Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Hunter - Mastodon - 2011

I have been playing Mastodon's latest, the much-anticipated The Hunter, since receiving it Monday and, specifically, during virtually all uninterrupted waking hours since my last posting two days ago. Not necessarily because I was immediately smitten but because, despite its 53-minute length across 13 songs, it flies by and the compositions, dense as ever, are so hard to digest in this fleeting form. It's also been a challenge to define what makes The Hunter so very different while at once so familiar. It's an album in the purest sense, a collection of songs in a single sleeve, not necessarily linked by any overarching theme apart from rock and roll by Mastodon. Fun-size nuggets of progressometallislopera replace the extended feasts we've become accustomed to and it's more than a little difficult for this listener to decide how best to dig in.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Unto the Locust - Machine Head - 2011

This week has been utterly blessed with highly-anticipated new music and the crucial decision today was which album to review first. The solution came easily as, simply, I wanted to write most about the one I have been listening to the most. Mastodon has been fantastic and Chickenfoot a hell of a lot of fun but Machine Head's Unto the Locust has been absolutely addictive. It's another peak among many in a discography whose highs outnumber its lows twofold and, by this point, Machine Head have melded all of those noises into a sound all their own; a ferociously deathly melodic thrash that sounds like, well, Machine Head '94 meets Machine Head '03 meets Machine Head '07.

Monday Metal in the Mail - Mastodon, Machine Head and Chickenfoot

For once, the stars aligned and the good old U.S. Mail brought me not one, not two but three new releases a full day early and I spent Monday evening in blissful listening mode soaking up Mastodon's The Hunter, Machine Head's Unto the Locust and Chickenfoot III.

Full-on reviews for each will follow this week as I give each a couple more spins to fully digest. Until then, in true Twitter fashion, first impressions in 140 characters or less:

Mastodon - The Hunter: Touches of The Sword and Queens of the Stone Age permeate a riff-heavy collection of songs tied together this time only by the gospel of rock.

Machine Head - Unto the Locust: All the signature elements are in place yet it never falls into "sounds like..." territory aside from, dammit, it sounds like Machine Head.

Chickenfoot - III: God damn, this is a band. Never knew Joe Satriani's middle name. Chickenfoot III makes it apparent: Joe Motherfuckin' Satriani.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Twenty Other Records I Love Almost as Much as Led Zeppelin II

I wanted to go outside 1,001 - or even 100 - of the usual essentials for that this post. There are certainly plenty of records populating the usual lists that I agree are indispensable. That said, there are also dozens rarely listed anywhere, even in genre sub-rankings, that I simply could never be without. My only criteria for this list, aside from general unlistedness elsewhere, is that the albums must be at least two years old in order to ensure it isn't just infatuation. Here they are, twenty records I will never part with, ranked only alphabetically by artist:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sammy Hagar & the Waboritas - September 17, 2011 - Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

the contest what got me there.
saved myself from a lot of miller
lite with this tweet
So, a couple weeks ago I just happened to be on Twitter when a tweet from @sammyhagar came across with a contest promotion for free tickets to a Columbus show. Provide a clever caption for a photo on his site and a pair were yours. A couple song titles and a few minutes later and I was all set to check out Sammy and the Waboritas in Columbus on Saturday, September 17th.

The show's openers were contemporary country artist Phil Vassar and 3 Doors Down. To be 100% honest, neither act is my flavor and while both offered sets that were very well received by the crowd, I'll forgo any review of their performances as it simply doesn't seem fair for me to try to comment on music in which I am simply not interested. It was apparent very early on that this was a production sponsored by Miller Lite as each artist mentioned the brand by name repeatedly and were sure to hold the cups and bottles just so for big screen monitor shots. I did not know until after the show but it turns out one could not even purchase tickets for this concert. Apparently the only way to get in was via local radio and bar contests or collection of Miller Lite "Taste Points." Who the hell saves points from their beers? And who the hell drinks enough Miller Lite to save enough points for concert tickets? Apparently about 12,000 people. That would explain why so many in attendance were pretty shitfaced from the get-go. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Welcome 2 My Nightmare - Alice Cooper - 2011

Alice Cooper has yet to produce a bad album. Whether as a solo act or as a band proper, every entry into the discography has merits. All the more impressive is the fact that Cooper has maintained a distinct sound while spanning a variety of styles of album: gritty glam rock (Love it to Death, Dirty Diamonds), hard hair metal (Constrictor, Trash), complex concept (From the Inside, Along Came a Spider) and more. He's also no stranger to sequels with a brilliant span of thematically linked records from The Last Temptation to Brutal Planet to Dragontown. 1975's Welcome to My Nightmare was not only Cooper's solo debut, it also stands as one of his most highly-lauded albums and offers a genre only he could master in Vaudevillian horror pastiche. Welcome 2 My Nightmare, the 2011 sequel, brings back not only legendary producer Bob Ezrin and guitar wizard Steve Hunter but, on several tracks, all surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band. This could be monumental. This should be incredible. So, how is it?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Worship Music - Anthrax - 2011

Worship MusicAny dedicated fan of horror films should agree that Halloween 5 is a damn good sequel, produced long after the series should have run out of steam. It maintains all of the conventional requirements of any good horror film, builds upon its immediate predecessor and still manages to honor the original while expanding the overall mythology of the series. Worship Music, then, is Anthrax's Halloween 5. No, naysayers, it isn't Among the Living or Persistence of Time. The band released four studio albums of originals following Joey Belladonna's departure and none deserve to be disregarded (save for maybe Volume 8, the Halloween III of the bunch?). Coming way too late after 2003's superb We've Come for You All, Worship Music, Joey Belladonna and all, is a continuation of the ongoing Anthrax saga and fits in very, very nicely with the arc of the band's sound across the last quarter century.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Iced Earth Offers a Re-Recorded "Dante's Inferno" with Stu Block

photo by Justin Borucki
From Iced Earth's site (
“If there’s one song fans have asked us to play live more than any other it’s ‘Dante’s Inferno,’” Iced Earth main man Jon Schaffer said. “The simple reason why we haven’t is because the original click track was erased, therefore requiring a keyboard player to do the parts live.  That’s OK for a special event like when we recorded Alive in Athens, but to hire a keyboard player for a full tour, for one song, just isn’t financially feasible.”
This summer, during the recording of Dystopia, Iced Earth’s soon-to-be-released 10th studio album, the band entered the studio for the express purpose of remedying that situation – and emerged with a powerful rendition that’s (if possible) even more monumental than the original, which was the closing track on the band’s 1995 album Burnt Offerings.
Read the entire article (and download the track) here. In the meantime, listen from here (and help me test out Streampad) by clicking the black bar at the bottom of your screen.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Takasago Army - Chthonic - 2011

Takasago ArmyMy recent crash course in Chthonic has been nothing short of incredible. Four albums in thus far (2002's Relentless Recurrence though this week's Takasago Army), I am entirely enamored with this meld of melodic black metal and traditional Taiwanese music and instrumentation. Takasago Army and the previous two records, Seediq Bale and Mirror of Retribution, form a trilogy communicating remarkable histories of the Taiwanese people. Even without the impressive sociopolitical content of the lyric, largely dealing here with the role of indigenous Taiwanese soldiers serving in the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War, Takasago Army is a majestic, epic listen and sets Chthonic apart from even the most excellent of their peers in what is a decade-long, unflagging run of top-notch albums. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New & Upcoming Releases and Reissues - September 13-October 4, 2011

Thrilled to death that today's mail brought a bagful o'Lich King and a box of Immolation. No Chthonic yet. Ran by Best Buy today hoping they may have a copy on the shelf and, of course, not even close. They did have more than one Chicago album, though. How many Chicago albums can one Best Buy sell ever? Anyway, the next few weeks are an embarrassment of riches and I cannot wait for the following:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Metal in the Mail: Lich King, Chthonic and a Shitload of Immolation

It's been a long while (for me, anyway) since some brand-new metal showed up and I am expecting a lot in the upcoming week. Here's hoping that a post-holiday Tuesday will pay off with a few parcels full of new music. Arriving soon in my home and on this blog:

Takasago Army - Chthonic
Takasago ArmyI fell deeply in love with 2009's Mirror of Retribution during some uninterrupted listening time on a plane a week or so back and immediately grabbed Chthonic's Seediq Bale (2006) and Relentless Recurrence (2007). While fairly straightforward progressive symphonic-tinged black metal (if that can be considered straightforward), the incorporation of Taiwainese instrumentation gives this band a flavor that sets them apart from the pack and is absolutely addictive. Takasago Army releases tomorrow, September 6, and I am hoping it's in my hands before the week's end.

Toxic Zombie Onslaught and World Gone Dead - Lich King
Toxic Zombie OnslaughtI became entirely obsessed with Lich King after some great exposure and a fantastic interview on the New Wave of Thrash Metal blog. Poring over everything they had online along with some listening I ordered their two most recent records from the band's merch site (I actually found their debut, Necromantic Maelstrom, in a real-life record store). I ordered these August 20 but know the band was touring until very recently and their Facebook site states they're shipping now. A return visit to their site tonight lists a new release, Super Retro Thrash, available and, even waiting for the first order, had to order this one tonight, too. Here's hoping the band stays put long enough to ship this one out before the next tour.

Close to a World Below, Shadows in the Light, Dawn of Possession and Harnessing Ruin - Immolation
Dawn of PossessionThis is turning into the summer of Immolation. The Metal Advisor turned me onto their latest, the magnificent Majesty & Decay. Then I find my beloved Jungle Rot is touring with the band this fall. I took advantage of a recent 10% off with free shipping code from and grabbed every Immolation record they had in stock. These run the gamut from their debut in '91 through 2007 and cover about a third of the band's discography. Much like Jungle Rot, this is 100% bullshit-free heavy metal. There is an almost emotionless, technically brilliant dissonance that defines Majesty & Decay and I am praying that the rest of the band's output falls into that same realm. These dudes are headlining what is looking to be a killer six-band show and I am hoping to bang my head in the most well-informed manner I can.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Misfits Offer New Old MP3 with Devil's Rain Pre-Order

The Misfits promo machine is operating at full speed for the upcoming Devil's Rain, due October 4. A long, convoluted email offers a variety of prizes and swag for pre-ordering the album ASAP. Here's the breakdown:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Frank Zappa Feeding the Monkies at Ma Maison Available for Pre-Order announced a pre-order today for Feeding the Monkies at Ma Masion, a synclavier record Zappa reportedly intended for vinyl release.

1. Feeding The Monkies At Ma Maison
2. Buffalo Voice
3. Secular Humanism
4. Worms From Hell
5. Samba Funk

To be shipped during the week of September 20th - order here for $17.00.

There is not a damn thing wrong with this Danzig video