Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: Ashes of Ares, Soil, Alice in Chains, Savatage, Damn Yankees

This week, we start out with some new stuff and end with a couple of old favorites, including one all-time favorite ...

Ashes of Ares, “Move the Chains.” From the album Ashes of Ares (2013). Made up of fomer members of Iced Earth (vocalist Matt Barlow and guitarist Freddie Vidales) and Nevermore (drummer Van Williams), Ashes of Ares sounds pretty much like what you’d expect. That’s not a bad thing at all, though. “Move the Chains” is one of the better tracks on a very good album, very reminiscent of Barlow’s early work with Iced Earth.

Soil, “Loaded Gun.” From the album Whole (2013). The first track of Soil’s first studio record with singer Ryan McCombs back in the fold sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s a great hard rocker with a big hook. There’s nothing groundbreaking about it, but it’s good.

Alice in Chains, “A Looking in View.” From the album Black Gives Way to Blue (2009). I was somewhat surprised by how much I liked this record. As a big fan of Layne Staley, I knew the band wouldn’t be the same without his voice, and it wasn’t. It was different, but still enjoyable. That said, there were several songs where I really missed Staley, and this was one of them.

Savatage, “Believe.” From the album Streets (1991). In my opinion, this song is THE greatest metal ballad ever written, and, in fact, one of the greatest songs ever written, period. Streets was quite an ambitious project for the band, as they began to weave some of the symphonic elements that would mark their work for years to come and also to stray away from the typical metal fare they had delivered in the past and into some uncharted territory. “Believe” is the crowning achievement of the record.

Damn Yankees, “Piledriver.” From the album Damn Yankees (1990). The grouping of a couple of radio-friendly rockers in Styx’s Tommy Shaw and Night Ranger’s Jack Blades with rock ‘n’ roll wildman Ted Nugent probably shouldn’t have worked, but it did. If I had one complaint with the band’s debut record, it was that there wasn’t enough Nuge. I mean, why have him in the band if not to offset the commercial tendencies of Shaw and Blades with some craziness every now and then. This song was one of the few moments on the record where Uncle Ted was fully in control, and it’s one of the best moments.

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