by Alissa Ordabai
Staff Writer –
Spectacular improvisation as spirited and as eloquent as Satriani’s studio material – if nothing else – makes this live release worth checking out. And not only by the guitar heads for whom this double CD is mandatory. This is also an album for those who not simply love a great melody, but are also curious to hear how a composer works in real time. How on the spur of the moment simple things can be turned into complex ones, how ideas can be shrunk and expanded, and how melody, harmony, and rhythm can simultaneously be shaped by formidable chops and intuition.
But there is, naturally, a wealth of other goodies on Satriani’s first official live release since 1993, apart from demonstrations of technical virtuosity and a perfect sense of musical form. Sonically the record is a firework where the ultimate guitar guru structures the sound of his instrument with layer upon layer of tonal texture, using the guitar as his orchestra of choice. There is also the buzz of his interaction with other players, especially Mike Keneally on the keyboard during their witchery call-and-response moments. And, of course, nothing on the high tech guitar scene these days beats the supercharged energy and sincerity of a Satriani show and its uplifting, celebratory vibe.
Recorded at the Metropolis Theatre in Montreal, Canada on 12 December 2010 during Satriani’s Wormhole Tour, the record spans material from the very early days of his career to songs from his latest studio release “Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards”. The set list opens up his vast emotional range and shows how virtuosically Satriani can balance not only the different energies within one piece of music, but also within the set, going from swagger of such barnburners as “Pyrrhic Victoria” and “Big Bad Moon” with quasi-mystical extrapolations on “Light Years Away” and “Andalusia”.
What makes, however, this record so different from other modern-day instrumental guitar releases – and what places Satriani in a different league from other high-tech masters – is that for him the guitar is not a fetish and not a weapon, but a tool for constructing his own very singular but accessible universe.
Above everything else this release is pure, unadulterated entertainment, even when Satch is delving head-on into an extensive impro, or when he is searching for deeper meaning outside of the straightforward rock formula. And the crowd during this show is giving back as good as it gets – more resembling a South American audience than a Canadian one with its chants and the touching moments when the entire venue is singing back to Satch his impromptu sparks of intuitive magic.
Genre: Instrumental Rock
Joe Satriani – lead guitar, vocals
Jeff Campitelli – drums
Allen Whitman – bass
Mike Keneally – keyboards, percussion
Galen Henson – rhythm guitar
1. Ice 9
2. Hordes of Locusts
3. Flying in a Blue Dream
4. Light Years Away
8. Satch Boogie
10. Pyrrhic Victoria
11. Crystal Planet
12. The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing
13. Dream Song
1. God Is Crying
4. Littleworth Lane
6. Wind in the Trees
7. Always with Me, Always with You
8. Big Bad Moon
9. Crowd Chant
10. Summer Song
11. Two Sides to Every Story (bonus track)
12. The Golden Room (bonus track)
All songs written by Joe Satriani.
Hardrock Haven rating: 10/10
by John Kindred
Staff Writer –
Judas Priest originally was formed in 1969 in Birmingham, England, but they didn’t solidify the core of the band until 1974 before recording their first studio album Rocka Rolla. Originally a four-piece outfit rounded out by Halford, Downing and Hill, their record label suggested adding another guitarist prior to recording their debut album. This brought Glenn Tipton into the fold and the rest, as they say, is history.
Launching a music career that has spanned four decades, Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill forged a legacy that has influenced countless generations of musicians and indoctrinated legions of fans. The band has withstood many storms that tested their mettle, but they have survived and persevered. Even today, lineup changes have not deterred the band’s audio assault on the world.
Over the years, the core members of the band, Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill, have been the forerunners of their style of rock. While known to the world as a Heavy Metal band, continued growth as a group and as individual musicians has evolved through several genres over the course of their careers. Starting out as a psychedelic hard rock band in the early ‘70s, they have traversed the genres from hard rock, heavy metal and thrash metal.
The voice of the band is Rob Halford, although Tim “Ripper” Owens admirably captained the ship for a few years and albums. Halford’s “hellion-ish” vocals pushed the envelope, reaching beyond the typical archetype for a hard rock or metal vocalist. Priest has had a few drummers sit behind the kit and bash the skins over the years, but Scott Travis (Racer X), who, since 1989, has elevated the metallic fury of the band to new heights. The twin guitar attack of K.K. Downing and Glen Tipton set standards for Metal bands worldwide to follow as they took their aerial assault to new levels of technical virtuosity.
The Complete Albums Collection Box Set is really the complete anthology of the Robert Halford -led Priest. The anthology contains the 15 studio albums and three live albums that, again, feature the four core members of the band: Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill, who all appeared on the band’s discography from 1974 to 2009. Again, albums that feature Tim “Ripper” Owens as Priest’s vocalist are excluded from the collection, which, in truth, is only three releases. The Complete Albums Collection Box Set isn’t 100 percent complete, but it’s damn close.
This is quite a comprehensive collection of music. Each album is packaged in replica mini-LP sleeves, reproducing the original cover art. Also included is a 40-page booklet with photos, album credits and liner notes by rock journalist and Priest fan Greg Prato. The majority of the albums are the re-mastered editions, including recently re-mastered albums Rocka Rolla and Sad Wings Of Destiny. The album Hell Bent For Leather appears under its original name, Killing Machine, a change brought on before its release in ’78 by Judas Priest’s record label.
Are you ready for a Judas Priest audio marathon? Starting with 1974′s Rocka Rolla fans can retrace the steps of the band as the find their way from a fledgling psychedelic almost hippy-rock to harder-edged heavy rock. The band travels many roads from their commercial-metal excursion on the 1986 Turbo, to their thrash-inspired 1990 Painkiller and moves along to the dynamic heavy metal return of Halford on 2005′s Angel of Retribution. Judas Priest certainly has cut its own path in the music industry.
Even today, change, it seems, is inevitable. In 2011, K.K. Downing retired from the band, creating the opportunity for new guitarist Richie Faulkner to become the latest member in the Judas Priest family tree. The Judas Priest machine moves on as the band rolls forward on its last world tour, Epitaph, but don’t fret because they plan to continue to release new studio albums and perform live on a smaller scale.
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rob Halford (v)
Glenn Tipton (g)
K.K. Downing (g) [from 1970 to 2011]
Ian Hill (b)
Scott Travis (d) [from 1989 to present]
Alan Moore (d) [appeared on Sad Wing of Destiny]
John Hinch (d) [appeared on Rocka Rolla]
Simon Phillips (d) [appeared on Sin After Sin]
Les Binks (d) [appeared on Stained Glass]
Dave Holland (d) [featured on albums released from 1979–1989]
ALBUMS INCLUDED IN ‘THE COMPLETE ALBUMS COLLECTION’:
Rocka Rolla (1974)
Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
Sin After Sin (1977)
Stained Class (1978)
Killing Machine (1978)
Unleashed in the East (1979)
British Steel (1980)
Point of Entry (1981)
Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
Defenders of the Faith (1984)
Ram It Down (1988)
Angel of Retribution (2005)
A Touch of Evil…Live (2009)
Label: Epic, Columbia, Legacy Recordings
Hardrock Haven rating: 10/10
by Alissa Ordabai
Staff Writer –
The creative method Lamb of God have been meticulously perfecting since 1999, has now reached its apex. The band has finally managed to distil all of its influences into one laconic formula, and tighten and tweak to exactness the way they present it. The end result is a vehement, roiling concoction of power groove, stoner rock, death metal and punk on the album with is both their personal benchmark and a new touchstone for metal. Resolution is a work of huge energy of conviction, and although the band – as ever – doesn’t invent anything radically new, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more persuasive and concise exponent of metal as a genre on today’s scene.
It would be interesting to see where Lamb of God go from here, now that they have seemingly reached the peak of the mountain they were climbing for 7 albums straight. It’s hard to imagine what could beat this release in intensity and aplomb, but it would also be just as hard to imagine them going in a different direction. The three available options seem to be carrying on in the same vein trying to match what they have done on this album, putting their feet up, or taking a cardinally different stylistic path.
The band is tentatively tapping into ways to escape the monolith formula they have cemented on this release by introducing some darkly unsettling symphonic passages on some of the tracks, but don’t show enough interest (or stamina) to explore this direction to the full. Although with guitarist Mark Morton being a blues enthusiast, there are many other interesting detours they could take outside of the genre of metal. The real question is whether they’d be willing to take a risk on their next album or will stick to the blueprint which lays golden eggs. A solid guitarist – as dynamic and convincing as the rest of the band – Morton could certainly develop further as a lead player by bringing in other influences into the band’s format. As well as expand their stylistic terrain to make sure they avoid becoming frozen into a formula which from now on is in danger of becoming too familiar, if not predictable.
John Campbell – bass
Mark Morton – guitar
Chris Adler – drums
Randy Blythe – vocals
Willie Adler – guitar
1. Straight for the Sun
3. Ghost Walking
5. The Undertow
6. The Number Six
11. Terminally Unique
12. To the End
14. King Me
Label: Epic, Roadrunner
Hardrock Haven rating: 8/10