Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When The Levee Breaks

Last night, I hit the movie theater to check out Led Zeppelin on the big screen. This one night showing featured live footage that spanned the band's career, and while I've really been digging Zeppelin lately, this experience just made me appreciate them even more. The band were a powerhouse live...and seriously, when the shows starts off with that riff for Communication Breakdown, I wanted to be back in 1970 at that show...you could tell that those kids were on the verge of starting a mosh pit, and they just needed me as the spark to set it off. Damn...they were so raw and fierce...and when Immigrant Song starts I'm absolutely blown away by how heavy it is. If I'd heard this song as a kid, instead of focusing on the first two minutes of Stairway To Heaven, I may not have spent the majority of my life hating this band.

I fell a little behind in collecting the Super Deluxe editions for the new Led Zeppelin remasters, but I made a couple of big moves these past couple of months. First up is Led Zeppelin IV.

There are some mega-hits on this thing, and while some people would sit back and think, "Man, I never need to hear Stairway To Heaven again", I'm sitting here jamming the fuck out of these songs. I grew up hating these hit songs, but this new appreciation of the band has me hearing them with new ears, and it feels like I'm hearing them for the first time. As a side note, When The Levee Breaks may be my favorite Zeppelin song ever...at least right now it is. Damn, that song is absolutely crushing with it's heaviness.

The companion LP, with the negative image cover, looks cool, but the bonus songs are just all alternate mixes...and too be honest, I don't really get too deep into the weeds with these, and I hardly notice any difference to the ones on the regular album. Cool for what they are, and I'm sure some Zeppelin nerds get a kick out of them...me, I'd rather have some live shit instead.

The big selling point for me in this whole Super Deluxe thing is the hardcover book that comes in the box set. This thing is packed with old photos and news clippings. I love pouring through these things while the vinyl spins on the turntable.

I've never been terribly familiar with the Houses Of The Holy album, and I was eagerly looking forward to the release of this remaster...plus that orange box looks pretty sweet. No expense is spared with this set, as the LP replicates the original pressing with the paper strip that wraps around the cover OBI style. Very cool...even though it is a complete pain in the ass to put back on once you've take it off.

Led Zeppelin's fifth album in, and the band keeps cranking out powerful and passionate songs. Listening to this, I can't help but think that Over The Hills And Far Away is one of my new favorite Led Zep songs. This song was made for cruising around in the summertime with the windows down, and the music playing loud...warmer weather can't get here fast enough.

The bonus LP contains more alternate mixes for the album. These naked kids creep me out.

Love love LOVE these pictures. Plant and Page are two of the coolest motherfuckers to come out of the early 70's.

I knew that taking on the task of collecting the Super Deluxe versions of these new remasters was not for the weak. This isn't for the casual collector. Die hards only. Over the course of collecting these box sets, it has only made my appreciation for each Zeppelin album grow, and they have been worth every penny spent. Next up...Physical Graffiti.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Maiden Mania

In the late 80's, once a year the local convention center would host the Record and Tape Flea Market. I looked forward to it each year, and leading up to the event, I would try to save as much money as I could, so that I could have a huge spending spree. The convention center was packed wall to wall with vendors selling vinyl, tapes and CD's, but my favorites were the bootlegs. As a kid in Maine, I felt like I was so far removed from any kind of live scene, and if I wanted to see bands like Overkill and Slayer on stage, I had resigned myself to the fact that it would have to be through VHS bootlegs. I would also elbow my way through the crowds to check out the bootleg cassettes for the chance to hear Metal Church and Anthrax live. There were even rare occasions when I shelled out the money for vinyl bootlegs.

Over the following 25 years, those bootlegs were pretty much shelved and forgotten about. An old friend recently stopped by my house, and we started reminiscing about those flea markets, and I pulled out a Metallica cassette of Cliff Burton's last show with that band. The sound was typical bootleg quality, but it was such a blast to listen to again. Soon, I was pulling out my small collection of CD and vinyl bootlegs...Metallica at Donington in '85, Iron Maiden on the World Piece tour in '83, Overkill live in Leeds from '87...and it was a lot of fun to hear these raw recordings again.

When I was recently killing time in the Hells Headbangers distro, waiting for the latest Bat 7 inch to go on sale, and I stumbled upon a bunch of Iron Maiden bootlegs. I was so excited over this find, that I couldn't wait for that Bat record to be available, and I immediately made a purchase.

I had no idea how these sounded, but I was completely sucked in by the cover design. I hoped that the quality of the recording wasn't too bad, because based on the covers alone, they were impossible for me to resist.

Spread across two LPs, this live show, recorded in Antwerp Belgium on the Killers tour from 1981, sounds pretty good. It sounds like the tape from the original recording got warped at the start of Murders In The Rue Morgue, and it is a difficult 30 seconds to get through, but other than that, this is a great snapshot of the band firing on all cylinders. Five months later, Di'Anno had proven too undependable out on tour, and he was gone.

I fucking love this documentation of Maiden live. it seems as though this label, That's All Folks!, has released a handful of Maiden bootlegs this past year. I want them...I want them all.

There were different colors of vinyl available for each, and each was hand numbered out of 333.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rain Like The Sound Of Mid-90's Emo

There was a time when CDs were my format of choice when listening to music. Each day I'd grab between 10 and 15 CDs and head out the door for my day...listening to them in the car or at work on the CD player at my desk. They were portable and convenient...and for those albums that I had exclusively on vinyl, or had downloaded from napster, WinMX, or soulseek, I burned them to CDRs. At one point, I must have had close to a thousand of these CDRs. My iPod has basically made these CDRs obsolete, and in an effort to make some space in the Music Room, I've started cleaning them out. Some of these burned CDs are for albums that, for one reason or another, I've just never owned a physical copy of. Some of it I've determined that there is a reason that I never bought a copy before, and I've sent it to the trash bin, while other stuff has got me thinking that I need to finally get off my ass and buy the vinyl.

After catching the Salad Days movie downtown one night, I happened to get to the R section in my CDR clean up. I had the full Rain Like The Sound Of Trains discography on one of these burned CDRs, and while I own all their 7 inches, I have never picked up a copy of the full length LP. Inspired by the movie, I managed to stop listening to metal for a few seconds, and found that I really needed to finally own this record.

Featuring Bobby from Soulside, and Pete from Verbal Assault, I really loved what this band was doing in the mid-90's. As a kid from Maine, whose major access to purchase music was through Ebullition or the Lumberjack distro, I had some trouble locating the Rain Like The Sound Of Trains album when it was released. However, with the full power of the internet now in my hands, I found that it was quite easy to locate and purchase a copy...and a steal for under $10. Thank you Discogs and paypal.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Live Great Mos Generator

I discovered Mos Generator last year, and quickly fell in love with anything that guitarist/singer Tony Reed had a hand in. The band doesn't seem to get out and tour very much, so when I discovered that they were going to be playing a few gigs on the East Coast, I made it my mission to catch one of the shows.

In the end, I made a drive over two and a half hours into the middle of New Hampshire to watch Mos Generator play live. Round trip, I ended up spending around six hours on the road, to watch the band play a 45 minute set...and it was totally worth it. To be in that small room, at the back of some pizza shop, and stand about a foot in front of Tony Reed and watch him play those riffs from Electric Mountain Majesty...it was truly a special experience. After their set, I got to talk with Tony for a couple of minutes, grab a piece of vinyl, and then hit the road just after midnight for the drive home.

When I checked out the merch table after the show, the only piece of vinyl that I didn't already own was The Late Great Planet Earth, so I obviously took the opportunity to finally add it to the collection. This album isn't my favorite by them...it is a bit more laid back and trippy at times, with a bit of a Pink Floyd/early 90's era Voivod influence, and not a straight forward ripper like Nomads and Electric Mountain Majesty...but there are still some excellent songs on here, like On The Eve and Opium Skies, that are essential.

Originally released back in 2005, and out of print for some time, this is the 2014 re-issue pressed on "random" colored vinyl. My copy is a nice baby shit green with some nice streaks of color throughout it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Iron Man Null And Void

I was supposed to be at an Iron Man show last night, but unfortunately, the band had to cancel at the last minute due to a serious illness. Terrible news. This band quickly because one of my current favorites with the release of their South Of The Earth album back in 2013, and when I heard they were playing Massachusetts, I was bound and determined to catch them live...even if it meant driving two hours alone to the gig, and not getting home until 3:00 in the morning on the day I had to work. That was how much I wanted to see Iron Man.

While it isn't nearly the same as seeing them live, I did recently get a new piece of vinyl for the band.

Iron Man released their third album, Generation Void, back in 1999, but it took until 2014 for it to get a proper release on vinyl. It isn't as strong as it's follow up I Have Returned or the mighty South Of The Earth, but this is still a good record...and when you think about what metal was being released at the time, this would probably make the Top 10 list for that year. Since their debut in '93, Iron Man have not tried to be fashionable or follow the latest trend...they just keep writing Sabbath inspired metal songs. Much respect.

I'm not typically a fan of splatter vinyl, but I'm digging what Shadow Kingdom did with this. Well done.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Box Of Seaweed

Up until last year, I'd never listened to the band Seaweed...hell, I'd barely heard of them...in fact, the only reason why they popped onto my radar at all, was because of Marcus' blog. He really spoke highly of them, and after reading post after post about their records, I finally broke down and checked out their Four LP. Much to my surprise, I absolutely fell in love with that record, and could not stop playing it. No matter how much I enjoyed that record, I really didn't expand my Seaweed knowledge much beyond that. Four is amazing, and it was all that I really needed. Leave it to Marcus to set me straight once again.

A couple weeks back, I was quite surprised to find a box of Seaweed records on my doorstop. Apparently Marcus had been picking up pieces of vinyl for cheap over the past few months, and in a show of record nerd solidarity, once he had a handful of them, he sent them my way...plus he figured it was the best way to get me to finally post some non-metal records to this blog.

Okay, let's take them in chronological order...starting with Seaweed's second 7 inch, Just A Smirk.

This one was one of my favorites of the bunch, simply because that colored vinyl looks amazing. Had I heard these songs in the early 90's, I would have listened to the shit out of this record. I listened to a lot of bands that played this style at the time, and it still surprises me how I completely overlooked Seaweed until 2014.

Another two song 7 inch that Seaweed released in 1990 was Deertrap. More of that sound that they are great at, and reminds me of bands like Bad Trip, Garden Variety, and that Split Lip LP where they changed their name to Chamberlain..

Up next is the single for the song Bill, which appears on Seaweed's album Weak. Great song, and worth it for the exclusive b-side song, Pumpkin. Released in 1992, this one shows some growth, and while I really dig the earlier work, this is a nice step up for the band.

I believe there are two camps for Seaweed...those that think that Four is their best album, and those that are wrong. Lots of people seem to prefer the band's first album, Weak, and while I think it is still great, it doesn't beat their second LP.

Finally we come to one of the singles from the Four LP...the Go Your Own Way 7 inch. Meh...I really could do without this Fleetwood Mac cover, but it is still a cool 7 inch to own for the exclusive She Cracked b-side song.

The last surprise was inclusion of a record that didn't fit the Seaweed theme. I'm not sure why Marcus included this record in the package, and upon first glance I had zero interest in checking it out. Not wanting to be rude, I put the vinyl on the turntable for the Young Conservatives record. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I really liked what I heard. It is catchy and melodic hardcore, but with a good gritty edge. Quite the surprise.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Year Of The Bat

Back in 2013, Bat released their Primitive Age demo. Man, that thing was so wrapped up in Venom worship, I fell in love with it immediately. Now in 2015, the band are set to release a new 7 inch, and record a full length album, so it was the perfect time to finally get those demo songs pressed on vinyl.

Hells Headbangers had the Primitive Age 12 inch listed in their store as Out Of Stock for weeks before they were made available. There were only 111 pressed on white vinyl, and I was in that store checking everyday until they were available to buy. As soon as I saw the vinyl was available, I added the white vinyl to my cart. Victory! My determination paid off, and I scored the most limited pressing...or so I thought. A couple of days later, Hells Headbangers sends me an email that basically says, "Whoops, sorry...the white vinyl isn't available any longer. Are you okay with black vinyl?". Damn it. No, it isn't okay, but what other option do I have? I'll take the black vinyl.

The b-side of this record is screened with the Bat logo. Damn, that thing looks good! Comparing it to the white vinyl, I have to say that I prefer the look of the black vinyl with the white silk screened art. I'm glad that things worked out this way...but damn it, I better get the red vinyl for the new Bat single that is due to drop any day!

Monday, March 09, 2015

Night Of The Demon

Metal is absolutely killing it right now. There are so many great new bands, I'm finding it hard to keep up with them all...plus you throw in the repeat listens that I've been having with stuff like The Number Of The Beast, and I don't have much time to bother with many new hardcore records. It has been a struggle to get me out for live shows for the past few years, but lately, watching Metal bands has given me a new appreciation for seeing bands play again. With Mos Generator, Testament, Armored Saint, Iron Man, and Slayer all on the agenda for this Spring, I probably haven't this many shows penciled in on the calendar since the late 90's.

So in my quest to keep feeding the new Metal machine, I stumbled upon a band named Night Demon. I can't recall where I first heard of them, but after catching their video for Screams In The Night, I was sold. I know that lots of bands are doing the traditional Metal/NWOBHM sound, and I'm cool with that...Night Demon fits that category. Nothing original or over the top, but still some good Metal with those hints of melody that Iron Maiden perfected. Sure there is a bit of Metal cheese here, but come one, no one accused this genre of being too uptight and serious.

300 pressed on orange vinyl.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

The Dagger Of 1978

Late last year, I'd heard some great things about The Dagger. They had released a video for their song dedicated to the year that Powerage and Long Live Rock n Roll were released, 1978...I'd checked out the song, but was pretty underwhelmed by it, so I quickly moved on. Still, I kept hearing about how great this band was, and even Iron Fist magazine was singing high praises for their review of the album...dropping names like Deep Purple, Rainbow and Saxon. Bowing under the pressure and hype, I finally checked out the entire album.

Much to my surprise, I really liked it...and soon I found myself listening to it daily. The song 1978 has grown on me, but is easily the weakest link on the album. Man, this record is such a fun listen. With the 70's and early New Wave Of British Heavy Metal influence, it is surprising that most of these guys used to play in a couple of 90's death metal bands.

I don't typically pay much attention to what Century Media releases, and I haven't even bothered to check out the latest Sick Of It All album they released. When I was checking out some vinyl in the CM Distro store, I saw The Dagger LP and didn't hesitate to finally buy myself a copy. This would have been a tough contender to break my Top 10 list for 2014.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Rock Or Bust

From the stage, our metal gods seem immortal...impervious to death and disease...the roar of the crowd makes them ageless, and with a backdrop of guitars and drums, it seems like they can live forever. They encapsulate the innocence of of my youth...they shaped me, and helped create who I became. It may sound cliche, but the bands from my childhood were my sanctuary...when I felt like I didn't fit anywhere, the music had my back. When cracks begin to show in that foundation, and the march of time inevitably brings them down, I feel that cut deeply.

AC/DC were a huge part of my early teenage years. For Those About To Rock was one of the first pieces of vinyl that I bought as a 12 year old boy, and it ignited a fire in me...calling me to the darker and heavier side of music. So when it was announced that Malcolm Young was suffering from dementia, among other health issues, and was retiring from AC/DC, it was tough news to hear.

With Malcolm's blessing, the band soldiered on to record and release AC/DC's 15th album, Rock Or Bust.

I haven't bought a new AC/DC album on vinyl since purchasing For Those About To Rock almost 33 years ago. While I have the entire catalog on CD, my vinyl collection is weak. With the cool 3-D cover, I knew that vinyl was the only way to go with this new album.

With Malcolm out of the picture, I didn't have high expectations for the new album. While I enjoy all of AC/DC's records, they haven't really done anything that has stuck with me since 1983's Flick Of The Switch.

Sure, Rock Or Bust isn't going to crack any Top 10 lists for favorite AC/DC albums, but I'll be damned if I don't find it surprisingly good...really good. There is some guitar work on here that surprised me...and when it comes to AC/DC you don't get many surprises, so it was quite refreshing...and at 35 minutes, the band gives you an album that doesn't lose your attention.

Great packaging...solid album, for what could very well be the band's last.