Monday, April 13, 2015

Trouble - "Psalm 9"

Trouble - Psalm 9
1984, Relativity

1. The Tempter
2. Assassin
3. Victim of the Insane
4. Revelation (Life or Death)
5. Bastards Will Pay
6. The Fall of Lucifer
7. Endtime
8. Psalm 9
9. The Tale of Brave Ulysses

Trouble was another of those bands I'd always heard about as a youth but never actually listened to. They'd gotten a reputation for being Christian even though the band itself was not. They were just tired of all the satanic stuff in metal and decided to go the opposite direction. I recently watched a YouTube video were Scott Waters (from Ultimatum and No Life Til recommended this disc in his Christian picks (though he admitted the band wasn't really Christian). So I searched You Tube to see if someone had posted the album and lo and behold, I heard some pretty awesome metal. A quick trip to Amazon later and it was on my iphone. Trouble are usually referred to as doom metal which is characterized by slow riffing - made popular by Black Sabbath. There are some slow, doomy parts on Psalm 9 but most of it is just pure, awesome heavy metal. Be sure to enjoy the awesome guitar work of Bruce Franklin who would later go on to form Under Midnight. I can't believe it's taken me this long to check this out. It's definitely a metal classic that should be in every metal-head's collection.

Useless Fact: This album is actually self-titled. It wasn't until later pressings that the record company made the title Psalm 9.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Petra - "On Fire!"

Petra - On Fire!
1988, Star Song

1. All Fired Up
2. Hit You Where You Live
3. Mine Field
4. First Love
5. Defector
6. Counsel of the Holy
7. Somebody's Gonna Praise His Name
8. Open Book
9. Stand in the Gap
10. Homeless Few

Hey kids! It's story time!

A long time ago my cousin and I were really into music. We watched endless hours of MTV, bought tapes by the handfuls (when we could afford it), and generally thought and talked about music 24/7. We had some relatives who we called "holy rollers" because they were Christians and didn't do anything but talk about Jesus 24/7. So one day after church I had said something to my cousin about Skid Row (her favorite band) and she said, "I don't listen to them anymore." I was astounded. She had become a "holy roller." I reminded her that we had vowed never to become those (it didn't work out so well...). At some point she gave me a tape of Petra's On Fire! and I think a Michael Peace tape. I quite enjoyed it at the time and that pretty much kicked off my official entry into the Christian rock world. So when I saw this in a little thrift store on vacation I snatched it straight away.

You know what? It's still pretty dang good. Better, now that I have more of a mind about me to appreciate things. They had embraced an 80's hard rock sound and it totally worked for them. Some of these songs even border on metal (like "Defector" and "Counsel of the Holy"). After this album they would hit their peak with Beyond Belief, but On Fire! is a great album to this day.

Useless Fact: Jon and Dino Elephante produced this disc. You can tell because the production on their albums is always super clean and shiny.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Blind Guardian - "Beyond the Red Mirror"

Blind Guardian - Beyond the Red Mirror
2015, Nuclear Blast

1. The Ninth Wave
2. Twilight of the Gods
3. Prophecies
4. At the Edge of Time
5. Ashes of Eternity
6. Distant Memories
7. The Holy Grail
8. The Throne
9. Sacred Mind
10. Miracle Machine
11. The Grand Parade

My wife got me this album for Valentine's Day. Because nothing says, "I love you" like some progressive power metal! I actually had A Night at the Opera for awhile back in the day but I didn't listen to it as much. I think it was just too epic at the time. However, after getting into a lot of symphonic metal last year I decided to check these guys out again and surprise, surprise, really enjoyed them. I love Hansi Kursch's vocals. He has a sound all his own and you can always tell it's him no matter what he sings. This is a concept album about... something... gods? Mirrors? The Holy Grail? Chief? McCloud? Ahem... anyway...It's supposed to be a sequel to one of their older albums but I can't make heads or tails of it. I particularly like the more melancholy (yet still heavy) "Distant Memories." I also like "Sacred Mind" a lot - the one where they sing about Xanadu. I have no idea what that has to do with the story. Thankfully, the music is rockin' and appropriately grandiose.

Useless Fact: Hansi Kursch did a couple albums with Jon Scheaffer of Iced Earth called Demons & Wizards.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Beastie Boys - Solid Gold Hits

Beastie Boys - Solid Gold Hits
2005, Capitol

1. So What'cha Want
2. Brass Monkey
3. Ch-Check It Out
4. No Sleep Til Brooklyn
5. Hey Ladies
6. Pass the Mic
7. An Open Letter to NYC
8. Root Down
9. Shake Your Rump
10. Intergalactic
11. Sure Shot
12. Body Movin'
13. Triple Trouble
14. Sabotage
15. Fight For Your Right

So last year I got into Tom Petty starting with a best of and I think this year it will be the Beastie Boys' turn. I picked this up, much like the Tom Petty one, because I realized I liked a lot of their songs. I used to own To The 5 Boroughs... once. I can't remember why I got rid of it. The songs here are not in chronological order which can be both good and bad depending on the artist. I don't mind here. Not much else to say other than I really enjoy this more than I thought I would. I'll probably be picking up some more Beastie Boys in time.

Useless Fact: Ready for another weird association? Beastie Boys and Metroid on the old Nintendo. See I had a friend that had License to Ill and I went to his house right after renting Metroid. Somehow the two got linked.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The O.C. Supertones - "Supertones Strike Back"

The O.C. Supertones - Supertones Strike Back
1997, BEC

1. Supertones Strike Back
2. The Grace Flood
3. Resolution
4. Perseverance of the Saints
5. Like No One Else
6. Louder Than the Mob
7. Unite
8. Shut Up and Pray
9. Tonight
10. Little Man
11. Caught Inside
12. So Great a Salvation

I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the Supertones' debut so much I went out and go their sophomore album. I don't think this one is quite as much fun as the debut. It just didn't get into my brain like the first one. One of the things that annoy me is the "I'm not worthy" type lyrics. It's one thing to be humble and acknowledge God's grace, it's another thing to constantly focus on how "unworthy" you are. I think the lyrics tip the balance here - focusing too much on the singer. It's not terrible by any means, but I don't like it near as much as the debut.

Useless Fact: The beginning riff of "Supertones Strike Back" is lifted from Metallica's "Master of Puppets" I believe.

Friday, March 13, 2015

MxPx - "Life in General"

MxPx - Life In General
1996, Tooth & Nail

1. Middlename
2. My Mom Still Cleans My Room
3. Do Your Feet Hurt?
4. Sometimes You Have To Ask Yourself
5. The Wonder Years
6. Move To Bremerton
7. New York To Nowhere
8. Andrea
9. Your Problem My Emergency
10. Chick Magnet
11. Today Is In My Way
12. Sorry So Sorry
13. Doing Time
14. Correct Me If I'm Wrong
15. Christalena
16. Destroyed By You
17. Southbound

I was a pretty big MxPx fan in my mid-teens. Mostly because that's what there was after the scene transitioned from metal to alternative and punk. Their music never quite stuck with me and even though they've been putting out albums for years I've never been interested in checking them out. Life In General is certainly their best record up until that point. Pokinatcha wasn't very good except for a few songs though Teenage Politics improved the band's sound immensely. For their third outing they've honed their sound to a nice sheen. Their production is good - with a nice meaty guitar tone and little in the way of ear-piercing feedback. The songs retain a lot of their speed but have more commercial hooks as well. A good balance if you ask me. The lyrics are laughably teenagery, but I can't fault them too much because they were teenagers at the time. It just reminds me of when I was a teenager. Though I certainly hope they've matured lyrically since then. I will say that "Middlename" is probably one of my favorite songs of all time.

I was going to see MxPx at Kingdom Bound one year but their show got rained out. They didn't even set up their merch table or anything. I was bummed.

Useless Fact: I can play several songs on this album on the guitar. One of the few times I can pick out the chords by ear. Not that that would be very hard.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Model Engine - "The Lean Years Tradition"

Model Engine - The Lean Years Tradition
1997, 5 Minute Walk

1. Hang You Upside Down
2. Scarred But Smarter
3. Reeperbahn
4. Suture
5. Weathervanes
6. Walking Wounded
7. Anonymous F
8. Halcyon Days
9. Encore
10. Rosinante

I've always considered 1997 one of the worst years for music (at least for me personally). Though now that I know that Model Engine's (formerly Black Eyed Sceva) one and only album came out that year I might have to reconsider. If you liked Black Eyed Sceva's two albums I can't imagine you would love this one as well. There are some differences, however. The sound I think is a little bit dirtier and grungier here with the guitars taking on a distinctly fuzzier tone. Also, while the lyrics are still excellent, they're not quite as transparent as Sceva. That's not a complaint, by the way, I love the lyrics on this album. I'm just a little sad that I could have been listening to this album for years and years. If only I would have gotten it sooner...

Useless Fact: The "F" in "Anonymous F" stands for exactly what you think it stands for.