The Very Beast Of Vol. 2 Another Hard Rocking Tribute To RJD

Courtesy: Niji Entertainment Group

Ronnie James Dio was not a tall man when he was with us.  That was the very first thing that most audiences noticed about him at any live performance.  But while he was not a tall man in terms of stature, he was a giant in the way of his vocal power and prowess.  Perhaps the only vocalist who deserves to be compared at his level of power and talent would be Judas Priest front man Rob Halford.  And as was the case with Halford and his band mates in Judas Priest, the music crafted by RJD and his metal brethren serves to this day as an example of everything right with rock and metal.  Now almost three years after Dio’s untimely passing from stomach cancer, the legendary vocalist is being honored once more with the brand new release of Dio:  The Very Beast of Vol. 2.

Dio:  The Very Beast of Vol. 2 is the follow-up to 2000’s The Very Beast of Dio.  While it isn’t the only career retrospective from this legendary artist, it was a relatively comprehensive compilation at the time of its release.  It covered a large portion of James’ solo career.  This new compilation covers the second half of RJD’s solo career.  As noted in the compilation’s liner notes, the songs on this compilation come from RJD’s time post-Warner Bros.  One of the bonuses included is the song, ‘Electra.’  Ronnie had been working on the song for the second half of the Magica album.  Sadly it would be one of Dio’s final recordings before his death in 2010.  The best way to describe ‘Electra’ is old school rock at its best.  There’s almost a slight Type O Negative tinge to it, musically speaking.  Dio’s vocals are just as powerful as ever on this track.

‘Electra’ is just one of the many songs that will have fans putting their horns high with pride.  ‘Metal Will Never Die’ is another high point to this compilation.  It’s a slower piece.  But the guitar work and RJD’s vocals are a powerhouse together. The production of the song makes his vocals hit even harder, too.  When he hits the song’s high notes, his screams will simply send chills up listeners’ spines.  If ever there was a metal anthem, this one is it.

Whether it’s these two songs, or any of the others included here, every one of the Dio Disciples around the globe will find something enjoyable about this record.  It’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct through his official website, http://www.ronniejamesdio.com and hit Facebook Fan page, http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio.   

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VOD’s New LP One Of Its Best, One Of 2012’s Best

Courtesy: Candlelight Records

Vision of Disorder is one of the progenitors of an entire genre of metal.  This Long Island, NY based band is really to thank for the popularity of metalcore and so much more of what goes on today in the metal community.  Being that it was so far ahead of its time, it’s no wonder that the band ended up breaking up at one point.   But thankfully, the band has reunited and released an album in The Cursed Remain Cursed that is easily one of the best metal/hard rock albums of 2012.Next to Hellyeah’s Band of Brothers, VOD’s new record is that extra shot of adrenaline that the metal community has needed for so long.  Far too often bands that have broken up have come back with loads up hype, but have failed to live up to said hype.  That’s not the case here.  This LP is a take no prisoners album that comes at listeners from the very opening moments of ‘Loveless’ and doesn’t let up its attack a single bit throughout the rest of its run time.  Whereas the band’s earlier works were rife with raw energy, the band has seemed to take that energy on this album and really direct it in a precise direction.  Tim Williams’ vocals are as strong as ever.  As powerful Williams’ vocals are, one can see where Chimaira vocalist Mark Hunter might have gotten the influence for his vocal style.

The speed/thrash style churned out by the band on ‘Annihilator’ is just one of so many examples of what makes this album such a solid piece.  Again, Williams’ vocals are as strong as ever.  Add in the razor sharp guitar work of Matt Baumbach and Mike Kennedy and drummer Brendon Cohen’s equally impressive drumming, and audiences get one of the album’s highest of highs, musically speaking.  ‘The Enemy’ is much in the same vein.  It has those precise guitars.  What’s interesting here is that Williams actually tries his hand a little bit at singing, along with his screaming vocals.  Surprisingly, it works, too, making for a totally different musical environment in those sections in which he sings.

VOD has so much more to offer its listeners on this album than what can be noted here.  And fans will get to hear even more from the band as it’s currently touring in support of its new album.  The band is performing in Worcester, MA today.  They’re being joined by Misfits, Shadows Fall, This is Hell, and Freya.  The band’s next performance after today’s show is next Friday in Amityville, NY.  Fans can get a full tour itinerary online at http://www.facebook.com/VisionOfDisorder.

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Glasscloud Debut Seamlessly Branches Metal, Post-Hardcore Worlds

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Hampton, Virginia based Glass Cloud’s debut record, “The Royal Thousand” is one of the most interesting records to be released by a band this year in the screamo-post hardcore genre.  This band is more akin to Chimaira than its peers.  The electronics and heavy, crunching, down-tuned guitars mixed in with the voal prowess of front man Jerry Roush make this a record that really branches the two genres together, and brings together audiences from both sides of the musical spectrum.

The album starts off full force with what is easily one of its best songs in ‘White Flag.’  It’s ironic that the album would start with this track, considering that a white flag stands for surrender.  If anything, this song shows that Glass Cloud has no intention to surrender whether it be to audiences who expect the band to be this or that or to label heads who would treat its members in similar fashion.  The album’s intensity keeps up after ‘White Flag’ in ‘If He Dies.’  It goes back and forth between a mild gentility, with Rousch actually singing a little, and absoluate brutality.  Guitarist Josh Travis’s effects are incredible on this song.  Again, it brings the band up to the level of Chimaira.  Considering this is the band’s debut record, that is saying something.

‘Ivy and Wine’ is another high point to “The Royal Thousand.”  It bears that same intensity as the album’s first two tracks.  Not only do Rousch and Travis shine again here, but drummer Chad Hasty’s precision adds another extra level to the song.  A video for the song is available online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmwcT7pjfKM.  ‘Prelude For A Ghost’ is the only moment on this record in which the band eases up.  The instrumental is placed precisely in the middle of the track listing.  It gives listeners just enough time to gather themselves before the band launches right back into its assault with ‘All Along.’  That vibe gets stepped up even more as the album nears its end on ‘Counting Sheep.’  This speed metal style piece continues to bridge the gap of the post-hardcore and metal worlds seamlessly. 

The band is currently out on tour right now in support of “The Royal Thousand” on the “Scream It Like You Mean It 2012” tour.  The band is scheduled to perform at Soma tonight in San Diego, California.  It will be at the Fremont East District tomorrow in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Fans can get a full tour listing and keep up with all the latest from the band online at http://www.facebook.com/glasscloud, http://twitter.com/glasscloud, and http://youtube.com/glasscloudtv.   

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New Feel Good Mixtape Will Make Listeners Feel Good

Courtesy: Persistent Heart Media/Indianola Records

Metal/Post-Hardcore and rap/hip-hop are two entirely separate entities in the music world.  So when one thinks of a rocker trying his hand at the rap world, the first thought would be that doing such likely wouldn’t be a good idea.  But on the new mixtape release from his rap/hip-hop project, Feel Good!,  former This Day Will Tell bassist Robby Tucker shows that it is possible for a rocker to enter a wholly different world and succeed.

“Weekend Life” is a surprisingly solid outing for Tucker, boasting more than enough material to please any basshead and beat lover.  Add in a largely positive lyrical vibe, and this release will be even more of a fan favorite.  It should be noted however, that there is more than enough foul language to qualify this release for a parental advisory sticker.  In other words, while it is a lyrically positive release, it’s not exactly kid friendly.  One of the more uplifting pieces on “Weekend Life” comes in the form of ‘Before The Show’.  Tucker writes here, “My life is constant celebration/Drinks are always pourin’/Yeah, you should hear it inside my heart/It sounds like lions roarin’/I couldn’t be happier/The sun even looks like it’s shining brighter/yeah, I’m so high on life/I don’t need smokes, like/here’s your lighter.”  The song continues on in this fashion.  And combined with the solid beats backing it, it stands out as one of the best tracks on the release.

‘Shiny and New’ is another high point to “Weekend Life.”  It’s a good opener, boasting a sound similar to the likes of Kanye West, Common, or even other rappers of that ilk.  The old school style music backing Tucker’s vocal stylings, along with the guest vocals would lead any casual listener to believe that Tucker’s a seasoned veteran to the rap game.  The album’s closer, ‘Something Like Jazz (Daydreamin’)’ is just a solid closer as ‘Shiny and New’ is an opener.  Just as ‘Shiny and New’ gives listeners an easygoing open, ‘Something Like Jazz (Daydreamin’)’ leaves listeners with an easy feeling after taking them on a musical and lyrical journey.  All combined this release proves that it is possible for an artist in one genre to try his hand at something entirely different.  And in those rare cases such as this, that attempt to branch out has proven successful.  It’s a record that both rap fans and fans of his former group, This Day Will Tell, will enjoy, too.

“Weekend Life” is available now.  It can be downloaded at http://www.mediafire.com/?1te84k5yh6qckkw.  And to get all the latest on Robby Tucker and Feel Good, go online to http://www.facebook.com/Feelgoodofficial.

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Prong “carves” out another of 2012’s best metal records

“Carved Into Stone” is a fitting title for Prong’s newst record.  That’s because even though this band has never had major mainstream its reputation has already been, well, carved into stone.  Its reputation was cemented long ago.  This new album is just one more feather in Tommy Victor’s cap.  It’s one more bonus for long time fans of Prong, too.  “Carved Into Stone” is such a standout album in that it takes the best of its previous albums, “Cleansing”, “Rude Awakening” and “Prove You Wrong” and fine tunes them.  The end result is an album that both fans of Prong and metal fans in general will love. 

“Carved Into Stone” is a no nonsense full throttle metal album.  It’s an album made by metalheadsfor metalheads.  Its blistering Nothingface-esque opener, ‘Eternal Heat’ hits listeners right in the face, with no mercy.  [Tommy] Victor shreds through this song as sharply as any  guitarist half his age.  That combined with drummer Alexei Rodriguez’s thousand mile per hour drumming makes ‘Eternal Heat’ a perfect opener here.  Ted Parsons was a good fit for the band during his stint behind the kit.  But Alexei Rodriguez is the best fit that the band has ever had. 

The energy doesn’t let up one bit after ‘Eternal Heat.’  If anything, the band keeps the adrenaline flowing straight through the rest of the album.  Along the way, fans even get a hint of the band’s older albums with the likes of, ‘Revenge..Best Served Cold’, ‘Put Myself to Sleep’, and the album’s closer, ‘Reinvestigate.’

‘Revenge..Best served Cold’ is one of the album’s most familiar songs.  It pays direct homage to the band’s hit song, ‘Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck’ from the album, “Cleansing.’  As amazing as that song still is today, ‘Revenge…Best Served Cold’ is one of those that actually improves upon the original.  It’s even more intense than the original.  What’s more, its just as much an arena anthem style piece that it makes for a perfect radio single.  Of course, it’s just one song of many that makes for wonderful representation of this album. 

‘Put Myself to Sleep’  is another example of the growth of Prong over the course of its existence.  This is another of the album’s songs that harkens back to the band’s past while  looking forward at the same time.  ‘Put Myself to Sleep’ sounds like it would have been a perfect fit on the band’s 1996 album “Rude Awakening.”  And as with ‘Revenge…Best Served Cold’, it actually improves on the original.  It reminds listeners of where the band has been, and where Tommy Victor seems to want the band to go.

‘Reinvestigate’ is another of this album’s tracks that hint back to the days of “Rude Awakening.”  It has that similar feel throughout, without actually ripping off said material.  It shows that while the band has good material in its back catalogue, Tommy Victor seems to have every intention of taking Prong and keeping it rolling hard into the twenty-first century.  And having had the motivation and backing of producer Steve Evetts (Dillinger Escape Plan, Suicide Silence, etc.), this time out, this album may well lead Prong to many more albums before Tommy Victor finally calls it a career.  Hopefully that day won’t be any time soon as “Carved Into Stone” hints that Prong has much more to offer its fans.  However, when and if that day comes, there will definitely be no doubt that Tommy Victor and Prong will have “carved” the band’s place in music history deep into stone.

The band is currently making its way across Europe in support of the new album right now.  Though U.S. fans haven’t been forgotten.  The band will return stateside this Summer to spread the intensity of its new album, beginning in July.  Even fans in North Carolina will get to see the band, when it makes a stop at Amos’ Southend in Charlotte, July 20th.  The band will be joined by Clutch at that show.  For more information on Prong and to follow the latest from the band, go online to http://www.prongmusic.com, http://www.facebook.com/prongmusic, and http://twitter.com/prongmusic.