Tag Archives: Music

Top 10 Songs I’ve Performed To An Audience

Originally when I planned out these Top 10s, I only intended to do a guitar and a vocal one, but then I remembered that I’ve played a number of songs live myself. So I’ve got room for one more list and this is my Top 10 songs I’ve performed live to an audience. These are songs I have played to more than a few friends in the room, this is to an audience of 10 or more people and actually, I think the lowest number on this list is maybe around 30-40 people with all these songs on the list.

So without further to do, here we go!


#10 – “I Got Erection” by Turbonegro

Yep, you’re not reading the title of the song and the band that sings it wrong. The only real bar band I ever played for was a punk band called Inept Inc. We played a lot of your average punk music, Bad Religion, NOFX, bands like that. One band we had a blast playing a song from was Turbonegro and their aptly-put title, “I Got Erection”. It’s an easy song to learn and ridiculously stupid. Hence why we loved it so much that we had to play it live at least once.

#9 – “Plug In Baby” by Muse

The place I learned guitar from had a rock band program. My band for most of my time in it was called Cardboard Baseboard and we played together for I’d say six years or so. One of our favourite bands to use was Muse. “Plug In Baby” was the last one we did, a song that really summed up how much we’d improved since starting years ago, granted with a few people changing in and out of the band over that time. It’s a song that while wasn’t the most fun song we ever played, it was certainly an awesome track that really showed how polished we were.

#8 – “Open Your Eyes” by Alter Bridge

At competitions the music schools would have to compete against each other, there was a ‘Vocal Entertainer’ category, which was basically sing and play and instrument. The first song I chose to do for that, you’d think I’d pick something easy, right? Nah, I went right for Myles Kennedy and shot to the top with Alter Bridge‘s “Open Your Eyes”. Luckily my range was still a little higher than and I could pull it off-ish. But it also introduced me to a completely different guitar tuning I’d never used before and back then, holy hell did that unlock a lot of musical inspiration in myself.

#7 – “Glass To The Arson” by Anberlin

A band we at Cardboard Baseboard also listened to a lot, we played two tracks from Anberlinour favourite easily being “Glass To The Arson”, which was one of the few Anberlin songs that really carry a hint of badassery in it, as the band’s tracks tend to be more polished and serene. It wasn’t the hardest song to learn, in fact it was one of the easiest for us, but it’s a song that just sounded perfect with the members we had and the attitude we carried into our performances.

#6 – “Hysteria” by Muse

Our personal favourite Muse song, “Hysteria” is just such a fantastic track. I loved the song, but funnily enough I can remember being depressed about it, because I didn’t get to play the bass part, which is easily the best part in the entire song, the bass line in Hysteria is so freaking badass and cool and stands out when most bass lines never do. If you’re a bass player, this is a song you learn, no doubt about it!

#5 – “Roots Radical” by Rancid

Speaking of amazing bass parts, this was the second song I ever learned in the program. Looking back on it, I should not have been able to play this song’s bass lines at the skill level I was at. But the song was just so cool sounding that I couldn’t stop and I kept pushing myself to my limits and broke through. Rancid‘s “Roots Radical” is the lone punk song I ever played with Cardboard Baseboard, but man did we make a great pick with having that song as the only one we ever did. I still play that bass line today, granted on an electric guitar as I don’t actually own a bass.

#4 – “Lift And Fall” by Cardboard Baseboard (original song)

It sucks because I can’t put up a recording of us playing this song, we really should’ve thought about that. One year we were having trouble picking a song to do, so eventually our teacher suggested we try something really different: write a song. He had his own band and had some lyrics written that weren’t being used, so he brought one specific sheet for us, called “Lift And Fall”. We slowly but surely built a song around those lyrics and holy hell that felt fantastic to be able to accomplish such a task. For me at 14 or 15 to be in a band and have written a song that I felt was actually really badass, that felt so goddamn amazing, especially when people were amazed how good it was when we played it live.

#3 – “Broken Wings” by Alter Bridge

The only song that isn’t concert-related, I sang this song from last week’s Top 10 list at a karaoke bar that was absolutely packed. I knew no one would know the song, but that’s how I’ve always been with karaoke, I’ve never been a mainstream kind of guy. I was worried when I picked this song that my voice wouldn’t hold all the way through, but I have to remind myself that when I’m on stage, I’m a completely different person. If alone I can’t finish the song without a hiccup here and there, put me in front of a bunch of people and I’ll do it perfectly. As I got to the chorus, I hit Myles’ insane vocals so perfectly, I couldn’t believe my own voice. I was so happy and it served as a reminder to me just how much fun I have when performing in front of people, as it had been years since all my band stuff from my teenage years.

#2 – “Do You Call My Name” by RA

My personal favourite song that I played with Cardboard Baseboard, but serves at #2 for specific reasons I’ll get into later. This song from the band that loves to sound like Egyptian hard rock, RA‘s “Do You Call My Name” is one of the coolest songs I’ve ever learned, both from a guitarist and a vocalist’s standpoint, as I had backing roles in this song. Having to whisper and growl words in this song, it was such a fun and cool experience being able to do something like that. It was also absolutely hilarious watching people’s reactions when we played that song live. Generally speaking, people at these shows and competitions don’t play anything too edgy, because it “scares” the elitists.

#1 – “Blow Me Away” by Breaking Benjamin

In terms of overall value for how we played the song live, Breaking Benjamin‘s “Blow Me Away” is easily the best song I ever had the pleasure of playing in front of an audience. It’s one of the heaviest songs I’ve ever played, one of the most badass songs I’ve ever played, but that’s not even why I love it so much. Our second singer in Cardboard Baseboard was these really polished Chinese girl who I knew as being your cliche piano playing singer who only did more soft and vocal-driven songs. We in the band broke her pretty good with all our choices. This song in particular really unlocked a side of her I’m not sure anyone knew existed. There’s a part before the final chorus where Benjamin Burnley screams and the guitar solo kicks in. We joked around with our singer that she should totally do the scream and naturally she was like “No way!”, but we kept teasing her for fun, not expecting anything to come out of it.

Come show time, we’ve never gotten her to do the part. So we start playing the song in front of everyone, of course not expecting her to do it. That part comes up, I’m already lost in my musical trance as I concentrate on my own part. Then out of nowhere, I hear “RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” and I look over confused…sure enough she’s screaming and holy shit does she sound incredible! I nearly completely lost my place because I was so surprised. She looked at me first, clearly embarrassed and I just started laughing and started really bouncing around on the stage. After all, I’m a showman, I can’t let her top me, right? Needless to say, I still lost to her that time…


Thanks for checking out this week’s Top 10, hope you enjoyed it! Have you ever performed to a crowd? Doesn’t matter the size, if you have, talk about it in the comments below!

Top 10 Songs I Enjoy Playing On My Guitar

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I can’t believe after having a massive writer’s block, I never thought of a Top 10 like this one. It’s not like I recently did a Top 10 about anime opening themes and talked about enjoying playing a couple of them on guitar or anything, right? So now my brain has kicked into full gear again and I came up with a great idea, to have a Top 10 songs I enjoy playing on the guitar. Next week, I’ll do one of the Top 10 songs I enjoy singing.

I’ve been a musician for 16 years as of the 26th this February, as it’s my birthday. For my 13th birthday, I got my first acoustic guitar and from there on, the journey began. I’ve gone through different musical phases, I’ve owned six different guitars in my lifetime, three amplifiers and I’ve played two professional shows and a ton of other small shows within a music studio I learned and eventually taught at.

So here’s my 10 favourite songs to play on my guitar currently. These can range from really technical songs that are hard, but fun to play, or songs that are easy and just a blast to strum away at.


#10 – “R U Mine?” by Arctic Monkeys

I have Rocksmith 2014 to thank for this one. I’ve liked the Arctic Monkeys in the past, but after songs like “Brianstorm” and “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor”, I hadn’t been listening to any of their new stuff. In the game, this song is among the list of songs that come with the game. It’s very easy and straight forward, but the main riff is really fun to play and with the accurate sound of the actual song being pumped out through the game, it just sounds fantastic. It’s one of very few songs in that game also that I’ll sing the lyrics while playing it. Because, well…it’s easy enough to play and sing at the same time. I’m not gonna be doing that while frantically playing through a Dream Theater song, that’s for sure!

#9 – “Database” by Man With A Mission ft. TAKUMA (Log Horizon)

The lone anime track on this list, I’ve always loved this song from Log Horizon, as it is just such a Japanese-style nu metal track with a badass beat and a killer guitar riff. It can be a little demanding, but there is enough of the song where you can just strum away and get lost in the music. I particularly like playing the opening lick (when I don’t mess it up), but man does that crazy little solo in the bridge kick my ass! Either way, it’s a really fun song to play, now if only I could find more anime tracks that are easy to learn and I won’t have to play by ear.

#8 – “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard

This is nowhere even near my favourite Def Leppard song, I really love “Photograph”, “Rock of Ages” and for those who don’t know the newer songs, “Long Long Way To Go”. But “Pour Some Sugar On Me” has that killer riff at the start of the song and no matter what guitar you play it on, what effects you use to alter the sound, that sequence always sounds badass. It’s a fun song to play, it doesn’t demand to much skill and has that party, rockin’ vibe that really makes it easy to get into and a song you can go back to again and again and not have to worry about it being too challenging.

#7 – “Cry Thunder” by DragonForce

Yes, I actually attempt to play DragonForce songs. Thankfully, while songs like “Through The Fire And Flames”, “Operation Ground And Pound” and other songs destroy my wrist and fingers, “Cry Thunder” on the other hand, while still an extremely difficult song has enough sections in it that for a veteran guitar player like myself, it’s approachable enough and still really fun to play. The opening solo is really fun to play, has a sort of Irish-sounding sequence to it. Naturally, the main solo of the song isn’t even remotely approachable for me, but I’m sure the sounds of missed notes won’t piss too many people off…

#6 – “Glasgow Kiss” by John Petrucci

Speaking of missed notes, there is no song that kicks my ass harder and yet I keep coming back to, than John Petrucci’s (Dream Theater) “Glasgow Kiss”, a song that I’m slowly but surely actually nailing down the main sections of the song before the solo absolutely destroys me. It’s easily one of the best sounding songs I’ve ever heard from a guitarist’s point of view, the sound is just so crisp, Petrucci hits every note like he’s running like a metronome, it’s just a perfect guitarist’s song, full of challenge, speed and precision. And it makes me so happy to nail down sections that a year ago I thought would’ve been absolutely impossible for me.

#5 – “The Thin Line Between Love And Hate” by Iron Maiden

Anyone who knows me and my musical tastes shouldn’t be surprised to see an Iron Maiden song on this list and even more so that it took until the Top 5 to start seeing them. When an Iron Maiden song gets in my head, it doesn’t just hang around, it pushes itself to the forefront. This Brave New World track has a great mixture of speed, precise sections, followed by slow, methodical and emotional sections. It’s an emotional roller coaster of a song and for a guitarist like myself (who also loves Iron Maiden as much as one person conceivably can), it’s a perfect song to get into.

#4 – “Blood Brothers” by Iron Maiden

Also on the same album, here’s a track that carries legitimate emotional value and on top of that is an extremely fun song to play. When I saw Iron Maiden play live, they dedicated this song to the late Ronnie James Dio, who had passed away if I remember correctly a couple months prior to the show. The song itself like the one above it in the #5 slot is a great song that mixes all the great elements of a song. On top of that, the solos in this song are just fantastic to play, they’re not too hard for Iron Maiden standards, so it’s easy for me to approach. Another song at times I’ll catch myself singing along with it, though only in certain sections, of course, it’s still a tough song.

#3 – “Wasteland” by EarlyRise

The song that Rocksmith 2014 really got me into playing over and over again. It’s honestly not a hard song, it’s not even remotely close to being my favourite song. But as a song to play on my guitar, for whatever reason it just resonates so well in my ears as I listen to myself play through it. The little solo you play during the chorus especially, it sounds so damn good. It’s a song I don’t have to devote too much of my attention and concentration to and thus becomes a song that I can just kick back, relax and strum away. It’s easily the song that comes with the game that I turn to the most and a song I wish I had played with my old music academy rock band, the singer would’ve been perfect for it.

#2 – “Radical Dreamers ~Without Taking The Jewel~” by Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Cross)

The only song on this list from a video game and also the only song on this list that you play with an acoustic guitar, rather than an electric guitar AND on top of that, the only song on this list you fingerpick instead of using a pick like you would with pretty much every other song. This is not about technicality, about speed and precision, about anything a guitarist would normally gush about. This song in its purest form, is one of the most beautiful songs I will ever play. It’s the song that really got me moving forward on learning how to properly fingerpick, though admittedly I still don’t do it properly, I pretty much only use my thumb and index finger to pick unless I need my middle and/or ring finger for 3+ string chords. This song is you’ve never heard it before is such a beautiful sounding song, I strongly recommend you listen to it and if you’re a guitarist, give this song a shot yourself!

#1 – “For The Greater Good Of God” by Iron Maiden

It should be no surprise that an Iron Maiden song is my #1 pick for songs to play on my guitar. But I think most people who are Maiden fans are shocked that none of the songs I even listed are the classic hits like “Number of the Beast”, “The Trooper”, “Fear of the Dark”, songs like them, instead all three songs that made the list are 2000s hits. In fact, the #11 song if I went further back would’ve been “Satellite 15…The Final Frontier”, which is from a 2010s album. The newer songs for whatever reason seem to strike me better than the old ones.

“For The Greater Good Of God”, that’s the only song I have gone out of my way to learn how to sing and play on multiple instruments. I can play this song on guitar and have adapted it to a keyboard (at a very low-level, I’m self-taught for a single year at this point). This song has everything I could ever want, heavy strumming riffs for verses and the chorus, a great opening lick to start things off and my favourite guitar solo I may ever learn to play. It’s specifically the last solo before the chorus starts up again, there is no solo I’ve played that sounds cooler, hell I downloaded the song for Rocksmith 2014 (a custom one, not directly made for the game) and I find myself putting that section on the Riff Repeater setting so I can just play it over and over again, just that part on its own. There is no song I’ve played more times in a row and more times over the course of my lifetime as a musician.


Thanks for checking out this week’s Top 10, hope you enjoyed this one, which was a little different to most of the lists I usually do. I love playing music and looking back on it now, I’m surprised I didn’t do a list like this until now. But yeah, next week will be the same, but from a vocalist’s perspective rather than a guitarist’s.

See you next week! Don’t forget to list songs you like playing yourself if you’re a musician as well, doesn’t even have to be just on guitar.

[Review] Dropkick Murphys – 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory

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At the tail end of high school, I got into quite the punk phase. I listened to a lot of stuff, Bad Religion, NOFX, Minor Threat, but I also listened to sillier stuff and more folk punk stuff like Flogging Molly and of course, Dropkick Murphys. They’ve been a band I’ve stuck with ever since, I’m always listening to their stuff in my car and rocking out to badass bagpipes. And now they have a new album out, 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory and I’m about to take a first listen to it.

So here’s my review of the album, we’ll do it track by track.

01. The Lonesome Boatman

The tin whistle kicking the album off, I always love that instrument. I’m not sure which instrument I like the most in Dropkick songs, the tin whistle, the bagpipes or the accordion, they’re all used so well. This is just an instrumental track with a bit of chanting, likely a song you’d hear kicking off a concert to get people all jazzed up. It’s a nice little start.

02. Rebels with a Cause

Your pretty standard almost surf-rock sounding tune, the vocals are on point and the tune keeps at a happy beat. I could’ve really done without the claps in the song, they kept breaking me out of the track, they felt like they didn’t belong.

03. Blood

Enter the bagpipes and a much slower beat in this tune. The progression and melody of this tune remind me a lot of Johnny Cash‘s “Ring of Fire”. I can handle slower Dropkick songs, but usually they’re more acoustic and somber, this one honestly feels way too slow and with the guitars and screaming, it just doesn’t fit with my ears.

04. Sandlot

Another song that sounds suspiciously like another classic track, except I sat here for a while trying to name the song, but it’s not one I think I’ve ever known the name to it. Ah well. The song again is rather slow, not as slow as Blood, but still slower than I’d expect from a Dropkick song. It also feels weird listening to a song by this band that doesn’t feel like it has their unique sound added to it.

05. First Class Loser

And as I say that, we’re back with the mandolins and tin whistles. This song’s a little better, an easy listen and definitely a song that could be played at a show in between the more heavy and fast songs the band is known for.

06. Paying My Way

The piano in this song sounds really weird to me, I wonder what kind of piano this is? Another very slow track and this one out of them all feels the weirdest on a Dropkick Murphys album. There’s a little harmonica solo to try and save the song, but I’m already looking towards the end by this point.

07. I Had a Hat

There we go! A fast beat! Now this sounds like the Dropkick of old. It very much carries the old sea shanty, pub fare kind of songs that we’re used to hearing with the band when they’re at their best.

08. Kicked to the Curb

This is another odd choice of a track from the band. It feels a lot like your standard 70s or 80s Top 40 rock single, just with Dropkick vocals rather than what you’d normally expect from this kind of music. There feels like this weird love for surf music suddenly in this album, it’s not sitting all that well with me.

09. You’ll Never Walk Alone

And we’re back to a more normal Dropkick song. A slower, almost sit down and story-telling sort of track with bagpipes accentuating the melody. Though I will admit the chorus progression of the vocals in this song sound a little off to me, not in tone but in the position of the syllables, they don’t make as much sense as a time progression to me.

10. 4-15-13

Sweet Jesus, I thought I was about to scream and cry because I was being forced to listen to the Titanic tin whistle part from Celine Dion‘s “My Heart Will Go On”, thankfully it was a false alarm. A very somber sounding track and the vocals are at their best here. These are the kinds of tracks I like at the tail end of Dropkick albums.

11. Until the Next Time

Yep and we’re finishing off with other 70s/80s sounding track. It has a bit of a Bowie sound to me, but I could be wrong. It’s not a bad song, but once again it just feels weird as a Dropkick song, it’s not what I’m used to hearing and if it were someone else, I might’ve been more okay with it.


Final Thoughts

As a Dropkick Murphys album, this record is littered with tracks that stray a little too far off their signature sound and tracks that are just way too slow for the band’s usual partying and frantic pace. There’s a couple good tracks here in The Lonesome Boatman, First Class Loser and I Had a Hat, but there’s a lot of tracks that just don’t sit well with me and really bring this album down. I’m honestly really disappointed in this album and it’s making me wonder if the band has lost its edge and/or is really starting to slow down as they continue to age.

If you’ve got Spotify or something like that, you can justify the listen, but I can’t imagine paying full price for this record, it’s not that good.

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Top 10 Bands I Want To See Live

Last week’s Top 10 featured my favourite bands that I’ve had the privilege to watch live in concert. This week we take a different approach, this time around it’s the Top 10 bands that I want to see live in concert!

The rules for this list is simple, only bands that could conceivably put together a show count on this list. Saying I want to see The Beatles in concert could be cool, but when half the band has passed away and they haven’t done a show since 1966, the odds of one happening now seem quite unlikely. There might be bands on this list that are on hiatus or have “retired” from action, but the possibility of a reunion tour or something like that could still be possible, those bands count.

Anyways, let’s get to this list!

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I’m not the biggest KISS fan in the world, not even remotely close. I like a few songs here and there, but I wouldn’t call myself a member of the fabled fan club, the KISS Army. However, there is no band more legendary for their shows than KISS and I would love nothing more than the opportunity to experience that. I may not be singing along with every song, but I sure as hell know that regardless of my level of fandom for the band, they always put on a good show and it would be a blast to go to.

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There’s a lot of unique acts out there I’d love to see. One of the highest on my list are Boston’s Dropkick Murphys, a Celtic punk rock band that mixes the usual fast and hard style of punk rock with accordions and bagpipes. Hell yeah! They’re one of my favourite bands over the years and an act that I’ve just never been in the right place at the right time to see. The one chance I had, I was stuck attending a family gathering instead. Ugh, that’s the worst!

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You could argue that in an age of music where no iconic bands are surfacing to the levels of groups like the Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Iron Maiden, the closest band to that in this current age of music is Muse. This magnificent trio has always been a great source of well-crafted, hard-hitting rock music and over the years has moved higher and higher on my priority list to see live. It’s just another case of a band that I’ve just never gotten around to seeing yet.

07

Mike Portnoy is my favourite drummer of all-time. I managed to see him with Dream Theater not long before he and the band would part ways. Now he’s got a new band going on in The Winery Dogs, a badass supergroup with Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen. Their first album was one of my favourite records in 2013 and while their second album, Hot Streak hasn’t quite captured my attention as much as their debut album did, they’re still an act I really need to see. Because I love Mike Portnoy and I’m biased as fuck.

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Just like KISS, I’m not the biggest Alice Cooper fan. I know a bunch of songs by him and I love the person, but I couldn’t just spout out lyrics to songs on the Dragontown record off the top of my head. But when it comes to legendary stage shows, Alice Cooper takes the cake. To be able to see the kind of show that back in the late 60s and 70s that caused parents and politicians alike to freak the fuck out, that would be nothing short that fucking spectacular. If there is any legendary stage show I need to see live in concert, it’s Alice Cooper.

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Yep, my #5 is a band fronted by a professional wrestler in Chris Jericho. I told you I was biased as fuck. But in all seriousness, I think Fozzy is one of the most underrated bands I currently listen to, they are a badass metal band, they continue to get better and better with each album and anyone who shrugs them off just because by assuming they’ll be shit cause the lead singer is a professional wrestler, they piss me off. There is no North American band out there that I want to see who isn’t already in the music spotlight than Fozzy. No one’s even close. And that includes my biased love for The Winery Dogs. #7 and #5 are a lot further apart than the list would make you think.

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I remember seeing this Japanese nu-metal band in 2007 on television (Much Music) when Live Earth was running. I was watching the show at Makuhari Messe in Japan specific to see Linkin Park’s set, but when I changed the channel to this show, Rize was starting to play. For the first time I heard songs like “Pink Spider” and “Heiwa” and I fell in love with these guys instantly. It took me over a month of endless torrent searching to find their music, because at the time the hadn’t crossed over into North America, so I had no way to buy their records. Since then, they’ve remained one of my all-time favourite bands and my #2 Japanese act, the #1 just happening to also be on this list. These guys are absolutely incredible and if you haven’t heard of them, check them out.

In fact, here’s a YouTube video of some of their Live Earth set. Wow, what a blast from the past for me to see this again: link

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Now here’s a legendary act I’ve yet to see. If you told me just a few years ago how into this band I’d be, I would have scoffed at the idea. Not because I didn’t like the band, far from it, but at the time it just wasn’t the kind of music I was into. Then after watching the Banger Films documentary of the band “Beyond the Lighted Stage”, I was sold on these guys. Hearing some of their more heavy stuff around the 90s, I was so much more interested in this legendary, now hall of fame trio than I’d ever been before. Not to mention how amazing the band sounded when they first started playing together. This is one of the biggest bands currently touring and arguably the biggest Canadian band ever. To make things difficult though, because of Neil Peart’s recent retirement from touring, it’s possible I’ll never have the opportunity to see them again. But if the opportunity comes again, I will try my damndest to be there.

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Speaking of bands I may never have the chance to see now, but could still come back for a small tour again, Judas Priest next to Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath are one of the most iconic metal bands in history. Rob Halford is an iconic frontman, an iconic singer, a legendary figure in the metal community. I wish I’d had discovered them and gotten really into them earlier, so I could’ve tried to see them before they retired from touring back in 2011, returned in 2014-2015 for their new album and haven’t had any dates since. It’s very possible that they’re done, K.K. Dowling already retired for good in 2011, who’s to say anyone else couldn’t be far behind, including of course, Rob Halford? But if they have one more tour in the future, that’s gotta be my last chance to see them. And I will not miss out on it.

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There is no act out there that I am currently desiring to see more than the unique Japanese pop metal act, Babymetal. That’s crazy to think when bands like Judas Priest, Rush and Alice Cooper are also on the list. But out of any band I’m currently listening to, there’s no group I’m listening to more than Babymetal, it’s not even close. I was also annoyed when the one time they’ve come to Canada (as far as I know), it was at the Heavy MTL festival in Montreal and I was not going out there just for that, it’s how I am. All I need is for this band to come to the major city I’m an hour-drive away from and I will be there in a heartbeat. I don’t care what the cost is. I will be there, no questions asked. That’s how much I love this band.


And that’s this week’s Top 10, hope you enjoyed it as much I did writing this! Holy hell this list could be infinitely long, so making a Top 10 was not easy (except for #4 onwards, they were guarantees) and took a lot longer than it should have to narrow down the list to only 10 bands.

Anyways folks, thanks again for reading, don’t forget to put your own lists in the comments below!

Top 10 Bands I’ve Watched Live

I’m 28 years old, so I’ve had a number of years to find and listen to a ton of music. I’ve also had plenty of time to go and see a bunch of these bands live in concert. So this week, we’re taking a break from 11 straight weeks of anime girls and having a more basic Top 10 list.

This is my Top 10 bands that I’ve seen live in concert!

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This California alternative rock band was the opening band at the first concert I ever went to, the headliner will be showing up further down the list. I had no idea who these guys were, but after their set, I certainly made a point to remember them. Playing badass songs like My GoddessUgly and Slow Drain really got my attention and their set got me more than ready for the headlining act. It’s a shame that they’re still not playing today, presumed disbanded since 2010. But that’s how a lot of bands go.

09

If a single person knows who these guys are, that’s freaking awesome! But this small band had their moments, before I ever saw them in a bar, they actually opened for Bon Jovi after winning a contest and had other success in various music contests. But it never seemed to translate into anything major for the group, which is a crying shame to me as they’re one of my favourite bands ever and that’s including all these major bands I love. But I caught them randomly one night when I was filming with a few college classmates for a project, we were filming a specific band and A Thousand Cures played before them. And they were absolutely incredible, for a band considered to be so small, they sounded so professional, their music was so refined and genuinely felt like these guys were a major act in North America. But the music industry is a cruel mistress…

08

I went to a major show earlier this year to see two bands I’d been wanting to see for years. I didn’t know Saint Asonia was even on the card and I’d never heard of them at that point. The first song played, Fairy Tale and lead singer Adam Gontier (ex-member of Three Days Grace) came out in this badass white/black striped looking suit like he was heavy metal Beetlejuice and I was hooked right off the bat. It took me a couple songs to realize that the singer was Adam from Three Days Grace and they then proceeded to play some Three Days Grace songs, which brought me heavy nostalgia as well. Their music is heavy as all hell and their set that day really got me pumped up, as if I needed to be for the bands I was seeing after them, but hey, no complaints from me. Because of that show, I now listen to these guys a ton.

07

Sometimes I don’t want to rock my ass off, sometimes I want to just mellow out. And no band has done that better than New York’s The Slackers, a ska band that releases albums and performs like it’s before the 1960s. The show I watched of this unique group live they performed in white suits, like I’d suddenly been teleported into a jazz club in the 1940s. It was such a cool show because it was so chill, I didn’t have to worry about mosh pits or any of that shit, it was a just chill out and listen kind of show and I loved it.

06

I am so glad I managed to see this band before Mike Portnoy’s exit in 2010, because ever since then I’ve been rather biased in not being as interested in Dream Theater as I was when he was still the drummer of the band. But I managed to catch the guys in the late 2000s when they opened for the act that is #1 on this list. And they played a number of songs I’d wanted to hear live, such as As I AmConstant Motion, and Pull Me Under. And it was a fantastic set, one that I am so happy I was able to get to see.

05

The band that followed Saint Asonia at that show, Alter Bridge is a band that I’d been dying to see for years and years, ever since first hearing them because of their song Metalingus, which I only knew of because it was the entrance music to WWE wrestler, Edge. Luckily for me too, they played that song during the set, which blew my mind, I did not expect that song to come out during that set. But most importantly, they played my favourite song of theirs that isn’t even a single they ever released for radio play. That song was Blackbird and if you’re familiar with Alter Bridge’s music, you know just how fucking epic that 8-minute track is. The only thing I wish was that the sun was down when they played, that song at night would’ve been incredible.

04

Another band few people will know of. But if you watched the movie Eurotrip, you might’ve actually heard this band before, they were the ones behind the song Get Loose. I managed to catch these guys once at a small show that I was actually seeing a friend of mine play at, their band being the opening act. I’d heard of The Salads before, I knew about Get Loose, but when they played their set, they became my favourite band instantly. One of my favourite records of all time is their record, The Big Picture, one of the few albums where I can easily listen to every single track on the album without wanting to skip a song. They are such a fun band to watch live and here’s a funny story:

So I’m straight-edge, I’ve never smoked or done any drugs, nor have I ever been drunk. But I came very close to breaking that streak when after that very show we were all hanging outside and the guys from the band showed up to chat with us all as well. And then the lead singer of the band who’s standing next to me, holds a joint in front of me. I had to make a split-second decision, do I refuse because I’m straight-edge or do I accept it from the lead singer of what just became my favourite band? It was close, but I ended up refusing.

03

Here’s a band I didn’t think I was ever going to see, mostly because they weren’t a band I was going to go out of my way to see. But my best friend really wanted to go and got a few tickets for us, so we went. And boy am I glad I did. For anyone that doesn’t know who Reel Big Fish are, they’re a legendary ska band, known for having some of the funniest stage shows, filled to the brim with jokes and the occasional pants getting pulled down. Again, they’re a ska band…they opened the show with ENTER FUCKING SANDMAN!!! Yup, a ska band opened with a metal song and they didn’t cover it as a ska song, they played it exactly as the song is supposed to be. From that point on, I was sold and minus the bitch that kept elbowing me from behind because she wanted to get to the very front, it was a fantastic set.

02

The only group I’ve seen twice. This was the headlining act to the first concert I ever went to live and the band that followed Alter Bridge at the most recent concert I went to. The first time I saw them, I was so excited, they were my favourite band at the time and they did not disappoint. At 14 years old I’d seen my first show and left so goddamn happy. The only sour note for me was that the didn’t play Blow Me Away, a track they provided for the video game HALO 2. Fast forward 14 years later to this year and I’m seeing them again. Halfway into the set after a medley of random tracks like Star Wars’ Imperial March, Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and Pantera’s Walk, all of a sudden I heard some background noise that sounded like a low-toned choir. And then…after 14 long years, I finally got to hear them play Blow Me Away. What a moment that was for me. Couple that with them playing the song off their new album I didn’t expect to hear live, Ashes of Eden, their set was very emotional for me, nostalgia mixed with an at that time depressed Adam who really needed something to get him back into the game.

01

But even with that emotional set from Breaking Benjamin, nothing compares to being able to see who I will argue until the end of time, one of the biggest music acts in history, Iron Maiden. After watching countless metal documentaries, seeing Sam Dunn and Banger Films’ documentary of Iron Maiden’s Flight 666 tour, I’d been dying to see this band. If there was any musical act I’d have at the top of my “bands to see before I die” list, they are that band at the top of the list. What made their set so amazing though was actually the fact that they didn’t play all the old stuff, the majority of their set was newer tracks, stuff I hadn’t even considered listening to, tracks like Ghost of the NavigatorBrave New WorldNo More Lies and the track dedicated to the late Ronnie James Dio, who had recently passed away when that concert took place, Blood Brothers. They still played a few hits like Number of the Beast and others, but it was that newer setlist that exposed me to what’s actually my favourite era of Iron Maiden. I’m one of very few that has Brave New World as my favourite Iron Maiden album of all-time and that concert was the reason for it. I still haven’t forgotten about that show and I might never forget it, it was one of the happiest moments of my entire life.


And that’s the list! Thank you so much for reading this week’s Top 10. So in the comments below, I want to hear your favourite concerts that you’ve been to and why.

Rock on!

Top 10 Iron Maiden Albums

So Iron Maiden is my favourite metal band of all-time, they’re a band that has been doing their thing for almost 40 years now (technically they have, but their first official album release was in 1980) and each album that comes out continue to be phenomenal records and they seem like even in 2016, they are still one of the best bands out there, their music isn’t getting old anytime soon it seems. So that being the case, it seems only fitting for me to give my personal top 10 of all their albums!

10

A solid record, Dance of Death was the second album released since Bruce Dickinson returned from hiatus and proved that Brave New World wasn’t a fluke, Iron Maiden was back and in full force. Some solid tracks on the album, including the nice and short Rainmaker, an epic track in No More Lies and Dance of Death, which may just have the best opening of any Iron Maiden song out there with probably my favourite opening lyric:

“Let me tell you a story to chill the bones, about a thing that I saw…”

Awesome.

09

The entire first side of this record is fantastic, MoonchildInfinite DreamsCan I Play With Madness and The Evil That Men Do, which is probably my favourite Maiden track that’s been covered, it just sounds so good when other bands play it. And The Clairvoyant is still to go on the other side! The album is a fantastic classic record in the Maiden library, epic tracks, great riffs, just a great listen.

08

I think a lot of Maiden fans really downplay how good the first two albums with Paul Di’Anno actually are and Killers is no exception. With some just badass tracks like Wrathchild and Purgatory, it’s a great album to listen to and hear just how much the sound has changed between this album and the first Bruce Dickinson album of Number of the Beast. Not that it makes Killers bad though, I do enjoy the slightly more punk-ish phase Maiden went through with these two albums, Purgatory remains one of my favourite tracks in their entire library.

07

The Trooper is on this album, need I say more? The second Dickinson album, once again proving the first effort wasn’t a fluke and this was going to be a consistent effort. With other fantastic tracks such as Where Eagles Dare and To Tame A Land (which Dream Theater does a fantastic cover of on their Black Clouds & Silver Linings record), Piece of Mind is considered a fan favourite amongst all the more classic Maiden records. I mean come on! Trooper!

06

One of the last albums I’ve actually bought a hard copy of, I was so excited to buy this album after being exposed to Maiden’s newer music after a Dream Theater/Iron Maiden show in Toronto. It was fantastic to be a part of Maiden’s #1 charting record in Canada and the music didn’t disappoint either. I pretty much adore the first half of the album without question, Satellite 15…The Final Frontier has one of the coolest intros ever and tracks like El Dorado, Mother of Mercy, Coming Home and Isle of Avalon are just wonderful tracks to listen to, especially with some of the best sound quality you can get from a Maiden record.

05

This album may not be overall better than some of the albums listed before it, but it gains a ton of points for having my favourite Maiden track of all-time on it, For The Greater Good of God on it. The track has my favourite solos, which aren’t crazy complex like other songs are and the entire beat of the song is just so powerful. Not that it’s the only good track on the album, songs like These Colours Don’t Run and The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg are also badass tracks in their own right. But yeah man, best track of all Maiden songs. Sorry, that’s my opinion!

04

Once again, I love the Paul Di’Anno records and the original Iron Maiden record is a phenomenally good record. Prowler is an intense track, Running Free is like a wicked punk track and I love my punk music, Phantom of the Opera is an epic track with a fantastic dueling guitar solo from Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton and Iron Maiden is just a classic! Especially when the album got a remastering, the tracks just sounded phenomenal and continues to be a common listen for me.

03

“We want information…information…information. Who are you? …You are number two. Who is number one? You…are number six. I AM NOT A NUMBER, I AM A FREE MAN! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

The Prisoner, fucking love that intro. Number of the Beast is considered the iconic album of the entire band’s library, the album that skyrocketed the band to new heights with Bruce Dickinson as their new vocalist and frontman. There’s so many good tracks on this album, from of course The Prisoner as I mentioned earlier and the three classics that everyone wants to hear at a live show, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Run To The Hills and of course Number of the Beast with that epic scream from Bruce Dickinson that he apparently could never replicate. This is arguably the album everyone holds up as the definitive Iron Maiden record.

But I’ve got two more to name…

02

My favourite classic Iron Maiden album. There are so many tracks on this album I adore and a ton of classics on it too. Aces High is the de facto concert opener from the band, 2 Minutes to Midnight is an iconic track from the band (which was in GTA: Vice City!) that will never grow old, Powerslave has one of the coolest sounding riffs of any Maiden song, having an Egyptian sound to these powering guitar chords and other notable tracks on the album include the 14-minute epic Rime of the Ancient MarinerFlesh of the Blade and The Duellists. There’s so much fantastic music on this album, it’s impossible to say anything bad about the album. It’s even my favourite album cover of them all.

01

Some people may be beyond shocked by this choice. “An album from the 2000s is the best Maiden album?! Are you crazy?!” Well yes I am indeed crazy, but having Brave New World as my favourite Maiden album of all-time is not one of the things that define it. There is not a single track on this album I wouldn’t skip, some of my favourite tracks are also on this album, but there’s also some sentimental value in the record. At the Iron Maiden show I went to in Toronto, it was not long after Ronnie James Dio had passed away, so they played Blood Brothers in tribute to his memory and that song has become one of my favourites, holding on its own, being the track I love to play on guitar the most. But yeah, every track is fantastic, The Wicker Man has a badass chorus, Ghost of the Navigator has a badass intro, Brave New World is an epic track with those verses, The Mercenary is a badass shorter track, Dream of Mirrors is a break from the power and a little bit of a softer track before exploding in the second half, The Fallen Angel has one of my favourite opening riffs of all Maiden’s music, The Nomad brings me back a bit to Powerslave’s style, which is always a plus, Out of the Silent Planet has a really cool sci-fi feel to it and The Thin Line Between Love and Hate is probably my favourite song for Bruce Dickinson’s vocals.

I could gush so much more on this album but what can I really say that just listening to the album in full yourselves won’t tell you in much broader detail? So yeah, Brave New World’s my favourite Maiden record!


What’s your favourite Iron Maiden albums? Don’t hesitate to list them in the comments below!

Top 10 Metal Bands (Personal Favourites)

Break out your chains, leather and…lace? This top 10 is all about heavy metal bands, going from the originals from the late 60s all the way to the present day, from the heaviest of music to the cheesiest, this isn’t just about your normal metal bands, this about everyone. Why? Cause this list isn’t about the 10 best metal bands in history, it’s just my 10 personal favourite. So remember, this list has nothing to do with a band being better than another, this is literally my 10 most favourite metal bands right now at this very moment. So please keep that in mind when reading this list.

Why am I not just doing a top 10 metal bands of all-time list? Because that’s subjective and I don’t listen to every single band or have a massive staff that have that musical range. So it makes no sense to do that, so instead I’m focusing on my own personal top 10.

10

Yes, a band whose frontman is professional wrestler Chris Jericho is on my top 10 all-time metal band list. Remember this is my personal favourites, not best overall. I really do believe that Fozzy is a super underrated band and with each album they keep getting better. Their first two albums which consisted of covers wasn’t really that great. When All That Remains came out, it was a decent album where their tracks were now original. The music was still very heavy and Jericho’s singing really sounded a lot better, likely due to the fact that this was his own songs to sing to, rather than emulating someone else. Then Chasing The Grail was released and holds my favourite all-time song from the band, Wormword, a nearly fourteen-minute epic track. Followed by newer albums Sin and Bones (which features M. Shadows on one track, Sandpaper) and Do You Wanna Start A War, the band has really shown their chops as a legitimate metal band. Unfortunately to most casual listeners, knowing the lead singer is a professional wrestler seems to turn them off the band, which is disappointing. Give them a listen if you never have before, I strongly suggest the following songs: Wormword, Lights Go Out, Sandpaper, Spider in my Mouth.

09

I love bands who mix weird genres into metal music and Enter Shikari is no different. The first time I listened to their debut album, Take to the Skies, I was immediately hooked by the uniqueness of their music. I believe I got onto them because of NHL 08 now that I think about it, Sorry You’re Not A Winner was a track in that game. The mixture of heavy metal (which seems to be argued between people, but it sounds metal to me, which for this list is all that matters) and electronic music was so different to me that I couldn’t help but notice it. Following albums like Common Dreads and A Flash Flood of Colour only cemented their spot in my playlists for possibly the rest of my life, it’s still very weird to me that my favourite song by the band is called Gandhi Mate, Gandhi. Their newest album though, The Minesweep, haven’t really gotten into that one.

08

All right, some legendary bands everyone knows. I missed the boat on this band because of the whole being born in 1988 thing. But I remember first hearing of the band with their The Black Album songs like Enter Sandman and Nothing Else Matters. It took some time though before I would dig back into their old tracks, as I never really had the initiative to do so. Then Guitar Hero and Rock Band changed my mind on that and god damn are the original albums good! Tracks like Master of Puppets, Blackened, Seek & Destroy, For Whom The Bell Tolls, the pure aggressiveness of those songs were just badass. And then with the band getting their groove back with Death Magnetic, it finally allowed me to experience Metallica in the present day, rather than catching up with the older stuff. And while I don’t listen to them as much as I used to, they are still a fantastic group when you listen to anything not from St. Anger.

07

The original metal band many would argue (because Led Zeppelin is not metal, stop it), Black Sabbath even though I don’t listen to them often, they’re on this list purely for the value of listening to the original heavy metal tracks like Black Sabbath, Iron Man, War Pigs and Paranoid and just being so mesmerized by listening to the music that created my favourite genre of music. There’s still a ton of music I haven’t listened to from them, I will admit, a lot of it simply being that there’s a ton of their songs that are either a bit off to me, perhaps not hard enough for me, or just because I have a tough time listening to much older tracks, as sound quality is something that can bother me when listening. Although Ronnie James Dio can make an old record still sound fantastic, so there’s that. And with Black Sabbath, it’s mostly about listening to the original stuff, the new stuff is certainly hit and miss, End of the Beginning is a nice callback to the old music, it does carry that feeling of Black Sabbath with it. But like Metallica, it’s a nostalgic listen more than a consistent one.

06

The first time I heard The Madness and the Damage Done, I could not believe what my ears were hearing…then I heard Fisheye and my brain exploded. “METAL AND FUCKING JAZZ?!!!” I thought in my own head listening to those tracks, it made no sense to me how those two genres of music would come together, let alone sound as good as it does. “Blackjazz” is now a thing and it’s fantastic. Following up the Blackjazz album with One One One, with tracks like I Won’t Forget and The One Inside, they really put themselves in a place where I cannot ignore them. Also, the intro to How Your Story Ends may just be the best and most badass intro to a song ever, holy shit that saxophone! And with their newest album International Blackjazz Society and the first single from it The Last Stand, it’s almost like they’ve found a way to sort of mainstream that sound. They’re fan-fucking-tastic!

05

This is a band that legitimately scared the shit out of me when I saw them at a younger age. I also honestly didn’t get the music the first time I listened to it. Then I started working factory jobs and suddenly People = Shit and (sic) sound so much better. The pure aggressive nature of the band is what really attracts me to them, songs like those I listed before are shining examples of that, there’s no stopping with them. More mainstream songs however like Psychosocial are still fantastic tracks that are a little bit easier to play in front of unsuspecting listeners. And being able to watch their music videos now without be creeped out is awesome, I love that I can watch the music video for The Devil and I without being freaked out by it. And obviously there’s value in the masks and the stage presence this band has, there’s very few bands that can come close to the freak show that is Slipknot.

04

From the freak show to the badass show, Judas fucking Priest, man! Another one of those bands I was extremely late to the party on, it took until watching VH1’s Heavy: The Story of Metal before I ever took a look at these guys (the #1 band also falling into this category) and once I did, holy shit did my mind blow and subsequently expanded to allow a ton of more music into it. British Steel, Killing Machine, Screaming for Vengeance, Painkiller, the albums just never stopped coming, more and more tracks being added to my playlists, it was a phenomenal time for me as a listener. It’s also so amazing to see how different frontman Rob Halford changed his image with age, it’s weird seeing him now and thinking this guy was clean shaven with short, blonde hair. Also the discovery of him being gay makes it even cooler and actually kind of hilarious that one of the gods of heavy metal, which is viewed as such a macho straight male kind of genre, does not fall into that category. It’s kind of funny when you think about it, these guys really brought in leather to the genre and it was taking that from the homosexual cupboard so to speak, but straight men thought it was so badass, they took it on without question. Love it!

03

Yep, a metal band that consists of a bunch of dudes in makeup and has three teenage Japanese girls as their vocalists is placed above bands like Sabbath, Priest, Metallica and Slipknot. BABYMETAL is my fucking jam right now, man! The first time I heard Gimme Chocolate, I was hooked instantly. I absolutely love Japanese culture, I think nearly anything they touch is pure gold, they know how to make even the weirdest concepts work and a heavy metal band with J-Pop influences worked tremendously. After a fantastic entry with their debut album, we just recently got their second album, which I wasn’t even sure would exist given the idol system in Japan, in Metal Resistance and it shows how the band is evolving. With their success largely outside of Japan, the music is becoming more Westernized, while keeping the spirit of the original album. You may not hear tracks as blatantly J-Pop as Doki Doki Morning, but tracks like Meta Taro still exist. But with these amazing tracks like Karate and The One now in their playlist, they’re headed in a direction I am more than happy to follow and I hope they stick around long enough for a third album, though my fear is the band will continue on, but refresh the singers with younger talent instead of letting them do this (if they want to continue on, of course) until they grow old, which would be the band members first at this point.

02

I will never tire of listening to this band, Dream Theater could release a single song that’s over two hours in length and I will listen to it. Mind you it’s been a tough transition with legendary drummer Mike Portnoy no longer with the band (that’s okay, I got The Winery Dogs out of this), but there are newer tracks I’m still into. The majority of my listening though are there 2000s albums, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Train of Thought, Octavarium, Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Anything older and newer has been hit and miss for me, but those five albums are fucking phenomenal. The heavy riffs, the guitar solos, the keyboard solos, the amazing drum fills, it’s all there with this band. It’s amazing that a band this talented never garnered any legitimate mainstream attention, but then again the mainstream music industry is retarded and rewards looks over talent more than anything, but I digress. Also, this band being one of the few acts I’ve gone to see live (cause I’m not a concert go-er, I don’t like big crowds), really puts them in a high place for me.

But then again, there’s still the #1 band on this list and they just happened to be the headliner of the show I watched Dream Theater open…

01

There is no band in the history of music that I respect, love and have listened to more than Iron Maiden. This is a band that released their first album in 1980 and minus the two albums that Blaze Bayley replaced Bruce Dickinson for, every album has been fantastic and just keeps staying the status quo as the best metal band of all-time for me. The original Paul Di’Anno albums: awesome! The seven albums leading up to Bruce’s temporary departure from the band: amazing! And the newest five albums from them, when most of these acts tend to be nowhere near as good as their 80s and 90s work? I’d honestly put two of these albums in the top 5 all-time Maiden albums. Come to think of it, I think I have my top 10 list for next week! But yeah, there’s nothing I can say about Iron Maiden that isn’t me gushing, the guitarists (all three of them!) are phenomenally talented, their bassist is just as good, the drums are fantastic and come on, Bruce Dickinson is possibly the best metal frontman of all time. AND I HAVEN’T EVEN MENTIONED EDDIE YET!!! This band is the fucking best man, and I will argue everyone to no end on this!


So I hope you enjoyed this list, don’t forget to leave your own personal top 10s in the comments below!

 

REVIEW: BABYMETAL – Metal Resistance

01

I’ve been looking forward to a second BABYMETAL album since hearing the first one, but I was unsure if I’d ever get to hear one. Japan is a strange beast when it comes to musical acts. I wasn’t sure if the band would be around long enough, as the girls may “graduate” from the group, perhaps it’s a whole new set of girls, there were a lot of possibilities I wondered about. But luckily it was all me freaking out and the second album is a real thing, released on April Fools no less.

So here’s my first album review, we’ll do it by track.

01. Road to Resistance

This song has been around for a while, even longer than the single ‘Karate’, which we’ll get to. I’m surprised this song was on the album, I did not expect this song to be put on it. Right away you can hear the Dragonforce addition to this track and it creates a much different style than we’re used to hear with BABYMETAL, there’s no extra gimmick to this song, it’s a straight-forward speedy melodic metal track. Even Su-metal’s vocals are set up similar to how Dragonforce songs are song. The only thing I don’t like about this song is that the pre-chorus sounds a bit rushed, lyrically, like they’re trying to fit too many words in so little time. I’ve actually tried to play this song due to fan-generated Rocksmith content, minus the crazy solos the song is actually super fun to play, I love the chord progression of this song. Also, the clear Dragonforce “Whoa-oh-oh-ohhhhhh!” is sung is this song as well, which never gets old honestly.

02. KARATE

I’m absolutely fucking addicted to this track. Ever since the single was released I’ve been listening to it non-stop, this song got me super hyped for the new album. The opening riff is badass, I still need to figure it out myself, want to play it so badly. Then the song devolves into the usual routine, cheesy verse with Moa and Yui and then Su just takes it over. Her pre-chorus and chorus vocals in this song are off the charts tremendous, it’s badass and beautiful at the same time, it’s mind-blowing for me that something so beautiful can also be so badass. Another thing that’s really incredible about this song is just how well the drums really pound this song into your head, particularly in the opening riff and chorus. Finishing near the end with that softer part, this song really comes off like a legitimate heavy metal track you might actually hear on the radio. Honestly if this song wasn’t in Japanese, I’d expect to hear this on the radio and if it were up to me I’d have this on the radio regardless. An incredible track, my favourite one on this album without question.

03. Awadama Fever

Hello crazy techno intro. This song is super happy for a track with such a tough, scratching guitar track. I could see a song like this being edited down to 90 seconds for an anime intro, it’s happy enough that it could work in spades for a show. I’m a little disappointed in this track with how none of the instruments are really easy to hear, it’s all meshed together into this techno-ish track, over-edited a bit to match the style they were probably going for in this song. This song though really lets Moa and Yui get their stuff in a little more and it works wonders vocally. It’s really the music that bugs me on this track.

04. YAVA!

Holy crap I thought I was about to face a final boss listening to that intro. This is a much better sounding track with techno influence, the guitar in the verse has a rough ska feeling to it as well, which is double awesome. They let the instruments sound much clearer in this track, which works wonders compared to the previous track. The drum track in the chorus is perfect, makes it feel even faster than the song actually is, it’s a lot slower than it sounds but the drums really hammer it home. My favourite is definitely the synthesizer sections in the track, they really give the song its own charm here.

05. Amore

Time for a slower track, something more similar to Ijime, Dame, Zettai…or at least that’s what I thought. Then the dueling guitar solos start and holy shit I’m way into this track. This song actually sounds a lot more like a mixture of Ijime, Dame, Zettai and Akatsuki, a bit of the softer stuff but then going right back into the faster, harder section. Also, holy shit that bass solo! This song is full of great soloing sections, a guitarist’s paradise to say the least. Just kick back and listen to your wrists getting sore from the craziness of the guitars in this song.

06. Meta Taro

I thought Anamanaguchi was about to play a track for us instead. The transition between that 8-bit intro and the actual song is so odd that I’m not even sure whether I like it because it’s such a weird transition, or if I’m actually weirded out by this choice. We went from Anamanaguchi to Van Canto or something like Nightwish without warning in this track, it’s definitely a weird amalgamation of musical styles. My ears were not prepared for this track. AND THIS ISN’T MY FIRST TIME LISTENING TO BABYMETAL, HOW DID THEY DO THIS?!!!

07. From Dusk Till Dawn

Right off the bat, this song does tell me they’re trying to commercialize the band a little more, likely due to their viral success overseas in North America and Europe. This track sounds a lot like your standard emo metal music that you’d hear in a Hot Topic or something. This is a BABYMETAL track that actually sounds like something and not its own, I’m not sure whether to be disappointed that it’s not overly weird or happy with them because they’re making an effort to gain real traction worldwide. There’s more to the song though, get that little bit of dubstep mix in there like Uki Uki ★ Midnight did on their last album, but it’s not nearly as prevalent as that track was with it.

08. GJ!

I imagine this song will be an opening track for a lot of their shows, they can use that intro riff and extend it as long as they want to get the crowd ramped up for the girls’ arrival. The song also is a great introduction of what the band is, a bit of everything you expect from BABYMETAL, the heavy rift, the cheesy talking verses (which they’ll probably have really silly dances to), the silly sound effects added in like the cartoon doink at the 2-minute mark. Now that I think about it, this might actually be a song where Su isn’t the center focus of the track, it sounds like Yui and Moa are getting the majority of the work in this track.

09. Sis. Anger

There’s clearly a lot of Western influences throughout this album, I feel like this song has a lot of Slipknot influence to it, of course getting the ever-so-awesome BABYMETAL treatment put over it. The chorus is creepy as fuck too, it sounds like a happy death march, a set of three words you didn’t think would work together. If there’s anything I can criticize about this track is the lack of melody with the vocals, it’s not that great with BABYMETAL having the same small range of vocals with these girls. The track is still badass, but I would’ve liked a little more of that Su-metal vocal flair to it.

10. No Rain, No Rainbow

Awww shit, now we’re breaking out the piano. It’s like a cheesy romantic track, only in Japan can you have that on an album with this much speed metal and have the double bass going on in the background with the piano. The song keeps ramping up, adding in the guitars and some violins. Now that I think about it, it comes off a lot like a Queen track, that’s really awesome now that I think about it. Anything with Queen having to do with it is going to be a soft spot for me. Nice slower guitar solos as well, which are always great (and not just because I might be able to play them) to me.

11. Tales of the Destinies

Wow, the mixture of progressive metal influences in this song. Let me rattle off a few names just to give you an idea of how many different acts I heard in this song. Dream Theater with those beautiful synths, Opeth with the soft, yet super heavy riffs, Between the Buried and Me with the very quick and sometimes silly guitar melodies. That’s just three acts that I heard within the first 30 seconds. This song might as well be called “Tales of Prog Metal”. Though as the song drags on longer, the Dream Theater influence becomes the shining majority, the cheesy wild west piano, the synths, the Mike Portnoy classic drum beats, yeah I could see this being on one of their albums. This is song is so awesome, it’s a shame that KARATE is so good because I’d love to show this track to people first, but KARATE’s just gotta be that first track.

12. THE ONE (English Version)

Where was this song released in Japanese? I haven’t heard it before. Upon research, turns out this track is in Japanese if you buy it in Japan. That’s bullshit, why not release them both? The song was the second single put up on their YouTube channel which was badass, though the song is a little weird to me, mainly because since I hear it all in English, it ruins the experience of not knowing if the song is repeating itself constantly with its lyrics. Having the song in full English ruins that experience, since I can understand the lyrics being sung. However, Su-metal’s English is actually really good, she doesn’t have the usual funny syllables that Japanese singers always struggle with, she’s clear 95% of the time, a few syllable transitions she doesn’t quite get out fluently, but it’s still great nonetheless. This track is also coming with a lot of Dream Theater influence I think. The main problem with this song, Yui and Moa are barely present at all in this song. Is it because they can’t sing English much? Either way, the song suffers without the two of them being an integral part of the song as much as Su always is.


Final Thoughts

I was so hyped for this album and while it wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be (after all, I’m basing this off the incredible previous album) it’s still one of the best albums I’ll be listening to this year, I think. BABYMETAL is such a different beast musically and that’s a large part of why I love them as much as I do, they’re so different from anything else I listen to. There are a few fantastic tracks on the album with of course KARATE, Tales of the Destinies and Road to Resistance. There’s your classic weird ones like Awadama Fever and YAVA! and of course the newer more Westernized additions like THE ONE and From Dusk Till Dawn. There’s a lot more for outside audiences to find and like, while their first album was purely something you had to be really open to enjoy if you’d never listened to anything Japanese before. But man, if you like metal at all, you have to give this album a listen for sure!

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Anime Spotlight: Your Lie In April

Art by Meg Simmons - http://megzilla87.storenvy.com/
Art by Meg Simmons – http://megzilla87.storenvy.com/

***Obviously, there will be spoilers for the entire series in this article***

If you’ve been reading any of the prior Anime Spotlight articles I’ve done, you’ll have seen my article on Anohana and how to me it’s the king of anime that makes you cry.

For me, this is the show that’s next in line to the throne.

The show itself seems like it’ll be a really happy show and for a while it is. The story revolves around child prodigy pianist Kousei who essentially quit from playing piano when he was younger. When meeting a female violinist in Kaori, she completely blows him away with her carefree style of playing, giving him an entire new look on music. Though he doesn’t intend to ever resume playing piano, when the two of them start to get closer together she drags him kicking and screaming back into playing piano. It’s a light-hearted, happy series of episodes in the beginning.

But then shit gets real.

01
Kousei (child)

As Kousei begins to try to play the piano again, we get an EXTREMELY dark backstory to Kousei’s childhood leading up to when he decided to never play the piano again. Everything was normal at first, a friend of his mother (Hiroko) urged her to let Kousei learn how to play the piano after seeing the talent he had. His mother was also a well-known pianist herself. When she fell ill however, things drastically changed. She pulled Kousei away from Hiroko and started teaching him herself, but in far worse ways. She turned him into what he would be later nicknamed as “The Human Metronome”, not letting him play a song any differently, forcing him to play exactly as it’s written, no change in speed, no flair, just note for note perfection. And if he failed to do so, she would beat him. Yay, child abuse!

After winning a major competition, presumably not playing the song perfectly regardless, his mother beats him in front of everyone and draws blood. It’s then that Kousei finally snaps and tells her that he wished she would just die already. A matter of days later, she does just that. Instead of feeling happiness however, Kousei becomes ridden with guilt, claiming full responsibility for her health suddenly turning even worse and dying not long after. It didn’t help that they never spoke after he told her to die. So days later at another competition his mind has gotten so fucked up from all the mental trauma, he becomes tone deaf and breaks down, thus his intent to never play again.

Kaori & Kousei
Kaori & Kousei

It’s when Kaori comes into the fold that Kousei begins to find his stride in music again. While in the early going his tone deafness still takes over, he slowly begins to get over it. Later on we learn Kaori originally played piano but took up violin because she wanted to play with Kousei and not against him. She gets him over the course of the series to get back into playing, not just alone and with her, but accompanying her in violin competitions, teaching young prodigies, and even entering competitions again. Because of this relationship they share, he slowly begins to develop feelings for her, which he doesn’t admit because he’s aware she’s already in a relationship with his best friend, Ryota. But more problems arise in the long run and that’s when things really start to get depressing.

01

As if Kousei’s life wasn’t depressing enough, Kaori has been ill since she was a child, though we’re never told specifically what medical problems she had. What we know in the long run was she’d been in and out of hospital since she was little. We start to see things are getting worse after she starts playing with Kousei, collapsing and being hospitalized a lot more often. Even though she can’t be around for Kousei as much, she’s constantly phoning him and texting him to keep him in check, making sure he’s staying on the path she’s been setting him on since they first met. I spent the entire series hoping for the happy ending, she ends up being cured of her illness, they share a tender moment, woo hoo! But it just gets worse and worse and worse until it gets to the point that you have that sinking feeling in your heart when you know the inevitability of what’s going to happen by the end of the series.

The last 6-8 episodes are extremely difficult to get through, especially towards the very end. When Kaori’s condition worsens, so does the core of your very soul, watching such a person so full of life having it all sucked out of her. And they keep stacking on the pain, watching Kousei’s other best friend Tsubaki struggle with her own feelings for him, which with Kousei’s love for Kaori are pretty much ignored.

01

The final episode is a bittersweet ending to a very tough emotional roller coaster of a 22-episode series. Kaori has indeed passed away and leaves Kousei a note explaining her medical history but leaving him with an even tougher pill to swallow. She actually wasn’t in love with Ryota at all, she was in love with him. It’s not an fun ending to watch, it’s a purely saddening end to what we all hoped to be a happy show by the end.

Like Anohana, Your Lie in April is a show that is all about the feels. It’s meant to challenge your mental fortitude in a number of ways and doesn’t pull any punches when it wants to go full on sad. Did I cry watching this show? Kind of, not the level Anohana did for me, but it made me feel really shitty by the very end, that’s for sure. It’s a great story, albeit a depressing one. But if you can handle tear-jerkers, this one’s right up your alley.

This is where I turn into a giant hipster (AMAs)

I mean look, I’m trying my ass off here not to judge people when it comes to the artists and groups that get nominated and then win the awards features at the Billboard American Music Awards.

But it’s really hard.

It’s so hard not to judge from an award show that is entirely based on who sold records for the industry this year (aka “fan voting”). It’s not a true fan vote, the nominees are chosen basically based on sales and social media presence, which will always be the overplayed artists and songs that anyone outside of the mainstream music scene wants to cut themselves over every time they hear.

I haven’t listened to FM radio (by choice) since I was in high school. I’m 27 now. Almost every FM station today is a two-hour (if you’re lucky) loop of the same songs and artists with a few random ones thrown in. I get the argument that they play the hits almost every hour so everyone has a chance to hear it that day. But y’know we have phones that can play whatever song we want now, right?

It’s baffling to me how people get so sucked into this shit. It only proves just how much of the current day society are simply sheep. They just follow and do what they’re told to do, like what they’re told to like. Are all the AMA nominees and winners terrible? Kind of, yes. But I wouldn’t have a problem of them existing if it wasn’t blatantly obvious that the only reason they’re even famous in the first place is because millions upon millions of dollars got thrown behind them, turned into a rocket and shot up their asses, propelling them to the top.

I mean, if you truly like those artists and groups, then good for you. But I know that a lot of these “fans” are only in love with them because they’re exposed to them constantly and told how awesome (and hot) they are.

Register for Spotify if you haven’t already and fill up your library with stuff you like. Then click on the weekly Discover option and only click on the names you haven’t heard of on that list. You’d be surprised how many good ones there are in there. And you know for a fact you’d never give them the time of day because the radio stations and record companies don’t want you to listen to them cause they didn’t spend all the money on them.

Quit being so fucking lazy, find your own music.