Who would’ve ever thought that a sleazy sunset strip band like L.A. Guns had a Christmas EP in ’em?! But here they are with one, and the ironic thing about it is…it actually kind of works.
Oddly enough, the EP starts off with a recorded voicemail message from William Shatner, which then segues into their version of Billy Squier’s “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You.” Covers of Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody” and The Damned’s “There Ain’t No Sanity Claus” are about as spot on as they get, but their take on the Ramones classic “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)” is a tad on the weaker side. There’s even a 9-second rendition of “Dreidel” thrown in for good measure.
So before you throw down on the egg nog this season, throw this one on to get yourself in the holiday spirit. It should just do the trick.
If ever there was a band worthy of comparison to Spinal Tap, it has got to be today’s incarnation of Quiet Riot. As if the album cover didn’t already give it away, HollywoodCowboys is as amateurish you might think.
On their second and now final studio album recorded with former singer James Durbin on vocals (former vocalist Jizzy Pearl has now stepped back in to fill the spot once again), once again what they’ve compiled here doesn’t sound much better than essentially a demo recording. I was honestly surprised the band didn’t rush back in to re-record Durbin’s vocals with Pearl, much like they had done when Durbin replaced previous singer Sean Nicols on 2017’s Road Rage album.
All things considered, some of the songs found here actually aren’t that bad. Tracks like “Insanity” actually contains some impressive guitar work, and “Hellbender” probably stands above everything else . But the mix is still so off throughout the entire album, with the drums simply overpowering everything else. Perfect example; look up lead off single “Don’t Call it Love” on YouTube and see how many people agree with that exact same sentiment in the comment section.
I’m not the kind of person who enjoys being overly critical for the sake of being harsh, but I’m also not going to sugar coat things. I actually really dug Quiet Riot back in the day (one of the best concerts I’ve actually ever been to was a bill they were on with Skid Row back in 2006, a year before original lead singer Kevin Dubrow’s untimely passing), and I honestly sympathize with drummer Frankie Banali’s recent cancer diagnosis (and wish him the best). But there’s a reason why some bands from their era don’t maintain the same status/ as an act like Motley Crue. There’s also usually a fairly good (and dysfunctional) reason for so many rotating lineups, and Durbin wisely stepped down from the current mess this band has sadly become.
From the moment he first arrived on the scene with Cinderella in the mid-80s, Tom Keifer has defined what it means to be the “cool” rock star front man. Now on his second full-length solo effort (with his new backing band), he’s still kicking just as much ass as he was back in his heyday.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect at first with Rise, but once I was finally able to give it my full attention, I knew Keifer still had “it”. Songs like “Untitled,” “Touching the Divine,” and “The Death of Me” (my personal favorite off the record) are all enough to get crowds moving. Conversely, numbers like “Waiting on the Demons” and the title track are more somber efforts (the latter of which Keifer even seems to be channeling his inner John Lennon on).
I’ve made no secrets over the years regarding how huge of a Cinderella/Tom Keifer fan I am; with this new release, my respect for both has only grown further.
Central, FL-based power metal act Seven Kingdoms are back with a brand new, crowd-funded EP of material, and I was instantly surprised by just how well put together EmptyEyes really was.
Five songs in all, there’s really not much to complain about here. The title track kicks things off with promise (there’es even a fun video for it that was shot in Deland, including a scene at Steve’s Downtown Music), but it’s guitar-driven numbers like “The Water Dance,” “Valonquar,” and “Monster” that truly drives things here. The only semi-weak spot comes in the form of a cover of Heart’s “Barracuda” (a song I never cared much for to begin with).
Those not already familiar with the band might have a hard time getting in to this release, but keep in mind the songs found here are really meant to be heard live…which is truly where Seven Kingdoms shines their best.
Progressive rockers Howling Giant finally unleash their debut full-length record after a handful of EP’s over the years. The Space Between Worlds is a nine-track concept album that takes those willing to listen on a trip to another dimension, not unlike a good round of D&D with your best friends.
Along the way there’s tracks that easily take your mind though new gateways, including “Comet Rider,” “Ghosts in the Well,” “Ice Castle,” and “The Orb.” There’s even a fairly entertaining video for the track “Cypermancer and the Doomsday Express” that’s a legitimate fun watch.
While stoner rock typically isn’t my usual go-to, Howling Giant bring a much-needed, fresh element to the genre reminiscent to the likes of The Sword. Worth checking out if you have the time.
Few bands can capture true human emotions as flawlessly as Scranton, PA’s The Menzingers, and it was apparent Hello Exile would be another work of genius upon release of the album’s first single, “Anna,” over the summer.
As if 2017’s After the Party wasn’t already near-perfect enough, the band has outdone themselves once again on their sixth full-length effort. Tracks like “High School Friend,” “Strangers Forever,” and the country-tinged “I Can’t Stop Drinking” are all brilliant in their own simplistic ways, and listening to them somehow seems strangely familiar, as if they’ve always been there in the background as the soundtracks to our lives.
The Menzingers are one of those rare bands so good they’re in their own league along with The Replacements or The Killers, and I only wished I wrote music as good as them when I was still playing in bands. It’s truly foolish not to give a group like The Menzingers a chance; we almost don’t deserve an act this amazing.
What started off once upon a time as a promising parody act has more than worn itself painfully thin by now. Steel Panther have been riding the coat tails of one lame crude joke for over a decade now, and their fifth studio effort finds the guys still trying to stretch the limits of their already-strained imaginations.
Heavy Metal Rules offers little new to their schlock rock brand past tracks with more uber-obscene lyrics and titles that only the most juvenile of minds would find humorous, such as “All I Wanna Do is Fuck (Myself Tonight)” and “Gods of Pussy.” The title track is virtually the only song on the whole album even worth going back for a second listen, and the album’s cover is probably the most enticing thing about the record as a whole.
There’s no denying the musicians in Steel Panther harbor an abundance of talent, but it’s being tragically squandered away by the trash they continue to spew. The joke has more than expired, and about the only thing left for them to do at this point would be to record an actual, straight-forward heavy metal album; they might just gain some new interest (not to mention respect) if they’d just cut the crap for once and, well, grow up already.
On his latest release, shock rock master Alice Cooper complies an ode of sorts of some of his favorite Detroit-based music. There’s even a few guest spots along the way from some of the region’s icons, such as MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer and Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner.
“Detroit City 2020” (a re-working of an older Cooper track) is far from the strongest track to kick off the EP, but things pick up swiftly with the punk-infused “Go Man Go.” More than admirable covers of Bob Seger’s “East Side Story,” the MC5’s “Sister Anne,” and Suzi Quatro’s “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” stand out as definite highlights.
Weak spots include Cooper’s take on “Devil with a Blue Dress On” (although ending it with “Chains of Love” was indeed interesting). In short, Breadcrumbs isn’t much more than a tease, but should at least tide Cooper’s most dedicated fans over until he gets back to the main course.
I can already hear the comments from the ignorant know-it-all’s regarding As I Lay Dying front man Tim Lambesis’ recent bout in prison. All I’ll say about the situation is this; the man has done his time, now move on the way the band themselves have.
My initial introduction to this band came at the 2006 Sounds of the Underground Festival, in which they headlined. I was instantly blown away, and since then, they’ve remained at the top of the metalcore scene in my book. Here on their seventh full length album (and first since 2012), the band is once again at the top of their game. Shaped ByFire starts off instantly strong with the likes of “Burn to Emerge,” “Blinded,” and the title track, and things only get better from there.
There is a filler track or two (“Gatekeeper” comes to mind), but tracks like “The Wreckage” and “My Own Grave” echo back to their 2007 masterpiece An Ocean Between Us. I don’t throw away terms like “comeback album” easily, but if ever there were a firm contender for one, Shaped By Fire sure makes a damn good case.
For well over a decade now, Off With Their Heads have consistently been creating quaint yet brilliant melodic punk music that always strike a chord and tug on every emotion possible. On their fifth full length release, Ryan Young and company have managed to out do themselves once again.
There’s little to no filler tracks to be found on Be Good, and it’s difficult to pinpoint what songs are truly the best of the bunch, but “Locking Eyes,” “Take Me Away,” “Tear Me Apart,” and “You Will Die” are some of the best damn songs I’ve heard in quite some time. Videos for “Disappear” and “No Love” were also made, and are the typical type of escapist genus to be expected from these guys. At no point on Be Good is there any mention of politics or hate-fueled dialogue, just pure emotion captured in a song, the way it’s meant to be.
It’s rare to capture the same feeling I had from the first time I ever listened to a Replacements record, but that’s exactly what I get when I hear bands like Off With Their Heads or even The Menzingers, who are also in their own little separate category of awesomeness. I can’t stress how much I absolutely love this band, and what a huge disservice you’re doing to yourself if you haven’t already given them a chance.