Friday, April 21, 2023

Review: Metallica, "72 Seasons"

Metallica’s 72 Seasons will, no doubt, be one of the most loved metal albums of the year. It will also be one of the most hated.

That’s the spot the band has found itself in with every album released since the early ’90s. (Except maybe St. Anger, which is pretty much reviled by most.) You could make the argument that it goes back farther than that. There are fans that will say And Justice for All was the beginning of the end because they did a music video for “One,” and I’ve heard arguments at one time or another as to why every album since Kill ‘Em All has sucked.

I’m guilty, too. I was furious when the self-titled Black Album came out in 1991, and all of a sudden people who had been making fun of me for listening to Metallica for years were driving around blasting “Enter Sandman.” I felt strangely betrayed. I dislike the song immensely to this day, though I did eventually come around to the album with time. Since then, it’s been a mixed bag for me.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Review: Ward Davis at the Louisiana Grandstand (March 3, 2023)

When Ward Davis’ solo acoustic performance at the Louisiana Grandstand theater was announced, I almost decided to skip it. I’d just seen Davis with his full band back in the fall and had a heavy concert slate for 2023 already. I logged in on the day tickets went on sale, and it just so happened that there were still a couple of front row center-section seats left at a price less than I paid for one upper deck ticket to see his friend Cody Jinks a week later. I couldn’t pass that up, and it was a fortuitous turn of events because I really would have hated to miss this show.

This was my first visit to the venue, and you kind of have to know what you’re looking for. It’s a historical-looking unmarked red-brick building with white columns, and if not for the valet parking sign pointing around to the side, I would have wondered if I were in the right place. Walking in, the building has the feel of a place that country greats might have played back in the 1950s. Two staircases to either side of the entrance lead to the upstairs theater, about a 500-ish capacity place with wooden auditorium-style seats, a smallish stage and red curtains. It definitely had the feel of a place where you could have seen Hank Sr.

So, it’s already a cool venue, and for my money, Ward Davis stands as one of the best songwriters out there right now. That’s a perfect pairing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Best of 2022, Part 2: Ozzy, Zeal & Ardor, Whiskey Myers, Parkway Drive, Amon Amarth, Alestorm, Skid Row

Continuing my Best of 2022 list with the top 10: 

No. 10. OZZY OSBOURNE – PATIENT NUMBER 9: Who’d have thought that an Ozzy Osbourne record would ever crack my Top 10 again? This one really kind of hit home for me despite some questionable production choices. The title track with Jeff Beck is the best thing that the Prince of Bleeping Darkness has done in ages, and there’s plenty more to like here with guest shots from Tony Iommi, Eric Clapton, Zakk Wylde and Mike McCready. Though it doesn’t quite capture the classic Ozzy energy, there are certainly shades of all of his incarnations to be found in the songs here, and it’s probably the first Ozzy album that I’ve truly enjoyed since 2001’s Down to Earth. (And yeah, I know most people dislike that one, too, but I don’t.)

Standout songs: “Patient Number 9,” “Immortal,” “No Escape from Now,” “One of those Days,” “A Thousand Shades,” “Evil Shuffle,” “Mr. Darkness”

Monday, January 2, 2023

Best of 2022, Part 1: Blind Guardian, Megadeth, Soilwork, Ward Davis, Disturbed

If there was one good thing that came out of the misery of 2020, it seems that a lot of artists used their lockdown time to create fantastic albums that trickled out through the year. For me, 2022 was an embarrassment of musical riches that featured some rock steady releases, some fantastic returns to form and even a couple of new discoveries.

The year wasn’t without its disappointments, and some of them were tough ones. The much-anticipated return of King’s X after a 14-year absence, for example, just didn’t connect with me the way that I’d hoped. But those were anomalies this year and certainly not the norm. I can’t remember the last time that I had 20 albums that I wanted to talk about at the end of the year, but here we are:

No. 20. HORIZON IGNITED – TOWARDS THE DYING LANDS: The second album for Finland’s Horizon Ignited was my introduction to the band. What they deliver on this first Best of 2022 honoree is not ground-breaking, but it’s very well-done melodic death metal in the vein of Soilwork and In Flames. Unfortunately for them, they were competing this year with a new record from Soilwork and four incredible songs from In Flames’ upcoming record, due in early 2023. That said, Towards the Dying Land is still a very enjoyable 40-ish minutes, and “Reveries” remains one of my favorite songs of the year.

Standout songs: “Reveries,” “Beyond Your Reach,” “Towards the Dying Lands,” “Servant,” “Eventide of Abysmal Grief”