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OVERLOADED – Hail the Kingdom

Overloaded – Hail the Kingdom (2007, self-released)

1. “Hellfire” … 3:16
2. “Heavy Metal Highway” … 3:25
3. “Shotgun City” … 2:55
4. “Feeling Overloaded” … 3:39
5. “Where Are You Running To?” … 4:42
6. “Cyclone” … 3:41
7. “Beaver Fever” … 3:37
8. “War of the Worlds” … 2:50
9. “King of the Landfill” … 3:14
10. “Zygote” … 4:22
BONUS TRACK
11. “Crazy Horses” … 2:53 [2005 Unreleased Demo]

Band:
Chris Gillen – Vocals
ERiK Kluiberg – Guitar
John Sullens – Guitar
Michael Massie – Bass
Lorenzo Gonzalez – Drums

Near as I can tell, 2007’s Hail the Kingdom is a re-issue of 2006’s Overloaded, which itself was comprised of the Hellfire EP and Hail the Kingdom EP (both released in 2005). Besides the somewhat confusing name change, this issue also includes the song “Crazy Horses”, which was a previously unreleased demo and believe it or not is a cover of a rockin’ song by The Osmonds!

I was tipped off to this band by a metal message board, sampled the band on MySpace, ordered the album on CD Universe, and then found out later that day on the same message board that the band had split up! I’m not sure when, but it’s true and according to Chris Gillen’s MySpace page, he is now singing for Tokyo Blade.

Anyway, for the short time the band was around, they made some great rock ‘n’ roll & heavy metal! Yes, BOTH! In trying to learn more about the band, I see virtually ever site passing them off (with praise) as a throwback to ’80s “hair era”. I don’t see how that’s the only sound they’re picking up here (even if the band has opened for the likes of White Lion, Skid Row and Slaughter), because the band is all over the place with genres, but they do it all well, so I’m not complaining.

“Hellfire” and “Heavy Metal Highway” are great NWOBHM sounding songs fully equipped with generic Satanic lyrics. “Shotgun City” and “War of the Worlds” bring the sleaze & glam. “Where Are You Running To?” and “Zygote” are alternative. “King of the Landfill” is punk. “Beaver Fever” is Nugent-esque. There’s also garage & southern rock vibes to some songs as well. Everything sounds awesome though, and my only beef is the recurring theme of Satan: the album art/title and the lyrics that pop up in a handful of songs. I’m not a religious man, but whether it’s tongue-in-cheek or if there’s some “statement” being made, I find lyrics like “sell your soul to the devil, and you’ll never ever have to die” to be lame and unnecessary.

Chris Gillen is an exceptional vocalist and as good as the music is, I also love listening to this album just to hear his voice, which seems like a blend of Sebastian Bach and Charm City Devil’s John Allen.

Highlights: “Hellfire”, “Heavy Metal Highway”, “Feeling Overloaded”, “Where Are You Running To?”, “Beaver Fever”, “War of the Worlds”

www.overloadedmusic.com
www.myspace.com/overloaded

HIM – Razorblade Romance

HIM – Razorblade Romance [U.S. Reissue] (2003, BMG Music/Universal Records)
Original Release: 1999, BMG International

1. “Your Sweet Six Six Six” … 3:57
2. “Poison Girl” … 3:51
3. “Join Me in Death” … 3:37
4. “Right Here in My Arms” … 4:00
5. “Bury Me Deep Inside Your Heart” … 4:15
6. “Wicked Game” … 4:05
7. “I Love You (Prelude to Tragedy)” … 3:10
8. “Gone With the Sin” … 4:22
9. “Razorblade Kiss” … 4:18
10. “Resurrection” … 3:39
11. “Death Is In Love With Us” … 2:58
12. “Heaven Tonight” … 3:18
13. “Sigillum Diaboli” … 3:54
14. “One Last Time” … 5:09

Band:
Ville Valo — Vocals
Mikko “Linde” Lindström — Guitar
Mikko “Migé” Paananen — Bass, Backing Vocals
Mika “Gas Lipstick” Karppinen — Drums, Percussion
Jussi-Mikko “Juska” Salminen — Keyboards

(I couldn’t nail down a definite list of credits for this album, I saw many sites giving credit to a number of different members. If you have any corrections, please let me know.)

Produced by: John Fryer

A friend of mine, who is way more into the whole emo/goth movement than I am, suggested this band to me years ago, as they were building their fan base in the U.S., so I gave them a shot. My initial purchase was Dark Light, but later I picked this reissue up. Compared to the original Finnish release, this reissue features three additional songs thrown in: “Your Sweet Six Six Six”, “Sigillum Diaboli” and a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”.

Like I said, goth isn’t my style. I’m hair metal guy, but this album is really catchy and has some great moments full of mood & atmosphere. Lead singer Ville Valo has described HIM as being “love metal”. I couldn’t listen to it often, it’s much too melancholy and down at times, it’s easy to get caught up in the music and lyrics. This is really good “I’m goth, depressed and I wanna be loved” stuff! Many parts of this album remind me latter day Sentenced.

Their cover of “Wicked Game” is really cool (and is a rocker) and for some reason, I think if they covered a Motley Crue song, it would be amazing. Something like “You’re All I Need” or “Without You”.

Highlights: “Your Sweet Six Six Six”, “Poison Girl”, “Join Me in Death”, “Bury Me Deep Inside Your Heart”, “Wicked Game”, “Resurrection”, “Death Is In Love With Us”, “Heaven Tonight”

www.heartagram.com
www.myspace.com/heartagram

VELVET REVOLVER – Libertad

Velvet Revolver – Libertad (2007, RCA Records)

1. “Let It Roll” … 2:32
2. “She Mine” … 3:25
3. “Get Out the Door” … 3:14
4. “She Builds Quick Machines” … 4:04
5. “The Last Fight” … 4:03
6. “Pills, Demons & Etc.” … 2:54
7. “American Man” … 3:56
8. “Mary Mary” … 4:33
9. “Just Sixteen” … 3:59
10. “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” … 3:58
11. “For a Brother” … 3:26
12. “Spay” … 3:06
13. “Gravedancer” … 8:42

Band:
Scott Weiland- Vocals, Keyboards
Slash – Guitar
Dave Kushner – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Matt Sorum – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Produced by: Brendan O’Brien

The second (and final) Scott Weiland-fronted VR album sounds a lot like his old band Stone Temple Pilots. The band seems to have traded some of the heaviness of Contraband for a bit more melody that showcases Weiland’s voice much better with its diversity. This isn’t surprising though with longtime STP producer Brendan O’Brien producing this record.

The album didn’t fare as well as their debut, as of this writing it hasn’t even gone gold (their debut was 2x platinum), but it’s just as strong. It took some time for Contraband to grow on me, but I immediately loved this album for it’s similarities to STP (“She Builds Quick Machines”, “Pills, Demons & Etc.” and “American Man” sound like they would’ve fit on No. 4). I was surprised and disappointed this album didn’t catch on despite debuting at #5 on Billboard and that Weiland left the band less than a year after this release. I know drugs played a part in that, but I’m sure if the album had been more successful, the group would’ve been more determined to work things out.

There is a hidden song on Track 13. It starts at about 4:43 and is called “Don’t Drop That Dime”.

This is one of only two albums Weiland claims to have recorded sober (STP’s Core being the first).

Highlights: “Let It Roll”, “She Builds Quick Machines”, “The Last Fight”, “Pills, Demons & Etc.”, “American Man”, “Mary Mary”, “For a Brother”

www.velvetrevolver.com
www.myspace.com/velvetrevolver

AMERICAN HI-FI – American Hi-Fi

American Hi-Fi – American Hi-Fi (2001, Island Records)

1. “Surround” … 3:11
2. “Flavor of the Weak” … 3:08
3. “A Bigger Mood” … 3:38
4. “Safer on the Outside” … 4:01
5. “I’m a Fool” … 4:00
6. “Hi-Fi Killer” … 3:05
7. “Blue Day” … 3:33
8. “My Only Enemy” … 3:27
9. “Don’t Wait for the Sun” … 3:50
10. “Another Perfect Day” … 3:38
11. “Scar” … 4:03
12. “What About Today” … 3:34
13. “Wall of Sound” … 5:48

Band:
Stacy Jones – Vocals, Guitar
Jamie Arentzen – Guitar
Drew Parsons – Bass
Brian Nolan – Drums

Produced by: Bob Rock

Another album from 2001 that really worked for me during a time of hudge drama. American Hi-Fi are a blend of alternative, power pop and pop punk (which was an extremely popular genre in the early 00s). I’ve never really cared for pop punk, but I was heavily into modern day power pop at the time with bands like Tsar, 40 Ft. Ringo, Lit, Zebrahead, Weezer and of course, one my favorite bands of all time Marvelous 3. American Hi-Fi came along went a sound that was slick and not too slick. The album has more of an alternative rock edge than the previously mentioned bands’ work and it’s not quite as cheery and carefree.

I spent a lot of time sitting on the bed with my headphones on, using a DISCMAN,  in my friend’s house in Virginia (where I stayed while going to college for a semester) listening to the melancholy/aggressive songs like “Safer on the Outside”, “My Only Enemy” (which, with a little more sprucing up, could be a NIN song) and “Don’t Wait for the Sun”. I got a lot of poetry done being inspired by the music and the word of Stacy Jones.

“Flavor of the Weak” hit #5 on Billboard’s Modern Rock charts, but it’s a shame the album wasn’t more successful, it’s definitely a worthwhile rock/pop entry for the early 2000s.

The band has been in limbo for a few years after The Art of Losing (2003) and Hearts on Parade (2005, and produced by Butch Walker!) were commercial failures. Supposedly, a new album, which was initially planned for 2008, is still on the horizon. In the meantime, Jones has gone on to produce a number of albums and is the “music director” for Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus and is also her touring drummer.

Highlights: “Flavor of the Weak”, “A Bigger Mood”, “Safer on the Outside”, “My Only Enemy”, “”Don’t Wait for the Sun”, “Another Perfect Day”, “Wall of Sound”

www.americanhi-fi.com
www.myspace.com/americanhifi

PUDDLE OF MUDD – Come Clean

Puddle of Mudd – Come Clean (2001, Geffen Records/Flawless Records)

1. “Control” … 3:50
2. “Drift & Die” … 4:25
3. “Out of My Head” … 3:43
4. “Nobody Told Me” … 5:22
5. “Blurry” … 5:04
6. “She Hates Me” … 3:37
7. “Bring Me Down” … 4:03
8. “Never Change” … 3:59
9. “Basement” … 4:22
10. “Said” … 4:08
11. “Piss It All Away” … 5:39

Band:
Wes Scantlin – Vocals, Guitar
Paul Phillips – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Douglas Ardito – Bass, Backing Vocals
Greg Upchurch – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Josh Freese – Drums, Backing Vocals

Produced by: John Kurzweg, Fred Durst, Jordan Schur

Surprisingly, this is one of my favorite albums of the decade. It really came out at the right time for me in my life when I was lonely, angry and heartbroken, so it all worked out for me and fit my mood at the time (just like Cold’s 13 Ways to Bleed on Stage simultaneously). I usually rally against most grunge-influenced hard rock, and I can see that I shouldn’t like this album, but I do.

In fact, I love it and I’m not even sure why I picked the album up all those years ago because I remember the lead single “Control” getting lots of radio play and it was the generic post-grunge song to me. “Blurry” was the album’s biggest hit, and my favorite on the album, but I’m pretty sure I picked this up before that was a single, so I guess I was desperate for a “new” band to listen to.

Puddle of Mudd is really the brainchild of lead singer Wes Scantli, but the band was heavily championed by Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst (who signed them to his imprint over at Geffen). Don’t worry though, they have absolutely nothing to do with nu metal/rap-metal and are more derivative of Nirvana mainly (especially on “She Hates Me” and “Nobody Told Me”) with a bit of Alice In Chains thrown in.

Odd thing is, as much as I enjoyed this album, I never tried anything after that. I guess I’ve always been afraid this album was a fluke for me. Maybe someday I’ll get around to it though.

Highlights: “Drift & Die”, “Out of My Head”, “Nobody Told Me”, “Blurry”, “Bring Me Down”, “Never Change”, “Said”

www.puddleofmudd.com
www.myspace.com/puddleofmudd

STONE TEMPLE PILOTS – Core

Stone Temple Pilots – Core (1992, Atlantic Records)

1. “Dead & Bloated” … 5:10
2. “Sex Type Thing” … 3:36
3. “Wicked Garden” … 4:05
4. “No Memory” … 1:20
5. “Sin” … 6:05
6. “Naked Sunday” … 3:50
7. “Creep” … 5:33
8. “Piece of Pie” … 5:24
9. “Plush” … 5:13
10. “Wet My Bed” … 1:36
11. “Crackerman” … 3:13
12. “Where the River Goes” … 8:26

Band:
Scott Weiland – Vocals
Dean DeLeo – Guitar
Robert DeLeo – Bass
Eric Kretz – Drums

Produced by: Brendan O’Brien

If you know me, or have read this blog for a period of time, you know I’m not a big fan of alternative & grunge music. That whole scene made it a crime to actually have FUN with your rock, but even so, a very select few bands slipped through and rose above it all to create some great music. Stone Temple Pilots was one of those bands and they are easily one of my favorite bands of all-time and certainly my favorite alternative act.

This debut album is a classic hard r0ck release, regardless of genre. Tons of songs were and still are radio staples, but it’s actually quite different, being heavier than the later STP albums that blended hard rock with pop and psychadelia. Although I consider STP to be “alternative” and not “grunge”, the grunge sound is quite strong on this album with Pearl Jam and especially Alice In Chains influencing the sound.

Great release, and the band would only get better as time went on.

In addition to producing the next three STP albums, Brendan O’Brien has gone on to become very in-demand having produced albums for Pearl Jam, Papa Roach, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Korn, Velvet Revolver, My Chemical Romance, The Offspring, Incubus, Aerosmith and Audioslave.

Highlights: “Dead & Bloated”, “Sex Type Thing”, “Wicked Garden”, “Naked Sunday”, “Creep”, “Plush”, “Crackerman”, “Where the River Goes”

www.stonetemplepilots.com
www.myspace.com/stonetemplepilots

THEORY OF A DEADMAN – Scars and Souvenirs

Theory of a Deadman – Scars & Souvenirs (2008, Roadrunner Records)

1. “So Happy” … 4:11
2. “By the Way” … 3:35
3. “Got It Made” … 3:14
4. “Not Meant to Be” … 3:33
5. “Crutch” … 3:16
6. “All or Nothing” … 3:30
7. “Heaven (Little by Little)” … 4:19
8. “Bad Girlfriend” … 3:25
9. “Hate My Life” … 3:10
10. “Little Smirk” … 3:31
11. “End of the Summer” … 3:30
12. “Wait for Me” … 4:03
13. “Sacrifice” … 2:54

Band:
Tyler Connolly – Vocals, Guitar
Dave Brenner – Guitar
Dean Back – Bass
Joey Dandeneau – Drums

Produced by: Howard Benson

The label was kind enough to send me this album along with a few others (don’t worry, we’ll get to them).

Let’s face it, Theory of a Deadman is not an original band. They have the Nickelback act down pat, the only difference is they aren’t quite as successful. Maybe they will reach that higher commercial status when they release their next album because this third album has done pretty well, selling 500,000+ copies with big rock radio hits like “So Happy”, “Bad Girlfriend” and “Hate My Life” to support it.

I guess “Bad Girlfriend” is a decent tune about having a girl who is well, a bad girl, but there’s hardly much to distinguish this album from their last one (Same producer from their last album Gasoline, same Nickelback coattail riding) and there’s too many slow, reflective moments as if these songs were written to be included in a tender scene from a teen drama on The CW or part of a movie soundtrack.  And something really bugs me about Tyler Connolly vocals. Yes, he hits the notes, but his voice is the epitome of the generic and bland status that the current mainstream hard rock scene displays. Then again, he’s aping Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger who is the template for this generation’s bland rock style of singing.

For fans of current radio rock, this is probably a great album, but for me, it’s a definite pass. This is the type of hard rock that appeals to females that envision themselves as party animal rock chicks, but I can’t imagine a true male rocker actually enjoying this album.

It’s interesting to note that producer Howard Benson , has produced all kinds of rock bands over the years, most notably (as far as this blog is concerned, anyway): Tuff, Motorhead, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bang Tango!

Highlights: “Got It Made”, “Crutch”, “Bad Girlfriend”

www.theoryofadeadman.com
www.myspace.com/theoryofadeadman

OLEANDER – February Son

Oleander – February Son (1999, Republic Records)

1. “You’ll Find Out” … 3:12
2. “Stupid” … 3:51
3. “Down When I’m Loaded” … 4:24
4. “Why I’m Here” … 3:58
5. “I Walk Alone” … 4:09
6. “Lost Cause” … 4:28
7. “Where Were You Then?” … 4:05
8. “Shrinking The Blob” … 4:25
9. “How Could I?” … 5:13
10. “Boys Don’t Cry” … 3:14
11. “Never Again” … 3:58

Band:
Thomas Flowers – Vocals, Guitar
Ric Ivanisevich – Guitar
Doug Eldridge – Bass
Scott Devours – Drums

Produced by: Steven Haigler

Another purchase from my late-90s open-minded phase. Oleander are pure alternative rock, “post-grunge”, if you will and I got hooked on their singe “Why I’m Here”. If that was a new single today, I’d probably like it, but not give the album the time of day.

I’m glad I did take the chance on them at the time though because as far as alternative rock goes, this is pretty good and melodic enough to keep m interested. I’m not really a fan of Thomas Flower’s voice, but I guess it’s the typical alternative rocker/whiner voice.

This was the band’s major label debut and six of the songs were previously released on their 1997 indie release (including “Why I’m Here”), Shrinking the Blob. Stuff like that really ticks me off when bands just re-record their indie stuff for major labels, Godsmack and The Last Vegas spring to mind.

My biggest memory of this album is listening to it while I got majorly into playing my old NES again and playing Baseball Stars (STILL one of the best games ever made).

Highlights: “Down When I’m Loaded”, “Why I’m Here”, “I Walk Alone”, “Lost Cause”, “How Could I?”, “Boys Don’t Cry”

www.oleander.net
www.myspace.com/oleanderband

THE SCORPION KING – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The Scorpion King – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2002, Universal Music)

1. “I Stand Alone” – Godsmack … 4:05
2. “Set It Off (Tweaker Remix)” – P.O.D. … 4:11
3. “Break You” – Drowning Pool … 2:48
4. “Streamline” – System of a Down … 3:36
5. “To Whom It May Concern” – Creed … 5:10
6. “Yanking Out My Heart” – Nickelback … 3:36
7. “Losing My Grip” – Hoobastank … 3:56
8. “Only the Strong” – Flaw … 4:18
9. “Iron Head” – Rob Zombie Feat. Ozzy Osbourne … 4:11
10. “My Life” – 12 Stones … 3:03
11. “Along the Way” – Mushroomhead … 3:17
12. “Breathless” – Lifer … 4:40
13. “Corrected” – Sevendust … 4:31
14. “Burn It Black” – Injected … 2:43
15. “27” – Breaking Point … 3:38
16. “Glow” – Coal Chamber … 3:08

Most “original motion picture soundtracks” are made up of filler. Previously released songs or songs that weren’t good enough to make the artists’ album get dumped onto these releases and it’s no different here. The line-up of bands is actually really strong collection of popular late 90s/early 00s rock & metal acts (with a few “who are they” groups thrown in) but let’s be honest– that era doesn’t really have an impressive resume of bands or originality.

The whole album just kinda blends together and comes off as generic despite the names involved. It’s also sports a bloated number of tracks. Did we really need 16 songs for THE SCORPION KING? The fact that most of these songs are generic and filler is fitting because that’s exactly what the movie was as well.

Highlights: “I Stand Alone”, “Set It Off (Tweaker Remix)”, “Iron Head”

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY – Sonic Brew

Black Label Society – Sonic Brew (1999, Spitfire Records)

1. “Bored To Tears” … 4:28
2. “The Rose Petalled Garden” … 4:59
3. “Hey You (Batch Of Lies)” … 3:48
4. “Born To Lose” … 4:23
5. “Peddlers Of Death” … 4:33
6. “Mother Mary” … 4:26
7. “Beneath The Tree” … 4:37
8. “Low Down” … 4:36
9. “T.A.Z.” … 1:56
10. “Lost My Better Half” … 4:24
11. “Black Pearl” … 3:27
12. “World Of Trouble” … 5:20
13. “Spoke In The Wheel” … 4:13
14. “The Beginning… At Last” … 4:26
BONUS TRACK
15. “No More Tears” … 6:58

Band:
Zakk Wylde – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Piano
Phil Ondich – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Mike Inez – Bass (“No More Tears”)

Produced by: Ron Albert, Howard Albert and Zakk Wylde

Despite owning four BLS albums, I’ve never been a huge fan of ’em. Out of the four I own, you could probably make one REALLY good album. BLS tends to either be too mellow and acoustic or too sludgy for the most part. BLS songs often alternate between being southern fried Alice In Chains and sludgy Lynyrd Skynyrd. That just doesn’t work for me. Another problem I have with the album is that there’s just too many songs. 1o or 11 tracks is the best length for an album, in my opinion. Once you start going above that, you’re just adding filler.

I bought this album thanks to a lot of praise I was reading online, but it’s nothing special to me outside of a few songs. “Spoke in the Wheel” is a really cool Lynyrd Skynyrd sounding ballad and “No More Tears” is a decent Ozzy cover. Zakk’s voice isn’t all that great on this album, he would get better on the later ones, but it still has some charm.

It’s to my understanding that the album was released in the Fall of 1998 in Japan, but before the U.S. release, they decided to do some remixing of the album. So, we got a new album cover (see above) along with the “bonus track” of “No More Tears”.

Highlights: “Bored to Tears”, “Spoke in the Wheel”, “No More Tears”

www.blacklabelsociety.com
www.myspace.com/blacklabelsociety

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