Monday, April 30, 2018

Foredoomed-Ordeal (2017)

Post #360

Foredoomed are a melodic death metal band from Joensuu, Finland. They have a very diverse style of death metal that incorporates elements of power metal, progressive rock, ambient rock, and symphonic metal to name just a couple. The best known band I can think to compare them to may be Amon Amarth, but they offer so much more.

Ordeal is their debut album, and after listening to it all the way through, I am blown away by the quality of production and mixing that is evident on these tracks. Their intro track 'Origin' is a beautiful, symphonic metal track with melodic female vocals provided by a guest musician, Mia Rouvinen. Then they hit you with 'Ghost Recurrence', a more aggressive thrasher, and it changes the game as vocalist/guitarist Atte Kymalainen proceeds to show you what he can do. Death metal growls dominate for much of this song, but elegant melodic vocals come into play for the last minute or so of the song. By now the listener knows what the band is capable of, and the rest of the album explores each element further.

 I first tried to listen to Foredoomed as a death metal band that has incorporated melodic elements and styles of power metal and symphonic metal into their sound. The more I thought about it, however, that seemed like a lot of things to incorporate into a death metal pallet of sounds. Then I stepped back, reconsidered, and found that a better description is perhaps a progressive power metal band with a heavy infusion of death metal style vocals. I found this to be a more comfortable context to appreciate their musical diversity, so that is how I shall refer to them.

While the vocal are indeed mostly death metal growls and screams, with deep guttural tones and ear splitting shrieks, they do incorporate a significant amount of melodic, and operatic vocals too. The musical formula that drives the band's sound it truly melodic in focus. Don't get me wrong, they are still brutally heavy and have moments of pure death metal ferocity, but there are lead guitars overlaying melodic phrases every time you turn around. There is also a near-constant presence of keyboards and/or synthesizers that serve to fill the sound, even in moments when they may be so overpowered by the grinding riffs you hardly notice them.

Foredoomed are a truly talented melodic death metal band. They incorporate such a balanced and abundant amount of melodic, progressive, and ambient elements that I do argue they are more a power metal band that incorporates death metal elements than vice-versa. Ordeal as an album, is a masterpiece of this infusion of metal formulas. I can't get enough of it! If you are a fan of Amon Amarth or even more traditional European power metal bands like Sonata Arctica then you will find much to like with Foredoomed!

Recommended tracks from Ordeal:
-Ghost Recurrence
-Search for Tomorrow (My personal favorite! Love the lead guitar melody and theme that recurs throughout this song.)
-Dualism
-Shade of the Darker Sun

Follow Foredoomed on:
FACEBOOK
BANDCAMP
Official Website
Check out their lyric video for Dualism!


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Motley Crue- Shout at the Devil

Post #359
[Poll Winner: Favorite Motley Crue Album from the 80's]

Motley Crue released their first album in 1981, but it was their second album, Shout At The Devil in 1983, that solidified their status among the developing Los Angeles "Glam Metal" scene, as well as establishing their trademark sound.

This album has stood the test of time with die-hard Crue fans for its level of grit, power, and consistency from track to track. Shout at the Devil yielded 4 singles and 2 music videos, which served to make the band a regular presence on both hard rock radio stations and MTV in the early 1980's. It wouldn't be until seven years later with 1990's Dr. Feelgood that the Crue had another album with more than 3 singles.

After Shout at the Devil, Motley Crue gradually pushed for a more marketable sound, and steadily included more and more ballads on each successive album. This made them accessible to a wider fan-base. This was all well and good for a 'hair metal' band seeking global success, and almost every band from this era did the same. But for new fans seeking to discover the darkest, grittiest, heaviest, and also one of the best albums Motley Crue ever recorded, you need look no further than Shout at the Devil.

Singles released from Shout at the Devil:
-Shout at the Devil
-Helter Skelter
-Looks that Kill
-Too Young to Fall In Love


HappyHeadbanger's Recommended Tracks:
-Bastard
-Knock 'Em Dead Kid
-Danger

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Proudest Angel- Fan Contest for Upcoming House of Blues Show.

Post #358

Proudest Angel are headling the House of Blues, Chicago on March 29th. They want you to know about it and share it! From now through this Saturday, March 17th anybody that uses #proudestangel on social media will be entered into a drawing for 2 tickets to the show, 2 shirts and downloads of both their albums.


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So jump onto your facebooks, instagrams, and twitters and spread the word for #proudestangel and their House of Blues show on March 29th!!!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mac Sabbath with Galactic Empire at Subterranean, Chicago (2-17-18)

Post #357

Drive-Thru Metal meets Sci-Fi Metal? Count me IN!! On February 17th, 2018 I attended the weirdest tribute band show I ever saw. It was the "I Got a Bad Feeling About This" Tour with Mac Sabbath and Galactic Empire...

When it comes to tribute bands, I really appreciate true passion and talent in giving a nod to the artists that inspire you. But for a band to embody the passion of the music along with specific elements of a niche fandom, such as Star Wars, was truly something unique to behold!

Galactic Empire are that band. They have become internet-famous with their music videos, where they perform heavy metal versions of Star Wars soundtrack songs in full Star Wars costumes. They play the roles of Darth Vader, Death Trooper, Storm Trooper, Imperial Red and Boba Fett in the video. Not only that, but they insert fandom-themed jokes into the music videos also.

Seeing them perform live was every bit as entertaining as their youtube videos, if not more-so. They even had crowd participation, as someone from the audience was tapped to play the role of 'a Rebel Alliance traitor', and were then force-choked by Vader on stage. Since their first couple music videos, they have replaced Death Trooper with 'Kyle' Ren on guitar. During their live set they explained the line-up change, with plenty of dark-side humor!

Galactic Empire's arrangements of the theme music from the Star Wars franchise are near flawless and satiate the metal-head's craving for well-executed riffs and guitar solos. This was, after all, a "fully armed and operational metal band!" As a Star Wars fan, and also owning my own copy of their full-length debut album, I knew every song and was immersed in metal-infused Star Wars fandom for the entirety of their set. The crowd's most energetic moment came when they played 'Cantina Band', of all numbers. If you haven't heard that one yet, find it on iTunes and treat yourself!

I forget the exact sequence, but I know they played:
-Main Theme
-The Force Theme
-The Forest Battle
-The Imperial March
-Cantina Band
-Duel of the Fates

Download Galactic Empire's self-titled debut on iTunes!

Then it was time for Mac Sabbath. Their description alone says enough about them: A Black Sabbath Parody-Tribute band that mocks the food quality of the McDonald's franchise as well as the US FDA and food industry in general.

Mac Sabbath sometimes had a hard time taking themselves seriously, but the instrumentation and performance of the classic Black Sabbath riffs was worthy of any metal fan's respect! With the real Black Sabbath seemingly retired after their 'The End' tour, a chance to see any Sabbath tribute band is appreciated. This one was full of laughs as well. The music was well performed, and the lyrics were downright hysterical!

They do have a music video for 'Pair-a-Buns', but unfortunately most of their songs remain unrecorded in studio format. They do have a ton of youtube videos out there from various live performances that you can check out if you're curious, and have a strong stomach...

Since the show I've looked up the names of many of their parody songs, but the sequence may be off..
To the best of my knowledge, the setlist was:
-Black Sandwich (Black Sabbath)
-Organic Funeral (Electric Funeral)
-Chicken for the Slaves (Children of the Grave)
-GMO-Blind (Snow Blind)
-In Dreams (Roy Orbison cover?)
-SUPERSIZE!!! (Supernaut)
-Into the Void/Sabbath Bloody Sabbath/Megalomania  (Instrumental)
-Frying Pan (Iron Man)

encore(?)
-Mac Flag (Black Flag cover, 'Nervous Breakdown'?)
-Pair-a-Buns

Friday, February 23, 2018

ICED EARTH-Dystopia and Plagues of Babylon (2011-2014)

Post #356

A cold and snowy February calls for me to review Iced Earth once again! This time, I am taking a long-overdue look at the dawn of the Stu Block era. Stu Block had been the vocalist for Into Eternity prior to joining Iced Earth in 2011 to replace long-time singer Matt Barlow. From all I have read on Barlow's departure, between the official Iced Earth website, facebook page, and wikipedia articles on the issue, his departure from the band was amicable and seemed to be an honest retirement. (Barlow has since started a band called Ashes of Ares).

Stu Block stepped in and provided a voice for their 2011 album, Dystopia. As a long-time Iced Earth fan, I was naturally hesitant about another change of the vocalist role, but Stu's amazing range and stylistic emulation of Barlow's tone, and grit immediately put me at ease, and in the end the Dystopia album won me over completely.

Consistent with Iced Earth's recent trends, the album's title track opens with a slow anthem-like riff, and power chords that ring long and heavy. Then Stu Block unleashes a devilish scream, the tempo is kicked into high-speed, and a classic Iced Earth thrash-fest is underway...

While the title track 'Dystopia' thrashes along with the best Iced Earth classics, I cannot help be notice the uncanny, seamless transitions from deep growls to high falsettos that Block displays throughout the song. At some point this talent surpasses simple emulation of Barlow's vocal style, and approaches a 'King-Diamond-esque' mastery of range.

'Anthem' is the next track, and the clean guitar intro which transitions to a low-tempo, minor-key riff shows the listener that Iced Earth will again have all their talents on display for this album. The lyrics are a social criticism with a call for resilience among society's downtrodden classes. The plight of the homeless and poverty-stricken are present throughout. Never a band to shy away from social or political issues, it is clear that Iced Earth are also out to make some statements on this album.

Iced Earth show you their full repertoire on Dystopia, with songs that push the upper limits of intensity like 'Boiling Point' and 'Days of Rage', but balanced out by softer and slower tracks like 'Anguish of Youth' and 'End of Innocence'. Not only are the riffs impressive, but the lead guitar solos are better on this album than the past several Iced Earth albums.

Recommended Tracks:
-Dystopia
-Anthem
-Boiling Point (Intense! A really fast thrasher where Block's vocals really are more comparable to Ripper Owens than Matt Barlow)
-Anguish of Youth (A slower tempo ballad with the clean-heavy-clean transitions that Iced Earth fans are accustomed to)
-V (Heavy groove. Jam-riffing, V is for Victory! "Minds awakened, rid your life of tyranny" Excellent guitar solo!!)
-Dark City (Clean intro again, vocals again are acrobatic- again reminded of KD)
-End of Innocence (A sad ballad, and true masterpiece of a song. Inspired by the illness of Stu's mother. Lead guitars add melody, acoustic guitars add texture, yet choruses are heavy. The theme throughout is about finding inspiration.)

Plagues of Babylon picked up where Dystopia left off. Another concept album, this one actually makes some lyrical references to concepts explored on the Something Wicked, 2-part album. This album opens with a slow and ominous drum beat. Again, this serves as a build-up to the actual song, 'Plagues of Babylon', which shortly morphs into the classic Iced Earth thrasher-type of song. Stu Block's versatile vocals are on display from the get-go.

Block's deep growl is in constant contrast with his upper-range screams and mid-range melodic voice, which simultaneously surprises listeners with unexpected twists and serves the needs of each given song and just the right moments. As I mentioned before, he fits perfectly as a replacement of Matt Barlow, yet also draws comparisons to Tim Owens and even the legendary King Diamond.

'The Culling' is one of the songs that seems like a direct continuation of the concepts from the Something Wicked albums. Mainly a mid-tempo grinder of a song, it also contains a breakdown segment and an impressive guitar solo.

'If I Could See You' is a sad and touching Iced Earth ballad of loss. In much the same way as 'Watching Over Me' primarily featured clean guitar melodies and a minor key tone to convey the emotions of loss and grieving, this song displays the softer side of Iced Earth and is more about losing an inspiring role model than a friend or lover.

The Highwayman is a cover of the Jimmy Webb song made famous by the country super-group The Highwaymen. Here, in similar fashion, Iced Earth performs it as a quartet with different verses sang by Jon Schaffer, Stu Block and guest vocals by Volbeat's Michael Poulsen and Symphony X's Russell Allen. The presence of such big names in the current metal scene make this the best collaboration of talent in the genre since the Big Four of thrash metal performed the song 'Am I Evil?' together on stage in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Recommended Tracks:
-Plagues of Babylon

-The Culling
-Among the Living Dead
-If I Could See You
-Cthulhu
-The Highwayman

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

ACT OF DESTRUCTION-EXTINCTION (2015)

Post # 355

Act of Destruction are a thrash metal band from Chicago. They write aggressive songs with fast tempos, raw production, harsh vocals, intense guitar solos, and lyrics infused with political and religious criticism. Having recently won my Independent Band of the Year poll for 2017, here is my promised review of their 2015 release Extinction.

Extinction is a well-crafted, full-length debut album, with 12 tracks counting the instrumental intro. While they are firmly fixed in the aggressive side of thrash (they don't have any softer tracks that break from the aggressive pattern on this release), they do keep things interesting with top-notch lead guitars and plenty of solos. Extinction may not be a concept album, but it is a true listening experience.

Overture of Destruction is the instrumental track that serves as an intro to the album. It starts with thundering riffs that tease with bursts of power that are allowed to ring into one lull after another. Then they hit you between the eyes with Worldwide Hate- a furiously fast thrasher! "Now the fury is unleashed, Law and Order are deceased." the lyrics intone, and the atmosphere of chaos is set. Then, ascending guitar solos shred and the song's tone shifts to a breakdown. The intensity returns to close out the number, and you know you'll be banging your head.

That mood of chaos, darkness, and aggression holds throughout the album from one song to the next. While the riffs are constantly heavy and aggressive, there is always a lead guitar in the mix, often shredding intense leads. The soloing is frequent and extensive when it comes around. The lead guitars serve to maintain an element of  melody within songs. Often there are long stretches of guitar solos that bring new dimensions to the speed metal riffs.

The guitar tones remind me of Sepultura's early works, while the vocals seem to be comparable to Exodus. In both those comparisons the aggressive and relentless tempo also is an accurate benchmark. Lyrical themes range from political criticism to occult imagery. Though the vocal delivery may be one dimensional with the constant gritty screams, the lyrics still provide insightful debates on the subjects they choose to explore.

Overall, Extinction is a successful thrash metal effort. It harkens back to the early days of thrash, when it was truly synonymous with the term 'Speed Metal'. Aside from their obvious talent at maintaining lightning fast tempos, their is no talent lost in the area of lead guitars with this band.
Don't forget to stream or download Extinction through Act of Destruction's Bandcamp page!

Recommended tracks:
-Worldwide Hate
-Death Warriors
-Disciples of the Night
-Black Reality
-Corpses of the Dead (This one contains one of my favorite lines: 'The road to hell has become far too long'!)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Congratulations to Act of Destruction!

Post #354

This past October I hosted the 9th annual Independent Band of the Year reader's poll contest on this blog. After a month of promoting the contest and the bands pushing their fans to vote, a tight race concluded with Act of Destruction narrowly eclipsing Sinister Fate for the title of 'Independent Band of the Year'.

https://www.facebook.com/ACTOFDESTRUCTIONOFFICIAL/

Congratulations to Act of Destruction for pulling in the most votes!

I want to take a moment to thank all the other bands that agreed to participate this time around: Sinister Fate, Whale Bones, War Gods of the Deep, Our Broken View, Revenge Season, and Windowpane. Please see Post number 353 if you missed the chance to vote and wish to discover the music from these incredible bands. All the outreach and new page views this contest generates for this blog each year is truly appreciated. To those bands, I sincerely hope that you each gained a few more fans as a result of this contest as well.

For now, watch for a review of Act of Destruction's full-length album, 'Extinction' sometime in the next couple weeks. Act of Destruction's concerts and events will be promoted here throughout 2018. And continue to follow www.happyheadbanger.com for reviews of metal bands from the local scene to the international touring scene. The Independent Band of the Year polling contest will be back again next fall, with nominees from past winners, other favorite local bands and international independent bands hand-picked by yours truly. Until then, Happy Headbanging!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

2017 Independent Band of the Year Readers' Poll

Post #353
Another year, another 7 independent bands. Again, there is plenty of variety within the realms of heavy metal and hard rock music represented here. Discover a new band! Play the recommended songs available to stream online! Vote for your favorite band (or 2 or 3...) in the right-hand column of this blog. Voting is open from now through October 31st 'til midnight!



Sinister Fate (Chicago, IL Horror-Metal)
Sinister Fate are a Chicago-based heavy metal band that have been tearing it up (figuratively), and tearing flesh (literally), since 2005. Their lyrics are heavily influenced by horror and gothic imagery. Their stage-shows feature gothic make-up and DIY pyro effects, from flame-dancers to spark-throwers. Their sound is for fans of Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper (the heavier-side), and Wednesday 13/Murderdolls. Their latest release is titled Blood Pact.

Check out their new music video for
The Monster Within

Act Of Destruction (Chicago, IL Thrash Metal)
Act of Destruction also hail from Chicago, and their style is clearly thrash-metal influenced. They're famous for courteously asking their fans to "Get Destroyed!" Rough screamed vocals are not quite 'death metal', but closer to hardcore. Some of their songs really push the limit for fast-tempo, shredding metal. Their full-length album is titled Extinction.

Check out their song
Death Warriors
or stream on Facebook.

Whale Bones (Bloomington, IN  Alternative/Dreamo/Ambient)
Whale Bones, from Bloomington, IN, are an alternative rock band that bend genres with their sound. An ambient mood and a wide range of sounds are present as they utilize instruments from soft keyboards to amped guitars. This band would appeal to fans of Pink Floyd or Kings of Leon. Their latest EP is titled The Seaside.

Check out their song
Hiding From the Sea

War Gods Of The Deep (Chicago, IL Hard Rock/Metal)

War Gods of the Deep are a Chicago metal band that blend some genres together in their formula. Elements of metal, prog, and 'space-rock' can be heard. The songs are heavy, but still have strong hooks that catch your ear. Their latest EP is titled Robots, Rockets and Rampage.

Check out their song:
Mortal Cage

Revenge Season (Atlanta, GA  Hardcore/Metal)
Revenge Season are a hardcore metal band from Atlanta, GA. Their uncompromising style of brutally heavy hardcore metal is great for fans of bands like Unearth or Atreyu. They will have you headbanging and moshing within seconds. Their music is available to stream on bandcamp. Their newest single is Malfeasance/Scarred.

Check out their song
Malfeasance

Our Broken View (Chicago, IL Hard Rock/Metal)
Our Broken View, from Chicago's south side, are a hard rock/metal band that utilize mid-tempo, heavy groove tones, melodic vocals, and occasional screams. They remind me of a more mainstream Mudvayne. Maybe it's the clean vs scream tone of the singer's voice, or the deep tone of the drum and bass combination, or their ability to fuse brutal heaviness with infectious melodies. Their newest release is Applauding the Silence.

Check out the video for their song
Runaway

Windowpane (Seattle, WA  Hard Rock)
Windowpane hail from the Seattle, WA music scene. Their sound is a heavy variety of alternative rock. Their sound reminds me of Shinedown in some ways, Stone Temple Pilots in others. Their songs are infectiously catchy, and most are available to stream on soundcloud. They've been recording music sing 2006, but their newest, self-titled album was released just last year: Windowpane.

Check out their song
Words and Nothing More

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Evil Engine-Nullius In Verba (EP-2016)

Post #352

Evil Engine are a Chicago-based, female-fronted punk rock band on the rise. Having played shows from Chicago to New York and beyond this summer of 2017, you might have already seen them live and seen what they can do. Nullius In Verba, their debut EP, is 5 tracks (6 counting the shout-out to their Kickstarter supporters, bonus track) of pure punk energy fused with a tinge of metal.

From the opening number, Ugly Public, you feel what this band is about. They're intense, yet not hardcore. Accessible, yet not 'pop-punk'. Truly a throwback to when the intensity of punk was first infused with melodic rock. The lyrics are a cannon-spray of commentary on the modern socio-political landscape.

The Resistance is more aggressive, and every bit as fast as Ugly Public. The lyrics are a more-straight-forward 'fight the system' anthem. It's a call to arms against the establishment.

Father may be the best example of Evil Engine's ability to fuse metal in their sound as the clean guitar intro demonstrates their ability to focus on melody. The song still picks up and give you the aggression you'd expect at this point, but the melody is never far from the song structure, and Kryssie's voice gives a perfect delivery with a smooth and bluesy tone and just the right amount of aggression.

Radio Coup D'tat. While it criticizes the music industry's biases in terms of radio air play, it may also be the band's most radio-friendly number... It reminds me of Green Day in some respects, with a major-key tonality and fun-times vibe. It also defends the underground music scene and the mentality of those who support, contribute, or attend shows in the underground scene.

Egression is the last true song on the EP, and it is a worthy closer. It opens with a slow and melodic bass guitar, but soon transitions to perhaps the fastest song on the record! Lyrically the song seems a cautionary tale about society slipping into a dystopia. Socially conscientious, and full of fist-pumping emotion, this song easily merits multiple plays on your listening device.

Brrrraaaap is sort of a bonus track, as it is essentially just a list of thank-you's to the people that supported the highest tier of their kisckstarter campaign. Still, it is a track where... hearing is believing!

Check out the official Evil Engine website,
Follow them on Facebook
Watch their Youtube Channel and...
Don't forget to check out Nullius In Verba on iTunes!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

METALLICA-HARDWIRED... TO SELF DESTRUCT (2016)

Post #351

After a busy 8 years, filled with ups and downs, Metallica return with their new album 'Hardwired to Self Destruct', and once again set the standard for what it takes to be the best heavy metal band in the world. 12 long tracks required the CD version to be a double-album, but they also released a Deluxe, 3-disc version packed with bonus studio and live tracks. However, the most interesting trick they did this time was the complete album being released on youtube. For every track they filmed a music video to accompany it. In recent years, with the ever advancing technology interface and how music fans follow their favorite artists, bands have been releasing more and more music videos on or ahead of the release of the actual album. As a response to widespread illegal piracy of music, this has been a way for the artist to respond and retain enough appeal to keep fans engaged, consuming, and sharing the music. Here's an article from Medium.com about this trend.

In any case, Metallica take the idea to the max: including a full music video for every song on the album. In some ways this is a challenge for the listener. I'm still accustomed to hearing music first, before seeing a video adaptation of it. Here, the availability of a video-element for each new song gives the listening experience a completely new dimension. I'll try to review each song in terms of both the music itself, as well as the video. I find in some cases an enticing, captivating and well-directed music video can make a mediocre song more enjoyable. On the other hand, a great song can also be the victim of a lack-luster video, and detract for the experience of enjoying it for what it is. You'll see what I mean in my annotations that follow.

Metallica have also given fans a great product with the Deluxe Edition. This version includes a 3rd bonus disc that contains the original song 'Lords of Summer', (an early teaser song that Metallica have played live on the latter legs of touring in support of Death Magnetic); 3 cover songs of Iron Maiden, Deep Purple and Ronnie James Dio; and several live tracks that include early 'deep' tracks and a live version of the new album's title-track 'Hardwired'. With Hardwired... To Self Destruct there are a mix of ups and downs between the audio and visual elements of each song, but overall it is hard not to call this the best Metallica album ever. Yes, even Master of Puppets is challenged for that title in my mind. Here's my take on this new album...

Hardwired
Video Style: Band-jam, Black and white, revolving camera-angle with strobe-light effect.
Video rating: 3 of 5
Song style: Thrasher, speed-metal.
Song rating: 4.5 of 5

Sometimes you want thrash metal to do just that: THRASH! When headbangers want to bang their heads, that is the kind of song they need. 'Hardwired' is such a song. This is Metallica simply proving they can still shred with the best of them! The way this video is shot reminds me of Megadeth's video for 'Holy Wars... The Punishment Due', a revolving camera angle while the band just jams out the song. Here, Metallica keep it all in black and white. I don't rate the video itself very high simply because I feel there was more they could have done to represent the themes behind the lyrics...




Atlas, Rise!
Video style: Making-of, Studio recording and outtakes.
Video rating: 4 of 5
Song style: Thrasher, fast-paced with some progressive elements, great two-part guitar segments.
Song rating: 5 of 5

Truly, 'Atlas, Rise!' is one of the best songs on this album. Metallica utilize 2-part guitar melodies and riffs in a way that often reminds me of classic Iron Maiden, especially at the 'breakdown' segment of this song around the 4:20 minute mark. I only give the video 4 of 5 here because although it is cool to have a 'making of' video to get a glimpse into the studio life of the band, again the lyrics of the song could have been utilized for visual enactment in some manner. I confess, I am intrigued by Greek mythology, and all the references to Atlas bearing the burden of holding up the sky are lost video potential to me.




Now That We're Dead
Video Style: Band-jam with some projection effects
Video rating: 4 of 5
Song style: Mid to slow-tempo heavy metal, Groove metal
Song rating: 5 of 5

This is definitely one of my favorite songs, if not my top favorite from this album. It doesn't kill you with fast tempos like 'Hardwired' did, but rather hangs around the slower-mid-tempo range throughout. Its riffs are very catchy and the rhythm plods along infectiously. Kirk Hammett adds some top-notch guitar soloing too. Hetfield's lyrics are genius for this song as he utilizes a repeating structure, "When ____, then may it be that ____.", and each line is a philosophical critique of life, death, religion, and many other relevant debates.




Moth Into Flame
Video Style: Band-jam with visual effects, cameo of a CGI moth that swarms to the light.
Video rating: 5 of 5
Song style: Fast-tempo Thrasher, Key-shifts, Progressive elements
Song rating: 5 of 5

'Moth Into Flame' is an all-around winner of a song and one of the best on this album. It has so many essential Metallica ingredients: speed, complex and ever-changing guitar riffs, breakdowns, fast and furious vocals, a great guitar solo from Hammett, and excellent lyrics about the perils of over-inflated self-worth, fame, and narcissism. The video plays off of the 'Hardwired' video at the start and the band-jam is within a television that is attracting the metaphorical moth.




Dream No More
Video Style: Band-jam with visual effects, Green-screen/silhouette effects. Images are projected onto the band while they play.
Video rating: 4 of 5. (the visual creativity is cool, but the images themselves don't portray much of the song's subject matter)
Song style: Slow-tempo, heavy sound, higher pitch vocals.
Song rating: 3.5 of 5

This song shows Hetfield stretching his comfort zone vocally. He sings in a high-pitch style in this song for the majority of the verses while reverting to his comfortable deep-throat growls during the bridges and choruses. Musically it reminds me of a couple other Metallica songs: 'The Thing That Should Not Be' and 'King Nothing'. It has that level of heaviness and of course the slow-tempo begs these comparisons. The more I listen to this song the more it grows on me and Metallica recapture their mastery of the heavy, slow-tempo grinder.




Halo On Fire
Video Style: Band jam surrounded by fans, mixed with scripted/acted segments
Video rating: 4 of 5
Song style: Heavy/Clean tone-changing structure, softer segments give way to heavy passages and vice versa. A true Metallica classic!
Song rating: 5 of 5

'Halo on Fire' was the kind of song I was waiting for from Metallica. This is comparable to 'The Day That Never Comes' from the Death Magnetic release, and hearkens back to true classics like 'Fade to Black' and 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)'. The tone-changing cycle within the song- as guitar migrate from clean and pretty melodic phrases to heavy distorted riffs and back again, is to me where Metallica's true calling lies. The video, however explores a different story line than the lyrics might imply, given that the lyrics are abstract at best, and dwell on enigmatic symbolism throughout. Still, the story told in the video portrays a young lady that ventures from her desolate home through city streets to a destination where her hobby of street-fighting is revealed. Much social commentary on gender roles in this practice can be perceived.



Confusion
Video Style: Scripted/acted story line, tells the story of war veteran returning to society.
Video rating: 5 of 5
Song style: Slow to mid-tempo heavy tone, another groove metal, or alt-metal piece
Song rating: 3 of 5

'Confusion' is a clear example, in my opinion, of a well-directed and well developed video concept that takes an average song and makes it a rewarding viewing and listening experience. There is more value to the art of music in this case because of the visual elements in the video. Musically the song is another mid-tempo heavy number that doesn't do much that really impresses me. Without the video here, I'd consider it a 'filler' track. The tempo and tone of this song do remind me of some of Metallica's work from the Load/Reload era. However the story told on-screen in the video is captivating. A young woman flashes back and forth from a present day life in a corporate desk-job environment to a tense, middle-eastern armed conflict where she was previously an armed combatant. It portrays the challenges of adjusting to civilian life after traumatic battle experience in the armed forces.




ManUNkind
Video Style: Band-Jam, role-played, prop-band ala-Wizard Of Oz...
Video rating: 4.5 of 5
Song style: Slow- to mid-tempo heavy tune, groove metal
Song rating: 3 of 5

'ManUNkind' is an interesting video to watch. Again the song is somewhere in the middle of the pack for quality, and originality, but the video is a clever take on the band-jam atmosphere. The Twist with this one? The real guys in Metallica never actually appear in the video. Rather, there is a band of 'other guys' that mime, lip sync, and 'play' the song for a small-venue audience. The impostors use some kitchy props and dress in some more modern and underground metal-esque garb complete with some corpse paint. Although I think the video's concept is high on the entertainment factor, I cannot overlook the fact that Trivium did a very similar thing in their video for "Blind Leading the Blind" previously, which is the only reason I didn't give the video element of this song the full score.




Here Comes Revenge
Video style: Animated, role-play.
Video rating: 5 of 5
Song style: Heavy/Clean tone-changing structure.
Song rating: 5 of 5

Another easy favorite from this album, 'Here Comes Revenge' is both a bit of all Metallica's tricks rolled into one yet also sounds completely new and fresh. You have minor-key melodies of clean guitar, and building of pace and heaviness to a chorus that is faster and heavier than the verses. Fans of classic Metallica songs like 'Fade to Black' or 'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' should be happily impressed with 'Here Comes Revenge'!



Am I Savage?
Video Style: Scripted/role-play interspersed with snippets of band members.
Video rating: 5 of 5
Song style: Slow-to-mid tempo, Heavy/Groove
Song rating: 2.5 of 5

The video for 'Am I Savage?' is another example of song that doesn't particularly stand out, but the video tells an interesting story. The song itself is another mid-tempo, groove-metal number. There is a short intro of clean melody, but overall I find it mediocre musically. The video, however, is a clever concept. You have a main character: a guy with a regular family, job, and group of friends. He is the only character portrayed with visual detail, all the other characters, weather friends or family, are depicted as featureless nondescript 'people' covered head to toe in plain white fabric. After each 'day' in this guy's life, he replays each scene by himself while going insane. The point seems to be that we live our lives confined to the identity that others see in us, while our inner tensions and rage must remain concealed. The insane side of this guy's personality represents that primal nature let loose without restraint.




Murder One
Video Style: Animated
Video rating: 4 of 5
Song style: Mid-Tempo, Heavy, Groove
Song rating: 4 of 5

Murder One is perhaps unique among all the songs on this album in that it is inspired by, and a tribute to, the late Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead fame. Many lyrical references to Lemmy specifically, and Motorhead in general can be found by the acute listener. Lemmy died of cancer on December 28th, 2015. Metallica have always cited him and Motorhead as a major influence in heavy metal. This song is meant to capture the essence of Lemmy, and his attitude toward life and music.




Spit Out The Bone
Video style: Animated mixed with Band Jam
Video rating: 5 of 5
Song style: Thrasher, Speed Metal
Song rating: 5 of 5

Like the opening track, Spit Out The Bone is an all-out thrasher of a song that pushes the tempo to the limit. A fitting way to close the album, and the lyrics make some connections to the album as a whole, even mirroring in some parts of the opening title-track. The theme is that humanity is falling victim to an apocalypse at the hands of their own creations: machines and technology. The video plays out like a mini-movie as human characters are portrayed as a militant resistance to a technological apocalypse. They are slowly eradicated by drone-type machines that disintegrate the humans, leaving only their skeletal remains.




Lords of Summer
Video style: Concert Footage/ Venue Set-up/ Life on the Road
Video rating: 4 of 5
Song style: Thrasher, fast-tempo.
Song rating: 4.5 of 5

With so many great songs on the album already, I still feel this one is worthy of mention near the top of the list. This was one of the songs that Metallica promoted way ahead of the album's release, that it almost seems unfair that they put it on the 3rd disc of the Special Edition of this album. Lyrically the song is all about the touring life of a heavy metal band. The song does click along at a pretty fast clip, although perhaps not quite as much as the title track or Spit Out the Bone, it is still every bit as worth of your time! The video, likewise, plays like a tour-documentary, showing the set-up, tear-down, and all the mayhem of putting on a live show.



Bonus Disc Tracks:

Ronnie Rising Medley (Rainbow covers)
When a Blind Man Cries (Deep Purple cover)
Remember Tomorrow (Iron Maiden cover)

(Live at Rasputin Music)
Helpless
Hit The Lights
The Four Horsemen
Ride the Lightning
Fade To Black
Jump In The Fire
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Creeping Death
Metal Militia

(Live in Minneapolis)
Hardwired

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Proudest Angel Video Shoot! (Sunday, August 13th at 10:00 am)

Post #350

Proudest Angel, reigning Independent Band of the Year, are filming a video for their upcoming single 'We Had Fun' on Sunday August 13th starting at 10:00am. Extras are wanted!!! The venue is the Elbo Room on Chicago's North Side. Not busy? Drop on in and be in a music video!



This is a FREE EVENT! If you're not tied down by work-schedules, hobbies, or ropes then there's really no excuse to miss this chance for 15 minutes of fame!

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
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

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!