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

Score Card Inc

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

Three years later, how are the artists fairing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metallica
Back in 2013, I wrote;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet and Lynch
Another album would be sweet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Own Top 40 List Based On iTunes Play Metrics

I made the upgrade from the iPhone 5 to the 6 and when I synced up the old phone to iTunes to back it up, I saw the top 30 songs that did the rounds over the last 12 months.

1. Lift Me Up
Five Finger Death Punch
The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 1
Released: 2013
Plays: 1481

What can I say, “The Ultimate Sin” influence just connected with me and I kept on coming back to the song over and over again.

2.Shepherd Of Fire
Avenged Sevenfold
Hail To The King
Released: 2013
Plays: 1319

Any song that can combine “Enter Sandman” and “Trust” from Metallica and Megadeth deserves attention.

3. West Ruth Ave
The Night Flight Orchestra
Internal Affairs
Released: 2012
Plays: 1271

What can I say, the Kiss “I Was Made For Lovin You” vibe connects and that Chorus melody is infectious.

4. A Day in My Life
Five Finger Death Punch
The Wrong Side of Heaven & the Righteous Side Of Hell, Vol. 2
Released: 2013
Plays: 1071

Five Finger Death Punch have two entries in my top 5. This one is a classic from Volume 2. The chorus is indelible.

5. Angel Of Mercy
Black Label Society
Catacombs Of The Black Vatican
Released: 2014
Plays: 1124

The monster that is Zakk Wylde returns with a classic. The song opens up for Zakk’s masterclass in soloing.

6. Be Somebody
Thousand Foot Krutch
The End Is Where We Begin
Released: 2012
Plays: 996

The song just flows that it sounds effortless. Brilliant.

7. Used To Be
Arrows To Athens
Kings And Thieves
Released: 2011
Plays: 743

Very surprised by the album when I came across it this year.

8. Mist
Protest The Hero
Volition
Released: 2013
Plays: 660

I thought this song would have been higher as i certainly feel like I have played it a 1000 times. Guess I’ll be a Newfoundlander.

9. Conquistador
Thirty Seconds to Mars
Love Lust Faith + Dreams
Released: 2013
Plays: 557

The riff owes a lot to Marilyn Manson’s “Fight Song” and when Jared Leto/backing vocals sing, “we will, we will, we will rise again” you can just imagine Freddie Mercury singing “we will, we will rock you”.

10. Heritage
The Kindred
Life In Lucidity
Released: 2014
Plays: 419

Love the band formerly known as “Today I Caught The Plague”. The message in this song sums up exactly how I feel about culture, we build on what came before.

11. Fly On The Wall
Thousand Foot Krutch
The End Is Where We Begin
Released: 2012
Plays: 403

Another song that just flows effortless from the fan funded “The End Is Where We Begin” album.

12. Fallen
Volbeat
Beyond Hell Above Heaven
Released: 2010
Plays: 387

Our Danish heroes deliver a rockabilly metal classic.

13. Draw The Line
Disciple
O’ God Save Us All
Released: 2012
Plays: 322

The lyrical content connects and the song is a great pop ditty from a band that borders on metal, rock and Christian gospel.

14. Tuesday’s Rain
Asphalt Ballet
Asphalt Ballet
Released: 1991
Plays: 223

A brilliant song that got lost in the seismic shift of 1991/92. You were either in or you were out. Asphalt Ballet was deemed to be out.

15. Strife
Trivium
Vengeance Falls
Released: 2013
Plays: 222

With a Judas Priest sing along intro, Trivium deliver with “Strife”. Go on Spotify and you will see that it is getting some serious traction.

16. Denial Waits
Ashes Divide
Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright
Released: 2008
Plays: 215

This song is unique and in a league of its own for production, craftsmanship and melodies. A classic that deserves more attention.

17. High Wire
Badlands
Badlands
Released: 1989
Plays: 210

If Jake E.Lee wants Red Dragon Cartel to reach a certain level of success and be ubiquitous than HE needs to write songs that are better than “High Wire”.

18. Hail To The King
Avenged Sevenfold
Hail To The King
Released: 2013
Plays: 209

What can I say, who doesn’t like a song that reminds them of AC/DC and “Thunderstruck”.

19. American Slang
The Gaslight Anthem
American Slang
Released: 2010
Plays: 200

The song that Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi wish they wrote.

20. Lick It Up
Kiss
Lick It Up
Released: 1983
Plays: 197

The song that saved Kiss’s career.

21. Rainbow in the Dark
Dio
Holy Diver
Released: 1983
Plays: 195

The Corey Taylor version from the Dio tribute album appears further down the list. An infectious song just tattoo’s itself on the skin and remains forever.

22. The Last Time
Badlands
Voodoo Highway
Released: 1991
Plays: 194

If Jake E.Lee wants Red Dragon Cartel to reach a certain level of success and be ubiquitous then HE needs to write songs that are better than “High Wire” and “The Last Time”.

23. Moth
Hellyeah
Blood For Blood
Released: 2014
Plays: 177

Clearly the best song on the new album.

24. Live In Love
Times Of Grace
The Hymn Of A Broken Man
Released: 2011
Plays: 167

This should be added to the set list of Killswitch Engage, it is that good.

25. Until It’s Gone
Linkin Park
The Hunting Party
Released: 2014
Plays: 167

It’s a return to the Linkin Park trademark sound.

26. Attack
Thirty Seconds to Mars
A Beautiful Lie
Released: 2005
Plays: 147

The song that got me into the band. A pure masterclass in electronics, industrial and fuzzed out rock.

27. End Of My Rope
Asphalt Ballet
Asphalt Ballet
Released: 1991
Plays: 139

From a band that deserved way more than what they got.

28. Hell Or Hallelujah
Kiss
Monster
Released: 2012
Plays: 135

The best song that Kiss or Paul Stanley has written since “Psycho Circus”. Mmm, “Live To Win” was also pretty good, however that was from Paul’s solo album of the same name.

29. Wolvish
The Kindred
Life In Lucidity
Released: 2014
Plays: 122

Progressive music the way it should be.

30. Watch You Bleed
Five Finger Death Punch
The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 1
Released: 2013
Plays: 121

Another chorus melody that is ubiquitous.

Other songs outside the Top 30 are as follows:

31. Rebellion
Linkin Park
The Hunting Party
Released: 2013
Plays: 103

It was like System Of A Down never went away. Having Daron Malakian on it doesn’t hurt at all.

32. Orestes
A Perfect Circle
Mer de Noms
Released: 2000
Plays: 103

This song was pivotal as my development as a songwriter. Much in the same way that Evergrey showed me that good music is still being created from a metal point of view, A Perfect Circle showed me the same from a progressive art rock point of view.

33. Wrong Side Of Heaven
Five Finger Death Punch
The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 1
Released: 2013
Plays: 93

The emotion grabs me. One of the best ballads that FFDP have created.

34. It’s Time
Imagine Dragons
Night Visions
Released: 2012
Plays: 84

The main vocal melody is the same as a melody for an instrumental song I wrote for my wedding. So it connected from the outset.

35. Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute
Coheed and Cambria
The Afterman: Ascension
Released: 2012
Plays: 83

What can I say, when the “Wasted Years” like intro starts off, I was hooked.

36. Line Of Fire
Vandenberg’s Moonkings
Vandenberg’s Moonkings
Released: 2014
Plays: 79

The mighty Dutchman is back and he sure knows how to turn it up to eleven.

37. Out Of Reach
Vandenberg’s Moonkings
Vandenberg’s Moonkings
Released: 2014
Plays: 73

An emotional roller coaster that straps you in and doesn’t let you go.

38. Rainbow In The Dark
Corey Taylor
Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life
Released: 2014
Plays: 73

Corey does a stellar job on the vocal.

39. When Truth Lies
Vanishing Point
Distant Is The Sun
Released: 2014
Plays: 69

One of the most consistent and best progressive metal bands to come out of Australia.

40. Coming Home
Avenged Sevenfold
Hail To The King
Released: 2013
Plays: 63

Synester Gates goes to town on this song. That whole minute plus lead break is beautiful.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

The Best Metal and Rock Top 10 for 2013

Well the year is almost over and it is time to look back at the albums that connected and hit the mark for 2013. Anyone who has been a constant visitor to this blog will notice that I have spoken about these albums in previous posts in more detail.

1. Protest The Hero – Volition

Disclaimer; I was one of those fans that contributed to this album, so the competition for the best album of 2013 wasn’t even close. Protest The Hero wins hands down. They delivered an album for the fans. It has everything that a condensed progressive technical metal album should have. Plus it has Chris Adler on drums. In 2011, “Scurrilous” was number seven on my list.

If you want the detailed breakdown, here it is;

This album also shows how the mainstream media is out of touch. Despite all the hype around Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, Korn and Black Sabbath, the biggest release of the year belongs to Protest The Hero.

And deservedly so.

They connected with their audience via Indiegogo. They have cut through all the internet noise without the need of major label. In the age of information overload, Protest The Hero relied on their audience and their music to get their message through.

2. Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King

Call this album what you will, however no one can take away the fact that it is a damn good listen. Having those nods to the past and building on those influences is what music is all about. In twenty years time, this album will be revered and copied, because that is how music is made.

3. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1

Part 1 is a killer classic metal album with arena melodic rock chorus. Watch You Bleed, Lift Me Up, The Wrong Side Of Heaven, Anywhere But Here are all rock sing a longs.

4. Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

Jesse Leach is back and man can he write a catchy chorus. Each song goes through so many vocal emotions, it’s one heck of a roller coaster. The Times Of Grace project brought Jesse back into the metal world. “The Hymn Of A Broken Man” was one great album and it was in my top 10 list for that year.

In 2009, I also had the self titled Killswitch Engage album at number five in my top 10 list.

5. TesserAcT – Altered State

This band is really branching out from the Djent constraints by embracing atmospheric style song writing. The math metal is still there and the vocals bring it all home. I have always said, TesseracT will be seen as the new Pink Floyd by a whole new generation. In 2011, TesseracT came in ninth position with the album “One”. I was pleasently surprised to see this one pop in Robb Flynn’s top 10 list.

6. Trivium – Vengeance Falls

Trivium have always had the balls to make decisions. Working with Dave Draiman is one of them. Seriously i cant see an issue with how the vocal melodies are phrased or delivered by Heafy. I really like this album. The music is top-notch and the songs are of high quality. In 2011, Trivium came in tenth position with the album “In Waves”.

7. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman – Descension

Another band that is employing data to connect with fans. They have been on the road since January and released two slabs of music within 3 months. This album doesn’t have Domino The Destitute, but it has Sentry The Defiant plus others.

8. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 2

A Day In My Life. Man that chorus just hooks me in. Put to the side the cliché rhyming from Moody and just focus on the musical melodies and you will be hooked as well. It’s been played on repeat on my iPhone on my way to work and on my way home.

“American Capitalist” was fifth in my 2011 list and “War Is The Answer” was 2nd in 2009, just behind “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” from Dream Theater.

9. Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies

I was a fan of this band before they broke through in the U.S. It was the “Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil” album from 2007 that made me a fan. I was really looking forward to this release and the band didn’t disappoint. It has all of their trademarks with a dash of country and hillbilly thrown into the mix.

10. Alter Bridge – Fortress

Mark Tremonti is one hell of a guitar player and most importantly a hell of a songwriter. Teaming up with Myles Kennedy has been a godsend. Alter Bridge get better with each album and they rarely fail to disappoint.

Notable Mentions

Audrey Horne – Youngblood

If you don’t know this band, you should. I swear every genre of music and time period associated with music is heard on this album. Give this band the attention they deserve. Their whole catalogue is on Spotify so there is no excuse to not check them out. Any band that is from Norway and with a black metal post deserves to be heard in a hard rock context.

Mutiny Within – Synchronicity

The only thing holding this band back is what their definition of success is and Chris Clancy. He is so hung up on fighting for the old system and how it used to be, he is failing to see opportunities in front of him.

Hearts And Hands – My Own Machine

A great pop metal or pop rock album. Hearts and Hands started off as a side project for Chelsea Grin vocalist Alex Koehler. However since he departed after their 2012 self titled EP, the band has undergone a significant transformation and their sound has shifted away from breakdowns and screams to effected guitars, acoustics and great songs.

Love and Death – Between Here and The Lost

A hundred times better than the new Korn album. They even sound like Korn on some of the songs. Brian Head Welch is a star and this album proves it.

Sound Of Contact – Dimensionaut

Progressive Rock and a voice that sounds very similar to Phil Collins. Plus any album that has a concept attached to it, always gets my attention. Its plot follows an alienated, unnamed human who is tired of humanity and embraces his fate as a traveler of dimensions, time and galaxies. Throughout the story, the dimensionaut constructs his escape from reality, realizing new experiences and encountering love in the process.

Faith Circus – Turn Up The Band

If this band had the same attention as Avenged Sevenfold, critics would come out and comment how each song sounds like a rip off from every successful glam rock and blues rock album made in the Eighties. Music is derivative and Faith Circus deliver. It is a great listen from start to finish. Another band from Norway that deserves your attention.

Final Notable Mentions

Due to my kids overdosing on the music I placed on their iPods certain classic rock albums have come back into my life.

Twisted Sister – You Cant Stop Rock N Roll
Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
Kiss – Lick It Up
Kiss – Asylum
Kiss – Destroyer
Deep Purple – Machine Head
Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet
Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
Europe – The Final Countdown

Standard
A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Question Everything – Inspiration From Killswitch Engage and Jesse Leach

After overdosing on the new Protest the Hero album “Volition” for some reason the last song “Skies” got me thinking about Killswitch Engage. So out come the headphones and on goes the new album “Disarm the Descent.” I haven’t listened to it since about July. Our favourites don’t last long in the times of today. With so much new music coming out, we move on very quickly. As Jesse Leach pointed out recently in an interview with Lithium Magazine, the title is a creative way of saying redemption or rising again.

“You’re in a state of your life where you’re approaching rock bottom and you find a way to pick yourself up again before you hit the floor.”

I came to Killswitch Engage late. I didn’t listen to their first three albums. The only song I heard was “My Last Serenade” back in 2004 and that was via a bass player friend. However at that time, nothing really connected with me and that was it. There was no urge to commit to the band for me.

Fast forward a few years and the “Guitar World” issue arrived in the mailbox. I don’t recall which month; however it was a magazine from 2007. At that time the magazine still came with a DVD of bonus content. One of the bonuses was a lesson from the Killswitch guitarists on how to play “My Curse” and after watching it, I was hooked.

So I asked my bass player friend to burn me all of their albums, which he did. At the time, I had no idea that vocalists changed, which after hearing “Alive or Just Breathing” in 2007, I realised that the tones of the vocalists didn’t match up. So what do we do when we need information? We Google. We click on Wikipedia. In addition, “My Last Serenade” suddenly mattered. The song sucker punched me and I was hooked. The timing was right in 2007, for Killswitch Engage to enter my life on a full time basis.

By the time, their 2009 self-titled album came out; I was purchasing it without even listening to a single note. As a bonus their back catalogue was on special at the time, so I picked them up as well and added the official releases to my collection. That is why I always say that no metrics can ever measure the reach or pull of a band at the time of a release.

Of course, sales data can show what is in demand at a certain point in time; however the reach and the popularity of a certain band or a certain album cannot be properly measured until years later. Remember that history is written by the winners. In music, the winners are the artists or bands that outlast the competition.

Going back to the different singers, since Jesse’s split with the band, he kept busy with other projects, like the stoner-rock outfit “Seemless” and the metalcore/hard-core influenced “The Empire Shall Fall”. During this period, he also appeared with Killswitch Engage, performing the track “My Last Serenade” alongside Howard Jones at the Roadrunner United concert in 2005.

Then in 2011, I was blown away by “Times of Grace”. Everything about that album connected with me on so many different levels. I saw “Times Of Grace” open up for “Machine Head” at the Uni Roundhouse in Sydney in February 2012. Adam Dutkiewicz had his leg in some form of a support cast and he still went ballistic on stage, commenting frequently that “Aussie girls are hot.”

In relation to “Times Of Grace”, I could hear the regret in some of the songs. When Jesse jumped ship from Killswitch he was fighting a pretty serious depression. He had just gotten married and he couldn’t deal with being on the road all the time and away from his new family.

Songs like, “Fall From Grace (my best song on the album)”, “The Forgotten One”, “Hymn Of A Broken Man”, “In The Arms Of Mercy” and “Where The Spirit Leads Me” capture the more personal side of Jesse Leach. I remember reading in an interview in the “Revolver” April/May issue with Jesse mentioning that at the time of leaving Killswitch he was “broken and unconfident”.

So when Killswitch Engage announced that Jesse Leach is the vocalist again, I was more than pleased. His redemption was complete. When Jesse left Killswitch Engage the album he worked on “Alive Or Just Breathing” was just another album in a burgeoning metalcore scene that helped to kick start the New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement.

Today, “Alive or Just Breathing” is seen as a classic. I always state that music is all about creating great music now so that it is recognised later for its greatness. As an artist grows their body of work takes on a new life of its own. It takes a while for something to be assimilated. Artists or bands have to hang in there long enough until they get their turn, getting better while they wait and releasing quality music.

“In Due Time” was the lead-off single.

“All that we suffer through leads to determination
The trials we all go through gives us the strength to carry on 

Something within us burns, desire feeds the will to live
A reason to believe I will see redemption”

As the chorus lyrics go, in due time, the shadows will gave way to the light. You just need to be patient and resilient. The words could even reference Jesse’s redemption to Killswitch and the knowledge that he had to go through all these trials so that he could come back a better person.

“A Tribute To The Fallen” has that hook that resonates. In my view this song should have led the album.

“With a new dawn we rise in renewed strength
Knowing we’ve just begun to fight this war within”

Think about all the crap that is going on in our democratic nations. Governments are spying on their own people. The Corporations and their lobby groups drive legislation. Government granted monopolies like the copyright industry are doing their best to kill innovation and when that fails, insert the corporations and their lobby groups. Transparency is promised however it doesn’t exist. Every communication is suddenly classified. Enables of pirated goods get more jail time than actual criminal offenders.

“New Awakening” has the legend behind it about how Jesse blew his voice while he was recording it in the studio. After the Doctor told him about the strain on the vocal chords, Jesse saw it as a badge of honour.

“There is more to life than this
We are more than just this flesh
We are alive and our time has come
For a new awakening”

It’s the Killswitch revolution. Killswitch wants you. Where do i sign? I’m all in.

“You Don’t Bleed For Me” connects with me because it more or less sums up our politicians and how even though they are voted in by the people, they do not work for the people. Of course there are the rare ones who do their best to speak for the people but in the end money wins the game.

“Fly your flag of righteousness
When underneath it is deviousness, it is greed and lies
Don’t pretend to know me you martyr of disgrace
With your plastic smile
I don’t believe a word you say
You don’t speak for me
You don’t bleed, you don’t bleed
You don’t bleed for me”

The closer “Time Will Not Remain”.

“None of us should be thought of as anything less than a potential to change the world”

What a lyric and what a statement. That is the reason why Jesse Leach’s return means so much to Killswitch Engage and to metal fans in general. He never stopped being who he was. He was not corrupted by the modern era. He questions social norms and ideals. He questions the crap our politicians and news outlets throw at us. He questions everything. The great vocalists always have something to say.

Standard
Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

Jesse Leach – What Do Ya Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics

I am always asked the question, how can I like a band like Killswitch Engage and then like bands like Kiss, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen at the same time? The answer is easy, I like music. I don’t care how people look, I don’t care what niche they are playing too. If the music is good and the song is good, I am interested. When I tell them that Chuck Schuldiner from Death is a song writing influence I get blank stares, like who is Chuck?

So I have been cranking the new Killswitch Engage album, Disarm the Descent on the headphones recently. I normally hear albums when they come out, and then I put them into four folders, the YEAH folder, the POTENTIAL folder and the SO SO folder. Of course the fourth folder is the TRASH.

The YEAH folder basically has albums or songs where on first listen through, grabbed my attention all the way through. The POTENTIAL folder has albums that have between four to six good songs. The SO SO folder has albums that have 1 to 3 good songs. I normally go back to the YEAH folder and those albums end up on my iPod for constant rotation.

Going back to the story, the Killswitch Engage album ended up in the YEAH folder on first listen through and the new TesserAct album Altered State will join it soon when it comes out officially. If any fans haven’t heard these albums, you can hear them in their entirety on YouTube. The TesserAct album is streamed by their label Century Media. This is interesting, as Century Media once upon a time pulled their whole catalogue from Spotify and other streaming services due to the low fraction of a cent payment per stream. The Century Media catalogue is now back in the streaming game however it looks like they are getting an additional stream income, by streaming albums before their release.

As every Killswitch fan knows, this is Jesse Leach’s comeback into the Killswitch Engage family. In my view, his comeback was set in stone by the excellent Times of Grace project that involved Adam Dutkiewicz and Jesse Leach.

I saw Times of Grace at the University of Sydney Roundhouse in 2012. It was a Machine Head gig, with Times of Grace opening, Shadows Fall on second, Chimaira was on third and then Machine Head. This was a side-show for the bands, as all of them appeared on the Soundwave Music Festival.

The touring band was Adam Dutkiewicz on guitars, Jesse Leach on vocals along with Joel Stoetzel from Killswitch Engage on guitars, Matt Bachand from Shadows Fall on bass (even though he plays guitar with Shadows Fall) and Dan Gluszak from Envy On The Coast on drums.

I am getting side tracked again. This post is about Killswitch Engage. Verdict on the album, I prefer Times of Grace.

How does the new Killswitch stack up against other 2013 metal and rock releases; This release is in my top 10 of releases for the year so far.

It’s brutal, it’s heavy and it makes me want to break stuff. It’s sorrowful, its melodic and it carries a message of power and hope. As expected, it has the usual progressive elements that Killswitch Engage are renowned for. The melodic stuff is done top-notch and Jesse Leach is exactly where he should be. No offence to Howard Jones, he sang on three brilliant Killswitch albums, however to me, it was just a matter of time before Jesse was back in the fold.

One thing is clear, Jesse is a brilliant lyric writer, so here is a selection of brilliant lyrics written by Jesse Leach.

1. Strength In Numbers – from the Times of Grace self titled album.

Our roots must balance our branches

This line speaks a million words to me. Before we branch out in our lives (this can be anything from a personal or professional viewpoint), how strong are our roots. Can our roots balance what we want to do. It’s that old saying, the foundations need to be strong before anything else can be done.

2. Fall From Grace – from the Times of Grace self titled album.

Aspirations bled dry
Eyes that once beamed with hope now only stare in remorse
Even through this pain
I will feel again
Even through these tears
I will love again

It doesn’t matter how bad it is, and how much we suffer. We still have this feeling that things will get better, that we will love again, that we will better people from the experience. It is this hope distortion field that all humans have, regardless if they believe in God or in something else. Even The End of Eternity which is from the same album has a similar theme “We are blind, our future’s crushed and forgotten, Destroyed by guilt, But there is beauty, There is life, hold fast for this could be, the end of eternity.”

Again the same message, from all the destruction of our dreams and hopes, there is still a beauty to be found, and that beauty is life. That is what no one tells you at school. Spending our younger years thinking that we are immortal, and then spending our thirties and forties as slaves to the tax system, trying to find out on what side of the income inequality gap we are on. No wonder I am on blood pressure medications. In Due Time from the new Killswitch Engage album deals with similar themes. “All that we suffer through leads to determination, the trials we all go through gives us the strength to carry on, something within us burns, desire feeds the will to live, a reason to believe I will see redemption.”

All the hardship and suffering we face strengthen us. Anyone that tells you they haven’t experienced hardship or suffering are lying. Our will to live gives us the desire to rise up again and again and again. The message is the same, it doesn’t matter how bad life gets, we always find to see the beauty of the day.

3. Live In Love – from the Times of Grace self titled album.

Don’t mistake kindness and compassion for weakness,
It takes so much more strength to be selfless and live in love.

Again another statement that puts a thousand different meanings into my head. I have gone out of my way to help others and all I expected back was respect. I wonder why when you show someone kindness, in time they then believe that they have the right to walk over you. There is always one or two that ruin everything. Rise Inside from the Killswitch Engage, Alive or Just Breathing album conveys the same message, The time has come to make a difference, Why have we forsaken love, The time has come to raise our voices, So rise up and fight with me.”

 

4. Numbered Days – from the Killswitch Engage, Alive of Just Breathing album.

This is the voice of the voiceless,
We have learned by making choices

That is the only way to grow. Make choices. Don’t be a follower, be a leader. Some choices will pay off and some will hurt. We all have a voice these days. The internet made sure of that. My Last Serenade – from the same album, also covers the same ground, with the lyrics, “Your destination is a choice within yourself, Will you rise or become a slave.”

So the next time you come across a person, complaining about their lot in life, remind them, that they are this destination, due to a choice they made once upon a time.

5. The Forgotten One – from the Times of Grace self titled album.

Lead me to the crossroad, I can find my way home
Devils on my back and angels in between
The scars and dreams that made me believe
Where’s the crime scene in remembrance to me
When our eyes meet do you know the man beneath
Walk the line between desperate and redeemed

The classic story of making a deal with the devil at the crossroads. How far will we go to make it? That is what the whole verse is about. We walk a fine line in life. We can be sinners and saints. The crime scene depends on which side of the line we fall. If we choose to betray the ones we love, so that we can get ahead, will we still see the real person inside of us, when it comes time to look into our eyes.

6. Something’s Got To Give – from the Seemless self titled album.

All your money and possessions,
They mean nothing in the span of time

Isn’t that so true. In the end we all die. We will either be buried or cremated. We live with a large income quality gap. When judgement day comes, death doesn’t discriminate. There is no death gap.

Standard
Music, My Stories

Black Sabbath – Are They Still Relevant?

I watched Black Sabbath at the Allphones Arena, in Sydney last night and i was wondering, if they are still relevant.

Black Sabbath owned the beginning of the 70’s.  Towards the end of that era the band was bleeding and Ozzy was fired.  The beginning of the 80’s, saw Black Sabbath have the Heaven and Hell period, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals.  After that, you can say the band didn’t really set the world of fire, however i must admit that i have a soft spot for the Eternal Idol and Headless Cross albums with Tony Martin on vocals.  The Dehumanizer album in 1992 with Dio was an attempt to make both Dio and Sabbath relevant in the 90’s, however it didn’t really hit the mark.  

In the crowd around me, there was an audience of young and old.  Fan T-Shirts of the younger generation showed a lot of Ozzy colours (especially the Diary/Blizzard era), so it is safe to say, that Ozzy’s solo career has played a big part in Sabbath finding a new audience.   That is how i got into Sabbath, from Ozzy’s solo career.

Then I saw Machine Head, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Rob Zombie and Metallica t-shirts on fans.  These concertgoers are fans of those bands, checking out Black Sabbath, as all of those bands have mentioned Sabbath as an influence.  Rob Zombie is one person who speaks very highly of Sabbath.

One thing that really irks me, is Rick Rubin.  He was an extraordinary producer once upon a time.  Not anymore.  Black Sabbath did wrong taking him on board for the new album.  From what I have heard so far, it is a dead set joke.  It is basically Black Sabbath 2013, covering Black Sabbath 1969 – 1972.

Black Sabbath of the 70’s questioned authority, challenged institutions and preyed on people’s fears of heaven and hell.  They don’t do that anymore.  Why is why the current music they are releasing sucks.

What happened to the two new tracks Psycho Man and Selling My Soul from the Reunion CD?   They are better than the two songs they have released so far from 13.  I was re-listening to God Is Dead! again.  I have given this song a few go’s now, trying to find something to like about it, as all the celebrity metal / rock musicians have spoken what a great song it is.  

It is still mediocre.  Then I came across a song called In Due Time from Killswitch Engage.  It got me interested.  It hit a nerve inside of me, and I needed to know more.  The melody in the music is captivating and heavy, the chorus is unbelievable melodic and catchy, the screaming in the verses borders on insanity… SHADOWS GIVE WAY TO LIGHT…  

Listening to In Due Time brought back memories of Live In Love from Times of Grace, which is more or less Adam and Jesse from Killswitch.  After listening to Live in Love, I went back to the 2009 Killswitch album and cranked The Forgotten, hearing Howard Jones singing it and if he is reading this, he will never be forgotten.

When i listen to Sabbath, i think of Randy Rhoads and the unbelievable version he did of Children of the Grave on the Tribute album.  When i listen to Sabbath, i think of Ronnie James Dio.  When i listen to Sabbath, i think of Ozzy.   To me Ozzy is more relevant than what Sabbath is.  Ozzy really didn’t have to go back to Sabbath for a new album, he didn’t need it.

So is Black Sabbath still relevant.  For their influence and legacy, YES.  As a band writing new music, NO.  It is great that they are attempting to release a new album, however as i have mentioned previously, if it is not great, people will move on.  Our time is short these days.

Life has its highs and it’s lows.  Careers are the same.  I don’t want to waste time listening to lame music anymore, I’m ready for great.  Black Sabbath have been away for a while now.  The Ozzfest shows gave them some leverage again.  People saw them, appreciated it, but no one was eagerly waiting for them to reform and do a new album.

The new Black Sabbath album will be a hit.  It will sell at least a million in my view.  These days, it’s not about the hit record anymore, it’s about sustaining the buzz.  In my mind, 13 is already in the rearview mirror and it hasn’t been released yet.     

 

 

Standard