Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Blind Guardian, Ratt, Hendrix, Iced Earth, White Zombie

This week we travel from one of the earliest tunes of hard rock to one of the most recent ...

"Noldor (Dead Winter Reigns)," Blind Guardian. From the album Nightfall in Middle Earth (1998). Just one of many majestic tracks from Blind Guardian's masterwork based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "Silmarillion." The song, which tells the story of the Noldor elves, has some nice changes of pace with huge, soaring chorus harmonies, blazing metal moments and some nice symphonic touches.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Lacuna Coil, "Broken Crown Halo"

After the more commercial hard rock approach on Karmacode in 2006 and the extremely poppy, but surprisingly enjoyable Shallow Life in 2009, Lacuna Coil returned to a bit darker sound for 2012’s Dark Adrenaline. The Italian rockers continue that trend on Broken Crown Halo.

There won’t be anything jarring on this release for fans who have followed the band over the years. Broken Crown Halo contains the same mix of ethereal hard rock, goth overtones and accessible pop hooks that have become Lacuna Coil’s bread and butter. There’s a little added flair here and there, but by and large, this record is what you expect from them.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Sabbath, III, Queensryche, Hellbound Glory, Soilwork

The "triumphant" return of the Saturday Shuffle? A nice mix of heavy and hick anyway ... 

"Hand of Doom," Black Sabbath. From the album Paranoid (1970). This dark song about drug use is one of the oft-overlooked gems from Black Sabbath's most famous album. Geezer Butler delivers a mesmerizing bass line that's just perfect for the tone and subject matter of the song.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: The Pretty Reckless, "Going to Hell"

If I’d heard of The Pretty Reckless before I stumbled across the title track of their latest album, Going to Hell, I likely would have written them off as soon as I discovered that their singer was one Taylor Momsen, an actress from the TV show “Gossip Girls.”

Admittedly, I know nothing about the show, but I’m not inclined to carve out time for an actor trying to cash in on her TV fame with a bad record. I can be like that.

So, I’m glad that I heard “Going to Hell” before I knew that fact about The Pretty Reckless. The song got my attention right away with a big, catchy opening guitar riff and an energetic, punk-influenced verse. That riff comes right back on the chorus, and there’s something in the melody of that chorus that puts me in mind of Alice Cooper. It’s a ripping tune from start to finish, and sent me looking for more from the band.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stuck in My Head: Metallica, "Lords of Summer"

For the past nearly 25 years, there’s been no more polarizing band in metal, or perhaps all of rock, than Metallica.

Since the release of that monstrous self-titled album in 1991, fans have been thrown into three different camps. There are the loyalists that have followed and defended them faithfully through all of their ups and downs. The folks, like me, who have mixed feelings about their work since that time, but try to keep an open mind despite some disappointments. Then, there are the people who will never be satisfied with anything the band does again and take every opportunity to criticize.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Review: Van Canto, "Dawn of the Brave"

As bizarre as it is, I wasn’t sure that I was going to review this latest record from a cappella metallers Van Canto. Then I got to the final song on the record, a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” and I just couldn’t resist.

“Paranoid,” as we all know, is a fairly simple three-chord tune and wouldn’t seem to lend itself to the multi-voice a cappella treatment as well as a more complex composition, but Van Canto gives it the old college try. The results, with guys going “bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom dah dum doo” is at the same time sort of ridiculous and, strangely, absolutely entrancing. I had to listen to at least three times in a row, and I’m still not sure what I think about it. But I think you need to hear it.