Friday, November 11, 2011

They're back! - Original Black Sabbath Lineup Reunites!

November 11th, 2011 - the day that goes to eleven, will go down in metal history. The forefathers of the entire genre- all four original members of Black Sabbath- Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward, and Ozzy Osbourne, announced today that they will be recording an album together, expected to be release some time late next year. The reformed legendary band also announced that they expect to perform at the 2012 Download Festival. No other details were announced.

The announcement was made at a press conference in Los Angeles at the Whiskey A Go-Go club where the band performed their first LA gig 41 years ago. A full write up is available on the Black Sabbath web site.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Eleven Songs for 11/11/11

VH1 classic has declared November 11, 2011 (11/11/11) to be National  Metal Day. The date was chosen, of course, for the same reasons I chose the name of this blog- that famous scene from the move "This is Spinal Tap" involving a Marshall Amp Head that has dials that go to eleven so the band would always be able to go "one louder" whenever they wanted. It is only natural that I should take the time and put together an extra-heavy playlist to commemorate this "Day that goes to Eleven." What is my criteria? To be honest, I don't really have any criteria, it's just songs that I consider to be very heavy, worthy of mentioning on National Metal Day presented in no particular order.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Original Sabbath Lineup Rumors?

Rumors have been circulating for some time that something is afoot in the Black Sabbath camp. A few months ago, a reporter claimed that Tony Iommi hinted that they original Sabbath lineup was planning a reunion. Iommi later denied saying anything of the sort in any interviews, but did not directly refute the rumor itself.

Now with the day that goes to eleven looming before us- November 11, 2011 - or 11/11/11 - you would have to wonder - if Iommi, Butler, Ward, and Osbourne are ever going to do something together again, THIS would be a great time for it- on a day when the whole metal community will be celebrating all things louder than mere "10".

More rumors that the original four members, the original architects of early heavy metal themselves, have been working together again have been popping up. The most interesting evidence is on the band's official website... see it for yourself here. Something interesting is obviously going on, and we will probably know what it is on the 11th.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

VH1 Classic Albums - Nirvana Nevermind (1991)

In 1991, a little unknown band from Seattle stormed on the music scene with an album that set the tone for industry. This album took an aggressive, punk attitude, tempered it a raw sound borrowed from heavy metal, and combined it all with catchy, pop-friendly hooks. This unlikely combination melded influences like Black Flag, with a sonic palette reminiscent of early Black Sabbath, and simple, but very effective rhythmic hooks and melodies that would fit right in on an early Beatles record. Somehow, the talents of Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl, under the guidance of producer Butch Vig brought all these divergent ideas together into something new that captured the imagination and the zeitgeist of an entire generation.

That album was Nevermind.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chickenfoot III - Big Foot

It seems that the "Supergroup" concept is "in" these days. Luckily, there have been some really great Supergroups in the past few years (see Them Crooked Vultures for an example).

Start with veteran rocker Sammy Hagar, add in Michael Anthony on bass an backing vocals, and the funk-rock infused drumming of Chad Smith, and you have... well a band in need of a guitarist- maybe Joe Satriani will want in? Yes? Awesome... and so Chickenfoot was born- with a modernized take on the more classic straight-up heavy rock music these four guys made their names with through the late 70s, the 80s, and the 90s.

So after their successful first album, Chickenfoot returned to the studio for more, and created their second album, titled "III" - the single "Big Foot" shows that these four superstars are still at the top of their game, and are having a blast making the kind of hard hitting, honest, straight-up hard rock that's just fun to listen to.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Foo Fighters + Westboro Baptist Church = Large Scale Mocking

Those crazies at the Westboro Baptist Church staged a protest at the Foo Fighters' show in Kansas City. Which, naturally means they were bound to end up getting mocked ruthlessly. I think that the video, originally posted on the Foo Fighters youtube channel and facebook feed, speaks for itself...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hi, My name is Led Zeppelin II

A lot of people like to debate what does, and does not qualify as "Metal." Well, I'll tell you what's Metal...

According to St. Louis Today, 64 year old Missouri man, George F. Blackburn, recently divorced and looking for a new start, legally changed his name to "Led Zeppelin II" - That's Metal.

The man formerly known as George F. Blackburn is, (obviously) a long time Led Zeppelin fan claims that the name change was a way to re-invent himself. This guy redefines the phrase "Getting the Led Out" - and we wish him a "Whole Lotta Love" as he embarks on his new life.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Revolution Calling - Queensrÿche (1988)

"Who do you trust when everyone's a crook?" is the question Queensrÿche posed in 1988 with the track "Revolution Calling" from their 1988 prog-metal masterpiece "Operation: Mindcrime." The song is the first full song on the album, and serves to set the scene for the rest of the story- and it is a very bleak scene, that is almost prophetic when viewed from our vantage in the year 2011- 23 years after it was written. I'm sure everyone has been exposed to all the volatile political news over the past few years, and, no matter which side you support, or even if you refuse to support any side- we can all agree that something is terribly wrong (although we could debate forever what actually is wrong and how to fix it!)

"Revolution Calling" describes a world mired in corruption, and political upheaval. The government is portrayed as corrupt and ineffective at best, and outright hostile to the public at worst. This idea, though penned 23 years ago, should have a familiar ring to it. The song goes one step further, and implies that things are bad enough that some people feel that an open revolt is long overdue- the story unfolds as various characters take advantage of, and/or allow themselves to be manipulated by this sentiment. Rather than talk about it, watch the video, and read the lyrics (below the jump), and see how much it reminds you of current events.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Foo Fighters win "Best Rock Video" at the VMAs

"Never lose faith in real rock and roll music, you know what I mean, never lose faith in that. You might have to look a little harder, but it's always gonna be there." -Dave Grohl, 2011 VMA Awards.

Foo Fighters' video for "Walk" won top honors for "Best  Rock Video" at MTV's 2011 Video Music Awards. "Shake me Down" by Cage the Elephant, "Pumped up Kicks" by Foster the People, "The Cave" by Mumford and Sons, and "Howlin' for You" by the Black Keys were the other nominees in the category.

Monday, August 22, 2011

American Soldier vs Food.... (Queensrÿche)

So I was channel surfing when I stumbled onto a repeat of the Travel Channel's "Man Vs. Food Nation" where host Adam Richman helps coach challengers through outrageously large, outrageously spicy, or sometime both, eating challenges. I've watched the show but not on a regular basis- usually just catching whatever reruns are on, so I stopped to watch since it was an episode I hadn't seen yet.

It got really interesting when I noticed that the guy attempting to pack away a massive 6-pound muffaletta sandwich was proudly wearing a Queensrÿche T-shirt from their "American Soldier" tour. Something seemed familiar, but I couldn't place it until I googled the episode guide- this was none other than A.J. Fratto, former crew chief for the Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Squandron, lead singer of the metal band Below the Stitch in Pensacola, Florida. Back in 2007, AJ was approached by Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate to lend his voice to the "American Soldier" album. On the following tour, AJ went along to play the part of *The* American Soldier, opening the set, and taking the stage with the band.As a result, AJ retired from his 15 year military career to pursue his lifelong dream of singing professionally, and hasn't looked back since.

(Warning! Spoilers after the break!)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to the Late Great Joe Strummer

Today marks the birthday of Punk Rock icon Joe Strummer  from The Clash. Joe passed away in 2002, but his legacy lives on. His work with The Clash remains, to this day, a huge influence on the punk scene, and the whole cascade of newer genres that grew out of the Punk Rock movement since.

Shortly after his death, Strummer's family and friends formed a charity foundation, Stummerville, dedicated to supporting young, up and coming musicians- a fitting legacy for someone who started as a street musician who had nothing, that somehow managed to leave an indelible mark on the music scene.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Josh Homme on the Travel Channel this week- August 8th.

As I promised in an earlier post - "Queens of the Stone Age" and "Them Crooked Vultures" frontman Josh Homme recently filmed a guest appearance for the Travel Channel's hit show "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations." The show, which typically features out-of-the ordinary travel destinations, and the food associated with them, will feature a great deal of original music written by Homme specifically for the episode.

The episode will focus on Josh's home territory- the deserts of Southern California. Josh will travel the area with host/chef/author Anthony Bourdain, and show him around the area, and have a few adventures along the way. Bourdain's blog hints that the show will be more adventurous than usual, with a near barroom brawl, scenes lampooning/honoring films such as "Animal House" and plenty of quirky, sarcastic humor- a must see for Bourdain fans, and a chance to get a rare peek inside Josh Homme's personal life and music.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Guitar Hero Lives Again?

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Super Bundle
In a recent interview with Forbes Magazine, Activision chief Bobby Kotick dropped a not-so-subtle hint that a reboot is in the works for the defunct Guitar Hero franchise.

After a triumphant run as the most popular video game franchise in history, Guitar Hero sales dried up after saturating the market with what many people considered to be too many games in one year, and Activision killed the entire product line. The Forbes article indicates that there may be hopes for all of us that think it's fun to play the high-tech equivalent of air guitar.

Friday, July 8, 2011

5 Songs for Casey Anthony

Everyone in the U.S. has heard about the Casey Anthony trial. Most people are very unhappy with the verdict. Whatever you believe really happened, you have to admit that the drama and outright lies surround the case are astounding. It is far weirder than an episode of CSI.

What disturbs you the most about it? Is it the fact that a young child was killed? Is it the fact that the mother was out partying like she was auditioning to be on "Jersey Shore" while her daughter lay dead? Was it the web of lies and fabrications about a non-existent nanny, and a fictional job at Universal Studios? Was it the wild abuse accusations aimed at the grandparents? Or was it the fact that there are more than a few songs out there that seem like they should be Casey Anthony's personal theme music?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New EP from Even the Slept

Local Philadephia Prog Rock band Even the Slept released their new EP "Sinks the Ocean" in digital format this week. The band has a classic Prog Rock sound with a few new twists, and are more than worth the effort to check out their music.

Even The Slept's new EP combines the complexity and virtuosity of classic progressive rock with a jazz/blues rhythmic sensibility that sets them apart. The song "One Against Too Many" is a perfect example - combining guitar sounds that brings to mind Steve Howe's sound on Yes's classic "Relayer" with a jazz/funk inspired beat topped off with bluesy vocals.

Find out more about the band, and their upcoming appearances, on their facebook page. If your travels take your through the Philadelphia area, do yourself a favor and check them out. They will be celebrating their album release this Friday- find out the details here.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

4th of July - Soundgarden (1994)

Grunge is a very hard to define sub-genre- simply because it encompassed a wide range of styles. Nirvana had a clear punk/hardcore influence, Pearl Jam a strong classic rock influence- almost complete opposites. Soundgarden, one of the other major names in the Grunge scene, had a sound that was strongly influenced by heavy metal - particularly the doom/sludge sub-genres and a healthy dose of psychedelic rock. So, just considering three of the biggest Grunge bands, we have three wildly varying styles of music under one banner.

The key to Grunge, I think, is found in the attitude and the lyrical content rather than in the  sound and style of the music itself. Grunge, I think, distinguishes itself by having the point of view of disillusioned youth. Topics such as depression, broken families, frustration with authority, and youthful angst are the hallmark and the unifying factor. Soundgarden clearly demonstrates this idea with the song "4th of July" from their 1994 album "Superunknown."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Staind track available (streaming only)

Alt-metal band Staind will be releasing their seventh studio album titled "Seven" in September 2011. (Is it me or is this September a popular month for album releases?). To promote their upcoming album, they have released a track "Eyes Wide Open" on streaming media courtesy of Metal Hammer UK.

Staind parted ways with long-time drummer Jon Wysocki after recording "Seven" - Staind will be joined by drummer Will Hunt (Evanescence, Black Label Society) for their upcoming tour. It is unclear if he will remain as a permanent member of the band or not.

Metal Hammer - Staind - 'Eyes Wide Open' Teaser on MUZU.TV

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Dream Theater track available for streaming...

Dream Theater is back with their first recording in 25 years without Mike Portnoy behind the drum set.  Mike Portnoy's spot is now occupied by Mike Mangini - who held five of the World's fastest drumming records form 2002-2005 including an amazing 1247 single strokes in 60 seconds using matched grip. Mike has also appeared on The Discovery Channel show "Time Warp" (season 1, episode 16) demonstrating extreme drumming for the show's time bending high speed cameras.

Dream Theatre has released a stream of their first post-Portnoy single, "On the Backs of Angels" from their upcoming album "A Dramatic Turn of Events" which is due to be released on September 13th, 2011.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dave Grohl is my Personal Hero...

OK, so maybe that's stretching it a bit, but I've got a lot of respect for the guy, and every project he works on produces great music. In a way, I envy him- he's a guy about my age who stated out involved in one of the most important musical acts of the past 20 years, and has gone on to have a huge career, writing and performing music almost constantly, and gaining respect from musicians across many genres and styles. He clearly enjoys the crap out of every minute, and seems to look and act half my age- and seems to have more energy than I did half a lifetime ago.  Dave, and the Foo fighters, make music that's just good fun rock music, and let others worry about what genre it fits in. Watch below as the Foos prove at the Pinkpop festival in the Netherlands earlier this month why they have such a wide appeal- they're out there having fun, and they want the rest of us to have fun watching them - which is the whole reason most people get into music in the first place.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Adrenaline Mob New Album Teaser...

Former Dream Theater and Avenged Sevenfold drummer Mike Portnoy has a new project that is about to come to fruition. He's teamed up with singer Russell Allen (Symphony X), Guitarists Mike Orlando (Sonic Stomp) and Rich Ward (Fozzy), and bassist Paul DiLeo to form a new band called Adrenaline Mob, and have nearly completed their debut album.

On Friday, June 24, the Adrenaline Mob performed their first live gig in New York City, and gave the metal world a sneak peek of their new album, and did a few covers of old favorites. There does not appear to be a release date set, but it wold appear that the album will be arriving relatively soon.

Mike Portnoy stated to AOL Noisecreep "I've listened to these tunes so many times already and all I want to do is go out and play them live with this band. I've always had lots of side projects in my life, but what's exciting for me is knowing that Adrenaline Mob is bigger than that. This is a real band with a real future and 11 new songs that I think the fans are going to flip for. This last year for me has been such an emotional rollercoaster, with lots of dramatic highs and lows, so to be in this place right now with these guys and this music — let's just say it's a very happy place for me."

The band respectfully asked their fans to not post recordings of the new material online, but the band has released a teaser clip featuring short sound bytes from their upcoming album, check it out below:

20 Unexpected Cover Songs

Every band does cover songs from time to time. Probably every band that worked their way up from someone's garage and up through bigger and bigger venues probably paid their bills playing cover tunes at some point. Let's face it- most bands and professional recording artists started out just like you and me- as music fans.

Playing your version of someone else's song is a time-honored tradition. Sometimes it's just to fill out a set list, or because the guys in the band just ran out of material but still want to jam. Maybe it's because the band wanted to try out an idea without composing a whole new song in order to do it, or maybe it's just because it's fun to play songs you like to listen to. Maybe the band just wanted to do something so off the wall and different that it just might turn out cool...

So here are 20 unexpected cover songs- things you might not expect these bands to play. Some are more successful than others, and some are just off the wall crazy, enjoy...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Anthrax - Fight'em 'til You Can't Free Download

Thrash metal giants Anthrax have put up a free download of the track "Fight'em 'til You Can't" from their upcoming album "Worship Music" due out in September of 2011 - just in time for the "Big Four" tour's arrival in New York City - Anthrax's home town.

"Worship Music" marks the return of vocalist Joey Belladonna to the band, and so the album is reported to have a more "classic" Anthrax sound to it. Guitarist Scott Ian stated "This record is filled with not just four years of our lives, but with our lifetime in the band. It encompasses it all, and when I listen to the record, I can hear all the energy and love and hate and pain and laughter that went into this."

A widget on the official Anthrax website will allow free downloads of "Fight'em 'til You Can't" if you're willing to be on their online mailing list- you can get the track using the widget below:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nirvana - Nevermind 20th Anniversary Edition coming in September 2011

Nirvana released the original Nevermind album in September of 1991, and turned the entire music industry on it's head. The album has become the iconic grunge album, and, in the minds of many, it gave a voice to an entire generation that, until then had almost no voice whatsoever. It's overnight rise also laid the groundwork for the band's equally rapid, and tragic demise. Kurt Cobain, the band's singer and primary songwriter, had a great deal of personal demons associated with the band's sudden fame, and those demons are believed to be one of the main motivations of his 1994 suicide.

Now, 20 years after Nevermind's landmark release, the album that heralded the downfall of the hair bands, and the rise of an underground scene, has clearly left an indelible mark on the music industry, and on our musical culture in general. To celebrate the incredible impact this album had, a 20th Anniversary edition will be released in September of 2011.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Into The Pandemonium - Celtic Frost (1987)

Some bands release a ground-breaking album that defines, or redefines an entire genre. Some bands release a ground breaking album that defies classification. In 1987, Celtic Frost somehow managed to do both at the same time with their third album "Into the Pandemonium."

By 1987, Celtic Frost had already established themselves as pioneers in extreme forms of heavy metal - mainly what would eventually evolve into black metal and death metal. The band, however, was far from done with experimenting with new and radical ideas- so instead of riding on the success of their previous album, "To Mega Therion," they produced what has stood the test of time as their most radical, and most ambitious effort ever- "Into the Pandemonium."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Crazy Train (Ozzy cover) Hello Kitty Style...

I hereby declare June to be "Shred on a Hello Kitty Guitar Month"

...and this guy just kills it on this cover of Ozzy's "Crazy Train"