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 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)

Friday, October 17, 2008

5 Quick Album Reviews

Quick reviews for new albums:
  1. AC/DC - Black Ice - 7/10
    The newest release by the Australian Rockers. It's an alright album, much more blues-oriented than previous works. Brian Johnson's voice is actually understandable, they let him sing and not only scream. Maybe he's getting old...
    My track picks: "Rock 'N Roll Train." "War Machine." and "Decibel."
  2. Black Stone Cherry - Folklore And Superstition - 7/10
    2nd album by the Southern Metal band. I really enjoyed their self-titled debut, the mesh of Southern and Doom created a great mix. This new album is much lighter, moving towards Southern Rock and away from Metal. Still a good effort, but I enjoyed the old sound, no need to fix it.
    My track picks: "Devil's Queen," and "Ghost of Floyd Collins"
  3. Clutch - Full Fathom Five (Live Album) - 8/10
    Now I dislike live albums as a whole, you will hear me say that quite alot within this site, but I love Clutch, so it is a conflict of interest. It is another straight-forward live album, no live-only covers, no extended song segments, and no special releases (although I was surprised at part of the track listing). But, with nothing special, it isn't a bad album. The recording quality is very good, you can hear the crowd singing along, but sill make out what the singer is saying, and all of the instruments come in clearly. And as I stated, Clutch is my favorite band, so i did enjoy this album, but there is nothing special in it. I ranked it against other live albums and not versus other Clutch albums (if that were the case then it would have been more of a 5/10).
  4. DragonForce -Ultra Beatdown - 6/10
    Shred and more shred, that seems to be the criteria for DragonForce. They seem to be trying single-handely to bring back 80's Speed-Metal. If you liked their last albums then you'll like this one. To someone who listens to a varied selection of Metal, the constant shreds get tiring, I don't know where the songs end or begin. The songs they did slow down (one or two of them) just dragged on, I felt as if the vocalist really didn't have anything to say, but was singing nonetheless.
    My track pick: The Last Journey
  5. Metallica - Death Magnetic - 6/10
    First off - waaaay better than St. Anger. Still not a great album. Lots of long tracks, most of them could have been shortened, I wouldn't have minded. They did pick up the tempo in this album, but while still keeping it accesable for mainstream. It seems to be a bridge between "...And Justice For All" and "Metallica (The Black Album)," like George Lucas got a hold of it and wanted to do a prequil to the Version 2 Metallica. It jams Thrash and Hard Rock, and has a song called "The Unfogiven III" for god sakes. They need to let that song go.
    My track picks: "That Was Just Your Life," and "The Day That Never Comes"
Currently listening to: Nevermore - Nevermore (Album)

Bands I Love: Yes

"Classics:" is a section where I pay tribute to those bands that have had a huge effect of music/the industry/life, but for one reason or another, are almost forgotten by today's generation. This can include any style or genre, and while some of these bands made it big in their heyday, today they are barely a memory.

This week we look into Yes:

"Yes is the British Pink Floyd." That was how I described the seminal progressive rock band Yes to my friend Krotch one evening. After a stunned silence, in which I (and Krotch) remembered that Pink Floyd was also British, I then tried to rationalize it, you know to not look like a fool. My rational: Yes is the British Pink Floyd in the way that Yes was as popular in the U.K. as Pink Floyd was (is) in the U.S. By that I mean, that while Pink Floyd was achieving record sales for their... well records, here in America, in England they did not hold a candle to Yes (although still very popular).

Yes was founded in 1968, and have released 19 studio albums, and are still active (although currently on hiatus). Their songs are characterized by having abrupt time signature and tempo changes, extended lengths (with one album, "Close To The Edge," being only three tracks long but timing at almost 40 minutes), whimsical lyrics, and often features focusing on the musicians' technical prowess. The group has had alot of line-up changes, and disbanded in the 80's for three years, but (as shown by their latest release, 2001's "Magnification") are still going strong.

Now, I haven't listened to the entire discography of Yes (yet), but being raised by a British Mother, I have been subjected to them all of my life, with "The Yes Album" and "Highlights: The Very Best of Yes" being in the CD player on more than one occasion. Now that I am an adult (in a loose sense of the word), and have begun my own album collection, I now have all of the Yes albums.
So far I have listened straight through "Yes," "Time And A Word," "The Yes Album" (obviously), and "Fragile" (listened to today), with "The Yes Album" and "Fragile" being my favorites thus far. I have enjoyed all of these albums because of the very eclectic feel of their songs, and yet it all feels very jointed together. It sounds like they jammed two or three songs together and then worked on it non-stop for two months to make it flow, only it's that way with every song. All-in-all, if you like 70's Prog (ELP, Genesis) then Yes might be worth a pick-up.

Currently listening to: Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny (Album)

500 Terabyte iPod...?

See this site for all the juicy info.

So apparently scientists in Scotland have invented a way to get over 127,000,000 million songs on one chip - using "a functional nanocluster that incorporates two electron donating groups" on a carbon base. The use of carbon means that silicon (the previous standard for all chips) is no longer required, making the entire computer cost and process cheaper and more eco-friendly. No word yet on if they are actually going to be putting these chips in iPods, and frankly I really don't need one... But I want one.

Currently listening to: Rise Against - Transistor Revolt Demo

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Current Trend: Progressive Rock/Metal

I, as an avid music listener, go through phases of the genre/styles that I listen to, wether it be for only a day or for weeks on end. This is constanly changing, and normally my listening habbits are eclectic - where I will play two songs from very different artists back-to-back.
For the past few days, I have been listening to 90% Progressive Rock/Metal, and maybe 10% AC/DC (the new album Black Ice). Artists like Warrel Dane (solo album by the singer of Nevermore, another band I plan on listening to), Ayreon, Dream Theater, System of a Down (most don't consider SoaD a "Progressive" band, but every song of theirs is consideralby different then the one after it. That, in my mind, equals Progressive), Pink Floyd, The Ocean Collective (not a fan), Without Amusia (local band), Rush, and Rage (at least the first half of the "Speak of The Dead" album).
Prog is thought of as having very different sounds for each artist, over half of the aforementioned artists have a very similar sound. The only bands that truly stand out are System of a Down (being more Experimental Metal focused), Without Amusia (focused on a fusion of Latin and Funk), The Ocean Collective (Post-Metal), and Pink Floyd. Although all of these bands fall into the Prog catagoy in some way, it's the bands with a "true" Progressive sound (e.g. multiple time signatures with prolonged instrumental sections), that are considered truly Prog. Some of my favorties:
  • Warrel Dane - The lead singer of the Power Progressive Metal band Nevermore, who's debut solo album, "Praises To The War Machine," is a nice mix of Prog and Power. While this album is more straight-forward than Nevermore albums, it still dives into the Progressive feel, with the song "Equilibrium" being my favorite. I don't know when to expect the next album by Dane, seeing as Nevermore is back in the studio recording a new album (said to be released next fall), but I hope that there will be another.
  • Ayreon - The concept: one writer/composer, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, with dozens of guest musicians/singers, to create a concept album focusing on science fiction and fantasy. Lucassen writes all the music and lyrics (even though lacking the ability to read sheet music), and records a large percentage of the parts himself. He then has several guest musicians, and numerous vocalists (with as many at 17 on the album: "01011001"), add their abilities to the final project. All of the albums are concept albums, with several albums being intertwined to form an impressive story. Although I havn't heard all the albums yet, I have listened (and loved) to "Into The Electric Castle" and "01011001." "Into The Electric Castle" tells of eight heroes pulled from several places and times and are given a quest by a mysterious voice to discover the secrets of The Electric Castle. "01011001" follows two stories, one of beings living on "Planet Y" (01011001 is ASCII for the letter "Y"), with the second focusing on a pair of people living on Planet Earth. I intend to listen to all the other Ayreon albums, and most likely will write about this project again.
  • Dream Theater - The recipie: four music college drop-outs and an ex-hair metal singer. Sounds like a horrible collaboration, but in fact Dream Theater has become the deffinition of Progressive Metal, in the same way that Rush is the deffinition of Progressive Rock. They play extended peices, with multiple movements and time signatures. The vocals (James LaBrie) are sung in the fashion of the rock bands of the 70s/80s (Styx, Iron Maiden) which can turn off people not used to the sound. But the instrumentalists, John Petrucci (Guitars), Mike Portnoy (Percussion), John Myung (Bass), and Jordan Rudess (Keyboards), meld together a story of epic perportions. My favorite albums are 1999's "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory" and 2003's "Train of Thought." "Scenes From A Memory" tells the story of a man having horrible dreams about a woman and discovering that the woman was him in a past life. It's real trippy and moves from really heavy ("Strange Deja Vu" and "Fatal Tragedy") to very light and poetic, something one's girlfriend might enjoy ("Through My Words, "Through Her Eyes," and "Finally Free"). I enjoy Train of Thought" for very different reasons. I love this album because of it's much heavier connontations. It is an album filled with heavy riffs and darly lyrics, much more straight-forward metal, than any album before or after. It got mixed reviews from fans, with many claiming Dream Theater "selling out." Is anyone else sick of this insult/excuse? I view it as the band, known for experimentaion, tried to do something new.
  • Pink Floyd - One word: awesome. Who doesn't know about Pink Floyd? If you are one of these people I want you to do something very important very quickly, I want you to take your hand, ball it into a fist and ram it into your temple as hard as you can. Keep going until you either know all about Pink Floyd, or you pass out, whichever comes first. What most people don't know (those that know about Pink Floyd) however, is that they did release albums before "Dark Side of The Moon." Actually they released several albums, and most of them were not of the sound that they would be famous for. Their other albums include:
So there you have it, both my current trend, and my first forray into Prog. Several of these bands will be featured again (expecilly Dream Theater and Ayreon) and in more detail.

Currently at work and bored, wishing I was at home listening to something...

Tour Dates: Snot Releases New Song and Upcoming Tour Dates

So for those that don't know, Snot is a short lived metal band that folded after one album due to the death of their lead singer (not the usual music death, he was hit by a drunk driver with his parents). After his death they called it quits and released a live album and a tribute album of sorts, but it was not nearly the same.
Now, after almost a decade, the remaining members paired up with Tommy Cummings (former Divine Heresy singer) for a new tour, and are planning on releasing new material, with a new album due out sometime next summer.
They have put their first single, "The Band Plays On," on their MySpace. The song isn't bad, but it is not the Snot I know and love. It is a different sound but that is to be expected, so take a listen and see for yourself. When the new album comes out we will have to see what the final picture looks like.

Snot Headlining Shows:

Aug. 23 - Salt Lake City, UT - Club Vegas
Oct. 10 - West Hollywood, CA - Key Club

Snot Supporting Devildriver:

Oct. 14 - Bakersfield, CA - The Dome
Oct. 15 - San Francisco, CA - Slim’s
Oct. 17 - Portland, OR - Roseland Grill
Oct. 18 - Vancouver, BC - Red Room
Oct. 19 - Seattle, WA - El Corazon
Oct. 20 - Spokane, WA - The Big Easy
Oct. 21 - Boise, ID - The Big Easy
Oct. 22 - Salt Lake City, UT - Club Vegas
Oct. 23 - Las Vegas, NV - Jillian’s
Oct. 24 - Pomona, CA - The Glass House
Oct. 25 - San Diego, CA - Brick By Brick
Oct. 26 - San Diego, CA - Brick By Brick

Info "borrowed" from

Currently listening to: AC/DC - Ride On

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Video: ED's Furry Fucking Guide To Metal!!!!

This is just something funny I found on the Net. Pay special attention to the different genres mentioned in the video, they are all accurate.

Everyone of us has heard the call
Brothers of True Metal, proud and standing tall
We know the power within us has brought us to this hall
There's magic in the metal, there's magic in us all
-- Manowar "Metal Warriors" --

First Post

Ok so here it is, my short preamble to this blog that will make you not scoff and walk away while I work on adding more: Welcome to The Klepto's Guide to Awesome Music, your one stop shop for all things awesome involved with music. From reviews of bands/albums/live shows, to anything nifty I find on the web.
This blog is created out of the ashes of my previous site, the short-lived wiki Musicpedia. I realized that my last project was too vast, and to impersonal, and (because I haven't updated it in a good four months) so some friends and I decided to create our own, stand-alone site, devoted to music set up in a blog format. After several months, I am the only one who has worked on anything, and seeing as I believe that this trend will continue, I am going to start putting the articles I have worked on, onto this site. If the stand-alone music blog ends up working out, I will move everything from here over. But seeing as I doubt that very much, this will be my creative outlet.
This site (if you haven't noticed) is devoted to all things music. And even though my music tastes are eclectic, this site will be mostly devoted to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock and the many different sub-genres that are associated with both. Although that does not mean that if I get the urge to write a piece on Billy Joel or The London Philharmonic I won't (those will just be few and far between).
So I ask you to be patient, and come back frequently, as I have a dozen articles that are on paper that I will be transcribing to type. It will only take time, something that I seem to be short on of late...

Currently listening to: Ayreon - The Decision Tree (We're Alive)