Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: Ted Nugent, "Shut Up & Jam"

In recent years, Ted Nugent has spent just as much time arguing on news talk shows as he has on the stage. And while it’s sometimes fun to watch the unfiltered, animated Nugent cut loose on a tirade, there are other times when you wish that he’d take the advice of his newest album title to Shut Up & Jam.

But that’s not how Uncle Nuge works. He approaches everything the same way – loud, brash and in your face. Complaining about Ted Nugent being crazy is like complaining about the sky being blue. You may not like it, but it’s always been that way and there’s nothing you can do to change it. So, it’s no surprise that Shut Up & Jam has some soapbox moments, but not as many as I had feared.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Something Borrowed: "Let It Go," Betraying the Martyrs/Idina Menzel

I feel like I may be the only person on the planet that doesn’t love Disney’s Frozen. Everyone I talked to raved about it, and when I finally saw it, I thought it was terribly overrated.

The animation was nice, but it just wasn’t a very good movie — and certainly not up to the standards of a really good Disney animated movie. I thought the first 45 minutes were pretty boring, and the next 45 minutes were just OK. Even the songs that everyone else went crazy over, I thought were a bit overdone.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Judas Priest, "Redeemer of Souls"

To say that I didn’t like Judas Priest’s 2008 concept album Nostradamus would be far too kind. In my review of it, I used words like “overbearing,” “self-important,” “bloated,” “pompous” and “boring.” Six years later, we have the follow-up, Redeemer of Souls, and you won’t find any of those words in the review that follows.

One of my biggest criticisms of Nostradamus was that it was Judas Priest pretending to be something they’re not. With Redeemer of Souls, Priest gives me, and I’m guessing a lot of other fans, exactly what I want — tight, fast and biting traditional heavy metal.

A thunderclap introduces opening track “Dragonaut,” and it seems as though the lightning bolt hit something in the band, electrifying and re-energizing them. If you don’t like “Dragonaut,” you don’t like Judas Priest. It’s as simple as that. There’s a big guitar riff from Glenn Tipton, a great catchy melody and Rob Halford wailing away as only he can. Yeah, maybe the guy has lost a little bit on the high end of his range, but he more than makes up for it in the fire that he puts into these vocals.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Sevendust, Megadeth, Firewind, Crue, Body Count

All heavy rock, all the time in this week's shuffle.

Sevendust, “Bitch.” From the album Sevendust (1997). The mid- to late-1990s were kind of a barren time in hard rock and metal for me, but in the waning years of the decade, a few albums came along that excited me. One of those was Sevendust’s debut. Though many copied the sound in the years that followed, it was something different at the time. I still can’t listen to a song like “Bitch” without cranking it up and screaming along.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Quiet Riot, "10"

Quiet Riot’s first album since the death of frontman Kevin DuBrow arrived recently with little fanfare or, really, even any warning for fans.

First thing’s first, and that’s the rant that you knew was coming. Drummer Frankie Banali is the only remaining member from the band’s classic Metal Health lineup, and this isn’t really Quiet Riot. It’s a group of guys with a connection to Quiet Riot going out and playing those songs. I realize Banali was a part of the band’s most successful period and, aside from a stint with W.A.S.P. has been with Quiet Riot pretty much continuously since 1980. He had a major hand in writing those songs and has every right to continue to perform them. I still get grumpy about it. Sorry.

Rant done. Now I can talk about the record, which features six new songs with Banali, bassist Chuck Wright (who has done a few tours of duty with QR), guitarist Alex Grossi and perpetual replacement singer Jizzy Pearl (Love/Hate, Ratt, L.A. Guns). Banali went through a string of short-term singers before settling on Pearl, and from what I heard of the others on YouTube videos, he does seem to be the best fit. DuBrow’s distinctive voice is difficult to replace, but there’s just enough of his tone in Pearl’s to make a connection.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Arch Enemy, "War Eternal"

The Alissa White-Gluz era of Arch Enemy begins with quite a bang on War Eternal, the band’s 10th album — and one of its best overall efforts to date.

For the record, there’s no drama with former vocalist Angela Gossow. She stepped down due to family and other obligations, but remains with the band in a managerial position and even had a hand in choosing her successor. White-Gluz, who some fans may know from The Agonist, will be, at the same time, a familiar and quite different voice for the band. Her death growls have as much venom as Gossow’s ever did, but I would say that White-Gluz’s vocals also sound just a wee bit more feminine. I realize that’s really relative when you’re talking about death growls, but there are more moments when I realize there’s a woman snarling here than there were with Gossow.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Alice in Chains, Queen, DAC, Rob Zombie, White Wizzard

A few bona fide classics and one big bust make up this week's edition of the Shuffle ...

Alice in Chains, “Grind.” From the album Alice in Chains (1995). Alice in Chains’ self-titled record seems to get overlooked a little, but it’s a great album. The grooving, grinding riff of “Grind” is a great example of what you can find. Layne Staley’s dark and angry vocal on the verse gives way to a rare, almost hopeful chorus from the band.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Interview: Ted Nugent

No matter the title of his forthcoming record, Ted Nugent makes it pretty clear pretty quickly that he doesn’t have any intention of shutting up.

When we began this interview, ostensibly to give the Motor City Madman a chance to talk about Shut Up and Jam, a simple question about the title led — in true Nugent form — to a profanity-laced tirade about the current administration and the state of government. This being a site about music, not politics, we’ll spare you the majority of that. Suffice it to say that he’s not a fan.

Once that was out of the way, though, the 65-year-old rocker settled in (if, that is, you can say the ever-animated and hyperactive Nuge ever “settles” in to anything) to discuss some other topics. Over the course of the conversation, we bounced from place-to-place, with the always ever-so-humble guitarist touching on the new record, the influence of Mitch Ryder, the reunion with long-time vocalist Derek St. Holmes and the effects of aging.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Sturgill Simpson, "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music"

Sturgill Simpson opens Metamodern Sounds in Country Music with a bit of a curveball for fans of his outstanding solo debut High Top Mountain. “Turtles All the Way Down” shows a more philosophic side to the throwback country singer, and even throws in some odd spacy, progressive sounds.

Now, don’t get it all mixed up. There are some warbly guitars and echoing vocals, and he is sharing thoughts on religion, man’s place in the universe and, yes, “reptile aliens made of light” that cut you open and pull out all of your pain. Anchoring that, though, is the same old school, heavily Waylon-influenced country that made High Top Mountain such an awesome record.