Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bad lyric day

Last weekday of the month means bad lyric day. It's a good song as far as the music and vocals go, but has some bad lyrics. It's "Top Secret" from Ratt. So here's about the first 2/3 of the song.

I'm racin' with time
You burn in my mind
I'm a man with a mission
I gotta rocket in my pocket
And nothin's gonna stop it

'Cause your my obsession
Please wait for me, wait for me

Your top secret, your top secret
I creep down the street
My sensors seek your heat
Covert operation
You're a bomb that's tickin'
I'm goin' down kickin'

That's classified information
Please wait for me, wait for me,wait for me

I'm runnin', I'm hidin'
You're top secret, you love is so exciting
I'm lyin', denyin'
You're top secret,and baby I'm dyin'

I'm in way too deep
There's no time to sleep
And I'm hungry and thirsty
It's like my finger's in a socket
I need your love to shock it
But time has no mercy

Okay, let's back up to the first verse. "Rocket in my pocket"? What 13 year old did they hire to write that? Skip down to the next verse and we have "my sensors seek your heat". I guess they thought this was clever, but if you are going to be tacky and cheesy then just do instead of trying to come up with other words for it. That just seems lame. After that it's simple and fluffy and then we get to the last verse I listed. We have the lines "It's like my finger's in a socket" then "I need your love to shock it". Shouldn't someone in the Ratt camp or Atlantic records have read these lines and said "P.U., try something else"? These lyrics are like small peaks of badness, but they occasionally rise to mountain-like levels of truly unthinkable badness. I'll be back next week with some more bad lyrics. Until then watch out for those sockets.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Blog plug

Ray has changed the name and format of his blog. It's no longer Pulses, verses and other flotsam. It is now the Metal Minute and it's over at http://rayvanhornjr.blogspot.com/ . He is now posting more often and as the title implies it's more focused on just metal. So go over there and check it out.

Armored Saint-March of the saint

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What do you think of when someone mentions the LA metal or hard rock scene in the 1980's? You probably think of Motley Crue, Ratt, Poison and the like. Yet between about 1981 and 1985 there were a number of classic, speed and doom metal bands that emerged from LA as well. Metallica started out there before relocating and we all know that Slayer and Megadeth were from there. However the likes of Dark Angel, Laaz Rockit, Savage Grace, Abattoir, Agent Steel, Warrior, Hirax, Saint Vitus, Cirith Ungol and Armored Saint also came from LA in the early to mid-1980's. Armored Saint are a band who I have liked since I first heard them twenty-some years ago. "March of the saint" was their debut lp and it's largely mid-tempo classic style metal with strong vocals and a straight forward approach. Certainly nothing fancy or ground breaking, but it doesn't have to be. However unlike many of their peers they don't sound a whole like anyone who came before them so that's a plus. John Bush is probably one of the best metal vocalists to come out of our country. The guitars are fine and keep things going and I always thought the band had a better than average rhythm section. I don't pretend that this is their best effort though because I think each of their next three efforts would see the band's music becoming more complex and they would eventually peak with their 1991 masterpiece "Symbol of salvation". Unfortunately for Armored Saint I think Chrysalis records wasn't sure how to market them. I also think that this band may have emerged a few years too late. They were merely debuting about the time classic mid-tempo style metal was peaking. By the late 80's when Armored Saint were coming into their own style-wise, this brand of music had been somewhat replaced by speed metal on one end and hair metal of the opposite side of the spectrum. Still I guess they will just have to settle for being one of the best American metal bands of their time. Not a bad label to have in my opinion though.

***Remember this is Trans-American Metal Monday so pop over to rock of ages and read what Bill has to say on this album.

****Also thanks to Bill for doing this four week long project with me as it has been challenging and fun.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Judge the album cover

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This week it's the cover of Thin Lizzy's 1976 album Jailbreak. Do you like the cover, don't like it or is it just alright?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What's coming up?

I have to go back to work on Monday after being off all week. I finished the new Harry Potter the other day and it was very good, but now it's a bit sad that there are no more new books to look forward to. I really have not listened to that much this week because of being on vacation, but I am gradually getting back into the swing of things.

This coming week I hope to have out....

-Monday will be the last Trans-Atlantic Metal Monday and it will be Armored Saint's March of the saint.
-Tuesday will be "Bad lyric day" so I need to dig out some bad lyrics. I probably won't have to dig very far though to find some.
-Twenty year old album review of Anthrax's Among the living
-Probably another Heavy Metal Jukebox or Judge the album cover or maybe even both if I can get to it.
-A review of King Diamond's new one "Give me your soul...please"

Also with August coming this is the month where I begin working on my top ten albums from 1987. This will be the third year I have done this project so I have my system down. Some time in August I will briefly explain how it works and the results will be posted in early December.

**I will leave you with a question. What do you think of concept albums? Does it go just on a case by case basis? Or do you think that maybe bands generally bite off more than they can chew by doing them? What do you think?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Heavy Metal Jukebox

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It's time for the Heavy Metal Jukebox. I list three songs and you pick which one you prefer. This time around it's....

Iron Maiden-Can I play with madness
Metallica-Sanitarium (Welcome Home)
Ozzy-Crazy Train

***So which one do you choose?

I'm back

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I am back from my vacation although I don't have to return to work until Monday. We had a great time, but of course it went too fast. The picture above is of me and the Metalboy about to ride on a train while on our vacation. Thanks to all of the guest bloggers for keeping the time machine going while I was away.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cro-Mags - The Age of Quarrel

This guest post was done by bob_vinyl over at Rock and Roll and Meandering Nonsense.

One of the best things to happen to both punk and metal in the 80s was the crossover phenomena. What punk often lacked in technical prowess and metal lacked in raw energy was often found in both the burgeoning speedmetal movement and changing hardcore scene. What bands on both sides seemed to find is that Iron Maiden's history and literature lessons and Dio's fantasy world didn't resonate with a lot of kids any more than punk nihilism and anarchism. Instead, both found common ground in things that their audience, largely made up of disaffected youth, could relate to, be it politics, society or lack of control over their own destiny.

While there were fine albums on both sides of the fence, I'm choosing a hardcore record since that's more my turf than metal. You can't make an argument for this album being the first to cross over and even an argument that it's the best example might be tenuous. However, the Cro-Mags' 1986 debut, The Age of Quarrel, is unquestionably a classic.

From the deliberate guitar crunch and drum rolls that open "We Gotta Know," there is little question that this is not the same old hardcore. While John Joseph's vocals are perhaps best in the genre, they don't break out of the hardcore mold. Doug Holland's rhythm guitar work still relies almost exclusively on power chords. But Parris Mayhew's metal riffs show a definite departure from the strict DIY ethic that resulted in so many technical deficiencies among punk and hardcore guitarists (even if those very deficiencies managed to produce a boatload of great music). Likewise, the rhythm section produced departures from the all-out breakneck pace that had previously defined the genre. Unlike most hardcore musicians before him, drummer Mackie could hold his own with some of metal's best.

As with any album in its genre, there is plenty of speed on The Age of Quarrel, but it's the presence of slower parts like the chorus of "World Peace" or the breakdown in "Life of My Own" as well as the altogether slower but equally powerful "Malfunction" and "Seekers of the Truth" that show the influence of metal’s ability to manage its pace rather than go all out all the time.

Along with the metal elements that crossed over, The Age of Quarrel still brings hardcore's offerings to the table as well, particularly with its subject matter. Songs touch in the impossibility of solving the world's problems ("World Peace"), growing up in a rough neighborhood ("Survival of the Streets") and inability to get friends on the right track ("Malfunction"). There are no songs about dragons or science-fiction or history or literature, just the plain, simple truths facing kids in 1986 (and largely today as well).

With the closer, "Signs of the Times," the Cro-Mags offer social commentary on a confused society that still applies today, but the song title itself is particularly telling in retrospect. Little did we know at the time, but this album was in fact a sign of the times and a precursor of what would come.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Getting back to the rhythm

This guest post was done by Steve over at heavy metal addiction .

On Thursday February 20, 2003, a concert was scheduled at The Station Nightclub in West Warwick, RI. The band headlining.....Great White. As the band opened the set, pyrotechnics went off and ignited the soundproofing foam around the stage. Within seconds, the club was ablaze. The aftermath: 100 lives lost and more than 200 injuries.

I was a regular at The Station. When concerts came to town, I was usually there. I saw some great bands: Saxon, U.D.O., Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P. and always had a good time. When the Great White show was announced, my wife and I decided to go. We had been fans of the band since the days of 'Save Your Love' and 'Rock Me' so this was going to be a really great show. With a week's notice, we lined up a babysitter, I took the night off from work and we planned a pre-show dinner. The one thing we didn't do was buy tickets. You could always grab tickets the day of the show for The Station but that Thursday morning we decided to cancel our plans and just stay home.

Hindsight being 20/20, it was probably the best decision we ever made.

I used to listen to Great White a lot, they were one of my favorite bands. Their style of bluesy Hard Rock struck a chord and I went out and bought ONCE BITTEN (1987) after I heard 'Rock Me' on local radio. As the years went on, I became a big fan and picked up all their albums. Over the years, many memories became attached to the songs. After the fire, it was hard to listen to the band's music. Now there was a stigma attached to it. Hearing a Great White song didn't remind me of the good times I'd had, it only reminded me of the fire and the lives lost. Lives lost of people I didn't know but had a kinship with through the music. It also made me think of the "what ifs": What if we had gone to the show?, What if we had been in that fire?, etc. It took three years before I could listen to Great White again.

This past Tuesday (July 17), Great White released their comeback album BACK TO THE RHYTHM and I was at the store first thing in the morning so I could pick up a copy. For some reason I had a serious urge to buy this album. I wanted to hear what the band could create after so much had happened, to hear the possible train-wreck that the album could be. What I bought was a solid Hard Rock album. I put it on in the car and immeadiately got into it. So I'm driving, and listening, and enjoying. I had that good feeling that you can only get from a good song. It was then I understood that it wasn't the music that caused the fire, it wasn't the songs that killed and injured people like me. The music didn't cause anything, mistakes made by many people did. I had gone a few years without listening to Great White and hearing this new record made me realize that it was time to get back to the rhythm. Music is a celebration of life and it is meant to be enjoyed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

20 Years of Killing Technology

The first guest post of the week is from the Mule .

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When this album was released 20 years ago, there was no other band like Voivod. Twenty years later, there still isn’t. Seemingly beamed down from a post-nuclear future, the band offered the fearful and fearsome Killing Technology as their ultimate appraisal of their surroundings circa 1987. The album resounds with anxiety and forewarning set to Voivod’s newly perfected techno-thrash, and serves as the launching pad for their next few triumphs, including their career apex, Nothingface (1989).

Killing Technology followed Voivod’s first two releases, the raw, motorbreath-belching War and Pain, and RRRÖÖÖAAARRR, where they thrashed themselves into a stylistic corner and found themselves part of a scene they felt was artistically restrictive. Where War and Pain captured the excitement of a band hopped up on Venom, Motörhead, and Discharge, the second album was a messy, warp-speed enterprise, something the young band had to get out of their system, I suppose. I remember dismissing RRRÖÖÖAAARRR when it came out (I’ve warmed up to it now), but with Killing Technology, Voivod had clearly blasted off into new dimensions of progressive metal.

“We were really getting away from the thrash scene, being more influenced by gothic punk or industrial and things like that,” said drummer Michel “Away” Langevin on CBC’s Brave New Waves in 1989. “And also a lot of classical influence... We became more progressive, with more feelings, more different emotions.”

By 1987 the classic thrash canon was already in place, with Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax (and you might argue, Dark Angel and Kreator) having established the state of the art. Voivod found another direction, while expanding thrash’s sonic palette and subject matter. Recorded in Berlin with Harris Johns, it was their first album recorded away from home and with a “name” producer. Johns provided increased clarity and heaviness, but Voivod’s trademark assortment of wild frequencies—Blacky’s raunched-up bass tone, Away’s ringing high-hats and the Fripp-on-Benzedrine fretboard dynamics of guitarist Piggy (RIP)—remained in place. Despite Away’s claims about the band’s newfound influences around this time, their music remained as speedy and relentless as ever.

The topics the songs explored came out of the ominous events of the mid-’80s, as Away explained in 1989: “Killing Technology is part of the concept of the Voivod where we were talking about a society where technological improvement is going faster than social improvement. We felt that it could be dangerous in a few years. It’s related to everything that happened at that time, like the Chernobyl accident, the Star Wars project, and the Challenger explosion.” In tackling this subject matter, Killing Technology covers themes of manipulation and helplessness in the face of technology, politics and nature gone mad—all quite relevant to 1987, and even more relevant today.

Enough background—let’s drop the needle on side one, the “Killing” side. Brace yourselves, it’s a stone-cold classic side of metal.

The opening ambience of the title track brings to mind the spaceship cockpit depicted on the cover. Circuitry hums, a signal beeps, then a computer voice intones “We are connected.” The song roars to life, and the music’s focused mania makes it clear that Voivod’s songwriting and musicianship are on a much higher plane than before. “Killing Technology” is an epic that flows from killer part to killer part, using then abandoning verse/chorus structure as it goes. Snake’s singing has much more character than before—he’s given up trying to be Paul Dianno and is concentrating on being the best Snake he can be, delivering lines like “The fear will come from the sky, from behind!” with chilling drama.

The cool thing about Voivod’s sound is that it conjures such vivid pictures. As Chuck Eddy wrote in Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe, “[Voivod] hails from a little Quebec town that houses North America’s biggest aluminum factory, and here, they sound like North America’s biggest aluminum factory.” The two songs that round out side one also share this characteristic. “Overreaction” is a breakneck thrash song about a nuclear disaster that actually sounds like a meltdown in progress, while listening to “Tornado” on headphones is like being sucked into a whirlwind. “Tornado” always seemed thematically out of place on Killing Technology, but if you expand the concept to include anything beyond mankind’s control (whether man-made or not), it’s not a bad fit.

Can you stand the pace? Time to flip it over to “Ravenous” side.

“Forgotten In Space,” is probably the most progressive, riff-packed song on the album, featuring two guitar solos from the prolific Piggy. The lyrics are a science fiction tale about a quest for liberty inside (and outside) a space ship full of prisoners (presumably on its way to Clutch’s “Prison Planet”). Our hapless protagonist ends up floating free with “not too much oxygen” on hand.

Still, he’s probably better off than the poor bastard who winds up on the examining table in “Ravenous Medicine.” After a few rounds of electro-shock therapy, radiation endurance tests, and drug trials at the science hospital, expiring in the vacuum of space seems like bliss. This grinding mid-paced number was the album’s “single,” with a video that garishly painted its tale of medical research gone amok, featuring Snake as a straitjacketed human guinea pig (check out their DVOD-1 for some behind-the-scenes footage of this video, as well as the full clip itself).

“Order of the Blackguards” ups the pace, ripping along effectively and containing one of the fastest passages on the album during Piggy’s solo. Its anti-authoritarian theme presents the blackguards as destroyers of knowledge, book-burners who enforce ignorance amongst the cowering, fragile-minded populace. It’s safe to say that “Order…” owes a debt to Ray Bradbury’s Farhenheit 451, thus joining heavy metal’s tradition of literature-inspired songs.

The album closes with “This Is Not an Exercise,” and the only logical scenario after the terrors depicted in the previous six songs: Doomsday. Naturally Voivod throw their own twist into the plot, in which the narrator has to break the news of the imminent catastrophe to a media-numbed citizenry: “And this is it, you better watch it live/I wake you up, this is not an exercise!” Musically, this song contains my favorite riff on the album, which erupts after the opening verse, and an abrupt yet powerful ending that sounds like the snuffing out of all life.

The final song also contains another line that resonates powerfully two decades later: “Don’t adjust your brain. It’s now, it’s real.” Today, when citizens and politicians can apparently adjust their brains to accept any pseudo-reality that promotes any agenda, it’s a message that needs to be heard again.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Diamond Head-Borrowed Time

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The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was highly influential on the metal scene. Yet over here in the states there were just a few bands that we knew from this scene or at least that was case while the scene was still going on in the early 1980's. Iron Maiden and Def Leppard would of course become huge and Saxon once flirted with breaking it big, but didn't. Even Raven and Venom got some notice and eventually got contracts on American labels. A lot of the other bands from the scene didn't get as much notice. However the impact of a cover song came into play when Metallica started doing covers in the late 1980's. A number of bands from different scenes got more looks because Metallica covered one or more of their songs. Among those bands were Budgie, Killing Joke, the Misfits and Diamond Head. I believe I heard Diamond Head's version of "Am I evil?" once and it was after I heard Metallica's cover. I think I remember being fairly and it is yet this album was way different than I thought it would be. I guess that due to the Metallica connection that I expected this album to be more a blueprint for Metallica's style. This album is really nothing like that in fact in some ways Diamond Head seem to draw on older metal influences more than many other NWOBHM bands. The opener "Heat of the night" is a medium slow affair with the vocals being almost more hard rock in style than metal. It's simple, but steady with a truly fluid solo. "To heaven from hell" has starts with a riff that reminds me of maybe early Saxon, but slowed down a little. The song has a strong and deliberate beat and again the solo is strong and after that the song picks up a bit. "Call Me" has the band controlling the pace yet it feels a little generic. Not bad altogether, but at least half of this track has me picturing some cheesy early 1980's movie that might have a band playing at some dive in the background of a scene and this would be the song they would be playing. "Lightning to the nations" tears on initially and then settles into a tight zone with some solid drums and fired-up vocals. Again the band's strength is controlling the pace and milking a lot out of everything they do. "Borrowed Time" begins the first of three straight tracks that are all over seven minutes a piece. The tone of the guitar somehow reminds me of early Def Leppard yet it's kind of blended with almost a 70's doom sludge sound not completely removed from Black Sabbath and Pentagram. The song works into way into some nice passages that manage to be steady yet hold my attention fairly well. "Don't you ever leave me" actually a sound fairly similar to the previous track, but a little more odd in it's pacing which I actually prefer. The vocals kind of play against the guitar at times and that makes for a nice change I think. Last up is "Am I evil?" and it of course has the long, but very direct introduction and then we getting tapping, harmonics and that nice, neat and tight little riff. The song does have a little bit of a 70's metal influence to me perhaps more in tone than in style. They manage control of this track and it's a good example of fairly solid songwriting and they really squeeze a lot of cool riffs just in the last two minutes alone. Overall I think this is a good album, but I don't see it as great. I may listen to it from time to time, but to me the first three tracks were not nearly as good as tracks four through seven. I like it, but in some ways can see why it didn't have the impact over here that some of the other bands of the scene did. I think it does require a bit more patience at time and it does blend hard rock with metal at times rather than being the straight metal that was on the rise. Still worth giving a listen to, but I wouldn't say it's essential.

***Remember this is Trans-Atlantic Metal Monday so slip over to Rock of ages and read what Bill had to say about this one.

****Also I will be gone for a few days, but have some great guest bloggers lined up so make sure you check them out.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Judge the album cover

This week it's two covers featuring logos on snakeskin patterns. It's Vyper's Ready to strike

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King Kobra's Number One.

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***So do you like either, don't like them or are they just okay?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What's coming up?

I had to work late last night for the Harry Potter event and I have to work again today, but I did get to check out my copy of the book so I have that to look forward to.There are new pictures of my kids over at my wife's blog http://wishywashywonderland.blogspot.com/ . That's me in the background of the picture of my son.
I might try to post a judge the album cover on Sunday.
Trans-Atlantic Metal Mondays continues with Diamond Head's Borrowed Time. Then I will be on vacation for a few days so you will get guest bloggers from Tuesday through Thursday so that will be great. I will be back on Friday with a heavy metal jukebox.

***Here are two fill in the blank questions for you.

1-The best hard rock/metal album of 2007 so far is _______________.
2-I am still looking forward to ________________ which is scheduled to come out in 2007.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Van Halen-Diver Down

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Warner Brothers

When I think of summer I think of sunny days, watermelon, pools, vacations and inevitably Diamond Dave era Van Halen. It just seems like summer music to me and has for a long time. However their fifth album Diver Down is probably not the first release that pops into your mind when you think of this band. Any conversation about this album inevitably will bring about a mention of the number of cover songs and instrumentals and indeed the majority of the material here falls into one of those two category. That fact used to bother me a little, but ultimately it's not always what a band does but rather how they do it. Listening to it in that way, I would say this is still very much a classic Van Halen album. Is it fun? Yes . Does Eddie play some interesting guitar passages? Yes. Is the rhythm section everything it had been on the previous four albums? Yes. Is Dave all that Dave was in the 1980's? Why indeed he is. I can see the initial hang-ups with the album to some extent. "Dancing in the street" is not my favorite track in the world, but "Pretty Woman" and the "Intruder" intro reminds more of "Fair Warning" which is a good thing. "Big bad Bill" is pure Diamond Dave and you can tell he is all over that one. I have always like "Cathedral" and the "Little Guitars (intro)" and remember rewinding my walkman to hear them again when I was younger. I have always thought that "Where have all the good times gone", "Hang 'em high" and "Full bug" are entertaining tracks and enthusiastic even if they aren't stellar. Even a few years after it's release some of the band members seemed to be apologetic or doing some finger pointing when referring to this album. Sure, it could have been better, but looking back on it I think it's nice that it was different and overall it holds up rather well for what it is. Actually it's probably on the same level as "Woman and children first" which also has different bits here and there rather just being straight forward all full length standard songs. In retrospect "Diver Down" is an interesting chapter in the all too short life of one of the best hard rock bands of our time. I think the album ultimately succeeds, it's just that we as fans may have been hoping for a little more. It's not the best Roth-era Van Halen album yet it still has enough going for it to be a good album and it's easily better than any of the post 1984 Van Halen albums. It may not be the first album I reach for by them, but I do reach for it often enough. I have to admit that I still smile when "Happy Trails" comes on. So pour yourself some ice tea, lay down in the lawn chair, listen to some classic Van Halen and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Judge the album cover

This week it's the 1988 self titled debut from LA Guns.
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**So do you like it, don't like it or is it just alright?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Time to play over/under again. I list two bands and for each band you say what you think is the most overrated track by each band and then the most underrated track. The bands this time around are....

Iron Maiden

Twisted Sister

***So what do you think?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Blog plug

Chuck over at Pratt songs just did a review of Aerosmith's "Get your wings" so go check it out.

Who were they? Medieval

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This month's who were they is one of the absolute best metal bands you may never have heard of. Medieval hailed from the western Michigan area and began around 1979 as Omnibus. That early line-up was Timmy Amsbuist on guitar and vocals, Willijious Amsbuist on drums and a bass player named Magloo. Timmy and Willijious were not related, but were friends and that last name was because they combined their last names just when they were playing in the band (their story). After awhile the band changed bass players and Elwood Chew came in. At this point they went to record a demo and they had a manager who had aspirations of the band playing top 40 material. It wasn't so they split with their manager. Then a family friend named Lord Byron introduced the band to some heavier influences and shortly after that they recorded another demo called "All knobs to the right" in 1984. They got some positive press, but had trouble finding a label due to their image (short hair), diverse subject matter and refusal to change their image.

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Finally New Renaissance records signed them, they put their song "World War Four" on the label's "Speed Metal Hell" compilation and then they released a five song ep in 1986. The band's bio calls the ep "Reign of terror", but other sources and my album make it appear like it is self-titled. Then they began working towards material for a full length album. "Medieval Kills" was ready to go in 1987, but New Renaissance's distributor Important went out of business. This tied up cases of New Renaissance albums in a warehouse while a legal battle went on. Which meant most of the copies of Medieval's albums sat in a warehouse for about a year. This was pretty much the killer for the band as they couldn't tour for an album that no one could buy. They went on for a year or two after that and called it quits. In 2004 they reunited with a different bass player and began work on new material. Their website even showed them as making some progress as of late 2005, but no updates since then so I guess they may not come back.

That's the history, but it doesn't do them justice. I first heard them on the Speed Metal Hell compilation around 85-86. I bought their ep in maybe 1987 and stumbled upon a used copy of "Medieval Kills" in 1988. Most of their tracks are medium to medium fast tempo, but heavy with killer vocals that have a unique feel. They are like a garage band that plays metal if that helps clear anything up. They are very heavy with pounding backbeats and crazy off the wall guitar solos. To me their music has gotten better with time. They are hard to describe in some ways because there is not a clear comparison. Maybe "Helmet playing some fine power/speed metal" might be closer, but they are still far better than that. Easily one of the best 80's metal bands on an independent label. None of their material has been released on cd. Their website is still up if you want to check it out.


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Monday, July 16, 2007

Faster Pussycat-s/t, 1987

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It's the second of four installments of "Tran-American Metal Mondays" so after leaving here make sure you slip on over to Rock of ages and see what Bill wrote about this album.
I remember seeing videos for "Don't change that song" and "Bathroom Wall" back in the summer of 1987. I wasn't too impressed then and I think it was largely because I was big on speed metal at the time and they were a far cry from that. However about a year later a co-worker played the first side of this on cassette and then I had a Green eggs and ham type revelation as I realized I did like this band once I gave them a fair chance. So I bought the tape a few days later and really got into it then. "Don't change the song" kicks off the album and it's a groove oriented track with the highly memorable chorus. The other single "Bathroom wall" hops on and Taime Down"s unique vocals chime in. The strength of this song and much of the album is the blatant humor of their songs. "No room for emotion" is almost deceptively simple at first, but they control it and make it work. The pace picks up with "Cathouse" and the fire behind it and the odd vocals help keep it interesting. "Babylon" might be a little over the top, but the completely crazy approach and the driving music is just infectious and soon enough you will be listening to this one repeatedly. "Smash alley" is a little darker in tone, but I like the thick sound here."Shooting you down" is another track where they do a marvelous job just commanding the pace and milking the song for all it's worth. "City has no heart" might be my pick for most underrated track here and I think it would have made a good closer."Ship rolls in" has an even, rolling feel to it. "Bottle in front of me" is decent, but somehow the vocals are a bit shrieky and it overstays it's welcome a little. I think this album succeeds in two ways that almost no one else was even trying in 1987. First the grooves and tones make it sound at times like a cross between hard rock of the time blended with the simplicity and slightly stripped down feel of 1970's glam. The second thing they did was to inject humor all over the album. It's not forced humor either and just about all of it works.

They did fairly well as far as selling this album, but it would be their sophomore effort "Wake me when it's over" that would take them further up the ladder. Personally I think the debut was their best effort because of the humor and the natural feel to it. I think here that they had tapped into an approach that not enough bands explored excluding Faster Pussycat because their other albums were different. I think this album didn't do as well as others possibly because not everyone knew how to take them and there was just so many other albums coming out in 1987. The hard rock/hair metal scene in general and the LA scene was just exploding so it was tough to make a dent. However this album has certainly held up well for my tastes.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What's coming up?

It's been a busy week at work and another busy one coming up, but then I go on vacation. The final Harry Potter book will come out at the end of the week. I volunteered to work that nightand people can get their books at midnight. I may go in costume, but I am not sure about that yet.

The Trans-American Metal Mondays continues and this Monday it will be Faster Pussycat's debut getting reviewed. Also I hope to have out....

-Van Halen-Diver Down review
-Who were they? It's one of the best metal bands you may have never heard of. It will be the astounding Medieval.
-Judge the album cover

***Here are some "last of" questions for you.

1-What was the last album you listened to?
2-Name the last artist you heard where you thought they were not very good.
3-What was the last album you bought new? The last one you bought used?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Judge the album cover

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This week it's hard rock/AOR band White Wolf and the cover of their 1986 album "Endangered Species". So do you like it, don't or is it just okay for you?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Break the tie!

The Vote for a review is currently tied so if you have yet to vote then you can help break the tie. The vote is currently-

Black Sabbath-The Eternal idol-6 votes
Deep Purple-The house of the blue light-6 votes
Motorhead-Rock-n-Roll-2 votes

The winner will get reviewed for my September twenty year old album review. So cast that vote.

Lesser of two evils

It's time for Lesser of two evils and this month it's a band most known for influencing Ugly Kid Joe to take that band name versus a band most known for using a tool that normally just cuts wood as a musical instrument. It's two debut albums so it's Jackyl's self-titled 1992 debut
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Versus Pretty Boy Floyd's 1989 "Leather boyz with electric toyz" debut.
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Vocalist-So it's Jesse Dupree from Jackyl versus Steve "Sex" Summers for Pretty Boy Floyd. Dupree sounds a little like Brian Johnson of AC/DC, but a little less screechy and a little more in control of his voice. Steve Summers sounds like a cross between Vince Neil and Bret Michaels. Nothing special, but solid enough and he seems like he's having fun with it.

Point to Pretty Boy Floyd

Guitarist-It's a two versus one situation here. Jackyl has Jimmy Stiff and Jeff Worley versus Pretty Boy Floyd's Kristy "Krash" Majors. None of these guys are stellar as it's kind of run of the mill material on both sides, but Kristy Majors sounds a little more energetic. The Jackyl guys aren't bad, but you have two guitarists and they can't muster anything better than second rate AC/DC riffs? They should have tried harder.
Point to Pretty Boy Floyd

Rhythm section-So for PBF it's bass player Vinnie Chas and drummer Kari "the mouth" Kane versus Jackyl bassist Thomas Bettini and drummer Chris Worley. Both bass players are okay if that. Chris Worley is adequate enough, but just very standard. Kari Kane seems to have a good handle on producing some solid beats though as he doesn't always play the same old thing.
Point to Pretty Boy Floyd

Originality/production-Neither band is very original here. Jackyl sound like AC/DC to some extent and Pretty Boy Floyd sound like a cross between early Poison and Motley Crue. The production is fine on both albums, but Pretty Boy Floyd have a little bit of a rough sound at times and I think that works better for their music.
Point to Pretty Boy Floyd

Who rocks more-Honestly these two bands are better than most of the bands that have ended up in this feature as far as actually rocking. The main reason they are both here is because neither band is very original and neither are terribly good songwriters. Okay at times they boarder on being bad songwriters. Jackyl do rock a little here and there, but not immediately and only maybe 2-3 songs are solid all the way through. Pretty Boy Floyd might actually manage to rock for more than half of their album despite writing some pretty thin material. Their writing might have benefited if they had spent more time writing and less time poofing their hair up and putting on their make-up with paint brushes. Still....
Point to Pretty Boy Floyd

Result: That's going to wrap up a sweep for Pretty Boy Floyd. Some of the categories were close and some were not. Jackyl somehow managed to get airplay and some during a time when most hard rock was struggling. Pretty Boy Floyd received some hype and a decent push, but didn't get far even though they emerged when hair metal was at it's peak. If I could I would have also given Pretty Boy Floyd an extra point for not having a chainsaw solo during any of their songs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Metal Church-s/t 1985

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This Seattle based band actually released their debut themselves in 1984. However major labels got wind of what they doing and Elektra signed them, made some small changes to the album and put it out again on their label in 1985. These guys are often thought of as a second tier band along with bands like Exodus, Testament, Nuclear Assault, Kreator and Overkill. The bands that almost made it to the level of Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth, but not quite. Yet Metal Church were on a major before most of those bands and many people rate their debut as their best work. Although I think they were fairly solid through their first five releases despite the fact that they changed vocalists and a guitarist after the second album. One of the biggest problems I find with a number of metal bands I liked back in the 1980's is that while they may still sound fast, they just don't sound that heavy to my ears anymore. However Metal church are certainly an exception as they actually sound heavier to me now then they did twenty some years ago. In 1985 bands like Megadeth and Kreator put out debuts that saw them showing potential, but still sounding like they were searching for their sound. Yet the same year Metal Church sound like they are giving out lessons on how to blend speed with heaviness. Tracks like "Hitman", "Battalions" and spectacular instrumental "Merciless Onslaught" have the band just tearing it up. Then tracks like "Beyond The Black", "Metal Church" and "In the blood" show a more classic metal approach yet the heaviness is still there. The late David Wayne had those trademark cutting vocals that worked to grab your attention. I think all of the players were very solid as well as there were no slackers here for sure. I think maybe these guys didn't get their due because they kind of stayed between classic metal and speed metal and never went fully to one camp. I don't mind the approach at all, but that may be what kept them from being a top tier band. Still this album rips it up even today and I do believe that these guys are one of the most underrated metal bands of their day. This is a must hear album for sure.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vote for a review

This will be the third and last vote for a review of the year, but I will have three more next year.

Early in the year Lizzy Borden's Visual Lies won the first vote. Then Celtic Frost's Into the Pandemonium won the second time. Now here are the choices for the third vote and it's all veteran British bands. The album with the most votes is the one I will review for my twenty year old album review in September.

-Black Sabbath's The Eternal idol
-Deep Purple's The house of the blue light
-Motorhead's Rock -n- roll

***So which one do you choose?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Little Angels-Jam, 1992

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It's the first of four Trans-Atlantic Metal Mondays. That means after reading this blog you should slip over to Rock of ages to read about what Bill wrote about this album. If you went to his blog first then you just have to read my views.

I remember brief mentions in some magazines of this band when their "Young Gods" album came out in 1991. I really don't remember if I knew that they were British or not back then. This album is fairly catchy, melodic hard rock which had the misfortune of coming out here in 1992. Grunge was on fire by then so this kind of music was destined to struggle by this time or at least here in the states it would have. However that's a shame because this is a good album. I had no idea what to expect before hearing this other than that they were hard rock. They were more blues oriented than I expected. It's a subtle blues rock sound, but it's there for many of the tracks. At times it makes me think of Aerosmith's two albums from the late 1980's and maybe a little of the London Quireboys as well. However the flow here is different, a little even and smooth perhaps. There's a little more of a faint 70's classic rock sound sprinkled here and there as well. They seem very confident and don't feel the need to always have the very punctuated choruses that many hard rock bands overused between say 89-92. The vocals are smooth and even, but sharp enough to be catchy. The music is solid and even the songs with horns work well. Now I would have liked to seen a few more rockers as the slow songs seem to dominate the album, but I can live with that.
This album did very well in the UK, but of course I didn't know that until very recently. One source said the band's record label chose not to push the album here in the states. I don't know if that's true or not, but it didn't make a dent here as far as I know. Even if it had gotten label support I doubt whether it would have made it here in 1992 because of the change in music trends. Now if it had come out in 1990 then it could have gone over big here because melodic hard rock was riding high then. I do very much think this is good hard rock for the time unlike some pulp like Warrant and Trixter that were getting noticed for releasing very bland bugglegum hard rock.

***Next week will be the second of the four Trans-Atlantic Metal Mondays. Up next week is the debut from an LA band who would get some notice, but I think their debut was fairly unique and maybe got overlooked a little when it was released.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

What's coming up?

It's been a good week with the holiday and nice weather. I won't be posting on Sunday because I will be preparing for the first Trans-Atlantic Metal Monday of the month. It will be Jam by Little Angels so make sure you check it out. Also this week I hope to have out....

-Metal Church-s/t review
-Judge the album cover
-Vote for a review
-Lesser of two evils: Jackyl vs. Pretty Boy Floyd

***Here are some fill in the blank questions for you.

1-The most overrated drummer in hard rock/metal is ______________.
2-The most underrated drummer in hard rock/metal is_____________.
3-When I think of a metal album, the first title that comes to my mind is _________________.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Judge the album cover

The group shot can be tough to pull off. You do too much then you may look cheesey because it looks too posed. Don't do enough and it may just be boring. Here are three album covers with group shots for you to judge.
First up is KISS with the cover of their 1983 albm Lick it up.
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Next is Metal Church with their 1989 album Blessing in disguise.
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Last is Kreator's Extreme Aggression also from 1989.
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***Do you like any of them? If not then are there any hard rock/metal covers with a group shot that you think really work?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Def Leppard-Hysteria, 1987

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Background-You all know it, but here it is anyhow. These guys were riding high after the Pyromania tour ended. Then drummer Rick Allen lost an arm in an accident in late 1984. They went through a trying period where everyone was wondering what they would do, but they soldiered on and Allen stayed behind the kit. They returned and played the Monsters of rock festival in 1986 and it was obvious they would be back soon. So their next album was one of the most anticipated releases of 1987.

First Impression-I was very disappointed when I first heard this the week it came out. I couldn't believe this was the same band that had done High -n- dry and Pyromania. Bottom line was this album didn't rock, it seemed like over processed, limp pop music with all the emphasis on the vocals and drums. I have not listened to the whole album in maybe fifteen years so it's time to give it another spin.


Women-The opener has a lot of build up with a big synthesized drum sound coming on.The vocals are good, but it just mainly seems like drums and vocals and everything else is buried. It's almost like there's no life to it until the chorus and even that's just alright. I kind of like the solo, but it could have used more of that guitar sound in the rest of the song.

Rocket-Another long build-up with lots of ohhhs and ewwws, but not much guitar or at least not in the foreground. Another simple chorus here and there and the track just kind of meanders around repeating the chorus hear and there.

Animal-Wow it actually opens with a guitar rhythm although slightly watered down. It quickly calms down a bit though. This is easily better than the previous tracks. It only reaches a lukewarm level as a rock song though, but the vocals are a plus.

Love Bites-Slow beginning as they kind of noodle around for over a minute. Then of course eventually a big chorus comes on and those seem to be the highlight of most of the songs here. Really this one is dreadfully dull and these guys used to be so good at handling slow tracks and making them interesting.

Pour some sugar on me-Big drums and a little guitar sound start it off then the vocals come in and the guitar picks up a little. To me this is just very pop with all of the life sucked out of it. I struggled to make it through the whole thing.

Armageddon It-The guitar comes on sounding like something from the previous album for a few seconds then it starts to sound like Robert Palmer or something. Again this is the same formula with minimal guitar, big drums and vocals with a loud simple chorus. This song is slightly more engaging than some of the others, but nothing great.

Gods of war-Begins slow, but it has me sort of interested initially. Very smooth sound and overall a bit more even mix than some of the other tracks. Overall it's a much better attempt at making the band more pop sounding without giving up too much. Although I am not convinced they did enough to maintain it for the over six minutes that this track runs.

Don't shoot shotgun-Continuing what the previous track did. This song does fairly well at mixing their old sound with their new approach. Pretty solid track that moves along nicely.

Run riot-Oh, my, there's hooks, a solid guitar and the drums stay back. How they did they let this one slip through? Very good song because it sounds like their Pyromania material.

Hysteria-Just when I thought this album couldn't get any more lightweight this song comes meandering on encompassing everything I didn't like about top 40 music from the 1980's. It's fairly limp and even the vocals don't have much to give.

Excitable-This song comes bouncing on sounding like a cross between Robert Palmer and something off of KIX's Cool Kids album. That last part is not a compliment. About two minutes in this starts to sound like a bunch of outtakes thrown together.

Love and affection-Another slow track comes on sort of low key. Although inoffensive, it's rather sedate and never does very much. It just kinds of wanders through for over four minutes never really accomplishing anything.

Final Word-I know that I am in the minority on this, but I still don't like this album. This was a band that prior to this album had improved with each of their three releases and High -n- Dry and Pyromania were two of the best hard rock albums of the 80's. They had written good material, they were good enough players so why then did they take such a dramatic turn and tone down the huge majority of their hard rock sound? Well, duh to sell even more albums of course. Every want to be hip teen with a radio or Mtv ate this cotton candy filler up. So unfortunately we never again saw much of the same band that was so good from 1980-1983 and that's a shame.

***Next month's twenty year old album review will be Anthrax's Among the living. I will also soon be having a vote for a review to decide the twenty year old album review for September.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th!

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Have a great 4th of July today. I will be back with a regular post on Thursday. It will either be the Hysteria review or a Judge the album cover.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Heavy Metal Jukebox

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I can't believe it, but Judas Priest's Screaming for vengeance is twenty-five years old this year.

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You have heard "You got another thing comin" over and over and you have probably heard "Electric Eye" many times so let's give some of the others a chance.

So your choices are:


-Pain and pleasure

-Devil's Child

***Which one do you choose?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Upcoming project!

Introducing a new feature that will run on Rock of ages and Heavy Metal Time Machine each Monday throughout the final four weeks of July. It will be called "Trans-Atlantic Metal Mondays". One of the things I have enjoyed most about reading about Rock of ages is finding out the different bands that seem to have been more prominent in the UK than they were here in the states. So we decided that we would each pick two bands, Bill took two from the UK and I selected two from the US, but we will both be reviewing all four albums. So on the rest of the Mondays in July we will be posting our reviews simultaneously (or at least same day!) and see if we reach different conclusions. First up on July 9th is an English band who saw significant chart success over in the UK in the late 80s and early 90s yet they seemed to get lost in the shuffle over here. Further posts will go up on 16th, 23rd and 30th July. Hope you enjoy the reviews.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Wyzard-Knights of metal,1984

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I'll admit that I never heard of these guys back in the day. I guess because this their only release is fairly rare. So rare that a vinyl copy of this four track release sold for $500 on eBay several years ago. However in 2003 Perris records got the rights and put it out on CD with a bonus track. Like many rarities, it received a great deal of hype. Like many rarities it doesn't quite live up to it's hype. These guys were from San Antonio, Texas and listed their influence as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. You can sort of hear that, but more Priest than Maiden. They would likely be classified as traditional power metal. Which kind means they are faster than say classic metal bands like Dio or Judas Priest, but not quite up to a speed metal pace. The music reminds me a little of fellow Texans Helstar with tight riffs mixed in with some short sporadic pace changes. They might also be slightly similar in sound to LA band Abattoir, but not quite as fast. The vocals are all over the place though as the vocalist alternates between middle range and some crazy unexpected high notes. I think their energy is pretty high, but their creativity is fairly typical of a lot of mid-80's metal bands that never went anywhere. They also dress in the standard black leather and black t-shirt look and pose with skulls and big candles. The booklet notes say they added a second guitarist after this ep. It's a shame they didn't get another try. Even though they aren't totally spectacular, they are fired up enough that I would have been interested to hear what they could do on a full length album with two guitarists and better production values. It's not hardly worth the $500 the vinyl drew, but it was worth the $10 I paid for the CD a couple of years ago.