COME ON IN AND COVER ME

Good day all,

I have been a fan of Anthrax since the beginning of their existence when Fist Full of Metal first hit the stores. I have always found Anthrax to be one of the few metal acts who really do not take themselves too seriously and allow their music and personalities to shine in whatever they do. Even when they take on a serious issue in their music i.e. “Indians” they still aren’t over preaching, if you will, to their audience but trying to have as much fun as possible while trying to teach just a little bit. This as far as I am concerned is the way a lot more bands should approach music. Take a look at their EP I’m the Man, there is nothing but fun on that EP and the fact that they even made this EP and that song in particular is pretty impressive for a thrash band, especially one in the 80’s and 90’s.

So this week Anthrax released a new EP just in time for their headlining spot on the Metal Alliance Tour that starts Saturday (March 23) in Las Vegas. The new EP Anthems is an album of cover songs from the likes of RUSH, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, and Journey among other bands that they pay homage to on this EP. I have listened to the album and my opinion is it is a great addition to the history and importance of these songs and it is a great way to hear Anthrax do something new in terms of songs they have not put down on a record but the problem I have with the album is that they didn’t do anything that would make you think anything differently of the songs themselves. They basically made a carbon copy of the songs and really, as far as I can tell, didn’t put any type of “Anthrax” spin on any of these songs. These songs, although well done, are the original songs that Anthrax decided to record. They will make for good encores as they are playing the entire Among The Living album and needed something to end with but there is nothing that screams out Anthrax’s personality. That is what I have an issue with; if you are going to do a cover, do something with it that makes it your own. A band doesn’t have to recreate the entire song or re-imagine it but at least add something of your own to it and not just copy the original. Too much of that already goes on!

I love a great cover song and some bands have made a career out of doing them without the general public even knowing about them. Take a look at Six Feet Under who have done a great job of making the covers of Motley Crue’s “Bastard”, Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” and Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” sound like a death metal version of the song. They kept the rhythm but they took the steps to make these songs truly an interpretation of what Six Feet Under is about. Even though I am not a Six Feet Under fan, I appreciate what they did with these songs, I have heard the originals and I liked them, show me something different if you are going to cover another bands music! I hate to use this as an example as it was more comical than good but even Pat Boone recorded a heavy metal covers album and even though it was big band/jazz it at least was a re-interpretation of the original music and you have to be impressed with that.  By the way the name of the album was In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, I bet a lot of you didn’t know about this album and are now intrigued!   

Anyway, you see my point right? I love Anthrax and all of the music they have put out but they could have at least tried something new with some of these songs. They did it with “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” on the I’m The Man EP, why couldn’t they do it here? I don’t want to stop you from buying an album from any band, especially Anthrax who I think is currently the hardest working band in metal, but they could have at least given us something a little different with these songs or even put a little more personality into them. The covers on this album are really good and will make for a good listen, but as far as I am concerned; once was enough.

Until Later, Peace!

Lurch

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Cleveland Rocks? Pops? Raps?

Good day all,

Once again the day is here and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame surprises no one with their cluelessness and ineptitude. I am not even sure why we take this organization, or foundation as they call it seriously. I don’t know who the voters are and I don’t really care all I know is if what they have in the hall is the greatest of rock and roll then I need to reevaluate my ideas on the genre itself. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation has been making odd decisions throughout their long history but it seems to me that since the hall actually found a home in the city of Cleveland that the decisions have become more and more bizarre.

It is starting to look like the hall is trying to induce visitors to their building by adding acts and artists that really do not fit the mold of what a rock and roll band should be considered. Look at some of the more recent choices: Abba, Run DMC, Public Enemy, The Bee Gees, Madonna, The Beastie Boys, and this year Randy Newman and Donna Summer, are we really going to consider these “rock” acts? Or is it more likely that you will be able to attract an older crowd to what is probably a pretty expensive building to maintain in a city that doesn’t sit atop anyone’s must visit destinations?  Let’s face it whether in Cleveland or any other city you need to have visitors to make any money and continue on what you are  doing and a great way to do that is to start including everyone and not limiting the decisions and inductees to strictly rock.

I even take some exception to the rock and roll acts that have made it into the Hall of Fame at this point in contrast to those who have not. I am a big fan of Guns and Roses but does their entire body of work constitute enshrinement into the hall of fame over bands like Deep Purple and Kiss? Plus Kiss is the really odd snub to me as they have circled the galaxy of what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame considers rock and roll. I mean they have been a hard rock band, a heavy metal band and a disco band, heck there is probably some reggae in there somewhere as well although surprisingly Bob and or Ziggy Marley have not made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yet. But I think you get what I am saying, this whole system, foundation and building are a joke, much like the city it resides in, I mean they asked for the Browns to come back, not a lot of great decision makers in that city. (I kid Cleveland folks, I kid because I love).

In the long run it is all about the fans anyway, just look at what Alex Lifeson said to CNN during the initial nomination period  “For our fans, it’s very, very important, and we feel great for them,” he said. “We’re at the next stage and we’ll see if we’re actually inducted. If so, we’ll support it in every way we can for our fans.” I mean seriously? How much do you really think this matters to Rush after reading that statement. I mean for all of the “hard” work Eddie Trunk has done to get those guys enshrined into this hallowed institution what about that statement says they really even care except that their fans are now satisfied, and will probably quit talking to them about being snubbed. Finally a new topic of conversation for Rush during interviews. Of course because Deep Purple and Kiss haven’t been enshrined Eddie Trunk will still rant and rave, but nothing it seems, will stop that from happening.

Look, Groucho Marks said it best “”PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER”. and that probably holds true for a lot of rock musicians today because of the ridiculous inductions that seem to happen year after year in this hall. One could question how Maddona could be added to a “rock and roll” hall of fame ahead of a great woman of rock and roll like Joan Jett, but that is how this hall of fame works. It is not about making great choices for rock and roll it is about getting bodies through the turnstiles at the building that ineptness built. Since the building itself was paid for with public money isn’t there a way to petition the city to have the building renamed the Pop, Rap, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and then we can all stop complaining about the inductees? Just a thought.

Until later, Peace!

Lurch

Concepts

Good day all,

I really love when an album can surprise you and  not only exceeds expectations, but increases your experience for music. That is how I feel after finding Dawnbringer’s new album Into the Lair of the Sun God, I cannot stop listening to this album and on top of that it is a complete concept album and the story is virtually flawless. My new fascination with this album got me wondering about concept albums as a whole and how they are created and what skill it must take to make them cohesive and understandable pieces of music. There are some masters of the concept album and many of you will know who I am going to discuss, but I think a discussion of the concept album is still in order.

King Diamond may be the (sorry I have to do it) “king” of the concept album and he is an interesting case study. What is amazing about what he does with his music and stories is interesting because he never did that with Mercyful Fate and after leaving that band just started up withFatal Portrait and the rest is history. I would love to talk to King Diamond one day and ask him how he wound up on the path of the concept album. He has made them over and over again and I wonder if he was a struggling author that decided to take what he had and put it to music. What I love about King Diamond is he is able to create a truly complicated story and have it sound so perfect with the music he and his band write to compliment the story. That brings up another question, does King have the story first and then adds the music or does he have the music and it inspires the story? All questions I would love to have answered.

Personally for me my two favorite King DIamond albums are Them and The Puppet Master these two albums seem to have the perfect stories that are combined with the perfect music which allows each song to stand out on its own, but also be intricate to the story itself. The mood, tone, and atmosphere of these two albums is really intriguing and pulls the listener into the story. King Diamond, at least to me, when you listen to him it is like listening to a book on tape, you can see the story unfolding in your mind and you actually become invested in the characters. That is what makes a great concept album and that is also how I feel about the new Dawnbringer album.

But King Diamond and Dawnbringer are far from the first groups to make a concept album, Lizzy Borden’s Appointment with Death and Master of Disguise, Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrimes 1 and 2, Amon Amarth’s Surtur Rising also are great concept albums and these bands are superb at creating great concept albums. The fact is, Alice Cooper may have been the original metal concept album artist, his albums Alice Goes to Hell, Welcome to My Nightmare, The Last Temptation, and Along Came a Spider are hallmarks of the concept album genre. Arguably, Welcome to My Nightmare could be the first great heavy metal concept album. I do not know this for a fact but undoubtably King Diamond was heavily influenced by Alice Cooper as well as all other concept album writers.

The concept album itself is what really intrigues me though. I understand that all song writers can write their songs and music differently, but to write a really great concept album it seems that you would have to have a really great roadmap of how you are going to put everything together. The writer is not just writing a song, but a song that intertwines with the other songs on the album and has to fit and be cohesive. This would seem like a daunting process for any song writer no matter how great they are. If you look at what a book author has to do with a story and how they have to outline what is the plot and how they are going to structure the stories and characters, that seems like a daunting task. Now add writing music to that list! You see? Creating a great concept album seems to be an extraordinary achievement for a musician. Looking at Alice Cooper’s career he at least released several non-concept albums in between his concept albums which probably allowed him a little more freedom in his songwriting process. But King Diamond has done concept album after concept album, not all of them have been great, but they all achieved the point of telling a story from beginning to end coherently.

As I stated earlier the awesome new album from Dawnbringer was what got me thinking about the concept album and how difficult it must be to cultivate this type of album. There are plenty of concept albums to choose from out there from the above mentioned Alice Cooper, Lizzy Borden, Coheed and Cambria, even Rush’s new album. But I stand in awe at the ability of these bands to be able to put these types of stories together and literally take me into their music and be part of their stories. If you have never listened to any of the albums or bands I mentioned above I strongly recommend you do so, it will give you a new perspective on how metal can be created and enjoyed. 

Song of the Day: http://youtu.be/UjG7HSpnIbk  A small sample of Dawnbringer’ new album.

Until later, Peace,

Lurch

Randoms 02/06/12

Good Morning All,

Started watching but have not finished the season (hopefully not the series) finale of Metal Evolution. This episode is about progressive metal and I have to tell you up to this point I am not impressed. First, I need a real definition of what Prog Metal is before they try to tell me that Dillinger Escape Plan is a prog metal group. The closest they are to prog metal is that they just make noise and some people find the endearing. I am not one of those people. I find their music to be annoying. Also, does Mastadon really fit in the progressive metal realm? I think you could make a case either way but, I see them more as sludge than I do as progressive. I will say I did enjoy the history from early Genesis, to Yes, to Rush, to Queensryche, to Dream Theater, these are all bands I would consider progressive. But as I said earlier I am only half way through the show and if anything new strikes my fancy in what is left I will let you know.

Here is an interesting bit of news on the new Slayer album via Metal Underground: http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=76956

In honor of the New York Giants Super Bowl win a little New York Thrash for our song of the day : http://youtu.be/-t0affoV5rI

Until Later, Peace,

Lurch