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Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King [Review]


Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King
2013, Warner Bros. Records

1. “Shepherd of Fire”
2. “Hail to the King”
3. “Doing Time”
4. “This Means War”
5. “Requiem”
6. “Crimson Day”
7. “Heretic”
8. “Coming Home”
9. “Planets”
10. “Acid Rain”

M. Shadows – Lead Vocals
Zacky Vengeance – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Synyster Gates – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Johnny Christ – Bass, Backing Vocals
Arin Ilejay – Drums

Producer: Mike Elizondo

Well, this one seems to be mildly controversial for a number of reasons. First, Avenged Sevenfold continues to evolve their sound. They originally started out as metalcore and slowly began to incorporate more traditional/classic heavy metal influences and now they are writing songs that I would categorize as hard rock. They are still writing heavy metal songs as well but there’s definitely some mainstreaming and a greater sense of melody going on here. Although there are cries of the band selling out, I actually think the the band is taking quite a risk of alienating their long-term fanbase by releasing an album that’s not as heavy or fast as they are known for. The band has addressed the complaints of selling out and having stated that they are simply making the music they want to make.

This is NOT a retro metal album but the band says they were listening to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses and Metallica while writing this album and that’s extremely apparent in the case of Metallica & GNR. There are so many similarities to the point where people are saying A7X is ripping off other bands. Certainly, you can make a strong case for “This Means War” sounding like Metallica’s “Sad But True”. As much as I love A7X, yeah, that song rips off Metallica’s “Sad But True”. Also, I think “Doing Time” sounds very much like Guns N’ Roses. There are a number of Slash-esque solos peppered throughout the album as well.

I am not surprised with the style being played on Hail to the King at all. The Iron Maiden influence was obvious on City of Evil (and is again on “Coming Home”) and with each successive new release they were moving away from metalcore & nu metal and towards a more commercial hard rock/metal sound. The band has said they set out to record a classic rock/metal album with Hail to the King and that they have no interest in returning to their early metalcore sound. They wanted this album to be a modern version of Led Zeppelin’s IV or AC/DC’s Back In Black. They haven’t done that at all (that’s a ludicrous intention to announce to the world) but I do think this is a good album. It just isn’t great. I don’t have a problem with the new straight-forward direction (though I do miss the intensity and frenzy that the band has been known for) but Hail to the King falls short with compared to the band’s 2007 self-titled album and 2010’s Nightmare.

This is not to say there aren’t a number of great tracks here. “Shepherd of Fire” is a fantastic and people want to talk about Metallica but this one reminds me of Megadeth a bit, as does “Heretic”. The lead single, “Hail to the King”, is another new classic from these guys, IMO, but it’s also got a different vibe to it so I can understand why long term A7X fans may not like it.

Like I said, the album is good, but not great and certainly not the classic the band set out to make. I definitely prefer the last two albums over this one.

Highlights: “Shepherd of Fire”, “Hail to the King”, “This Means War”,  “Heretic”, “Coming Home”, “Acid Rain”

Buy the album at

Metal Excess Awards 2012

Despite 2012 being a year where a number of major classic rock acts reappeared with new albums (KISS, Van Halen, Aerosmith), I was slightly disappointed with the rock scene overall. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I’ve listened to less music in 2012 than I have compared to the previous 5 years or so. Whether it’s because I’m getting too old or getting too busy, I didn’t sit down and listen to or write about as much music as I have since I started this blog a few years back. I haven’t been paying attention to the world of hard rock & heavy metal as I should have. Forgive me. Maybe I can make up for it in 2013.
Anyway, here’s my contribution to the millions of “Best of 2012” lists that are already all over the internet!
Best Albums of 2012
As I said, 2012 didn’t seem like an incredibly bright year for rock releases but that doesn’t mean I’m knocking some of the cream of the crop. Rick Springfield (of all people!) delivered a classic album that I just had to give the #1 spot based on how much I played it. My Darkest Days had yet another incredibly strong release. Other than Hess at #7, the rest of the top 10 is made up of veteran artists who know how to get the job done.
1.Rick Springfield – Songs for the End of the World
2. My Darkest Days – Sick and Twisted Affair
3. KISS – Monster
4. Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
5. Aerosmith – Songs from Another Dimension!
6. Adler – Back From The Dead
7. Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage
8. Hess – Living In Yesterday
9. Slash – Apocalyptic Love
10. Dokken – Broken Bones
11. Great White – Elation
12. Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown
13. Jorn – Bring Heavy Rock to the Land
14. Jack Blades – Rock ‘N’ Roll Ride
15. Trixter – New Audio Machine
16. Lita Ford – Living Like a Runaway
17. Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue
18. Hinder – Welcome to the Freak Show
19. Million Dollar Reload – A Sinner’s Saint
20. The Morning After – Legacy
21. Heart – Fanatic
22. Accept – Stalingrad
23. Papa Roach – The Connection
23. Zerokings – Kings of Self Destruction
24. Primal Fear – Unbreakable
25. Fozzy – Sin and Bones

Missed Them in 2012…

These are releases from 2012 that I’ve heard some songs from but I haven’t listened to the entire album yet. I wouldn’t have felt right trying to place them on the list without having heard the complete album. Look for reviews of these albums soon.

* Danko Jones – Rock and Roll is Black and Blue
* Black Country Communion – Afterglow
* L.A. Guns – Hollywood Forever (from what I’ve heard, this probably would’ve made my Top 10)
* Jettblack – Raining Rock
* The Last Vegas – Bad Decisions
* Ian Gillan & Tony Iommi: WhoCares
* Overkill – The Electric Age
* T & N – Slave to the Empire
* Lynch Mob – Sound Mountain Session EP

Best EP/Compilation/Cover/Singles

The “everything else” category.

1. Richard Marx – Christmas Spirit
2. Dio – The Very Beast of Dio, Vol. 2
3. Rod Stewart – Merry Christmas, Baby
4. John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John – This Christmas
5. TSO – Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night) EP
6. Dee Snider – Dee Does Broadway
7. Buckcherry – “Gluttony” [single]
8. Motley Crue – “Sex” [single]
9. Wildstreet – “Easy Does It” [single]

Most Anticipated in 2013

Judas Priest:   Slated for sometime in 2013, this is easily the most anticipated album for me. I’m looking forward to and hoping Priest will deliver a classic sounding metal album and forget about overblown concept records. It’s just a shame KK Downing isn’t along for the ride but I think having some young blood in Priest might actually help push them to be heavier, harder and faster. The same thing happened when Scott Travis joined the band. I’d still love to see Downing come back at some point though. Why not have six members of Judas Priest?

Buckcherry – Confessions (Feb. 19): The lead single “Gluttony” has already been released and I’m really enjoying it. These guys do not disappoint.

My Darkest Days (fall): These guys have released two of my favorite albums from the last few years and are already writing for a follow up to last year’s Sick and Twisted Affair with a new studio album in the fall. I’m hoping the recent departure of guitarist Sal Costa wouldn’t delay the release.

Avenged Sevenfold: No timetable for a new album other than 2013. The band is supposedly going to begin recording this month.

Motley Crue: Another “sometime in 2013″ release. The question is — LP or EP? Vince Neil has mentioned it will be an EP and that’s more in line with what Tommy Lee has stated he’d like for the band to release from now on. Nikki Sixx has been referring to the next Crue release as an “album”, so I guess we’ll see. The single they released in the summer (“Sex”) was decent and seems to fit in with the modern rock turn Crue has taken since 2005.

Black Sabbath: Originally meant for 2012, all kinds of legal issues and drama have slowed this one down. Pretty stupid if they don’t end up pulling Bill Ward in but I’m interested just because I’m a fan of Iommi & Butler. In fact, bring back Ward and get rid of Ozzy and I’d feel even better about this reunion album. My preference is still for Iommi & Butler to form a new band with either Tony Martin (long shot), Jorn Lande, Ian Gillan or Glenn Hughes.

Megadeth: I dunno… Megadeth is one of my all-time favorite bands so I’m always interested but with each release I’m finding less and less to like. Yes, they are getting heavier and faster. Perhaps they are the heaviest and fastest they’ve ever been but Dave seems to be forsaking melody to do it. Seems like he’d rather go off on political rants and conspiracy theories than write memorable songs.

AC/DC: One of those bands that myself & radio have played out to the point where I’m kinda numb to them. But, Black Ice was far better than I ever imagined it could be so I’m definitely interested in new music. This past spring Malcolm Young said a new album would be out in a “year or two”. Here’s hoping it’ll be released in 2013.

Tom Keifer (spring) – I’m a big fan of Cinderella. People have been asking for a new Cinderella album for over 10 years now. I’m not sure why Tom would decide to a solo release instead but I’m not going to complain.

Deep Purple: Ian Gillan said they were planning a new release. Hopefully they follow through!

Anthrax: I think it was Joey Belladonna who stated in interview this past summer than they wanted to release something new in 2013.

Hardcore Superstar – C’mon Take On Me (March 1)

Black Veil Brides – Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones (January 8): I surprisingly enjoyed their last album. Looking forward to hearing whether they’ve kept the same sound or going even more glam/power metal than before.

Crashdiet – The Savage Playground (late January)

Bon Jovi – What About Now (March 26): I’m not a fan of the lead single, “Because We Can”. I actually haven’t been a fan of the last few albums either but I was optimistic because I liked all four new songs they released with the deluxe version of their latest greatest hits compilation. I can’t help but get excited when a new Bon Jovi album is coming out but I would not be surprised if this album was only good for a ballad or two.

Fozzy – Sin and Bones [Review]

Fozzy – Sin and Bones
2012, Century Media Records

1. “Spider In My Mouth”
2. “Sandpaper”
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

Additional Musicians:
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”

Buy the album at

The Metal Excess Awards: 2010 Edition

I’m really surprised by how many albums I enjoyed this year. I have a pitiful memory so I had to go back through my blog to remind myself what came out this year but I was floored when my Top 10 list was changed to a Top 20 list, then to a Top 30 list! I knocked it back down to a Top 25 list to make it seem a tiny bit more exclusive.

If you haven’t checked out any of these 25 albums, I wholeheartedly recommend you do so. 2010 was an amazing year for rock & metal, much MUCH better than 2009. I don’t see how 2011 can compete!

I’ll keep it short and sweet with my awards. As always, check the links for full reviews.

Best Albums of 2010

1. Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare
2. Buckcherry – All Night Long
3. Scorpions – Sting in the Tail
4. Halford – Made of Metal
5. Slash – s/t
6. Black Country Communion – s/t
7. Avantasia – Angel of Babylon
8. Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony
9. Accept – Blood of the Nations
10. Hinder – All American Nightmare
11. Jettblack – Get Your Hands Dirty
12. Reckless Love – s/t
13. Bad City – Welcome to the Wasteland
14. Stone Temple Pilots – s/t
15. Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier
16. Krokus – Hoodoo
17. Helloween – 7 Sinners
18. Sister Sin – True Sound of the Underground
19. My Darkest Days – s/t
20. Stereoside – s/t
21. Y&T – Facemelter
22. Danko Jones – Below The Belt
23. Grave Digger – The Clans Will Rise Again
24. Jon Oliva’s Pain – Festival
25. Ratt – Infestation

Top Cover Albums

Seems like every year a few established artists like to cover a few *other* established artists, not to mention all those various tribute albums that small labels will slap together. Well, here’s my official ranking of the three cover albums I bothered to listen to this year. Luckily, all three albums were good fun and I think they all deserve another mention.

1. Jorn – Dio
2. Vince Neil – Tattoos & Tequila
3. Joe Elliott’s Down ‘N’ Outz – My ReGeneration Vol. 1

Top Live Albums

Again, I don’t buy a lot of live albums, but here’s how I rank what I listened to this year.

1. Dio – Dio at Donington UK: Live 1983 & 1987
2. Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven & Hell – Live In Europe
3. Megadeth – Rust In Peace Live
4. The Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert: Live in Tokyo

Top EPs

1. Razorwyre – Coming Out
2. Skull Fist – Heavier Than Metal
3. DesDemon – The Awakening

Most Disappointing Albums

1. Ratt – Infestation
The album was good, don’t get me wrong. It landed at #25 on my Best Of list for Dio’s sake! But… most of the songs had trouble living up to the promise of “Eat Me Up Alive” and “Best Of Me”.

2. Armored Saint – La Raza
A bland album from a band that has done so much better. They seemed to be going through the motions (to which John Bush has basically admitted in regards to himself). Symbol of Salvation this ain’t.

3. White Wizzard – Over The Top
The High Speed GTO EP garnered this group a lot of hype and buzz. We all fell for it, I know reviews for this album have been positive and it’s not bad but I expected more. Hopefully a second album will get these guys where they need to be.

4. Raven – Walk Through Fire
The terrible cover art should’ve tipped me off that this album was nothing special.


Check out these other sites for even more lists and year-end awards:

All Metal Resource —

Bring Back Glam —

Hair Metal Mansion —

Hard Rock Hideout —

Hard Rock Nights —

Heavy Metal Addiction —

Heavy Metal Time Machine —

Imagine Echoes —

Layla’s Classic Rock —

The Metal Minute —

Metal Odyssey —

The Ripple Effect —


Avenged Sevenfold – Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough

Avenged Sevenfold – Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough (2008, Warner Bros. Records)

Live in the LBC DVD:
1. “Critical Acclaim”
2. “Second Heartbeat”
3. “Afterlife”
4. “Beast and the Harlot”
5. “Scream”
6. “Seize the Day”
7. “Walk” (abridged) (Pantera cover)
8. “Bat Country”
9. “Almost Easy”
10. “Gunslinger”
11. “Unholy Confessions”
12. “A Little Piece of Heaven”

Diamonds in the Rough CD:
1. “Demons” … 6:17
2. “Girl I Know” … 4:26
3. “Crossroads” … 4:33
4. “Flash of the Blade” … 4:05
5. “Until the End” … 4:46
6. “Tension” … 4:51
7. “Walk” … 5:24
8. “The Fight” … 4:09
9. “Dancing Dead” … 5:54
10. “Almost Easy” (CLA Mix) … 3:57
11. “Afterlife” (Alternate version) … 5:55

M. Shadows – Lead Vocals
Synyster Gates – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Zacky Vengeance – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Johnny Christ – Bass, Backing Vocals
The Rev – Drums, Backing Vocals

Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough is a DVD/CD release. The DVD is from a Long Beach, California concert at the Long Beach Arena that took place in April 2008 and the CD is comprised of B-sides, covers and unreleased songs. Honestly, I have not watched the DVD. I’m much more into listening to the music rather than sitting down and watching a concert. If I’m gonna watch a concert, I want to be there in person! Having seen the band live in 2009, I’m sure the performance here is just as good as the show I was at but that’s not why I bought this album. I’m sure I’ll sit down and watch it some day.

I bought the album (used and online) strictly for the CD since I’ve become a huge fan of the since since 2009. I wanted to hear these rarities and I wasn’t disappointed. From what I’ve read, many of these songs were leftovers from the group’s 2007 self-titled album though I’m not sure which ones but a few are easy to pick out like “Demons”, “Until The End” and “Dancing Dead”. Either of these could’ve easily made the album and I’m assuming the only reason they didn’t make the cut is because they didn’t want the album to seem bloated. “Dancing Dead” has actually become one of my favorite A7X songs. It’s crazy to think this one didn’t make it to an album. I’m pretty sure the covers of Iron Maiden’s “Flash of the Blade” and Pantera’s “Walk” had previously appeared on tribute albums.

Sometimes it seems like I’m one of the few classic-mind rock/metal fans that actually gets A7X. I’m not sure why that is. The classic metal influence on these guys is obvious, they just put a new and modern twist on it. I think it’s really cool these guys have been able to become one of the biggest metal bands while their music holds some of that old school metal sound.

Odds ‘n’ sods compilations like these are sometimes hit-or-miss. It’s the nature of the beast when you’re dealing with B-sides and unreleased songs but had the band thrown this out and said “hey, here’s our new studio album”, I still would’ve thought it to be great. This is how good these songs are. I’m certainly not saying a collection of B-sides and covers is equal to or better than Avenged Sevenfold or Nightmare but this is still a very good album that should please anyone who likes the band.

Highlights: “Demons”, “Girl I Know”, “Flash Of The Blade”, “Until The End”, “Tension”, “Dancing Dead”


Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare (2010, Warner Bros. Records)

1. “Nightmare” … 6:14
2. “Welcome to the Family” …  4:06
3. “Danger Line” … 5:28
4. “Buried Alive” … 6:44
5. “Natural Born Killer” … 5:15
6. “So Far Away” … 5:27
7. “God Hates Us” … 5:19
8. “Victim” … 7:30
9. “Tonight the World Dies” … 4:41
10. “Fiction” … 5:13
11. “Save Me” … 10:56

M. Shadows – Lead Vocals
Synyster Gates – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Zacky Vengeance – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Johnny Christ – Bass
The Rev – Drums, Lead Vocals (“Fiction”)

Additional musicians:
Mike Portnoy – Drums
Brian Haner, Sr. – Guitar
Sharlotte Gibson – backing vocals
Jessi Collins – Backing Vocals
David Palmer – Piano, Keyboards
Stewart Cole – Trumpet
Mike Elizondo – Keyboards

Producer: Mike Elizondo

Another 2010 release that I had great anticipation for! I was never big fan of City of Evil, other than loving the song “Bat Country”. I think at the time Avenged Sevenfold was just too new and too different to me to really understand them and I decided I wasn’t a “fan”. Years later, I gave their 2007 self-titled release a try when I saw it on sale in late ’08. AMAZING ALBUM! One of my favorites from the past decade and I know Nightmare had quite a task ahead of it if it was even going to equal their 2007 album. I’m pleased to say I think it has!

A7X’s music and lyrics have always been dark, angry and borderline emo with a twisted sense of humor. For the most part, the twisted lyrics are gone (other than the usual about death and what not) and all that’s left is a much more somber and melodic album than anything they’ve done before. There’s a real melancholy atmosphere to the whole album, the band doesn’t seem to be going as heavy and as fast as they have in the past (I think Synyster Gates sounds particularly restrained), though their are exceptions like “Nightmare” and “God Hates Us”.

The songs aren’t as in your face and didn’t immediately grab me like songs off the last album did. It took me 2 or 3 spins to really start enjoying the whole album. I’m not sure if it was a calculated move to go this moodier route or if Nightmare is a band captured at less than 100%. And that’s completely understandable given the The Rev passed away during production of this album. I know he recorded some tracks and then Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy came in to finish the album. From my understanding, most of the lyrics were written after his death and many of them deal with the band’s loss.

On a creepy note, The Rev wrote the song “Fiction” by himself and the working title of it was “Death”. He also performs some lead vocals on it and the lyrics make the whole thing an odd affair.

As for the rest of the album, the hooks just keep on coming. Every track on here is really a winner except for “God Hates Us”. It’s okay, but it’s the band going back to their metalcore roots. A sound I really don’t care for. If you like Avenged Sevenfold, you’ll like this album. If you’re still one of those people that can’t accept the blending of modern and classic metal, this album isn’t going to change your mind even if the band seems to be spreading their wings a bit more (“Tonight the World Dies” sounds like a somber mid’-90s Stone Temple Pilots tune!).

As always, the lyrics are a real treat. I love the dark imagery A7X uses when talking about love gone wrong and things that go bump in the night. I can relate to a lot of it and for this album their words have added weight.

It took me forever to get this CD in the mail thanks to screw ups by USPS and but it was totally worth the wait and is one of the year’s best releases as far as I’m concerned!

Highlights: “Nightmare”, “Buried Alive”, “Natural Born Killer”, “So Far Away”, “Fiction”, “Tonight the World Dies”, “Save Me”

SLASH – Slash

Slash (2010, EMI Label Services/Dik Hayd Records)

1. “Ghost” … 3:34
2. “Crucify the Dead” … 4:04
3. “Beautiful Dangerous” … 4:35
4. “Back from Cali” … 3:35
5. “Promise” … 4:41
6. “By the Sword” … 4:50
7. “Gotten” … 5:05
8. “Doctor Alibi” … 3:07
9. “Watch This Dave” … 3:46
10. “I Hold On” … 4:10
11. “Nothing to Say” … 5:27
12. “Starlight” … 5:35
13. “Saint is a Sinner Too” … 3:28
14. “We’re All Gonna Die” … 4:30

Slash – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass (Track 9)
Lemmy Kilmister – Vocals, Bass (Track 8 )
Chris Chaney – Bass (Tracks 1-8, 10-14)
Dave Grohl – Drums (Track 9)
Josh Freese – Drums (Tracks 1-8, 10, 11, 13, 14)
Leonard Castro – Percussion (Tracks 1, 3-7, 10, 14)
Izzy Stradlin – Guitar (Track 1)
Eric Valentine – Piano, Keyboards
Ian Astbury – Vocals (Track 1)
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals (Track 2)
Fergie – Vocals (Track 3)
Myles Kennedy – Vocals (Tracks 4 & 12)
Chris Cornell – Vocals (Track 5)
Andrew Stockdale – Vocals (Track 6)
Adam Levine – Vocals (Track 7)
Kid Rock – Vocals (Track 10)
M. Shadows – Vocals (Track 11)
Rocco DeLuca – Vocals (Track 12)
Iggy Pop – Vocals (Track 13)

Producer: Eric Valentine

Well, it’s finally here: “Slash & Friends” (the original working title for this project). The few reviews I’ve read are mixed. Some “fans” were crying out that it sucked and Slash had sold-out before it was even released and now that it has been released typically those same “fans” are still saying it sucks and Slash is a sell out. Then you have Classic Rock magazine, who has claimed it’s the first great rock album of the decade. This might sound like mighty fine praise to some but given that the album was released in April 2010 the statement seems less impressive and sounds more like hyperbole to help promote an album they have a vested interest in (the album was a free UK-exclusive gift with a special Slash-themed issue of Classic Rock).

For my money ($7.99 + free shipping from!), this is indeed a great album and I don’t really get the “sell out” criticisms. Why is he a sell out? Because a GIRL sings on this album? Fergie has a great voice for rock ‘n’ roll and she proves it on “Beautiful Dangerous”. If anything, I can see maybe cries of selling out coming from Maroon 5’s Adam Levine singing “Gotten”. It’s a decent song but if I didn’t know better, I’d say it was a Maroon 5 song. Not much rock to it at all other than the solo. Then again, Slash has always flirted with pop stars. He’s a guy that doesn’t like to pigeon hole himself and goes to play with whoever wherever he thinks he’ll have fun. Nothing wrong with that. He’s not a sellout, he’s just not close-minded.

For the most part, it seems like every song was written with that song’s particular singer in mind. I know Slash already had ideas for songs before enlisting the troops but I’m also sure the songs were tailored to suit the vocalists. “Ghost” sounds like The Cult, “Crucify the Dead” sounds like the best Ozzy song in the last decade at least, “Promise” sounds like something Chris Cornell would have done in Audioslave, “Nothing to Say” could have been on Avenged Sevenfold’s last album and so on and so on. In a way, this is somewhat disappointing for those that were looking forward to a bluesier guitar hero effort or for something similar to Guns N’ Roses from Slash. There is NOTHING here that brings to mind anything GNR has done. I’m okay with that but maybe some backlash stems from people wanting Slash to have delivered something more akin to the original GNR since Axl has moved the hired Guns into heavier more industrial terrain.

Slash claims this is a rock album and for the most part he’s right but songs like “Gotten” and “Saint is a Sinner Too” are pure pop that I can’t imagine Slash would be playing without the chosen vocalists. I was worried myself when I saw the guest list for this album. The participants just seem so over the place I thought it would all be a big mess. Definitely not the case and there’s a surprisingly low amount of filler with the two Myles Kennedy songs “Back from Cali” and “Starlight” being the only ones that really fall short with me. Kennedy is from the band Alter Bridge and he’s the only singer that has two songs and I’m sure it’s because he’s the singer for Slash’s touring band while promoting this album.

Everything else is decent at the very least while “Nothing to Say” featuring Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows and the album’s lead “By the Sword” featuring Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale are my favorites. “By the Sword” has a cool Led Zeppelin/Pink Floyd classic hard rock sound to it.

Despite Slash’s insistence that this is a rock album, there’s a bit of genre jumping and he dips his feet (fret?) into the pop realm but it’s only done so in order to fit the singers. Even though this is a self-titled affair, Slash really isn’t the star here. There’s some good solos on this disc but this album isn’t built around them. It’s all about the songs as a whole and Slash (and friends) has delivered a very satisfying release that is much better than anything he did the first time he went “solo” with Slash’s Snakepit.

I do have two disappointments though: Dave Grohl drums on the album but does not sing (he apparently has a thing against singing on other peoples’ albums) and the U.S. version of this album does not feature “Baby Can’t Drive” featuring Alice Cooper and The Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger. It’s a pretty cool song so what gives ?!

Highlights: “Ghost”, “Crucify the Dead”, “Beautiful Dangerous”, “By the Sword”, “Watch This Dave”, “Nothing to Say”

Buy it at
Buy it at CD Universe

The Best Albums of the 2000s

Welcome to 2010!

I’m going to start the year off with yet another list except I won’t be limiting myself to “Top 10” or “Top 20” or whatever. I’ll be going chronologically, year by year (I didn’t put the albums in any specific order though) and if I thought it was a really good album, I’ll list it regardless of whether one year has four albums listed and another year only has two.

Looking back, the whole decade was pretty good for this rock/metal fan. The scene suffered greatly during the ’90s, but by 2000, the genre was turning the corner and I think most people had grown tired of depressed drug addicts and angry no-talent white rappers playing rock music. The legends were laying low during the ’90s and the next decade was made up of many comebacks, but that’s not to discount many newer acts who stepped up and played a vital role in rock ‘n’ roll.

Marvelous 3 – ReadySexGo
Halford – Resurrection
Bon Jovi – Crush
Cold – 13 Ways to Bleed on Stage
The Union Underground – …An Education in Rebellion
Alice Cooper – Brutal Planet

Puddle of Mudd – Come Clean
Megadeth – The World Needs a Hero
Alice Cooper – Dragontown
Lit – Atomic

Dio – Killing the Dragon
Butch Walker – Left of Self-Centered
Bon Jovi – Bounce
Sentenced – The Cold White Light
L.A. Guns – Waking the Dead

Anthrax – We’ve Come For You All
Alice Cooper – The Eyes of Alice Cooper
Dream Evil – Evilized

Scorpions – Unbreakable
Megadeth – The System Has Failed
Tesla – Into the Now
Dream Evil – The Book of Heavy Metal
Brides of Destruction – Here Come the Brides

Judas Priest – Angel of Retribution
Alice Cooper – Dirty Diamonds

Edguy – Rocket Ride
Paul Stanley – Live to Win

Avenged Sevenfold – Avenged Sevenfold
Sebastian Bach – Angel Down
Scorpions – Humanity: Hour I

Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy
Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctus
Whitesnake – Good to Be Bad

KISS – Sonic Boom
Steel Panther – Feel the Steel’s AX7 Flyaway Contest

Wanna go see Avenged Sevenfold in Vegas? Here’s your chance! Hurry up and enter– contest ends April 6th!


Buckcherry/Avenged Sevenfold/Papa Roach/Saving Abel (02/21/09, Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Michigan)

This past Saturday night I had the pleasure of getting to see a good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll show in Battle Creek. We (my fiancee and I) left here (Lansing) at about 4PM, even though the show didn’t start until 6:30, just to make sure we know where we were going and find our seats… which turned out to be general admission.

After a long wait in a sloooow moving line just to get into the actual arena, I was surprised by how small and kinda of old it was. Holds about 8,500 people and the show was reported to be a sell-out. Of course, the woman had to stop off and get her Papa Roach shirt. Papa Roach being the whole reason we went to this show. My original concert pick was Motley Crue/Hinder/Theory of a Deadman/The Last Vegas, which took place earlier in the month in Grand Rapids. It would’ve been our 3rd time seeing the Crue, but instead she talked me into seeing seeing Buckcherry and Papa Roach for a 2nd time (3rd for her when it comes to Papa Roach).

So anyway, it was a fun show. Here’s the breakdown:

Saving Abel

I don’t know much about this band. Despite my girl owning the CD, I’ve never got around to listening to it, though I was very familiar with “Addicted” from radio and my girl’s ring tone. Everyone was very fired up as soon as they lights went down and they heard the band start to play, but I get the feeling most people were just happy to finally hear music and didn’t so much about Saving Abel in particular. I guess they’re kind of a Nickelback “post grunge” rock band. Not really my thing. I pretty much just wanted them to play “Addicted” then get the heck off the stage.

I had more fun watching one of the guitarists, who was really into the whole show and going all out with mannerisms while playing like he was some heavy metal guitar player. Not knocking it, I thought it was fun.

Not exactly sure of the setlist, since I’m not familiar with their album, but I found this list online and it sounds right:

“In God’s Eyes”
“New Tattoo”
“Drowning (Face Down)”
“18 Days”
“Beautiful You”

Papa Roach

The crowd favorite of the whole show was, by far, Papa Roach. Kinda makes me wonder how they get such low billing when touring with other bands (they were 3rd on the bill for Crue Fest too). Jacoby Shaddix’s energy is off the charts, just like it was at Crue Fest in Clarkston, MI. He ran into the crowd to sing “Lifeline”, pretty cool stuff. I see the band keeps going in a poppier direction with “Lifeline”. Not a fan of the other new song, “Hollywood Whore”. Just seems cliche at this point to bash brainless celebrity bimbos like Britney and Paris.


“Between Angels & Insects”
“…to Be Loved”
“Getting Away with Murder”
“Time Is Running Out”
“Hollywood Whore”
“Last Resort”

Avenged Sevenfold

Judging by reaction, A7X were the 2nd biggest band of the night. I think Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry are alternating on who is closing the shows. I’ve been missing the boat on Avenged Sevenfold, despite owning City of Evil. I bought 2007’s self-titled release in preparation for this show and it’s a good thing I did, they covered six songs from that album. I loved it. I was really hoping they would play “A Little Piece of Heaven”, which is my favorite song from their last album. I’m hearing they do it as an encore when they close the shows.

It was amazing to hear & see the band play. Great musicians and Synyster Gates has quickly become one of my favorite guitarists.


“Critical Acclaim”
“Beast and the Harlot”
“Dear God”
Synyster Gates solo
“Bat Country”
“Unholy Confessions”
“Almost Easy”


I really enjoy this band because they’re keeping the 80s sleaze factor intact and they delivered a career best (and one of my favorite albums from 2008) with Black Butterfly, but unfortunately, I think they turn off a lot of the “modern” metal/rock fans for the very reason that they are “old school” in sound. Most of the crowd seemed way more into Papa Roach & Avenged Sevenfold in terms of reaction and t-shirts being worn. Plus, I think by this point, there had been so much screaming, yelling and moshing (!!!) going on, the crowd was getting drained.

Still, it’s a blast watching guitarist Keith Nelson (who was dressed like a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Brian Johnson) and singer Josh Todd work the stage. Todd’s movements bring to mind Axl Rose, Steven Tyler, and Mick Jagger.

Unfortunately, we actually had to cut out early from their set (at least we got to beat all of the traffic, though we had to drive an hour back home through a terrible snowstorm), but we were able to see most of it.

The set list, obviously, I’m not totally sure of but I know they played the songs, even if I can’t remember the order:

“Tired of You”
“Broken Glass”
“Next 2 You”
“Rescue Me”
“Too Drunk…”
“Lit Up”
“Talk to Me”

I’m sure they finished up with “Sorry” and “Crazy Bitch”.

Overall, this was a great show. Saving Abel was the only downer. I just don’t think they fit in with these other bands. Papa Roach had tons of energy that the crowd matched, Avenged Sevenfold put on an excellent live show and are great musicians and Buckcherry brought the sleaze, attitude & swagger. What more could you ask for?

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