FIRE MAKE THUNDER
We're definitely in a different musical age. Certainly, the digital age has produced a new way to record music, but I doubt a nationally signed act has ever done a full, completely fleshed out project quite the way OSI did. For those that don't know, OSI is a project featuring Jim Matheos of Fates Warning fame, and Kevin Moore who's best known for his time in Dream Theater. What's so different about this? Well, the guys have created a completely intricate, deep and fully fleshed out sound without ever spending a moment in the studio. That's right - FIRE MAKE THUNDER is 100% the product of the electronic age. I think if I was in this band, I would have called this EMAIL, since they undoubtedly spent hours emailing back and forth, skyping, and FTPing tracks back and forth.
This almost never happens. It almost never happens that a band of some notoriety finds a way to come all the way back from the dead and be better than ever. That's exactly what has happened here. For all intents and purposes, Accept was dead. Udo Dirkschneider started an Accept clone band called U.D.O., and the remaining guys were doing nothing. For many, Accept was over. Somehow though, they brought in the surprisingly awesome Mark Tornillo from TT Quick, and came roaring back with BLOOD OF THE NATIONS. To say they stunned the world would be an understatement, as I think even the most staunch believers didn't come close to imagining that release being very good. That said though, the band's follow-up STALINGRAD could actually be more important for them. Would it live up to the last album, or was NATIONS just a fluke?
This is a release I’ve been waiting for a long time, and it seems like a fast one has been played on us all. Last May, it was reported that Dan Spitz of Anthrax fame had teamed up with Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine to create a new project called Red Lamb. The prospects of that were great – two riffmasters that basically built the thrash scene playing together in a new project sounded terrific. That’s not what we got though – not exactly. Instead, what we were delivered was an album WRITTEN and PRODUCED by Spitz and Mustaine, but not featuring Mustaine’s musical chops on the disc.
I get why some bands regroup and take another stab at recording and touring. I really do. For a lot of them, it's all about making some money and reliving old memories of past glory. For some though, I just shake my head and wonder why. Mekong Delta is one such band. Just being honest here, but has there ever been more than fleeting interest in this band? Ever? Being truthful, I don't know that a lot of people have ever considered them even to be a b level band in the thrash metal game. Their fusion of prog and thrash has always been a miss with most fans of both genres. Yet, they keep plugging onward, although now with the only original member being the bass player.
SON OF PERDITION
There’s a reason that, for the most part, Death Metal stays seeded in the bowels of the underground and can never make a launch outward. There’s a reason that there’s never been a breakout Death Metal band outside of Cannibal Corpse (and, let’s be honest, of those that know their name, maybe 1 of every 1000 could name a song). The reason is, and always will be, the lacking creativity in the vocals. While hardcores will argue the point, it’s pretty much true that death metal vocals are universally the same. They are so much the same that many times when a death metal vocalist can’t make a gig due to illness, another guy in the band just fills in without any loss in quality or sound.
Stick To Your Guns
For all the hype surrounding the whole “Post Hardcore” scene, there are a collection of up and coming bands that I just don’t get. Stick To Your Guns are one such band. There’s all kinds of hype on this band, but for my money I’ll take the original, Hatebreed, over anything these guys are doing. Listening to DIAMOND, you get a solid dose of their Hatebreed wannabe music with bits of modern vocals thrown in for good measure. To say it’s not working here is an understatement. DIAMOND just isn’t very good.
ROCK AND ROLL RIDE
I have to admit it – I’m pretty much a fan of whatever Jack Blades does. I loved Night Ranger back in the day (and as recently as their last album SOMEWHERE IN CALIFORNIA). I couldn’t get enough of his band Damn Yankees. I even love his stuff with Shaw/Blades, specifically his covers album called INFLUENCE. Inadvertently, I was a big fan of the TMG album he did with Eric Martin as well. So, a solo record from Blades is more than welcomed on my desk.
Throughout my lifetime as a Clevelander, Michael Stanley has been a musical pillar in my life. As long as I’ve been listening to rock music, Michael Stanley has been one of those artists that’s been a fixture for me. I’ve easily seen him perform 30 times, including all 10 of the sold out shows at the Front Row Theatre and the infamous party in the parking lot outside of old Cleveland Stadium. When I got my first walkman in 1982, the first three tapes that came with it were Genesis – GENESIS, Pat Benatar – GET NERVOUS and Michael Stanley Band – MSB. In so many ways, Stanley has been a better version of Bruce Springsteen for me – a storyteller with stories that I could more directly relate to along the way. “Thank God for the man who puts the white lines on the highway”. Indeed.
While the last 10+ years have seen a gluttony of garbage when it comes to newer, modern metal bands, there have been a few that have continually stood above the fray musically. God Forbid is definitely one of them. Their intensity combined with their brutality in the live setting has made them one of the most universally recognized great bands out there…even if they don’t sell a lot of records. Albums like EARTHSBLOOD and IV: CONSTITUTION OF TREASON were some of the best this genre has offered up. It wasn’t enough though for former founding member Dallas Coyle, who left the band in 2009 and left a lot of people wondering what the future would hold for them.
When Al Jourgensen shelved Ministry back in 2008, it seemed like a good idea to be honest. While I’m a huge fan of his politically fueled albums, the rhetoric was wearing out on most people. That said though, there’s nary a Ministry album that’s not good, so after several years away, it only seemed right that Jourgensen would end his retirement with the bug to make more industrialized speed metal biting him hard on the neck. RELAPSE finds Ministry back and firing fast and furious. While this is lyrically the weakest album ever done by Ministry, the sneering sarcasm of Jourgensen comes spewing forth throughout. The subject matter may have changed, but this is still your same Ministry.