Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Interview: The Review

I know I've been neglecting both my blog and my readers for a while now. Its because I've been extremely busy with a 60 hour a week job, and trying to get The Will and Thunder Show <caching!> into the mainstream. Its getting there. But, I promise to get at least 1 or 2 blog posts out per month from now on, with more if I can.

Back in June, I wrote about North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un's temper tantrum about the upcoming James Franco and Seth Rogen movie, 'The Interview' and I promised a review about it. And I'm not going to speculate about the conspiracy theories about Sony making all this up for a publicity stunt. I'm also not going to write about our own dictator, 0bama saying that the cyber terrorism was a national threat, then saying in the same breath that Sony "should have called him." I'm also not going to write about how ridiculous he sounds by saying that it was a national threat that he takes seriously, but also says that he would have acted if only Sony had called him.

CIA agents look like her?
What I will write about is the movie. First off, I really enjoyed it. It was a little slow to start with, although there is a bombshell in the beginning that involves a major pop culture icon. Franco is a talk show host, and Rogen is his producer. They get a chance to interview Kim Jong Un, and are visited by the CIA, who give them a mission to kill Un. They accept, and hilarity ensues.

I can see why Un didn't want this movie released, and as of late, the North Korean citizens are demanding to see it. First of all, it portrays Un as a very convincing 'good guy' on the surface, but the truth leaks out along the way. Also, the movie shows in a funny way how the North Korean people are brainwashed into thinking that Un is a god. Franco's character is drinking the Kool-Aid at first, but wakes up. The interview does take place, but not in the way that Un has written it.
There have been lots of comparisons of 'The Interview' and 'Team America: World Police.". Its really apples and oranges. Team America has Kim Jong Il, who was Un's uncle (although he is portrayed as Un's father in The Interview.) Also, Team America is about a national terror threat that turns out to be an alien bug who has possessed Kim Jong Il, along with exposing every stereotype and hypocrisy about American politics and pop culture. The Interview is about assassinating a dictator.

Doesnt he look like an Asian
John Travolta?
I said in the previously mentioned post that I am not a fan of Seth Rogen. I still am not, but I have to admit, he was good in this movie, although its the team of Franco, Rogen, and Randall Park (Kim Jong Un) together who make 'The Interview' so funny. It is definitely a movie that I recommend. Its not going to win any Best Picture awards, but its one of the funnier movies of the year. Plus, every time you watch it, you'll be making a dictator cringe. So, good work, Rogen and Franco. You done good!

JUST WATCH IT! Its available on Google Play

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Album Review: A Sound of Thunder's The Lesser Key of Solomon

Something good coming from Washington DC? Really?

 I wasn't sure I believed it at first. But, the progressive metal band, A Sound of Thunder is just that. And, when the band went on Kickstarter, their loyal fan base delivered to the tune of $23,000 to make their latest album, The Lesser Key of Solomon. And, unlike the other people in DC who make a career of asking for money, these donations went to something incredible. This album is the best thing to come out of DC in...well, ever!

The first thing you notice about A Sound of Thunder (ASoT from here on out) is the incredible artwork on their album covers. The Lesser Key of Solomon for example has a sorceress who has apparently summoned a Cthulhu, named Udoroth which is the first song on the album. The second thing you notice is the amazing voice of  Nina Osegueda. At 5'2", she is about the same height of the legendary Ronnie James Dio. But, her voice is every bit as enormous and incredible as it covers a broad range. She can sing a delicate and soft ballad, and without even taking a breath, belt out a shriek that would make Thor nervous.
Nina Osegueda
ASoT was formed in 2008 by guitarist, Josh Schwartz. A guitar virtuoso in his own right, he belongs in the same conversation with the likes of Al Pitrelli and Marty Friedman, and drummer Chris Haren who also belongs in the conversation with speed metal greats like Dave Lombardo. It took a year to find Nina Osegueda, but once they did, the band took off like bullet train. Although, the bass guitar spot wasn't filled until 2010, they proved that good things come to those who wait. Jesse Keen's arrival solidified the lineup and provided the perfect fit with the talent of the other 3 members.
Josh Schwartz
This album is textbook progressive metal. From its intro, Nexus of Realities, into Udoroth you are grabbed by the throat, and bombarded with intricate guitar riffs, powerful rhythm, and of course, incredible vocals and harmonies. This is one of the most talented bands that I've heard in a long time. The song writing skill of the band is top notch. Fantastic stories like Udoroth and the epic Elijah come to life in your mind's eye, If there was ever a band that needed to release a concept album, ASoT is it. They have the skill to make a great one that would compare to legendary metal concept albums like Operation: Mindcrime, Abigail, and Something Wicked. 

Chris Haren
While this is an epic metal album, it does have some soft moments. The Boy Who Could Fly is an enchanting ballad. Also, Blood from the Mummy's Tomb starts off as a ballad but quickly turns into a metal assault on the senses. Nina Osegueda also channels the late great Midnight of Crimson Glory with a high note that could pierce steel. Also, during the guitar solo, we also hear a music box accompanying Josh Schwartz as he shreds it.

Jesse Keen
Basically, this album is technical progressive bliss, combined with a couple metal anthems like Black Secrets and Master of Pain. If you like prog bands like Kamelot, Epica, and Nightwish, and metal bands like Savatage, Helloween, Priest, and Maiden, then ASoT is right up your alley. I am not saying that they sound like any of these bands because they have their own unique style. 

I have said repeatedly on this blog, and on the Will and Thunder Show <ca-ching!> that all the great metal comes from Europe and Scandinavia. It is refreshing to find one that is every bit as good as the great bands from over seas right here in the good ol' USA. Perhaps there is hope for metal here. So, do yourself a favor and get this album! Buy it from the A Sound of Thunder's Website.

Catch A Sound of Thunder on the Will and Thunder Show September 16 at 7PM Eastern

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dave Mustaine Blasted by Wussies at Metal Injection

Dave Mustaine of Megadeth is a very outspoken person in everything he does. Its part of his personality, and its something you'd expect from the writer of songs like Peace Sells, but Who's Buying. And, one of the things he is most vocal about is politics. And for that, he is a target for anyone who disagrees with what he says. In this case, its the liberal left loonies who couldn't tell you a single line in the constitution.

On a podcast called, Hangar 19, Mustaine went on a rant about the current state of the country. His points were more or less that the country is in the worst shape that it has ever been in, and that anyone with their eyes open could see that. But, leave it to Metal Injection to spin his comments into something that they were not.

Metal Injection, a site where only liberals need apply constantly bashes Ted Nugent, calling him a racist bigot, etc. The usual. While Sweaty Teddy may be a loudmouth, his views on the country are in line with the constitution. As are Dave Mustaine's, and that is what this piece is about. From now on, I will be referring to Metal Injection as simply MI.

On Hangar 19, Mustaine said the following:

"Anybody that watches the news nowadays… I watch the news, I read voraciously, I am a New York Times best-selling author, so obviously I know a little bit about writing and reading, and when you think about what's going on in our world as we know it, especially our nation here, it has totally changed, and it's not the same country that it used to be. It's really a drag, and the gutless people in Congress won't do anything about it. You see what's going on with our borders."
Metal Injection has this picture on their site. Mustaine is
more of a patriot than ANYONE at that rag.
To that, MI rips into him, slamming him for using ghostwriters on his book...something that MANY people do, and I never hear any griping about anyone else using them. In a paragraph that is almost twice as long as what   Mustaine says, all MI does is rip on him personally. They take his spoken FACTS (and yes, they are facts.) and make fun of them similar to the way a child retorts when told something they don't want to hear. Newsflash..There are murderers, thieves, and rapists crossing the border daily, and they are being bused on taxpayer funds to cities all over the US where they are given welfare, etc. That is what Mustaine was talking about on the border. It had nothing to do with Mustaine whining about the government. It was a FACT, and if you researched it, rather than being spoon fed what CNN and MSNBC wants you to believe, you might know it.

MI then moves onto what Mustaine said next, and once again, rather than address what he actually said, MI tears into him for daring to speak against 0bama. Here's Mustaine's quote:
"I live in San Diego, and I can get along peacefully with any nationality and anything like that, because I'm an international rock star, but when it comes down to destroying a country for pandering to lobbyists and stuff like that?! Hum-um. The Supreme Court rules 9-0 against the President overusing his powers? Hello?! In 2008, I said that [President Obama] was gonna be the most divisive president ever, and I was right. He's got the lowest approval ratings in the history of America.
Dave Mustaine said something mean
about 0bamaaaaa!!! WAAAHHH!!!
On that paragraph, MI focuses on the line where he says that in 2008, he said that 0bama would be the most divisive president, and ask if we are supposed to think that he was a Nostradamus or seer. They then babble about Lincoln being more divisive. First of all, MANY people predicted that 0bama would be the most divisive president ever. It wasn't that hard of a thing to call. One line MI ignores is when Mustaine says that the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 against the president overusing his power. Guess what...They DID. TWENTY times so far!! And even overturned a couple of laws that the president enacted unilaterally, bypassing Congress. But, no comment from the peanut gallery MI there.

The final paragraph that MI whines about is this:
"I had the surgery on my neck and I was going to get a doctor's appointment yesterday to get a CT scan, 'cause I've got a pinched nerve, and they said, 'Well, we've gotta apply to see if you can get approval for a CT scan.' And I said, 'You know what?! I'm a freakin' millionaire, and for me to have to go in there and ask somebody to get an X-ray? Shame on you, guys. 'Cause if you're doing this to me, what are you doing to the middle-class, what are you doing to the lower-class people?' I was a poor kid, but that stuff pisses me off. And that's gonna come out in the [next Megadeth] record, trust me!"
And once again, MI ignores Mustaine's point, and tries to smear him personally, saying that he is ranting against the crappy health care system put in by politicians that HE voted for. Seriously, I doubt that Mustaine voted for any politician who was in favor of 0bamacare. But, even if he did, that's not the point. I voted for George W Bush, but I was against his bloated spending, expansion of government, (both of which have been rendered insignificant by the spending and government expansion under 0bama) and the Patriot Act.

Metal Injection gots nuttin to say bout me.
Just because you vote for someone doesn't mean you are mandated to agree with everything they say or do. Mustaine's POINT was that even though he was financially able to pay for any procedure he might need, some government hack was telling him that he had to get permission to get a CT scan. This is something that would have been unheard of 5+ years ago, but now that we have 0bamacare, that is a reality for everyone. Basically, healthcare is screwed. But, MI just twisted his words, making it seem like all Mustaine was doing was flaunting his money. Newsflash, its RAPPERS who do that, but I don't see any condemnation of them for doing it. Why? Most of them are 0bamabots as well, and 0bamabots never call out 0bamabots for anything. 0bamabots that can't name one single accomplishment he has other than getting bin laden, or 0bamacare, which all they say is "free healthcare for the poor!" Ask them for any detail, they get a confused look on their face, then call you a racist.

0bama said that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. That was a lie. I liked my plan, but when 0bamacare was implemented, the cost of it doubled, and I could no longer afford it, so I had to drop it, making myself not only uncovered, but also a criminal under 0bama's laws because its illegal to not have health insurance! I liked my plan just fine, and I was not allowed to keep it...and since I dropped my coverage, I have had 2 spots of skin cancer form on me, and I can't get them treated. Thanks, 0bama. I really wish you'd explain to my face how your shitty law is so great!
Anyway, my point is to illustrate how MI operates. They are in the tank for all things 0bama, and they know nothing about what he is doing. Yet, when someone like Dave Mustaine comes around who DOES know what is going on, they twist his words, call him names, etc rather than listening to what he is saying. And, I predict that even though this is a small blog, if someone at MI reads it, they would be ready to defame me, and trash me in one of their articles....until they get to this paragraph when they realize that I predicted exactly what they wanted to do. Basically, I have just guaranteed that I won't be quoted in their little 0bama cheerleader forum. Whatever.

Basically, I agree with everything Mustaine said. And, the way MI is whining certainly is not metal. Its more like what you would expect to see on some Hollywood rag where all they do is salivate with excitement over which coddled celebrity is marrying which coddled celebrity, or which celebrity is pregnant and worshiping the couple like making babies is something that only celebrities can do. The only thing those rags do other than worship celebrities these days is worship the 0bamas.

...It gives me a migraine headache
Stooping down to Metal Injection's level...
So, Dave Mustaine, keep on kicking ass. Very much looking forward to that next album. Metal Injection, Your Countdown to Extinction is well underway. You want to report metal news, do it. Fire your writers who might as well be writing for an MSNBC blog, and report METAL! Whining about what someone said that you disagree with and calling them names is not metal. Right now, you're acting more like pussies than metalheads. If this is what you want to write about, go cover pop. I'm sure Justin Bieber will give you plenty to cover.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Riseback: Female Fronted Metal from Istanbul

It takes a lot to blow me away musically. A band has to have all of a list of things in order to really leave me awe struck. They are exceptional musical talent, well written and meaningful lyrics, a powerful rhythm section where the bass plays with the drums and not the guitar, skilled guitarist who plays rather than just strumming chords, and last but not least, great vocals and backup vocals. Now, there are many great bands that don't have all of these things I listed. I am not knocking anyone. All I am saying is that its the bands that have all those things are the ones that blow me away. Istanbul, Turkey's Riseback does. The last band prior to Riseback to blow me away like that was Greece's Wardrum. And, Istanbul is not that far from Greece, and I have already contacted Wardrum, and told them that they need to play some shows with Riseback.
Vocals: Riella Eskenazi
From the first song on the self titled album, Riseback owns you. They have a style that is a mix of melodic/progressive/modern metal, with a touch of goth. But, there are classic influences as well. For example, in the guitar, I hear a little bit of heavy Judas Priest influence. Singer, Riella Eskenazi has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. Its pure, yet powerful, and oozes emotion. You feel something when you hear her sing, whether she is singing softly like in Try to Say, or whether she is belting it out like in Fake Numb Face, and Make You Real.
Guitar, Ali safa Uzun 
Speaking of Fake Numb Face and Make You Real, guitarist, Ali safa Uzun makes the statement that he's worthy of being in the same sentence with greats like Glen Tipton, and Jon Schaffer. The guitar in those songs is heavy, fast, and driving. Raw power. All the songs on the album have a heavy drive to them, but those songs are the heaviest.

The lone ballad on the album, Try to Say even thinks its a heavy song. It starts off as a sweet sounding piano ballad, but winds up with some bursts of heavy guitar. Several of the songs have slow sections to them, but Try to Say is the only ballad.
Drums, Onur Acka
All of the songs have a commercial value to them, meaning that even though they show the immense talent of the band, this album could still chart on the US rock charts. The first song, Game Powered has a groove that is catchy, and would even appeal to the non musician. Really, the whole album would apply to the non musician.

Their song, Far away was released on a compilation album in 2011, and Riseback has played several large festivals, including the Headbangers Weekend, where they opened for Overkill, and other big names. They also played the Metal Crowd Open Air Festival. Riseback is also being played on various streams in Europe along with Evanescence, and Lacuna Coil. Also, another compilation is coming out soon that will feature Riseback, and other female fronted bands. They are also working on their second album.

Bass, Koner Mimili
So, they are making a name for themselves in Europe, but I want then big in the US. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that is a recurring theme here. All the great music in the world is coming from Europe, South America, Africa, etc. All the US is putting out is more (C)rap, and cookie cutter pop acts that all sound the same. Don't get me wrong, there are just as many great bands in the US as anywhere else, but the record companies here want nothing to do with it. That needs to change, and I'm doing all I can to help by showcasing what is much more main stream over seas than what we are force fed by the record companies in the US.

Buy Riseback's album.  Follow them on Twitter and Facebook Here is their interview on the Will and Thunder Show. <ca-ching!> And, thanks to Femetalism for sending Riseback my way!

And, check out their video for Make You Real.

And the video for Game Powered

         And by all means, tell your friends about this band!

And, I am in love with Riella. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Album/ Concert Review: Patriotic Rock Band, Madison Rising

I first heard about this band during the Cliven Bundy standoff with the federal government who was trying to orchestrate an illegal land grab. The band went out there, set up and performed for the patriots who had assembled in support of Bundy. I thought that was absolutely cool, and I wanted to learn more about them. So, in learning about them, I discovered they were coming to Fayetteville, NC where I live currently. Nobody comes here!

Madison Rising are America's Most Patriotic Band, and they have played all over the country at patriotic events, military and USO events, NFL Halftime shows, NASCAR events, and have opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Toby Keith, Kansas, Steppenwolf, and others. They have also been on Fox News, The Blaze, and more.

The band are: AJ Larsen on guitar, Dave Bray on vocals, Tom DiPietro on bass, and Sam Fishman on drums

So, we'll start this review off with the show. Madison Rising has been on tour with Concerned Veterans for America. My wife, daughter and I went out July 12 to the Cape Fear Harley Davidson in Fayetteville, where they had a stage, free BBQ, several tents, and no short supply of patriotism. There were veterans of all ages in attendance, along with several speakers including a veteran who had survived the Bataan Death March. All of the speakers were moving, but his was the most emotionally charged because as he spoke, I kept thinking about what he must have endured. This man is a hero, and I would much rather see people like him on TV than the idiots who the dumb masses in this country worship. Another speaker eluded to that when he said "Lebron James? Never heard of her!"

My daughter is the first kid on the left. This was
her first concert, and she loved it. After all the other
kids had left the stage, she stayed there dancing all by
herself, only stopping when we called her over to get
some water...which we did frequently.

Then, in the 100 degree summertime heat, Madison Rising took the stage. They opened with their rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, and brought all the children in the audience to the stage. Singer, Dave Bray handed a folded flag to a kid, who held it up in the air, and all in attendance were either saluting or holding their hands over their hearts. When the song concluded, the band received a huge ovation. Other rocked up patriotic songs were America the Beautiful and God Bless America. They then went into a song from their first album, Right to Bear. I noticed that on all of the songs they played that lots of people were singing along. This band is well known, despite the fact that they will never get any mainstream coverage...unless its someone on MSNBC ridiculing them...But its ok. Bad publicity is still publicity. And, there were more people in attendance at this event in Fayetteville, NC than MSNBC's audience worldwide.

Despite the sweltering heat, the guys in the band still rocked out and put on a high energy performance, and the audience loved every minute of it. I have played many shows in my life, but I have never done an outdoor show in the middle of the day in July. You could tell that after their set, they just wanted to get out of there, back to their hotel, and into the pool, or at very least a nice cold shower. But, the band still stayed until they had greeted every last person who wanted to shake their hands, or get a pic with them.
This is from their show in Wilmington, NC the day before I saw them.
The battleship is the USS North Carolina

So, do yourself a favor and see Madison Rising when you get the chance. If they can put on a great show like they did in Fayetteville, NC in 100 degree heat, imagine what they can do at night, and on a larger stage. I'll definitely be seeing them again the first chance I get.

Now, onto their album, American Hero. It has a theme, and the theme is simply SUPPORT THE TROOPS! Although, it does get into the second amendment with Ready if it Goes There. The album is extremely well produced. At the show I attended, singer Dave Bray said before they played the biker anthem, Open Road that he had to sell his Harley to help pay for the album. Money well spent, because the album sounds great. Madison Rising is a hard rock band, and you could say there is some Creed influence in their music. Some. Not much. This album is guitar lick and groove oriented, and you'll want to CRANK IT! And, I guarantee you won't be sitting still for long.

It opens with their version of the Star Spangled Banner. They take creative liberty with the song to make it sound like a modern rock song, and they did a hell of a job with it. It has a hook that starts with a nice bass lick to open the song, and follows that groove throughout, with building intensity. I mentioned the people ridiculing the band. I looked over the YouTube comments on this, and certain people were criticizing it, saying they ruined the song. I looked over the subscriptions of one of these people, and found 50 Cent, Kanye West, and other rappers. What are they doing listening to rock and criticizing it? They are doing it because the "evil right wingers" like this band. And, speaking of liberties on the song, have you heard some of the hip hop renditions of the Star Spangled Banner? These people have zero room to talk. Not to mention the fact that Madison Rising are the ONLY band that has EVER been granted the honor of playing their version in front of Francis Scott Key's original manuscript. And, when I was at their show, I saw every soldier and veteran there saluting during Madison Rising's rendition. I think I will take soldiers, veterans, and the National Anthem Celebration Foundation's opinion of the song over some programmed hip hop punk's opinion ANY day. Not to mention the fact that singer, Dave Bray is a Navy veteran.

On their first album, there is a song called Hallowed Ground. It is a very emotionally charged song about a soldier dying on the battlefield. Dave Bray was a Navy Corpsman, so there is a very good chance that the song was based something that a wounded Marine said to Bray as he died on the battlefield. (I am not sure, but Navy Corpsman is not a glamorous MOS.) On American Hero, there is Hallowed Ground II, which is the side of the story that you never hear. Not on the news anyway. *Where Was The Media Then? The story of when the family of a fallen soldier gets the news, and the heartbreak that goes along with it. But, be ready to lose it if you're an emotional person. You will. There is great writing ability in this band.

Another song that Madison Rising gets grief about is Come to the Ready, where they mention "reelecting an antichrist." Barack 0bama is not THE Antichrist. Too many people hate him. The Antichrist is said to be someone that everybody will adore. However, he is AN antichrist, which is what the lyrics say. Lets see....He talks down to people who are Christians, and accuses them of "clinging to their bibles and guns" while arming Muslim terrorists, among other things. If the shoe fits...Anyway, the song is kind of a Kid Rock style jam with heavy guitar grooves, with a message about being ready to stand up for the constitution if necessary.

Get both their albums. They are both very good, and its a message that is missing from pop culture. I get that entertainment from the right side of the political spectrum is usually less than spectacular. For example, the movie An American Carol. It was a conservative parody of A Christmas Carol, and while it had its moments, it simply wasn't good. Madison Rising is a very talented rock/ metal band. And, while they aren't shy with their message, (which is refreshing) at least they stand up for what they believe. If that scares people, then so be it. This is the USA, and we are allowed to speak our minds. The difference is that most people on the right LIKE the music of the left, even if it preaches left wing ideology. Queensryche for example. They are one of my favorite bands, but their political message is highly liberal. I know many people who are Bruce Springsteen fans, and he preaches liberal messages at his concerts. Not to mention Bon Jovi, who is a very outspoken liberal and supporter of 0bama, or 99.9% of all actors.

This is for ALL Americans; Not just
those who agree with 0bama
What is my point is all this? My point is that people on the right like and even support liberal artists. But if Madison Rising, Ted Nugent, or any other conservative says anything, and you look at the comments on them, the majority of what you will see are people telling them that they need to shut up, death wishes, or even threats, all coming from liberals. I thought THEY were supposed to be the tolerant ones who made the Voltaire quote: "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" their mantra. Of course, that was back in the 60's and 70's. Now, if they disagree with you, they will smear you, and do everything in their power to ruin you.

That is why I want Madison Rising to succeed. I like their music, their message, and I admire their courage for getting up and standing up for what they believe in, even if it isn't the popular thing to do. Personally, I would rather be at a concert with a bunch of veterans and bikers than a bunch of "enlightened" liberals.

So, now as I climb down off my soap box, let me just say that Madison Rising is a great band, they are better than what is considered mainstream these days, and I will support them whenever I can. You should too!

Buy their albums: American Hero and their self titled first album Star Spangled Banner Single

Here is their social media: Facebook Twitter and their Website
Star Spangled Banner Challenge

Check out Madison Rising 10:00 PM Eastern, August 12, 2014 on the Will and Thunder Show. <Ca-ching!>

You can also catch their music on the soundtrack to Dinesh D'Souza's movie, America: Imagine a World Without Her

....Also, a word to the band...I know that your current tour is winding down, but if you are thinking about adding a rhythm guitarist or a twin lead guitarist who is also a lead singer, and therefore able to do powerful backup vocals, for the future, give me a ring.

*Where Was The Media Then is an awesome song from the band's first album.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Album Review: Judas Priest, Redeemer of Souls

Right off the bat, let me tell you what I think of the post-Painkiller albums just so you know where I am coming from. I liked Jugulator and Demolition, although I acknowledge the fact that they weren't exactly canon. Angel of Retribution was very good, but it seemed rushed. Nostradamus? Not so much. Didn't really care for that one.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's get down to business here. I heard that Judas Priest were hanging up touring, but were going to release another album. I was excited to hear it, and I was optimistic too. I knew that Priest wasn't going to call it a career with Nostradamus being the last album that they put out. Then, I heard that they are going to be touring after all? SWEET!
The Metal God,
Rob Halford
But, what I wasn't expecting was a juggernaut of a metal album. Not only is Redeemer of Souls a very worthy successor to Painkiller in the sense that the music easily represents the next step in the musical evolution of the band's style, it also is easily the band's best sounding album. Period. It is very well produced, and the guitars sound like they were played through a wall of Marshalls, 100 feet tall. The Metal God, Rob Halford's voice is very powerful, and while Redeemer isn't full of the piercing high notes that Angel of Retribution and Painkiller had, he still showcases his vocal range with several very high screams. In fact, we get to hear him go guttural in one song. And to anyone who would say anything negative about Halford's voice, I would tell them (dis)respectfully to go back and keep listening to their auto tuned pop heroes like everyone on the radio these days. I would rather hear someone real over a singing computer any day, and that goes for music too.

Richie Faulkner and Glen Tipton
From the first track on Redeemer of Souls, we are treated to the powerful metal riffs, heavy rhythms, and brutal twin leads that Priest is known for. Guitarists Glen Tipton and newcomer, Richie Faulkner are all over the place with their twin leads, more-so than on any other recent album. There are also several anthem type songs, like Battle Cry. The bass and drum combo of Scott Travis and Ian Hill is solid and heavy as ever, and while there are no drum-gasams like in Painkiller and Machine Man, Scott Travis displays some of his finest drum work. With this album being the little brother of Painkiller, you'd expect to hear some songs that resemble that album, right? Well, the opening track, Dragonaut and title track, Redeemer of Souls could have been on it. But, the whole album really is an evolution.

Ian Hill
We are also introduced to a couple new monsters/ heroes. Dragonaut, and Metalizer. I wonder how they would match up against the formidable Priest characters, Painkiller and Nightcrawler? There is a SyFy Original Movie there somewhere, I'm sure.*
Scott Travis
If this is to be the final chapter in Judas Priest music, then I am okay with it. They will go out with a bang. But, if they decide to do another album, after hearing this one, I say **"Bring it On!" As I mentioned before, I liked all of their most recent albums except for one. I can't say that about other favorites of mine, including Iron Maiden. The fact that since 1990, Priest has taken their time between albums is very likely a reason why. Take Iron Maiden for example. They haven't. In 1990, they released No Prayer for the Dying. Not a very good album by a long shot. Their next albums were Fear of the Dark, X Factor, Virtual XI, Brave New World, Dance of Death, A Matter of Life and Death, and The Final Frontier. That's 2 more than Priest put out, INCLUDING, like Priest, 2 albums with a different singer. Iron Maiden only put out 2 good albums since 1990, and Priest only put out one bad one. Now, I'm as big of a Maiden fan as I am of Priest. They are my number one and two favorite bands. I am only bringing up Maiden for comparison, and not to bash them.

So, go get this album. Whether you are a Priest fan from the beginning, or a newer one, Redeemer of Souls will be sure to make your neck sore from headbanging. I won't say its better than Painkiller, but its easily their best SINCE Painkiller, and easily in the top 5 Priest albums.

Once again, BUY IT!

EDIT: This album debuted at #6 on the US Billboard charts, making this the most successful Priest debut of all time. Amazing, isn't it? And with bands like Black Sabbath, Queensryche, Stryper, The Winery Dogs and others all putting out awesome albums that are debuting in the top 25, I think its safe to say that....METAL IS BACK!!!

*  I have an outline for a movie like that. Contact me if you're in the business and interested.
**Bring it On is the title of a bonus song on the deluxe edition of Redeemer of Souls.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Comcast: Like a Bad Rash...

...That won't go away! Or at least it seemed like it to Ryan Block, who simply wanted to cancel his service with Comcast. He was apparently moving, and was not going to be taking his Comcast service with him. The Comcast customer service operator apparently has other plans. Block doesn't specify whether Comcast is available in his new area, or if he's going to be going with another competitor. But, like he says many times in this phone call, its none of Comcast's business!

Whatever the reason Block wanted to cancel his service, what this operator put Ryan Block through is reprehensible. I can understand a minute of trying to figure out why he no longer wants to be a customer, but Block began recording the call after 10 minutes of prodding, and the rep talking down to him and his wife.

Now, Comcast is in damage control mode, saying that there will be an investigation, and apologizing for the operator's conduct. Of course they are. But, if you've got one operator doing this, and it got recorded, its a pretty safe bet that this was not an isolated incident. Kind of like cockroaches. If you see one, there are hundreds more that you don't see. But you know, personally, I don't think this guy should lose his job. While he was annoying, he was just doing what he was instructed to do. There's no reason for him to fall on the sword so Comcast can make themselves look like the victim.

Personally, I have had issues with Comcast before. For example, I was having internet issues, and I was placed on hold by an automated system for hours before another automated message said they were closed on Saturday. That pissed me off because you'd think that the message could have said that at the beginning of the call.  

This seems eerily familiar. Back in 2006, Vincent Ferrari tried to cancel his AOL account, and experienced something similar. Remember this? And, as we found out then, many people had been through similar experiences, including Opie and Anthony, radio hosts. 

Its ridiculous, and its none of their business why a customer wants to cancel. Maybe a Comcast customer is a football fan who wants to see all the games, so he's going to a satellite provider. Regardless, its not their business! By holding callers hostage like this, its pretty much guaranteeing that they will never consider becoming a customer again. There are many options available these days, and they all pretty much offer the exact same product for the same cost, so if one pisses me off, guess what?? BYE BYE!!!

I am going through an issue with Century Link at the moment. I live in the outskirts of town, so I am told that all I can get is 6 mbps for my internet. BUT, there is a brand new neighborhood a quarter mile from me, and THEY have the fast speeds. Its all bullshit. Century Link simply doesn't want to expand their lines to my street because only about 20 people live on it. I get it. But, the first chance I get, I am dumping Century Link. I already dumped cable from them. I watch TV online through Netflix, Hulu, and others. And, I can watch in High Definition, on my TV. But wait...There's more! I pay CONSIDERABLY less than I would if I had cable. I get to see all the shows you do, I just have to wait a little bit longer than you do. 

If you're going through something like this trying to cancel an account, if you want to have fun with them, just say "cancel the account" over and over and nothing else, or confess to a fictitious murder, or something like that. If you want them to cancel it and be done with it, just tell them that you are recording the call. They will cancel it right away. Or, if you don't want to deal with anything like that, just don't pay the bill. They will cancel you, and you can dispute the past due bill and sue them for lots of money, especially if you tried unsuccessfully to get them to cancel the account. 

Seriously, companies...Don't do that. Don't train your customer service people to be jerks like that. You never know when you're being recorded, and you never know when you are dealing with someone with a big mouth like a blogger (like me) or a radio host (like me) or a news reporter. All it will do is harm your company, and you will have to go into damage control, and likely lose even more customers. And while I'm at it, don't make your employees recite scripts when dealing with customers. That's almost as stupid. Your employees know how to do their jobs, and making them recite scripts makes them sound stupid, and insults the intelligence of your customers. (I am talking to YOU, Public Storage. They are almost as bad when you try to vacate a storage facility.)

So, just do the right thing, and stop this ridiculous practice. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Overlord SR, Power Metal from North Carolina

In the early 80's, Overlord SR (Then known simply as Overlorde) became the first metal band in the state of North Carolina to be signed. They quickly were put onto the Metal Massacre VI compilation album, with their song, Keeper of the Flame. They gained notoriety from that song and a couple others, and toured the nation as supporting acts for bands like Savatage and more. However, they never really got headlining status nationwide. However, they own their hometown of Fayetteville, NC.

Now, fast forward to 2014, they have released a greatest hits album of sorts. Signed to Heavy Forces Records, Medieval Metal Days is a collection of the band's best known material with both the original version and a modernized updated version of the songs. They are also putting the finishing touches on a brand new album, with all new songs. They are shopping record companies, and the new album should be out very soon. Look for reviews of it.

Overlord SR was part of a wave of power metal in the early 80's that included bands like Warlord, Virgin Steele, Jack Starr's Burning Starr, with the most popular being the iconic Manowar. Most of the bands used Dungeons and Dragons style graphics on their album covers, and songs about battles, magic, etc. This genre was very talented, but sadly overlooked due to the popularity of the radio friendly glam bands. Now, the time seems to be right for a reemergence as the genre seems to be gaining traction because of the popularity of bands like Kamelot, Nightwish, and Epica. 

On July 22, 2014, Overlord SR will be on the Will and Thunder Show. <Ca-Ching!>
On July 26, 2014, Overlord SR will be playing at the NC Metal Fest at the Rock Shop Concert Hall in Fayetteville, NC.

Be sure to catch them, contact them via Facebook to buy their album, and keep an eye out for the new album!

Overlord SR's Website, Facebook page, Reverbnation Page

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Top 10 Sci Fi TV Shows

We'll do movies next month. But now, we're talking about the TV series that have not only glued us to our seats, but also withstood the test of time as pure classics or as cult classics. But, we're going to have a simple top 10, regardless of whether or not its a cult classic or a pure classic.

Personally, I have been a Star Wars/ Trek guy all my life. I had seen all of the original Star Trek series and the movies long before Star Trek: The Next Generation came out. I saw the original Star Wars films in the theater too, when they were first released. I had also seen many Sci Fi movies. But, I never got into sci fi TV other than Star Trek and the original V, and Battlestar Galactica until very recently. Yes, I did a lot of catching up.

A tornado was responsible for taking me to a new world.
Sound familiar?
In early 2011, I lived in Chattanooga, TN. During a very dangerous storm that spawned hundreds of tornadoes throughout the region, a tornado hit my place. My satellite dish was broken, and because of the damage to the entire area, they estimated a week before they would be able to fix it. Once the power was restored, I went to Blockbuster, and was there specifically to find TV shows. I decided upon the remake of Battlestar Galactica because I had heard great things about it. I watched the 3 disks that I rented in one day, and had returned them for 3 more later that evening. I was hooked. I didn't even care when the satellite TV company fixed my dish. I didn't watch anything other than Battlestar Galactica until I had finished the series. After that, I decided to watch as many sci fi shows as I could. All of the shows listed in this list with the exception of Star Trek and V, I have seen for the first time since 2011. I have seen every single episode of all these shows except for one of them. And no, these are not just the only ones I've seen. I've seen much more in addition to these. So, enough of my yacking..Lets get on with it!

Number 10: Lexx. A dumb security guard, an assassin, a love slave, and a robot head who is obsessed with the love slave wind up in charge of an enormous bug shaped doomsday weapon, and set off to escape tyranny. But, tyranny follows, especially when you are carrying the living brains of the various tyrants from the past. This is an adult show that doesn't take itself seriously. Its a sci fi comedy that hits on all cylinders. However, it definitely isn't for everyone. NOTE: The first season is 4 full length movies. Just watch the first and fourth movies. The second and third simply are not watchable. The rest of the series? Great! Plus, the show ran 4 seasons, and was not cancelled.

Number 9: The Original V. No, not the remake in 2009. That was getting very good, but it was cancelled on a brutal cliffhanger. No, the original with Marc Singer was a masterpiece. It was scary, and the special effects were excellent for their time. It looked real, and it made you question the mental capacity of those in the human race who would sell out their own kind for a few scraps from an invading dictator's table. It showed the choice that we all would have to make should something like that happen...Fight or be a slave. The Original V was amazing. I've seen it straight through many times, and I could watch it all over again right now without being bored.

Number 8: Babylon 5. The humans picked a fight with a superior enemy. A war breaks out. Humanity is about to be wiped out, but The enemy surrendered on the eve of victory? What the hell? The humans built an outpost in neutral territory for all races to converge and do business, work out treaties, etc. But, there are of course other dangers, both from within and from a distance. Its a show that explores relationships in various species, politics, and religion, all with the threat of war hanging over everyone. The CGI looks cheesy now, but when the series aired, they represented cutting edge CGI. This is a great show that will hook you.

Number 7: Stargate. I am talking about all 3 of the shows that were created as a result of the movie. The gate that transports you to other worlds, and even galaxies using devices that create wormholes. You also get to explore the origins of Earth mythology. 3 shows. SG1, which continued where the movie left off, Atlantis, where humans find the lost city of another galaxy, and meet one of the scariest villains ever shown on screen, and Universe. Humans discover a ship that is programmed on a mission to the end of the universe. A franchise that had 3 shows, 17 20+ episode seasons, and spawned 2 movies? Yeah, this has to be on the list. It would have listed higher, but some of the very early seasons didn't age very well. But, don't let that stop you from watching! You will be addicted!

Number 6: Fringe. A story of parallel universes, one of which has a bronze Statue of Liberty and a World Trade Center, mad scientists, aliens, looming Dystopian future and a secret division of the FBI. You like sci fi suspense? This is your show. Great characters, and stories. Look...If Leonard Nimoy is in it, its gotta be good right? See this one. In fact, see all of the shows listed here.

Number 5: Firefly. It only ran for one season, and its airing was botched, but it was one of the best inaugural seasons of all time. This series hits the ground running, grabs you, and refuses to let go. Its a sci-fi western for lack of a better term. Takes place in the future, where humans have migrated into deep space to escape an oppressive government, and they do what they need to do to stay alive. It has great characters, with development that doesn't take place in most series until the third season or after. It was cancelled, but the fans kept it alive, and a full length feature film was made and released. Considering how great this one season is, if this show had been allowed to continue, it would undoubtedly be the greatest sci fi TV show of all time.

Number 4: Farscape. The story of a present day astronaut who gets sucked into a distant part of space with all sorts of aliens, danger, and humor as well. This series is very well done. The main plot line is that the lead character has wormhole knowledge in his head, put there by aliens. There is a powerful villain who is chasing him from one side of the galaxy to another. This one ran 4 seasons, and was cancelled (stupidly) by SyFy. Like Firefly, the fans rallied, and a mini series was made to tie up the loose ends. A feature Farscape film is in the works as I write this.

Number 3: Battlestar Galactica Remake. The show that got me into sci fi TV shows. Although This is a re imagining of the 1978 series, the main premise is the same. A robotic race annihilates most of humanity except for a rag tag fleet of survivors; the Cylons who hunt the humans relentlessly. It does have several differences though. The Cylons look like people, and the show actually has the mood that the whole universe has been torn apart by a superior enemy. Although there are several nods to the original series, and the general premise is the same, the story is completely new, and the characters are believable. They are flawed like everyone else. The series focuses on human relationships, duty in the face of annihilation, religion and politics. BSG is also super addicting. Since 2011, I've seen it from start to finish 4 times.

Number 2: Star Trek. What can you say? 5 series, 28 20+ episode seasons, 10 movies, and a current reboot that has 2 movies, and new series in the works. Although Star Trek: The Next Generation is hard to watch these days in my opinion. Star Trek has not only influenced future sci fi, it has also influenced lots of technology. This franchise will be along for many generations to come.

And finally, Number One. If Star Trek is Number Two, there can only be one possibility for number one. And, it is none other than Doctor Who. Its the story of a man from another planet. A time lord who travels time and space, experiencing history and the future, doing good, accompanied by human companions. 13 different people have played The Doctor, and the show has been borrowed from on many different sci fi shows and movies. For example, the Borg on Star Trek? Cybermen. There have been 35 seasons, countless movies, spinoff series, etc. It has even survived a 15 year hiatus, and came back and was immediately adopted by a brand new generation of fans. Doctor Who started it all. A madman in a box. Another show that will be around for many generations to come. (Doctor Who is the show I mentioned that I haven't seen every episode, but I am working on it. At the time I write this, I have seen all of the first and second Doctors, over half of the third, some of the fourth, and everything from the ninth, tenth, and eleventh, and am eagerly awaiting the 12th Doctor next month.)

So, there you have it. My top 10. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know! Some great shows that I am currently watching or that didn't make the list are Falling Skies, Continuum, and while it may not be sci fi, The Last Ship is a pretty damn good show so far.