Auditory Assault

Intro …

Today’s column will be brought to you courtesy of the new Rise Against album (“Siren Song of the Counter Culture”)… as always, thoughts to follow at the end.

But first…

Backing tracks bulls**t…

From the “Won’t this story die? (Ashlee Simpson edition)” files:

Never fear, metal heads. This story has more to it than simple talk of the pop/pseudo-rock (Ha!) queen of the moment. It seems that in the wake of the lip-syncing controversy, a concert-industry source reportedly told Rolling Stone magazine that many rock bands use backing tracks while performing live in an attempt to recreate the studio sound of their albums.

According to a post over at Blabbermouth, the source said “A lot of the heavy acts do that – they thicken up the guitar sounds when they play live. KISS has backing tracks galore.”

Evanescence’s manager even offered up his two cents, pointing out that in the recording studio bands are relying on layering techniques to achieve a certain sound, and that unless three or four guitar players were on stage the sound could not be replicated. And the exclamation point?

“And people want to hear the record they bought.”

Hmmm, so, how to tackle this?

How about screw that!

If I wanted to listen to the album, I wouldn’t pay upwards of $40 half the time to try an check out a band live. There’s no point. When, as a society, did we stop caring about the talent of musicians? And when did we just want to watch said musicians dance around to pre-recorded music and vocals? And when did we want to watch bands “perform” and act instead of performing their songs?

Here’s the deal (at least on my end). I want to see a band tear through its songs … live (!). I want to hear the screw-ups. I want to hear the accidental feedback. If the lead singer forgets a verse and lets the crowd take over, more fun for the audience.

Anything less and we might as well pump in the album over the PA system while we all stand around watching cardboard cutouts… or just stay home and watch TV.

And as a post script: If I pick up a live album, I want to hear the show, not a doctored up version. Otherwise, just add an audience track to the album and we’ll see how I feel about picking that up (here’s a hint: I won’t).

Can’t we all get along? (part one)…

The internet is a funny place. Band members have always talked to various outlets throughout the years, but now there’s a place for all this information to funnel (and be taken out of context), and in turn lead to some interesting speculation.

Case in point, Motley Crue. Less than a year ago it was a given there was to be a big reunion show, maybe even a new album. But each member of the band has been keeping busy in his own way (Nikki Sixx with his other band Brides of Destruction; Tommy Lee with his women and new book, “Tommyland”; Vince Neil with his televised makeover, start-stop solo career, and a stint on “The Surreal Life”; Mick Mars with hip-replacement surgery).

But still, a reunion seemed to loom just on the horizon. Neil and Sixx even hit the studio to record some new Crue tracks. Things must be going good…

“It could be or it couldn’t be. We’re not sure what we’re doing.” — Vince Neil talking about a possible reunion show in a recent interview with the Edmonton Sun.

Hmmmm. Well, at least we have a new album, what with the new songs and such.

“There is no new record.”


To be fair, it appears Neil was a dick throughout the interview. At one point, the interviewer asked if Neil was even interested in a reunion, and Neil talked all around the question implying he couldn’t really care one way or the other, before the guy from the Sun basically had to ask if it could happen with the push of a button would Neil be interested. The answer: yes.

Anyway, check out the whole interview here to see Neil try to push the Crue questions to the side as much as possible in an attempt to self-promote (note: Neil recently cancelled his European tour; he’s never had that stellar of a solo career).

On the flip side, Sixx has been active on the Motley Crue/Brides of Destruction Web site’s “Diary” area. In addition to his solo work, the new Crue songs sound “killer.” Not sure where they will turn up, but like any good splinter, I’m sure they will work themselves out and break through to the surface sometime. Who knows, not me.

Neil is always quick to point out that Sixx is the most interested in getting a Crue reunion going. Time will tell…

Can’t we all get along? (part two)…

Van Halen is in a similar boat.

After an iffy reunion show with its share of ups and downs, Sammy Hager has come out to say he viewed the tour as “closure” and looked forward to returning to his solo work.

(It is important to note that Hagar and Van Halen parted ways on not-so-good terms many moons ago so I, for one, was surprised to see this tour come to fruition. Also, I enjoyed Van Halen 3 for what it was — Van Halen crossed with Extreme.)

Anyway, Hagar recently spoke to a St. Louis radio station about the reunion tour, pointing out the following (according to Blabbermouth): I like my band better, I’m sorry. I think the Van Halen thing is great. I wanted to do it, it was really my idea, I pushed for it to happen – everybody wanted to do it, it wasn’t like I had to twist anybody’s arm … I had to have some conclusion of that, and we did it for the fans. … So at least we got it done.

(For what it’s worth, more of the interview can be read here.)

So, weeks after this “information” comes to light online, Hagar posts at his Web site that the internet rumors are false and he has no intention of “quitting Van Halen.” “Listen here, all these crazy rumors flying around cyberspace are that. Plain and simple, I never said I was quitting Van Halen. There has been no discussion as to when or where we’re going to pick this show up on the road and do it all over again…”

Add to that, Van Halen drummer Alex Van Halen is now making noise about a new Van Halen album on the horizon. In a recent interview with the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, the drummer addressed the band’s volatile nature and future plans.

“(Alex)Van Halen says the band is currently writing material that he believes is its best in a great while.

‘I can’t put it into words, unfortunately, but the stuff is absolutely brilliant,’ he says.”

The whole interview is actually an interesting read, detailing the trials of the past 10 years with the band. Gary Cherone is even brought up. Check it out.

So what have we learned? In any band there are going to be clashing personalities — it’s the great ones that can put those differences aside and still make great music. Oh, and also, fans should never hold out hope for new material from a favorite group (unless there’s a death… but even then…).

In brief …

..:..Hey! I used to front Anthrax. Care about me!..:.. Joey Belladonna, former front man for Anthrax (I prefer the John Bush-era stuff more, but that’s just me) will be releasing a collection of previously recorded material via his official web site. The album, “Artifacts I,” is said to be the first of a two-volume set containing material recorded in 1993. Clips from the songs are available here. The album is supposed to be available through PayPal when it comes out.

..:..The Prince and Godsmack..:.. Godsmack have provided a number of songs for the forthcoming videogame, “Prince of Persia: Warrior Within.” According to Total Video Games, the Boston-based quartet have reportedly provided a number of songs for use within the game, with the likes of “I Stand Alone” and “Straight Out of Line” setting the tone for the Prince’s quest to unseal his mortal destiny. The last Prince of Persia game was pretty solid, so I have high hopes for this next installment. Godsmack will just offer a nice atmosphere (plus, you can totally see “I Stand Alone” in this setting, what with the track first showing up on “The Scorpion King” soundtrack).

..:..Heavy Metal auction follow-up..:.. A couple of weeks ago, in this very column, I mentioned an auction of heavy metal music memorabilia that took place Nov. 6 at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City. It turns out, Metallica fans paid higher than expected prices for the band’s handwritten lyrics and original album cover artwork. Lyrics to the group’s 1983 album “Kill ‘Em All” handwritten by Lars Ulrich and Cliff Burton sold for $2,400 to more than $4,900 each. “There were a total of 16 different handwritten Metallica lyrics, and they sold for a combined total of $48,600,” said auctioneer Darren Julien. The original album cover artwork for “Master of Puppets” was purchased for $19,200. Other big sales included the original artwork for Anthrax’s “Among the Living” ($3,600) and the 1989 MTV Music Award presented to Guns N’ Roses for best heavy metal video, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” ($14,400). Go here for more information.

..:..Speaking of Metallica..:.. The DVD version of the band’s documentary, “Some Kind of Monster,” will be packed with seven hours of bonus features. The two-DVD set is due to hit shelves in January of next year. According to a post at the band’s Web site, the set will include the following: 40 additional scenes; exclusive intimate interviews with Metallica about the film; highlights from festivals and premieres; two audio commentaries by the band and directors; two trailers and a music video. The packaging can be seen here.

..:..A new head for the Mushroom..:.. Mushroomhead finally have a new lead singer in place — Waylon (formerly, I assume, of the North Carolina-based 3 Quarters Dead). The band had posted a video clip of a recent performance with the new member but the site has since been disabled. The band is on tour right now, so keep an eye out at its Web site for more information (and maybe that clip will show up again):

You (and I) need to hear this…

Here’s some CDs I want, recently picked up or already have that I haven’t listened to nearly enough (you should check them out too):

Rise Against: “Siren Song of the Counter Culture”

Ozzy Osbourne: “Ozzman Cometh”
Pantera: “Vulgar Display of Power”
Alexisonfire: “Watch Out”
Corrosion Of Conformity: “Deliverance”

In closing…

I’m noticing a lot of similar looking CD covers coming out as of late. Is this in my mind? You decide.
The cover for Rise Against’s latest

for some reason reminds me an awful lot of the recent Red Tape offering

Ok, so they look a little different. But how about the cover of Beautiful Mistake’s “This is Who You Are”

versus the new Straylight Run self-titled album

No? Maybe it’s just me.

So this new Rise Against disc is pretty strong. The lead vocals have a nice sense of urgency to them. The band is a straight up punk-ish hard rock collective, but I find something to like about each element of the band’s sound: the vocals are consistently strong; the guitar complements the vocals but also stands good alone during solos (which are plentiful and attention-grabbing without being too in-your-face); the drumming is totally solid with plenty of cymbals though the cymbal-work is mixed low so as to not be too over the top; the bass plays off the drums pretty good but comes out to the forefront too to carry some of the tracks which is a nice touch.

The album, as a whole, reminds me of early Offspring with a more metal-touch, or newer AFI material. The vocals are stronger than those comparisons though. The only thing that I find weird is that, one or two times on the disc, the vocals almost sound reminiscent of a rocking Goo Dolls track. Hmmm? (Kepp in mind that, as of this writing, I am trying to get over a pretty bad cold, so that might account for something.)

Oh, and there’s a killer accoustic track towards the end of the album (“Swing Life Away”) that is sick … definitely a must-hear.

And that’s that. As always, drop me a line. Until next time, I’ll be here at Inside Pulse making sure no metal news falls through the cracks.

Take it easy…