My First Metal Gig – Vanguard live at Dock Street Bar And Grill, Staten Island, NY February 4th 2005

As I might’ve alluded to in a previous article or two, I joined my first Metal band as a guitarist in 2004.  Previously I’d been a drummer.  But it wasn’t until close to year’s end that we rounded up our line up with a rhythm section, having auditioned these two buffoons in Phrygian Studios in Staten Island.  As far as I know it’s still around…although that might change depending on when this pandemic ends.  THAT was an audition!  A completely inexperienced drummer with no technique, a bassist that knew literally nothing about the bass and WREAKED OF SHIT ALL THE FUCKING TIME, and Chad, my co-guitarist who seemingly forgot how to play anything that day or just didn’t have a care in the world.  More on the that later!

Fast forward to early 2005.  Joe Ryder, our original bassist, while a really nice, quiet guy, was replaced with John Vaynburg, a far more talented bassist – one of only two bassists I ever played with that could nail “The Trooper”, my all time favorite Maiden tune, to the T!  Unfortunately he turned out to be a bit of a princess.  But hey at least he didn’t WREAK OF SHIT ALL THE FUCKING TIME!  Chris, our drummer, slowly began to hold quite an influence on Chad and Idrees’s decision making, thanks to his far more arrogant personality.  And I’d every once and a while be lectured – even by the very drummer who I taught to FINALLY develop independent control of his hands and feet! – in regards to my guitar playing being nowhere near as fluid or as glorious as Chad’s.  Oh sure, Chad certainly did have technique.  But I had tons more feel and attitude.  More on that later.

Around this time, we had a few originals, written mainly by Chad.  I’d brought some stuff to the table but I’d leave the band almost right after they’d started using my shit.  But it was evident that Chad’s music was more in favor because it was more in the Power Metal vein that Chad and Chris were very much into.  Power Metal: GAY.  Idrees’s gay ass cheesy lyrics didn’t help either!  It was hilarious that this is what seemed to be agreed upon when you consider that we were five guys between the ages of 17 and 20 (I was the oldest and the only one in college) that all had individual subgenre favorites.

Idrees, who my own father referred to as “that black kid who thinks he’s white”, was stuck somewhere between 1983 and 1990, and Slayer was his religion, like to the point that it was pathetic.  His “singing”, if you can call it that, was more akin to if Luther Vandross joined Judas Preist.  I still roast him to this day over it.  Chad, while a major Iron Maiden fanatic, also was enamored in all things Steve Vai.  Chris essentially followed Chad’s path, only he became a Power Metal fanatic (although he’d see the light months later).  John’s tastes were closer to mine.  He was very much a Death Metal fan, like I.  He also was a Black Metal fan.  Then there was me, and if you’ve been reading this blog for the last five years then you already know I only listen to the good shit.  And it reflected in my playing, especially my lead playing, sloppy as it might’ve been at the time.  I wanted to be the bastard child of Mustaine in his prime and Zakk Wylde.  While Chad played prissy lead fills, I was the guy that just ripped on his Body Art Series B.C. Rich Bich.

The Ballad Of Dock St Bar And Grill

As the title of this rant should suggest, this gig was on Staten Island.  I might as well admit that I’m actually from Staten Island.  Trust me, I’m not proud of it.  Where to begin?  Well, for the sake of this article anyway, the music scene, at least at this time, could only be described in one word: LAME.  Due to the Island’s isolation from the other four boroughs in New York City, along with some fucking morons blindly wearing that isolation with pride, there was nothing really exciting to talk about.  There’s a reason why Chris would eventually look outside the island for people to play with.

The local Metal scene had very few decent bands.  Dethroned and Enthralled come to mind.  Whiny Pop Punk was very popular.  Rap was and will forever be a big deal on Staten Island, primarily because Wu Tang are from there.  And by the way, if you’re reading this, are a grown adult around my age living in Staten Island, and still refer to it as “Shaolin”, you should probably be shot in the throat.  Five times.  But the tried and true money maker, as I’d later discover?  Cover bands.  So in a nutshell, Staten Island was, and probably still is boring.

By the way, just so we’re clear: Fuck the Wu Tang Clan and anybody that looks like them.

Dock St had been around for decades.  I’d actually played there numerous times during my senior year of high school in 2001 and 2002 with my previous band.  Aside from Cock St, there hadn’t been many venues for bands to play in that I knew of, especially in the case of bands where only one of us was BARELY under 21.  Fuck, Dock St alone had gone through countless management changes both before I ever even played there and especially long after I’d stopped going there.  I hated it.  It was small, I didn’t like that the booker, who I’d known for a few years, was a grown man befriending the kids, and it was just boring to me.  If you’re a grown man hanging out with teenagers, you’re creepy.

Gig Night

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Inside the shithole that was Dock St.  In the middle, starting from the left: Chris Dickinson (yeah, that Chris Dickinson), Chad Cresante, John Vaynburg.  Bottom: Idrees Williams

Unlike most of the bandmates I’ve played with over the years, I never got nervous or anxious before a gig.  This was no different.  But I was very tired, and very annoyed when Chris called me while I was home napping before the show, wanting to know where I was.  When I told him I was home resting before the gig because you know, I had work early in the morning and then class afterwards, he had the nerve to tell me to get down there as soon as possible as if it was his band.  Of course I ignored him and did my own thing.  I heard the anxiety in his voice.  This was his first band and hey, I was 16 when I did my first shows.  But a word of advice to you anxious musicians out there: there’s NO NEED TO PANIC BEFORE A FUCKING GIG.  JUST GET THE SAND OUT OF YOUR PUSSIES AND YOU’LL BE JUST FINE.

My mom, of all people, came to the gig.  I warned her not to, for she was going to see a side of me she’d wish she never saw.  The band were going to see a side of me they didn’t think they’d see either.  More on that later.  I do remember seeing some teenager with a water bottle.  He asked me if a wanted a swig before going onstage, revealing that the water was actually whiskey.  How could I say no?  I walked up on stage decked out in all black.  I had on a Death t-shirt that I actually still have, black jeans, black boots, a biker watch and a chain around my neck, ready to show these idiots who the real star was…after someone told me he wanted to have sex with my guitar.

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We opened up with a song called “Death Knell” (and here we go with the gay ass song titles!), after Idrees refused to introduce the band  because we needed “to sound like we’ve been around for five years”.  He actually said that.  To this day he claims he meant that as a joke; but he seemed way too serious for that to be a joke.  As soon as the tempo picked up I spread my legs as far apart as they would go and began banging my head as aggressively as I could without my glasses falling off.  I spat into the audience, my eyes popped out of my head as I was ripping through solos.

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Then I opened up my mouth.  There were a lot more people at the show then I imagined there would be.  Very few of them were there for me but the crowd were so into it that a former friend of mine decided to guard my mom, who according to him claimed she was going to beat up the first person who bumped into her.  Well, she didn’t stay around much longer.  After the second or third song, I took the mic from Idrees, looked toward Chad’s emo looking friends and yelled out “…and remember kids, emo is for pussies!”.

We went on to play a few more cheesy titled original tracks along with covers of “Aces High” (where I played the part of Adrian Smith) and “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying” (where I played the part of Dave, of course!).  Chad was probably the one guy who had no life to him during this show…or any of the shows we played together.  Looking at some of the pictures that were taken he appeared to just have some arrogant smirk on his face, as if he was already bored because even his own music wasn’t challenging enough for him.  It was the same smirk he had the afternoon we auditioned Chris and Joe Ryder just three months earlier.  Kids, when you don’t know how to just have fun at your FIRST GIG, you’ll never have fun.

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Doing my best Adrian Smith impression, playing his solo in “Aces High”.
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Final song of the night, “Fear Is Eternal”.  See what I mean about these gay song titles??

As I walked off the stage, the first thing I noticed was my mom was gone and I right away assumed it was because I singled out the emo kids the way I did.  I did stay for the last band, Whole In One.  They were a Pop Punk band, however I was friends with Ralph, their drummer.  I’m almost positive I left after them and joined the band for food afterwards at Mike’s Place in New Dorp Lane.

I arrived home late that night to a call on my cell phone as I was walking upstairs.  It was these two possibly drunk whores prank calling me.  Upon asking them how they got my number and who they were they were rambling a lot, prompting me to hang up.  They called back, asking me why I hung up, prompting me to threaten their lives.  They then left a hilarious voicemail claiming I never had sex, which was pretty funny since I lost my virginity at 18; and that I apparently suck because I like Iron Maiden.  That was a actually an amusing little chuckle to end my night.

The Day After

While eating oatmeal before I left for work early the next morning, mom slowly walked into the kitchen to finally give me a piece of her “mind”, as it were.  She was so pitiful, reflecting back in such dramatic fashion, on her view of me after seeing and hearing me in front of a live mic.  She confirmed, like the drama queen she always was and still is, that she did in fact walk right out the moment she heard me call out those kids.  “You were better in Fallout”, she angrily told me before walking back into her bedroom.  Fallout was my high school band, in which I played drums.  Therefore I’ve no doubt that her last remark to me was her way of telling me things were better when I couldn’t get to a mic so easily.  She’d never see me play live again.

Later that night, I picked up Idrees to go hang out at Chris’s house.  Chris’s attention, for the most part was aimed directly at me.  Why?  Remember when I said I was going to show a side of me the band never saw before?  Well, he sure as fuck didn’t know what to make of my performance even 24 hours later.  When I asked him what the big deal was he commented that he’d seen me with my feet planted together at virtually every band rehearsal leading up to the gig, seemingly having no life in me.  I tricked them all to the point where Chris got a tad giddy as he told Idrees and I “you both are like my fuckin’ Thrash Metal icons man!”.  Mission complete.

Inside the house was the guy that recorded our show to watch.  And apparently he was emo, because he immediately pleaded with me to not do what I did on the mic ever again because I sounded like an asshole.  I think he later on went home and cried as he fingered his pussy while blasting his favorite Bright Eyes album.  Mission accomplished!

Giving The Devil His Good Name Back – The Metal Mike Show, September 9th 2004

In my very first post here I briefly mentioned that I used to DJ for my college radio station.  Hell, that show, without question is the precursor to this blog because it gradually became my first platform to just talk shit AND not get in trouble for it.  But that’s a story for another time because how I got this fucking show so easily requires a bit of a back story anyway.  Oh, by the way, I won’t be mentioning which station it is because I don’t feel like giving anyone any undeserved attention.

So, I decided to give my station a shot in April, 2004, thinking I wanted to be a DJ.  I liked the idea of being able to play music and not be seen.  To this day it’s amazing how UGLY some of the top DJ’s in the country really are.  But since they sound great who the fuck cares?  I went through two meetings, one with the personnel director and the second with the station’s chief engineer…part super genius…part angry, bitter, and an all around asshole.  If Gregory House was a real person he’d be this guy! What made me laugh inside was in despite only being in his mid-30’s, the combination of his skullet and his awful 70’s looking moustache made this fucker look like an ex-member of the Doobie Brothers.

If I’m not mistaken I took the test a good week later and passed with just two wrong answers.  I originally chose to join the Music Department because that meant I could review records for play as well as maybe even dictate what got played at all, the first CD I ever reviewed being Black Label Society’s low key masterpiece, Hangover Music, Vol.6, which I was also able to burn and leave at the station while I took the original copy home.   But long story short the director at the time let no one do anything with her, frustrating me, so I joined the Engineering Department.  I had wanted to join Production but, at the time, it was mandated that you couldn’t do shit in production unless you knew how to run the board properly.

Some time goes by, the middle of summer arrives, and I was approached by the newly appointed engineering director about being his assistant.  Why?  Neither he or anyone else wanted the only other person around to be involved because that’s how lowly they all thought of him.  We’re talking a really nice guy too.  And there you have it, proof that even college radio isn’t clean of slimy politics!  So, from then on until I left for good in early 2007 I was the Assistant Engineering Director of my station.  But of course there was something else I wanted, and part of the process I didn’t even have to go through.

While I had applied for a show to start in the fall semester, I didn’t have to make an audition tape, and all because I was an engineer.  In other words, I already knew how to operate the board.  Before I was told that was even getting my first show I was approached by another DJ from the Production Department about covering him because he wasn’t able to get out of work.  It was easy enough, his show had a specific format which he wrote down for me – all I had to do was follow the bullet points.  So there I was, fresh from sitting in with the two BEST DJs in the whole station at that time – both actually being alumni volunteers at that point – and DJing my first show.

It was a little nerve wracking, I was already engineering and cohosting someone else’s public service show on Mondays for a month at this point, but this was the first time I was on my own.  After reading off the most important bullet point of this guy’s show he surprised me by calling me up.  I didn’t think he was listening but here was telling me I rock and even complimenting my voice.  And after I finished up, that angry chief engineer – who can still go suck a dick and die – even told me he liked my voice.

Thursday, September 9th, 2004.  This day would see the launch of the Metal Mike Show at 4pm.  My then guitarist, Chad, jokingly suggested I call myself Metal Mike.  A manager of mine at work suggested Iron Mike, but some at the station just didn’t like it.  For a few weeks prior to this I had hand drawn ads and plastered them all over the walls of every single building on campus, as well as on the walls of music stores where I lived and even in places in Manhattan, especially the now defunct Manny’s Music on w 47th St.  The guy whose show I covered for read the script for my station promo and immediately asked if he could read it on mic.  It was hysterical hearing him read “It’s time to give the devil his good name back…Hell never sounded so good!”, with as much bass as he could get out of his voice.

With two hours to go I began writing down my playlist for the next three hours, trying to find a balance between the music I wanted to play and the music I’d be required to play.  There were two other metal DJ’s who happily pigeonholed themselves to two extremes, one to Black Metal so underground the bands themselves don’t even know if their demo tape is even circulating, and another guy that loved to cater to his drunk following in England, playing nothing but Swedish Melodic Metal and Power Metal.  Power Metal…GAY.  I wanted to be the balance between those two guys, being a fan of almost all types of Metal…expect Power Metal or anything related to it.  I’d like to think I did a good job with that over the next two plus years.

Ten minutes to go.  I walked in to the On-Air room where another DJ was getting ready to wrap things up, this was on of the two people I sat in with.  Now this woman had an incredible radio voice.  She’ll be oh so shy talking to you but when she’s on air she gets so sensual to the point that you’d think it was a different person.  Looking on the instant messenger on the computer screen I already had to messages.  One was from my dad, who had tuned in on his office computer to hear me, the other being some jackass in the station busting my balls “I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY ACTUALLY GAVE YOU A SHOW!”  I think I know who it was.   She left, I played a few PSA’s to get settled in, my show’s promo, followed by my favorite station ID track…and off we go!

I had Ozzy open up my show with “Miracle Man” off his classic 1988 album, No Rest For The Wicked.  This was Zakk Wylde’s recording debut with him and I was such a Zakk fanboy at the time.  Also, that opening riff is just huge!  Nerves hitting me so hard, I couldn’t help but practically scream right into the mic once the song ended.  I knew I needed to calm down but I was so nervous I just couldn’t stop myself!  After screaming out the station’s phone number for requests I immediately but on Death’s “Bite The Pain”, a request for one of those two metal DJ’s I mentioned before.  I tried to do everything I could to calm myself down.  It took awhile but as time went on I got a bit more comfortable…until someone came to check on me.

It was 6pm, two hours down, one to go.  Someone asked me how I was doing and as soon as I said ok it went downhill.  I put on Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots”, only for it to start skipping.  So I quickly put “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” on the second CD player…and THAT started skipping.  So I pulled out Metallica’s …And Justice For All CD, put on “To Live Is To Die”…and THAT began skipping.  FUCK!  I had no choice but I go back on air and try to save myself.  Luckily for me, the rest of the show went off without a hitch before the next DJ came to relieve me.  All in all I had fun; I clearly had a lot of work to do as far as calming my nerves so I don’t scream into the mic, but this was the beginning of a time that would consume the next two years of my life.

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Helix Nebula – The Last Lights Of A Dying Universe

For my second Underground Review I was approached by Prog Death band Helix Nebula of Riva Vaciamadrid, Spain about checking out there first full-length album, The Last Lights Of A Dying Universe.  They released a digital five track EP, The Beginning Of Time, back in 2013 and they recently played a show with Feel No Pain, whose four track demo I reviewed not too long ago.

I seriously think I’m going to edit my original post on looking for underground bands to mention that I really don’t want to be bothered if a band has an intro track.  Bands, it’s old, it’s been done a million times and all you’re doing is wasting valuable time that I can never get back.  Oh, and if your engineer or producer did it fire his dumb ass right away.  Time is money.  Just stop it!!!

Now to the music!  Upon hearing “God Is God?” I instantly think modern day Dream Theater, with the delay drenched alternate picking line.  And by the way no I’m not a fan of Dream Theater.  The band kicks in…Death Metal growling?  Ok, no problem, I am a Death Meal fan anyway.  Now it’s starting to sound like a cross between the band I mentioned and Opeth.  This song seems to go back a forth between the luscious clean parts that would make the knuckleheads in DT real proud, and Opeth during the heaviest moments on their landmark album, Blackwater Park.  Mike Vera is really good at doing a low rumble into a demonic scream.  I really don’t like how the song ends though, a little to anticlimactic, too soft, even with the quieter ending.

As the album progresses that sound remains very consistent, something lots of Progressive-bands have a major problem doing.  I think the only issue I’m starting to have now is that there are times where I feel that the growling isn’t necessary.  Sure, I did say I like it, but it just doesn’t fit everywhere, especially with the catchiness of some of the chorus’s I’m hearing.  I’m really liking some of the guitar solos, especially on “Night Angel”, where I think different vocal approaches could’ve definitely been used.  I definitely can envision screaming in the choruses to offset the growls during the versus, otherwise it just sounds stale.  One of the things I used to love about a band like Into Eternity is not only could Stu Block growl, he could scream even higher than fucking  Halford AND sing beautifully.

Paula Shultz’s guest vocals on “Dawn Of War” are absolutely breathtaking.  After that this becomes the fastest song on the album so far.  I’d honestly like for the band to do more of this in the future.  Nice guitar harmonies, reminds me of “Flash Of The Blade”, one of my favorite Iron Maiden tracks.  Although, like “God Is God?” it could’ve had a more badass ending.  I feel like it needed to have it.

An interlude?  Really guys?  Is this necessary??  No it’s not!  Another time killer that’s old and annoying.  I really think the last time I found interludes at least amusing was back in the mid-90’s, when I heard the intermission track on Tool’s classic AEnima (they’re totally dead to me after this album) and the intermission on The Offspring’s album Ixnay On The Hombre (yeah it’s punk but it’s album before they sold out COMPLETELY…and I was only thirteen at the time).  Point is, you bands need to knock it off with these fucking interludes – stop it!!!!

After a another minute was wasted “Son Of Antares” comes in with a great solid headbang tempo.  Around the three minute mark it cools off temporarily before the guitar solo.  I really think this was not necessary.  And this is usually my biggest problem with prog metal.  You all want to mix in all of these elements together in a single song and the problem is it doesn’t always make sense.

“Black Flames Of Chaos” had me throw up the horns right away.  Good job guys!  This is the most metal track on the entire album from start to finish.  But more important than that, it’s the most consistent from start to finish.

Uh oh, I think that clean guitar is a tad out of tune on the closing title track; not the best way to start out the beginning of the end.  On top of that, the segue into the heavier section feels very sloppy.  As someone who started out as drummer it was really hard to keep track of the beat there.  Thankfully, it shapes up more after that.  You’ll definitely be able to hear some really consistent thematic changes throughout this ten minute epic, all of which intertwine perfectly.  I would’ve loved the solos near the end to have a bit more attitude to them, not necessarily more notes, just more feel to them.  And once again the ending leaves way too much to be desired.

All in all this is a decent debut album from Helix Nebula.  I mentioned this in my review of Feel No Pain’s demo, but whether you’re making a debut album or demo, you really want to find a way to make it stand out and grab the listener by the fucking throat right at the start of track one – not track two after a pointless intro – track ONE.  They are all fantastic musicians but I totally recommend they focus much more on at least streamlining their songs.

Favorite Tracks: Night Angel, Dawn Of War, Black Flames Of Chaos

You can check out Helix Nebula on their bandcamp site by clicking here:

https://helixnebula.bandcamp.com/

 

Feel No Pain – First God Of The Earth

So, when I was recently contacted by Feel No Pain from Madrid, Spain about reviewing their new four track demo, First God Of The Earth, they described it as Metallica-meets-Sepultura.  But, after repeated listens, I’m afraid that’s not really the case because some of Sepultura’s classic shit borderlines on Death Metal and most of the material here is far too melodic.  Metallica-meets-Iron Maiden?  Much more like it – and there’s nothing wrong with that, by the way.

The instrumental “Mass For The Ancient One” opens up the demo.  I have to admit now that I was never really a fan of instrumentals being used to open up anything, especially a demo where you’re trying to introduce yourselves to the world.  As far as I’m concerned it’s a minute or so wasted that you cold use to let people hear the songs.  Having said that, the track itself does sound very ominous in a classical way.  I can almost envision that beast on the cover slowly arising from the waters, ready to raise hell.

The demo’s title track comes right in with nothing but double bass.  Guitarists David and Hector come right behind with very Maiden sounding harmonies.  I really like the sound of Cesar’s snare drum here!  I hope he can maintain this sound if the band every does a professional recording.  I’m almost positive the lyrics have something to do with that beast on the cover.  Maybe I was right about the intro resembling it coming out to raise hell?  It makes me think that if I were in this band, what I would have done was connect “Mass For The Ancient One” to this song as one track.  No time would be wasted then!

“Cry Of The Undead” begins as nice old-school thrasher with tightly muted fast picking that would make even Hetfield proud.  It breaks down in time for David to start singing about a zombie, stuck between wanting to die and wanting to find someone just like him, until he finds that he’s not alone at all.  You’ll definitely hear the Maiden influence as the song ends in a very “To Tame A Land” fashion, just not as epic.

“Sky Burial”, probably the best track here, comes charging right in at the gate!  This is actually a great way to close the demo up.  It’s a good mix of Maiden’s melodicism and Iced Earth’s tight arrangements.  If I were any of the members of this band I’d want to stick to this for a bit – and I haven’t been a fan of Iced Earth in years.

Feel No Pain sounds like a hungry band.  No doubt about it.  If there’s anything I’d change it’s the vocals for sure.  There’s nothing wrong with singing but I feel like these lyrics need to be sung with more attitude.  Much more.  In this modern metal world I think it’s important that if you’re going to play traditional style you should at least give it a modern edge in order to reach out to more people.  That’s why I liked Testament’s 2008 comeback, The Formation Of Damnation.  It had all the elements of those early Alex Skolnick/Lou Clemente-era albums, but the difference was that Paul Bostaph’s doublebass licks locked in with Eric Peterson’s rhythm guitars gave the songs an edge Lou could never give them.

Here’s the video to “First God Of The Earth” their bandcamp, and facebook pages:

http://feelnopainmetal.bandcamp.com/releases

RPS Jersey Rumble May 21st, 2016

So here we are, May 21st has come and gone and I still haven’t even unpacked my bag days later.  I should though.  Whatever.  It was a hell of time…I just don’t know if my girlfriend or my father will come to one of these again just because of how long this meet was!

We arrived at the Ramada Plaza Hotel around 10:30ish, a good half an hour ahead of schedule for weigh-ins.  Having weighed in at 181 that morning I made sure to eat a nice big breakfast of four scrambled eggs, flank steak, an English muffin and grape flavored juiced aminos so I could make my weight class, which was 198 and when I weighed myself again before leaving I was 184.  So I’m ok, right?  Well, I guess all the cardio I was doing up until a week before this must’ve clearly put my metabolism into overdrive because when I was weighed in by Gene Rychlak’s mother-in law I weighed in at 182.8, having apparently dropped nearly two pounds during the ride, putting her in a panic in the event that I placed and would have to get weighed again.  But I assured her I was going to eat more and she was relieved…not that it mattered much because I knew I wasn’t placing in anything.

After weighing in I went into the hotel ballroom were the first wave of the day, featuring the Women’s and Juniors Divisions was still running.  Damn…it felt partially like a rock concert, partially like a biker convention.  Loud 80’s metal was playing, a banner in the background with Ed Hunter on it, lights on the stage like an 80’s concert, tattoos everywhere, dudes with serious muscle, some women with serious muscle.  You know, I have an issue with some women that choose to juice just so they can get the muscle mass they couldn’t get otherwise just because they naturally don’t carry as much muscle as men.  There were a few chicks that looked awful pretty but when they began to speak their voices where pretty damn low.  Also, since testosterone is supposed to help with burning fat I saw one or two chicks that legit had no titties – it was all pecs like a guy!  Not that I haven’t seen this before but if I ever come out of musical retirement I’m going to write a song about chicks on juice and call it “No Titties”.

On the table in the back was a whole bunch of trophies that the winners are actually allowed to pick from, which I think is pretty cool.  I’m assuming that Gene Rychlak or his designer are sick metalheads or just really into Conan The Barbarian because look at some of these trophies!

9d2b3458b8133eab201455c881742652  IMG_20160521_113453014 IMG_20160521_113438252_HDR  IMG_20160521_113445536_HDR

Then I saw a dude who looked like Bam Bam Bigelow back from the dead but instead of having the skull covering tattoo he had a nice, thick chain around his neck, like something you’d get at a hardware store.

Bam Bam Bigelow

Just tell me that isn’t badass – I even went up to him and told him it was badass!  Turns out he works for Gene and is his Minister of Information, as well as the guy who spotted everyone during squats.

Things were a bit delayed and we didn’t really start on time, but needless to say I smoked all my squat attempts, building up to 260lbs which my girlfriend took pictures of but didn’t film.  I did, however, get one red light for my second attempt at 245, most likely because I didn’t sink enough.  Some people thought I did it perfectly but I know what I felt.

showtime 3                                   showtime 4

 

 

 

That 260 felt easy.  The biggest relief, more so than even that, was that I had absolutely no rotator cuff problems; that was a huge concern for me going into this.  Starting with my third Bench Press attempt of 160lbs, my girlfriend finally started filming.  She had some issues with her old phone so she didn’t get the first two attempts.  So starting with the last Bench attempt and all three deadlift attempts everything is on film.

All my attempts were real easy, easier than I thought – especially that 360lbs Deadlift.  Although I have to say this: there’s nothing worse than getting psyched up for a lift and then really shitty music comes on.  Republica’s “Ready To Go” came on during my first attempt and then The Scorpions came on during the 360 attempt.  Fuck The Scorpions!  Couldn’t I lift to “Mr. Tinkertain” like a few guys got to do?  Now THAT would’ve been badass!

I went to get to the merch table to get my complimentary free shirt for competing and one of the dudes who spotted during squats told me “You need to put more weight on there, you totally smoked it.”.  So will I do this again?  Most likely, just a matter of when.  I also don’t know if my girlfriend would go with me again or that my dad would come and see me again because I didn’t get out until nearly 11pm!

 

 

File_003 (1)

My Results:

Squat – 235, 245, 260

Bench Press – 130, 145, 160

Deadlift – 305, 330, 360

Total – 780

Check out Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate at http://www.revolutionpowerlifting.com

Final Thoughts

So, as of this writing, Nick Menza’s death has been a declared a massive heart attack brought on by heart disease.  At 51 years old that makes his death the ultimate heavy metal tragedy of the year unless something far worse happens.  That’s too young and while, most people are crying because the Rust In Peace-era reunion is surely not happening now, I feel far worse for his two kids.

And speaking of which, so how about that nice little damage control statement that Dave Mustaine released followed Nick’s death.  They were always close right?  Things happened and that’s why they didn’t get back together last year, right?  Funny because there are multiple interviews were Mustaine admits that it didn’t happen simply because he didn’t want it to happen.  So this benefit show he now wants to put together to help out his kids?  Like I said…damage control.  It’s true, isn’t it…that only the good die young?

 

Random Thoughts

New Album Upload

Last week I uploaded two albums on to my YouTube account, Morbid Angel’s Covenant, and Mercyful Fate’s Don’t Break The Oath.  Just last night I added my all time favorite Iron Maiden album in it’s entirety, Piece Of Mind.  Here’s the link:

First time I ever heard “The Trooper” on WSOU in 2001 it kicked my ass so hard.  This is even MORE of what I needed in my search for ONLY the best shit because if I heard anymore shitty emo-punk or nu-metal depending on who I hung out with on that day I was going to throw myself against a barbed wire fence.  I’m pretty sure I was the ONLY one in my school that had REAL taste in music.  I don’t miss high school at all.  As for Piece Of Mind goes, this to me is the album that, once and for all, established the blueprint to the Maiden sound.  Yeah sure, they already had the epic songs before this but I feel like the great abundance of guitar harmonies on this album set the stage for nearly every band that came after them.  I always felt like The Number Of The Beast is so fucking overrated.  It’s really not that fantastic to me.

Powerlifting Progress

Today began my final week of training before my first meet on May 21st at the Ramada Inn in Newark, NJ.  On the heavy week of 5/3/1 I hit my final PR of 320lbs.  Since you’re only supposed to just hit the prescribed number of reps as you get closer to the meet I “just” hit one rep but I know I could’ve done more.  This shit was TOO easy!  But hey judge for yourself:

Too easy.  Thanks to having nothing but C4 in my system at the time of this set I got a bit carried away and cursed at and even screamed at the bar when I was done, making my girlfriend think I was pissed.  Hardly the case, but here’s some dialogue between me and her from after I finished:

Me: That was too easy!

Girlfriend: That screaming stuff is why you’d get kicked out of that other gym.

Me: Planet Fitness?

Girlfriend: Yep.

Me: Yeah?  Well fuck Planet Fitness!

But seriously though, fuck Planet Fitness.  Any gym that kicks a guy out of a gym for grunting while squatting 500lbs is NOT a real gym – and that’s a true story, by the way.  I’ll never train in Planet Fag.  I lift things up and put them down.

Here’s my entire routine for today:

Deadlift

125 x 5

155 x 5

185 x 5

255 x 5

285 x 3

320 x 1

Stationary Bike

10 minutes

50 calories burned

1.78 miles

Average HR: 115

The Ballad Of Ozzy and $haron

So I woke up this morning to the news Ozzy and Sharon are splitting, not because of drugs or alcohol.  That alone is fascinating just because he drunkenly tried to kill her back in 1989.  Too bad he didn’t get the job done!  This time it’s because she apparently went through his cellphone and discovered numerous texts and calls to celebrity hair stylist Michelle Pugh, a woman more than two decades younger than Ozz.

I can’t say I’m too shocked.  First off, if we all know anything about Ozzy we all should know he probably doesn’t even know how to operate his own phone just because he’s a dumb motherfucker.  So how could he know how to delete his own history?  Right?  It’s one thing to just look at the phone bill when it comes in but THIS was just too easy because it’s Ozzy and he’s stupid as shit.

But more important than that, could anyone blame the guy?  Look at pictures of $haron even in her youth and then look at Michelle Pugh.  Hell, I’ll help you:

Pugh

Look at that and tell me she’s not a cute woman.  I dare you to tell me that’s NOT a major upgrade from $haron in the looks department alone.  Hey, just maybe she’s even nicer than that witch.  Sure, $haron  may have saved Ozzy from drinking himself to oblivion after being booted out of Black Sabbath back in 1979, but it’s pretty much been documented for years that she’s a cunt.  Maybe Ozzy wanted a break from $haron’s overbearing attitude.  As of this writing he’s in a hotel in Beverly Hills.

But the truth is, in the end, they’ll get back together.  He’s still a puppy that needs his master and she needs a source of REAL income.  $haron herself recently admitted on The Talk that she caught him in bed with one of their kids’ nannies.  So why didn’t she ditch him then?  She said because she knew he was high as fuck at the time.  So there you have it.  She excused him them, she excused him when he nearly KILLED her and she’ll eventually excuse him for this, crawling back to each other in pure desperation, since neither of them know anything else at this point in their lives.  So…no need to make a big thing about this.

 

 

The End: Black Sabbath live and SOLD OUT at Madison Square Garden February 25th, 2016

I tried to see Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals on two different occasions.  Now, I intended on writing about this in other blogs as I went through all the concerts I went to, but I feel that would take forever and it would make sense to write about it now since I’m about to discuss the show I just went to.  When I went to see them at Ozzfest 2004 in Camden, NJ,  drummer Bill Ward came out before the band was to play and announced that Ozzy was too sick to play and Rob Halford of Judas Priest was going to sing in his place.  You couldn’t be there and complain much after that!  The next year, before we even got in inside the PNC Bank Arts Center, the girl checking our tickets told my ex-guitarist Chad and I “No Black Sabbath tonight”.  Why this time?  “Because Ozzy’s sick.”  Sure, Iron Maiden played an extended set that night but I was convinced that night that I’d never see Sabbath with Ozzy…and that Ozzy’s voice is just toast.

So when I got wind, a few weeks ago, that Sabbath had to cancel gigs in Canada because Ozzy lost his voice, the only thing I could assume was that my friend Frank was going to have to get a refund.  Little did I know how wrong I would be…and some more.  But I’ll get to that in a bit.

I arrived last night at Madison Square Garden with high expectations for the band and incredibly low expectations for Ozzy. Fuck, I really just wanted to see Tony Iommi anyway.  But I was also looking very much forward to reuniting with my buddy Frank, who got us the tickets, as well as seeing the opening bands, Rival Sons.  Rival Sons got on stage and goddamn they sound even more like Led Zeppelin live than on record!  The most obvious sign of it on their albums is the John Bonham-like drum sound.  But live, Jay Buchanan did some loud ass wailing while barefoot – that he at least had me convinced that Robert Plant found a way to defy age and join Rival Sons.  At one point Frank and I were jokingly singing Zep song titles into two of their songs because they sounds THAT MUCH like Zep songs.  I think the last time I heard anyone sound like Zep to the T was Billy Squier when he recorded “Lonely Is The Night”.

 

To our surprise we didn’t have to wait long for Sabbath to come on.  The lights in the Garden went out at 8:45pm, definitely earlier than expected.  As the sold out crowd was ROARING in excitement  a video came up on the screen.  We saw burning buildings that represented the artwork from their most recent album, 13.  Then it got really weird, like something out of a fucking Final Fantasy game.  But you can see part of it here:

So, as you can see and hear, they opened up with the title track to their self-titled debut.  And from their the broke into the classic “Fairies Wear Boots”.  Say what you want about Ozzy’s solo drummer, Tommy Clufetos, taking Bill Ward’s place for the last few years as well as the fact that his style is not as jazzy or loose as Bill’s.  But he did a really good job emulating Bill’s parts and making him his own.  Do I wish Bill was there?  Hell fuck yeah I do!  But I have to give Tommy respect for making it clear that he was paying his respects.  His DW drum kit even looks like Bill’s Tama set to the T!

Geezer Butler, as usual, was on FIRE last night!  He bass tone, even from where I was sitting in the nosebleed section, was so strong and crystal clear.  HIs fingers were moving so fast on those strings.  His playing, both wild with abandon yet perfectly arranged.  There really is no one like him.  No one.

Which brings me to Lita Ford’s favorite Superhero…as well as the main reason I even wanted to go: Tony Iommi.  This is it for him.  He’s sick, tired, stressed.  No matter what the other guys want to do after this all ends I wouldn’t expect to see him out on the road again.  The lymphoma treatments are clearly taking their toll on him.  But he still put on probably the most amazing show I’ve ever seen from him and this was the fourth time I’ve seen Tony live overall.  His playing was so fluid, so smooth yet so BRUTAL.  His riffs – so horrifying, so scary, so BRUTAL.  This motherfucker CREATED the style of music I love so much as is the primary reason I play guitar.  There will NEVER be anyone like Tony Iommi ever again.  Ever.

Then there was that big shocker of the night that I eluded to earlier.  Ozzy Osbourne, not known to have had a great singing voice since the mid 9o’s…actually sounded good!  I shit you not!  I’m pretty sure the key was that the band played songs that Ozzy could handle, which meant not straying far from their first three albums much if at all.  If you knew anything about how the guy destroyed his voice over the years you knew there was no way he was pulling out “Sabbath Blood Sabbath” or even “Megalomania” for that matter.  Although I was surprised to hear them play “Snowblind” and even more surprised to hear Ozzy hit the high notes without struggle!  He was shockingly on point last night…I guess the third time was the charm after all, eh?

THE SETLIST:

Intro video/Black Sabbath

Jack The Stripper/Fairies Wear Boots

After Forever

Into The Void (\m/\m/\m/\m/!!!!!!)

Snowblind

Wars Pigs

Behind The Wall Of Sleep/Bass Solo/NIB

Hand Of Doom

Rat Salad/Drum Solo

Iron Man

Dirty Women

Children Of The Grave

Encore: Paranoid (well, duh!)

Like I said, the band pretty much hovered around the first three albums which the exceptions of “Snowblind” and especially “Dirty Women”.  Not that Ozzy sang high in that song; but I doubt anyone expected them to pull out something off Technical Ecstacy, which was not their best album during the Ozzy years.  Either way, it was incredibly effective.  My head hurt so much from headbanging yet I refused to stop.  After the show ended we witnessed some guy who was so drunk he nearly fell down the stairs and that would have been a fucking long way down.  He instead fell on his ass and as he when to get his cigarette, which was already lit up, he mistakenly put the lit side in his mouth!

The show was in-fucking-credible, what a fitting way to say goodbye to the band that started it all.  In fact, they are playing another show at the Garden tomorrow night and will be touring through September.  Without them, and especially without Tony Iommi, there would be no heavy metal as we know it now.  For that I’ll always be thankful.

Practicing Riffs

So I just uploaded two videos of myself practicing some riffs including my own original riffs.  I plan on recording some music in the next few weeks if all goes right.  I’ve said in the past that I’m retired for band life.  I don’t miss it AT ALL but I imagine that if I ever did go into that again then I’d start a raw metal band, kind of crusty and VERY offensive.

 

 

The pickups on the Destroyer sound way better than I figured they would have.  I had a wiring issue when I first played it; turned out it the top pot needed to be replaced, which was great because I really didn’t want to replace the pickups if I didn’t have to.

Final Thoughts

Speaking of offensive…so how about Phil Anselmo’s remarks at Dimebash, eh?  I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and throw my two cents in because believe me when I tell you I’d come off as a hypocrite – and no, I’m not a white supremacist.  It’s funny that as soon as he said it was a joke made over white wine he was instantly called out because apparently he and Rita Haney were drinking alright – but not white wine.  In fact there was no white wine there at all.  But that’s not even the point because even though Phil gave a public apology as of this writing, chances are he’ll probably do it again.  The point is, for all those bands calling him out like what he did was so controversial, you obviously are all clueless to the fact that he’s done that shit before.  Hey here’s the proof for you’re viewing pleasure if you didn’t think it was bad enough that he said what he said during a show that was meant to honor his fallen bandmate  – skip to the 1:57 mark for the fun parts because White Power!  Right Phil??

Iron Maiden Live at Madison Square Garden July 30th, 2003

This was my second concert ever, just a few months after seeing Superjoint Ritual at L’Amour in Brooklyn just two months earlier, but this was my first ever arena concert – and goddamn what a way to start!  A few months earlier my cousin Mike asked me if I wanted to see Motorhead, Dio and Iron Maiden at Madison Square Garden in July.  Now…I understood Maiden and even Dio playing at the Garden.  But Motorhead?  Yeah they have such a loyal following but they never held the stature of Maiden in ticket or even album sales.  Either way I knew it would be amazing to hear a band THAT LOUD in the Garden.  So do I want to go?  Um…yeah!

I don’t really remember off the top of my head what my day was like leading into heading out to my cousin’s apartment but I do remember just thinking to myself “holy shit I’m seeing Iron Fucking Maiden tonight!”  I’d been a growing fan since my senior year of high school, probably being the only one in my high school that even liked Maiden, or any real metal for that matter.  I had heard “The Number Of The Beast” and “Run To The Hills” but once I heard “The Trooper” on WSOU one afternoon I was sold!  Then Mike called me to let me know that he’d need an extra $50 when I got to his place because he was able to upgrade our seats and we’d now be right at the second row.  How the hell did do that?  Well…he wouldn’t tell me.  Whatever.  So I got to his place in the Superjoint Ritual t-shirt I bought at their L’Amour show, green cargo shorts and my boots, gave him the $50 and to the bus we went.

We got there and the place was the best mix of scalpers and some of the sickest battle jackets I’ve ever seen.  When we walked inside my old friend Joe was doing security, and he definitely came in handy later.  Motorhead were already playing when Mike and I got to our seats.  Come to think of it I now get mixed emotions when thinking of any Motorhead show I’ve seen, mostly because of Lemmy’s health these days.  Between him and Keith Richards why the hell is it that Keith was the one that did heroin and he appears to be doing better than Lemmy?  Loud?  Yeah…ok.  Imagine their volume…especially Lemmy’s bass…but now it’s in an arena where you’re now blasting the ears of over 20,000 people.  That whole set was an explosion.  And from where wee were seated we were right at Lemmy’s side to the stage – the way it should always be!  And Mikey Dee’s bassdrums went right through me and my cousin like a second heartbeat.  Mike was not really a Motorhead fan but at that moment he definitely got a rush from the sensation of Mikey’s bassdrums.  Their set list was filled with songs ranging from their entire catalog, from their biggest songs to their least known.  It was my first time hearing their Ramones tribute song, simply called “Ramones”, “Sacrifice”, “Over The Top”, which Lemmy appropriately dedicated to himself, and then I finally heard them play “Overkill”.  I’d heard Metallica’s cover of it five years earlier as did everybody else in the world but to hear THEM do it was the single greatest point in the setlist.  After they got off stage I almost didn’t care about Maiden!

Dio was next.  They were still on tour for their most recent CD, Killing The Dragon, the title track of which they even opened up with.  This was to be my first of three times seeing Ronnie James Dio in concert – all three times with my cousin Mike no less! – and my first impression of the guy made me laugh so hard.  I mean I never realized how short this guy was, first off.  He came out wearing this black silk outfit, I mean black pants flaring out at the bottom and this black short sleeve shirt, decorated with a glitter cross.  Now don’t get me wrong, he was amazing!  His voice was so powerful on this night, just a few years before being diagnosed with the stomach cancer that eventually took him from us.  I still miss him so much.  But I know I wasn’t the only one that night wondering if he took dance lessons from a stripper either!  In fact when I began my second year in college a little over a month later THAT was what my other friends who were there and I were talking about more so than even the music!  He shook his ass and swiveled his hips way too good here.

Craig Goldy was back on guitar, replacing Doug Aldrich who left after Killing The Dragon to join Whitesnake…yeah I was confused about that myself.  Why would anyone leave ANY band for Whitesnake??  I sure wouldn’t!  Craig was damn good on guitar as he played through this setlist, which Ronnie himself dubbed “Title Track Night”, even though they still brought out “Rainbow In The Dark”.  So while we were obviously going to hear “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line” at some point they band also broke into “Heaven and Hell” to close his set.

Maiden…oh, Maiden.  When the time came for the band to come on the lights went out and you almost immediately heard those now-infamous lines from Vincent Price about the number of the beast.  We were about halfway through it when nearly everyone in the band minus Bruce Dickinson ran on stage ready to go.  I just knew he was behind that crazy ass elaborate stage they had going on, and I predicted he’d probably not show himself until the band kicked in.  After Vincent Price finished speaking Dave Murray started chugging away at the beginning of “The Number of The Beast”.  You heard Bruce hit that scream….still no sign of him..the next verse kicks in…there he is!!  In pure Michael Jackson style he was catapulted from beneath a platform on the stage and right away began jumping down the step with the energy of someone half his age.  The whole band are playing away like their lives depended on it and this motherfucker is doing Olympic style hurdles over the onstage monitors while singing and not even screwing up a single note.  He was in his mid-forties at this point – show me a younger front man from this time period that could do that shit too!

Oh right – the music!  It was a trip hearing THREE guitarists playing an assload of classics originally performed by just two.  Right after the first song finished Bruce just yells out in his high pitched wail “THE TROOPEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!” and all three guitarists broke in to the song that made me a Maiden fan for good.  Bruce goes away for a minute while the crowd of 20,000 hears Janick, Dave and Adrian pull off a sick three part harmony before he comes back out in an army outfit.  NICE!  I really wish I could find footage of this show but I can’t because they did a bunch of classics, “Die With Your Boots On”, “Revelations”, “The Clairvoyant” (not one of my favorites).  Then Bruce gave a speech about how the band didn’t give a shit about record sales our how we heard their music so long as we heard it, before playing “Wildest Dreams” off of their then-forth coming CD Dance Of Death, telling everyone to take it “…and download it to all your friends!”.  Oh Bruce, you funny guy, you.  The show ended with the encore, “Run To The Hills”, which I really wanted to do for other reasons when the show was done.  But I cane say that this was one of THE best concerts I’ve ever been to.

After the show was done Mike and I waited for my friend Joe to get out so we could go home on the ferry together.  I’d love to know how the fuck we wound up walking to the train with this weird looking gay couple, one of the two guys talking to me, randomly switching subjects from why James Hetfield had to go to rehab to how his boyfriend’s family was the cause of his ulcers.  Right… While on the train I saw some in shape looking guy with this nasty looking chubby chick with John Lennon’s signature tattooed on the back of her neck.   Once we got off the ferry Joe drove us both home, which was a hell of a lot better than possibly taking the bus that late at night.  That next morning I felt fuckin’ pumped!  I woke up a lot earlier than I should’ve and hit the gym before going to work.  Getting of the bus from work I recognized this chick with a John Lennon tattoo on her neck – it was the chubby chick from the train.  “You were at the show last night”, I said.  So we spoke for a minute until she said the words that made me think she lost her fuckin’ mind: “Motorhead SSSUCKED!”  WHAT?!?!  Bitch have lost your fuckin’ mind?!?!?!  Oh it gets better: “Lemmy looked like he was sucking a dick the way he had his microphone positioned too!”.  I have to admit, I did find that part a bit funny…but sucked??  I can happily say I haven’t seen her since!

Random Thoughts

New Trivium…and I Think I Like It…Uh Oh!

Over two weeks ago Roadrunner Records released the new music video for the title track to Trivium’s upcoming October 2nd release Silence In The Snow.  The only reason I even gave it a listen was just so I can say that it sucked balls.  I was a fan of them starting in 2005 when I bought Ascendancy and thought that these kids had a shitload of potential and that as they progressed their shit would get better – and it did for a while!  Their next two CDs, The Crusade and Shogun were far more metal sounding and far more mature than Ascendancy and you either supported them for growing up and doing different things or you refused to grow up, understand that no band can do the same thing forever and move on.  That’s exactly what happened with Trivium.

Starting with The Crusade I was hearing a lot of bitching from people: “This sucks!  Ascendancy is better because it’s more metalcore!”.  “Fuck these posers, trying to sound like Metallica all the time!”  And by the way, you dumb motherfuckers who made those Metallica complaints…please…just…open your ears and tell me if you really think that Kirk Hammett in his prime could play any of Matt Heafy’s or Corey Bealieu’s leads – and without raping that fucking wah pedal!  Tell me that Lars in his prime could handle Travis Smith’s drum patterns.  Ok, so maybe Matt sounded a tad like James in the singing department but I’d rather that than just screaming to breakdowns all the time and not developing to become a better vocalist.

Then something happened.  They seemingly gave into those immature fuckheads that bitched and moaned about their music because it wasn’t Ascendancy parts 2, 3, 4 and 5, and decided to please these “fans”, or so it seems, by pretty much dumbing down everything they had done before.  The result?  In Waves, probably the worst regression I’ve ever seen in a band.  Ever hear the title track?  The opening breakdown broke my heart…so metalcore…I immediately had visions of stupid kids with their hair super glued to the side doing stupid dance moves.  I heard a few other tracks to try and give it a chance but I couldn’t get into it at all.  Worse?  Their next album was produced by none other than David Draiman.  So I totally wrote Trivium off.

Then this video was released two weeks ago:

Pretty different…pretty much avant garde…but what the fuck is with Corey circle headbanging blindfolded?  Is Matt just randomly bleeding?  What’s with the cute Asian not being told how to properly hold a guitar?  And while bleeding too?  But more than that…doesn’t Matt sound a slight bit like Myles Kennedy here while singing the verses?  Oh shit his singing voice is suddenly WAY better.  No screaming at all…not even a bit?  Ok…so the riffs are still simple as fuck…but damn are they heavy!  What’s that?  This was inspired by the band’s time touring with Heaven and Hell, you say?  This song was originally written during the sessions for Shogun??  Score!!!!!

Then came this other leaked song just this past week:

Uh oh…this sounds really good too.  This musically speaking is a really good mix of old-school playing with modern edge guitar tones.  Just listen to that slow part – goddamn!  And Matt’s voice?  Great work harmonizing with himself!  Great singing altogether!  I don’t know that ditching screaming altogether will work out in the end but we’ll all have to wait until October to find out for sure.  But for now, not bad boys, you just might win me back as a fan – just don’t fuck it up again!

New Maiden…And I Like It!!

That shouldn’t be a surprise to any REAL metalhead worth a shit; but truth be told, I’ve been kind of disappointed with Iron Maiden for 12 years.  When I was 16 Iron Maiden v4.0 was THE SHIT.  Bruce and Adrian were back and they now were a six-piece with THREE guitar players since they chose to keep Janick Gers with them.  That’s awfully nice of them but let’s face it – if Janick were gone tomorrow most people would cruelly show just how much happier they’d be just because it was Adrian and Dave again.  I’m not one of them though.  Why?  Because I liked Brave New WorldIt was a fantastically written, thought out album.  The title track alone is incredible as is the lead off single, “The Wickerman” – that track is just badass!

Three years passed and they released their next album, Dance of Death.  Dude…what the fuck?  I get that bands need to evole to survive and/or feel excited for years to come but this…this was just weak as FUCK and absolutely boring.  The epics on it…I used their longest epic for a bathroom break during my days as a college DJ several times but man it was such a dramatic decline because their most memorable shit is the epics.  It’s sad when Bruce’s next solo album, Tyranny of Souls, had WAY more balls to it than his own band’s material!  Three years later we were given A Matter of Life and Death.  I was officially scared and I blame producer Kevin Shirley because he encouraged the band to “loosen up”.  I feel like in “loosening up” the band completely changed, they became too rock and roll for my taste.  I could NEVER hate Iron Fucking Maiden, but I didn’t know that I’d ever buy their shit again and I haven’t since 2003.

Then I heard this!

Holy shit does this sound old school as FUCK!  Am I listening to something from Piece of Mind???  All that’s missing here are the crazy ass guitar harmonies, but you can’t get everything.  Right?  But at least we know that they’ve still got it!  Listen to Bruce hitting those notes!  How many people pushing 60 do YOU know that can still sing as amazingly as Bruce Dickinson?  I’ll wait.

Another Reminder of Changing Times

I took my girlfriend to Manhattan for her birthday this past weekend because she wanted to go to the Museum of Sex and see Funland, which is a boobie bounce house.  I shit you not this does exist.  Here’s the proof:

boob-bounce-house[1]

You – yes, you! – can bounce around in plastic titties for an extra $15!  I’d still prefer the real thing though!  But before we walked all the way there from Port Authority I really needed to eat something so we got Pizza across the street from 2 Brothers, which is doing really good at expanding their stores with $1 Pizza.  The problem?  One of the guys behind the counter was playing the most annoying Reggaeton you could find.  Bad enough that shit is just horrid to begin with.  I like a lot of different kinds of music…but…Reggaeton, like Dub Step, is to music what rape is dating, like Kobe Bryant was to the hotel employee in Colorado, just a nonstop fucking assault – but to your ears.  And it just…won’t…stop.  That same, annoying “beat” is pounding away worse than even house music ever could, and possibly with even more bass!!  That shit was stuck in our heads for a while.

After going to the Museum of Sex and discovering that fake titty land was closed, probably for maintenance, we decided to go towards St. Marks Pl.  It was during that long ass walk that my girlfriend let me know that Trash And Vaudeville were finally closing shop and relocating after forty years in that block.  I was aware that they were being stubborn about ever doing it, being that they were the one piece of the old St. Mark’s that I remember that’s still standing, they weren’t going anywhere.  But, like most historic places in Lower Manhattan, the pressure of increased rent was finally seeping in.  And as we arrived at the block I can see why.  The whole block has pretty much become yet another tourist trap: restaurants, a Barcade, Karaoke, Bongs and even a 7 Eleven.  Yeah, that’s not a mistype.  I first discovered St. Mark’s Pl. had a 7 Eleven in 2012.  St. Mark’s Pl. and the Village as a whole used to have so much more character than THIS.  And if you’re in you’re early 30’s like I am or even older you know how awesome the place used to be.

I remember getting a good chunk of my metal shirts from places in the Village that are no longer in business because of rent and because of the faggot ass hipsters that came in.  I used to love hanging out on W. 8th St.  I met some really amazing people there.  Of course most of them were strange as fuck but some of them were fucking awesome.  I bought my first leather jacket there, as well as my leather vest, which I still have, and even my first real biker watch at this place called Leather Master, which along with the comic store I used to go to and the places I used to by my clothes at, are all gone thanks to increased rent.  The Mars Bar, an infamous punk rock dive bar I discovered through this crazy chick that frequented the place a lot…closed and is now Jupiter 21, a nice 12 story condo.  Although I feel the beginning of the end came around the tail end of 2006 when Hilly Kristal, after years of dodging eviction, finally caved in and shut down CBGB.  Even being landmarked by Mayor Bloomberg of all people couldn’t save the place, so what does that tell you??

I never bought anything from Trash and Vaudeville, I always found their clothes too extreme for my tastes.  But I understand and respect the history it provides.  It may be relocating to a cheaper and safer building (from what Bobby, a store employee told me), and that’s great.  But in the end it just puts the final nail in the coffin of a place that began loosing it’s character a decade ago.  Sure, Sounds is still there.  But that place seems to me like just another generic music store, although it does have more Henry Rollins CDs than I’ve ever seen anywhere else.  Around the time the Mars Bar went out of business someone spray painted on a wall “THE EAST VILLAGE IS DEAD”.  Well, that person is absolutely right and it kills me to see what it’s become.  My only hope now is that Bleeker St and the streets surrounding it remain the way they are for years to come.  It’d be a shame to lose The Bitter End!  I played there once in 2012, what an honor that was.  Café Wha? is another place like that.  It’s a landmark much like CGGB was but we saw how much that mattered, right?  It’d also be huge blow to lose Generation Records, a record store I find to be the equivalent of Vintage Vinyl in New Jersey.  It’s bad enough Bleeker Bob’s finally went under two years ago.  I was there the day before they closed, the owner told me he was hoping to relocate but I still haven’t heard of that happening and I sadly am not holding my breath either.