Posts Tagged ‘hair metal’

Here’s a quick list, and series of thoughts, on all the blog-related purchases I’ve made in the last while. I haven’t had time to give them all their own articles yet, so I’m going to give them all a short round-up here:

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 71: Poison – Look What The Cat Dragged In

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 71: Poison – Look What The Cat Dragged In

Hello, and welcome to my Blog. Why is it called KingcrimsonBlog, the official Blog of Kingcrimsonprog?. Good question; It is called that, because I am called Kingcrimsonprog (or Gentlegiantprog). Well, I’m not. I’m called Jimmy. But, I’m called either Kingcrimsonprog or Gentlegiantprog on most websites and forums. (You know, in the way you have to choose a name or “net-handle” when you register?).

Back when this Blog was first devised, it was sort of a hub “digest” of all my various internet output, under one easy “roof.” So people could then tell that my things were not stolen from elsewhere on the internet, I kept my net-handle in the title. The name of my net-handle was simply chosen because I enjoy the Prog band King Crimson (and Gentle Giant) and is not in fact my real name. Forget about the name. Imagine its called “Music Nerd Blog” instead. You’ll get the idea.

I’ve been obsessing about music since about the year 2000. Over this time I’ve bought what must now be nearly 1,000 albums, and heard hundreds more through friends, relatives, streaming services and whatever else. I’ve also watched over a decade’s worth of music videos and heard countless individual songs on the radio, free covermounted CDs, websites and whatever else. All that, as well as read years and years worth of music magazines and websites.

I’m a nerd. Basically. Only, instead of James Bond or Vintage Clothing, its Music that I obsess about. Lots of people are nerds and don’t even realize it. Sometimes its obvious; trainspotting, stamp collecting etc. Sometimes its less obvious due to presentation. Some (make that many) football fans’ depth of knowledge about players and transfer costs and club histories would make many tram-enthusiasts seem normal by comparison. The amount of information that some people know about Reality-TV celebrities and their sex-lives would easily overpower my knowledge of bands, or the most dedicated historian and their knowledge of French Military Tactics. Everyone has a thing they get nerdy about, whether or not they realize or admit that it is similar to the more famous nerdy things like Star Wars. I don’t particularly like Football or Reality TV or French Military Tactics. I like Heavy Metal music. That’s my one thing. That’s what this Blog is all about.

Welcome to my First Impressions series of articles too, incidentally. In this series I (or sometimes my friends, or readers) pick an album for each entry that I will listen to for the first time. I then write in depth about what I know about that album or the artist that created it and the genre and subgenre to which they belong, before describing the experience of listening to it in real time, in a sort of semi-stream-of-consciousness way intended for entertainment purposes. I also enjoy writing reviews of albums, but when I write reviews my goal is to be helpful and provide you with information with which to aide your decision about whether to try out an album or not. When I write a First Impressions article however my goal is purely to entertain the reader, explore how much I know about music and be my own psychiatrist in the process.

I may go into some very specific detail and assume you have heard everything I’ve ever heard and perceived everything in the manner I’ve perceived it, and call out very specific sections of music and draw comparisons between things that the casual listener may find completely unrelated. Don’t worry, most of these songs are on Youtube and most of the terminology is on Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary anyway, so if there’s anything that goes over your head, you can always get clarification in a second web-browser-tab (or ask about it in the comments).

According to the aim of the series, the albums are considered by the public and music critics knowledgeable about the subject to be Classic albums within Rock and Metal, or at least within their own Subgenres. Classic albums that I’ve somehow missed out on, despite my nerdly need to hear and understand almost every piece of recorded Metal music ever.

If you have an album that you’d like to read a KingcrimsonBlog First Impressions article about, please suggest it in the comments, I’m game, I’ll give anything a try.

So that’s the preamble out of the way, on to the article:

This is the seventy-first entry in the series and this time I’ll be listening to the debut album by the American Glam Metal band Poison, 1986’s Look What The Cat Dragged In. (1986 – Which was the year of Peace Sells, Reign In Blood and Master Of Puppets).

I’d like to think I was done with talking about Glam by now. I’ve covered it in previous FI articles on the subject of W.A.S.P , Quiet Riot, Motely Crue, Extreme, Twisted Sister , W.A.S.P again and more recently, Dokken.

Maybe I’m just not done with Glam yet. Maybe there’s something left to say, because I haven’t properly given Posion a detailed scrutiny. I remember a friend saying that even as a fan of Glam, Poison would be an embarrassing band to admit to liking.

I like the sound of that. It seems like it might be an interesting experience. A band that are too over-the-top looking, a band that are considered style over substance by other style-over-substance artists, a band that watered their sound down even more than the rest. A band that is more symbolically pop-with-guitars than Glam METAL. I remember a video of Corey Taylor telling a story of picking up this album to see the “hot chicks” on the cover, only to discover that they were men. That sort of says all I’m going to bother with about how the band looks.

I also know their music videos are stupid. To be fair, almost all music videos are either stupid or else just dull. It took me quite a while to stop judging bands based on music videos, so if you saw one and it put you off the band I completely understand, but I’m going to go on with the article under the premise of “only the music matters, the image and videos don’t change whether the album is good or not.”

I remember my initial point of giving Glam a fair chance was the promise of that Metal part, that Judas Priest sounding Metal that hid in the early material of W.A.S.P and the deep cuts of Twisted Sister. The idea that a band who people write off can sound almost indistinguishable from Overkill’s debut makes me smile a little.

That’s not going to be the case here though is it? This is the other end of the spectrum as far as I know.

Lets find out.

[Play]

‘Cry Tough’ opens up with a nice crowd-friendly drum part people could clap along with that reminds me of Green Day’s ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ only shone through the filter of a sunny 80s buddy comedy. Then a mixture of shimmering arpeggios low in the mix, slow distorted guitar chords and a sort of pop-punky bass line. The vocals are quite reminiscent of 80s female pop stars. It also reminds me of Bryan Adams for some reason.. Its about as heavy as the start of ‘Sweet Child Of Mine,’ so its still definitely Rock music, but its not sounding very Priest-esque yet.

I wonder if Poison were quite influential on Emo and Pop Punk bands. Not in a snarky way, because those things are all seen as ‘bad’ by certain vocal minorities online, but because I hear some genuine sonic similarities.

Its interesting that people online can be so venomous towards Pop Punk, Emo, Nu Metal and Hair Metal, but linking back to the James Gill “You Know All The Words” in a Rock-Club-scenario argument, I was in a Rock Club last night, and people most definitely knew all the words to Green Day and Sum 41 and My Chemical Romance and Paramore and Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park and seemed to be having a wonderful time of singing along to all of them, whether they were dressed in Pantera t-shirts or Death t-shirts or Burzum t-shirts.

I guess in a way its redundant to keep pointing out the same hypocrisies over and over again, and to write “Hey a lot of people actually like bands that are quite clearly well liked” when to most people its probably obvious, but it’s a topic that interests me a lot. To my mind, the way I perceive the world, from what I’ve read it seems like almost everyone hates Linkin Park, Sum 41 and Poison, but quite clearly this is the opposite of the case. Its probably because they’re so loved by so many people that online grumps want to deny their quality and popularity and endeavor to convince impressionable and easily-fooled people like me that no-one likes these bands.

I wonder, if the internet had have been bigger back in the 1980s-90s, would the whole Black Metal Helvete-scene thing have happened, or would having an outlet to simply troll Motley Crue and later Nirvana online have stopped all those guys having such a bad attitude towards commercial music in their day to day lives? Furthermore, when Euronymous and Count Grishnack got drunk, did they happily sing all the words to ‘Talk Dirty To Me’?

Its an interesting thought. I’m not a psychologist, and I don’t know enough about human nature to give you an actual insight, but the question is mildly interesting at any rate.

‘I Want Action’ opens up with just vocals, then an intro kicks in, then there’s a bouncy song which unfolds which is almost indistinguishable from Dookie-era Green Day, to my ears anyway, with a little Rock N Roll part thrown in there too. There’s a very pleasing and fun-to-the-ears guitar solo. The production reminds me of Appetite For Destruction but the music reminds me of Green Day. It ends the way you’d end live, with extra long fills and that sort of thing. That aspect reminds me of The Darkness, but not sonically, just in spirit.

‘I Won’t Forget You’ is a sort of ballad, or at least a very soft rock track, it reminds me of The Saw Doctors and The Proclaimers. The production makes it sound really perfect in a way. Its not particularly anything, but its good anyway… like the movie Adventureland. Its not the most emotional, humourous, or interesting film, even among its peer films, but its still good anyway.

‘Play Dirty’ opens up in a more energetic Rock fashion, it reminds me a bit of The Darkness’ ‘Growing On Me’ due to the rhythm of the main riff. This is probably the closest to Guns N Roses or Skid Row that this album has got so far. There’s a bit more attitude to it. The on/off nature of the chorus, combined with the reverby sing-along vocal makes me think of ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane.’ This is quite an enjoyable, fun, 80s Rock song. Kind of the same sort of fun as Quiet Riot’s ‘Metal Health.’

I think so far, Posion are a whole heap more slick, professional and impressive than Motely Crue. More talented as musicians, better songwriters and easier on the ears.

I also think they are more original in a strange way, because you can’t hear any Kiss or Aerosmith or Judas Priest in their sound at all. Maybe though, I just don’t know the band’s they’re ripping off. Even so; They’ve also got heaps of personality. This isn’t just another Glam band. There’s audible personality here. Like Limp Bizkit, even if the-

Woops. Spoke too soon. The Title Track comes in next, its actually quite a Metallic song compared to everything else so far. I guess there is a bit of Priest-influence after all. Well, you’re probably sick of me making Limp Bizkit analogies all the time anyway. Hey. This is actually a good song! Its simple but catchy. I wouldn’t be embarrassed listening to this song in a mix of Ozzy, Judas Priest and Gun N’ Roses songs. Interestingly, it even references Sin After Sin in the lyrics.

‘Talk Dirty To Me’ follows. I used to hate this song when I first heard it in Guitar Hero 3, which I also initially hated, but darn it if they didn’t both really grow on me. This is another very Pop Punky song. That main riff is even quite original-punky in a way. I’m not saying it sounds like The Ramones, but it does remind me of people who like The Ramones practicing guitar. I have a vague memory of a plot point in an episode of Scrubs surrounding a patient wanting to listen to this song.

The guitar solo here is a lot of fun, I think I quite like CC Deville. I’d rather listen to his guitar solos than Kerry King’s or Andreas Kisser’s. Yes I know that looses me a million Metal-points.

‘Want Some, Need Some’ comes next. It reminds me a bit of the Title Track but its a little slower and with a less Metallic feel. The chorus reminds me of Motely Crue slightly. It’s a fair enough song. The guitar solo is less musical this time though.

‘Blame It On You’ is the quintessential, stereotype, LA Stripper music Rock song. I mentioned this in relation to some songs on Dr. Feelgood. There’s a certain, specific way of writing bouncy beats with clunky bass guitar tones that connects a lot of Glam bands together. It’s sort of present in Mr. Brownstone.

‘Number One Bad Boy’ burst out confidently as if it was an extension of the previous song, the production here and the way some of the vocals work remind me of Motely Crue even though the actual vocal tone is closer to Twisted Sister. You know what it also reminds me of? The slightly Glam touches hidden in there on Alice In Chain’s Facelift. The bits with the guitar solo distantly remind me of Cowboys From Hell era Pantera, but that’s probably more to do with the fact that there’s an absence of Rhythm Guitar during the solos more than anything else.

‘Let Me Go To The Show’ comes on next, opening with a guitar solo. It’s a fast, fun, song with clean yet punky energy. It reminds of when Guns N’ Roses cover punk songs like ‘Attitude’ and ‘New Rose.’ There’s a bit in the middle that reminds me of ‘Ballroom Blitz’ due to the snare drum part. In one way it’s a very good song. In another, all the different parts don’t really gel together well. Maybe it was longer and the producer got them to delete a lot of the bridging parts so as to save the spirit of the song.

Ok. That’s it over.

You know what? I can see why people would be embarrassed to listen to Poison, but I would be a bold-faced liar if I said I did not enjoy this record. Admittedly; It doesn’t satisfy much of my Metal receptors, but it’s a whole heap of well-produced, personality-filled fun that reminds me of being a teenager and listening to Green Day for the first time.

I guess I’m not going to convince many Mayhem fans to give Poison a fair chance, but nobody really expects me to. Oh well, I’ll have more fun with this in the coming months than I will with Des Mysteries Dom Sathanis. I don’t really mind if that makes me look silly to the people who found this website for the Cannibal Corpse, Zyklon, Emperor or Melechesh entries, at least I’m enjoying myself.

Instead of beating the same old dead horse for yet another time, I’ll finish with a completely unrelated point. Kiss’ ‘Shout Mercy’ has become one of my favourite songs. I really recommend everyone listen to it. I was walking around Asda with my headphones in one day recently, trying to find powdered milk, and I suddenly stopped, wondering why I was having an absolutely brilliant time. The reason was because Kiss’ ‘Shout Mercy’ was playing. I don’t care if the lyrics are about being so good in bed that your partner has to loudly urge you to stop such is the intensity of their orgasm, because damn it, that is one great combination of musical parts. It also harks back to everything that was great about 70s Kiss but the weird swing feel of the main bit sounds unlike anything the band ever did before, so it’s a real satisfying track because of its mixture of giving you what you want and being creative at the same time too.

If you just skimmed through Kiss’ most recent album Monster and didn’t really play it all that often, take a moment and just set this one song aside, turn it up, and pay attention. You’ll thank me for it.

No, I guess its got nothing to do with Poison other than the fact that the lyrics are about sex, as are most of Poison’s, but its on my mind and I’m writing a blog, so I’ve added it in here. Its happened.

You want a song to put you in a good mood? ‘Shout Mercy’ by Kiss. To be fair, ‘Talk Dirty To Me’ has put me in a good mood too. Listen to that too if you like. The only other song that’s put such a big smile on my face today is when I heard Opeth’s ‘Harlequin Forest’ for the first time and that huge part at 7.32 comes in. That is a seriously cool part.

Oh, I mentioned enjoying Opeth, do I win some Metal-points back?

Cheers. G’bye for now.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 69: Dokken – Tooth & Nail

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 69: Dokken – Tooth & Nail

Hello, and welcome to my Blog. Why is it called KingcrimsonBlog, the official Blog of Kingcrimsonprog?. Good question; It is called that, because I am called Kingcrimsonprog (or Gentlegiantprog) on most websites and forums. (You know, in the way you have to chose a name or “net-handle” when you register?). Back when this Blog was first devised, it was sort of a hub “digest” of all my various internet output, under one easy “roof.” So people could then tell that my things were not stolen from elsewhere on the internet, I kept my net-handle in the title. The name of my net-handle was simply chosen because I enjoy the Prog band King Crimson (and Gentle Giant) and is not in fact my real name.

I’ve been obsessing about music since about the year 2000. Over this time I’ve bought what must now be nearly 1,000 albums, and heard hundreds more through friends, relatives, streaming services and whatever else. I’ve also watched over a decade’s worth of music videos and heard countless individual songs on the radio, free covermounted CDs, websites and whatever else. All that, as well as read years and years worth of music magazines and websites.

I’m a nerd. Basically. Only, instead of Real Ale or French Cinema, its Music that I obsess about. Lots of people are nerds and don’t even realize it. Sometimes its obvious; trainspotting, stamp collecting etc. Sometimes its less obvious due to presentation. Some (make that many) football fans’ depth of knowledge about players and transfer costs and club histories would make many tram-enthusiasts seem normal by comparison. The amount of information that some people know about Reality-TV celebrities and their sex-lives would easily overpower my knowledge of bands, or the most dedicated “Foodie” and their knowledge of Risotto. Everyone has a thing they get nerdy about, whether or not they realize or admit that it is similar to the more famous nerdy things like Star Wars. I don’t particularly like Football or Reality TV or Real Ale or Rissoto. I like Heavy Metal music. That’s my one thing. That’s what this Blog is all about.

Welcome to my First Impressions series of articles too, incidentally. In this series I (or sometimes my friends, or readers) pick an album for each entry that I will listen to for the first time. I then write in depth about what I know about that album or the artist that created it and the genre and subgenre to which they belong, before describing the experience of listening to it in real time, in a sort of semi-stream-of-consciousness way intended for entertainment purposes. I also enjoy writing reviews of albums, but when I write reviews my goal is to be helpful and provide you with information with which to aide your decision about whether to try out an album or not. When I write a First Impressions article however my goal is purely to entertain the reader, explore how much I know about music and be my own psychiatrist in the process.

I may go into some very specific detail and assume you have heard everything I’ve ever heard and perceived everything in the manner I’ve perceived it, and call out very specific sections of music and draw comparisons between things that the casual listener may find completely unrelated. Don’t worry, most of these songs are on Youtube and most of the terminology is on Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary anyway, so if there’s anything that goes over your head, you can always get clarification in a second web-browser-tab (or ask about it in the comments).

According to the aim of the series, the albums are considered by the public and music critics knowledgeable about the subject to be Classic albums within Rock and Metal, or at least within their own Subgenres. Classic albums that I’ve somehow missed out on, despite my nerdly need to hear and understand almost every piece of recorded Metal music ever.

If you have an album that you’d like to read a KingcrimsonBlog First Impressions article about, please suggest it in the comments, I’m game, I’ll give anything a try.

So that’s the preamble out of the way, on to the article:

This is the sixty ninth-entry in the series. This time around I’ll be listening to the second full-length studio album by the LA Hair Metal band Dokken, entitled Tooth & Nail. Supposedly its one of the heaviest and best Hair Metal albums of all time. Its also supposedly a guitar classic, full of incredible solos and leads. Sounds good to me.

So; at this point in the article, I like to talk about how I feel about the genre from which this installment’s album comes. If you read these articles regularly, you probably already know my history with Hair Metal.

If not, you can pretty much piece that together by checking out my previous FI articles on the subject of W.A.S.P , Quiet Riot, Motely Crue, Extreme, Twisted Sister , and W.A.S.P again.

Basically, I used to have a huge prejudice against it, and used to instantly dislike almost anything associated with it, and I have had to slowly teach myself to tolerate it and later enjoy some of it. I still have a problem with many people involved with it’s personalities, decision-making and viewpoints, but there are definitely songs within the genre I enjoy. Whole albums even.

It definitely helps that no-matter how cheesy and unpalatable some of the bands were, they almost always had excellent lead guitarists, and I am an absolute sucker for a good guitar solo. It helped even more when I found out that the ballads and pop-with-guitars songs that I’d initially heard were only one part of the genre and there was a whole other side of it, more in the vein of Judas Priest. I love Judas Priest incidentally, so that sort of sound is a big plus for me.

I guess it also helped that I stopped being such as miserable prick, and allowed myself to enjoy things that were fun. Sure, I do genuinely dislike a lot of this sort of music, but at the same time, when I was 11 or 12 years old I wasn’t really giving it a fair chance. Actually paying some attention to it allowed me to see the positives.

And hey, despite what Garry Holt may have felt in the ‘80s, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy both Exodus and Twisted Sister, right? Creating artificial barriers and limiting yourself just means you miss out on some good music.

So. That’s the genre out of the way. What about the band?

Well, to be honest, I don’t really know much about Dokken, I think I heard their name come up in Bowling For Soup’s ‘1985’ and Brian Posien’s ‘More Metal Than You’ the two or three times I ever heard those tracks. I also have a really, really vauge memory of seeing a Dokken video when I first started listening to music, but its so cloudy I can recall anything about it.

Other than that, I remember Gill from The Metal Hammer Podcast, going on an amusing rant about how people enjoy Hair Metal but don’t like to admit it, and stating that people in Metal nightclubs know all the words to Dokken’s ‘Dream Warriors.’

I don’t know if that’s true. The only Hair Metal song’s I’ve ever heard in such a setting were Warrant’s ‘Cherry Pie’ and Poison’s ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn.’ To be honest, I’m not often in such an establishment, so it could well be true, I’ve just never seen it.

I also like to watch documentaries about Metal a lot. (Metal Evolution, Heavy Metal Louder Than Life, When Metal Ruled The World, Heavy The Story Of Metal, etc.) George Lynch from Dokken is almost always in them (much like Scott Ian from Anthrax). He seems like a lot more of a reasonable and down to earth guy than a lot of the other Glam musicians who be in these documentaries.

So what else do I know about Dokken? Not much. I heard ‘Bullets To Spare’ once when curiously researching Glam Metal bands, one bored afternoon, a few years ago. I enjoyed it. Other than that, I am almost completely unaware of them.

That’s obviously about to change.

[Play]

The album opens up with the clean arpeggio, fade-in, intro to ‘Without Warning.’ It’s the sort of thing that could be at the start of a Metallica album. When the lead guitar comes in over the top, it oddly reminds me of Chimaira’s ‘Down Again’ intro but only vaugley.

The first full song, the single ‘Just Got Lucky’ comes in next. Its, um… not what I was expecting. It’s a sort of sunny, slightly chilled, almost AOR sounding track. It sort of bobs along calmly, with no particular power or aim, until the chorus comes in and the layered vocals add a bit to it. The verse reminds me of 1980s game shows or adverts from the ‘90s for holiday camps for some reason. There’s a lead bit that reminds me of Boston and Queen somewhat. It reminds me of Grand Theft Auto Vice City, but not the rock station, the pop stations. I remember just before typing this seeing that a Dokken song was on the soundtrack to Vice City Stories, I wonder if that’s why, or if its just a production issue.

The next track, ‘Heartless Heart’ comes in. It’s a sort of semi-ballad. One of those tracks with a clean intro, a very melodic chorus and soft verses, that aren’t really a ballad, but aren’t heavy either. Quiet Riot have a lot of them. Its also very calm and restrained. The whole record so far seems to be holding a bit back. Its not got that W.A.S.P style Metallic energy, and there’s no Quiet Riot style bombastic confidence. If I were to describe it, the best I could come up with is ‘polite.’

The thing is, its also quite good. Really pleasant and easy to listen to. I think they might have that Devildriver/Black Label Society quality of making you listen to them numerous, numerous times without particularly loving them. Easy-listening. Not the genre, but something you can actually listen to, easily.

Oh what’s this? ‘When Heaven Comes Down’ comes on next. Its got a bit of umph. Its actually got some energy in the performance, its quite reminiscent of Quiet Riot after a fashion, in terms of having solid Hard Rock drums, a slightly Metallic guitar approach played slower and with the heaviness taken down a notch to make it palatable. When the guitar solo comes in, I finally get what I want. Impressive shredding with a bit of melody to stop it being boring. Afterwards too, the addition of backing vocals and a slightly harder-hitting drum performance gives the song a breath of life.

‘Heartless Heart’ comes in again. Meaning only one thing. I’ve made that classic Kingcrimsonblog error of not remembering to turn off the shuffle function before playing the record. ‘Heartless Heart’ isn’t a semi-ballad at all. It’s the fastest paced, most metallic track so far. It actually reminds me a little of Bon Jovi. I know that when I say ‘Bon Jovi’ and ‘most metallic’ together in one sentence some people may raise an eyebrow, but it serves to illustrate how polite the previous tracks were I guess.

Y’know what else, this song is a big heap of fun. Very catchy. I guess that’s the Jovi similarity there. Its lightweight in the same way that Motely Crue’s Too Fast For Love is, but somehow a lot more solid and satisfying (although I have to admit I’ve really come to enjoy the track ‘Live Wire.’)

Next up (in my incorrect shuffled order version) comes ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ which is similarly fun and Jovi-esque, with even more of driving energy and even a chugging Priest-y part in its pre-chorus. There’s a fun drum fill that ends with stomping along with strikes of the china cymbal, in what has to be the most energetic moment of the record thus far. I really like this song. This isn’t what I wanted or expected, but it is how good I expected and wanted it to be. It even ends with the Priest-y riff and a nice high pitched Halford-style squeal.

Next up comes ‘Bullets To Spare’ which has a bit more of that sleazy LA sound than I remember. The melodic pre-chorus is the typical Glam Metal sound, the main verse has a very Quiet Riot sound to it, the chorus itself reminds me of a faster version of Judas Priest’s ‘The Killing Machine’ with that sort of vaguely raunchy riff sound that Glam Bands like to use. The solo makes me happy. After that, you’ve got used to the previous parts and are happy to hear them again, especially since they’ve now got more energy and extra fills.

‘Turn On The Action’ burst in next, all speed and energy. It reminds me a lot of Van Halen in one way. I can see how someone might want to take a Van Halen track like ‘Atomic Punk’ or ‘On Fire’ or ‘Loss Of Control’ and turn it into a fast, driving, Glam Metal song. I really enjoy it. Its bouncy and fun, and a lot more energetic than the first few tracks. Its got a bigger, louder and more exciting guitar solo than any of the tracks so far, and so that pretty much sells it for me.

That’s followed by ‘Into The Fire’ which again reminds me a bit of Boston, its quite interesting. This is the perfect sort of ‘80s sound. The absolute crossover point between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Its also structurally quite interesting and musically very accomplished. There are parts that wouldn’t be out of place on a Dream Theater album. The vocals are more varied than anything before. Its really rather good. Plus the bit with the guitar solo is just straight up brilliant. The bit after it reminds me of Boston’s ‘Piece Of Mind’ a little. I really like this one.

‘Tooth And Nail’ bursts in afterward and is a fast paced Trad Metal anthem in the vein of a ‘Delivering The Goods,’ ‘Exciter’ or ‘Rapid Fire.’ This is what I was expecting. Maybe I had heard this and not ‘Bullets To Spare.’ This is absolutely awesome. Holy crap, what a flashy guitar solo too. Incredibly energetic and rather powerful. Such a stark contrast to ‘Just Got Lucky.’ Damn, that was satisfying.

Hmmm. That seems to be the album over. Seems a bit short. I guess that first ballad I confused with another track must be ‘Alone Again.’ Its interesting that it played the least exciting tracks first and then ramped up the quality and power. It played them exactly from least to most exciting. Huh. Neat.

Y’know what? That’s a bit brief for one of these articles, isn’t it?

I guess I’ll throw in a bonus for you. How about Dokken’s fourth full-length studio album Back For The Attack?

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 69: Dokken – Back For The Attack

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 69: Dokken – Back For The Attack”

It starts off with the rather more powerful and solid British Steel influenced ‘Kiss Of Death.’ There’s a lot more emphasis on guitar. The vocals have improved too, and they were already good, but now there’s more presence.

This is a bit closer to W.A.S.P than Bon Jovi or Van Halen. This is really solid, it’s the sort of song you’d expect to hear in a videogame with a heavy soundtrack. Its got that confidence. It reminds me a bit of a mixture between Queenryche’s ‘Queen Of The Reich’ with Dio’s ‘We Rock.’

‘Prisoner’ comes in next. It’s also rather solid and ballsy, but with with a bit more melody. It reminds me of ‘80s Judas Priest’s more melodic moments (‘Take These Chains’) crossed with Quiet Riot’s heavier moments (‘We Were Born To Rock’). This is slick, solid and really satisfying. There’s actually something of Maiden’s ‘Fates Warning’ to it. Its got an even more Slippery When Wet production. The lead guitar work is fantastic. And the chorus is damn catchy.

‘Night By Night’ follows up. It reminds me of Priest’s ‘Private Property’ in its intro. When the chorus comes in, it gets a bit more into Skid Row territory but not massively. I really like Don Dokken’s voice. The backing vocals oddly remind me of Scott Ian. It would be mildly amusing if George Lynch’s voice sounded like Scott Ian’s after me comparing them earlier. Yet another great guitar solo.

All of these songs are closer to four and a half minutes or five minutes than on the previous album, which was a bit more succinct. This also has more songs. Oh well, I thought the last one was a bit short, so I guess they did too and decided to make a longer record.

‘Standing In The Shadows’ opens up with a fun intro that really, really reminds me of Turbo era Priest. This vocals remind me a bit of the verse from ‘Livin On A Prayer’ actually. It also vaguely reminds me of Queensryche’s Rage For Order album in a distant way (and not just because of the word ‘Shadows’).

The whole way through these two albums, there’s this hint of a voice that Don Dokken occasionally throws out that I really recognize, but I can figure out from where. I don’t know if its Joey Belladonna or Michael Kiske or even Paul Stanely, but each time I hear it I want to comment on it until I remember I don’t know who it is I’m being reminded of.

Anyway. Every song thus far has been really enjoyable, with excellent and interesting lead guitar, a catchy chorus and maybe one-minute-too-long.

‘Heaven Sent’ comes in next. It’s a semi-ballad, but if you turned down the little part in the background it would sound more like an Iced Earth semi-ballad than a Motely Crue one. Again, a lot of variety in the vocals. Don is quite diverse and can shift through a lot of different voices. There’s a really fun bit two minutes and twenty seconds in where they go into a sort of rushed version of the ‘Back In Black’ riff with a sort of staccato feel. Then before you can get too comfortable with this new rhythmic part, a lovely big guitar solo kicks in. For a cheesy ‘80s power ballad, this is surprisingly tasteful, and good.

‘Mr. Scary’ comes in next. Its really rather heavy compared to the rest of the album. It’s a bit closer to Annihilator than Quiet Riot. There’s some really good drums here, a lot more variety, power and energy. It seems to be instrumental. Its pretty damn enjoyable. Its kind of what I expected Cacophony to sound like when I bought their album. Humour me, and give this song a listen if you haven’t heard of Dokken. …go on. Do it. …Not what you expected, was it?

‘So Many Tears’ comes in next, but it in contrast, kind of is what you’d expect. I mean, its not that sort of stripper music side of Glam, but it is stuff you could reasonably expect to hear in an 80s action movie. Chuck this in somewhere in the middle of Top Gun or Die Hard and I don’t think too many people would violently be sick at the sonic-anachronism.

Oh yeah, and its good too. Everything so far has been good. This seems to be a very good album. Apparently it was their best selling album, which normally you would expect to be the sell-out one. I’m really digging it so far. I think Paul Baloff and his ilk have done us a disservice by discouraging fans to try out this kind of music too. Sure, I couldn’t put ‘So Many Tears’ side by side with ‘Bonded By Blood’ in a playlist called ‘Heavy Songs’ but they would both sit happily beside each other in one marked ‘Good Songs.’

‘Burning Like A Flame’ was another single. It really reminds me of American High Schools for some reason. Was this in the soundtrack to something? It sounds like bits in shows like Family Guy when they do a little parody of 80s montages. It also reminds me of Napoleon Dynamite for not clear reason that I can discern.

I’m kind of running out of things to say at this point. Every track basically falls under the following categories: “It was better than I’d expect” “Its less cheesy than I’d expect” “Its good” “That guitar solo is great” “That chorus is catchy” “The little flashy guitar part that’s not a solo is also great” “I wish I wasn’t snobby about Glam before now” and finally “This reminds me of something from the movies or videogames that it has no legitimate connection to, and also some other 80s bands.”

Each song has one neat bit that sets it apart, like a section with good fills, or a slow menacing intro that reminds me of bikers, or a brief slightly country tinged little guitar part that swizzes through almost under the radar. Its well produced, but not overproduced.

There’s a lot of great brief little moments, like the clean bit before the solo in ‘Stop Fighting Love’ but to be honest, its just going to get boring if I point them all out, because there’s so many of them.

[Side Note: I don’t recognize and could not sing all the lyrics to ‘Dream Warriors’ as previously suggested – (Despite once having seen the Freddy movie of the same name, which it served as a soundtrack to) – although to be fair, now that I have this record, that may change]

Overall; I’m glad this album was a success. I have this vague prejudice against Hair bands that they were all a bunch of chancers who got famous on publicity and not quality, and sometimes I forget that genuinely talented musicians got famous too. Just because Vince Neil isn’t a great singer, doesn’t mean Don Dokken can’t be great. On that note, George Lynch is a really noteworthy guitar player. I guess you could probably figure that out from how much I’ve banged on about the guitar so far, but I’d just like to state it finally and unequivocally.

I’d recommend trying out this album y’know. If you, like me, have a prejudice against Glam/Hair Metal, let it slide for a minute and give this a shot. Half the time its more like listening to Dio than you might imagine. The only track that really challenges my tastes at all is ‘Sleepless Nights.’ That’s a very small portion of the album, don’t you think?

I think Djent has become an independent subgenre now.

I understand that people were arguing about whether or not it was a real subgenre when it was starting out, but I think so many bands have come out sounding like eachother, so many record labels group them together, so many Djent fan sites and concert line-ups have been made that it has come online, become self-aware and is now a real genre.

People had the same problems with Thrash Metal when it was new, with Hair Metal when it was new and with Nu Metal when it was new, but now, most fans agree that they are real subgenres.

Sure they might argue about the name “Hair” is interchangeable with “Glam/Sleeze/Teeth/Pop Metal” and “Thrash” sometimes gets intertwined with “Speed.” “Nu” sometimes gets called “Rap” or “Alternative.”

There’s disagreement over all of them “Glam is just a look” “Nu is just rapping and DJs over the top” and people say the names are stupid. Nowadays, a few people say “Djent” is a stupid name and “Djent is just a tone” but there’s more to it than that, and it has become a real genre due to the critical mass of bands making Djent music.

Sure; Uneven Structure, Tesseract and Periphery are all pretty different, but so are Kreator, Anthrax and Metallica.

So are Linkin Park, Powerman 5000 and Korn.

So are Bon Jovie, Quiet Riot and Motley Crue.

In Power Metal, there’s a vast difference between Stratovarius, Helloween and Sonata Arctica. And its named after power? All Metal is Powerful.

I agree that naming Djent after a tone is unusual, but its better than naming it after a look (Glam/Hair) or the fact that it is new (Nu) is equally silly.

Maybe they should have called Thrash “Chug.” Sure, some non-Thrash bands like Motorhead and Sabbath had chugging, but that ties into the idea of how much Djent took from Messugah. Its similar to how much Nu Metal took from Faith No More and Primus. I know that some non-Djent bands have the Djent-Tone like Architects did on Hollow Crown, but that ties in with the idea of bands like Anvil and Metal Church being heavier than most Heavy Metal bands but not quite Thrash.

Maybe the name will change, but the subgenre will stick, if history is any indicator.
Maybe some of the bands will escape the tag becuase they’re too different, eg. maybe Animals As Leaders are too different than the core Djent sound like the way Slipknot are too different than the core Nu Metal sound, but overall, Nu Metal is still considered to exist.

Just go to Got-Djent.com and have a look at all the bands who play Djent music, or music similar to Djent, and check out all the similarities and differences.

Try out one song each by the top-25 most popular bands. Try that same trick for other subgenres like Black Metal, Death Metal, Hair Metal, Nu Metal, Power Metal, Doom Metal, Thrash Metal etc.
Pay attention to all the similarities and all the differences from bands still considered to be within one subgenre. Pay attention to how there are some bands or songs that are a bit borderline and ones that are definite. I believe that same balance now exists in Djent and that Djent has become a real subgenre.

I’ve had a lot of free time this week to sit and read blogs. Some of them have really got me thinking. I read a list questioning which are the most famous Metal Songs and most famous Metal Bands. Generally; I love these sorts of things. But then you knew that already, didn’t you?. I read dozens and dozens of these sorts of lists, on blogs and in Magazines and on Rate Your Music or whatever else.

The thing I’ve noticed in dozens of them is that, there’s a sort of mythical set of perfect answers. Some of answers of course are pretty hard to disagree with; Metallica, Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne for example. Ask everyone on a bus in the middle of Manchester to name as many Heavy Metal bands as they can think of, and I reckon those bands would come up quite a lot.

The thing is though, there’s quite a few other names that will regularly come up on the hypothetical average-list that are either controversial among metal fans as to whether or not they actually count as being metal or else are dubious as to how famous they actually are.

This isn’t necessarily a harsh criticism of metal fans and list-makers, but it does raise some interesting points that I think are worth stopping and thinking about. So; when considering who are the most famous Metal bands and Metal songs, you’ve got to ask yourself two questions. What is fame, and What is Metal?

Just a quick thought: Twisted Sister and Motely Crue are probably more famous than Bathory or Mercyful Fate. Bon Jovi are probably more famous than that. Limp Bizkit, Korn and Slipknot probably are too.

Machinehead, Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed and Bullet For My Valentine are probably all more famous than Queensryche and Celtic Frost nowadays too.

I say “probably” because there’s really no way of knowing. Fame isn’t really a quantifiable concept, its more of an informed perception. We all know that Coca Cola is probably more famous than Only Fools And Horse, but we can’t really prove it on an individual level without gathering gigantic, unrealistic amounts of information that none of us could really be bothered to gather. To actually know for certain you would have to ask everyone on earth if they had heard of each, and then record and compare the answers. You would also have to know that they weren’t lying and that nothing was altering the results.

There’s another issue. The silent majority. You know when you go to a concert and its absolutely full. Think of how many people attend Download Festival every year, and then how many attend a single Motorhead concert. There’s more at Download.

Why does that matter? Well; There are so many people who are casual in their interest of Metal. People who don’t dress as Metal fans, don’t blog about it, don’t talk about it at work, but do know every word to System Of A Down’s Toxicity album. You can look at a Chemistry student who has no indicators of being a Metal fan and who does talk to you about a dubstep song they heard at the weekend, but they actually absolutely loves Disturbed and Bullet For My Valentine and just didn’t bring it up. You can find a girl in a nightclub listening to indie bands who will surprisingly be completely able to drunkenly sing all the lyrics of ‘Run To The Hills’ at you upon request. You’ll find people posting about how much they love pop stars on facebook and when you go into their bedroom there is a huge poster of Zack Wylde.

What I’m getting at, there’s a heck of a lot of people who listen to Metal that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. More than the readership of Metal Hammer Magazine, more than the crowd at your local sold-out mid-October Down concert. There’s hundreds of thousands of people who don’t even consider themselves a Metal fan that could tell you who Lemmy, James Hetfield and Corey Taylor are just from a photograph. My own mother could. Yours probably could too.

So. When we ask ourselves who are the most famous Metal bands; we need to ask “famous to who?” – because I’m pretty sure the average drunk stroppy teenage girl taking ecstasy tablets when asked to name ten heavy metal bands are more likely to identify Slipknot than Venom.

If you played somebody Helloween’s “Keeper Of The Seven Keys,” Judas Priest’s “Painkiller,” Pantera’s “Walk,” Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie,” Motely Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and Europe’s “The Final Countdown” I’m pretty sure more people can identify the last two or three than the first two. There may be a few generational differences, and there may be a bit of bias in the form of people not wanting to identify bands that they dislike (human nature, its annoying aint it?) but I recon more human beings know the answers to the less Metal-respectable bands on that list.

The easy way around that it to choose who you want “fame” to apply to. OK. Say, we only count people who have at one time owned a copy of Reign In Blood and have attended at least one Metallica concert? More of them will probably still know Marilyn Manson than King Diamond. More of them could identify “Welcome To The Jungle” than “Pull Me Under” by intro alone, because its still more famous overall, even if you are a serious Metalhead. Because you don’t live your entire life in a Metal-bubble.

Well, we’ve considered what fame actually means now.
But hold on a second. What even is Metal?

Are Europe a Metal band? Well, some people say they are a Hair Metal band. Hair Metal is a type of Metal. Therefore by that logic, they are indeed a Metal band. Not so fast though; Some people say Europe are a hard rock band. Some people say they are a Pop band.

Are Led Zeppelin a Heavy Metal band? A heck of a lot of people would say yes. A heck of a lot of people would say no. What about Deep Purple. Watch any worthwhile documentary about Heavy Metal and there’ll be talk of Deep Purple. That being said, nowadays most people on the street would call them “classic rock” rather than “heavy metal” even though the actual term was applied to bands like Zeppelin and Purple and AC/DC for years and years. So are they Metal or aren’t they? They themselves might call themselves “Rock n Roll” but so does Ozzy Osbourne and even Motorhead. If “In The Name Of Tragedy” by Motorhead is just Rock n Roll then I’ve seriously got to start checking out Buddy Holly.

Ok. Well what if you decide that Zeppelin aren’t Metal but Black Sabbath are. What about Queen. You go listen to “Dead On Time” and “Son And Daughter” by Queen and tell me with a straight face that it isn’t as Metallic or Powerful as “The Wizard” by Black Sabbath.

How about if we decide that the first ever Metal album is “Sad Wings Of Destiny” then? What after that is still Metal? Are Metallica? Are Helloween? Are Pantera? Are Machine Head? Are Slipknot? Are Bring Me The Horizon? Are Cannibal Corpse? Are Korpiklaani? Are Emperor? Are Limp Bizkit?

You can say Limp Bizkit aren’t because the vocals are not like Judas Priest and there’s an extra instrument (the DJ). Well, Cannibal Corpse’s vocals are very, very different to Judas Priest’s and Korpiklaani have extra instruments (Violins and Accordions).

I’ll admit some Limp Bizkit songs sound nothing like Metal. Ballads, and songs with electronic drums and effects and no distortion. What about Black Sabbath’s “FX” “Fluff” “Laguna Sunrise” “Changes” and “E5150” ? What about Judas Priest’s “Epitaph,” “Last Rose Of Summer” or “Love You To Death”? Ballads, songs with no distortion and incorporation of electronics on some songs.

Even at that, some classic tracks by Metal’s originators (which weren’t intros, experiments or ballads, but just normal songs) are still less-Metal than some Hair Metal and Nu Metal songs. I’d wager Limp Bizkit’s “Gimme The Mic” is much more Metal than Black Sabbath’s “Am I Going Insane?” or “Solitude” or even “Behind The Wall Of Sleep.”

Going the other way. I think that Korn’s “Blind” is closer to the sound and spirit of the original Black Sabbath tracks than Cannibal Corpse’s “Frantic Disembowelment” does. Hell, I think Twisted Sister sound a thousand times closer to the sound of Judas Priest than Darkthrone do.

Then there’s the people who don’t think Metalcore bands are Metal, either because of catchy clean choruses, or because of the incorporation of parts of Hardcore. Well, Chaos AD is incredibly Hardcore Influenced. Anthrax and Nuclear Assault were Hardcore influenced. Are they no-longer Metal?
Helloween and Stratovarius have some of the catchiest, cleanest choruses going, so are they no-longer Metal?

The thing is though? Who can really say? Metal-ness isn’t a fact. Its an opinion. Its a negotiation for consensus.

Half of the people who say something is not Metal but something else have no clear, quantifiable, non-contradict-able reason why. Its either just that they don’t like the band and have mistaken their own opinion with fact, or that its not something that can be definitively and incontrovertibly proven in the first place. There is no mathematical definition of Metal. Some people think death growls preclude you from being Metal, just read all the reviews of Children Of Bodom by Yngwie Malmsteen fans from the 80s who demand melodic falsetto singing. These people will swear until they are blue in the face that “cookie monster vocals” are the opposite of Heavy Metal. Try telling that to the audience at Hole In The Sky or Bloodstock festival though, they’ll give you a swift and unpleasant rebuttle more likely than not.

At the end of the day, there are people who think Krokus and AC/DC are Metal and that Limp Bizkit and Deicide aren’t. There are people who think that Immortal and Pig Destroyer are Metal but Poison and Quiet Riot aren’t. Heck, until about three years ago even I called pre-Dio Black Sabbath was just classic rock and not Metal.

What is and isn’t Metal is up to your own interpretation, apparently. Except Iron Maiden, nobody has ever said Iron Maiden aren’t Metal. Lemmy says Motorhead aren’t Metal but at least Steve Harris calls Maiden a Heavy Metal band. There’s at least comfort in knowing that whatever else in this world is up for debate, Iron Maiden are undisputed a Metal band (Although you could mistake “Prodigal Son” for a Boston or Rush song if you weren’t paying attention).

So. I guess where I’m going with this is that, there is an element of what the dedicated Metal fans want and indeed expect to be the most famous Metal music. It is based partly on the personal taste of a few Magazine writers, partly on actual consensus and partly on a self fulfilling prophecy of what we’re continuously told. The list seems to cover one arbitrary point of view and one arbitrary period in time. It isn’t full inclusivity nor is it completely strict and based only on true original Heavy Metal. Its often after the first Heavy Metal Bands go reclassified to “Classic Rock” but before other subgenres became popular.

I mean, I can’t tell for certain, but I’m pretty sure more people know and care about Bullet For My Valentine and Slipknot than have ever cared about Venom. But most people who actually like music to the point of making lists don’t want that to be the case.

Similarly, I think that year on year, Deep Purple, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin gain more new fans than Venom do. But we’ve all decided that they don’t count. For some reason. That is not particularly logical or fair.

Then there’s the really commercial bands like Linkin Park and Bon Jovi. Almost (not necessarily if you’re being pedantic, there have been flops, but you know what I’m getting at) by definition of being commercial, more people will know a band. A huge amount of us decide that if a band are too commercial, they aren’t Metal anymore. Why is that? Part of it may be based in truth, but again, part of it seems to just be based on what we want.

Take home message; when we ask ourselves which Metal songs, albums or artists are the most famous, I guess you’ve just got to ask whether or not they are Metal, or who you are being famous too that counts for the purposes of the list. You could spend years aggregating every list and reference to bands in every magazine, videogame, radio-show, podcast and television programme ever made and still only have a small, biased sample of a few people’s impressions of which bands were the most famous. You could count every Youtube view and LastFm scrobble ever recorded and still ultimately not know what’s in people’s heads or even who’s heads to look in.

After you to went all that effort to find the correct numbers, there’d still be debate on who “counts.”

And that’s just “famous.” It gets even muddier when we go onto “most-influential.” Oh well, at least everyone knows when it comes to “best” that its just straight-up unarguably subjective and we can all admit its just our own opinions. (Well, the sensible ones of us at any rate.)

So; With all that being said, I’d like you all to answer in the comments, who do you think are the 20 most famous Metal bands?