Not that Alter Bridge has ever had any problem getting exposure, but there's no doubt that there will be more eyes and ears on FORTRESS than past efforts. Based solely on his extremely successful run with Slash, vocalist Myles Kennedy has all but assured a new segment of fans will be listening this time around. For many, that could be both good and bad. It could be a blessing to have a lot of new ears, but it could also be a curse for people looking for an album full of the bluesy swagger that comes out of Slash's six strings. Not that guitarist Mark Tremonti isn't a great guitarist (in fact, based solely on talent, I'd say he's actually better than Slash), but just not Slash. From his days in Creed to his more aggressive times now with Alter Bridge, Tremonti has always had more of a radio ready flavor which has won him a ton of fans and almost no favor amongst fans of harder edged rock and metal. With FORTRESS, this bridge may finally be crossed. New fans and old alike will agree that Alter Bridge may finally have found that edge that was missing.
Nine Inch Nails
Before getting to some words about the brand new Nine Inch Nails release HESITATION MARKS, let me first share my opinion of Trent Reznor and his career to date. Personally, I think he's an innovator and a genius. His past work, in my eyes, is some of the most creative and aurally challenging material ever recorded. Sure, some of it has been easy to digest. Certainly PRETTY HATE MACHINE and THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL were simple to digest when we were all in our 20s with a lot of angst. Other releases though, like THE FRAGILE, were akin to new age versions of Pink Floyd's THE WALL or Roger Waters' subsequent solo release THE PROS AND CONS OF HITCHHIKING; all releases that really made you concentrate as much on the whole concept as much as the more simple pieces of the story that were divided into songs. People are making a big deal about Reznor coming back right now after a five year hiatus. Most are forgetting that his hiatus came on the back of three consecutive subpar efforts (YEAR ZERO, GHOSTS and THE SLIP). Still, Reznor has returned with a release that's being dubbed as "a return to the sound of THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL".
Let's be honest. To the average person that hasn't been following along carefully, it's been hard to impossible to tell the difference between Drowning Pool and Soil for the last decade. Both have had multiple singers in their camp. Both have had Ryan McCombs as one of those singers. And both have released some fairly unmemorable work in the last 10 years. That said though, I'm the first to admit that I was a BIG fan of Soil with McCombs when they first came out. Their THROTTLE JUNKIES release was stellar, and while they traded down to be trendy on both their SCARS and REDEFINE releases, both were still enjoyable if you are accepting the musical style that dominated active rock radio in the early 2000s. Several releases with vocalist AJ Cavalier served as little more than times when people would hear their name and go, "oh, those guys are still around?" McCombs has returned, and the band has come charging back with WHOLE. While not as raw as their earliest days with THROTTLE JUNKIES or the EL CHUPACABRA EP, WHOLE is closer to the original sound than these guys have been in years.
(Drowning Pool Concert Tickets)
Is there anyone that even knows what the identity of "Drowning Pool" is even supposed to mean these days? Let's face it, the ONLY reason that name means anything is because their debut produced the song "Bodies" and shortly after their singer died. Since then, this "band" has literally been a revolving door of singers so that they never established an actual identity past "Bodies" and the followup "Sinner". Having met these guys many times, they are certainly nice enough guys. Their heart is also in the right place, specifically with the way they go out of their way to support the troops with visits to war zones, supportive songs and whatnot. All of that said though, it doesn't spare them the fact that by changing singers every couple of years, they never established much of a groove or a "signature sound" where you hear it and go, "oh, that's Drowning Pool". Once again, for the fourth time actually, there's a new singer fronting Drowning Pool. This guy's name is Jason Moreno. He's OK, I guess. That said though, RESILIENCE suffers once again from what has plagued this band...zero identity.
VENOMOUS RAT REGENERATOR VENDOR
(Rob Zombie Concert Tickets)
It's been a long time since Rob Zombie did an album that was actually worth listening to. For many, he was done after the first HELLBILLY DELUXE release. To say the least, he's never been that good since. Having been a fan of Zombie up to that point, be it the "Rob" or the "White" variety, his career since then where there was music painted around his movie and directing careers, has been spotty at best. While I still listen to ASTROCREEP about once a month, I can't remember the last time I listened to SINISTER URGE or EDUCATED HORSES. I know it hasn't been recently. Even knowing a new release was coming didn't lead me back to those releases. Zombie has surprised me, and many for that matter, with VENOMOUS RAT REGENERATOR VENDOR. Wtihout question, this is the best release Zombie has done in a LOT of years. While no one will mistake VENDOR as a classic recording by any means, it's the most fun album he's done in a very long time. Rob Zombie is back...at least somewhat.