THURSDAY SPOTLIGHT: JUDAS PRIEST

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     Black Sabbath deserves all of the credit for being the Grandfathers and ForeFathers of Heavy Metal.  However, Judas Priest can be seen as the Godfathers of modern day metal.  Judas Priest brought metal to a new level with the dual thrashing guitar playing of KK Downing and and Glen Tipton.  Priest was formed in 1969 in Birmingham England.  Not only was their music loud, but it was mind blowing.  Rob Halford, arguably the best Heavy Metal vocalist in History has that raging voice as well as the stage presence to make fans lose their shit.  As of today, Priest has sold over 50 Million Albums worldwide and that number rises everyday as youngsters become enamored with a band that has been in existence almost 45 Years.  Their most notable lineup was Rob Halford (Vocals), Dave Holland (Drums), Ian Hill (Bass), and KK Downing/Glenn Tipton (Lead Guitar).  Their release of “British Steel” in 1980 was what personified what we know of today as modern day Heavy Metal.

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     Judas Priest has gone through a few lineup changes and even went through a period of time where Rob Halford left the band for his own solo projects including the band “Fight” and “Halford”.  However, in 1995, the band got together in a small kitchen in Birmingham, England, their birthplace.  They were discussing the release of their new box set when they also made a decision to reunite.  You know that moment when heavy metal fans get chills down their spine when they realize their favorite band is having a reunion.  We have saw it with KISS, AC/DC, even the Rolling Stones.  Well that emotion was felt by many when Priest announced to the world that they would be releasing a new album…”Angel of Retribution.”  Fittingly, the first track on the new album was “Judas is Rising.”  When you hear the song live, it really brings chills to the bone.

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     If you are a Heavy Metal fan and you have never saw Judas Priest live you have missed out tremendously.  Judas Priest has released 16 Studio Albums as of now and are currently working on a new album due out sometime in 2014.  The Priest as they are also referred to have been one of the most successful heavy metal bands of all time.  Their most recent material was the album Nostradamus, which is a concept album about the life of Nostradamus who was one of the most famous prophets in history who has predicted many life changing events on earth.  The album features 23 songs.  The first disc focuses on his life and predictions and the second disc focuses on his life, after being exiled and his death.  It covers how mankind had saw how right he was on his predictions after death.  The band even used keyboards, synthesizers and choirs which was extremely new to their repertoire.  NOSTRADAMUS did not have the critical success that was expected, but nonetheless this album is extremely powerful.  Shut the lights out one night, pop in the CD and kickback and listen and you will see what I mean.

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     The band is currently working on their 17th Studio album, which is due out later this year.  KK Downing has retired, but the band has not lost anything with newcomer Richie Faulkner.  If you do not believe me, check out their latest live DVD, Epitaph which has 23 live tracks spanning their entire career.  Epitaph was recorded at the Hammersmith Apollo, London on May 26th, 2012.  The DVD was released as both a normal version and Blu Ray.  I highly recommend this DVD for any METAL Fan.  Especially any newcomers that may have never witnessed Judas Priest live.  Judas Priest is absolutely amazing and their music is even more special.

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      So as we go forward on this Thursday, let us remember the influence that Judas Priest has had on all of our favorite Metal Bands.  Every band that joins today wishes they could be the next Judas Priest.  However, there is only ONE Judas Priest.  Rob Halford in my opinion is the greatest vocalist of all time.  I have blogged about this in the past when I did my TOP 50 Metal Vocalists of all time.  You can also check that out in the archives.  I easily place Priest in the TOP 5 Metal Bands of all time along with Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, and AC/DC.  So, if you are bored and looking for a change, go to ITUNEs and download some Priest.  Also…Don’t forget to check out Philly’s hottest Internet Radio Station going…PHILLY ROCK RADIO.  Also check out their website.  You will be entertained I promise.  Until next time, this is JJ Rock saying goodbye.

 

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METAL MONDAY

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     The Shepherd of Fire Tour went on sale today at 10AM Eastern Time.  This Tour will span the United States and Canada as Avenged Sevenfold will promote their latest release “Hail to the King.”  I have reviewed this album numerous times in past posts and every time I listen to this album it gets better and better.  The Tour will include 20 Shows at many big venues throughout Canada and the US.  Avenged Sevenfold will kickoff the tour in British Columbia, Canada at the EnCana Events Centre on April 12th.  They will then proceed to the CN Centre in Prince George, British Columbia.  The tour will also visit Saskacthewan, Winnepeg, Minneapolis Minnesota, Huntsville Alabama, Tampa Florida, Jacksonville Florida, Lafayette Louisiana, Hollywood Florida, Virginia Beach, Charlotte North Carolina, Knoxville Tennessee, Hershey Pennsylvania, Bangor Maine, Montreal Quebec, Syracuse New York, and will end in Columbus Ohio on May 17th.

     For those of you that have never saw Avenged Sevenfold, I strongly suggest you purchase tickets to one of these shows.  Sevenfold, otherwise known as AX7, has been a band on the rise for the past ten years and this latest album, Hail to the King is by far their best material to date.  Synester Gates is like the modern day “Slash.”  He plays the same kind of guitar style as the former Guns N Roses standout and matches his intensity.  Johnny Christ on the Bass guitar is equally ferocious.  M. Shadows has become quite a vocalist and has raised his game.  Zacky Vengeance compliments Synester Gates and together they are like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest combined.  By that, I mean they share the heaviness of Priest and the dual guitar melody of Maiden.  The band rounds out with new comer Arin llejay who takes over for “The Rev”, who was AX7’s world class drummer.  The Rev died in 2009, however his legacy lives on and his talent still influences the Band.  Hail to the King reached #1 on the Billboard 200 in both the United States and the U.K.  To date, AX7 has sold over 8 Million Albums world wide.  This tour should be special, as the band has stepped up its game.

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    In other Metal news, Motley Crue Drummer Tommy Lee has gotten engaged to his girlfriend Sofia Toufa.  He announced the news to 430,000 of his Twitter followers.  This is the fourth time that the Rock Star will be married.  The 51 Year old Lee has been previously married to Elaine Starchuk, Heather Locklear, and Pamela Anderson.  Lee insists that this is finally his life partner.  This news comes amidst the Crue’s latest news that they will be doing a farewell tour and album.  I don’t know about you, but I put the over/under on the length of this marriage at Five Years.  Tommy Lee has always been outspoken and is probably second to Vince Neil in female attraction.  

     It was also announced that former Megadeth Guitarist will be releasing a new album called “Inferno.”  This should be interesting as Friedman had lost interest in Metal when he left Megadeth.  AC/DC will also be releasing a new studio album and going back out on the road.  I love Angus Young.  He is like the energizer bunny.  He just keeps going and going and going.  Brian Johnson has lost some of his vocal power, but he can still sing with the best of them.  There is a DIO tribute album being released in March that will include covers from Anthrax, Metallica, Pantera and others.  Sebastian Bach is ready for the release of his new album, which should be KICK ASS!!!!!

     Finally, we will play This or That:

1) Black Sabbath w DIO vs Black Sabbath w Ozzy.

2) Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets.

3) Cowboys from Hell or Vulgar Display of Power.

4) Deep Purple or Thin Lizzy.

5) Bon Scott or Brian Johnson.

6) Cinderella or RATT.

7) Testament or Overkill.

8) Bad Company or Foreigner.

9) Dave Mustaine or Kirk Hammett.

10) Alice In Chains or Soundgarden.

OK….Now for my answers.  1) Black Sabbath w DIO, 2) Master of Puppets, 3) Cowboys from Hell, 4) Thin Lizzy, 5) Brian Johnson, 6) RATT, 7) Overkill, 8) Bad Company, 9) Dave Mustaine, 10) Alice In Chains.  So what were your picks??  Anyways, rock on mates.  Stay tuned for more Metal Mania.

******Album of the Day- Def Leppard (Slang)*******

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CRASH COURSE IN METAL: MY HEAVY METAL JOURNEY

     For most of you that know me…Metal Music is a passion for me.  As a 37 Year Old, I have pretty much lived through every Heavy Metal genre besides the very beginning.  Its funny because in my current career…I see many young kids that have once again chose Metal as their passion.  For awhile, it may have seemed that Metal was on its decline…but any sort of thought has been blown up like a bomb in Baghdad.  Heavy Metal is once again on a DRAMATIC rise and there is no sign of this phenomenon going away.  In Fact, although Metal may never reach the peak that it did during the mid eighties to early nineties when different forms of the music grew offspring.

     During the mid seventies to the early eighties, Heavy Metal began to form a pillar of Iron.  Beginning with Black Sabbath, the “God Father’s of Metal” in just about anyone’s opinion…Heavy Metal began to branch out with light speed.  During the late seventies and early eighties…the British wave of Heavy Metal was taking the world by storm.  I was only four years old in 1980…but I can still remember when AC/DC released “Back in Black.”  My father made such a big deal about buying that album.  It marked the return of the band, after parting ways with Bon Scott and the emergence of Brian Johnson as it’s frontman.  At that time, I didn’t know what Heavy Metal was or even had a clue what the different styles of music were.  Bands such as Iron Maiden, KISS, Judas Priest, DIO Motorhead,Van Halen, Def Leppard and many more began to make waves in America as well as Europe.  

     For the sake of not making this a boring drawn out history lesson, I am not going to get anymore into the definition or roots of metal.  All that I know is, my first Metal album was “Appetite For Destruction” by Guns N Roses in 1987.  I was merely an eleven year old kid trying to find my way through this ever changing world.  Guns N Roses quickly became my first “favorite” band.  I quickly began to build a collection of audio cassette tapes, as CD’s were not out yet.  My catalog spread like a disease and I soon had over Forty Tapes.  At that time, I was still in Christian School, so this type of music was frowned upon.  Pretty soon, my mom stumbled upon my collection, and soon my set morphed into a measly five tapes, as my mom threw the other thirty-five out.  I couldn’t believe it…it was like I lost my new best friend.  I would liken it to someone today being an avid face book junkie and then having it stripped away from them like a tornado.

     Anyways, as the years went by, CD’s were invented and became the popular choice for music fans.  Not only did my CD Catalog increase, my tastes in Metal Music filtered out and I was finding all of the traditional sub-genres of metal…British Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Glam Metal, Stoner Metal, Speed Metal, Power Metal, Alternative Metal, Industrial Metal, ETC.  The Sub-Genres continue to evolve to this day and I would not be able to tell you every one nor do I care.  I just know what I like.

     My first love was Glam Rock…beginning with Motley Crue, Poison, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Warrant, RATT, Cinderella, Queensryche, WASP, Winger, Autograph, White Snake, Bon Jovi…the list is too long.  These were the bands that I could not get enough of.  I was mostly a Motley Crue and Poison fan but I developed a natural love for all of these bands as well as their CD’s.  During the same time, I was heavy into Van Halen, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and AC/DC, Skid Row.  

     Then it happened…my neighborhood buddy introduced me to a band that I had never heard of and from there it was all over.  The band was Anthrax.  The CD was an EP “I’m the Man.”  And the song was “Im the Man”.  I can remember it like it was yesterday in his back yard.  We blared that CD over and over again.  After this, I became a THRASH METAL MANIAC.  I went out and bought every CD I could get my hands on.  I started with Megadeth “Countdown to Extinction.” and Metallica “Black Album.”  After this it was every Thrash Band…Testament, Slayer, Metal Church, OverKill, and like wise this list began to grow.  Then as the music continued to evolve…so did I.  Now I was listening to Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Faith No More, Slipknot, Seven Dust.  I loved “everything” metal.  YES… I am and always will be a METAL HEAD as my friend Cheryl always reminds me.  However, this does not mean that I do not like other music.  I enjoy all types, including RAP, Classic, Blues, Country, basically anything that I can jam to.  But it always goes back to Metal.

     Then it was Nirvana, Pantera, God Smack, Hate Breed, Rage Against the Machine, Limp Bizkit, Machine Head, Typonegative, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, Disturbed, Death Angel, and Linkin Park.  Every year, I have developed new likes and dislikes as far as Metal Music.  However, I still traditionally am pulled to the Eighties/Nineties Glam/Speed/Thrash/Alternative categories.  Like today, I really enjoy the band VOLBEAT.  I also like Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Hell Yeah, Lacuna Coil, Black Label Society and many others.  However, its not a secret that “Early” metal is back on the rise.  I mean, Black Sabbath just released a brand new studio album “Thirteen” with three of the original members Ozzy, Geezer, and Iommi.  WOW!!! In case you have not heard this album…go get it now!  AWESOME!  KICK ASS!  BAD ASS!  These would be the adjectives I use to describe this new album.

     As of today, my CD collection stands at 545 CD’s and Counting.  I have another 3,000 songs on my IPOD/IPHONE.  Yes, I am a music junkie.  Although music is available at the touch of a button, I still enjoy purchasing CD’s because I like the artwork and reading the lyrics and credits…call me old fashioned.  I have started sets consisting of my favorite bands.  Right now, today I own every CD for the following bands: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Slipknot, Testament, Iron Maiden, Alice In Chains, Anthrax, Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Skid Row, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and Lamb of God.  I am always continuing to build on my sets.  The next set that I will have complete is Black Sabbath including all Ozzy and Dio releases.  I always forget bands when mentioning my favorites.  My all time favorite band is Megadeth for my own personal reasons.  However, I am a huge fan of all The Big Four Bands, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Guns N Roses.  I hold these bands at my highest standard.  The next would be on a step down.  I am loving all of these comeback tours and new studio albums.  Metal is alive and well Folks!  I see it out in the neighborhood.  I see it in the workplace.  Its showing in the schools.  Its everywhere!!!!!!  I also attribute the re emergence to Guitar Hero…the popular video game…MTV, VH1, Facebook, Pandora and all of the other music social media outlets.  Well, this was a quick path through my Heavy Metal journey.  I am sure we all have our own tales and war stories.  All of the albums, concerts, tours, festivals, etc.  Heavy Metal will always be one of my passions and music is one of my defining attributes.  Besides listening to music, I have this blog which I write about metal, I read all kinds of books, and I am even currently taking Guitar lessons.  I also write Lyrics.  Maybe I did miss my passion……..ImageImageImage

ANTHRAX: ANTHEMS ROCK

On Tuesday, Anthrax released their LP cover album called “ANTHEMS.” To start off…I give Anthrax credit for stepping away from their comfort zone and taking a break from the Thrash Metal that they are so known for. This album has a great mix of covers from 70’s and 80’s bands.

First of all…the sound quality is TOP NOTCH! Scott Ian and Rob Caggliano kick major ASS on Guitar as they both provide lead and rhythm on the entire album. As always, the entire band does a great job on backing vocals. Frank Bello hits it hard on the BASS! Charlie Bennante overpowers on the Drums. And Joey Belladonna absolutely kills it on lyrics.

The album begins with the first track Anthem from RUSH. Joey Belladonna does a tremendous job on vocals with all of these songs. Honestly, he has a very underrated voice. Actually, his voice kind of sounds like Sammy Hagar on a few tunes, especially Anthem and Keep on Running. Scott Ian and Coglianno are so impressive and Bennante and Bello set the pace.

The second track TNT is an AC/DC classic. Their version is very similar to the original…with a little heavier rhythm section. Belladonna does his best AC/DC impression on the vocals and Caggliano and Ian rip it up on the solos. Excellent cover that has never been covered on a major label to my knowledge. It was very close to the vest, even the ending.

Smokin by BOSTON another stellar classic. Anthrax is able to kill this song in every aspect. The Drums are awesome and the BASS makes your back tingle. Scott Ian says this is his personal favorite along with their next cover of Keep on Runnin from Journey. One would say…what business does Anthrax have covering a Journey song? Well, once again they kill it. This album is so good you would never peg Anthrax for a Thrash Metal band if you didn’t already know what they were about.

The final two covers are Big Eyes from Cheap Trick and Jailbreak from Thin Lizzy. These two songs are probably the best two on the album, however the entire album is a masterpiece. Honestly, all of the material is phenomenal. My buddy has posted a link to their cover of Jailbreak on Facebook. Sick, sick, sick!!! I rate this album a 9/10 and a must have for any Rock fan. You don’t even have to be an Anthrax fan to enjoy this cover. They end the album with their own song Crawl which is off the Worship Music album and is one of their signature songs on the disc. They also have a remix of the song. If you are a fan of ROCK go buy ANTH

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Back In Black

I just purchased the remastered AC/DC classic “Back in Black”. I forgot how good this album really is…I had it in my Top 5 albums of all time, but usually take this ban for granted. Yes…this album definitely gets the juices flowing and is an adrenaline boost waiting to happen. All 10 songs are hits and each one has a different sound and tempo. With the opening Hell’s Bells…to the love anthem You shook me all Night Long…to Rock N Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution. Every song has passion and deep meaning. Angus Young is probably one of the most underrated guitarists and Robert Johnson hits the highest notes possible. He has that hard rock voice but has an original sound also which is quite raspy. AC/DC played an important part in the new wave of hard rock and Heavy Metal. And this album represents an era that will never be forgotten. Enough on the music front…tonight there are two more games. Tomorrow I will review Week 1 and go over my picks as well as offer my surprises and busts. I will also detail the Fantasy realms and how certain players faired.

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