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Review: Van Halen “A Different Kind of Truth”

Mar. 20, 2012
A Different Kind of Truth

After 28 years the atomic punks are back!!!!

Van Halen fans that cringed during the Sammy Hagar era and “nearly died” during the short-lived Cherone era will surely rejoice now that Diamond Dave has rejoined the Van Halens for a new album. A Different Kind of Truth finds Van Halen going back to its roots. Gone are the ballads, the layered synths and keyboards, and what’s left is a bare-boned, ballsy rock album that strives more for the adrenaline fueled vibe of earlier albums like “Van Halen II,” as opposed to the the more poppy, synth driven hits like “Jump”.

The news of a reuninon itself was unbelievable. The fact that the band took it upon themselves to record a whole album of new material and actually make it good is miraculous, considering that most reunion acts are content with just lining their pockets with a big reunion tour; not to mention the rocky history between Dave and the Van Halen brothers. Granted this is no “Van Halen II” or “Fair Warning,” it’s still a solid output by one of the greatest hard rock bands ever. Yes, Dave has lost a high note or two and finds himself more comfortable in a lower range, but the soccer moms that he pines for in “Honeysweetiebabydoll” just might find his lower range more appealing. As for the Van Halen brothers, it’s not surprising to hear them in top form. Most of the album has a faster tempo than previous works and this really allows Alex to loosen up and show off his drumming chops. You can hear classic Alex on “Chinatown” with it’s double bass driven groove reminiscent of “Hot for Teacher”.

Eddie of course delivers as any guitar god would, seamlessly alternating between big riffs and speed metal rhythms to fluid, wailing solos. “She’s the Woman” is a prime track that exemplifies everything that’s great about Eddie and the rest of the boys. It’s no surprise that the track is a reworking from a pre-fame demo tape. And it wouldn’t be a complete Van Halen album without some finger tapping fret work. Eddie nails it with the intro to “Chinatown”. The only original member missing is Michael Anthony. Also missing, are Michael’s signature backing vocals. Taking his place is Eddie’s son Wolfgang. And if anybody should ask, “Have you seen Junior’s grades?” you’d have to mention the kid got a passing grade. We’ll just have to wait to see if he can deliver live. -Vidal Reyna

  • Van Halen
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Review: Black Country Communion “2”

Mar. 07, 2012

It’s ironic that a bright, new light of hope for the bleak rock scene comes in the form of Black Country Communion, a band of heavily seasoned veterans. Consisting of vocalist, bassist Glenn Hughes (Trapeze, Deep Purple, and long solo career), guitar prodigy Joe Bonamassa, prog rock keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater), and drummer Jason Bonham, Black Country Communion definitely has rock pedigree that pumps new blood into the rock music scene.

BCC came into fruition in late 2009 when Hughes and Bonamassa began writing songs together. At the suggestion of producer Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, Iron Maiden), Bonham and Sherinian joined the ranks, and the new group of veterans began recording as early as January 2010. Their second effort, aptly named “2”, and produced by Shirley, storms through the gates from the start with the opening track “The Outsider”, and takes the listener through an exceptional rock journey.

The difference between these classic rockers and other classic bands that still dish out new material is that this band is new and its material sounds as fresh as it does classic, as opposed to bands like Motorhead and AC/DC, whose new releases don’t have the same power as their earlier offerings. This album has enough rock attitude to spare for the youngsters who dish out wussified “rock” albums. It’s amazing really how Hughes effortlessly wails like a banshee at his 61 years of age. The rest of the band more than pulls its own weight. Bonamassa offers stripped down rock riffs and searing solos, that played through the tried and true classic rock setup of a Les Paul and Marshall stack , is difficult to disappoint. And as expected from such a talented vocalist as well as guitarist, Bonamassa offers soulful vocals on “The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall” and “An Ordinary Son”.  Sherinian’s key work adds ambience and plenty of dazzle as he trades off solos with Bonamassa, a la Deep Purple, on tracks like “The Outsider” and “I Can See Your Spirit”. Luckily for the band and all rock fans, it’s evident, upon listening to the album, that Jason has inherited that awesome Bonham backbeat that powered many a classic Zeppelin tracks from his father, John.

As the album does have that classic rock vibe it’s easy to see how some critics have started comparing the band to Zeppelin and Purple. I for myself found a resemblance between Hughes’ vocals on the Southern groove rocker “Smokestack Woman” to those of Bon Scott. Many others have compared the bluesy “Little Secret” to Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. I’m sure many of you listening to the album for the first time will draw up many comparisons of your own. Yet, I think that it’s unfair to make comparisons to such classics that take away from the merits of the album. Upon a close listen to the album, I’m sure you will find, as I did, that this album stands on its own as a true hard rock album that sticks to its guns and rejects all mainstream ideas of what rock is supposed to be today. A good album to cure an aching rock and roll soul. -Vidal Reyna

Track Listing:

  1. The Outsider
  2. Man in the Middle
  3. The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall
  4. Save Me
  5. Smokestack Woman
  6. Faithless
  7. An Ordinary Son
  8. I Can See Your Spirit
  9. Little Secret
  10. Crossfire
  11. Cold
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Review: Furyon “Gravitas”

Mar. 04, 2012

Discovering new music that is both original and fulfilling has been a very hard thing to do in recent years. Gone are the days when you can walk into a record store, scan the new releases section and pick up an album from a band that goes on to become Metallica, Iron Maiden or even Black Sabbath. (What a time)

In a world where hipity-hopity and popity-rockity rule the musical landscapes, it is rare that you find a band that has all of the elements that one desires when you happen to stumble across a name (Or in this case a whole record) from a band you’ve never heard of.

Ok, so getting an email from a publicist about a new record from “one of the hottest bands out of the U.K.” isn’t exactly stumbling across anything. But I will say this: after listening to “Gravitas,” the debut album from the mid-tempo, metal noobs Furyon, they may not be as groundbreaking as Sabbath was when they debuted back in 1970, but they definitely are worth a listen.

Furyon is comprised of Vocalist Matt Mitchell, guitarists Chris Green and Pat Heath, bass guitarist Alex “Nickel” Bowen and drummer Lee Farmery.

From their official website:

“Since their inception FURYON have been a band who like nothing more than to challenge expectations. Raised on a diet of heavy metal, prog, and classic rock, FURYON mix all these components for a truly unique and contemporary sound. Delivering huge rock radio friendly songs, with technically challenging, yet infectiously catchy musicianship. Dedicated to one sole purpose, making hard hitting songs that will stand the test of time.

From the outset FURYON has been a force to be reckoned with live. Word of mouth meant they soon became one of the biggest draws in Brighton’s busy rock scene, selling out shows at the iconic Concorde 2 venue, usually reserved for high profile touring bands. The blistering power and passion of a FURYON show is something very special to behold.

What separates FURYON from the crowd is the sheer quality of their musicianship. Boasting two truly world class guitarists in the form of Chris Green, and Pat “The Shred” Heath. FURYON have few peers when it comes to the quality of their iconic riffs, and jaw dropping solos. Backing them up is one of the tightest rhythm sections the rock world has to offer with the awesome combination of Lee Farmery, and Nickel. Leading from the front is the outstanding vocal versatility of Matt Mitchell, whose emotion drenched voice effortlessly moves between melodic and crunchingly heavy.

In 2009, after a sellout tour, and accompanying EP, FURYON set about the serious business of writing their debut album. The early demo’s reached the ears of US producer Rick Beato (SHINEDOWN, FOZZY), and a powerful and symbiotic relationship was formed. It became obvious immediately that Beato and FURYON were on the same page creatively, so much so that the band flew out to his Atlanta studio to record their stunning debut album the aptly named “GRAVITAS” in 2010.”

I must say that the musicianship of these guys is top notch. The guitar tone is fantastic and the solo work between Chris and Pat that goes on throughout “Gravitas” is definitely something to be proud of. The rhythm section is also worthy of praise as both Alex and Lee deliver thunderous and technically sound drum and bass work. This leads me to vocalist, Matt Mitchell. The emotion, intensity, and raw power of his instrument is immediately apparent and I must say that he is truly gifted. The only downside is that he reminds me too much of Alterbridge’s Myles Kennedy and the overall vibe I got from the record was that I was listening to what Buckcherry would sound like if they didn’t suck so bad. (And if they were Metal) (And if they were pretty damn good)

At any rate, if you can get past the immediate comparisons your mind will likely draw, you, like me, will probably enjoy “Gravitas” and keep Furyon on your list of bands to watch. I’m sure a few festival circuit runs are in the works and I am interested to see what kind of show these guys will put on live. If you’re in the mood for something new, yet familiar, I would highly advise you to go pick up a copy of “Gravitas” and listen to it with an open mind and an open beer. You might wind up being a fan. -Matthew Flores

 

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Review: Motorhead “The World Is Ours- Vol.1″

Mar. 04, 2012

I can’t imagine a world without Motorhead. Attending a Motorhead concert should be a prerequisite to manhood. They are one of the few, true-to-form, rock and roll acts left and the fact that they’re still playing (and standing) is respectable to say the least. But are they still good??

I contacted Rhonda about COBRAMETAL.NET photographing Motorhead during their set at this year’s Gigantour stop in LA and she was reluctant to say the least. (At that point in time, the site was nothing more than a coming soon splash page) It took a bit of prodding (and some reassurance) for her to come around but she eventually agreed to send over Motorhead’s latest effort: “The World is Ours- Vol. 1 Everywhere Further Than Everyplace Else” for us to review.

You see, Rhonda has represented the Rock and Roll trio for some time now and in retrospect, I can’t really think of a time in my adult life that I don’t remember hearing about Lemmy and company in some form or another. They’ve always been at the forefront of the metal scene. Kudos…

“The World Is Ours” is housed in a triple-disc digipack set and includes a high quality photo booklet. The second disc in the box, (appropriately titled Disc 2) is the live concert audio that was recorded in Chile. It starts off with the 1982 classic “Iron Fist” and Motorhead’s signature intro: “WE ARE MOTORHEAD. AND WE PLAY ROCK AND ROLL…” sets the tone for an audible journey through the eyes of one of Heavy Metals most revered British acts. It only took 45 seconds for me to realize that these guys are still as relevant and powerful as when the band first started in 1975. From ‘Overkill‘ to “Ace Of Spades” to “Killed By Death”, the assault doesn’t let up.

Granted this recording was made a mere 35 years after their first recording was released, it is a solid testament to their reputation as being one of the best live bands around. The guitar tone is crunchy and the instrument itself is played by Phil Campbell with his signature attack/technique that Motorhead fans will instantly recognize. The bass lines are played by legendary front man, Lemmy Kilmister whose raw, unique vocals jump out past the instruments being delivered as only he could. Lastly, the man behind the thunderous drum kit is Mikkey Dee. Dee was in King Diamond and briefly played with Don Dokken, before being recruited by Lemmy in 1992.

Are they still good? Fuck yes.

I can’t say enough good things about this band as they’ve been high on my list of favorite bands for years now. But, what I can say is that as a fan, “The World Is Ours- Vol. 1” would make a great addition to any collection of Motorhead releases, big or small. The sound quality is killer, the set lists are killer and there are a few songs that feature guest appearances by the likes of Todd Youth (who briefly played in Motorhead due to the passing of Phil Campbell’s mother) and Michael Monroe (Hanoi Rocks). Go get it! -Matthew Flores

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Review: Motorhead “The World Is Yours”

Mar. 04, 2012

Have you ever wondered who truly controls the world? If you’re like me, you’ve probably pondered that and many other pointless philosophical questions over the years, most likely coming up short of any logical answers. You see, I’ve always thought that the world belonged to those goons over in Washington that can’t seem to keep their noses out of other countries’ affairs. But I was wrong…

If not to them, I figured that it probably belonged to all of the corrupt church leaders of the world. You know, the ones that keep billions oppressed by threatening them into submission using their very souls as a sick and twisted bargaining tool? Apparently I was wrong about that too. (Fuck Washington and the church btw)

“The World Is Mine” according to the new release from Motorhead. At first I didn’t believe them, but after the audible ass-whooping this 10-track, powerhouse of a record dealt, I’ll believe anything Lemmy & Company say as long as I’m not injured in the process.

Before I gave the new record a listen, I decided to celebrate the career of one of the baddest bands on the planet by having a Motorhead listening party! The guest list was star-studded and included the likes of Jack Daniels, Mary-Jane, and last, but certainly not least, me. (Palmela Handerson made an appearance later on that evening after I recovered as well)

We spun Motorhead’s self-titled classic, “Motorhead” as well as “Bastards” (one of my favorite records) to catch up with the band at two very different points in their illustrious career. After hearing both records for the 4344514514626 time, it never ceases to amaze me how simple, yet effective their brand of Rock & Roll is and how great Lemmy is as a songwriter. Fans of the band are rarely, if ever let down by a new release and I’ll tell you: “The World Is Yours” is a true testament to that fact and adds another great milestone in Motorhead’s long, celebrated career.

The album starts off with the double-kick laden, “Born to Lose.” Lemmy sounds energized, focused and commanding. Although the guitar work is killer due to Phil Campbell’s awesome chops, I’d have to say it’s the rhythm section that truly stands out on this track. Mikkey Dee’s bass drum and Lemmy’s bass guitar thunder along with such devastating precision & assault. They definitely succeeded by making this track the opener as I was immediately drawn into the song and by the end, was suffering from a bit of a sore neck.

“The World Is Yours” offers up 9 more classic Motorhead tracks that can easily be interchanged with tracks on any of their earlier releases. Motorhead is a constant in an always changing “metal scene” and it is comforting to know that after 35 years, they can still deliver the goods. -Matthew Flores

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