Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bill & Ted Go To Hell

The Bill & Ted films are not necessarily the greatest movies ever made, but they are good fun and I've enjoyed them both. Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (Bill & Ted Go To Hell was the working title of the film for a while) is my favourite of the 2 and has a killer soundtrack to boot.

The album is chocked full of big name artists doing a number of original songs and some previously released ones and all of them are great. These songs don't feel like toss away tunes and some are the best I've heard from the artists.

As I mentioned in the previous post that Slaughter kicks off this album with there solid rock effort "Shout It Out" which takes the raw guitar sound of their debut and the fancy sound effects of their sophomore release and well ... did it right. The song is huge and fun and rockin'. A great way to start this album.

Winger, Kiss and King's X bring their brand of rock n roll here with some heartfelt anthems. Winger's "Battle Stations" is a catchy groove laden hard rock number that gets right in your face. King's X offers up "Juniors Gone Wild" which is dark and aggressive, heavy and passionate. One of their best songs.

Kiss does a cover/remake of Argent's "God Gave Rock N Roll To You" called "God Gave Rock N Roll To You II". With the help of Steve Vai doing some lead work, they packaged together the winning song of the Battle of the Bands "performed" by Wyld Stallyns (Bill & Ted). The song is your standard ballad-like rock anthem melodic and catchy and very much appropriate for this film.

Ritchie Kotzen brings to the CD his guitar driven virtuoso-ish "Dream Of A New Day" and little known band Love On Ice's "Showdown" is blues infused rock ballad. Quite catchy. Neverland tossed them "For The Love" for the movie, but gave the listeners "Drinking Again" on the soundtrack. "For The Love" for the record is a jam-like rock number with some fine guitar work, but fairly unmemorable where as "Drinking Again" is just shy of being my favourite song on this collection. It is a ballad with some cool guitar work and nice solo's and a passionate performance by vocalist Dean Ortega. A great song.

Primus plays a role of competitive band in the movie performing "Tommy The Cat" and losing to the Wyld Stallyns' "God Gave Rock N Roll To You II". I think they should have won. "Tommy The Cat" is a killer bass driven tune with a narrative story-like vocals by guest Tom Waits in a brilliant performance. It's a funky guitar squealer and uber catchy. Faith No More do not hold back with "Perfect Crime" one of their best songs to date. Mike Patton is in fine form and the tune is darkly aggressive and super melodic. A very passionate performance.

My favourite song here is Megadeth's "Go To Hell" which I can with all honesty say is their best song ... ever. It is a heavy thrash song with dark riffs and killer solos and Mustaine spews forth vehemently about the doom of humans. It's utter bleakness is enhanced by the brutal heaviness of the song. Absolutely brilliant.

I'm not very familiar with the "...Excellent Adventure" soundtrack, but understand that it is more lesser known works and artists and more intimate with the film. However, despite the big names here, I sense no feeling of ego or commercialism. Just a brilliantly selected collection of great rock and metal songs.

Coming up I'll be delving back into the extreme end of metal so stay tuned!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Slaughter'ing' Of The Wild Life.

In an earlier post on Slaughter's "Stick It To Ya" (add link) I mentioned that this band was the first group that I discovered without outside influence and will always be dear to me. At the time I was quite taken by the band because their debut was very good, however upon my first exposure of Slaughter's sophomore effort "The Wild Life" I think I died a little inside.

The album is not bad and I enjoy several of the songs, but there is a commercialism in the sound and an over-produced feel. The album is chocked full of sound effects and sound clips and such that draw away from the solid rock foundations. There are some great tunes here that could have been better if they were simply left alone.

"Reach For The Sky" kicks off the album with a darker, bleaker mood while also setting the stage for the pounding hard rock rhythm of the rest of the album. "Do You Know" ends the album on the same note with an eerie bleak feel and a chaotic outro. "Times They Change" though dark is a not as bleak as the previous songs and features a guitar riff reminiscent of Zeppelin's "Battle Of Evermore". It's one of the better songs and not a bad move forward for the band.

The title track feels like a rocker with a darker rawer sound, where as the big party numbers feel forced and cheesy. "Out For Love" and "Dance For Me Baby" are both catchy, but sound over-produced and the guitars lack punch. As with "Move To The Music" which is a little cheesy, but loads of cowbell! These songs have thunderous rhythm sections and seem a little too over the top. "Shake This Place" which is probably my favourite song on the album, is more straight forward hard rock and more of what I'd expect from Slaughter. It's super catchy and a great party tune, but ~needs more Cowbell!~.

The ballads are decent and varied. "Real Love" is the first song I heard off this album played live on Letterman or Leno or one of them there late-night talk shows which threw me because I've never seen any other hard rock bands on those shows. It's a catchy song, but mechanical sounding. "Hold On" is more straight forward, but nothing innovative.

"Days Gone By" has a 60's vibe and quite different then what they've been doing (the acoustic instrumental version as a bonus track is nice). "Streets Of Broken Hearts" is my favourite of the ballads and is sappily catchy in lyrics and music.

The other bonus track "Old Man" is old school blues with an Aerosmith feel and is one of the cooler tracks here.

I like this album as I do Kiss's "Crazy Nights". They are not great, but are hooky and catchy enough to keep me coming back. I just don't like the commercial sound and the weak rock edge of "The Wild Life". As I said in my other Slaughter post, I just couldn't stick with Slaughter after this album. I tried with their 2 follow ups, but what it comes down to is simply, I don't care. I really like their debut, but they moved in a direction that I didn't find appealing.

However, Slaughter has the opening track on "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" soundtrack and is a brilliant song whose style is what "The Wild Life" album should have been. I'll delve deeper next week when we join Bill & Ted as they "Go To Hell".

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Cinderella Story ...

Cinderella is a band who I can't quite remember why I bought an album of. I only own "Long Cold Winter" which I'll be reviewing now, but I can't for the life of me remember why I got it in the first place. Doesn't really matter I suppose, I've had this album for years (at least 15ish) and think it's absolutely fantastic. I've also been reluctant to purchase any of their other work. I like this album so much that I don't want to taint that perception in case their other work is only sub par. And so I contently enjoy "Long Cold Winter" ignorant of the bands career.

What this album is, is simply great hard rock music with a bluesy edge and loads of hooks. There is not a bad song here and is a perfect blend of blues, rock and aggressive glam metal. Yet this album doesn't seem conflicted. It's packaged together harmoniously and each song carries me through in anticipation of the next outstanding track.

The bluesy steel guitar intro and Tom Keifer's gritty screech eases us into the raw and heavy bulk of the opening song "Bad Seamstress Blues". It showcases the blues influences that would become synonymous with the band as well as the melodic hard rock drive that got them started. "Take Me Back" which closes the album is another raw blues heavy tune, though not as aggressive. This song is more groove-laden and upliftingly catchy. A mix of "Bad Seamstress Blues" and "The Last Mile".

"The Last Mile" along with "Gypsy Road" and "Coming Home" are all foot stomping rock songs that are uber catchy and melodic and fun. They feature great chorus's and some gospally stylings with keyboards and back up singers. Just great fun songs.

Their glam metal debut is not totally absent. "Second Wind", "Fire And Ice" and "If You Don't Like It" are all raw, heavy hard rock anthems with darker undertones. "Second Wind" features an atmospheric dark outro, "Fire And Ice" and "If You Don't Like IT" are bitingly aggressive and very raw.

The ballads are both good and distinctly unique. "Don't Know What You Got" is straight up power ballad, but with balls. It's passionate, catchy and heartfelt with an Aerosmith feel. Great solo and the bands biggest hit. However, the title track is nothing short of moving. "Long Cold Winter" is a good bluesy ballad of the traditional blues sort. Great solo riffin' and sombre keys. Keifer's vocals are moving and emotive and shine here. It's a shame this song never got the attention it deserved.

Although "Coming Home" is super catchy and gospally uplifting, my favourite song here is the spitfire "If You Don't Like It". The song is a galloping rocker and aggressively inspiring. This was a song I clung to the more I felt people didn't get me. It struck a cord, because I've prided myself on being and individual with a unique personality and sometimes that meant I didn't fit in well, but ~If you don't like it, I don't care!~ It's also a killer tune.

This is Cinderella's best album (mind you it's the only one I've heard) but I feel strongly about the solidness of this effort. So if anybody wants to suggest some of the their other albums to me which may be better, try and put it in terms compared to "Long Cold Winter" because this is the standard I'll be judging their other albums on.

I really like this album.

Up next I'll be discussing Slaughter's (the hair band) sophomore album "The Wild Life" followed by the "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" soundtrack which will transition me into some heavier fare for September.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Could You Understand, The Beauty Of The Beast

I previously mentioned that Lordi were the Eurovision champs from a few years ago, but what I meant was last year 2006. Hmmm, sorry. All the same, the point here is Lordi provided Finland's first Eurovision win in 40 years of participation. On another note, Lordi not only went into the contest with a far more heavier sound than the usual fair, but also dressed as Monsters. This caused much controversy as many people called them satanists, but that seems absurd since Mr. Lordi clearly stated on their first album that the ~Devil is a Loser and the Devil is his bitch~ so there nay-sayers.

Despite this controversy Lordi went on to out-perform and win The Eurovision song Contest in 2006 with the strong Kiss-influenced rock number "Hard Rock Hallelujah" and set a new Guinness world record for largest crowd sing a long when approx. 80,000 fans sang a long at their Helsinki victory concert.

"The Arockalypse" is Lordi's third full length album and the only one I own (at present, though I am trying to pick up their earlier work now). Now if it wasn't for Anonymous Jones' inquiry of me if I had heard of the band, then I wouldn't be writing about them today. She peaked my curiosity and I sought out their videos on YouTube and was both impressed and giggly of their performances. The one thing for sure was, their songs stuck in my head. I waffled about their albums for months before breaking down and buying one. The delay, however, allowed me to purchase the very reasonably priced special edition version of "The Arockalypse" with bonus songs and DVD.

First off, the packaging is quite nice and worth the money and the fact the album is chocked full of hooky hard rock anthems is nice as well. The album begins with a mock radio show (featuring special guest Dee Snider) that gets interrupted by an special news report on Monster attacks occurring all over the globe. Destruction ensues and before long we get into the album. The track is fun and fitting to the album, but at over 3 minutes it is skipable for further listenings. Thank goodness it is its own track.

With machine gun drums and deathy vocal effects we get hit by the "Bringing Back The Balls To Rock" onslaught that kick starts the album. The song is rockin' and references several lines from well known rock songs. From here we are treated to thick and heavy hard rock anthems and riffs. The chorus's are catchy with keyboard melodies and sing along lyrics. "The Deadite Girls Gone Wild" and "The Kids Who Want To Play With The Dead" take their rock hooks and toss us into the ballad-like "It Snows In Hell" featuring Bruce Kulick from Kiss. The songs piano melodies are sweet and the song is one of the catchiest tracks here.

The rhythmic "Who's Your Daddy?" takes us into the contest winning "Hard Rock Hallelujah". The song is a straight up anthem with a chorus that's as catchy as one might expect being brought by thine Rock N Roll angels.

"They Only Come Out At Night" features Accept's Udo Dirkschneider and continues the wailing hard rock stylings and "Chainsaw Buffet" highlights the talents of Jay Jay French with uber melody and funny lyrics and one of the more memorable songs.

"Good To Be Bad" is a keyboard heavy rock song and "Night Of The Loving Dead" has a nice opening riff and strategic keys that takes us to the album closer. "Supermonsters (The Anthem Of The Phantoms)" crushes us with ballsy, thick guitars and a little darker sound, but no less catchy.

The bonus tracks continue with Lordi's brand of melodic hard rock on "Mr. Killjoy" and "Evilove". Fairly standard fair, though. They also do an updated version of "Would You Love A Monsterman" originally on their 2002 album "Get Heavy". This song is ridiculously catchy with the chorus staying with you for days. It's an upbeat rock driven tune.

Lordi may not be changing the face of rock as most of their songs are fairly standard, albeit well done and with much conviction. What they are doing is literally bringing stadium rock alive again. Like what Manowar does for heavy metal, Lordi is doing for anthemic melodic hard rock. The music is well done and performed and super catchy and Mr. Lordi's voice may not be outstanding, but is well suited and diverse enough to avoid monotony.

What I truly appreciate from Lordi is their efforts at preserving the stadium style live performances with huge sound, rocking sing along songs and a theatrical show with their thematic monster look and lots of pyro. Something I ,at least, haven't seen since early Kiss shows and to a lesser extent, but commendable all the same, Trans-Siberian Orchestra. These are the kind of shows I want to pay money to see.

Justin can bring all the sexy back he wants, but Lordi is bringing back the balls to Rock!