Monthly Archives: June 2013

Quick Artist Profiles: Affiance

For a long time it seemed like melody was dead in heavy music. There might be a clean vocal here or there or a melodic guitar part, but the majority of the metal bands that have come along have largely neglected this; until now. Affiance is a great band from Cleveland that are bringing technicality and melody to the forefront of the music, a great departure from the regular formula that seems to plaguing the genre.

Formed in 2007 affiance features vocalist Dennis Tvrdik, Brett Wondrak on guitar, Dominic Dickinson on guitar, and Patrick Galante on drums. The band has released three collections of material. Calm Before The Storm their debut was released in 2008. This was followed by their second collection, No Secret Revealed which was released in 2010. Their latest release was The Campaign which was released in 2012, and is a great record comprising great songs with great vocals and technical guitar playing.

Check these guys out. Metal is alive and well with Affiance!

-B. Harlow

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Lamb of God Tear Up The Palladium 6/18/13

Lamb of God made a triumphant return to one of the first places the band played on their first tour last night, The Worcester Palladium. It was a special night and you could tell that everyone was excited to see Lamb of God throw down their signature brand of pure American heavy metal. The bill last night was also spectacular featuring The Acacia Strain and the Polish metal band, Decapitation.

Lamb of God started their set with the song, “Desolation” and this got the ball rolling in a big way. The crowd of the palladium erupted, and the band continued with their set playing “Ghost Walking” and one of their best songs, “Walk With Me in Hell.” The band then launched into “Set To Fail” which is one of my favorite songs and the band played it expertly.

The band then played a couple of their older songs. One of these was “Ruin” which went over incredibly well with the crowd, as did “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For” which was dedicated to The United States Military. During this song the bands two projection screens featured pictures of military men and women who were also Lamb of God fans, which was awesome. They finished this part of the set with the great “11th Hour”

The band then played “The Undertow” this song was an odd choice in my mind, but the crowd still raged on. Then Randy Blythe said the opening words to “Omerta” and that’s when the palladium went absolutely insane, and it would remain that way for the rest of the, as the band weaved their riffs. The band finished the main part of their set with the brutally fast, “Contractor.”

The stage went dark and the Palladium started booming with chants of ‘Lamb of God,’ and then we heard the acoustic intro “The Passing” which lead into the bands terrific encore which included “In Your Words,” “Laid to Rest,” “Redneck,” and the always classic “Black Label.”

-B. Harlow
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The Rolling Stones Rock Boston 6/14/13

On Friday June 14th The Rolling Stones took to the stage at the Boston Garden for the second night of their two night stand on their 50 & Counting Tour. You could tell that everyone was excited for the festivities that night, as almost everyone outside of The Garden was decked out in Rolling Stones merchandise. As our party entered the stadium our intensity level went even further through the roof, as we realized we were only eleven rows from the stage.

At about 8:50 the house lights went down and the band’s intro video came on, and that’s when the crowds intensity skyrocketed. The whole Garden was clapping, whistling, and waiting not so patiently for the show to begin. Then, The Rolling Stones Appeared. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood in the flesh, and that’s when the place erupted, and the band launched into the first chords of “Get Off My Cloud.”

The band sounded tight on their first few numbers, but on the fourth song of the night, “Gimme Shelter” you could tell that the band was on fire, and it would be a great night of some of the Stone’s best material. They played “All Down The Lane” and for Boston’s fan voted song they played, “Memory Motel” which coincidentally features the lyric “When I asked her where she headed for ‘Back up to Boston I’m singing in a bar.’”

“When The Whip Comes Down” a classic cut from 1978’s Some Girls was up next, and that was followed by one of my least favorite Stones’ tracks, “Emotional Rescue.” The band then launched into the two new tracks which they recorded for their latest greatest hits album Grrr! which was released last November. “Doom and Gloom,” a political rocker was one of these new songs and that went over well, but you could tell that by the time they got into “One More Shot” people were using these new tracks as an opportunity to use the bathroom. I dig the new tracks, especially “Doom and Gloom,” and I felt I was one of the few people in the audience that new the track.

Keith Richards then busted into the riff for “Honkey Tonk Women” which brought the crowd back into the action. The band then did introductions, and after that Keith Richards took to the microphone performing two of my favorite Stones’ songs “You Got The Silver” and “Happy.” These two tracks went over well especially “Happy” which had a great number of fans singing along.

“Midnight Rambler” was up next and this was when Mick Taylor joined the band. Taylor looked happy to be there, but his playing was really not up to muster. In fact it felt like they buried his guitar in the live mix to cover any mistakes. Watts and Richards really held the band together on this track especially the very loose last part of the song at the end.

The band played “Miss You” and “Start Me Up” which both received enormous hands from the crowd who went up another notch when the band launched into the intro of “Start Me Up.” The band finished off their set with “Tumbling Dice,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Sympathy For The Devil.” These songs were all excellent especially “Sympathy For The Devil.”

The stage went dark, and the crowd called for an encore, and their wishes were granted when B.U.’s choir came to the stage with the band and performed a haunting rendition of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The band closed the night with the two crowd pleasers, “Jumping Jack Flash” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

The Rolling Stones were amazing and if you get the opportunity to see them, you definitely should not let that opportunity pass you by.

-B. Harlow
Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood

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NEVER SAY DIE: Black Sabbath Return With First Album Featuring Ozzy Osbourne in 35 Years, ’13’

Black Sabbath. These two words say so much. They conjure images of Ozzy Osbourne peace signs swinging in the air hoping up and down like a coked up Richard Nixon. Of Tony Iommi standing in place playing the evilest riffs that can be conjured. And Geezer Butler, whose bass tone and style is the gold standard for all of heavy metal.  These three titans have come together with the help of producer, Rick Rubin to release their first new album in 35 years, 13.

13 starts off with the ominous opening riff to the album’s first track “End of The Beginning.”    “End of The Beginning” has a very slow ominous feel to it that is very reminiscent of the band’s eponymous song “Black Sabbath.”  The song eventually picks up and the listener gets bludgeoned by another one of Iommi’s signature riffs.

13’s second track is entitled “God is Dead?” which starts off with a slow instrumental section that sets the mood for the song. This then gets interrupted by another one of Tony Iommi’s signature riffs. You can hear how tight the band is on this riff especially bassist Geezer Butler and session drummer, Brad Wilk. The slow meandering riff comes back again and with it we hear Ozzy’s vocals which sound excellent. Rick Rubin did a great job polishing Ozzy’s voice on this song, as it is spotless in performance. Butler’s bass is super punchy during the verse too, which gives the song a certain movement that is different from Iommi’s guitar playing which is very smooth. The chorus comes in and this is when we hear Black Sabbath as it is meant to be heard with extremely loud riffs. Around the 5:55 the song hits a bridge and this is by far my favorite song as it fits in with the band’s older material like “Hole in the Sky.”

“Loner” is the next track on the album, which is a track about pure alienation, which lyrically is interesting because many of Sabbath’s early songs were about that same topic. The riff in this song is very standard and simple, but it gets the job done.  But where the song really is stunning is towards the middle where it slows down for a short period, but then the band kicks in, and they’re full speed.

“Zeitgeist” is the albums fourth track, and is one of my favorite tracks on the record. The song has a great feel reminiscent of their great track, “Planet Caravan.”  It’s a beautiful track, and Rubin did a great job on the mixing allotting each instrument the correct space in the mix. If there’s anything that would be the polar opposite of “Zeitgeist” it would be the next track, “Age of Reason” which is a riff driven track about the end of the world, but what I love about it is it’s riff which sounds like a number of my favorite Black Sabbath songs got shoved into a blender, and the end result was this track. Tony Iommi’s guitar playing is also something that should be noted, as he provides a very heavy mechanical feel, but still makes the track groove. Wilk’s drumming is also great on this track.

“Live Forever” is another one of those tracks that you just want to bang your head to. The riff has so much groove. It’s a tremendous song, and the lyrics on the track are spectacular too. “Damaged Soul” is the seventh track on the album, and this song sounds like it came straight from 1971. The production on this song isn’t as spectacular as the rest of the album, but the unpolished feel adds to the rustic and true image that Black Sabbath has always portrayed.

“Dear Father” is the last track on the album, and this song is as heavy, as anything I’ve heard even though it’s a slower song in parts, I would say it’s one of the heaviest tracks I’ve ever heard. I love it.

13 is a collection of eight great tracks that bring one back to the 70’s. Rick Rubin said he wanted the album to sound contemporary, but also have a vintage feel, and with this record he definitely captured that vibe. Sabbath is back!

-B. Harlow

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Man Overboard ‘Heart Attack’

Last Tuesday Man Overboard released their third album, Heart Attack which is a  14 track pop punk album. Man Overboard is originally from Mt. Laurel and Williamstown, New Jersey and began  their journey as a band in 2008. Since then, the band they’ve released two EP’s, an acoustic EP, and a split with Boston pop punk band Transit. They’ve also  recorded two other studio albums.

This album is strong, and with 14 tracks one is fully satisfied by size and quantity. It starts out with a great track called “Secret Pain” which is a perfect opening track. The track “Where I Left You” is the next track to take note of. It starts off slowly, but picks up into a nice chorus. The band then launches into the title track which is a solid song with a heavy handed beat that drives the song. The band gets heavier on the next track “White Lies” which has a very serious feel that feels particularly well. The band keeps putting great tracks out like, “Hoodie Song,” “Damage Control,” and “Wide Awake.”  \

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Quick Artist Profile: Graham Dechter

Born into a musical family it was no surprise Graham Dechter went into music. His mother, Maureen came from musical theater and his father, Brad is an orchestrated and composer who has worked on 250 film scores and arranged pieces for many famous artists including Johnny Mathis and Barbra Streisand. He credits his parents for exposing him to the music that he eventually would later work with, jazz. But Dechter did not start out playing jazz, originally Dechter’s muse was classical music which he also composed.  This changed however when Dechter met with bassist Marshall Hawkins who exposed him to improvisation, and thus directed the young musician towards playing jazz. In 2005 and at age 19 Dechter was invited to join the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and has been touring with them since, as well as working on sessions, and playing with many singers and musicians including working on Michael Bublé’s, Christmas.

Along with being a fantastic studio musician, Dechter is also a solo artist that has put out two fantastic records. His first record was released in 2009 and featured many great tracks that feature his smooth sounding swing based leads it also featured the tremendous bass playing of John Clayton. Dechter’s second album featured the same smooth playing that will make him a force to be reckoned with within the guitar community.

-B. Harlow

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Newsted Release New Song, “Heroic Dose”

Jason Newsted has been instrumental to the thrash scene since the mid 80’s when he played with one of the best underground thrash metal bands, Flotsam and Jetsam. Newsted then came to the forefront of thrash metal when he took the bass slot for Trash Metal’s forefathers, Metallica, after the tragic death of Cliff Burton. In 2001 Newsted left Metallica, after differences with both James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. After he left Metallica, he played in his band, Echobrain and played bass for a short period for Ozzy Osbourne. Newsted  then joined Voivod under the stage name, Jasonic.  In 2009, Newsted was present with Metallica when they were inducted into the Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

In the 3 years since the Rock and Roll induction ceremony, Newsted has been honing his sound for his latest project, Newsted. Newsted released Newsted was originally a metal three-piece that includes Newsted on bass and vocals, Jessie Farnsworth on guitar, and Jesus Mendez Jr.  Staind Guitarist Mike Mushock joined Newsted in March.

Recently the band released the first track from their upcoming debut album, Heavy Metal Music. The track is titled “Heroic Dose”  and runs at about five and a half minutes long.  It starts out nicely with a riff that reminded me of Testament, especially the vocals which reminded me of Chuck Billy. Newsted’s voice is great for thrash, and it’s a shame that it was barely used when he was in Metallica. Around the three and a half minute mark we get hit with great dueling solos, that really make this track stand out in extra ordinary fashion.

Be sure to check these guys out and look for new music from them this summer. They’ll be on tour with Megadeth this summer, so be sure to check them out if you’ll be attending Gigantour.

-B. Harlow 

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Quick Artist Profile: Modern Baseball

Modern Baseball is a Philadelphia based band that originated in Maryland. The group was founded in 2011 and consists of Brendan Lukens, Jacob Ewald, Ian Farmer, and Sean Huber. Their influences are very interesting, and include Brand New, Gaslight Anthem, Motion City Soundtrack, and Say Anything.

Modern Baseball put out their first record, Sports in late 2012. The record which consists of 12 tracks is a great listen and provides an enjoyable listening experience, as the tracks go together nicely, and fit together seamlessly. The album was Recorded over a series of late nights at Drexel University’s free studio and  was released by Lame-O Records, and is available for streaming.

Be sure to check out Modern Baseball, I think you’ll enjoy their music and its unique sound.

-B. Harlow

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