Whitesnake, Arch/Matheos + Others
Here are some of the new albums that come out today.
Whitesnake – Flesh & Blood
I’ll admit that I’m more of a fan of the Whitesnake albums John Sykes played on more than any others, and I’ve never considered myself a huge fan at all. For my money, David Coverdale’s best work has Glenn Hughes doubling his vocals in Deep Purple. I’ve never been a huge fan of his voice.
But once that second album with Skyes dropped, call it 1987 or call it Whitesnake, it was huge, and the band skyrocketed all around the world. It became the David Coverdale band and not just that other band besides Rainbow that fragmented from Deep Purple.
My opinion aside, he’s always found great players to write music with. He may not be the greatest lyricist, but checks off all of the right boxes for his fans, and knowing how to pick out great players, great songs, great melodies, etc. is as important as being a great singer/frontman. For years people have been saying his voice is shot, but they’re still doing gangbusters when out on tour. What I’ve mentioned above is an opinion, my opinion, and in this day and age people mix opinion with fact, and the fact of the matter is Whitesnake is alive and well.
Will this album take over as your favorite by the band? Probably not, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t like it all the same. As I state above, David Coverdale knows how to check off all the right boxes, as much as someone like Tommy Lee doesn’t like being compared to this band, Whitesnake has never done anything to alienate their fanbase.
Has that sold them as many albums as Motley Crue? Nope, but at least they haven’t tried following every trend that’s popped up along the way. Listen to a song like “Shut Up & Kiss Me”, and it sounds like Whitesnake, and it sounds modern, a mix of the best of both worlds.
It doesn’t sound like Whitesnake trying to do Imagine Dragon or Disturbed, and it doesn’t sound like a blatant rip-off of a chart topping song like “Still Of The Night”. Even the video for the track is a nod back to their heyday with the women and the Jaguar but modernized to feature all types of women, not just the supermodel/actress featured in most late 80s videos.
Arch/Matheos – Winter Ethereal
I wrote a little be about this album a week ago, since then I have been able to listen to most of Winter Ethereal, and love it, as in end-of-year list love. As I mentioned previously, I can’t consider myself a huge progressive metal guy, although there are things within prog that I enjoy.
Thanks to last week’s new releases list I started to listen to Tunisian band Myrath, and have listened to little else since, they are a progressive metal band that mixes in aspects of Arabic music. This album is one of the exceptions, where Sympathetic Resonance was great and was full-on progressive metal, this is really an amalgam of what Jon Arch and Jim Matheos were originally known for, a mix between Priest and Maiden, and how Fates Warning ended up evolving into a progressive metal juggernaut.
The album is much more diverse, and presents you with several styles of metal for you to digest along the way, making it more than just some celebrated musicians releasing a paint by numbers album. The shortest song is the great “Straight And Narrow” that clocks in at 4:20, with the longest being “Kindred Spirits” which is 13:01. But, the album is composed in such a way that no song feels long and dragged out, it’s a musical journey with several landscapes that keep you entertained, and don’t feel like you have to skip to the next song because there is just an over the top amount of self-absorbed soloing.
Spin Adrift – Divided By Darkness
We’ll chalk this up to the “new to me” category, as this is actually the band’s third album. The band is labeled as a doom band, and their imagery is totally Sabbath influenced, but they honestly sound like a band that listened to NWOBHM bands like Diamond Head, and Witchfinder General, mixed with some Randy Rhodes era Ozzy, and Ride The Lightning era Metallica.
The song structures and production really remind me of that time period in the 80s. But the band does more than just copy that celebrated period of music, as they infuse some memorable melodies over top of heavy crunching riffs. If you’re looking to check out a band that sounds old school and is trying to separate themselves from the pack, this may be the band for you.
Sammy Hagar & The Circle – Space Between
I have to tell you, two of the drabbest bands I’ve listened to over the last decade are the supergroups Chickenfoot and Black Country Communion. Both bands have a ton of potential given the players, and while I was waiting for either band to present me with knock out of your socks moments, it’s been pretty vanilla, and boring for both, at least for me.
I have always been a huge fan of Jason Bonham’s from his band Bonham to Motherland, he seemed to be more than just a Bonzo clone, but somewhere along the way, it seems like he stopped fighting, stopped resisting, and just fell into that clone category. I get it, it’s hard to escape the groundwork his father laid, but man, John Bonham played more than one pattern, and most of his clones pick something like “Kashmire” and never deviate all that much from what he played during that song.
I’ve been very vocal about how I thought California Breed was a much better project than BCC, mostly because Andrew Watt laid down some absolutely bombastic guitar licks, and both Glenn Hughes, and Jason Bonham were on top of their game. When I heard Jason left the band to go play covers with Sammy Hagar, I thought what is he doing?
Oh, he’s going to play Montrose, and Zeppelin covers with Sammy, great, what a waste. He’s obviously entitled to do what he wants and maybe this is me thinking he’s got so much more to offer, than being anyone’s clone, or just a drummer in a bunch of cover bands. Again, his prerogative, but nothing I’ve heard off of this album excites me, Vic Johnson does some pretty cool solos, but the songs just feel like leftover pieces that have been pieced together, case in point “Trust Fund Baby”. Finally a different drum pattern by Jason, and a really cool riff, but then the melodies, and structure are just odd.
Seems like it’s a bunch of ideas they found on pro-tools, and just kind of slapped them together. People ask why rock doesn’t hit a nerve with a lot of kids, and it’s because of music like this.
A bunch of grandpas just mailing it in, Montrose was dangerous, Van Halen was groundbreaking, Soundbarrier fought against stereotypes, and showed that they could be as metal as anyone else.
This is a bunch of guys living off of their past, and showing exactly why rock has lost ground. They’re no longer hungry, no longer want to prove a point, it’s just eh, ok, we’ll make a record, feels like they’ve conformed, and are now the suits behind the desk smoking the cigars and counting the money.
And why is this Sammy Hagar & The Circle? Michael Anthony has broken more ground as a bass player, backup singer, and showman than anyone else in this band. They aren’t selling tees in Hot Topic or looking to get fans of Vampire Weekend into them, they’re playing to a hardcore audience, mostly Van Halen/Van Hagar fans, so why is Sammy’s name in lights?
Is it a wealth thing because Sammy has made more money out of them, but that mostly has to do with his deals outside of music. I’m sure there are people that will disagree with me, and there are people that will dig this, and that’s cool, this is just my opinion but I want to be excited, and entertained, and this does neither.
Here are some other releases that may interest you:
Possessed – Revelations Of Oblivion
Danny Worsnop – Shades Of Blue
Abnormality – Sociopathic Constructs
BillyBio – Freedom’s Never Free EP
Lice – Woe Betide You
Martyrdod – Hexhammaren
Port Noir – The New Routine
Paul McCartney – Egypt Station: The Traveller’s Edition Box Set
Cradle Of Filth – Live At Dynamo Open Air 1997
Machine Head – Live At Dynamo Open Air 1997
Metal Church – Metal Church Vinyl
Static-X – Wisconsin Death Trip Vinyl
Thrice – Artist In The Ambulance Vinyl
Article by Victor M. Ruiz of Mars Attacks Radio & Podcast, and Galaxy Of Geeks Podcast. Connect with him on Twitter: @vmr907