Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Interview with George Neal of Halloween

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Well, it's Halloween and fittingly enough I have an interview with Geaorge Neal who is the bass player for Halloween. Halloween are from Detroit and they formed back in the early 1980's. They did a few albums and then continued to play a few shows on and off in the 1990's. They are still going playing shows today and working on material for a new album.

MM -Who are your influences?
George Neal- Obviously KISS and ALICE COOPER. Before we became HALLOWEEN we were called BITCH and we did a lot of cover songs. They varied from SCORPIONS, IRON MAIDEN, DAVID BOWIE, BLACK SABBATH, AND OZZY during the RANDY RHODES era. You will find a lot of the RANDY RHODES influence in Rick Craig’s playing on the Don’t Metal With Evil album.

MM -Back in the 1980’s did you ever play many shows outside of your home state?
George Neal -After the Don’t Metal With Evil album came out we started to get radio play here in Detroit. Eventually we branched off further from home. We headed over to Canada and did some shows then we ended up headlining a tour along the east coast and down south.
We eventually hooked up shows with bands such as SAVATAGE, CRIMSON GLORY. Not sure of the timeline of those two bands, but it was either the late 80’s or early 90’s. So we did play outside of Michigan a lot.

MM-You used the tagline “The Heavy Metal Horror Show". What did your stage show involve back around the time of your debut “Don’t metal with evil”?
George Neal -It started back when the band was still called BITCH before I came along. The basement that the band would rehearse at had posters of naked girls everywhere . When October rolled around (Halloween Season of course) we would decorate the basement with black lights, spider webs, candles, and skulls. People would come to see the band practice and comment on how cool it looked. Eventually all of the Halloween decorations ended up on the truck with the equipment and it started from there. That’s when the seed for the band HALLOWEEN was planted. The stage show eventually grew to include pillars, gates and a cemetery scene. Kept on growing into a multi-level style stage with drum risers, etc.

MM-What is your stage show like now?
George Neal -The stage show varies from a wall of Marshall Amps to truck loads of Halloween props and stage gear. We now have so much props that the storage is busting out at the seams. As a matter of fact one of the props includes a real Christmas tree that we used back in the early 90’s, but it looks a lot cooler now that it is dead with cobwebs. Our setup depends on the type of venue we are playing.

MM- Did you ever have a stage prop not work like it was supposed to?
George Neal -Nothing as drastic as SPINALTAP. Thankfully none of us were trapped in a pod. Back during BITCH we were using pyro and a flame projector went off while Brian was standing directly over it. It melted his spandex pants to his legs and at that time he would wear painted skulls on his face from clown makeup. Unfortunately the makeup was oil based. The impression of the skulls were burned into his skin and he lost some of his hair. Brian continued to do two songs before taking a trip to the hospital. I was sitting in the waiting room when he came out. Me being the smartass that I am with no sense of timing. I tried to cheer him up by saying “ Look at the bright side Brian, now the skulls are burned onto your face, you should not have a problem getting them right every time, just trace the lines.”
A few years later it was my turn. We were playing a show and during the intro the gates were rigged with flash and gunpowder. They went off pre-maturely when I was leaning against the gate. I did not notice. The funny thing was that people were screaming and yelling and I thought to myself hey this was a cool crowd really into the show! Next thing I knew a Roadie was running across the stage with a wet towel and draped it over my entire head. I was a bit pissed at first because I thought someone was messing around and I had just wasted two cans of Aqua net hairspray in my hair. Which by the way ignites quite nicely. The roadie yelled to me that my head was on fire. During this whole time the intro tape is still playing. I ran off to the side of the stage to get to a mirror. When I touched the side of my head my hair came off in my hands. I reached for my trusty can of Aqua Net and sprayed what was left of my hair back to my head. It was a bit stiff, but it worked. Needless to say I looked like the singer from RATT for at least 6 months after that.

MM-Did you ever get any interest from major labels in the 1980’s or early 1990s?
George Neal -Yes we have gotten a few and it all seemed to be the same story when we spoke to them. One instance was when an A&R from CAPITAL RECORDS came out to see us. He said he loved the band and wanted to sign us but wouldn’t know how to market us. He said there was not specific category for a band like us. We weren’t a glam or hair band. our music wasn’t “Poppie”. We didn’t play the typical pop metal or write songs about hot chicks in convertibles or strippers. It was heavy, we wore gore makeup (not pretty makeup). He didn’t know really what market to put us in. Our response was Metallica didn’t have a market when they came out, but eventually someone created one for them. That has always seemed one of the biggest problems we‘ve had to endure. Nobody knew where we fit.
One of the other problems was the mix-up between HALLOWEEN AND HELLOWEEN. We had record labels offer us a deal if we would change our name. We refused to because we already had enough time and effort invested in HALLOWEEN and we were around before HELLOWEEN. The name HALLOWEEN fit the music and what we were doing. It’s who we are and will always be. If you take the time and nurture something that is new and different, you can create a category. Look how many bands came out after METALLICA that sound just like them. So yes you can say we had some interest from some record labels.

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MM-What was the Detroit metal scene like in the 1980's?
George Neal-Back in the 80’s the metal scene was like any place else, HUGE. It wasn’t just music back then, it was a way of life. No matter where you played, the venue would always be packed. People lived for music back then. It wasn’t really all about going out to hook up with someone. They were actually there for the music. If they did hook up with someone that was just an added bonus. Just as it is now over in Europe. We just got back from Germany and the people that were at the shows were so into the music….it made our 80’s look lame. We are looking forward to heading back to Europe someday soon.

MM-Back in the mid-late 1980’s did you ever think about leaving Detroit and going to LA instead?
George Neal -You know, back then it never really crossed our minds. LA was swamped with bands. The band was born here in Detroit and the fans became family to us. I think had we made the decision to move to LA the band would not be together today. There are several bands that jumped into that scene that ended up dieing within a few years. You’ve got some bands now such as POISON and MOTLEY CRUE and a handful of others that are still around, but over 70% of them are gone. I don’t think that the band would have survived the 24 years it has if we were in LA. Not quite sure which is harder….being with a major label for a short time and losing the deal or not having one at all. So I think staying here in Detroit was a good move for us. Back then we would have been lumped in with the bands in LA and currently you would find us on “Where are they now?” on VH1.

MM-Why was your second album shelved for years?
George Neal -We had recorded Victims Of The Night about 1 ½ years after Don’t Metal With Evil. Due to production, engineering , time and money we weren’t able to release it till a few years later. Bill Whyte and the engineer wanted to experiment with triggered drums. They rented the triggers for the drums and had no idea how to use it. During the process of the recording they erased the original drum tracks. Only thing left was the trigger drums so we kept in on the album. We had no other choice at that point. We weren’t even sure if this album was going to be released at all. Years later we were approached by a record distributor asking if we had any un-released material. That is when Victims Of The Night came up. We knew the drum tones were not great, but we knew there were some great songs on that album and in spite of the drum tones Bill Whyte did an awesome job and it would have been a shame to never release those songs.

MM-What were you doing in the 1990’s?
George Neal -We were still playing shows here and there. And started recording No One Gets Out Album. We actually recorded that album twice. Once here in Detroit at RT audio and once in NJ with Jon Oliva from SAVATAGE who was producing and engineering . When we got to this “awesome” studio in NJ we found out that the recording equipment was less to be desired. Jon and us were told this was the best studio in NJ. When we got there we were in shock. we all stood in the driveway and said “What the fuck are we doing here”. We did what we could recording wise and threw it up against the wall to see what would become of it. Eventually we ended up releasing the RT audio from Detroit version of the album. , but is was awesome working with Jon. We became great friends. A couple of years after No One Gets Out we took a break. Brian and I started working with some friends from another band CRUCIFIED NATION . Brian had hooked up with them and was singing for them. A few months later Brian called me and asked if I wanted to check out this band. I agreed to join and the band became ABANDON. We did that for a few years and had HALLOWEEN on the back burner for awhile. Then eventually it was time to put HALLOWEEN back to the front burner. Rick Craig and Bill White (original guitar player and drummer) hooked up with the band . We wanted two guitar players so we called Donny Allen back from the No One Gets Out album. It was amazing seeing these two guitar players together. It only lasted for a short while. Rick moved to Atlanta. Bill eventually moved on as well. After playing with several different drummers, a few years ago we ended up with this “ fucking beast “ of a drummer Rob Brug who is currently on the Horror Fire Album and soon to be released Terrortory. Rob as helped make a major change to the band not only with his drumming, but his guitar playing and song writing talent and all around musicianship.

MM-I am guessing at least someone in the band loves horror movies. What's your favorite horror movie?
George Neal -I cant speak for everyone, but Brian and I were just talking about this not too long ago. We are not really into the slasher/cuttem’ up movies. Movies we like are along the lines of The Omen, and The Amityville Horror. As a matter of fact , you will find reference to the Amityville Horror on the Horror Fire album. That story intrigued Brian mostly because he grew up in that area where the murders took place. On Horror Fire track 8 and 9 are the ones that refer to the murders. Track 8 is an intro called The End And The Beginning. Which if you listen carefully it’s our version of the murders taking place. Track 9 Nobody’s Home is the story about the murders after they took place. So in answer to your question I would have to say that Amityville Horror is up there.

MM-Do you get more or better offers for playing shows around or on Halloween?
George Neal -No not really. It is pretty steady all year round. Although because of the season people talk about us more and some people who would normally not come to a regular show would come out of curiosity and then keep coming after. We try to pick a choose our shows cautiously around Halloween time because we don’t want to be labeled as a seasonal band.

MM-Do you sell more albums and t-shirts through your site around the holiday?
George Neal -There really is no time when we sell more. We sell our merchandise all year round and it seems we sell more if we have something new out as apposed to the time of year.

MM-What are you currently up to?
George Neal -We are currently in the studio recording a new album titled Terrortory. I will start laying bass tracks by the beginning of November and we are hoping the album will be done by Christmas. But if the past reflects the future it may take a bit longer. You never know when shits going to happen when you are recording.

Thanks to George for doing the interview and Happy Halloween to everyone.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gein and the graverobbers-Gruesome twosome

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Gein and the graverobbers are a heavy, surf-instrumental band from Massachusetts. Their influences include Dick Dale, Glenn Danzig, Slayer and Iron Maiden. This is actually a two disc collection of previously released material as it includes their “Songs in the key of evil” album from 2003, “The passion of the anit-christ” album from 2005 and all of the songs off of the now out of print “Humanoids from the deep” seven inch from 2000. The band likes to wear zombie make-up on stage and have a horror theme running throughout their songs as they use song titles like “The Hungry Grave” and “A night on route 666”. The music is founded on classic surf acts like the Ventures and Dick Dale yet they crank up the speed, toss in some heaviness and don’t let-up. When I first heard mentions of a surf band that was influenced by Iron Maiden I was skeptical. Yet it’s true, they don’t sound exactly like Maiden of course but it’s the twists, turns and form that reminds me of them. I love the deep, heavy almost stripped down sound that they seemed to have mastered. A number of today’s heavy surf bands have a similar stuff, but Gein and the graverobbers have mastered it. You can hear the progression in their sound as the songs from “Humanoids from the deep” are raw and have an undeniable power. “Song in the key of evil” has a slightly slicker production, but the pace changes are more frequent and the band has begun to develop a groove at times. “The passion of the anti-christ” is heavier with a deep, richer sound and they mix up the style more often. This band is one of my favorite current surf bands because they have an undeniable flair and they continually trying to reach out and perfect their approach. Certainly worth checking out.

Remove the veil-Another way home

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I love it when an album has a strong opening track and “The Crux” qualifies as a solid opener. It lashes out with a solid riff and some aggressive vocals and perhaps most importantly it sets the standard for the rest of the rest of the album. Remove the veil are not busting down any barriers or creating any new styles on this album. Yet they are confident and capable enough to pull off a rather deliberate blending of metal and hard rock. Their energy and non-nonsense approach also help them sound relatively fresh even if they aren’t bringing along anything that new. The music is overall somewhat basic and draws on elements of classic metal, 1980’s hard rock and even a little of 1990’s rock. Yet it’s all tied up into a pretty attractive package largely just due to the presentation. They obviously enjoy what they are doing, but it’s just edgy enough to really keep your interest. I admire and welcome the energy that the band brings as they fly through the songs here. I also have to mention the production which manages to pull forth the best parts of their sound without stripping it too much. Too many bands playing this style tend to get overproduced, but fortunately that’s not the case here. The vocals are a little one-dimensional at times, but that could change if they grow as songwriters. My only other concern is where they go from here. They are drawing so much from established styles that their sound may become old rather quick if they don’t show some musical growth. Their musical and writing abilities may need to grow or at least adapt for this band to move on. Although I think and hope that they have a promising career ahead of them.

Interview with Tommy Stewart of Hallows Eve

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Georgia based band Hallows Eve formed back in the early 1980's. They played an early thrash style and cranked out three albums on Metal Blade between 1985 and 1988. They were also featured on the "River's Edge" soundtrack. They broke up in the 1990's but reformed a few years ago and released "Evil never dies". I recently interviewed bass player Tommy Stewart to find out more about the past and the future of this band.

MM-Why did you break up back in the late 80’s?
TS-That was the popular miconception. We didn't break up, lead vocalist Stacy Anderson quit. The band played shows through '94.

MM-What were you guys doing during the 1990’s?
TS-During the 90's I kept trying to put together a new line up for Hallows Eve while playing in small projects. Stacy had a band called Big Twin Din that made a respectable splash.

MM-What kind of impact do you think Hallows Eve had on the metal scene?
TS-I'm not sure that we had any true impact, but we were one of the first thrash bands as the term came. I can tell you we were the first thrash horror metal band that didn't use Satan as a subject. We were more interested in secular horror than supernatural.

MM-Have any bands that have popped up after the 1980’s had an influence on your new music?
TS -I've really enjoyed the death metal scene. I wanted to be heavier and heavier so death seemed like it was headed to where I wanted to be all along.

MM-How did your last album “Evil never dies” compare with your three albums from the 80’s?
TS-Evil Never Dies is our death album. Every band gets an experiment album and this was ours. Basically, Stacy was not back in the band yet, so I played around with it and you got a death-thrash album.

MM-Anything you wish the band had done differently back in the 1980’s?
TS-Wish I had said yes to that Ramones audition. Maybe.

(After reading this answer I wrote back and asked Tommy if he could elaborate on this answer)
Yeah, nobody cared about The Ramones back then and we had just signed a big, long deal with Metal Blade. Monument was the first album of that deal. Well, I met Joey at the Cat club in New york and he asked me if I'd be interested. Gave me a number. I actually said no, but kept the number. The next morning or so, Stacy quit and I called Joey's number he gave me, but he acted like he didn't know what I was talking about. That was in October '88 and DeeDee left in February '89 officially as I read later. It was just a moment. Nothing happened. I always respected The Ramones for the fact that they went to work. They didn't just tour. They were working class guys who went to work. I would have liked that part of it. That's me.

MM-If a fan could only afford to buy one of your albums then which one would you recommend to them?
TS-Death and Insanity, but wait till you hear this next one we're recording right now with Doyle Bright, formerly of Rigor Mortis!

MM-Do you find that you get more and perhaps better gigs around Halloween just because of the band name?
TS-We get double priced offers, but turn them down. We actually like to stay home during that time. our houses rock when it comes to cheesy Halloween stuff! Woo-hoo!

MM-What are your future plans for recording and touring? TS-Recording the new album with the latest line-up! Chris Abbamonte on guitar, Jimmy Gorman on drums and Doyle Bright on guitar and basically producing. With our lead vocalist back we're approaching this album with the idea of it being the definitive Hallows Eve album. This will be the best one and the one to remember

Thanks to Tommy for doing this interview.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Top ten metal songs for Halloween

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Here are my top ten metal songs to listen to for Halloween in no real order.

1-Black Sabbath-Black Sabbath

2-Halloween-Trick or treat

3-Alice Cooper-The ballad of Dwight Frye

4-Venom-Countess Bathory


6-Iron Maiden-Still Life

7-Ozzy-Diary of a madman

8-Cirith Ungol-Toccata in Dm

9-King Diamond-Family Ghost

10-Lizzy Borden-Rod of iron

Some other blogs are doing this topic today as well so check them out.

Bring Back Glam

Hard Rock Hideout

Heavy Metal Addiction

Metal Minute

Rock of ages

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What's coming up?

Here is what I hope to have out this week.

Monday-Top ten metal songs for Halloween
Tuesday-Interview with Hallows Eve bass player Tommy Stewart
Wednesday-Interview with Halloween bass player George Neal
Thursday-The Unholy Alliance DVD review
Friday-Interview with Andy McCoy of Hanoi Rocks

and I will double up on some days by sticking in a few album reviews as well.

***What are you doing on Halloween?

Fueled by fire-Spread the fire

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Metal Blade

I remember back around 87-89 when every major label was signing at least one speed metal band because they thought it was the thing to do and because they were hoping to land the next Slayer or Anthrax. Now it seems like a number of metal labels are signing at least one old style thrash band just in case that type of music makes a comeback. Fueled by fire hail from southern California and they play a sound reminiscent of thrash bands from the bay area thrash scene that was so big in the late 1980's. The main influences here seem to be Testament, Death Angel and Exodus. The music is actually somewhat impressive in it's energy although not terribly original. I think this band is one of the tighter old style thrash bands that have popped up recently. They know to bring a solid, heavy foundation and they certainly know how to command the pace. If they had played this back in 1988 then they might have gotten somewhere. However, it's 2007 and they really to provide more than just a style that tapered off more than fifteen years ago. Song titles like "Thrash is back" and "Metal Forever" don't really help the band's cause either as they sound like cliches from another time. Their vocalist Gio is one of the better singers I have heard in this new group of thrash bands. He sounds somewhat like former Exodus frontman Steve Souza. Unfortunately, he is no longer in Fueled by fire as he had a rather ugly split with the band recently and they are currently seeking a new vocalist so they can complete some upcoming touring commitments. The opening instrumental "Ernest goes to hell" is one of the most intriguing tracks on the album. It combines thrash with more classic style influences like Iron Maiden and Helloween in a rather effortless manner yet it hit a chord with me. It was the one song on the album that was the least like straight-up old style thrash and it was very smooth. I love that style, but it has been and I am still a firm believer that any thrash comeback will require some of these to do something new. Likely that would adding some other element to the old thrash formula. Unless someone does that then I don't see a thrash comeback happening at least in any major way. Fueled by fire are not doing much new at all, but they have some chops and a deal of spirit so that gives me some hope for them to grow and maybe push forward to the next level. In order for a thrash comeback to be anything more than a brief retro fad, some band needs to have the foresight and the creativity to push the boundries. I would love to see it happen though.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

High on fire-Death is this communion

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It's been three years since High on fire's last effort.The new release pretty much just picks up on the same trail of the prior release. It's like a cross between Motorhead and Slayer with occasional flashes of Celtic Frost and even Matt Pike's previous band Sleep. The tone is largely heavy and moody and at times there is a rather massive feel to their approach. In some ways they are very much one of the best examples of a real metal band that is going on today. They predominately stick to the medium fast tempo songs and it's largely pure metal without pretences of trying or even wanting to be anything else. I can appreciate that and it's good to have a band that has become as reliable at plying their trade as High on fire have become. Yet I couldn't help but be a little disappointed that this release didn't see the band push beyond their standards a little. Yes, it's a fine album, but I was really expecting them to explode at this point. Instead it was more of a constant high simmer than a boil. They sometimes got to the fringes of doing something spectacular, but they quite exploded like I was hoping they would. Maybe my expectations are a bit too, but that's what was going through my mind while listening to this album. It's a fine album that manages combine elements of doom, speed and classic metal. It's crushing at times, but never quite pulls off unexpected. They don't compromise anything which is commendable yet they still have yet to produce a great album because this one is once again just good. It's likely a top twenty of the year and it get repeated plays from me in the upcoming weeks, but I was hoping they would stretch their wings out just a tad more.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Interview with Kristy "Krash" Majors

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Kristy "Krash" Majors was the guitarist in Pretty Boy Floyd for quite a while and he is currently playing with Adler's Appetite. I recently had a chance to check in with him, ask him about Pretty Boy Floyd and what he is currently up to.

MM-You were in a band called Jett Blakk in New York. When was that and how what was the music like compared to Pretty Boy Floyd?


MM-What was the Sunset Strip scene like in the mid-late 1980’s?


MM-Most reports say that your predecessor Aeriel Stiles wrote the majority of Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz. Is that true? Did you get to write any of the album?


MM-Pretty Boy Floyd seemed to have gotten a good push on the debut. Why didn’t you become more popular than you were?


MM-Between about 91-95 you were doing managing and scouting of bands, I believe. What bands did you work with and what was that kind of work like?


MM-Do you think glam is making a comeback? If so then what role do you play in the scene at this point in your career?


MM-Why should people buy your “Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll” CD?



MM-Pick the band from the following pairs that you prefer.

Guns and Roses or Motley Crue - LOVE THEM BOTH
Lizzy Borden or WASP - WASP
Alice Cooper or Sweet - ALICE COOPER
Poison or Skid Row - SKID ROW

MM-Is there anything that you would have differently in your career?


MM-What are you currently up to?


MM-Anything else you want to say about your band or your music?


Thanks to Kristy for doing the interview.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blood Red Throne-Come Death

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There are two things that often bother me about many death metal bands. One is of course the vocals and that has always been a hang-up for me. Maybe because I grew up on metal singers that sang rather than growled and I liked hearing the vocals rather than being required to just read the lyrics to know what was being grunted. The other one is that a number of death metal bands seem to get so caught up in the chaotic speed that they forget about the oh so important heaviness factor and they forget about the basics of being a metal band. That’s why I pulled away from this style years ago because so many bands were starting to just sound like chaotic noise with no direction or purpose. Okay, the vocals on this album are of the same death metal variety, but not quite as one-dimensional. However the music is something else entirely and it’s actually quite spectacular if you give it a chance. “Come death” has definite elements of early 90’s Florida style death metal such as a direct focus and a strong grasp on keeping things heavy, very heavy. Yet they have also manage to show a good deal of control and they master some stellar pace changes that remind me more of mid-80’s thrash bands. Somehow these styles not only work together, but they compliment each other and give this album a feeling of being a true blending of similar, but different metal genres. I don’t think they have quite perfected this direction yet, but there is no denying that this album is massive in stature and Blood Red Throne are really onto something with their new album. There are moments of filler and parts that make me a little impatient, but they are certainly heading down a track that seems rather promising.

Lesser of two evils

What have I got myself into? I agreed to listen to these albums so here we go. It's a clash of the clunkers, a battle of the boring, a duel of the dungbombs, it's....

Trixter-s/t (1990)
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Warrant-Cherry Pie (1990)
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Both albums came out in 1990 and that year just saw so many hard rock albums pouring out. Unfortunately a number of labels had signed a lot of bands in hopes of landing the next Motley Crue or G-n-R, but a lot them were pure crap. The record labels were insulting fans by trying to pass this sewage off as hard rock. Anyway let's get on to the contest at hand.

Peter Loran of Trixter is far from spectacular, but he is in tune enough and has an alright range.Warrant's Janie Lane has just never been a singer I have cared for. There's some songs where he is better than on others. Yet he just sounds like he's trying too hard at times and is just rather limp on other occasions.
Point to Trixter

It's a two one one situation with Joey Allen and Erik Turner for Warrant and Steve Brown for Trixter. Neither band does much that stands out here because I can't recall a single solo that stood out. However it did seem like Trixter were slightly more repetitious and even more boring. The guys from Warrant were just gliding through, but it was never really the guitar that was boring.
Point to Warrant

Rhythm section
We have bass player P.J. Farley and drummer Mark Gus Scott for Trixter going against bassist Jerry Dixon and drummer Steven Sweet for Warrant. Of course we never really hear the bass and both drummers are in the background. I had to really listen hard to pick a winner here, but on a second listen I think that Warrant's Steven Sweet is just a hair smoother in his playing.
Point to Warrant

Originality was probably not something either of these bands were concerned with and it shows. It's very obvious that there was more money put into the production on Warrant 's album. Even though causing Cherry Pie to be heard more distinctly may not exactly be a positive, I am still going to have to say...
Point to Warrant

Who rocks more
Both bands struggled mightily in this department. Trixter hurt themselves by attempting too many slow songs. Warrant's album started with a couple of horrible songs, but actually settled down and got a little better and they seemed more in control towards the end of the album. Normally I wouldn't want to touch either of these Cd's with a ten foot pole unless of course it was to smash them into pieces with said pole. However, I think Warrant wins this category possibly just because Trixter failed to put much effort into it.
Point to Warrant

Warrant's Cherry Pie has had a good week here winning the "Bad Album Cover contest" and defeating Trixter today by a score of 4-1. I am sure the guys in Warrant would be thrilled by the news. Okay, maybe they really wouldn't be that thrilled. That's it for this segment of Lesser of two evils, hope you enjoyed it at least more than I enjoyed listening to these two pieces of garbage.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Heavy Metal Jukebox

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Here are three sort of horror related songs for you to choose from.

Iron Maiden-The number of the beast
Judas Priest-The ripper
Ozzy-Mr. Crowley

***Which one do you choose?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Interview with Lee Pistolero

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The Gypsy Pistoleros released their album "Wild, Beautiful, Damned" earlier this year. It's a combination of hard rock, punk, 70's style glam and straight up rock. They have also been touring a lot as well including playing at Rocklahoma this past summer. I recently interviewed vocalist Lee Pistolero to see what was going on and what future plans they have in store.

MM-What are you currently up to?

LP-Hi Mark Rockero ! We've recording 'Living la vid loca, Chicas Peligrosa & Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves' off & on these past two Months. Tours with The Quireboys & RATT fell through, so that meant that we were lost in the real world. Which was frightening!We are shooting a video for 'Pistolero' at Legs 11 ( Lap DancingClub -Birmingham U.K ) end of November. A piss take of Motley Crue's 'Girls,Girls, Girls'.

MM-Why did the band split up the first time?

LP-It didnt, Iggie Pistolero & I,sacked the rest of the band. They didn’t wanna be rock n roll cliches ( So now they're not ) We recruited two young , killin members- Angel ( Bass ) & Leeroy Pistolero( Drums ).

MM-How is the current band different from the first version?

LP-Better, tighter, wilder, total rock n roll cliche!!

MM-What has been the response to your album "Wild, Beautiful, Damned" so far?

LP-20,000 sold in 3 Months, just incredible! The reviews have been fantastic! We wanted it to be the latin equivalent of 'Appetite for Destruction', so when its re-released Worldwide next Year we'll see !!!

MM-You use the label "The Renegade Gypsy Flamenco Rock 'n Roll Glam Sleaze Punksters". Do you think that you live up that? Who came up with that description?

LP-Yes! I did !

MM-You have been touring for a good part of the year. When are you coming to the United States?

LP-We begin the U.S Tour next March & remain gigging ( with our good bro's the very wonderful DIRTY PENNY amongst others ) through to Setepmber. Including major U.S Festivals! We love the States and see our future there, the reaction of the people to us was incredible!

MM-Have you started writing any new material yet? If so then how is different from "Wild, Beautiful, Damned"?

LP-25 + new tracks, next album may be a double album. Same format, we're notfollowing any trends. Tracks may be a little wilder, but same as the debut album.

MM-What bands would you love to tour with?

LP-Guns & Roses ( reformed ) Crue, Hanoi Rocks, The Gypsie Kings, Los Lobos, Dirty Penny.

MM-What are some of the craziest events that have happened to you while on tour so far?

LP-Apart from sleeping under the wrong van in Barcelona after supporting Faster Pussycat and not being able to remember my own name when picked up by the police, streaking along the Berlin wall on the L.A Guns Tour, waking up in a deserted tent in Rocklahoma 2007 ( not remembering anything ), trying to sell Jeremy Guns in a Hamburg brothel. Not much !!! Something happens to us nearly every other hour on Tour! We are not sensible!!

MM-Where do you hope to be three years from now?

LP-Alive! And one of the top rock bands in the World!

MM-Is there anything else you want to plug or that you want people to know about your band?

LP-Come along for the ride amigos ! Join one the craziest, funniest, fukked up families ever!Cheers Mark bro!

Monday, October 22, 2007

And the winner is....

The winner of the bad album cover contest is Warrant's Cherry Pie which was picked by Taotechuck.

Krokus-Heart Attack was picked by Ray
Prong-Power of the damager was picked by
Metalwolf-Down to the wire was my pick.

Thanks to the bloggers who selected these covers and thanks to everyone who

Interview with Lizzy Borden

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Vocalist Lizzy Borden formed the band of the same name in the early 1980’s in LA. The band quickly signed to Metal Blade and released several albums during that decade. They also appeared in the film “Decline of western civilization 2:The metal years”. Lizzy returned in 2000 with “Deal with the devil” and a subsequent tour. Now Lizzy is back with a new album called “Appointment with death”.

MM-The new album “Appointment with death” is due out October 30th. It’s a concept album about “Death”. Can you tell us more about the concept and how the idea came about?

Lizzy: I don't call them concept records really, I call them theme based records, the theme for Appointment with Death is, basically I'm playing death and my version of death seeps through all the songs binding them all together. The songs all connect together with the central theme being, death.

MM-This is the first Lizzy Borden album in seven years. How is it different or similar from your previous releases?

this is the first record we've done as a band unit since 1987, I did Master of disguise and deal with the devil just bringing musicians in. but we wrote as a band for this album and I think it's a continuation and a few steps further from where we left off on deal with the devil as far as where I want to take the band sonically, and I'm very excited and happy about the way it turned out. And the fact that we did it as a band and it still sounds like a traditional Lizzy Borden record is a great tribute to sticking to the original plan all the way through the project with everyone having the same goal.

MM-The band has a new look for this album. Does it fit in with the concept of the album or did you just feel that it was time for a change?

Yes we worked with a guy named Ralis Kahn and he designed the look of the band as well as the album cover, so yes this does fit the concept and the theme of the record and will be part of the live stage show coming up on the appointment with death tour.

MM-I understand that you will be playing the character of “Death” in your stage show for this tour. Will there be other characters involved in the stage show?

I am playing death in the new show, and now the band is as much a part of the show as I am each one in character. It's great to have the band be part of the show now more than ever before. I can’t wait for everyone to get a load of us.

MM-What kind of tour do you have planned so far?

We’re starting out on the east coast in the U.S. doing some CD release party dates on and around Halloween. We are also looking for that elusive support slot that would introduce us to a whole new audience. But we do plan to launch a headlining tour sometime in the middle of 2008.

MM-You have a number of guest musicians on the new album. Did you write the album with the idea of getting guests to play on the songs or did you just recruit people later?

We’ve been using special guests since the terrorizing EP in 1987. So it's something we like to do. So we just asked some of our friends to come in and have fun with the songs that we wrote and bring something new that we hadn't thought of, and it worked out great. I love having guest musicians it's like the frosting on the cake.

MM-How is new guitarist Ira Black working out? Does he bring anything different to the band?

Lizzy: we auditioned a lot of different players and Ira was the last to come in. He was a fan of Lizzy Borden and was very familiar with our material, so when he came in he was the perfect guy. He added so much to the old material and when we started writing the new album he came in with quite a lot of ideas that were perfectly suited for a Lizzy Borden record in 2007.

MM-Was Starwood a one time project or will there be another album at some point?

Starwood is a project, but we've already recorded the next record and it's almost done. I just have to put the finishing touches on it and we will release it sometime next year. It’s a much better record than the first one and I can't wait for everyone to hear it.

MM-You have had this band on and off since the early 1980’s. How has your approach to your music changed over the years?

You become a better songwriter; you learn what works for you and what does not work. But every record I learn something new, I haven't made it to the status quo yet, I hope one day I can just churn these records out but right now it's still a challenge, one that I embrace.

MM-Any regrets in your music career?

I guess I would've laid off of the blow dryer a little bit more in the early 80s.

Thanks to Lizzy for doing the interview.

Merciless Death-Evil in the night

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Heavy Artillery

I remember just loving thrash metal back between say 1985-1990. There were a lot of great bands back then like Slayer, Exodus, Kreator, Dark Angel, and Possessed and many others that were really breaking ground in a sub-genre that was just starting out. Now there is a crop of young bands springing up that have embraced this old style. LA’s Merciless Death is one such band that is attempting to walk in the footsteps of those great mid-80’s bands. In the album credits these guys have a huge lists of bands they thank as influences. However the main influences I hear are Slayer say around 83-85, early Dark Angel and maybe very early Kreator. The music is quite honestly a fairly basic straight-ahead thrash style largely sounding like it could have come from about 1985. It’s overall fairly together musically and has the advantage of higher production values than most thrash bands had years ago. Try as I might I really can’t get past the vocals of Andy Torres. It’s almost like he can’t get beyond a talking type style and it really just keeps them from building up much steam and it makes them sound a little amateurish. Back in the day the only bands I heard with sub-par vocals like this were bands that might do one album and then disappear. The other concern is a concern I have with any band playing this style of music today. That is that there isn’t really a future in playing a style that was prominent twenty years ago. If there is a future in trash then something new needs to be added into the mix or else I may as well pull out my copies of “Hell Awaits”, “Bonded by blood” and the like if I want to hear great thrash. Merciless Death are not breaking any new ground, but I like the music enough to hope that they grow musically and address the vocals situation in order to have a chance to move ahead in the future.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What's coming up?

I am back from vacation. We were visiting relatives down south for the first time in four year. It went well overall, but it is more difficult doing a long trip when you have kids. You have to stop more often and find things to entertain them. Since it's the week before Halloween I will have some scary type topics this week although not all of them are. I am backed up on interviews so you get a few of those this week. Here are the topics I hope to have out and I will probably be doubling up posts a few times this week.

-Interview with Lee Pistoleros of Gypsy Pistoleros
-Interview with Lizzy Borden
-Interview with former Pretty Boy Floyd guitarist Kristy "Krash" Majors
-Heavy Metal Jukebox: Horror edition
-Lesser of two evils: Trixter vs. Warrant (scarrrry!)

Plus reviews of:
Merciless Death: Evil in the night
Gein and the graverobbers: Gruesome twosome
High on fire: Death is this communion

***Don't foget that voting for the bad album cover contest is still going on through the end of today. So if you have yet to vote then go to the post under this one and chime in. Monday I will announce the winner and reveal who picked each cover.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cast your vote

Okay, the four bad album covers have been revealed. So now look them over and cast your vote for the one that you think is the worst. Voting runs until Sunday night.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The fourth bad album cover

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This is Heart Attack by Krokus.

***Remember to wait until this Friday to start voting for the worst album cover of the week. If you not sure what this is all about then please read the post from this past Saturday for details.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The third bad album cover

This is "Cherry Pie" by Warrant.

***Remember to wait until this Friday to start voting for the worst album cover of the week. If you not sure what this is all about then please read the post from this past Saturday for details.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The second bad album cover

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This is "Down to the wire" by Metalwolf

***Remember to wait until Friday to start voting for the worst album cover of the week. If you are not sure what this is all about then please read this past Saturday's post for details.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The first bad album cover

This is "Power of the Damager" by Prong.
***Remember to wait until this Friday to start voting for the worst album cover of the week. If you not sure what this is all about then please read the post from this past Saturday for details.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bad album cover contest this week

Starting tomorrow I will be on vacation all week long, but I have something lined up for my blog. Four bloggers are picking a hard rock or metal album cover that they think is really bad. From Monday through Thursday the four bad album covers will be shown one per day. Then starting Friday you can chime in and vote for which of the four you think is the worst of the bunch. The voting will be open until Sunday the 21th.
Hope you enjoy the week!

Skeletonwitch-Beyond the permafrost

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Prosthetic Records

This band was formed in 2003 in Athens, Ohio and they released a full-length release in 2004 and an EP last year. Its seems that more and more metal bands are reaching back to the speed metal gods of the mid-late 1980’s for inspiration. To me the main sound here is German thrash with Destruction and Kreator being the most prominent influences. It’s a rather tight style thrash at the core with the vocals alternating between an older thrash style and the growling style that has bee more popular over the last say 15 years. What makes them different from other bands who are just emulating old style thrash is that they have some more classic metal influences well. I can hear a little Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and maybe even some late 80’s Helloween. The thing is that the classic parts are spread out and they and always in short bursts. Rather than being combined you have a separation of two somewhat different musical styles. The majority of the songs being this thrash style and then at some point a blast of solid style metal will blast out or the solo will be of that type. Then the song inevitably gets back to the thrash music. It was a little startling and unexpected at first as it felt like a split of genres rather than a blend. However, I have begun to like it mainly due to the fact that this band handles it with a lot of confidence and even a bit of flair. They are combining rather than inventing yet it is a different approach. Still they seem to have the capabilities to make it work. It would be nice to see the intensity level raised a bit and there are times where it seems like the pace is controlling the band rather than vice versa. All in all “Beyond the permafrost” is a solid release that at least partially pulls off a different approach.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Various artists-Speed Kills...again

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Heavy Artillery

I remember some good speed metal compilations back in the 1980's. A number of the Metal Massacre albums from Metal Blade featured some great thrash acts. I also remember loving an album from New Renaissance records called Speed Metal Hell which exposed me to Executioner, At War and other underground acts. Well, apparently speed metal compilations still exist as evidenced by "Speed Kills again". This album features six bands each doing two tracks a piece of 80's inspired thrash. This isn't metalcore or nu-metal, but rather it’s some bare bones thrash. LA's Merciless Death are up first and their music is of the Slayer, Dark Angel style. The music is good, but unfortunately the vocals are downright poor. It sounds like the singer is just reading off a piece of paper and he has no range, power or fire. Las Vegas band Avenger of death come on next and you hear the talent level elevate. Also in the Slayer, Dark Angel style with maybe hints of Sodom and Destruction. However they have just an immense sound and truly aggressive vocals. Sweden's Enforcer might be the most different band on this compilation. They opt for an earlier almost pre-thrash style with their first track sounding like Exciter while the second track is very much like Raven. They are very tight and I loved that they embraced this style. Next up is Toxic Holocaust from Boston. This band opt for a more early death metal approach with Possessed being the main band although there are some touches of Bathory and early Slayer. Italy’s Hatred is next with two tracks that suffer from horrid production. It sounds like they are playing in a tunnel and the vocalist is singing into a coffee can. I can’t really site any influences because it just sounds rather muddled and generic. Last is Warbringer and they may be my favorite here. The main influence I hear musically is Artillery with some Whiplash and early Slayer here and there. They have a sharp yet heavy style with a good grasp on how to keep things going and control the flow of the music. So we have six bands on the album with four very good, one decent and one that is below average. So overall it’s a solid compilation plus it goes for about $5.99 on CD so you can’t beat that.

Tigertailz-Thrill Pistol

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This is actually a two disc set as it has the new release plus the previously unreleased U.S. version of “Wazbones” that was recorded in 1992. I was fairly letdown by the last disc “Bezerk 2.0” because although it was loud and the vocals were strong, it just failed to rock and had a mechanical sound to it. “Thrill Pistol” fairs a bit better as it manages to be more of a rock album and at least touch upon the great sound that this band had back in their prime. It took a few spins, but gradually it started to sink in. The hooks are not as strong as I would have hoped or liked, but the effort is there at times. What bothers me most as that many of the songs just don’t rock. That’s sad considering that 17 years ago they were one of the top glam bands going and it’s because they knew how to rock and made catchy tunes at the same time. The songs are admittedly less muddled than on the previous album, but it still feels like the music is being held back and we are not getting the full of this band. I know what they are capable of due to earlier albums and I really don’ think that it’s just age. The impression I get is that they are trying to be more than a glam rock band yet they are not really bringing enough of anything to be impressive. This not only leaves would be fans out, but it tends to alienate the older fans. The energy is there for the most part and I like the vocals, but I was hoping for more. On the up side this comes with the U.S. version of “Wazbones” which is likely their second best album. It does rock and sucked me in right away. I would have been cranking this like crazy if they had released in 1992. Instead I will just have to settle for cranking it in 2007 and on. Not the album I was hoping for, but it’s above average and it may grow on me.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Heavy Metal Jukebox

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It's time again for the Jukebox and this time it is brought to you by the letter "Q" . So here are the choices.

Queen-Killer Queen

Queensryche-Revolution Calling

Quiet Riot-Metal Health

***Which song do you choose?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Interview with Frankie Banali

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Last month I got to interview drummer Frankie Banali and ask him about Quiet Riot, his Led Zeppelin tribute album and other things.

MM-You have “24-7-365: A tribute to Led Zeppelin” coming out on September 18th. How did the idea for this project come about?

FB-This release is the result of my lifelong love for the music that was created by Led Zeppelin and especially the drumming of the legendary great John Henry Bonham. They are my favorite band, he is my favorite drummer.

MM-The album is by Frankie Banali and friends. Who are your friends that play on the album and how did the recording process go?

FB-The recording process was at a slow pace both by design in that I wanted to use certain recording equipment and vintage musical equipment to achieve some level of retro authenticity, and by necessity due to my musical friend's geographic locations and their own musical schedules.

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I handled the drumming and percussion duties and was joined by Tony Franklin (The Firm/Blue Murder) on bass on all the tracks.

1. The Wanton Song - Alex Ligertwood (Santana): Vocals - Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake): Guitar.
2. Four Sticks - Glenn Hughes (Black Sabbath/Deep Purple): Vocals - Steve Fister (Lita Ford): Guitar - Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot): Drums/Djembe/Doumbek- Neil Citron (Hero): Keyboards.
3. Kashmir - Don Dokken (Dokken): Vocals - Michael Lardie (Night Ranger/Great White): Keyboards - Steve Fister: Guitar.
4. Out On The Tiles - Robin McCauley (Michael Schenker/MSG): Vocals - Reb Beach (Winger/Whitesnake): Guitar.
5. Ramble On - Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt/Quiet Riot): Vocals - Steve Fister: Guitar.
6. The Ocean - Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen): Vocals - Bruce Kulick (Kiss): Guitar.
7. The Immigrant Song - Bobby Kimball (Toto): Vocals - Gilby Clarke (Guns N' Roses): Guitar.
8. Royal Orleans - Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen/Talisman/Soul SirkUS): Vocals - Gilby Clarke: Guitar.
9. Gallows Pole - Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot): Vocals - Steve Fister: Guitar/ Mandolin /Banjo.
10. Custard Pie - Chas West (Bonham): Vocals - Bill Leverty (Firehouse): Guitar.
11. When The Levee Breaks - The 24/7 Overture- Levee Guest Vocalist: Joan Fraley.
12. (They Were) The Eye Of God - Frankie Banali: Drums & Hand Percussion - Neil Citron: Guitar/Bass/Keys/Stringed Instruments.

MM-You are currently finishing up a tour with Quiet Riot. How has this tour gone so far and what was it like playing Rocklahoma?

FB-Actually, QUIET RIOT perpetually tours and we will continue doing so. Rocklahoma was a great experience for us and we were happy to participate in an event that continues to promote this genre of music.

MM-Quiet Riot have been on again-off again over the years. Does that make it difficult to pick up where you left off when you start work on a new album?

FB-From my vantage point, there has been a reasonably ongoing QUIET RIOT since 1983 to date with the exception of from around 1989 to 1991. So unusual business as usual!

MM-Kevin had Quiet Riot with Randy Rhoades that did two albums. Then you were in the classic “Metal Health” line-up and even the self titled album line-up without Kevin. Then there have been a few line-up changes since that point. Do you feel like all of these line-ups are really part of the same band despite the numerous personnel changes?

FB-Well, every band goes through changes, so that aspect is not unusual. As long as QUIET RIOT has Kevin DuBrow as the singer and myself as the drummer, I feel that you have the representative version of the band. The two of us have been the nucleus and foundation of the "known" QUIET RIOT since 1981 well before we recorded Metal Health. This in no way is to disrespect anyone that participated in QUIET RIOT in the past because everyone that has been in the band added to the whole and I am grateful to each and every one of the past members.

MM-You have played on a number of WASP albums. Is that relationship over or is there any chance of you playing with them for another album?

FB-Over and done, but I did very much enjoyed my participation on the recordings and the WASP fans by and large have been incredibly nice to me. The Headless Children is still a wonderful set of recordings.

MM-You have been playing drums for a long time. With age do you have to practice differently now more than you did say twenty years ago?

FB-I practiced more from the time I started playing as a kid until I was 18 or 19 and then started playing live and recording on a regular basis. I rarely have time to practice since I have been fortunate enough to be a working musician more often than not.

MM-You have played on many albums over the years with numerous artists. You have toured all over the world and now you are doing a cover album. Are there any career goals that you have yet to accomplish?

FB-My goal has always been and continues to be that of a practicing musician, to continue to perform, record and hopefully to improve both as a musician and a person along the journey. I just recently completed a recording session for a Spanish Flamenco artist and it was a thrill for me to explore new musical territory. The artist is Pele De Los Reyes and he and his group are fantastic.

MM-Choose the band you prefer from each pair.


Motley Crue or Ratt
Motley Crue, of course! Dr. Feelgood is still a great track!

Rolling Stones or the WHO
The Stones for the groove, the Who for the diversity.

Black Sabbath or Deep Purple
Deep Purple, Ian Paice is the real deal. Black Sabbath is scary!

Cinderella or Poison
Cinderella for the blues/rock, Poison for the friend/hang.....

MM-Any regrets in your music career?

FB-None, just happy to still be in the game!

Thanks to Frankie for the interview. His site and Myspace page are below.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Blog plug

Here is a fairly new blog about metal that you should check out. So hop over to Raise your fists.

Crimson Orchid-Chapter XIII: Nightmares & Fairytales

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Crimson Orchid are a metal band hailing from the Baltimore, Maryland area. Their album Nightmares and Fairytales is based on the idea of death according to the band. That concept is perhaps deceivingly simple because we well know how many different ideas and views can from just discussions of death. The music seems to take a similar approach as the band often begins a song with basic sounds, but they don't rest for long. None of the music here is exactly complex in itself, but it's the arrangements where this band really make their impact. The music is made up of individual parts that may be basic, but not everything is played in time with each other and that is a plus. The vocals and music seem to work off each other and the whole effect is that the band is unpredictable to an extent yet the whole song generally manages to mesh together in the end. The closest comparison I can make is late 1980's King Diamond and although the type of metal here is different, the off kilter musical arrangements are similar. The music generally ranges from melodic almost verging on early progressive and it goes up to some bone crushing near thrash moments as well. I think overall quirkiness of the music and I like that much of the vocals are done clean as many bands doing this music would opt for a gutteral, growling approach. The production is for the most as solid as needs to me. Now the downside, I think they have a little problem keeping the intensity level high throughout some songs. They need to be a little sharper at times and I think that will come with practice if they stick with this same style. The other problem is that the quirkiness and quick cuts in the music can be a little distracting . I think they need to take their time and they can conquer that one as well. Overall a very solid effort from a band who I hope keeps plugging along at what they have started.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Interview with Darryl Sheppard of Hackman

Recently I got to interview Hackman guitarist Darryl Sheppard. Hackman released their debut "The new normal" earlier this year on Small Stone records.

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MM-How did this band come about?

DS- I originally was trying to put together a project that would have different singers on different songs, but the logistics of that just didn't really work out. Plus, I wanted to have a band that could play live and have the songs sound consistent with the recordings. I originally started playing some of these riffs with my buddy JR Roach on drums (he played drums in Sam Black Church), but due to some other commitments, he had to bow out. So I hooked up with Jase and Todd from Lamont, who were on somewhat of a hiatus, we banged out a bunch of songs, rehearsed our asses off and then went into the studio and recorded everything we had, which became "The New Normal". It was a conscious decision to have the songs mostly instrumental with vocals here and there, the vocals weren't an afterthought. We were trying to do something a little bit different in that respect.

MM-Who are your influences?

DS-One of the biggest influences/inspirations for Hackman is Karma to Burn. We're big fans of how they would have these songs that could have vocals,but didn't. Their songs were just these sick riffs with very minimal soloing, if any at all. We tried to concentrate on coming up with really good riffs and just beating 'em into the ground, lots of repetition. But we all like tons of different bands. Yob, Keelhaul, Pelican, Melvins are some favorites. Godflesh is a definite favorite. And of course shit like Zeppelin, Sabbath, Deep Purple. Basically heavy shit with lots of low end.

MM-Your album is called "The New Normal". What is the story behind the title?

DS-There's not much of a story. We recorded the album in August of 2006, and that summer there was another terrorist threat involving airplanes, which led to the crackdown of not being able to take liquids on planes and stuff like that. And one night on the news they called these regulations "the new normal", like how life would be from now on because of terrorism and whatnot. It just sounded kind of cool, but it really is how life is nowadays. Lots of things that were unheard of a few years ago are now the norm. A few years ago if you told someone they wouldn't be able to take toothpaste on an airplane, they probably would've looked at you like you were completely insane. Well, get used to it. I wouldn't be surprised if strip searches became commonplace within the next 10 years or so. The world is a very different place now than it was 7 or 8 years ago.

MM-You have (I believe) twelve words total on your album and it contains seven songs. Why only twelve words or why didn't you make it an all instrumental album?

DS-We didn't want to be totally instrumental. We wanted to have some vocals just here and there, like just have a chorus and no verse, or have one word>repeated. It was definitely thought out, it wasn't a last minute thing where we said "oh! we forgot the vocals! quick, yell something here!", like some reviews have said. The new songs we're writing are continuing this trend, where there's a verse but no chorus, or just one line somewhere in the middle of the song. We want to write awesome riffs, but break it up a little. The vocals are like another sound really, that's all. We have one song with trumpet, but we're not gonna have trumpet in every song. As for the sound of the vocals, I'm a huge fan of vocals like Eyehategod or Pig Destroyer, so I just decided to scream my head off. Plus, how else are you gonna sing something like "I don't need this shit"? Some people are turned off by the vocals, but we're totally into them and I don't see that changing. I like screaming my head off sometimes, it's a good way to let off steam. All I have to do is ride the train or bus and I have all the>inspiration I need. Less vocals; it's the new normal.

MM-At what point in the writing/recording process did you make the decision to do a largely instrumental album?

DS-Almost from the get-go. Like I said, Karma to Burn was a huge inspiration for us. We wanted to write the sickest riffs we could and just beat the shit out of them, play them for way too long and drive' em into the ground. Any time we write a riff, we generally try to play it way longer than we should. The end of "Chin Music", we play that riff over and over and over, and we just totally get off on it. It's very self indulgent, but that's how we like it.

MM-Have you been touring and what has the response been to your music?

DS-Hackman hasn't toured at all. We've only played a few shows out of state, but the response has been great. People really seem to dig it. We'd like to play more out of state, but it's kind of hard at this point in our lives. Ten years ago, I worked a job where I could take off for a month and drive around the country in a van and make no money and it was awesome. Unfortunately, we can't really do that anymore. As far as other bands we've been in, Lamont toured with Yob and Orange Goblin, and I guess that was pretty awesome. When I was in Roadsaw, we toured with Nebula and that was a blast. Milligram didn't really tour either, we did a week or something like that. Maybe next year Hackman will play some more out of state shows. We'll see. Plus, we don't have a van, which is kind of important as far as touring is concerned. When we play in Boston, we literally carry our equipment from the rehearsal space to the club. I don't think we could walk to Kansas. But you never know. We're Hackman.

MM-Is this the only band that all of you are currently involved in do any of you other projects going on?

DS-Currently, this is the only thing Jase and I are doing musically. Our new drummer Owen is the singer in a band called A Wish For Fire, who don't sound anything like us. But he totally digs the heavy shit and he fits in well with what we're doing. Jase played bass on the new We're All Gonna Die album that's coming out soon, and he played in A Wish For Fire as well for a short time. Sometimes I play solo acoustic shows, but I haven't done that for a while. Jase is also a tatoo artist and Owen is a body piercer, they work at the same shop in Harvard Square called Chameleon. I've written a book called "Black Thanksgiving" that I'm trying to get published.

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MM-Pick the band from the following pairs that you prefer.

Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin-Led Zeppelin: Jimmy Page is my favorite guitarist of all time

Fu Manchu or Nebula-Fu Manchu: mainly when Eddie and Ruben were in the band

Candlemass or Cathedral-Cathedral: never really got into Candlemass

Iron Maiden or Judas Priest>-Iron Maiden: I got into them first, but I dig early Priest as well

The Stooges or the MC5-The Stooges: "Funhouse", that's all i gotta say about that.

MM-What future plans does this band have?

DS-We're writing new songs right now, we have about 5 done. Jase and I also recorded a 17-minute track called "The Blanket" which is broken up into 3 different parts. It's just guitar and bass, no vocals or drums. We're big fans of Earth, plus we didn't have a drummer for a few months and we wanted to keep playing. Basically, we just want to keep writing sick, heavy riffs and play shows now and then. Maybe play more out of state in the future, who knows. Really, all we wanna do is play heavy music, that's about it. Get another album out and go on a walking tour of the U.S.

***After this interview I wrote back like a day later too ask two more questions.

MM-You have a new drummer named Owen. What happened to Todd, the drummer who played on the album?

DS-Todd's a really good drummer and a great guy, but his style wasn't really fitting in with some of the newer songs. Some of the new stuff has weirder time signatures and more angular type of riffs, and Todd is more of a straight-ahead four-on-the-floor type of drummer, although he did a great job on "The New Normal". He definitely contributed to how the album came out. We're still friends with him and everything, and we wish him the best with whatever he ends up doing. Owen is really good at playing off-kilter beats and doing stuff that's unexpected but fits in. We've played one show so far with Owen and he did a great job. We're pretty excited about the new songs, especially one called "Monoceros". That's a special little song for us.

MM-I understand that you had a heart attack last month. How are you doing? How will this effect the future of the band?

DS-The heart attack came out of nowhere, it actually happened at practice in the middle of a song. We had to cancel a couple of shows because of it. It's gonna take me a couple of months to really recover, but I am feeling fine and we have started rehearsing again. But I just have to take it slow, so no shows for a couple of months. Other than that, it shouldn't affect the band too much, except I won't be able to jump off the drum riser and do splits anymore (yeah, right). But I'm feeling good, and all my friends have been really supportive. I guess we just rocked so hard that night that my heart couldn't take it!

Thanks to Darryl for doing this interview and you can check out Hackman at Myspace.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Cult-Born into this

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The Cult had some lukewarm releases in the 1990's, but they returned with the surprisingly spectacular "Beyond good and evil" in 2001. I was hoping the new release would pick up where left off. That's not the case however as they have opted once again for a more straight forward approach. I was somewhat letdown that they didn't follow in the tracks of their previous release yet I do think that this is a decent hard rock album. Ian Astbury is one of a handful of singers who has the capability to so easily elevate the level of the material. His voice seems to be as strong as ever and he is able really milk so much out of every word. Billy Duffy has always had a rather basic style, but it works because he stays in his comfort zone. The rhythm section of the Cult has normally been a strong point no matter who the players at the time happen to be. This album is no exception as the drums and bass help to give a number of the songs a layered feel that always helped to define the Cult's sound. The production is sharp, but allows room for each instrument to shine through as needed. The Cult have usually managed to stand apart from other rock and hard rock acts due to the vocals and their refusal to completely follow passing trends and this no exception. A good Cult album is usually better than a good album by most other hard rock acts. I wish that they had attempted to take a few more risks here, but generally the band plays it fairly safe. Still "Born into this" is an enjoyable rock album and I think that's all the band set out to do.

Evile-Enter the grave

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The year 1986 was such a great year for speed metal and Metallica's Master of puppets and Slayer's Reign in blood were a huge part of that. Not only did those two album raise every one's awareness of speed metal, but they also caused a lot of young bands to try emulate their styles. So for the next 2-3 years there were still young guys coming out of the woodwork trying to be the next Metallica or Slayer. Fast forward twenty some years later and some up and coming bands are still being influenced by those two classic albums. Such is the case for UK based Evile. It doesn't take long to realize the impression that 1980's thrash had on these guys. They obviously spent plenty of time studying Slayer, Metallica, Exodus and a few others. They have the basics down overall with some solid riffs plus decent production provided by former Metallica producer Flemming Rasmussen. Yet like many of the bands that tried to copy the masters in the late 1980's they are missing a few essentials that keep them from being a first rate thrash band. The obvious one is an overall lack of aggression in the music and the vocals. You can go through the paces, but you really have to put some real anger or fire behind it and these guys sound too often like they are on auto-pilot. The other problem is related to the first and that is the music lacks a sharpness in the pace changes. If you think of the top thrash bands of the day then you pictures the sharp, pounding pace changes that make the songs by those bands stand out. These guys hit it some, but they need to be far more consistent if they want to get noticed. As someone who went over almost every thrash band that came down the pike in the late 80's I can appreciate the idea of trying to bring 1980's thrash back. However this bands needs some more work before they can really make an impact or be a major player in any kind of thrash comeback. There is some potential here and I hope they keep plugging away, but overall they sound like the many bands who tried and failed to be thrash masters back in the late 1980's.

You can check them out at Myspace below.

Friday, October 05, 2007

What's coming up?

October is one of my favorite months of the year and that's largely due to Halloween of course. The week after this coming week I will be on vacation, but I have the "Bad album cover contest" lined up for that week. I and three other bloggers will each have a hard rock/heavy metal album cover picked out for you to view. Each day one will be shown and then after all four are shown you get to vote on the one you think is the worst. Here is what I hope to have out this week.

Sunday-Evile-Enter the grave review
Monday-Interview with Darryl Sheppard of Hackman
Tuesday-Crimson Orchid-Nightmares and Fairytales review
Wednesday-Interview with Frankie Banali of Quiet Riot
Thursday-Heavy metal Jukebox
Friday-I really don't know, but I may post one of the interviews I did that turned out shorter than I had hoped. Or perhaps I will double up and also post another review as well or maybe something else.
Saturday-Explanation and reminder for the "Bad album cover contest"

*** Here are some Halloween related choices for you. Just pick the one of each pair that you prefer.

Candy apples or caramel apples
Bats or black cats
Dracula or Frankenstein
Evil Dead or Night of the living dead
Alice Cooper or Ozzy

Hackman-The new normal

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Hackman-The new normal
Small Stone

This Massachusetts based trio's debut takes a somewhat different approach to stoner rock. They have a rather gigantic sound that’s you right away and keeps plugging along. "The new normal" consists of seven songs and I believe there is only a total of twelve words uttered on the entire disc. Yet despite being mostly just music, it’s not like most heavy instrumental albums. The songs seem like very structured and more like typical songs without vocals rather the virtuoso style of instrumental album. What the lack of vocals does for this album is that allows you to hear and really feel every nuance of the music. The band largely takes a rather straight ahead approach and the pace changes are there, but sometimes perhaps more subtle than other bands of the same genre. The style is not exactly like anyone else as a whole. The best comparison I would make is that they sound somewhat like the Fireball Ministry, but more involved. Yet at other times they also remind me of Nebula. Still I think that Hackman are slowly defining themselves with their own style. I think that my favorite thing about this release is that the band controls the pace rather than letting it control them. This does perhaps require some patience from the listener, but if you stick with then you will be rewarded by a basic yet effective album. Now I will admit that I was initially taken aback by the lack of vocals, but it only took about two plays of the entire disc for me to be won over.

You can check them out on Myspace below.

If you are interested in them then check back here on Monday when I will post an interview with their guitarist Darryl Sheppard.

Blue Cheer-What doesn’t kill you...

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Every band seems to come back at some point. Some come back and stay while others come, go and then return again. Blue Cheer do deserve the term “metal pioneers” and perhaps every “legendary”. They also probably choose a very good time to release their album in over a decade. I say that because stoner rock has been very big in recent years and there is little doubt that Blue Cheer have had a huge impact on that particular sub-genre of metal. At this point the band has two original members and one sort of long time members. Although it appears that former Raven/Pentagram drummer Joe Hasselvander is listed as having played on almost half of the album. The album is mixture in styles with more than half of the songs being of the heavy, fuzzy variety and others are more blues based. The results are also a bit mixed as well, but certainly it overall leans towards the positive. The band succeeds is being fairly heavy and somewhat engaging. Yet I can’t help feeling that the production is a little too smooth and several songs sound like they could have been done around 1986 and have almost a mainstream approach. However the bulk of the material leans more towards the layered style that the band perfected before I was born. A few tracks even remind me of Virginia’s Pentagram who always stated that Blue Cheer were a huge influence on them. So maybe Blue Cheer have borrowed from those who borrowed from them. All in all I enjoyed the album and although I may have been hoping for a little more I was still satisfied enough. It’s good to see a band still chugging along some fourty years after they started.

Myspace page below

Bob-Vinyl has reviewed this as well so go check out his views.