Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Black Label 'Berzerkus' Strikes Atlanta

Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society unleashed some serious heavy metal fury onto the Atlanta Chapter who gathered at the Masquerade Club's outdoor music park
on October 23rd. This was my first BLS concert, and it certainly won't be my last, because this band's live performance rivals almost any other I have seen in my 23 years of being a rocker.

From the moment Black Label Society opened their set with Sonic Brew's "The Beginning... At Last," they offered up a no-frills, ass-kicking, rock and roll experience. Almost one year ago to the date of this show, I saw Kiss (one of my all-time favorite bands) for the second time. And if you ask me, Black Label put on just as good (or even better) of a show--but with none of the gimmicks or flash, and ten times the heart and soul.

As much as I enjoy Black Label's older material, one of my favorite things about the show was getting to hear tracks from the new album Order of the Black. I've been hooked on this album ever since it came out in August, and it was especially great to hear the hard-hitting "Crazy Horse" as the second song of the set. Other songs performed from Order included "Overlord," "Parade of the Dead," and "Godspeed Hellbound." Each of these new tracks sounded well-rehearsed, tight, and polished--but they didn't lack any attitude or raw energy.

Although this was mainly a night for hard rock and headbanging, the band toned it down for their performance of the ballad "In This River." This beautiful tribute to the late Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott featured a montage of photos on a projection screen, which added to the already emotional moment. Zakk played piano for this song, which was an exhibition of his true musicianship and artistry.

In the middle of the set came Zakk Wylde's spectacular guitar solo. I'm no guitar expert, so I can't get too technical here. However, I know what I like to hear. Zakk's solo was complex, rich, and totally captivating. He started playing in the middle of the stage near his killer skull microphone, but he then made his way to the sides of the stage to play for the different parts of the audience. It was so surreal when he made his way to the right (his left) side of the stage where I was standing. I couldn't believe I was only four rows away from a living guitar god. I was in awe watching his hands and listening to the sounds that were coming from his guitar.

Zakk is not the only showman of Black Label Society. I spent a great deal of the show watching guitarist Nick "Evil Twin" Catanese. Not only is he talented enough to keep up with the legendary Zakk Wylde, he is great at engaging the crowd. I stood at the side of the stage where he was playing, and he made a lot of eye contact and enthusiastic gestures to the adoring fans.

Bassist John "JD" DeServio came to my side of the stage a number of times, and I really enjoyed watching him move around the stage and swing his long dark hair, all while being deeply immersed in his strong bass riffs. The heavy rhythms of all of the songs were completed by Will Hunt's bold and aggressive drumming.

Two of my favorite Black Label albums are The Blessed Hellride and Mafia, so it was incredible to me that selections from those made up the bulk of the setlist. The energetic classics "Fire it Up," "Suicide Messiah," and "Funeral Bell" elicited major responses from the crowd. "The Blessed Hellride" was HUGE with the crowd singing the chorus. I was also pleasantly surprised that my favorite song from BLS's 1998 debut Sonic Brew
"The Rose Petalled Garden" made its way into the mix.

This show had many memorable moments, so it is difficult to pick just one major highlight. Personally, the encore selection of "Stillborn" was especially important to me. This song means a lot, as it was my first Black Label song. I became a fan the moment I heard it, and I still get chills each time I listen. Finally hearing it performed live intensified those feelings.

I left this gig as an even bigger Black Label Society fan, which I didn't even know would be possible. It definitely was everything I had hoped for in a concert--and more. Any hard rock fan seeking a flawless musical performance by sincere and genuine artists should make it a point to see a Black Label Society show.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax Play Jägermeister Music Tour

The Jägermeister Music Tour brought metal legends Megadeth and Slayer along with special guests Anthrax to the Knoxville Civic Coliseum on September 30th, 2010. Metal bands don't normally come to Knoxville in this capacity or to a venue that's much larger than a night club, so this was a particularly exciting event for my friends and me.

Special guests Anthrax opened the show and kicked off their brief 7-song set with "Caught in a Mosh" from 1987's Among the Living. They followed it with "Madhouse" and "Antisocial," which got a huge crowd response during the choruses. Another major highlight from their set was the performance "Indians," during which vocalist Joey Belladonna theatrically ran around the stage wearing colorful Native American Indian headdress.

Anthrax also played two tracks--including the John Bush-era "Only"--that were not from the first Belladonna tenure. However, the newly reunited singer pulled them off fantastically and gracefully. Judging by the audience's reaction of cheers and screams, they were excited and surprised to hear the ultra classic "Metal Thrashing Mad" from the bands 1984 album Fistful of Metal as the encore.

The tour's co-headliner Megadeth took the stage next, opening their set with their legendary album Rust in Peace in honor of its 20th anniversary. Rust in Peace's first track "Holy Wars" is always great to hear live, it really set the tone for all of the metal that was to come when the entire album was played "cover to cover." I also enjoyed hearing "Hangar 18" and the album's title and closing track "Rust in Peace."

After the band played the full album, they wrapped up their set with an assortment of hits. "Trust" is one of my favorite songs of theirs, so that was a major highlight for me. The biggest highlight of Megadeth's set was their final encore of "Peace Sells." The last time I saw Megadeth, Dave Ellefson was not yet reunited with the band, so it felt like such an honor to hear him play the classic bass line of this song live. It was so much fun singing the chorus of "When there's a new way/I'll be the first in line" spot on with the band and the crowd.

Although Slayer were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of their album Seasons in the Abyss, they took a different approach and began their set with two newer tracks--"World Painted Blood" and the Grammy-nominated "Hate Worldwide." Slayer fans have compared the band's 2009 album World Painted Blood to Seasons, and I think the new songs fit well with being played right before the renowned 1990 classic.

As someone who has only recently "gotten into" Slayer, the song from Seasons in the Abyss that stuck out to me the most was "Expendable Youth." The intro and heavy riffs are incredible, and the story of blood and gang violence told by the lyrics is hard to forget.

Slayer ended their set with 4 of their most well-known songs--including "South of Heaven" (or as my friend simply calls it "Hell")--which has one of the most memorable and haunting opening riffs of all time. It's even eerier when played live! The crowd certainly went crazy with some kind of heavy metal orgasm when the band played their legendary song "Raining Blood." They followed it with "Aggressive Perfector" and then played the never boring (but always controversial) "Angel of Death" as their encore.

I feel very fortunate (and even like a part of history) to see three of the "Big Four" thrash bands together, especially after seeing the Sonisphere Festival that was broadcast from Sofia, Bulgaria. It was great to see Joey Belladonna singing for Anthrax again, as he is a dynamic performer who really moves around the stage unlike a lot of other trash frontmen. Scott Ian, the band's guitarist and de facto leader due to his tenure, also addressed the crowd and pumped them up as much as the lead singer did. Anthrax's bassist Frank Bello was even more of a pleasure to watch onstage, and I actually spent most of the set with my eyes on him. This band has such an enthusiasm for its audience, so you couldn't have asked for a better supporting act.

Megadeth and Slayer were definitely on top of their game as well. I was in awe just watching Dave Mustaine--Megadeth's fearless leader--and his bandmate Chris Broderick play their guitars with such intensity. Having never seen Slayer before, I certainly had high expectations for the ferocity of their live performance. They definitely lived up to that, especially with the help of their powerful and talented drummer, Dave Lombardo. Not to mention, it was cool to finally see the infamous and unique Kerry King in person!

Going into this show, I was concerned about the idea of both Megadeth and Slayer playing full albums. I thought the show would become boring, but it was quite the opposite. It was exciting to get the opportunity to hear two of such classic albums performed live in their entirety. My only complaint, is that playing full albums leaves less room in the bands' sets for more hits, deep cuts from other albums, or material from new releases. In the case of Megadeth, I would have loved for them to play "Right to Go Insane" from Endgame--which has actually had more airplay and publicity than the one song they played from it called Head Crusher.

This year's Jägermeister Music Tour was one of the better shows (and tours) I've attended in quite some time. The line-up was any metal fan's dream come true, each band sounded and appeared equally fantastic, and I would recommend any and all hard rockers to see these three bands--together or separate--live in concert.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

An Evening With the Black Crowes: A Mini Review

The Black Crowes brought an eclectic mix of blues, country, and rock 'n' roll to the Historic Tennessee Theatre the evening of September 16th. I've always been a casual fan of this band, and I was thrilled to finally see them live.

Going in, I didn't really know much about The Black Crowes' live show or what to expect from this band with such a volatile relationship. However, when I came out of the theatre, I was quite impressed with their musical skills and onstage stamina.

The Black Crowes shied away from playing many of their well-known hits this evening. Instead, they opted for long, intricate improvisational jams mixed in with some deep cuts for the die-hard fans. In the first half of their set, they did, however, play "Jealous Again." During second half, they played what is probably their biggest hit of all, "Hard to Handle." Their performance was very electric, which I thought was rather odd, seeing as how the band has just released an acoustic reworking of their greatest hits called Croweology.

At first, I thought to myself "Wow! I don't know many of these songs." But after awhile, that didn't matter. I was having so much fun sitting back and listening to the soulful, bluesy rock sounds of this one-of-a-kind band. It was also a trip to watch gangly lead singer Chris Robinson dance around the stage with his tambourine while his brother Rich played a wide variety of skillful and fascinating guitar solos. The Black Crowes' show is more than a concert. It is a two-and-a-half hour musical experience-- one that most bands around would be hard pressed to find the spirit and stamina to perform.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Zakk & Company Hit Bullseye With New Record

This month, Berzerker extraordinaire (and guitar god) Zakk Wylde and his band Black Label Society released the long-awaited album Order of the Black--their latest since 2006's Shot to Hell. Fresh off of the Ozzfest stage, Black Label will soon be embarking upon their "Berzerkus" tour, which Wylde (and fans alike) have been blazing Twitter and other online social networks to promote.

Order's first single "Parade of the Dead" hit radio in June. Like the title suggests, the creates imagery of zombies and the undead. It's fast paced, heavy, and a good choice as the album's first single. A second single, "Crazy Horse" was also released in June. It is Order of the Black's opening track, and I fell in love with it on first listen when radio host Eddie Trunk played it on his Q104 show. "Crazy Horse" sets this album up to be a 21st Century heavy metal masterpiece. Zakk's guitar solo is fantastic. It is fast, crisp, and clear.

Placed in between those two tracks is "Overlord"--a strong and heavy number with outrageous roaring riffs. The chorus is memorable, and the very end of the song, Zakk (being the jokester that he is) repeatedly sings "she is my overlord" in a very comical voice.

Order of the Black contains four ballads--two of which are "Time Waits for No One" and "Shallow Grave." "Time Waits for No One" has similar sound to Black Label Society's previous ballads. It is a beautiful, piano-heavy song about accepting how we cannot change time and that we only have a finite amount of time on Earth. The song's line that begins with "no final curtain call" is the total "lighter moment" that rock fans have been awaiting for years.

On the other hand, "Shallow Grave" blew me away because of how unique it is. It has the same intense and emotional lyrics as Black Label's other ballads, but it features an interesting change in musical style. As my friend and metal enthusiast (the infamous @JohnRiot of Twitter) best described it, the band "really out Coldplayed Coldplay" with this one. When if first heard it, I did noticed that it had sort of a somber alt rock feel to it. The pace, the tone, and some of the instrumentation of it were much like a Coldplay or Snow Patrol song. The lyrics about mourning the physical and/or emotional death of oneself fit this type of music very well. This song is without a doubt in my top three from Order of the Black.

"Godspeed Hellbound" is another one of my favorite rockers from Order of the Black. The guitar and drums are extremely fast, and it's great for cranking up even louder than it already is. This is an energetic and anthemic song that is fun to drive or exercise to--much like "Fire it Up" from their 2005 release Mafia.

Despite Zakk's recent publicized health issues, fans would never be able to detect any weakness upon listening to this album . His playing is still impeccable, and the powerful vocals he is known for are even better and more soulful than ever.
And even though I have vehemently expressed my disappointment for Zakk leaving Ozzy Osbourne's band, I can honestly say this may have been the best thing to ever happen to Black Label Society. Zakk has been able to fully concentrate on creating and promoting a wonderful, sincere, and well-crafted album with his exceptionally talented bandmates Nick Catanese (rhythm guitar), John DeServio (bass), and Will Hunt (drums). Order of the Black has the potential to be the summer's--or even the year's--best heavy metal album.
Order of the Black has currently been released through E1 Music in the United States, Road Runner Records in Europe, and Riot Entertainment in Austrailia and New Zealand.

Join the BLS Legion Street Team today!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Rush Tracks from Upcoming Release

Toronto rockers Rush have released two brand new tracks this summer from their forthcoming album Clockwork Angels. The album itself isn't slated for release until spring of next year, but the band has given fans new material to tide them over until then.

A 5-and-a-half minute single, "Caravan," is a really grooving and bass-heavy track with a catchy riff. The chorus of "I can't stop thinking big/I can't stop thinking big" is simple, yet memorable. The solo toward the end of the track is quite an impressive jam is well.

The single's B-side "BU2B" (because we all know Rush likes to letter and number songs) is a track I actually fancy a bit more than "Caravan" because of its slightly heavier heavier sound and faster pace. I think it sounds a lot like late '70s or early '80s Rush, so I'm a bit partial to it. I've heard "BU2B" on satellite radio a few times, and I think this song will really catch on with the rock audience and longtime Rush fans.

Both tracks are a nice sneak peek into the future Clockwork Angels album. If the rest of the songs are just as great as "Caravan" and "BU2B," which I have no doubt, Rush will have one of the biggest hard rock albums of 2011.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

New Ozzy is Definitely Something to Scream About

The self-proclaimed "Prince of Darkness" Ozzy Osbourne has released his tenth studio album of original solo material entitled Scream. Not only is this a major milestone in his career, it is also his first album since 1988 not to feature guitarist Zakk Wylde who left the band last July.

For the greater part of my life, it has always been Ozzy and Zakk--Zakk and Ozzy. I was hesitant to accept any substitute for Zakk, but now that I have heard Scream, I can confidently say Ozzy picked the right guy to join his band. That guy would be guitarist Gus G.

The debut single from Scream is appropriately titled "Let Me Hear You Scream." This track is fun and energetic and reminiscent of the lead single "I Don't Wanna Stop" from Ozzy's 2007 album Black Rain. This song debuted on an April episode of CSI: New York and has gained heavy airplay on both satellite and terrestrial hard rock radio. "Let Me Hear You Scream" is extremely catchy, and it has that "classic" Ozzy feel to it--especially between the first verse and the chorus. Very impressive!

The album's opening track "Let It Die" gave me mixed feelings at first. Immediately after purchasing Scream, I put the CD in my car stereo, cranked it the hell up, and heard some killer riffs. However, I was pretty much disappointed when I heard the verse that followed one minute in. It was monotone, repetitive, and the rhyming was all kinds of cheesy. The scream in the middle of the verse, sounded AWESOME though. Other than those verses I'm not too crazy about (especially the opening one), the song as a whole isn't bad. It features some mad guitar from Gus G., the chorus is memorable, and it sounds very current for modern hard rock radio.

"Soul Sucker" is the song that almost ended up as the album's title track. Originally, Ozzy was going to call it Soul Sucka, but many fans were not thrilled about it. I was one of those fans, and I just thought the name did not suit an Ozzy Osbourne album at all! After much protest, Ozzy (and I'm sure Sharon was involved) had a contest for fans to re-name the album. Scream, obviously, was the name that prevailed with.

Although Soul Sucka didn't sit well with fans as an album title, the song "Soul Sucker" is a favorite track of mine and my metal loving friends. The beginning is very heavy, and some interesting guitar and vocal effects create the sound of "Soul, soul sucker/Soul, soul sucker" before the first verse begins. The lyrics are great, the song stands out as one of the better ones on the album, and it should go down as a fan favorite from the modern era of Ozzy Osbourne albums.

The following track "Diggin' Me Down" begins with a slow, eerily beautiful "Mr. Crowley" or "Diary of a Madman" feel, then it completely rocks out. The playing of Ozzy's new drummer on this song, Tommy Clufetos, is powerful and impeccable. The religious themed lyrics focus on questioning Jesus Christ as the son of God and waiting for his return. Plus, I just love the fact that Ozzy sings the word "sanctimonious." (Yeah, I have a thing for the use of big words in rock songs.) But as great as I think Gus played in this song, I can hear him try really hard to channel the Zakk Wylde magic--in this song more than I can in the others. I can totally imagine Zakk playing that solo, so hearing Gus try to "play Zakk" makes it sound more contrived than it should.

A real hidden gem in the middle of the album is "Fearless." I absolutely love the high energy of this track and the empowering lyrics about having no regrets and not being a follower. I think this song would make a fantastic theme song for one of the World Wrestling Entertainment TV shows or pay-per-views. (Sorry... I had to shamelessly plug my other love in life. But it is true, that song would be perfect for that.)

"Time" is one of two ballads from Scream, and I think it is actually much better than the other one, "Life Won't Wait," that seems to be getting all the attention and airplay. The chorus of "Time" seems so heartfelt and true to me--"This life fading away/This life ticking like a time bomb/Ready to blow your tortured mind." This song really grabbed me for some reason, and it is my absolute favorite from the entire album.

There really isn't a bad song on Scream, and I will gladly play the whole thing from start to finish. That's something you can't say about many albums from this era of picking and choosing individual songs to download. And despite this being the first "Zakk-less" Ozzy studio album recorded in my lifetime, I can say that I have warmed up to the idea of having Gus G. as a permanent fixture in Ozzy's band. If he hadn't been an obviously talented guitarist with the vibrant modern hard rock sound, Ozzy wouldn't have chosen him. I honestly believe the die-hard Ozzy and Zakk fans should really can and should to terms with this big change after hearing all the outstanding songs from Scream.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The 'Big Four' Hit the Big Screen

A show like no other hit hundreds of theaters on June 22, 2010. The four most influential bands of thrash metal played the Sonisphere music festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the event was broadcast to cinemas around the world.

The Big Four—Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica—shared a stage for the first time ever. Not only was this a dream come true for metal fans everywhere, it was surprising that these bands could come together because of a handful of issues that could have easily gotten in the way. For instance, who knew that after 27 years Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and his former bandmates from Metallica would work through their animosity and play a show together? Also, Anthrax has had a big question looming over them for a few months now--Joey Belladonna or John Bush?

Anthrax, who were recently reunited with lead vocalist Joey Belladonna, opened the Sonisphere show with “Caught in a Mosh.” As soon as they started playing, I could tell Anthrax is a band that’s still “got it.” Their energy was great, and I was very impressed with Belladonna’s vocal abilities. (I will say that he now looks about 15 years older than all of the members of Anthrax combined. His long hair worn in an outdated style makes it worse. This was just the first thing that came to mind when I saw him.)

Anthrax continued their set with their hits “Madhouse” and “Got the Time,” but the biggest highlight of all was their tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio during “Indians.” At the bridge, the band began to play part of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell.” This was an emotional moment (almost tearful) for me, because “Heaven and Hell” is my all time favorite metal song.

Megadeth took the stage next, and they opened with “Holy Wars.” I had the pleasure of seeing Megadeth in concert last November, and I was definitely curious to see them again after bassist (and co-founder) David Ellefson returned to the band after an eight-year absence. Other than hearing some weakness in Dave Mustaine’s voice on occasion, their set was fantastic and solidified the reason why this band was the one I came to see. Chris Broderick is a fantastic guitarist, and I absolutely love watching him play onstage.

Megadeth’s set featured several of their biggest hits such as “Hangar 18,” “Sweating Bullets,” and “Symphony of Destruction.” The band also played “Head Crusher” from their latest album End Game. However, their final song “Peace Sells” elicited the biggest response from the crowd of thousands of Bulgarian metalheads. They shouted the words to the song’s memorable chorus “If there’s a new way/ I’ll be the first in line” right back to Mustaine with incredible energy and feeling.

Slayer followed with their opener, a new single called “World Painted Blood.” Without a doubt, Slayer is the heaviest and angriest of the Big Four. And also, unfortunately, I know the least about them. I honestly have never been much of a Slayer fan. Please don’t take away my metal card yet! I think Dave Lombardo is an incredible drummer, probably one of the best ever. The rest of the band is very talented, and with songs such as “Mandatory Suicide” and “Hell Awaits,” it is no wonder why metal fans are so captivated by Slayer and their songs’ subjects.

Going into this show, I thought I would have little interest in Slayer, but I actually enjoyed their set. I liked hearing “Raining Blood” performed live and seeing the crowd’s reaction to the legendary track. I also discovered that Slayer is quite a visual band, especially guitarist Kerry King who sports a unique look with his pattern of tattoos and porcupine-inspired wristband.

Metallica, who is arguably the biggest of the Big Four, closed the show. The pickiest of thrash fans will be happy to know that Metallica’s setlist was comprised mostly of “pre-Load” songs. They opened their set with “Creeping Death” from my favorite album of theirs Ride the Lightning. The audience—both at the festival and in the theater—seemed ecstatic to hear that opening riff to such a classic thrash song.

The band continued their set with “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Harvester of Sorrow,” and “One.” Audience members in the theater even got out their lighters (dangerous, but cool) for their beautiful rendition of “Fake to Black,” which was my favorite of Metallica’s set.

Due to a technical difficulty at the Knoxville, Tennessee, movie theater where I attended this concert broadcast, my viewing of the Big Four was cut short. At the end of “Enter Sandman,” which is probably Metallica’s biggest hit, the movie screen went black. (Irony!!!) The extremely unhappy audience yelled things like “this is bullshit!” at the projector booth. Most everyone, including myself, got out of their seats and proceeded to leave because it appeared as if the show was winding down anyway. It was already past midnight at that point, as the theater was late getting the show started. It was supposed to begin at 7:30, and all of us rockers were subjected to horrible elevator music for nearly an hour before the metal madness began.

Apparently technical difficulties weren’t exclusive to the Knoxville showing of the Big Four concert special. While I was waiting impatiently for my show to start, I saw the post on radio host Eddie Trunk’s Twitter page saying “Sound and power out during my screening. Metal fans not happy!” followed by, “Rockaway NJ just had power outage and cleared the theatre in the middle of Anthrax set. That's all I'm getting of Big 4!” Luckily, there was an encore presentation on June 24th, and I hope Mr. Trunk made it to that one.

Due to the screen glitch and my leaving early, I missed what had to be the most epic moment of the Big Four at Sonisphere. Members of Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer joined Metallica onstage to perform Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?” Because of the magic of YouTube, I fortunately got to see the performance later on. Before the bands started playing, they greeted each other with hugs and handshakes. Even Dave Mustaine and members of Metallica seemed genuinely happy to be sharing a stage.

"Am I Evil?" kicked off with killer riffs courtesy of Kirk Hammett, and the guitarists of Megadeth and Anthrax soon joined in. All the bands' drummers pounded away (Dave Lombardo was the only Slayer member present for this) while James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine, and Joey Belladonna took turns singing.

"Epic" is the one word that comes to mind when describing this scene. I just can't imagine what it was like for the audience members in Bulgaria who were witnessing this legendary coming together of metal gods.

After the Big Four finished "Am I Evil?" Metallica resumed their set and finished it with "Seek and Destroy." It's almost easy to forget that Metallica had a continuation of their set because of the epic meeting that had just taken place. Since it was such a big deal, maybe they should have saved "Am I Evil?" for a grand finale. Despite this, I think Metallica did an excellent job of blending in with the other bands, even with their obvious commercial success and overwhelming popularity.

Theater experience aside, I am thrilled I was able to attend the screening of the Big Four concert. It was exciting to see Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica share a stage. Each of these bands is unique, but they have one thing in common-- they are all originators of thrash metal. Like most fans, I am hoping for a Big Four tour, and I certainly can't wait to see the DVD and relive this moment in music history.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The School of Shock Rock is Still in Session

The father of shock rock, Alice Cooper, and his 21st Century counterpart, Rob Zombie, spread their respective brands of horror and theatrics across North America as they embarked upon the “Gruesome Twosome Tour” in spring of 2010.

On Tuesday, May 18, the team played the Civic Coliseum in Knoxville, Tennessee. The show—which I attended with Lady Rock—was filled with stunning visuals, and of course, great music. Both performers certainly outdid themselves, and two things were proven that night—1. Alice Cooper still has it, and 2. Rob Zombie has filled some big shoes.

I was so happy to join the Rock Maiden at the Knoxville date of Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie’s “Gruesome Twosome Tour,” and I’m even happier to join in reviewing the show! This was my 11th Alice Cooper show, and as usual, this performance topped the others in its own ways. Alice himself was in incredible voice and expected energy, and ruled the crowd’s attention with an iron fist!

Alice Cooper has always been one of my favorite artists, and this wasn’t my first time seeing him live. He constructs setlists well—mixing the older material with the new, and giving the die-hard fans a deep cut. Having been performing since the late 1960s, one might guess Mr. Cooper would be a little worn out, never having taken a long break from recording or touring. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

This man just keeps topping himself! I’ve seen him from all different perspectives and distances. I’ve seen the secrets behind how he gets guillotined and hanged, but this night, Alice shocked me all over again! Killed FOUR times over the course of the show, and though I do hate to ruin any surprises, two of them were very recent sparks of genius. I’ll just say that one of them was particularly surprising considering how much Alice Cooper himself hates needles!

Alice jam-packed 22 songs into an hour and a half, but I’ll include just a couple of the highlights.

“Eighteen” has the very same inspired blues groove from its 1971 origin. It’s just as impossible not to fall into a slow head sway until our leader starts to yell, “I’m EIGHTEEN!” and feel just as angsty as the song implies. This song was simple evidence that Alice’s legacy isn’t going anywhere.

The highlights of every Alice Cooper concert I’ve been to have always been the deep cuts he’ll resurrect! Other die-hards in the audience and I were thrilled to death that he played two songs from his From The Inside album, “From The Inside” and “Nurse Rozetta.” His costume for these songs included an appropriate nod to Brian “Renfield” Nelson, Alice’s personal assistant and close friend who passed away unexpectedly last year. Alice wore a t-shirt reading “Renfield Nelson Asylum.”

To accompany the usual, surprisingly heartfelt “Only Women Bleed,” Alice also brought out a second ballad: “I Never Cry,” which he’s been doing on and off in recent years. The twist? Our hero sings while dressed in drag and with a noose around his neck. And this was Alice’s vocal high point of the night. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard his voice so strong and clean while on stage. And just as he wound everyone into a frenzy of “you know, you know, you know, I never cry,” the trapdoor of the gallows dropped out—

“I Love The Dead” is precisely where Alice’s backing band needs to be recognized. Alice plays with only the best, and though I miss many of those that have moved onto different projects, his lineup supports him better than ever! Damon Johnson (guitars), Keri Kelli (guitars), Chuck Garric (bass), and Jimmy DeGrasso (drums) are not only accomplished musicians but also excellent singers. “I Love The Dead” lay on Chuck’s shoulders, and that man does NOT disappoint… I think the Rock Maiden would agree with me that Chuck is pretty fantastic…

This tour truly represents a passing of the Shock Rock torch, but I’ll let the Rock Maiden give her official metal opinion of the Zombie that rises. I must say though that I never expected Rob to be so much like Alice. His innovations are just as genius and he commands his audience just as thoroughly… how else could I have been unable to take my eyes off a man whose hair looks like he’s been going through my garbage for a week?

Like Lady Rock, I had seen Alice Cooper in concert before, so I was quite familiar with the theatrical shock rock genre. However, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Rob Zombie. I have been a casual Zombie fan for quite some time, so I had never seen him perform live.

Rob opened his set with “Sawdust In the Blood” from his 2006 album Educated Horses. This surprised me because I thought he would have begun with something from his latest album, Hellbilly Deluxe 2, or a well-known hit. The second song, “Call of the Zombie,” was when Rob really started moving around the stage and utilizing the space.

A major visual highlight of Rob’s set was when he played a favorite from his White Zombie days—“More Human Than Human.” During the performance, a gigantic robot (the subject of the song) moved around the stage in a slow and menacing manner. Plus, hearing the lyrics, “I am the Nexxus One / I want more life / Fucker, I ain’t done, yeah!” could never get old!

Three-quarters of the way through his set, Rob turned the stage over to his equally talented band. Drummer Joey Jordison (also of Slipknot) played an elaborate solo, and guitarist John 5 lit up the stage with his breathtaking guitar solo. Without a doubt, John 5 is the most amazing guitarist I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing perform live.

Rob closed the first portion of his set with another White Zombie tune, “Thunder Kiss ’65.” This song is best played live because the lyrics become even more slurred together and unintelligible. All you can hear is “Nineteen sixty fiiiiiive… yeeeeah!” and the crowd still goes nuts for it every time. It’s a fun song, and the Kool-Aid Acid Test-inspired background on the stage really added to it.

Zombie closed his show with two encores—with two songs each. The first encore, “Werewolf Women of the SS,” opened with a fake trailer that was featured in the film Grindhouse. Rob and his band completed this spectacle and raised some eyebrows by appearing onstage in long red coats that were similar to Nazi regalia.

What I really enjoyed about Rob’s setlist is that he did an excellent job layering the hits with the new material. Following “Werefolf Women” was the ever-popular “Dragula.” Both that and the recent hit “Sick Bubble Gum” elicited a huge pop from the audience. It was during these encores that Rob surprised us by running out into the crowd with a video camera. He announced he was filming us for a video.

Rob’s grand finale was the most spectacular of all. He ended the show in the same exciting way it started. He received the torch that was passed to him by the Shock Rock God Alice Cooper. He performed his own rendition of the classic “School’s Out.” It was just as energetic and angst-filled as the original, with some unique Zombie flair added to it.

This entire show made me realize how well Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie compliment each other—even more so than I expected. Their shows are similar, but Rob does not come across as a rip-off. Both rockers have run with the idea of placing a huge emphasis on the visual elements of their shows while the music is never compromised.

Both Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie have the power to give their audiences goosebumps and shivers in the middle of a sunny afternoon, and their performances have my heart beating just as hard as the first time I saw Michael Myers’ first murder!

(Note: All words in italics were written by Laura "Lady Rock" Rogas.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Guitar God Goes Solo

After major success with the bands Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver, guitar god Slash has released what is considered to be his first ever solo album, simply titled Slash.

When I first learned of this new album, many questions ran through my head, "How will this work?" "Will it contain mostly instrumentals?" "Will Slash be singing?" "Is he putting together a new band?" As a huge fan of both his bands (Guns N' Roses were the band that got me into rock music. I owe them everything), I became both excited and curious about the release of this album.

As it turns out, Slash features a guest vocalist on each song of the album. A variety of singers were chosen as well--both rock icons and pop chart toppers. Not only did they lend their voices to this album, they also lent their songwriting skills. Former Guns N' Roses members Steven Adler, Duff McKagan, and Izzy Stradlin also contributed to select tracks. Dave Grohl plays on an instrumental as well.

The lead single from Slash is "By the Sword," and it features Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother on lead vocals. This song starts out slowly with some acoustic guitar riffs, then it completely rocks out in full Led Zeppelin fashion. Stockdale somehow belts out the dark and mysterious lyrics in a way that is reminiscent of Robert Plant. He even accents and enunciates his lyrics like Plant. Slash's guitar playing is phenomenal, and the tone he plays with really gives the song a vintage feel.

"Crucify the Dead", which is sung by Ozzy Osbourne, is a rock royalty spectacular. Even at first listen, I realized how unique it was to hear Ozzy sing to Slash's guitar playing. After hearing the brilliant guitarists Randy Rhoads and Zakk Wylde play with Ozzy over the years, I was impressed by his and Slash's collaboration. These are two legends that are even better together than they are when separate. "Crucify the Dead" sounds like it could make the cut of an Ozzy album, and Slash's amazing guitar solo complements it well.

The track that immediately follows it seems unlikely on the surface, but it gives Slash the variety that makes it so great. "Beautiful Dangerous", which is sung and co-written by popstar Fergie, gives her credibility as a singer and a songwriter. It also showed Slash's versatility and willingness to work with artists outside of the hard rock world. While "Beautiful Dangerous" is not something you could bang your head to, it is a sexy, sultry, and upbeat pop-rock song.

"Nothing to Say", featuring M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold is nothing short of pure rock energy. It is hard-hitting, and there is something still very melodic about it. I feel that it is the heaviest song on the album, and it features Slash's fastest playing and some powerful and gritty vocals.

Myles Kennedy (currently of the band Alterbridge), gives his voice to two tracks--"Back From Cali" and "Starlight." He brings a very soulful and emotional componet to this album that fits well with Slash's playing style.

"Back From Cali" is a catchy (and I mean CATCHY) song about being ditched by your woman after partying it up in the Sunshine State. This song is sure to become a hit on modern rock stations in the near future.

"Starlight", the second Kennedy number, is an absolutely beautiful song with a country/blues vibe. The lyrics tell the story of a relationship's uncertain future but from an optimistic point of view. Kennedy's voice is killer in this song, and he sounds identical to Lou Gramm of Foreigner during the bridge. Slash's solo toward the end is fantastic and crystal clear.

I believe Myles Kennedy's outstanding performances are the major highlights of this album, and there is no wonder why Slash selected him to be part of his live touring band. However, there are other vocal contributions that cannot go unmentioned. Ian Astbury, Lemmy Kilmister, Adam Levine, Rocco DeLuca, Iggy Pop, Chris Cornell, and Kid Rock all lend their voices to Slash.

This entire album proves that Slash is a relevant musician who can achieve success and popularity in the year 2010--even after not having been in Guns N' Roses since the mid-1990s and the uncertainty that is always facing Velvet Revolver. His debut solo record contains such an eclectic mix of great songs that keep it fresh with with each listen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A "Rock Child" Debuts into the Spotlight

I was recently listening to Eddie Trunk's Q101 radio show, and Pearl Aday and her husband Scott Ian (most known for his work with the band Anthrax) were guests. The couple were promoting their band Pearl, named after its vibrant frontwoman, and their debut album Little Immaculate White Fox. I thought to myself, "I remember her!" It turns out, I had seen Pearl on VH1's Supergroup, a show that Scott took part in.

During this show, Eddie Trunk played Pearl's debut single "Rock Child." This song starts off with a wail that shows off the power and versatility of Aday's voice. This song is proof that she can go from a gut wrenching scream to a beautiful, yet still powerful, singing voice in an instant.

This song is a great opening track. The lyrics about being a fierce rocker help introduce Pearl (who has spent much time singing backup vocals for Meatloaf and Motley Crue, among others) to the world as a frontwoman. Because of her upbringing with her rockstar dad Meatloaf, the lyrics to "Rock Child" are autobiographical--"I’ve been a little girl livin’ center stage. I’ve been sleeping in a guitar case."

"Rock Child" has a classic rock feel, but nothing sounds more timeless than Pearl's rendition of the legendary Tina Turner song "Nutbush City Limits." As the second track, "Nutbush City Limits" isn't tucked away in the middle of the album like many covers are. It's practically front and center. It is a nicely updated, completely rocked out version of the original, but it is still immediately recognizable. The guitar riffs are heavy, and the vocals are full of the attitude that paints a picture of the little town in Tennessee as Tina Turner envisoned it in the 1960s.

Several other tracks from Little Immaculate White Fox, such as "Mama," "My Heart Isn't in It," and "Worth Defending" have a bluesy country feel that I didn't quite expect. Each of these songs have well-crafted lyrics (all written by Aday) that tell stories of love, life, and moving on. Because I expected to find all heavy rock songs on this album, these songs surprised me a bit. I'm not saying I dislike them. However, rock fans who are looking for something harder may initially put off by them.

There are plenty of rockers on Little Immaculate White Fox to please those with heavier palates. "Broken White," with its darker tone and scathing lyrics, is my favorite track from the album. My interpretation is that it is about fighting back after being abused or wronged. After only one listen, I found myself singing part of the memorable chorus--"Let's call it a war. It don't hurt no more. I fall up from the floor..."

Another one of my favorites, "Check out Charlie," features guitar legend Ted Nugent as a guest musician. This song contains some great riffs, and it shows off the skills of the band (Note: several of its members also played with Mother Superior). The vocals are great, the guitar playing is fantastic (It's Ted Nugent! Need I say more?), and the bass and drums are intense.

Pearl's debut record Little Immaculate White Fox is a surprising mixture of heavy rockers and soulful ballads. While there isn't a bad track on the album, the country and blues flavored songs were not what I expected--especially from a band that includes metal guitarist Scott Ian. Overall, the album is fun, rocking, and contains some great songs with heartfelt lyrics.

As a female and a life-long hard rock fan, I can't help but notice that the genre is dominated by men. With the release of Little Immaculate White Fox, it is refreshing to see a band fronted by a woman who can sing and perform like any of the metal gods. Pearl's vocal ability, talent, and sexy swagger truly make me proud to be a rocker chick.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Upcoming Appearances by Chris Jericho of Fozzy

Monday, April 19th @ 5:30pm
Vintage Vinyl
51 Lafayette Rd
Fords, NJ 08863

Tuesday, April 20 @ 2pm
Spin Street #1730
The Retail Shops at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd. C-118
Uncasville CT 06382

Saturday, May 22 @ 5:00pm
FYE – Store # 728
Great Lakes Crossing
4296 Baldwin Rd Ste 508-M
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
(Please visit Chris for my birthday!)

Revolver Golden Gods Awards

Photos from the 2nd Annual Revolver Golden Gods Awards -

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Upcoming Appearances by Chris Jericho of Fozzy

Monday, April 26 - 2pm
Chris Jericho of FOZZY
Virginia Center Commons
10101 Brook Road
Glen Allen, VA 23059
For info - 804-264-4733

Monday, May 3 - 2pm
Chris Jericho of FOZZY
Regency Square Mall
9501 Arlington Expy
Jacksonville, FL 32225
For info - 904-721-0675

Monday, April 05, 2010

New Scorpions... and more!

The Scorpions have just released what they say is their final album--Sting in the Tail. It hit U.S. store shelves late last month, and their new single "Raised on Rock" is getting some airplay on satellite radio and other rock stations that play new songs by classic artists.

"Raised on Rock" is a great track. It sounds like The Scorpions we all know and love, and is a solid attempt at making a hard rocking song that is sure to please longtime fans. The lyrics are fun without seeming contrived, and they really strike a nerve with me since I am a lifelong rocker.

Check out in the next few weeks for more Scorpions and Sting in the Tail updates. Also coming soon... reviews of Pearl's Little Immaculate White Fox and Slash's solo debut!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ace Frehley's "Anomaly" Takes Off Into Space

Many times when a "classic" band or artist comes out with a new album, mass audiences do not always buy into it because they just want to hear the hits. With two singles that get regular airplay on SiriusXM's Boneyard channel, Ace Frehley's Anomaly could prove to be an exception to this unfortunate rule.

The former Kiss guitarist released his first solo album in twenty years back in September of 2009. But why am I reviewing it after nearly six months after its release date? Sometimes albums or songs catch on slowly--and in this case it may not necessarily a bad thing.

I learned about Anomaly in October or November of last year after hearing its lead single "Outer Space" on satellite radio. When the DJ introduced the title of the song, I thought to myself, "Oh Lord... good old Ace is still milking the Space Man thing after all these years." A couple of days later I talked to my friend about the song, and he apparently had the exact same thought.

Intergalactic subject matter aside, this song is pretty hard rocking and all around great. The lyrics are sexy and sleazy, carrying on a great rock and tradition. The chorus is very memorable, and I find myself singing or humming it on occasion. I love the guitar work on this song, especially the riff played during the lyrics "I wanna take you to Heaven... Take you away from this Hell."

The second single from Anomaly, "Fox on the Run", drew me a little closer to this album. Having another song I was familiar with from the radio is what really prompted me to buy the album and devote my attention to it. I thought the song was a little cheesy at first, but I kept coming back to it because I am a sucker for 1970s glam covers. (Hey, that's what made Quiet Riot so awesome!)

"Fox on the Run", which was originally recorded by the British band Sweet in 1974, is a fun song about various run-ins with those ever present groupies of the rock world. It's got a got a great hook, and it's a nicely updated to add a more modern and heavier feel to a 35 year old song.

The album's lead track "Foxy & Free" was a good choice for an opener. (See the fox pattern?) It's heavy in the bass at the beginning, and it made me want to listen to more. Lyrically and vocally, this song isn't my favorite from the album. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the reference to Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" and "Foxy Lady." (Again with those foxes!)

"Outer Space" is Anomaly's second song, followed by "Pain in the Neck." This song begins with a killer bass line and quickly transitions into a very interesting, almost grunge sounding, guitar riff. The bridge is much more melodic, and then it goes back into the heavy grunge sound. "Pain in the Neck" is bluntly about what it sounds like it is about--a woman who is a pain in Ace's neck. It's a hard rocking song, but rather different that anything else I would have expected from an Ace Frehley album.

"Fox on the Run" comes next, then there's "Genghis Khan." This track is almost purely instrumental. The only lyric that pops up every so often is "So long, Genghis Khan. Now you're gone. So long." It sounds kind of bluesy, and it really reminds me of '80s-era Bad Company.

After that comes "Too Many Faces." It's repetitive, but catchy with it's chorus of "Too many faces in the mirror, always looking back at me." The guitar parts of this song get better and more exciting toward the end, and it contains a really good solo.

Anomaly's next track "Change the World" is a slower ballad that really changes the pace of the album. It is heart felt without being sappy. God, peace, and children are recurring themes in this song.

A much heavier instrumental called "Space Bear" follows, and the only way I can describe the beginning of this song is to say it has a kick ass riff. When I saw the title on the back of the CD (Yes, I have the actual hard copy of the album. Impressive during this digital age, right?), I was kind of hesitant to take it seriously like I was with "Outer Space." However, I was quite impressed with how modern it sounded without seeming contrived.

Another ballad "A Little Below the Angels" comes next. It seems to be autobiographical, in that it refers to alcohol, crashing cars, and having nine (maybe even ten) lives. It's an introspective song about the decadent trappings that can come with being a rockstar. This ballad has a memorable chorus, but the only thing that kills it is the group of children singing it toward the end. That just made a nice ballad too sweet for me.

"Sister", which follows, is another one of the heavier, harder rocking tracks on the album. After many listens, I'm still having a hard time telling exactly what this song is about. So now I'm convinced it is about a woman who is giving away something that's pretty dang good. I just don't understand the lyric "I call her my sister, but she's really not." I guess they just have a twisted relationship. I really like the lyric "She can take you around the world." It adds a certain sleazy sexiness to the song.

The next track, "It's a Great Life", begins with a groovy bass line. The verses and the accompanying guitar part are great, but the chorus isn't as memorable as some of the rest from the album. If a listener was only looking for catchy lyrics, the song could be forgettable.

Anomaly's final song is the instrumental "Fractured Quantum." The title led to me to expect something hard and heavy, but this track is quite melodic and very pleasant. Also, it begins with children's laughter and something that sounds like birds. It was as if I was listening to Kiss's "God of Thunder" at the beach with some seagulls. As strange as that may seem, the rest of the song is very good. I really like the fact that this instrumental doesn't just sound like a six minute guitar solo. It progresses and flows very well.

When I began listening to Anomaly in its entirety, I knew there would be at least two good songs on it because I was familiar with the singles "Outer Space" and "Fox on the Run." Other than that, I didn't know what to expect.

I knew Anomaly would feature excellent guitar playing, because obviously Ace Frehley is a guitar legend. However, I did have low expectations for the vocal performance. If you've heard the Kiss song "Shock Me", you know exactly what I'm talking about. As much as I love that song, the vocals on it are so bad they are laughable. I'm glad to say Ace has improved to go above and beyond that for this album.

Overall, I think there are several great rock songs with catchy hooks on Anomaly. I would recommend it to classic rock fans who are looking for an album of new songs to add their collections. I would also recommend Anomaly to anyone who is looking for something that is lighthearted and fun. Plus, who can't resist really cool CD packaging that folds out into a pyramid?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fozzy "Chasing the Grail" signing 2-1-2010

These photos are from Fozzy's album signing on February 1st at the Hot Topic Store in in Alpharetta, Georgia. Check out their brand new album Chasing the Grail which is available in stores now.

Fozzy Members Chris Jericho, Sean Delson, (Me!), Rich Ward, and Frank Fontsere

Me with Fozzy vocalist Chris Jericho

Me with Fozzy guitarist Rich "The Duke" Ward

Me with the AMAZING John Howarth, owner of Riot Entertainment

Friday, January 29, 2010

Metal Band Fozzy Finds the 'Grail' With New Album

Fozzy's fourth album Chasing the Grail was unleashed upon fans this week after nearly five years of anticipating new and original material from the band. It was released by the Australian label Riot Entertainment. This hard and heavy hitting record lives up to, and even surpasses, Fozzy's 2005 release (and 2008 re-release) All That Remains.

The lead single, "Martyr No More," is gaining airplay on hard rock radio, and it is also one of the official theme songs for World Wrestling Entertainment's 2010 Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View.

"Martyr No More" opens with a fierce guitar riff from the very talented Rich Ward. The song has memorable verses, and an even more memorable chorus. The vocals, performed by none other than WWE Superstar and TV Host Chris Jericho, is sure to blow any rock fan away.

The album's opening track "Under Blackened Skies" begins with machine gun fire-like intensity. The guitar, drums, and bass are all mighty powerful. The vocals, especially at the start of the verses, add a certain dark and hazy mood to the song. "Under Blackened Skies" was a great choice for an opener, and it certainly sets the tone for the rest of the album.

"Martyr No More" comes next, and it is followed by "Grail," which is one of my absolute favorite tracks from this record. Jericho wrote some great lyrics for this one. The line "You can cast the magic spell or pull the sword from the stone" evokes the memories of some classic songs by written by Ronnie James Dio. "Grail" features a powerful, but still catchy as Hell, chorus. I find myself singing this song a lot. The music and vocals do a wonderful job of painting the picture of searching and longing that the lyrics suggest.

The more laid-back side of Fozzy really shows in the song "Broken Soul." It feels deep, yet optimistic. The first time I heard it, I thought, "This is a total lighter moment!" I really sense a Beatles vibe during the bridge. This track offers a nice change of pace, breaking up the heavier songs and making it all more interesting.

"Let the Madness Begin," which was available as sort of a sneak-peek on Fozzy's website, is another one of my favorites from Chasing the Grail. It sounds very new and exciting, but I also hear a lot of Ozzy Osbourne influence in it. The title conveys the message, and lyrics are great. The liner notes say guitarist Rich Ward contributed the line "The devil feeds on my thoughts, even when I pray." This line adds so much to Jericho's already fantastic lyrics, and I can really tell that this songwriting team works so well together.

The next track, "Pray for Blood," is a very heavy song that features some outstanding guitar work and lyrics that tell an exciting and violent story. I could really bang my head all day to what Jericho calls a "song about 10th Century Vikings who would eat their enemy's hearts after killing them." The opening lines are one of my favorite parts of this song. I honestly think Jericho should really take advantage of this track and use it as new ring entrance music. This song would be AWESOME entrance music! I've been thinking that since the first time I heard it.

"A New Day's Dawn" is one of the most interesting songs from Chasing the Grail. It is fascinating in that it begins with some falsetto vocals by Rich Ward. The lyrics of this song are quite memorable, especially because of the rhyme scheme. Also, I'm flat-out impressed by the use of the phrase "jumped the shark." There are some elements of this song that remind me of the Finnish rock band H.I.M. I'm not sure if it's the overall tone of the song, or if it's just the way it flows.

My most favorite song on this album is "God Pounds His Nails." I get so unbelievably pumped each time I hear this song! It is incredibly powerful. It is so much fun, but it's profound due to the religious imagery in the lyrics. The "hey... hey... hey" and the "one... two... three" in the energetic chorus really makes me want to hear this song live. This song is meant to be heard while in a crowd of metal heads.

I'm not going to lie... The song "Watch Me Shine" gets me choked up. I find this song to be very deep. I think it accurately summarizes the ongoing ills of the world. I think the chorus is great, especially the lines "I don't want to live without her, even though at times I've lost my mind." That part is so beautifully written it gives me chills!

"Paraskavedekatriaphobia (Friday the 13th)" is a hard and heavy bone-shattering track that has Iron Maiden influence written all over it. The speed of the drums and guitar riffs in this song reminds me of the speaker vibrations at the Machinehead/Megadeth show I went to last November. I really like the superstitious and mysterious content of the lyrics... very METAL!

Chasing the Grail's second to last track "Revival" is an empowering song about seeking the truth. It is an overall great rock song, but I'm honestly not too crazy about Chris Jericho's near- screaming vocals in parts of it. I've always thought of him as a powerful, clear, and pleasant singer. (I personally believe that Chris is way too good for screaming. He can convey so many attitudes and moods without it.)

I don't even know how to begin to describe the album's grand finale, "Wormwood." I try very hard not to ever overuse the word "epic." But until I can come up with something better, I have to stick with that.

To put it simply, "Wormwood" is a 14-minute multi-part masterpiece about the Apocalypse written by guitarist Mike Martin and Chris Jericho. Listeners everywhere have been impressed by it since day one of Chasing the Grail's release, and the track has been heavily praised on Twitter.

"Wormwood" consists of six different movements, all with different titles such as "The Seven Thunders" and "The Seven Seals." It opens with some whispering (which sounds like Latin if I'm not mistaken) and the Biblical verse Revelation 8:10-11. Following that is a beautiful acoustic guitar solo. Then comes the roaring electric guitar.

The first part of Chris's vocals are creepily whispered, then they get progressively more powerful. Each piece of the song flows together perfectly, and a choir and other instrumentation magically fit. This song is Fozzy's deepest and darkest song to date, and it is extremely unique and utterly magnificent.

There is so much more to say about "Wormwood," but I will leave it at that so I don't spoil it for those who haven't heard it yet.

After listening to Chasing the Grail for four days now, I can sincerely say that I would rank it among my most favorite rock and metal albums. I really can't get enough of it. Each time I listen to it--whether it be while driving to work, exercising, or just relaxing--I discover a new reason to enjoy it.

Each song from Chasing the Grail is something amazing and different, and its final masterpiece "Wormwood" is the icing on the already outstanding cake. This is the best new album I've heard in ages, and it is truly the best one I have written about since the inception The Rock Maiden website. Go out and buy a copy right now, and if you can't wait, get it from iTunes.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Adam Lambert Bonus Tracks Review

Before Adam Lambert's debut album For Your Entertainment hit retailer shelves and iTunes, took pre-orders for a "special fan edition" of the CD. It included a collectible hardcover photo booklet and bonus song downloads--"For Your Entertainment" and the non-album tracks "Down the Rabbit Hole" and "Master Plan." The latter songs are currently available on iTunes, and they are not "album only."

I have a question for Adam's record company and the album's producers: Why weren't "Down the Rabbit Hole" and "Master Plan" on the album's final cut? Actually, I have another question if I'm allowed to ask: Were they even considered?

The songs are great. I think both of them are much better than a couple of the songs that did make the final cut. I'm not sure which bonus track I like better, because they each have their high points.

I know I compare a bit too much, but I must say, "Down the Rabbit Hole" (as a friend of mine from Twitter put it) is highly reminiscent of "Pretty Vegas" from the J.D. Fortune-era INXS album Switch. Lyrically and style-wise it really reminds me of the song "Devil's Party" from the same album. On a side note, J.D. Fortune was an Elvis impersonator, and many people have said Adam has a 21-st century Elvis vibe.

"Down the Rabbit Hole" is electronic, danceable club fare. I absolutely love the references to Alice in Wonderland and the use of the phrase "stripper shoes."

The other bonus track "Master Plan" has a VERY catchy chorus and a cool beat. It has an empowering and anthemic feel just like "Strut." But by no means are they the same song. I think "Master Plan" is a bit deeper and more observant.

I feel like my assessment of For Your Entertainment is more complete now that I have reviewed the bonus tracks. I think these bonus tracks help fans and critics alike see even more facets of Adam Lambert's style and talent.

I am definitely not bored with For Your Entertainment, but I am already looking forward to another release from Adam Lambert. Like a commenter on the previous review said, I am just looking forward to something that is a little less produced and a little less techno sounding.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who hates ALL electronic music. I own all of the Queer as Folk soundtracks, which are heavily electronic. I also love most '80s New Wave and synthpop. I just think Adam Lambert's voice is entirely too good to be messed around with, and it does not deserve to be over-produced.