Album Review: Skid Row – The Gang’s All Here (earMUSIC)

By: Jesse Striewski

It’s ironic how the same “fans” that continue to kick and scream for Skid Row to reunite with former frontman Sebastian Bach are also the same folks who can’t name a song of theirs past the three “hits” that still receive considerable mainstream radio airplay.

Sure, Bach’s era with the band was no doubt their peak, but they’ve long since moved on without him, going through a host of different singers in the meantime and avoiding opening up the door to that former toxic relationship again (regardless of which party was in the “wrong” is really besides the point; I know I’m personally not about to go back to one of my crazy ex’s if something were to ever happen to my wife and I). Besides, plenty of other band’s have had successful careers without the face originally at the forefront…Iron Maiden comes to mind.

But I digress; newcomer Erik Gronwall’s more than an admirable fit for the band on his debut album with them, The Gang’s All Here (their first release since both 2014’s United World Rebellion: Chapter Two EP, and the passing of former singer Johnny Solinger). The second “Hell Or High Water” hits the needle, I knew this was on a much different level from any of the work they’ve put out in more recent years with Solinger.

Ironically, the album’s first two singles, “Time Bomb” and “Tear it Down,” were my least favorite of the bunch. Numbers like “Resurrected,” “When the Lights Go Down,” and the epic seven minute power ballad “October’s Sky,” were reminiscent of 1991’s classic Slave to the Grind album, and far more interesting.

I’m actually surprised by how much I truly liked The Gang’s All Here; if the guys keep this up, they might be able to continue putting out more solid releases like this with Gronwall at the helm, despite what the critics may say or want.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Film Review: Spirit Halloween: The Movie (Strikeback Studios/Hideout Pictures)

By: Jesse Striewski

On the surface, Spirit Halloween: The Movie appears to be not much more than one long promo ad for the annual store in which it takes its name from. But despite its obvious flaws and cheesy-ness, it actually works as family entertainment in the same vein as the Goosebumps films, with a nostalgic touch similar to Stranger Things thrown in for good measure as well.

The plot is far from groundbreaking; a trio of adolescent friends (played by newcommers Donavan Colan, Jaiden J. Smith, and Dylan Frankel) faced with the pressures of growing up and the societal norms that come along with it, decide to spend Halloween night in said novelty store. But of course the ghost of a crabby old landlord (Christopher Lloyd) cursed by a witch before his demise in the 1940’s, is haunting the joint and looking for a permanent new body to possess before it’s too late.

Former ’90s babe Rachel Leigh Cook co-stars as the mother of one of the young boys, and Marla Gibbs (best known from such ’70s and ’80s staples as The Jeffersons and 227) plays the strange but wise old grandmother of one of the other children, each bringing just a tad more talent to the mostly unknown cast.

Spirit Halloween (the store) has become a pop culture staple, and an annual tradition as common as the haunted house for many. All in all, the film is harmless (perhaps even a bit shameless, depending on your viewpoint) fun, and perfect fodder for the spooky season.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Album Review: DL Serios – Pecker (Ghoul Tone Records)

By: Jesse Striewski

Decades after originally fronting notorious underground south Florida punk outfit Dead Serios, lead vocalist DL Serios (a.k.a. band mastermind and artist extraordinaire Christopher Long) has emerged with his first solo record, Pecker. But was it worth the wait?

Based off its cover alone, Pecker is everything one might expect it to be; juvenile and ambitious, yet not to be taken too seriously. Lead off single/party anthem “Feeling Freakie” kicks things off on a high note, and features the adorable Katty Pleasant on co-vocals with a fun music video to go along with it. Other fast-paced Ramones-inspired numbers like “Piss Test” and my personal favorite, “Smile Sara, Smile,” are harmless little ditties worth cranking any time of the day.

But tracks like “Me-Me, No-No” and “Boom Chick a-Pop” are a bit too on the silly side to take all that serious. All in all, Pecker is eight straight-forward tracks that don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are, but it may just be a tad too far on the niche side to appeal to a much broader audience than it already has.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Film Review: This is GWAR (Shudder)

By: Jesse Striewski

If any band deserves an in-depth, career-spanning documentary, it’s everyone’s favorite shock rockers/Scumdogs of the Universe, GWAR, and I was a bit surprised by just how invested in This is GWAR I found myself becoming while watching it.

Beginning with the band’s early roots as a collective art outfit founded by Hunter Jackson and the late Dave Brockie in the mid-80s, the film goes through the band’s evolution and entire history in great detail (the way a proper documentary should). Along the way there’s copious amounts of interesting tid bits and fascinating footage that should delight even the most casual fan.

The only real downside is the rapid pace that sometimes speeds through certain eras of the band faster than desired. Personally, I would’ve liked a tad more emphasis on the making of lesser-received albums such as Ragnarok or We Kill Everything. Still, aside from including interviews from several past and present members of the band, there’s a number of celebrities that lend their thoughts and help the story along as well, including Alex Winter, Thomas Lennon, and even “Weird Al” Yankovic himself.

It’s safe to say that my interest in GWAR was put firmly back in place since viewing the film, and I’ve found myself falling down a rabbit hole of sorts and revisiting a lot of the band’s music again; hopefully it will have the same effect on you as well.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Album Review: Amon Amarth – The Great Heathen Army (Metal Blade Records)

By: Jesse Striewski

It’s honestly taken me a minute to fully appreciate Amon Amarth since initially I just thought the whole “viking metal” thing was a bit too on the “gimmicky” side. But I’ve found myself coming around to them more and more with each new album of theirs for the past two or three releases.

I don’t typically find myself going out of the way for metal with guttural vocals like theirs these days either, but I find frontman Johan Hegg’s style far more tolerable than say, Randy Blythe of Lamb of God. But the sick guitar riffs and heavy blast beats are a welcomed assault on the senses on The Great Heathen Army.

The band introduced the world to the album with “Get in the Ring,” a hard-hitter with an equally heavy video featuring pro wrestlers like Erick Redbeard. Other songs like “Heidrun,” “Find a Way or Make One,” and “Dawn of Noresman” are all equally worth a listen. But the track that definitely caused me to sit up and listen the most was “Saxons and Vikings,” appropriately featuring guest vocals from legendary Saxon frontman Biff Byford; I knew then I was becoming a fan.

Bands like Amon Amarth aren’t for everyone’s tastes, certainly not your average mainstream rock music fan. But if you’re rock palate goes beyond the likes of Korn, you’ll probably find something to appreciate here (I for one am personally looking forward to hopefully catching the band live on their current tour now, too).

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Strokes, and Thundercat at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL on 9/15/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Bailey Guinigundo

In 2017, I was able to photograph the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Amway Center in Orlando for another magazine I was writing for at the time. It was a flawless experience, and I walked away with some of my personal favorite concert shots I have ever captured. Knowing that former guitarist John Frusciante – who was absent from the lineup at said show five years ago – was back in the fold, had me even more excited to see the band again.

But a series of unfortunate personal events overshadowed the band’s recent Orlando show at Camping World Stadium this past Thursday, September 15. Beginning with…the photo pass. While I thought I had firmly secured one to shoot the band at least a good month before the show, I came to find out shortly prior that my request was never actually submitted. Strike one.

Then, the actual day of the show, while en route to it (in the pouring rain nonetheless) with the family, our vehicle decided to start overheating and eventually stall out on us completely. That was strike number two.

And lastly, even after having a friend of the family give us a ride and arranging towing all the same, we still had to wait nearly two hours in the car after arriving to the stadium thanks to the thunderstorms that continued to rage and delay the outdoor show from starting on time. That was absolutely strike number three of the night, and might have been enough to turn some people around.

Once we finally arrived and got to our seats (soaked mind you), everything we had endured up to that point slowly became worth it. Opening the stage was bass master Stephen “Thundercat” Brunner, who simply goes by the moniker Thundercat these days. I was lucky enough to not only see him perform on stage with Suicidal Tendencies in 2010 and even meet him afterwards (see attached photo below). Gracing the stage with a huge cat head on the stage behind him, Brunner went through his best licks possible with a quickness, playing a handful of songs and solos before exiting.

A much younger Jesse Striewski (left) with then-Suicidal Tendencies bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Brunner at the former Club Firestone in Orlando, FL on 11/10/10 (Photo by Pamela Bendezu).

Early 2000’s brooding rockers The Strokes followed, and were another act on the bill I was looking forward to seeing (in this case for the first time). But their sped-up, six song set didn’t leave a lot to the imagination, and it just felt as though the band was being rushed off stage as they went through tracks like “The Modern Age,” “Bad Decisions,” “Under Control,” “Juicebox,” “The Adults Are Talking,” and of course their most popular hit to date, “Last Nite.”

And finally, the Chili Peppers took stage well after the ten o’clock hour, and played what felt like an exhausting-ly long set that lasted well over an hour and a half, starting with an onstage jam that just included Frusciante, bassist Flea, and drummer Chad Smith, before frontman Anthony Kiedis joined the rest of the guys for a hyped up rendition of “Around the World.”

The group wasted no time giving the audience what they came for, playing an onslaught of hits both new and old from then on out in the form of “Dani California,” “Scar Tissue,” “Aquatic Mouth Dance,” “Snow ((Hey Oh))” and “These Are the Ways.”

One of my personal favorite moments came when they slowed things down and the rest of the guys stepped aside to allow Frusciante a moment to perform “I Remember You” by the Ramones with nothing more than his voice and guitar. It was a touching moment and fitting tribute to the band’s late guitarist Johnny Ramone, who had passed away exactly eighteen years prior on September 15, 2004.

While this seemed to confuse a good portion of the crowd, I enjoyed it much more than the following forgettable new track from the band, “Wet Sand.” But the guys quickly got back on track, playing a couple of numbers absent from their set the last time I saw them; “Soul to Squeeze” from 1993’s Coneheads film and soundtrack, and “Me and My Friends” going all the way back to 1987’s The Uplift Mofo Party Plan album (as far as they reached in their early repertoire).

By the time the band reached tracks like “Throw Away Your Television,” “Tell Me Baby,” “The Heavy Wing,” “Black Summer,” “Californication,” and “Give it Away,” (with another solo from Flea thrown in there for good measure) I had heard more than enough Chili Peppers music live to honestly last a lifetime. But we stuck with it until the band reappeared for an encore of “By the Way,” a decent enough track, but not really what comes to mind when I think of a “closer.”

Despite all of the setbacks and issues we encountered on the way, I’d say the fact we were able to still even make it was a success, and I know my teenaged son was thrilled to not only see them for the first time, but also get his first official tour shirt that night. And special thanks to local photographer Bailey Guinigundo, whose live shots made this article so much more special than it possibly could have been without them. And to our friend Kurt for coming to the rescue with a ride (without that none of it could have been possible). Thanks again guys!

Series Review: The Goldbergs Season 9 (ABC/Sony Pictures Television)

By: Jesse Striewski

When The Goldbergs first premiered on TV in 2013, it was a quaint throwback that perfectly captured the essence of when the ’80s sitcom reigned supreme, and was still an event for the whole family. That initial magic has since dissipated somewhat, yet the show keeps trudging along regardless.

The show started its decline in quality by season six or seven, and season nine (which originally aired in September of 2021) asked us to accept a lot to say the least. The first noticeable change came with the unfortunate loss of “Pops,” played by the late George Segal, who passed away in March of 2021. His death was addressed in the first episode, then mentioned a few more times throughout the season.

Then of course there was the sudden controversy that supposedly came along with actor Jeff Garlin, who has played the father Murrary on the show since day one. Some vague behind the scenes “misconduct” allegations caused the producers to replace Garlin midway through the season, deciding to use a stand-in and weird CGI to replace him instead. It was about this time that I realized the show had hit a new low.

Aside from all these issues, the plots were really nothing all that spectacular, either, many just revolving around Adam (Sean Giambrone) navigating his future with both college and his girlfriend Brea (Sadie Stanely) and Erica (Hayley Orrantia) and Geoff’s (Sam Lerner) eventual wedding. And of course there’s the usual meddling from Bev (Wendi McLendon-Covey) throughout all of these situations.

Only a couple of episodes from this season really standout; the Halloween episode that sees Adam finding solace in still celebrating the holiday via his “other” grandfather (Judd Hirsch) despite the loss of Pops. The episode also sticks out for featuring the Mistress of the Dark herself, Elvira.

And then of course there’s that wedding episode. We not only get an appearance from yet another ’80s pop star (Richard Marx), but one of the most awkward moments in the show’s tenure featuring the “stand-in” Murrary that the flimmakers actually tried to pull off as authentic. The result is one of the most cringe-worthy scenes ever to be displayed in small screen history.

The final episode (which aired in May of this year) Adam not only graduates, but we also find out that Erica is pregnant, leaving us with a somewhat predictable cliffhanger to end the season on. With season ten about to drop this evening, there’s no telling what to expect from this once-great, dwindling show. The only thing we know for sure is they’ve obviously learned from their mistakes by keeping the Murrary character going in the fashion they had, and finally decided to kill him off all together; perhaps at this point it’d be best to just put the show down as well before it gets any worse than this.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Series Review: Cobra Kai Season 5 (Netflix)

By: Jesse Striewski

After a dismal season four, which centered around basic high school bullying stories and juvenile humor geared towards the lowest common denominator possible, I wasn’t expecting much from season five of Cobra Kai at all, though I went in with as much of an open mind as possible…

…And I’m definitely glad I did. Surprisingly, season five reels it back in and once again makes us actually care about the characters, starting with Johnny (William Zabka) traveling to Mexico to find the down-and-out Miguel (Xolo Mariduena), who set out to said country to find his birth father he never actually knew. This instantly brings the much-needed human element back into the picture, something sorely lacking for too long now.

Meanwhile, Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and the Miyagi Dojo are still at odds with Cobra Kai and its vengeful owner Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), and goes as far as enlisting not one, but two former nemesis’ to help infiltrate the dojo and take him down; once again, Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto) from The Karate Kid Part II, and this time, Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan) from Part III.

Is it a stretch to try to make us believe that these characters would actually care so much about childish rivalries that they’d be willing to take a round trip around the world to fight these battles? Perhaps. But if you’ve been a fan of the series since the first season, but felt discouraged by the direction of the show after that horrendous last season like me, this might just win you back. It may not be the “best around” overall, but it certainly crane-kicks that last season to the ground (can you tell how much I didn’t care for that one?).

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Scorpions at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL on 9/14/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

Last night, the Rewind It Magazine family took an unexpected road trip to catch classic rockers the Scorpions perform at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. But not even traffic delays and copious amounts of of rain could dampen the mood when we arrived (fashionably) late to the event.

To see such legends as vocalist Klaus Meine and guitarist/band founder Rudolf Schenker, not to mention former Motorhead/King Diamond drummer Mikkey Dee (I always felt somewhat cheated when he was actually absent the one and only time I saw Motorhead back in 2009, although former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum in his place was was a more than worthy fill-in) was worth every bit of stress it took to get there.

Although Whitesnake were originally on the tour with them, they unfortunately had to opt out due to frontman David Coverdale’s ongoing health issues. As disappointing as this may be, the all-female group Thundermother were still pegged as the openers. But, due to said road and weather conditions, we missed their set completely too (though we were able to finally see the girls doing an autograph signing session at the end of the night).

In fact, The Scorpions were actually already in the middle of their second song, “Make It Real” (“Gas in the Tank” served as the opener) by the time we even arrived. The laid back vibes of “The Zoo” and the instrumental “Coast to Coast” followed before a couple more-than admirable new tracks in the form of “Seventh Sun” and “Peacemaker.”

The band took things back to the ’80s for a bit with “Bad Boys Running Wild” and “Send me an Angel,” throwing in another instrumental, “Delicate Dance,” in between. This was followed up by the massive 1990 power ballad “Wind of Change,” which was no doubt a collective emotional moment for everyone in attendance last night.

“Tease Me Please Me” and the title track to their latest album, “Rock Believer” proceeded before a bass/drum solo between Dee and bassist Pawel Maciwoda commenced. After which, the guys started breaking out the big guns in the form of “Blackout” and “Big City Nights.” A short reprieve brought the band back for an encore of “No One Like You,” and finally the massive hit anthem “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” which sent everyone there home breathless.

There’s no denying the sheer rock greatness that graced the stage in Tampa last night, and the memory of it all will no doubt last a lifetime.

Album Review: Megadeth – The Sick, the Dying…and the Dead! (Tradecraft/Universal)

By: Jesse Striewski

I found myself actually excited for a Megadeth album for the first time in a long time upon first glimpse of Vic Rattlehead on the cover. But I must admit, their eager dismissal (again) of original bassist David Ellefson last year left a sour taste in my mouth (and that’s no disrespect to returning bassist James LoMenzo – I’ve seen the band live with each bass player in the past, and both are masters of their crafts).

But I digress; The Sick, the Dying…and the Dead – the band’s sixteenth full studio release – is an admirable effort from Dave Mustaine and company nonetheless, filled with the typical crunching riffs and intricate guitar solos that’s come to be expected on a Megadeth album, with the epic title track charging the way and setting the tone right off the bat.

Sure, the lyrics at times can be a bit on the generic side (another common trait with Megadeth records), but overall, tracks like “Life in Hell,” “Night Stalkers” (featuring a brief appearance by Ice-T) “Dogs of Chernobyl,” “Killing Time,” and “Soldier On!” can easily fit alongside any of the band’s previous material up until now.

I may have lost touch with Megadeth in more recent times as previously alluded to, but The Sick…may just be the album that gains the interest of many older fans such as myself again. Check it out for yourself and see if you agree.

Rating: 4/5 Stars