THE SAVAGE PLAYGROUND
For 80s metalheads, there are two types of people. There are the type that stand firm by the explosion of Nirvana onto the scene as the moment when all future music stopped being good, and there are those that are always looking for new and exciting music that maintains that melodic, fun spirit that the 80s produced. For me, I fall into the latter category. Any band that's trying to recapture that fun, rockin' spirit that the 80s unleashed on the world will always get my ear. There's good and bad for these newer bands. On the bad side, there's always the old bands that prove that they've hung on too long, or new bands that poorly recreate the look and don't have the music to back it. Then there are some really good bands out there that really capture it without becoming a spoof band like Steel Panther. Crashdiet are one of those bands that get it. While many wrote them off with the death of vocalist Dave Lepard, this band has really put it back together. Their latest, THE SAVAGE PLAYGROUND, is about as solid a classic metal sounding release as you will ever hear.
Soundgarden were one of those grunge bands that really just "got" it. Unlike bands like Nirvana who put their desolate life imagery in front of their music, Soundgarden was always musical first, attitude second. Without question, vocalist Chris Cornell portrayed a lot of pain and passion in his soul, but he also was quickly regarded as one of the best vocalists of the era. While they were always pretty good musically, they were a band though that was erratic at best in the live setting. I saw the band at least 12 times, and I'd say they were 50/50 good to bad live. They played masterfully at the greatest concert of my lifetime (Day On The Green '91 with Faith No More, Queensryche and Metallica), and they played absolutely horribly at times (most notable - Lollapalooza tour). Still, even when they went away, their albums BAD MOTERFINGER. SUPERUNKNOWN and DOWN FROM THE UPSIDE have stayed in fairly recent rotation in my iPod.
MUSIC FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION
I think I waited just long enough to review this album. My initial reaction to MUSIC FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION was one of absolute hatred. Once again, as Aerosmith has done for me every single time since PUMP, they claimed their album to be something that it just didn't live up to. This time, it was six months of claims that they were returning to their roots and writing a new ROCKS or TOYS IN THE ATTIC. What they delivered was, once again, a lot closer to GET A GRIP or NINE LIVES. It was certainly disappointing, as Aerosmith is much like Metallica in my book - a band who's music I actually WANT to like, but far too often don't.
KINGS AND THIEVES
It's weird going into a record from someone you actually like but fully expecting it to suck. That is the case with KINGS AND THIEVES, the latest from Queensryche frontman Geoff Tate. Having not been a fan of his last two Queensryche albums as well as remembering how abysmal his last solo album was a decade ago, there was a lot of thought that KINGS AND THIEVES would be a train wreck. Add to that all the drama that's been going on with him being ejected from Queensryche, the legal stuff that has followed, and now his all star band that he's calling Queensryche, and you can imagine that thoughts of anything good coming from this solo album were few and far between.
THE VERY BEAST OF DIO 2
We all recognize the greatness of Dio. There is no denying the fact that he is, arguably, the best metal vocalist in the genre's history. I'm pretty sure that almost any metalhead, be they fans of hair metal or death metal, would ever have a problem hearing a Dio tune cranked up and rockin' their surrounding area. Clearly, he's one of the most missed singers to have passed on.