Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Books that Rock: Alice Cooper- Golf Monster ('07), with Life and Crimes Box Set

Post #388

Alice Cooper is a living legend and the original 'shock rocker'. His career has spanned over 5 decades, and he continues to record new music and tour. His career in music has had him cross paths with everyone from Rob Zombie, to Megadeth, to Paul McCartney, to Elvis Presley, to Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd... to name just a few.

As I finally got around to reading his '07 autobiography, Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock 'n' Roller's 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict, I found it to be one of the most enjoyable rock musicians' biographies I've read in a long time! I had fun going back and listening to several albums as I read through the stories behind them, appreciating the new perspective gained by having Alice's own insight into them fresh in my mind.

While the book does follow his music career from his high school beginnings with The Spiders, all the way up to his late 1990's releases, he also gives several very thorough tips and instructions and analogies about golf, it's similarities to music, the unending challenges the sport presents, and numerous tips on how to improve your own game. He puts chapters on golf in between those on life and music. The chapters of the book alternate in this fashion pretty regularly. If you are not interested in golf, or even interested enough in Alice's obsession with golf, then you'll probably be bored with almost half of this book. But I recommend giving it a fair chance, as Alice does tie the two parts of his life together quite nicely by the end.

Now, as you're reading through these reminiscences you can also treat yourself to a thorough sampling of the songs from Alice Cooper while you read, or at the very least, in between chapters. The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper is a 4 disc box set released in 1999, soon after his album The Last Temptation. While this biography was published years after the box set, in 2007, the majority of the discussion about his music career only goes up to The Last Temptation. That album was a significant statement for Alice on several levels. You'll have to read the book to find out those reasons yourself.;-) He mentions the albums Brutal Planet (2000) and Dragontown (2001) only in passing. No further music projects are mentioned, although in closing Alice does say that he continues to record music and/or tour every year. He says he'll keep doing it for as long as he can...

God bless you Alice! As a fan, I can only look forward to hearing your next album, seeing your next tour, and if I'm fortunate enough for our paths to ever cross, I wouldn't say no to a round of golf! My game has nothing to do but improve!

Recommended Alice Cooper tracks:
-Why Don't You Love Me? (The Spiders-1965)
-I'm Eighteen (1970)
-Elected (Alice mentions that John Lennon once said it was his favorite Alice Cooper song. 1972)
-Cold Ethyl (1975)
-Teenage Frankenstein (1986)
-Poison (This was the song that introduced me to Alice Cooper when I was a teen myself. I can never get enough of this one! 1989)
-Stolen Prayer (An especially treasured favorite of mine, featuring guest vocals by Chris Cornell. 1994)
-Brutal Planet (2000)
-Disgraceland (2001)
-School's Out/Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2 (Hollywood Vampires-2015. This rerecorded version reflects the manner in which Alice has performed this song live in concert for years. I love it to death!)
-My Dead Drunk Friends (Hollywood Vampires-2015)

Happy Headbanging!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Dear Deadly-It's Not Over Yet (2017)

Post #387

Dead Deadly are a melodic metal band from the greater Chicago area of Illinois. I happened to catch them live in concert in the Spring of last year- a concert I reviewed in Post #375. In the fall of 2019 they won this blog's annual Independent Band of the Year reader's poll. They are hard at work on a full length album coming soon. For this post I'll take a close look at their 2017 EP It's Not Over Yet.

It's Not Over Yet is a tight, yet diverse collection of 6 original heavy metal songs. At times you could call it hard rock, or post-grunge, or nu-metal, or alternative metal, and you wouldn't be wrong. Consistent throughout is their melodic vocals, sharp and crisp guitar tones, tight rhythm section and high production quality. Many lead guitar solos are highlights of several songs. Lyrics are delivered with vocal strength and control to evoke many emotions form one track to the next.

The best part of following this band online is the fact that they've produced music videos, or lyric videos, for almost every track on this EP. I will embed or link to most of them below. If you like what you hear and see, then take a minute to follow them, download a track or the whole EP, and stream their songs and videos!

As the 2020 Spring and early Summer season of concerts and tours have been canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems unlikely that I'll be able to promote any shows for them in the near future, but I'll be sure to do so once these events resume. In the meantime I'll try to think of other ways to promote them and their music in the months ahead. Follow this blog or HappyHeadbanger on Facebook for future content.

Visit Dear Deadly's Facebook page to follow their activity
Visit Dear Deadly on Instagram.

Songs from It's Not Over Yet
-Very Wicked Things

-Deviant (My top pick! The lyric video follows a vampire theme, but they also have an official video that's entirely footage of motorcycle stunts!)

-The Devil You Know (An original! Not a cover of the Anthrax song of a similar name!)

-Conviction (A teaser clip-guitar solo only, but still awesome!)

-I Tried (Showing a slightly softer side, this especially melodic song is a mellow self-reflective type of song)

-The Hopeless (A great song with social-political themes, and the inspiration behind their promotional bumper stickers!)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Lost In Vegas- Hip-hop Fans' Reaction Videos to Rock and Metal Music

Post #386

In the last couple years I've discovered a new favorite YouTube channel: Lost In Vegas. These guys are a couple self-described "Hip-Hop Heads", who've adopted a 'free-thinkers' approach to discovering new genres of music.

For a quick intro to their channel I'm going to highlight 3 of my favorite reactions of theirs from September to October of 2017. The first of these, Megadeth's 'Holy Wars', is one of the key reaction videos that I believe started to grow their following. Lost In Vegas, if you're out there reading this, please feel free to confirm or deny this hypothesis.

Lost In Vegas reacts to 'Holy Wars' by Megadeth From (9-15-17)...

For people new to metal music to be given this iconic song to react to early in their journey into the depths of metal, the veteran metalhead may ask (as I did), "If they think so highly of this song, what are they going to think when they hear Metallica's 'Master of Puppets'?" We'll get to that in a moment, but they had another great reaction before they got to 'Master of Puppets', and I'm talking about when they first heard Judas Priest- 'Painkiller'!

From October 6th, 2017... Lost In Vegas reacting to 'Painkiller' by Judas Priest...

And last but not least, Lost In Vegas' reaction to Metallica's 'Master of Puppets' from October 18th, 2017...

Now, these were all from about a year and a half ago, and Ryan and George have kept their youtube channel going strong, as well as adding a page, where they have more reaction videos beyond what they're able to post on youtube. You can follow their Twitter profile, and vote in polls they post. They have also updated their equipment so the audio on their newer reaction videos is much better. See for yourself! So if these three reactions have you entertained, by all means keep checking them out! They do reaction videos to ALL GENRES of music, not just metal, but as I'm a heavy metal reviewer, these are the ones I gravitate to...

Enjoy! And Happy Headbanging to all!

For the original music videos for each of these songs please use the following links:
Megadeth-Holy Wars... ...The Punishment Due
Judas Priest-Painkiller
Metallica-Master of Puppets

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Rock USA Oshkosh, 2014, Day 3: Like A Storm, Black Stone Cherry, Halestorm, 3 Doors Down, KoRn

Post #385

(an overdue review from 4 summers ago... See here for review of Day 2)

As Rock USA continued for its 3rd day on July 19th, 2014, I would again be taking in a variety of rock and metal music for an entire afternoon. The line-up on this day featured several bands I was looking forward to (Halestorm and Korn), and a few that were totally new to me (Like a Storm and Black Stone Cherry). In any case, it promised to be a day filled with awesome hard rock and metal music.

The first band I caught on the main stage was Like a Storm. They are a brand new band out of New Zealand, touring here in the States in support of their new album, Chaos Theory: Part 1, featuring their hit song 'I Love the Way You Hate Me'. They switched things up a bit with their alt-metal cover of Coolio's 'Gangsta's Paradise'. When it comes to their sound, between the vocals and guitar tones I felt they were comparable to Seether. These guys were something else! They even incorporate a didgeridoo into their music.

Next band on the main stage was Black Stone Cherry. They delivered their brand of hard rock with a veteran presence on-stage. Their songs were hard-edged yet made for mainstream radio. I recognized their main hit, 'White Trash Millionaire'. Their set was enjoyable and kept the crowd rocking out.

Halestorm were next, and they were one of the bands I'd been anticipating the most. It was late afternoon by this point and this band kept the crown engaged. Participation was encouraged by the band and the crowd responded. They opened with 'I Miss the Misery', a favorite of mine and a big hit of theirs. Lzzy proved to be one of the best band leaders of the whole fest. She kept the crowd engaged in the music, leading crowd participation segments, and interacting with her band mates. One of the best points of their set was here interaction with drummer (also her brother) during the drum solo. Another favorite from their set was 'A Familiar Taste of Poison'- a song I'd heard covered at Dame Nation Fest... But for me the real show stopping moment was when they launched into their cover of 'Dissident Aggressor'- the classic Judas Priest number (also a setlist staple for Slayer). Lzzy's voice sounded brilliant covering this metal classic, and she more than did the song justice, as Halestorm practically made it their own.

3 Doors Down performed on the main stage as the penultimate act of the day. They opened with 'Time of My Life', and their show was off and running. They delivered a great set, touching on all their major hits, and included  a new song from their (then) upcoming release. I was pleased to hear several songs from their debut album, The Better Life, as it is the album of theirs I know best. Of course the played Kryptonite- perhaps their most trademark of songs. Then it was down to Korn to close out the night...

Korn hit the stage with their unique, dark and twisted presence. 'Falling Away From Me' was the opening number. From heavy riffs to haunting 7-string lead guitars, dousing the outdoor ampitheater in the shadows of minor-key tones of ominous darkness, Korn blew the crowd away. Jonathan Davis' unique voice made spines tingle throughout the crowd. They closed this day of rock and metal music with a performance to be remembered. Not to be overlooked, they saved their early hit 'Blind' for their encore-closer.

All-in-all, it was a great day of live music enjoyed to the fullest. Setlists for these band on this day are as follows...

Like A Storm
-Chemical Infatuation
-Never Surrender
-Just Save Me
-Nothing Remains
-Gangsta's Paradise (Coolio cover)
-T.N.T. (AC/DC cover)
-Love the Way You Hate Me

Black Stone Cherry
-Maybe Someday
-Me and Mary Jane
-Ghost of Floyd Collins
-Yeah Man
-Like I Roll
-Rain Wizard
-In My Blood
-Blind Man
-Fiesta del Fuego
-White Trash Millionaire
-Blame it on the Boom Boom
-Lonely Train
-30 Seconds of Death Metal

-I Miss the Misery
-Love Bites (So Do I)
-It's Not You
-Freak Like Me
-Break In
-Familiar Taste of Poison
-(drum solo)
-Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest cover)
-Mz. Hyde
-Daughters of Darkness
-I Get Off

3 Doors Down
-Time of My Life
-It's Not My Time
-Duck and Run
-Away From the Sun
-Behind Those Eyes
-You Better Believe It
-Here Without You
-The Better Life
-When I'm Gone

-Falling Away From Me
-Got the Life
-Did My Time
-Spike in My Veins
-Shoots and Ladders
-Coming Undone
-Here to Stay
-Never Never
-Freak on a Leash

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Trivium-The Sin and the Sentence (2017)

Post #384

Trivium are always one of my top favorite bands. They have continually challenged themselves with each album they've recorded, and keep shifting gears between aggression and toned down melodies. 2017's The Sin and the Sentence is no different. While their last album, Silence in the Snow, was the most melodic one they ever recorded, being practically devoid of the hardcore screams, this latest album brings them back, at least for a good percentage of the songs. The result is a truly balanced Trivium album that shows every strength the band has to offer. It is their most diverse release since 2011's In Waves (previously reviewed here).

The Sin and The Sentence opens with the title track, and it is a furious metalcore classic- it fades in only to launch into a driving riff with overlayed lead guitar, and Matt Heafy begins with his melodic vocals, but they are complemented by his furious screams at the bridges and choruses. Different passages of the song shift from hardcore screams to melodic singing, while the instruments teeter back and forth in the same fashion. Lastly I must compliment the lyrics. Matt Heafy is a brilliant lyricist in my opinion, and this song is packed with thought provoking lyrics such as: “I know the true monsters lie between the light and the shade.”

From there each song brings a new formula, or a new combination of their bag of tricks, so that each track is unique in its own right. By this stage of their career, Trivium have become such craftsmen of metal music that nearly every song is a work of metal mastery.

Their first single from the release was The Heart From Your Hate. This song was an instant favorite of mine when I first heard it, and it remains so today. It’s the kind of song I can’t hear without upping the volume a bit. I always like to think this song carries an anti-racism theme, and picture the lyrics as  challenge to anyone who hates, “What would it take to rip the heart from your hate?” Truly, in today’s times, there is no room for hate.

I cannot really find a song on this album I would not recommend. So bear this in mind with my following recommendations. By no means should you stop with these, but rather use them as a starting block with which to delve into the entire album. These may be my personal favorites, and the best of the best, but that is not to say the rest of the tracks are not great as well!

Recommended tracks:
-The Sin and the Sentence
-Beyond Oblivion
-The Heart from Your Hate (see official music video below)
-Sever the Hand
-Beauty in the Sorrow
-Thrown Into the Fire

Friday, December 6, 2019

Diamoth-Exhibition of Reality (2019)

Post #383

Diamoth are a Christian Black Metal band form Arica, Chile. This may seem an oxymoron of sorts, as the term 'Black Metal' originated to describe bands with anti-Christian views. Therefor a more accurate description for Diamoth (or other bands in this situation) would be 'Unblack Metal'. By virtue of the genre's definitive vocal style consisting of screams and shrieks, to the casual listener the majority of lyrics seem unintelligible. For listeners who go for the overall feel of their music, and put less concern on the specifics of lyrics, they may appreciate black metal and 'unblack' metal equally.

Nonetheless, Diamoth identify as 'Christian Black Metal', and deliver their heavy and demonic-sounding metal with the best of them. What I particularly like about their sound is that they hang onto many stylistic elements from the early days of death metal: riffs that build, progress and move the music. Tempos that show variation- they have several slower-tempo grinders in addition to the faster-paced thrashers. Many of their songs remind me of early-80's Sepultura.

Exhibition of Reality, their newest release, is a 'Black Metal' style album with its claws dug into the thrash-influenced origins of the genre. My aforementioned similarity to Sepultura is highly present throughout Exhibition of Reality. A true benefit to getting the physical CD copy would be the fact that they include scriptural inspiration for each song in the liner notes.

Recommended tracks:
-Awakening (This song is the first on the album and kicks you in the teeth with speed-driven riffs!)
-Pride and Powerless (This one is one of the slower grinding songs. It has a lot of riff changes that give it an almost progressive vibe)
-Preacher of Lower Passions (This one starts with a slow intro, but soon kicks into high gear and is a great, riff-fest of a thrasher!)
-Baal (The album's closer- this is a mid-tempo grinder with chugging riffs. They do have a lyric video for it on youtube. See the link below!)

(review copy of Exhibition of Reality provided by Peter Smith of Frozen Tundra Records.)

Monday, November 25, 2019

King Diamond-Dreams of Horror (2014)

Post #382

With a new album on the horizon for 2020, it seems a good time to review this 'Best of' collection from King Diamond...

King Diamond (the singer/songwriter/front-man for this band of the same name) is a master of his own unique style of heavy metal music. This is the band he started after the break-up of his previous band, Mercyful Fate (also a key influence within the genre). The heavy guitars, numerous guitar solos, and fast-paced rhythm may be the trademark for the musical formula, best described as traditional, power, or classic heavy metal, but there is also so much more... King Diamond (the singer) is best known, in heavy metal culture, for his incredible vocal range: he possesses an incomparable falsetto that he blends with his middle and lower-registers within songs, often changing his singing style to match various characters' parts within the deeply thematic songs. This brings me to the next point that must be made about this music: King Diamond (the band) are equally famous for their ability to write cohesive concept albums. Practically every King Diamond album is a heavy metal rock-opera, telling a complete story with intriguing, and often demented, plots. Lyrically their music deals with concepts ranging from corruption, mental illness, demonic possession, exorcisms, and other themes of the occult. of Horror is further recommended for anyone with even a passing appreciation of, or curiosity for, the music of King Diamond for the following reasons.
-First, this collection was hand-picked by the band themselves. Each and every track is re-mastered to create a perfect listening experience. From the performers' own opinions, these are the essential songs that best represent a cross-section of the entire King Diamond catalog.

-Second, as a career retrospective this collection bridges the two labels (Roadrunner Records, and Metal Blade Records respectively) that have released the King Diamond albums over the past 30 years. Specifically, Disc One is subtitled 'The Roadrunner Years' and features songs from each of that label's 5 early releases from 1986-1990, while Disc Two is subtitled 'The Metal Blade Years' and thus features songs from each of that label's 7 releases, spanning 1995-2007.

-Third, with King Diamond (the band) now actively touring again, it is their intent to heavily feature these tracks in their set-lists on current and near-future tours.

So, whether you are a die-hard or casual fan, a newcomer to the music of this band, or a loyal long-time follower, THIS IS THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION of King Diamond music.

Recommended tracks:
Roadrunner Disc:
-Dressed in White
-The Family Ghost
-Black Horsemen
-The Invisible Guests
-The Eye of the Witch

Metal Blade Disc:
-Black Devil 
-The Puppet Master

Sunday, November 24, 2019

2019 Independent Band of the Year: Dear Deadly!

Post #381

Congratulations to Dear Deadly, the 2019 Independent Band of the Year! This year's reader's poll was competitive, and had several lead-changes during the polling period. It is also notable that it was the first time all 7 bands' vote totals reached double-digits. Dear Deadly took the lead about halfway through, and while other bands closed the gap, Dear Deadly managed to hang on to enough of a lead to finish in 1st place with 140 votes. Watch for a review of their music, promos for their live shows, and other content for the 2020 calendar year.

Thank you as well to all the other bands that made 2019 a memorable contest:
So Called Saints
Sons of Ra
and Toxic Ruin

Happy Headbanging!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Motley Crue-The Final Tour (with Alice Cooper) 8.8.14

Post #380

(Concert date: August 8th, 2014)
Motley Crue were one of the best known metal bands of the 1980's to come out of LA and were a dominant force in the hair/glam metal scene for over a decade. They set some notorious standards for the decadent lifestyle clich├ęs of heavy metal, rock and roll culture during this era. With this tour, they we giving all their fans from over the years a chance to see the original line-up one final time. To make the 'Farewell Tour' even more convincing, the band signed a cessation of touring contract! Whether that holds true or not, time will tell, but for this night I was treating it as my last opportunity to see the Crue in concert!

Their opening act was the shock-rock veteran, Alice Cooper! Alice opened the show in style as he delivered a great set of songs ranging from classics like 'No More Mr. Nice Guy', 'I'm 18', and 'Billion Dollar Babies' to some later-era selections like 'Dirty Diamonds' and 'Feed My Frankenstein'. The best was his closing number, 'School's out', where he seamlessly incorporated a verse from Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the Wall, Part II'. (this version of the song has a studio-recorded version on Alice's all-star collaboration with Johnny Depp: Hollywood Vampires!)

Then it was time for Motley Crue! Their set opened with the autobiographical 'Saints of Los Angeles', and from the start they were off and running. While I truly enjoyed everything they played, I did have a couple favorites that stood out above and beyond the rest of the show. ‘Saints of Los Angeles’ is an undeniably great song. Their early number ‘On With the Show’ was memorable and not necessarily expected. Then when they played a portion of Sirius’ arena rock staple ‘Rock n Roll part 2’ as an intro to ‘Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room’ I felt I had truly heard something special.

They finished off a great set, compiled of all their greatest hits, heavily focused on their late-80's heyday. Truly, when it comes to farewell tours, I don't think you can expect a deep set list to go beyond the major hits and fan-favorites. The only thing is I wish they had toured more consistently, but between break-ups and reunions, revolving doors of members, and health issues, they really didn't have a chance to be consistent. At least they gave the fans this farewell tour. For that I'll always be grateful.

Thank you to Vince, Nikki, Mick, and Tommy, for creating the music you did, performing it for us one last time, and best wishes for you all.

-(The Underture)
-Hello, Hooray
-No More Mr. Nice Guy
-Under My Wheels
-I'm 18
-Billion Dollar Babies
-Dirty Diamonds
-(Drum Solo)
-Welcome to My Nightmare
-Feed My Frankenstein
-Ballad of Dwight Fry
-I Love the Dead
-School's Out (w/ verse from Another Brick In The Wall-Pink Floyd)

-Saints of Los Angeles
-Wild Side
-Primal Scream
-Same Ol' Situation
-Looks That Kill
-On With the Show
-Too Fast for Love
-Rock N' Roll Pt.2/Smokin' in the Boys Room
-Without You
-MF of the Year
-Anarchy in the UK
-Dr. Feelgood
-In the Begining/Shout at the Devil
-Don't Go Away Mad
-Drum Solo/Guitar Solo
-Live Wire
-Too Young to Fall in Love
-Girls Girls Girls
-Kickstart My Heart
-Home Sweet Home

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Iron Maiden - Legacy of the Beast Tour (8-22-19)

Post #379

When it comes to heavy metal concerts, there are few artists that can be compared to Iron Maiden in terms of stage shows. With their Legacy of the Beast Tour they prove once again that they have an incomparable stage show, while also delivering a career spanning set list that left few Maiden fans wanting for anything else.

Their opening number was “Aces High”, and with this song they spared no expense. Mere seconds after the intro of Winston Churchill's speech, there was an enormous cloud from fog machines out of which emerged a life size WWII Spitfire fighter plane! Complete with a functional propeller and suspended like a marionette above the stage, the plane soared, or dove, or banked and turned throughout the entire song. I spent the whole 5 minutes with my jaw agape at the amazing spectacle. And this was just the first song!

They went on to bombard us with great hits, classic concert staples, nostalgic nuggets they've not played live in years, and quite a few surprises- both in song selection and special effects! "Flight of Icarus" included a gigantic winged figure with lines of fire that destroyed the wings, giant canvas back-drops that told the story behind many of the songs. It was a full experience both visually and audibly.

Although there were no tracks performed from either of their 2 most recent albums, that was probably by design- this was after all the Legacy of the Beast tour, so those songs that Maiden’s legacy is built upon deserved their moment in the spotlight, flames, and glory. Their set featured songs off of 10 different albums, and still they found time to include some deep-tracks in addition to the expected classics.

One personal favorite among those 'deep-tracks' was "For the Greater Good of God" from the A Matter of Life And Death album. (See my thoughts on that specific album in this post) Another welcomed surprise was the fact they included songs from both albums from the Blaze Bayley-era; "The Sign of the Cross" from The X-Factor, and "The Clansman" from Virtual XI!

With pyrotechnics and stage props that literally brought the songs to life in some cases I can honestly say that I’ve never been as impressed with a concert as I have with the Legacy of the Beast! This show was one for the ages, and I can’t imagine where they’ll go from here. But I certainly hope I’ll be able to see Maiden again on a future tour.

Iron Maiden's setlist follows:
-Aces High
-Where Eagles Dare
-2 Minutes to Midnight
-The Clansman
-The Trooper
-For the Greater Good of God
-The Wicker Man
-Sign of the Cross
-Flight of Icarus
-Fear of the Dark
-The Number of the Beast
-Iron Maiden
-The Evil That Men Do
-Hallowed be thy Name
-Run to the Hills

Happy Headbanging!
#Legacyofthebeast #Ironmaiden

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Hu - The Gereg Tour (Milwaukee, WI 9/13/19)

Post # 378

The Hu are a Mongolian 'folk-metal' band that have gained much attention since they had 2 music videos go viral in late 2018. They describe their genre as 'Hunnu Rock', and really stick to their roots, using traditional Mongolian instruments like the Morin Khuur (aka “Horse-Head Fiddle") and the Shudraga (a Mongolian 3-string guitar). They incorporate just enough drums, bass, and backing guitars to cross-over into the rock or metal genres. Not to be overlooked, they employ the native Mongolian throat-singing vocal style. It truly must be heard to be fully appreciated. A very cool sound, and it lends itself well to the rock and metal style. I can’t wait to hear more from this band!

I was very fortunate to see them on their first tour through the US in support of their debut album ‘The Gereg’. It was Friday the 13th of September this year, the very day their album “The Gereg” was released! A friend and I made the short trek from the northern suburbs of Chicago up to Milwaukee, made our way to the Rave and prepared to hear this new band exhibit their music for our enjoyment.

Even while entering the venue there was a unique vibe to this show. Their was a guy outside dressed in what I presumed was a traditional Mongolian warriors uniform. He was open to posing for photos so we did. I’m still not sure if he was with the band, their road crew, or just a local guy dressing all-out to support the show and Mongolian culture, but it sure was cool! Inside, we found the merch booth and each collect an autographed copy of “The Gereg”!

After a short opening set by a DJ that played some digital music, they set up the stage for The Hu. Moments before it seemed they were schedule to come out the restless crowd took up the chant of  “HU! HU! HU!...”

The Hu took the stage with their Morin Khuurs, Shudraga, drums and a couple backing musicians with guitar and bass. A brief  “Hello. Milwaukee!” brought a welcoming cheer from the crowd and they began their opening number, “The Same”. It was a slower mellow number but with pleasant melodies and a nice groove. Next they played the title track from their debut album “The Gereg”. It was a little more upbeat and you could feel the crowd getting more into the music with each measure.

Another song from their album they played really got the crowd rocking out. That song was “Shoog Shoog”. They’ve since released a lyric video for it. Another very catchy tune was “Uchirtai Gurav”- this one I managed to film a long segment of, and I still enjoy listening to the clip I have: it has a great throat-singing solo by Gala in it. Check out the link!

During the majority of the show the singer would speak to the crowd in Mongolian. The crowd responded enthusiastically, as a fair percentage of those in attendance appeared to be Mongolian as well. My friend and I cheered along anyway. It was the spirit of the moment! It wasn’t long until they played their 2 songs from their viral music videos: “Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem”. If you have not seen either of these music videos you’re missing out. Here is a link for Wolf Totem.
Their closing number was a really heavy, rocking tune! They actually announced this song’s title in English, “This is the Mongol”. It proved to be one of my favorite songs of the evening. Many of these songs are surfacing on YouTube as fan-filmed concert footage, but I sincerely hope they record some of these other songs on their next album.

The concert seemed to be over, but after about 5 minutes they came out on stage again! The crowd cheered for an encore. They proceeded to play their video hits, “Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem” a second time, closing with raucous cheers by the crowd and a humble, appreciative bow from the band.

Soon after the concert I created a set list on, and added the tracks I knew from their album, in roughly the order I could recall them. Not understanding any of the Mongolian lyrics didn’t help, but thankfully my friend and I had taken several video clips during the show and we matched titles to the melodies we recognized. Several tracks seemed to not even be on their album, but since creating the set list other users have filled in most of the gaps. If you attended the Milwaukee show for this tour, here is the set list link:

Set list for The Hu
-The Same
-The Gereg
-The Song of Women
-The Legend of Mother Swan
-Uchirtai Gurav
-Shireg Shireg
-Bii Biyley
-Yuve Yuve Yu (linked to my video from this show!)
-Wolf Totem
-The Great Chinggis Khaan
-Black Thunder
-This is the Mongol
-Yuve Yuve Yu
-Wolf Totem

Feel free to login and edit if you have a better recollection of the song sequence!

Happy Headbanging everyone!
And thank you to The Hu, for touring the USA! I hope it has been a wonderful experience for you, and I look forward to seeing you in concert again someday.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Independent Band of the Year Reader's Poll 2019

Post #377

Welcome to the 2019 Independent Band of the Year readers poll! This year marks the 11th annual contest for I want to thank all the bands participating this year for agreeing to be part of this contest. Please, after previewing music from the bands that interest you, click the link above (or at the end of this post) to cast your votes! Without further delay, let me introduce this year's contestants and give you a brief description and some song suggestions for each of them...

So Called Saints (Rockford, IL)
(Hardcore Metal)
So Called Saints are a hardcore metal band form Rockford, IL. They fuse heavy riffs, rich bass tones, electronic elements, and a show-no-mercy hardcore scream into a powerful, bone crushing sound sure to make metal heads mosh. Serving up brutality with a full-spectrum sonic production quality rarely heard of, this band will get your head banging and your ears bleeding!
Check out their songs:
-Seven Deadly (youtube)
-Monsters N Madmen (youtube-lyric)

Dismalimerance (Chicago, IL)
(Black Metal)

Dismalimerence are a black metal band form Chicago, IL. They give you the expected black metal shrieked vocals, yes. They deliver blistering tempos that would challenge any drumsticks’ integrity, true. However they also give you melodic breakdowns with acoustic guitars and clean melodic transitions. They build back up to their expected intensity, seamlessly blending progressive elements into their dark and haunting sound.
Check out their song:
-Sequestered Hearts (youtube)
-Sequestered Hearts (bandcamp audio)

Sons of Ra (Chicago, IL)

Sons of Ra are a progressive rock/jazz fusion metal band from Chicago, IL. They embrace the free and open jazz structure and blend the guitar soloing, heavy riffs and jazz beats into instrumental jams that satiate the cerebral music lover, and give the emotional outlet that metal heads crave. To get a taste of their esoteric formula there’s just one thing you need to do...
Check out their songs:
-AntiFragile (youtube)
-Persona Non Grata (bandcamp audio)

Molder (Joliet, IL)
(Death Metal)

Molder are a death metal band form Joliet, IL. They actually describe their genre as “pus-riddled death metal” to be accurate, and the description holds up to their sound! If you like your death metal filled with picturesque visions of gore and horror, then Molder is the band for you! They have harsh, mid-range guttural vocals, heavily distorted guitars (of course), but do utilize a variety of tempos to grind your guts out quickly or slowly.
Check out their songs:
-Necrobiome (bandcamp audio)

Foredoomed (Joensuu, Finland)
(Melodic Death Metal)

Foredoomed are a melodic death metal band from Joensuu, Finland. They really pack a versatile formula into a 3-piece act. Deep, dark, disturbing death metal vocals- check. Heavy guitars- check. Soaring symphonic keyboards, and melodic vocals to match- check. Clean guitar riffs, full fret-board guitar solos- check. To hear how they blend all these elements together you should probably...
Check out their songs:
-Blood Red Sun (youtube)
-Dead Candles (bandcamp audio)

Toxic Ruin (Sheboygan, WI)

Toxic Ruin are a thrash metal band form Sheboygan, WI. They don’t kid around, keeping the riffs heavy, the pace break-neck, the vocals screamed out with fervor. Very technical riffing and blast beat drumming galore. If you utilize metal music for emotional venting, or workout pacing, or just glorious head banging, then Toxic Ruin is your band of choice.
Check out their songs:
-Mental Atrophy (bandcamp audio)
-Insolent Obsession (youtube)

Dear Deadly (Willowbrook, IL)
(Alternative Metal)

Dear Deadly are an alternative metal band form the Chicago suburb of Willowbrook. Fast and catchy riffs permeate their formula. Guitar solos showcase their talent and a scratchy melodic voice delivers their edgy yet beautiful metal music. This band has a fast and heavy sound with hooks around every corner. To hear their grit and grace in harmonious action...
Check out their songs:
-Deviant (youtube)
-Very Wicked Things (bandcamp audio)

Please click this link to cast your vote:
(previewing songs or videos DO NOT COUNT AS VOTES!)
The poll closes at midnight on Sunday, November 17th, 2019!

Happy headbanging!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Act of Destruction-Beyond Eternity (2019)

Post #376

Act Of Destruction have returned with their 2nd independent release, Beyond Eternity. Roughly 4 years have passed since their debut Extinction, which I reviewed previously. In that time the band has seen some changes. One change was the addition of David Kraus on guitars and backing vocals. Kraus is also guitarist and lead vocalist from Scars of Armageddon (another former winner of my Independent Band of the Year poll), so if you're familiar with their sound, then the backing vocals should sound familiar!

Beyond Eternity starts off with Eternal Combustion. This song is sure to be a crowd pleaser to their established following. It has their classic formula of rapid-fire drumming, melodic-death/hardcore vocals by John Bravo III, intricate guitar riffs and unarguable talent with guitar soling. The production seems even crisper than their debut, which was already great! It's like a perfect hybrid between metalcore and melodic death metal.

Ascending Into Glory has an initial guitar riff that fades in. They slow the tempo down slightly, but otherwise is another great song, complete with a great guitar solo. This one seems to have some power metal influences outside of the vocals.

Spiritual Infinity is where Act of Destruction up the ante, and give us all a new twist to their formula. When the chorus comes around, Kraus' soaring melodic vocals blend in with John Bravo's harsher, death-metal growls. The resulting sound surprised me at first with its contrast in style, but it works! It will simultaneously quench your rage and pierce your eardrums. There is again fantastic riff work, and substantial guitar soloing- a true winner of a song!

The Source is a different combination again. With another display of slower-tempo riffs, Act of Destruction showcase their whole package here. The vocals are primarily John Bravo's hardcore growls, but the backing vocal formula includes both Kraus' melodic screams and Nigel Bravo's deeper, guttural death metal vocals are present as well. Then, we also get some spoken word passages by Nigel. The lyrics throughout this EP have been orbiting themes of philosophy, conservation and more esoteric concepts like religion and science fiction. This song is again like that, and has one of my favorite lyrics: "Your tears are the rain upon the blinding dust of the Earth."

Starkblast is a crowning jewel on this recording effort. Clocking in at over 7 minutes, it is the band's longest recording yet. It brings progressive metal elements into the fold more than they've done before. Again the vocal style is a 3-fold revolving door with the Bravo brothers providing the hardcore and death-metal growls, and Kraus the melodic elements. They also have guest vocals by Pindy of Armored Assault! Closing it off are more esoteric spoken word passages by Nigel Bravo, backed my Kraus' fading melodic screams.

Visit Act of Destruction's Bandcamp page for downloads, or find them in iTunes or on Spotify!