Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Slayer and Megadeth and Testament, Oh My!

Last night, at the Halifax Metro Centre of all places, my head nearly exploded during a concert from some heavy weights in the heavy metal department.  You know it is a good show when Testament is the opening act to Megadeth, then Slayer closing the show.  Even though Megadeth was first, they did play an entire set.

First up was Testament.  For those who haven't heard anything by these Oakland, California boys, here is the title track from the album Practice What You Preach

Testament played about a 45 minute set, playing some older tracks with some newer tracks.  It was a fantastic set, with lots of pogo-ing and moshing.  In fact, during their set, something happened that I have never seen is all the shows that I have been to (and, I have been to many, many shows; a seasoned veteran I am).  During the final track, when they played Formation of Damnation (from their newest album) the lead singer, Chuck Billy, got the crowd on the floor to part left and right of centre, leaving about a 5 metre gap.  When he said go, he wanted the "left side to kill the right side, and the right side to kill the left side."  What resulted was the largest circle pit that I have ever seen (and been part of, since I usually avoid them, I guess my inner five year old came out).  In the end, Testament blew the roof off and I would certain go out of my way to see them again.

After about a 25 minute pause for tear down and set up, Megadeth hit the stage.  The first 45 minutes of so of the set, Dave Mustaine and the band just continually played, track for track, their fantastic 1990 album, Rust in Peace, from beginning to end.  It was fantastic to hear it played, and if you have no idea what I am talking about check out the album.  Definitely a thrash masterwork.  Here is a track from that album, entitled Polaris:

After the completion of Rust in Peace, Mustaine finally addressed the crowd, by simply saying "Thank you.  That was Rust in Peace."  Then they continued to play songs from various other albums, like Symphony of Destruction from Countdown to Extinction, and finally ending their set with a wicked rendition of the title track from Peace Sells....But Who's Buying?  Mustaine still looks like he is 18 years old, thrashes with the best of them with his Gibson Flying V and his Sideshow Bob mop of hair.  Great, great set!

Finally, as if Megadeth wasn't enough, Slayer hits the stage.  Slayer's focus with this set was tracks from Seasons in the Abyss, though, they did not play the entire album like Megadeth did with Rust in Peace.  They opened with a couple of tracks from their latest album, World Painted Blood, with the title track and Hate Worldwide.

From there, they moved on to War Ensemble, from Seasons in the Abyss, and continued to tear the house down.  Near the end of the set, the closed with Raining Blood, From Reign in Blood, followed immediately with show closer South of Heaven.  It was amazing to see these four men just play.  Their style is so fast and aggressive, it is amazing seeing them do it still, after all these year.  Dave Lombardo plays the drum so fast, it is nearly impossible to comprehend.  And the show was so loud!  I counted 36 Marshall amplifiers behind them.  I could feel my clothes pulsating with the beats.  It was amazing, though, I would like my hearing back in my right ear.

Overall, the show was killer.  I had a great time and recommend any of these band to anyone, but mostly to people who like their heavy music.  I also do recommend, as horrible as it might sound, to wear ear plugs.  You can still hear the bands, you just block out some of the residual noise.  For me, a person who does like to go to concerts, I would like to keep going and enjoying, with my hearing.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top 10 Most influential Bands/Artists #8 - Metallica

Yes friends, Metallica is number eight on my list.  Metallica is one of my absolutely favourite bands.  Their ranking up at number eight might seem a little unjust to some, but when I eventually continue on with my list, the ranking might seem a little more logical.

Metallica.  Four fine upstanding citizens of rock royalty.  The band started back in 1981 in California when  drummer Lars Ulrich posted an advertisement in the paper looking for people with shared interests in music.  James Hetfield answered the call, and rock n' roll music was never the same again.  Dave Mustaine joined the band in 1982 as their lead guitarist, and help write a few tracks on their debut album, Kill 'em All, but was asked to leave the band in 1983 due to drug and alcohol abuse.  He was replaced later that afternoon with Kirk Hammett.  Genius bass player Cliff Burton rounded out the four piece band, and that remained their line-up for their first three album.  Sadly, in 1986, Burton died in a bus accident, and was later replaced with Jason Newsted.  Newsted remained the bass player for Metallica until 2001, when he left the band.  Finally, in 2003, former Suicidal Tendencies bass player was chosen for the coveted spot, and the band has remained in this line up eve since.

So why in the hell do Metallica deserve to be on the list?  Well, how could they not be?  They are a pioneering thrash metal band.  They have sold more albums that any other heavy metal band; around 100 million worldwide, and have received nine grammy's.  They have influenced countless hard rock and heavy metal bands from Korn, Godsmack, Slipknot, Slayer, Machinehead, Avenged Sevenfold, and Mastodon, just to name a few off. They were inducted into the Rock n' Roll hall of fame their first year of eligibility.  Every album they released makes you excited about the band.  Even their "lesser" albums are still far better than the best albums that some bands produce.  They sell out every venue, and sometime multiple times.  They truly are rock royalty and will continue to be long after they decide to retire (which I hope is a long time from now).

I finish this post with their first music video, One:


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Top 10 Most influential Bands/Artists #9 - Bob Dylan

Yes, that is right,  number nine.  I said it.  I did not already have a number nine previously, this is the first time I have mentioned a number 9.  (Well, I did have a brain fart and put Rush at number nine, but then, after careful consideration and much listening, I have decided that they will be pushed up to a top five placing, to be shared with someone else then, because I don't have enough room).

My real choice for number nine will be Bob Dylan.  Here is an artist that also, like Rush, can have a real love/hate relationship. Some will read and think I have gone absolutely bonkers only placing Dylan at nine, and others will think "what the hell is he doing there?"  Well, love him or hate him, Dylan definitely deserves to be on any crackpot's top ten list.

Robert Zimmerman, AKA Bob Dylan began his musical career as a folk artist, and for the most part, stayed that way through his never ending career.  His first album was released nearly 50 years ago in 1962.  Most of his early recordings were acoustic, and it wasn't until 1965, when he released his fifth album, Bring it all Back Home, that Dylan surprised everyone and released an electric album.  Later that year, Dylan released Highway 61 Revisited, which featured the track Like a Rolling Stone, which is credited in Rolling Stone Magazine to be the number one written song of all time. (Though, I feel that Times, They are a Changing to be his greatest song that is truly timeless).

So why does Bob Dylan deserve to be here?  Well, it could start with the 34 studio albums, 58 singles, 13 live albums and 14 compilations that he has under his belt.  It could also be that nearly every singer/songwriter wishes to have just a fraction of the success that Dylan has.  Hell, even his backing electric band for a few years "The Band," made it huge.  Countless people have covered his songs like Knockin' on Heaven's Door (G n' R), Maggie's Farm (Rage Against the Machine), If Not for You (George Harrison), Master's of War (Pearl Jam). And in many cases, made them better - Jimi Hendrix's version of All along the Watchtower.  Bob Dylan has impacted and help shape modern music for generations to come.  He is a political activist, protester, poet, writer - there is nothing he really hasn't done in popular music.  He came from a time where you actually needed talent to perform (and yes, I know he isn't the world's greatest singer).

(I couldn't get the actual intro to embed, but here is the song at least).


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Eminem Recovery CD Review

The new Eminem album, Recovery, came out on June 21, and after my initial listening to it, I am truly impressed with it.

Recovery is Eminem's seventh studio album, and quite possibly his best and most personal album since The Marshall Mathers LP.  Talkin' to Myself, the second track on the album, talks about Em's disappointment with his previous album, shows that he is still grieving over the loss of his best friend, Proof, and continues his love/hate relationship with Kim.  Going through changes samples "Changes" by Black Sabbath and again you can really hear the emotion and issues that Marshall had to deal with over the past few years.  You can hear in the songs that Eminem has matured in his song writing ability since his earliest outings.  Gone now are the songs that make you laugh (though, there are still some verses peppered throughout the album that still show the juvenile Eminem), but really, they aren't really missed.  Just listen to Not Afraid below to get a feel for the emotion that is in the album.

Considering that this album and last year's Relapse were written after Em decided to give up the life of drugs and alcohol and were written sober really shows off his mastery at rhyming.  He knows how to convey his feeling and emotions through his words like very few hip hop artist ever have been able too.  He definitely belongs in the upper echelons of rap with the likes of 2pac, Notorious B.I.G., Run DMC and Public Enemy.

Now, I am not really a fan of rap and hip hop, but I do seem to like Eminem.  I think it is because he really tells stories in his lyrics, and because his beats are produced by Dr. Dre, who is one of the best hip hop producers ever.

Key Tracks:  Talkin' to Myself, Changes, Not Afraid, 25 to Life.  Highly recommended to anyone who typically enjoys hip hop or doesn't enjoy hip hop. 4.5/5


PS  Sorry to Tom for the list interruption, but I had to talk about this.  Number 8 coming soon

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Top 10 Most Influential Bands #4ish - Rush

Today's entry can be considered a little bit of a controversial decision.  With all of the great bands that have come and gone and stayed and everything, why would I pick Rush?  Rush is a band that has a true love/hate following.  Those of us that love Rush, love Rush.  Love everything that they produce and understand that the three members are experts in their respective instruments.  Those who don't like Rush usually all have the same complaints "Geddy Lee's voice is odd."  "I don't like Neil Peart's lyrics."  "They are boring."  But the one thing that most haters of Rush can agree on is that they are experts in their respective instruments.

Rush began over 40 years ago, in 1968, in Willowdale, ON, when Alex Lifeson and a couple of school friends started the band.  It was a few weeks after the formation that the original bassist left, and Geddy Lee joined and became the lead vocalist and bass player.  Their first album, entitled simply Rush was released in 1974 with original drummer John Rutsey, didn't preform so well commercially until the track Working Man started to get some airplay down in Cleveland.  Rutsey left after the first album and was subsequently replaced by Neil Peart.  Since then, they have released 18 studio albums and sold over 40 million albums world wide.  Songs like Tom Sawyer, Closer to the Heart, Fly by Night, Show don't Tell, Spirit of the Radio, Freewill and Subdivisions, to name just a few, gave them success on the radio.

So, why do I think that Rush deserves to be on the list?  Well, for starters, a band that has sold so many records, sells out all of their tours, has a rabid fan base while still aren't considered as mainstream as their other classic rock counterparts should be deserving of something.  Rush have been cited to influence bands such as Dream Theater, Metallica, Smashing Pumpkins and countless others.  In addition, for a band who has such a rich and deep sound, they never have utilized touring instrumentalists, always playing all parts themselves.  They are world class artist and performers.  Rush showed that a band can be worldly successful, while still keeping true to themselves, and never selling out.  The only real injustice that has happened to Rush is that they haven't been inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.

I end this post with likely their most famous track, Tom Sawyer from Moving Pictures.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

IMO The Top 10 Most Influential Bands/Artists #10

I started thinking the other night in bed about all the bands that I like (and there are a lot) and then I started thinking that I should do a, what I think, are the most influential bands and artist. It is a tough thing to narrow down all the great bands that have come and gone. It is also especially tough when my interest is mostly in Rock n Roll. People like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson are certainly influential in their own right, given the title of Kings among pretty much everyone, but they aren't the type of artist that made my list, because well, it is my list and I can be just a little biased. So to start, here is number 10. Drum roll please

#10 Nirvana

Ah Nirvana.  Those clean cut kids from Seattle.  Pioneers of the grunge music scene of the late 80's and early 90's.  Nirvana was really that band that took this style of music to the main stream.  Formed in 1987 by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic released their first album Bleach in 1989 and enjoyed some moderate success in the underground music scene.  It wasn't until 1991, after Dave Grohl joined the band and they released Nevermind that the band exploded on the main stream.  With the singles Smells like Teen Spirit, In Bloom, Come as You Are, Breed, Lithium, the band became one of the biggest bands in the world nearly overnight, and had a large legion on fans.

Their follow-up album, and subsequent final studio album In Utero in 1993, also shared exception radio play  Nevermind.  Singles such as Heart Shaped Box, Dumb, and All Apologies lead the way for high record sales.  But sadly, the dream faded away almost as quickly as it started.  On April 8th, 1994, Kurt Cobain took his life.  

I believe that Nirvana belongs on this list because of how they were able to bring this music to the main stream, whether they wanted to achieve that or not.  No other band can or will be able to duplicate how Nirvana took a sound and made it sound great.  I love other bands in that era.  Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, STP, Pearl Jam just to name a few, are still exceptional bands.  Their music is as good or better than Nirvana's, but if it wasn't for that catchy riff at the beginning of Smells like Teen Spirit, I don't know if the recond studios would have given them a chance.

I leave this post with the song that really started a movement.