Teach’em All – A High School Tribute To Metallica artwork revealed

From High School Tributes:

Teach’em All - A High School Tribute To Metallica artwork

I talked to my friend Patrice Beaudette at High School Tributes and he told me that the album is coming along great. The kids are in the studio now and that an official press release, tracklisting, and final artwork will all be revealed in the next couple of weeks.

If you’ve never heard about this project, search the HMA archives, and album review page, for reviews on the previous tribute projects for KISS (Christine Sixteen & Christine Sixteen 2). You can get the latest information by watching this site or by visiting High School Tributes directly. This will be a limited edition release again so don’t wait to order!

— Steve

Ted Nugent – Love Grenade (2007)

Ted Nugent - Love Grenade (2007)

Ted Nugent – Love Grenade (2007, Eagle Rock)

  1. Love Grenade
  2. Still Raising Hell
  3. Funk U
  4. Girl Scout Cookies
  5. Journey To The Center Of The Mind
  6. Geronimo & Me
  7. Eagle Brother
  8. Spirit Of The Buffalo
  9. Aborigine
  10. Stand
  11. Broadside
  12. Bridge Over Troubled Daughters
  13. Lay With Me

Band Lineup:
Ted Nugent – Guitar, Vocals
Barry Sparks – Bass
Tommy Clufetos – Drums
Jack Blades – Bass

Produced by: Jack Blades & Ted Nugent

Total Time – 57:58

Ted Nugent official website
Ted Nugent on MySpace

It’s been a long time since I’ve really enjoyed a new Ted Nugent studio album. I started on my journey to the wild with Uncle Ted back in 1986 with LITTLE MISS DANGEROUS and I went backwards into the discography. While the older material is classic, Ted and company seemed to go downhill from ’86 on as the Hard Rock scene got a little softer and glammier. Comebacks abound, CRAVEMAN (2002) was a leap into a return to form but Ted has saved his best, and all the fun, for the explosive LOVE GRENADE.

The album kicks of with the fiery title track and you realize right away that Uncle Ted hasn’t lost the fire at 59 years young. Opening with a hard guitar intro that blends into the main riff, you know the man means business. Parts of this song sound a bit similar to the classic ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ but you have to really listen for it. ‘Still Raising Hell’ kicks things up a notch and gets the party started with a blazing riff and catchy chorus. It’s a barnburner of a track that states Ted’s back on the attack.

Put the title aside, ‘Funk U’ is another hellraiser speed track that Ted screams all over. Should a guy pushing 60 still sound so good? Solid solo and the band is tight as hell, of course Ted put’s in a great chorus that bound to be a crowd favorite. My favorite song on the album is the blues-based ‘Girl Scout Cookies’. Slow, bluesy, and very ZZ Top, the song takes two All-American products (Girl Scout Cookies & Ted) and becomes a Nugent tongue in cheek, innuendo filled, classic song. Ted never hid his tastes for very young women and you just have to laugh at the man’s audacity. Best lyric of the album: ‘I like the Thin Mints, ’cause nobody likes a FAT mint’…..priceless! I could do without the redone Amboy Dukes classic, ‘Journey To The Center Of The Mind’ but it’s done well. It gallops along the a harder main riff but it still retains it’s ’60s roots, most noticeably with the background vocals.

Looking at the titles ‘Geronimo  & Me’, ‘Eagle Brother’, and ‘Spirit Of The Buffalo’, you kind of get the idea of where Ted the Hunter is going. The man likes the young ladies but he likes his hunting and freedom even more. The three songs form a concept of sorts, all being separate but an extension of each other. ‘Geronimo & Me’ is fast paced and is all about Ted’s independence compared with his American Indian brothers, the man could continue to make album after album just using this topic alone. It’s got a good hook and the chorus is catchy, the title may give the wrong impression because it’s a good song. The song flows right into the instrumental ‘Eagle Brother’ and it’s a good way for the band as a whole to show off it’s chops. How many songs does Nugent have with the word “buffalo” in it? ‘Spirit Of The Buffalo’ continues in the nature, freedom, American Indian, frontier themes but there’s something to the song that keeps it from being filler. It’s a mid-paced track and Ted does a sad bluesy solo while naming all sorts of Indian tribes. If you can get by the title and subject matter, it’s a good song but not great. I guess you could also throw ‘Aborigine’ in with these three because the theme is the same. Another Nuge barnburner with the basic riff mirroring the chorus. This is a fun tune actually, Ted doing some different voices on the chorus. It’s simple, basic and primal and I guess that;s the point.

‘Stand’ is another soapbox for Ted’s views on people, politics, and the world. Another rocker but the subject matter may turn some people off. I like it, sometimes Ted is at his best when he lets his beliefs guide his creativity. ‘Broadside’ is another rockin’ tune with a cleaner guitar line and a major hook. Almost sounds like a Damn Yankees cast-off, not surprising with Jack Blades involvement.

Does anyone write songs about nailing young women better than Ted Nugent? Maybe Gene Simmons? ‘Bridge Over Troubled Daughters’ is the partner to the previous ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ but it’s not as good. I get the parody on the Simon & Garfunkel title but the song has filler written all over it. More filler with the bluesy ‘Lay With Me’, it sounds like bad ZZ Top and bad ted Nugent. A few good solos in ther but I could have done without it.

Cover 2A nice little extra that came with the pre-order was the inclusion of the limited edition artwork. Of course, I paid a little more for the CD ordering direct from TedNugent.com but I did receive my CD day of release. Inside there is another picture of the same woman in a school girl outfit on a platter on the tray card and the artwork on the CD is a cartoon version of the above picture.

Bottom Line:
The Motor City Madman is back and full of attitude and guts. I didn’t expect this album to be bad or good, just middle of the road. My expectations were exceeded and I really enjoy the whole album, aside from the last two songs and the instrumental. Actually, when you listen to the album as a whole, those songs blend in well and really aren’t bad, more like average filler. This one is a surprising contender to make my Top 10 of 2007 on the strength of the sneak attack Ted engineered. Favorite songs: ‘Love Grenade’, ‘Girl Scout Cookies’, ‘Funk U’, ‘Geronimo & Me’, and ‘Stand’.

All That Remains – Live DVD (2007)

All That Remains - Live DVD (2007)

All That Remains – Live DVD (2007, Prosthetic/Razor & Tie)

Live In Baltimore:

  1. Become The Catalyst
  2. This Darkened Heart
  3. The Air That I Breathe
  4. Six
  5. For Salvation
  6. Tattered On My Sleeve
  7. The Weak Willed
  8. Not Alone
  9. It Dwells In Me
  10. Focus Shall Not Fail
  11. Indictment
  12. This Calling

Live In Philadelphia:

  1. Become The Catalyst
  2. This Darkened Heart
  3. Six
  4. Not Alone
  5. It Dwells In Me
  6. For Salvation
  7. Tattered On My Sleeve
  8. Regret Not
  9. We Stand
  10. Indictment

Bonus Material:

  • ATR Fans
  • Guitar Hero 2 – Oli vs. Mike
  • History Of The Band
  • Life On The Tour Bus
  • Autograph Sessions
  • Photo Slideshow 1
  • Photo Slideshow 2

Music Videos:

  1. The Air That I Breathe
  2. Behind The Scenes of ‘The Air That I Breathe’
  3. This Calling
  4. Tattered On My Sleeve
  5. This Darkened Heart
  6. The Deepest Gray
  7. Not Alone

All That Remains

Band Lineup:
Philip Labonte – Vocals
Oli Hebert – Guitar
Mike Martin – Guitar
Jeanne Sagan – Bass
Jason Costa – Drums

(Region 1, NTSC, Running Time = N/A)

All That Remains official website
All That Remains MySpace page
Razor & Tie Records
Prosthetic Records

I went into this DVD only knowing the name All That Remains rather than what the band actually sounded like. Living in Rhode Island, that’s odd for me because I usually have a good idea of what’s going on in the New England Metal scene. All That Remains comes from Boston, Massachusetts (my backyard) and they play many local dates among bills that have been in larger venues like Ozzfest and Sounds Of The Underground. Not only that but their last studio album, THE FALL OF IDEALS (2006) has exceeded 100,000 units sold and is closing in fast on 150,000! All That Remains is also featured on the GUITAR HERO video game and MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. With all this success, and the band’s close homebase, it’s surprising that I haven’t come across their music.

When I pressed PLAY, I watched a serious and energetic performance from The Recher Theatre in Baltimore with fan reaction before and after. Knowing nothing about the music, I was immeadiately drawn in by Phil Labonte (ex-Shadows Fall) commanding presence at the mic and the guitar dueling of Oli Hebert and Mike Martin. Songs like ‘Six’, Tattered On My Sleeve’, and ‘Indictment’ are explosive and just make the crowd go wilder as evidenced by the pit and the floor that never stops moving and is slam packed. Interviews after the show reveal a list for the ER: broken feet, fingers, cuts, bruises, sprains…..all with an undying enthusiasm for All That Remains.

The concert from Philadelphia, at The Theatre Of Living Arts, is slightly shorter but no less powerful. ‘Become The Catalyst’, ‘This Darkened Heart’, and ‘Not Alone’ pound the audience into a frenzy. The crowd eats up the band’s blend of Hardcore and Melodic Death Metal and responds like Baltimore: more broken bones, cuts, bruises…..to be young again! Not sure I’d venture into the pit!

For someone that had no clue about the band, the inclusion of six videos, backstage footage, and interviews really helped me get an idea of who the band are and what there studio albums sound like. My favorite extra is the fans…..hearing how they react before and after the two concerts, at the meet and greets, etc is truly what being a Metal fan is all about.

Bottom Line:
If you like All That Remains, this is essential to your collection. If you’ve just discovered the band, this DVD is a great introduction. For me, this was a great way to discover a new band (to me, they have three albums!) and become a fan. This DVD was just released on October 30th and is well worth the money spent…..now I have to spend some more and get their studio albums.

Monster Ballads Xmas (2007)

Monster Ballads Xmas (2007)

Monster Ballads Xmas (2007, Razor & Tie Records)

Tracklisting (song – artist/band):

  1. Jingle Bells – Skid Row
  2. Happy Christmas (War Is Over) – Winger
  3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Jani Lane
  4. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Twisted Sister w/Lita Ford
  5. White Christmas – Queensryche
  6. Run Rudolph Run – L.A. Guns
  7. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Firehouse
  8. Naughty Naughty Christmas – Danger Danger
  9. Blue Christmas – Tom Keifer
  10. Jingle Bell Rock – Nelson
  11. Silent Night – Faster Pussycat
  12. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Dokken
  13. Happy Holiday – Enuff Z’nuff
  14. Winter Wonderland – Stryper
  15. Christmas Love – Billy Idol

Total Time – 55:49

Razor & Tie Records
Monster Ballads Xmas on MySpace

Want a little Hard Rock injected into your holiday season? Razor & Tie Records has the answer…..Monster Ballads Xmas. The result is a combination of the multi-platinum Monster Ballads CDs and Twisted Sister – A TWISTED CHRISTMAS (2006) with some of the biggest names in ’80s Hard Rock: Skid Row, Winger, Queensryche, Dokken and many more.

Skid Row does a Hard Rock/Punk-ish version of ‘Jingle Bells’ while Winger keeps ‘Happy Christmas (War Is Over)’ almost exactly to the John Lennon original. I’m very impressed with Kip Winger’s voice, it is still strong through the years and he really does a great job on this track keeping within the original framework of the song. The Skids are just having fun and that’s what it’s all about on this record.

Jani Lane (formerly of Warrant) performs ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. He starts of slow and ballady and then rocks it up. I was a little surprised that he sang the song so well because I always took him as a yelper with Warrant. Twisted Sister and Lita Ford appear after Jani with ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ from last year’s A TWISTED CHRISTMAS. There had to be a song included from that album because it was a surprising success this time last year. I’m just glad that this song was included instead of last year’s single ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, ‘I’ll Be Home…..’ was one of the highlights of that album and it’s good to hear Lita Ford back on record.

Queensryche’s version of ‘White Christmas’ is extremely good and stays almost exact to the original, save for the electric guitars of course! Geoff Tate hits the high notes with ease and lends this traditional song a power it’s never had. I could do without the L.A. Guns version of ‘Run Rudolph Run’…..it’s good but I just can’t get around Phil Lewis’ voice. The song itself isn’t bad, just a matter of personal taste I guess.

‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’, sung by Brenda Lee, is one of my favorite holiday tunes and Firehouse add some guitar solos to beef the song up. A couple of quick lyric changes and you have a new Hard Rock version a holiday classic. Danger Danger’s ‘Naughty Naughty Christmas’ was featured in the movie Santa Clause 2 in 2002 and now featured here on this album. It’s a play on their big hit, ‘Naughty Naughty’ (1989), and it’s pretty good but all I can think about is the original song. Another fun song though.

Tom Keifer (Cinderella) does a bluesy Hard Rock version of ‘Blue Christmas’ that’s much better than the Elvis version you hear all the time. Is it me or does Tom’s backing band sound like the Saturday Night Live Band with G.E. Smith? I’m not cracking on the band here, I’m paying a compliment actually because I always thought that band was solid! Just like ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’, ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ is another traditional favorite of mine this time of year and the Nelson brothers really Rock it up. Very uptempo with some big drums and solos, the guys still have great harmonies.

So far the album is solid, even the L.A. Guns track, but every album has one dud on it. In this case, it’s the slow industrial version of ‘Silent Night’ that Faster Pussycat turn in. Would anyone want to hear Nine Inch Nails do Xmas tunes? What about a bad NIN cover band? That’s what this sounds like. Aside from the lyrics, there is no sense of the original song. The album seems to be interrupted by this song but there’s always the SKIP button!

Dokken metalizes ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ with the main riff from ‘Dream Warriors’…..kind of a creepy combination but unique. Dokken is a personal fave of mine so I dig it but the harmonies aren’t there like they used to be. The harmonies are present in Enuff Znuff’s ‘Happy Holiday’, an song that was written originally for the Home Alone 2: Lost In New York movie soundtrack. Decent tune, tons of melody and harmony. The song isn’t on the original soundtrack (I actually have a copy!) so I’m not sure if this is it’s first release, damn good though.

Stryper’s ‘Winter Wonderland’ comes from the 2003 live album 7 WEEKS: LIVE IN AMERICA 2003 and is also on the 2000 reissue of TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL (1986) and the REASON FOR THE SEASON E.P. (1985). Not sure what the original sounds like on the the E.P. or the reissue but the song is OK live. ‘Christmas Love’ was previously released last year on Billy Idol’s holiday album, HAPPY HOLIDAYS: A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS ALBUM. Odd to hear Billy doing Christmas tunes but it’s cool and one of my faves on this CD. Now I have to go out and track that holiday CD!

Bottom Line:
MONSTER BALLADS XMAS is a fun record for the holiday season much in the same way A TWISTED CHRISTMAS last year. I like all the songs except for the Faster Pussycat – ‘Silent Night’ industrial fiasco and the L.A. Guns song is good just not a favorite due to personal taste. Overall, a fun addition to get into the holiday spirit. Favorite songs: ‘Happy Christmas (War Is Over)’ – Winger, ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ – Twisted Sister w/Lita Ford, ‘White Christmas’ – Queesryche, and ‘Christmas Love’ – Billy Idol.

Press Release: Iron Maiden – Live After Death DVD details and release dates

From IronMaiden.com

Iron Maiden - Eddie (1985)

Finally available on DVD for the first time, EMI/New Door Records/UMe are proud to announce the eagerly awaited release of the Double Disc DVD of Live After Death, the legendary recording of Maiden’s four night stand at Long Beach Arena, California, in 1984. In the stores February 4th, 2008 (Worldwide) and February 5th (U.S.), the release will coincide with the start of the band’s Somewhere Back In Time World Tour on which they will recreate many of the aspects of this original and spectacular show.

Disc one contains the recording of this full 90 minute concert. Originally filmed on 35mm, the footage comes alive on DVD resulting in a visually stunning film that far outstrips the usual live video of the ‘80’s. The disc carries two sound options – the original concert audio specially mixed into 5.1 Surround Sound by Kevin Shirley, Maiden’s producer since 1999, plus the original stereo sound track by Martin Birch, the band’s producer from 1981 to 1993. Originally released on video in 1985, this has been largely unavailable for the past 20 years

Disc two has Part 2 of the History Of Iron Maiden, continuing on the Maiden story from The Early Days DVD, along with rare and unseen bonus footage in the form of Behind The Iron Curtain, Rock In Rio ’85, And ‘Ello Texas, all in all giving a total running time of well over three hours. Plus of course the photo galleries, relevant promo videos, artwork galleries, tour dates, tour program and other features which all combine to make Maiden DVDs a very special and utterly comprehensive treat for their fans.

Manager Rod Smallwood explained: “The original video of Live After Death has not been readily available for a long time so its good that we finally got around to this. lt was one of the first full concerts to be filmed after the advent of video and of course the live album, recorded on a different night to the video, has long been considered to be one of the seminal Metal live albums and has sold millions since. Fans have been begging us to do this DVD for some time now but we wanted to wait until we were able to recreate that whole tour to go with it and also to make it part of a series of DVDs that we are putting together around the band’s history. And of course we are making sure that now we have got to it we will be giving the fans everything we can find from that period!!”

Iron Maiden - Live After Death DVD

Full List Of Contents:

Disc 1 – Live After Death
Live After Death concert with Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio (90 minutes)

Set list – ‘Churchill Speech/Aces High’, ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Revelations’, ‘Flight Of Icarus’, ‘Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’, ‘Powerslave’, ‘Number Of The Beast’, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’, ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Run To The Hills’, ‘Running Free’,
‘Sanctuary’.

Disc 2 – Documentary / Bonus Concert Footage
1. The History of Iron Maiden – Part 2 (60 mins) – Documentary.
Band members, crew, friends and associates talk about the period in the band’s career which saw the writing, recording and release of the Powerslave album, and later Live After Death, and the subsequent massive touring. And not just the serious side!!
2. Behind the Iron Curtain ( 57 mins approx) Documentary and Live – shot during Maiden’s historic tour of Poland and other parts to the Eastern Bloc in 1984 featuring interviews, live and offstage footage capturing the atmosphere of this remarkable journey behind the Wall at the height of the Cold War.
3. Live Footage – Rock in Rio ’85 (50 mins approx) The full Maiden set supporting QUEEN on the first day of the first Rock in Rio in front of 300,000 manic metal fans. A bloody and stirring performance!! Songs performed include –
‘Aces High’, ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Revelations’, ‘Powerslave’, ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Run To The Hills’, ‘Running Free’.
4. ‘Ello Texas – 15 minutes – Interview and live. Caught by a film crew in 1983 at the Alamo and sound checking their show in San Antonio.
5. Artwork Gallery, Tour Program, Tour dates and photo gallery
6. Promotional clips for ‘Aces High’ and ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’

Subtitles for All documentary footage – PAL version – English HOH / Dutch / French / German / Italian / Swedish / Portuguese / Spanish NTSC Version – English HOH / Brazilian Portguese / Latin Spanish

Background historical information :
Live After Death was filmed and recorded towards the tail end of ‘The World Slavery Tour’ over a record breaking four sold out nights at Los Angeles’ 13,200 capacity Long Beach Arena. Featuring tracks from their first five albums both the album and video topped the international charts around the world. The tour opened in Warsaw in August 1984 and concluded in Los Angeles July 1985. It covered 193 concerts in 21 countries, including an incredible 112 arena shows in just the USA and Canada (both where the album went Platinum), and saw the band playing to over a million fans in North America alone. This was the most ambitious, longest and most grueling tour Maiden ever experienced.

As the second installment to 2004’s international chart topping The Early Days DVD The Second Disc features the highly anticipated The History Of Iron Maiden Part II which gives an insight, humorous and otherwise, into the making of the record as well as exploring the creativity and the background pressures created through the sheer hard work and the physical toll that comes with success at this level for a touring band.

 Steve Harris on the Powerslave Tour 1985

Also packed in on the second disc are more extras with three more rare and unseen gems from the period :-

Behind The Iron Curtain, which was first released in April 1985 as a 35 minute video documentary, illustrates the quite remarkable story of how Iron Maiden became the first major band from the West to play large arenas in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Hungary at a time when these markets were still very much “Behind the Iron Curtain”. This 57 minute DVD version features a lot of extra footage not included on the original retail release. Prior to this DVD the only time it had been seen was on a special MTV airing in 1984. With complete access on the tour, filmmaker and director Kenny Fueurman, gives the viewer a candid insight into the world of Maiden at this groundbreaking time in their career. It also contains interviews with some of the thousands of fans who attended their shows, and their reaction to having Maiden play there for the first time despite their album being out of reach in the old Eastern Bloc countries, where at the time it would cost almost a month’s wages! Also included is the infamous incident of the band gate crashing an unsuspecting private wedding party and becoming the evenings ‘entertainment’ in return for a Polish vodka or three!

Extensive research allowed the producers to retrieve footage of highlights from the band’s biggest ever show when they played in Brazil to a sea of rock fans estimated to be somewhere between 250,000 to 350,000 on the first night of the first Rock In Rio festival in February 1985. Maiden went on just prior to headliners Queen and cemented their place in the heart of South American fans. Despite best endeavors this 50 minutes clip of extremely rare concert footage is admittedly not in the greatest shape and in parts was beyond repair, but at the request of fans hungry for a record of the historical performance, it has been included in the package as a special bonus.

Another small but also previously unavailable 15 minute feature is ‘Ello Texas, which gives a candid glimpse of Iron Maiden performing to the US audiences with further band interview footage at the Alamo. Historically this recording from 1983 should have been included In 2004’s Early Days DVD but it only came to light during research for this Live After Death DVD and is included now for interest.

In essence, Live After Death, the double disc DVD gives over five hours of content, giving the most complete and in depth exploration of Iron Maiden during what was considered their most pivotal album and tour of their long and distinguished history. The February 5th DVD release coincides with the start of the recently announced Somewhere Back in Time World Tour 2008 which opens in India at the beginning of February.

Angra – Fireworks (1998)

Angra - Fireworks (1998)

Angra – Fireworks (1998, Century Media)

  1. Wings Of Reality
  2. Petrified Eyes
  3. Lisbon
  4. Metal Icarus
  5. Paradise
  6. Mystery Machine
  7. Fireworks
  8. Extreme Dream
  9. Gentle Change
  10. Speed
  11. Rainy Nights (bonus track)

Band Lineup:
André Matos – Vocals
Kiko Loureiro – Guitars
Rafael Bittencourt – Guitars
Luis Mariutti – Bass
Ricardo Confessori – Drums

Producer: Chris Tsangarides

Total Time – 1:02:45

Angra official website
Angra MySpace page

Brazil’s Angra have been one of my favorite Power/Progressive Metal since this album’s release in 1998. I was new to the Internet and I tapped into a few Metal websites (that are now gone) and one of the big topics was Angra. Aside from Sepultura, I’d say Angra is one of the most popular Metal bands to come from Brazil and, not knowing anything about the band, I figured that their location made them different enough to check out.

Leadoff song, ‘Wings Of Reality’, is a major Power Metal feast akin to the likes of Helloween, Gamma Ray, and Hammerfall. Lightning quick guitars, double bass drumming, and high end vocals are the signature Power Metal ingredients but there is some fine orchestration and piano mixed in. Of course, there is plenty of time for solos and they are superb. ‘Petrified Eyes’ slows down with the opening instrumental and then speeds into the main riff. André Matos puts in another vocal exercise in precision while the guitar weave in and out. As with many Power/Progressive bands, Angra balances both well during the song. ‘Petrified Eyes’ slows down towards the chorus and also mid-song. There is major riffing here but the guitars are so clear that you can easily separate both.

‘Lisbon’ makes good use or orchestration and acoustics to support the sound. It’s a slower song, a heavy ballad, that is full of melody and retains heaviness in a simpler approach. The orchestration adds a layer but doesn’t overpower, it actually makes the song a bit more radio-friendly and accessible while retaing it’s epic appeal. Forget the orchestration and head straight for a Metal assault with ‘Metal Icarus’. The opening is a dual guitar intro that bleeds into the main riff. The song just cruises along with the guitars and drums just driving Matos to another soaring vocal performance. The chorus seems repetitive and the song changes time for the solos, which are still very fast. Listen to Ricardo Confessori’s drumming come the solo break, you can feel the double bass and cymbals crashing.

Another guitar laden intro opens ‘Paradise’, add in a bit of orchestration to the mix, and you think you’re going to another fast song but…..to my ears ‘Paradise’ is almost like a Lana Lane song. That’s not a bad comparison, or maybe an accurate one, but that’s what I hear. The main riff is more traditional in sound like Judas Priest and then drops to something different at the bridge. The chorus is a totally different pace from the main riff. By the middle of the song, everything has changed for the solos and instrumental bits. There is a lot of melody and the vocals high powered, I can easily sing right along and enjoy myself but I get a bit lost musically because there is a lot going on here.

‘Mystery Machine’ starts out with another instrumental opening and barrels into more of a traditional Power Metal song. Very Helloween, very Iron Maiden, in approach and that is refreshing after some of the confusion of ‘Paradise’. During the solo, the guitars sound very Maiden-ish due to the harmony. What I really like is the in your face vocals at the bridge and chorus, Matos doesn’t go for the high end as musch and pushes his straight power. The title track is my favorite: ‘Fireworks’ is more accessible than the previous songs, it’s slower and has a simpler approach focusing on the melody. I could call this mid-tempo or a ballad but what I like most is when the song picks up towards the end to a quick gallop and then just stops for the guitar solo. The vocals follow the gallop and really send the song soaring. There is some keyboards used to enhhance the sound and the mood. Everytime I hear this song I think of watching the night sky, not for fireworks but for stars. The lyrics are positive, upbeat, a little poppy but very catchy.

‘Extreme Dream’ immeadiately picks the pace back up but then settles down as the song continues. This constant pace change can be a little annoying at times but Angra balances this with good melody and harmony. There’s not much of it here on ‘Extreme Dream’, the song seems to be constructed more more the instrumental side of things, really focusing on the guitar flashes of Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt. Actually, the whole album has fine guitar work but this songs seems to be constructed just for that purpose. The song also seems to be like a part two to the previous song at times…..I usually skip this one.

Another favorite song of mine is ‘Gentle Change’, probably one of the most ’80s flavored and pop-oriented songs you’ll ever hear from a band with Angra’s pedigree. There is heavy guitar here but the underlying acoustics and scaled back drumming added with the piano/keyboards give the song a different dimension, a total different feel. I want to call this Hard Rock actually. The song takes on a beautiful quality to the sound: the piano, the vocals, the lyrics, the melodies…..my wife likes this song and she has no idea who Angra is! I have every Angra album and this is a very different song from anything else I think they’ve done before and after this album. This song is essentially about the break-up of the current lineup of the band that would happen after this album’s release. It’s interesting that the band creates such a great song out of the demise of this lineup.

‘Speed’ is what you expect…..speed! A blistering guitar intro opens, the bass and drums kick in and continues staright through the song. Very straight forward Power Metal hear with the time change mid-song for the solos. Every edition of the album I’ve seen has ‘Rainy Nights’ as a bonus track. Not sure why but that’s what it is. Maybe it’s because the song is unlike any other on the album, it’s more of a dance song than anything else. From the first time I heard it to almost 10 years later, I can only think of dance clubs and techno music. Brazil has a major dance club scene in the major cities so I could see how Angra could be influenced by this but the song just sounds too processed. The drums can’t be Ricardo Confessori and have to be a drum machine because they are just on a continuous loop that never changes. The keyboards and orchestration are distracting and more “danceable” than Metal. Maybe this song was aimed at airplay in their home country and South America? Not sure but it just seems out of place on this record.

Bottom Line:
A great album! I reach for this record more than any other in the Angra discography probably because this was my first introduction to the band. There is enough good music here to satisfy fans of all styles of Metal but especially Power and Progressive. Musically, the guitars drive the album and there is a good balance between straight forward Metal and the orchestrational aspects. This album also cemented Matos as one of my favorite Power Metal vocalists, his performace is excellent. Favorite songs here: ‘Gentle Change’, ‘Wings Of Reality’, ‘Lisbon’, and ‘Fireworks’. Unfortunately, this album was the swansong of this lineup with Rafael and Kiko retaining Angra and Matos, Confessori, and Mariutti moving on to form Shaman.

Ebay Madness – Guns N’ Roses Edition

We are going to spotlight some GnR auctions this time around. Just to get the “appetite” wet, let’s look at…..

Guns N’ Roses – Lies sealed in longbox ends at $110.29!
GnR - Lies in longbox for $110.29
I can easily get my hands on one of these and I think it’s high time I went out and got it. I have seen LIES in a longbox at a local shop for the last 6 years, it just sits there collecting dust at $15. This seller, Zenguitar, has over 2300+ feedback and this auction received 10 bids with a start price of $7.99. I still don’t get the idea of having a sealed longbox, it’s a new niche in CD collecting though.

This is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to GnR CDs on Ebay recently. People are selling rare and common GnR CDs for high prices, some sellers are doing to it exclusively just like this one: cdlewis (New Jersey, USA) with 1164 feedback. Keep in mind that the following five auctions all ended on October 20, 2007 between 1:11pm and 1:22pm, we’ll do a breakdown at the end…..

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction (Japanese CD 1st pressing) ends at $100!
GnR - Appetite CD Japan 1st press for $100Very detailed auction, good closeup photos, and the OBI strip…..a very attractive item for collectors. I like that the seller included the serial number, collectors know these things. Started at $9.99 and had 21 bids.

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction (1990 Japanese CD with original artwork) sells for $100.99!
GnR - Appetite Japan CD 1990 w/orig. artwork for $100.99This seller is on a roll! Another Appetite CD, another $100! Very detailed again with the history behind the pressing, good closeups again but no OBI strip. The Japanese lyric sheet is included though. Started at $9.99 again and had 13 bids.

Guns N’ Roses – Lies (1988 Japanese CD 1st pressing) sells for $113.49!
GnR - Lies Japan CD 1988 1st pressing for $113.49I like this seller’s auctions, they are very good. Detailed again, closeups again, OBI again…..this guy seems to know his GnR pressing. $9.99 start price again and 7 bids but what I noticed is that the winner won the Appetite original artwork disc and was 2nd place on the Appetite 1st press CD. That’s a lot of money for winning two discs!

Guns N’ Roses – Live E.P. (1987 Japan only CD) still sealed and commands $416!
GnR - Live E.P. (1987 Japan only) still sealed for $416I’ve seen this disc go for high dollars but I haven’t seen it go this high in years! Reason? A bidder with zero feedback and on Ebay less than 30 days bid this CD way up. Is it a case of shill bidding by the seller? Maybe, maybe not…..it’s possible that the seller is going to be a victim and not get paid if the winning bidder is an actual person. Still a great collector’s find. This auction started at $9.99, had 23 bids, and the suspect winner started the price war around the $150 mark.

Guns N’ Roses – Live Like A Suicide EP. (Japan 3 inch CD bootleg) grabs $455.23!
GnR - Live Like A Suicide E.P. (Japan 3 inch CD bootleg) for $455.23From the auction itself:
Let’s get this out of the way: this is NOT an official release. Read that again: this is NOT an official Uzi Suicide label release.

So the same seller has a Japanese boot of the vinyl E.P. on CD and it gets over $455…..or does it? The same winning bidder that one the Live E.P. (above) is the winner on this auction too. This CD started at $9.99 like the others, got 34 bids, but this winning bidder started early at $25 and jacked up the price. If you compare both auctions, the bidders list has the same bidders on it except for a couple. Shill bidding, auction bots, or coincidence? For the sellers sake, I hope he gets his $455.23.

So let’s total up this seller’s final take:

  • 5 CDs
  • $49.95 in combined starting prices
  • 98 bids
  • $1185.71 in combined sales
  • 11 minutes

Not a bad day!

Reissue Report: Mortal Sin to reissue Mayhemic Destruction & Face Of Despair with bonus tracks

Australian thrash masters, Mortal Sin, are reissuing their first two albums with bonus tracks on Armageddon Music. MAYHEMIC DESTRUCTION (1987) & FACE OF DESPAIR (1989) are both being reissued as special 20th Anniversary versions, more information on the bonus tracks soon.

Mortal Sin also have a new album out on 11/16/07 called AN ABSENCE OF FAITH.

Mortal Sin official website
Mortal Sin on MySpace
Mortal Sin – An Absence Of Faith E-Card

Reissue Report: EMI Records to reissue UFO albums Phenomenon, No Heavy Petting, & Force It with bonus tracks 1/28/08

From the official UFO website:

EMI is set to re-issue UFO’s first three Chrysalis albums, with a provisional release date of January 28th, 2008.

The albums will contain the following bonus tracks:

Phenomenon: ‘Sixteen’ (Demo produced by Dave Edmunds}, ‘Oh My’ (Demo produced by Dave Edmunds), ‘Give Her The Gun’ (German non LP Chrysalis single A-side), ‘Sweet Little Thing’ (German non LP Chrysalis single B-side), ‘Sixteen’ (Previously unreleased studio track), ‘Doctor Doctor’ (Recorded live 06/06/74).

No Heavy Petting: ‘All Or Nothing’ (Previously unreleased studio track), ‘French Kisses’ (Previously unreleased studio track), ‘Have You Seen Me Lately Joan’ (Previously unreleased studio track), ‘Property’ (Previously unreleased studio track), ‘Sunset Lights’ (Previously unreleased studio track).

Force It: ‘A Million Miles’ (Previously unreleased studio track produced by Leo Lyons at Morgan Studios, Dec 17th 1973), ‘Mother Mary’ (Recorded live at the Paris Theater, London, 11/12/75), ‘Out In The Streets’ (Recorded live at the Paris Theater, London, 11/12/75), ‘Shoot Shoot’ (Recorded live at the Paris Theater, London, 11/12/75), ‘Let It Roll’ (Recorded live at the Roundhouse, London 25/4/76), ‘This Kid’s’ (Recorded live at the Roundhouse, London 25/4/76).

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I’ve been a member of the SITN (Strangers In The Night) Yahoogroup for years now and there has been a lot of talk in recent months of this project getting a proper release date. Finally, UFO’s back catalog will get a proper reissue with many bonus tracks, something collector’s like me really enjoy. The last really good CD reissue was the Japanese collection that came out on Toshiba-EMI/Chrysalis in 1999/2000, those are high quality and now out of print. Of course, I have all but two of them: Making Contact (1983) & Misdemeanor (1985)…..these are the two that command the highest prices on Ebay, etc. Of course, being a huge UFO fan and collector, I’ll buy them all again!

To keep up on UFO, please check out the following links:

UFO

Strangers In The Night (SITN)

SITN Yahoogroup

—– Steve