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Showing posts from July, 2013

Music Reviews, 7/29/13

Hey, it's been about a minute since I've done some music reviews around this piece, but I've been busy between The Big Four Song Challenge Series, my best friend's wedding, my band and my new job.  So I decided to farm out my music review column to a guest this week.  Here is: THE CHEAT!

The Rolling Stones "Live At Hyde Park"

Yeah, man.  I'll bite your face off.

Selena Gomez "Stars Dance"

Yeah, man.  I'll bite your face off.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (Deluxe Edition)

Yeah, man.  I'll bite your face off.

The Smurfs 2 (Music From And Inspired By)

Yeah, man.  I'll bite your face off.

Taylor Swift "Everything Has Changed" (Remix) [feat. Ed Sheeran]

Yeah, man.  I'll bite your face off.

Hmmm...Maybe that wasn't the best idea.  Oh well.  I'll just have to do some myself next week.

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Summary And Conclusion

I guess I can write a lot when I put my mind to it.  This...thing, this experiment, is 69,126 words (counting this entry).  276 pages from end to end.  That's practically a book.  (In fact, if it weren’t for all the hrefs I put into this bastard, I’d have half a mind to turn this into a coffee table book.)


I’ll be the first to admit: the system I used is inherently flawed.  Slayer didn’t have nearly as many album tracks as the rest, and overall a lot of filler got put in (which kinda made it fun, but if you’re going for scientific, well tough luck).  Though then again, Slayer wound up placing second so who the hell knows?  It’s not an outcome I’d’ve seen coming.

The idea for The Big Four Song Challenge Series was more like The Big Four Album Challenge Series in the beginning.  I’d done one based on the three Sepulturas back in 2012..  In fact, just for the hell of it, here’s how that would have shaped out:

“Fistful Of Metal” VS “Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good!…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 170

This is it, boys and girls!  The final showdown to see who is the supreme thrash metal band of the big four!  Strap on your shit...y'know, don't strap on your shit!  Let it all hang out!  THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO SLAM DANCE!

Anthrax "Jailbreak" (2013) VS. Megadeth "A House Divided" (2013) VS. Metallica "The Star Spangled Banner" (5/3/13, Live From AT&T Park) (2013) VS. Slayer "Atrocity Vendor" (2009)

Here's a song my old band Eden's Rage tried to cover toward the end in 2006.  It was kinda boring because we had no singer.  And really, the singer is the most important part, because even though that riff is the shit, it's Phil Lynot that made the original work.  This just kinda sounds like Thin Lizzy karaoke.  Not cheap necessarily, but so close to the original without being it that you kinda take offense.

"A House Divided" starts with a mournful guitar/Mexican trumpet duet, then slides into a slow hard rock song …

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 169

Anthrax "Big Eyes" (2013) VS. Megadeth "All I Want" (2013) VS. Metallica "Rebel Of Babylon" (2011) VS. Slayer "Not Of This God" (2009)

I've never heard the original "Big Eyes", so that helped in my enjoyment of the song; I could at least pretend it was something new-ish.  Is it good?  Not really; it's pretty wanky, which makes sense with Cheap Trick, but...then again, am I being to serious?  That's what I tell people who don't like the new Megadeth; it's not supposed to be completely deadpan (though there are some moments).  This is just a covers EP after all; does it really need to justify its existence?  And as the song goes along, its catchiness wins me over a bit.  Easily my favorite from "Anthems".

"All I Want" is the first of three bonus tracks from "Super Collider" (one of which is a live track, so fuck that).  And WOW am I glad this didn't make the album.  Speaking of wanky,…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 168

Anthrax "Keep On Runnin'" (2013) VS. Megadeth "Cold Sweat" (2013) VS. Metallica "Hell And Back" (2011) VS. Slayer "Playing With Dolls" (2009)

"Keep On Runnin'" sounds like a Green Day cover of Journey.  For reals.

"Cold Sweat" is a Thin Lizzy cover that has a guitar tone reminiscent of Kilgore Smudge's "Blue Collar Solitude".  It's a pretty basic song, but hey if you're down for fun and not taking the music seriously, this can be a good time.

"Hell And Back" casts aspersions on that assertion however.  It broods quietly, seething inwardly at its lot in life.  Musically, it sounds kind of like what might have happened had there been an album called "Threeload", wherein they made another album in 1999 with a few slightly harder ideas like this and the handful that made it onto "S&M", "I Disappear" and some other shit, like maybe the original cut of "…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 167

Anthrax "Smokin'" (2013) VS. Megadeth "Don't Turn Your Back..." (2013) VS. Metallica "Just A Bullet Away" (2011) VS. Slayer "Psychopathy Red" (2009)

Sure, it's kind of amazing how close Anthrax can get to the sound of the originals, but why even bother covering them if you're not gonna make them your own in some way? 

"Don't Turn Your Back..." opens with an incredibly bluesy guitar lead, the kind where they make it cry softly.  Then the double bass and metal chugging bulldoze that shit right over and slam into a song that just about makes you wanna head bang.  This should have been the closer, in fact, but they couldn't resist covering Thin Lizzy and not throwing it on the special edition, even though that already has three bonus tracks.

"Just A Bullet Away" is a D-Tuned, angry snarler of a track, though it needs to be cut for time.  Seven minutes is just too much when five and two thirds will do.  (L…

Tuesday Mixtastic: Guest Star Time!

This time around, we're gonna try something a little different.  My buddy TJ sent me a message, the text of which was the following:

hey I have a mixtastic playlist for you to in your blog. if your down with me putting things in your blog. if you want me to give some details as to how this playlist came about I can do that also. this is in backwards order, so the first is last, 32 in all. ugly duckling-daisy, generic-contra and Zelda, smashing pumpkins-1979, guns'n roses-think about you, 40 watt hype-la sombra, Justin sane-for pat, agatsumai-curfew, fake brain-the other mudflap, billy idol-Romeo's waiting, the yoshida brothers-gales of wind (hayate), further down-cactus in the sand, beastie boys-sabotage, dethklok-birthday dethday, aaa-virgin f, fake brain-the invisible song, the offspring-pay the man, dragon ash-baby girl was born, Kenji (dragon ash)- dear place featuring akeem, lit-lipstick and bruises, the little killers-99 cents, dragon ash-N.J. soul, guns n'roses-m…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 166

Anthrax "T.N.T." (2013) VS. Megadeth "Forget To Remember" (2013) VS. Metallica "Hate Train" (2011) VS. Slayer "Americon" (2009)

"T.N.T." is another cover that offers nothing new from the original, and in doing so is destined to fall short of the target.  NEXT!

"Forget To Remember" is some new millennium pop metal crap, I gotta say.  Kinda like "A Secret Place" with a modicum of self-respect and no sitar.

Now from the "Too Little, Too Late" and "Damage (INC.) Control" departments, we have the "Beyond Magnetic" EP.  You can understand why each one of these songs failed to make the "Death Magnetic" cut, but you can also understand why Metallica would feel comfortable releasing them, because they are still some damn fine tunes.  "Hate Train" is kind of a roller coaster, with similarities in the solo section to "The End Of The Line", verses that are half time an…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 165

Anthrax "Anthem" (2013) VS. Megadeth "The Blackest Crow" (2013) VS. Lou Reed & Metallica "Junior Dad" (2011) VS. Slayer "Human Strain"  (2009)

"Anthem" is a Rush cover, and as such has castrato vocals up in this piece.  Of course, Joey hits every note he's supposed to, but he does it without ANY force.  It just sounds so LAME.  Also, the music is almost exactly the same as the original, which begs the question why do a cover in the first place?  The original is way more natural though, leaving this to be an imperfect clone and nothing more.

Critics have complained about the bluegrass music on "The Blackest Crow", but I personally think it's a cool new detail.  It's something the band has never tried before, and I think they pull it off quite well.  The banjo gives the song a color it desperately needs to make it stand out from just another metal song.  Also, the backwards order of snare and bass hits, almost b…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 164

Anthrax "New Noise" (2011) VS. Megadeth "Beginning Of Sorrow" (2013) VS. Lou Reed & Metallica "Dragon" (2011) VS. Slayer "Public Display Of Dismemberment" (2009)

I just realized, because "New Noise" is a cover, that means "Revolution Screams" was the last original Anthrax song of The Big Four Song Challenge Series.  Most people hate this version because Joey Belladonna sings the chorus instead of doing the screamo shit like The Refused, but I like it because of that.  The original had a good idea, but it was ruined by shitty vocals.  Is this version neutered?  Yeah.  John Bush or Dan Nelson could've found a middle ground to make everyone happy.  But this was done competently enough.

"Beginning Of Sorrow" (which is kind of a dumb song title) begins with a bass arpeggio that sounds suspiciously like "At Dawn They Sleep", but the song kicks in, and it sounds like something that would've been at ho…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 163

Anthrax "Revolution Screams" (2011) VS. Megadeth "Dance In The Rain" (2013) VS. Lou Reed & Metallica "Little Dog" (2011) VS. Slayer "Hate Worldwide" (2009)

The chorus of "Revolution Screams" "screams" final song, so good on ya for that, guys.  And Charlie Bananaz comes out of retirement to do some crazy shit at points in this song.  I never realized how comparatively reserved Benante's been on this album until now.  The song has kind of a plodding middle section that make the piece lose steam that even the bonkers outro can't fully recover.  It's decent, but could have been better.

Next, we have one of two David Draiman intrusions into the world of real metal from "Super Collider", "Dance In The Rain".  Of course, you can't really tell what he did, so why complain?  It's a metal ballad mourning the common man's circumstances, which starts slow, but gradually builds over the cours…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 162

Anthrax "The Constant" (2011) VS. Megadeth "Off The Edge" (2013) VS. Lou Reed & Metallica "Frustration" (2011) VS. Slayer "Beauty Through Order" (2009)

My first impression of "The Constant" was that it's basically "5 Minutes Alone" if you sucked out the attitude (though not literally).  Well, if you ignore the chorus that is.  I like how it flips to a more bouncy thing, then a 12-string interlude.  The chorus puts this well above what the average band would've done, which is stay with the one riff and run it into the fucking ground.  Instead, the 'Thrax takes it to an interesting place by actually writing a new couple parts that fit with the song.  Actually, now that I hear the middle section, this song is very dissimilar to "5 Minutes Alone".  It's actually pretty bad-ass in its own right.

"Off The Edge" is pretty forgettable lyrically and musically.  Just hear the word "lazy"…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 161

Anthrax "Crawl" (2011) VS. Megadeth "Built For War" (2013) VS. Lou Reed & Metallica "Cheat On Me" (2011) VS. Slayer "Snuff" (2009)

"Crawl" is an uncharacteristic song in the Anthrax cannon, with quiet, almost pretty verses, a chugging pre-chorus, and a slower, ringing chorus, with tinges of strings to make it sound more intricate instead of bigger.  There's nothing really like it in the band's catalog, and I give 'em props for it.  (It also happens to be a cool song, so that's a plus.)

"Built For War" has some fucked up time signatures and some groove metal goodness.  It has what I like to call a hammock beat: Sixteenth note kicks with the snare on the one, giving a feel like you're floating backwards while supported, but with a little bit of swing to it, almost imperceptible.  It's a damn fine Megadeth song that should keep the "It must be heavy" purists at bay.

 "Cheat On Me" has…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 160

Anthrax "Hymn 2/Judas Priest" (2011) VS. Megadeth "Burn!" (2013) VS. Lou Reed & Metallica "Iced Hoeny" (2011) VS. Slayer "Unit 731" (2009)

No, "Judas Priest" has nothing to do with the band of the same name; not even in homage.  I suppose they're in the same genre, but that's where the two stop having to do with each other.  The song itself is kind of like they had one good idea, then wrote a song based on what a metal song "should" be instead of remembering that they're fucking Anthrax and they helped invent this shit.

And no, "Burn!" is not to be confused with the Pantera song of the same name (exclamation point included!), which was recorded back when they sounded like Judas Priest.  This is probably the low point lyrically for the album, but in spite of being a mid paced tune pretty much like every other Megadeth song of the same ilk, it's got something to it that elevates it above the bottom…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 159

Anthrax "The Giant" (2011) VS. Megadeth "Super Collider" (2013) VS. Lou Reed & Metallica "Mistress Dread" (2011) VS. Slayer "World Painted Blood" (2009)

"The Giant" is a mean little motor scooter of a song.  It starts hard and fast and stays that way until the epic chorus, which breaks things up beautifully.  This is a really nifty jam.

The song that made everybody shit their collective pants and say Megadeth has lost it is here: "Super Collider".  Once again: I can see it not being your cup of tea, but I don't understand the level of hate it gets.  For a band that's been around for as long as Megadeth has (and for a band that has a track record of leaning more hard rock than metal in the last 15 years plus), this is a way more honest song for them to do.  It's uptempo, even upbeat.  It's even, dare I say it, positive.  (Gasp!)  Are the lyrics kinda dumb?  Yeah.  The lyrics on the entire album are a little d…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 158

Anthrax "Hymn 1/In The End" (2011) VS. Megadeth "Kingmaker" (2013) VS. Lou Reed & Metallica "Pumping Blood" (2011) VS. Slayer "Final Six" (2006)

"In The End" is probably the song that gets stuck in my head most frequently and comes to mind most readily when I think about "Worship Music".  It has a cool trill thing going on for a riff, but the pace is slowed down so as to pound the quality of the craftsmanship into your brain as deep as it'll go.  It's also perhaps Joey Belladonna's finest hour on the entire album.  It actually sounds like he belongs for a change.  And hey, being a drummer I'm always a sucker for a catchy groove, which "In The End" personifies.  (Also, the middle section sounds like a better in every way version of "I'm Alive", rendering the previous track on the album comPLETELY unnecessary.  Juss sayin'.)

Okay, here comes the hate.  We now have "Lulu" a…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 157

Anthrax "I'm Alive" (2011) VS. Megadeth "13" (2011) VS. Lou Reed & Metallica "The View" (2011) VS. Slayer "Supremist" (2006)

"I'm Alive" is a repetitive, stock, meaningless five and a half minutes of not-quite power metal.  But it's really well put together.  As far as repetitive, stock, meaningless five and a half minute slabs of not quite power metal go.

"13" is a slow, half acoustic number about how Dave Mustaine is still standing after 13 albums (or past lives, as he metamorphoses albums into metaphor).  And it wouldn't be a Megadeth song...hell, wouldn't be a big four song if the back half of the song didn't start going hard.  Well, hard in this case is "not acoustic", but it's a decent slice of hard rock.  (Also, it keeps with Anthrax's theme: "And I'm still alive" is the refrain.)

Oh boy.  Here comes the table.  Once again, if Lou Reed's delivery wasn'…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 156

Anthrax "Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" (2011) VS. Megadeth "Deadly Nightshade" (2011) VS. Lou Reed & Metallica "Brandenburg Gate" (2011) VS. Slayer "Cult" (2006)

"Fight 'Em 'Til You Can't" was the world's first taste of new 'Thrax with Joey Belladonna back behind the mic, and the first thing most people noticed after the first listen was "Hey, this sounds familiar."  The pre-chorus and other parts of the song (despite a blistering middle section) are re-hashed from the song "Gridlock", which was on Belladonna's last venture with the band "Persistence Of Time".  Don't believe me?  Check out this, then this.  (And just for shits & giggles, here's the Dan Nelson Version.)  That aside, it's a decent song, and if you can get past the similarities, you've got a pretty good thrash tune.

"Deadly Nightshade" is a song that should have come earlier in…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 155

Anthrax "The Devil You Know" (2011) VS. Megadeth "Millennium Of The Blind '11" (2011) VS. Metallica "Remember Tomorrow" (2008) VS. Slayer "Black Serenade" (2006)

"The Devil You Know" is a song about vampires that, though hard charging, sounds like the band is holding back.  Compare this to a "Catharsis", or a "Fueled", and you'll here what I mean.  It's that type of song, but not as hard hitting.  Sure, Belladonna's part of it, but it's the music too.  Still, all things being equal, on its own its a catchy head bobber.

"Millennium Of The Blind" is a slower ditty about how corrupt those in power are.  In the course of an album (maybe a better planed one) this may have been a really good second to last grinder just before the final salvo.  But alas, this was on "Th1rt3en", a hastily thrown together collection of whatever designed to beat Metallica.

"Remember Tomorrow" …

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 154

Anthrax "Worship/Earth On Hell" (2011) VS. Megadeth "Wrecker" (2011) VS. Metallica "My Apocalypse" (2008) VS. Slayer "Catatonic" (2006)

Today, we welcome Joey Belladonna back to the fold, in what signifies the home stretch for The Big Four Song Challenge Series: "Worship Music".  Is the music designed for someone of the ilk of John Bush or Dan Nelson?  You bet your ass.  Does Joey acquit himself well enough to redeem the material?  In this case, yes.  He does a good job on the whole album, but at the time it came out, especially listening to the few live Nelson bootlegs there are in anticipation, you can tell they would've done a better job.  But you can't really judge the material by what could have (or should have) been.  Going by what we have, this shit bangs.

"Wrecker" is like "Almost Honest"'s ballsier cousin.  Same evil-ex scenario, but with more of a "World Needs A Hero" strength to it.  A…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 153

Anthrax "Gung-Ho" (The Greater Of Two Evils) (2004) VS. Megadeth "Black Swan '11" (2011) VS. Metallica "Suicide & Redemption" (2008) VS. Slayer "Consfearacy" (2006)

"Gung-Ho" is a song that, though expertly done, maybe shouldn't have been covered.  I mean, they nailed it, but that's the problem: It sounds almost exactly like the original.  Which is a good song, don't get me wrong. this necessary?  My gut tells me no, but my head says, "Hey, why the fuck not?"  Goin' with my head for now.

Speaking of remakes, "Black Swan" the "Th1rt3en" version actually manages to be better than the original by being a fully fleshed out song, instead of sounding like a rough track with something missing.  The only thing I miss about the original is the chorus; sounded much tougher.

"Suicide & Redemption" is officially the longest Metallica album track, clocking in at 9:58.  (Of c…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 152

Anthrax "Be All, End All" (The Greater Of Two Evils) (2004) VS. Megadeth "Fast Lane" (2011) VS. Metallica "The Judas Kiss" (2008) VS. Slayer "Jihad" (2006)

"Be All, End All '04" is the same as the original, except instead of a cello for the into it's a detuned guitar.  Nothing else of consequence changes.  That being said, it's still a three and a third star jam.  Good bordering on great.

"Fast Lane" is pointless hard rawk wankery at its core.  Especially considering this was supposed to follow "New World Order".  That contrast is enough to raise my ire and eyebrow.  It's the type of song you'd expect from a band 25 years into their career when they're almost completely out of...oh.

To contrast, (though a lot of people out there may disagree) I present "The Judas Kiss".  A tour de force that remains a hidden gem in "Death Magnetic" due largely to its positioning.  It's…

The Big Four Song Challenge Series: Match 151

Anthrax "Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)" (The Greater Of Two Evils) (2004) VS. Megadeth "New World Order '11" (20...11?  You sure?  I dunno...) VS. Metallica "The Unforgiven III" (2008) VS. Slayer "Eyes Of The Insane" (2006)

Acronyms are to Anthrax what ellipses are to Megadeth.  (A.I.R., N.F.L., S.S.C., A.D.I., W.C.F.Y.A., E.T.C.).  This version of "Nise Fukin' Life" is the harder, "We've been playing this for almost 20 years at this point" version, you'd expect in this stage of their career.  They also do the intro to "Time" at the end, which is nice.  And the last chorus has a blast beat.  Nice.

"New World Order" (N.W.O.?) sounded better back in the 90's, and with less of Mustaine's rhetoric to sound like this is being repurposed to push the paranoid rhetoric that makes conspiracy theorists feel so self-important.  This just doesn't have the cool guitar tone, the tight sounding drums…