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Friday, April 9, 2010
Ratt's new release Infestation (due out April 20th on RoadRunner Records) is a welcome return to their much celebrated sound, with an intensity that is both urgent and well-devised. In short, this album really rocks. Following a fantastic trend, Ratt toured behind an anniversary of their seminal juggernaut Out Of The Cellar, playing it in its entirety (you should remember that when a classic record first breaks, bands rarely preform it complete). What I believe this did for Ratt (as well as others) is it got their blood moving in the direction of what it was that made them blow up in the first place. Therein is the magic of Infestation, an 11 track straight rock-and-roll record guaranteed to please even a casual Ratt fan. Credit and due must be given to Michael (Elvis) Baskette for ignoring all temptations that contemporary production offers (pitch correctors, drum loops , etc.). Stephen Pearcy has never had what people consider a great voice (which is exactly what's great about it!); and I always felt he had a voice almost more suited to punk than hard rock - maybe that's what cornered the market all these years for Ratt with their Sunset Blvd. alley-cat brand of stiff rock and roll. It is Pearcy's unforgettable growl that makes even the softer tracks, like track two's Best Of Me, still retain enough grit to keep it safely out of ballad land. Warren Demartini is fantastic as always (he is so much of the Ratt sound we know and love). He really seems like he is energized on this new outing, with blazing riffs aplenty. Another thing to note is how great the drums sound: they are panned perfectly and really give you a sense of what drummer Bobby Blotzer is selling. Keeping the low end in line is Robbie Craneon on bass, while on guitar number two - the uber awesome Carlos Cavazo of the late great Quiet Riot - shows absolutely why he was the perfect choice to fill out the lineup. Track one, Eat Me Up, kicks it off just the way a rock record should: it gives you hope that there will be more of the same to follow... There is - in spades! Most specifically, A Little Too Much, Lost Weekend, Take A Big Bite, and Don't Let Go. The big anthem (and yes, for a record like this you must have a big anthem) is without a doubt Take Me Home; a homage to the lighters in the air (well I guess cell phones now). Bang your head halfway, well maybe more like a nod really that says I have feelings but you can still suck it. Over the years I have heard Ratt detractors say, "All Ratt songs sound alike - ya know, like Round and Round." My answer to that is you should hope they do because that sound and that song is a perfect example of what uncompromising rock-and-roll sounds like. In reality I do not agree that all Ratt songs sound the same, but I will say: much like Out Of The Cellar, there is a very nice cohesion to Infestation; it plays like it should: like a record with an A side and a B side. On the strength of this new release I will be reviewing the CD release party and concert as well, and if this stuff comes off live as it should, it will be one kick ass night! It's been 26 years since Out Of The Cellar blew out the speakers, and this new record begs the question: Can Ratt-and-roll ever die? I hope it doesn't for a long, long time.
I used to be a Ratt fan and now I am again and it feels great!
"Round and round, what comes around goes around. I'll tell you why" Dig.
4 out of 5 Anarchy Speakers
Thursday, April 1, 2010
MEGADETH 20th Anniversary concert of their seminal masterpiece Rust In Peace began before the show even started as evidenced by the sign in the box office window "yes we really are sold out" The electricity was palpable as two perennial beasts EXODUS then TESTAMENT pounded the audience into a desperate frenzy. While we waited for Megadeth to hit the stage I was treated to possibly the worlds largest karaoke sing along to Iron Maiden's Two Minutes To Midnight which was funny, cool and a little scary. That was when I met a young man who seemed a bit down, you see he had rocked so hard during Testament that he had lost his pant's! Once I explained to him that most human's simply can't rock that hard he seemed to lighten up a bit. For those of you who are not familiar with Rust In Peace let me say this, it is a perfect record from start to finish (which is almost impossible in any genre) And was nominated for a Grammy in 1991 for best metal performance (the winner that year was Mettalica for a cover of the queen song Stone Cold Crazy umm... yeah okay whatever, it's good but umm... yeah whatever) What was so great for myself and fans alike is that Megadeth would be performing this record in order and in its entirety (many of these songs had never been preformed live like Five Magics, wow) Any fans of this kind of Metal know the first two tracks Holy Wars and Hanger 18 lick for lick and can air guitar, bass, drum or vocal wail it in their sleep. This concert was filmed for a live DVD and the crowd did not disappoint, singing along, moshing and head banging all the way through (I was out of breath just watching it go down) It's no secret that Dave Mustaine who is the singer, chief cook, song writer, founding member and ax bending genius has had his troubles with drugs and alchohol over the years and that that is something that catches up to you physically, I understand that he has been clean for some time now (way to go Dave)! That being said he looked fantastic, played fantastic, sounded fantastic and gave the loyal following everything that they asked for which is the mark of a true rock warrior. One thing that should also be noted is that Megadeth's newest record Endgame is like the previous two, fast, unrelenting and awesome... so go buy it, you will not regret it.
The band was in fine form with the return of David Ellefson on Bass, Shawn Drover on drums and on the other lead guitar the amazing Chris Broderick. For anyone who understands music theory even a little you can see that this is a very difficult record to play as there are multiple time changes per song, trading solos and marathon lengths. The band not only handled the material they nailed it to the wall. Megadeth ended their legendary set with Symphony Of Destruction Peace Sells and a very cool Holy Wars reprise which was met with much deserved fanfare. One of my favorite moments was when I met a dad who had brought his 8 year old son to see one of his favorite bands do in his words "their greatest album" The kid was having a ball, and as each one teach one about the things we love we can be sure that this transcendent music will find it's way through the generations. One thing I know for sure is that Metal is alive and well in Southern California and I suspect the rest of the world as well.
4 out of 5 Anarchy Speakers
Photos by Jdoggs Magoo
Original artwork poster by Two Rabbits Studios www.tworabbitsstudios.com
Monday, March 22, 2010
Scorpions Sting In The Tail due out March 23rd 2010 is a must have for all fans of hard rock and heavy metal. Sadly this is to be their last album followed by a massive three year tour and as they have never before hinted that the end was near I must assume that they mean it. For me this album is an emotional full circle to when I first discovered the Scorps back in 1982. My friend Sean Wilson and I were picking weeds in a Salinas bean field for ill gotten warm bear money and enough cash to see John Carpenters The Thing just about every night (it was the best summer a 14 year old young punk could have)! The job was brutal but the tunes were hot, I popped my Scorpions Blackout tape in my big ass sony walkman, cranked it up to ten and didn't open it again until I got my hands on Iron Maiden's Number Of The Beast a few months later... It was just that good. Now 28 years later Sting In The Tail a hard rocking return to form and most like Blackout of all of their many studio releases. Produced by Mikael Andersson and Martin Hansen with a very obvious analog feel and a purposefully produced approach that shows what you can do without too many overlapping guitars or other stuff to get in the way of a kick ass guitar riff. One other thing that must be mentioned is how amazing Klaus Meine vocals sound! Scorpions have never had a bad album (which is unreal) but some are stronger than others, and it seems that this album was an agreement between the band to go out with a huge bang. As alway the guitars of Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs are freakin re-ding-dong-dinkulas! Pawel Maciwoda does what a good bass player does by keeping everyone on lock down with help from Southern California's own uber pounder James Kottack on drums. Track one Raised On Rock rips you face in half and you love it. Track two Sting In The Tail starts out with a wailing of guitar before in settles into a guttural vocal intro before the first verse and gives us the first sign that Klaus is up to the challenge of a take no prisoner vocal approach that ends up being so reminiscent of when they were the top band in the world that feel like saying don't you dare quit now! Track three Slave Me is a riff heavy juggernaut that has just the right whisper of Motley Crue. Track four The Good Die Young less an anti war song more of a pro soldier ballad (sounds about right... right)? Has more of that 1990s Scorpions feel but with the modern production it all blends seamlessly and gives you a needed break before the power chord chorus rocks you right back up! Track five No Limit back to the in your face head banging happiness! Track six Rock Zone could be the best opening riffs of the year, huge in its simplicity and a great reminder of what less is more can do for a rock song. Track seven Lorelei should be a cheesy ballad complete with soft synths and yet as always they somehow manage to make it a touching power ballad of love lost and the sadness that comes from waiting too long to profess your feelings (man I'm getting all choked up right now) Track eight Turn You On Has a nice drum into and vocal squeal to tell you to stop crying about your "Lorelei" and pump some fist in the air! Track nine Sly a lyrical time travel to 1985 and some really cool moody guitars set the pace (the drums don't kick in till past the 2 minute mark) and what is really the best power ballad of the album has a nice authenticity that actually made me feel something for Klaus. Track ten Spirit Of Rock Big guitars, big vocals, big drums, big fun! Lot's of cool harmonies in this one as well as some very subtle cool guitar licks. Track eleven The Best Is Yet To Come Is a bit of a tough one because I know it's the last new song the I will ever hear from the Scorps... my Scorps... I feel like I know this band, they have been a part of so much of my life and the thought that they won't predictably come through with a new record and tour every couple of years truly bums me out. What I'm saying is cherish this record, they did it for us! They put everything they have learned over there storied career and all the love, passion and power they could muster to say thank you and to say goodbye.
I am proud that a hard rock band from Germany touched my life to this degree, the magic of words and music is never to be denied. So for you guys I will do what Klaus say's I will take your hand because the best is yet to come.
"How can we grow old if the soundtrack to our lives is rock and roll"
5 out of 5 Anarchy Speakers
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Pearl Aday is related to Meatloaf. She's his daughter or daughter in law or some such deal... she sang backup in his band for a while and this is her breakaway solo project... THANK GOD! Pearl is an amazingly pure kick ass full throttle female fronted rock and roll band and I tell you I cannot get enough! Just as Orianthi has hidden her true rock self in pop, Pearl has emerged like the phoenix on fire! Scott Ian of Anthrax plays guitar along with Jim Wilson and the riffs are aplenty. Super solid rhythm section Marcus Blake on bass and Eric Leiderman on drums. Produced with just the right touch of rock sloppy by Joe Barresi who has worked with Tool, Queens Of The Stone Age and I believe is producing the next Bad Religion effort due out in 2010 (that should be awesome by the way!) The CD (which does not come with liner note if purchased on I-Tunes...Grrrr) starts off with Rock Child a message to those who came before (Janis Joplin, Joan Osborne Etc) that simply says I am here and I am ready. Track three Broken White is when we first start to see the artist past her influences and get a glimpse of what I expect future releases to celebrate openly. Track four Check Out Charlie has Ted Nugent taking time out from being a right wing, bow hunting kook to lay down some seriously nasty guitar with enough dark overtones to make you wonder what Pearl might be hiding.Track five Mama is what you would expect in the bluesy Joplin tradition yet it still manages to rock hard and smack of authenticity which is something only mature artists seem to be able to do. My favorite song after my third listen is Nobody which is an introspective journey that comes to form after a moody verse to a bigger than life of wall of guitars chorus that needs to be heard to be believed! All in all this record plays like a snapshot of the artist, all the passion, pain, love and fearless dedication that it takes to bear your soul for the world to see.
It doesn't matter if you are related to someone famous you just can't fake this. Keep it real Pearl, keep it real.
4.0 out of 5 Anarchy Speakers
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Day Of Fire's new album Losing All starts with an awwwwwww yeah that could have been on a Dr. Dre record back in the day but then builds into an almost Gun's N Roses hype before kicking full bore into track one Light Em Up. While there is really nothing new here what you do get is a well crafted rock song that makes things clear, Josh Brown is a singer of range and power, Joe Pangallo will rip your balls of with his ax pounding (if you are female, he will rip your girl balls off) Chris Pangallo on Bass and Zach Simms on drums are a settled rhythm section as good as any out there. All of the songs (except Strange) have sing song chorus's with the most effective being Light Em Up, Hello Heartache, Cold Addiction, Hey You and Never Goodbye. That's five out of thirteen, which if you are realistic is an amazing average (besides the rest of the songs all have something of their own worth checking out) My pick for best song hands down is Never Goodbye which is a beautiful power ballad full of thoughtful guitar as well as a real format to spotlight Josh Brown on vocals (not to mention the best production on the record) When I first heard the final track The Dark Hills I noticed Jesus working in the lyrics so I needed to take a closer look to make sure what the agenda was, what I found is that lyrically it starts out as a foxhole prayer for the terrified but eventually ends with an affirmation of faith which takes guts and which I think is important in these dark times (doesn't matter what your faith is by the way). So basically these guys rock in a STP, Alice In Chains kind of way with enough authenticity to not get bogged down by their influences. The only thing I don't love is the vocal effect treatment as I feel Josh Brown's voice speaks for itself and doesn't need all that fake distortion nonsense featured on some of the songs. So in closing my rock and roll family I leave you with this: This album could do well for these guys because there is enough possibility for commercial application. More importantly to me, this album gives me that special feeling I rarely get... I wan't to see Day Of Fire play live!... I Just got a feeling they would bring it.
3.5 Out of
5 Anarchy Speakers
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Orianthi Panagaris now known simply as Orianthi is best known for being a guitarist in Michael Jackson's band for the tour that never was. Orianthi was featured in This Is It the making of the tour that never was and showed immediately why Michael gave her the nod, quite simply she may be the best female hard rock lead guitar player.... umm.... ever, and she's only 24!
Believe is the new record from this six string female phenom and let's make no mistake this is a pop record. Does it rock? Yes, no, sort of, I'm not sure, but no. The first track According To You is what you would expect for a first single with the old boyfriend was mean new one is nice story line. For what it is it's a good track with a fantastic solo that illustrates her virtuosity and should do pretty well for her exposure wise. The next track Suffocated is definitely the best rock track, again with a good sing along chorus and tasty guitar licks. Track three Bad News is in the same universe as the first two but not as strong. Track four Believe is where the trouble starts, what may have started as a fun gooey pop rock record suddenly veers off into a Shania Twain crossover record, for this I blame the producer. The production of the record is pop 101 (which means it is over compressed and almost devoid of feeling) I guess it makes sense because she's 24 and cute and probably has people "advising" her. I'n reality her guitar playing gives her away... she belongs to rock and roll and this record is not rock and roll. Track seven tries to return to the promise of the first three tracks but just can't quite get their even though it has big guitars. Track ten Highly Strung is the I love Steve Vai thing, it does showcase just how dang good she is (and Vai) but as with most of the songs it continues to muddle the waters as to what kind of record this is supposed to be. Her voice is good but super produced in a way that she just can't do live, it's not that she has a bad voice it's just a little thin. Bottom line is this, if she does well with this record than we can look forward to more uninspired pop poop with a few fun-ish songs. If it just does okay (maybe through divine intervention)? Then maybe, just maybe she sheds the Disney pop pretense in favor of a real exploration into soulful rock and roll... or if nothing else she can always play in someone else's band again. Here is a thought; female super group with Orianthi on guitar, Pearl Aday on vocals, Dale Anne Brendon on drums (saw her on youtube, she's sick) and for now how about Paz Lenchantin on Bass... do we have a deal or what? So at the end of the day this is a forgettable record but on a bright note my daughter loves the first three songs which makes me smile... she's almost 5.
2.0 out of 5 Anarchy Speakers
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Vessel is an album rock band pure and simple, the five songs represented here read more as a demo than an official release. That being said Vessel is a sleeping giant with something very compelling about them. Imagine yourself on a deserted freeway at three in the morning driving away from the worst moment of your life when suddenly in the drowning rain a warm feeling comes over you and you know at that moment that life goes on and that everything will be all right. This is what I get from frontman, guitarist and vocalist Alex O' Keefe and really from Vessel as a whole. The songs all rise and fall between quite desperation and wall of guitar dropped g fury. My picks are track 1 You Are The Ocean and Track 3 Mnemosyne (the most radio friendly song and you name it this? Sure that's easy to remember and Pronounce!) The rhythm section is an interesting juxtaposition with unchained beast Nico Bazzoni on drums and David "the sound of reason" Zakharov on bass (the truth is without David's solid grounding on bass I think they might actually float away) Another interesting touch is Zack Rice who does some weird aural sound scaping that gives them that post nuke dread in the background and between songs. The problem with the record is that you have to let it take hold of you and that takes a few listens which we know in this day and age is very hard to get people to do. There are a million bands out there doing what they do, Vessel is for real, their work ethic is strong and they believe in their message and so do I. There is something important about this band but as of yet I cannot put my finger on it. Recorded and mixed by Rice and O'keef in surprisingly good fashion. What I would like to see is a full ten song concept album produced by the likes of Adam Dutkiewicz... call me nuts but these kids could forge a scene unto themselves, but first their gonna need some help.
3.5 out of 5 Anarchy Speakers
3.5 out of 5 Anarchy Speakers
Monday, February 1, 2010
FIREBALL MINISTRY'S self titled Fourth album (to be released on March 16th) is their best Album since the Second Great Awakening and in some ways maybe even better (this debate may go on in my mind for eternity) They did so many things right with this album that it shows a new maturity in they're recording career that makes me proud to declare myself a fan. There are only ten tracks, which is almost always the most any band should put forth into the ether, furthermore they are all great or at least very good songs. This is the first of their four albums that really sheds the Black Sabbath overtone in favor of their own unique brand of low down swamp rock peppered with surprise vocal pop hooks (which is a good thing by the way) and sweet and sour guitar play brandished by James A. Rota and Emily J. Burton. The rhythm section is in fantastic hard pounding form with John. G Oreshnick on Drums and Johny (why don't I get to have a middle initial?) Chow on bass. The Reverend James A. Rota Has managed to calm his vocal delivery quite a bit since their last effort with a delightfully authentic effect. Now to the Album! Well, produced by Andrew Alekel with a very analog feel and minimal overdubs or should I say more importantly no pointless overdubs. Hard Line starts thing off with a straight ahead reminder of who this band is, loud and proud with a great sing along chorus could see it rotating on what's left of terrestrial radio. That being said the real single in my opinion is Thought It Out which is an unapologetic hook fest, the perfect vehicle to pull in new fans for Fireball Ministry who are still essentially what we used to call an album rock band. Kick back moves like a good old Molly Hatchet "flirtin With Disaster" southern ass-kicker while Sleeping With Angels is a dreamy ballad worthy or several listens on that rainy day when it seems like nothings ever gonna work out. In Their Own Right closes the record out just like it started with a bang! Fantastic track all around with a great fade out at the end with a promise of more Fireball to come! Overall I must say this is a realized, concise, authentic and passionate realese that is worthy of critical acclaim but more importantly Fireball Ministry are a ham and egg band for the people of the rock and roll community which we should all celebrate with the volume up!
4.5 out of 5 Anarchy Speakers
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Kiss's 19th studio album does in fact rock! Founding members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are at the helm, with long time live companions (aka Ace and Peter action figures) Tommy Thayer on gits and Eric Singer on drums. Okay so Paul Stanley produced these recordings, and for all intents and purposes this has the feel of on old time Kiss record, which is the good news... The not so good news is there are really only a few inspired tracks in my opinion: Modern Day Delilah, a bang 'em out rock n roll tune which is fun in the "how you doing out there Cleveland?" way. While Russian Roulette is a strong follow up track, it does get a little creepy with all of Gene Simmons' sexual innuendoes... ya know, coming from a grandpa and all. Gene does however make up for it on I'm An Animal. My Fave track is Stand; it has that "God Gave Rock And Roll to You 2" vibe while maintaining its own identity, especially with the fantastic old school middle eight. Say Yeah was the second single. I thought Say Yawn might have been a better title until I really listened to it. Say Yeah is a good old fashioned stadium rock anthem with all the right bits, including a break down and a great sing along part for the live show. Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer both do lead vocals on one song each; they're okay songs but we don't buy Kiss Cd's at Walmart (exclusive distributors) in 2010 to hear them sing (nothing personal - you guys are awesome) A little while back Gene Simmons was quoted as saying they would not be doing any more original recordings. That may have changed with Ace Freehley coming out with his first solo effort since the 70's. Sadly, Ace's CD is just a smidge better that this one, however he is the Space Ace so he gets an extra thumbs up anyway. As with all new CD's from the Walmart packaging dept., this CD comes with a greatest hits CD with most of what you would expect from Rock And Roll All Night to Lick It UP (sadly no Creatures of the Night) Also included is a 6 song live DVD which is fun to watch once. So, all in all, is this anything special? No, not really. Should you buy it anyway? If you're a kiss fan yes! You can't beat the price and sonically it does sound great! If it takes you back for just a second to the grand old Kiss days, wouldn't you say that was worth it? It did... and I do.
3.0 out of 5 Anarchy Speakers