Posts Tagged ‘chris adler’

MegadethDystopia.pngWell, for those fans looking forward to a blistering ‘holy cow’ return-to-form story, there may be some disappointment. Despite the interesting new band line-up with Angra’s Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God’s excellent drummer Chris Adler; Dystopia, Megadeth’s fifteenth full-length studio album is not necessarily the career highlight that hype and wishful thinking may have lead us all to believe.

The new lineup is great and not gimmicky, but its still the Mustaine show here on Dystopia. Band-leader Mustaine still writes a huge percentage of the music, so despite the line-up, it doesn’t suddenly sound much like Angra or Lamb Of God either, although you can definitely pick up on their involvement during breakdowns or solos if you’re paying attention.

With that out of the way, Dystopia is a good album. Of course it is. It’s a Megadeth album that isn’t Risk, of course it’s a good album. Its more or less the same Megadeth album that the last four ones have been, with about the same level of similarity and difference as each of the last four have had with each other. Its slightly heavier than 2013’s Supercollider, its slightly more consistent than 2011’s Thirteen and slightly thrashier than 2007’s United Abominations, but when all is said and done, its relatively similar to them all, especially the less famous mid-album stuff. 2009’s Endgame is arguably the closest record to this stylistically in the Medageth catalogue; thrashy yet modern, ‘fast’ on paper but still varied and with plenty of mid-tempo moments, energetic and revitalized but not necessarily earth-shattering. They’re arguably quite similar in quality too, as well as stylistically.

If you’ve enjoyed Megadeth’s recent output, this is good. Its good for me, I’ve been really keen on all the recent albums personally. If you only like a particular period such as the ‘80s or ‘90s however, I’d give up now because despite the hype there’s not that much difference here to anything the band have turned-in since the millennium.

There are a few interesting moments here and there, such as a touch of piano and spoken-word at the end of ‘Poison Shadow’ or some Spanish guitar at the beginning of the instrumental ‘Conquer Or Die’ but again, nothing you haven’t heard before from a band with such a long and storied career as Megadeth …who have covered a lot of ground already in their time. Apart from having a cover of Fear’s ‘Foreign Policy’ at the end, which admittedly fits in well thematically with the majority of the rest of the record’s tone anyway, the album doesn’t particularly have any stand out moments or obvious hits, it isn’t an album of highlights and filler, it feels very consistent, and benefits from being absorbed in a single listening session rather than picked and chosen from. That’s a good thing though, this is a good album that works well as an album, that is good all the way through and that feels like a complete ‘whole.’

With all of that being said, its then understandably hard choose favourite tracks from Dystopia; for me ‘Lying In State’ is one of the strongest, a track which sounds very close to the style of the faster stuff on 2004’s The System Has Failed, and has lead guitar lines that don’t sound much like any previous Megadeth material. Another noteworthy track would be the fun, bouncy ‘The Emperor’ which feels like the better Thirteen material and would sit rather nicely beside ‘Whose Life Is It Anyway?’ in concert.

Overall; Dystopia is another post millennial Megadeth album of strong quality that satisfies on every level, but that probably won’t go down in the history books. The guitars are sharper, the vocals have more snarl and the lyrics are a bit more politicized than Supercollider for example, but I think ‘business as usual’ is a fairer summation of the record than ‘best album since…’ because, for me at least, Megadeth have been dishing out high quality, enjoyable, entertaining albums of this quality all along.

Now that I’ve covered the spend/temptation/distraction aspects of Get (Into) What You Paid For, its time to cover the titular aspect, by which I mean I’m getting back to reevaluating old purchases which I overlook, and try to get my money’s worth out of them.

S- AHiG

In honour of the return of Slipknot, I’ll kick things off by re-listening to their fourth real album, 2008’s All Hope Is Gone.

It opens with “.execute.” Their first two albums had clearly “intro” intros, and on their third they essentially made a proper song instead but acted like it was an intro. Here, they take the route Lamb Of God took on Resolution and confusingly stick the drum-introduction to a song (track 2, “Gematria (The Killing Name)”) in a previous track (track 1, “.execute.”) while simultaneously sort of re-doing the intro to “Pulse Of The Maggots.”

A few thoughts…. I wonder if Craig titled this intro? Why not just have this be part of “Gematria (The Killing Name)” like they did with “Pulse Of The Maggots”? When they play “Gematria (The Killing Name)” live, do they actually play that drum intro, or play that bit over the speakers and start where the CD cuts the two tracks?

[Quick side note – In my iTunes, “Pulse Of The Maggots” is now split into two different tracks, “Pulse Of The Maggots” preceded by “Intro Of The Maggots” which separates the speech into a separate skippable track, because… song.

Also, I do the same with Slayer’s “Hell Awaits.” The intro is “Awaiting Hell.”]

Anyway… The song opens nicely, with a sort of complex intro like they liked to do so much on Vol. 3 The Subliminal Verses. I like all the pinch harmonics. I think the quick d-beat bit is really out of place. I remember my brother really hating the lyric about “cigarette ash.” Listening to the song now, apart from the vague idea that it is pretending to be heavier than it is, I like this song. I like the fact that it has guitar solos. I like the DJ scratches. I like the catchy bits and the heavy bits. I like the big groove around 3.40. It might better (tighter) if it ended after that instead of continuing, but I think it’s a good song nonetheless.

Next up comes “Sulpher” which was never off music TV when this album came out. I remember being so sick of this song due to how overplayed it became. Now? Nice Death influenced intro. Brilliant main verse. The radio chorus, despite y’know…being a radio chorus… is awesome! I forgot that. I remember it being a sort of two-faced light/shade affair, but I didn’t remember that both sides were good. Nice guitar solo too, and the part under it is neat. Again, the Machine Head influenced big groove (which actually IS the ending this time) is awesome.

OK. Another good song. Call that the first two songs and it’s a 100% success rate so far. I’d easily put both of these in a “Best Of Slipknot” tracklist.

How about track four? “Psychosocial.” I remember thinking that this was trying a bit too hard to replicate the success of Duality. The main riff is actually kind of Ministry or Rob Zombie flavoured if you pay attention. The chorus, hmmm…. Its delicious but so out of place. Oh well, I like it. Who am I trying to please here? Some Blabbermouth troll in an Obituary t-shirt or MY EARS?

More lead-guitar goodness. Hoorah. The midsection with all the snares is cool. A bit “Hey, people enjoy The Blister Exists, what else can we do?” but hey, its cool. Get over it My Brain!

Also luckily, now, its been so long since I’ve watched music TV that its no-longer overplayed AND I’ve forgotten the viral video where its mashed-up with Justin Beiber. So its just a song. A good song.

Next up is “Dead Memories.” “Dead Memories” is awesome. Really nice drums. Some of the best Corey clean vocals in this band. Even though I struggle to accept this song as Slipknot and not Stone Sour and have a sort of principle thing against it, this song is excellent and I love it. Also…boy, oh boy was this thing overplayed at the time.

Wow. I’m really enjoying this record actually. I always think of it as their worst. The career nadir. Its not that bad, and I’ve just listened to the “one with the stupid lyrics” and the three overplayed ones. Now come the deep-cuts!

First up – “Vendetta.” Swirly, death-influenced intro riffs. Stompy feel. Kicks into a great main verse. It could do with having heavier vocals, I remember that being a discussion point against it at the time. I remember the first time I listened to it, in a cramped, smelly room. I remember thinking the band have lost their heaviness.

I think the song also takes a bit too long to get to the chorus. I like the chorus though. Could do with better lyrics… but whatever. I really enjoy this song. I don’t ever remember that this one is called “Vendetta” but I do remember every second of music. I like 80% of said music. This is a good track. The worst thing I could think about it at all is that some of the segments change jarringly, but even that’s stretching it.

“Butcher’s Hook” comes next. The first “weird one.” The Skunkworks one. All Slipknot albums have a few “weird ones.” Going right back to the demos, there was always a love of creepy, off tracks. Every album has a “Tattered And Torn” or “Skin Ticket” or “The Virus Of Life.” The ironic weird thing about this weird track is that it weirdly has a commercial chorus of sorts and despite its clear and obvious weirdness, it is somehow a normal song. If you follow. Its either deceptively digestible despite its progressive nature, or only weird in a token check-box way but actually a normal song. Either way, every part of it is good. I like it. I think of it as this album’s “The Shape.” “The Shape” was weird as balls but could fool you if you weren’t paying attention. But then I guess that’s this band. If you don’t concentrate, you miss the depth and subtleties of a nine-member band who hate conventional song structure and sneak in odd time-sigs without boasting about it.

“Gehenna” is next. It is a slow, creepy one. The lyrics feel like a sequel to the track “Iowa” but the music sounds like a sequel to “Vermillion” with a bit of “Virus Of Life” style synth in there too. The slow, drony verses have a Sci-Fi feel. That one bit where they keep throwing in the heavy snare rolls but going back to the slow dirge is cool. Then it does its own version of a clean chorus (kind of) and becomes a normal song. It kind of steals the song’s weirdness. But the vocal specifics and the part which follow it make me think its trying to be like Antichrist Superstar’s pained outcast artist vibe, and that its all a bit “Minute Of Decay” and we’re unfairly treating it as “Everlong”

Who is we? … cripes, I’m going a bit crazy here! You know what I mean right? I think on the one hand it seems deceptively commercial, but on the other hand it isn’t, its just clean prog not noisy prog. There! I’m not crazy, I’m just dorky! (And trying to please an imaginary, disapproving, super-nerd by protesting too much… totally a normal thing to do!)

Anyway, that song is fine. Not great, but not worth cutting either.

“This Cold Black” follows. This seems like a nice “Metabolic” or “Deluded” or “Welcome.” The good Slipknot. The deep cuts. The “this is Slipknot at their most Slipknot” Slipknot. That Slipknot.

I like this song a lot. The variety in the vocals is cool. I wonder if its Clown or Chris doing the backups, or just Corey putting on a funny voice? The chorus is a bit odd. Sort of jagged, and out of nowhere, and yet its catchy, and when it leaves it makes the next bit sound cooler by contrast. That and the build up with the broken key lyrics over it is cool. A build-up that doesn’t build up? Nice one!

Also, hooray for guitar solos and fast parts! Then that staccato part is nice. And the deathy transition riff doesn’t feel forced either. Definitely one of the better songs on the record. Shame it won’t get played a lot live.

“Wherein Lies Continue” comes. Comes like creepy mutant. Well, not that creepy actually. Pseudo-creepy. This is oddly tame, but still clearly another Skunkworks type thing. Its quite “Virus Of Life.” The heaviest of the three, its like Tattered And Torn if that wasn’t creepy. It does that clean chorus trick the previous ones did. The clean chorus is good though, so what’s the problem brain-jerk? The bit that follows that chorus is awesome. I love those multi-percussion bits in Slipknot. Then, wham! Another Machine Head influenced groove ending! Its not the ending…but, y’know it should be. And then it is, later, when it comes back…because OF COURSE IT SHOULD BE. Also some trippy robot-duck guitar hidden in there too, because layering.

“Snuff” follows. It is awesome. It has always been since first listen my favourite song on the album. Interestingly, for someone with so much difficulty accepting the clean vocals and commercial leanings of the album, my unashamed, un-ironic, honest favourite thing on the whole record is a ballad. A brilliant, powerful, non-cheesy and totally dramatic cinematic ballad. It is awesome. A masterpiece. Well done for writing it Slipknot! No matter what score you’d award this album, it is hugely boosted by this gem. There is more brilliance here than on the full rest of the record combined…. Kind of like how Motely Crue themselves think about Home Sweet Home/Theater Of Pain.

Then to close up the album, comes the final track, the Title Track, “All Hope Is Gone.” It has one of those Vol. 3 complex intros. It has speed. It has DJ scratches. It has noisy blast beats and death influenced riffs in the verses. The chorus is strangely a weird rolling post-chorus. Its quite impressive actually. Oh, that’s why, because its not the chorus, because there’s a groove, with a clean vocal instead. The whole bit before and under (during) the guitar solo is awesome, even if the solo itself isn’t amazing. Then a bit that is so massively Slipknot that it defies further comparison. What did Slipknot add to music that wasn’t there before, you ask? That! This bit!

OK. That song is decent too. This third and final time the chorus comes in its actually cool. I wonder would the song be better if that was the only time it was there though? Oh who cares…stop being so picky, jerkwad. This is a good song. This is a good album. Its still their worst. But now only by a hair instead of by a considerable margin. Jerk off, jerky jerk-impression! Your false memories, prejudice against Corey’s clean singing and sickness at the overplaying of the singles is now not how this album is. How this album is, is good!

PS. Oh yeah, and the bonus track, “Child Of Burning Time” which is pretty much Vermillion again. Only better. Maybe this should’ve been on it instead of “Gehenna” and also should’ve been a single? Considering that enjoying money is a thing…

Also, the decision to put a remix of a song from a track from a previous album in-between two proper songs from this album’s sessions is insane and so I’ve disallowed this madness from my iTunes. That song is put on the end of Vol. 3. The next song here is “Til We Die” because that makes much more sense.

“Til We Die” starts out like a creepy-ass sea-side song, in an alcoholic’s memories. Then suddenly turns into a powerful, real-song version of the intro from Vol. 3. (More real, I mean). It is awesome. This, the previous one, Dead Memories and Snuff are the best material here. They are better than all the ones that actually sound like Slipknot. Maybe they should’ve sold out harder…not tried to hide it with blast beats and death riffs.

[Or maybe it’s a good balance you knee-jerk reacting jerkhole. Maybe they aren’t “covering it up” but rather just mixing two things they enjoy.]

STOP HITTING YOURSELF, NUTCASE!

E – BbB

Next, from something with lots of derision to something with universal credibility in our world; Think 1985… Exodus’ Bonded By Blood.

At the time, even in the deepest throes of my Thrash-passion, from my first days of Thrash Obsession, I always felt that this album was poor. The title track was one of the best songs ever written by anyone and then the rest of the album was dull repetitive cack and the band were much better off on the fantastic next two records, Pleasure Of The Flesh & Fabulous Disaster.

Well; one listen and yup, the Title Track is fantastic. Perfect. No further comments, your honour. The defense rests.

The next song, the song actually called “Exodus,” opens up with a riff that kind of sounds like Dave Mustaine. The vocals are weirdly produced, painfully too-loud and kind of in a metal box. Not Metal. Just metal. That Mustainey riff is fun. The bit of the chorus with the “Get In The Way…” is catchy and sort of punky. I also like the little Iron Maiden-esque jangle before “…and Exodus attack.”

The song has a great guitar solo too. If the vocals were produced normally this would be a pretty perfect Thrash song. The deh-neh-nay-ne-neh thing sounds like early Overkill, which is a bonus. And some of the drum fills here are absolutely bad ass. The song only seems dull and repetitive but all the little touches really make it.

Then there’s the nuclear-themed “And Then There Were None” which opens up with a nice chugging riff augmented by a Tom pattern that I’m sure turns up on Nirvana’s Bleach album somewhere. Love Buzz, maybe? This is perfect mid-paced Thrash. It would be good DVD menu music. Or good under-the-narrator in a Thrash Documentary music.

Its kind of weird that the backing vocals just sing the melody. Like at an Iron Maiden concert…but in the studio. “AAAAAH, ah-ahhh-ah-ah-a-a.”

The whole adventurous mid-section and the fast bit which follows are excellent. I love it during the solo. This is a good song. I remember always wanting to turn the record off afterward though. I think it has that problem of the last few Exodus records that the song is just slightly too long. Of all Exodus records. Sometimes they have a song that’s just too long. They’re awesome, but sometimes they need an editor. Only sometimes.

Next comes one of the band’s then-signature songs (the other being “Piranha”) if my memory of various magazine articles from the time I bought this holds up, “A Lesson In Violence.” I remember resenting this song as a teenager for not being as awesome as it should be given how fond the band seemed to be of it. Interestingly, looking back now, these two are the two shortest and presumably therefor tightest tracks on the album. Free from that too-long thing then!

Oh yes, and the chorus is catchy and awesome. I remember hating the lyrics at first impression (essentially rhyming “lesson in violence” with “lesson in violence”) but now that I’m used to it for years and years, its just music, and that music is good. Also, I like the riffs, the speed and the solos. This is a good song. Bonded by Blood is better but this is still a deserving signature track. Consider me converted. Its great not being 14 anymore, isn’t it? 12 years in the future is a beautiful thing, ey?

Next comes “Metal Command” which I remember thinking sounding dodgy, but now it is charming and NWOBHMy and a sort of missing-link moment like early Overkill. Also the production on the solo is awesome and the brief little neoclassical noodle at the very end of the solo is neat. This song just got stars in my iTunes.

The aforementioned “Piranha” makes its appearance next. This song’s opening riff is kind of Slayer/Sodom/Kreator. It is for the mean-Thrash crowd. The people who don’t necessarily like Anthrax as much as they might. Then it kicks into a more bouncy part. The chorus is catchy. There are way too many effects on the vocals, but that’s a very minor complaint. Also, nice solo. The H-team always were awesome at guitar solos. This album in general is way better than my first impression of it was. I wonder if it was just the whole line-up changes thing messing my brain around with Exodus, causing side-choosing.

[Side note: Ohhh, ooooh. Remember that whole intro thing, like “Awaiting Hell”? etc. I do that with Exodus’ “Deranged” because…that intro makes me skip the whole of Deranged when really I should only skip the intro.]

Next up, a nice bit of variety. “No Love” opens up with a nice, fancy, tasteful Spanish Guitar, clean intro. That was a big thing on Thrash openers wasn’t it? – Sometimes separate tracks, sometimes not. – Pleasure To Kill, Alice In Hell, Ride The Lightning etc… they all have that. A little bit of Spanish guitar before the Thrash. I wonder why they didn’t make this the first track then?

Maybe they did, and then they realized that the title track was so absolutely fantastic that nobody had time to wait for it, and so that just HAD TO be the first track?

Anyway, once the Metal-bit starts, it’s a bit more midpaced again. In a slightly off time-sig that reminds me of a specific Dream Theater moment on Awake which I can’t remember right now. Also, the way he say’s “The Darkness Is My Lover” is clearly influenced by Accept. I would have never noticed that before. Also it sounds like he says “Leather” and not “Lover.”

Oh, there’s a neat NWOBHMy bit around 2.40. Then a neat solo. This song is full of surprises. And some bad-ass fills once it slows down around that next set of solos. This song is what we in the Thrash fan world call a mini-epic, and I never even realized. Shame. I wish I realized how good it was at the time I got it. Oh well. I know now.

Next up is “Deliver Us To Evil” which by its two-minutes-longer duration might actually be a mini-epic. It has some nice little touches. With its stop-start bit, and bouncy drums. It also has slightly choppy, but proggy complexity, which at the time I mistook for “not playing properly.” Woops. I guess my brain wasn’t developed enough when I got this initially.

It has a really fun Maideny/Priesty bit underneath the solos around the four-minute-mark. Some really fun riffs!

Lastly, the fast one. Back in the day, instead on ending on the obvious closer… they would usually end on a super fast, shorter song. That happens here. This speedy track could easily be described as a “teeth kicker.” This is pure Thrash. Absolutely pure. Almost too pure? I remember thinking this was too simplistic at the time. I was WRONG at the time. Good song, good album, good band. Good subgenre.

Oh yeah, and here’s a TOP 5s thing for Thrash:

Exodus :
1. Bonded By Blood
2. Fabulous Disaster
3. Brain Dead
4. Chemi-Kill
5. Seeds Of Hate

Testament :
1. The Preacher
2. Souls Of Black
3. Into The Pit
4. Practice What You Preach
5. Apocalyptic City

Metallica :
1. Blackened
2. Creeping Death
3. Master Of Puppets
4. Eye Of The Beholder
5. Ride The Lightning

Forbidden :
1. March Into Fire
2. Forbidden Evil
3. Twisted Into Form
4. Hypnotized By The Rhythm
5. Infinite

Kreator :
1. People Of The Lie
2. Coma Of Souls
3. Terrible Certainty
4. Stream Of Consciousness
5. Pleasure To Kill

Annihilator :
1. Alice In Hell
2. Road To Ruin
3. W.T.Y.D
4. Stonewall
5. I Am In Command

Anthrax :
1. I Am The Law
2. A.I.R
3. One Man Stands
4. Lone Justice
5. Death Rider

Megadeth :
1. Rust In Peace (Polaris)
2. Set The World Afire
3. Hook In Mouth
4. Peace Sells
5. Mechanix

Slayer :
1. Postmortem
2. Raining Blood
3. Blood Red
4. South Of Heaven
5. Crionics

Nuclear Assault :
1. Survive
2. Brainwashed
3. Critical Mass
4. Nuclear War
5. Game Over

Overkill :
1. Overkill
2. I Hate
3. Elimination
4. In Union We Stand
5. Feel The Fire

As for the bands who I don’t feel I can make a Top 5 for, my favourtie Sacred Reich song is “Whos To Blame.” My favourtie Death Angel song is “Veil Of Deception.” My favourtie Vio-lence song is “World Within A World.” My favourtie Exhorder song is “Un-born Again.” My favourtie Heathen song is “Pray For Death.” My favourtie Onslaught song is “Thrash Till The Death.” My favourtie Sepultura thrash-era song is “Beneath The Remains.” My Sodom song is “Agent Orange.” My favourtie Voivod song is “Tribal Convictions.”

Hello and welcome to this fourth round of my “Get (Into) What You Paid For” challenge, in which I attempt (despite being an out of control, no discipline, shopaholic of sorts) to not buy anything for a month.

I also try and make this challenge easier by going back and paying more attention to what I’ve bought already, and try and get into more and therefore get my money’s worth.

Have you ever picked up five or six albums in one shopping session or received several videogames all at once for a birthday and then found that some products get used more than others? This series is designed to reappraise and finally get into those sort of underdog products.

JP – RoS

If I was going to break my challenge, what would cause me to do so?
Well, I’m damn tempted to but the new Judas Priest album, Redeemer Of Souls. I’ve read absolutely universal praise of it, and Judas Priest are one of the band’s I’ve listened to the most in the last four years. If its anywhere near as good as Angel Of Retribution I’ll love it. Most people say its measurably better than Angel Of Retribution. Sounds pretty good to me. Plus its topical and up-to-date, and I’ve been lost in the 80s a bit recently, and it would be nice to be up-to-date with something. I’ll get that feeling when my pre-oder of Accept’s Blind Rage arrives, but until then, I’m sort of out-of-the-loop with modern releases at the moment.

In the opposite direction of being up-to-date however, I was watching a Lynyrd Skynrd documentary this week and that put me in the mood to try out some Molly Hatchet and Black Oak Arkansas, and expand my Southern Rock collection further than solely Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot. This was compounded the next day when watching a Van Halen documentary that featured Jim Dandy (Black Oak Arkansas’ frontman) as a contributor (discussing press accusations that David Lee Roth stole his stage moves). Both of those guys have Original Album Series boxsets and I kind of want to pick those up… but boxsets are a dangerous game. I’m still in a boxset “get my money’s worth” mind-war with Thin Lizzy, Van Halen, Dream Theater, Faith No More, Foghat and Mountain (and to a lesser extent Motorhead and Saxon a bit).

VOD – BV

Bit of a left-field choice here, but I’m really tempted to buy Broken Valley by Life Of Agony. It’s the only album by them I don’t own yet, due to buying that Roadrunner Boxset, and I’ve been absolutely loving their first two albums these last few months. I’ve been really, really heavily leaning on tracks like “Damned If I Do,” “Bad Seed,” “Underground” and “Drained.” Their reunion put them back in the press and that reminded me of this missing album in my collection (I think there was an article saying they’ll not be making a new record so fans “better get used to Broken Valley”).

F – F&W

A fairly new “want” of mine is Free’s Fire And Water. Fairly new as in yesterday. There was a vintage music channel playing music videos on a TV in the background of where I was at yesterday. It was primarily showing videos of 80s pop bands like Duran Duran, Culture Club and Wham. Then out of nowhere; a Zepplinny, 70s-Sounding Hard Rock guitar comes in with charming production and suddenly I sit up and pay attention. It turns out to be “All Right Now” by Free, which is probably up there with “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy and “Sunshine Of Your Love” by Cream as one of the most famous and frequently pub-covered songs in Rock Music, and yet I’d never really noticed it properly before. I was impressed. I’d like to hear a full album. Turn it from a “Smoke On The Water” into a “Machine Head” and find a few “Pictures Of Home”s… if you follow my meaning?

I’ve also been voraciously consuming Batman comics over this last year (in fact, August 2013 was when my good friend Paul bought me a load of Batman books for my birthday and in-so-doing kicked my casual “Ok, I’ll try some Batman” phase into an “I am a Batman fan” phase.) So I’d be tempted to buy just about any Batman tradepaperback I come into contact with. My current “top picks” to get are Ego, Odyssey, Black & White, Year 100, Dark Victory, Time & The Batman, Bruce Wayne The Return, Bruce Wayne Murderer? and all volumes of the New 52 Nightwing series.
When its released I want all volumes of Batman Eternal, Zero Year and I also want any stories where Jason Todd is Robin…. release some sort of retrospective please guys?

Anyway, enough about what could make me spend money, what’s been saving me money so far this month? What’s kept my hands busy and stopped by notorious spending habbits at bay?

M.C. – T.O.P

Well; Its August 7th, 2014 and I’ve currently managed to go the first week of the challenge without buying myself anything. Right before the challenge started, I picked up a copy of Motely Crue’s third studio album Theater Of Pain from a Charity Shop for £1.99, and that has pretty much kept me interested for a full week.

I didn’t expect much from this album to be honest. I thought it might be a bit rubbish. I’ve read bad reviews of it. I’ve read The Dirt (Crue’s biography book) and the album is slated in that book. I’ve watched Google Play’s Motley Crue documentary (see here) and singer Vince Neil rejects the album. It seems like it might be a bad product. A bit of a mistake. A bit like Kiss’ Music From The Elder Album.

But you know me, champion of the bad-album, lover of St Anger, contrary semi-hipster who always seems to love the album with the bad reviews (Ok. That’s an exaggeration; I often also dislike unpopular albums too, but whatever…). I thought to myself I’ll find a way to enjoy this album.

On first listen, this album was a mess. Opening with a slow doomy track, then into a cartoony cover-song (and I’ve never liked songs singing about School anyway), then a rock song and then a ballad. Its confused, its all over the place. I heard people say this album is just “some songs” and that “its not a party album” and that “they were too high on drugs and bereavement for Razzle to make a good album.”

Then I heard the songs “Use It Or Lose It” and “Louder Than Hell” and they just connected with me. Unarguably and instantly two of my favourite Motely Crue songs. So I realized there is definitely something going on here. I’ve been listening to it repeatedly, in different combinations and orders until I came across the perfect listening order:

Now its not a mess. Now it’s a party album! Now it is a well balanced set of rock songs with diversity but a steady sensible flow. It’s a journey. It’s a good record!

In this order, I’ve listened to and loved the album about a dozen times now. What a big difference that the running order makes. I recommend you try it out this way, it is a much better album.

I’ve also been listening to the rest of the band’s catalogue these last two weeks. In particular, Shout At The Devil is a good record, with “Red Hot,” “Bastard” “Looks That Kill” and the Title Track all being stand out moments.

I don’t much care for their debut apart from the fabulous “Live Wire” and “Piece Of Action” or even the mega famous Dr. Feelgood album all that much apart from its own Title Track and “Kickstart My Heart.” I don’t have Girls Girls Girls yet, so can’t make a judgement on that one, but I will explain that kind of the reason for all this Crue interest is because I’ve loved the single “Wildside,” ever since I saw Dwight enjoying it too much in The Office on my most recent re-viewing of the series in its entirety. (I’d heard it before, but that moment just made me reevaluate it.)

In honour of this new found acceptance of Motely Crue (band who I’ve really struggled to allow myself to like due to my disapproval of their sexism, drug abuse glorification, domestic violence denial, and general selfishness and rudeness) I’m going to list my five-favourite songs by the band, and all their contempories in my music library.

So consider this a Hair Metal/ Glam Metal / ‘80s Hard Rock special episode.

Motely Crue :
1. Louder Than Hell
2. Live Wire
3. Wild Side
4. Use It Or Lose It
5. Shout At The Devil

W.A.S.P :
1. I Wanna Be Somebody
2. The Torture Never Stops
3. Ballcrusher
4. Shoot From The Hip
5. Chainsaw Charlie

Twisted Sister :
1. I Wanna Rock
2. You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll
3. The Kids Are Back
4. Kill Or Be Killed
5. Love Is For Suckers

Quiet Riot :
1. Metal Health
2. Run For Cover
3. Scream And Shout
4. (We Were) Born To Rock
5. Sign Of The Times

Poison :
1. Look What The Cat Dragged In
2. Let Me Go To The Show
3. Play Dirty
4. Nothin’ Buta Good Time
5. Look But You Can’t Touch

Dokken :
1. When Lightning Strikes Again
2. ‘Til The Living End
3. Tooth And Nail
4. Live To Rock (Rock To Live)
5. Kiss Of Death

Bon Jovi
1. Bad Medicine
2. King Of The Mountain
3. You Give Love A Bad Name
4. Runaway
5. Born To Be My Baby

With only one album by Extreme and Europe, I don’t feel its fair to do them, but I’ll say that my favourite one song by each is “It (‘s A Monster)” and “On The Loose” respectively.

For each of these articles this time around, I’ll try drop a TOP 5s of a particular subgenre in there. It’ll give this round a unique feature, ey?

T.P.B

In other areas, I’ve been keeping busy by watching Trailer Park Boys on Mike Ladano’s recommendation, and absolutely loving it. Thanks Mike. Thanks Netflix. It’s a great show! – Not only for guest rockstar appearances from Sebastain Bach and Alex Lifeson, but for the superb sense of humour and brilliantly real life (in a way) nature of the show. Its not skinny Hollywood girls buying Porches. Its much more down to earth (although it does get too surreal at times to honestly call “realistic” in fairness, but you catch my drift).

The characters are really enjoyable, from humorously selfish and flawed, to ludicrously irrational and dysfunctional. Its hard to pick a favourite character because everyone has got something going for them… even minor characters like Ray would be the best character in some other shows.

In a more British mood, I’ve been watching the absolutely excellent Getting On. A British show about Hospital Nurses, very much in the style of (and featuring cast members, and written and directed by people from) The Thick Of It. Just like The Thick Of It was a really astute and well researched satire of the British political system, Getting On is basically the same show but about the NHS. Its fun though, because instead of some lazy slamming of the NHS and unfair complaints, its mostly just a comedy about flawed individuals and their own personal weaknesses interfering with their ability to do their job properly. Its not “This is why hospitals are bad”… its “How did this clown get a job in a hospital” and I appreciate that. Fair humour, that doesn’t play too much on the same old negative hospital stereotypes.

BS – I

What else? Just before the challenge started, I got a lend of and finished, and Platinumed the videogame Bioshock Infinite (my first attempt at, and success at Platinuming a game in two years, despite my previously huge interest in that area). The game? It is a masterpiece. Although in hindsight, in comparison to Bioshock 1 & 2, a lot of the gameplay depth, setting atmosphere and cool enemies are missing, but I absolutely loved the story and the effort and depth there. I sat and read practically everything written about it on the internet afterwards and was wowed by the fabulous artistic achievement that this game is.

I won’t go too much into it because of spoilers, but wow… what a brilliantly executed concept. And I love whoever online said that the fact that it is a game strengthens the point its trying to make and the effort went to by the creators to make a piece of art strengthened by the gaming platform. Bioshock as a series is absolutely one of my favourites. Each of the three games has had some flourish of genius or other.

New Slipknot

A few other thoughts then – There’s a new Slipknot song. Not the single, we have now learned, but rather a heavier mid-album track as a gift to the fans. We don’t know who’s drumming on it, although the internet thinks it might be Chris Adler from Lamb Of God or Jay Weinberg. It might even secretly be Joey and the whole thing is a publicity stunt… is that legal? It might be Clown or Chris taking up a full time drummer’s job.

We don’t know who is playing bass on it either. Lots of members of Slipknot also play bass so, probably they played on the studio version and someone else will play it live. Chris is also a bassist. Perhaps Chris is the new Bassist and Clown is the new drummer? That would be good.

Anyway, the song, The Negative One… kind of like when they debuted “New Abortion” before Iowa, or the All Hope Is Gone Title Track before that album, its not really a catchy single, it’s a deep-cut given unrealistic limelight.

It has an Iowa-esque approach to the production and mix, and the vocals are less melodic and Stone Sour-esque than on the previous two albums, and there is a lot more sampling and DJ scratching than the previous two albums as well. Other than that, what can be said? Not all that amazing. Its not “Wow, this is one of my favourite Slipknot songs.”

In fact, if I listed all the Slipknot songs that were better than it, it would be most of the Slipknot songs. But whatever… early days yet. I hope, on one level, that the album is in this general direction…you know, far away from Stone Sour. On the other hand, “Dead Memories” is a better song than this so I’ll take a more commercial Slipknot so long as its good. I’d rather have good music in a commercial style than dull music in a good style. I will give it this though… the additional percussion in it is really fun. Especially in headphones. The mix on the final version is a lot better than in that initial stream too. Maybe that, or maybe its the same version but my speakers are better here than where I first heard it. Also, maybe its a grower. I don’t think “Everything Ends” or “The Shape” blew me away on first listen but I sure as heck like them now.

Metallica had a similar new song a while ago and I didn’t blog about it, but the feelings I had for it are similar. Its in a good style but not super-special in and of itself.

Another quick observation… Green Day totally and massively stole vocal patterns from “On With The Show” and “Merry-Go-Round” on American Idiot album tracks. Seriously, give it a listen!