Saturday, April 30, 2011

EP Shakedown: Trash Titan - Trash Titan

Trash Titan seems like a very accurate name for this group. The music they make is some rough and trashy stoner rock with a huge sound. The songs off of their self-titled EP move between being blues/retro rock and grooving southern rock, with the occasional thrash feeling within the breakdowns.

"Medicine" does a good job of setting the scene; with the southern-tinged rock coming in thick. The second track, "Sunny Day," is where the album begins to take off, where the mix of stoner genres is more apparent. Elements of southern, rock n' roll and thrash all make their play here. This leads to the more subdued but far superior, "Whiskey Love," the high point of the release. This one is straight-forward southern jam-stoner, with a moving rhythm and a entertaining story.

Friday, April 29, 2011

So Mike Mangini Is Dream Theater's New Drummer

I don't do a lot of current events and news here, with my feeling that I'll never have enough time to maintain anything long term, and honestly you can all that from either Shy Guy Assassin or Metal Insider (among others) if you truly want... like I do. But because I love Dream Theater and have already commented on the whole Dream Theater minus Mike Portnoy thing, I feel inclined to comment on this latest development.

After attempting to tie people in with a documentary, showing the drum-offs if you will, the fellas of Dream Theater have officially announced (finally) that their new drummer/percussionist will be Mike Mangini. Now, I didn't follow the documentary at all, and I only kept in the loop sparingly, but this bit of news grabs my attention. Mr. Mangini has worked with several acts previously; Steve Vai, Extreme, Annihilator, and James LaBrie's solo effort, among others, so you know he has the basic ability (Annihilator's Set The World On Fire is one of my favorite albums by the group). On top of that he was, at one time, the holder of five of the World's Fastest Drummer records, including Fastest Matched Grip, Fastest Barehands, Fastest Traditional Grip, and Fastest Single Stroke Foot (2 different records), so you know the man has speed.

Weekly Dose of Prog: VYGR - Hypersleep

VYGR is a new band that has been getting a lot of press of late; and while I discovered that they are a bit light on the progressive aspect, several other reviewers hailed their style of music as very much progressive in nature. This is what led to the group being this week's 'Weekly Dose of Prog,' but whichever way you look at it, I'm glad I got a chance to hear Hypersleep.

You see, while VYGR (pronounced Voyager) have progressive tendencies, they really fall more into the post-metal aspect of the genre. The songs have a tendency of being long and drawn-out (not a complaint), mixing in sludge and doom for good measure. This is the style of sludge I like by the way, the vocals are growly but semi-understandable and go with the music very well. It's not like the growing trend of pointless screaming and incomprehensible growls that have become so popular nowadays. It reminds me of Baroness, only less prog and much more doom-oriented.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Play It Again: Sucking The 70s - Volume I & II

I discovered these pair of awesome throw-back to the 70s releases about a year ago, and have since been thoroughly enjoying these modernized classics. Small Stone Records collected the best of of the bands under their label and gave them some of the best songs of the 70s to put their heart and soul into. The best thing about this idea is most of these acts are qualified as 'retro-rock' bands, and so most of these covers don't sound out of place at all. Blues-stoner acts jamming out blues rock songs sound perfectly at home, no chance of a waver or misstep.

These albums are carried by two points, the original song quality, and the skill of the band covering them. Songs that you know and love from the 70s get proper justice here, and the few lesser known songs (I had never heard of Leaf Hound or Big Star before) that get an overhaul are of equal footing. Not every song within Sucking The 70s is truly amazing, but enough of it is to wow any audience.

To keep things simple, I'm just going to list all of the songs on the albums, with the ones I love in bold, and the very few I can't stand in italics, everything else is just ok. The list is organized by: Covering Band - "Song Title" (Original Band), to keep it simple to understand.

Sucking The 70s
I discovered this album first, a few days before the other and found it amazing. A few of these songs I had already, either on the respective act's releases or in some other special edition collection, but that didn't dim my excitement at having so many classic songs in one release. Personal favorites (above and beyond the bolded collection) are; "Cross Eyed Mary," "I Don't Have To Hide," and "Workin Man."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Favorite Albums: Elf - Trying To Burn The Sun

Trying To Burn The Sun is the last Elf album, and similarly the last Elf album to be included in my Favorite Albums list (aha a stupid joke). Check out my articles on their other two albums, Elf and Carolina Country Ball, for more Elfy goodness.

It seems that the band seemed to know this was to be their final release, as Trying To Burn The Sun pulls out all the stops. The album includes some of their best songs, most varied compositions, and almost every track of the record has a centralized story - something I love within my music. This album, on a song by song basis, is the greatest of the Elf albums. It contains their best tracks, all collected very nicely in one place.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Awesome Artwork: Alestorm

I was working on my last Alestorm article, under the 'Bands I Love' headline, and I realized that this group has some amazing artwork out there. To celebrate this fact I'm going to showcase all that Alestorm has to offer. Expect some big, decent-definition pics with brief descriptions.

Captain Morgan's Revenge - 2008
This is what begins us off, out first hit of what Alestorm has to their name. I like the artwork for Captain Morgan's Revenge because it is simple in the background, and then has a very visual foreground. I could easily imagine this (minus the skull-face) being a part of an actual time piece from the 17th century about piracy - if only a smaller piece of a bigger portrait. It begins the story of the band smashingly.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Awesome Songs: Elf - "Streetwalker"

As I was working on my 'Favorite Albums' article for the last album by Elf, Trying To Burn The Sun, I began writing about the amazing song "Streetwalker" which appears on the album. After giving a bare-bones version of the song, I still ended up writing half a page on the subject. So I either had to slim it down, or start a new article... Guess what I chose.

As I said in my previous Elf article, "Carolina Country Ball" is my favorite song by the band, but the finale of Trying To Burn The Sun, "Streetwalker" takes a close second place. It is an amazingly well put together piece of rock and roll. Strong is form, melody and narration, I can't help to belt out the lyrics each and every time I hear it - especially the ending of the track.

== Check out the track on YouTube (better this way then the old) ==

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Helping Hand...

Don't worry, I'm not asking you for money or anything, calm yourself.

I have a couple friends in a band and there is a contest going on right now by FedEx for a record deal. It's sort of like a battle of the bands except by votes only (and that much more lame). Regardless, it would be sweet if my friends won, and as so I am asking all of you out there on the interwebs to head HERE and vote for The Jonnie Morgan Band (they are the 13th one down). All you have to do is go to the site, wait for it to load (it's kind of a poorly put together one, it takes forever to load) and click on the plus sign (+) above 'Be A Fan.'

That's it, it'll take 30 seconds and you'll be benefiting some amazing musicians from Central Florida.

Thanks a ton in advance.

Video: Alestorm - Keelhauled

I've already spouted my love for Alestorm (more to come as well), and "Keelhauled" is one of their more interesting songs. I love the jig-style of the track, and the story-telling aspect as well; all about a traitor who must pay for his crimes. I've seen the group live so I already know all about the keytar the lead singer plays, but that is a sight I don't think I'll ever get used too...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

EP Shakedown: Syd Arthur - Moving World

I had know idea who or what Syd Arthur was, but what I heard was not what I was expecting by any means. Moving World was another 'gift sent' to me by Ripple Music, and I really don't know what to make of it. It melds styles I previously thought un-meldable. Truly a conundrum of sound and style. I only label this as progressive rock because I don't know what else to classify it as, it is that much of an interesting mashup of style.

I'm going to assume Syd Arthur is either a nickname or the band name, like Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull or Franz Ferdinand, a name that sounds like a person's, but is in fact the group's name (in my searches I discovered a theory that the band gets it's name from Syd Barret (original singer for Pink Floyd) and from The Kinks' album, Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire), so that's kind of interesting). I say this because the singer has a very peculiar voice; At times making me think it is a female singing, and at others just a really odd male (the first draft of this paragraph was all about a female vocalist, then I did some actual research and learned the truth). It is really odd, I can tell that he's British, but other then that I am at a loss.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: 3 Headed Monster - 3 Headed Monster

Work's been pretty brutal of late, and as such I'm putting together this week's 'Weekly Dose of Prog' very last minute. This week's isn't going to be a big one, and I'm working hard on getting something of substance out on time (my first draft was very short). As it stands, this will be short and sweet. I'll try to get back on my feet for next week, as I do enjoy writing these.

3 Headed Monster was an instrumental progressive metal band that I discovered randomly several years ago. I don't really remember how I found them, or why I would give them a listen above so many other bands (it probably had something to do with the band name and the album artwork). Whatever the case I discovered the act and I am glad I did.

With the many previous instrumental acts I've heard and reviewed here the constant remark I make is whether or not the band in question can pull off being entertaining for the long hall. Some acts can handle this, with consistently evolving melodic progressions and an equally impressive guitar/drum relationship, while others fade out into nothingness, with repetitive riffs and the like. 3 Headed Monster plays on both sides of the fence, with some tracks being very entertaining and memorable, while others simply are not.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Play It Again: Abramis Brama - Nothing Changes

Because of my recent acquisition of a new computer and the musical fiasco that decision brought with it, I basically have to re-listen to my entire collection (or at least those albums I know I love) to get back on the same page. Seeing as I have to do this, I'm going to go for the silver lining and figure that it gives me a chance to write a bit about some of my favorite bands and records. In the past I've only written about full discographies or new bands/albums that I have heard. This gives me the chance to tell you about those diamonds in the rough.

Although I am not planning on doing this alphabetically, Abramis Brama is damn close to the beginning of my collection (currently number five. but honestly I haven't listened to the artists that come before yet). The group is Swedish, and Nothing Changes is their sole album in English. I'd love to hear more from the group, but as I've said before, I can't handle non-English music for an entire album. I need some sort of vocals that I can sort of understand (which is also my problem with a lot of instrumental music out there). If you can speak Swedish, or don't mind hearing gibberish, I am jealous and encourage you to check out the rest of their albums and get back to me.

Anyway, Abramis Brama plays a real bluesy and groove-oriented rock, with a strong sonic styling of Soundgarden, especially within the correlation of the guitars to the vocals. While it's not a complete comparison, when Ulf Torkelsson (awesome name) holds out a long note in the higher end of his register, I can't help but think of Chris Cornell (from Soundgarden). The rest of the group is pretty mellow, with down-tuned and lightly-strummed guitars, and chill drumming. It all weaves back and forth, bringing up the amplitude when needed, but never oppressing the lyrics in any regard. The mixing for this album is superb to say the least.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Taste of Thrash: Municipal Waste - Waste 'Em All

This is the album that, for some reason, I have really wanted to listen to again, recently. One of their songs ("Death Prank") popped up on a random mix CD I made some years ago, and sense that encounter, I've wanted more from Municipal Waste.

While Carnivore was an in-your-face style of thrash (see 'Taste of Thrash' from last week for more), Municipal Waste's particular style - at least for Waste 'Em All, I haven't listened to much more of their albums - is ten times that. They call this their first full-length, but at fifteen minutes long I'm not sure if that description qualifies. Also of note, there are fifteen tracks. Yes, that means that the average track length is one minute long, the longest being 1:52 and the shortest only coming in at eleven seconds (the aforementioned "Death Prank"), which makes this album a roller coaster ride of a listening experience.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Favorite Albums: Elf - Carolina Country Ball

Continuing on with last week's edition of Favorite Albums, dedicated to Elf's debut album, I thought it prudent to work on the second disc in their discography; Carolina Country Ball. This is the album where the group begins to pick up steam, having toured with Deep Purple for over a year, working on their composition and sound. It begins a direction more into the rock aspect of blues rock, joining in with the rock 'n roll era, and is a real step up in the story-telling aspects.

First thing, the name; you see, while the album if officially titled Carolina Country Ball, it was released in parts of the world (most notably the USA and Japan) as L.A. 59. No reason for this switch has ever been offered, and while it really doesn't change anything - there aren't two different track lists out there - it does strike me as a bit odd. Personally I much more enjoy the song "Carolina Country Ball" over "L.A. 59," so I prefer the original title, and will continue to address it as such.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Current Events

Just a short little FYI: I got a new computer this week, which while awesome, does screw up my music collection somewhat. All of my songs/albums/artists made the crossover (I think anyway), but the organization that I had with them did not. So all of my rankings, notes, playlists, collections, etc have gone the way of the buffalo. With all of this I have to pretty much start from scratch.

My monthly 'Albums Listened To' lists will be a bit screwy, mostly because I can't be 100% which albums I have heard before or not. Also if you are a band/label and have sent me an album to review I have lost my order and the groups that I had put on my system to keep track of everything. I have it all saved in my email, but it will take me some time to get through all of the emails and whatnot to get back on track.

That being said, because of the fairly clean full-restart, I'm going to be editing some things. First off: I've created a new for The Klepto's Guide, so if you have an account (which I strongly suggest) shoot me a friend request. I'm going to try to be more active on that website, with groups and whatnot so expect some of that.

I have enough article pre-written, or at least 75% done, for the next week or two, so I'll keep up to date for now. Hopefully by that point I'll be back on track with everything. I'm finding it hard to get moving, with basically the past three years of this hobby/addiction brought back to naught. It's a very sobering thought, looking through 65,000+ songs and really not knowing what to do with it all.

Bands I Love: Alestorm

I am going to do a much fuller article on Alestorm here in the near future, but for the time being I just want to show my appreciation for the group. I absolutely love their first two albums, and I am actively working on a 'Favorite Albums' article for each. With the release of their third album, early in June, my excitement level is reaching biblical proportions and I feel the need to shout my adoration from the rooftops! Thus this edition of 'Bands I Love'.

I'm going to keep this article short and sweet - with more articles on the way, I really don't have to go too far into detail now - just highlighting one aspect of Alestorm's releases that I love and find really fascinating: their penchant to include covers on all of their releases. In itself nothing too special, many acts cover bands and artists that influenced them or something along those lines. Alestorm is special in the regard that all the songs they cover: A) Have something to do with pirates, theft, booze, etc. And B) Are mostly from non-metal acts and/or are something way-way off in left field.

The first example of interesting covers is probably the least adventurous of the group; it is "Flower of Scotland" off of their debut, Captain Morgan's Revenge, originally penned by the folk rock group The Corries way back in 1967. Sense that time the song has become de facto national anthem of Scotland - even though the country itself doesn't have a set anthem - so I could see why the Scottish band Alestorm would be interested in recording such a cover. As I said, not too out there, but not something you would normally expect to hear on a heavy metal release.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Video: Type O Negative - "Black No.1" & "Everything Dies"

This week was the first anniversary of Peter Steele's untimely death. As I'm sure most of you know, Steele was the lead singer and bassist for the gothic/doom band Type O Negative, as well as the thrash band Carnivore. I paid my dedication to Carnivore earlier in the week, and now do the same for Type O Negative.

Because of the mournful tone of this article, and because I love the works of Peter Steele, and Type O puts on one hell of a live show, this week's music videos is going to be a twofer. Two songs by Type O Negative, the first being their big hit of the 90s: "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)" followed by a somewhat fitting "Everything Dies," the group's most depressing song I ever heard.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

EP Shakedown: The Dandelion Club - One More Margarita

Down and dirty garage rock, this is what The Dandelion Club is selling. Their EP, One More Margarita (follow the link for a free download from the group's BandCamp), is a three-song, rough production release that captures the band's live element really well. Now, I haven't ever seen them live or anything, but judging from the energy they put out on this disc, it's not a far leap to make. By the half-way point on the first two songs it sounds like the singer is out of breath and exhausted, having worked so hard to put all he had into the track, this is why I would expect great things from band live.

Their style seems a mix of the garage rock of the 90s, the DIY style of punk (as well as some punky vocals) and the fuzz of stoner, giving it an almost punk folk sound. I know my first thought when the vocals came in on the title track was one of a Celtic punk band like The Pogues of Flogging Molly, although The Dandelion Club really don't have any true folk influences. It's just in the vocals and the loose production values I guess.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: The Devin Townsend Project - Ki/Addicted

My knowledge and experience with Devin Townsend and his various 'projects' is limited at best. I've only heard a couple of his albums, all from his progressive side, and the only one I actually remember listening to with a 100% assuredly is Ziltoid The Omniscient, and that is ...well, a special case to say the least. So the should-have-been double album of Ki and Addicted will be my return to this crazy individual's bi-polar induced mind. Fare me well.

As a man who has released numerous albums all over the genre spectrum, you never really know what you're getting from Devin Townsend on any of his albums. He's released extreme music as Strapping Young Lad, and various styles of progressive music (including ambient records) under different makes of his name: originally as Devin Townsend, followed by a short reprieve as The Devin Townsend Band, and now currently The Devin Townsend Project. Each name takes on a slightly different style and skill of album released, but my own experience is admittingly limited, something that I hope to rectify over the coming weeks.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

5 Quick Album Reviews

I've recently joined the family over at Ripple Music. They've been nice enough to send me some music for review (as well as connect me with the JPT Scare Band, who sent me a shirt and their entire discography, way to go there guys!), and a new outlet to gain some readers. If you haven't had a chance to check them out, I strongly suggest you do so, they review pretty much anything, from old to new, and any range of rock/metal. It's a lot more varied then The Guide is, so if you have eclectic tastes like me, there is bound to be something interesting there for you to enjoy.

Thinning The Herd - Oceans Rise
As a group that describes themselves as a "soulful brew of grunge-fueled, blues-driven, stoner-infused rock," their self-description hits the nail on the head pretty solidly. The songs off of Thinning The Herd initially strike me as a mix of early-era Clutch and the alternative/post-grunge of Alice In Chains. Even though Oceans Rise drift away from that original analysis, it is this thought that continuously pops up throughout the album. Overall the album is tuned-down, making it all sound very dark and oppressive, probably more so then the lyrics would normally have come across as, but I have to think that this is the purpose. Songs that do pop-up ahead of the group, do so because of their more melodic tendencies. An underlying theme to the music (at least to me) is a semi-garage and/or noise rock fuzz and overexposure of the instruments and vocals. Songs like the title track, "Defiler," "Binge," and "My Wake," all have more in the whole 'musical' department, a little more groove, a little more tune. If you find yourself forlorn at the end of the 90s grunge/alt-metal era then definitely check out Thinning The Herd, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Taste of Thrash: Carnivore

I started the 'Weekly Dose of Prog' segment because I thought that The Guide was lacking on that front. I made it weekly because progressive rock/metal is one of my favorite genres, I can't really do that with thrash. I like thrash, and lately have been jonesing for a fix, but I know that I don't listen to nearly enough to describe these bands in as vivid of detail as I can with prog, stoner and doom. So randomly, I'm going to bring just a 'Taste of Thrash' to The Guide.

Although their music is more aggressive and in-your-face then most of the other thrash acts I listen to, for some reason I can't get enough of Carnivore. It could be because of my history with Peter Steele's later act, Type O Negative, as he sung and played bass for both bands, or it could be the thinly veiled attempt at humor many of the songs take on. Whatever the case, I can really get behind these grooves and melodies.

Louie Beateaux, Peter Steele, Marc Piovanetti

The group only released two albums before calling it quits and heading to the other side of the genre spectrum, spawning legendary metal doom/dark metal acts Type O Negative and Life of Agony, but I've listened to the second, Retaliation, repeatedly. I am ashamed to say that I haven't heard their debut, self-titled, LP nearly as much, but I'm trying to amend that as I write this article. For a band that basically tried to piss people off, they put out some damn good tunes. If you doubt their attempt at shock and awe just look at their subject matter; songs about race wars and racism, sexism and rape, anti-religion, hate, nuclear holocaust, and a few other touchy subjects. It's one of those acts you can either see the attempt at a lampooning style or hate the blatant message. Sort of like missing the forest through the trees if you ask me, but to each their own.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Favorite Albums: Elf - Elf

Unbelievably, it has been almost a full year since the passing of the legendary Ronnie James Dio. I still can hardly fathom is and it puts a pit in my stomach every time I think about it. Although the man is best known for his metal career; both solo and with Black Sabbath (as also Heaven And Hell), my favorite recording to benefit from his amazing voice are from his short-lived blues rock band, Elf. I've already written a bit about the band, once when I first discovered them, and again while I was going through the entire Ronnie James Dio catalog (a full year before his death). Now that it's been a while, I believe that I can adequately describe these amazing records (all three of them) and why they are included within my Favorite Albums.

Elf, the group's debut album, is a great first release from the group. As I stated before, this is their most 'pure' album, and by that I mean that this album takes upon the sounds of blues and mixes them with a semi-big band jam sound. The following pair of releases are much more rock-oriented (while still keeping the hint of blues) as the group was influenced by the sounds and styles of Deep Purple, who they were opening for continually throughout their career. So this is the album that best signifies the 'true sound' of the band, for better or worse.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tribute Series: Yellow Matter Custard

It's been a while, but here is the final tribute band/act that I discovered going through Mike Portnoy's discography. You can check out the others; Hammer of the Gods, Cygnus and the Sea Monsters, and Amazing Journey.

This is the album that started the trend (but the last I heard), One Night in New York City is a tribute to The Beatles under the name Yellow Matter Custard; made up of Mike Portnoy  (Dream Theater, Transatlantic, OSI, Liquid Tension Experiment), Neal Morse (Transatlantic, Spock's Beard), Paul Gilbert (Racer X, Mr. Big) and Matt Bissonette (ELO). They take their name from a lyric in "I Am the Walrus", by The Beatles: "Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog's eye".

The Beatles have never been my favorite act, which is why the great delay between this article and the others (about four months). I was much more interested in The Who and Rush, which is why they were the first of the set I listened to. It just doesn't have the spark for me, as hearing some of my favorite acts covered. You all can understand that right?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Video: Turisas - "Battle Metal"

I tried to find a more modern music video for Turisas, seeing as they just released their third album, but when I found this one I knew it had to go up. The intro to the video will explain the set-up so there isn't any need for me to go through it.
One thing I did notice is that the vocals are easier to understand from this music video then the actual CD that they come from (Battle Metal). I don't know if it's a re-recording or just a cleaner mix, but whatever it is, I like it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

EP Shakedown: Heavy Ripples, Vol. 1

I'm usually reluctant to listen and review compilation albums/EPs, because of the usual clash of styles and overall skill of the bands featured. It's the only place where you can hear stoner rock sat next to NWOAHM and atmospheric doom. It's just a little too sketchy for a real review... usually.

For the first compilation EP released by Ripple Music, aptly titled Heavy Ripples, Vol. 1, the guys have collected some amazing acts of the stoner persuasion. The album begins within the blues side of the sub-genre, then takes small sonic steps throughout the rest of the album, through excellent song selection, moving towards rock 'n roll and a dash of punk. Normally this shift would have bothered me, but the fellas at Ripple have done a superb job making it all from amazingly.

Stone Axe is at it again, with their real chill, more-blues-then-rock sound. This time turning the Mos Generator song, "Nightwolf," into what seems like a blues standard, something that I wouldn't think possible. This excellent effort is followed by Sun Gods In Exile, a group not on the Ripple Music label - originally from Small Stone - but nice enough to let their music be included (I'm sure the added press doesn't hurt either). Their song, "Over My Broken Body," isn't as blues-oriented as Stone Axe's work, but you can hear the correlation between the pair.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: Guilt Machine - On This Perfect Day

Have to thank That Devil Music for this one, their great review is what tipped me off to the fact that this band even existed! Go check them out if you haven't had the chance yet, a great group of writers who actually know what they are talking about! Sometimes a rarity in today's world.

Arjen Anthony Lucassen is nothing if not a genius. His musical project, Ayreon, is one of my favorite progressive metal bands out there right now. On top of this epic project, he is also the frontman of a few others; Ambeon, Star One, Stream of Passion, and Guilt Machine - some of which may pop up again on another 'Weekly Dose of Prog.' While most of these projects were short lived, this is still an accomplishment by any measurement. And because Guilt Machine is what That Devil Music introduced me to, that is where I'll begin.

Fans of Ayreon will hear familiar sounds and themes throughout On This Perfect Day, and this is to be expected, as they both have the same person at the helm. However, Guilt Machine seems more dedicated to the lighter side of metal, not having any of the crushing themes that popped up on Lucassen's previous works. Compensating for this, the album takes upon aspects of ambient and industrial music. Neither is too overpowering, and if you were to listen to a segment of a song at random odds are you wouldn't hit an ambient or industrial passage. This new 'look' brings the sound and feeling of the record to a new level, adding credence of this is a different project. I actually like it quite a bit.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rant: At What Point Is A Band No More?

Side Note: For some reason it seems like Thursdays are turning into a day where I rant about some issue. This is not intentional, it just has been the day that I have these articles finished by. We'll see if this 'trend' continues.

The title of this article may be a bit misleading, but I couldn't figure a way to word it any better. By the above I mean; at what point does a band, upon losing original members, stop being the band they were originally? I know that's not much clearer, but stay with me, I will explain.

This thought hit me while I was working on the recent Styx article (Favorite Albums: The Grand Illusion) to which I remarked that when I saw the band live, some years ago, there was only one original member of the band still recording and touring. In a like story, I know that 3 Inches of Blood lost their last founding member a couple of years ago, meaning that when you see the band live, you aren't seeing the group that released Battlecry Under a Wintersun, or perhaps even Advance and Vanquish (I don't know, I didn't spend that much time checking their attendance).

So do you call that truly seeing or hearing the band? I know it's just an argument over details, because these acts are still recording new music, still touring, and still being Styx or 3 Inches of Blood, but there has to be a line when the band isn't really the band, and I'm just querying of when that line is reached.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Guilty Pleasures: Godsmack - Faceless

I almost didn't have anything for today, I could not for the life of me figure out what to write about. I didn't feel like a review of something new, I just did an 'All In The Family' and I've been working on Queen's A Night At The Opera for a new 'Favorite Albums' but it's got a long way to go. I was afraid that I would of had to put up a video or some stupid current events or something. Then, while I was driving to the store, some 90s alt-rock song popped up on the radio, and it reminded me of Godsmack, and how they were a guilty pleasure of mine. This thought process led to the new segment about my guilty pleasure bands, songs, and albums. Seeing as I grew up in the 90s, it'll probably contain mostly artists from that era, and mostly consist of alternative or (gasp) nu-metal. I know, I know! I said the 'Nu' word, but that is what I listened to as I grew up (check out The Times, They Are A-Changin' (Part 2) for more info), so that is what constitutes as a guilty pleasure to me. This is broken up into two halves; Then and Now, which will give what I remember loving about the album, and what I think about it now, comparing the two thoughts. Let's give it a try.

I wouldn't say I grew up with Godsmack, mostly because their debut album wasn't released until 1997, and I was eleven at the time, but my Dad did own their debut (mostly for the song "Voodoo") and their follow-up, Awake, so I was introduced to the group from the beginning. I heard the singles both on the radio and at home, I learned most of the songs and lyrics to the first album, mostly on road-trips with the old man, so I knew it all pretty well. Then they released their third album, Faceless, and my enjoyment of them came to a new level.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

All In The Family: Ayreon

Ok this one is pretty much a list of artists that have helped out with the project band that is Ayreon. There are just so many that I think it needs to be said, in one long list.

Of course there is the main man, Arjen Lucassen, who is the ringleader of this event. Without him there would be no Ayreon as he has written most of the instrument parts and the lyrics to all of the albums. As well as this project he has started a few others; Ambeon (1 Album), Star One (1 live and 2 studio albums), Stream of Passion (1 live album and 2 studio albums with one more upcoming), and Guilt Machine (1 album), as well as helping out with several other acts.

Monday, April 4, 2011

In The Beginning: Bad Company - Bad Company

I've been working my way through some classic albums by classic bands; Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rainbow, AC/DC, mixing them in with some more contemporary artists. I eventually came to Bad Company, and quickly to their debut album. Listening to it just reminded me how great of an album it was, how much talent was with the band (at least the first incarnation) and just how long ago it was that they got together. Seemed like a perfect match for a 'In The Beginning.'

Bad Company, while not the first true supergroup, may have been the first one to make it big within popular media. I'm not including acts like Led Zeppelin or anything, because while technically they were a supergroup, it was more of an evolution from The Yardbirds. Bad Company was a 'true' supergroup, with a group of musicians coming from established and substantial bands (Free, King Crimson, and Mott The Hoople), with the intent of putting out some new music. That is the line I'm drawing, feel free to make your own claims to what it is to be a supergroup.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Video: Black Sabbath - "Black Sabbath"

You have to think; not only is this one of the first metal songs, or one of the first doom songs, but it is one of the first music videos (and one of the first metal music videos on top of that). There is nothing special about this video, in fact it's kind of dull by today's standards, but from 1970, when this song was released (I don't know when the music video was recorded, but Ozzy still could complete sentences, so it had to be the early 70s at the very least), it was new, progressive and unexpected.

Black Sabbath: Still awesome!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

EP Shakedown: Spiders - Spiders

I started these EP Shakedowns as a hope for a simple and short article for the weekends, something that wouldn't take a lot of time to bang out, so I can get a break in every now and then, and you all aren't left out in the cold. For the past few sessions of this segment, the articles have been long and getting longer, which is obviously the opposite of what I wanted. So this is going to be a return to form that never existed - short and sweet.

I was initially surprised when the first notes of Spiders' debut EP came out of my speakers, this was a woman singing! There is nothing bad about it, especially with the skill showed off here, but even in the 2010s a female vocalist in rock is a semi-oddity. I know I shouldn't have been startled, her pic is on the album artwork, but apparently I don't pay that much attention to this sort of thing. Her voice isn't the best thing I've ever heard, coming off a bit like Janis Joplin - the power is there but it's lacking on the range - but she is well aware of her abilities and sticks with what she knows.

Everything I Didn't Review In March

Black River Bluesman & Bad Mood Hudson - Double Headed Trouble
I listened to Black River Bluesman & Bad Mood Hudson directly after I heard Bo Molasses - apparently something I did in great error. You see You've Put Your Voodoo On Me was so amazing (see below) and Double Headed Trouble was so average that the differences were elevated to a near impossible degree. Double Headed is a decent album, heavy in the blues (more traditional then modern) that I know some people would dig, but my mind compared it to Bo Molasses (unintentionally of course) and that just wouldn't do. I probably need to give this one another try.

Bo Molasses - You've Put Your Voodoo On Me
Something is odd about this one, but I love it! Bo Molasses is not metal (even though the cover art may seem so), instead dark blues/American folk which I find really appealing for some reason. I was going to review You've Put Your Voodoo On Me, but I had a really hard time struggling to write more then "It was good and bluesy....and good" So here's this mini-review. Pick it up at their BandCamp for only $5! Can't beat that.

Bungalow Bums - Body In The Trunk 
So-so southern rock. There were a few really good moments, but most didn't go anywhere substantial. I was on a southern stoner bender and Bungalow Bums just didn't live up to their cohorts in the genre. But Body In The Trunk has some bitchin' artwork though.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: Beardfish - Mammoth

Even though the group has been around for a decade, I have never listened to Beardfish before. Not only that but before about a year ago, I hadn't even heard of them in the first place. I stumbled upon the group trolling through the ProgArchives archives (kind of a pun), found their album artwork interesting and they had some decent reviews on the site. I did some more research, and found that either you love the group or hate it, with little heard from anything between. On top of all this, each group is very vocal of their particular view, making for some pretty interesting (and at times funny) articles/forum posts/flame wars. Alright Beardfish, I am intrigued, you pulled me in. Now either wow me or let me hate you, seeing as that is the only two possibilities...

...And I am wowed. Mammoth, Beardfish's latest release (just this past week) is an amazing display of eclectic progressive rock, delicately dancing into progressive metal occasionally but still keeping the lighter side of things firmly grasped. I say it's eclectic progressive because almost each song is a part of a different subgenre of the progressive movement; there are long, outlandish pieces with movements and frequent time-signature changes, there are more straight-forward rock n' roll style songs, jazzy tacks incorporating the saxophone, and even a light a fluffy piano piece. All of this and more, summed up into one word: eclectic. Which to me translates to 'fun.'

Albums Listened To In March (106)

Hat damn, there are a lot of albums in this week's count! I know I dedicated this month to folk music, and while I did get some substantial collections in (Blood Or Whiskey,The Decemberists,The Real McKenzies, Rebellion, Tyr), it wasn't as much as I wanted. I wasn't in much of a folk mood as soon as the 17th had passed. Oh well, what can you do?
Still, over 100 albums this month... that is something to be proud of. For the past few months, I have noticed that I've been averaging close to two discs a day, and I wondered if it was possible to get it up to three a day. Well after the first week or so of this month and I realized that I was already above this average, I decided to go for it. Three albums a day average! And you know what? It wasn't really that difficult. I'm not saying that I'm going to keep this up in the upcoming months, but now I know I can... so, who knows?