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.
Is this sad saga of one band splitting into two not just the saddest thing in recent memory when it comes to classic metal? Let's face it, if you followed Queensryche at all in the 80s or even through a lot of the bad times of the last two years, they were almost always a dignified bunch that seemed above the fray of the rest of the riff raff. Now, we have two bands. We have the Geoff Tate version of the band - an act powered largely by some sort of insanity that has overtaken the once dignified Tate and turned him into a babbling maniac who's more than willing to tell you about his black man's stereotypical penis than about his music. He's REALLY challenged people to even care about anything called Queensryche in recent months, and it's just sad to see happen. Then you have "the other guys". They've stayed largely silent about the split after the first few weeks, and aside from a lot of positive posts on their various social media sites, really haven't had much to say regarding the split and the new version of the band featuring vocalist Todd LaTorre. I guess they've decided to let the music do the talking.
RUBBER CITY MELTDOWN
There's something that's just plain cool about a throwback band like the LA Knights. I'm not sure what it is. I'm sure for a lot of people, they will just scoff at them as dated dudes stuck in the 80s that haven't "grown with the times". That's always a convenient cop out excuse to me, especially when you look at how the rock world has grown. If you ask most people to name 5 great bands from the 80s, within seconds you'll get five names thrown back at you (top of my head, Motley Crue, Skid Row, Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Dokken). It will literally take them a second. As the same question for five great bands from 2000-2010. The names don't come back quite so quickly, now do they? The reason is simple. The music was just better, or at a minimum more memorable universally. I'm the first guy that will admit that a LOT of the bands from the 80s were pretty embarrassing, but more times than not, they just weren't. At least musically, they were almost all solid. To do a throwback band now, you not only have to be excellent musically, but you also have to be thick skinned enough to not take the criticism to heart. Meet Akron, Ohio's LA Knights!
(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.
Black Star Riders
ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE
For so many people, it's a constant complaint when bands with one or two original members continue on with a band name instead of forming a brand new project. The topic of "how many original members makes a band a band" has been debated on literally every rock music show that's existed over the last 20 years, and there's never been a definitive answer to any of it. For some people, if there's one original guy then it's OK to use the established name. For others, nothing short of all original members qualifies. For others, it's a question of which original member is there. Across the board, there's a lot of indecision regarding just how many members of a band make that band still exist. A couple of years ago, guitarist Scott Gorham reformed and toured a "new" Thin Lizzy comprised of himself and, pretty much, all new players. Having seen them, I will give them a lot of credit for carrying on not only the sound of Thin Lizzy, but the spirit of the band with full respect paid to the heart and soul of the original band, Phil Lynott. When they decided to record a new studio album, they could easily have chosen the easy, better selling idea to call it Thin Lizzy. Instead, they chose a new band name and chose to leave the integrity of the original band intact. So, first and foremost, bravo to them for that tough move that was PROBABLY not well received by their record company.
THE BELONGING ENDEAVOR
Reviewing these modern day mallcore bands is one of the most difficult things to write today. I hate to sound like my parents, but this style of music just all sounds universally the same. For some, they'll label me as old and outdated, and that's fine. I swear though I could stack up a pile of discs released by Rise Records, Standby Records and Sumarian Records, mix up songs from various releases and put it out, and most would think it was a singular artist putting out a really solid album. It's just that genre I guess. There's somewhat of a lack of creativity in it, and the kids that listen to that kind of stuff really don't seem to mind at all that these bands vary in sound, structure or style from album or album. Ultimately, it's probably more important for these bands to have a cool T-Shirt in Hot Topic than a unique sound on their album anyway for fans of this genre, so I get it. That said though, Senseless Beauty might have something to them.
OUTLAW GENTLEMEN AND SHADY LADIES
Many times over the past five years, I've proclaimed Volbeat as the lone exciting new band out there today. Their sound is definitely one that you either love or hate, and there's no middle ground whatsoever with them. That said, their growth in popularity has not been the most healthy for this band creatively. They have seemingly started to play to the masses a little bit. It started showing itself with "Fallen", and now there are plenty of moments on their latest that seem to grow from that. I'm not sure if they are just churning out music a bit too fast to capitalize on their popularity growth or if they have just come up a little bit flat this time around, but OUTLAW GENTLEMEN AND SHADY LADIES simply isn't as good as what Volbeat has been producing since most of us first heard them with "Sad Man's Tongue". While it doesn't suck by any means, OUTLAW GENTLEMEN AND SHADY LADIES is a bit of a letdown.
If you've followed along with the whole Queensryche saga over the last few months and you are a fan, you are almost embarrassed to claim that fandom in public at this point. For a band that was once so proud of the fact that they were above the fray of their contemporaries, it's just flat out embarrassing to see the sad division of a band that was once so creatively excellent. Now, we have two Queensryches out there. The first one, made up of the "rest of the guys" and new vocalist Todd LaTorre, have proclaimed a return to the classic sound of the first five releases. They have been somewhat classier than Geoff Tate during the whole split, but at the same time haven't been shy to point fingers and make their private legal battle with Tate immensely public. Whatever, I guess...everyone's got to get the word out about their project. As for vocalist Geoff Tate...well, he's kind of gone insane the last few months publicly. Over the last few months, we've heard everything from why it was alright to spit in the face of his former drummer, rants from the stage where he told fans of the band that they suck, and yes, even stereotyping talk about the man's dick size. Certainly, the legacy has taken a lot of tarnish during this time.
It's starting to look like 2013 is the season of bands that do things that sound pretty much the same from release to release putting out new music that's the same as the old. Buckcherry is a solid band generally, although their last two releases have been pretty God-awful. Their latest release, CONFESSIONS, is far better than BLACK BUTTERFLY or ALL NIGHT LONG, but that's still not saying that they have regained the greatness they once showed with releases such as their 15 or their self-titled debut. While CONFESSIONS doesn't rival either of those releases, it does have some of the qualities that made both of those very listenable albums. In short, CONFESSIONS is a comeback of sorts for this working man's band.