The importance of music videos is something that has been discussed for many years now. Since streaming and torrent sites like Pirate Bay became the most common way to purchase music and the sales of records went down big time, the need for music videos more or less disappeared – at least for some years. Back when, videos existed only as a marketing product, a way to sell more records and when the sales went down, record companies couldn’t motivate to put out the dough for them. Also, shows like MTV has almost stopped playing any music videos and important rock shows like Headbanger’s Ball hasn’t been around since the early 90’s. But in later years more and more bands have started to make them again. YouTube is now an important source for marketing music and many bands are posting videos there to make a name for themselves. Me, I used to love watching rock videos but in later years I really don’t have time to watch them much – I do occasionally but mostly I look for videos to post here on my site. And that’s how I discovered Kobra And The Lotus, a band I had heard of and read about but never listened to. I was searching for promo videos for my Liv Sin review when Kobra And The Lotus’ video for their latest single “You Don’t Know” showed up in the video flow. I decided to give it a spin to see what they were all about and what do you know, it really hit home. Which in turn resulted in me checking out their new album. So I guess that music videos are relevant today after all.
To most people, Whitesnake are David Coverdale’s band. Today – and for the last 30 years or so – that is obviously the case. Whitesnake are Coverdale’s solo project more than a band now. But even though David Coverdale was the mastermind behind Whitesnake and the guy who put the band together, it’s not fair to give him all the credits for the band’s early years – the band that to me is the true Whitesnake, the band that existed between 1978 – 1984. Because without taking anything from Coverdale, Whitesnake would never have been the brilliant band it was without guys like guitarists Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody. Both of them were involved in the song writing and so was, a little later, Mel Galley (RIP). Then we had bassist Neil Murray, to me the finest bass player in rock ever – his groove was pivotal to Whitesnake’s sound and the way they were swinging. Add players like drummers Ian Paice and Cozy Powell and organist Jon Lord and it’s quite easy to figure out just what a rhythmic behemoth old Whitesnake were. I am probably far from alone in wishing for a reunion between Coverdale, Marsden, Moody and Murray. Closer to a reunion than bands like The Snakes, M3 and Company Of Snakes – all featuring Moody, Marsden and Murray we will never get, I’m guessing.
Back in 1990, melodic hard rock, glam, sleaze and AOR (the phrase “hair metal” is stupid, wrong and there has never been a music genre called that ever and I will never use it) was still big business and bands such as Winger, Slaughter, Cinderella, Poison, Skid Row, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe were still the shit (not that any of them sounded the same…), selling large amounts of records and touring, playing for large crowds. But it would only take a few years for those bands to be a musical pariah, being ridiculed by the same fans who once banged their heads in the front row to them. Some bands – Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and older bands such as Aerosmith could still hold a big crowd and some bands were given more crap than others. Winger is one example – for reasons unknown because they were always a great band with their own style. Poison was another, in their case more understandable. And then there were Warrant. The band released their debut album Dirty Rotten Stinking Filthy Rich back in 1989 and due to a bunch of hit singles, that album shipped platinum in the US. The follow-up, 1990’s Cherry Pie, with the title track being the song most people know them from, was an even bigger success and it looked like there was nothing that could stop the band from being a huge act.
When Sister Sin called it quits back in 2015, it came as a huge surprise to more or less everyone who had followed the band throughout the years. Few bands seemed more committed to their music than Sister Sin. The band released records every second year and they toured their asses off as soon as they possibly could. To me, it looked like Sister Sin would be in it for the long run, a band that would never give in until they had achieved what they set out to get – world domination. And if you ask me, I believed that they would have gotten really big if they had toughen it out for a few more years. That’s easy for me to say, though – it’s not that it is an easy task to try to live on playing heavy metal nowadays when people don’t wanna pay for music anymore. But read any interview with lead singer / front woman Liv Jagrell, now Liv Sin, and you would find a woman obsessed with music and who loved every inch of being in a recording and touring band – yes, it was a shock to hear that they had decided to go separate ways. Now, the split wasn’t Liv’s fault or decision – she never wanted the band to end. If it had been up to her, Sister Sin would still be alive and well and out there kicking butts as we speak.
Some bands make it big and some don’t. Some bands don’t deserve to make it big (because they suck) and some bands really do. Unfortunately, the God of success don’t give flying f**k about how talented you are or how many great songs you have written, he/she just throws success out to the ones that comes around when he’s/she’s in a good mood. Well, it’s not that easy but sometimes you wonder why shitty artists sells gazillions of records and other artist with enough talent to sell doesn’t even sell records to their friends’ friends. But as we know, the world isn’t a fair place and sometimes shit just don’t work. One band I was sure would be a giant of rock is Canadian melodic hard rock band Harem Scarem. Even though they released their second – and probably their most famous – album Mood Swings in 1993 when grunge was about to kick everything melodic hard rock into the trash bin, I thought that they would rise above that. They had already released a self titled debut album in 1991, an album I didn’t know existed until a few years ago, without getting international attention much, but with the second release, things started to move upward for the band. But my interest in the band would be short-lived.
A year ago, when British / Swedish classic hard rock band Inglorious released their self titled debut, there was a really big buzz surrounding the band. People like Brian May called them “a potent young Deep Purple” and producer Kevin Shirley said that Inglorious were “the best band I have heard since – I could say The Darkness, but I really mean Led Zeppelin”. Big words to live up to for a new up-coming band. And when the album was released, both rock fans and reviewers all over the world stood united – this band is awesome, the album is awesome and the album deserves to be huge! How huge said album finally became in the end, I’m not sure – at least not sales wise. But quality wise, it’s a monster of an album, full of classic hard rock where influences from bands such as Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Rainbow, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith – 70’s based hard rock with a touch of the 80’s. So what have the band been up to after the release of their self-produced debut then? Well, the band has been touring and touring and writing and recording the follow-up.
The first time I ever heard of Ayreon was back in 2000. I was on vacation in Sicily with my then girlfriend. Since I get restless after five minutes lying in the sun doing nothing I always bring with me magazines and books to read and this noon, I was lying on our very large balcony reading a mag called Bright Eyes Magazine – that later turned into Sweden Rock Magazine – and in there was a pretty big coverage of Ayreon. The article was about Ayreon’s then new Universal Migrator twin releases The Dream Sequencer and Flight Of The Migrator. Now I found the whole project really interesting, both musically and the story the albums were based on. What also caught my eye was that founder, project leader and conductor Arjen Anthony Lucassen (once guitarist in Dutch melodic rockers Vengeance) had managed to recruit no one other than Iron Maiden air raid siren Bruce Dickinson (yes, THE Bruce Dickinson, but without any cow bell (sic!)). I figured that if this project sucked, there’s no way he would participate in it. Still Dickinson or no Dickinson, I found the project so interesting that I just had to check it out. Remember, back then there was no Spotify or Pirate Bay or whatever source people use these days to check out new music. If you wanted to listen before buying, you had to go to a record store and do so. I couldn’t be arsed with doing so so I looked up a second-hand record store, got lucky and found both albums and bought them unheard.
I’ve been a Kiss fan for almost all of my life. When I was a kid, most guys were Kiss fans even if you haven’t heard a note from them. You loved Kiss and that was that. We had all seen the pics and everybody knew of them and Kiss were the shit. One day, my very cool – and three years my senior – neighbor asked me if I wanted to buy his cassette of Kiss Alive (1975) and of course, that was a no-brainer. I had never heard a note from Kiss, but Hell, it was Kiss, man – I just had to have it. So I got the money from my mom and the cassette was mine. I will never ever forget the feeling when I put the tape into my small player and the intro “You Wanted the best…” followed by the opening riff of “Deuce” broke loose. I was stunned, floored, knocked for six. I had never heard anything like it before and that was all it took for the seven-year old me to become a fan. A real fan that had actually heard their music, that is. After that, I saved up all my money to buy Kiss (and Sweet, to be honest) records and cassettes.
I admit, I haven’t heard a single note from this band prior to this album. I know the band only by name but I have never been bothered at all to check them out. The reason for that, of course, is that Labÿrinth always have been associated with power metal, the European kind, the kind that I have no love for at all. Labÿrinth are also an Italian band and Italian and German power metal bands are usually the worst kind. I don’t want to piss anybody off, but that’s how I feel, that’s my taste in music and that’s the explanation. The band was formed in Massa, Italy back in 1991 but it would take them up until 1996 to release their debut album No Limits although they had released two E.P.s prior to that. The singer on that first album was one Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire, Angra, Kamelot, Eternal Idol), but he was replaced by Roberto Tiranti (then called Rob Tyrant) from album # 2 and onwards. However, Tiranti left the band in 2014 to try to go solo and was replaced by one Mark Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Royal Hunt) but that seems to have been pretty short-lived. The last Labÿrinth album was released back in 2010 so for fans of the band, this new album has been a helluva long time coming. On the new record, the band had recruited drummer John Macaluso ( Yngwie Malmsteen, TNT, Starbreaker, James LaBrie).
If you look up the word ‘creative’ in a dictionary, there’s a good chance you’ll find a picture of Richie Kotzen there. In 1989, aged 19, he released his first solo album and when American glam rockers Poison called and asked for his services – well it was actually an audition – as C.C. DeVille’s replacement, he had already made three albums under his own name. One album with Poison – the very underrated Native Tongue (1993) – was all he got to make with that band before he got the boot (apparently he nicked drummer Rikki Rockett’s girlfriend…) and was replaced by Blues Saraceno. He made six more solo albums between 1994 – 1999 when he joined melodic rockers Mr Big as Paul Gilbert’s replacement and with them he released two albums, Get Over It (1999) and Actual Size (2001) before that band split up. Since then he has made twelve more studio albums, including this new one (21 albums, all in all, live records excluded). Then add two albums with his new band The Winery Dogs and one with his Japanese project Forty Deuce and you don’t have to be a mathematic professor to figure out that this guy is one hell of a creative spirit and a fast song writer. Now, all of his records might not be masterpieces but I have yet to hear an album featuring Kotzen that is bad.