Publisher Sean McCloskey / [email protected] Managing Editor Matthew Pashalian / [email protected] Copy Editor Jeffrey Noller / [email protected] Contributors Norrel Blair Sayre Berman Tony Landa Alex Markow Crystal Clark Todd McFliker Mikayla Davis Christina Mendenhall Joseph L. Hasbrouck Advertising Inquiries [email protected] www.SFLMusic.com 954-302-3160 / 954-756-7137 fax SFL Music Magazine 1880 Dr. Andre’s Way, Suite B Delray Beach, FL 33445 Current and past issues are available online at www.SFLMusic.com Cover Photo: Sean McCloskey SFL Music Magazine is published monthly in South Florida by SFL Music, Inc. All contents are (c) 2011 and may not be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. C ONTENT S December 2011 | Issue #23 6. Taylor Swift 8. Jack Wagner 10. Sting 12. John Fogerty 12. Off Future 14. The Devil Wears Prada 18. Judas Priest 22. Rick Springfield 24. Korn 30. Guns ‘N Roses 31. Anthrax 32. Jason Bonham 33. The Sounds 34. Smith Westerns 35. DreamTheater 36. Orlando Calling 38. Album Reviews Taylor Swift | Bank Atlantic Center | Photo: Sayre Berman 6 | www.SFLMusic.com Jack Wagner | Mizner Park Amph. | Photo: Sayre Berman 8 | www.SFLMusic.com STING THE FILMORE MIAMI BEACH PHOTO: SAYRE BERMAN 10 | www.SFLMusic.com John Fogerty | Hard Rock Live | Photo: Sayre Berman Odd Future | The Fillmore | Photo: Tony Landa 12 | www.SFLMusic.com The Devil Wears Prada Story by Norrel Blair With the release of their latest album, Dead Throne, The Devil Wears Prada now have four albums under their belt. According to lead singer Mike Hranica, it is the band’s “heaviest” album, which, of course, as a metalcore band, is almost synonymous with “best album.” Though, just having unrelentlessly brutal guitar riffs and ear-rattling drums is not everything, at least not for Hranica, who decided to center the lyrics of Dead Throne on a theme of anti-idolatry. This may not be so obvious when you’re trying to decode the band’s lyrics beneath their aggressive sound and Hranica’s 14 | www.SFLMusic.com screaming vocals. However, whatever topic the band decides to comment on, it’s their aggressive sound that keeps the fans coming and the stages they play chock-full. This was especially true for the band’s appearance on the Vans Warped Tour this year. Having been one of the most talked about bands the last time they appeared on the tour in 2009, it was with no doubt that if they were going to return, they would return louder than ever; and this time, with all of Hranica’s teeth, who’s missing false tooth became a much-talked about subject. On the early afternoon before the band’s performance at the Van’s Warped Tour’s West Palm Beach date, SFL Music talked to Hranica about the band’s thenunreleased album, Death Throne, and even, more curiously, if Hranica is anything like the scary person he may appear to be when he is not performing on-stage. SFL Music: The title of your new album is Dead Throne. What’s the meaning behind the title, and is it a departure from the Zombies EP, or a step forward? Mike Hranica: Dead Throne is originally based off of Dead Idols, which was my idea for the record name; but then we went more metaphorical with it; the idea of putting things up on a pedestal… We should have called it “Dead Pedestal” [laughs]. Basically, it’s the idea of putting things up on a worthless place. A lot of the record is based off of this anti-idolatry idea; and a lot of the songs really sum up what Dead Throne is, and our relation as a band to being heroes and idols. Sound-wise, it is relatable to the Zombies EP, but also With Roots Above. I wouldn’t call it a full-on departure, but it’s departing in the direction of progression and evolution; but it is very relatable to the old material. When we finished it, I knew it was different from the other releases; but if a Prada that liked the Zombies EP or With Roots Above doesn’t like this album, then they’re stupid. The last time you played the tour was in 2009. What’s it like to re-visit the tour? It was nice to be able to have our cell phone service. Warped Tour is consistently amazing. You don’t really have tours like Warped Tour anywhere else in the states, so we always look forward to it. Being the kind of band you are; how much more relaxed or different are you guys from when you are on stage? Sometimes we can tend to be just as dark off stage, but it’s never crazy really… maybe a spontaneous dance party here and there. For the most part though, it’s pretty mellow and boring. My objective is to come off as mean as possible at all times in my life, so that when someone can actually meet me, they can go, “Oh, he’s not that bad!” Who are some of your favorite bands on this tour so far? Paramore was really cool when they were out. We already knew a few bands like A Day To Remember, so it was cool getting to hang out with them all summer. A few of us are big fans of Against Me, and it was Andy and I’s goal to be-friend them on this tour. It turns out they’re all really nice. 16 | www.SFLMusic.com When you guys were on the tour in 2009, the line-up was a balance of pop-punk, hardcore and electronic. This year, it seems to be major hardcore or metal, why do you think that is? It’s what sells. Obviously, there are trends in music. It’s definitely good that heavy music is thriving right now because it’s good for us, and good for all of our friends. I know when I was a kid, I wanted to hear the heaviest thing that existed, and I didn’t know what that was. First, it was Linkin Park because that was the heaviest thing on the radio; but now, kids are listening to music that is all-screaming bands so much younger. It’s becoming way more popular. In general, it’s an amazing thing. There just seems to be a little bit much as far as oversaturation in the metal/metal core world right now. Anyone can start a band. Anyone can make music. Anybody can get a decent recording out. There’s just so much music out there that is like a band’s first CDs, y’know? It’s all just mediocre, and it makes it harder for kids to find the true gems; not saying that we are a gem. Does this make you guys put in much more effort to try and separate yourselves? We get lumped in with those bands, and I’ve never even heard of 95% of those bands. It just makes it for us, as a band; try to separate ourselves as much as possible. By Jeff Noller 18 | www.SFLMusic.com It would be criminal to understate how influential Judas Priest has been to heavy metal. One of the leaders of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the late 1970s and early 80s, they’re responsible for generations of new heavy metals bands worldwide; fusing the sludge and doom of Black Sabbath with the riffs of Led Zeppelin and injecting it with a lightning speed aggression. Albums such as 1978’s Stained Class and 1979’s Hell Bent for Leather broke new ground in the genre, while 1980’s British Steel is a landmark classic, which contained the perennial fan favorites “Living after Midnight” and “Breaking the Law.” The band saw their biggest success with 1982’s Screaming for Vengeance that included the popular single in the U.S, “You Got Another Thing Comin,’” whose video played all over MTV. You could safely say that without Judas Priest, bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Pantera may not have had the impact that they’ve had on heavy metal. Not only were they the first heavy metal band to effectively use a two-lead guitar attack, thanks to Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing; but they were the first to dress in leather and chains – thanks to frontman Rob Halford’s trysts into London S&M shops in the late 70s. Heavy metal would not be what it is visually or sonically without Halford, Tipton, Downing and bassist Ian Hill. After touring the world for over four decades, the Priest recently announced that their current Epitaph tour would be their last. That doesn’t necessarily mean they guys will be quiet. The band recently put out The Chosen Few compilation, composed of cuts picked by heavy metal bands such as Metallica, Slayer and Korn; as well as the more comprehensive Single Cuts, which covers all of their A and B-side singles released in the UK during the band’s 15-year tenure with CBS/Columbia Records. They’re also going to be working on material for a new album in the coming year. Prior to the band’s killer (and possibly final) performance at the Bayfront Amphitheater in Miami, Florida, SFL Music had the chance to speak to Glenn Tipton over the phone about the tour, how their new guitarist, Richie Faulkner, is working out – Downing retired in 2010, and how they look at their body of work now. SFL Music: With your farewell tour, you guys have really taken things to the extreme with the use of lasers, firebombs, smoke and all the stage outfits you are doing according to Rob Halford. How have people been responding to this tour so far here in the states? Glenn Tipton: It’s just been tremendous, really. It’s been an incredible reaction. We started off in Europe, and on to South America, and now we’re in the States. The audience’s response has been wonderful. As you know, we have Black Label Society. [BLS frontman and guitarist] Zakk [Wylde] and the boys are playing fantastic. Thin Lizzy has great, great songs. Although this is the last world tour the band is going on, you still have a new album in the works. How are the new songs coming along? Well, we have the thought that we need to create a bit of space for ourselves to get back in the studio. We’re off to Australia in December before take month off after Christmas. And then we have the Far East, and then go around on a European leg and Russia, and places like that. As soon as we get the chance, we’ll be taking a small break, rest the brain and get back into the studio in the middle of next year. I heard that the new album is a mixed bag with a lot of different styles musically, but lyrically pays a lot of tribute to the fans, kind of your “farewell album.” Are you testing any new songs on the road, or are you focusing solely on your catalogue? Well, what we’re doing is playing at least one song per album. We’ve done 17 studio albums, starting with [1974’s] Rocka Rolla. We’re doing certain things like playing “Victim of Changes” [off of 1976’s Sad Wings of Destiny]. It’s interesting because we’re bringing back tracks that we haven’t played for years like “Star Breaker” [off of 1977’s Sin After Sin],” which is great, the fans are singing along with it. “Never Satisfied” [off of the aforementioned Rocka Rolla] is another we haven’t played in a long time. We’re playing tracks we’ve never played before like “Blood Red Skies” [from 1988’s Ram It Down], plus all the usual fan favorites that everyone wants Priest to play. It sometimes can be very difficult to work out a Priest set because you have to implement some new songs. But this set 20 | www.SFLMusic.com list is probably the best we’ve ever done, and everyone seems to be pretty satisfied with it. How have things progressed with Richie Faulkner now as the band’s new guitarist? Richie has just amazed us all. I’ve said it many times, but I think if it wasn’t for Richie, I don’t think we would be out here at the moment. He came along out of the blue, and he just dove right into the burdens. Unbelievable guitarist, you have to see him to believe it. We’re just so grateful, you know? We cherish because I think it would have been the end of Priest. How did the idea originate to have some of the biggest names in heavy metal select songs from your catalogue for The Chosen Few compilation? Well, I wish I could say it was our idea, but really, it was the record company’s idea [Laughs]. They approached several people, and it’s a great concept for an album. You look forward to seeing what their favorite Priest tracks are, and it makes the whole thing very interesting. Judas Priest has influenced scores of bands since you guys formed in the early 70s, and, to this very day, continue to inspire new ones. I wanted to see how your perspective has changed over time from when your band broke big in the late 70s to your heyday in the early 80s to now? I’m not sure a lot has changed. Obviously, we’ve evolved musically a little bit. You know a lot of people say, at times, that our early songs stand out well today. We just love our music and our fans love our music. We work hard on composition and recording and continue to evolve because we still keep our ears to the ground. We still follow the current trends and sounds like we did in the early days of Judas Priest fashion. Other than that, I think, the most important thing to us every day is our performance on stage. And we’re together with an audience because that’s what keeps Priest breathing and right. Going back to the scores of bands that you guys have influenced, Anthrax recently had a track off of their new album, Worship Music, which they named after your band. I was wondering if you had a chance to listen to that song yet. Yes, I heard about that. They’re good friends of ours, and we’ve toured with them many times. I haven’t heard the song yet, but, I mean, it’s obviously a nice gesture and I’m sure it’s great. I’m as curious as anyone, so I look forward to taking a listen to that song. Given that this is your final world tour, have you had a chance to reflect on all of your previous tours and songs that you have played that have come and gone from the set lists? Most of all; what have become your favorite songs to perform on stage? It’s strange, you know, because you would think we would get sick of playing songs like “Breaking the Law” or “Living After Midnight” or “You Got Another Thing Comin.’” But when you’re on that stage and the audience is singing along with you, it’s just as exciting every night as it was when we first started playing them. “Hell Bent for Leather” is great. We bring the bike onto the stage; a great thriller. “Beyond the Realms of Death” is great to play. It’s great to play stuff that we haven’t played before like “Blood Red Skies,” and so those are some of the songs I enjoy doing. “The Hellion”/”Electric Eye” is another one where the audience is there to drive you along. With The Chosen Few compilation, you guys also put together the Single Cuts compilation that spanned a 15year period. It included all of your A and B Sides. I’ve spoken to some bands that have done those types of retrospectives, who find it a little weird to listen to some stuff that they put out 20-30 years earlier. Some look at it with great nostalgia and some just like to focus at what they’re doing presently. I usually look at it as… I’m a person who usually doesn’t look over it. Yesterday is tomorrow’s history, isn’t it? And today is a gift or whatever, so I’m a present guy usually. But it is interesting, and we’ve never been a singles band either. These were just tracks released [at the time]. In the UK, they served as a preview of the album. You could say there were singles like “Breaking the Law” and “You Got Another Thing Comin,’” but we have never been a singles band. We’ve never been on the radio that much to be honest. What the Single Cuts are is a collection of tracks that are just a preview of each album. But again, it’s quite the nostalgia and the collector’s set, and interesting to have. As you know, the heavy metal genre has changed and grown in leaps and bounds over the last few decades. The music industry itself has changed over the last decade with the Internet and social media. It’s a much different ballgame than it was during your hay day. What’s your advice was for new bands trying to get their foot into this industry? Well, it’s very difficult for me to give new bands advice because when I first started, things were a lot different. You didn’t have the Internet or music downloading. You really can’t whine or complain about it, you just have to go along with it. My advice would be to use the Internet to their advantage, get people to love their music. It means you have concentrate more on the live side of things, and get the band to play really well. Get the music to go out onto the Internet, and go out and play the songs on stages. Then you have a platform to show your music, and you can grow performing. Rick Springfield | Mizner Park | Photo: Sayre Berman 22 | www.SFLMusic.com By Matthew Pashalian Love them or hate them, no one can deny the fact that Korn has their own sound. Since first bursting onto the scene with 1994’s self-titled album, their style of 7-string guitar dissonance combined with dirge, hip-hop influenced beats has struck a chord with millions the world over. Vocalist Jonathon Davis’ delivery, presence and lyrical concepts, in particular, has influenced scores of bands. Having gained a massive underground following before bursting into the mainstream with 1998’s Follow the Leader, the band has only gone uphill; blowing open the door for other acts given the tag of nu-metal such as Limp Bizkit, Coal Chamber, Sevendust, Incubus and Cold. 24 | www.SFLMusic.com Korn doesn’t follow trends; they start them. Never has that statement been proven truer as you can hear the band’s influence all over radio throughout the past ten years in practically every hard rock band. Though some faces may have changed over the years, the core of Korn is still solid; releasing albums on their terms and to their standards. Once again, the band is about to reach another mile stone with their latest offering, The Path of Totality. This combines their aggressive sound with the DJ-infused dub step that has been gaining mass hysteria across the planet the past few years. Currently out on a promotional tour road testing a handful of these new songs for fans in more intimate club settings, we sat down for an in-depth chat with the band’s incredible drummer Ray Lauzier to discuss the new album, the industry and all things Korn. SFL Music: Korn is known for being a very groundbreaking and innovative band; so what initially brought the idea to make an entire album fused with dub step? Ray Lauzier: Jonathan has always been into electronica music, and I’ve always loved bands like Nine Inch Nails as well with the programming vibe and all. As a drummer, it can get kind of scary sometimes. For a lot of drummers, it can be an absolute nightmare because the programing usually takes over; and then the drummer is out of a job. At first when he approached us with this idea, I was like, “Uh oh; maybe I may have to sit this one out.” But we did everything live and I played along with the programming on the album, which was very cool. The sound is so massive and bombastic. I love it. The whole concept really came together when he [Jonathan] met with Sonny [Skrillex], inquiring about writing a song that maybe he could write lyrics over. The first single, “Get Up,” that’s how that came about. He played us that song eight months ago, and our jaws just hit the ground. We were just like, “Are you kidding me?” The whole dub step, DJ thing and all of that crazy stuff transposed with a lyrical content and structure; and not just verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo section or whatever you call it these days. There is no real solo sections anymore; it’s like a bridge instead. So it’s cool that we could go that route, which initially turned to, “Hey, let’s do a 5-song EP.” From there, Jonathan met with 12th Planet and Datsick; and he just kept meeting with more and more people, which, in turn, turned into like a 12-to-13-song record. At first, we were wondering if it was going to be a Jonathan Davis solo record; and he was like, “No, it’s for Korn.” That’s what’s great about Korn, everything we do has that stamp on it. No one sings like Jon, or plays bass like Fieldy or guitar like Munky; you just know it’s them, it’s very identifiable. I mean they could do a jazz record and it would still sound like Korn. To me, it’s just about branching out and hopefully, everyone has an open mind. The diehard fans were already like, “What! What’s this!” But then, when they heard the first single they were like, “I don’t want to like it, but I do.” You mentioned that the band performed live with the programming to these songs. Were you playing with the click tracks the whole time for that? Yeah, just for the dub step songs. As you know, Korn plays very loose – we may start at one tempo and then the verse might fall back three beats; and that’s just the Korn vibe. To be honest, I just love that so much more. There are so many bands out there that quantize everything and fix every part. The vocals sound amazing, and then you see them live and they suck. That’s one thing I said; if we’re going to play this stuff live and make this record like this, I want to play it live. Having Zach as a keyboardist and some of the stuff on AVAILABLE NOW! tracks has to be to a click track, plus we triggered the drums so it’s the exact same sounds that you hear on the record, but I am actually playing them – that was important to me. Even though I’m playing very strict, it still has a human feel to it. Initially, when you guys first started writing for what would become this album, there were reports online from about a year ago saying that the songs were taking on a sound more akin to grunge and alternative rock like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. Did any of those initial ideas make it to this record? There’s always a rumor. I hadn’t heard that one yet actually. Everyone has their opinions about stuff and how the way things are sounding. At the end of the day though, it still has that Korn stamp on it. No matter what, it’s still going to be us. I’ve only been in the band for four years, but it’s definitely night and day compared to the last record, where all four of us sat in a room, wrote a song and then like an hour later tracked it for the record. No click tracks, no machines, nothing, we used two inch tape. This album is the opposite. There are a lot of bands out there who have twenty records out and it still sounds like their first record. That’s what I love about Korn; it still sounds like them and they aren’t afraid to branch out. Untitled sounds nothing like See You on the Other Side, and Korn III sounds nothing like the new record; yet it’s all the same band. No matter what critics say it’s cool that they still have their sound. There is enough of an open-minded fan base that they’re going to give it a shot, I don’t think it’s going to bum anyone out, but it’s definitely going to turn some heads – hopefully, in a positive way. We have been getting a lot of positive feedback. You get those people who are like, “We want two guitars and crunching metal riffs;” and Korn has never been a cookie-cutter band. They plowed through the 90’s. All of these bands were coming out, and they just went right up the middle. Just this is what we do and no one sounds like us. They paved that way so that things could come out that were so different, and that’s an awesome thing. They can’t put out Life is Peachy or Untouchables out again. No matter how much fans may want it, it just can’t happen. Yeah, I mean the thing is fans say an equal amount. You hear the diehard fans that they want to hear this, and then you have the other fans say, “Yeah, but that’s been done already.” A lot of people were like, “Thank God you made Korn III. And that’s when they went back to Ross Robinson, their first producer; but, in the end, you can’t make everyone happy, you’re always going to be pissing someone off. One good thing about this band is that there’s no bullshit. We’re always true to what we do. Some bands try to sound like whatever is currently big, and that’s just so far from what Korn is about. We’re about to come up to the band’s 20th Anniversary, and I think that’s why their fans are worldwide. Some bands are big maybe just in Europe or Canada; but we’ve been to South Africa, to Dubai, to Australia. Fans show up with Korn inspired tattoos and it’s just crazy. To appeal to masses like that is saying something. Korn are no strangers to having DJ’s work with their songs such as All Mixed Up and Screwed and Chopped. What sets The Path of Totality apart from those types of discs? That’s the thing; people are like, “Why are you doing this new thing for?” To me, they’ve been doing, for example, songs like “Children of the Korn” that they did way back in the day with DJ’s and rappers doing this element of hip hop with the metal. So it’s not that big of a switch, in my opinion. What sets this apart is that it isn’t traditional rap. The dub step style is different because it takes sounds and squashes and compresses them, and throws them through something else and compresses them again and turns it upside down. I was watching Sonny do some stuff, and I thought I was a decent engineer and somewhat of a producer myself; and I was like, “Wait, what are you doing this for, what are you doing this for?” And he’s throwing sounds through all these different things, and the next thing you know, it comes out as this wacky sound from outer space. So that’s what’s different about this record. Some of the stuff on this record is just impressive in its simplicity, it’s not even complex. It’s just the way that the production is and the way that the noises are made. Live, it’s coming off way better than I thought, and I was a little scared at first because we’re opening with four older songs that are a bit obscure. You have to do all the hits like “Blind” and “Here To Stay” or else you’re going to get shot. To throw this dub step set into the middle of the show – the first night, it just went over really well and it keeps getting better. 24 | www.SFLMusic.com Jonathan has been quoted in saying that this has been the most difficult album for the band to create. Coming from your standpoint, what did you find to be the most challenging about this record? We were never in the same room for this record, and the last album was total opposite. We never stopped touring for Korn III. We would be in Korea and Jon would say, “Hey, go grab a kick and snare and cymbals and we’ll set them up backstage and track a song for the new record.” I was like, “For the new record?” And he was like, “Yeah yeah, go grab them!” We would literally mic everything up and run the Pro Tools stuff backstage, be off for a month and go into the Bakersfield Studio and track guitars. Jon actually sang the last three songs on the record in Japan, in a hotel room, and padded up the doorway. It was made in such a weird way; and that’s what was so challenging to me, just to get my head around all of these massive programming’s. I’m known as a progressive kind of drummer, and in the past, I’ve done a ton of like instrumental record. I’ve done like 75 instrumental albums, and most of them have all been progressive stuff. That’s my background. So to play super huge beats is a challenge in itself for me because anything I might do could screw up the song. I just wanted to play exactly what the song would need, and the programs were so good on the record that I really didn’t need to add that much. The cymbals are 100% live, but the drums aren’t. There is a lot of triggering and locking up going on. But I love it because it’s so huge sounding. On my way to the airport for this tour I had just gotten my mastered copy and all of the speakers in my car were popping. If you have a crappy sounding stereo system in your car, this record will still sound great. Were you guys aware beforehand that Sonny Moore was previously a singer and sometimes guitarist in a somewhat popular band in their own right as well? Absolutely, he’s a hell of a musician all around. That’s the funny thing, these 16 year old kids think he’s this new thing, but he’s been working his ass off for years. We were definitely aware of that, and a couple of the guys in the band were fans of that stuff as well. I hadn’t heard it until they turned me onto it. Do you think that because he also comes from the standpoint of a musician also that that may have helped in easing into the transition as far as writing the base of a song? Yeah, I think so. There is a beauty to his simplicity as well, and he gets it. For a lot of guys, you can’t just write a song in a dub step, rap kind of form and say this is what it is. There’s a niche and you have to have a sense of it, and he has a good grasp of that. Most of his songs now have three or four words in them, and the crowd waits for those couple words. I watched some stuff on YouTube recently, and I was just laughing. Kids just bouncing around and then there’s the part where it says, “Oh my God, call 911!” The whole crowd screams it, and it’s so weird. They’re like the rock stars now. I’ve been listening to the new album for the past three days, and the big standouts so far have been the double-bass heavy “Narcissistic Cannibal” and the descending progression of “Burn the Obedient.” Obviously, I’ll find out tonight, but how difficult is it for the band to translate these songs over to the live setting? To me they’re heavier, the guitars are crunching more. We’re coming out of playing these older, more obscure songs into these; and we still have the energy going on, so to me it’s pretty cool flying out of this huge PA system. Trigger-wise I have to watch what I do and can’t play too many notes. When I hear something on a record, I don’t like when a band does everything exact note for note live. There are a lot of bands that will play exactly the same, and I like to embellish things a little bit and improvise. The fan that’s heard the record eighty times will see it live and notice things like a cool guitar sweep or a few extra drum notes. With the dub step stuff, you really can’t do that much extra. I’ll do a little something just to give an extra kick. Sometimes Jon will kind of turn around and I’ll be like, “Yeah, I know that may have been a bit much.” You know, the feel of the drums is just so huge. Live, you’re splitting the set up into three parts with the new songs being showcased in the middle of the set. After this initial pre-album release promo tour, will you still be sticking to this kind of set? How will things change? I’m not sure to be honest; Jon usually calls the shots on the set list. Right now it’s working, but they have such a huge catalogue. Pushing twenty years now you have fans that are like I can’t believe you didn’t play this, or this, etc. We’re trying to make the fans who have been asking for so long about the old songs – I mean we’re even playing the demo version of “Predictable,” it’s not even the one that’s on the record. You have the diehards who actually have that demo version and they’re losing their minds that we’re playing that version. I was talking to Fieldy about this the other day, and we’re still fans of music. You know, we get it. When you go see a band there are certain songs that you just have to play but there’s also certain obscure songs that you want to hear played as well. I went to see Iron Maiden and Bruce Dickenson was like, ‘we have a surprise for you tonight – we’re going to play our entire new record!’And you could feel the whole audience energy drop, they were just like what? Because no one had the record yet; it would be like us going out and playing the whole Path of Totality record and then play “Blind” at the end and say goodnight. Its fun playing that old stuff though, the band was just so on fire at that point. There was nothing but attitude and they didn’t give a shit about nothing. They didn’t care about what anyone else was doing, the tuned their guitar down to like Z flat or whatever and it was awesome. This is Korn’s 10th album - almost twenty years’ worth of material to choose from. With so many great songs to choose from between singles, regular album tracks, covers, How difficult is it for you guys to put together a set list for a regular show, and for this current tour that you feel not only satisfies the fans, but the band as well? It’s hard. Like I said before, Jon puts together the set lists most of the time but we definitely put in our requests as well. There are so many Korn fan sites out there for the band, I had no idea. I’m still discovering new one’s too. It’s crazy, you have sites in like Bangladesh, and Austria. So we try to gather from the fans and find out what they want to hear. I have people write me who say that they’re just now discovering the band with Korn III, and since we’re always out there playing we’re always gaining new fans too. On top of that you have those older fans who want to hear the obscure songs too. It’s tough, but Jon is really good at coming up with the game plan as far as that goes. Online, your audition for the band has become legendary. They asked you to learn five songs and you came in and knew thirty. I basically get hired to learn songs. I’m a drum clinician. The one thing that I learned was when you go to an audition, what’s going to separate you from those other 150 drummers standing behind you; it takes something. Maybe one guy has a certain groove or style to the way that he plays, but the one thing that’s sure is you have to go in there prepared. I auditioned once for Britney Spears years ago, and I learned her first three entire records just because what if they asked me to play this song; bam, I could do it. That’s like my advice to any musician trying out for a band too; never just learn the songs they tell you to learn. Research and know their catalogue. I got the Jake E. Lee gig for Ozzy Osbourne in 1994, which was also my first big tour. He wanted me to learn three songs, and I went back and learned the Badlands albums that he was on and the Bark at the Moon and The Ultimate Sin records. I was like the 50th drummer in line that day, and they were bored out of their minds; so I was like, “Hey, you guys want to play ‘Soul Stealer?’” Jake was like, “We’ll stick to these three songs.” So I was like, “Yeah, that’s cool, but I really want to play ‘Soul Stealer.’” So he and the bass player started refiguring it out; and then there was a whole new energy in the room. Next thing you know, I didn’t play any of the original three songs and the drummers outside were like, “How come you didn’t play any of the songs you were supposed to play?” I got a call back and they were down to five drummers. I got the gig and had it for three years. I’m not saying that that’s the key but it is one element. People always ask me what’s going to separate them when they have an audition, and it could be any number of things: your attitude, the material that you know, personality; are you on time? With Korn, that’s why I learned all of those songs like “Divine” and all this old stuff. I almost forced them to play the stuff I wanted to play because it actually showcased more of the drumming than the songs that they originally wanted me to learn. It helps sometimes, but you don’t want to piss people off either and lose the gig before you get it. What are Korn’s plans after this tour into the New Year? We never stop playing, so touring for sure, especially since the album is being released on December 6th. As for summer festivals, I don’t know about the states but we hit so many of the European festivals like Rock AM Ring and Donnington so you almost want to give those a rest just to keep people interested. I was just talking to the Deleo brothers the other day and they said they were going to take a break just because they felt like they kept 28 | www.SFLMusic.com hitting the same markets and fans are like, you were just here like three months ago. You really have to pace yourself in areas that you play, but that’s a management call. We just show up and hope for the best [Laughter] You’ve been in this industry for quite a while and seen the many changes it’s undergone, especially in the past ten years. What advice do you have for unsigned bands trying to be seen and heard locally and trying to take it to that next step? What are you saying I’m old? Yeah, you know, you’re getting up there. Just checking [Laughter]. Be a lawyer. It’s a hard business. If you’re not willing to sacrifice family and stay committed 100%, you should go do something else. I have a lot of friends who are in cover bands on the weekends, and it’s okay if that’s all that you want to do. They have day jobs and they just want to have fun. When I moved to L.A. 23 years ago, I said, “I’m not going to do anything but play my drums for a living. I don’t care if I’m rich or broke; this is what I have to do.” If you make that kind of commitment and don’t take no for an answer, then you’re doing the right thing. There are so many people who will squash you out there; it’s just such a fickled business. It’s not like if you go and get good grades and get a doctorate, you’re going to be able to get a job somewhere out there. The music business isn’t like that. You can be one of the best musicians in the world and you may never get a gig. Do you know how many virtuoso guitar players I know in L.A. that are working at Starbucks and can’t get a break? It’s a shame. I’m always trying to get people gigs and hook them up, especially the ones who work hard and pound the pavement. It’s more than just practicing in your room. You have to get out and network. There are so many elements, I didn’t even know about that. I went to the Musicians Institute because I wanted to network and learn more styles, but I didn’t realize how important networking was because I would stay in my room and play for six hours a day. My whole mentality was that I was going to get so good that no one would be able to turn me down. It turned out to be the wrong thing to do. My friends who were playing “Back in Black” were getting gigs because they were out there giving their numbers out at clubs and meeting people. I’m paying these fast fills and it was like who cares? It took me years to get what networking was all about, so that’s a big chunk of advice right to anybody. I don’t care if you’re in Tulsa or New York or L.A., just get out there and be seen and get to know people. That’s half the game. If you’re playing to eight people on a Thursday night and three of them are the bar tenders; play your heart out like that’s the last gig that you’re going to play. Someone is going to see you and they’re going to start talking. Somehow, some way if you’re into it 100%; it’ll happen. Guns N’ Roses American Airlines Arena, Miami October 29, 2011 This is the second time that Guns’ N’ Roses has decided to kick off an American tour in Florida, and fans couldn’t be more excited about it. Fresh off a string of dates all over Europe and South America, the band has been in fine form; so to say that excitement has been building for them to arrive here in the States is an understatement. This time around, GNR brought Buckcherry along as an opening act – who is basically a poor man’s GNR cover band, making them somewhat humorous to the audience at American Airlines Arena in Downtown Miami on a Saturday night in late October. Despite their old school rock posturing, out of all of the times that I have had the displeasure of seeing Buckcherry, this is probably the clearest I have ever heard them live. Before this recent show, they came off as a loud, ear-piercing mess. Despite vocalist Josh Todd’s attempts at entertaining the crowd with what his definition of a “Crazy Bitch” is or a rousing story about the first time he did cocaine, the audience seemed to have more fun singing along to arena rockers in the interim while waiting for GNR. Most people will complain that GNR didn’t go onstage until midnight with the show lasting until a few minutes after 3AM. Despite the fact that it ended so late, you honestly did not feel 30 | www.SFLMusic.com tired during the show due to the energy the band gave off. They kept fans on their feet singing along to every song. The setlist choice, aside from missing a few choice cuts like “Civil War” and “Garden of Eden,” which hasn’t been played live most likely since the band’s original line-up was together, was solid as the band put on an incredible show. From show opener “Chinese Democracy” right into the massive crowd sing-along of the radio staple “Welcome to the Jungle,” W. Axl Rose and company had the crowd on the edge of their seats, eating out of the palms of their hands. This line-up of the band, which also features DJ Ashba of SiXX AM handling the bulk of Slash’s parts, seems tighter and more comfortable than the band that last blew us away in 2006. Each of the band’s three guitarists (Ashba, Richard Fortus and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal) each had solo spots to showcase their own personal style. Even former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson was given a go as he covered The Who’s “My Generation.” Most impressively was the always-engaging Axl Rose, who, if you never saw live in the band’s hay day but could at least compare to old footage on YouTube, was that man again, in spirit and in voice. His vocals, for the most part, sounded spot on such as on the epic ballad “November Rain,” which bowled fans over. The trippy-to-dirt heavy metal of “Better” shocked and show closer “Paradise City” gave the crowd one more adrenaline rush before the band took a bow, wishing the audience goodnight or good morning – Matthew Pashalian • Photo: Sayre Berman Anthrax / Testament Revolution Live, Fort Lauderdale November 2, 2011 Most metal shows these days tend to center around chugging atonal riffs, double bass drumming and vocal fluctuations between low guttural growling and screaming that resembles a gorilla being sodomized with a tree. Thank God for Anthrax and Testament. They play how thrash metal is supposed to sound like – pummeling riffs, tight drumming and soaring vocals that would make Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio proud. On a cool Wednesday evening at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale, both bands showed why they should be held in the same esteem as Metallica. Death Angel opened the night’s festivities with a solid, workman-like set to an already-packed crowd that responded loudly – even if they were here to see the two headlining acts. Testament followed next and played a chockfull of classics throughout their hour-long set that covered esteemed albums like 1987’s The Legacy (“Over the Wall” and “Do or Die”) and 1988’s The New Order (“Disciples of the Watch” and “Into the Pit”). The crowd ate it up as they pushed to the front of the stage with at least a couple of circle pits brewing throughout the course of their performance. If the audience enjoyed Testament’s set, they went ballistic for Anthrax. Given that this was the first time Joey Belladonna was back in fold after twenty-plus years, there was more than enough reason to celebrate. The vocalist has easily fit right back into the fold with guitarists Scott Ian and Dan Spitz, bassist Frank Bello and drummer Charlie Benante. Despite the fact that Belladonna wasn’t originally in the studio when the band made their long-overdue 10th album, Worship Music (he did his vocals over the tracks after Dan Nelson abruptly left), he’s made the songs his own. In fact, you can say that new tracks such as “The Devil You Know,” “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” and “I’m Alive” were as well received as older favorites such as “Indians” and “Madhouse.” But make no secret, people were there to hear the songs that made Anthrax the band famous, and no one was disappointed in their hour-and-a-half-long set. Taking heavily from such classic albums as 1987’s Among the Living, the band were relentless as the crowd went bananas to kick ass renditions of “Caught in a Mosh,” “Antisocial,” “Got the Time” and “N.F.L.” The quintet paid tribute to Dio on “In the End,” where the whole audience gave devil horn salutes with them. It appeared that the already-rabid mosh pit grew and grew throughout their performance as Antrhax churned out stunning renditions of their best-known songs. By the time they launched into “Metal Thrashing Mad” from 1985’s Armed and Dangerous, the crowd exploded into a gigantic hurricane that stretched across the whole floor. In all honesty, the band could have kept going after their ripping rendition of “I Am the Law,” which closed the show. For certain, the band was on, and it was a joyous return to South Florida after a 7-year absence as Ian pointed out at one point. Regardless, it was great to have Anthrax and Testament back in town, and hopefully, not the last time either – Jeff Noller • Photo Sayre Berman Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience Hard Rock Live, Hollywood November 17, 2011 Not just any musicians can recreate the dramatic pounding and phenomenal grooves of the mighty Led Zeppelin onstage. Yet, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience accomplished the nearly impossible task on a Thursday evening at Seminole Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. The son of the legendary drummer, John “Bonzo” Bonham, performed a couple hours’ worth of enduring classics. He told fascinating tales of growing up in the Zeppelin family. Led Heads and their children, as well as their grandchildren, all meshed together to enjoy the heartbreaking blues and timeless melodies of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. The lights in Hard Rock Live dimmed, and the crowd heard Jason’s voice telling the story of his father’s upbringing in the heart of the English West Midlands, aka the Black Country. He described the people’s lifestyle in the 50s, working in the factories after the war, as a giant monitor above the stage displayed a montage of authentic photos. Spectators were entertained by pictures of the Bonham family, including a shot of Bonzo as a little school boy. Jason discussed the upbringing of the man who would change the drumming world forever. The festivities kicked off with a snippet of the fast-paced number about Vikings, “Immigrant Song.” From all over the stage, blue and red beams of light shot towards the sky. Trippy images emerged onscreen, along with close-ups of the band, including one looking up at Jason under his drum kit. The recognizable 32 | www.SFLMusic.com 1937 Hindenburg disaster from the cover of Zeppelin’s 1969 debut album appeared on the snare drum. The drummer wore black jeans, a black t-shirt, big black sunglasses and a black hat to cover his hairless head. Also dressed in all black and a bald scalp, singer James Dylan didn’t look a thing like Robert Plant. After all, Jason finds it distracting when tribute bands try to dress the part. Tony Catania supplied the fancy finger work of Jimmy Page, while Dorian Heartsong handled the bass work of John Paul Jones, and Stephen Leblanc played the keyboards. As Jason hammered his hi-hat and snare drum through the blues-based “Rock and Roll” from 1971’s Led Zeppelin IV, the backdrop paraded a number of immortal icons, including Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Little Richard, Ray Charles and Buddy Holly. The lights flicked on and off as JBLZE earned their first of many standing ovations during the massive drum conclusion. Pulling from the classic band’s first two records that were released in 1969, “Your Time Is Going to Come” led into the dynamic “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.” Onscreen, lightning bolts erupting over picturesque pyramids, the poetry was emphasized with high-pitched yelps and topped off with a shimmering gong. Heavy guitar solos and unrivaled tempos of “The Lemon Song” made for the evening’s highlight. The percussionist dedicated “Thank You” to his grandmother, Joan Bonham. Audience members learned that she was the kind woman who turned his old man onto the music of Buddy Rich and other American jazz drummers. In fact, John’s mother bought him his first drum kit when he was a teenager, and never complained about the loud noise. “This one is my way of saying thank you,” said Jason. JBLZE then ripped into “Moby Dick,” featuring an extended solo that made listeners’ mouths drop. Above the stage, the giant monitor showed a split screen. A video of John banging away in previously unseen footage from the 70s played alongside Jason’s live version of the same beats. 10-feet above his drum set, the two awe-inspiring artists went eye-to-eye, concentrating on the seemingly impossible drum routine. The Led Zeppelin Experience then executed Jason’s favorite song to play onstage, “When the Levee Breaks.” His intense wails were complimented by phased vocals and the guitarist’s tricky finger work. The epic masterpiece “Kashmir” captured the mystical power of Arabian music with extraordinarily beautiful force. The singlemost requested number in radio history, “Stairway to Heaven,” entailed the subtle tones of Catania’s double-necked guitar. Following a brief encore full of cheers, JBLZE reappeared, claiming, “This goes out to you with a ‘Whole Lotta Love.’” The psychedelic single was full of complex licks, a smooth bass line and seductive moans. Drumsticks crashed on cymbals, while the hi-hat echoed like only a Bonham could produce. Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience showed why they’re the best damn cover band in the touring circuit – Story by Todd McFliker • Photo: Tony Landa working with dub step DJ’s like Skrillix and Datsik to forge the next step in the evolution of the Korn sound. Out on a short trek across the states, road testing a handful of new songs, the band is definitely surprising fans in many ways. First, they opened their set with four older songs that the band probably hasn’t played in a good ten years. This was followed by performing five songs from The Path of Totality before going into the hits that we all know and love. Jonathan Davis commanded the stage with an energy that this fan hasn’t seen years as the band plowed through a handful of oldies such as “Lies” and “No Place to Hide,” before they seamlessly went into their set of dub step-infused tunes. Most of the crowd’s crazy Korn fans were, most likely, already familiar with the first two singles from the new album: “Narcissistic Cannibal” and “Get Up!” But crowd reaction seemed especially positive towards “Kill Mercy Within” and “Way Too Far” as well. This proved that the always-innovative band can pretty much do anything and get the crowd’s approval. The third part of Korn’s set, “the hits,” composed mostly of the standards that you would expect to hear from the band. This current lineup looks and sounds energized and hungry as new life is breathed into classics like “Here to Stay” and “Falling Away from Me.” The band’s three-song encore really floored the crowd. This was especially the case when Davis reemerged with his bagpipes as guitarist James “Munky” Schaeffer delivered the low end and dissonance signature to “Shoots and Ladders.” Everyone was ready to burst from excitement and disappointment as the band went into the show closing “Blind.” It was one hell of a way for the end of the show to go – Matthew Pashalian • Photo: Sayre Berman The Sounds Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale October 12, 2011 One thing you are always guaranteed when watching the Sounds is that they deliver the goods night after night. This was especially the case on an October evening at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the Sounds played a spot on, 18-song set on the first show of their current U.S. tour. Touring in support of their new album, the dance-happy Something to Die For, the band didn’t appear to show any rust as they launched into the one-two punch of “It’s So Easy” and “Dance with the Devil.” The two songs off the aforementioned record along with the other four that they played were brilliant and blended right in with the rest of their setlist – check out their new album, and you’ll be bopping to “The No No Song,” the delicious title track, “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and the hard dance of “Better Off Dead.” Korn The Fillmore Miami Beach November 9, 2011 Korn has never been a band that follows trends – they’re the band that starts them. With their latest offering, The Path of Totality, the band is stepping up their game once again by Vocalist Maja Ivarsson continues to play the sharp, charismatic vixen who had audience such as the one at Culture Room in the palm of her hand. Jesper Anderberg alternated between the keyboards and guitars with a fire, while axeman Felix Rodriguez riffed away on stage. They along with bassist Johan Bengtsson were dynamic, darting about the stag, keeping everyone in a frenzy as drummer Fredrik Nilsson kept the beat going. The set focused primarily on the new album as well as 2006’s Dying to Say This to You, the Sounds’ most revered and popular release. The crowd ate up now-classics such as “Queen of Apology,” “Hurt You,” “Ego,” “Night After Night,” “Painted by Numbers” and “Tony the Beat.” “Seven Days a Week” and the title track off of the band’s debut, Living in America, received also a ravenous response. Their new wave sound of synthesizers and killer hooks will never grow old with their fans who have been lucky to see them play. Even songs off of 2009’s not-as-wellreceived Crossing the Rubicon got a loud response from the crowd such as “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake” and “Dorchester Hotel.” The crowd was still screaming for more by the time the Sounds finished with “Hope You’re Happy Now” as their encore – Story by Jeff Noller. Smith Westerns Hard Rock Live, Orlando October 7, 2011 Friday is the day everyone looks forward to. For Orlando, Florida, it meant every British person in the city had to flock to the Hard Rock to see their favorite band: the Artic Monkeys. With love for the band being unanimous, every person in the room is automatically a die-hard fan of them; so for the Smith Westerns, you would think they face an obstacle trying to win over a crowd of Brits; not so. The band has been lauded for their mellow and “boring” performances, but a lot of these opinions are made by people who have seen the band in broad daylight, at a festival. If you’re going to see the Smith Westerns, this is not the way to experience them. Admittedly, the Chicago 34 | www.SFLMusic.com natives do sound like they have more energy on record, but the band’s shoe gaze sound is very present. That said, anyone going into a Smith Westerns show should not expect a Crystal Castles show. Lead singer Cullen Omori takes front and center stage, pearlwhite Fender in hand and his jet-black longs flying in every which direction with even the slightest movement. Brother Wayne Omori stands stage-left providing extra guitar work, and the band’s woozy church organ layers as heard on “All Die Young.” With the remaining half of the band, they flawlessly perform every song on their set note-for-note with songs picked from their self-titled debut (“Tonight”, “Be My Girl”, “Dreams”) having a revitalized sound. Live is the only time you can hear what these songs truly sound like, compared to their lo-fi counterparts on the album. While the b a n d ’ s d r e a m y s o u n d carries over with nothing lost, the one thing that did seem off were the vocals. The blissful vocal harmonies heard on songs like “ We e k e n d ” are not so p r e s e n t here, and combined with the band’s nonexistent and lethargic stage presence (the band did not speak a word to the audience during the entirety of their hour-long set), created a dullness that was hard to shake off. Though, better that than to see the Omori brothers break out into an Oasis-like fight with constant bickering throughout the set. Smith Westerns are not for everyone, but that may be only because there is currently an over-saturation of “dance” or “electronic” music right now. As said earlier in this review, seeing this band in broad daylight is not the way to go. To truly enjoy Smith Westerns, you have to see them in an intimate club setting, where the band’s sound can be complimented by the washes of color from the stage lights. All that said, the Artic Monkeys crowd danced to every song of the night, and gave the band a loud cheer after closing with “Weekend” – Norrel Blair. accomplished playing and ability to handle multiple styles of song structure has made him a huge asset to the core of guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, keyboardist Jordan Rudess and vocalist James LaBrie. Fans worldwide have responded overwhelming positive to the new addition, and it was just the same during this show. With a good portion of the set focusing on their 11th album, A Dramatic Turn of Events, DT played with a fire and liberation that the audience ate up such as on the opening number, “Bridges in the Sky,” the well-received “Build Me Up, Break Me Down” as well as the long-playing progressive epics of “Outcry,” “On the Backs of Angels” and “Breaking All Illusions.” Dream Theater Pompano Beach Amphitheater October 21, 2011 Whether it’s your tenth time or your first seeing them live, Dream Theater is a force to be reckoned. As progressive metal has skyrocketed in popularity throughout the last decade, the New York five-piece has ridden the wave to greater heights. Touring in support of their second, consecutive Billboard Top Ten album with the brilliant, A Dramatic Turn of Events, DT delivered a knock-out set to the near-packed crowd at Pompano Beach Amphitheater in Pompano Beach, Florida on a cool and breezy Friday night in October. The U.S. tour marks the second with new drummer Mike Mangini who replaced founding member Mike Portnoy. His There were some splendid surprises as well such as “The Ytse Jam” from the band’s 1989 debut, When Dream and Day Unite, as well as not one but two cuts from 1999’s brilliant concept album, Scenes from a Memory. DT drew from across their catalogue during their 15-song set that had the audience on their feet for the majority of it. Songs like “These Walls” from 2005’s Octavarium, “Endless Sacrifice” from 2003’s stunningly-heavy Train of Thought and “Forsaken” from 2007’s Systematic Chaos had everyone giving devil signs in the air. LaBrie and Petrucci took time to give everyone a breather with a short two-song acoustic set that gave a nice contrast between all the heaviness with the beautiful “The Silent Man” from 1994’s Awake album and “Beneath the Surface” that closes A Dramatic Turn of Events. But the real treat was with the encore when the band dug out “Under a Glass Moon” from 1992’s classic Images and Words that put an explanation point on the night. After over twenty years and a new drummer, DT shows why progressive metal matters, and why it will continue to matter as long as there’s an audience willing to listen. Per the response that evening in Pompano Beach, it’s guaranteed this will be for a long time to come – Jeff Noller • Photo: Sayre Berman Peter Frampton | Hard Rock Live | Photo: Sayre Berman New Found Glory | Revolution Live | Photo: Tony Landa 36 | www.SFLMusic.com Orlando Calling Citris Bowl, Orlando, Fl November 12-13, 2011 Photos: Tony Landa Black Star | The Fillmore | Photo: Alex Markow Smith Westerns | Hard Rock Live Orlando | Photo: Norrel Blair Album Reviews Ulrich’s drumming is completely crap on this record, inept of resembling any kind of coherent beat – a clumsy catastrophe that’s incapable of delivering subtlety that some of the tracks need such as the 18-minute “Junior Dad.” In fact, neither artist seems to gel at all with the other; contrasts that don’t work. Lou Reed/Metallica Lulu Vertigo WARNING: Do not operate heavy machinery or vehicles while listening to this album. In fact, make sure there are no sharp objects, firearms or any kind of prescription or hard drugs near you. There is a high possibility that if you managed to listen to the full four and a half minutes of “Brandenburg Gate,” the first track off of the Lou Reed-Metallica collaboration, Lulu, you will cause severe if not fatal harm to yourself and others – the opening lyrics that Reed says should give an indicator: “I would cut my legs and tits off when I think of Boris Karloff and Kinski in the dark of the moon.” Considering all the hype and hoopla going into this album that Metallica and Reed did together, you would think this would be some brilliant tour de force – an ingenious mixing of creative minds between one of the Big 4 thrash bands and one of rock ‘n roll true legends. There was no reason to think this partnership wouldn’t be good… That is of course until you listen to the first 30 seconds of the aforementioned “Brandenburg Gate” to realize this is an abomination let alone should ever be considered any kind of remote masterpiece. It is shocking how horrible this record is. The guitars sound out of tune, James Hetfield’s backing vocals come off as tone deaf and Reed’s spitting of lyrics sound completely out of place. Forget the fact that Lars 38 | www.SFLMusic.com Yes, this is a Lou Reed album. It’s important to understand that this is Reed’s vision, and Metallica is his backing band. The man has always delivered challenging albums that require repeated listening. That is a known fact, whether it’s Berlin, The Blue Mask or New York. However, Lulu takes the cake, matching Metal Machine Music for its uncompromising sound. But while all the aforementioned records were brilliant once you absorbed them, this one falls flat from the word, “Go.” If you read up on how this came together, it’s actually sounds promising at first. The concept of this record came from a theater project by Robert Wilson, a fellow collaborator of Reed’s, who had created an adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s plays. Sadly on Lulu, Reed sings, scratch that, barks and growls like some nutty old man who needs to be heavily medicated, from a young woman’s perspective who has had some shoddy experiences with men. For most of the 90 minutes this double album makes up, it is unrelenting and puzzling. Only the die-hard Reed-letalone-Metallica fans will be able to stomach this. Sure, there are plenty of pummeling guitars, but they are far from being cohesive in structure and execution such as on “”Dragon,” “Frustration” and “Pumping Blood.” In fact, it sounds like what would happen if you did a concept album of William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Lulu is a bad science experiment, a mixing of hazardous chemicals that would provide catastrophic for the world if the album was a biological weapon. Lulu will replace waterboarding as the hot topic of torture methods outlawed by the Geneva Convention – Jeff Noller. Megadeth TH1RT3EN Roadrunner Megadeth’s 13th album, aptly titled, TH1RT3EN, continues the upward creative projection that was reignited with 2004’s superb The System Has Failed. Since Dave Mustaine relaunched that band that year, they have now released four albums – each being better than the one preceding it. Now whether any of them can be compared separately to such classics as 1986’s Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying, 1990’s Rust in Peace or 1992’s Countdown to Extinction is another story for another time. What’s scarily evident is how the famous axman has released yet another album of ferocious thrash numbers. It shows why his band has surpassed his former one, Metallica, in leaps and bounds. While James Hetfield and company have taken years in between albums with their best days at least twenty years behind them (their recent collaboration with Lou Reed, Lulu, is an outright abomination), Mustaine has consistently released killer material – 2009’s Endgame is among one of their strongest recordings. On TH1RT3EN, Mustaine, reunited bassist/founding member Dave Ellefson, accomplished 7-string guitarist Chris Broderick and venerable drummer Shawn Drover deliver some tightly-wound thrash numbers as showcased in the ferocious opener, “Sudden Death.” Producer Johnny K is able to make Megadeth sound completely wicked and fresh without compromising their trademark style. This is evident in the machine gun riffing of “Public Enemy No. 1,” “We the People” and “Guns, Drugs & Money.” Mustaine has lost none of his lyrical bite as evident in not only the aforementioned tracks but ominous numbers like “Never Dead.” The fact that his imagery has only become more ultraviolent and apocalyptic with age is fitting given our country’s current period of disarray. Even with unreleased older cuts that Mustaine has pulled from the archives on this record, the messages expressed on “New World Order” and the slow-metallic burn of “Millennium of the Blind” seem relevant as ever. Throughout the 13 tracks on TH1RT3EN, Megadeth is unrelenting, even if they occasionally sound like their rehashing old ideas such as on roaring assault of “Fast Lane,” which recalls “Symphony of Destruction.” But this is a moot point where you have such killer rockers on the album such as “Black Swan,” “Wrecker” and “Deadly Nightshade.” 13 albums in, Mustaine and his gang are at the top of their game, and showcasing which band is looking supreme at out of the Big Four of Thrash – Jeff Noller. War.” With that track, the band goes on a stream of heavy hitters with the soon-to-be college frat drinking anthem, “Bottoms Up,” and the dance worthy “When We Stand Together.” The band find themselves channeling a little bit of metallic punk rock and rockabilly on the fun “Midnight Queen,” while breaking out some slick solo chops . It wouldn’t be a newer Nickelback release without the ubiquitous sexual references as those made on the slick-and-heavy “Gotta Get Me Some.” The piano-touched ballad “Lullaby,” though musically grand, doesn’t quite strike the ball out of the park like they have with past tunes of a similar nature. However, they do redeem themselves with the one-two-three punch of the pop rock “Trying Not to Love You,” “Holding onto Heaven” and “Everything I Wanna Do.” Nickelback has once again crafted another good record of songs that people will love and probably not admit to – Matthew Pashalian. organs, string arrangements and anthem-styled drumming thanks to Robert Ackroyd, Chris Hayden, Isabella Summers, Mark Saunders and Tom Monger. However, none of this would have half the potency if it wasn’t for Welch’s powerful vocals. Producer Paul Epworth knows this is what drives Florence and the Machine above everything else, and uses her voice to full effect throughout the record. From the rousing opening two numbers, “Only If for a Night” and “Shake It Out,” it’s clear this album makes a quantum leap over the debut, which was an impressive one. The neo-soul-meetsBrit-pop sound of the band has made an indelible impression on both sides of the Atlantic, where fans of Lungs will definitely love such larger-than-life tracks as “What the Water Gave Me,” “Lover to Lover,” “No Light, No Light” and the closing “Leave My Body.” Such a selection of songs is stunning with its gothic-gospel mix without being too heavy handed or pretentious. Where you have a record that contains no filler and gets better with every listen, you know you have something special on your hands. For certain, the 12 tracks on Ceremonials signal the beginning of what should be an impressive musical reign for Florence and the Machine. – Jeff Noller Nickelback Here and Now Roadrunner Records Florence and the Machine Ceremonials Universal Republic That’s right haters; Nickelback is back just in time for the holidays with their latest release, the hard rockin’ Here and Now. This time around, the band is really putting a lot on their plate as they decide to try on a new hat with twiddling the knobs at the producer’s chair as well. After one spin of the disc though, it’s undeniable that they did a great job and took a few notes from their last album’s producer, megaproducer Mutt Lange, with the anthemic and boomy Def Leppard-style drums. In interviews, Florence Welch was quoted in saying she wanted her sophomore album, Ceremonials, to be a better version of her massivelysuccessful debut, Lungs, with “a more dark, more heavy, bigger drum sounds, bigger bass, but with more of a whole sound.” Florence and the Machine’s follow up is indeed all that and more. By the time Here and Now hits stores, the band will be on their second rock radio single and third single overall with the opening track, “This Means Where Lungs was a bold and fiery debut from Welch and her band, Ceremonials elevates everything to the next level completely. The songs are gargantuan in approach and delivery with booming Coldplay Mylo Xyloto Parlophone Coldplay is one of those bands that, as mainstream as they are, can be quite the acquired taste. It’s like having a Shock Top beer: you think it’s pretty good before finding out Budweiser does the brewing; leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth. Given that their U2 fetishes have grown exponentially with every record, the target on their back has only seemed to grow larger – whether justified or not. To give you an idea, Brian Eno has produced some of U2’s most recognizable records such as Achtung Baby and the more recent No Line Over the Horizon. He has served as either a producer or arranger on every Coldplay release since at least 2005’s X&Y. However, on Mylo Xyloto, they not only stop sounding like Bono’s bitches, but they shed the doom and gloom bullshit that has weighed down every record. There’s a strong optimism and sense of freedom in the way Coldplay approaches the songs here such as the Cure-meets-Peter Gabriel rocker, “Hurts Like Heaven.” Jonny Buckland’s guitars ring freely while vocalist Chris Martin sings such lyrics as “Fire from my belly and the beat from my heart.” “Charlie Brown” shimmers with echoing electric guitars, crisp acoustics and a steady rhythm section from Guy Berryman and Will Champion. Jay-Z’s influence on the band seems also to be quite apparent when you consider numbers such as the bombastic “Paradise” with its spacious vocal tracks and string and keyboard arrangements. However, like every Coldplay release over the last few years, many of their songs are too eager to please. Given the fact that Martin and company write songs to be belt out in stadiums, the cheese factor is quite high throughout the record such as on the cigarettelighter waving “Up in Flames.” The anthem-styled “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” is another example of this with its opening icy synthesizers and acoustics arrangements before exploding into an epic rocker. It’s a bit too predictable five albums in, even if audiences are guaranteed to be hand clapping as Martin sings “I turn the music up, I got my records on; I shut the world outside until the lights come on; maybe the streets alight, maybe the trees are gone; I feel my heart start beating to my favorite song.” Their fans will eat it up, but the songs here are showing that the band’s shtick is showing signs of staleness. Even though the the Rhiannacollaborated “Princess of China” is not as bad as it appears on paper, the synthpop number seems a bit out of place here. And that’s one the major problems with Mylo Xyloto, there are too many moments that seem out of place or try too hard to satisfy the masses. When you have musical interludes in between songs such as “M.M.I.X.” and “A Hopeful 40 | www.SFLMusic.com Transmission” as well as pleasant but ultimately dull acoustic ballads such as “Us Against the World;” you have an album that’s ultimately too lightweight to make an impact artistically. Coldplay may sound more comfortable in their shoes as good-natured pop artists, but it doesn’t translate into something worthwhile by any means of the imagination – Jeff Noller. Mastodon The Hunter Reprise Sure, Mastodon has their fans; but it’s questionable after five albums how they managed to keep them. Their sludgy, drop-D guitar dynamics are mindnumbing and pummeling to the point of insanity. There’s no rhyme and reason to them, especially where every record seems to have the same turgid and murky production where all the guitars are mixed together. If you couldn’t see what was so great about albums like Leviathan and Crack the Skye, you are going to feel the same about The Hunter – even if it’s their most accessible record. I use this last term lightly as your ears about to pop off your head, give you the finger and walk away in disgust by the time you get to the riff-assault of “Blasteroid.” It’s not that they’re a bad band; it’s just that… damn, I’d rather listen to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music all day in a room with padded walls, wearing a strait jacket. Songs like “Stargasm” and “Black Tongue” will I’m sure go over like a “Lead Balloon” in the immortal words of Keith Moon as well as tracks like “Octopus Has No Friends” and “The Sparrow” – the epic track that closes the album, and is the best one out of all of them. Elsewhere, songs like “Spectrelight,” “Creature Lives” and “Curl of the Burl” are just horrific and exhausting to listen to if you have no patience for sludge metal… or a lead singer that irritatingly reminds you of Ozzy Osbourne in a bad way – Jeff Noller. Noel Gallagher Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Sour Mash From both sides of the Atlantic, anticipation was high for what Noel Gallagher would deliver with his solo debut. Since Oasis broke up two years ago, his younger brother Liam and the rest of that group formed Beady Eye and put out a swaggering rock ‘n roll record, Different Gear, Still Speeding. While that was self-assured and proved they could be on their own without Noel, the fact remained that the latter’s songwriting was what drove the nowdefunct band. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds shows once and for all that it is he that has the creative longevity. It was reported that some of the songs on this record were written by Noel while still in Oasis, but never saw the light of day due to Liam’s stand-offish attitude toward them in style and substance. It’s a shame that the younger brother felt that way because Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is a smashing record. This is the sound of an artist who no longer has to cater to anyone but himself. In fact, the songs on this record are the strongest batch that he has written since his former band’s Definitely Maybe/ Morning Glory heyday 15 years ago. However, one thing must be made clear: this is not a loud, bombastic rock record like the first two Oasis records, far from it. What this sounds like is a strong singer-songwriter record that’s built around tight choruses and hooks. And there are plenty of them starting with the opening anthem, “Everybody’s on the Run,” which serves as Noel’s mission statement that he’s doing things his way going forward. The upbeat stomp of “Dream On,” the slow-building “If I Had a Gun” and the bonanza of brass-band arrangements on the poppy “The Death of You and Me” display Noel’s independence from his former group; while the guitar and string production-led epic of “(I Wanna Live a Dream in My) Record Machine,” the mean dance beats on “What a Life” and single-ready melodies of “Broken Arrow” are pure ear candy. Although the album does have a couple of filler tracks like the bland “The Wrong Beach,” Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is the man’s finest work in a long time. A sharp, focused record: it’s a clear indicator that Noel will be just fine on his own for years to come – Jeff Noller. Korn The Path of Totality Roadrunner Records Korn is definitely no strangers to musical experimentation. After all, this is the band that is partly responsible for the current sound of alternative rock in the past ten years with down-tuned guitars, hip-hop beats and classic songwriting sensibility. So as soon as it came out earlier this year that Korn was going to be releasing a dubstep style album, many were sure the band had lost it. After hearing the band’s first experiment with one-time-hardcore-vocalist-nowDJ Skrillex on “Get Up!,” this may be an avenue worth exploring further. The end result is the band’s latest tenth release, The Path of Totality. Though some may be a bit skeptical regarding Korn experimenting with Dubstep, after listening to the first few tracks on The Path of Totality (“Chaos Lives in Everything” and “Kill Mercy Within”), it becomes very obvious that the band is still who they’ve always been. Experimenting with Dubstep really doesn’t change who they are because at the core of each song, the band still retains their signature sound. While listening to the chugging riffs and double bass of “Narcissistic Cannibal,” you can’t help but imagine just how monstrous this song must be when it’s performed in the live arena. If you’re a longtime Korn fan, you can’t help but feel drawn to the familiarity of vocalist Jonathon Davis’ vocal delivery in the verses of “Illuminati,” while the descending progression of “Burn the Obedient” is devilishly addicting. The first album single, “Get Up!” still takes the lead for the albums standout track, but “Let’s Go!” doesn’t trail too far behind it. At the end of the day, whether you like Dubstep or not, The Path of Totality is actually a pretty decent album. Adding the element of DJ’s Skrillex, Noisia, Downlink and others to the mix, the band is still the powerhouse that they have always been. If anything, over the years the band has become better songwriters. They deserve to be applauded for, once again, being at the forefront of pioneering a new style that could most likely soldier on and influence even more – Matthew Pashalian. Anthrax Worship Music Megaforce Out of the Big Four of Thrash, Anthrax has been the one that has appeared the least accomplished – Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer are the other three for those not familiar. This is not a knock on the group, but the fact remains that they have struggled to find a musical identity since lead singer Joey Belladonna was let go twenty years ago. Between line-up changes, the inability to write memorable songs and attacks on their name following 9/11, it’s a miracle that they are still together. As most people know, time has a way of not only bringing a band full circle but creating an appreciation for their body of work. Worship Music is the first one to do both and re-capture the magic since 1990’s Persistence of Time. Granted, Scott Ian and company wrote and recorded the album with former vocalist Dan Nelson before the two camps parted ways; but Belladonna’s vocals work effortlessly into the mix. If you didn’t know this fact, you would assume that the reunited band members hit pay dirt in the studio with a re-found chemistry. This is a fantastic return to prominence. It helps that the quality of their songwriting is high with such powerhouse cuts as “The Devil You Know,” “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t,” “I’m Alive” and “In the End.” Ian’s jackhammer riffs permeate with precision while Frank Bello’s bass work and Charlie Benante’s drumming give the tracks punch. Unlike their brethren in the Big Four, Anthrax’s music follows a more traditional form of 80s thrash metal, more in kin to Dio and Judas Priest – hell, they named a song after the latter on this record! When you do listen to the tracks, it’s hard not to feel like you’re at a concert alongside mulletstyling metalheads with denim jackets covered in Motorhead and Iron Maiden patches. Of course, having Belladonna back in the mix doesn’t hurt. Simply put, Worship Music is their best album in 20 years. It’s good to have them making great records again – Jeff Noller. Sign up for our weekly newsletter @ www.SFLMusic.com Wilco The Whole Love dBpm As critically acclaimed as Wilco has been over the last 15 years, they’ve never sounded as carefree and happy as they do on The Whole Love. Part of this is due to having a stable line-up finally after years of players coming in and going out since 1996’s Being There. The other part is that although albums such as 1999’s Summerteeth, 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and 2004’s A Ghost is Born were classics; they felt incredibly labored. This latter point you can credit to band leader Jeff Tweedy’s desire to shed his Uncle Tupelo past and write music that wasn’t trapped in the alt-country genre. Whereas 2009’s self-titled album found Tweedy and company finally settling down into a comfortable groove, The Whole Love finds them bursting with confidence. Here, the weight sounds completely off Tweedy, writing a beautiful batch of songs that showoff all the band’s loves and influences. The 7-minute “Art of Almost” has an icy cool resonance that goes from post-rock experimentation to guitar freak-out. It serves as the album’s mission statement – loose and fearless. From there, Wilco jump from killer rockers that echo Travelling Wilburys such as “I Might,” “Dawned on Me” and “Born Alone” to slow-burning, contemplative numbers like “Sunloathe,” the country-tinged “Open Mind” and ragged beat of “Capital City.” The cocky-swaggering “Standing O” is one of the best moments with its brash guitar work and cool lead vocals by Tweedy, perfectly contrasted against the rolling acoustic melodies of “Whole Love” that would sound good on a road trip. This is a warm, welcoming record that you can listen to over and over again. It’s captivating and engaging, which you can credit to keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen, guitarists Nels Cline and Pat Sansone, bassist John Stirratt and drummer Glenn Kotche who collaborate brilliantly with Tweedy throughout. Whereas past records took multiple listens to realize their brilliance; here, the results are immediate. The Whole Love showcases Wilco having fun and displaying genius simultaneously; an amazingly beautiful record that shows why Wilco is one of the best bands so far this century – Jeff Noller. 42 | www.SFLMusic.com Incubus Live from Soho iTunes I know what you’re thinking; another live release from Incubus? Yes, but at least the band hasn’t gone the way of Pearl Jam – yet. Incubus’ Live from Soho is an iTunesonly live release that, though may not be a full show, is great for both the casual fan and the one who has to have absolutely everything. The handful of songs chosen from the band’s set is one that is definitely more enjoyable as it showcases more of the high-flying, heavier rock the band is rather than the mellower, teetering indie rock one that they have been becoming over the past few full lengths. This disc wouldn’t be complete without the massive radio singles like “Megalomaniac,” “Wish You Were Here” and “Anna Molly.” Newer cuts like the piano ballad “Promises, Promises,” “In the Company of Wolves” and “Adolescents” actually fit in quite nicely with the rest of the heavier rocking cuts. Before driving the crowd wild with “Nice to Know You,” the band goes into a fun little jam of effect madness led by guitarist Mike Einziger. With the crossover hit “Drive,” the band start it out with Einziger supplying a gritty electric guitar in place of the acoustic to accompany vocalist Brandon Boyd’s voice, before the rest of the band comes in to lift the song up to its pop potential. Live from Soho ends this ten-track live compilation with the song that first put the band in people’s scope; “Pardon Me,” a great closing song – one the band should have used to close their sets on this album’s tour cycle. As far as the songs chosen for Live from Soho, all are great. The only complaint that could possibly be made would be, “How come (insert song title) here didn’t make it?” Of course, those are the people who you could never please anyways – Matthew Pashalian. Prepared by MagCloud for Sean McCloskey. Get more at sflmusic.magcloud.com.
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