By Adam Waldman
The calendar has finally flipped to 2017, but the scars of 2016 remain. 2016 may be remembered for the deaths of several musical icons, but there were some truly memorable live performances that proved that rock and roll is very much alive and well, most notably, Joe Lynn Turner’s stellar solo show.
As rumors swirled that Ritchie Blackmore was ready to step back into the rock arena for a “Rainbow reunion,” JLT seemed like a slam dunk to take center stage once again. Not only was he the frontman featured on some of the band’s biggest hits, but he also is the only singer to have also fronted Deep Purple. If Blackmore was ready to rock again, the first call should have gone to JLT. Inexplicably, it didn’t.
JLT didn’t let Blackmore’s misguided decision stop him from giving the people what they wanted. His show at Revolution on Long Island is everything that you could have asked for in a Rainbow show (even without the enigmatic guitarist present). Not only did JLT deliver brilliant performances of the songs that he made famous with Rainbow, he also did so with the songs that pre-dated him joining the band (while throwing in Deep Purple and Yngwie Malmsteen classics for good measure).
JLT didn’t get nearly the hype that Blackmore got for his Rainbow/Deep Purple live performances, but he deserved it. Amazingly, JLT’s vocals are as strong today as they were over three decades ago when he rose to fame.
CLICK HERE to read the full concert review.
Jeff Scott Soto has a tremendous resume, but he still manages to fly under the radar. In an intimate show on a cold winter night, JSS and his band SOTO delivered an inspired performance, showcasing chemistry that you usually find in bands that have been together for decades.
CLICK HERE to read the full concert review.
SONS OF TEXAS
The first time that I heard “Baptized In The Rio Grande” on SiriusXM’s Octane, I was instantly hooked. With a seasoned sound that goes well beyond their years, the boys from a small Texas town near the Mexican border live up to the saying…“everything’s bigger in Texas.” One of the best newcomers onto the hard rock music scene, Sons Of Texas showed that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.
CLICK HERE to read the full concert review.
Anthrax’s inclusion on this list comes with an asterisk because it wasn’t actually a concert, rather a four-song, show-stealing performance at the recent Epiphone Revolver Music Awards. It’s a testament to the band’s greatness that the crowd was as enthusiastic about the two new songs (“Breathing Lightning” and “Monster At The End”) as they were about the classics (“Caught In The Mosh” and “Indians”).
CLICK HERE to read a full recap of the event.
Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 12/15/16
Each Thursday, Hard Rock Music Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the ’70s, the ’80s (the glory days of hard rock), hidden gems of the ’90s and hard rock/metal songs of the new millennium (as recent as a few years ago).
Whenever possible, it will also contain interviews from featured artists discussing the inspiration and meaning behind their songs. On the last Thursday of each month, we will be doing special themes that feature songs based on specific categories or years.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
JUDAS PRIEST – “United” (1980)
After attending the Epiphone Revolver Music Awards this week (read full story), and being immersed in an environment of like-minded people, it took me back to a time when life was all about music, not politics. Living in the U.S. these days, the “U” in the abbreviation has felt like something of a misnomer, as we are more divided than ever. But for one night, all of the troubles of the world disappeared, and I truly felt like I was a part of one big group. Metal has a way of bringing people together, and no one does it better than Rob Halford and company, with anthems like “United” that feel like much more than a song. It’s more like a rallying cry to their throngs of fans. The song is far from the most popular off of 1980’s British Steel, but it’s one of the most powerful.
JUDAS PRIEST – “Take On The World” (1978)
Judas Priest fans around the world know their 1978 release as Killing Machine. In the U.S., the album was released as Hell Bent For Leather. The title was changed in the U.S. because record company executives didn’t like the “murderous implications” of the title used outside of the country. Regardless of where you live, or what you call the album, the one thing that is consistent for everyone is that it is a Priest classic. “Take On The World” is another us-against-the-world anthem from these heavy metal legends that preaches the power of unity.
ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout
GOJIRA – “Liquid Fire” (2012)
One of the best metal bands to have come out this past decade is France’s Gojira. This band is so unique, it’s hard to fit them into a category. Call them progressive metal or groove metal, but their style stands apart from the masses. “Liquid Fire” is one of these songs that shoves the emotion of the song into your gut when you listen to it, with nihilistic lyrics that make the listener mourn for the destruction of our world. From their fifth studio album, L’Enfant Sauvage, “Liquid Fire” is a masterpiece of a song with both technical uniqueness and social commentary.
TIAMAT – “Cain” (2003)
One of the best goth metal bands around is Sweden’s Tiamat. Formed in 1987, the band’s albums have ranged in genre from death metal to gothic rock. Johan Edlund’s vocals change with the style of the song, from a death metal growl to low whispers building to a crescendo of melodic vocals. Their music sets the mood for any quiet, moonless night. It’s dreamy at times, and oftentimes the keyboards give their songs a hypnotic ambiance. Although I prefer their earlier works (when they were more of a death band), their slowed-down goth rock works for them too. Fans of bands like Sisters of Mercy would enjoy Tiamat.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
YNGWIE MALMSTEEN – “Don’t Let It End” (1985)
Guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen took the metal world by storm in 1984 with his debut album, Rising Force. He followed it up a year later with another masterful entry into the genre with Marching Out. This song nicely highlights Yngwie’s blistering riffs and Jeff Scott Solo’s soaring range on vocals as well.
IMPELLITTERI – “Stand in Line” (1988)
When forming the band Impellitteri, guitar virtuoso Chris Impelliteri originally recruited Rob Rock for vocals. They released an EP together, but the band’s first full album was 1988’s Stand In Line, featuring Graham Bonnett (Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz) on vocals. Since then, both singers have appeared on different albums, with Rock as the current singer over the past ten years. Here on the title track to the band’s first full-length album, Bonnett and Impellitteri work some magic together, playing off each other beautifully. Also, check out their remake of Rainbow’s “Since You Been Gone.”
Music Discovery Monday – 8/8/16
Music Discovery Monday shines a light on artists that are not getting the radio attention that they deserve, while also showcasing new singles by established bands that are likely to get airplay in the future.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
PUNKY MEADOWS – “Straight Shooter”
The ‘80s and glam metal are virtually synonymous, but not every glam band got the recognition that they deserved during the decade of decadence. Musically and stylistically, Angel should have been one of the biggest bands of that era, but they never rose above the level of having a cult following. The band’s guitarist, Punky Meadows, was well-respected for his playing, but ridiculed by rock critics (along with the rest of Angel) for his all-white outfits and androgynous image. Even Frank Zappa piled on with his song “Punky’s Whips,” but Meadows took it all in good stride, even appearing on stage during a Zappa concert in his Angel costume back in the day.
Between 1975 and 1980, Angel released five studio albums and one live album. By 1981, the band had called it quits, although they would release anthologies and collections in the ‘90s and 2000s. After a lengthy absence, Meadows has returned with a solo album entitled Fallen Angel (an autobiographical play on words). However, one listen to “Straight Shooter” (a single from the album), proves that he certainly would have been justified to call the album “An Angel has Risen” if he so chose.
The song starts off with a huge intro, symbolic of the time period when Angel was at their peak. Meadows couldn’t have chosen a better singer for his return than Chandler Mogel, a brilliant young vocalist with an “old soul” who would have been a household name if he was around during the time that classic rock was current. Meadows’ memorable riffs and leads leave you wondering why he took so long to come out of retirement. In fact, you have to wonder why he ever retired in the first place. No matter. He’s back now and you should make it a point to check out this timeless single (and the rest of the album).
KANSAS – “With This Heart”
You know how you can go years without seeing a good friend and pick up right where you left off as if there was never a separation? That’s the same feeling that you get when you listen to “With This Heart” from Kansas’ first studio album in 16 years (The Prelude Implicit – dropping September 23rd). If you loved Kansas in the ‘70s and ‘80s, “With This Heart” will feel like a reunion of sorts. In fact, with Ronnie Platt’s soaring vocals, highlighted by the beautiful violin work of David Ragsdale and the distinct sound of David Manion’s B3 organ and keyboards, this song makes you feel like you’ve been frozen in time (in a joyfully nostalgic way).
Many years ago, when Steve Walsh was briefly replaced by John Elefante, Kansas released some outstanding material, albeit with a bit of a shift away from their traditional sound. With Platt at the helm (after Walsh’s retirement from the band), Kansas of today seamlessly bridges the gap to Kansas of yesteryear. If “With This Heart” is a “prelude” of things to come in September, Kansas fans will not be disappointed!
ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout
NECROMANCING THE STONE – “The Descent”
One of the newer bands that I have found really impressive is Pittsburgh’s Necromancing The Stone. This band has been around since 2014, and features previous members of bands such as Arsis, The Absence, Brimstone Coven and Black Dahlia Murder. Their blend of traditional and power metal reminds me of an old school, heavier version of bands such as Dio and Judas Priest. Their new album, Jewel of the Vile, is filled to the brim with melodic harmonies, fancy guitar work and a pounding rhythm section that throws in a few surprising blast beats for good measure. Be on the lookout for these guys!
KADAVAR – “Filthy Illusion”
Looking for an old school, classic metal band in 2016? This 3-piece outfit from Germany is what you are looking for! From their album Berlin, “Filthy Illusion” has the look, the feel and the sound straight out of the 1970s. Obviously influenced by Zeppelin and Sabbath (and not afraid to show it), these guys take their stoner/psychedelic rock sound to a whole other level by incorporating a few modern elements to their songs. Take a trip back to the ’70s and check out this album.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
SALIVA – “Trust”
Saliva, out of Memphis, Tennessee, has been on the rock scene for 20 years now. They’ve gone through many lineup changes but keep putting out solid music, including this opener from their latest album, Love, Lies, & Therapy. Brimming with angst and accusations, the lyrics are perfectly conveyed by the brooding music.
MICHAEL SWEET – “Bizarre”
When he’s not fronting ‘80s metal superstars Stryper, collaborating with guitar legend George Lynch, or contributing to any number of other music projects, vocalist Michael Sweet finds the time to put out some amazing solo material. His latest album, One Sided War, is due out later this month, and features guitarist Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake) and drummer Will Hunt (Evanescence). This thunderous opener sets the pace for what he has called his heaviest solo album yet.
CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout
DYNAZTY – “The Human Paradox”
“The Human Paradox” is the lead track from Dynazty’s fifth studio album, Titanic Mass. Melodic and up-tempo, this track has a great driving rhythm, catchy choruses and a heavy, yet bright, sound. Nils Molin shows off great range and power in his vocals. Excellent work as well from George Egg on drums and bassist Jonathan Olsson, who also split time performing as part of the Paralydium Project.
SOTO – “Weight Of The World”
Jeff Scott Soto leads the band bearing his name on their second album, entitled Divak (pronouced ‘Dee-vok’). With Soto, JSS revisits the heavier side of his career (like his early days with Yngwie Malmsteen). “Weight Of The World” is abundantly heavy, with great vocals complemented by notable contributions from lead guitarist Jorge Salan and drummer Edu Cominato. JSS and Cominato are also the producers of the album.
To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com
By Adam Waldman
Jeff Scott Soto is one of the most talented singers in hard rock, and has been for some time. Yet somehow, he still flies under the radar of many. If there is any justice, his latest project will open the eyes (and ears) of the masses. Like Van Halen, DIO and Dokken, SOTO is a band that bears the name of its founder. What makes SOTO so special is the talent that JSS has surrounded himself with at this point in his career.
Although JSS is far from a household name, his resume alone would lead you to believe that he would have some semblance of a road crew on his current tour. However, the man that owns the stage and the crowd once the lights go down, works tirelessly to keep the show on the road (so to speak) during his “off hours.”
JSS and I have gotten to know each other through the features that I’ve done on Hard Rock Daddy, but never got the chance to meet face-to-face until this past week when SOTO rolled through town. To say that the night of the concert was frigid would be an understatement. It was the type of bitter cold winter night where many choose to stay home rather than braving the elements, but for SOTO, the show must go on.
In speaking to JSS before the show, I asked if the setlist was going to exclusively feature songs from the two SOTO albums, to which he replied (with a smile on his face)…“I can’t tell you that…you would lose the element of surprise.” He was right. I was guilty of exhibiting the instant gratification mentality that has become all too common these days. It is that same mindset that will cause some of you to skim this article looking for the Top 10 Reasons Why You MUST Go See SOTO Live.
So, here goes…
- Inside The Vertigo
- Brazil / Spain
- Steel Dragon
- 5-Part Vocal Harmonies
- Steel Panther
The above list is cryptic by design. If I learned anything from my conversation with JSS, it is that it is better to forgo instant gratification and embrace the element of surprise. Those who are truly interested in the journey (and not just the destination) should read on to find out why you MUST go see SOTO in a live setting.
One of the true signs of a professional is playing with the same passion and intensity for a club crowd as you would for an arena or stadium show. It didn’t take long to see that SOTO is a band of true professionals. From the first song to the last, SOTO delivered a night of pure entertainment, despite the fact that they were playing on a tight stage with limited lighting and no soundcheck prior to performing.
While many frontmen with JSS’s resume would have felt slighted, he owned the moment by joking about the situation to the intimate (but passionate) crowd. Though the setting was the equivalent of being part of a group of friends watching a private show, the brilliant performance was the stuff that legends are made of.
The entire performance was as diverse as the career of JSS, ranging from heavy rockers to melodic ballads to cool grooves to acapella. All of the songs and styles worked equally well, which is a true testament to the players that JSS has assembled around him from different parts of the world.
As you watch the lead guitar work of Spain’s Jorge Salán, you can’t help but wonder how he (like JSS) has managed to fly below the radar of the masses. With Salán, it goes well beyond shredding (which he can do with the best of them). It’s the Slash-like musicality that really sets him apart from many others.
Although JSS calls California his home now, he is originally from Brooklyn, which happens to be the hometown of bassist David Z. Often times, bass players don’t get much of the glory, but because Z. is such a showman, he shared the spotlight with JSS and Salán. This was no easy feat given the cramped quarters on a stage with a limited spotlight. You can see why JSS tapped Z. for this band. The duo’s personalities play off of each other perfectly, and his incredible 6-string bass playing adds another layer to an already deep band.
Out of the spotlight (both figuratively and literally) were the Brazilian duo of BJ (keys/guitars) and Edu Cominato (drums). Like the rest of SOTO, this duo not only added to the incredible chemistry of the band musically, but vocally as well. In fact, it’s hard to recall seeing another band with five singers as talented as the members of SOTO.
If you took a time machine back to Sunset Strip in the mid-‘80s to see SOTO perform in a club, you would swear that you were witnessing a band about to break out to the next level to do arena shows. In 2016, arena shows barely exist in the hard rock and metal genres, but if you are lucky enough to catch SOTO perform live, you will be treated to an arena-like concert in an intimate setting.
Because JSS was right about the element of surprise being something that you should look forward to, I will not share the setlist here. The truth of the matter is that you don’t need to know one song to enjoy SOTO live. All you need is an appreciation for outstanding musicianship. Suffice it to say that the band performs a wide variety of songs and styles from different time periods of JSS’s career, all of which are equally entertaining. Simply stated, this is one of the best club shows that I’ve seen in many years. When you get the chance to experience this kind of band in an intimate setting, grab it! You will NOT be disappointed!
CLICK HERE for SOTO tour dates.
HRD RADIO REPORT
The HRD Radio Report showcases the weekly Active Rock Mediabase Charts (compiled by AllAccess.com), and appears every Tuesday on HardRockDaddy.com. The HRD Radio Report digs deeper into the weekly Active Rock charts, providing commentary, reviews, recommendations and predictions. It also features opinion pieces on chart action and the music business in general.
Many of the artists featured on the Active Rock charts have already been reviewed on HardRockDaddy.com.
Click on the hyperlinked song titles to read song reviews, and the hyperlinked artist names to read album reviews.
The following is the Active Rock Mediabase Chart for the week ending 2/6/16. All exclusive HRD content is featured below the chart:
|THIS WEEK||LAST WEEK||THIS WEEK|
|1||1||SHINEDOWN||“State Of My Head”||2163|
|2||3||POP EVIL||“Ways To Get High”||1732|
|3||6||FOO FIGHTERS||“Saint Cecilia”||1415|
|4||2||FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH||“Wash It Away”||1382|
|6||7||NOTHING MORE||“Here’s To The Heartache”||1333|
|10||9||3 DOORS DOWN||“In The Dark”||1062|
|11||11||CAGE THE ELEPHANT||“Mess Around”||997|
|12||12||TRIVIUM||“Until The World Goes Cold”||926|
|13||24||DISTURBED||“The Sound Of Silence”||811|
|14||15||BRING ME THE HORIZON||“Happy Song”||800|
|15||14||SAINT ASONIA||“Let Me Live My Life”||740|
|16||17||FROM ASHES TO NEW||“Through It All”||653|
|17||22||PAPA ROACH||“Falling Apart”||614|
|18||18||PARKWAY DRIVE||“Vice Grip”||566|
|19||20||SHAMAN’S HARVEST||“In Chains”||564|
|20||19||RED SUN RISING||“Emotionless”||564|
|21||21||ARANDA||“We Are The Enemy”||460|
|22||16||THEORY OF A DEADMAN||“Blow”||435|
|23||27||ADELITA’S WAY||“Bad Reputation”||391|
|24||23||ALL THAT REMAINS||“Victory Lap”||385|
|25||26||THE STRUTS||“Kiss This”||380|
|26||25||ESCAPE THE FATE||“Alive”||361|
|28||30||STITCHED UP HEART||“Finally Free”||325|
|31||31||DROWNING POOL||“By The Blood”||258|
|32||32||ANDREW WATT||“Ghost In My Head”||255|
|35||51||ROB ZOMBIE||“Well, Everybody’s…in a UFO”||233|
|36||41||DEVOUR THE DAY||“Lightning In The Sky”||194|
|37||36||NATHANIEL RATELIFF / NIGHTSWEATS||“S.O.B.”||186|
|38||35||TYLER BRYANT & THE SHAKEDOWN||“Loaded Dice & Buried Money”||167|
|39||37||TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA||“Forget About The Blame”||159|
|41||43||FOALS||“Mountain At My Gates”||125|
|43||78||KILLSWITCH ENGAGE||“Hate By Design”||114|
|47||49||BLACK STONE CHERRY||“In Our Dreams”||99|
|50||0||FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH||“My Nemesis”||77|
PUBLISHER’S PICK OF THE WEEK (by Adam Waldman)
SOTO – “FreakShow”
Whether you’re familiar with the vocal powerhouse that is Jeff Scott Soto or not, it’s not likely that you’ve experienced his previous work on an Active Rock radio station. With his latest band, SOTO, which features “a union of hotshot young musicians,” JSS has dialed it up a notch. Fulfilling a desire to return to his heavier roots (after playing with the likes of Journey and Yngwie Malmsteen), JSS has put together a band that is as formidable as any on the Active Rock music scene today. Following up SOTO’s debut album (Inside The Vertigo), the band is set to release their sophomore album (Divak) in April. Ahead of the album release, SOTO has dropped “FreakShow,” a powerful single that features a heavy groove, intense rhythm, and of course, the stellar vocals of JSS. Active Rock may not be the sandbox that Soto is known for playing in, but with this killer track, that should change. Don’t be mislead by a background that is decidedly more mainstream. “FreakShow” is in the wheelhouse of format heavyweights Sevendust. In fact, if Sevendust recorded this song, there’s no doubt that it would shoot up the charts. It’s time for the Active Rock world to discover what many others already know…JSS is a force to be reckoned with, and so are the rest of the musicians that make up SOTO.
HRD SPIN CONTROL (by Adam Waldman and Jon Loveless)
Each week, we will share the songs that we think should be added to rotations, alongside the songs that we feel should be dropped from rotations, either because they are a bad fit for the format, or because they have run their course and it’s time for a new single from the artist.
SOTO – “FreakShow”
EVANS BLUE – “iGod”
SMASHING SATELLITES – “Gamblin Man”
BOBAFLEX – “A Spider In The Dark”
VEER UNION – “Defying Gravity”
HANDS LIKE HOUSES – “New Romantics”
UGLY KID JOE – “Bad Seed”
Foals – “Mountain At My Gates”
Twenty One Pilots – “Stressed Out”
Nate Rateliff & The Nightsweats – “S.O.B.”
Cage The Elephant – “Mess Around”
The Struts – “Kiss This”
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – “Forget About The Blame”
Pucifier – “The Remedy”
THE BREAKDOWN by Jon Loveless
KING OF THE HILL
Shinedown retains in the top spot on this week’s Mediabase Active Rock airplay chart, and looks as though they may be safe for at least another week or two. Pop Evil made a small dent in the sizable gap between themselves and #1, but still lags nearly 20% behind the frontrunner in spins. Foo Fighters’ “Saint Cecilia” enjoyed a three-spot climb on more than 10% increased airplay, but still remains well behind the top two.
NOTABLE CHART MOVEMENT
No new arrivals in the Top 10 this week, just some shuffling of the order, but that seems likely to change next week with three of the songs now falling…
Format powerhouses Disturbed and Papa Roach both reach the Top 20 with their latest singles…
Breaking into the Top 30 for the first time is “Impossible,” from Lacey Sturm’s solo effort…
Two songs are newly arrived in the Top 40, led by the debut of a NSFW (not safe for work) title from Rob Zombie that nearly quadrupled its total spins from the week before…
New to the Top 50 (compared to last week’s published chart) are four additional songs, the highest debut being “Hate By Design,” the latest from Killswitch Engage.
THREE UP & THREE DOWN
Foo Fighters – “Ways To Get High”
Disturbed – “The Sound Of Silence”
Rob Zombie – “Well, Everybody’s…in a UFO”
Five Finger Death Punch – “Wash It All Away”
Disturbed – “The Light”
Theory Of A Deadman – “Blow”
TRENDS AND OBSERVATIONS
A small bit of “inside radio” to consider. The “Going For Adds” date is when labels and artists start to push for stations to add a particular song to their respective playlists. Coordinating the airplay creates the best opportunity for songs to achieve a critical mass of spins, which in turn produces the highest possible chart position. This also conveniently serves the real purpose for singles to exist – sales of albums and/or tickets.
In some respects, stations jumping the gun (and disregarding the “Going For Adds” date) is a plus for listeners, who get new music sooner because of the decision. On the other hand, it can turn into a drag if stations are reluctant to move on from a song because it remains on the chart or “keeps its bullet” (the terminology which indicates that a song is still climbing the chart/gaining airplay).
This week’s chart includes around a half dozen songs that first showed signs of U.S. airplay back in August of 2015. There are simply too many menu options for listeners to be fed the same lunch day after day after day. The “early adopters” need to realize that they should also be the first ones to move on from any song that they jump the gun on so that the songs don’t become “stale” to their listening audience, which ultimately hurts the artist more than it helps.
That’s all for this week. Tune in to HardRockDaddy.com every Tuesday for the HRD Radio Report. \m/
Hard Rock Daddy presents Music Discovery Monday – 1/19/15.
Each week, the HRD team shares songs that fly below radio’s radar, ranging from lesser-known artists to deeper cuts from both up-and-coming and established artists.
In addition to exposing the Hard Rock Daddy audience to new music that isn’t getting the attention that it deserves from radio, Music Discovery Monday also features a segment called “Hard Rock Music Time Machine,” which showcases older songs (from the 70s to today) that hard rock music fans may have missed at the time of release.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlists beneath each section, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles.
Some of this week’s songs appear on the recently published Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2014.
On this week’s Music Discovery Monday, we talk to Gary Noon of Walking With Giants.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
WALKING WITH GIANTS – “Chasing Light”
There is always a story behind the name of a band, but few are as telling as Walking With Giants, the brainchild of guitarist/vocalist, Gary Noon. With plenty of talent, an ability to build relationships and the mettle to approach the musicians who have inspired him most, Noon is indeed “walking with giants” and living the dream.
In addition to Noon, the rest of the studio band is comprised of guitarist, Clint Lowery (Sevendust) and Alter Bridge’s outstanding rhythm section – Scott Phillips (drums) and Brian Marshall (bass).
With Lowery’s writing, playing and production roles, you might expect a heavy Sevendust influence, but Walking With Giants has its own distinct style.
“Chasing Light” features a cool, Chris DeGarmo (Queensryche) guitar vibe, and textured vocal harmonies that are reminiscent of King’s X, but other than that, WWG’s sound is something unique that must be experienced to fully appreciate.
While discussing the inspiration behind “Chasing Light” in a recent interview with Gary Noon, he stated…
“The song started with a riff that I had been working with for a while, and really loved, but had a hard time finding the chorus. Collaborating with Clint brought the song to life as he refined the track before working on the vocals together.
The dark, brooding vibe of the song (that also has a dash of hope) helped to inspire the lyrics. Although the lyrics have meaning to me, I like to leave things open to interpretation by the listeners. Overall, I think that ‘Chasing Light’ features a little bit of everything that Walking With Giants has to offer, so it’s a good introduction to the band.”
KILLER BE KILLED – “Wings Of Feather And Wax”
It is said that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – an apt description of Killer Be Killed if ever there was one. This is not to say that each member isn’t an outstanding musician in their own right (because they are), but rather that the sound created by this collaboration is something totally unique. “Wings Of Feather And Wax” is a “killer” tune (no pun intended) that is as intense and heavy as it is melodic. Featuring members of Soulfly, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Mars Volta and Mastodon, Killer Be Killed is an intriguing and inspired side project.
JON LOVELESS – HRD Music Scout
JEFF LaBAR – “No Strings”
The solo album of Cinderella bandmate, Tom Keifer, may have attracted more attention, but One For The Road (the debut solo project from the band’s guitarist) may be a better fit for longtime fans. Not only does LaBar pull double-duty on guitar and vocals, but he also played everything on the album aside from drums (which was handled in studio by Tesla’s Troy Luccketta). After hearing his first solo album, I’m left wondering…“why did he wait so long?”
MACH 22 – “Go Ahead”
For a relatively new band, this Philadelphia outfit shows a remarkable amount of polish. It’s no wonder that they were handpicked by Slash as the winner of a contest that had several thousand entries. “New” does not mean inexperienced however. Vocalist, Lamont Caldwell, hit the road with a soul band over a decade ago, guitarist Sebastian LaBar (son of Cinderella’s Jeff LaBar) was rather literally raised on rock, and the other members are also experienced on the road and the stage. This straight ahead rock shows a lot of promise for the future.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
SERIOUS BLACK – “High And Low”
Serious Black are set to release their debut album, As Daylight Breaks, tomorrow; and if the rip-roaring “High and Low” is any indicator, we are in for a very special power metal treat. One would already have expected amazing music from a super-group featuring Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween) and Dominik Sebastian (Edenbridge) on guitars, Thomen Stauch (ex-Blind Guardian) on drums, Mario Lochert (ex-Visions Of Atlantis) on bass, and Jan Vacik (ex-Dreamscape) on keyboards. Add to that mix the amazing vocals of Urban Breed (ex-Tad Morose), and this just may be the most anticipated release of 2015 for power metal fans.
JADED HEART – “Schizophrenic”
Despite some lineup changes, Jaded Heart continues to put out the highest quality melodic metal. “Schizophrenic” rushes in with a trembling synthesizer before the drums and heavy guitars declare themselves, followed by soaring vocals and layered choruses.
CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout
BATTLE BEAST – “Wild Child”
Blackie Lawless & W.A.S.P. get some deserved deference for one of their best songs with this bonus track from Unholy Savior, by Finnish power metal group Battle Beast. This one is true to the original with a surprisingly good match on vocals from Noora Louhimo.
ABANDON HOPE – “Sally”
Grundgy, alternative metal from Germany’s Abandon Hope with “Sally,” from the band’s Settle the Score album. It has a great, powerful, raw rhythm, with active lead guitar licks throughout and an excellent solo by Wladlen Schöner, which accompanies Michael Homborg’s emotional vocals, and exits with an unexpected and elegant respite.
HARD ROCK MUSIC TIME MACHINE
KING’S X – “Pillow” (1994)
Released 21 years ago yesterday, the fifth studio album by King’s X, Dogman, is unfortunately known more for its four different color album cover variations than the inspired music featured on the record. Under the direction of famed producer, Brendan O’Brien, this album marked a transition to a heavier sound for King’s X. Although frontman, Doug Pinnick, believes that Dogman features the quintessential King’s X sound, the lack of a hit single makes this something of a hidden gem. The brilliance of “Pillow” lies within the blending of heavy, Sabbath-esque riffs, signature King’s X vocal harmonies and tight, dramatic pauses that are as musical as the instruments themselves.
With no hit single, Dogman, is an album that is under most peoples’ radar, but “Pillow” definitely deserved more attention than it got when the album was released.
COHEED AND CAMBRIA – “Welcome Home” (2005)
It is unconventional to release a single that is over six minutes long, but then again, conventionality is not what Coheed And Cambria is all about. Aside from having a truly unique musical style, is there another band that would come up with an album title that would be challenging to fit onto one side of a concert shirt? From their 2005 release, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, “Welcome Home” begins with a brief acoustic guitar picking intro before kicking in with a shredding guitar and a rhythm that features an interesting blend of Led Zeppelin and Dream Theater influences. If you weren’t a fan of prog rock before hearing this track, you will be by the time this 6:15-minute musical journey ends.
ADRENALINE MOB – “Indifferent” (2012)
Despite having eight members in less than three years, the most consistent factor in the music from this supergroup is the remarkable voice of Russell Allen. He delivers, as usual, on the band’s first full studio album with “Indifferent,” a song that’s actually more complex and somewhat more laid back than the straight-ahead, aggressive sound that Adrenaline Mob is probably more associated with.
THREE DAYS GRACE – “It’s All Over” (2006)
The second studio album from these active rock mainstays produced three number one hits and solidified their place as a core artist in the format. This particular track may have been a little too dark for radio play, but it’s a strong song that certainly shows the influence of (then) vocalist, Adam Gontier, having written a large part of the album while in rehab for painkiller addiction.
PINK CREAM 69 – “Last Train To Nowhere” (2007)
Pink Cream 69 have put out amazing music for nearly thirty years. From their 2007 album In10sity, “Last Train to Nowhere” stands out as a song of despair, beautifully crafted and thick with feeling, but that flew under the radar with so many other amazing songs from that same album. It’s brilliantly written music and poignant lyrics that will leave your heart a little heavier.
HARDLINE – “Everything” (1992)
Great melodic hard rock/metal from Hardline from over 20 years ago. “Everything” features Johnny Gioeli’s strong vocals, a bright, up-beat rhythm, memorable chorus and the unmistakable wailing solo from Neal Schon (who also produced the album).
YNGWIE MALMSTEEN – “Don’t Let It End” (1985)
Let’s journey back 30 years in the time machine to one of my all-time favorites – a classic from Yngwie with Jeff Scott Soto on vocals. Great formula of calm-to-heavy, this track is driving and dramatic. Yngwie needs no describing, and the yearning and emotion in Soto’s towering vocals grab you and don’t let go.
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The shock and sadness that is being felt around the world today after legendary actor and comedian, Robin Williams, committed suicide has made it difficult to focus on music. He touched the lives of so many in a way that very few others could, and his passing is having a greater impact than most celebrity deaths.
It’s always sad to see anyone die before their time. In some ways, we all feel like we know public figures, so we feel the loss to varying degrees. Personally speaking, the only loss in recent memory that had a meaningful impact on me was Ronnie James Dio, so it’s appropriate that the rocker reactions being shared in this article begin with the status update from RJD’s Facebook page…
Ronnie James Dio (Facebook Page) – We along with the rest of the world are in shock right now. RIP Robin Williams! You were a true comedic genius! Our love and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans! You are with Ronnie now, RIP Robin! You will be missed!
Ozzy Osbourne – Such a tragic loss. I will always have amazing memories of Robin Williams. Respect and love goes out to his family.
Mark Slaughter – Fly to the Angels, Robin Williams. Gone but never forgotten. You could never escape the demons that sometimes took your breath away, but you gave us all something priceless and something forever and ever. Thank you for everything. Now, rest.
Tommy Lee – This is the saddest day ever! The kindest man I have ever met leaves us all today! Robin! my heart bleeds!
Nikki Sixx – Life is so very fragile. RIP Robin. You gave us all such joy. L
Jeff Scott Soto – So sad to see the report of Robin Williams found dead of apparent suicide…I got to meet him last year as he is a childhood hero of mine, so bummed I was too chicken to ask for a photo with him. My heart goes out to his family!
Tony Harnell – I think we’re all having a hard time processing the loss of Robin Williams. I don’t really have anything profound to add to what so many have already said except that to me he was a genius and he made me laugh and cry and everything in between.
Myles Kennedy – So many tweets mourning the loss of Robin Williams. Definitely a testament to how much his talent resonated with so many of us.
Flea – Holy shit. R.I.P. Robin Williams. Grew up with that man. What beautiful gifts he gave to us.
Tom Morrello – RIP fellow Illinois Entertainer-In-Arms. Thank you for bringing joy to so many with your peerless wit.
Sixx Sense – We are saddened by the death today of Robin Williams. He was a gifted comedian and talented actor. He was also a humanitarian who helped co-found Comic Relief – which raised money for the homeless. RIP
Dee Snider’s House Of Hair – RIP Robin – you kept us laughing for 40 years… now you make us cry. You will be missed.
Styx – Our lives changed for the better every time we watched “Good Will Hunting.” RIP Robin Williams. You will be missed.
Nonpoint – RIP Robin Williams. One of the best actors ever.
Decyfer Down – It’s very sad to know that a man who’s name we’ve known all our lives, and who’s comedy and acting have brought smiles to our faces so many times is gone. His family is in our prayers. RIP Robin Williams.
White Wizzard – A world with no Robin Williams in it has a large void that is forever irreplaceable. Like Pryor and Carlin, gone too soon and will never be duplicated. Death sucks.
The thoughts shared by hard rock community are also shared by Hard Rock Daddy. I never thought about it until I heard the news of his passing, but Robin Williams has been a part of my life since I was a kid.
I still remember watching the episode of Happy Days where Mork from Ork battled Fonzie back in 1978, and then watching every episode of Mork & Mindy from 1978-1982. After numerous memorable movie roles, Williams returned to TV recently as Simon Roberts, on one of the most underrated shows in recent memory – The Crazy Ones.
He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Robin! Thanks for the memories!