UG Articles Archive

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Top 5 Metal Covers of Pop Songs

For today's post I thought I'd do a list, because everyone loves lists.

Ever hear a pop song and think 'Wow, if someone did a metal version of this it would be awesome'?  Well, then you're in for a treat, because this is my list of the 5 best metal covers of pop songs:
(Songs by artists that only play covers have been omitted, as that shit is cheating)

5.  Blind Guardian - You're the Voice (John Farnham cover)
Blind Guardian tends not to screw too much with the sound of the tune they're covering, and this is mostly true of "You're the Voice."  The bagpipes are a nice touch, and the song just feels more powerful with the bigger guitar sound.  Hansi Kursch's vocals are what make this cover awesome, and it was a song choice that I think fits right in with the Blind Guardian sound.

4. Machine Head - Message in a Bottle (Police cover)
I've recently become a bit of a fan of Machine Head, or, excuse me, Machine FUCKING Head, which is what the band's true fans call them (allegedly.)  The "I'll send an SOS to the world" repetition in the original version of the tune always seemed to me to be ripe for a more metal rhythm backing, and Machine Head delivers.  The vocals are raw and heavy, which is just 100 billion times better than listening to Sting.

3. Dream Theater - Funeral for a Friend/ Love Lies Bleeding (Elton John cover)
I remember the first time I heard this song.  I was doing dishes after a family dinner when I was 8 or 9 and my dad put on his favorite Elton John CD.  I was pretty much hooked instantly, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since.  It's a pretty rocking tune to begin with, but Dream Theater brings it to another level.  It's a very interesting take on the original, and you can't go wrong with John Petrucci and his flawless shredding.  Great stuff.

2.  Anthrax feat. Public Enemy - Bring the Noise (Public Enemy cover/collaboration)
Chuck D, Flava Flav, and Scott Ian on the same track?  Thrash drums, guitars, YEAAAHHHH BOYYYYYYYYs, Scott Ian rapping, and an appearance at 3:30 by Ice T?  The stuff of legends.  Anthrax released a studio version as well, but this live version tops it easily, demonstrating that rap and metal could successfully coexist in the early 90s, before the Fred Dursts of the world arrived to ruin that harmonious balance:

1.  Children of Bodom - Oops!  I Did it Again (Britney Spears cover)
This track is a crossover cover masterpiece.  Leave it to Alexi Laiho and company to turn a tame and bland teenage girl-marketed pop song into a headbanging monster of a tune.  The chorus section fits perfectly with the heavy chugging rhythm line Bodom adds, and the random Finnish chatter midway through the song is confusing yet hilarious.  The contrast between Spears' voice, left in the mix for parts of the song, and Laiho's raw scream is just perfect.  Add to all this the fact that the song was recorded as a joke when the band was raging drunk makes COB's Oops! I Did it Again my #1 metal cover of a pop far.

Got any suggestions for other potential winners?  Think my list is garbage and you could do better?  Then let's see your top tunes in the comments, dick.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Does Scott Weiland use a backing track?

A fan-made video from the Stone Temple Pilots show in Cincinnati last week has come to my attention recently.  In it, STP singer Scott Weiland can be seen tripping and falling off the stage (right around 1:30 in) without missing a beat.  The vocals continue pretty perfectly despite the plunge, and many fans and journalists are using this to accuse Weiland of lip-syncing, or using backing tracks.  Here's the video:

Personally, I don't buy it.  I think either 1) the fall was intentional and he had practiced it, or 2) he just kept singing on the floor, then waited til the solo section to get back up on stage.  Then again, he is known for having a drug and alcohol problem, maybe the band wanted to take certain precautions against performance issues...

What do you think?  Is he lip-syncing or just a total badass who can fall off the stage and keep right on singing?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Review: Iron Maiden's "The Final Frontier"

It's been roughly two weeks since The Final Frontier was released, and I have finally listened to it thoroughly enough to give it a proper review.  

Before I get into the music, it's important to note (okay, pretty irrelevant to note) that this is the first Maiden CD that has not featured the band's mascot Eddie on the cover.  Rather, we get an Eddie-esque alien monster smashing the helmets of what appear to be vampire astronaut skeletons inside the fuselage of a burned-out spacecraft.  Points for originality.

Other reviewers are claiming that this is Maiden's best work since "Brave New World," and perhaps their best since the classic "Powerslave."  I won't go that far, but this album is definitely proof that the band has experienced an energy boost since recording "A Matter of Life and Death" in 2006.  It sounds as if everyone involved has stepped it up a notch for this album, and it's clear that this band's not slowing down yet.

This is evident from the get-go, as the opening track "Satellite 15...The Final Frontier" kicks in with a lengthy, pounding drum section while a foreboding spacey atmosphere is built up in the background with wailing guitars.  About 4 minutes in, the tone changes drastically to a classic Maiden headbanger with a memorable chorus that I'm sure will become a singalong favorite at live shows.  Video's fairly cool too:

The next track, "El Dorado," is my favorite on the album; perhaps because I got to hear it live, complete with Adrian's backing vocals and Steve Harris pointing his bass bayonet-style at the crowd and sneering.  Anyway, the track opens the way most 70s rock songs might end, with drums and guitar just going crazy for several measures before the trademark bass gallop kicks in.  The song just rocks, plowing ahead at a quick tempo with dark-sounding verses and a melodic, soaring chorus that will get stuck in your head for days.  A true gem.

The third track, "Mother of Mercy," is probably my least favorite song on the album.  Bruce Dickinson's vocals sound really strained on this one, and his age shows a bit.  It's got a decent beat and whatnot, but it sounds a lot like their last 2 albums, and as I said, Bruce's vocals suffer when he's made to strain his range.
"Coming Home" is more of a midtempo ballad, and Bruce is much more at home with this one.  It's about well, coming home to jolly ol' England on an airplane and the feeling you get when you see the runway lights of your home coming up to meet you.  A solid tune, not incredible, not terrible.

"The Alchemist" I found to be fairly forgettable.  A pretty bland track, not lacking in riffage and well-sung vocals, but it's just not a memorable track for me.  "Isle of Avalon" is one of three tracks on the album to break the 9 minute mark, and it's a pretty solid 9 minutes at that.  With multiple changes in tone and intensity throughout, it keeps the listener engaged.  This song seemed to be begging for comparisons to "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," but you won't find any here.  It's not THAT awesome.

"Starblind" and "The Talisman" are both great tunes as well, sticking to the tried-and-true Maiden formula of taking slowly building artsy intros into galloping choruses and throwing in powerful, melodic choruses.  "Talisman" is over 9 minutes as well, but I felt it could have been trimmed down a bit, it started to get repetitive towards the end.

"The Man Who Would Be King" ushers in the back end of the album with a driven, energetic tune that stands out because of its absolutely kickass solo section.  There's about a 2 minute long section midway through the song that is purely instrumental, and features some of the best solos I've heard out of Maiden.  The ending stands out as well, with its bluesy harmonized guitars driving the slow outro.

"When the Wild Wind Blows" is a fitting end to the album, a full 11 minutes of heavy metal done right.  The vocals follow a pattern that is entrancing in its simplicity, and the harmonized guitars form a powerful melody that is reminiscent of The Trooper in places.  It doesn't hit you as hard as "El Dorado," but "When the Wild Wind Blows" is an appropriate tune to close out another solid outing from Iron Maiden.

You have to really listen to this album to truly appreciate it.  If you just play it in the background while you zone out doing something else, you'll miss a lot of the album's appeal.  At the minimum, this is a great improvement over the last few albums.  At the maximum, it's one of Maiden's best pieces of work in their 15 year history.  I officially give it an 8.7/10. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

New All That Remains is promising

So far, it looks like the new All That Remains album "For We Are Many" (out October 12th) is going to sound more like "The Fall of Ideals" than 2008's "Overcome."  They've released the title track, available for download on the band's website for free through September 6th, and it's a definite departure from the radio-friendly "Overcome" album. 

Phil's vocals are heavy and intense, going from super-low growls to high pitched rasps and hitting everything in between.  The only clean singing is done via layered vocal tracks during the chorus, ensuring that the song has the trademark All That Remains "melodic metalcore" feel. 

Personally, I have high hopes for this album.  I liked a lot of what they did on Overcome, but it's hard to beat tunes like Six and This Calling from Fall of Ideals.  I didn't like the way they edited their songs to make them more radio-friendly, however.  Turning screaming parts into clean singing really throws off the whole feel of the tune, and is kind of a sell-out thing to do.  By the sound of this new track, it looks like they're not interested in doing that kind of thing anymore.  This tune is essentially All That Remains in a 3 minute nutshell.

Thanks to Jake for the post suggestion!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Today's song of the day - crank it up.

Today's post is a short one, as I'm not going to have much time to post later and I'm dealing with what appears to be a bed bug outbreak in my apartment building. 

Said outbreak has me rather pissed off at the moment, and there's no better song for channeling rage than High on Fire's "Bastard Samurai:" 

I'll just play this at top volume for a while, hopefully my rage will wear off.  Or maybe it'll just become even more intense.  Either way, I'm a huge fan of this tune.  Enjoy your Fridays, everyone.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Big day: Rush proves they are awesome, Maiden plans another tour, Pantera releasing new tune

Today is a busy day in metal news. 

Rush has once again proven why they are one of the best bands in the world.  Their show scheduled for July 7th at Chicago's Charter One Pavilion was canceled when rain damaged the band's equipment and made performing potentially dangerous.  Understanding the levels of disappointment this caused the fans that bought tickets, traveled to the show, and were ready to hear some great prog rock, the band rescheduled and played a make-up show this month.  At the show, Rush gave a free baseball hat to every single fan in attendance that had a Rush logo on the front and "The Rain Date, Chicago 2010" displayed on the back.  Needless to say, this hat will become a piece of Rush history and will surely be a collector's item for years to come.

I like to see a band give back to its fans.  As someone who recently saw Rush in concert, this seems like something they'd do.  Rush is a great band, and after this, I respect them even more than I ever have.

In other news, Iron Maiden has said that the band is planning on another greatest-hits style tour, similar to 2008's "Somewhere Back in Time" tour.  When asked what their future touring plans were, singer Bruce Dickinson stated: "We’ll be back to tour this album (The Final Frontier), and after that we should be looking at a big resumé tour – an unashamed tour with all the greatest hits."  He went on to say that "At the start of every tour we think this will be the last one. By the end we’re disappointed and we think, ‘Is this it?’ So we’ll carry on as long as we’re having fun."

Here's hoping they carry on for a long time. 

Finally, Pantera has announced that they are releasing a previously unreleased track entitled "The Will to Survive" on August 30th at 11 central time on their Facebook page.  The song is being released to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the release of 'Cowboys From Hell,' the band's major label debut.  Vinnie Paul claims that "After hearing it for the first time in about 20 years, it's a pretty stellar performance and I am definitely proud that it will see the light of day for all the die-hard PANTERA fans around the world! It shows the true musical diversity of the band at that time!" 

All in all, a great day for rock and metal, here's hoping Maiden is stopping in Chicago or Milwaukee or the Twin Cities on their next tour.  Hell, I'd probably drive to Cleveland to see them again.  Who's with me?!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ozzy performs 'Crazy Train' with 10 year old Japanese guitar prodigy

Just came across this video today, and I couldn't help but smile throughout the whole song.  The video (below) is from the Hartford, Connecticut stop on the Ozzfest tour, where 10 year old Japanese prodigy Yuto Miyazawa just absolutely shreds the hell out of Crazy Train while Ozzy provides the vocals and the crowd goes nuts.  The kid's got serious chops, pulling off pinch harmonics left and right while playing a Randy Rhoads-style Flying V.

Supposedly he's been playing since age 3, and whenever he's not eating or sleeping, he's playing guitar.  Good for him, wish I had that kind of drive and determination.  He's even played a show with Les Paul himself.  (RIP, Les.)  He recently was awarded a Guinness World Record for being the world's youngest professional guitar player.

Check this out, especially the solo part, it's great:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review: Blind Guardian's "At the Edge of Time"

Been a while since I reviewed an album, and since today was the official North American release date of Blind Guardian's newest album, I figured I'd post a review.  Here goes:

Blind Guardian has been a mainstay of the Power Metal genre for the last decade and a half, and with each album they have reasserted their worth to the genre and the metal world.  This most recent effort is no exception, taking the band once again in a new direction that departs from the very dark style of "A Twist in the Myth" to take on a more symphonic, triumphant tone that is at once both musically intricate and simply powerful.

The album opens with "Sacred Worlds," a song originally composed for the PC game Sacred II, but was fully re-worked and remastered for the album release.  At a full 9+ minutes, the tune sets the tone for the remained of the album, with a full orchestra playing alongside the band, including trumpets, strings, and heavy, resounding percussion that really lends an epic feel to the music.  Hansi Kursch's vocals are top-notch as usual on this track, again proving himself to be one of the best vocalists in all of metal. 

Another excellent track on the album is the piano-intro'd "Road of No Release" which builds quickly into a powerful slow-tempo ballad tune driven largely by Hansi's vocals and a hauntingly powerful refrain with a choir backing. 

About midway through the album, the listener is hit with "Wheel of Time," which is without a doubt one of Blind Guardian's finest songs in their history, and in my opinion, one of the best songs you'll hear all summer.  The orchestra is fully present throughout this track, and adds an incredible amount of power and layering to the listening experience, with varying flavors of music from around the world popping up, including oriental themes and brass-heavy parts that sound like something from the LOTR soundtrack, only ballsier.  Seriously, this song gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.  Plug in the headphones and turn it up.

Other highlights include the first single from the album, "A Voice in the Dark" and the mid-tempo Norse Mythology-themed Valkyries.  "Voice" hits you fast and hard with a great, driving riff that instantly tells you this song is going to kick serious ass before progressing into a trademark chorus section delivered with perfect backing harmonies and Hansi's powerful vocals, which have become the standard by which other power metal vocalists are judged.

The weak points on the album are the dull "Tanelorn (Into the Void)" and the inevitable medieval bard-style ballad "Curse My Name", which is of course far inferior to "The Bard's Song (In the Forest)", and is pretty bad even when compared to Blind Guardian's non "Bard's Song" Ballads.  The only redeeming factor of this tune is the bagpipes-and-fiddles interlude, which is actually pretty interesting.

Overall, I'd rate the album an 8.5/10, and definitely place it in the "Required Listening" category for fans of power metal and epic, orchestral metal compositions.

Somewhere, Robert Jordan is smiling.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Metalocalypse episodes soon!

The metal world can breathe a sigh of relief, as it has recently been announced that Adult Swim will be premiering the next installment in Season 3 of Metalocalypse on September 26th. In addition, is reporting that the five episodes that have been aired so far began re-airing on Sunday the 22nd, and will air each Sunday night leading up to the new episode on the 26th. 

The Season 3 DVD will drop shortly after the season is completed, with a November release date planned.  A Blu-Ray quality DVD will also be released. has said "Exclusive special features to the Blu-ray consist of Nathan Explosion reading from William Shakespeare's 'Othello' and five music videos that were featured on Dethklok's last tour, among other things. Both versions contain extended scene features, Facebones background art tour and a feature called 'Skwisgaar and Nathan ordering at the drive-thru.'"  Sounds fucking awesome.

I'm excited.  Here's hoping they do another live tour soon, the last time I went to a Dethklok show I had some of the most fun I've ever had at a concert.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Disturbed's new album: hopes and concerns

Disturbed's new album is dropping next week, and I'm not sure if I'm more concerned or excited for it.  On the one hand, it's Disturbed, and they're fairly dependable when it comes to good hard rock.  They can be formulaic, but it's a formula that works, and David Draiman's vocals are always superb.

On the other hand, from the tracks I've heard so far, there's nothing too special about this album.  "Another Way to Die" (below) comes off very preachy and lyrically blunt, and sounds like every song on Ten Thousand Fists, while Asylum sounds more like something off The Sickness but still doesn't do anything to really keep my attention.  Maybe my musical tastes are changing, maybe Disturbed is just staying the same too much.

One positive that I've heard, especially considering that I'll likely be seeing them live when the Uproar festival comes to town on October 4th, is that their live show has gotten even better on this tour.  Utilizing massive LCD screens and more pyrotechnics than a monster truck rally, early reviews of Disturbed's live show are very impressive.  So I'm definitely looking forward to the live performance, if not the CD.

This is the video for "Another Way to Die," which despite sharp visuals and high production value, adds little to a song that is, in my opinion, rather boring to begin with:

Do you agree with my take on Disturbed?  Think I'm an elitist dick that can't tell a good song when he hears one?  Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Some great metal bands you might not be listening to....yet

Today I'm throwing a few bands out there that have caught my ear, despite being relatively far removed from the mainstream.  A few are on their way towards metal stardom, and a few on likely on their way out, but I just wanted to share some cool bands with you, the readers.
Eluveitie - Swiss folk metal

I discovered this band just a few weeks ago, and their new album contains some of the best, most rockin' folk metal I've ever listened to.  They have 2 female members, one of which performs backing vocals, which really adds environment and beauty to songs like Thousandfold (below).  They're a large band with a wide base of musical ability, with many multi-instrument members that help keep their sound diverse.  One of the female members even plays a Hurdy-Gurdy, a Hungarian instrument that is like a violin with a turncrank and an accordion-style keyboard.  Eluveitie's sound is heavy, while still being groovy and fun.  I definitely recommend them, and their album is only 5 dollars this month for download on Amazon: Everything Remains (As It Never Was)

 Valient Thorr - Southern rock and punk inspired metal

I saw Valient Thorr open for Mastodon in Madison, and even as the first band on a 4 band bill, they kicked some serious ass.  All of their songs are very energetic, with rapid-fire lyrics and a frenetic drum beat.  There's definitely a strong Southern Rock current flowing through their sound, and their guitar tone sounds very Skynyrd-esque at times.  The vocalist, who goes by "Valient Himself" is intense and fun at the same time, opening songs at times with yelled protestations or political statements, done best on Heatseeker when he opens the album version with "This one goes out to the fan that was digging through my mail.  YOU THINK YOU CAN GET INTO MY PERSONAL BUSINESS, JACK!?!?!"  It's just heavy metal done right, with strong anti-establishment lyrical themes and driving, enjoyable melodies.

Wintersun - Encompasses several genres, notably melodic death metal, folk metal, and so-called "Viking metal"

Wintersun, the side project of Ensiferum vocalist and guitarist Jari Maenpaa of Finland, has only released one album in six years of existence.  That album is fucking amazing.  Jari himself recorded and mastered all of the guitar, bass, keyboards and vocal tracks for the self-titled album, bringing in a drummer from another band to record the drum parts.  Jari even drew the damn cover art for the album.  The tracks are varied in style, with several different vocal and instrumental sounds being worked into the songs, from black metal style shrieks and rasps to clean singing to death metal growls.  Each song creates a unique listening experience, making Wintersun an album that holds up extremely well to repeated listenings.  Jari is an instrumental mastermind, some of the best guitar work I've ever heard is on this album.  You need to do yourself a favor and listen to this album.

I'll be posting more bands in the near future, I intend to make this a repeating post topic.

If you have any recommendations for me, let me know in the comments!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Iron Maiden's legendary Norwegian bar tab

Short post today - it's Friday, what do you expect?  There's a great photo making the rounds on the internet the last few days of the bar tab from one of Iron Maiden's tour stops in Norway.  I know this blog has talked a lot of Maiden recently, but they're fucking awesome, so I see no problem with it.  If you're wondering, that number at the bottom converts to roughly 3,200 USD.  These guys keep it metal.  (Yes, this has been confirmed as legit, the bar owner thanked the band for hanging out there on the bar's facebook page.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock track list released - and it's actually pretty amazing

The track list for what seems like the 834th Guitar Hero game has been released, and I am surprised to see that it's actually pretty awesome.  The game is going to be something of a departure from traditional Guitar Hero play in that the single player mode has been reworked into something called "quest mode" which plays out more like an adventure game than the "beat these three songs in order to beat three harder songs" formula used by all of the previous games in the series.

I liked the first 3 games in the series, then lost interest when they started adding drums and giving every band in the world their own video game.  If every kid that spends most of their time playing guitar hero used that time to learn to play a real instrument, there'd be a lot more musicians in the world; but I suppose playing GH is better than mainlining amphetamines in the alley behind the school, so it evens out.  The full tracklisting is below, featuring the FULL VERSION of Rush's 2112 and a "last-boss" song called Sudden Death that Dave Mustaine of Megadeth wrote specifically for the game.  I think it's a pretty kickass list, despite the appearance of Fallout Boy.  I might consider picking this one up.

A Look Back: the Dark Decade of Iron Maiden

President Obama has named this week Iron Week in honor of their first album of the new decade and their first album in four years, and to celebrate I thought I would look back at Maiden in the 1990s. My original plan was to review The Final Frontier, but the album is extremely complex and I have not had enough time to fully digest it yet--but look forward to a review post in the near future!

Anyone will tell you that the 80s was Maiden's best decade of songwriting, and they'll probably be right every time. Of course, all good things must come to an end, and with the departure of Adrian Smith in the late 80s, Iron Maiden began to show signs of weakness with the Nirvana and Grunge plagues killing off most GLAM (which is an acronym standing for Gay Los Angeles Music, according to Dave Mustaine) bands and metal as a whole. I will begin by analyzing each of the albums from the 1990s, followed by pointing out the changes the band went through during this time:

No Prayer for the Dying-
In my opinion, this is Iron Maiden's worst album ever released, and most other fans will either agree with me or claim Virtual XI is the worst (more on this later). In this album, we have Iron Maiden getting as close to the mainstream as we will ever see them along with an odd scowl (not quite a scream, not quite a growl) from Bruce Dickinson that was rarely seen but is now on every track. Fans of Dickinson's side project might recognize the scowl from his first solo album, as well as a "Maidenized" version of Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter which became the band's only #1 single ever. The song has a classic guitar solo sound, but aside from that, it has few redeeming qualities and several odd transitions throughout the song--such as the haunting humming or the clunky guitar strumming from verse to verse. Overall, each song showcases Bruce's new experimental singing style, delivers some new crazy solos from new guitarist Janick Gers, and overall could be easily skipped by most Maiden enthusiasts (with a few selections). Be sure to check out the awesome Holy Smoke video; while not a classic Maiden song, the music video is just silly and adds a great deal to the band's reputation: Holy Smoke

Strong Points:
Fate's Warning
Title Track
Holy Smoke (video)

What to Avoid:
Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter

Fear of the Dark-
This album is my personal favorite from the 90s, and most fans will agree upon seeing the title of the album matching up with one of Maiden's most popular songs. Upon first listen, the primary difference the listener will notice between this album and previous efforts is that almost every song is dark or has a dark side, and according to drummer Nicko McBrain, this may be in part to main songwriter Steve Harris going through a divorce at the time. This album contains it all: a few experimental songs, classic Maiden sound, a long-ish length song that would become a fan favorite, and outstanding guitar riffs and solos. The first track, Be Quick or Be Dead, is one of the experimental songs where Maiden cranks up the adrenaline, write some of their fastest riffs and solos, and show Bruce using the scowl he picked up from No Prayer. The song also nabbed the #2 position on the UK charts and had decent air time on MTV.
The next song, From Here to Eternity, was was a bit on the "poppy" side, featuring a sing-along chorus and a music video with explosions, a biker chick, the devil, and the band performing on an island surrounded by lava. Despite not being the classic sound I love, Beavis and Butthead gave the video a positive review, and in the end, isn't that the only thing that matters?
The high points of the album for me came from the title track, the underrated political statement Afraid to Shoot Strangers, and the chilling into from Judas be my Guide. Afraid to Shoot Strangers is, in my opinion, the only Dickinson-era song Blaze Bayley (who will be discussed soon) actually sings BETTER than Bruce, and as such, it became a staple in almost every live show the band played while Bayley was the frontman. In General, this album still features the questionable scowl of Dickinson throughout, but should still be given a solid effort by any fan, if only to learn the origins of the immortal title track.

Strong Points:
Title Track
Afraid to Shoot Strangers (there's a riff that starts about halfway through that's just amazing. Listen to the song and you'll know which one :D)
Judas be My Guide
Childhood's End

What to Avoid:
Wasting Love (some like this one, but I only see it as a vain attempt to make a power ballad)
Most live performances during this time period; Bruce was planning on leaving for a while and only gives about 70% effort

Blaze Bayley Era-
I will preface this section by saying that I have not listened to either of these albums in their entirety, but I have heard almost every song on its own.

The X Factor-
Starting off with the Bayley section, I will give an enthusiastic nod to Sign of the Cross--a song from this era that probably makes my top 5 Maiden songs of all time. The song is, according to recorded length, the second longest song ever recorded by Iron Maiden, edging out the newest epic off of The Final Frontier and falling short of Rime of the Ancient Mariner. There's not much I can say about this song, other than it follows traditional Maiden protocol of epic songs (defined by Hallowed be Thy Name, Rime, Alexander the Great, etc.) with numerous time changes, thrilling mood changes, dynamic guitar solos, and a long instrumental section. This song was a rarity of the two, because three songs from this album would reappear on the setlist when Bruce Dickinson re-joined in 1999: Sign of the Cross, Man on the Edge, and Lord of the Flies.
Overall, this album once again shows off Harris' brilliant songwriting while showcasing a new vocalist with songs that were made specifically for him and his vocal range. Though this album is not strongly remembered by fans, Steve Harris claims that it is one of his best works of all time alongside Number of the Beast. The bottom line, of course, is that Harris is still the primary songwriter, so the songs still have validity even if you don't like Bayley.

Strong Points:
Sign of the Cross
Lord of the Flies
Blood on the World's Hands
2 A.M.

What to Avoid:
Man on the Edge
Bayley's version of The Trooper

Virtual XI-
This is the album I have listened to the least. It only contains eight tracks, and of those eight tracks, I would recommend the Scottish themed song The Clansman, the Spanish-titled-but-hard-rocking Como Estais Amigos, and the short and fast-paced Futureal. These songs carry on the trend of Harris writing songs to fit his new singer's style and are a staple of the Blaze Bayley era. To me, this album is a rarity because it contains a song longer than eight minutes that, for lack of a better word, sucks. Withholding any "that's what she said" remarks, the longer the song the better is a term that applies to most Iron Maiden songs, but the Angel and the Gambler is the surprise variable, and because it was a single, it is often the reason Virtual XI is overlooked. The chorus line is repeated 22 times for some ridiculous reason, with a good portion of them being sung at the end in rapid succession. The music video for the single (which was a considerably shorter song) featured some cheesy CGI music video effects that Maiden would tamper with over the next few years and a feature that never completely won me over. Not to mention that the song feels like a trip to a 50s diner with a dash of the Maiden sound.

Strong Points:
The Clansman
Como Estais Amigos

What to Avoid:
Angel and the Gambler

This post has become rather lengthy, so I will conclude the only way I know how:
In conclusion, I learned a lot about the American Civil War and it was very inspiring to me. I hope my report was educational and fun to read for you.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Introduction, Rock Heroes, and That Metal Show

Hello readers! It's me, FunOnABun! I have been invited to do some guest posts on Alex's blog, so this is what I intend to do when I have the time and the motivation. The good thing about being a guest poster is the fact that I do not have to worry about things like "it's been a while since I've posted, I better get on that!" or "oh no! My blog is losing viewers!" Though I would enjoy seeing this site as the first stop for metal musings and info, I'm also perfectly fine with remaining mostly obscure.

With that out of the way, I would like to move into showering some unsung heroes of rock/metal with the praise they rightfully deserve. These heroes are not remembered (by me, at least) for their music, but for aiding rock and metal through other, non-musical means. I'll start with one who you probably know but might not associate with metal outside of Glam:

Dee Snider-
Yes, Dee "big blond hair drag queen we're-not-gonna-take-it" Snider. In the mid eighties, Snider was the crazed crusader against the man and your father for teenagers looking for somewhere to belong. He let teens know that they didn't have to put up with the shit their teachers and parents throw at them, and to just rock out. This is not why I think he's a metal hero, however, as he was one of the only opposing forces the rock community could muster in the face of censorship. In 1985, an organization of politicians and parents dubbing themselves the Parents Music Resource Center began to label songs as unfit for a child's ears and sought to censor these songs. Snider, along with the unlikely allies of John Denver and Frank Zappa, Snider appeared before court and defended their music. Though the Parental Advisory Act did pass (you can see the stickers on numerous metal albums), no further censorship was administered to any music the PMRC deemed uncouth.

Another less groundbreaking reason I admire Snider is because he truly loves and respects his fans, and this was shown in an interview of him I saw a while back--sometime in 2008. The Interviewer asked why Twisted Sister still puts on the makeup and fishnets after 20+ years, and Snider responded something to the effect of "I've grown tired of it, but our fans still love to see us the way we were back in the 80s, so we continue to do it for them." Whether this actually holds any validity is unknown, but the guys from Twisted Sister still dress in their famous drag queen attire after 25 years, and you have to respect that, right?

Eddie Trunk-
This name may not sound familiar to you because Eddie Trunk has not performed in any big-name or popular bands and is more of a behind-the-scenes guy. Growing up in the late 70s, Trunk was often ridiculed for wearing a KISS t-shirt (after KISS went disco); his favorite bands, KISS and UFO, were also criticized often, but Trunk never yielded his love for these bands. Trunk was also known for working at Megaforce records, and for being the person who recommended the label sign Metallica to record their debut album Kill 'em All.

To this day, Eddie Trunk still spreads the word of metal whenever he can, which is how I was introduced to him in the first place as the co-host (along with two comedians who are also fans of the music) of a show dedicated entirely to discussing hard rock and heavy metal, which is a good lead-in to my next topic:

That Metal Show-
Shown only on the VH1 Classic channel and on , that metal show is fairly unknown in the metal world. The basic premise of the show is that of your standard talk show with many common elements: a guest musician from the rock/metal community, two minute arguments on opposing ideas/bands/albums (Metallica v Megadeth, Iron Maiden's first album v Killers, Ozzy Sabbath v Dio Sabbath, etc.) and Picks of the Week. Some of my personal favorite guests on the show include Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson (Rush), Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Rob Halford (making two appearances), Brian Posehn (yes, the comedian), and Alice Cooper, and the show is obviously more enjoyable if you like the guests on each episode. I will admit to choosing not to watch episodes where Winger and Dokken are the guests, because a good chunk of the show is dedicated to talking with the artists about current and future plans and projects.

The show does a spectacular job of touching several different topics of our favorite bands from the late 70s and 80s, but my biggest criticism is the lack of attention the show gives to new metal (not the n-e-w spelling and not n-u) bands--outside of occasionally picking a modern metal band for the Pick of the Week. Don't get me wrong, I love hearing about the latest news about older bands that I enjoy, but I feel any bands formed past the year of 1988 are grossly ignored (the only exception being that the lead singer of Hatebreed was the guest on one episode). As metal fans, I'm sure they would like to see metal thrive for several years to come, and this can be achieved by turning old fans on to some newer stuff. Aside from this fault, most of the episodes are enjoyable and often funny, and I would recommend any metal fan to check out the show's website at and selecting the episodes with a guest whose music or personality you enjoy.

Thus concludes my first post on the legendary blog Weaponized Wisdom. Iron Maiden's new album is set to release tomorrow and I am 95% sure I will be picking it up then. Stay tuned for a review of the album as well as numerous other topics I would like to touch on before...something happens.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Big Four DVD is coming in October!

Yes!  Even though it was pretty much a foregone conclusion, it makes me extremely happy to see that the first-ever Big Four show in Poland is going to be released as a live DVD in October. reports:

On October 13th, Universal Music Japan is releasing The Big Four Regular Edition single DVD and The Big Four Deluxe Edition two-DVD/five CD package documenting the landmark event where METALLICA, SLAYER, MEGADETH and ANTHRAX played together for the first time in their history at the Sonisphere Festival at Bemowo Airport in Warsaw, Poland in front of 100,000 fans on June 16. The complete tracklisting is unclear, but the Deluxe Edition also features an event poster, posters from each band (four posters) and guitar pick (subject to change). The Box size: 20.5 x 15 x 4cm (subject to change). 

Wow, I may even have to spring for the deluxe edition, depending on what the posters look like.  I love live music, and a concert DVD is the next-best-thing to actually being there.  

With that out of the way, I am going to be moving apartments this weekend and wont have internet until the 17th.  Might be a slight hiatus in posting, depending on my ability to get access.  Keep it metal.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Do music videos have a place in metal?

Tonight I'm looking into the issue of the heavy metal music video.  Are they necessary?  Memorable?  Do they contribute anything to the genre and the scene?  Answers to all this and more in tonight's post.

In my experience spending long hours on Youtube and occasional viewings of MTV2's Headbangers Ball at frickin 2 AM on Mondays or some ungodly hour, metal videos tend to be one of two things: trippy as balls, with no real story being told whatsoever; or  imagery-driven videos primarily featuring the band as they play the featured song, making sure to cut to a new shot every 2 seconds. 

For some examples of what I'm talking about, here's one that pretty much fits the first description, and might haunt you for some time after watching it:

That song is about Captain Ahab's hunt for Moby Dick.  Confused?  I was too.  The video is set in a circus for some reason, and the clown with the green beard is going to haunt my dreams.  The video has no relation whatsoever to the lyrical content of the song.

For a video that fits the description of the second kind of metal video, the straightforward, "here's the band playing this song featuring lots of camera angles" check out this video by Amon Amarth:

This one's about the viking warriors departing to Europe to do some raiding and shit, but the video is set in a decrepit shack and the band is just rocking out and doing lots of hair windmills.  Not to discourage windmilling, it's badass, but the video just doesn't contribute much to the music.

I suppose there's also a third kind of music video, the kind that really tries their best to capture the song's intent.  This one tries, though the end result is kind of cheesy and feels half-assed, which is a common theme in metal videos:

Clearly, professional actors were not required for any parts in that video, and the fight choreographer appears to have called in sick on the day of the shoot. 

All of these songs are kickass tunes, but the videos to go with them are pretty weak when compared to some of music's more memorable videos.  I won't say the videos detract from the music itself, but they definitely don't do any favors for the artists when they're done poorly.  I first saw the Blood and Thunder video when I was about 16 or 17, and I was convinced upon my first viewing that Mastodon wasn't for me, though it was probably due more to my crippling fear of clowns than anything else.  Since then I've come to love Mastodon, they're one of my favorite bands, but if someone tried to introduce me to them by showing me one of their videos I'd probably just shrug and move on.

I really don't think metal needs music videos.  The labels probably feel compelled to produce them so that the bands can get more exposure and so that people can get familiar with what the band looks like, but is it really worth it?  Metal music has always been experienced with the ears first; it is loud, nuanced, and rhythmically complex music.  It is an aural experience first, and a visual experience second.   

Pop music, on the other hand, has a definite visual aspect to it.  Pop singers and artists are generally considered to be young, attractive, and photogenic.  A major part of the pop artist is their personal image, and being good in front of a camera is as important, if not more important, than actually being a talented musician in the superficial world of mainstream pop.  Lemmy Kilmister would not get far in this genre: 
Holy shit.
Occasionally, very rarely, a metal video will come along that lives up to the song it is set to.  The best example that comes to mind is Metallica's 'One,' which features footage from Johnny Got His Gun, the film that the song was inspired by, about a wounded, tormented soldier in a hospital.  The video actually adds to the song's message, reinforcing the images provided by the lyrics with footage and sound clips from the film, further illustrating the horrors of war:

Summarizing - metal videos generally suck, are unnecessary in a genre where superficial shit like personal appearance doesn't matter, and though a diamond in the rough is found every once in a while, metal artists should spend more time on tour playing for their fans than in movie studios making music videos.

Agree?  Disagree?  Have a music video so awesome that it destroys my entire argument?  Post in the comments below.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Van Halen back in the studio? EXCELLENT!

According to, the 80s powerhouse Van Halen is back in the studio with original vocalist David Lee Roth: click here for the story. 

The lineup will have Roth on vocals, Eddie Van Halen on guitar, his brother Alex on drums, and Eddie's son Wolfgang (kickass name) will be on bass.  They haven't worked with Roth for quite some time, so it will be interesting to see if his vocals have stood the test of time.  My guess is that Sammy Hagar was probably too busy with his supergroup Chickenfoot (hate that name with a fiery passion) to help out with this one.

Personally I'm pretty excited to see what they turn out.  I've always been a fan of EVH's riffs and neoclassical soloing style, and I hope he's not going to hold anything back on this album.   I'm probably getting my hopes up too much, but hey, they've put out great stuff before, who's to say they can't do it again?

Something along the lines of this would be fine:

That's all for today, if you have an opinion on this or are offended at my mocking of Chickenfoot, let me know in the comments.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ozzy says Black Sabbath reunion is "very, very possible"...and there was much rejoicing

Today I figured I'd do a story about Sabbath on the Sabbath...bad pun.  It seems that Ozzy Osbourne is open to the idea of a Black Sabbath reunion album / reunion tour, based on a recent interview with metal news site  In the interview, Ozzy said: "It's very, very possible that the original Sabbath are gonna finally [get together and] do the ultimate Sabbath album. And we're gonna do a tour, I think. When, I don't know. I spoke to Bill Ward yesterday, and we both say we never say 'never' anymore."

This comes after the news that Ozzy and Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi have buried the hatchet after resolving their dispute about the naming rights for the band, leading me to believe that Tony would also be on board.

Ozzy mentioned Bill Ward (drummer) in his interview, so it seems that Geezer Butler is the last piece of the puzzle.  If this reunion happens and a stop is made anywhere in the Midwest, I'm gonna get there to see it and pay tribute to the true founders of heavy metal.  

Sidenote: It has been alleged by fans of the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse that William Murderface's character was inspired by Geezer Butler, though the show's creators refuse to acknowledge this.  I gotta say I can see the about you?

Or maybe he looks more like the dude that Happy Gilmore shoots with a nail gun:

Tough call.  Perhaps we will never know the true answer.  Have a good Sunday, and I look forward to reviewing Blind Guardian's epic new album some time this week.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The origins of the term Heavy Metal might surprise you...

Some rock history trivia for you today: I was doing some reading on the origins of heavy metal music at work today, and I remembered that I once heard that the first recorded use of the term Heavy Metal was in a Steppenwolf song in 1968.  I headed over to wikipedia to check it out and sure enough, there it is in Born To Be Wild:
I like smoke and lightning/
heavy metal thunder/
racin with the wind/
and the feelin that i'm under

I also found out that the first known printed usage of the term was in a Rolling Stone review of an Electric Flag album, also in 1968, where the reviewer described the music as a "synthesis of white blues and heavy metal rock." 

Throughout the seventies the term was used by reviewers in a derogatory sense, with one reviewer describing the music as "brutally aggressive music played mostly for minds clouded by drugs." 

Prior to the term becoming popular, bands like Black Sabbath used to identify their sound as "downer rock," which actually seems to be a pretty apt description to me...

Well class, there is your rock history lesson of the day, hope this has been enlightening.  Know any other cool shit about the early days of metal?  Share it in the comments!

Friday, August 6, 2010

High on Fire is Pretty Great

Short post today, just putting in a plug for High on Fire, a great power trio that most would classify as "stoner metal" for their jam-heavy style and mid-tempo rhythms. 

Their singer, Matt Pike has the best voice for this kind of music, it sounds like he's been smoking 2 packs a day for his entire life.  He's like the evolutionary form of Lemmy Kilmeister of Motorhead.

Their new album Snakes For the Divine is perhaps their best yet, and it's worth a listen.  Check 'em out!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Interesting New Music Recommendation Engine...

Today I stumbled upon, a site that allows you to type in the name of an artist and have an interactive visual map created for you that encapsulates the band's sound and situates them spatially with other bands that share common traits.  I made a map of one of my favorites, Mastodon, and it came out looking like this:

You can then click on the bubble of any related artist and it'll regenerate a new map for that band, allowing you to find related bands pretty easily and in a way that is easy to process.  As opposed to sites like Pandora and that play songs you might like on a streaming basis, liveplasma allows you to pick and choose which artists look like they'd fit best with your interests and then go sample their stuff elsewhere.  I recommend Grooveshark or, you know, youtube. 

My only complaint is that the search doesn't appear to be very deep, which is to say that a lot of smaller or less-known bands seem to have been omitted from liveplasma's application.  Even so, it's worth checking out and provides a distraction from work or whatever else you don't care to be dealing with.

Cheers, and happy hunting.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Godsmack Singer Set to Release Solo Album With A "World Music Vibe"

Looks like Godsmack vocalist Sully Erna has finally announced a release date for his solo debut album that's been 7 years in the making.  It's coming out September 14th, and Erna claims that the album is his best work so far and that it's not rock, but has "more of a World Music vibe."

He says of the album: "It is so pure and organic, every ounce of my blood, sweat and tears has been poured into this body of work. Without a doubt, I have completely exposed myself in this album. More importantly, it's just a very cool musical journey you go on when you listen through. Although, as I've said before, I must emphasize that THIS IS NOT A ROCK RECORD! This is a series of beautifully arranged compositions that I have created over many years. Some compositions are newer, written with the help of my solo band mates. Others have been shelved over time waiting for the right moment to be released. That moment is finally here, and I couldn't be more proud to share it with all of you!"

Couldn't be more full of himself either, it seems, but I guess we'll have to see how this one turns out.  He's released a 30 second clip from one of the songs, called Sinner's Prayer (see below) and there's not much to critique, kinda just sounds like Voodoo:

I'm not saying this album is going to suck, but I'm also not getting my hopes up.   

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Top 5 Great Bands That Also Suck

There are some bands out there capable of making universally appreciated, genuinely good music.  Then there are others that specialize in crap music, bands that are incapable of making anything remotely worthwhile and enjoyable.  And then, there are the bands that somehow manage to do both: bands that make great music while also being terrible.  Here is my list of the top 5 great bands that also suck:

5.  Coldplay
Coldplay's music can occasionally get me to start humming along involuntarily, even though I know deep down that it sucks.  Chris Martin's whiny vocals and overuse of falsetto grates on the ears, and the lyrics are complete shit (see video for evidence) but for some reason you can't help but tap your foot and nod your head when Viva La Vida or Clocks comes on.

4.  Gorillaz
Gorillaz are a strange group in that they don't really perform live and they are represented primarily by cartoons. Where do I begin hating on Gorillaz?  Perhaps with the vocals sounding half-assed on every song?  The lack of any real instrumentation aside from synths?  Still, it's really hard to beat the catchiness and undeniable funkiness of Feel Good, Inc.

3.  The Smashing Pumpkins
Smashing Pumpkins' frontman Billy Corgan has made a career out of being a dick to his fans and making music that is inconsistent at best, and total shit at worst. Their 1995 double-album Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was ambitious and powerful, and was named Album of the Year by Time Magazine.  "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" is a classic and heavy rock song that was a huge part of my early appreciation of rock music.  Contrast that with the crap that came later, like 2007's Zeitgeist, and you'll see why The Smashing Pumpkins know how to rock with the best and suck with the worst.

2.  The Eagles
This one was a no-brainer.  This group started out as a backup band for Linda Ronstadt, and somehow grew to become one of the most popular classic rock acts of all time.  Their greatest hits album is a great example of how a band can both make deep, powerful, and talented performances on one track and totally mail it in on another.  "Seven Bridges Road," on Disc 1, showcases the group's mastery of vocal harmony and is a joy to experience, while "James Dean," on Disc 2 is a hokey-as-hell tribute to the 50s actor that falls flat in every way a song can fall flat.  Mostly the band is just boring, but tracks like Desperado and Hotel California demonstrate that The Eagles are certainly capable of making good music when they feel like it.

1.   U2
If you think about it, U2 doesn't do any one thing better than any other band.  They play really standard rock,  and their late 80s period sounded a lot like everything else that was coming out in the late 80s.  That being said, they continue to sell out stadiums because they have some downright amazing and powerful songs like "Where the Streets Have No Name," "Pride" (In the Name of Love), and "Sunday Bloody Sunday."  They also have some half-assed pieces of shit to go along with them: songs like the horrible "Get On Your Boots" that pretty much rips off Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up" and my God, this pile of garbage titled "Trash, Trampoline, and the Party Girl" that you have to hear to believe:

Sorry you had to hear that, but it sets up this excellent song pretty well, and the video is pretty awesome too:

There you have it, objective proof that U2 is a great band, but also sucks.

Hope you enjoyed the list.  Think I'm full of shit?  Discuss it in the comments!

Baroness' "Blue Record" Only 5 Bucks for the Entire Month!

Baroness is an excellent band that is difficult to place in any particular genre.  Their music is a mix of southern rock, progressive metal, heavy thrash, and sludgy grooves.  I just read through the band's Facebook page that The Blue Record, their newest album, is going to be on sale at Amazon for only 5 dollars through the entire month of August!  If you're a fan of heavy music in any capacity, this is a great opportunity to discover an awesome band.

The Blue Record is one of those albums that is best listened to with Shuffle turned off.  The music takes you along on a wild ride that has both really heavy passages and more lighthearted acoustic compositions.

My personal favorite tune on the record is A Horse Called Golgotha:

The video is weird to say the least, but the song is awesome as all hell. Check out some of their other stuff, if you like it, then get the album!  Baroness is only a few years old as a band, but I'm expecting great things from them in the future.

Here's the link again to the Amazon page where you can pick up the album, or preview the songs:

Dragonforce - Condensed Version

Ever listen carefully to a song and suspect that you've heard it before, even when you know you haven't? I've often wondered why I experience this so often with Dragonforce; was it the lyrics, the guitars, both?

Then I saw this clip on youtube and laughed my ass off:

I think it really captures the band's essence in a nutshell. If you take the lyrics to a Dragonforce song and just randomly rearrange them, odds are you'll end up with the right lyrics for a different Dragonforce song. I bet they just arrange all of their lyrics on their tour bus' refrigerator door with those word magnet things.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Slayer "Can't Jam," According to Drummer

MusikUniverse did a brief interview with Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo to ask him why he was the only member of his band to perform in the Big Four "Am I Evil" jam in Sofia Bulgaria. His response?

"I'm the only one who knows how to jam! The other guys don't do that kind of thing. They know their music once it's written – they don't go up and improvise and enjoy themselves. Jeff Hanneman (rhythm guitar) does a little bit, but Tom Araya (bass) and Kerry King (lead guitar) don't."

Here's the video of the jam, holy shit I wish I coulda been there.

Hetfield, Beladonna, and Mustaine on vocals with Scott Ian, Chris Broderick and Kirk Hammet on lead guitar and all four drummers smashing shit in the back? I've heard this show is coming out on DVD, and I'll definitely have to acquire that DVD in some manner.

Lombardo also hinted that a US Big Four Tour is probably in the cards for the near future, though nothing's set in stone yet.

Not surprised that Slayer "doesn't jam," I never thought much of their musical abilities anyway. Kinda gives me an idea for another post: great bands that also suck.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Review of Avenged Sevenfold's New Album - "Nightmare"

At long last, Avenged Sevenfold have released Nightmare, the band's fifth studio album and perhaps the most interesting to me thus far, for a number of reasons.

Of course, any decent review of the album has to begin by acknowledging the untimely death of Jimmy Sullivan (AKA The Rev), Avenged's drummer, due to a drug overdose back in December. Most of the songs that appear on the album had already been composed, but the drum parts had yet to be tracked. Luckily for metal fans, the band reached out to The Rev's drum idol, Dream Theater percussionist Mike Portnoy, and asked him to fill in for Jimmy. Portnoy agreed, and ended up turning in a not-unexpected superb performance.

Nightmare is, in my opinion, Avenged's most musically diverse album to date. It opens with the current radio hit "Nightmare," a catchy and groove-heavy song that kicks the listener right in the face to jumpstart the album and set the tone for what's to come. Here's the video:

"Welcome to the Family" has a sound reminiscent of the self-titled album, with soaring choruses and an angry, whispered bridge section.

"Buried Alive" is my personal favorite from the album, with a very Metallica-sounding progression from a bluesy intro into a progressively heavier and heavier sonic assault.

The raging "God Hates Us" should placate fans of the band's early stuff, with intense screams and a relentless rhythm coupled with downright filthy breakdowns. Sure to be a crowd-pleaser live.

Another highlight for me was "Fiction," said to be the last song The Rev wrote before he died, and is the only song on the album to feature his vocals. The lyrics are dark and foreboding, and it gives the listener a bit of perspective on The Rev's state of mind in his last days, which, combined with the haunting piano backdrop makes for a very eerie listen.

That being said, the album has a few too many ballad-y songs for my taste. "So Far Away," "Tonight The World Dies," "Victim," and "Save Me" are all solidly in the soft rock or modern rock category, and while the lyrics reflect the band's dark state of mind in the wake of the loss of their bandmate, there's not much more to them. As much as I hate to classify them as filler material, that's what my gut has me saying.

This album doesn't take many chances, doesn't particularly innovate in any real way, and trods on a lot of familiar territory for this band. However, it's still an enjoyable listen, and a fitting tribute to the loss of Jimmy Sullivan. Even a good, not great album by Avenged Sevenfold is leaps and bounds ahead of most releases this summer. Worth picking up, but I recommend the digital download on Amazon for only 10 bucks.

My overall, extremely scientific rating? 7.67/10

If anyone has the album and wants to tell me I'm full of shit, please feel free to do so in the comments!


Welcome to my blog! This being my first official post, I figured I'd start things off with a bang, so to speak.

A few weeks ago I traveled with some friends to Illinois to see the legendary Iron Maiden live at an outdoor concert. Probably the best show I've ever seen, definitely in the top 3. Most of the material the band played was off of their 3 most recent studio efforts, which was a bold choice considering the band's extensive and well-loved collection of hits on their older albums. The decision to play mostly new stuff seems to have paid off, at least in my opinion. I was exposed to several songs that I'd never taken the time to listen to, and all of them were pretty great. It's hard to go wrong with Maiden, I guess.

The first two or three songs were plagued with sound problems (speakers too low, mixing was off, as some instruments were louder than others and Bruce was nearly inaudible) but the sound guys got it figured out sometime in the middle of "Wrathchild" and it was loud and rockin' for the remainder of the show. Dickinson dedicated "Blood Brothers" to recently deceased Ronnie James Dio of "Holy Diver" fame, which was a fitting tribute to one of Rock's elder statesmen.

The entire crowd went insane during "Fear of the Dark," and continued to rage out of control during the encore of "Number of the Beast," "Iron Maiden," and "Running Free."

Here's me making a fool out of myself during "Iron Maiden":

A great time was had by all.

Again, welcome to my blog and keep checking back, new content should be posted daily or near-daily.