C O L U M N S
Tales from the Jugular
New Releases and News --Ramblings
Hello, Hello, and welcome to another issue of the Jugular. I like to take the reigns every now and again to update the metal readers on random, babbling, non-sense. New CDs, newly discovered bands, the news, and the ups and downs of the Chicago Cubs. Whatever I can throw in here without offending or insulting the masses.
So let's shake to it bubba.....
A friend of mine was kind enough to turn me on to a band called Motorjesus. Check their website out at www.motorjesus.com. The band has just released their debut record, "Deathrider", through Locomotive, a label that is home to Astral Doors, Tribuzy, and President Evil to name a few. The group originally was named The Shitheadz but opted to become Motorjesus after releasing one album. The group's debut is just a rock 'n roll frenzy, complete with attitude, well sung CLEAN vocals, catchy chorus bits, and a good stoner vibe to it. Fans looking for Corrosion Of Conformity with the clean and polished metal approach of Fozzy should find plenty to shake a fist to. I highly recommend these guys!
Another great band that I'll keep ranting and raving over is The Quill, who have released their new album in Europe through SPV. "In Triumph" is like a cross between Black Sabbath's early Tony Martin era, European melodic hard rock, and a good stoner band like Soundgarden or Corrosion Of Conformity. I believe the US version is hitting domestic shores in June.
Those of you searching for a new Dio album will find plenty to like about the new Astral Doors release "Astralism". Frank Hill describes the record as a cross between Whitesnake and Dio, with the speedy parts just smokin'. I would agree with him, as this third album finds the band somewhere around 1987. Thunderous raging riffs crossed with great, characteristic clean vocals. The first three cuts of the record, "White Noise", "Black Skies", and "London Caves", is easily the best material they have recorded.
Those of you looking for that fantastic traditional record should look no further than the New Jersey act Attacker. Their new record, "The Unknown", harkens back to the days of "Into The Fire" era Overkill crossed with Accept's "Restless & Wild". The whole thing just absolutely smokes and may be my pick for album of the year.
The good folks over at Castle Music have really spiced up the Helloween back catalogue. Their "Expanded Edition" series re-issues of the band's first eight studio albums is very impressive. Each release comes in a slip-case with additional liner notes, band photos, and, of course, bonus tracks. Some albums like "Master Of The Rings" and "Time Of The Oath" have a complete second disc of added songs. These are the perfect collector's items for those speed racing German fans. This "Expanded Edition" series is out here in the states. My local FYE carries them all so get shoppin'!
I thought it was interesting to hear the new Warrant album "Born Again". Obviously vocalist Jani Lane is surely missed on this recording, but for the most part I found the album entertaining. Just good old fashioned '80s rock that sounds dated, but still works in this "factory death" day and age.
The new Pyramaze album "Legend Of The Bone Carver" is another great release I've picked up. Vocalist Lance King is just an amazing singer. Their blend of progressive power metal may be the best of the genre. Think Kamelot meets Steel Prophet. You can pick that up now through Nightmare Records, Sentinel Steel, or CD Inzane.
I really don't care to talk about Guns 'N Roses.
Bullet For My Valentine blew it. I'm not sure what to think about this situation. The press is reporting that Bullet For My Valentine singer Matt Tuck mouthed off on a message board about the band's treatment on the Rob Zombie/Lacuna Coil tour. This was the band's first real break here in the states, coming along after the band broke big in Europe with fantastic sales and cover treatments for Metal Hammer and Kerrang. Tuck claimed on the message board that the band had no dressing room and was forced to sell their merchandise for more than they cared to charge. I believe the biggest complaint was the fact that Bullet had no soundcheck for the tour. The band is officially off the tour now and it is a huge disappointment for the band and its fans. Being a fan of the group, I honestly feel that they could blow Zombie and Lacuna Coil off of the stage given a proper sound. This sort of goes back to the old tour years ago with Metallica and Corrosion Of Conformity. COC had terrible sound, no lights, and was obviously at a huge disadvantage. I was royally pissed as I had paid the high price just to see them. I think bands that are charging an arm and a leg should have three to four quality acts with equal lighting and sound.
Big news out of the Masterplan camp. Jorn Lande is OUT! Apparently the band was at odds on where the new album was going musically. The band outside of Lande wanted to be more metallic and heavy, possibly following the same path as the group's first record. Lande, known for his melodic AOR sound, apparently felt differently. It seems like Lande could use his solo albums, his collaboration with Russell Allen in The Battle, and Ark to show off the progressive, AOR spirit he has. I think Masterplan should be heavy and metallic. It is one half Helloween for God's sake! No replacement singer has been named. I think Masterplan should hook up with Pink Cream 69 front man David Readman (rumored to have joined TNT) or give thought to the singer of Brazil's Hibria.
Megadeth has signed with Roadrunner Records. Man, that label must have a ton of freakin' money! They sign everyone at some point in their career. Good luck to Dave and the boys on that deal. I hear that a lot of traditional metal acts just don't make it when signing with the label. I will say I'm looking forward to a new Megadeth record. Its a shame that James won't be on bass though!
Great news for hard rock fans. Danish band Vengeance is back together again and have signed a deal with MTM Music. Their new record, "Back In The Ring", is supposed to be an in your face rock album. Vocalist Leon Goewie is one of my favorite singers of all time and I'm looking forward to hearing how time has treated him. I strongly urge everyone to pick up Vengeance albums "Arabia" and "Take It Or Leave It" for a full blown, high octane hard rock affair. Think of Van Halen, Motley Crue, and Guns 'N Roses and you'll come close. Look for their new album this summer!!
Another good piece of hard rock news. Looks like Frontiers Records will be releasing a brand new Winger record! The line-up will be identical to the "Pull" era, which in my opinion is one of the better hard rock albums of all time. The band says the new record has been written and recorded and will be out this Fall. I AM STOKED baby! Now if we can just get Tesla back to the studio this year...
Seven Witches guitarist Jack Frost has been added to the ranks of England's Marshall Law. The English power metal band is one of my favorites, having released extraordinary records like "Warning Of History" and "Marshall Law". Frost has played with just about everyone and their mother, ranging from Savatage to Metalium to Speeed. I like his guitar style and I think he will fit in OKAY with the band, but Marshall Law is known for more flashy guitar styles. I just don't know if Frost has what it takes. Time will tell.
Exciter lost their singer....AGAIN! I honestly think Rod T. has sent them a demo tape already.
Well, this has the makings of being the worst season for Chicago Cubs baseball in quite some time. The team has managed to win 2 of their last 14 games. Let me repeat that. They have won 2 of their last 14 games. They have managed to lose seven games to the San Diego Padres. I'm not sure how to turn this around. Let's look at position players:
Matt Murton - Left Field - Murton is looking great in the outfield and is learning the ivy at Wrigley. He continues to hit in the clutch and drive in important runs. I think Murton is a "pressure" player and must have a close game or runners on to really tap into his strenghts. His .271 avergage isn't impressive by any means, but I think he has done well as a rookie this year.
Juan Pierre - Center Field - Yikes! During the pre-season everyone was saying the whole season is up to this guy. The Cubs needed a quality lead-off hitter and Pierre so far IS NOT THAT GUY. His numbers are as bad or worse than last year's terrible year with the Marlins. An average of .231 is well below expectations and his on base percentage is a dismal .273. Pierre better turn things around FAST. The guy he replaced: Corey Patterson. He has an on base percentage this year of .301 playing with the Orioles.
Jacque Jones - Right Field - The only thing I need to say is this. Some Cub fan at Wrigley Field tried to end his season by heaving a baseball at his face.
Aramis Ramirez - 3rd Base - After collecting a huge paycheck from the team for years to come....he responds this year with a .215 batting average. He leads the team with a staggering six homeruns. Third base is starting to look nasty. I would imagine that the pressure of being THE SLUGGER for the team is getting to him. We need Derreck Lee back to ease the pressure down the line-up.
Ronny Cedeno - Short - WOW! What a breath of fresh air. This rookie is going to be a future Hall Of Famer. I just know it! He is making the usual mistakes here and there, but for the most part his defense is perfect and his hitting is carrying the team during the slump. One of 2 Cubs All-Stars this year!
Neifi Perez / Jerry Hairston Jr. - 2nd Base - Pretty dull spot defensively and offensively. Todd Walker plays this spot well, however he is playing first for the absent Derreck Lee. Hairston is by far the superior hitter to Perez, but is batting from the right side. Walker should fix this problem once he goes back to that role.
Todd Walker - 1st Base - Walker is obviously not Lee and never claimed to be. We are seeing his strengths as a batter, hitting .294 this season with a great on base percentage of .368. I think he is holding the team together with his leadership on the field with youngsters like Hairston and Cedeno.
Michael Barrett - Catcher - Love this guy! He is hitting more home runs than I thought he would. Again, along with Walker, he is leading the team. He is competitive, a fighter, and has a never say die attitude. I think he does well relaying the team's thoughts and concerns through the media. Once Lee and Ramirez pick it up, Barrett will contribute more RBIs.
Pitching - Greg Maddux is having a fantastic year! Carlos Zambrano has started off slow but is coming back around now. He looks impressive. Rookie Sean Marshall has the makings of a champ. His control is amazing and he has really good stuff. He isn't afraid to go inside and out with quality hitters. The fourth starter is really up in the air. Jerome Williams didn't work. Glendon Rusch needs to hit Mexico. Juan Guzman is decent, and Rich Hill is not too bad. Mark Prior is the guy for this role, but he unfortunately is still out until July. Kerry Wood looked impressive in his minor league starts. We will see if he can get going and STAY. If the Cubs can get a few months with Zambrano, Maddux, Wood, and Marshall in the rotation consistently, they can put together some wins.
Outlook - Either the team is going to find a way to win, or this could be the worst team we've seen in a long long time. I don't think we will see a so-so team this year. It is all good or all bad. So far...it has been all bad. Interesting to see what they will do with Baker by the end of the season.
Okay, that is all for this issue. Look for more of these in the coming months and don't forget to look for our Mid-Year Awards in early July. Upcoming Jugular columns will explore Megadeth vs Metallica and the public image of heavy metal.
Peace Out...and remember....lets be good to each other out there! Help a brother out when you can!
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