Archive for the ‘Rock’ Category

MI0001487271.jpgIf you haven’t heard of this one I don’t blame you. The Workhorse Movement were really over in the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. If you’ve heard of them but haven’t heard the album, I don’t blame you. It wasn’t promoted or lauded enough as it deserved at the time and without them making any more albums there was no build up or cause for a new generation to get in to them.

If you have heard it, well then you know full well, this is one barking mad, fun and excellent album. How to even describe it? Eclectic, to say the least. It is a bizarre mixture of Clutch and Monster Magnet stoner rock with crazy lyrics, Sepultura on Roots proto-Nu Metal riffs, Faith No More variety (such as having additional brass instruments or latin music or funk or soul at different times). There’s even a sort of psychedelic space rock intro and a bit of that style in the verses of another song. There’s little bits of Rap Metal (well it was the year 2000 after all) but that’s far from the whole story. If that all sounds like a strange mix its because is, but somehow it works.

Its all topped off with a cheeky smile and a sense of humour. Lyrical topics include handshakes ‘Gimmie Some Skin,’ Detroit ‘Motown,’ Black Sabbath ‘Keep The Sabbath Dream Alive’ (“When I die there’s gonna be an electric funeraaaaal”) and all sorts of marijuana talk for better or worse. Lyrically its a bit silly but musically its dead serious (Again, not unlike Clutch or Monster Magnet). The experimentation with outside styles isn’t frivolous, its expertly done.

The important thing to remember is, this isn’t another generic forgettable release from the Nu Metal period. Its eclectic to the point of being progressive, its catchy as hell, its really fun and the songs themselves are really good. It not just wacky and novelty value only or something. These are really good songs. Some of those thick fat satisfying riffs are really enjoyable. Just listen to the appropriately titled ‘Heavy’ for the perfect example.

I’d like to point out highlights, such as ‘Charlie Don’t Surf,’ ‘Beotch’ and ‘Feel Like Bob Marley’ but to be honest no two songs on the album even sound the same. I mean, they fit together, and it flows well, but that diversity thing I mentioned? Yeah, that!

Hey I’m a Nu Metal apologist who can still happily listen to The Union Underground, but this isn’t that. This is like listening to King For A Day Fool For A Life Time at the same time as listening to Power Trip and The Elephant Riders, a collection of Pink Floyd B Sides and flicking through a dozen radio stations and catching fleeting glimpses of a range of music outside of rock, such as funk and soul. Then occasionally something not too dissimilar to the riff from ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ comes in and ties it all together.

If you want to hear something really fun and interesting you could really do a lot worse than Sons Of The Pioneers. Its a one-of-a-kind that’s for sure. As long as you aren’t terrified of everything that doesn’t sound like Burzum or indeed of everything that doesn’t sound like Manowar, I think you’ll really enjoy this underrated gem.

Edguy – Hellfire Club Review

Posted: September 26, 2017 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Metal - Studio, Rock, Rock Studio

220px-Edguy_Hellfire_Club_coverEdguy are a Power Metal band from Germany, headed up by Tobias Samet (also known for Avantasia), and Hellfire Club is their sixth album. The 2004 effort is one of their best in terms of enjoyability and quality, and is interesting in their discography looking back, as it serves as a bridge between their Power Metal early days and their Hard Rock tinged later days, and also sees the band’s silly side come a bit more to the fore.

There are some very fine Power Metal moments on here, and there are some very fine Hard Rock-ifed moments. There are also some tracks that balance them both, in a mature and semi-progressive way similar to their previous album, 2001’s Mandrake, most notably the ten-minute ‘The Piper Never Dies.’ Its sort of a great midpoint between their various different styles and ambitions without being too far in any one direction and therefor it is very originally Edguy without any influences hanging obviously off sleeves.

The production job on the album is very big and radio ready, matching the stadium-focused choruses that have started to find their way in to the music. A huge memorable chorus like that of single ‘Lavatory Love Machine’ (a song about ‘the mile high club’ with a comic lyrical style) sounds gigantic on this record. Its a far cry from the thin and wirey dueling guitars of classics from Theater Of Salvation (a production style perfect in its own right, but for very different music). The band are fleshed out by a guest orchestra which gives things a bit of extra depth and bombast.

Highlights include ‘Down To The Devil’ which has a fiendishly catchy chorus, as well as the foot-to-the-floor ‘We Don’t Need A Hero’ which is one of the better tunes on here and the guitar work is noteworthy. Lastly, the cheesily-titled ‘The Rise Of The Morning Glory’ which I feel is the exact mid point of every thing going on here and the go-to tester track you should listen to if you want to get an idea of whether or not you’d enjoy this.

Overall; this is definitely one of the band’s better albums in terms of sheer song quality, riffs, memorable choruses and big hooks. Its not their most traditionally Power Metal release ever but isn’t so far away from the formula that it would be off-putting either like some of their albums **Cough**Tinnitus Sanctus**Cough** (and what it lacks in that department it makes up for in creativity and fun). The orchestral addition adds a lot, and the production is humongous.

Ps. If you can, try and get the version with bonus tracks so you can hear Kreator’s Mille Petroza join in on ‘Mysteria’ as well as the bonus track ‘Children Of Steel’ which is one of the most traditional Heavy Metal songs the band have written to date.

Disturbed – Asylum Review

Posted: September 26, 2017 by kingcrimsonprog in Metal, Metal - Studio, Music Reviews, Rock, Rock Studio

Disturbed_Asylum_Album_CoverAsylum is the popular American Nu Metal band Disturbed’s fifth full-length studio album, it came out in 2010 on Reprise Records and was their final album before their hiatus and eventual reunion and sonic rejuvination. When this album first came out I gave it a miss and skipped over the album, having became a bit numb to the band or their charm but catching them live after their reunion warmed me to the much made-fun-of band again and I subsequently decided to see what I’d been missing.

Musically it is very much in the same direction as their usual formula. A lot of press at the time described it as a bit more elongated or progressive or mature, but basically, it sounds like a typical Disturbed album. The musicianship however has gotten stronger over the years with the drums getting more rhythmically complex and the guitar solos getting more masterful. Draiman’s vocal ability gets stronger and stronger with each release. I’d argue the lyrics are also stronger than they were in the beginning.

Overall, on first impression, the album struck me as pretty decent. Not perfect, but still stronger than I had been hoping for. I guess reviews at the time from neutral parties were fairly positive but all I’d been reading or listening to was from people who didn’t like the band to begin with really.

Disturbed have had a mixed history with cover songs, there was the very maligned ‘Shout’ but then there was the very successful ‘Land Of Confusion’ and five years after this album came the absolute smash hit in ‘The Sound Of Silence.’ On this record, they drop a U2 cover in the form of ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ which for me doesn’t really work and is nowhere near as strong as the original material. I guess its a hidden track technically but still, I could’ve lived without it. Personal taste issue. Not for me.

The aforementioned original material however is pretty interesting though. The lead single, the environmentally conscious ‘Another Way To Die’ is pretty damn catchy and memorable. The holocaust-themed ‘Never Again’ is arguably one of their best to date (pretty lucky really, you wouldn’t want to fumble a song about such a serious subject). The title-track and the succinct ‘Warrior’ are typical but notably strong Disturbed fayer.

As with all of the band’s records, there maybe aren’t enough ideas to fill a whole full-length. There’s a little bit of filler and not every single moment is an immortal classic. There’s always about half an album’s worth of stuff that would be rousing and welcome live and would fit in any Best Of album or Playlist, and there’s always at least a quarter of the album that you overlook after the first few weeks. Asylum is no exception. I’d be lying to you if I said I loved every moment, or that there’s no song from it I wouldn’t want to see live.

What you do get on Asylum however, is another five or six really great Disturbed moments to add into the collection. Nothing to engage or convert non-fans and nothing to make you shout ‘best Disturbed album ever!’ but it is certainly a worthwhile and entertaining entry in their discography and not one that should be overlooked. ‘Never Again’ on its own is almost worth the price of admission. This is the band at their most practiced, developed, and perfected. At the height of their vocal and instrumental prowess, delivering another great bunch of songs. It isn’t their best and doesn’t have the raw charm of their earliest works or the renewed energy of their reunion album, but is certainly not a record that deserves to be forgotten or overlooked.

220px-BlackCountryCommunionIVI absolutely loved Black Country Communion and was gutted when they split up. Their music was so fresh, vibrant and energetic despite its obvious homage to the past and they really were just about the best Hard Rock band doing the whole ’70s-worship sound of recent years. All three of their albums from before their split have at least five songs that are among my favorite ever songs and which are better than just about any of the classic ’70s band’s modern output for my personal taste.

How happy was I then, when I heard they were getting back together. I remember reading on Blabbermouth all around the time of their split (and yet again when California Breed, a band with some of the same members, formed) about how lead guitarist and occasional singer Joe Bonamasa was too famous and busy in his own right to give Black Country Communion the time, as his schedule simply wouldn’t allow it. I remember hoping for the day he’d have the time again. Well, thank goodness its all sorted and we have more from this band. You can see the phoenix on the cover illustrating the band’s reformation.

There’s a certain magic when Glen Hughes, Jason Bonham, Derik Sherinian and Joe Bonamasa get together, (only heightened by ‘fifth member of the band,’ producer Keven Shirley). The bass and drums match styles perfectly, the keys accentuate the vocals so well, the guitar and key solos fit well together, both vocalist’s styles gel, the guitar works so well with the rhythm section. Its all so perfectly balanced, and thanks to the roomy production it all sounds so big and warm.

Basically; this reunion record has a lot of expectations to live up to. On first listen its nice to hear they are keeping up the same style of music and doing the same sort of thing. Its not suddenly taken a rap or electronic turn, they haven’t chucked it all away and went pop or something. Its exactly what you’d hope for, stylstically.

There’s plenty of depth, characther and a fair bit of variety. A lot of the tracks stretch out a bit, many lasting seven or eight minutes. There’s a nice balance of slow and fast, of hard and soft, of thoughtful and of instantaneous. There’s moments that lean a bit more into each of the member’s individual territories and there’s moments when its a mixture of all.

After knocking you over the head (no pun intended) with two mid paced Hard Rockers, for example, they drop a very interesting folky number. If you liked ‘The Battle Hadrian’s Wall’ then you are sure to dig ‘The Last Song for My Resting Place.’ If you like things a bit slower, sexier and well, blusier then at the album’s midway point they drop ‘The Cove’ which has some seriosuly good guitar and very atmospheric keys. Eight-minute album closer ‘When The Morning Comes’ starts out on a slow and sombre note before kicking off.

If you like the band at their faster and heavier however (think ‘The Outsider’ or ‘Confessor’) then they’ve got that here too, on ‘Sway.’ ‘The Crow’ does it too, sounding initially like a rip-off of RATM’s ‘Bulls On Parade’ before hitting the gas and running away with the speed.

I think my favourite track has to be either ‘Over My Head’ with its fun stop-start verses and its catchy ‘yeah-e-eah’ hook, or else ‘Awake’ which doesn’t really sound like anything they’ve done before, it starts off jaunty and almost indie rock but has a kind of ‘Achilles’ Last Stand‘ vibe in the verses and then goes into a full-on Yes meets Dream Theater solo-trade-off.

Overall; BCCIV had a lot of high expectations to meet, and luckily it holds up really well. They do what they do best, they try some new things, they balance all the different shades of their sound well and present an entertaining record that keeps you guessing but that fits together into a stylish hour long journey. The quality of the material is damn strong, the musicianship is exemplary, the production job is of course perfect and even though I’m biased and just glad to have the band back, I’d say this is absolutely good enough to sit alongside their previous work. I’d recommend checking it out if you’ve ever been a fan!

220px-RobZombieVRRVCoverArtVenomous Rat Regeneration Vendor is the fifth studio album by the American Industrial Metal legend Rob Zombie, it came out in 2013 and was produced by Bob Marlette (Filter, Alice Cooper, Iommi). Personally, this is my favourite of all the Rob Zombie albums, with the strongest set of songs, the least filler and the best choruses.

This album sees Ginger Fish join the band on drums (the second Marilyn Manson alumnus to join after guitarist John 5) which is a nice addition indeed. It mostly follows the usual stompy fun sample-filled Rob Zombie formula musically (but delivers a concise, focused, above average quality version of that formula) and also takes a strange turn lyrically and it the artwork and goes in a sort of ’60s/LSD-fueled direction. The main difference musically between earlier records is the higher frequency of keyboard and organ sounds giving it a retro feel. Sort of the same thing Monster Magnet sometimes tap in to, for example on ‘See You In Hell’ from their famous Powertrip album.

Sometimes, with Rob Zombie, there are real highlights on albums and making a greatest hits set or cherry picking the best moments is super easy but here its harder to choose because literally every song here is great. Its almost hard to pick something. For me, my absolute favourite track is the Ridicously catchy (even with the gibberish lyrics) ‘Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga’ …its such a well built song. The section where the chorus kicks in but there’s only drums and vocals feels so anthemic. The speedy keyboard-fueled lead single ‘Dead City Radio & The New Gods Of Supertown’ and their rousing cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s ‘We’re An American Band’ complete with fun as hell cowbell are also worth mentioning. However, picking favourites is really just deciding which mood you are in today because this is seriously strong from start to finish.

Compared to some of the other famous Industrial stars, its less progressive, less artistic, and less challenging, but don’t forget a heck of a lot more fun. This album in particular is like a greatest hits set in terms of quality and consistency. If you want some damn catchy and memorable, totally fun, simple and entertaining music with an Industrial Metal flavouring on the top its worth exploring Rob Zombie and if you like Rob Zombie or indeed if want to check him out, in my opinion this is his best work to date and I heartily recommend it.

r-9299096-1481877844-1972-jpegWhen I first heard of Motley Crue I didn’t like them. I was young, Nu Metal was what the Magazines were saying was cool and anything Glam or Hair related was advertised as being terrible, cliched, sexist nonsense for old men who had all grown out of rock music now and were embarrassed to admit they used to like it. That’s what I was told anyway, and though it turns out that this idea was very much a caricature of the real situation I was fool enough to believe it an ignored the band for the next decade or so. Eventually a friend bought me their biography, The Dirt, and I read it since I usually enjoy a good band book and it was rather famous in and of itself as a book so I was tempted to try even if I wasn’t a fan of the band. Upon reading I instantly grew to dislike the band. Cheating, stealing, rude, ungrateful, disrespectful of other’s hard work and property, they didn’t seem like nice people (apparently I forgot about the whole Rock N Roll thing… because everyone else who read the book said ‘Wow, what a badass’ where I thought ‘You are the opposite of an upstanding citizen’). It did make me wonder why anybody liked the band, and that lead me to listen to their music.

…Oh. It all made sense now. Songs like ‘Bastard,’ ‘Red Hot,’ ‘Use It Or Loose It’ and ‘Live Wire’ all tapped into my love of Speed Metal and NWOBHM with their familiar sound… pounding drums, chugging guitars, shouting vocals. What do you mean they toured with Saxon in the early days!? ….That let me in the door and soon I discovered the rest and gladly so. Oh, songs like Don’t Go Away Mad are like an updated version of Kiss… it all makes sense.

Fast forward a few years and its time to review The End, the final concert from the final tour in the storied and legendary band’s career. Available in many formats, CD, Vinyl, DVD and Blu Ray, normal and deluxe editions, there’s many ways to buy this. For me it was standard edition Blu Ray.

Sonically; its very good. The music is clear, big and well-produced. Its got umph. The mix is just right. Visually; its a treat. The picture is excellent, the camera work is on point, the editing is well done (maybe I could loose a few of the slow motion shots but that’s just personal taste) and the actual content of the show is very visually interesting… there’s flames, a specially designed stage with spikes and pentagrams and the band’s name, there’s lazers and even a rollercoaster. The band tower above the crowd on cherrypickers a one point. Its a very big Rock N’ Roll show to match the likes of Kiss, Rammstein and Rob Zombie.

The setlist is quite strong, lots of material from the first four albums, Primal Scream, and a few from the more recent Saints Of Los Angeles. Basically, only material by the full ‘classic line up.’ More or less hit after hit. In terms of less-famous songs they even play my favourite Crue non-single ‘Louder Than Hell’ off of the underrated Theater Of Pain.

So; it looks good, it sounds good and they play good songs. Sounds perfect, right? Well… uh, here’s the thing. The performance is a bit patchy. Maybe even a lot patchy. I mean, Motley Crue are good performers as entertainers… the flame-thrower bass guitar and the crowd interaction and the first pumping excitement raising is all very good in terms of live performance. Its just, the key thing, y’know, playing the songs, where it falls down for me. There’s numerous musical fluffs and mistakes and missed ques. There’s questionable reworkings of classic songs that might’ve made ’em feel updated but miss the mark (‘Shout At The Devil’ I’m lookin at you!) and Vince’s vocals are very sloppy. I have a lot of good will for him and don’t want to slag him off unnecessarily, but man, he is so out of breath, misses so many lines, delivers so many lines in an inappropriate pitch or tone or volume, overall just does not sing these songs either as well as on record or indeed, very well at all.

You could probably forgive a few fluffed transitions and you can get over a few of the questionable moments like Vince doing a happy sexy dance to the word ‘rape’ if you keep in your mind its a concert and not everything would be absolutely perfect, but the singing is such a let down it really is a bit of a deal breaker for me. You can add a few more points if you are a diehard fan I guess, but you can also detract a few if you are a fan of any album between ‘Feelgood and ‘Saints.

I also find the drum solo very… um, well. Drum solos should usually be about showing how well you can play the drums, not just playing along to some dubstep. The rollercoaster was cool and I guess its difficult to play a virtuosic solo when you are upside down, but seriously who comes to Motely Crue wanting to hear dubstep? Maybe I’m nitpicking. Its interesting that they caught on film the one time it goes wrong and Tommy gets stuck in midair like an amusement park malfunction. Its just hard to imagine that it was pitched to the right audience maybe.

I go through two different moods when watching this. First, the cynical mood – ‘Wow, look at those passed-their-prime guys who all hate eachother showing up for the money and not even being on-point musically’ and then the more optimistic ‘Wow, look at those guys up there putting aside their differences to give the fans what they want, and so what if they don’t play perfectly as they put on a big enough spectacle to compensate.’ Sometimes it varies from viewing to viewing, and sometimes it varies from song to song in a single viewing, but I never have settled into deciding which way I feel definitively, and I never did stop viewing.

So that’s the concert. What about the bonus features? Well, there’s a quick four-minute feature about the Flamethrower Bass which is just Nicky talking about his history with pyro and why the one in this concert is the best. Then there’s a similar five-and a-half minute feature on Tommy’s drum rollercoaster and why visuals are important to a live audience. The best feature is a 35 minute interview section with the band where they answer all sorts of questions ans start reflecting on their history and how far they’ve come. None of these features are deal-breakers that you’d buy the disc over if you didn’t want the concert, but are welcome enough for a one-off watch.

Overall; There’s a lot to recommend this concert on – a setlist of mainly hits, a great sound and look, a big rock spectacle, historical significance etc. There’s a few bonus features to add some extra value for money. There’s also a pretty big downside however – the band and especially the singer don’t do as good a job as you’d hope. Whether you can put up with that is up to you. Or like me, maybe you buy it anyway and struggle to figure out if you can put up with it while still watching it a lot.

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The Zombie Horror Picture Show is a live release by the Industrial Metal band Rob Zombie. It was filmed in Texas and released in 2014 on DVD and Blu Ray, his first full concert video release. The Blu Ray version is in 1080p with DTS HD Master 5.1, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and PCM stereo options.

Live CDs are great, but Rob Zombie has always been about spectacle, about visual, about putting on a show. It just makes more sense to release it in a visual medium. Here’s a list of things you can find on this concert film: Multiple costume changes (including prosthetic Nosferatu ears and a light-up mouth-guard) …when the band are already decoratively dressed and wearing make up to begin with; Multiple screens (showing a mixture of crowd footage, scenes from the music videos and dedicated footage such as horror imagery, strip tease, psychedelic visualizers and karaoke sing along prompts), light-up guitars, a see-through drum kit (which also has pentagrams projected onto it at one stage), balloons, confetti, fireworks and pyro and steam cannons, lights and lasers, customized mic-stands, fake snow falling, hired dancers in big puppet costumes, a giant prop that says ‘Zombie’ on it, a giant radio prop, a giant skeletal podium prop and even a giant steampunk-robot-chariot that drives around the stage and can move its head around. That’s more than most bands do in a whole career these days.

Its a very visual concert, with a lot to take in. The editing and camera work is all very high-budget stuff, lots of different angles available, movement, concentrating on the right parts of the song. There’s the occasional grainy film filters, or psychedelic looking screen mirrored down the middle or what have you, and during the intro, outro and a small selection of the more quiet parts it’ll cut to footage from the road. Its a very good looking film, well put together, not too stylized but not to plain. Very in keeping with Zombie’s tastes and artwork (Which makes sense seeing as Zombie himself directed it). Perhaps, there’s a few too many titty-shots. … a much higher proportion than normal really. If that’s off-putting to you then this aint the concert for you I fear, as there’s no getting around it here.

The band, featuring drummer Ginger Fish and guitarist John 5 (Hey, remember how cool Marilyn Manson was live when those two were in the band!?) as well as bassist Piggy D are all on top form, no free rides! Rob himself performs well and enthusiastically, really getting into it, dancing, interacting with the audience, going into the crowd etc. His vocals, which have been criticized on previous live releases are very strong here, and not a weak link at all. From everyone involved its a good performance, and the crowd seem into it.

The setlist is great; out of all of ‘Zombie’s live albums this has the most wide-ranging setlist, covering five solo albums and two White Zombie albums. Across its 80 minute length you’ll find all the hits you’d expect like ‘Dragula,’ ‘Living Dead Girl,’ ‘Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy),’ ‘Sick Bubblegum’ etc. There’s material from the then-new album Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor (including a really storming rendition of ‘Dead City Radio…’). There’s also a brief drum solo and a slightly longer guitar solo where John 5 really gets to shred. There’s the popular Grand Funk cover of ‘We’re An American Band.’ The Educated Horses album is the least drawn-from album but then there was already a live album from that touring cycle so its good not to just repeat the same setlist twice. Everyone’s tastes are different and I’d personally have loved to add in ‘Scum Of The Earth’ and ‘Werewolf Women of the SS’ but otherwise it is a pretty amazing selection.

Sound wise, its is decent. The White Zombie covers sound nice and thick, and the more organic material from his solo catalogue fairs really well. Some of the more industrial sections maybe sound different live than on record but not in any way that spoils them. My only minor gripe is that my favourite ‘Zombie song, the very catchy ‘Ding Dang Dong De Do Gong De Laga Raga’ isn’t just as crunchy and massive live. Its good, but not just as satisfying. I think its just because there’s only one guitar track live and in the studio they can beef it up with more. Minor nitpick at most though.

There isn’t much in the way of extras at all, just a gallery, not even a booklet with linear notes or anything, but to be honest I bought it for the concert in the first place so that’s ok I guess.

Overall, in terms of set,sound, performance, spectacle, visuals and editing this is a very good concert film and I highly recommend it. If you are a fan already it is pretty perfect and as an introduction to the band it serves as a pretty high quality ‘greatest hits’ package with a nice career spanning collection of songs to give you a flavour for different eras.