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

2017

Every year, I see album of the year lists. And I’ve done em as well. But in truth, a large percentage of those top 10 albums that make it on lists are due to just a few songs that connect with people. Well that’s how it happens with me these days. Of course some albums are great from start to finish, but it’s a rarity.

So this year, my 2017 list is made up songs that I’ve come across in 2017’s Release Radar (in other words released in 2017) or Discover Playlist from Spotify that I’ve heard the first time in 2017 and have connected with me.

In order to compile the list before year-end, I stopped adding music to the playlist at the end of November. So here is my playlist of new music I heard in 2017.

Also in 2017, Spotify gave me a ton of stats.

So I listened to 66,157 minutes of music, which equates to 1103 hours, which equates to about 3 hours of listening each day.

7,084 different songs make up my listening habit for 2017, which is made up of 1,680 different artists. Hell, I even skipped 2,274 songs. Back in the 80’s I listened to less than 30 artists.

My five top artists for 2017 are The Night Flight Orchestra, Whitesnake, Coheed and Cambria, Trivium and Ozzy Osbourne. And here is my Spotify generated playlist of the top 100 songs I listened too in 2017 across all decades.

Life Ain’t Easy (For A Boy With Long Hair) – The New Roses

Who would have thought that a German act would sound better than the American acts that influenced them?

So what can I say
Things got that bad
I stood before the mirror
To shave my head
But then I looked into my eyes
And I knew right then
You’ll let your hair grow
And start a band

Hilarious but it doesn’t take away from the story setting. We don’t know what we should do sometimes. And when it comes time to make a life-changing decision and dealing with the unknown, it’s important to remind yourself of your true calling.

And as the years went bye
Fashion went and came
And everybody changed
But I’m still the same
Now you try to dress up
Like a rock and roll star
You don’t look cool
And you won’t get far
What you’re looking for
You can’t just buy and wear

There is so much truth in the above. I can put on a T-shirt from companies who endorse MMA fighters and it doesn’t mean I support the sport. The same goes for people who wear Harley Davidsons T-shirts while they drive around in 4WD’s. Rock and metal wear is an attitude as much as a lifestyle choice. It was never about looking cool or a fashion statement. It was about acceptance and being a member of the tribe.

Freedom – Revolution Saints

It’s the best song on the album. Deen Castronovo is one hell of a vocalist and he kicks off this song with a great drum groove. Musically it sounds like a Deep Purple song from the Coverdale era and there’s nothing wrong with that influence whatsoever.

Freedom
Sweet freedom
Coming my way

It’s the mood the music sets that hooks me in and the way it builds in the verses.

Gemini – The Night Flight Orchestra

On each album TNFO have a disco pop metal rock track. “West Ruth Ave” took the spot on the first album, “Living For The Night-time” took the spot on the second album and “Gemini” takes the spot on the third album. So many influences are present in this song. It’s like Styx, The Police, Divinyls and Blondie got put into a blender and out came “Gemini”.

Blind Leading The Blind – Adrenaline Mob

Man the “Mob” has suffered on the road. AJ Pero didn’t survive the tour he was involved in and recently David Z lost his life when a truck slammed into their van parked on the side of the road.

The world is running out of time
We all think we know what’s wrong or right
It’s the blind leading the blind

Our governments work for the corporations who are only interested in making money. They don’t care about global warming or our natural resources. The debates between the two sides don’t even exist. How can one side argue their point if the other side doesn’t believe there is a point to argue.

Goodbye Forever – Volbeat

The mighty Michael Poulsen is one hell of a songwriter. As soon as the song starts off with his major key lead and 60’s rock feel, I’m hooked.

Did you say the thing you wanted?
Have you ever felt in love?
A moment where no problems would ever get you down
Free as an eagle but only for a day, yeah listen

Live every moment like it’s your last.

Take the arms that embrace, no more being afraid
Feel the sun on your face or goodbye forever

Live in the now, don’t be afraid.

We are the birth
We are the end
We are the souls
We have a name
We are the rising and fallen ones
We are the spirit forever more

This is my favourite part of the song. I dig how the military style drumming works with the syncopated guitar lines and the gospel backing vocals. Just brilliant.

They Don’t Care About Us – Saliva

It’s a great re-imagining of a Michael Jackson song in a hard rock context. It’s from their “Love, Lies and Therapy” album released in 2016. Hell I don’t even know who is in the band anymore. They sort of dropped off my radar after Josey Scott left.

Skin head, dead head
Everybody gone bad
Situation, aggravation
Everybody allegation
In the suite, on the news
Everybody dog food
Bang bang, shot dead
Everybody’s gone mad

All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us

“Bang, bang, shot dead.” The two biggest man-made killers of people are guns and cars. So it’s not surprising that terrorists are using the two to cause chaos in major cities. But what about the home-grown madman, who takes bags of guns into a Las Vegas Hotel and then proceeds to play target practice at a Country Music Festival. Even though the song was in response to Rodney King’s beating at the hands of LA Police, the message remains the same, 20 plus years later.

Every time mass shootings happen, the Government fails to do anything. And it doesn’t matter who is President. Mass shootings happened under Trump and he has done nothing. They happened under Obama and he did nothing. They happened under Bush Jnr and he did nothing. They happened under Clinton and he did nothing. They happened under Bush Snr and he did nothing.

The Government is voted in by the people, but all they do is please the lobby groups and corporations.

Mass shootings happened in Australia under previous Governments; however when the “Port Arthur” massacre happened while the Liberal Government of John Howard was in power, we finally had a leader and a Government that stood up and made change. Since then, we haven’t had a mass shooting.

People always remember what people do.

Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now
I’m tired of being the victim of shame
They’re throwing me in a class with a bad name
I can’t believe this is the land from which I came

After 9/11, our rights all around the world disappeared as the democratically elected Governments passed a lot of laws to “try and prevent future disasters from happening” which in turn made these democratically elected governments similar to totalitarian governments.

The laws passed involved the invasion of our privacy. Our phone calls either could be or will be recorded, our emails would be stored and analysed by an algorithm, our Google searches would be reported for certain key words and analysed, our text messages and so much more.

We are the victims of Government corruption to protect the faceless people who pay the politicians to speak for them.

Periscope – Papa Roach

One of the bands I was involved with in the early 2000’s covered “Last Resort” because it had that “Bring Your Daughter (To The Slaughter)” riff.

I don’t want to dive in first
You don’t want to hear these words
It’s only going to make it worse

So the band with each album has been on my radar and with each album they surprise with their diversity. This is another surprise. There’s hardly any distortion but the song still rocks hard.

Black Rain – Eclipse

They are from Stockholm, Sweden. They formed in 1999 and currently they are on Frontiers Records. Singer/guitarist/bassist Erik Martensson also has a side gig writing songs for other artists. Frontiers Records constantly use him to write songs for other artists. If you don’t believe me, check out W.E.T and Revolution Saints even covered an Eclipse song on their debut album.

This song is here because of the lead break. The riff under it reminds me of “Hangar 18” by Megadeth, while the actual lead break itself is reminiscent of the “Mr Crowley” outro lead and the “Tornado of Souls” lead by Marty Friedman.

No Surrender – Art Of Anarchy
Changed Man – Art Of Anarchy
The Madness – Art Of Anarchy

I was really surprised by this release. Actually I was blown away by it. The lyrics more or less reference the schizophrenic breakdown of Scott Stapp. Hell you can call it a concept album.

“In ‘No Surrender’ I addressed those moments in life where you’ve reached a personal crossroads or crisis. That place where your back is against the wall and you’re left with two choices — to cave in and crumble allowing whatever circumstance to break you forever, or to rise up and fight through holding on to that never give up spirit that lies deep within. I detail in the verses personal experiences, as I lived them, that have taken me to that critical place of choice. Am I to give up, stay down and fade away or get up, fight on and never surrender.”
Scott Stapp

In “No Surrender”, Stapp is singing, “No way out, hit the flat line, we get up, no surrender, it’s your time, grab the lifeline, we get up, no surrender, no surrender”. There it is, the human spirit fighting for its place in society and the world at large.

In “The Madness”, Stapp is singing, “The madness keeps me from the other side”. And the other side is where he wants to be. Its greener, full of love and his family is there. He wants to be there with them.

In “Changed Man”, Stapp is singing, “Give me one more chance, cause I’m a changed man, it’s time to come back home”. You can hear the sorrow and regret in his voice.

You live, you make mistakes, you learn from the mistakes, you create memories and experiences and then you write songs about them. And while a lot of people I know pretend to be perfect and happy, reality is so much different.

The Violence – Rise Against

I came across this band via Guitar Hero. My kids had “Savior” up and man it was a pretty wicked song and I’ve been a fan since.

Are we not good enough? Are we not brave enough?
Is the violence in our nature just the image of our maker?
Are we not good enough? Are we not brave enough?
To become something greater
Than the violence in our nature?

I guess a few madmen who are in charge spoil it for the billions who don’t seek violence and war.

Pariah – Steve Wilson

Porcupine Tree or solo!

Does it really matter for Steve Wilson?

I’m tired of Facebook
Tired of my failing health
I’m tired of everyone
And that includes myself

Can we ever really disconnect from society and people in our current social media driven times?

Carry Me My Bones – Corroded
A Note To Me – Corroded

It’s the acoustic version from “The Nevo Sessions”.

“Carry Me My Bones” in distortion is a pretty good song, but man, the acoustic version is swampy and groovy and rawer and better.

Carry me my tired bones

If only our bones could talk and tell us the secrets they hold of how they kept our body together in times of stress, being overworked, being drunk or depressed.

“A Note To Me”

I’m just a coward who hates everything about me
Everything I’ve done was a lie
It’s hard not to cry

Self-assessment or awareness of invulnerability is what makes us better.

I stand before you in my nakedness
I admit that I was wrong
My only hope is that you will forgive
And that someday, someday, will forget

I’m not perfect. I’ve said words that have hurt people. Some of them have forgiven me and others haven’t. But I’ve learnt from every word said in spite to be better.

Light Me Up – Doom Unit

It’s got this swampy bluesy feel which I really dig. Plus the vocal melodies are addictive. And they are from Finland. I’ll be honest, there is something in the culture water’s around Northern Europe because there is so much good music coming out of the region.

When I start another day
I’m slowly drowning all the way
Light me up

When the day isn’t happening the way you planned and nothing is going right for you, you need to focus on what you can control.

Human (Jim Eno Sessions) – Ran’n’Bone Man

Elton John reckons Rag’n’Bone man has the best new music out there. If you haven’t heard “Human” then you should. It’s a hit and it’s getting there slowly, as all good music does its converting people like me into it. This version is a simple piano/acoustic guitar version. It’s raw and the vocals are emotive.

I’m only human
I make mistakes

We all make mistakes. And we get a lot of chances to make amends and learn from those mistakes.

Playing With Fire – I Am Giant

I’m through with playing with games in the presence of a liar

It’s the opening line of this groovy little number.

Are we dragging up the past when I’ve walked the line already

Yes, our memories can have a negative impact. There are always things in the past that we regret. But, for some, regretful words, choices and actions remain with them forever. Every single memory from the past comes with an emotion. Get stuck with a past emotion and you roadblock your future.

Lost – Death Angel

I thought this was Adrenaline Mob when I heard it. And even though the song came out in 2016 on “The Evil Divide” album, I only just heard it, so it’s in my 2017 list. And it’s that bridge section that comes in at 2.50 that hooked me in.

Rain down on me and wash this pain away

In every ancient text, rain is seeing as the great redeemer. It’s part of Mother Nature’s arsenal to destroy the sins of man-made structures.

From The Flame – Leprous

I had to Google to find out more information about Leprous. Wikipedia tells me that Leprous is a Norwegian progressive metal band formed in 2001 and the band gained prominence as the backing band for former Emperor front man Ihsahn’s live shows.

You’ll find me here when I’m gone
Where I made my surrender

There is always a street, a home, a beach, a park where something went down. A paradigm shift so big that the person’s life was/is changed forever.

Send In The Clowns – End Of Green

This song is so gloomy but I like it. I have no idea who End of Green is or how the album sounds. All I know is that this song came up on my Release Radar playlist and it’s been a save from the outset.

So I went to Google to find out more. Check out what Wikipedia tells me.

End of Green is a German gothic/doom metal band formed in Stuttgart in 1992. According to singer Michael Huber, the band’s name implies the end of the colour green, which typically symbolizes hope. This fits with the type of music the band produces. The band describes its style as Depressed Subcore. The lyrics are about loneliness, depression, pain and death.

Damn right it’s depressing and yet there is something hypnotic about it.

In this moment so painful
I’ll wear the chains of the past

So true.

When we feel down, it’s the memories of the past that keep us weighed down, unable to get out of the hole. The words said or not said and the actions taken or the lack of actions taken. And those memories of the past normally come with an emotion. It we allow that emotion to control us, our current days will be pre-loaded with pain and angst.

All my life they have pushed me around

At some point in time, we will hit the wall. Like it or not, endings are real and there’s nothing that can be done. But all endings serve a purpose and are necessary. An un-loving or over controlling or violent relationship prevents us from reaching our potential. So what do we do, when we take back control of our lives?

Basically, good things cannot start to happen unless the bad ends.

Promised Land – Sweet & Lynch

People who know who I am and what my faith is all about know that heaven is often referred to as the Promised Land. That’s exactly what the song is about. How we struggle through life yet through it all, we need to stay strong and focused. Eventually, we’ll see the Promised Land.
Michael Sweet

“Promised Land” is the opening track and the first single in the lead up to the album release. This song deserves more attention, but it’s hard to break through the noise. Each new track is competing against all the hit records plus everything in between.

“Take my hand, the promised land”.

The promised land can be any place or event that you have kept a discipline or focus to get to. It could be the home you built or purchased or a personal achievement or goal.

My Fate – Vimic

Is this Joey Jordison’s third or fourth post Slipknot band?

The reason why this song is here happens from 3.15 to the end. You need to hear it to appreciate it.

And that outro guitar solo. You need to hear that as well to appreciate it.

I am the author of my fate

One of the best lines I’ve heard. The buck stops with you. The place you are in right now is because of you and the decision you made. You are the author of your fate.

Here I Stand – In Whispers

I got no idea who this band is and how many albums they have released. But this song came up on a Release Radar or Discover playlist and it was good enough to end up in my 2017 playlist.

The song originally hit YouTube in 2011. The album “Sound The Alarm” came out in March 2013. The first time I heard the song is in 2017. It’s the way of the world. Things take some time to get our attention.

Are you still around when it happens?

The main riff hooks me in, a combination of Judas Priest style riffing made famous by Avenged Sevenfold and Black Veil Brides in their songs. ‘Knives and Pens’ by Black Veil Brides sounds like Avenged Sevenfold’s ‘Unholy Confessions”.

Here I stand
And I won’t fall down
Mercy me
With both my feet on the ground
Shame on me
Forever holding you down
Here I stand
And I won’t fall down

Every time I hear “Here I Stand” I think of standing before someone (a powerful entity, a corrupted employer or a loved one) to face judgement or punishment for some act in the past. Who gave the right to these people to judge upon me?

The Road – Quiet Riot

As soon as I heard the voice, it was familiar. 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 this version of Quiet Riot. It’s good to see that Quiet Riot is still releasing new music, even when the two founders in Rhoads and DuBrow have both left this Earth for astral planes far and wide and main songwriter from the 80s Carlos Cavazo is now bending strings for Ratt which looks like to be on hiatus anyway.

Feels like we just got back
I’ll kiss my family and I’ll be out the door again
We’re running around in the dark
We are together apart

Unless your family is travelling with you, the road is just you, the guys in the band, some members of the road crew and lonely miles between cities. A lot of artists don’t come back. Randy Rhoads didn’t come back home. Steve Ray Vaughan didn’t come back. A lot of the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t come back. Cliff Burton didn’t come back. Kurt Cobain came back but didn’t want to go back out. Chris Cornell didn’t come back. Chester Bennington didn’t come back. AJ Pero didn’t come back. David Z didn’t come back and the other guys from Adrenaline Mob got pretty banged up.

American Rock ‘n Roll – Kid Rock
Greatest Show On Earth – Kid Rock
Stand The Pain – Kid Rock

From his newest album “Sweet Southern Sugar”. I can’t say I’m a huge Kid Rock fan, but I do check out his stuff from time to time. I also caught him live on the Bon Jovi “Because We Can” tour. He’s a showman and a very good one at that. These three songs are hard southern rock all the way and man, they are a joy to listen too. It’s like one big party jam committed to tape.

American Rock ‘n Roll

It’s the laid back rock of the 70’s which today is known as country rock.

“Headlights shining on rusted fences as I pass the rail yard”

I love the lyric. It brings back memories of the past regardless where you lived.

Fire up the lighter and a Lucky Strike
The radio’s saying “Take a walk on the wild side”

If you are a smoker today, you are seen as a fool.

Why would you put a cigarette in your mouth when you know how it kills ya? But once upon a time, smoking was a part of life, especially socially.

Give me that heart and that soul
American rock ‘n’ roll

Amen.

Greatest Show On Earth

It’s the in your face album opener. Again, it’s dirtied up blues in Kid Rock’s own unique way.

I’m a full-blown
Down home rolling stone
I’m a cyclone
I’ll shit wherever I roam

The attitude, groove and lyrical phrasing in the verses hook me in. Like any rocker who hits the road, they come and leave like a cyclone.

The Chorus, is the best Chorus that Aerosmith didn’t write.

Welcome to the greatest
Love you when you hate us
Welcome to the greatest f….. show on earth

A showman Kid Rock is. I saw him opening up for Bon Jovi on the  “Because We Can” tour and he nailed it. He had the stadium crowd in his hands and he took us on his journey. Even my wife, you never heard one single note from Kid Rock enjoyed the show.

Stand The Pain

It’s got the same message like all the rock anthems of the past. But it’s not a rocker. It’s a laid back rocker.

When it feels like you just can’t stand the pain
And when it feels there’s nothing left that you can do
Just bow your head down and plow right through

Working smarter is better than working harder. If the day’s events caused a massive change in your life, there is no use in attaching emotions to them because it will always end in pain. The best way is to move onto the new day and into new beginnings.

Sometimes life’s plans can be postponed
And it’s hard to step back out into the unknown

I’ve been in situations like this. I can plan for some future state but life is full of random variables which can never be foreseen. And suddenly, when these variables strike, I am navigating unknown roads, looking for answers.

You and Me – Farmers Boys

It’s weird to explain this band. It’s like Muse went a bit heavier. Wikipedia tells me they are a heavy metal band from Stuttgart, Germany and have been active since 1994. They reached their peak of popularity with their album “The World Is Ours” in 2000. Wikipedia further tells me their musical style is a blend of Machine Head’s groove metal and Paradise Lost’s gothic metal. Add Muse to that list.

You and me against them all; this is how it ends

Humans are excellent at finding something to be afraid of. This ranges from our partners, to the people in the shadows, to the faceless network of people conspiring against us and what we stand for and so forth. However, if there is someone who lets us down, it’s normally ourselves. Our doubt cripples us. Because of doubt, we don’t trust in our own abilities to try to do something new. But a time comes in all of our lives, when we become brave enough to rise.

We never giving up giving in
That’s how we bring the system down.
You and me carry on
’till all the kingdoms fall

Redefined – H.E.A.T
Best Of The Broken – H.E.A.T

H.E.A.T is a Swedish hard rock group formed in 2007. These songs are from album number 5. Yep, back in the 80’s, if an artist went global or continental, they might get to album number 5. In the internet era of 1999 plus, artists are getting to album number 5 and above without getting out of their own continent.

Redefined

You tell me what you want
And I give you what you need
We don’t realize we’re redefined
You tell me what you want
And I give you what you need
We don’t realize we are redefined

Our roles in society, relationships and our lives in general are constantly redefined. Sometimes by choices we made or by choices of others. And it’s okay if we make short-sighted bad decisions based on short-term thinking. Everyone does it. However not everyone can correct those decisions.

Best Of The Broken

Welcome, now, say goodbye
Good men will be sacrificed
We are the industry, running free
Wearing rings of cyanide

Damn right. The recording industry makes a lot of money. And that money buys them influence. When you have influence, you are basically allowed to run free and do whatever you want. However, when the internet introduced a new distribution system which the recording industry couldn’t control, they screamed and moaned and paid a lot of dollars to get laws written to give them back control.

Smalltown Boy – Apollo Drive

When I first heard the song I thought it was a Coldplay song from their earlier albums. It’s got an iconic piano riff and I’m thinking, this song is massive, why isn’t it a bigger hit. So I Google “Smalltown Boy” and I find out the original artist who performed it is Bronski Beat on their 1984 album “The Age Of Consent”. On their Spotify account, the song has 24 plus million streams, while the Apollo Drive account has only twenty thousand streams.

Anyway, I prefer the Apollo Drive. And it’s weird that in this day and age, I know nothing of the band. A quick Google search tells me they are from Sweden and they took their band name from a LA street where the deal was done to form the band.

You leave in the morning with everything you own in a little black case
Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a sad and lonely face

Mother will never understand why you had to leave
But the answers you seek will never be found at home
The love that you need will never be found at home

People had to escape their towns and head to the cities if they wanted to make something of themselves. Some succeeded, some failed and some just didn’t make it. It doesn’t have to be that way today. You can be somebody from the confines of your bedroom walls, while you still live with your parents.

Karma – Cyhra
Closure – Cyhra
Dark Clarity – Cyhra

I had to Google who Cyhra are. It’s like a Scandinavian supergroup. It features former Amaranthe vocalist Jake E., ex In Flames guitarist Jesper Strömblad, ex In Flames bassist Peter Iwers and drummer Alexander Landenberg from power metal outfit Rhapsody. The foundations are all based on friendship and a desire to create music.

Karma

Consumed by greed
You trade your hearts away
You don’t practice what you preach
Well you’re planting your own dismay

Is it about a band member that did them wrong or a manager or someone else that ripped them off? Either way, it’s a brilliant verse.

And the song is a cross between the Euro modern metal vibe of their earlier bands with Bon Jovi style Choruses. It’s brilliant and I’m a fan.

Closure

It’s got some wicked harmonies for a ballad.

And every single argument’s
Like walking on glass
Whatever the setback
I’ll never look back

Damn right it is. An argument is never fully finished because each party feels like they should have said more, so it just sits there until next time.

Dark Clarity

Again, harmony guitars kick off the song and once the drums come in, it’s moshing time.

I’m romancing a cliché
In this life we portray
We conduct our own demise
I want to break out

We wear so many masks in our daily lives. Sometimes it gets so much living a cliché, we just want to rip those masks off, before it’s too late.

Angel Of Mercy – Black Label Society

I don’t know what it is, but man this song gets the hairs rising on the back of my neck. It brings back memories. I can just imagine lying on my bedroom floor listening to this on headphones! For those that don’t know, the song appears on the album “Catacombs Of the Black Vatican” from Black Label Society. It’s not a 2017 release but it’s been in my playlist since it came out in 2014.

The lead break is pure magic. It just explodes out of the speakers and builds and builds to the point where you cannot help but be in awe at the feel, the melodic phrasing and the disciplined technique on display. The song will never be a hit on the Billboard Charts and due to its mellow nature it might never get a live appearance, but god damn it, the song is a classic.

Til It’s Gone – Kenny Chesney

He’s a country rocker and this song sounds like those southern rock bands of the Seventies for some reason. It’s from his 2014 album, “The Big Revival”. I had to look him up to see what’s the go because to be honest I don’t follow country music. Wikipedia tells me he has recorded 20 albums, 14 of which have been certified Gold or higher by the RIAA. Goes to show that you could be king of your niche/genre but it doesn’t mean that everybody in the world knows who you are.

Got nowhere to go and all night to get there
But I’m going there with you

It’s the opening line of the song and it hooks me in.

The Doomed – A Perfect Circle

I really dig A Perfect Circle. “The Doomed” is their first piece of new music since 2013 and scheduled to appear on their fourth studio album, their first in 14 years. I suppose anything that involves Maynard from Tool, takes time to fruition.

Wikipedia tells me that the song’s origins go back to a small orchestral part written by guitarist/founder Billy Howerdel, who was writing the soundtrack for the indie film D-Love during the band’s downtime in 2015. The part didn’t end up making it in the film; however Howerdel sent the part to band vocalist Maynard James Keenan which Keenan then in return asked Howerdel to write a song around it.

And with anything involving Maynard, the lyrics generate a lot of debate.  Howerdel mentioned that, to him, the song is about how power corrupts the people in control of the world.

Behold the new Christ
Behold the same old horde

It doesn’t matter who gets voted in or who leads a nation or a company. The people who forced out the previous leader are still there. The faceless horde is still scheming and plotting.

Blessed are the fornicates
May we bend down to be their whores?
Blessed are the rich
May we labor, deliver them more

I guess not much has changed in human history. The majority of People are still building the dreams of a few people.

Doomed are the poor
Doomed are the peaceful
Doomed are the meek
Doomed are the merciful

If you have a pure heart and a utopian vision, you are doomed. Lies and deceit rule the day. Ignorance and race rule the day. Money and power rule our lives.

You’re on your own!”

We are always on our own.

Rags to Riches – Babylon A.D

“Rags To Riches” is one of the singles released in the lead up and it hooked me in with its “Atomic Playboys” style riff. Musically its excellent and that solo break with that riff underpinning it, is just brilliant.

Rags to riches, young girl got her wishes

With the whole #METOO movement and people speaking up, maybe the young girl didn’t get what she really wished for.

Wanderlust – Black Country Communion

I dig this “super” group. First, I am a fan of Joe Bonamassa on guitar. Glenn Hughes on bass and vocals is a no brainer. Then when you add the rest of the personal, you can see it’s got some serious cred.

I don’t know what the song is about lyrically. I don’t really care, because the sounds, the groove and the feel hook me in.

Forever Alone – Bigfoot

I dig this. It’s got a cool Journey vibe circa 1980-1983. So I had to Google them to find out more and to be honest, the Google search didn’t give me back much information except they are on Frontiers Records (which is no surprise),

What I did find is they are a 5 piece Hard Rock band based in Wigan, England, formed in 2014. Their website tells me they have influences stemming from many different genres from The Eagles to Pantera.

And this song sounds like Journey.

The Outsider – Black Veil Brides
My Vow – Black Veil Brides

You either dig BVB or hate BVB. There is no in between. Personally, I got into the band because of the guitarists and by album number 3, the songs started to grow on me. These two songs are from album number 5, called “Vale” due to be released January 2018.

The Outsider

You know how A7X copped flack for cloning some great metal songs on “Hail to the King”. Well, I think BVB cloned the whole A7X album on this song. And that my friend is why I love music. The familiarity of the melodies and the sounds.

This wall of stone
That they built to cage our minds

No truths or facts will change a mind that doesn’t want to be changed. And our viewpoints from birth are shaped by the social tribes we grew up in. Eventually as we get older, we start our own research and start to form our own views. And some of us just remain with the views that we grew up with.

Say a prayer, every night
All we hear must be right
I am the outsider

The power of religion is huge. Those words in the Bible are treated like truth. But people are forming different views. I always say that the entities with the power get to rewrite history in a way that it suits them. The wealthiest entity in the world is religion.

My Vow

The way the song starts off hooks me in. The riffs are classic heavy metal straight from the metal 80’s.

Like a bomb that ticks when my heart clicks
I’ll be left for dead with what I’ve said

Such a cool lyric about the moment when the words you say are like a bomb going off in a room.

And that lead break is shredalicious.

Bloodline Lullaby – Otherwise

As soon as it starts, I am reminded of “The Afterman” by Coheed and Cambria.

Another day, another moon

So true.

Any time you’re feeling lonely
Just listen to the wind, you’ll hear me
Sing your song across the sky
This is our bloodline lullaby

It’s about being a parent, the bloodline that ties father to child.

Crazy as it seems, love in the spotlight
Chasing out a dream, living through fault line
You are all I need, you’re my everything
Counting down the hours, so how the time flies
Running the miracle mile, crossing the state lines
I’m right here with you, always true

And that’s the truth. Once you become a parent, your priorities change. Suddenly the spotlight you craved ceases to be the most important thing in your life. And on tour, you are counting down the days before you get back home to see your son or daughter. Not all artists have those same feelings, only some.

God of the Sun – Sons of Apollo
Alive – Sons Of Apollo
Labyrinth – Sons Of Apollo

When I read that Portnoy/Sherinian started a project together I wasn’t interested. However as a fan of Ron Bumblefoot Thal, I was suddenly very interested. And when I read that Portnoy/Sherinian tapped Jeff Scott Soto to do vocals, I was very intrigued.

Any fan of progressive rock/metal will love this album. It has everything that all the great albums have. Even the musical interludes are memorable and hummable, which has become a forgotten art form over the last 15 years as bands play more technical and physically exhausting intricate passages in their songs.

God of the Sun

The Arabian Middle Eastern feel in the intro hooks me in right away and when Bumblefoot kicks in with the riff at 1.20, its breaking desk time. But it gets even better at the 2 minute mark with another head busting, desk breaking riff. And when JSS starts singing at the 2.30 minute mark, the feel is laid back and very Kashmir like in the groove.

Cause I am the light
Surrender tonight
I am the face of tomorrow
Now I’ve just begun
You can’t hide or run
Cause I am the god of the sun

JSS brings out his Dio influences in the chorus. Hell, this passage could have appeared on a Dio/Malmsteen album.

Then at the 5 minute mark, the song moves into a laid back solo section before going all proggy at the 7 minute mark.

Even though I am not a drummer, I remember watching a video of Mark Portnoy discussing how he drums certain songs and he spoke about a cool little technique called Stretch and Grow. It’s like they play a 4 bar riff, with a 1 bar melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff, but this time, the 2 bars of the melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff, and the now 3 bars of the melodic passage. You can see how they are stretching and growing the 1 bar melodic passage. Then they play the same 4 bar riff and 4 bars of the melodic passage.

Then they start contract the “Stretch and Grow” back to the 1 bar melodic passage. So it basically goes, 4 bar riff, 4 bar melodic passage, 4 bar riff, 3 bar melodic passage, 4 bar riff, 2 bar melodic passage and it all ends with the same 4 bar riff and 1 bar melodic passage.

And that my friend is Prog 101.

Alive

It’s about drug use. Hell, most of the addictions we have these days are legal ones. Prescription drugs, nicotine and alcohol are all-powerful legal drugs.

Colorize the sadness; the fear is black and white
Tunnel of denial, looking for the light
The devil on my shoulder, the master of disguise
Can you hear him singing?

The song is a power ballad.

Labyrinth

Stare at the wall
Pray for reflection

The black mirror screens we stare at are the walls that reflect back at us.

Cause it takes me in
And I can’t let go
But I’ll never win
In this labyrinth

Social media is a labyrinth. Our quest in connection has created a labyrinth which takes us in and never lets us go. I know the song is not about social media, but making the connection is easy.

Time stands still in this virtual land
There’s no winning this losing hand

And the way the song weaves in and out of progressive rock and hard rock, is like a labyrinth.

Internal Masquerade – Galactic Cowboys

This band had a lot of promo from Geffen Records back in the day, but the audience just didn’t come. Eventually they got dropped and disappeared, only to return. And what a nice return it is.

As soon as the intro riff kicks in, I’m hooked. It’s a combination of natural harmonics and scalar runs, outlining the chord progression.

I’m your fear from deep inside
I’m the hate that you can’t hide
I’m the demons that comprise your very soul
I’m the rose amongst the thorns
I’m the angel with the horns
I’m the deeper darker side of you

How many times have you smiled but really felt like ripping the other person’s head off in rage. We all have that darker side.

The Sin And The Sentence – Trivium
Other Worlds – Trivium
Beyond Oblivion – Trivium
The Revanchist – Trivium
Endless Night – Trivium

It was the James Hetfield vocals on “The Crusade” that hooked me in. Fast forward almost 10 years later and Trivium is still at it and still kicking some butt.

The Sin and the Sentence

The first thing that comes to mind is the T1000 Cybernetic drummer. Wow, the speed and precision. Human capabilities never cease to amaze me.

You better practice your lines
You better practice your words
I know that real monsters lie
Between the light and the shade

Hell, this could be directed at any leader of a democratic country. Isn’t it funny how democratically elected leaders want to turn their country into a totalitarian state, like the same ones our grandfathers went to war to defeat?

You condemn me
Cause you don’t understand me

And that my friend’s is life in a nutshell. The politicians are so out of touch with society and reality, they don’t understand us. They are so wrapped up in their ivory towers I bet if a journalist asked any leader of the U.S, U.K or Australia for the price of bread and milk, they wouldn’t know the answer.

Beyond Oblivion

Matt Heafy sure knows how to write a catchy chorus.

(What have we done?) Creations devised
(What have we done?) To put an end to all life?

Have you seen the AI demonstration that Elon Musk put out on his twitter account. It’s scary. Very scary.

A dead road, a dark sun
Now waits beyond oblivion

Maybe in our quest to conquer nature and get other people to work for us, we create tools that will end up destroying us.

Other Worlds

Cause we’re living in other worlds
Breathing in other worlds

Let me see how many worlds I live in. My home world, my work world, my sporting world, my music world, my social world, my parents world and to be honest I can keep on going forever.

The problem in relationships is when one person spends their time living in a world more than the other person. For example, one person is spending their time living in their home world, while another person is spending their time living in their social world. Suddenly we have a disconnect and a problem.

The Revanchist

Hell I didn’t even know what “Revanchist” meant. Google dictionary tells me it’s “an advocate or supporter of a political policy of revanche, especially in order to seek vengeance for a previous military defeat.” Hell, World War II is a perfect example. The song is a perfect example of storytelling.

I’ve been waiting here on the outside
I’ve been watching you from afar

It sounds like the revanchist is vetting supporters.

You say you’ve lost your world, you say you’ve lost your faith
I’ll be the shelter in the dark, clothe you in my hate

Indoctrination.

Profiteers and preachers
Sycophants and leachers

It doesn’t matter from what social circle you come from. The Revanchist will accept and indoctrinate all.

The Revanchist, his thoughts become mine
How deep they become intertwined
He said, “Submit for salvation, submit for salvation”
The age old lie

The followers are ready to submit themselves to the war of the revanchist. It’s their salvation.

Thunder High On The Mountain – Joe Satriani

It’s one of Satriani’s stronger songs released recently. Just the way it starts it off, with the war like click drum, the orchestra hits and a finger tapped legato line, is brilliant. I’m hooked and I’m paying attention. And the movements between section works.

New World – Robert Plant

This song surprised me when I heard it. The mood, the groove and the vocal melody all work together.

In songs we praise a happy landing
On yet another virgin shore
Escape the booming world
Embrace the new world
Out here the immigrant takes hold
Across the planes and over mountains
Put flight to all who came before
They’re barely human
It’s time to move them
And let them kneel before the sword

Human’s quest for land and power led to cultures being eradicated or enslaved.

Find Your Way Home – King King
Broken – King King

There is a lot of good music out there and artists like “King King” are virtually unknown in the major music markets. It was their cover of Frankie Miller’s “Jealousy” that made me a fan.

Find Your Way Home

It’s a cool bluesy ballad.

How did it work out they we’d be enemies?
Where did everything go wrong?
When the sun goes down on your memories
Please find your way home

He’s basically saying, those memories with emotions attached are killing the relationship. When the sun goes down on them and basically kills em off, come home. He’ll be waiting there for you.

Broken

This world is broken
We can’t hold on
My hope is fading
Our faith is almost gone

We need something to change. The world and our governments of the free world have been hijacked by money.

This Is War – Audrey Horne

My favourite supergroup of extreme metallers (along with “The Night Flight Orchestra”) is back with a new album that brings back memories of the Seventies and Eighties. Once the harmony guitars that sound like “Fear Of The Dark” from Maiden kick in, I’m ready to throw my computer screen at the window.

It’s brilliant.

We will never be silence or divided
This is war

My 2017 call to arms.

Miracle – Story of the Year

I Swear I’m OK – Story of the Year

This band is a favourite of mine. They can be rock, metal and pop all on one album. Their label stuffed em up, by labelling them that whole emo rock/hard-core tag.

I need this more than you know
I need a miracle
Tell me I’m not alone
Please don’t let me go

You are in the situation where change is needed. Your old self needs to be washed off and a new being needs to rise. But you need to make hard choices. Are you read for what will come after? Are you read to let go of what you know?

I’m not the man I promised I would be

It’s from “I Swear I’m OK”. I never make promises as they always lead to disappointment. I can try to commit to do things differently but promises can never be measured.

Nevermore (Acoustic) – Art of Dying

For some reason, when “Art Of Dying” goes acoustic, they rock harder.

Waking Lions – Pop Evil

Waking the lions in me
I’m waking the lions in me

We all have that grit and resilience inside of us. If we choose to do something with it, is a different story all together.

And that my friends brings 2017 to close.

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

RD Friday

There is a saying “Just because you can make it, doesn’t mean anybody cares”. And with music these days, there are so many artists creating, how do they make people care. If the goal of the artist is world-domination, maybe they need to re-assess their goals. All artists have to operate in their niche and maybe they will cross over to the mainstream. And even then, once you crossover don’t expect everybody to know. 

Release Friday is upon us and my Spotify playlist is up and cranking.

Sweet And Lynch – Unified

Another song appeared on my Release Friday playlist today, so I figured I would check to see if the album is out. I clicked here, clicked there and 11 new tracks appeared. Brilliant, because back in the day, I would need to leg it, train it and leg it again only to find out the record store didn’t have it in sold out of it.

The first album caught me by surprise how good it was. It was creative, nostalgic and modern sounding. The second one on its own is a good album but compared to the first album, it’s not as good. But that’s okay, because there’s still good tunes to unpack.

“Promised Land” is the opening track and the first single in the lead up to the album release. This song deserves more attention, but it’s hard to break through the noise. Each new track is competing against all the hit records plus everything in between.

“Take my hand, the promised land”.

“Unified” has this cool Lynch jam like groove that appears a lot in his work post Dokken.

“Defiant we stand, united we will fall”

“Bridge Of Broken Lies” has a cool lyrical theme about strangers hiding behind the faces of trusted people. It’s a ballad, that rocks hard.

“I never guessed you would be someone I’ve never known”

“Better Man” is a clichéd title. Pearl Jam probably has the definitive take, but Art of Anarchy’s version is not that far behind, especially when Scott Stapp sings, “it’s time to come home”. This one is more like a love song.

The first thing that hooks me is the riff. It’s classic Lynch with a lot less distortion.

“When I’m not with you baby, I want to be a better man”

Babylon A.D – Revelation Highway

Their self-titled major label debut I have on LP and man it got a lot of spins. It was a perfect blend of hard rock and melodic rock. I even own it on CD. “Nothing Sacred” is also a favourite, and I have that on CD. And that blend of hard rock and melodic rock heard on the first two albums is evident on “Revelation Highway”. Also, because I’ve been cranking “Whitesnake 87” and “Diary Of A Madman”, I’m hearing influences from both albums on this one.

“Rags To Riches” is one of the singles released in the lead up and it hooked me in with its “Atomic Playboys” style riff. Musically its excellent and that solo break with that riff underpinning it, is just brilliant.

“Rags to riches, young girl got her wishes”

With the whole #METOO movement and people speaking up, maybe the young girl didn’t get what she really wished for. It’s a relevant lyric line regardless in what context you read it.

“One Million Miles” is a pretty cool mid-tempo melodic rock track. “She Likes To Give It” is also cool and basically a clone of “One Million Miles”. Nothing wrong with that at all.

“Floating on a Jetstream with the cool wind in my face, sinking in the green grass in the calm of your embrace”

“Last Time For Love” sounds like the best Def Leppard song that Def Leppard hasn’t written. It immediately transports me back to 1987.

“Last time for love, I won’t be hanging around your door”

And the lead break with the underpinning riff just works a treat. I press repeat just to hear it again.

“Saturday Night” reminds me of those “Saturday Nights” from a time long ago.

“On a Saturday night, we will rock to the morning light”

Shakra – Snakes & Ladders

They are from Switzerland. When I Googled them, I was surprised to read that they’ve been around since the mid 90’s and their first album dropped in 1998. It’s been a long time, but they are playing the game to succeed and picking up fans day by day.

“Cassandra’s Curse” is a terrible song title, but the song is awesome. The music is foot stomping and the melodies are perfect.

“Snakes & Ladders” has one of the most simplest but truthful lyrical lines.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you fall, snakes and ladders”.

“Rollin’” is one of those bluesy hard rock style songs which you can listen too driving your car.

“I Will Rise Again” is the bomb. It’s tempo and foot stomping / back breaking drum beat work brilliantly.

“Open Water” is a ballad but not a clichéd. Lyrically it’s got that Euro Purple/Whitesnake vibe like “Sailing Ships” meets “Lost Without You” from Three Doors Down.

Artists don’t operate in the old world anymore. 

MTV might have made artists global superstars, instantly, but they fell back to earth just as fast as they got outside the atmosphere. Now streaming rules and anybody can play, but only a limited number of artists get attention. Today, these three artists had my attention. Tomorrow it will be someone else. They might come back at another time and get my attention. Maybe they won’t.

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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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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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