A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT SCREAM…

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punpkin screamSo, I thought I’d take some time to bring whatever readers I still have up to speed in the life and times of your Uncle NecRo. It’s been a while, and I thought a bit of venting is in order. In a matter of speaking.

First, with the lack of postings since house sitting for my sister’s family whilst they were vacationing in Nevada: Currently, I’m in the midst of writing and scheduling the daily posts for this year’s HALLOWEEN’ING 2018. I’m almost halfway done with that; all that remains is waiting for the stores and seasonal attractions to open up and let me pursue for the remaining posts. This year marks the return of the Shadow’s Edge haunted attraction, after a two year absence. I can’t wait to check that one out. I also want to hit some places I hadn’t made it to for the decorations and costumes. But, there will probably be visits to my standard favorite places, more because of familiarity. I’m old. That’s my excuse.

old metalheadSpeaking of being old, I probably won’t be able to make the Metallica show on the 6th. My health has been not good, and my eyesight is that driving at night and in the dark is getting kind of wonky for me. I’m scheduled for an eye exam later today (as I write this), but the new glasses won’t be back in time for the show. Also, there’s the regular middle age guy things, like I have to work the next day, it’s an hour’s drive, that section of Lincoln is difficult to navigate in the daytime, let alone post-show congestion in the dead of night. And quite frankly, my knees are all shot, making it difficult to make the hike from the parking garages to the arena. If they would have played in Omaha, maybe. Ten, maybe twenty years ago, I would have been all over this show. Now, though, I’m in my mid-fourties. I wasn’t able to find someone to go with me, so I’m probably going to sit this one out. Yeah, I’m probably pissing away my only chance to see them live. I’m at peace with this. Metal up your ass.

As far as blog postings for the rest of the year: I’m holding off on the standard Movie/Book/Music reviews until next year. Right now, I’m focusing on the HALLOWEEN’ING 2018 posts, and getting some of the standard brain dropping style articles take care of. I’ve had quite a few percolating for a number of years that keep bubbling back up to the surface ever now and again. So, bit of a relaxed schedule for the blog, here.

Anyway, if anything else comes up, y’all will be the first to know. That you know of. Until then, God bless, my wonderful freaks. Cheers and all that…

::END TRANSMISSION::

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Book Review: MY LIFE WITH DETH

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my life with 'dethDavid Ellefson / Joel McIver
Howard Books
2013

I really shouldn’t need to point this out, but in the interest of this blog post’s subject matter, I am a big Megadeth fan. Ever since getting my face sand-blasted off after purchasing Rust In Peace at the tender age of 17 — my first proper taste of the band, and it was a doozy — they’ve been very consistent with continually doing so, even during their low periods, more so than the Venom that spawned Megadeth’s Carnage, Metallica, ever did.

I think I popped something reaching for that mixed metaphor. Yeah, I’ll be feeling that for a few days.

Anyway, of the two Daves associated with the band, I’ve already read the biography for main man Dave Mustaine, and reviewed it quite a few years ago on my previous blog (it’s been moved here on this one, in case you were morbidly curious). A few months ago, while perusing the ebook selection on my Google Plus account, I came across the autobiography of the other Dave in the group, bassist and co-founder David Ellefson. I was rather jazzed to read this one; finally, we get the viewpoint of someone who had been with Megadeth and all the wackiness involved since the very beginning, save for a stretch where he wasn’t part of the band for…reasons.

Right at the start, Dave Ellefson writes in My Life With Deth that this was a book he really didn’t want to write. As he points out early on, these kind of biographies are a dime a dozen, and all contain the same tragic story. You read one, you’ve read them all. It’s the same kind of pattern you get with the VH1 Behind The Music series, really. Fine, understood. But, this book itself is only 256 pages long; 188 if you discount the final pages being a discography, an index (?) and the obligatory thanks section. That’s not a lot of pages to go into detail on a career that spanned three decades not only founding and playing in one of the legendary Big Four of thrash metal bands, inspiring generations to pick up the bass, but also the in-between times where he was broke and had to get a 9-5 type job just to get by. Mind you, this was with Peavey, so he didn’t exactly go back to slinging fries at a burger joint after he was first booted out of Megadeth. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, here…

In My Life With Deth, Ellefson takes us through his upbringing in rural Minnesota, first getting interested in music, and working up to playing gigs in and around the surrounding Midwest area; moving to LA and befriending some guy named Dave Mustaine, forming Megadeth, getting into drugs and the struggle to break free from his addictions, his career with Megadeth to his leaving the band, his post-Megadeth ventures and careers, his resulting fued with Mustaine and eventual patching up of the relationship. Oh, he also touches on his Christian faith.

Oh, yeah. Dave Ellefson’s a professing Christian. As such, not only does he talk about this, but each chapter ends with a brief “what I’ve learned from all this” takeaway. It’s definitely not something yo see in your standard rock n’ roll biography, here.

Overall, My Life With ‘Deth is rather brief, and quite frankly seems to be missing a bit of meat. This may be Ellefson’s design, as he tells his tale less as an excuse to dish dirt and cause controversy, and as more of a “these were the mistakes I’ve made, let’s learn from this” kind of story. If you’re looking for something like Motley Crue’s biography The Dirt, you’re going to be sorely disappointed, I’m afraid. If you’re looking for a rather detailed, point-by-point analysis of one of the greatest metal bands to ever have existed…well, again, you may be less than satisfied with this. But, if you’re looking for some light reading and have some time to kill, My Life With ‘Deth is a good way to fill the time.

Music Review: RACKETS & DRAPES – Candyland

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rackets and drapes - candylandRACKETS & DRAPES
Candyland
Independent
1998

It’s amazing how, all these years now, and I have yet to publish my official review of one of the albums that was kind of a paradigm shift for me back in the day. You would think that would have been one of my first reviews of Rackets & Drapes’ discography. But, for whatever reason that eludes all logic in me, I have held off, put off, and subsequently never gotten around to doing a proper review of their very first full-length release, Candyland.Well, since this year–2018–marks the 20th anniversary since the release of Candyland, I figure better late than never.

Released independently at first, but then re-released through MCM Music after being signed to that label, Candyland was a rather ambitious and curious release at the time. The entire pop culture world was still reeling from the sudden rise of darker, scarier music from the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson and the new wave of Goth children. While the Christian music scenes did feature a thriving industrial and Goth rock underground of sorts, there had yet to be a genuine shock rock band to shake things up. Well, outside of Alice Cooper, who just had come out of the confessional closet as a Christian a few years earlier. Enter Colorado band Rackets & Drapes, and the release of Candyland.

While the band described themselves as “shock rock”, the music on Candyland is a dark and thick blend of industrial, punk, death rock and Gothic theatrics, with songs that tackle taboo and controversial topics with unblinking glee that makes normal Shiny Happy Christians (TM) a bit squeamish: abortion, child and domestic abuse, homelessness, child abducitons…yeah, these guys made it clear that they were scary for a purpose. And for me, this was a God-send, as I was exploring the darker expressions of my faith, through the Goth / industrial / black metal subcultures. I embraced Candyland with gusto, and it quickly became one of my soundtracks to my faith.

20 years later, and I still revisit Candyland frequently. It’s still has a raw punk aestetic, and the songs still pack a punch. One thing I never understood was why Rackets & Drapes were immediately slagged with the “Marilyn Manson rip-off” tag; even now I still come across it, which clearly indicates that no one really bothered to listen to the album. Regardless, I still hold the band and Candyland in general in high regard. If you can find a copy, pick it up and give it a listen, or twelve.

Music Review: TRUE STRENGTH – The Cross Will Always Prevail

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true strength the cross will always prevailTRUE STRENGTH
The Cross Will Always Prevail
Independent
2014

When I first came across the band True Strength, I didn’t know much about them. I just noticed this debut release of theirs — The Cross Will Always Prevail — mentioned on one of the sites I check out sometimes to keep up with current releases. I presumed by the style of the album artwork and the classic metal sound of the sample clips I previewed that this was one of those long-lost obscure classic metal nuggets from the 1970s that finally got some re-release digital love. That’s why I bought The Cross Will Always Prevail.

Doing a bit more research on True Strength, I’ve come to find that, contrary to my assumptions, they’re a project that isn’t an old 70s outfit, but was formed in 2012 as a ministry-focused metal band that, among other things, dedicates all of their music sales to charities.

You could, however, forgive me for my original assumptions, because the kind of metal True Strength plays is a retro style throwback to the NWOBHM from the 70s and early 80s. After the brief, 38-second intro “Exorcism”, we get the title track “The Cross Will Always Prevail”, which features a classic metal riff and hook, melodic with a good guitar solo. “Christian Battle Cry” shows a bit more on the technical side, anchored with a nice galloping riff and another rather good solo; “Under The Scimitar” is more mid-paced with another good classic metal riff and hook; “Stave The Fires Of Moloch” is a 10-plus minute epic-length song that ventures into doom territory at times; “Michael The Archangel” is probably the heaviest song on this album, with an almost speed metal riff going on; “When We Meet At Armageddon” is a more straight-forward metal song, but seems to have a weaker chorus; and finally, “Key To The Abyss” ends the album with a good metal riff and hook to send you on your way. Whatever that means, it just popped in my head just now.

Unlike your standard high-pitched METAAAAAAAAL! vocals you would expect with metal like this, the vocals actually sound like Dennis DeYoung from Styx in the delivery, which is different but actually works in the music’s favor. There are some points, though, where the vocals get a bit sloppy, especially on “Stave The Fires Of Moloch”, which I notated while listening to this, that they sound more like the guy from Light Force back in the day. The production is a bit on the thin side, but for an independent released project, it’s pretty good, really. You get the sense that The Cross Will Always Prevail would sound fantastic on vinyl.

This was originally released as a digital only release, but has been picked up for distribution through Roxx Productions, so it’s in good hands. I picked my copy up on Amazon (naturally); overall, The Cross Will Always Prevail is very much worth a look for you old Righteous Rockers out there.

Music Review: GALACTIC COWBOYS – Long Way Back To The Moon

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galactic cowboys - long way back to the moonGALACTIC COWBOYS
Long Way Back To The Moon
Music Theory Recordings
2017

Seventeen years. That’s how long it’s been since we were graced with a Galactic Cowboys album. And really, the understanding was that the band broke up after their last studio release, Let It Go, and thus no further album was to b expected. But, here we are, and not only do we have a brand spanking new Galactic Cowboys album, but it’s also from the original lineup that recorded Galactic Cowboys and Space In Your Face. So, after all of these years, how does Long Way Back To The Moon hold up?

Short answer to that: pretty darn fantastic.

Oh, man, I got to tell you, when the opening chords of the lead-in song “In The Clouds” started, that unique tingly feeling you get whenever you’re listening to a genuine Galactic Cowboys album hit me, and I could stop grinning until the final song ended an hour later. You know what I mean. At least, I hope you do. Because it’s rather hard to describe using words and such. Ironic, no?

Anyway, the music on Long Way Back To The Moon finds the band not even skipping a beat, like it hasn’t even been that long between the last release. Meaning, we get the quality signature style of crunchy heavy metal and rock riffs and hooks paired with the mesmerizing Beatles-esque harmony and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor in the lyrics that the band is known for. I would say that Long Way Back To The Moon has much in common with Machine Fish, as the songs are quite heavy in the execution throughout the album, including the ones that my be considered their slower cuts. Songs like “Internal Masquerade”, “Next Joke”, “Zombies”, “Hate Me”, “Losing Ourselves” and “Agenda” have some heavy, driving riffs and hooks going, and the more mid-paced songs like “In the Clouds”, “Drama”, and the title track “Long Way Back To The Moon” don’t loose that heavy edge, giving things a darker tone. “Blood In My Eyes” kind of veers into Nu Metal territory with the riff, but it’s still a good, heavy cut. After the album proper, though, there are two bonus tracks that came with my purchase, “Believing The Hype” and “Say Goodbye To Utopia”, both being rather heavy, the former also leaning towards a Nu Metal riff, while the later a bit more upbeat yet still heavy with a slower mid-point.

Though I wasn’t expecting another release from the band, I’m not complaining. As a matter of fact, overall, I found Long Way Back To The Moon a rather enjoyable and satisfying release, seeing the band in top form. The only real strike against it is the production seems a bit…I don’t know, a scosh on the muddled side? Minor quibble, though. Go out and purchase this thing post-haste.

Movie Review: X-SINNER – Fire It Up

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x-sinner - fire it upX-SINNER
Fire It Up
Retroactive
2006

Fire it Up, the 4th release from gritty hard rockers X-Sinner, isn’t so much a studio release, as it was a complete re-recording of their second release, Peace Treaty. If you’re wondering what the purpose of that was, it boiled down to the band wanting to re-release their first two releases with a better remastering than what the originals had. Unfortunately, the rights to both the releases were tied up in so much red tape, the band decided to just re-record the songs from Peace Treaty, leaving out the ballad “Hold On” and replacing it with the newly recorded “Fire It Up”, and releasing it with that particular title.

As the lead off of the album, new song “Fire It Up” is what you would come to expect from X-Sinner: A crunchy, mid-paced three-chord hard rocker with a catchy groove hook. The vocals do seem a bit strained here, though not unexpected. I bring this up because, though the rest of the songs are toted as new recordings, the vocals don’t match the new song vocals. It’s like comparing James Earl Jones’ Darth Vader voice from 1977’s Star Wars with his voice from Rogue One. Which leads me to believe the note on the Firestream Music Vault entry that mentions that the vocals themselves were not re-recorded. Which is fine, really. Because the entirety of Fire It Up sound fantastic.

The re-recording of the music itself on the songs have seemed to breathed a bit of new life into them. The production is heavier, the sound thicker than on the original release. And really, the decision to keep the original vocals in (if that were the case) was a good one. Fire It Up is a solid, back-to-front release with some nice, heavy and crunchy hard rock stuffed to the gills. The riffs and hooks on the songs beg to be cranked loudly while driving with the window down, presuming the weather is permissible for that kind of thing. There is the more bluesy “Getch’ Ya”, and the power ballad “Don’t Go” that is pretty good for what it is. But, overall, Fire It Up is a great collection of hard rock goodness that needs to be in your collection.

Music Review: XL & DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR – Offensive Truth vol. 1+2

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xl & death before dishonor - offensive truth vol 1xl & death before dishonor - offensive truth vol 2

XL & DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR
Offensive Truth vol. 1+2
Independent
2016

XL & Death Before Dishonor. They are one of those bands that sadly never got the respect they more than deserved back in the day. They released their debut album, Sodom And America, in 1993, but instead of being recognized for being the genuine article as far as the burgeoning Rap/Rock hybrid that was emerging in the very early 1990s (before it got lumped in with the Nu Metal tag later in the decade), they kind of got lost on the wayside, while bands like Pillar and Payable On Death got more attention. Fortunately, main man XL kept busy, releasing other albums quietly both with DBD and as a solo artist. Then, in 2016, the group released a double album entitled Offensive Truth vol. 1 and vol. 2.

In case you’re not familiar with XL & Death Before Dishonor, and thinking they’re just another P. O. D. wannabe band…no. You can maybe say they’re a Rage Against The Machine clone, but they were contemporaries, releasing their debut a year after Rage released theirs. However, I would say, if you want to make a more apt comparison, Body Count is closer to the mark. Regardless, XL& DBD is awesome. So, enough of that, and on to the album. Or albums, as it were.

Vol. 1 opens with “In Need Of Therapy”, a nice rocking track with an infectious hook and groove, and a catchy melodic chorus, and you realize that XL & DBD haven’t skipped a beat, in a manner of speaking. The music is heavy, but has a variety going with hardcore, metal, rock and funk grooves that keeps things from going stale. Vol. 2 continues on with this, giving us 20 solid tracks of rap/rock hybrid that will get your head bopping along, no matter what the speed.

Mind you, XL and the gang are talented enough as it is (a fact pointed out in “Yeah, I Know Right”). What makes this double album even more awesome is some guest spots by Deliverance main guy Jimmy P. Brown II (“Devastated”, “The Wilderness”, “Daddy’s Too Friendly” and “Corporate Elite”), Oz Fox from Stryper (“Best Friend, Worst Enemy”), musical Jack of all trades, but remembered most from Poor Old Lu., Jesse Sprinkle (“Because Of This”), Crucified guitarist and Applehead guy Greg Minier (“Rapist”), the guy from Crystal Lewis’ band, Joel Goodwin (“The Wrath To Come”), Whitecross and King James guitarist Rex Carroll (“Methamphetamine”) and Jim Chaffon from The Crucified and The Blamed, among others (“My Hour Of Desperation”). Also, there’s a redux of the song “Armed For Battle”, which was originally from their sophomore release, Live From Nineveh, another release there’s hardly any information about online. Trust me, it exists.

Bottom line, if you happen to be one of the people who picked up Sodom And America and wore that down to a nub, here’s two more that you’re going to love. If P. O. D. is your only idea of rap rock nu metal whatever with a Christian message, you really need to pick up Offensive Truth vol. 1+2. They don’t mess around or mince words. Which…okay, I’m beginning to see why maybe these guys didn’t catch on to your standard CCM crowd. Highly recommended.

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