Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Remembering Chris Cornell: 1964-2017

Post #349

It is never easy to hear about a beloved musician passing away. On Wednesday, May 17th, we lost Chris Cornell, the founder and front-man of Soundgarden, and Audioslave, when he tragically took his own life. I heard the news the following morning.

I was shocked. I was in disbelief. I couldn't believe it fully until seeing a credible report with my own eyes. I still didn't want to believe it. I still don't...

How do I say what Chris Cornell's music meant to me? I was not a fan of grunge when it first came along. As an MTV kid, I wasn't into their music videos, and I didn't buy into the Seattle grunge bands nor the alternative rock scene until years later. But the seed that planted an appreciation for it in my mind wasn't from Pearl Jam, or Alice In Chains, or even Nirvana. There was no video that sold me. No radio single that caught my ear. Rather it was an automatic 'selection of the month' shipment from one of the mail-order music clubs I forgot to respond to (I think it was Columbia House, but it could have been BMG- remember those?) It was Badmotorfinger- by Soundgarden. I might have heard 'Jesus Christ Pose' once or twice, and not particularly cared for it, but the opening track, 'Rusty Cage' had me hooked.

Badmotorfinger grew on me as a whole. After just a couple listens through it, front-to-back, I had numerous favorite songs, and had become fan enough that when SuperUNKNOWN hit a couple years later I was ready for it, and would follow Soundgarden, and Chris Cornell, through all his other projects and bands from that point on. His songwriting and vocal abilities were so unique, so versatile, and appealed to the fan in me that appreciated heavy music, strange music, acoustic music, melodic music, grungy music... and now that voice has been silenced.

Remember Chris Cornell through his music, celebrate his life through his lyrics, and reach out to support those in your own life who may need help, who may be struggling with depression, or any challenging issue, health related or otherwise. Life is precious.

Suicide prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

I for one will miss his voice, and mourn the loss of all his words and songs that will forever remain unwritten.

My own memorial playlist for the late legend, Chris Cornell:
-Burden In My Hand
-Hunger Strike
-Mood for Trouble
-The Day I Tried to Live
-Room a Thousand Years Wide
-Doesn't Remind Me
-Can't Change Me (acoustic-live)
-Fell On Black Days
-Mind Riot
-Original Fire
-Loud Love
-Like A Stone
-Rusty Cage
-I Am The Highway
-Thank You (Live)
-Nothing Left to Say But Goodbye
-Say Hello 2 Heaven

...and since I can't stop there, here are a few rarities and covers Chris Cornell has done recently that are fitting testament to his captivating vocal abilities.

Remember Chris Cornell...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Proudest Angel Hit the South Side, Saturday, May 20th , 2017

Post 348

This Saturday, May 20th, 2017, Independent Band of the Year PROUDEST ANGEL return to the Chicago local scene, performing an all-ages show along with Johnny and the Rocks and Sinister Fate at Damien's Den, 13445 S Brainard Ave, on Chicago's south side!

Cover is only $6!!

Show Starts at 9pm...

Don't miss it!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Proudest Angel-The Soundtrack to Your Next Bad Decision (2016)

Post # 347

Proudest Angel had been broken up for over a decade before the paths of former members would meander back together and bring some new faces into the fold. Enter 2016, and a reunion of sorts for this underground heavy rock band has commenced. This time around, who knows where it will go, but so far they already have a collection of new recordings in the books: The Soundtrack to Your Next Bad Decision.

Their style is a raw and heavy, riff-driven fusion of alt-rock and metal. Vocalist Bill Paimon was previously in Sutured Psyche, another band I've reviewed on this blog before. His vocal style remains consistent from that band to this, but the instrumentation and direction of the band is heavier. For all intents and purposes it is fair to think of Proudest Angel as a 'heavier Sutured Psyche', for those familiar with them. However, Proudest Angel's original iteration predates Sutured Psyche's. Their early recordings can be found on their CD, Skeletons From the Closet. I may review those songs later on, but now is a time to focus on their new recording.

With The Soundtrack To Your Next Bad Decision you get a good sampling of what Proudest Angel have to offer. For those who know them from their early days, the sounds are familiar. They primarily deliver some heavy riffs in a mid-tempo song structure. They do include a couple songs (Anathema, Canto Dolor) with melodic clean guitars, or slower tempos, but they always come back to the faster heavier formula in the end. They even have an unusual choice of a cover song; Lady Gaga's 'I Like It Rough'.

The Soundtrack To Your Next Bad Decision should be enough to remind the old fans of what Proudest Angel were, as well as showing them what they have now become. As they continue to play shows in the Chicagoland area and write new songs it will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Track Listing:
Civilly Feral- This one is their first single, and music video, in support of this release. A groove-heavy headbangin' tune.

Starlight- One of my favorite tracks. Fast, heavy, and they mix things up with a cool breakdown segment.

Anathema-Although still electric and heavy, this song had melodic riffs that show off Proudest Angel's versatile side. Long-time fans may be reminded of their song 'Wayfaring Stranger'...

Shoulda Known Better-This one is a straight-up rock and roller of a song!

Canto Dolor-This one is closer to a true ballad than Proudest Angel have come before. Clean guitars, and slower tempos let you know this band has a little more to offer...

I Like It Rough (Lady Gaga cover)-Here they take Gaga's pop-song and reinvent it with a heavy metal palate. The fact that it is sung by a guy make all the lyrical innuendo more curious...

We Had Fun-This one is a slower-tempo grinder of a track for the most part but  there is a point about 3 minutes in where they skip over to a double-time feel.

This release is also available at:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Scars of Armageddon at Penny Road Pub for Headbangin' Helliday II

Post #346

Scars of Armageddon are set to perform their last show of 2016 on December 10th at Penny Road Pub in Barrington, IL.

Headbangin' Helliday II

Headlined by Devil Land, this show will also feature Warmouth and Act of Destruction. Tickets are $10, doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm. Go and bang your head with Scars of Armageddon one last time while they're the Independent Band of the Year for this blog.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Congratulations to Proudest Angel-2016/17 Independent Band of the Year

Post #345

On November 15th the annual Independent Band of the Year readers-poll contest concluded and Proudest Angel from Chicago, IL won by virtue of getting the most votes. This was another exciting year, and again was an outreach effort as there were bands featured not just from the Chicago and Indiana music scenes, but also from Spain and England! I want to thank all the bands for being a part of another competitive year of promoting independent heavy music through this contest. I hope your fans continue to follow this site.

Proudest Angel will become the featured band on this site for the 2017 calendar year starting in January. They will have a link to their primary website in the sidebar, announcements posted here ahead of each show they play, a review forthcoming of 'The Soundtrack to Your Next Bad Decision'- their first album since 2002, and other content as opportunity presents.

They also will get to nominate a band for the next 3 Independent Band readers polls. For now, you can follow their events and announcements on their facebook page, and stream their album online at their Bandcamp page.

Thanks again, and Happy Headbanging!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Iotunn- The Wizards Fall (EP-2016)

Post #344

Iotunn are a metal band from Copenhagen, Denmark. I don't add them to any subgenre of metal off the top of my head, and their own page cites 'all the history of metal' as their influence. Indeed there are several styles you can hear them drawing from by just listening to one song. Perhaps the closest style you could put them in is power metal, but they have an edgier sound than a stereotypical power metal band. They do not quite approach the extremity of 'hardcore' metal, and although they're close to thrash, their music contains a few lighter elements so that's why I leave them as undifferentiated 'metal'.

The Wizard Falls is Iotunn's debut EP. It is also produced by Flemming Rasmusson, renowned for his production work on some of Metallica's early albums. Right away the title track gives you an impression of their sound: deep heavy riffs, soaring lead guitars, and a clean vocal style to match. The next couple tracks follow pretty much the same formula, but the last track, Frost, has a melodic, clean guitar intro and a more progressive song structure that shows more versatility from Iotunn.

For an independent release the production on this EP is fantastic. Each and every track is dripping with quality. Their sound is powerful, but infused with elegance and sophistication. If there is anything to hold them back from major success in the near future, I don't hear it. Check out this band. Stream this EP on their website or social media pages, download the tracks or buy it on CD. You will thank me for it.

My top recommendations from The Wizard Falls:
-The Wizard Falls
-Hammer of Injustice

Iotunn's links for...

And here's a little bonus. Their documentary of the making of this EP (with English subtitles).

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rest In Peace- Brian O'Callaghan of Sutured Psyche (1982-2016)

Post #343

There's an Iron Maiden song that says 'Only the Good Die Young', and the phrase could not be more true for Brian O'Callaghan, who played bass guitar in Sutured Psyche for several years. Brian lost a 3 year battle with cancer on October 13th. He was an upbeat person who always brightened the room he was in. Anyone who has ever met him remembers him fondly.

Though he was taken from us far too soon, his memory will live on through his friends, family, and band mates who remember him fondly, as well as through the music he created and performed on the local scene in Chicago and the surrounding area. Sutured Psyche recorded an EP, 'Bastard Nation', and 2 live recordings, 'None the Wiser' and 'One for the Road'. You can find these recordings through Sutured Psyche's various online websites and music outlets. Brian played on each of them. The best song to highlight his talent on the bass guitar is perhaps 'Crecy'. Live versions of that song are on each of the live recordings mentioned above.

 If you were lucky enough to have seen Brian perform with Sutured Psyche, or even better, to know him as a person, then you know what the world is missing now.  His family and friends are mourning his loss, as well as the local scene in Chicago. He may not have been a 'spotlight' type of player, mostly content to stay in the background while his band mates drew the attention of the crowd, but he was an integral piece of the bands he played in. In that respect, he was like a 'quiet legend' on the north-side local scene.

If you want to track down the music that Brian created as a part of Sutured Psyche then visit some of these links:

If you want to contribute to a cause in his honor, the family has asked for donations be sent to The Lynch Syndrom International- PO Box 19, Madison, CT 06443

Rest In Peace, Brian. You'll always be remembered!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

2016 Independent Band of the Year Reader's Poll

Post #342

It is time once again for the Independent Band of the Year poll here at HappyHeadbanger.com! From now through November 15th the poll is open for voting. This year we have a field of bands that in addition to the music scene in Chicago and the surrounding ares, also reaches out to some countries in Europe! I think you'll enjoy all of these bands if you take a couple minutes to listen to a song from each of them. Vote for your favorite! Vote for a couple favorites! Share with your friends and on your favorite social media platform. At the end of the polling period, only 1 will become HappyHeadbanger's next Independent Band of the Year...

-DISSONA (Chicago IL, Progressive Metal)
This band is a progressive metal band from Chicago who put their own spin on the tones and song structures that you can have in metal. Parts of their songs sound like some elements of thrash, or ambient progressive rock, or hardcore, or symphonic metal, but then they go beyond and deliver something completely new.

Check out the song 'Another Sky'

-OCCULT DECEIVER (Indianapolis, IN, Blackened-Death Metal/Thrash Metal)
This Indiana band is perhaps the most extreme metal band I've featured yet. Their vocal style ranges from the true guttural growls of death metal to the shrieking screams of black metal. If death metal is your preference, you need look no further. Check out Occult Deceiver and prepare for some serious extreme metal!

Check out the song 'Shattered Soul'

-ARES (Indianapolis, IN, Metalcore/Hardcore)
This band is a metalcore band in a style similar to bands like Fit For a King, or The Devil Wears Prada. Ares keep the vocal ratio heavily in favor of the hardcore screams, but melodic vocals are interspersed here and there.

Check out the title-track from their new CD, 'Fall of the King'

-EVIL ENGINE (Chicago, IL, Punk Rock)
This band delivers Punk Rock music akin to Bad Religion, with the twist of a female vocalist. They hit on all cylinders and fuse raw emotion with riffs and melody.

Check out their song 'Father'

-PROUDEST ANGEL (Chicago, IL, Metal/Hard Rock)
This band hits you with a raw and heavy tone, rocking out riffs that are right between a heavy punk rock and groove metal. Some melodic guitar phrases bring texture to a couple songs, and a deep vocal melody round out their formula.

-Check out their song 'Civilly Feral'

-WARG (Zaragoza, Spain, Epic Thrash Metal)
This band from Spain call their style 'Epic Thrash Metal', and true there are thrash riffs at the base of each song's foundation, but they incorporate elements of hardcore, folk, symphonic and operatic metal into different songs. Hearing is believing, so click the link below to hear for yourself

Check out the song 'Ancient Times'

-SUFFER NO FOOLS (Ealing, London, UK, Metalcore)
A melodic metalcore band from the London area of the UK, Suffer No Fools mix it up with some heavy riffs, melodic phrasing, clean tones, and a scratchy vocal performance that sometimes could fit in with 'post-grunge'.

Check out the song 'Prey'

Click the box next to your favorite band(s) in the right hand column to record your vote. Share this link with more and more friends to spread the word and encourage them to vote as well!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest 2016: Live at Elbo Room, September 3rd.

Post #341

On September 3rd, 2016, history was made as the first-ever Happyheadbanger Fest was held in Chicago at the Elbo Room on the north side of the city. 5 bands came out and played their hearts out for the faithful followers of independent music who came, saw, and rocked out with them. The evening was recorded live, and may be available in the future either through this blog or directly through the bands who performed. For now, I'll review the music that was played on this night.

The opening act was Fist to the Sky, the band who won my Independent Band of the Year contest in 2012. Brothers Mike and Phil Sylvester played an 'acoustic' set to open the show, as their drummer was unavailable for this night. They started off the night with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Simple Man'. They actually sounded close to the Shinedown version of this song. From there they mixed it up with some of their old songs, some newer original songs, a couple more covers, and even a song or two from their own side-projects.

With the crowd warmed up it was time for the next act... Next band up was Threatening The Order, a female-fronted metal band from Chicago. They played a fast and heavy set. The crowd got into it, there were fists in the air, and heads were banging. Their songs were driven by heavy riffs, and the singer brought a melodic element to each song. They did perform both songs they have available on their Reverbnation page to stream/download; 'Something to Prove', and 'Soul Inside'. They closed with another favorite track, 'Hold Your Breath'

Third band up, right in the middle of the line-up, was MEDIUMS. This was another change of pace for the evening. Mediums are a blues-rock band who have already drawn comparisons to Ben Folds with their sound. Having just started playing shows earlier this year, they filled in on short notice for another band that had to cancel. They kept things up-beat and kept the crowd into the music. They were quite entertaining, particularly their guitarist Henry Van Loon, who played a Hendrix-ish guitar solo at one point, complete with teeth-picking and behind-the-head playing. Even when one guitarist had a string break during their set, the rest of the band improvised a drum-solo and jam session while he re-strung his instrument, and they never missed a beat!

 The penultimate band of the night was Scars Of Armageddon, the current Independent Band of the Year on this site. They also played the most intense style of metal thus far, and they melted faces with their shredding progressive power metal. I recently reviewed their debut CD Never Sleep... Again, and they played 2 tracks from that release, including my personal favorite, 'Our Dying Day'. They also played several new songs from their follow-up CD which they are recording currently. Fists were pumping, heads were banging, and the crowd's energy was at its peak thus far.

Last but not least, was Proudest Angel, a Chicago-based metal-rock-punk band that gave the first ever HappyHeadbanger Fest an energetic and thrilling final set. Prior to their latest release, The Soundtrack to Your Next Bad Decision, Proudest Angel last released new music back in 2003. They played a couple songs from both their newer and older releases, but they also surprised us with a cool cover of Stabbing Westward's 'Shame', cleverly arranged as part of a medley with their own original song 'Starlight'. They hit us early and often with heavy riffs and powerful vocals. They closed their set with one of their older classics, 'Brink'.

And then it was in the books. HappyHeadbanger Fest 2016 had become reality, and hopefully marks the beginning of a tradition. In any event, this show was filmed and recorded. There may be audio and/or video material from this evening of independent rock and metal music available for you at some point in the future. Keep following Happyheadbanger.com, and keep up with local and independent bands near and far. Support your local scene wherever you are... Happy Headbanging to all!

Setlists for each band were as follows:
-Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
-Count Your Blessings
-Life So Free (War Horseman cover)
-Done With You
-One Dance (Drake cover)
-Forever We Will Stand
-Forever and After
-Not After Tonight

-Price to Pay
-Something to Prove
-Soul Inside
-Casting Molds
-Hold Your Breath

-If You Love a City
-Let Me In
-I Can't Take It Any More
-Only in Moonlight
-No Name #7
-Well Wishing
-Good Time
-Chasin' The Blues

-Dead End
-Never Sleep Again
-Our Dying Day
-A Good Day To Die

-Shoulda Known Better
-The Hyena
-Whole Again
-Civilly Feral
-Shamelight (A medley of Starlight and Shame by Stabbing Westward)
-We Had Fun

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Congrats to Kryssie from Evil Engine

Post #340

HappyHeadbanger.com would like to congratulate Kryssie, from Evil Engine, for landing a spot on CBS's Big Brother: Over The Top. First episode premiers Wednesday September 28th at 9pm central time. There will be weekly 'episodes' Wednesday evenings, however it seems that Big Brother: Over The Top is intended more as a live event, to be accessed around the clock by CBS All Access subscribers. Curious? Learn more Here.

The HappyHeadbanger connection with Kryssie goes back to 2009 when I first heard of the band DEADMANSWAKE. Kryssie sang lead vocals for this band prior to her current punk-rock band Evil Engine. Both bands have been reviewed here at Happyheadbanger.com, and I look forward to reviewing Evil Engine's debut release, 'Nullius In Verba' soon after it becomes available. DEADMANSWAKE were my 2010 Independent Band of the Year, and Evil Engine will be featured this year, polling to open early in October... stay tuned for details. DMW still holds the record for most votes received by a single band in this annual contest. Will Evil Engine fare as well this year? Time will tell.

For now, enjoy Kryssie's 'introduction' video, and root for her in this Big Brother: OTT season!

 See my previous reviews of DEADMANSWAKE

and Evil Engine.

Friday, September 2, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 5: Proudest Angel

Post #339

Proudest Angel are a re-formed groove-metal/punk-metal band from Chicago. Performing at the first-ever HappyHeadbanger Fest, they're promoting their first album of new material since 2002. Entitled 'The Soundtrack to Your Next Bad Decision', it is available on their bandcamp page to stream or download. Here is their new music video: Civilly Feral.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 4: Scars of Armageddon

Post #338

Scars of Armageddon, The current Independent Band of the Year, are a power-thrash metal band, incorporating a classic metal vocal style akin to Iron Maiden or Metal Church. Check out this youtube audio track from their full length album Never Sleep... ...Again.

Monday, August 29, 2016

HappyHeadbanger Fest Preview 3: Fist To The Sky

Post #337

Fist to the Sky are a metalcore band from the suburbs of Chicago. At HappyHeadbanger Fest they'll be performing an acoustic set. A former 'Independent Band of the Year' from the 2012 contest, you can see my previous reviews of their music here.

Check out their official video for 'Another Lesson Learned'