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Moving to metalmisfit.wordpress.com!

I initially started this music blog in 2007 as an off-shoot of The Metal Misfit, which was my main blog at the time, and had kind of a retro pop culture/junk food theme. Over the years, I’ve often felt like I was being pulled in two different directions when it came to blogging: “Should I review the latest album release or should I talk about imported gummy candy?” Life is full of tough choices.

What was once my main blog has become quite inactive as I haven’t posted there since November 2015 out of sheer laziness. Funny thing is, the blog continues to easily score more views than Metal Excess does. So, I’ve decided it’s time to consolidate and have one blog and one blog only and all future reviews will be posted on The Metal Misfit.

I don’t care if I post a Def Leppard concert review and then it’s followed by a post about discontinued cereals from the 1980s. Let my blog be totally random. Variety is the spice of life! So please direct your attention to metalmisfit.wordpress.com where I’ll continue to review albums and try to increase my post count in regards to weird old stuff!

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Judas Priest – Battle Cry [Album Review]

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Judas Priest – Battle Cry
2016, Epic Records

Buy the album

1. (Intro) Battle Cry
2. Dragonaut
3. Metal Gods
4. Devil’s Child
5. Victim Of Changes
6. Halls Of Valhalla
7. Redeemer Of Souls
8. Beyond The Realms Of Death
9. Jawbreaker
10. Breaking The Law
11. Hell Bent For Leather
12. The Hellion
13. Electric Eye
14. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming
15. Painkiller

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Glenn Tipton – Guitar
Richie Faulkner – Guitar
Ian Hill – Bass
Scott Travis – Drums

Producer: Tom Allom

Well, it’s been seven years since the last one, so I suppose Judas Priest was due for another live album release. If nothing else, it’s as good of a time as any to show off Richie Faulkner, even if isn’t Richie Faulkner’s first live release with the band. He was previously featured on 2013’s Epitaph, which was only released on DVD & Blu-ray.

And just as this is Richie’s first live album with Judas Priest, that also means it’s the first live album to not feature founding guitarist K.K. Downing. As a fan, yeah, it sucks that Downing isn’t a part of the group anymore but, in my honest opinion, his exit did not hamper the band at all. I think Faulkner joining has energized the band on stage and in the studio. It’s hard to say that K.K. Downing is missed when the band is sounding so well without him.

Most of the tracks are taken from the band’s appearance at the Wacken Open Air Festival in August 2005. If you happen to pick up the video, the three bonus tracks included (“The Rage”, “Screaming for Vengeance” & “Desert Plains”) are taken from a December 2015 show in Poland.

We all know live shows are doctored up, but Rob sounds really good here. There’s a few tracks where he really lets loose. I think he sounds exceptional on “Beyond the Realms of Death” and “Painkiller”. And, yes, the setlist is a pretty good one. Thankfully the band doesn’t tour with the same tired “greatest hits” setlist that so many bands do these days. I love that Judas Priest switches things up for every year. Obviously they have to deliver a few songs like “You Got a Another Thing Coming”, “Breaking the Law” and “Electric Eye” but it’s great to hear “Devil’s Child”, “Painkiller”, “Jawbreaker” and the inclusion of three songs from Redeemer of Souls.  Battle Cry is a worthy live release entry into Priest’s catalog.

Oh, and as is the trend these days, there is a DVD or Blu-ray that accompanies the CD. You can buy the CD/video bundle or buy either format separately. I’ve noticed that it seems like a lot of bands/labels push the DVD or Blu-ray itself more than they do the album or the bundle. Sometimes bands don’t even mention the album on their own official websites or social media pages.

Jani Lane – Catch A Falling Star [Album Review]

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Jani Lane – Catch A Falling Star
2016, Cleopatra Records/Deadline Music

Buy the album

1. I Want You to Want Me
2. Panama
3. Photograph
4. The Ocean
5. Doctor Doctor
6. Electric Eye
7. Free For All
8. No Surprise
9. Lay Your Hands On Me

Catch A Falling Star is a collection of cover songs that the late Jani Lane had sung on for various Cleopatra/Deadline compilations over the years. It’s not a collection of unreleased songs or B-songs or anything like that. In fact, this set was previously released as Photograph back in 2007, except this time a cover of “Electric Eye” by Judas Priest has been added.

Cleopatra Records has made its name bring all kinds of ’80s rockers together to cover songs by other ’80s rockers. Jani Lane was one of the Cleopatra’s go-to guys for these types of projects. Generally, the talent that Cleopatra could assemble to perform on one song was pretty impressive. Unfortunately, I’ve always felt the quality wasn’t ever really up to par.

Still, I like Jani’s voice and I love all of the bands covered here (Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, etc.), so it’s nice to hear Lane’s take on these classics.

Nothing essential though, obviously.

Highlights: “Panama”, “Doctor Doctor”, “Electric Eye”

Axel Rudi Pell – Game of Sins [Album Review]

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Axel Rudi Pell – Game of Sins
2016, SPV/Steamhammer

Buy the album

1. Lenta Fortuna (Intro)
2. Fire
3. Sons In The Night
4. Game Of Sins
5. Falling Star
6. Lost In Love
7. The King Of Fools
8. Till The World Says Goodbye
9. Breaking The Rules
10. Forever Free

Musicians:
Axel Rudi Pell – Guitar
Johnny Gioeli – Vocals
Volker Krawczak – Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
Ferdy Doernberg – Keyboards

I’ve never been a follower of German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell. I knew he was a known name in the world of heavy metal but I didn’t know anything about his work as a solo artist or in Steeler (the German band, not the American group that featured Ron Keel & Yngwie Malmsteen). I figured with Game of Sins, I might as well finally give Pell a shot. One thing’s for sure, I absolutely love the cover art for this album.

The first thing I noticed was Johnny Gioeli’s voice. There’s a nice slightly rough quality to it and I knew it sounded familiar… because he’s the singer from Hardline. The music itself is high quality melodic hard rock with great production that is reminiscent of House of Lords. Of course, you can ‘t speak in broadstrokes and ignore Axel Rudi Pell’s individual contributions. Great riffing and fiery solos.

And when all of that is combined with Gioeli’s melodic hard rock-ready voice, Game of Sins is an amazing effort and an early 2016 highlight that I wasn’t expecting. Definitely will have to check Pell’s earlier stuff now.

Highlights: “Sons in the Night”, “Game of Sins”,”Falling Star”, “Lost In Love”, “Forever Free”

Megadeth – Dystopia [Album Review]

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Megadeth – Dystopia
2016, Universal Music Enterprises

Buy the album

1. “The Threat Is Real”
2. “Dystopia”
3. “Fatal Illusion”
4. “Death from Within”
5. “Bullet to the Brain”
6. “Post American World”
7. “Poisonous Shadows”
8. “Conquer or Die!”
9. “Lying in State”
10. “The Emperor”
11. “Foreign Policy”
Digital Bonus Track:
12. “Melt the Ice Away”

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
David Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Kiko Loureiro – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Piano
Chris Adler – Drums

Producer: Dave Mustaine & Chris Rakestraw

Wow! What a surprise! A new line-up of Megadeth! Joining the two Daves are Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler. I had no issue with Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover being in the band but I guess when it comes to Megadeth, everyone Dave Mustaine is on borrowed time.

On to the music at hand, Dystopia is easily the band’s best release since 2004’s The System Has Failed. For the record (no pun intended), I thought Super Collider (2013) had some enjoyable moments but was a little lost on direction. Going a few years further back to Th13teen and Endgame, the band was trying to get heavy again but they completely forgot about melody. Both of those albums were frenetic, forgettable messes and I was starting to think Mega Dave had lost his touch.

It’s interesting that Dystopia has the band sounding as tight as a ever as a new producer has come on board in the form of Chris Rakestraw. Perhaps he helped breathed some new life into the band. I never thought Andy Sneap and especially Johnny K ever truly delivered. I hope Dave never uses either of them again.

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Signed vinyl copy

As with any album these days, there are multiple editions of it. I ordered my signed vinyl copy through the band’s PledgeMusic page and it came with a digital download of the album as well. The digital download and Spotify editions both include a cover of Budgie’s “Melt the Ice Away” as a bonus track. Japan gets “Me Hate You” while iTunes & Best Buy get “Last Dying Wish” and “Look Who’s Talking”. I’d love to hear those three songs but they haven’t hit YouTube yet!

It’s the album’s two cover songs that do absolutely nothing for me. The Budgie song and Fear’s “Foreign Policy”. The funny thing is, I’ve read people knocking Megadeth for having a punk song and some people saying it’s the worst Megadeth song ever… apparently they don’t realize it’s a cover song.

Everything else is top notch. “The Threat Is Real” and “Dystopia” are classic Megadeth and a great one-two combo to open the album. “Poisonous Shadows” is a moody number that sounds like it’s from The System Has Failed. “Lying In State” has a The System Has Failed vibe as well. “Conquer Or Die” is a fantastic instrumental that gives Kiko a co-writing credit.

I haven’t listened to a new Megadeth release this much since United Abominations but Dystopia easily trumps that release. It’s hard to say where I would rank this in the band’s catalog. They have tons of great album and you can now included Dystopia in that long list.

Highlights: “The Threat Is Real”, “Dystopia”, “Fatal Illusion”, “Poisonous Shadows”, “Lying In State”, “The Emperor”

Def Leppard – Def Leppard [Album Review]

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Def Leppard
2015, Mailboat Records

Buy the album

1. “Let’s Go”
2. “Dangerous”
3. “Man Enough”
4. “We Belong”
5. “Invincible”
6. “Sea of Love”
7. “Energized”
8. “All Time High”
9. “Battle of My Own”
10. “Broke ‘N’ Brokenhearted”
11. “Forever Young”
12. “Last Dance”
13. “Wings of an Angel”
14. “Blind Faith”

Band:
Joe Elliott – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Phil Collen – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Vivian Campbell – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rick Savage – Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rick Allen – Drums, Backing Vocals

Producer: Def Leppard

After hearing “Let’s Go”, I was pretty hopeful for this album. After all, I liked the three new studio songs included on Mirrorball and “Let’s Go” sounded like a continuation in that direction of the band returning back to their famous ’80s sound after having a slightly disappointing turn with ’70s glam-rock style of Songs from the Sparkle Lounge from 2008. Yes, it’s been seven years since the last studio album. Even the album art looks great and gives off the impression that the band is possibly maybe going to be a bit darker and rock a bit harder. Well, don’t judge an album by its cover art.

Breaking it down a bit:

– “Let’s Go” has been called “Pour Some Sugar On Me, Part 2”. Not quite as poppy, but yes, it bears some similarities and I’m completely okay with that. It’s definitely the one song on this albfum that sounds the most like the Def Leppard of the ’80s.

– “Energized” is the weird type of lame electronic pop song Joe Elliott would like the world to think that the band has always played. This one could’ve been on X, and it should’ve stayed there.

– “Man Enough” is funk rock, and that’s really weird to hear from Def Leppard, but it’s kinda cool.

– “We Belong” is a very nice ballad which has the nice surprise of the band trading off on vocals. Has anyone other than Joe ever had a lead vocal on a Def Leppard song before?

– “All Time High”. Almost sounds like something that you’d hear from the last two KISS albums. Straight forward meat and potato rocker full of positivity.

– “Battle of My Own” is a trippy acoustic rocker. Maybe something that channels a bit of Slang and Led Zeppelin.

– “Blind Faith” is a ballad that blooms late into a rocker and it that seems to be channeling “10538 Overture” by Electric Light Orchestra (which the band has covered).

As you can tell, the album is all over the place stylistically. Much like with Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, Def Leppard seems content to draw inspiration from the sounds of other bands instead of focusing on their own original sound. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is left up to the each individual listener.

All told, Def Leppard is a good album, and it’s that’s better their last two original studio albums (Sparkle Lounge and X) but I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed by it.

Highlights: “Let’s Go”, “Dangerous”, “Man Enough”, “We Belong”, “Forever Young”, “Blind Faith”

TOP TWENTY: The Best of Guns N’ Roses

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The rumors are swirling! Could they actually be true? Going by what various music websites are reporting, the “classic” line-up of Guns N’ Roses is due to announce a reunion tour any day/hour/minute now. It’s almost too good to be true, but I hope it all works out. I won’t hold my breath for a new studio album (although that would be the Holy Grail) but if they can get through a tour or a spot of big festival shows and get it on DVD, great.

As great as this news is, I’m slightly saddened because I guess this means the end of Axl’s “hired guns”. Sure, the original GNR run is the best, but I really loved Chinese Democracy and would have been content with more music in that vein. Basically, I just want Axl to keep making albums. Whether it’s solo, classic GNR or modern GNR.

Okay, so with GNR on everyone’s mind lately, I figured what better time to return to their discography and select the best of the best? Here’s what I think are the band’s best tunes. I’m excluding their various excellent covers because GNR has written so many great original tunes, they don’t need to hide behind cover songs (even if they did record an album full of them)!
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It should come as no surprise that a whopping NINE TRACKS from the band’s debut album, Appetite for Destruction, are mentioned here. You can’t really argue with the placement of any of these tracks.

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 The sole song I from GN’R Lies, “Patience” is easily stands out from the pack on that album. This one came so quickly on the heels of Appetite for Destruction, it sounds like it could’ve easily fit in on that record.

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In my opinion, history has not been kind to the first of the Use Your Illusion albums. The album seems a bit more crass and has a lot more filler that sees the band failing to capture the raw energy from their debut. I love the album, don’t get me wrong, but the songs don’t hope up as well when compared to the band’s best songs. Still, it delivered two monster ballads: “November Rain” and “Don’t Cry”. An alternate lyric version of “Don’t Cry” appears on Use Your Illusion II and it is just as good.

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Unlike Use Your Illusion I, the second album to come out of those sessions holds up quite a bit better. Much better songwriting this time. Not a flawless album, but seven absolute classics come from it. I even think “Estranged” is a better epic than “November Rain”.

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People probably won’t agree, but I think Chinese Democracy had a number of great tunes. I love the album but couldn’t justify putting those songs in a list that includes these other songs. That is, except for “This I Love”. It’s my favorite song off the album and one of GNR’s best ballads.

Buckcherry – Rock ‘N’ Roll [Album Review]

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Buckcherry – Rock ‘N’ Roll
2015, F Bomb Records

Buy the album

1. Bring It On Back
2. Tight Pants
3. Wish to Carry On
4. The Feeling Never Dies
5. Cradle
6. The Madness
7. Wood
8. Rain’s Falling
9. Sex Appeal
10. Get With It

Band:
Josh Todd – Vocals
Keith Nelson – Guitar
Stevie D – Guitar
Kelly LeMieux – Bass
Xavier Muriel – Drums

Producer: Keith Nelson

After the band’s ambitious and fantastic Confessions album (which focused on the seven deadly sins), Buckcherry scales it  back a bit and delivers a more fun and upbeat record this time around. Singer Josh Todd promised a “party album” after Confessions, and the guys delivered. I won’t take a genius to figure out what songs like “Tight Pants”, “Wood” and “Sex Appeal” are all about but the band manages to throw in a few musical surprises throughout the album.

While “Bring It On Back”, “Cradle”, “The Madness” and “Wish to Carry On” may be Buckcherry 101, “Tight Pants” makes use of horns and “The Feeling Never Dies” has a country twang to it. Additionally, “Rain’s Falling” has a bit of soulful funk going on with it, which isn’t surprising since Josh Todd said he was listening to a lot of ’70s soul music while writing for this album.

I embrace the length of this album: 10 songs clocking in at 37 minutes. I’m so tired of album spanning close to an album. Buckcherry gets in, does their job and gets out. Anyone who has ever liked Buckcherry will like Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Highlights: “Bring It On Back”, “Tight Pants”, “Wish to Carry On”, “The Feeling Never Dies”, “Cradle”, “The Madness”, “Wood”

A Light in the Black: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio [Album Review]

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A Light in the Black: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio
2015, Massacre Records

Buy the album

Disc 1
1. Sacred Heart
2. Kill the King
3. Evil Eyes
4. Heavy Metal Will Never Die
5. I Could Have Been a Dreamer
6. King of Rock ‘n’ Roll
7. One Night in the City
8. Neon Knights
9. Stand Up and Shout
10. I

Disc 2
1. A Light in the Black
2. Don’t Talk to Strangers
3. The Sign of the Southern Cross
4. Hungry for Heaven
6. The Last in Line
7. Time Machine
8. Kill the King
9. Holy Diver
10. Caught in the Middle

Five years after his passing, Ronnie James Dio’s presence in the world of heavy metal is still felt and heard via the endless live albums and tribute releases that arrive every year. While I think the releases of live material needs to be given a rest for a bit, I’m still interested in the tribute releases. It’s hard to fault anyone who wants to pay their respects to metal’s greatest vocalist. By my count, this is the fourth notable Dio tribute album with the previous ones being Jorn’s Dio, last year’s Ronnie James Dio – This Is Your Life and Joey DeMaio’s Magic: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio (which does not have Wendy Dio’s blessing).

Jorn’s tribute is my favorite of all the Dio tribute albums. This Is Your Life was pretty good (but had some bad moments), but I think A Light in the Black is a much more solid release than what was put together last year. This Is Your Life relied on star-power, and it was a great idea, but this is cool in that it’s a bunch of more obscure metal bands (all signed to Massacre Records) not straying too far from the script. I won’t list every band here but a few such as Crystal Ball, The Order, Circle of Silence, MessengeR, Gloryful and Rebellion make more than once appearance. I have no clue what any of these bands sound like when they play their own original tunes but they did a good job covering Dio’s career and it makes me want to check out their discography and see what their own stuff sounds like.

Well, except for Burden of Grief’s version of “Neon Knights”. Wow. That’s metal-core/death metal terrible. Couldn’t even finish that one. The music was fine, but those vocals… Arrrgh. Nor do I like Rebellion’s take on “I” which is more of the same, vocally. Shame since that’s one of my favorite Black Sabbath songs, ever. Though do a better job with their cover of “Kill the King”, though. Yes, there’s TWO versions of “Kill the King” here; MessengeR takes a crack at the song on the first disc.

This album covers all of Ronnie’s metal career (although it’d be nice if someone through in a metal version of his doo-wop days sometime): Rainbow, Sabbath and Dio. What’s interesting is the inclusion of David Feinstein’s “Metal Will Never Die” (covered by Gloryful), a sung which Ronnie guest spotted on for Feinstein’s Bitten By the Beast album, which I believe was the last song Ronnie ever recorded.

You don’t have to know any of these bands featured to enjoy this album. If you love the music of Ronnie James Dio and are interested in hearing how other vocalists do when tackling some of his classics, A Light in the Black is definitely worth a listen.

Highlights: “Sacred Heart” (Crystal Ball), “Kill the King” (MessengeR), “Evil Eyes” (Gun Barrel), “I Could Have Been a Dreamer” (The Order), “A Light in the Black” (Iron Fate), “The Sign of the Southern Cross” (Crystal Ball), “The Last In Line” (The Order)

Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King: Deathbat (Original Video Game Soundtrack) [Album Review]

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Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King: Deathbat
2015, Warner Bros. Records

Buy the album

1. Andronikos Theme
2. Nightmare Theme
3. Unholy Theme
4. Bat Country Theme
5. Babylon Theme
6. Afterlife Theme
7. Heaven Theme
8. Wicked Theme
9. Warrior Theme
10. Andronikos Theme – 8-Bit

I typically don’t care about video game soundtracks but given that this is credited to Avenged Sevenfold (I’ve yet to play the game for myself), I decided it was worthy of a review. While the band’s last album, Hail to the King, was pretty lame, I’m still enough of a fan of the band (thanks to their self-titled release and Nightmare) that I found it interesting and worthwhile to check out a video game soundtrack that they were credited with.

Basically, if you’re a fan of video game soundtracks, I can’t imagine you not enjoying Deathbat. It totally reminds me of the type of RPG scores you’d hear from the the Final Fantasy games from the Super Nintendo or Sony PlayStation. The video game has actually gotten some decent reviews. I guess it’s kind of a dungeon crawerl/Diablo-type game. I plan on buying it at some point.

As for the soundtrack? Well, it’s good. I guess it’s what you’d expect from this genre of video games. Honestly, while the soundtrack was obviously inspired by Avenged Sevenfold, I’m not sure if they wrote this themselves though. It was released through Warner Bros. Records, the band’s label, but the band’s Wikipedia website doesn’t mention it at all. Not that Wikipedia is the end-all, be-all of information, but usually someone is on there making sure things are up to date and accurate.

Obviously, Hail to the King: Deathbat is only of interest to hardcore fans of the band and/or album. It’s more orchestral in arrangement than hard rock or heavy metal (it’s all instrumental as well) but it’s not bad as background noise for fans of video game music.

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