Album Of The Week – May 30, 2022

I’ve been at this blog about nearly 10 months now, something like that. I’ve done an album of the week almost every week, besides a few that I took off. While I’ve covered a wealth of stuff, from classic rock, hair metal, Britrock, death metal and points elsewhere, each album I’ve covered so far has a common thread – I like the albums. Every single one is an album I’ve played and enjoyed to at least some degree.

Today that changes. For the first time in my album of the week history, I will discuss a record that I honestly almost can’t stand the existence of. It has a few (very few) redeeming qualities, which generates enough interest for me to give it the AOTW treatment. It is a record that is infamous for being bad among the group’s fanbase, though like anything it does have its supporters. I’m not one of them.

Motley Crue – Theatre Of Pain

Released June 21, 1985 via Elektra Records

My Favorite Tracks – Home Sweet Home, Louder Than Hell

This isn’t a case of “well, everyone else hates this album so I will too.” It’s also not a case of “everyone hates this album so I’ll be contrarian and proclaim my love for it.” I never was able to get into this record and I’m not sure if I’ve played the whole thing through 10 or more times in all my decades of listening to the band. I’ve played the other 80’s Crue albums thousands of times each. I just don’t really like this one. The production is crap and most of the songs aren’t worth the time.

But there are a few worthy tunes here so I’ll have a go at running through them.

City Boy Blues

A decent but pretty uninspired album opener. It doesn’t set a great tone to start things off.

Smokin’ In The Boys Room

Here we have what became a massive hit for the group – a cover of a 1970’s Brownsville Station song that the Crue did up their way, made a funny video for, and laughed all the way to the bank. The song is performed well and is a highlight on the album. It’s also one of those that was overplayed to death in its era and I don’t seek out to hear on that basis. It’s something I liked but wasn’t looking to hear five times a day for a year straight.

Louder Than Hell

Up next we find a bit of civilization, it’s a proper Motley Crue song. It sounds like a leftover track from Shout At The Devil and in fact it is. The song works great despite the lame ass production. It would sound even better if someone turned the knobs more competently.

Keep Your Eye On The Money

This song is ok, it’s a cut above other things on the album but is still a bit down overall. Seems like the band was flailing a bit for ideas during recording.

Home Sweet Home

It’s new territory for Motley Crue – a proper ballad. Rather than go the sappy love route, the group composed this sweet yet somber tune. It was a drastic shift for a group that went balls out in the metal end of the pool for their first two records.

And it works magnificently. It’s easily the best ballad the group ever did and it’s the standout of this album. It sounded even better outside of the shoddy production of the album – both in the single cut that was sent to radio and the 1991 remix. But the band got the job done here and did so in grand fashion.

This would’ve been a decent EP if it ended here…

Tonight (We Need A Lover)

Mick Mars is really good on this. That’s about all I can find to say about it. The song does decently enough until after Mick’s solo where it goes into some bad territory for a moment.

Use It Or Lose It

A nice riff here but that’s about it, besides that the song is just fluff. It’s an ok rock tune but it’s also a few minutes of nothing.

Save Our Souls

Suitably heavy in the verses but the chorus is too much. Save my soul from the second side of this tepid album.

Raise Your Hands To Rock

Well, I raised my hands, where’s the rock? This is total fifth-rate hair metal filler. It also doesn’t even sound like a finished song, like they just threw some shit down and said “we’re good.”

Fight For Your Rights

Sure, I guess? A solid sentiment but there’s nothing going on with the song. A real dud of a closer on a second side that doesn’t have much of anything going on.

Theatre Of Pain would be a success for the Crue. It sold four million copies and its singles got significant airplay. It shifted the tone of music from a headbanging riot to a rock approach, something that would play out in force as the 1980’s wore on. The band morphed their own image from leather rebels to glam dolls to suit the style, something that became a calling card for the hair metal scene as image overtook musical substance in importance.

For me I found a few awesome songs, a couple that were ok and then a bunch of filler. Many of the tracks here just don’t have anything to them beyond some good guitar work. Again, this was not an album I played much at all. I’d get my Home Sweet Home fix from the Decade of Decadence compilation in 1991, and Louder Than Hell could be added to a mix tape or burned CD, then later digital playlists. My vinyl copy of this album is in pristine condition, played one time. I didn’t seek it out, either – it came in a box set.

Some might say it’s hard to argue with success, and Motley Crue did commercially well on the record and also shifted the music landscape. But that doesn’t make this a good album. It’s so uninspired that I don’t feel like bothering with the umlauts in the band’s name. The scene from The Dirt movie where Vince Neil tells Doc McGhee that the album sucks is spot on.

S-Tier Songs, Vol. 10

Time again for another edition of S-Tier songs. I’m now into double digits finally, as I wasn’t going as hard on these as I intended to earlier in the life of the blog. But we’re full steam ahead now and ready to induct another worthy song into my “hall of fame.” For more about S-Tier songs and the previous inductees, head here.

Today it’s finally time to touch greatness. It’s a famous cut from one of the best debut albums ever recorded and from rock music’s most important and influential bands. The song is heavy, thunderous, totally absurd and completely amazing.

Van Halen – Runnin’ With The Devil

Our song today is the opening track from the self-titled debut that would set the music world on fire and reinvent rock for a new decade. Van Halen would conquer stage and charts for a very long time and they did not dawdle around on their first album.

Runnin’ With The Devil opens the illustrious Van Halen career with a slower-paced affair that riffs along and pounds its message home through one of music’s tightest rhythm sections and the signature vocals of one David Lee Roth. It is a party song and headbanger rolled into one and it truly gets the party started on one of rock’s ultimate albums.

Everything that would come to define Van Halen is present on Runnin’ With The Devil. Of course there is Eddie Van Halen, six-string extraordinaire and on the Mount Rushmore of guitar. Eddie keeps most of his work to rhythm here, noodling around a bit during the verses then slamming home the point on the chorus. Of course the song features an EVH solo, what Van Halen song doesn’t? It is the first official notes of the guy widely considered to be (at least) the next most-important player to Jimi Hendrix.

But the band Van Halen was never just about Eddie, even if discussions about EVH could last from now until the end of humanity without treading worn ground. Another signpost of the Van Halen sound was the interplay between bassist Michael Anthony and drummer Alex Van Halen. Alex brought the pain to the drums, completely evident on this track. And Michael Anthony pinned down the rhythm with the bass.

Of course, on Runnin’ With The Devil, the bass part doesn’t get any simpler. You could take a person who has never played an instrument and have them playing this part of the song in 15 minutes, no problem. But that isn’t the point. When Michael’s bass gets going with Alex’s drums and also Eddie’s rhythm playing, it generates this fucking unreal heaviness and drive that bands have been trying and largely failing to replicate ever since. It is present on many Van Halen works over the years, yes even the Sammy Hagar records, but is in abundance on our song today.

And all of that, a trademark of Van Halen’s rock dominance for nearly two decades, takes a back seat to the star of this tune. It is David Lee Roth who sings and scats his way to an all-time classic performance. The verses go by without anything to get carried away by, but then the band takes up the chorus proper while Dave lets loose on whatever the hell he feels like doing. On the first chorus he adds his own thing in his soaring voice. On the second chorus he goes to another planet and pulls out a rant that has nothing to do with anything but just fits the song perfectly. His diatribe has led to circulation of the isolated vocal track for the song and it lives on in rock fame and infamy.

And Dave fills the song with various shrieks in whatever places he feels they should go. It’s something not just any singer could do, but Dave just fooled around in the studio and threw them in wherever he pleased. It’s one of several points of comparison between DLR and Michael Jackson, who was a huge fan of Van Halen and Roth. People the world over sought to play guitar like Eddie Van Halen with varying degrees of success, but there isn’t a long list of singers who could touch what David Lee Roth was doing in his prime. It took no less than the King of Pop to perform on par to Roth.

And as with any song, the words have their meaning. Well, except this one. No one really knows what the hell Roth is singing about and no one really cares. It might be about choosing to live that nomadic lifestyle as a rock star out on the road all the time as opposed to choosing a “stable” at-home life, but who knows? I don’t.

Why is this an S-Tier Song?

Runnin’ With The Devil is an assembly of talent and performance without peer, both in 1978 and even to this day. It lays the groundwork for a decades-long sound executed by the brothers Van Halen and Michael Anthony. And it features the nonsensical, over the top yet fantastic vocal stylings of David Lee Roth. It is one of many songs from the group that would go on to inform and influence the Los Angeles rock scene into the early 1980’s and define the music for the decade. Van Halen would cause the world to rock out with them, but the group stood alone in terms of talent and execution.

Upcoming New Releases – The Heat Is On

We’re getting to the end of the school year and into summer around here. In terms of new music it seems like acts are hitting the road in droves and the interesting upcoming albums list is maybe dwindling a bit. But there are still some new albums queued up for release so I’ll have a look at some lead singles from upcoming albums. Not a ton this time but some compelling stuff.

Behemoth – Ov My Herculean Exile

Leading off with the Polish extreme metal stalwarts Behemoth, whose new album Opvs Contra Natvram arrives September 16. The provided video is pretty intense fare, though nothing unusual for Behemoth. It’s a bit of a mini horror movie.

The song is interesting but not particularly dynamic in terms of Behemoth. The group have been one of extreme metal’s bigger draws for several years now. In that time band leader Nergal has dealt with various controversies, including being charged with blasphemy by the Polish government multiple times. He has also muddied his own puddle a time or two, like when he invented a story about being thrown out of a gym for wearing a Darkthrone shirt for reasons unclear to anyone beyond him.

The new album is inspired by Nergal’s hatred of social media and “cancel culture,” a statement that hasn’t been playing well on social media. Will a pointed outlook and a less-than-stellar album see Behemoth’s time at top come to an end, or will the album proper offer up enough to keep the group afloat? Guess we’ll see this fall.

The Chats – 6L GTR

Australia’s punk sensations are back with a new album, Get Fucked, out August 19. The band has just wrapped up a US tour, getting out post-pandemic a few years after their 2017 viral smash hit Smoko took over the Internet.

The new song is really good and pretty much just what you’d expect from The Chats. I will certainly line up to get fucked this coming August.

Grave Digger – Hell Is My Purgatory

The venerable German institution is back with their 21st (!) studio album Symbol Of Eternity, out August 26. The band sound in fine form here after all these years, not that anything has been stopping them anyway. Grave Digger often do theme-based albums and appear to be on a Knights Templar kick here. I’m sure the new record will be a fine addition to their stupidly huge discography.

Iconic – Fast As You Can

Hey everyone, it’s another Frontiers Records throw-together group. Michael Sweet is in this one, along with Tommy Aldridge and some other folks from around the rock universe. The music is fine but of course there is a fair bit of Frontiers fatigue these days. Will this project stand out from the mountain of others? Second Skin is out just around the corner on June 17.

Municipal Waste – High Speed Steel

It’s been quite some time now since Municipal Waste helped put thrash metal back on the map and they have returned for another round with Electrified Brain out on July 1. It’s business as usual for the group and sounds like another must-have record on release. Usually these retro metal waves come and go, but this thrash one has been around for eons now and shows no signs of going away.

Chat Pile – Slaughterhouse

No you’re not seeing double – Chat Pile is distinct from The Chats. This group is an Oklahoma-based noise rock outfit that put out a few EP’s and are now prepping their full-length debut album for release. God’s Country will be released July 29. It is dark, noisy and fucked up, which is often just how I like it. It sounds like the world looks right now, which isn’t good for the world but is great for Chat Pile.

Lorna Shore – Sun//Eater

The main event is here and is the first track from the most hotly-anticipated extreme metal release of 2022. Last year Lorna Shore took over the internet with their three-song EP And I Return To Nothingness on the strength of To The Hellfire, which wound up with my 2021 Song Of The Year Award. Now the deathcore collective has the unenviable task of following that up with a full-length. That comes in the form of Pain Remains, which will see release this October.

While To The Hellfire generated unseen amounts of hype, it also set a bar very, very high for whatever comes next. Sun//Eater delivers the symphonic, “blackened” deathcore that Lorna Shore showcased on last year’s EP. It’s a fine addition that showcases vocalist Will Ramos and the band’s dynamics without resting on the laurels of …Hellfire. Time will render verdict on the new record but the hype train for Lorna Shore is chugging along now with the full-length on the horizon.

That does it for this month’s edition of upcoming releases. Conspicuous by its absence is any new Megadeth material even though the new album has been ready “any day now” for like three years and is supposed to be out in July. It feels like Ben Stein’s iconic scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where I’m standing in the front of class calling out “Mustaine? Mustaine?” over and over again when I type these. Maybe next month…

Album Of The Week – May 23, 2022

With this week’s album pick it’s time to go country. It’s the second album from a third-generation star who would begin sowing the seeds of rebellion against the Nashville establishment (especially his own record label) and those taken aback at someone going his own way as opposed to living in the shadow of his father’s and grandfather’s legacies.

Hank Williams III – Lovesick, Broke And Driftin’

Released January 29, 2002 via Curb Records

My Favorite Tracks – Cecil Brown, Mississippi Mud, One Horse Town

It took three years for Hank III to see the release of his second album. His debut Rising Outlaw was marred by Hank’s unhappiness with a sterile country sound and being largely a covers album. His second effort was recorded in a few weeks at home and is all original compositions save for the last track. This would be an album Hank could be proud of and tour behind, unlike his debut which he talked down in the music press.

The atmosphere found on this album does not invoke the kind of “country” found in a warehouse-sized bar on the suburb outskirts that plays more dance music than country. This is the backwoods, dirt road kind of country where the only civilization to be found is a shady dive bar or a nondescript liquor store. There are 13 tracks to get through on this album so let’s have at it.

7 Months, 39 Days

We begin with a bit of a trucker’s song, though this trucker booked an extended stay at the county sheriff’s hotel. It’s a fun song that sees the subject at the end of his lockup and hitting the highway to get the hell out of dodge. The upbeat tempo is slowed down at the end to give a bit of atmosphere to the number.

Broke, Lovesick And Driftin’

This song settles into a more slow and somber feel, something in abundance on this record. It’s an ode to the lonely lifestyle of a honkytonk drifter, playing tunes from town to town and not having a stable, anchored home life. While a lament, the tune doesn’t do anything to discourage said lifestyle.

Cecil Brown

This melancholy tune was written about someone Hank knew growing up in southwest Missouri (about 100 miles from where I live currently). It’s a haunting account of someone who didn’t fit in where he was and the alienation and abandonment just flow forth from the mournful song.

And I do definitely “feel” this song to a degree. I also grew up in a small Missouri town where I didn’t fit in much at all. I won’t say my childhood was bad by any stretch, but there was a lot of alienation and ultimately getting the hell out of there to find a sense of self somewhere else. It’s a song I truly do identify with.

Lovin’ And Huggin’

The tempo is back up for this fun and brief number about being in and out of love. The song is as simple as it gets but is also very fun and expertly placed in album sequence to cut the weight of the prior track.

One Horse Town

This is an old-time country tune that plods through life being down and out in nowhere. It’s the kind of song that people who don’t listen to country think country is. Even with the cliched feel the song evokes its atmosphere very well and handles traditional country expertly. It keeps things upbeat despite the low down struggle.

Mississippi Mud

This song is cited by many as their favorite from the album, it is the consensus pick for the star of the show. It’s another fun number that stays out of the city and finds fun out on the backroads. Nothing like partying out away from it all.

Whiskey, Weed And Women

Another lament about life lost to the 3 W’s, as it were. The song certainly captures that old-time feel, though it does go all-in on the country cliches. Maybe not the strongest effort around but it does flow with the rest of the album pretty well.


The pace picks up big time here for Hank’s first open shot fired at Nashville’s establishment. For its time the song was quite the talking point to hear someone from the Williams family and a Curb Records employee going at the establishment like this. But Trashville was just a warm-up, and a few years later Hank would release a track that makes this sound downright pedestrian by comparison.

Walkin’ With Sorrow

Yet again Hank is drinking his way through loneliness and sorrow. This time he offers up a bit of yodeling to the old-time dirge, something in line with his legendary grandfather.

5 Shots Of Whiskey

Again here we are with the alcohol and loneliness. This song does feel a bit more fleshed out than the other laments that really just string a few phrases together and rely on the music to carry the tunes. There is a story to these lyrics and a reason for the depression.

Nighttime Ramblin’ Man

Turn it up to 11 for this one, this is a total barn-burner. It’s an ode to partying and raising hell and is also a sign of things to come from Hank III. While the title borrows in part from a Hank Sr song, III makes this all his own and puts his own signature on the line. Rising Outlaw may have been the name of III’s first album but this song is where the outlaw truly rises.

Callin’ Your Name

One more down in the dumps tune, this time Hank is calling out to the Lord for help and mercy. The lyrical tone is slightly different but the song doesn’t really set itself apart from the sundry other sad songs on the album.

Atlantic City

The only song not written by Hank III on the album, this Bruce Springsteen cover was previously recorded for a Springsteen tribute album and was appended to this record by the label. The cover is well done, ramping up the country feel of Springsteen’s country-adjacent effort. Note that this song isn’t available on streaming. Some versions of the album have a bit of a “hidden” song on the same track as Atlantic City, with a radio DJ announcement and another performance of Walkin’ With Sorrow.

Lovesick, Broke And Driftin’ would mark what Hank III felt was his true debut album. Almost entirely composed by him, he bucked Nashville trends and his record label’s direction to cut the album he wanted to make. He had reluctantly began a music career in country due to a legal order to come up with money, so now he was able to begin functioning on his own terms.

And yes, while the album has several highlights, some of it does get a bit derivative. Many of the slower, sad songs are really pedestrian and don’t offer a ton in the way of dynamic songwriting or structure. There still is something to them, perhaps a bit of a callback to Hank Sr. and his way with pulling at the heartstrings. The songs do work but after an album’s worth they kind of run together a bit.

For Hank III this album was really the beginning. He would wind up in court with Curb Records over his contract and desire for creative control and his next album four years later would truly cement him as his own performer and forge an insurgent outlaw country scene that would shift music’s landscape. But this album showed that Hank III knew where the music he was making came from. He would absolutely blaze his own trail and get far out of the long shadow cast by his family name, but he still knew his way around country music. With drink in hand and sorrow in heart, the party was just getting started.

The Song Remains The Same – Breaking The Silence

I’m gonna start a new series today. This is one that has been on my mind for quite some time but I just never got around to fiddling with it. The time is now, I suppose.

The premise is simple – in music, there are a lot of different artists and bands. Many of those artists record songs with the same title, though the songs themselves can be radically different. The goal here is to have a look at some of these songs and see which one I’m into the most (if at all). It will also introduce songs from genres I don’t typically listen to (not today, but in the future). Note that this is NOT about cover songs, these are all original artist recordings going up against each other.

This is really meant for fun more than anything – there are more piles of different songs with the same name than I can practically get to in my life time. Ones like today are pretty easy, while stuff like “I Want You” or “I’ll Be There For You” could have books written about them.

To get this series kicked off I’m going with one that sees four different artists having the same song title. All of the bands are in the general category of metal, though they take on different forms. Three are groups I at least appreciate, if not enjoy and one is a group I haven’t listened to in almost 20 years and wasn’t chomping at the bit to hear again now. But a project is a project so press on I must.

A perpetual disclaimer for this series – this should not be taken as a complete list of songs with the same name. I’m using the first few websites I find in Google for my “research” on this and this isn’t a scholarly exercise. Feel free to mention anything missed on these if you know of one or more that got missed.

Today’s inaugural Song Remains The Same, uh, song? Breaking The Silence

I have found four different recordings of a song called Breaking The Silence. Two are from bands I am familiar but not well acquainted with, one is from a group I am vastly familiar with, and one is from a band I never fell over myself to know in any capacity. Let’s have at it.

Breaking Benjamin

This group is a 2000’s alt-metal outfit from the US. I’m sure they are pretty well known, they were all over early 2000’s radio and I saw their name around a lot. They aren’t a group I’ve ever sought out to listen to and, save for this exercise, I doubt I ever will. Let’s see what we get here. The song comes from their 2015 album Dark Before Dawn.

The song is generally pretty good. Pretty decent clean passages, I’m not personally into the “rappy” bits but they don’t ruin anything. It isn’t my thing but I’ll give credit where credit is due and say that I think it’s alright.


This group is one I’m familiar with. I’ve heard their stuff before but I’ve never owned it or been heavily invested in it. The group is from Greece and is helmed by guitarist Gus G, the same guy who did a stint with Ozzy Osbourne. The cut is from their 2006 album Allegiance and the song was released as a single in Greece in 2007.

The song is fine. It’s in a style of power metal that isn’t entirely for me but I can appreciate what they’re doing. I suppose it’s indicative of why I never got into the band in the first place. But they definitely know how to play and to put a song together.


This is a Swedish hard rock group that probably needs no introduction across most of my readership. Their take on Breaking The Silence comes from their 2012 album Address The Nation, which was the first to feature vocalist Erik Gronwall. Of course, Grownall has now gone on to helm Skid Row. I’m personally not overly familiar with them and have only heard them in bits and pieces.

This is really good. I like what I’m hearing here. Just a very nice rock anthem. This is clearly a band I’m going to have to give more attention to, I have been missing out.

And if this whole thing ended here, we’d have a clear winner. As it is, the boys will have to settle for silver today.


Let’s be real – this was never a contest. Also, is this a good time to mention that Operation: Mindcrime is my favorite album of all time?

Even though this could be taken as a set-up, I don’t think there was any real chance the other contenders were going to topple Queensryche here. It’s the Seattle outfit at the height of their creativity in the late 80’s and a well-known cut from their acclaimed masterpiece. They just nailed everything on this album, including this track that sees the story’s protagonist out in the wind after the death of his lady friend. Perfectly executed, perfectly produced, it’s all there.

And that does it for the first installment of The Song Remains The Same. This one was in the can from the moment I decided to do it (and it wasn’t actually where this was supposed to begin, a story for another time). In the future I’ll try to provide a bit more suspense to the results but there was no messing around with a cut from my favorite album ever.

A Story And A Song – Merci

This story has to do with buying music in a strange land, far away from home. For the song I’ll choose one from one of the two albums I bought that day – Pantera’s The Great Southern Trendkill was one of my pickups at a mall in France at some point in 1996.

War Nerve was one of the album’s signature songs. Like much of the record it is harsh, abrasive and even more heavy and savage than anything from their 1994 offering Far Beyond Driven, which was (and likely still is) the heaviest album in history to hit number one on the Billboard charts. …Trendkill would hit number four on the same charts and also slot in during Pantera’s time at the top of the metal heap in the mid-1990’s.

War Nerve is a song that sees frontman Phil Anselmo lashing out at how the media portrays him. While he had some room for argument there, he has also historically given the media more than enough material to work with. Whatever the circumstances, the song is a savage onslaught and is one of my favorite tracks from the album.

Now for the story. As I said, I was in France at some point in 1996. I honestly don’t remember which city we were even in – I am over 90% certain it was Marseilles but it possibly was Cannes. This is when I was in the US Navy and was in Europe for most of the late 90’s. Memories are a bit fuzzy after all these years but we were definitely in France and one of the cities on the Riviera, that much is certain.

A handful of us music die-hards went to the shopping mall to hunt for albums. Of course CDs were the format of the day and also a very easy to use format when living on a Navy ship. And the mall wasn’t much different from an American mall – maybe a bit less garish and more along the lines of a sterile department store, but it had a bunch of stores selling a bunch of shit so there we go.

I was in the mall and found a few CDs I wanted. I went to check out at the register. A quite lovely woman was behind the register and she rang up my purchase. She told me the total in French, a language I don’t speak. Thankfully the register was like one over here that displays the total so I could read how much money I was supposed to hand her. This was a few years before the Euro became the currency of the continent so I was using francs and wasn’t radically familiar with how many francs a dollar was worth and all of that.

I gave her the money and she handed me my change, then in the snottiest, rudest voice possible told me “merci.” And the look on her face matched the utter contempt in her voice. This woman did everything in her power to murder me with her eyes and her voice. I quickly gathered my CDs and got the hell out of there.

I obviously have no actual explanation for her attack upon my person. Most likely she was offended that I did not speak French. It was (and I guess still is, I don’t know) a thing that many French people were not into Americans who couldn’t communicate over there. It has always been my assumption about the episode. Maybe she was just having a bad day, but she seemed pleasant enough when I first got to the counter. Or maybe she found Pantera distasteful, I don’t know.

I find it a little odd, since it was probably common news that several hundred Americans were running around the city. I wasn’t even the only US Navy person there at the time I was in the store, and I know for sure that other non-French speaking US sailors went to the same store. Maybe she just got fed up with communication barriers and I was the one she took it out on, I don’t know.

And I don’t mean to type this as some customer service complaint from 26 years ago or anything. I’m just filling space in a post and recalling an amusing story from buying music overseas. It was more funny than anything and I hope the woman had a better day after I left her death gaze. I got my CDs in the end and all was well for me.

That’s essentially the story, nothing more to note. No one else that I talked to on the ship had any kind of run-in at that store, though many more seasoned vets did recount similar incidents with the French in their travels.

I guess there is one other bit of information – what is the other CD I bought? Like how The Great Southern Trendkill was a new release at the time, so was the Scorpions’ Pure Instinct. And anyone who has heard that album can easily figure out why I chose to feature Pantera.

Spinal Tap Two

A short post today but one to confirm some very welcome news that came down the pipe last week. I had just discussed Spinal Tap a few weeks prior – I dug into the music as part of the Album Of The Week and I gave a post to the immortal film.

Last Thursday some earth shaking Spinal Tap news came out – Rob Reiner has confirmed that a second Spinal Tap film is in the works. This is a proper sequel to the 1984 film, in contrast to the 1992 offering that was mostly a live show. Spinal Tap II (or whatever it will be called) is intended for release in March 2024, which will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the original film.

This is very happy news, of course. Fans have clamored for a sequel ever since the original gained its cult-like following decades ago. The principal actors refused, saying they would only do it when they felt they had a good premise and the time was right. Apparently they found their premise and here we are, a shade under two years away from a Spinal Tap sequel.

Reiner has given some details about the film’s plot – the band, having been splintered apart for years, reconnects with Marty DiBergi after being unhappy about the documentary he filmed years ago. The band are on the hook for one more gig – in their contract with manager Ian Faith there remains one legally binding performance. Ian has passed on but his widow is calling in her owed performance, so the group must reunite for one more show.

It sounds like the troupe have a solid idea for a film that should tick many of the same boxes as the original. The cynical cash grab reunions of many legacy acts has been a long-running joke in the music world for a long time now, and it’s perfect fodder for Spinal Tap’s deadpan delivery.

I’ve notice a fair bit of negativity towards the announcement, but that’s not something I’ll really bother with. The cure for cancer would be shouted down online these days. I see no reason why a new Spinal Tap movie can’t work. It might not be the masterpiece the first one was but with the key players still involved there’s no reason it can’t be good.

We have a ways to go before this movie hits in March 2024. Hopefully society doesn’t collapse before then, it is a real possibility. But it’s great news that we’ll get to visit this glorious movie and band one more time and I have every hope for another killer masterpiece.

And one more thing – hopefully the reunion gig is booked in Cleveland.

Album Of The Week – May 16, 2022

This week’s album comes from 1993 and when extreme metal looked like it might be poised to be big business. This album marked a stylistic departure for one of Sweden’s pioneering death metal acts and also served as an ill-fated marketing ploy on the part of an opportunistic record label.

The unedited, original version of the album

Emtombed – Wolverine Blues

Released October 4, 1993 via Earache/Columbia Records

My Favorite Tracks – Contempt, Full Of Hell, Demon

Entombed were one of the original Stockholm wave of Swedish death metal luminaries, along with Grave and Dismember, who used headache-inducing guitar tones to accent their brutal approaches to extreme music. The band’s first two albums Left Hand Path and Clandestine are hailed as essential building blocks of the death metal genre. The magic of downtuning and the Boss HM-2 pedal were on full display in Sweden’s death metal scene.

In 1993 Entombed threw a curveball with their third effort. Wolverine Blues, while still savage and rancid-sounding as ever, was not standard death metal issue. Instead the band were playing fast and loose with their sound and incorporated a fair bit of rock and groove into their formula. They would be chief among several in starting the subgenre of “death n’ roll.”

There is a lot to talk about here, both the implications of stylistic change and a major media tie-in offer quite a bit to discuss. But for now I’ll get through the 10 tracks that run a lean 35 minutes, then I’ll jump into those other issues.


The opener sets the tone with sick riffing and a lot of hoarse singing going on about “I’ll do me and you do you” kind of stuff. A bit of philosophy sprinkled in with our death metal, I’m cool with that.

Rotten Soil

A very gnarly, nasty tune that exemplifies how scuzzy and scummy death n’ roll can be. The lyrics are a bit of an incomprehensible mess but apparently walking on rotten soil will cause your blood to boil, and even better, blood will be pissing down your spine. Pretty good shit there.

Wolverine Blues

The title track lives up to its animal namesake’s ferocity. The wolverine is some kind of mutant badger/bear thing that is just utterly destructive. It is towards the top on a list of animals you don’t want to run into and Entombed capture the ferocity of the animal very well in song form.

This is also the link to the coming media tie-in I’ll be discussing later.


A very tight, well-done tune that invites demonic possession. Not something for church but a highlight from the album, which as a whole is also something not for church.


This blistering song takes aim at society, or “civiliezation” as the lyrics spell it. While heavy metal and misanthropy have long been dance partners to the point of it getting boring, Entombed bring the fire on Contempt. The low-tuned, sloppy music fits like a glove but is almost secondary to some of the lyrics L.G. Petrov is belching out here. The line “No matter how low you are, there’s always someone to look down upon” is one I find in my head a lot these days as society seems desperate to tear itself apart. This is the star of the show.

Full Of Hell

Not to be outdone, this song also shines with its descent into willful madness and chaos. The lyrics flow right along with the disgusting riff and it’s a full-speed bullet train straight into insanity. It’s a death-groove stomp through just going nuts and it works splendidly.

Blood Song

We’re out of the peak of the album now and into a bit of a valley. As the title might suggest, we are cosplaying as vampires here. The marriage of death n’ roll and vampirism doesn’t quite pan out. The song is sufficiently heavy but the theme doesn’t quite land. It sounds like Petrov is just fucking off as he delivers the lines, which include gems like “I fuck your blood.” It’s probably a good thing that Entombed’s media tie-in wasn’t with Interview With A Vampire.


Off now to the song chosen as the album’s single. Hollowman was released as an EP, which for an album the length of Wolverine Blues is like half the album. The song is a bit abstract in its lyrical fare but does post the equally profound and dumb question “Who examines the doctors?” I think doctors do but I’m not entirely sure. At any rate it’s another worthy track and a good pick-me-up after whatever the hell happened before it.

Heavens Die

The song is monstrously heavy and a nice addition to the record. I have no clue what’s going on in the lyrics, this is some masters-degree level philosophy shit here. It’s beyond me.

Out Of Hand

We close the record on a song that leaves no lingering philosophical questions – everything is fucked and fuck it all. Even on an album full of nasty, intense songs, this one kicks the dial up a notch further and bookends the album in properly brutal fashion.

Wolverine Blues was a curveball album from Entombed. Just as death metal was making international noise and gaining in popularity in 1993, one of its formative bands changed gears and threw out a death n’ roll platter instead of staying on the death metal train. The album did alienate a fair portion of fans, to this day many swear off the record.

The album does have its fans, myself included. There’s just something about the nasty, unhinged approach to it that makes everything work. Death n’ roll would not spring up as much of a subgenre though a few other bands took a stab at it. It would mainly become the music that Entombed was known for. They would continue on a similar course for years afterward with the band eventually splintering and leaving only vocalist L.G. Petrov, who for legal reasons had to change the group’s name to Entombed A.D. Petrov would succumb to cancer in 2021.

For all the talk of the album, there is also a discussion to be had involving the record label and their decision to force a corporate tie-in on the band and record. Against the wished of Entombed, the label Earache Records got a hold of Marvel Comics and produced a variant cover to the album featuring the mutant comic character bearing the same name as the album. A mini-comic was included in the CD’s booklet.

The Marvel version

It was an attempt at marketing to a wider audience and it wasn’t a really good one. There was no real connection between the Wolverine of the comics and the song or album. Comics were a bloated mess by this point in the 90’s and were destined for a huge crash, and any link between comic books and death metal is minimal at best. The album was also edited in order to avoid issues with the tie-in that would obviously appeal to younger audiences – instances of the f-word in multiple songs were cut out, and the track Out Of Hand was cut completely.

It’s also worth noting the presence of Columbia Records on the label spine – this album was part of an ill-fated pact between Earache and Columbia to capitalize on interest in death metal in the early 90’s. Nothing really came of the merger and it ended without doing much good for any of the bands. If anything, dumb tie-in ideas like this were all that the partnership brought. Carcass did get paid for an album twice because of the dissolution of the arrangement, but that is another story for another time.

The Wolverine and Entombed mash-up did not bear much fruit – the band remained underground and hordes of comic nerds did not seek out the album or become death metal converts due to the tie-in. There are probably a few instances of that happening but those are few and far between I would imagine.

But at the end of the day the Marvel crossover is just a footnote in the story of Wolverine Blues. The true story is that a band changed course and provided an out-of-left-field sound that turned off some but captivated others. Metal’s underground was all over the place at this point in the early 90’s and Entombed was still able to bring something unique to the table. Even with detractors, the album is still celebrated as a triumph and is always a treat to put on the stereo.

S-Tier Songs, Vol. 9

It’s time for a new entry in the S-Tier songs series. For an explanation of what that’s about as well as a list of the other songs, head here.

Today’s song is very well-known, in many cases it’s the band’s only known song in America. Many people know the song without knowing who the group is at all. It’s only two minutes long, it’s the second song off the album and my only blogging regret is not making it the second entry in this series.

Blur – Song 2

Blur entered 1997 in a curious position. They’d been crowned kings of Britpop in 1994 after their triumphant Parklife record and tour. In 1995 they seemed poised to build momentum with The Great Escape and their initial single Country House, but then the British press went mad for Oasis and left Blur in the dust, even going so far as to change reviews of the album. Oasis went on to become the biggest band in the world for awhile as Blur sat at home wondering what happened.

By 1997 Blur were ready to get back at it, and this time they were leaving behind the Britpop elements they had previously worked so hard to be known for. The group convened around more lo-fi and grunge sensibilities and released their self-titled album to a new world that was about to move on from the Britpop scene.

While Blur would become internationally celebrated for the self-titled album as a whole, it was Song 2 that would take on a life of its own and become the band’s most recognizable hit. And, of course, as the story goes with many of these hit songs, the whole thing was a joke and an accident.

The above video outlines the origin story of Song 2 as told by Blur guitarist Graham Coxon. The song began as an acoustic piece on Damon Albarn’s guitar, featuring whistling in place of the song’s now-immortal “woo hoo” bit. Coxon suggested adding a bunch of noise to the tune and actually playing it for the record company as a gag. Albarn obliged and the band turned in the fully-formed, distorted as all hell Song 2 to the record company. Instead of being met with a sour reaction, the label execs loved the tune and Blur were off the to the post-Britpop races.

Song 2 was a well-received hit in Blur’s native UK and it also did something the band had been previously unable to do – it broke in the rest of the world. Song 2 charted on the higher end in many countries and became a staple of college and modern rock radio in the United States. Britpop as a whole hadn’t fared massively well on American shores, save for Elastica and Oasis. But now Blur arrived with a grunged-up tune just in time for the post-grunge era to truly take over rock radio. The song has been a part of sporting events, video games and other media ever since its release 25 years ago.

Background and reception are all well and good, but what really is Song 2 on about? Well, it’s a two minute song full of lyrical nonsense. The most noteworthy lyric is “woo hoo,” it’s the signature part of the song and the one many folks know the tune by. A fair few people couldn’t tell you who Blur is or the name of the song but they know “the woo-hoo song” by heart. And nobody, including the people who wrote it, can tell you what any of it means.

And that’s the beauty of music – not everything has to have a pinned-down, easy to digest meaning. Song 2 is a total lark through the English language and its only memorable words aren’t even really words. The whole thing from lyrics to instruments is just noise being made and it all works splendidly together. That’s not to say no thought went into it – as Graham Coxon outlines in the interview video, he was looking for specific sounds. And he got far more than he bargained for, with the song often cited as his greatest work.

Why is this an S-Tier song?

Song 2 is a monument to absurdity and noise and it tackles its premise extremely well. The song was a huge hit for a band reeling in an identity crisis after the events of 1995. Their response was to shrug off the sounds of their given genre and explore new areas, which led to a new legacy for the group that would far outshine the Britpop movement. It’s a simple song with no comprehensible theme and it’s just a bunch of noise, but it captured the attention of people all across the world.

When The Line-up Changes – Accept

In this installment of line-up changes I’m going to tackle a band that has had way more than one. In fact, the group has only had one constant member in its 46 year history. Discussing every change would be an insane task and be a 50 part series on the blog. It would also be extremely dry and uninteresting – very few of the line-up changes had any massive impact.

Today’s subject is Accept, the long-running German metal outfit who have several solid albums under their belts, as well as a book’s worth of line-up changes and a few extended breaks from touring and recording. Guitarist Wolf Hoffman is the only member to remain in the band from 1976 until now and to have recorded on every album.

Accept would gain notice in the 1980’s with albums like Balls To The Wall, Restless And Wild and Metal Heart. They would begin long periods of instability in 1987 when vocalist Udo Dirkschnieder was dismissed from the group. A series of reunions and extended breaks took place between 1992 and 2005. Hoffman was insistent on taking the band further after the 2005 reunion tour but blamed Dirkschnieder for inactivity after the tour.

The line-up change of note would happen in 2009 – Accept would reconvene with a new album and tour, and this time Udo was not invited. Taking his place was American singer Mark Tornillo, who had fronted New Jersey-based TT Quick in the 1980’s.

TT Quick were a bit of a “hidden gem” band from the ’80’s, never quite breaking big but still having an influence. Their guitarist David DiPietro would bear huge influence on fellow Jersey guitarists Zakk Wylde and Dave “Snake” Sabo, neither of whom should need any introduction. But TT Quick would remain under the radar and mostly inactive after the early 90’s, save for a brief reunion around the turn of the century.

It was a huge deal for Accept to reunite and do so without Udo Dirkschnieder. Udo was the definitive voice of Accept, having fronted the early and classic albums. A few records with other singers did not stand out or have the same impact as those from Udo’s time with the group. The band toured on festivals with the classic songs and that’s what fans were paying to see.

It was a massive risk to take on a new singer and someone as relatively unknown as Mark Tornillo. While Accept have international acclaim, they are a European band and taking on an American singer from an obscure group would be strange news to fans. The Internet lit up with negative reaction to Tornillo’s appointment, metal fans are not one to react well to major line-up changes like this.

Accept were prepared for the backlash, and very well armed to fend off critics. Filling Udo’s shoes was going to be a tall task, so the group hit the studio and prepared an album before announcing the line-up change. 2010’s Blood Of The Nations was the first new music from Accept in 14 years and the first without Udo in 21 years. It also became the first Accept album that anyone truly gave a shit about in 24 years.

Mark Tornillo’s “prove it” moment was a hit out of the gate. While many fans clinging to the Udo legacy still spewed venom across Internet comment sections, critics and fans were in awe of Blood Of The Nations and Tornillo’s strong performance. The major line-up change and huge risk would pay off. Not only did Tornillo gain accolades for his work on the album, but many praised his adept handling of the Accept back catalog.

That is where many replacement singers run foul of the fanbase – a new album can be good, even great, but when the new singer can’t lend due performance to the legacy works, people get turned off. And in fairness, it’s still not hard to find people slagging off Mark Tornillo and his singing on Accept’s classic tunes. If there is an Accept article at all on Blabbermouth or wherever, there are still plenty of comments from people unwilling to “accept” the new singer.

Music is personal opinion, of course, but I think the people still ripping Accept in its current form are just crying for the sake of crying. I saw Accept live in 2013 and the band blew the roof off the venue. Tornillo was spectacular and the band as a whole was in great form. The detractors are honestly just people who want to be butthurt over Udo’s exclusion from the group. I don’t often waste my time dissecting the opinions of people who hold contrary views to my own, but in the case of Accept, it’s one I feel comfortable doing. It isn’t an Accept problem, it’s a them problem.

The line-up change for Accept has been a success. Tornillo is now five studio albums and 13 years deep into his Accept run. The band have dealt with other line-up issues since but are still keeping at it. Udo Dirkschnieder is no worse off either – he is touring constantly and releases new studio albums more frequently than some people change their underwear. And even with all the commotion over the line-up change and Udo’s complex feelings about Accept, he has offered nothing but praise for Tornillo and how the latter has handled the role.

Sometimes the line-up change works, other times it doesn’t. In the case of Accept, their risky and daring change in 2009 panned out for the band and fans, or at least the fans who were willing to approach it with an open mind and ear. I’m sure it wasn’t an accident that they went with a singer in a similar vein to Udo. Accept have been able to add a new chapter to their legacy and were able to buck the odds and re-establish themselves when up against their own history.