Posts Tagged ‘Led Zeppelin’
Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Live At The Cutting Room (Self-Released)
Throwback. It’s a word not often enough associated with modern hard rock music for my taste. Most bands struggle to properly represent an amalgam of their influences and pour out anything original, let alone inspired sounding. There is just a lack of great, unrepentant, kick-ass rock `n roll bands these days and that makes me sad. Sometimes a band comes along that not only does the history of the style justice, but also has something new to give us too, we the masses that are hungry to rock. That is why the new EP by THE BLACKFIRES has me so pumped up. It definitely answers the question of “what is the future of rock music” with a resounding hail of riffs and cymbal crashes that scream yes!
Recorded live at The Cutting Room in New York City, it is not quite a live show recording in the traditional sense. All the same, true live albums are hard to pull off these days, but the band definitely sounds lively and tight. From the opening snarl of the guitar licks in “Rocker Child” you hear the blend and balance of ZEPPELIN, SABBATH, GUNS, LIZZY, DEEP PURPLE and more along with a modern, rough hewn charm. Aggressive and slick, the track is a great intro to the band for the indoctrinated and would make a terrific set-list starter too based on how vital is sounds. Singer Cheggi channels his inner Plant, Freddy throughout the song and he’s not afraid to back up that front man bravado with his range and delivery. “Gambit” continues the charge with some killer guitar chops on display and more out of this world singing. The song goes through several tempo shifts and dramatic swells that will recall the best of a bygone era in music. Not only is axe-slinging tight, but bassist Ryan Egan holds is down all the time with his colorful playing and thick tone. “Livewire Babies” is a song that will take you by surprise and could be a potential single-type track, in spite of its impressive running time. There is a definitely a lot of AC/DC influence happening there, but I also hear remnants of early SOUNDGARDEN with Cheggi displaying his confidence in his ability. This song also has the best lead guitar work on the album and great lyrics. The key change in the final coda of the song is pure rock royalty in my book. “Just A Thrill” is the dark horse of the album. In addition to its grit and heaviness as a song, it benefits from a killer beat supplied by the bands’ drummer and secret weapon, Ilan Harel. It is such a raw and passion filled song that you almost get sideswiped by the earthy breakdown and eventual rave up to the finale. “Primal Love” closes out the affair. A sprawling, power-ballad with a lot of soul, I think this is a good track to end things with. Fans will have tear in their eye and their lighters out when this one comes on.
THE BLACKFIRES are definitely gunning for the big time with this release and putting a lot of bands in their scene on notice. For more information check out their website here.
THE BLACKFIRES: Bringing the SOUL back to Rock ‘N Roll.
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
Friday, May 18th, 2012
Kill Devil Hill (SPV)
Late last year I had the opportunity to speak to VINNY APPICE about a new band he was working on called KILL DEVIL HILL. He’s played on so many things; I figured well it’s just another project he’s working on. I’m fairly confident that I’m not the only one to think this as well, a legendary drummer that has played with BLACK SABBATH, DIO, WORLD WAR III, JOHN LENNON, RICK DERRINGER, etc. this is just another project right? Vinny was quick to put me in my place and point out that KILL DEVIL HILL was a band, his band. At that time, I hadn’t heard a single note by the band, but Vinny spoke with a lot of conviction about what I would hear months later. He discussed how the band accidentally came about, and naturally progressed from him and guitarist Mark Zavon jamming. So I was immediately intrigued, wanted to hear what the band was about.
During this conversation I admitted to Vinny that my all-time favorite BLACK SABBATH album is easily the often overlooked Dehumanizer. Why? That’s easy, I’m a drummer, and the crushing drum sound that drives that album is unbelievable. I’ve often wondered why other bands, and SABBATH themselves, have not mixed and recorded another album in a similar fashion. Much to my chagrin, TONY IOMMI mentions in his book how, unless you’re a drummer, you don’t really like the sound of that album. Guess he got me on that one! He mentions that the drums are too bright for his taste. Quite a shame, because that precise sound would have put HEAVEN & HELL’s The Devil You Know over the top.
By the time I was able to speak to REX BROWN, I had already had the album for a few days. During my conversation with him, I was caught off guard by something he said. He mentioned that the album was recorded with Pro-Tools. Now this really doesn’t seem like a big deal, because let’s face it, the majority of the albums that have been released during the last say 15 years have been recorded on Pro-Tools. What’s odd is that the album does not have your typical Pro-Tools recorded linear feel. The album has a lot of range and dynamic, something very atypical with a lot of the carbon copied hard rock and metal that is released nowadays. The album feels like it could have been recorded in the 70s, 80s, or 90s, before Pro-Tools really took off, when things were recorded on tape. The album has aspects of influences from all of those decades as well, but it doesn’t feel dated, it has a real modern feel to it as well. It gives you the best of both worlds. Rex mentioned that they mixed the album three times before it sounded right to the band. Although it doesn’t have that same Dehumanizer sound, it is very similar in the way that the drums and bass are presented on the album. Vinny’s parts especially sound as if he’s in the room with you, every hit of the toms sound crisp and clear, and not buried in the mix like they usually are. Which makes me think, why aren’t more albums mixed like this?
The way the band performs on the album reminds me a lot of LED ZEPPELIN and THE WHO. Now don’t get all bent out of shape, and let me explain. Both of those legendary bands had extraordinary rhythm sections, that drove their music. They also had a guitarist who instead of going out of his way to stand out every second he could, he atypically became the glue that held everything together. This is something that Mark Zavon does to perfection on this album by weaving between the solid foundation Vinny and Rex are laying down, and picking his spots to stand out and make the entire composition better. The melody on the album is incredible as well, Dewey Bragg does a great job of not only putting some solid lyrics together, but he uses his voice in a fashion that does not sound like any of today’s homogenized singers. Sure you can hear influences in his voice, but it doesn’t sound like every other singer out there. The album kicks off with four very solid tracks, “War Machine” starts things off driving forward. This takes us to “Hangman” which is classic Vinny, that slow punishing groove he is known for and more or less helped pioneer. “Voodoo Doll” is one of my favorite tracks to come out this year, the opening tremolo effect, into the mini solo before Dewey jumps into the first verse, and subsequent infectious chorus is to me the strongest track on the album. The fourth track “Gates Of Hell” is another slow dirge, which rivals classic SABBATH tracks like “Children of The Sea” and “Sign Of The Southern Cross”. Other stand out tracks include the “Time + Time Again” which was premiered late last year, “Up In Flames” which is about Dewey losing everything he owned in a fire, and the album closer “Revenge”, which has a real ZEPPELIN feel throughout.
Vinny’s DNA is all over this album, he is perhaps one of the most underrated drummers of all time. If this album sounds anything like SABBATH or DIO, it’s because of his playing. Although Rex was the last member to join the band, you can hear his signature playing as well. He is often overlooked in when his former band PANTERA is discussed. This album makes you appreciate what he actually did their landmark albums. Listen to what he does on this album, and go back to those old PANTERA albums, and realize how he actually influenced a generation of players. Dewey and Mark are just as important on the album, and not overshadowed by either of these two legends. Dewey delivers a very solid vocal performance, with a lot of great memorable melodies, and Mark is the perfect linchpin that ties everything together, and makes it all work.
The entire album is very solid throughout, and in my opinion, easily among the best hard rock albums to come out this year.
Victor M. Ruiz
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
Iron Man by Tony Iommi with T.J. Lammers (Da Capo Press)
Few other names in all of metal have the same importance as the name IOMMI. As the architect and soul of the sounds of BLACK SABBATH Tony Iommi practically invented the sound of metal music. This fact isn’t really up for debate. Iommi has seen it all, done it all and managed to still be standing tall after more than forty years in a career that is the stuff of legend. The toll of the journey and the mostly positive outcome is reflected in the books title Iron Man: My Journey Through HEAVEN AND HELL with BLACK SABBATH. As the book recounts, often in deep detail the back story of some of the most crucial times in not just metal history, but music history too.
Told in the laid-back manner you would expect, Iommi recounts the history of his early life in Birmingham UK, the formation of BLACK SABBATH and other tales. In spite of his (and everybody’s) copious drug use he has some surprising recall about events that have happened. Some of the stories are famous and well known and others not so much. Iommi does not look at the world through his purple-lensed glasses or another other color for that matter. He often paints himself in an unflattering light when he feels he deserves it and reflects back in time with brutal honesty. The 1970′s are definitely recalled as more wild than you have ever heard or dreamed. Perhaps like no one has yet to do in a book, Iommi recounts the entire history of BLACK SABBATH: all of the ups, the down and the in-betweens. He takes you to the low points of OZZY leaving SABBATH, coming back and what led to his eventual firing. Then he goes into great depth and insight about RONNIE JAMES DIO and his importance of reinvigorating the band and the brand. I learned things about DIO I never knew, which was great. All in all IOMMI recounts his friendships through stories involving LED ZEPPELIN, EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER, DEEP PURPLE, RICK WAKEMAN of YES, EDDIE VAN HALEN (whom is still a personal friend of his) JUDAS PRIEST, FRANK ZAPPA, GLENN HUGHES and many other classic bands. Covering the more recent years he discusses his IOMMI record, charity work and all of the current rank and file of metal stars who have befriended him and he appreciates them as well. Besides revealing his feelings about things like OZZFEST and the 1990′s SABBATH reunions with Ozzy he goes especially deep about the reformation of the DIO lineup, HEAVEN AND HELL; the highs of making new music and tours and the eventual illness and death of DIO which was heart breaking. He also talks about other fallen friends of his like COZY POWELL, DIMEBAG DARRELL and PETER STEELE as well.
Perhaps most surprising is IOMMI’s frankness when discussing his personal life. Ever the epitome of the buttoned up, classy and restrained British gentleman, he is not shy about talking about very intimate events of his life. He discussed his excessive drug use (although he claims he always felt responsible not to do more than the other in SABBATH), his workaholic nature that cost him his early marriages and his relationships with his children. Great detail was given about the extent of his recent hand injury that could have ended his career. He calls his current wife Maria (formerly Sjöholm, of DRAIN S.T.H.), the love of his life. It’s good to see Tony in a happy place in life as he looks back and he considers the future, including the possibility of anther BLACK SABBATH reunion to be wide open. A must have for fans and a great read for others interested in the history of rock and metal.
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
This poster derived from the Avenger album artwork is by Brooke Kent. (www.brookekent.com)
Life on the road for a band is full of highs and lows. The unpredictable nature of the business of music interferes with the process of making art accessible to many. This is a sad reality for all touring bands, except for a precious few. Perspective is what you need to survive. You can look no further than the band TOTIMOSHI who has been around awhile, opened for some huge bands like THE MELVINS, MASTODON, NEUROSIS and ISIS and have a great new album out, Avenger (At A Loss). O’Brien club, just outside of Boston was less than full tonight which was kind of disappointing. The band however, appreciated those who did come out and didn’t let it affect them at all which was professional and cool. I was hoping to snag the split 7” the band has out with THE MELVINS, but alas they didn’t have it yet.
Darryl Sheppard is BLACKWOLFGOAT!
After hanging out a bit and chatting with some local scene folks, the bands started to play. The first band I caught was experimental noise-rock outfit LEAGUES. Fronted by the enchanting Deb Nicholson, the band ran through some obtuse songs that were high-minded, idealistic art pieces as much as they were songs. The crowd was digging it and the band seem to give that energy right back to the fans which was cool. Next up was solo guitar act BLACKWOLFGOAT. BLACKWOLFGOAT is the brainchild of guitarist Darryl Sheppard (MILLIGRAM/HACKMAN) who gets up there with just a guitar, an array of effects and one solitary amp. He crafts interesting rhythm and drone effects with his delay and sampling pedals and then plays beats, counter melodies and other riffs built on top of that foundation. The results are trippy and cool his choice of notes and licks is quite clever. Some of the loops become just insanely hypnotic over the course of time, sucking you in to the musical vortex. Bravo!
TOTIMOSHI rips it up live in Boston.
Finally it was time for TOTIMOSHI to hit the stage. They set up quickly and the fans that were in the house packed into the front for the headliners. The band readied for a musical war of the senses. Opening with the title track from their new album, they definitely set it off big time. Propulsive beats dropped from drummer Chris Fugitt like a thunderclap as Tony Aguilar’s guitar tone stabbed at our ears. The grooving jam just filled up the room and crushed. “The Seeing Eye” was next and was also really impressive. Between Aguilar’s fuzzed out riffs and singer/bassist Meg Castellanos thick as a brick basslines, the song is head-nodding good time. Aguilar is one of the more underrated front men rocking stages today. In addition to his terrific guitar skills, he is a fine singer and really connects with the crowd to put across his lyrical poetry. The stop-start riffs that end the song were lock-tight, showing what a veteran group with chops like these can do. Another Castellanos bass heavy track is “Calling All Curs” was next. A classic sounding funky instrumental, it is a jam full of swagger and bounce not unlike LED ZEPPELIN’s “The Crunge”. Fugitt in particular really killed and he was playing a cool looking see-through red drum kit that resonated throughout the tiny club. He also chips in some vocals here and there. Next up were “Ladron” and “Dance of Snakes”. “Ladron” begins as a trippy BLACK SABBATH or CREAM stoner jam, but quickly shifts in the verse to a semi-tone poem vibe. Later on it boils over into a full-fledged stomping rock anthem. “Dance of Snakes” is another husky rocker with a great breakdown and a super heavy ending. Just real music, delivered from the heart which is hard to come by these days. “Mainline” has a bit more in common with jazz music in terms of angular beats and phrasing, but winds up as a bluesy dirge. Aguilar’s passionate wail gives a feeling of imminent doom. As they sailed through the rest of the set with little stage banter, they chose to keep the focus on the music. “Viva Zapata” recalls some of the more interesting early SOUNDGARDEN songs when they were a lot more experimental. Aguilar in particular has a bit of Kim Thayil in his vibrato and chord voicings that really gets to me. “Gnat” was my favorite song of the set with its atmospheric build up all the way through to its rave-up ending. After robust versions of “The Fool” and “Opus” the band ran through an amazing cover version of “Are You Experienced”. Aguilar just slayed on the guitar solos and his whammy bar action is really admirable. They closed the triumphant set with “Waning Divine”, easily one of the best and hardest songs the band has ever written. It is equal parts ethereal, PINK FLOYD meditation and also a furious doom masterpiece all together. TOTIMOSHI is a band that really tries to create something special with their music so check em out if they come to your town.
Chris Fugitt is a powerhouse drummer.
The Seeing Eye
Calling All Curs
Dance of Snakes
Are You Experienced?
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes