Italian-based metal project Sweet Oblivion are back with their second full-length effort to feature original Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate at the forefront, which proves to once again be a winning combonation.
My appreciation for Tate’s work in his former band has only grown over the years, and each track here sounds as though they could’ve come straight from a classic Queesryche record. I knew the second I heard the first single from Relentless, “Another Change,” that this would be a promising album.
“Once Again One Sin” is a fitting opening song, and is quickly followed by the strongest track on the album by far, “Strong Pressure.” Other highlights among the ten tracks here include “Wake up Call,” “Aria” (impressively sung by Tate completely in Italian), and the ballad “I’ll Be the One.”
It’s strange how new, unheard music can seem so familiar upon first listen, but that’s exactly the case here with Relentless; some of the lyrics manage to hit so close to home that they feel like they’ve actually been there with us all along. That is what makes for a good listening experience, which is precisely what Sweet Oblivion have provided listeners with here.
The ’80s were no doubt full with an abundance of creature feature flicks to choose from. Being younger at the time, Freddy and Jason were usually off the table unfortunately while I was growing up (though I still managed to sneak them in whenever and wherever I got the chance to). But slightly tamer, more “family-friendly” horror/Sci-Fi films like Poltergeist (1982), Gremlins (1984), and Critters (1986) were still fair game in our household, and I can vividly remember watching many of these titles on a couch with my siblings (and/or the other kids in the neighborhood) and a tub of popcorn, often times in awe.
Critters was originally released in the U.S. by New Line Cinema on April 11, 1986, and almost instantly drew comparisons to the previously-mentioned Spielberg romp Gremlins (although Director/Writer Stephen Herek has maintained that he and co-screenwritter Dominco Muir had the script in the works long before either of them had ever heard of or seen Gremlins). The film stared veteran actress Dee Wallace as Helen Brown, who was already known for her appearances in a sleuth of horror films including The Hills Have Eyes (1977), The Howling (1981), and Cujo (1983). M. Emmet Walsh, Billy Green Bush, Scott Grimes, Nadine van der Velde, Don Keith Opper, Terrence Mann, and a young, then-unknown Billy Zane also rounded out the main cast.
The plot was simple enough; vicious creatures from another planet land in the middle of rural Kansas and wreak havoc on the Brown family farm. But two out-of-this-world bounty hunters (played by Mann, and eventually Opper as well in future installments) throw a monkey wrench in their gears, ultimately saving the day from the destructive vermin. In October of 2020, I interviewed Wallace on behalf of Rewind It Magazine, who declared of the film, “It was just such a simple, but harmlessly fun movie to be a part of. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Multiple follow-ups continued the original series, with only Opper and Mann reprising their roles in all of the next three films (although Grimes did return as Brad Brown in the first sequel). 1988’s Critters 2: The Main Course (which was one of the first times I can recall ever seeing so much, ahem – female anatomy – on screen while watching it on cable TV at a friend’s house) was the last film of the series to be released theatrically after a disappointing $3 million box office return (the first entry had grossed over $13 million on a budget nearly equivalent to the sequel’s intake), but remains a cult/Easter classic among many to this day. The next two additions to the franchise, 1991’s Critters 3 (notable for starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio in his first film role) and 1992’s Critters 4 (which featured Brad Dourif and Angela Bassett), promptly received straight-to-video treatment, and saw the titular monsters taking on the big city, and outer space itself, respectively.
It would be nearly three decades until the franchise would be revived, with a reboot film titled Critters Attack!, and a web series Critters: A New Binge, both dropping in 2019. Wallace returned for the former (in a role that may or may not have been the same as her character Helen Brown from the original). Regarding her return to the series, Wallace told Rewind It Magazine in the same 2020 interview; “It was a lot of fun. My first question for them was, ‘Are you doing the critters CGI?,’ because if they were I wouldn’t have done it, and I think the fans would have been disappointed. But I read the script, and met with the director, and I got to go to Cape Town, South Africa, so how bad could it be?!”
Critters have even found themselves as the punchline in random pop culture; the 1990 film Teenage Mutant NinjaTurtles features a scene where one of the turtles, Raphael, is seen walking out of a movie theater (with the film’s poster displayed in full view) and proclaiming in disgust, “Where do they come up with this stuff?!” The song used in the original film, “Power of the Night” by the fictional Johnny Steele (also played by Mann) has also taken on a small life of it’s own as well in some underground circuits and online (had it been released as an actual single at the time of it’s original release, it could’ve possibly even been a hit).
No matter where the franchise goes from here, there’s no denying the lasting impact this campy series has had on multiple generations of Sci-Fi/horror fans for well over three decades now. Thirty-five years on, the original still remains the perfect film for late night viewings as it ever has.
Hard rock/heavy metal suergroup The End Machine, which features guitarist George Lynch (Dokken/Lynch Mob), bassist Jeff Pilson (Dokken), vocalist Robert Mason (Warrant/Lynch Mob), and newcomer Steve Brown on drums (in place of his recently retired father, Mick, also from Dokken) are back with the follow up to their 2018 debut. And this time the group has had a chance to perfect their sound just right.
Instrumental piece “The Rising” starts things off with a hauntingly familiar tone before breaking into the album’s first single (and without a doubt one of it’s strongest tracks), “Blood & Money.” From then on, there’s hints of multiple genres spread out along the way on the record’s twelve tracks; “Devil’s Playground” and “Born of Fire” contain some blues-ly riffs from Lynch, while “Prison or Paradise” and the album’s latest single, “Crack the Sky,” contain some borderline thrash elements.
But without a doubt the biggest highlights come in the form of the anthems “Shine Your Light,” and especially, “Dark Divide.” With their in-your-face, sing-along choruses, I found myself turning up the volume even louder, especially with the latter track, which no doubt features Mason screaming his heart out on possibly one of the strongest performances of his entire career.
Phase2 is hands down the album the rock community needed at this moment in time. Don’t pass this one up, it’s worth giving the time of day (and then some).
With renewed interest in the decade of decadence continually growing each year, there’s no shortage of various media information on ’80s hard rock (a.k.a. ‘hair’ or ‘glam’ rock) and heavy metal out there these days. But this new book by rock journalists Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock (with a brief forward by Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor) is truly the new bible on ’80s hard rock and heavy metal.
Largely tracing it’s roots back to the influence Van Halen had on the movement in the mid to late ’70s, here the two authors put together a collection of interviews that includes numerous musicians, producers, promoters, magazine editors, and the like, to help tell the tale of arguably one of rock’s greatest eras. Various key members of such staple acts as Motley Crue, Ratt, Guns N’ Roses, Quiet Riot, Dokken, L.A. Guns, W.A.S.P., Poison, Cinderella, and Warrant, – as well as numerous Rewind It Magazine interviewees from over the years – including Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister, Jack Russell of Great White, Brian Forsthye of Kix, and Rachel Bolan of Skid Row (among many others), are just some who help recall the foundation of the genre that changed it all in great detail.
The perspective is unique and fresh, despite some of the stories already found in other published works (many of those involved have previously published their own individual biographies). There’s even a brief but brilliant collection of many never-before-seen photos included as well. In short, Nothin’ But a Good Time is a rollercoaster ride of literature from start to finish, and one of the best of it’s kind currently available on the subject. It simply ‘don’t get better than this.’
Never before have I seen a series take such a steep decline in terms of writing and content as I have The Walking Dead. What once started off as such a juggernaut, has been dying a slow, painful death for a good four or five seasons now, with Season 10 being the most embarrassing one yet.
Originally airing from October of 2019 to April of 2020, the season dragged on thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and didn’t pick back up until February of this year (with one single forgettable episode airing in the meantime in October of 2020). But no matter when they aired, the majority of the episodes remained as uninteresting as the last one.
When the season first picked back up, the heroes were still in the midst of conflict with “The Whispers,” the most bland and boring group of villains to fill the small screen since the original Scooby-Doo series back in the ’60s (and equally as laughable). Samantha Morton and Ryan Hurst lead said group of “bad guys” as Alpha and Beta, respectively, and were (thankfully) both killed off early on with little to no shock effect at all.
The show has become so overly muddled with various new characters (Princess and the “masked soldiers” come to mind) and settings, it’s become nearly impossible to keep track of (or even care to) what’s even going on. The only saving grace in recent memory were two individual episodes; one involving Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) encountering an unstable drifter (played brilliantly by Robert Patrick) while on a supply run, and Negan’s (Jeffery Dean Morgan) backstory episode last night (though unfortunately, even the latter took away some of the mystic of the character by making him into a former gym teacher. Yes, a GYM TEACHER!).
I remember watching the show the night it originally premiered (October 31, 2010) after taking my son out for a night of trick-or-treating. I instantly related with characters like Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), and fell in love with the dramatic tension of the pace and writing. Since then, the show has become unrecognizable, and downright atrocious, with cast members coming and going (Danai Gurira, a.k.a. “Michonne,” is the latest to leave after this season). But thankfully, the show will finally be put out of it’s own misery after season eleven (with of course even more spin-offs than the ones already going, which both have more or less surpassed their source material at this point). If you’ve never watched an episode of The Walking Dead in your life, do yourself a favor, and do not start with a later season like this. Hell, even if you do start from the beginning, don’t waste your time, and just skip the last few pitiful seasons altogether (I certainly wish I had).
There’s no doubt in my mind that Queensryche played an integral part in my own personal life; long before we were married (and formed Rewind It Magazine), Queensryche were the first concert my future wife and I ever officially worked together as a writer/photographer team back in 2013 (and we have since covered an additional one of their shows for Rewind It as well in 2019). But even after watching the band’s current lineup – which is more than competent in it’s own right with current frontman Todd La Torre – it still felt as though something was missing each time we saw them live. That something was of course original vocalist Geoff Tate, who I was more than honored to get the chance to speak to last week via phone.
At the time of our conversation, Tate was in the middle of traveling on the road to his next destination. Tate has indeed kept on the busy side in his post-Queensryche days, writing, recording, and touring either as a solo artist, with Operation: Mindcrime (who he is in the midst of performing the classic Queensryche releases Rage For Order and Empire on the road in their entireties), and most recently, with Sweet Oblivion, who are about to drop their second album featuring Tate at the forefront, Relentless.
One of the first things I wanted to ask Tate was just how he first became involved with the latter Italian metal act. He informed me; “After spending thirty years working with the same people when I was in Queensryche, I was ready for something new. I was talking to Mario at Frontiers (Records) about maybe branching out and doing something different, and collaborate with some new people. A couple of years later he introduced this idea, which was exactly what I wanted really, and introduced me to Simone Mularoni, who we did that first album with. This second record here is lead by Aldo Lonobile, and then we actually have a third one that’s going to be happening too, but I don’t know who’s going to be involved with that yet, so that’s going to be a nice surprise for me.”
I also wanted to know if the first single from Relentless, “Another Change” – which struck me as an extremely personal song – had any specific meaning behind it. He told me; “Well, I don’t really like to explain my music too much, because everyone hears and interprets music differently, typically based on their own experiences. So I like to leave it up to the listener. I have to say though, the album came together nicely. It was a great session despite the fact that we recorded it in different parts of the world.”
Another thing interesting about Relentless is the track “Aria,” which Tate sang completely in Italian. I asked how much of a challenge that was for him to do, and he explained; “Well, I’m really good at ordering off the wine list in a restaurant (laughs), but not so much at conversational Italian. But with the song, I was able to get used to it for awhile first and perfect it, which I think makes the album much more interesting.”
With live concerts slowly beginning to become the norm again, Tate has upcoming tour dates scheduled, including several tour dates in the U.S. beginning in the fall. I inquired what it was like playing live gigs post-Covid, and he explained; “Well, different places have been opening up again at different times with various precautions, and we’re finally picking back up where we unfortunately left off last March, when we were playing the Rage For Order and Empire albums for their respective anniversaries. But I did a show in Florida last December, and I believe that was actually the first live show we had done since last March. Then I did one up in New Hampshire, which was a matinee show. I haven’t done one of those since I think Japan in the early ’80s (where it’s customary to do them), so that was pretty challenging to do at my age (laughs). And then most recently, we did a show in Seattle back in February. But we’ve got U.K. dates starting in June and July, and then we’ll be back in the States again in September. Which I’m not complaining about – I’d much rather stay busy than just sit around!”
And with roughly four decades worth of material to draw from, I was also curious if Tate had any personal favorite tracks in his repertoire to perform live. He replied; “That’s hard to say, I like them all (laughs)! Well, doing the Empire tour that we’re doing now is really pleasurable for me, because this is the first time I’ve gotten to sing and play quite a few of the songs on that record. When the album came out, we only played a certain amount of them live, so now playing the whole album is a real treat, because I’m able to play some of the songs I’ve never played live before.”
As many of you may already know, Tate had a messy split between his most well-known former band in 2012. Before letting him go, I wanted to know if there was at least a chance for him and the other members to ever reconcile on a personal level, if not a professional one. He informed me; “Well, I talked to them a couple years ago. We were both playing the same festival, so I went out early to check them out, because I had not seen them play before. It was kind of a weird scene hearing them play, I felt like I was maybe watching a science experiment or something (laughs). And it was funny too, because I was actually standing backstage talking to someone when I heard Queensryche start to play, and in my subconscious, I thought, ‘Oh, they’re playing one of our songs on the PA or something,’ and then I realized the band was actually playing on the stage (laughs). But when you’ve played with a band for so long, and then see them perform without you, it’s just kind of a strange feeling. But I talked to everyone that was there in the band at that time, and it went well.”
The last time Rewind It Magazine caught up with ’80s pop sensation Tiffany was just a few short months back last, when she played Buster’s Bistro in Sanford last November. While that show was no doubt a fun night for all those there, Tiffany seemed much more in her element at Dexter’s in Lake Mary, where she performed a longer, and much more interactive set with fans than said last show.
Local musician Rob C (or possibly “Z” – my apologies for not getting a concrete name!) started off the evening with a number of cover tunes that spanned multiple decades. Everything from ’80s staples such as “Karma Chameleon,” “Faith,” “I’ll Be Watching You,” “Shout,” “Blister in the Sun,” and “All Night Long” were included along with older and contemporary classics like “Three Little Birds,” “Proud Mary,” “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” “Sex on Fire,” “Say it Ain’t So,” and “Under the Bridge.” By the time Rob had finished his set, the crowd was more than primed for the slightly tardy Tiffany (who, after arriving, explained the power had gone out where she is currently staying).
Despite the late start, Tiffany (once again joined by guitarist Mark Alberici) more than made up for it. After a short Q&A with the audience, and plugging several of her other endeavors that ranged from cooking, mixed drinks, to skin care products, she opened with a new track from her upcoming studio album, Shadows, titled “Hey Baby.” A couple of tracks from her 1987 debut album, including “Spanish Eyes” and the hit “I Saw Him Standing There,” followed before unleashing another semi-new track in the form of “Pieces of Me.”
The Billboard number one hit single “Could’ve Been” followed before a slew of other admirable newer tracks, including “Storm,” “King of Lies,” “Starting Over,” and “Waste of Time” (the latter of which included a small mishap that saw Tiffany briefly singing the lyrics to “King of Lies” again, causing the duo to briefly stop and even laugh at themselves for a minute).
And finally, Tiffany brought down the house once again with her biggest hit to date, “I Think We’re Alone Now,” which even saw her rising from her seat and dancing along with numerous members of the elated audience. But surprisingly, they didn’t stop there, unleashing a rollicking version of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” before finally calling it a night.
Even if you’re not a huge Tiffany fan (which I never claimed to be by any means), it’s still easy to enjoy one of her shows. There’s a sense of familiarity while watching her live, like catching up with an old friend. If the chance to watch her perform ever presents itself, I highly recommend giving it a try.
For many in my own age group, the 1988 original comedy classic Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, was a staple go-to default flick on cable TV back in the day. But was a second edition over three decades in the making really worth the wait, or even necessary?
The sequel finds Prince Akeem (Murphy) having to track down a son (played by Jermaine Fowler) he unknowingly fathered his first time around in New York, and grooming him to become the next heir to the throne. Of course this leads to various culture and emotional conflicts for both parties involved and their loved ones (both Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan add to this chaos perfectly in new supporting roles).
The nostalgic factors alone are worthwhile themselves; just seeing Murphy and Hall return to McDowell’s, or hilariously don the makeup for such characters as Randy Watson or Reverend Brown again, or even watching such greats as James Earl Jones, Louie Anderson, and John Amos return in their respective roles, were all welcomed trips down memory lane.
But unfortunately, the actual jokes themselves are often too far and few in between, and come off as either too forced, or often times just strain to be overly timely. At the heart of it, Coming 2 America wants to be an endearing film, but comes up far too short. If you really want to revisit Zamunda, you’re better off just going back to the original.
I’ve been saying this for years now; Enforcer are hands down one of the best modern metal acts around today, and their live show is comparable to such classic metal titans as Iron Maiden, Megadeth, or Metallica. And like their first live album, Live by Fire II truly captures the band doing what they do best in their own element.
Recorded in Mexico City in 2019, the seventeen track set list is not too far off from what it was when I personally saw the band live in October of that same year. Tracks like “Searching For You,” “From Beyond,” “Zenith of the Black Sun,” “Live for the Night,” and “Take Me Out of This Nightmare” all showcase what these guys do best, and complete with full crowd participation. Concerts like this might still be rare to come by these days, but Live by Fire II perfectly captures everything that Enforcer has to offer.
I can’t stress this enough, Enforcer are the type of band for those – young and old – who still have metal running in their veins. They’re much more deserving to be at the forefront of the scene than what mainstream metal continues to shove down the throats of the masses (I’m looking at you, Godsmack). If you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and check these guys out.
I’ve said it many times before in the past, how when I was a kid learning to play the bass guitar, there were two bands I specifically cut my teeth to more than any others; punk outfits the Misfits, and the Sex Pistols (to the best of my knowledge, “Anarchy in the U.K.” was actually the first song I had ever learned on the instrument from front to back). So to get a chance to pick the brain of original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock (who was in the band from 1975-77 before being replaced by the infamous Sid Vicious) from his London home last week via a Zoom meeting was as surreal as it gets for me.
Matlock is so much more than simply a bass player though; he’s an accomplished songwriter (Glen had a hand in co-writing the majority of tracks from the one and only official Sex Pistols album, 1977’s Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s theSex Pistols) and an all-around talented musician whose first love before he ever picked up a bass was the guitar (Matlock even mentioned in our conversation how playing the bass was more or less a ‘skill,’ but not his ‘art’). And one thing I had not anticipated was how much of a sense of humor Matlock has as well, causing for one of the most painfully hilarious interviews I have ever done.
Case in point, his latest work. Matlock recently released a limited edition, two-song single with longtime friend and collaborator, Earl Slick (best known for his guitar work with the likes of John Lennon and David Bowie) on Stay Free Recordings. Glen informed me that said new single, “Consequences Coming” (which also features a cover of KD Lang’s “Constant Craving”) was recorded last year in his home when he and Slick suddenly found themselves ‘stuck’ together after the lockdown first took effect. He explained; “We were in the middle of the tour in the U.K. at the start of last year, and then all of this started happening. and he got stuck with me, a bit like The Odd Couple. We did a couple of live streams and people started to like it, but you can’t do the same thing every week, so we had to learn four separate, hour-long sets.”
He continued; “So we had all of this stuff, and I figured, ‘well, we’ve got the computer out, let’s just hit record.’ And we did, in a very basement-tapes sort of way. And it’s just me and him, playing, shooting the breeze – I mean there’s some really funny stuff in between songs! We’ve actually got a full album in the can, but it’s not out yet, just the single. And that’s it really!” I also asked Matlock what made the pair decide to cover said KD Lang ’90s hit “Constant Craving,” and he replied; “Because I told him that we were going to do it (laughs)! But no, I’ve always liked that song. You know, it’s kind of about yearning and love lost, and I thought it kind of fit the mood for what’s going on for a lot of people right now.”
Of course I had to ask Matlock some questions about his former band the Sex Pistols – even if he has heard them all before. And his initial reaction to my forewarning of this was, appropriately, “Oh here we go!” (Which of course was proceeded by more laughter!). Still, I inquired what it was like watching the Pistols from the sidelines with Sid Vicious in his place, and he told me; “There’s a good expression in England that goes, ‘If that’s what you want, that’s what’s going to happen.’ I saw the train coming, but I wasn’t that concerned about it. It had all gone a bit, ‘tits up’ to me anyway, and I didn’t like the way it was going. But I was really busy, I had the band Rich Kids quite soon afterwards, and we were off writing and recording a record, so I wasn’t too concerned at that point. They (the Sex Pistols) were out plugging the songs I had co-written, and I was still earning money off of them doing their thing.”
I also wanted to know what he thought of some of the work that came in the aftermath of the Pistols, such as the 1980 film The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, and the 1986 hit, Sid & Nancy. He revealed to me; “I thought the Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle was a load of rubbish, and Sid & Nancy I didn’t think was too far off from that. But I did a little work on that one when I became friends with Alex Cox. He always maintained he should be paid by the government for making an anti-drug advertisement, which seemed reasonable to me (laughs). The funny thing with bio pics though, is everybody can pick holes in it. In a way, the whole Sid & Nancy thing was very Shakespearean, in a Romeo & Juliet sort of way.
After releasing one studio album with his post-Pistols group the Rich Kids, the band broke up, and Matlock briefly played with legendary frontman Iggy Pop. He enlightened me some on how that happened, and why it didn’t go past recording the one album with Pop; “Iggy’s agent was also the Rich Kids’ agent, and he knew they had just broken up, so he suggested me to Iggy and got me the gig. And when I started working with Iggy, he had a proper crew and road manager, and the equipment worked! We never had any of that stuff in the Pistols (laughs). It was fun, the way it should be. But it was great working with him, and I wish I had stayed working with him a bit longer. But he was in his ‘flashing’ stage at the time, and I definitely didn’t miss that at all after I had left…some things you can’t un-see (laughs).”
Fast-forwarding to when the Sex Pistols reunited in the mid-’90s, I asked if it was a sense of validation for him at the time to step back in to his original role as bass player. He said; “Yeah, I got the last laugh! (laughs). I think I actually caused it, because in ’95 I got to L.A. to do a project with a mate, and the guy I was staying with, Calvin Hays, gave me (Sex Pistols guitarist) Steve Jones’ phone number at the time – and I hadn’t spoken to Steve in fifteen years. We went back-and-forth for about a week, and when I finally reached him, he said, ‘I heard you were in town, come on over!’ And when I did, he said, let’s go see (Sex Pistols vocalist) John,’ and I said, ‘Oh, here we go!’ (laughs). And when all three of us were together, we decided to call (Sex Pistols drummer) Paul up in England. And the next thing, we got a world tour out of it, and if I hadn’t made that phone call in the first place, I don’t know if it would’ve ever happened.”
And lastly, I had to ask Matlock that question that will likely follow him for the rest of his days; with all four original members of the Pistols still walking the Earth, will there ever be another tour, or even just one huge ‘farewell’ show? His reply; “Well, I’m not holding my breath. But I liked the James Bond series, and when Sean Connery came back and made one more movie, it was called Never Say Never Again. We’ll see.”Matlock however did assure me, Sex Pistols or not, we will see him on stage again, someday; “We’ve got a festival gig over here (in England) in the summer, and I’m hoping for maybe a U.K. tour by fall, but I really don’t know if it’s going to happen or not yet.”