Category Archives: Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday?  Not Exactly, but Metallica’s “Hardwired” Feels Like Going “Back to the Future”

Metallica - Hardwired

By Adam Waldman

“Hey Doc, what year are we in?”

“The calendar says 2016, Marty, but the guy on the radio just said that this is NEW Metallica.  The Delorean must need a tune-up.  This can’t be 2016…I think that we somehow ended up in 1984!”

If Doc Brown and Marty McFly make you nostalgic for the mid-‘80s, you ain’t seen…er…heard nothing yet.  Metallica’s release of “Hardwired” – the first single from their upcoming album, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct – took millions of Metallica fans on a journey back in time to the raw, blistering thrash days of Ride The Lightning.

In a day and age where everything seems to be leaked, “Hardwired” was a welcomed surprise that had people buzzing about Metallica in a way that hasn’t happened in quite some time.  That’s not to say that they haven’t remained one of the top metal acts around, because they have, but they started to feel like something of a legacy act in recent years.  With their place in history more than secured, Metallica has proven once again that they can be a disruptive force with “Hardwired.”  Over two million YouTube views in less than a day is proof positive that Metallica has delivered something that their fans have been craving.

If you didn’t discover Metallica until “The Black Album,” you better buckle up before you crank up “Hardwired,” because it will knock you on your ass.  Lars Ulrich rains down frenzied thunder with a drum intro that kicks your heart into overdrive, and never lets up as the thrash guitars of yesteryear hit you like a freight train.  James Hetfield has become a much more polished singer in recent years, but the raw beast that lives inside of him is back in full force with a rapid fire delivery that once defined him (and the thrash genre for that matter).

“Hardwired” is fast, loud, aggressive and filled with adrenaline-fueled rage.  Headbangers rejoice!  Metallica’s back with a song that is certain to cause some serious cases of whiplash once again.

Flashback Friday: 1991 – Heavy Metal Love

Heavy Metal Love - 1991 Compilation Album

By Adam Waldman

Yesterday, on Hard Rock Music Time Machine, we journeyed back 25 years to 1991.  Today, we journey back to that same year for a nostalgic look at one of the few compilation albums that became a staple of my music collection.  The album Heavy Metal Love is ripe with power ballads, hard rock love songs and an incredible cover song by Judas Priest, brought to another level by Metal God, Rob Halford.

It’s amazing how things change over the course of 25 years.  What was once a CD that cost around $10 at a record store, has now become a rare commodity that can be purchased online for $55.  Of course, only true collectors would pay that amount for a CD full of songs that you can easily create as a playlist for free on YouTube, but I digress.

Heavy Metal Love has a lot of sentimental meaning for me because it was, for all intents and purposes, the soundtrack of the summer of 1991.  I didn’t know it at the time, but the songs that I listened to with my girlfriend back then is now an album that is filled with nostalgia for the same girl who eventually became my wife and mother to my children.

The album opens with two classic ballads inspired by women [“Beth” (Kiss) and “Carrie” (Europe)] before transitioning into some very powerful collaborations.  If ever there was a singer who could capture the emotion of a power ballad, it is the legendary Joe Lynn Turner.  On “Dreaming (Tell Me)”  the emotion of  JLT’s vocals are beautifully complemented by Yngwie Malmsteen’s guitar solos.  The same can be said of a lesser-known, but equally powerful song, “Love Kills,” a collaboration between Mark Slaughter and Vinnie Vincent (Kiss).

Stryper’s “First Love” is a quintessential power ballad that showcases the immense vocal range of Michael Sweet.  April Wine’s “Just Between You And Me” is one of those songs where the guitar riff sets the emotional tone as much as the lyrics and vocals.  The song has the interesting distinction of being both well-known and underrated at the same time.

The album shifts into ‘80s hard rock mode for the last three songs: the title track by Helix, “Lady Red Light” (Great White) and “Edge Of A Broken Heart” by female rockers, Vixen.

All of the songs have meaning to me, particularly when they are listened to as a collection, but the one that stands out the most is Judas Priest’s cover of “Diamonds & Rust.”  The song was written (and originally recorded) by Joan Baez, who is known as much for her social activism as she is for her music.  Those with an appreciation for music history will find Baez’s original a worthwhile listen, but the Judas Priest interpretation is the one that resonates with me most.  It’s the brilliance of the storytelling, combined with Halford’s passion and the NYC-centered lyrics that make this an all-time personal favorite.

Whenever I hear any of these songs, I put them in the context of Heavy Metal Love, and enjoy the nostalgia of the moment.  25 years goes by much faster than we expect, but when you look back upon them as fondly as I do because of the one constant force in my life, I can’t help but appreciate the deeper meaning that music has to me, and the significant role that it plays in shaping memories.

Flashback Friday: Manowar – “The Gods Made Heavy Metal”

Manowar The Gods Made Heavy Metal

By 1996, the world had long since sounded heavy metal’s death knell on the heels of the Nirvana-led grunge revolution.  Larger-than-life metal gods clad in leather pants and spikes had given way flannel-wearing introverts who spent more time looking at their own feet than the fans in the audience.  However, reports of heavy metal’s demise were premature and overstated.  The genre never disappeared; it merely fractured into numerous sub-genres while grunge was getting all of the mainstream attention.

Some bands tried unsuccessfully to chase the latest trend, but bands like Manowar lied in wait, ready to rise like a phoenix from the ashes when the time was right.  In 1996, Manowar released Louder Than Hell, their first album since The Triumph Of Steel, which was released in 1992.

If ever there was a band that was ready to fly the heavy metal flag again, it was Manowar.  Featured on Louder Than Hell was the powerful anthem – The Gods Made Heavy Metal.”  Combining mythology and Judas Priest-like rage, the song declared heavy metal as a way of life that could never be destroyed…

“When losers say it’s over with, you know that it’s a lie.  The gods made heavy metal, and it’s never gonna die!”

Power chords, pounding drums, raging guitar solos, raw vocals and anthemic choruses work together to get your blood pumping and your fists raised to the sky as you revel in the fact that metal is alive and well.

“The Gods Made Heavy Metal” probably seemed like bombastic wishful thinking to those that declared heavy metal dead and buried.  But to those who never lost faith, as they waited for the re-emergence of the genre, the song was an inspirational rallying cry that gave hope for a new day of metal.

With rare exception, most of the bands from the “flannel days” are, at best, a fading memory of a dark period of hard rock music.  In contrast, when “The Gods Made Heavy Metal” came on the radio today, my blood started pumping, and driving the speed limit became challenging, as I cranked up one of the defining songs of the re-emergence of metal.

On this Flashback Friday, take a moment to salute Manowar – a band that never lost their faith in heavy metal – by throwing your fist in the air and turning “The Gods Made Heavy Metal” up to eleven!

Flashback Friday: Spotlight on The Winery Dogs

The Winery Dogs

The hard rock music genre has been flourishing in recent years.  With so many great albums coming out each year, some inevitably slip through the cracks and don’t get their proper due at the time of their release.  This was definitely the case with The Winery Dogs, whose debut album was released one year ago this week.

Inspired by The Winery Dogs, Hard Rock Daddy will be taking advantage of Flashback Friday (on occasion) to take a “second bite of the apple” and review noteworthy recent albums.

The timing of this first Flashback Friday article comes on the same day that The Winery Dogs are wrapping up their first-ever “Dog Camp” – an immersive program for aspiring musicians of all ages and skill levels.  Campers were afforded the opportunity to attend instrument-specific clinics, learn songwriting mechanics and enjoy intimate performances from the group (those lucky dogs!).

Often times, “supergroups” come together as a side project for a limited amount of time.  Based on their debut album, we can only hope that The Winery Dogs do not fall into that category.  The chemistry that exists between these three virtuosos is something to behold.  One listen to their debut album and you’ll be left to ponder two questions…

“How is it possible for a new power trio to sound like they have been together for decades?” and “Why did it take them so long to find each other?”

The Winery Dogs march to the beat of a different drummer, and not just because of Mike Portnoy’s incomparable drumming, which together with Billy Sheehan’s signature bass playing, comprises one of the best rhythm sections in hard rock today.  In an unprecedented move, the band put out a box set entitled Dog Treats, less than a year after their debut album was released.

Portnoy and Sheehan were already household names in the hard rock genre for their previous work, so the biggest beneficiary of this supergroup is the band’s highly underrated, dual-threat vocalist/guitarist, Richie Kotzen, whose work on The Winery Dogs’ debut album is nothing short of brilliant.

Kotzen is able to showcase his blues-based guitar virtuosity on the album because of the incredible rhythm section behind him.  From riffs to nuanced guitar parts to shredding leads, Kotzen’s playing is, at times, reminiscent of another legendary guitar player named Ritchie (Blackmore).  And though he draws justifiable comparisons to Soundgarden frontman, Chris Cornell, other (less obvious) vocal influences help shape his style into something unique.

The Winery Dogs debut is a straight forward hard rock album that features a modern take on an old-school, blues rock sound.  Because Kotzen’s vocal similarity to Cornell, it’s easy to compare the album to Soundgarden, but a more in-depth listen reveals many layers and influences from each of the individual members.

Songs like “Not Hopeless” and “Time Machine” showcase the dynamics, intricacies and seamless time changes that Portnoy was famous for with Dream Theater.  The songs also feature the signature sound that Sheehan made famous with Mr. Big’s “Addicted To That Rush.”

There are tasteful moments on the album where the band members each show off their immense talent, but always within the confines of the songs which are generally very melodic, and always incredibly tight.

Kotzen’s vocals shine throughout the album as he showcases his vast range.  On “The Dying” and “Regret,” Kotzen transitions from a soulful, southern rock sound to falsetto accents without missing a beat.

If you are a fan of bluesy hard rock and masterful musicianship, The Winery Dogs debut album is a must-have for your collection.  If the album has somehow eluded you, don’t miss your opportunity to take a second bite of the apple on this Flashback Friday!