Tag Archives: metal

Opinion: Does age matter?

There comes a certain point in life where retirement is inevitable.  Most civilians have to wait until their 60’s before they can even think about retiring from work.  Conversely, most major sport athletes are not expected to continue working past their 30’s or 40’s.  If only some well-established musicians decided to retire from music, fans would not have to turn away due to “washed-up” artists.

Of course, there are exceptions as with any other theory ever logically constructed. For instance, Paul McCartney will be 72 years young this June.  While he may be far past his “prime,” he continues to properly perform to his celebrity level standards, not to mention he put out a solid set of new material in the form of New in 2013.  With that said, his type of music does not require much movement to maintain an enjoyable concert atmosphere.  Sir Paul has also perfected his brand of stage presence without exerting too much energy on stage.  Considering his age, that is a key skill to possess.  No fan wants to see their favorite music idol drop dead on stage from a heart attack.

Continuing with that last point, it is only a matter of time before Ozzy Osbourne and the rest of the Sabbath gents permanently retire, willingly or not.  Ozzy aimlessly bounces around on stage, missing vocal notes and keys in almost every line while performing live.  The Prince of Darkness is not what he used to be, considering how much toxicity he has ingested over the years.  As for the others, Tony Iommi is currently fighting cancer. Geezer Butler seems to be healthy, at least in comparison to his band mates.  In terms of age, all three are in their 60’s and not getting any younger.  It is actually surprising how excellent 13 turned out.  That would be a phenomenal departure release once they complete this grueling world tour.

To clarify, I love Black Sabbath, but they are not honoring their legacy if they keep going until fate takes them.

Another example is The Rolling Stones.  Although they have not been in the limelight recently, that Super Bowl performance several years ago should never have happened. Old Mick Jagger prancing around in tights is a disturbing image burned into millions of viewers’ eyes for eternity.

While “washed-up” musicians may be ruining their respective legacies by continuing until they physically cannot, we should respect their wishes, as fans.  They won’t be around forever and if they don’t keep doing what they love, how will they keep busy? What would keep them wanting to live if not their lifelong passion?

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[REVIEW]: Kill Devil Hill – “Revolution Rise”

For a band that includes talent from Pantera, Down, Dio-era Black Sabbath, and Dio, Kill Devil Hill do not seem to receive as much recognition as other related “supergroups.” This is slightly disconcerting as this particular group has efficiently melded together the varying musical styles of the members’ previous endeavors. This is exhibited in Kill Devil Hill’s latest release, Revolution Rise.

While the band’s self-titled debut had some great tracks on it, Revolution Rise blows its predecessor out of the water.  It sounds like a glorious hybrid between Down and Heaven & Hell with a large sense of originality, leading to a deeply textured delivery.  Lead vocalist Dewey Bragg (Pissing Razors) often reverts the listener’s ears to an auditory memory of young Philip Anselmo.  However, Bragg showcases his unique vocal capabilities and wide range in the ballad, “Long Way From Home,” which tastefully breaks up the heavy rockin’ of the majority of Revolution Rise.

Overall, this new release is comprised of good, heavy rhythms, occasional guitar shredding, and catchy choruses. With the speed and precision on the kit, it can be easily forgotten that drummer Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Dio) is not in his 20’s anymore.  The same goes for bassist Rex Brown (Pantera, ex-Down).  With that said, both musical veterans continue the legacies they have constructed over their respective careers in Kill Devil Hill.

Focus tracks on Revolution Rise include “Crown Of Thorns,” “Why,” and “Long Way From Home.”

 

MusicTalker’s rating: 4.5/5


Artist of the Week [6/28/13]: Revocation

Boston death-thrashers Revocation will release their new self-titled album on August 6, 2013.  They will also perform alongside The Dillinger Escape Plan, Animals As Leaders, Periphery, and others, on this year’s Summer Slaughter Tour.

With three full-length albums and one EP under their belts, Revocation seem to keep pretty busy.  The band’s third album, Chaos Of Forms, was released on Relapse Records in late 2011. About a year later, they put out the EP, Teratogenesis, via Scion A/V, initially offered as a free digital download.  Now, not even a year following Teratogenesis, Revocation will be on the market.  After hearing the new album’s first single, “The Hive,” it looks like the band is by no means getting careless or sloppy.  Bands that have been around for decades have a hard time releasing consistent, quality material every five years, never mind once per year, three years in a row.

Revocation seem to do everything right and are consequently receiving the recognition they deserve.  They are signed to an established heavy metal record label and seem to be making them happy with all of these releases and thus, money.  They are even playing on Summer Slaughter, and not just as openers!  They seem to be listed somewhere in the middle of the lineup.

Five Revocation tracks to check out are “Leviathan Awaits,” “Dismantle the Dictator,” “Conjuring the Cataclysm,” “Spurn The Outstretched Hand,” and “The Hive.”  The first two songs come off of 2009’s Existence Is Futile.  While “Dismantle the Dictator” utilizes an excess of technicality, “Leviathan Awaits” is straight-up brutal through and through.  “Conjuring the Cataclysm,” from Chaos of Forms has a phenomenal melodic guitar solo.  “Spurn The Outstretched Hand” is intense and sounds like lead vocalist David Davidson tried something different with his voice on Teratogenesis.  He actually sounds really creepy on this song.  As for “The Hive,” check it out, since it’s the single off Revocation’s forthcoming self-titled album.

For more on Revocation, visit their Facebook page.


It’s Been Three Years: Remembering Ronnie James Dio

A god amongst men, Ronnie James Dio righteously graced the heavy metal world for many years before losing his fight with stomach cancer on May 16, 2010.

Born Ronald James Padavona, Dio was not like many other heavy metal legends.  He legitimately worked from the absolute bottom to the top of the metal brotherhood. Between his early doo-wop group days and earning his well-deserved legendary status, Dio fronted several hard rock groups.  The group that first put him on the map was Elf.  Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple then recruited him as the lead singer for Blackmore’s new project, Rainbow.

With Rainbow, Dio forged his unbeatable and indestructible, heavenly vocals on such classics as “Kill The King,” “Man On The Silver Mountain,” and “Stargazer,” among others.  Rainbow was ultimately his break-through gig, evidenced by Black Sabbath picking him up when Ozzy went solo.

Having appeared on only three Sabbath records, it is especially impressive that there has since been a constant debate of which vocalist was better, Dio or Ozzy.  Of course, both versions of Black Sabbath were as different as white and wheat bread.  Dio-era Sabbath was arguably darker and heavier while Ozzy ultimately participated in creating the original and perhaps “true” Sabbath sound.  Furthermore, Dio had a wider vocal range and continued to sound great up until he passed away.

Now that he had the exposure and experience to do so, Dio subsequently left Black Sabbath to form his solo band, Dio.  Dio’s Holy Diver still stands as one of the greatest heavy metal records ever.  Many newer bands have covered several songs off that album.  For instance, Killswitch Engage have recorded and performed studio and live versions of the title track.  Old school thrashers Destruction covered “Stand Up And Shout” for their 2011 release, Day Of Reckoning.

In 2007, Dio reunited with Black Sabbath under the name, Heaven & Hell, due to legal precautions.  They released the phenomenal The Devil You Know in 2009 and extensively toured until Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  The band was actually planning to record a second album under the new name.  That piece of information is still upsetting.  However, it is more upsetting that Dio had to die at all.  Most metalheads would probably be okay with him living forever, even if that meant he was a vampire.

It is crazy that it has been three years.  Rest in peace, Ronnie.  Keep belting out those harmonies up in the clouds.


Artist of the Week [4/26/13]: Black Water Rising

After first hearing them when MySpace Music was still a thing, it is exciting to learn that New York rockers Black Water Rising are continuing to implement their well-honed, personal brand of hard rock.  Prior to the 2008 independent release of their self-titled debut, I remember wearing out “Brother Go On” on the MySpace music player.  It wasn’t until 2010 when the album was officially released through Metalville/eOne Records.  It was previously only available digitally on iTunes.

Black Water Rising are planning to unleash their sophomore effort in July.  Currently, the new album has yet to bear a title.  The first single, “Show No Mercy,” is available on iTunes and can also be streamed via this Blabbermouth.net article.  “Show No Mercy” picks up right where Black Water Rising left off.  While it doesn’t sound like it could be featured on the band’s first album, it undeniably has Black Water Rising’s signature watermark on it.

As the band’s Facebook page notes, Black Water Rising play “No Frills, Riff Raging, turbo charged, wall of pure kick ass Power Rock.”  It is pleasing to hear and know that this description has not changed.  As sort of an underground super-group, the band is comprised of members from Dust To Dust, Boiler Room, and Stereomud (Blabbermouth.net).

Band founder, mastermind, and lead vocalist, Rob Traynor, definitely has a knack for quality rock n’ roll.  His voice embodies the epitome of the grittiness of hard rock.  With the addition of heavy riffs and groovy hooks, Black Water Rising create a sound refreshing to rock listeners everywhere.

Upon listening to Dust To Dust, Traynor’s previous band, it can be said that Black Water Rising might show more promise.  The former offered a nü metal-oriented sound.  Although it sounded pretty good, nü metal is extinct, with the exception of Korn and Slipknot, and that is probably for the best.  With that said, the music of Black Water Rising is much more aesthetically pleasing and will hopefully explode into a larger listening base very soon.

Fans of bands like Black Label Society, Sevendust, and Down should check out Black Water Rising.  Five focus tracks are “Brother Go On,” “The River,” “Rise,” “Tears from the Sun,” and “Show No Mercy.”

For more information on Black Water Rising, visit their Facebook page and/or their website.


[SONG REVIEW] Black Sabbath – “God Is Dead?”

After starting off relatively slowly, the brand new single from the reunited heavy metal founders, Black Sabbath, becomes a classic-sounding Sabbath tune about six-and-a-half minutes in.  The last two minutes or so of this nearly nine minute long song are the most worthwhile.

It is not surprising that “God Is Dead?” sounds nothing like anything off of Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know.  After all, Dio-era Black Sabbath was an entirely different breed than that of the Ozzy era.  Still, this new Sabbath song is great in its own right.  It may have taken a few listens to fully appreciate, but it is exciting to hear the metal gods back at it.

One important thing to note is that fans should not approach this song with the expectation of hearing old school Black Sabbath.  Keep in mind that it has been 35 years since their last studio album together, 1978’s Never Say Die!  Therefore, the musicians themselves are 35 years older.  With the exception of studio session drummer Brad Wilk, they are all in their 60’s now.  With that said, approach this new song with an open mind and realize that they all sound very aged, especially Ozzy Osbourne.

Another warning is that Rick Rubin produced the new album.  For those unaware, Rubin produced Metallica’s Death Magnetic, which was openly criticized for having awful sound quality.  In terms of this particular collaboration between Rubin and Black Sabbath, “God Is Dead?” mildly shows the producer’s devotion to muddy sound quality.  However, it is nowhere near the muddiness portrayed in Death Magnetic.  The sound quality of the remainder of Sabbath’s reunion album has yet to be heard.

Otherwise, this new Sabbath song is definitely worth a listen.  Its dark, gloomy tone reverts back to the song that started it all: “Black Sabbath.”  The heavy riffs are comparable to “War Pigs.” Once the music speeds up later in the song, a “Paranoid” influence can be heard.  If this one song can portray such nostalgic elements, perhaps 13 will be a great comeback for the almighty Black Sabbath.  While the lyrics may not be the strongest word combinations, they still contain the dark themes for which Geezer Butler is known.

With Geezer’s dark lyrics, Tony Iommi’s heavy riffs, and Ozzy’s shaky yet satisfying vocals, Black Sabbath seems to be back.  Let’s hope Iommi continues to fight his cancer enough to pass away at an adequately old age.  Lastly, the band is set to tour throughout the rest of 2013, beginning with a handful of New Zealand and Australia dates which kick off tomorrow, April 20 in Auckland, New Zealand.  On May 12, they will perform at Ozzfest Japan in Tokyo.  August will see them in North America before they head to Europe in late November.

Black Sabbath’s reunion album, 13, will be released [in North America] via Vertigo/Republic on June 11, 2013.


Artist of the Week [3/29/13]: Psychopathic Daze

Another Chicago band has made it into the MusicTalker books, and rightfully so.  Psychopathic Daze offer a refreshing melodic death metal sound, somewhat reminiscent to the legendary Death as well as early In Flames and Children of Bodom, despite the lack of keyboards for the latter.  Although, the band’s bio does not delve that deeply into the sound of Psychopathic Daze.  It does, however, inform the reader of the band’s impressive résumé. Apparently, Psychopathic Daze have shared the stage with better known bands like As I Lay Dying, In Flames, Lamb of God, Between the Buried and Me, Hatebreed, and Sylosis, among others.

For their song, “End of Days,” Psychopathic Daze released a music video in April of 2012. While it is clearly a low-budget production, it is interesting to watch.  As the screen fades up from black, the viewer sees a herd of zombies from which the band members walk away with ease.  The next scene portrays the cliché portion of a hard rock/heavy metal music video where the band performs the song in an empty room.  In this case, PD are in a caged room while a living human runs away from the zombie herd.  Again, despite the fact that it is obviously low-budget and that it is probably not the most original concept, it works with the band’s image and music.

As for studio releases, Psychopathic Daze’s third effort, titled Ride This Bullet Home, will drop in late April.  After hearing the new EP, it can be said that these guys should be more well-known.  They are playing better metal music than a lot of the bands in the forefront of today’s modern metal scene.

For more information regarding Chicago’s Psychopathic Daze, check them out on Facebook.  Their official website is www.psychopathicdaze.com.  Stay tuned on their media platforms for their forthcoming release.

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If you know of any worthy musicians for MusicTalker’s “Artist of the Week” segment, send an email to themusictalker@gmail.com with band information.


Cover Albums: Personalization Without Imitation

After performing amazing cover versions of songs like Joe Jackson’s “Got the Time” and Trust’s “Antisocial,” one would think thrash legends Anthrax would know a thing or two about doing covers.  That assumption is doubted by the band’s covers EP, Anthems.  While the instrumental portion of the band makes the songs heavier than their original versions, Joey Belladonna seems to weigh down their impact with his vocals.  That is not to say that Belladonna is a bad singer, because he’s not.  He has arguably one of the best voices in thrash metal, if not all of the metal sub-genres.  However, Anthems does not portray his unique vocal style.  Instead, he is found imitating each lead singer featured on the original songs.  For instance, on “Anthem,” originally performed by Rush, Belladonna distorts his voice into a very nasally falsetto to match Geddy Lee’s signature sound.  While that is probably the most obvious one, he does it with all the other songs on Anthems.

Unfortunately, Anthems sounds like something a classic rock tribute band would release, not an established thrash act simply performing some cover songs.  That is not the case with Adrenaline Mob’s Coverta, which was released a week earlier than Anthems, on March 12, 2013.  Coverta has Adrenaline Mob written all over it, despite the entire release being cover songs.

One stand-out track on Coverta is Adrenaline Mob’s version of “Barracuda,” by Heart.  Singer Russell Allen does not attempt to sound like Ann Wilson of Heart, because that would just be plain silly.  No, he hits similar notes in his own vocal range, and it works.  The whole band sounds great and maintains its style.  Another key track is Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song.” Again, Allen does not try to reach Robert Plant’s almost unreachable notes.  Also, the band maintains their heavy, rough-edged sound while still honoring the original version.  As for “Kill the King,” “Stand Up and Shout,” and “The Mob Rules,” Allen can handle a similar vocal range to that of the late Ronnie James Dio.  Therefore, he is able to excel on each of those songs.

Needless to say, Adrenaline Mob personalized their covers while Anthrax sadly went the “imitation” route.


Artist of the Week [3/22/13]: Kvelertak

This coming Tuesday, March 26, 2013, Norwegian metal act Kvelertak will release their sophomore effort, titled Meir.  This band is really interesting.  There is a lot of scream-singing and some clean vocals over catchy, groovy guitar melodies in their music.  One exceptionally interesting aspect of Kvelertak’s music is the use of their own language in the lyrics.  As English is practiced around the globe, that does not seem to happen a lot, even with musicians who are not verbally fluent in the English language.

Meir is currently streaming in its entirety on a few different websites around the web.  During an initial listen, it can be said that the new record picks up where 2011’s Kvelertak left off.  The main elements, such as the Norwegian lyrics, the scream-singing, and the groove, are still there.  This release may even be a bit sludgier and heavier than its predecessor.

Fans of hardcore, stoner/sludge rock/metal, metalcore, and all-around tasty heavy metal will appreciate Kvelertak.  The variety of styles they incorporate into their music allows for accessibility for all types of metalheads.

Five Kvelertak tracks to check out include “Ordsmedar Av Rang,” “Blodtorst,” “Sultans of Satan,” “Offernatt,” and “Bruane Brenn.”  The first four songs listed are off of the band’s self-titled debut release.  “Ordsmedar Av Rang” provides a fantastic guitar solo while “Sultans of Satan” sounds very cult-like with the clean-sung chorus.  “Blodtorst” and “Offernatt” are both very groove-oriented, with the former more focused on speed.  “Bruane Brenn” is the first single from Meir and is very catchy with the groovy guitars, rhythmic guttural chanting, and a gang vocal-centered chorus.

There really is no simple way to describe Kvelertak.  They do not directly correlate to any established band nor do they fall into one specific genre.  They are definitely worth a listen, though.

Meir comes out in North America on Tuesday, March 26th via Roadrunner Records.

 


This Day In Music: The Randy Rhoads Tragedy (March 19, 1982)

On this day 31 years ago, a guitar legend faced a horrible exit from this world. Randy Rhoads, who was only 25 years old at the time, was the lead guitarist for both Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band prior to his untimely death.

As Osbourne discusses in depth in his 2010 memoir, I Am Ozzy, Rhoads was killed in a plane crash while on tour with Osbourne’s band.  Rhoads was apparently the opposite of Osbourne in terms of substance abuse; the worst he did was smoke cigarettes.  Anyway, according to Osbourne, Rhoads and the band’s makeup artist, Rachel Youngblood, were both passengers on a small plane being flown by a pilot who had lost his license six years earlier during a helicopter crash.

Having a nose full of cocaine and recklessly flying with two passengers on board, Andrew C. Aycock crashed the plane into a barn, killing himself, Rhoads, and Youngblood while Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne were asleep in the tour bus nearby.

Rhoads was greatly influenced by classical music, which was shown through his technique.  He is acknowledged as one of the greatest heavy metal guitarists of all time. Also, many Ozzy fans recognize the first two Ozzy Osbourne albums, on which Rhoads was featured, as the best solo efforts from the Prince of Darkness.

While Randy Rhoads is long gone, his honor is respected to this day and will continue as long as heavy metal lives.


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