metal song and the double kick throughout the whole song adds to the frantic feel of it.

And the pedal point riffs make the song.

To me, it’s a cross between Dokken’s “Lightning Strikes Again” and “Tooth And Nail” in some sections and Stryper’s “The Way” in other sections. Reading some of the comments on the YouTube video, people are linking it to Dio, Iron Maiden, Ratt and Aerosmith. That’s the beauty of music. It’s subjective and I love the way people attach past influences to something new.

Lost on a sea of unreality
Searching for what we don’t know
Too many times we are blinded by fear
And locked in a box down below

We have been conditioned to reside in what’s familiar. We work with people who are familiar, doing jobs that are familiar and we will remain in these careers because it feels familiar. And we feel competent doing it. Change on the other hand is unfamiliar and it makes us feel incompetent.

Don’t let the devil rob your soul
He’ll always try to take his toll

In all forms of life we need to have a baddie, an entity that scares us so much, that we obey a certain way/rule so we don’t come across this entity.

Take my hand, the promised land
Is just where you want it to be
It’s all around, only to be found
Open your eyes and you’ll see the promised land

What is the promised land these days? Do people expect because they worked hard and did their best, something great will happen in the end? What are we seeking here?

Once you lie down it’s so hard to get up
That’s when the birds fly above
Eat from the table and drink from the cup
The glory of what you’re made of

Life is short and the world is forever. What we do while we are alive determines how long we live in the conversation after we are gone.

Don’t let the light go out in you
Look past the problems you pursue

Sometimes the things that mattered in our youth don’t matter as much when we get older. That’s what getting older means. We are able to not give a fuck about things.

The lead break is one of Lynch’s finest metal moments in 2017. It’s got melody, hammer ons, pull offs, sweep picking and string skipping. All at 140 plus clicks a minute.

It’s a crazy chaotic world we live in and a lot of good music is lost in the noise. “Promised Land” will probably be just another song lost in the 30 million plus songs on streaming, along with other Sweet & Lynch gems like “Love Stays”, “Me Without You” and “Recover”. But not to me. I’m streaming it and I’ll keep on streaming it.

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

Score Card Inc

Three years ago in November, 2013, I posted a score sheet on certain artists/trends and how they are dealing with the music business.

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

Robb Flynn
He still understands that it is not all about making records. From Nov 2013 to now, Robb Flynn via Machine Head, kept on releasing his Journals both video and written. In April, 2014, “Killers and Kings” came out for Record Store Day and the band went on tour. He started a clothing range called “Killers and Kings” that didn’t really take off. In November, 2014, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” came out and the band embarked on a lengthy “An Evening With” world tour. In June 1, 2016, “Is There Anybody Out There?” came out as a stand-alone single.

His connection with his audience runs deep. People either dig him or detest him or some people will not just forget him in an orange jumpsuit during the Nu-Metal phase of the band’s career.

Protest The Hero
Back in 2013, “Protest The Hero” showed how the record labels are so out of touch with its customers. PTH was dropped because the label told them they have no audience. However, a fan funding campaign showed a pretty impressive hard-core audience that was willing to cough up some serious dollars for the band. Even the band was blown away at the response.

And they did it again between Nov 2015 and April 2016 with “Pacific Myth” an innovative one song per month release over six months via Bandcamp. Fans had the option of two packages, and I selected the one that also had the six video releases. In between, the guys would upload drum videos, cooking videos, song transcriptions and what not.

Nikki Sixx
In 2013, he talked about a farewell tour. Well that tour finally happened and concluded in 2015. The Crue fan base didn’t really need one more world tour however, they wanted to finish up in their own way and the world tour is what we got, with a new song called “All Bad Things”. The movie is still in the works, they have their own pleasure toys, a rumour of The Dirt 2, plus lawsuits from photographers and opening bands to contend with. Seriously, squirting piss at a bunch of guys who paid $1 million to be on the tour would always end up in the courts.

With Sixx A.M. he has released an albums worth of music and the next album is coming in a few weeks. They are on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, he does his Sixx Sense Radio Show and he doesn’t like to wash his hands after going to the toilet.

Coheed and Cambria
By November, 2013, COCA had been touring non-stop on the back of “The Afterman” two album releases that came out within a 4 month window. Add to that Comic Con appearances, plus Sci-Fi conventions and appearances in Comic Shops and you get the idea that this band realises that it is not just about music and money. It is about creativity.

Since then, Claude Sanchez became a dad. He wrote more comics with his wife called “Translucid” in 2014 and in 2015 managed to release another slab of songs called “The Color Before The Sun” and go on a another world tour.

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

They need to make new music soon. There are only so many times that a band can go on a worldwide victory lap on the same piece of music. They need to be back in the studio.

Well, we are almost one week away from that new music hitting the streets and in the meantime, we have been treated to three tracks.
It’s a welcome relief to hear Metallica doing what they do best and I believe they have enough new music in their archives for another album to drop within two years this time, instead of eight.

And after hearing the album – yes it is available on the pirate sites, I can honestly say that it’s not worth the 8 year wait at all and maybe 4 song EP’s is the best way to go.

Dream Theater
I wrote in November 2013, that they need a great record soon or they will become yesterday’s news. Dream Theater has a knack for popping up with some goodies, like “Images and Words”, “Scenes From A Memory”, “Systematic Chaos” and “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”.

So in January 2016, they dropped the 130 minute “Astonishing” concept album, about a dystopian future society. Concept albums lead to different revenue spin offs like a stage play, comic book stories, video games, animations, TV series, a movie and so forth. But then again, Slayer are doing a graphic comic book series and have never done a concept album.

Stone Sour
I wrote in 2013, that something went south with their career trajectory. Of course, a beast called Slipknot would devour the creative forces of the band. Their take on modern metal is good, but with Slipknot getting more melodic, is there a reason for Stone Sour to exist.

Five Finger Death Punch
They have an audience who purchases and streams their product. Along the way, each album has received certifications for so many units moved. An onstage meltdown, a record label lawsuit and then a change of label has not slowed the band down in any way. If they can remain together, they will remain a powerhouse.

Trivium
Back in November, 2013, their new album “Vengeance Falls” was called a Disturbed covers album. The truth is, if people are talking about you, it is a good thing. And that album gave Trivium a concert classic in “Strife”. Since then, they released “Silence In The Snow” in 2015. They are always looking to reinvent themselves constantly while staying true to heavy metal. Plus Matt Heafy has a pretty cool Top 10 list of albums that changed his life.

1. Metallica – The Black Album (1991)
“A kid lent me The Black Album at school and it changed my life. I had never heard anything like it before, and I started playing guitar all the time.”

2. In Flames – Whoracle (1997)
“That was at the time of Napster, and I was into the classic great metal bands. I was on Napster and I found In Flames. I had never heard melodic death metal before, and it changed my ear on what kind of music I wanted to play.”

3. Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975)
“What I’ve always loved about Queen is that they’ve never released the same thing twice. Everything is drastically different while still sounding like Queen. Every song on A Night At The Opera sounds different to the next one and they all stand up as fantastic.”

4. Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988)
“With Iron Maiden it’s hard, because I love so many of their records. They’re all so important. Seventh Son, though, is the one that really got me into Iron Maiden. It’s one of their more epic records; there’s vivid storytelling going on. Getting into Iron Maiden helped me trace the roots of the music that I love. I could see where so many metal, death metal and black metal bands had taken things from.”

5. Ihsahn – Eremita (2012)
“Emperor changed my life, and Ihsahn changed my life again with this album. He spun the idea of black metal on its head by incorporating jazz chords, interesting production and clean singing. That record taught me to never be afraid of making whatever I want to make. We’ve always done that, but this album drove that home for me.”

6. Boston – Boston (1976)
“The vocal production is insane. Everything about this record epitomises the best things of rock ‘n’ roll.”

7. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
“The Beatles blow my mind in the same way that Queen do in that every song and record is so different to the last. Both of those bands have incredible songwriters as well. It’s not like nowadays where you might have one songwriter in a band.”

8. Emperor – Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (1997)
“This is where Emperor really changed the dynamic of where black metal was going. Black metal was the rebellion to rock and metal, and was supposed to be different. “When there’s a movement like that, a lot of bands come out playing semi-similar music. That record opened up with clean guitar and there’s this classical singing; it has chaotic moments and beautiful moments all in one. Emperor makes such interesting black metal with these big dramatic moments.”

9. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
“Listening to Depeche Mode, you can hear that Rammstein is a combination of Depeche Mode and Metallica. Violator is one of the darkest, scariest records I’ve ever heard. It has this different kind of sadness that you feel in the music.”

10. The London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart’s Requiem (1791)
“The gothic artwork of that record is incredible, and this version for me is just the best. Listening to this, you can hear that out of all contemporary music, metal is the closest living relative to classical. It is the most epic moments of music that have always drawn me in, and I feel that with Mozart’s Requiem that is where you’re getting into the blueprint for everything that was to come.”

Shinedown
They have an audience who want to listen to them and so far, no one’s doing hard rock better than them. Their new album “Threat To Survival” has taken its influences from Adele, Imagine Dragons and other pop artists and they still made it rock hard. Daughtry and James Durbin should take note. Along the way, their fans purchased and streamed all the way to certification after certification.

Avenged Sevenfold
Say what you will about the “influences” on “Hail To The King”, doing that album was a bigger risk for Avenged Sevenfold then their new album and it paid off for them.

Fast forward to 2016, and their new album drops early. It is a creative tour de force but to me it’s already in the rear view. All of the good bits in each song are undone by the creativity of trying to push the boundaries.

Piracy
In 2013, I wrote that piracy is not that large of a problem as the majors and the RIAA make it out to be and with revenues in 2016, approaching the pre-Napster era, it’s further proof that piracy does not affect their bottom lines, especially when there are services out there that can compete with piracy.

Evergrey
The pure definition of perseverance with 20 plus years in the music business and still going strong.

By November 2013, the “new” version of the band that delivered “Glorious Collision” had splintered again and lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund was not sure on the next step. A reconnection with drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage (who departed before “Glorious Collision”) spawned the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” in 2014 and a few months ago, “The Storm Within” builds on the atmospherics created by “Hymns”.

Megadeth
In 2013, Megadeth’s new album “Supercollider” was outsold by Metallica’s self-titled “Black” album. In 2015, Mustaine got his metal chops back and in 2016, “Dystopia” came out. Another Mustaine Resurrection was at hand.

Tremonti/Alter Bridge
Mark Tremonti knows it’s about putting new music out there and consistently. In 2013, we had “Fortress” from Alter Bridge. In 2015, we had “Cauterize” from Tremonti and 2016 has given us, “Dust” from Tremonti and “The Last Hero” from Alter Bridge. In three years, Tremonti has been part of 4 albums while Metallica ……

The Night Flight Orchestra
The best classic rock side project ever from Soilwork and Arch Enemy band members. The first album “Internal Affairs” came out in 2012 and the second “Skyline Whispers” in 2015. Essential listening to any hard rock fans of the 80’s.

Sales
In 2013, I wrote that sales are not the best metric to measure a bands reach and pull in the market. In 2016, listens are more important than sales.

Bullet For My Valentine
By November 2013, people had lost their “Temper Temper” with them, but in 2015, the band found their “Venom” again, which leads us to new music hitting the net in November 2016.

Revolution Saints
In 2013, this band existed in the head of the Frontiers President. In 2015, they released an excellent melodic AOR rock album. So much potential, so many good songs, great musicians and it all went to hell because Castronovo couldn’t keep his 5555t together. Let’s hope that Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich forgive him and they try for another album. This time with the three of them writing.

TesseracT
One of the hardest working progressive bands out there, building their fanbase, city by city. In 2011, they released “One”. In 2013, they released the excellent “Altered State” and in 2015 we got “Polaris”.

Days Of Jupiter
An unsung Swedish melodic groove rock band, that’s a cross between Evergrey and Disturbed. In 2012 they released “Secrets Brought to Life” and in 2015, “Only Ashes Remain” came out.

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

Muse
They play stadiums but they don’t have the same sales figures as the 70’s and 80’s legends. A perfect example of the modern world, in which massive single songs sell concert tickets.

Live
In 2013, I wrote;
Remember the excitement and the buzz of going to the show. It was uncontrollable. Everyone waiting in line to get inside, to watch a band that rules, in an era that music ruled. Today, it is too expensive to take kids to a concert and that is only for a glimpse in the back. This business needs a reset.

Concert ticket prices are still high, especially for the superstar acts. The price gauge happened as an offset to dwindling revenues from recorded sales, however with recorded music revenue now as high as the pre-Napster era, there is no reason for the high concert ticket prices.

Slash
As an artist, he didn’t need to go back to Gunners. He had enough momentum to keep going as a solo artist and with Myles Kennedy, a better front man than Axl Rose. Slash kept on releasing new music consistently, while Duff and Axl complained of piracy and artistically were dead in the water. Money triumphs over creativity and in this case, it’s really sad.

Album
Back in 2013, I wrote how everyone talks about the money that is lost due to piracy as album sales shrink. Back then 20% of the tracks on Spotify have never been played. So what is the point of the album, when people ignore the songs that are not “hits”. When I go to Spotify and I come across an artist I haven’t heard before, I go to their Spotify page and hear the tracks in their top 10 list. Those tracks in most cases are pulled from many different albums.

And if any of those tracks connect with me, I might dig deeper into the album.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Created by their love of metal and rock music and when that same genre put up roadblocks to a career in music, they changed tact and went all flamenco acoustic on the world. Talk about paying their dues and taking risks. They moved from Mexico and took a chance in Europe. Over an 8 year Dublin residence, they honed their style and songs, so when their “official” debut album hit in 2006, what seemed like an overnight sensation was 15 years in the making.

There is nothing more difficult in the world then trying to make it as a musician. You need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And your brand or movement might just make some small gains. Then it hits a few speed bumps, like Rodrigo and Gabriela’s metal band losing their recording contract in 1997 and suddenly you are back at the start. But they kept on showing up, on the coast of Mexico and playing their acoustic guitars in the bars. Because showing up day after day, is the hardest part of making a difference. If you look at the history of the artists we like and admire, you will see many years in pursuit of their dreams.

It is a work of a lifetime to create an impact and build something of substance. In 2013, they were riding the highs of their 2012 “Area 52” collaboration, which involved re-working their best songs with a full flamenco band. Then in 2014, “9 Dead Alive” dropped and new music is needed ASAP.

Sebastian Bach/Skid Row
They shouldn’t get back together, because no one cares about Skid Row in the way they used too. They might have a large audience in Japan, like Dokken, but the rest of the “Youth Gone Wild” have moved on. Sebastian Bach is actually bigger than Skid Row and releases way better music than Skid Row have done without him. But, what was he thinking when he approved the photo for his memoir’s cover.

The Kindred
From Canada and the healthy progressive scene. They started off as “Today I Caught The Plague” from the ashes of another band called “A Legend Falls”. In 2011 they released the excellent “Lore” and went on tour with one of my favourite bands in Protest The Hero and their “Scurrilous Tour”. Then in 2013, a name change happened to “The Kindred” and the excellent “Life In Lucidity” came out at the start of 2014.

However, PTH needed a drummer for their “Volition” tour and it was no surprise that they tapped Mike Ieradi (who also co-founded the group) to fill the spot. Then in 2015, vocalist David Journeaux departed, with Johnny McArthur as their new vocalist and Kenny Saunders as their new drummer. So now I wait to see what comes next.

Streaming
Back in 2013, I wrote that everyone talks about the money which isn’t filtering down to the artist and how streaming is too entrenched to be replaced. Since then the record labels have grown their revenues on the back of streaming. Artists who negotiate deals with the streaming services like Metallica and Motley Crue have never complained about streaming. Suddenly, luddites Anthrax are not complaining and Scott Ian even mentioned how he believes streaming is the best thing to have happened to the recording industry.

Streaming is the future and those artist who don’t grow with this future will be too busy shrinking.

The Gaslight Anthem
They do the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen better than Bruce Springsteen these days. It was like a supergroup of independent musicians that came together in New Jersey in 2006. Their 2010 album, “American Slang” spawned an unexpected hit with the title track and “45” from their 2012 album “Handwritten” became their biggest hit. Since then, “Get Hurt” came out in 2014 and by July 2015, the band went on an indefinite hiatus.

Since the hiatus, singer Brian Fallon released a solo album called “Painkillers” in March 2016, and on April, 2016, a vinyl EP called “Georgia” was released for Record Store Day 2016 with a limited pressing run of 2,000 copies on 10″ vinyl. Let’s hope that “The Gaslight Anthem” get together for more music over the next three-year period.

Volbeat
Seen as overnight sensations however they are over 25 years in the business. It all started with “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” in 2008 and being added to the Metallica “Death Magnetic U.S. Tour”. Then in 2010, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” came out and while that was still selling, they released “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” in 2013 and they hit every major music market over and over again. Since then, they released “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie” and are continuing on their merry ways. For all the newbies, check out their streaming numbers. They are huge compared to other major label metal/rock acts.

Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace
In 2013, Killswitch Engage released “Disarm the Descent”, their comeback album with Jesse Leach on vocals. And how good is “In Due Time” with brutal verses and an arena rock chorus. Then in February 2015, a new track called “Loyalty” appeared on “Catch The Throne: The Mixtape Volume 2” to promote “Game of Thrones”. They then toured and kept on working on “Incarnate” which finally came out on March 11, 2016. Since then, they toured and are planning on releasing a beer. Meanwhile, “Times of Grace” have five songs completed for a new album to come out, with their last one coming out in 2011.

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Music

Return Of 2015: Part III

NUMBER 8:
Days Of Jupiter – Only Ashes Remain
If you don’t like Disturbed’s comeback album, then get into this album.

Days Of Jupiter hail from Sweden and they started in January 2010, however the members have been in various bands prior. Like anything to do with music, it’s a long way just to rock and roll.

They take Disturbed’s / Shinedown / Five Finger Death Punch and Alter Bridge style of music, amp it up with “Rammstein” style grooves, mix in some Tool progressive grooves, add in some Euro/Metal influences like Accept, Scorpions, Evergrey and top it off with Arena Rock choruses.

The result is “Only Ashes Remain”; their second album. For those that don’t know, “Secrets Brought to Life” released in 2012, is their debut album.

The opening moments of “Ashes” bring back memories of Five Finger Death Punch’s “The Bleeding”. “Broken Halo” is a hell of a good song. “Remember My Name” is a metal tour de force.

“I” reminds me of the “Draconian Times” album by Paradise Lost. “Shut Up” is a monster song, with that Rammstein marching beat and “Last One Alive” brings back the intro of “Ashes”.

NUMBER 9:
Sweet and Lynch – Only To Rise
The people who spread the word for the project are either fans of Stryper and Dokken or Michael Sweet and George Lynch. Sweet and Lynch are two veterans of the music business who know they need to play to their core. It is the core audience that will sustain them and it will be the core audience that will abandon them when they deviate too far from it. My review can be found here.

The whole album is an example of the progress is derivative model that I subscribe too.

NUMBER 10:
Muse – Drones
I have a lot of time for this band, because of “Stockholm Syndrome”. That song was copied and used by a ton of metal and rock bands afterwards. “Drones” to me has enough to satisfy the core, and to pick up new fans. Check out “Psycho” that merges a “Black Sabbath” sludgy groove with classical overtones. Then comes “Mercy” that will satisfy the pop fans of Muse, plus it has enough grit to satisfy the rock fans. I will even go out on a limb and call Muse the modern-day Led Zeppelin.

“Reaper” kicks off with a Van Halen “Hot For Teacher” vibe and it has this “Still Of The Night” vibe from Whitesnake in the Chorus, while the bassist is playing lines like “Heart Of The Sunrise” from Yes. Brilliant.

Then you have a keyboard led song like “Aftermath” with it’s Claptonesque blues style of leads in the intro.

Chuck into the mix the Morricone themed “The Globalist” that morphs into a “Stockholm Syndrome” style movement that then morphs into an Elton John crossed with jazz movement and you can see why I call Muse the modern-day Led Zeppelin.

And the lyrics from Matt Bellamy are brilliant, especially for a band that has commercial appeal, who also racks up at least 5 million streams on Spotify each day. While Coldplay and Bon Jovi tell their audience they can move mountains, Muse/Bellamy tells them what is happening in the world at this point in time.

“Your mind is just a program and I’m the virus” ….. From “Psycho”

“Absent gods and silent tyranny
We’re going under hypnotised
By another puppeteer” ….. From “Mercy”

“I’m just a pawn and we’re all expendable” ….. From “Reapers”

“You were my oppressor
And I, I have been programmed to obey
Now, you are my handler
And I, I will execute your demands” ….. From “The Handler”

“Oppression is persisting
I can’t fight this brain conditioning
Our freedom’s just a loan
Run by machines and drones
They’ve got us locked into their sights” ….. From “Revolt”

NUMBER 11:
Coheed and Cambria – The Color Before The Sun
You can hear how fatherhood and love has affected Claude Sanchez.

“Island” kicks off the album. It’s similar in style to other major key rockers COCA have done in the past. However, the best song is Claude’s love song, “Here To Mars”.

And as usual Claude Sanchez comes up with some excellent lyrics;

“Now give me one good reason to stay here at all
When the fee is too big, our apartment’s too small
Where’s my life-saver when I’m screaming danger” ….. From “Island”

“You, you keeping on screaming from the top of your lungs,
Mr. Who Gives A Shit, just shut up” ….. From “You Got Spirit, Kid”

“You’re number one
Go on living that farce
Cause nobody gives a fuck who you are” ….. From “You Got Spirit, Kid”

NUMBER 12:
All That Remains – The Order Of Things
Maybe all the love goes to “Killswitch Engage”, but man All That Remains are up there as well.

“This Probably Won’t End Well”, “The Greatest Generation”, “For You”, “A Reason For Me To Fight”, “Bite My Tongue” (love the little jazzy breakdown solo section) and “Criticism and Self Realization” are stand outs.

And if you are looking for voices who are not afraid to speak their minds, then look no further than frontman, Phil Labonte. Check out some of his lyrics.

“Mistakes that are made are the gifts that keep giving” ….. From “This Probably Won’t End Well”

“They dug and shaped the earth and with their hands gave birth,
To all the modern wonders that you see, they worked from dawn till dusk” ….. From “The Greatest Generation”

“Cause I can’t wait while you think this through
We don’t have endless time, remember who left who” ….. From “For You”

“No cavalry left that we can call, we’re on our own, backs against the wall” ….. From “A Reason For Me To Fight”

“Apologies are empty words, I know you’re only sorry (because) you got caught” ….. From “Bite My Tongue”

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