Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: Savatage, Dangerous Toys, Disturbed, Pride & Glory, Dimmu Borgir

It's Saturday, time for more shuffling fun:

“Alone You Breathe,” Savatage. From the album Handful of Rain (1994). While good, this was a strange Savatage album. Criss Oliva had been killed by drunk driver and his brother Jon threw himself into this album, writing and performing most of the instruments, though he’s not credited. This song is something of a tribute to Criss, and it’s one of the most powerful in the band’s catalog. There’s a nice interplay between Zachary Stevens and Jon (again uncredited, but unmistakable) in the harmonies of this song, and it also borrows from the band’s greatest song (and one of music’s greatest songs) “Believe.”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Pinnick Gales Pridgen, "Pinnick Gales Pridgen"

These days, it seems “supergroups” are a dime a dozen, but occasionally the combination works.

A new group with Dug Pinnick (King’s X, Poundhound), Eric Gales (Eric Gales Band, Lauryn Hill) and Thomas Pridgen (Mars Volta) is one of those occasions.

I’m an admitted King’s X fanboy. I’m familiar with the other two, but not a big fan of either’s previous work. Together, though, they create a dense soundscape for a three-piece that delivers slabs of grooving, electric blues-laced, funky hard rock.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: Holy Grail, "Ride the Void"

When one of the early lineups of White Wizzard split in 2008, it gave the rock world two of the best traditional metal acts out there.

Holy Grail, which originally featured former White Wizzard vocalist James Paul Luna, guitarist James J. LaRue and drummer Tyler Meahl, took a more serious and modern approach to the style, compared to the retro campiness that their former band does well. Their debut, 2010’s Crisis in Utopia, was one of my favorites of the year, and to this day, I think I like it more and more every time I hear it.

The biggest question about Ride the Void for me was whether or not Holy Grail could avoid the sophomore slump. The answer is that they absolutely do.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: Aerosmith, Mojo Gurus, Ozzy, Savatage, Dio

And off we go on another round of the shuffle:

“Come Together,” Aerosmith. From the album Greatest Hits (1980). Originally recorded for the film “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” this cover of the Beatles’ classic might have been the best thing about the project. For me, it’s hands-down, the best Beatles cover ever, though I do admit to being an early Aerosmith fanboy.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: 4ARM, "Submission for Liberty"

I grew up in the golden age of thrash, and I loved it from the first time I heard it. The precise riffs, the often-complex arrangements and all the power and aggression I needed while still retaining melody and musicality. It was, and still is, my preferred subgenre of metal.

I had the Big 4 – Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax – all in their prime. I had Testament, Exodus, Overkill, D.R.I., Flotsam and Jetsam and several others that I know I’m forgetting at the moment. From the German variant, I had Kreator and Sodom. Out of Canada, I had Annihilator doing their own thing.

Against that lineup of bands, it’s hard for any of the young bands of the recent thrash resurgence to compete.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: Soil, Jackyl, Brand New Sin, Iron Maiden, Megadeth

Today I launch a new weekly feature here that serves little point other than maybe occasionally embarrassing me or making me remember a record I’ve forgotten about.

I call it the Saturday Shuffle, and it goes like this: I’ll put my music collection on shuffle and comment each week on the first five songs that come blasting out of the speakers. No skips, no hedging over potentially embarrassing tunes that might pop up. The only songs that I’ll skip are duplicates that I’ve covered before. I hope you enjoy it, maybe find something that you’ve not heard or forgotten or possibly get an occasional laugh.

And away we go:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Still Spinning: Judas Priest, "Painkiller"

In 1990, Judas Priest was coming out of something of a tough period.

After recording metal classics like British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance in the early 1980s, they had released the polarizing Turbo, with its synth sounds, and the lackluster companion piece Ram It Down. They needed to make a statement and reclaim their stranglehold on the metal world. And Painkiller was that statement.

British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance are fantastic albums – absolute classics of the metal genre. But when I really need a Priest fix, Painkiller is my go-to album. It remains my favorite work from their entire catalog.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Review: Dale Watson & His Lonestars, "El Rancho Azul"

If anyone can be said to be the “godfather” of the underground traditional country movement, it would probably be Dale Watson.

Though he released his first album in 1995, his roots in music go much farther back, as does his sound. He’s got the style, story and look of the classic country artists, and he’s damned proud of it.

Even before his latest album El Rancho Azul hit shelves, Watson had a brand-new song you won’t find on the album making rounds on YouTube. The singer has often been critical of the commercial country establishment, starting with the song “Nashville Rash” on his first album, and several others sprinkled throughout his career, including the fan favorite “Country My Ass.”

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Review: S.U.N., "Something Unto Nothing"

Dear Aerosmith dudes, 

This is what your music is supposed to sound like: 

Please listen and take notes. 

Sincerely, Your fans 

I joke, but only just a little.

My first thought on hearing “I’m the One,” the latest single from S.U.N., was that it had the strut, swagger and attitude of classic Aerosmith. That holds true throughout the album, which is one of the better slabs of old-fashioned, straight ahead hard rock that I’ve heard in a long time.