Unlike most metalheads, I think I'm somewhat sacrilegious when it comes to my non-appreciation of Venom. They are one of two acts that I know are just worshipped in the metal community, but I simply do not get the appeal at all (the other being King Diamond). That being said, I had very little expectation for a new Venom release, and yet, they came though with what is a fairly solid effort.
LAND OF THE CRIMSON DAWN
One of the most difficult things there is to do when reviewing power metal bands is to find the slight variations in the sound from band to band. While I'm definitely a fan of the genre, it is the most defined sound of all the subgenres of metal. Let's face it - each and every song has a fast drum beat that rides underneath fast riffs which create a galloping sound to the music. In short, if you can listen to a power metal album from start to finish and you never tap out the "da da dum da da dum" beat on the table in front of you, then the music is probably not very good.
Hopes Die Last
TRUST NO ONE
I won't lie here - I was a fan of the early versions of nu-metal, or metalcore or whatever you want to call it. More than anything, if there's a shift in sound and it's still heavy sounding, I generally will like it for awhile. When people start mimmicking it, but don't do it as well is when I lose interest in trend hopping bands. I would say that I jumped off this bandwagon about the same time that Howard Jones joined Killswitch Engage. While that band is OK at times (definitely not a big favorite of mine), the new breed that followed for the last five or six years has been, to put it bluntly, pathetic. I'm screaming because I'm angry. Now I'm singing clean but slightly out of key to exhibit my emo pain of my existence. Now I'm screaming again while our downtuned riff churns in circles. Yeah...we all get it. Further, most fans of metal checked out on it.
Walking With Kings
WALKING WITH KINGS
I’m a big Rich Ward fan - huge, actually. I think he is the one guitarist out there that’s never been given his just due. Stuck Mojo was a tremendous band that never got the credit they deserved while lesser bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn rose to dominance for a decade. Ward has a large body of work with Stuck Mojo, as well as other bands like Sick Speed, The Duke and Adrenaline Mob. While he’s teetered in and out of Christian-like themes for years, Ward has now put together and recorded a full Christian Rock album with Walking With Kings. Past Stuck Mojo, this may be his best project to date.
ANGELS OF DARKNESS, DEMONS OF LIGHT I
Here’s a fun fact for you. Earth is a band that, at it’s core, features the ideas of one Dylan Carlson. What exactly is Dylan Carlson’s claim to fame? Well, he’s best known as the guy that purchased the gun Kurt Cobain used to kill himself with. I’ll bet you didn’t hear that one on your wacky morning show just prior to playing “Come As You Are” for the 10 millionth time.
Being a fan of this band, it's not easy to watch them disintegrate from a band that once had an edge and offered something very different from everything else to a middle of the road pop rock band. That's exactly what's going on here. By no means is this a bad album, but it's just another album that proves the creativity that came up with "Heaven's A Lie" and "Our Truth" does not exist anymore.
REBORN IN DEFIANCE
Sure, the 20 years later thing brought some interest to this release. Yes, the reunion of that classic lineup made you look up and think, "man, can they really bring it back the way it used to be?" Well, what's forgotten in those initial thought are those 20 years; 20 long years where this lineup wasn't together. Twenty years where the guys didn't continue their growth together as a band. Two decades that saw this lineup go on very different paths as individuals. The long and the short of it - REBORN IN DEFIANCE is a decent release from an older and less angst filled version of a legendary hardcore superband.
BREAK THE SPELL
I'm sure I'll get crucified for even reviewing this new release by Daughtry, but fuck it! I like this guy's tunes. In short, Daughtry is the only American Idol rocker to make it without the show's help after he was cast off the show. He's also the only one that's had success outside of the pop world that American Idol caters to. Musically, Daughtry has been solid, and has been good enough that a good number of bands have been willing to record with him without worrying that the AI stigma would infect them. Finally, let's face it. In today's world where there's almost no good hard rock being released, Daughtry is kind of like Nickelback without all the suck tunes.
I make no secrets about the fact that I literally despise Nikki Sixx. I find it sickening that he's used his hedonistic, ridiculous addictions of the past to profit from. See, I was there in the 80s, and was a huge Motley Crue fan. Nikki Sixx did not suffer from the disease of addiction. In fact, he flaunted it. At least outwardly, Motley Crue were proud to be junkies, flying the flag of abuse under the guise of it all being for "sex, drugs and Rock n' Roll". I know as a teenager, I was heavily influenced by this, and I can tell you for a fact that I snorted more than one line of coke with "Dancin' On Glass" playing in the background at a party. I find it disgusting that Sixx and his media machine prop him up as an overcomer of this disease, when the reality is he used it to make money when he was a user, and he continues to make money from it now that he's stopped. Maybe I'm crazy here, but giving up smack is not heroic...it's what you are supposed to do.
LIVE FROM THE LIVING ROOM
It seems that all previous pains in the Mr. Big camp have been forgotten. Mr. Big returned last year with a great album, tour, and now a fairly intimate acoustic live album called LIVE FROM THE LIVING ROOM. It's good to see. This band that was always strong on musicianship might be the band of all bands best suited to do an unplugged set. Not only are their songs very condusive to this kind of setting, but they are so far superior a class of musicians than the average band that attempts to try this. They aren't hacks like Poison who just sound awkward when performing the songs outside of the defined box of their original recordings.