3 Legged Dog - Frozen Summer
2007 Perris Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
They say you can't teach old dogs new tricks, but don't tell the constituents of 3 Legged Dogg such tripe. Collectively, this band comprises a who's who of eighties metal and hard rock that reads like a front-end batting order a Steinbrenner of music would be stabbing backs to piece together. Vinny Appice and Jimmy Bain alone carry the heaviest pedigrees on paper, while here-and-there Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo rounds out the band with former Bonham and Lynch Mob vocalist Chas West and guitarist Brian Young, who did a stint with David Lee Roth.
Twenty years ago, 3 Legged Dogg would've made fans disregard Badlands or Arcade as a phenom supergroup, but in 2007 this considerable collective of rockers sound more content to just hole up in the studio and play straightforward rock music with little-to-no-hints of their past endeavors. Only West and Lynch Mob ring familiar with 3 Legged Dogg and when you're missing the overtly flashy George Lynch, you're missing an entire element altogether. Cavazo and Young are no slouches themselves, yet the eight songs that comprise Frozen Summer are written in a laidback demeanor and there's no denying a sense of deliberateness to Frozen Summer to modern up instead of throw back.
Frozen Summer frequently sounds closer to post Badmotorfinger Soundgarden with dalliances here and there in eighties hard rock measures, but more importantly, there's a late nineties / early 2000s rock sound ala Creed and Soil on "Frozen Summer" or a funny blend of Candlebox and Sevendust (subtlely) on "Long Way Back From Hell." Not what you were expecting, I take it?
Of course, these gents being who they are, there's no surprise to hear songs like "Left For Dead" and "Wasted Life," perfectly at home on a Cactus (yeah, yeah, that's Carmine Appice's band, before you all start throwing the flags) or Aerosmith album. It's only the last song "Bring the Hammer Down" that could use a facelift, at least on specific parts, because the perfectly greasy verse riff that validates the song's existence is mucked up by a so-so chorus and an absolutely sloppy bridge.
Despite, there's no reason not to check out 3 Legged Dogg. It's mostly a fun listen and it's cool to know this assemblage is just tooling around with something they normally wouldn't have back in the day within the security of their reputations.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
3 Legged Dog - Frozen Summer
When launching The Metal Minute over the weekend, I issued a press release announcing the site and challenged my label and publicist friends to see who would get to me first with an interview request for The Metal Minute. I'm happy to say this was a fun exercise and a number of interview offers are on the table, and I will honor each of them to get the interview segement of The Metal Minute, Take 5, rolling properly. Over the course of time, you will see many of these five question mini-interviews crop up here at The Metal Minute.
Within a half hour of issuing my press release, I had The End Records on my phone, thus quickly winning the challenge. Therefore, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum will have the honor of being the first Take 5 victims for The Metal Minute.
Other artists you can expect to see in the immediate future are Fear of Eternity, Lethal Aggression and Within Temptation. I'm also in negotiations with three other immediate acts, so be on the lookout for a full onslaught of Take 5!
Monday, July 30, 2007
3 Inches of Blood - Fire Up the Blades
2007 Roadrunner Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
3 Inches of Blood caught the scene by surprise in 2004 with Advance and Vanquish, a screeching basilisk from hell that heralded blasts of old school power metal and thrash featuring not one Rob Halford-like squealer, but two. In 2004 the listeners were adamantly divided between the old school of metal thought and the new. In other words, you either dug 3 Inches of Blood or you didn't, simple as that.
Reign in Joey Jordison of Slipknot to man the production console and watch how many people take notice. Also, in three years, the younger breed of metal fans have learned that the old school isn't as fossilized as they once thought. With newer bands getting more and more articulate with melodic guitar solos and throwback power metal grooves to help them backpedal from the corners metalcore theory has halted them in, a band like 3 Inches of Blood finds its comeuppance in a scene more ready to accept them.
And man, do they seize the opportunity with squeezed iron gauntlets! On Fire Up the Blades, 3 Inches of Blood is far more relentless, much faster, a tad more brutal, but still maintaining that old school spirit of fun that belongs in this sound. If "The Goatriders Horde" sounds like it should've been on Judas Priest's Painkiller, that was probably the intention. Twin shriekers Cam Pipes and Jamie Hooper hit the same piercing falsettos, but the production this time around, plus some old-fashioned vocal discipline streamlines the shock value of those raspy rebel yells and makes them more homogenous.
With Alexei Rodriguez setting the pace with neck-cranking double hammer blasts and the rhythm section of Justin Hagberg, Shane Clark and Nick Cates keeping time with absolute fluidity, 3 Inches of Blood is a fine-tuned .289 of blistering power metal with finessed speed and symmetrical old school rock and thrash grooves that allows them to sneak in a subtle Deep Purple/Rainbow breakdown in the middle of "Trail of Champions" or a cheeky mix of NWOBHM and sleaze metal licks on "The Great Hall of Feasting," a song that stomps with perfect bobbing precision.
Blending a tempered devotion to traditional power metal on "Assassins of Light" (check out those wicked guitar solos on this one) and "Black Spire" with a bloody cheerful thrash blitz akin to old masters of the eighties speed underground like Whiplash and Znowhite on "Demon's Blade," 3 Inches of Blood is no longer a circus oddity of the metal revival. They're a reclamation of what once was, God bless 'em. This is one of the most proper traditional metal albums of 2007.
***Special Note: Check out 3 Inches of Blood's MySpace page and listen to a radio soundbyte of none other than Rob Halford endorsing these guys. These dudes have to be cranked!
photo from Roadrunnerrecords.com
Atlanta art thrashers Daath were recently sidelined on the road, forced to miss out on the Oklahoma and Phoenix dates of Ozzfest. Bands scraping the highways in clunker vans is a common bond in the scene, yet graduating to a full-fledged tour bus still didn't eliminate the customary road woes, as the band explains:
"At the start of the tour a company which will remain nameless rented us a converted airport shuttle bus. On paper it sounded perfect for us but in reality it was an uninhabitable, undriveable piece of shit. The shuttle bus had no [air conditioning] at all that was working or could be fixed without spending at least a day on it. In some cities it was hotter in there than outside. The thing also barely ran. On the first full day we had to replace the alternator at our own cost. Any time you turned the thing on it bounced around like a washing machine, The emergency exit wouldn't open, there was no fire extinguisher, it was improperly wired on the inside so that none of the appliances worked reliably, the hookup for the trailer lights didn't work and you couldn't read the gauges at night because the internal panel wasn't well lit enough among other things. We were roughing it out with that thing but finally last week, right outside the House of Blues in Hollywood, the transmission on it fell out. That's why we missed the Phoenix Ozzfest. We didn't have a way to get there. The company we rented it from did nothing to help us out. We were going to have to pay for it out of our own pocket and miss more shows even. We decided to ditch it and rented an RV. We set a date and time for a pickup from Denver and when that date arrived the RV didn't. In fact, there's no [estimated time of arrival] on the RV. Supposedly it's in San Fransisco. We currently have no confirmed way out of Denver. We are going to figure something out soon. If you're wondering why we've been missing shows then wonder no more."
transcript by Blabbermouth.net
After relocating to San Francisco, Black Cobra is about to set out on an extensive U.S. tour throughout August with Saviors before the boisterous duo take on Japan in September with Eternal Elysium in tow. Here's the upcoming itinerary:
8/02 San Francisco CA @ The Eagle Tavern w/ Saviours
8/03 Portland OR @ Kelly's Olympian w/ Saviours
8/04 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon w/ Saviours
8/05 Missoula, MT @ The Palace w/ Saviours
8/06 Salt Lake City UT @ Burt's Tiki Lounge w/ Saviours
8/07 Denver, CO @ 3 Kings Tavern w/ Saviours
8/08 Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge w/ Saviours
8/09 Chicago, IL @ The Note w/ Saviours
8/10 Bowling Green @ Howards Club H
8/11 Lansing MI @ Mac's
8/12 Parma OH @ Jigsaw Saloon w/Rue
8/13 Rochester/Buffalo NY @ TBA
8/14 Boston MA @ O'Briens Pub
8/15 Providence RI @ AS220
8/16 New York NY @ Club Midway
8/17 Philadelphia PA @ North Star Bar
8/18 Baltimore MD @ North Star Bar w/Coalesce, Pig Destroyer
8/19 Asheville NC @ Joli Rouge
8/20 Atlanta GA @ Drunken Unicorn w/ Zoroaster, Music Hates You
8/21 Gainesville FL @ The Atlantic
8/22 Tampa FL @ Transitions Art Gallery
8/23 Athens GA @ Repent as part of Metalfest '07
8/24 Memphis TN @ Black Lodge w/Damn Your Eyes
8/25 Little Rock AR @ Downtown Music
8/26 Denton TX @ Rubber Gloves
8/27 Austin TX @ Emo's
8/29 Albuquerque NM @ TBA
8/30 Tuscon, AZ @ Vaudeville Cabaret
8/31 Phoenix, AZ @ Modified Arts
9/01 Los Angeles CA@ Relax Bar w/It's Casual, Lightning Swords of Death, etc.
9/21 Nagoya, Japan @ Huck Finn w/Eternal Elysium, Nice View, Vex, Amber Vial
9/22 Hamamatsu, Japan @ Mescaline Drive w/Eternal Elysium, Shady Glimpse
9/23 Kawasaki, Japan @ Bottom's Up w/Eternal Elysium, King Goblin, Concrete Experience
9/24 Shinjuku, Japan @ Earthdom w/Eternal Elysium, Church of Misery, The Dead Pan Speakers
9/25 Fujisawa, Japan @ Oppa-La w/Eternal Elysium, Omega Supreme
9/28 Gifu, Japan @ 51 w/Eternal Elysium, Junky Waltz, Heartstar
9/29 Osaka, Japan @ Shinkagura w/Eternal Elysium, Birushanah, Ryokuchi
9/30 Nagoya, Japan @ Day Trip w/Eternal Elysium, The Sad Mile, Yung Guitar
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Slough Feg - Hardworlder
2007 Cruz Del Sur Music
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
There is a veritible underground out there who feels that Slough Feg is the last true metal band left on the planet. A pretty bold assessment, but then again, Slough Feg's miracle working of taking King Crimson and NWOBHM theories and making them sound fresh gives their disciples a little something to crow about. Certainly Slough Feg is one of metal's most unsung heroes.
On their sixth album Hardworlder, Slough Feg concocts a quasi-concept album based on their delectable comic book-inspired cover penciled by cartoonist James E. Lyle. Slough Feg's choice to place their narrative in outer space, which normally one would associate their traditional metal sound as terranean Manowar, Iron Maiden and Saxon-ish ("The Sea Wolf" and "Insomnia" from this album being prime examples) is interesting, but the bottom line of Hardworlder, according to the band, is a glass-half-full metaphor for perseverence in a hostile climate. Obviously Slough Feg's dedication to old school power metal limits them any shot at being commercially embraced, but suffice it to say, the stalwart reputation they've gained in the metal community is far greater to them than reaching through to the metalcore or emo sanctions.
Hardworlder is another winner of an album for a band that does it effortlessly, and while their low-end production reveals the occasional miscue, there's no denying this is their most strident effort to-date. The guitars of Michael Scalzi and "Don" Angelo Tringali are perhaps larger-than-life, as if Thor bequeathed him his hammer in their studio. They rule all over the triumphant "Tiger! Tiger!" and they sound like late 70s guitar gods on the UFO-ish "Galactic Nomad."
Despite a couple of unnecessary covers "Dearg Doom" by Horslips and Manilla Road's "Streetjammer," Hardworlder's original material is another staple in the career of reknowned underground purists who perhaps missed their chance at mainstream immortality, but as inspired as they sound on Hardworlder, we can just pretend it's 1981 and declare Slough Feg metal gods.
Sample the album by clicking here: Hardworlder album
Les Claypool - Fancy DVD
2007 Prawn Song
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Les Claypool and Primus may not be considered your prototype metal musicians, but then, neither are Mike Patton and his various post-Faith No More projects, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas and Tomahawk. Still, a large contingency of metalheads revere Claypool, not just because he is one of the greatest bassists alive, not just because "Tommy the Cat" became a fan-favorite on the original Headbangers Ball, but because there's still something metal about him in an oddball sort of way. Maybe it's because Claypool can slap out thundering low chords from his bass as easily as he can squeal out greasy licks. Maybe it's because Claypool rides his four-string companero like a lead guitar. Or maybe it's the way Primus, Oysterhead, Colonel Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade and Claypool's solo band turn dimes from psychotic alt-funk into a bowel-stirring chum bucket of heavy tempos and metal-like grunt grooves. Whatever it is, it's not just music nerds and prog heads that dig Les Claypool.
On his DVD Fancy, Claypool (who sometimes looks like Gallagher with a derby) is flanked by an unlikely squadron (unlikely if you're anyone but Claypool) of non-metal musicians, and yet, the entire collective plays with the attitude of metal in their decidedly weird microcosm, and their sound comes off as refreshingly chaotic, if not altogether bizarre.
Currently in tow with Claypool is Gabby La La, who often steals the show when she turns her long-necked sitar into a powerful rock instrument. At times her notes are clearly and crisply sitar, while at others, she extracts fuzzy guitar-like vibrato. La La, who plays other instruments, is the perfect foil to Claypool, as is saxophonist Skerik, who blats a baritone sax with such ferocity it likewise produces the illusion he's playing guitar in low key. Cake drummer Paolo Baldi is simply phenomenal with his deep-layered fills atop the main pounding funk and rock rhythms Claypool demands of him, while Mike Dillon rounds out the ensemble with a tenacious blend of xylophone and marimba percussion.
Extracted from various cities, Claypool pulls out material mostly from his solo albums Purple Onion and Of Whales and Woe, plus material from his Les Claypool and The Holy Mackerel days. Thus Fancy jams, jams and jams some more as Claypool frequently howls and shrieks his normal lunatic tirades, while dictating a step-heavy pace to a band that is more than up to the task. When you pan atop the stage and see this positively looney assemblage of instrumentalists, you have to wonder how it all gets pulled off, at least at face value. Let it ride and see how well it works...
photo by Wikipedia
On Friday, July 27th, Kiss performed as a trio in San Jacinto, CA on the band's "Hit and Run" mini tour as Paul Stanley was rushed to the hospital with what is being called a "cardiac event." It was Stanley himself who told his bandmates Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer to go on with the show because he was reportedly concerned about the distance many Kiss fans traveled to the show, as well as constrictions in Kiss' schedule that would prevent them from rescheduling. Without Paul, Kiss performed a full set of Simmons-led songs such as "Christine Sixteen," "I Love it Loud," "She," "Cold Gin" and "Watchin' You." Eric Singer handled lead vocals on "Nothin' to Lose" and "Black Diamond." Simmons called the scaled concert as "a tribute to “The Greatest Voice in Rock and Roll - Rock God Paul Stanley.”
Mexican death squad Hacavitz found themselves decimated in half when bassist Antonio Nolasco and guitarist Eduardo Guevara left the band shortly after the release of Hacavitz's Venganza album of 2005. Undeterred, the remaining members Oscar Garcia (drums) and Antimo Buonnano (vocals, bass, guitars) have plowed on as a duo. Their current album is called Katun. Morbibund Records notes the new album "summons eldritch energies from their native Mayan lands, and Hacavitz reaps a whirlwind like no other, infusing death metal with a dangerousness too long missing from the ancient artform."
Century Media Records announces that "Metal maestros Arch Enemy are proud to present the artwork for their upcoming, highly anticipated new masterpiece Rise of The Tyrant, which will be unleashed in the U.S. on September 25th, 2007."
Arch Enemy has also released their upcoming fall tour dates in North America with supporting acts Machine Head, Throwdown and Sanctity:
09/07 House of Blues - Anaheim, CA
09/08 Jillian's - Las Vegas, NV
09/09 Soma - San Diego, CA
09/11 Rialto Theatre - Tucson, AZ
09/13 House of Blues - Dallas, TX
09/14 Meridian - Houston, TX
09/15 House of Blues - New Orleans, LA
09/17 House of Blues - Lake Buena Vista, FL
09/18 Masquerade - Atlanta, GA
09/19 Hooligans - Jacksonville, NC
09/21 Palladium - Worcester, MA
09/22 Nokia Theatre - New York, NY
09/23 Sonar - Baltimore, MD
09/24 Norva - Norfolk, VA
09/26 Trocadero - Philadelphia, PA
09/27 Evolution - Buffalo, NY
09/28 Opera House - Toronto, ON
09/29 The Medley - Montreal, QUE
10/01 House of Blues - Cleveland, OH
10/02 House of Blues - Chicago, IL
10/03 First Ave - Minneapolis, MN
10/05 Harpo's - Detroit, MI
10/06 Orbit Room - Grand Rapids, MI
10/07 Pops - St. Louis, MO
10/09 Gothic Theatre - Englewood, CO
10/10 Sunshine Theatre - Albuquerque, NM
10/12 The Warfield - San Francisco, CA
10/13 Avalon - Hollywood, CA
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Yakuza - Transmutations
2007 Prosthetic Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
A lone wolf jazz saxaphone blows melancholia amidst a slowly escalating dirge melody, as if Isis hooked up with Coltrane in some smoky, overlooked crevice in underground America, and suddenly jazz gets swallowed into disruptive metal splints and mad dog death riffs with astounding precision. This is the controlled chaos of "Egocide" from Yakuza's jaw-dropping follow-up to their groundbreaking Samsara album, Transmutations.
Beck took a stab at calling one of his albums a sans-trans Mutations, but not even his sense of avant guardism can match up to the sheer eccentrism of Chicago's Yakuza, and if you're a geek for disturbed art metal, this is the warped transmutation you're going to be plying for. Yakuza is one of those truly undefinable bands with a gift for creating innovative music with their boots planted firmly in metal's dirt, and yet their affinity towards jazz, psychedelia and classic rock can make you think Zeppelin before you're suddenly whisked into swirling thrash modes without warning like "Praying for Asteroids" does in a breakneck manner.
Yakuza's talent for merging the harmonious with the truly whacked makes them soothing one minute, positively brutal the next, as evidenced on "Congestive Art Failure" where a false calm opens the song before pummeling the snot out of their rhythm lines with pounding tempos and a catatonic mix of deranged clean and hard vocals. If you're going to describe a metal song as cataclysmic, this one is a perfect example.
Yakuza is so in-tune with its sharpened weirdness that a song like "Raus" trades a Rocky Balboa boxer on-the-skids gloom soundtrack with forlorn verses that uses its subtleties to demonstrate the band's heaviness before going berserk on the ensuing cut "Steal the Fire," one of Yakuza's more straightforward death metal overtures that benefits from accurate gallops and technical wizardry that puts Yakuza into their own class bred from some conservatory of the damned. Trust me, because the decidedly black metal-ish "The Binding" will creep you right the hell out before Yakuza switches gears on the Voivod-heavy dizzying glory of "Existence Into Oblivion." And let us not discount the acoustic and sax-driven "Perception Management" which comes off like Page and Plant having made a Luciferian pact with Bleeding Gums from The Simpsons playing his swan song beneath.
Is brilliant a sufficient enough superlative?
Greetings to all of our readers, old and new. As you can see, Pulses, Verses and Other Flotsam ceases to exist, at least in its original incarnation. What has become is something I've been dallying with for some time and now is the time to go for it: The Metal Minute.
Most readers dropping in lean towards the heavier side of music, so it's only natural to take this logical step forward. Here at The Metal Minute, be on the lookout for daily items such as news, CD and DVD reviews, photos (as you can see in the right column) and interviews with your favorite metal musicians. Here's how things are going to change and how one feature will remain the same:
Once a day, check here at The Metal Minute because you will find writeups of current metal, punk and hardcore material, ranked on a one-to-five scale. I'm very excited to for the future with what I'm calling "Take 5," which is a series of interviews with musicians who are asked five questions for The Metal Minute. I know this format will be fun and efficient since we're all a bunch of on-the-go people.
Repeat Revolutions Wednesday will remain intact, so count on participating with your repeat plays as you've been doing faithfully. You newcomers, chime in; we love hearing from you!
From time-to-time, a random backtrack album will surface for discussion, so let's get involved, keep it heavy and make this new venture all that it can be. As they say, pardon our dust as the page undergoes transformation. Most of the transition is complete, but a few random changes will occur as we progress.
Thanks as always for your continued readership and my gut has told me this is the right way to go, so I apologize to my non-metal readers; if you'd see my desk with the promo piles, you'd understand!
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 3:43 AM
Friday, July 27, 2007
So this week we've had another fuzzy visitor in our house, Sweetie, the bunny from my wife's classroom at the day care she teaches at. Sweetie is just that, except for last night when she bit my thumb, which was only annoying because I was exhausted from a 12 hour shift, but granted, she was letting me know she didn't want to be picked up after I tried a couple of times. This morning, my wife knocks on the office door and tells me to come out and there's Sweetie, hopping around. The cats don't what to make of our guest, who goes back to the preschool on Monday. I'll post a photo shortly. Our female cat Neo, gave Sweetie an eyeful, while the boy cat Anubis just kept jumping away from Sweetie and hiding behind my back when he was too unsure, drawing closer only when he felt safe. Animals are funny that way.
You know, I can't stop listening to Queens of the Stone Age, even when I deliberately break away, and of course, Eagles of Death Metal won't get away from me, either. I'm avoiding Kyuss at the moment, not because I dislike them; I love them! I just know I'm going to have to get cracking on promo when I still keep spinning the new Prince record a lot as well. And once I get my Sirius fixed, oi...
But anyway, it dawned on me, and tell me if you guys agree, that I hear a hell of a lot of prime era Kinks in QOTSA. It's all over Era Vulgaris and while I used to think that "Little Sister" from Lullabies to Paralyze took off wildly from the old eighties MTV theme, there's a giant Kinks root in what Josh Homme is doing musically there and in most of his music now, and perhaps that, plus his sense of American grime rock and blues is why QOTSA is absolutely irresitible. It's a theory.
Then what in the world is up with all of these primadonna divas out there? I think only Madonna's latest headline in which she ripped a British reporter a new bum hole for making the comment "Lucky bastard" in reference to her and Guy Ritchie's adopted son David is the only one I respect. As a prospective adoptive father, I can relate to that. Maybe the reporter meant that the toddler (who happens to be black) gets adopted into a famous white family or maybe because David was being held close to Madonna's bosom, which (no disrespect intended) is quite lovely, to put it nicely. I've always defended Madonna through thick and thin, so I really applaud her for socking it to those trashy paparazzi. She's cleaned up her own image so much you have to be happy for her.
On other hand, what the hell is up with the younger breed of lost children divas out there? Okay, so Paris Hilton skips out with an easy jail sentence, reportedly has two flings and is recording a new album (who I invite to allow me to watch the recording sessions to make sure there's no one else singing in her place) which will have so much digital cleanup you won't know for sure if she is the real deal or not. Paris is the wrong face for a nearly hopeless generation, and it doesn't help that Lindsay Lohan can't keep off the coke, nor Britney Spears keep from getting into any kind of trouble. I won't rehash what we already know about her, but now it's reported she's fired another assistant after previously firing her cousin. The reasoning is Britney thought her three-week long assistant was talking smack about her and letting business emails go awry.
Well, Hell's bells, doesn't all of this make you want to vomit? There's real problems out there that should gain attention, not this drawn-out daily melodrama that I feel exacerbates the irresponsible behavior in these ladies. As far as I'm concerned, Britney is hung up over Justin Timberlake and every single wrong act she's done since has been a backlash from that. I invite Britney to grant me an interview to refute what I'm saying. I feel bad for her, honestly. I think she is so upset over that breakup and having a lack of a stable infrastructure of family and friends that she's gone off the deep end. Hanging with Paris was bad for her, and I think at least was smart enough to recognize that. Someone decent put a limb out for Britney before it's too late, eh?
Maybe Lindsay's done too many Disney movies, or maybe she took the admittedly cool Mean Girls movie too seriously, but seriously, hon... Wasn't her father fighting her for some of her money too? 180 days in the clinker is what she's facing now, but you have to wonder if she, like Paris, will only do a fifth of that time. Go on a hunger strike, Lindsay, and shave your head while you're at it! You'll get your sentence relegated to house arrest immediately thereafter!
All of this is just wrong.
photos from Wikipedia
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 7:16 AM
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Okay, so I went for it and didn't go to bed until I finished Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, and all I can say is that it's a sheer triumph. Everything I wanted out of it I got and a revelation about a major character that I'd suspected since Order of the Phoenix came to fruition, exactly the way I called it. Amazing the amount of character who bit it, but Rowling was so smart in her death sentences and I think she does her little universe and her fans quite proud with this amazing finale. And on that note, I'll wait for you other readers to catch up.
And I got the new Prince album, which for the few non-metalheads that poke in here, is a lot better than 3121 and even has his hottest song I've heard from him in ages, a funk jam that digs back to the eighties Minneapolis sound. Yeah, baby...
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 8:18 AM
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
It's that time of the week again, amigos y amigas!
No need to recycle the events of my week because you pretty much know it. I'm now 500 pages into the new Harry Potter book and am just dreading how this thing's gonna resolve since J.K. has really, really outdone herself action-wise in this thing and I'm not going to spoil things for anyone, but I can relate to the dilemma of who's going to survive and who's going to die, given the fates of certain characters in my own novel, which in retrospect may be a little naive, but hell, it was my first book, I'm almost out of the contract with the publisher who has done squat to promote it, and maybe a rewrite may be in order, unless the next publisher agrees with what I've already done. Still, as J.K. can probably tell you, the pen is not only mightier than the sword, it is the sword!
So musically this week I've been on a heck of a Cure kick, listening to just about the entire catalog spread throughout the week, while resting on the darkly atmospheric Bloodflowers, which I've grown to appreciate more and more, and of course, my favorite Cure album Head On the Door. I think about how influential The Cure has become upon modern music, spreading into various genres beyond alternative, such as Goth, electronic, art metal and even black metal. The latter makes particular use of The Cure's dirgy synthesizers, and it's a heck a revelation. Then again, Pornography might as well be held in regard with Venom or Bathory as an early black metal album, if you really sink your fangs into that. It's a dangerous album, regardless.
Speaking of black metal, I was sent a hell of a care package on the Japanese black metal band Chthonic, and these guys are the real deal! Mixing traditional Japanese instrumentation with explosive extreme metal, these guys are pretty amazing. I believe they're on Ozzfest with Behemoth as the black metal underdogs who may steal the thing with monster rockers Lordi, just as Behemoth did with Sounds of the Underground when I covered the festival last year.
As I mentioned earlier, the promos are piling in, and I'm about to hook up interviews with Ministry, KMFDM, Obituary, Droid, Amorphis (take 2 - the last time I tried to interview these guys a few years back was a total train wreck), and a couple of huge names that I'm holding in reserve until they're officially booked. I've been assigned a piece on Metal Blade Records' 25th anniversary and originally the label and I were working on something quite special, but the cracks opened and swallowed, so now it's back to the drawing board. They're good peeps over there, so hopefully it'll be a rock 'em sock 'em piece once we get it wrapped. I have an interview with Dave Chandler of Saint Vitus that I originally did for my book, but I was asked to bump it into Hails & Horns magazine, so that'll be a special treat coming down the pike for myself and the readers...
The new Smashing Pumpkins album became my most repeated play this week, and honestly, the first spin-through really didn't do much for me, but I left it in the truck during my mulitple runs to the bookstore on Friday and the thing really grew on me. I truly suggest giving Zeitgeist a few spins before passing judgment because it takes a little getting used to, one, because Billy Corgan is older and sounds thusly until you've heard it a few times and then it weirdly sounds like his younger self, and two, the Pumpkins in this reincarnation sounds like a big rock band instead an alt rock band. It's more heavy rock-oriented instead of alternative, but again, you grow acclimated to it the more you spin it. At least that's my "professional" take on it.
Then there's the new 3 Inches of Blood album Fire Up the Blades, which Roadrunner just sent out to me. Amazing. One of the best pure metal albums I've heard in awhile. I'm gonna have to get more descriptive than that when I do an official review, but this album's a barnstormer, plain and simple...
My man Prince has a new album out this week Planet Earth, and I hope it's a little better than 3121, which is a good album, don't get me wrong, but far too conservative for my tastes. I realize Prince has had a religious epiphany and I applaud him for it. I also realize that the man is a commercial superstar and I'm sure, despite the whole "Slave" protest against Warner Brothers that may have been rebelliously romantic back then, it also killed his industry cred, which I think has become more important to him of late. I personally stuck by Prince through the whole idiosyncratic phase because I think he created some exceptionally raw and powerful music during that period, and he was the best halftime show I've ever seen (along with Paul McCartney), but 3121 was so "safe" it seemed obvious that Prince wasn't about to exchange his rediscovered mass appeal for nothing. We'll see how Planet Earth measures up. Word on the streets is that he does nothing new with it (which an oxymoron since Prince has always been a radical songwriter) but it rocks and protests, which always appeals to the rabblerouser in me.
So what's everyone listening to this week?
1. Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist
2. Eagles of Death Metal - Death By Sexy
3. Dag Nasty - Minority of One
4. Big Brother and The Holding Company - Cheap Thrills
5. The Cure - Bloodflowers
6. The Cure - Head On the Door
7. Chthonic - Relentless Reassurance
8. Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris
9. Ministry - The Last Sucker
10. Billy Sheehan - Cosmic Troubadour
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 6:20 AM
Saturday, July 21, 2007
So this was a pretty hard week, since my wife's car just about went belly-up and the repairs carved a large gash in our pockets. I had to cancel out on a Detroit Cobras gig with Bob Vinyl until we knew what our solution was, but I think we're gonna be alright, so much my gracious wife told me at zero hour it'd be alright to pick up the new Harry Potter book.
Granted, I'm not so naive that I didn't expect a fight on my hands to procure a copy during the midnight madness sale last night. In fact, I'm glad I'm not in London right about now, where a reported 5000 people queued up to get a copy, hours in advance (days for a few geeky diehard line-sitters). Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows is the literary event of the year, perhaps the decade, because I doubt highly we're ever going to see this kind of fanatical mania over a book again in this society. Frankly, I find it impressive that this digital and nano-addled generation can take pleasure in a simple manual gadget that requires human input, control and imagination...a book. Trust me, all of us writers out there should pay J.K. Rowling tribute for keeping the spirit of reading alive, especially since we're one day doomed to extinction. Having sold about a few hundred copies of my book Mentor, I worship the fact J.K. has attained such stratospheric success and once I get past this music journalism business that has been utterly successful for me, I hope to find that magical book plot that hooks readers. There's things in the pipeline, I assure you.
But I digress...
Supply and demand being what it is in every country--even in a land o'plenty such as the United States--the aura of uncertainty hangs over your head in an event of this magnitude. The hype over whether Harry lives or dies (and no, don't ask me to cheat and breeze to the end like some girl did after getting her copy and shrieking "Oh, My God!" in front of a reporter) perhaps had others who aren't such hardcore Harry fans out in droves to snag a copy. Maybe it's curiosity, maybe it's that "this will one day be worth hundreds of dollars" syndrome like that ridiculous "Death of Superman" storyline that DC Comics tricked everyone with back in the early nineties (I should know, I worked in a comic book store at the time and recall laughing at the giant line outside our doors for 2nd printings of the "death" issue, Jesus wept), or maybe Potter Power is so huge parents can't escape appeasing their anxious children. Harry Potter was intended for them. Let's face it; by end of summer, kids will be literally harassed and called dweebs by their peers if they don't know how the series resolves.
Keeping all of this in mind, we talked about the book at my job and at least a couple of us decided at the last minute to make the attempt to get copies. I'm a big fan of the series and the other books have been literal drugs for me. I'm just as much a Harry Potter nerd as the witches, Dementors and replicated Harrys who tromped around Barnes and Noble last night, though I settled for cargo shorts and a Prince t-shirt. Half-Blood Prince from the sixth book? Prince the musician? Okay, a weak attempt to worm into the "in" crowd, not that it was my intention; I just thought of that now in retrospect.
Anyway, I was going to wait until the initial blitz had gotten their copies, thus allowing me to keep working on my articles and finish Stephen King's Lisey's Story, but you know, I got to thinking how much the last two books especially brought me right out of my daily grind and into Harry's fantastical (and decidedly darker as of Order of the Phoenix) world that I'd considered addictive light fare throughout the first three books, which I'd consumed in record time. I deserve a break, don't I? So what if I have eleven interviews to book? Don't even get me started on the CDs I've yet to review...
So I joined the rat race to get the last book once my wife gave me the green light.
Selling Harry Potter and The Deathly Gallows at midnight reminded me of concert or sporting event tickets or Guns 'n Roses albums or blue light retail chain store specials. The fact a book was causing this gimmicky ploy was fascinating, if a bit of a pain in the ass, but then, I'm a weekend night owl anyway, so it was just a matter of doing time in line, which, trust me, was considerable when all was said and done.
Now here comes the point of this post: I first went to Waldenbooks on the way home, inquiring if they'd be open at midnight and if I could do a pre-order on the spot to come back later and pick it up. They had a table at the front of the store in the mall manned by a couple of enthusiastic older women who were obviously eating this event up like mango and sweet rolls, and as I approached them, they asked for my name, thinking I'd reserved my copy in advance. Alright, I'm not stupid; I know all about the reservation action and only once have I ever thought to put something on advance, which I felt dumb about later when I saw a ton of copies sitting around. I told the giddy bats I wasn't on their list but wanted to be. I even had my wallet halfway out to show them I was serious.
Well, what I got told was that yes, they'd be open at midnight (which I believed since I think someone put a little mary jane in their prune juice) but no, I couldn't pre-order, and worse, I couldn't stand in line! They were servicing only those who pre-ordered and telling other customers to wait 48 hours for the reserved folks to get their copies before checking back in. Are you kidding me?
At one time, Waldenbooks was the number one book retailer in America. My grandfather especially looked forward to visiting their stores when I took him. It was all so overwhelming for him at the time. Imagine what he would've thought about Borders and Barnes and Noble! The point is, Waldenbooks was the go-to mass market book peddler in the U.S., so much an event like Harry Potter would've been something they'd champion for all readers, not just pre-order peeps. To turn other customers away indicates to me that their market power has taken giant hits from Barnes and Noble especially, who, let's face it, is the elite book store chain in America. Personally, I hope it doesn't get any better than them, but they're perfect as it is...if a little pricey. The mighty Waldenbooks has suddenly become a minor league player in the parchment pushing business.
Those old ladies told me I was welcome to come and join them for a Harry Potter release party at 9:30, and I really felt that sense of hypocrisy oozing beneath their smiling facades, as if they had embodied the brutally nasty Delores Umbridge from Order of the Phoenix, so much I was willing to bet these ladies would've detained me and made me use a magical skin-grafting pen that carved "I Will Pre-Order All Harry Potter Books From Here On Out" into my hand! Joke's on them, though, since there's no more to come...unless J.K. has an epiphany to bring Harry back to his fans for future magic yarns. You never know, though I'm putting my money against that.
I then called Barnes and Noble to ask if they had extra copies for those of us losers who didn't have the foresight to put a deposit down on the book, and I almost gave up, honestly. However, the message said that they were accommodating customers only who had a wristband, which non-pre-ordering people could obtain by 9:00 pm. I had pizza in the oven, it was 6:50 and you better believe I was looking for Hagrid's dragon to heat that damn pizza quicker! I jetted down to Barnes and Noble, pizza on on a plate on the passenger seat, 40 minutes away from me, blaring the new Smashing Pumpkins album that I finally got a promo of, and I walked into the store and felt more secure in the world because I was taken right over to the non-pre-order station and treated with more respect, given a blue wristband and a ticket for my copy. Barnes and Noble stated that the wristbands were indicative of the amount of copies they had for sale, so no matter how desperate the situation looked at midnight, everyone with a wristband of any sort would get their book.
I went back home, got dropped in on by friends, so we shot the breeze until I went back down to the store. Right about now I'm starting to feel like a moron, but I really do love the series and I sure as hell don't want to walk into any stray conversations about the book and not having my own copy yet. Yeah, I gripe about marketing and how brainwashed people are, but in this matter, I'm just as gullible as the rest.
The local news was covering this event at the particular Barnes and Noble store I went to, and I got there at 10:45 since they advised the line would form at 11:00, and believe me, they needed a solid hour to get the line formed! Seriously. The way it worked was that reserved patrons had a gold wristband and were given priority over newcomers. Fair enough. I have no qualms about that. The thing that started to grate on my nerves, though, as the store looked like a Renaissance festival, only with a Harry Potter twist, was that the golds had stripe and sub-color designations, meaning red with one to five stripes got first pick, in order, then gold with blue stripes... This took 45 minutes alone to get organized and honestly, us blue wristband Sneetches were starting to get a little disheartened the longer the line wove throughout the shelves in the store. Then when they announced gold bands with green stripes, it got a little noisy in there from the blue sanction. Even I muttered an obscenity or two.
The staff organizing this circus were real professionals, I admit. They used balloons as stations with roving people carrying them for you to spot and find your place in line. The blues were starting to get rowdy and we all kept following the line master like puppies (myself included) until we were finally given our spots in line. Yeah, we blues had stripes on our bands, but I think the line master was getting the shits of the whole thing and it was two minutes to midnight (yes, I sang Iron Maiden in my head at that irony) when we were in line at a faaaaaaar stretch in the store, so much that when midnight struck, the loud whooping from the front of the line sounded like it was across the street. I snickered when one of the blues deep in queue gave the finger to them.
I also had to laugh because the first two people to get the book were a couple of ex-hippie baby boomers, the wife dressed in a wizard cloak, and these graying youngsters looked so happy. The Woodstock generation still knows how to manage and beat a crowd; they're experts, obviously.
It seemed like forever by the time they allowed us blue peons to move, and by this time we saw people clutching their copies like they'd won a million dollars and were beating the crap out of each now to treat their groups to Starbucks in celebration. Some people hit the deck and cracked their books open right away. Someone in line asked "What's the last chapter called?" and the guy--a young twenty-something--said "I don't know, I'm not looking." Cheers, mate.
My back was on fire, my ankles about ready to give; I call my wife and she's chewing on the leftover pizza in my ear, so that was hopeless, and finally the line starts to give and I think it was only really maybe another 20 minutes beyond that by the time we gained access to the registers. I put my faith in the universe that there'd be a copy for me and as I looked behind me and saw new arrivals being ushered into line--as well as a few late goldies who got taken to the end of the gold line in front of us (I think they should've been punished for their tardiness, to be honest) and then I saw that there were even more stacks of boxes at the registers than I saw when I came into the store. I smiled, breathed easy and took note that the balloon guys, having successfully managed the lines, were suddenly on register duty. It was amazing, and though I wanted to laugh when my cashier refused to produce my copy until I showed my wristband, I smiled and left the store and called my wife. "Yo Adrian, I did it!" I said to her in a tired voice. We've come to use that little joke to one another when it comes to something you have to work a little extra for.
I pushed on home at 1:30 a.m. and veered away from the cops who were pulling speeders and drunks over like no tomorrow, and I had the funny vision of getting pulled over from being too tired and having to say "No Officer, I haven't had a drop. I just came from the Harry Potter book sale!" Then again, on a certain stretch of 140, they're used to the sight of my maroon pickup catting through the early hours after covering gigs. I've gotten enough warnings from them for being to sleepy to drive, yes indeedy.
I got home at 2:00 a.m., and wifey (who's usually dead to the world hours before this time) was amazingly up and about, shuttling laundry, which I was grateful for since I end up doing it most of the time, and I laid down on her and recounted the night's story with my copy of the book laying on the bed nearby. Our cats joined us and curled up on me as cats tend to do when you're sick or worn-out.
This 37-year-old Potter fan then took his broken body to the tub at 2:30 a.m., knowing that the gym was not in the cards the next morning and I saw a couple of chapter titles that raised my eyebrow and as the thing opens with Snape selling out Harry's potential whereabouts to Voldemort, the drug was back in my veins. Damn you, J.K., and love you, just the same...
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 8:20 AM
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Welcome back to another Repeat Revolutions Wednesday and I'm glad to have you around once again. Not having a very good week just yet as my wife's car broke down, hurrah! I'm calling a dead starter and have a nice consensus of mechanics agreeing in the prelim stages, so let's hope that's the final analysis. My back's freakin' killing me, which is interrupting my flow at the gym after losing 11 pounds in two weeks. You know how it goes, you lose the water weight real fast then everything else is a bitch to shave off...
But I remain optimistic as always, which makes me hopeless I guess, but if you don't have that, would do you have in this life? Getting ready to gear up for a giant interview blast after talking with vocalist Shane Told of Silverstein last Saturday. The advance of the final Ministry album The Last Sucker came in and they're going out on a strong note, spitting on Bush's shoes all the way to the last strum. Very loud, but real lean and mean with tight songs and a few digital beat blasts that sound amazing. Also up is the new Obituary album Xecutioner's Return, which is also very solid and sounds like it was recorded on a vintage analog machine since there's a classic 80s metal sound to it.
After rushing to beat the band (nyuk nyuk) to turn my column in to AMP magazine (this month's guests featuring Daath and Candlemass), I'd have to say that I went on a short Scorpions kick, which is always fun, and I've changed Queens courts to Queensryche and I just cannot get Operation Mindcrime II out of my face right now. I gave it a good review when I got it, but after reviewing the Mindcrime at The Moore DVD, I have a firmer appreciation for this album. It really grows on you if you allow it to, and that's part of the thing, to allow it to grow on you instead of wallowing in preconceptions or blowing it off after one listen. It's a very solid Queensryche album and once you see the whole story unraveled between both installments, it makes more sense. Besides, like Al Jourgensen, it's Bush that prompted Geoff Tate into action with this sequel. I always say a pain in the ass Republican is always great for rock 'n roll because they all band together and write some of their best music in retaliation. I dunno, maybe next week I'll be hanging out with my Queen Latifah discs, so stayed tuned...
And oh yeah, I'm perfectly fine with Poison's music as a guilty pleasure, but last night I remembered why we used to have the Bret Michaels dart board in the eighties. Who's the biggest whore on VH-1's Rock of Love, the ladies fighting to climb his dick or the dick himself? Absolutely lame and I growled at my wife for infecting our t.v. with that shit. My back's gotta get better quickly before she traps me with Scott Baio is 45 and Single. My kingdom for a time machine and cat 'o nine tails so I can the flog the crap out of the irresponsible son-of-a-bitch would came up with this "reality" garbage. Stephen King was ahead of his time with "The Long Walk," which became The Running Man in film.
You know the drill, cough 'em up!
1. Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime II
2. Paradise Lost - In Requiem
3. Entombed - Serpent Saints
4. Scorpions - Lovedrive
5. Bad Brains - Build a Nation
6. Ministry - The Last Sucker
7. Queensryche - Empire
8. Balboa/Rosetta split
9. Arsonists Get All The Girls - The Game of Life
10. Weedeater - God Luck and Good Speed
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 6:43 AM
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Alright, I can get pretty hard on Metallica, but what the fuck, man? I'm sure you all heard about James Hetfield getting detained at a British airport because his scruffy, squared-off beard that made authorities believe he was a Taliban terrorist. I mean, wow, how clueless can you get? The Brits are usually far more intelligent and sophisticated than this. Maybe we've all become just so accepting of individual expressionism here in the States it doesn't faze anyone, not that he looks outlandish or anything...well, you be the judge by this photo I found at AutoDogmatic.com:
I mean, hell, Tom Araya of Slayer is seen with a long, graying bird's nest on his chin on the DVD that accompanies the new special edition release of Christ Illusion, so he'd better reconsider in light of these developments. Then of course, there's Tom's riding partner Kerry King, who just might find himself in a Most Wanted terrorist dossier:
And then there's Scott Ian, who'd better reconsider his terrorist-hinting goat:
And you know these guys have been bomb-making threats since the mid-seventies:
I feel safer already knowing the truth has been outed at last, don't you?
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 7:03 AM
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Here in America we have so much choice, which of course comes because we're the land of opportunity. Maybe we're at a creative peak in this country or maybe the avenues previously closed to aspiring artists, filmmakers and writers have opened up due to population growth and technological advances.
This weekend I saw both Transformers and Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix. I thought both were fantastic popcorn films and was particularly in amazement by the relentless action and fluid CGI effects of Transformers, so much that I'm proud they took the extra three years to finish it after the project was leaked and reported to be a turkey. The end result is anything but.
This may be one of the best summer movie seasons ever because I also saw Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Spiderman 3 and Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End, and while I bit disappointed by the stupidity of Pirates, it's been an overall fun time in the theater this summer and there's still yet The Simpsons Movie to come as far as my "must see" films. I didn't get to see Shrek 3 and doubt I'll see Ratatouille in the theater because there's just so much time and disposable income to keep up.
Remember when the summer movie season consisted of one, maybe two genuine blockbuster films that everyone looked forward to for months? Now because we have computers to aid the filmmaking process, larger-than-life fantasy films are flooding the theaters without giving us viewers a chance to keep up and catch our breaths! Ticket prices what they are, it's a pain in the ass, but it's also exciting that so much cool product is coming out, but let's stop and think a minute. As lavish as Transformers is, twenty years ago it would've been the commercial toast of Hollywood, but it already had to fight the success of Spiderman 3 and a week after lighting up the box office, it has to fight Harry Potter, and we know for a fact the highest Transformers is going get in this week's receipt take is second place.
I mean, let's face it, any of these previously mentioned movies could've been the lone mega summer hit back when stunts and effects were done manually instead of with computer assistance. Granted, CGI is getting more and more impressive as it goes, so much even foreign films are making good use of it like in Pan's Labyrinth or The Brothers Grimm, but do you remember when a Star Wars film ruled the summer or Indiana Jones or Superman? They're finally working on the fourth Indiana Jones film for an early 2008 release, and thank God it's not scheduled for summer, because who the hell knows how many incredible visual extravaganzas are coming our way next year? All I know is that winter is going to be a kids-book-turned-epic-movie fiesta as I saw previews last night for The Golden Compass, The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Dark is Rising, and lo, we'll be clamoring into the theaters each weekend again...
The point is, all of this wonderful selection of eye candy is a lot of fun, but sometimes you have to think we're trying way too hard and throwing way too much out there for consumption. All of the lesser-known films or serious films have little to no fighting chance when Hollywood raises audience expectation to the level it has of late.
And music? Don't even get me started. I just got the advance of Ministry's final album, the advance of the new Obituary and well, I'll stop there because summer is also red-hot for ramming new bands down people's throats. Healthy commerce is good, but...
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 5:50 PM
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday night was filled with lots of joy in the fact that I got to see a bunch of my dear friends, ladies I've been in the business with for a good while, and it did my heart wonders to hang with my sisters and catch up. Then another one of my gal pals left me this gem of a picture on my MySpace page.
Every time Friday the 13th strikes every year, I can't help but reminisce over the fact that there was a movie to commemorate each year, it seemed, and while a large chunk of those Jason Voorhees splatter epics are pretty danged awful, each year nowadays makes me feel like a new film's going to creep outta nowhere just for the spontaneous nostalgia of it all. It never does, of course. Perhaps Freddy vs. Jason has done the Friday the 13th franchise in, though when I interviewed Betsy Palmer (aka Pamela Voorhees) last year, we discussed the talk of a remake of the original Friday the 13th, and she cracked me up how she vehemently said "It just won't work!" To this day, Betsy only receives royalties, not from the first film that she starred in for $10,000 in order to buy a car that cost $9,999, but she gets them for her few "stupid" lines (her words) in the second film as Amy Steel tries to trick the potato sack Jason into thinking she's his chop-happy mommy.
As the eighties progressed, the Friday the 13th series became larger than Betsy and even Jason Voorhees, even if he's the principal vehicle of the whole enchilada. The unstoppable killing machine caused many of us Generation Xers to flood those theaters every year, and sometimes the films were released on an actual Friday the 13ths, which made it extra special. I used to get our neighborhood kids into the theater when we were young teens, because at 14-18 I looked older and nobody gave me crap when I said the rest of the younger-looking dudes were with me. I only missed Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (the first three films notwithstanding) in the theater because I was grounded at the time. My neighborhood gang was most upset, to say the least! And for some reason I thought Alice Cooper was in the film, since wrote the title track for it "(He's Back) The Man Behind the Mask," a song recently covered by One Man Army and The Undead Quartet. No Alice in the film, but it is still a great dumb film anthem that's cheesy as hell but still lots of fun.
Sing with me.... "Heeee's baaaack....he's the man behiiiiind the mask...and he's outta control..."
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 1:57 AM
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Just for fun, imagine a band you want to see so badly in a specific environment, be it a certain venue, a certain location, a certain country, whatever. Can you imagine Kiss at The Acropolis or Prince at your local honkytonk dive? Or how about Entombed at some beach stage, terrorizing the bejesus out the bronzed beachers? The sky's the limit here, folks. Right off the bat I'm thinking I'd really dig seeing that Queensryche Mindcrime fiesta or maybe Isis in an Asian amphitheatre, complete with the lit lanterns and all of that. And let's have the Japanese drumming ensemble Kodo open up for them. Gads, what bliss...
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 6:43 AM
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Hey, everyone, what's happening out there? Can't believe Monday's post was my 300th already! Weird. Guess that doesn't merit some sort of iconic award or anything, not that it should, honestly. Gads, I'm sleepy. But anywho, thanks to you all who read on a regular basis. I would've dumped this thing without you.
So this week's Repeat Revolutions finds me still stuck on Queens of the Stone Age, though the heavy hitter of the week is Lamb of God's phenomenal As the Palaces Burn. This was the album that broke them and I'm still mesmerized by its power. Though I think they're still one of the heaviest acts in the mainstream, they've yet to duplicate the raw intensity of this gem. Speaking of Queens-named bands, the new Queensryche DVD Mindcrime at the Moore is nothing short of phenomenal. I'm picking this already as the metal DVD of the year. They put their hearts into this performance and Geoff Tate has the opportunity to go into other avenues of performing arts should Queensryche ever disband. Amazing.
I organized my promos over the weekend by publicist and label categories in an attempt to identify where I'm slacking, so I need to get a move on in that respect and review stuff like there's no tomorrow! A band I've really gotten turned onto is Montreal's Blinded by Faith. Some compare them to Dimmu Borgir, but I find Blinded by Faith to be far less sinister and evil and much heavier. This is a very smart band with a talented rhythm section, so that'd be my primo promo of the week, which I'm going to dump that feature. Some prog metal band from MySpace called Scale the Summit dug up my snail mail and sent me their album, which is actually very good. I like that it has a raw sound, so whenever they get signed and put into an expensive studio, it should be interesting to hear whatever comes out.
Last night I had an interview with Lady Uwa of Lordi just as they're about to kick off Ozzfest. I loved the fact that all of the interviews for Lordi have been consigned to the phones and directed to each member's hotel room in order to try and protect their identities. People have confused Lordi as being a Gwar ripoff, which is not the case. They're more like Kiss with a wild, fiery stage production and while they're in monster costumers, Lordi's music is devoted strictly to recapturing the fun of eighties power metal. Their sound is like Accept meets Raise Your Fist and Yell-era Alice Cooper. Dee Snider does a voiceover on the opening skit and other musicians bring cameos such as Mark "The Animal" Mendoza, Bruce Kulick and Udo Dirkschneider. Tres cool. These Finnish ghoul cools won a major music festival, overpowering the rest of the globe's entries by an overwhelming amount of points. They were criticized by their own country for their outlandish look and having a song called "Hard Rock Hallejuia," but after winning, they're now heroes of Finland and have their own soft drink, and now Lady Uwa told me that Lordi is going to be in an upcoming horror film where they're the villains. Poor Lady Uwa kept apologizing for the hotel's phone, which occasionally dialed in the middle of our chat, but it was fun and she revealed to me a funny secret about being timid with horror movies, even though she plays a vampiress onstage. Love it.
I hope you all are having a good week; I've been going to the gym on a regular basis and only yesterday did it really kick my ass, though I stayed for 70 minutes and kept grueling through it. I've resolved to get healthy and trim a few pounds and get my cardiovascular back to the tip top shape it was in when I used to run. Thankfully the machines I'm using simulate running and walking, and I'm doing well and feeling good. I will be in shape by the time we get a child placed in our home, which is the goal; to have the strength and energy to keep up with them and enjoy their company. So here's this week's list. Let's have yours, if you please...
1. Lamb of God - As the Palaces Burn
2. Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris
3. Blinded by Faith - Weapons of Mass Distraction
4. Queens of the Stone Age - Rated R
5. Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf
6. New Order - Substance
7. Scale the Summit - Monument
8. Snot - Get Some
9. Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
10. Lordi - The Arockalypse
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 6:56 AM
Monday, July 09, 2007
I had started cranking on this topic when I came across David Amulet's thought-provoking shootdown of 1967 and the glorifying many people put on it because such integral music came from that era. Click here to check out David's thoughts on the matter: The Musings of David Amulet
I feel very fortunate to have been born in 1970 because a lot of different music styles and variances have come along in my lifetime. Sometimes I wish I hadn't been a young kid more obsessed with baseball cards, Star Wars and The Dukes of Hazzard when punk originally started in London and New York in the late seventies, but you can't alter being a kid, not without paying for it one day in your adult life. Given the pulsing dirge of disco that loomed over our heads in mainstream America at the time, Kiss was one of the few respites until they themselves turned disco. But there was plenty of hard rock and early forms of metal in the seventies which could be heard on a rock station if you had one in your neck of the woods. And then you had pure funk and soul that was really good, and even country music was on its final gasp of goodness in the seventies before going pop in the next three decades. But in general, I look at what was going on beneath the surface in music and it really was a subculture then! It got little to no attention unless you were a strict insider! Now Blondie, Talking Heads, The Ramones and Sex Pistols are revered as legends, mostly because they all found notoriety years later. Maybe that's the oddity known as being ahead of your time.
Still, there are times I wish I was alive when The Doors came out as well as The Beatles' Revolver, Rubber Soul and Sgt. Peppers, because those albums strayed so far away from The Beatles' bubblegum beginnings it had to have been amazing to behold. I wish I had attended Woodstock, but then again, talk to most people who went there, and you're not going to get a hell of a lot of detail. Apparently what went on there stayed there, outside of the fantastic film documentary. David Amulet's point about there being just as much garbage in this timeframe as there was brilliance is accurate, and that can be said about any time period, honestly. Were the eighties so great? Yes, absolutely, but it also stunk in certain aspects. We were perhaps the most exploited we ever were as consumers then; hence a British hardcore band screamed about it. The nineties? Yes, music in America for the most part was bullshit, but the cartoons were amongst the best we'd seen in a long time. At least we can now look at the nineties and formative bands such as Jane's Addiction who put music onto a course it took almost a decade to catch up to. Again, being ahead of its time.
Right now, the diversity in music has been the greatest it's ever been, and that's mostly due to technological advances that allows differing voices to be heard. It's a veritible Renaissance even as music itself is struggling to save its soul. But getting to the topic at-hand, aside from the albums I mentioned, I really wish I'd been alive to see rock 'n roll as it birthed. I get told by my stepfather especially that all there was at the time was Dean Martin and fluffy "adult" crooners, so when Carl Perkins came out of the sticks to bridge blues and country into a more bestial sound, it was a huge wakeup call. With Elvis, a declared revolution. God, what an amazing time that had to have been, to see the teens of those post WWII years coming alive from a hazy funk of music, even as America was starting to get its economy on-track. Racism was still a big issue, but Little Richard, Larry Williams and other black bluesmen turned rock 'n roll and the kids were listening, even as their parents crudely demanded they destroy their 45s because of their skin color. The ultimate rebellion! Everything else has been artifice since.
I also wish I was alive to see the big bands, the early years of jazz, much as I want to see the bop jazz movement of the fifties. I want to see Swinging London and mod era as everyone was Romancing the Stones and the British Invasion. Hell, take me back a couple hundred years so I can behold Mozart, Mendelssohn and Bach and see if there were flaws in their original compositions before future generations had a chance to polish them up for posterity. Man, it's all so overwhelming...
Anyone else out there wish they were alive at certain periods in music they missed out on?
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 7:07 AM
Saturday, July 07, 2007
In light of Metal Mark's blazingly accurate pan of Def Leppard's Hysteria Heavy Metal Time Machine I kept thinking about albums over time that had great expectations but failed to deliver when they finally arrived.
Now, of course this topic is a bit subjective and highly opinionated because there are a diverse amount of people for and against these albums, just using Hysteria as an example. For myself, it was the most memorable letdown I can think of because their previous two albums Pyromania and High and Dry are legitimate hard rock album that signal the only time the Leps were truly great. Of course, there's a thousand people out there who think "Pour Some Sugar On Me" was the 1987 equivalent to Beethoven's 9th, but that's your prerogative if you feel that way.
So here's a little handful of big disappointment albums, according to my personal taste. What about you all?
1. Def Leppard - Hysteria - Not to beat a dead horse, but I truly felt brokenhearted when I got this tape (yeah, tape). Except for "Gods of War" I couldn't really relate to this album whatsoever. I think of this as the drunken party girl's Def Leppard. I nearly smashed the tape to bits, I was that upset.
2. Motley Crue - Girls Girls Girls - It was hard to swallow when the jocks I lifted weights with who had previously called me a Satan worshipper for wearing a Shout at the Devil shirt were now coming to me for approval when this turd came out. I know I confused the hell out of them when I laughed and said it sucked, that it wasn't my Motley Crue. Seriously, the self-titled Crue album with John Carabi and New Tattoo blew this turkey into oblivion, regardless of how successful it was.
3. Judas Priest - Turbo - Same story as the Crue; the jocks started wearing Turbo shirts and thinking they were cool like Mark, myself and our comrade Floyd. NOT!!!! Okay, so "Turbo Lover" is a guilty pleasure, but I think this one was the hardest to take because it was the fucking Priest, man... Who was next? Venom?
4. Metallica - Load - Sing with me to the tune of REM... It's the end of this band as we know them...
5. Yes - Big Generator - Gimme a B... Gimme an O... Gimme and R... Gimme an I....
6. Whitesnake - Slip of the Tongue - Ten killer solos by Steve Vai...what do you remember about this album?
7. Quiet Riot - QR III - Kevin Dubrow is a nice guy (yeah, I said it) and a terrific interview, but maybe getting left behind the first time by the rest of the band wasn't such a bad thing after this monstrosity. Ka-thud!
8. Madonna - I'm Breathless - Yes, I like Madonna. Even to this day I still want one night alone with her before checking out of this life. Pop music's greatest chameleon always creates a stir whenever she releases a new album. This one was pimped pretty high because of the tie-in to the Dick Tracy film. It's only on my shelf because "Vogue" is a good, dumb pop song. Otherwise, Jesus wept...
9. Menudo - Reaching Out - GOTCHA!!!! Just making sure you're still with me. The only great expectation about a Menudo is seeing how many people think it's worth a yard sale.
...aaaaaaaand last but not least (and I know you're wondering where the hell it was on this list of ineptitude)....
10. Celtic Frost - Cold Lake - Poor Tom... The man's been spending the last year-and-a-half apologizing for this album, which I naively thought I'd had the scoop on in my interview with him (heh), but I'm hearing lots of people say they got the same apology when talking to him. Sucks when you have to do that for an album, doesn't it?
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 1:49 PM
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Hey there, y'all... Happy 4th of July to everyone! This year I'll kick the platform to the side and spare you of my annual political rhetoric. I'm just not in the mood, honestly, and I'm just content to celebrate what is good about this country instead of worrying about what we're doing to fuck it all up.
Enough of that. I already posted last week about the new Bad Brains, Beastie Boys and Queens of the Stone Age, and needless to say, these were my top three repeat revolutions. It was honestly amazing I was able to get 12 CDs reviewed over the weekend, because I'm absolutely stuck on QOTSA's Era Vulgaris. It's so damned infectious, and after I spun the Bad Brains' Build a Nation about 5 times, and the Beasties 8, I cannot get away from the Queens, so much I even gave Lullablies to Paralyze a couple of spins, plus I downloaded a ringtone of just the riff part of "Sick Sick Sick" from Era Vulgaris, which does sound really cool when the cell rings.
One of the CDs I reviewed recently was the new SOD "EP," Rise of the Infidels. There's four new studio tracks including two covers, and then one of the reunion gigs from a few years back. In some ways, I found the whole thing offensive, considering the skirmishing between the parties involved, but then, there's a hilarious sequence of new "Ballads" they do live, giving you a series of "You're Dead!" roasts to Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, INXS, Frank Sinatra and Nirvana. The beauteous part is that they did this in Seattle and made a point to do the Nirvana "ballad" twice, then you hear Billy Milano and Scott Ian telling the crowd to stop spitting at them. A great moment in underground rock, if absolutely childish and vulgar.
Somewhere in the middle of it all I got onto a day's worth of a Smiths kick after watching a BBC concert of theirs on VH-1 Classic while alphabetizing the newest keeper CDs onto my shelf, so that was a neat diversion. Morrissey really was a weird performer back in the day, and it's almost comical to look at his towering, squared-off coif, but man, that was a great show. Strangeways, here we come...
1. Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris
2. Beastie Boys - The Mix-Up
3. Bad Brains - Build a Nation
4. Verismo - City of Kings
5. KMFDM - WWIII Live 2003
6. Tia Carrera - Heaven and Hell (this is a sludge metal band, BTW, not the actress)
7. Kamelot - Ghost Opera
8. SOD - Rise of the Infidels
9. The Smiths - The Queen is Dead
10. Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 2:49 AM
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Many thanks to Robert at Metal Injection.net for the invitation to write as a regular on the site's blog. I've just posted a write-up of Chris Caffery's Pins and Needles album along with a cool in-your-face shot of Caffery with his guitar neck comin' atcha...
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 2:26 AM
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Maybe I'll move this feature to Sundays now, or maybe I'll keep it Friday, I dunno, but I'm behind schedule this weekend as some friends I don't get to hang out with as much as I should dropped in on me and we ended up in a nice battle of Risk, which anyone knows takes longer to play than Monopoly, unless you have a neo-Napoleon who knows how to crush you quickly. I'm trying not to take myself and my part-time work so deadly serious, so though I'm up early on a Sunday to post this and get moving on my reviews, it was nice to drop what I was doing and hang out with the dudes and get out of myself for a little while.
So this week's Primo Promo comes from Twisted Sister. I did say I was on a Twisted kick this past week, sorry... This is a review for Hails & Horns magazine. I sent a copy to the man himself, Dee Snider, and got a nice little response back. He's still the man, period.
The Video Years DVD
Rhino Entertainment Company
Still to this day one of heavy metal’s bigger casualties, TWISTED SISTER could’ve ruled the world, as the band attests on The Video Years, a compendium of the band’s wildly entertaining promotional videos, along with a lost MTV concert from 1984 that used to run as regularly as The Real World and The Osbournes in its time and place.
The tragedy lies in the fact that TWISTED SISTER had become bigger than life so quickly because of their hilarious cartoonish videos featuring Mark “Neidermeyer” Metcalf for “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” that almost never saw the light of day at MTV before everyone realized the capital value those videos would eventually rake in. Prior to TWISTED’s breakthrough success on their Stay Hungry album, the band couldn’t get an American deal to save their lives, so they went British and released their pivotal Under the Blade album on Secret Records. Thus began a legacy of notoriety that was undone by the time TWISTED SISTER released their ill-fated Come Out and Play and Love is For Suckers albums that fell largely short of their previous trifecta of greatness that also included You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n Roll.
The Video Years not only presents a time capsule of one of the best periods in rock video, but it corrals testimonials from all five members of TWISTED SISTER, which is a treat unto itself since Dee Snider has single-handedly long put himself out in front of the press to lament over the fate of the band he loved so much. Getting to hear the views of Mark “The Animal” Mendoza, AJ Pero, Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda and Jay Jay French paints a more rounded picture of what happened to the band from success to failure, and their stories deflate some of the romance of becoming a big-time rock band, particularly when they opted to release a weedy studio cover of “Leader of the Pack” as their first video single from the wobbly but sometimes cool Come Out and Play album, a move the band unanimously decides was career-altering. Prior to that, MTV had decided that their stellar power ballad “The Price” from Stay Hungry wasn’t worth the time they hypocritically dedicated to its zany predecessors. The writing was on the wall.
On the DVD, a special delicacy comes via some incredible early career footage as Dee Snider struggles to win over a British television crowd obviously squeamish about TWISTED SISTER’s outlandish image. Not only does Snider wipe his makeup off to endear himself to his audience, out of nowhere comes Lemmy and Robbo of MOTORHEAD to save the day onstage. Needless to say, this display of camaraderie is exciting to behold.
Another gem on The Video Years is the unedited version of “Be Chrool to Your Scuel,” a video that was originally banned from MTV because of the over-the-top zombie party that was gory only in a comical sense. Featuring a duet with Alice Cooper and cameos by Tom Savini (who also did the zombie makeup ala Dawn of the Dead in the video) and Bobcat Goldthwait, the video is long and in some ways funnier than the madcap Metcalf pieces. By today’s standards, the grue is tame, and the fact MTV refused to air it when the song was first released in 1986 is a bone of contention with the band even to this day. Oddly enough, the trimmed version of “Be Chrool to Your Scuel” tends to crop up on both MTV2 and VH-1, particularly around the Halloween season. Redemption or sanctimoniousness? You be the judge.
Along with the now-famous 1984 MTV concert that was just debuting songs that would become monster hits for TWISTED SISTER as well as classic crushers like “The Kids Are Back” and “Under the Blade,” The Video Years is a must for fans of the band, just for the nostalgia alone. Pay close attention to the story behind the MTV special and how Dee and the guys feel they completely blew it at this concert.
Most importantly, The Video Years is recorded documentation of a band that took forever to hit the limelight, but once they did, it was a whirlwind ride that screeched to a halt abruptly. Most people forget that Dee Snider took on the PMRC at a crucial time for heavy metal. He would be the first to note he felt betrayed by the metal community at-large, however, after watching The Video Years, the acknowledgement he and the boys in TWISTED SISTER concede is that a series of miscues and misfortunes spelled the end of a band that had a lot more to give to its public. Without knowing it, Dee Snider wrote a prophecy with “The Price,” and it should be the band’s legacy anthem, not “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” Still, with last holiday season’s A Twisted Christmas and now this retrospective DVD, all you SMFs out there can sing it loud and proud, because the kids are back…
Posted by Ray Van Horn, Jr. at 7:26 AM