Black Label Society
It's no secret that I'm a very big fan of Zakk Wylde. I've gotten to know him over the years, and more to the point, I've truly apprecated the music the guy creates. For many, they just love hearing him play guitar. I can see that. For me though, my go to moments are not the heavier albums like STONGER THAN DEATH or ORDER OF THE BLACK, but the stuff that strays from the heavy where Zakk just lets loose as a classic rocker. My favorite thing Wylde has done is his solo release BOOK OF SHADOWS, followed closely by BLS efforts HANGOVER MUSIC VOL. VI and THE SONG REMAINS NOT THE SAME. "Darkest Days" from THE SONG REMAINS NOT THE SAME is, by far, my favorite song he's ever done, based solely on the raw emotion he puts forth singing it acoustically. Wylde has returned with a very interesting live show called UNBLACKENED; a sort of acoustic show where he and Black Label Society rework a lot of songs from his entire career for a one night only performance. It's pretty good stuff.
JAMMIN' WITH FRIENDS
Have you ever watched some really b-level porn? Nevermind...y'all have and won't admit to it. When watching that porn, have you ever seen some of that more brutal "throat rape", where a dude literally chokes a woman to the point of passing out with an aggressive thrusting designed to blow out the back of her skull JFK style? Did you ever wonder what the chick was thinking at that exact moment? You have to image she was thinking, "man, this seemed like it would be a great idea before we started, but now I'm realizing just how awful this is and how detrimental this could be to the rest of my life." Listening to Bret Michaels' JAMMIN' WITH FRIENDS is pretty much the same. While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, the result is just another horrific example of the fact that Michaels is barely a musician anymore; more interested in a name-dropping fest than actually putting any sort of effort into providing a quality product to the sheep that still buy his garbage.
SHOW NO MERCY
If BACK TO THE FUTURE was a real concept that could actually happen, it's my belief that Mad Margritt would be a name that every single one of you that owns Skid Row, Slaughter and Dokken records would hold in the highest esteem. You would see them still touring around playing package shows together with other bands that had their run "back in the day", and you would hear interviews with Eddie Smith about his upcoming book that details all the debauchery of being a superstar back in the heyday. Unfortunately though, BACK TO THE FUTURE is fake, which leaves Smith and company recording music they love and that, while solid, is hard to get people to listen to because their door on new music slammed shut the day Kurt Cobain reached #1 on Billboard. It's too bad that so many in that 40-50 age range are like that too, because they are missing out on a ton of music that falls right in their wheelhouse. SHOW NO MERCY is one of those they are missing.
So many 80s hair metal bands have come back unnecessarily. I mean, let's face it...some of them just didn't make enough of an impact back in the day to warrant a reunion now. I think for most of them, there's a record company offering a check to these guys that are now plumbers and carpenters, and they see it as a quick opportunity to finish a bunch of tunes that were left laying around when their short run back in 1989 crapped out. For most of them, the reunion records have been far less than good, for the simple fact that the magic of the moment has long since gone away. For a few of those bands though, there was still significant fire left in the tank. I'd say that King Kobra is one of those bands. While never bigger than a 2nd tier hair metal band back in the day, they created solid music then. With their reunion album, and now with II, they are not only rock solid creatively, but might just be better than they were back in their day.
I've really given this album a lot of time and listens to sink in before writing anything about it. I did so because I wanted to be fair about it, and not judge it with the anger I, as a fan, have at the band for passing this off as a "reunion" without Bill Ward playing drums. I've read all the arguments online for this. I've had a hundred friends all tell me that they played this album UNTIL they liked it, and had it "grow on them." I've tried that myself, to be honest. A lot of people are all claiming that "as long as it has Iommi's riffs, then they will like it." That is obviously a lie, unless you are like me and love albums like HEADLESS CROSS, FORBIDDEN and TYR. In the end, 13 is a release that needs to be judged like all releases do - on it's own merits and what you hear when listening to it. To me, it's a fairly average offering.