METAL MANIA SPARKS NEW MATERiAL

I’m such a Metal Head. I feel like the only thing that gets my passion going is new music. It’s so amazing these past few years how many bands that are putting out top notch music. Bands that have not produced material in years are making new albums in record numbers. In past blogs I have wrote about the ultimate concert and what bands I would want to be present at these shows. Well anyways…I will be reviewing the new releases of 2013 and rating them on my own scale.

I have to start with “13” that was just released by Black Sabbath on Tuesday. First lets start with the album cover. WOW! OMG! Two statements that come to mind when you first lay eyes on this cover. What a masterpiece. It has what appears to be a dark field in the background, stilts that look like witch stakes, and the Number 13 in Flames with a 3D effect and hologram that appears to be burning. Extremely effective for a band that has not put out a new studio album as the original band since the Reunion Album, which only featured two new songs. 13 is tremendous and actually exceeds all expectations. This is an album that includes all new material. From the moment I popped the CD in I was mesmerized by the sound of what I heard. It felt like I was back in 1970 listening to Classic Black Sabbath from their first three albums. This album is a BADASS work of art. I’m giving it ***** stars and a 9/10 rating. This should be up for an GRAMMY award when the time comes.

The first track “End Of The Beginning” sounds like a new version of “Black Sabbath” the title track of the band’s debut album. “Zeitgeist” sounds like a similar version of Planet Caravan with a very trippy sound and classic Sabbath chords and use of the harmonica. “Live Forever” is similar to “Iron Man” with its dark eerie power chords and the mood the song creates. “God is Dead”, already a radio hit, sounds like a combination of Iron Man/Children of the Grave. This song is classic Sabbath at its best. Of course, this like any album that Sabbath has produced with any of their different lineups will be controversial with their lyrics and song titles. Oh well, just another false stereotypical judgement by people who are misinformed.

Ok, let’s move onto another brand new release, “Super Collider” from Megadeth. This album has been highly anticipated since their last release if Thirteen. Just a coincidence…the same title as the new Sabbath album. After Thirteen, Dave Mustaine decided he wanted to go a little different direction with this new album. Of course, once again there has been extreme backlash by many loyal Megadeth fans, citing the lack of the classic Heavy sound. However, I couldn’t disagree more. In my opinion, the past few Megadeth albums have grown stale and all had the Endgame sound which was very dull and lacked variety. I can’t say that I did not see this coming. I may be one of the rare few that was a huge fan of RISK. When RISK was released, Megadeth was accused of selling out. Although Risk lacked the thrash element, it was an extremely well put together album and had a ton of variety.

Super Collider is no different. The first track Kingmaker is a traditional Megadeth sound that starts out slow and then builds, showing many other aspects of Metal such as bridges and dual solos. Super Collider, the title track is more of a hard rock tune but Dave really pushes his bands opinions and views and is able to make this song come together. “Off the Edge” reminds me of a song from the World Needs a Hero album…”Burning Bridges”. “Dance in the Rain” is another poetic masterpiece and the addition of guest singer David Draiman makes this song kick ass. I love how they conclude with a cover of Thin Lizzy, perhaps one of the most underrated bands in history. “Cold Sweat” is done masterfully with Megadeaths own stamp of approval. I also give this album **** and an 8/10 Rating.

Alice in Chains has released a new album recently as well. “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” was released last month. Now I am a huge AIC fan, especially early AIC and have always been fascinated by Layne Staley’s voice and the perfect compliment of Jerry Cantrell to the melodies. When the band made their comeback with “Black Leads to Blue” I was extremely floored at how well new lead vocalist William was able to sound so close to Layne. This album was an extreme hit. I must admit…I am a little disappointed with the latest release. I mean there are a few hits…Hollow being one. But I think the album sounds dull. There is not as much variety as I would have expected and I would have liked to have heard more of Williams voice. I say **** and 6/10. Not bad but not good…just average.

Killswitch Engage is back with a vengeance with their new title “Disarm with Descent”. Killswitch has always been able to mix screaming and melody together with the perfect twist. I have always been a Killswitch fan and this album is no different. I say **** and 8/10. Solid Metal album with a lot if different variety and sound. Also, SevenDust gets the same rating for “Black out the Sun”

Ok, for those of you that have not heard “Anthems” from Anthrax, you must rush to the store and pick up a copy. Anthrax is almost as Thrash as you can get and yet they cover Rush, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Journey, Boston, and Cheap Trick on this album, definitely not your classic metal bands. Actually, none of them have ever really been considered Metal, maybe AC/DC being the closest. Anyways, Anthems gets a 10/10 rating and is off the hook. The reason I rate it so high is that Anthrax could not went further out of their element and they “KILLED IT” on this album. All I can say is “WOw”!

Skid Row also released a new album…United World Rebellion Chapter One, which is the beginning of a few chapters. I have always been a huge Skid Row fan, obviously more so when Sebastian Bach was there, but they are still thriving in the metal scene. I give this one a 7/10…very heavy and too the point. Finally, we had 2 DVDs released, Epitaph from Judas Priest and Maiden England. Both of these compilations get an 8/10 Rating. A must buy for any metal guru. Ok, this concludes my review session, I will be exploring the new Black Sabbath release in more detail at a later date. Stay Tuned…

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ALICE N’ CHAINS?

What song do you think of when you hear someone mention the band Alice In Chains? Alice N’ Chains was a hard rock band, formed in Seattle, Washington in 1987, by Song Writer/Guitarist Jerry Cantrell and Lead Vocalist Layne Staley. The band also consisted of Drummer Sean Kinney and Mike Star on Bass. Alice In Chains had its roots as a Garage Band that was formed by Layne Staley. His original band was named Sleze and Staley became a vocalist after flirting with the idea of becoming a drummer. After struggling for a few years the band decided to change its name to Alice In Chains. However, due to concerns by some critics, they quickly changed it to Alice N’ Chains so that it would not be linked to female bondage. This tactic was used to stop any of the parental lyric activists of the time. During one of Alice N’ Chains time at a studio known as Music Bank Rehearsal Studios, Staley met Jerry Cantrell and they soon became room mates. Both musicians agreed to join each other’s band and after Layne’s band flopped, Staley joined Guitarist Jerry Cantrell, Drummer Sean Kinney, and Bassist Mike Star. After Kelly Curtis and Susan Silver got their hands on the recent demo recording from Alice N’ Chains, it quickly became a priority to push this band hard. Curtis and Silver were also the managers of the Band “SoundGarden.” After a few EP’s, the Band’s debut album “Facelift” was released in 1990 and peaked at Number 42 on the Billboard 200 during the summer of 1991. During its first six months, Facelift only sold under 40,000 copies which was considered a failure by most music critics. However, after the single “Man on the Box” debuted on MTV and became a staple music video, the album took off and Man in the Box hit Number 18 on the Mainstream Rock Charts. During the next six weeks, Facelift sold over 400,000 copies a huge improvement. In 1991, the band landed the opening slot on the Clash of The Titans Tour featuring Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth among other Metal Bands. After success with their first album and then releasing the EP “SAP”, Alice N’ Chains released its second album “Dirt.” Six of the albums 13 songs had a dark theme that dealt with the subject of addiction. This was no accident as all of the band members were struggling with one form of addiction or another. Dirt was released in 1992, and hit Number 6 on the Billboard 200 Charts. Dirt produced five Top 30 Billboard Hits including “Rooster”, “Would”, “Them Bones”, “Down In a Hole”, and the title track “Dirt”. In 1993, after opening for Ozzy Osbourne on the No More Tears tour, Mike Star left the band and was replaced by Mike Inez on Bass. The Band then toured on the Lollapalooza Tour in 1993. After a long time on the road, the Band decided to return to the studio and produced an acoustic masterpiece in 1 weeks time! The acoustic EP was called “Jar of Flies.” After its release, Staley entered rehab for Heroin Addiction. In 1994, the Band was supposed to tour with Metallica, Danzig, Suicidal Tendencies and Fight, but during rehearsal Layne began using again and the band was kicked off of the tour. The in 1995, Alice In Chains released the Self Titled Album, which hit Number 1 on the Billboard 200. The album achieved the bands highest success and the band then did a few unplugged albums with MTV. However, Layne Staley became a loner and did not leave his Seattle Condominium. On April 19, 2002, Layne Staley was found dead in this same Condo. He had lost his ten year battle with addiction. After an autopsy, it was found that Staley had died from a combination if Heroin and Cocaine and also a weakened immune system. 2 Months later, Jerry Cantrell released his second solo album and dedicated it to Staley. In 2005, the Band did a reunion tour even though they never officially disbanded. During the reunion tour, William Duvall took over lead vocals and Duff McKagan joined the band for the tour on Bass. Then on September 29, 2009 Alice In Chains finally released another album called Black Gives Way To Blue with William Duvall at the helms. Many if the albums songs dealt directly with Staley and his battle with addiction. This album was a huge success and brought former Alice N Chains fans together with many from the younger generation who really never got to see the real band. Since then, another former member of the band, Mike Star was found dead from an apparent overdose. Alice In Chains unfortunately will always be linked to the horrible disease of addiction, but the band will also always be remembered for its union of Grunge and Heavy Metal into a unique mixture of the two styles. Alice N Chains will release their fifth studio album some time in 2013. Alice N Chains will always be one of my favorite bands. They have always produced great sound and many fans can relate to the dark lyrics and themes. I am looking forward to their new album. RIP Layne and Mike, you both are more than a name!

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