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The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years [Album Review]

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The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2011, Capitol Records
Originally Released: 1988, Capitol Records
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1. “Under My Wheels” – Alice Cooper w/ Guns N’ Roses
2. “Bathroom Wall” – Faster Pussycat
3. “Cradle to the Grave” – Motörhead
4. “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” – Armored Saint
5. “Born to Be Wild” – Lizzy Borden
6. “In My Darkest Hour” – Megadeth
7. “Prophecy” – Queensrÿche
8. “The Brave” – Metal Church
9. “Foaming at the Mouth” – Rigor Mortis
10. “Colleen” – Seduce

Any metal-head worth their weight in steel is well aware of this documentary that was released in 1988. It’s a truly fascinating look at life as rocker in the 1980s. For better or worse, warts and all, it absolutely captures a time and a vibe & scene that can never truly be replicated no matter how “retro” a band may act.

As it stands, the soundtrack to The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is a solid compilation. Sure, bands like Seduce and Rigor Mortis didn’t stand the test of time but when it comes to the ’80s metal scene, you can’t really argue against the inclusion of bands like Motorhead, Lizzy Borden, Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Guns N’ Roses, Metal Church or even Faster Pussycat. It was all metal one way or another.

The documentary itself was actually what turned me on to Megadeth as they performed “In My Darkest Hour” in the film and it certainly made an impression on me.

The lack of Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Poison, KISS or W.A.S.P. is a bit odd given how their stature and appearances in the documentary but the soundtrack isn’t meant to be all encompassing. If it was, we’d be putting up with having to listen to the likes of London, Tuff and Odin, too. A few tracks either start or end with audio clips from the film.

We could argue for hours over who truly deserves to be included on a compilation of ’80s metal but this soundtrack is just a taste of what that era had to offer and is meant to tie in most closely with bands featured in the documentary. Keep that in mind and what you’ve got is a good collection of ’80s rock & metal that will fit right in with your retro denim vest.

Highlights: “Under My Wheels”, “Bathroom Wall”, “Born to Be Wild”, “In My Darkest Hour”, “Prophecy”

Metal Excess Awards 2013

2013 was an interesting year for rock/metal. Some bands delivered more than I expected them to (Stryper, Bon Jovi, Mike Tramp), a few disappointed me (Megadeth, Avenged Sevenfold, De La Cruz) and some confirmed my suspicions that they shouldn’t have released an album at all (Black Sabbath… okay, it was good but it seemed derivative of their past works).

Overall, it was a bit of a slow year for me as I focused a lot on listening to old favorites rather than having an interest in checking out and reviewing some of the latest releases.

Best Albums of 2013
1. Buckcherry – Confessions
2. Stryper – No More Hell to Pay
3. Bon Jovi – What About Now
4. Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes
5. The Poodles – Tour de Force
6. Avantasia – The Mystery of Time
7. Reckless Love – Spirit
8. Megadeth – Super Collider
9. Jorn – Traveller
10. Mike Tramp – Cobblestone Street

Best Live Albums
1. Whitesnake – Made In Britain / The World Record
2. Dio – Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly 1986
3. Def Leppard – Viva! Hysteria
4. Whitesnake – Made In Japan
5. Great White – 30 Years: Live from the Sunset Strip

Best EPs
1. Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington – High Rise
2. The 69 Eyes – Love Runs Away
3. Skid Row – United World Rebellion: Chapter One

Best Compilation/Cover Albums
1. Stryper – Second Coming
2. Kelly Clarkson – Wrapped in Red
3. Buckcherry – The Best of Buckcherry
4. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Upon the Winter Solstice
5. Jorn – Symphonic

Most Anticipated New Releases for 2014
Alice Cooper
Judas Priest
Motley Crue
Sebastian Bach
Whitesnake

Megadeth – Risk [Review]

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Megadeth – Risk
1999, Capitol Records

1. “Insomnia”
2. “Prince of Darkness”
3. “Enter the Arena”
4. “Crush ‘Em”
5. “Breadline”
6. “The Doctor Is Calling”
7. “I’ll Be There”
8. “Wanderlust”
9. “Ecstasy”
10. “Seven”
11. “Time: The Beginning”
12. “Time: The End”

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Marty Friedman – Guitar, Backing Vocals
David Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Jimmy DeGrasso – Drums

Produced by Dan Huff and Dave Mustaine

Okay, Risk is what most Megadeth fans will agree to be the band’s worst album. I’m not too sure if I agree with that. There’s a number of tracks here that I like a lot. It was definitely something else though, even further removed from Megadeth’s roots than the commercial Countdown to Extinction or Youthanasia albums were. The album is different, that’s for sure. Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad though.

I’m not really sure how you’d describe this album. There are elements of metal, hard rock, alternative rock and, yes, even pop music. The album is certainly an oddity in the band’s catalog but it does have its charms.

“Crush ‘Em” is the song I remember getting the most push from this album. Megadeth performed the song live once on WCW Monday Nitro and then WCW pro wrestler Goldberg used it as his entrance music for a while. The song was also featured on the soundtrack to Universal Soldier: The Return, which Goldberg also had a role in. I think it was even used at sporting events for awhile. I guess it served its purpose. Mustaine has since called the song “dumb” and says he doesn’t like it. Of course it’s dumb, it’s a sports anthem! It’s dumb, but dumb fun.

If I’m remembering correctly, this album was the source of a lot of strife in the life of Mustaine and the band. Dave still wanted to one-up Metallica but wasn’t totally sure if this alternative rock/pop direction was the way to go, but the label was insisting. Meanwhile, Marty Friedman was becoming disgruntled working within the confines of Megadeth. You’d think he’d have been happier than ever in Megadeth consider this was a light album and he went on to recording pop songs once quitting the band and relocating to Japan.

There’s definitely some off-the-wall sounding songs here when you consider this is Megadeth. “Breadline” is a very good rock/pop song while “The Doctor Is Calling”, “Wanderlust”, “Ecstasy”, “Time: The Beginning” are semi-ballads with a strange almost trippy vibe to them.

Though sales were disappointing at the time, given everyone thought this was going to be the big “breakthrough” mainstream album for Megadeth, the album went on to sell over 500,000 copies. That puts it on level with 1997’s Cryptic Writings so I don’t consider Risk to be a commercial failure when looking strictly at the numbers. And despite negative reviews, it’s actually the last Megadeth album to be certified gold.

Listening to the album now, it’s not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. But I never thought it was bad even when I first heard it. Again, it’s just different. In the Megadeth catalog, I might actually rank it above the hard, fast & bland Thirteen and Endgame albums. Those two album had a handful of really good songs but I daresay Risk is more consistent.

Highlights:  “Insomnia”, “Crush ‘Em”, “Breadline”, “The Doctor Is Calling”, “I’ll Be There”, “Wanderlust”, “Ecstasy”, “Time: The Beginning”

www.megadeth.com
www.facebook.com/megadeth

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Megadeth – Youthanasia [Review]

Youthanasia

Megadeth – Youthanasia
1994, Capitol Records

1. “Reckoning Day”
2. “Train of Consequences”
3. “Addicted to Chaos”
4. “A Tout le Monde”
5. “Elysian Fields”
6. “The Killing Road”
7. “Blood of Heroes”
8. “Family Tree”
9. “Youthanasia”
10. “I Thought I Knew It All”
11. “Black Curtains”
12. “Victory”

Produced by Max Norman and Dave Mustaine

Yes, I know there are many, many Megadeth fans out there who will say that Megadeth was at their best during the 1980’s with 1990’s Rust In Peace serving as their magnum opus. As great as those years and all of those albums were, I disagree in regards to that era being the “best”. 1992’s Countdown to Extinction began Dave Mustaine’s quest to become accepted in the mainstream and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Youthansia continued down the same road. If Countdown… was the blueprint, Youthansia was the finished masterpiece.

Honestly, “Black Curtains” is the only weak link in the bunch. The rest is 11 tracks of hooks, melody and rock/metal greatness: the hammering “Reckoning Day”, the chugging “Train of Consequences”, the dark “Family Tree”, the popular semi-ballad “A Tout le Monde”, “Victory” name-checks previous Megadeth songs and “I Thought I Knew It All and mythology-fueled “Elysian Fields” are two of my favorite ‘deth songs of all time.

See, this is the Megadeth I first became exposed to, so it’s my preference over their ’80s thrash/speed sound. I love the thrash/speed metal they previously had used but I think Megadeth is at their best when Dave is writing accessible catchy hard rock songs with just a bit of metal to them. Youthanasia isn’t a soft album. I still wouldn’t say it’s only hard rock but it’s definitely the most commercial and most polished album they ever released. Yes, even more so than Risk, I think. That album was just… different. Youthanasia is lighter than Countdown to Extinction, the solos aren’t as prolific but the album still retains a metal quality.

I may not be saying enough about an album that easily makes my Top 10 of All-Time, but what else do I have say other than it’s in my Top 10 of All-Time and receives frequent spins over 10 years after I first heard the album?

www.megadeth.com
www.facebook.com/megadeth

Buy the album at Amazon.com!

Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction [Review]

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Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction
1992, Capitol Records

1. “Skin o’ My Teeth”
2. “Symphony of Destruction”
3. “Architecture of Aggression”
4. “Foreclosure of a Dream”
5. “Sweating Bullets”
6. “This Was My Life”
7. “Countdown to Extinction”
8. “High Speed Dirt”
9. “Psychotron”
10. “Captive Honour”
11. “Ashes in Your Mouth”

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Marty Friedman – Guitar, Backing Vocals
David Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Nick Menza – Drums, Backing Vocals

Produced by Max Norman and Dave Mustaine

I’m dating myself as a fairly recent Megadeth fan but my first exposure to Countdown to Extinction was back in the late ’90s or early 2000s when I picked it up from a local pawn shop, along with a few other Megadeth albums.

Following the classic Rust In Peace, I can understand why there would be some backlash in regards to Countdown to Extinction at the time of its release. Countdown is still heavy metal, but it features a bit more polish and hooks than they have previously used. No doubt this slicker sound was achieved with by enlisting the aid of producer Max Norman but Dave Mustaine was also on a quest to prove he could outsell Metallica at any cost. I’m sure his former band’s massive success with 1991’s “The Black Album” convinced Dave that it was time to adopt a slightly more commercial sound. While Countdown to Extinction didn’t reach the insane commercial heights of “The Black Album” but it still managed to go double platinum and that’s something to still be extremely pleased with.

Over time, the album has become generally regarded as one of the band’s best. I agree and that opinion is given merit thanks to stone cold classics like “Symphony of Destruction”, “Sweating Bullets” and “Countdown to Extinction”. But this is not a perfect collection of polished heavy metal. There are a few tracks that are nothing more than filler to my ears such as “Captive Honour”, “Architecture of Aggression” and “High Speed Dirt”.

With a bit of a change in sound, Countdown to Extinction is a great album and another high point for what many consider to be the classic Megadeth line-up. This is the album that put the band on the path to deliver in 1994 what I think is their best album yet: Youthanasia.

Highlights: “Skin O’ My Teeth”, “Symphony of Destruction”, “Foreclosure of a Dream”, “Sweating Bullets”, “This Was My Life”, “Countdown to Extinction”

http://www.megadeth.com
http://www.facebook.com/Megadeth

Buy the album at Amazon.com!

Megadeth – Super Collider [Review]

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Megadeth – Super Collider [Best Buy Exclusive Edition]
2013, Universal Music Enterprises/Tradecraft/T-Boy Records

1. “Kingmaker”
2. “Super Collider”
3. “Burn!”
4. “Built for War”
5. “Off the Edge”
6. “Dance in the Rain”
7. “The Beginning of Sorrow”
8. “The Blackest Crow”
9. “Forget to Remember”
10. “Don’t Turn Your Back…”
11. “Cold Sweat”
Bonus Tracks:
12. “All I Want”
13. “A House Divided”
Best Buy Exclusive:
14. “Countdown to Extinction” (live)

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Chris Broderick – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Dave Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Shawn Drover – Drums

Produced by: Johnny K

What’s in a name? Nitpicking here, because it’s the music that matters most, but I find the title of Super Collider to be lackluster and fairly generic (the same way I felt about Thirteeneven with its alternate alpha-numeric spelling). Yes, I know that’s the Large Hadron Collider on the cover (with Vic Rattlehead barely visible in the back there) but it’s all a bit “off” for Megadeth album, in my opinion. Especially with the picture being so bright and colorful. I will say the cover is made a bit cooler with the lenticular insert that comes with the album. I’m not sure if that’s a Best Buy exclusive as well or given to all releases.

So, for a long time, Megadeth has been one of my favorite bands. For a period of time, it wouldn’t have been out of line to say they were my favorite. But, with each passing album, I find myself becoming less thrilled with them. Endgame and Thirteen were both disappointments to me with few bright spots and a lot of filler. So I certainly was not hyped up for Super Collider (and the uninspired album title & cover art only made matters worse). Based off the lead single, “Super Collider”, I figured I had this album already pegged as yet another disappointment.

However, two more songs were released online that really piqued my interest: “Built for War”, which sounds like something that could’ve been on United Abominations. Then there’s “The Blackest Crow”, which is a very unusual Megadeth track that could’ve come from Risk and it has a creepy country/bluegrass vibe to it complete with banjo and slide guitar. Both of these songs got me excited for the album.

And then I kept reading reviews online going “oh, this is a hard rock album, this isn’t heavy metal!” My response? “GOOD!” I’ve always felt Megadeth’s best albums came from the nineties, a time when they were blurring the line on whether they were metal or rock. With the last few albums, Dave seemed to be going in a direction that was heavier and faster than Megadeth had ever been. That’s quite an impressive and commendable feat, even if it didn’t lead to too many memorable songs, but it really isn’t what I wanted from the band. It seems like on Super Collider that Mustaine and lessened the intensity and added a much needed dose of melody & hooks that harkens back to Youthanasia and Countdown to Extinction.

“Kingmaker” – Solid Megadeth metal to kick off the album.

“Super Collider” – I found this one to be disappointing upon first hearing it (as did most people). It’s not a particularly heavy song. Probably about as radio-friendly as Megadeth can get. Sounds like it should’ve been on Risk. It’s actually grown on me with repeated listens but it was a poor choice to be the first released song from the album.

“Burn!” and “Off the Edge” come off like filler to me.

“Built For War” – Great track! This one is a modern Megadeth heavy metal classic right alongside “Gears of War”, “This Day We Fight!” and “Sudden Death”. This song is most definitely heavy metal.

“Dance In The Rain” –  I love the way this song starts off, with that somewhat creepy vibe Megadeth songs can have. This is actually Dave as a motivational speaker though (somewhat) — “you better learn to dance in the rain/instead of wait for the sun/dance in the rain/the sun will never come”. Disturbed/Device vocalist David Draiman appears on this track as well. Is that a selling point for you? It’s not for me.

“The Blackest Crow” – Like I said, an unusual Megadeth track but I’m loving it. It’s bluegrass meets heavy metal!

“Cold Sweat” – Pretty cool to hear Megadeth cover Thin Lizzy. Of course, it’s much more powerful than the Thin Lizzy version but it’s a faithful cover.

As far as the three bonus tracks go, “All I Want” and “A House Divided” are decent. “All I Want” is a fairly good headbanger that is about girl — “all I want in a girl…”. Simple, but a cool tune. I would’ve been fine with this replacing “Burn!”. “A House Divided” is another unique song (horns!), coming off like something that could’ve been on Risk or The World Needs A Hero. Both of these tracks are growing on me more and more with each listen. The third and final bonus track (and a Best Buy exclusive) is a live version of “Countdown to Extinction” that was recorded in 2012 at a show in Ponoma, California.

megasupersingle

The artwork for the “Super Collider” single. I would’ve much preferred this as the actual album cover. Has a bit of a ’90s Megadeth vibe, I think. Maybe that’s because it reminds me of the alien ship in ‘Independence Day’.

Megadeth-Supercollider

This artwork popped up online with claims that it was the album cover. I guess it was a rejected album cover/single artwork? It’s a bit goofy, reminds me of Overkill. Probably for the best that this one didn’t make it into production but I love how the Megadeth logo is breaking up.

Overall, I think Dave & Co. have delivered the best Megadeth album since at least 2007’s United Abominations. Don’t let the people fool you — this is NOT Risk. You can’t categorize this album as solely hard rock, but it’s not a full-blast trash/speed metal album like the last two have been either. It’s a rock/metal album and that is completely what I want from Megadeth. Megadeth’s stock was dropping with me after Endgame and Thirteen but Super Collider has started to set things right once again.

Highlights: “Kingmaker”, “Super Collider”, “Built for War”, “The Blackest Crow”, “Forget to Remember”, “Don’t Turn Your Back…”, “Cold Sweat”, “A House Divided”

http://www.megadeth.com
http://www.facebook.com/Megadeth

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.

Review: Red Lamb – s/t

Red Lamb (2012, self-released)

1. The Cage … 3:45
2. One Shell (In the Chamber) … 3:22
3. Standby Passenger … 3:3)
4. Runaway Train … 4:41
5. Puzzle Box … 4:39
6. Get Up … 3:38
7. Don’t Threaten to Love Me … 3:55
8. Angels of War … 4:07
9. Watchman … 4:37
10. Warpaint … 3:09
11. Temptation … 4:00
12. Keep Pushing Me … 4:21

Band:
Don Chaffin – Vocals
Dan Spitz – Lead/Rhythm Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Patrick Johansson – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Chris Vrenna – Synthesizers

Producer: Dave Mustaine & Dan Spitz

This is an album that should be of interest to Megadeth & Anthrax fans because it is a project put together by ex-Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz with Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine co-producing the album with Spitz.

It seems like there’s some confusion and assumptions on the internet as to what Mustaine’s involvement was on this album. At one time, it was assumed that Mustaine was going to be playing guitar and performing lead vocals but according to the Red Lamb bio and recent interviews with Dan Spitz that was never the case or intention. I’ve seen other sites speculate that Dave secretly plays or is singing on this album (and I’ll admit vocalist Don Chaffin sounds a lot like Dave at points) but why would he do that? This project has everything to gain by promoting the fact that Dave played on it. I’m pretty sure if it happened Spitz & Mustaine wouldn’t keep it a secret.

From what I can gather about Dave’s involvement is that the album was written & recorded without Mustaine having anything to do with it. Red Lamb was entirely a Spitz venture. Dan let Mustaine hear the album and then Dave made suggestions and the album was then adjusted accordingly thus giving Dave a co-producing credit.

It’s amazing how much Don Chaffin comes off as Dave though. He’s got the snarl down pat and even the phrasing and emphasis is very similar but then there are other times when you can tell it’s not Dave singing. Maybe Spitz had originally intended to Dave to be the vocalist and went in a similar vocal direction without him?

Vocals aside, a lot of the music sounds like modern day Megadeth so I can understand people thinking Mustaine “secretly” played a bigger than in this than is being admitted. “Angels of War” could have come off any Megadeth album from the last 10 years as could have a number of other tracks. There’s a few duds though. I don’t care for “One Shell (In the Chamber)”, which is nu-metal and features some rapping.

Overall, this is good album worth checking out for fans of that are into modern metal and have been digging the last few Megadeth albums.

Highlights: “The Cage”, “Standby Passenger”, “Don’t Threaten to Love Me”, “Angels of War”

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

Megadeth – Thirteen

Megadeth – Thirteen (2011, Roadrunner Records)

1. “Sudden Death” … 5:09
2. “Public Enemy No. 1” … 4:15
3. “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” … 3:50
4. “We the People” … 4:33
5. “Guns, Drugs, & Money” … 4:19
6. “Never Dead” … 4:32
7. “New World Order” … 3:56
8. “Fast Lane” … 4:04
9. “Black Swan” … 4:10
10. “Wrecker” … 3:51
11. “Millennium of the Blind” … 4:15
12. “Deadly Nightshade” … 4:55
13. “13” … 5:53

Band:
Dave Mustaine – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Chris Broderick – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Dave Ellefson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Shawn Drover – Drums, Percussion

Producer: Johnny K

Thirteen is Megadeth’s 13th album. It’s become cliched to title your album based on its chronological order in your catalog just as much as its become lame to stylize an album title or song as something like Th1rt3en. It’s just unimaginative and lame (to me anyways) but I suppose I’m just nit-picking.

Of course, lack of imagination could be argued for this album because five of the thirteen tracks on this album have appeared elsewhere in various forms. “Sudden Death” was originally recorded in 2010 exclusively for the Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock video game. “Black Swan” was an exclusive to Megadeth fan club members who pre-ordered United Abominations. “Millennium of the Blind” was originally demoed for Youthanasia and in that form found its way onto the 2004 re-issue as a bonus track. “New World Order” is from the Countdown for Extinction era and was also included in demo form on the re-issue of Youthanasia (a completed version appeared on 1999’s Duke Nukem: Music to Score By soundtrack). Lastly, the main riff from “Deadly Nightshade” is something that’s “been around for a while” since the mid-90s according to returning original bassist David Ellefson (this is Ellefson’s first Megadeth studio since 2001’s The World Needs a Hero) . It should be noted though that all of these songs have been completed, reworked and/or re-recorded for this album so it’s not a total cut & paste job.

In comparison to Endgame, Thirteen is an improvement. Endgame had some good tracks but left me cold for the most part. It was thrash & speed just for the sake of it and I’m happy Andy Sneap wasn’t able to return to produce this album (scheduling conflicts) because otherwise we probably would’ve ended up with Endgame Part 2. In the quest for speed & aggression, it seemed like Mustaine forgot all about melody and hooks on the last album. Thankfully Thirteen does not suffer this problem as the nature of this album is more melodic and songs like “13” and “Guns, Drugs & Money” prove the point.

There is still enough thrash & speed to go around though. “Sudden Death” (slightly different than the Guitar Hero version) is one of the best songs Dave has written in years and should be included on any future “best of” compilations. “Wrecker” is another track sure to have you headbanging. Much of the album finds a great middle ground between being heavy while still having the hooks that will dig into your brain and keep you coming back for me.

Personally, I prefer a melodically metal Megadeth over a thrashy Megadeth any day of the week so this album has worked out well for me and has restored my faith in the band (not that it ever really faltered). Those that were enamored with the audio assault of Endgame may be slightly disappointed with Thirteen but those that liked the melodic shift in sound the band took on starting with Countdown to Extinction should find plenty here that will entertain.

Highlights: “Sudden Death”, “Public Enemy No. 1”, “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)”, “Guns, Drugs & Money”, “Never Dead”, “Millennium of the Blind”, “13”

http://www.megadeth.com
http://www.facebook.com/Megadeth
http://www.twitter.com/megadeth

Buy ‘Th1rt3en’ at Amazon.com

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