Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Blackberry Smoke Are Holding All The Roses


I saw Blackberry Smoke open for Jackyl somewhere around 2003.  They did a cover of Molly Hatchet's "Flirtin' With Disaster"  and the following day so did my band.  There are elements of Southern Rock I really dig and some not as much.  But basically I love thick heavy Les Paul's played through JCM 800's with lyrics filled with wisdom so simple that it never ceases to be true. 
Blackberry Smoke has come a long way in developing their style and sound since then.  The band I saw over a decade ago was a loud beer guzzlers soundtrack to southern living.  Now they are all that with a little more nuance.  Their latest offering Holding All The Roses isn't a balls out rocker but it is filled with plenty of balls and plenty of rock.  The type that makes southern rock addictive even to those of us in the North Star state.
Brendan O'Brien produced and if you pay any attention to rock music that name doesn't need much explanation.  A-Y, he's worked with everyone from AC/DC to Neil Young and his production on this record doesn't disappoint.
The record opens with the foot tapping "Let Me Help You (Find The Door)" followed by the title track which didn't seem right to listen to without a beer.  "Rock N Roll Again" is sure to be a staple in their set list. "Wish In One Hand" is so southern it burned my neck.  It's so southern Neil Young just wrote a song about it.  It's so southern I voted for Huey Long after listening to it.  So yeah. Its pretty good.
While there are definite highlights I wouldn't say there's a bad song on the record.  Like all good southern rockers Blackberry Smoke has mastered the art of using cliché's without sounding cliché'.  There's a song called "Payback's A Bitch" for fucks sake.  And it kicks ass.  "Lay It All On Me" is probably the funnest song on the record for anyone who's a sucker for a catchy acoustic riff.  Not the most original composition but when it's this good who cares.   
So here's the thing.  Blackberry Smoke recently played my town.  In the middle of winter.  I have summered in Minnesota (where I live), Arizona, Texas, California, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia.  And I don't mind saying.  As much as the Minnesota winter sucks it is hard to beat our summers.  In other words.  Bring your country asses back in July and play in my alley.  There is little doubt this record won't be the soundtrack of some weekend that finds me in my backyard smoking the tasty parts of a hog as I crack another beer and reach for my wife's ass.
Buy this record and see this band.  Don't forget to use the Amazon link and help keep Decibel Geek rollin'.    

Blackberry Smoke Links

Official Website


Appetite For The Rocket Queens: A Concert Review

Where were you when you first heard "Welcome To The Jungle"? Do you remember? I do. Guns n' RosesAppetite For Destruction album had a severe impact on the formative days of my youth and was literally a soundtrack to our after school hours. My childhood friend and I had a hold of the record long before most anyone else had even heard of Guns n' Roses, before it became a huge  
smash, before "Sweet Child O' Mine" became played at every high school dance for years to come. I remember listening to Appetite For Destruction in my friend's bedroom when we were 13/14 and discussing how we couldn't play it in front of our parents because of the "f-bombs" (something that kids don't seem to worry about nearly as much in today's world) and how this was going to be the band that we would follow through every step of their career. Then the album gained attention and soon everyone had it. The day the Use Your Illusion I & II albums were released my friends and I skipped school and made the trek from our little town into the big city of Toronto to buy them right away. I find those albums, especially Appetite For Destruction hold up just as strong today as they did when they first came out and no one knew about our little secret.

When my favorite club, The Rockpile in Toronto, announced that on Friday March 27th, 2015 America's #1 All-female G 'n' R tribute band, The Rocket Queens would be making the trek up from NYC it only made sense that I be in attendance. If you've not experienced The Rockpile, you should make a point to do so. The club has showcased many big name acts here in Toronto and there's something going on every weekend there. Many friends across the world have said that they "want to move where The Rockpile is" or "I wish we had The Rockpile here" and they've never even been to the club! From the extremely personable and "possibly nicest guy ever" owner, to the hard working promoter who brings in the acts, to "one of the best sound men in the business", right down to the lovely bartenders and friendly (unless you're acting up) security folk it's always a pleasure attending an event at The Rockpile. It sure helps in making my 2.5 hr public transit adventures to get there seem much more handle-able!

After drinks and chats with The Rockpile owner and friends while the opening two bands warmed up the stage (btw is the friggin' heat even on here tonight?) it was time for the ladies to take the stage. Not being ones to watch a show from the back of the room or seated positions we swarmed the stage. Announcing that they had driven a long way from NYC to be here and that they were going to play an extra long set tonight, things were off and running with "My Michelle". Hell, this might even be better than actual Guns n' Roses, given the attitudes and state of things there! The girls seemed to be having some sound checking issues even though things sounded great out here and guitarist Lily Maase asked us to bear with them momentarily. They were very quickly under way again with "Double Talkin' Jive" directly followed by "Right Next Door To Hell". It appeared that they were not an all-female band, as promoted, with a long-haired and thunderous drummer behind the kit, but no matter, all had their chops up and we were loving hearing these familiar tunes live. "Mr Brownstone" was a definite highlight, which I was able to
capture on video and its follow up of "Sweet Child O' Mine". Unfortunately, the ladies still seemed to be having some sound issues throughout these first songs. A little feedback from singer Magdalena Baldych's mike was minimal and she quickly backed away from the monitors but the real issue was apparently coming from the bass cab which they had borrowed, theirs not crossing the border. Bass player Yuka Tadano could not hear anything in her monitors, so had no idea how it sounded I guess, well, out here it's friggin' awesome no worries! With the regular Rockpile soundman absent tonight (how dare he have a night off?...lol) another bass cab was brought on stage and quickly switched out. All this took no longer than about 3 minutes so there really was no stoppage in what was already an excellent performance. They continued to kick ass with "You Could Be Mine" from Use Your Illusion II and also the movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day but oddly not featured on the soundtrack, trailed by "Rocket Queen" including a blistering guitar solo. The rumor began to circulate that the band's actual drummer had in fact not been admitted into the country, something that we've seen in the
past here in Toronto. Singing along at the top of my lungs (apologies to anyone in actual earshot of my tone deafness) with my friends at these classic G 'n' R tunes delivered flawlessly by The Rocket Queens, I forgot to take notes and missed at least one song in the set. I'm sure I sang along with every word during it however! My all-time favorite (don't even know why really) G 'n' R song "Out 'ta Get Me" slipped it's way into the set keeping me rocking away before the apparently difficult to play and somewhat deeper cut of "Perfect Crime". The awesome Izzy Stradlin written (most of his G 'n' R written compositions are awesome) "Dust n' Bones" took us through to "You're Crazy" which for sure had everyone in the audience singing along! We were then treated to "Civil War" and I have to say that these ladies know how to rock serving up this awesomely executed cut. Where's the top hat though Slash/Lily? "Welcome to the Jungle" came next and always makes me think I should watch Clint Eastwood's The Dead Pool with his "Dirty" Harry Callahan character again (for those that don't get it, the song is featured in part during a scene in the film in which Jim Carrey played the singer). Along with more singing from the
crowd (did we ever actually stop? A definite sign that everyone was loving this) the G 'n' R covered Bob Dylan song "Knocking On Heaven's Door" (which appeared on the Days of Thunder soundtrack) also featured some fantastic, but not overdone guitar noodling supplied by Lily Maase. They took a moment's musical break to introduce each member of the band, Alicyn Yaffee and Lily Maase both guitar, Yuka Tadano bass, Magdalena Baldych playing the role of Axl including his sway dance, but not the attitude and "since our regular drummer couldn't make it tonight Don Berger flew in all the way from Newark to help us out tonight". Well, that explains a little, but no mention of why the regular couldn't make it. "Knocking On Heaven's Door" continued with a little of the "crowd-chanting-repeat-after-me" game, but thankfully once again not overdone, just a little fun and never losing our attention. "Nightrain" took us through to "Paradise City" which marked the end of the event but of course it wasn't the end. The ladies had hardly left the stage when they were seemingly instantly back for "Patience" (a song that I personally could have done without). What an overall smokin' set list encompassing the best of
Guns n' Roses, there's always more that would have been great to hear but an excellent representation. I have to personally send my thanks to The Rocket Queens for ignoring things like "Don't Cry" and "November Rain", although I may be alone in this. The Rocket Queens were out in the crowd to enjoy some celebratory beverages and mingle with Toronto's rock fans after the set and a few moments chat with guitarist and founder Lily Maase revealed a very humble and personable performer who obviously loves being on stage.

Always a flurry of motion, these ladies don't stand still on stage!! Someone once said to me that "chicks just don't rock as hard as guys". Well, they've obviously never seen The Rocket Queens! Catch these ladies if you can for a great night of classic Guns n' Roses, I know I'll definitely be there when they return to open for Adler August 21, 2015.

"My Michelle"
"Double Talkin' Jive"
"Right Next Door To Hell"
"Mr. Brownstone"
"Sweet Child O' Mine"
"You Could Be Mine"
"Rocket Queen"
"??" (This is where I lost track)
"Out Ta Get Me"
"Perfect Crime"
"Dust n' Bones"
"You're Crazy"
"Civil War"
"Welcome To The Jungle"
"Knocking On Heaven's Door"
"Paradise City"

In some post-show internet searching I discovered that about a year ago Lily Maase was in a (from Facebook page) "life-altering car accident, after which I was robbed by an EMT, scammed by my phone company, abandoned by a large number of colleagues and friends, and shamed and patronized by a number of doctors and insurance staff for being female, single, and self-employed, all while making a living as a musician. It's been a bit of an ordeal, and I am now living with the repercussions of a potentially career-altering injury. I also nearly lost my teaching business and, as a result, the roof over my head. Eleven months later, I'm just now starting to get my quality of life back to a somewhat reasonable level. And, nobody knows what the injury is or how to fix it. So, that's something I'm going to have to contend with for a long time."  Lily has begun to tell her story of the ordeal here in this article which will continue over the next couple of months or so and you can read the first installment here: Guitarist V. Geico Round One. Lily Maase has also been featured in Guitar World, which I can't seem to actually find on the Guitar World site and is the founder of The Rocket Queens.

The Rocket Queens Website / Rocket Queens Facebook

The Meister


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Monday, March 30, 2015

Brighton's FURYON Escape Sophomore Slump With 'Lost Salvation'


Seldom does a modern rock album get loaded into my media player that I don't want to delete moments after playback, but for the moment, Furyon's second full length effort 'Lost Salvation' has softened my calloused heart and ears instantly for a number of reasons. First; the absence of "tough guy/douchebag" lyrics. Second; the guitar tracks are nearly void of pinch harmonics, which have certainly become the "2 handed tapping" of the 21st century. And lastly; no ridiculous facial hair. Suffice it to say, 'Lost Salvation' has been a listening pleasure.

From what I can gather, Furyon has been a workhorse of a band for roughly the last decade with touring and releasing a handful of EP's. They hooked up with producer Rick Beato through Kip Winger around 2009 after supporting Winger on tour that year. The union produced Furyon's first full length album 'Gravitas' in 2012, which was a solid debut and well received by music fans.

On 'Lost Salvation' the band charges onward and upward displaying obvious growth in their songcraft. It seems the band has slightly dialed back the some of the thrashy raw energy showcased on 'Gravitas' and exchanged it for a little more focused songwriting and the end result is an album full of dark guitar melodies, soaring choruses, and lyrics which are deep yet I find myself singing them in my head after each play. The Furyon bio states that the members were "raised on a diet of heavy metal, prog, and classic rock" and those styles are  laced perfectly throughout this album from the Tool-esque guitars on "Scapegoat" to the Bowie styled vocals on "What You Need". Great band. Great album. Period.

Furyon band members are as follows:
Matt Mitchell - vocals
Alex "Nickel" Bowen - bass
Lee Farmery - drums
Tiago Rosado - guitar
Luca Faraone - guitar

Furyon Website  Furyon On Facebook  Furyon On Twitter

Derik On Facebook  Derik On Twitter

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

2001 Year in Review Part 1 - Ep182

We go back in time for the next two weeks to a year that changed the world....but were the tunes good?

This week Aaron and Chris and present part 1 of their 2001 Year in Review. It doesn't seem like it's been almost a decade and a half from 2001 but it has. Many of you are probably thinking "Did anything good come out in 2001?" Well, your hosts this week dug deep and think you'll nod your head in approval at a number of the gems they unearthed from a year that saw the Billboard charts topped by stuff that, well let's just say was "ungood." In part 1 you'll hear all the info from January to June of 2001 including news on the launch of Wikipedia, Don Felder being fired by The Eagles, Eric Singer being rehired by KISS and putting on the catman makeup, the death of Joey Ramone, the release of Motley Crue's 'The Dirt' and much, much more. You'll also get classic commercials from the year as well as lots of tracks from artists such as Buckcherry, Aerosmith, Betty Blowtorch, Econoline Crush, Hair of the Dog, Clutch, Weezer, Warrant, and many more.

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Betty Blowtorch
Alien Ant Farm
Hair of the Dog
Econoline Crush
Treble Charger
The Donnas
Primal Fear
LA Guns
Drowning Pool
The Cult

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

High Voltage In Sweden - 220 Volt live in Borlänge

220 Volt Live in Borlänge, Sweden. Photo by Mikael Svensson
It´s been 27 years! 27 years since I last attended a 220 Volt concert, then as part of a Swedish ”Monsters of Rock” package featuring the cream of Swedish hard rock and featuring the main contenders for the crown that Europe wore. The package included Treat, Electric Boys and of course 220 Volt, the band from the Northern county of Jämtland and its "capital" Östersund. I was 15 years old and this touring package came to my tiny hometown of Hofors in the summer of 1988. I was completely blown away by both Treat and 220 Volt that hot summer night and left with memories that will never fade, the biggest impression being made by 220 Volt. I was hooked! The sheer energy when they hit the stage to ”Firefall” blended with that unique feeling for writing a big hook! Guitarists Peter Olander and Mats Karlsson traded solos like I had never heard before and on top of that – the great and very personal voice of Joakim Lundholm.

Mats Karlsson (lead guitar)
Anders Engberg (lead vocals)
Photo by Mikael Svensson
Back to 2015, March 27th to be exact. Eagerly I enter my car to drive the 70 kilometers from my home to Borlänge, a mid-sized Swedish town of about 50,000 inhabitants situated in the middle of Sweden. It is here that 220 Volt has decided to start their support of their brilliant new album Walking in Starlight (reviewed here: Electric Messengers Want Us To Walk In Starlight). It´s a different band I will be seeing tonight. Joakim Lundholm is long gone and the vocals are now handled by Anders Engberg (Sorcerer, ex-Lion´s Share) who I have previously seen when Lion´s Share opened up for Saxon on their Unleash The Beast tour in 1997. A great frontman indeed to pick up where Lundholm left off to join Kraftztoff. God knows who will be handling the bass duties tonight, filling in for Mike Larsson who is no longer with the band. My guesses are either of the session musicians on Walking in StarlightJohan Niemann (Evergrey) or Lars Ericson. I guess Johan would be busy with Evergrey so Lars Ericson then? All my guesses will turn out to be wrong but more on that later. Olander has also been replaced by the returning Thomas Drevin (guitarist on the first two albums). My expectations are high and as they should be when you go and see a band of this quality.

I arrived a little after 10pm. It was announced that the first band would go on stage at 10pm, but that was not the case. It takes a long while before the first band, Thalamus, enter the stage so I spend some time at the merch stand when I see 220 Volt guitarist Mats Karlsson sorting out the T-shirts together with his wife. I stroll over to the merch area to talk to him. He promises a set of 60% old material and 40% new. They have been told three different times for their setlist so he does not know for how long they can play. He promises to try and play 10 songs at least. I only speak briefly to him and he signs my CD´s but I leave quite quickly not to disturb him in his work. Drummer Peter ”Hermie” Hermansson also appears at the merchandise stand but not long enough for me to catch him to sign my records. By then I had found a very comfortable couch to sit on. Too bad I don´t approach him because he is the only one to not show up after the show either. Thalamus entered the stage – a band I never have heard of before. They play a doomy kind of hard rock (think first two Black Sabbath albums). They sound good and have a lead vocalist/guitarist with an impressive voice although the early part of their set is hampered by technical issues. Some of the songs are too slow and bluesy for my taste, but they play a couple of great sounding tunes as well. Thalamus play a pretty short set (40 minutes?) and then it is time for me to leave the comfortable sofa I found in the back of the pub/dancefloor turned concert hall. Hermansson appears behind the drumkit and Karlsson/Engberg set up the mike stands as I enter the ”dancefloor” and move towards the stage. Now it's not far away!

Thomas Drevin (lead guitar)
Photo by Mikael Svensson
220 Volt hits the stage and starts out with ”System Overload” from the new album. The band seems a little uncomfortable at the start but soon find their way in ”The Harder They Come” from their ”big” Max Norman produced Eye to Eye album (1988). ”It´s back to the 80´s” as Engberg says and they plow through ”I´m On Fire” which is another gem from Eye to Eye. Anders Engberg introduces the band and on bass we have newcomer Fredrik Hallberg who also provides backing vocals. The people in the front seem to be as excited as I am by now and knowing every word of the songs from Eye to Eye I find myself singing along to the entire songs. Engberg seems a bit uneasy at times having to glance at the monitor to find the right lyric, but this is also the first gig in a long time. After the start with songs from Eye to Eye and Walking in Starlight the band announces that they are going to take us on a journey from the start (well nearly) to today and the new record. They start off with ”Woman in White”, the album closer from the very first self-titled album released in 1983, which also has Mats Karlsson singing the part of the verses. The song sounded great and very true to the original, but is sort of an odd pick in my book. It is followed by another old gem called ”Lonely Nights” - opener from the very same debut album. It is then time for my favourite performance of the evening. The intro to ”Walking in Starlight” starts with a distinct noise from Drevin's guitar. The band then jumps into the song and it gives me chills through my spine. This rocks like hell! An epic and melodic song of the highest standard possible. When it's finished Engberg talks a bit about the band existing for a long time – long before he joined and introduces the ”biggest song 220 Volt have written”. It´s time for the ballad of the evening and ”Love Is All You Need” which is of course, the big single off Eye to Eye that gained heavy rotation on MTV in the late 1980´s. On this song, I think the band hesitates a little and they seem a bit uneasy including lead vocalist Engberg. Still he invites the crowd to sing along to the chorus line and we all do what we can. The concert then ends with the band back on top and in an ecstatic way when they close with regular concert opener ”Firefall” The band is virtually on fire and it only leaves me wanting some more. I want ”Beat Of A Heart” and ”Power Games” but there is no time left and the Wolf is waiting in the wings.

Engberg is rockin it out at Liljan, Borlänge
Hallberg is providing some bass grooves and backing vocals.
Photo by Mikael Svensson
I move back to my sofa in the back sorting out my thoughts when Anders Engberg grabs a beer and places himself in front of me. Time for a chat with him and some signatures on the CDs! I tell him about my experience with Lion´s Share and he signs my CD with them saying ”This was not yesterday”. Anders seems like a nice guy and he tells me they are not actually doing a tour because they all have got 9-5 jobs now and can only do this on weekends. They will play Uppsala tomorrow with Wolf again and then play the odd weekend gig before the festival seasons starts. Then they will play the Peace and Love festival here in Sweden and will return to my area in September for a gig in Gävle. I tell him I will be there and congratulate him on a great gig. Anders is not satisfied and says it could have been better. I leave him to his beer and now Wolf is on stage. They belt out their traditional heavy metal and they sound good. I find it a bit hard to digest the rough vocals that are not my cup of tea, but they have some loyal fans in the front singing along to their songs. I decide to buy a T-shirt so I go to the merchandise stand again. After watching Wolf for a while Thomas Drevin appears and I need him to sign my CD. We exchange a few words before I start talking to Mats Karlsson more in depth this time.

Mats tells me of the troubles of getting their old classic albums out to the public again on CD. The band has been trying to buy back the rights but to no avail. Nobody is still with Sony/CBS Records Sweden from back when they were released and 220 Volt was on the label. As Mats puts it – they don´t know what they got and the archives are a bit of a mess. According to Mats they are not willing to license the albums to another record company either. That´s a pity because the younger fans will have a harder time (or not at all) to discover the treasure trove that is the back catalog of 220 Volt. When he asked the company what they are going to do with the recordings they told him they will digitize it. The albums are now finally available on I-tunes and other digital media. When I asked Mats about a possible physical release his response was ”It will not happen!”.

The band with "Hermie" Hermansson behind the drumkit
Photo by Mikael Svensson
Mats also revealed that there are unreleased songs that could be used as bonus tracks on possible future re-releases, but the band has some degree of control over it. Sony cannot issue them without the band's approval. Mats also said he was not sure of the quality of the songs, but that opinion could change from person to person. I think you are right Mats! I´ve bought records where one of the bonus tracks was the best song on the entire album. It´s a matter of taste I guess. If you read my review on the new Dalton disc called Pitstop for Decibel Geek (Dalton - Pitstop Review) you have this being the case. Mats also said he was not 100% happy with the gig (just like Anders Engberg) and told me this was the first gig since they reformed two years ago. They need some time and gigs to become tighter. I told him it sounded good from my point of view. Mats told me they would play a longer set tomorrow in Uppsala when only Wolf and them played. I told him I missed ”Beat Of a Heart” and he told me they would play that and ”Power Games” tomorrow. The people going to Katalin, Uppsala Sweden are in for a treat. Maybe it was also a bit surprising that the Mind Over Muscle album was left untouched. 

Just before we went separate ways Mats told me they are back for good and will continue this time. That was great news to me and I went back to watching Wolf again. I especially want to thank Mats Karlsson for a really nice chat (hard to hear everything with Wolf blasting through the speakers). I would love to do a further in-depth interview on the band sometime in the future.

The concert hall was not even half full during the whole evening and I think Borlänge was unaware of what great bands were playing in their town this night. Wolf is a well respected heavy metal band, 220 Volt has near a legendary status in Sweden and Thalamus turns out to be a decent band as well. Time to wake up Borlänge and realize what you missed out on! I was only briefly familiar with Wolf and had never heard Thalamus before so I will not grade their performances.

I think 220 Volt met my expectation although you could see this was the first gig where the band at certain points hesitated a bit. This will get better with more gigs under their belt. Being a fan of the new album I think the set was well balanced between new and old songs – maybe a couple of old songs got deleted due to short gig time this evening. I´ve already mentioned two of the songs. The biggest let down was the low crowd turnout – this being payday and everything. Maybe too many people being comfortable at home watching TV? I would rate the 220 Volt gig to 8 out of 10 geeks. Curfew is closing in when Wolf announce they have two songs left so I decided to leave with the clock approaching 2 a.m. I left Borlänge with a great feeling, a T-shirt and signatures from everybody performing on the album except ”Hermie” Hermansson and I will be back in September for sure when they play in Gävle.

The Lionsheart. (email: thelionsheart@decibelgeek.com)

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Scorpions dig into the vaults on Return to Forever


Return to Forever is the latest release by German rock icons, The Scorpions. The record is a combination of both new songs and previously unfinished songs from various periods in the bands 50-year career. Not the heaviest of albums, but classic Scorpions all the way. Musically, the performance is strong as always. The chemistry is evident as current line-up has been together for over a decade. It's mind-boggling how well Klaus Meine’s voice has held up so well after a half century of recording and touring. Meine is joined, as always by co-founder and guitarist Rudolf Schenker, guitarist Matthias Jabs, drummer, James Kottak, and Pawel MaciwodaMaciwoda is still the "new guy", having joined the band in 2004.
The record kicks off with a pair of newly written songs, “Going Out With a Bang” and “We Built This House”. The latter being the stronger song of the pair. The sparse acoustic verse building to a driving melodic chorus is signature Scorpions all the way. With the exception of " Hard Rocking All Over the Place", which would have made a great opening track, this is about as heavy as this record gets. The rest of the tracks consist of mostly mid-tempo rockers and a heavy dose of signature Scorpions ballads. Fans looking for a heavy record ala 2004’s Unbreakable or 1993’s Face the Heat, will likely find themselves little let down. By contrast, this record is almost feels like a cross between 1996’s mellow, Pure Instinct, 2010’s Sting in the Tail.
The band has stated that many of these songs are older ideas that existed in various stages of completion, some have been tucked away in the vault for decades. Though the record lacks certain cohesion and is a bit ballad-heavy, the material is anything but filler. It’s great to see some of these songs finally see the light of day.
Songs like “Rock My Car”, “House of Cards”, “Rock And Roll Band”, and “Catch Your Luck and Play” have origins that can traced back to the 80’s.  All these tunes would fit right in on any classic Scorpions album of the time. “House of Cards” ranks up there with many of the best Scorpions ballads. It’s a shame this one didn't make it on an earlier album.  A lost gem for sure. “Catch Your Luck and Play”, originally written around the Savage Amusement era, thematically fits right in with “Passion Rules the Game”.

Highlights among the rest of the album include the "In Trance" sounding “Eye of Storm”, originally written for 2007’s Humanity: Hour 1, The country-tinged “Gypsy Life”, intended for 2001’s Acoustica, and "The Scratch".

The bonus tracks are as good or better than the rest of the album so, it's definitively worth while to pick up one of the versions that include them. Fans are not going to want to miss out on "Dancing in the Moonlight", "Who We Are", and “Delirious”. "The World We Used to Know" is the most interesting of the bonus tracks. Not a bad tune if you can get past the ELO-esque lead guitar. This one is as pop sounding as anything since 1999's experimental Eye to Eye.

There is no shortage of versions of this album. It can be had in Standard, Limited Edition Deluxe, iTunes, and Japanese editions, all with their own bonus material.  The record is also available on vinyl and box set version as well. 
Return to Forever track listings:
1 - Going Out with a Bang
2 - We Built This House
3 - Rock My Car
4 - House of Cards
5 - All for One
6 - Rock 'n' Roll Band
7 - Catch Your Luck and Play
8 - Rollin' Home
9 - Hard Rockin' the Place
10 - Eye of the Storm
11 - The Scratch
12 - Gypsy Life

Limited Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks 

13 - The World We Used to Know
14 - Dancing with the Moonlight
15 - When the Truth Is a Lie
16 - Who We Are 

iTunes Bonus Track

17 Delirious 

Japanese Bonus Tracks

18 One and One Is Three

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Temperance Movement


Sometimes a band comes along that put's life back into music with their honest and real feel. In this case "The Temperance Movement" are that band. The band doesn't necessarily fit into many of today's unlimited number of silly named rock music sub-genres. As a matter, let's just call it like it is and say that these guys are nothing but straight up ROCK N' ROLL. Rock N' Roll in the classic sense of the term with the classic sound to match.

Formed in the U.K. in 2001, the band consists of....

Phil Campbell      - Vocals
Luke Potashnick  - Guitar
Paul Sayer            - Guitar
Nick Fyffe            - Bass
Damon Wilson     - Drums

The Temperance Movement (or TTM as their diehard fan base refer to them as) sound like the awesome noise you would get after throwing some Rolling Stones, the Faces, Black Crowes, maybe even a little Bob Seger and pretty much any 70's southern rock band into a blender full of hot wax, mixing it all up then pouring it out and pressing it into a 12". Pure classic rock feel and sound from a four year old band. The throwback classic rock sound seems to be the latest trend in music (ie. Rival Sons, Graveyard, Motor Sister) but something tells me that theses guys would have this same style regardless of any trend or latest fad in rock.

I was recently trading some tweets with fellow podcaster Dean Delray of the "Let There Be Talk" podcast and he told me to check TTM. Dean has yet to let me down when we are trading stories of new music and new bands we are into so after that tweet session I went on a TTM quest. I downloaded the full Temperance Movement album from Amazon and was blown away! Great song writing. Great classic rock riffs. Rock solid rhythm section. And most of all, what a fucking singer!

It wasn't even a full week after first hearing the band that I discovered they were on tour with Black Berry Smoke and that the tour was just days away from hitting my hometown of Louisville, KY. The show was sold out by the time I heard about it so I reached out and with the help of the good people at TTM's record label, Concord Music Group, I was able to attend the show with my camera in hand. Little did I know, my camera had other plans and decided to take the night off. Shit happens. At least I had my cellphone and was able to get a few shots.

The band was playing the Mercury Ballroom which is a new sister venue to the Louisville Palace. Prince was playing the same night next door at the  Louisville Palace so when we arrived at the venue there were two lines. One for the Mercury and one for the Palace. Both of which stretched around the building for about a full block. Making our way past the first line and through all the fucking people decked out in purple we found our crowd. You know, the long haired, full bearded stoner Black Berry Smoke fans! These two lines of completely different walks of life standing basically side by side were a pretty interesting site to see to say the least.

After making our way into the venue we made a not so quick trip to the bar for a few beers then made our way to the stage to claim our spots for the show. To say the place was packed would be an understatement. The band took to the stage in front of a crowd that were mostly there to see Black Berry Smoke and not really interested to see anyone but. That mentality lasted all of about a minute or so into their first song.

With a front man like this guy Phil Campbell leading the show it was hard to not take notice. The guy came out like a total rock star ready to take on everyone in that venue and make them a fan. I noticed within that first minute or so that everyone in the crowd were no longer wondering "who the hell are these guys " and were completely into it.

The band played for what seemed to be a 50 minute or full hour set, I wasn't keeping time but they pretty much ripped through their whole album. There were no gimmicks, tricks or even silly stage banter in their set, just straight up classic rock n' roll at it's finest. The band themselves sounded spot on with their album...maybe just turned up to 11. Drummer Damon Wilson and bassist Nick Fyffe couldn't have been more in the pocket and guitarists Luke Potashnick and Paul Sayer brought that classic rock guitar sound so well you would have thought you were back in the 70's.

When the band finished their set, it was kind of comical to hear all the naysayer's from the beginning of the show now yelling " who are you guys ?" and cheering for more then quickly making a B-line to TTM's merch booth. Judging from the crowd at their merch booth I think it's safe to say they had a good night and even picked up a few new fans along the way.

If you are interested in taking a little break from all the metal that we Decibel Geek's are all about and want to check out something that might take you back in time, look these guys up and give'em a shot!

Both of TTM's release's...

"The Pride E.P."

and their self titled full length...

are available on Amazon and iTunes. Also available on CD and vinyl.

Check out their single "Only Friend"....



Lady Beast II Cooks Up A Delicious NWOBHM Feast

Remember the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) movement that began in the late 70's/early 80's with bands such as Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Saxon and many
more? Many of the bands that fall into this sub-genre or category are securely placed among my all time favorites, and pretty much any band playing that style is something that I enjoy. Well, I'm pleased to announce that classic formula NWOBHM in all it's headbanging glory is alive and well in Pittsburg! Wait....Pittsburg? That's not in the UK! But yes, that's right, there is a group of young folks (in their twenties at my best guess) from Pittsburg, USA that are serving up huge heaping steaming bowlfuls of blistering metal. The name of this savior of NWOBHM comes in the form of Lady Beast. In fact, if one did not know one might venture to say that they originated during the NWOBHM period.

The beginnings of Lady Beast can be traced back to 2008/9, but it wasn't until 2011/12 that the lineup was solidified with frontwoman Deborah Levine, drummer Adam Ramage, bassist Greg Colaizzi and the twin axe assault of Tommy Kinnett and Chris "Twiz" Tritschler. Somehow the band's (originally) self-released and titled debut album found its way into my extensive musical library and has been spun quite regularly in the past couple of years. The old school throwback to the NWOBHM that oozes throughout Lady Beast nods to some of the greats mentioned above, blending together the best elements of the era. Finding out (through some internet research) that the album actually contains compositions written by four different guitarists was quite surprising and while the album is certainly not perfect, it succeeds on every level!

So, when Lady Beast was the fifth and final band to be announced as appearing at the M-Pre-Party (prelude and party starter to the M3 Festival in Baltimore) on April 30, 2015 I was instantly pumped. 2014 had been my first M3 Festival (including M-Pre Party), instantly creating a new addiction and I was ready to experience it all over again in 2015, but this was just like the sugary frosted icing on the cake. I re-visited said debut record and still continue to do so as a portion of my gym workout playlist. This Lady Beast live set promises to be one of the clear highlights of the three-day rock fest for me.

Does it get any better than that?...Well, actually yes it does! Lady Beast are unleashing their sophomore effort on March 27 with a live show release party at Cativo in Pittsburgh on March 28, 2015. I wonder if I can slip away from work? (searches flights in another internet window as he types this)

In contacting the band frontwoman, Deborah Levine, she was more than kind enough to forward me the album's MP3 tracks for the purpose of this review and all I can say is "Holy crap!". This album, while not overly inventively titled (Lady Beast II), absolutely kicks ass! Holding true to the NWOBHM style and could have easily fit in with the bigger guns of the era. Lady Beast II is even stronger, more cohesive and polished than the debut and it's easy to see how the solidified lineup and maturity in the band along with all members contributing cohesively to the process have worked wonders.

The album opens with "Heavy Metal Destiny" for which the band issued an advance YouTube video via their Facebook page in January, 2015 (included below). The track starts out ominously before a nice little riff begins surging it forward as it gives off an Iron Maiden style of epicness. An awesome opener to Lady Beast II! "We Are The Witches" is the next selection exhibiting a catchy chorus to it. With Levine's vocal style, which is not as high-pitched or shrill as some, she's more Doro-ish in her delivery and that's a lot of what comes through to me on this track. The whole band shines on "Bind The Runes" with its tempo changing chorus, driving riff, meaty basslines and machine-gun drumming. "Caged Fury" lyrically deals with
 inner anger issues I think, a message to those finding themselves in that situation. Another thumping bassline from Colaizzi (who owns Cobra Cabana Records responsible for issuing Lady Beast II on vinyl) can be heard during "Heroes Of Our Time", another track waving the Maiden flag. In a little internet searching it appears that "The Frost Giant's Daughter" was actually released on YouTube in 2013 (link below) and is not a cover of The Sword's 2008 track of the same name. This one blazes along and is over far too quickly for me at just under three minutes. "Forrest Of The Impaled" seems to tell a macabre tale while "Lose To Win" is a straight out classic rocker. While it's more than a difficult chore to choose one track over the rest here for winner of the "Top of the Heap" accolade, if you held a gun to my head I'd have to go with the album's closer of "Banshee". It's grinding and abrasive, smashing through from start to finish in a catchy fist-pumping anthem. Sure hope that one makes the live set on April 30! The sadness that you feel when the record is over can easily be alleviated by doing as I do and hitting play all over again. After listening several times a day since receiving the album ten days before writing this review, I still haven't had enough! The Lady Beast simply roars and for optimum results I recommend playing at an ear-bleedingly loud volume!

All throughout Lady Beast II you can hear the influences or draw comparisons to some of these bands and players, for example at points Levine has a Doro style of delivery and some have even said an impressive resemblance to the late great Ronnie James Dio. There's also a little Halford mixed in there but at times she feels a little restrained. I would love to hear Deb let loose with a primal blood-curdling scream or two (and she does on "Banshee"), I can literally feel that power in her lungs! In any case, I say that Doro should rest comfortably knowing that there is a protegee out there to carry on her "Metal Queen" reign should she retire.

***Unfortunately, I have just discovered that after the album's release show guitarist Tommy Kinnett will be calling an end to his tenure with Lady Beast so he will not be performing at the M-Pre Party. Apparently the decision to leave in order to concentrate on his family life was an amicable one with no "bad blood" on either side. It is already announced that Lady Beast's original lead guitarist, Stephen Lauck, having recently moved back to Pittsburgh from California will be stepping in.***

The Meister

The Meister on Facebook / Meister on Twitter / Email

Lady Beast Bandcamp / Lady Beast on Facebook

Inferno Records Website / Cobra Cabana Records on Facebook

D-Toxin Productions Website (M-Pre Party) / M-Pre Party Facebook

Anticipation of M3 2015 / M3 2014 (Part #1) / M3 2014 (Part #2)
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