Archive for Hard Rock

Preview: Heavy MTL 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2013 by Lightning Slim

And so the pilgrimage is set to begin again. Heavy MTL 2013 will (hopefully) be a good time that will rinse out the bad taste of encroaching cheapness that has overtaken the show of late. Main sponsor has switched from Budweiser to Molson Canadian, which is a bit like telling a captive that flogging has been discontinued in favour of foot-sole beatings.

Also, remember these?


The beautiful holographic VIP passes and lanyards that have been a cool feature of the MTL experience are now gone. Paper tickets only. Wonder how MUNG those are going to get when we have to show them to security every time we want to get into the seating area? Also likely gone is any sort of physical schedule, which was slowly eroded from a full magazine/brochure until last year it was a single flyer, inaccurate and delivered late in the day.

For the first time, MTL has offered its own dedicated accommodation package; a set of rooms at the New Residence of McGill University (the building itself is a former 4-star hotel). This could either be the best decision we’ve ever made or the worst, as it is inexpensive and convenient, and populated entirely with heavy metal maniacs. You see the double edge of the sword here, no?


Now, for the schedule. Here’s Saturday:

Sat Schedule


Although I’m a little sad that A7X takes pride of place over Megadeth, I totally get it. Dudes are old and tired. Not as successful as Metallica or grass-roots respected as Testament. Plus, Dave Mustaine is like three seconds away from pulling his pants up to his armpits and turning into cranky old Republican Clint Eastwood. Thing is, Eastwood has always been a “good guy with a gun”, and never wrote “Hook In Mouth” or covered “Anarchy in the UK”.  My crew will be hanging with Wintersun anyways.

Why are we forced to decide between GWAR and Blackguard while Halestorm is in the free and clear? Grr. Ah well, I can’t resist seeing what the inconsistent Antarcticans* can come up with in a festival setting.

Similarly, it hurts me that I have to run from interesting proggers Baroness to see a few minutes of jaunty, parodic Steel Panther.

Sorry, Newsted. A reformed At The Gates takes it. And a possible train wreck reunion of Danzig and Doyle is way more fun than All Shall Perish.

How about Sunday?

Schedule Sun

No interruptions to the silly fun of Huntress! Or Finntroll! Or the-real-reason-everyone-is-here Amon Amarth! Me likey.

Then there’s some time for a Dagwood sandwich, some people watching and a bit of a nap before Machine Head.

Thrash newcomers Havok would be in trouble if both Mastodon and Children of Bodom hadn’t played Canada 150 times in the past decade. I swear I’ve seen Mastodon more than the Dayglo Abortions, and it’s well-known the Dayglos will play your living room for $200 and a pizza if you can track them down. Looking forward to it, Havok!

While I actually enjoyed the mellow vibe Godsmack brought to their last appearance at MTL, I don’t need it again. Certainly not at the expense of missing Cryptopsy.

Zombie is never bad live – let’s hope he keeps his record strong.


Will report back afterwards, of course! Check my Twitter feed for on-the-day shenanigans!


* I love GWAR, but they can’t self-edit. Every record (excepting the first two) has at least one excruciatingly bad track on it. I made a “worst of” playlist and discovered they could play an hour long full set of filler.

Album Review: KMFDM “Kunst” 2013

Posted in Album Reviews, FourFiveSix with tags , , , , on May 9, 2013 by Lightning Slim

KMFDM-Kunst  Like Zeno’s Arrow, KMFDM have been making each album for the past decade or so just a little bit worse than the one before, like an infinite series that never quite hits bottom.

Kunst comes closer than ever.

I’m a long-time KMFDM apologist, loving their if-you-don’t-like-it-you-don’t-get-it BS approach  to faking it until you make it. But this is getting tired. The band kicks things off with the title track, a KMFDM standard constructed lyrically from bits of random doggerel and the band’s own song titles through the ages. They do this every damn time, and the only new bit of life in “Kunst” is a throwback joke to the ancient controversy over the group’s mysterious name.

After that, things just kind of meander. The bands political hearts remain in the right places on “Pussy Riot”, and there are some interesting collaborations with the Morlocks and William Wilson (no surprise, allowing guest artists to steal the show is one of Sascha K’s better qualities) as well as “I ♥ Not”, a tale of obsessive love with samples by toddler Asia Konietzko. That’s right, it’s a family business!

A sausage factory entry from a band that can be angry, silly, audacious and infuriating, Kunst tries a bit of unwise unfamiliar territory by daring to be dull. 4.5 out of 10

Classic Album Review – Judas Priest “Point of Entry” 1981

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 20, 2013 by Lightning Slim

220px-JudaspriestpointofentryUSA  Poor old Point of Entry. This oft-overlooked and even more often maligned record gets a hard time for being the most un-metal of Priest’s efforts since Rocka Rolla. To be sure, the entirety of the album’s second half is filled with the Thin Lizzy style boogie rock that nobody wanted the band to prove they could still play.

But there’s so much more to the story. The opening track “Heading out to the Highway” has become a staple on both classic rock radio and the concert stage, and deservedly so. “Desert Plains”, while a bit of a sleeper, showcases the album’s excellent drum production, which often elevates the material. And let’s not forget “Solar Angels”, a wall of  Hawkwind-approved pedal-effect psychedelic riffage that really displays the good side of the experimentation that was happening in the studio at the time.

I will concede that “Don’t Go” is a strange single choice, and that “Turning Circles” is a piece of pure pop idiocy (which still manages to get airplay in my  home more often than I’d care to admit).

However, before we close the book on Point of Entry we must mention “Hot Rockin'”. Consider the video:

Come, on, people! It’s got cutty vests, air guitar and flames! It’s fast, ballsy and a little bit gay. Sounds like metal to me.

Maybe folks Stateside would have warmed to the album more if they hadn’t tampered with the original Brit cover:

 220px-Judas_priest_-_point_of_entry_a  Better, ain’t it? A perfect metaphor for the record itself, wrongly perceived and better than it appears.  7 out of 10

I Show You My Stubs

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2013 by Lightning Slim

…from my concert tickets. A lot of metalheads save up their gig tix for trophy value. Especially in the days before cellphone cameras, they were a great way to say “I was there!” Back then, bands and venues would confiscate pocket cameras and recording devices; now of course everybody wants you to tweet their names far and wide.

I’ve never been very organized, so I’ve lost a lot of my stubs over the years. Recently I was cleaning house and found a stack of them which were very faded, so I decided to throw them on the scanner before consigning them to the circular file. Check it out:

Concert Tix

A fun walk down memory lane. What do you do with your old stubs?

Album Review – Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “Meat & Bone” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , on January 3, 2013 by Lightning Slim

Galette-The-Jon-Spencer-Blues-Explosion-Meat-and-Bone  We should be glad that instead of simply pursuing litigation against the Black Keys for Grand Theft Style, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion instead produced an album of their own as a retort. A pretty good album, too, with Return To Form™ stamped all over it and a sound that slots it neatly in between everyone’s favourites, Now I Got Worry and Orange. If you don’t think this was intentional, note the inclusion of a song based on the riff from “Bell Bottoms”, this time called “Boot Cut”.

For those interested in a little JSBX bingo, pull out your cards, listen to Meat & Bone and see how many of these old chestnuts and calling cards you can hear:

“Yayuh! Do it!”

“Do the Monkey!”

“Get up! Get down!”

“Sock it to me”

“Got to get it!”

“Come OAN!”


Don’t bother, actually. Everybody wins, ‘cos they’re all there in a sort of “Plastic Fang never-happened” mash-up. It’s very tightly wound and delivered with a trashy sound mix that likely took forever to make it sound so off-the-cuff.

While the jury’s still out as to whether Meat & Bone is a genuine back-to-basics approach or a designed-by-committee appeal to purists, it’s an ass-kicker of a  daytime commute record. It does its thing with aplomb, and it would be churlish not to enjoy the results. 7.5 out of 10

Album Review – Danko Jones “Rock and Roll is Black and Blue” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , on October 22, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  There’s merely more of the same and then there’s heck yes more of the same. Danko Jones have never been ones to reinvent a properly spinning wheel, but whereas 2010 effort Below the Belt seemed a little bit tired, Black and Blue attacks the same ideas with a touch more pep. Perhaps it’s the inclusion of new blood behind the skins with Atom Willard, or maybe the fresh attention the band is getting from docu-pic Bring on the Mountain. I’m not going to speculate, since the Danko Jones ethos discourages over examination in any case.

Thematically, things stay pretty close to home. Danko the man likes women and their constituent parts “Legs”, this horndog obsession is a blessing and a curse “You Wear Me Down” and “Terrified”, and he intends to outlive his enemies “Conceited”. Pick up the expanded version for bonus track “In Your Arms” and the most Danzig of caterwauls you’ve heard all decade.

Energized and friskier than we’ve heard in a while, Rock and Roll is Black and Blue puts another solid volume into the Danko Jones library. Heck yes. 8 out of 10

Classic Album Review – Saxon “Rock the Nations” 1986

Posted in Album Reviews, FourFiveSix with tags , , , , , , , on July 16, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was always more of an umbrella than a straitjacket, with few in-scene penalties for exploring a variety of rock-based sounds. I like to think that it was in this ecumenical NWOBHM spirit that Saxon approached Rock the Nations, a record that someone in a more cynical mood might call 50 percent direct response to Defenders of the Faith and Pyromania, with another half dedicated to putting out some feelers towards the lucrative, burgeoning LA rock scene of the time.

The album roars out of the gate with the title track, full of Defenders-style bombast (and similar ridiculous drum recording), and keeps the ball rolling with rapid-fire historical number “Battle Cry”, a tale of the Battle of Culloden they can claim was theirs way before Braveheart was cool. The first half of the record also contains strong no-nonsense numbers “Waiting for the Night” and “We Came Here to Rock”.

And then things get a bit weird. “You Ain’t No Angel” contains a level of leering lechery unsustainable by anyone but Aerosmith, “Running Hot” is merely forgettable, and the record ends with two ballads, one of the “power” variety and one less so. Stuffed in there as well is the questionable curio “Party Till You Puke”, a Quiet Riot type number with piano by none other than Elton John!*

So yeah, that happened. Rock the Nations is half of a solid record, with a bit of attempted ocean-crossing showing through the cracks. 5 out of 10

The album has definitely made an impression on some, particularly Manowar. I’m not sure what their opinion of its sonic attributes might be, but they did steal the entire cover concept 20 years later:

*If you want to see where Elton’s head was at in this period, have a look here. As for the song itself, it’s harmless fun, and EJ gives it his all. It’s private theory of mine that it was playing in the room where Andrew WK was born.

Deals & Steals: Nuh-Wabbim!

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , on May 22, 2012 by Lightning Slim

This was the cover:

This was the track list:

1. Am I Evil? – Diamond Head
2. Riding With The Angels – Samson
3. My Number – Girl
4. Wheels Of Steel – Saxon
5. C’mon Let’s Go – Girlschool
6. Hellbound – Tygers Of Pan Tang
7. Backs To The Grind – White Spirit
8. Angel Witch – Angel Witch
9. Bloodlust – Venom
10. If I Were King – Vardis
11. Satisfied Then Crucified – Rock Goddess
12. Give ‘Em Hell – Witchfynde
13. Hard Ride – Raven
14. Killing Time – Sweet Savage
15. Lady Of Mars – Dark Star
16. Death Or Glory – Holocaust
17. Captured City – Praying Mantis
18. Down The Road – Bitches Sin
19. Blitzkrieg – Blitzkrieg
20. Name Rank And Serial Number – Fist

The price? $8.00 at Encore Records.

The Bliss? Indescribable.

Album Review – Lacuna Coil “Dark Adrenaline” 2012

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Fans turned off by 2009’s radio-rock effort The Shallow Life will find Lacuna Coil more appropriately po-faced and grim on Dark Adrenaline, which takes the spirit of brevity and focus from that previous record and adds heaviness throughout.

Opener “Trip the Darkness” provides goth with bounce, Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro confidently commanding proceedings with rockstar moxie. Indeed, the whole album successfully blends the dark with the catchy. Scabbia in particular does solid work on “Intoxicated” and “Fire”, the latter a short, Jim Morrison-like mantra destined to cling to the listener’s ear long afterward. Ferro is also an authoritative presence, his accent (previously an issue for some) distinctive without being comical. The much-ballyhooed cover of REM’s “Losing My Religion” neither slavishly apes the original nor butchers it with unnecessary modification, ending up a fitting tribute to a song that really couldn’t get more goth to begin with.

Obligatory mention of Scabbia’s female-ness: Women in hard music have long fought an uphill battle to be taken seriously, often proving their own worst enemy by succumbing to the temptation to trade on image* or celebrate the female voice by stuffing releases with vocal trickery. Dark Adrenaline displays a workmanlike dedication to task that eschews this flashiness and delivers form and function together in a satisfying ride. Highly recommended. 8 out of 10

*The Shallow Life was in part a parody of this very phenomenon, at least visually. It backfired when many found the music itself to be a bit too on-the-nose.

Album Review – Evanescence “Evanescence” 2011

Posted in Album Reviews, FourFiveSix with tags , , , , , on February 9, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  Evanescence, whose name really just constitutes a shorter way of saying “Amy Lee and the Whoevers”, continue to have difficulty recapturing the spirit of Fallen.* Evanescence the record (and aren’t we all a bit suspicious of mid-career self-titles?) plods down the predictable path of ponderous goth rock, a bland concoction of Lilith Fair and nu-metal that’s hard to screw up but even harder to bring to life, so to speak. I want to like this, and I’m not slapping it with a Do Not Buy, but I’m having difficulty finding anything memorable in the risk-free material.

Evanescence, band and album, aren’t horrible, but both do a piss-poor job of justifying their own existence, basically only succeeding at A) extending the lifespan of a fancy Latin word that most folks didn’t know before, and B) acting as a radio-injected gateway drug for bands like Lacuna Coil, who are doing this sort of thing so much better. 5.5 out of 10

*Of course, Lee’s former bandmates haven’t done well on their own, either.

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