Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: III, Hank Jr., Priest, ST, Godsmack


It's a shame I couldn't have had a Hank Sr. song come up to hit the Hank trifecta, but two out of three ain't bad. Things get a bit heavier after that ...


Hank III, “Thunderstorms and Neon Signs.” From the album Risin’ Outlaw (1999). One of several Wayne Hancock songs that III did in his early years, this tune, highly influenced by his grandfather, fits III’s wail perfectly. This version is great, but I think I still prefer the Hancock version which has a little more character.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Still Spinning: Warlock, "Triumph and Agony"

Though often overlooked and rarely talked about, Warlock must be acknowledged as a pioneering band in metal.

Looking around the metal landscape these days, women are almost as plentiful as men. Gone, too, are the days of women writhing around on the floor in their videos a la Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly” to appeal to the male-dominated fan base. These days, to suggest something like that to some of the women in metal might get you a punch in the nose … or a swift kick somewhere else.

During the early to mid-1980s, though, women in heavy metal were a rarity. You had Joan Jett doing a heavy-rock style that was close, but not quite metal. Lita Ford was laying down some heavy licks, but it was still a few years before her 1988 breakthrough album Lita would blow the doors open for ladies in metal.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Stuck in My Head: "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"


I was probably 12 or so when my family got cable TV for the first time. I believe that plan had 12 channels — which seemed like a wealth of content to someone who had previously only received three, or a fuzzy fourth when the weather was right and you adjusted the antenna to just the right spot.

One of those channels, at least for a little while, was HBO. In those days, HBO wasn’t stacked with as many promos for their stuff as regular TV was with commercials, and the network would sometimes play music videos between programs. It was there that I first discovered “Weird Al” Yankovic.

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.