Thursday, August 17, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Pentagram (Relentless), by Pentagram

In 1985 after a decade and a half of line-up changes and all kinds of drug fueled antics (mostly from singer and only consistent member Bobby Liebling) Virginia doom metal band Pentagram finally put out their debut album Pentagram (though in 1993 it was rereleased as Relentless on Peaceville Records) on their own with no record label to back them. While this made things difficult for them, they still slowly managed to push their way forward and leave a lasting legacy among the heavy metal community.

You can definitely hear the Black Sabbath influence in the tracks on this album, but by this point Pentagram was a lot less of the Sabbath clone that they had started off being in the early-mid 70's. The tone on the guitar had more of outer space meets Satan kind of vibe and the rhythm section was a lot more booming and rumbling. That said, the lyrics are still NOT pro-Satan if you are worried but take the time to actually listen.

Sign of the Wolf is one of the more pushing, fast pace tunes on Pentagram. You can tell that this is where the band was really coming into their own in terms of sound and not necessarily trying to copy off their influences. It definitely sounds a lot more evil than most of what was being put out at that time. I definitely dig the vocal melody on the chorus. Something about it sticks in my head even more than the guitar riff. It's definitely a headbanger and I'd dare say a tune to crank while speeding down the highway with the wind blowing through your hair at night.

Relentless is another good one to crank at 11, though then again the whole album is made up of tracks like that. That riff will get stuck in your head the moment it comes on, even more so than Sign of the Wolf. This is a song where you definitely hear the Black Sabbath influence, but it's like they blasted it into the stratosphere. It's faster, bolder, and more daring in some respects. Liebling's voice is incredibly bewitching and you'll be unable to think of much of anything else aside from the riff for a while after listening to this tune.

Pentagram (Relentless) is definitely an under rated classic as far as I'm concerned. It's a shame that only just now when Liebling is getting up there in years is the band getting a bit of the fame, fortune, and opportunities that they truly deserve. It does help though that Liebling cleaned up his act and did a complete 180, though. That said, you should definitely check this out if you're looking for some metal that hasn't been played to death either on the radio or at festivals.

Pentagram (Relentless), by Pentagram receives 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Death Row
2. All Your Sins
3. Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)
4. The Ghoul
5. Relentless
6. Run My Course
7. Sinister
8. The Deist
9. You're Lost I'm Free
10. Dying World
11. 20 Buck Spin

Buy the album on Amazon:

First Queen Shows Terrifying for Adam Lambert

Photo courtesy of

Freddie Mercury is one of the single greatest and best known icons in the history of not only rock n' roll, but popular music overall. The man left a gigantic legacy behind with his unmatched operatic singing, his lyrics, music, and the character he created for himself. For anyone to even think of stepping into his shoes in Queen would be a frightening notion for anyone, but Adam Lambert did it. Recently however, Lambert has opened up on just how terrifying the first few shows he did with Queen were for him.

In an interview with ET Canada, Lambert talks about how he felt during those shows, but at the same time how he felt so supported by the band and the fans, saying:

“I thought, ‘There’s no way I should be doing this,'. I had the confidence of the band and they were really lovely about it. They were like, ‘No, no, no, you’re great. We love it. Do what you want.’ But in my head I kept going, ‘No, I don’t know.’

The first audience we had was very supportive, and each audience afterwards was supportive. So, slowly, little by little, I was like, ‘Okay, all right, I can do this – kind of.’ But there’s no comparing to Freddie.

The intention of the lyrics, the mood of the song – if I kept those thing in the forefront of my mind, as opposed to, ‘How did Freddie do it?’ I usually would find my way there. Working with the band has taught me a lot. I’ve learned a lot about songcraft, and about how a song can connect with a mass crowd. Brian and Roger are wealths of information and experience and artistry. It’s a family now. It’s great.”

I myself saw Lambert perform with Queen back in 2013 at the United Center in Chicago. It was definitely one hell of a show. It felt genuine down to the last note, but at the same time Lambert in no way tried to emulate Freddie. No one ever could and he realized that. Instead he did all of the songs his own way and everyone (myself included) loved it. It really is a match made in Heaven. There is no replacing Freddie Mercury, but if anyone had to fill his shoes I'm glad it was Lambert.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

DJ Blends Metallica With Earth, Wind, and Fire

Over the years on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective we've discovered some pretty absurd things together, but I think this most recent thing really takes the cake. A YouTuber by the name of DJ Cummerbund has taken two artists who could not be any more different: Metallica and Earth, Wind, and Fire and made their music work together in a song which you have to hear to believe (which can be listened to in the video above).

The songs used in this unusual mash-up are the vocals and guitar solo of Metallica's Enter Sandman (with a bit of Master of Puppets) and the instrumentation of Earth, Wind, and Fire's Let's Groove Tonight. Cummerbund calls it Earth, Sand, and Fire.

This isn't the first mad scientist creation of this nature Cummerbund has fused together. He has also put Ozzy Osbourne with Earth, Wind, and Fire as well as Rush with Kelis, Foo Fighters with Rick James, Twisted Sister and Blind Melon, Disturbed and Smash Mouth, and more. He apparently also has something with Dio and Ricky Martin on the way too according to the comments section of the above video. I'm scared and excited to find out what that will be like.

Monday, August 14, 2017

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week #129

5 Songs to Get You Through the Week is a feature I run on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective on Sundays/early hours of Monday morning where I pick out 5 tunes that I think are notable and tell you a bit about them. The point is to give you some rocking music to help you deal with your weekday blues. You can either listen to one each day, listen to them all at once, or any other combination that you feel. As long as you can get through the week without the man getting you down, that's all I care about. Without further ado, here are the 5 tracks I've picked out for this week:

1. Holy Thunderforce, by Rhapsody of Fire

One of the things I've always liked best about power metal is that it's basically classical music on steroids, especially in the case of Rhapsody of Fire. They manage to take neo-classical music and launch it into the stratosphere. Plus, the fact that all of their songs are about swords, wizards, dragons, kings, etc. makes them even more cool. You're not about to hear anything like that in a top 40 pop or rap song now are you?

2. Hallowed Be Thy Name, by Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden are the blue print for modern power metal. With their dual guitar harmonies, extended song structures, and classical influenced play style it's pretty easy to see how so many bands of the past 30+ years have gained a great deal of influence from them. Plus, many of Iron Maiden's tunes are based in the realm of fantasy, mythical, and biblical themes so that is yet another blatant characteristic that many bands have taken from.

3. Sixteenth Century Greensleeves, by Rainbow

But where would bands like Iron Maiden be if it weren't for the likes of Ronnie James Dio and Ritchie Blackmore? Rainbow seamlessly blended medieval music with the likes of hard hitting rock n' roll already in the mid-70's. Not a whole lot of other bands were doing what they were doing back then, and even if they were certainly not the amazing way they were doing it. In my opinion Rainbow is the father of the power metal genre.

4. Mirror Mirror, by Blind Guardian

Other bands have gone on to carry the power metal torch, however. One of my absolute favorites is Blind Guardian. They have been around since 1987, but they are just as relevant and heavy as any power metal band today. They definitely lean a lot on the fantasy themes in terms of their lyrical content and include a great deal of symphonic and classical elements to the musical side of things. They have evolved a lot over the years, but you can tell a Blind Guardian song when you hear one.

5. Plagues of Babylon, by Iced Earth

Iced Earth is one of the most famous power metal bands in existence. They have also been around since the mid-80's, and like Blind Guardian are still just as relevant and heavy. If anything, they have gotten progressively heavier over the years. The only consistent member is founding rhythm guitarist Jon Schaffer who constantly has members coming in and out in order to keep things fresh (I would assume, or hope). They have a symphonic edge to their sound as well, but some times it's just straight up balls to the wall angry guitar sound with melodic edge.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Deep Purple Guitarist Steve Morse Open to One-Off Ritchie Blackmore Return

Photo courtesy of Vintage Guitar Magazine

Deep Purple has probably gone through more line-up changes than any other famous rock n' roll band in history. Members of the band are often coming and going, including founding guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. Since his final split with the band in 1993 however, a lot of tension between him and the band has fluctuated. However, current guitarist Steve Morse who has been with the band for over 20 years at this point feels that a one-off reunion would be a good idea.

In a recent interview with Billboard, Morse talks about how he feels it would be a great way for fans and the band itself to get closure, if only psychological barriers could be broken through. Morse says:

“Well, he's one of the founding members. Fans would love it. It would be nice, I think, to see closure with everybody involved and the bad feelings put aside. I think they'd all get a kick out of it if they could get past the psychological barriers. I am a fan of music, I'm a musician. I am not a politician.

Now, a lot of people would feel intimidated, to have somebody come who's likely to play over them, standing in front of them and stealing the spotlight or whatever. But I thought, ‘A lot of people would love to see this.’

And at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction, I thought Ritchie Blackmore was going to show up. He could've played three songs, but I ended up doing them because he didn't. That was up in the air.

The ice has to be broken, but I think that once that's done, they'd all have a great time. But I don't know how to go about doing that. Anyway, as far as I am concerned, all members, past and present and future of Deep Purple, are welcome.”

Blackmore himself has stated that he would be open to doing such a reunion, but the band's management would never have it. I know I've mentioned this before, but I'm not sure how I would feel about Blackmore reuniting with Deep Purple in any capacity. Deep Purple songs in order to perform and not just play them require a certain level of fire and passion in your heart and hands. Blackmore seems to lack that these days, most likely due to age and being bored with the music. I honestly feel that Morse brings back that kick in the pants that Deep Purple needs and plays those songs better than Blackmore would these days, even if their playing styles are distinctly different.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Consolers of the Lonely, by The Raconteurs

Album cover of Consolers of the Lonely, by The Raconteurs. Property of The Raconteurs.

In 2008, Jack White and his side project The Raconteurs decided to drop a big surprise on their fans. Their 2006 debut Broken Boy Soldiers had gone over well and plenty of people loved what they were doing, so when they dropped Consolers of the Lonely with only a week's notice before the release date people went nuts. The fans were incredibly pleasantly surprised by this blindside release. The only downside however was that it was the band's last release before they went on a hiatus that is currently still going on.

Consolers of the Lonely seems to go in a more bluesy and ballsy direction than Broken Boy Soldiers. It sounds a bit more like The White Stripes in some regards (which is no surprise considering Jack had just gotten done touring for the ginormous Icky Thump album), but at the same time it goes in its own direction. One or two songs even sound like something Paul McCartney would have written during the days of The Beatles. It's eclectic in some regards, but the song writing is a great deal more satisfying.

Consoler of the Lonely is one hell of a solid rock n' roll track. It takes all the best elements of twangy old blues rock and throwing in some more punchy modern alternative into the mix. The way it switches gears back and forth so quickly while remaining one cohesive song is truly remarkable. That is some trademark Jack White song writing right there. This is definitely a tune you will want to crank through your stereo at top volume so you can rock out and drive the neighbors nuts.

Many Shades of Black is one of the few songs that has made my jaw drop and say "WOW." in recent times. If you didn't know any better, you would have swore that it was a leftover from The Beatles' Abbey Road album. It has that Oh Darling kind of vibe to it, but at the same time it does its own thing. The horn section definitely makes the chorus boom a bit more while also adding a bit of shine that only brass can. You will be swaying and singing along to it in no time at all.

Consolers of the Lonely has one great song after the next. If you're looking for some fantastic alternative rock that doesn't get much in the way of any radio airplay then you'll want to pick this album up asap. As I mentioned earlier, it's pretty eclectic so you're bound to find something in there that suits your fancy. It can go from rock, to ballad, to something else entirely all within the space of a track or two. You definitely won't be disappointed with it.

Consolers of the Lonely, by The Raconteurs receives 4 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Consoler of the Lonely
2. Salute Your Solution
3. You Don't Understand Me
4. Old Enough
5. The Switch and the Spur
6. Hold Up
7. Top Yourself
8. Many Shades of Black
9. Five on the Five
10. Attention
11. Pull This Blanket Off
12. Rich Kid Blues
13. These Stones Will Shout
14. Carolina Drama

Buy the album on Amazon

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Metallica's "Master of Puppets" Reissue to Be Out Later This Year

Having just released their first studio album in nine years earlier this year ( Self-Destruct) Metallica seem to be a pretty busy band as of late. Some of that business includes working on a reissue to their 1986 major label debut Master of Puppets.

Master of Puppets is the album that truly brought Metallica into the public eye and made them a staple of the 80's thrash metal movement. It is considered by many to be their best album to date and the album that defines not only the band, but the genre itself.

In a recent interview with Voir, drummer Lars Ulrich talks about the reissue of their iconic masterwork, saying:

“We’ll try to see if we can get it out at the end of this year. It’s coming soon. We’re working on it. There’s a lot of stuff associated with Master of Puppets – it’s an immense project. We’ve spent to much time looking forward, with Hardwired … to Self Destruct. But Master of Puppets is obviously next. Hopefully, late this year. If not, soon thereafter.”

I would definitely be interested to see what all would be included in the reissue in terms of bonus tracks as well as any extra literature, photographs, and other fun bonuses. Master of Puppets was the first Metallica album I ever bought as a kid and was what got me into thrash metal. While I don't think it's their best album, I do agree it is one to be recognized and celebrated.