Where Do We Go From Here?

 

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In the beginning, Rock N’ Roll was underground. It was not mainstream at all. Eventually it became widely accepted and part of our culture.

Rock radio helped to expose us to bands and music in ways like no other. There was a time when that was how we discovered new bands and songs. Record stores popped up everywhere and one could hang out and explore and find new music as well. We then had the arrival of music video channels which gave us another source to discover new bands and music.

Then radio became less user friendly and more commercial, only playing what they were told. The record stores began closing their doors. Music video channels stopped playing music videos. What happened?

The internet had come along and was added into the thick of things. Some people put the blame on that.

What happened to the music world? Is there still great new music being made? How does one find new music these days? I mean with all the music being flooded onto the web how does one find that jewel that reaches out to you?

Do you think that some of the bands we all know and love would have made it if they had just started out in today’s world?

I often wonder if the next Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, etc. etc.  is out there lost in the shuffle.

Just some thoughts I was pondering… what are yours?

-the Hellion

STRYPER – To Hell With The Devil tour 2016 – 10/23/16 Albuquerque, NM

     It was a perfect Sunday afternoon as I pulled up to the Lobo Theater for the Stryper show. I was pleasantly surprised to see a line had already formed in front of the building. I made my way towards the door and sorted out my entry so I could prepare to shoot the evening’s festivities.  

     The people who had purchased the pre show meet and greet (there were quite a few of them) were finishing up and allowed to form a line in the lobby. The sound check was starting up and I decided to walk around and visit with the fans. I was shown various items that had been signed (one cool item was an original vinyl copy of To Hell With The Devil.

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Steve Civerolo with his dad Paul

      Overall there was a sense of love for Stryper. I found it very cool to see people I knew to be fans of various Hard Rock bands that one usually does not associate with Stryper, telling me how much they meant to them. One special moment for me was seeing my good friend Derek Leyba be given the opportunity to help with load in for the band. The joy in his eyes was immensely satisfying. 

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Derek Leyba

     I went back in and found the band taking their time with the sound check to get it right. The thing that impressed me was the fact that they were willing to take that extra time to give their fans a high-quality show. Eventually everyone was satisfied with the sound check and whisked off to don the Black and Yellow.

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     I began my set up in the photo pit and waited for the crush of the crowd when the doors were opened. Funny thing, that didn’t happen. People were kind and civil as they packed in. I saw many friends of mine and many hugs were given. Then, the lights went down and business was about to begin.

     The show began with a cool video history of Stryper which led into a countdown. When the lights came there they were, in their Black and Yellow glory, STRYPER!!!

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Michael Sweet

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Robert Sweet

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Oz Fox

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Tim Gaines

     They took us back to 1986 instantly as they played through To Hell With The Devil in its entirety. The band was spot on not missing a lick of the album they had created so many years ago. Song after song was delivered and it seemed the band grew more energetic as did the crowd. After completing the album To Hell With The Devil Stryper ran through some of their crowd favorites and some more current songs. I can definitely say that they left the crowd satisfied.   There was a very cool moment during the set when Michael was talking to the crowd and one guy professed his love of the band and you could hear it in his voice.

     For moments here and there I actually felt like I was a 22-year-old again watching them for the first time. The playing, the vocals, the stage and the costumes were perfect. I am so very pleased to see that the years have only made them a better, stronger band. If you have the chance do yourself a favor and catch Stryper on this tour, you will NOT be disappointed!

     Thanks Michael Sweet, Robert Sweet, Oz Fox, and Tim Gaines for a great time and a reminder of how the music community should treat each other.

   it’s the Yellow and Black Attack, it’s STRYPER!!!

     – the Hellion

Adam Joad talks Swamp Rebel Machine!!

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Grab a cold one, crank up the volume, and enjoy my conversation with the one, the only, Appalachian Apostle: ADAM JOAD from Scattered Hamlet.

After listening go to www.scatteredhamlet.com  and preorder Swamp Rebel Machine!!!

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it Scattered Hamlet!!!

-the Hellion

Here’s what’s up with Justin Manning

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Had the chance to chat with Justin Manning about some stuff…so check it out:

     -the Hellion

Monte Pittman releases Inverted Grasp Of Balance

 

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    I recently received the new Monte Pittman record Inverted Grasp Of Balance for review. Little did I know that it would cause me to have a profound revelation to a question I have been seeking an answer to.  Over the years of recorded music people have been trying to answer the question: What makes a record good? There has been a myriad of answers that run the gamut of the music industry. The problem is most of the answers that have been provided are subjective to the answerer and biased to their own opinions. For me, at least, I feel that I have finally answered said question. A good record is one that when you put it on you find yourself turning it up, tapping your foot or nodding your head to the beat, and when it’s over you find yourself feeling as if you just got back from…somewhere.

     I was excited to review this record as I have spoken with Monte before and have enjoyed his previous work. I didn’t realize that I would spend the rest of the day and the next listening to it on repeat and still humming the songs long after. There is a level of craftsmanship to this record that is hard to find these days (one other is the work of Jeff Sandoval and Mike Araiza). There is no doubt that music flows through the soul of Monte Pittman and I hear nods to so many musicians in his playing and writing.  When a record is made for the purpose of sharing what one feels in their minds ear, it is profound and beautiful.

      Inverted Grasp Of Balance  features Monte on guitars and vocals, Richard Christy (Charred Walls Of The Damned, Iced Earth, Death) on drums, and…..wait for it….Billy Sheehan, yes I said Billy Sheehan (David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, Winery Dogs, just to name a few) on bass. Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther) handled the production duties and the record sounds clean and crisp. I read somewhere that Monte recorded his guitar parts while on the road, but this record feels so organic to me and it feels like someone turned on a mic in a jam room and captured some live magic.

     Inverted Grasp Of Balance gives us twelve tracks which flow together beautifully and I guarantee you will NOT find yourself reaching for the skip button, in fact you WILL find yourself reaching for the repeat button.

     If you have to pin me down for stand out tracks I would have to say “Skeleton Key” just reaches out to me the most. This track, in my opinion should be on every radio station across the planet, period. It’s just good rock n’ roll that gets in your head.I find myself just humming throughout the day.  “California” opens with bass that just drips with cool and is pure Billy Sheehan and then paints a picture in your mind of being on a cool road trip with the radio blasting, the wind in your hair, and your best friends at your side.  “New Blood Keeps Us Alive” is an epic track that, again, I feel should be blasting out of every speaker across the world. It begins with some wonderfully beautiful acoustic work that grows to some powerful rock n’ roll worthy of note. This song opens up the mind and makes you reflect on life.

      Monte’s guitar work is across the map on Inverted Grasp Of Balance, taking from gentle acoustic to balls out shredding, and it all works in connection with each other. Not only is there stellar guitar work here Monte’s vocal work is strong and epic as well. The songwriting on  Inverted Grasp Of Balance is something else. Monte has reached deep within and written some deep compositions that I believe were truly from the point of artistry.  Combine all of that with great drumming and legendary bass playing this is a music lovers wet-dream.

          Inverted Grasp Of Balance drops on Sept 23 on Metal Blade Records make sure you do NOT miss out on this record.

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 Inverted Grasp Of Balance track-listing
1. Panic Attack
2. Arisen in Broad Daylight
3. Guilty Pleasure
4. The Times Are Changing
5. Double Edged Sword
6. Cadabra
7. Pride Comes Before the Fall
8. California
9. Be Very Afraid
10. Obliterated
11. Skeleton Key
12. New Blood Keeps Us Alive

Pre-order “Inverted Grasp of Balance” at metalblade.com/montepittman/

Monte Pittman online:
http://www.montepittman.com
https://www.facebook.com/MontePittman
http://www.youtube.com/MontePittmanMusic
https://soundcloud.com/montepittman
http://twitter.com/montepittman
http://www.instagram.com/montepittman
https://montepittman.bandpage.com
https://myspace.com/montepittman

     it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s Monte Pittman

     -the Hellion

Metallica: Hardwired…to…

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Hit The Lights” was the first track I ever heard from Metallica. I liked the energy and aggression I heard. I thought myself “These guys have something here.”

Well, we all know how that turned out. Metallica, for me at least, has had its ups and downs. But this is something to expect when people grow and their life situations change around them. In the beginning there was a hunger in them, a drive, a sense of angry passion to be heard, they had something to prove.

Over time Metallica went through some changes that like it or not affected the direction of the band.

By the time Kill ‘Em All was released the lineup consisted of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Cliff Burton. The kings of thrash were ready to kick ass and take names.

We got two more fantastic records from this lineup Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets before the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton. This is where I feel the first chapter closed and the band began to undergo some changes.

The hard choice for them at this time was to find someone who could step up and climb aboard the speeding freight train that was Metallica at this time. That someone had some seriously big shoes to fill as Cliff Burton was a fan favorite. Metallica tapped Jason Newsted to fill those shoes. We probably have all heard the stories of the hazing, the turning down of the bass during recording, blah blah blah, yada yada yada. This was band business and not fan business and we can only speculate as what really went on. This, however, I feel was the catalyst for change in Metallica.

…And Justice for All gave us a different Metallica sound than we were used to. In my opinion a more mature less frantic sound. Not all together bad, just different than before. The next release, Metallica, furthered that change and ultimately became their best-selling record to date and broadened their fan base immensely while at the same time alienating some of their hardcore fans. Suddenly people who looked at you like you were crazy for liking Metallica before were “fans”. And, again this is just my opinion, they became drunk with success.

Despite what we have all heard the members of Metallica are all human and such, subject to the limitations of that. Life experience and growth is what I attribute to the changes in style we saw with the release of Load and Reload. Less thrash and more experimental musical songs combined with image change further pushed their early hardcore fans away and thrust Metallica into the mainstream world.

I happened to respect their changes and growth. While I loved the early aggressive sound, I found an appreciation for this new sound that reflected life changes even as I found myself growing and maturing.

And then, another shakeup, Jason Newsted was out of the picture. No replacement was announced and producer Bob Rock filled in on St. Anger and we were let into the inside world of their lives and problems with the film Some Kind of Monster. The release St. Anger gave us yet another style of Metallica. People panned the writing and production, and others panned the recording. The fair-weather “fans” that came on board with Metallica silently folded their Metallica shirts and placed their CD’s and records on dusty shelves and moved on to the next flavor of the month. The hardcore fans continued to grumble and listen to the early stuff and prayed for a return to the thrash sounds of old…

I have been a longtime fan of Rob Trujillo’s work and was excited to hear of his addition to the Metallica lineup. I had to wait until Death Magnetic dropped to get that chance. While I found this to be a good, solid record I had still expected a little more. Good but not great in my opinion. I did catch them on the Death Magnetic tour and the energy and passion given to the old school tracks was fantastic to see. I refused to give up on Metallica.

I am not even going to speak on Lulu as I feel it not to be a Metallica album (maybe I’ll talk about it down the road on a collaborations article).

All of this leads us to today. Metallica broke the internet yesterday when they released the new track “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”. All day long I saw back and forth postings about the track. Name calling, bashing, criticisms, speculations…. on and on. My personal thoughts on it? I liked it. Did I love it? Not really. Do I appreciate it? ABSOFRICKINGLUTELY!!!

I posed the question on Facebook yesterday asking if a band that was once relevant could once again gain said relevance in today’s day and age where people just want to hear the “hits” and only the “hits”. Yes, I was talking about Metallica and the upcoming album Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. Given the effect they had on the internet yesterday what do YOU think?

 

It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s METALLICA!!!

  -the Hellion 

Black Sabbath

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Summer of 1977…

I had just met the neighbor kid in the apartment complex we had just moved into. He invited me over to hang out and listen to music one afternoon. He asked me if I liked Black Sabbath and I told him that “Iron Man” was a cool song but that was about all I knew. He then proceeded to play Master of Reality. The music was like an adrenaline shot to my senses. I was hooked immediately and had to have more and find out all I could about Black Sabbath.

Over time I managed to collect their music and it became a part of my regular listening schedule. I couldn’t explain it but the music reached me on many levels. And then, as quickly as I had found them, there was news of a band split.

Back then (before up to the minute news from the internet) rumors began circulating of Ozzy leaving the band. This unfortunately became truth.

It came to pass that Black Sabbath had hired Ronnie James Dio to sing and Ozzy launched a solo career. I was a long time Rainbow fan and was curious to see what Dio would bring. I was positive that Ozzy would have some cool stuff as well.

Let’s talk Black Sabbath first. With the addition of Dio they brought us Heaven and Hell. I like this record but it brought about a sense of change to the Black Sabbath style. I always felt that this record took them in a more pop rock oriented style. It wasn’t bad but it just wasn’t MY Black Sabbath that I’d grown to love. It proved to be the same with the Mob Rules. They had just failed to reach as had been done with their previous work. I like both records and still listen to them today but not nearly as much as the earlier work. And then Dio was gone.

To be honest I left them at that point not even bothering to listen or seek out their music. Black Sabbath was lost to me at that time.

Ozzy went on to great success as a solo artist. He surrounded himself with stellar musicians and made some good records. Like Dio era Sabbath it was different. Ozzy tried to cultivate the Prince Of Darkness image but it failed to reach me. The music while great again, in my opinion, leaned a little more towards the pop rock side.

I know, I know, I can just see some of you rolling your eyes at this. Change is ok and sometimes can be good. It was good for Ozzy’s career and not so much with Black Sabbath. Sabbath eventually reunited with Dio for Dehumanizer before parting ways again.

Eventually Ozzy and Sabbath got over the past and reunited for 13 (without Bill Ward), but, for me, the magic just wasn’t there anymore.

Over time we lost Dio to cancer, Ozzy’s solo career kind of came to a slow down, and Sabbath again had some infighting leading to a permanent split with Bill Ward. But, as I have said in other conversations, that is band business of which we as fans have no part.

All in all, it’s been a good ride with Sabbath and Ozzy. I will always have and cherish the early music they made. Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage, Technical Ecstasy, and Never Say Die! will ALWAYS be the definitive Sabbath albums for me. I will still continue to support anything Sabbath or Ozzy does because that’s what we as music fans do. I don’t have to love it but without that support it will go away. The bands that were influenced by Black Sabbath are countless.

Thank you Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Bill Ward for the hours upon hours of enjoyment you have given to me over the years. You four will forever be Black Sabbath in my heart and mind. To all of the others who have had a hand in the Sabbath legacy: Geoff Nicholls, Craig Gruber, Vinny Appice, Ian Gillen, Bev Bevan, Ron Keel, David Donato, Eric Singer, Dave Spitz, Glenn Hughes, Ray Gillen, Bob Daisley, Tony Martin, Cozy Powell, Laurence Cottle, Neil Murray, Bobby Rondinelli, Mike Bordin, Adam Wakeman, Tommy Clufetos, Rick Wakeman, Gerald Woodroffe, Don Airey, Brad Wilk thank you for being a part of such legends. Zakk Wylde, ZAKK SABBATH?!?!?! That’s what I’m talking about!

Dio, you just rule, period.

 

It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s mother#$%*ing SABBATH!!!

-the Hellion