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Friday, July 21, 2017

Linkin Park One Step Closer Review


Sadly, we lost the great Chester Bennington yesterday. He committed suicide by hanging himself.  His death has shocked not just the rock and metal scene, but the entire music scene as a whole.  Chester had written many of the classic so gas Linkin Park has produced but of my favorite songs from this legendary band is One Step Closer.

Musically this is one of the heaviest songs of the bands catalog. The guitar in the intro is intense and one you can't help but to head bang to.  Then Chester's voice comes in.  This song really demonstrates Chester's vocal talent and show cases the range he has.  Durint the verse he gives a very he gives a very mysterious, dark sounding voice. Then in the chorus he busts out those long loud notes that he is able to hold for a good amount of time.  Some people don't know hard it is to hold notes that long, that trully a very talented skill to have as a singer.  

Lyically this is a very dark song.  The lyrics convey the mindset of someone who is being talked down to by other people.  How the anger builds up from people being condescending towards you and how people struggle to hold in that anger.  I really loves this song lyrically because not only does it come from a real place, but this is a topic a lot of people can relate to.

With great guitar riffs, great lyrics, and Chester's fantastic vocals this was a great debut song for Linkin Park and would play a huge role to secure the bands place in music.  Chester without a doubt played the biggest part in this songs rise to fame with his amazing vocals.  He was a great singer and will be remembered as a great singer for all time.  Thanks for all the great music you gave the world Chester, RIP.  I give One Step Closer a 5 out of 5.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Purple Stone Panic Panic Review


Purple Stone is a relatively young, new visual kei band out of Osaka Japan.  They started in 2013 and have since gone through many changes since they started.  At first they were more of a hard, heavy band and has changed into more of a party rock band.  This change is made very clear in one of the bands newest singles, Panic Panic.

The first thing I like about this song is the vocals of the singer, Keiya. While I don't think he is the greatest singer in the world, he still sounds good and his voice works very well for what this song is going for.  The guitar work of Gak isn't bad but it is also nothing special.  The riffs that he plays throughout the song sound good, but are also pretty simple and very repetitive.  I am not a big fan of the techno elements in this song, but those elements are not overbearing and they work with the tone this song is going for.  Another thing I am not a big fan of is the programmed drum track they use in this song.  While it doesn't sound bad, I feel like the song would be much more powerful if they were using real drums instead of programming.  Overall, the music is not bad, but it is isn't super unique either.

Lyrically, this song fits the party feel this band is going for.  The songs lyrics are simple, yet catchy, being simply about having fun and partying on Halloween.  I am not personally a huge fan of party lyrics, I feel they are easy, cliche, and in many cases written because the record label told you to rather then coming from a real place in your life.  Having said that, I am not going to get on this bands case too much about the lyrics, because this an artistic move on their part and not because the record labels were looking over their shoulders telling them what to write.

Overall this is a good song but not a great song. The vocals are good and while the guitar sounds good it is very simplistic.  If they added a guitar solo in the songs it would have really helped the guitar stand out more.  This band also needs to get a drummer.  The drum tracks work, but if they get a drummer, their music will sound more powerful and add more energy.  However though, I still liked listening to the song and found it entertaining.  While I wont be in a rush to go buy it, I still appreciate it and would listen to it whenever it comes on.  I give this song a 3 out of 5.      

Monday, July 17, 2017

Nightmare Before Christmas, Joyful and Scary


Nightmare Before Christmas has become a classic in Disney's movie archive.  Having spent 18 million dollars on it and getting a 75 million dollar return, this is truly a great Disney success story.  This movie also has one of the most classic Disney songs of all times, This is Halloween.  This is Halloween is without a doubt the movies biggest songs.  It has been considered by many a Halloween staple and has been covered by many band and artists such as Marilyn Manson, Panic at The Disco, and many other bands world wide. However, while This is Halloween is an amazing song, there are so many other great songs this movie has to offer.  With that, lets dive into the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack.


Composed and written by Danny Elfman, this movie's soundtrack has dark, creepy music while at the same time containing fun, cheerful songs.  What's great about this soundtrack is that despite having some many songs that are polar opposites they still sound great and they still flow.  The main reason for that is that Elfman keeps it simple.  The majority of the songs are not over the top yet catchy to where everybody can appreciate them.  This really has to do with the fact that the concept of combining Christmas and Halloween together is complex in and of itself.  When you try to combine two elements that are total opposites you can really just ended up creating something that gives people a headache and turn them off to it.  Tim Burton knew this when he was writing this movie and Danny Elfman made sure to carry that when he wrote this soundtrack.  Elfman decided to keep it simple so that people could enjoy the concept more then the individual songs.

 While a lot of soundtracks also focus on the concept heavily as well, they typically try to incorporate their own sound and tricks into the songs to make them unique.  You see this in many John Williams, Randy Edelman big orchestra soundtracks, or musical soundtracks such as Tarzan written by Phil Collins and Lion King written by Elton John.  The reason they can do that is because the concepts they are working with are very focused and as a result they have more room to experiment with musically.  Danny Elfman didn't have that and as a result couldn't be to experimental.  However, the fact that was able to make the songs catchy is a huge accomplishment when you have so little room to be creative.

While the song This is Halloween may be the biggest hit off this soundtrack, there are many good songs that this movie has to offer.  Another good song is Kidnap the Sandy Claws.  This song is in my opinion the creepiest on the soundtrack.  With the creepy singing voices of the kids and the lyrics describing what they want to do to Santa when they catch him, this song is super dark.  The most creepy part of this song is actually the La La La part at the beginning of the song.  The creepy voices of the kids makes you feel uneasy more then some adult voices.  It actually feels more scary to hear this intro on Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion then the normal one, it is that effective.  This is a song not to over look.


My favorite song off this soundtrack though is the song that introduces the Christmas concept called What's This.  This is the first joyful song we hear on the soundtrack and while it comes out of no where initially it still fits perfectly with the scene it is associated with.  The lyrics perfectly explain what is going on through Jack's head as he is investigating this new land he has discovered and it makes you want to explore with him.  The music is in my opinion the more catchy then most other songs on this soundtrack.  The reason I think that is because way the music and voice flow together well and creates the most unique sound in this soundtrack.  The burst of energy during the verse really catches your attention and hooks you in a way most other songs don't in the soundtrack.  This is one song that is a must for me.


What makes this soundtrack so great is that even though it is simple it is still very catchy and enjoyable.  Danny Elfman does a great job being creative even though he didn't have a concept that allowed him a lot of creative room. This a case of being able to do more with less and delivering one of the most famous soundtracks in Disney history.  I highly recommend buying every song on this soundtrack and actually buying a physical CD if you find one.  With simple, yet catchy music, this one soundtrack you need to check out.  


     

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Quest for Camelot Soundtrack, A Mixed Bag

When it comes to the Quest for Camelot movie, it is considered by most people to not be that great a movie.  From a story that isn't memorable to a protagonist that isn't considered that great, the movie did not do well at the box office.  Warner Bros. spent 40 million dollars on the movie only to see the movie gross 22 million dollars, not a success story by any stretch of the imagination.  However, one thing that people did take away from the movie and talk about was the movies soundtrack.  Depending who you talk to it was either a master piece with great songs, or was a sloppy mess that made no sense.  For me, it is somewhere in the middle.

The first thing I would like to point out is that this soundtrack does have some very good songs.  The one that everybody remembers is The Prayer by Celine Dion.  This song would become a big hit for Celine Dion, it was played on many radio stations, and covered and performed by many singers.  During the movie they show it during the chase scene where the main protagonist, Kayley is escaping.  Due to the fact that is supposed to be the mother singing, they cut out the male vocal section that is sung by Andrea Bocelli.  I view it as a brief introduction to the song, so that when you listen to the full song you get a better experience.  Both singers do a fantastic  job and the flow is smooth to create a very relaxing and pleasant experience.


The second song I would like to address is my personal favorite song, I Stand Alone, sung by Bryan White.  Bryan White does a great job singing in this song, he sounds great, he sounds energetic, and he really pours all he has into the song and delivers a great performance.  The music is a great orchestra set that sounds big and powerful and really adds to the energy of the song.  This song is used for the character Garrett to explain to Kayley why she can't join him on his journey.  The visuals shown in the movie are great.  It goes well with the music and doesn't really derail you from it.  Some people get on the movies case for showing all the special plants with no explanation, but I don't let that get to me.  I personally view it as a music video within the movie as has been done with many Disney animated movies of the time.  Some that come to mind are Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast  and Son of Man from Tarzan.  These scenes have a real music video feel to them, but it doesn't take away from the movie.  


However, while this movie has some good songs, it all has a lot of songs that are not great and some that are bad.  One song that I really don't like is Ruber's Song.  Gary Oldman is a good actor but the guy cannot sing.  He tries but he comes off as obnoxious and annoying in some parts, while in other parts he sounds like he tries to hard and he cant deliver the melody well.  Another song I really don't care for is If I Didn't Have You.  The first problem is that musically, this song sounds really out of place.  While the majority of the soundtrack has more of orchestra or soft song that fits the time period the move is set in, this song is set in more modern times and it doesn't blend well. The vocals in the song are not great, these guys clearly cannot sing and don't deliver well on the melody.  I get that it is supposed to be a comical song, but even a comical song has to have a good melody and with out that the song isn't funny and doesn't make me laugh.

      

One of the biggest problems with this soundtrack is how some of the songs don't impact the story to help move it forward.  Some songs don't match the scenes they are in and some come out of nowhere.  This is a problem because a musical is supposed to be like a concept record that tells a movies story through music but so many songs are mismatched, or made pointless by the next scene that the concept flow is lost.  One example is the scene that prayer is used in.  This is a soft song used in an action scene where Kayley is being chased and having weapons shot at her.  This is a scene where we should feel tension, not relaxation, and as a result the song doesn't hit the way it should.  This is also a problem with Ruber's song.  You don't really see the song coming and while watching you start to ask yourself if it is really necessary. This also happens with Through Your Eyes.  Through Your Eyes is not a bad song but because there was not set up for it and it came unexpectedly you don't really appreciate it like you should.  


This is not a totally bad soundtrack.  Like I said earlier, there are some really good songs on it.  However, with there not being a good flow and some bad songs, it really takes away from the soundtrack making it not have as big an impact on the movie as many Disney movies it was competing with did.  Many of these songs would be great on their own but as a soundtrack they don't hold up.  With this soundtrack it all depends what you are looking for.  If you are looking into this for some good songs, then you will be happy, but if you are looking for a soundtrack with a good flow you are going to be disappointed.    


   

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Top 5 Metal Covers of Pop Songs

When it comes to pop music and metal most people think the two genres don't mix.  Many pop fans say that metal is loud angry music that sounds obnoxious.  Many metal fans say that pop music is sellout music that is for making money and has no soul.  However, this hasn't stopped some metal musicians from taking famous pop songs and putting their own spin on them.  Here are my top 5 metal covers of pop songs.

5. PonPonPon by 331 ERock 

ERock is a YouTube metal guitar player who normally puts a metal spin on video game and anime songs. This time, he did a cover on the famed Jpop  song from Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and delivered a great instrumental cover.  He does a great job on hitting the right notes on his guitar playing to remind what he is covering, but he also throws in a good amount of his own solo's and parts that makes the song his own.  If you want to get this song, it is available on ITunes.  He also has tabs for this song you can buy if you are interested in learning how to play this.  

4. Smooth Criminal by Alien Ant Farm

Alien Ant Farm's cover of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal is considered one of the best covers of all time.  Many people have even said that this version is better than the original.  While that claim is up for debate, to deny that this is a great cover is being dishonest.  Alien Ant Farm not only added a nu metal sound to the song, but by doing that they also added a lot more energy to the song.  Alien Ant Farm really succeeded in keeping the song sounding fun, but by adding heavy guitar and a more energetic chorus they really makes this song unique from the original.  This song is available everywhere from ITunes, to CD Baby, to Amazon, get it.

3.  A Thousand Miles by Cole Rolland

Cole Rolland is another YouTube musician who has put a metal spin on many different kinds of songs.  One of my favorite from him is his cover of A Thousand Miles originally done by Venessa  Carlton. Cole's guitar playing is great and really captures the melody of the original well.  The way he plays the song by adding a metal sound and adding his own parts to it really makes this song his own.  The way he executes the melodies is really impressive, making this one song I highly recommend.  This song is available on ITunes and if featured on Spotify as well.  

2. Lollipop by Framing Hanley
 

This a true case of a band taking a song and truly making it their own.  This is a case where you can listen to both versions of the song and they sound almost nothing like each other.  Framing Hanley replaces almost all the rap and hip hop with melodic vocals and replacing the drum machine and looping music with a hard rock, metal sound that really makes this cover different from the original.  While the cover is obviously no where near as popular as the original, this song is still worth listening to.  Check it out on YouTube or Spotify and if you like it, buy it of ITunes, Ebay, or Amazon.

1. Imagine by A Perfect Circle

With this song, A Perfect Circle took the peace sounding Imagine by John Lennon and turned it into an eerie, creepy song that makes you feel more like your in a horror movie than a peaceful paradise.  While John Lennon set his version in a potential paradise on Earth, A Perfect Circle chose to focus more on the problems going on in the world and the horrors of those problems.  The message may be the same in both versions but the way that message is presented could not be more different and that is what makes this such a great cover.  Not only did the band manage to take this song and make it their own, but they were also able to change the presentation of the message as well, which is not common in covers.  This song is available on ITunes, Ebay, Amazon, and many other cites, don't wait, buy it.  



Thursday, June 29, 2017

Trans Siberian Orchestra This Christmas Day Review


Trans Siberian Orchestra is known as one of the best Christmas Rock and Metal bands ever.  Starting in 1996 TSO was born when the prog metal band, Savatage ended.  Paul O' Neill, Jon Oliva, Robert Kinkel, and Al Pitrelli would become the leaders of this huge music production and they would put their vision to the test when they were making the Christmas Eve and Other Stories album.  They decided to create the melodic metal Christmas themed album by bringing together many different vocalists and musicians and it would result in one of the best and highly recognized Christmas albums of all time.  Christmas Eve and Other Stories would come to contain one of my all time favorite Christmas rock songs, This Christmas Day. 

This Christmas Day has a great musical flow to it.  The way it starts with piano and horns is a good slow intro that sets you up for a positive, uplifting Christmas song.  Then when Tommy Farese starts singing he really builds on that feeling.  Tommy has a very good blues style voice that fits perfectly with this song.  He captures the mood and feel so well and I would argue that nobody does it better then him.  Then there is the great melodic guitar work of Al Pitrelli.  I have always thought Al Pitrelli is an underrated guitar player and he delivers big time on this song.  He owns the guitar solo he plays in this song.  It is very melodic and well balanced to include some fancy playing without getting away from what the mood is.  Musically, everybody did a fantastic job. 

Lyrically, this is a good message about a daughter returning home for Christmas.  The verse starts out with the family wondering what the meaning of Christmas is and contemplating if there is a meaning.  Then when the chorus comes in and the daughter returns they realize what Christmas is about.  I like a song that tells a story lyrically and this song does it very well.  When you hear the lyrics you know what the story is and it really captures your attention which is not easy to do.  Jon Oliva and Paul O Neill did a fantastic job writing the lyrics.

I have seen TSO three times and every time they have played this song and they have made it sound amazing.  This song is very well composed, very well written, and creates a unique Christmas song that sounds like TSO and TSO alone.  Christmas Eve and Other Stories is a great album and the one song I recommend the most off it is This Christmas Day.  For its well written lyrics and well composed music I give This Christmas Day a 5 out of 5.    


Monday, June 26, 2017

The Rageaholic Metal Mythos,an Honest Look at Metal


I remember when I discovered Razorfist, AKA The Rageaholic, about three years ago, I was looking up videos about Mass Effect Andromeda and I came across this guy and out of curiosity I decided to watch his.  I was immediately hooked, mainly because he's honest, unfiltered, and at times comical.  I became a fan of his channel and subscribed to it and have watched his video game reviews, movie reviews, I found his political videos amusing as well.  However, my favorite videos from Razorfist, are those from his Metal/ Music Mythos series.

From  Judas Priest, to Styper, to Iron Maiden, he covers many bands and covers them honestly.  Each Metal Mythos episode is basically Razorfist going through a band's career with a combination of a biography and a review of each album the band, the episode is based on, released.  What I like about this series is how much research he puts into these episodes.  He goes deep into a band's history, looking deep into inspirations for the songs and the band's career and history.  The other thing I like is how unfiltered and uncensored he is.  He is not afraid to say what he thinks and he will say it whether you like it or not.  While I don't agree with every single point he makes, I appreciate someone who is honest and at the same time has done the research to back those claims.  He has done the research and knows what he is talking about when he does these episodes.

One thing I need to let you know before you check him out is that the guy has the mouth of a sailor.  He cusses a lot and has no shame about it.  I know that doesn't bother most people, it certainly doesn't bother me, but if you aren't a biggest fan of cussing, you've been warned.

Aside from cussing, this guys does a fantastic job on his videos.  If you are a metal fan, look  Razorfist or The Rageaholic up on YouTube and subscribe to him.  Check out all his Metal Mythos episodes and feel free to request bands you would like him to do an episode on.  He does a level of researched I have seen few do and as a result he produces some of the greatest reviews I have ever seen and it is very entertaining to watch. Check out the links below to see a couple of his Metal Mythos episodes.  Look him up, enjoy his Metal Mythos episodes, and subscribe, in the words of the man himself I leave with Godspeed.          

Iron Maiden Metal Mythos

Stryper Mythos