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.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Alice in Chains, Queen, DAC, Rob Zombie, White Wizzard

A few bona fide classics and one big bust make up this week's edition of the Shuffle ...

Alice in Chains, “Grind.” From the album Alice in Chains (1995). Alice in Chains’ self-titled record seems to get overlooked a little, but it’s a great album. The grooving, grinding riff of “Grind” is a great example of what you can find. Layne Staley’s dark and angry vocal on the verse gives way to a rare, almost hopeful chorus from the band.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Interview: Ted Nugent

No matter the title of his forthcoming record, Ted Nugent makes it pretty clear pretty quickly that he doesn’t have any intention of shutting up.

When we began this interview, ostensibly to give the Motor City Madman a chance to talk about Shut Up and Jam, a simple question about the title led — in true Nugent form — to a profanity-laced tirade about the current administration and the state of government. This being a site about music, not politics, we’ll spare you the majority of that. Suffice it to say that he’s not a fan.

Once that was out of the way, though, the 65-year-old rocker settled in (if, that is, you can say the ever-animated and hyperactive Nuge ever “settles” in to anything) to discuss some other topics. Over the course of the conversation, we bounced from place-to-place, with the always ever-so-humble guitarist touching on the new record, the influence of Mitch Ryder, the reunion with long-time vocalist Derek St. Holmes and the effects of aging.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Sturgill Simpson, "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music"

Sturgill Simpson opens Metamodern Sounds in Country Music with a bit of a curveball for fans of his outstanding solo debut High Top Mountain. “Turtles All the Way Down” shows a more philosophic side to the throwback country singer, and even throws in some odd spacy, progressive sounds.

Now, don’t get it all mixed up. There are some warbly guitars and echoing vocals, and he is sharing thoughts on religion, man’s place in the universe and, yes, “reptile aliens made of light” that cut you open and pull out all of your pain. Anchoring that, though, is the same old school, heavily Waylon-influenced country that made High Top Mountain such an awesome record.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Metallica, Gloryhammer, Hank Jr., Hank Sr., Bruce Dickinson, Jackson Taylor

Metal, old school country, a classic rock flavored Bruce Dickinson tune and a little new-school country to round things out ...

“Wherever I May Roam,” Metallica. From the album Metallica (1991). From a sitar opening lick to a huge, epic tune. I talked a bit back about how I’ve come to have more appreciation for this record, but this is one of the songs that I always loved.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Body Count, "Manslaughter"

As its opening song “Talk Shit, Get Shot” would suggest, much of Body Count’s return album Manslaughter revels in gratuitous violence and sex. That’s always been the case for Ice-T’s metal outfit, of course, but most of the band’s early output built that around a framework of social commentary.

A lot of the material on Manslaughter takes that violence and sex to an absurd level, but I have to admit that many of the tunes, like that opening song, are pretty catchy.

If there’s one reason that you should check out this record though, it has to be for their new version of Suicidal Tendencies’ “Institutionalized.” Metal fans will be familiar with the original, in which the subject’s concerned parents want to get some help for what they see as his problems. The classic ST song introduced the black humor that has permeated frontman Mike Muir’s work and spawned perhaps the band’s most memorable lyric as Muir calls for a Pepsi.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: Hellbound Glory, "LV"

After 2011′s Damaged Goods, it looked like Reno’s Hellbound Glory might be on the way to stardom. They landed an opening spot for Kid Rock, a coup for an independent underground country act. There was talk of a fourth album to come soon. Then, they just sort of disappeared.

There were occasional rumblings from the camp — their single “The Feud,” which had a much louder and more electrified sound than what fans were used to; a couple of live YouTube “albums”; a scattering of cover tunes on the Internet. But nothing really substantial, until now. LV, named after Hellbound Glory frontman Leroy Virgil, is a five-song EP with a very strong connection to Virgil’s home of Aberdeen, Washington.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Shuffle: Iced Earth, Jason Boland, Queensryche, Dash, Zeppelin

There seems to be a theme about ones and onlys going on in this week's shuffle. Oh, and check out the nifty new logo so that when this feeds to Facebook, you guys won't have to look at my ugly mug plastered across the page ... at least, I hope.

"Burning Times,” Iced Earth. From the album Something Wicked This Way Comes (1998). If I had to pick one Iced Earth song, this would probably be the one. The riff is awesome, the tune is full of power, and it’s a great way to kick off the best album of the Matt Barlow era.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Lillian Axe, "One Night in the Temple"

A while back, Lillian Axe founder and guitarist Steve Blaze had the idea to put together an intimate acoustic show for a select few friends, family and fans. The concept took on a life of its own, evolving into One Night in the Temple, a three-disc (2CD, 1 DVD/Blu-Ray) chronicle of the band’s first official acoustic performance.

The evening was captured in February 2013 at Sound Landing Studios in Covington, Louisiana, a converted Masonic Temple — hence, the name of the album — in front of a very small crowd of friends, family and a few lucky fans. Over the course of about two hours, the band covers material ranging from their 1988 eponymous debut to 2012’s XI: The Days Before Tomorrow, including a few rarities that, in some cases, have never been played live. Some of the songs are tailor-made for the acoustic approach, others are a bit of a surprise.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Best of 2014: Mid-year country and Southern rock

Wow. Here’s a first: Over the few years that I’ve been doing a Southern rock and country list, I’ve once or twice had to struggle to get 10 albums at the end of the year.

Hard rock and metal is my first love, so I don’t always dig into the country and Southern rock genres with the same vigor.

This year is a bit different, though. I’ve heard a little more and explored a little more, and I’ve got a Top 10 at midstream, all of which I’ve really enjoyed. I’m interested to see what this list looks like at the end of the year …

No. 10 — WILLIE NELSON – BAND OF BROTHERS: This record is not quite as much fun as his 2012 outing Heroes, but it’s still Willie Nelson. He penned most of the songs on this record, which has been a change from recent years, and no one can match the phrasing of Nelson’s performance.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Best of 2014: Mid-year hard rock and metal

Just so we’re clear, this list gets completely blown up in a couple of weeks when I can officially add Judas Priest’s Redeemer of Souls, which I’ve been jamming at high volumes for about a week now. But, at the official midpoint of the year, these are my picks in hard rock and metal.

Overall, it’s been a good year thus far in the genres. There are a few old favorites, at least one newcomer and a couple of surprises …

No. 10 — BODY COUNT – MANSLAUGHTER: Eight years after a disappointing return with 2006′s Murder 4 Hire, Ice-T’s metal outfit brings back its early glory, delivering a violent gutpunch of an album that’s a little heavier on gratuitous sex and violence than social commentary, but still entertaining.