I just picked up Ozzy Osbourne’s latest album Scream. I like it, particularly “Let It Die” and “Let Me Hear You Scream”. What can I say? It’s Ozzy. Both are fantastic head-bangers. “Let It Die” very different in style from anything Ozzy has done before. Perhaps that’s what is so attractive about it. “Let Me Hear You Scream” is one of those anthemic songs for which Ozzy is famous. I can easily visualize “Let Me Hear You Scream” in a packed general admission venue …
The only criticism that I have is the packaging. The prior album, Black Rain, came in a nice thin, paperboard package while Scream is in a standard plastic jewel case. I really like the modern, environmentally responsible style of packaging. I wish all albums came that way. I’d have more space to store all of the disks. Plus, I wouldn’t have to deal with all of the broken cases.
The poster child for drug and alcohol excess in heavy metal, Ozzy Osbourne, is going to have his DNA sequenced. The idea is that scientists would like to understand how he has survived given the chemical abuse he has heaped on himself over the years. It would be interesting to understand what insights will be derived from this research.
We went to see Iron Maiden with Dream Theater last night at White River Amphitheater (Auburn, WA) last night. This is a bill not to be missed. The bands did not disappoint.
We’ve seen Iron Maiden at this venue before. When we saw Iron Maiden at White River the last time it was a nightmare getting to the venue. We left Longview around 4:00 pm and should have made it to the venue and in to our seats in time to see the opening act. That time, we did not. We walked in to the last flourish of the opening act. On the last trip we encountered a traffic jam on the exit from I-5 all the way to the site. It took us more than two hours to make it the twelve miles or so from there to the venue.
This time with Dream Theater opening we wanted to make sure that we arrived in time. So, we left town much earlier. We arrived the venue before the parking lots opened at 5:00 pm. There was no traffic jam. We hung out on the side of the road for 30 minutes or so until the parking opened.
So with the car safely parked, we then hung out outside the gate for an hour in the “blazing” sun.
Once the gate opened, we had 90 minutes to kill before Dream Theater would take the stage. We bought shirts, found some food, and then set about watching the people. This was fortuitous as we encountered some old friends from high school (this was a first in some 25 years of concert going). We hadn’t seen them since the last class reunion. I had never realized that one of the people was such an Iron Maiden fan (more than 30 shows!).
The Dream Theater set was marred by an old fat guy. He came down from several rows behind us and insisted that we sit down during the show or he was “going to call security.” My son actually had the conversation with this clown as he was sitting on the end of the row. This is a heavy metal show. In heavy metal it is a sign of respect to stand and to remain standing throughout the entire act. The guy looked like he had been to metal concerts before. I fail to fathom how he did not understand that. Sure, we probably didn’t need to stand to see over the people in front of us, but that’s not the point.
In between the Dream Theater and Iron Maiden sets we were treated to a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier. The picture below doesn’t quite do the mountain justice. If the day wasn’t so cloudy, the view would have been just gorgeous.
Also between the sets, we also ran across a girl dressed in lingerie. It was quite the “interesting” sight. This picture also does not do the sight justice. She clearly wanted attention and was getting it.
The Iron Maiden set was great. Bruce Dickenson has an amazing amount of energy while on stage.
Our seats were good, but they didn’t allow us to take really great pictures of the show. One of the surprising things, at least to me, was that the pictures where the state was lit in blue, green, or white turned out reasonably well given the distance while the pictures when the set was lit in red did not. Some of the red ones did result in cool effects, however.
We were not able to get a good picture, but when Eddie was on stage some of the interactions with the band members were shown on the giant screens from Eddie’s perspective.
Dream Theater released their latest studio album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, yesterday. Their work is hard for me to describe. Of course, it’s progressive metal. This album is up to their usual standards and is as complex as ever. It is going to take me some time to figure out what I really like about it.
One song that jumped out at me early on that I really like is on the “Bonus Disc”: Too Tame A Land. This is their take on Iron Maiden’s classic work about Frank Herbert’s classic novel Dune. The song is great (both versions). In this version I really like the effect that the keyboards bring to the song. It really makes it sound more desert-like, more futuristic, more exotic than the original. If a band is going to cover an already well-done song like To Tame A Land, Dream Theater is definitely the band to do an excellent job. For me, this one song makes the purchasing the album a wise investment.
P.S. I’d love to see them perform To Tame A Land live, but they so rarely come to the Pacific Northwest.
Guns N’ RosesChinese Democracy has been out for some time now. I’ve heard the single on HardRadio a number or times now and the song just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t know exactly why that it is. Maybe it’s the pontificating by Axl about how China runs with respect to political rights. That in itself is somewhat strange for me as my bachelor’s degree is in Political Science. I very much in enjoy discussing studying and discussing politics. But somehow that just doesn’t seem right when coming from a hard rock / heavy metal band like GNR. It’s probably the same reason I was never a fan of Rage Against the Machine.
But even when I separate my personal preference of not liking politics mixed with my metal, the music just isn’t as good as Appetite for Destruction. One hopes that 21 years between albums would result in some improvement, but it just isn’t there. At least, not for me.
It has been a few years since AC/DC has released an album; longer still since I’ve purchased one. Their new album, Black Ice, is a solid effort. Certainly it isn’t as good as the classics like Back in Black and For Those About to Rock. It is hard to maintain the rebellious school boy image when you’re fifty-ish years old.
The Rock N Roll Train is probably the best song on the album. Stormy May Day has some interesting guitar riffs; the title track Black Ice is also good. It’s all typical AC/DC … something we criticize other bands for and, for some strange reason, let AC/DC get away with releasing the same style songs album after album.
The only disappointing facet of this album is the exclusive distribution arrangement with Wal-Mart. I’m not a big fan of exclusive distribution agreements, much less Wal-Mart as the distributor granted that privilege.
[The scan of the CD cover really doesn’t do the cover justice.]
Metallica’s new album, Death Magnetic, is finally out. After 2003’s St. Anger disaster I was prepared for another, politely, poor showing. I’m not a rabid Metallica fan, so I wasn’t ready to write them off on Death Magnetic. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’ve already listened to the entire CD more time in the last couple of days than I have ever listened to St. Anger.
There’s definitely some interesting guitar work in lots of places … the later portion of “The Day that Never Comes” stands out. I’d like to hear entire songs like that. Lars finally got his drum kit fixed; it sounds like real drums again (though occasionally a little bit of the drum sound from the last album leaks through). I also like “Broken, Beat, & Scarred”.
Whether I like the album or not is immaterial. If I don’t like it what I hear before the release, I won’t buy it. The only people in the world that have to like it is Metallica … it’s their work. I’ve said this for years and I stand by it. Death Magnetic, though is a good album. Definitely worth being considered in the same breath as their best works (which I think are Master of Puppets and the Black Album).
As promised, I got to see Judas Priest live in Seattle last night at the WaMu Theater with my son and a friend of his. And, as predicted, the Priest opened with Dawn of Creation/Prophecy. Halford came through the set wearing a robe covered in chrome (the picture sucks a little … what do you expect when taking a picture of a mirror?).
Halford – Nostradamus
The set covered all of the classic material like Breakin’ the Law, You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’, Hell Bent for Leather, Painkiller, and The Green Manalishi as well as some more unusual choices like Dissident Aggressor and Hell Patrol. You can get a complete set list here. They chose a nice mix of songs. The audience seemed to respond.
I’ve seen Judas Priest (and Fight/Halford) many times. This was a very good show. Halford was far more animated and interacted with the crowd much more than some recent shows I’ve seen. The whole band, I think, was in top form. It was clear that they were excited to be on the road in support of some very good material.
We had third row seats on the left side of the stage as the crowd faces the stage. KK was right in front of us the whole time. The view doesn’t really get any better than that. (You might have noticed that third row is a little different from second row that I mentioned earlier. With the way WaMu Theater laid out the seats for this show it was effectively second row.)
One thing I think I will always remember from this show is Halford walking out on stage during the “encore” and upon reaching the Harley saying, “I’m such an idiot. I forgot something.” And then turning around and walking back off stage looking for his assistant. He had forgotten the American flag.
Testament opened the show. I’ve seen Testament before (oddly enough opening for Judas Priest the last time I had second row seats). Testament was, well, Testament. You either like Testament or you don’t. I don’t and their performance didn’t do anything to change that.
All in all, a very good show. Money and time well spent. Keep up the great work, guys!
P.S. I’d still love to see Judas Priest perform Nostradamus – The Opera.
To those who know me, it isn’t a secret that I’m a big Judas Priest. I have every album. The latest album, Nostradamus, is in my opion their best complete work to date. There are arguably better single songs in their catalog, but no better complete album.
Nostradamus is a massive two disc set. It comes in at nearly two hours running time, their longest studio work. The songs flow seemlessly from one to the next. It is as if the album was written with the thought of Judas Priest staging an opera based on this work. I’m, obviously, not a fan of opera … but if Judas Priest were to do such a thing and Rob Halford was to play the leading role I would do everything in my power to see it. (Bill Curbishley if you come across this … hint … hint … )
Priest has always been masterful at creating characters within their songs (The Ripper, Tyrant, Killing Machine, The Hellion/Electric Eye, and Painkiller to cite just a few). Nostradamus creates the character on a scale they’ve never done before; a scale which few other groups have ever been willing to attempt.
In this effort Priest is mixing things that are new to them (strings, keyboards, …). This includes some significantly slower, more ballady songs that bridge the major movements. Some hard core fans won’t like this. They’ll look at it as being “too soft” or “not Priest enough.” But you really have to look at these elements as being essential to the complete story they are trying to tell. And that story is of the man Nostradamus and the struggles, some say madness, that he went through to deliver prophetic visions that endure to this day. A handful of rocking songs won’t cover that story in the detail Priest accomplishes in this epic work.
A little later this summer I’ll being seeing Judas Priest again and from the second row (again). I’m looking forward to seeing how they incorporate material from this album into their live show. Will they start with Dawn of Creation/Prophecy or will they go for the ear-breaking intro of Rob riding a Harley on stage to start Hell Bent for Leather?
Behind the screen you hear the clatter of dice. The Dungeon Master begins to laugh. What do you do?