Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday Singles: Neon Animal-"Bring Back Rock 'n' Roll From The Dead [Digital Single]"

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Neon Animals is a UK band that is comprised of lead singer Mark Thorn, guitarist/backing vocalist Miguel Martins, bassist/backing vocalist Jonathan Gaglione, and drummer Iv K. Lizz. Just in case the singles' title isn't clear enough, Neon Animals wants to "Bring Back Rock 'n' Roll From The Dead". That's also the name of their upcoming debut album. As can be seen here, Neon Animals offers up an album version of the track and the radio edit. Neither one sticks out particularly. As for how this foursome is going to resurrect rock? Based on this so-so single, Hanoi Rocks and AC/DC seem to be the devil in the details (as it were) with nods of appreciation tossed towards the (old) L.A. hard rock scene and even (the) Dead Boys (attitude being everything as the old saying goes). On paper that all sounds like a grand day out. But on tape? Well, that's the big question of the day. Does this point towards the overall direction of the album or is this a case where the wrong single shows up for press day? While I'm inclined to think the former, history has shown me strange cases where the later rings true. So, even if this isn't my cup of tea, "Bring Back Rock 'n' Roll From The Dead" does find me hoping for bigger and better things to come from these four London musicians...especially seeing as their hearts are in the right place. 
 

Saturday Singles-Toxic Holocaust "Max Overload" cover

Self-Release/Independent
2017

The gods be praised, Joel Grind (of Toxic Holocaust fame) has covered Acid's "Max Overload". For those of you who are not in the know, Acid was a slick Belgian speed metal band that was lead by the only and only Katrien de Lombaert. This jam comes from the group's 1983 album, "Maniac", but you can check out their complete discography by heading here. All of it is golden, but "Acid" and "Maniac" are tops. You can (and really should) snag this single. It's a name-your-price download that features guest vocals from one Marz(?) and it is a delight!

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Decibel Demon-Declassified

Brutal Records
2016

I'm flying blind on this release so let's get all of the misc.apologies out of the way first. Back in early November I was sent a short email on this release, but for whatever reason I never anything heard anything more about this submission. Fast forward a couple of months and the name Decibel Demon pops up once again. It was in a different setting, but "Declassified" was there all the same. Was it fate calling me or was it just a random occurrence? Honestly, I didn't know and I wasn't sure that I wanted to find out. After a week or so of mulling it over I decided to do a Google search and see what I could find. Depending upon where you look it's been dubbed speed metal, death metal, hard rock, and (oddly) even punk, but the few soundbites that I managed to hear...well, they suggested something else. After reaching out to the Facebook address that was attached with the originally email and having zero success (talk about frustrating!) I did something that I have never done before: I just bought the damn album on iTunes! Granted, I had extra money on my iTunes' account (thanks to the generosity of a certain young metalhead that is currently dating my daughter), but it's not my usual practice to go this far out of the way for a record submission! All of which brings us right back around to Decibel Demon and their (sole?) release. Mixed and mastered at Sea Saint Recording Studio in 1987(!), "Declassified" features a line-up of Brian Jeffrey (vox), Francis M. Howard (guitars), Scott W. Latour (bass), and Moyses M. Howard (drums). For those of you with a rich knowledge of metal, Brian Jeffrey and company were a part of Louisiana's Incubus (not to be confused with the angsty- teen "metal" Incubus or the far superior* N.W.O.B.H.M. Incubus). Apparently this was pre-Incubus. As for the album? Well, it's about as far removed from the death/thrash metal style of Louisiana's Incubus as one can get! With both clean singing and high pitched wails that would make Rob Halford and Steve Grimmett proud, "Declassified" is primarily a eighties metal album & partially a mad cap mixture of raw metal, (very) hard rock, metallic punk, and even (metal-fueled!) garage rock and roll! In other words, Decibel Demon are nothing at all what you would expect given their name and the above artwork!! All of the songs on this re-mastered release** are different, pieces and parts of different genres/different influences swirled about with a surprising amount of success. What's also surprising is the fact that the album was engineered by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Cosimo Matassa. Mostly known for working with R& B and (early) rock and roll stars, Mr. Matassa oversaw the development of artist like Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, and Dr. John! Finding his name in the credits of this album was unreal...even if rock n' roll and heavy metal have shared histories. But anyhow, "Look Out Lighted" opens things up on the album and from that point forward it's pretty easy to recognize the face that all bets are off when you are dealing with music from the eighties. As long as you are aware of that, "Declassified" comes with recommend. Sure, it's with a wink and a bit of a nod, but Decibel Demon does make me wonder about other lost recordings from that same time period in (heavy metal) history.


*As in far superior to the nu metal/alternative rock version and not necessarily this 80's metal one.

**Per this page, "Declassified" was nearly lost after the terrible events of Katrina. Or at least the original mastered recording were.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tiger Junkies-Green Tea Or Die (7" EP)

Hells Headbangers
2017

Tiger Junkies' "Green Tea Or Die" EP was originally released on picture disk in 2013. It was the follow-up to the group's 2008 debut album, "D-Beat Street Rock 'n' Rollers", and come March 31st it will be re-issued on "tea green" vinyl and made available for digital download. In addition to the wicked fun title track, "Green Tea Or Die" includes "Raw Sex Till Sperm," "Satanik Metal Punks," and "Sex Sex Sex Pt2". As per usually,  Joel Grind and Yasuyuki Suzuki are the men responsible for this noisy racket, Motörhead, Discharge, Warfare, Exodus, D.R.I., Agnostic Front, C.O.C, English Dogs, Possessed, Cro-Mags, Slayer, Venom ("Welcome To Hell" era), Tank, Vio-lence, Cryptic Slaughter, The Exploited, and Broken Bones all serving as their inspiration. Filthy, greasy, raw, and blood-soaked through and through, "Green Tea Or Die" is (obviously) a must-have for fans (up to and incl. Toxic Holocaust ones) and anyone that loves their punk metal and/or metal punk fast, frenzied, and (drunkenly) f**ked-up! 

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Interview with Serbian death metal band Nemesis

Nemesis is a five-piece death metal band from Serbia. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with the group. 

Andy-First off I would just like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us. How are things going for you today?

Anja-We thank you for reaching out and noticing our work! Everything is going great! Winter is harsh this year so we were hibernating a little, but we are back on the metal horse! We will try to make this year prosperous and successful.

Andy-Would you mind introducing yourself to our readers?

Anja-Nemesis is an all-girl death metal band from Serbia. The band has five members: Sanja on vocals, Aleksandra on lead guitar, Tijana on rhythm guitar, Anja on bass and Selena on drums. We all come from different cities, of various education and taste, and we do think that this makes us different than a usual band.

Andy-How did the band first come about?

Anja-Nemesis is a band founded in 2013 with idea to gather female musicians and do something totally unexpected – to form a death metal band. Serbia is a country where folk music (not in a good way folk) and EX-YU rock are mainstream and are cherished dearly by the audience. Death metal music seems appropriate music to fight stereotypical concerts with tribute bands that play songs that we heard so many times. We wanted to make something different.

Andy-I think you succeeded in that! Now, I believe that I read somewhere that you were named after an Arch Enemy song. Is that correct?

Selena-That is partly correct. We love Nemesis song by Arch Enemy, but our main idea was to name the band after the Greek goddess Nemesis. She represents everything we fight for: Justice, order, truth and punishment for those who are arrogant and think they are above gods, or in our case, laws.

Andy-Very cool. Besides Arch Enemy, who are some of the band's main influences?

Anja-There is a lot, each band-mate has a different taste, making us unique but also strange. There are few bands that we would point out: Kreator, Death, Pantera, In Flames, Amon Amarth, Gojira, Trivium, Nevermore… The list is very long and we could say there are a lot of genres that are influencing us, we are pretty sure that it will be noticeable in our upcoming recordings.

Andy-Word has it that you have a new EP in the works. How is that going and when came fans expect to see it?

Sanja-Yes, that is correct. This week we will be recording final parts of vocals and songs. It should be sent for production-mixing very soon. Hopefully it will be out by the end of April. We are very excited and we cannot wait to see reactions and comments from our fans, we really did put a lot of effort in making these songs!

Andy-Are there any song titles that you can share?

Selena-Sure. Our audience already had the opportunity to hear our first single "Vengeance", which will be on EP, and other three are: "Living Dead People", my personal favorite, "Savages" and "Divine Retribution".

Andy-I just love the video for your song "Vengeance"!* How did that come about?

Sanja-The video at the first, didn’t have any story, we wanted to present ourselves as a band, hence the classical band on a stage video. Thankfully to our great friends and supporters Branislav Radovanović and Relja Ilić we were able to make this video look brutal, full of colors and present us in the best possible way. First thing that was filmed was us playing in Cultural Center in Pančevo (town near Belgrade), but we felt like we wanted to spice it up. The parts were I am the only actor was a little bit spontaneous representation of me as an "avenger". It was a great experience, a lot of fun and I cannot wait to start filming our upcoming video!

Andy-If there is such a thing, what is a typical show like for your group? 

Sanja-Typical for our show is – energy! Each show would be fueled with energy, sweat and people jumping and moshing around. I think that we communicate and share our energy with audience each time, even people who would see us for the first time would feel good and end up moshing and headbanging. At the end of show we would get lots of hugs and compliments. We love our shows! 

Andy-Who are some of the group's that you've played with so far? 

Sanja-There was a lot of awesome bands with who we shared the stage, but we would like to highlight few local bands who are also our friends – Jenner, Void Inn, Demist… Of course we would point out and very popular Pero Defformero, with who we will be playing on March the 3rd in Belgrade. When it comes to foreign bands with who we played I would highlight Brazilian band Nervosa. We hope to play with them again soon, the girls are so awesome and sweet! Maybe we should mention a upcoming gig that will definitely be great? We are going to Ljubljana on March the 11th and we will be playing with famous band Hell Cats! Our colleagues from band Jenner will be playing also! We are very excited and we will do our best to travel outside Serbia as much as possible because we would like to spread the word that Serbian metal bands exist! 

Andy-It sounds like your band is very active. Do you have a favorite show that sticks out?

Anja-Favorite show would be definitely a concert with a very popular Serbian band Pero Defformero, that we mentioned question ago. Guys from the band were fabulous and were the best hosts. Also there is another show that sticks out. Our dear friends organized a road trip with 7 bands to their hometown, Golubac (near a border with Romania). There we played a gig with other metal bands including Jenner from Belgrade and we can say some friendships were made that night. 

Andy-You brought up Jenner (who I just love and have covered before) o that brings up a important question. With their signing, Serbian metal is a hot topic these days. Has Jenner's success helped the scene out any?

Selena-The girls from the band Jenner are our friends, and we are really happy for them. We don’t think it helped us in direct way, but they did help when it comes to girl bands in general. Maybe there is someone who read the name of our band for the first time in their interviews, but more important is that they are showing the world that girls can play some badass metal. 

Andy-Damn right they can! Has there been any label interest in your band?

Selena-There were some foreign labels offering to sign us, but we want to wait till we enter the studio with album material. We think that even our most loyal audience will be pleasantly surprised when they hear all of the songs. There are many labels out there and we will try our best to find the best offer there is. We want to go big or go home. 

Andy-I hope you go big! You all deserve the success and metal fans deserve more (high-quality!) death metal bands. Where can our readers find out more about you and hear your original compositions? 

Sanja-For now, this can be done by following our Facebook  page and our YouTube channel. We can proudly say that our webpage is under construction, it should look great and be easy to use. For now, you can be up-to-date by following our mentioned pages. It would mean a lot if our fans would like our page and give us a follow. Also we are inviting the readers to hit a like button! 

Andy-Yes! Heavy Metal Time Machine readers be sure to head over to the band's Facepage page and hit that like button!! It's always important to support great metal bands, whether here in the U.S. or overseas. I always let artists have the last word. Is there anything that we didn't touch on that you would like to address? Words of wisdom for other death metal bands? Want to say something to your fans or would you like to slam the hammer down on your detractors? Whatever it is the mic is all yours and yours alone!

Anja-We appreciate it! There are things to address, it could be a whole topic with few pages. Metal is really an underdog at this point, but we will make some changes, I am sure! Words of wisdom are simple – do it, make it happen! There is a lot of metal bands struggling and maybe would think that they should quit, don’t! Make a drastic change if you feel that you are sinking, or going nowhere. And when it comes to our fans, we would like to thank them, we are here because of them, because they believe in us. Their support is endless and it is pushing as forward. We would also like to thank you for making these questions for us, hopefully you will be able to enjoy new music videos and our EP.

Andy-I sure hope so and again, thank you all so much for chatting with us. Don't be a stranger and please be sure to let us know when you release your new EP.



*Here is the official video for "Vengeance":


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Alan Blaisdell-Gravity


Self-Release/Independent
2017





Preceded in life by the nine-track recording "The Epic", Hillsboro, Oregon' multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Alan Blaisdell (Reverse of Creation) recently-released his second solo album, the space-themed "Gravity". Along with his debut outing (which I also recommend), the tech-savvy "Gravity" can be found on places like Amazon and iTunes. For fans of (top of the shelf) melodic death metal that is more of an invitation than anything else, "Gravity" finding Alan effortlessly handling all of the instruments and vocals by himself (with extra talent to spare!). The use of electronic elements merely adds to the album's "outer space" sound (his words originally and now mine!), but it's Alan's extreme ease with the guitar, bass, and drums that really makes this release stick out and shine. Be sure to give this one a spin.  


PS: Don't pay attention to the album's so-so artwork. It hides better things.

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Wheelie King-Wheelie King

Self-Release/Independent
2017
  
Originally created in 1994 something, Wheelie King is a three-piece "rock" band from Madison, Wisconsin. For the uninformed (which included yours truly before I cheated and checked the name out) that's the same place that gave us Garbage...or more importantly Killdozer. With Per Farny on bass & vocals, Wheelie King falls somewhere in-between those two bands (sonically at least) while still retaining that post-grunge/punk-infused nineties alternative garage rock sound that I fondly remember from the first time around! This self-titled (and highly-recommend kids!) EP looks to be the long-anticipated follow-up to "Modern Avenues", but as an outsider looking in what do I know exactly? Anyway, Pete Halseth (guitar) and Tony Leskinen (drums) round things out for (still fiery) Wheelie King and if you head over here you can hear the group perform live....

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Interview with Lipstick members Greg Troyan and Steve Smith

Nashville, Tennessee's own Lipstick recently-released it's second album, "Lipstick II". I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with band members Greg Troyan (lead vocals, guitars) and Steve Smith (lead and backing vocals, bass, acoustic and electric guitars) about that album and so much more.  

Andy-First off, congrats on the new album. It's great having you guys back and "Lipstick II" is a real fun time!



Steve-Thanks!



Greg-Thank you!



Andy-"Lipstick II" is more laid back than your debut. Obviously I loved the album, but how does everyone else feel about it? What have the reactions been like from fans and the critics?



Greg-The album just came out, so we're still waiting on a lot of the reviews from the critics so it's hard to say. The fans as a whole are liking this album a lot. I think the first album people had to get used to us and figure out exactly what kind of band Lipstick was, but the new album has a really powerful and youthful energy to it that people have been instantly drawn to. I've found people have gotten sucked in to this record much faster than the first record. And some of the songs, like "Cha La Head Cha La" and "Stop" have been concert staples for years, so people are glad to finally have recordings of those songs. The reaction to the new material live has also been really strong. We tried out a bunch of the songs live at the CD release show and they went over really well with the crowd so we probably have some new concert staples.



Andy-You guys cover a lot of topics on your new album, some of which are a little silly and some are surprising serious.  Other than "Love of Some Kind", what song sticks out the most for you and why?



Greg-From a lyrical perspective, the songs that stick out to me right away are "Love of Some Kind", which you already mentioned, "Fight Back" and "You Can't Stop The Rock". "Fight Back" is about overcoming child abuse and defeating your abusers, and it was largely written as a way to spread awareness about the issue. I felt that grunge bands would just say, "Child abuse sucks, sucks to be you," so I wanted the message to be, "Child abuse sucks, but you can change your life so don't let someone else control your life". And then there's "You Can't Stop The Rock", which I wrote to be either about God, Satan, Rock N Roll, or some combination of the three depending on your interpretation of the lyrics. I like that one from a lyrical perspective a lot. My interpretation of the song is that it's about God, but if you interpreted it any of those three ways I'd be fine with it.



Steve-"Electric Pussycat" sticks out to me. On one hand, it's blatantly a geek rock song. On the other hand, it stays true to the riff-rock roots of "Lipstick I" in spite of it. Most of the other geek rock songs tend to be punkier and less riffy. Ska song also sticks out as probably the most tonally distinct song on the album. There really was no precedent for ska on "Lipstick I"!






Andy-I don't address it very often in this blog, but I am a big fan of ska. I like everything from Madness to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (best pit EVER!). So, a little bit of ska is fine by me! Moving on, as a father of two teenagers there were a lot of subtle lines that really stood out to me. Does all of that come from having a stepson in your life Greg? Do you find yourself surrounded by other teenagers? You'll forgive me for asking this, but Steve, do you have any child of your own?



Steve-No kids for me!



Greg-A good chunk of the album was written before I had ever even met my stepson. Songs like "Fight Back" and "On The Eve of the Attack" date back to when I was in high school myself. I always try to write under the assumption that a teenager may end up listening to the album, but there weren't many subtle clues to my relationship with him in any of the songs. The one exception, however, is "Christmastime Machine", which I specifically wrote because my stepson is really into Dr. Who (Editor's note: Same here!) ), Ecco the Dolphin, y'know, time travel stuff, so I wanted to write another song about time travel for the record so he'd have a song he'd really dig. We toyed with the idea of dedicating every song on the album to someone, and that song would have been dedicated to him if we decided to go through with that.



As far as being around other teenagers, I'm less surrounded by my stepson's friends and get most of my teenage interactions when we play anime and comic book conventions. We've gotten some very kind e-mails from our teenage fans telling us how much they appreciate the music, and we're glad we were able to make them happy.



Andy-Even though I have a 18 year old daughter of my own, "Teenage Girlfriend" really hit home for me. As strange as it is, 1st loves* stick with you all of your life no matter how many other lovers come and go. Has anyone else told you how true that song is?



Steve:-Not really. I've gotten, "this song gets creepier every year" and "I'll go back in time to be your teenage girlfriend!" But nobody has really affirmed that all those guys with their songs about their teenage loves are right.


Greg:-As a huge Jim Steinman fan, I really dig all those teenage romance epic songs, but I also look at them in a very tongue-in-cheek manor. Like, I can take them seriously and think they're hilarious at the same time. "Girl Dressed as Sailor Moon" is a song about lost teenage love, but I wrote it more out of an appreciation for the art than actually pining for a lost romance. But, I remember how heartbroken I felt as a teenager and was able to tap into that emotion for the song, so maybe it's a way of time travel with emotions and that's why people dig that kinda stuff.



Andy-I hear ya. Just like on your debut album, "Lipstick II" has three tracks with rock in the title and one song with a Christmas theme. Please tell me we can expect more of the same when "Lipstick III" is enviably released!



Steve-Absolutely! Plus, 3 songs with "stop" in the title and probably at least one more arbitrary tradition that will make titling songs completely untenable by "Lipstick V".



Andy-I can only imagine! LOL! Now, there are some great names that show up in the credits, but who was the biggest surprise to you two? I mean as far as who you were able to get to help out and all.



Steve-Kyle Hebert probably. He's a professional voice actor, so he normally collects a real salary to do things like this. He's such a great sport tho! It seems like he's always happy to do quick one-off narration for way less than he deserves for it.


Greg-Nobody was really a surprise, but I was really excited about everyone who appeared. Everyone who appears on this album is a friend of mine, so the album is a celebration of the friendship I have with all of these people. Obviously, Kyle Hebert appearing is huge thing for me because Dragonball Z is my favorite show of all time, so having someone who was such a big part of my childhood appearing on this record is awesome. And Tom Pappas has actually played on Conan with Superdrag, so it's cool to say that at least somebody in Lipstick ended up on the show! Phil Shouse and Billy Morris were the two most difficult ones to get on the record because they have the busiest schedules, so it's a testament to my friendship with those guys that I was able to get them to appear. I asked Phil to play on the record before I knew anything about his gig with Gene Simmons, so the fact that there's now only one degree of separation between Kiss and Lipstick is also pretty cool. But yeah, I'm honestly excited about every single person who appeared, because I got to make music with people I love. It's exciting.



Andy-Cool, I love that answer Greg. As a follow-up to that question, (production-wise) how did things go in the studio when it came to "Lipstick II"?



Greg-"Lipstick II" was an interesting album to record. We started by recording drums in our practice space with a drummer friend...



Steve-Jeremy Edge.



Greg-Right, Jeremy Edge, in Nashville. We then sent them off to Greg Loyacano (Gregor the Terror) in Texas to record because he has a really nice home studio and recording drums in Nashville is stupidly expensive. The rest of the stuff we wanted to record, like guitars and vocals, we realized we could record in Steve's bedroom and get the exact same quality as the professional studio we used for the first album, so we decided to do that. And, because Steve and I have years of producing experience under our belts at this point, the album recorded in Steve's bedroom sounds better than the album recorded in the professional studio!



With the technology today, and with a little creativity, you can make a really good product without needing a studio. Some good mics, a little soundproofing, and a lot of creativity can make an excellent sounding album. Steve ended up moving midway through the recording process (another reason it took so long) and his studio moved form his bedroom into a more proper studio space, but I still like the charm of saying we recorded it in Steve's bedroom.



Steve-A few of the leads (Billy Morris' solo, etc.) were also recorded remotely, but everything else up until mastering was done in my home studio. Whatever guest musician would come in; hang out for an evening; and throw down their parts.



Once we had all the instruments done, Greg and I spent months pouring over things, layering in vocals, mixing it, tweaking it, punching in extra guitar parts where there just weren't quite enough - Cha La credits five lead guitarists; honestly, four of them are mostly just different people doing that huge bend at the beginning!






Andy- As mention in one of my earlier questions, "Lipstick II" has the feel of a laid-back kind of recording. That was your goal heading into the studio right?

Greg-The first album was very much a statement. "We are Lipstick, we are here to bring back classic rock n roll, and we sound like this!" The songs were structured around making that statement, so there was a really strong cohesiveness to the product.



The second album was always meant to be an expansion on the first and wasn't meant to drastically change things. Instead of coming in with a really focused direction, it was more looking at the list of songs we had written and deciding, "Okay, which of these do we want to go on the new album?"



Steve-We're still going for a hard rock sound, but we didn't feel as much need to establish our rock cred in this album. We know who we are and don't need to prove it to anyone. So we focused on writing about what's important to us and just having a good time and encouraging everybody else to do the same!



Andy-Yeah, I can see that.  As the weather is starting to settle down some do you think that Lipstick might be hitting the road? Possibly even playing any dates up north? Like say Ohio? (Hint Hint)



Steve-We should! C'mon, Greg! Let's tour!



Greg-We're making our plans for the rest of the year right now, and I would love to come home to Cleveland to do a show. There aren't any plans to hit the road just yet, but we may do a few out-of-town shows to help bring Lipstick love to the masses.



Andy-That would be cool. Where do you see the band being at this point next year?



Steve-Signed and making a bajillion dollars touring the world?



Greg-Gearing up for the release of "Lipstick III".



Andy-Word has it that you are currently in talks with a few labels. How is that going?



Greg-You know, in today's music market, most bands aren't making any money except for huge huge bands or bands that tour nonstop and never get to spend time with their loved ones. However, having a label behind you allows for you to spend less time marketing yourself and more time working on the art. So, in hopes to alleviate some of the pressure from us having to do all that stuff, we're talking with a few people to see what our options our. We've been a self-sufficient indie band for so long, it'd be weird giving up some control but it would give us a lot more time to focus on writing new songs and coming up with fun ideas for shows, so it'd be nice to have that happen. But at the moment, we're currently talking with a couple major labels, but we're not assuming that we're definitely getting a deal, and we're not assuming that just because we get a deal means we're going to explode overnight. I know tons of people who have gotten record deals and who are working day jobs now, and I know some dudes who currently have a record deal and are still working day jobs.



But as far as how the talks are going? I'm confident in the product that we have, but you never know what somebody else is gonna think. I'm just focused on producing quality product and not worrying too much whether this label likes it or this label doesn't. "Bat Out of Hell" got rejected tons of times, so I'm more focused on having pride in my work than worrying about negotiation success. And I think that peace of mind is what we need to stay happy and successful.
Andy-Very true. I hear you have a side-project Steve. Mind telling us about that?




Steve-Man!

I've got a lot of side projects, really. The goal is to be the Mike Patton of weird, punk bassists. The project Greg mentioned was "We'd Sell Out For $50 Bucks". It was a one-off project I did with the drummer from To Slay Zombie Newton back in college. The goal was to do simple, "rail spike in the eye of the establishment" Christian punk. So over the course of a week, the two of us recorded twenty some pro-socialism, pro-anarchy, curse-laden songs about how great Jesus is.

We sold zero copies.

A few years later, I spent a weekend hanging out with him again and we recorded another 11 of these things in a day. That also sold zero copies. I don't know if we even burned more than two. Anyway, it turns out that it's super-easy to write punk songs when your only constraints are "no more than two verses" and "things you actually think, but - like - a dumbed down caricature of that". So I've got another stack of songs, and I'm trying to get the band back together by the end of February for RPM/FAWM.




Andy-Well, I would love to hear all of it! As you know, Heavy Metal Time Machine (or at least last yours truly) likes to let artists have the last word. What did I miss that you two would like to address? Words of wisdom for your fans? Want to defend yourself for liking potato salad? The microphone is all yours.... 



Steve-Hey, potato salad is delicious!

Greg-I'm actually not a fan of potato salad. That was a line that Steve wrote, but it was really funny so I'm glad it's in the song. Steve's not as into Vegemite as I am, so there were bits and pieces of compromise in that song. But as far as a final message? Be excellent to each other. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Andy. You rock! God bless!


Andy-Thanks guys and good luck with everything!



*For our younger readers, "Teenage Girlfriend" brings up a serious topic that I would like to address. When you are young and first fall in love it feels like the world stops and there will never be anything like it ever again. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten that relationship does not last. As I have told my own children, heartbreak doesn't last forever and you will likely dates a lot of toads along the way before you meet your own prince/princess charming. Again, nine times out of ten that does not happened up you are LONG out of high school so PLEASE do not think that your first breakup is the end of the world! Also, true love means your significant other will wait on you to consummate your  relationship. Never EVER let anyone pressure you into something that you are uncomfortable with and don't mistake sex for love! I'm not hear to preach to you, but having sex when you are not ready can lead to a world of complications. It's not just that you can get pregnant or that you can catch something. Every-time you cross that road with someone new you lose a little bit of what makes you special. It's old fashioned to suggest it, but saving yourself for someone who really loves you for who you are on the inside (and treasures that aspect of you of above all!) is a magical thing. To this day (and I'm almost 44 years old here) I regret giving away my virginity so haphazardly. I equated sex with love and it is was the furthest thing from the truth. It took me a long time to forgive myself, but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't time travel back to the past to do it all over again if given the chance! As with everything in life, choose wisely as you move forward and grow.    

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Stricken-Set 1.0

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Based in Wilmington, North Carolina and comprised of Brad McClanahan (vox), Will Baker (guitar), Scott Hollis (bass), and Josh "Wham" Wamsley (drums), Stricken is a riff-heavy hard rock/heavy metal band that was just formed last year. The six-track EP, "Set 1.0", serves as the group's debut outing and this hook-laden release brings to mind a lot of different bands like Deftones, Pantera, Quicksand, Helmet, (early) Tool, and (weirdly enough) even post-Black album Metallica! With each of the EP's six numbers cleverly-sporting a one-word title (with my fave of the bunch being the last two cuts, "Sick" and "Goast"!), "Set 1.0" works especially well because it comes in, smashes everything up, and doesn't overstay it's welcome. For Stricken this is a good first start (especially when you consider how young the group is) and I look forward to hearing more from the band down the line.

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Free Music Monday: Nervous Jerk-Ditch Life

Self-Release/Independent
2016

Nervous Jerk are a New Zealand-based band with a couple of releases to it's name. The group's latest one, "Ditch Life", came out in late December of 2016 and it features 12 fucking fantastic slabs of garage-worthy punk with various sub-genres (pop punk, power pop,etc.) tossed in for good measure. Available as name-your-own-price download by clicking here, "Ditch Life" is snotty and a little bit ugly. In other words I absolutely LOVE it!




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Free Metal Monday: Crusie Forever-God Is A Triphead

Actually album artwork is rated 18+


Self-Release/Independent
2017

Available as a name-your-price digital download (and psychedelic to it's core!), "God Is A Triphead" is a new EP from UK acid rockers, Cruise Forever. It's guitar-centered, warm, welcoming and (just like the artwork that it sports!) it teases at better things to come!

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Seth-Apocrypha


Minotauro Records
2017

Boston's innovative rock band Seth, initial birthed in the early seventies and as always lead by founder/chief songwriter (and unsung hero!) Gerald "Gerry" Stafford (vocals, guitars, keys, mandolin and programming), originally appeared on these pages last year. Having previously covered Seth's 2CD complete discography, "Apocrypha" (unexpectedly) showed up in my mail just the other day, saints be praised and all that jazz. All of which goes to show that good things come along when you least expect it. And by "good" I actually mean great, "Apocrypha" being the kind of release that deserves much praise and recognition! Of course I am getting ahead of things (a common problem in these parts). My apologies to you, our dear readers. How about if we rewind the tape and at least do the name game? Bassist Wayne Guffey and drummer Billy Lee Bedwell now serve as the back up to (the) near-brilliant Gerry Stafford. The very definition of a power trio, Seth performs like a well-oiled veteran rock band. One with passion and fire. One with a renewed sense of purpose and direction. Even with new players involved they remain untouchable. Unwrapping this disc was like anticipating the long return of a honored and well-respected loved one. With talent that simply cannot be matched by today's rock bands, Seth covers a lot of territory between point A and point B. Rockers and jams, metal moments and a touch or two of sensitivity. All of it is brought to life by perseverance. "Apocrypha" is Gerry Stafford's dream and it is his vision. We are just thankful to have been invited along for the journey. Let's "Relive the glory days!" and come on and "Kick out the jams you glorious sons of bitches!" the album says, even as it slows down for a number like "Love's Hollowed Ground". This smooth love song (genuinely) reminds me of yesteryear, growing up to the sweet notes that came from AM rock radio and easy listening channels. Only a band like Seth, one as creative/one so extremely-clever, could make a love song powerful enough to move mountains. And they do it all with words. That is only one number, one of seven in fact. There is so much more to admire about "Apocrypha". Opening up strong with the progressive heavy rock and roll of  "I’m No Saint" (a garage rock version of Rush perhaps?), Seth's new album picks right up where the band left off in the eighties. Along with Blue Öyster Cult (yes!) and the aforementioned Rush (who I can take or leave), Seth's ingenious sound combines (all of the best parts of) classic rock, proto-metal, doom, folk, hard rock, blues rock, vintage heavy metal, and (amazingly enough) that whole AOR/easy listening bit! With it's mashup of hard rock, doom, and progressive rock, "There And Now" recalls some of the all-time greats of the seventies' classic rock scene while simultaneously hinting at the group's flirtation with the (early) N.W.O.B.M. movement. The fuzzy hard rock cut "Semaj" does the exact same thing, with both numbers ("Samaji" and "There And Now") brilliantly bringing to mind the cool (if sadly overlooked) N.W.O.B.H.M. band, Hammerhead . Somewhat disconnected and occasional feeling as if it's two or more separate parts of a couple of different numbers that has been crammed tightly into one track, "Free World" is next and while I like the heavy back end of it and the trippy vocal effect, Seth could have smoothed out it's edges. Those small criticisms aside, "Free World" is just a small bump in the road and (at their "worst") Seth still maneuvers it's vehicle like no one else I know. Second to last number "The First 29 Years", played with passion and precision by this heartfelt trio, is a slick take on Led Zeppelin...if (and only if) the Led Zep fellas had understood the finer points (and overwhelming appeal) of American rock. With the instrumental jam "Quadragy" closing things out on a positive note, "Apocrypha" easily grades out as a A-/B+ recording and adds to the legacy of this cult Boston band!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lipstick-Lipstick II

Self-Release/Independent
2017

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...rock and roll fanatics of all ages. May I please have your attention for just one moment. Thank you. Believe it or not, it's been nearly a year and a half since we last heard from Nashville's (ever so fun!) Lipstick. Yes, I do hear all of you and I completely agree with your assessment. It is rather shocking isn't it? I mean we all know that is far too long to have to wait for new music from Lipstick. When you think back to how good this band's (highly-recommend) 2015 self-titled debut album was it does make you want to march down to Tennessee and say "Come on Lipstick guys! What's the holdup?". Hey, I understand the frustration folks. But, before we get out the pitchforks and torches why don't we hear Greg Troyan and Steve Smith (the creative core of this positive and uplifting band) out? Or better yet, why don't we let the band's new album do the talking? OK? OK!  Picking up where their first disc left off (while simultaneously pushing the envelope more towards the wild and crazy/sunny side of life!), "Lipstick II" finds this (one-time or is it just part-time?) "theatrical glam rock/sleazy hard & heavy"* band flexing it's creative muscles and trying out new things (quite successfully I might add!). Naturally, Lipstick went into the studio with the same idea as last time around. They would rock the joint in a big (bubbly!) way and have as much fun as possible doing it! To that end, "Lipstick II" is a success story. I might take issue with the running order of the tracks (see my note below entitled "Track List"), but I have no objections whatsoever as far as the music goes! With the help of some top-notch studio musicians, talented main-members Greg Troyan (most of the lead vocals and a little guitar playing) and Steve Smith (lead and backing vocals, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, and even the trumpet!) played around with things like pop-punk, power-pop, glitter/glam rock, classic rock, hard rock, pop rock, pop metal, hair metal, blues-rock, and ska. Yes, you read that last part correctly. I said ska! On the 15-track "Lipstick II" (which you can snag here), Greg and Steve throw caution to the wind as they let down their hair and let loose!! Mind you, "Lipstick II" is still rock and roll and it is still heavy metal. Those foundations still remain in place. This is simply a case where a heavy rock/heavy metal band (wisely) forgoes the usual limitations that are placed on them and to great effect. Of course a big part of the thanks has to go to the previously-mentioned (huge list of) guest musicians that were involved with the recording process. Much like it's predecessor, "Lipstick II" finds Greg and Steve (two fine and true gentlemen!) surrounded by equally-skilled studio musicians. These talented "extras" not only helped fill in the gaps (as it were), but they add to the overall (natural) flow of the pair's new album. Like the first album, "Lipstick II" also has three songs with the word "rock" in the title and it has a Christmas-themed number. Otherwise, "Lipstick II" is a new creature all it's own. As suggested it is more laid back than Lipstick's 2015 debut, but it is also more fun. In a way it is very care free and spontaneous, "Lipstick II" coming across as if it was almost a free-form creation. However you want to slice and dice it (as far as the way that it was forged in the studio and then sent packing to your eardrums), Lipstick's new album is experimental and it defies easy classification. All the same, "Lipstick II" is slick and extremely cool. The thing is, what good is it to have cool music if you don't have clever and insightful lyrics to back it up? Thankfully Lipstick has that part covered. On their sophomore outing the band tackles issues like anime conventions, mosh pit bullies, domestic violence, teenage romances, and (most importantly!) traveling in time in order to witness the very first Christmas! And I for one couldn't be happier with the result!! Sure, it might sound silly on paper. With subjects like Sailor Moon, dancing dinosaurs, and what constitutes good eats**, "Lipstick II" could easily be looked at as if it were a ship lost on the ocean, unsure of what direction to take next. Dig deeper and you'll find (essential!) moments like "Love of Some Kind". Written by Greg and Steve in order that Greg could use it as a means to propose to his finance, "Love of Some Kind" is sincere and honest. Whenever you have a song with that kind of raw emotional attachment it really does transcend to a new level. Much more than a silly and stupid love song, "Love of Some Kind" is the sound of one man pouring out his heart to a woman that has been a saving point in his life. While the magic left when she walked out on the kids and I some six or so years back, my ex-wife saved me from the same kind of self-imposed destruction. Having interviewed lead singer Greg Troyan prior to the release of this perfect piece, "Love of Some Kind" tells a much longer tale than the actual lyrics allow for, but as with many important works it helps if you can read between the lines with your eyes opened to the truth. Time being what it is, "Lipstick II" could easy use up all of mine (and I suspect yours) if I was to go number by number, deeper into the meaning of other songs that I enjoy on this album. As a gift of sorts, I'll spare the lot of you and just close with this final bit. If you know and love Lipstick as I do, "Lipstick II" is a easy recommendation. If you are new to the band....well, either album would do as far as introductions are concerned. With the band's 2015 debut album you will get a streamlined view of this hard & heavy/pop metal outfit. It's a bit more serious than "Lipstick II", but I would argue that it isn't as much fun. There are similar aspects to both releases, but it should probably be noted that there are several songs on this recording that were left over from the first one and they were left off because they didn't quite fit in with the direction of "Lipstick". Of course either way you go you won't go wrong...


*Those were the exact words that I used to describe Lipstick on their debut recording. That band still exists on the quirky "Lipstick II", but they seem to be way more at ease this second time around. 

**Odes to food are one thing, but when you go and mention potato salad...well, we need to talk. Created by Satan himself in order to poison and deprive me of fully appreciating our mashable friend, potato salad is nothing short of unholy and it makes me question the supposed "goodness" of this Tennessee outfit! 

 Track List:
  
I'm going to be honest about something here. The first time I listed to this album I liked it, but it did feel as if something was off about it. After setting it aside for a day I went back to it. The same thing happened so I paused it and decided to come back to it later. After hitting play I not only listened to the rest of the tracks on the CD, but (as I had put it on loop) I listened to the first half of the songs again (only they were on the back end this time). It was at that point that I realized two things. The first thing was that the track listing was off on "Lipstick II" and that it needed to be fixed. The second thing I realized is just how good the disc is. Playing it from the half way part like that gave it a more even flow and a better sense of direction. It made an OK album absolutely slamming! Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that I know better than the band when it comes to the track listing (especially seeing as I have a tremendous amount of respect for Greg and Steve!), but I do feel as if I should call it like I see it. 

PS: No, I have not sat down and worked out where I would put each song. Having listened to "Lipstick II"  about four times now (and loving it more with each spin!) I've found myself digging it as a whole. The songs are super fun and upbeat and it makes me look at Lipstick in a whole new light. I offered my opinion as a preemptive-response to other people who might feel the same thing when they hear the album for the first time.

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