nu metal

REVIEW: Iommi – Iommi (2000)

“Like many projects featuring multiple singers, the album called Iommi is a mixed bag but with more gems than turds.”

 

IOMMI – Iommi (2000 Virgin)

Iommi is the first released solo album by Tony Iommi, but actually the third recorded.  The first was 1986’s Seventh Star, released as “Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi”, with Glenn Hughes on vocals.  10 years later, Tony recorded another album with Hughes often referred to as “Eighth Star“, which was released in 2004 (after the drums by Dave Holland were re-recorded by Jimmy Copley) as The 1996 DEP Sessions.  Then finally in 2000, Tony took a page from the successful Santana formula book and did an album with various lead singers called Iommi.

Like many projects featuring multiple singers and assorted musicians, the album called Iommi is a mixed bag, but with more gems than turds.  The guitarist picked an interesting assortment of vocalists, mostly artists big in the 90s.  It’s telling that Tony’s good buddy Glenn Hughes isn’t one of them (though Hughes returned on 2006’s Fused).  Clearly commercial interests were most important when it came to selecting the singers and songs.

The inimitable Henry Rollins gets the enviable opening slot with “Laughing Man (In the Devil Mask)”.  Rollins sounds best with a heavy riff behind him, and this one is pure grunge.  Producer-de-jour Bob Marlette co-wrote almost every song, and there’s little doubt that this is how Iommi acquired its “modern” edge.  Rollins creates a swirl chaotic rock around him, but the riff alone would have sunk without Hank.  Iommi seldom writes such atonal, monotonous guitar parts as “Laughing Man (In the Devil Mask)”.

Skin (Skunk Anansie) is surely one hell of an underrated singer, and her track “Meat” howls.  Iommi’s solos and riffs sound much more like what comes naturally from him.  Then, it’s the unfortunate sound of 90s drum loops and samples.  It’s Dave Grohl’s tune “Goodbye Lament”.  Because as soon as one thinks of Iommi or Grohl, we think of drum loops, am I right?  Fortunately Grohl has ex-Sabbath bassist Lawrence Cottle and Queen maestro Brian May on his track.  He plays the drums when they finally do kick in.  Three of those four guys played on Headless Cross!  The drum loops suck and date the song to a certain period in time, but fortunately Grohl knows how to write good melodies so it’s not a total bust.

Phil Anselmo (Pantera) takes the very Sabbathy “Time is Mine”.  That riff sounds like it may have been later used on an actual Black Sabbath record.  The track simmers with fury, then Phil lets it rip loose.  The only way to make Sabbath heavier than Sabbath is to include a singer like Anselmo.  Drumming is Seattle legend Matt Cameron.

The expressive Serj Tankian (System of a Down) lets his pipes have their way with “Patterns”, amidst more of those annoying samples.  It absolutely sounds more System than Sabbath, which is fine since both are heavier than fuck.

The one guy that pulls off a truly Black Sabbath-sounding song is the guy you’d least expect:  Billy Corgan.  Yet his “Black Oblivion” comes closest to the spirit of classic Black Sabbath, in terms of length and epic riffage.  Billy plays bass and guitar on the track as well — what a phenomenal bassist!  (The drummer, Kenny Aronoff, knew Corgan from the 1998 Smashing Pumpkins tour on which he played, and then Aronoff went on to play on two more Iommi solo discs.)

The Cult’s Ian Astbury makes Iommi sound like — who else? — The Cult!  Brian May returns for some guitar (with Cottle and Cameron on bass and drums).  The Cult rarely employ such monolithic riffs, but the chorus is pure Cult.

“Flame On!  I used to bleed like a suicide mother,
Flame On!  And now I breath in this dirty black summer,
Flame On!  I bought the truth in the mouth of my brother,
Flame On!  I used to bleed like a suicide motherfucker.”

Shame about the damn loops, like something discarded from Chinese Democracy.  They also infect “Just Say No to Love” featuring the late Peter Steele of Type O Negative.  Like Astbury, he makes Iommi sound like his band, which already sounded a bit like a Black Sabbath parody.

The biggest disappointment on the album is second to last.  “Who’s Fooling Who” is a virtual Black Sabbath reunion, with Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward returning to the fold.  On bass is Lawrence Cottle, making it 100% Sabbath alumni, 3/4 original.  And it’s easily the most boring song on the album.  The best thing about it is Bill Ward, the first drummer who didn’t sound like a session guy.  A muffled Ozzy phones in his part, but Bill puts some effort into composing the percussion.  The best part is the instrumental burnout.

And then, a surprising finish:  Billy Idol, with a monstrous “Into the Night”.  Idol should consider doing heavy riffy metal like this more often — he’s good at it.  Though he effectively snarls his way through the slow riff, his punky side comes out when things get fast.  The contrast between riffs and tempos is half the fun.

With Iommi freshly consumed and digested anew, it’s obvious that good portion of what you heard was purposefully geared towards the nu-metal Ozzfest crowd.  The selection of musicians was clearly slanted post-80s, but it’s the loops and samples that really blow.  The blame must be laid on producer Bob Marlette, especially considering some of the loops sounded exactly like another band he produced:  Rob Halford’s Two.  The whole thing sounds like a “product”, though at least with some pretty incredible riffs behind it.

3/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Scream (2011 tour edition)

OZZY OSBOURNE – Scream (2011 tour edition)

If you liked Ozzy’s previous album, the quite good Black Rain, then I think you might like Scream even better. As everybody knew, it was Ozzy’s first new studio album of original material without Zakk Wylde since he joined the band. (Jerry Cantrell did play on the perfectly awful covers album Under Cover.) Many wanted to know, “Is Gus G any good?”

Yup.

Ozzy’s never had a bad guitar player, and Gus G is a speed demon. I don’t know alot about the guy, but he seems to emulate Zakk with those “Wylde” bends, yet he also has this fast neo-classical vibe. If you hear that Ozzy live EP that came around the same time (iTunes Festival 2010) you will find that he really nails a Zakk-like vibe on the old Ozzy stuff. On the Sabbath classics, he does justice to Iommi’s chunky riffs. And he’s fast…really fast. In other words, he is kind of the best of all worlds. I’m not saying he’s better than Zakk, because personality goes a long way.  I’m just telling you what I hear.

SCREAM_0002Songwise, Ozzy wrote the album again with Canadian producer Kevin Churko, with some co-writes by Adam Wakeman. Churko also played drums even though Tommy Clufetos was credited. I really like Scream, and I can’t say there’s anything weak on it.  I’ve had a chance to live with it for a few years and I still enjoy it.  Maybe a couple filler tracks here and there, but nothing I hated. Most of the rhythms are chunky and staggered, gated like some nu-metal band but still well within the realm of Oz. The excellent “Soul Sucker” and “Diggin’ Me Down” in particular emphasize this modern sound.  I happen to like both songs a lot.

Yet there are surprises on here. I wouldn’t call them “ballads” per se, but “Time” and “Life Won’t Wait” change the pace. “Time” re-emphasizes Ozzy’s old love of the Beach Boys with its lush “ooh, ooh” backing vocals. “Life Won’t Wait” is a softer, bass-driven mid-tempo rocker with an amazing chorus as only Ozzy can deliver. The bass line really reminds me of another song, “Take a Picture” by Filter.

The rest of the album is heavy, maybe Ozzy’s heaviest. At times it reminded me of Zombie, at others, Sabbath. In general though it is identifiably Ozzy. “Let Me Hear You Scream,” the lead single, is a fast heavy Ozzy rocker designed for firing up the concert crowd. While Scream does not worm its way into your noggin the way Blizzard of Ozz did, it’s still a pretty good record. Ozzy seems very proud of it, and rightly so.

Lyrically, Ozzy’s in familiar territory. His lyrics to me are always underrated (whether he writes them or not). On Scream, he has tracks for his beloved audience as always: “Let Me Hear You Scream” and the touching outro “I Love You All”. On others he’s talking about religion. “Diggin’ Me Down” asks the question, how long must we wait for Jesus Christ to come back? “Crucify” seems to be about crooked preachers again, or perhaps just those who prey upon the desperate.

SCREAM_0004This being Ozzy, a “tour edition” was released not too long after I bought the original. In fact, I bought Scream as a digital download just to get the bonus track “One More Time”, a heart-racing rocker with a great tempo. I also bought this album on Japanese import to get the “Jump The Moon” (not really exceptional) bonus track. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I should have learned from the past album, Black Rain. It too had bonus tracks for different markets, and it too was reissued with all bonus tracks intact on some kind of tour edition.  So Ozzy’s done it again, with this “tour edition” designed to promote his American tour. You can tell by the missing black flag, now replaced with an American banner. Ozzy has also stuck on a “new” song called “Hand of the Enemy” which to me wasn’t as good as the rest of the material on the album. Besides that, there are four live tracks: “Let Me Hear You Scream”, “Bark At The Moon”, “No More Tears” and the Sabbath classic “Fairies Wear Boots”.  This is the second released live version of “Let me Hear You Scream”, though this is the first version available on a physical release.   All four live tracks are great, with Ozzy’s newest band playing competently with their own flavour. Best of the live tracks is “Fairies Wear Boots”, on which Gus G perfectly captures the guitar riff. Plus it’s a song that Ozzy plays less frequently, so that’s a bonus.

I also bought this album on double vinyl. The vinyl edition omits the live songs, but includes an exclusive single edit of “Life Won’t Wait”. So in total, I ended up with Scream four times!  (I gave the Japanese import to my friend Peter.)

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Judas Priest – Demolition (2001 Japanese version)

PRIEST WEEK

Its PRIEST WEEK!  
Monday:  Rocka Rolla (1974)
Tuesday: Priest…Live! (1987)

Wednesday: Metal Works 73-93 (1993)


JUDAS PRIEST – Demolition (2001 Victor Japan)

1997:  Judas Priest thudded back into stores with Jugulator, their first without Halford.  It underwhelmed me, and I had to wait four more years for Judas Priest with Tim “Ripper” Owens to finally return again in 2001 with Demolition.  Jugulator was a mixed bag and I hoped for more on the lineup’s second album.  I was excited; according to my journal I played my copy three times in the first 24 hours.  It doesn’t indicate how many of those plays happened in the record store!

As a die hard fan, I had a lot riding on the first album with Ripper, Jugulator. It was a let down, probably even more so since the new singer was so damn good!  The live album that followed, ’98 Live Meltdown, won me over in a big way, the Jugulator songs being much better live.  Ripper had an amazing voice with power to spare, but the lyrics (which he did not write) were juvenile and the music was a tad monotonous. Demolition is marginally better lyrically, and much improved musically.

The winner of Worst Lyric Award 2001 was “Cyberface”.  As I have stated before, I generally do not like songs about the internet! “Don’t access the site/or beware his megabyte/no virus scan/detects the man”.  I’m guessing Glenn just got high-speed at his house or something.  This is a low point, but on some tracks we’re getting back to respectability!

The sound and production of the album was still too 1990’s in style. The guitars are good and chunky, the bass, usually lacking on Priest albums, is in your face, and Scott Travis is seriously kickin’ it on the drum kit. The guitars and vocals sound a tad too processed, though. A little too much tinkering with the effects racks. Ripper’s not screaming as much as he used to. I imagine his voice was already starting to wear, considering the great job he did on tour. Still, he rips it out for a couple tracks and it’s very welcome.

Songwriting-wise, the band are coming up with much more interesting riffs and songs than last time.  Perhaps Jugulator suffered from lack of variety.  On Demolition we run the gamut from fast thrash (“Machine Man”) to groove (“One on One”) to ballads (“Close to You”).  At 13 songs, I think Demolition could have stood for some editing.  Lose “Cyberface” and “Feed on Me”.  What you’d be left with would have been a strong collection of songs.  The truth is that a handful of tunes, like “Bloodsuckers” and “Metal Messiah” could have been on a Halford-era album.

PRIEST_0004Elsewhere there are still the modern nu-metal touches that I never liked too much.  The guitar part in “Devil Digger” is a good example, as is the rap-like delivery of Owens on certain parts of certain songs.  But Ripper didn’t write the songs.  Don’t blame him.

There’s only one tune that Ripper had a writing credit on, which is the Japanese bonus track “What’s My Name”.  This is the only song in Priest history with a Ripper Owens writing credit. Live, Mr. Owens often introduced the Priest classic “The Ripper” by inciting the crowd to yell his name.  “What’s my name?” Ripper would ask the crowd.  That’s where the title comes from, and it’s a pretty good song.  This is one I’d been hunting for, for years.  I’ve bought Demoltion three times now.   First was the regular CD, then a European digipack with two B-sides*, and finally this Japanese edition.

The worst thing about Demolition is the nondescript cover.  Mark Wilkinson must have been too busy drawing new Eddies for the reunited Iron Maiden or something, because this cover is by L-Space design instead.  And it sucks.  Not that Judas Priest have always had the greatest album covers (Stained Class, anyone?) but this sucks.  At least the Japanese version came with a sticker sheet of the new Priest logo.

Anyhow, I really do like this album.  The Ripper era of Priest was uneven, and although Demolition is overly long it does contain enough Priest metal to salve the soul.

3.5/5 stars

PRIEST_0001* The two B-sides were the ’98 re-recordings of “Rapid Fire”, and “Green Manalishi”.  “Rapid Fire” is thrashed up with additional lyrics, and “Green Manalishi” is slowed down to a grind.  These were both originally released on the 1998 Japanese CD single for “Bullet Train”, which I already have.  Therefore my digipack version of Demolition will be passed on to another rock fan.

Digipack version of Demolition

Digipack version of Demolition

Part 247: Her Royal Majesty

RECORD STORE TALES Part 247:  Her Royal Majesty

I never forgot this one, but I’ll let my journal tell the story from the perspective of “then”…

Date: 2004/08/12 21:36

Today sucked ass.

First of all, they installed this router at work, so we can’t use anything but the 10 sites they prescribe.  Everything else is off limits.  So, no more Google at work.  Fuckers.

OH!  By the way, I’m in a real bad mood.

This girl comes in.  Friend of Matt’s.  She’s a totally unpleasant human being.  She wanted to exchange a Deftones import she bought a month ago.  [The CD was Deftones Live (1998) which was pretty rare.]  Our exchange policy is seven days, it says so on the receipt.  We’ll stretch it to 14 without a hassle, but not over a month, even if you’re the friggin’ Pope.

She gave me a real hard time about this.  I’m thinking, “what, you live in Asia?  You can’t get here, or even call here, within seven days?  You bought a CD you didn’t like, so suck it up.  You even previewed it before you bought it (don’t think I forgot that tried it out, at length, in the store beforehand), and you still bought it.  THEN you decided you didn’t like it.  Fuck you.”  That’s what I’m thinking.  What I’m saying is something completely different, about how I can’t really accept a return after this length of time under these circumstances.

She said, “Do you treat everyone this way?”

Yes, I treat everyone the same:  by the fucking rules.  I don’t give anyone special treatment, especially when they try to push me around, like you are doing.

You know, I’m getting so pissed, I can’t even finish.

I can finish now, though.  I remember the very next thing she said was, “When is Matt working?”  In other words, I’ll return this CD when my friend is working, not you.  I explained to her that Matt wouldn’t exchange the CD, because I was Matt’s boss.  She was with her mom, and even her mom told her to drop it and accept the situation.

I also remember that she never came in again, which in my view was a good thing.  She rarely bought anything that she didn’t return, and she made us run around like chickens with our heads cut off, serving her Royal Majesty.  Yeah, I didn’t miss her at all.  In fact I even pre-emptively went to my bosses and said, “If you get a phone call complaining about me, this is what happened.”  I explained what I did and why I did it and for once, they actually took my side.

Her Royal Majesty was just reason #10,137 for me to move on from retail.

Sausagefest XII: The Complete Countdown!

There were some pretty awesome picks this year.  I have to give Scottie props for “Coming Home” by Iron Maiden, from the excellent Final Frontier album.  I found some things a bit surprising, such as the overplayed-on-radio “Black Betty” by Ram Jam, placing so high.

“Thick As A Brick” was the live version, so just over 10 minutes.  Other long bombers included all of “Supper’s Ready” by Genesis, which resulted in a tirade by Phil for just as long, about how much he thinks it sucks!  (And he’s an old-school Marillion fan…surprising.)  And of course there were several Maiden tunes that clock in well over 5 minutes.

For your edification, here is the official Sausagefest XII Countdown:  75 tracks, plus 35 tributes.  One tribute for each person that submitted a list!  110 songs over one weekend!  Awesome.

1 Toronto Tontos Max Webster
2 Long Cool Woman in a Red Dress The Hollies
3 The Grudge Tool
4 Rooster Alice in Chains
5 Supper’s Ready Genesis
6 Papa Was a Rolling Stone The Temptations
7 Mississippi Queen Mountain
8 Black Betty Ram Jam
9 Locomotive Breath Jethro Tull
10 I’m Your Captain Grand Funk Railroad
11 Wasted Years Iron Maiden
12 Low Hanging Fruit Tenacious D
13 Green Eyed Lady Sugarloaf
14 Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix
15 Headlong Flight Rush
16 Roadhouse Blues The Doors
17 Thick as a Brick Jethro Tull
18 Powerslave Iron Maiden
19 Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
20 Trapped Under Ice Metallica
21 Nautical Disaster Tragically Hip
22 No Quarter Led Zeppelin
23 Mr. Blue Sky Electric Light Orchestra
24 The Wizard Black Sabbath
25 Mama Told Me Not To Come Three Dog Night
26 Blackened Metallica
27 Jungle Boogie Kool and the Gang
28 Telegraph Road Dire Straits
29 Sanitarium Metallica
30 Renegade Styx
31 Eulogy of the Damned Orange Goblin
32 Throw Down the Sword Wishbone Ash
33 Electric Worry Clutch
34 The Alabama Song The Doors
35 Rise of the Fenix Tenacious D
36 Livin Thing Electric Light Orchestra
37 The Shape I’m In The Band
38 Mother Danzig
39 The Chain Fleetwood Mac
40 No One Knows Queens of the Stone Age
41 Die Young Black Sabbath
42 Bang Bang Terry Reid
43 Caught Somewhere in Time Iron Maiden
44 Buried Alive Avenged Sevenfold
45 Dream Police Cheap Trick
46 Would Alice in Chains
47 Don’t Fear the Reaper Blue Oyster Cult
48 Zero the Hero Black Sabbath
49 Pool of Booze Volbeat
50 Parabola Tool
51 Why Cant We Be Friends? War
52 Rock and Roll Led Zeppelin
53 While My Guitar Gently Weeps The Beatles
54 Breadfan Budgie
55 Strutter KISS
56 Holy Wars Megadeth
57 Old Man Neil Young
58 Southern Man Neil Young
59 The Pusher Steppenwolf
60 Tempus Fugit Yes
61 Fight Fire With Fire Metallica
62 Kielbasa Tenacious D
63 Green Onions Booker T and the MG’s
64 Weird Beard Fu Manchu
65 Tonight’s the Night Neil Young
66 BYOB System of a Down
67 The Zoo Scorpions
68 As the Years Go By Mashmakhan
69 Toxicity System of a Down
70 Deuce KISS
71 Space Truckin’ Deep Purple
72 South of Heaven Slayer
73 Rocky Mountain Way Joe Walsh
74 Roadie Tenacious D
75 Rock and Roll Motorhead
TRIBUTES
TOM Earache My Eye Cheech and Chong
ERIC Rosanna Toto
BUCKY A Day in the Life WAR
LAMB LORD The Wizard Uriah Heep
LEBRAIN Well You Needn`t Herbie Hancock Quartet
TROY Caught Up in You .38 Special
ERNIE Apocrophon The Sword
SCOTTIE Coming Home Iron Maiden
RYAN Still Counting VolBeat
SEB Demiurge Meshuggah
PHIL Under Black Flags We March Arch Enemy
CHUCK New Fang Them Crooked Vultures
TYLER G. Come on in my Kitchen Robert Johnson
C Time After Time Savage Steel
CHAD She`s a Rainbow The Rolling Stones
DR DAVE Ogre Battle Queen
LOGAN Cowboys From Hell Pantera
GRANT Around the World Red Hot Chili Peppers
WAYNE Inside Looking Out Grand Funk Railroad
CAM Red Hot Mama Funkadelic
AARON High Caliber Consecrator Clutch
JOHN B. I Stay Away Alice in Chains
TAL Dear God XTC
LAMB LAD Kick Out the Jams MC5
ALEX Chicken Strut The Meters
TREVER Volare Dean Martin
FRANK Whiskey in the Jar Metallica
JAGGER Frozen Love Buckingham/Nicks
MARK E. Are You Mine? The Arctic Monkeys
JON K. Stone Deaf Forever Motorhead/Metallica
TYLER W. We Are All on Drugs Weezer
MARK S. People are Strange The Doors
JUSTIN Monsters Blue Oyster Cult
MIKE Monarchy of Roses Red Hot Chili Peppers

The official video