Posts Tagged ‘Album Of The Week’

screen-shot-2017-10-19-at-9-53-06-am.pngWhen it comes to Italian horror films, there is no name more synonymous with it then Dario Argento who made films like Opera, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Deep Red, Zombi, Demons, and the film that is receiving the remake treatment in Suspiria. The same could also be said for Italian soundtrack kings, the progressive rock wizards known as Goblin who in 1977 were made up of Agostino Marangolo (Drums, Vocals), Massimo Morante (Electric Guitars, Acoustic, bouzouki),  Fabio Pignatelli (Fretless Bass, Fretted Bass, Acoustic Guitar, tabla, vocals), and Claudio Simonetti (Mellotron, Elka organ, Logan violin, Celesta, Fender Rhodes electric piano, grand piano, Moog synthesizers). To keep up with the theme of Halloween on the blog, we chose the band’s soundtrack to Suspiria that they released on June 15, 1977. Suspiria was a very successful film in it’s time and the soundtrack to the film flourished as well, but right now I do not have any numbers as far as how successful the soundtrack really was.

91mpGZPPPKL._SL1500_.jpg1. Suspiria-The title track opens up with some amazing sounds of the Mellotron, but then it switches in tone and the pace picks up as the rock side of the song comes alive with the brilliance of Simonetti and his keyboard playing. 5/5

2. Witch– The track starts off with a more tribal feel because of the drums, but it has that ominous feel to it especially with the weird chanting. You can definitely tell during the track all the suspenseful moments with the changes in tones. 5/5

3. Opening To The Sighs– an intro track which is 34 seconds in length 4/5

4. Sighs-I love how the track starts with people sighing with some screeches thrown in there as well before we get this instrumental  and I believe this is where we get instruments like the bouzouki in it and some of the various organ sounds. It has a very hypnotic element to it as well like we are presented with a witch. 5/5

5. Markos– It opens with some keys and a very unique bass sound that sounds like it’s being manipulated through a synthesizer. 4.5/5

Suspiria_116. Black Forest-a more straightforward prog rock track that sounds like something that Pink Floyd would conjure up and it features Antonio Marangolo playing the sax on the track. 5/5

7. Blind Concert-The track begin with some ringing of bells before it goes into a little bit of a funk kind of rhythm complete with some unique sounds from Simonetti. 4.5/5

8. Death Valzer– The last track off the album is one of those old time classical piano tracks that is Simonetti flexing his musical muscles. 4/5

My Final Thoughts– As far as Horror soundtracks are concerned this is one of the best of the best and you could understand why Dario hung on to them. My favorite from Claudio Simonetti is still the work he did on the soundtrack to Opera, but this ranks right up there for me as far as Goblin is concerned. My favorite tracks are Suspiria, Black Forest, and Sighs. I don’t really have a least favorite track, but if I was to pick one it would be Death Valzer. I am giving the album 4.6 stars out of five for a final grade.

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HELLOWEEN-Keeper-of-the-Seven-Keys-Part-1-LPWhen you think of European Power Metal, there is instantly one band that should come to mind and that band is Germany’s own Helloween. We chose Helloween for this week’s Halloween inspired Album of the Week because Halloween is in their name and it was voted number 43 on Loudwire’s 50 Greatest Metal Albums. The band that in 1987 was made up of new vocalist Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen (Guitar), Michael Weikath (Guitar), Markus Grosskopf (Bass), and Ingo Schwichtenberg (Drums) released their second and most pivotal album that some experts say spawned the Power Metal genre in Keeper Of The Seven Keys: Part 1. It was the first album for the band that cracked the Billboard Top 200 charts as it peaked at 104 and it was also the first album to not feature Kai Hansen on vocals. The reason for this was for the fact that he was having trouble singing and playing guitar at the same time so they brought in Kiske. While the album did feature Michael Weikath on guitar, it wasn’t much due to an injury he suffered during recording sessions for the album so the album is dominated by Hansen. Originally, the album was part of what the band had planned as a double album, but the label refused and made them separate it as the next part would come in 1988.

HELLOWEEN_KEEPER+OF+THE+SEVEN+KEYS+PART+1-566793b1. Initiation– An instrumental intro that kicks off the album that was written by Kai Hansen. 4/5

2. I’m Alive– A great track that I feel is an amazing anti-suicide song or at least that is the message that I get from the track that shreds through out. You gotta love the gang vocals for the chorus. 4.5/5

3. A Little Time– a great track that features some killer riffs and even some clock sound effects in the is song that is all about chasing your dreams and to aim higher. 4.5/5

4. Twilight Of The Gods– If you want to listen to some insane playing like one of the best solos on the album then check out this track that I think is about how we create Gods just to have war. 4.5/5

61i0nWQMGvL5. A Tale That Wasn’t Right– The track is a ballad type track, but in the sense that is a slower tempo track than the previous on the album. The track could be interpreted as the tale of a relationship that comes to an end or the tale of a backstabbing friend. 4.5/5

6. Future World– The lead single off the album that I feel is about a guy who is visiting this world telling a person about the future world and how great it is, but in reality how great is the world. Another great solo on this track from Hansen and company. 5/5

7. Halloween– This is the 13 minute epic track that was dedicated to the greatest holiday on the planet which is also the song title. It can be pretty cheesy at times, but it’s Halloween!!! 5/5

8. Follow the Sign-The track is more of an outro that you can tell is the bridge between parts one and two. 4/5

My Final Thoughts– While I am more of a fan of part two than one, there is no denying that this was the stepping stone of the band that would launch them into metal stardom. My favorite tracks on the album are Future World and Halloween while my least favorite track would be Follow The Sign. I am going to give the album 4.5 stars out of five for a final grade.

MI0002497429One of my earliest memories of Norweigan Black Metal was through a picture of Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo who was wearing a Transylvania Hunger shirt from Darkthrone on a poster that I received from Metal Edge Magazine when that was still a thing. So of course, I became curious about Darkthrone and they instantly became one of my favorite Black Metal bands. The band which was made up of Nocturno Culto (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Zephyrous (Rhythm Guitar), Fenriz (Drums), and Dag Nilsen who played bass for the last time on the band’s 1992 album A Blaze In The Northern Sky which was self produced. The album is considered the first chapter in the band’s Unholy Trinity which also included Under a Funeral Moon and Transilvanian Hunger which are the band’s most popular albums. The album had some controversy surrounding it because it was the first black metal record after originally being a death metal band. The decision caused bassist Nilsen to agree to record his bass parts as a session musician because he was done with the band. The band’s label Peaceville Records also disliked the change and would only release the album of the band agreed to allow them to remix it. The band threatened to have the album released with a different label and then Peaceville succumbed to their threats. The album was voted the 46TH greatest metal album of all time out of 50 by Loudwire.com which is why I am reviewing it.

MI00014803031. Kathaarian Life Code– A 10 minute track to open the record which starts with a very evil and ominous intro with someone saying something before the band kicks in with some face melting riffs. I’m not 100% positive on the lyrics, but it seems to be about the creation of what was good and evil. 4.5/5

2. In the Shadow of the Horns– A bad ass metal track with poor production sound in a seven minute track is what we have here in this track that touches upon Ancient Egypt and other evil topics. 5/5

3. Paragon Belial-an interesting track lyrically which explores a man that comes face to face with a being that tells him that what the Christians had been telling him is wrong and to create his own “devil”. 4.5/5

a-blaze-in-the-northern-sky-500cf616bfd494. Where Cold Winds Blow– another track that just sonically rips your face off as they sing about the one and only evil one. The track features some pretty sick guitar solos. 4.5/5

5. A Blaze In The Northern Sky– The title track hits you right from the start as it doesn’t let up in this interesting story of how they lived a thousand years as pagans before Christianity came storming in looking to erase their history. 5/5

6. The Pagan Winter– I feel like this track just is a continuation of the same story as the last track, but in a sense of how terrible the time was when it happened. 4/5

My Final Thoughts– There is a line in the last track and I swear that is how Phil Anselmo named his side project Superjoint Ritual. Anyways, this was a ballsy album for the band and it paid off for them in the long run as it’s a highly recommended black metal album and number 46 on Loudwire’s list. My favorite tracks on the album was definitely the title track and In The Shadow Of The Horns while my least favorite track was The Pagan Winter. I am going to give the album 4.58 stars out of five for a final grade.

Slayer-God-Hates-Us-All-singIt is crazy to think that 17 years ago was the day that terrorists would attack the twin towers in New York on that awful day. It is a day that Americans will never forget because it had an impact on us that I would have to think that Pearl Harbor had on America back when that happened. 17 years ago today, Slayer would release an album that would put them back on the map (not that they ever left) in God Hates Us All. It was an album that had a different approach to it as Kerry King took over writing duties lyrically and it was the first album to not be produced by Rick Rubin since 1985’s Hell Awaits. The album was produced by Matt Hyde while it featured Tom Araya (Lead Vocals/Bass), Jeff Hanneman (Guitar), Kerry King (Guitar), and Paul Bostaph (Drums) on what would be his last Slayer record until 2015’s Repentless. The albums release was delayed due to controversy over the album cover that you see above so it was finally released on September 11, 2001. Then to make matters worse, the band took a lot of heat for the album because of what had happened on the day it came out. This was the second time, the band was blamed for something like this as they filmed the music video for Seasons In The Abyss in Egypt just before the Gulf War started. Nonetheless, the album debuted and peaked at number 28 on the Billboard Top 200 charts selling 51,000 copies in it’s first week.

51SYlv5R4hL1. Darkness Of Christ– It’s just an intro track, but it feels like unholy hell is about to be unleashed on you and you are going to wish it never happened. 5/5

2. Disciple– This is the unholy hell that is unleashed on you in the form of this bulldozer of a track that smashed your brains to pieces while reminding you that God doesn’t actually love you. Just look at everything that happens in the world. 5/5

3. God Send Death– A track that Jeff Hanneman wrote that is about people who kill for pleasure after Hanneman had read several books about serial killers. 5/5

4. New Faith– An interesting track that is about someone who has followed a religion blindly for so long that he finally wakes up and sees what has been wrong with faith the whole time. He see’s the indulgences that are tempting him to sin, etc. 4.5/5

5. Cast Down– a track that is all about a fallen angel who gets in to a really serious drug habit that is ruining his life in typical extreme Slayer style music. 4/5

6. Threshold– an in your face track that matches the attitude of the lyrics which is about a guy who is at his wit’s end with an individual who is just pissing him off. 4.5/5

7. Exile– a fierce track that is all about hating that person that is so opposite of you that you want to exile them from your life so bad. Everyone has one of these in their lives. 4.5/5

SLAYER-God-Hates-Us-All-4-18. Seven Faces– A very eerie and melodic intro before pure madness ensues with one hell of a scream from Araya helps drive this track about someone who is falling for every temptation like the seven deadly sins. 4.5/5

9. Bloodline– My favorite track on the whole album that originally appeared on the Dracula 2000 soundtrack and was the band’s test to see if they wanted Matt Hyde to produce the record. The song is about vampires or just people who feed on your life all the time. 5/5

10. Deviance– This is the other track on the album that Jeff Hanneman wrote about people who kill for pleasure in his obsession with why do they do it. The track even opens with a police officer calling in something and a woman screaming to amplify the theme. 4.5/5

11. War Zone– This song is just pure intensity right from the start as it feels like a machine gun blasting pure metal anarchy right at you in this track that is you telling someone that there is no way in hell that you are afraid of them and you’ll bring the fight to them whenever and wherever. 5/5

12. Here Comes the Pain-a track that was written for a WCW video game I believe that is your typical macho bravado I am going to kick your ass song. 4/5

13. Payback– The last track on the record does not let up as it brings the intensity with no problems at all. The lyrics are pretty self explanatory as it’s all about revenge. 4/5

My Final Thoughts– Kerry King said he wanted to stop doing lyrics about Satan and what ever else D&D related and more street credible lyrics and it certainly paid off to a point. There is no denying his abilities as a writer and it certainly ranks up there with the best of them. My favorite tracks on the album are Bloodline, Disciple, War Zone, and God Send Death. To clarify, I like all of the songs, but if I had one that I least liked it would be the last two tracks just cause they’re kind of generic to me. I am giving the album 4.6 stars out of five for a final grade.

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Alternate Album Cover

joe walshThe inspiration for today’s Album Of The Week is thanks to comedian and Podcaster Marc Maron who hosts the show WTF with Marc Maron. One of the guests that Marc had on the show was legendary guitar player Joe Walsh who is best known for being in the James Gang, solo, and The Eagles. Marc talked about his love for the first time he had heard Rocky Mountain Way and so I figured that I would cover the very album it’s on which is titled The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get which is a play on the expression “The higher you get the better you play!” When Joe left the James Gang, he started a group called the Barnstorm when he moved to Colorado. The band made up of Walsh (Vocals/Guitar), Kenny Passarelli (Bass Guitar), Joe Vitale (Drums), and Rocke Grace (Keyboards) played on Joe’s first two albums and left after the success of this record. The album was a huge success for Joe as it reached number six on the Billboard Pop Charts and it eventually went Gold in the US and silver in the UK all on the back of the single Rocky Mountain Way which was a top 40 hit.

JOE_WALSH_THE+SMOKER+YOU+DRINK,+THE+PLAYER+YOU+GET-130499b1. Rocky Mountain Way– One of the coolest rock songs ever recorded that featured Joe playing the Talk Box. Ultimately the song is about his experience in Colorado, but Joe has said this before, “I’m living in Colorado and I’m mowing the lawn. I look up and there’s the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and there’s snow on them in the summer. And it knocked me back because it was just beautiful. And I thought, ‘Well I have committed. I’m already in Colorado and it’s too late to regret the James Gang. The Rocky Mountain way is better than the way I had, because the music was better.’ I got the words. Bam!” 5/5

2. Book Ends– This is one of the tracks on the album that Joe Vitale sings on as he is talking about the good ole days. I love the overall vibe of the track as it has a little bit of a Beatles feel to it like a Hey Jude. 4.5/5

3. Wolf– I love the melodic beginning of this track because it sets the tone for the rest of the track in this very dark tale of life and the tribulations that we go through to live while the rich (wolf) get richer. 5/5

4. Midnight Moodies– A very cool instrumental track that features a mixture of instruments as the band flexes their muscle like a flute in the track. He may have gotten the influence from Jethro Tull on that part. 4.5/5

5. Happy Ways– This is the only track on the album that Kenny Passarelli sings lead vocals on. I love the bass intro in the beginning to go along with the War style music with the Caribbean influence. 4.5/5

joe_walsh_the_smoker_you_drink_24ktgdrem09_back.jpg6. Meadows– A little scat singing and screaming from Joe kicks off this cool rock track that has a similar feel to Deep Purple’s Women From Tokyo. 4.5/5

7. Dreams– The beginning of the song starts with some piano playing an effect that sounds like a clock is ticking in a track that talks about being a dreamer, taking care of a woman, and giving knowledge to people. 4/5

8. Days Gone By– This is the other track that Joe Vitale sings on that talks about how you need to live your life before you start wondering where it has all gone. 4.5/5

9. Day Dream (Prayer)– The last track on the album that starts with some piano and lyrically it only has four lines. The track has a very Pink Floyd vibe with the organs and the harmonies that are being sung. 4/5

My Final Thoughts– You could definitely tell that Joe was heavily influenced by what was around him at the time. He says in the interview with Marc Maron that he was influenced by everyone that he had met and learned some tricks from this guy, etc. My favorite tracks on the album are Rocky Mountain Way and Wolf. I didn’t dislike any of the tracks, but if I had to pick a least favorite it would be Dreams. I am giving the album 4.5 stars out of five for a final grade.

 

5f17d88bc7bf44d6ab2f357020a541ebThe late 90’s/early 200’s Nu Metal scene did produce a lot of bands that we shall not talk about, but it did also produce some bands that are worthy of a conversation. One of those bands that is worth talking about is Chicago based Alt-Metal (fancier word for Nu-Metal) band Soil who was made up of Ryan McCombs (Lead Singer), Shaun Glass (Guitar), Adam Zadel (Guitar), Tim King (Bass), and Tom Schofield (Drums). The first time I saw the band or heard them was on Ozzy’s 2001 Winter arena tour that he did with Rob Zombie and Mudvayne. I was completely blown away by the band and I had to buy their second studio album Scars which was officially released September 11, 2001 (of all days to be released) via J Records. Despite the misfortunes of the release date, the album was actually pretty successful and that was due to the promoting of two key singles for the band that performed well on the charts in Halo and Unreal. Their success could also be attributed to Clive Davis who signed the band to his label J Records saying, “you’re gonna be my only rock band for now. You’re going to be a priority, and I want to break this band.” The album peaked at number 193 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts as well as number ten on the heatseekers charts.

51Fz4Q73-FL1. Breaking Me Down– The song starts off with an explosion of pure hard rock metal grooves before Ryan McCombs showcases his vocal abilities in a fast pace. I think the track is about how a guy keeps trying to change for his girl, but its not enough. 4.5/5

2. Halo– The first single off the record that has this killer hook that is just infectious from the start in this track that is all about the inner war of a man and all the things he has to deal with while trying to remain a man. 5/5

3. Need To Feel– This is a pretty awesome rock song if you ask me where Glass and Zadel showcase their talents. The track is about a person wanting more from their relationship because they need to feel more from it. 5/5

4. Wide Open– an in your face , freight train of a track that packs one hell of a punch while adding a melodic twist to it at times. I think the track is about someone who knows their partner is vulnerable and takes advantage of it. 5/5

5. Understanding Me– a groove crushing track that is all about someone who is finally telling their bully or their hater that you may think you will never understand what they truly are. 4.5/5

6. My Own– A melodic intro opens up the track before the band crushes it with the groove as it sounds like Ryan is singing into a megaphone during the verses. I love the guitar sound on this track, it reminds me of the beginning of Wherever I May Roam. 4.5/5

7. Unreal– Ryan described the track saying, “the amount of control, or better, the lack of control one seems to have over his/her own life at times… and the feeling that maybe there is a higher power out there and if there is, he clearly doesn’t give a fuck about me now or the times you seem to need a little help the most.” 5/5

scars-4fb428d53228e8. Inside– A groove heavy track where he sings part of the track in a very low talking tone before flexing his pipes in a track that I believe talks about him reaching out saying that he is all you need. 4/5

9. Two Skins– An interesting track that talks about how man can have two skins which is basically the classic tale of the demon and angle on the shoulders. 4/5

10. The One– an up-tempo rock track that is all about mending an old friendship that could have ended for any number of reasons. 4/5

11. New Faith– a melodic track that talks about how people may be losing faith in religion and they are looking for something new. 4/5

12. Why– a bass driven track that just rips through your speaker in a track that is just about someone who is questioning why things have happened the way they have in his life. 4/5

13. Black 7– a very ominous track that ends the album and I am not quite sure what black 7 means, but it could refer to the seven deadly sins. I just feel it has something to do with that kind of world for some reason. 4/5

My Final Thoughts– Musically this is one amazing album, but lyrically the album could get lazy at times and it certainly drops off for me towards the end. My favorite tracks are Unreal, Halo, Wide Open, and Need To Feel. My least favorite tracks are Two Skins and The One. I am giving the album 4.42 stars out of five for a final grade.

1200x630bbI can’t believe that it has been 16 years since the passing of Dave “The Stage” Williams who was honestly one of the most promising lead vocalists in Metal at the time. He was the lead singer of Texas metal outfit Drowning Pool who got their name from the 1975 Paul Newman film. The band was made up of Williams (Vocals), Mike Luce (Drums), C.J. Pierce (Guitar) and Stevie Benton (Bass). In 2001, the band would release their debut album Sinner which also happens to be the band’s best selling record to date as it went Platinum in the first year of sales. The album was produced by the famed Jay Baumgardner (Sevendust/Ugly Kid Joe) and was a breath of fresh air for the metal genre at the time as it peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts. In an interview with MTV Dave explained how the album received it’s  name,”I got that [Sinner tattoo] tattooed before we named the record. We were working on the song “Sinner,” and our A&R guy said, “That would be a good name for the record.” We all just looked at each other and said, “Wow, OK.” It was just a natural progression that became the whole theme of the record. There are a lot of religious issues on the record and a lot of relationship issues. It just seemed like it would fit.”

71aABzpbawL._SL1217_1. Sinner– The opening title track helps kick off the album the right way with tons of energy in this track that is all about no matter how good you try to make us, we all sin. 5/5

2. Bodies– The first single off the album that literally put the band on the map in this head banging track that is all about Moshpits and not bodies falling from windows. It was on the banned list after 9/11. 5/5

3. Tear Away– One of my favorite tracks on the album that resonated with me in this song that Dave said was, “Everybody at one time or another in their life needs to say, ‘Forget everybody else, I need to deal with me. I need to take care of myself‘”  5/5

4. All Over Me– a great track that features that signature guitar sound from Pierce that we would grow to love and recognize in this track that is about troubles in a relationship and how one is changing as compared to their partner. 5/5

5. Reminded– an in your face track that is another track about relationships, but this time it’s about a guy who never realized how bad their relationship was until they split and everything reminds him of her. 5/5

6. Pity– I love the beginning of the track and how it starts like something is happening to the tape like it’s melting before it kicks into overdrive on this head banger. I feel like it’s a track about someone who realizes that the people who supposedly “love” him really just pity him and that is not what he wants. 5/5

sinner-4e805c71af26d7. Mute– I love the melodic intro of the track as it also helps drive the verses in this track that is all about being stuck in the mud to the point that it’s better to be mute than to address it. 5/5

8. I Am– Another monster track that tackles relationships once again, but it’s one of those stories where it’s over and one side is definitely happier than the other, but truth be told no one can change who we are but us. 5/5

9. Follow– a track that teaches you that you’re better off coming up with your own conclusions in life because the truth is always right there in front of you as long as you look for it. 5/5

10. Told You So– Another track about realizing how much better your life is since you got away from the ex and that can be a reliving feeling. 5/5

11. Sermon– This is the last track on the album and it’s an interesting take on the question of whether or not God is real or not and the music has this real sermon like feel to it as it’s bass driven. Mike Luce commented on the backwards messaging on the track saying, “We’re fans of the 80s and back in the day there used to be that whole undertone …. oh, if you play that song backwards, you’ll hear this message! So I guess I could tell you what it says. It really doesn’t say anything. It recites a lyric from the same song, from “Sermon.” We just play it backwards at the end of the song. It’s just a homage. A tribute back to the old school.”, “It was completely done on a whim and we took a line that Davie (Williams) sang and just ran it in reverse at the tail end of the song. Just kind of a … here you go. No hidden meaning; you don’t have to play the song backwards to hear it. We’ll just play it right out here for you.” 5/5

My Final Thoughts– Unfortunately during Ozzfest 2002, Dave Williams was found dead in his tour bus as he died from cardiomyopathy. This would be the only album he would ever record with Drowning Pool with the exception of a couple of soundtrack tracks and a track that Rob Zombie sang that he had written for the Daredevil soundtrack. The album is amazing and I love every single track on this album which is why I gave it five out of five for a final grade.

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