Friday, July 31, 2009

Video: Heaven And Hell "The Bible Black"

Keeping with the Dio theme, and as my last post of the month I thought this was good. It's the first single from Heaven And Hell's debut album The Devil You Know. It's kind of a simple video, cartoony with little detail. Not my favorite video, but it is one of the best songs off of the album.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Retrospective: Ronnie James Dio - Solo (Part 2)

Lock Up The Wolves marks the solid end of "The Golden Age" of Dio material. While it still follows the same formula of wizardry and wars, it seems like the heart is out of it. It shuffles on from song to song - doing nothing bad, but nothing really well either. If this was a release from a different artist/band, the group would quickly be swallowed up by mainstream media, but because it is an act so well known, it keeps on.
This is my least favorite Dio album. With almost every other of his releases, there is at least one track that I can get behind and really enjoy - but not this one. It's all just average song after average song, eleven times in a row. I don't think he was really trying too hard for this one. Even the album artwork is lackluster. Disappointing Ronnie, disappointing.
This is Dio's search for a resurgence into the market. This album focuses on technology and the evils within. While it is better then his previous effort, it falls short on many instances. I view this as the rise, towards what would become on his next few releases.
Now Magica is the closest yet to the glory days (the 80's) of Dio's music. It is a concept album with moving lines and interesting music. All and all a pretty good album, compared to the last few efforts at least. But what kills the album for me, is the 18 minute long spoken track, explaining the story of Magica, in semi-poetic form. Ok, I get that you want all the subtleties of your project realized, but concept albums are known for not knowing the full meaning on the first try. You are supposed to listen over and over again to hear the variation in stories, not have it handed to you. (Check out my article on Dream Theater - Scenes From A Memory or my one on Iced Earth - Something Wicked This Way Comes for a more in-depth view of a concept album.) While Magica is a call-back to the good Dio-era, the ending explanation is a poor (and very boring) way to finish up a project.
Following Magica, and in the same vein (without being a concept album), Killing The Dragon is a continuation of the NWOBHM/power metal sound that the classic Dio albums are known for. While it still isn't measurable against Holy Diver or The Last In Line, it is one of the strongest within this article. A seemingly resurgence of the Dio sound.
Dio's last album - finally. I was surprised with how much I liked this album. It is definitely one of my favorites from the latter dio-era. The songs are slower, but not too slow. Alot of the songs have a pulsating guitar and drum combo, with simple riffs and 4/4 drumming. It is very groove heavy, and relies alot on the lyrics and vocals, which in Dio's case is a good thing. It's a really strong album, slightly repetitive, but acceptably so. As I said, I am surprised with how strong this release actually is, it sounds like a new band then the previous albums. I would look forward to another Dio album, if it was like this one.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Top 10 Songs By The Greatest Metal Artists

Kind of a neat little website that has an updating list of metal artists and their ten best songs. Now I don't know who is ranking these, but from what I checked they seem to do fairly well. I don't listen to alot of these artists enough to tell if the lists are accurate, but I like the ones I do know.

Top 10 Songs By The Greatest Metal Artists

I seems to be powered by Nutsie, which is a semi-interesting site for lists and hearing new music.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Video: Megadeth "A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free)"

Very simple this one:
Megadeth - awesome band (If you don't know them and you call yourself a fan of metal smack yourself in the face at least once for me)
"A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free)" - my favorite Megadeth song.

"A Tout Le Monde" was actually originally on the album Youthanasia, but was re-recorded with Christina Scabbia, the lead singer of Lacuna Coil, and re-titled "A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free)" for the latest Megadeth album (until the end of the year), United Abominations.

I've been finding my videos at, which is a great site for finding new and old metal music videos (seeing as youtube is so watered down with crappy cell-phone live songs or stupid people who think they can nail a solo), but when you embed it onto another page the video player is so small, it's rather annoying. I assume it's to encourage people to make it all the way to their site, but it is still a pain in the ass.

If you want to see it full sized go to Megadeth - A Tout Le Monde

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Retrospective: Ronnie James Dio - Black Sabbath...Twice

Really a superb album. This was Dio's first release with Black Sabbath (after the firing of past singer, Ozzy Osbourne) and he makes an amazing first impression. Every song is decent, with only one or two not being amazing. If Black Sabbath could release more albums like this, they would still be #1.
While not quite as good as Heaven And Hell, Mob Rules was still a pretty solid album. Holding the singles "Sign of The Southern Cross" and "Mob Rules" this album was a valiant effort by the group to remain in the public's eye, after their renewed popularity from their previous release. The only weird song is the odd instrumental "E5150" with bears little significance to anything else on the album.
This album is....well average to say the least. While it really isn't horrible, it's nothing that stands out. When you have greats like Dio, Tony Iommi, Vinny Appice, and Geezer Butler all on one project, odds are it's not going to be just might not be that good. It's easy to see why the Dio-led Black Sabbath only stayed together for this one album. I'm glad they figured out the winning formula for their newest project, Heaven And Hell.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Retrospective: Ronnie James Dio - Heaven And Hell

  • The Devil You Know - 2009
I've already gone in detail about this album, so this will be a shorter post then my others. Now that I've listened to the album a couple of times, I can say that it is a classic album. The first half is amazing, the mixing of the styles (of Dio and Black Sabbath), with the latter part lagging a bit, but still coming in strong.Heaven And Hell is a collaboration of the Dio-era of Black Sabbath, but not just a re-hashing of old songs. That's why they made the new name, they wanted to release new music - the first for Sabbath sense 1995's Forbidden (ugh), and Dio's first sense 2004's Master of The Moon.

All-in-all, if you like Dio, if you like the classic-era of Black Sabbath, Heaven And Hell's The Devil You Know is a keeper, go out and buy it!

See full length review here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Video: Clutch "50,000 Unstoppable Watts"

Now I wanted to put this as my last video, instead of the Mastodon song, but it hadn't been released yet. If I had known that it would be out a week later I would have waited. So now you get two videos this week!

I love Clutch, and while I am still up in the air about their new album, this is a good song. The music video is kind of interesting, mixing the story in the lyrics with the idea of a band recording a song. It's pretty laid back - at least as far as most of their music videos are concerned.

So go enjoy the first single off their new album (just released today), Strange Cousins From The West, "50,000 Unstoppable Watts."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Retrospective: Ronnie James Dio - Solo (Part 1)

This is it: the definitive Dio album. Everyone knows the title track - even if you don't listen to this style of music, you know it. This album produced several singles that are still heard on the radio; "Holy Diver," "Don't Talk To Strangers," "Straight Through The Heart," and "Rainbow In The Dark." This is by far the most popular album in Dio's catalog, deservedly so, and it helped launch his hefty solo career off right.
This album was released on the tails of Holy Diver, and it is decent - it's no Holy Diver - but it is pretty good. It still plays into the "Swords & Sorcery" theme that was present in the previous album. You can see how much of an impact these first few albums had on the blossoming sub-genre power metal, many bands still reference Dio as a major influence, and many more pay homage through covers. If you like Holy Diver, you will probably find something to enjoy in The Last In Line.
Sacred Heart still lives in the fantasy realm, but is also more radio-friendly then The Last In Line. Songs like the title track, "Rock N' Roll Children" (one of my favorite Dio songs) and "Hungry For Heaven," all saw radio play (not to much anymore) and the album broke the Billboard Top 200. This was the last Dio album to be rated Gold or higher (the previous albums both went Platinum) until his greatest hits in 2000.
Dream Evil kept some radio-friendly songs, but it also dove back into the story-telling aspect of Dio's music. These songs were longer, and several of them had different sections to the song - periods of tempo shifts and musical changes. In my mind this album signaled the end of the Dio hey-day of the 80's (being his last album of the decade). While the latter albums are pretty good, they just don't hold up to the 80's thunder of Dio. Also as a side-comment, the pseudo-spoof power metal band Dream Evil takes it's name from this album (their Evilized album is one of my favorites).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Video: Mastadon "Divinations"

I've never really listened to Mastodon, figuring them for another growly NWOAHM band. But I stumbled upon their new video and it was pretty damn good. If the rest of their music is like this then I have found a new artist to enjoy. I'm working on getting all the albums to give them a serious listen. But until then, here is the first single from their latest album Crack The Skye, "Divinations"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Retrospective: Ronnie James Dio - Rainbow

Rainbow was supposed to be the title of Ritchie Blackmore's first solo album, not the name of a band. Blackmore was still a member of Deep Purple, and Dio was still the front-man of Elf (his previous band). But, after the success of recording, Blackmore decided to make Rainbow a full-fledged band, and this album their first release. The record companies would not release the album without putting Blackmore's name in the title, hence the album being Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, and not just Rainbow. This album is alot more bluesy then the following releases, and that is because the backing band for this release was the group Elf, who had been opening for Deep Purple on the road for a number of years.
This is my favorite Rainbow album, it still has soul, with the moving bass and story-based lyrics, it held my attention without becoming boring or preachy. "Man On The Silver Mountain" is one of the few Rainbow songs you will hear on a classic rock radio station (albeit rare indeed), and the song "If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" is downright funky, with a sort of swing feel to it. Great stuff.
Rainbow Rising is claimed to be the definitive Rainbow album, with longer songs then the other albums (the entire second side of the record was taken up by two eight-plus minute songs), which allowed Dio to fully tell his stories of magic and mysticism. While not my favorite album (see above), it is pretty damn close. This release is much more straight-forward rock then it's predecessor. This is more due to Ritchie Blackmore disbanding the group (save for Dio) that recorded Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, and reforming it with artists he saw as a better fit, then anything else. I'm not sure if that is a good this or not, as this album is great, but as I look more into Ritchie Blackmore's past, I see him as a bit of a pre-Madonna, with firings and disbandment in any band that he is a part of. I'd say he has Axl Rose Syndrome, but he shows up to acts, and he predates Gun's 'N' Roses by two decades. Oh well, if the shoe fits...
While this album does have my favorite song on it (the title track) it is my least favorite of the Dio-era Rainbow catalog (everything after Dio is barely classified as rock). The title track and "Kill The King" are favorites of heavy metal bands, they cover these two more then any other Rainbow songs. This album is the beginnings of the mainstream-style that Ritchie Blackmore wanted for his "solo project." While it still focuses on "wizards and sorcery" the songs were much more straight forward - even including a love ballad, "Rainbow Eyes." After this release Blackmore wanted to further move the band mainstream, prompting Dio to quit, later joining Black Sabbath, and making heavy metal history.

There were more releases after Dio left the band, although none even as close as awesome as the original three albums. The mainstream style landed the group a few hits and increased album sales, but Blackmore sold out (I would say the band Rainbow sold out, but Blackmore replaced most of the musicians after every release, so you can't call it a "band" per-se). The Dio-era was by far the best, but he left for greener pastures, landing the short gig as Black Sabbath's frontman, preceding his long solo career. A good trade if you ask me.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Retrospective: Ronnie James Dio - The Elf Years

s my Month of Dio continues, I focus (again) on the awesome blues/rock band Elf.
The first, and my favorite, release of this blues-rock band (heavy on the blues), before they were influenced by Deep Purple. This, as I described to my friend, is "a blues band without the slow, mournful tunes about 'my lady leaving me.'" This is, in my mind, the definitive of what blues-rock should be - the heavy piano, the light non-distorted guitars, the story-telling lyrics, all requirements of a great band.
And thus begins the progression of Elf, from being a Blues band with rock influences to more of a 50/50 blues and rock band. The songs off of Carolina Country Ball have more guitars, and more distortion then their previous release. It's still very enjoyable, but you can hear the change taking place, due to the band opening and touring with Deep Purple for four or five years.
Trying To Burn The Sun is the last release of Elf (if you don't count the Rainbow years), and completes the band's transition into a Rock band with Blues influences. Going back and forth from this album to their first, you can hear the change and, except for Dio's voice, it sounds like a completely different group. Still a great album, no matter how much criticism I spout out, I cannot deny that the music is still stellar. Rock, blues, whatever, Elf rocked, and still rocks.

After Trying To Burn The Sun, Elf became the backing band for Ritchie Blackmore's solo project, a project that would eventually become Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. After the release of the first album, Rainbow became a full fledged group, disbanding Elf permanently.

For more on Elf check out my Previous Article about the band

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Albums Listened To In June

Ahh finally, the crappy month of June is over. Has anyone had a good June? Most of the people I know agree that this month seriously sucked. Amid my numerous personal and family issues, there were homeless issues, a lack of internet, and idiots at work that just made me lack the energy needed to work on this project. But now I'm moved into my new place (complete with internet), summer school has started again, which will bring new issues but also more free time between classes, and I'm working with my boss to figure out what to do with the ass-holes. With any luck July will be the best month this summer (not a whole lot of competition), and will yield positive results for my music listening.
I am however, slightly impressed that with weeks of being away from my computer and music collection, I still managed a fairly decent list of music both in numbers and genres. I think what really helped out was that I listened to 18 albums within the first two days of June, it's really hard to go wrong there, even my weeks of crisis.

Ok well enough bitchin, it's on to the music:
The best new albums I heard this month had to be from the two groups Blind Dog and Robot Lords of Tokyo. Both of these are of the stoner metal persuasion, but both are a bit different. Blind Dog focuses more on lyrics and slow, grinding guitars, while Robot Lords of Tokyo are more hard rock oriented, with faster and louder songs. Now I am not sure about this at all, but I feel that Robot Lords of Tokyo had to have taken their name off of lyrics to my favorite band, Clutch's, song 10001110101. In the song, which seems to be nothing but random phrases pieced together, the lyrics I am referring to are "Ribonucleic acid freak out, the power of prayer. Long halls of science and all the lunatics committed there. Robot Lords of Tokyo, Smile taste kittens! Did you not know that the royal hunting grounds are always forbidden?" So, while I am not sure of this at all, it seems too much like a coincidence. The Clutch album that this song is on, Robot Hive/Exodus, came out in 2005, while Robot Lords of Tokyo's debut self-titled album came out in 2006. It's not much to go on, but I like it.
Also some honorable mentions: The Decemberists' discography, all great folk rock. Five Horse Johnson's The Mystery Spot, some more really good stoner metal, I'm working on finding some more from these guys. The discographies of other stoner metal bands, Hermano and sHEAVY, were also really good. I have really enjoyed stoner metal, and all the sub-sub-genres that are out there.

Ah much good that there was, there has to be some bad. Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown was a lame excuse for an album - as I suspected. I really liked their American Idiot album (but I was also still in High School) but this new attempt is just too bubblegum pop-ish for me to handle. Another disappointment, but this time a surprise one, was MC Chris' latest release Part Six Part One, it was only seven tracks (well it was an EP) but three of them are skits, and not very good ones at that. Normally MC Chris' skits aren't filed with comic genius but they can get me to crack a smile, not this time. The skits were more gross and demented then anything else. His new album, titled (you guessed it) Part Six, Part Two, comes out in the next couple of weeks, and I am in no hurry to rush out and get it.

Well there you have it, the good and bad from the past 30 days. The next month is another project month, a month where I set a goal for myself and do my best to meet it. The next month I am calling The Month of Dio, where I listen to the entire musical collection (not including live albums or EPs) of one of the greatest voices of heavy metal - Ronnie James Dio. This is a hefty undertaking, because he has over 20 albums to his credit, but I am going to do my best (at the time of this posting I am already three albums in). I'll see you all in 31 days, if not before.
  1. 311 - Uplifter - Newly Listened!
  2. Alabama Thunderpussy - Open Fire - Newly Listened!
  3. Alestorm - Black Sails At Midnight - Newly Listened!
  4. The Atomic Bitchwax - TAB 4 - Newly Listened!
  5. Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds Five - Newly Listened!
  6. Black Majesty - Tomorrowland - Newly Listened!
  7. Black NASA - Black NASA - Newly Listened!
  8. Blind Dog - Captain Dog Rides Again - Newly Listened!
  9. Blind Dog - Last Adventures Of Captain Dog - Newly Listened!
  10. Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot - Newly Listened!
  11. Clutch - Strange Cousins From The West - Newly Listened!
  12. Clutch - Strange Cousins From The West (Listened twice)
  13. The Decemberists - Always The Bridesmaid: A Singles Series - Newly Listened!
  14. The Decemberists - Castaways and Cutouts - Newly Listened!
  15. The Decemberists - Her Majesty The Decemberists - Newly Listened!
  16. The Decemberists - Picaresqueties (EP) - Newly Listened!
  17. The Decemberists - 5 Songs (EP) - Newly Listened!
  18. The Doors - The Doors - Newly Listened!
  19. Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity
  20. Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Tarkus - Newly Listened!
  21. Fireball Ministry - The Second Great Awakening - Newly Listened!
  22. Fireball Ministry - Their Rock Is Not Our Rock
  23. Five Horse Johnson - The Mystery Spot - Newly Listened!
  24. Flogging Molly - Alive Behind The Green Door - Newly Listened!
  25. The Fucking Champs - Greatest Fucking Hits
  26. Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown - Newly Listened!
  27. Heart - Dreamboat Annie
  28. Hermano - Dare I Say... - Newly Listened!
  29. Hermano - ...Into The Exam Room - Newly Listened!
  30. Hermano - ...Only A Suggestion - Newly Listened!
  31. Incubus - A Crow Left of The Murder
  32. Incubus - Make Yourself - Newly Listened!
  33. Incubus - Morning View - Newly Listened!
  34. KoRn - Issues
  35. Living Colour - Vivid - Newly Listened!
  36. MC Chris - Part Six Part One (EP) - Newly Listened!
  37. Monster Magnet - 4-Way Diablo - Newly Listened!
  38. The Offspring - Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace
  39. Oysterhead - The Grand Pecking Order - Newly Listened!
  40. Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon
  41. Pink Floyd -A Momentary Lapse Of Reason
  42. Pink Floyd -The Wall (2 Discs)
  43. Pink Floyd -Wish You Were Here
  44. Robot Lords of Tokyo - Robot Lords of Tokyo - Newly Listened!
  45. Robot Lords of Tokyo - Whiskey, Blood & Napalm - Newly Listened!
  46. Rush - Power Windows - Newly Listened!
  47. Shadow Gallery - Tyranny - Newly Listened!
  48. sHEAVY - Celestial Hi-Fi - Newly Listened!
  49. sHEAVY - The Electric Sleep - Newly Listened!
  50. sHEAVY - The Machine That Won The War - Newly Listened!
  51. The Tossers - We'll Never Be Sober Again - Newly Listened!
  52. Traveling Wilburys - Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 - Newly Listened!
  53. Týr - By The Light Of The Northern Star - Newly Listened!