Friday, October 27, 2006

Final Countdown to Europe's New Album

I'm listening to an advance of the new Europe CD, Secret Society, and have to say it might be my favorite album of 2006. This is a truly modern effort -- this ain't your father's Europe -- but it has a really strong emphasis on good hooks. The subject matter is mature and the songwriting memorable and emotional throughout. A full track-by-track review will be posted in the coming days. The disc hits stores Nov. 7 via Sanctuary.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Metal God Readying New Solo Material

While work on the new Judas Priest album continues, Rob Halford is readying new material from his solo band. A new Halford track titled "Forgotten Generation" will hit iTunes on Nov. 21.

According to a press release, writing sessions for a new solo album titled Halford IV currently are underway. In addition to "Forgotten Generation," those sessions have so far yielded another new tune called "Drop Out." Both "Forgotten Generation" and "Drop Out" will be available on the forthcoming compilation Halford - Metal God Essentials - Volume 1. No word yet on a release date for the MGE platter.

In other news, Halford has tapped two new members for his solo group: guitarist Roy Z. and bassist Mike Davis.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Anthrax Guitarist To Open Nightclub

Bringing the Noise to the New York Nightlife Scene

The New York Post is reporting that Scott Ian plans to open a nightclub in New York's Chelsea district on Halloween. The Anthrax guitarist reportedly has christened the club Retox with business partner Mike Diamond, who has launched several other successful nightspots in the Big Apple.

Rap group Cypress Hill is slated to perform during the Oct. 31 opening, while Ian himself will take the stage with Five for Fighting sometime next month. How's that for an odd juxtaposition?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Skid Row's Revolutions Per Minute CD review

Here's a track-by-track review of Skid Row's forthcoming Revolutions Per Minute album. The disc hits stores Oct. 24 via the SPV label.


Opening with some discordant riffing and the first of many screams courtesy of frontman Johnny Solinger, there's no doubt that this record is an aggressive affair. But will it have the melody to make it memorable? Only repeated listens will yield that answer. For now I can say the guitar solo here is sludgy and heavy on the wah-wah in a Jerry Cantrell kind of way. In fact, think Alice in Chains and you'll have an idea of what's going on in this opening cut.

"Another Dick in the System"

This track is likely to be a cool one in concert. It's a no-nonsense hard rocker that ends with a "Hey . . . hey . . . hey" chant that should get audiences pumped to sing along. Guitarists Dave "Snake" Sabo and Scotti Hill trade some unique licks with a Nashville twang/rockabilly feel in the solo.

"Pulling My Heart Out From Under Me"

Here is really the first time we get a taste of the slightly gothic vocal style Solinger is rocking on this album. His deep baritone complements this dark tale of love lost. Just as you tire of his voice creeping along like a convalescent, he rips into some throaty screams. His nuanced vocal performance is the highlight of this cut.

"When God Can't Wait"

An absolute raucous two minute, 13 second blast of melodic punk energy and one of the best tracks on the disc. It sounds like a cross between vintage Misfits and an Irish pub rock act such as the Pogues. This cut will be remembered as a latter-day Skid Row classic.

"Shut Up Baby, I Love You"

The punk rudeness continues on yet another tale of scorned love. I'd have to say this tune bears the most similarity to some of the harder-edged Skid Row material of the Sebastian Bach days. Perhaps it's the riotous gangs vocals, which scream the title during the chorus, or the bass-heavy groove, but "Shut Up Baby, I Love You" should definitely appeal to fans of old-school tunes like "Piece of Me" or "Slave to the Grind."


This cover of the Alarm classic is a bit left field, but one of the more memorable tunes on the album. "Strength" boasts an anthemic and uplifting message of survival and is the longest cut on the disc at just over five minutes. Hill and Sabo get into some great slurred harmonics on the verses. I believe "slurred harmonics" is the correct name for the guitar technique. But if not, think about the trickling guitar sound on the title track of Iron Maiden's Killers once that tune kicks in and you'll know what I'm talking about.

"White Trash"

The lyrics to this tune have the kind of tongue-in-cheek irony that a lot of early Black Flag had. As such, it picks up on the punk rock thread that runs through RPM. Musically, this is short and concise, with Solinger delivering most of his lines in a kind of talking blues format. This song even features a mean harmonica solo to boot! Yet because the lyrics are (intentionally) silly, I'll have to say this is my least favorite cut on the album.

"You Lie"

Here's where Solinger -- a Texas native -- really lets his Lone Star roots hang out. "You Lie" is outlaw country music through and through. Solinger hurls curses and other invectives at an unfaithful woman, while the band twangs away with a four-on-the-floor pattern. Just when you think there's nary a distortion pedal to be heard, the song takes a metalized turn -- right after a very vintage rockabilly-style guitar solo. From country to metal in under three minutes, that's quite a journey!

An alternate country-fried mix of "You Lie" -- replete with added harmonica and pedal steel guitar -- is offered as a bonus track on the version of RPM that I have.


The search for a bona fide '80s anthem stops here! "Nothing" has all the harmony and hooks of a Bach-era outtake -- and that's a good thing. And that guitar solo: short but absolutely blazing with all the melody that characterized the band's most memorable leads. Put this one on repeat.

"Love Is Dead"

Just in time for Halloween, the Skids get into a little Type O Negative/Bronx Casket Company groove. The riffing takes lurching stop and starts, while Solinger's voice delves into the deeper registers again for this spooky tune. Right around the two-minute mark, the group works in a breakdown that sounds quite similar to the one in the title track from Ozzy Osbourne's No More Tears. "Love Is Dead" would fit well on the soundtrack of a B-movie horror flick.

"Let It Ride"

Solinger & Co. end the album on a hard and heavy note. "Let It Ride" seems to be an ode to life in a rock & roll band. It boasts another ripping guitar solo, but otherwise this track is mediocre. Thankfully, it's in and out in under three minutes.

"You Lie" (Bonus Track)

See comments above in the "You Lie" entry.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Early Thoughts on New Skid Row Album

I have been quite busy this week, but I wanted to post some preliminary thoughts about the new Skid Row album, Revolutions Per Minute, due Tuesday via SPV Records. I have an advanced review copy and have listened to it once, so my commentary is likely to change when I post a full track-by-track album review shortly.

First off, this is a much different band than the one that recorded Skid Row or even Slave to the Grind. It's not simply that Sebastian Bach is gone and has been replaced by Johnny Solinger. The band no longer seems to want to focus on incorporating melodic riffs into their songwriting. Instead much of the album is garden variety '90s nü-metal aggression. More often than not Solinger is screaming instead of trying to get an '80s-like sheen to his voice. It's a matter of taste really, but my initial impression is that it doesn't work for me.

One of the great things about 2003's Thickskin was the sheer number of melodic, sing along moments. There's not one to be found on RPM, unless you count "You Lie," which is a very country-music inspired ditty. A few of the better moments on RPM include "When God Can't Wait," which sounds like a rowdy, Irish punk bar anthem and "Love Is Dead" (if I remember correctly) which sounds a little gothic, almost in the vein of Type O Negative. Full report to come . . .

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hair Apparent: Two-Bit Thief

(Editor's note: This is the fourth installment in a series about old albums that don't quite qualify in the Lost Classics category, yet still warrant a closer look.)

Two-Bit Thief, Another Sad Story . . . In the Big City (Combat, 1990)

The Big Idea: Former crossover act tries to re-invent itself as edgy hard-rock band

Choice Cuts: "Desperado," "Folsom Prison Blues," "Broken Hearts" and "Hard Times"

Sonic Brethren: Circus of Power, Junkyard, Manitoba's Wild Kingdom

San Francisco is best remembered for its thrash-metal scene, but the city also yielded some great bands in other genres. Two-Bit Thief was among the non-thrash acts that called the Bay area home. The group's debut disc, Another Sad Story . . . In the Big City, showed a lot of promise, but never amounted to much for the band.

Much like Junkyard or Manitoba's Wild Kingdom, TBT featured musicians who came up in the punk rock scene and wanted to explore a more commercial hard rock sound. Indeed, vocalist Andy 'Airborne' Andersen, guitarist Chris Scaparro, bassist Rick Strahl and drummer Eric Brecht all recorded with the crossover act Attitude Adjustment. The only "new" member in TBT was guitarist Ron Shipes.

Despite the group's roots, the only remnant of hardcore music is the shouted gang vocals that adorn several of Another Sad Story's 12 tracks. Otherwise, this is (mostly) straight-up gritty hard rock from the gutter, with an occasional thrash riff worked in for good measure. Bouts of slide guitar give the record a rootsy feel in a few places, while Brecht conjures up the specter of Guns N' Roses' Steven Adler through the liberal use of his cowbell.

The self-righteous social consciousness of thrash seeps into the lyrics of "Industry" and "Crime," but otherwise Another Sad Story is an unrepentant 42-minute joyride that revels in the vices of urban decay. Standout tracks include "Desperado" and "Folsom Prison Blues." The former is a tale of gambling that provided the likely inspiration for the album's cover shoot. Meanwhile, the latter is an ingenious re-working of the Johnny Cash classic that draws equally from punk rock, metal and rockabilly all in the space of two minutes and 40 seconds. It's nice to see a band cover someone other than the usual suspects. Not quite as inspired is the album's closer, a cover of Rose Tattoo's "Remedy."

Another Sad Story ultimately didn't have the commercial muscle the band had hoped. Regardless, this is a strong effort and a pleasant departure from the standard Bay area sound.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Happy Birthday to David Lee Roth

Editor's note: In honor of the ex-Van Halen singer's 53rd birthday today, Metal-Mixtape revisits his least appreciated album.

David Lee Roth didn't stand a chance when he released Your Filthy Little Mouth in 1994. The real problem wasn't that the shredding licks of ailing ace guitarist Jason Becker were gone. It wasn't that the epicenter of the music industry had shifted from Los Angeles to Seattle, nor that he tapped longtime friend/Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers to help him go pop. It wasn't even that Roth's trademark mane had been toned down in favor of a sedate shoulder-length coif for the album.

The true dilemma was a severe crisis in the songwriting department. Your Filthy Little Mouth suffers from the lack of focus that arises when artists try to borrow from too many musical styles. Tunes like "Cheatin' Heart Cafe" (featuring country star Travis Tritt) and "Hey, You Never Know" are nods to Nashville-fried honky tonk, while "No Big 'Ting" features Jamaican rapper Mitchielous in a lame attempt to tap into the world music market. Then there's "You're Breathin' It," a funk-heavy tall tale about urban living that mixes its metaphors by featuring some very rural harmonica playing. To make matters worse, the song gets the "Urban NYC Mix" treatment at the end of the album. When was the last time you bought a David Lee Roth record to hear a remix?

While dross dominates, there are some redeeming moments. "Big Train" is perhaps one of Tyrannosaurus Roth's finest latter day compositions and hits with the visceral impact of an early Van Halen boogie. Meanwhile, Diamond Dave's cover of "Night Life" by Willie Nelson has all the slow and gritty grace of a Motown soul ballad. But in the end, Your Filthy Little Mouth became Roth's swan song. It was the last platter he recorded for a major label. Worse still, it marked the end of a 16-year partnership with the Warner Bros. Records family that dated back to the first VH album. What started as a valiant attempt to expand his audience resulted in Roth dropping the ball altogether.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Twisted Sister: Yule Hear It First

Frontman Dee Snider & Co. Ready Christmas Album

Twisted Sister plan to celebrate the holidays with the October 17 release of A Twisted Christmas through Razor & Tie Records. The seasonal platter will feature 10 tracks that marry Christmas songs with stylistic nods to specific heavy metal bands. "I think I made the comment that we should do a Christmas record," guitarist Jay Jay French tells Billboard. "And [frontman] Dee [Snider] said, 'You know, "Come All Ye Faithful" is actually "We're Not Gonna Take It." I think I subliminally stole the melody.' So we recorded 'We're Not Gonna Take It' and put 'Come All Ye Faithful' in, and it worked with some changes."

The six-stringer also notes that the Twisted version of "Come All Ye Faithful" will feature "a Black Sabbath version of 'Hava Nagilah' at the end of the song." In addition, Lita Ford will join the band on a version of "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

Log on to Twisted Sister's official website to hear clips from the upcoming album and check out the full track list.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Kiss of Death Latin Lingo Revealed!

No, It Doesn't Say 'Dr. Rock Is Going To Shoot You Full of Rock N Roll!'

I recently posted the Latin inscription that graces Motörhead's Kiss of Death CD booklet on a Latin forum. One kind soul responded to my query about its meaning. Below is the translation I received.
"Born as conquered, all will die
Believe in no-one (This should be nemini), go freely
to walk through the ocean of very many souls, he barely wets his feet (I think there is a mistake in the Latin here)
Whatever you are doing, we have done first and better"

Once again, here's the original Latin inscription from the CD booklet:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Skid Row Line Up Gratis Gig

Event To Celebrate Release of Upcoming Album

Skid Row have announced an October 29 record-release party at New York's Hard Rock Cafe. Frontman Johnny Solinger & Co. will take the stage to perform selections from their upcoming album, Revolutions Per Minute, along with greatest hits from the band's glory days. The event will also double as radio DJ Eddie Trunk's annual Halloween bash. Admission is free.

Revolutions Per Minute is due out October 24 on SPV/Steamhammer. Meanwhile, a full-fledged tour in support of the disc will kick off October 31 at a venue still to be announced.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Slash Shills Cars and Guitars

Live and Let Ride

Former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash (pictured right) is among the rockers set to appear in upcoming ads for a new partnership between guitar maker First Act and auto manufacturer Volkswagen. Drives who buy or lease one of six Volkswagen cars will receive a First Act GarageMaster electric guitar customized to match the color of their new ride. The axe also will be co-branded with the VW logo. Spinal Tap character Nigel Tufnel (aka actor Christopher Guest) is among the other personalities also slated to appear in the forthcoming sales campaign.

Meanwhile, Slash and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen will join Los Angeles all-star jam band Camp Freddy when the group performs Thursday on NBC's Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Slash & Co. will play a version of Cheap Trick's "Surrender."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Should Great White Make a Comeback?

Great White recently announced they're preparing to cut a new album and return to the road. Guitarist Mark Kendall tells the Associated Press he believes there's a lot of popular support for the band to resume normal activities after the 2003 fire in a Rhode Island nightclub that killed 100 people. "These people [in the club] were like friends to us, not just rock fans," he reveals. "There's a fellowship with the surviving victims. ... We all get together, we hug, we cry. For the majority of the people, they all want to hear the band play."

Do you think Great White should return to doing what they do best after the tragedy?
1) Yes, Great White made some amazing hard rock music and it's time to put the Rhode Island tragedy behind them.
2) No, the band should show their remorse by hanging up their instruments -- permanently.
3) Write in here with your own response.