Devin Townsend - EMPATH (InsideOut/Sony Music)
Devin Townsend is a very unique talent. As someone who needs melody, vocals and structure in the music they listen to, there is no surprise that I never quite warmed to Devin Townsend... until now. His latest album EMPATH is an absolute stunner of a disc that really made me open my ears and mind to his brand of music and art.
Maybe because I've been doing so much book research into the world of King Crimson, but I hear Townsend in a much different light. In the past all I have heard was noise and scream-o vocals, but now, on EMPATH, I hear nods to Crimson (1980's version with Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Bill Bruford), Peter Gabriel led Genesis and even some Electric Light Orchestra.
Songs like When Spirits Collide and Evermore are a mix of modern music mixed with operatic vocals, emotional rhythms and the occasional Frank Zappa freak out... and it all works perfectly. The most unique song on the album, Sprite has everything; nursery rhyme style intro into a nice pace with tasty guitars and schizophrenic time changes. The albums closer and epic track, Singularity, is almost a half hour song that somehow... never gets boring. Townsend's guitar playing and vocals are so calming and peaceful until it's time not to be. My favorite song on the album is Boarderlands, a song that starts out like Paul McCartney singing reggae, then has some heavy moments, a baby crying and then... Pink Floyd happens.
I'm curious how Townsend's fans will react to EMPATH? I know he has a ravenous and very loyal fan base who love his eclectic sounds, but since I love this i'm wondering... did he go too soft or is change what his fans expect?
MATMAN RATING - 4 OUT OF 5
Bon Jovi working on 14th album
Gene Simmons--Vinnie Vincent not joining KISS on ‘End of the Road World Tour’
Sebastian Bach’s new solo album
John Anderson open to YES reunion
Passing of Bernie Torme
Whitesnake--Slide it In (2019)
Six Degrees of Frankie B.
Facebook comments on our Motley Crue/Dream Theater episode
Rockversation: James Christian
Matt recently spoke with the House of Lords singer at one of their shows. You can follow House of Lords on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HouseOfLordsB.
Bonus Track: Crucify by Steel Prophet
From the upcoming album THE GOD MACHINE, out April 26th on Rock of Angels Records.
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In 1984 Whitesnake not only released my favorite album of theirs, SLIDE IT IN, but one of my desert island discs. For me to talk about SLIDE IT IN is me talking about near musical perfection... 10 amazing songs, two very distinct versions featuring different line-ups.
The story is this... Whitesnake were on the verge of breaking up. Despite being one of Europe's biggest acts, vocalist David Coverdale was struggling to keep things afloat with virtually no success in the US. Recently signed to Geffen Records for American releases, Whitesnake recorded SLIDE IT IN with the line-up of Coverdale, drummer Cozy Powell, bassist Colin Hodgkinson, keyboardist John Lord and guitarists Mel Galley and Micky Moody. The album was released in Europe that January, but before it was released in the US a few months later, Geffen wanted it remixed and 'jazzed' up. As the band were on tour, Galley and Moody were soon gone being replaced by John Sykes, Lord returned to Deep Purple and Hodgkinson was replaced by a returning Neil Murray. Both Murray and Sykes added their styles to the album and the US version was a bit more flashy and very radio friendly.
Both versions of SLIDE IT IN are amazing in their own way and for their own special reasons. They feature the same songs with a different running order (I prefer the UK version) and each have their own personality... and both are awesome.
To celebrate this fantastic album, Rhino Records have released SLIDE IT IN - 35TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION, a deluxe 6 CD/1 DVD collection with everything you would want; both versions of the album remastered, outtakes, live versions, demos and my favorite, a remixed 35 year edition. Some people have been complaining about the remixed 2019 version and although the songs sound a bit different, it is just another amazing new take on 10 classic songs!!! Books... posters... memories!!!!!!
Another pure bonus in the collection is the Monitor Mix versions. What you are hearing here is the songs being fleshed out with some different lyrics, sometimes no lyrics and a few different arrangements. This is another amazing bonus that just adds to the magic of this amazing album.
WOW!!!! If you only began your Whitesnake career with WHITESNAKE 1987, you owe it to yourself to discover for me where it all began. Then discover the rest of the pre-1987 catalog... amazing music and amazing memories!!!!
Record Store Day Release Highlights
Keith Flint of The Prodigy passes
Whitesnake box set details
Guns and Sweet form Sunbomb
Overkill--The Wings of War (2019)
The End Machine (2019)-
Six Degrees of Frankie B.
Top of the Pops:
Billboard Hot Mainstream rock Tracks for the week of 3/21/81
Rockversation: Chris Caffery
Matt spoke with the former Savatage and current TSO guitarist about his new band Spirits of Fire. The band’s self-titled album is out now on Frontiers Music SRL. You can keep up with Chris on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChrisCafferyMusic.
Bonus Track: Anthem--Immortal Bind
From the album Nucleus, which will release on March 29, 2019 on Nuclear Blast.
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Here are three albums worth checking out... and why! As always thanks to our friends at Golden Robot Records and AFM Records.
Anthem - NUCLEUS
From Japan we have one of the countries longest running and most endearing bands, Anthem. Celebrating 35 years of amazing music, the band have taken some of their best songs and rerecorded them for the first time with English vocals. The result is an incredible listen of classic sounding rock that calls upon bands like Rainbow and Dokken... so win-win! To be honest, this one really caught me off guard with its solid vocals, amazing musicianship and well crafted songs. 24 amazing tracks (11 live versions) NUCLEUS has too many amazing moments, from Immortal Binds to Unbroken Sign, every song has its own charms and moments. Anthem is Naoto Shibata (Bass), Akio Shimizu (Guitars) Yukio Morikawa (Vocals) and Isamu Tamaru (Drums).
Matman Rating - 5 out of 5
NUCLEUS will be released March 29th from Golden Robot Records.
Herman Frank - FIGHT THE FEAR
WOW!!!! Herman Frank is a fixture in the German rock/metal scene. As a member of Accept he has played on (and left his mark) on some of their best albums; BALLS TO THE WALL and STALINGRAD) and was a member of the underrated band Victory. Here on FIGHT THE FEAR, Frank and his band; Rick Altzi (vocals), Andre Hilgers (drums), Michael Müller (bass), Heiko Schröder (guitars) have found a nice middle ground between Frank's two bands. Sure the album is heavy, but it is an easy listen with a lot of melody and flash. Until The End, Fear and Sinners are easy to digest tracks that have a lot of Accept in their DNA, but they certainly are their own songs. With Accept it's hard to hear Frank's playing when he is with the amazing wolf Hoffman, but here... it's all Frank... and it's all amazing stuff.
Matman rating - 4 out of 5
FIGHT THE FEAR was released on February 8th from AFM Records.
Bloodbound - RISE OF THE DRAGON EMPIRE
Apparently, I love Swedish Power Metal!!! A few years back, I didn't even know this stuff existed and now... i'm hooked. But there has to be certain boxes to check in order for me to get fully in. The vocals have to soar well above the music! The music has to be epic; lightning leads, heavy and well placed keyboards. The music must make me feel cold, not emotionally but temperature... like a bright snowy day. Bloodbound's eighth (really?, eight albums?) release, RISE OF THE DRAGON EMPIRE is a fun listen that demands your full participation. Patrik J. Selleby (vocals), Tomas Olsson (guitars), Henrik Olsson (guitars), Anders Broman (bass), Fredrik Bergh (keyboards) and Daniel Sjögren (drums) deliver the goods on the title track, Slayer Of Kings and my favorite on the album, Breaking The Beast. Bloodbound have an image that fits their music and appeals to my comic book/theatrical side... and make it all work perfectly. I LOVE THIS ALBUM AND BAND!!!!
Matman rating 5 out of 5
RISE OF THE DRAGON EMPIRE will be released on March 22nd on AFM Records.
There are several bands out there now with roots to the band Dio and legendary vocalist Ronnie James Dio. One of them is Last In Line, a band formed by three members of Dio's first and classic line-up; Vivian Campbell, Vinnie Appice and the late Jimmy Bain. Together with vocalist Andrew Freeman, they released their impressive debut album in 2016, HEAVY CROWN. The band hit the road and cemented their reputation as a solid live band who were more looking to the future than living in the past. Sadly in 2016, bassist Jimmy Bain passed away. Last month the band released their second album, entitled II.
One of the first thing you will notice is that the band sounds nothing like they did in Dio in both performances and style. Forging their own identity, guitarist Vivian Campbell still has the flash, but on songs like Gods And Tyrants and Landslide, he still plays with the speed you would expect, but there is more control and substance. Drummer Vinnie Appice has always played to the music and here, he continues that trend. On Year Of The Gun he has his fills, crashes and rolls but, plays to the song, like everything on the album.
Vocalist Andrew Freeman has a very unique voice and is not the typical metal singer. He has a voice that doesn't wail above the songs and try to keep up with the solos, it is melodic, full of body and is quite pleasant to listen to. On the song, The Unknown, Freeman (in my ears) goes from Kip Winger to Dug Pinnick to an almost grunge feel but you know it's still the same guy.
The new addition to the band, bassist Phil Soussan adds so much grit to the songs. Much like he did with his time with Ozzy Osbourne (THE ULTIMATE SIN), his playing adds another level, not just filling in the bottom end, just listen to False Flag.
The production by Jeff Pilson (Dokken/Foreigner/Dio/T&N) is so spot on you start to think there isn't anything in the music biz he can't do. He lets the band create their own identity but adds some vocal tricks and musical moments that bring the Dokken in... and that is a compliment.
If you get II and expect to hear Black Sabbath riffs, Def Leppard harmonies or Ozzy style hysterics then you will be very disappointed. What you will get is some solid heavy guitar rock with a bit of the blues, like Badlands and Lynch Mob, with more nods to Led Zeppelin than Iron Maiden. The more I listen, the more I LOVE!!!!
MATMAN RATING - 4 OUT OF 5
Last In Line Official Site - For news and tour dates!!!
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.