Thursday, July 18, 2019

Dream Sets: Iron Maiden

As I prepare to check the biggest band off my bucket list in a couple of months, I thought I’d give them the Dream Set treatment. The cut here was brutal. 
As Nicko McBrain announced in a series of hilarious videos, they’ll be playing 16 songs, nearly two hours, and still not hitting everything I want. My rules limit it to 13, which is even tougher. There aren’t a lot of surprises in this setlist, and as much as I tried to skip a few of the “big” numbers, I just couldn’t do it.


  1. “Wrathchild” (Iron Maiden, 1980). I love this song as an opener. It’s high-energy, aggressive and gets things kicked off the right way.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Review: Sweet Oblivion (feat. Geoff Tate), "Sweet Oblivion"

When it comes to Geoff Tate, I admit that I’ve been a hater for a while, but Sweet Oblivion’s new self-titled release is not bad at all.

It’s an interesting project in that it seems the band had the music written, and Frontiers Records put them in touch with Tate. Apparently there was very little collaboration, which doesn’t seem to be the setup for a good record, but Sweet Oblivion defies the odds.

There’s definitely a classic Queensryche vibe to the music on this album, though if guitarist Simone Mularoni is to be believed, that may not be due to Tate. In an interview with Aardschok Magazine, he says that when he submitted the material to Tate, it came back with a closer resemblance to hip-hop than Queensryche. After a few rounds of disagreements between guitarist, singer and label, Mularoni says Tate recorded the vocals on his tour bus and sent them back. I’m guessing from this interview, we won’t see a tour for this project.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Review: Gloryhammer, "Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex"

I wish it were possible for Christopher Bowes to release new music every week. No matter how lousy the day or how bad the mood, it’s nothing that a new Gloryhammer or Alestorm song can’t fix.

The latest release from his heroic power metal outfit Gloryhammer bears a mouthful of a title – Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex – and a story that’s just as big. It concludes a trilogy of albums that started in a fictional version of medieval Scotland on Tales from the Kingdom of Fife, took us to outer space with Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards, and now takes us to another dimension.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Review: Judas Priest at First Security Ampitheater (June 1, 2019, Little Rock, Ark.)

I consider it a major parenting win that one of my teenage son’s favorite bands is Judas Priest. Oddly, despite my lifelong love of heavy metal, they were also one of the bucket-list bands I hadn’t seen until last fall, when we got a chance to see them in Biloxi, Miss.

I left that concert a little disappointed, not in Priest’s performance, which was great, but in other aspects of the show. The seating chart at the venue wasn’t accurate, and our seats turned out to not be so great. But the big turn-off was the fact that the crowd was just dead that night.

I wanted a better Judas Priest experience, and when they announced a return to the U.S. this year, I couldn’t resist trying a different city. I’ve had mostly good concert experiences in Little Rock, and this one was no exception.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Dream Sets: Savatage

If ever there were a setlist that I’m prepared to cheat on, it’s this one. I didn’t, though (mostly).


  1. “Prelude to Madness/Hall of the Mountain King” (Hall of the Mountain King, 1987). Right off the top, I’m torn. “Hall of the Mountain King” should, by all rights, be the final song. But by now you guys know my love of a good intro leading into a blistering tune to start the show. I’ve always had this vision of the band playing “Prelude” with the thunder crashing, some flashing lights to represent the lightning maybe a few lasers or fast-moving lights, then after that first riff of “Mountain King” when the full band kicks in, everything comes on and the stage and band is fully revealed. It’s my dream show, so that’s what I’m going with.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Review: "The Dirt"

The Dirt delivers exactly what you’d expect in a biopic of Motley Crue – a trashy, but fun tale of debauchery that turns dark but never quite faces its demons. Much like the band’s lyrics, the movie often skips over substance and tough topics in favor of more sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

I didn’t go into The Dirt expecting a factual, documentary-style account of Motley Crue’s rise and fall. It’s a movie. Some things will be dramatized, some facts will change and some things will be completely made up. The film even acknowledges this in an early aside to the camera from guitarist Mick Mars: He lets the audience know that the telling of how they met legendary manager Doc McGhee is complete BS because, “Doc would never come to a dump like this.”

In some ways, The Dirt is refreshingly honest. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the band acknowledges that, for the most part, they were a bunch of idiots. At other times, though, it glosses over things that could make it a stronger, more meaningful film.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Dream Sets: Metallica

This one was brutal. Easily the toughest I’ve done so far because so many songs are on the same level in my mind. I basically want to hear the first four albums in their entirety, plus a few from later records. I could cheat and do a few medleys, but I didn’t.


  1. “Battery” (Master of Puppets, 1986). I always love a good intro that blasts into a heavy song to start a show. This one fits the bill.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Dream Sets: Aerosmith

This second installment will be quite the challenge for me as one of my absolute favorite bands. I could fill a 13-song playlist based mostly around their debut album and 1976’s Rocks.


  1. “No Surprize” (Night in the Ruts, 1979). While this is definitely not my favorite Aerosmith album, I do love this song, and I think it would be a great opener. It’s high energy and introduces the band.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Review: In Flames, "I, The Mask"


After three of the first four songs released from In Flames’ latest showed a lot of promise, I was hoping to party like it was 2002 with great albums from both Soilwork and In Flames again. In the end, though, it’s a mixed bag with some really strong songs, but quite a few skips.

What’s Hot?

Fans of the band’s earlier work should be pleased that there are heavier songs on this record than they’ve done in a while. It starts with album opener “Voices,” which definitely has some Clayman feel in the verses. That’s followed with the title track, which is an absolute banger. After that, things get spottier. There’s heaviness to be found in “I Am Above,” “Burn” and the addictive riffing of “Deep Inside,” which does a really good job of blending their styles. Yes, the heavy songs here do have more melodic, mainstream choruses, but in most cases, they’re very catchy.