Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Omaha's Glam Band, 3D In Your Face and Their Album, Midnight Devils

Is the 80's hair band scene dead? Maybe, but don't tell that to Omaha Nebraska's 3D In Your Face. (Or me for that matter) Sure, you have bands like Steel Panther out there who are very good, talented, and who put on a hell of a show, but they are a parody. They will tell you that themselves. 3D In Your Face is also an extremely talented band, who also puts on one hell of a show. In fact, it may even be a better show than the one Steel Panther delivers. 

They have been around for about 13 years, and they own Omaha, and surrounding areas. They recently played in an arena in front of 5000+ people..and blew the doors off the place. Their members, Alan 'Hot Rod King, Chris 'Sniper' Hineline, Sam 'Spade' Morris, and Jeremy 'THE Playboy' Deans are the real deal. They have a passion for 80's hair metal, and if they had existed back in 1987, they would have been touring 20,000 seat arenas in support of their album, Midnight Devils. And, Poison would be opening for them because while Poison had one hell of a stage show and catchy songs, so does 3D In Your Face. The energy of their shows along with the catchy tunes is complimented with more musical talent than Poison. For example, Hot Rod has the vocal range of some of the legendary screamers in metal. Sniper is in the same neighborhood of legendary guitarists as George Lynch, and even Eddie Van Halen. You can certainly hear the influence in the various songs on the CD.

Hot Rod
The CD, Midnight Devils starts off with a metal anthem, Forbidden City that grabs you by the throat and lets you know just what you are in for as you listen to the rest of the album. Generation Durt is an audience participation anthem that is sure to bring back memories of singing a chorus along with 20,000 other fans in a packed arena with nothing but the drums. The title track, Midnight Devils tells us that our real personality comes out when the sun goes down. Spade even takes a turn on lead vocals on Bleed Betty Bleed. He could easily sing lead vocals for another band, but then 3D would be missing a chunk of the band's energy. He is powered by several Energizer batteries that never seem to lose their charge. Underneath the Stairs tells us that getting dragged to hell by a monster wouldn't be that bad because there's going to be one hell of a party when you get there. And, what would an 80's hair metal album be without a power ballad? Always Brings Me Back fires on all cylinders, and guarantees the ambiance of Bic lighters all over the place when they play it. 

The band put out a very well produced and professional looking video for the song In Your Face; a song where Sniper's Van Halen influence is very much on display. Check it out:

THE Playboy
There are several anthems on the album, all of which could be used to open or close a show, but the last track I Still Believe In Rock N Roll is the finale... the encore. The song the band plays to end the show after the lights go down, and they leave the stage then come back to thunderous applause, along with (I hope) boobie flashing!

  3D In Your Face needs to be grabbed by a record label. With all the '80s bands making resurgence albums that are selling, it would be great to see the genuine act out there on the road as much as possible. The more bands like this that come out and get signed means the more the idiot radio stations will have to take notice -- same with the larger record labels. We are sick of this corporate meat grinding pop that saturates the airwaves, and we are sick of being told that a majority of the people out there like that garbage. It's time to take it back, and send the message that we aren't going to take it anymore and that we still believe in rock and roll. So, buy this album, and sell out their shows when they come to your area. 

On top of being great guys, Sniper and Spade have been guests on the Will and Thunder Show <caching!> twice. Check that out, and buy their album! And, find them on Facebook

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Sign of the Doctors

I've said before that I am a Doctor Who fan. Shortly after watching the final episode of the new episodes season 7, where Matt Smith's doctor regenerates into Peter Capaldi, I made a poster with all 13 Doctor characters...Except, I used an older picture of Capaldi because the BBC hadn't released a poster of what he would look like for the upcoming season. However a month or two later, they did, and I edited my poster.

Capaldi, Smith

It was the first one that anyone had done with all 13. In fact, if you search Google Images for 'Doctor Who All 13' you will find the first one I made with the older image of Capaldi.

I posted a small version of the poster on a forum, and offered that if anyone wanted the full sized version to email me, and I would send it to them. For free. So far, only one person; a guy from Germany has taken me up on it, and I emailed the poster to him. What he did with it was awesome! Below is the poster I made. Its the second one with the official picture of Capaldi as The Doctor. (click the images for a larger view)

 Next, this is the picture of what the guy did with it. He made a very cool looking banner out of it. Its about 15 feet long, and 3.5 feet tall.

Also, check out the banner he made in action at the Fedcon 2014 Sci Fi convention in Germany. He won first place for the construction of all these models. VERY impressive.

The banner makes a nice center piece for his display, don't you think?

Over 5000 people were at the convention. Among them were Alexander Siddig ('The' Doctor Bashir, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) others. Siddig would have made a good Doctor too, I think, but, I also think Capaldi is going to be legendary with the role. I'm sure Siddig and the other celebs thought the banner was cool. ;)

This post is a thank you to my German friend. I'm honored that someone liked my work enough to do something like that with it! And the offer still stands. If you want a full sized copy of my poster, just shoot me a message, and I will email it to you.

 Now, if August would hurry up and get here...I'm growing very impatient waiting for season 8 with Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, just as all the rest of you probably are! Now, if I could just make sure my kidneys were the right color!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Greatest Singer of all Time Is.....Huh???

You LIKE me! You really LIKE me!!!
Sit down, Bruce Dickinson! You too, Geoff Tate! Rob Halford? Where do you think you're going??? You three didn't even make the list!!! And, the award for best singer of all time goes to... <drumroll> AXL ROSE!!!

That's right. The most self absorbed enigma in heavy metal who has ruined his voice due to drugs and cheeseburgers has been voted the greatest singer of all time by the widely respected music travel website, Concert Hotels. Their highly scientific formula has placed Axl Rose over other rock and heavy metal greats (who didn't even make the list) such as Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Bruce Dickinson, Meatloaf, Michael Sweet, Midnight, and John Oliva. 
However, never fear...The site was quick to include such inspiring popular/contemporary "talent" as Justin Bieber, Kurt Kobain, and Iggy Pop as better singers than the other greats. Not to mention the auto tune machine that creates the voices of Miley Cyrus, Lorde, and Katy Perry, and of course the renowned beautiful voice of the legendary singer, Bob Dylan.

For results like these, wash monthly,
and don't repeat!
If the website had any credibility whatsoever, it says that people compared the highest notes by singers hit in the studio. It loses said credibility because  Freddy Mercury is on the list, but Paul McCartney is ahead of him. Paul McCartney has a very good voice, but he was known as much for his high vocal range as Albert Einstein was known for his great hair. That, and Axl is listed ahead of Mariah Carey.

Now, I am not taking anything away from Axl Rose. He HAD a great voice, but trashed it over the years like a few others I could mention. (and have mentioned on this blog) In order for him to be considered one of the best in my opinion, you have to still be able to sing everything you once were able to. Rob Halford believe it or not can still hit everything he did 20 years ago. Bruce Dickinson is even better now than he was 20 years ago. Geoff Tate went through a phase where he had lost it, but he seems to be getting his voice back. (2 years too late?)

Arrgh! Me mateys and me arr here for the booty!!
But over the years, Axl Rose has seized the name Guns N Roses, and had a revolving door of musicians. He took an entire decade to release one album, Chinese Democracy, which has sold around 37 copies to date. He can't keep a band together, and his voice is getting worse as his belly and cheeks get fatter. If I saw Axl in person today, I wouldn't even recognize him. These days, he looks more like an extra in a bad pirate movie than a heavy metal icon. He is literally a bad parody of his former self, and sadly, he is remembered more for his infamous antics on and off stage than as an

Poor Duff, Slash, Steven, and Izzy...They all starved
because of Axl's Appetite!
icon. For example, when James Hetfield of Metallica burned himself onstage, Guns N Roses could have come on and played an amazing show. Instead, Axl felt he had to upstage Hetfield, so he threw a temper tantrum and stormed off stage. The crowd rioted.

So, Axl's voice is a shell of what it used to be, and Axl himself is a (stuffed) shell of what he used to be, yet he still sees himself as the juggernaut band that was around for 7 years or so. Despite that, the people at Concert Hotels think that they have musical credibility with their little poll and top 50 list. It was completely wrong, and all it did was inflate Axl Rose's already critically over inflated ego. Meanwhile, his former GNR band mates released a platinum album with Velvet Revolver.

Of course, the great singers know they are great, and don't need a hotel website to tell them how awesome they are. Axl however probably has that list printed, and hanging on every wall in his house.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Did Steel Panther Drop a Rusty Hairball?

I've been very vocal about giving the great glam metal band, Steel Panther lots of credit for this 80's metal resurgence. They started out playing small clubs as a gimmick, and at first, people came out to laugh at them. Slowly, more and more people started to realize that while Steel Panther was a doing a parody of the 80's decadence, they were also very talented musicians who wrote good songs. Now, Steel Panther is playing arenas, and more than likely living the life they portray on their videos of sex, drugs, and rock and roll...although, maybe not because I just found a picture of them without makeup and wigs while looking for their album cover. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!)

So, as the title suggests, I am wondering if Steel Panther may have gotten a little bit too cocky for their own good. Their current album, All You Can Eat is a depiction of Leonardo Da Vinci's The Last Supper with the singer in the seat that is Jesus's in the painting. The other band members are seated at the table, along with scantily clad groupies ON the table.

Now, I am not going to preach here, although I do find this slightly offensive, and it takes a lot to offend me. And, I am not going to lead a movement to try to get the cover banned. I do not believe in censorship, even when there is something I don't like. I'm not even going to get into whether or not this cover was right or wrong. I am merely asking a the following question: Was this album cover a good idea from a marketing stand point?

In an original song from a band I was in back in the day, there was a bridge that went like this: The baby boomers are now old and gray, Generation X is well on its way. We look to the future, and let out a sigh, the next loser up is Generation WHY! Sure, the song is dated. It was written back in 1998. Generation X is mostly old and gray now, which is exactly my point. Most of Steel Panther's fans are 35 years old, and up. There is a large percentage of their fans who are 34 and younger, but most of their fans would have been rocking out at Steel Panther shows back in the 80's if they had been around then. I know I would have.

None of my album covers mocked God like that!
Now, I'm not talking about ALL of Steel Panther's fans, but I'm sure that a large percentage of them might have been a little ticked off about that album cover. Lots of them have families, and some sort of touch with a church, or belief in God, and are teaching their kids about it too. (Yes, they are also teaching their kids about the great and wonderful music that is heavy metal.) People tend to turn to God when they get older. Its a fact of life. So, right now, Steel Panther's music has never been more popular, and this was by far their most anticipated album to date. So, it doesn't make much sense to me to release an album cover that is so polarizing. I understand wanting shock value. There's nothing wrong with that, but even in the most decadent periods of the 80's you didn't have bands doing things like that unless they were Slayer, Venom, or a band like that. A glam band certainly wouldn't have released that album cover.

One of the more controversial glam bands of the 80's was W.A.S.P. With all the things they did that pissed off Al Gore's wife and the rest of the book burners in the PMRC, they would not have released an album cover that was THAT controversial. Ozzy and Black Sabbath didn't even release album covers that mocked God. (although they did release some that were borderline)

Was the cover as bad of a marketing idea as this?
Will Steel Panther's album crash and burn?
We shall see!
So, back to my question. Was this a good marketing decision? We'll see how the album sales are. Ultimately, its the consumers who will decide the answer to this question. And who knows? I may be completely wrong here. Personally, I don't think it was a good idea to release an album cover that would piss off even one of the fans you already have. Back in the 80's, the shock factor was for parents, pastors, and the anal retentive. The 80's bands certainly came out with lots of different ways to scare the uptight, but I can't think of one that went and did something like this.

Finally, my main point is this: Its one thing to piss off the uptight who isn't going to buy your album anyway. Its another to piss off the people who like you. I like Steel Panther a lot. In fact, Death To All But Metal is one of my favorite songs, and one of the greatest metal anthems of all time. But, as much as I like Steel Panther, I will not be buying All You Can Eat, and I will not be seeing them in concert on this tour.

We will see how many people agree with me. In the meantime, here is Death To All But Metal! CRANK IT UP!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Italian Melodic Metal Masters, Ancient Bards/ Album 'A New Dawn Ending'

Another entry into my series about the great heavy metal coming from Europe, and putting US commercial music to shame. This time, Italy is represented with melodic/symphonic metal band, Ancient Bards, and their album A New Dawn Ending. This is also my first review from this style of music. I'm new to it all together, but bands like Epica, Kamelot, and Nightwish are also on my radar.

They have two other albums, The Alliance of Kings, and Soulless Child, but A New Dawn Ending is the most heavy and epic of the three. Ancient Bards are one of the bigger bands in the region. In the early days, they played many of the enormous heavy metal festivals, which are some of the most amazing experiences on the planet.

Singer, Sara Squadrani has collaborated with members of such bands as Kamelot, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, Dream Theater, and others. The other members could easily be invited to collaborate because the band is very good as a whole. Must be something in the water in Europe that creates so many talented musicians.

Ancient Bard's Drummer, Federico Gatti
Sara Squadrani has a haunting, beautiful, and powerful voice, and is superb on this album. It is a 71 minute epic adventure into another world. Technical progressions, huge choruses, and virtuoso performances from every member of the band. The first song, A Greater Purpose has a speed metal feel, yet a gothic and melodic overtone, and a bass solo that would make Billy Sheehan jealous. Not to mention the perfection in the keyboard performance. Every performance for that matter. It easily be a celebration song in a Lord Of The Rings movie after a decisive victory in an epic battle. The title track, A New Dawn Ending is an epic song that builds in intensity as it progresses. Across this Life is a heavy work of art. I think its my favorite on the album. The band doesn't have a drummer in this song. They have a machine gun on rapid fire. There is another speedster called In The End.

There are a couple songs that feature spoken word intros from Sara. Before The Storm has one about a coming battle, that leads into a keyboard entourage that sounds like theme music for an army marching into battle.

There is also a ballad, In My Arms that features the keyboard, along with a very haunting vocals. Great vocal harmony and all, and a big chorus that compliments this beautiful song. Plus, a guitar solo that blends virtuoso and basic styles to make the perfect accent to the song. Showdown starts off as a ballad, but quickly turns into a blistering speed metal song. 'Machine Gun Gatti' shines in this song too.

Overall, I like this a lot. Like I said, I hadn't heard much from this genre, but if all of it is as good as this band, I can't wait to get started. If you're into great progressive melodic gothic metal, then Ancient Bards is for you. Pick the album up! Although, get their first two as well. There is a continuing story that starts in a previous album, called The Black Crystal Sword Saga!

Ancient Bard's Website, Facebook page
Buy A New Dawn Ending Soulless Child and The Alliance of Kings: The Black Crystal Sword Saga part 1 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

'Shout It Out Loud!' by Christopher Long: A Deafening Book Review

The most interesting man in the world isn't that green bottled beer guy with the beard. Just remember that, and you'll be much better off. No, the most interesting man in the world is none other than Christopher Long, a "washed up rocker dude" from Satellite Beach, FL. What makes him so interesting? Especially because there are so many washed up rockers in the world? (Yours truly included) Its simple. The man has done it all. He may not have done it on the largest stages, but he has been on more types of stages than most...and I'm speaking both metaphorically and literally.

Christopher Long: Fighting The Lord's Battle Plan

In Christopher's second book, C'MON!: My Story of Rock, Ruin, and Revelation, he tells us his life story. I recommend that you get both C'MON! and Shout It Out Loud if you've not read the former. Shout It Out Loud is the Sequel to C'MON!. Its possible to see The Empire Strikes Back without seeing Star Wars, but it will make much more sense if you see Star Wars first. The same applies for these two books, although, there are no earth shattering revelations about Chris's father.

Both books are autobiographical accounts of his life, but the first tells of his time in Rock And Roll bands, both as a performer, fan, and as a road manager. It then gets into how his life changed, and how he became a 'Soldier Under God's Command.' Its a very compelling read, and you will come away from it amazed, when you realize that if Christopher Long can do a 180 degree turn around, despite how driven and dedicated he was to becoming a rock star, anybody can. Although he never achieved stardom, he came very close, and his story is every bit as intense as any rock star's story..Not to mention, its a much more uplifting read.

A photo from a touching story
about Chris's missionary work
The second book, his CURRENT book Shout It Out Loud tells about how his life has changed, and what he has been doing since finding God. If I told you that a man who was onstage singing about a butch lesbian police officer while drinking like a fish would later in life be going on missionary trips to Nicaragua, and ministering to and praying with the impoverished citizens of that third world country, would you believe me?  You should. Its true. He has been to Nicaragua twice now, and has some extremely touching stories about the trips he took. Personally, I think he could write a book strictly about his missionary work, and it would be extremely interesting.

Chris Long: Youth Leader at a retreat, with The Jokers!
(Read the book!)
After his turnaround, Chris was hungry for Christ. He wanted not just to go to church every Sunday. He wanted to be part of something that was bigger than himself, and like I said, he is a very intense person, and when he puts his energy into something, he gives 150%. So, he started off at his church with some very 'humble' jobs." Welcome to the church! Here's a mop!" Chris was glad to oblige. He quickly gained the respect and friendship of the church elders, and he was rewarded with a small position which he excelled in. (I'm sure he did a pretty good job with the floors too.) It wasn't too much longer before he was going on youth group camps, and being invited to go on missionary trips. No more mops, although he would be more than happy to grab one again if it needed to be done. Chris is a madman with a mop!

Chris, with Worship Pastor at his
Church, Chris Johnson. 
That is the basis of the book. The deeper you get into it, you realize just how humble he has become as a result of his relationship with God. And, 'Relationship' is a recurring theme. Its not the religion that God wants. Its the relationship. Religion turns people away, and judges people constantly....which we are told in the bible that might not be the best thing for people to do. Chris is very proud of his relationship with God. He values it more than anything, and it shows in the pages of Shout It Out Loud. He is one of those people who has a captivating personality, and his speaking voice adds intensity to any of his stories. He could tell you the process for making fruit salad, and you'd swear it was the most interesting thing you've heard all month. This intensity is on every page of his book, and his life story is one of the most interesting things I've heard in a long time. It will be for you too.

Now, I get busted for possession? NOW???
So, pick up this book. Shout It Out Loud is a very interesting read, and I'd bet its the most uplifting thing you've read in ages. It has it all. Whether Chris is talking about getting busted at customs for trying to smuggle vitamins into Nicaragua, talking about the kids he works with at the church, or about how God has changed his life from something scary into what it is now, you will feel good reading it. I've known Chris for a very long time, and one thing that hasn't changed about him from then to now is the fact that he will not do anything that he doesn't believe in, and what he does believe in, he gives everything he has. Now, he believes in building his relationship with God, and telling as many people as he can about it. And, he does....Loudly!

East Coast Christian Center, Merritt Island, FL
Looks MUCH different than it did the last time I saw it!

Also, I have to say that reading this book really does make me want to move back to Florida, and join East Coast Christian Center, and grab a mop. Everything he says here is a take on church that you won't hear in most churches, and its really a shame. They all should be shouting the word out loud. This will make people want to come to Christ much more than a man in a suit standing up, and lecturing people about what they are allowed and not allowed to do.

But, don't take my word for it. Take Chris's word for it. Listen to him on the Will and Thunder Show <Caching!> May 13 at 10PM Eastern! Don't miss it! Also, connect with Chris on the links below:

Christopher Long's blog
Facebook Page

Purchase C'MON!: My Story of Rock, Ruin, and Revelation
Purchase Shout It Out Loud!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Swedish Glam Metal Band: 'Confess' and Their Album, 'Jail'

In a recurring theme on this blog, the best music in the world is being made in Europe. It is predominately progressive or power metal, but this band is not. They are genuine glam metal, as in the heavy, driving style of the first two Skid Row albums. However, Sweden's Confess do not sound like Skid Row. They have a style of their own. When Skid Row came out, it was toward the end of glam era. However, there were few bands around other than them who had such raw and gritty power in their music, and complimented by amazing talent. It could have been a new sub genre of glam, but unfortunately, the record companies decided that it was time to let all the people who only knew 3 chords get famous.

But, the music machine across the ocean from the US continued to create great music, and in 2008, a Swedish singer named John Elliot put together this crew of extremely talented metalheads. They began to make demos, and play shows. And, as they did, they quickly gained notoriety wherever they went. They released their first independent EP called 'The Gin Act,'  which was a hot commodity. They toured with the EP for a couple years, then went into the studio to record their debut album with SG Records, Jail.

Drums: Samael, Vocals: John Elliot, Bass: Lucky, Guitar: Denver, Guitar: Bloman
As I mentioned, the band has the heavy style of Skid Row, but has their own sound. Its gritty, raw, and powerful. This is not glam rock in the sense of Poison. Its down and dirty heavy metal, with a hint of punk influence that would scare Poison and Bon Jovi off the tour. The lyrics are raunchy and sometimes mean. They aren't trying to fool anyone with lyrics about being a tender and loving teddy bear. With lines like "Why don't you lay down and die?"  "This is the end of our relationshit," and a seemingly sweet ballad, with the line "Show her love..with a bullet," and titles like Relationshit, Intervention, Cardiac Arrest, and 'Pay Before I Go,' I think you can figure out what they are all about. 

But it wasn't the lyrics that made me dig this band. As an 80's metalhead musician myself, I noticed the talent of the band. The music is great, and Confess are more talented than Poison, and others. There are twin guitar attacks that would make Tipton and Downing smile, along with stout and brutal rhythm that will give you a bloody nose if you look at it the wrong way. Basically, the band is made up of 5 gifted musicians who together make epic music. I can't help but think what a tour with Confess and Skid Row would be like.

Since I can't really say anymore about their talent without sounding redundant, I'll tell you a little about a few of the songs.

First of all, there wasn't a song on the entire album that I didn't like. I bugged the crap out of my wife for 2 days straight blasting this album. I think my favorites are Relationshit, which is a hard driving assault that perfectly sums up the feeling of kicking an unwanted girl to the curb. Scream, is a rhythm section driven song that makes you want to slam into something. I think my favorite song on the album is Pay Before I Go. It could easily be a hit in the US, with its catchy and heavy hooks, and harmony vocals. Setting Sails, I swear I've heard before. It has that type of vibe that makes you believe you've heard it before, even though you haven't. I can't explain it. The song doesn't remind me of anything because the band has their own style, and aren't copying anyone. But, for some reason, it sounds familiar. Cardiac Arrest is simply a badass tune.

This is the announcement that the band released on their website upon the release of their album:
Confess are proud to announce that we've decided to sign our debut album JAIL on SG-Records. This bad assed son of a bitch will be released world wide on the 4th of april and will contain 13 dirty tracks of Swedish hard-ons at its best SPREAD THE NEWS!!!
They were not exaggerating at all.

Here are 2 of their videos: Relationshit and Scream.

Other songs that deserve notice (they all do) are Intervention (Sin and Tonic pt 2) and a cover of Tina Turner's What's Love Got To Do With It? The first is a lesson in progressive metal. The band pulls no punches here, and gives us a heavy metal masterpiece. The second is a very good version of a classic. Honestly, as a metalhead, I like this version better. Lots of bands have done covers of songs that weren't metal. Some are good, some are bad. This one is DAMN good. I never liked the original song much, but I really like Confess's version.

These guys should be playing arenas in the USA!
I could have just posted those 2 videos, and said "Watch this if you like badass glam metal that is sleazy, raunchy, and heavy!" But, that would have been lazy, and I've never been accused of being lazy. But, Confess kicks ass, and there really isn't much more to say about them. If you are an 80's metalhead, grab this album. You will swear it was released during that decade. Even though it wasn't, this band has it right. Sex, drugs, and METAL!!!

I would be ecstatic if this band charted in the US. It would mean that everyone here woke up and remembered what real music was. BUY THIS ALBUM!!!

Amazon Google Play Confess Facebook Page