Archive for dokken

M3 Festival 2015 –Day 1 – Trixter, Dio Disciples, Quiet Riot, Dokken – Live Review (5/1/15)

Posted in Just Stuff with tags , , , , , , , on May 20, 2015 by novametalreview

This is the seventh year for M3, which is probably the best festival if 80’s “hair metal” is your thing. If you need to review the history of this festival then see my review from last year and indeed the review from the year before that! This time around I’m skipping the intro waffle and getting more or less straight into it. The only thing I will say is M3 is a 2-day event and this review covers the shorter Day1.

As a VIP ticket holder (meaning you pay a lot more for the chance to be somewhere near the front), there was a VIP-only acoustic performance by Jack Russell’s Great White at something like 3PM or so, but that in itself wasn’t enough of a draw to get us over there early, and in fact we finally made it over to the venue around 4.15, which meant we missed Korupt. I think I have them confused with the band who opened the second day, so no more comment either way…

Tixter

Last time Trixter played here in 2013 things did not go well, so I was hoping for a better experience, and indeed we got much more what I was expecting. We didn’t see the whole set (missed the first 3 songs of 7), but what we did see was tight, well delivered and without any pretention for a band early in the day. Nothing really to write home about, but job well done. (Score: 7/10)

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Dio Disciples
For me, this band was in the wrong position in the running order. DD are essentially the remains of Ronnie James Dio’s band “Dio” and do an admirable job of keeping Dio’s music alive. The band has very much an open door as far as members are concerned, but generally consists of players who were at one time or another in Dio with Ronnie. Vocals for this show were handled by Joe Retta (Heaven and Earth) and Oni Logan (perhaps best known with Lynch Mob). Personally I think I preferred Joe who cut a pretty convincing Dio, but Oni also did a great job – for me though he has a little more character to his voice, meaning he sounds more like Oni Logan and less Dio…

On guitar Craig Goldy (Dio, Giuffria, Rough Cutt) played a blinder, even though he isn’t really the most visually exciting player around. Simon Wright held down he drums, while keys were handled by the somewhat over-the-top Scott Warren (though maybe he was making up for Craig…). I’m not sure who the fella on bass was, but he did a fine job.

The set opened with Holy Diver, which basically opened the flood gates, filling my mind with thoughts of Dio concerts at Hammersmith Odeon in London through the 80’s. These songs really are metal classics and despite the tribute band feel, Dio Disciples are doing a worthy job of keeping this music alive. Stargazer, The Last In Line, Man On The Silver Mountain and Heaven and Hell were all highlights for me, but all eight tracks player were delivered with conviction and with a great crowd reaction all round. I would have been happy for them to keep playing for another hour… (Score: 9/10)

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Quiet Riot

Trying to summarize the history of this band in a few paragraphs isn’t going to work, so all I will say is there is no one from original line-up of the band at all (1975-1980), and only Frankie Banali remains from the 1982 “Metal Health” era line-up. When Kevin DuBrow died in 2007, it seemed the band was finished, but come 2010 auditions were held and Mark Huff, first of four subsequent vocalists were hired, only to be fired while waiting for brain surgery… Two more vocalists later, Jizzy Pearl (ex-Love/Hate/LA Guns) was hired in late 2013. This show was the first time I saw QR with Jizzy out front.

Overall it was just “all right”. There was nothing particularly memorable or exciting about the set, which finished with the strongest song pairing of “Cum On Feel The Noize” and “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)”, but despite this it felt flat, and certainly paled in comparison with Dio Disciples. (Score: 7/10)

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Dokken

Back in the 80’s Dokken was one of my favorite bands and “Under Lock and Key” would have been in my top ten albums back then for many years to come, so let me make it clear, there’s no lack of love for Dokken siting here. However, sadly I can’t say this performance did anything good for me at all unfortunately.

First let’s cover the good stuff – Mick Brown is still pounding the skins on the drums and he was most entertaining back there. Equally entertaining was Jon Levin on guitar, who has the not so enviable job of filling George Lynch’s shoes on those classic songs – he does a fine job and pretty much nailed what was needed every time. I don’t remember the bassist (Mark Boals) at all, and it seems he is relatively new to the ranks, having joined in late 2014, but he clearly did a fine job. So well done band members…

Now turning to Don Dokken, it is sometimes hard to accept that time hasn’t been kind, but in this case, when you are the frontman of a band, and a band that carries your name, I think you need to be very realistic about how things are going. In this case, Don’s voice just isn’t up to snuff on many of these songs. For example, “The Hunter” and Dream Warriors” in particular were both vocal train-wrecks. To be honest I kind of zoned Don out for the rest of the performance which perhaps was just a coping mechanism kicking in. For me, my lasting impression was one of disappointment with Don letting himself down like this. It was a bit like watching a Karaoke show, where the music was spot on, but the vocals ranged from just about OK, to dismal… (Score: 4/10)

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The End

And that was the end of day 1 for us… Wait you are screaming! WHAT ABOUT KIX? Didn’t Kix headline? This was the M3 Kix-off party after all, wasn’t it? Ah, yes, this is true, but the fact of the matter is if you’ve seen Kix once (let alone every M3 plus a few other shows out and about), then you’ve basically seen the show that is about to happen. Now I do like their recorded music, I do like the live music, but…not so much the in-between banter and jokes. Cringe. Also the fact that the M3 folks felt that Kix deserved 1 hour and 40 minutes for their set, longer than the main headliner the next day and anyone else at the whole festival seemed a bit excessive. Would this festival suffer if Kix did not appear at all? How about Tom Kiefer/Cinderella headline Friday night? I think that would have been killer… I would have stayed for that.

Next up – M3 Day2!

T & N – Slave To The Empire – Review

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2013 by novametalreview

George Lynch is one busy guitar player, no doubt about it, in fact so much so that I’m lagging quite a bit behind his release schedule. Today I am going to try to catch up and write a review that is something a little shorter than an episode from Lord Of The Rings in the hope that I can catch up some…

So, confession time. Rewinding the clock, George Lynch was without doubt the most influential guitar player on myself back in the days when I was playing guitar. I still have a George Lynch VHS guitar tuition video and booklet that was released in the early 90’s, and I remember vividly learning every song from “Tooth and Nail” and “Under Lock and Key” note-for-note. Well, almost note-for-note… Now is not the time or place for a full history lesson, since the George Lynch and Don Dokken story is pretty complex, however, it is impossible not to give it a passing mention since it is the catalyst for the band before us – T & N.

First off, what a crap name. Sorry but it is. However, to explain this some history is unavoidable. The ‘classic’ Dokken line-up is most often regarded as Don Dokken (vocals), George Lynch (guitar), Jeff Pilson (bass) and Mick Brown (drums), which came together in 1983. While the band achieved great commercial success, creative and personal differences led to the band splitting up in 1989, and while they did reform in 1993 and struggled on until 1997, they really only managed to put out one decent album in this time (Dysfunctional, 1995), until the final split, with Don continuing Dokken, while George went off to reform Lynch Mob (which had put out the exceptionally good “Wicked Sensation” release in 1990). If you’re confused by this, good, so am I, because it is confusing.

At various times a reunion has been touted as “just around the corner” but has never happened. Most recently this was heavily discussed back in 2010, with official announcements saying it was on, and then retracted. Oh, what a flippin’ saga! Finally though, something real did come from all this rumor, with Lynch, Pilson and Brown announcing the formation of “Tooth and Nail” which was 75% of the classic Dokken line-up, obviously minus Dokken himself, who did not want to derail his current plans with “Dokken”. Of course things could not just go smoothly and it turned out that another band had a prior trademark claim to the name “Tooth and Nail”, so they took the simple expediency of shortening the name to “T & N”.  I don’t like the name at all, but it is what it is. OK, I won’t mention that I don’t like the name again, OK?

Finally I can move on and talk about the music. So, with this album we get a split of five Dokken covers/re-dos, and seven new tracks. Despite the announced line-up, confusingly Mick Brown only plays drums on the Dokken covers, with Brian Tichy playing on all seven originals. At this point, and with no obvious or simple explanation in anything I have seen or read, I don’t know why. For the new material we get Jeff Pilson on lead vocals and I think he does a fine job. The title track has a catchy hook, that, after a few plays, becomes lodged in your head and, at least for me, seems to draw me to crank the volume.

On the re-do tracks of the five, we get four ‘guest’ vocalists which mixes things up nicely. The first track we meet is “Tooth and Nail” with Doug Pinnick from King’s X giving it a bit more edge than the original, and I must say the guitar solo George delivers is a monster. Next up is “It’s Not Love”, sung by current Warrant singer Robert Mason (also previously of Lynch Mob) and he gives it a new edge, though it’s pretty faithful to the original overall. Jeff Pilson handles the vocal on “Into the Fire” and I’d say this is pretty much a straight rendition, although they have added a new bridge section which pulls the energy down and adds a nice dynamic to the track. “Alone Again” is sung by Sebastian Back, who I must admit isn’t particularly one of my favorites (tending to come across as trying just too damn hard much of the time), but here he does a fine job. Given this is a pretty laid back track, it wasn’t obvious to me this would be the best fit, but Bach gives it a nice edge, while letting the melody do it’s work through the chorus. Well played sir! Finally, the last of the re-dos is “Kiss Of Death” with Tim “Ripper” Owens (formerly of Judas Priest and Iced Earth) and he tears into this with venom. To my ears he gives this track a Ronnie James Dio type feel and on hearing this it would have been a perfect track for Dio. Well that isn’t going to happen now is it… Owens here does a perfect job. This might be my favorite of the repeats.

George Lynch has matured a lot as a guitarist over the years and now uses a lot more texture in his guitar sounds compared to the super-overdrive of the classic Dokken days, and despite the old ESP guitars still making an appearance, you are just as likely to see George with a Telecaster in his hands these days. With T & N things are a little closer in sound and tone of the old Dokken days, at least to my ears, compared say to the recent Lynch Mob “Sound Mountain Sessions” which has less overdrive and more ‘blues’ in his playing. It is very revealing to play the original Dokken recordings of the five re-dos included here, and you realize very quickly how good those songs were, how good the playing was, but also how damn good George is playing these days. He’s able to add almost another layer to each song. Listen hard and you will catch a lot of subtle licks and kicks that sneak in. For me these songs and solos in particular are almost like gospel, and the idea of messing with them left me with some trepidation initially. Trust me, George hasn’t strayed far from the path, but has done just enough to keep everything fresh and interesting.

Of the new tracks on the record there isn’t really anything I don’t like, and I have already mentioned the title track, but a couple of stand-out tracks for me are “When Eagles Die” and “Mind Control”. Taking the former, “When Eagles Die” opens with an annoyingly catchy acoustic guitar riff, with an equally catchy vocal riff, which then progresses into showcase for the song writing excellence that is T & N. This is a great track to crank up on the car stereo. With “Mind Control” this is a more conventional barnstorming number that I like perhaps more than anything for the cranking bass line from Pilson that drives the whole thing alone.

To close, I will say that it took a few spins to get this record under my skin – initially the re-do tracks seemed to stand-out and poke me in the ears a bit simply because they weren’t the old favorites I was used to, but once I got over the idea change isn’t all bad (sheesh!), the simple enjoyment that is evident in playing these songs again and re-exploring the vocals with alternate singers drew me in and currently this is one of my favorite CDs to spin. Obviously for Dokken and/or George Lynch fans this is a must buy record, but if those are the only people that buy this it would be doing the band an injustice, since this is truly a very good chunk of heavy metal. My score 8.5/10.

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