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CD, Concert and DVD reviews

WhiteNoiseOwl-EP Album CoverWHITE NOISE OWL

 

Until We Meet Again-EP

 

Away Team Music

 

Rating: 10 out of 10

 

Rarely does a supergroup team with a super-producer and have it result in a finished product that lives up to expectations, but rarely does not equal never… When I first got word last year that former Columbia Recording artist Chris Shy (Aurora Sky/Fear The Clown) would be teaming with Lo-Pro/Ultraspank frontman Pete Murray, I was cautiously optimistic, as we’ve seen these things crash and burn before with even the greatest of musicians.  But there was something different about this pairing, having known Shy‘s penchant for hearing things that take most others a second listen to grasp I was confident that Murray would be the man to take this thing to the next level.  Little did I know that the two would be adding the talents of bassist John Fahnestock (Snot/Amen) and drummer extraordinaire Will Hunt (Evanescence/Device) to the fold, and converging on the famed EastWest Studios to add the final piece of the puzzle in GRAMMY-Winning super-producer Ben Grosse (just about every great artist under the sun); the spawn of this musical marriage becoming White Noise Owl

Bandmembers often say that their band is their family, now I ask you to picture never meeting your family until you were about to be introduced, as a whole, to a worldwide audience.  Sound crazy?  Well as crazy as it sounds, all of this mastery was created by a group of guys who, for the most part, had never even met until they were in the studio!  We always hear of “the band that never was”, in a sense, White Noise Owl is really “the band that never wasn’t”!

Needless to say, I had been eagerly awaiting the final product, and it was well worth the wait!  From the opening chords of “Feed”, we can begin to see what this band is about, a perfect conjugation of early Filter-meets-STP.  Thought we had that already?  Think again!  This would be what we’d get if Army of Anyone had a “do over”.  Murray‘s vocals, combined with an ingenious riff that would make the DeLeo brothers quiver are all you need to beg for them to “Feed” you more! An appetite that is further prompted with the second track “Bomber”, another rocker that displays the mighty talents of these four, all the while wondering if Ben Grosse is having flashbacks to his “Title of Record” sessions. 

Enter “End Over End” and “Are You Breathing”, the final tracks off the EP and one is left with two questions, How the fuck did I not realize what a great set of pipes Pete Murray has until now? And when does the full length album come out?!

As I said before, rare does not equal never; rare is reserved for things like perfect scores on album reviews, happy neighbors of Justin Bieber, and Blue Moons, and it’s only appropriate this Blue Moon has an owl sitting under it, a White Noise Owl!  Mark your calendars for March 11, 2014, the Day of the Owl.

For more info on White Noise Owl visit the band’s Official Website.

 

Devour The Day-Time & Pressure CoverDEVOUR THE DAY


Time And Pressure


Fat Lady Music/Caroline Music

Rating: 10 out of 10



The past year plus has been very kind to the rock world.  We, as critics, have seen an unprecedented amount of high scoring albums pass through the Away-Team.com pages.  Even the harshest of critics [read myself] have been generous with the scores, in contrast to previous years.  Enter 2014; nothing has seemed to change.  Although Time and Pressure from Devour the Day was released digitally in 2013, the band has just released a revamped edition that is available in CD format at all major retailers, and with that garnered themselves a first in this critic’s career, and a feat rarer than a Cubs Championship (sorry guys)… two consecutive perfect scores!!!

Many of you who know me, know that I have been a huge fan and supporter of Egypt Central for some time now.  A fact that was further emphasized in 2011 when the band released “White Rabbit”, and earned one of the few perfect scores I had ever given out at the time.  So it goes without saying that disappointment was an understatement for the way I felt when I heard that the band had broken up after their most successful album.  There  was a silver lining, however, when I learned that Joey “Chicago” Walser and Blake Allison would continue to make music together in the form of Devour The Day.

When I first received the album advance, I was hesitant to open it.  I didn’t want that silver lining to turn to tin foil.  Not that I didn’t have faith in Blake and Joey, after all they are both tremendous musicians in their own right, but let’s be honest with ourselves, many a time bands have broken up and reincarnated with the uber-talented drummer stepping out from behind the kit to become the front man, and it can either go the way of the Foo Fighters or (gulp)  Methods of Mayhem.  Let’s just say I’m thankful that, although it’s not a bad consolation prize, Blake probably won’t be making any sex tapes with Pamela Anderson any time soon!

From the opening seconds of the album we are fully aware of what we are in for.  ”Respect” gives you all you need to hear to know that this album’s a winner.  It’s a right out of the gate sampling of Blake’s dynamic vocals, Joey’s blistering guitar, and a seizure-inducing drum track.  Somebody pinch me…

As if it couldn’t get any better, the debut single “Good Man” (which I might add is an acoustic bonus track on this version) immediately springs the most stoic out of their shells into a vocal eruption of “Is there any good left in… meeeeeee…”.  There is no doubt that with all of the sore throats, beverage sales will double after this song is played live (or if you’re like me, anywhere alone).

From there we “Blackout” on a killer blend of Walser and Allison‘s musical mindtrip with a hint of punk.  Highlights along the way include the new single “Move On”, which Allison wrote about the day he was left standing in the Chicago streets after being betrayed by his wife, and his former friend and frontman in a matter of minutes; one that is sure to hit home with Egypt Central fans, both musically and sentimentally.

“Oath”, which has the qualities that you’d expect to hear in a pro sports television lead-up, is a slightly industrial based track that has a backing track reminiscent of Tool‘s version of “No Quarter” and makes for the perfect lead-in to “Reckless”.  This track is that one that every great album has, which masterfully treads that ever-so-fine line between commercial appeal and sellout, and is sure to garner attention from a widespread audience.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “Handshakes To Fistfights”, along with the questions that it garners for the hardcore EC fans.  It’s a musically brilliant, cryptic betrayal anthem that gets the inquisitive wheels turning, and more importantly, the heads banging.

Lastly the album’s signature ballad, “The Drifter”, a killer track in it’s own right, sets us up to have our asses kicked one last time with the brand new addition to the album “Check Your Head”.  A fitting end in that it’s exactly what should be done to all who do not buy this album!  I can honestly say there is not one hiccup on Time and Pressure, perserverence has paid off and the boys from Devour The Day have hit a home run!  Very Highly Recommended!!!

For more information on Devour the Day, including Tour Dates and to purchase music and merchandise visit the band’s  Official Website.







Hello Ladies and Gents, it is that time again for everyone’s ‘Best Of..’ list and I’m not going to be left out. It’s been a great year for all kinds of music. You just had to go and look for some of it. Some of the selections on my list are predictable but I think there are a few on here that may surprise many of you too. So let’s kick off Slim Jim’s Top 13.5 (I’ll explain that later) Best Albums of 2013.



13 – King 810Midwest Monsters EP
king810Wish Korn would go back to being Korn and still putting out music as powerful and brutally painful as their debut self titled album? Don’t we all?
King 810 isn’t Korn, they might be the poor man’s Korn, or they may just be brutal and murderous without having the mommy and daddy issues of Jonathan Davis (or maybe more issues than Davis??). They aren’t quite as strong musically as Korn either. Every song sounds similar to the one before it. The only thing that seems to change is the breakdown of each song and the vocals/lyrics.
I swear this is a Best Of.. list, and King 810 are part of it despite how it sounds so far…
Instead of screaming and crying about mommy/daddy/molestation/etc ala Korn they are more about murder/death/mayhem it seems. I’ve seen them labeled ThugCore (that’s a new one to me), and the lyrics support the label. They paint a bleak portrait of life in the bowels of a hellish American City (the band hails from Flint, Mi) and the attitudes, antics, and dealings done to simply survive (or not survive as the theme of some of the songs go. 
With titles like Murder Murder Murder, The Death Posture, KIA, and Dragging Knives (see the common theme?) this isn’t feel good metal at all. But the cathartic nature of it, after 25 minutes of crawling through the dregs of humanity portrayed in this EP you can’t help but feel reborn, renewed, and whatever bullshit you carried with you before you put the disc on all fades away against the abrasive, concussive, sludge of inner city hell portrayed by KING 810.
Song of Note: K.I.A.




12 – QueensrycheQueensryche
queensryche - queensrycheQueensryche for many years was pretty much my second to third favorite band (1. Metallica 2. Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac). But over the years I had a hard time supporting them as each new album came out. Their EP, The Warning, Rage For Order, Operation: Mindcrime, Empire, and Promised Land were all exceptional albums but from there on it was all down hill. American Soldier was decent, and Operation: Mindcrime II was a valiant effort but it wasn’t enough to really be a good album. I won’t even go into the covers album.
And then the shit show started. The very public, very dirty, very scandalous breakup began. And so now you have two versions of the once mighty Queensryche touring and recording. Just to fuck with the public some more. Regardless what side of the fence you fall on this one, you must admit that of the two Queensryche albums that were released this year, only one sounds like the real Queensryche. If left simply to public opinion and album sales (which is a direct reflection of public opinion if you ask me) there is no mistaking that the Geoff Tate-less Queensryche, the Queensryche with new singer Todd La Torre is by far the reigning version of Queensryche.
The self titled album featuring the new singer is the bands best effort in recent years. The sound falls somewhere between Empire and Promised Land. They say it harkens back to the original Ryche sound of the first 4 albums, and while it is close, there is a little missing from it to be truly from The Warning ‘era’.
Todd’s voice is remarkably Geoff Tateish. Think Judas Priest with Ripper Owens, and had the band been able to go on after firing Geoff and just be ‘the’ Queensryche then there is a real chance that they’d be on their way back up the charts, and back into the arenas again. His voice is that strong and that ‘Tateish’ that if you just put the album on, and didn’t know the line up change, you’d never know that Tate wasn’t singing.
The album is solid, and because it is a step in the right direction and is completely listenable on it’s own even if it isn’t missing it’s ballsiness somewhere along the way, it limps its way into my top 10 list of 2013.
Again, this is more Empire than Rage for Order or The Warning, and while there isn’t anything wrong with that, I don’t think it is enough of a departure from the last few Ryche albums to really be a great album. I’ll take Empire era Queensryche over Hear in the Now Frontier era, but if I had my druthers, you can give me Rage era Ryche any and every day thank you very much.
This being the first album without Geoff wrangling the writing or pawning the writing off on third parties (depends on whose story you believe), it shows enough promise to give us long time Ryche fans hope that the forthcoming music from the band will continue down the path they’ve begun to go.
Song of Note: Open Road




11 – Deep PurpleNow What?!
deep purple - now whatWithout going on a tirade against the R&R Hall of Fame here… It is a travesty that Deep Purple has once again been overlooked by them. While I’m glad that they didn’t get in based solely on the fact that this year marked the death of the greatest keyboard player ever, Jon Lord, It pains me to see pop artists get into the Hall before one of the most influential bands ever (and arguably the first band to create the ‘heavy metal’ genre just a couple of years before Sabbath).
That aside, Deep Purple has had a rough couple of years in the quality of the recordings they’ve been putting out. They’ve admitted as much themselves in recent interviews.
And while they can never return to the strength and might that they were with Jon Lord, the current line up with Don Airey at keyboards has finally captured the sound and vibe that is at the core of any great DP recording. 
Now What?! bears a striking resemblance to Perfect Strangers which in my opinion is the last good album they’ve put out as well as possibly their greatest album ever.
It sees the band in grand form and Ian Gillan while somewhat restrained here vocally still delivers a great performance.
If you’re looking for a good strong Deep Purple album that harkens back to their better songwriting days and performances, this is the one for you.
Song of Note: Vincent Price




10 – TriviumVengeance Falls
trivium - vengeance fallsI had to put Trivium on this list. I’ve tried liking their previous albums. I enjoy them to a certain extent but they just seemed to be missing something. Then I saw them live, and I understood what Trivium was all about. It’s been said a million times, and I’ll say it here because still holds true… There are live bands and there are studio bands. Some bands shine on a stage and their albums are just so so, others make killer albums but they just don’t come across right on stage. Trivium for me is the former. Until the release of Vengeance Falls. I don’t know if their writing has improved, if changing producers and having David Draiman helped, I don’t know if it just sonically sounds better than the other albums, or it is just lighting in a bottle, but the band has finally released an album that represents their sound onstage properly.
The band took a lot of heat for having Disturbed’s David Draiman produce the album from the ‘all knowing’ sheeple out there. But having a new set of ears listen and help pull out the best possible performance out of the band seems to have worked. This is the first album from Trivium I can listen to front to back. And because of that, because it is such a strong album, because it is the hardest and heaviest album to come out this year, because the band is such a great live band, they deserve to be in my top 10 list this year.
Song of Note: At the End of this War




9 – Five Finger Death PunchThe Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Vol 1
FFDP - the wrong side of heavenWhen this album came out I wanted to dislike it just like I did their first three albums.
Look, their sound is ok, the songwriting is ok, and while the band seems to have a lot of fun on stage performing, the lead singer Ivan Moody seems to posture just a little bit too much for my taste. Their breakout song (a cover of Bad Company’s ‘Bad Company’) was a cover that ranks up there with Shinedown’s Simple Man as the top covers that never should have happened.
The fact that the general public ate up both of those shitty versions of great songs irritated the fuck out of me and so I take it out on the bands and refuse to like/listen to them.
So FFDP comes out with the first of two albums dropping this year and damned if the first one isn’t chock full of killer guest vocalists. We’re talking Rob Halford, Maria Brink, Max Calavera, and Jamey Jasta here. That’s enough to make me give the disc a good solid listen. At least one good listen.
I’ll be damned if the album isn’t really fucking good. Again, a total surprise here and even more so that this band ended up on my top 10 list!
The title track is a stellar song that, had they released it 5 years ago it would have been a weak muddling milquetoast abortion of a song. But they have clearly matured in their songwriting and it shows here.
The disc kicks off with the infectious Lift Me Up featuring Rob Halford and it is this song that kept me intrigued enough to keep listening.
Moving through the various tracks they all have their high points and keep the album moving along nicely. Until you get to what may end up being my third grossest mistaken cover song ever. FFDP and Tech N9ne cover LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out. At face value it could be a really strong cover. The original song was done by LL Cool J with a full band supporting him on it. So it isn’t too far of a stretch to see a metal band cover it. But the execution is less favorable than chowing down on a three month old abortion. It should have never been done.
the first half of Diary of a Deadman continues to push the suck factor here. Think Metallica’s To Live is to Die but in reverse. Had the instrumental been ALL of the song it would have been a solid song. But if you skip both of those songs the rest of the album is a great solid metal album.
Look, no one is more surprised than I am that this album is in my top 10 list. I almost feel the need to apologize for it. But the majority of the disc is so strong and so surprising to me that I feel it is worthy to be here.
The second album (Volume 2) is really more of the same. It isn’t bad, it isn’t better, it is missing the guest vocalists, and it carries it’s own shitty cover version of House of the Rising Sun.
Maybe FFDP should stick to having guest vocalists and not doing ANY covers (because they all come out shitty). To be fair House of the Rising Sun is a lot less shitty than Mama Said Knock You Out. So they’ve got THAT going for them.
Song of Note: Wrong Side of Heaven




8 – NewstedHeavy Metal Music
Newsted - heavy metal musicAfter leaving Metallica Jason Newsted has been in a lot of projects to keep himself busy as he properly recovered from the neck/back injury that forced him out of the worlds biggest metal band (well, that and the all the inner turmoil bullshit going on at the time. See: Some Kind Of Monster). From performing with Ozzy, Voivod, Echobrain, etc, etc. to finally starting his own band Newsted it’s been a long journey.
Jason plays bass and sings/growls vocals and does an admirable job singing. It’s a bit one dimensional but it does work. And even after listening to the whole album it doesn’t grate on me. I usually prefer a little more depth in the vocals but this works and works well.
I think because the music behind it is so Motorheadishly groovetastic that the vocals lends itself to the grittiness of the sound.
And that is the biggest compliment you can pay this album. For that is what it is to the T. It is Motorheadishly groovetastic. Think Lemmy and Co. thrashing it out instead of Punking or Rockabillying it out. And that is where Neswsted sits. Motorhead with thick as fuck Thrash riffs and chops.
The biggest surprise here isn’t Jason singing… it has to be Staind’s Mike Mushock’s performance on the disc.
This isn’t Staind’s emo metal whiney baby bullshit, this is Mike unleashing heavy metal mayhem riffs all over the album. Kudos to Mike for finally showing the world his metal chops. They are a true treat and joy to behold.
Song of Note: King of the Underdogs




7 – VolbeatOutlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
volbeat - outlaw gentlemen and shady ladiesLuckily I was turned on to Volbeat a few years ago by a good friend. And have been a fan ever since. I mean what’s not to like here? You like Hard Rock? You like Rockabilly? You like Danzig? You like Elvis? Well, let me introduce Volbeat to you.
They are all the above and a little bits of all the above. The bastard son of Elvis and Glenn Danzig singing 50’s era Rockabilly with a 2000 twist mixed with great hooks and enough swagger and hair gel to put the sleaziest greaser to shame; add in exceptional songwriting and you have Volbeat.
The most notable difference between Outlaw and the albums before it is the addition of Robb Caggiano. I think that is what sets this album apart and above its predecessors. With Robb in role of producer the album is more straightforward Hard Rock(abilly) than a mish mash of Metal(abilly) and so the sound is more coherent and fluid.
If I had a complaint it is that there is a certain sameness to each and every song they do. If the songs weren’t so good it would be a little off putting and dull. I think it lies in the vocals of Michael Poulsen. While they are unique and undeniably good, they don’t have much range, so each song sounds like the last. The exception being Room 24 which features King Diamond and has the older thrashy Volbeat sound to it. Past that, the album kind of comes off as a 45 minute song with different passages throughout it. Not sure how you change that, as it is really the main part of their signature sound.
The Hangman’s Body Count has a great riff running throughout it chugging along like a juggernaut and the soloing is top notch.
Lonesome Rider has the rockin’ist Rockabilly/Country/Metal vibe of them all. It doesn’t hurt that Sarah Blackwood is singing in the worlds thickest twang on it and what a trippy song it is. You have to hear it to understand all the elements at play in this song.
Song of Note: Doc Holiday




6 – Monster MagnetLast Patrol
monster magnet - last patrolMonster Magnet is a band that should be much bigger than it is. But because they don’t write radio friendly hard rock or are perceived to be something they aren’t they don’t get the respect they deserve.
They’re mostly known for their one hit Space Lord and their great video for it. But take a listen to the rest of that album or any track on this album and you’ll find that they have so much more substance than that one song.
Ask me what Last Patrol sounds like and I’d be hard pressed to tell you. It’s epic. That’s the one word that comes to mind. Fucking EPIC. It is truly a journey of an album. It takes you for a ride and you end up in places you’d never think you’d go from a band like Monster Magnet.
Let’s just give them their own genre and call it Space Rock shall we? Because that’s what this is. It’s the closest I can come to ‘naming’ the sound. There’s acoustic shit in there, spacey jams, middle eastern tinges mixed in, and it isn’t until you get to Hallelujah almost halfway through the disc that you get to what you’d call a straightforward rocker. 
And that is what is so great about this album. That is all part of this journey. The music is heavy as hell. And not in the traditional sense of heavy metal, think Muse but a lot more restrained and laid back.
This is a groove heavy album. Maybe that’s what I missed. The album grooves deeply. It doesn’t go so deep as to be sludge, but heavy on the groove factor here. Every song whether slow, low, or jukin’ and jivin’ all have their own fat groove to them. EPIC GROOVE SPACE ROCK.
There you go.
Now, go get it. You’ll thank me later.
Song of Note: Paradise




5 – Nick Cave & The Bad SeedsPush The Sky Away
nick cave - push the sky awayHas Nick Cave ever released a bad album?
Fuck no.
Has he released albums that fail to live up to the Nick Cave standard? Yes, but then a Nick Cave album is a lot like fucking. Even if it’s bad fucking it is still fucking.
Nick Cave has gone back and forth over the last few years releasing albums with and without the Bad Seeds and has even done some ‘side projects’ (how you do a side project from yourself I have no idea), and it is my opinion that the best Nick Cave is the Nick Cave that is backed by The Bad Seeds.
The opening cut We No Who U R sets the mood for the disc with a ethereal and bleak sound. This isn’t the aggressive Nick Cave set to a cacophonous wall of noise. Think more Leonard Cohen and less The Birthday Party.
Wide Lovely Eyes continues the stark ethereal sound while Water’s Edge still keeps the minimalist theme going musically but steps the tempo up. You feel the song building, restrained, strained, pulsing, waiting to tear loose, only to be tamped down suppressed and leaving you edgy and wanting more.
It’s only when Jubilee Street starts that you get a full band sound, or traditional band sound. The electric, eclectic, ethereal sound gone but the morose lyrical vibe maintains its hold. The irony being the title of the song comparative to the overall feel of the song.
This is Nick Cave’s best work in a long time. I’ve followed the man for a long time, and this may rank right up there as his 3rd best album behind Let Love In and The Murder Ballads. That’s enough to ensure his place in my top ten of 2013.
Song of Note: Water’s Edge




4 – GhostInfestissumam
Ghost - album coverHail Satan!
Hail Satanic Metal!
Hail Satanic Circus Music!
Hail Satanic Psychobilly!
Hail GHOST!
The second album by the enigmatic Ghost may not be as straight forward in the metal vein as their first album Opus Eponymous but it is still a great album that has so many subtle layers to it. And I think that’s why so many people seem to like the first album more.
But what Ghost brings to the Satanic Metal genre is something that one would never have though possible… FUN!
Yes Satan can be fun. Who knew?!?!?!??!
Give Infestissumam one listen and you’ll agree. Worshipping Satan and glorifying the great evil one can be fun.
The track Per Aspera ad Inferi sounds like some kind of psychedelic 70’s hard rock groove song until you catch the lyrics… ‘Oh Satan Devour us all Hear our desperate call’.
I’ve always wanted to start a band that plays music in the vein of Barry Manilow but has lyrics so dark and fucked up that people upon first listen give you the puzzled dog head cocked to the side expression.. ‘HUH?
This isn’t quite Barry Manilow music but is is close in idealism.
This isn’t Black Metal. This isn’t Satanic Metal. This isn’t King Diamond or Slayer by a long shot. But it is good solid hard rock/heavy metal that is a trip to listen to.
So put your sullen and brooding Black/Death/Satan Metal away, put on your clown pants and rock the fuck out to Good Friendly Fun Satanism!
Song of Note: Year Zero




3 – Micheal MonroeHorns and Halos
michael monroe - horns and halosHanoi Rocks was poised to be the biggest band in the world. The year was 1984, they had just released their best album to date, Two Steps From the Move, they had taken Bowie’s and the New York Dolls’ and MC5’s drag/androgynous look and glommed the fuck right out of it and had invented what became Glam Rock. Motley Crue, Ratt, hell ALL of the Sunset Strip bands of the 80’s stole or adopted the look from the originators. And Guns & Roses would have never been the Guns & Roses we knew if it weren’t for Hanoi Rocks. G&R even rereleased all of Hanoi Rocks albums on their own label as a tribute to them to show the world what they may have missed.
That all changed when Vince Neil got behind the wheel of his Pantera one night highly intoxicated and took Hanoi Rocks’ drummer Razzle on a liquor run. He ended up running head first into a Volkswagen Bug seriously injuring the occupants of that car and killing Razzle instantly. The death of Razzle effectively put an end to Hanoi Rocks.
And the world was a much worse place for it.
Michael Monroe went on to a successful solo career but never reached the heights that Hanoi SHOULD have.
Hanoi Rocks reformed a few years ago and put out a couple of really good albums but things ran its course and Michael once again has gone out on his own.
His latest disc is Horns and Halos and it is the strongest album he or Hanoi has released in 20 years.
This guy is 51, his voice is stronger on this album than in the last 20-25 years easy. The songs are well written and more tight and cohesive than in previous recent efforts. The playing is mush stronger and well written also.
This may be the best Michael Monroe album he has ever put out.
The albums starts off with the bombastic TNT Diet that sets a solid rollicking pace for an album that doesn’t let up once. There are 13 cuts on this album and everyone of them shines in its own way.
Ballad of the Lower East Side is probably the truest Hanoi Rocks style song on the album. The swagger and sleaze running off this song harkens back to the early 80’s not to mention the lyrics are singing of the glories of the Lower East Side of NYC in the 80’s with its pushers, pimps, and whores.
Horns and Halos is a straight out cock rock song that may be the jewel of the disc. 
The more I listen to the album the more I hear Social D or TSOL vibe running through it more than Monroe’s normal glam rock sheen.
And this may be why the album works so well. It may be the most mature album he’s ever written. Throwing nods in it to his roots, as well as his influences, but the new ‘sound’ lies less in the glam rock we’ve come to love and expect and more in just great Rock & Roll songwriting.
Nobody writes a better hook than Michael Monroe, and every song on this album has a great hook that instantly sinks into you and pulls you right to the end of the song and deposits you squarely on the other side wishing the song wasn’t over. That is until the next song sets in, drops it’s hook in your face leaving a big mushroom stamp on your head and dragging through it’s glory and deposits you once again on the far end wishing your could hit replay and dig the song over an over again.
That to me is the sign of a great song. As soon as it ends you want to go back and listen to it again. When every song on an album does that to you… you have a great album!
And this friends and foes, is a great fucking album.
Song of Note: Ballad of the Lower East Side




2 – Scorpion ChildScorpion Child
scorpion childHoly Fuck. I hate kicking myself for missing something. We get tons of Press Releases that cross our desk every day for a million bands you’ve never heard of and probably never will, let alone the ones you wish you never did. Scorpion Child PRs were coming at me fast and furious this past spring/early summer and I read a couple and just moved on. And THAT is what I thought of Scorpion Child. Read and dumped the PR without a second thought. I have to thank Sirius/XM for actually opening my ears and eyes to the wonder that is Scorpion Child and showing me what I was missing.
Think Robert Plant meets Rainbow who goes in a back alley and has a 17way with David Coverdale, Deep Purple, and Fastway is standing there circle jerking all over the place. THAT is what Scorpion Child is. Yet they are so much more.
I always tread lightly when I say a band has a sound from the 70s/80s/particular band name here because I don’t want you to think they’re some kind of rip off or retro sounding band for a goof (think Steel Panther). The above mentioned bands are nothing more than influences on what Scorpion Child bring. They take those influences and churn out something old and familiar feeling but with a new twist and spark of life that should propel them into the stratosphere.
There are a million ‘new’ bands out there vying for your attention, but this one right here stands head and shoulders above them all.
Their sound may not be as diverse as Led Zeppelin‘s were from album to album, but there is enough diversity here from song to song while still holding the primary Scorpion Child sound to entertain and enthrall one and all alike.
Song of Note: Polygon of Eyes




1 – ClutchEarth Rocker
Clutch - earth rockerA few years ago Clutch released what many consider to be their best album ever, Blast Tyrant.
Well the Maryland band have not only matched the excellence that is Blast Tyrant, but they may have even surpassed it with their latest opus.
Earth Rocker does just what the title suggests… It rocks.
Out of all the great music that has been released this year, this is the album that has received the most listens in my iPod.
This is just a ridiculously good album. Sonically, musically, lyrically, and vocally. The sonic part makes sense because Machine produced the album, the same genius producer behind Blast Tyrant.
Clutch has experimented the last couple of albums and have had mostly missed in my opinion since Blast Tyrant, but Earth Rocker takes off right out of the gate and only slows down for the Gone Cold haunting ‘ballad’ only to rev right back up and shake the foundations with ‘The Face’ and the band doesn’t look back.
There isn’t a bad song on this disc. There isn’t a bad moment on this disc. There isn’t a bad note on this disc. The only complaint would be that they could have added 5 more songs or so as it seems to end way too quickly for me.
The tracking of Earth Rocker is to be lauded also. Starting with the title track, and accelerating with Crucial Velocity, right into Mr. Freedom, and without blinking you’re thrown into D.C. Sound Attack. Each song building on the tempo of the previous, each song propelling your forward until it explodes with Unto The Breach. 
The aforementioned Gone Cold cools us off long enough to catch our breath and begin the crazy ascent again with The Face, Book Saddle & Go, all they way through to the finale The Wolfman Kindly Requests… .
This is the only album I’ve given a 10 out of 10 on in a very long time. I don’t think last year’s number one album In This Moment’s Blood received 10 out of 10 from me (yeah I’m too lazy to look it up, it MAY have…) But that means out of all the albums released since THAT album dropped (we’re talking hundreds of albums people [ok thousands, but for all intents and purposes hundreds that would/could be worthy of being in my top 10]) only Earth Rocker has again received a perfect score. Hence the top spot this year.
Song of Note: Unto The Breach (but it is really hard with this album to pick just one song from)




So that’s my top 10… er… 13.
Almost. I decided to go to 13 this year because there were so many good albums I couldn’t stop at 10. I have one more I’d like to add, as an Honorable Mention. It was originally in my ‘long list’ of top 10 albums of the year. But once I finished compiling all the great albums released this year, it just wasn’t as strong as the rest of them. But after writing up my Best Of… list I couldn’t just let it go to waste. The material is that strong in my opinion. So here is the 13.5 Best Album of 2013.



Natalie MainesMother
natalie maines - motherSo I purchased Mother by Natalie Maines because, well, as a person and artist I respect who she is and what she has done (former Dixie Chicks), and I heard her perform the Pink Floyd cover on Howard Stern one day and loved it. She does a great job on the song keeping most of the original arrangement together in her version retaining the feel of debilitating maternal oppression while changing it up just enough with a glorious Hammond B organ to put her own mark on it.
I was excited to hear the rest of the album after about 5 spins of Mother alone. And came away pleasantly surprised. Between Mother, and her take on Jeff Buckley’s Lover You Should Have Come Over (back to back those two songs will push any mortal person so far into a melancholy stupor that you need to make sure there are no sharp objects near with which to slit ones wrist with) along with her original songs Free Life, Vein in Vain, and Take it on Faith one comes away from the album with the impression that Ms Maines is the perfect woman to compliment Morrissey. The two of them could crush the world with their combined melancholy and infinite sadness.
There are a couple of decent rockers on the album that harken to Bonnie Raitt just a little less bluesy.
Overall this is a great album. Skip past the opening track, and enjoy the hell out of an album that should have come packaged with it’s own razor blade to open your veins as the disc ends.
Song of Note: Mother (Duh)




Ok, as a chid raised on Thrash Metal in San Francisco I’d be ashamed if I didn’t address two great Thrash bands that released albums this year. Metal Church reformed this year and released Generation Nothing and Death Angel released The Dream Calls for Blood. I’d love to have included them in my list this year, but sadly, they just weren’t up to snuff for me. I really wanted Metal Church to come back strong and hard, and unforutnately Generation Nothing did just that for me… nothing.
Death Angel‘s release was a little better but the weakest album they’ve released in since they reunited a few years ago. Both albums are ‘by the numbers’ Thrash and that just isn’t good enough with all the great music out there today.
So kudos to Metal Church for reuniting and let’s hope they put out better stuff soon. And the same goes to Death Angel. I want to root for you guys, I want you to be huge, I want to be blown away by your stuff again. So please… let’s just do that in 2014 shall we?



ScorpionChildCDSCORPION CHILD


Scorpion Child


Nuclear Blast


10 out of 10






When was the last time a debut album topped your best of the year list?
When was the last time a debut album grabbed you by the balls and made you sit up and pay attention the first time it was played for you?
Well, that time is now, the band is Scorpion Child, and the album is their self titled debut album on Nuclear Blast.

Austin Texas has put out a ton of great bands in the last few years. Most notably The Sword (in my book anyway) and now another epic sounding band that reminds you of Led Zeppelin on steroids. I hate comparing any band to Zep but when the lead singer, Aryn Jonathan Black, sounds like a young hungry Robert Plant and the rest of the five piece band comes off as the be all end all of 70’s super groups it is very difficult to not make that comparison.

There seems to be a resurgence of that epic hard rock sound from the 70s coming back. I for one am all for it. But this is no novelty act. This is the music that could very well save Rock & Roll (and FUCK FALL OUT BOY for even tongue in cheek insinuating it could) and put it back in the forefront of popular music.

Part hard rock riffs, melodic rock vocals, prog rock noodling wall of sound, and psychedelic pop sensibilities Scorpion Child is is nothing short of mesmerizing. If there is a single flaw on the album it would be that there are only 9 songs on it. And in this day and age of bands rethinking the full length album and releasing two very strong songs with 10 cuts that are glorified b-sides, Scorpion Child comes out swinging for the moon with a full album of great songs that should put every band bemoaning the current state of the music industry on notice that if you put out a full length album of quality songs and not just filler that it will be received and heralded as a full length album worth owning and listening to in its entirety.

Scorpion Child doesn’t miss a beat here. There isn’t a bad song on this album.

If you don’t run out and purchase this right now… There is no hope for you or Rock & Roll. Because this is the PERFECT ROCK & ROLL ALBUM.

Go.
Get it.
You’ll thank me later.

And I predict this album will be on almost everyone’s top ten list and should be most of their #1 pick.




DEEP PURPLE
Perfect Strangers Live
Eagle Vision
DVD
8 out of 10 (Ritchie Blackmore‘s solos suck!)



In 1986 I saw the video for Knockin’ At Your Back Door on MTV. While most of the subtleties of all the double entendres for anal sex were lost on my 15 year old brain, the music captured my rapt attention. That was the first time I can remember heavy keyboards in hard rock music. I’m sure at some point prior I had heard Smoke on the Water and who knows what else by Deep Purple, but this was my first conscious exposure to them.

deep purple perfect strangers livePerfect Strangers remains my favorite Deep Purple album to date. I don’t know if it is because it’s the first time I heard them, or if it is because the album is utterly fantastic front to back. I don’t know, and don’t really care. It’s Deep Purple motherfucker… that’s all that is important.

The band has been releasing ridiculous amounts of live CDs and DVDs over the years, sometimes two or three a year. And this year we get a show from my favorite DP time period. The rebirth of the Mark II era. For those of you who don’t know there are somewhere around 1,452,994 versions of Deep Purple (or so it seems). So for all the various incarnations of members coming and going, the band has always differentiated it as Marks. Mark II is the version that originally released Deep Purple In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head, and Made In Japan. Ian Gillian and Roger Glover quit and the band moved on without them. This version featuring Ian Gillian, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, John Lord, and of course Ritchie Blackmore released Perfect Strangers, House of the Blue Light, and Nobody’s Perfect.

In 1984 Deep Purple‘s Perfect Strangers was released and in 1985 they hit the road starting in Australia. This concert, Perfect Strangers Live is the only film footage of that time period supposedly. And now Deep Purple fans can watch what is undoubtedly the best DP lineup perform one of their best set lists ever.

Having watched and heard many DP shows over the years (all the while never having actually seen them live yet grrrrrrr), I can honestly say, that this DVD shows the band at their all time best. I’ve seen official releases and bootlegs but none of them hold up to this show in terms of audio, set list, performance, compatibility (yes that’s an issue when watching DP shows because if Ritchie Blackmore is on stage then he’s usually pissed of or has pissed off someone else and it always comes out on stage whether he’s throwing dirty looks or glasses of liquid at fellow bandmates), and visual quality.

The band seems truly in tune with each other here. From John Lord and Ritchie trading ‘licks‘ on the keyboards and guitar, to John and Ian, even Roger and John riff together at times. It’s different, because usually a band will riff with the drummer keeping time, but in this case it’s usually with John who seems to be directing the show from his myriad of keys (don’t tell Ritchie though… I’m sure it’ll piss him off).

The set starts out with Highway Star and it’s a great way to begin any show. Fast paced, rollicking tempo, and the band rockets out of the gates. For the most part the entire first half of the show are all tracks taken from Perfect Strangers.

I’m going to piss off Ritchie again here… But I’ve never heard a worse guitar solo than the one he stumbles through an extended jam in the middle of Under The Gun. It doesn’t appear he was struggling or even mad at the end which would indicate he didn’t mean to play that poorly… And that 30 second may be why it’s taken almost 20 years for this footage to officially come out.

I keep coming back to it, but the setlist from this show is… well… for me the be all end all of DP setlists. We’re talking 5 tracks from Perfect Strangers, Lazy, Child in Time, Space Truckin, Speed King, and of course Smoke on the Water, with Difficult to Cure, Black Night, and the aforementioned Highway Star. Really the only song that would make this truly complete for me would be to include Burn. But that being David Coverdale‘s song… I understand why Ian didn’t include it in his shows.

The show is over 2 hours long and shitty Ritchie solos aside (Knockin’ at your Back Door‘s is a little lacking too) is definitely a must see/hear!

The DVD came out yesterday and you can pick it up now
RIGHT HERE!








STYX
Pier 6 Pavilion – Baltimore, MD
August 23, 2013
Review by Marcy J Royce

A beautiful warm evening in the port of Baltimore set the stage for one hell of a rock show. STYX was the main attraction with special guests REO SPEEDWAGON. These two veteran groups have been touring together at times for years yet this was the first time I’ve been able to attend the grand show. As I passed through the entrance I began to notice the main age group for this show. Surprisingly my age and at least 20 years older. Very cool! These bands still can draw a large crowd following and that makes me happy because many of the bands from the 80’s are still viable and can tour well.

It wasn’t long before I needed to prepare myself to photograph REO SPEEDWAGON. Their set was a perfect blend of the numerous radio hits they have built their reputation upon. The crowd was really into their set and sang along with most every song. I was pleased to photograph them.

Next up was the mighty STYX. I was very anxious to capture Tommy Shaw and James Young. But I want to tell you, all members were very interactive with the photogs this night as well as the fans. You knew exactly that they were looking at you and smiling, almost as if they were silently thanking you for being there at the show. Believe me, I was honored to be there. The set kicked off with Blue Collar Man, proving to be a crowd favorite from the get go. Then up a notch we went with Grand Illusion. Holy cow, what a start. The last song I photographed was Fooling Yourself. As the song neared the end, I took in the stage and the lighting one last time close up. Great setup with the LED screens that also provided a nice catwalk for the guys above the backline. Very nice. I collected my gear and made my way to the outside of the pavilion. This is when I really recognized and made a huge mental note to myself to include here just how clean, clear, and crisp the sound was. Each member was mixed perfectly and that is delightful. There are too many bands out there today that have poor mixes and crowd penetration. Kudos to the sound engineering for bring these guys out to the fullest potential of the venue. So, not only were STYX presented well via the audio, the lighting was spot on. I’m a visual person, and I really could appreciate as a fan the way everyone on stage was given great coverage. This also makes for better photos for me.

I took in each and every song, bit by bit. My favorite of the night came just before the encore; Too Much Time On My Hands. The crowd from the Pavilion to the lawn was totally engulfed and engaged. When the crowd blinder lights came on you could see the fans well and many hands were in the air and many were singing along at the top of their lungs. So great to see that years of appreciation for the band and their music was returned to them this night in Baltimore.

STYX Setlist for Pier 6 Pavilion in Baltimore, MD:
-Blue Collar Man
-Grand Illusion
-Fooling Yourself
-Lady
-Light Up
-Man In The Wilderness
-Miss America
-I’m Ok
-Crystal Ball
-Too Much Time On My Hands
-Medley: Tiny Dancer/You Can’t Always Get What You Want/Light My Fire/Black Dog/Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2/Fat Bottom Girls
-Come Sail Away
Encore
-Rockin’ The Paradise
-Renegade

One of the biggest highlights for me was Lawrence Gowan. WOW! Energy, enthusiasm, charisma, and strong presence made for quite the show. I found myself fixated many times on him. Love his full 180 degree keyboard. Close but not far behind was Tommy Shaw. Man, can that guy belt them out with precision and sound as great today as he did years ago. This is what it should be like for most lead vocals. Glad to see that Tommy takes care of his voice so well. And a depressing side note though: I didn’t stick around long enough after the show outside with other media friends and I TOTALLY MISSED Tommy coming out to meet and greet. My uber large loss. It would have been fantastic to have met him. Next time? And I do hope there is a next time!

Kudos to the great performance of STYX!

STYX consists of Chuck Panozzo (guest at shows on Bass), James Young (Guitar), Tommy Shaw (Guitar, Lead Vocals), Todd Sucherman (Drums), Lawrence Gowan (Keyboard, Lead Vocals), and Ricky Phillips (Bass).

Find STYX at:
Styx Website
Styx Facebook
Styx on YouTube

As always, a huge thank you to Amanda Cagan for arranging this opportunity for me and the away-team. You are the best of the best, dear. I absolutely love working with you.

SICK PUPPIES
The Chameleon Club – Lancaster, PA
August 10, 2013
Review by Marcy J Royce

This show was a long time coming for me. A few years ago I was all set to photograph and review the SICK PUPPIES at a venue in Baltimore, MD. However, they had to postpone their show and I couldn’t make the rescheduled date. So you see, this show was way overdue for me. Tri-Polar was the release I wanted to cover before, this time I got to cover Connect which was just release July 16, 2013.

sick-puppiesSince this was my first time seeing the SICK PUPPIES in concert, I was extra excited. I’ve always admired Emma and her superb attack on the bass. She makes that instrument sing and succumb to her. Her bass is definitely an extension of her being, I was just amazed to witness in person what I had only seen in videos prior. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself due to my enthusiasm. Let’s back up a bit. The vibe of this crowd was uncharacteristically calm when I entered the press pit. Boy was I fooled once the intro was set into motion. All of a sudden it became a polar opposite, they went nuts. The fans began working themselves into a fever that translated into high energy exchange once the band hit the stage. These are the times when I love to be in the press pit. Feeling that energy pass over me makes me so charged that I can’t help but get caught up in it. It’s very exhilarating.

The SICK PUPPIES are veterans of the stage since Emma and Shimon have been creating music together since 1997. They’ve had many years of experience to support their stand amongst their peers within their genre. Adding Mark to the mix a few years later proved to be the final piece that was needed to bring the band to a full compliment. Building on their deep rooted past, this trio has come to be known as a powerhouse, garnishing respect & praise from their counterparts. Something every band covets. And this band is very deserving of that admiration.

The set kicked off with Die To Save You, the first track off their new release. Very fitting to kick off this night. This song is just shy of four minutes, however each second has you in the paw of the Puppies. Shimon and Emma killed it on the vocals. WOW! This song is killer live! As the set progressed, the songs were a nice blend mostly of the Tri Polar album (2009) and the Dressed Up As Life Album (2007). Out of the 16 songs, 5 of them were from the new album Connect. The band mixed all of the fan faves in very nicely and much to the crowds delight. My time in the pit always goes so fast, trying to capture the essence of each member. I made my way to the wall in front of stage right. I wanted to take in the show with a different view. Song after song, the band delivered a solid, core engaging set. Shimon worked the crowd extremely well, especially at the beginning of Riptide. Each and every song they were dead on in their delivery lyrically and musically. Keeping with their successful formula that has been nurtured over the years of touring and honing themselves into what they are today as a touring band.

As the band excited the stage after Nothing Really Matters, the crowd craved more. They began chanting “one more song… one more song…” It wasn’t long before the Puppies came back to the stage. The biggest song of the night was saved for last, You’re Going Down. The crowd went crazy. I could barely hear the band vocals over the crowd as they sang violently along with each word, fists in the air and bouncing up and down. What a truly deserved send off for the SICK PUPPIES.

Then the mass onslaught happened to the merch area. Each person who bought the new cd this night was given a voucher to meet and greet with the band after the show and have their new copy of Connect personally signed. I watched as fans smiled from ear to ear, gaining those few moments with Shimon, Emma and Mark.

Make sure to go see the SICK PUPPIES when they come to your area.

Setlist for The Chameleon in Lancaster, PA
Die to Save You
Survive
Cancer
There’s No Going Back
Odd One
Riptide
Maybe
My World
Connect
War
Gunfight
Pitiful
Nothing Really Matters
Encore:
All The Same
Walking Away
You’re Going Down

SICK PUPPIES consists of Australian-bred Shim Moore on lead vocals and guitar, and Emma Anzai on bass and backing vocals. And Mark Goodwin rounds out the trio on drums.

Find SICK PUPPIES at:
The Sick Puppies Website
The Sick Puppies Facebook
Sick Puppies Myspace
Sick Puppies Twitter

Watch There’s No Going Back video:

Buy their cd at:
The Sick Puppies on Amazon

A huge thank you to Ken Phillips for arranging this opportunity for me and the away-team. A pleasure to work with you.

THE WINERY DOGS
The Chameleon Club – Lancaster, PA
August 4, 2013
Review by Marcy J Royce

It was not just another one of those shows. You know, the show where you walked in and knew what the night sorta would be like. I walked into The Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA with a completely open mind to this new powerhouse group dubbed THE WINERY DOGS.

When I told friends I was going to check out this new trio, they thought “oh yeah, you like wine and you like dogs… that’s why you’re going.” Well, not exactly. You see, I’m a child of 80’s and 90’s music and when you place these three heavy hitters in one solid band, it’s bound to be a match made in heaven. Yep, it sure was for me! The chemistry of Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, Billy Sheehan of Mr. Big, and Richie Kotzen of Poison/Mr. Big was completely revealed by the end of their set.

Winery Dogs

Winery Dogs

Their new self titled cd was released on July 23, 2013. And a tour followed suit to show how much these guys are going to grab the industry by the balls and rip up the stereotypes of their peers. THE WINERY DOGS jumpstarted their grip to visit the masses in July overseas. U.S. fans were rabid for them to return to our soil. When they did, the first place to feel the froth was New York City at the famed B.B. Kings. I knew some people who saw that show and had nothing but accolades for their performance. So I was ready to have my choker chain yanked by them.

As I readied myself to photograph these guys, the crowd and myself began to get really eager for the set to kick off with the stellar song, Elevate. Don’t for one darn minute let your mind think that these veterans of the stage would act their age. Sheehan was energetic and entertaining, smiling and engaging with the crowd constantly. Kotzen belted lyrics like they were home runs all the while nailing each note on his guitar. And Portnoy, well… Portnoy is Portnoy. If you know drummers you know what Portnoy can deliver. Hard hitting, solid delivery, high energy are key elements of what made me take notice early on. Portnoy also had superb engagement with fans this night from the first level all the way to the third level. With these three, the bark and the bite are equally enthralling.

Richie Kotzen

Richie Kotzen

Billy Sheehan

Billy Sheehan

Mike Portnoy

Mike Portnoy

These guys performed all the tracks from their debut album this night. That is what shined the most, the innovative presentation and the radio deserving songs that are sure to become quick hits. It’s raw, pure and exceptional rock and roll at its finest. No matter if the song was slow or fast tempo, each one left you toe tapping and head bopping leading you to want more and more. This is what true rock and roll is all about! All the songs left such an impression on me that I just couldn’t wait to listen to their cd again on my way home. The stage was set simplistically with their gear, a watered down version as to what I’m sure they are accustomed. All that doesn’t matter when you blend these three genre leaders into this group. The technical superiority just takes center stage. While the lighting is not impressive at this venue, I captured the essence of each member. Check out my photos: THE WINERY DOGS Photos

As I traveled home listening to their cd, I paired my visual memory of the show with each track I heard. A joy to relive the entire night. I’ve reviewed and photographed many bands in my last few years with away-team.com and I can honestly say that THE WINERY DOGS are in my top 5 bands to go see again and again. I say with conviction they are the remedy to what needs to be in today’s music. Melding past with present, lyrically and musically. A strong backbone fused with melodical mastery.

I already know that they are booked on the 2014 Monsters Of Rock Cruise. And I just know, without a single doubt in my mind, this tantalizing trio WILL BE the group that everyone will be talking about. But why wait until next year??? Check their schedule for the city nearest to you AND GO!!! Case in point: I have a friend in radio and she and I were talking about this show and she told me a venue near her inquired to her about these guys. Asking her what her opinion was about them, could he get enough people to fill his place. Emphatically I exclaimed “HELL YES!” She asked her listeners via Facebook if they would attend THE WINERY DOGS show. An overwhelming amount said yes. This may very well be the beginning of a “Dog Domination.” (They can quote me on that in the future, lol).

Setlist for Lancaster:
Elevate
Criminal
We Are One
One More Time
Time Machine
Damaged
Six Feet Deeper
Drum Solo
The Other Side
Bass Solo
You Saved Me
Not Hopeless
Stand (Poison cover)
You Can’t Save Me
Shine (Mr Big Cover)
I’m No Angel
The Dying
Regret
Encore:
Fooled Around & Fell In Love (Elvin Bishop Cover)
Desire

Find THE WINERY DOGS at:
The Winery Dogs Website
The Winery Dogs Facebook

Watch Elevate video:

Buy their cd at:
The Winery Dogs on Amazon

A huge thank you to my gal Amanda for this opportunity involving me and the away-team. She’s my go-to gal for so much.

The Winery Dogs-Album Cover

 

The Winery Dogs

 

The Winery Dogs

 

Loud & Proud Records

 

Rating: 11 out of 10

 

Release Date: 7/23/13

Yes, you did read that right, 11 out of 10, we broke the scale on this one!  The word triumvirate is often defined as a “rule of three”, in this case it’s “three that rule”.  Guitarist and vocalist Ritchie Kotzen (Mr. Big/Poison), bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big), and drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater/Avenged Sevenfold) have long been considered three of the finest at their respective crafts, so it’s no surprise that when their talents collide we are left with nothing less than an Album of the Year contender.

From the opening riff of “Elevate”, you realize that this is going to be one of those albums where one can’t help but “feel” the music.  A blues rooted rocker with a hint of Nugent-meets-Wolfmother, this opening track is just a pre-cursor of what’s to come.  From “Desire” to “The Other Side” to “Regret”, the entire album is riddled with screaming, yet soulful guitar, pulse-pounding drums, killer vocals,  and bass lines that would make Geddy Lee blush!

With such a great collection of musical genius, it’s hard to pick a favorite.  There are, however, some highlights that cannot go unmentioned.  One such highlight is “The Other Side”, which begins with Portnoy’s drums launching into a finger bleeding bass line from Sheehan, climaxing with Kotzen’s guitar solo, at which point he releases inner Eddie Van Halen.  

Kotzen then takes that same style and melds it into “One More Time”.  Yet another reminder that these guys are a force to be reckoned with, this track bears hints of Eric Johnson meets Van Halen’s “Eruption”. On the track “Six Feet Deeper” Portnoy’s drumming channels the spirit of the late, great, John Bonham. “Damaged” and “Not Hopeless” are two more favorites of mine that highlight just how much Kotzen’s voice sounds like that of one of rock’s greatest voices, Chris Cornell.

Perhaps the coolest song on the album is “Time Machine”.  This track has a conceptual feel to it, in that it begins sounding very much like a modern day Alice In Chains tune, and transforms as we travel time, into some good old fashioned 80′s guitar power rock!  Last, but certainly not least, the album culminates with “Regret”; a true blues based rock track that summons the air guitar and serves as a reminder that “blues gave birth to rock ‘n roll”, making our only regret not pressing the “Repeat All” button.

Every album has one or two band members on it that truly stand out, but The Winery Dogs smash that theory to pieces with their debut album.  If you love blues-based power rock, July 23rd should be like Christmas morning for audiophiles everywhere.  Hands down, the best album of 2013!!!

What are you waiting for??? Click here to pre-order The Winery Dogs debut album, and find out when they’ll be coming to your town to blow your mind in person!

PAPA ROACH
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Rams Head Live, Baltimore, MD

Review and Photos  by Marcy J Royce

BANG! Right out of a canon. PAPA ROACH stormed the stage with a vengeance. The electricity was high in Rams Head Live this night. Otherwise started the fever, Escape The Fate started the frothing, then PAPA ROACH grabbed the horns and took off. With every word of the chorus, “Burn… Burn… Burn!” the crowd chanted and fist pumped along with every word. Jacoby Shaddix had taken a early command of the crowd. And rightfully so with his intense energy and belted lyrics. He brought you straight to the top. But not to worry, the entire band was on fire right with him. It was like the entire stage was on fire, they couldn’t stay in one place for more than a few seconds. The entire venue was in full force rock out mode. Wow, time for me to hang on for the ride in the pit as the energy was thrown back and forth like kettle bells. The only problem that confronted me was the difficulty capturing each member in one place for even a second. I was on my toes keeping up!

PAPA ROACH

As Burn ended, To Be Loved took off. Same feverish crowd growing more hungry for every line of the song. Singing along as loudly as they could. Man, the fans were stoked for PAPA ROACH to be in Baltimore! As To Be Loved ended, Jacoby shouted at the crowd in the back about just standing there. He said, “Let’s F*#$in’ Do This!” And the crowd went wild. I smiled from ear to ear knowing that this lead singer was serious about each person in attendance being in the palm of his hand, firmly gripped to ride the rock out. I LOVE a frontman like that. Command a crowd early on and never wanting to let them go. And the crowd willingly followed. Halfway through the song Jacoby knew he had them. What a rush to see it all go down.

As I exited the pit the bass started and caught me at the beginning of Alive. I usually head for higher ground but this time I found a spot right away o n the floor and turned to watch the song and the crowd. Found myself bopping along. Really digging this tune. Then halfway through the song Jacoby jumped into the crowd just at the barrier. Girls squealed with delight. And he never broke stride with the lyrics. Arms and camera were everywhere.

PAPA ROACH

Silence Is The Enemy from their new release, The Connection, was next. Jacoby had the crowd jumping and clapping. I really enjoyed hearing this song live for the first time. Great riffs, few hooks, great bass, pounding drums. This was my first time seeing PAPA ROACH live. I’ve viewed them many times online. I have many of their cds. And my first live exposure to them lived up to my expectations. And them some. These guys are high energy every step of the way. From beginning to end. They are tight and dead on with every song.

And as I look back on this hot & heavy rock n roll night, I can honestly say it was hit after hit, even the new songs, and the crowd was fantastic and they never fatigued. They were roused the entire set. PAPA ROACH gives a great performance. One that I would assuredly want to see again and again.

Set list for PAPA ROACH: Burn, To Be Loved, Getting Away With Murder, Alive, Silence Is The Enemy, Forever, Before I Die, Blood Brothers, Give Me Back My Life, Angels & Insects, Angels Go, Still Swingin, Scars, Lifeline, Dead Cell, Last Resort

For more info on PAPA ROACH including tour dates, tickets, media, merchandise, and bios, visit http://paparoach.com/

I want to give a big shout out to Carise for making this opportunity happen for me and the Away-Team. Thanks!

 

merciless book of metal listsMERCILESS BOOK OF METAL LISTS


Howie Abrams and Sacha Jenkins


Abrams Publishing


8 out of 10



So I’m sitting in a hotel room in the middle of BFE Indiana and I’ve just received a book to review called The Merciless Book of Metal Lists.

My first thought is what kind of bullshit can this be? A whole book of nothing but lists? I’m thinking it’s going to be somewhere just north of ‘That Metal Show’s Top 5 bullshit list to kill 5 minutes and not actually make a statement‘ lists. I was wrong. It is actually a fairly well put together book about metal that just happens to be in list form. I mean, who needs to write out all their thoughts with nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, conjunctions, complex sentences, and shit? Just think of a snappy title, and throw 5 to 10 items under it, and voila you have you own list of crap that hopefully someone else finds insightful or amusing, and in the best cases… both!

The latter is where this book sits. It has two authors but the key to the success of the whole book is that the lists within aren’t just from them. Flemming Rasmussen (Producer on 2.5 Metallica albums) has a couple of lists (Kill Em All Vs Ride The Lightning Vs Master of Puppets, Vs …And Justice for All), Kerry King writes the forward and Phil Anselmo writes the Afterword and there are a host of other contributors.

Sticking with the Metallica theme, one of the best lists in the book (though I disagree with it 100%) is ‘The Very Best Qualities Of METALLICA’S Load and Reload Albums‘. And the entire page is blank. If you don’t get it, then this book isn’t for you.

It’s hard to argue with a book. I mean, all lists are just opinions and opinions are assholes and assholes smell to high heaven. Well, that’s not quite right. It’s hard to argue with a book of lists, though it can be thought provoking at times, it can also be nothing but shit stirring. Which isn’t a bad thing, but reading it, in said hotel room, in said BFE, Indiana, I had no one to argue the finer merits of the 20 Greatest Metal Voices (Manowar’s Eric Adams is #4? Really? Above Geoff Tate and King Diamond? Above the likes of John Bush and Cory Taylor? Bullocks I say. Pure rubbish!

But that’s the point of this isn’t it? To get you thinking, to enlighten you just a bit, and to get you and your friends with a few cold beers to discuss and dissect meaningless things like ‘Rob Halford‘s lyrics re-examined‘ or ‘Paul Baloff‘s Stage Banter‘.

The Merciless Book of Metal Lists is just that. Merciless and Metal. That being said, you can go get your copy HERE or HERE, you’ll thank me later.




ROB HALFORD’S LYRICS RE-EXAMINED:
1. “yoU’Ve GoT ANoTheR ThING ComIN’
I’m callin’ all the shots / I got an ace card comin’ down on the rocks
Rob’s like, “Shut up bitch—I’m the top here, and I’m gonna pound you until my load drips down your balls!”
2. “BReAKING The LAw
Nobody cares if I live or die / So I might as well begin to put some action in my life
Obviously Rob feels alienated because his friends refuse to accept his lifestyle, so he hops a bus to San Francisco to get laid.
3. “LIVING AfTeR mIDNIGhT
I’m all geared up to score again, loaded, loaded / I come alive in the neon light
Rob seems to not have gotten any in a while, so during a visit to Amsterdam, he hits the Red Light District in search of a Dutch stallion.
4. “hoT foR LoVe
I can’t shake you off / You’re a wolf on the prowl
As he stated in “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” Rob fancies himself a pitcher, although as evidenced by this here passage, he doesn’t necessarily mind role-playing as Yogi Berra now and again.
5. “RoCK hARD RIDe fRee
Get a grip on the action / Moving heaven and earth
Really . . . Who DOESN’T like some nice hand release???
6. “Some heADS ARe GoNNA RoLL
If the man with the power / Can’t keep it under control / Some heads are gonna roll
If this isn’t the perfect slogan for premature ejaculators, we don’t know what is!
7. “New BeGINNINGS
A new beginning has arrived / At the crossroads of my life / This new love keeps me alive
Finally, Rob Halford finds himself free from the shackles of discrimination and prejudice. Homophobia is fucked up and wrong. All due respect to a true Metal pioneer.



Device-ST CoverDevice

Device

Warner Bros. Records

Rating: 9 out of 10

Release Date: 4/9/13

 

 

 

 

 

When Disturbed frontman David Draiman stamps his name on something one can’t help but take notice.  Armed with a plethora of superstar cameos, the debut album from Draiman’s latest incarnation Device is one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year.  What you are about to read may do nothing to curb that anticipation.

The album kicks off with the tracks “You Think You Know” and “Penance”, two songs that, upon first listen, scream Disturbed.  After a familiar introduction, you do indeed think you know, but the first single “Villify”, a microcosm of the entire album, reminds us that this is a different animal.  You see, many a closed-minded critic has said ”Oh this is just another Disturbed album.”, but upon further listen you realize it has just enough subtle difference to distinguish itself.  Think the difference between Nickelback and Theory of a Deadman, except with some actual real talent and appeal!  Actually forget I said that, those two don’t even belong in the same conversation.  The point I’m trying to make is… you can’t expect someone with such a distinct voice and styling as Draiman to completely abandon his identity just to say he did so.  I mean, did Ozzy completely abandon who he was when he left Black Sabbath?  Exactly.  In fact that is probably the best comparison that can be made.  Ozzy left the slightly mellower, but still rockin’, Black Sabbath and found his inner madman; Draiman makes the return trip and leaves the madman behind, and finds his inner Sabbath on this album.

Appropriately enough, that brings me to two of the album’s highlights.  The first is a duet with Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), a brilliant departure from the norm, in which they cover the Ozzy/Lita classic “Close My Eyes Forever”.  Lest we forget about the Black Sabbath reference, in comes Geezer Butler to team up with Serj Tankian (System of a Down) on the politically driven “Out of Line”.  In sticking with the political theme, the party would not be complete without the help of one of the greatest guitarists of our time, Tom Morello, lending his unique styling to “Opinion”. 

As if that wasn’t enough, the album’s two closers are perhaps it’s pinnacle.  M Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold) lends his voice alongside Draiman’s to create the beautifully haunting, dark melody that is “Haze”; preparing us for the curtain call that is “Through It All”.  A stirring ballad featuring Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/Black Country Communion) that virtually hypnotizes the finger and has you pressing “Repeat All” before you know what happened.

All in all, the debut album from Device is an instant candidate for Album of the Year, and will make even the most rabid of Disturbed fans forget about their hiatus, and beg for the next Device album.  This album comes VERY highly recommended, and if you don’t pick it up this Tuesday you might just be “Disturbed”!

For more Device, including Tour Dates and to pre-order the album visit the band’s Official Website here.

 

TOM KEIFER
Thursday, February 28, 2013
House Of Rock, White Marsh, MD

Photos by Marcy J Royce
Review by Marcy J Royce

This was 10 years in the making. A solo tour for TOM KEIFER that didn’t seem to come easy. And as the saying goes, much “blood, sweat and tears” were the building blocks to what the fans experienced this night at The House Of Rock. To me, it was almost an epic evening.

This venue is a place where I’ve been several times before. However I was not prepared for the over abundance of attendees. This place was packed! Just goes to show you the man has a devout following. And can pull huge crowds into smaller, more intimate venues. The fans could get quite close to the stage since there was not the typical barricade. This presented me with a challenge to capture those photos I wanted, ones that would convey TOM KEIFER‘s more personal side. I’m a short gal and always seem to encounter those tall people. This night was about to be a lucky night for me.

TOM KEIFER

I eased my way into a spot during the opening band. I was just 2-3 people deep from the stage. There was no way I was going to get any closer. There were swooning women in front of me who paid extra cash for VIP and earned their place against the stage. I was lucky in part to the fact these women were my height or smaller. Hallelujah! I wouldn’t have to bob-n-weave, just make sure I didn’t bonk them on the head with my lens. The wait seemed to take forever as I heard several people to my left discuss. It was a 40 minute lull until a local radio jock introduced Tom. She gave him the best introduction, really showing how she felt he was the “heart and soul, the voice, the founder, the guitarist, the keyboardist, the voice of Cinderella… TOM KEIFER!” The crowd was so ready to get this set rolling. As Tom approached the front of the stage he looked around briefly at what Baltimore was about to give him this night. The screams were loud from those pumped-up people.

Kicking off the night with Sick For The Cure proved to be a great choice. I was happy to see that Tom was backed with a fully talented band that produced a great sound complimenting the Cinderella songs superbly. The set was peppered with Cinderella hits but this tour brought out Tom’s solo work beautifully. I previously sampled The Flower Song online and liked what I heard. To hear the entire song was great. The meaning behind the lyrics was explained by Tom and he dedicated the song to his wife Savannah. She actually joined him & the band on stage for at least 3 songs. He also gave her huge credits to helping him co-write many songs from the forthcoming cd release. She also had a hand in co-producing them.

I wasn’t sure how the flow of the set was going to be, I drove there thinking it may be totally acoustic. It turned out to be a nice blend of electric and acoustic, the flow of the songs proved to be a recipe for success. Now, any Cinderella fan was eager for each Cinderella song. Each Cinderella song was met with over-the-top enthusiasm. And most people may have been these solely for those. But if that’s the only reason they came then they missed out. Tom’s superb talent as a singer-songwriter-guitarist shown brightly in the songs he played this night from the upcoming cd. I am more anxious now for the release on April 30 titled The Way Life Goes. It will contain 14 new songs swirling with rock, blues and country. Part of Tom roots for sure. The Flower Song single was released February 4 and the next single, Solid Ground, will be released on March 5. Both these releases were in the set and I took keen notice and dissected them. I was enamored by both.

TOM KEIFER

After the end of Cold Day In Hell, I wanted to switch vantage points and made my way around the room to stage left. As I walked to the back of the room to circle around, I stopped. I took in the vibe of the fans and the energy. I found myself closing my eyes to soak it all in as Don’t Know What You Got (till its gone) played. It’s one of those songs that reminds me of losing someone I loved so dearly to cancer at a very young age. My baby brother. I know the lyrics are not meant for that type of relationship but I took for granted he would be here until we were old and gray. The chorus is really what makes me thinks of our relationship. Feeling like I did something wrong that he was taken from my life so soon. Ah well, enough of that. I got to the front row at stage left and by the middle of Coming Home. I readied my smartphone to capture Shelter Me. You can see it below.

 

 

The night came to a close with Gypsy Road. The fans went crazy. It was truly a special night. I am happy I was able to witness this first leg of Tom’s solo tour.

Set list included:
Sick For The Cure
Ain’t That A Bitch
A Different Light
Shake Me
Ask Me Yesterday
The Flower Song
One For Rock And Roll
Solid Ground
Cold Day In Hell
Don’t Know What You Got (till it’s gone)
Coming Home
Shelter Me

Encore:
Little Help From My Friends
Gypsy Road

Once again, my girl Amanda of ABR made this night happen for me and the Away-Team. You’re the best, always!

 

 

SHINEDOWN
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Sovereign Center, Reading, PA

Photos by Marcy J Royce
Review by Marcy J Royce

A grand opportunity was given to me to photograph one of my ultimate and favorite bands. I wanted to venture to a new venue for me, the Sovereign Center in Reading, PA to see how this SHINEDOWN show would be. Well, no matter what venue you see these guys in, it’s a stellar show. No fan left this show disappointed. The amount of vigor displayed by the crowd was immense. But wait just a minute, I’m getting ahead of myself again by the excitement of the night. Time to rewind…

The day before the show I was preparing myself to make sure I captured every moment I could. I’m weird like that. I look for patterns, lighting, and distinct moments I don’t want to miss. I did some online research and found a surprise. The surprise was great for the fans but a little less great for us photogs going into the pit. We would only be able to capture 2-1/2 songs instead of our normal 3 songs. So I knew I had to make my time count since approximately 3 minutes was going to be shaved off my time. The night was to be kicked off at FOH with the song Enemies from the 2012 Amaryllis cd release. What a great idea! The fans towards the middle and the back of the Sovereign Center were given a nice little treat. They went crazy seeing Brent, Eric and Zach closer than they thought they would. Halfway through the song, the music hesitated as the guys made their way up the side barricade and back onto the stage. Once they started on stage we were released to enter the pit and get to shooting. My adrenaline was pumping. It was amazing to see the huge show production at stage left and  back towards back stage (that is where we were instructed to wait until they released us). Being married to a lighting director for another band had me evaluating all that equipment that I usually only see in his lighting magazine.

I felt like I was shot from a gun once I began shooting in the pit. And then the pryo onstage pleasantly surprised me. The last part of Enemies was amazing. The intense energy only made me feel like I was levitating. It’s one of the reasons I love shooting live performances. The intense, raw energy make me feel like I’m on top of the world. SHINEDOWN was about to kick my ass those first three songs as a photographer first, and second as a fan. Next up in the set was Devour and Unity. Devour is one of those pumping songs with such great guitar leads, riffs, bass and drums. It’s one of the reasons I use this song for my ab workouts. I was all over the place trying to capture all the guys. However, I do know that Brent is such a powerful and deliberate frontman that his place is solid on his center stage box. I got some great shots! Check them here: SHINEDOWN PHOTOS from February 17, 2013 in Reading, PA

Unity was the next song to kick me in the ass. The entire Amaryllis cd  is killer, it continues to be one of my favorite SHINEDOWN releases. As the intro began, the crowd became like a rabid dog. Pure energy started exploding from every direction. I could just feel the intensity of it all. Loving every second. Holy balls, it was intense. If any fan didn’t become swept up into the wave you shouldn’t have been there. I could see immediately how tight the band was with each other and the crowd. These guys certainly know how to make each fan feel like they are there performing just for them. Good interaction and eye contact everywhere, all night.

SHINEDOWN

As I took my place in the back of the GA section behind FOH, I really began to take in the phenomenal light show paired with the awesome sound mix. Stellar and impressive. Great talent in the crew. For the rest of the show I stayed firmly planted in my floor spot. Each and every song I evaluated and dissected. SHINEDOWN’s drive, determination, and raging desire to be the best they can be surely showed in this performance. Brent’s vocals were dead on, strongly delivered, and he never waivered the entire night. He is one of the best when it comes to vocals of a frontman. Barry pounded those drums with fever, delivering heart pounding beats from beginning to end with a huge smile constantly. Eric was a monster on the bass. And Zach was steller. Both Eric and Zach were like energizer bunnies, running around that stage without any indication that batteries were running low. I’m sure many of you attending concerts have had some disappointment with how the songs sound live compared to a cd. Well, that was not the case with SHINEDOWN.

SHINEDOWN

One thing that has continued to be evident to me about Brent Smith: I could see just how much he has continued his physical regime. It shows. I follow him on Twitter. Looks better, feels better, and the tons of swooning women were delighted. His delivery, his power, his intensity… he may not move like Mick Jagger but man o’ man, is he a powerful singer. I could watch him belt it out days on end. I often compare other vocalists to him in my own mind. Someday I’d love to have an one-on-one, in-person interview with him. So many questions, so little time… HA HA! He has come so far as a singer-songwriter in these past years. Oh, but just to dream is enough.

As I left the Sovereign Center, I was feverishly reviewing in my head  the show that memories are made from. I kept playing it over and over again in my head. I did capture a video of Amaryllis on my smartphone from where I was standing most of the show. See it below:

All the above means you must just go see them for yourself. I promise you, 100%, that you will not regret spending your hard earned cash to see one of the premier bands of this time. True musicians doing what they love. And excelling at it.

To say the least, SHINEDOWN is one of my go-to bands for many reasons. Live show is priceless. Songs are crafted and meaningful. Energy is high and unrelenting. And many of their songs I use for motivation and for life experiences. Now go check out SHINEDOWN’s website, www.shinedown.com, for information on music, videos, photos, bio and also where their next tour date is near you. Because you MUST GO! You will be disappointed if you don’t see them. I know I would have been.

Setlist for this night:
Enemies (Amaryllis)
Devour (Sound Of Madness)
Unity (Amaryllis)
The Crow & Butterfly (Sound Of Madness)
Save Me (Us & Them)
I’ll Follow You (Amaryllis)
Diamond Eyes (single)
If You Only Knew (Sound Of Madness)
Amaryllis (Amaryllis)
45 (Leave A Whisper)
Encore:
Sound Of Madness (Sound Of Madness)
Second Chance (Sound Of Madness)
Medley of Covers including:
She Talks To Angels, Over The Hills & Far Away, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Enter Sandman, Stairway to Heaven, Wanted Dead or Alive
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Bully (Amaryllis)

I want to give a big shout out to Kelly McWilliam for making this opportunity happen for me and the Away-Team. You rock, my dear. Always a pleasure to work with you.

 

SEVENDUST
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA

Review & photos by Marcy J Royce

High anticipation is the best way to describe the days leading up to SEVENDUST invading South Central PA on this frigid night in February. I learned in November of last year the gritty, hard rocking guys would be making a stop in Lancaster on their new tour in support of their March 26, 2013 release of their 9th studio CD, Black Out The Sun.

Sevendust Black Out The Sun Album Cover

Just three shows in to this tour and its brilliantly evident the new release is gonna soar to new heights. And rightfully so! Black Out The Sun is KILLER! And when SEVENDUST performs, you stand up and take notice. I’ve been afforded the honor and rare opportunity to preview the new album. I can tell you this, YOU WILL WANT TO PREORDER THIS BABY! I’ve already chosen quite a few tracks as my faves. The first pick for me is Decay, which kicked off the set this night. I was very pleased as I feel that song is definitely a show stopper and a show starter all wrapped up into one integrated package. Another pick for me is the only other song from Black Out The Sun to appear in the set this early on in the tour, Till Death. WOW! Just wow. I have two other picks from the new CD but will not spoil the surprise for you since they were not in the set. You’ll just have to get the CD. (insert evil grin here, ha ha!)

Someone I know asked me at the show to describe how I felt Black Out The Sun compared to the previous 2010 release of Cold Day Memory. I told him this… it grabs you hard, and hits you square in the chest, it will knock you flat on your ass. It’s harder, it’s darker, it’s packed full of melodies, grit, and riffs. It also has a  mellow, soothing, mood- invoking tendency. It runs the gamut and blankets everything in a way that’s so poetic. I’m really excited for the masses to lay their mitts on this CD. It’s one for the record books. He and I exchanged stories about SEVENDUST before I had to excuse myself to take my place firmly in the pit. My anticipation was about to go full tilt.

RP-Sevendust-8059

You see, SEVENDUST is one of those bands that really sets the bar very high for their counterparts in their genre. And even for themselves. They are one of those bands you must see live. If you think their music is riveting listening to it on your MP3 player, in your car, at home, just about anywhere… you haven’t experienced all that encompasses the full circle of these guys. You will see what I mean at your first show, your fifth show, your fiftieth show. They deliver the goods solidly each and every time. It’s a WYSIWYG type of thing. They truly are themselves on the stage, they truly love what they do and it extends off the edge of the stage right to the fans. Case in point, Lajon signed something for a fan from the stage and Morgan threw out many a drumsticks. I even think a few picks made it to mid floor. SEVENDUST is truly a fans band with the fans eating it up. There is no way you will ever be disappointed. I personally guarantee it.

RP-Sevendust-8065

As I stood there moments before the action ride of my life, I peeked at the set list taped to the stage floor. Yowza!!! These electrified fans were going to go ballistic. Their set was everything I had hoped it would be. Energizing, intense, loud, raw and mind-blowing. From the very first song, Decay (from Black Out The Sun) to the last song, Face To Face (from Seasons), they certainly delivered the hard edge goods. As I exited the pit to stage right, I absorbed the charged atmosphere. The exchange of energy between SEVENDUST and the crowd is one of the reasons I love photographing live musicians. It’s a feeling like none other. I couldn’t help but raise my camera in the air to capture the crowd. They were being worked into frenzy by each member of the band.

RP-Sevendust-8130

SEVENDUST has an appetite for pure domination of their genre and their music proves that they are one of the most powerful bands out there. They have been around since 1994 and have perfected their craft. They’ve taken the good and the bad of the last 19 years and have risen to be the best of the best.

Set list this night included:

Decay (Black Out The Sun, 2013)
Praise (Animosity, 2001)
Denial (Home, 1999)
Ugly (Next, 2005)
Bitch (Sevendust, 1997)
Trust (Animosity, 2001)
Angel Son (Animosity, 2001)
Waffle (Home, 1999)
Strong Arm Broken  (Cold Day Memory, 2010)
Till Death (Black Out The Sun, 2013)
Pieces (Next, 2005)
The End Is Coming (Cold Day Memory, 2010)
Splinter (Cold Day Memory, 2010)
Face To Face (Seasons, 2003)

SEVENDUST is truly one of THE BEST bands I’ve ever seen live. And I cannot wait to see them again! If this Black Out The Sun tour finds its way anywhere near you – GO! Don’t hesitate, don’t delay. Don’t think twice. There simply is no reason to not see them live. Their power will overtake you and make you want more and more. Just maybe arm yourself with earplugs, these guys are loud and proud. Just the way I like it.

Huge shout out to my girl Amanda, of SEVENDUST’s PR team, for making this amazing opportunity happen for me and the Away-Team. You’re the best, girl!

Check out everything SEVENDUST at www.sevendust.com
Follow SEVENDUST on Twitter: twitter.com/sevendust
Like SEVENDUST on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Sevendust/25493613958
And SEVENDUST on MySpace: www.myspace.com/sevendust
See SEVENDUST photos on their official flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/sevendust
Visit SEVENDUST videos on their official YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/officialsevendust

HINDER
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA

Review by Marcy J Royce

Being that HINDER was formed in 2001, their newest release is just their fourth. Welcome To The Freakshow hit stores & iTunes officially on Tuesday, December 4. Only 8 days before I was to catch their live show at The Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA.

I bought my physical copy of the cd and began my dissection of the tracks. Almost immediately I was drawn to a few songs including Save Me, See You In Hell, and Wanna Be Rich. Probably because all three sound familiar, sound akin musically, and most like what I’ve come to associate with what HINDER is to me. Don’t get me wrong, this cd is definitely more diverse and a bit darker lyrically. Still there are 2 “radio worthy” tracks that should get some airplay.

But hey, that’s just my take. Get your own copy and see for yourself. I think you’ll really get into the cd.

This post-grunge, alternative metal/rock band sure does have a lot to offer and are nowhere near the end of what their potential holds. Last time I caught these guys was in the summer of 2011 when they were touring on the All American Nightmare release. It was sweltering in the Pennsylvania summer and HINDER turned the knob to MELTING that night in July. So my expectations seeing the guys this time, almost 18 months later, was very high. And let me say this… AUSTIN, CODY, JOE, MARK and MIKE DELIVERED IT like an overnight priority package. Fulfilled every expectation and even took it up a notch. Their live show is something to see. And even though the weather outside was so cold, the great mass assembled inside was feverishly hot and almost rabid at the midway point. The staff actually had to disseminate the revelry that escalated into a fight. This is one time I was glad I was plastered against the wall, out of harms way.

Of course my night started in the press/photo pit for the first 3 songs. As I stand in waiting for HINDER, I took in all the extra lighting they brought. They brought it last time and it helped their show in this small, sparsely lit venue. I usually fight for acceptable photos in this place. So view my photos to see how I did with HINDER‘s added light show. The fans directly behind the barricade, all the way across the front row, were avid fans. I know this because the only other photog this night was being repeatedly asked to move to they could see and the show hadn’t even started yet. And apparently someone was motioning that they were gonna spill their beer on me to get me to move. Thank goodness my hubs alerted me so that I could move a bit. These fans were dead serious about their HINDER affliction.

HINDER kicked off the set with 2 Sides of Me (All American Nightmare), Up All Night (Take It To The Limit), and Use Me (Take It To The Limit). Pure energy just rolled from the stage. I love the rush, it’s almost like a drug. I did fall prey to Austin’s spitting however. But that’s ok, I got a killer shot of him in the process.   As I moved strategically back and forth in the pit I couldn’t help to look around from crowd to stage and back again. HINDER had this crowd in a firm grip. Austin does quite well working his frontman status to capture those fans in an almost hypnotic state. Sometimes the crowd was singing along so loud that I had a bit of a time hearing Austin belt out each word.

The set list for this night was:
2 Sides of Me
Up All Night
Use Me
What Ya Gonna Do
Save Me
See You In Hell (also see my video below)
Hey Ho
Better Than Me
How Long
Shoulda Known Better
Homecoming Queen
Lips of an Angel
All American Nightmare
Talk To Me
Use Me
Put That Record On
Get Stoned

I was quite pleased with the mix of songs. The new ones mixed into all the fan favorite hits. Here’s my video of the new “See You In Hell”. Best I could do from my position plastered to the wall.

What a great night HINDER provided to their fans. Once again I was very pleased with what I saw, heard, and felt on this return trip to Lancaster. Hurry back boys. I’ll be sure to come see you again!

Check out everything HINDER at www.hindermusic.com.

Thanks and a shout out to Nina from HINDER‘s PR team for arranging this opportunity for myself and the away-team. You’re a doll!

THE DOORS


Live at the Bowl ‘68


Blu Ray


Eagle Vision


6 out of 10




I have never seen a decent version of a Doors concert, and being a fan of a lot of their stuff (Ok, so their 2 CD Best Of is always in heavy rotation but never got into a full album of theirs), I was excited to hear of this show getting a proper release and modern treatment.

In fact it dawned on me as I was watching it that the show I was watching/hearing probably sounded 100 times better than what the crowd heard on July 5, 1968 at the Hollywood Bowl. The 5.1 mastering sounds superb, and may very well be the best I’ve ever heard The Doors.

Having been listening to The Doors for the later part of 25 years I can’t believe it never occurred to me that they didn’t have a bassist! As I watched the show, it hit me about two songs in; there is no bassist on stage. So I had to do some research to figure out what was going on, and Ray Manzarek was credited with playing the ‘keyboard bass’ as well as the keyboards. So presumably he had a loop going of a bass line for the songs.

If you’ve seen the movie The Doors then you’ve probably seen a more energetic and charismatic version of Jim Morrison then you will on this disc. The first time he really seems to come alive was during Light My Fire when he begins screaming at the crowd after the lengthy jam and before they reel it back in to the last refrain.

The band is ridiculously good. Even when they breakdown into the extended jams they still hold it all together tightly and don’t lose you as they nod out and let the music take over.

I’ve never really understood the fascination with him; I mean he is almost revered as a demi-god by many. And after seeing this show, I understand it even less.

Morrison never seems to actually ‘be’ there. And his between song banter, or poetry slam, just leaves you scratching your head. Right, so it leaves ME scratching my head, point taken.

I know he was phobically afraid of crowds and the stage fright was crippling to him. And only being three years into the band when this concert was filmed may be a big part of this, but his eyes are closed through 80 percent of the show, and he moves very little (which is true for the entire band, yes a keyboardist and drummer can’t really move around too much, I get that) but he and Robby Krieger aren’t the most energetic on stage.

The execution during The Unknown Soldier is gripping and Jim’s vocals throughout the entire show are great. What he lacks in on stage charisma he more than makes up for vocally.

Some songs are difficult to pull off live, and you would think that an epic song such as The End would be almost impossible to make work in a live situation. Especially during the 60s and 70s when everyone was always sitting down because there were no arenas at the time just large theaters with seats. But damned if The End wasn’t as strong live as the recorded version. And yes, live it is still chilling and enthralling.

The extras on the Blu Ray are worth the price of admission alone. Two mini documentaries on the show at the Bowl as well as an in depth look at how the film was restored and remastered for this release are included with three bonus performances.

THE DOORS Live at the Bowl ’68 is out now on DVD, Blu Ray, CD, and Double LP.



Gary Moore


Blues for Jimi


CD


Eagle Records


7 out of 10




Gary Moore is a great guitarist; this is not up for dispute. Gary Moore throwing down some Jimi Hendrix can’t be viewed as a bad thing, ever.

Where this live CD works is in Gary’s masterful interpretation of Jimi’s licks. Where it seems to fail is in the mix and vocals. If Gary were to just stand back and shred and allow for someone else a little more Jimi ‘sounding’ to sing it may make up for the bad mix. But as it stands the vocals just seem to add to the bad mix and almost ruin the CD as a whole.

When Gary isn’t singing and just wailing away at Hendrix classics like Purple Haze, Manic Depression, The Wind Cries Mary, Fire, and Voodoo Child (slight return), all is right with the world. Gary stays as true to the songs as possible and even though it’s live and Jimi would be known to go off on his solos, Gary never seems to take over the song, just channels Jimi into and through the guitar and lets it wail.

The concert itself was recorded in 2007 in London. The band includes Dave Bronze, Darrin Mooney, and the end of the set Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell from the original Jimi Hendrix Experience join Gary on stage for Red House, Stone Free, and Hey Joe.

Unfortunately Gary Moore is no longer with us, as I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be continually on one of the Jimi Hendrix Experience tours going on now.

A great guitarist paying homage to another is a wonderful thing to behold. Sadly the mix is just a little muddy for the drums and bass. With today’s technology I can’t imagine why the sound ended up the way it did. If anything I guess it puts you back into the late sixties and gives you that ‘retro’ feel.








DANKO JONES


Bring on the Mountain


DVD


Bad Taste Records


9 out of 10




Ever heard of DANKO JONES?

Well you should have. They’ve only been around for 16 years. Yes, 16 years. They should be the biggest rock band out there today. They should be. You should agree with me. You should.

That being said, I have a great way for you to find out more about DANKO JONES than you ever thought you needed to know. Bring on the Mountain is their first ever DVD and it is chock full of DANKO JONES‘ history. The format of the DVD is great in that it has Danko and band sitting around essentially just telling you stories about how the band started interspersed with video clips from ‘back in the day’. That’s 90 minutes of Danko and company telling you about their KISS inspired Punk Rock roots through lineup changes through today. It is a great visual and spoken word history that is well presented.

But there’s more to Bring on the Mountain than just a Danko Jones history lesson. You have a mini movie based on their video trilogy from Full of Regret, Had Enough and I Think Bad Thoughts. There are 15 live clips of some of Danko’s best songs and all 19 music videos that the band has ever done.

Yes 19 videos! The best Rock & Roll band out there has 19 videos and you’ve never heard of them. It could be because they are from Canada and the Canadian media is all about Rush and Nickelback apparently. Or it could be it has taken them this long to get this good, and now is their time and Bring on the Mountain is the vehicle that is going to take them to the top of said mountain and everyone will know that greatness that is DANKO JONES!

Because this band does NOT deserve to be held in obscurity any longer.

The only reason this great package got a 9 instead of a 10 is that there needs to be a full length concert with it. Yes there are 15 live videos here, but it isn’t all just one show. Hopefully the littlest biggest band in the world will offer up a full live show for us rapid fans.

Check out Bring on the Mountain and discover Danko Jones for yourself. You WILL thank me later.