Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dark Suites Music Reviews

Concert Review
Rockstar Mayhem Fest (Lamb of God, Rob Zombie, Korn)

The temps are reaching the high 110’s, the air is dry and sometimes humid and the monsoons pop in and out with violent winds and rain. Yes its summer time in Arizona which also means its outdoor concert time. The summer is full of festivals from Ozzfest, to Rockstar Mayhem. I got a chance to go to this year’s annual Rockstar Mayhem Fest which took place in Phoenix Az. This year’s billing had a very diverse showing. I am going to focus on the headliners of the show which was Lamb of God, Rob Zombie and Korn.
This was my first time seeing Lamb of God and they really put their all into their performance. I have to admit that I’m not one of their biggest fans but I still had a blast watching them tear apart the Cricket Pavilion stage. The highlights of their set list were Walk with Me in Hell and the heart pounding Redneck.
Rob Zombie took the stage next. His stage setup was very elaborate. It consisted of three large screens with the biggest one being holstered from the top of the stage. He had a large robot prop that he stood atop of and had animal skulls covering various parts of the stage and drums. Zombie is a known horror fan and his live performances are no exception. When the lights dimmed the organ playing from the Phantom of the Opera blared through the PA system. We then were treated to various sound bites from What Lurks on Channel X. From there the Curtain dropped and Zombie went into an energetic version of Superbeast. Zombie’s entire set was very popular with the fans with the exception of the new songs off his new album. No one hated them they just wanted to hear more classic Zombie. Right before Zombie sang Living Dead Girl he called on the women in the audience to show their goods. I can happily report that the men in the audience were not disappointed.
One other highlight of the night for me was John 5’s guitar solo. Holy shit can this guy play. During Thunderkiss 65 the music stopped and he walked to the middle of the stage and wailed away on his Stratocaster. His solo ranged from metal to the blues and everything in between. John 5 ended his solo by playing the Star Spangled Banner with his mouth, Jimi Hendrix style. Needless to say the crowd went nuts. To end his set Zombie showed the clip from the Munsters where Herman is drag racing and crashes his hot rod. This went into the drumming for Dragula. Zombie had two guys dressed up in demon outfits banging on the drums. His set was nothing short of amazing and I was satisfied even though Korn hadn’t taken the stage yet.
Korn closed out the night and did a respectable job. They opened their set with Here to Stay. Their stage setup consisted of oil rigs that moved up and down to the music. They also had fire spewing from both ends of the stage. This was my third time seeing Korn live so I was more interested in hearing them sing their newer songs. Oildale songs good live but they primarily stuck to the classics which is a smart thing to do these days. By the end of their set I was soaked in the water that the fire department sprayed on the fans and was partially dehydrated from my long day. I knew it was time to go home and dream about what a kick ass show it was.

Lamb of God
1. The Passing
2. In Your Words
3. Set to Fail
4. Walk With Me In Hell
5. Now You've Got Something To Die For
6. Laid to Rest
7. Redneck
8. Black Label

Rob Zombie
1. What Lurks on Channel X?
2. Superbeast
3. Scum of the Earth
4. Living Dead Girl
5. More Human Than Human
6. Sick Bubble-Gum
7. House Of 1000 Corpses
8. Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)
9. Mars Needs Women
10. Thunder Kiss '65
11. John 5 Solo
12. School's Out
13. Dragula

1. Here to Stay
2. Right Now
3. Did My Time
4. Uber-Time
5. Oildale (Leave Me Alone)
6. Falling Away From Me
7. Somebody Someone
8. Let the Guilt Go
9. Freak on a Leash
10. Blind
11. Shoots and Ladders
12. Clown
13. Got the Life

--Steven M. Duarte

Korn III: Remember Who You Are
Review written by Steven M. Duarte

I’m really starting to think that Korn is not sure what direction to take with their new music. They were supposedly “starting over,” as the 1st track off their untitled album was called in their 2007 untitled release. This previous album was their big new direction and was supposed to show how they evolved as a band. They even had a song called evolution on the album. That album was definitely different as they used more electronica sounds and bordered the mainstream pop sound.

So now three years later and yet there going through another change of direction in their career. This time Korn has decided that it’s best for them to go back to their roots. The album is called Remember who you are as they wanted to go back to their sound from the Korn (1994) album era. Now that’s completely fine with me but a little bit of consistency would be nice. I mean come on your either old school Korn or you’re a new evolved version of Korn. There shouldn’t be any back and forth. Ok now that my rant is over on to the music.

Remember who you are really is a different album from their previous release. They have gone back to their previous sound that they made famous during the mid to late 90’s. Their first single Oildale really shows this new more aggressive Korn sound. Fiedly’s bass pops are much more pronounced as they were back in the old days. Recent releases have tamed down his sound so it’s nice being able to hear him loud and clear again. Pop a Pill has heavy down tuned guitar playing by guitarist Munky and is also very reminiscent of something they would have originally been put out in 1998. There are a couple of songs that still carry over some of the sound from the previous album. The Past could have potentially been on the previous album as a bonus track. So while they have changed their sound they still have retained some elements from their “experimental album.”

The album is much better than their previous release even though some consider their previous release to be a concept album. Even so I never saw their previous release as a concept album just as a confused band of not knowing where to go. I am happy to say that Korn appears to be back on track and will continue to tear down arenas with their old nu metal sound.

1. “Oildale (Leave Me Alone)”
2. “Pop a Pill”
3. “Fear is a Place to Live”
4. “Move On”
5. “Lead the Parade”
6. “Let the Guilt Go”
7. “The Past”
8. “Never Around”
9. “Are You Ready to Live?”
10. “Holding All These Lies”

--Steven M. Duarte

Bruce Springsteen- Nebraska (1982)
Review by Nickolas Cook

Nebraska was recorded in The Boss's bedroom, on a simple 4 track cassette recorder. This is one of the starkest albums you'll ever hear. A soundtrack for lost dreams and the disenchanted across an American wasteland. Stripped down beautifully to vocals and acoustic guitar and harmonica on most of its songs, Springsteen's ability to tell stories with his lyrics has never been more powerful than this album. It'll bring tears to your eyes to hear songs such as My Father's House, and then he'll make you boogie down to Atlantic City. Not a mediocre tune on the whole thing. This is American folk rock at its best and most emotive.

1. "Nebraska" – 4:25
2. "Atlantic City" – 3:50
3. "Mansion on the Hill" – 4:01
4. "Johnny 99" – 3:41
5. "Highway Patrolman" – 5:41
6. "State Trooper" – 3:09
7. "Used Cars" – 3:04
8. "Open All Night" – 2:52
9. "My Father's House" – 5:36
10. "Reason to Believe" – 4:06

--Nickolas Cook

Byron Metcalf\Mark Selig\Steve Roach- Nada Terma (2008)
review by Nickolas Cook

This is an aural experience meant to lull the listener into a trance-like state. There's a heavy emphasis on drums running counterpoint, along with sustained low octave keyboards and several instruments that tend to mimic Tuvan throatsingers and didjeridus. Perfect for lowering the lights in the sweatlodge and letting your consciousness fly free for a bit. This is great mood music, if you're looking for something to just drift through, mind and spirit as one, man.

1. Nada Terma, Pt. 1
2. Nada Terma, Pt. 2
3. Nada Terma, Pt. 3
4. Nada Terma, Pt. 4
5. Nada Terma, Pt. 5
6. Nada Terma, Pt. 6
7. Nada Terma, Pt. 7

--Nickolas Cook

Steely Dan- Aja (1977)
Review by Nickolas Cook

What can you say about one of the biggest selling albums of the 70s? This was certainly Steely Dan's most popular album of their long musical career, both as a group and combined solo efforts. That's not to say that this is even the best thing they've recorded, but there was a certain kind of magic about this collection of near-perfect recordings, a smooth blend of rock jazz, that spoke to the American culture in the late 70s like few other albums could. It wasn't disco enough to make the club rounds, but it sure hit the right notes with Mr. and Mrs. Suburban America. Not doubt this was on every hi-fi turntable across the country at least once a week.
If you've never had the pleasure of hearing some of the tracks on this superior album, do yourself a favor and find it, buy it, listen and learn. Between Donald Fagan and Walter Becker, these songs find a place in the American cosmopolitan soul and stir the energies that make for heady times in a nighttime cityscape, driving neon lit streets and steamy back alleyways.
Personal favs, definitely Deacon Blues (see video below), a song that has a sort of anthem-like quality for the disenfranchised; another song that hit the airwaves and took over was Peg, a devotional to a glamorous beauty, perhaps an homage to the spirit and excitement of the 70s.
Oh, and I'm sure any fan of the Doobie Brothers is sure to recognize some of the backing vocals are courtesy of Mr. Doobie himself, Michael McDonald.

1. "Black Cow" – 5:10
2. "Aja" – 7:57
3. "Deacon Blues" – 7:37
4. "Peg" – 3:57
5. "Home at Last" – 5:34
6. "I Got the News" – 5:06
7. "Josie" – 4:33

--Nickolas Cook