Thursday, October 29, 2015

Album Review- Stryper: Fallen

"You were cast down to the ground, 
exposed before the kings 
Deceiver of the world, you know 
you'll always be the great pretender"

Stryper was one of the first bands I ever saw in concert back in the 80s. They were also influences on my both musically and vocally. Michael Sweet and Oz Fox make up one of the most under rated guitar duos, and the vocal harmony has always been stellar. I liked every album they released a lot, with my favorite being Soldiers Under Command, least favorite being In God We Trust and Murder By Pride. That being said, their previous album, No More Hell To Pay was the best Stryper album since Against The Law. Could they do it again and top NMHTP? Read on. We'll find out.

Right off the bat, Fallen is easily the heaviest Stryper album. It also features some of the most intense vocals by Michael Sweet, for example, in the title track. He still has a completely intact vocal range, but he has gotten intense with rasp in the high notes as well. Its intentional. The guitar here is crunchy, and groove oriented. I can't really compare this to any other albums because it really doesn't sound like any other Stryper album. When the band released Yahweh as a single, I remember thinking that was the best song since Soldiers Under Command. The song Heaven does have the classic Stryper vibe to it, and its kind of a slow jam. Love You Like I Do has a very bold 80's metal feel to it, with its big harmony vocal chorus and build up guitar solo. Its good. All Over Again is a ballad that ranks up with their best. It has a powerful chorus with backup vocal harmony under the lead vocals, and a harmony guitar solo as well.

There is one cover tune on this album. Its After Forever by Black Sabbath. As usual, Stryper does great covers, and this one would make Sabbath proud. The rhythm section of Robert Sweet and Tim Gaines are thunder on this one.

Till I Get What I Need is a very upbeat tune that rocks. Guitar licks throughout the song, blazing guitar solos. You get what you need with this song...Well, the whole album for that matter. On Let There Be Light, alternate title could be Let There Be Metal. Because there is metal, and I saw and heard that it was good. Same with The Calling, and King of Kings. Its all there.

The lyrical content on Fallen is among the most powerful they have done. Obviously, the title track is about Lucifer's expulsion from Heaven. They also have some very choice words for Hollywood in Big Screen Lies. Since I'm no fan of actors and their pretentious attitudes, I enjoyed that one a lot.

You've got to love how they portray Christianity
Just a freak another fool for the world to see
Twisting and distorting all, making money too
Mocking every thing that's said, they don't have a clue - no!

Stryper is not afraid to speak their minds. I've seen more powerful and bold lyrics from them than from other christian bands that are not mainstream, and play shows at churches. Its amazing, especially because Stryper doesn't even consider themselves a Christian band.

So, I had asked the question, could Stryper top NMHTP? The answer is YES. This album is the best Stryper album since To Hell With The Devil. It also fits well with all the other great albums that have been released this year by bands like Iron Maiden, Queensryche, The Winery Dogs, etc. Great job, guys...I'm going to wear this one out.

Its available wherever you buy CDs. Amazon, ITUNES, Best Buy, etc. Get it. Get it now. Fallen is an amazing work of art. 

Album Review, Randy Chapman: All Men Are Created Evil

Once again, guitar wizard, Randy Chapman has gone into the studio and knocked out a full length album all by himself. It doesn't happen very often, and when it does happen, its rarely anything spectacular. Randy has knocked the ball out of the park.

I have the honor to once again review the new album from my friend, Randy Chapman. His new album, All Men Are Created Evil is coming out next month. This new one is his best sounding one yet. Its well produced, and has dark energy. It rocks hard, and is powerful. His greatness as a musician and song writer is very much on display.

It starts off with Good Mourning (Not Dead Yet) which is a fast driving punkish anthem that breaks the bad news to a person's rivals. "I'm not done thwarting you yet!" The next two songs, Soul Stealer and Skeletons in the Closet are slow but heavy grooves that creep up on you and plow into your psyche and won't let go.

Candle in the Dark is a great ballad that has the feeling and emotion you'd expect from a ballad done by a heavy metal master like Randy. Its guitar is deep and soulful and the guitar solo is sweet. His vocals mesh with the song perfectly,

But, you aren't going to be let off the hook for long. Black Widow is a brutal assault on the senses, and I think it may be about my ex wife. Good Die Young is a mixture of heavy and acoustic. Its chorus taunts you, and the guitar solo comes in for its own session of ass kicking. In keeping with the theme of Black Widow, Disposable Girl comes in with harsh guitar and harsher words for women that are living with their heads in the clouds, thinking everyone owes them something. We've all had one or two of them, right? It really says what we'd all love to say to women like that.

Randy Chapman

Randy really pulls out all the stops on the album. August Moon is a classical guitar instrumental that sets the mood for the next song, Spellbound. An upbeat ballad that hits hard, and deals with an obsessive relationship. The Devil Made Me Do It continues with the slow and dark mood, but knocks it down an octave. It starts with an ominous deep acoustic track, with Randy's vocals as a deep growl. That leads into Sweet Addiction, which starts with a minor scale acoustic intro, then blasts into a heavy riff, then back into the acoustic. Its a creepy song about the demons people face with addiction.

I saved Haunted for last. Its the only song on the album that isn't 100% Randy Chapman. It also features the guest vocals of the lovely Laura Moore, who also sang Ghost on Randy's previous album, Cursed.  Like Ghost, this is a cheerful and pretty song...A change of pace for Randy, but its every bit as good as the darker tunes on the album. Laura sings like a songbird in this tune, and she shows why Randy invited her back to record again. Randy sings a verse, then Laura sings one, then they sing the chorus together in harmony,
Laura Moore

This album is a little less heavy and a little more gritty than Randy's previous albums, and when I say gritty, I mean that there are more songs with creepy overtones, and slow crunching licks. Its a must have for any guitar enthusiast because most would aspire to be as good as Randy. Its found a spot on my cell phone, that's for sure.

So, pick it up when it comes out around the first couple weeks of November. There aren't any purchase links at this point, but follow Randy's social media for updates:

Facebook: RChapman
Twitter: @Rrcha2550123
Soundcloud: Randy Chapman
ReverbNation: RandyDChapman

Monday, October 26, 2015

Miami Dolphins: New Coach + Winning Attitude= WINS!

My coach can beat
up your coach!

When the 2015 football season started, Miami Dolphins fans had extremely high hopes. Many sportswriters were picking them to go deep in the playoffs after off season acquisitions of skill players like Cameron Jordan, Greg Jennings, and Ndamukong Suh. With all the talent already on the team, with players like Jarvis Landry, and Ryan Tannehill ready to make the step from good players into gamebreakers, the stage seemed to be set for a dream season that Phins fans had been waiting for years to witness. 

Then, reality set in after an extremely lackluster showing in a win over the Washington Redskins. Fans were disappointed, but gave them a pass, assuming that the team just started slow, and they would come in and dominate the Jacksonville Jaguars the following week. That didn't happen. The Dolphins lost to Jacksonville. Then, for the home opener, they lost badly to the Buffalo Bills, and lost again in an even more abysmal performance against the New York Jets. The Miami Dolphins were 1-3, and would have been 0-4 had it not been for a lucky punt return against the Redskins courtesy of Jarvis Landry. To make matters worse, they were 0-2 in the AFC East, and the fans were demanding answers. And action.

Head Coach, Joe Philbin entered the season on the hot seat. This was a do or die season for him, and he certainly wasn't doing it. Neither was defensive coordinator, Kevin Coyle. Both were fired following the debacle against the Jets, and rightfully so. There was NO excuse for the pathetic look that the team was showing with all the talent on the roster.

So, Tight End Coach, Dan Campbell was named interim head coach. He immediately started talking about a change in attitude. High intensity practices with competition. He was saying all the right things, and Dolphins fans were cautiously optimistic once again. 

The Dolphins had a much needed bye week after the Jets loss, and the next opponent up was the Tennessee Titans. Everyone knew that the Titans were not a good team, and if Miami played a decent game, they should win. And, if the Dolphins players bought into Campbell's ideas, this should be a lopsided blowout win for the Dolphins. It was. 38-10. The Titans never knew what hit them. Cameron Wake had 4 sacks, and Dan Campbell got a Gatorade bath at the end of the game. The team looked energized, and were definitely playing with passion. 

The following week, the Houston Texans came to town. Another sub 500 team, but this was a team had a history with Miami. The Miami Dolphins had NEVER beaten the Texans. But, another dominant performance ensued. Going into halftime, the score was 41-0, a franchise record. Jarvis Landry and Lamar Miller both had two long touchdowns. Reshad Jones had a second pick six in 2 weeks. Ndamukong Suh came alive with 2 sacks, and Cameron Wake got 2 more. Ryan Tannehill set an NFL record for most consecutive completed passes, with 25. Not to mention finishing with a perfect passer rating. During the second half, Campbell rested starters due to the upcoming Thursday night game against the Patriots, and the Texans put 26 points on the board. The final score was 44-26.

So, under Coach Campbell, the Miami Dolphins are 2-0 and are back in the post season hunt with a record of 3-3. They are re-energized, and playing with passion. In 2 games, they have scored 82 points. In the first 4 games, they only scored 65 points. Let that sink in a bit. Under Philbin, they looked lazy and clueless. Under Campbell, they are focused, intense, fast, accurate, and powerful.

So, here we are. The Dolphins are the most improved team in the NFL, and while they have everyone's attention, they still have a long way to go. But, its one step at a time. Sure, the Titans and Texans aren't powerhouse teams, the Dolphins beat them the way any elite team would have. In fact, none of the elite teams have put up 41 points in a half this year. The next step comes this Thursday when they go to Foxboro to play the Patriots. You could say that is a first real test, but in my opinion, every game from here on out is a test. Sure, they might lose Thursday, but they might win too. Miami has won 2 of the last 3 games vs the Patriots, and the 2 teams usually split. So as much as I would love to see a win Thursday, I'm not going to get my heart broken if they don't win. Personally, I think they will win. They are firing on all cylinders and playing they way they were supposed to be playing. If Campbell had been the coach from week one, the Dolphins would be 6-0 right now. Also, if Philbin had been the coach, Miami likely would have lost the last 2 games. That's all the difference. The players are buying into what Campbell is preaching, and it shows. They trust him, and are willing to do whatever is needed because they believe in him. Campbell believes in the players too. 

Its a special time to be a Miami Dolphins fan. While Dan Campbell is the interim head coach, he has the rest of the season to use as an audition to be the actual head coach. The fans love him too, and it was evident at the Texans game which Campbell dubbed 'The real home opener.' As backup QB Matt Moore ran the Victory Formation, the fans were voicing their opinion of the coach. Deafening chants "CAMPBELL! CAMPBELL! CAMPBELL!" filled the stadium, and you could definitely tell that he has won the hearts of not only the players, but the fans too. Great things are coming for this team, and I am looking forward to a long and successful tenure of Dan Campbell as head coach of the Miami Dolphins

Welcome to the team, Coach!

PS: My coach can not only beat up your coach, he can probably beat up some of your LINEBACKERS!

PPS: Yeah, I know. I spoke too soon. Welcome to a day in the life of a Dolphins fan. #$%^&*%$!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Versus: Doctor Love vs Captain Love

In the left corner, Captain Love by The Winery Dogs!
In the right corner, Calling Doctor Love by Kiss!
Touch gloves and come out fighting!

That's right, folks...Its the battle of the century. Its a classic bout that features a new talent that has been gaining lots of attention, even being called 'the best band on the planet.' The Winery Dogs have been on a major 'hot streak' since their debut on the scene in 2013, and have been blowing audiences away world wide with their skill, and precision, and musically incredible songs. Both musicians and non musicians alike have been dazzled by their incredible music, but simple concerts.

The other competitor in this matchup for the ages, of course is Kiss. The seasoned veterans who are undefeated. Their concerts are anything but simple, and they may be the most extravagant concerts of all time, featuring pyro, moving stages, blood spitting and guitar smashing. They have millions of dedicated fans, and more merchandise than a Walmart distribution center. They also have a long list of hits.

So, we have the introductions out of the way, lets get to the meat of this matchup. They both have songs billing themselves as an expert at love. We are going to find out which Love expert is on top, and can be declared the undisputed KING of Love. 

The Winery Dogs have a simple concert
with incredibly genius music
Kiss has an incredibly genius concert
with simple music
One thing right off the bat that Kiss has as an advantage is that Calling Doctor Love is an all time classic hit, while Captain Love by The Winery Dogs is a brand new song. So, you might have to call Captain Love an 'underdog.' But, that doesn't matter. Every underdog has a chance to win. That's why we have the fight! 

Both songs have a basic strummed chord rhythm, however Captain Love does have elaborate solo sections. Captain Love strikes first with that jab. A right hook right off Doctor Love's jaw. And Kiss's fans aren't happy about that. But, Doctor Love fires back with its lyrics. Kiss has all the confidence in the world as he is telling his conquest date that he possesses the ability to really rock her world. 

You need my love baby, oh so bad
You're not the only one I've ever had
And if I say I wanna set you free
Don't you know you'll be in misery

Captain Love is caught off guard by that onslaught, and gets his gloves up in a defensive stance. However, he regains his composure and battles back, but Doctor Love is ready for him. An equal amount of confidence from The Captain as he successfully seduces his date. 

Another lost cause
She's messing with a lot of things
She wants the applause
She's gonna give up everything... off we go
Into the wild and dangerous side
Been through a lot of pain... help
Another lost cause
She's messing with a lot of things, a lot of things and now she turns it up!

Doctor Love quickly counters, telling Captain Love that everyone knows that HE is in fact, the Doctor of Love. That's what they call him. She needs his cure, and he's ready to administer it! Captain Love is stunned by that left hook. Doctor Love continues his onslaught, being bold, telling her to get on her knees and get ready for the first step of the cure, which is a kiss. Captain Love holds his own with stellar defense though.

So if you please get on your knees
There are no bills, there are no fees
Baby, I know what your problem is
The first step of the cure is a kiss

Suddenly, Captain Love surges back to life, with an assault of his own. Left and right hooks over and over. Captain Love already has his date in bed, and are already going at it. Doctor Love is still trying to get his date to kiss him. All the confidence in the world, but he hasn't even touched his date. Captain Love drives this point home. The younger, 45 year old Captain Love is too much for Doctor Love. The Captain may be 45, but he is 18 in the clutch! And, he is clearly in the clutch as he pummels Doctor Love relentlessly. 

All night, we breakin' off
That's why, she calling captain love
I'm forty five but I'm 18 in the clutch
Woman, who you callin'? Captain love

Yea, I'll be your captain, we can't slow this thing down
She'll make your jaw drop
Despise the fashion but you wear the shoes
Don't let your heart stop
You'll be ready once you pay your dues
Into the wild and dangerous side
Where there's no one to blame
Another lost cause
We're messing with a lot of things, a lot of things and now we turning up!

That round of attacks proves too much for Doctor Love, and he falls to the mat. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10! Its OVER! Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner of the fight by knockout and undisputed King of Love is Captain Love!!!!! The Winery Dogs fans world wide are cheering. Kiss fans, disappointed know that it was a good fight, and that Kiss will fight another day. 

Thanks for joining us tonight for this epic battle of rock and roll heavyweights!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Album Review: A Sound of Thunder, Tales From the Deadside

"When the clock strikes midnight
and you hear the bell toll...."

Once again, something great has come out of our nation's capital. But, it isn't a policy that would do something good for the country. Its a badass band called A Sound of Thunder; a female fronted, wickedly awesome prog metal band from Washington DC that has just released a concept album masterpiece. Their album, Tales From the Deadside is based on the Valient Entertainment  comic Shadowman. The cover is Shadowman's nemesis, Master Darque. The band launched a successful Kickstarter campain to fund this album, and they believe it is their best album to date. And, that's saying a lot because the last album I reviewed for them was extremely stellar. 

Really, to say that any one song in particular has great guitar, bass, drums, and vocals would be a bit redundant. The band is extremely talented, and it shows in every song. Josh Schwartz is a guitar god. Nina Osegueda is a 5'2" powder keg of vocal ability that explodes in every song. She can sing like a songbird...A songbird that can sing a sweet lullaby, then in an instant, mutates into a Godzilla sized monster that screams like a banshee. Looks are definitely deceiving in her case. The rhythm section of Jesse Keen on bass, and Chris Haren on drums sound like one instrument...One powerful instrument that could be compared to Thor's Hammer.

A Sound of Thunder: Jesse Keen, Chris Haren, Nina Osegueda, Josh Schwartz

The songs on the album begin with quotes from the Shadowman comics about what the story's hero and villain are doing. I'm a bit down on concept albums. There are many that are done, but only a few that are done well. Tales From the Deadside is done VERY well. The story is easy to follow, and the music flows as easily as the story. It opens with Children of the Dark, which is a hard driving groove. A great selection to open the album. All the songs on the album are title track worthy, meaning that there are no filler songs. Really, this album has everything. From the driving metal skull crushers like track 4, Deadside and track 9, Tremble to the progressive flow of harmony guitar and vocals of track 6, Losing Control, to the roller coaster ride of saxy jazz, metal, and speak easy type playful vocals on track 7, Punk Mambo. That song is incredible. And, what would a concept album story that takes place in New Orleans be without jazz? Not sure who played the saxophone, but that person is very good. 

All styles of heavy metal are represented, and represented very well. Even the heavy groove aspect in track 8, Alyssa (Life in Shadows)  and, the dark, slow, deep and creepy Black Sabbath style in track 10, End of Times. But, it all has the sound and style that is uniquely A Sound of Thunder.

You owe it to yourself to grab this album. Its nothing short of spectacular. Josh Schwartz is right. Best album yet. And, A Sound of Thunder has outdone themselves with each new album, so I think my head might melt if they are able to top this one. 

And one last thing...If someone makes a Shadowman movie, this album had BETTER be the soundtrack.

The band is touring extensively, so be sure to catch them then they come your way. And pick up Tales From the Deadside on Amazon, Google Play, or wherever you buy music.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Album Review- Chastain: We Bleed Metal

"We will sacrifice and we will pay 
the price cause WE BLEED METAL!"  

David T Chastain, a guitar shredder who took the metal scene by storm in the 80's, along with Leather Leone, one of the pioneers of the female fronted power metal band format is back with the band's second release in 2 years. Chastain's new album, We Bleed Metal is an all out assault on the senses, and the band makes no apology for doing what needs to be done, especially in this day and age, which is to punch you in the stomach with everything power metal brings to the table, which is blistering and heavy guitar licks and solos, colossal bass and drums, intricate musical scoring, and piercing and powerful vocals.

This is the sixth Chastain album with Leather Leone on vocals. The first four, and the 2013 released Surrender to No One, and of course this new metal masterpiece, We Bleed Metal. In fact, three of the four members are original members. David T Chastain on guitars, Leather Leone on vocals, Mike Skimmerhorn on bass, and new arrival, Stian Kristofferson on drums. And, they deliver in a big way. 

We Bleed Metal is not a return to classic form. Its of course, the musical genius that everyone expects from a guitar god, but its also modern, meaning that a tour with a band like Disturbed would be a good fit. Although the younger fans of the new band would walk away with an education on how metal is supposed to be. I think they'd dig it too!

Every song on this album is brutal. The drums sound like bombs going off, with thundering double bass. Specifically in track 7, Evolution of Terror. Play this song loudly in the Middle East, and ISIS terrorists would surrender immediately. They would think they were being carpet bombed by invisible bombs, and with Leather's voice on top of it, they would learn to fear women really fast. 

The guitar work, what can I say? It SHREDS. David T Chastain deserves to be (and is) in the same paragraph with greats such as Paul Gilbert, Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman, etc. His ability is on full display on every track. Whether blazing fast, slowly crunching, or acoustic, Chastain puts on a guitar clinic. For example, track 6, I Am A Warrior starts off with a classic 12 string acoustic intro, then slams into an audio blitzkrieg. Track 8, The Last Ones Alive does the same, although Leather sings over the acoustic intro, and she leads us into the song with a powerful note when the assault begins.

Speaking of Leather Leone's voice, its powerful, gritty, dirty, and high. She has an incredible voice. I mentioned earlier that she was one of the pioneers of female fronted power metal. It was people like she and Doro Pesch of Warlock who first proved that women could get up there and scream with the best of the men of the era. They paved the way for the many female fronted power metal and progressive bands that are popular today.

The lyrics on We Bleed Metal are dark, and relevant to the woes of today's society as it spirals down the toilet faster and faster as the weeks go by. Songs about the collapse of the financial system, religious fanatics, war, and all out apocalypse. The only thing different than what 80's bands wrote about and what these lyrics are about is that now, the tragic and terrifying things are actually happening. It gives you a chill when you think about it. If the Doomsday Clock was at 2 Minutes 2 Midnight in the mid 80's, we must be about 15 seconds to midnight with all the garbage happening in the world now. 

Stian Kristofferson, Leather Leone, Mike Skimmerhorn, David T Chastain

This album delivers on all fronts. It is a dictionary perfect representation of what a power metal album should be. Guitarists and all musicians will love this. The rhythm section of the bass and drums has the power of a battering ram, and the guitar is spectacular. The vocals are perfect, as Leather Leone still has all the power in her voice that she had in the 80's. She hasn't lost a single note from her range. In fact, she may have added a couple. David T Chastain has said that this may be his most "Shredtastic" album since the late 80's, and that is saying a lot. 

Wrapping up, the title track, We Bleed Metal is a heavy metal anthem that speaks about the brotherhood of metalheads. It speaks about society's stigma towards metal, and how we as metalheads struggle with it day to day. But, in the end, there are no fans of any other genre of music that are as deeply passionate about it as metal fans are. Its true. We all really do bleed metal. I've said it a million times that if Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, all the other classical music composers were alive today, they would be metal musicians. And, they would likely be good friends with David T Chastain.

The album releases on November 6, 2015. So, be watching out for it on Amazon, Google Play, or wherever you buy your music. 

Also, don't miss it. Leather Leone will be on the Will and Thunder Show as our guest on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 9PM Eastern. Click here for the listen link.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Album Review: The Winery Dogs, Hot Streak

I'm off the edge and now 
I'm somewhere in oblivion

I have to admit. The Winery Dogs debut album is one of my favorite new albums to date. I still listen to it a couple times a week. In fact, I've listened to it once since their sophomore album, Hot Streak was released. So, naturally, I was concerned. Could the band equal or surpass one of the greatest debut albums I've ever heard?  Well, the band produced the album themselves, which is fine because Billy Sheehan, Mike Portnoy, and Richie Kotzen are extremely capable in that aspect. Then, hearing the single for Oblivion certainly made me lean toward a yes answer to my question. Also, the album opened on Billboard at #5 in rock albums, #27 overall.

The band seemed to be firing on all cylinders on that badass song, so I was getting excited. October 2 rolled around, and I got my digital copy, and started jamming. Hot Streak is a little more on the musical diverse side than the debut, meaning the band has expanded their style. For example, the song, Captain Love has more of a straight forward groove, where the hooks are strummed rather than picked out. Its cool! In fact everything about The Winery Dogs is cool, but you already knew that. There are a couple great ballads like Fire. Think it Over has a nice soul groove that will make you feel good. 

The band continues their incredible fusion of rock, blues, jazz, and whatever else they wanted to put into it. They took chances, and it paid off. Why? Because as incredible as the debut was, nobody wanted a clone of the first album. For example, The Bridge and The Devil You Know have some heavier grooves than you might have expected, but its still trademark Winery Dogs. There are several songs that would have fit on the debut like Oblivion, and Spiral, which is a slower groove that has an incredible bass line. The Lamb has one of the coolest bass/guitar solos I've ever heard.

Another thing that is similar to the debut is that you can listen to it repeatedly, and still hear things you didn't catch previously. Whether its a subtle guitar run, bass run, drum fill, or vocal harmony. While Sheehan and Portnoy are virtuoso in their own right, Richie Kotzen is a guitar, vocal, and musical genius all his own. Its simply sensory overload on the awesomeness of the music and talent.

You need to see The Winery Dogs in concert!
Overall, Hot Streak is a more grown up album than the debut, which you would expect since they have had more time to gel and get to know each other musically. You can hear that flows a little better, and that's likely due to more collaboration among the band members. You can definitely say they 'upped the ante' on Hot Streak. I'm not going to say which album I like better because I can't. I'd say they are equal on the likability scale. Musically, Hot Streak has the edge because of the different directions they took on it. So, I asked earlier if they could they do it again. The answer is Hell Yeah. I'll probably be still jamming this one regularly when their third album comes out. The Winery Dogs music from BOTH albums makes you feel good, and while ridiculously talented, its still fun for the non musician to listen to. That's why they are one of the top rock acts out right now.

So, pick Hot Streak up! Its on Amazon, ITunes, Google Play, Best Buy, FYE, and wherever else you can get music!

And, make sure you see them in concert when they come your way.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Guest Writer, Zoe Federoff of Insatia Shares Inspiration of Defeating Domestic Violence Mental Trauma

Meet Zoe Federoff of the
Prog Metal band, Insatia
Hi..This is Will here. I have opened my blog for guest writers, and I saw a story from my friend, Zoe Federoff of the band, Insatia on Facebook. She and her band are past and future guests of our show. We love Zoe and Insatia, and you will too. I read her post, and it was very moving and inspiring. I reached out to her to be my first guest writer here on this blog, and she agreed. I invite you all to read her story about her victory over an abusive relationship, and the grip it can have on the victim. She did it, and she has her grandmother to thank for it. Her grandmother unlocked Zoe's strength. This is an incredible and inspiring story, and I enjoyed reading it immensely. I know you will too. The rest of this is Zoe in her own words. 

Take it away, Zoe!

Despite being a very young newcomer to the metal scene, people often tell me I have a fearless attitude on stage. I never get nervous about the crowd. (Unless my drummer has pulled an all-nighter, but that's another story…) From my very first real show with my band, opening for Sonata Arctica last year, I have felt no apprehension. Just freedom, an indescribable high when I get to hold a mic and share a message with my metal family.

Where did my fearlessness come from?

When my grandparents were serving in the Peace Corp, their assignment was post-Soviet Bulgaria. This was 1995; there were more remnants of the USSR than just the rubble of a fallen wall in Berlin. There was the rubble of broken, beaten down hearts still clinging to fear and suspicion towards the west. People did not know how to live freely, with smiles on their faces and a dance in their step. The Bulgarians said that if you looked too happy, you were asking for trouble- because happy people were always "up to something." The only way to be safe was to be "normal."

My grandparents were the epitome of classic era America, especially my vivacious, red haired grandmother with bright green eyes and a ready laugh. She was a product of the 50's, and no one was more out of place in somber, solemn Bulgaria than her. She turned heads and frightened people with her independence, spunk, and liveliness. One of the most outrageous things she did while she was over there started off quite innocently, with her and my grandfather purchasing a pumpkin at the market and carrying it home.

My grandmother's teaching partner, a Bulgarian woman, stopped her.

"Why are you carrying a pumpkin? You don't have any animals. Only livestock eat pumpkins."

My grandmother was taken aback. "I'm making pumpkin bread. It's very common in America, warm and spicy. I'll make some for you too."

The woman frowned. "No." She insisted firmly. "You cannot do this."

My grandmother, who had never in her adult life allowed anyone to tell her she couldn't do something, looked at the woman in disbelief. "I am going to make pumpkin bread. You are welcome to try some." Then she continued on her way back to their apartment.

Now my grandmother didn't settle for simply making pumpkin bread, she wanted to make a point. The Bulgarians around her were so tied up in certain ways of doing things, rigid rules to follow at all costs, that she wanted to give them a taste of freedom, not just pumpkin. Freedom from the fear that had written their lives for them for decades under soviet rule. And she did it quite simply, by making bread out of an object they were told was not fit for human consumption.

It was a small protest against fear, but a protest nonetheless that garnered a fair amount of attention the next day at the school she taught for, when 24 muffins appeared on a plate in the staff lounge with the words "Pumpkin muffins" written on a card beside them. My grandmother peaked into the lounge every so often to see what people were making of the muffins. A small crowd circled the muffins hesitantly, leaning in to examine them, and whispering to each other as if someone had left "arsenic muffins" or "octopus muffins" in the lounge instead. Finally a few people picked up some muffins, tried them, and went to my grandmother's teaching partner. They told her "Please ask Kay Federoff to share the recipe for Pumpkin Muffins."
Bulgaria has continued evolving in the 20+ years since then. Young people have grown up unaware of what it was like to live in fear of breaking rules. The current generation holds no memory of life under soviet rule. (Although Russia is certainly causing it's fair share of concern still.) But it has taken time to move past the fears inspired by living under Soviet rule. Only time erases fears, even the silly ones.

When I left an abusive relationship a few years ago, and then got my head cleared and my heart mended in moving to Oklahoma City, I would call my grandmother and tell her that I was still scared. I had left behind my young daughter, and my family was still strategizing on how to rescue her next. My PTSD from the abuse caused intense emotional breakdowns whenever I saw young girls and babies. I had recurring nightmares about my time living with Lily's father and his parents. I was stuck living in certain patterns to avoid feeling afraid. Even if he was no longer physically present to hurt me, I still felt a strange attachment to my past that prevented me from progressing. His words echoed in my head constantly, "You're not pretty enough to be a singer. You don't have enough talent to front a band." And even more painfully- "You can't be a mother. You'll never be anything but trash." 

My grandmother heard these concerns and she told me, "You, my dearest granddaughter- you're made from tougher stuff. You come from a long line of unconventional, brilliant, outstanding people. You come from a long line of happy, successful, romantic marriages. You are entitled to happiness. You are born to be fearless, and we will break you out of the fear and bring you back to who you were meant to be. I promise you, once you get out of your own patterns, once you realize that there are no walls or lines that can't be crossed- you are going to be just fine. We're going to help you break out of this- because there is nothing you can't do or be."
And she has. 

My grandparents helped me think differently, value myself and my happiness, and reject fear and oppression. *Viciously* reject fear and oppression. When I get on stage, I am making a statement against fear- the crowd may not realize what type of journey I took to get there, but they do recognize that I'm not afraid of them. I'm still angry sometimes at what was done to me, and I want to turn that anger into empowerment, not just for me, but for other women dealing with the same situation. However, despite my anger, I'm not afraid anymore, and I promise you, that my daughter will be taught to live fearlessly and rise above all circumstances thrown at her- and she will never settle for the words "You can't do that."

And it all starts with teaching her how to make pumpkin bread this Christmas.
Here's to the people who refuse to live confined by what people tell them they can't do!
Love always,

P.S. If you or someone you love is struggling with domestic abuse, there are so many resources available to you, because NO ONE should have to live in fear. Visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence at

Queensryche: Condition Human, Album Review

Evolution Calling!

In 2013, Queensryche fans got what they were hoping for. A return to form album from one of the pioneers of progressive metal. Their self titled album was just what Doctor X ordered. Seems he delivered the cure after all. Although the album wasn't progressive metal, it was better than anything released after Promised Land. It was even better than Empire. The band needed to get an album out fast, and they did; And, the fans rewarded them for it with a #23 debut on the charts. For the first time in years, the band was working cohesively as a unit, and it showed. That all being said, the fans were left wondering if the band could evolve into something much better, and get back to their true progressive roots, without sounding like simple rehash of classic albums.

Lets just get that out of the way right now. They did, and on a grand scale. Condition Human seems to be the natural evolution that the band should have taken years ago after Promised Land, rather than venturing into the realms of grunge and even adult contemporary. However, the band got rid of the main problem, released the self titled album, toured extensively, and got to know each other musically once again, along with the new members. Then, they produced this juggernaut. Once again, just what Doctor X ordered. Double time.
Todd LaTorre
The first thing you'll notice is the incredible vocal range of Todd LaTorre. Something that was mostly absent in the songs from the previous album. He did after all replace Midnight of Crimson Glory, so you knew it was there. He leads the songs effortlessly, piercing the stratosphere, dipping low, and everything in between. Also, the vocal harmony is every bit as good it was in the first albums. Backed up by Eddie Jackson and Parker Lundgren, the vocals are a fine tuned instrument on their own in every song. 

Parker Lundgren and Michael Wilton
The next thing you'll notice is the great guitar work. Queensryche has always been known for great guitar solos, twin axe harmony solos, which are the perfection you'd expect. Parker Lundgren has much more duties in the lead guitar department than on the previous album, and executes flawlessly. Michael Wilton is great as always. This is a unit equal to Priest and Maiden in talent. Check out track 10, All There Was. One thing that is different though is the rhythm guitar. Its a monster all its own. There is mauling rhythm guitar in all the songs, but specifically, the rhythm guitar in Guardian, Toxic Remedy, and Hellfire is a step up in Queensryche music. Think the skill and precision of The Needle Lies, except throughout the entire song.

Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield
And the last thing you'll notice, but certainly not the least thing  is the rhythm section of Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield. This has always been a unit in beast mode, but the work produced in this album is nothing short of incredible. Scott Rockenfield is one of the all time great drummers of heavy metal, but he does things in this album that defy logic. Eddie Jackson is one of the most solid bass players to play in a metal band. The two join together to form a deep and powerful assault on the foundation of the building you're jamming the album in.

Now, lets get into the music itself. One question I've been asked is "Does it sound like Mindcrime or Rage for Order? What album does it sound like?" Well, it does sound like a Queensryche album. It sounds exactly like Condition Human. And, isn't that what we all wanted? Yes, there are songs that could have fit on previous albums, like the title track COULD have been on Mindcrime, and there are several songs that COULD have been on Rage or Promised Land, but Condition Human sounds like its own creation. Modern Queensryche with deep rooted influences that prove that they are still very much the band we all know and love from years back.

There are songs that have the progressive/mature feel of Promised Land. Songs that have the deep and dark technical aspects of Rage and Mindcrime. There is even a hint of Crimson Glory influence no doubt because of Todd  LaTorre writing with the band. But just because there is influence doesn't mean that it sounds just like anything else. One thing you will NOT find here is a song that is centered around a riff from a song off a classic album, played a little faster with new lyrics.

Condition Human is proof that things get better with age. I would definitely put this in the band's top three, and maybe best overall. You decide! You will not be disappointed! 

Its available on Google Play, Amazon, Best Buy, Itunes, Walmart, FYE, and anywhere else you can buy music. If you haven't gotten it yet, get it THIS WEEK, so we can chart this bad boy!

And PS, if you're in Queensryche or a member of their management, we really need to get the band on my radio show. ;)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reasons NOT to 'Fear the Walking Dead'

The AMC Network has introduced a prequel to their hit series The Walking Dead, called Fear the Walking Dead. It takes place in Los Angeles at the start of the apocalypse, showing how people dealt with it, not knowing what is going on. Unfortunately, it doesn't/hasn't explained what caused the dead to turn into zombies, and that irritates a lot of people, but let's think about it a bit shall we? 

Fear The Walking Dead Cast
First of all, many critics are saying that this show is slow and boring. To the average person, that may be true, but if you really think about it, the show is progressing very close to the way it would happen if the apocalypse were to actually happen in real life. It features two families that is made up of a pretty diverse demographic. You have a married couple where the husband has a kid from a previous relationship. The wife has two kids from a previous relationship. The son is a junkie, and the daughter is a typical high school girl. You also have a family of Vietnamese people, where the father had experienced the horrors of the Vietnam war first hand, and has a distrust and hatred of the US Military. These two families are thrown together in a quarantined neighborhood safe zone by the military. And, what would you expect to happen? The zombies cannot get to them at this point, and they are simply existing with the military babysitting. They are bored, and their patience is wearing thin. The junkie has no supplier, and the military begins removing people they deem to be sick and a threat. Some have figured out that its the dead who are walking again, while others are still holding out for a cure.

I'm writing this a couple days before the season finale, and it would seem that the excrement is about to hit the fan in the finale. But leading up to this, the people simply had no idea what was going on. Fight or flight impulses have not set in yet, and let's be honest, it takes place in LA. A place full of liberals who believe that the government is there to protect them from everything. So, why wouldn't they just sit tight? The government is there to help right? Its very accurate if you ask me. In addition, the number of zombies at this point is relatively low. They haven't taken over yet, and it makes perfect sense that nobody knows what caused the outbreak. When the story begins in The Walking Dead, the grid was offline, society had completely broken down, and people already had made the choice: Fight and survive, or be lunch. In Fear the Walking Dead, there is still hope that this outbreak could be contained, and everything happening in the prequel would have happened in Atlanta with Rick, Darryl, and their crew. In the beginning, you simply wouldn't have had people joining together to survive both the zombies and evil people. Therefore, the hope that everything will be alright (which is human nature) is still very much alive. The same would have happened in Atlanta, yes. It just wouldn't have taken as long for the Southerners to accept the truth and fend for themselves.

Honestly, this show is good. If AMC was just going to make another version of The Walking Dead, what would be the point? Those who are criticizing Fear the Walking Dead would be complaining that it was just an inferior copy of The Walking Dead. And, they would be right. I applaud AMC for the new show. while the characters aren't likable, maybe that was the point. Maybe the writers wanted to portray the LA characters as they truly are: A completely different world, oblivious to what is going on outside city limits. And, this isn't a jab at Los Angeles citizens. Its true. They are in a different world, and they know it.

So, what's not to like? Its more a look into the sociological breakdown of humanity. That's not something that happens overnight. And, realistically, if a zombie apocalypse were to happen, would you rather have time to adjust? I think I would.