...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL
As a fan of Mr. Big, I can't honestly say that many people thought that their reunion was much more than a cash grab opportunity for the guys in the band who, while immensely talented, failed to find solo success to match their collaborative efforts. It was never a question of if they could still play. Let's face it, this is a band that features Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert - two of the most gifted rock musicians history has ever seen. It was more of a question of if all that creative energy could find a way to not only co-exist again, but mesh like they did in the old days. The answer was an overwhelming "yes". Their return release WHAT IF...was on par with most of the material from their past. It was a fun, energized effort with some truly great moments. Well, the long and the short of it is that ...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL keeps it going. Some great songs, some really good ones, and zero fillers - this new release is pretty much what you would expect from Mr. Big.
WORLD ON FIRE
Hey Gene Simmons. The corpse of rock n' roll just had a baby. That baby is not an average baby at all. That baby was not stillborn, but came out kicking and screaming with an intensity rarely seen. This baby is destined for greatness. This infant is out to prove you wrong. While your days of spitting fire and shitting out records people care about may be over, assuming that the genre that abandoned you is dead is premature, sir. The legendary Slash, along with the great Myles Kennedy and his band The Conspirators, have delivered not only the best rock album of 2014, but one that's so strong that it might remind you of the impact Slash had once before around 1987. Simply put, WORLD ON FIRE is as good a rock record as has been released since the turn of the century. Rock n' Roll is dead? My ass!!
I had the pleasure of working directly with Davey Suicide as he prepped his debut release a few years ago for release. I got to work with him on some promotional stuff, some publicity stuff, his website and a lot more of that kind of stuff. In that work, I quickly found him to be far more than the typical "scene kid" that he seems to be consistently lumped in with. If anything, Davey is one of the most thought out guys in rock today. He plans everything out, from the material on his discs to his image to his second career as a portrait artist. Further, he has tremendous vision for someone that's not all that accomplished as of yet. I remember a conversation we had at one point. When asked what he hoped to happen with his debut release, he said, "I hope to be in a position to break through with the next release". Mission accomplished. Through some crazy hard touring, member changes and now the release of WORLDWIDE SUICIDE, Davey Suicide seems like the kind of artist that could break through to the next level.
LAST TANGLE IN PARIS
Al Jourgensen of Ministry has been threatening to take his ball and go home for a long time now. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I believe that he'll ever retire. Every time he says he's retiring, he seems to come right back with more music that's stronger, meaner and just better than anything in his past. Being quite honest, I've found his releases of the last 10 years (HOUSES OF THE MOLE, RIO GRANDE BLOOD, THE LAST SUCKER, RELAPSE and FROM BEER TO ETERNITY) to be the better half of his career; far stronger than the bigger selling stuff like PSALM 69 or FILTH PIG. Jourgensen is producing far more solid material than ever before, which makes it hard to understand why he would step aside now. Then again, with the industry pretty much dead, maybe now's as good a time as any. If he is truly done, at least he lives a lot of fans satisfied with some killer live music on LAST TANGLE IN PARIS.
ROCK YOUR FACE OFF
Kix might just be the last of the '80's bands to release new material. By now, it seems like everybody else you could name from the glory days of yesteryear has made a stab at making music in the new millennium. Of course, a lot of them, we wish they hadn't, and just left us to our misty-eyed memories. Others have released music that, while not stacking up against the old favorites, at least doesn't embarrass the band or tarnish the legacy. A bare few have been able to create something that rivals the classics.
HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN
In the world of progressive metal, there are exactly 2 bands which I worship. Those bands are Symphony X and Evergrey. Both bands are immensely talented, feature incredible musicianship, and come full of great lyrical and musical representations that tell amazing stories to the listeners. Following their last release GLORIOUS COLLISION, it really seemed like Evergrey may have hit the end of their run. GLORIOUS COLLISION didn't do especially well for the band, and they seemingly disappeared as soon as it came out. There's been a lot of rumors that they had indeed broken up. Those turned out to be untrue though, and back comes Evergrey with a revamped lineup and HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN; a release that could very well be the very best of their almost two decade long career.
Am I the only one that is tired of not only Ace Frehley, but all members of Kiss past and present? Since they were nominated for the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF CORPORATE, it has been a steady stream of nonsense, bickering, anger, hurt feelings and now emotional trauma. It's over already. Get over it. It's 2014. Kiss is Gene, Paul, Tommy and Eric. It's not Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter, no matter how much you want it to be. Gene Simmons is the owner and ruler of Kiss, and as far as he's concerned, those of you that are still whining for a reunion can jump off the same bridge as those 20 year olds from Seattle that are depressed and threatening to end their lives. That said, Frehley has returned with SPACE INVADER, his first release the the below average ANOMALY from 2009. While not expecting much, SPACE INVADER has done well to surprise me. This is a damn good release, arguably the best Ace has done solo or with his other projects (ie: Frehley's Comet).
LEAVE A SCAR - LIVE IN NORTH CAROLINA
Right up front, Blackberry Smoke is not a metal band. They are a southern-rock band, in the classic, original sense. These days, the term "southern rock" has been applied to everybody from Black Stone Cherry to Nashville Pussy to Crowbar, all sounds that would be alien and extreme in the days of Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet. Atlanta's Blackberry Smoke, on the other hand, would have fit comfortably in that era. In fact, in 2014, their music sound more like hard, modern country music than anything you would hear on rock radio. The band seems to know this, and in the years since their 2003 debut, Bad Luck Ain't No Crime--produced by Jackyl's Jesse Dupree, who more or less discovered them--they seem to have steered their music in that direction. To that end, they've worked with hot Nashville producer Dann Huff (a reinvented rocker himself, formerly the lead singer and guitarist for the band Giant), and sanding away the rough edges of their music and lyrics.
UNITED WORLD REBELLION, CHAPTER 2
Part two of the three part Skid Row series known as UNITED WORLD REBELLION has been unleashed. Dubbed as RISE OF THE DAMNATION ARMY, UWR2 picks up where the first EP left off. There's simple math here. Over the course of these two EPs you have 14 songs. If you put the two together, you've got a really good full length release. That's definitely a testament to Skid Row, who have seemingly found their way back on course following a decade filled with a couple releases even their most hardcore fans (of which I think I'm one) had trouble supporting. Let's face it - REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE was atrocious, and THICKSKIN had a few moments but was far too much of a sellout of their core sound to be appreciated. Thankfully, they have found their direction once again.
As a fan of Downset, I wasn't really surprised when the band split up in 2009. They claimed that "the band has run it's course". As a fan, I believe that. They definitely had a huge influence on a lot of the bigger nu-metal bands of the 2000s. Certainly, anyone that heard releases like DO WE SPEAK A DEAD LANGUAGE knew the band was onto something good. There were a small number of bands that had a minute, but ultimately didn't last though. Downset was clearly one of them. To be honest, as a fan, I think I was OK with them ending the band when they did. Their last release, UNIVERSAL, was completely unmemorable, and most of the bands of the time had developed the sound far past the Biohazard-influenced material they had always showcased.