Archive for Heavy Metal

Review: Scorpions – Sting in the Tail [2010]

Posted in Scorpions with tags on March 26, 2010 by gearsofrock

Time to give it up for some more German heavy metal this week on Gears of Rock with Sting in the Tail from the legendary Scorpions.  The latest studio effort is a 12 track affair that goes heavy on the sting and light on the filler as it clocks in at about 44 minutes.

I’m not going to lie to you here.  The riffs and progressions push no boundaries.  This is pure 80’s hard rock.  It is predictable, catchy, and yet irresistible.

The best tunes on the album are the ballad and closer “The Best is Yet to Come” and the poppier sounding “Slave Me.”  Even the cheesy opener “Raised on Rock” is a solid track even though I feel like Saxon accomplished the feel better with last year’s “Live to Rock.”

“Turn You On” opens with a “We’re Not Gonna Take It” drum vibe before taking on its own unique 70’s rock feel.  “Lorelei” is the heartbreak tune and “Rock Zone” serves infectious rake guitar riffs.

The title track is a good song once it gets going, however, parts of it remind me way too much of something that the alternative geek rock band, Weezer, would have put on the Green Album (yuck!).

The Scorpions are still alive and stinging on their latest.  You can bet that I’ll be looking forward to the US tour this summer.

The Scorpions are Klaus Meine (Lead Vocals), Matthias Jabs (Lead Guitar), Rudolf Schenker (Rhythm Guitar), Paweł Mąciwoda (Bass), & James Kottak (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Raised on Rock”
  2. “Sting in the Tail”
  3. “Slave Me”
  4. “The Good Die Young (feat. Tarja Turunen)”
  5. “No Limit”
  6. “Rock Zone”
  7. “Lorelei”
  8. “Turn You On”
  9. “Let’s Rock”
  10. “SLY”
  11. “Spirit of Rock”
  12. “The Best Is Yet to Come”

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Track Review: Vince Neil “Tattoos & Tequila” Tattoos & Tequila [2010]

Posted in Motley Crue, Vince Neil with tags on February 26, 2010 by gearsofrock

Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil returns with the ultra sleazy hard rocking single “Tattoos & Tequila,” his best solo release since the early 90’s.

The singles hard-living lyrics are mostly captivating and very catchy, particularly in the chorus with lines such as “come on take your clothes off…baby do a sweet dance…show me all your tattoos and drink my tequila.”

“Tattoos & Tequila” is hefty on the percussion with crashing toms in the beginning and pre-choruses.  The crunchy start-stop guitars steer the song through the verses where Neil begins each line of the verses with “I,” the tracks weakest feature.

Neil’s backing band is certainly more powerful than ever providing a blistering guitar solo, plenty of pinch harmonics, and Tommy Lee modeled drums.  There was clearly a lot of production employed on the single as it features layers upon layers of guitars and effects, from wah to talk box, which ultimately steals part of the care-free attitude and crude nature away from the track.

If this tune is any indication of what to expect from the new album as a whole, this could be Vince Neil’s best solo record to date.

Vince Neil is Vince Neil (Vocals), Jeff Blando (Guitars), Dana Strum (Bass), & Zoltan Chaney.

“Tattoos & Tequila” is available for download for free on Vince Neil’s official site vinceneil.net as of today.

Review: Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls, and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool [2010]

Posted in Rob Zombie with tags on January 28, 2010 by gearsofrock

Heavy metal icon Rob Zombie delivers his fourth solo effort, and first with Roadrunner Records, Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls, and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool. While having its ups and downs, the sequel to his 1998 masterpiece retains much of the ghoulish ambiance and spookshow aura that has catapulted him into a rock and roll legend.

The best all-around tracks are “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” and the opener “Jesus Frankenstein.” “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” features an incendiary groove and beat, along with strong lyrical content, while “Jesus Frankenstein” demonstrates the growth of the band’s compositional skills. Compared to the previous album openers “Superbeast,” “Demon Speeding,” and “American Witch,” “Frankenstein” contains less of a straightforward and hard-charging assault, and opts for more musical depth with exciting and explosive changes.

From a lyrical perspective, “Werewolf, Baby” harnesses this album’s most classic and premium lines such as, “I’m a monster/ Can I come over?/ Some kind of demon/ to get you screaming.”

For the great graveyard programming and orchestration that many fans missed out on Educated Horses, “The Man Who Laughs” will please the Zombie purists. This closing track also features an extended drum solo from Tommy Clufetos who at one point attempts to provide you with a “Moby Dick” experience.

Unless you have been living under a tombstone, you have already been exposed to the two singles, “What?” and “Sick Bubble Gum.” And yes, these are the catchiest tunes of the album despite “What’s?” sometimes irritating “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh…”

There are several tracks that leave the listener with a mixed taste. For example, “Cease to Exist” is half annoying-half bad ass, which is most likely due to the vocals sounding forced and restrained.

John 5 offers good guitar riffs on “Burn,” but unfortunately is accompanied by hokey Jonathan Davis-esque vocal-play. I want to love the Sabbathy guitar riff in “Virgin Witch,” but its familiarity (Clutch? Down?) makes me feel a bit uneasy.

One of the blandest songs on the record is the one with the most interesting title, “Death and Destiny Inside the Dream Factory.” It plays out more as an album filler. However, the lyrical freestyle breaks are absolutely sick and most likely the reason why this song made the cut.

Even though “Mars Needs Women” contains a powerful acoustic guitar intro before morphing into a catchy headbanger, the overly-repetitive hook pulls it to the duller side.

One thing is for sure on Hellbilly Deluxe 2, Zombie has his best backup band to date in terms of song arrangements and group chemistry. Does that make this his best record yet? No. Does this album feel like a followup to the 1998 classic? Yes and no. Does it outshine Educated Horses and represent a return to Rob Zombie’s original form? Absolutely—and that is what makes Hellbilly 2 so important.

Rob Zombie is Rob Zombie (Vocals), John 5 (Guitars), Piggy D (Bass), & Tommy Clufetos (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Jesus Frankenstein”
  2. “Sick Bubblegum”
  3. “What?”
  4. “Mars Needs Women”
  5. “Werewolf, Baby”
  6. “Virgin Witch”
  7. “Death and Destiny Inside a Dream Factory”
  8. “Burn”
  9. “Cease to Exist”
  10. “Werewolf Women of the SS”
  11. “The Man Who Laughs”

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Concert Review: Rob Zombie live at Hammerstein Ballroom December 1, 2009

Concert Review: Metallica Live at Madison Square Garden November 14, 2009

Posted in Metallica, Shows with tags on November 15, 2009 by gearsofrock

11-14-09 JamesFor the second time this year, Metallica played the New York metro area, this time taking the critically acclaimed live metal show to the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Still supporting the Grammy award-winning Death Magnetic album, the band opened their set with the album’s first two tracks and proceeded to tear through the required classics like “Master of Puppets,” “One,” and “Enter Sandman.”

There were several pleasant surprises in the mix such as “Holier Than Thou,” “Helpless,” and “Whiplash.” The only shortcoming of the show, was the lack of “Creeping Death” in the set.

After the show, drummer Lars Ulrich acknowledged that it was pathetic that Metallica has not not played MSG in over a decade, although the band did play the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary show two weeks ago.

The supporting acts for this leg of the World Magnetic Tour are Danish rockers Volbeat and Lamb of God.  However, I much prefer to see Machine Head support Metallica over Lamb of God any day.

11-14-09 James LasersA friend texted me during Lamb of God’s set, “these guys so want to be Pantera.” I never understood the big deal either.

If you have not seen Metallica on this tour yet, you are missing out on a huge and an important rock show experience and should do everything in your power to get there.

Over the last year, the band has been more than making up for the disappointing St. Anger album and tour of 2003-2004 –Meds

Setlist:

  1. “That Was Just Your Life”
  2. “The End Of The Line”
  3. “For Whom The Bell Tolls”
  4. “Holier Than Thou”
  5. “One”
  6. “Broken, Beat And Scarred”
  7. “Cyanide”
  8. “Sad But True”
  9. “Turn The Page”
  10. “All Nightmare Long”
  11. “The Day That Never Comes”
  12. “Master Of Puppets”
  13. “Fight Fire With Fire”
  14. “Nothing Else Matters”
  15. “Enter Sandman”
  16. “Helpless”
  17. “Whiplash”
  18. “Seek & Destroy”

Top-Left: Frontman James Hetfield at the mic with Lars Ulrich on the drums by R.Meds on 11-14-09; Bottom-Left: Hetfield in lasers

Review: W.A.S.P. – Babylon [2009]

Posted in W.A.S.P. with tags on November 9, 2009 by gearsofrock

amazon waspFriends, countrymen, and Tipper F*cking Gore, it is time to once again lend W.A.S.P. your ears in the most undivided of manner. Blackie Lawless and company return to deliver another powerful onslaught of classic heavy metal on Babylon.

As you already know, when an album’s subject matter centers around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an exciting rock exhibition is only imminent.

First off, this record is certainly an improvement from 2007’s politically driven Dominator,  however a blistering cover of Deep Purple’s “Burn” from the Dominator sessions has been resurrected for Babylon. It is not quite as awesome, as their classic interpretation of The Who’s “The Real Me,” but still a great track.

Of the nine tracks, “Into The Fire,” “Godless Run,” and “Crazy” are the best, emitting darkened rays of bestial bliss at every bar. “Babylon’s Burning” and “Live To Die Another Die” are sure to be fan favorites serving up some classic 80’s flare, as well as the fist-pounding “Seas of Fire.”

The 44-minute running time is perfect, as most albums these days are far too long, and that practice does not accommodate the realities of our A.D.D. infested planet of today. Another commendation is that this album contains a strong ending in “Promised Land,” an upbeat Chuck Berry cover.

Babylon represents yet another solid year-ending release, which makes me wonder: where were all of the good hard rock records hiding during the first nine months of 2009? -Meds

3.5 StarsW.A.S.P. is Blackie Lawless (Vocals/Guitars), Doug Blair (Guitars), Mike Duda (Bass/Vocals), & Mike Dupke (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Crazy”
  2. “Live To Die Another Day”
  3. “Babylon’s Burning”
  4. “Burn”
  5. “Into The Fire”
  6. “Thunder Red”
  7. “Seas of Fire”
  8. “Godless Run”
  9. “Promised Land”

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Track Review: Rob Zombie “Sick Bubble Gum” Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls, and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool [2009]

Posted in Rob Zombie with tags on October 17, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon RobzombieHELLBILLY2

Update: Hellbilly Deluxe 2 full album review

The second Rob Zombie track leaked from Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is “Sick Bubble Gum,” a dizzying mutha flucking journey that surpasses “What?” in production, but lacks in comparable riff assaults and diabolical programming. John 5’s diligent lead guitars finish out the tune in a manner similar to “War Zone” from The Punisher soundtrack, which means this song also lacks an adequate instrumental break mid way; a demonstration of poor orchestration. I’m not sure where Zombie is headed on the Hellbilly sequel at this point. It seems that if he offers the coherent lyrics of “Sick Bubble Gum,” an instrumental break where John 5 can shine, and some of that old infectious spookshow programming, he could have another solid album –Meds

2.5 StarsRob Zombie is Rob Zombie (Vocals), John 5 (Guitars), Piggy D (Bass), & Tommy Clufetos (Drums).

Track Review: Rob Zombie “What?” Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls, and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool [2009]

Posted in Rob Zombie with tags on October 2, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon RobzombieHELLBILLY2

Update: Hellbilly Deluxe 2 full album review

Rob Zombie’s first single from Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is titled “What?” As in what is with the vocals hiding behind the obnoxiously fuzzy distortion effect? Perhaps, a simpleminded production effort to compliment the song’s title, or a genius attempt to regain the feel of the original Hellbilly Deluxe record. At the moment, I’m on the fence. There is one element that refreshingly represents a return to the past, and it is easily the best attribute of “What?”—the inclusion of the spook show programming—similar to the sounds prominently displayed on Zombie’s first two solo records. Excitement will embrace the old school fans if this is distributed throughout the rest of the Hellbilly sequel. Zombie’s recent releases presented more of a stripped down vibe courtesy of the new band with John 5. This new album has the potential to represent a pleasant mix of the new and old. Hopefully, Zombie also brings back the caged go-go dancers and kicks it Ozzfest ’99 style  –Meds

2 StarsRob Zombie is Rob Zombie (Vocals), John 5 (Guitars), Piggy D (Bass), & Tommy Clufetos (Drums).

Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls, and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool is due Nov. 17