Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Down, "Down IV: Part 2"

On this second in a series of EPs which will eventually add up to Down’s fourth studio album, the band continues to dish out the same Sabbath-inspired punishment that marked the first EP released in late 2012.

Nowhere is that more evident than fourth track “Conjure,” which follows the Sabbath template to the letter. The eight and a half minute track opens with a ten-ton, doomy slab of a droning riff that probably has Tony Iommi hitting his lawyer’s speed dial right about now. Then Phil Anselmo (Pantera) comes in on vocals, also sounding a bit Ozzy-ish, at least on those first lines. Then about halfway through, guitarist Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity) kicks the speed up with a galloping break in the old Sabbath tradition. Finally, they settle back into that heavy dirge to finish things out.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: Metallica, "Through the Never"

So, I’m just getting around to checking out the Metallica “movie” since it hit Netflix, and it’s a bit of an odd beast.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Review: Anti-Mortem, "New Southern"

Hard to believe that I almost passed on this record. I saw the band name Anti-Mortem and immediately thought death metal — even though, I guess the name would technically mean anti-death. I couldn’t have been further off the mark.

New Southern
, in fact, is the finest piece of Southern-fried hard rock that I’ve heard since Texas Hippie Coalition’s Peacemaker a couple of years back.

Hailing from Oklahoma, Anti-Mortem brings together a variety of rock influences, ranging from Metallica-style thrash to a more commercial brand of modern hard rock to classic Southern rock. That results in a record that should have at least something for just about any fan of any kind of hard rock. New Southern is a heavy and hard-hitting album, but the beauty of it is in the abundance of huge hooks. Just about every song on the record has at least some part that you’ll still be humming hours later.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Poison, BLS, Quiet Riot, Pantera, Alestorm

A guilty pleasure, a rare miss from Zakk Wylde and the beginnings of my metal journey ...

“Look What the Cat Dragged In,” Poison. From the album Look What the Cat Dragged In (1986). So, yeah, it’s tough to defend Poison, but I will defend this song against the most ardent of hair metal haters. The riff is tough as nails – the best in the band’s repertoire, and despite its shallow nature, it’s a great hard rock song.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: Sebastian Bach, "Give 'Em Hell"

Last time out, Sebastian Bach brought an unknown teenage guitar whiz to the party. On Give ‘Em Hell, he calls on some slightly better known players — including bassist Duff McKagan (Guns n’ Roses, Velvet Revolver) and guitarists Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) and John 5 (Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth).

The results are much the same, though — a lot of tough, gut punch guitar riffs that aren’t always borne out by Bach’s vocal melodies.

While I’ve quite enjoyed most of Bach’s solo records, and Give ‘Em Hell is no exception, I voice the same annoyance with each one. In his desire to show off his range, he has a tendency to take a gnarly metal tune with great promise and soften it with a lilting, soaring chorus.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Metallica, BLS, Saigon Kick, Savatage, Carcass

I'm feeling some love for 1991 in today's shuffle ...

“My Friend of Misery,” Metallica. From the album Metallica (1991). This song was one of the weaker links of “The Black Album,” but still not a bad tune. It was one of those few cases where bassist Jason Newsted was able to grab a little of the spotlight.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Still Spinning: Ozzy Osbourne, "No Rest for the Wicked"

Reading a recent interview with guitarist Zakk Wylde, who was discussing the 25th anniversary of Ozzy Osbourne’s No Rest for the Wicked, I first felt kind of old. Wow, a quarter century. Then, I immediately dialed up that record, which never strays far from my playlist.

For me, No Rest for the Wicked ranks right up there with Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman in the discussion of Ozzy’s best solo records. It was a groundbreaking album for him in several ways, not the least of which was a fresh-faced 20-year-old shredder on guitar who completely changed the sound.

That clean-shaven kid with the teased and frosted hair is practically unrecognizable from the gnarly, scruffy, bearded berserker we know Wylde as today, but he infused Ozzy’s music with a new energy and helped the metal godfather release his heaviest solo record to that point.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Review: White Light Cemetery, White Light Cemetery

How often do you go to a country show and walk away with a new metal record? Almost as rare is popping in a small indie debut and hearing what sounds like a well-oiled, seasoned machine roar out of the speakers.

I had both experiences a couple of weeks ago when I caught White Light Cemetery, out of Lafayette, Louisiana, opening for Jackson Taylor and the Sinners. It seemed an odd combination at the time, but by the end of their set, White Light Cemetery had won over the whole crowd with a tight, grooving and highly entertaining show.

The band blends a few interesting worlds. They’re very much rooted in the sludgy swamp metal of their Louisiana brethren Down and Crowbar, but there’s also a heavy influence of Southern and stoner rock. It results in songs that are often very heavy, but also usually have more of a joyful tone than those other bands that I mentioned.