New Def Leppard album and single (!!!!)

Do the exclamation points give away my excitement?

Def Leppard is one of the best-selling musical acts in the world and one of the most recognizable names in rock music, yet lately they have been taking a back seat to making quality albums. They are best known for their hit albums Pyromania (1983) and Hysteria (1987), which together contained the songs “Photograph,” “Rock of Ages,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” and “Animal,” among many other hit singles. They continued their success with 1992’s Adrenalize and, too a lesser extent, their collective of b-sides called Retro Active in 1993.

The band changed their style of music for Slang in 1996 by stripping down and letting emotions fuel their music. This proved unsuccessful and the band returned to their signature sound in 1999 for Euphoria, which contained a #1 Rock hit with “Promises,” but lacked what the previous albums had. Then the band took a nose dive with 2002’s X and 2008’s Songs From the Sparkle Lounge. These albums were very hit and miss. The good songs were some of their best, but the bad songs were unbearable, and Def Leppard had never written any bad songs before X.

The live album in 2011 had three news songs on it, in which “It’s All About Believin'” was spectacular but the others were mediocre. Then the band focused on touring, creating the longest gap between studio albums. It had started to look like Def Leppard would never release another album.

But now Def Leppard is releasing a self-titled album on October 30 and they just released the lead single called “Let’s Go.” The song is one of the best the band has done since the millennium, which makes the rest of the album very promising.

Finally some good music

2015 is finally starting to give us some good music, but unfortunately it won’t change the stripped down indie rock trend or the too electronic and fake pop music out there. The problem is that most of the good music coming out now days is by bands and artists who have been around for a long time. There aren’t a lot of new artists that are venturing into hard rock.

Already this year Wednesday 13 released his newest album Monsters of the Universe: Come Out and Plague, which while good isn’t up to par with his last two albums. Then Kid Rock and Blackberry Smoke released albums that had promise but really didn’t take off.

Marilyn Manson released his best album in a decade with The Pale Emperor, showing that his best days are not behind him. Then ’80s glam band Trixter released a not-so-great album that included “Rockin’ til the Edge of the Night,” the best song of the year in my opinion.

Now rock albums seem to be coming out daily.

Disturbed

Disturbed released their 6th album last week, which is their best since their debut. The songs “The Vengeful One” and “What Are You Waiting For” are standouts, although a handful of them have found a place among the top rock songs on the iTunes charts for the past month and received radio airplay.

Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi just released a new album that is so embarrassing and rushed that I want to cry. Not really, but the album is terrible. It shouldn’t be a surprise seeing as What About Now in 2013 and The Circle back in 2009, I think, were also under par. The surprise is that there is a gem in the track “I’m Your Man,” which is the most hard rocking song Bon Jovi has released since 2005. Still, it doesn’t make up for the rest of the album.

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden is back with its first album since 2010, which is due out in October. The album’s first single “Speed of Light” is a bit underwhelming for an Iron Maiden lead single, but it still rocks. If the rest of the album is at least as good as this single I’ll probably buy it.

Chris Cornell

I’m a big fan of Soundgarden and I really enjoyed Chris Cornell’s time in Audioslave, but I’ve never enjoyed Chris Cornell’s solo albums as a whole. There are a few songs I’m okay with, but I’ve never purchased a Chris Cornell album. His work in the last few years has been mediocre at best and not up to par with his past work, until now.

His new album, titled Higher Truth, will be released in September. The lead single is perhaps the best Chris Cornell has sounded since Audioslave and it shows him going back to his alt rock style that everyone misses. I bought the song the day it came out and I love hearing it on the radio.

Queensryche

I love Queensryche. Operation: MindCrime and Empire are some of the greatest albums ever made, but Queensryche has struggled to find a consistent style and to regain its lost popularity. I saw them live a few years ago and I was underwhelmed. Their stage presence was boring and Geoff Tate just didn’t have it anymore. This showed on the many albums released throughout the past decade, especially American Soldier and Dedicated to Chaos (although the single “Get Started” from DtC was actually quite good). When the band split with Tate and hired Todd la Torre as vocalist, I was excited. This new guy has some pipes!

Then the album Queensryche was released, and although it wasn’t bad, it was boring. It didn’t have any hit material or standout songs. It showed an improvement, but also that there was still a long way to go. Now the band is back with their album Condition Human, set to be released in October. The song “Arrow of Time” sounds like a song from the band’s 1988 album Operation: Mindcrime, just not as catchy. I’m hopeful that the new album will be better than the last one, and all of the others released from 1999 to 2011.

Collective Soul

I’ve never owned a Collective Soul album or song in my life, but I’ve heard them on the radio over the years. I actually like them, although I didn’t realize that until I heard some of the songs from their new album and then looked up their old ones I had heard on the radio.

Collective Soul’s new album See What You Started By Continuing will be released on October, the same day as the aforementioned Queensryche album. The album’s lead singles are good and show that the band can continue to make good music that doesn’t stray to far from what made them successful.

Def Leppard

We’ve been promised a new Def Leppard album for a few years now, but the band has said multiple times that it will be out sometime this fall. On Aug. 27 vocalist Joe Elliott confirmed that it is finished and will be out before the end of the year to Grand Forks Herald, saying the album will be called simply Def Leppard. If everything the band has been saying is true, the album will be more like ’70s classic rock than Def Leppard, which is fine by me. Elliott sounds great singing Elton John and Mott the Hoople and their Queen-like songs throughout their career have been very haunting.

Band of the week: Van Halen

Van Halen is one of the greatest bands to ever exist. They started out with David Lee Roth on vocals, releasing six amazing hard rock albums from 1978 to 1984. Then the band picked up the red rocker, Sammy Hagar on vocals. With Hagar they released four albums on par with Roth’s work with the band from 1986 – 1995.

Like many Van Halen fans I choose to forget about the Van Halen III album in 1998 and their newest 2012 studio effort with Roth, A Different Kind of Truth. The latter just shows that Diamond Dave isn’t shining so bright anymore.

Still, the band has left a legacy and I chose them as band of the week because I have been on a Van Halen kick. Yesterday I listened to Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, and Diver Down. Today I listened to 1984, 5150, and OU812. I will finish listening to the other Hagar albums tonight. It feels great to own all of these great albums and I hope that if you are not a fan currently that you will give them a listen.

Here are a few of my favorite Van Halen songs:

Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love (1978)

So This is Love (1981)

Finish What Ya Started (1988)

Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do) (1995)

Album review: Three Days Grace, “Human”

I originally wrote and published this article with JagWire newsmagazine on their website and it has been submitted to Best of SNO for possible inclusion on their website. 

– Chase –


Rock group Three Days Grace released their fifth studio album, “Human,” March 31 to stores everywhere and for digital download.

The album is the first with new vocalist Matt Walst following the departure of Adam Gontier in 2014 to pursue a solo career. Matt Walst, who rose to fame as the vocalist of rock band My Darkest Days following the band’s breakthrough album in 2010, is the brother of bassist Brad Walst.

Matt Walst had worked with Three Days Grace before and is credited as a composer on the band’s 2012 album “Transit of Venus.”

The band is known for mainstream rock hits such as “I Hate Everything About You” in 2003, “Animal I Have Become” and “Pain” in 2006 and “Never Too Late” in 2007.

“Human” follows a generic 21st century mainstream rock formula with repetitive lyrics and that somewhat muffled and electronic sound that all modern bands seem to have. The album isn’t exciting like the 20th century work of groups such as Van Halen or Def Leppard, but no one expects it to be either.

The album starts out with its third promotional single, “Human Race.” The beginning of the song sounds like awful electronic pop music for about 40 seconds, but the hard rock guitar riffs and vocals start right after and the electronic sound disappears until later in the song. Matt Walst’s vocals are strong during the verses, but they are a bit underwhelming during the chorus. The guitar solo starts at the last third of the track and it is probably one of the better guitar solos of all of the mainstream rock bands today. The song is definitely a standout for the album.

The album then proceeds to the mainstream rock radio hit “Painkiller,” a fan favorite off of the album. KISW – the Rock of Seattle – seems to play the song every two hours or so and has been doing so since the single dropped in late 2014. The song doesn’t differ too much from other rock hits of the century, but that doesn’t mean its bad. The song is the best one on the album.

“Fallen Angel” is a slower song that seems hit ready, yet has not been released as a single. The song does offer a glimpse at the upper vocal range of Matt Walst and an easy to follow chorus and lyrical structure, but not much else.

“I Am Machine” was the second mainstream rock hit from the album, played about as frequent as “Painkiller” was. The song’s chorus comes off as catchy and odd as it cruises through at multiple points of the song in a crescendo of intensity.

The seventh track on the album, “So What,” is fierce and on the verge of being a rock n roll anthem, which was likely the point. The song’s lyrics are rebellious in nature like all great rock anthems. It is hard to resist the urge to throw both fists in the air as the bend belts out big backing vocals during the chorus that make it a standout on the album.

“Car Crash” is a self explanatory title. The entire album seemed to be heading in the right way until this song came up. It is metaphorical for a love gone bad, but the song really just disappoints, sounding very much like the car crash it mentions.

“One Too Many” is very reminiscent of the type of music Matt Walst made with My Darkest Days: dark and disturbing vocals about love that lead up to powerful choruses. The verses of the song come across like whispers and warnings, low and scratchy.

Overall, the album is surprisingly pleasant. The first half rings true as a rock album while the second half seems to slowly taper off and fade. Vocalist Matt Walst has proven himself to be superior or at least as talented as Gontier on “Human,” as the album is better than “Transit of Venus,” which shows that Three Days Grace can continue to make good music in the future.

A great article 

I was browsing through my Facebook news feed this morning and saw an update from KISW, the rock radio station I usually listen to. They shared an article about a man who used to be in both Nirvana and Soundgarden, turned American hero, then became a college professor. It’s a really great story and one of the best articles I’ve read by the New York Times in a while.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/07/02/magazine/evermans-war.html?referrer=

2015 in rock music

A lot is going on for the rock music genre in 2015. A few great albums have already been released this year, although to not much success on the commercial side of things. The rock music industry seems to have hit an all time low in sales and support, and that may not change this year.

Continue reading “2015 in rock music”

This week in rock music – Vol. 2

Read volume 1 here.

There isn’t much in the world of rock music this week. Tons of albums were released, but none of them are really standouts. They all sound the same and I am dying for something different and possibly more upbeat.

February 28 – March 06, 2015

Chasing Yesterday – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Oasis guitarist and co-vocalist Noel Gallagher released a solo album March 3. The album isn’t bad, but it is extremely boring. I was expecting some ’90s alt rock and instead we have the lifeless form of alt rock that seems to dominate rock music these days.

“In the Heat of the Moment” is a standout track simply because it is less boring than the other tracks. Moving on.

UFO is back 

I’ve never listened to much UFO. I’ve only heard a few of their songs, so I really can’t judge if I like their music or not. Their new album, also released March 3, shows that the band can keep going after all of these years.

There isn’t anything terribly exciting going on here, but the talent is there.

“Ballad of the Left Hand Gun” and “Sugar Cane” are standout tracks, which sound like they are out of the ’70s.

This week in rock music – 1

I like writing about music, so I have decided to start a regular weekly feature called “This week in rock music.” Every week I will release a post about my thoughts on the new rock or metal music of the week, or the lack thereof. This is a great opportunity for me and for you, the reader, to discover new music that often goes unnoticed.


February 20 – February 27

Revolution Saints release their first album

Revolution Saints is a new band, but its members have had far-reaching effects on the music industry. Revolution Saints is Jack Blades on bass and occasional vocals (from Night Ranger, Damn Yankees), Deen Castronovo on drums and lead vocals (from Journey, Bad English, Hardline), and Doug Aldrich on guitar (from Whitesnake, Dio).

If you like Journey, you will like this band. They bring back the pop-oriented arena-rock of the early 1980s in force. The band also has a Night Ranger influence, thanks to the presence and song writing of Blades. Many will see this as a return of the ’80s sound they wished was dead forever, but I think this is just another piece in the struggle for the survival of good music.

Kid Rock – First Kiss

Kid Rock is back and better than ever with his new album. It sounds very Bob Seger, and very country-rock. It is straight-forward music that makes you feel good, and I will probably buy the album so that I can blast it during the summer.

Darlia – Petals

I have never heard of this band before, but I’m really digging the Oasis-sound they have. I actually enjoy Brit-pop and Grunge. They released “Stars Are Aligned” as a single in September, but their album just came out this week.

The best power ballads of all time

I was going to publish this on Valentine’s Day, but I never got around to it. This is my list (in no order) of the greatest power ballads of all time. Power ballads are love songs by rock bands that have been taken to the extreme.


    • “More Than Words” – Extreme
    • “To Be With You” – Mr. Big
    • “Love is on the Way” – Saigon Kick
    • “Why Can’t You Trust Me” – Steel Panther
    • “When Love & Hate Collide” – Def Leppard
    • “Miss You In a Heartbeat” – Def Leppard
    • “Bed of Roses” – Bon Jovi
    • “Wasted Time” – Skid Row
    • “High Enough” – Damn Yankees
    • “I Remember You” – Skid Row
    • “18 and Life” – Skid Row
    • “Without You” – Motley Crue
    • “Forever” – KISS
    • “House of Pain” – Faster Pussycat
    • “Poison” – Alice Cooper
    • “What it Takes” – Aerosmith
    • “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – Aerosmith
    • “Close My Eyes Forever” – Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne
    • “Don’t Close Your Eyes” – Kix
    • “Don’t Know What You Got” – Cinderella
    • “Is This Love” – Whitesnake
    • “You’re All I Need” – Motley Crue
    • “Alone” – Heart
    • “Save Your Love” – Great White
    • “Love Bites” – Def Leppard
    • “Angel” – Aerosmith
    • “I Won’t Forget You” – Poison
    • “Amanda” – Boston
    • “Turn On Your Light” – Judas Priest
    • “Sister Christian” – Night Ranger
  • “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” – Def Leppard
  • “Keep on Loving You” – REO Speedwagon

The best Led Zeppelin albums

Led Zeppelin is one of the most recognized names in music history. The band released hit after hit throughout the 1970s, but broke up in 1980 after the death of drummer John Bonham. The band has influenced countless musicians in the decades since and their songs are still rock radio staples.

Generally, their earlier albums are seen as their greatest work, and their later albums as their worst. At least, almost every ranking of Led Zeppelin albums I’ve seen has been this way. I think that Led Zeppelin had a great run and every album has its star moments.

Here is my ranking of their albums from worst to best, not including their live album, greatest hits, or the album Coda from 1982, which was made up of demos and drafts of unreleased songs.

8.) In Through the Out Door (1978)

This album was the last to be released by Led Zeppelin. I loved this album when I first heard it, but my love for it has slowly drained away. The album does include some of the band’s songs, such as “In the Evening,” “Fool in the Rain,” and “All My Love,” but it doesn’t have much else. The other songs on the album don’t sound like hard rock or like Led Zeppelin at all.

7.) Houses of the Holy (1973)

This album isn’t bad, it’s just very slow. Unlike In Through the Out Door, I can listen to this album without getting a headache or feeling the need to skip a song. The songs are well crafted and show the talent of the band members, but slow music isn’t usually for me.

The album does have some great songs that are very well known, such as “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “Dancing Days,” “D’yer Mak’er,” and “The Ocean.” Additionally, the album artwork is amazing.

6.) Led Zeppelin II (1969)

This album is usually a fan favorite and a favorite of critics. I don’t know why, but I’ve never looked too fondly on the album. It is a great album, but many of the songs are overplayed on the radio or in pop culture, and I guess that I’m burned out on it.

Still, I love the songs “Heartbreaker,” “Living Loving Maid,” and “Ramble On.”

5.) Led Zeppelin I (1969)

I put this album in the same boat as its successor, Led Zeppelin II. This album had an edge over the previous one in my list because it was more upbeat songs that I can sing along to than the other. Plus it includes the amazing “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.”

The songs “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Your Time is Gonna Come,” and “Communication Breakdown” are standouts for me, although most of the other songs are also hits.

4.) Presence (1976)

This album is chosen as the worst Led Zeppelin album 90% of the time. Why? It lacked any real hits and its sales were the lowest of any Led Zeppelin album with three million (other than Coda). The recording of the album was also rushed in just mere weeks and singer Robert Plant had to record vocals while in a wheelchair because of an injury.

The album gets more hate than it deserves. The songs are good, solid rockers that show that even in rough times Led Zeppelin can produce an album.

Songs such as “Achilles Last Stand,” “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” “Hots On For Nowhere,” and “For Your Life” are some of my favorites by the band.

3.) Led Zeppelin III (1970)

I love this album. It is mostly, if not all, acoustic and the songwriting seems to be edgier than Led Zeppelin’s other work. It may be one of their lowest selling albums, but it really is a gem.

My favorites from the album include the hard-rocking hit “Immigrant Song,” the fun “Gallows Pole” and “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” and the majestic “Tangerine,” which may be the greatest Led Zeppelin song ever recorded.

2.) Physical Graffiti (1975)

Not only is this double album the longest of Led Zeppelin’s career, but its one of the best albums of all time. There is so much good and so little bad.

The songs “Custard Pie,” “The Rover,” “Houses of the Holy,” “Trampled Under Foot,” “Kashmir,” “The Wanton Song,” and “Black Country Woman” are some of the best in their catalog.

1.) IV (1971)

Did anyone think that I would choose a different album for number one?

This album is the pinnacle of Led Zeppelin’s career. It sold 23 million copies just in the United States and almost every song is still played on rock radio today.

Who can resist the hard rockers “Rock & Roll,” “The Battle of Evermore,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” and “When the Levee Breaks”?

And what about the super-famous “Stairway to Heaven”? This album is like a spiritual/religious experience…without the religion.


What do you think of my list? What are your favorite Led Zeppelin albums?