Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Riot V- "Unleash the Fire" album review

 Riot - Unleash the Fire
Riot/Riot V
Unleash the Fire
Rating: ****

When heavy metal/hard rock band Riot announced they would start working on new material, some fans were skeptical. The band’s founder and sole original member, Mark Reale, passed in early 2012 after a lifelong battle with Crohn’s Disease. With Reale’s passing, it seemed that the band would die with him. The band, now under the name Riot V, have been touring all of this year and now have a new studio album. The album, Unleash the Fire, is a touching hard hitting tribute to Reale. While Reale might be gone, the Riot riffs and melodies he wrote are very much alive on this new album.

            Riot are one of those bands that carries a long history with them. The group were originally formed in 1975 by Reale in New York. Despite constant line-up changes, the band were able to churn out three studio album with original singer Guy Speranza. The band’s third album, Fire Down Under, is considered by many to be an underrated hard rock gem. Speranza left in 1981 and was replaced by singer Rhett Forrester. With Forrester, the band made another two albums. In 1984, the band were left in limbo as they had reached rock bottom with disappointing album sales.  Reale left the band on the back burner until 1986 when he revamped the band with a new line-up and more heavy metal oriented sound. This line-up released 1988’s Thundersteel, which help resurrect the band and gain some attention. Although this line-up would end in 1992, Reale and guitarist Mike Flyntz (who was added to the group during the Thundersteel tour) kept the band going. The Thundersteel line-up reunited in 2008 and in 2011, they released an album entitled Immortal Soul. In early 2012, Reale passed away after being a coma for several days due to his lifelong battle with Crohn’s Disease.

            Sometimes after Reale’s passing, Flyntz and Thundersteel era bassist Donnie Van Stavern started putting together a new version of Riot. Flyntz and Stavern are joined by three other members: drummer Frank Gilchriest (who drummed on 2006’s Army of One), singer Todd Michael Hall and guitarist Nick Lee (who is also one of Flyntz’s guitar students).

            The band gets down to business on the head-banging “Ride Hard Live Free.” Right from the start, Flyntz and Lee are at it with their twin lead guitar melodies. As for Hall, he is a remarkable singer. Listening to this song, Hall could be mistaken for former singer Tony Moore. I highly recommend watching a video of the band performing live with Hall: the man has a range that gives him the ability to tackle all of the Riot material. The guitar heavy “Metal Warrior” is lyrically filled with references to other Riot songs. The cries of “shine on” are heard throughout, which references to the chorus of the Riot classic “Warrior.” There are also mentions of Johnny, the name of the band’s seal mascot (other fans will argue his name is the Mighty Tior, but I like to think of him as Johnny- the Mighty Tior): “Raise your fists up to our brother man” sings Hall. “Johnny lead us to your promised land.” The songs is filled with so many references to Riot songs, one might find it hard to keep track of all of them!

            Riot sure know how to deliver heavy metal songs and this album is no exception. “Bring the Hammer Down” certainly lives up to its title while Gilchriest shows off his rapid-fire drumming skills on the thunderous “Fall From the Sky.” The title track is even badass, with Hall shining again on lead vocals. There’s also the anthem-driven “Fight Fight Fight” and the melodic “Land of the Rising Sun,” a Stavern-penned tune written for Riot’s rabid fanbase in Japan. Believe it or not, there are a few songs on here that are a throwback to the old school hard rock Riot. “Return of the Outlaw” is exactly what it sounds like: it is lyrically and musically a sequel to the Riot classic, “Outlaw.” Musically, the song captures the sound of the original while Hall channels his inner Guy Speranza. Hall channels his inner Speranza once again on the nostalgic “Take Me Back.”

            Overall, Unleash the Fire is an impressive album. After listening to this album, I feel that Riot can indeed go on without Mark Reale. Somebody has to play these songs, and that is what this new band is exactly doing. I think it’s safe to say that Mark would be proud.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jack Bruce dead at 71

John Symon Asher "Jack" Bruce
May 14, 1943-October 25, 2014

Jack Bruce, bassist and lead singer for 60's power trio Cream, passed away today. He was 71 years old. The cause of death has not been announced yet. 

Bruce started his career in the early 1960s, playing in blues groups such as Blue Incorporated and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. It was in 1966 when Bruce joined up with former Yardbirds guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker to form Cream. Given their background prior to joining the group, Cream is widely considered to be one of the first supergroups. The band would make four studio albums and release a few hit singles such as "I Feel Free," "Sunshine of Your Love," and "White Room." The band split in 1968, but would reunite in 1993 for their induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and for a series of shows in 2005 at the Royal Albert Hall. After Cream's split, Bruce pursued a solo career. Before his passing. Bruce had still been active. Earlier this year, he had released a new album entitled Silver Rails

It is sad to hear of Jack Bruce's passing. He was a great bassist and I think he's pretty underrated as a bassist. He was also a good singer, with great bluesy-soulful vocals. My condolences go out to his family and friends. 

Rest in peace, Jack. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rock N Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Nominees- My Thoughts

The nominees for the 2015 Rock N Roll Hall of Fame have been announced today. As with the past few years, 15 acts were nominated. Personally, I feel this year's list is weak. There are too many R&B/Soul acts and not enough actual ROCK bands on here. I'm pretty surprised by this list. Still, the Hall is allowing the public to vote but we all know that the public vote means nothing.

So here we go...

PUT EM IN: My Ballot
Lou Reed- Many predicted that Lou would be nominated for his solo career, given he passed away in late October of last year. This is Lou's third time being nominated as a solo artist. The Velvet Underground were inducted in 1996 so at least Lou lived to see that. Hell, he even attended with John Cale and Maureen Tucker! If Lou doesn't get in this year, I will be pissed.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- Like Lou, many predicted Joan would get a nod. I've always liked Joan and think that she's one of the greatest women in rock. I think I said during the first time she was nominated that it was strange that she was getting a nod before the Runaways did. It's pretty clear now: the Hall wants Joan in. The Runaways might get in one day.

Stevie Ray Vaughn- I can't say I'm a fan of his music. I don't think it's bad, mind you. It's just that I haven't really gotten into the guitarist/songwriter category he falls under. Still, the fact that he's been eligible since 2008 and wasn't given a nod once is a joke. He should be in already.

The Smiths- I've been wanting to get into the Smiths for some time. I've recently heard their debut album and I really like them. The Smiths are definitely influential and have an immense cult following in the indie rock crowd. Morriessey recently announced his cancer diagnosis, but hopefully he'll be able to attend the ceremony if the band gets in...or not. From what I know about the Smiths, it's very unlikely the band will reunite for a one-off performance.

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band- Why not?

Wouldn't Mind
Nine Inch Nails

These bands are all pretty cool. Again, I can't say I'm a fan of them. Kraftwerk should be in there for their Krautrock and electronic influences alone while War are worthy enough. It might surprise many of you that I'm okay with Nine Inch Nails. I think Trent Reznor is a creative guy and I've heard a few of their songs. I think they're cool. It might be too soon for them to get in compared to all the other bands that need to be in but I wouldn't mind seeing them in there. Some may think of Sting's solo work as too mainstream or not cool but compared to the others on the list, he's looking good now.

The Marvelettes
The Spinners
Bill Withers

That's an awful lot of R&B acts. The first three have all been nominated before and they never get in. I sometimes like to joke that Chic are almost like the Ron Paul of the Hall, as this is their ninth time being nominated. I don't really care what happens here. What makes me mad is that these acts keep getting nods and they never get in. It's a spot wasted in a way.

Whatever. They'll get in anyway.
Green Day- Earlier this year, I was surprised to find out that Green Day would be eligible for this year's list. I don't know if I've ever said it on this blog but I absolutely cannot stand Green Day. I think Billie Joe Armstrong has good musical tastes but I always thought Dookie was their debut. It isn't. That's their third album. Their first album came out in 1990 on an indie label, but their first release (an EP) was released in 1989. That's 25 years ago so that makes them okay to nominate. This pissed me off. I understand the rules and whatnot but to me, Green Day weren't really known until the early 1990's. I'd even argue that there was a better reason to induct Nirvana last year and I don't care about them either. I did say that Bleach wasn't as popular as their next two albums but at least that album had some relevance and hell, it was an actual ALBUM. With Green Day, the Hall just waited until that one moment. It's almost like someone going "Hey, I just found a cassette Kanye West made when he was a toddler. Let's put him in!!!" NO! Just no.


I hate rap music. I don't want it in the Hall but it's already too late. If they wanted rap in the Hall so badly, then they should wait until you induct some actual ROCK bands.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

AC/DC announce new studio album and Malcolm Young's retirement

Today, AC/DC gave their fans some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the band have officially announced the release of their new studio album. The album, Rock Or Bust, will be released on December 2. The album was recorded earlier this year, reportedly in an impressive ten days. However, the band has some bad news: rhythm guitarist and co-founding member Malcolm Young will not be returning to the band as he has retired. Earlier this year, it was reported that Young was taking a break from the band due to an illness. The band has not revealed the illness in question but during the week of April 13, it was reported that Young had suffered from a stroke three weeks earlier. With Young's retirement, Rock Or Bust will be the first AC/DC album to not feature Malcolm Young. This makes his brother, Angus, the sole original member. The band have announced that they will tour for the album in 2015, with the Young brothers' nephew Stevie replacing Malcolm. Stevie is no stranger to AC/DC, as he filled in for his Uncle Malcolm in the late 1980's while Malcolm was in rehab. It has also been confirmed that Turner Sports will preview one of the tracks from the new album, "Play Ball," for the 2014 Major League Baseball Postseason. 

I'm happy to hear that we will have a new AC/DC album soon. This will be the band's first album in six years, their last one being 2008's Black Ice. It's a bummer that Malcolm had to retire but I'm sure he's happy that the band aren't stopping because of him. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rock Recap: Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones

It seems that there is a lack of news this month or it's just that I haven't found anything worth writing about in greater detail. So I'm going to give an overview of a few things that have happened this month, which I may or may not have mentioned before here or on the Facebook page.

Pink Floyd
It was announced back in July that there will soon be a new Pink Floyd studio album. The album, The Endless River, will be the band's first studio album since 1994's The Division Bell. While this is all exciting, it should be noted that the material on the album was recorded around the time that the band were recording The Division Bell. This wasn't meant to be a Pink Floyd album but rather a separate project, with the sessions dubbed as The Big Spliff. These sessions will be released but with newly recorded music from David Gilmour and Nick Mason. The album will also feature some of the late Richard Wright's final work. The Endless River will be released November 10. As with most releases day, there are many different versions of the album to choose from Click here to pre-order the standard single disc edition.

Tracking list

1. Things Left Unsaid
2. It's What We Do
3. Ebb and Flow
4. Sum
5. Skins
6. Unsung
7. Anisina
8. The Lost Art of Conversation
9. On Noodle Street
10. Night Light
11. Allons-y (1)
12. Autumn '68
13. Allons-y (2)
14. Talkin' Hawkin
15. Calling
16. Eyes to Pearls
17. Surfacing
18. Louder Than Words

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones will be releasing two filmed concerts in November. While I originally posted on Facebook that there would one concert, it turns out there'll be another. The two concerts in question are Hampton Coliseum and L.A. Friday (now L.A. Forum for the DVD), which were the second and third entries of the Stones Archive/Bootleg Collection- all of which were released on the band's own site and Google Play. Hampton Coliseum will be released on November 4 while L.A. Forum will be released on November 18. The concerts will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray, along with the optional CD and vinyl bundles of the shows.

I reviewed both concerts when they were up on Google Play in 2012. They still are for just  $4.99, which I'm sure is much cheaper than the price you'll pay for the DVDs. I'll probably get both concerts on DVD only.

Click here to read the reviews on the shows.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Glenn Cornick dead at 67

Glenn Cornick
April 23, 1947-August 29, 2014

Original Jethro Tull bassist Glenn Cornick passed away on Thursday at his home in Hilo, Hawaii from congestive heart failure. Cornick was 67 years old. Cornick was one of the founding members of Jethro Tull, along with singer/flutist Ian Anderson, guitarist Mick Abrahams and drummer Clive Bunker. Cornick played on the band's first three albums, This Was, Stand Up and Benefit before leaving in 1970. After leaving Tull, Cornick formed his own group Wild Turkey.  In the mid 1970s, he and former Fleetwood Mac guitarist formed the supergroup Paris. Before his death, Cornick was receiving hospice care according to his son Drew. Cornick is survived by his wife Briggette, his sons Drew and Alex, and his daughter Molly. 

I'm saddened to hear of Glenn's passing. Those first three Tull albums are great classic rock albums, especially Stand Up. I'm also a fan of the first Paris album. 

Rest in peace, Glenn. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Accept- Blind Rage review

 Accept - Blind Rage
Blind Rage
Rating: ****

Five years after their rebirth, German metal band Accept are back with another studio album. The new album, Blind Rage, is the band’s fourteenth studio album. It’s also the band’s third album since reforming with new singer Mark Tornillo, following 2010’s Blood of the Nations and 2012’s Stalingrad. Like the first two Tornillo albums, Blind Rage is another gloriously heavy album for Accept fans to sink their teeth into.

            The album fittingly opens with the vicious “Stampede.” The song starts off with a slow introduction before the band transitions to their hard and heavy sound. With the guitar work of Wolf Hoffman and Herman Frank and the drumming of Stefan Schwartzman, the song sounds like a stampede itself. This is followed by the chugging sounds “Dying Breed.” Lyrically, the song is clever as it name drops bands that have come before and after them by song titles. “Here’s to the rocking warriors/Here’s to our heroes and friends” sings Tornillo. “And those who have gone before us/We’re loyal straight to the end.”

            One of the most interesting things about Blind Rage is that the band goes back to the sound they had on their earlier albums. Sure, the entire album sounds like an old school Accept album but there are a few tracks in particular that do truly have a feel for the early albums. “Dark Side of My Heart” sounds like it would’ve fit on Balls to the Wall, with Tornillo’s bellowing vocal. However, the chorus has the catchy hooks that the songs on Metal Heart had. “The Curse” is another example, which features the lyrics: “It’s all about losers and winners/Not about who’s right and who’s wrong.”

            Accept show their love for history in the sludge sounds of “Fall of the Empire” and the fast-paced “Trail of Tears.” The band also delivers in anthems such as “Wanna Be Free” and “From the Ashes We Rise.” The former has some solid bass work from Peter Baltes while the latter has a strong chorus. “We’ve been knocked down; we’ll get up/From the ashes we rise” sings Tornillo and the band. “We’ve been kicked around; sure enough/We will survive.”

            Blind Rage is another great album from Accept. Personally, I think I might have enjoyed this one a little more than Stalingrad. The band is still in fine form and I wouldn’t mind seeing another album from these guys in the near future.