Blog Archives

Various Artists – Live and Heavy [Review]

5150332
Various Artists – Live and Heavy
1981, NEMS Records

1. Deep Purple – “Smoke on the Water”
2. Nazareth – “Razamanaz”
3. Motorhead – “White Line Fever”
4. Def Leppard – “Rocks Off”
5. Rainbow – “All Night Long”
6. Status Quo – “Roll Over Lay Down”
7. Whitesnake – “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”
8. UFO – “Lights Out in London”
9. Gillan – “Unchain Your Brain”
10. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”

What a brutal album cover that totally screams “heavy metal”. I picked this one up on vinyl in great condition for only $1 at a local flea market annex shop called Fort Walton Beach Vintage Records. Live and Heavy is a compilation put out by the British label NEMS that, unsurprisingly, features live tracks by UK rock bands. Had this been released a year or two later, I’m sure it would’ve been full of NWOBHM bands but instead we get bands that are more closely associated with ’70s hard rock and heavy metal.

This compilation has a killer line-up: Gillan-era Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, UFO (“Lights Out” is titled “Lights Out in London” on this release), Ozzy-era Black Sabbath, Motorhead… some of the very best heavy rock bands England has to offer. Even Def Leppard makes an appearance. Pretty good deal for such a new and young band (at the time) to get a track compiled with a number of other legendary bands.

Had this been a compilation of studio tracks, I probably would’ve passed. I’m not big on live album but for a collection of live cuts from these specific bands, I figured it was worth a buck.

The inner sleeve lists the various dates and venues these tracks were recorded. Always good to have that info. I was afraid this was going to be a super low-budget compilation that wouldn’t even bother.

This is a good pick-up for fans of hard rock from the 1970s and early 1980s.

Highlights: “Smoke on the Water”, “All Night Long”, “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”, “Lights Out in London”

Advertisements

Dio – Snapshot [Review]

91S6hi7yxZL._SL1500_

Dio – Snapshot
2013, Niji Entertainment/RED Distribution

1. Holy Diver (live)
2. Push
3. Fever Dreams
4. We Rock (live)
5. Long Live Rock N’ Roll (live)
6. Stargazer (live)
7. Heaven and Hell (live)
8. Children of the Sea (live)
9. Eat Your Heart Out (live)
10. Killing the Dragon

Stumbled across this album as it was a generated recommendation for me on a website… I hadn’t heard anything about it but Wendy Dio’s Niji Entertainment is listed as the label for it so I was curious as to what it was and why it seems like there’s been zero press on it.

Did some digging around and turns out that Snapshot is going to be an entire line of budget compilations for artists whose music was distributed through RED Distribution at one time or another. For example, Anthrax will be getting their own Snapshot release. These compilations seem to rely on newer tracks (from albums that RED had distributed) and live cuts of classic tracks. As the cover says, each Snapshot release comes with 10 tracks and four “snapshots” of the artist.

Personally, I don’t care for budget compilations. I think if you’re going to package someone’s music as a “best of” or “greatest hits” then you need to give it the proper care and respect in terms of packaging and song selection. That said, I also understand a casual fan is probably much more likely to pick up a $7 compilation at Walmart rather than purchase a $30 two-disc set from a music store or Amazon.com.

For Dio’s entry into this series, there are 7 live tracks and 3 studio cuts. “Fever Dreams” is from Magica while “Push” & “Killing the Dragon” are from Killing the Dragon. They are good tracks and I would agree that they are highlights from the second half of Dio’s career.

Most of the live tracks are a ripoff. “Stargazer” is only 1 min 42 sec and “Children of the Sea” is 1 min 24 sec.  “Stargazer” is completely cut off just as it’s starting and “Children of the Sea” doesn’t even start at the beginning before it randomly stops. “Heaven and Hell” is pitifully reduced to 3 min 18 sec with another abrupt ending.

I have no clue when and where these live songs were done. If I ever find out, I’ll post the information in this review. “Holy Diver” sounds like a soundcheck to me, but I’m sure most of these songs are taken straight from Dio’s previously released live albums though “Eat Your Heart Out” (Has this one ever appeared on a live release before?) has a poorer sound quality than the rest of the songs.

Even by budget standards, this is an awful compilation. I understand using the work-around of including a few classics by making them live versions but why cut them so pitifully short? I’d rather they just included another late-era Dio studio track than do that.

This album costs so little to buy because it obviously cost so little to produce. It’s cheap. It’s a disgrace to the memory of Ronnie James and Wendy should be ashamed of herself for allowing this misrepresentation to exist. She needs to better protect Ronnie’s memory and work. I have a feeling things are only going to get worse though.

Buy the album at Amazon.com (if you’re a glutton for punishment)

Dio – Finding The Sacred Heart: Live In Philly 1986 [Review]

51r8mP4notL

Dio – Finding The Sacred Heart: Live In Philly 1986
2013, Eagle Rock Entertainment/Niji Productions

Disc 1
1. Draco Ignis
2. King of Rock and Roll
3. Like the Beat of a Heart
4. Don’t Talk to Strangers
5. Hungry for Heaven
6. Medley: The Last in Line/Children of the Sea/Holy Diver
7. Drum Solo
8. Heaven and Hell
9. Keyboard Solo
10. Guitar Solo

Disc 2
1. Sacred Heart
2. Medley: Rock ‘n’ Roll Children/Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll/Man on the Silver Mountain
3. Time to Burn
4. Stand Up and Shout
5. Rainbow in the Dark
6. We Rock

Band:
Ronnie James Dio – Vocals
Craig Goldy – Guitar
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums
Claude Schnell – Keyboards

Finding The Sacred Heart: Live In Philly 1986 is Dio’s 5th live album and the second to be released posthumously. As becoming common with live releases (and I think this is a cool idea), not only does is this 1986 concert at the Philadelphia Spectrum presented in audio form but it is also available on DVD and Blu-ray. Truth be told, this show was released on VHS and DVD years ago but those versions were edited down to 60 minutes. Here, you get the entire concert. This is the first time the concert has ever been released as an album.

I watched the DVD a few years ago. It’s quite an enjoyable show and features Dio at the peak of his powers and flashy theatrics. Lasers, smoke and Dio fighting Denzil the dragon… what more could you want ?! Plus, I’ve always had a really soft spot for the Sacred Heart album, which the band was touring behind at the time. That’s probably my favorite disc from this band.

This is a great live performance. Most of the hits you’d want to hear from Dio are presented: “Rainbow in the Dark”, “We Rock”, “Sacred Heart”, “Heaven and Hell” and then there are three medleys to satiate the Black Sabbath and Rainbow fans even more.

Finding The Sacred Heart catches Dio going through a hair metal phase but it’s still a great release and features one of the better line-ups for the band. Well worth seeking out, as is this show in video form.

Highlights: “King of Rock and Roll”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers”, “The Last In Line/Children of the Sea/Holy Diver”, “Sacred Heart”, “Stand Up and Shout”, “We Rock”

http://www.ronniejamesdio.com
http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio

Buy the Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy the CD at Amazon.com

Black Sabbath – 13 [Review]

Black Sabbath – 13 [Best Buy Deluxe Edition]
2013, Republic Records

Disc 1
1. “End of the Beginning” 8:05
2. “God Is Dead?” 8:52
3. “Loner” 4:59
4. “Zeitgeist” 4:37
5. “Age of Reason” 7:01
6. “Live Forever” 4:46
7. “Damaged Soul” 7:51
8. “Dear Father”

Disc 2
1. “Methademic” 5:57
2. “Peace of Mind” 3:40
3. “Pariah” 5:34
4. “Naïveté in Black”

Band:
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals, Harmonica
Tony Iommi – Guitar
Geezer Butler – Bass

Additional Musicians:
Brad Wilk – Drums

Produced by Rick Rubin

I won’t get into all of the stats and figures but it’s been a long time since these guys have played on an album together as Black Sabbath. It’s just a shame they couldn’t work out something with Bill Ward in order to do a TRUE reunion album/tour.

Still, this is a very important time in the band’s history. Though I’m not an Ozzy fan, I can still agree that this is a monumental occasion, so I’ll give my thoughts track-by-track:

  • “End of the Beginning” – This one starts off like something from The Devil You Know with a heavy, slow and doomy vibe. It picks up later in the song but at 8 minutes, it’s not how I would’ve chosen to kick off the album.
  • “God Is Dead?” – I can’t hear some of the guitar parts in this song without thinking of Weezer’s “Undone – The Sweater Song”. I can’t be the only one that hears that, can I? We’re now only two tracks into the album but sitting 17 minutes! Again, I question the track listing. Decent song but like most of the world, my socks weren’t knocked off when I heard this.
  • “Loner” – Finally the speed is picking up a bit and look — this song is only 5 minutes long! We even get an “Alright now!” from Ozzy.
  • “Zeitgeist” – Essentially this is “Planet Caravan, Part II”. If you had told me this was either a Pink Floyd song or recorded by Sabbath in the mid-70s, I’d believe you. It’s a good song but I’m a bit disappointed they basically tried to recreate something they’d previously written. Seems a bit lazy to me. But hey, they aren’t the first band to ever do that.
  • “Age of Reason” – Love the drums here (sorry, Bill!). One of the first songs from this album that grabbed me immediately.
  • “Live Forever” – Another much-need slightly more up-tempo number.
  • “Damaged Soul” – Ugh. Another 8 minute track. Fuzzy 1970s stoner vibe. Another track that really sounds like something the band recorded “back in the day”.
  • “Dear Father” – Probably feeling this song the least of all on the album.

That finishes up the proper album, now onto the deluxe edition tracks:

  • “Methademic” – Shame this one was relegated to being on the deluxe edition!
  • “Peace of Mind” – I know ’70s Sabbath when I hear it. This is it.
  • “Pariah” – Another good rocker. Has a cool melodic opening.
  • “Naïveté in Black” – Exclusive to the Best Buy edition of the deluxe album. The fastest song out of both discs. Why didn’t they write more songs like these? Kinda reminds me of modern day Metallica.

Disc 2 is very strong. The songs are a bit faster and much shorter. Disc 1 has its moments but it’s just too slow and time-consuming for its own good. Surely we could’ve swapped out “God Is Dead?”, “Damaged Soul”, and/or “Dear Father” for any of these four tracks! It’s a strange choice for them to include so many slow and plodding 7-9 minute epics on the album when they had some very good 4-5 minute rockers being released as bonus content.

13 is going over well with the Ozzy fans and I can see why. It’s definitely got that old-school Sabbath vibe to it that should be pleasing to those that prefer the band’s Ozzy years. Being someone who isn’t an Ozzy fan, I can admit that this is certainly a good album, possibly will make my Top 10 for the year, but I don’t think it’s great and it’s probably not something I’ll ever listen to much again. I can’t imagine thinking, “Man, I really need to hear that 9 minute song Black Sabbath wrote back in 2013!”

Highlights: “The End of the Beginning”, “Loner”, “Zeitgeist”, “Age of Reason”, “Live Forever”, “Methademic”, “Peace of Mind”, “Pariah”, “Naïveté in Black”

http://www.blacksabbath.com
http://www.facebook.com/BlackSabbath

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Jorn – Symphonic [Review]

JORN Symph COVER

Jorn – Symphonic
2013, Frontiers Records

1. I Came To Rock
2. Rock And Roll Children
3. The World I See
4. Burn Your Flame
5. Man Of The Dark
6. My Road
7. Time To Be King
8. Black Morning
9. Like Stone In Water
10. Vision Eyes
11. War Of The World
12. Behind The Clown
13. A Thousand Cuts
14. The Mob Rules

Symphonic is a collection of Jorn’s songs, handpicked by Jorn Lande himself, that have been given a remix and orchestral makeover. Even dating back to when Metallica did it, adding orchestral arrangements on top of hard rock/heavy metal is a hit-or-miss affair. It’s hard to make a song work with an orchestra when they weren’t written with that in mind. Still, it can work depending on the song and as I mentioned, a number of these songs were actually remixed to better suit the orchestra element.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no expert when it comes to Jorn Lande or the various projects he’s been a part of. It’s only in the last few years I’ve begun to listen to his music but I do recognize some of the songs here like “A Thousand Cuts”, “Time To Be King”, “The World I See”, “Black Morning” and his Dio/Black Sabbath covers.

It’s no surprise that the more powerful numbers like “A Thousand Cuts”, “Time To Be King” and “The Mob Rules” are my favorite out of this bunch. There’s no tampering with those songs to make way for an orchestra. Get in where you can fit in. Mileage will vary on this album. I guess it really all comes down to ‘How much do you like symphonic rock?” Symphony isn’t a necessary release, there’s not one new song in the bunch, but it’s fine for what it is. It’s a satisfying placeholder until the next Jorn album comes along (which shouldn’t be long given this guy’s hectic schedule).

Highlights: “Rock And Roll Children”, “The World I See”, “My Road”, “Time To Be King”, “Black Morning”, “A Thousand Cuts”, “The Mob Rules”

http://www.facebook.com/OFFICIALJORN
http://www.jornlande.com/

Buy the album at Amazon.com

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.

Dio – The Very Beast of Dio Vol. 2 [Review]

Dio – The Very Beast Of Vol. 2
(2012, Niji Entertainment)

1. Killing the Dragon
2. Push
3. The Eyes
4. Along Comes a Spider
5. Better in the Dark
6. Fever Dreams
7. Black
8. Feed My Head
9. Shivers
10. Hunter of the Heart (live)
11. One More for the Road
12. Lord of the Last Day
13. Electra
14. As Long as It’s Not About Love
15. This Is Your Life
16. Metal Will Never Die
17. The Prisoner of Paradise

Dio is no stranger to compilation albums (I’ve already reviewed one of them before). According to Wiki, this is the 12th (!!!) Dio compilation. The Very Beast of Dio Vol. 2 I believe is the first to focus exclusively on Dio’s career post-1994. Predictably, it picks up where Warner Bros/Rhino Records’ The Very Beast of Dio left off by representing material from Dio’s last four studio albums: Angry Machines (1996), Magica (2000), Killing the Dragon (2002) and Master of the Moon (2004). Inferno: The Last In Live (1999) is also represented with a live version of the Angry Machines song “Hunter of the Heart” and Dio’s last recorded song, “Metal Will Never”, from cousin David “Rock” Feinstein’s Bitten By the Beast is here as well.

The last three Dio albums were all solid releases, Killing the Dragon particularly. The track list here is very well done though I would’ve included “Guilty”, “Cold Feet” and “Scream” (all from Killing the Dragon). But the real hook here isn’t that the final Dio albums are getting their own compilation. Nope. What’s notable about this release is the inclusion of the song “Electra”, an epic that was originally released on the extremely limited edition Tournado box set and was later meant to be included on Magica II (Ronnie had planned a Magica trilogy). It’s a classic slow evil Dio song and it’s great that it’s finally available to a larger market. That’s really the main reason to get this album if you’re already a hardcore Dio fan.

The other song to entice hardcore fans is the inclusion of “The Prisoner of Paradise”, which had previously only appeared on the Japanese pressing of Master of the Moon. This is another good track and it sounds like it could have come from Killing the Dragon.

The Very Beast of Dio Vol. 2 is a great companion for Warner’s original Very Beast compilation. Ronnie James Dio still had a lot left in the tank throughout the 2000s even if sales from these albums don’t really express that. Certainly, I’d recommend a compilation of ’80s classics to anyone looking to get into Dio but you can’t go too wrong here either. “Electra”, “The Prisoner of Paradise” and “Metal Will Never Die” (for those who missed it) more than make up for the die-hards who feel compelled to buy this album. Recommended pick up for those three songs alone. Everyone else should already have all the other albums represented!

www.ronniejamesdio.com/
www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio
Buy the album at Amazon.com

Book Review – RAT SALAD: Black Sabbath, The Classic Years 1969 – 1975

Rat Salad: Black Sabbath, The Classic Years, 1969 – 1975
(2006, St. Martin’s Press)
By Paul Wilkinson

Here is a short review for a book I had considered buying on and off for years. While I have read a number of Black Sabbath books, I held off on this for awhile because it focuses on the Ozzy era up through 1975 and it’s well-known that I prefer the likes of Ronnie James Dio & Tony Martin over Ozzy Osbourne’s tenure. Still, when I found out it was available from the local library, I checked it out and gave it a shot.

To be honest, I got about 80 pages into this 240 page book before I decided to walk away from it. I am a huge Sabbath fan but you not only need to be a major Ozzy-era fan but also a musician to really get the most out of this book. All the talk about C sharp, E minor or whatever is absolutely boring to me. I am not a musician, so that detailed information means nothing to my brain. I read a review that stated this book is like a text book, in some ways, I agree.

In addition to that, the author tries to interject his own personal history into the book. I found this to be quite odd and it really disrupts the flow of the book whenever he delves into his personal life. If he wants to talk about how Sabbath affected his teenage years, fine, but I don’t care to learn about his school days, his best friends or first kiss. It’s really out of place and the author comes off as a self-important snob but then I guess most of us music critics are exactly that.

Bottom line: if you love the early years of Black Sabbath AND are a musician, you’ll probably like the book a lot. For those of us that like to listen but can’t play a note, there are much better books on Black Sabbath out there.

Buy ‘Rat Salad’ at Amazon.com

Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage

Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage (2012, Frontiers Records)

1. Wicked World … 4:40
2. Cirque du Freak … 4:13
3. Oh My Soul … 5:13
4. One of the Few … 4:01
5. Still In Love With You … 4:21
6. Can’t Stay Here … 4:08
7. Wardance … 6:00
8. Don’t Know What It Is About You … 4:55
9. Blind Fury … 5:06
10. Violet Moon … 7:38

Musicians:
Tony Martin – Vocals
Dario Mollo – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Roberto Gualdi – Drums
Fulvio Gaslini – Bass
Dario Patti – Keyboards
Brian War – Keyboards

If you’ve been following this blog for any decent amount of time or have conversed with me on message boards or Facebook, you’ve probably realized that I’m a big fan of Tony Martin. I rank his run in Sabbath second only to the great Ronnie James Dio. That said, I haven’t heard any of his side-projects or guest spots on other albums and have only heard the latest of his two solo albums (leaving 1992’s Back Where I Belong on my bucket list).

Dario Mollo, on the other hand, I know next to nothing about this Italian guitarist. Looking at his official website and the Frontiers website, I can tell you that he was in a metal band in the ’80s called Crossbones and in 2000 & 2005 released albums under the Voodoo Hill name with the legendary Glenn Hughes on vocals (I really need to check those albums out). He also did a UK tour as a member of the “Graham Bonnet & Don Airey Band”.

Also during this time is when “The Cage” series of albums came to be. Dario recruited Tony Martin to sing on and write lyrics for 1999’s The Cage and they paired up again in 2004 for The Cage 2. I was made aware of both of these projects awhile back and while I’ve seen good reviews for them, I never picked them up because they are, unfortunately, out of print and very expensive (I think I’ll pass on spending $80-$140 for a CD!). Well, at least now I am able to listen to the latest Cage album!

The first thing I noticed is that Tony Martin has not lost a step over the years. He sounds just as good here as he did on The Eternal Idol or Headless Cross. Not that I expected anything less because he sounded excellent on Scream as well. As for Dario, well, if you’ve got Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin, Graham Bonnet and Don Airey willing and wanting to work with you — then you know you’re pretty good at what you do. Some very nice solos and riffing going on here.

Though the album starts off heavy with “Wicked World” , “Cirque Du Freak” & “Oh My Soul” (the last two sound like they could’ve come from a Sabbath album with Tony), there’s a variety of styles to be found on this album. “One of the Few”, “Can’t Stay Here” and “Don’t Know What It Is About You” are all melodic rockers, taking Tony back to his musical roots and still displaying him as being just as comfortable singing these types of songs as he is singing heavy metal. “Still In Love With You” is heavy with an epic Middle Eastern-flair to it. “Wardance” is probably my favorite track on the album with the tribal rhythm of the drums and it’s just too catchy (“WAR!…DANCE!”). “Blind Fury” may be the heaviest track on the album while “Violet Moon” is a beautiful, near-trippy ballad that closes out the album.

There’s really not a bad track on this album. With each spin (and there’s been quite a few of them) I’ve grown to appreciate each song more and more but “Still In Love With You”, “Can’t Stay Here”, “Wardance” and “Don’t Know What It Is About You” were the instant standouts when I first listened.

How does The Third Cage compare to the first two Mollo/Martin albums? Don’t ask me! But I do know that Dario & Tony have delivered a great blend of hard rock, metal and melodic rock that has me wanting to snatch up whatever else Dario has done and has me wishing for even more new Tony Martin music.

Highlights: “Cirque Du Freak”, “One of the Few”, “Still In Love With You”, “Can’t Stay Here”, “Wardance”, “Don’t Know What It Is About You”, “Violet Moon”

Dario Mollo Official Website
Dario Mollo – Tony Martin The Cage Facebook Page
Tony Martin Facebook Page

Buy ‘The Third Cage’ at Amazon.com

Looking Forward to in 2012…

2012 is shaping up to be another spectacular year for rock music. This is a year that is going to see releases from KISS, Judas Priest, Aerosmith, Van Halen and Black Sabbath. WHAT YEAR IS THIS ?!?

In no particular order, here’s what I’m definitely picking up in 2o12:

AcceptStalingrad (April)
Accept really blew me away with Blood of the Nations. The band has proven there is life without Udo. In fact, I think many people would prefer the current line-up over the classic Accept roster at this point.

Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue (April)
These solid modern glam-metallers are currently in the studio working on their 3rd album.

KISS – Monster (Spring)
Obviously, this is the album I’m looking forward to most. Sonic Boom was a triumphant return to the studio for these guys, now that the wheels are well-oiled, I think Monster has potential to be even better.

SunstormEmotional Fire (February)
I missed out on the last Sunstorm despite good reviews. In the past year I’ve come to appreciate AOR/melodic rock more so I think I’m going to try out this Joe Lynn Turner-fronted side project when it’s released.

Crashdiet
No date yet set by these sleaze rockers but they are supposedly in the writing process now. I’m guessing sometime in the Fall.

Black Sabbath (Fall/Winter)
Another highly anticipated album for me because I’m really curious what it’s going to sound like. I’m not a big Ozzy fan, either as a solo artist or in Sabbath. I’d much rather see Iommi w/ Geezer go on to new projects (Iommi needs to give Tony Martin another call) but I still will be pre-ordering this one. My expectations aren’t all that high though given who is singing. I feel like he and Sharon are going to bring everyone else down to his mediocre level. Still, it’s exciting to know that new Iommi riffs and solos are coming.

Aerosmith (May)
So much prima donna drama in this camp over the last 5 years or so but hopefully that’s gone long enough to give us a new album. Granted,  I don’t really expect much from these guys in terms of, well… anything anymore. They’re kind of a joke at this point but with the legendary Jack Douglas back on as producer, I have no doubts that he’ll drag something out of them that’s better than the last studio album (2001’s Just Push Play).

Van Halen (February 7)
Geez, it was starting to look like the new Chinese Democracy, wasn’t it? No album title has been released yet but a release date has been and the first single will be released on January 10. Van Halen is another band that has become a joke over the years (despite the last tour getting rave reviews) but I have a good feeling about this album. The first album with Roth since 1984 and 1984! Rumored titles have been The Future and 2012 but I don’t think either will turn out to be true. Maybe IV though..?

Judas Priest
The band hasn’t definitely said a new album is coming in 2012 but they’ve been working on new material for a while now and seem to be looking at 2012 for releasing it. It’s a different songwriting dynamic now though. Instead of Halford/Downing/Tipton, it’s just Halford/Tipton. By all accounts, new guitarist Richie Faulkner is carrying his weight in a live setting so I think the album is going to turn out quite good. I do think it’s time the band delivers a straight ahead metal album though. Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus were good but not excellent. The band really hasn’t given the world that kick-ass classic metal album that they should’ve already done since Halford has come back. They really need a PainkillerHell Bent for Leather or British Steel at this point and keep it simple.

Primal Fear – Unbreakable (late January)
I have heard this album. It’s good. Plan on reviewing it soon.

Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage (late January)
See above. It’s great to have a new album out with Tony Martin on vocals.

Buckcherry
Maybe wishful thinking on my part but they were working on new material this past summer so hopefully something new will appear by next summer.

The Last Vegas The Other Side
No date announced yet but they recently released the free digital Other Side E.P. so I’d imagine we’ll have the new album by the spring.

Slash
His first solo album was one of the best records from the last few years and this time, Myles Kennedy is singing all the songs. Everything is written, all that’s left to do is record the songs so I’m guessing spring for this one as well.

Trans-Siberian OrchestraRomanov: What Kings Must Whisper
The second non-holiday from TSO, it was actually planned to be their first album way back in 1994 but they held on it while trying to get a Broadway musical out of it first. Night Castle was dark and cool while still keeping that trademark blend of metal, rock and classical music, I expect more of the same here.

Dokken
With a deal in place with Frontiers Records for the new album, I’m expecting something special despite never being a huge Dokken fan. Lightning Strikes Again was good enough for me to be interested in a follow-up. The plan, as of this past November, was to have recording completed by February.

Stryper
This album was actually delayed from this past year in favor of recording and releasing the excellent The Covering album of cover songs. According to Michael Sweet, two albums are in the works: the first will be an album of re-recordings (Why? Can we stop this trend, please?)  followed by an album of all-new material written in the same heavy, edgy vein as “God” from The Covering.

M-Pire of Evil
M-Pire of Evil is the renamed Primevil which itself was the reunited late ’80s/early ’90s line-up of Venom that featured Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan on vocals/bass . I’m not well-versed on the comings and goings of the Venom roster but the “classic” line-up is split into two different bands right now. Conrad “Cronos” Lant is leading Venom with a few newer guys while the other two “classic” members (Jeff “Mantas” Dunn & Anthony “Abaddon” Bray) have hooked up again with Dolan for M-Pire of Evil.

They released an EP this past summer called The Creatures of the Black, which was pretty good and I liked the Prime Evil album (the only Venom release I’ve heard from this line-up) so I’m looking forward to a full length album. I couldn’t find anything resembling a release date but going by the band’s Facebook page, it should be soon because they’ve been teasing releasing the album cover.

Tooth And Nail (March)
The band that features 3/4 of the classic Dokken line-up. How does “Wild” Mick Brown still retain a position in Dokken while joining Tooth And Nail? Given Don Dokken’s reputation, you’d think he’d have been fired from Dokken by now. I mean, this band was named after a Dokken album and they’ve gloated over the fact that Don Dokken isn’t in the group (bassist Jeff Pilson will handle vocals). What’s weird is that on the band’s Facebook page, they list current Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy as a member as well… I guess he’s there for the live shows in case Brown has to go off and play in Dokken?

I’m probably forgetting a few more albums but oh well!

%d bloggers like this: