Monday, November 25, 2013
The yellow and black attack is back with what many are calling their best album ever. Stryper recently released No More Hell To Pay recently and I sat down with lead singer Michael Sweet to talk about it. You can read my interview with him on page 36 of Rock Revolt Magazine:
Monday, November 4, 2013
How many times have you looked through a magazine or on the internet and saw a band fronted by a sexy female and automatically went into Beavis and Butthead mode? Well, a hot chick and boobs will only get your band so far in the industry. The Butcher Babies have been fighting this stigma since their inception in. They know that the true talent tends to rise to the top and develop legs to help maintain a long career in music. Their debut album debut album Goliath is about to be unleashed on the world. Will it be a step in the right direction in the development of those legs? Let’s take a look, or should I say listen and see.
Lead singers Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd did garner a lot of attention early in the career of the Butcher Babies for their nipple tape and outrageous stage shows, but these two ladies have the brains to back up their beauty. Their self-titled EP was released in 2012 and word began to spread. The last six to eight months have seen several keys pieces of the puzzle of their career come together as they signed with Century Media and began work on their debut album as well being picked by Marilyn Manson himself to open dates on his tour earlier this year. The buzz really started to grow for this new album as the band announced that they would be performing on this year’s Rockstar Mayhem festival.
The album opens with “I Smell a Massacre” and goes from 0 to 80 in about three seconds as the riff starts and is accompanied by a huge scream that grabs you by the throat lets you know you are about to get served. It’s a great lead-off track that sets the bar for what lies ahead. “Magnolia Blvd.” is another healthy dose of in your face attitude and features a crazy mix of vocals that run the gauntlet from screaming to clean vocals to a bit of spoken as well. It also contains some pretty insane double kick drum from Chris Warner as well.
“C8H18 (Gasoline)” is one of my favorite tracks on the album as it brings together all the elements for the musical perfect storm. The riff is big chugs along and the chorus is catchy as hell with its use of clean vocals. Another track that stands out is “Dead Poet” with its unusual arrangement, which begins and ends with sounds of a storm. In between those moments, the tempo goes from full throttle in your face to almost a complete stop with a short spoken passage before slamming the pedal to the floor again. It’s a very clever and unique arrangement that really makes this track standout. “Axe Wound” will also throw you completely off track with its acoustic guitar intro before tearing into some massive riffs.
Overall, I think the band delivers in a major way with this album. It’s intense, aggressive, and heavy and the riffs, provided by Henry Flury, are catchy and plentiful without sounding redundant. Carla and Heidi take the dual lead vocalist to a different level with their creative mix of screams and clean vocals. The rhythm section of Chris Warner on drums and bassist Jason Klein provide a strong, underlying layer to the Butcher Babies sound that may go under appreciated by some due to the two dynamic ladies garnering so much attention. Warner and Klein lay the foundation to which this might house of metal is built on.
This album was one of the most anticipated for the summer of 2013 and I think it delivers in a major way. I do admit that I wish “Mr. Slowdeath” would have been included on it. Hopefully, some of the haters out there or those with pre-conceived notions of the band will give this album a listen with an open mind; I think many will be converted over if they do. Then again, I don’t think the band really cares because as long as there are haters out there, then you know that you are definitely doing something right.
If you look on the list of Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2013, just about every list contained Trivium. For those who didn’t, they were taken into the dungeon and given 40 lashes with spiked cat-o-nine tails and some actually enjoyed it. For the rest of us, we have been waiting somewhat patiently for Matt Heafy and the guys to unleash another metal masterpiece. They set the bar pretty damn high, some say evening destroying it, with their 2011 highly praised album In Waves. Would they be able to deliver the goods with their new album Vengeance Falls for a legion of metal hungry warriors?
There were many who collectively moaned when it was announced that David Draiman (Disturbed/Device) was going to be producing the album. The band’s no stranger to David as their paths have crossed many times including playing on the same bill of the 2011 Rockstar Mayhem Festival. Many wondered what impact that he would have on the band’s sound for this album, while others worried that he may soften up the brutality that the band delivered on In Waves. I, for one, was pleasantly surprised when I first listened to the new album at the results.
The album opens with “Brave This Storm” and it slams the accelerator all the way to the floor fast. The flurry of riffs and double kick drum is as if the band is shouting out “We’re back mother fuckers!” and they definitely mean business. This track is definitely a stand out on this very solid album. The lead-off single is “Strife”, to which the band has released a video for, and for the most part it has been met very favorably.
Yes, you can hear changes in the band’s ever evolving sound, which is going to be met with some resistance. I think the riffs are more creative throughout the album and are far from being repetitive. I think the biggest thing listeners will notice is Matt’s vocal delivery. He’s raised his own personal bar by growing and relying less on his screaming/growling delivery and developing a more, somewhat melodic delivery showing much more depth. This will probably upset the purists who want him to stay the same, but I tip my metal hat to him for showing growth as an artist.
“At The End of This War” begins with a somber acoustic intro and as Matt begins to sing, you scratch your hand wondering if this is going to be a ballad of some sorts. Well, a mere 45 seconds into it sees the band quickly change gears and start cranking out the riffs. This is yet another stand-out track on many levels. It’s really hard to listen to this album and immediately think, ‘oh yeah, this is a filler track’, because it’s very solid from beginning to end.
Overall, I think it’s a step up from In Waves because if their growth that’s shown throughout. It’s definitely intense and powerful and loaded full of amazing riffs. If you came in wanting it to sound like earlier, pre-In Waves Trivium, then you will be disappointed. If you are expecting In Waves Part 2, then you will be less disappointed. I hope people will have an open mind before they even put this album on for a listen. Judge it for the work of art it is and don’t compare it to past albums. Crank this new album to 11 and let the air guitar playing begin!
Sammy Hagar has been known to throw some pretty legendary parties at his Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. When you have an address book of peeps like Sammy has, you never know who might show up and jam with him. There’s nothing quite like an exotic getaway with your toes in the sand, lots of awesome live music, an endless supply of tasty adult beverages and clothing eventually becomes optional. Ok, now that I’ve caused most of us to drift off and day dream about those surroundings, it’s time to come back down to reality before we all get fired from our jobs.
Sammy has been rocking the masses for almost four decades with Montrose, Van Halen, as a solo artist and most recently with Chickenfoot. He has just released his first album of musical collaborations in his illustrious career. Sammy Hagar and Friends may not be the most creative title in the world, but when you have friends like Taj Mahal, Toby Keith, Nancy Wilson of Heart, Kid Rock and Neal Schon of Journey making appearances I think the title nails it. The album features brand new material as well as creative re-works of some of Sammy’s favorite songs.
Let’s look at a couple of the new songs first and see what the Red Rocker and friends have to offer. “Not Going Down” is a song written specifically for Sammy by Jay Buchanan of Rival Sons. The nasty bass line that crawls throughout the entire song burrows into your head and hooks you from the start. The soulful backing vocals on the chorus along with the slide guitar add a bluesy element to the song that pops up more than once throughout the album. “Father Sun” has a feel of New Orleans to it complete with mandolin, accordion and lap steel. It this one doesn’t get you tapping your toes, then check your pulse please.
What about those guest appearances dude? Ok, ok, let’s talk about a couple of those now. “Knockdown Dragout” features the likes of Kid Rock on vocals, Denny Carmassi of Montrose on drums and a damn tasty solo from fellow Chickenfoot bandmate and guitar god Joe Satriani. It’s a high energy rocking number complete with the obligatory chant along chorus that screams rock and roll. “All We Need is an Island” slows the pace down to a mellower pace with a tropical feel and features the sugary sweet vocals of Nancy Wilson of Heart. Yeah, I’ll admit the song did transport me to a tropical island where Nancy Wilson was there waiting on me to join her for some yummy adult beverages; don’t you judge me.
Now, I know some people get turned off by cover songs, but I think these are more interpretations than covers. The Depeche Mode classic “Personal Jesus” takes a 180 degree turn in a hot, funky way with some nasty guitar work from the, still to this day, very underrated Neil Schon of Journey. Chickenfoot bandmates Michael Anthony and Chad Smith also make an appearance on this track. Holy HSAS reunion Batman! Well, almost but with Chad Smith taking the place of Michael Shrieve and Michael Anthony taking the place of Kenny Aaronson. Could Jimmy Buffet’s party standard “Margaritaville” get any better? Sammy and Toby Keith tackle this one and slow the pace down just a tad on it. They definitely add more of a tropical, calypso type of feel to it. A major thumbs up on the reworking of a song that many may have grown tired of hearing.
The deluxe version contains a DVD plus a bonus audio track entitled “Space Station #5”, which appeared on the debut album from Montrose. It features Denny Carmassi on drums, Bill Church on bass (both members of Montrose) and Joe Satriani on guitar and it was recorded live at a Ronnie Montrose tribute concert in This album could be the soundtrack to one of Sammy’s birthday bashes that he is known to throw at Cabo Wabo Cantina. The songs really do vary in style and composition, but I think that just adds to the overall atmosphere that it creates. 2012. The blistering guitar work featured on this album by both Neil Schon of Journey and Joe Satriani just may have many saying ‘Eddie who?’