Saturday, May 31, 2008

Control Denied-The fragile art of existence

Metal Mind
1999/2008 Re-issue

The idea behind this band went all the way back to 1995 when Death frontman and genre legend Chuck Schuldiner thought that "Symbolic" would be Death's final album. In 1996 Chuck recorded two demos for the new project and began finding the right band members. He decided to do one more Death album in "The sound of perseverance", but then got back to his Control Denied project. Schuldiner was insistent that this not be a solo album and wanted equal input from everyone involved. He enlisted Death members Shannon Hamm on guitar and Richard Christy on drums. He also brought in bassist Steve DiGiorgio who had played with Death and Testament. The line-up was complete when Pharoah/Psycho Scream vocalist Tim Aymar came aboard. Schuldiner very much wanted a singer that could do what he couldn't in Death so in Aymar he got a vocalist with a lot of power and range. So the line-up was set and "The fragile art of existence" was released in the fall of 1999. The complexity level here is along the lines of the last few efforts from Death, but perhaps even more well rounded. This is an album that contains numerous musical passages that head in many directions yet they fit comfortably together and they all work towards the same purpose. One of my favorite aspects of this album is how they control the pace and build up singular moments. Younger bands might be too quick to shoot their loads all at once in moments like this. This band had the experience and the confidence that allowed them the liberty of holding onto singular notes and parts before bursting ahead. This allowed them to get the most of every little bit of this recording. Listening to this album is like walking into a building that's larger on the inside than it appears on the outside. Once the music begins it is just so vast that it's beyond what I had figured would be contained on this disc. Yet they also succeed in not being too overwhelming or taking on too much. Although material for a follow-up was prepared Schuldiner passed away from brain stem cancer in late 2001. He left behind a legacy that included perhaps the most influential death metal band of all time as well as this project which accomplished so much with just one release. Metal Mind's re-issue includes a booklet with lyrics and a write-up on the history of this project.

Labels: , , , ,

What's coming up?

I survived another week of work and the other usual hurdles and obstacles. Just trying to hang in there and keep everything going including the reviews and interviews for this blog and the other sites I write for. I was thinking intros on the songs on the other day and I guess I used to be more patient. Yet nowadays there is nothing more annoying than being short on time and putting in a new disc and some long, drawn out intro pops on. Power metal bands often seem to be the worst for this kind of mandatory build-up/time killer. Gas prices continue to go up, Harvey Korman passed away and the Trashcan Darlings announced they are breaking up. Anyways I have lot planned for the week and here is what I hope to get to.

Pelvic Fury-Non-Eulidean Nightmare
Blackstrap-Steal my horses and run
Man Raze-Surreal
Control Denied-Fragile art of existence


Lesser of two evils: Diamond Rexx vs. Madam X in a battle that involves some of the biggest hair and weakest songwriting of the 80's.

I also hope to start a new monthly feature on Sunday. It will be called "First Day Flashback" so on the first day of each month I'll do a short write-up on an album likely from the 1980's. Not so much a proper review, but just something brief about why it's interesting or important and maybe some of my memories of the album as well.

Oh and I got an extra copy of that Man Raze CD so I might do a contest to give that away this week.

**Have a great week.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 30, 2008

Jaguar - Jag Wire

In the summer of 1985 there was a local radio show called "Friday Night Metal" and they played a solid hour of metal songs I think from midnight until one. They played popular stuff like Priest, Ozzy and Dio, but lesser know stuff like Exciter, Vyper and Grave Digger as well. One night they played a song by a band who I thought were called Jag Wire. Yes, that sounded funny, but that's what I swore the DJ said. Several months later at school I was talking to a slightly older metalhead at school. I mentioned this band Jag Wire and he informed me that I must have heard incorrectly and it must have been NWOBHM band Jaguar.

He also added that no one was stupid enough to call their band Jag Wire. Years later I found out that he was wrong.

Let's close in on Jag Wire

Well, Jaguar were from the UK and their debut Power Games was a pretty good album along the lines of Dianno era Maiden. Jag Wire were from LA and they sound like Angel. I'll let you decide which of those sounds you would prefer. Actually Jag Wire's story goes back a little more as they evolved from a band called Sin, but's that a story for another day.

Labels: , , , ,

Interview with Ace Finchum

Ace Finchum is currently the drummer for the very cool Gypsy Pistoleros. He also of course played with Tigertailz for a number of years as well. I recently got to talk to him about both of those bands and more.

MM-First congratulations on joining Gypsy Pistoleros, they are a great band. How did you come to get this gig?

AF-Cheerz bro, yea I have been looking for another band since I left the Steevi band last year. A friend of mine on MySpace “Donna Rockbabe” actually knew I was looking for a band and the Gypsies asked her if she knew of any drummers, so they wrote to me and we met for a hour at a service station, that was the Sunday and by that Monday I had joined and without an audition, which was excellent lol.

MM-Were you very familiar with them and their music before you joined? How’s it going at this point?
AF-I had heard of them and saw they had supported quite a few bands, but never ever heard their music; the spanish/english mix thing didn’t make sense to me at the time lol. I thought for the last two or three years they were from Spain!!Yea everything’s cool so far, we have shot a video, photo session and rehearsed and it’s all firing on full cylinders.

MM-So far how does being in Gypsy Pistoleros compare to other bands that you have been in?AF-Hmmmm, they are different to anything I have done in the past. I have always been a straight rock drummer, 2/4 and 4/4 you know. These guys have different timings, full on punk, lots of starts and stops and the whole thing with the songs, I don’t know what song I’m doing ‘till they hum it to me at rehearsal because they have Spanish titles lol, but I am starting to learn the song titles now. Image wise it’s all the same as with every band except Angelwitch that I have been in.

MM-How old were you when you started playing the drums? What inspired you to start playing?

AF-I was 18 and it was the day after seeing KISS in 1980, I went back to school and I just didn’t give a shit about school, homework any of that shit. I just wanted to play drums and knew that school was a waste of time from that day on lol. I was into drummers like Clive Burr, Alex Van Halen, John Bonham and later Tommy Lee. But besides seeing Eric Carr it was Clive Burr that really was a major influence.

MM-Was Crash K.O. the first real band that you were in? What do you remember about being in that band?
AF-No, the first band I was in was a band called “Treason” and the night I was auditioning for them they were also auditioning a singer by the name of Steevi Jaimz! And out of Treason came Crash KO with guitarist Phil Wrathchild. The thing about KO was that we were doing stuff before we had even heard of Motley Crue that was similar and we thought we were onto a new thing with the glam image but heavy riffing music. Crash K.O. was fun while it lasted and I have some great demos from that period! It was a band that was ahead of its time…..

MM-Then you were in Idol Threat and you brought Steevi Jaimz in as well. That was in Colorado, how do you come to be in that band? What are some of your memories of that band?AF-Well after Crash K.O. finished I had joined a band called Tranzam who I had been a fan of as they were doing the same clubs as we had done in treason. But we never got anything done, just partied all the time!! So I decided to leave this country and go to LA, I was really into Motley and Ratt, Black n Blue and the whole LA scene so I thought if I was to get anywhere I need to go to California. I had a old school friend living in Colorado and his family put me up and I stayed there for a year playing in covers bands, getting tight, my chops down and the whole experience thing I needed for la as I heard how good the music were in la. Idol threat was a band I first joined in Colorado Springs and had one of the best times in my life playing with those guys. After the band fell apart I put it back together and talked Steevi into joining us and make some money and both go to la, Steevi was just as driven as I was. So Steevi came over we rehearsed, tanned, partied, shagged, smoked and drank everything lol. After one gig we split up hahahah. But we set off to LA as planned and that’s another story for another time lol. I’m actually finishing my book “a drummerz talez” which I have been writing for two years now.

MM-What are some of favorite memories about being in Tigertailz?
AF-So many, uhhh well first off was getting to release our first EP, I had wanted to at least put out one record before I died and for all the effort I had put into music, sacrificing ect.. So that was first, then the very first Kerrang interview, selling out the old Marquee two nights in a row was awesome too! Getting out recording deal, I guess the best memory will be when we headlined the Cardiff St. Davids Hall and my parents flew over to watch the show, and they were proud and had supported me since I first started playing in my bedroom in 1980, all the work had finally paid off.


MM-You also had some rough times with line-up changes, album delays and such. Is there anything that you wish you had done differently while in Tigertailz? Do you think that you could have been more popular if you had done a few things differently?
AF-Well we could have ditched the makeup and maybe have sold more records? Who knows? But then we wouldn’t have been Tigertailz you know. But one thing people don’t know much about is the show case we did for capitol records. One of the PR woman from Capitol flew over to England to watch us perform three songs live in a private showcase. We were awesome that day too!! Afterwards she met us all at a restaurant with our manager martin hooker and she laid it down, I will never forget her first words to us at the dinner table. And you have to remember that we didn’t know what she had thought of the show we did for her earlier. She said “you guys are going to be huge over in the states” and she wanted to sign us!! It was a dream come true for all of us. After weeks of waiting for the contracts Martin had set up a meeting with us and informs us that Capitol had a big change of staff and that the woman who was to sign us had been one of the people let go. To this day we have no idea what went wrong?? But we learned to never have your record company manager manage your band as well!!

MM-I believe Bezerk was recorded in early 1989, but wasn’t actually released until early 1990. Why was that?
AF-The record company! They wanted us to tour as soon as we had finished recording the Bezerk album. And to test the water with a new album and a new singer was to first release love bomb baby as a single and tour in support of that. When the single sold well, going top 40 even! They finally released Bezerk to rave reviews and kicking things to the next level,the company had put a lot of money into Bezerk so they waited for the right time to release it basicly.

MM-Tell us three of you favorite Tigertailz songs and why you picked them.
AF-"Sick Sex", because it is!! It is the best dirty rock n roll driven song to open with as well. The intro that Don Airey did for us was just awesome as a prelude into sick sex. "Living without you" (the first single we released with Kim) just a great catchy song and the production is top notch.Heaven, just holds so many memories for me and even now if I hear it I get the hairs on my neck go up, with loosing Pepsi recently it holds another special place in my heart.

MM-Have you heard either Bezerk 2.0 or Thrill Pistol? If so then what do you think of them?AF-Bezerk 2.0 didn’t really do it for me but I had heard a few of the songs from when I was still in the band and it wasn’t fresh I guess, having said that there are a couple great songs on it. Thrill Pistol is a more rounded better album in my opinion, Jay and Kim are still friends of mine and I always will take an interest in anything they record together or apart.

MM-What do you think about the music scene these days compared to say twenty years ago? Is it any better or any worse now?
AF-Worse!!! I hate today’s music barr a few bands of course, Foo Fighters a great band!! I just love 70’s and 80’s music the best.

MM-What kind of music are you listening to these days?
AF-The Beatles, Thin Lizzy KISS, Van Halen, Elton John new found glory Foo fighters, Oasis, 2Pac ,NWA, Dr.Dre everything really…

MM-What have you not accomplished in your music career that you still hope to do?
AF-Tour in America, which I will be doing in July!! Going to Japan is my other big dream. At one time back in the day my biggest ambition was to play the old Marquee in London. So I did that in the end.

MM-Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you chose them.
Alice Cooper or KISS
KISS!! you wanted the best!!

Deep Purple or UFO
UFO, my first ever gig was UFO in oxford in 1979 and UFO-Obsessions is in my top ten albums of all time. Major influence and great song writers. Pete Way is still a fuckin star!

Motley Crue or Poison
Motley!!! Too fast for love is in my top ten albums and Crue were another influence on me, poison never really did it for me? Motley were raw in your face and Mick Mars was the riff master. Poison were more like the Bay City Rollers, though Talk Dirty is a great song!

Aerosmith or Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy, but Aerosmith were a major influence and picking between the two is hard, but for me Aerosmith haven’t released anything great since pump. They need to stop bringing in outside writers in my opinion. in the 70’s, when they were on drugs and out of control and wrote together they were unfuckin’ stoppable!! Rocks, Toys, Draw the line, Get your wings are absolute gems!! Thin Lizzy have always been one of my favorite bands, great front man and songwriter. Songs are still fresh today.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about yourself or your music?
AF-Check out the Pistoleros and give them a chance, I did and I’m so glad I did. Also I hate Love Bomb Baby lol, that’s all Tigertailz will ever be remembered for, the band that did Love Bomb Baby!! We had better songs than Love Bomb Baby, but we will always be known for that song, shame really…

***Thanks to Ace for doing the interview.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Trashcan Darlings-Real Fucking Make-up!




This is a collection of A sides, B sides, previously unreleased material and even some new tracks from apparently one of the better real glam bands of the last decade. The oldest tracks here are from the band’s early days of 1997 and the most recent tracks are from last year plus it of course includes plenty from the years in between as well. The strongest influence is likely Hanoi Rocks as they show the same disregard from traditional song structures at times. Although Trashcan Darlings are a bit less quirky than Hanoi and probably have a stronger dose of early 1980’s punk rock injected into their music and their attitude as well. They waste little time in kicking into high gear on most of these tracks as they rip off some real down and dirty rock with all the edges intact. My favorites aspect of their music is that it all sounds very natural like they don’t worry with the planning, but they just go with it. I have no clue as to whether that’s actually how they approach their music, but that’s the feel I get from listening it. You can hear the slight changes in style over the years as I think they got tighter with experience and they were able to spread out a little more as well. Great album with 18 tracks and the booklet which includes background information on all of the tracks.

Labels: , ,

Leatherwolf-New World Asylum

N.I.L 8

Long known for strong melodies and their triple guitar attack back in the 1980’s, Leatherwolf came back in 2006 with an album called World Asylum with former Crimson Glory vocalist Wade Black taking over on vocals. Black ended up leaving before the end of 2006 and the band brought original singer Michael Olivieri back in to the fold. They also made the decision to re-record World Asylum with Olivieri and call it “New World Asylum”. Okay, that’s a slightly long story, but it was probably worth the steps the band went through because the end product is quite spectacular. So many bands tend to get more conservative and lighter in their approach, but Leatherwolf went all out. This album comes at you like a crushing steamroller in the style of Judas Priest, Vicious Rumors, Accept and maybe even some of Metal Church’s more recent efforts. They also easily weave in natural sounding vocal melodies and some hints of progressive metal in their music as well. It’s not all 80’s throwback as well which is a refreshing change plus they easily mix the classic metal style with a slightly more modern edge. Almost every track works out and perhaps more than anything else it’s just because the band sounds very comfortable working together. Normally my expectations on a comeback or reunion album are low, but this release easily exceeded all of my expectations. Hopefully this line-up stays on track and keeps going because there is obviously some steam and more than a few strong ideas left in them.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 28, 2008



Around the fall of 1985 I remember having a copy of Metal or Metal Maniacs that had a pin-up of a goofy looking band called Snatch. There was no article or any mentions just the pin-up and the band name. I never heard anything of them after that, but in recent years the memory of that pin-up came back to me and I wondered who these guys were. I couldn't find much even with the wonderful internet which we unfortunately didn't have back in the dark ages of 1985. However I did find the album cover which is the one above. This band apparently did release this one EP in 1985 called "If the party is in your mouth...we're coming!". No, I didn't make that up either, it is unfortunately the title. So I'll answer a few questions to a little more about what I know and think about this album.

Have I heard this album? No, I have not.

Do I think it would suck? Like a Hoover vacum cleaner.

Do I think they got their outfits at David Lee Roth's yard sale? Yes and they likely raided Paul Stanley's basement as well.

Is it the worst album title ever? Perhaps not, but it would have to be in the race.

Would I buy this? Possibly because I live for this crap.

***If you know any more about this band then feel free to share.

Labels: ,

American Speedway interview

American Speedway hail from the Philadelphia area and they have been getting some notice lately following the release of their “Ship of Fools” album. They play a rather straightforward blend of metal and punk rock. I recently got to check in with vocalist/lead guitarist Johnny Griswold to find out more about this band.

MM-Please introduce yourselves and tell what instrument you play.
JG-I'm Johnny Griswold and I play lead guitar and sing backing vocals.

MM-Tell us a little about the history of your band. Who are your musical influences?
JG-Me, Billy Angry and Michael Thursby go back a long way and have played in various bands together since the mid 90's. After a much needed break from those weirdos, I came back from San Diego, and we started this monster, along with the lovable Chris Callahan on drums. Our band is just straight up fast rock and roll. No reinventing the wheel here. Influences are PeterPan Speedrock, Supersuckers, MC5, Zeke, AC/DC, Motorhead, etc.

MM-It looks as though you are getting a great deal of press on your album. So what has been the response to "Ship of Fools" so far?

JG-Every single aspect of our debut album has had a great response. From it being out on vinyl, to including a free cd, to the artwork, to the amazing songs! It's been great. Actually, it's quite shocking because we're really just four douchebags who bust each others balls constantly and in the middle of all that we blast out a lot of distortion and yelling and beer spitting on stage!

MM-I also noticed on your Myspace page some mentions of you guys getting some play on the radio. Who is playing your music? What songs or songs are they playing?
JG-It started out where we'd get a variety of our songs played on college radio stations, internet radio, then we got "One Foot In, One Foot Out" onto Sirius Satellite radio's Punk channel 29. Apparently they really like us and have been playing us a LOT! It's fun getting emails and texts from people saying they've heard us as they're driving or whatever ... especially hot chicks.

MM-Who have you played with so far? Who would you love to open for?
JG-We've played with a lot of bands you've never heard of. And that's not a bad thing. Some of my favorite bands are underground, unsigned, or bands on small labels that just play their asses off. Bands like Seven Dirty Words, the GT-40s, Blacknots, Kingsnake, Starskream, and so on. I'd personally like to open for a band called "GREG" from Japan. Good stuff.

MM-I know you have been playing dates recently including a trip out to the west coast a few months ago. How have your live shows been going lately? Any interesting stories from the road?
JG-We do a shit-ton of mini-tours. We've still got day jobs, so heavy touring is not an option at this point. Every live show is amazingly fun for us because we feed off the energy of the crowd and they feed off of our energy. And all of the interesting stories are secrets because I don't want to incriminate anyone... especially myself.


MM-I noticed that you are playing an event called the Heavy Rebel Weekender in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in July. Which I believe aside from bands also has a car show and all kinds of things going on. What other bands are playing and will this likely be the biggest crowd you have played to so far?

JG-Heavy Rebel Weekender is by far, for me, the funnest show/event I've played. It's just a lot of beer, boobs, debauchery, laughing, hanging with friends, meeting new people that like to party and checking out a lot of good rock and roll. Even if the bands are not so good, the constant drunken state of mind makes everything listenable! The biggest show crowds for us are usually on our home turf because we rarely play the Philly area. As for the Heavy Rebel Weekender car show - I don't get that whole thing. Just a bunch of old cars, primer gray, sitting there with their hoods up. They don't do anything. They just sit there. Boring. I'd rather look at Mikey's 87 Plymouth Horizon.

MM-What should someone who comes to see you live expect to see and hear?
JG-You'll never leave an American Speedway show and say, "Wow, those guys are great musicians". HOWEVER, you WILL walk away saying, "Wow, those dudes just killed that set!". We pull something together for 30 or 40 minutes that's just an amazing rock and roll event.

MM-What do you hope to accomplish during the rest of 2008?
JG-Record a follow-up album that's even MORE amazing than "Ship of Fools", then sell out for millions of fucking dollars because I'm sick of getting up at 5am every morning.

MM-What is the hard rock/metal like in the Philadelphia area these days? Any great unsigned bands that we should know about?
JG-I have no frickin' clue what the hard rock/metal scene is like in Philly. My guess is it's like the rock and roll scene in Philly: non-existent. Sure the major acts plow through here, but for whatever reason, the local rock club scene in Philly died out some years back and shows no signs of it coming back to life ... but we're doing our part to try and save it... at least out in the burbs.

MM-Where do you hope to be five years from now?
JG-Oh, I totally hope we're still working our day jobs and driving all hours of the morning coming home from shows where we made $140 bucks and sold four records and two t-shirts. All this while reeking of sweat, beer, whisky, fat girl perfume and the never-cleaned bathrooms of clubs in Baltimore, Newark and Trenton, NJ. But wouldn't it be great if four douchebags from the suburbs of Philly got to QUIT our jobs to do this full-time?? I'm hopeful for that.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?
JG-We're a force.

***Thanks to Johnny for doing the interview.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Confederacy of Horsepower-Vagabond Cabaret


Back in the late 1980's to the early 1990's there were a handful of hard rock bands who went against the hairspray and make-up look. Instead they embraced a more motorcycle meets gypsy gang look that was kind of a combination of Motorhead and Guns and Roses. These were bands like Junkyard, Little Caesar, Circus of Power and Zodiac Mindwarp. As far as musical influences most of them seemed big into either AC/DC, the Cult or both. Confederacy of Horsepower seem to not only follow in the footsteps of these type of bands, but in fact they seem very proud to be playing this no-nonsense, leather-clad style of hard rock. They love the above mentioned bands so much that they cover Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction's "High priest of love" plus they have Dizzy Reed playing keyboards on the album. The main influence that stands out from start to finish on Vagabond Cabaret is the aforementioned Zodiac Mindwarp. This is evident by the low growling vocals, the by the numbers approach to the music and the cliched, sexual innuendo filled lyrics. Unfortunately they fall into the same trap as many of the bands that tried this approach twenty years ago. That is the fact that they just don't have enough fire or interesting licks to sustain this album. Plus the vocals have very little range as I had to check the track number on my stereo to see which song it was on because the vocals just seemed to be sounding the same on every song. The attitude might be there, but music-wise it's just lukewarm for the most part with a few occasional sparkles. I like the band name and was rooting for them to pull this off because I thought it could be done. However it just seems like they were hoping that image and lyrics would be enough, but unfortunately the music weighs in as being a bit too thin and predictable for my liking. I like the idea of a band wanting to add some grit to their music, but this is just a large dose of very ordinary hard rock.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 26, 2008

JK Northrup-Wired in my skin

Alien Records

This is an album from veteran guitarist JK Northrup who had previously played with Northrup, King Kobra, XYZ and others in his 25 plus year long music career. Because he has played with so many different acts he knows a lot of people so he brought in several vocalists for this project including Kelly Keeling (Blue Murder, MSG, Baton Rouge, Trans Siberian Orchestra), Johnny Edwards (Montrose, Foreigner, Royal Jelly, King Kobra), Ted Poley (Danger Danger), Terry Ilous (XYZ, I.R.S.) and newcomer vocalist David Zaragoza (Category 7). There are eleven tracks total here including three instrumentals. Largely it's typical but smooth hard rock with most the majority of the tracks sounding like they could have been recorded between say 1989 and 1991 as they thrive on large melodies and high production values. Using so many vocalists is a little bit of a double edged sword as it allows the album to have some different sounds because the singers have somewhat different styles and ranges yet the album has a whole doesn't quite feel like a unit because of this approach. However that's probably minor because I enjoyed most of the songs as individual tracks. I think the pacing was right on for the most part despite having so many hands or voices in the mix, I would say it was a fairly tight album. The only song I wasn't huge on was "If I were James Taylor I could finish this song" which felt very awkward to me. The instrumentals allow JK a little room to spread out and roam a little more with his riffs and these three tracks tended to be some of the heavier ones on the album. Overall this was a fairly ambitious project and mainly it succeeded in pulling me in. I just wish that I had discovered it a little sooner.


Labels: , ,


Here are some older CDs that I picked up recently.

Every Mother's Nightmare-s/t (1990)
I have had their second release for some time and just thought it was very average although it was hurt by poor production. I found there debut recently for $6.99 which I think is way less than what it normally goes for. They sound sort of like a heavier version of Poison in some ways and yes I realize that still doesn't mean they are very heavy at all. It's a little more rockin' than the bulk of the hard rock stuff that was spewing out all over the place in 1990. Yet I think the arrangements and okay vocals kept them from being that memorable.

Soul Kitchen-s/t (1992)
This one always shows up cheap on eBay and I normally skipped it because I knew nothing about. Finally I took a chance on copy that was under $2.00. The good news is it's a little like early Black Crowes, but the bad news is that it sounds even more like rotten popular hard rock of the time complete with mandatory sappy ballads. They have some groove here and there, but it's normally too subdued and too far below a few layers of lame, almost generic hard rock. Decent vocals and good production help it to be worth what I paid for it.

Metalium-Hero Nation and As One (Double disc set)
This two disc set cost $9.99 used which I thought was a decent deal. Hero Nation is the band's third disc and it's standard Euro power metal in the Helloween/Gamma Ray mold. The vocals seem to be the major focus and it just felt the music was pushed too far back. Also the music never really flowed as much as I was hoping, it came out and went yet it never truly that dynamic. A decent album, but all a little too tame. As One was the band's fourth disc and fares quite a bit better. The music soars and it's overall and more vibrant, it actually feels like there is some direction to what they are doing. The vocals are good although the lyrics are the same old cliches although the band doesn't try to pretend it's anything else. As a package it was worth what I paid.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Spiritual Beggars-s/t


The debut from Spiritual Beggars was originally released back in 1994. This band was lead by guitarist Mike Amott who had already been in Carcass by that point and it was just a few years before the formation of Arch Enemy. The sound of this album is perhaps more surprising for having been released in 1994 then if it had been released today. I say that because stoner rock and doom were still rather underground and bands were few and far between back then as opposed to the plethora bands that have popped up in this decade. So the real question is probably is this album anything to get excited about? Despite the fact that I have heard plenty of stoner of doom bands in recent years and heard lots of angles, styles and variations, the answer is yes this is still and album to get excited about. The approach is very simple, it’s largely late 60’s/early 70’s metal with a good slab of psychedelic rock wedged in. The vocals lean a bit more to the styles of that day as I hear some Soundgarden in there. Yet the music is just huge layers of rolling, swirling riffs with a whole lot heavy fuzz wrapped around every note. Perhaps the thing that might have set them apart from the peers of the time was the direct approach as bands like Sleep and Cathedral seemed more involved in rolling out their songs with more build-up. I think this is an album that would appeal to both fans of early 70’s metal and just fans of solid metal in general. It’s basic, but they instantly hit a nerve with their steady assault and they just dig in and keep plowing forward. This album contains four bonus tracks that are of a very similar style to the original tracks of the album. I understand this was a fairly rare album that had been fetching a good price prior to this re-issue and after hearing it I can now understand why.

Labels: , , , ,

List with a long name

This list is "Ten hard rock/metal albums from the 1980’s that you may not have heard, but really need to". Not any mega-rarities although a few have never been released on CD and some are out of print. Still these are all very good to great albums that I think more people should hear.

10- Blind Illusion-The sane asylum (1988)
Bay Area speed metal band’s only release and it took them several years and numerous line-up changes to get to this point. It’s very much a speed metal release of the time and the place but far more creative and they took some gambles that largely work.
9-Tigertailz-Young and crazy (1987)
A lot of the glam bands of the day started to all look and sound a like after awhile. Yet the vocals of Steevi Jaimz and the slightly less pop sound of Tigertailz debut pulled me in 21 years ago and it still works for me.
8-Whiplash-Power and pain (1986)
This New Jersey trio actually knocked out several good albums, but none of them matched the intensity or the originality of their whopping debut.
7-Witchfinder General-Friends of hell (1983)
Many NWOBHM bands were trying various different approaches, but these guys reached back to the 1970’s took a page out of Sabbath’s book and added on to out with surprisingly solid results.
6-Artillery-Fear of tomorrow (1985)
Criminally overlooked early speed metal outfit from Denmark. I am not as big on the vocals as I am on the music, but this is a killer. It’s very possible that these guys actually influenced Slayer, Sodom and others.
5-Pentagram-Day of Reckoning (1987)
Perhaps the only doom band that ran parallel to Black Sabbath rather than running behind them. They were knocking some great metal in the 70’s, but most of us didn’t get to hear it until much later. This was a later version of the band that played a much more grim, focused still style of doom and it just further managed to establish this band as one of the best of their genre.
4-Cirith Ungol-King of the dead (1984)
Actually and of their three albums from the 80’s could be on the list, but I think this might be their most consistant effort. A good mix of 70’s and 80 metal plus they combined doom and classic styled metal while making it all look rather easy.
3-Executioner-In the name of metal (1986)
The worst produced album on the list and the lyrics may not be a whole better. Doesn’t matter because they combined early speed metal with a NWOBHM metal sound. Their energy and the raw sound actually helped quite a bit.
2-Zoetrope-Amnesty (1985)
Chicago band who created their own style that pulled in elements of thrash, classic metal and even punk rock. More than anything sounded very comfortable with what they were doing.
1-Medieval-Medieval Kills (1987)
If there was one band who could have changed metal for the better it was this trio who certainly didn’t look like your typical metal band with their short and clean cut image. Yet the music was gritty, heavy, rough and they were probably several years ahead of their time. Unfortunately their label hit a snag and this album didn’t get distributed like it should and many people never had the pleasure of hearing them.


***So there you go.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Crimson Ghosts-Earth E.P.


The Crimson Ghosts are a tribute band of sorts as they play only Misfits covers. Yet it's the interpretation that sets them apart because they do instrumental surf versions of the Misfits. Now this idea might bother some fans who feel that so much of the sound of the Misfits depended the vocals of Glenn Danzig. That's true, but I think these versions of the songs allow you to hear and even better appreciate the rhythms of the music. Most other Misfits covers take the songs as they and just transfer then entire as is to fit the format of the band covering them, but they don't really alter the arrangement. That's where the Crimson Ghosts are unique in their covers because I think really approached the basic mechanics of each song and found ways to keep the melody but alter parts to fit the pulsing, reverb-driven surf style that they love. Yet they managed to make versions interesting and truly put their brand on them. Such as the Misfits' "Night of the living dead" always seemed to me to be one body of music moving forward yet the Crimson Ghosts managed to separate and emphasize certain parts without losing the feel of the original. So we get some killer stripped down surf versions of "London Dungeon", "Horror Hotel" and seven more trakcs that do justice to the Misfits and their fans. Obviously fans of the Misfits and surf punk should love this one but also fans of hard rock or metal who love music with lots of steady pace changes will find a great deal to enjoy as well.


Labels: , , , ,

What's coming up?

I have been having some computer problems so I am trying hard to keep up with all of the writing that I want to do. If I miss a day of posting it will be because I can't not because I didn't want to. This week I hope to have the following out.

Interviews with...
Ace Finchum
American Speedway

Reviews of...
Spiritual Beggers
JK Northrup-Wired in my skin
Confederacy of horsepower-Vagabond Cabaret
plus at least two more.

Clash of the album covers
and possibly a list with a very long name.

***Have a great week.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 23, 2008

Damaged Dolls interview

Damaged Dolls hail from Sweden and they released a highly impressive demo recently plus they finished a U.S. not too long ago. Unfortunately their vocalist left and they are currently looking for a replacement. I recently got to check in with drummer Lukas to find out more about this band.

MM-So please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your band?
Lukas- As you probably already know our singer, Holm, left the band and the music-bizz after the Us-tour. So at this moment the band is:
Linkan on leadguitar
Jake on bass (and vocals)
Lukas on drums.
We're looking for a new singer at this moment.

MM-Who are your musical influences?
Lukas- Since we all come from different backgrounds we have all kinds of influences. I personaly listen to a lot of Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, Stooges. The only bands we all listen to are Motley Crue, Poison, Hanoi Rocks.

Lukas-We organized and booked the US-tour on our own and we paid the trip outta our pockets. It was a great experience and we can't wait to go back. There were so many crazy things happening on the tour I could go on forever but just hanging out at The Bow and Sunset was a good time. It was great to see TX as well since it's not one of those places you usually go as a tourist.

MM-Were the audiences here in the states any different than the audiences in Sweden?
Lukas- I think the audience was great, we received great response on most of the shows. People are more open and cheering than back home. Everybody made us feel welcome.

MM-Obviously the glam scene in Sweden has been exploding over the last few years. Why do you think there are so many 80's influenced glam bands pouring out of your country?
Lukas- I don't know really. I think it's a bit hyped up by MySpace. I mean it's not like Sweden is a glam-paradise in any way. It's an underground movement here as well and the mainstream people don't give a fuck about this kind of music at all.

MM- What is your band doing that's going to make you stand out in what I am assuming is a crowded scene?
Lukas-We're trying to have good songs, not only image. Most bands go for the "big hair-look" and a lot of make-up and all that but they don't have any songs. I hope we'll stand out thanks to the quality of our material and good live shows.

MM- How competitive is the music scene in Sweden right now? How have you managed to get to where you are?

Lukas-There are obviously lots of bands in Sweden playing all kinds of music and the venues are few. So you have to fight to get good gigs and make sure you promote the shows and do a good job once you're up there so you'll be asked back.

MM-How has this band grown since you first formed? In what aspects do you think that you still need to improve in?
Lukas-I think we need to improve in every aspect. We wanna develop all we do, you should always try to advance.

MM-Have you any interest from any record labels yet? How important is to you to get signed?
Lukas- We´ve been offered some deals and we were actually involved with a company but we had to resign because they didn't keep their promises. We're interested in collaborating with a company that is prepared to invest some in promo. Of course we would love to support ourselves on music alone and quit our day-jobs.


MM-How many original songs do you currently have? Do you play any cover songs live
Lukas- We have somewhere around 40 songs of which we usually do 10-14 live. We don't play any covers live.

MM-What do you think was so good about hard rock in the 1980's?
Lukas- Hard rock in the 80´s was fun and entertaining and that's what I think music should be all about. Keep your opinions about politics, religion, the environment and everything else out of it.

MM- What are your thoughts on today's music scene?
Lukas- It's all too serious and depressing today. And I'm sick and tired of all the Hip-Hop and so called R'nB of today. It's been all the same for the last 15 years.

MM-Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you picked them.

Quiet Riot or Twisted Sister
This is a strange question but I'll say QR because of their songs on Metal Health even though TS is more fun.
Crashdiet or Vains of Jenna
I choose Vains before Crash Diet. Vains actually have some good material not just image.

Faster Pussycat or Pretty Boy Floyd
This is a tough one since none of us ever listened to any of those bands, but I'll go for Faster Pussycat just because we got to know Brent Muscat (one of the founding members of FP) in Vegas and we did a show with his new band Sin city Sinners. He and his band treated us very good and they did a great jam.

Hanoi Rocks or Motley Crue
I think we all agree on Motley. They were my first idols as a kid and I never stopped digging them. We have been Motley-fans twice as long as Hanoi-fans but we love both those bands.
Damaged Dolls

***Thanks to Lukas for doing the interview.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Download- We only bleed for family


I have heard some good bands coming out of the state of Virginia lately including the killer band Syndicate and the very impressive hard rock band Aces Wyld. So I had hopes for Download as well and I was even rooting for them to be impressive. Unfortunately that was not to be for the most part despite the fact that I gave this one several spins hoping something would pull me in. Initially several tracks had some tight, swirling thrash styled spurts yet these moment were all too brief. Almost every time the promise of some real metal gave way for some metalcore ramblings that swayed between mediocre and just plain dull. I tried to stand my ground and hang in there with this album hoping a light would shine through and those few moments of promise at the beginning of their songs would re-emerge. Yet that was not the case as my reward for my patience was unfortunately some rather bland songs that struggled to produce enough energy or creativity to keep their songs afloat. The biggest problem is repetition because they had me for maybe a minute or so of a number of songs, but they just don’t have enough variation to sustain the track for the entire run time. There were a few times where they hit some crunching pieces yet they don’t seem to know how to capitalize on these bits to build them into something more. I got the impression they spent far too much time coasting through the bulk of their songs instead of building off of the initial steam they had on several occasions. They have a lot of work to do if they want to get beyond being just another faceless bar band.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hatchet-Awaiting Evil

Metal Blade

The thrash resurgence keeps marching on and one of the latest entries are Bay area band Hatchet. As is the standard for this style they dress in black wearing retro metal type shirts and they sound like it’s about 1987 or so. True to their roots or at least their area, these guys play the version of speed metal that was popular in the Bay area back in the mid–late 1980’s. The influences I hear are early Testament, Exodus and the more obscure Heathen. What defined this style twenty some years ago was the tight chugging type of riffs and Hatchet suscribe to this method of playing as well. Overall this album has a slight under-produced, even slightly fuzzy that quite honestly helps at least a little. In my mind the better thrash was a raw kind of metal so slick production was never the most fitting approach. This band embrace quick pace changes and variation of tones more than the straight pummeling sound that other bands went for. They may it work because they a manageable grasp on how to manipulate the sounds and the pace. The vocals are fair enough and go along with the music, but sometimes are just ordinary. As with most of today’s younger thrash bands they don’t have a lot of ideas that were not done well before 1990. Like fellow labelmates Fueled by fire I think Hatchet manage to display at least some of their passion for this music plus they mix up their influences a little. I can’t swallow this one hook, line and sinker due to a slight lack of originality yet there is no doubt that Hatchet have created a decent thrash album.

Labels: , ,

Teach ‘em all: A High School Tribute to Metallica


This is the third effort from High School Tribute project which is lead by teacher/producer Patrice Beaudette who has given a group of talented young people a chance to make their own album. The other two projects were dedicated to KISS, but this time Metallica are the object of the tribute. I remember discovering Metallica as a teenager as I listened in awe to a tiny radio cranking out “For whom the bell tolls” on a late night radio show back in the summer of 1985. I remember having to pick my chin off the floor in early 1986 when my ears first soaked in the Master of puppets. Even though Metallica never quite became what I hoped, it’s still great to hear young music fans appreciating the contributions of this band. So we get eleven tracks which includes some of the more standards like Creeping Death and Welcome home (Sanitarium), but much to their credit they tackle some slightly lesser known tracks like “Eye of the beholder” and “The thing that should not be” as well. For some reason the lesser known tracks seem to be the ones that this group excelled on. My sticking point with covers is that an artist needs to bring something of their own ideas to the mix or else it’s pointless. The major difference that these performers brings are the vocals because we get both and male and female vocals throughout and different performers that have various vocal ranges. That’s not to say that all of the vocals work, but the variation certainly helps to make it more interesting and most of the vocals are strong. Now the first part of the music that struck me was the drum sound, it was raw, pounding and quite honestly I loved it. I only wish the rest of the music had been as solid, but the guitar tone was often just adequate. There are a few minor changes in arrangement and what was done was fine, but it could used a few more risks and a little more energy. As a whole I think this is certainly a better than average tribute album and maybe even more so considering the age of the performers and the fact the majority of these tracks are over six minutes in length. Certainly an interesting project that the people involved can be proud of.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rogue Male-Animal Man

Metal Mind
1986/2008 Re-issue

After “First Visit” this band did a U.S. tour to support the album, but they didn’t make the impression they were hoping for. They returned to the UK and put out an EP called “Belfast”. Then following some shifting of drummers they put together their second LP “Animal Man”. They may have looked like a cross between the cast of “Cats” and extras from a Mad Max film, but their debut had proven they could put forth a solid release. So I don’t know what exactly happened here, but this is a rather confused sounding album. “First Visit” had a very cohesive sound and a definite, if slightly dated musical direction. This album not only fails to pick up on that direction, but it also doesn’t seem to follow any real apparent direction that I could comprehend. There are several tracks that sound like they would have been very comfortable on the debut. However, there are also songs where the music lacks not just power, but also much of any identity. Several tracks rely on a more processed drum sound and the guitars are pushed into the background far more than they needed to be. The vocals also suffer as a few songs hear some kind of pop approach that just sounds completely misguided because they are not even focused enough to work as pop music. If this band wanted to change their style then they needed to go at it with confidence and do it completely. Instead this album is such a mixed bag that it reminds me more of an album of outtakes and previously unreleased material. I don’t know if the band were upset by the lack of success at this point, if outside hands messed with their style or if their numerous line-up changes had finally taken their toll. Whatever the reason this album suffered and I guess that Rogue Male suffered as well because they broke not too long after this album. Metal Mind’s re-issue includes a bonus track and the booklet has lyrics and a band biography.

Labels: , , , ,

Rogue Male-First Visit

Metal Mind
1985/2008 Re-issue

These guys were part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement and recorded two LPs and one EP. Yet their entire legacy seems to revolve quite a bit around the fact that Kerrang! magazine called them “the next big thing” and of course they failed to live up to that prediction. In fact that Kerrang! Claim seems to be the only thing most people ever said about this band and I could never find a decent description of their sound over the years. Now the album has been re-issued and I can finally judge for myself. The sound here has a definite Motorhead influence primarily from the Overkill/Bomber era plus there are several songs with a strong Judas Priest sound say from around the 1979-1981 period. The vocals are gritty and deep and the music is heavier than I would have figured, but fairly basic. The melodies make this almost as much a hard rock effort as it is a metal album, but the two styles work together well enough. This is very much a NWOBHM sound although for 1985 it’s a little dated because by that time I think most were moving beyond this approach. I enjoyed every song and this version includes two bonus tracks. My curiosity of this band had grown over the years largely due to the fact that no one would commit to saying much about them. The results are that it’s better than I figured it would be. However I can see why they didn’t make much of an impact, if this had come out in say 1982 instead of 1985 then I could have better understood someone thinking this band might make an impact. Another fine Metal Mind re-issue which includes bonus tracks and the booklet has pictures and a band biography.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, May 19, 2008

G.G. Elvis and the TCP Band-Back from the dead


This band includes members of such punk bands as NOFX, Ill Repute, Aggresion, Dr. Know and more. In the summer of 2006 this band formed with the idea of taking Elvis songs and giving them a punk rock treatment. This album includes 13 songs and most are under the three minute mark as they blast and rip their way through versions of the King’s classics such Viva Las Vegas, Blue Suede Shoes and more. Due to the obvious experience of the players here it’s solid enough music wise. Still it’s ultimately a joke album and the problem with any albums of that nature is how long does the joke last. Elvis songs played real fast with rough vocals is mildly amusing for a while, but it quickly becomes apparent that this band is a bit of a one trick pony. Elvis was very much capable of making each of songs very distinct, but in their treatment here G. G Elvis and associates tend to play the songs in a very similar manner causing many of the tracks to blend together. Too many songs are just fast with the exact same vocal style and this causes them to sound a bit too similar. “Back from the dead” probably serves it purpose in bringing out a chuckle or two, but it’s also probably going to be sitting on a shelf for a while unless you just love any joke album.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Interview with Fury UK

Fury UK are band whose sound seems influenced by classic style metal bands. I recently got to check in with guitarist/vocalist Chris Appleton and to find out more about them and their plans for the future.

MM-Please introduce yourselves and tell a little about the history of your band.
CA-I’m Chris, I play guitar & lead vocals. On drums we’ve got ‘Martin McNee’ & on Bass guitar & vocals ‘Adam Cropper’. We're a hard rock/classic metal band, originally formed in 2002, based in Manchester. After various line-up changes the current version of the band was put together in October last year & since then the band's popularity seems to have soared. We're signed to independent label Rocksector Records, releasing an album "Face Of Adversity" in 2007 & then an EP "Salvation" just a couple of months ago. We gig often & look to build our career & fanbase the old school way.

MM-What are you currently working on?
CA-Currently we are writing & rehearsing a new album. Set to hopefully record in the summertime. Release date is unknown. It’s as long as it takes.

MM-What do you hope to accomplish in 2008?
CA-The next album is really important to us, so a lot of time is going to be spent on making sure that is the quality we want it to be. With "Face Of Adversity" we did well but we know we can do better & this time everything's looking right. The "Salvation" EP was a taster of what the new line-up can do & we aim to deliver a full album of that quality, if not more. If we can get as good reaction to the album as we have the EP, we'll be on the right lines for sure. We also want to build the band's reputation with a bigger number of people with some of the good gigs we have booked - like the Bulldog Bashbikers festival in August, & the Rock Of Ages Fest in September. We have 1 or 2 possibilities for other high profile gigs but details are under wraps until those are confirmed.

MM-What interests do you have besides music?
CA-Well, I can tell you a lot about what I like. Besides music related to the band I love going to watch other bands. Any form of live music I’m a fan of. Beer. I’m sure that’s not a popular choice to answer that question?? I love the technical side of music as well, I’m a big gear & guitar geek. Martin hasn’t got any particular hobbies, but likes beer also! Adam likes his graphic art design & Warhammer.

MM-What are some of your songs about? Where do you get the inspirations for your song topics?
CA-Well, to be honest, we like to write songs about the bad times in life. That takes up a fair amount. We’re usually happy people, and we’re not particularly depressive people, but we seem to be good about writing songs about that side of life and real things that happen to normal people. Sometimes dramatic stuff. ‘Lost in Forever’, for a quick example, is basically about those times when everyone just seems to be against you. Political stuff, like ‘Natural Disaster’ which is a protest & rant against corporate greed over-riding the earth. Death by Lighting was inspired by the film the Green Mile, the scene where that guy gets fried to death in a horrible way, because the warden didn’t wet the sponge. That’s the inspiration for it really, set the train of thought.

MM-How do you think that you have progressed since your debut "My Tomorrow"?
CA-Massively. We believe there's great songs on My Tomorrow which have served us fantastically in our live set for the past 2/3 years but we were very very young when we did that album & our technical ability & knowledge of production is well ahead now in comparison. My Tomorrow has the classic ‘Death By Lightning’ which everyone just expects us to play live & we still do! And similarly things like Mercenaries & Hear No Evil. But like any band we always want to progress and write new music & perform new music.

MM-In what areas do you think that you still have to improve upon?
CA-Well, everyone still says after all this time. ‘FURY UK is a Live Band’. Live performances have always been our strong point. And our recordings don’t do us justice. Our aim is to make an album that will live up to live performances! What should someone who comes to see you live expect? Fury UK! Madness, energy, entertainment!

MM-Who have you opened for and what have been some of your more memorable shows so far?
CA-Tour dates with Blaze Bayley, Diamond Head, Breed 77, Tokyo Dragons, Panic Cell. Those are probably the biggest ones. But we’ve played with all sorts of bands up and down the country. For me, the Diamond Head show was really memorable. Just the ideal sort of crowd and atmosphere that FURY UK need to be in front of. Same with many of the Blaze Bayley shows, we found so many fans through playing with those guys.

MM-Have you played outside of the UK yet? If so then where, if not then do you hope to sometime this year?
MM-No, we’ve not played outside the UK as of yet. We were scheduled to tour Norway last year but to cut a long story short the promoter made a few mistakes & we were let down. We aim to but don't know if it will be this year. We get a lot of interest from the United States so would like to get there but in honesty we probably should get into Europe/Scandinavia first.

MM-What music are you currently listening to?
CA-Well, I’m an absolute nut for Sabbath. Any era, especially the Dio era. I’m a big Glenn Hughes fan, and anything really that rocks. But I tend to be the dinosaur of the band. I love my classic stuff. Sabbath, Dio, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden….Also I’m a prog lover. Rush, Dream Theater…….Martin pretty much likes anything. He loves his rock n metal stuff. But it doesn’t just stop there, it goes either way. Much more mellow stuff, and different styles, and the other way, much more heavier. Adam, is influenced a lot by Devin Townsend. Listens to a lot of Turisas, Aryeon, Pink Floyd. Very diverse again in the rock eras.

MM-Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why.
Ozzy or Dio
Hmm, hard decision. For me personally, I love both. I prefer Ozzy solo, and Dio with Sabbath.Overall, I think we’d probably say Dio, because he can still and get up and do the business at 65 or whatever he is. And I don’t like the commercial side, which Ozzy has gone down in recent years.

Raven or Saxon
Probably Saxon but that's probably just because we're a lot more familiar.

Motorhead or Metallica
Motorhead because of Lemmy's whole attitude ....that stick to your guns approach to his career, and never let the man dictate what you can or can’t do.

Iron Maiden or Judas Priest
This is a tough one but we'll go for Maiden. Just shading it with the number of absolutely outstandingsongs over the years. Also we admire Steve Harris' attitude & unwavering commitment to the cause – we know he gets some stick but that determination & loyalty to his band family is something we'd like to be seen in ourselves in the future. Still very tricky, this question, as I’m a big Judas Priest and Ripper Owens fan.

What do you think of today's metal scene?
CA-The metal scene is good! It’s great in parts. Sure, you’ll always have that dark shadow called the ‘Music Industry’. Where a lot of bands out there don’t get the credit and recognition they deserve. But at the same time a lot of bands give up too easily nowadays. You have to eat a lot of the bad stuff and plough your way through it all, then when you starting going on the up, the benefits are 500% more fulfilling. The scene as a whole is very eclectic at the moment. We take influences from it all, and respect everything!

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band, your music or anything you want to promote?
CA-People – it’s the same old story, buy our music & come to see us play live. It’s that simple. We want to talk to fans, we want to move forward with our fans, not with the powers above. If you haven't yet seen the band or don’t yet have a CD, get onto us at or If we're not gigging near you yet, we will do soon so keep in touch!

***Thanks to Chris for doing the interview.

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Here are two lists concerning debut albums from the 1980's.

Top five 1980's bands who peaked on their debut LPs.

1)Guns and Roses-Appetite for destruction (1987)

Probably the best debut of the decade and an album that I think helped hard rock and metal to stay afloat for longer than it may have. The Use your Illusion albums were good but nowhere near the level of this classic.

2)Flotsam and Jetsam-Doomsday for the deceiver (1986)

They came out of nowhere with this killer and it made such an impact that Jason Newsted got a job in Metallica and these guys got a major label deal. The sophomore album was good, but they never quite came close to this album.

3)Metal Church-s/t (1984)

Wow, speed metal was just starting to take shape and these guys were already cranking it out. The next three albums were all quite solid, but not to the extent of this one.

4)Faster Pussycat-s/t (1987)

An extremely strong and fun album that probably got slightly overlooked by the release of G-n-R's album hitting around the same time. The sophomore effort was good, but they never quite got back to this style.

5)King Kobra-Ready to strike (1985)

A really strong hard rock effort with a very solid line-up. Unfortunately their label tried to turn them into an AOR band on the sophomore effort and their third release was full of old songs and leftovers.

**Now I also considered Skid Row and LA Guns for the above category as well.

Top five 1980's bands who improved greatly right after their debut LP.

1)Cinderella-Night Songs (1986)

Really just a decent debut at best and often overrated, but after this they came into their own and cranked out three great albums.

2)Anthrax-Fistful of metal (1984)

Not a bad debut and no offense to Neil Turbin, but they were not going to stand out from the crowd doing this kind of material. Then they brought in Joey Belladonna and went to the top of the league.

3)Def Leppard-On through the night (1980)

The potential was there, but High -n- Dry saw them grow by leaps and bounds. They added the hooks, the style and they took off.

4)Dark Angel-We have arrived (1985)

The debut sounds like a bad demo with very little to offer. A year later they put out Darkness Descends which was one my top 15 albums in the great metal year of 1986.

5)Dokken-Breaking the chains (1983)

Just an okay album with a few scattered highlights. Then they stormed back with "Tooth and nail" a year later and they became a solid hard rock act.

**I really considered Dream Theater for this category as well. Some might argue for Slayer in this category, but I happen to like Show no mercy more than most people. Metallica might be another consideration, however despite their improvement on the sophomore album the debut was very important in shaping speed metal. One could also make an argument for Iron Maiden in this category as well. It was a good debut, but Killers saw them really begin to define and develop the style they make their own.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 16, 2008

Big back patch

Back in the day it was the thing to sport a denim jacket with a big back patch sewed onto the back. My first back patch was a Metallica-Ride the lightning one, but it was so cheap that the design started to rub off after maybe three months. So I ordered a more quality patch which is the Anthrax-Spreading the disease patch that I took a picture of here. I had this on my jacket from about 1987 until 1990 when I stopped wearing the jacket. Somewhere around then I removed the patch from the jacket, but I still have it and as you can see it's still in good shape.So I'll probably hold onto it and pass it onto one of my kids later if one of them gets into metal.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A thousand knives of fire-Last train to scornsville

Small Stone

Going into this album these guys obviously knew they were going to separate the styles on the album so they list a Side 1 and Side 2 to let us know. That’s very polite of them but we listeners are mostly educated enough to figure out the difference between the slightly southern rawk songs of side one and the darker, heavier tracks of side two. Both sides are indeed different, but they are linked by the common bond of being mediocre. This was unfortunately one of the more bland stoner albums I have heard in some time, possibly the weakest one I have since the last Bongzilla stunk up my stereo. The vocals sound tired and strained, the music has a few hooks, but not enough groove or grit to every really get much going. They come dangerously close and succeed at times in being forth a whole lot of clichés that could be attached to the stoner rock genre. One of the cool aspects about this genre is that it is open enough that bands can bring different emotions to the mix and it will still work. A thousand knives of fire have some idea of the shell of this style of music, but they fail to fill it in with fire, emotion or even a whole lot of interest on their part. Unfortunately for us and them the band rode this train down to dullsville.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

MSG-In the midst of beauty


After tour cancellations last summer Michael Schenker moved to England and began reuniting the original MSG. So along with Schenker we get Gary Barden on vocals, Neil Murray on bass, Simon Phillips on drums and Don Airey on keys. So they reformed and felt the need to put an album in the hopes of bringing back past glory and moving forward. This is a talented bunch although no one here has really been part of anything that spectacular or relevant in quite some time. The results are better than I expected, but this album does not fall into that rare category known as good reunion albums. There are no bad tracks here nor are there any great or even very good ones either as most of the songs range from fair to decent. It's not a matter of skill, but the major shortcoming is that everyone seems to hang back too much and no one pushes at all. I appreciate Michael Schenker not being a hot dog and trying to just be a virtuoso but this album needed someone to step forward and light that fire. Schenker riffs have some natural groove but he never tries to build any momentum. The rhythm section is solid as it should be with these two veterans towing the line, but they glide far too much. Don Airey has been one of the best keyboard players around, but his parts here are just above average. Gary Barden's vocals are in tune and all, but it sounds like he is just sitting there filling time instead of really belting it out. Of course it's tight, but that's not enough particularly considering when I think the ability is still very much in these guys. I also got the impression that when Don Airey came over on loan from Deep Purple that he swept up some their castoff songs off the floor and brought them with him to use for this project. Okay, maybe that didn't happen, but several songs sound like watered down Deep Purple. Sure this release is better than a number of reunion albums because it's decent overall. However that bit of promise on this album just makes me wished they had taken their time, really listened to what was going on and taken that extra step needed to make it special.

Labels: , ,

Interview with Defcon

Defcon are a hard rock band who got a great bit of attention between about 1988 and 1991, but never got signed back then. Recently they released their old songs on an album through Retrospect and they are set to play at Rocklahoma this summer. I recently checked in with guitarist Tony Artino and drummer Nick LePar to find out more.

MM- What years were you first around and why did you break up?
Tony: Defcon was formed in the Summer of 1987 in Akron, Ohio and we moved to Chicago in the Fall of 1988. We decided to part ways in the Fall of 1991, a few months after we had moved back to Cleveland.

MM- When and why did you reform?
Nick: December 2007 to support the Retrospect CD’s and to do the Rocklahoma show.
Tony: We had just recently gotten back together to play a reunion show at a club in Akron, Ohio this past December of 2007. It had been over 15 years since we had last played together.

MM- Who are your musical influences?
Tony: I would have to say Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Randy Rhoads, Roy Buchanan, Gary Moore, Pat Travers, David Gilmour, Ritchie Blackmore, Neil Schon, Peter Frampton, Stevie Ray Vaughan…to name a few.

Nick: Zeppelin, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Halen & Rush.

MM- Retrospect released a CD with your old demos on it. Have you been working on any new songs? If so then how do they compare with your older material?

Tony: We haven’t worked on any new material as of yet, we’re still reacquainting ourselves with each other. I can see us coming up with some new material once we get into a full rehearsal schedule. We also have a bunch of songs that were never recorded to play around with as well.

Nick: Planning on it, same type style, little heavier, bluesy & modern.

MM- Let’s go back to the late 80’s-early 90’s. How close were you to getting signed? What labels were interested?

Tony: We were touring and showcasing all across the US trying to get a major record deal. We had plenty of Indie offers but we were holding out for a major label. I remember it getting very close with Atlantic Records at one point; they had flown in several times to see us.

Nick: Very close, had some indie offers. Geffen showed some interest as well as others.

MM- I used to have copies of your demos back then. I remember wondering “why have these guys not been signed?” So why were you or why do you think that you were not able to get signed back then?

Tony: I believe that if we had moved to L.A. in 1988 instead of Chicago, things might have turned out differently because of timing. You know the saying “Being at the right place at the right time”. By the time we started getting some serious momentum going (being based out of Chicago), the grunge scene started kicking in and we all know what happened next.

MM- You formed in the Akron/Cleveland area and then moved to Chicago the next year. Why the move and how were the two scenes different from one another?

Nick: We had a great offer to move there. In Chicago, bands were playing originals, but in Cleveland/Akron it was mostly covers.

Tony: Freddie Salem of the Outlaws, a great friend of the band, secured us a production deal in Chicago which we jumped on. They moved us out there, put us all on salaries, set us completely up & we had a rehearsal sound stage complete with full P.A., lights and even surrounded by mirrors to work on our stage show. There was also a 24 track state of the art recording studio at our 24 hour access. Our job was to write, record & jam all day, every day…it was a musicians dream. They had a complete staff working there whose main assignment was to sell & promote Defcon world wide, trying to get us a major label record deal (remember, this was pre-internet). I still have boxes of fan mail that we had received from all over the world and stacks of international rock magazines that we were featured in thanks to all of their efforts.

MM- Who did you open for back then and what were some of your most memorable shows?

Nick: Blue Oyster Cult, Stryper, Pat Travers, Bullet Boys, Enuff Z Nuff, B.T.O., XYZ, Guiffria, to name a few.

Tony: We always loved to play the Akron Agora & the Thirsty Whale in Chicago. One of my most memorable moments was when we were touring Florida and one of our songs came on Z Rock for the first time (a nationally syndicated radio show) as we were driving to the gig…that was a very cool feeling indeed.

MM- What current bands do you like to listen to?

Nick: Disturbed, Godsmack, Velvet Revolver, Buckcherry, Shinedown, Slipknot, Dream Theater & Beyond Fear.

Tony: To be honest, I’m not on top of the current bands but I am happy to hear these guys actually playing some cool guitar riffs again. Since the “anti shred” movement of the early 90’s, I wasn’t very interested in most of the new bands coming out and decided to stay in my own little “shred” world.

PhotobucketMM- Hard rock seems to be making somewhat of a comeback this decade. Do you agree with that and if so then why do you think that is?

Tony: A lot of the music that I hear on the radio today is very reminiscent to what was going on in the 80’s. I do believe that the music has begun to cycle back around, as history seems to always repeat itself. I much prefer what I’m hearing now on the radio than what was going on in the 90’s for sure.

Nick: Yes, because that music was so well produced, and had lots of energy. There isn’t much of anything new that is as appealing, at least to me.

MM- What were you guys doing after this band broke up?

Tony: I moved to L.A. three months after Defcon disbanded and immediately became a session studio guitarist for about 3 years. In 1994 (with the grunge scene now in full swing) I decided to pack it up and move back to Ohio where I changed gears and started a new business and a family…you know, chasing the American dream!

Nick: Held day jobs and played music on the weekends.

MM- You are playing at Rocklahoma on Retrospect’s side stage. What day and time are you playing? What are your expectations about this show?

Tony: We are headlining the Retrospect stage on Saturday night, July 12th at 10:45 PM playing after Warrant and before Cinderella. Retrospect will be video taping & multi tracking our performance for a live Defcon DVD to be released later in the year featuring a bonus track or two. Since all of this Defcon resurgence started back up for us, we have received several offers to do some cool things including two rock festival gigs in Europe. But, for some reason, we didn’t find the time, inspiration or motivation to get the band back together until this Rocklahoma gig fell into our laps. Now that we’re actually motivated to put the show back together, we might end up doing a lot more than we had originally thought.

MM- Outside of Rocklahoma what other plans do you have for the near future?

Tony: At this point, there are no definite plans beyond Rocklahoma but I’m sure once we get this train rolling again, it’s not going to want to stop just yet.

Nick: Hopefully record some new songs and get some unreleased material out to the public.

MM- I remember you guys as having four members most of the time back in the day. When and why did you become a trio?

Tony: Defcon was mostly a power trio throughout the majority of our years together. We had some extremely talented fourth members along the way but the power trio has always been the heart and soul of the band.


MM- Is there anything you wish that you had done differently in your music career?

Tony: If I could change anything it would be that we would have taken our amazing Chicago opportunity a little more seriously than we did at the time. Don’t get me wrong, we wanted to make the big time more than anything but over time we had gotten too comfortable and too wrapped up in the “rock star” lifestyle even though we hadn’t quite made it yet. I believe that we began to lose our focus because of it.

Nick: Been at the right place at the right time, and took it more seriously.

MM- Pick the band from the following pair that you prefer and tell why.
Firehouse or Winger

Nick: Winger-really tough drums, great guitar & vocals.

Tony: I would have to say Winger – Defcon was actually compared to Winger a lot at the time plus I really liked the guitar work on their albums.

Breaker or Shok Paris

Tony: Wow, some old school Cleveland memories…I would have to say Shok Paris because I knew those guys pretty well back in the day and listened in on a couple of their rehearsals, they had what seemed like fifty Marshall stacks lined up in this tiny basement, I thought my head was going to explode while I was down there!

Nick: Shok Paris – More heavy

Survivor or Whitesnake

Tony: I would have to say Whitesnake although I do have an appreciation for Survivor as well. Some of our studio recordings were produced by Rudy Sarzo of Whitesnake & Frankie Sullivan of Survivor; both of these guys were amazing to work with.

Nick: Whitesnake – Killer everything, plus Rudy Sarzo

Aerosmith or KISS
Nick: Kiss – Great show, which is always a plus.

Tony: I would have to say Aerosmith because I dig their bluesy & consistent vibe and the fact that they have stood the test of time through several decades. In my opinion, Kiss has the ultimate live show and a handful of killer tunes but I’m not a huge fan of their musical abilities. I am, however, a huge fan of their amazing marketing skills.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?

Tony: We’ are extremely grateful for the overwhelming response that our Retrospect Records release has received from all over the world. It has truly been an unbelievable experience for us and we’re going to ride this wave as far it will take us. It’s like having a second chance to do something that you have always wanted to do and love doing, who could ask for anything more at this time in our lives.

***Thanks to Nick and Tony for doing the interview.

Labels: ,