Thursday, October 30, 2008

Heavy Metal 107: Quotes of the Month (Feb-Oct '08)

Post #43
Below is a summary up to this point of the monthly lyric quotes of the month that I started in February of this year. They are meant to be entertaining, thought provoking, funny, or just cool. No offense is meant to anyone who reads this blog. If you have a favorite lyric you'd like me to feature as a lyric-of-the-month, just post a comment on any post and suggest it.

October '08: "I walk the corner to the rubble that used to be a library. Line-up to the mind cemetery now. What we don't know keeps the contracts alive and movin'. They don't gotta burn the books, they just remove 'em." from"Bulls On Parade", by Rage Against the Machine

September '08: "Bury your anger and bury your dead or you'll be left with nothing and no one." from "The Ultimate Sin", by Ozzy Osbourne

August '08: "I've got to stop living at a pace that kills before I wake up dead." from "Life Loves a Tragedy", by Poison

July '08: "You and me we'll all go down in history with a sad Statue of Libery and a generation that didn't agree." from "Sad Statue", by System of a Down

June '08: "I'd rather be a free man in my grave than living as a puppet or a slave." from "The Harder They Come", by Joe Jackson

May '08: "I don't mind stealing bread from the mouths of decadence. But I can't feed on the powerless when my cup's already overfilled." from "Hunger Strike", by Temple of the Dog

April '08: "It brings upon us more of famine, death and war. You know religion has a lot to answer for." from "For the Greater Good of God", by Iron Maiden

March '08: "Find a little evil perpetrator and feed him to the hungry alligator." from "Beethoven's C***", by Serj Tankian

February '08: "It's always funny until someone gets hurt, and then it's just hilarious!" from "Ricochet", by Faith No More

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Quick Look at Alice Cooper.

Post #42 [Poll winner: Vincent Furnier is the real name of which heavy metal icon?]
Alice Cooper: the original Shock-Rocker, was once a regular guy by the name of Vincent Furnier. After he started a rock band in the late 60's he wanted to give it a name that sounded nice, but contrasted with the band's "shock-the-people" approach to their stage show. "Alice Cooper" could be the lady who lives down the street, but this band made a new image for that name. Vincent actually took the name for himself (or at least his character in the band). When the band broke up in the early 80's, Alice continued seamlessly on with a solo career.

He's had his share of ups and downs, but over the years Alice Cooper has made a fair amount of memorable rock and metal music. Weather he was protesting war or domestic violence in the 70's, providing songs to 80's horror movie soundtracks, or in more recent years embracing the influence of nu-metal, there will always be a few good tunes by Alice Copper to bang your head to.

If you're new to Alice Cooper you might want to look for one of these hit collections (also my specific recommendations):
Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits
-I'm Eighteen
-School's Out
-Billion Dollar Babies
-No More Mr. Nice Guy

Alice Cooper-Classicks
-Hey Stoopid
-Feed My Frankenstein
-Stolen Prayer

And a couple spooky songs just in time for Halloween from the Constrictor album...
-Teenage Frankenstein
-He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Heavy Metal Campaign '08!

Post #41
Feeling anxious about the '08 Presidential Election? Relieve some of that stress by casting your vote for your favorite Heavy Metal vocalist right here on this blog! This election is purely for the fun of it, and has no consequences. The winner of this "election" will serve a 2-year term (December '08-November '10) as a symbolic "President" of this blog. Now, here are your candidates and their reasons they want your vote:

Ozzy Osbourne (Birmingham, England) Often referred to as the Godfather of modern Heavy Metal, other times called "The Prince of F***ing Darkness", Ozzy has always been at the top of the list of true Heavy Metal Icons. From his days in Black Sabbath, to his solo career, to consistently holding his own with all of metal's new bands at Ozzfest, to entertaining reality-show viewers with "The Osbournes"; Ozzy has always made the entertainment of his fans a top priority. Though he may owe a great deal of his success to the top-notch management by his wife Sharon, perhaps not enough of us ask where Sharon might be if there were no Ozzy? Ozzy asks for your vote because without him, where would heavy metal be?

James Hetfield of Metallica (San Francisco, California) James has been the leader of Metallica since its inception in the early 80's. In their prime, Hetfield's voice & Metallica's sound became almost synonymous with Heavy Metal itself. When the 90's came around, Metallica were brave enough to experiment with new styles of metal. After perservering through line-up changes and rehab, Hetfield & Metallica have re-emerged with a new album that harkens to their thrash metal roots, and are once again on top in the world of metal music. James asks for your vote, because right now there is no heavy metal band as big as Metallica!

Rob Halford of Judas Priest (Birmingham, England) With his band, Judas Priest, Halford has endured much controversay in his Heavy Metal career. In their early years Priest followed in the footsteps of Black Sabbath and quietly forged a unique Heavy Metal sound for themselves that has proven to be among the most classic of Heavy Metal. In the mid 90's, Halford left Judas Priest after going public about his homosexuality. He launched many solo projects (Fight, Two, and Halford) before at last returning to Priest in '04. Halford is know as "The Metal God" to his die-hard fans. He asks for your vote to support the enduring metal style of both Judas Priest and his solo efforts. He also has perhaps the widest vocal range in Heavy Metal.

Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden (Nottinghamshire, England) Bruce joined the ranks of British metal titan Iron Maiden for their 3rd album, The Number of the Beast. He quickly won over the band's fans and helped Maiden achieve major international success. You can argue there was no Heavy Metal band as consistent throughout the 80's than Iron Maiden. In the early 90's Bruce left the band over creative differences and started a solo career. After some success in this vein, Bruce eventually reunited with Maiden in 2000 (and brought one of his guitarists with him). Bruce is asking for your vote because Iron Maiden still write some of the most significant Heavy Metal music after nearly 30 years.

James LaBrie of Dream Theater (Ontario, Canada) Dream Theater was started by a group of students at Berkley College of Music. They had an ambitious musical vision, and after their first album, began looking for a new lead singer. James LaBrie answered the call and has proven ever since that he has the pipes these guys were looking for. Often composing progressive-metal songs in excess of 10, 20, or even 40 minutes in length, Dream Theater endeavor to prove they are the best at what they do; blending thrash metal with progressive rock. James wants your vote to prove this band's ambition is worth your while.

Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour (Des Moines, Iowa) Whether he's fronting the shockingly horrific Slipknot, or the more down-to-earth but still hard & heavy Stone Sour, Corey Taylor takes being a Heavy Metal singer very seriously. By listening to the 2 extremes of his vocal style in each of his respective bands, you can easily hear the versatility of his voice. Corey has also proven to be open-minded and helpful to several other acts in metal music, having appeared as a guest vocalist on Apocalyptica's "I'm Not Jesus", as well as working closely with Anthrax on their up-coming album. Corey asks for your vote as he carries ever-onward in the world of Heavy Metal.

(British candidates in red, North American candidates in blue)

Friday, October 17, 2008

King Diamond- The Graveyard

Post #40
Every year around Halloween, I like to dig out the spookiest, creepiest heavy metal music in my vast collection and really get into the Halloween spirit. Being a long-time fan of bands like Kiss & Alice Cooper gives me much to choose from in this category. This year I'm going to review one of my favorite albums from King Diamond; Denmark's evil, dark lord of Heavy Metal.

King Diamond's work outside of his original band, Mercyful Fate, has become a creative outlet for the singer's concept-themed musical projects over the years. In many of the albums under the "King Diamond" moniker a very detailed plot of some sinister subject matter or other is developed in the style of a heavy metal rock-opera. King Diamond uses the many pitches of his unique voice to sing several different characters' parts throughout.

On "The Graveyard", King Diamond tells a dark tale of a madman who exercises revenge against a pedophile. Told from the madman's perspective, this eye-for-an-eye tale follows his plot of revenge as he kidnaps mayor MacKenzie's daughter and holds her hostage... in a graveyard. MacKenzie was the true abuser of his daughter; a crime he framed the narrator for. By the end of the album it's clear that nobody wins, and suffering abounds. If you're feeling like a metal album that tells a haunting tale along the lines of Kiss the Girls, then give The Graveyard a listen.

-Black Hill Sanitarium
-Trick or Treat
-Up From The Grave

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

One Year and Counting...

Post #39
I can hardly believe it's already been a full year I've been writing this blog; there's so much great Heavy Metal music I haven't gotten to yet! I'll continue to write posts about both current favorites of mine, as well as many of my favorite bands from years past. As always, I'll use the monthly reader's polls to gauge the interest of my regular readers (thank you for reading this blog!) I'm always keeping my ear open for a thought provoking, funny, or otherwise interesting lyric for the monthly quote... however let me take a moment to remind you all that I'm open to suggestions on the Lyric-of-the-Month if you have one in mind.

Besides my "Coming Soon" topics, I'm plotting out the next month's poll to imitate an election format (it will involve your favorite lead singer). After that I was thinking to have a series of polls about Aerosmith albums (favorites from each decade...) After that I'm sure I'll come up with more ideas.

I will get to a summary of polls & quotes very soon. After one year of blogging seems a good time to summarize!
Read on everyone! Halloween-themed post coming very soon!

later for now...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Serj Tankian-Elect the Dead

Post #38
After headlining Ozzfest '06, System Of A Down went on an indefinite hiatus. Free from the burden of obligations and egos involved with a band, the creative minds of Tankian & Malakian were given free reign to launch their own solo-projects and escape the inundating expectations that System's success had begun to bring upon them. Serj's self-titled project was the first to release an album: Elect the Dead.

As a huge System of a Down fan, I wasn't sure what to expect from Serj without Daron. Should I expect it to sound just like a System album? Would it be so far removed from the band that I'd be disappointed? My apprehension was lessened upon hearing "Empty Walls", the debut single. I had a gift card to Best Buy handy, and decided to use it to pick up Elect the Dead. After hearing the whole album, I was glad I did.

Serj's songwriting style is mostly on par with the work of System of a Down. The main difference I find is that Serj incorporates a lot of piano & keyboard instrumentation, and the electric guitars, although still present, are pushed to the background a bit. When the lyrics come around, however, you can tell this is still the Serj from "System". Serj Tankian, as always, pulls no punches with political or social issues he feels strongly about, and there is plenty of commentary throughout "Elect the Dead". Don't worry though, the quirky, strange, out-of-left-field lyrics that at first make you scratch your head are still present too.

If you're a "System" fan and for some reason haven't picked up "Elect the Dead" yet, then you're missing out. If you need more convincing, check out these songs:
-Empty Walls
-Sky Is Over
-Honking Antelope
-Lie, Lie, Lie
-Beethoven's C***

Rush-2112, a True Rock Gem from 1976...

Post #37
In 1976, many rock bands seemed to be inspired to create some of their best work of the times. As I mentioned a few posts ago, there were numerous rock albums notable for having some of the best work of many bands' careers. I thought it the ideal topic for a truly challenging reader's poll, and it was a tight race down to the finish. That being said I was still a bit surprised to see that Rush's 2112 came out on top.

2112 didn't particularly have any of Rush's biggest hits from the 70's, but it did carry the most cohesive concept of any other music released that year. On this album, Rush tell a story set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic, Star-Trek-ish setting, where a "Solar Federation" has supreme control over all knowledge and has humanity living an extremely sheltered existence. If it were told in a novel format it would fit right in with similar stories by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood, and Orson Scott Card.

2112 chronicles the story of a person who discovers an ancient, mysterious thing- a guitar. Compelled to share this wondrous thing with the rest of humanity, he brings it before the high priests, who promptly discourage the idea, saying it was a part of what led to the destruction of the "ancient race". The ensuing struggle between authority and the inherent belief that the music is right is told through the music of "2112". The main plot of the concept is mainly told in the multi-part title-track, and the remaining songs seem to connect to the theme in vague, generic terms.

All-in-all this a well-executed musical project, and even in the thick of grandiose concepts told through rock music, this album ranks up with some of the best.

From "2112" I recommend:
-2112 (specifically parts I, II, & III)
-The Twilight Zone
-Something for Nothing