Monthly Archives: November 2010

Review: Metallica – Live At Grimey’s [2010]

For those of you looking to support a great cause then head on over to Metal Club to learn how you can be cool to your local record stores.  There you can find a list of independent CD stores that have exclusive heavy metal releases.  One such release is Metallica Live At Grimey’s. I just picked up my copy yesterday afternoon from Looney Tunes in Babylon, New York for only $9.99.

This recent music partnership is great for the fans of hard music and of course the shops.  Metallica’s disc features a secret Nashville show that the band played in June 2008, a few months prior to the release of Death Magnetic, in a club known as The Basement.

It features nine classic tracks in an intimate setting.  This show is a pleasant departure from the structured arena gigs that Metallica has been accustomed to playing.  James Hetfield and the band offer amusing stage banter between songs (such as referencing the band’s Mesa Boogie guitar amps to joking about playing a showcase gig for the record company).  In the beginning, James jokes about playing a new song then leads the band into Kill Em All’s “No Remorse.”

After “For Whom The Bell Tolls” the band jams to “The Frayed Ends of Sanity” with everyone singing off beat and out of tune.  This shows the band can still have a great time in the basement club setting.  The two best performances from the nine track affair are of “Harvester of Sorrow” and “Motorbreath.”

The only negative part of the disc is the mixing.  After playing the album in two different cars and my home stereo, there is too much distortion on the final mix.  It makes Death Magnetic sound like a perfectly mixed record.  However, the overall positive vibe and feeling of the Live At Grimey’s makes it all worth the fuzzy trouble.

Track Listing:

  1. “No Remorse”
  2. “Fuel”
  3. “Harvester of Sorrow”
  4. “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”
  5. “For Whom The Bell Tolls (The Frayed Ends of Sanity Jam)”
  6. “Master of Puppets”
  7. “Sad But True”
  8. “Motorbreath”
  9. “Seek and Destroy”

Guitar Master Class, Helping You Unleash The Ax Master Within

I want to let all of the beginning, intermediate, and advanced guitarists out there know about a sweet resource called Guitar Master Class.  After rocking my weapon of choice (Gibson Explorer) with the videos and music offered on GMC for a few hours, I already felt considerable improvements in my playing and I have been playing guitar for 15 years.  Whether you are a beginner that wants to learn a few chords for the first time, an intermediate player stuck in a pentatonic rut that wants to expand soloing skills, or an advanced axe-master that wants to refresh and perfect your craft, this site can help.

Here is what it all boils down to: GuitarMasterClass.net is a video lesson archive & community. GMC has tons of helpful videos, instructors and lessons. GMC also features a forum for chatting with teachers and students 24/7, recording collaborations, and attending video chats.  There is also content for bass, drums, singing, piano etc.

All genres and styles are covered.  There is rock, metal, shred, blues, jazz, country, acoustic, and funk to name a few.  The format is inviting and set up in a way that makes learning the guitar fun.  The instructors on the video are not your typical guitar snobs; instead they have several characteristics that truly enhance learning — they’re highly skillful, modest, and funny.

GMC offers instant access to:
-14,410 videos, 2,399 lessons, and 41 instructors.

-When you register at the GMC forum, you can join a virtual band or chat with any instructor

-Backing tracks at different speeds & jam loop with every lesson

-Daily updates (average of ~10 new videos per day)

-EXTRAS: Gear-, singing-, recording-, bass-, piano- and drum lessons. GMC Theory Grimoire eBook

Check out GMC here and check in at the Gears of Rock in the next few days for your chance to win a free membership as part of our 2010 Holiday Giveaway series.

Holiday Giveaway #1: Rush “Classic Albums: 2112 & Moving Pictures” DVD

Happy Thanksgiving maniacs! Since we are all gearing up for the holiday season, I have a slew of giveaways and contests coming to Gears of Rock over the next few weeks.  This is truly the most awesome time of year and we just love getting into the spirit of giving.

I have one free DVD copy of Rush “Classic Albums: 2112 – Moving Pictures” which was released on September 28, 2010.  This DVD tells the incredible story behind two legendary albums from the progressive hard rockers.  You get to view the magic that took place in the studio and on tour.  This contains the story of the albums told by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neal Peart.

The first person to answer this simple question will receive this free Rush DVD: What year did Rush release 2112?

Email your answer and contact info to gearsofrock@gmail.com. This contest ends Saturday
November 27.

You can see the details of the DVD here

Nza’s Review: Kid Rock – Born Free [2010]

I cant believe it but Born Free is Kid Rock’s eighth studio album. Well, not that I’ve been keeping count. The stone cold pimp of the nation is back and has definitely matured as an artist.

He seems like a different man is on this album. It’s a long way from the “I am the Bullgod” days, when Kid Rock albums were a sweet mix of hip-hop, southern rock, and country. Born Free leans more toward the southern rock with little or no hip-hop involved.

The title track reminds me of some feelgood Bob Seger. Reuniting with Sheryl Crow on “Collide,” the bitter-suite country ballad is really beautiful with a nice piano track layed down by Bob Seger.

Tapping into some Southern Harmony Black Crowes, Kid Rock testifies he indeed will “Slow My Roll.” “God Bless Saturday” sounds like 38 Special meshed with some Lynyrd Skynyrd and it works really well.

The only hip-hop really present is a guest appearance by T.I., who provides a smooth rap interlude, on “Care.” “For The First Time (In a Long Time)” is very different because Kid Rock’s voice is virtually unrecognizable. This intriguing tune is worthy of a listen.

Born Free was produced by Rick Rubin and it is another solid production. I will tell you it does not have the out-of-the-park hit that Kid Rock has relied on in the past. Kid Rock is a survivor and I feel he will be around for a little while longer. If you haven’t caught his live show, you should. You will only gain respect for him because he brings it every time. -Nza

Track Listing:

  1. Born Free
  2. Slow My Roll
  3. Care (feat Martina McBride & TI)
  4. Purple Sky
  5. When It Rains
  6. God Bless Saturday
  7. Collide (feat Sheryl Crow and Bob Seger)
  8. Flyin’ High (feat Zac Brown)
  9. Times Like These
  10. Rock On
  11. Rock Bottom Blues
  12. For The First Time ( In a Long Time)
  13. Care (Demo)

Top 10 Albums of 2010

1.  Overkill – Ironbound Legendary New Jersey metal mavens, Overkill, deliver an astonishing 15th studio album Ironbound, a delectable thrash frenzy that will kick your teeth through your ass. Overkill is solid, far too underrated, and always unfairly riding in the shadow of East Coast thrash colleague Anthrax. Ironbound is a 10-track blitzkrieg that displays not only the fury, but greater depth than 90% of all thrash and power metal acts out there today (full review).

2.  Fear Factory – Mechanize Mechanize is the heaviest and most aggressive record from Fear Factory to date. Vocalist Burton C. Bell offers his ballsiest work ever while keeping his signature melodic grace in balance. The intense seven-string (or is he up to eight now?) rhythmic patterns of Cazares leave the listener with facial blisters and a battered-in skull—surely, you must have heard the first single “Powershifter” by now—exemplified on all ten tracks, but especially prominent on the opening title track, “Oxidizer,” and “Fear Campaign” (full review).

3.  Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare Nightmare contains the best studio material from Avenged Sevenfold to date.  This is one that you will still be banging a year from now.  With the death of drummer The Rev, Avenged Sevenfold hired Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater (who has since quit Dream Theater because of this…err), literally one of the true all-time greats. One would think that this would throw M. Shadows even further out of his league.  However, on the latest Avenged Sevenfold album, Nightmare, M. Shadows owns the mic, killing it, proving that he can stand up and lead this powerful beast (full review).

4.  Soulfly – Omen The Brazilian god of doom brings the shit on Soulfly’s latest righteous masterpiece, Omen.  Max Cavalera’s guerrilla army of guitar hero Marc Rizzo, bassist Bobby Burns, drummer Joe Nunez, and producer Logan Mader (ex-Machine Head/ex-Soulfly guitarist) attacks mercilessly with 11 brutal cuts of earth pounding grooves and virtuosic riffs. Omen’s energy is relentless from the opening assault of “Bloodbath & Beyond” to the closing spiritual instrumental onslaught of “Soulfly VII” Everything in between is fierce and aggressive, and includes dashes of tribalism that never ceases to devastate (full review).

5.  James LaBrie – Static Impulse LaBrie has done something very special here.  Static Impulse is comprised of 12 blistering gems, each of them an absolute killer. Here’s the refreshing kicker: this album is not at all taxing on the listener.  In fact, it is a refreshing departure from the progressive style of 8-minute plus cuts. You will not find a better LaBrie album than Static Impulse.  He assembled one hell of an army and he sounds better than ever—this record destroys (full review).

6.  Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier The Final Frontier is skull-crushingly brutal. Maiden is a beastly machine that grows stronger and stronger with every new epic masterpiece. This record certainly brings the thunder, about 76 minutes worth in fact. These 10 new songs contain classic Maiden vibes (“The Alchemist”) as well as dirty conjurations (“Starblind”) heard on more recent releases like Brave New World and Matter of Life and Death.  This is another victory for the pioneers and legends of heavy metal. As always with Maiden records, this disc gets better with every listen (full review).

7.  Charred Walls of the Damned – Charred Walls of the Damned The sound produced by Charred Walls of the Damned features an exceptional understanding of the classical methodology of heavy metal. By combining and highlighting the best components of thrash, power, and progressive this quasi-supergroup delivers a punishing assortment of songs, such as “Blood on Wood” and the opening track and first single “Ghost Town.” Leading this effort is the percussive talent of Howard Stern personality Richard Christy, providing the band with an ever-important strong backbone. Not to say the vocals of the legendary Tim “Ripper” Owens are second-rate in Charred Walls of the Damned; his operatic range is an absolute necessity and a priceless asset to the group (full review).

8.  Exodus – Exhibit B: The Human Condition Vocalist Rob Dukes really comes into his own here, reverberating with a harsh and menacing tone that sits squarely between former singer’s Steve Souza and Paul Baloff while the rhythm section pound out a flurry of the blistering and brutal tempos that Exodus helped to spawn nearly 30 years ago (“Burn, Hollywood, Burn”). Chock full of neck-snapping fretwork, jackhammer rhythms, and dizzying thrash metal expedience, the latest affair from Exodus portrays what the epitome of thrash metal excellence sounds like and is a must-listen disc for any self-respecting headbanger (full review).

9.  Accept – Blood of the Nations Despite massive shakeups and the decade-plus long studio layoff, Accept sounds as determined and rejuvenated as ever, retaining their vintage musical bite while exhibiting a hard rock snarl that finds Tornillo formidably projecting an Udo-like presence while interjecting slices of his vocal personality into Accept’s tried and true slabs of concrete hard rock seasoned with the contagious songwriting that puts this troupe squarely in the annals of metal history.  This disc truly has everything a fan would want in a comeback album and more (full review).

10. Living Sacrifice – The Infinite Order The riffs of Rocky Gray and Bruce Fitzhugh gallop with the raw power that we used to worship Pantera for, while also offering a speedier as well as a more alternative feel. It is unfortunate that the younger bands these days can’t pull this off correctly, or at least to a satisfactory level. The more sentimental tracks “God is my Home” and “Love Forgives” contain great feel-good tones while tracks like “Overkill Exposure” and “Organized Lie” kick your teeth in without remorse. The Infinite Order was the first solid metal album of 2010 (full review).

Well, those were my favorite albums from 2010.  I knocked off a couple from the mid-year edition for lack of staying power and even bumped a couple up.  2010 was a another great year for hard rock music especially in the first few months.  There were also notable releases from Ozzy with Firewind shredder Gus G., Rob Zombie and his Hellbilly sequel, and a refreshingly stripped down Korn.  Other cool releases include the latest efforts from Soilwork, White Chapel, The Scorpions, and Ratt.  Feel free to spew your hatred below.

Also see Top 10 of 2009 and Top 10 of 2008

Review: Dio – At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987 [2010]

Have no fear, the greatest Ronnie James Dio live album is finally here.  At Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987 represents the best material of Dio’s catalog from all the key eras.  It is also a presentation of the heavy metal legend in his prime.  Not to mention, the track listing of this double-disc set is just incredible.

The 1983 set on disc one was recorded just under three months after the release of Holy Diver.  Dio and the band kill through the classics “Stand Up and Shout” and “Rainbow in the Dark,” as well as “Children of the Sea” from the Black Sabbath years, and “Stargazer” from the Rainbow days.  There is great audience participation and banter during the break of the eleven-minute version of “Heaven and Hell.”  The overall audio quality is quite impressive considering this set was performed 27 years ago.

The 1987 concert on disc two was recorded about one month prior to the release of Dream Evil.  One of the best performances of this lot is without a doubt “The Last in Line.”  There is also a high-octane version of “Neon Nights” that rips.

Unfortunately, there is some slight buzzing on the 1987 set when Dio speaks.  However, the mix is louder and fuller than the 1983 set.  The performance of “Holy Diver” is interesting on this set; it is a blistering performance that only contains a small excerpt on the tune before cutting into a shorter version of “Heaven and Hell.”

It is awesome to hear the insane guitar licks of Vivian Campbell on disc one (check out his solo after “Stargazer”) and the shredmaster Craig Goldy on the 1987 set (sick runs in  “Man on the Silver Mountain”).  As usual Vinny Appice is a madman behind the kit on both sets and while bassist Jimmy Bain holds down the fort.

To decide which show is better is no easy task; there is the heavier sound of 1987 versus the raw energy of 1983.  As for now, I have to side with 1983 but that is a debate best settled at the pub.

Track Listing:

1983 (Disc One):

  1. Stand Up and Shout
  2. Straight Through The Heart
  3. Children Of The Sea
  4. Rainbow In The Dark
  5. Holy Diver
  6. Drum Solo
  7. Stargazer
  8. Guitar Solo
  9. Heaven And Hell
  10. Man On The Silver Mountain
  11. Starstruck
  12. Man On The Silver Mountain (Reprise)

1987 (Disc Two):

  1. Dream Evil
  2. Neon Knights
  3. Naked In The Rain
  4. Rock And Roll Children
  5. Long Live Rock n Roll
  6. The Last In Line
  7. Children Of The Sea
  8. Holy Diver
  9. Heaven And Hell
  10. Man On The Silver Mountain
  11. All The Fools Sailed Away
  12. The Last In Line (Reprise)
  13. Rainbow in the Dark

Review: Ross The Boss – Hailstorm [2010]

Manowar founding member and guitarist, Ross the Boss Friedman follows up last year’s New Metal Leader with another dominant record titled Hailstorm.  With blazing guitar riffs, thunderous drum fills, and raging medieval tempers, Ross the Boss lays down the nasty.

Here’s the rundown: “Kingdom Arise” is a paramount tune with a vicious hook.  “Behold the Kingdom” kicks out a heavy groove with a 70’s classic rock vibe and “Empire’s Anthem” swings hard.  Even the power ballad “Among the Ruins” rocks.

The title track is a fantasy thrash frenzy and one of the the records best moments.  For those of you interested in Trans-Siberian styled power melodies check out “Great Gods Glorious.”

The production is a little rough around the edges, the way classic heavy metal ought to be recorded.  When it comes to hard music, under-production is far more noble than over-produced poop rock.

Hailstorm is worth checking out especially for those that worship German metal.  Sure, the music and content can be redundant at times;  it is also sludgy, powerful, abusive, and glorious.  Just like those old Manowar records, the cover art alone makes this disc a must-own.

Track Listing:

  1. “I.A.G.”
  2. “Kingdom Arise”
  3. “Dead Man’s Curve”
  4. “Hailstorm”
  5. “Burn Alive”
  6. “Crom”
  7. “Behold The Kingdom”
  8. “Great Gods Glorious”
  9. “Shining Path”
  10. “Among The Ruins”
  11. “Empire’s Anthem”

Nza’s Review: Metallica Slayer Megadeth Anthrax: The Big 4 – Live From Sofia, Bulgaria [2010] DVD

Attention all metalheads: this means you—everyone, at one point or another had wished that the BIG FOUR would really happen.  I know it has been a discussion for years: would it happen? Could it happen? How would it happen? Well, kiddies, thats the past.  It happened and chances are you weren’t there.

Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax thrashed their metal in a big way on 6/22/10.  Live from the Sonisphere Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, the biggest and baddest Thrash Titans shared the stage and put on one helluva event.

Up first, Anthrax warmed the crowd of ugly with their New York snot/punk/thrash offerings like no one else could.  Fronted by the original singer, Joey Belladonna, Anthrax sounded tight right from the opening chords of “Caught in A Mosh.”  Without looking back, classics “Antisocial,” “Indians,” and “I am The Law” never sounded better.  An interesting choice was “Only” being that this song was from the John Bush era, Joey does indeed deliver the song justice.

Megadeth earned my vote for the MVPs of the day.  Braving torrential downpours, Dave Mustiane and Co killed em all.  With a little bit from each album, Megadeth kept things moving at a violent and feriocus pace.  Standout tracks of the set include “Sweating Bullets,” “In my Darkest Hour,” and the bittersuite and catchiest death anthem of all time, “A Tout Le Monde.”  Closing out with the classic “Peace Sells,” Megadeth was in top form.

No matter how many times I see Slayer, I will never ever get sick of them.  Thank God (that’s right i said it), thank God for World Painted Blood.  Slayer’s latest offering in my mind, is their best album to date.  Being able to hear “Hate Worldwide,” “Beauty Through Order,” and “Jihad,” and having them fit within the classics is Heavy Metal at its finest.  A great performance of “South of Heaven” made the crowd go insane.  They do no wrong and are the true Titans of the Thrash.

Metallica: What to say about them that hasn’t been said before.  They never dissapoint. I’ve seen them many times.  Sounding like they have something to prove, Metallica sped through the first two numbers “Creeping Death” and “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”  An amazing “Harvester of Sorrow” sounded perfect.  Inviting all up to jam on “Am I Evil ?” was a site to behold.  Closing out the blistering two hours were the Kill Em All classics “Hit the Lights” and “Seek and Destroy.”  Metallica are their own entity and really dont need to share the stage with anyone.

The Big Four is available as a 2 DVD set or the 5 Disc/2 DVD Box Set with poster, picks, pictures, and a book.

Set Lists:

ANTHRAX
Caught In A MOsh
Got the Time
Madhouse
Be All , End All
Antisocial
Indians/Heaven and Hell
Medusa
Only
Metal Thrashing Mad
I Am The Law
__________
MEGADETH
Holy Wars
Hangar 18
Wake Up Dead
Head Crusher
In My Darkest Hour
Skin O’ My Teeth
A Tout Le Monde
Hook In Mouth
Trust
Sweating Bullets
Symphony of Destruction
Peace Sells/Holy Wars Reprise
__________
SLAYER
World Painted Blood
Jihad
War Enssemble
Hate Worldwide
Seasons In the Abyss
Angel of Death
Beauty Through Order
Disciple
Mandatory Suicide
Chemical Warfare
South of Heaven
Raining Blood
__________
METALLICA
Creeping Death
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Fuel
Harvester of Sorrow
Fade To Black
That was Just Your Life
Cyanide
Sad But True
Sanitarium
All Nightmare Long
One
Master of Puppets
Blackend
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Am I Evil?
Hit The Lights
Seek and Destroy

Nza’s Review: Alice Cooper – Theatre of Death [2010] CD/DVD

What can I say, kiddies. You want shock rock, then look no further to the originator.  Alice Cooper is 62 years old and still rocks hard.  I say that he might even rock harder now than ever.  Theatre of Death is the thing for you for two simple reasons.  You get to see one hell of a rock show for openers, and you get to see a helluva theatric performance with it.

Shot on Dec. 6, 2009 at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo in the United Kingdom, Alice and Co. shred through all the classicks.  From the opening bells of “Schools Out,” I was 100% focused in on the mayhem.  Straight jacket and all, Alice performs the classick “The Ballad of Dwight Fry”; both chilling and amazing, it leaves you thirsting for more.  Betrayed by a woman, beheaded by ghouls, and injected with deadly serum, Alice keeps on getting killed and comes back for more.

His backing band consisting of big boom drumming of Jimmy DeGrasso, solid bass pounding of Chuck Garric, and the shredding dual guitars of Damon Johnson and Keri Kelli are just plain perfect.  I’d love to say that they are the best band Alice was ever backed, by but my heart goes with Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith, Michael Bruce, and Glen Buxton.  These guys did it with the bare essentials and made great music together.  The nu-generation band has the technology now to make it sound better.  Its your choice which you prefer.  Ill take the 8-track, chicken wire and tomato cans anyday over the new sound.

My personal favorite “Be Me Lover” is a standout track.  New songs including “Wicked Young Man” and “Vengenace is Mine” fit nicely with the great retrospect of a career of deadly tunes.  Closing out the show with “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Under My Wheels,”  Alice makes you want to start it up from the beginning all over again.

I’ve been a fan of Alice for a long, long time and I am pleased to say that he is one of the candidates for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Let’s hope he gets inducted this year.  If this concert DVD doesn’t give any indication why Alice Cooper is not deserving, then I don’t know Rock and Roll -Nza

Track Listing:

  1. School’s Out
  2. Department Of Youth
  3. I’m Eighteen
  4. Wicked Young Man
  5. Ballad Of Dwight Fry
  6. Go To Hell
  7. Guilty
  8. Welcome To My Nightmare
  9. Cold Ethyl
  10. Poison
  11. The Awakening
  12. From The Inside
  13. Nurse Rosetta.
  14. Is It My Body
  15. Be My Lover
  16. Only Women Bleed – I Never Cry
  17. Black Widow
  18. Vengeance Is Mine
  19. Devil’s Food
  20. Dirty Diamonds
  21. Billion Dollar Babies
  22. Killer
  23. I Love The Dead
  24. No More Mr. Nice Guy
  25. Under My Wheels
  26. School’s Out

Theatre of Death on Amazon

Greatest Song of All Time: “Holy Diver” by Dio from “Holy Diver” [1983]

Here is a brand new column on GOR called the Greatest Track of All Time.  The purpose of these posts is to list and discuss some thoughts on worthy songs that are just flat-out awesome and will stay flat-out awesome forever and ever.

To get things started we should focus on the brilliance of Dio’s “Holy Diver,” a monumental and badass all-around song.  That chugging main guitar riff releases all sorts of immortal heavy metal bliss that no one can deny. It is like a bullet freight train ripping through the Carpathian mountains.

The song structure of “Holy Diver” is not at all typical; meaning, no predictable verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-verse-chorus-outro.  Instead, you get a couple variations of your typical refrain, or bridge if you will, which is one of the elements that makes this song so sick because it is done in a matter of excellence.

The vocals of the late Ronnie James Dio are insane.  Especially the high G# scream he employs at the end of the line: “Life’s a never ending wheel.”  The ad-lib “jump jump” and “look out” he tosses in the verses are also as mighty as the broad sword he wields in the music video.

The guitar solo is a sweet C-minor lick-fest performed by Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard & Sweet Savage).  Bringing the thunder is drummer Vinny Appice, Carmine’s younger brother, while Jimmy Bain administers the bass attack.  Appice and Bain provide the perfect rhythm section during Campbell’s break.

Several years ago, Killswitch Engage honored this classic with a high octane rendition of their own.  And in 2001, the nut bars at Clear Channel put this song on their crack-head list of songs with inappropriate lyrics.

On your next drive to work, be sure to smash “Holy Diver” loud and proud with the windows down.  Let out your relentless inner beast and you will have one victorious day.  Look at you sitting in front of the computer, you are already a dirty little demon destined for power and glory.