I has found some new (to me) awesome. My mate Jenesis tweeted a link to a video by a band called Dream Evil. Since Jen has largely impeccable taste in music (by which I mean that he likes the same stuff I do ) I gave it a listen … three minutes and 26 seconds NOT wasted:
Newly a fan, I checked out some more, such as:
Seriously, how could you not love a song called “Fire, Battle, Metal!”?
Wikipedia tells me that the band was put together a bit oddly; in fact “until the moment the first promotional photos were shot, the entire band had never been in the same place at the same time before. Some members did not even know each other.” Despite that, they rock. Very much. There are shades of Maiden, shades of Priest, they’re named after a Dio album … Well cool. \m/ Some of it is also rather reminiscent of Malmsteen’s vocal stuff.
Saturday was a good day. Among other enjoyable things, mrs tsuken and I went to Utopia Records in central Sydney. There I got a sweet Iron Maiden tshirt (Number of the Beast) which greatly interests Miss 5, and she now recognises Eddie. \m/
I also picked up the new(ish) Ratt album: Infestation. I had heard good things about it, but wasn’t prepared for just how great it is. The first thing that struck me was that they haven’t got grungey or nü-metally at all. This is great old-school Ratt-style hair metal. It sits perfectly with Detonator, which is one of my favourite hair metal albums ever (and therefore of course one of my favourite albums of any style. 8)
Herewith my impressions track by track…
Eat Me Up Alive: excellent opener. Classic Ratt riff to begin – though with a grittier, more organic guitar tone. Catchy chorus, excellent guitar work. Classic Ratt (welcome back).
Best of Me: fantastic. Starts with a riff that could sit on Invasion of Your Privacy. Has some neat chords in the verse, and a perfect prechorus: catchy, great backing vocals, cool arpeggiated guitar. The chorus is fantastic and very catchy – reminiscent of Run Around, to my ears. The solo is much, much win – but basically every bit of lead playing on the album is awesome. I haven’t picked out what’s Warren DeMartini and what’s Carlos Cavazo, but they’re both plying brilliantly.
A Little Too Much: again it could be on Detonator. The verse chords are the sort of slightly twisted harmony (as compared to most hair metal at any rate) Ratt often did. The chorus is fantastic: catchy, excellent backing vocals. I’m guessing the solo is Cavazo (he was in Quiet Riot, right? So played the solo on Cum On Feel the Noize?)
Look Out Below: dirty swing – nicely finding the tension between straight and swung. I don’t find it as catchy or immediately appealing as the last three, but it’s much cool. At the end I notice that DeMartini and Cavazo might be separated left and right – even the lead parts.
Last Call – very cool guitar riffs under the vocals. Great backing vocals. Neat bluesy/boogie interludes before the choruses – which again make excellent use of a call-refrain with the backing vocals. Cool harmony guitar solo – and at this point I’m thinking Warren’s on the right.
Lost Weekend: yep, I reckon Warren’s on the right, with a great intro lead. This song brings in some harder elements in the chorus, mixed with classic Ratt throughout. Great bridge!! Oh that’s excellent. The solo is totally choice of course.
As Good as it Gets: slightly odd intro/chorus riff, with a recurring chromatic note that’s slightly jarring in fairly typical Ratt fashion. The chorus doesn’t really grab me, but it’s still cool. More harmony guitars and cool soloing.
Garden of Eden: this doesn’t really sound like classic … oh … now the vocals have come in, and it does. The chorus (and much of the rest of the song – except he prechorus) sounds more hard rock than hair metal. The solo I would think was Cavazo, but sounded slightly to the right until it got panned hard left at the end. 1. That does me think I’m right about Warren being on the right. 2. I’m guessing my earbuds aren’t in that well, so I’ve been hearing centre slightly right.
Take a Big Bite: another medium tempo Ratt rocker with call-refrain between lead and backing vocals. And more great harmony (and traded) lead playing.
Take Me Home: ballad time! The chorus is reminding me of someone else, but I can’t think who. To be honest I find the ascending movement in the chords in the chorus a bit jarring. ah – that’s more Ratt (the bridge). Lovely solo – I’m picking DeMartini. Hmmm – now there’s soloing on the left over the chorus. Whatever; I don’t know Cavazo’s playing hardly at all anyway. I’m just going to listen and enjoy now
Don’t Let Go: an up-tempo rocke to close out the album. Pretty much classic Ratt, but with noticeably heavier guitar styling in the prechorus. They’re still sticking closely to classic pop/rock song structures, with catchy prechoruses and bridges – which I love.
I really do loathe autotune. For any readers who don’t know, autotune is a technology that can alter the pitch of individual notes in an audio recording. It’s typically used to “fix” vocalists’ tracks, when they’re not spot-on the notes. When turned up high it can create the metallic robot voice you hear on a lot of music nowadays (you whippersnappers, varmints, just wait’ll I…), but at lower levels it’s … well I think it sounds annoying and intrusive, and I also very much dislike the whole concept – I liken it to photoshopping (as you can see in the big discussion in the comments to the post linked above.
I had a notion a while ago of recording myself singing something, and applying autotune to it, so as to compare with and without. I finally got around to doing that on the weekend, using the wonderful Deep Purple (Coverdale era) song, Soldier of Fortune. In the embedded YouTube clip below you’ll hear first me singing as is, then the same clip with varying levels of autotune:
First (despite receiving a compliment this morning about my singing): I apologise for the dodgy vocals. Once was a time when I thought my singing was ok. Time was when I could sing Victim of Changes and Dreamer Deceiver by Judas Priest, and have Wasted Time by Skid Row for dessert. Now after a few good notes I start to sound like Axl Rose. So, I’m sorry – but at least this is low enough that I don’t turn into Axl.
Second, my conclusion:
“I’d like to think I can tell the difference between this [the version with autotune at 50%] and the non-autotuned version. However, to be perfectly honest, I’m not 100% sure I can.
Point is then: if when autotune makes a difference it’s bad, and when it’s not bad it doesn’t make a difference …
Why use it?”
The 75% version did correct a few dodgy notes, but to my ears it doesn’t sound natural. I fancy I can hear a bit less of the same thing with the 50% version, but I know that I might be hearing what I believe. – But, if that’s the case, then it makes no difference, and there’s no point to using it. And since when it does make a difference it sounds unnatural and lacking a bit of life (ok, to my ears it sounds like that), what’s the point using it?
The robot voice thing with the autotune wound all the way up … personally I hate it, but at that level it’s an annoying effect, rather than the audio equivalent of using photoshop to polish up a photo of a supermodel.
Peter Hodgson from iHeartGuitar tweeted this link today, to an absolutely hilarious page on Cracked: Old School Heavy Metal Fans. It consists mainly of a list of “101 ways you know you’ve been a Heavy Metal fan for too long”. I briefly posterous’d the standout ones for me, but here I’m going to go through them – and yes: explain the one single, simple, silly and slightly sad reason I don’t follow Eddie Trunk on Twitter
3. You don’t know the words to the national anthem but you know all the words to Stairway to Heaven, including the extra bits on the live version
Well duh. I lived and breathed The Song Remains the Same for a looong time. Hardly need to explain that one. 8)
7. You know there is absolutely nothing gay at all about grown men dressing in makeup, lingerie and spandex, playing for an all male audience, and gradually disrobing by the gig’s end.
Again duh. I was a teenager in the 80s, listening to 80s metal. Spandex and big hair rule. It is not gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with it if it is.
But it’s not.
21. You’re suspicious of metalheads with short hair, and doubt whether they’re ‘really into it’.
This. This is why I cannot take seriously Eddie Trunk, or his co-hosts on That Metal Show. Yes, they appear to know a lot, and be deeply into the scene, but … FFS their hair! One looks like Charlie Sheen. Another I would swear is Stewart Copeland. And Eddie Trunk himself looks like that kind of nerdy kid who wanted to be associated with the metal crowd, so the hair was a bit longer than a crewcut, but … nah. Try as I might, my wife and I just cannot take him seriously, or watch That Metal Show. And I haven’t been able to bring myself to follow him on Twitter.
Maybe silly, but …. Dude! Hair!
29. You regard Ozzy-era Black Sabbath and Dio-era Black Sabbath as two completely different bands.
30. You’ve had arguments with friends over which era of Sabbath was the best, and the Ian Gillan era never rates a mention.
Another duh. If you need me to explain this, I don’t think I can do so in a way that would make sense to you. It just is.
The ones about disagreements with one’s wife around metal and associated paraphenalia aren’t relevant for me, as my wife remains a metalhead. 8)
42. You and your metalhead friends can pinpoint the precise time when Metallica started to suck, but it’s different for all of you.
My wife and I were discussing this just today, as it happens. And yes, it’s different for us: I say their slide started immediately after Master of Puppets (and I’m right), but she says it’s after the Black Album (not that she likes anything on Justice … just sayin’)
55. You grow a beard and some drunk yells “Hey Jesus” from across the street.
Well … ummm… yeah.
57. You remember heavy metal before it was called heavy metal.
I thought I’d add this one, with major reference to my obsessive listening to In A Gadda Da Vida, by Iron Butterfly.
Amazing stuff, that. Remember that was back in 1968. Listen to what Erik Braun was doing with the guitar – 43 years ago.
58. You remember when heavy metal singers could actually sing.
Yeah. Already blogged about this. Back when singers actually sang. Those where the days, not that you young whippersnappers would know anything about that. Why I oughta! Get off my lawn you damn ….
76. When someone asks you if you’ve heard any good Nu-metal you immediately think of a new Saxon CD.
Well, don’t just take it from me:
Pull your head back
Hold your hands high
Shake your body
If it’s too loud
And your brain hurts
Fill your heads with heavy metal thunder
(Heavy Metal Thunder, by Saxon)
88. You remember when you first heard Black Sabbath and it scared the shit out of you.
Not just the band; the song Black Sabbath in particular: that tritone – before it got hammered to death by all and sundry – was the most monstrous thing I think I’d ever heard up to that point. Absolutely amazing. Totally blew me away.
And of course:
101. You hate the fact all your favourite metal bands are now referred to as ‘Classic Rock.’
Something a little different for music Monday today: an exhortation to get thee to iTunes and buy White Wine in the Sun, by Tim Minchin. Tim Minchin is donating the proceeds from sales of this song to a secular charity (while he hasn’t specified which charity, he is awesome and thoughtful, and I feel confident he’ll make a good choice).
So why this topic today? It follows this tweet from Minchin:
Pls RT! From Nov21-Jan1, all proceeds from my version of White Wine in the Sun will go to a secular charity. http://tinyurl.com/whitewine
White Wine in the Sun was included on a Christmas album produced to raise money for the Salvation Army. A number of whackaloons have their collective knickers in a knot about the lyrics of the song, deeming it offensive and referring to it as “a sick joke”.
From memory, herewith some of the offensive lyrics:
I’m not expecting big presents.
The usual combination of socks jocks and chocolates is just fine by me.
‘Cause I’ll be seeing my dad.
My brothers and sisters, my gran and my mum.
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun.
Bloody hell that’s terrible, right?
What they’re actually worked up about is lines like:
I am hardly religious…
I don’t go in for churches. Some of the songs have nice chords but the lyrics are spooky.
I’m looking forward to Christmas.
Though I’m not expecting a visit from Jesus…
Thin-skinned much? Because Tim Minchin isn’t hiding his atheism, it’s a sick joke that he sings a song about liking Christmas? Come on!
He even comments against the commercialisation of the religious significance:
I have all the usual exceptions
To the commercialisation of an ancient religion
To the westernisation of a dead Palestinian press-ganged into selling playstations
I’m the same as Minchin on this, and like him I say: “But I still really like it”. 8)