UG Articles Archive

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Best Things That Happened in 2010

After a short break, I am making my grand return to regular posting with my "Best of 2010" list, encompassing the music and events of the past year.  I thought about doing "Top 10 Albums of 2010" but those lists generally result in 1 or 2 real favorites being at the top and the next 8 or 9 being more or less tied for the same position, which is boring and nobody likes boring things.  Except fans of The Shins.  The Shins are the most boring band I've ever heard and people still seem to like them, probably just for the irony of pretending to enjoy a crappy and boring band while secretly loathing it.  But I digress. 

Here, then, is the list.  All selections on this page are mine, and while I am open to bribes, the votes have not been tampered with thus far.

Best Live Concert Experiences:
Note that I said "experience" and not just "Best Live Show."  This factors in the environment, the audience, the bill, the music, and the overall vibe I took away from the concert.

3.  Valient Thorr at the Frequency in Madison
This show, from what I can remember of it, was the most energy I've ever seen a band dedicate to a room of about 60 to 80 people.  The venue was downright TINY for a band that will be appearing at this year's Wacken Open Air festival, but that didn't stop the vocalist, Valient Himself, from thanking each and every one of us for coming out to see them and listening to some rock n roll.  I decided to become a real Thorrior for this show, purchasing a jean jacket and ripping the sleeves off to create a vest before the show, and I ended up in the very first row, headbanging with Valient and bracing myself on the stage monitors whenever the moshers behind me surged forward.  I even threw myself into the mosh a few times, which was great fun in a room about 20 feet across.  The music was great - VT played with such amazing intensity and energy, and the onstage antics of Valient Himself, including jumping into the audience and sitting on the floor to lead us in a round of synchronized rowing, never failed to entertain. 

2.  Iron Maiden at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater in Chicago
This show, to me and the friends that were there, was very special.  Having watched the Iron Maiden documentary "Flight 666" several times, and saying to myself "I so wish I was there" during each set of concert footage, I finally could say that I was at an Iron Maiden show.  The opener was Dream Theater, which was great although their 45-minute set allowed them to only play about 4 songs.  Maiden themselves eventually came on, and despite sound problems during the first 2 songs, played one of the most amazing live shows I've ever seen.  Bruce was hilarious in between songs, and the band played better than most groups half their age.  The energy and crowd participation during "Fear of the Dark," "Iron Maiden," "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and "Running Free" was astounding and frankly a little overwhelming.  The several hours that I was at this show have been left in my memory as a blur of awesome music, singing crowds, Maiden flags, and warm summer weather.  Couldn't have been better.

1.  The Jagermeister MusicTour at the Rave in Milwaukee
This shows takes the top spot for a variety of reasons.  First, the lineup was the best selection of bands on any concert bill that I have ever seen, short of a real "Big Four" show.  Secondly, for the size of these bands, the venue was rather small, which made it that much easier to see these bands up close and personal.  I may never get to be about 10 feet from the guys in Megadeth ever again.  Third, the music was phenomenal.  Both Megadeth and Slayer played their most classic albums (Rust in Peace and Seasons in the Abyss, respectively) in their entirety, as well as several of their most popular tunes from their discography.  Finally, the crowd was just insane the whole night.  The mosh pits opened up during Anthrax's "Caught in a Mosh" and stayed that way all the way through Slayer's final song, "Raining Blood."  I have never seen a bigger pit than right at the end of that show. 

Best Albums:
Since I don't care for ranked lists all that much when it comes to albums, and since I love these albums too much to rank one above the others, here's a bulleted list of some of the best to come out this year:

  • The Sword - Warp Riders
  • Blind Guardian - At the Edge of Time
  • Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit
  • Stone Sour - Audio Secrecy
  • Kalmah - 12 Guage
  • Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare
  • Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
  • Eluveitie - Everything Remains (As It Never Was)
  • Slash - Slash
  • Johnny Cash- American VI: Ain't No Grave
  • High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine
  • Powerglove's "Saturday Morning Apocalypse" is great fun to listen to, but really isn't one of the best of the year.  I have enjoyed it heartily, either way.

Top News Stories of 2010:
Ronnie James Dio Dies-  The death of Ronnie James Dio had a profound effect on the world of rock and metal, as the genre lost one of its greatest singers of all time.  Many fans and artists made tributes to Dio through music and writing, and his memorial service in Los Angeles was attended by thousands.  We'll never forget ya, Ronnie.

Slipknot Bassist Paul Gray Dies - Shortly after the metal world lost Dio, Slipknot's bassist died of an overdose of medication.  This was quite a blow to the band and its fans, and while the band initially claimed to be splitting up, there is now talk of going back out on the road and touring with a "behind the scenes" bassist, relegated even further down in the mix and in the back of the stage than a bassist usually is. 

The Big Four Tours Europe, Announces 2011 Tour Plans - This past summer, the Big Four of Thrash Metal - Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer, toured 6 or 7 Eastern European cities as part of the Sonisphere Festival.  The show in Sofia, Bulgaria was broadcast into movie theaters around the world for a special live concert event, and a DVD was produced, which has already sold hundreds of thousands of copies.  Being an owner of the aforementioned DVD, I can confirm it was a pretty special concert.  The four have decided to do it again in 2011, having announced two dates thus far, again Sonisphere shows in London and Paris.

Mike Portnoy Leaves Dream Theater, Joins Avenged Sevenfold After Death of Jimmy Sullivan
This was a pretty devastating piece of news for Dream Theater fans, and a pretty awesome piece of news for Avenged Sevenfold fans.  Portnoy told fans that he was tired of Dream Theater and ready for something new, and A7X provided that opportunity.  Avenged did a long set of tour dates with Portnoy on drums following the death of their drummer Jimmy Sullivan back in December of 2009.  I attended one of these shows, and Portnoy played very well and seemed to be a tight fit for the band.  However, the band and Portnoy have decided to go their separate ways after 2010, and Portnoy's future is unclear.  Dream Theater has now claimed to have selected a new drummer and are waiting for the right moment to make the announcement.

Limewire Shut Down - I guess this counts as big news, but it didn't effect me at all.  All of my 13-year-old-girl readers were super angry, though, and didn't come out of their rooms til Mom got them the new Taylor Swift album.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mötorhead to tour North America in 2011

That's right, fresh off re-recording their classic "Ace of Spades," British heavy metal pioneers Mötorhead are ready to tour the U.S. and Canada in early 2011 in support of their newest album, "The Wörld Is Yours.

The album has been well-received by critics thus far, and I'll be sure to check it out soon.  The tour is going to be a long one, with over 25 performances planned across the U.S. and Canada, including shows in Minneapolis and Milwaukee (at the Eagles Ballroom).  The full tour schedule is here:

01/25 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
01/28 – Reno, NV – Knitting Factory
01/29 – Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues
01/31 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
02/02 – San Francisco, CA – Warfield
02/04 – Seattle, WA – Sodo
02/05 – Portland, OR – Roseland
02/07 – Vancouver, BC – Vogue
02/09 – Edmonton, AL – EEC
02/10 – Calgary, AL – Flames Central
02/12 – Winnipeg, MT – Burton
02/15 – Minneapolis, MN – 1st Ave
02/16 – Milwaukee, WI – Rave Ballroom
02/17 – Kansas City, MO – Midland Theatre
02/19 – Chicago, IL – Congress
02/20 – St. Louis, MO – Pops
02/22 – Grand Rapids, MI – Orbit
02/23 – Detroit, MI – Royal Oak
02/25 – Kitchener, ONT – Elements
02/26 – Toronto ONT, – Koolhouse
02/28 – New York, NY – Best Buy
03/01 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
03/03 – Sayerville, NJ – Starland Ballroom
03/04 – Atlantic City, NJ – House of Blues
03/08 – Austin, TX – Stubb’s
03/10 – Tempe, AZ – Marquee Theatre
03/11 – Los Angeles, CA – Nokia Live

I might just have to head over to Milwaukee for this one, it's not every day one of the true founders of the heavy metal genre passes through your area.  Notice they're largely avoiding the South...interesting.  

Monday, December 20, 2010

A few of my better concert photos from 2010

Today I've decided to post a brief collection of what I feel are some of the better photos I've taken at concerts.  I'm definitely an amateur, so if you came here expecting professional quality (haha, right) you're out of luck.  Without further ado, here is some of my better concert photography from the past year.

 October 16th - Jagermeister MusicTour, Milwaukee, WI

Megadeth Bassist Dave Ellefson salutes the crowd

The legendary Dave Mustaine shreds on a double-necked guitar

Anthrax vocalist Joey Belladonna belts it out to a packed house

I found this picture of Slayer's Jeff Hanneman to be particularly evil-looking

October 4th, 2010 - Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival, Madison, WI

Avenged Sevenfold stole the show with their theatrical entrance (see dummy hanging from the rafters) and intricate stage production.

There were an impressive amount of lighters in the crowd as Avenged Sevenfold paid tribute to their late drummer, Jimmy Sullivan.

Disturbed's David Draiman and Dan Donegan in front of their massive moving projection screens, which made a versatile backdrop for Disturbed's stage show.

Though his vocals were clearly strained, Draiman fought on to play a solid set on the last show of the festival tour.

July 4th - RUSH, Milwaukee, WI

I had grass seats in the amphitheater for this show, so the view was less than ideal.  The music, however, was divine.

A pretty decent shot of Geddy Lee (stage right, also big screen) and Alex Lifeson (stage left)

And there's Geddy again on the "Time Machine"- themed screen.  Another somewhat theatrical show.

July 18th - Iron Maiden, "The Final Frontier Tour," Chicago, IL
Again, sat on the lawn so couldn't get very close.  I was sitting pretty far back...
This far back.  Remember that weird lookin albino dude and the fat guy in front, those that were there with me?

Truth be told, I actually forgot to take pictures during the show because I felt like I should have been taking it all in and living in the moment, rather than trying to preserve that moment in photos.  To make up for the lack of pictures, here's the setlist:
01. The Wicker Man
02. Ghost Of The Navigator
03. Wrathchild
04. El Dorado
05. Dance Of Death
06. The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
07. These Colours Don't Run
08. Blood Brothers
09. Wildest Dreams
10. No More Lies
11. Brave New World
12. Fear Of The Dark
13. Iron Maiden
14. The Number Of The Beast
15. Hallowed Be Thy Name
16. Running Free

It looks like those are all of the shows to which I remembered to bring my camera.  This post should also have pictures of the Mastodon, Baroness, Valient Thorr, and Between the Buried and Me show I attended in Madison, the Nonpoint Show in Madison, and the Big Four show I attended in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Okay, not that last one.  That was a lie.  Not a very good one, either.

That's all for now, look for my inevitable "BEST OF 2010" post in the near future.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Portnoy's done with Avenged Sevenfold, also this parrot is awesome

Nice Dethklok shirt!
So, it looks like former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and Avenged Sevenfold are going their separate ways at the end of this year, as it was decided in the beginning of their touring schedule. 

Portnoy posted this message on his facebook page today:

Yes, the rumours are true...sadly my time with Avenged Sevenfold has come to an end...

The band has decided to carry on into 2011 without me...I had a great time with them throughout 2010, but it was their choice to end the relationship at the end of 2010 as was always the initial plan....

I had an awesome time on stage with the guys every night and have so many cool memories from the experience with them...I am proud to always be part of the A7X family and history.
I also adore the A7X fans and totally appreciate the way they welcomed me aboard and were so loving and supportive during my time with the band...thank you!
As far as my future, I am excited by the endless musical possibilities that lie ahead of love for music runs very deep and my taste is very broad and ecclectic which will give me the chance to explore many different things and collaborate with many great friends and artists I admire and respect...
Happy Holidaze to you all and c-ya in the New Year,

Where will he go next?  It's tough to tell.  It sounds as if he's going to be branching out away from rock and metal, perhaps.  He spoke a bit about his "very broad and eclectic" musical tastes, so we'll see where he ends up.  

In other news, check out this parrot singing Drowning Pool's "Bodies."  If you don't lol, well, something's probably wrong with you and you should see your physician for lacking the ability to find joy in parrots screaming "FLOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRR!!"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why every rock and metal fan should listen to Johnny Cash

Today's post will be the 100th blog post here at Weaponized Wisdom, and I'd like to thank all of you who have stuck with me since the beginning.  Also a big thank you to all of the readers that have gotten on this crazy train somewhere between then and now.  This is a lot of fun for me to do, so don't expect me to quit posting new content anytime soon.  With that out of the way, today's topic: Johnny Cash.

You often see homages to The Man in Black from rock and metal bands and personalities.  I've seen Cash gear on members of small bands like Boston's HOWL (sludge metal, played in Madison recently) all the way up to Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour.  Three Days Grace used Johnny's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" for intro music as they took the stage in Madison last January.  I've seen interviews with Mastodon where bassist Troy Sanders is wearing a Johnny Cash T-Shirt.  Clearly, the man is held near and dear to the hearts of many in the rock music industry.

Why, you ask?  Johnny Cash, to me, is the original rock star.  People can say what they want about Elvis Presley, call him the King of Rock and Roll and what have you, but you'll need to prove to me that Elvis was more of a rocker than the guy who went and played free concert in Folsom Prison.  Though his music may have been considered more country than rock and roll, Cash had the attitude of a rock star and lived a lifestyle that would have made the guys in Guns N Roses blush, trying "every drug there is to try" and becoming a heavy alcoholic. 

He remains the only man ever to have been sued by the U.S. government for starting a forest fire; his truck caught fire in California, killing 49 of its 53 California Condors, an endangered species.  When asked why he started the fire, Cash replied: "I didn't do it, my truck did, and it's dead, so you can't question it."  He was unrepentant about the condors too, telling the judge " "I don't care about your damn yellow buzzards."  

He cultivated the image of The Man in Black, contrary to the rhinestones and bright colors worn by other popular artists of his time.  He wore a knee-length black coat over black clothes while on tour, in order to remind people of the poor, the hungry, the beaten down.  It was also in dedication to those lost in Vietnam, saying: "I wore it 'in mournin' for the lives that could have been.' ... Apart from the Vietnam War being over, I don't see much reason to change my position ... The old are still neglected, the poor are still poor, the young are still dying before their time, and we're not making many moves to make things right. There's still plenty of darkness to carry off."  This somber image resonated with rock and metal bands to come later, who by and large dress overwhelmingly in black.

Cash continued making music til he died in 2003 from diabetes complications, and his music got more somber and melancholy as he got closer and closer to the end.  His cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" is one of the most emotional and powerful songs in the American musical catalog.  The previously mentioned "God's Gonna Cut You Down" is a song about God taking his vengeance on sinners and bad men, and how no one can escape Death when he comes calling.  It's very metal.  Similar themes can be found throughout metal music, which deals heavily with the themes of death and its inevitability.  His final two albums, American V and American VI, are, like some metal, difficult to listen to because of the overwhelming sadness and depression emanating from the artist.  Johnny was clearly in a dark place, and it shows through on the records.

From his lifestyle to his music, Johnny Cash WAS rock and roll.  He lived hard and fast, played music that is both invigorating and emotionally heavy, and never compromised.  His devil-may-care attitude and somber appearance have been imitated, but never duplicated.  Johnny Cash deserves all of the homages he receives from rock and metal bands, but if he were still alive, he probably wouldn't recognize it.  Because he just doesn't give a damn.  And that's metal.       

Monday, December 13, 2010

Zakk Wylde aiming for spot on Dancing With The Stars...seriously


Black Label Society frontman, former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, renowned alcoholic and all-around badass Zakk Wylde is looking for fans to support him in his quest to appear on the next season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars.  I'm serious.

Black Label Society's myspace page currently displays a blog post reading:


If you follow the link to the ABC page for Dancing with the Stars, they have asked for commenters to suggest contestants for next year's show, and as of this posting the first several pages are dominated by Zakk Wylde nominations.  I signed in and voted, why not? 

If this happens, I will gladly sit down and watch what will be at the very least the best ever episode of Dancing with the Stars, if not the best hour of television ever to be viewed on ABC.   

Friday, December 10, 2010

Children of Bodom announce new album tracklisting, cover song

Finland's Children of Bodom announced today the official tracklisting and cover art for their forthcoming (spring 2011) album "Relentless Reckless Forever."  The cover art can be seen at the right, larger version here.

The tracklist is below, and includes the cover song that the band has been talking about, "Party All the Time," a 1985 song by Eddie Murphy of "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" fame (it reached #2 on the Billboard charts that year).  I gotta say, this choice kinda came outta left field.  I mean, Eddie Murphy?  I guess we'll see what they can do with it, their covers are generally awesome and funny so I expect more of the same.

Singer/Guitarist Alexi Laiho said of the album: "We worked super hard on this album, at least for me it was pretty much no sleep or rest for six weeks," stated Laiho. "But we were determined to make the best COB album ever, so we were willing to do whatever it took. Of course, having our producer Matt Hyde kicking our asses 24/7 definitely made the results even better, so obviously we're more than anxious to get this album out there"

"The single 'Was It Worth It?' is a total party song", says Laiho. "It's not your typical Bodom sound, but it's one of my favorites and heavy as hell."

Complete tracklisting is as follows:
01. Not My Funeral
02. Shovel Knockout
03. Roundtrip to Hell and Back
04. Pussyfoot Miss Suicide
05. Relentless Reckless Forever
06. Ugly
07. Cry of the Nihilist
08. Was It Worth It?
09. Northpole Throwdown
10. Party All the Time (* Eddie Murphy)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Finding Diamonds in the Power Metal Roughs

Let's go back to 2007. Remember how everyone thought Dragonforce was the greatest thing to happen to the guitar since electricity? Remember Guitar Hero 3? Remember how badly people wanted a Dragonforce song on the game? Don't be a tool and pretend you didn't like Dragonforce back then; everyone did, and if you're reading this blog, I can put money on the fact that you did too. Several months later, however, after realizing the guitarists are only studio magicians and can't keep up live, their songs are all about fantasy and battles, and they rarely try anything innovative, people started associating Dragonforce with crap. We felt hurt that the band was not giving us anything new, we felt angry that Herman Li and what's-his-face weren't as good live as they were on their albums, and we were greedy because we expected them to go higher. Long story short, Dragonforce--and Power Metal as a genre--became despised by most Metal fans after Guitar Hero 3's popularity faded.

Fast forward to today. Dragonforce has ruined most Metal fans' feelings towards Power Metal with their vaguely varying songs, studio-only guitar wizardry and a singer and lyricist that leaves something to be desired after a couple of songs, and so we have the Power Metal stereotypes. My friends, I come here today, after extensive research, to tell you that I have made a few important discoveries while analyzing this genre with my colleague Pandora. There are some outstanding composers and musicians in this genre!

Allow me to start with the bullet-point history of the genre. Basically, this movement was founded on the ideal on which Metal as a whole was founded: heavy riffs and clean vocals. Bands like Helloween and Iron Maiden really touched home in Europe with the unforgettable riffs and unmatched vocal quality, so many bands emulated their music in the 1980s in underground Europe while Glam Metal took its course in America and beyond. As Glam Metal died, Power Metal slowly began to rise with the other subgenres, but could never attain mainstream status like Glam did. Today, Power Metal is one of the more popular genres of Metal--focused primarily in Europe--as evidenced in their frequent appearances in Metal festivals like Sonisphere and Wacken Open Air.

Anyway, my research has led me to find numerous bands worthy of your ear. I have already discussed Nightwish--my personal MVP of the genre--but I will also talk to you about my "other top 3s" and why they stand alone in the Power Metal Genre. Both of these bands have different styles than the other, and I did this on purpose so you, the reader, could more easily find a band you enjoy, add them to your Pandora list, and find even more artists related to them. I will also state here that the songwriters for the following bands are some of the absolute best I've ever heard, so I don't need to repeat it later on. :D

Iced Earth: America's Hope for Power Metal

One of the few popular American Power Metal bands, Iced Earth is well known for taking Thrash-like instrumental work and combining them with the absurdly powerful vocal range of lead singer Matt Barlow (2nd from right) all under the artisan eye of primary composer and band founder John Schaffer (middle). The band originally started out as a pure Thrash band, but has evolved a P.M. sound with fan favorite BarlowMultiple things make me love Iced Earth above other P.M. bands: for one, their singer's power cannot be matched today, as he is both a dynamo live and on record. Second, as an American P.M. band, they have had to work harder to earn the respect of the community, and not only did they do this by becoming a fan favorite, but they also write some fantastic patriotic songs (Declaration Day about our independence from England, When the Eagle Cries about 9/11, etc.). Additionally, their songs vary in tempo and feel, and in my opinion, their best songs are either their very melodic, ballad-esque songs about the loss of a loved one, or the blazing tempo of their harder songs about general kickassery. Lastly, when singer Matt Barlow's relative was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo cancer, Barlow cut off all of his hair to donate to cancer patients who lose their hair during chemotherapy, which was longer than two feet. Class act, I tell ya what.

The only criticisms I have with the band come from the band founder Jon Schaffer, who apparently believes the only way to get your bandmates to work with your band is to fire old ones and hire new guns. Iced Earth's lineup is rather unstable and has seen numerous firings and band members quitting (including an era with Tim "Ripper" Owens, who was later fired, believe it or not). Another thing that I feel is a bit restricting is that Schaffer is the only songwriter for the band. I guess it might be bad to mess with his formula since he's outstanding at what he does, but I can only imagine the ideas the other band members can conjure.

Depending on if you like slower or faster songs, I would recommend giving "Watching Over Me, Melancholy (Holy Martyr), and When the Eagle Cries" for a slower song, and "Pure Evil" as their faster song--a track off their first album that is mostly Thrash Metal.

I also highly recommend their cover album Tribute to the Gods, where you can see most of the bands that influenced Iced Earth's sound, and each cover is at least a B rating, with "Screaming for Vengeance" - Judas Priest, "God of Thunder" - KISS and "Burnin' for You" - Blue Oyster Cult being my favorites.

>Sonata Arctica: Nightwish with a Male Singer

e seen the term "Nightwish with a male singer" used to describe S.A., and I'm inclined to agree that this is the best label for them even though neither band borrowed musical ideas from each other (though the founders of each band are good friends, apparently). I would consider both bands for the Symphonic Power Metal genre, both bands are from Finland, they have toured together, and both lead singers are hot (lead singer Tony Kakko is the shushing homo, though, my friend Danielle swoons over that pretty boy).

What sets S.A. apart from other Power Metal bands are their last three albums, which have shown a gradual departure from the "classic" P.M. sound that started the band to a symphonic symphony of symphonicness. By fusing the keyboard and guitar (and on their latest album, Cello!) rather than allowing guitar solos to dominate, S.A. have been able to produce some exquisite medium-paced Progressive sounding tunes. Their sound isn't as cut and dry as Iced Earth's is, but their most recent albums (the ones I enjoy) all tend to have a beauty sound with a hidden rough edge in the rhythm guitar, but each track has its own unique flavor and none of them make you think "haven't I heard this before?"

My biggest problem with the band is their covers. I would go so far to say they suck, but Tony Kakko's voice is just so strangely unique that it doesn't "click" for me. When I saw S.A. cover Maiden's "Die With Your Boots On," I thought great song + great band = great cover! but the result sounded like it belonged on one of those new Sonic games--it was just painful, and I can't even explain why I didn't like it.

Like I said earlier, their latest three album show their true colors as a Progressive/Symphonic/Power Metal band, and I would recommend the singles off those albums: Paid in Full, Out in the Fields, Flag in the Ground and The Last Amazing Grays. These songs are the best "starter" songs for S.A. and also showcase their evolved sound, so give them a try!

Those are but two of the bands that I feel break out of the rut of generic Power Metal, and I encourage you to find others that you enjoy. Just because Dragonforce's 15 minutes of fame was quashed by repetitive songwriting and inaccurate live performances does not mean every band suffers from this curse. Hell, I'm sure someone could make a stellar argument in favor of Dragonforce and make me look like an idiot, the point of this post is to not dismiss the genre as all Dungeons and Dragons.

See you next Wednesday! ...probably!

Weekly Top Five List (please post your own lists, because this is off the top of my head and I KNOW I'm forgetting one or two)
Cover Songs:
1. All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix (not technically my favorite, but it's just so vastly superior to Dylan's)
2. Tim Owens and various other guest artists - Flight of Icarus (Iron Maiden)
3. Turn the Page - Metallica (Bob Seger)
4. Pantera - Cat Scratch Fever (Ted Nugent)
5. Breaking Benjamin - Who Wants to Live Forever (Queen)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Judas Priest embark on final world tour, Dave Mustaine sucks at subtlety, Big Four US Tour happening

Judas Priest has announced that, after nearly 40 years of rocking, they are ready to hang it up and they're going out with a bang. The band announced this morning that they are set to embark on their final world tour, titled the "Epitaph" tour. So far only a handful of European festival dates are announced (good news for all of my European readers) including the Sauna Festival in Finland which just sounds awesome, but more are promised, including, presumably, some U.S. dates. The press release from the band's website reads:

"After storming the world for nearly 40 years and taking their very special brand of heavy metal to all four corners of the planet, JUDAS PRIEST - one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time, have announced this will be their final world tour!!

However, the mighty PRIEST will certainly be going out strong as they rock the planet starting in 2011 on the massive EPITAPH tour - hitting all the major cities throughout the world they will be playing the songs that helped make the name JUDAS PRIEST synonymous with heavy metal!

With all guns blazing and amps cranked to eleven, the band will be giving all their fans one last chance to witness the ultimate metal experience that is JUDAS PRIEST!

JUDAS PRIEST will be starting their world tour in Europe - we have just confirmed the following festivals for 2011 -

9th June Sweden Rock Festival, Sweden
11th June Sauna Festival, Finland
17th June Copenhell Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark
19th June Hellfest, Nantes, France
22nd June Gods of Metal Festival, Milan, Italy
25th June Graspop Festival, Belgium
23rd July High Voltage Festival, London, UK
5th August Wacken Festival, Germany

Stay tuned as we announce more dates - information will be forthcoming soon - so start getting prepared to rock one final time with the incomparable JUDAS PRIEST!!"

Another "Big" piece of news today comes in the form of a Dave Mustaine tweet: "Just went through a couple weeks of hell arranging something special for summer. Stay tuned! We're going to have some Big shows coming up."

Gonna be just like old times. Mustaine left, James Hetfield right
The capital B in "big" is obviously intentional, leading many including myself to presume that there's going to be a Big Four U.S. tour in summer 2011! Many of the Big Four guys have been hinting at this and jawing about it since the Big Four dates in Europe this past summer, but this is the most explicit any of the guys have been in discussing the tour. I'm expecting something similar to Metallica's Summer Sanitarium Tour, in which the band played nothing but football stadiums. There's gonna be no excuse to miss this tour if you're a metal fan, so save up your money now, I'm guessing tickets will not be cheap.

Monday, December 6, 2010

This "Whole Lotta Sabbath" Mashup is pretty awesome

Hey folks, short post tonight, been busy with work but I'll have a few days off coming up to post some new content.  In the meantime, here's a mashup I found of Whole Lotta Love and War Pigs.  You know the artists, you don't need me to post them, right?

These two songs combined essentially embody everything that made up early heavy metal.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Let it snow - 5 metal songs about winter

The first big snowfall of the season has arrived.  I just got done scraping my car off and I'd say we probably got 6-8 inches of it here in Madison, Wisconsin.  As I've said before, Winter is the most metal of all the seasons, and is a common theme in heavy music.  When I woke up and looked outside, I immediately got the idea for this post, and I've been thinking of songs for the list all day.  Therefore, without further ado, here are 5 of my favorite metal songs about winter:
trapped, winter madness, falling snow

5.  Amon Amarth - Under the Northern Star

This song always reminds me just how dreary winter can be.  The main riff is just fantastic - haunting and catchy at once.  The lyrics talk about warriors returning home after five years of battles as winter approaches:

The icy winter is getting near
Dark skies above us
Biting frost is in the air
Darkness surrounds us

The cold piercing autumn breeze
Fills the longships sail
Soon the lakes and seas will freeze
And snow will lay its veil

4.  Mastodon - Divinations

Okay, so this one isn't about winter per se, but I can't hear the song without thinking about the music video, which features (among other things) the band jamming out Ice Age-style on snow-covered mountains in climbing gear with a reawakened cave man.  Watching the snow fall off the cymbals when Brann Dailor hits them is just  Sorry.

Embedding was disabled by request (thanks WMG!) but you need to watch this video.  Only metal song I know of with a banjo intro.

3.  Wintersun - Winter Madness
Coming from a band named Wintersun, it's no surprise that one can find a few songs about the season in their (one album) catalog.  This one's all about the insanity that excessive time out in the elements can bring on.  Like most Wintersun songs, the lyrics are very poetic, yet delivered in a harsh style.  

Winter - The realm of eternal ice
Snowfall and darkness descends upon the vales of time
Distant caress of the sun's fading light
The lands were painted white with the Winter's might

My hands are frozen, my mind is at the edge of madness
Oh how many nights and days, I've been lost in this land of sadness 

2.  Agalloch - Falling Snow

This song is quickly becoming one of my wintertime favorites.  It's dark and poetic, with guitars that evoke desolate and cold winter scenery.  It's a very atmospheric track, and it's easy to just space out for the entire 9:37 without realizing how much time has passed.  Some of my favorite lyrics:

The snow has fallen
and raised this white mountain
on which you will die
and fade away in silence

Agalloch's music, as I said in a previous post, is full of melancholy-inspiring lyrics such as these.  Music that can summon emotions from the listener is pretty powerful stuff, and you have to respect them for accomplishing that feat, at least in my case.

1. Metallica - Trapped Under Ice

An easy addition to the list, being Trapped Under Ice is, incidentally, one of my greatest fears.  Just the thought of drowning in an ice-covered lake, unable to find the hole you fell through while your limbs begin to numb and tighten up, making every moment more hopeless than the last sends shivers down my spine.  I don't know if I'll be able to be an ice fishing enthusiast like my dad.  Anyway, "Trapped" is just classic Metallica and classic thrash metal.  Don't know if there's a better song to round out the list.

Honorable mention goes to Blood On the Ice by Anvil, a song devoted to hockey fights.  Suggestions from readers will appear here as well, love to hear your take.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Corey Taylor releases Christmas single - and it's hilarious

Every year I get more and more annoyed with the whole Christmas season.  Every commercial on TV is at the very least set to Christmas carol background music, if not an all-out Christmas BUY BUY BUY SANTA REINDEER BELLS TREES GIFTS SHOW YOU CARE BUY THEM THIS motif.  I kinda feel like Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas, wondering where we went wrong and how the real message of this season has been drowned out.  I'm beginning to, dare I say it, dislike this time of year.  Luckily, Stone Sour and Slipknot frontman and all around cool dude Corey Taylor has written an anthem for Scrooges like me.  It's called X-M@$ he claims he "wrote this in honor of crotchety, drunken bastards who don’t know the difference between a yuletide and a toolshed."  Someone get this man a book deal.

The video for the song is below.  After having seen Corey live and in several interviews, this song really captures his personality well.   Bah humbug.