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

Semi Obscure Bon Jovi Songs – Part 3

Bon Jovi are consistent ticket sellers, because the Generation X’s want to go. Some want to remember their youth, while others want to contemplate who they once were and who they have come to be and what a long twisted journey it has been to today. Along the way, music has been the soundtrack to many lives. Continuing on from the Semi-Obscure theme, here is the third list of songs from Bon Jovi that fail to get the attention they deserve.

DAMNED

It has a soul like funky blues groove very similar to what Lenny Kravitz was putting out. It is a Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi composition. The theme of the song didn’t resonate with the audience. Jon Bon Jovi was a married man, with children, so when he sings a song about having a secret love for someone, it just didn’t sit right. However, the vocal melody is strong and the music is great, he just needed better words.

“These Days” from 1995 is a very misunderstood album, released in a very confusing time. Hard/Glam rock as we knew it was dead, Grunge was fading and alternative rock was rising, along with a form of industrial rock/metal. Death Metal was at its peak, black metal was rising and thrash as we knew it was more or less non-existent with all the thrash bands delivering commercial sounding albums.

So while a lot of Bon Jovi’s counterparts (the ones that were not broken up) released heavier sounding albums, Bon Jovi went the opposite and released a slower and reflective album, furnished with a few rockers and a lot of ballads. Two things are evident throughout “These Days”.

One is the blues and the other is the Americana style of music made famous by Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Hank Williams and so on.

LOVE IS WAR

It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. Of course it sounds like “You Give Love A Bad Name” because Jon tried really hard to create the same vibe and the same kind of hit. Is that a bad thing? Maybe. Maybe Not. Even “Bad Medicine” sounds like “You Give Love A Bad Name”.

“Love Is War” deserved to be officially released. If you haven’t heard it, go to YouTube, the unofficial streaming service. You will find it there. It has just over 29,000 views. The numbers are nothing compared to the “hits”.

Coming into the “New Jersey” writing phase (which at one stage was the “Sons Of Beaches” writing phase), 9 million copies of “Slippery When Wet” were sold, between 1986 and 1988 in the U.S. The pressure was on to repeat “Slippery When Wet”.

I know my silence tears you up inside
You built a fortress for your hurt to hide
You think you’ve won, but it’s a tie
’cause nobody wins a war of pride

It is the stand-off, where it is better to agree than disagree and both sides believe they have come out on top.

I’D DIE FOR YOU

“Slippery When Wet” was a monster of an album. Carrying three dead set classics, it was easy for the other songs to get missed. “I’d Die For You” is written by the Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child song writing team.

While, “Livin On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name” took all the glory from this song writing team, the deeper cuts on side 2 are not to be ignored, especially the fan favourite “I’d Die For You”.

It’s got that Judas Priest “Breaking The Law” guitar line. Did anyone pick up on that? Remember my catch cry, progress is derivative.

Today, people are always telling me to lower my expectations and accept albums that are nowhere near as good as what came before. When something connects with me, it rekindles my faith in music.

The Night Flight Orchestra did that in 2012, with “Internal Affairs”. Protest The Hero did that in 2013 with “Volition”. Evergrey did that in 2011 with “Glorious Collision”. Machine Head did that in 2007 with “The Blackening”. Motley Crue did that in 2008 with “Saints Of Los Angeles”. Dream Theater did that in 2009 with “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” and One Less Reason did that in 2010 with “Faces and Four Letter Words”. Great music that makes you want to live forever, just to see what comes next.

That’s the power of a hit record and there was no bigger hit than “Slippery When Wet” in the Eighties for rock and metal music. Also a “hit” is not something that an a record label rep markets to death so that it can chart for a month or two and is then forgotten. No, a hit record infects the soul, like a virus that can never be treated. It lives with us forever.

As Robb Flynn sang in “Darkness Within”, “Pray to music, build a shrine, worship in these desperate times, fill your heart with every note, cherish it and cast a float.”

That is the power of music and that is the power of “Slippery When Wet”. On YouTube, “I’d Die For You” is a cult hit. The fan’s have taken the song and made their own film clips, lyric videos and so on. Add all the views together and you get close to 2 million views.

Jon Bon Jovi wasn’t married in 1986, when “Slippery When Wet” was released.

I’d die for you
I’d cry for you
I’d do anything
I’d lie for you
You know it’s true
Baby I’d die for you

Is he singing “I’d Die For You” to his future wife?

MY GUITAR LIES BLEEDING IN MY ARMS

Do you wanna know what is the difference between Bon Jovi and the wannabes? The delivery. We had no doubt that Jon Bon Jovi had lived his stories. This is the power of rock and roll. It doesn’t have to be heavy, or fast or bluesy. It can be a slow-moving ballad. It can be a sound. The title is a take on the George Harrison classic, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

You see, when done right, music brings us together. It touches something that can’t be described and that is the essence of life. And others are out there also feeling that same connection. That is why we become fans.

I can’t write a love song the way I feel today
I can’t sing no song of hope, I got nothing to say
Life is feeling kind of strange, since you went away
I sing this song to you wherever you are
As my guitar lies bleeding in my arms

It is a depressing song dealing with a conflicted front man.

“Keep The Faith” was classified as a failure by the critics and the press as it “only” moved 2 million copies. In 1992, thousands of other bands would have moved heaven and earth to have sales of 2 million.

He tried out his “Jambco” record label that also released records from Billy Falcon and Aldo Nova. That venture was also classed a failure. The records from both Billy Falcon and Aldo Nova didn’t really click up the sales either and Jon Bon Jovi played important roles in both of them, as a song writer and as a producer. So hearing this song come out of him in 1995, it resonates.

ONLY LONELY

It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and David Bryan.

This is back to an innocent time when musicians were not so much wannabe fame and money mongers, but musical fanatics. You can hear the New Jersey synth sounds in this. The Bon Jovi VEVO channel has this song at 1,251,542 views. Other channels have lyric videos and their own fan clips, plus live performances.

The bottom line is this; it is a fan favourite. Like “I’d Die For You”, could it be about someone in particular.

“Only lonely — I can’t stop hurting you
Only lonely — but I can’t stop loving you
Only lonely — how much pain does it take”

THE PRICE OF LOVE

It is written by Jon Bon Jovi.

The Jon Bon Jovi of today portrays himself as a winner, whereas in the Eighties and early Nineties era he revealed his inner turmoil and demons and we loved him for it because we identified!

“We live, we learn, we lie
For the price of love
We kiss then say goodbye
For the price of love”

Aint that the truth. It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day”. We relive what love is until we get it right.

WITHOUT LOVE

“Without Love” is written by the Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child song writing team.

When a person is singing about finding a person that loves them and not being able to keep it, then they would rather be without love.

“I see my life
There’s some things I took for granted
Love’s passed me by
So many second chances
I was afraid
But I won’t be afraid no more”

Fear is the biggest killer of dreams and hopes.

BURNING FOR LOVE

It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. When I hear this song, it reminds me of Muse as the progression is very similar to the progressions that Muse employs.

As with all of the earlier stuff, Sambora goes to town during the lead breaks, showcasing his abilities as a melodic shredder. He never went too over the top, always focusing on enhancing the song, instead of enhancing his ego.

RIVER RUNS DRY

It is a Jon Bon Jovi and Desmond Child composition that begins as a derivative version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” which was also copied from a certain French band called Tarkus that opened up for Led Zeppelin at one point in time. Remember, progress is derivative.

SAVE A PRAYER

No one knows this song even exist, but they should. It deals with the theme of saving a prayer for when a person needs it. To save a prayer for when a person has gone through some bad moments.

Did you ever feel like you were drowning,
did you ever feel betrayed by a kiss?
Did you ever feel like you needed somebody,
would you feel alone in a world like this?
Did you ever feel like you needed shelter,
did you ever laugh when you wanted to cry?
Did you ever dream about evolution,
don’t you ever feel like your living a lie?

Jon gets the words right and nails it. Who hasn’t felt any of the above emotions and feelings?

Oh, Whoa, too many children grow up blind to the truth.
I say, Oh Oh, Oh, Oh,
say a prayer for me,
I’ll save a prayer for you.

We live in an age where everything is at our fingertips. Don’t take everything that you read as the truth. Investigate and research it. Come up with your own conclusions.

After re-reading all of the above, I noticed that i have subconsciously sequenced the songs into an album format. So I set up a playlist, put on the headphones, kicked back and enjoyed this special Bon Jovi album.

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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

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It’s all MIRRORS and MISDIRECTION: Tilting Against Windmills with Protest The Hero

That vocal section in “Tilting Against Windmills” from about 2.28 with the lyric “Father Forgive me for I have sinned” sounds huge. It’s epic and it just comes out of nowhere. Isn’t it funny how a small section totally makes the song. The whole “Volition” album is full of great sections.

“Without Prejudice” has the base line that comes out at about 3:10 which just builds to a mad climax. It also has an awesome lyric line. “Jump from the nearest tallest building and reach new heights.” What a brilliant way to say the clichéd and overused Reach For The Sky term.

“Clarity” has the excellent lyric line of ‘This drought is relieved with acid rain”. Love the lyrical statement.

“Yellow Teeth” has a mad chorus guitar melody.

“Plato’s Tripartite” has a tough progressive bit from about 2:54 to 3:32.

“A Life Embossed” has an awesome progressive guitar lead that starts at 3:44.

“Mist” has the major key ending with the dark lyric line of “You’re as deep as the grave, marching to the heartbeat of the land.” It just comes out of nowhere and after a chaotic math metal interlude.

The last song “Skies” is the perfect closer. It feels like it’s got some subliminal message that says, “play me again… play me again… play play play….”

Every song on “Volition” has something that just stands up and slaps you in the face with awesomeness. I am starting to sound like Bill and Ted. And what about the drumming. It is a tragedy that Chris Adler isn’t touring on the back of this release. Everything just sounds more powerful. From the double kick to the hitting of the skins.

I decided to do some Google searches on Protest The Hero because that is what we do these days. I was at first interested to see what kind of gear they use which is a pretty basic set up. Then in my searches I came across some YouTube clips of them giving tutorials for some of their songs.

All I can say is Whoaaa….

First off, I wanted to break my guitar, just because they make what they are playing look so easy. What I am finding out is that by “trying” to take on some of their stuff it is opening myself to a whole new world of composition and it is breaking me out of my rut.

I also watched some interviews with the guys as well and they talked about their influences especially Paul Gilbert and John Petrucci. What was funny to me is that they actually aren’t major Rush fans at all, which I thought was bizarre as they are Canadian and Rush is Canadian. Rhythm guitarist Tim Millar said something like “I have like a Greatest Hits album but that’s about it”.

Even before the Ron Jarzombek connection on “Drumhead Trial” I was always saying to anyone who listened to me that Protest The Hero remind me of Watchtower, a technical thrash band from the Eighties. Watchtower released a brilliant album called “Control and Resistance”. I remember picking it up for $2 in a second hard record store around 1989. What a bargain?

In relation to Watchtower and their album “Control And Resistance” this is what Guitar World said about it in a list of Top Ten Shred Albums of the 80’s.

“Sounding like the twisted scion of Metallica and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, WatchTower was the most brilliant weird band of its time. Guitarist Ron Jarzombek, with his complex harmony solos, strange scales and furious staccato lead bursts, performs tricks on his guitar that will leave you more than sufficiently breathless.”

Their 2nd singer Jason McMaster was tapped to join Pantera before Phil Anselmo joined. Then he left and formed a hard rock band called Dangerous Toys and had some mainstream success. The original guitarist Billy White also went all hard rock and joined Don Dokken for his solo project (and was also the main songwriter on it). Remember the album “Up From The Ashes.” The bass player Doug Keyser was asked to audition for Metallica after Cliff Burton died. Watchtower has a history man with so many different MIRRORS and MISDIRECTION.

Also another band that Protest The Hero always reminded me off is Leviathan, another progressive technical metal/rock band. Their album “Deepest Secrets Beneath” is essential listening.

I’ve cranked “Volition” to death already, so yesterday I decided to go through some other progressive bands. I played the new Dream Theater, played Periphery II and played Tesseract “Altered State” and then went back to “Volition”.

Progressive music is in a good place as far as I’m concerned.

All four bands mentioned above have different and unique sounds but yet are undeniably progressive. Protest The Hero is by far the most intense, and I think that’s why they stand out above the rest.

Listening to the new Dream Theater and then going back to “Volition” was a real eye opener. I hold Dream Theater in high regard from a technical point of view, however the stuff that Protest The Hero do is technical to the max and it’s the tempo they do it in that gives this overwhelming impression.

It just made listening to Dream Theater sound so slow and old. Speaking of old bands, the new Fates Warning album is better than Dream Theater’s self-titled album. I really dig what Fates Warning is all about, merging hard rock, with Tool/Porcupine Tree/atmospheric Pink Floyd like movements and Iron Maiden style lead breaks. Plus as a Dream Theater fan, Fates Warning get Kevin Moore to contribute with each album.

When I was going through the booklet I noticed that their producer Cameron McLellan was involved a lot in the song writing process. It’s no surprise that he is filling in for bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi. Like how un-metal is that. He pulled out of the U.S tour because he is involved in a stage play and because the recording ran over the tour dates conflict with the dates of the stage play. So of course for the US tour Cameron McLellan is filling in for him.

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What does Protest The Hero’s – Volition album teach us about life?

After the success of their debut album “Kezia” back in 2005, Protest The Hero was expected to go into a more commercially viable and poppy influence. So what did the band do? They released “Fortress” in 2008, which was less poppy and more technical. As lead sing Rody Walker put it, “a natural progression into further obscurity.” Basically they wrote what they wanted to write and in the process created something so far removed from a commercial album than expected.

Let’s start with the song “Underbite” as the hilarious puppet clip is doing the rounds on YouTube right now. If you have seen the clip, you will note how the song focuses on artists that fake it. It is focusing on artists that don’t care about the fan experience. They are focusing on artists who see themselves as gods and their fans as stupid kids, who are expected to consume every piece of music they produce regardless if it’s good or not. It is focusing on the merchandise rip off.

In other words don’t rip off your fans. Work with them. Connect with them. Also from an artistic point of view, you need to write what you want to write NOT what you think people will like. Watch the clip and be humoured by their scathing satire of the rockstar mentality.

My favourite song on the album is “Mist.” The song is basically talking about Newfoundland and Rody Walker’s love for it and how once it is all over in music for him it is the place that he wants to settle down in. The lyrics about the “India” showing up back stage before the gig are hilarious and when they hit the stage after pulling a few beeries, it was the like the best show ever. Life throws up all these different paths. Try as many paths as you can, because in the end we are all as deep as the grave, marching to the heartbeat of the land.

“Skies” is what progressive music should be. It is a perfect amalgamation of so many different progressive styles. It’s about uncertainty and the only thing we know is that the “descent is all there truly ever is.”

Then you have the message in “Drumhead Trial.” The drumhead trial is noted for its lack of impartiality. Basically, you are judged by someone who likely hates you. A recent military trial from the US comes to mind.

“Tilting Against Windmills” is basically about the Catholic Church and how it deals with sexuality.

“Without Prejudice” deals with the fixation that people have on wealth. To extend the message to music bands existed once upon a time to create music and for people to hear that music. Then came the corporations and turned music into a monopolistic business. Then bands became fixated with wealth. Fast forward to the now and it’s back to what it was. Bands need to get people to listen again. Hence the reason why Spotify is a big player.

“Yellow Teeth” deals with people judging other people and basically bullying them, either verbally or on line or on blogs.

“Animal Bones” focuses on how Protest The Hero are proud of their past albums like “Kezia” and “Fortress” and while they are proud of those albums, they don’t want to be defined by them forever.

“A Life Embossed” covers new legislation against pitbulls.

Finally the album title. “Volition,” means “the power to make your own choices.” The band made the choice to not lock themselves in for another three album record deal. The band made a choice to use Indiegogo as a fundraiser campaign to record their album. They reached their target instantly. Eight thousand fans made the choice and dedicated their money to make sure another album happened without even hearing a single note of new music.

Then drummer, Moe Carlson, made the choice to leave the band and pursue a different career. Then the band made the choice to get Chris Adler of Lamb of God to track the drums for Volition.

Then the album cover has a message of how the media seems to glorify horrible situations. The media has the power to make choices and it seems they make the choice that involves making profits. The song “Plato’s Tripartite” covers this topic as it looks like it deals with how rape victims are turned into the villains and the monsters that commit the rape aren’t held responsible for their actions.

As an artist you have the power to make your own choices. Make them and live by them. Protest The Hero have. They are a special band. Support them.

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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.

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

The Good Way and The Bad Way

So if I pay $120 for a Spotify Premium account, it means that i can listen to a lot of songs. If I pay $120 worth of songs from iTunes in Australia, I can only listen to 70 songs. In Australia, we are charged $1.69 for a track. As a fan of music what is the better option.

However, for the artists that were doing well under the old record label controlled system, then Spotify and iTunes is probably not for them and they should retire.

For the larger group of artists that didn’t have the six winning lotto numbers in the record label lottery, then Spotify is the leveller. Spotify is changing the distribution of wealth within the music business. 

For the artists that don’t like the new way they can then go back to releasing their albums with the following advertising from the Nineties;

 

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Scott Ian from Anthrax can get his fans to go to all of the stores mentioned above. I trust that none of them are around anymore. It wasn’t piracy that killed them off, it was new technologies and bad business models.

The major chains all could have innovated, however they didn’t. Steve Jobs and Apple did. Daniel Ek and Spotify did.

In relation to the record labels. Imagine all the poor artists that were on Geffen Records in 1992. Talk about Geffen hedging their bets. That flyer is promoting Guns N Roses and Roxy Blue (Hard Rock) vs Nirvana (Grunge) vs White Zombie (Industrial Groove Metal). Guess we know who was the loser overall. Hard Rock.

The internet has enabled artists to reach out to wider and different communities than they could in the past. Previously, artists had to connect with people nearby and wait on the record label to spread the word.

However in 2013, many more artists are able to connect and build a fan base by finding and bringing together a unique fan base that is right for them and them alone.

Protest The Hero just did it with “Volition” and their Indiegogo campaign.

Coheed and Cambria did a great job with “The Afterman” releases.

Digital Summer is doing a great job at it as a DIY artist.

Marillion started it off in 2001. With everything there has to be a leader and for fan funding, that leader was Marillion.

The purpose of music is not to make people rich. It was always about the social bonding. If an artist can accomplish the bonding part, then the artist is giving the fan a reason to buy. It is human nature to reciprocate, to acknowledge value.

All those artists complaining, that they are losing, is because they are obsessed with the money they are losing. They have no one to blame but themselves. They are losing money because they no longer are making connections. They are just offering a piece of music up for sale without any connections and relationships. That is the bad way.

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