Category Archives: Music Review

Mark Tremonti – Tremonti

You’d think if you were the prominent guitarist and co- songwriter for two major rock bands you’d have enough axes in
the fire. But not the Grammy Award winning and well respected musician Mark Tremonti. (guitarist of Creed and Alter Bridge) Mark Tremonti has recently created a solo project, simply called “Tremonti”. About that later. Here’s a little background.

Mark Tremonti was born in Detroit, Michigan. His early childhood was spent living in Grosse Pointe. At the age of 11 Mark had his own guitar and totally immersed himself in music. His family eventually moved to Orlando, Florida where he attended High School met his future Creed band mate Scott Stapp. Tremonti briefly attended Clemson University but after one year returned to Florida to attend Florida State University and reunite him with Scott Stapp also attending FSU. These two college friends would go on to form the band Creed. The rest of Mark Tremonti’s bio can be found here. I highly recommend it. But this is an album review. One more thing for the bio. Click on the thumbnail below to see the uncanny resemblance Mark Tremonti and Adam Baldwin have. Tremonti is on the right. On to the thrash.

According to Wikipedia, Mark Tremonti has had the desire for a solo project since the early 2000’s when Creed was starting to wane. He envisioned a speed metal/thrash type project. Nothing ever became of this desire until 2010 when he realized he had so much material written that did not really fit the Creed or the Alter Bridge mold. So with former Submersed band members Eric Friedman and Garrett Whitlock he hit the studio to record “Tremonti“. On the album Mark Tremonti performs all of the lead singing. His backup singing has always been and enhancement to Creed and Alter Bridge but this is the first time for a lead performance. According to Tremonti, the songs on the solo project are “heavier sounding” than anything he’s done with Creed or Alter Bridge with “lots of soloing”.

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Voodoo Circle – Broken Heart Syndrome

It has been weeks since my last music review so let’s bolt out of the gate afresh with a killer album. I was first introduced to this band through my fellow WordPress blogger and music reviewer Rob over at Hard Rock Hideout. He put together a 2011 Top 20 Best List and this Voodoo Circle album made the cut at #16 I think. I would’ve placed it higher but it wasn’t my list. Voodoo Circle is a group of German hard rock musicians from other metal bands such as Silent Force (Alex Beyrodt (pronounced “bairodt”) on guitars, and Primal Fear’s Mat Sinner on bass. They are joined by lead vocalist David Readman, keyboardist Jimmy Kresic, and drummer Markus Kullmann. The music they play is a bluesy mix of metal in the vein of Whitesnake (vocalist David Readman sounds like he has David Coverdale’s pipes on loan), Deep Purple, Blackmore’s Rainbow, and some speed metal in the fashion on Yngwie Malmsteen thrown in for nice liquidity. What you end up with is a retro hard rock metal sound out of the 70’s with the production quality of the present day. Open up and swallow hard.

The album “Broken Heart Syndrome” was released on May 3rd of 2011. The cover alone (Fender Stratocaster w/Marshall stack amp) emits the old hard rock ‘a roller “Smoke On The Water” classic “fist in the air” punch that many of us from the early hard rock 70’s relate to to so well.  The music on the album is the perfect mix for an older “head-banger” of the blues variety like me. The previously mentioned sound similarities bring emotions that are both haunting and pleasing as I listen to it over and over again. The overall effect was very intentional as seen in this interview with guitarist Alex Beyrodt, even down to the use of vintage gear.

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Hats Off To The Bull – Chevelle

This is an album I have been looking forward to since their live album release hit the stores. Chevelle is a Chicago based band. I have been listening to them since their first release, “Point #1”. My fondness was cemented the day I read they named the band for their dad’s favorite automobile. I am also a Chevy fan. Chevelle was first introduced to the market under Squint Entertainment, a Christian record label which created quite a controversy for them. They may have finally moved beyond the label of Christian band to a band who is serious about their faith. I am not sure what that means specifically but on to the album review. A couple of aspects of the band that attracted me to Chevelle are; they write their own music, and they are a three piece band. They have been compared to other bands like Tool, and Helmet, but I got into Chevelle long before I heard any music from those other bands. In my estimation there is only a slight resemblance in sound and style. Some music critics have described Chevelle in such terms as “a kind of controlled chaos, a beautiful darkness, a gentle rampage of aural velocity”. I will agree with that description. In my own experience of listening to their music and seeing them live I would describe their music as melodic restrained chaos. This pattern holds in their latest project titled “Hats Off To The Bull“.

The album begins with “Face To The Floor”. A heavy melodic groove that starts the Chevelle motor just fine. This track was first leaked to radio back in September of this year and is getting some nice airplay on rock and college radio stations. In an interview earlier this year, drummer Sam Loeffler, stated that the song is about the Ponzi scheme stuff going on in some corporations today. Next up is “Same Old Trip”. The song is typical Chevelle and yet not with some cool backing vocals mixed in during the chorus. “Ruse” is up next, and it reminds me of some of the pieces from their “Wonder What’s Next” album, one of my favorite Chevelle albums. The “Meddler” has many layers to it. It has some very cool guitar vibrato which makes the song almost atmospheric.  “Pinata” is a quick paced song reminiscent of “Mia” from their “Point #1” album, and yet contains an almost clean rock sound mixed in, and some rare lead guitar work.

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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Chevelle, Hats Off To The Bull, Music Review


Slash – Slash

Having read some new info about the upcoming Alter Bridge album I thought I’d get the writing juices flowing and try to do another album review. It has been quite some time since my last review so I will make it easy on myself and review an album that stays queued up on my iPod. This artist really needs no introduction to hard rock fans. The name alone brings to mind ear splitting, eye popping hard rock riffs and solos from song titles like “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Paradise City”, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, and “Civil War”. Slash, in my humble estimation is the only one to come out of the train wreck of the G n’ R 80’s and 90’s with some substantial and sustained talent intact. He was the primary driving force behind the commercially successful band Velvet Revolver. Had it not been for lead singer Scott Weiland’s love affair with drugs, the band would still be creating major songs for the headbangers to enjoy.  So what did Slash do to find another lead singer? He went out and got at least 12 singers to sing his songs on this solo project.

Slash” the album, was released April 6, 2010 to some pretty high expectations. The original album title was going to be “Slash & friends” but the “& friends” was eventually dropped in favor of the artist-titled version. In an interview with Spinner magazine, (posted 7/06/2010) Slash talked about the “smooth operation” of getting the guest vocalists involved, and the “logistical nightmare” of getting legal releases from the artist’s record companies. He also comments on some of the artists he worked with, including meeting an unknown to him, Myles Kennedy.

The album begins with one my favorite singers Ian Astbury of The Cult on the track called “Ghost”. The guitar in the song has the signature Slash palm muted riffs and power chords. A quality song. The next track features Ozzy, another artist who needs no introduction but does in fact have a last name, although he doesn’t really need one. The song, “Crucify The Dead”, begins slow enough with Ozzy’s recognizable vocals, but builds to a sophisticated droning of heavy metal pomp and crunch. The next track was a major surprise to me.  “Beautiful Dangerous” begins with a phased, thumping bass line and builds to Slash’s palm muted power rhythm. The vocals are performed by Fergie. Yes the Black Eyed Pea, Fergie. I had no idea she had such great pipes.  The fourth track is a Memphis blues laced diddy called “Back From Cali” and features the vocals of Myles Kennedy. Those who have not had the privilege of hearing Alter Bridge are appreciating his vocal range on this Slash product. Myles is the primary vocalist of Slash’s tour. I have seen video footage of the tour and Myles does a great job on the old G n’ R songs.

The album highlights which are numerous, include “Ghost”, “Beautiful Dangerous”, sexual innuendo aside,  “Back From Cali” and “Starlight” also featuring Myles Kennedy, “Promise” feat. Chris Cornell, “Gotten” feat. Adam Levine of Maroon 5. I like the chorus lyrics:

I’ve been saving these last words for one last miracle
But now I’m not sure
I can’t save you if you don’t let me
You just get me like I’ve never been gotten before
Like I’ve never been gotten before

“Watch This” is a well thought out instrumental song which features David Grohl of Foo Fighters and old Slash pal Duff McKagan. “Nothing To Lose” is probably the heaviest song on the album and features M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold. The song reminds me of classic Black Sabbath.

Overall the album is quality hard rock as only you could expect from Slash. In the interview with Spinner, mentioned above, Slash comments on how he selected the vocalist for each of the songs he wrote based on the material. I think he did an excellent job. I give the album five stars, I mean, top hats out of five.

Please check out the video for “Back To Cali” featuring Myles Kennedy.

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Posted by on August 10, 2010 in Music Review, Slash


The Answer – Everyday Demons

At the beginning of this year I was introduced to this amazing new band from Northern Ireland called The Answer. I the_answer_everyday_demons_coverwas enthralled by their honest classic rock style and blogged about their debut album “Rise“. The Answer has been getting rock hallelujahs and gaining thousands of fans as a result of their current tour opening for AC/DC. They have not released an album in the U.S. until now, and yet they are gaining newer classic rock fans hand over air pumping fist. Their love for crafting head-banging guitar riffs and lyrical hooks like the legendary bands is a major part of their lure. In their debut album, released only in the U.K., The Answer poured out this classic rock formula like nobody’s business. But even while you blatantly notice the heavy influences of the legendary bands, The Answer is chiseling out their own unique niche of the classic rock genre.

The new album from The Answer is “Everyday Demons“. It was released in the U.S. on March 31st, 2009. I have listened to this album at least two times through now and I can honestly say that I do not see any weak points. In an interview from earlier this year lead vocalist Cormac Neeson underlined the theme of the new album as a cry to arms against the psychological and physical bullies of this world. The album begins with a Molly Hatchetesq guitar riff on the track “Demon Eyes”, a song that is right in scope with the theme mentioned. Cormac Neeson’s vocals scream into the track with lyrics that say:

Lookin’ out my narrow window
tell you what I see
pit bulls are on the street
and closing in on me

Could it be this paranoia
Is keeping me inside?
Lock the door and load my gun
This time I’m fighting back

The second track “Too Far Gone” displays the prowess of the band’s drummer James Heatley’s drumming and song writing skills. The blues fillers prior to the bridge point in the song are really cool. The third track is called “On And On”. It is the first single released for the album. The song is definitely worthy with a very catchy hook. “Cry Out” written by guitarist Paul Mahon is the next track. The song reminds me of classic Led Zeppelin blues rock, especially with the soulful vocals of Neeson.

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Posted by on April 3, 2009 in Everyday Demons, Music Review, The Answer


U2 – No Line on the Horizon

Would the names Paul Hewson, or Dave Evans be synonymous with rock stardom? How about Bono (Paul), or The u2-no-line-on-the-horizonEdge (Dave)? I remember the first time I heard a song by their rock band U2. It was 1983 and the song was “40”. The song is a modified version of Psalm 40 in the bible. The lyrics and Psalm begin:

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

This song and several others that had similar biblical content created a stir and hope among the Christian community that finally a well known band would be able to take their message to the masses. I think few people knew that early on the band had some serious reservations about their new found rock and roll lifestyle and how it would mix with their Christian faith. The crusade they did take up is pacifism and social-politico as evidenced in their album “War“, released in 1983. The album was their first commercially successful album. Many folks, including me, have wondered if the members have actually trusted in Christ. They are very serious about social causes but their frontman Bono has had some serious public profanity problems that has hurt his witness for Christ. But this posting is about their music.

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Posted by on March 7, 2009 in Music Review, No Line on the Horizon, U2


Joe Satriani – Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock

Today, as the snow falls here in Nebraska, (they are forecasting 5 to 8 inches) I have become acutely aware that I have been lax in my joe_satriani_-_professor_satchafunkilus_and_the_musterion_of_rockblog postings lately. I have also fallen behind in my music reviews, so today I will review an album that was given to me by a good friend who also plays guitar. The artist is a common favorite of ours and a popular guitarist in the minds of many who appreciate killer guitar compositions. The artist is Joe Satriani. If you have never heard of him and you like great guitar then you have been living under a hard rock all your life. I first heard the riffs and screaming guitar sounds of Joe Satriani, or “Satch” as he is known in more appreciative circles, from a guitarist who was teaching me lead guitar many years ago. When this teacher found out that I was a Randy Rhoads (original Ozzy guitarist) fan he turned me on to “Surfing With the Alien” by Joe Satriani. The jaw dropping reaction I experienced after hearing this incredible guitarist was much like my reaction in 1978 after seeing and hearing the hammer-on and pull-off storm known as “Eruption” performed by Eddie Van Halen at St. Johns Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Who is this guy?

Since that blessed day I have been listening to the music of “Satch”.  Among his guitar playing he has also found the time to help instruct others in the art of axe wielding. He helped create the talents of axemen such as Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Larry LaLonde of Primus, Marty Friedman of Megadeth, and David Bryson of Counting Crows who are now great guitarists in their own right. But they can’t compare to the master Satch. In 1995 Satch came up with an awesome idea to put together something of a guitar festival which became known as the G3 tour. Along with Satch, the tour has included many guitar greats like Steve Vai, Yngwie Malsteen, Eric Johnson, John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big). Satch has become notorious for odd song titles like “Surfing With the Alien”, “The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing”, “Flying in a Blue Dream”, and “Is There Love in Space”. Along these lines comes the new album released by Satch.

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The Answer – Rise

I’ve been singing the praises of The Answer on Facebook lately, so I decided to introduce them here on my blog. I theanswer_2was introduced to the band by fellow blogger Rob Rockitt @ Hard Rock Hideout a few weeks ago. Until then I had never heard of them. I downloaded their UK hit “Never Too Late” from their album release “Rise” and loved it right away. So I downloaded another, loved it, and another, and another, each time thinking that the taste to hear more would flatten out. It never did. I have since found out that their only release in the United States came last year in the form of an EP. They have a new release for the U.S. coming March 31st called “Everyday Demons”. I am looking forward to that.

The Answer is a hard rock blues band from Northern Ireland. They are Cormac Neeson on vocals, Paul Mahon on guitar, Mickey Waters on bass, and James Heatley on drums. The band has many influences, but their biggest influences have come in the form of such classic blues rock greats as Humble Pie, Free, and Led Zeppelin. Many kudos have been heaped on this Northern Ireland quartet; but the praises that weigh greater are not from peers, but from already crowned rockers like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and Joe Elliot of Def Leppard, who are also fans.

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Posted by on January 23, 2009 in Music Review, Rise, The Answer


Phil Keaggy – Phantasmagorical: Master & Musician 2

The first music review for 2009 will be an album from a Christian musician I phil-keaggy-phantasmagorical-master-and-musician-2have been a fan of since the middle 70’s. The musician known as Phil Keaggy is also noted as one of the best guitarists in the world. To know Phil Keaggy is to also know some of the many urban legends created about him. Several rumors have circulated about Phil Keaggy and whether or not he had been observed by the guitar god Jimi Hendrix. The rumor begins with an interview of Hendrix on Johnny Carson or Dick Cavett where he was asked what it’s like to be considered the greatest guitarist in the world. The rumored response from Hendrix was “I don’t know, you should go ask Phil Keaggy.” Keaggy has stated that even though he did record with his old band Glass Harp at Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios, it was well after Hendrix’s death in England. Another rumor that has circulated about Keaggy is the one about the middle finger on his left hand. If you’ve ever seen Keaggy perform you would notice that half of this middle finger is missing. The wildest rumor supposedly occured prior to his conversion to Christianity. The legend says that in a drunken stupor he wanted to prove he was the world’s best guitarist and cut the finger off himself. There are many variations as to just how he did this finger execution. Keaggy busted all those rumors many years ago. I found this video the other day where he describes what really happened to his middle finger.

Phillip Tyler Keaggy began playing guitar at age ten in his parents small farmhouse in Hubbard, Ohio on a Sears Silvertone guitar. He has frequently been listed as the top 3 “fingerstyle” as well as “fingerpicking” guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine. I received my first exposure to this masterful virtuoso guitarist while listening to a live recording of The Second Chapter of Acts, a contemporary Christian group that consisted of Matthew Ward and his sisters Ann and Nelly. Phil Keaggy has recorded, by Wikipedia count, 47 records spanning over 35 years. When I purchased his 1978 album “The Master and the Musician” I was totally hooked on Phil Keaggy. Since then I have collected only a small portion of his many recordings.

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2008 – A Year in Music Review

Considering the classic picture of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, did you led-zeppelinhear the buzz about Led Zeppelin reuniting for a tour? I guess Robert Plant doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. Let me digress a bit more. Lately I’ve been waxing nostalgic for the great rock bands and albums of by-gone decades. Some of the rock music albums released this year were really good, but not great in the classic sense. I even reviewed some of those new releases. Maybe it’s me, but why don’t I find any great rock music from bands like those of the 70’s. Bands like Rush, Yes, Foghat, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, or BTO? These bands were not flashes in the pan like most bands today. Some of these bands are even around today, and still making great music. Maybe those bands and their music just remind me of my youth? But I think something can be said of those great “classic” rock bands and the music they created. I run into teenagers and young adults (including two of our own) every day who are into those classic rock bands. Their music definitely has staying power. Enough said.

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Posted by on December 30, 2008 in classic rock, Music Review, Top Albums of 2008