CD Review: Steel Panther “Heavy Metal Rules”

“Heavy Metal Rules”
Steel Panther
Producer: Jay Ruston
Tracks: 10

Our Score : 2 out of 5 stars

Spandex clad Steel Panther are back with a brand new studio album titled “Heavy Metal Rules”. Released on September 27th the album features 10 tracks showcasing the band’s musical growth and is the follow up to the groups 2017 release “Lower The Bar”. The philanthropic foursome comprised of Michael Starr, Satchel, Lexxi Foxx and Stix Zadinia feels they have created the heavy metal version of a self-help manual and the ultimate party album.

Having followed Steel Panther since their early “Metal Skool” days it’s always been a laughable and fun listening experience when they release a new studio album. However over the last few years I have begun to feel as though the “gimmick” has run its course and “Heavy Metal Rules” is no exception. As I made my way through the albums ten tracks the subject matter came off as flat and extremely tired. Songs like “All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)”, “Always Gonna Be a Ho” and “Gods of Pussy” felt like regurgitated versions of songs we have heard on previous records. Don’t get me wrong each of the band members show case their impressive musicianship while producer Jay Ruston does a good job making the album sound sonically good however there just seems to be an overhanging staleness caused by the groups repetitiveness.

If you are a music listeners who needs a copy of “Heavy Metal Party” to complete your growing Steel Panther collection then my guess is you probably have already gone out and grabbed it on CD, Vinyl or Digital Download but, be prepared for the same “sex, drugs and Rock n’ Roll” parodies that have been present since 2009’s “Feel The Steel”. If that still does it for you great! Then “Heavy Metal Party” is clearly for you. However if you are like me and were hoping for something new and/or different this time around take a hard pass. Given the idea of progression might be foreign to a band whose theme is to be stuck in a bygone era it still would have been a nice thought.

Track Listing:
1.) Zebraman
2.) All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)
3.) Let’s Get High Tonight
4.) Always Gonna Be A Ho
5.) I’m Not Your Bitch
6.) Fuck Everybody
7.) Heavy Metal Rules
8.) Sneaky Little Bitch
9.) Gods of Pussy
10.) I Ain’t Buying What You’re Selling

Book Review: “Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness. As Lived By Jon Zazula”

“Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness.  As Lived By Jon Zazula”
Author: Jon Zazula/Harold Claros-Maldonado
Paperback: 193 pages

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Heavy Tales” details the stories of how one Jonathan Zazula better known as Jonny Z who went from living on the streets of the Bronx in New York City to managing and releasing albums by some of the biggest artists in heavy metal music including Metallica, Anthrax, Testament and Mercyful Fate. Together, Jonny and his wife Marsha built a musical dynasty out of modest beginnings unmatched by any other underground heavy metal label. With a foreword written by Testament vocalist Chuck Billy, plus over 100 rare photographs unearthed from the Mega-Vault and photographer friends worldwide, “Heavy Tales” is the definitive American story of a family man with a dream, determined to prove to the world that heavy metal belonged on the stage, in your car, on the radio, and in your living room.

Growing up around the college town of Ithaca, NY you would always hear rumblings of the fabled Pyramid Studios and how all these heavy metal bands from the city would make the five plus hour drive just to record there. A name that was often attached along with that of bands like Anthrax, Testament and Raven was Jonny Z. It wasn’t until sometime later when I myself had the chance to record at Pyramid Studios that I would go back and dig a little deeper in to the lore that surrounds Mr. Jon Zazula. “Heavy Tales” filled in all the gaps, lapses and holes as it is the story right from the horse’s mouth. With the help of Harold Claros-Maldonado, Jon tells you about how his rough upbringing and  keen business sense put him at the fore-front of the heavy metal invasion of the mid-eighties and into early nineties where he help orchestrate the early foundations of cross over Rap-Metal. Just reading the candid stories about Metallica’s early days (Pre-“Master of Puppets”) would have been more than enough for me but Z takes it further recounting numerous concerts, trips and pivotal first time meetings which until now were stories only heard by select few and/or those who lived it.

Counting in at just over 190 pages “Heavy Tales” is a quick read that wastes no time getting to the good stuff. The book and its authors give you just enough background to nicely set the stage for the bulk of each story. I had no problem reading this book in one sitting and the various photographs included in the book were a nice touch. If you grew up during the time period the book covers and was in to heavy metal you undoubtedly have a record that Jonny Z had a hand in and now is your chance to hear his story.

 

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…AND JUSTICE FOR ART: STORIES ABOUT HEAVY METAL ALBUM COVERS – VOLUME 2: Available Now

New Art Book Featuring Amorphis, Metallica, Slayer, Black Sabbath, Behemoth, Judas Priest, Opeth, Obituary, And More

Veteran metal/rock journalist, Ramón “Oscuro” Martos, has finally published his eagerly awaited metal art book, …AND JUSTICE FOR ART: STORIES ABOUT HEAVY METAL ALBUM COVERS – VOLUME 2. This one-of-a-kind collection of graphics and stories reveals all the particulars behind the making of now-legendary album art including Slayer’s Hell Awaits, Judas Priest’s Screaming For Vengeance, Morbid Angel’s Altars Of Madness, Metallica’s Death Magnetic, Black Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell, Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime, Emperor’s In The Nightside Eclipse, Death’s The Sound Of Perseverance, Type Of Negative’s Bloody Kisses, Carcass’ Surgical Steel, Amorphis’ Tales From The Thousand Lakes, Soulfly’s Archangel, Behemoth’s The Satanist, Opeth’s Sorceress, and many others. 

The stories behind these iconic works are told through more than one-hundred exclusive interviews with metal icons like Max Cavalera (Soulfly), Jeff Walker (Carcass), Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer), K.K. Downing (ex-Judas Priest), Satyr (Satyricon), David Vincent (ex-Morbid Angel), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Luc Lemay (Gorguts), Ihsahn (Emperor), Paul Mazurkiewicz (Cannibal Corpse), Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), and so many more. Additionally, the collection features insightful interviews with legendary illustrators such as Eliran Kantor, Dan Seagrave, Travis Smith, Valnoir, and Costin Chioreanu, who also designed the book’s stunning front cover. 

“This new book features 252 color pages and more than 400 images. It provides firsthand information about hundreds of graphics, which are presented in extremely high quality,” Ramon Oscuro comments. “Although this is a direct continuation of the first volume published in 2015, it’s also a true standalone book. Readers will be able to discover images and stories that haven’t been published until now. This volume is the product of three years of intense work and insightful research. Working on it was an amazing experience.” 

Several musicians have expressed their enthusiasm for the …AND JUSTICE FOR ART book series. Soulfly’s Max Cavalera — who penned the new book’s foreword — has thanked the author, “for helping to keep alive the ritual of the album cover.” Vltimas/ex-Morbid Angel frontman, David Vincent crowned …AND JUSTICE FOR ART, “a historical document about the importance of metal album covers.” Cattle Decapitation vocalist Travis Ryan proclaims, “this is exactly what the music world needs to remind us how important album covers have been to all of us that grew up surrounding ourselves with physical media.” 

…AND JUSTICE FOR ART – VOLUME 2 was funded through a successful crowdfunding campaign launched by Oscuro via Indiegogo. The current edition is limited to 300 copies and is exclusively available at THIS LOCATION. Each copy is personally signed by the author.View the book’s teaser video at THIS LOCATION.

Guitarist K.K. Downing Discusses His New Book “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”

 

Picture by: Pauli Juppi

Ken “K.K.” Downing is a founding member of the heavy metal band Judas Priest. He was active with the group from its inception in 1969 to his departure from the group in April of 2011. Downing has recently released a book via Da Capo press title “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”. Media Mikes had a chance recently to speak with Ken about the creation of the book and where he plans to go next

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background behind the writing of the book?

Ken Downing: Since my departure from the band eight years ago lots of people have been asking me if I would like to do a book. Year after year I just kept saying no and then finally last year I decided to finally do it. I sort of had three basic ideas for doing this. I thought it would be a good opportunity for fans to get to know me a little bit better. That probably sounds a bit ridiculous after having been around for so long now but, there is always another story to tell. I wanted to share how I started off in life and ended up playing some of the biggest stages in the world. Lastly I wanted to bring some sort of closure to the banter which was being thrown about across the internet related to my position within the band.

AL: How did you go about selecting what memories or stories you wanted to include in the book?

KD: That was really the difficulty part as I didn’t have a plan or anything. My ghost writer Mark Eglinton helped quite a bit with this side of things. He helped me dig a bit deeper along the way as we approached things chronologically as one lives life. As we moved along we paid attention to what would come to the surface and tried not to dwell on certain topics too long as we wanted to keep the book moving. If I had elaborated too much on things this would be a very thick book. (Laughs) It was difficult at times as I wanted to keep things honest and after forty years in rock and roll there were a couple stories we had to leave out. (Laughs)

AL: How did you get connected with Mark (Eglinton)?

KD: Mark came to me through my website which is run out of Helsinki, Finland. I had been approached previously by a bunch of other people about doing a book but Mark was in the UK and he made a couple trips down to see me where we just talked and got to know one another. I felt that worked well and we went from there. We did things in chunks based on a certain amount of years. That let me focus on one specific time period at a time. Mark and I would just basically talk. Every now and then he would prompt me to elaborate more on certain periods of the band. Both Mark and his brother have been rock fans for a very long time so he had a fans perspective of what other fans might want to know more about.

AL: Was it hard revisiting some of your earlier years growing up?

KD: It was. I had always kept a lot of those memories be it good or bad to myself. My childhood was very personal to me and I had never shared my experiences with anyone. To have someone hear them and then in turn document them for others to read was something I really had to think about. To keep things transparent we went ahead with it. I may have skirted around a couple things or been less descriptive but it’s all there. When you are born in to a dysfunctional family things are going to be a bit different so I didn’t have to go into too much detail.

AL: Had you let any of the people included in these stories know beforehand that you were releasing a book on your life?

KD: No not really. I had talked to my mom as I was a bit concerned she might get a little emotional about me telling the family story. As it happened when I spoke with her she told me she was not worried and she also mentioned she had read Ozzy Osbourne’s book and loved that one. (Laughs) When she did get the chance to read my book she affirmed that that’s how things were so I was pleased with that.

AL: Now that people have had a chance to read the book, are there any pieces you feel you should not have included or been so detailed with?

KD: I feel a little relieved now that it’s out and that I have not received any real adverse repercussions. The general feedback has been much better than I was expecting. Every now and then I think about other things I would have mentioned but didn’t. That seems to happen though be it with this book or records you always want to turn out the best product so you keep working and working at it. Eventually you just have to stop and turn it in. I wanted to put out something that people could get their heads into and find it just as enjoyable as watching television or something.

AL: With the completion of the book are you looking to now shift your focus back to music?

KD: I am thinking with the coming winter here in the UK I am going to disappear into my music room and just see what happens next. I have a few ideas I might want to play about with but this game for me is all about getting that chance to jump back into Judas Priest. If I am not doing that then the name of the game is creating new material.

For more in on Ken you can visit his official website at www.kkdowning.net

Be sure to check out our review of “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” here.

Book Review: “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” by K.K. Downing w/ Mark Eglinton

“Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”
Author: K.K. Downing w/ Mark Eglinton
Da Capo
Hardcover: 277 pages

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

As guitarist for the iconic British heavy metal band Judas Priest, Ken “K.K.” Downing lived the fast-paced, opulent life of a rock star. It was a far cry from his tedious, impoverished childhood in the heart of England. In “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest”, Downing recounts his forty-plus years with the band recounting events such as his first meeting with vocalist Rob Halford and guitarist Glen Tipton to stories of touring with bands like AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

There aren’t many music fans out there who can’t name at-least one Judas Priest song. From “Living After Midnight” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” to “Breaking the Law” the band has a memorable catalog that for many was the soundtrack of their youth. “Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest” is the chance for fans of the band to see just what was going on behind the scenes during the bands early years and on up through guitarist K.K. Downing’s departure from the group in 2011. Over the course of the books 277 pages the guitarist and his collaborator Mark Eglinton give detailed accounts of the bands formation, the growing pains all new bands go through and what the band was like during the recording of some of the most influential heavy metal records in music history. Downing is candid and no subject seems to be off limits as he recounts his own personal struggles as well as inner turmoil between band members, management and producers giving the reader a fly on the wall perspective that until now was not available.

At times I did find the stories to be a bit drawn out with a few too many “poor me” moments for my liking. Yes this is a memoir/autobiography and those types of things come with the territory however there were some redundancies and details that probably could have been thinned down or omitted completely with a little more editing. Do not get me wrong, the book still has a bunch a really cool moments and stories that aside from the people who lived it have/will never be experienced by most so being able to read about those is worth it. There are also some really great photos included the hardcover book comes with a super cool metallic like slip cover which will look awesome displayed next to other Judas Priest and music memorabilia.

CD Review: Newsted “Heavy Metal Music”

Newsted
“Heavy Metal Music”
Chophouse Records
Producer: Jason Newsted
Tracks: 11

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted has just released his debut full length album titled “Heavy Metal Music”. The album is being released on the heels of Jason’s explosive 4 song EP titled “Metal” which was released in the spring of this year via Newsted’s Chophouse Records. With the exception of the songs “Soldierhead” and “Kings of the Underdogs” all the material contained on “Heavy Metal Music” is brand new. This definitely added to the appeal of this release being that it was being put out in such close proximity to the subsequent EP. From beginning to end Newsted and company are bombastic in their approach.

The album’s opening track “Heroic Dose” pounds its way into your skull while doing an excellent job of setting the stage of what’s in store for the listener. Each track on “Heavy Metal Music” features Newsted’s gritty vocals and ripping guitars courtesy of Staind guitarist Mike Mushok and Jessie Farnsworth. Other tracks worth checking out are “As The Crow Flies” which features a really cool groove which weaves it’s way in and out of the catchy choruses while the track “Kindevillusion” is a melding of all things Newsted.

If you listen carefully you can clearly pick out pieces reminiscent of Jason’s previous work. “Heavy Metal Music” features lots great playing that provides something for everyone making this the perfect album to pick up if you are looking for some solid rock/metal music to throw on during that late summer cook-out with your crew.

Track Listing:
1.) Heroic Dose
2.) Soldierhead
3.) As the Crow Flies
4.) Ampossible
5.) Long Time Dead
6.) Above All
7.) King of the Underdogs
8.) Nocturnus
9.) Twisted Tale of the Comet
10.) Kindevillusion
11.) Futureality

Blu-ray Review “Heavy Traffic”

Actors: Joseph Kaufmann, Beverly Hope Atkinson
Directors: Ralph Bakshi
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Run Time: 77 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

“Heavy Traffic” is writer-director Ralph Bakshi’s follow-up to his controversial animated adult film “Fritz the Cat”, which is a hard act to follow. It is quite an odd and spacey film, definitely something that came out of the 70’s for sure. It is definitely not for everyone but is still super entertaining for fans of Bakshi’s work and like most of his films it is chock full of sex and violence. Bakshi really has a unique visual style to his animated projects.  They are like nothing else that I have ever seen.  This is the first time that this film has ever been on Blu-ray, thanks to Shout! Factory. It is not the perfect release we are all hoping for after the fantastic recent release of Bakshi’s “Wizards” on Blu-ray but I would recommend for those hardcore animation fans.

Official Premise: Heavy Traffic, the second feature from writer/director Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat), combines a quick-edit pace, a frenetic story line and an array of eye-popping animation and live-action styles. Michael, a young artist who lives with his neurotic mother and two-timing father, escapes the absurd and often ugly side of life on New York’s tough streets by satirizing its rich yet wacky characters in wildly entertaining cartoons. From the gruff homeless and wisecracking prostitutes to gun-toting gangsters and corrupt cops, Michael’s world becomes an outlandish kaleidoscope of shocking images and horrifying events that are either a testament of his wild imagination or a reminder of the strangeness of reality.

Shout! Factory is releasing “Heavy Traffic” on Blu-ray with a pretty decent 1080p transfer in 1.67:1 aspect ratio.  The film doesn’t look perfect but that is the feeling that I get from Bakshi’s films.  They are not perfect.  They are low budget and it looks as good as it can.  The mix of animation and live action is presented well and the colors are sharp. The audio track comes with an also decent  DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track.  It works for the dialogue and the film’s music. Doesn’t blow you away but does the trick. Unfortunately, there are zero special included to complement this Blu-ray release. I would have loved to seen Ralph Bakshi do up a commentary track on this release but I doubt he had any involvement at all.

CD Review: 3 Inches of Blood “Long Live Heavy Metal”

3 Inches of Blood
“Long Live Heavy Metal”
Century Media Records
Producer: Terry “Sho” Murray
Tracks: 12

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Long Live Heavy Metal” is the newest album from the Canadian heavy metal band 3 Inches of Blood. The bands 5th full length album was produced by Terry “Sho” Murray and is being released via Century Media Records. The group consists of Cam Pipes, Justin Hagberg, Shane Clark and Ash Peason. Together the band blends a variety of both new and classic metal techniques while still forging new ground.

Vocalist Cam Pipes could be describes as half Halford and half Dickinson as his vocals ring out in the highest of falsetto ranges while tracks like “Look Out” and “Storming Juno” are drenched with dual guitar chugging, and sweeping solo passages.

Though a majority of the songs on “Long Live Heavy Metal” have a more vintage sound and structure, Tracks like “Dark Messenger” and “Die for Gold” feature a unique blend of the two which makes the latest release from 3 Inches of Blood quite an entertaining listen.

Track Listing:
1.) Metal Woman
2.) My Sword Will Not Sleep
3.) Leather Lord
4.) Chief and the Blade
5.) Dark messenger
6.) Look Out
7.) 4000 Torches
8.) Leave it on the Ice
9.) Die for Gold
10.) Storming Juno
11.) Men of Fortune
12.) One for the Ditch

 

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CD Review: The Great Commission “Heavy Worship”

The Great Commission
“Heavy Worship”
ANGR/Century Media
Producer: Andrew P. Glover
Tracks: 11

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Great Commission is a 6 piece band based out of Riverside, California. The band is made up of Justin- Vocals, Angela- Rhythm Guitar/Vocals, Robby- Lead Guitar, Victor- Guitar, Solomon- bass and Alonso on drums. The band labels themselves as a heavy worship band that blends the musical styles of hardcore, screamo and punk with Christian themed lyrical content. “Heavy Worship” is the band 3 release and is the follow up album to the bands 2009 Strike First release titled “And Every Knee Shall Bow”.

“Heavy Worship” is relentless in its approach both lyrically and musically. In my opinion the band does a great job blending scream vocals and pop punk sing along choruses which in turn make the album extremely fun to listen to. The 3 guitar attack provides a variety of heavy breakdowns which will surely conjure up the most fierce circle pits. The albums opening track “Don’t Go To Church, Be The Church” lays the foundation for later tracks such as “When It Rains It Pours” and “Draw The Line”. Even though the bands Christian themed messages may be too much for some listeners they do not over shadow the fact that “Heavy Worship” is a great album. and worth picking up no matter your thoughts or beliefs are!

The Great Commission’s “Heavy Worship” is a brutal onslaught of down tuned guitars and thick thunderous bass and drums which combined with Justin and Angela’s spot on vocals make for a really exciting album. No matter what your thoughts or beliefs are do yourself a favor and get this album!

Track Listing:
1.) Don’t Go To Church, Be The Church
2.) The Walking Dead
3.) When It Rains It Pours
4.) Draw The Line
5.) Preaching To The Choir
6.) Weight Of The World
7.) The Prodigal Son
8.) Road To Damascus
9.) The Juggernaut
10.) Reap What You Sow
11.) Came To My Rescue (Be Lifted…)