JANUS- ‘Nox Aeris’
REALID Records/Warner ILG
Rating: 9 out of 10
Reviewed By: Jay Rybak
The first time I heard the single ‘Eyesore’ from Janus’ 2009 debut Red Right Return, I became an instant fan. Needless to say I had been impatiently awaiting the latest offering from the Chicago based rockers… and good things come to those who wait, very good things. For those of you unfamiliar with Janus, think 10 Years meets Filter. The perfect blend of melodic, yet heavy, with a hint of electronic.
As evidenced by the first single ‘Stains’, ‘Nox Aeris’ is that quintessential Janus album, yet with this offering there is one thing that really stood out to me. Not to detract from the great talents that comprise the rest of the band, but Johnny Salazar is a phenomenal drummer. You get a little taste in the first track ‘In Flames’, but the cymbal-crashing, double-bass smorgasbord ‘Stray’ is a glaring example, with the track that follows, ‘Numb’, serving as a delicious dessert.
Pair this newfound respect for Salazar, with the shredding of Mike Tyranski, and the vocal prowess of David Scotney and the stars align. The band as a whole clicks on all cylinders in the heavy hitters ‘A Promise To No One’ and ‘Polarized’, my two favorite tracks off the album, and two more reasons why ‘Nox Aeris’ is in constant rotation in this writer’s playlist, and should be in yours.
To put it simply, if Duran Duran got massive testicular implants, and broke onto the scene in 2012, the result would be ‘Nox Aeris’. This album is a must have and comes very highly recommended.
‘Nox Aeris’ is available now on iTunes, and hits stores Tuesday, March 27th. For more info on Janus, including tour dates and to purchase music, visit the band’s official website.
ZZ TOP: A Tribute From Friends
Show Dog/Universal Music
7 out of 10
ZZ Top is one of those bands that you hear on the radio and think, ‘Well it rocks, but it doesn’t sound complicated. It couldn’t be THAT hard to cover them.’ Then you heard this album and you think, ‘Wow, Kudos to ZZ Top for being criminally underrated for what they do!’ Apparently Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard are much better blues drenched rockers than one would think given this latest tribute album to them.
There are some notable exceptions, and one of them you are all going to scream for me to never grace this wonderful website with my opinions again, once I tell you who it is, and how fucking good their rendition of a certain ZZ Top classic is.
The highlight of this album, for me, has got to be Grace Potter & The Nocturnals singing about Tush! The song takes on a whole new meaning when Grace croons ‘I’m just lookin’ for some tush’. Musically the song is a solid rocker, and a fine effort by The Nocturnals, but when Grace squeals, ‘Ooh give it to me!’ I am sold! Lord, take ME downtown for Grace is lookin’ for some Tush… Indeed. And the breakdown they create in the middle of the song…. Should make every man stand tall, and every woman weak kneed as she whispers, moans, and sings about her tush obsessed journey.
Wolfmother turn in a great version of Cheap Sunglasses. Pretty much straightforward rendition of the song, although they take it on a Wolfmother tinged journey at the end for the outro. Fuzzy is an understatement here. But it is well worth its wooliness because it may be the 3rd or 4th best cut on the album.
The odd song out unfortunately seems to have the best possibility of being huge just based on the people involved, M.O.B. (Mick Fleetwood, Steven Tyler, Jonny Lang, John McVie) is one of those super group side projects that on paper looks appetizing as hell, but when the finished product is displayed there lacks a certain heart in the song, and Sharp Dressed Man comes up a bit flat.
Duff McKagan’s Loaded take on Got Me Under Pressure, and it is the best I have ever heard them. It is a sleazy dirty rendition of one of my favorite ZZ Top songs, and while the bearded ones had their bluesy sleaze on this, Loaded go pure Sunset Strip sleaze all over it.
Daughtry hold their own on the 8 minute long Waitn’ For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago. A difficult song to pull off well, but Chris and his boys do it justice.
La Grange may be the most ZZ Top song that ZZ Top has ever recorded. There isn’t another band or person out there that can possibly pull off La Grange and make it sound good. Oh Wait! Jamey Johnson just proved me wrong! Holy shit, if ZZ Top ever wants to pull a KISS and retire and just let someone else play their music, then the trio from Texas need look no further than Jamey Johnson. Musically this track is the jam. Jamey and his band go OFF on La Grange. God Bless the Hammond B organ, which is used to perfection on this. And just when you think they’re going pulling it back in, off on another tear they go. If it weren’t for the beautiful Grace Potter singing about ass, this would be my favorite track off the album. For sheer musicianship it is. As good as Daughtry was on Waitin’ For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago, Jamey Johnson and his band show them and everyone else how it is to be done. This song alone is worth the price of the CD. Don’t believe me? Go buy it, listen, love it, you’ll thank me later.
Filter takes Gimme All Your Lovin’ and make it 100% their own. Yes it is a ZZ Top song, and yes, if you know the song, you’ll know it is ZZ Top, but once Filter gets a hold of it, it is 100% all Filter from there.
And now, this is where you start throwing stones at me. Nickelback has the unenviable task of taking on the uber classic Legs. And I defy you to find anything wrong with their rendition. The guys stick to the song, and tear through it with great aplomb and finesse, and KILL IT! Say what you will about them, they knock this one right out of the park and this may be the 2nd best track on the album musically.
Oddly The Texas Trio known as ZZ Top were executive producers of this album. Which I think is the first time I have ever seen the original band involved with a tribute album to themselves. That being said, with them at the helm of this project I can’t understand how Wyclef Jean’s version of Rough Boy ever made the final cut. That track alone dropped the rating on this disc to what it is. But one skipper on an eleven song disc is definitely a keeper disc and worth picking up. Grace Potter and Jamey Johnson make it well worth the money for just their two tracks alone.
Go to iTunes to download it or head on over to Amazon and pick up the CD today!
The music and legacy of ZZ TOP - “That Little ol’ Band from Texas,” that has been part of the world’s musical landscape for over 40 years – will be celebrated with the October 11th release of A TRIBUTE FROM FRIENDS.
The album, to be released by Show Dog-Universal Music, features 11 classic ZZ Top songs interpreted by top-flight artists working in a broad range of musical genres. All of the album’s tracks have been newly recorded, specifically for the project. These include Filter’s performance of “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” Grace Potter & The Nocturnals’ take on “Tush,” as well as Wyclef Jean’s “Rough Boy,” “Legs” from Nickelback and Wolfmother’s interpretation of “Cheap Sunglasses.”
The album kicks off with “Sharp Dressed Man,” from The M.O.B., Mick Fleetwood’s ad hoc group that includes fellow Fleetwood Mac founder John McVie as well as Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and guitar great Jonny Lang. Fleetwood commented, “We’re delighted to honor ZZ Top this way. Their legacy, like that of the original Fleetwood Mac, is steeped in the blues we all love so much. I know that Steven and Jonny feel as strongly about their legacy as John and I do.”
After Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, the original–and continuing– members of ZZ Top were informed that A Tribute From Friends was in the offing, they issued the following statement:
“When we were told there was going to be a ZZ Top tribute album a while ago and logically asked, ‘Who are we paying tribute to?’ Then we found out that a bunch of great artists were paying tribute to us and we were in disbelief. For the past forty or so years, all we’ve done is get out there and crank it and try to have a good time while doing so. To a great extent, we’ve succeeded since we’re still having a good time so that would be reward enough for ‘the same three guys playing the same three chords.’ Now comes A Tribute From Friends and we’re so delighted that our music resonates with these great musicians whom we so admire.”
A Tribute From Friends also includes “Waitin’ for the Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago” by Daughtry, “Got Me Under Pressure” from Duff McKagan’s LOADED and Mastodon’s version of “Just Got Paid.” Coheed & Cambria contributed the anthemic “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” while country superstar Jamey Johnson’s track is the seminal “La Grange.” Of their invitation to be a part of the album, lead singer Chris Daughtry said, “We were completely honored! A classic great band with amazing songs? We’re in!” And of ZZ Top’s music, “It’s classic! Simple chord progressions, great riffs with hooky choruses…very inspiring to a band like us.”
The co-executive producer of A Tribute From Friends is Carl Stubner, ZZ Top’s manager, who noted, “A Tribute From Friends underscores the legacy of ZZ Top in the most musical way possible and illustrates just how important Billy, Dusty and Frank have been to successive generations. It was a privilege to work with the pantheon of brilliant artists who contributed their efforts and so much love to this project.”
Since Billy, Dusty and Frank founded ZZ TOP on the last day of 1969, the band has been responsible for the worldwide sale of over 50 million records highlighted by many of the very same songs heard on A Tribute From Friends as well many others including “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Pearl Necklace,” “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide,” “Tube Snake Boogie” and a score of smash hit albums that include the RIAA Diamond Award winning (10 million sold) Eliminator as well as gold and platinum winners Afterburner, Fandango!, Deguello, Recycler, Antenna, El Loco, Tejas, Tres Hombres plus compilation sets. Their hit repertoire, iconic and award-winning videos and massive touring schedule has made them a favorite with audiences throughout the world and beyond – they previewed a track from their forthcoming album aboard the Soyuz space vehicle. They are recipients of the Texas Cultural Trust’s 2011 Texas Medal of the Art and had previously been named “Official Texas Heroes” by the state’s House of Representatives. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones in 2004 who cited the band’s remarkable consistency and longevity and, first and foremost, the fact that ZZ Top is “steeped in the blues,” calling them “the heartbeat of the whole country and the heartbeat of rock ‘n’ roll.”
A TRIBUTE FROM FRIENDS – TRACK LISTING
1. “Sharp Dressed Man” – The M.O.B. (Mick Fleetwood, Steven Tyler, Jonny Lang & John McVie)
2. “Gimme All Your Lovin’” – Filter
3. “Tush” – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
4. “Legs” – Nickelback
5. “Cheap Sunglasses” – Wolfmother
6. “Got Me Under Pressure” – Duff McKagan’s LOADED
7. “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” – Coheed & Cambria
8. “Just Got Paid” – Mastodon
9. “Rough Boy” – Wyclef Jean
10. “Waitin’ for the Bus / Jesus Just Left Chicago” – Daughtry
11. “La Grange” – Jamey Johnson
For more ZZ TOP click here.
Have you ever been entranced by a band at first listen? Knowing that, even though you can’t pinpoint it, there’s something special about that band? Revelation Theory, as they were known then, first took our ears by storm back in 2005 with the hit single “Slowburn”. I remember being taken back by the soaring vocals of Rich Luzzi, backed by the harmonies of Matty McCloskey, and the heavy riffs of Julien Jorgensen, and having just that feeling. Turns out I have good instincts. Since then, they’ve added more fuel to that “Slowburn” with the addition of killer axe man Rikki Lixx, an abbreviated name, and a sophomore album that produced four hit singles. Six years later, as Rev Theory prepares to release their third major label effort entitled “Justice”, I had a chance to chat with guitarist Julien Jorgensen about everything from producers to presidents. Keep reading, but be careful… my theory is that this “Slowburn” is about to become an inferno!
AWAY-TEAM: First off I wanna congratulate you on the upcoming tour, and the release of your new album “Justice”, which hits stores Feb. 15th. It’s an amazing piece of work.
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Thanks bro!
AWAY-TEAM: Your last album “Light It Up” was a tremendous success. This time around you’ve enlisted the services of super-producer Terry Date. Aside from his stellar resume, what made you pick a guy like Terry?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Umm, I think it was just obviously, like you said, we’re such big fans of all the records he’s done, and the bands he’s worked with. And ya know, I talked to my A & R guy in Kansas City, we were playing Rockfest in 2008 I think it was, we were in the middle of the cycle for “Light It Up”, and… I’m sorry 2009, and he had said to me “Man, to capture the sound and energy of you guys live…”, which is what we wanted to do, “I think Terry Date would be perfect”. I looked at him and was like “Absolutely”. So he reached out to Terry, and Terry was interested, and we felt like it was just the right fit. Definitely the right guy for the music, and the record we were making.
AWAY-TEAM: Was there a certain quality that you feel like Terry was able to bring out in you this time around? I mean, what was the recording process like?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Terry is great at capturing the true essence of the band. And ya know, he’s really great at capturing the character of a band. I think that’s why his records stand the test of time. Recording with him was awesome, he pushed us to… basically we recorded the bass and the drums live off the floor. The record was really raw, and it was a really good experience. We didn’t take any shortcuts, we really dug into the parts, and he was just a wealth of knowledge. So the whole process was awesome, from stories from what he had done before, to all the little tricks he had up his sleeve, the whole thing was just a treat man. It was a good time.
AWAY-TEAM: On first listen, the title track “Justice” gives you the impression that the song was written for a certain someone in Washington, D.C. The video for the song even further supports that belief. Is that a correct assumption to make?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Well, I think ya know, we had written the song a while back with some good friends of ours… our intention was kind of a bit political, we were a little bit upset about what was going on in the country at the time. We’re really not a politically driven band, so we weren’t really going to use the song, and it sort of brought itself back into the fold when we were writing this record. We just felt it was indicative of a lot of things we were going through. Ya know, socially, stuff that we were pissed off about in our own industry. Just a little frustration going on in the music industry in general. So we felt like it was the perfect song, it says a lot about our fight, what we’ve been through the last eight years as a band. It also encompasses the full body of the record as a whole, so we felt like it was the right song to use as the title track.
AWAY-TEAM: The song “Hollow Man” features your bassist, Matt McCloskey singing leads. How did that come to be?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: It was just… Matt had actually written that song when we were on tour, probably a year and a half ago. It was just one of those that came out in the back of the bus, and literally made it all the way through. And I think it made it because it was just a real honest song, and Matty had sung it originally and just kinda did it on the record as well. It was from him, and from his soul it sounded great with him singing.
AWAY-TEAM: So was this just a one shot deal? Or is this maybe the start of an Alice in Chains type thing where, as Jerry Cantrell would put it, you have two lead singers?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Well, I mean we’ve sort of felt that way for a long time, we just never had the right opportunity to showcase it. I think that this record we do alot of sort of, I mean obviously we’ve done alot of harmonies in the past, there’s alot of counter-melodies and counter-vocals in there. We just try to feature Matty as much as possible, and we feel like this song is definitely the stepping stone…
AWAY-TEAM: With the last album, the WWE took notice. They actually made “Light It Up” the theme song for Wrestlemania 24. Then you went on even further to work with them, giving them “Hell Yeah” and “Voices”, and you were even part of a WWE skit?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Yeah, we did a couple of skits with them backstage. It was actually pretty funny, we’re big fans of Festus and Biscuits and Gravy…Jesse & Festus, they’re funny, they’re characters. So we actually got to do some skits with them backstage. It was fun.
AWAY-TEAM: Cool! Now “Enemy Within” seems like a song that’s tailor made for the WWE. What inspired that song? And are there any plans for the WWE to use any of the songs off of “Justice”?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: That song was written as a full collaboration with the whole band. I’m really proud of that song. It’s just a sort of “Take the world over” song, and “take a look at yourself in the mirror”, and all that type of thing. We felt like it was a bad-ass tune, I mean if you think it could be for the WWE that’s cool. We wrote it kind of for ourselves, and it’s fun to play live so we’re excited to put that one in the set for sure.
AWAY-TEAM: As we speak, you guys are on the road making the 20 hour drive up to Denver. You guys have toured relentlessly, and with a new album to kick off 2011, there appears to be no end in sight. When you’re out on the road like that, how do you escape and find solace, just to keep from going insane?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Well this one’s a little.. we’re on a radio tour right now, we’re in a van and it’s really close quarters. We’re actually having a bit of fun with it, because we haven’t done something like this in a while. We’d been fortunate to have a bus during the last touring cycle; we’re all taking turns driving, and so we haven’t had much time away from each other in the last two weeks. When we are on the road in the bus each of us have things we do during the day to kind of… we have our own tour regiments, ya know, some of us like to go to the gym and at least get a shower, and other guys just chill in the back, play video games, and watch movies. Ya know, write songs, nap… some guys nap a lot, ya know what I mean? (laughs)
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Everyone’s got their own thing, and when it comes to like an hour and a half before gametime, before the show, we all start getting in the same mode. We have a pre-game warmup that we all rock out to, and we put a playlist together, and the cameraderie kicks in, and we take the stage together. So when it’s like an hour out, we’re ready to go.
AWAY-TEAM: What do you do to get amped up for a show like that? Is there a certain song or album you listen to?
JULIEN JORGNSEN: Yeah. We have a ton of go-to’s. I mean, on the last record, the last cycle we had “Whiskey in the Morning” by Buckcherry, some newer stuff from Filter, we had some Avenged Sevenfold, some Pantera on there. Followed by some Jäger and some Monster Energy Drinks. We have the Matty Mayhem special cocktail, which consists of Monster Energy Drink, and the Monster shots (The Hitmen), and Jäger. So we usually pound a few of those before we go out there.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Sounds like you’d have to pound them! Holy Shit!
JULIEN JORGENSEN: (laughing) It’s a good time brother, it’s a good time. Well back in the day we used to drink Jäger and Monster out of a bowl. Cuz we didn’t have cups, ya know we drank them out of those cereal bowls.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughing) Lap it up!
JULIEN JORGENSEN: (laughs) We’ve graduated to shot cups that Jäger gave us.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Despite the tremendous success of “Light It Up”, ya know, aside from the wrestling fans and the true rock fans, to the casual fan Rev Theory is still a bit of an unknown for some reason which is a sin. Is that a role you’re comfortable with? Or crave? Ya know, cuz some bands don’t want the spotlight if it means sacrificing who they are. Or is that something you’d like to change?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: I mean, we wanna get our music out there to as many people as we can. Ya know I think that the last record was a great stepping stone for us. I think it got our music out to alot of people, and I think that we’ll be able to kinda build on the success of that, and I think this record is that record to do it. I think it’s a defining record for our band, and we’re really proud of the whole record. We’re really excited to present this, I think that if we can get it to the people’s ears, they really gonna dig it. It’s not that we love the spotlight, but we’d definitely love to grow the band, and grow the listenership because we feel like we have a really great record.
AWAY-TEAM: I agree. I think after this one you’ll be drinking outta pint glasses. (laughs)
JULIEN JORGENSEN: (laughs) That is awesome. I hope so brother, I hope so.
AWAY-TEAM: Well hey man, thanks for your time. It’s been a great pleasure. Best of luck with the new album and the tour, I know you’re gonna do great. Look forward to seeing you when you make your way through Florida, and we’ll do this again.
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Yeah man. Stay in touch. Come out to a show.
AWAY-TEAM: For sure. Thanks again Julien, talk to you soon.
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Be good. Thanks Jason. Bye.
Rev Theory’s latest album “Justice” hits stores February 15th, and the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour featuring Rev Theory, Pop Evil, Hail the Villain, and The Black Cloud Collective kicks off February 16th in Phoenix. For more info on Rev Theory including tour dates, and to find out where to purchase music and merchandise visit http://www.revtheory.com/
Slim Jim’s Top Ten of 2010
SHOOTER JENNINGS – Black Ribbons
The 70’s big classic rock – ball trippin’ – brain smokin’ – ear melting heavy tuneage of old is not dead. Shooter Jennings has created the heaviest album of 2010. In pure sonic fury, huge epicness, and massive songwriting. This isn’t Outlaw Country, This isn’t your daddy’s classic rock, this is Shooter Jennings and Hierophant (his band) racing along your brainwaves, fucking with all you thought you knew about music, and tainting what may come in the future. Take a little WHITE STRIPES, sprinkle some MUSE, add a dash of BLACK KEYS, smoke it with some Pink Floyd and dose repeatedly with Shooter himself, and you’ll get Black Ribbons. While the music will kick your ass, the lyrics will fuck with your brain, and the whole experience will make you think this whole fucked up industry could simply be saved if they’d just put out more solid music like this. This album should propel Shooter into Arenas and onto your grid faster than the clap takes hold of your sad tiny withered cock. But it seems the world would rather listen to the likes of sluts like Ke$ha, or 16 year old pubescent boys like Beiber than embrace the monster that is Shooter and Hierophant. WAKE UP people… If you haven’t experienced Black Ribbons… GO NOW. Do it here. You’ll thank me later. Oh, yes, Don’t Feed The Animals… And… FUCK YOU I’m FAMOUS. Did I mention there are 20 songs on this disc? 20! All of them will fuck with you, tie you in psychedelic knots and drip musical ecstasy semen out of your earholes. And don’t forget the indelible STEPHEN KING. Oh yeah, how could I forgot the title track Black Ribbons? It is quite simply the best Bruce Springsteen song that he never wrote.
ELEPAHNT MOUNTAIN – The Last Days of Planet Earth
Joe Altier and Slider from BRAND NEW SIN reunite to form ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN. The best Southern tinged Hard Rock album of the last year or three, and they hail from SYRACUSE, NY! If you’ve heard of BRAND NEW SIN, and have heard their first two records, then you’ll know exactly what ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN sounds like. And you’ll love it. You can spread the herd here.
THE BLACK KEYS – Brothers
Raw. Stripped. Deeper grooves than the ones fading on your wrist. Monochromed Stereophonically challenged. Bluesier than 20 quarts of Papa’s Jambalaya. More soulful than the most devout Methodist. The more I listen to this the more I want to go find all my ex’s. And slap the unloving chaos addicted shit out of them. The ultimate break up album. As it spins right now, I’m thinking it should move UP my top ten list. Fuck it. Ten Cent Pistol just reinforced the fact. And this is now my #3 best album of 2010 (As I originally wrote this, it was set at 7). You can join the Brothers here.
FILTER – The Trouble with Angels
An amazing return for FILTER. Raw, punishing, beautiful. Read my original review here.
ACCEPT – Blood of the Nations
Another reunion of sorts for ACCEPT. A new singer and a new lease on life. A great album that reminds us all why ACCEPT are Fast as a Shark. Read my original review here.
DISTRUBED – Asylum
More melodic than the past albums. More straight forward guitar solos than before. And more David Draiman. What more could you ask from a DISTURBED album? You can join the Asylum here.
SLASH – Slash
Slash gets a bunch of singers to sing on his album instead of going around singing on theirs. Great songs, great singers like Myles Kennedy (ALTER BRIDGE), Lemmy (MOTORHEAD), Ian Astbury (THE CULT), Ozzy, Chris Cornell (AUDIOSLAVE, SOUNDGARDEN), and many more. The most notable standout track and singer is Fergie (FERGIE, BLACK EYED PEAS) on the track Beautiful Dangerous. The woman should be singing balls out Rock N Roll all the time, not this pop pap shit with BEP. She has a great voice and holds her own amongst the more traditional and legendary vocalists on this album. You can get Slashed here.
AVENGED SEVENFOLD – Nightmare
Never a big A7X fan. But after seeing them this year at the Rockstar Uproar Festival with Disturbed I found a new respect for them as a live band. I figured out my problem with the band. M. Shadows has a good voice, but as he sings about dark lyrics, and leads the crowd into chants of ‘fuck you’ his voice has a rather high range to it. Making the music seem lighter and more lilting than the lyrics therefore belying the heaviness of the music. At times making it seem rather jokish or tongue in cheek. However after seeing their amazing performance live, I now get it. And can move past the vocal issue. The album is their best by far. Blazing guitars you’ve come to expect, full stream riffs crunch and chunk along getting your head and feet involved tapping along. Definitely deserving of anyone’s top ten list. You can become the Nightmare here.
EXODUS – Exhibit B: The Human Condition
EXODUS simple continues to pummel you into submission with their latest album. It is the fourth album in their return that does not fail to impress. The one drawback may simply be Rob Dukes‘ dry vocal style. But the brutal beating that you endure while listening to the album more than makes up for the lack of dimensions in his voice. Albums 6 – 10 will continue to beat the ever loving fuck out of your brain and spleen. I have no doubts about this. The band has never sounded better, tighter, or more focused than here. Which can only mean great things on the horizon for us fans. You can witness the Human Condition here.
DEATH ANGEL – Relentless Retribution
Any year is a good year when DEATH ANGEL releases a new album. The most important part of this is that the band promises to tour endlessly for this release. So that means we get more live Death Angel than ever before. And this boys and girls is a good thing. You can read my original review here.
Canadian heavy metal legends ANVIL have signed a new recording contract with The End Records.
As recently announced, the band is currently recording their upcoming album, entitled Juggernaut Of Justice, at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606 in Northridge, California with famed producer Bob Marlette (BLACK SABBATH, AIRBOURNE, FILTER, ATREYU, ALICE COOPER).
Juggernaut Of Justice is due to be released in spring 2011. Prior to the release of the new album, The End will be releasing the definitive Anvil anthology. The collection will be comprised of classics old and new, with some surprises, and will showcase the band’s entire career spanning back to 1978.
Anvil, considered a major influence for a generation of hard rockers including METALLICA, SLAYER, ANTHRAX and GUNS N’ ROSES, was the subject of 2009’s award-winning rock documentary, Anvil! The Story of Anvil. The globally revered film has made the group – founding members singer/guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner, and bassist Glenn Five (the “new guy” with 15 years in the band) – a household name.
Lips commented, “I must say that this is by far the best Anvil ever. There will be a few new surprises including Glenn 5‘s first lead vocals in Anvil‘s history. The production that Bob Marlette has done far surpasses anything we’ve done in the past. The excitement within the band is over the top and we can’t wait to unleash this amazing cd to the fans.”
Reiner concurs, “The new album is pure Anvil with a new fresh kick, very exciting. Looking to rocking with The End, putting the music where it belongs – in everybody’s ears and face!”
Anvil are currently planning a world tour for 2011 in support of Juggernaut Of Justice. Details will be announced shortly.
For more ANVIL click here.
“No Love“, the new video from FILTER, can be viewed below (courtesy of AOL’s Noisecreep). “No Love” comes off FILTER‘s fifth studio album, “The Trouble With Angels“.
For more FILTER click here.
“Fades Like A Photograph“, the new video from FILTER, has been released. The clip was shot by Mark Racco (NIRVANA, GUNS N ROSES, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS).
“Fades Like A Photograph” comes off FILTER‘s fifth studio album “The Trouble With Angels” released on August 17 via Rocket Science Ventures.
For more FILTER click here.
“You may have never heard of brand new band Aurora Sky yet, but you will. Former Stuck Mojo/Stereomud/Dark New Day bassist Corey Lowery digs the band so much that he decided to co-produce their new record. Through a series of serendipitous events, the demo ended up on Lowery‘s desk and the band is getting its liftoff. “It is teetering between more aggressive modern rock music and active rock,” guitarist Chris Shy told Noisecreep. “It’s overall a more aggressive modern rock band for fans of bands like Shinedown, Seether and Filter.” ”
Check out the rest of the interview here.
For more AURORA SKY click here.
What do you do when the band you founded signs a major label deal, and then suddenly breaks up? If you’re Andrew West and Chris Shy, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and create music’s next big thing… Aurora Sky. When Fear the Clown got signed to Columbia Records, Andrew West and Chris Shy were on top of the world, soon that world came crashing down. From those ashes, comes Aurora Sky, ready to unleash holy hell unto the masses. Lucky for me, I had the chance to chat with Aurora Sky‘s lead singer Andrew “Gambit” West, as they recorded at famed producer Ben Grosse‘s The Mix Room studios in Burbank, CA. Here’s how my conversation with the world’s next great frontman went…
AWAY-TEAM: Alright, so you guys are an unsigned band out of Oklahoma City, working with uber producer Ben Grosse (FILTER/SEVENDUST/MARILYN MANSON/BREAKING BENJAMIN/ and MANY others), Justin Walden (SEVENDUST/GODSMACK/KORN) has the programming and synth layering duties, and guys like Corey Lowery (DARK NEW DAY/STEREOMUD/SEVENDUST) on bass, and Glen Sobel (SIXX A.M./BEAUTIFUL CREATURES) on drums. How does an unsigned band from middle America end up recording in L.A. with world renowned talent like this?
ANDREW WEST: It came about, we were actually working with another producer that’s up and coming, out of Florida, and he was kinda taking us in a direction that is not us in the first place. And we weren’t getting the right vibe from it, and uh, even though he’s super talented and everything it just wasn’t the vibe we were looking for. So uh, Chris actually, we were talking about the music and the direction it’s going, and it was like “Ya know, I wanna challenge Craig (Stegall) our manager to go further and far beyond…I have a really good idea” So you know he reaches out and challenges him to get a hold of Ben Grosse, and like with no realization that ya know it’s probably not gonna happen, or whatever. They make contact, Ben hears the demos of Aurora Sky, and comes back with “I think there’s a great chemistry, and creativity in these guys in the way they write. I would definitely be interested in working with them, and see what comes of it” So that’s how it all came about, on that line of it.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s a great endorsement. In fact you’ve gotten ringing endorsements from the likes of Godsmack’s Shannon Larkin, and as I understand it, you guys were actually contacted by Richard Patrick of Filter. What did he have to say?
ANDREW WEST: Chris actually spoke with him, we had contacted different artists and bands that have previously worked with Ben just to kinda get a heads up, and get a feel for how he works and operates. The producers, ya know, from producer to producer it’s always a little bit different, so we wanted to get an idea of what we were jumping into. So ya know, we got to speak with him a bit, and other people like the guitarist from Simon Says…there’s a lot of people that we were just kinda e-mailing back and forth and Facebooking, and getting to chat with them and ask “How was your experience working with Ben?” And, I mean they were all just really cool, it was really uplifting, it was just exciting to be able to talk to them, and humbling at the same time, it’s like “Wow, these people actually get back to us.” Ya know, we’re “nobody” from Oklahoma, and they’re actually taking the time to talk to us, so that was pretty cool. When we actually figured out a monetary arrangement for this whole recording to take place, it’s just all of a sudden like “Who do we wanna have playing drums? Who do we wanna get that does more programming, and synth-oriented keyboard stuff?” It’s just like, all these different artists are available who have heard our stuff, and wanted to be a part of it, so we’re really just blessed to be where we’re at right now.
AWAY-TEAM: Says a lot about your music. Now, you mentioned that producer to producer it’s kinda different, and you’ve previously worked with Grammy-nominee Michael Raphael, and now you’ve graduated to a Grammy Winner in Ben Grosse. How does the recording experience this time around, differ from the first?
ANDREW WEST: I think it’s actually a “Wow”, like an “Oh my God” moment, more than it is quite a realistic difference. There is a huge difference in the quality that Ben does, versus someone that hasn’t been at his caliber of course, not knocking anybody, but um. Ya know, you step into the studio with Ben Grosse, and he’s got all these great bands with great records, that you’ve been a fan of all these years, and still, presently putting out modern music that’s huge. It’s just an “Oh my gosh” moment, like “come back to reality” and everything, but no, we suspected and expected that it was gonna be a lot more difficult, like an uncomfortable situation stepping into it. Because we built up a great friendship, aside from the business part of it, with Michael Raphael, and we just knew what to expect from him, so it was like this is just gonna be totally different, ya know, we’re getting ready to go run with the big dogs, so. It’s turned out to be quite a bit the same actually, originally when we were sending in our ideas of new songs to him (Ben), they were just snippets of like, a verse and a chorus, a vocal melody and guitar melody as well, and that’s it, there was no pre-chorus, there was no bridge, no finished product. That’s how Chris and I had always been taught to write a new song, becuse it’s like don’t worry about the rest, when you get out to a place we’ll all sit in a room together and finish the rest of the song. It’s just that those are the two important parts, if those parts right there are a slam dunk, then the rest of the songs gonna be a no-brainer. So ya know, we started off by doing that, and we sent off the songs, and Ben‘s reply is like, we sent off like three or four different song ideas to him, and he’s like “Ya know, these are a little bit too rough for me to pick two, I can’t really tell which direction you wanna go with this.” And we’re just looking at each other like “Oh Shit!, what do we do now?” He was expecting entire songs, start to finish, and it was like at that moment we’re behind the eight ball. Anyway, we just put more and more effort, and time into it, and in just a few days we were able to send finished versions, start to finish,with the bridge, and the pre-chorus that we hadn’t even written until that time. And he fired back responses like “Yeah, I like this…or this not so much…keep working on this…” He definitely agreed that we had some really good ideas for this album, so much that we would be prepared at this point to come on out. A big help with that part of it, was Corey Lowery being a part of the pre-production, helping out with lyrics also, like getting the right, ya know, I write a lot of bizzare vocal stuff that makes sense to me, and means something to me, but they don’t always make sense to the general public, or anyone that’s listening. And just helping out with the little things that make the song just that much better, so he’s been a big help.
AWAY-TEAM: There’s a lot of buzz, currently surrounding you guys. Do you attribute that more to, the right people are now hearing you? Or the right people, i.e.-Ben and Corey, are now working with you?
ANDREW WEST: I think both. I think more people are caring now. The same people that have heard it, and passed on it just because, the general response we’ve gotten in the past was “It needs a little more bite.” I don’t think that’s it at all, we have a style, it’s finding the right people, and the right person to believe in your style. We started going down a pathway that wasn’t us with that other producer, and I have all the respect in the world for him, but it’s just not us. Now we’ve found somebody that has heard our ideas, and heard the way we are, and our sound, and believes in it….and sees that, yes there is a marketable product here, and yes I can help polish this out. Your ideas are there, your ideas are good, so I think it has everything to do with the right people being involved. Their names are also exciting other people in the industry to be like “Let’s check this out. They’re not gonna be in on it for no reason, and be a part of something that sucks.” So, it’s definitely been a big help that they’ve been a part of it, and luckily the songs that Chris and I write, are good enough to pique their interest.
AWAY-TEAM: You mention that in the past they were saying “Well this is good, but it needs more bite.” I actually have your independent release, and I personally think it’s great. What type of adjustments have you guys made for this recording?
ANDREW WEST: It’s taking some of the other ideas, actually one of the ideas is on the previously released stuff, and then another song is like totally left field. It’s kinda like taking something and revamping it, I mean I can’t even tell you how many songs we’ve written over all these years, we’ve been writing music and playing for twelve years or so…it’s just taking an idea that at one time was maybe a good idea, but then music constantly evolves, so therefore you have to make those changes with it and make something that’s more modern sounding. So if there was potential in an older song, that never got put out, or never got any kind of recognition, or never made the cut onto an album that I’d been writing years ago, taking that idea and revamping it, making it more modern, maybe it was more appropriate for today’s music than it was ten years ago. In a lot of cases, where we’re at right now, it’s totally a new song, there’s hardly anything, I mean I think it’s safe to say it’s a brand new song, rather than something old. But it would always start with something that had previously been written. They’re like “You know what, let’s take this foundation, and let’s build off of it.”, and it turns into a whole different song, but at least the idea was already started by something that was previously there, that was a good idea to start with in the first place.
AWAY-TEAM: Now you’ve been compared before to bands like Breaking Benjamin and Crossfade. If you had to describe your sound to our readers, how would you describe it?
ANDREW WEST: Umm, just in conversation, when I’m talking with somebody and somebody asks me that question I respond with, a modern-rock, our manager would like us to be a part of active rock, but there’s just so many different genres that I don’t even keep up with what’s what namewise. Ya know, it’s modern, it’s rock, but it’s got synthesizers in it, it’s got the heavy rock style. So I like stuff with like samples, and loops, and synth parts, but still have that heavy, fucking balls to the wall, makes you wanna start throwing things around in your room. It’s a good time to play to, it’s a good moment, it’s a good vibe. Modern-rock with some synth oriented sounds in it, I would say.
AWAY-TEAM: I’ve heard rumblings that you guys are already being courted by a couple of different major labels. You and Chris were actually signed to Columbia Records with your former band Fear the Clown, is the excitement level still the same? Or is it now more “Okay, we’ve been this far before, but now we need to take it to the next level”?
ANDREW WEST: Is it the same now? It’s very much more exciting now, with the predicament we’re in. We’ve got great people involved in this, I’m not just talking about what’s happening right this second, but our manager Craig, for one, is somebody that has his head screwed on straighter than anybody we’ve ever met in the music industry. There’s a lot of crooked people in this business, and right now the Aurora Sky camp has the right people in it. Ya know, before, what we had going on was great, but there was a lot of people that were just really negative, and there was a lot of just bringing each other down. All the negativity this time around is gone, and it’s totally looking on positive, and it’s very much more exciting this time, because we’re more mature, we’ve been down the road several times now, and I’ve had to learn a lot of things the hard way. We had a lot of growing up to do, from the Fear the Clown days. From a songwriter’s standpoint it’s very much more exciting, we’re better, and we’re just finally blossoming, I would say, to be able to be in the same category as some the bigger artists and bands. So this part of my life, is ultimately the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of.
AWAY-TEAM: Ya know, being down that road before, and kinda learning lessons the hard way, you’ve perservered through a lot. Yet, you continue to try to be a rock star. You gotta just chalk that up to desire, but what was that first album or song you heard that made you say “Come hell or high water, I’m gonna be a rock star”?
ANDREW WEST: Ya know, I can remember when I was like 16, coming up with that idea in my head, but at that point who doesn’t wanna become one? Who doesn’t wanna be in a band? And so, ya know, I thought I’d just grow out of such a thing. I was raised by, both my parents were musicians, and were highly successful in the 80′s, I mean very successful, my dad was in one of the top bands. So I just grew up, literally as a child going to rehearsals at these clubs and bars, and stuff, and having the free reign of running around these bars, and clubs, and nightclubs, instead of having a babysitter, because that’s what they did. To this day they still perform and everything, so I guess it’s just like I was almost predetermined to become a rock star. But I’ve had my choices that I’ve had to make, like after Fear the Clown broke up, each of us really had to ask ourselves “Where do I go from here? Do I continue down this road?”. We just saw the ugliest side of it, we just really got screwed over in so many different ways, so bad that it made you ask yourself “Do we want to do this anymore? Is it worth it?” I mean is it worth that 45 minutes to an hour worth of fame on stage, to go through all the other B.S. that comes with it? And um, ya know, I had to get back to the real life, and get a real job. Clocking in and out, that was a hard thing for me to come back to after playing shows on the road non-stop, and not having a real job before that. After time and time and time, I couldn’t take it anymore. Thank God, I found someone like Craig, because he saw my desperation, it was like at this point I should’ve moved on if I was gonna do something else with my life. But I can’t, this is who I am, I have to do this, this is like my drug. I have to get up on stage, and I have to perform. I have to express myself through music, and there is nothing else out there for me. I can’t work these business jobs, and get suited up in a tie. More power to the people that can, but I can’t mentally do that! I’ll fucking go crazy! It’s not who I am. I have to be up there, and the lights come on, and it’s not for the attention. It’s something that’s built in me, I have to do it. It’s seriously like a personal therapy to me. So I don’t know it’s weird. I’ve tried other things, I’ve tried to get out of this life, and I can’t do it. This is what I was meant to do.
AWAY-TEAM: Well to tell you the truth, that’s extremely admirable. I mean, you follow your dreams no matter what. That’s awesome.
ANDREW WEST: Yeah, I’ve been poor the whole time doing it. (laughs) I don’t have a whole lot to show, as far as property and stuff.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) You can do one of two things, you can be poor chasing your dream, or you can be a poor working man like me, so. (laughs) Either way you don’t have shit. (laughs)
ANDREW WEST: (laughs) Yeah, you’re right.
AWAY-TEAM: Well Andrew, thanks for your time. I’m really looking forward to hearing the finished product. Good luck choosing between all those major labels, I’m sure you guys are gonna have your pick of the litter.
ANDREW WEST: I hope it’s that big of a deal. I really do, it’d be nice for a change. Thank you for your time, for having any kind of interest in this. I do appreciate that.
AWAY-TEAM: Like I said man, I’ve heard your stuff and I absolutely love it. I think you guys are gonna go somewhere.
ANDREW WEST: Awesome, awesome. Well hopefully we’ll get to talk again soon.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I hear you like to do a little karaoke at Lani Kai, so maybe next time you make it down here…
ANDREW WEST: (laughs hysterically) Give me a couple of drinks and I’ll be almost good to do anything at that point.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) I’m sure you’re gonna out battle me, but I’ll give it a try (laughs) I’ve been known to pick up the mic after a few drinks myself.
ANDREW WEST: Yeah, we’ll do a duet, it’ll be great. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Alright brother, well listen, give Chris my best wishes as well. Good luck with everything, and I’m sure, like I said when you come down here, we’ll hang out.
ANDREW WEST: Awesome. Sounds good.
AWAY-TEAM: Take it easy. Good luck!
ANDREW WEST: Thank you. Bye.
Stay tuned for Aurora Sky‘s inevitable major label release, coming soon. For more info, music, and tour dates visit http://www.reverbnation.com/aurorasky
Special thanks to Andrew “Gambit” West for so graciously giving me his time.
FILTER – The Trouble with Angels
Rocket Science Ventures
Richard Patrick first gained attention as the guitarist for NINE INCH NAILS. His only recorded material with them was on the end of ‘Sanctified’ off Pretty Hate Machine, but he toured/performed with NIN from 1989-93. He left NIN forming FILTER and released Short Bus in 1995. More rock than industrial, FILTER took off in a big way, but it wasn’t until their second album Title of Record that they gained huge commercial success with the single ‘Take a Picture’.
A full studio album and greatest hits compilation not to mention a plethora of soundtrack singles round out Filter’s studio work.
FILTER is back now with a new studio album The Trouble With Angels and from what I’ve heard of the new album so far (giving it a 2nd spin as I write this), the album is harder, heavier, more electronic than anything since Short Bus. Gone is the commercial gleam, and slick sound that permeated later FILTER albums.
The Trouble with Angels starts off with static laced am radio sounding vocals that kicks into a gritty guitar riff and the lyrics, ‘Come along Sally let’s have a break down’. This is ‘Drug Boy’, and it is as dirty and gritty as any back street dime bag shooting alley you can imagine. The demonic reverberated screams throughout the bridge would bring any fiend to his knees begging for sobriety and sanity instantly. A straight forward rock riff over laced with pulsating drums and a bass line that makes your blood simmer in your veins lends itself very well to the melodic chorus that FILTER has been known for. But this is no ‘Picture’ ballad. This is balls out FILTER at their best.
For the radio rock “we must have a ‘Take a Picture’ ballad” folks out there. FILTER offers up ‘No Love’ to you, but again, this is no overly produced slick sticky sweet ballad. Once the chorus kicks in, and the scream of ‘No Love’ rings out the teeny boppers out there might just switch the station. But that would be doing FILTER and this song a grave disservice. Sit back, give it a listen, and let the music and message sink in. You’ll thank me for it later.
‘No Re-Entry’ is a psychedelic tripalicious love scorn ballad complete with noise/muse rock keyboards filling out and flowing out (of) the song nicely.
Overall the album has a much heavier electronic feel than albums past. Drum loops, noise loops, and wicked vocal effects layers each song, making it impossible to get the full effect even after multiple listens. This is why this album works so well. You can’t get it all immediately. It takes several listens for you to get everything that happens in each and every song. This makes the album last. This is what makes a great album. Every time you put it on, you hear something new. The songs never get old, because you constantly are introduced to something missed in prior listenings.
I was a little hesitant when I first put this on as Short Bus was the pinnacle of FILTER for me. But I’m here to tell you that The Trouble with Angels may actually be two steps better and beyond their debut!
The Trouble with Angels will be released August 17th.
On the heels of last year’s “S/T” E.P. release, Oklahoma City’s AURORA SKY are headed back into the studio to record songs for a full-length album with Grammy-Award Winning producer BEN GROSSE (SEVENDUST/FILTER/FUEL/MARYLIN MANSON) at the famous The Mix Room. Along with band members CHRIS SHY (Guitar), ANDREW WEST (Vocals/Guitar), ARJAVH ALESON (Keyboards/Programming) & KIT MAULDIN (Bass), the tracks will be packed with guest appearances from bassist COREY LOWERY (STEREOMUD/DARK NEW DAY/EYE EMPIRE), drummer GLEN SOBEL (SIXX A.M./BEAUTIFUL CREATURES) and programming wiz JUSTIN WALDEN (KORN/GODSMACK/SEVENDUST). Daily video diaries and audio samples will be available on their MySpace Page starting Sunday, June 20th.
GODSMACK’s Shannon Larkin calls AURORA SKY, “THE up & coming band to look out for. They are the new contenders for the Rock radio belt with catchy, well-written songs and plenty of attitude!”