UG Articles Archive

Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Amon Amarth track debuts on Full Metal Jackie

Somehow, Amon Amarth has defied music canon and has actually gotten better with every new album.  It's not totally clear that their new album (releasing March 29th in the US, a week earlier in Europe) will continue this trend, but the track played on Full Metal Jackie's show last night is promising. 

The quality is somewhat lacking, but hey, it's new Amon Amarth, who are you to question it?  The podcast of the whole show should be available on iTunes if you want to hear the full interview with what I assume is one of the members of the band, probably vocalist Johann Hegg. Can't wait til the album comes out and we can hear this one in glorious 5.1 surround sound. 

I loved the new track - the solo section is awesome, and there's a strings part near the bridge that reminds me of "Live For the Kill" off their last album. 

I'm off to listen to this one for the 5th time in a row, have a good Sunday.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Big Four announce one-off US Show in CA

Well, that was disappointing. 

After teasing us yesterday with details of a supposed Big Four US Tour, the bands announced on Facebook their plan to do one show in the US, in Indio, California.  The show will take place on Saturday, April 23rd, on the same grounds the Coachella festival is held the weekend before.

They posted this video to get people excited, but I'm pretty let down by this.

So far the backlash has been pretty negative.  Hundreds of comments on youtube and facebook question the decision to do a single show.  People are asking why Europe got 7 shows last summer, with 2 more to come this summer, and the country that popularized these bands gets 1 show on the West Coast.  Can't say I disagree.

Apparently there are still persistent rumors of a 6-8 show summer tour.  Lars Ulrich made a radio appearance this morning on KROQ in Southern California and said this will not be the only US show, but then again he promises to return to each city they tour "same time next year" at the end of all of their shows.  Best to keep expectations low and be surprised than to hope for more than we end up getting, I suppose.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Big Four Tour is DEFINITELY coming to the US

This morning, Metallica's Facebook page had this image posted entitled: "Coming Soon..."
I went to to see if there were any details, but instead found only this image for the time being:

This obviously leaves no doubt that there will be a Big Four Tour in the US, probably this summer.  I imagine that the details coming tomorrow morning will be dates and venues.  Well, at least I hope so.  I'm anticipating a list of relatively few shows in large outdoor venues.  People will likely be traveling all over the country for this tour, and it wouldn't surprise me if I ended up traveling a bit to see it myself.  Start saving now, readers, because these tickets won't be cheap and I'd be very surprised if they don't sell out.  

Check out tomorrow morning and we'll see what's gonna happen on the BIG FOUR US TOUR!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers plan to release new album in June

No, RHCP fans, you didn't misread that, the Chili Peppers have finished recording their first album in five years and drummer Chad Smith has said it will be dropping in June 2011. 

This will be the band's first album since the departure of guitarist John Frusciante, who left in December 2009 to pursue a solo career.  In his place will be Josh Klinghoffer, who played second guitar live for the band on their Stadium Arcadium world tour and worked with Frusciante on his previous solo material. 

In the time between albums, bassist Flea actually enrolled at USC and studied music theory and classical music. 
"I felt like it really opened up new doors for me as a musician. I started playing the piano and for this record almost all my writing contribution came from the piano which is a new thing for me, a new feeling and sound for the band."

Chad Smith had this to say about the new direction the band is taking:
"It is a new direction because we've got a new guitar player and he's an amazing musician, so it's obviously gonna change," Smith told Grammy Camp.
"But it's also gonna change because we've got a new guy in the group, and he's very talented, very musical. It's fresh, it's fun, everyone is in a good mood, everyone is coming up with lots of good ideas, and I just look forward to what the future is gonna bring. I know it's gonna be different and exciting. It just makes me really happy to get up everyday and go to rehearsals, because I know something new and cool is gonna happen, and so I'm looking for it; it's awesome."

I'm not going to bill myself as the world's biggest RHCP fan, but I generally enjoy their music, and I'm looking forward to see what their new direction their sound takes.  Losing Frusciante was a huge blow to the band in my opinion, some of those guitar licks were absolute genius.  Eager to see what Klinghoffer brings to the equation.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Amon Amarth reveal album art, track list for Surtur Rising, due March 29th

Swedish Melodic Death Metal powerhouse Amon Amarth has officially released the album art and track list for their 8th studio album "Surtur Rising," which releases in the US on March 29th.  I could not be more excited for this album, it seems the band gets better and better with each release.  The band will make an appearance at the 70,000 Tons of Metal Caribbean cruise/ metal festival as an unofficial kickoff to the CD's release.

The album is named after Surtur, the leader of the fire giants of Muspelheim ("flame land") and the oldest being in the nine worlds of Norse mythology.  The band claims it will feature "10 tracks of sword-wielding, fist-pumping, hyper climactic battle anthems."  I really hope this album lives up to the hype its generated thus far, but the album art is certainly a good start.  Here's the cover and the track list:

Surtur Rising Track Listing:

01. War of the Gods
02. Töck's Taunt - Loke's Treachery Part II
03. Destroyer of the Universe
04. Slaves of Fear
05. Live Without Regrets
06. The Last Stand of Frej
07. For Victory or Death
08. Wrath of the Norsemen
09. A Beast Am I
10. Doom Over Dead Man

March 29th can't come soon enough.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Canadian radio station K-97 plays "Money for Nothing" unedited, nonstop for an hour

In response to the CSBC's decision to ban Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" from Canadian airwaves, (see Thursday's post) classic rock radio station K-97 in Alberta decided to play the song unedited for an hour straight this past Friday, January 14th.  From 8pm to 9pm, the station played nothing but "Money for Nothing" as its way of thumbing its nose at the Broadcast Council's ban. 

The station posted a statement explaining the decision:

"K-97 is well aware of the dangers of censorship and the effect it has on Canadian’s Freedom of Speech. K-97 has had many censorship attempts, but through it all the microphones are turned on everyday giving the announcers the freedom to say whatever is on their mind.
Earlier this week the CBSC ruled that the song “Money For Nothing” has violated broadcasting decency standards because of the use of the word “Faggot”. The Dire Straits song was originally released in 1985 and has since aired tens of thousands of times across Canada, has won a Grammy and has been performed by GLBT supporter, Elton John. If you listen to the context of the term, you will realize it is an artistic portrayal of a bigoted person looking at the riches and excess of the music industry.
While some of K-97’s content may be controversial, we respect the right to free speech for all Canadians and songwriters. That’s why K-97 has decided to go against the grain…yet again, and hold a “MONEY FOR NOTHING HOUR”. From 8pm – 9pm on Friday, January 14th, 2011 K-97’s Todd James will be playing the Dire Straits “Money For Nothing” unedited and non stop for the entire hour to express our deep concern about this decision and the precedent it sets."
K-97's website is linked below if you'd like to leave a comment expressing support, or see what Canadian accents sound like on the radio.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Canadian Broadcasting Council rules Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" is too offensive for radio

The wussification of mankind took another great stride forward today as the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council decided that classic rock staple "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits is too offensive for public broadcast in Canada. 

The ruling came down after the Council received a single complaint after the song was played on Oz-FM in Newfoundland last February.  The original version of the song includes the use of the word "faggot" three times.  The verse in question is here:
"See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup
Yeah buddy that's his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he's a millionaire"

The song is told from the perspective of an intellectually lazy, perhaps even stupid character that wishes he could have money for nothing and chicks for free, presumably like the musicians he watches on TV.  His stupidity drives him to make ignorant statements like that in the verse above.  It's satire.  It's mocking dumb people and bigots.  But some people just don't get it.

The complaint received by the Council reads: “Money for Nothing was aired and included the word ‘faggot’ a total of three times. I am aware of other versions of the song and yet Oz-FM chose to play and not censor the version I am complaining about. As a member of the LGBT community I feel there is no reason for such discriminatory remarks to be played on air.

The Council claims to have weighed the song's "legitimate artistic usage" against its Code of Ethics (yawn) which states: "broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability."

It came to the conclusion that the word "faggot," used as it is in the song,  is one "that, even if entirely or marginally acceptable in earlier days, is no longer so."  "The societal values at issue a quarter century later have shifted and the broadcast of the song in 2010 must reflect those values, rather than those of 1985."

Oz-FM will be made to broadcast the details of the decision during peak listening hours.
Well done Canada, you've let one hypersensitive individual with no understanding of the song's meaning or intent ruin the ability of the rest of the country to hear Money For Nothing as it was meant to be heard.   It's censorship, it's suppression of artistic expression, it's wimpy and overly politically correct.  It's bullcrap, and everyone seems to know it except the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. 

Good think there's no such thing as a Weaponized Wisdom Blogging Standards Council.  Here's the song.  There's a censored version out there that subs in the word "mother" but that makes no sense whatsoever.  This is the original:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who would win in a fight: a bolt of lightning or a puppetmaster? Part two of the great Metallica album debate.

I declare this day 'Tallica Tuesday! To celebrate, I will voice my opinion as to why the less critically-acclaimed album Ride the Lightning takes the cake as my favorite Metallica album. Before we begin, however, I would like to direct your attention to the picture of The Dude directly above this sentence and to remind readers that this is all in good fun, and furthermore, there is no logical way of proving which Metallica album is best. Think of my post and the previous post by Alex as guidelines or reminders to aid you in making your own decision!

I like to think of Ride the Lightning (which will be called RTL or Ride henceforth) as the third child that isn't as popular like Master of Puppets or as high-selling as the Black Album, but while he's not truly in the limelight like his siblings, he manifests into the perfect Thrash Metal Album. On an unrelated note, Ride the Lightning is also my favorite Metallica album artwork (seen above in the rare "misprint green"), though this will not be a part of my argument, I just thought it would add nicely to the introduction.

And what better way to start the perfect album than with a track that deceives you into thinking it's an acoustic lullaby? While Fight Fire with Fire is not my favorite "slow intro, ridiculously fast song" song, I truly believe that it is the best executed of those songs, literally going from elevator music to the fastest riff this side of the planet without warning. I honestly think this is one of the best intro tracks to an album, and I can imagine that it slew the audience when the band started with it pre-Master era.

Fade to Black doesn't need me to speak it's good name; its divine songwriting puts itself in the running for top 3 Metallica songs--often at #1 (which is the case for me, because I honestly can't think of a song I enjoy more than it). Metallica fans and critics of the mid 80s will tell you its the band's "sellout" song, and following Kill 'Em All, I can see from where they're coming. While I wouldn't be so bold as to say its the best Thrash Metal song of all time, I have no problem saying its the best Thrash/Ballad hybrid of all time (my apologies to A Tout Le Monde and The Unforgiven). Fade to Black--as the poster boy for RTL--is the one song I'm sure causes most people to reconsider when picking their favorite album.

Borrowing the name from an Ernest Hemingway novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls is another special song, despite having a rather simple song structure. I'm sure you know the intro "guitar" line, right? That's actually bassist Cliff Burton leading the listener into this doom/apocalypse anthem--which is perfect for action/horror movie intros (see Zombieland). The song just seems to perfectly capture a certain terrifying element that makes the song great in its uniqueness, and is also a fan favorite from RTL.

Creeping Death is an often overlooked track, but I consider it in the top 3 from the album. It's consistent throughout the entire song and maintains a fast pace while also containing some of my favorite lyrics (Moses, Pharaoh, plague, Old Testament, etc.). The title track also shares the same consistent intensity, along with one of Metallica's most technically skilled instrumental section.

Closing the Album is Call of the Ktulu [sic] another good completely instrumental song by Metallica. The one point I will yield to Master of Puppets is that I feel Orion is light years ahead of Call of the Ktulu (see picture at the top of my post). Fun Fact: this is the last song to give credit to Mr. Dave Mustaine, though he claims to have played a hand in the creation of Leper Messiah.

Honorable mentions go out to the remaining songs Escape and Trapped Under Ice, with Escape having a catchy and haunting chorus, and Trapped Under Ice maintaining the ferocity of the other tracks from RTL. I truly do enjoy these tracks, but I just don't know what separates them from the rest, so they're just fun songs to listen to rather than song with a progressive or new idea.

I picked RTL as my favorite album not only because of my love for the the tracks I mentioned above, but because it is the only Metallica album I will listen to in the car and not skip any song. Master of Puppets comes close these days, but I still skip The Thing That Should Not Be and Damage Inc. (no offense guys, but you don't have the lasting power I look for when driving). Though RTL will never be as critically acclaimed as MoP or Black Album, it is always in the running of favorite albums by actual Metallica fans along with the other albums that compose the first 5 Metallica albums. I'd like to think RTL set the stage for MoP, and for that--and for personal preference--I will always pick Ride the Lightning over Master of Puppets.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why Master of Puppets is Metallica's best album

I declare today Metallica Monday!  Metallica Monday will officially take place the second Monday of January in every year from now until the apocalypse takes us.  The day will be honored by a Metallica-themed post on this blog as long as I remember the holiday and have something to say about the ban- alright, you caught me, I made up Metallica Monday just to introduce today's post, which will be the first of two "Point - Counterpoint" articles debating which album is Metallica's finest.  Frequent contributor Matt, or FunOnABun, will be providing the Counterpoint column at some point in the next few days. 

At the end of 2010, Metallica's "Black Album" remains the top-selling CD since SoundScan began compiling sales numbers in 1991, barely edging out Shania Twain's "Come On Over" and Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill."  While the Black Album is a solid album, it made me look back at the band's whole catalog, and decide which album I would choose if I could only buy one of their releases.  I finally determined that without a doubt, I would go with Master of Puppets.

Why Master of Puppets is Metallica's Best Album:

Master of Puppets was released on March 3rd, 1986 and is without question one of the most influential heavy metal albums of all time.   It was Metallica's third studio album after Kill 'Em All and Ride the Lightning, and their last album with legendary songwriter and bassist Cliff Burton before his death in a bus crash.  It is on several "Best Albums of All Time" lists, including the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die  and TIME magazine's ALL-TIME 100 Albums list.  Clearly, it has received nearly universal praise.  Why?  The music.

The album begins with "Battery," a classic played with blistering speed and intensity.  The acoustic intro leading into a fast and furious riff is a common theme in today's thrash and heavy metal music, but at the time was a fairly progressive idea.  While "Fade to Black" on Ride the Lightning was probably one of the first popular metal songs to use the acoustic intro, it was more of a ballad than a straight-up moshing tune like "Battery."  Battery is thrash metal at its core.

Another standout in an album where nearly every track has become a classic is the title track.  "Master of Puppets" is the blueprint that thrash bands have followed for the last 20-odd years and is responsible for exposing hordes of radio listeners to the genre.  To this day, "Master" is one of the fastest, heaviest tracks you'll hear on rock radio stations, and was the song that convinced me to explore heavier music and deviate from the Nu-Metal and "active rock" that I had been listening to in high school.  The track is not only masterfully arranged and written, but also is one of Metallica's most meaningful tracks lyrically.  It was written about former Metallica guitarist and Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine and his various drug addictions when he was with the band.  The song is sung from the perspective of the drugs, an interesting take on an old rock and roll stereotype.  "Taste me and you will see / more is all you need / you're dedicated to / how I'm killing you."  It's also a staple of their live show, and you get to yell MASTER at the top of your lungs like 40 times, which is very cool when 20,000 other people are doing the same.

Metallica circa 1986
Other standouts in my opinion are "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)," the haunting and very heavy "The Thing That Should Not Be" and the instrumental track "Orion."  Fans are for the large part very divided about The Thing That Should Not Be, with some claiming it's the worst song Metallica ever wrote and others, myself included, counting it among their best.    It's their only song written in D standard tuning, with the rest of their catalog in E Standard, which tells you immediately that it's one of their darkest and heaviest songs.  It's about the Old God C'Thulhu from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, one of my favorite authors.  It features a solo that can only be described as chaotic.  It remains one of the most unique solos I've ever heard in all of the music I've listened to.  "Orion" is perhaps Cliff Burton's finest accomplishment.  A full 8 minutes of beautiful melody, intricate rhythms, and brilliant interplay between all of the instruments involved, especially the bass.  By now we're used to the bass guitar being relatively difficult to pick out of rock and metal music, and bass players are regularly picked on for being "inaudible" in the mix.  Burton did it differently, and Orion is the finest example of this.  The basslines carry the tune at times, and at others drive the rhythm section.  Clearly audible on the record, you can hear Cliff moving all over the fretboard, interspersing mini bass solos here and there, and utilizing a sound that no other bassist has really ever been able to attain. 

I do believe Metallica will be remembered as one of the most successful bands of the 20th (and 21st?) century, and Master of Puppets has a lot to do with that.  As Metallica's "breakout" album, it exposed an entire generation to the thrash metal music that had, until that point, been largely an underground phenomenon.  There isn't a single bad song on the album, and the best tracks are legendary.  Say what you want about their other tunes, but to most fans, "Master of Puppets" is Metallica's defining song, and in the opinion of yours truly, it's the title track on their best album.   

Be sure to check back soon for a different take from Matt.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Foo Fighters want fans to make new music video

The Foo Fighters have finished their upcoming, as-yet-untitled album and are looking for 11 talented fans to direct a music video for one of the new songs.

The band is calling for aspiring video directors to submit a 10-minute video reel showcasing their directorial skills to their contest page to be reviewed by the band.  The 11 chosen grand prize finalists will win a trip to New York City and a one night stay in an NYC hotel, during which they will presumably meet the band and discuss the song and video. 

The band has made two videos promoting this contest, both of which are fairly amusing:

Of the new album, Grohl has said that it is indeed finished, with a release date set for "some time later this year."  The Foo Fighters made 11 songs for the album, "and front to back there’s not one sleepy ballad" according to Grohl.  The album also will feature a guest appearance by former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.  

Sounds promising to me, I think someone should start an internet campaign to get youtube's Freddiew to enter the fray.  I'm sure the resulting video would be the most action-packed and CGI-fueled music video of all time.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Korpiklaani releases new song and video and -surprise! - booze is involved.

Finnish folk-metal masters Korpiklaani posted the video for their new song "Tequila" on their facebook page today!  Yes!  Having already written songs about beer, vodka, and happy little boozers, it was clearly time for a tequila-themed tune.  I'm waiting for the song about whiskey, but I'm not sure whiskey is big in Finland.  Then again, I didn't think tequila was either.

Here's the video:

The song is sung in Finnish, though in the end lead singer Jonne Järvelä is obviously just yelling out the names of Central and South American countries followed by "Tequila!"  It's a fun tune, and I'm sure many Finns will be glad to have yet another drinking song from Korpiklaani to make it through the long and cold winters up there.  What did you think of it?  I dig the drum solos, they did a good job of copying the Latin American drum style, even though there couldn't be a larger cultural gap than that between Finland and South America. 

I'll bet they'll be playing this one on the cruise ship for 70,000 Tons of Metal in two weeks, should go over well. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Scott Ian's birthday party looks awesome

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian's 48th birthday is today, and from the photos he's uploaded to his Twitter feed, it looks like a party I would love to crash.

No idea where this is, my guess is somewhere in LA, but it looks like he's got good taste in friends.

Comedian and metal afficionado Brian Posehn, Armored Saint bassist Joey Vera, and Metalocalypse creator and Dethklok musician Brendan Small are apparently buddies with Scott Ian

The party hat is a bold move, but it works.

Rob Trujillo of Metallica is also apparently there, representing Team Mexico with Vera.

Slow news day, but now you know a little bit more about Scott Ian.  Didn't expect to see Brendan Small there, so that was kinda cool.  I'll have something better for you tomorrow, promise.