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KINGS OF METAL: Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna, Jon Donais, Frankie Bello and Charlie Benante step outside the thrash zone on ‘For All Kings’ and come up with a winner. The album drops Feb. 26.

By Metal Dave

Knowingly or NOT!, Anthrax throws down the gauntlet with new album, “For All Kings.”

Adventurous in its vast melodic scope and high harmonies, “For All Kings” – the follow-up to 2011’s widely (and rightly) praised “Worship Music” – finds Anthrax reining in its thrash-metal tendencies rather than fueling them as a driving force. It’s not “LuLu” or “Slayer-Meets-Megadeth Unplugged,” but it’s beyond the core sound of Big 4 thrash and will certainly divide opinions.

“Breathing Lightning” – arguably the most radio-friendly Anthrax song ever — soars over a bed of keyboards(!) reminiscent of  Iron Maiden circa “Somewhere in Time/Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.” It’s a bold move, but ultimately irresistible as singer Joey Belladonna channels Bruce Dickinson (which he does through most of the album) while the band pilots the song’s bullet-train velocity.

Echoes of Maiden also can be heard when the hard-snapping “Impaled/You Gotta Believe” downshifts into a trippy middle break that sounds like Tool tweaking “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”  

Brooding with menace, “Monster in the End” is the sound of a high-seas storm, while “Suzerain” alternates between chorale beauty and roiling, metallic churn. The title track is a galloping beast and “Defend Avenge” is a pit-ready stomper complete with barking gang vocals.

At seven-plus minutes, “Blood Eagle Wings” is the album’s showpiece. Opening with a spidery guitar lick, the track builds into a towering piece of powerful music that crushes with majestic grandeur. Epic is an overused word, but here it applies.

“This Battle Chose Us” and “All of Them Thieves” boil to thrashing climaxes, and the old-school need for speed comes ripping through on “Evil Twin” and “Zero Tolerance.”

Fans who appreciated the musical growth of “Worship Music” will find plenty to like on “For All Kings.” While it’s undoubtedly well-played, heavy and memorable, the album leans more toward classic heavy metal (with hints of prog and power metal) than traditional full-bore thrash. That said, it’s hard to deny Anthrax the indulgence of artistic progression and repeated listens – especially when it’s still metal and done this well.

If “For All Kings” is a challenge, consider it a challenge accepted.

* Overall Grade: B
* Favorite Tracks: “Blood Eagle Wings,” “Defend Avenge,” “Zero Tolerance” and the title track
* Secret Weapons: The not-so-secret precision of drummer Charlie Benante; the surprisingly well-aged voice of Joey Belladonna; ripping solos from newcomer guitarist Jon Donais (formerly of Shadows Fall); and the big sound of returning producer Jason Rusk (“Worship Music”)
* For Fans of: Proggy Iron Maiden, dynamic song structures, double-kick drumming

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LET’S BOOGIE: Left to right, Dr. Boogie is bassist Jeff Turpin, singer/guitarist Chris P., drummer Luis Herrera and guitarist Dustin James. Their debut album is best served with a drink and a strut.

By Metal Dave

Like a lot of great rock bands, Dr. Boogie owes a nod and a wink to the sozzled swagger of Rod Stewart’s Faces and the slinky sting of Rolling Stones guitars.

Born in Los Angeles (but apparently ready to escape to New York), Dr. Boogie’s debut album, “Gotta Get Back to New York City,” swizzles a boozy blend of barroom guitars, swelling brass and hurricane harmonica with killer keys and tambourine hip-shake. 

“Down This Road” and “Life on the Breadline” recall Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds, while “Together” sounds like something the Stones left behind when they wrapped up 1978’s “Some Girls.” Yeah, it’s that good.

“Queen of the Streets” has a hint of unplugged Guns N’ Roses melancholy and “Personal Matter” is more Toxic than Glimmer Twins. The revved-up title track is the album’s shout-along punk rocker (complete with a telling reference to the Flaming Groovies) while “Cut at the Knees” incorporates ominous undertones perfectly suited to its night-prowler lyrics. As implied by its title, “Really Good Feeling” absolutely beams with grit-pop shimmy.

At only eight songs, “Gotta Get Back to New York City” is also a vintage case of leave ’em wanting more — which is much better than being bludgeoned into boredom, no matter how good the band.

With bands like the Biters, Prima Donna and Smash Fashion revisiting the garage-glam boogie and hard-pop heyday of the late-1960s through ’70s, rock-n-roll is taking a turn for the better. In the shaky, but capable hands of Dr. Boogie, it’s taking a turn for the best.

* Overall Grade: A+
* Favorite Tracks: “Together,” “Life on the Breadline” and the title track
* Secret Weapons: Singer Chris P’s nicotine rasp, which is equal measures of Rod Stewart and Izzy Stradlin with a dab of Steve Marriott; well-placed Hammond B3
* For Fans of: All the aforementioned influences, plus the Quireboys, Dogs D’Amour, River City Rebels and leopard-print neckties

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PULL MY FINGER: Paul invites a front-row groupie to smell the magic.

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C’MON AND LOVE ME: This late-1970s poster played right into Paul’s image as a rock-n-roll Romeo.

By Metal Dave

In 2004, I took my wife to her first KISS concert. By then, of course, she had been subjected to the KISS albums, my off-limits collection of memorabilia and the ceaseless, to-the-grave blathering about the band’s indelible influence on my life.

She listened and nodded at her oh-so-cute manchild, but I knew she didn’t fully appreciate my fandom. How could she? This level of ridiculous could only come from Y chromosomes of a certain vintage.

On this night, however, she “got it.” As always, the on-stage spectacle was so over-the-top it made all other concerts look like comatose tea parties. She even called it the best concert she’d ever seen. It didn’t hurt that Rikki Rockett and C.C. DeVille from opening act, Poison, invited us to watch from the soundboard where we three boys played air guitar and shouted out loud to the soundtrack of our teens. It was a great night. Even my wife agreed.

(The following originally published in the San Antonio Express-News)

By David Glessner
Special to the Express-News
June 4, 2004

A Kiss laced with Poison blows into the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Thursday and it promises to pack plenty of tongue. You wanted the best, you got the best …

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NEW ROMANTIC: During the early ’80s, KISS cut their hair to keep up with the times. Most would agree it didn’t quite work.

Kiss, the longstanding kings of kabuki-face hard rock, are teamed with veteran proteges Poison, proclaimed by VH-1 to be the greatest glam-rock band of all-time. Expect lots of tongue wagging, blood, sweat and cheers as both bands bring their fireworks and power-to-the-people stage show to the adoring masses.

“People know when they pay to see Kiss they’re going to get something to see,” says soft-spoken, starry-eyed front man Paul Stanley, calling from Tokyo and battling a vicious, hacking cough. “When Kiss first came on the scene, I think we were a wake-up call to audiences that they were getting cheated. The idea of us coming out and sitting on stools on a Persian carpet or something isn’t gonna happen. Kiss remains Kiss. It’s walls of amplifiers, video screens built into the amps. New Kiss is about as necessary as new Coke. It’s still Kiss, but the blade’s been sharpened.”

Still waving goodbye on a never-ending reunion tour that began in 1996, the latest Kiss trek is more about fine-tuning than farewell. The band, which ranks alongside the Beatles and Elvis in terms of record sales, is digging deep into the platinum catalog to unearth long-hidden gems.

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FACE OFF: Paul’s mugshot minus makeup. During the 1980s Hollywood hair-metal explosion, Paul was in the running to produce albums by Jetboy, Poison and Guns N’ Roses. None ever happened.

“Not only did we shake up the set list, but we also did two small shows (in Australia recently) in theaters where we virtually played a slew of songs that either never have been played or haven’t been played in 25 years,” Stanley says. “We did a two-hour set without the benefit of special effects or pyro that consisted of ‘C’mon and Love Me, ‘ ‘Goin’ Blind, ‘ ‘Makin’ Love, ‘ ‘All the Way, ‘ ‘Got to Choose, ‘ ‘Hotter than Hell, ‘ you name it. We’re really fired up, because at this point on any given night we can throw in whatever we feel like playing.”

On behalf of San Antonio, this writer requested “Love Her All I Can,” from Kiss’ 1975 album, “Dressed to Kill.” Keep your fingers crossed for the obscure song, but don’t expect to see original guitarist Ace Frehley or on-again/off-again drummer Peter Criss. They are replaced by guitarist Tommy Thayer and veteran drummer Eric Singer. Stanley chooses his words carefully when explaining.

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LOOKIN’ FOR A KISS: Ace, Paul, Gene and Peter circa 1971 looked more like the New York Dolls than the larger-than-life superheroes they would soon become.

“We created some great things together and I’d rather think about the positive things we did than start airing dirty laundry,” he says. “The fact is, it’s easy for somebody to portray themselves as a victim when they don’t want to take responsibility for their position. For all the good we accomplished, I will always wish Peter well. It wasn’t working any more for a lot of reasons and it was best for the band and the audience to bring Eric back.”

As for Frehley, Stanley says, “Ace, for years, had an ambivalence, to put it mildly, about being in the band because he felt it was keeping him from his solo project. Ultimately, Ace opted out. The door doesn’t swing both ways. At some point, you can only walk through that door so many times and then the lock gets changed. This is hallowed ground and you’re expected to give a hundred percent. If you don’t, I have a problem with that.”

Asked what keeps himself and blood-spewing, fire-breathing bassist Gene Simmons together after 30 years, Stanley answers, “A common love of Kiss. A common appreciation, dedication and reverence for something we created a long time ago as young fans of rock who had a dream.

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PRE-STARDOM: Before he settled on his trademark black star makeup, Paul wore a silver lining.

“I saw a lot of bands and either I saw bands that looked great and sounded awful or sounded great and looked awful. Basically, I’m the kid in the audience who got on stage and said, ‘Let me show you how it should be done.’ That was purely from a fan’s perspective. It was to create the band that we had never seen.”

Today, Kiss remains unlike any band fans have ever seen. From platform boots to amazing pyrotechnics, a Kiss show is a spectacle of epic proportions. So where does it go from here?

“All bets are off as far as where it goes and when it ends, “Stanley says. “It will go until it stops and right now it’s going full-speed, and anyone that’s in the way is gonna get creamed.”

Kiss/Poison
Where: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 16765 Lookout Road, Selma; When: 7 p.m. Thursday; gates open at 6; For openers: Spin 66; Tickets: $29.50-$85.50 at Ticketmaster outlets

FAB FOUR: Not to be confused with the Beatles' 'Let it Be,' 'Love Gun' is nonetheless a KISS classic.

FAB FOUR: Not to be confused with the Beatles’ ‘Let it Be,’ ‘Love Gun’ is nonetheless a KISS classic.

KISS AND TELL

While Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons put the finishing touches on their respective solo albums, a new Kiss album may be a long time coming. How long?

“That’s a tough one,” Stanley says. “I get asked that almost every day and my problem or issue with that is that if I wrote (The Beatles’) ‘Let It Be’ people would still want to hear ‘Love Gun.’ What happens over the course of time is songs become more than songs. They become a snapshot of your life.

“When you’re up against songs that are a moment in your life as opposed to a melody, it’s pretty hard to compete with. So ‘Love Gun’ or ‘Detroit Rock City’ is not just a song, it’s a girl you were sleeping with or the guys you were out at the diner with. So anything we would do today wouldn’t have that history tied to it.”

R.I.P. Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister: 1945-Eternity

Posted: 29th December 2015 by admin in Rewind
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BIRTHDAY PAR-TAY!!!: Backstage with Lemmy on my 35th birthday in Austin, Texas.

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FROM SHOWER TO SOUNDCHECK: A chance afternoon meeting with Lemmy outside the Back Room in Austin.

By Metal Dave

Armed with a Rickenbacker, Jack and smokes, Lemmy blasted through life louder than everyone else. He was defiant, smart and witty enough to crack up a statue. Lemmy was my Keith Richards. 

News of his death last night was not surprising, but that didn’t make it any less saddening. The lovable outlaw was as well-known for his vices as for his punishing Motorhead music. Let’s face it: In Motorhead years, 70 was probably 250.

As someone who’s interviewed countless rock stars, I always get asked to name my favorite. Lemmy always tops the list for his raw humor and sheer quotability.

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TOTALLY MENTAL: “To Metal (Mental?) Dave — Lemmy Kilmister”

“It wasn’t much of a competition,” he laughed when I asked him about losing a Grammy Award to Metallica. “The thing I couldn’t believe was everyone showed up dressed like record company people. Queensryche was wearing rented tuxedoes for Christ’s sake! Talk about becoming what you’re supposed to be fighting against!”

A personal favorite of mine was his response to my question about being the quintessential underdog. “I’ve seen what too much money does to people. You get six houses in the country and a yacht, and spend the rest of your life worrying about it all.” That quote comes back to me time and again when I feel life should have more to offer.

The first time Lemmy called me was in 1997. In an age before cell phones, I spent the assigned interview day hovering over my living room land line waiting for it to ring. I waited. And waited. And then? I waited some more.

Four hours later, he finally called. He offered some excuse and tried to apologize, but I wouldn’t hear it. I was finally talking to God and that’s all that mattered.

THE BIRTHDAY PAR-TAY! My 35th birthday Motorhead pass.

AFTERSHOCK My 35th birthday Motorhead pass.

A few years later, Motorhead arrived at the Back Room in Austin. It was a Saturday night gig. Perfect in every way. Before the night was over, I was backstage drinking Motorhead’s beer while collecting autographs and taking photos with Lemmy. It was also my 35th birthday. Not bad.

There was another time I spotted Motorhead’s tour bus in the Back Room parking lot on my way home from work. My apartment was nearby so I raced home to collect some memorabilia, took a quick shower and returned to the venue in hopes of saying hello at sound check. I was still dripping wet and barely out of my car when Lemmy popped out of the venue with his usual Jack and Coke in hand. It was so potent, the smell nearly knocked me down. The sun was still out. It was classic Lemmy.

There was another Back Room gig (or was it the same night?) when I got to stay behind after security cleared the venue and sit at the bar with Lemmy while he played video trivia games. I remember being impressed with his masterful knowledge of American history (he’s a Brit, ya know?).

I don’t know what else to say except, “thank you, Lemmy” for your music, hospitality and brilliant way with words (both lyrically and in conversation). You were — and always will be — the baddest, most lovable, hardest-living, dedicated-beyond-question, rock-n-roller to ever ravage our collective hearing.
You were Motorhead. And you played rock-n-roll!
****
For more of my interviews with Lemmy, go here and here.

KISS XXXXXX: This special edition San Antonio Express-News rack card was featured at the the Alamodome to promote my Gene Simmons interview which was on sale as a souvenir at the Alamodome concert.

EXTRA! EXTRA!: This special edition San Antonio Express-News rack card was posted around the Alamodome on Friday March 31, 2000 announcing my Gene Simmons interview was on sale as a souvenir inside the concert arena.

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ROCK-N-ROLL WEEKEND: The cover of the special edition containing my interview with Gene.

By Metal Dave
(The following is dedicated with love to my Nana and Aunt Linda who bought me more KISS merch than my parents could stand)

In March of 2000, I had one foot out the door when the phone rang.

As part of the ongoing KISS farewell tour, I requested an interview with Gene Simmons on behalf of the San Antonio Express-News, but was told my childhood hero wasn’t scheduling press. Instead, I was told, he would carry my phone number with him and (maybe) call if and when the mood struck. Naturally, I jumped every time the damn phone rang.

As my landline reached its third or fourth ring, I slammed the door behind me and ran back inside to answer. Hello? “Hi, it’s Gene Simmons calling for Dave.” Gene! “Is this a good time?” Never better. Thanks for calling.

And so goes my first of five interviews with KISS, the band that turned my world upside down.

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DRESSED TO KILL: Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley circa 1974.

KISS ‘EM GOODBYE

By David Glessner
Special to the Express-News
March 31, 2000

Since joining forces in the early ’70s, the four painted faces of Kiss have become more widely recognized than the faces of Mount Rushmore.

Boasting album sales of more than 80 million and a succession of gold and platinum awards second only to the Beatles, Kiss is as globally recognized as McDonald’s, Nike and Budweiser. So why pucker up and bid farewell at the Alamodome tonight?

“We’ve accomplished everything a band could hope to do,” said bassist Gene Simmons during a surprise phone call. “It’s time to hang up the platform heels and go out with some dignity. And if we’re going to stop, we’ve got to say thank you to the bosses – the fans. Kiss will continue in other ways. Everybody’s got a lot of projects, but we’re trying not to talk about them now, because we don’t want to dilute what we’re doing at the moment.”

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GOT BLOOD?: Gene as he appeared on the cover of 1977’s “KISS Alive II” album.

A childhood hero to millions, Simmons is the eternal king of the rock-star hierarchy. About the time Marilyn Manson quit spitting up on his mommy, Simmons became universally notorious as a leering, oversexed Antichrist who spit blood and fire between lashes of his world-famous tongue.

“The stage is a holy place,” Simmons said. “The stage is for the stars and the stars better be bright. Rock ‘n’ roll is in a sad place right now because Seattle killed it. Why get on stage looking like the pizza delivery guy when you can dress up to go to the party?”

Kiss’ party began humbly enough in New York under the moniker Wicked Lester. By 1973, bassist/vocalist Simmons and guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley had recruited lead guitarist Paul “Ace” Frehley and drummer Peter Criss. Performing in makeup and androgynous costumes, Kiss was critically panned and publicly laughed at, but starry-eyed enough to keep chasing the dream.

“We’ve always been the quintessential American band, critics be damned,” Simmons said. “The critics tell you frog legs are cuisine, but I’d rather have a good, juicy Whopper. Kiss has always been out of fashion. We’re out of fashion now, we were out of fashion yesterday and we’ll be out of fashion tomorrow.”

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UNMASKED: The 1983 “Lick It Up” lineup featuring Eric Carr, left, and Vinnie Vincent, lower center.

After ruling music in the ’70s, Kiss found itself without Criss and Frehley by the early ’80s. Drugs and booze had consumed the drummer and guitarist, and the substance-free Stanley and Simmons bounced them out of the band. With drummer Eric Carr (who died tragically of cancer in 1991) and guitarist Vinnie Vincent added to the lineup, Kiss publicly unmasked for the first time ever and started a makeup/costume-free second career phase with the 1983 release, “Lick it Up.”

“It was very strange,” Simmons said, regarding the no-makeup adjustment. “We were going through a period of self-analysis. We were asking ourselves if makeup and bombs was all we were. We probably should have left it alone. It’s like Clark Kent and Superman. Both are just as strong as the other, but let’s face it, Superman is cooler.”

MIRROR, MIRROR: Backstage applying the trademark makeup

MIRROR, MIRROR: Backstage applying the trademark makeup

Kiss managed to do big business in the ’80s, but the mystique and hard-core fans were gone – until a clean and sober Frehley and Criss agreed to a full-blown, dust-off-the-costumes, put-on-the-makeup reunion tour that became the highest-grossing tour of 1996-97. Considering the band’s immeasurable riches, you’d think a makeup artist would be on staff.

“We (applied the makeup) the first time and we’ll do it the last time,” Simmons said. “I once put it on in under an hour, but we usually close the doors, take our time, talk about what’s going on. Incidentally, that last time will be a heart-wrenching experience.”

Kiss’ Farewell Tour
Where: Alamodome, Interstate 37 downtown When: 7 tonight For openers: Ted Nugent, Skid Row Tickets: $35-$50

XXX: The 1974 debut album.

FIRST KISS: The 1974 debut album.

KISS DISCS
Kiss has its share of latter-day stinkers, but the classics are mandatory.

  1. “Kiss” (1974): Released without fanfare, this album introduced the world to the Fearsome Faces. Contains staples such as “Strutter,” “Firehouse,” “Cold Gin,” and “Black Diamond.”
  2. “Dressed to Kill” (1975): The cover features the band out of costume and dressed in suits. The music is all business, too. Contains the classics “Rock Bottom,” “C’mon and Love Me,” “She” and “Rock and Roll All Nite,” but is also recommended for sleepers such as “Room Service,” “Love Her All I Can” and “Getaway.”
  3. “Alive!” (1975): The one that burst the dam, saved Casablanca Records from bankruptcy and made the shouted “You wanted the best …” intro as immortal as “Freebird.” A life-altering album for future rock stars Kirk Hammett, Sebastian Bach, Dimebag Darrell and others too numerous to mention, this double live package of eye and ear candy is widely regarded as one of the greatest live albums of all time.
  4. “Destroyer” (1976): Considered Kiss’ greatest studio album, this monster featured Ken Kelly’s apocalyptic artwork and Kiss’ biggest hit, “Beth.” Add “Detroit Rock City,” “King of the Night Time World,” “God of Thunder” and “Shout it Out Loud,” and “Destroyer” is to heavy metal what the swimsuit issue is to Sports Illustrated. (Side note: the first album I ever bought with my own money.)
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    FANTASTIC FOUR: At the peak of their powers in 1976.

    “Rock and Roll Over” (1976): “Destroyer” will never be topped, but this potent shot was a top-shelf chaser. Contains “Calling Dr. Love,” “Ladies Room,” “Hard Luck Woman” and the overlooked killer, “Makin’ Love.”

  6. “Love Gun” (1977): Another amazing Ken Kelly painting finds our mighty heroes surrounded by a bevy of Vampira-like babes. Inside, Kiss cranks out the classic title track, “Christine Sixteen,” and “Shock Me.” The sleepers, “Got Love for Sale,” “Plaster Caster” and “I Stole Your Love,” are full-on headbangers.
  7. “Alive II” (1977): The second eye-popping, double-live package is a rock-solid collection of revved-up classics that found the marketing machine going full-tilt with inserts that included a color photo booklet and temporary tattoos. The gatefold sleeve features Kiss in all its blazing, on-stage glory.
  8. “Dynasty” (1979): A left turn for Kiss as it made concessions to the disco era. Still a rocker at heart, this one contained the hit “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” along with “Charisma,” “Sure Know Something” and “Hard Times.” Cover photo and inserted poster are Kiss classics.
  9. “Creatures of the Night” (1982): The last album and tour with makeup (it stopped at the HemisFair Arena with the Plasmatics replacing Riot as openers … my first concert!), “Creatures” marked a return to the band’s more sinister looking, harder-rocking roots. The title track, “I Love it Loud,” “Killer,” “War Machine” and “I Still Love You” brought long-time turncoats back to the Kiss Army.

Kiss-tory quiz
Kiss die-hards pride themselves on knowing the most obscure facts. See how you fare (answers follow questions).

  1. RADIOACTIVE: Gene's 1978 solo album was filled with guest stars, including an unknown vocalist named Katey Sagal who would later find fame as TV's Peg Bundy in "Married with Children" and Gemma on "Sons of Anarchy."

    RADIOACTIVE: Gene’s 1978 solo album was filled with guest stars, including an unknown vocalist named Katey Sagal who would later find fame as TV’s Peg Bundy in “Married with Children” and Gemma on “Sons of Anarchy.”

    Peter Criss is best known for singing the ballad “Beth,” but he was a prolific lead vocalist throughout his tenure with Kiss. Of the 10 songs he’s sung, name his two lead vocals on the “Hotter than Hell” album.

  2. Whose kids are speaking on walkie-talkies at the beginning of “God of Thunder”?
  3. Kiss current road manager is Tommy Thayer. What ’80s hair band did he play guitar in?
  4. What Motor City rock star contributed backup vocals to “Radioactive” and “Living in Sin” on Gene’s 1978 solo album?
  5. Two of the guest musicians on Ace’s solo album are now part of Paul Schaffer’s CBS orchestra (“Late Show” with David Letterman). Name them and their instruments.
  6. Who originally wrote “2,000 Man” from Kiss’ “Dynasty”?
  7. One Kiss album was released with two different covers featuring two different guitarists, neither of whom contributed to the record. What was the album and who was the actual guitarist?
  8. Who is the unlikely pop star that helped Gene write “War Machine”?
  9. What superstar rock band is Gene credited with discovering?
  10. Name the guitarist on “Animalize.”

Answers 1. “Mainline” and “Strange Ways.” 2. Producer Bob Ezrin’s 3. Black-n-Blue 4. Bob Seger 5. Drummer Anton Fig and bassist Will Lee 6. Mick Jagger/Keith Richards. 7. “Creatures of the Night” w/”invisible” guitarist Vinnie Vincent 8. Bryan Adams 9. Van Halen 10. Mark St. John

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NATURAL BORN KILLER: Juliette Lewis channels Iggy Pop on stage at the 2004 Warped Tour

By Metal Dave
(The following originally published in the San Antonio Express-News, 6-26-2004)

Juliette Lewis is on the phone sounding every bit like one of her flirty, fun and yet scary Hollywood movie characters.

The topic is not acting or past films with Robert DeNiro (“Cape Fear”), Brad Pitt (“Kalifornia”), Woody Harrelson (“Natural Born Killers”) or Johnny Depp (“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”). The business at hand is punk rock, the Vans Warped Tour and Lewis’ debut in both as the vampish lead singer of her impressive new band, Juliette and the Licks.

The tour stops Sunday at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Gates open at 11 a.m.; music begins at noon. Tickets cost $27 at Ticketmaster outlets.

“What’s so great is I’ve always had the odds against me, even in my (acting) profession,” she says. “I’ve never been the popular girl. I’m really used to proving myself. I like naysayers. I like people to doubt me. I’m cocky as hell, but in the right way (laughs)!”

Juliette and the Licks are supporting their debut album, “Like a Bolt of Lightning.” The punchy eight-song album (“It’s not an EP, dammit, it’s a short album,” Lewis said, laughing) is spiced with the sounds of the Stooges, Dead Boys, David Bowie and the Clash.

“It was really important on this first album that it be un-produced-sounding,” Lewis says. “I was inspired by Iggy and the Stooges and the Dead Boys and those bands that work within their limitations. We just had a week to record. I got a mix I was happy with and it got kind of a live vibe.”

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LICK IT UP: Lewis’ debut album was inspired by vintage 1970s punk rock.

Juliette and the Licks features H20 guitarist Todd Morse, former Hole drummer Patty Schemel, bassist Paul III and Austin-based guitarist Kimball, formerly of the Rise. The 30-year-old actor, who name-checks Blondie, the Pretenders and Prince as additional influences and speaks favorably of newer acts such as the Darkness and Velvet Revolver, has been fronting Juliette and the Licks for about a year and a half, but has yet to perform in front of Warped-sized crowds.

“I’ve never worked in an outdoor venue in 100-degree heat, so I’m hoping to do a good job,” she says.

Lewis says putting the band together was pleasantly devoid of the usual actor-starts-a-band doubt and stigma.

“I can talk a good game and I’m completely, crazily passionate about (the music),” she says. “The kind of actor or actress I’ve been has always been pretty raw and unpolished, so that kind of lends itself to rock ‘n’ roll.”

Can she continue to avoid the rolling eyes that greet most actors-turned-rockers? Judging by her respect for her influences, her real-deal attitude and the rowdy rhythmic romps on “Like a Bolt of Lightning,” Lewis stands to break the mold.

“I know for me I like to lose myself,” she says. “Even in acting, it’s such a challenge to not be so self-conscious and just lose yourself and not be vain. This is a generalization, but I think sometimes actors suffer from vanity and that is really going to be exposed when you get up there on stage and you’re trying to do music.”

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CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?: Comprised of San Antonio thrash-metal veterans, Under No One delivers aggro-groove heaviness on its six-song debut.

By Metal Dave

If you wore a Sepultura patch in San Antonio during the early 1990s, you and your leather high-tops surely got bruised slamming to Alienation, Judge Mental and Scythe.

As the go-to local opening acts for Anthrax, Deicide, Overkill and Suicidal Tendencies, the Alamo City’s Big Three were a whiplash squad of mortar-blast drums, blinding guitar solos and kill-or-be-killed vocals. There was also enough hair to choke a goat.

Awakened from various years of hibernation, five members of the once-reigning storm bringers — Judge Mental guitarist-turned-vocalist Eric Inman; Alienation guitar tandem Robin Lewis/Jason Schwab; and Scythe bassist Al Kelly and drummer Rich Gomez — recently turned their excuse to drink beer into some increasingly serious jam sessions. The result? A new band called Under No One and a six-song debut EP titled “Bullhorns & Politics.”

More dynamic and modern sounding than its collective pedigree, Under No One covers the groove-riff bases from Pantera (“Undone”) to Slipknot (“Gutterball”) and then adds the jagged, grandiose quirkiness of Faith No More and Tool (“Rope”). Nu-metal nuances turn the finished attack into a jarring blend of primal-scream, aggro-stomp that still harnesses the bounce of, say, Prong and “Meantime”-era Helmet.

Vocally, UNO is a wild ride of sharply contrasting styles that confidently works to fantastic effect. While Inman rages (often through a bullhorn) like a shouting match between Max Cavalera and Sergeant Hulka, the backup vocals swell into angelic, crack-the-sky harmonies that could make a church choir slump in defeat (“Zero Sum Game,” “Override”).

It’s heavy. It’s metal. But it’s not simply heavy metal. Far from singular, UNO will appeal to fans of Deftones, Machine Head, Mr. Bungle, Lamb of God and every other band that ever worked the second stage at Ozzfest.

* Overall Grade: A
* Favorite Tracks: “Gutterball,” “Zero Sum Game”
* Secret Weapon: Floating backup vocals that sound like a chorus of angels singing their way out of hell
* For Fans of: Groove metal, headphones, cheap beer.

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BLACK DIAMOND: Triumphant at every turn, ‘Blackout States’ finds Michael Monroe and his ever-stellar band delivering another hard-rock gem.

By Metal Dave

With due respect to Hanoi Rocks, Michael Monroe’s best run is now. Fightin’ words, perhaps, but the truth is worth the risk.

On a raucous roll since 2011’s “Sensory Overdrive” and its 2013 follow-up, “Horns and Halos,” the iconic glam-punk singer is back with “Blackout States,” the third in a near-flawless trifecta of madly infectious, lose-your-mind rock-n-roll.

A potent mix of shimmer and snarl, “Blackout States” finds Monroe stretching his vocal delivery on the title track while adding swoon and polish to the age-be-damned “Permanent Youth” and the ’80s-flavored pop ballad “Keep Your Eye on You” (is that a Psychedelic Furs bass line?).

The sway-along choruses howl like barroom chants on “Dead Hearts on Denmark Street,” “Walk Away” and “Goin’ Down With the Ship.” The latter, quite honestly, should be an inescapable, feel-good smash. A more perfect piece of raise-a-pint cheer candy simply does not exist. 

Warm nods (pun intended) to Sid Vicious (“Old King’s Road”), Johnny Thunders (“Six Feet in the Ground”) and Dee Dee Ramone (the Dee Dee-penned “Northern Lights”) keep their doomed punk spirits alive while the feral stomp of “The Bastard’s Bash” adds Monroe menace via the Stooges.

As always, there’s a fair share of looking back, kissing off and breaking shit on “Good Old Bad Days,” “This Ain’t No Love Song” and the furious “RLF” (are your ears burning, Mario Escovedo?).

“Blackout States” also continues the against-all-odds trilogy of incoming/outgoing guitarists who happen to be formidable songwriters. This time, Rich Jones (ex-Black Halos, Amen) replaces “Horns and Halos” guitarist Dregen (Backyard Babies) who replaced “Sensory Overdrive” guitarist Ginger Wildheart (The Wildhearts, Hey! Hello!). Got that? Trust me, it’s impressive.

While such turnover might derail a lesser crew, Monroe’s band of gypsies — longtime partner-in-crime Sami Yaffa (truly one of rock’s most underrated bassists), guitarist Steve Conte and drummer Karl Rockfist – remain knock-’em-dead reliable and wholly unaffected. Amazing.

Like its recent predecessors, “Blackout States” offers rock-n-roll chemistry that’s nothing less than explosive. Glammed-up, punked-out and swaggering with style and soul, this is how rock-n-roll gets done. And nobody’s doing it better.

* Overall Grade: A+
* Favorite Tracks: “Goin’ Down With the Ship,” “Good Old Bad Days,” “Dead Hearts on Denmark Street”
* Secret Weapons: Monroe’s supercharged sax and Yaffa’s agile punch
* For Fans of: The Black Halos, Diamond Dogs, Polka-Dot Scarves and Glitter-flecked Nail Polish

Review: Broken Teeth, ‘Bulldozer’

Posted: 1st October 2015 by admin in Reviews
Tags: , ,

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HEAVY DIRTY: Broken Teeth’s ‘Bulldozer’ EP drops Oct. 23-24 at release parties at The Sidewinder (the former Red-Eyed Fly) and Austin Speed Shop. The disc will be available via TMU/Killingbird Records as a CD or limited-edition, blue or swamp-green colored vinyl. Also on iTunes.

By Metal Dave

Broken Teeth arrived in 1999 as the best AC/DC sound-alike since “Powerage” and “Let There Be Rock.” Over multiple albums and various lineup changes (not the least of which was necessitated by the untimely passing of bassist Travis Weiss), the Austin, TX band has since spiked its bad-boy boogie with the speedier, face-kicking heaviness of Motorhead and Judas Priest.

With the “Bulldozer” EP due Oct. 23, Broken Teeth throws a bone to fans who have been hungry for a new release since the 2013 hits collection, “Devil on the Road,” and the 2009 full-length, “Viva La Rock Fantastico!”

Propelled as always by Jason McMaster’s sand-blasted vocals, “Bulldozer” opens with “Raining Fire” — a jolt of ZZ Nugent hyper-boogie that crushes with thud-heavy chord changes. “Red River Rising” pays tribute to Austin’s bygone dive district where front-row headbangers fell under the spell at the edge of Broken Teeth’s stage. The third and final brand-new track, “The Rough and the Tumble,” sounds like Rose Tattoo over echoes of Saxon (“Power & the Glory”) and Dio (“I Speed at Night”). The common denominator among the three? Instant Teeth classics, one and all (and 100-proof positive there’s still plenty of fuel in the tank).

As for the rest, the previously released “Flamethrower” spins a Riot-style guitar hook into chugging, white-knuckled speed-metal as McMaster’s rapid-fire, Halford-esque delivery races toward the checkered flag. Another re-released track — “Devil on the Road” — tells the stomping tale of a “big, bad wolf” pushing his wares on the weak.

Rounded out by two perfectly-suited cover tunes — Aerosmith’s street-fighting “Lightning Strikes” and Motorhead’s “The Hammer” — “Bulldozer” slams to a breathless close before you know what hit you.

In all honesty, a seven-song EP containing two previously released (albeit relatively new) singles and a pair of cover tunes shouldn’t feel so fully satisfying, but Broken Teeth’s fist-cracking knack for bruising urgency never leaves time for boredom. It’s a “Bulldozer,” baby, and it’s gonna run ya right over! Count it among Broken Teeth’s best.

* Overall Grade: A (an all-new, full-length would’ve been a plus, but “Bulldozer” is too good to nitpick)
* Favorite Tracks: “Raining Fire,” “Flamethrower,” “Lightning Strikes” (subject to change by the minute)
* For Fans of: “Swords and Tequila,” New Wave of British Heavy Metal, gonzo biker rock
* PS: Yes, the band knows the difference between a bulldozer and front-end loader, but the former makes a more rock-n-roll title and the latter makes a more menacing image. So there.

Broken Teeth 2015 is singer Jason McMaster, guitarists Jared Tuten and David Beeson, drummer Bruce Rivers and bassist Robb Lampman. For more Broken Teeth info including “Bulldozer” audio tracks, go here.