Continuing our Metal series, Max Cavalera’s (Cavalera Conspiracy, ex-Sepultura) band Soulfly have really outdone themselves and risen to a new level of musicianship. The disconnected rhythms have matured into a refined Thrash Metal that most bands in this genre seek to achieve. This new finesse made me research for any changes in the line-up–and sure enough, Max’s son Zyon is the new drummer. Guitarrist Marc Rizzo sounds very good as well. This is an excellent album and makes me wonder if tomorrow’s Sepultura record will be as good as this one.
Christian Metal band Stryper are back with a 1980s style Heavy Metal that has them energized and sounding better than ever. Their songs are faster, the lyrics are smarter, and the riffs speedier. I still think they could benefit from stronger vocals, but this is much better than what they sounded even in the beginning of their career 30 years ago.
Continuing our Metal series through December 31st, Avenged Sevenfold’s latest album continues where their previous work left off. The energy instilled by Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, despite the fact that he is not part of this record, is still palpable: the songs have a heavier beat, they are faster, and the band still seems to be playing catch up with the drums. Not bad for a Metal album but still not great.
Legendary band Motörhead, founded and led by former Hawkwind bassist Lemmy, are back with a groovy album that fulfills Lemmy’s promise of new “Rock and Roll” songs in 2013–at least that’s what he called them during their concert earlier this year here in Oklahoma City. This is typical Motörhead but with a bluesy twist not seen since their 80s albums. This is a band I learned to enjoy; they parallel AC/DC and others in that they sound basically the same in every record but always feature fresh and powerful riffs.
Former The Runaways guitarrist Joan Jett is back with the energy and lyrics that made her a Punk Rock icon known around the world for her irreverence and rebellion against the status quo. Her latest album is probably her best one in at least a decade, and it is full of her typical riffs and angry vocals. But there is something a little different here as well: she has been thinking about life and death, and that is reflected in her songs. This was a pleasant surprise that warrants a second serving!
Susan Boyle’s new Christmas album is another example of how business savvy she is: holiday albums tend to sell well for a short while, but if you can include a name such as Elvis Presley in a duet, you are guaranteed to make it a classic. This is more of the same as far as this genre is concerned, but I am not sure we can say “more of the same” when it comes to Susan Boyle and her Cinderella story.
Last year Lunch To The Sound brought to you a full week’s worth of Holiday albums. But, as indicated back then, I don’t really like this kind of music. So, in order not to negatively affect my reviews of Holiday music during this season, I chose only two albums. Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red is a very good Christmasy record with traditional songs and newer takes on not-so-Christmasy songs that is sure to entertain while you do something else. This is not the kind of album to pay much attention to, but it makes for good background music.
No Age are a Punk Rock band that seem to be losing their drive to produce quality music. This album was nearly a complete let down, but still had a couple of moments that were reminiscent of Green Day. With so many good bands available, there really is no reason to spend more time listening to this one.
Today is a very special day: this is the 300th Lunch To The Sound! And to celebrate I had to listen to a very special album. Paul McCartney’s New was released 50 years after his debut with The Beatles (Please Please Me) in 1963. He still has the energy, the voice and the innovative skills that made him one of Rock’s greatest artists of all time. McCartney offers a range of songs that showcase his proven talents and serve once more to prove that age is no obstacle to the outstanding music that still runs through his veins. I am glad I saved this one for today.