Friday, November 30, 2007

Countdown starts on Saturday

That's right my top ten albums of 1987 will begin with the unveiling of number ten tomorrow. I started in August re-evaluating my top ten hard rock and metal albums of 1987. I picked 22 contenders and over the last four months I have listened to all of them and narrowed it down to my top ten. This is the third year in a row that I have done this at my blog. There are three things that always seem to happen with this project.
1)An album I orginally think will be in the top ten doesn't make the final list.
2)Someone makes it higher up on the list than I originally think.
3)The most difficult spot to determine is always number ten because there is always someone you hate to leave off the list, but you have to.

Okay, so the album I have as number ten from 1987 will be posted on Saturday. I also promised to give hints for each spot so I need to give a hint for number ten. The band I have at number ten had a place on their albums that told how to properly pronounce their band name.

Severe Torture-Sworn Vengeance

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I had to play this one several times to really get a handle on it. Severe Torture are from Holland and this is their fourth album and second on Earache records. They play a fairly traditional style of death metal, but they also mix in element of thrash and very early death metal as well. They also due it in a rather seemless method which makes if flow nicely, but that's why it took a few listens for me to pick out everything that was transpiring during this album. They have an honestly aggressive approach that plows forward with oftentimes a thick wall of heaviness. Yet for the most part they avoid the trap that far too many death metal bands fall into and that's having the guitar get swallowed or the mushed by the overall sound of the band. That doesn't happen hear, the guitar stays very distinct and it stays above the sound and drives forward. They also controlled the pace as opposed to it controlling them and that's another trap I think a number of death metal bands fall prey to. However, I got the distinct impression that the better songs were towards the second half of the album. The vocals breifly deviated from the traditional garbled growl, but not much. So unfortunately the vocals are very much the same old thing with little very deviation from the style that most singers in this genre swear by. The production is overall strong as it's heavy when it has to be and sharp when needed. Also every instrument gets a fair shake in the production as nothing is lost in the overall feel of the album. There is nothing that new here, but Severe Torture are better than average musicians who have a decent knack for tones and pace changes.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Interview with Shannon of Avenger of blood

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Avenger of Blood are based in Las Vegas, Nevada and play an old style of thrash metal. They have been around for about four and a half years. They are signed to Heavy Artillery records and have been featured on the “Speed Kills…again” compilation. I recently interviewed their drummer Shannon to find out more about them and what they are working on.

MM-What should people know about your band?

Shannon-Well we are a German Thrash influenced band located in Las Vegas NV. The band is a 4 piece consisting of Eric on vocals and guitar, Shawn on bass and backing vocals, Marc on guitar, and myself Shannon on drums. We formed in early 2003 and continue on to this day.

MM-Who are your influences?

Shannon-Well the main influences are Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, and Slayer. It's not only music, its a certain feeling and aggression that also influences us.

MM-How is it that you are so influenced by bands whose real prime was twenty years ago?

Shannon-Well, Eric and I have been thrash fans for a long time. We were both there at that time 20 years ago and listening to those bands, going to the shows, buying the tapes/vinyl, and etc. When the whole industry changed, all the thrash bands broke up or changed sounds. It was hard to get a thrash band even started for a long time. When we formed the band, it was with the sole intention of playing thrash. It just so happened that people liked it. Those old thrash bands that inspired us had reformed or come back to playing thrash. With Sodom, they never stopped. All these bands had fire in them again and the feeling they gave off that we got 20 years ago was there. That really helped to push us.

MM-What’s the first thrash album that you really got into?

Shannon-"Reign In Blood" by Slayer. That album still rules!

MM-You originally started out in the San Francisco area, but then moved to Las Vegas a few years ago. Why the move?

Shannon-At the time, it was still not long after the big layoff period that was happening up in the Bay. It was still difficult to find a decent paying job at the time to even survive. It is very expensive to live there. Vegas didn't really have a metal scene here. There was one, but it was really small! Vegas needed more metal and we needed somewhere to establish ourselves further as a band. So we moved here to Las Vegas. We also have family here and that’s a cool thing about it as well.

MM-What’s the metal scene like in Las Vegas? Are there any other old-style thrash bands there?

Shannon-The metal scene in Vegas is small but it's growing. We have some death metal bands here like Guttural Secrete, Kinam, and State of War. There’s an awesome classic style metal band here named Pancho Villa. The other old school style thrash bands here are Ablivion, Postmortom, Shredmill, and a new band that is just starting up called Tyrant Attack. There is a band here that also does a lot of metal covers from the 80’s called Highwire. Vegas is mostly a mallcore and hip hop city.

MM-What bands have you opened for?

Shannon-This list is long! Rigor Mortis, Destruction, Tankard, Raven, Agent Steel, Helstar, Usurper, Cannibal Corpse, Sadus, Incantation, Hirax, Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Satyricon, Dekapitator, Exhumed, Heathen, Into Eternity, Dew-Scented, Novembers Doom, and more.

MM-What are the inspirations for the topics of your songs?

Shannon-Just real life I guess, anger as well are what inspires topics. A lot of it is stuff that has happened in the past personally to us or to others. Other subjects are like war and horror. We take scenarios and write a story out of things and its portrayed in different ways. It works well because the songs can be whatever the listener makes them out to be.

MM-Tell us about your album and why people should buy it?

Shannon-Its true to the art thrash metal! The cover for “Death Brigade” was painted by Petagno (Motorhead), and it looks phenomenal! The songs are excellent. It’s fast with great midsections and has a great vibe. Everything about this new album is as metal as it gets!

MM-I know you toured some in the summer. Do you have any upcoming tour plans? Any chance you will make it to the East Coast?

Shannon-No plans as of right now. But there will be a tour put together real soon. Definitely planning to go out to the East Coast! I’m looking forward to playing everywhere.

MM-Where do you hope to be in five years?

Shannon-Still playing in this band, just being more established.

MM-Any last words about your band, your music or anything else you want to promote?

Shannon-Thanks for the interview! Be sure to check out “Death Brigade” when it’s released. I’m sure you all will dig it! We’ll be out on the road to support it soon. Keep flying the flag of metal!

Thanks to Shannon for being interviewed. Their album is due December 23rd.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Interview with Lori S. of Acid King

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Acid King have been around since 1993 and have released several albums of slow and very heavy tunes. I recently got to interview guitarist/vocalist Lori S.

MM-Can you tell me a little bit about how Acid King came to be?
Lori-Acid King started in the early 90's I had moved here from Chicago andwas looking into forming a new band. I put an ad in the local paper which is how I found our 1st bass Player, Peter Lucas. I found our drummer, Joey Osbourne at a party and Acid King was born.

MM-Who are your influences?
Lori-Hard to say these days………….. Not so much other bands but just life whatever it is I'm into in my life at that particular time is my influence.

MM-It seems that many people are surprised by how long this band has beenaround. Is that true and if so then why do you think that is?
Lori-HA!, well yea I don't know about that I think in general people are always surprised when any band can stay together for any length of time. Thing with us is we have other things going on in our lives andthe band is just 1 of them it doesn't take up a lot of time and it's something we both do on our time when we are into it so I guess it would be different if we were striving for stardom or to make a living off of music but when you just do it like we do then and travel when we have a record to support and play when we feel like out so it could go on forever!

MM-Is this the only band that everyone is in or is any one currently in aside project?
Lori-Acid King is the only band I'm in. Joey is in an X cover band as well as another project with some other musicians in SF. Mark one of our bass players has a band called Scorched Earth Policy and Rafa who plays with us as well is in Black Cobra!

MM-You got to tour Japan and the UK in recent years. What was that like and are fans and shows there any different than here in the states?
Lori-Playing out of the U.S. is far superior to the U.S. (sorry peeps). Japan is just an insane country and they're very serious about the shows. They're expensive to get into and even the smallest hole in the wall has a good P.A. and lighting system. Since there aren't too many U.S. bands touring there they are very into seeing the music and into buying the merch. Japan kicks much ass! The UK isn't all that different from the U.S. It's very expensive and besides London or some of the bigger cities you cannot predict a crowd will show up. The mainland is great they really know how to take care of the bands and90% of the shows are well attended. Even if they're not you have a place to stay and lots of beer to drink since you're not from there it's like being on a trip. The fans are far more receptive and I much prefer to play there then here (Sorry again peeps). They know how to do it right in Europe!

MM-Do you have any shows lined up for the near future?
Lori-Nothing now we are writing new songs and don't want to play out,would be into going back to Europe in 2008!

MM-You are lumped with the stoner rock label and even sometimes the doom label. Yet your music is different from most bands that get those labels. Do you give your music or label or how would you define your band's music?
Lori-Yea, these days most everyone is labeled something right! I dunno I personally do not feel connected to the stonerock label I alwaysthought that was more for Kyuss, Monster Magnet Type bands I feel it's a very generic term that is more a label for the fans that listen to then the music itself. I think we are heavy doom based with a touch of psychedelic and dose of distortion. I'm trying to shed the stonerock affiliation but don't know if that's ever possible….

MM-I understand that you are currently writing new material. How is that going and how will it be compared to your previous albums?
Lori-Too early to say but as of now I would say the songs are turning out on more of the Busse Woods vein and not III longer jams with more effects and not so much straight song writing.

MM-Has your approach to writing and playing changed any over the years?
Lori-Nope! We basically go into the studio I come up with some basic riffs and we jam on them until they become songs then I write lyrics. Wehave Mark Lamb writing with us now and it's pretty cool. I'm psyched to see how things will turn out but I think a little darker and dreamier.

MM-Are you where you hoped that you would be at this point in your career?
Lori-We never really had any hopes so ummmmmm I'm pretty happy that we arethe point we are. We can put out records, travel to different countries it's pretty cool.

MM-Almost all of your releases have been put out on vinyl as well as CD. Are you a big fan of vinyl as well?
Lori-I have a fair amount of vinyl in the old collection. Kreation Records approached us about putting out vinyl for Busse Woods and III and was like Hell Yea! Vinyl is just better looking.

MM-What do you think sets Acid King apart from other bands?
Lori-Female vocals and my guitar tone! I would say the music at least I don't think is generic it has obvious influences from music I grew up listening to or was into at the time I wrote the songs but I feel it does have some originality to it.

MM-Is there anything else you want say about you band, your music or anything else?
Lori-Thanks so all the fans new and old. We look forward to releasing the new record some time in the near future and traveling to your town!

Thanks to Lori for doing the interview.

Heavy Metal Jukebox

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The year was 1981, it was the year of an assasination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the baseball strike and of course "Raiders of the lost ark" came out. It was a pretty good year for music so here are your three choices.

Def Leppard-Bringin' on the heartbreak
Judas Priest-Heading out to the highway
Van Halen-Unchained

***Which one do you choose?

Kevin DuBrow

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The death of Quiet Riot vocalist Kevin DuBrow certainly wasn't the news I expected to read on Monday morning. It took me several hours to really collect my thoughts and I'll try to keep it brief. I wouldn't say I was a huge fan, but Quiet Riot were certainly one of the maybe first ten or so hard rock/metal bands that I got into around 83-84. DuBrow got criticized for being a big mouth and other things. After the hugely successful Metal Health things began to go down hill for the band and by the end of the decade Kevin was kicked out of the band he had helped form. Then the 1990's came and this whole style of music fell out of favor. Yet DuBrow made his mark because Quiet Riot along Motley Crue, Ratt and others were some of the first LA bands of the 1980's to get noticed, achieve commercial success and help open up the LA hard rock scene. DuBrow was outspoken, but he was enthusuiastic, entertaining and those are all traits of a good frontman which is what he was. What he did in the 1980's would have been enough to earn him his due in the hard rock scene. Still he kept coming back to Quiet Riot over the years with different line-ups. He stayed busy working in music as well whether it was Quiet Riot albums, his solo album, shows or guesting on other artist's albums. He interviewed several times at Metal Sludge and was often one of the best interviews they had. Now older, his outspoken nature was now seen as him being an honest person who was open about his opinions due to his experience rather than his arrogance. He stuck at his music career and seemed to really love his fans and be happy with his role in music. I firmly expected he would play and be around longer, but that was not to be. I will remember him as a solid frontman who worked hard and seemed to enjoy what he was doing.
So long, Kevin.
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Monday, November 26, 2007

Rat Skates-Born in the basement

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Kundrat productions

As fans we often see the end results and we don’t really think about the amount of work that goes into something. That thought kind of applies to this documentary and the stories within. Rat Skates was the original drummer for Over Kill and this is his story. He talks about his days in a punk rock band the Lubric*nts and how they became Over Kill. Once Over Kill formed he goes into talking about the sound of the band as well as detailing parts of promotion that I never thought about. They didn’t have much money, but wanted their band to look professional and to promote their band. He created the band’s logo, screen printed t-shirts, made homemade stickers and more all for the sake of getting the band’s name out there for people to see. They were an unsigned band that wanted their stage show to look good. Rat discusses the importance of the milk crate, yes the milk crate because it apparently it served many purposes including many of them being used as his first drum riser. The whole “do it yourself” approach was a big part of what he had to do get the band and their show noticed. Using what skills, tools and supplies you have to do whatever you can fit it to his approach. I guess too often many of us take for granted that these bands have help or support, but many times they just have themselves to rely on. He obviously had a lot of passion for what he did and he believed strongly in his band and kept pushing to achieve a goal. His stories are well told because he was so enthusiastic about what he was doing. It also just reveals so much about the Herculean efforts that go into getting noticed when you are just one fish in a big sea, but they did it. The film also uses many rare pictures and live audio and video clips as well. There is just so much information in this film about so many aspects of the music, the presentation and everything that went into the development of those aspects. I strongly recommend this movie not just for Over Kill or thrash fans, but for all fans of music because it will give you a greater view into the details, work and creativity that most of us are not aware of.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Demiricous-Two (Poverty)

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Metal Blade

I actually like the music on this releases a lot, but I liked it better when Slayer did it twenty-some years ago. At least that was the initial thought that hit me while listening to this album. I didn't know what to expect going in from this Indianapolis based band, but immediately the sound was very reminiscent of Slayer between 1985 and1988. The vocals, the tight guitar and even the production is so similar. Now the drums of Dustin Boltjes are certainly not in league with the playing of Mr. Lombardo of Slayer, but then again he is one of a kind. The first five tracks are very much in this style and after that they start to get away from it a little bit. The guitar becomes a little more inventive and the vocals start to mix a hardcore style here and there. Vocalist Nate Olp certainly has a strong voice and he has to really channel aggression into his vocals. The music is heavy enough, it flows along well and they never overstay their welcome. Still it's too hard to look past how strongly they have tied their sound to an established band. It's hard to define yourself when you sound so much like another act. It also makes it difficult for the listener to feel the need to listen to your band as opposed to just digging old Slayer albums instead. Now I do think that Demiricious have a good a handle on playing aggressive and their timing is strong, but they just need to work on bringing their own ideas to the surface a little more. They certainly are not as diverse and they probably think they are, but the second half of the album contains enough parts for me to think that they could develop into that kind of band. It just might involve them taking some risks and letting go of the established style that so dominates this album.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What's coming up?

I hope everyone had a good holiday. I hope to have the following out between Sunday and Friday.

Demiricous-Two (Poverty) album review
Severe Torture-Sworn Vengeance album review
Rat Skates-Born in the basement DVD review

Interviews with
Lori S. of Acid King
Shannon of Avenger of Blood

Heavy Metal Jukebox (Likely on Tuesday or Wednesday)

****Then on Saturday the top ten albums of 1987 begins. I will reveal number ten and then countdown one spot per day until the number one album of 1987 is revealed on December 10th. I will give a hint for each one the day before. So on Thursday I will give the hint for number ten.


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Metal Mind
2007 re-issue

This was the fourth and final release from Pestilence and originally came out in 1993. This band started out as an early death style sound and a bit of a speed for the sake of speed approach. Like a number of band playing that style they became a little bored with that style and tried to branch out some. For this album the band attempted to integrate jazz and ambient music in with metal. In some ways this album reminds me of Celtic Frost’s “Into the pandemonium”. Not so much the specific sound, but rather the amount of old style that they blend in with new sounds. However unlike Celtic Frost this album doesn’t completely work. Surprisingly it’s not because of the new sounds, but it’s lack of impact is due to the simplicity of the metal parts and shortcomings in the production. The vocals are fine, but the guitar parts are toned done from the band’s previous efforts and at times the simplicity of these pieces robs the music of some overall strength that could have been present. The production also gives the guitar a rather stripped down sound that just makes most of the songs sound like demo-tracks. The underproduction also makes the metal parts sound rather awkward in comparison with the other styles that are mixed in. However, several listens had me thinking that the songwriting approach wasn’t that far off in bringing about an interesting twist. On several tracks I could feel myself being drawn in by their layered approach, but I had to allow for the production shortcomings. I think that the band was not entirely off track with their ideas, but the production hindered the outcome and they could have fleshed out some their ideas more as well. This re-issue includes several bonus tracks and a booklet with lyrics and background on the album.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Blackmore's Night-Paris Moon

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Despite my love for Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar playing I have avoided this project until now. I avoided it because my fear was that it would be rather dull and pretentious and this live DVD/CD didn’t do much to disspell that fear. I do believe that absolutely any form of music can be played with energy and integrity and those factors go along ways. However any type of music can be dull and tedious if not enough is put into it. I think Blackmore’s Night falls into the latter category. There is no doubt that Mr. Blackmore still has the talent and his fingers still move rather nimbly on the strings of his instrument. Yet fire in a musician doesn’t just come from the body, it comes from the heart of from the spirit and this act is lacking spirit in a major way. Vocalist Candice Night has some range, but her performance really seems to range passable down to being rather empty. I think renaissance music could be done well if the act just went after it and the music was the goal. Aside from a lack of fire the other major problem is that they seem so self-aware. Everything just seemed rather stilted and unnatural as renaissance style was often plugged rather into primarily uninspired and hollow songs. Candice Night seemed to blush and be so proud of this music that I think she would have bowed on every single song if she could have. One thing Ritchie Blackmore had never previously been was dull, not even when Rainbow started becoming pop yet this DVD was sorely testing my concentration. For technical matters I would say the picture and sound quality are fine. If you like renaissance music then there really has to be something out there better than this and Blackmore fans will just have to resort to pulling out their old Deep Purple and Rainbow albums.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Twisted Sister-A Twisted Christmas Live

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Razor and Tie

This DVD was recorded at the Starland Ballroom in New Jersey. The concert has fourteen tracks with seven of them being classic Twisted Sister tunes and the other seven are from the “Twisted Christmas” album. So is it shocking for a hard rock band to perform so many Christmas songs? No more shocking than seeing a bunch of fifty-somethings slap on make-up, wigs and ripped up outfits so they can go out and perform twenty plus years after their prime. The Christmas songs are kind of goofy, but in an enjoyable way for the most part. The joke gets old kind of fast, but they largely pull those off. The classic songs by this band are the main draw here. I thought the biggest highlights were “Burn in hell”, “You can’t stop rock and roll”, “The Price” and a killer version of the often overlooked “Fire still burns”. They look silly and the stage seems odd with tinsel, candy canes, red ribbons and Christmas lights everywhere. Yet there is still that fourteen year old inside of me that has a soft spot for this band and their music. There is no doubt that Dee Snider is a fantastic frontman and I do instead use the word “is”. Twisted Sister have always been a band whose energy and presentation make up for lack of talent and creativity. Not an easy task, but I think they have and are still able to pull it off. This DVD also includes the two videos for “Come all ye faithful”, an in the studio version of “Heavy Metal Christmas”, brief interviews with Dee and Jay Jay plus some footage of Jay Jay and Mendoza leading the choir as they recorded the backing vocals for a few tracks. This costs around $10 and is a pretty good buy for what it is.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lizzy Borden-Appointment with death

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Metal Blade

There have been a number of veteran acts that have released surprisingly good albums this year. That list would include Hanoi Rocks, the Scorpions, Saxon, and Lillian Axe and now I can add Lizzy Borden to that list as well. It’s been seven years since “Deal With The Devil” was released although the band did a slight image change and released an album as Starwood a few years ago. I was hoping for a good album and what they delivered was their heaviest album and quite possibly the second best album of their career. “Appointment With Death” opens with “Abnormal” which has a breakneck pace and enough guitar parts for three good songs. The album pretty much stays the course after that delivering mainly spectacular tracks except for track nine “Something’s Crawling” which is far too repetitive. It’s obvious that a great of planning and work went into this album because it’s a strongly crafted piece of work. This band, like WASP, has always walked the line between hard rock and heavy metal. At their best they deliver the riffs and pounding beats of metal, but blend in the melodies and catchiness of hard rock. I am a long time fan of this band, but wasn’t sure what to expect as it’s been years since they did a great album, they have had line-up changes, delays and a change in image. Yet obviously the long wait was indeed worth it. It many ways this album sounds like it could have been the natural follow-up to 1986’s “Menace to Society” because it’s in a similar style yet heavier and slightly more aggressive. I am glad this band hasn’t fallen prey to recent music trends or simply tried to relive their part, but instead they built upon their best albums and have managed to deliver one of the better albums of 2007.

5 things in music that I am thankful for in 2007

I could have picked many for 2007, but I decided to narrow it down to just five. Here they are in no real order.

1)Hanoi Rocks-I am thankful for them because their 2007 release "Street Poetry" demonstrated that a veteren band can grow and still put out an amazing release.

2)Fu Manchu-They have been at it for a long time and they had begun to sound a little tired plus they ran into some record label problems. Yet in 2007 they put out "We must obey" and made me thankful for their fire.

3)Steve Blaze and Lillian Axe-Normally when a hard rock bands returns after a long time and they only have original member then the results are normally weak. However sole original member guitarist Steve Blaze put together a solid band. They released "Waters rising" which was not only good, but a real attempt at growing as both writers and players.

4)MetalMind productions-Poland based label that for the last few years has specialized in re-releasing 1980's metal albums from acts such as Cyclone, Znowhite, Realm, Heathen and more. The re-masters I have heard sound great and some of these are being released on CD for the first times.

5)Music bloggers and music website writers-The people who don't get paid, but write about music and bands because they love it, want to spread the word or just like writing. Many of the bands I learn about these days are through these kind of sources.

***Have a great Thanksgiving! I will be writing tomorrow in case you get bored of eating and watching football and decide to drop by.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dirty Penny-Take it sleezy

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Dirty Penny-Take it sleezy

All too often all 80’s hair metal gets lumped into one category, but I don’t agree with that. I think there were some really good bands and some lousy ones. I also believe that the period from about 1983-1987 was better than the period from say 1988-1991 and there was a difference. I think there were far more sappy and less talented bands emerging in the late 1980’s-early 1990’s and the scene suffered from it. Where am I going with this? Dirty Penny (formerly Antidote) are a new band, but they look and sound like they came right out of the mid-1980’s. The main influences that I hear are Motley Crue, Ratt, Black -n- Blue and maybe AC/DC by way of Rhino Bucket. Yet Dirty Penny seem to have enough confidence and energy to take their influences and at least begin to create their style. The top two stand out tracks to me are “Sleeze Disease” and “Vendetta”. Both stand out because the band makes the effort to go beyond the one-dimensional approach that so many bands of this genre abide by. The lyrics are the same slices of cheese that were so big twenty some years ago, but the music and the presentation help them to pull it off. They know when to move and how to weave some fairly tight songs. They are not treading in any new territory, but they have taken some old ideas made them fun and that’s what this kind of music should be. Dirty Penny plow forward and, don’t take themselves too seriously and that approach has resulted in one of the better hard rock albums of the year.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Interview with Roxy Petrucci

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Drummer Roxy Petrucci has played with Vixen, Madam X and several other bands. I recently got to interview her and ask about her past as well as what she is working on now.

MM-What are you currently working on?
RP-I'm in the studio recording a pretty wild instrumental drum track that will include amazing bass work by Michael Pisculli.

MM-You came from a family of musicians and you used to play the clarinet. How and when did you get into playing the drums? Were your parents upset or supportive when you started playing in rock bands?
RP-I picked up the clarinet in Elementary School and a few years into it my father asked what other instrument I'd like to play. It wasn't WOULD you like to play another instrument but WHICH. My sister Maxine was already playing flute and guitar and had plans for a rock band, so drums it was. I don't think my parents knew how far we were willing to go until we both left college to hit the road. We never let them know how much we struggled because we loved it so much and knew that we were going to make it.

MM-Were you and your sister playing together as soon as you both learned to play your instruments?
RP-Once we honed our skills we started jamming together on Hendrix and lots of Zeppelin.

MM-Were you in any bands before Madam X?
RP-Maxine and I had an all girl band in High School with 2 other sisters which was pretty cool. We also played all over Detroit in a band called Black Lace.

MM-It seemed like Madam X were doing the huge hair and heavy make-up look right before a lot of other bands. How did you come up with the look?
RP-We believed in being over the top in everything from our music to our look to our stage show. The hair started from what we called a 'Rooster' then somehow just kept getting higher and higher...Maxine and Godzilla's hair were both unbeatable and unstoppable.

MM-Madam X were on Jet records and you even did a video for “High in high school”. Why do you think the band never made it big?
RP-We didn't have much business sense and we didn't have a team in place with the same vision to take us all the way. We were a force on stage but couldn't keep it together in the end.

MM-Did you leave Madam X to go straight to Vixen? How did you get into Vixen?
RP-Janet and then Vixen bassist Pia Vai saw me perform with Madam X in Hollywood. Once they caught wind that Madam X broke up they contacted me and sent me a tape.

MM-How was being in Vixen different than being in Madam X?
RP-Wow, major different. They were so tame compared to the chaos (I mean that in a good way) of Madam X, plus working with all women was an adjustment after being surrounded by guys for so many years. I was concerned that their music might be to wimpy for my taste but once we started jamming it felt right...although I remember Jan asking me to settle down a bit. I still had 'Metal in my Veins'...always will!

MM-You were in some interviews in the movie “Decline of western civilization 2:The metal years”. What are your memories of being in that movie?
RP-It was a quick dealio so I don't remember anything mindblowing to tell ya. Vixen was creating quite a buzz at that time and we were being asked to do some cool shit like a cameo in Cagney & Lacey...remember that show? We were also asked to be the band in the movie Ford Fairlane with Andrew Dice Clay. I don't know what happened with that but I knew Vixen was headed for success.

MM-What were some of the biggest highlights for you of being in Vixen?
RP-Meeting Steven Tyler! Touring around the world with rock legends! Selling a million records!...the whole experience was great from the good, bad and ugly.

MM-Why did the band break up the first time?
RP-Janet and Share wanted to replace Jan. I sided with Jan and we tried to work it out but Janet & Share were ready to move on.

MM-When Vixen’s first album came out, it seemed so much was made of you being an all female hard rock band. That was almost twenty years ago. Looking at today’s music scene, do you think it changed much over the years as far as the amount of all female rock bands or they are perceived?
RP-It's still a novelty to see chicks kickin big ass... there are way more gurrls in the scene now than back in the 80s.

MM-What were you doing in the 1990’s?
RP-I was jamming with other musicians keeping my chops up. I reunited with Madam X and recorded a couple of songs that we'll probably release someday. Toured a bit with Hell's Belles, went to Canada and toured with Chrissie Steele, hooked up with guitarist Gina Stile and Janet Gardner and recorded Tangerine. I've never stopped rockin.

MM-Do you approach playing the drums any differently than you did say twenty years ago?
RP-I'm more of a pocket player now. I'm obsessed with feel.

MM-Is there anything that you would have done differently in your music career?
RP-Well, older & wiser now so there are some things I've said and done in my past that makes wonder what the hell I was thinking... but back then I was having the time of my life to give a rat's ass!

MM-*** After this interview I noticed the mention on her Myspace page about trying out for David Lee Roth. So I wrote back and asked when that happened and what it was like.
RP-Yeah, I auditioned for Dave's band around the same time I joined Vixen. The opportunity to jam with Billy Sheehan and Steve Vai was mindblowing. I remember one of the tracks was on the Eat em and Smile CD. I actually saw another drummer's audition, he was great at twirling his sticks around his head and making funny faces. He was certain that he nailed the gig and kept mouthing the words "I got it, I got it" as he was playing....well he didn't get it. DLR's live show with the lineup of Billy, Steve and Greg was unbelievable.

MM-Anything else you want to say about your music or anything else?
RP-I'm diggin the music I'm making with Roktopuss and I plan on recording instrumentals with some top notch players and also recording more heavy kickass tunes with my sister Maxine. It's all about the RAWK my friends...and I dig it!!

Thanks to Roxy for doing this interview.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Big Turkey of 2007

I started giving this award out last year with the idea being to pick a hard rock/metal related album, event or something that was a real turkey. I came up with three candidates for this year. They are Ozzy's Black Rain, Van Halen and Rocklahoma. Even though the Van Halen thing is a quick cash-in and they are well past their prime, it's still only one band while many did this sort of thing at Rocklahoma. So I eliminated Van halen from the running. Ozzy's Black Rain is terrible, but he hasn't done a good album since 1991 so it wasn't shocking. Then I thought of Rocklahoma and considered it. Okay, there were a few younger acts like Gypsy Pistoleros and Dirty Penny playing. Getting Twisted Sister to headline was a good idea because you knew they would deliver. I am sure Poison were decent and Lillian Axe finally got on the bill when Tigertailz had to pull out. However then you had bands like Bullet Boys, White Lion and Bang Tango where it's really just one guy and a backing band. You also got one version of LA Guns, Taime Downe's version for what now is considered Faster Pussycat and Sebastian Bach-less Skid Row. Add to that people like Great White, Jackyl and Vince Neil solo and you get a real hasbeen fest. I don't more was better in this case because it actually just made it sound worse. This event could have been a celebration of hard rock if there had been a better mix of younger and older bands, but it wasn't. Instead it across more as old bands performing old music for somewhat old fans. I am not trying to rain on the parade of people who enjoyed this event, but I can't pretend that it wasn't a joke. So the big turkey award for 2007 goes to Rocklahoma.

***Who would you give a big turkey award to for 2007?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What's coming up?

I just found out that my brother and his family are coming up for Thanksgiving. The last time they were all in Maryland was early 2004 and the last time they were here for Thanksgiving was 1999. So I am looking forward to them coming. Here a few things I hope to have out this week. This past week I had to present at my work staff day and it went well. I am considered a quiet person, but have no trouble talking in front of large groups in fact I enjoy it. Here are my plans for the week.

Sunday-The big turkey award for 2007
Monday-Interview with former Vixen/Madam X drummer Roxy Petrucci
Tuesday-Dirty Penny-Take it sleazy review
Wednesday-Five things in music that I am thankful for. I started doing this last year and decided to do it again this year.

Thursday-Probably no one will be reading because you will too busy eating and watching football, but I'll post a review or something.
Friday-I have no idea, but I'll post a review or a story or something.

****Are there any CDs or music related items that you are wanting for Christmas? If so then what?

Friday, November 16, 2007


I received an e-mail about this band so I went over to their Myspace page to check them out and have a listen. They are from Indianapolis and play a rather basic, but effective style of death metal. It has the traditional pounding and thick layer of guitar noise, but what I liked most were the vocals. Certainly along the lines of standard death metal vocals, but with more variation and that helped to buy into what they were doing. Too many bands in this genre go in for the monotone growl and that's just dull usually, but the vocals here seemed more aggressive and certainly helped keep my attention. This band has a CD coming out soon according to their page. I would love to here the whole thing. For now go ahead and hop over and check thme

Argos Checkmate

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Argos Checkmate

These guys hail from Syracuse, New York and play a style that incorporates metal, hardcore and various sub-genres of both at times. This CD was recorded earlier this year. The first track “Dresden” had me turning up the volume on my player because the vocals were so muffled. After a couple of plays I got a better sense of what they trying accomplish, but it still felt like the vocals were robbed of their power and it hard to make a connection to the song as a whole. Track two “In the warm” has the band showing a different side, a side that was fairly impressive. The music here is massive yet relatively subtle overall. Maybe a little like YOB without the psychedelic overtones. Track three “Hellen Keller” was perhaps even messier than the opening track. I like the drums on it, but the rest was a bit like thrashing around in a basement (in a bad way) while someone holds their hand over the microphone of a tape recorder. Track four “Cerulean Tide” is back to the instruments taking over. Not quite as good as the second track, but still very thick and rich with a good sense of pacing. Basic perhaps, but it showed the potential that this band has. The final track is “Harlan” and we get muffled vocals, but we also get the basic, but vast music as well. I wouldn’t say the two halves work great, but they do work well enough. The track rambles a little, but certainly decent as I had not trouble staying tuned into what they were doing. So I liked three tracks and wasn’t big on two of them. I can’t and won’t try to interpret the band’s musical vision because that’s up to them. Yet my ears tell me that the largely instrumental parts showed real promise and the hardcore vocals didn’t work for me at all. Now I like hardcore vocals, but I want to hear them. Muffling anger, passion or whatever you have to bring just doesn’t work. All in all I would say that they show potential, but need some work as well. Check out their Myspace page below.

EndeverafteR-Kiss or kill

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Razor and Tie

This California based band came to many people’s attention when they opened for Cinderella and Poison back in the summer of 2006. A little odd that they landed a large opening spot without having an album to support, but obviously someone saw something in them. Now we can call hear what it is they have to give. When I first saw song titles like “I wanna be your man”, “Baby, baby , baby” and “Tip of the tongue” I thought “oh,no”. The lyrics leave a bit to be desired, but if a high cheese content doesn’t bother you then you. If the music and the overall presentation is what you are looking for then this entry may be to your liking particularly if you like late 70’s-late 80’s hard rock. Obviously these guys listened to their share of hard rock bands from twenty some years ago. The vocals are clear yet contain enough of an edge to work on most of the tracks. They know the hooks, have decent timing and a good sense of how to write catchy songs that will stick with you after a listen or two. However, it’s not all throw back to high hair and big ballads here because there is a huge dose of power-pop tossed into the mix here as well. It's not that I am opposed to that style of music, but there are several songs where the vocals take the focus and the music kind of falls to the side. Several songs start out with great riffs, but then too often the guitar falls back into the shadows only to emerge here and there throughout the track. There are a few tracks where it just feels like the steam is gone out of them too early. I don't think it's lack of playing ability, but rather a focus on the vocals over the music. My hope would be that they can find a better medium between the vocals and the music the next time. Still it's overall a good rock album that I took a liking to on the first listen.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sebastian Bach-Angel Down

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Sebastian Bach-Angel Down

It’s only a matter of weeks until the end of 2007 and many people are already compiling their list of the top albums of this year. Yet there are still a few releases coming out here and this might be one of the most anticipated hard rock albums of the year. The former Skid Row vocalist recorded most of this album way back in the summer of 2006. It’s also his first album in eight years and of course a man who is no stranger to delays, Axl Rose lends his voice to a few tracks on this release. My first reaction to this album is that there is less of an ongoing theme than I imagined. Largely everything is hard rock to metal, but a number of the songs vary in style. Perhaps that has to do with a not having done an album in a while so many different ideas have built up in Mr. Bach’s head over the years. Perhaps this album has indeed benefited from him taking his time on getting this album out. The vocals are as strong as ever and there are several moments where I am reminded of Skid Row’s “Slave to the grind” album. At times it almost seems like 1991 was not all that long go or at least that seems to hold true for Mr. Bach’s vocals. The music is well produced and primarily it’s fairly sharp and cutting. The majority of the tunes lean towards a style that was more prominent between say 1990-1995, but that’s okay by me. Still the songs move along so well that they sound fresh enough to work. No new ground is being broken here, but I don’t think anyone expected that. Sebastian Bach was one of the stronger hard rock singers to emerge during “hair metal’s” big prime in the late 80’s-early 90’s. He had his own patented screeching style and a strong stage presence plus he never really had a bad album. Judging from his new release he doesn’t seem to have lost a step either and it’s little wonder he gets more attention than his former band. Oh and Axl sounds just like you would expect Axl to sound like. Not a barnstormer perhaps, but a good release that will make fans wish he would release albums a bit more frequently.

Interview with Anthony Vasquez

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Fueled by Fire are from California and they play old style thrash metal. They signed to Metal Blade and released “Spread the fire” back in the summer. They recently parted ways with their singer Gio. I recently interviewed bass player Anthony Vasquez and got to find out about the band’s vocalist situation and much more.

MM-Tell us a little about how this band formed?
AV-When we first started we were a five piece band which included Sal Zepeda- who started the band with Carlos and another vocalist. So now we have Carlos Gutirrrez - Drummer(he started the band) Ricardo Rangel (Rick for short) he is now our lead Vocalist/ Lead Guitar, And Anthony Vasquez - he's our Bassist.

MM-Who are your influences?

MM-How is that you came to be influenced by a style of music that really peaked about twenty years ago?
AV-Damn, we don’t know at first we just played heavy metal and then we started playing faster and it felt better so we are what we are now.

MM-How do you manage to get signed by Metal Blade?
AV-Brian Slagel contacted us from our Myspace. It was weird, but bad ass all together.

MM-What has been the response to your album "Spread the fire" so far?
AV-So far what I have been reading its all great some are a bit off they dont know what they are talking about but for the most part its all great news.

MM-Why did you part ways with your singer "Gio"?
AV-Because he's a bitch! He couldnt handle being in a band. He got all pussy whipped. It couldnt be 3 guys and a pussy, right?

MM-How is the search for a new singer going? What are you looking for in a new singer?
AV-We decided to keep it how it is. Rick took over on vocals and we picked up a new kid "lil chris" Smokes Gio in guitaring so everything is all good now!!! RICK SMOKES GIO TOO IN OUR OPINION! He has good range and his timing is perfect. We were trying out a lot of people and Rick kept telling them how to sing certain part's so we asked him if he would step in for a show we had booked and he did great! So we back tearing it up!!!

MM-I noticed that you have a few shows coming up at the end of the year. Any tour plans beyond that or does everything kind of hinge on your vocalist situation at this point?
AV-No not at all we are ready to go! Nothing can stop us! Especially a little bitch right haha. We already got good feedback from our first show with this line up and I’m sure no one will be disappointed. Hope to see you guy's soon.

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MM-Have you written any new material?
AV-Yes, we have we got like 5 down and more to come!

MM-Since you are playing a style that was popular so long ago, what are you doing that sets your band apart from previous and current thrash bands?
AV-Well we are very influenced by heavy metal and thrash so we combined what sounds bad ass. it all just has our f-b-f twist.

MM-Is playing this style of music too limiting since so much has been done in thrash metal?
AV- It is but then there isn't we see no limitations in anything.

MM-What current bands are you into?

MM- Pick the one of the following bands that you prefer.
Slayer or Venom- DAMN...?
Exodus or Testament- Fuck... I would say EXODUS!!!
Dark Angel or Death Angel- DARK ANGEL
Kreator or Sodom- SODOM

MM-Where do you hope to be in three years?

MM-Anything else that you want to sat about your band or your music?

Thanks to Anthony for doing the interview.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Schedule change

I am going to be posting my interview with Anthony Vasquez of Fueled by Fire on Thursday. Don't miss it!!!!

Interview with Juan Garcia.

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Juan Garcia is the guitarist for LA based Agent Steel. Agent Steel did a few albums on Combat records back in the mid-late 1980’s before breaking up. The band reformed in the late 1990’s and started recording shortly after that. Their new album “Alienigma” is their third album since reforming.

MM-It’s been four years since your last album. What’s been going on with you and with the band during that time?
JUAN: Well, let see since ORDER OF THE ILLUMINATI was released in 2003; we’ve done an European tour, we performed at the Dynamo Open Air with SLAYER in The Netherlands. We released a DVD in Europe entitled “Live @ Dynamo Open Air”. We signed a new record deal with Mascot Records and wrote a new album ALIENIGMA which was just released and we just finished touring Europe last month.

MM-What has been the response to your new album “Alienigma” so far?
JUAN: For the most part, very positive. You have to understand on this new album we pushed ourselves in a heavier direction; we did not play it safe and we did not write in the same style as the last album. The new record is by far our heaviest work to date. I am not saying this is our new direction or anything. We just wanted to make an album for ourselves, and not the critics. It was fun working with Bill Metoyer and we are proud of our new album.

MM-What are some of the songs off the new album about?
JUAN: The majority of the theme of the new ALIENIGMA album is based around Zecharia Sitchin’s work of the Earth Chronicles series of books that deal with Ancient Gods, The Creation, Pyramids, and Sumerian texts that talk about a 12th Planet with an elliptical orbit around our Universe, really interesting stuff. We also have songs about world pandemic devastation, and a little bit of politics as well with the track “Hail to the Chief”.

MM-How did your European tour last month go? About how many people were you getting per show?
JUAN: It varied a bit, on the average 200 plus people a night. Some show the attendances were more. The show in Slovenia was incredible and it was sold out, Athens was a madhouse; we need to return there because our set time was a bit limited and we feel we owe Athens another Agent Steel performance, but this was not our fault, there was some politics involved from other people involved on the tour. We also had a couple other sold out shows. The show with DESTRUCTION was great, and we also performed with CANDLEMASS (those guys are fuckin great), the support on the tour came from a Belgium band called AFTER ALL which are great guys and a very solid band.

MM-Do you have your North American tour plans set up yet?
JUAN: Not at the moment; we are working on a Los Angeles Date for December, and also a festival in Puerto Rico with CANDLEMASS for 2008. We are also confirmed for Bang Your Head Festival in Germany with SAXON for June 2008. We are working on a proper U.S. tour so we will see what develops.

MM-How does this version of the band compare with the version from the 1980’s?
JUAN: Good question. I personally feel that musically we are the tightest we’ve ever been. I don’t have to look at anybody on stage; everyone has the songs down tight, and this is a great thing. We are machine like on stage, it’s an awesome feeling to go out every night and give it 100 percent knowing that everyone is on the same page. We are here to deliver the metal goods!!!

MM-There has always been a theme of the supernatural and mainly aliens in your lyrics and on your album covers. Why is that?
JUAN: Because we are freaks! I’m kidding of course. We like to be original and AGENT STEEL always has had identity; we are like the X-files of Heavy Metal Music; at least lyrically and overall themes and concepts. We feel we need to carry the torch of the supernatural alien theme; I suppose we were abducted by aliens and reprogrammed and they want us to talk about it in our music.

MM-Why did the band originally break up back around 87-88?
JUAN: Long story short; because personal differences and part of the problem was bad management decisions. I mean we were so close to signing with a major record company for a lot of money and then the band broke up, but life goes on.

MM-Why was it about a decade until the band reformed?
JUAN: I went on and recorded a few albums with EVILDEAD for SPV Records, I wanted no part of AGENT STEEL after the harsh brake up, but time does sometimes heal, and when Bernie contacted me and Chuck Profus to reform the band and perfom at Wacken Open Air; we were open to the idea and the rest is history; we’ve recorded 3 studios albums since then.

MM-It seems like the metal scene has heated up this decade. Do you agree and what do you think about the near future metal holds for your band and for your peers?
JUAN: hard to say, we do this for the love of Heavy Metal Music, we are not trying to get rich of it that’s for sure. It’s great to see a new generation of metalheads discovering 80’s thrash music again, for me it’s an awesome feeling, because I remember when I first discovered bands like IRON MAIDEN and SAXON when they were underground bands just making it.

MM-Do you wish that you had done anything differently in your music career?
JUAN: You can’t turn the clock back and go back in time so I really don’t think about things like that, we must push forward and proceed with our lives.

MM-If someone had never heard Agent Steel and could only afford to buy one of your CDs then which one would you recommend to them?
JUAN: Another good question, well since we don’t have a best of album, that is a tough question because I like all our albums equally, I would of course suggest the new album ALIENIGMA, but any of the five will be just as good.

MM-What younger metal bands are you impressed by?

MM-What impact do you think Agent Steel have had on the metal scene? Do you hear of today’s bands and think that they were influenced by your music?
JUAN: For sure I hear it a bit in some bands, bands come up to us all the time and say they are influenced by AGENT STEEL, it’s a honor of course.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music?
JUAN: Just want to thank you for your interest in AGENT STEEL and your support for Heavy Metal Music. For updates on the band visit us at and

Thanks to Juan for doing the interview.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Heavy Metal Jukebox

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It's the Heavy Metal Jukebox once again. I list three songs and you choose the one that you prefer. I tried to come up with some clever theme, but that didn't happen. So instead you just get three bands making their debuts on the jukebox.

Jimi Hendrix-All along the watchtower
Grim Reaper-See you in hell
Poison-Cry tough

***Which song do you like the most?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Steve Grimmett Band-Personal Crisis

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Metal Heaven

When a singer gets older there are three directions that his or her voice can go. Those directions are that the voice stays about the same, it gets better or it gets worse. In hard rock and metal it seems like the voice either gets worse or stays the same. Many who stay around the same in quality still lose a little range just because it’s a natural part of aging. When Steve Grimmett was in Grim Reaper he had a tendency to sing a little over the top at times. Yet here we are twenty years after the last Grim Reaper album and Mr. Grimmett has never sounded better. He seems more in control than ever and every song on this album compliments his voice or vice versa. He does have a slight raspy sound to his voice that actually just adds to his approach. The music is 80’s style metal for the most part and primarily mid-tempo songs. I found the music to be sharp and very much in your face. Largely it’s even heavier than I was figuring it would be which was a pleasant surprise. There have not been a huge amount of really good pure classic style metal albums this year, but this one can be added to that short list. Grim Reaper fans might be pleased to know that Steve’s new band does a ripping cover of “Wrath of the ripper” on this album. I was hoping that this album would be good, but it’s actually even a little better than I had hoped it would be. The only real problem is that the band currently does not have an American distributor, which means you would have to buy it as an import. Still it’s very much worth tracking down.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What's coming up?

It's been an alright week around here. It's always a little bit of a downer once Halloween is over. Here is what I hope to have out this week.

Interview with Juan Garcia of Agent Steel
Heavy Metal Jukebox

-plus reviews of the following
EndeverafteR-Kiss or kill
Steve Grimmett Band-Personal Crisis
Sebastian Bach-Angel Down

and maybe one other review, interview or something if I can get to it.

***Question for you. I realize there are a few weeks left to the year. However I want you to rate the year 2007 as far as music goes on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being it was a horrible year and 10 meaning it was outstanding. What do you think?

Znowhite-All hail to thee/Kick ‘em when they’re down/Live suicide

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Znowhite-All hail to thee/Kick ‘em when they’re down/Live suicide
Metal Mind

The good people at Metal Mind have outdone themselves this time. We get Znowhite’s second lp plus a studio ep and a live ep all on one disc. That’s 18 songs plus a thick booklet. Znowhite were a Chicago based, female fronted band that played a rather basic, but energetic early style of speed metal. The faster songs remind me a lot of Exciter while the mid-paced tracks sound more like maybe Accept to some extent. The vocals took me a little time to get used to, but by about the fourth track I was enjoying them. Znowhite had a reputation for being rather consistent, but they never became much bigger popularity wise than they were around say 1985-86. Despite the fact that they played for several years past that. I think this might be due to the fact that they played a style that became somewhat obsolete after “Reign in blood” and “Master of puppets” changed the genre forever. Yet this material holds up fairly well to my ears and I found myself listening to it several times the first few days I owned it. They may not have been as aggressive as some of their peers, but they played a rather bare-bones, likeable style of speed metal. They easily managed to create songs that were memorable and didn’t overstay their welcome. This disc is certainly worth checking out.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cyclone-Brutal Destruction

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Metal Mind
2007 (originally released in 1986)

I remember twenty-one years ago waving around my cassette of this release trying to get people to listen to me rant about it’s greatness. Well, now I can rant about it in print and Metal Mind has released it on CD for the first time. Cyclone were a thrash band from Belgium and this was their 1986 debut. It contains only eight songs and just goes over the half an hour mark yet the songs were killer back then and they still are. It’s very tight styled thrash leaning slightly towards Exodus’ Bonded by blood and Metallica’s Kill ‘em all, but perhaps even more aggressive. The band demonstrates an uncanny knack for changing the pace at any given time and making it work. The guitar solos are just chaotic at times as they are just peeling off notes right and left, but it’s the absolute perfect style for this form of music. The vocals are strong and deep, but not exactly comparable to anyone I can think of. The album actually picks up steam as the earlier songs are good, but the album works it’s way on to great songs that make up the second half of the album. However, I have known all of that for many years. Yet this version did allow me to hear just how heavy it is now that it’s finally on CD. I was playing it in my car and really feel the drums pounding all around me as they pushed the songs along. Unfortunately Cyclone didn’t get much notice when this came out. They also waited several years to release a follow-up. Still I am thrilled that this is finally out on CD and in my hot little hand. Easily the best re-release of the year as the sound is fantastic and it includes a booklet with notes about the band’s history.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Stryper jacket?

I had to go a local middle school to talk about books and stuff for my work yesterday. In one of the eigth grade classes was a boy wearing a denim jacket. His denim jacket had a Stryper-To hell with the devil backpatch on the back, two stryper logo patches on the sleeves and a Stryper patch on the front. It looked like there were Stryper songtitles all over the rest of the jacket written with black marker. It just seemed odd to me that someone that is 13 would be a huge Stryper fan. Perhaps he had a parent who was a fan and it was a handmedown. Of all the 1980's bands for a kid to like, Stryper just wouldn't seem like they should be at the top of anyone's list.

Quick Change-Circus of death

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Metal Mind
2007 (originally released in 1988)

This album was originally released by Roadrunner back in 1988, but Metal Mind have now put it on CD. Quick Change hailed from Illinois and despite being on Roadrunner they were kind of lost in the outpouring of thrash bands that occurred in the late 1980’s. It was time when every label was trying to sign bands in hopes of landing the next Metallica or Slayer. The music here sounds like a combination of Anthrax, Testament and maybe even M.O.D. in some spots. It’s not entirely original, but they manage to sound fairly heavy and the pace moves along rather well. They also keep it brief as most of the tracks don’t go over the three and a half minute mark. That works very well for this style of music. However, the vocals just are not up to the same level as the music. Dwayne Whitehead’s vocals are rather thin and just lack aggression and he doesn’t have much of a range. Part of that may be the production, but most of it is definitely that he was lacking something. It takes away from the kind of power I think this band could have had if the vocals would have complimented the music. Still the band certainly does enough to make the fourteen tracks fairly interesting. This version includes a booklet complete with lyrics, a band history and reprints of some old fliers. It’s easy to see why these guys never made it as big as say Testament, Overkill, Exodus and the like, but it’s certainly a good addition for anyone that likes old style 1980’s thrash.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Interview with Joey Vera

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Bass player Joey Vera is perhaps best known for his work with Armored Saint, but he has also played with Fates Warning, Anthrax and Nevermore. I recently got to check in with him and see what he is up to curently.

MM-What are you currently working on?
JV-Just finished up a new record for DC4 (Jeff Duncan – gtr Armored Saint). I Produced, Engineered and Mixed. Also, my new solo record A Chinese Firedrill is being released on ProgRock Records through Ryko so as a bonus, I’m doing experimental remixes for 3 tunes. This should be out and available on November 6.

MM-You have been doing mixing and production work in recent years. How has this been and do find it to be as rewarding as say playing on an album?
JV-I’ve been into it off and on since about 1988 but I didn’t really start learning about engineering until about the mid 1990’s. I have always liked the process of making music. It’s not only interesting to me but gratifying to see projects come to fruition. The challenges and rewards are very different and I like both.

MM-Over the summer you played bass at shows with Armored Saint, Fates Warning and Nevermore. Is it difficult to just pick up play with different bands like that or is it just a matter of course for you at this point?
JV-Well, as long as I have a little time to do my homework I can pull it off no problem. It really does take some focus though, especially when you’re asked to play an hour set and do it without a single rehearsal, which was the case with Nevermore. Having been a player for so long and been in so many different situations helps when it comes time to do this.

MM-Why do you think Armored Saint never became more popular than they were back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s?
JV-There are so many reasons and not a single answer to that. We got caught in between genres of Metal for one thing. Thrash on one side and Glam on the other. This created confusion within our camp which led to poor decisions. In the end some of us wanted different things from the band than others and we had many disagreements. Musically, we didn’t really begin to become realized until Symbol of Salvation in my opinion, But by that time we were 10 years into it and pretty tired of trying to make it work. As history has been told, the Grunge era killed Metal off for a while in America but we may have had a chance to continue in Europe. But we couldn’t make it work.

MM-What is your favorite Armored Saint album and why?
JV-Symbol and Revelation. I know that’s two but hey. Symbol because as I said we finally got to a place where we found some of our own voice and the record was the closest representation of what we sounded like live. There’s a lot of sweat and tears in that record and I think it shows. Revelation because it represents even more what we sound like live. Tons of attitude in the recording.

MM-How is the music business different for you now than say twenty years ago?
JV-20 years ago, I was only in one band and barely getting by. Now, I have to be involved in many different aspects of the business in order to “get by”. Could be just me but I think that in order to be able to be a working musician, you have to learn how to wear several hats. Diversify. Make yourself an asset to someone. Trust me, it’s feast or famine. But I’m still doing it after 25 years. The business itself has become much more of a disposable entity than before and because of the information age, has made for some music fans with really short attention spans. No one has any time to develop artists or let artists develop. There are a few exceptions but mostly the business is concerned with what flavor the kids like this week.

MM-You have written and played with numerous bands as well as produced and played live with different acts. What have you not done in your music career that you would still like to accomplish?
JV-I’ve done some writing and recording music for a few independent films and would like to do some more of that. Music for film.

MM-Metal was big in the 1980’s when you were starting in the music business. Then we all know that metal dropped off in popularity in the 1990’s. This decade has seen a rise in popularity and various sub-genres of metal getting more exposure. What do you see the metal scene being like in say 10-15 years from now?
JV-I’d be really surprised if we will talk about any bands that are current and that will have careers such as Metallica, Slayer, Tool.

MM-Pick the band you prefer from the following pairs of bands.
Alice Cooper or KISS
KISS (pre 1980) on Monday, Cooper (pre 1980) on Tuesday
Dio or Ozzy
Dio on Wednesday, Ozzie (1st 2 records) on Thursday
Metallica or Slayer
Metallica on Friday, Slayer on Saturday
Megadeth or Pantera
Both on Sunday

MM-Any regrets in your music career?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Interview with Jim Ortiz of Amplified Heat

I recently interviewed Jim Ortiz who is the guitarist and lead singer from Amplified Heat. Amplified Heat hail from Austin, Texas and their new album "How do you like the sound of that" is now out on Arclight records.

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MM-Who are your influences? Do you give your music a label or not?
JO-The only label that can be used is rock n roll. are influences are Beatles,stones,Hendrix,Cream,The Who,Sabbath,Zep,MC5,Motor Head,ZZ Top the list goes on and on. basically music from way back. nothing new, we hate modern music!!

MM-Your new album “How do you like the sound of that” is due out on October 2nd. How does the new album compare with your previous material?
JO-Our new record is more laid back compared to the fast paced frantic songs we put out on our last two releases. still heavy, still loud,always blues based!More groove as opposed to just showin people that we can play. now we are showing people we can write songs!

MM-You and Chris were in a band called Blues Condition in the 1990’s. How was that band different from Amplified Heat?
JO-Blues Condition was just a blues band. we played straight up 12 bar blues,shuffles,rumbas,and boogie! the difference between us and the blues bands of the day is that we played fast, heavy and loud! loud as fuck! Blues Condition was louder than most metal bands out there, same thing with The Heat.

MM-From what I have read and heard, it sounds like the band has been growing musically over the years. Are you still continuing to grow as writers and as players?
JO-Yes! its a natural process! you always grow, move foward.

MM-At times your music sounds very much like it is straight form the late 60’s or early 70’s. Is that intentional or do you think it just turns out that way due to your influences?
JO-I think its a combination of the two. we love all that old shit and we also exclusively use vintage gear. Thats the only way to get that sound! Its the sound that defines our music. bare bones, simple set up.

MM-Where do you see yourselves in five years?
JO-Touring the world!

MM-What is it like writing and playing with your brothers? Do you have a set time for say talking about family and a set time as band mates or do the two just overlap?
JO-Honestly, its a giant cluster fuck! but I would trade it for nothin!!!

MM-Anything else you want people to know about Amplified Heat?
JO-Just that we are a rock band! and if you like rock n roll and if you like it nice and loud, then The Heat just may be your bag!

Thanks to Jim for doing the interview. I think their new album will likely make my list of top 15 albums of 2007 so check them out.

Shadowside-Theatre of shadows

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Shadowside-Theatre of shadows

Brazilian band Shadowside have been around for six years and have been working very hard to get noticed. Their album “Theare of shadows” is due for a worldwide release this month and they currently playing a few tour dates here in the states. I was a little worried when I first stuck in this CD because I was greeted by blast of keyboards and I was immediately fearing the worst. However, my fears were soon alleviated as the keyboards gave way to some solid metal. The first comparison that comes to mind musically is early Helloween. Perhaps mainly on the side of the first Keeper of seven keys album, but with some touches of the “Walls of Jericho” album as well. I also thought there was some Judas Priest in there as well, but on second thought they sound a little more like bands that were influenced by classic Priest such as Damien and Malice. Vocalist Dani Nolden surprisingly sounds a little like Rob Halford at times, but of course she doesn’t quite have that range. Although she does have a slightly rough tone to her voice that actually helps gives it a raw feel. What I like about this album is that they stuck more to an earlier style of power metal as opposed to the newer style of power metal. This means there is a little more focus on the heaviness factor. It also seems like they charge straight ahead for the majority of the time and have a greater concern for power than for finesse. However, I never got a real sense that they defined their own sound as much as they just honored their influences. That doesn’t take away from it being a good album, but it does take away from it being an original one. There were also times where the vocals and music were not quite on the same track with one being off from the other. I think that might actually be a slight writing problem, but that can be mended in time. I have heard several bands like this in recent years and I did find this one of the better releases because of the lively approach they have taken to their music. They aren’t going to set the metal world on fire, but it will get some plays from my stereo in the upcoming months.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Top ten albums of 1987

When I first started this blog two and a half years ago, one of the projects I wanted to do was to re-evaluate my top ten album lists. So in December of 2005 I re-thought my top ten hard rock/metal albums of 1985 and posted it in December. So for the third year in a row, I will re-do my top ten and this time it's 1987 because that was twenty years ago. Back in August I chose twenty albums that I thought had a chance of making my list. Between August and October I gave each one a listen and narrowed it down to ten. This month I am putting the top ten in order. Then starting December 1st I will reveal the album I have at number ten and then I post one each day and countdown until revealing my number one album of 1987 on December 10th. I also give hints each day about the next album in case anyone wants to guess at wants coming up. Then on the 11th I will have the "Golden Turd of 1987" award plus the "Most improved band" award. On the 12th will be the "Five worst album covers of 1987" followed on the 13th by the "Five best album covers of 1987". So all this will be coming up in just a few weeks and I hope that you will enjoy it.

Fates Warning-No exit (Metal Blade 25th anniversary edition)

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Metal Blade
2007 re-issue/originally released in 1988

Fates Warning's fourth release gets the 25th anniversary treatment which means that Metal Blade have re-released it with bonus tracks and a DVD as well. So I am going to cover the original album first and then get to the extras. I think that the previous album "Awaken the garden" marked a change in direction for this band as they headed away from classic metal and became a little more progressive and melodic in their approach. "No exit" sees the band continuing in that general direction, but this album is a bit more focused than "Guardian". Perhaps the more important change for the band was the vocalist as John Arch was gone and Ray Alder came in. I like both singers to be honest, but I think that there is little doubt that Alder's vocals better lend themselves to the musical style here. The music is definitely metal, but the band is beginning to reach out a bit and take their time with really building a song. This band along with Queensryche and Dream Theater are often recognized as some of the creators of progressive metal. That's true, but progressive metal twenty years ago wasn't quite as involved as many bands in that genre are today. I have always thought this one of the band's stronger outings as they push the limits a bit, but manage to stay in control. Some of the bands later efforts always came across as a bit dry, but "No exit" is genuinely a solid if unspectacular effort. We get three bonus tracks on the CD and all are demos related to this chapter in the band's history. The DVD is around 45 minutes and contains music videos, live footage and making of this album. Overall it's a nice addition that gives fans a better insight into what went into the planning stages of this album. So this a good album and a fine collection of extras from Metal Blade.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Clash of the album covers

Just pick the cover you prefer.

It's Alice Cooper's Killer
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KISS-Dressed to kill
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***Which cover do you like more?

Sunday, November 04, 2007


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Some times the key to growing beyond an established form of music is to add or blend in elements from other musical forms. Sounds promising in print, but everything relies on the band having both the playing and writing ability to make something like this really work. Chicago's Yakuza attempt to blend jazz and world beat music in with a death metal and grindcore sound. The idea sounds interesting and even feasible because other types of music have been fused with these forms of heavy music. I actually think the jazz parts sound decent enough, but somehow I was expecting and hoping for a blending of this style with the heavy parts. Largely the styles were played seperate more than they were fused together and I was hoping for the latter. The second part that troubles me is that for the band's heavier parts are a bit unremarkable. Okay, drummer James Staffel is certainly above average for this style of music as he pounds and tears his way through. Yet the majority of the heavy songs are just rather okay in their approach and energy level. I gave the album several listens hoping it would click, but it just never happened. The results were always the same and I felt like the idea behind this album was never fully embraced or at least not like I had hoped it would be. I think the musical ability can be there and that this idea may be worth pursuing, but that means the writing needs to be stonger to make this work. The parts seemed to seperate and didn't compliment each other and I think more of a blending of styles could have worked and would have at least made it more interesting. That's what it needed because the end results here were far more more bland than I was expecting.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What's coming up?

I can't believe that it is November already. I hope to have these topics out this week.

Joey Vera of Armored Saint
Jim Ortiz of Amplified Heat

Shadowside-Theatre of shadows
Pulling Teeth-Vicious skin
Fates Warning-No exit (re-issue)

Clash of the album covers

***The year 2008 isnt far off now. Is there any album set for release in 2008 that you are really looking forward to?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Interview with Andy McCoy

Andy McCoy is the guitarist for legendary glam rock band Hanoi Rocks. The band's origins date back to the late 1970's. They released several albums between 1981 and 1984 before breaking up in the mid 1980's. The band reformed a few years ago and have a new album out called "Street Poetry". I recently interviewed Andy to find out more about the new album.

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MM-Did you approach writing and recording “Street Poetry” differently from previous albums?AM: Yeah. We actually sat down as a band and arranged everything.

MM-The lyrics on the new album seem a little more serious at times than on your other albums. Do you think that is true and if so then why?
AM: Yes this is true. The whole world is more serious these days so it reflects in (my) our writing.

MM-How do you keep yourself motivated at this point in your career?
AM: God has given me a gift to write, so I see it as my responsibility to give people a chance to listen to the work. I also paint a lot. You can check out my website and see some of it, and the pure joy of playing to a live audience is irreplaceable and more than enough to keep one motivated.

MM-It seems that glam and hard rock have started to become more popular so far this decade. Do you think glam and hard rock are making a comeback and if so then what role do you see Hanoi Rocks playing at this point?
AM: Glam? I dunno,however hard real Rock ‘n Roll is very in rooted. It would be hard to imagine a world without it. Yeah a big comeback.

MM-What kind of influence do you think Hanoi Rocks have had on other bands over the years?AM: Well more than I could ever imagine. Just look around, it´s rather obvious there are a million clones of Michael and I.( Andy gives a modest smile)

MM-How do you think the Hanoi Rocks of this decade is different from the version in 1980’s?AM: The level of experience is on a totally different plateau, so the playing and writing is more mature.

MM-Any plans to tour the Unites States any time soon?
AM: We would love that. We are just waiting for the right band to tour with, and timing is important! We will be there at some point!

MM-Do you have any goals in your music career that you have yet to achieve?
AM: Yes, To write the perfect song. Something I consider I haven´t done yet.

MM-Anything else you would like to say about the band or the new album?
AM: The bands perfect! The new record Street Poetry is an achievement is something I AM VERY Proud of! New, yet classic Hanoi Rocks. Thank you and all the love to my (our) fans. Bepatient, will be there (USA) and bring this R 'N ROLL circus to a city close to you!

Thanks to Andy for doing the interview. If you have yet to hear “Street Poetry” then I suggest you check it out because it is a killer.