2009 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10

KISS pumpkin

(Read the 2010 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10)

My favorite time of year is here again…..Halloween!

A couple of years ago, I did the 2007 Heavy Metal Halloween Top 10. What I was trying to do was pick out some songs that were creepy, spooky and fit into the Halloween mood. Of course I left out a few obvious ones for my own personal picks. Last year I forgot to do one and I got a ton of email to do one for Halloween 2009 so I went through my collection again. I tried not to repeat any songs from the 2007 list, with one obvious exception, so here’s this year’s list (in no particular order except #1)…..

  1. Black Sabbath – ‘Black Sabbath’
  2. Helloween – ‘Halloween’
  3. King Diamond – ‘Halloween’
  4. Alice Cooper – ‘Killer’
  5. Ozzy Osbourne – ‘Mr. Crowley’
  6. Fastway – ‘Trick Or Treat’
  7. W.A.S.P. – ‘Scream Until You Like It’
  8. Helloween – ‘Escalation 666’
  9. King Diamond – ‘Voodoo’
  10. Iron Maiden – ’22 Acacia Avenue’

Bonus Track: Alice Cooper – ‘Keepin’ Halloween Alive’ (new song for Halloween 2009)

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009)


Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009, Bronx Born Records)

  1. Foxy & Free
  2. Outer Space
  3. Pain In The Neck
  4. Fox On The Run
  5. Genghis Khan
  6. Too Many Faces
  7. Change The World
  8. Space Bear
  9. A Little Below The Angels
  10. Sister
  11. It’s A Great Life
  12. Fractured Quantum

Ace Frehley – Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Anton Fig – Drums
Anthony Esposito – Bass
Derrek Hawkins – Rhythm Guitar (track 2)
Scot Coogan – Background Vocals (track 3)
Marti Frederiksen – Bass, Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Drums, Percussion, Strings & Background Vocals (tracks 4, 9 & 12)
Brian Tichy – Drums  (tracks 4 & 10)
Pearl Aday – Background Vocals (track 5)
Karl Kimmel – Background Vocals (track 5)
Jay Messina – Tracking (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6,7,8,11)
Rich Tozzoli – Overdubs (tracks 1,3,5,6,7,8,10, 11)
Alex Salzman – Tracking & Overdubs (tracks 2, 5, 9, 12)

Producers: Ace Frehley, Frank Munoz, & Marti Frederiksen (track 4)

Country: USA

Total Time = 54:46

Ace Frehley
Ace Frehley MySpace page
Ace Frehley Facebook page
Ace Frehley Twitter page

It’s been 20 long years since we had a new Ace Frehley album, October of 1989 was when TROUBLE WALKIN’ hit record store racks and KISS fans like myself bought their copy. Ace Frehley had been my favorite member of KISS for years so anytime Ace was in the spotlight after his departure from KISS I paid full attention. I was a big fan of Frehley’s Comet and I tracked Ace the best I could from Rock mags, KISS newsletters and, of course, KISS conventions. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the last new Ace record but now we finally have ANOMALY! So what was the delay? Sobriety…..Ace has been sober now for three years. KISS…..the Reunion extended into a 6+ year odyssey that included 3 world tours and an album. Doesn’t matter now, it’s 2009 and Ace is back again!

Keep in mind that Ace Frehley has a very distinctive guitar tone and singing voice so a lot of the songs might sound the same in some parts and they are going to definitely sound very KISS-like. Ace is part of a big Hard Rock legacy with KISS so the sound will be familiar. ANOMALY starts off with the modern sounding ‘Foxy & Free’ that is chock full of thick Ace riffs and a heavy solo…..I’m impressed already. Sometimes you can tell how good an album will be by the first song and Ace rips right into the album with ‘Foxy & Free’, it’s got a solid groove that definitely could fit on KISS latest album. Moving into ‘Outer Space’, the album’s resident “spaceman persona” song, is another trip into familiar KISS territory a la ‘Rocket Ride’ & ‘Into the Void’. Definitely a good swirling guitar trackwith solid lyrics that pair up with the Space Ace’s image, the chorus had me singing right along. Third big guitar track in a row with ‘Pain In The Neck’ (written about his former bandmates perhaps?) and it has that smooth groove that Ace always pulls out with ease as well as a solid solo. ‘Pain In The Neck’ sounds a little dated but in a good way, the song could easily fit into any of his Frehley’s Comet/Ace Frehley records from the ’80s.

Ace is no stranger to doing a cover tune, his version of The Move/E.L.O.’s ‘Do Ya’ is very good and got some radio and MTV exposure back in ’89 and he also put his own version of KISS’ ‘Hide Your Heart’ to vinyl the same year. Considering that I like Ace’s versions of those two songs better, I had high hopes for The Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’. Not many people remember Sweet so it’s good to hear Ace pay some homage to a real classic Glam Rock act. Normally I can’t stand covers but this really is a good one and fits Ace’s personality to a tee. ‘Genghis Khan’ is mostly an instrumental that showcases Ace’s six-string prowess, but it has a few vocal lines. The song has this varied, trippy, loose groove to it that just sounds like a cool jam with a few words thrown in where the chorus might be. I’m not sure there’s any meaning to the lyrics, they’re more of an afterthought I think than an actual part of the song. Maybe Ace didn’t want to confuse people with more than one instrumental? You know an Ace album is going to have a ‘Fractured’ on it so maybe the lyrics were thrown onto ‘Genghis Khan’ to separate them? Either way it’s a solid instrumental and Ace’s playing is superb, the guy is a talented guitarist and that gets overlooked because he played some very basic guitar during KISS’ ’70s career. ‘Too Many Faces’ is another rocker that seems autobiographical, maybe talking about Ace’s battle with substance abuse. There’s some solid layered guitar here but the song sounds similar to ‘Pain In The Neck’ in some spots.

ANOMALY slows down a little with the ballad ‘Change the World’, a song that’s very melodic and acoustically driven. There’s definitely a Beatles influence here and it definitely sounds like Ace has taken a new outlook on life with his newfound sobriety. Listen to the solo, there’s a lot of emotion wrapped in there and it has a great tone. Another long instrumental comes in ‘Space Bear’…..I’m not sure we needed another one with ‘Genghis Khan’ before it and ‘Fractured Quantum’ on it’s way. ‘Space Bear’ is definitely heavier than ‘Genghis Khan’, it’s more deliberate in it’s heavy Hard Rock sound, and it sounds like it could have fit in on earlier Ace efforts, but it also sounds like an unfinished song idea. Another autobiographical ballad about Ace’s battle with his addictions follows in ‘A Little Below The Angels’…..the mellower version of ‘Rock Soldiers’? Melodic sincere lyrics over a simple acoustic guitar and then the band kicks in with a classic rock sounding rhythm and organ. There are some cool guitar fills mixed right in and the song features Ace’s daughter Monique on background vocals as part of the choir. The song has a grand feel to it and it fits in well with Ace’s current life. Heavy Rock is back again with ‘Sister’, a very thick guitar track with a rolling main riff and driving drums. This is straightforward power chords and basic rhythm with a great guitar solo mixed in, I’ll bet this is put in the live set because it’s real heavy and loud.

‘It’s A Great Life’ fits in again with Ace’s new found sober attitude lyrically. It’s a melodic acoustic driven song that sounds a little funky Pop Rock thing in some spots, it’s a decent song but not nearly as great as the other songs on the album. Would it be an Ace Frehley album without a ‘Fractured’ insturmental? The fourth installment is ‘Fractured Quantum’ and it is definitely a highlight of the album, the best instrumental of the album! Technically, that is the end of the proper album but those of you who bought ANOMALY on iTunes get a bonus track…..’The Return Of Space Bear’. I’ve only heard the 30 second sample iTunes gives you but, from what I’ve read online, it’s the ‘Space Bear’ instrumental with some effects and vocal lines re-done from the infamous Tom Snyder interview with KISS in 1980. I can’t really say whether the track is good or not but I think the fact that you can only get the track as part of the FULL album download and not as a single track stinks! If the song were available on the vinyl version, I’d pick it up…..maybe a Japanese pressing on CD will have it as a bonus track?

Bottom Line:
A great comeback for Ace Frehley! His new lease on life with his sobriety has certainly brought out his creativity and ANOMALY is definitely a solid album. The album is mainly electric guitar driven rockers mixed with a couple acoustic ballads that show off Ace’s melodic side, it’s definitely a solid mix with enough emotion and introspection lyrically. For me the best songs are the hard rockers (‘Sister’, ‘Foxy & Free’, ‘Outer Space’, etc.) but the slower acoustical ballads (‘Change The World’, ‘A Little Below The Angels’) show that Ace can branch out and do more melodic pieces. I even like the cover of ‘Fox On The Run’! The only drawback to the album is that there are three instrumentals, four if you get it from iTunes! ‘Space Bear’ seems to be the odd one out. Overall ANOMALY is a great album and I’ve been enjoying it since it came out mid-September. Just like the new KISS album, I wanted to give ANOMALY a lot of listening time not only to enjoy it but so my critical side wouldn’t be influenced by my diehard KISS fandom. I’ve been looking forward to a new Ace Frehley album for 20 years…..it’s finally here and I’m happy!

Favorite Songs:
‘Foxy & Free’, ‘Outer Space’, ‘Fox On The Run’, ‘Sister’, ‘Change The World’, ‘Genghis Khan’

The 69 Eyes – Back In Blood (2009)

69 eyes - back in blood (2009)

The 69 Eyes – Back In Blood (2009, The End Records)

  1. Back In Blood
  2. We Own the Night
  3. Dead ‘N Gone
  4. The Good, The Bad & The Undead
  5. Kiss Me Undead
  6. Lips Of Blood
  7. Dead Girls Are Easy
  8. Night Watch
  9. Some Kind Of Magick
  10. Hunger
  11. Susperia Snow White
  12. Eternal

Band Lineup:
Jyrki 69 – Vocals
Jussi 69 – Drums
Bazie – Guitar
Timo-Timo – Guitar
Archzie – Bass

Producer: Matt Hyde

Country: Finland

Total Time = 48:38

The 69 Eyes
The 69 Eyes MySpace page
The End Records

BACK IN BLOOD marks the tenth album from Finnish goth metallers The 69 Eyes…..with all the latest vampire trends in music movies and television lately it’s actaully refreshing to know that the band isn’t jumping on the latest trends. The 69 Eyes have been around since 1989, and released their first album in 1992, playing their brand of Gothic Metal mixed with Hard Rock bombast. I’ve read about the band and seen the new albums fly off my favorite record store’s shelves over the years but I never really bothered to check out the music…..the whole vampire/goth thing just hadn’t been my thing. Obviously image doesn’t make the music so I figure that even the band probably doesn’t take the whole Goth thing too seriously. I’ve read a few reviews saying how good the album is, almost like party Hard Rock, so I figured I’d finally give The 69 Eyes a chance.

After listening to BACK IN BLOOD a few times I drew the comparisons immeadiately to The Cult, Type O Negative, H.I.M. and latter day Tiamat. The music is your basic Hard Rock like Motley Crue mixed with an industrial/dance element and that spooky goth thing…..maybe like Rob Zombie solo? I know it sounds like a weird combination but it actually blends together well to form a catchy, driving rhythm. It’s haunting party Rock. Lead singer Jyrki 69 has a deep voice that reminds me of Brad Roberts from the Canadian Rock band Crash Test Dummies mixed with Peter Steele of Type O Negative. The vocals bring everything together because Jyrki 69’s deep voice lends that haunting “undead” sound to the music. The opening title track is upbeat and hard charging like an early Crue song from the SHOUT-era and it immeadiately caught my attention. The vocals aren’t completely deep and dark but more like Ian Astbury from The Cult and there is some excellent guitar work here both with the riffs and the solos. ‘We Own The Night’ is very influenced by The Cult, especially with the guitars, and the “dance” element starts to creep in. I can honestly see where this kind of music is popular among the teenagers that frequent Hot Topic stores in malls across the U.S. It’s not that the song is bad, or that the danceable rhythms are so overt, it’s just a little too much for your seasoned Metalhead like myself. ‘Dead ‘N Gone’ moves into the same category as the song before but it has an even more Pop/AOR/Melodic Rock sense. The singing and rhythm is tailor made for mainstream audiences in the U.S., how The 69 Eyes haven’t crossed over into the mainstream is beyond me! ‘Dead And Gone’ is very catchy, very rhythmic, but I like the lyrics are what sets it apart. ‘The Good, The Bad, The Undead’ has a touch of AC/DC to it, or maybe Airbourne for the younger metallers out there, and is definitely one of those anthemic, sing-a-long tracks that go over well live.

The opening of ‘Kiss The Undead’ sounds very heavy and very ’80s Hard Rock but it moves into a melodic danceable groove come the chorus and all I can think about is all those New Wave/Goth/Alternative bands like The Cure and this is where I know the album is losing me. Third song in a row with “dead” in the title, second song with “undead” in the title…..you kind of get the picture of where the record’s direction is going. ‘Lips Of Blood’ has a late ’90s Tiamat sound, when Tiamat went into Doom/Goth Metal and left Death Metal way behind. ‘Dead Girls Are Easy’ brings back the fire of the opening track with a more straightforward Hard Rock approach but ‘Night Watch’ and ‘Some Kind Of Magick’ move back into the dancing Goth style, although I like the faster pace of the latter. ‘Hunger’ is the closest thing to a ballad on BACK IN BLOOD and I like the piano that starts the song off and weaves it’s way in and out of the song. The chorus is melodic and it sounds pretty much like the rest of the songs. ‘Susperia Snow White’ is more of a driving Hard Rock song but it sounds similar to the others and ‘Eternal’ is acoustic guitar based with atmospheric keyboards but it just doesn’t stick with me. This is the second ballad of the album and it has a grand feel to it but I feel like it’s all been done before.

Bottom Line:
For never hearing the The 69 Eyes, I’d say that BACK IN BLOOD is a pretty good album with a different sound than what I’m used to. The problem I had with the songs was that once you’ve heard the first four or five then you’ve heard them all. I really didn’t hear anything specific to distinguish some of the tracks on the second half of the album to the tracks on the first half. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the songs are bad, just repetitive. Once you’ve heard the first four songs, you know where the album is going. There was enough here to make me check out some other 69 Eyes’ albums but in due time. If you like Gothic Metal mixed with Doom and Melodic Rock then you might get into this. If you are part of the teenage Goth culture then this is definitely for you.

Standout Songs:
‘Back In Blood’, ‘The Good, The Bad, The Undead’, ‘Dead Girls Are Easy’, ‘Lips Of Blood’

Press Release: Overkill – Ironbound (2010) artwork, tracklisting, formats & release dates announced

Overkill - Ironbound (2009)

From Bravewords.com:

OVERKILL have signed to Nuclear Blast Records for a multi-release deal (world excl. North America). The first offering will be available early 2010 titled Ironbound – a true ‘thrasher-piece’!

“Good to be with a label that understands what Overkill are about and what metal is about in 2010, exciting!” – Bobby Blitz

“Nuclear Blast is very stoked to announce the signing of legendary New Jersey thrashers Overkill!! Growing up with classics such as ‘Feel The Fire’, ‘Taking Over’ and ‘The Years Of Decay’ and seeing the band countless times playing live it is sure to say that one of our favourite bands of all time has finally found their home at the powerhouse that Nuclear Blast is today! We are very much looking forward to start working with Overkill and are eager to release their new album Ironbound to the masses! A new album on which they have returned to their old school thrash roots! The band is already working on a new European tour for 2010. Welcome to the Nuclear Family!” – Jaap Wagemaker, A&R

Ironbound tracklisting and formats:

‘The Green And Black’
‘Bring Me The Night’
‘The Goal Is Your Soul’
‘Give A Little’
‘Endless War’
‘The Head And Heart’
‘In Vain’
‘Killing For A Living’
‘The SRC’

– Ltd. Digipak available
– CD Jewelcase
– LP (180g vinyl) in Gatefold
– LP (180 g green vinyl) in Gatefold – Nuclear Blast Mailorder exclusive
– Strictly Limited Mailorder Edition

Release date: January 29th, 2010.

Press Release: Anthrax – Caught In A Mosh: BBC Live In Concert (2009) artwork, tracklisting & release dates announced

Anthrax - Caught In A Mosh - BBC Live In Concert (2009)

From Bravewords.com:

ANTHRAX were pioneers of the American Metal scene, regarded as one of the ‘Big Four’ responsible for the emergence of speed and thrash metal. Combining the speed and fury of hardcore punk with the prominent guitars and vocals of heavy metal, they helped create a new subgenre of heavy metal.

In 1987, Anthrax released their third, and arguably their greatest album, Among The Living. Caught In A Mosh – BBC Live In Concert is a double CD of concert recordings features the two UK performances from the 1987 tour, their sold out Hammersmith Odeon show and their storming performance at the Donington Festival.

Caught In A Mosh – BBC Live In Concert will be released on Tuesday, November 10 in North America and January 4, 2010 via Island/Universal.

CD 1 (Hammersmith Odeon – February 15, 1987):
‘Metal Thrashing Mad’
‘The Enemy’
‘I Am The Law’
‘Howling Furies’
Armed And Dangerous’
‘Sabbath Bloddy Sabbath’
‘God Save The Queen’

CD 2 (Donington Festival – August 22, 1987):
‘Among The Living’
Caught In A Mosh’
‘I Am The Law’
‘God Save The Queen’
‘I’m The Man’

Press Release: Scorpions – Amazonia: Live In The Jungle DVD (2009) artwork & release dates announced

Scorpions - Amazonia DVD (2009)

From Bravewords.com:

In August 2007, Germany’s most successful music export worldwide, THE SCORPIONS, already ventured deep into the Brazilian jungle for a sold out show – in front of 40,000 enthusiastic fans the band played a concert in Manaus, the metropolis on the Amazon river. A cooperation with Greenpeace was already existent at this point and when the band returned to South America the next year, they happily intensified it. Kaus Meine, lead singer of the Scorpions, recollects, “Due to the unbelievable success we returned to Manaus in 2008, but we also played Rio, Sao Paulo and Recife again. During the show in Belem we accepted Greenpeace’s invitation to participate in a three-hour flight across the rainforest in order to get a picture of the proceeding destruction (an area twice the size of Germany has been destroyed by fire so far). We wholeheartedly supported Greenpeace with large banners saying “Stop the deforestation” during these shows and part of the proceeds from this DVD will consequently be given to this organisation that is commited in so many parts of the world.”

For many years, Greenpeace has been fighting against the rapid deforestation of the amazon rainforest and for the preservation of the habitat of numerous animal and plant species and also of more than 180 native peoples counting more than 200,000 people altogether. Scientists assume that the rainforest will be gone by 2050 – given a constant “deforestation speed”. The consequences would be disastrous: People would lose their homes, animals and plants would become extinct and the impact on the world climate would be bomb-like. The Scorpions have now also commited themselves to protecting this unique ecosystem. The rock icons’ DVD Amazonia – Live In The Jungle does not only include the complete show played in Recife on 7 September 2008 and a Special Feature – Supported By Greenpeace consisting of five live videos from their legendary concert in Manaus in 2007, but also a Greenpeace documentation of the Scorpions’ legendary flight across the Amazon rainforest. Royalties of DVDs sold in Brazil and Mexico predominately go to Greenpeace Brazil’s projects to protect the ancient forest.

Musically, the DVD is a highlight as well. Meine says, “During the 2008 tour we had the pleasure to perform with Brazilian guest musicians. It was a wonderful experience and demonstrated very well how music builds bridges and brings people from different cultures together.” In a closing statement, the musician addresses his South American fans and says, “We want to thank our Brazilian fans for the support and the incredible enthusiasm. To quote James: ‘3 words: You kick ass.’ Brazil rocks!!!” And so do the Scorpions.

The DVD Amazonia – Live In The Jungle will be released on November 20th in Europe. The North America release date will be later this year.

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009)

KISS - Sonic Boom (2009)

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009, KISS Records)

  1. Modern Day Delilah
  2. Russian Roulette
  3. Never Enough
  4. Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect)
  5. Stand
  6. Hot And Cold
  7. All For The Glory *
  8. Danger Us
  9. I’m An Animal
  10. When Lightning Strikes **
  11. Say Yeah

*(Eric Singer on lead vocals)
**(Tommy Thayer on lead vocals)

Band Lineup:
Paul Stanley – Guitars & Vocals
Gene Simmons – Bass & Vocals
Tommy Thayer – Guitars & Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums & Vocals

Producers: Paul Stanley & Greg Collins

Country: USA

Total Time = 43:19


It’s been 11 years since KISS released a brand new album of new material. Back in 1998, the band released PSYCHO CIRCUS, the first album from the original KISS lineup of Peter, Paul, Ace and Gene in 20 years. The band was deep into their reunion success and the album came out to initial success…..then the power of the Internet took over and the project was exposed. PSYCHO CIRCUS was hyped as a unified band effort but plenty of information came out that not all the members contributed, some barely even played their instruments! The KISS machine took it’s first serious hit broadside and I never looked at my favorite band the same way again. Now I have SONIC BOOM in my hands, the first album with the current masked lineup including Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. The album is the first to be released independently by the band (with Wal-Mart distribution) on their own label (KISS Records) and it’s being hyped as “Klassic KISS” in line with albums like KISS (1974), DESTROYER (1976) and LOVE GUN (1977). Co-founder Paul Stanley has taken over the reins of KISS musically as producer and he basically forced all the members (Gene Simmons in particular!) to write songs and play their own instruments to make this a true band effort. To call SONIC BOOM a classic KISS record in line with the band’s roots is what the KISS hype machine usually says about any new album that comes out. KISS is always going to hype anything they do with their usual grandiose bombast so the band’s credibility is always on the line. After the Reunion Tour of 1996-1997, the band took a ton of shots with PSYCHO CIRCUS, the Farewell Tour, replacing Ace & Peter with Tommy & Eric, Gene’s reality TV series and tons of merchandise. Any normal band would duck tail and run for cover but to KISS any press is good press and they have remained in the spotlight despite all the criticism. Even the talk of never releasing a new album was all talk!

The opening track is the first proper single, ‘Modern Day Delilah’. Having heard this song the most with local radio airplay and seeing the band in concert pre-release date, I have to say it’s a solid KISS song. It’s like a cross between the CREATURES OF THE NIGHT & REVENGE eras with a driving bassline and solid vocals. The song has a typical thick chunky Thayer riff, Singer uses his double bass technique to the fullest and there are good background vocals. There are a couple of lead vocal lines that sound a little familiar and KISS has never been afraid to borrow from themselves. I can hear a slight similarity on a couple of lines to a line from ‘When Your Walls Come Down’ on CRAZY NIGHTS (1987). Paul also sounds a little strained when hitting the high notes just like he did in concert, that could also be the way the song is supposed to be sung. Many KISS diehards will recognize the song title ‘Russian Roulette’ as one Gene has been trying to use for years. He finally gets to use it on SONIC BOOM and it’s another pretty good song recalling  more REVENGE era. It has that heavy thick sound that defined mid-’90s KISS and you can hear some quick basslines that have similar counterparts in ‘Spit’ and ‘Paralyzed’ from REVENGE. It’s not a total copy, just a quick hit here and there, and Gene’s voice sounds pretty good considering that he’s had vocal issues live since 2003.

Every KISS album has an anthem and ‘Never Enough’ fits the bill perfectly. It kind of reminds me a little of ‘Raise Your Glasses’ from PSYCHO CIRCUS due to the song’s upbeat positive attitude and celebration of all good things. The problem is that the song sounds exactly like Poison’s ‘Nothin But A Good Time’…..seriously. The main guitar and vocal lines on the verses sound almost exact! I’ve sat there and sang the Poison lyrics and they fit. Paul had a problem like this on PSYCHO CIRCUS with ‘Dreamin’ because it sounded like Alice Cooper’s ‘Eighteen’ in certain parts. Eventually Alice sued and a settlement was reached, I hope Bret Michaels isn’t listening! Take the Poison connection out and you have a pretty good song, very upbeat ‘Shout It Out Loud’ style with a solid vocal from Paul. The return to the classic KISS style starts with ‘Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect)’ with Tommy Thayer channelling Ace Frehley for his guitarwork and Eric Singer simplfying his drum style to do his best Peter Criss. The song is very Rock ‘n’ Roll, not Hard Rock, and it could easily be mistaken for a late ’70s KISS song. Another good vocal performance from Gene with the classic lyric of “it’s time to take off your clothes”. Listen to the guitar solo and tell me Tommy can’t do Ace to a tee and Eric has Peter down to a science with that small touch of cowbell. A very ’70s style song and that’s what Gene & Paul mean when they say “Klassic KISS”.

Paul Stanley guided the direction of the album this time around and his influence is heard on ‘Stand’. It’s a strong co-lead vocal between Paul & Gene, something that they did successfully throughout their ’70s heyday, but it has that modern edge that could have fit onto Paul’s recent solo album LIVE TO WIN (2006). Very catchy and melodic with good background vocals and a breakdown mid-song that reminds me a little of the harmonized part in ‘God Gave Rock ‘n Roll To You II’ but not as long. This is one of my favorites of the album. More sexual innuendo from papa Gene with ‘Hot And Cold’ and more cowbell from Eric Singer. This is another solid Gene song with a ’70s style because Thayer does another good Ace impression and Singer drums down to Criss’ level. The background harmonies at the end of the song give it a vintage sound that could place this song on one of the first three KISS records. I’m not sure I like the fact that Thayer and Singer do good impressions of Ace and Peter, I would much rather have them put their own stamp on the songs. Singer has a solid double bass drum sound and Thayer has always been a talented guitarist, I just wish more of their personal talents would be used but the Starchild and the Demon are in charge.

The first chink in the armor comes with the Eric Singer lead vocal debut on ‘All For The Glory’. The vocal is pretty good, anyone who has seen KISS in concert since 1992 knows that Eric sings well with his performances on ‘Nothin to Lose’ and ‘Black Diamond’ specifically. It’s just a weak song lyrically but the performance is good. ‘Danger Us’ is another Paul Stanley song that could have easily fit on LIVE TO WIN with it’s modern edge. It has a bit of ’80s era KISS to it as well but the guitar work from Thayer sounds like Ace again so it gives that classic Kiss sound again. I like the bass line from Gene, it drives along with the main riff and provides a good base. This would be any even better song if Tommy could use his own guitar tone. Gene Simmons is the “God Of Thunder”, he is “Dr. Love”, and he’s a “War Machine”…..now he’s an “animal”. ‘I’m An Animal’ follows the direction of those type of big Gene songs and it has the heavy CREATURES/REVENGE sound…..I’d say more CREATURES. Of all the Gene songs on SONIC BOOM, I like this one the best. Very heavy, good vocal, heavy drums and crunching guitar…..Tommy finally gets to do his own thing and not the Ace thing. He gets to do his own thing again when he makes his lead vocal debut on ‘When Lightning Strikes’. Tommy sounds a lot like Gene vocally and I almost couldn’t tell the difference, if you put Gene on lead it would sound almost exact. Tommy’s vocals are complimented well with the background harmonies and the song has a modern feel to it. The guitar solo continues with the Ace Frehley tone but the overall song sounds mostly up to date. If you compare ‘All For The Glory’ with ‘When Lightning Strikes’ the difference is the songwriting but I’ll give both new masked men credit for performing very well. The final song is ‘Say Yeah’ and it has that modern upbeat sound Paul used on his last solo record. It’s got a melodic hook on the bridge to get you singing along but the main chorus is a little simple with it’s “say yeahs”. More Ace inspired solo work from Tommy but the overall guitar sound is very thick and modern. Another favorite from the album.

Let me just take some time to also mention the packaging and bonuses. The 4 panel full-color glossy digipak is very similar to ROCK AND ROLL OVER (1976). The artist, Michael Doret, was brought back to give KISS a larger than life, iconic image in the same style as the ROCK AND ROLL OVER cover. A couple of added bonuses are also included: a second CD of re-recorded KISS songs and a bonus DVD of KISS live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The 2nd disc is actually the 2008 Japanese release JIGOKU RETSUDEN and the DVD from Argentina isn’t a full show but it is from the band’s ALIVE 35 international tour and is a multi-camera Pro Shot show. For $15, that’s a lot of KISS. 

Bottom Line:
I bought SONIC BOOM at Wal-Mart on October 6 when it was officially released and it’s been my Album Of The Month for October. I’ve taken so long to review it because I wanted to live with it, listen to it daily and give a fair unbiased opinion. KISS fans are passionate fans and a lot of us always like to look at the positive aspects when it comes to our band…..even if it’s plainly obvious to everyone else that things aren’t always what they seem! If you take away all the issues surrounding lineup changes, the makeup, the merchandise and all the “final” tours and focus on the actual music then you’ll hear a very good, a very solid KISS record. The best thing that could have happened was letting Paul Stanley oversee the album, he’s been the talent in KISS and the driving force to keep the band going creatively since the early ’80s. If anyone knows what a KISS album is supposed to be, it’s Paul Stanley! By making the actual band members write and perform, Paul has given KISS more respectability. Overall, I would say that this is a strong KISS album. I would classify it as the natural progression from REVENGE (1992) and CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1997) and definitely better than the last KISS studio album PSYCHO CIRCUS (1998). There is a “classic” feel to some of the songs mainly due to Thayer & Singer performing as their masked couterparts Ace & Peter would, as well as, Gene’s songwriting. The “classic” sound isn’t limited to the ’70s era as you can hear plenty of ’80s & ’90s KISS influences and some of the more modern moments from Paul’s lst solo venture. For me, the strongest moments are when the band stays in the heavy modern range like on ‘Modern Day Delilah’, ‘Danger Us’ and ‘Russian Roulette’. The weakest songs are the two debut lead vocals of Singer & Thayer, ‘All For The Glory’ and ‘When Lightning Strikes’, and they aren’t even that bad! I also just realized that there isn’t a ballad included on SONIC BOOM, usually KISS throws in that ballad just to have a ballad but they’ve stayed the course with the heavier uptempo songs. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised with this album, I admit that even I was a little skeptical and I’ve been a KISS diehard since 1978! SONIC BOOM is very well done and is a good album, it’s definitely one of my favorites of the year.

Favorite Songs:
I like the entire album but the standout songs for me are ‘Modern Day Delilah’, ‘Russian Roulette’, ‘Stand’, ‘Danger Us’, ‘I’m An Animal’ and ‘Say Yeah’.

Ebay Madness: The Stuff and Redstone

As you all know, I’m always on the lookout for CD rarities and collectibles on Ebay but sometimes the prices go through the roof. I watch more CDs and LPs on Ebay every week and I wonder where people get all their money. This week is no exception, I found two CDs that I have been keeping my eye on for at least a decade and have never got the chance to purchase.

The Stuff auction 10/25/09

The Stuff – s/t (1993) sells for $316

Seller: saxon1500
Country: USA
Starting Price = $9.99
Bids = 23

I featured this rare independent CD by The Stuff  back in January 2008 when the CD fetched a crazy $1125.01 at Ebay auction. I haven’t seen another one come up until last week. I was searching some of my favorite sellers and there it was, The Stuff – s/t (1993), on a 7 day auction staring at $9.99! I kept this on my watch list and kept a close eye until the last day of the auction. At that point, the CD was still under $100 so I figured that I might have a shot at it. Knowing that the last five listings I saw ranged from $250 to the $1125.01, I figured $100 was a bargain! Later on Sunday the CD started going up as the close got near, I was out of the game after $150…..and that was pushing it, I never would have explained that to the wife! I can vouch for the seller as I’ve bought plenty of CDs from him in the past and I know he’s a collector from some of the forums I follow.

The Stuff - s/t (1993)

The thing that bothers me about this auction is that there is obvious interest in this album but it remains a rarity. Shortly after the auction back in January 2008, lead singer/producer Bryan Lamb of The Stuff got wind of the auction and created a website dedicated to the band. The intention was to give the band’s history a place online AND to see if there was interest in a possible reissue of this elusive CD. There is a signup at TheStuffMusic.com for the reissue of the CD and I signed up immeadiately and featured the news in a Reissue Report. Almost 2 years later and nothing has come up so I decided to email Bryan Lamb via The Stuff website. Bryan was kind enough to get back to me the other day and it seems that there hasn’t been much of a signup for the reissue and it’s on hold unless there happens to be a surge in interest. It’s too bad because I was hoping that The Stuff would enjoy the same success Surrender had with their reissue CD and regular music fans would be able to own this CD.

If you are at all interested in this album by The Stuff, please head on over and sign up for the reissue. I’m not working for the band or anything, I just want to buy this CD at a decent price and enjoy it as part of my collection! More info at The Stuff’s MySpace page as well.

Redstone auction 10-25-09

Redstone – s/t (1988) sells for $140.27

Seller: saxon1500
Country: USA
Starting Price = $9.99
Bids = 20

redstone self titled (1988)

Same seller, same starting price, ending the same day. I know nothing about this Redstone album except that it’s an independently released CD with only 4 songs (so it’s an E.P.) and that it goes for big bucks when it shows up on Ebay. I’ve been keeping my eye on this album for as long as I’ve been on Ebay and, if memory serves me, I’ve seen this top out over $400+ a few times in the last decade. The problem with this CD is that I never see it show up. When I was looking through the seller’s auction, I put this on my watch list and, going into the last day, it was still under $70. Unfortunately, the CD rose quick and the other bidders lost interest around $100. Two bidders bid right at the end but there wasn’t a bidding war like I’ve seen in the past. From what I’ve read, the music is AOR/melodic Rock in the style of Journey and Survivor so it might be pretty good.

WANTED: King Kobra – III (1988)


King Kobra III (1988)

King Kobra – III (1988)

One of the bands I got into back in the mid ’80s when I was growing up was King Kobra. I saw the video for ‘Hunger’ (from 1985’s READY TO STRIKE) but I wasn’t completely impressed but then the video for ‘Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)’ came out in 1986 and I was sold! I loved the movie Iron Eagle and I bought the soundtrack on vinyl (which I sold years later!), as well as, THRILL OF A LIFETIME (1986) on cassette (the song was part of that album). Over the years I’ve worn out my cassettes of the first two King Kobra albums and now I’m in the market to buy them on CD…..that led me to KING KOBRA III.

There were multiple personnel changes when this album was being recorded. The most important was the replacement of Mark Free on lead vocals with Johnny Edwards, who sang for Montrose on the MEAN album in 1987, went on to sing with Foreigner on UNUSUAL HEAT (1991) and collaborate with former King Kobra guitarist JK Northrup on various projects. Another cool connection for me is that two songs are written by members of KISS and were leftovers from the sessions for CREATURES OF THE NIGHT in 1982: ‘Legends Never Die’ (Gene Simmons, Adam Mitchell, Micki Free) and ‘It’s My Life’ (Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley). Going even further…..both songs were recorded by Wendy O. Williams for her 1984 solo debut W.O.W. and Doro Pesch later recorded ‘Legends never Die’ on her 2002 album FIGHT. That enough KISStory in a King Kobra post?

The direction of this album is more Metal than the AOR/Melodic Rock direction the first two had. I have heard this only a couple times online so I can’t give a great description but here is the video for ‘Take It Off’, listen for Peter Criss on background vocals!.

This album is a rarity on CD and it sells in the $80-$100+ range when it comes up on Ebay. The good news is that you can get a mint or near mint copy on vinyl for under $10…..that means I’ll buy one soon.

Start of vacation Mixtape

So I got to listen to a few CDs today but I got lazy and didn’t really want to change discs in the stereo so I plugged in the iPod and hit Shuffle. Here’s the first 20 songs…..

  1. Twisted Sister – ‘Leader Of The Pack’ (1985)
  2. Black ‘N Blue – ‘Action’ (1984)
  3. Saxon – ‘Denim And Leather’ (1981)
  4. D.C. Cooper – ‘Chained’ (1999)
  5. Mogg-Way – ‘Fortune Town’ (1997)
  6. Anvil – ‘Bondage’ (1981)
  7. UFO – ‘A Self-Made Man’ (1995)
  8. Dio – ‘Otherworld’ (2000)
  9. FarCry – ‘Heaven’ (2009)
  10. KISS – ‘Get All You Can Take’ (1984)
  11. Tygers Of Pan Tang – ‘Euthanasia’ (1980)
  12. Balance Of Power – ‘Miracles And Dreams’ (1999)
  13. Lillian Axe – ‘The 2nd Of May’ (2007)
  14. AC/DC – ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ (1977)
  15. Phil Vincent – ‘How Long’ (2008)
  16. Iron Maiden – The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner’ (1986)
  17. KISS – ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ (1987)
  18. Bullet – ‘No Mercy’ (1983)
  19. Black Sabbath – ‘No Stranger To Love’ (1986)
  20. Loudness – ‘Gravity’ (2008)

Bonus Track: Whitesnake – ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’ (1984)

Vacation playlist

Today starts my last vacation week of 2009. I always take the same vacation weeks every year and it’s that time again…..Halloween week! My family has the graveyard in front of the house and the kids are getting their costumes together and I have zombies to build for the graveyard. So what do I do? Sleep all day and watch football! I had a double shift at work again so I was able to get the iPod fired up and listen to a couple albums…..

Heaven & Hell – Live From Radio City Music Hall (2007): I’ve been on a big post-Ozzy Black Sabbath kick again so I put this Heaven & Hell live record on so I could hear the current Sabbath lineup do what I’ve seen them do four times in concert since the band adopted the Heaven & Hell name. This is becoming one of my favorite live albums.

Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982): I played this album just so I could compare Sabbath then to Sabbath now. This is still one of my favorite live albums and a classic everyone should have in their collection.

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009): I had to get my daily listen to the new KISS album. It really is a solid record and a great studio comeback for the band.

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009): Just like the new KISS album, I had to get my daily listen to the latest Ace Frehley record. Just like the new KISS album, ANOMALY is a solid record and a great comeback for Ace 20 years after his last solo effort.

Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008): I wanted to give this a fresh listen because I feel like I didn’t give this enough time last year even though it made my Top 30 for 2008.

W.A.S.P. – The Last Command (1985): This is my favorite W.A.S.P. album and one of those albums that were so important to me when I was growing up and discovering different Metal bands. Great songs all around but I forgot just how good ‘Wild Child’, ‘Fistful Of Diamonds’ and ‘Cries In The Night’ are. The whole album is a classic but I get sick of ‘Blind In Texas’ so I usually skip over it.