Pity The POTUS?

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From radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and every form of social media our current President, Barack Obama, is tracked. Love him or hate him, it is clear that he is the most media covered President in history. The man can not say a word or make a move without someone somewhere reporting, writing, tweeting, commenting or blogging about it. With so many forms of media running 24/7 how can anyone in the public eye escape? With all of that coverage comes a great deal of criticism. Is it fair to say that President Obama is the most publicly scrutinized President ever? One almost has to pity the next POTUS. All of the coverage, the press, the criticism and public scrutiny will only increase as our hungry for information increases and technology advances. Let us hope that the next POTUS is up to the task.

My Top Ten Favorite Metal Albums

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I’ve been a metalhead since 1984, so over the years I have heard quite a bit of metal.  Picking ten was hard, putting them in order would be near impossible.  So after much thought here are my top ten favorite heavy metal albums, in no particular order.

Candlemass – Nightfall:  Heavy riffs, amazing leads, great production and the vocals of the one of a kind Messiah Marcolin add up to an amazingly diverse doom metal masterpiece.

Metallica -Master Of Puppets:   Hands down the greatest thrash metal album of all time, one of the greatest metal albums of all time and perhaps THE metal album of the 80’s. 55 minutes of near perfection in metal.

KISS – Music From “The Elder”:   A concept album??? KISS?!?!?! Yep and it’s a good one. Deemed a failure by many, including the band, but one could argue that the band never sounded better.

Megadeth – Rust In Peace:  Megadeth’s best album and the second best thrash album of all time. The riffs and leads played by Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman are insane.  Mustaine never sounded better vocally. The perfect mix of aggression and melody.

Zero Hour – The Towers Of Avarice:  Four equal parts creating the ultimate prog/technical metal album. Erik Rosvold sounding like the offspring of Ronnie James Dio, Geoff Tate and Freddie Mercury. The Tipton twins, Jason and Troy, locked in on guitar and bass taking the listener on a roller coaster ride of riffs. Mike Guy laying down the rhythm to this insane musical journey. As if that were not enough, it’s also a concept album.

Shadow Gallery – Tyranny:  A concept album on par with the greats. Mixing the influences of Queensryche, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Kansas, Queen, Dream Theater and Yngwie Malmsteen into a unique blend of prog metal that unlike other bands in the genre is the perfect mix of prog and metal. There is plenty of space for keyboard and guitar solos. Like the great concept albums the story is quite an emotional journey.

Queensryche – Operation: Mindcrime: Queensryche’s finest moment and one of the best concept albums in any genre.

Epica – Design Your Universe: My introduction to symphonic metal and the heavenly voice Of Simone Simons. A perfect mix of metal, thrash, death metal, progressive rock and classical music.

Sepultura – Beneath The Remains                                                                                  – Arise:

Two from the once mighty Sepultura. Sepultura did not invent thrash, but they sure perfected it.  With back to back albums they produced two classics of the genre. Led by one of the best voices and riffmeisters in thrash, Max Cavalera. The band also features two of the most overlooked musicians in metal, Igor Caverlera on drums and Andreas Kisser on lead guitar. Kissesr lays down some of the most melodic leads in thrash.

Honorable Mention: Albums that were close to making the top 10:
Extol – Burial
Stryper -In God We Trust
– Reborn
Overkill – The Years Of Decay
Extreme – III Sides To Every Story
Tourniquet – Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance

Rock And Rollers Do Grow Old And Die

Over the past several months rock music has lost some heavy hitters. Just to name a few: B.B. King, Chris Squire, Scott Weiland, Lemmy, David Bowie and most recently Glenn Frey.  Somehow we as fans want to foolishly believe that rock and rollers will never die.  In some respects rock and roll is a sort of fountain of youth.  Look at the aging artists and bands that are still recording and touring 20, 30, 40+ years after their formation.  But unfortunately rock and rollers grow old and die. Somehow we believe that because they have a microphone in one hand and a guitar in the other that they will live forever.   Sadly this is not the case.  Rock and roll may never die, but those who create it do.

No Opinions Allowed?


Someone recently posted a link on Facebook.  The link was for an article about one of my favorite bands. The author of the article ranked the band’s albums from worst to best.  It’s generally interesting to read how others feel about my favorite bands, whether they be fellow fans or critics. I clicked on the link and read the article and the author’s reasoning for the rankings.  It was a good read and I had no issue with the article. Did I totally agree with the ranking of the albums, or all of the comments? No, and that fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, whether I agree with them or not.

My issue was with a few comments posted on Facebook in regards to the rankings in the article. The word “ridulous”, in regard to the authors ranking, was used a few times. Ridulous, really!?!? How can someone’s opinions be ridulous? I love music and I love discussing it, with open minded people. I am game to agree to disagree. But I would never post that someone else’s opinions are not valid. Even if someone is more informed on a topic, does it really make one opinion more valid than another? That was not the case here, it was obvious that the author of the article  was well versed on the band being ranked. I must say that narrowminded people who do not allow for the opinions of others really bother me, at times. If you disagree with someone else’s article or list write your own and we’ll discuss it, with open minds.

Bowie

David Bowie is dead. When I initially read the news it just did not seem real, it still does not seem real. But as I think on it now it would seem that he went a similar route as Freddie Mercury and hid his illness, (cancer), from the public.

Bowie’s music was never a huge part of my life. I never bought a cassette, album or cd of his. But I was always aware of his presense and he did record quite a few songs over the years that I have enjoyed.  His duet with Queen still gives me chills at times.  It is quite possible, due to his extreme diversity musically, that there is at least one Bowie song that most everyone is a fan of.  Although I was just a casual observer of his career I did recognize how unique he was as a vocalist and performer.  For a time it seemed that his music was in constant rotation on the local rock stations, as well as on MTV.

Popular music is filled with copycats, soundalikes and far too many artists who willingly recycle musical clichés. Bowie stood apart from most everyone. A truly unique voice is now silent.

The Force?

It’s official, mediocrity sells.  That’s not news to many of us. What am I speaking of?  Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now the #1 movie of all time in America.  The tickets sold have passed the $800 million mark!  If it continues on it’s current pace it will soon be the all time #1 movie worldwide. Just from a pure numbers stand point, what this movie is doing is incredible. Not bad for a so so movie.

I have spent most of my life as a big fan of the Star Wars movies.  Over the years I have seen them, especially The Empire Strikes Back, countless times.  I was fortunate enough as a young boy to have seen Star Wars in 1977, quite an experience.  I have seen The Force Awakens and it was my intention to return to the theater the following week or two and watch it again.  However, it just hasn’t happened.  I do not feel compelled to return for a second veiwing, at this time.  Did I enjoy The Force Awakens?  Yes I did, overall it was a fun sci fi adventure movie.  However, it really didn’t stay with me after it was over.  The movie came across a bit hollow, the overall story a bit tired and most of the new characters fell flat.  As inept as The Phantom Menace was it left more of an impression on me.  Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul and a young Obi-Won Kenobi were all great additions to the Star Wars universe. When The Force Awakens dvd is released later this year I am sure that I will buy it.  Despite my so so feeling I am eager too see the sequel, but I will manage my expections.

This is all just the opinions of one lone Star Wars fan whose life was changed, A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. For now Star Wars: Episode 7 is ruling the galaxy. Apparently the force is strong with this one and it has awakened a lot of fans to spend a ton of money.  But it almost feels like someone pulled a Jedi mind trick and convinced people that this was a great movie.

Rock And Roll Rebels

Stone-Wall-smallThe essense of rock and roll is rooted in rebellion and nonconformity.  Heavy metal takes this to even higher heights. In a genre that many believe to be filled with suicidal mother killing satanists one would think that nonconformity would in fact be the norm.  However, so many bands fall in line with the sterotypical conventions of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

But if there is one band that stands apart from so many of the others it has to be Stryper.   Stryper has primary spent their career singing about God, His love for mankind and salvation through His son Jesus Christ.  During their concerts it is not uncommon for the band to toss Bibles out into the audience.

The band’s lead singer, Michael Sweet, recently gave an interview and made the following statement, “I feel like we’re bigger rebels than most bands out there because of what we stand for.”   That comment was met with lots of dismissive replies on the internet.  Stryper’s a Christian band, how rebellious can they be?

Far to many bands are content to regurgitate the same old dark cliches in order to fit into the metal scene.  Stryper on the other hand, by their lyrical content, set themselves so far from the norms of the genre. A great example of a typical Styper lyric can be heard in the band’s song More Than A Man.  The song contains the following chorus, “God I will follow you because you died for me. Gave to me your life to set me free. Anyone who asks shall receive, Jesus in your heart, It’s time for you to start giving God all the glory.”  Not at all what one would expect from a heavy metal song.  I have to agree with Michael Sweet, Stryper are indeed rock and roll rebels.