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GUEST REVIEW: Europe – War of Kings (2015) by Jesse A. Jones

For Tommy Morais’ excellent 4/5 star review of this album, click here, and to skip directly to the comment that started it all, click here!

GUEST REVIEW by academic and rock fan “Jesse A. Jones”*

WAR OF KINGSEUROPE – War of Kings (2015 UDR)

The Swedish rock band Europe stormed onto the charts in the mid 1980’s with uplifting keyboard oriented pop rock, written by singer and founder Joey Tempest, a golden fluffy-haired gifted soul.  Then their slide down the charts began.  Albums like Out of This World sold fewer and fewer copies and the band finally broke up in the early 90’s, amid rumours that even their own mothers now preferred The Hives.

Unfortunately for fans and the band, these would be the last great albums Europe would make!  The fact that mainstream rock magazines still praise Europe is shocking nonsense.  It’s hard to believe anyone buys that stupidity!  There has not been a real “Europe” in 26 years!  It’s a conspiracy involving many producers, record label execs, musicians, writers, FIFA and the worldwide media cartel as a whole.  The Bilberbergers know but say nothing, while the Rothschilds remain silent.  I have proof written on the back of a beer mat that in 1994 Matt Groening was forced to rewrite a Futurama episode that obliquely referenced the scandal.  Shadowy elements of the secret world government have stifled independent thought and critical opinions, ensuring we will all remain unquestioning and loyal, to both our governments and rock bands alike!

Well, ladies and gentlemen it is my sworn duty to tell you the truth and I will not be silenced, or my integrity bought for 30 pieces of record company silver!

The problem is the Europe of today has nothing in common with the real group Europe that topped the charts in 1987.  Literally. Committing a conspiracy of great scale, they have been secretly and knowingly touring with an imposter singer since 1989!  Their last horrible and fake albums (lifeless and without soul) were not written by the real Joey Tempest.  Without Joey’s talent and unique abilities, the band is a lost joke; twisted and sad – imagine, it would be like Deep Purple without Nick Simper – just unthinkable!

The truth remains shrouded in mystery.  The only details now known, thanks to a covert informant “C.A.”, is that the imposter Joey forced out the real Joey sometime in 1989, using a complex web of lies and half-truths. Plastic surgeons and vocal coaches helped the fake Joey in his goals, and were paid off for their silence, or disappeared.  Some say that the real reason that the late celebrity plastic surgeon Dr. Fredric Brandt suffered from depression was keeping this whole thing secret.  Then, having successfully replaced Joey without anyone noticing, Europe continued to tour with a new voice and face fronting the band, raking in millions.  It is quite remarkable that very few fans have noticed this imposter.  “Joey’s” voice changed on 1991’s Prisoner’s in Paradise album but the complicit media have either ignorantly or purposely covered it up.  Fans have wondered why Joey’s hair style and hair colour changed on that album, assuming it was just a superficial change.  Little did they know that the head and face behind the hair had also changed! Joey would NEVER let his hair go flat like that! Wake up people!

JOEY THEN NOW

Europe with the imposter have made a semi-successful go of it, edging themselves towards world domination, even placing third in Sweden’s Got Talent in 2013, but for an unknown, sinister purpose.  True fans, distinguishable from the herd by their password ‘Cherokee – marching on the trail of tears’, who know and appreciate the talents of the real Joey, have wondered what happened, but no-one listens.  As for the fake fans, how could YOU do this to the real Joey?  How could YOU not even notice this shadow of a Joey up there on stage singing fake odes to “Carrie”?  Shame on the fans, and most of all shame on the band for not stopping this charade 26 years ago!

Just look at the songs here!  “Children of the Night”.  The real Joey would never have written a song about “children of the night”,  “California 405” is the highway that O.J. Simpson was chased down – a definite clue that there was something more going on here than meets the eye!  Why would Europe specifically reference that notorious highway unless they were implying some sort of wrongdoing behind the scenes?

Just listen to the song “Praise You” on this album.  As if the real Joey would have written “Praise You”!  This rude, obscene imposter has terrible lyrics and evil facial expressions.   He is a demonic devil from hell who only cares for himself, not the fans and certainly not the spirit of the original Joey – with the voice, face and hair of an angel.  The real Joey gave the fans everything he had.  His reward was being ousted by an imposter who now receives all the love and praise from ignorant and deceived “fans” who are too stupid to notice the difference.  His only goal in this world is to lie and fool as many fans as possible while he laughs raking in the money!  No talent, no soul, no voice!  That’s the fake Joey right there.  Just listen to War Of Kings, it’s as if he and the whole band are actively setting out to destroy the affection of the fans and ruin the legacy of the band as a whole.  Well I won’t sit idly by and let this happen! No sir!

Some will say, “Well you are wrong.  His hair and voice change with style and age.”  No.  Look at his eyes.  They are not the same eyes, you can see the yawning chasms of hellfire deep in those pupils.  Joey tried to warn you what was happening.  Read the lyrics to “Stranger on the Track”!  Make sense now?  Joey was warning you that “danger” was on his back and nobody listened.  Joey stood for love and the truth!  Long live love!  Long live the truth!  One day Joey will return and prove this all to be true, with the original angelic voice of Europe!

It is hard though to bear this burden, sometimes even I start to doubt, but then I only have to look down at the words tattooed on my thigh; words of inspiration, words of power, the real Joey’s words and I find the strength to go on, in his name.

Rock now, rock the night
‘Til early in the morning light
Rock now, rock the night
You’d better believe it’s right.

No rating

* Professor Emeritus of Applied Conspiracy at the University of Punkeydoodles Corners and author of ‘Paul Is Dead: The Amazing Beatles Conspiracy’, ‘Lennon Lives! Why John Isn’t Dead’ and ‘George! Satan’s Favorite Beatle’.

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GUEST REVIEW: Van Halen – Tokyo Dome Live in Concert (2015)

NEW RELEASE review by TOMMY MORAIS

“Better late than never or too little too late?”

VH LIVEVAN HALEN – Tokyo Dome Live in Concert (2015 Warner)

It came especially late, but alas we finally have a live Van Halen album featuring David Lee Roth. Tokyo Dome Live in Concert was recorded on March 22 2013 during VH’s last tour. It’s not the band’s first live album as there has been a live Van Hagar release, but it’s the first with Diamond Dave which fans had been asking for, for decades now. This lineup features the Van Halen brothers (of course) Alex and Eddie with David Lee Roth, and Wolfgang Van Halen au lieu of original bassist Michael Anthony. One has to ask “why a live album at this point late in their career?” but it’s better late than never l suppose. Van Halen’s classic lineup and first six albums with DLR from 1978-84 have touched and inspired generations. It’s all-time classic rock, and there are plenty of masterpieces and classics to be found. The band knows this too, as they perform the songs that everyone wants to hear from those six albums along with a few from the current lineup’s 2012 output A Different Kind of Truth.

The setlist is incredible! I mean seriously look at it (they open with “Unchained”) and tell me that it’s not damn well near perfect. All the hits are there along with favourites and that’s one of the album’s strengths and main appeal. I don’t think l would’ve taken anything out. I wouldn’t have added much more either. Anyone who complains is just nitpicking. I would’ve wanted to see “You And Your Blues” from ADKOT instead of “Chinatown”* but that’s about as picky as l can be. Everything l could’ve asked for is here. Two discs and 25 songs (one is a drum solo) at this price is excellent. Those things l can’t complain about.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room. Yeah THAT one! Roth’s singing. Sometimes he completely leaves out lines, his timing is off or at the very last second, and occasionally he’ll almost talk instead of singing. To his credit he’s getting up there in age and moves a lot during live performances, it’s not getting any easier for him and l know criticism of his voice will be harsh towards this release. I’m trying not to be too harsh, while remaining objective. Granted he doesn’t sound great and there some not so good moments, but Diamond Dave was never truly an amazing singer to begin with. Less so live. He was always known to be the charismatic and energetic frontman and no one could touch him.

One of my favourite moments has Dave being Dave, during the beginning of “Pretty Woman” where he goes: “I know that song! (pause) I know that song! (pause) I fucking love that song!”  On some songs he sounds good, some tolerable and some…awful.

People have mixed feelings to say the least about Wolfgang replacing Michael Anthony. I think it hurts them not to have Anthony around because his backing vocals were truly the band’s secret weapon and they improved Dave’s overall sound, something Wolfgang simply cannot do (he does sound a little better now), but he does get the job done on the bass guitar. The backing vocals are not awful, and they try their best (“You Really Got Me” is a good effort) but they could have used Anthony’s presence.  Alex Van Halen has lost nothing with the years and plays incredible.  The “Me & You” piece is amazing. Eddie does what he does best, and surprises us at times adding things here and there being the player we know he is. I can’t say that they really live up to their past glory, but very few bands can and at the end of the day it’s a fun performance.

The sound is very raw and bare-bones, it doesn’t sound like it was overdubbed at all which is one of Tokyo Dome‘s best qualities. I think they were going for a bit of a bootleg sound, not too much as clearly this exceeds a bootleg, but Van Halen wanted a real raw, gritty and heavy feel. Now the audience is essentially nowhere to be found. I own lots of live albums and this has got to be one of the quietest crowds l’ve heard for Van Halen (and a rock concert for that matter). I can only assume they turned them down during the mixing.

On a side note, I think it was a missed opportunity to film the show and have it released as a CD/DVD package**.  I think it would have helped gather even more interest in the band and Tokyo Dome. I’m just glad we finally have some new Van Halen out, and a live one with Dave.

Is it perfect? No. Does it have it’s flaws? Yes. Could it have been more? Well l think if you don’t expect too much out out of Van Halen you will find much to enjoy. The guys are a little older, Dave’s voice has aged and it’s 3/4 of the classic lineup but they can still deliver a good performance and entertain you. Some will completely rip on Dave’s voice and l get it (STOP CHEWING GUM WHILE YOU SING!), it’s the main reason l’m giving Tokyo Dome 3 stars. It does make you long for a proper live release from the early 80’s. The musicianship though, is very good and the setlist incredible.

3/5 stars

*LeBrain disagrees.  I like both songs, but “Chinatown” trumps “You and Your Blues”!

**LeBrain agrees.  I don’t know why that wasn’t done.

For LeBrain’s review, click here!

TOKYO DOME_0002

GUEST REVIEW: Sixx:A.M. – Modern Vintage (2014)

Review by TOMMY MORAIS

A lot of “modern” and not a whole lot of “vintage”

MODERN VINTAGESIXX:A.M. – Modern Vintage (2014)

I was a fan of Sixx:A.M. when they first came out with The Heroin Diaries in 2007. At the time the music was fresh and just what I needed. I was in high school and going through difficult times and things teenagers go through. I was already in love with Motley Crue for a few years at that point. Then when Nikki Sixx came out strong with Sixx:A.M., I respected him even more as he was now in two bands that l loved.

I thought Sixx:A.M. had everything going for them; a great single, excellent songwriting and I could identify with the music and some of the lyrical content. The accompanying book also made for a wonderful experience. I enjoyed the band’s second album and bought it on release day in 2011. I liked a lot of that album and its accompanying book even though l felt it wasn’t as impressive as the first. I stayed a fan and continued following the band anticipation their next release. 2014 rolls along (which shows this review is a bit overdue) and hence we have Sixx:A.M.’s third studio album, Modern Vintage.

The album begins with “Stars”, a very good indication of the album’s overall sound, style and feel. To me it’s average at best; it’s not unlistenable but it doesn’t grab you in the way it intends to. It has “made for radio” all over it. “Gotta Get it Right” is the first single and didn’t do anything to encourage me to pick up the album. I can get the over almost Christmas-like feel it has but I think where they fail lies in the chorus.

“Relief” is straight ahead rock and with its lyrical theme sounds more like the Sixx:A.M. of the past. “Gotta Get You Some” is a twist and a nice change of pace with its acoustic guitars before kicking it into high gear for the chorus. It too has a very commercial ready for radio feel, only slightly darker. I’m not in love with this song but James Michael does a very good singing performance.

“Let’s Go” and “Give Me A Love” are probably the closest to heavy rock tracks on here (and to the sound of previous Sixx:A.M.). “Let’s Go” is especially a true fist-pumper and a highlight. “Drive” is a an awful cover of the same song by The Cars. It sounds dull and the electronic euro pop in the background makes it unlistenable. The guitar work is the only good thing about it. “Hyperventilate” is nice and short, one of the better songs on Modern Vintage. “High On The Music” sounds like a terrible young pop band and not like Sixx:A.M. or a rock band, going for that radio hit feel-good type song. “Miracle” has cool groove and a vintage feel to it, on the other hand it also honestly sounds like a Maroon 5 tune. “Before it’s Over” has a jazzy/lounge feel to it, which I give them credit for trying to branch out.

I’m not sure what I was expecting out of Modern Vintage or if I was expecting anything at all to be honest. I loved the first album, liked the second and bought the third out of loyalty and because I thought there’d be at least a few songs l liked. I wasn’t terribly into the first single but I didn’t let that discourage me. Well I’m sad to say that after multiple listens it’s a bit underwhelming. The songs don’t “rock” as hard and sound more mainstream and bland; that is both musically and lyrically. The songs are more ‘happy’ this time around. In theory this should work but it doesn’t. There’s no anger, no frustration, desperation, none of what made Sixx:A.M.’s core on the first two albums. I’m actually surprised to see so many high ratings and reviews praising the album everywhere. Maybe we didn’t listen to the same Sixx:A.M. band previously, I don’t know. All l know is what I hear and this album just doesn’t do anything for me and I don’t enjoy the direction they went in. A lot has been said about the drum sound which feels artificial and I agree, it just doesn’t work all that well this time around.

Modern Vintage ends up sounding like a lot of modern and no vintage. Alas I am not a hater. It pains me because I’m a Crue fan, a Sixx:A.M. fan and a Nikki Sixx fan and l really wanted to enjoy it. It just feels less inspired than the first two and even though it has a different sound it doesn’t break any new ground. It tries to hard to go for the commercial radio songs and it’s like they forgot who they where. Hopefully they’ll get it back and deliver another good album. In the meantime this is terrible.

1.5/5 stars

[LeBrain’s note: I’ve listened to the album, and I agree with Tommy 100%.  In fact, my review can be found below.]

POO

GUEST REVIEW: Europe – War of Kings (2015) by Tommy Morais

It’s been two years since Tommy Morais contributed a review here.  It is with great joy that I celebrate Tommy’s return, and that of the rock band Europe!  Please join me in welcoming back Tommy, a great reviewer originally from the province of New Brunswick, Canada.

NEW RELEASE review by TOMMY MORAIS

 

“Europe establishes itself as a modern classic rock band”

WAR OF KINGSEUROPE – War of Kings (2015 UDR)

After the bluesy affair that was Bag of Bones, the band Europe returns to a heavier sound and approach on War of Kings and ultimately, a more Europe-sounding album. The band has essentially transformed itself from its glam metal roots to essentially become a modern classic rock band. I’ve always been a fan of albums like Wings of Tomorrow and Out of This World, just as l am a fan of Last Look At Eden and their recent albums. If anyone cares to listen there’s more to this band than “The Final Countdown”, the occasional hit song and power ballads. For anyone who’s been keeping track, they know that the last few Europe albums have been very enjoyable and saw them release some of their best music thus far in their career (Last Look At Eden, Start From The Dark, Secret Society).

The title track opens up, and it’s every bit as epic sounding as you expect it to be.  It’s a raunchy, slow down and dirty metallic number. Europe makes it clear from the get-go that they’re going in a heavy direction. “Hole in my Pocket” is a more light and upbeat track, and whereas the first track sounded more metal this one is more energetic AOR rock (with a blistering John Norum solo). “Second Day” is one of the highlights for me: the lyrics and the feel of the song are inspiring and Joey Tempest’s voice sounds like some part deep on him is aching and it’s brilliant. “Praise You” is a slow tempo rocker, not-quite ballad with a bluesy feel (Norum’s playing is just magnificent here) with hard rock tempo changes… this track really surprised me! “Nothin’ To Ya” is in a similar vein as the title track in that it goes for an epic feel but there’s orchestration on in the background that makes it interesting.

“California 405” is a cool mellow, almost easy-listening song. “Days of Rock ‘N’ Roll” is probably the closest sounding thing to a “The Final Countdown” here, and that is based on the joyous riff it possesses. Another solid rocker.  “Children of the Night” is a dark sounding tune with some excelling guitar playing, something almost fit for the late great Ronnie James Dio. “Rainbow Bridge” has an exotic sound; it makes me feel like l’m about to enter some place like Morocco.  It’s this album’s “Kashmir”, very different and very cool.  “Angels (With Broken Hearts”) could almost be considered a ballad but it’s really a slow, here-comes-the-heartache piece with the music doing the biggest talking. “Light Me Up” is not bad at all, but it’s my least favourite song on War of Kings and not the best way to end the album.

For what it is I quite enjoy War of Kings, and it offers a solid collection of songs. Joey Tempest’s voice has aged like a fine wine where you can tell he’s comfortable and confident in his abilities, and this is possibly the best he’s ever sounded in all honesty. John Norum is a very talented guitar player and he has his shining moments in his riffs and solos, and puts a little blues out there as well. Europe are competent musicians and it certainly comes across as such, and maybe even more so now that they have moved past the “glam” and “hair” metal tags. I feel like since their comeback in the early 2000’s they’ve truly become a modern classic rock band in sound and spirit (don’t worry they still love and play the classics and hits live).

While it’s true that you only get one first impression, l wish more people would give Europe a chance, because they’re not the same band they were during the 80’s and they’ve become better musicians as time passed by. I think a lot of classic rock fans who didn’t like Europe during their most successful years especially might enjoy this a lot more than they’d ever think. Maybe some were hoping for a nostalgia trip but the keyboards and power ballads are not to be found here, this is a more mature Europe and a very fine one at that. For that reason l think some would like this a lot more. And if you were a fan all along then what are you waiting for? Pick this up and give it a spin. I praise Europe for giving us a true great hard rock record in 2015.

4/5 stars

2012’s rockin’ stats, for your amusement!

In 2012, I posted 493 articles.  I did 157 chapters in a continuing series of Record Store Tales which has been extremely satisfying.  The rest have been a series of reviews, and rants!  Very popular was my series of Kiss reviews (53 of them!), when I covered every Kiss album in sequence. Currently, I’m finishing up my series of Iron Maiden reviews (42 so far in a series of 45), covering every album and rarity that I have access to. It’s been a blast!

Some personal statistical highlights:

1. Doing an interview with Brian Vollmer, of Helix (my 4th interview so far), which was a huge blast for me as a fan and writer.

2. The many Guest Shots (10 so far!) from contributors such as Tommy Morais, Statham, T-Rev, Mrs. LeBrain and Uncle Meat.  It’s been a pleasure to read and publish your work, gentlepersons.  Keep sending me stuff!

3. Record Store Excursion 2012, and the resulting video.  I love making videos, and this was a blast. At last check, it’s had almost 200 hits (194 to be exact) including some of the people at the stores that we reported on!

Thanks to all the readers out there who’ve made 2012 so much fun here at LeBrain’s Blog.  Let’s kick 2013 into overdrive.

My top ten posts of 2012, by hits:

Editorial: Paul Stanley’s voice problems 741
REVIEW: KISS – The Box Set (Deluxe mini guitar case edition!) 273
GEOFF TATE: Solo album KINGS & THIEVES song samples available now 270
REVIEW: Black Sabbath – Master of Reality deluxe edition! 254
REVIEW: KISS – Destroyer (Resurrected) (2012) 227
REVIEW: KISS – “Hell or Hallelujah” single! (2012) 211
Ex-Queensryche’s GEOFF TATE UPDATE: Still a douche 202
REVIEW: KISS – Destroyer (and a word about that 35th anniversary Resurrected thing) 193
UPDATE: Queensryche’s Tate is a Douche 185
Part 71/ REVIEW: Pink Floyd – Shine On (9 disc box set) 185

Top five LeBrain-reading countries:

Country Views
Canada FlagCanada 13,754
United States FlagUnited States 6,242
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom 2,417
Brazil FlagBrazil 739
Finland FlagFinland 629

Here’s a fun one:  Top five Google searches that led people to LeBrain’s Blog!

queensryche split 82
paul stanley voice 76
kiss revenge review 71
geoff tate is a douche 68
kiss hell or hallelujah 66

LOL…Geoff Tate is a douche!  That’s awesome!

Hope you didn’t party too hard last night.  Let’s rock 2013 like there’s no tomorrow!