Friday, June 30, 2006

Queensryche-Operation Mindcrime 2, 2006

Doing a sequel to one of your most successful albums is a bit of a two edged sword. By doing this you should guarantee higher albums at least initially just based of using the album title. However by using that album title this probably raises the expectations of the fans and the sequel like any sequel will ultimately be compared to the original. Doing a sequel years after the original album has been done before as both King Diamond and Helloween have done it in recent years. Queensryche are a much bigger band though so they are the ones who have received a lot of press over this project. I didn't have high hopes for this one, but my biggest fear was that they would try to force the sound to be reminiscent of the original Mindcrime, but they don't. However the crime they comment on numerous songs is that they try to sound "modern". Perhaps I should say they sound like a bunch of forty somethings trying to sound like what they think is modern. Instead we get a number of annoying songs and a number of boring ones. I think there is an audience out there that would have embraced an album that was similar in style to the first Mindcrime yet those are the same fans who already like the band. I think the band had hopes of bringing in some newer and younger fans as well, but instead I don't think they have pleased much of anybody with this album. The vocals are generally solid and there are some good riffs and some fine moments here and there yet it's not enough to salvage this one. It's overlong and really failed to keep my attention for the whole time. To me the three worst things an album can be is annoying, lame and boring. This album has moments of all three of those. It's not awful, but it's well below average. If you have to have a copy then wait a few months and get it out of the bargain bin because I am sure there will be some copies there.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The drive

I am not a car person for the most part. I mean that I want my car to run, but I am not crazy about cars or driving. It's just a matter of transportation to me and that's about it except for listening to music in the car. Listening to music while driving has always generally always been a great experience to me. There is nothing quite like the feeling of driving while listening to something you really enjoy. I remember when I used to have to put tapes in and now I can listen to CD's. unfortunately I have about 30-40 CD's sitting on my passenger side seat of my car. Driving in the rain while listening to music is the best to me as long as it's normal rain and not a downpour. I recently switched jobs to have a shorter commute because of my kids and I love my new job and my shorter commute. Today I have to go back to my old workplace for a workshop. I am not looking forward to the traffic or the hour long drive home, but I am looking forward to having that much time to listen to music in my car.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The stack

I remember now or at least I remembered that I have yet to listen to Operation Mindcrime 2 despite the fact that I promised to review it. So I need to get cracking and sit down and listen to it. I have other cd's that I have bought or checked out from the library that I have yet to listen to as well. I think I should listen to them, but I tend to reach for something more familiar and play that instead. Do you have a stack of cd's sitting at your house that you have yet to listen to?

Prong-Cleansing, 1993

Pantera, White Zombie, Tool and Helmet. Do you know those bands? I would wager that many people know all of them or at least all except maybe Helmet. Those bands are different from each other in a lot of ways, but in general in the early 90's they had a heavy, stripped down sound. All of those bands met success ranging from decent (Helmet) to stellar (Pantera). Yet to me the band that was doing the stripped down heavy sound better than anyone was else was New York three piece Prong. They had a few release in the mid to late 1990's, but their real breakthrough came in 1990 with "Beg to differ" which exemplified a simple yet direct sound that really hit. In 1991 they released "Prove you wrong" which had a bit more industrial flare to it, but still retained a nice sharp heaviness. By 1993 they hit what I think was their peak with "Cleansing" which hits with all the subtlety of a jackhammer, but the band still manages to control the pace and squeeze everything they can out of each song. On "Cleansing" they mix things up a bit as well mixing traditional metal styling with more modern beats and styles. To me Prong were one of the most important metal bands of the 1990's due to their ability to maintain a solid heaviness reminiscent of 80's metal yet they still managed to stand fresh when compared to other 90's bands. This album still rattle my spine thirteen years after it's release so they must have done something right. In 1996 they would release "Rude Awakening" which was very good as well, but the band quickly broke up. Founder/vocalist/guitarist re-formed the band a few years ago and released an album, but it's like a different band as most of the magic seems to have been lost.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It came from the pages of Hit Parader

I have in front of me a copy of the May, 1985 issue of Hit Parader. Judas Priest and Iron Maiden are on the cover, but if you turn it over there is a rather odd ad on the back cover. It tries to make you think that it is another cover of Hit Parader, but really it's just an ad from RCA records. They try to plug all of their hard rock/metal bands such as Grim Reaper, Wrathchild, Shy, White Wolf and Boss. Oh, and the biggest name of all gets the picture on the ad and that band is Autograph. Right now if you are around 30 or under then you are saying who? However if you were of a certain age in late 84-early 85 then you remember these guys as a one hit wonder and that hit was "Turn up the radio". It got a lot of airplay and it was on Autograph's debut "Sign in please". The album is overall just okay and I bought it on cd a few years back for a dollar figuring it was worth that. Unfortunately for Autograph they never had another hit. Their second album the 1985 release "That's the stuff"got mainly poor reviews. In 1987 they returned with "Loud and clear" which I remember as being their best album, but it didn't catch on. I think they drifted away after that although they did release a rarities album in the 90's. Yet for a short period of time there a lot of people knew who Autograph were due to that one song and that's more than a lot of bands from that era can say.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Last time

A few simple questions.
1)What was the last song you listened to?
2)What was the last band shirt you wore?
3)What was the last album you listened to from start to finish?
4)What was the last album cover you looked at for longer than a minute?
5)What was the last song you listened to twice in a row?
6)What was the last website you looked at?
7)What was the last blog you looked at before this one?

My answers:
1)Going to California by Led Zeppelin
2)Dokken. I am wearing it now.
3)Witchkiller-Day of the Saxons
5)Dog eat dog by AC/DC
6)I was at retrospectrecords
, but I didn't buy anything.
7)I looked at Its-jim

How about you?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Battle of the bands

Here is another edition of battle of the bands. It's easy, you just pick which band you prefer and state why. This time it's:

Aerosmith vs. Alice Cooper

It's a close one, but ultimately I chose Alice. Both bands had several great albums in the 70's and both bands had down periods. Alice's down period may have been worse than Aerosmith's. Yet I think he is a bit more original and overall more important. Aerosmith were a good blues rock band, but Alice was glam and invented a large part of shock rock. I think overall he made a larger contribution to the hard rock/metal scene.

Who do you pick?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

What's coming up?

This week I hope to have these topics out:

Queensryche-Operation Mindcrime 2 review (this means that I actually have to sit down and listen to the cd first)
Prong-Cleansing review
It came from the pages of Hit Parader
Battle of the bands

There may be another topic or two as well.

Here is a question for you. Are there any songs that you don't like anymore because you have heard them to many times or they have been played on the radio too much?

I would have to say Deep Purple's Smoke on the water, Hendrix' Foxy Lady and AC/DC's You shook me all night long all fall in this category for me.

Manowar-Fighting the world, 1987

Venom's frontman Cronos once said "Manowar want you to believe that they come to your town riding on a fire breathing dragon". Actually Manowar were formed in New York by former Dictator's member Ross "the boss". The band sang about battles, dragons, warriors and similar topics. The early were rough at times for these guys. They landed an opening for Ted Nugent on their first, but were quickly kicked off as the Nuge thought that they were just too different. By 1987 the band was set to release it's fifth album and they were on their fifth record label. That doesn't sound like a good thing except that they were now on a major label. In late 1985 Manowar recorded a two song demo with songs that would eventually end up on this album and they began shopping the demo around looking for a new label. Eventually Atlantic affiliate Atco took a chance and signed them on. This album came out in early 1987 and although the lyrics were the same as always, it was the change in music that cause this band to catch on. The album has nine tracks, but two of them are under two minutes a piece and serve more as intros for other songs. Largely most of their songs are anthems about metal or some kind of stuff about riding into some kind of battle. No one will accuse these guys of being lyrical geniuses,yet the music and vocals are strong enough, straight forward and above all else fairly memorable. Some fans of the band's early stuff point to this as a sellout. I say it's the point where they got their act together and realized that you have to play something a bit more cohesive than some of their earlier stuff. The band got some good press for this album, the video for "Blow your speakers" got some regular play on Headbanger's ball and the band's popularity grew in the underground. The album is a little short at under 40 minutes and not all of the songs are great, but it was their best album at this point and a decent offering for the most part. My favorite tracks are the title track, Blow your speakers, Holy War and Carry on.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Yesterday my wife took Metalgirl to see Cars. Metalgirl is two and this was her first trip to the movies and she sat through it and liked it. I was proud of her although this makes it feel like she is growing up fast. I had leave to use so I took off from work and stayed home with Metalboy while they went to the movies. I rented School of Rock with Jack Black and watched that for the first time while I played with Metalboy. I won't go into details at this time, but I'll just say I liked the movie. I did a movies week here a few months ago where I reviewed five movies in one week and I think that I may tackle a second movies week here soon. There will be some rock movies as well as metal movies this time around. I think the line-up for the second movies week will be reviews of:
Almost Famous
Empire Records
High Fidelity
School of rock
Wayne's World 2
Then I will have to tack on one or two other movie related topics to round out the week. I might do that in about two weeks.
What is your all time favorite music related movie? Doesn't have to be metal or even rock, but just music related. I would have to go with This is Spinal Tap.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My music history

A while back I was going through the archives over at fredcharles blog and he had a post about what bands he had been into at different times. So I decided to do one to let you know my musicial background. So here are the years and the bands I was most into during those times.

Early 80's to 1985-Hard rock, metal
AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Van Halen, KISS, WASP, Motley Crue, Ratt, Scorpions and Twisted Sister.

1986-1988-Speed Metal and Punk rock
Metal: Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, Overkill, Kreator, Destruction, Motorhead, Venom, Celtic Frost, Dark Angel and Testament.
Punk:Misfits, Exploited, GBH, Discharge, COC, DRI, Angry Samoans and Broken Bones.

1989-Classic hard rock and early glam
Rainbow, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, New York Dolls and Sweet

1990-1993-Glam, commercial metal
Hanoi Rocks, Faster Pussycat, Bang Tango, Cinderella, Skid Row, White Lion, Tigertailz and Extreme.

By 1994 the amount of new metal coming out had died down or changed. From that point on I was listening to all of the above bands and very few new bands.
The only things that have changed much since 1994 as far as music are these categories that I now like:

Guitar gods: Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughn
Surf: Ventures, Surfaris, Dick Dale, Bomboras and Satan's Pilgrims
Obscure early metal:Pentagram, Bang, Cactus, Captain Beyond and Sir Lord Baltimore
Stoner:Sleep, Electric Wizard, Fu Manchu, Witchcraft and Acid King

That pretty much brings me up to where I am today.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

One Year

As I have already mentioned today is the one year anniversary of my blog. I am not bragging, but I am just pleased and surprised that I have stuck with this thing for a whole year. I am not a writer and I don't have any aspirations of being one. I am a music fan and I used to like to write for my own enjoyment. I thought this blog would allow me analyze my views on music more and improve my writing at the same. I think that I accomplished both of these goals to some extent. Sometimes I feel like I am writing about real topics and other times it feels like a heavy metal version of Seinfeld. In that I am talking about nothing, but unfortunately my blog isn't as funny or as clever as Seinfeld. I would like to thank everyone who has visited, read and or commented on my blog. I realize that having a blog about such a limited topic narrows down the number of people who will want to read it, but I am writing about what I like and that's what matters to me.

I think several regular and semi-regular readers are on vacation this week, but still I will give you a one time opportunity. I have spouted my opinions here week after week and I have asked for your opinions on a number of occasions. So now you can ask me any question you like, go ahead ask.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Good and bad in metal in 1986

Overall 1986 was a very good year for metal. Once a month I write a twenty year old album review and in December I will do my top twenty albums of 1986. Today I decided to list five good and five bad things that happened in metal during the year. I tried to refrain from just listing an album as being good or bad and concentrate on other things. Here they are, feel free to add your own.

The Bad
-Death of former Thin Lizzy singer/bass player/founder Phil Lynott. A great player who was just getting started on life after Thin Lizzy.
-Death of Metallica bass player Cliff Burton. He was a real talent who died way too young.
-Warner Brothers and Tony Iommi decide to release The Seventh Star album under the Black Sabbath name despite the fact that it is really a Tony Iommi solo project.
-Vivian Campbell leaves Dio. Life would go on for Dio and Campbell would have success with Whitesnake and Def Leppard, but he was my favorite Dio guitarist.
-Mark Free leaves King Kobra. I am probably the only one that cared about this, but he was a very good singer with this band.

The Good
+Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne give Metallica the opening slot on their tour. A huge boost for both bands.
+Motorhead come back with their first studio lp in three years. Metal needed Motorhead.
+Alice Cooper puts on the make-up again and goes heavy metal after numerous years of playing pop. His album is just okay, but his tour is huge and a new generation of hard rock fans embrace Alice.
+Def Leppard make a comeback of sorts by playing at the Monsters of rock festival.
+David Lee Roth wastes no time assembling a super group of sorts and releasing an album just a year after breaking up with Van Halen.

***Wednesday is my blogaversary so be there or be uh, read about it in the archives.***

Monday, June 19, 2006

Current playlist

I have been listening to these:

AC/DC-Let there be rock, Highway to hell and Ballbreaker
The best of the Ventures
Accept-Metal Heart and Balls to the wall
The Sword-Age of winters
Kik Tracee-Field Trip
Halloween-Don't metal with evil
Death Angel-Art of dying

What are you listening to?

AC/DC-Let there be rock, 1977

For many people there was one band that was the first band that you really got into. For a lot of people around my age it was Kiss. For me it was AC/DC for sure. They were the first band I really got into so they can either be thanked or blamed for that. I like some of the Brian Johnson material, but it's like a different world from the Bon Scott material. Bon Scott was a solid singer, a good showman and a fantastic writer who could effortlessly blend humor in with catchy lyrics. There was only one Bon Scott. This is not my favorite album of theirs, but it's likely my third favorite from their long career. However I think it was a real transition album for them. The previous albums showed some sparks, but they lacked some energy at times as well. However "Let there be rock" doesn't pretend to be anything but a solid rock album plain and simple. The riffs are simple yet straight ahead, the vocals are rough but fit in perfectly and even the production has a good raw sound to it. The band sounds excited on this album and perhaps that's what they needed at this point so that remained hungry. The next two albums "Powerage" and "Highway to hell" were their best in my opinion. Yet I feel it was this album that really began to pave the way for those later releases. Just listen to "Dog eat dog" and you can hear Angus pulling everything out of the simplest chords, Bon Scott uses the lyrics to their fullest, the backing vocals are rough like they should and the rest of the band is giving their awe. There is a difference between playing the music and milking it for all it's worth. In their prime this band could do the latter choice as well as anyone in the business. AC/DC had some weak albums later in their career and their energy was scattered at best later on, but there is no doubt that were on fire in the 70's. Other favorite tracks include the title track, Whole lotta Rosie and Overdose.

The revolving door

I originally wrote this post back in October. I decided to re-post it as not very many people were reading my blog back then. Enjoy!

It seems that very few bands keep the same line-up for a long period time. Motley Crue have done well to have only had six members since the release of the first album. We always used to joke about the Exploited changing band members like most people change underwear and they probably have had more band members that any other punk band, but what about metal bands? What metal/hard rock band has had the most members? Black Sabbath comes to mind due to the changes made after it was just Tony Iommi and a backing band because they went through a number of guys just between 86-90. Whitesnake might be up there as well. They went through a number of guys before 1987 and a lot of different people have played on tours over say the last ten years. However, my guess would be the band who has had the most members is LA Guns. In an interview with Metal Sludge last year, Phil Lewis was asked to name everyone who had been in the band and it was like 26 or 27 guys. Even though they have not done a lot of studio albums, LA Guns have toured a lot over the last 17 years so I guess that accounts for all of the members. However, unlike Black Sabbath, Whitesnake or even the Exploited, there hasn't even been one member who has been in every version of LA Guns. Traci Guns was in every version from the beginning until like two years ago. He hasn't been on the last two tours or the last album because he has been doing BOD, Phil Lewis and Steven Riley are in the current version and those guys have played on fewer Guns albums than Traci. Well, I would say that 27 members is a lot of guys for a band that has only produced two good albums (the first two) although I have heard the new album is supposed to be good. Let me know if you can think of a metal/hard rock that has had more members. I am trying to think more of bands than just solo artists although Whitesnake are really just a solo band. However, if I counted solo acts then Alice Cooper is probably up there as well with the number of guys who have played with him and the Nuge and Ozzy probably have high numbers as well.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day

My father who I call "Paw" is a very patient and kind person. He has probably had to be to have put up with me when I was teenager. Yet he has been supportive and always been there to answer questions. My father is 72 and we live next to my parents so now I see him almost every day and he loves to see his grandchildren. My father quit school when he was 14 to help his father keep up the farm. He didn't get married until he was almost 30. They had a son a year later and me six years after that. I didn't get see my dad as much as I would have liked growing up because he worked second shift at his job. Still he played ball with us, took us fishing and did things with us when he could. Yet I really didn't get to know my dad that well until I graduated from high school. I didn't decide to go to college until I was 22 so for a few years I worked second shift at the same warehouse my father did, but in a different department. So we drove together and talked a lot and I learned more about my father during those few years than I had in the previous 18. I have learned from him to work hard, try to be patient (I'm still trying) and many other lessons. I am grateful to have a father like him, I certainly love and respect him very much.
I always wanted kids, but there was a time when I wondered if we would get to have children. It was a stressful time and it took a while, but eventually I became a father in March of 2004. We both thought it would be a boy for some reason, but I was thrilled when Metalgirl came into the world screaming. Earlier this year Metalboy was born, he came almost four weeks early and he came on my father's birthday. I try to be a good father, but sometimes it's trying and tiring. Being flexible is part of the job as so is learning as you go so that's what I am doing. I am not perfect, but I am trying to do well. I do thank the Lord for blessing us with two great children.

My wife wrote about Father's Day on her blog as well.

Have a great Father's Day!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

What's coming up?

My blogaversary is this coming week, I will have been blogging for one year on Wednesday the 21st. So I will have some kind of post about that on Wednesday. I thought about re-posting some old stuff to celebrate the event, but I think that I have already re-posted the three decent posts I wrote from last year. Maybe I can scrounge up one more decent old post though. Here are some other topics coming up this week.

AC/DC-Let there be rock review
Manowar-Fighting the world
Five good/five bad things that happened in metal in 1986.

Maybe something about Father's Day on Sunday.

Have a good week!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Kiss-Destroyer, 1976

So here is an album that many fans consider to be the definitive Kiss album while others think it's overrated. Kiss had a major hit with Alive (1975) and they were poised to become even bigger with the next album. Strangely enough "Beth" would be the single from this album that would really hit. My question about this album is can it be great even though it has two poor songs on it? You can argue and tell me you like Beth, but to me I just can't see liking this song unless your wife or girlfriend is named Beth. My wife is not named Beth so I think it's a weak song, but Great Expectations is worse, actually it's far worse. Outside of those two the rest is good to great as we open with "Detroit Rock City" which is probably one of the two most recognizable Kiss songs ever done. "King of the night time world" isn't hugely different from anything they had done before, but it succeeds with some energy and enthusiasm. "God of thunder" is so awesome that it almost wipes out all of crappy things that Gene has done over the years, the key word being almost. "Flaming youth" is maybe a little overlooked and it shouldn't be, it's an example of Kiss being slick without being too polished. "Sweet Pain" is good with some nice vocals, but nothing fancy. "Shout it out loud" is a great anthem and perhaps even the second or third best song on the album. "Do you love me" is a typical Paul song to some extent, but always seemed to me to be a great closing track for the album.
So, yes I will say it's a great album despite two weak songs. If nothing else the fantastic cover and the fact that the huge majority of the album sounds so good thirty years later puts it over the hump and into the great category. I used to be a big Kiss fan, but the last ten years have been trying. However all I need to do is listen to one of the first six studio albums and I realize why I like them so much and why they still have an audience today.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Operation:Mindless Crime?

I just heard about this, but it happened a couple of days ago so things may have cleared up since then. It seems that Queensryche were arrested at the Amsterdam airport for carrying illegal firearms. Geoff Tate's wife is saying that her husband uses a prop gun in the band's stageshow. The original article is here from Knac.

Freaks and Geeks

This was a great show that unfortunately only lasted one year. It was on NBC during the 1999-2000 TV season. It was set in Michigan during the 1980-1981 school year. It mainly focused on a brother and sister. The brother was a freshmen and one of the geeks. His older sister was a smart kid starting to hang out with the freaks. The freaks were slackers who talked about sex, drugs and hard rock/metal. The show plays a lot of music from the late 70's-early 80's. There are references of songs played by Rush, Van Halen, Ted Nugent and a number of other bands. The reason was it so good was that the kids acted like real high school kids. Kids were awkward, kids could be mean and and it wasn't always easy, but the show is also funny as hell. Unfortunately NBC had the show off for a while during the World Series and they changed nights on it. They also refused to show an episode they found to be to rough despite having advertised it the week before. Fortunately the entire series came out on DVD two years ago and I have played every episode several times.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Defining the decade

This might be tough, but I was thinking about what albums I would pick if I were asked by a younger person "What was metal and hard rock like in the 1980's?" If I had to pick just ten albums that I think gave a good basic overview of metal in the 1980's then here are the ones that I would select. That doesn't mean that this is in any way my top ten of the decade. I tried to pick a good variety of albums based on style and importance and I didn't allow myself to pick more than one album by a band.

Van Halen-1984
Metallica-Master of puppets
Guns and Roses-Appetite for destruction
Slayer-Reign in blood
Motorhead-Ace of spades
Iron Maiden-Powerslave
Judas Priest-Screaming for vengeance
Ozzy-Blizzard of Ozz
Def Leppard-Pyromania
Dio-Holy Diver

Anyone else want to have a go at it?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Skid Row, 1989

As 1989 began it seemed as though most of the commercial hard rock bands that were hitting it big were coming out that huge LA scene that had thriving for most of the decade. Yet a New Jersey band known for their raw energy and great live shows were signed to Atlantic records. The fact that Dave "Snake" Sabo was friends with one Jon Bon Jovi didn't hurt matter either. Skid Row has also recently brought in former Madam-X singer Sebastian Bach. I remember this album just kind of showing up without a lot of build-up and it had a simple cover with the band picture in black and white and the ragged red band logo smeared on the top portion of the cover as well. It didn't take long for the band to get radio airplay, get played on MTV and they locked up spots opening for Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. I liked the album a lot then and I think 1989 was a fairly good year for commercial hard rock ecspecially compared to 1988 which was a bit of a lame year for that style of music. Skid Row's debut divided it's time between solid rockers like "Youth gone wild", "Sweet little sister" and slower songs like "I remember you" and "18 and life". The band manages to do well at both kinds of songs. They certainly broke no new ground musicly, but they brought a lot of attitude and Sebastian Bach was a very good frontman. The bottle throwing incident only helped to strengthen their reputation and get them more attention. I think their image helped them a lot, other than Bach they were an ugly scruffy bunch who dressed more like fans than like performers . If they had come out of LA and had sparkly outfits and poofy hair then I am sure they would have made as great an impact despite the music being good. I think audiences were ready for and east coast band like this. I think it's not as sharp as I remember it being back then, but still good fun. Surprisingly enough this is my favorite album fo theirs. I say surprisingly because the next two lp's went in a heavier direction. Normally that would appeal to me, but I think Skid Row became more oridinary as they became heavier. This album still holds a certain appeal for me today and I was glad to find it in the bargain bin a few months ago as my tape had worn out.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Urine the jungle, baby!

Guns and Roses had bottles of urine thrown at them at the Download festival the other day. you can read more about it at Metal Sludge here.

I guess the good news if you are G-n-R is:
-Your odds of getting hit are less than if you were in a normal band that only had 4-5 members.
-They reportedly do numerous costume changes as it is so they have extra clothes in case the clothes get covered in pee.
-It couldn't get much worse. Unless of course they start flinging poo like monkeys in the zoo.

Honestly if you promise something (like an album) and don't deliver then you shouldn't expect to be welcomed with open arms. They didn't deserve this, but it is kind of funny.

The record store

In 1984 there were two record stores that I got to go to on occasion. Both were Sound Waves which was a fairly big chain around here then. One was 20 minutes away in a shopping center and the other was 30 minutes away in a mall. Then in spring of 1985 I couldn't believe it when an independent record store opened just 10 minutes from where I lived. The guy who owned was there most of the time and he was a real fan of the music. Unfortunately I think he was more a music fan than he was a businessman. Going into that store between 85 and 87 was a great time as the owner was a metal fan and he tried to cater to that audience. You could go there and buy indie metal albums, band shirts, buttons, black light posters or those big tapestries. I spent a lot of time and money there as a teenager. You would walk in and they would have incense burning, something like Grim Reaper or Accept would be playing on the stereo and the owner would tell you about what new releases were cool. You wouldn't get that at Sound Waves that's for sure. You go to Sound Waves and if you looked for too long then a snooty college age kid would come and ask if you needed help. Really I think this meant "You look too young to have a job so please don't try to steal any albums or I will call the cops".Unfortunately around the fall of 87 the owner of the indie record store moved his store into part of his father's gas station because he was having problems paying the rent. The new mall had opened in Spring of 87 and it was not far away and they had a Record World and a Tape World. The feel just wasn't the same in the new place because it was kind of crammed and they didn't play the stereo or burn incense any more. A year later the owner of the record store opened a biker clothing shop in another location. His father tried running the record store by himself for maybe another year and a half before giving up on it. It was a shame to see it go, but I got some good albums there and I remember it very well.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

What's coming up?

It seems like a lot of people have disappeared lately, but perhaps they will return. This week I hope to have the following out.

Kiss-Destroyer review
Skidrow review
Something on a record store I went to a lot as a teenager.
Something about top frontmen in metal, it may be done as a top ten.

Probably some other stuff as well, but I don't know what yet. Have a good week.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Metal Church-The dark, 1986

To close out Underrated band week here is my review of Metal Church's The dark.

Background-Metal Church started up in Seattle in the early 80's. They eventually released their debut in 1984, but they quickly signed by Elektra and the debut was re-released in 1985. The Dark was their second album and it came out in 1986.

First Impression-I bought this on cassette in the fall of 1986 and it was the first release I had heard by them. I bought it just based on reviews and I wasn't dissapointed. I thought it was heavy and very direct, but very organized. I listened to this a lot throughout the rest of the 80's, but got away from it through most of the 90's. I did rediscover it again maybe three years ago.

I am putting in the cd to see if this album still holds up or not.

Ton of bricks- Nothing like a good intro to build up interest in a song. We have a simple, but solid drum beat and the guitar sounds like it's warming up. Then they tear into the song and it hits well, like the like song title. Nice opener that sets the tone.
Start the fire- Not one of my favorites 20 years ago, but now it sounds fresher. It's a good example of the band's ability to control the pace and get the most out of a simple song.
Method to the madness- A little bit different for them. David Wayne trying to sing more than growl and it works overall. Not great, but perhaps a good change of pace at this point in the album
Watch the children pray-Their big hit, well not exactly yet the video did get played during the day occasionaly as well as being a Headbanger's Ball staple in 86-87. David Wayne at his best, pulling and addding life to a strong, plodding song.
Over my dead body- A fairly fast track to compensate for the slow song that came before it I guess. I enjoyed it, but not all that memorable compared to the majority of the other songs on the album.
The dark- Wow, even better than I remember it being. Very crunchy and heavy and there is one part after a chorus where everything comes to a head and you just know you have to bang your head.
Psycho- This to me was always one of the best one, two punches I can remember from 1986 with the title track being one and this song being two. I have never seen them live, but can just imagine that it would have been to play this after The dark. Much faster than the previous song, but a similar heavy feel. Really aggressive for this band.
Line of death- Another fast song, but unlike
Over my dead body this one has quite a bit more force behind it. They really plow into it and don't let up. Well done.
Burial at sea- Another slow, heavy song but it has mixed results. It's heavy, but a little too slow as I feel like I am having to force myself to pay attention at times. Not bad, but could have been a little tighter.
Western Alliance-
The last track comes on fairly fast, but it's perhaps a little lighter in tone than some of the other fast songs on this album. I like it and it works, but more good than great.

Overall I think this album holds up very well after 20 years. I think that Metal Church played solid metal with no gimmicks and it worked. There are a few spots with the production is a little too smooth and that may give this album a slightly lighter feel than the debut. However, that's really a minor point. In 1986 I think this didn't quite make my top ten list and I not sure it will make the list when I re-do at the end of this year. Yet I think it's closer to making the list now than it was 20 years ago which says something about how this album has held up.
I think even today people are not exactly sure how to categorize Metal Church. In 85-86 they were often lumped in with speed metal because of their look and the type of bands they toured with. I don't think that's entirely accurate just because they didn't have enough fast songs to really be seen as speed metal. Power Metal was not a label that was used much back then and some people use it to describe Metal Church, but largely it's used more for European bands like Helloween and Hammerfall which are different than Metal Church. I almost feel like they are more like a classic metal sound. Although they are heavier than say Maiden and Priest, I think they are a little closer to that sound than some other sub-genre. No matter what the label that you slao on them is, they are heavy and solid. I used the label thing also to show that perhaps this is part of the reason as to why they slipped through the cracks to some extent and ended up being a little underrated.

Next month's 20 year old album review will be Cinderella's Night Songs.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Looking for help

Originally this was going to be my 20 year old album review of Metal Church's the dark, but blogger was out most of the day and I didn't get enough time to work on that. I will have it out on Saturday though. Instead I just wanted to put out a call and see if anyone might be interested in writing a guest post on my blog in early August. I am likely going on vacation for two days so I would need two volunteers to write a post each. It could be a review, a story or just some topic related to hard rock or metal. I know two days isn't much, but around the beginning of the year I decided to make this blog be updated almost daily so I would like to keep up the pace. I guess my blog doesn't get much traffic but maybe some of you would be interested. Just put in the comments if you are interested and I will contact you closer to the date.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

668-The beast that came late

I was surprised at the number of posts on Tuesday about it being 666. I guess I was just caught up in work and Underrated band week and didn't get around to writing anything concerning it. So better late than never. I want to tie this into Underrated band week so I was just going to mention that Detroit's Halloween released their first new album in 15 years on Tuesday. I have yet to hear it, but may get it some time. I actually just heard their 1984 debut "Don't metal with evil". It has a bit of a cult following and it's pretty good. I will wait until October to give it a proper review though. There was a local indie record store that popped up in my area in 1985. I remember being there and the owner was telling me about this band Halloween and he showed me the tape he had behind the counter and he was saying how great they were. I asked if he had another copy and he said no so I never got to hear them back then. That's a good example of how not to run a good record store. The object behind a record store is to sell the records not hoard them. Anyway sorry I am two days too late for the occasion. I will make sure to celebrate today. So if you are driving in central Maryland today and you see a bald thirty something guy blasting Maiden or Slayer out of his car and giving the devil horn salute then that would be me.

How does one become underrated?

I guess it depends on the individual band. It could be a matter of lack of label support or lack of promotion, those have certainly happened before. Failure to land a good touring spot might be a factor as well. The wrong time could be a reason as a band could release a great metal album, but their style might not be in so they go unnoticed. The wrong place might be a factor as well because a band from a less prominent scene may not get as much of a push or attention as a band from a hot scene.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tora Tora-Wild America, 1992

Normally I don't like to review cd's that are no longer in print, but I will make an exception for this one. I got my copy of Wild America for $4.00 used like two years ago at the record store and I think you can get it for around that used at Amazon or eBay if you look for a while. This was Tora Tora's follow-up album to their fine debut "Surprise Attack". This Memphis based band sounded a little like Tesla, but they rocked a bit more an had even more of a groove to their sound. I remember "Amnesia" and "Faith Healer" actually getting some airplay on the local radio station back then. These guys were surprisingly smooth here considering it's just their second album. They crank out solid blues flavored hard rock like they have been at it for a long time. Unfortunately it was the summer of 1992 and grunge was continuing to take over while commercial metal like this was being shoved aside. It may have helped if they could have gotten a major opening, but that didn't happen. Instead they were out touring clubs as a headliner. I saw them in August of '92 in a club with no AC and very little ventilation and it was packed. I almost blacked out about halfway through their set, but I didn't want to have to leave and miss them. So I stood near the doorway so I could get some air and enjoyed the rest of a great set. Both of their albums are really fine, but I prefer this one as they seem a little more confident in what they are doing.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Play DJ

Let's say you have a semi-cool local radio station and they are going to allow you the chance to play one album in it's entirety and it has to be an album that you think is generally underrated.

What album do you pick?

I would pick Armored Saint's Symbol of salvation because I think it's a great album by a great band that never got their fair due.

Four underrated bands

The year 1986 was a pretty good one for metal, quite likely the second best year in the 1980's for metal (1984 was the golden year). A lot of really good albums from veterans like Iron Maiden and Motorhead plus breakout albums for bands like Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth. Yet down below the cover story bands were the others. I wanted to talk briefly about four bands who had really good debuts in 1986, but you may not have heard of any of these bands.

At War- These guys were from Virginia Beach, Virginia and their debut was "Ordered to kill". It was a straight forward speed metal effort, a little like Motorhead, but faster and edgier. They were on tiny New Renaissance records so they didn't receive a lot of notice. This is available on cd.

Cyclone-These guys were from Belgium and the debut was "Brutal Destruction". Think Exodus "Bonded by blood" with stronger vocals and perhaps even better hooks. They received some press, but they never toured much and they seemed to disappear. Not available on cd.

Executioner-Boston three piece released their debut "In the name of metal". The production on all three of their albums was poor, but that doesn't matter because their raw enthusiasm and NWOBHM meets early speed metal sound shines through. Another New Renaissance band and they toured with At War in 1986. Not available on cd although there has been some mention from New Renaissance that it may someday get released.

Whiplash-More than likely the most known of these four bands, but more for their connections to other bands. This New Jersey based band's debut was called "Power and pain" and they had a fairly original thrash sound. Very heavy with some cool underlying riffs and some very angry vocals. Drummer Tony Scaglioni left the band to take a three month stint in Slayer in late 1986 while Dave Lombardo took some time off. These guys were on Roadrunner and did three albums in the 80's before breaking up. They did reform in the mid-90's and put out a few more albums. This is available on cd.

Monday, June 05, 2006


I am interrupting Underrated band week for a brief post making fun of Axl Rose. Here you go.

From unknown to known

I am doing underrated band week here at my blog. So I attempting to shout out praise about bands that I think are underrated. I remember being in tenth grade and buying albums by bands that I had never heard before like King Kobra, Loudness and Grim Reaper. I took chances on these bands because I wanted to hear something new. I had a friend at the time who would say these bands were "nobody" because they were not big yet. I never understood that mentality because almost everyone starts at the bottom before they become "somebody" or get known. I had a friend in college who listened to maybe a dozen bands and refused to listen to anyone he didn't already know of. He waited for the radio and Mtv to find new music. Word of mouth and tape trading was a great way for bands who weren't getting a lot of radio play to get known back in the 80's. Of course you have to want to hear new music and be a little open for this to work. I have heard a lot of bands over the last twenty some years. I have heard good, bad and in between, but I am certainly glad that I went out of my to give new bands a chance rather than waiting for the radio, Mtv or some other media source to tell me what I should listen to.

Pentagram-First daze here, 2002

Here's a band from Northern Virginia that has gone through numerous line-ups, but still managed to release material in each of the last four decades. Vocalist Bobby Liebling is the only member who has been with every version of the band. They are also a huge influence on doom metal and stoner rock yet a lot of people may not know who they are. This is probably largely due to the fact that all of their releases have been on small labels. They formed around 1970, but their first lp wasn't released until 1985. They only released a few singles in the 1970's, but this album is a collection of some of their best songs from that decade. Most commonly compared to Black Sabbath due to the slow, often sluggish riffs, but the band always maintained that Blue Cheer was their biggest inspiration. Pentagram's guitarist claimed that they recorded whole or parts of over 100 songs between 1970 and 1976, but some were done on perhaps not the greatest equipment so not all of the songs have lasted over the years. The band has also re-recorded a lot of their songs over the years as they have done seven studio albums between 1985 and 2004 and each album contains at least a couple of their songs that were originally done in the 1970's. The dozen tracks here are some of the very the best that they have done in their career. The subtlety of their sound that really works well as it's oftentimes blended with some heavy riffs and off the cuff solos. At times there is almost a dreamy quality to the music as well. While listening to these songs it is difficult for me to believe that hese guys didn't get signed back then. Although they were apparently close to getting signed by Colombia records in 1975, but it fell through. Their songwriting is strong and the playing ability is definitely there as well. I highly recommend this release as a starting point for anyone wanting to familiarize yourself with this great band.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Underrated band week

This week I will be tackling a theme that may only appeal to me and this is underrated bands. I listen to a lot of bands and with some of them I realize that most people just have not heard them, but other there are some bands where I just wonder why they were not bigger than they were. A band could be underrated because of lack of promotion by their label or maybe their style just didn't appeal to a wider audience. Yet whatever the reason there are bands that maybe didn't get the credit they deserve. This is up the opinion of the individual as well. I might think a band is underrated and you might they think they did as well as they could for what they are doing. Whatever the case, this week I will focus on bands that I think were or are underrated.

Topics for the week will include:
Pentagram-First daze here review
Metal Church-The dark(20 year old album review)
Tora Tora-Wild America review

Also I will have something about what makes a band underrated, maybe something about underrated albums and perhaps one more topic
. If anyone says any of my posts stink this week then I will just claim that they were underrated.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Scorpions-Blackout, 1982

Consistent is a word that perhaps best defines the career of this long time band has had. They have changed sounds a little here and there, but have had a general sound that they have maintained over the years . I think the Scorpions real prime was the period in from 1979 until 1984. This included Lovedrive, Animal Magnetism, Love at first sting and this album Blackout. Most fans of this band agree that one of their major strengths is their ability to do heavy rock songs like the title track to this album, "Now" and "Dynamite" and be able to turn right around and produce ballads like "No one like you". I think a lot of their material always had a great flow to it. It's not clunky or choppy, most of the songs come on and they just go. I don't if that came natural and they were just that strong at writing or if it really took a lot of practice to perfect that sound. I would have to think that they made a producer's job fairly easy because it just seems like he wouldn't have to touch up much on their music to make is sound good. "Blackout" is probably my favorite album as it was the first album of theirs that I really got into. I think it alternates well between rockers and ballads and manages to keep things interesting all through the album. I was fortunate enough to see the Scorpions in 1988 at Van Halen's Monsters of rock. I mainly went to see Metallica who were good, but the Scorpions played fourth of five bands and they were unreal. I will never forget how they came running onto the stage in 85 degree heat and tore into "Blackout" and they never let up for 90 minutes. Van Halen had no chance of competing with that and you could even see it in the crowd. The Scorpions ruled that day and they are still going strong over thirty years after they began.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Top ten favorite bands

You could look at my profile and see what bands I like, but I decided to jot down my current top ten. I say current because it changes from time to time. The top seven are probably just about always the same, but the others might change from time to time. So here is my top ten favorite bands in order.
1)Black Sabbath
2)Iron Maiden
5)Van Halen
6)Judas priest
7)Led Zeppelin
Other bands that have been in my top ten for a time in recent years include Overkill, Slayer, AC/DC, Alice Cooper and Kiss.

Do you have a top ten?

Slayer song

I just read a brief article over at about a song off of Slayer's upcoming album. The song is called "Jihad" and talks about 9-11 from the point of view of the terrorists. So this article is saying that the idea behind the song is creating some controversy and it may very well create even more of a stir once the album is actually released. Hard to really judge without having heard the song or knowing the lyrics, but my feeling is Slayer are examining the motivation rather making any kind of judgment because that is the way they have always been. They have done some dark topics in the past and their darkest topics have about been real events. It will be interesting to hear this song and I am looking forward to their new album despite the fact that for me it has been a long time since they have had a great album. Slayer and controversy have certainly walked hand in hand over the years.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I had dreaded Summer in recent years because it was the busiest time at my work, but now I don't dread it as much. I might get to go on a vacation this year for the first time since we had kids as I believe late 2003 was the last time my wife and I went on vacation. Gardening and running are two of my favorite things to do so I get to do both of those a lot in the Summer. We are finally starting to plant some flowers out back. We have been here for three years, but are just recently getting around to adding some color to the lawn. I like gardening a lot, but until recently my mentality had always been "If I can't eat it then why grow it?". I am slowly getting away from that and trying to see the point of planting flowers. We are starting to think about doing a deck or patio. So on my off days this Summer I will put on best AC/DC shirt, wrinkled shorts and worn shoes and get out there and enjoy the sun while I can.

Kreator-Coma of souls, 1990

Kreator were a very active band between 1985 and 1990 as they cranked out five lp's and two ep's during that period. They also went from being a bunch of kid playing noise to being the leaders of the German speed metal scene. In 1987 their Terrible Certainty album was a huge surprise to me as it was leaps and bounds above their previous efforts. Then in 1989 they released Extreme Aggression which was certainly good, but almost came across as a slightly watered down version of Terrible Certainly. By late 1990 the future for speed metal was probably a little sketchy as only a few bands like Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax had truly made it at least fairly big. I wondered what Kreator would do and I was overall pleased with the direction they took. Coma of souls is somewhat more varied in style than any of their previous albums. It contains some truly blistering tracks like "When the sun burns red" and "World Beyond" that show aggression and heaviness that I wasn't sure they were capable of. It also has tracks like "People of the lie" and "Terror Zone" that show the bands ability to be heavy, but vary the pace a bit. This is easily the band's second best album. My only real complaint is with the production or rather how it sounds on some songs on the album. The production is a little thin at times and perhaps this takes away from some of the power that I think could have been there. Still a really good speed metal album that holds up well today.