SHOW NO MERCY
If BACK TO THE FUTURE was a real concept that could actually happen, it's my belief that Mad Margritt would be a name that every single one of you that owns Skid Row, Slaughter and Dokken records would hold in the highest esteem. You would see them still touring around playing package shows together with other bands that had their run "back in the day", and you would hear interviews with Eddie Smith about his upcoming book that details all the debauchery of being a superstar back in the heyday. Unfortunately though, BACK TO THE FUTURE is fake, which leaves Smith and company recording music they love and that, while solid, is hard to get people to listen to because their door on new music slammed shut the day Kurt Cobain reached #1 on Billboard. It's too bad that so many in that 40-50 age range are like that too, because they are missing out on a ton of music that falls right in their wheelhouse. SHOW NO MERCY is one of those they are missing.
So many 80s hair metal bands have come back unnecessarily. I mean, let's face it...some of them just didn't make enough of an impact back in the day to warrant a reunion now. I think for most of them, there's a record company offering a check to these guys that are now plumbers and carpenters, and they see it as a quick opportunity to finish a bunch of tunes that were left laying around when their short run back in 1989 crapped out. For most of them, the reunion records have been far less than good, for the simple fact that the magic of the moment has long since gone away. For a few of those bands though, there was still significant fire left in the tank. I'd say that King Kobra is one of those bands. While never bigger than a 2nd tier hair metal band back in the day, they created solid music then. With their reunion album, and now with II, they are not only rock solid creatively, but might just be better than they were back in their day.
I've really given this album a lot of time and listens to sink in before writing anything about it. I did so because I wanted to be fair about it, and not judge it with the anger I, as a fan, have at the band for passing this off as a "reunion" without Bill Ward playing drums. I've read all the arguments online for this. I've had a hundred friends all tell me that they played this album UNTIL they liked it, and had it "grow on them." I've tried that myself, to be honest. A lot of people are all claiming that "as long as it has Iommi's riffs, then they will like it." That is obviously a lie, unless you are like me and love albums like HEADLESS CROSS, FORBIDDEN and TYR. In the end, 13 is a release that needs to be judged like all releases do - on it's own merits and what you hear when listening to it. To me, it's a fairly average offering.
Is this sad saga of one band splitting into two not just the saddest thing in recent memory when it comes to classic metal? Let's face it, if you followed Queensryche at all in the 80s or even through a lot of the bad times of the last two years, they were almost always a dignified bunch that seemed above the fray of the rest of the riff raff. Now, we have two bands. We have the Geoff Tate version of the band - an act powered largely by some sort of insanity that has overtaken the once dignified Tate and turned him into a babbling maniac who's more than willing to tell you about his black man's stereotypical penis than about his music. He's REALLY challenged people to even care about anything called Queensryche in recent months, and it's just sad to see happen. Then you have "the other guys". They've stayed largely silent about the split after the first few weeks, and aside from a lot of positive posts on their various social media sites, really haven't had much to say regarding the split and the new version of the band featuring vocalist Todd LaTorre. I guess they've decided to let the music do the talking.
RUBBER CITY MELTDOWN
There's something that's just plain cool about a throwback band like the LA Knights. I'm not sure what it is. I'm sure for a lot of people, they will just scoff at them as dated dudes stuck in the 80s that haven't "grown with the times". That's always a convenient cop out excuse to me, especially when you look at how the rock world has grown. If you ask most people to name 5 great bands from the 80s, within seconds you'll get five names thrown back at you (top of my head, Motley Crue, Skid Row, Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Dokken). It will literally take them a second. As the same question for five great bands from 2000-2010. The names don't come back quite so quickly, now do they? The reason is simple. The music was just better, or at a minimum more memorable universally. I'm the first guy that will admit that a LOT of the bands from the 80s were pretty embarrassing, but more times than not, they just weren't. At least musically, they were almost all solid. To do a throwback band now, you not only have to be excellent musically, but you also have to be thick skinned enough to not take the criticism to heart. Meet Akron, Ohio's LA Knights!