CD/DVD Review: Lillian Axe – One Night in the Temple

CD/DVD Review: Lillian Axe – One Night in the Temple
CME Records
All Access Rating: A-

Lillian Axe - One Night in the Temple 2014
A slight twist on the well-worn "Unplugged" and "Storytellers" formats, One Night in the Temple places Bayou hard-rock survivors Lillian Axe in a cozy little room in a Masonic Temple with about 100 of their most ardent supporters for a night of song, camaraderie and interrogation.

Interspersed with probing questions from the audience as Lillian Axe performs acoustic renderings of fan favorites and deep cuts from its rather extensive catalog, this being the band's 13th album, One Night in the Temple – filmed in high-definition with intrepid camera work – comes extravagantly packaged as a two-CD/DVD or two-CD/Blu-ray set via CME Records. Steve Blaze, the sole remaining original member, answers queries from the audience with grace and good humor, talking candidly about his Christian faith, delving deeply into the songwriting process and relating the inspiring and heartbreaking story of a boy felled by a horrible disease, right before launching into a profoundly affecting reading of "Bow Your Head."

Reeling off a series of tasteful, wonderfully executed guitar leads and solos, Blaze leads Lillian Axe through melodic, haunting readings of classics such as "Ghost of Winter," "See You Someday" and "True Believer" and "Waters Rising," while a stirring version of "Crucified" gets the blood pumping. Bonus footage on the DVD and Blu-ray editions includes a smattering of videos and sizzling performance footage of Lillian Axe from a 2013 engagement at the Paragon Casino, but what's truly remarkable is how durable and compelling these songs, often so moody and moving, come across when the volume is reduced and the instrumentation is stripped down to the bare bones in such an intimate environment.
– Peter Lindblad

CD Review: Vicious Rumors – Live You to Death 2: American Punishment

CD Review: Vicious Rumors – Live You to Death 2: American Punishment
Steamhammer SPV
All Access Rating: A-
Vicious Rumors - Live You to Death 2:
American Punishment

Still chasing his speed/power-metal muse all these decades later, Geoff Thorpe has kept Vicious Rumors going through thick and thin – the "thin" part being singer Carl Albert's death in 1995 and Thorpe's own battle with carpal tunnel syndrome, and the "thick" being their salad days of the late 1980s and early '90s, when the band, founded in 1979, was on Atlantic Records back when being on a major label meant something.

Undergoing a renaissance of sorts, having released the critically acclaimed Electric Punishment in 2013, Vicious Rumors is upping the ante with a searing new concert album for Steamhammer SPV, Live You to Death 2: American Punishment. Gripping and relentless, with the high-pitched wail of new singer Nick Holleman swooping and diving in and around stampeding double-kick drums, tenacious bass lines and serrated, stinging guitars, the energetic romp Live You to Death 2: American Punishment finds Vicious Rumors thrashing as hard as ever, getting into gritty street brawls with "Towns on Fire" and "Lady Took a Chance," riding roughshod on a frenzied and melodic "Don't Wait for Me" and defiantly pounding away at the Anthrax-like declaration "I Am the Gun," with its ever-shifting tempos and tightly wound riffage that's at once heavy and thick and later lightning fast and razor sharp. As for "Minute to Kill" and "You Only Live Twice," they are electrifying and single-minded in their approach, always on the attack, speeding and raging until their dying breath.

Recorded with startling clarity and richness, Live You to Death 2: American Punishment documents where Vicious Rumors is at right now and where it's been, the set list throwing exciting new material in with wicked old favorites like the surging anthem "Soldiers of the Night." Comparisons to Iron Maiden and Metal Church have always been spot-on, but Thorpe is, and presumably will be until death, his own man, and with Live You to Death 2: American Punishment this version of Vicious Rumors carves out its own identity.
– Peter Lindblad

King Diamond will tour North America

Horror metal godfather set to go back on the road

King Diamond's North American tour schedule
The rumors were true after all. KING DIAMOND has confirmed a full North American tour this Fall! A long time coming, the jaunt will commence on Oct. 11 in Atlanta and die happily after the previously announced performance at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, whereupon King Diamond will be returned to his coffin for a well-deserved slumber.

A limited-edition KING DIAMOND jacket will be available through the fan club presale, which begins tomorrow, June 24. Tickets will be on sale online and at box offices nationwide on Friday, June 27. 

KING DIAMOND will be joined on stage by longtime band members Andy LaRocque, Mike Wead, Hal Patino, and Matt Thompson. Additionally, North American fans will bear witness to the band's full European festival stage show. Reportedly, these will be the most ambitious and largest North American productions of the band's entire history. Stay tuned for news of a special guest support act for the tour will be announced in the coming weeks.

KING DIAMOND North American Tour 2014:  
10/11/2014 Center Stage - Atlanta, GA
10/13/2014 The Fillmore - Silver Spring, MD
10/14/2014 Best Buy Theatre - New York, NY
10/16/2014 The Palladium - Worcester, MA 
10/17/2014 Olympia - Montreal, QC
10/18/2014 The Sound Academy - Toronto, ON
10/19/2014 Stage AE - Pittsburgh, PA
10/21/2014 The Vic Theatre - Chicago, IL
10/22/2014 The Pageant - St. Louis, MO
10/24/2014 Paramount Theatre - Denver, CO
10/26/2014 The Complex - Salt Lake City, UT
10/28/2014 The Moose Theatre - Seattle, WA
10/30/2014 The Warfield - San Francisco, CA
10/31/2014 The Wiltern - Los Angeles, CA
11/01/2014 House Of Blues - Las Vegas, NV
11/03/2014 Rialto Theatre - Tucson, AZ
11/05/2014 House Of Blues - Houston, TX
11/06/2014 House Of Blues - Dallas, TX
Fun Fun Fun Fest

11/08/2014 Auditorium Shores - Austin, TX

Short cuts: Corrosion of Conformity, Eyehategod, Wo Fat reviewed

CD Review: Wo Fat – The Conjuring
Small Stone
All Access Rating: A-

Wo Fat - The Conjuring 2014
If The Sword, Kyuss and the Meat Puppets all gathered together at some lonely desert crossroads to ingest peyote and summon the spirit of Robert Johnson, the resulting jam session might sound a little something like Wo Fat's The Conjuring. A crusty morass of monstrously heavy, churning riffage and fuzzy, swampy grooves lost in a howling storm of constantly mutating psychedelia, the fifth album from these Dallas, Texas, voodoo priests finds the band expanding and lengthening their stoner-metal instrumental forays into the deep backwoods of the soul on such tales of the strange and weird as the propulsive "Read the Omens," the hazy, menacing "Pale Rider from the Ice" and the dark, 17-minute opus "Dreamwalker."

CD Review: Eyehategod – Eyehategod
Housecore Records
All Access Rating: A-
Eyehategod - S/T 2014

"Sometimes I'm stuck together/sometimes I'm so unglued," rages Eyehategod vocalist Mike IX Williams in "Parish Motel Sickness," a trudging, Sabbath-like dirge off the legendary NOLA meat grinders' latest epistle of vitriolic sludge metal. And sometimes life gets almost unbearably tough, as it has for the infamous Eyehategod in recent years – culminating with the death of drummer Joey LaCaze. Eyehategod ends its long silence with this visceral, tortured self-titled release, surging so forcefully ahead with brutal, writhing riffs and bulldozing rhythms driving "Quitter's Offensive" and "Trying to Crack the Hard Dollar" and blasting through the hardcore intensity of "Agitation! Propaganda!" Though monolithic and lugubrious, Eyehategod never settles into predictable tempos, and when it downshifts or speeds up, the path they're on, however rocky and twisting it is, takes them exactly where they want to go. Every note is played with careful deliberation and delivered with a sledgehammer.

CD Review: Corrosion of Conformity – IX
Candlelight Records
All Access Rating: B+

Corrosion of Conformity - IX 2014
Simply titled IX, Corrosion of Conformity's newest offering from Candlelight Records is a brilliant hot mess of heavy electric blues, doom-loaded sludge metal and trashy hardcore. Raw and utterly organic, the bludgeoning IX takes its cues from Blue Cheer, Black Flag, Black Sabbath and rebellious, anthemic Southern rock, throwing it all in a blender and pouring out this tasty gravy over a bed of grits and razor blades. With the power trio of bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, drummer/vocalist Reed Mullin and guitarist Woody Weatherman stretching out jams a little further than before, IX on rare occasions lacks focus, but they still know how to manufacture brawny, meaty riffs. Between the stomping blues of "Elphyn," the blustery punk of "Denmark Vesey," the catastrophic breakdowns and chugging insistence of "The Nectar" and the renegade tempos of "On Your Way," IX flies Corrosion of Conformity's freak flag with pride.

DVD Review: Pink Floyd – The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story

DVD Review: Pink Floyd – The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story
Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Rating: B+

Jerry Shirley, ex-drummer for Humble Pie, saw the old creative spark return on occasion while helping Syd Barrett record his solo albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett. He was also there when Barrett put down his guitar and simply walked off the stage June 6, 1970, at the Olympia Exhibition Hall.

Predicting what the erratic Barrett would do by then was an exercise in futility, his mind scrambled from taking too much acid. In 2001, a documentary titled "The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story," which included Shirley's observations, examined Barrett's sad decline through a somewhat stodgy, if well-arranged and professionally edited, mosaic of vintage video snippets, performance clips and promotional videos, and poignant, candid interviews with those who knew him best.

Now reissued by Eagle Rock Entertainment as a two-disc DVD set with complete, unedited Q&A sessions with Roger Waters, Nick Mason, David Gilmour and Richard Wright and Graham Coxon's bonus cover of "Love You," off The Madcap Laughs, this version of "The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story" fleshes out what was already a well-rounded, in-depth portrait of an artist whose mind was set adrift long before he shuffled off this mortal coil.

Told chronologically, it's a concise and insightful look at the rise of Pink Floyd as inspired psychedelic-rock oddballs, these experimental delinquents led by a cult figure in Barrett, whose ability to make the mundane seem strangely magical led to wonderfully mad musical creations that set the band on an artful journey of imagination and wonder. Barrett, though, would only travel so far with them.

Amid the expected gushing tributes, the sense of loss and wasted talent, and the behind-the-scenes peek into Barrett's life beyond the Floyd, "The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story" – Barrett would surely balk at such a pedestrian title, as well as the film's bland narration – is a focused examination of his impact on the band and popular music in general. A kindred spirit, Robyn Hitchcock, admires his genius from afar, offering his personal thesis on why Barrett still matters. There's also a detailed analysis of the song "Bike," so blissfully strange and childlike and yet crazed in its manic musique concrete episode, from Pink Floyd's psychedelic masterpiece Piper at the Gates of Dawn, that gazes at the Barrett's idiosyncratic artistry and shakes its head at its audacity. Fading remembrances, both happy and still troubled by his disintegration, flow like rivers of colorful paint from witnesses of Barrett's bedraggled character, his unique vision and his growing detachment, which led to a hermit-like existence and self-imposed musical exile until his death.

At the end, there's still emptiness. What remains is a wide gap in our understanding of how Barrett lived during all those years of radio silence, his story a frustrating mystery with an unsatisfying resolution. And yet, as is argued in the film, perhaps Barrett was fated to burn brightly, just before having his candle snuffed out.
– Peter Lindblad

Judas Priest offers another sneak peek at 'Redeemer of Souls'

Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls 2014
Iconic metal band lines up Rockline, Town Hall appearances

The tracks that Judas Priest has been offering the public as a prelude to the official July 8, 2014 release date of their 17th album overall, Redeemer of Souls, are stirring up quite a buzz within the heavy metal community.  

On June 17th, eager fans will be able to sample another winning metallic rocker from the legendary band, when "Dragonaut" is made available for purchase via iTunes and other digital retailers.

In the mean time, you can listen to "Dragonaut" via the Rolling Stone site, which has premiered the track:

And you can pre-order the deluxe album version via these links:

Also, the band has confirmed that the night before the release of Redeemer of Souls, Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford, and Richie Faulkner will appear on the Rockline radio program, joining host Bob Coburn on Monday July 7, 2014 at 8:30 PT / 11:30 ET. Fans are encouraged to speak with Judas Priest at 1-800-344-ROCK (7625). 

For a station near you and for information regarding how to log onto the Internet for the broadcast go to The show will be streamed for free on the Rockline website beginning the evening after the day of broadcast. 

And on the day of the album's release, Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner will appear on Sirius XM's 'Town Hall' program. Fans are being asked to submit questions that winners will be able to ask the band in person:

Comprised of Rob Halford (vocals), Glenn Tipton (guitar), Richie Faulkner (guitar), Ian Hill (bass), and Scott Travis (drums), Judas Priest is responsible for some of heavy metal's all-time classic songs ("Living After Midnight," "Breaking the Law," "You've Got Another Thing Coming," etc.) and albums (British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance, Painkiller, etc.)

The countdown to the release of Priest's latest studio triumph has officially begun, and "Dragonaut" provides further proof that Redeemer of Souls will be a prime slice of Judas Priest metal.

The Raskins: Brothers in arms (Part 2)

NYC siblings poised for something big
By Peter Lindblad

The Raskins - S/T 2014
In light of recent news of a possible reunion of The Kinks, it's interesting that another brotherly combination, The Raskins, is just starting to make waves in the world of rock 'n' roll.

Their self-titled debut album is out now, and it's a stylish, high-energy fireball of East Coast retro-rock, outfitted with surefire hooks, attitude to spare and an electric New York City vibe that's impossible to deny. Tracks like the first single "We Had It All" are impossibly catchy, owing to their ability to pen well-crafted pop-rock that sets pulses racing.

Twin siblings Logan and Roger Raskin, the sons of well-known Broadway singer Tommy Raskin and a renowned jazz/blues singer in Judith Raskin, have already made a name for themselves writing and recording music for TV and movies. Having established their own record label, MIRAL Records, they're now ready to unleash their turbocharged, guitar-driven sound on the world, performing on the same stages as Scott Weiland and Saving Abel.

In Part 2 of our interview, Logan Raskins talks about his influences, what it's like working with his brother, the making of their first record and their experiences creating music for movie and TV.

How long as brothers have you been making music and with the history in music of sibling combos, you’ve probably been asked this a thousand times, but does that make it easier or harder for you guys?
Logan Raskin: Well, I mean, I grew up in a musical family. My dad was a big Broadway singer. He did all the shows on Broadway. “West Side Story,” “South Pacific,” “Oklahoma,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Damn Yankees” – my dad did all of those. I grew up going to see my dad in all those shows, and my mom was a big jazz singer in the city, and she traveled all over doing that. It was pretty much inevitable that we were going to fall into the music industry, so the three brothers growing up … my mom had three boys in one year. And the three of us just always grew up doing music together, singing together. One of the first rock concerts I ever saw my parents took the three of us to see Ray Charles at Eisenhower Park. That was the first show I’d ever seen. I saw Ray Charles playing at that piano, man, I was just like, “Damn … mom, you’ve got to get me a piano.” And she said, “Yeah? All right.” And she stuck a piano in my room. I had a piano in my bedroom for the next 14 years.

So I was composing music from when I was six, just fiddling around on the piano and writing these songs. So we grew up writing music together, my brothers and I, doing little talent shows and acoustic shows for the family. So we were raised on that, but getting the opportunity to do it on this level with my twin brother Roger is pretty amazing. I mean we do everything together. We live together. We write and record music together. We bounce ideas off each other. It’s pretty amazing. It’s not always sunflowers and sunshine and dandelions and roses. We go through our battles. We’re guys writing music. We fight, we have our ups and downs, but at the end of the day, it’s amazing. I always have someone I can rely on, and I always have someone I can trust and we bounce ideas off each other, creatively and emotionally, and it’s incredible. And he gives me his honest opinion.

That means a lot to me, especially as a songwriter. What’s funny with Roger and I, our personalities, even though we’re twins, are so different, and it shows in our writing styles and it makes for an interesting combination when we combine our music. Sometimes we write music together, sometimes we write music separately. Sometimes we have partially written songs and we give them to each other and we finish each other’s songs. So it’s been a very cool relationship in that regard, being able to do music with your brother like that, and we’re starting to really make it work for us. We’re starting to have a little bit of success, and who knows what the future is going to bring for us? We want to keep it going.

The Raskins - We
Had It All single
What was the easiest song on the new album to write and what was the hardest?
LR: That’s a good question. I think there’s a song on the album that we wrote, “Where Do We Go from Here?” I was always playing two really simple chords in the song, and before we wrote the song, I was always feeling around like a C or a D chord, and I was just kind of playing with these opening chords, and I came up with this cool melody with these two chords, and I was just, “It’s just so simple. I don’t know if I want to write a song that simple. There should be more chord structure to it.” So I just put it to the side, but I couldn’t get the melody that I was singing over and those chords out of my head, and I just said, “You know what? Let me bring it into the studio, and throw it up in a session and see what happens.” And literally, I probably wrote the song and it took me a matter of 10 minutes.

It trips you out a little bit to write a song that quickly, and you say to yourself, “It can’t be that good  to write a song that quick.” But I couldn’t get it out of my head, couldn’t get the melody out of my head, so we put it into a session and starting layering guitars over the thing, and I was just blown away at the melody we were doing layering it. And then when we started doing the vocals, the hair just started standing up on my neck, and it ended up being one of my favorite songs on the record. We haven’t played it out yet, but we’ve prepared it, we’ve prepared to play it out and we have it prepped for this tour. We haven’t played it yet. I sure hope we get to play it, because it’s just amazing. I mean, because we have a certain amount of time we have to keep in for our set list, it’s a longer song, but yeah, it’s just funny. It’s one of my favorite songs on the record. I love playing it acoustically, I love playing it electrically, I love singing it. It feels so good to me, and the song was written in an instant.

So there’s that, but I would also probably say that one of the last songs we wrote, “Scream Out Loud,” was probably the last song that came to the table, and it was actually a song that Roger and I got our bass player involved in, and he had this really aggressive riff that I was just like, “Wow! This is really different and really, really cool.” He was just like, “Yeah, but it’s not really in you guys’ style,” and his name is Johnny Martin, and I said, “Johnny, I tend to disagree with you on that.”  I mean, my whole concept behind this record is like, “Look, I don’t want to … it’s a rock song. Just because the riff is a little different doesn’t mean … Let me get my hands on it.” So I took the riff and we brought it into the studio, and it took a long time for us, because the style was a little bit different than what we were more used to, because it was a little more of a modern-rock kind of a riff – almost had kind of a drop beat kind of a feel to it. It’s just something we don’t do too much of, but I do like it. So, it took a while, man. I sat with that song for honestly about a month, and failing with different melodies, I wasn’t sure if I could go aggressive, but finally, it’s just one of the songs we banged out and we just chipped away at it and got to a point where it just felt so good to me (laughs). And I said, “Johnny, congratulations. You’re making the record.” He couldn’t believe it, you know? I love writing with other people, too. Roger and I, we’re open to that. We’re not those guys where we’re like, “Well, we’re going to write all the music.” I’m just a music lover, and on this second record, I tend to do a lot more of that by the way.

What’s different about writing a rock song for yourselves as The Raskins as opposed to what you were doing writing music for shows?
LR: Well, I mean, there’s a huge difference. And like I was saying earlier in our conversation, when you’re writing for like a film, basically they’re telling you what they want. You’re writing for someone else. They’re giving you a scene to a movie, or something like for a movie like “Middle of Nowhere” we did with Susan Sarandon, they basically … like the trailer we did, they wanted like a love song, but they wanted something like an up-tempo love song. And I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting,” because like normally, you think of love songs, the first thing that comes to my mind is a slower ballad kind of thing, which we have a lot of that. We get requested a lot times for this slower ballad, love song kind of thing. They wanted the up-tempo one, and I didn’t really have something like that, so we had to write a song and we wrote this song called “Kiss You One More Time,” and it was actually used as the trailer for that movie, “Middle of Nowhere,” which is actually on Showtime right now. It’s airing on cable right now, and we actually play it in our set. It’s a song that’s not off of our album, but it’s such a cool song, like I love this song. And I showed it to the guys, and we played it (laughs), and they’re like, “We’ve got to play that song.” We played it last night. I was telling all the fans, “Hey, this song’s not on the record, but it’s a song we wrote for this movie ‘Middle Of Nowhere,’ and we hope you dig it.'"

And it went over really well. I got to play this song on the Scott Weiland tour. It was cool. It was cool, but yeah, so when you’re writing for someone else that’s a client, you kind of disassociate from it and just basically, it’s writing for them. You’re trying to please the client. And it took me a while to adjust to that, but at the end of the day, I loved doing it. It’s kind of a trip, but look, if the client’s happy, I’m happy. That’s the whole point of it. And it’s still very cool, I mean, to see your stuff on TV on “CSI” or on commercials or sitcoms, or on some of these reality shows or whatever, on the big screen, it’s so gratifying on any level, so just accomplishing that is cool in and of itself, but yeah, obviously, when we’re writing our own music, there’s a lot more emotion attached to it and I’m writing exactly what I want.

You know, my brother and I, we mixed this whole record. Not only did we record it, we mixed it ourselves. I just didn’t want to entrust it into the hands of … look, there are some killer mix guys out there. There are guys that’ll blow me out of the water. I know that. I pull my hair out with that concept sometimes, because trying to get across what it is I want or how I want it to sound, sometimes it’s a painstaking process. So, being able to mix a record on your own, some songs I mixed in a day, some songs it’s taken me three weeks and just going back with headphones at three o’clock in the morning, just really tweaking out on it. I love doing that, where if I’m writing for someone, I still put in that kind of attention, but when they’re happy with it, I’m happy, where they look at it like it’s like a product. They’re like, “It’s great, it’s done.” I’m like, “Well, I think we should …” And they say, “No, no, no. It’s done. This is perfect. It’s exactly what we want.” And I’m like, “Oh, okay,” where I would have done this, I would done this, I would have done that, but that’s not the case. So, yeah, there’s definitely a big difference between the two.

You mentioned you still have your vinyl. What would you say are the five most influential albums on you?
LR: Ah, that’s the best question in the world. It’s an easy question to answer.

I would think it’d be tough.
LR: Let me put it to you like this. The first rock concert I went to was, as I told you, Ray Charles, but probably the one that made me want to be a rock ‘n’ roll musician, my parents took my brother and I to KISS and Judas Priest when I was 8 years old. And they took us to the Nassau Coliseum in New York to see KISS and Judas Priest opened up, and we sat in the last row, but it changed my life. And being in New York, it’s one of those bands coming out of New York at the time that made me want to be a rock musician. One of the first vinyl records I ever bought was KISS Alive, but actually, this is kind of random, but these are the first two albums I ever bought on vinyl – KISS Alive was the first, with the Bay City Rollers (laughs) … I don’t know why, but I loved those guys’ image, man. I loved the image, I loved their sound (laughs) … I thought, “Man, those guys are cool.” So, yeah, the Bay City Rollers. Queen, News of the World was it for me. Foreigner, Double Vision – huge for me. And then, of course, Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell. Those are my first, and I think there may have been a Styx Grand Illusion in there, as well.

I think that was the first album I ever bought with my own money was Grand Illusion.
LR: Right? Grand Illusion, man … I love that record. Then it got crazy. Then I started getting into all my punk stuff, like The Stooges, The Ramones, and then it just got crazy – the Velvet Underground, The Plasmatics. Yeah, I went nuts for all that stuff. But I think those are the biggest influences, yeah. I mean, like KISS, Styx, Queen, Foreigner, Meat Loaf – I mean those are my biggest influences coming up. And that includes everything from AC/DC to Van Halen to Zeppelin, although funny enough with me, I didn’t get heavily into Zeppelin, and I didn’t get heavily into for instance Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, which, of course, everybody knows about. I don’t care. I mean if you’re a rock musician, you’re into those bands, and of course, I am. But at that age, I didn’t understand the music – couldn’t wrap my head around it. It didn’t mean anything to me. I didn’t connect with Zeppelin until later on. I didn’t connect with the Rolling Stones until … and I love the Rolling Stones, love those guys, love the music, but until I matured, I didn’t connect with it until a little bit later in life, but those are my first albums, and then, of course, The Beatles. And the Beatles … I was listening to them at a young age and I just didn’t get it. I used to say to my friends, I was upset … my older sister was listening to them – The Beatles, man! And I just didn’t connect with it at a young age. Of course, when I got older, the Beatles were everything. But yeah, those were some of the first bands for me.

And you two guys being songwriters, those are some of your favorite songwriters as well.
LR: No question about it. But I think like … Simon & Garfunkel were a big influence on me. I like the simplicity of those guys, but what really appeals to my brother and I were melodies, not so much bands that were ripping out. I can’t say I was heavily blues influenced, though I liked the blues. My mom was a real good blues singer and jazz singer, and I always heard it from her growing up. To me, it was just like eating breakfast in the morning. You eat your cereal in the morning? Yeah, I heard Mel Torme or Tom Jones. I’m eating my cereal and that’s what I heard. So it was just something I related to,  but it just kind of reminded me of when I was young and hearing those rock bands and those melodies … Roger and I were so into melodies and people who had great voices and great harmonies, which is probably why we love Simon & Garfunkel, hearing those harmonies that they did. I loved it, and we try to do that to this day. We rock out and we’re onstage, the pedal is to the metal, and we’re rocking out hard, but our choruses hit and we’re doing harmonies and we’re in sync with each other. 

CD Review: Night Ranger – High Road

CD Review: Night Ranger – High Road
Frontiers Records
All Access Rating: B+

Night Ranger - High Road 2014
Beauty and pathos were found among the ruins of the crumbling, doleful piano littering the coming-of-age power ballad "Sister Christian," Kelly Keagy's touching ode to his younger sibling.

Then, when the song took flight, it soared on wings of big guitars and a shining chorus of cautious hope. Along with it rose Night Ranger's career arc, scaling heights that may have seemed impossible at one time to Jack Blades and company. But, there was a catch.

Increasingly seen as somewhat soft and their All-American image squeaky clean, as Night Ranger's appeal grew among those of more conservative and family-friendly tastes, the memory of hot-blooded hard-rock anthems like "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" began to fade for some. That's the "deal with the devil" bands like Night Ranger made in the '80s, as fans wanting something edgier and darker gradually drifted away.

Of course, diehard followers knew better. Still, ever since then, it seems these good ol' boys of arena-rock bombast have walked a fine line between trying to restore their reputation as a full-throttle, fiery rock band with a signature double-barreled, fiery guitar attack and pleasing those who melt for earnest, heartfelt pop balladry. On their latest record, High Road, they're still to make everybody happy.

And they should be overjoyed at what the Frontiers Records release High Road has in store for them, as crunchy, pulse-pounding, melodic rockers such as "X Generation," "I'm Coming Home" and "Hang On" slam forward with confidence born of past successes and a sense that they damn well know what they're doing, planting a bevy of brilliant hooks in the furrows of each track and the combination of guitarists Brad Gillis and Joel Hoekstra firing off sizzling, screaming leads at will.

And they've penned the ultimate summer driving anthem of 2014 with an exuberant, sunny title track that tastes freedom as Night Ranger hauls ass to the desert to get away from it all, the song a heady, infectious anthem that worships the sun and is an almost perfect pop-rock concoction. Aside from these examples, there's a sense in listening to High Road that Night Ranger hasn't really progressed or improved its formula, as the soul-baring "Don't Live Here Anymore," while sincere and open, seems trite and the somber "Only For You Only" follows the same well-worn trajectory and song structure of "Sister Christian."

Nevertheless, High Road is, at heart, a good, rollicking rock 'n' roll record, one meant to be played loud as the road underneath you rolls by. Get in the car, and take off on Night Ranger's High Road, leaving your cares behind. It'll feel like the '80s never went away.
– Peter Lindblad

The Raskins: Brothers in arms (Part 1)

New York City retro-rock siblings do it their way
By Peter Lindblad

The Raskins - The Raskins 2014
When the major labels started sniffing around New York City retro rock ‘n’ roll animals The Raskins, they said, “Thanks, but no thanks. We’re good.”

At one time, long ago, they would have jumped at their offers, but like another Big Apple icon, the Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra, twins Logan and Roger are set on doing things their way, and it’s gotten them pretty far. So, they turned them away.

“It’s funny, when my brother and I kind of finished all our videos, we finished doing the web site, we finished recording the record, everything was done, our fan base was growing leaps and bounds – all of a sudden, we started getting all these record deals,” Logan related. “I was in my attorney’s office, and he goes, ‘You know, you’ve got six major labels wanting to sign you guys right now – six!’ He put four contracts right in front of me, dropped them on the deck. He goes, ‘There you go. Four major labels want to sign you guys. What do you guys want to do?’”

Taken aback by all the sudden record label attention they were getting, The Raskins’ heads were swimming, and they needed some objective advice.

“And I said, ‘Well, if I’d have been younger, I’d have been freaking out,’” said Logan. “And I said, ‘As my attorney, what do you advise us to do?’ And he said, ‘Well, as your attorney, I advise you to do it all yourselves. You don’t need them. You don’t need those labels for anything. Why would you want to give away everything you’ve done and give away all that control, give all that power, everything you guys have worked for? You guys have done it all on your own to this point.’ He goes, ‘You’ve got it.’ He goes, ‘You have it all. Don’t give it away.’”

An honest-to-goodness DIY success story – of which there are precious few these days – The Raskins have been surrounded by music their whole lives. Their father, Tommy, was a Broadway singer who appeared in such shows as “West Side Story, “ “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific,” among others, and their mother, Judith, known in the entertainment community as Judith Lee, was a jazz singer of some renown.

Successful forays into the world of making music for TV and film helped The Raskins make a name for themselves, but in recent years, they've felt a tug to break out of that box and perform for the masses their own uniquely New York-style rock 'n' roll, an exciting, punched-up blend of singer-songwriter pop, the gritty, sleazy proto-punk of the New York Dolls and The Stooges and sophisticated classic rock clothed in tight black jeans, black leather and spiked hair and brimming with attitude.

Cover for The Raskins'
single "We Had It All"
Their self-titled debut album dropped in May, which includes the red-hot single "We Had It All," while the duo was on tour supporting ex-Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver front man Scott Weiland. Soon, they will embark on another jaunt with modern-rock heavyweights Saving Abel, and the day before this interview, they got even bigger news. We'll let Logan talk about it in Part 1 of our Q&A with these rising stars. 

How did you get on the Scott Weiland tour?
Logan Raskin: Well, you know, we have an album coming out May 13. So our management and our label over Sony/Red obviously they’re looking to get us on to the biggest tours possible that are going out this summer, and the Scott Weiland tour was one of the opportunities that came across their desk for us, and of course, they had asked my brother and I how we would feel about going out with Scott Weiland, and you know, Scott Weiland is a big influence on my brother and I. Our musical styles, I feel, are very similar, so for me it was a no-brainer. I said, “Absolutely. Let’s get out there with Scott. I think it would be a really good pairing.”

So they called Scott’s camp, and they told Scott about the band, and Scott, it was really his decision. So they’re management said, well, we’ll talk to Scott about it and it’s really up to him. So, yeah, Scott checked out our music and our videos online, and he really dug what we were doing and said, “Yeah, let’s get these guys out on the road with us.” So the first show we did last night. We’re doing an 11- to 12-show run with Scott, and then when we get back, we’ll go back to Hollywood for about 10 days and then we’ll go back out again and we have about 20-plus shows booked with Saving Abel. So, we’ll go out with Saving Abel and do all that, and actually, we just found out it looks like we might be doing some of the Motley Crue-Alice Cooper shows. So believe it or not, you’re the first person I’m telling that to. So we actually got offered 27 dates with them. I don’t know exactly … the label and our management right now are working on all the details and the scheduling of it all, because I mean, obviously, that’s the biggest tour of the year. And we already have contracts signed with the Saving Abel tour, so we have to work out all the logistics with that. Obviously, I’m like, “Let’s make it work (laughs).” So, let’s see: Madison Square Garden is on there, Hollywood Bowl is on there … I’m like, “Are you guys kidding me? Of course, let’s go. Let’s make it happen.” (See The Raskins' video for "We Had It All" below)

So it’s overwhelming, things are really taking off for the Raskins, and you know, we’re just trying to take it day by day. It’s a whirlwind, but my brother and I are just taking it day by day. We’re taking it in stride. The band is kicking ass and playing amazing. The show last night with Scott went great. Really, our focus right now is the Scott Weiland tour. We really want to try and make this a successful tour, and last night, the first night was great. A lot of kids bought our CDs, and we signed a ton of posters and stuff. I mean, the response was pretty much overwhelming. So I’m really excited about things to come and moving long with the Scott Weiland tour now.

Wow. That’s pretty amazing news.
LR: Yeah, you didn’t expect me to say all that, right?

No, that’s kind of mind-blowing.
LR: Yeah, let me tell you something. It’s like every day things change with us, and different opportunities come up. Our single right now is being played on 150 radio stations across the country, our single “We had it All,” and our album [wasn't] even out yet. So it’s like the single is starting to do really well. The video is blowing up online. We’ve got almost two million views online with YouTube, so the response has been really, really great. The anticipation of the album coming out [was] really high, so we’re excited about that; it just seems like everything is coming together at the right time. We’re firing on all cylinders right now. We just want to keep this train on the tracks and keep things moving forward for us.

I have to tell you after listening to the songs on the electronic press kit, this is the kind of music I miss.
LR: Cool, man. It’s cool to hear you say that, and you know what? Me, too (laughs). You know what’s funny, for the last several years, my brother and I were writing a lot of music for TV and film. And we got heavily into that for a while, and we were known as The Raskins. We were writing a lot of stuff for different film projects, and we were getting an overwhelming amount of e-mails from fans – pretty much not just in the U.S., but all over the world – that were seeing these movies or seeing these TV shows that we did the music for, and they were always asking, “Where can we get your guys’ music? When can we see you live?” So it was just a matter of time before my brother and I were like, “Look, I think it’s time. The writing is on the wall. I think it’s time we just put the band together and start playing out at The Raskins.”

So we decided to do that a couple of years ago, and then last year or about a year a half ago, we started recording the music for this album that’s coming out and we took our time writing it, and we just wanted to put together a solid group of songs that really represented my brother and myself, our writing styles and our influences.

Being from New York City, we really wanted to incorporate that rock ‘n’ roll style that my brother and I grew up with, but also incorporate the different style of our writing ability. Because, look, some of our biggest influences were The Stooges or the New York Dolls or the Ramones, but it was also acts such as Simon & Garfunkel and Steely Dan – those acts out of New York City. We kind of grew up with those influences and it really influenced our writing style, and we wanted to put together a record that encapsulated those styles. And I think we accomplished that with this record.

The lead single, “We Had It All,” dropped on Feb. 18 and I was going to ask about what kind of feedback you’re getting, but it seems like it’s been pretty good. What inspired that song?
LR: And it’s funny, Peter, because I was nervous about it because when you’re writing music for somebody, basically they’re telling you what they want. So it’s an easy process for me, because I kind of try to detach myself from the music because I’m basically just giving the client what it is that they want. And a lot of times, we’ll finish a composition for a client, and I’ll say, “Well, I know how I would have written that,” but they’re very specific about how they want things, and we try to just give them that when we’re writing for these different music supervisors for these movies and things like that, and we just read the client. But with the record and writing for us, we really took our time and wanted to really come forward with our influences and our styles we grew up with , and really try to capture that on this record.

I really love the songs “On the Radio” and “We Had it All.” Can you talk about what inspired those songs?
LR: Absolutely. Well, first of all, “On the Radio,” it’s pretty much exactly that. Every musician growing up, I don’t care if you’re young or old, the first thing you dream about as a musician is hearing your music on the radio. It’s the first thing. For my brother and I, the first time we ever heard our music on the radio that was a big moment for us. And I assume it would be a big moment for any musician coming up. So for us, I remember exactly where we were, the moment it happened, the first time I heard our song coming across the airwaves on the radio. It was a big memorable moment and one for me I’ll never forget. And I felt it was an important thing to write about, because that was an important moment in our music career. That’s exactly what that song is about, “On the Radio,” and it means a lot to us. It was important in our music career, and I wanted to write a song about that. And then the single, “We Had it All,” which by the way, it was difficult to figure out what was going to be the initial single for this record. (See the video for "On the Radio" below)

I was going to ask about that.
LR: Yeah, I mean, I’m so attached to all these songs. But this particular song ... I’ll explain what it’s about, and you’ll see why we decided to use it as a single. I mean, the song was basically written about how the music industry is today. My brother and I, being from New York City, spending our whole lives growing up and doing music in New York, and our parents being in the music industry, we were doing our thing musically and we were struggling, just kind of pushing along, playing all the clubs in New York, and trying our hand at being musicians. But my brother and I had gotten some opportunities to go out to Los Angeles to work with a couple of pretty big producers out there, and I thought it was a good opportunity maybe to go out to L.A. and try to expand on our career, and try to push our career forward, and as we were doing that, it was an interesting time in the music industry.

I mean the music industry was really changing, so like the way the online market is now, you don’t even see record stores anymore. I grew up with vinyl. I still have my vinyl collection. I remember going to the record stores and paging through my favorite vinyls and buying vinyl, and you can’t even go to a record store and buy a CD anymore. It’s all digital downloads now. Getting back to my point, from when we kind of got out to L.A. and we were working with those producers and stuff like that, my brother and I kind of realized that we never really had to leave New York, or we never really had to change what it was that we were doing to be successful. We had everything we needed to be successful, and I never really realized that until we made that trip out to Los Angeles. I mean, we packed our car, drove out, packed up everything we had and just drove out to Los Angeles, started working out there, trying to play the clubs out there, working the system and doing recording, working with the producers out there, but I realized the way the music industry is right now, if you have the knowledge and the wherewithal, you can do it all on your own. You don’t need anybody. If you’re not lazy, you can do it all on your own. The way the Internet is now, you can work your online market, the way Twitter is, the way Facebook is, you can get your music up online. You can build your fan base online. And that’s exactly what we started to do.

And I realized how to make all that work for us, and we also learned how to record our own music, to do it in our own home. We built a recording studio. We have a recording studio in our home in Los Angeles, and I have one in my home in New York, but when I learned how to do that, the way recording music has changed, they’re not using the big recording studios. A lot of those big recording studios are going out of business now. You can record killer quality tracks in the privacy of your own home. Everything’s digital now. So, basically, the song is “We Had It All.” I never had to leave. We never had to leave New York. We had it all. We had everything we needed to become successful. And I realized that. My brother and I had all the music. We had the knowledge and the wherewithal on how to record the music. We knew exactly how to market and promote our music online, sell our music online, and that’s exactly what we did. And that’s exactly how we built our fans. We built up our fan base online, we recorded all the videos ourselves and released them to YouTube and pushed and worked our fan base there, and that’s exactly what the song is about. It’s called “We Had it All.”
We always had it all. I never realized that. I was always talking to my friends and saying, “I wish we could do this. I wish we could do that. I wish I could work with this person. I wish I could work with that person.” And I try to tell it to a lot of younger kids coming up: “You’re not lazy. The way the music industry is set up now, you can do it all yourself.” You know, my dream growing up was to get signed by a major label. Now, it’s the worst thing, the worst thing. The only deals that these major labels are giving out now are 360 deals. They believe that with the digital market now, the online market, the only way these major labels can make any money is to take a percentage of everything you own, everything.

So my brother, Roger and myself and my older brother, Micah Raskin – who’s our business manager, and he lives in New York, owns a computer software company in New Jersey and he’s great with business, great with business, and he handles all our business and is our business manager – and the three of us put together our own record label. And we called the label MIRAL, which stands for Micah “Mi,” and I “Roger,” and “Logan” – MIRAL records. So we signed ourselves to our own record label, and then once we did that, Michael said, “Okay guys, we have everything we need. Everything is done. The only thing we need is distribution.” I said, “Micah, there’s only one place to go.” He said, “Where’s that?” I said, “Sony Red. Go to Sony.” And he said, “Okay, I’ll go.”

Called him up, set up a meeting, just my brother went down with the attorney, they signed us in 20 minutes. It took 20 minutes, that’s it and it was done. Now I have my own label that I’m signed to, three brothers own it all outright. I have total control over my musical career, creatively … everything. And I have distribution through Sony. It’s been amazing, amazing. And let me tell you it was hard work, but this is what I try to tell people, and I try to tell these young kids out there, I’m like, “You can do all this. You can do all this on your own.” And that’s what we’ve done, and it’s a great feeling, a great feeling. I go to sleep at night with a big smile on my face, just having the ability to play music every day and do it full-time is a major accomplishment for my brother and I.

It’s a major accomplishment, and we’re the kind of guys … I don’t need to make millions of dollars, I don’t need to make a lot of money, because I’m a music lover. And the reason why we got involved in music was to just play music. We loved it. And just the fact that we have the opportunity to do that now, to travel all around the country and travel all around the world, playing music and giving out our message to all the kids out there, it’s crazy. So I’m living the dream, man. And I think this is just the beginning, but I’m having the time of my life with it.

This is the kind of album – guitar-driven, melodic, with lots of hooks – that would appeal to a wide range of people, and music is so fragmented these days. Can an album like this break down some of those walls?
LR: I mean, look, I totally agree with you, but what was happening … like I would just take maybe five years ago. That’s before you really saw the radical changes in the music industry with the online market, the record labels really would get confused with a lot of these bands. And they had the mentality like, look, we need to know exactly what bin we’re putting this music in. Are you guys rock? Are you guys rap? Are you guys pop? Are you guys heavy metal? Are you guys country? And that’s how they would define it. So a lot of these bands would go along with that protocol, and they’d only put out rock or they’d only put out heavy metal, or only put out punk, and they were some great bands, but they would only be known and categorized as just that, but my brother and I, being in the situation that we’re in, I don’t have to answer to anybody. I can sign my own people.

I can put out all the music I want in the style that I want, and it’s very important for my brother and I to let our fan base and to let the public see our musical influences – the styles we grew up with, and the kind of music that we love. It’s not just aggressive rock. It’s also really good pop songs, and most of the music that I write is off of an acoustic guitar. So a lot of those Simon & Garfunkel or Steely Dan or Richie Havens influences come out in our writing styles. And we really want to try to have those hooky chords, those pop chords and there’s a lot of harmonies going on, whether it be in an aggressive rock song or whether it be in a slow ballad. It’s important to us. So I don’t really care. I wanted to make sure that Roger and I were happy with our finished product and happy with the music that we’re putting out there. That’s the most important thing.

We write for ourselves. And I know the beauty of the position we’re in is that I don’t have to answer to a president of an Atlantic or an Interscope or an Island, or whomever, and that’s all good, but I can put out the kind of music that I want and it took me to this point in my musical career to get it to this point and learn. Believe me, we went through the trials and tribulations of all of it, but now we’re at this point where we were able to take our time writing the record, and we had an amazing time doing it.

We recorded 50 songs … 50 songs! It took us almost a year and a half. I wasn’t under pressure. I wasn’t under a time restraint. We just had a great time recording music, and when we felt like it was done, it was done. We had 12 songs that we felt good about, that had a good flow and that really represented us and put it on the record and that’s what we wanted to represent us. That’s what we wanted to put out into the universe. So I hope that maybe it catches on, and I do think it will catch on, because the music industry is changing so radically and I think that these kids are going to be doing more and more on their own, and I think the music is going to change with that. There’s a lot of talent out there. There really is, and the way the industry is now, it’s freaking beautiful. It’s amazing. I love it. I love it. It’s giving the power back to the artist. And that’s the way it should be. That’s the way it should be. I think the music that the world is going to see now, it’s going to blow people’s minds. It’s going to blow people’s minds. So that’s what I would like to do. I can’t wait to get on to our second record.

Our management and Sony and everybody and Sony Red, it’s like you guys for the next year and a half we just want you to tour the shit out of this album. And I’m like, “Well, that’s cool. I love touring, too.” But creatively, I’m like, “Aaaahhhh …” I can’t wait to do this next record. There are so many songs I want to get out there. So, it’s exciting. It’s exciting, and I think it’s going to catch on, I really do. And I hope that we can influence a lot of these younger artists out there to follow what we’re doing. I think that it’ll be good for the public to hear, to change it up and hear that quality of music coming from these new artists, these up-and-coming artists.

CD Review: Tesla – Simplicity

CD Review: Tesla – Simplicity
Tesla Electric Company Recording
All Access Rating: A-

Tesla - Simplicity 2014
Don't tell Tesla that technology has made our lives better. What's so great about it anyway? It's only brought more complications and increased anxiety, not to mention inferior "MP3" digital recordings, embraced for their convenience but reviled for their sonic limitations. 

It seems Tesla, then, wasn't made for these times. Then again, their brand of honest and earthy songwriting, informed by the '70s classic rock of Montrose and Humble Pie, seemed almost completely out of touch with the glamorous, roaring '80s, and they sold records by the truckloads if memory serves.

Doggedly forging ahead in this social-media driven age, the Tesla of 2014 longs for Simplicity, which is not only the title of their latest album but also the word that best defines the straightforward, no-holds-barred sound of these scruffy, hard-rock mutts. Speaking the unvarnished truth of rock 'n' roll, with grit and big-hearted melodies, the well-crafted Simplicity is a heady distillation of all those raw elements that have made Tesla so beloved, as solid hooks and rugged grooves emerge from a rough mix of tastefully executed electric and acoustic guitar interplay to make the crunching, ballsy hard rock of "Ricochet" and "Break of Dawn." Just as spirited and even more timeless are rustic, emotionally spent power ballads, such as the soaring "So Divine ..." and the cathartic "Honestly," that, in Tesla's capable hands, manage to avoid the honey trap of being too saccharine or overly sentimental. The scratched-up, wildcat vocals of Jeff Keith make sure that never happens.

On Simplicity, though, Tesla speaks its mind in songs that have real teeth and jaws of steel. Taking on a world overrun by computer devices and their bastard offspring, "MP3" is the stomping opening track, and it's a gnarly, defiant Luddite's lament that wants its phonograph back and despite its sneering guitars, is slow to anger, pretty string arrangements lending their righteous argument heightened drama. In similar fashion, the creeping "Rise and Fall" gradually develops, its grungy churn warning of trouble ahead.

Above all, however, what really sparkles on Simplicity is "Cross My Heart," a charming, sun-dappled Southern rock ditty reminiscent of both The Faces and The Black Crowes, with golden acoustic shine and beautiful, rambling piano courtesy of a multi-instrumentalist marvel in guitarist Frank Hannon. Due out June 10, there's nothing fussy or pretentious about Simplicity. It is what the title says it is. What's in a name? When it comes to Tesla, it's everything.  
– Peter Lindblad

Dream Theater app now available

Prog-metal outfit to offer fans increased interactivity

Mativision happily announces the release of their DreamTheater360° App on Android on June 9, 2014. The Android DreamTheater360° App offers fans a unique 360° interactive experience into the Grammy-nominated progressive metal titans’ performance, as captured onstage by Mativision® multi-camera 360° video technology at Luna Park in Buenos Aires. (App Promo video:

In its first release, the Android DreamTheater360° App will include two interactive 360° songs filmed and produced using the Mativision technology, which virtually transports fans directly onto the Luna Park stage right next to the band members and completely immerses them in a unique experience that they can control in real time. 

Each fan can direct the show by manipulating Mativision’s multi-camera player, and enjoy the concert in any way they want. Fans can seamlessly choose among six different cameras while also having the capability to rotate each camera angle and zoom in and out, by tapping and dragging. More 360° interactive Luna Park songs will be added to the Android App every week, at no extra charge to Android DreamTheater360° App users.

The Android DreamTheater360° App is available on the Google Play Store, priced at $9,99.

CD Review: Orange Goblin – Healing Through Fire

CD Review: Orange Goblin – Healing Through Fire
Candlelight Records
All Access Rating: A

Orange Goblin -Healing Through Fire 2014
Time hasn't diminished the medicinal powers of Orange Goblin's 2007 album Healing Through Fire.

Slightly crispy and fuzzy around the edges, its bluesy, motoring riffage doused in gasoline and lit on fire, Healing Through Fire is a blazing stoner-metal arson for the great unwashed that never got a proper promotional tour Stateside – something singer Ben Ward has always regretted.

Their only Sanctuary Records release, Healing Through Fire was the band's sixth LP. Falling into obscurity, as Orange Goblin went on hiatus until 2011, it became a rare find recently for Goblin obsessives. Reissued by Candlelight Records with rampaging, greasy live renditions of the album's most infectious tracks, the muscular, writhing "The Ballad of Solomon Eagle" and the rugged, down-tuned harbinger of chugging evil "They Come Back," Healing Through Fire deserved a better fate, especially considering how dramatically it relives the suffering, grave fear and reeking death of The Great Plague and London's Great Fire of 1666.

Evocative and captivating lyrically, the words delivered with Ward's bestial vocal roar, Healing Through Fire is a furnace of an album, managing to sound wide and heavy on a hot and nasty "Hot Knives and Open Sores" and the brawny, seismic "Vagrant Stomp," while never succumbing to sluggishness. Even the punishing doom-metal pounding of "Cities of Frost," this swinging sledgehammer smashed repeatedly into a brick wall, is delivered with rage-filled intensity, and the relentless groove-mongering of "The Ale House Braves" circles with dangerous intent before charging into the breach without hesitation.

In spirit, Orange Goblin could be the hell-spawned bastard child of Motorhead, but on the smoldering "Beginner's Guide to Suicide," with its slide guitar, smoggy organ and pained harmonica, they play dirty blues with the devilish charm of Cream – rumbling, demented and psychedelic. Although Joe Hoare's guitar leads throughout Healing Through Fire are sharp and searing, just as his riffs are meaty and brutal, it's his expressive soloing on "Beginner's Guide to Suicide" that steals the show.

Until Orange Goblin's next studio full-length, which is apparently under construction, this violent revisiting of one of the band's surefire classics should mollify the pitchfork-wielding villagers waiting for more from these shaggy metal bikers. Let the Healing ... begin.
– Peter Lindblad

CD/DVD Review: Toto – 35th Anniversary Tour: Live in Poland

CD/DVD Review: Toto – 35th Anniversary Tour: Live in Poland
Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Rating: B+

Toto - 35th Anniversary Tour:
Live in Poland
Europe got its fill of Toto in 2013, as the neo-progressive soft-rock idealists celebrated their 35th anniversary with a glorious 29-city tour of the continent that included a stop in Lodz, Poland, where a packed house greeted them with unabashed joy and exuberance.

Toto returned the favor, putting on a spectacular two-hour performance that was joyous, poignant and entirely free of soul-sucking cynicism, traipsing through a life-affirming set list of expected hits and a few forgotten treasures that prove deserving of reassessment. 

Vividly filmed for a DVD release that comes with a nicely edited, engaging, career-spanning set of interviews, "35th Anniversary Tour: Live in Poland" is also available on Blu-ray, as a two-CD set and a deluxe edition from Eagle Rock Entertainment, and it is a vivid spectacle of sound and vision. With superb camera work that alights on Steve Lukather's breathtaking, uniquely engrossing guitar solos, focuses the spotlight on Joseph Williams' commanding vocals and dynamic stage presence, and glows with warmth, "35th Anniversary Tour: Live in Poland" is a dazzling, intoxicating showcase of Toto's ability to connect with its fans on a level that's not exactly intimate, but it is powerful.

Superb camera work captures the sterling interplay of Toto's core members, these veteran session musicians, whose contributions are found on an astonishing 5,000 albums, ably balancing progressive-rock ambition with jazz fusion and R&B influences, and transitioning to lush pop soundscapes without missing a beat. Theatrical at times, as they revel in the keyboard bombast of the Yes-like "St. George and the Dragon," where keyboardists David Paich and Steve Pocaro set off a glorious aural display, Toto also eases comfortably into the tropical pop longing of "Africa" with grace, injects energy and passion into "Rosanna" and builds dramatic tension in another crowd favorite, "Hold the Line."

Whether its the languid Spanish guitar Lukather expertly negotiates on "The Muse" or the proggy time changes so deftly navigated throughout a stirring version of "Better World," Toto can still gently break hearts with aching, affecting renditions of "I'll Be Over You" and "99" while managing to maintain a seriousness about their craft. And the watery "Hydra," with its light funk grooves, prove that prog and R&B can coexist.

Both respected for their musicianship and derided for their overly sentimental pop excesses, Toto has always left itself open to criticism that's both fair and just, and yet, they continue down the road as they always have, taking the paths they want to take and not giving one jot for those who find them cloying or insincere. Though completely over the top and so slickly produced that it comes off as glitzy as Vegas, this cinematic extravaganza could win over new converts.
– Peter Lindblad

Yes sets release date for 'Heaven & Earth'

Prog-rock giants have big summer tour planned

Yes - Heaven & Earth 2014
Among the world’s most influential, ground-breaking, and respected progressive rock bands, Grammy Award winning, YES are proud to announce they will release their  new studio album,HEAVEN & EARTH, July 22 on Frontiers Records. Having sold nearly 40 million albums in a career that has so far spanned more than four decades, HEAVEN & EARTH sees YES continuing with its tradition of symphonic progressive rock that remains timelessly fresh and innovative.HEAVEN & EARTH is available now for pre-order on Amazon here:

HEAVEN & EARTH contains eight new tracks, each of which boasts the unique musicianship and craftsmanship that have come to be known as “the YES sound.” YES’ distinctive layered music, swirling arrangements, brilliant vocals and harmonies are all in abundance. HEAVEN & EARTH is an album sure to please both long-time and new YES fans. For HEAVEN & EARTH, YES teamed up with legendary Grammy Award winner, Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, The Cars, Guns N’ Roses, Foreigner, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice Cooper, etc.), who handled the production and Billy Sherwood (Toto, Paul Rodgers, Air Supply, etc.) who mixed the album. Also onboard is long-timeYES artist, the world-renowned Roger Dean, who again brings his masterful artistic creativity to the album’s cover art and packaging.

Tracklisting for Heaven & Earth:
1. Believe Again
2. The Game
3. Step Beyond
4. To Ascend
5. In A World Of Our Own
6. Light Of The Ages
7. It Was All We Knew
8. Subway Walls

To coincide with the release of HEAVEN & EARTH, the multi-platinum progressive rock band--bassist CHRIS SQUIRE, guitarist STEVE HOWE, drummer ALAN WHITE, keyboardist GEOFF DOWNES and singer JON DAVISON – announced in March they’ll launch their 35-date summer tour featuring YES performing, in their entirety, 1971’s groundbreaking album FRAGILE for the first-time ever and a repeat performance from last year’s tour of 1972’s CLOSE TO THE EDGE, followed by an encore of the band’s greatest hits.

The album FRAGILE is considered to be their U.S. breakthrough album peaking at #4 on theBillboard Album charts in the U.S. The RIAA-certified double platinum album has sold over two million copies and features YES’ hit single “Roundabout” and other classics likeLong Distance Runaround” and “Heart of the Sunrise.” It also marks the band’s first collaboration with artist Roger Dean on cover art, who has designed many of the band’s album covers and logos. The band’s album CLOSE TO THE EDGE  widely regarded as one of the greatest progressive rock albums ever recorded--was on the U.S. charts for 32 weeks, peaking at #3. A Rolling Stone review noted, “Yes’ colors are subtle, almost imperceptible tints, but the main strokes are bold and thick, applied with sureness and natural instinct.” Inspired by Siddhartha and their “state of mind” at the time, the Gold-certified album featuring epic suites such as “Close To The Edge” and “You And I” was named one of the “100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time” by Guitar World (2006). Track listings for both albums listed here:

Spend “An Evening with YES” this summer in the following cities:



Boston, MA

Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

New York, NY

Radio City Music Hall

Wallingford, CT

Toyota Oakdale Theatre

Westbury, NY

NYCB Theatre at Westbury

Newport, RI

Newport Yachting Center

Washington, DC

Warner Theatre

Hampton, NH

Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom

Salamanca, NY

Seneca Allegany Casino

Philadelphia, PA

Tower Theater

Munhall, PA

Carnegie Music Hall

Rochester Hills, MI

Meadow Brook

Northfield, OH

Hard Rock Live Northfield Park

Madison, WI

Overture Hall

Chicago, IL

Copernicus Center

Nashville, TN

Ryman Auditorium

Louisville, KY

Louisville Palace

Atlanta, GA

Symphony Hall

Hollywood, FL

Seminole Hard Rock Live

St. Petersburg, FL

Mahaffey Theater

Orlando, FL

Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre

Houston, TX

Bayou Music Center

Grand Prairie, TX

Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie

Kansas City, MO

Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland

Denver, CO

Paramount Theatre

Tucson, AZ

Rialto Theatre

Mesa, AZ

Ikeda Theatre at Mesa Arts Center

Albuquerque, NM

Legends Theater at Route 66 Casino

Las Vegas, NV

The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Anaheim, CA

City National Grove of Anaheim

San Diego, CA

Humphrey’s Concerts By the Bay

San Jose, CA

City National Civic

Tulalip, WA

Tulalip Amphitheatre

Grand Ronde, OR

Spirit Mountain Casino

Lincoln, CA

Thunder Valley Casino Resort

Los Angeles, CA

Greek Theatre

YES is proud to provide special show packages, which include near-stage seating, a meet and greet with the band, exclusive limited-edition gifts from YES, and much more. For more information on prices, on-sale dates and to purchase YES packages/tickets, go to