Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Apology For The Holidays

So I have been slacking. First it was projects then it was finals. Now it is Christmas and I am off on adventures. Tomorrow I leave on a 4 day cruise for the Bahamas, then I am back in Orlando for 2 days and then back to my parentals place for the Christmas weekend. So although I wanted to get another article out (I have done nothing in over a week, sorry no Guns N' Roses articles) I didn't. When I get back to society on the 29th I will try to bang a few out, but no promises. The lack of school really makes my drive for articles go away. It's odd really...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

IGN Lists The Top 10 Doom Metal Bands

Ok, yet again to "borrow" information from MetalMartyr.com, I present to you IGN's The Top 10 Doom Metal Bands. After checking out the article on MM and reading through IGN's List, I began to leave a comment on the article at MM, and 20 minutes later I had several paragraphs written. So I decided to cop-out and use this for my own needs. Sorry MetalMartyr but we all help out each other right? (I hope so anyway).

Now, I am a fan of this genre, but even I can't listen to it all the time. It's too moody. I have to either be in a really good mood or a really bad one in order to stand more than one song.
This list on IGN is decent, and it does highlight some of the genre's greats, but then overlaps them with bands who have only one or two doom albums, or who mash genres together which really doesn't make it "Doom" anymore.

Their list in no order (I hope):
  1. Saint Vitus - Classic, well deserved. They are one of the "Big Three (or Four depending on who is listing)" of doom metal, along with Pentagram, Candlemass (and Trouble as the fourth). I am happy to say that all of these made this list. Album of note: debut album Saint Vitus
  2. Trouble - A surprise, but 100% right on. Trouble is most times looked over when lists are compiled, this gives me a little more confidence in this reviewers abilities. An odd thing about this group is that most of their songs have a highly Christian influence, not normally seen in Doom. Albums of note: Psalm 9 and The Skull.
  3. Candlemass - One of my favorites. Single handedly began "Epic Doom Metal." I love the lead singer's voice on their first albums (even though it is two different people, you can barely tell). Albums of note: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus and Nightfall
  4. Witchfinder General - Another of the founders. Don't know much about these guys because I can't find any of their albums anywhere.
  5. Type O Negative - Now, Type O Negative is one of my favorite bands, but they aren't exactly doom metal. They only released one straight forward doom album (World Coming Down), dealing with drugs and death. They are more sludge metal, which is a crossover of Doom and Hardcore Punk. If you were going to count Sludge Metal on the list, there are a number of bands that are more influential than Type O Negative (Eyehategod and Crowbar off the top of my head). Albums of note: Bloody Kisses and Dead Again
  6. Paradise Lost - Not a good choice. They originally were Death Metal, then Death/Doom for 2 albums, then Gothic rock and now they are Synth-rock/metal. They never really were in the Doom category, and nothing they did was that special.
  7. Earth - Alright I'll give you this one, Earth is Drone Metal, which is a super-super-slowed version of Doom. One which focuses on minimalistics, which is a type of music (within all genres, it's big in classical) that is characterized as having almost no key signature, so things seem to happen randomly without warning. I can't stand it, but it does qualify, I guess...
  8. Sleep - Another crossover; Stoner Doom. Again not my favorite sub-genre, but it qualifies as Doom. Like Earth, Sleep focuses on epicly long songs, with one song being the entire album, clocking in at over an hour long (Dopesmoker). It is way to trippy and out there for me to enjoy. But if you were high it might add a little something.
  9. Pentagram - Another classic. Made the jump from straight-forward heavy metal to doom, and was one of the first to do so. A must have for any Doom List. Album of note: Day of Reckoning.
  10. My Dying Bride - Death/Doom, which with my experience it falls more into Death than Doom, but I haven't listened to alot of their stuff. I am not a fan.
So, while the IGN list isn't a bad one, there are some bands that I feel should not be included. If you are making exceptions for cross genres like Death/Doom or Sludge Metal, than you need to include better ones to it.
Thanks to MetalMartyr.com

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rant: 20 Cover Songs That Are Better Than The Original

So there are alot of covers out there. Most of them are utter shit. Either they are direct copies of the originals, or they try to put a creative spin on them that send down the spiral of hell. However, every so often a truly great cover comes along, a song that is so awesome that I cannot enjoy the original song nearly as much as I did before. Some of these are great songs covered by great bands, and some are crappy songs made great. This is my list of those songs:
  1. Bruce Dickinson with Godspeed - "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" - Originally by Black Sabbath
  2. Demons & Wizards - "Immigrant Song" - Originally by Led Zeppelin
  3. Dope - "You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)" - Originally by Dead or Alive
  4. Eric Clapton - "Cocaine" - Originally by J.J. Cale
  5. Eric Clapton - "I Shot The Sheriff" - Originally by Bob Marley
  6. Foo Fighters - "Darling Nikki" - Originally by Prince
  7. Gary Jules - "Mad World" - Originally by Tears For Fears
  8. Guns N' Roses - "Hair of The Dog" - Originally by Nazareth
  9. Guns N' Roses - "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" - Originally by Bob Dylan
  10. Guns N' Roses - "Sympathy For The Devil" - Originally by The Rolling Stones
  11. GWAR - "School's Out" - Originally by Alice Cooper
  12. Helloween - "Hocus Pocus" - Originally by Focus
  13. Iced Earth - "Shooting Star" - Originally by Bad Company
  14. Iced Earth - "Transylvania" - Originally by Iron Maiden
  15. Jimi Hendrix - "All Along The Watchtower" - Originally by Bob Dylan
  16. Johnny Cash - Hurt" - Originally by Nine Inch Nails
  17. Metallica - "Sabbra Cadabra" (With "A National Acrobat" mixed in the middle) - Originally by Black Sabbath
  18. Tesla - "Signs" - Originally by Five Man Electrical Band
  19. Type O Negative - "Hey Pete" - Originally "Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix
  20. Ugly Kid Joe - "Cat's In The Cradle" - Originally by Harry Chapin

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Band: Black Tide

I love finding new music, and I love even more to find new bands. Some people may have heard of Black Tide at this point, they had a very successful Ozzfest tour in 2007 (which I went to) and have their album, Light From Above, out for 9 months now, so they are growing in popularity and known.

Now, not to brag (lies) but I found these guys before all that. Months before the start of the Ozzfest tour, when I decided to go, I went and researched all the bands performing (because that's what kind of music geek I am), to find those that I know I'll hate (the screamers) and try to learn some of the music of the groups that aren't bad. This is how I found Black Tide. At the time they didn't have any album out, and not even an EP per se, they just had their MySpace. I listened to said MySpace, liked what I heard and added them as a friend (I no longer have a MySpace because I would like a job one day), to keep updated.
Time passed, and I forgot about these small-time artists who had a lucky break. Later, while I was on MySpace one day I saw a bulletin from them that caught my eye. Apparently, because all of this band's members were under the age of 21 (I think the oldest was 18 at the time) they were being kicked off the tour. See, the second stage (where these guys were opening) was hosted by J├Ągermeister, and they had a problem with a bunch of underage kids playing on their stage. So they were off the tour, and a little pissed (as would be expected).
About a week passed and I saw another bulletin, a 180 on the previous one. It seems that Ozzy, the man himself (with probably a push from his wife), thought that what was happening to these guys was crap. So he decided to bump the band up to opening for the mainstage, a honor usually held by those bands who have been around for over a decade. So Black Tide jumped from being a no-body band that most people would miss (I rarely make it in time for the first band, especially for Ozzfest), to the openers for the mainstay of metal.
So they went on to play a great show (I guess, I really don't remember, with 14 hours of metal, it all seems to blur together. But they weren't bad, I would have remembered that), and released their debut album shortly after. The album did alright, breaking the Billboard Top 100, landing at 73, not to shabby for a debut band and album within the metal community.

I have the album (obviously) and I think that it is great. They do a cover of Metallica's "Hit The Lights" and don't suck at it. As I was listening to it, it struck me that they are a mix of the golden-age Thrash, reminiscent of Metallica, and NWOBHM, with Judas Priest-esq vocals and lyrics. My favorite song, by far, is "Warriors of Time." It's a simply-lyric'd song, with only one real verse and alot of guitar-work, but it keeps me enthralled, and my the hair on the back of my neck prickles every time I get to their haunting voices chanting "We are the warriors, the warriors, the warriors of time!" This disc is a must have for anyone who enjoyed the days of Iron Maiden but wants a little more of a kick.


Black Tide - Light From Above

  1. "Shockwave" - 3:38
  2. "Shout" - 3:26
  3. "Warriors of Time" - 5:53
  4. "Give Me a Chance" - 3:34
  5. "Let Me" - 3:30
  6. "Show Me the Way" - 3:59
  7. "Enterprise" - 4:31
  8. "Live Fast Die Young" - 3:01
  9. "Hit the Lights" (Metallica Cover) - 3:42
  10. "Black Abyss" - 4:06
  11. "Light From Above" - 5:46
  12. "Black Widow" (UK Bonus Track) - 3:48
  13. "Again" (iTunes Bonus Track) - 3:18
  14. "Rise" (Hot Topic Bonus Track) - 2:46

Monday, December 1, 2008

Albums Listened To In November

Another month is done, and with it comes my list of albums listened to. This month started out very bright, with over 25 albums listened to in the first two weeks, I thought I would do better than October (50 albums), but within the end of November, the numbers started to slack. To many bands, not enough time. Plus my epic playlist took up some of the time.
Only 40 albums this month (not counting my Epic Playlist)

My favorite newly listened album of the month: Paint By Number by 3. I really enjoyed the mix of traditional Progressive Rock and Funk Rock. It completely switches feel after the first three songs. It was unexpected and I loved it! Favorite song: You Call Me Baby
Honorable Mention: The Honeydrippers - The Honeydrippers: Volume One. A surprise find of some of rock's greatest performers playing covers of songs from the 40's and 50's.

My least favorite newly listened album of the month: Hopkins (The Whitchfinder General) by Cathedral. After hearing this band's first few albums I could not wait to get to the rest, but this EP really let me down. The band goes from it's doom/heavy sound to more of a psychedelic/rock overhaul. Not one song stood out to me in any way.
Dis-honorable mention: Folkearth - Father of Victory. Disliked the band considerably, will probably never listen to them again. May not be a bad albums, but it is a bad band to me.
  1. My Epic Playlist In It's Entirety!!
  2. 3 - The End Is Begun - Newly Listened!
  3. 3 - Paint By Number - Newly Listened!
  4. 3 - Summercamp Nightmare - Newly Listened!
  5. AC/DC - The Razor's Edge
  6. The Answer - Rise - Newly Listened! - See My Take
  7. The Beatles - Revolver - Newly Listened!
  8. Billy Joel - 52nd Street - Newly Listened!
  9. Billy Joel - An Innocent Man - Newly Listened!
  10. Billy Joel - The Bridge - Newly Listened!
  11. Billy Joel - Cold Springs Harbor - Newly Listened!
  12. Billy Joel - The Nylon Curtain - Newly Listened!
  13. Billy Joel - Piano Man - Newly Listened!
  14. Billy Joel - Songs In The Attic (Live) - Newly Listened!
  15. Billy Joel - The Stranger - Newly Listened!
  16. Billy Joel - Turnstiles - Newly Listened!
  17. Cathedral - Hopkins (The Whitchfinder General) - Newly Listened!
  18. Clutch - Jam Room
  19. Dream Evil - Evilized
  20. Dream Theater - Scenes From A Memory - See My Take
  21. Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos
  22. Fates Warning - Disconnected - Newly Listened!
  23. Firebird - Firebird
  24. Folkearth - Father of Victory - Newly Listened!
  25. Guns N' Roses - GN'R Lies
  26. Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction
  27. HammerFall - Renegade - Newly Listened!
  28. The Honeydrippers - The Honeydrippers: Volume One - Newly Listened!
  29. Kiuas - The New Dark Age
  30. Kiuas - Reformation
  31. Kiuas - Spirit of Ukko
  32. Mushroomhead - XIII
  33. Mushroomhead - Savior Sorrow
  34. OSI - Office of Strategic Influence - Newly Listened!
  35. Queensr├┐che - Empire
  36. Regina Spektor - 11:11 - Newly Listened!
  37. Reel Big Fish & Zolof The Rock & Roll Destroyer - Duet All Night Long - Newly Listened!
  38. Spock's Beard - Day For Night - Newly Listened!
  39. Spock's Beard - Spock's Beard - Newly Listened!
  40. Sturm Und Drang - Learning To Rock
  41. Transatlantic - SMPT:e - Newly Listened!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A GNR Retrospective: Beginnings To Appetite For Destruction

Formation And Discovery

Guns N' Roses was formed in Los Angeles, California in March 1985 by Hollywood Rose vocalist Axl Rose and L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns. Rose recruited Hollywood Rose's rhythm guitarist, Izzy Stradlin, to join the band, and Guns recruited former L.A. Guns members Ole Beich and Rob Gardner for bass guitar and drums respectively. Soon after the formation, Beich was replaced by Duff McKagan, and guitarist Slash and drummer Steven Adler filled in for Guns and Gardner, after they failed to show up at a concert the band was to perform. In early 1986 Slash and Adler became full time members of the band after Guns and Gardner were fired for not appearing at several of the band's performances. The name Guns N' Roses was derived from a combination of the two bands that they were formed from.
After witnessing a Guns N' Roses show at the Troubadour, Tom Zutaut, a Geffen Records A&R executive, falsely warned other scouts "they suck" so he could have more time and leeway to sign them. Axl Rose demanded, and received, a $75,000 advance from Zutaut before revealing that he had promised an A&R executive from Chrysalis that the band would sign with her if she walked naked down Sunset Boulevard. For three days, Zutaut nervously watched from his office window for a naked A&R executive before he could close the deal. Alan Niven was subsequently hired as the band's manager, and the team set out to record the band's full-length debut album.

Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide

Before the first full album was ready Geffen decided to release an EP to keep the interest in the band that had to disappear from the club scene to work on the album. For this purpose an "independent label" Uzi Suicide Records was created by Geffen and on December 16 1986, a four song EP entitled Live ?!*@ Like A Suicide was released.
Designed to gauge public opinion of the band outside of Los Angeles, the record contained covers of Rose Tattoo's "Nice Boys" and Aerosmith's "Mama Kin", along with two original compositions: the punk anthem "Reckless Life" and the classic rock inspired "Move to the City", both of which were co-written by Hollywood Rose's founding member Chris Weber. Despite having the look and sound of a live album, band members have admitted that the tracks were actually studio recordings with a live audience overdubbed.
Only 10,000 vinyl copies of the album were produced, and even though the tracks were re-issued verbatim two years later as part of the GN'R Lies EP, the original Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide has been a valuable and sought after collector's item among fans since the late 1980s.

Appetite For Destruction

The band's first album, Appetite For Destruction, was released on July 21, 1987. In the US, "Welcome to the Jungle" was issued as its first single with an accompanying music video. Initially, the album and single did not perform well, but when Geffen Records founder David Geffen was asked to lend support to the band, he obliged by personally convincing MTV executives to play "Welcome to the Jungle" during their after hours rotation. Even though the video was initially only played one time at 4 a.m. on a Sunday, rock and punk fans took notice and soon began requesting the video and song.
Overseas, countries were often treated to material that never saw release to the US market, and went unexposed to US fans. The original UK "Welcome to the Jungle" single was backed with a performance of AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie" and a 12-inch single included live renditions of "It's So Easy" and the Bob Dylan classic "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (which would later be covered by the band in the studio on Use Your Illusion II). In Japan, an entire self-titled EP was issued, containing the album version of "Sweet Child o' Mine" and most of the Marquee Club recordings.
The album underwent an artwork change after the original Robert Williams cover design (a surrealist scene in which a dagger-toothed monster vengefully attacks a robot rapist) spawned complaints from religious groups and caused some record stores to brown bag, obscure, or refuse to sell the album. The revised cover was gleaned from a tattoo that Axl Rose had recently commissioned featuring skeleton faces of the five musicians arranged on a cross. Rose later insisted that the Gold and Platinum plaques issued by the RIAA be set using the original cover. The artwork from the original cover can be found in the booklet of the CD release.
"Sweet Child o' Mine" was the album's second US single co-written by Axl Rose as a poem for his girlfriend and future wife, Erin Everly. Due to the growing grassroots success of the band and the cross-gender appeal of the tune, the song and its accompanying music video received heavy airplay on both radio and MTV, and became a smash hit during the summer of 1988. "Welcome to the Jungle" was then re-issued as a single, with new pressings of records and tapes and new artwork. The UK re-release was backed with an acoustic version of "You're Crazy", recorded much earlier than the one featured on the G N' R Lies EP.
By the time "Paradise City" and its video reached the airwaves, the band's touring success and fame had catapulted the album to #1 on the Billboard charts. "Welcome to the Jungle", "Sweet Child o' Mine" and "Paradise City" were all top ten singles in the U.S. To date, Appetite for Destruction has sold over 26 million copies.

--------------------------------------

GN'R Lies

The album "GN'R Lies," is a re-issue of their debut EP "Live ?!*@ Like A Suicide" and an unreleased acoustic EP, released after the success of "Appetite For Destruction." It is a good first effort by the band. The "live" songs (they all turned out to be made live in the studio), "Reckless Life," "Nice Boys," "Move To The City," and "Mama Kin," all show the ferocity that GN'R was known for at the time. The second half of the disc houses some of my favorites, "Patience," the tongue-in-cheek "Used To Love Her," "You're Crazy," and "One In A Million." These latter tracks show off the bands musical ability, which would become more prevalent in their later albums, the "Use Your Illusion" double disc.

  1. "Reckless Life" – 3:21

  2. "Nice Boys" (Rose Tattoo Cover) – 3:04

  3. "Move to the City" – 3:43

  4. "Mama Kin" (Aerosmith Cover) – 3:57

  5. "Patience" – 5:56

  6. "Used to Love Her" – 3:13

  7. "You're Crazy" – 4:10

  8. "One in a Million" – 6:09


Appetite For Destruction

Appetite For Destruction is GN'R's claim to fame. It houses more of their hits than any other record, and was a seminal debut full-length album for the band. It catapulted them into stardom, which only ended when they did. With their mega hits, "Welcome To The Jungle," "Paradise City," and "Sweet Child o' Mine," this album was a best seller and is one of my favorites to this day. I love the songs (which weren't ever made into singles) "Mr. Brownstone," and "It's So Easy," as they highlight different aspects of the band, and pave the way to their greatness.

  1. "Welcome To The Jungle" - 4:34

  2. "It's So Easy" - 3:22

  3. "Nightrain" - 4:28

  4. "Out Ta Get Me" - 4:23

  5. "Mr. Brownstone" - 3:48

  6. "Paradise City" - 6:46

  7. "My Michelle" - 3:39

  8. "Think About You" - 3:51

  9. "Sweet Child o' Mine" - 5:56

  10. "You're Crazy" - 3:17

  11. "Anything Goes" - 3:26

  12. "Rocket Queen" - 6:13

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Homework

So I will be headed home on Wednesday for the Holiday and back to my life in Orlando on Sunday. This whole time I will be away from a decent computer and my extensive library. How will I cope? By giving myself homework. Because I will be away from my lair, I won't be able to update this site for about a week. But, when I get back I intend to have some new articles prepared:

With the release of the new Guns N' Roses album (which I have obtained), I will be listening to their entire discography (beginning back when there was a soul in the band) from the first album/ep, Gn'R Lies (which, although their second album, is actually a reprint of their two first ep's together), to their cover album, "The Spaghetti Incident". After this retrospective, I will review their newest album, flaws (or greatness, I don't pre-judge) and all.

I also am playing around with the ideas of paying homage to two of my rising stars in power metal; Kiuas and Dream Evil. I almost always listen to them back-to-back so it seems fitting to write them in the same fashion.

And because I will not be on campus at all this week, I cannot hit-up the CD shop, for my "New Album of The Week" bit, so I will have to find a substitute around my parent's place. I really don't want to go to a conglomerate such as Best Buy, but I don't know of any smaller places around. I'll have to have some of my old friends help me out.

So that is my self-applied homework for this upcoming week. Let's see if I actually get around to doing any of it. I really want to do the "GNR: Retrospective" stuff. So I will prob do that first.
I have some free time tomorrow between a job interview and work, and a little free time Wednesday morning before I leave, so I will try to get one more article up. I'd hate to leave for a week and just have this up...

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Band: Sound And Fury

I've decided that I don't actually buy albums that often any more. I either trade or "acquire" them from various contacts. So, in order to feel better about myself, and to give back to the community (I believe the first one more), I have decided to try and buy a new CD every week at the store on my College Campus.

This week my acquisition, was the debut, self-titled album, by Sound And Fury. Now, at the store where I go, they have a "Metal Pick of The Month" section, where you can listen to the albums, which I always give a quick run-by. Normally it is fulled with genres like death/black metal, or something with -core in the name, but occasionally it can be good for a find. I saw the Sound And Fury albums, and the artwork really stood out to me, it is bitchin'. It's a mob of people with skulls for heads. That's it, but it is really neat to look at. At the station I listened to part of the first track, and should have listened a little harder, but I was with someone and didn't want to be a dick (plus she is cute). So I took the CD with the cool cover art and bought it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

GnR Streams The Full "Chinese Democracy" On MySpace


So it might actually happen; Axl may bite the bullet and actually release his over-a-decade-in-the-making album "Chinese Democracy." Although it is supposed to hit the shelves in two days, Axl Rose hasn't officially confirmed that the album will be released then, so I've got 10 bucks that says that he will decide tomorrow to scrap the whole idea and begin again. That's just me and my freakish talking money.
Anyway, as I said in the title, you can stream the complete "Chinese Democracy" off of Guns N' Roses' MySpace. I am listening to it now, and I have to say, that although streaming is no way to review an album, it is nothing special. I mean don't get me wrong, it's not bad, and it probably would have sold well 15 years ago, but after all this wait this album would have to be spectacular to live up to all the hype and disappointment over the years. It just does not do this. It is an alright album (from what I've heard) but not worth the whole wait.
But you go ahead and give it a listen, I will probably have a real review up here eventually, but as I said, you can't review off MySpace. At least I can't.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Band: The Answer

Yet again I am re-using information from another blog. But most sites get their info from other sites, and hey, I always give credit. This time it's from a video (see below) that I got from this article from The Rock Dose, a great blog for the more mainstream rock.

But this video, from Letterman, shows the Irish band, The Answer, playing a single from their upcoming EP, "Never Too Late" (which is also on their debut album, "Rise"). Looking now at the information in front of me, I think that the site I got the video from is a little outdated. Reading from AllMusic, the EP "Never Too Late" was released in 2005, before their premier album, in 2006. So although I am a little behind with my discovery, I am also putting out the correct information, checking my sources. This makes me question other articles from The Rock Dose, gotta keep us all correctly informed man! (Unless of course they are re-releasing it within the States, in that case I take it all back, and I am an ass-hat)

Anyway, so after hearing the song on Letterman, I "acquired" the album and gave it a listen. The album, "Rise," seems to be straight from the 80's, from the AC/DC-esq straight-forward rock ("Under The Sky"), to the Deep Purple-infused Blues ("Memphis Water"), even including a power ballad as their last track ("Always"). When I picked up the album I was originally blown away, the first two tracks, "Under The Sky" and "Never Too Late," were amazing, upbeat rock-jams. Then it began to slow down as they added some blues into the mix. Not that the variation is a bad thing, but I was used to the fast paced beginning and was surprised when the songs got slower and slower as I continued. I was still bobbing my head along, however, until I got to the end of the disc. The final two songs, "Preachin'" and "Always," were just a boring way to end the, up to this point, strong album. Without changing the songs themselves, I would not have put these two together, and especially not at the end of the CD.

My favorite songs off of the album are (as already stated) "Under The Sky" and "Never Too Late." Their catchy riffs and quick lyrics are a nice mix.

Here is the video from The Answer on Letterman

Monday, November 17, 2008

Led Zeppelin on Tour - Sort Of...

So, if only to keep up with the myriad of other articles on the net, Led Zeppelin is going on tour... sort of. It seems that Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham (original drummer John Bonham's son) are going to go on tour (with a yet-unnamed lead singer) - but not as Led Zeppelin.
Instead a representitive for Page told Rolling Stone "Whatever this is, it is not Led Zeppelin. Not without the involvement of Robert Plant."
Plant, who has just finished a tour with Alison Krauss, has repeatedly said that he is not interested in a Led Zeppelin reunion, stating "The whole idea of being on a cavalcade of merciless repetition is not what it's all about." Jones later said; "We really want to do something, and Robert doesn't want to do this, at least for the moment. He really doesn't want to make loud music anymore. We do."
As stated they are currently holding auditions for a new singer, for this yet-to-be-named group. Some names that have applied include Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), and Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge). While both of these seemed to have gone awry, the fact is that eventually they will find someone which will lead to something. Whether it be just a tour, or competely new album/music.

Although it would be sweet to see the classic Zepp in full (if somewhat old) fury, I know that the ticket prices for this tour (with or witout Robert Plant) will be way out of my afordable range. So as far as the new band is concerned, I hope they release some new albums. Something that I could actually hear. I don't want to be some message board in a year and hear that I missed some of the best new songs ever, and never actually get a chance to hear them. Best of luck to the guys, but I want some new material, not the same old Led Zeppelin stuff we have all been listening to (some of us for our entire life).

Check out The Rock Dose, where I originally heard this news. And also my review of a Jimmy Page side project I found, Cloverdale/Page.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Month!


It has been now one month sense the founding of The Klepto's Guide To Awesome Music!
4 weeks and 18 posts... not a bad start.
I hope to keep it up all year.

Keep on rocking!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Current Trend: Continuation of Prog

So it's a little odd, normally when I fall into a trend I fall out of it just as quickly. But here we are, a solid 2 months in and my time is still being absorbed by Prog Metal/Rock. Not only am I still working through the music from last post, but I am hunting out new artists, and side bands of well known Prog bands. Here are a few:

  • 3 - 3 is a band I accidentally discovered (as so many of the best bands are) one day. After listening to their album, "Wake Pig" (also it was the only album I could find by them for a long time), I described them as a Coheed & Cambria that I can stand. And by that I mean, that alot of their sound is reminiscent of C&C (even though they pre-date them) but with a little bit of balls still within the music. I am currently (at the time of this post) listening to their newest album, 2007's "The End Is Begun," and I am enjoying it just as much as "Wake Pig." They have that mix of heavy prog and the poppy music, normally not something I am a fan of, but they pull it off fairly well.
  • Transatlantic - Transatlantic was a side project of to several people, all big names within prog; Neal Morse of Spock's Beard, Mike Portney of Dream Theater, and Pete Trewavas of Marillion. They only released 2 albums, and both are full of sprawling epics. Their first album "SMPT:e" (Which I have listened to), is a mix of hellish long songs and more accessible, faster paced shorter songs. There are 5 songs on the albums, 3 of which are over 15 minutes in length, with their opener being over 30 minutes. This albums was full of great music, but the long songs have large points of dull music within them. If they were split into several smaller songs I could easily get into them. But as it stands they are just too massive to listen to in the car or on the go. It will remain as a home album only. Their second (and last) album, "Bridge Across Forever," features only 4 songs, and 3 of them are over 15 minutes, with two songs almost thirty minutes in length. While I plan on listening to this album, I am hesitant, for it will be a feat.
  • OSI - Another side band of several; Jim Matheos (Fates Warning), Kevin Moore (Chroma Key), Mike Portney (Dream Theater), and Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree). This supergroup released 2 albums ("Office of Strategic Influence" and "Free") and 1 EP ("Re:Free") in their short collaboration. The only one I can get my hands on is "Office of Strategic Influence" and I gave that a listen this past week. This albums I was less impressed than with Transatlantic (I know they are different bands, but they are in the same vein, and I got the albums at the same time). They have decent length tracks, with only two over ten minutes, but it was almost all instrumental, and although I like Instrumental tracks, not an entire album worth, my mind starts to wander. Now, not all the songs were lacking vocals, some of them had a full set and they were really good, but several of the songs had words but not vocals. Several had spoken tracks over the music, with a good portion of them recordings of speeches by famous people (one song had President Bush talking throughout the entire song). I really dislike music that takes sound bytes from other stuff, especially some speeches by people they are trying to satire.
  • Spock's Beard - Just got three of their albums, I am now listening to their latest one, "Spock's Beard," and am so far fairly impressed. So far has longer songs that are mostly instrumental, and then they throw in lyrics at the end, but these don't get boring. They keep changing the rhythms and instrument parts so it stays fresh. Now I am listening to "Is This Love?" and it strikes me as an old jam-room rock song, with slight prog influences. Very different to the tracks before it, and from almost everything I have been listening to in the recent weeks. I intend to listen to more of these guys in the near future.
  • Yes - See my previous post to get the info on Yes

Random Music Facts 1

Currently listening to alot of Prog-Metal/Rock, like Transatlantic, OSI and Dream Theater

Monday, November 10, 2008

Favorite Albums: Dream Theater - Scenes From A Memory


"Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory" (full title), is the fifth studio album by the Progressive Metal band, Dream Theater. It is their first concept album and is a sequel of sorts (hence the title) to "Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper" (henceforth known as Metropolis), released on Dream Theater's previous album, 1992's "Images And Words." It is an album that dives into the psyche and rebirth, whose story, although amazing, will be lost on the casual listener. As with many progressive albums, you will not get the full story by only listening to the songs, you will need to read the liner notes within the album itself.

"Scenes From A Memory" tells the tale of Nicholas, a man who has been plagues by a reoccurring nightmare, where he is visited by a woman whom he recognizes but he knows not from where. He goes to a hypnotherapist who, while under regression hypnosis, helps Nicholas learn that the woman's name is Victoria and she seems very familiar. We learn that the reoccurring dream that Nicholas is having is him entering a house and walking upstairs, at the top of the stairs is a mirror, where he sees Victoria in the reflection. It is here where Nicholas learns that Victoria was victim of a murder, and gives him the task of discovering her killer. He is given this task, as he learns, because he is the re-incarnation of Victoria, some 70 years later.
Nicholas searches for information (within the dream or without I am not sure), and he meets an old man, through interviewing him and a newspaper he found (from 1928) that Victoria was within a conflict with her ex-lover, Julian. Within the newspaper article is says that Julian was the killer, and then killed himself because of a note found on scene from Julian, "I'd rather take my life, than live with losing you." But Nicholas doesn't think this is right, because the note says nothing about actually killing Victoria.
Using this information Nicholas begins to think that Victoria had a love affair with Julian's brother, Edward, and searches to see if it is true. At this point Victoria speaks to Nicholas, telling him that she has given him everything he needs to know the truth. Nicholas then sees another flashback of Victoria breaking it off with Edward, to go back to (a now clean) Julian. Unbeknown to either of them, Edward follows Victoria and confronts his brother. During a scuffle, Edward shoots Julian, to the horror of Victoria, and then proceeds to shoot Victoria as well, after telling her to "Open your eyes, Victoria."
This knowledge comforts Nicholas, now he knows what happened, and feels that he can finally go home and get some sleep. He heads home, turns on the TV and starts to doze in front of it. While this is happening, we hear background noise of someone opening the door and walking across the room. Then Nicholas is woken to his therapist saying "Open your eyes, Nicholas," who then proceeds to kill Nicholas. He does this because (this is not explained at all in the songs) he is the re-incarnation of Edward, Victoria's jilted lover.

As stated above, you could not possibly understand the entire story. Hell I have listened through the entire disc at least a dozen times and I have never once put it together that the Therapist is the re-incarnation of Edward (still not sure about that bit. That is the downfall of alot of Progressive albums, athough they are epic in their scope and subjects, it is almost impossible to understand the entire story. (See this, or this)

That being said, I love this album. It is my favorite Dream Theater album (with "Train of Thought" bringing up a close second). The way they mix light melodies, with some songs, with regular metal songs, really gives a little of everything for everyone. This is a metal album that your girl-friend would enjoy, with songs like "Through My Words" and "Through Her Eyes." My favorite songs (on the heavy side) are "Strange Deja Vu," "Fatal Tragedy," and "The Spirit Carries On." Mostly I like "The Spirit Carries On" because it retouches on most of the previous songs, even going so far as to re-sing part of the verse from "Regression" (although alot heavier) while adding some extra lyrics. This album really deserves a listen, the themes are deep and semi-scifi, with the amazing drumming of Mike Portnoy (who rivals the abilities of Neil Peart, my favorite drummer) and the superb guitar work of John Petrucci. If you like this stile, expecially the mosty (or fully) instrumental tracks, check out their side band, Liquid Tension Experement.

Track Listing
  1. Regression - 2:06
  2. Overture 1928 - 3:37
  3. Strange Deja Vu - 5:12
  4. Through My Words - 1:02
  5. Fatal Tragedy - 6:49
  6. Beyond This Life - 11:22
  7. Through Her Eyes - 5:29
  8. Home - 12:53
  9. The Dance of Eternity - 6:13
  10. One Last Time - 3:46
  11. The Spirit Carries On - 6:38
  12. Finally Free - 11:59

Friday, November 7, 2008

Completely Unrelated: It's My Birthday!!

Yep it is true. I am 22 as of 4:44 this morning.
I may be young but I have a blog.
That makes me powerful... I guess

I got a cool book all about music for my birthday so I will start taking some information from that and adding to it on here. So expect more varied updates in the future.

That is all

Currently listening to: The complete works of Billy Joel.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Epic Playlist: A

So here we are, the beginning of my playlist of epic proportions. I am breaking it up, because well that's alot of time devoted to one post (285 songs and still fine-tuning). So I will be breaking it up by letters, don't worry there isn't going to be 27 posts (A-Z and numbers), but there are alot of bands that fall under "A." After the first few letters I can begin combining sections (apparently there are more good bands at the beginning of the alphabet - remember that people! If you want to be big, name your band with a letter from the first half of the alphabet).

It is of note that this list is compiled from all genres. While it is exceedingly Rock/Metal, there is a nice mix including Folk, Pop, Soul, and even Rap. I have very eclectic tastes...

[EDIT] - So I've decided that just listing the songs was too easy, so I am going to start putting some details about each of the songs, for those who have never heard of the song/band.

-A-
  1. AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - All about a man advertising his services for whatever you need. The tag line for the ad "Dirty deeds done dirt cheap."
  2. Accept - Balls To The Wall - The world is not as it should be, and when they come for you, you'll have your "balls to the wall." Classic Accept song, their biggest hit
  3. Acid Bath - Scream of The Butterfly - A beautiful girl who kills someone, possibly without her realizing it. This song is different than alot of Acid Bath songs, it is much more reserved and although the lyrics are about death and drugs, the musical tune sounds quite beautiful.
  4. Adema - The Way You Like It - A man telling his (ex?)girlfriend that she had kept him down, but now he is famous and he doesn't need her anymore. I just like the chanting in the background and the chorus.
  5. Airbourne - Diamond In The Rough - A very crass euphemism for the vagina. It's about a poor guy hooking up with a "rich man's daughter." I laugh every time at the chorus.
  6. Alan Parsons Project - Games People Play - Just a simple song about people needing to figure out what they are doing with their life. A classic Prog-rock song from The Alan Parsons Project.
  7. Alcatrazz - Jet To Jet - About traveling to Africa during the slave trade. A few of the lyrics seem kind of questionable, but once you get the theme they are acceptable. This is prog-metal great Yngwie Malmsteen's first band, a short lived project.
  8. Alestorm - Captain Morgan's Revenge - Awesome pirate metal about a crew who mutinied against their Captain and were stuck with a curse where they could feel no pleasure. While it seems like a direct copy of "Pirates of the Caribbean," it still is a great pirate metal song, with awesome lyrics and music.
  9. Alice Cooper - I'm Eighteen - Simple song about a man just turning 18 and he is not sure if he is an adult or still a child.
  10. The Allman Brothers - Jessica - Instrumental, not about anything but still a great play-out with the several guitars switching the main melody.
  11. Amorphis - The Way - I really don't know what the song is about... A death metal band with a doom metal song. For their album "Tuonela" Amorphis went in a new direction, to the dismay of many fans. But it is my favorite album by them.
  12. Andrew W.K. - Ready To Die - Pretty much self-explanatory
  13. The Animals - House of The Rising Sun - A song of woe and warning about staying away from "the house of the rising sun." A classic
  14. Annihilator - Warbird - Heavy thrash song about war. Awesome drum beginning and I love the 30 second scream at the very end of the song
  15. Aretha Franklin - Think - Classic R&B song (I know it from The Blues Brothers) about a woman singing to her man that he has to think about what he is doing.
  16. Audioslave -Doesn't Remind Me - I think its about a guy who is trying not to remember an ex, everything he sees "doesn't remind me of anything." Its a nice slow-ditty with a casual guitar and drum beat. Nice and chill
  17. Austrian Death Machine - I Am A Cybernetic Organism, Living Tissue Over Metal Endoskeleton - Thrash metal song about the Terminator movie. The title is from a line in the movie and comes up alot. Its a funny real fast song, and although Austrian Death Machine is a spoof band, it still is a great metal song
  18. Autograph - Turn Up The Radio - Radio classic. There is a great song on the radio so turn it up.
  19. Ayreon - The Decision Tree (We're Alive) - A group of travelers and warriors that must choose on amongst them to die. The focus is between The Barbarian and The Highlander and their boasts of their life. Another prog-metal song, this is also quite light, and taken out of context from the whole album (concept album) you would be very confused. So listen to the entire album.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Albums Listened To In October

  1. AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
  2. AC/DC - Flick of The Switch
  3. AC/DC - Fly On The Wall
  4. AC/DC - Who Made Who
  5. AC/DC - Black Ice- Newly Listened! (See Review)
  6. Alestorm - Captain Morgan's Revenge
  7. Awestruck - Telemision
  8. Ayreon - The Final Experiment (2 Disc) - Newly Listened!
  9. Ayreon - Into The Electric Castle (2 Disc) - Newly Listened!
  10. Ayreon - 01011001 (2 Disc) - Newly Listened!
  11. Black Tide - Light From Above
  12. Cake - Motorcade of Generosity - Newly Listened!
  13. Cake - Fashion Nugget - Newly Listened!
  14. Cathedral - Forest of Equilibrium
  15. Cathedral - The Ethereal Mirror - Newly Listened!
  16. Cathedral - Statik Majik (EP) - Newly Listened!
  17. Clutch - Full Fathom Five (Live) - Newly Listened! (See Review)
  18. Coverdale • Page - Coverdale • Page - Newly Listened! (See Review)
  19. DragonForce - Ultra Beatdown - Newly Listened! (See Review)
  20. Dream Theater - Scenes From A Memory
  21. Dream Theater - Octivarium
  22. Firewind - Burning Earth - Newly Listened!
  23. Helloween - Gambling With The Devil
  24. Iced Earth - Something Wicked This Way Comes
  25. Iced Earth - The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Part II) - Newly Listened! (See Review)
  26. Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny - Newly Listened!
  27. Kiuas - The New Dark Age
  28. The Lord Weird Slough Feg - Twilight of The Idols - Newly Listened!
  29. The Lord Weird Slough Feg - Down Among The Deadmen - Newly Listened!
  30. Metallica - Death Magnetic - Newly Listened! (See Review)
  31. Nevermore - Nevermore
  32. The Ocean Collective - Precambrian (2 Disc) - Newly Listened!
  33. Pink Floyd - Meddle
  34. Primus - Sailing The Seas Of Cheese - Newly Listened!
  35. Queen + Paul Rodgers - The Cosmos Rocks - Newly Listened!
  36. Rage - Speak of The Dead - Newly Listened!
  37. Rainbow - Bent Out of Shape - Newly Listened!
  38. Rise Against - Transistor Revolt (Demo) - Newly Listened!
  39. Rise Against - The Sufferer & The Witness - Newly Listened!
  40. Rush - Signals - Newly Listened!
  41. Rush - Grace Under Pressure - Newly Listened!
  42. Sabaton - The Art of War - Newly Listened!
  43. Snot - Get Some
  44. Stephen Lynch - Superhero
  45. Stephen Lynch - The Craig Machine
  46. StormWarrior - Spikes And Leather (Demo) - Newly Listened!
  47. Testament - The Legacy - Newly Listened!
  48. Warrel Dane - Praises To The War Machine - Newly Listened!
  49. Yes - Time And A Word - Newly Listened!
  50. Yes - Fragile - Newly Listened!
I was going to try to write a semi-review for every new album I listen to, but after compiling this list and seeing that I have listened to 50 albums with 32 of them being brand new (at least to me) I decided against it. So I will only review those albums of merit, or maybe just the ones that are brand new for everyone (released recently), I haven't quite decided, but I will keep making these monthly lists to keep tabs of my music motions.

Epic Playlist: Beginnings

So I have this playlist, called my "Epic Playlist." It is a list of my favorite bands and the best song (in my opinion) they ever made, whether it be studio, live, or a cover. I was toying with the idea for a while before I actually made it. It ended up being about 160 songs. After having it for a few weeks, I realized that it wasn't complete. Apparently 160 songs is not enough awesome for a playlist to be called "Epic." So beginning today (and spanning to whenever I feel it is finished) I am expanding my list. I am going through every artist on my iTunes (there are 1105 of them) and choosing the best songs. So far I am on "G" and I currently have 212 songs, totalling a time of 16 hours 19 minutes and 44 seconds, and I am not done. I still have the rest of the alphabet to get through. Eventually I will finish this list (as best as I can) and will begin to list them all here. And of course there will periodical updates as I find new bands (or listen though all the bands I have now). So keep checking back

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Band: Coverdale • Page

So a friend of mine left all his CD's in my car this past week, and I was happy ignoring them - that is until my iPod died - then I decided to give his collection a flip-through. Most of it was what I expected; KoRn, Limp Bizkit, 50 Cent, and other crap, but one album I came across I had never heard of, this Coverdale • Page album. So I threw it into my CD player in my car (because I only had 2 others and I was bored of them) and was genuinely surprised at what came out. It was one good song after another, I was awestruck, my friend has terrible tastes in music, how did he discover this gem?
So I went home and looked it up (while ripping it to my computer), it turns out that it is a collaboration between Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin fame, if you didn't know) and David Coverdale (Deep Purple, Whitesnake), two of the greats of Classic Rock. They only released one album, for after this Paige joined up with other ex-Zeppelin, Robert Plant, for two albums ("No Quarter: Jimmy Page And Robert Plant Unledded," and "Walking Into Clarksdale"). Upon asking my friend where (and why) he got this album, he told me it was his cousin's and he had no clue what it was. Ok, now the world is back in order, my friend should not know more than me in the field of rock/metal, he has the rap domain, and he must stay there.

On to the album, it is a nice hard rock Album, with every song having a heavy guitar riff and the vocals all over the place. Some songs are slow, ballad-like odysseys, while others are fast-paced balls to the wall jams. My favorites off this album are "Shake My Tree," "Waiting For You," and "Take A Look At Yourself." Being more of a fast-rock mindset, all of my picks are fast, with great riffs and lyrics. There are the slower songs "Take Me For A Little While," and "Absolution Blues," which were both good, but not quite my forte within music.

So if you happen to find yourself in a record store, or within the record section of your giant mega-mart, and see this album "Coverdale • Page" is definitely worth a listen, especially for the Zeppelin fan.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rant: My Problem With Live Albums

I love music (as represented by this site), as you can see I have devoted a large chunk of my life to this outlet of creativity. I have thousands of songs, and hundreds of CD's (actual physical albums). Amongst all of this love and exploration, one thing that I can not stand are live albums.
Now, I love seeing bands live, I don't care the genre, I don't care the location (some of the best shows I have seen are by never-be-known bands in dive bars), as long as I can stand in the crowd and enjoy myself. Live shows are where the artist can fully do what they want, they are un-hampered by record companies, they can do medley/covers of some of their favorites, and they can have a ten minute guitar dueling session where the lead singer plays a solo with his tongue (I've seen it, it wasn't good but it was funny). Live is the last place of true self-expression, at least within the music industry. Live albums follow a far different path.

In my experience, there are three types of live albums, some better than others, only one type I enjoy.
  1. The first, and the worst, is the Pseudo-Live Album. I'm not talking when a band adds live sounds to a song for humor's-sake (or to trick the record company - see "The Origin of The Feces"). What I am referring to is an album where the only trace of live elements are at the beginning and end of the song. Where the guitar starts the opening riff and the crowd cheers, but then within twenty seconds the crowd becomes deadly silent, with the center sounding like a regular studio album. I really doubt that Journey's fans sit there quietly throughout a song (although I have never seen Journey so I don't know for sure), just to scream again at the end (see "Greatest Hits Live"). To me, this is just a farce to sell the same songs twice.
  2. The second, is the Direct-Live Album. This is the most neutral of the three types. It is basically just a plain recording of a live show. It has nothing extra, but isn't trying to pass for anything. Most live albums fall into this category, as do many live DVDs. While this type is not bad, per se, it offers nothing new, nothing special that would warrant the purchase (see Clutch's - "Full Fathom Five" - My Review). If you love the band, you will love this album, if you only like the band, you will be bored. If you are only looking for a Direct-Live Album, then go to the live show. At least then you are doing something different.
  3. The third, and the only one I will listen to, is the New-Live Album. This is when the band changes their songs for the live show. They add guitar solos, medley songs together, do covers, and talk to the crowd. This type is a full show on a piece of plastic (that is what CDs are made of right?). With this type you get things you can't get on the band's studio albums, an experience. Some of my favorites are AC/DC's "Live" (you get all of the old Bon Scott songs done by Brian Johnson) and Reel Big Fish's "Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album" (lots of covers, banter with the crowd, and extended songs).
So, out of the three possible releases, two are guaranteed crap. Therefore I publicly dislike live albums. They are just ways to make more money, without actually putting out anything new. So do your part, only buy live albums that offer something extra, that way we can weed out the other, weaker, types of live albums.

Currently listening to: Tantric - Breakdown

Rant: The Un-Written Rule of Rock/Metal Concerts

Ok, so I was strolling through my random blogs that I read, and I came across an interesting article: "Has The Unwritten Law of Concerts Been Abolished?" from MetalMartyr.com. Now, my intent is not to totally steal this article, but to add to it (and plus I'm crediting it, so it can't be all that bad can it?).
For those who don't know (including most of my friends apparently), this un-written rule we speak of is this: when you go to a concert you cannot wear a shirt with the band you are about to see on it. This is the basic rule, my own add-on (which is how it was explained to me at my first metal show) is that the only exception is if you are wearing a tour-tee (that is one of those shirts with the lists of tour stops, either current or from past years) or it is a shirt that you've bought at that very show (so you don't have to worry about keeping it in your car or pocket). Another un-written rule I have always followed (maybe less known, I don't know), is that you can't listen to the band(s) you are about to see either directly before or after the show. And an obvious exception to this, is if you are travelling a long distance, at least over three hours, I can't expect anyone to avoid their favorite music for that long. But if you are all just packing into your mom's minivan for a thirty minute "adventure," then that radio better be on something else.
Now I thought these were universal rules, for all genres. But after hanging out with my friends who are not into metal, or who are into softer rock (I don't know how we are friends), when I brought up these rules, I received nothing but blank stares. After trying to teach them these important rules (unsuccessfully), I was surprised to find that my metal friend, who was in the car, also hadn't heard of these rules! I was shocked, how no one had taught him these things, I'll never know.
I tried teaching these, non-believers, but the damage was already done. When you are young and going to shows, you rely on those older than you to show you the way. Then at a certain age you think you get all that needs to be learnt, and at that point you are done paying attention. That is where I was with these gentlemen, they had been to many-a-concert and knew all that was needed. Oddly enough the only female that was with us, absolutely agreed with these rules, and she isn't into anything heavy either. Maybe it was because she doesn't really go to shows, or maybe she is just into me, we'll never know for sure. But regardless, people need to teach their friends these rules.
And now, after reading MetalMartyr, it has come to may attention that even the bands on stage, are wearing their own logo'd shirts. Why would you need to advertise yourself? Everyone is already there to see you, and you have that huge banner behind you to remind them who you are. There is not need for the added advertisement. Unless of course, you are so caught up with yourself that you think everyone deserves to know who you are and what you do at all times. If that's the case, you need to be smashing those heads into the ground after your shows, not your guitars. You are damaging the better equipment, cut it out!

Currently listening to: The Bags - Cavemen Rejoice

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Comparison: Something Wicked Parts 1 & 2




Something Wicked is the newest release(s) by Iced Earth, labeled as "Framing Armageddon" (2007) and "The Crucible of Man" (2008), released almost exactly one year apart. These two albums are an expansion of an earlier Iced Earth concept off of the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" album, the last three songs more specifically. These songs, "Prophecy" "Birth of The Wicked" and "The Coming Curse," begins the story of Set Abominae, which is pulled into greater detail in the new albums.

The story is as follows:
In the original trilogy a species (not named) learns a prophecy of the coming of human kind (not known from where), who will eventually enslave them. They decide that to deal with this threat, they will take on the characteristics and likeness of "man" and will prepare for their retribution. That, in ten-thousand years, a child will be born who will "Walk this Earth, two thousand years or more," he will be the downfall of mankind. Fast forward ten thousand years, the child is born to much rejoicing; "Child of the wicked and ancient man, baptized in black magic, their master plan." The tale then moves to the narrative of the child, as he tells his plan for the damnation of the human problem. The end is never truly mentioned and is left up to the listener.
In the new, double disc version, the original inhabitants of Earth (now named Setians), are an almost omniscient species, and invaded from space by Humans who want the knowledge for themselves, killing all but 10,000 of the Setians. The survivors go into exile where the Setian High Command (numbering thirteen members) come up with a plan for revenge. They begin "The Clouding," forcing the Humans to forget their origins, and create religions to further divide the Humans. As Humans fight amongst themselves, the Setians will wait in hiding, 10,000 years for their savior (and the Human's Anti-Christ), Set Abominae to be born, starting the end of the Human occupation and bringing about a new age for the Setians. Set Abominae is on the sixth hour of the sixth day of the sixth month, and is raised within the Setian community, told the story of the Human invasion and the near-extinction of his people. As he is trained to be the destroyer of Man, Set wonders if he is the "blessed child" the elders tell him he is, or if in fact he is cursed. When he is released unto the world, his first target is Jesus Christ, and begins to tumble empires over two thousand years, promoting himself to God-like status. At the culmination of his efforts, the deed he was born to do, he decided that there is hope for Humankind and decided to spare the species, stating that they must overcome their own flaws, or face destruction.
"Framing Armageddon" tells from the Human invasion up to the birth of Set Abominae, with "The Crucible of Man," beginning at the actual birth of Set Abominae until he decides to spare Mankind.

While the story is epic in both its span and content, the ending product is lacking in substance. The original trilogy (from "Something Wicked This Way Comes") is a nice mix of the thrash/power metal we are used to from Iced Earth, with some piano and slower moments to give it depth. This ends up melding very well, with the three songs totaling just about twenty minutes, there is plenty of time to change the tempos drastically without it seeing unnecessary.
The first album within the new chapters, "Framing Armageddon," sets the tone very well. It follows in the footsteps of the original, with several songs in Iced Earth power metal fashion, and with a few of a slower pace, to break up the story. Favorite songs include; "A Charge To Keep" and "Ten Thousand Strong." With "The Crucible of Man," there is not that much of a break between styles. While I was listening to it I looked to see what track I was on, expecting to be on track four, I was surprised to see I was actually on track ten. There was almost no difference between the separate songs. I am planning on listening to it all the way through again, but from the first time listen, none of the songs really stood out to me. While the music was decent, there was nothing special (from a first listen).

I think one of the problems with the albums is the lack of continuity, for the original trilogy (and several previous albums) the lead singer was Matthew Barlow, at Barlow's departure in 2001, Tim "The Ripper" Owens (formally from Judas Priest) joined the band. Owens re-recorded the trilogy (heard on the "Overture of The Wicked" EP) and recorded "Framing Armageddon," with the intention of finishing off the series. When Owens was fired in late 2007, it was obvious that this would not be happening. Matthew Barlow was back in and quickly recorded "The Crucible of Man," and has intentions of re-recording "Framing Armageddon" (at least parts) and releasing both albums in a double-disc set-up.
Now, I love Matthew Barlow's lyrics, I view him as the "Voice" of Iced Earth, but I think that Tim Owens did a better job on this project. His falsetto voice, with John Schaffer's deeper back-up, did well at conveying the message of Set Abominae. And while I'm sure that if it had been Barlow's project from the beginning I would feel different, I think Owens put more into it, and should have been aloud to finish the story.

I have spoken to several Metal-Heads and they seem to be divided about new albums. Some thing that Matt Barlow is the only one worth of singing on Iced Earth albums and anyone else singing it is not the "real" Iced Earth. While others agree with me (and are a little less fanatical), and thing that "The Ripper" should have been able to finish what he started. Only time will tell which is more highly regarded.

Currently listening to: Ayreon - The Final Experiment (Album)