Sunday, September 26, 2010


Post #109
Ozzy Osbourne has had one of the longest running careers in Heavy Metal music. Over the years he has been fortunate to be a part of several legendary partnerships in music. He was a founding member of Black Sabbath along with Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and guitar legend Tony Iommi; resurrected his career as a solo artist with guitar legend Randy Rhoads; carried on his solo career after Rhoads' tragic death with the likes of Jake E Lee and Zakk Wylde. Now, 41 years after his debut with Black Sabbath, Ozzy finds himself in a new collaborating partnership, as Firewind guitarist Gus G hops onto Ozzy's never-ending crazy train of a career.

Earlier this year, Ozzy released his latest album, 'Scream', with massive and unique promotion. The track, 'Let me Hear You Scream', was featured in an episode of CSI. ( Ozzy himself helped attempt to set a Guiness World record for longest scream by an arena crowd (, and also promoted his album by joking with visitors of a wax museum while posing as an exhibit of himself (

Once all the hoopla was done and 'Scream' itself hit the streets, Ozzy's fans finally got to hear the beginning of the latest chapter of Ozzy's career. The buzz generated beforehand was enough to push it to #4 on the Billboard charts, making it the 7th top-ten album for Ozzy. Scream is deserving of this status as well, with songs that deliver all the key elements of a great Ozzy album: heavy riffs, a variety of tempos, great guitar soloing (thanks Gus!), a couple semi-biographical ballads, and even a bit of neo-classical inspiration can be heard.

I only wish Gus G had had a larger hand in the writing of this album . We'll have to wait for Ozzy's next album to hear his contributions in that respect. For the most part, this album was co-written by Ozzy Osbourne and his producer Kevin Churko (and Adam Wakeman on a few tracks), prior to Gus G's joining the band. Churko also received co-writing credit on Ozzy's previous album, Black Rain, perhaps explaining how the new album remains so consistent.

My top picks from SCREAM:
-Let It Die (a slow-tempo, heavy number. Classic Ozzy!)
-Let Me Hear You Scream (first single, and a real thrasher for Ozzy)
-Soul Sucker
-Life Won't Wait (One of the ballads, Ozzy hasn't lost his touch with this kind of number either)
-Diggin' Me Down (Here's my personal favorite! Melodic guitar intro brings back memories of Randy Rhoads' neo-classical days!)
-I Want It More

Saturday, September 18, 2010

AC/DC-Highway to Hell

Post #108 Poll Winner: Favorite AC/DC album from the 70's.

AC/DC, one of the preeminent influences of hard rock & heavy metal music, established themselves in the mid-70's. Taking a strong inspiration from early blues & rock and roll bands from the 50's and early 60's, and mixing it with the harder-edged sound of other early-70's era bands like Led Zeppelin and The Who, they quickly became a major force of 70's heavy metal.

With each album, their popularity grew. Within a couple years they were touring outside their native Australia, and had become a global phenomenon. Their music appealed to a whole generation of teens, who craved this old-school rock & roll with a dark side. Their singles became top hits on almost every continent.

They closed out the decade with their best album yet, 'Highway To Hell'. Though they were still a band on the rise, this would be their last album with Bon Scott as their singer. He tragically died in early 1980 at the age of 33 after passing out after a night of heavy drinking. The legacy he left behind is one of the most memorable in heavy-rock music. Your choice of Highway To Hell as your favorite AC/DC album from the 70's is further evidence of that legacy.

Now, here are my favorite tracks I recommend from this album:
-Highway To Hell
-Girls Got Rhythym
-Shot Down In Flames
-If You Want Blood (You've Got It!)
-Night Prowler

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Second Annual Myspace-Bands Poll

Post #107
In the world of online music and streaming mp3's websites like have become more than simply a way to get your music heard; they've become the standard for much of the music industry. Not only will you find your buddy's garage band from around the block with their own myspace-page, but every major recording artist now has at least a couple songs available for free sampling at

To celebrate the spirit of independent music, the Happy Headbanger's blog is once again featuring seven of these up-and-coming bands in a reader's poll. To allow you faithful readers sufficient time to hear a little of each of these bands, and decide on a favorite, this poll will have an extended voting window! Typically I utilize a 30-day polling window, but for this one you'll get no less than 45 days. Use them wisely!

Now here are your contestants
Female-fronted metal with lots of balls!
Check out the song "Amy"

Great heavy-metal with a thrash-hardcore vibe!
Check out "The Machine"

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
Post-grunge inspired alternative rock, with mainstream-friendly hooks.
Check out "Golden Age"

A great New York-based band blending a classic-metal sound with a bit of southern rock.
Check out "Truce"

A little melody, a bunch of hard-core riffs, and of course a little sleazy. These guys rock!
Check out "No Love Lost"

These guys can be intense with a furious metalcore edge, then lighten up to show a melodic side.
Check out "Save Me"

"Music for Bastards!"
Melodic hard rock, mixed with a bit of alternative metal, and catchy grooves in every song!
Check out "The Leap"

Keep in mind, the winner of this poll will get a full-length review within a few weeks of when the poll closes. Not to mention more exposure to the online community, and circulation of their myspace page!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Iron Maiden: The Final Frontier Tour (w/ Dream Theater) 7-18-10

Post #106
On July 18, 2010, I attended my first-ever Iron Maiden concert. Long overdue, I know, but better late than never, and well worth the wait! Here's my review of the show...
On a warm July afternoon I made my way to the First Midwest Bank Ampitheater once again to catch what promised to be a memorable heavy metal concert: Iron Maiden, with Dream Theater as the opening band. This was an excellent combination, I felt, since I'm also big fan of Dream Theater. I could not wait for the show to start.

I didn't have long to wait, as I barely made it to the venue before showtime. I had just found my section and was making my way to my seat when stage lights came on, and John Myung of Dream Theater emerged from the smoke that had filled the stage, playing one of his classic, melodic bass-guitar riffs. The song was 'As I Am', and Dream Theater's set was off to a powerful start!

For a band known for their epic-progressive, and very, very long songs I was a bit concerned that Dream Theater wouldn't get to play too many numbers as an opening act. I was pleasantly surprised, however, as it became apparent they were focusing on their heavier (and for the most part shorter songs). Admittedly, the thrashy side of Dream Theater has always been my favorite. They were able to squeeze in 6 selected songs, closing with their classic 'Pull Me Under'.

Then there was a bit of a break as the stage crew went to work preparing for Maiden. I took the opportunity to head out to the vendors, grab myself a tour T-shirt, a drink, and return to my seat. It also made for less waiting time. I was ready for Iron Maiden.
They opened their set with 'The Wicker Man' from their reunion album Brave New World. A great thrash number to get the crowd pumped off the bat. When the vocals kicked in, Bruce sprinted from the back-stage area, hurdled a row of monitors, and began belting out the song with such energy as I had rarely seen in any rock show! He was sporting a simple black T-shirt which read 'PSYCH WARD' across the front, and his energy continued as such for most of the show.
I was a little surprised how heavily Iron Maiden favored their newer material (i.e. since their reunion in 2000). They did play a few older tracks, but easily two-thirds of their set was selected from the albums Brave New World, Dance of Death, or A Matter of Life and Death. This was fine by me, as I've become a huge fan of these albums. I think Iron Maiden are arguably better now than they have ever been.
One of my favorite moments from the show was when Bruce took a few moments between songs to remember the late Ronnie James Dio. He shared a little story with us of a time he was on tour with Dio and heard him complaining about the song 'Rainbow In The Dark'. Ronnie had said that he hated that song, that he was sick of it. "Well, why do you play it all the time then?" asked Bruce. "Because the fans want to hear it." Dio replied simply. And that was what was always important to Ronnie James Dio, giving the fans what they wanted to hear. For a moment I wondered if they were going to play 'Rainbow in the Dark'. Though they did not, they did dedicated the next song to Ronnie, 'Blood Brothers'.

Maiden continued through a fantastic set, as I've mentioned focusing mainly on their newest 3 albums prior to The Final Frontier. A giant Eddie came out a stalked the stage during 'Iron Maiden', dueling with Janick Gers for a bit. Then when it seemed the show was over, they came back out for an encore, and played three of the greatest classics: 'The Number of the Beast', 'Hallowed Be Thy Name', and 'Running Free'.
The set list from this memorable night of heavy metal legends:
Dream Theater
-As I Am
-A Rite of Passage
-Constant Motion
-Panic Attack
-Pull Me Under

Iron Maiden
-The Wicker Man
-Ghost of the Navigator
-El Dorado (the only song from their new album, which had not yet been released.)
-Dance of Death
-The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
-These Colours Don't Run
-Blood Brothers
-Wildest Dreams
-No More Lies
-Brave New World
-Fear of the Dark
-Iron Maiden

-The Number of the Beast
-Hallowed Be Thy Name
-Running Free

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Bargain Hunter's Finds (Part 2, Creeping Death EP, Etc...)

Post #105
I'll take a moment here to re-focus on my primary means of reviewing so much essential heavy music: bargain hunting! I've said before that if it were not for inexpensive means of hearing music (online sampling via band-websites & online radio, redeeming coupons at major retailers, 2nd-hand music acquisitions like garage sales & used music retailers, and of course visiting the Audio-Visual section of my local library), I would not have the chance to hear much of the music I've already shared with you.

Now let me document a few of my recent finds, beginning with one that is a rare find indeed, for it is no longer in print: Metallica's early EP, 'Creeping Death' (which includes the original 'Garage Days Revisited' and the single for 'Jump In The Fire'). [$7.98 (+10% off) $7.18 final price]
What an excellent find this was! It is probably the only time I've ever even seen this recording in CD format, and now I'm lucky enough to own it. This item was found at one of the Half Price Books locations I frequent, as well as the next item...

Dream Theater-Greatest Hit (...and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) [2-disc compilation: $7.98 (+10% off) $7.18 final price]
This one I had already checked out from my library a couple times before I found it at Half Price Books. I was in no hurry to buy it right away, since I have all of Dream Theater's albums from which the songs are selected. However I should point out that 3 of the tracks are remixes (the 3 taken from the Images and Words album), and I wanted to have these alternate versions in my personal collection. Was it necessary for Dream Theater to remix these songs? That is perhaps up to the listener to decide. I, for one, appreciate the new mixes. They sound more crisp than the originals.

From Best Buy: Apocalyptica-7th Symphony [Special Edition w/ Live DVD, 2010] $14.99 + portion of $10 Reward Zone certificate: $6.65 final price!
With Apocalyptica, I've been a fan since their first CD, 'Plays Metallica by Four Cellos'. I've tried to keep up with each release over the years, so naturally I was looking to get this one as well. Having $10 worth of Best Buy Reward Zone coupons burning a hole in my email helped make it an easy decision.

From Half Price Books (during the 20% off Everything Labor Day Weekend sale)
Bloomingdale, IL location: Killswitch Engage-As Daylight Dies (Special Edition w/ bonus tracks and DVD w/ 3 videos & 'making of' documentaries, '07) [$9.98 -20% off = $7.98 final price]
Shadows Fall-Threads of Life ('07) [$7.98 -20% off = $6.38 final price]
Geoff Tate (Self-titled solo recording from lead singer of Queensryche, '02) [$5.98 -20% off = $4.78 final price]
Nevermore-dreaming Neon black ('99) [$5.98-20% off = $4.78 final price]

Palatine, IL location: Soundgarden-Louder Than Love ('89) [$5.98-20% off = $4.78 final price]
Unearth-Our Days of Eulogy ('04 w/ bonus disc of 9 other Eulogy Records recording artists) [$2.00 clearance -20% off = $1.60 final price]
Mushroomhead-Savior Sorrow ('06) [$2.00 clearance -20% off = $1.60 final price]
Machine Head-The Burning Red ('99) [$2.00 clearance -20% off = $1.60 final price]
Flyleaf (Self-titled debut '07) [$2.00 clearance -20% off = $1.60 final price]

To summarize this successful scavenging expedition, over the course of 2 weekends;
Total CD count: 13 (plus 1 bonus CD and 2 bonus DVDs)
Grand total: $56.11
Average cost per CD: $4.32

These are the kinds of deals I'm accustomed to finding. I admit that occasionally there is an essential new release that I will sometimes bring myself to spend $12-$15 on, so that I can have it to enjoy right away. However these cases are relatively few and far between for me. Over the course of the last couple years of reading other music-lovers' blogs, I've found a few who like to document their collection-building shopping sprees in a similar fashion as I just did. Often times, the amount of money they spend makes my budget-conscious mind cringe. Perhaps this will open their eyes to the kinds of bargains that are out there to be had.

For these purchases I didn't even need to utilize the internet, where great prices on music are often found from people selling their CDs second-hand. I simply browsed my local used-music retailers, and even there I'm always sure to peruse the clearance section. Also, I took advantage of rewards programs available at primary retailers. It's fun being rewarded for being a frequent shopper.

So go out there and find yourself some great heavy metal music, but also keep in mind that these kinds of bargains are probably easier to find than you think. It just takes a little dillegence and sometimes a bit of patience.