Friday, October 31, 2014

To Hell And Back: Hellion in Toronto (with a photo gallery by Brian Ronald)

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Photo Gallery by Brian Ronald

"Queen of Scream", Ann Boleyn brought her 2014 version of Sunset strip icons Hellion into Toronto on October 17, 2014.  The Rockpile West was the scene of the crime so to speak and
Hellion blew the roof off the place despite the weaker attendance.  Hellion dates back to Los Angeles, California in 1982 when they formed with the original line up of vocalist Ann Boleyn, guitarist Ray Schenck, drummer Sean Kelley and bassist Peyton Tuthill.  After years of struggles with line up changes, record companies basically ignoring Hellion, Ronnie James Dio taking them under his wing, internal disputes and Ann Boleyn receiving threats from stalkers, among other woes, Boleyn has reformed Hellion once again.  This 2014 version consists of a veritable roster of "A list musicians" with drummer Simon Wright (AC/DC, Dio, UFO), keyboardist Scott Warren (Dio/Dio Disciples), Bjorn Englen (Dio Disciples) and guitarist Maxxxwell Carlisle.  A new EP was recorded, titled Karma's A Bitch and released on October 7, 2014.

The tour, which saw Hellion stopping in many cities in the US and also her first ever appearance in
Hellion and Fireball - photo by Brian Ronald
Canada with the October 17 performance in Toronto, featured Greg Smith (Ted Nugent/Ted Poley/Alice Cooper) stepping in for Bjorn Englen and the addition of rhythm guitarist Georg Dolivo (Rhino Bucket).  Fireball whiskey was on hand issuing samples in conjunction with their backing of the Hellion tour, but I was disappointed with the support that Toronto was giving Hellion as I looked around at the weaker attendance and saw only one person sporting a Hellion shirt (me).  There were, however, several other shows going on in the area as well on this same night, the curse of a growing metal community and Hellion is not as well known as some.

Hellion (Georg Dolivo/Ann Boleyn/Maxxxwell Carlisle) Toronto - photo by Brian Ronald
Hellion took to The Rockpile stage beginning with the "Resurrection" intro and straight through into "Will Not Go Quietly".  They sounded extremely tight as should be with the quality behind Boleyn and she herself had a voice that obviously had not aged one iota. "Hell Has No Fury" off the new Karma's a Bitch EP was next followed by "Betrayer" and "Karma's A Bitch" both off the same EP.  During Simon Wright's drum solo I realized that Boleyn was standing on a circle carpet
Ann Boleyn - photo by Brian Ronald
that had been placed on the Rockpile stage and adorned with white duct tape to look like a pentagram.  Throughout the set, dry ice billowed from side stage adding to the eerie setting created along with the cobwebs draped over the drums, keys and amps, not to mention the pentagram mat.  The Black Book release was represented next with a double shot consisting of "Storm Rider" and "Living In Hell".  Preceding Maxxxwell Carlisle's guitar solo was "Run For Your Life" and although the band was awesome and talented, I personally am not a fan of solos (unless incorporated into a song).  Not being a musician myself I just find them to be basically noise that I don't understand, especially in a set that only has twelve songs listed.  "Bad Attitude" (probably my favorite Hellion song) was followed by "Watch the City Burn" and "Rockin' 'Til the End" to completely cover everything from Karma's A Bitch.  After a brief respite the band returned for the encore.  Sadly they chose to skip "Break the Spell", which I could see on the setlist and only play a cover of "The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown)", which went off extremely well.

Ann Boleyn & The Meister
The entire band hung out after the set, signing autographs, taking photos and having beverages.  I had a couple of brief moments to get them all to sign the setlist that I had pilfered from the stage and even a photo with Ann Boleyn.  It was great to finally see Hellion live, especially after Ann's cameo on MORC singing "East Meets West" with Doro.  I do hope that this is not the end of Hellion in Toronto.

Look for videos from the show coming soon to Decibel Geek's YouTube Channel

Cheers,
The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)

PHOTO CREDIT: BRIAN RONALD 2014

(Hellion Website) (Hellion Facebook)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

DEVILSTRIP:RISE.

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When I think of brilliant, three piece rock bands, straight away the likes of ZZ Top, Rush, Cream and Motorhead spring to mind.  These are all bands who emerged in the 60's and 70's, and, with the exception of  The Winery Dogs, nothing is really turning my head at the moment.  But having just discovered this power trio from Ohio, my luck has definitely changed.

Devilstrip's debut album Rise, incorporates melodic rock brilliantly blended with hard edged riffs.  Right from the opening track, Not What You Need, you immediately get the impression that this isn't your average weak boned trio.  This is a powerhouse of a song, played with rhythmic intent. The bass led verses of Go, quickly ascend to a bombastic chorus.  A perfect choice for a single release.

If your partial to a bit of funk driven rock, then you'll love Including Me, featuring grimacing vocals from Marc Wasmund.  Also, some throbbing drums from Jimmy Gray.  The nasty riff work on Are You Ready, compliments this melodic gem perfectly.  This is a song that is sure to take on a new life when played live.  Kill The Headlights(Roll) ups the speed of the album to an explosive pace, featuring a Steve Harris like, galloping bass line from Graig Lingren.


Opening with a delightful orgy of silky riffs, To The Enemy, is a mixed bag, integrating metal, grunge and rock elements.  The Alter Bridge like Ugly is one of the stronger tracks on the album, a brilliant melodic chorus following engaging verses.  This song delivers on every level.

The only real criticism I have of Light Up The Room, is that it just isn't as meaty as the previous tracks.  It's by no means a filler, but it doesn't get me off  my seat.  Any hint of negativity is firmly put to sleep on the haunting Love, Hate, Die.  Wasmund's vocals put a classy stamp on this arresting track.  Closing track She Said, is the nearest thing to a power ballad on the album, but it retains enough grit and macho emotion to lose that tag.

So if you love discovering new rock bands who are making music a little bit left of centre, you're not going to do much better than this.

A "Shock"ing Thanksgiving in Ottawa!

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Heading south to Toronto on Thanksgiving Monday by 7am to hop a bus bound for Ottawa with a return trip slated for 1:30am departure, I was off to check out a band that I'd been waiting to see since I discovered them.  Actually I was introduced to them via a friend writing for a competing website, consorting with the enemy perhaps you could say.  The disc quickly became a  favorite, appearing on my top of 2013 and a review on each of the three websites I'm involved with!  The Once Denied CD is still just as fresh now and often gets me through the early morning silence of prep time at work in the restaurant.

Meister at the Houses of Parliament
Lost in the nations capital shortly after my disembarkation of the bus, I had naturally walked the wrong direction out of the bus terminal through a rather sketchy looking area of town.  Finally returning and going the other way I found myself on Bank Street heading up to Wellington, which turns into Rideau, the location of Mavericks.  A photo of Meister reppin' the Shock tee at the Houses of Parliament before settling in at a Scottish pub for fish & chips and a beer, or two, or three until the doors to Mavericks bar opened.

Nearly immediately upon entering the rather small venue I met bassist Steve Monette.  Great to finally meet Steve in person, guitarist John Tennant joined us shortly and they both introduced me to vocalist Tony Ve.  There was quite a lot of chatting all around and beer purchasing as they humbly thanked me for my efforts to attend the event.  No, boys thank-you for the great music and all you do.

Leading band, Rusted, were also one of the attractions for me, having again been introduced to the band through the same competitor who brought me Shock.  They entered the tiny stage to  
Rusted-photo by The Meister
Europe's "The Final Countdown", ripping through their opening selection that I was not familiar with.  "Two At A Time" was next up as the Montreal boys were rocking hard and all over the stage, well, as much as they could be with the limited space.  Two support poles/pillars at either side of the stage effectively blocked the bass and rhythm guitarist from a clear view.  What a stupid place to put a stage with these poles blocking views.  "Scream in the Night" saw lead vocalist Tony Rust donning a huge skull head in a bout of gimmicky showmanship that sits well in my book.  The sound in here had a huge echo and did not seem to improve as Rusted went on tearing up the stage.  "Rock Patrol", title track to their debut album, came next and I was able to capture this album title track on video including the lead guitarist, Tommy D. Eagle, jumping from the stage and running through the audience.  "Young Wild & Free" was the swan song of Rusted's awesome high energy set.

Joe Thrasher was the next band to crowd the stage and their name was more than appropriate.  The band seemed extremely tight, but the music just wasn't overly appealing to me.  Probably the most surreal moment took place between Joe Thrasher and Shock's sets as I was approached by a guy who remembered seeing me at Judas Priest in Rochester!  How about that?  I'm not the only crazy Canadian to travel far and wide for rock and metal!

Tony Ve & Steve Monette-Meister
Now for the main event: well at least my main event, Shock, no offense to Blaze Bayley.  First thing I noticed was that the sound had noticeably improved and Shock were sounding awesome right off the bat with "Fighting Chance".  John Tennant and Tony Ve's fingers were sheer blurs of motion over the guitar strings as Steve Monette's thundering bass lines backed them up.  Shock's newest member, the drummer, looked extremely young pounding on the kit, but there was no shortage of talent as he bashed the skins.  I was loving every minute of this band and so happy that I decided to make the arduous journey up here to finally catch the live experience.  The setlist was comprised of a healthy selection off the Once Denied album, seven of the eight contained therein to be precise.  Each and every one had me singing along and more than a little headbanging, although I have to remember to tame both actions down during any videos I take.  Headbanging as it quite obviously shakes the picture and singing as I'm totally tone deaf, something not assisted by large amounts of beer.  Shock served up a heaping plate of old school thrash style metal based on chunky riffs, thunderous bass lines and a pounding back beat, sprinkled with blistering guitar
John Tennant-by Meister
 solos and screeching vocals.  Before they launched into "I'm Dangerous" guitarist John Tennant addressed the assemblage briefly, asking if anyone had come further than Toronto for the event.  When no responses greeted him, he dedicated the show to The Meister!  Super cool shout outs like that never get old for me.  Among the Once Denied selections of "Flaming Towards Earth", "Full Speed Ahead""Slashing to Live", "Driven To Kill" and "Paths of Glory" they debuted three new compositions.  What was printed on the setlist as"YMYL", I can only assume is just an acronym for the actual title, "Patriot" and "Sonic Assault" were excellent additions to the Shock library and I'm totally stoked for the new album, hopefully coming soon, boys?  I know that Blaze Bayley is the promoted headliner for this evening but Shock was 100% the real deal for me and reason for the trek.  If you're unfamiliar with Shock, correct that pronto by contacting the band and checking out the videos I captured at the show coming soon on the Decibel Geek YouTube Channel.
Shock @ Mavericks Ottawa October 13, 2014 - photo by The Meister
More beer flowed as I congratulated the Shock guys on a truly killer set.  Blaze Bayley took the stage with Maiden Quebec as his backing band and he apologized to us for the lack of attendees.  "Lord of the Flies" got things underway and I remarked at how engaging Blaze was with the crowd
Blaze Bayley Ottawa 2014-photo by The Meister
(well gathering of about 100).  Throughout the set he several times offered a heartfelt thanks to those that made it out, the few but mighty he called us, and for the selling out of his CD/DVD on this first tour in Canada in 15 years.  He also, at one point, proclaimed that he was living his dream right now even though some would say that a less than half full room was not much of a dream.  He granted us all the day off tomorrow and invited us to stick around for a beer with him after as he was going to go straight to the bar after the set.  A man of his word he literally was assisted off stage by some fans and went directly to the bar, no quick stop at a dressing room even!  A very charismatic and engaging performer, much more so than when I saw him teamed with Paul Di'Anno at Sweden Rock 2014, but Shock stole the show for me.  Blaze's set included: "The Clansman", "Ghost in the Machine", "Soundtrack of My Life", "Silicon Messiah", "Futureal", "Man on the Edge" and more.  I was surprised when we also were awarded the Maiden classics of "Running Free", "Wrathchild", "Iron Maiden" and "Wasted Years" before he headed to the bar.

After helping the Shock guys load up their gear it was off to catch the 1:30am bus for a five hour trip back to Toronto and then straight to work Tuesday morning.......ahhh it's a "Rock n Roll Life"!

Look for videos from the show coming soon to Decibel Geek's YouTube Channel

Cheers,
The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)

PHOTO CREDIT: RICH "THE MEISTER" DILLON 2014

(Rusted Facebook)

(Shock Website) (Shock Facebook)

(Blaze Bayley Website) (Blaze Bayley Facebook)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

An Evening With Doro Pesch (including photography from Brian Ronald)

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The undisputed Metal Queen, Dusseldorf Germany’s Doro Pesch rolled into Toronto with her 30th Anniversary tour on October 16, 2014.  It had been about a year and a half since her last visit, which was my first time seeing the live Doro experience.  I have long, long been a Doro/Warlock fan, getting into the band with the True As Steel album that we pilfered from my buddy’s older brother’s collection in our hunger to discover new hard rock/metal music that we had recently become exposed to.  From there we moved both backwards and forwards simultaneously as we saved our allowances and paper route gains to collect the previous Hellbound and Burning the Witches albums as well as the recently (at the time) issued Triumph & Agony.  We were fifteen or sixteen and in Canadian High School when we both enrolled in a German class teaching the basics of the language and culture.  One assignment was to bring something German into the next class that we would discuss.  We teamed up and produced the Triumph & Agony cassette when our name was called.  I’m not sure that the rest of the class or the teacher enjoyed that session as we listened to and discussed the album and the band during the class.  Fast forward to 2013 and the first time I had the chance to see her live in a truly incredible performance in Toronto despite the horrible snowstorm outside of the club.  We raged inside while Mother Nature raged outside.  Around that same time, at the age of 40, I had finally decided to take the leap into body art and get my first tattoo.  My love of music was the clear choice of subject.  With the assistance of comic artist Rob Armstrong and tattoo artist Guy Abergel at Art Studio Tattoos, Toronto the tattoo became a full sleeve piece depicting a guitar case “stickered” with the logos of about 30 bands that helped shape or affect my life in some way.  While there are still many great bands missing (not enough arm space), Doro Pesch is the only band to appear twice with both the Doro and Warlock logos!  That shows you where the Metal Queen sits in my hierarchy of life.  Again in 2013 I had been seriously getting closer to making the dream of attending a European festival a reality when I saw the lineup announced for Sweden Rock 2013.  With Doro in the roster, my choice was cemented and tickets were booked and purchased, Sweden here I come! (A Canadian Decibel Geek in Sweden).
MORC Meet & Greet with Doro-photo by Danny Verret
2014 brought another chance to experience the live performance as Doro was slated to appear on that year’s Monsters of Rock Cruise.  Two wonderful shows by the entire band took place there on the high seas.  I spent the entire cruise looking for Doro as the one person that I wanted to meet aboard ship, but alas to no avail.  I was, however, able to meet wicked bass player Nick Douglas and skin basher Johnny Dee (who I’d also met briefly in Toronto 2013), but Doro eluded me.  Forced to attend the meet & greet aboard ship as my only chance to meet her, I had a few precious seconds to display the artwork of my arm and smile for a shot with the entire band before being herded along to the next photo session.  It was still a complete dream come true getting a few seconds with the lady who helped shape my rock tastes and days of teen angst.

…And now we get to the present and specifically October 16, 2014.  Presented by Inertia Entertainment and performing at The Hard Luck Bar would again be Doro and her incredible band.  That announcement months earlier brought an immediate ticket link clicking and sheer elation that the price tag was a mere $22.50 CDN….that’s almost free!  Perhaps this low price was due to the fact that The Hard Luck is a terribly small and totally shitty venue with the tiniest stage and possibly worst sound in Toronto.  All that aside this would definitely be the most intimate show opportunity to see Doro!  Coupled with all of this, the little and perhaps not obvious drop-down menu displayed a higher price option that included a meet & greet VIP and early entry option.  This ain’t no Motley Crue “rip-off meet & greet”….it was only another $18-20 to add this to the ticket!  Hell Yeah!  Thanks Inertia Entertainment and Doro for this amazing and more than affordable opportunity. 

Doro Toronto Oct 16, 2014-Brian Ronald
The evening finally arrived and I set out, meeting up with some friends for dinner prior to the show.  We had gotten word that the meet & greet had been pushed back to after the show as the band had only recently arrived in Toronto.  My good fortune stayed with me and good things come to those who wait as one of these dinner friends, Amy, was actually friends with a member of the band!  How cool is that?  In what almost seems like a dream to me now, before I knew it, on our way to the club we were pit stopping to pick up a carafe of coffee for the band, which shortly saw us on the tour bus!  What, on the tour bus?  Yes, yes we were!  Doro and most of the band were present and I stood a few feet away from where the “Metal Queen” was sitting on the couch.  Perhaps the blonde bombshell has discovered the fountain of youth as she definitely looks every bit as good and hot as she did in her youth!  All the buzz was immediately evident as true in that she (and actually every single member of the group) really appreciate their fans as she chatted lightly with us.  Somehow (thanks to Amy I believe) it was pointed out that I was adorned with a Doro tattoo and before I knew it I was shrugging out of my jacket to display Guy Abergel’s work.  No sooner did I have the jacket off and guitarist Luca Princiotta remarked that he remembered the tattoo from the cruise meet & greet (very cool on that score alone!) as Nick Douglas (bassist) and Doro herself moved in to get a closer look.  All of a sudden I was posing for photos with my German Metal Queen heroine, a few with her pointing to the tattoo.  As we readied ourselves to depart Doro asked our
Doro & Meister Toronto Oct 16, 2014-by Brian Ronald
group if there was anything that we wanted to hear tonight.  They all turned towards me, I gave a few moments thought wading/flipping through the tons of choices that instantly popped into my head.  I wanted to choose something I’d not heard live before, but something that stood a chance of getting played.  I settled on “We Are The Metalheads (Wacken Hymne)” to which she responded “OK”.  Elated beyond belief and totally on cloud nine we all gushed an outpouring of thanks as we departed to give them what little time there was to get rested and ready to perform.  I almost didn’t need the show now, that was so cool thanks Amy Mech, you rock!

Doro @ Hard Luck Toronto Oct 16, 2014 - Brian Ronald
I reported to position at the front of the stage on the side of guitarist Bas Maas.  What followed could only be described as pure magic as we got a heavy dose of Warlock to get the show going.  The crowd was pumped up and were all surging forward, fists in the air and screaming with the opening bars of the Warlock rager “I Rule The Ruins”“Earthshaker Rock”, “Burning the Witches” and “Fight For Rock” all followed.  Time for a double shot of Doro solo material next with “Night of the Warlock” and “Raise Your Fist” from the current, awesome album of the same name before a deeper and rarely played cut off 1984’s Burning The Witches release in “Without You”.  Prior to the tour there had been a Doro fan poll in which the question was asked “What would you like to hear on this tour”.  There were a lot of deeper cuts on the list and “Without You" is only one example, with other choices being things such as "Beyond the Trees" and "Unholy Love".  The band listened to their fans and worked some of those fan favorite songs into
Doro Band Toronto Oct 16, 2014
the set, changing it up a little each night.  The next track was a true treat for a fan like me with “Evil”, a song I’d never heard before and was actually completely unaware of it’s existence.  Doro called out that the song was originally from 1985 and had not been released in Canada or US, so it would probably be new to us.  What a total rager it was and I must add this track to my collection as soon as possible.  “Metal Tango”, "True as Steel” and the ballad “Fur Immer" (Forever) kept the roster heavy in the Warlock vein as Doro offered her apologies on the sound quality (I gather there was some reverb/feedback in their monitors).  So far there had been a few deviations from the setlist that was taped to the stage at the pint sized beauty’s feet and “East Meets West” was another of these.  On the cruise Doro had been joined on stage by Ann Boleyn ("The Queen of Scream" from Hellion) for a duet on this one and since Hellion was indeed in town tomorrow I wondered if we might see a little cross performing, but it was not to be the case.  During one of the choruses of "East Meets West" Doro moved to my side of the stage, worming between monitors and cords and coming to stop directly in front of me!  Staring right at me, we each sang several lines of the chorus to each other as I felt a pat on my back from my friend Amy.  Words cannot describe the feeling.  “Out of Control” another rarely seen gem popped up next with a lengthy skin bashing solo including crowd participation from Johnny Dee.  Doro returned to stage and announced that Johnny Dee (Britny Fox) had been with her for 21 years to date, offering her thanks to him for going above the call on
Johnny Dee @ Hard Luck Toronto Oct 16, 2014-Brian Ronald
this tour and driving the bus as well!  Wow, I know that he was previously the tour manager, so if he’s still performing those duties he’s a busy and dedicated guy!   Doro continued to talk to the rabid crowd explaining about the poll for setlist and the fan chosen favorites.  Then she said: “We met some friends earlier this evening and one of them requested a song.  This gentleman right here, (pointing at me with an outstretched arm) wanted to hear something.  What was it?" She asked.  ""We are the Metalheads",” I nervously replied in a fairly loud voice, a bit shocked at Doro calling me out.  Again I felt the pat on the back from my friend Amy as she knew just what something like that and all these other exchanges really mean to metal fan such as myself.  “Love Me In Black” was next as I still reeled from the previous, my throat nearly raw and harsh.  “All We Are” of course closed up the regular set with a little crowd participation included and we just knew that there would still be more to come.  After a short reprieve the band re-crowded the tiny
Nick Douglas Toronto Oct 16, 2014
stage for the encores as the audience cheered them on with everything they had.  "Hero", composed as a tribute to Ronnie James Dio, lead the way followed closely behind by “Breaking The Law”, a Judas Priest cover that Doro has made her own.  “Burn it Up” was the final song for the evening and as the band exited the stage we all remarked about the total awesomeness of what we had just witnessed and experienced.  We milled around as concert goers filed out or to the bar for much needed refreshments.  After a short while security hoisted out all the non Meet & Greeters and we were explained the rules.  Simple: line-up, two things only signed by the band, walk by them all and quick chat as they sign, no photos, line up again and then photos will start.  It all went remarkably smoothly and not anywhere near as drawn out as I would have thought.  I of course had much more than two things to sign and the promoter had just handed out event posters to us all as well.  I passed a couple of CD covers to friends ahead and behind me as they only had one thing each and we were off.  Luca Princiotta was first and there were of course pleasantries about the show as I approached the table, shaking his hand.  I asked him why they were not selling his solo CD this time around.  I had considered purchasing it last time as he is an awesome and talented guitarist, but passed eventually.  Preferring to buy direct from an artist if possible I waited for this show as my next opportunity to acquire the CD.  He seemed shocked that I was interested and apologized that it was in the truck due to the late arrival, saying he might have one in the dressing room and would check for me after the
Luca Princiotta Toronto Oct 16, 2014
ordeal was over.  Doro personalized my 25 Years In Rock...And Still Going Strong 25th Anniversary DVD/CD set and the event poster and I had a few brief minutes to chat with each member, thankful to them for coming to Toronto.  We rounded around and formed up once again for photos.  The whole band was “into” each fan’s photo taken with their own camera by one of the event staff.  They even took two for everyone to be sure a good shot was captured.  A large number of my group looked at the piss-poor lighting in the Hard Luck Bar, especially in the area we were using for photos and were dubious about the quality that their phones would produce.  Meister to the rescue as I had my trusty little point and shoot camera already in hand.  I ended up using my camera for a total of six peoples Meet & Greet photos!  By the time I arrived home at 3:30am I was totally exhausted but made sure to get everyone’s pics posted and tagged for them on Facebook.  Thank-you Doro Pesch, Johnny Dee, Bas Maas, Luca Princiotta, Nick Douglas and Harrison Young for a truly unforgettable experience and an awesome show!

Doro @ Hard Luck Bar October 16, 2014 Setlist:
"I Rule the Ruins"
"Earthshaker Rock"
Bas Maas Toronto Oct 16, 2014-Brian Ronald
"Burning the Witches"
"Fight for Rock"
"Night of the Warlock"
"Raise Your Fist in the Air"
"Without You"
"Evil"
"Metal Tango"
"True as Steel"
"Fur Immer"
"East Meets West"
"Out of Control"
"Wacken Hymne (We are the Metalheads)"
"Love Me in Black"
"All We Are"
Encore:
"Hero"
"Breaking the Law"
"Burn It Up"

Look for videos from the show coming soon to Decibel Geek's YouTube Channel

Cheers,
The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)

PHOTO CREDIT: BRIAN RONALD 2014

(Doro Website) (Doro Facebook)

(Art Studio Tattoos Website) (Art Studio Tattoos Facebook)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Albums Unleashed Motley Crue with John Corabi Part 2 - Ep160

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After a huge response to last week's part 1, we're back to pick up our talk with John Corabi about the 1994 self-titled Motley Crue album.

We pick up Albums Unleashed - Motley Crue with John Corabi part 2 with a discussion of Hooligan's Holiday. From there John guides us through the creative process for each song on the album; highlighting the motives for the lyrics as well as some surprising revelations about the origin of some of the music on the album and a great story about Glenn Hughes' involvement in the recording for Misunderstood.

Other topics touched on in this long-form discussion include
the much-talked-about MTV interview that strained the network's relationship with the band, the possibility of the band changing their name during the making of the album, one song that was re-written for the album five times and another that was almost torpedoed by record company politics; leading to a fight from the band for its inclusion. All of that and A LOT more!



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Saturday, October 25, 2014

BLACK STONE CHERRY. THE ACADEMY, DUBLIN, 23rd OCTOBER.

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A little over 700 people packed this tiny Dublin venue to witness the Kentucky rockers unleash their brand of Southern fried hard rock.  With a set spanning their four albums, this was a band hell bent on making this chilly Thursday night, a memorable one.

Launching into Rain Wizard, from their self titled debut album, Frontman, Chris Robertson's opening roar of "here comes the rain", set the tone for the night straight away.  A brilliant Blind Man was followed by an ear splitting Me And Mary Jane from their new album Magic Mountain.  The energetic rhythm guitarist, Ben Wells, and bassist, Jon Lawhon, swap stage positions like men possessed.

On In My Blood, Robertson lets the crowd take stage singing the chorus.  The clearly moved singer tips his cap in appreciation.  A nice moment.  Another new song, Holding On...To Letting Go, gets the energy pumping again. Next, they get their Zeppelin out on the riff strewn, Maybe Someday, leaving the crowd gasping for breath.  The great thing about Black Stone Cherry's music is it's sincerity, it's guts, and how their songs take on a whole new meaning in a live setting.  Evidence of this is clearly seen on Remember Me, and the sublime, Like I Roll.

After Bad Luck And Hard Love, drummer John Fred Young gave a five minute masterclass, that was probably felt anywhere within a fifty mile radius.  Young reminds me of a human version of Animal from The Muppet's, but Robertson summed it up best by simply calling him a beast.  The band return and raise their glasses to their roots with Hollywood In Kentucky,brilliantly performed with a Southern swagger.  If anybody in the crowd thought the band were taking their foot off the gas, then they must of got the fright of their lives for what was about to follow.  Bang - Boom - Bang - Cherry classics, White Trash Millionaire, Blame It On The Boom Boom and Lonely Train hits the crowd firmly between the eyes.  And just to finish us off, 30 Seconds Of Death Metal is the parting shot.


Encore, Peace Is Free, closes the night on an inspiring note.  An emotionally drained looking Robertson once again gives the Cherry faithful the mic, who pay him back with interest. Performances like this are proof that Black Stone Cherry are one of the best live acts around today.The quality of their music grows with every album release, and the chemistry between them is infectious.  These are four guys who have known each other since childhood and have a genuine bond.  And an even greater one with their audience.   Apart from this flawless performance, it was heartening to see a young audience at a proper rock show.  And also, to see them with their fists in the air, and not a sea of smart phones.  A memorable night.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

BLACK STATE HIGHWAY:ALBUM REVIEW.

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It's refreshing to get an album these days that's not overrun with the usual 13 or 14 tracks, and a glut of substandard bonus tracks.  So I was pleasantly surprised when Black State Highway's self titled debut album arrived at my door, containing just 8 tracks.  The saying quality over quantity without doubt applies here.

The Brighton based band introduce themselves with a riff happy blend of blues rock with a distinctive metal influence.  Lead vocalist Liva Steinberga immediately makes you sit up and take notice on opener Conclusion.  Her impressive range is more than a match for the Zeppelin-esque guitar on this groove laden rocker.  Lead off single, Ain't Got No, is more of the same and showcases  some impeccable drumming from Harry Bland.

On the atmospheric Broken, you get more than a hint of early Sabbath, with Steinberga once again excelling, especially on the chorus.  It's no coincidence that this band met at the Brighton Institute Of Modern Music, because their musical intelligence is blatantly evident here.  Guitarists Olie Trethwey and Yonnis Crampton make next track, Free, their own.  With a riff containing a healthy slice of Deep Purple's Black Night, but the distorted guitars puts their own stamp on it.


It's not just your 70's classic blues rock that's the chief influence on the album..Sacrifice leans a lot in the grunge direction, but is delivered with a hell of a lot more slickness and precision.  The raunchy Tekkers has a delicious meaty groove that is incessant throughout.  Gordon Duncan's brilliant bass line knits the whole song together perfectly.  Penultimate track, Common Man, more than tips it's hat to Southern rock with a relentless grinding riff.

Closer, Trouble, once again has Steinberga's voice dominating, which in truth is my only real criticism of this very impressive debut.  But this band are only going to get better.  Debut albums aren't meant to be perfect, but if this is just a taste of Black State Highway's talents, then I intend on tasting a lot more.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Albums Unleashed Motley Crue with John Corabi Part1 - Ep159

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We're back with the second installment of our Albums Unleashed series and it's been a long time coming but we truly believe it's been worth the wait.

John Corabi joins Aaron and Chris this week to discuss what is arguably one of the most underrated albums of all-time; Motley Crue's self-titled album from 1994. In part one of this discussion, John helps us lay the groundwork into the story of the album with stories of his audition process, pre-production for the album, and the maddening-yet-rewarding experience of working with legendary producer Bob Rock.

John also shares revelations into the decision-making process of Motley Crue at that time; choosing to abandon the previously-blazed path of lyrics about rock and roll decadence and focus on delivering an album that's powerful not only musically but thought-provoking in its exploration of dark social commenatary. Tracks discussed in part one of this discussion include 'Hammered,' 'Power to the Music,' 'Uncle Jack,' and 'Hooligan's Holiday.' Also covered in this episode is information on John's current plans to perform the Motley album in-full at select upcoming dates with his band that includes guitarists Jeremy Asbrock, Josh Dutoit, bassist Topher Nolen and John's son Ian Corabi.

Next week we return to the track by track of the remainder of the album and it promises not to disappoint as John is very forthcoming in sharing the impetus for each song, it's process of creation, and his thoughts on them in hindsight.

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John Corabi
Motley Crue

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Louder Than Life Festival photos

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The first ever Louder Than Life festival made its debut in Louisville, Ky. on Oct.4th and 5th 2014. While huge music festivals are no stranger to this city, Louder Than Life was a first of it's kind....a "Music, Whisky and Gourmet Man Food Festival." Louisville, has always been the home to the successful Forecastle hipster festival (insert puke noises here), so to hear that a hard rock/heavy metal festival was coming to town almost seemed to good to be true. The festival was success with a reported 37,000 people from all over country (and world for that matter) attending the 2 day party. We had a blast at Louder Than Life and can't wait for it to return next year. I could spend a few hours at this keyboard telling you everything about this festival BUT, I'm not going to. I think we will just share some of the best shots that we took over the weekend.

Kind of just tell a story through pictures I guess. We did not get a chance to get pictures of every band because we were too busy eating great food, drinking LOTS of beer and watching some badass sets by some badass bands!  Anyways, you get the point. In the interest of keeping this short and sweet I'll just leave you with my pictures. Thanks to Ashton-Magnuson Media for the hospitality. Enjoy!.....


 










Paul Stanley Is Wrong, And He Know's It.

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Paul Thinks Catman Is No. 1
At a certain point we all get to see behind the curtain and find what we thought was a mystical or divine entity is nothing but a little old man and a projector.  Much to the chagrin of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, we’ve all seen behind the curtain of KISS.  We’ve seen the cracks in the mirrored guitar and the wrinkles in the makeup.  As much as they have to be aware of this, Gene and Paul go forth as if we don’t know what they look like without makeup.
 
 
 
One of the more recent examples of outward delusion has been Paul’s insistence that if he could do it over he would’ve had Eric Carr wear Peter’s Criss’ makeup and Vinnie Vincent would’ve worn Ace Frehley’s.  Well that's just stupid.  And he knows it.  Yet he still says it.  Why?  Well he does this for one of two reasons. 

1)   Like many rock stars whose days of relevance is over a decade behind him, he truly is so immersed in the bullshit his hangers on feed him that he can’t see the reality that his days of being looked to for more than nostalgia are over.

 

2)   It helps justify the decision to do that with current Ace and Peter understudies Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. 

 




I Think You Mean "Starchild" (KISS)
His basic argument is based on the premise that it’s working now and the opposite didn’t work then.  To that I say:  Post Hoc Ergo Proctor Hoc!  It's revisionist bullshit that fits the current storyline.  And he knows it.  KISS was a sinking ship in 1980.  And it wasn’t because Eric Carr was a Fox and not a Cat.  Dressing Eric as Peter would’ve only turned off even more fans.  And Paul knows it.  He knew it so much that I doubt it even crossed his mind at the time.  By 1979 KISS’ peak was behind them.  I doubt the teenagers who got stoned listening to KISS Alive! were enamored with KISS bed sheets and garbage cans.  Dynasty simultaneously sold well while also starting the decline of KISS.  Unmasked was pretty much ignored and to follow that up with a serious concept album by men in greasepaint?  Did they really think cutting their hair and switching from platform boots to standard high heels would make people respect them more? 
 
As much as their career seemed to be tanking, there was still reason to believe it could be turned around.  They weren’t even at the 8 year mark of being a band when the Elder came out.   They were replacing a member of the band not an actor in a play.  KISS’ popularity was waning because of many things.  Punk, disco, new wave were all hitting during this time.  The economy was in the tank.  I really doubt having Eric Carr in Peter’s cat makeup would’ve made Creatures sell better any more than pretending Ace was still in the band did.  And imagine the reaction the few fans they had left in 1982 would have reacted to Vinnie Vincent dressed in Ace’s costume and makeup.  It would’ve made an already dire time worse.  Again.  Paul knows it. 

Hey.  Who are those guys?

 
Paul also talks of how each character is internationally recognized.  While he is right, the bulk of the people he’s talking about can’t name a song and wouldn’t be able to pick the original 4 out of a picture of all six characters KISS has had.  In other words, the people who would know, would prefer Tommy and Eric had their own make up.  And the people who don’t know would have no idea they were new anyways.  While I doubt he’s lost much sleep thinking about my thoughts on the situation I can say I find it a bit offensive both he and Gene seem more concerned with what the Diane Sawyer's of the world think than what I think.
 
 
He can pretend it’s about 4 characters all he wants, but the truth is when they reunited in 1996 it wasn’t Demon and Starchild getting back together with Spaceman and Catman.  It was Gene, Peter, Ace and Paul.  There is plenty of evidence to back that up.  Again.  Paul knows it.  Unlike 1980, KISS is very much a nostalgia act now.  This next generation of fans they like to brag about are largely children of fans of the band who have grown up and insist that their kids see KISS.  And why wouldn’t a kid want to?  KISS is fun.  Make up and costumes and fire.  Fuck yeah.  But they will never have the same passion.  So while I don’t like what they are doing I do understand it and have come to accept it.  But it’s time Paul stopped talking like we’re all stupid.  He talks of a time when he and Gene are replaced.  Paul.  That time is now.  There are KISS tribute bands all over the world.  Some of them pretty advanced.  And none of them are selling out arena’s at 60 bucks a pop.  Paul knows it. 
 
 
They can dress up Eric and Tommy as Ace and Peter now and get away with it for one reason.  People don’t care as much as they once did.  I’m in the group that is against it.  But even I have to admit when I first heard they were doing, it didn’t register much more than an eye roll.  My reaction would’ve been much stronger when Eric Carr joined or when Vinnie Vincent suddenly appeared.  So if someone who actually gives a shit doesn’t care that much, there will be plenty of people afraid to let go that will drink the blood colored Kool-Aid you are serving when you make these stupid remarks.  That’s right.  Paul knows it.
 
 
He’s not an idiot.  He is very aware of what he’s doing.  Politicians call it spin.  I call it bullshit.  And I have a personal message for Paul.
 
Paul.  Baby.  It’s me.  Bakko.  We met in 1995 at the Bloomington KISS Konvention.  Well maybe you don’t remember but it was a pretty big deal to me.  But I digress.  By your own admission and volition you have been in therapy most of your life.  I don’t think it’s working.  You have gotten everything you’ve ever wanted.  You've achieved everything you ever dreamed of.  You pretty much run KISS.  You basically built your own cash machine.  You seem to have a wonderful family.  Your kids get to be the entitled pieces of shit you resented growing up.  You’re in the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame man.  Yet you will minimize yourself just for the chance to kick Ace and Peter.  That’s fucking crazy man.  At the end of the day is it your intention to come off as petty and bitter?  Fuck sakes man, you’re in your 60’s.  Let it go.    
 
KISS has in many ways defined me for the last 37 years.  You don’t owe me anything.  I can honestly say my life is better because of KISS.  And the influence you personally have had on my life is immeasurable.  But I know what you’re doing and I know why.  And you should know that.    
 
Love, Bakko
 
Bakko and Paul St.. I mean, Starchild
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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