Some albums are just meant to be kept for personal use. I can always appreciate when a band wants to branch out and try something different. Sometimes, it’s a cool little gem for fans. As an example, I very much like Aerosmith’s HONKIN’ ON BOBO release where they stretched themselves by doing an album of Blues sub-standards. The obvious marker for a successful stretch outward would be Tesla’s FIVE MAN ACOUSTICAL JAM. The difference between those bands and a band like Ektomorf is pretty clear though. Those bands had an established audience. Maybe they do somewhere else, but Ektomorf doesn’t mean a whole lot to metal audiences here in the States. I like them a lot, personally, but I’m one person. In fact, the sad truth is that if you played a single song frrom Ektomorf’s back catalog for most fans, they would think it’s Soulfly.
LIVE AT THE US FESTIVAL 1983
The death of Kevin Dubrow a few years ago really put an explanation point on the hair band era. There’s really no doubt at all that Quiet Riot’s METAL HEALTH was the starting point to a decade of glitz rock and metal like none that’s been seen before or since. Dubrow’s death kind of put the final dagger in that genre once and for all, given that he was the face of this style’s initial rise to prominence. To many, the US Festival was the official launching point for this style of music, with both Motley Crue and Quiet Riot becoming huge largely due to their performances here.
Mike Portnoy sure did torch his career in short order, didn’t he? In the span of a year, he went from one of the most loved and respected musicians in the world to a punching bag amongst metal fans. The whole drama with quitting Dream Theater, joining Avenged Sevenfold, being thrown out of Avenged Sevenfold, then being blocked from rejoining Dream Theater was somewhat amusing to watch in a sad sort of way. In the wake of all this, Portnoy was left without a band and had to create a new one. Adrenaline Mob is that band.
THE FATAL FEAST
There are some bands that put out releases and you really, really know exactly what you can expect before ever playing a single note of one of their songs. Municipal Waste are one of those bands. Like all of their previous work, their Slayer meets early Anthrax approach to thrash hits you in the face with short blasts of aggression that leave you worn out after a full listen. Their lyrical outpouring pretty much stays the course as well; a litany of songs about horror, gore, and…well, sickness. These guys clearly don’t take themselves overly seriously, as is evidenced by songs like “Covered In Sick – The Barfer”.
It’s kind of odd really how time has worked with Max Cavalera. Back when Soulfly came out, the best quality of the band was that it took Max’s music fully into directions he wanted to explore bout really couldn’t with Sepultura. For many people, they will say quite a different thing, but hear me out. Far too many people criticized Soulfly for NOT sounding like Sepultura’s ARISE or CHAOS A.D., even though that really was never the intention. Somewhat predictably though, the years that have gone by has seen Cavalera progress (or regress depending on your stance) more and more toward the classic Sepultura sound. The last two albums, OMEN and DARK AGES, could easily have been mistaken for Sepultura reunion albums. The same can be said about Cavalera’s project with his brother, Cavalera Conspiracy. The same can now be said about ENSLAVED.
Jeff Scott Soto
Jeff Scott Soto is, by far, my favorite singer out there today. The guy has one of the strongest voices in the world, and his ability to use it in a multitude of ways stretches far past what most singers ever showcase. Let’s face it, you have to have incredible talent to be able to front a band that was defined by a voice (Journey), as well as fronting a metal band of prominence (Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force).
AGE OF REASON
Vocalist Terry Brock can sing his ass off. I mean, seriously, he’s as good as it gets. He’s right there with the greats of Album Oriented Rock music as far as voice goes. Steve Perry, Jeff Scott Soto, Kevin Chalfant – pick a name that is synonymous with that genre, and you will find Terry Brock to be, at worst, of equal caliber to that singer. This just goes to show that no matter how good a singer is, he can’t turn a shitty album good. While Brock may sing as good as he has ever sang before here, ACT OF REASON is one of the most boring, tepid releases of the last year.
Meshuggah is a band that has a category all their own. I’ll call them Aspirincore. There’s only a few bands out there that play Aspirincore; Meshuggah, Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, Candiria, probably a few more. With a term like Aspirincore, you might take that as an immediate negative, and you would be wrong. It’s just that these kinds of bands will give you a headache if you listen to them for too long at any point of any day. Their odd timings and even odder timing changes make them simply hard to follow along with.