Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Label Added- "At Your Library"

Post #75
Hello readers! Just wanted to update you on one of my secret methods of keeping up and up on so much new music. Especially in these times, where money is tight for so many, finding great bargains is essential to people like myself who live on a budget. However, sometimes even a great sale isn't enough to make all the music I'd like to buy affordable.

For times like this, I utilize my local library. You may be surprised how quickly libraries add new titles to their audio-visual sections. Ever since I started this blog, I've periodically reviewed titles that I checked out from my library. In some cases I've added these titles to my collection since the time I borrowed them from the library, but not always. I've added the label "At Your Library" to all the posts where I first hear the music on a CD I checked out from my library. So pay attention when you see this label at the bottom of a post, and let it be a reminder to yourself that there is probably some cool new music waiting for you at your own library.


Post #74
Lordi! The monster-mask wearing 80's-style metal enthusiasts from Finland follow-up their "Arockalypse" album with another monster & horror inspired album; "Deadache". This album does a good job of covering all the basic elements from their previous album. Although they don't seem to try anything new or experimental with this album, they do stick to their tried & true formula very well.

They sart off "Deadache" with another SCG-intro, but I don't find it as creative as SCG3 from "The Arockalypse". The rest of the music, however, rocks just as hard as before. Monsters, ghouls, and tales of hauntings lace every musical nook & cranny of "Deadache". Mr. Lordi sings as enthusiastic as ever with his incredibly raspy voice. Catchy guitar riffs and lead guitar melodies show off this band's genre of inspiration- 80's hair-metal. Eerie, mood-setting keyboards provide the essential nightmare-ish vibe that Lordi thrive on.

Feast your ears on this album for Halloween this year, or should I say, let it feast upon your ears?
Here are my recommended tracks:
-Girls Go Chopping
-Man Skin Boots
-The Ghosts of the Heceta Head
-The Devil Hides Behind Her Smile (This song pays tribute to another haunting story, as the keyboards play a musical theme from the musical "Phantom of the Opera")
-Missing Miss Charlene (Why is he missing Miss Charlene? Because a monster stole dear Charlene, of course...)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Alice In Chains-Black Gives Way To Blue

Post #73
After a long period of silence, one of the greatest bands from the grunge-era finally return. Alice In Chains have picked up their bones, filled some voids, and recorded some new music that is surprisingly reminiscent of their previous material. For a band to choose to continue their career after the death of a key member has to be a hard decision to make. For Alice In Chains, they took their time.

After several years of mourning the loss of original vocalist, Layne Staley, and much soul searching, the band decided to reunite. At first they just performed a couple of benefit shows, and had a variety of different performers fill the role of lead vocals. At some point, they called on William DuVall (who'd performed with Jerry Cantrell on his solo tour) to take the lead vocals part. What started as a last-go-around tribute to Layne Staley tour grew enough camaraderie among the band members that they decided to keep going.

DuVall has proven to be the defibrillator that jump-started Alice In Chains' black & blue heart. If you've heard any of the band's new music from Black Gives Way To Blue, then you know why. The first time I heard "Check My Brain" the similarity to Staley's unique voice sent chills down my spine. When I first played the album all the way through, almost every song did the same. There are some places where DuVall is singing solo that you can hear how his voice differs from Layne's, but in the next melody he'll slip into another instance of eerie resemblance.

William DuVall's voice is not exactly like Layne's, but it's damn close! Even more important, the 2-part harmonies between DuVall and Jerry Cantrell sound just like classic Alice In Chains. Casually listening to the music you probably couldn't tell it wasn't Layne. DuVall's performance on this album is the perfect compliment to Cantrell's songwriting. The reflective and cathartic nature of the lyrics depict the mournful mindset of this band at this point in time, sometimes with heartbreaking clarity. If you've ever been a fan of this band, you owe it to yourself and to them to give this album a listen.

Every song has a place on this album, and sounds like a perfect fit among the band's previous material. I will try to narrow down my recommendations, but do yourself the favor of listening to the complete recording.
My picks:
-All Secrets Known (First track- themed around a new beginning, without going back to the start. Sort of a mission statement for this album)
-Check My Brain (The first single, you can probably hear it now on your local radio station... great harmonies between William & Jerry, not to mention a classic AIC riff that sounds almost out of tune.)
-Last of My Kind (Maybe the heaviest song on this album. Great song to hear both similarities and uniqueness when comparing/contrasting DuVall and Layne Staley)
-Your Decision (An acoustic/clean guitar, mellow song. It does have a tone of melancholy, as do many songs on this album- hey, it's AIC!)
-When the Sun Rose Again (Another acoustic number. Pretty much like "Your Decision"...)
-Private Hell (All the elements of a classic AIC song, but one of their slow-tempo electric numbers. DuVall sings an echoing "Uh-huh" that weighs on your ears with heavy emotion.)
-Black Gives Way to Blue (A perfect closing track. The lyrics reflect on the sentiment surrounding Layne perhaps the most of any song here. Awesome guest appearance by Elton John on piano. Layne, we'll all remember you.... rest in peace.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

AC/DC-Back In Black

Post #72 Poll Winner: Favorite AC/DC album from the 80's
After suffering the loss of their original singer, Bon Scott, AC/DC came back with one of their greatest albums: Back In Black. Back In Black was a statement album. AC/DC showed the world that they were not done with rock n' roll. It was a new decade, they had a new singer, a new album, and a new mission to prove they could still rock.

After the first track on the album, Hells Bells, there was no need for any argument. Almost every track is a hard rock classic. Angus Young displays some of the best guitar work up to this point in the band's career. AC/DC rock as hard as ever and set themselves up for a new decade where the sky was the limit!

My favorites from Back In Black:
-Hells Bells
-Shoot to Thrill
-Back In Black
-Have a Drink on Me
and of course...
-You Shook Me All Night Long

Friday, October 2, 2009

...2 Years and Counting....

Post #71
Another year is in the books for this blog! I hope you've enjoyed reading the reviews I write. As always, I'm open to suggestions, so don't be shy when it comes to posting comments. I will try to keep up with new releases in rock & metal music as it comes out, but a little prodding might influence the direction of this blog, or even my taste & appreciation for different music artists.

My general plans for the future of this blog are pretty much the same. I think the routine I've established works well enough for me and my busy schedule. If there's something you think needs improvement, or you have a new idea of something you'd like to see or read about, again just let me know.

Here are some specific ideas/topics I'd like to review in the coming year:
1-More concert reviews. Weather its a show I've seen recently, or from several years ago, I enjoy the nostalgic revisiting of those events. Memories of those shows provide a great deal of specific music, emotions and events to be inspired by. I first started attending rock concerts in 1997, and I've seen my fair share of concerts over the years since then.

2-Little by little, I hope to finish reviewing the entire careers of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. I have only managed to cover the most recent work of these two heavy metal icons, and their level of influence in the genre merits an in-depth review. I'll probably work my way through this task in smaller segments, rather than one huge post spanning their whole career.

3-Catching up on the ever-growing list of "coming soon" topics. On this list you can see what I've been listening to lately, its just a matter of finding time to compose the reviews. I'll keep working on them, I promise! I do try to work from the top down, but I sometimes get on a good kick with a particular band or album & crank out the review much quicker.

Lastly let me ask all my readers to contact me with any poll ideas you may have. I'm trying keep on pace with the monthly polls, but new ideas are appreciated!