Category Archives: Halford

Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life [Review]

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 Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life
2014, Rhino Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. Neon Knights – Anthrax
2. The Last In Line – Tenacious D
3. The Mob Rules – Adrenaline Mob
4. Rainbow In The Dark – Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher
5. Straight Through The Heart – Halestorm
6. Starstruck – Motörhead with Biff Byford
7. The Temple Of The King – Scorpions
8. Egypt (The Chains Are On) – Doro
9. Holy Diver – Killswitch Engage
10. Catch The Rainbow – Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren
11. I – Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
12. Man On The Silver Mountain – Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
13. Ronnie Rising Medley (A Light In The Black / Tarot Woman / Stargazer / Kill The King) – Metallica
14. This Is Your Life – Dio
Bonus Track:
15. Buried Alive – Jasta

Well, there certainly hasn’t been an absence of Dio-related releases since Ronnie’s passing. In the 4 years that Ronnie has been gone there have been two compilations, two live releases (a third is due shortly) and at least three tribute albums by my count. Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life is the third tribute album that I am aware of. The first two tributes were Jorn’s Dio (which Wendy Dio gave her blessing for) and Joey DeMaio’s Magic (which Wendy did not approve of), though I’m sure there’s probably more out there.

As far as star power and  talent goes, you won’t find a better Dio tribute: Anthrax, Halestorm, Metallica, Scorpions, Rob Halford, Motorhead, Biff Byford, Vinny Appice, Doro, Doug Aldrich… the list goes on and on.

Most these songs are played fairly straight and faithfully but it’s still interesting to hear Dio covered by other well-known artists and the songs cover his years in Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the Dio band. The majority of these tracks range from good to excellent. Even Tenacious D (who I normally can’t stand) do a decent job.

There are a few tracks I do have an issue with though. For one, Killswitch Engage’s “Holy Diver”. I don’t like metalcore and never needed to hear a metalcore version complete with unnecessary pinch harmonics that would make Zakk Wylde proud. I give them credit for trying to make the song their own, but it doesn’t make it a good cover.

Then there’s the cover of Black Sabbath’s “I”. There’s a good line-up of musicians on the track and Oni Logan is a good singer but he lacks the power to really put that song over the top like Dio did. He doesn’t sound bad, but I don’t think he’s the right fit for a song like this, if that makes any sense.

Then there’s “Man on the Silver Mountain”. Again, great musicians here. It’s Rob Halford backed by a collection of former Dio band members. Doug Aldrich’s presence is felt throughout the song and while he was in Dio before he joined Whitesnake, the song is given a slight makeover and comes across like a modern Whitesnake song. Halford sounds fine, but again, he doesn’t have the proper voice to be covering songs sung by Ronnie James Dio. Or songs sung by Ronnie James Dio that have been given a Whitesnake makeover. I’m liking this take on the song musically, I just think Halford’s vocals are out of place.

Glenn Hughes turns in a fantastic soulful performance on “Catch the Rainbow”. He is also backed by a collection of former Dio players. Motorhead & Biff Byford do a great job on “Starstruck” and I initially thought that was the Glenn Hughes track when I first heard it. “The Temple of the King” by Scorpions is wonderful as well. It’s a faithful cover of the original but it’s very cool to hear Klaus Meine on vocals.

The track that is garnering the most attention, obviously, is the Metallica track. I’m glad they are on this project because there’s no doubt they have brought eyes to this album that might not have given it a look otherwise. They do a good job covering four of Rainbow’s best songs.

The physical CD closes the album with the ballad “This Is Your Life” which is pulled from Dio’s 1996 album Angry Machines. The song is given extra weight considering the circumstances. Jasta’s “Buried Alive” is a digital album exclusive bonus track and is actually pretty good. Once again, Japan gets more material than North America because Stryper’s cover of “Heaven and Hell” and the Dio Disciples’ take on “Stand Up and Shout” appear on pressings over there. Seriously, what’s up with Japan always getting bonus tracks that never see the light of the day in the United States? I’ve never heard anyone actually address why that happens so often!

A few minor quibbles, but this isn’t a better Dio tribute album out and there probably never will be. Must have for Dio fans!

Highlights: “Rainbow In the Dark”, “Straight Through the Heart”, “Starstruck”, “The Temple of the King”, “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”, “Catch the Rainbow”, “Ronnie Rising Medley”, “This Is Your Life”

Halford – Made of Metal

Halford – Made of Metal (2010, Metal God Records)

1. “Undisputed” … 5:17
2. “Fire and Ice” … 2:52
3. “Made of Metal” … 4:01
4. “Speed of Sound” … 4:32
5. “Like There’s No Tomorrow” … 4:20
6. “Till the Day I Die” … 3:50
7. “We Own the Night” … 3:54
8. “Heartless” … 3:38
9. “Hell Razor” … 3:44
10. “Thunder and Lightning” … 5:28
11. “Twenty Five Years” … 7:01
12. “Matador” … 5:39
13. “I Know We Stand a Chance” … 3:51
14. “The Mower” … 4:40

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Roy Z – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Mike Davis – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Producer: Roy Z

Ah, this is more like it! The Halford band was one of the best bands to come out of the last decade but a reunited Judas Priest put the group on hold for a long time (even though that didn’t stop Rob from remastering and reissuing the band’s three albums previous ad nauseum). A comeback was made last year in the form of the odd, yet enjoyable Winter Songs but now Halford is back with an album that sounds much more like Resurrection than Crucible and that’s okay by me. Crucible was a bit too angry and heavy to me and lacked hooks. Resurrection on the other hand was one of the my favorite albums from the last decade and Made of Metal (sometimes referred to as Halford IV: Made of Metal) is easily one of the top albums of 2010 in the very least.

I was really looking forward to this album but the album’s first single “The Mower” didn’t thrill me (though I didn’t hate it). Luckily, “Made of Metal” was put online, accompanied by a very cheesy NASCAR-inspired CGI video, and gave me much more optimism for this album. By the way, what’s up with the NASCAR stuff? Even in press releases for the album they would mention the unofficial NASCAR connection with the “Made of Metal” video. There’s no licensing deal that I’m aware of but it seems like like maybe Rob was fishing for one.

As I said earlier, the album isn’t as heavy as Crucible, much of it sounds like the commercial metal that you might’ve heard from Priest during the mid-’80s. “Speed Of Sound” and “We Own The Night” have an obvious commercial flair, “Undisputed” is a lyrically cheesy but still very catchy anthem and “Hell Razor” sounds like late ’70s/early ’80s Judas Priest. On the flip side, “The Mower” is an absolutely brutal metal number in which Halford’s vocals get downright nasty.

Then there’s “Till The Die I Day” which is a surprisingly bluesy outlaw of a rocker that reminds me of something Whitesnake would do and “Thunder and Lightning” has a bit of boogie I didn’t expect from Halford either while “Matador” appropriately has a south of the border feel to it. I really like the variety on this album. The album is similar in sound to Priest, Fight and previous Halford efforts while a song like “I Know We Stand A Chance” brings to mind H.I.M. and other similar sounding goth rock bands.

I knew this album had potential to be good but I also thought it could’ve been a train wreck. Luckily Rob and Roy Z have turned in one of the best albums of the year and Rob’s voice shows no signs of slowing down. A lot of reviews have bashed the lyrics but who cares? It’s good MUSIC! Great album.

Highlights: “Fire And Ice”, “Made Of Metal”, “Like There’s No Tomorrow”, “Till The Day I Die”, “We Own The Night”, “Twenty Five Years”, “I Know We Stand A Chance”

http://www.robhalford.com
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http://www.myspace.com/robhalford

HALFORD – Halford III – Winter Songs

Halford – Halford III – Winter Songs (2009, Metal God Records)

1. “Get Into the Spirit” … 5:26
2. “We Three Kings” … 4:06
3. “Oh Come O Come Emanuel” … 4:38
4. “Winter Song” … 5:38
5. “What Child Is This?” … 4:27
6. “Christmas For Everyone” … 3:06
7. “I Don’t Care” … 3:14
8. “Light Of The World” … 4:13
9. “Oh Holy Night” … 4:09
10. “Come All Ye Faithful” … 2:27

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Roy Z – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Mike Davis – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Ed Roth – Keyboard

Producer: Roy Z.

Seven years after the last studio effort from Halford, Rob & Company return with a… CHRISTMAS ALBUM ?! Yes, it’s weird, it’s shocking, it’s true. Even more shocking — it’s actually pretty good.

I was extremely excited to discover 2009 would bring us new Halford music. When Rob rejoined Judas Priest, the band went inactive but there were still countless live albums, reissues and compilations being issued so it is nice to see and hear new material from the group, even if most of it is covers of Christmas songs. I find it odd that Rob chose to let this be the third studio release from Halford though. A Christmas CD? Really? Well, if Twisted Sister can do it, surely the Metal God can!

I’m hearing a lot of resistance to the idea of Rob Halford doing Christmas songs, but maybe some of that is stemming from having his solo band’s name on it (who were one of metal’s most promising acts of this decade, IMO). Maybe Rob wants to turn Halford into the next Trans-Siberian Orchestra? Maybe if he stuck ‘ROB HALFORD’ on the cover instead of just ‘HALFORD’ metalheads could accept it more, though I admit it is a bit of an out there concept to wrap your head around.

Clearing away any preconceived notions I might have had, I’m really enjoying this album. It’s Christmas, it’s hard rock, it’s heavy metal, it’s ROB HALFORD! How can you go wrong? I’m sorry for ever doubting you, Mr. Halford! The original songs (“Get Into the Spirit”, “Christmas For Everyone”, “I Don’t Care”, “Light of the World”) are pretty good, with “Get Into the Spirit” easily being the best of that bunch but what is really surprising is just how good Halford’s take on these traditional Christmas songs can be.

There is no doubt this is the Metal God at work, but unlike some rock/metal acts who do Christmas songs, Halford doesn’t try to impose himself too much over the songs. In short, you’re not going to confuse “Oh Holy Night” or “Come All Ye Faithful” with “Painkiller” or “Resurrection”!

This is a great addition to my growing Christmas rock collection and I have a feeling it’s going to be getting a lot of airtime at home and in my car this holiday season… and for many more to come!

Highlights: “Get Into the Spirit”, “We Three Kings”, “Oh Come O Come Emanuel”, “Winter Song”, “What Child Is This?”, “I Don’t Care”, “Oh Holy Night”, “Come All Ye Faithful”

www.robhalford.com
www.myspace.com/robhalford

HALFORD – Live Insurrection

Halford – Live Insurrection (2001, Metal-Is Records/Sanctuary Records)

DISC 1
1. “Resurrection” … 4:02
2. “Made in Hell” … 4:13
3. “Into the Pit” … 4:15
4. “Nailed to the Gun” … 3:35
5. “Light Comes Out of Black” … 5:00
6. “Stained Class” … 5:32
7. “Jawbreaker” … 3:25
8. “Running Wild” … 3:02
9. “Slow Down” … 4:40
10. “The One You Love to Hate” … 3:11
11. “Life in Black” … 4:26
12. “Hell’s Last Survivor” … 3:24
13. “Sad Wings” … 3:33
14. “Saviour” … 2:57
15. “Silent Screams” … 7:32

DISC 2
1. Intro … 0:14
2. “Cyberworld” … 3:04
3. “The Hellion” … 0:48
4. “Electric Eye” … 3:29
5. “Riding on the Wind” … 3:10
6. “Genocide” … 7:36
7. “Beyond the Realms of Death” … 6:51
8. “Metal Gods” … 4:34
9. “Breaking the Law” … 3:50
10. “Tyrant” … 4:41
11. “Screaming in the Dark” … 3:41
12. “Heart of a Lion” … 3:51
13. “Prisoner of Your Eyes” … 4:33

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Pat Lachman – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Ray Riendeau – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Bruce Dickinson – Vocals (“The One You Love To Hate”)

Produced by: Roy Z

This is a good live album with a setlist that spans Rob’s career in Priest, Fight and Halford (What, no Two songs?). The songs were recorded at various locations throughout Halford’s 2000-20001 World Tour, but you wouldn’t really know because the production of this album gives both discs a nice feel on continuity, making you think it’s all one gigantic show.

Virtually every live album includes some sprucing up in the studio, and Rob has admitted that about this album himself, but you can still tell this band is in top form. Rob’s voice is great and the rest of the crew is on fire. I really don’t care for the sound of Fight, but the rest is aces… You can’t go wrong with Judas Priest or Halford! Maybe the crowd response was sweetened, but it still gives me goosebumps, especially on “The Hellion” and leading into “Electric Eye”.

Halford was (is?) a great band, this live setting proves that, so I had mixed emotions when it was announced Rob was going back to Judas Priest. Hopefully, when/if Priest ever decides to take a break, Halford will get back going at full force (Rob intended to give us a new Halford album in 2007, but writing for Nostradamus put that on hold).

Notes about some of the songs:

Unfortunately (and here’s the band thing about post-producing live albums), Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson did not really duet with Rob on “The One You Love to Hate”. According to Scott over at No Life ’til Metal, they were two separate soundchecks done in London that were then spliced together with crowd noise added in. Additionally, “Light Comes out of Black” and “Life In Black” were both soundchecks with crowd noises thrown in. “Hell’s Last Survivor” and “Sad Wings” were bonus tracks from the Japanese version of Resurrection.

“Screaming in the Dark” is a new studio song by Halford. It’s okay. It’s much heavier than anything from Resurrection and sounds much more similar to the heavier sound the band would produce on 2002’s Crucible. “Heart of a Lion” and “Prisoner of Your Eyes” are Priest demo songs (both later made their way onto Judas Priest remasters/box sets). I like’em.

Highlights: “Resurrection”, “Stained Class”, “Slow Down”, “The One You Love to Hate”, “Cyberworld”, “The Hellion”, “Electric Eye”, “Riding on the Wind”, “Beyond the Realms of Death”, “Metal Gods”, “Breaking the Law”, “Heart of a Lion”, “Prisoner of Your Eyes”

www.robhalford.com
www.halfordmusic.com
www.myspace.com/robhalford

Buy Live Insurrection [remastered] at Amazon.com

HALFORD – Resurrection

Halford – Resurrection (2000, Metal-Is/Sanctuary Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Resurrection” [3:58]
2. “Made in Hell” [4:12]
3. “Locked and Loaded” [3:18]
4. “Night Fall” [3:41]
5. “Silent Screams” [7:06]
6. “The One You Love to Hate” [3:11]
7. “Cyber World” [3:08]
8. “Slow Down” [4:51]
9. “Twist” [4:08]
10. “Temptation” [3:32]
11. “Drive” [4:30]
12. “Saviour” [2:57]

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Patrick Lachman – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Ray Riendeau -Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Even though he officially left Judas Priest in 1993, Rob Halford never left the world of metal. He carried on by forming Fight, a band with a slightly updated heavy metal sound, and then dabbled in industrial metal by forming Two. Neither band proved to be particuarly successful for the Metal God. So while Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens was doing his best Halford impersonation with Judas Priest in the late 90s, Rob Halford decided to impersonate himself with a brand new band called, approriately, Halford.

And the results are stupendous. From the opening title track, you know the Metal God has returned and he’s done playing with other metal genres. The scream is signature and I played that opening track so many times just to hear him scream “RESURRECTION!” It gave me goosebumps and still does.

Although Rob broke out the leather & motorcyles imagery he was famous for, this album and band aren’t a Judas Priest clone. Halford pulls off a classic heavy metal/modern heavy metal hybrid, thanks in part to songwriting help from producer Roy Z. and guitarist “Metal” Mike Chlasiak. For those of us who were awaiting the Judas Priest/Halford reunion, this was the next best thing and there was no doubt that Halford was outdoing Judas Priest during this time.

This was a big comeback album for Rob, and was fairly successful in the metal scene. As Halford’s stock started to rise in the metal kingdom again, Judas Priest’s began to drop after the two disappointing Owens albums, and I believe the success of this album probably had a large hand in moving along the reunion of the Halford-led Judas Priest.

A major highlight on this album is the appearance of Bruce Dickinson (who was on a comeback of his own having recently rejoined Iron Maiden) on “The One You Love to Hate”.

Highlights: “Resurrection”, “Locked and Loaded”, “Night Fall”, “Silent Screams”, “The One You Love to Hate”, “Slow Down”, “Twist”, “Temptation”

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