Friday, June 24, 2011

CELLOUT-Superstar Prototype

Post #148
Hailing from Sweden, melodic metal band Cellout have released their debut album, Superstar Prototype, on Nuerra Records. With their own style of melodic metal, they are making a conscious move away from the stereotype of most metal bands that hail from Sweeden, in that their vocal style intentionally avoids the more extreme screaming and shreiking style typically found with Sweedish death-metal.

Superstar Prototype is an album of pure melodic metal. Simple as that sounds, it is truly the best way to describe it. Their songs are built upon pure power-chord riffs. They excel at creating high-tempo grooves rather than showing off any flashy techniques. It's great music for pumping your fist to great grooves, and the choruses are quite catchy. Singer Percy Mejhagen had said they wanted to focus on melody with their vocal style, rather than screaming for the sake of screaming. Says Mejhagen, "I'm not comfortable screaming the way a metal singer 'should' scream. Instead... we let the guitars do all the screaming."

My only point of criticism would be in the lack of any prominent guitar solos. Granted this is perhaps a stylistic choice of the band itself, but from my personal point of view, I think it would bring Cellout's music to a higher level. But I will leave it at that and just say, to each his own. I know there is a following of metal fans out there who prefer the groove-style of metal and care not for over-the-top, excessive guitar soloing. For these fans, Cellout is a must-hear.

Regardless of my personal reservations, I still have several tracks to recommend from Superstar Prototype:
-Dark Days ( A heavy thrasher. First track of the albums shows their heavy side. Still, you can tell their music is melody-driven.)
-All My Demons Inside
-Flooded (One of the ballads of the album. Here you get a taste of the softer side of Cellout, and a better example of Percy's vocal range and talent as a singer.)
-Set Things Straight (Brutally heavy while still infused with soft vocal melodies.)
-Blow (Another softer tune, not quite as much so as Flooded, but still catchy.)

This CD  is available from Nuerra Records

Monday, June 20, 2011

System Of A Down (Full Review)

Post #147 [Poll winner: Which is not a topping on System of a Down's pizza?]
For those who voted in the reader's poll regarding System of a Down's choice of pizza-toppings, you need only listen to the song 'Chic N' Stu' to discover they like... 'pepperoni, and green peppers, mushrooms, olives, chives!' That means the correct answer for the poll question was actually 'sausage'! Hope you had fun with that poll last month. Now for more about System of a Down...

System Of A Down came onto the heavy metal scene in 1998 with their self-titled debut album and quickly revolutionized the scene with their genre-defying sound and style. With all the members being of Armenian descent, their lyrics are charged with strong political themes that reflect their unique perspective on a number of issues. Their outspoken, thought-provoking, and emotional social commentary would quickly become a trademark of theirs, and continued to grow with each release.

On their first album, SOAD quickly exhibited an array of songs that showcased their unique style and techniques. Serj Tankian's vocals are very extreme & hard-core in places, with prominent screams and guttural growls that approach the likes of death-metal vocal styles. They would migrate away form this vocal style in the coming years.

In 2001 System of a Down released their 2nd album, Toxicity. This album proved to be a true break-through effort for System. Several songs that featured prominent melodic passages became huge hits. Don't be fooled though, these songs still contained extreme elements as well. System of a Down were becoming more adept at fusing the popular and melodic elements of hard rock with the hard-edged and more extreme elements of metal, all the while managing to sound exactly like neither of those genres!

With their surge in popularity following the Toxicity album, their fan-base became strongly devoted to following their every move, and stalking the web for any hint of new music from them. Rumors of unreleased tracks from the Toxicity recording sessions sparked obsessive fans to pirate and share any such tracks if they got leaked.

Then in 2002, to put an end to the illegal downloading, while at the same time pleasing many fans, the band gave in and released the tracks as their 3rd full-length album, Steal This Album! The title was a bit of a joke as well, reflecting the fact that many fans had, in fact, stolen the tracks already. However, this final product was more polished and refined than the versions that had been leaked. Several of the songs that were released as singles also became big hits.

In 2005, System of a Down gave us what has to be regarded as their masterpiece (at least to this point of their career), a double-album, released in two parts: Mezmerize was released in the spring, and Hypnotize in the fall of the same year. The packaging of these 2 albums was even designed to compliment each other, as Mezmerize contained a flap that could be inserted into the side flap of Hypnotize, making a double-CD folding case. The art work on the discs and inserts was also complimentary.

Stylistically, these last two albums by System of a Down show even more of the band's talent as musicians. Some tracks, like B.Y.O.B. exhibit the extreme side of their potential, with plenty of screams and brutally heavy riffs. Other tracks, like Lonely Day, are so soft and melodic that you may wonder if they are performed by the same band. And of course you have many numbers like Question! which switch it up between soft melodies and harsh screaming so suddenly you might think they are trying to do too much, but remarkably, SOAD make these elements work.

It is this uncanny ability to effortlessly fuse some of the most extreme styles of metal with the most catchy and pretty elements of pop-rock that make System of a Down practically incomparable in the metal scene. It has been 6 long years since they last recorded an album together. I think if they do decide to return to the studio at some point and make some fresh tunes again, we would be just as impressed as before. I still believe they are a band with unlimited potential.

For my recommended tracks from System of a Down, I'll give you the track-list for my personal mix CD; 'How Do You Own Disorder? -The Best of System Of A Down'
-Suite Pee
-Prison Song
-Soldier Side-Intro
-Deer Dance
-Chop Suey!
-Chic N' Stu
-Holy Mountains
-Sad Statue
-Lonely Day
-Soldier Side

(compiled on 4-21-06 by the Happy Headbanger)
Color-coded album reference:
System Of A Down, Toxicity, Steal This Album!, Mezmerize, Hypnotize

Friday, June 17, 2011

The American Carnage Tour (2010), Part I: VIP Meet-N-Greet with Megadeth!

Post # 146

The American Carnage Tour that took place in 2010 was perhaps the greatest gathering of thrash-metal veterans on one tour since 1992's Clash of the Titans. Testament, Megadeth, and Slayer had metal-head audiences at their mercy on this tour. Aside from the handful of festival appearances of The Big Four (Metallica-Slayer-Megadeth-Anthrax), shows on this tour have been the only ones to feature as many thrash metal pioneers on the same stage. And this tour hit several major cities across the North American continent as opposed to a few select appearances.
It took a lot of effort and persistence to pull this tour off. Already it was a follow-up to the Canadian Carnage Tour, which featured the same bands. However, shortly before the scheduled start of the tour, Slayer announced that their singer/bassist, Tom Araya, needed to have back surgery, and the tour was canceled. Much apology was issued to ticket-holders from all the bands involved, and a rescheduling was promised.

Several months passed, during which Megadeth and Testament scheduled their own co-headlining tour and added fellow Bay-area thrash veterans Exodus as an opening act. This was Megadeth's 20th anniversary tour for the Rust In Peace landmark album. In honor of RIP, they performed the entire album, plus a few more Megadeth classics. Testament took the opportunity to feature their complete The Legacy album in their set as well.

After Araya had recovered from back surgery, a rescheduled American Carnage tour was announced. I was lucky enough to be among those who had tickets for the original original tour, thanks to my beautiful wife and her mom, who went in together to get these tickets for me as a gift. The tour promoters were true to their word, and after refunding the old tickets, and reissuing new ones, I was all set for the show. But the most amazing thing that had me in total shock was the fact that they were VIP tickets with an opportunity to meet MEGADETH! For this opportunity, I will be forever indebted to my wife, for it is truely a once-in-a-lifetime type of opportunity!

For those of you who've been reading this blog from the beginning, you know how devoted I have been to Megadeth as a fan. I've reviewed all of their studio albums on this blog and intend to add some reviews of their live material soon. Megadeth, and Dave Mustaine in particular, have always been atop my list of heavy metal musicians I idolize. The chance to meet them in person was honestly like a dream come true for me. I couldn't wait for the show (though I had already been waiting for almost half a year!)

When the day of the show finally arrived, I made my way to the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, IL, and made sure I was plenty early. I got in line with the other die-hards who also had VIP tickets and were anxiously awaiting their chance to meet their heroes of heavy metal. Always excited to converse with other like-minded fans, I struck up conversations with everyone who was in line close to me. We all discussed our favorite Megadeth songs, albums, band members, etc, as we waited for them to open the doors to the Pavilion.

Having nearly an hour of time to kill, I got to be pretty good friends with several of these strangers who were waiting in line. I met people from other Chicago suburbs and downtown. Others had travelled great distances for this opportunity to meet the band; from places as exotic as Mexico, Peru, and (get this) Egypt! Whatever our cultural differences may have been, we were united on this day by our fanaticism for heavy metal in general, and for Megadeth in particular!

At last the doors opened and our event coordinator from 'I Love All Access' gathered us together, checked our tickets, and explained how the meet-&-greet was going to work. After the plan of events was drawn out, we proceded to the 2nd level private sky-boxes where drinks, snacks, and air-conditioned comfort awaited us. There was Megadeth music playing to set the mood, and we were minutes away from meeting the band!

The hostess handed out our merch bags (everybody got a special back-stage pass, a Megadeth dog-tag, Megadeth skull-cap, and long-sleeve Megadeth shirt). We were told to help ourselves to drinks and snacks, all on the house. After a few minutes of mingling, we were told to get ready, line up, and get out our chosen item for autographing. So I get in the back of the line, only to realize we were facing the wrong direction, and from behind me I hear the hostess say, 'Here they are! Megadeth!'

So there I was, unexpectedly first-in-line, with merely a few seconds to gather my thoughts and try to think of something un-stupid to say to the living legends I idolized standing right in front of me. First up was David Ellefson. What to say? "Hey Dave. How's it feel to be back?" (David Ellefson had only returned to the band prior to this rescheduled tour. In fact, if it had gone through when originally scheduled, I might not have met Ellefson, but James Lomenzo instead! Perhaps this is some manifestation of fate?) In response, he kinda smiled and nodded and said, "Feels good!" Okay, nothing too spectacular I admit, but I was there, and I got to shake his hand! Then I hand him my item to autograph: a limited, promo edition of Rust In Peace in a coffin-shaped box with a pop-up Vic Ratlhead inside. Dave says, "This is pretty cool!", signs it & passes it back.

Next: Shawn Drover, the drummer. Hand shake. Sign the little coffin. Pass it back. "Hey dude" is said back & forth between us. Then it's Chris Broderick, lead guitarist. Repeat formalities. Then I step back, feeling like I should say something more substantial to these guys. I say, "Shawn, Chris, I've been a fan for years, but I really like how you guys fit in the band. You keep things really tight." (This is true, you can see my old reviews of Megadeth on this blog & see how I've praised Megadeth's newer material.) They both respond with a smile and a 'thank-you'.

Now, I am merely inches from Dave Mustaine. I'm star-struck to silence, but force myself to get past it. "You're.... You're YOU!" I say, lamely. I pause a second to realize how that must have sounded, shake my head and look down at my hands, which are holding the aforementioned RIP-coffin-case, and in my other hand a brand-new copy of Dave's autobiography, 'Mustaine'. Within a second or two my mind debates trying to beg for him to sign 2 items, but the rules we were given specifically said only one item could be signed. So, making a split-second decision, I hand over the RIP-coffin, wanting to complete the set of the whole bands' signatures, and hope that I may get another chance for Dave to sign the book some other day.

Dave takes the little coffin, turns it over in his hands and looks me in the eye and says, "Wow. You know, these are really rare." Then he signs it. Hands it back. At this point Chris Broderick actually leans in and asks Dave what the coffin-shaped box actually is. Mustaine explains that it was a limited run that was distributed mainly to critics & promoters, and that there aren't that many around. How lucky I am to have such an item, and have it signed by the band, no less, does not escape me. I say thanks and shake his hand, and immediately thank him again for having the band do this whole 'meet-n-greet' in the first place.

Then I remember a clever question I had (or so I thought), and ask him if it's true that he named the Gigantour Tour after the anime entitled Gigantor. He says, "Yeah. Yeah, I did." Taking a shot in the dark, I asked him if by chance he still follows any anime (Japanese animation. I'm actually a big fan of it myself). He just looked back at me and said something to the effect that he's too old for that stuff now.

At this point I began to feel self-conscious of having been the first-in-line. I realized that everyone else was waiting impatiently for their chance to meet and converse with Megadeth, so I almost walked away without getting my photo taken with the band (included with the VIP packcage.) The event coordinator grabs my arm and says, "Hey, don't you want your picture?" Of course I did! So I walk back to the band, Dave Mustaine puts his arm around my shoulder, the other band members pose in a line, and 'CLICK!', the photo is snapped... right as one of the caterers walks right in front of the camera.

"Hey man, what the hell are you doing?" Dave shouts at the guy. So we repeat the photo. I guess I was lucky that they took the time to take a second photo. It would have sucked if my pic with Megadeth was just a guy in a catering uniform blurred while the band and I are obscured in the background. So, in the end, I got my photo just fine:
Then I hung around and watched the other fans file through the line, getting various memorabilia signed. Vinyl LPs, CDs, posters, T-shirts. One guy even had a VMNT guitar (Dave Mustaine's signature model from Dean Guitars)! My new friend from Egypt came over after he got through the line and we talked some more. Since we were both at this event by ourselves, we agreed to stick together throughout the show. (Mosh-pit buddy-system you know, have to have some one looking out for you, and someone to look out for.)

We're still in touch to this day. We had a great time at the concert. But those details I'll save for another post...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Losing Scarlet: CD release & acoustic set.

Post #145
On March 12th, 2011, Losing Scarlet performed an acoustic set at Best Buy in Mundelein, IL to celebrate the release of their new album, Learning To Bleed. I was able to catch this performance, and got to hear Losing Scarlet play some of their best songs unplugged. It was a great afternoon of live music!

It was really cool to be able to hang out with the band again; it has been over a year since the last time I saw them. In that time they've been polishing up their new songs, which sounded great pouring out of several display-model stereos throughout the store! I'll have a review of the new album coming soon, but for now I'll share the experience of their CD-release show.

Playing to over 20 of the LS faithful, plus the regular weekend clientele of Best Buy, Losing Scarlet broke out their acoustic guitar, bass, and bongos to deliver a great set with a bit of a different flavor than they usually provide. However, their music's formula translates well on acoustic.

They opened their set with one of their new songs, 'Inclusions', a great song about asserting one's independence. They followed it with another new one, 'Dick Whiskey', for which they also have a video on their youtube page. Next they gave us all a twist with a new cover-song, 'Zombie', originally done by The Cranberries in the mid-90's. Jodi Kell's voice is a good match for that song, and they did the song justice. The rest of their set was dedicated to songs from their 1st CD, which have become fan-favorites to their regular following by this point.

I hung around for a bit after their set, enough to catch up with the band members and get a signed poster. It was good to see these guys again, and reassuring to hear them perform so well. As I mentioned, it had been too long since I saw them last. They're playing many shows this summer. Don't miss your chance to catch them. Click the photo to get to their website, and watch for their next show.

Here is their complete set for the CD-release show:


-Dick Whiskey


-Left to Burn

-Die With Us

-Feel the Pain

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Heavy Metal 107's new banner, by TraynArt Graphic Design!

Post #144
Just recently I uploaded a new, fancy, full-color banner for this blog. It is a concept I've had in mind for years now, and thanks to a friend of mine who is a graphic designer, it has been brought to life. I couldn't have envisioned it any better! I hope you enjoy seeing it atop this blog as much as I do. I need to take a moment to express my gratitude for his fine work. Thanks so much, Andy! If you're looking for someone to do graphics for one of your own blogs or websites, feel free to contact him here:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

DEADMANSWAKE @ Brauerhouse in Lombard, IL

Post #143
Hey people! DEADMANSWAKE are playing another killer set this Friday, June 10th.

This time they'll be at the Brauerhouse in Lombard, IL. If you can get there you won't be disappointed. They go on after midnight, about 12:30, however the full show begins at 9pm.

Also appearing, Beneath the Stares among others...

Contact the band at for further info!