A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Unexpected Slow Metal Hit

We live in a world that is all about the NOW. Music quickly comes and it quickly goes. Look at all the Top 10 Lists or the Charts for each week and you will see that it is a different list each week. There is just so much new music coming out at the moment and people are just churning it up.

For example, I didn’t get a chance to get into the new Trivium album because a week later, I had the new Protest The Hero album and that has taken all of my attention.

However, there are always songs that sit on the outside. Songs that the artist or the band didn’t believe could be a “hit” (I use that term lightly) or a song that should be used as a promotion tool.

But they didn’t count on the fan choices. The fan that today has the power. The fan that could pick and choose what track they could listen too.

Killswitch Engage released “As Daylight Dies” in 2006 and it is there cover of “Holy Diver” that proved to be the sleeper hit. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. it has 6,136,523 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see it has 9,013,222 views.

Alter Bridge released “One Day Remains” in 2004. “Open Your Eyes”, “Find the Real” and “Broken Wings” followed as promotional singles. However it was the metal heavy “Metalingus” and the moving ballad “In Loving Memory” that the fans selected as the hits. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. “Metalingus” has 3,362,193 streams and “In Loving Memory” has 2,690,909 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see that “Metalingus” has over 5,500,000 views from all the combined channels and “In Loving Memory” has over 6,000,000 combined views.

In 2011 Trivium got blasted for the “In Waves” album, however the title track is their biggest so far. On Spotify “In Waves” the song has 3,038,061 streams. On YouTube, the Official Video on the Roadrunner Records channel has 3,423,215 views and a live version of the song on the Trivium Official channel has 2,767,455 views.

Volbeat broke through in the U.S on the back of “Still Counting”. The song was released in 2008 on the “Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood” album and on 21 July 2012 “Still Counting” was the number-one song on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks US chart. Go on Spotify and it has been streamed 19,779,202 times. Go on YouTube and count the views from all the various channels. They add up.

Bullet For My Valentine led the promotional campaign for their “Temper Temper” album with the song “Riot”, however the fans didn’t care about that song as much as they cared about “Breaking Point” and “Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)”.

As much as Dream Theater is trying to promote the current version of the band, they can’t escape their past. The Spotify Top 10 of Dream Theater has the 9 songs from the new self titled album (that proved to be a dud), plus “On The Backs Of Angels” from the previous album. However if you go on YouTube the fans don’t care about the new album currently. “Wither”, “Pull Me Under” and “Another Day” still get the attention.

This is very different to Avenged Sevenfold, who have people very interested in their new album. In addition, all the other media outlets and bands that are talking about the album, all they are doing is adding to the legend of it. Hail To The King I say. “Shepherd Of Fire” is doing the rounds on my iPod.

Protest The Hero have led the promotional campaign of their new album “Volition” with “Clarity”, “Drumhead Trail” and “Underbite” however, it is “Mist” and “Skies” that is getting the conversation.

The market place today isn’t about the hit song now. It is about new songs vs old songs. Metal and rock songs are always late bloomers. There is no formula as to why certain songs resonate more than others with fans.

I like the story about how Dave Mustaine assisted Stryper in selecting their lead off single from the “No More Hell To Pay” album. They had a different song choice for the lead single and changed their minds after they had a chat with the Megadeth front man. Dave told them that his favourite track is “Sympathy”. This made Michael Sweet change his mind for the lead off single. That track is listed as Number 11 on the album and to be honest it is a kick arse song.

Sure, back in the day when the record labels ruled, they would employ a scorched earth policy to market a band and the lead off single and naturally we would bite as we had the time to invest and there was nothing really else out there.

YouTube and Spotify play a big part today in transforming a song into a phenomenon. Television also plays it’s part. Look at all the hit shows and they all have a section where a certain song plays and it conveys the emotion of the scene that no other music can.

Sons Of Anarchy comes to mind here, especially at the end of Season 2, when the song “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” from Straylight Run played in the epic last 5 minutes of the final episode.

Look at what Breaking Bad did for “Baby Blue” by Badfinger.

My wife was a fan of Grey’s Anatomy and because of that show she got into Snow Patrol (“Chasing Cars”) and The Fray (“How to Save a Life”).

In the end all artists need to do is create great music. The fans will latch onto it eventually.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Bullet For My Valentine

I have been cranking Bullet For My Valentine lately. I started off with the new “Temper Temper” album released this year. “The Poison” album was next. I then went back to the “Hand of Blood” EP. Then “Scream Aim Fire” and “Fever”. On top of all that I have also seen the band perform live.

The music that BFMV creates is very reminiscent to the hard rock / heavy metal music created between 1981 and 1986, before Bon Jovi released Slippery When Wet and then the majority of bands started chasing the pop metal / pop rock “pot of gold”. It is the same music that I grew up on.

Metallica – CHECK
Iron Maiden – CHECK
AC/DC – CHECK
Slayer – CHECK
Megadeth – CHECK
Judas Priest – CHECK

Modern influences like Machine Head, Pantera and Metallica “Black” album period are also found in the songs. That is why I probably connected with the band.

As I have mentioned previously, all artists are a sum of their influences. No one creates art in a vacuum, waiting for that spark of super originality to come. Sometimes, a band takes all of these influences and creates something original, however in most cases, bands fall into an evolutionary category.

Bullet For My Valentine as a band have an unbelievable chemistry. The drumming is sensational. Just listen to how the drums build the intro in “Waking The Demon”. The guitar leads are very Randy Rhoads like, the riffs are melodic and the bass playing is solid.

“The Last Fight” is a classic example of the band nailing it. Listen to the rock version and then listen to the acoustic version, with the piano and violin. Dealing with addictions is difficult and this song captures it. The lead break in the rock version is classical heaven to start off with and then harmonised in the vein of Iron Maiden.

“Breaking Point” from the new album is a dead set classic opener. I don’t know why they went with “Riot” and “Temper, Temper” as the lead off tracks to promote the album. It should have been “Breaking Point” all the way.

Who can forget the punch and groove of “Your Betrayal”? Another perfect song to get the body moving into high gear.

Then you have the speed metal style of Slayer and Machine Head in “Scream, Aim, Fire” and “Waking The Demon”?

The Iron Maiden influence is heard in “Alone” while the Judas Priest influence is heard in “Eye Of The Storm”.

Add to that the slower songs like “Hearts Burst Into Fire” and you have a band that is varied and influenced by a lot of great styles.

This band still hasn’t written their “Blackening” or “Dr Feelgood” or “Back In Black” or “Black” album. They are working towards it. Great albums come from experience. Great songs come from having lived. The band (provided that they stay together) is on its way to achieving this.

They have hooked in Terry Date for the upcoming album, so it is a step in the right direction for album number 5. Matt Tuck even mentioned that the music is no holds barred metal, unlike the previous two releases.

I didn’t think I liked BFMV to start off with. Then I heard their cover of “Sanitarium” from a Kerrang tribute album to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of “Master of Puppets” from Metallica. That tribute album was also my first introduction to Trivium and their unbelievable cover of “Master Of Puppets”.

The modern paradigm of success is to create great music and reap the benefits later. “The Poison” came out in 2005 and by 2009, it had a GOLD certification in the U.S. market.

So I purchased “Scream, Aim, Fire” when it came out without hearing a song and I suddenly realised that I liked the band.

Just like Pantera had to emerge from the shadows of the inferior hard rock / power metal scene in the late Eighties, Bullet For My Valentine had to do the same. The metalcore movement has committed the same sin as hard rock and glam rock committed. Too many derivative bands are doing the rounds and there is no substance. With the release of “Scream, Aim, Fire”, BFMV showed that they are a metal band in the true sense. With “Fever” and “Temper, Temper”, they have showed that they can rock with the best of them.

The Bullet For My Valentine VEVO account shows that “Tears Don’t Fall” has been viewed 55,738,093 times.

“Your Betrayal” has been viewed 17,391,181 times.

“Waking The Demon” has been viewed 23,947,044 times.

“Hearts Burst Into Fire” has been viewed 13,500,316 times.

“The Last Fight” has been viewed 3,232,789 times.

“Temper Temper” has been viewed 2,254,641 times.

“Breaking Point” has just been released and it has been viewed 686,885 times.

“Hand Of Blood” has been viewed 12,069,227 times.

The above figures are from the official BFMV account. Those same songs have been circulated on other user accounts with high view counts as well.

Spotify has the following top 10 songs for BFMV. For some insane reason, the “Scream Aim Fire” album is not on Spotify.

“Tears Don’t Fall” is at 18,297,766 streams.

“All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)” is at 9,878,085 streams.

“Your Betrayal” is at 8,335,370 streams.

“The Last Fight” is at 5,337,727 streams.

“Fever” is at 3,696,842 streams.

“Bittersweet Memories” is at 2,673,920 streams.

“Temper, Temper” is at 1,187,795 streams.

“Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)” is at 1,030,904 streams.

“Breaking Point” is at 884,423 streams.

“P.O.W.” is at 670,708 streams.

I am sure that if the songs from “Scream Aim Fire” could be streamed, the above list would be a touch different.

So what is this saying about the band.

They have a reach that a lot of other bands do not have in metal. Kirk Hammett said that there isn’t any new bands coming out on the scene because of the internet and social media. Tell that to BFMV and their fans. Michael Poulsen said that bands can’t live off record sales alone. He is right, they can’t, however a band can live off record sales, iTunes downloads, streaming fees, YouTube views, licensing, merchandise and live revenue. You just got to be prepared to put in the hard work.

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

2013 Metal and Rock Releases. Are they Derivative, Evolutionary, Original or Clones?

Artists need to think about their music as a product. In the end we (the fans) are all suckers for good products. Give us a good product and we will reciprocate.

So I am listening to the new Protest The Hero album, “Volition”. What a product it is! For the record, I was one of those fans that contributed to the Indiegogo campaign so you can say that my views are biased.

And what about this for a piece of PR? As soon as they were made aware of a few leaks hitting the internet in bad quality, Protest The Hero hastily arranged a download site for their Indiegogo contributors, sent an email to everyone about it with instructions on how to get their unique download pin and away we went, downloading the album.

The best way to fight piracy is to communicate with your fan base. They are your only concern. In relation to people downloading the album some will come to a show and some will download it and hate it.

So what was my immediate thought on the new album?

Original and evolutionary. This is Protest The Hero continuing on from what they have created in the past by adding a few more bells and whistles. The decision to go the fan funded route was just the beginning. During the recording process they lost a drummer and got an even better drummer in Chris Adler. They then got some friends to build some IT support to store all the data of the fans that contributed via Indiegogo.

So to sum up, Protest The Hero were able to record, mix, master and produce an album without having any record label support and without the need of a record label advance that they would have had to pay back AND they are still able to use the record labels to distribute the standard release worldwide.

Going back to the drumming, what a brilliant job from Chris Adler? It’s inspiring in the sense of “I Want To Break Stuff” inspiring. It just feels very metal like.

While Dream Theater and Korn get a lot of ink in the press, it is bands like Protest The Hero, Machine Head and Digital Summer that are stealing the thunder by reaching out to their fans, connecting and doing it the new way. They are cutting out everyone that gets in the way of them and their fans. It is a band to fan connection. It is a fan to band connection.

On a side note, when I listen to new music from bands, I normally place the music in the following categories;

1. Progress is derivative (to others this is the stolen or copied bucket).

2. Evolutionary (this is bands building on their past a little bit each time. It is the iterative approach)

3. Original (this is something that is so divergent or out there that it hasn’t been done before)

4. Maintenance (this is where the band delivers the same album over and over again)

So looking at my top 20 list of music so far from 2013, in which categories do they fall in.

Progress Is Derivative
Avenged Sevenfold with the “Hail To The King” album.

“Lift Me Up” from Five Finger Death Punch and “Kingmaker” from Megadeth also fit into this category.

Evolutionary

This list has quite a few releases in it.

Protest The Hero leads the way with “Volition”. It builds on all of their previous efforts.

“Vengeance Falls” from Trivium is also an evolutionary album, building on the shorter song structure from “In Waves” with better melodies and technical precise riffage.

The concept album from Black Veil Brides falls into the evolutionary bucket for me. While the overall musical themes of the album are still rooted in the previous releases, there was enough growth to show a band evolving.

Mutiny Within hit the evolutionary path with the release of “Synchronicity” which shows the band moving further away from the metalcore stigma that Roadrunner put on them.

30 Seconds To Mars went all world music on “Love Lust Faith Dreams” which is again an evolution of “This Is War.” My wife loves this album.

Audrey Horne released “Youngblood” which is a further evolution from their previous album, moving more into a blues rock/metal vibe.

The next two albums are debut albums and the reason why I saw them as evolutionary is that the evolve from the sounds of Korn and Genesis/Pink Floyd.

Brian Welch’s solo project, Love and Death released the excellent “Between Here and The Lost” which is an evolution of what Korn was doing prior to Head’s departure. If i had to pick between Korn’s new one and Love and Death, my vote goes to Love and Death.

Sound Of Contact released a sci-fi concept album with “Dimensionaut” that captures the eerie spirit of sci-fi soundtracks merged with Pink Floyd/Genesis and Marillion prog.

Original

I see Volbeat as an original band.

With “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” they merge country with their metal/rockabilly style. This album could have fitted in the evolutionary bucket as well, however in my opinion there is another of a blend of different music styles to class it as another original release.

I just finished reading a post on the Classic Rock Magazine website with Michael Poulsen, the lead singer from Volbeat. In that interview, he states that artists cant make any more money from record sales and that selling records doesn’t put food on the table anymore.

This is strange coming from a band that shifted 300,000 units in the U.S with their previous album. So if you do the math 300,000 at $10 a CD comes to $3MIL gross earnings on the CD. The current album is sitting at about 130,000 units in the U.S so far. So if Volbeat are not getting any money from the sales of recorded music, they should be speaking to their label about re-negotiating their deal.

TesseracT’s “Altered State” to me is a great piece of work. It isn’t just a bunch of songs put together and called an album. This is an album that needs to be listened from start to finish, with high quality headphones. There is so much happening that each listen is a new experience. It’s original to me.

Maintenance

All of these releases are good releases showcasing what the band does best. In a lot of cases, bands produce their greatest album by doing this and in some cases bands produce a few forgettable albums as well.

Coheed and Cambria – “The Afterman –  Descension”

Dream Theater – “Dream Theater”

Bullet For My Valentine – “Temper Temper”

Stone Sour – “House Of Gold And Bones Part 2”

Alter Bridge – “Fortress”

Killswitch Engage – “Disarm The Descent”

Five Finger Death Punch – “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1”

Pretty Maids – “Motherland”

Buckcherry – “Confessions”

An artist and their music can move up or down in these categories throughout their careers.

The lessons here are that bands don’t have to be ground breaking original to be successful. They just need a well thought out approach that is executed well.

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Music

Bullet For My Valentine – The Hi Fi – Sydney 27 February 2013

Basically if any member leaves Bullet For My Valentine I will no longer be interested.

Stories abound that the band had issues with each other during the tour of the Fever album and that they where close to breaking up.  Lets hope that they realise that they are a sum of their parts.  Does anyone remember Axewound?

The guitarist Michael Paget is a shredder in the classic Randy Rhoads sense, he was spot on all night, and a pleasure to watch.  The drummer Michael Thomas was a machine.  The whole night he was nailing his parts effortlessly.  Singer / Guitarist Matt Tuck was also in the pocket with his vocals and riffage.  

But the star of the show was the bass player Jason James.  He was the crowd instructor.  He got everyone jumping, he got the mosh pit going crazy, he got all the fists in the air going, plus he killed it in delivering high quality backing vocals and taking the lead on the screamo parts. 

If there was an issue with the show it was the small venue vs the high volumes clash and no Your Betrayel.  Ohh the betrayel…

Their latest album Temper Temper has moved 56,900 units in two weeks in the US and a quick look at The Pirate Bay shows at least 1500 seeders for this album with about 100 leechers.

This is the new world.  When the labels used to control the distribution, albums used to do a two year run via scheduled release windows.  These days with the internet, the album run is over within two to four weeks.

I still don’t know why bands spend three months or more in a studio recording a full album for it to disappear within a month.

Don’t get me wrong, good albums will stay the course like American Capitalist from Five Finger Death Punch has sold 500,000 plus units in the US and it was released in 2011.

Danish band Volbeat’s Beyond Hell/Above Heaven has just cracked the 200,00 mark in US sales, three years after it was released.  This one has been a slow riser, without all the mainstream marketing.  The fans have been spreading the word.  The fans are in control now.  The labels hate it, but if the bands are switched on, they can monetise this to the max.  Anyway i digress.  Back to the live show.

1000 plus people crammed into THE HI FI venue at Sydney’s Moore Park.  They where treated to a good show.  For $63 a ticket it was worth it.  I have no interest in Miss May I and The Cancer Bats.  They opened with Breaking Point and all i can say is they had the audience singing the song with them.  That is one thing that caught my attention, especially on the new album, the songs written are designed so that they work with the show.  All the songs worked and the energy levels where always up.  Highlights for me where Breaking Point, Pleasure and Pain, The Last Fight with it’s ballad like intro,  Scream Aim Fire, Waking the Demon and Alone.  This was a gig for the hardcore fans and BFMV didn’t disappoint.

 

 

 

 

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