Metallica – S&M2

It isn’t easy being a Metallica fan – ride or die. For every fan who loves the latest record, there are a loud contingent of fans who will scream “Only the 80’s albums!”. Or even more specific, “Only the Cliff Burton years!”. So, it goes, so it goes. As for me, I think there are things to appreciate in each Metallica album – even Lulu, their oft derided 2011 collaboration with the iconic Lou Reed. In fact, the 2017 show I saw in Seattle was one of the best stadium shows I’ve ever seen – family friendly even, if you can believe that. We aren’t in 1986 anymore, fellas. They are – to quote Grand Funk Railroad – an American band. And perhaps history will view them as one of the most successful bands in history. They’ve long since transcended the heavy metal tag.

Continue reading

Memory of a Melody – Burn Alive

Memory of a Melody hail from San Antonio, TX. A band that is true to its Texas metal roots, it also brings a melodic side to their crushing anthems, hence their name – it isn’t just a clever moniker. The early 00’s saw multiple releases from the band that steadily increased their profile before they went on hiatus. 2020 heralds the return of the band and their first release in over 7 years. The band’s full throttled attack features Mario Galdos on vocals, Wade Sigue and Roel Castillo on guitars, Joel Martinez on bass, and Robin Lopez on drums. Layers upon layers of instrumentation make for an appealing heavy metal brew. The new 3 song EP is a stunning return from the band and a reminder of what makes them so great.

The Burn Alive EP is a stunning return, 3 tracks of raw energy that is inspiring. It sounds heavy, melodic, and sounds wholly original. Mary Go Round kicks the proceedings off with a slice of prime metal, thrash alternating with emotional longing. A System of a Down vibe with this track which is only a good thing. Burn Alive is my favorite song on this release. It has a lighter vibe that harkens back to the balladry of the 80’s. Lyrically wise, this is a tale of longing and what could have been. I’d be remiss to not mention that the song has a killer guitar solo and again hints at thrash. The song ends in epic fashion, the music building an epic symphony of noise. Rise Up closes out the EP in a glorious wave of thrash metal. It is a fitting end to an exhilarating 3 track EP.

The Burn Alive EP is available here and comes highly recommended. It is a stunning debut and a sign of good things to come.

Verdict: A Welcome Return

For Fans of: System of a Down, Ozzy Osbourne, GNR, Skid Row, Lita Ford

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

The opening riffs of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid single pointed the way towards modern heavy metal. Released in August 1970, the song was a step forward from the band’s debut album released just 6 months earlier. All of the elements that made Black Sabbath great came together for this song – memorable doom laden riffs, pounding drum & bass, and Ozzy’s detached & demonic vocals. If Ozzy sounds like he is reading the lyrics as he is singing them that’s because he is. The song was written as an afterthought for their 2nd album (also named Paranoid) and came together in under an hour according to all band members. The song was a top 10 hit in the UK and remains one of Black Sabbath’s signature tunes. Curiously, the song never mentions the word paranoid in its lyrics – instead, the lyrics deal with depression in a poetic fashion. Worlds away from the Satanic imagery the band was / is known for. I’ve always thought the band’s lyrics were deeper than their reputation in some circles and this song is proof. “People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time / All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy / Think I’ll lose my mind if I don’t find something to pacify”. Perfection.

Motörhead – Bad Magic

Print

There’s really only one band in my mind that has successfully bridged the gap between punk and heavy metal. Of course I’m talking about Justin Timberlake’s favorite band, Motörhead. Formed in the wake of Lemmy Kilmister’s ouster from space rockers Hawkwind, the band has churned out album after album of solid hard rock, punk, and metal anthems. Always changing, always the same – I believe John Peel said that in reference to The Fall, but he could have easily been talking about Motörhead. Members have come and gone over the last 40 years, and yet Lemmy is still standing (though drinking vodka instead of whiskey for health reasons). The current lineup of Lemmy on vocals & bass, Phil “Wizzo” Campbell on guitar, and Mikkey Dee on drums has been together since 1992, making it the longest latest incarnation of the band. Bad Magic is the band’s 22nd studio album and comes hot on the heels of 2013’s very strong Aftershock.

Continue reading

Helmet – Unsung

Helmet_unsung

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

The summer of 1992 found me at an odd juncture – trying to find my place in this world as a disillusioned 15-year-old. Fortunately, 1992 was the summer of The Cure (Wish) and Helmet (In The Meantime). Two bands that were / are on the opposite ends of the spectrum – The Cure brooding and melancholy, Helmet reveling in pure metallic aggression. At the time, it all seemed to be labeled “Alternative”. The most notable single pulled from Helmet’s album was Unsung – an unusual song from the band due to the increased focus on melody during the verses. It features a memorable thrash based guitar riff, enveloped in staccato. Page Hamilton’s vocals provide the melodic contrast needed to make it one of the best singles of the 90’s. MTV played the video non stop throughout the 2nd half of 1992 and it never failed to keep me enthralled. I like quite a few records by Helmet, but honestly – this is the song I absolutely love. Everything works perfectly – from the menacing bass riff that opens to the military-like drum fills (I’ve already touched on guitar & vox). The song was recorded by Steve Albini and remixed by Andy Wallace, lending the song an odd mix of feeling raw AND polished. The track hit #29 on the Alternative charts and #32 on the Rock charts and proved to be a huge influence to the band Pantera. As for The Cure? Well, that is a story for another day. These words will get stuck in your head after listening to Unsung just once: “Your contribution left unnoticed some / Association with an image / Just credit time for showing up again / Attention wandered I’m left with it”