Sunday, November 23, 2014


Last Monday I witnessed a phenomenon,14,000 people were miraculously cured of a life long bout of Monday blues.  A miserable, cold and rain sodden crowd, descended on the 3Arena, determined to have their spirits lifted.  At nine bells, miracle worker Slash arrived on stage, top hat perfectly placed and trademark Gibson guitar slung low.  Opener, You're a Lie, from 2012's Apocalyptic Love, got this old bus depot shaking,  before Guns 'n' Roses classic Nightrain, sends the crowd into pure delirium. Slashs' right hand man, Myles Kennedy, immediately got the crowd on side with some slick interaction.

After a stonking version of Halo, new song Avalon, gets it's live premiere, and is appreciated as much as the classics.  Being the opening night of the European tour, new album World on Fire gets a good airing.  Slash could be accused of using the Irish crowd as guinea pigs to test drive his new material, but this is a knowledgeable audience and they know their Slash.  Each new song is warmly welcomed, like a new member of the family.

Stone Blind, while not one of my favourite tracks, definitely works better in the flesh. Brent Fitz drum intro on You Could Be Mine, takes us back to the Use Your Illusion days.  It's hard to believe this song is 23 years old, but Kennedy and The Conspirators barnstorming performance gives it a brand new coat of paint.  After Shots FiredKennedy gives his pipes a well deserved break.  Bassist Todd Kerns takes centre stage brilliantly.  Firstly on Doctor Alibi, a song originally recorded with Lemmy from Motorhead and then on another G 'n' R gem, You're Crazy.  This guy clearly relishes being a leader, his arrogant, in your face, delivery brought the house down.
After a robust treble of Wicked Stone30 Years to Life and the exquisite doom laden, Beneath the Savage Sun, you sensed the crowd were itching for a classic.  If you don't like long guitar solos, the chances are you made a dash to the bar during the iconic Rocket Queen.  Slash clocked up a near 14 minute solo, probably a little top heavy, but hey, this is his show.  The amazing Bent to Fly had the Slash faithful in raptures,before album title track World on Fire,brings the pace back up to a searing level.  The great man then slings on a double neck, and introduces Anastasia.  The haunting acoustic beginning slowly ascends to that memorable riff, Kennedy struts the stage with a contented grin.  It might be my imagination, but he seems more at ease in this set up than in Alter Bridge.

Then suddenly we're back in 1987, Mr Hudson boards a raised platform, and the prominent chords of Sweet Child O' Mine ring out around the arena.  The crowd swayed their hands in unison, couples embraced, an overwhelming nostalgic feeling gripped the Dublin faithful.  Velvet Revolver fans weren't forgotten about, as couples let go to raise their fists to the menacing, creepy, but excellent, Slither.  Then for the motherfucker of all encores, the ground floor of the arena turned into a mass mosh pit, as Paradise City gives the crowd another nostalgic belt of pure classic rock.

I have never seen so many smart phones and designer eye wear flying through the air.  The songs manic finish featured two exploding confetti guns which only added to the madness.  A memorable way to finish a memorable evening.  Overall, a gripping, emotional and utterly mind blowing evening, with a man clearly on top form at the moment.  Backing band The Conspirators compliment him perfectly.

And what of Myles Kennedy, well the highest compliment I could probably pay him is that if the classic Guns 'n' Roses line up of Appetite for Destruction were to reform, minus the services of Mr Axl, then he would more than fill his boots.  Bar controversy, he wins on every level, especially vocally, where there is no contest.

Oh, and his timekeeping is impeccable.  Great night.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Albion Born: A Review of Ten's Albion CD

When I made the decision to trek from Toronto, Canada over to Nottingham, UK for Firefest: The Final Fling in October of this year I knew a good portion of the bands on the roster for the three day event.  Some I knew quite well, some I had been waiting all my life to see live, some I had no idea of and some I was only on the fringes with knowing a few tracks.  Ten was one of those fringe bands.  I knew "of" them more than I knew the music.  I searched out and purchased a compilation release to try and familiarize myself with the material prior to the event.  Quite a few of the songs from The Essential Collection that I had purchased became regulars in my listening rotation.  I purchased two more full releases and again the same result for some of those tracks.  I was well on my way, quickly becoming a Ten fan.

Ten on stage at Firefest 2014 - photo by Shawn Irwin
Ten was born out of what was originally intended to be the third solo effort for British singer Gary Hughes.  Hughes, who had written a whopping 28 songs, joined together with guitarist Vinny Burns (Dare/Ultravox/Asia/FM) and the band evolved from there.  The debut, X, dropped in 1996 to rave reviews and sales and by the end of that year, the songs already written, the sophomore effort, The Name of the Rose landed.  Ten have had some differences in membership over the resulting years, the one constant always being Gary Hughes, but have issued a total of eleven albums including the aforementioned as well as the forthcoming Albion.  For Albion the band sees bassist Steve Mckenna, drummer Max Yates, keyboardist Darrel Treece-Birch and guitarists Dann Rosingana, Steve Grocott and John Halliwell alongside Gary Hughes' vocals.  And yes you did read that correctly, there are three guitarists!  Perhaps a bit overkill and I always smile at my stupid little joke of maybe they're trying to get their membership up to the band's name.

The Thursday night in Nottingham, the night before the concert festivities were to begin, there was an exclusive CD listening party for the first to sign up.  Ten's forthcoming album Albion was on the bill after In Faith's Debut release (In Faith CD Review).  Albion contains ten tracks all decent in length and some awesome cover art from Gaetano Di Falco depicting a medieval style, scantily clad woman holding a sword as fires rage in the background.  We begin with the lead single from the album "Alone in the Dark Tonight"'s charging guitar riff.  This track was rather magical during the Firefest performance as vocalist Gary Hughes requested that as many people film it as possible in their attempt at a Guinness Record for the most camera angles, I really have to remember to get mine posted on the Ten Facebook page!  From there the grinding yet melodic "Battlefield" is a showcase for Hughes.  "It's Alive" is an upbeat rocker while the medieval lyrical subjects of "Albion Born" assist in making it nothing short of spectacular.  The
7 of Ten @ the listening party - photo by Shawn Irwin
 keyboard beginnings of "Sometimes Love Takes the Long Way Home" unfold as the track ramps up.  "A Smuggler's Tale" is probably my top of the heap cut, an epic sounding composition with a great chorus.  The longest selection appears next in "Die For Me" at almost seven and a half minutes that pass by like nothing.  "It Ends This Day" has an infectious groove and chorus while the partially Italian language spoken "Gioco D'Amore" seem to drone on a little bit to me and serves as my least favorite on Albion.  The sound of a pumping heartbeat and tinkling of a piano start of "Wild Horses" explodes for the chorus and ends the record on an extremely high note.

Here's just one of the many fan filmed "Alone In the Dark Tonight" videos from Firefest Nottingham October 2014.  Watch for The Meister's videos from Ten and other Firefest performers coming soon to Decibel Geek's YouTube Channel
From knowing "of" them to album purchasing to concert cheering to joining the Ten Army fan page, I guess you could say I've become a full fledged Ten fan.  Now it's your turn and Albion is a great place to start!

BUY: Ten - Albion

The Meister

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

These Austrians Shout For Heavy Metal

These Austrians from the city of Vorarlberg started out in the 80's and issued a three track, cult followed EP, No War in 1987 as well as some demo recordings.  They were not heard from again.  Re-grouping in 2009 they released No War & More, a compilation album featuring the No War  EP and some bonus tracks via Pure Steel Records.  2011 saw them issue their first full length in Mortician and now they have returned with Shout For Heavy Metal.  Originals Patrik Lercher (bass) and Thomas Metzler (guitar) have joined with new recruits Daniel Kahn (vocals) and Alex "Black Cat" (drums) for this latest outing.  I guess you could say it took Mortician a long time to get going, but it seems they're not about to lose momentum now and thank God for that!

The album art for Shout For Heavy Metal seems to conjure up Iron Maiden images and the record starts off with a sort of Iron Maiden vibe in the title track, "Shout For Heavy Metal".  As the song begins to kick in and your head starts banging the vocals seem a bit of a contrast, not fitting very well.  That feeling quickly left me as the song went on and I became accustomed to Daniel Kahn's growly tones.  The track is a pure fist pumping, hard driving metal anthem at it's finest.  The rampaging opening riffs of "Eagle Spy" carry this helping of old school metal bound to incite some air drumming.  Iron Maiden is not the only influence on Mortician as "Promised Land" contains elements reminding me of other greats such as Saxon and Accept, but again the vocals seem a little mismatched at times during the verses.  The shortest song, "Rock Power" at just over three minutes weighs in next having a decided Saxon vibe to it while "The Devil You Know" screams Judas Priest to me.  Mortician have all the influences of the bands tattooed on my arm!  The "Satan" chanting in "Black Eyes" is a little odd but "Inner Self" has a ridiculously, awesomely catchy chorus and had my head banging while air drumming with
pencils sitting at my computer desk writing this.  "Hate" starts off slow and acoustic before filling out almost like a bomb drops in a plodding composition, my least favorite in every
listen.  "Wrong Way" brings us back again, another ripping anthem and strong closer for the record.

The promo photo included in the press kit only pictures three of the men and for crying out loud, do you think you could have put the cell phone down during the photo shoot???

The more I delve into and play Shout For Heavy Metal, the more Kahn's vocals settle in with me.  He seems to wear several hats and displays just as many vocal styles, usually more than one during each track. From the growly/gravelly to strong and clear to high pitched, sometimes seeming almost like there's shared vocal duties with another member.  Is it Priest/Maiden/Accept/Saxon?  No, but it is chock full of 80's style power riffs and does their obvious influences proud.  I'll be shouting for heavy metal today as I search out 2011's Mortician for purchase!

The Meister

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

KISS Love Gun Deluxe Edition

The definition of insanity:  Giving Gene Simmons money and expecting something different.

Say what you want about us KISS fans.  We have spending power and we like to buy KISS shit.  And shit is largely what they've given us for some time now.  The last two studio records sound like Asylum rejects.  The KISS Kruise is just an annual ritual of them lowering expectations while raising prices.  And when they manage to do something awesome like reissuing all the albums on vinyl in a road case they ask Vinnie Vincent what he thinks they should charge.

The point being when they do something cool they still find a way to underwhelm.  The KISSology DVD sets were well done packages of what KISS fans have wanted for years.  Complete with unique Easter eggs and content that merited the cost.  But of course they edited the Tom Snyder interview to make Gene look less douche-y and Ace less awesome.  And for each release there was the bonus discs.  A different bonus disc per retailer.  Meaning if you wanted them all you had to buy it 3 times.  

Lets talk about this Love Gun Deluxe edition.  Not counting the many used vinyl copies I've purchased, this will be the sixth time I bought this album.  I know.  Fool me once.  Shame on you.  Fool me six or more times... Look, I know to an outsider it looks like punching yourself in the face.  True KISS fans will understand.  But I'm not sure I get the timing.  Why Love Gun?  Why now?  Are there more coming?  Are they gonna cost 28 bucks?  Putting those questions aside what does 28 bucks get ya?

Well, for starters, the song Love Gun is on here four times.  One is of Paul Stanley explaining to a 1970's tape recorder how to play it.  He sounds like he was getting ready to do the Ambien challenge when he suddenly remembered he had to do this.  I can't imagine why was this ever recorded?  Then the demo of a previously unreleased Gene song called Reputation.  KISS demos of songs released and unreleased have been available via bootlegs of some form for decades so all an official KISS release has to offer is the best possible fidelity of a given track.  Including this track on this "Deluxe" edition is particularly offensive as they already released it a few months back on their double disc retrospective KISS 40.  Did they think we forgot?  This song eventually morphed into True Confessions and appeared on Gene's 78' solo album.  

I Know Who You Are is another song that would appear on his solo record in reworked fashion ala Lving In Sin.  In both cases it's cool to hear how these songs transformed into their end result.  The only other unreleased song is called Much Too Soon.  Another Gene track.  It's clear this has no business on a KISS album but I think, in the 70's especially, Gene had such a unique approach to writing.  This song is a little weird but for a fan it's a lot of fun to hear.  More please.  There are also demo's for Hooligan, Plaster Caster and an instrumental demo of Tomorrow and Tonight for the karaoke fans out there.  

The interview of Gene from 1977 is interesting to listen to as Gene hadn't quite developed his arsenal of bumper sticker ethos he spews in every interview nowadays.  Which leaves us with the "live" tracks.  The vocals were redone recently.  Like a few days ago recently.  They pulled this crap with the just in time for a tour release You Wanted The Best in 1996 which featured some "Lost" tracks from the Alive! recording.  Gene.  Paul.  We can tell.    This is unnecessary and frankly embarrassing.

At least it comes with a booklet chock full of cool pictures from the time with the self serving bio that accompanies releases like these.  And who do they get to write the liner notes?  Joe Elliot.  A man who never had a kind word to say about KISS prior to joining them on tour this year.  Whether it's Garth Brooks or Lady Gaga this is just another reminder how much KISS wants us to know that famous people like them.  The original album came with a paper gun.  This comes with a magnet of that gun.  Which is probably the coolest thing about this.  Is that enough?

This is KISS.  This is charging 1000 bucks for a meet and greet and saying "no pictures."  This is charging 40 bucks for Carnival of Souls on vinyl with a cover that was scanned from a CD copy.  This is promising all sorts of goodies with ALIVE III and then giving none of it.  This is playing the same 15 songs for a decade.  This is a box set with almost no unique content.  This is dumping Melvins from KISS My Ass for flavor of the month Dinosaur Jr.  This is the Rock n Roll HOF with no performance.  This is pretending Carr Jam wasn't a song on an Ace Frehley record called Breakout.  This... is KISS. 

The really sad thing is I know, as much as I just complained, I will buy the next underwhelming "new" release.  I'm my own worst enemy.  I am a completionist.  And there are a lot of me.  And KISS knows it.  They will continue to tease with snippets and charge premium price for a product you already own.  They will never intentionally make a performance unique and they will always try to control the story.  But here's the thing.  Why do they think they can only get our money if what they offer is underwhelming?  Why does their business model seem to be "If it's cool we won't make money."?  They put together this "Deluxe Edition" as if it were for the audience of the Super Bowl.     

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how these are being handled.  There seems no effort to make it truly special.  And does it really need to cost so much?  Why not do a package like this for all of the records, one at a time and in order of release?  Starting with a proper release of Wicked Lester.  Aren't you old enough to not be embarrassed anymore.  You do know we've all heard it.

So I am offering my services, FREE OF CHARGE, (You like that don't ya Genie baby) to oversee all future Deluxe reissues of this wonderful back catalog.  I will need final say in all bonus material and there will be no re-recording of anything.  Demos and live performances shall be presented with existing warts.  It will be cool and you will make money.     

So Gene.  Paul.  You got a lot of my money.  Your gonna get more.  You can do better than 4 versions of Love Gun can't ya?  Search your feelings you know it to be true.  Anyway, let me know when you want me to start working on that Wicked Lester release as the fans and I are waiting. 



Meister Loves "Girls of the 80's": A Crazy Lixx Album Review

Lovers of 80's glam/sleaze in the veins of Motley Crue, Guns N' Roses and KISS can rejoice in the Swedish outfit Crazy Lixx.  The band hails from Malmo, Sweden and came to be around 2002 when they wished to bring 80's hard rock back to the music scene.  The 2007 debut album, Loud Minority, was issued via a local Swedish label until Frontiers records snatched them up for 2010's New Religion, 2012's Riot Avenue and now 2014's Crazy Lixx.  Interestingly, the band's logo seems to be a little different for each of these album covers.  Crazy Lixx, comprised of original co-founder and vocalist Danny Rexon, guitarists Andy Zata and Edd Liam, bassist Jens Sjoholm and drummer Joel Cirera, have delivered an awesome collection of 80's vein hard glam rock with this self titled release.

The album kicks off with the first single, also given the video treatment, "Hell Raising Women".  The opening riffs tell you basically all you need to know, just get off your seat and get your fist in the air!  "Sound of the Loud Minority" is the next selection and is just a little behind the opener in it's infection.  "Outlaw" charges out of the gates and features a sing along chorus, but "Girls of the 80's" is nothing short of phenomenal.  The track reminds me of exactly what got me into this music in days of my youth and I feel like calling up friends on the rotary dial phone and telling them to bring over a blank cassette.  Things slow down just a little in "I Missed the Mark" and the misleadingly titled "All Looks, No Hooks" is anything but free of hooks.  A statement that has been made many times by many bands rings clear again here in the upbeat rager "Ain't No Rest in Rock N' Roll".  "Call to Action" gets lost in the shuffle a little, but "Heroes Are Forever", a re-working of the song off of Loud Minority, jumps right out at you.  "Psycho City" has a chorus of gang vocals that's ridiculously familiar, but I can't quite place it and things finish up with "Wrecking Ball Crew".
Crazy Lixx tends to peter out a little during the latter half of the record, but nonetheless this is a strong glam/sleaze effort straight out of the 80's......gotta go now and hit play all over again!

BUY: Crazy Lixx - Crazy Lixx

The Meister

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rated X Album Review


It used to be artists, with few exceptions, were identified primarily for one specific band. Rarely, if ever, did they stray from that band. Occasionally, artists, for any number of reasons, would step outside to do a solo record or come together with other established musicians outside the bands for which they were known. These groups were often called supergroups due to each of the members’ high level of individual accomplishment. Today, the musical landscape has changed dramatically in this regard. It’s not uncommon for artists to be involved in two or more projects or bands at the same time. Many of these projects come and go so quickly that they never even do a live date together. No sooner does the album drop than some of the members are off to promoting the next project. This is not only a quantity issue. Quality suffers as well. These albums are commonly feel rushed and limited production-wise by tight budgets. They result is often a few gems lost within a whole lot of mediocre. Among all this confusion and dilution, there is occasionally a band that comes a long that is a reminder of an earlier time, a time when supergroup meant something. Rated X is one of those bands.

The idea for Rated X was born with Frontiers Records President, Serefino Perugino, who approached Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen) about creating a group of A-list musicians to create a top notch hard rock record. Frontiers label-mate Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Ozzy Osbourne, Blue Murder, King Kobra) was the first to come aboard, followed by fretless bassist extraordinaire, Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder, Kenny Wayne Shepherd). Turner and the reunited classic Blue Murder rhythm section, was rounded out by Joe Lynn Turner's guitarist and KISS collaborator, Karl Cochran. KISS fans know Cochran as the guy who co-wrote Into the Void with Ace Frehley for the Psycho Circus album and also served as Ace's touring bassist for a time. The sound of Rated X can be best described as what you'd get if Joe Lynn Turner were to have joined Blue Murder. Catchy melodies, huge choruses, pounding drums and killer guitar riffs. There's also plenty of opportunity for Tony Franklin to lay down plenty of tasty fretless bass melodies. Use of keyboards and more complex instrumental sections, at times, give the songs a classic Deep Purple/Rainbow feel.

Rated X track listing:

"Get Back My Crown": Strong opener. Great riff. Classic Turner sound with very Deep Purple/Rainbow keyboard solo. A tip of he hat to the great Jon Lord. Cochran shines right out of the gate.

"This Is Who I Am": One of two songs released with the pre-order. The chorus makes this song. Dare you to not be singing along before it's over. The rhythm sections, particularly Appice, drives this one.

"Fire And Ice": Franking shines on this one, The fretless bass takes the lead on the intro. Another classic Joe Lynn Turner chorus. Hook for days. Cool Zeppelin-like interlude leading to the guitar solo.

"I Don’t Cry No More": Turner's Malmsteen meets Rainbow. The solo section stands out on this one. The keyboard and guitar trade licks before kicking into a harmony solo.

"Lhasa": 7 minutes long and Blue Murder all the way. Could have been called Valley of the Kings Part II". At least it would appear intentional as "Valley of the Kings" is referenced in the first line of the song. The interlude section which features Franklin and Appice is the highlight on this one.

"Devil In Disguise": This track is just okay. Not a terrible song, but average relative to the high bar set by the rest of the record. To me nothing really stands out above the rest here. Maybe it will grow on me over time.

"You Are The Music": If there's a weak point on the record, this is it. I have high expectations for a Joe Lynn Turner ballad and this one just falls short. Musically, it's not all that bad, but lyrically it's lost on me.

"Peace Of Mind": The record starts to get back on track after somewhat lackluster offerings in tracks 6 and 7. Definitely better than "Devil In Disguise" and a hint of things to come. This track features a cool bass solo.

"Maybe Tonight": Strong mid-tempo rocker. Turner's melodic AOR rock side is on full display on this one, especially the chorus. Closest to a Turner solo track as anything on the record. Nice use of piano on the intro.

"On The Way To Paradise": Straight ahead  rocker. Great track. Main riff and extended solo/bridge section reminds of Turner's Rainbow days. Cochran drives this one.

"Our Love Is Not Over": Finally! The classic Joe Lynn Turner ballad I was hoping for with track 7. Worth the wait. Cochran channels his inner Gary Moore on this one. Get that lighter out.

"Stranger In Us All": The second song released early with the pre-order. Strong finish to the record. Franklin's fretless shines again in the solo section. Another reminder of what a monster Tony Franklin is.

For those unaware, Karl Cochran suffered a serious stroke in April, 2014. He beat the odds and is now facing a long road to recovery. Please help support Karl by checking out this record and, if you dig it, please purchase up a copy. Its available on CD and digitally from Amazon and iTunes.

Below is the video for "This is Who I Am"

Lessons in Decay

From Stuttgart, Germany comes Helldorados.  This raw sounding helping of straightforward heavy sleaze/punk rock is the sophomore effort from the Germans who have set stages for the likes of Y&T, Rhino Bucket, The Darkness and Bullet.  The title, Lessons in Decay may elude that this is an album more fitted into the death metal category, but that's not the case at all.  Chock full of simple driving style tunes loaded with riffs, Helldorados have delivered an fairly decent effort with Lessons in Decay.  Helldorados are comprised of Pierre handling vocals, Gunnar the bass, Steve the guitars and Chris on the drums.

"Seven Deadly Sins" leads the charge with a four count in German and then some raw guitar riff.  The pulse pounding track has some punk influences to it, but there's nothing too original or ground blazing here.  The vocals seem to be a little on the weak side to me, strongest during the group vocal choruses.  The shortest of the eleven tracks on Lessons in Decay comes next with "In For the Kill" at just under three minutes starting great until the vocals kick in and the tempo changes make it seem a little disjointed at times.  The charging riffs push "By the Progress" forward, Pierre's vocals sounding more fitting on this one.  Not sure what they're suggesting with the title"The Devil Takes the Hindmost" but the song really reminds me of a Rhino Bucket track that didn't make the cut.  "Anytime Anywhere" seems to be an attempt at the radio friendly, which I must admit was rolling around in my head several days after listening.  "Let Us Play" falls into the same vein while "Megalomaniac" leans more towards the thrash sound.  "Wake Up Dead", not a Megadeth cover, struck me as pretty close to "Shake Me" from Cinderella at the start, but opens up into a rather mundane track.  "To Live Is To Die" picks things up a little, but again the vocals just don't seem to match or work for me here, something that's been abundant throughout this release.  "Something Sweet"starts out great musically but becomes nothing short of ridiculous when they begin to sing about burgers, pizza and other silliness.  Sure makes it seem like they don't want anyone to take them seriously.  Lessons in Decay wraps up with "We Won't Back Down" another mundane attempt that just misses the mark.

Overall there's a few tracks here that just don't seem to fit well with the rest, but it's not a terrible album, just not an awesome one either.  "By the Progress" would probably be the stand out for me a beacon of light in the tunnel of album mundanity and here's the video for it below.

BUY: Helldorados - Lessons In Decay

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Brighton Rock Takeover - Ep163


This week's episode marks the third time that the "Hoser Heavy Metal Twins" have taken the reigns of the Decibel Geek Podcast. Once again Wally "Wallygator" Norton and Rich "The Meister" Dillon are back with a new batch of Canadian homegrown hard rock and heavy metal. Joining the Decibel Geek website writers turned hosts are two very special guests guitarist Greg Fraser and bassist Stevie Skreebs from Canadian bands Brighton Rock and Fraze Gang.

"Roadtrip!" was called, as the Decibel Geek podcast headed out to Niagara Falls Canada to the home of bassist Stevie Skreebs. Equipped with some Iron Maiden Trooper beer, we set up shop in the very basement where Brighton Rock often rehearse and where Fraze Gang came to life.

For the next hour the guys enjoyed some laughs, some beers and most importantly some great Canadian music. Also touched on throughout the show, the formation of Brighton Rock, playing a historic show with Triumph, how they came to be part of Mitch Lafon's KISS tribute album, their interpretation of "Creatures of the Night" and more. They also chime in on Gene Simmon's "rock is dead" quote and of course they discussed the progress on the upcoming and eagerly anticipated new Brighton Rock record that is in the works.  The Decibel Geeks can tell's gonna be fantastic!

Wally's Story...
Greg rocking the Hammer 1989
I have written about growing up a Canadian metal fan in the 80's many times now. We didn't get MTV north of the border, instead we got the Canadian version called Much Music. Much played all the big rock videos of the day. Crue, Def Leppard and Whitesnake were there, of course, but right along with them were plenty of great Canadian rock, Coney Hatch, the KiLLeR DWaRfS and Brighton Rock among the best. They were every bit the "rock gods" that Sixx, Elliot and Coverdale were. Of course they were, they were all over our televisions and radio airwaves. It almost seems strange to me that these great Canadian bands were not necessarily getting the same exposure south of the border.

Brighton Rock in the 80's burned quite a trail, released three incredible albums produced by Michael Wagener, Jack Richardson and Toby Wright respectively. They earned Gold records, won Juno awards and toured the country relentlessly. Over the years I was privileged enough to catch Brighton Rock live probably a dozen or more times. From various clubs in Hamilton (Dallas, Bannisters, etc.), my college pub on frosh week, opening for Honeymoon Suite at COPPS Coliseum and opening for Triumph at Canada's Wonderland.

Stevie's Peavey!
If you had told the 18 year old me that I would be invited to sit around and chat with Greg and Stevie, at Stevie's house no less, I might have actually peed myself. Fortunately as a mature adult now (shut up Rich!), I was able to contain my bladder and enjoy the experience. After the recording, the conversation continued on and as hinted on the show we got a sneak peak at one of the new songs slated for the new Brighton Rock record. A thick heavy riff sets off a great new tune that I can't wait to add to my music collection, hurry up fellas! Stevie even let me tinker with his bass as I suddenly went fanboy and almost did a Wayne's World "We're not worthy!" You can see how miserable I am in the photo.

Being able to share some Brighton Rock and Fraze Gang music has been a blast! I want to thank Stevie and Greg for being a part of the show, sharing some of your musical picks and for sharing some of the great memories with the Decibel Geek listeners.

Rich "The Meister"'s Story:
Thanksgiving is upon us once again and it's time for Chris and Aaron's yearly week off.  These two faithfully deliver an inciteful, humorous, and entertaining podcast each and every week, never having missed one for a total of 162 episodes!  In what has become a yearly tradition in itself, The Hoser Heavy Metal Twins, Canadians Wally "Wallygator" Norton and Rich "The Meister" Dillon are back for a third year of stepping in to bring you this week's episode.

I wanted to do something different for our third year attempting to remotely fill the big shoes of the regular Decibel Geek hosts and basically give the faithful listeners something better than just the two of us "Hosers".  I didn't know quite what, but almost immediately after I expressed this sentiment to Wally he returned with the suggestion that soon became a reality.  Joining the Decibel Geek website writers turned hosts for this
The Meister mauled by Brighton Rock!
episode are two very special guests, guitarist Greg Fraser and bassist Stevie Skreebs from the Canadian bands Brighton Rock and Fraze Gang.

Personally, I almost feel deprived at times, especially when reading Wally's story above, in that although I was a long time listener my first concert experience with Brighton Rock was the October 2012 show at The Rockpile in Toronto.  Wally and I got the opportunity to sit down with frontman Gerry McGhee before the event for an in depth interview.  The boys had set the gig as a warm up for their planned appearance at that year's Firefest Festival in Nottingham UK and what a show it was.  It was thrilling to finally get to see these guys live and I don't know what they were like then, but I think I can safely say they're stronger than ever.  Over the next couple of years I would often speak to Greg via the internet and even run into him at various shows held at The Rockpile venues, to the point where a friendship has formed.  Even with this it was still exciting to sit down and talk with the boys in this revered space.  As Wally eluded to the fact that 18 year old him may have wet himself, 41 year old me was near that (well I did drink a fair amount of Skreebs' beer!).

With the traditional "Keep it Canadian" theme, the four play some great Canadian music, some Brighton Rock/Fraze Gang, chat about bands, music, concert memories and of course drink some beer.  Hopefully you find it as interesting to listen to as we did fun in recording it.

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Brighton Rock -Young, Wild & Free
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Gus G. Is The Fire - Record Review

I first heard of Gus when the rumors swirled he would replace longtime Ozzy guitar player Zac Wylde.  Soon confirmed, my first exposure to Gus' playing was on the Ozzy record Scream.  Equal parts of Ozzy alumnus Jake E. Lee and Zach Wylde.  So when I was given the chance to write a review of Gus' first solo offering I was happy to have ears and the opportunity.
I Am The Fire follows the path of guitar hero records of lore that feature multiple singers.  Iommi, Slash and to even Dave Grohl with Probot have all delivered great albums in this format.  While the names on Gus' record are less boner inspiring it still sends blood to the penis.  

After my first listen I feel comfortable saying something called Mats Leven makes too much of an appearance.  Equal parts capable and boring.  One song is more than enough when you have Jeff Scott Soto and Alexia Rodriguez on the same record.  Give me more of them and less of him please.


While I'm not typically a fan of them there are a couple of really good instrumentals that unnecessarily feature guest bassists Billy Sheehan and Dave Ellefson.  One thing you gotta like about Gus is his attention to rhythm.  A lot of shredders struggle with the other 90% of the song.  But Gus can deliver a great riff.  And with Ozzy claiming to have written all of the guitar parts on Scream, I had my reservations.  He delivers inspired rhythm tracks throughout
Gus has the chops for sure but what he has beyond that is the ability to shred in a way that keeps your interest.  Its no coincidence that Ozzy got him. 
Stand out tracks:  Long Way Down, Redemption, Summer Days, Dreamkeeper and End of The Line.
Odds I will play this record more than 5 times in the next 12 months:  70%
I would chop and snort a line of gyro's if there was a chance it would make me a better guitar player. Gus is one of those players who either inspire you to practice more or inspire you to give up the guitar for a life of masturbation.  This is a good but not great rock album.  But since everyone is jumping on the Gene Simmons "Rock was be-headed by angry fans of the Voice let me say...



Lyriel Album Review

When I opened the press release for Lyriel’s Skin and Bones album I was initially turned off by the words “Gothic Metal”.  Not being a particular fan of this category, only dabbling in a little bit here and there by accident, might have been some of the reasons that I had never heard of Lyriel.  The female fronted band hail from Germany and Skin and Bones, available November 4, 2014, is their fifth effort.

Skin and Bones begins with the grinding power metal like opening riffs of “Numbers” before the violin kicks in its assistance.  With a bit of a Celtic flare to the sound Jessica Thierjung’s soft vocals soar like the tones of an angel.  Definitely a symphonic feel mixed with classic power metal create an enjoyable listen.  “Falling Skies” begins with more larger than life excellent guitar riffs before the violin and cello strings chime in again.  Linda Laukamp wields the cello, while the ladies are backed up by bassist Oliver Thierjung, violinist Joon Laukamp, guitarist Tim Sonnenstuhl and drummer Markus Fidorra.  The title track, “Skin and Bones”, up next, powers things in the same tempo changing vein along to “Black and White”.  The slower paced “Black and White” sees vocalist Jessica in a duet with the gravelly tones of Christian Alvestam (ex-Scar Symetry, Solution .45) which is another refreshing change to keep your interest in the record.  “Days Had Just Begun” starts off as a tender slow ballad before the band kicks in for the chorus.  Without going into each of the thirteen tracks on Skin and Bones, some of the highlights for the rest of the album are the foreign language “Der Weg” and the upbeat numbers "Worth the Fight" and "Running In Our Blood".

 The only track that I can definitely do without is the abysmal ballad "Astray", but remember I'm far from an enjoyer of the slower fare.
Lyriel - photo taken from record promotion press kit
This release could certainly do with some fantastic cover art as an upgrade to the nondescript boringness that the band has chosen to adorn the record.  Despite that there is definitely a unique sound to this band and album, something different and quite refreshing actually.  Check out the official video for the lead track, "Numbers".
The Meister

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Revolution of Xtasy: Review of Xtasy's Revolution Album

Pamplona, Spain was the scene for the beginnings of melodic rock outfit Xtasy back in 2011.  The project started out as a studio outing from vocalist Silvia I. and guitarist Jorge Olloqui but in December of 2013 they became a band with the addition of guitarist Angel G., bassist David Clavero, drummer David Tutumba and keyboardist Jakin Tza.  During January and February 2014 the compositions written by Silvia and Jorge, now recorded with the help of some friends and special guests, were mixed and mastered by Erik Martensson (W.E.T./Eclipse).  The band has shared stages with some of my favorites such as Helix, Crazy Lixx, Thundermother and soon to be Eclipse.  Now the Revolution album has been unveiled to the public and has found it's way to The Meister.

Revolution leads off with the first single and video "Stronger".  A soft piano against the backdrop of rain falling begins the track softly before it explodes with the rest of the band.  Silvia's powerful and distinctive vocals guide the listener through this strong hard rock track that oozes a European power metal feel.  The album's title track, "Revolution", ramps up the pace and energy with some great riffs and guitar solo for probably my favorite song.  The album moves on with "Million Miles", a little higher pitched for my complete enjoyment, before "All For One" which has "radio hit" written all over it.  "Scream" takes us through to the acoustic beginnings of the ballad "It Is You".  "Rebel Rider" picks up the pace once again in one of the stronger tracks on Revolution while "Many Years" again slows down, power ballad style.  "Rocking the World" does just that in fine melodic rock fashion and the appropriate "Bye Bye" wraps things up with another sleeper ballad.

Overall quite a solid outing here for Xtasy's debut with Revolution, the strong tracks are just that, solid melodic rock efforts.  A little too much slower material and/or ballads for my personal likings, but then I've never been a fan of those things anyway.

Here's the video for "Stronger" and you can also find "All For One" and "Many Years" available for listening on the band's website.

BUY: Xtasy - Revolution

The Meister

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Storm Has Arrived: In Faith's There's A Storm Coming Review

I discovered this melodic rock masterpiece while over in Nottingham, England for Firefest: The Final Fling Festival October 24-26, 2014.  In Faith is a British outfit made up of former members of Vaughn, Wild and Eden’s Curse/Tainted Nation.  The collaborations originally begun in 1991 with vocalist Pete Godfrey and guitarist Tony Marshall, but nothing came to fruition.  They made contact with each other a few times over the resulting years and finally sat down again and began to
In Faith @ Firefest CD Listening Party Oct 23, 2014 - photo Shawn Irwin
write together in 2012/2013.  Pete Newdeck became involved at the behest of Tony Marshall when he asked Newdeck to help with the drums and the recording process for the material he and Godfrey had crafted.  Newdeck liked the work and quickly became the third member of this band that had still to choose a moniker.  Firefest Festival organizer Kieran Dargan, suggested that the guys write a song that would serve as the international anthem for Firefest X (October 2013).  They chose In Faith as their band's name and with that they began writing, re-writing, tweaking and improving the songs in preparation for an album.  Some assistance was enlisted in the form of Chris Green (Rubicon Cross), Pat Heath (Furyon) and Brooke St. James (Tyketto) on select tracks.  The whole collection was produced by Pete Newdeck and Tony Marshall, engineered and mixed by Pete Newdeck and mastered in Toronto by Harem Scarem's Harry Hess.

The tuning of a radio fades in before the opening song, "Radio", erupts to ride full out in this melodic masterpiece.  There's A Storm Coming was mastered by Harry Hess of Canadian band Harem Scarem and it's readily evident that he and the band have done an incredible job.  Everything is so clear and defined here, an excellent sound all around.  The lead single, "Does It Feel Like Love", is a sing along delight while the awesome "Church of Rock an' Roll" was the theme song written for 2013's Firefest: X Festival.  "Where I Wanna Be" slows things down a little, not something I'm usually a fan of, but can't help toe-tapping and singing along here.  The crunchier "Addicted" is one of the stand outs if I was forced at gunpoint to choose one track over another here.  Another slower track appears next with "If That's What Love Means" and once again, although not my usual preference works well here.  A quick native sounding chanting leads off "All Or Nothing" and the longest track at just over 5 minutes,"In Flames", is nothing short of genre defining.  "A Million Ways" and the acoustic "Leave Me Now" bring us to the final track on There's A Storm Coming.  The hard rockin' "Bitter End" is just that, leaving an empty void until you hit play and start all over again.

Posted on the band's Facebook page on November 11, 2014 was "Theres a storm coming has sold out on Amazon in the UK and NEH records in the states. Reorders have been placed and stock should be in place very soon. Thank you for your support and please be patient."  After being on sale for only about two weeks, in this day and age of the lack of CD buying that's great to see!

The buzz that I've been seeing on this release has been swamping the internet and all of it beyond impressively awesome.  One of the best albums I've heard this year, watch for this effort's placement in my top of 2014.

The Meister

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Power Metal Delight: A Review of Thomsen's Unbroken

Once again another brilliant discovery thanks to the record company behind Thomsen's Unbroken CD.  I was completely unfamiliar with the band when I received the album via download for review.  Immediately upon spinning Unbroken I delighted in the meaty power metal contained therein, being a consistently growing fan of that sub-genre.  The project is the brainchild of guitarist, composer and general mastermind Rene Thomsen.  Don't worry I had never heard of him either, but it turns out that the October 28, 2014 released Unbroken is the follow up to 2009 issued Let's Get Ruthless.  The roster of players on this album reads with Thomsen and Michael Pesin handling guitars, drums bashed by Max Dietzmann, thundering bass supplied by Ingo Luhring and vocals delivered by Denis Brosowski and Robert Soeterboek.  Alongside these musicians several special guests lend their talents to the record including Udo Dirkschneider and Vinny Appice among others.  Rene Thomsen composed Unbroken's fare together with Helge Engelke, Fair Warning's producer and guitarist.

A delicious helping of classic European power metal, riff laden, guitar noodling solos and biting vocals and that's only the opening "Draw the Curtains" featuring Morbid Angel's David Vincent on bass and Bobby Jarzombek behind the kit.  The not even three minutes long "In Steel We Trust" is a power/thrash metal offering that simply ends far too quickly and showcases Andre Hilgers on drums.  Hilgers supplies the drum portions of the album for tracks "In Steel We Trust", "Break That Spell", "Dream" and "Into the Unknown" while Jarzombek handles "Draw the Curtains", "New Horizon", "Fools of Fortune" and the album's title track "Unbroken".  The album surges on with "New Horizon", "Break the Spell" and "Dream", all power metal treats rampant with riff guitar work and piercing vocals.  "Fools of Fortune" may be the stand out cut for me here on Unbroken with its infectious chorus and blistering pace.  "Into the Unknown" and the album's title track, "Unbroken" maintain the album's pace and style.  The ninth track, "Six Thirteen 
64" is a minute and a half instrumental that serves as an intro to "We Made It".  Both the intro and "We Made It"'s guitar solo were crafted by former U.D.O. guitarist Mathias Dieth and Udo Dirkschneider himself provides the vocals.  The slower paced, moody song was written by Thomsen in remembrance of Ronnie James Dio, during the night following his death and also sees Vinny Appice on drums.  The final two tracks of Unbroken, "One" and "Tears of the Sun", the latter being a recording of a stage rehearsal, feature the band's new vocalist Denis Brosowski.

Definitely a strong power metal effort from Thomsen, enough to have me searching out the debut!  Check out these videos from the album.

The Meister

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(Thomsen Website) (Thomsen Facebook)

Riot V Unleash the Fire is unleashing greatness


In a year that has seen quite few releases by big name bands in hard rock and heavy metal, there is one new album that should not get lost in the shuffle. Unleash the Fire by Riot V is that album. 

Anyone who has watched, listened or for that matter read anything that Eddie Trunk has done has to be familiar with the band Riot. It was Eddie's passion for Riot that inspired me to check them out, and for that I give him a big thanks. 

Riot is a woefully underrated band that in its 35 plus year career is now releasing its fifteenth album. During their history there have been multiple band member changes, but guitarist Mark Reale had been there through it all. With his premature passing in 2012, just after the release of the Immortal Soul album, I thought Riot had run its course. To my pleasant surprise, late last year I read that bassist Don Van Stavern and guitarist Mike Flyntz announced that with the blessing of Mark's father Tony they were going to carry on. The Reale family asked that the name change, so with the addition of the new vocalist Todd Michael Hall, the fifth recording singer in the bands recording history, we get Riot V. The rest of the band consists of drummer Frank Gilchriest and one time Mike Flintz guitar student Nick Lee. 

So is Unleash the Fire a tribute album or is it a stand alone release of a new band? I think it is both. The first four tracks are excellent power metal songs that could have been on Riots monumental first power metal release, 1988's Thundersteel. The fifth cut is the the title track and where the band veers off the power metal formula and goes in a more straight heavy metal direction. This is a great song and makes a statement; this is a fresh band that has something to say. Land of the Rising Sun is next, and could be my favorite song.  To me this song is not only a thank you to their fans, but cleverly mixes into the lyrics references past Riot songs and band history, very well done!  Kill to Survive keeps the rapid pace going and then we come to Return of the Outlaw. This song seems to me to be the sister song to the Riot staple Outlaw. This song takes me back to that era but is also delivered with such swagger and confidence that will make the hair on your arm stand up! Immortal is the next track, and it is the first of two heart felt tributes to Mark Reale. The other is the last cut on the album, Until We Meet Again. Sandwiched between those two songs are the very heavy metal Take Me Back and the power metal Fight Fight Fight, and both are solid tracks. 

For my taste, there is not a bad song on this album; the musicianship is top notch throughout. The band member who steals the show is singer Todd Michael Hall. I have no idea why this guy is not a household name, after all he has been in and out of bands since the late eighties. Apart from his four octave range, his voice is so strong and clear as he goes up and down the scales. The sense of melody in these songs is fantastic. If each song is worth one point, then I rate this album a 10 out of 12. Do yourself a favor and buy this record!

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