Saliva – Rise Up
2014, Rum Bum Records
Buy the album
1. “Rise Up”
2. “She Can Sure Hide Crazy”
3. “No One But Me”
5. “1000 Eyes”
6. “Redneck Freakshow”
10. “In It To Win It”
11. “The Enemy”
12. “I Don’t Want It”
Bobby Amaru – vocals
Wayne Swinny – guitar
Dave Novotny – bass
Paul Crosby – drums and percussion
Producer: Bobby Huff
Saliva is one of a handful of “modern” bands that I follow. I wouldn’t say they are an all-time favorite but I do like them and I’ve been listening to them since the release of Every Six Seconds. I think they’ve done a great job writing singles throughout their career but it was the last two releases with former singer Josey Scott where I felt the band was finally getting more consistent in terms of writing a full album’s worth of quality material. When factoring in Scott’s departure and low sales for the last few albums, I figured it was going to a wrap for the band. Fortunately, that’s not the case as the band found a new vocalist and continued on.
Rise Up is technically Saliva’s second release with Bobby Amaru. In an odd move, an album called In It to Win It was given a temporary release in September 2013 but with the impending release of Rise Up, the album was eventually taken out of print and pulled from iTunes. Very strange because all of the songs on Rise Up were on In It to Win It and this album actually features three less tracks than In It to Win It had. So it’s not like the band went back into the studio to write and record new songs. It’s the same songs. The only change is they’ve shuffled the track list.
That marketing misstep aside, Rise Up is a worthy follow-up to Under Your Skin even if it the highlights here aren’t on pair with the highlights from that album. The songs still sound like Saliva (though they’ve completely dropped all rap-metal posturing) so anyone who has enjoyed the band in the past should like these songs. The only different is the vocals. Bobby Amaru is a good vocalist but fits much more in line with the generic modern alternative post-grunge whatever vocalist. Josey Scott stood out a bit due to his southern rock-style voice.
“Rise Up” is done in the typical Saliva anthemic style while “Lost” and “Closer” are exactly the type of ballads you expect from Saliva. Rise Up sees the band staying the course despite replacing singers and it’s worth at least one or two spins from anyone who likes Saliva.
Highlights: “Rise Up”, “She Can Sure Hide Crazy”, “Lost”, “1000 Eyes”, “Closer”
KISS – Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions
1997, Mercury Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com
3. “Master & Slave”
4. “Childhood’s End”
5. “I Will Be There”
7. “In My Head”
8. “It Never Goes Away”
9. “Seduction of the Innocent”
10. “I Confess”
11. “In the Mirror”
12. “I Walk Alone”
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Bruce Kulick – Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Producer: Toby Wright, Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley
The subtitle of this album is a bit misleading as the only thing “final” about it is that it is the last studio recorded by the Stanley/Simmons/Kulick/Singer line-up and it is also the last album from the band’s non-makeup era. The album was recorded in late 1995/early 1996 and was scheduled for a release in ’96 but then the big reunion with the original four members took place and this album was quickly forgotten about… just not by the fans. Bootleg copies of the album began circulating and despite the fact that KISS had put the make up back on and Ace & Peter were back in, this album was quietly released this album in October of 1997 because of demand for it. “Jungle” was released as a single and actually made it to #8 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts, despite the fact that the band wasn’t really promoting the release and they certainly weren’t playing any of these songs live.
Carnival of Souls shows a band definitely trying to keep up with the times, much as they were doing in the 1980s. This time around, the band was mimicking the grunge/alternative rock scene, specifically bands like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. You can even hear elements of Black Sabbath. I can imagine “It Never Goes Away” during that band’s Tony Martin era. The tone of the music and the lyrics are angry, serious and heavy. It’s a bit weird seeing KISS look so grungy and dour on the cover of the album. This is one of the band’s heaviest albums and I actually think it’s one of their best as well. Admittedly, KISS was already in the process of toughening up their image in 1992 with Revenge, so Carnival of Souls is just the next step. To point out the Revenge connection even more, I’ve always felt that “Hate” & “I Will Be There” were the next evolution of “Unholy” & “Every Time I Look at You”.
Granted, when you think of KISS, the sound and style on Carnival of Souls is probably not what you’d expect (or even want) to hear from the band. When I first heard it, I thought was weird but there was still something about it. I kept spinning it over and over and I started to become a big fan of the album. My first time hearing the album was probably somewhere between 1998 and 2000 and it’s something I still reach for every now and then all these years later. Songs like “Hate”, “Master & Slave”, “Jungle”, “I Will Be There” and “I Walk Alone” (Bruce Kulick finally get to shine!) still randomly pop up my head and bring me back.
Had the reunion not taken place, it would have been interesting to see how this album would have been received had it gotten a full promotional push and if KISS would’ve continued with this sound. Carnival of Souls is something different but also something good.
Highlights: “Hate”, “Rain”, “Master & Slave”, “Childhood’s End”, “I Will Be There”, “Jungle”, “Seduction of the Innocent”, “I Confess”, “I Walk Alone”
Megadeth – Risk
1999, Capitol Records
2. “Prince of Darkness”
3. “Enter the Arena”
4. “Crush ‘Em”
6. “The Doctor Is Calling”
7. “I’ll Be There”
11. “Time: The Beginning”
12. “Time: The End”
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Marty Friedman – Guitar, Backing Vocals
David Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Jimmy DeGrasso – Drums
Produced by Dan Huff and Dave Mustaine
Okay, Risk is what most Megadeth fans will agree to be the band’s worst album. I’m not too sure if I agree with that. There’s a number of tracks here that I like a lot. It was definitely something else though, even further removed from Megadeth’s roots than the commercial Countdown to Extinction or Youthanasia albums were. The album is different, that’s for sure. Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad though.
I’m not really sure how you’d describe this album. There are elements of metal, hard rock, alternative rock and, yes, even pop music. The album is certainly an oddity in the band’s catalog but it does have its charms.
“Crush ‘Em” is the song I remember getting the most push from this album. Megadeth performed the song live once on WCW Monday Nitro and then WCW pro wrestler Goldberg used it as his entrance music for a while. The song was also featured on the soundtrack to Universal Soldier: The Return, which Goldberg also had a role in. I think it was even used at sporting events for awhile. I guess it served its purpose. Mustaine has since called the song “dumb” and says he doesn’t like it. Of course it’s dumb, it’s a sports anthem! It’s dumb, but dumb fun.
If I’m remembering correctly, this album was the source of a lot of strife in the life of Mustaine and the band. Dave still wanted to one-up Metallica but wasn’t totally sure if this alternative rock/pop direction was the way to go, but the label was insisting. Meanwhile, Marty Friedman was becoming disgruntled working within the confines of Megadeth. You’d think he’d have been happier than ever in Megadeth consider this was a light album and he went on to recording pop songs once quitting the band and relocating to Japan.
There’s definitely some off-the-wall sounding songs here when you consider this is Megadeth. “Breadline” is a very good rock/pop song while “The Doctor Is Calling”, “Wanderlust”, “Ecstasy”, “Time: The Beginning” are semi-ballads with a strange almost trippy vibe to them.
Though sales were disappointing at the time, given everyone thought this was going to be the big “breakthrough” mainstream album for Megadeth, the album went on to sell over 500,000 copies. That puts it on level with 1997’s Cryptic Writings so I don’t consider Risk to be a commercial failure when looking strictly at the numbers. And despite negative reviews, it’s actually the last Megadeth album to be certified gold.
Listening to the album now, it’s not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. But I never thought it was bad even when I first heard it. Again, it’s just different. In the Megadeth catalog, I might actually rank it above the hard, fast & bland Thirteen and Endgame albums. Those two album had a handful of really good songs but I daresay Risk is more consistent.
Highlights: “Insomnia”, “Crush ‘Em”, “Breadline”, “The Doctor Is Calling”, “I’ll Be There”, “Wanderlust”, “Ecstasy”, “Time: The Beginning”
Papa Roach – The Connection
(2012, Eleven Seven Music)
2. “Still Swingin'”
3. “Where Did the Angels Go?”
4. “Silence is the Enemy”
5. “Before I Die”
6. “Wish You Never Met Me”
7. “Give Me Back My Life”
8. “Breathe You In”
9. “Leader of the Broken Hearts”
10. “Not That Beautiful”
11. “Walking Dead”
12. “Won’t Let Up”
13. “As Far as I Remember”
Jacoby Shaddix – Vocals
Jerry Horton – Guitar
Tobin Esperance – Bass
Tony Palermo – Drums
Producer: James Michael & John Feldmann
When Papa Roach crashed onto the scene with their nu-metal bandwagon Infest album, who would’ve thought they’d still be around 12 years later releasing new music? The Connection is the band’s 7th studio album and I have to admit Papa Roach have had quite a respectful career with hit singles, gold & platinum albums and energetic live shows.
The Connection is an appropriate album because even though the band has gone through changes in sound and style over the years (heck, the last album was called Metamorphosis) on this release they attempt to bring it all together. At various times, the band’s brand of rock has been alternative metal, nu metal, electronic rock, rock/pop, rap metal and even ’80s melodic hard rock. Papa Roach isn’t going for a cohesive sound on this album and I mean that in a good way. The band is bringing everything they’ve brought to the table in the past.
“Still Swingin'” is a perfect anthemic example of what Papa Roach has sounded like over the last few releases while “Where Did the Angels Go?” brings back the band’s nu metal/rap influences. “Before I Die” is pure radio ready infectious rock/pop ballad that will probably be released as a single.
Of course, some of the lyrics are overly dramatic and emo and just look at some of the song titles: “Before I Die”, “Wish You Never Met Me”, “Leader of the Broken Hearts”, etc. It’s like a gloomy 15 year old came up with this stuff. But for the most part, Papa Roach knows how to write a catchy melody and chorus.
I think this album compares favorably to the band’s previous efforts. There’s a bit of everything for everyone.
Highlights: “Still Swingin'”, “Where Did the Angels Go?”, “Silence Is The Enemy”, “Before I Die”, “Wish You Never Met Me”, “Walking Dead”
1. “Spider In My Mouth”
3. “Blood Happens”
4. “Inside My Head”
5. “Sin and Bones”
6. “A Passed Life”
7. “She’s My Addiction”
8. “Shine Forever”
9. “Dark Passenger”
10. “Storm the Beaches”
Chris Jericho – Lead Vocals
Rich Ward – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Billy Grey – Guitar
Paul Di Leo – Bass
Frank Fontsere – Drums
Phil Campbell – Guitar (solo on “She’s My Addiction”)
Producer: Rich Ward
Fozzy returns with their 5th album, which is very much a continuation of the quasi-Avenged Sevenfold sound they started going for with 2012’s Chasing the Grail. Heck, they even got M. Shadow’s to do vocals for one of their songs (the lead single “Sandpaper”).
Previous Fozzy albums seemed to do a few really good numbers with a bunch of dreck to fill out the album. Luckily, the good outweighs the bad here. “Spider In My Mouth” is a good A7X sounding numbers where melody meets metal. “Sandpaper” sounds like a Fozzy song. “Blood Happens” has some decent moments but is ultimately not a favorite of mine because it ends up sounding like metalcore at times (complete with metalcore vocals from Jericho… don’t do that again). “Inside My Head” is standard modern hard rock but I like it. “Sin and Bones” is another driving number ready for radio. “A Passed Life” is somber and melodic. Good tune.
Despite the involvement of Motorhead’s Phil Campbell, “She’s My Addiction” is a bit too light sounding. The chorus reminds me of Trixter. “Shine Forever” is a bland modern number that comes across as Tool a bit. “Dark Passenger” is another track with low-key melodic moments and I’m starting to think it’s those moments where Fozzy’s strength really lies. The eleven minute closer “Storm the Beaches” also features those quiet moments but also some thrashy moments that bring to mind Anthrax and yet again Avenged Sevenfold.
Century Media is the fourth label the band has been on. The first two albums were released by Megaforce and they’ve been label hopping ever since. Hopefully they’ve found a new permanent home with Century Media, which is a solid label for metal bands. Jericho stated he thought Sin And Bones was the band’s “black album”, the one that’s going to break them into the mainstream.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that way. The album debuted at #143 on the Billboard and even with M. Shadows “Sandpaper” didn’t chart as a single. Still, despite some criticisms I have about Jericho’s voice), the band itself is writing better songs. Is it the Black Album? Not quite but it’s definitely Fozzy’s best album so far.
Highlights: “Spider In My Mouth”, “Sandpaper”, “Sin and Bones”, “A Passed Life”, “Dark Passenger”, “Storm the Beaches”
My Darkest Days – Sick And Twisted Affair
(2012, Mercury Records)
1. Sick And Twisted Affair … 3:41
2. Save Yourself … 3:43
3. Casual Sex … 3:16
4. Stutter … 2:45
5. Nature Of The Beast … 3:03
6. Perfect … 3:51
7. Again … 3:38
8. Gone … 3:33
9. Love Crime … 2:59
Matt Walst – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Sal Costa – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brendan McMillan – Bass
Doug Oliver – Drums, Percussion
Reid Henry – Keyboard, Backing Vocals
John 5 – Guitar (“Casual Sex”)
Barry Stock – Guitar (“Again”)
Producer: Joey Moi
Well, when something is working, why change it? Just like My Darkest Days’ self-titled debut, Sick And Twisted Affair has he same producer (sans Chad Kroeger), guest musicians and dirty catchy club-worthy hard rock numbers that deal with sex.
There is a deluxe edition that features extra tracks a few alternate mixes and the same cover art but colored differently (I prefer the deluxe edition’s color scheme). I haven’t heard the deluxe edition but I’m really loving the fact that there’s only 9 songs on the regular edition. Always leave ’em wanting more, never overstay your welcome. Helps to cut down on filler too.
Speaking of filler, the only track I would consider to be just that is the band’s cover of Joe & Mystikal’s “Stutter”. I loved their take on Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” on the last album but this one doesn’t work, IMO.
So getting to what does work, let’s start off with the lead single “Casual Sex”. Definitely the follow up to “Porn Star Dancing” and meant to appeal to the club scene but that’s okay because it rocks at the same time (and just like “Porn Star Dancing” there are pop and rock mixes available). With that song and others, I’m noticing keyboards being used a lot more. There’s very much a synth sound found on “Sick And Twisted Affair”, “Love Crime” and “Again” where the band comes across like a sexier version of Orgy (not that orgies can’t be sexy).
More in the typical modern hard rock style there is “Nature of the Beast” which I would place as the weakest original track on the album.
It’s really hard to pick the best tracks because I find myself repeating each song 2 or 3 times. On this day alone I think I’ve listened to this album 6 or 7 times total. Virtually every song will stick in your head and take up space. There’s so much single potential here. “Love Crime”, “Again”, “Save Yourself” and “Gone” are ready for rock & pop stations. “Save Yourself” and “Gone” are the two ballads on the album, great songs and I can definitely see them blowing up big on the pop stations.
As with the debut, this album is going to be one of my favorite of the year. Great collection of hard rock that has broad appeal. If you were a fan of My Darkest Days’ first album, you’re going to be a fan of this one as well.
Highlights: “Sick And Twisted Affair”, “Save Yourself”, “Casual Sex”, “Perfect”, “Again”, “Gone”, “Love Crime”
Zeroking – Kings of Self Destruction (2012, Vanity Music Group)
1. “Dead Rock Star” … 4:49
2. “Forget Vegas” … 4:52
3. “She Said” … 4:52
4. “Showtime Revolution” … 4:04
5. “Southern Lady, Ex-Godiva” … 5:09
6. “Stone Cold Bitch” … 3:54
7. “Love Is Dead” … 4:33
8. “Kings of Self Destruction” … 3:27
9. “Girls of California” … 4:48
10. “The Party’s Over” … 4:32
11. “Black Friday” … 3:53
12. “Valentine” … 4:28
13. “Leaving Los Angeles” … 6:32
14. “Valentine” [Studio Outtake] … 4:37
15. “Stone Cold Bitch” [Acoustic – Live] … 4:04
16. “Girls of California” [Single Edit] … 4:06
Andy Haught – Lead Vocals
Shane Day – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Paul First – Bass, Backing Vocals
Chris Webb – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Producer: Steve Riley
Caught somewhere between old school and new school Huntington, West Virginia’s Zeroking are a band that should be all over radio… NOW!!! These guys describe themselves as “a hard rock/metal party” and that’s pretty accurate. Zeroking brings influences from bands like Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue but adds a modern hard rock touch of their own just in the way that Hinder and Buckcherry have done. Any fan of Buckcherry & Hinder should find plenty to like here. The band has found a great middle ground for classic rock and new rock. Zeroking fits modern rock radio stations and fans of Adelita’s Way, Sick Puppies, Sixx:A.M., Skillet and Pop Evil will like these guys.
The band wastes no time by opening the album with “Dead Rock Star”. My favorite track on the album and would be my choice as a single. Very catchy stuff that will appeal to the new old school and old school. “She Said” is a modern hard rock song that I could also see getting play on radio. “Southern Lady, Ex-Godiva” has a southern rock swagger to it that will draw comparisons to Buckcherry or the last Hinder album. “Love Is Dead” is another great tune that has single potential with lead singer Andy Haught sharing vocals another Huntington native Stacee Lawson (whose voice reminds me of Stevie Nicks). Through the sleaze & swagger of the rest of the album, the album starts to wind down on a sensitive note with “Valentine”. This is a really good ballad and, again, could be a single. “Leaving Los Angeles” is a great semi-laid back rock rock/pop tune that closes the proper album (the final three tracks are alternative versions) and sounds like Sixx:A.M.
Zeroking are a band that have a lot of things going for them on Kings of Self Destruction. The production is very well done and the songs will appeal to a broad range of hard rock fans. They are old school and melodic enough for ’80s fans yet current enough to grab the ear of fans of the modern rock scene. Check this album out and help spread the word about this great young band.
Highlights: “Dead Rock Star”, “She Said”, “Southern Lady, Ex-Godiva”, “Stone Cold Bitch”, “Love Is Dead”, “The Party’s Over”, “Valentine”, “Leaving Los Angeles”
Drug Under – Forgive and Forget (2012, Down Boy Records)
1. Forgive and Forget
2. I Need To See
3. Borrowed Time
3. Never Again
7. Change My Ways
8. All The Lies
9. It’s Over
Romero – Vocals
Eric Greenwall – Guitars
Pat Searcy – Guitars
Aaron Greenwall – Bass
Mike Crisler – Drums
Producer: Mark Obermeyer, Jerry Dixon & Erik Turner
Never judge a book (or album) by its cover! When this Denver, CO.-based band was first brought to my attention, going by the cover art and knowing that the label is owned and operated by Warrant’s Jerry Dixon & Erik Turner, I assumed Drug Under was going to be the type of hard rock act that drew heavily on ’80s influences. Not so. They are a modern hard rock/metal act that fits right in with the rest of the bands on active rock radio these days.
I can’t say this type of rock that features an alternative influence and crunchy guitars is a favorite of mine but Drug Under has their moments where they really shine. “I Need To See” and “Never Again” have the most commercial appeal, I think, and are my favorites. Very cool songs that should be on radio. “Forgive and Forget”, “Borrowed Time” & “Echoes” all have enough of a hard driving edge to keep those that just want to bang their heads satisfied. “All The Lies” and “It’s Over” are of particular interest to me. There’s some nice melodies in the melancholy moments of both of these rockers that show potential for this band to write some great ballads later down the line.
Forgive and Forget is an album sure to appeal to fans of the modern rock/metal scene and ’90s rock/metal. While I am not going to say that Drug Under knocked it out of the park on this release, it’s still an enjoyable listen that shows this is a talented band that has a bright future.
Highlights: “I Need To See”, “Never Again”, “Change My Ways”, “All The Lies”, “It’s Over”
Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.
2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.
Top 25 Albums of 2011
1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.
Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.
1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]
Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!
All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/
Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/
The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/
Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/
Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/
Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com
Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/
Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/
Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/
Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/
Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/
The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/
Posted in Year End Awards
Tags: Alice Cooper, Alternative Metal, Alternative Rock, Anthrax, AOR, Black 'n Blue, Black Country Communion, Black Sabbath, Black Veil Brides, Blues Rock, Chickenfoot, Classic Metal, Classic Rock, Def Leppard, Edguy, Eric Carr, Foo Fighters, George Lynch, Glam Metal, Glam Rock, Hair Metal, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Hell, House of Lords, Hurtsmile, Ian Gillan, Joe Bonamassa, Journey, King Kobra, KISS, Megadeth, Melodic Hard Rock, Melodic Rock, Metal, Metalcore, Mike Tramp, Music, Myles Kennedy, NWOBHM, Pop Metal, Power Metal, Reckless Love, Riot, Rock, Saliva, Savage Messiah, Scorpions, Sebastian Bach, Sixx:A.M., Slash, Sleaze Metal, Sleaze Rock, Speed Metal, Steel Panther, Stryper, The Last Vegas, The Poodles, Thrash Metal, Tony Iommi, Vains of Jenna, Warrant, White Lion, Whitesnake, Who Cares, Wildstreet