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.
There's just something about Philip Anselmo that most metal fans don't get. In fact, I would go as far as to argue that even most of those hardcore Pantera fans don't fully understand the motives and direction that Anselmo takes half the time. More than just about any other musician in metal history, Anselmo is the single guy that has taken a lot of varied metal styles to the masses. Through his notoriety as a legend with Pantera, Anselmo has been able to introduce much more extreme types of metal to the majority of metalheads that would probably have never listened otherwise. Speaking only for myself, my first exposure to such varied music as Anal Cunt, Necrophagia, Christ Inversion, Arson Anthem and Superjoint Ritual all came SOLELY because of Anselmo's involvement with those projects. It has NOTHING to do with any music at all that I heard prior to picking up those releases. To be honest, I haven't liked all of it, but I don't think that's really what it's about for Anselmo anyway. To his credit, he lives and dies metal...all kinds of metal...and he is out to create as much of it as humanly possible.
About every two to three years, a band comes along that I have never heard of that absolutely overwhelms me. A few years ago, it was Volbeat that came out of nowhere and really struck a chord with me. Most recently, that Halestorm record just stays in my player and gets play several times a week. Following an impressive performance at ROCK ON THE RANGE as well as a very fun hang with them after their performance, a new band has jumped on my radar. That band is Scorpion Child. With interest, their self-titled release found it's way to me a week after ROCK ON THE RANGE, and it's been stuck in my player (and my head) ever since. As of today, July 9th, 2013, SCORPION CHILD is the metal album of the year in my eyes. A new band for me to follow religiously has been launched to the world.
More than most releases, I've taken a lot of extra time listening to Megadeth's SUPER COLLIDER, if for no other reason than to figure out just why I don't think it's very good. With Megadeth, it's always a scenario where the first few listens remind you of a lot of other stuff they have done. You have to give them more time though, as the Dave Mustaine sound has a way of either sticking with you when it's truly brilliant, or just sounding tired when it's not. Certainly, any metalhead knows the difference between an album like RUST IN PEACE and another like THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO. It's the same guy, and literally the same audio quality of performance, but that spark is completely different between the two albums. With KINGMAKER, Mustaine and company just fall flat, even though it's a well recorded album that's unmistakably Megadeth.
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!
(Drowning Pool Concert Tickets)
Is there anyone that even knows what the identity of "Drowning Pool" is even supposed to mean these days? Let's face it, the ONLY reason that name means anything is because their debut produced the song "Bodies" and shortly after their singer died. Since then, this "band" has literally been a revolving door of singers so that they never established an actual identity past "Bodies" and the followup "Sinner". Having met these guys many times, they are certainly nice enough guys. Their heart is also in the right place, specifically with the way they go out of their way to support the troops with visits to war zones, supportive songs and whatnot. All of that said though, it doesn't spare them the fact that by changing singers every couple of years, they never established much of a groove or a "signature sound" where you hear it and go, "oh, that's Drowning Pool". Once again, for the fourth time actually, there's a new singer fronting Drowning Pool. This guy's name is Jason Moreno. He's OK, I guess. That said though, RESILIENCE suffers once again from what has plagued this band...zero identity.
VENOMOUS RAT REGENERATOR VENDOR
(Rob Zombie Concert Tickets)
It's been a long time since Rob Zombie did an album that was actually worth listening to. For many, he was done after the first HELLBILLY DELUXE release. To say the least, he's never been that good since. Having been a fan of Zombie up to that point, be it the "Rob" or the "White" variety, his career since then where there was music painted around his movie and directing careers, has been spotty at best. While I still listen to ASTROCREEP about once a month, I can't remember the last time I listened to SINISTER URGE or EDUCATED HORSES. I know it hasn't been recently. Even knowing a new release was coming didn't lead me back to those releases. Zombie has surprised me, and many for that matter, with VENOMOUS RAT REGENERATOR VENDOR. Wtihout question, this is the best release Zombie has done in a LOT of years. While no one will mistake VENDOR as a classic recording by any means, it's the most fun album he's done in a very long time. Rob Zombie is back...at least somewhat.
Black Star Riders
ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE
For so many people, it's a constant complaint when bands with one or two original members continue on with a band name instead of forming a brand new project. The topic of "how many original members makes a band a band" has been debated on literally every rock music show that's existed over the last 20 years, and there's never been a definitive answer to any of it. For some people, if there's one original guy then it's OK to use the established name. For others, nothing short of all original members qualifies. For others, it's a question of which original member is there. Across the board, there's a lot of indecision regarding just how many members of a band make that band still exist. A couple of years ago, guitarist Scott Gorham reformed and toured a "new" Thin Lizzy comprised of himself and, pretty much, all new players. Having seen them, I will give them a lot of credit for carrying on not only the sound of Thin Lizzy, but the spirit of the band with full respect paid to the heart and soul of the original band, Phil Lynott. When they decided to record a new studio album, they could easily have chosen the easy, better selling idea to call it Thin Lizzy. Instead, they chose a new band name and chose to leave the integrity of the original band intact. So, first and foremost, bravo to them for that tough move that was PROBABLY not well received by their record company.