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Reggie’s Essential 25 Favorite Instrumentals #2 & #1

bc_rich_widow_wmd_bass_top_imageI love the power of a good instrumental song.  Sometimes they can be energizing or even relaxing depending on the band’s intent with the song.  Some bands use an instrumental song to display a different, sometimes softer side.  And, sometimes an instrumental is a collection of left over riffs and drum parts that didn’t make the final cut.  Or, perhaps they just couldn’t find the words to go with the music.  However they are composed, the instrumental song is a track I look for and hope to find on any album; though there are some bands where it’s almost an expectation.  This list is 25 word-less songs that I find essential to my music library.  I wouldn’t sweat over the exact order, but yeah the ones at or near the top of this list are definitely my favorites.  I know there are many more instrumental songs out there, but these are mine…so to speak.  This list is also limited to only three per band and only one band made this list three times.  Enjoy my top 2!

2.  Hell’s Kitchen – Dream Theater

As you can probably tell, I have fondness for Dream Theater’s instrumental songs.  This one is the third and final song of my list and if I didn’t make a 3-song rule I might have a few more Dream Theater songs to talk about…obviously my favorite from them.  I like the diversity in this song; I can listen to it to relax and I have used it as my opening song and/or closing song on a run.  It helps keep my mind at ease when I begin a run and wonder to myself why am I running.  By the time the song is over, my heart rate is regulated and I can begin a long run with mostly thrash and death metal to keep me motivated.   The attraction here is the lengthy guitar solos and of course combined with the progressive elements makes the song pretty damn perfect.

1.  The Ultra-Violence – Death Angel

The main attraction to this song for me is it’s just so raw and full of aggression.  These guys were just teenagers when they recorded it back in 1987 for their first album, The Ultra-Violence.  This song was also featured in a burger commercial.  I have to believe that someone had to know about this band to select that song.  This song isn’t something one would just stumble upon while looking for background music to a guy eating a burger.  Metalheads are everywhere!  Anyway, I am going to let the music do the talking.  Thanks for reading my list of 25 favorite instrumental songs.  My next list will be 30 intros that instantly grabbed me.  Thanks to Mik for inspiring me to do a list of my own on that subject.

Reggie’s Top 15 Albums of 2013

Black Bomb A, Olympic (Nantes) 17/11/2006Initially, I was going to limit my best of 2013 list to just my top 10.  My reasoning was to make my list as tight as I could only highlighting the very best of what moved me during the year.  After looking back at how many albums I listened to or was exposed to, that number hovered around 270 albums.  So, I decided to expand my list to the same standard as previous years. Despite increasing my list to 15, it still only highlights about 5% of all the albums that graced my ear drums this year.  So, what I present to you for the year 2013 my top 15, plus five more honorable mentions that will be posted in the vicinity of this list.

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Concert Review: Death Angel, 3 Inches of Blood, Battlecross, Revocation, Diamond Plate

087It’s been a very long time since I had the opportunity to catch Death Angel in the splendor of a live setting.  If my memory serves me, it was August 19, 1990. Seven of us piled into some type of small white hatchback never meant for seven people and made our way an hour down the road to Boston, MA to this little dive called The Channel.  I am not sure if this place it still exists and there was nothing particularly exciting about the joint other than Death Angel was playing there.  They were in support of their Act III album and in tow were Forbidden along with two local bands called Cardinal Sin and Candy Striper Death Orgy…the latter was as entertaining as their name, I promise you that.  I believe this may have been the place where I got my first taste of the pit…because, well there wasn’t anywhere else to go; the entire place was a pit.  I also bought my favorite concert tee from that show and had that thing until it fell apart 10 years later.  The only things that remain from that evening are fond memories and a ticket stub which was hand-written from a local music store called Strawberries Records and Tapes.  Yeah, they are out of business now.  All in all, it was highly memorable for many reasons.  So, to see them again after more than two decades was highly anticipated to say the least.  To make the evening even better were some quality opening acts; 3 Inches of Blood, Battlecross, Revocation, Diamond Plate, and local band Artemesis.  Here is my story.

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Album Review: Death Angel – The Dream Calls For Blood

Death-Angel-The-Dream-Calls-For-BloodSince I first caught their debut album, The Ultra-Violence (1987) back in my young impressionable years I have been pretty much hooked on Death Angel.  I certainly appreciated the rawness of Frolic Through the Park (1988), and their Act III (1990) album is my favorite from them even though they embedded a certain funkiness into that one.  Of all the bands that disappear for one reason or another, Death Angel is the one I wanted to come back more than any that I can think of.  And, they did just in a different form called The Organization which took shape after Death Angel’s bus accident and eventual break up.  The Organization didn’t live up to my expectations, but it was cool to see four of the five guys (minus Mark) back together again under the new name, but it wasn’t the same and it ended in 1995.  When I got wind of the Death Angel reunion and ensuing album The Art of Dying (2004), I couldn’t have been more elated.  But, for now, let’s talk about the present.

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Reggie’s Top 100 Favorite Albums of All Time #15-11

As we journey down the path to my number 1 favorite album of all time, we have finally breached the top 20.  From here on out, you will likely see more and more classic metal albums appearing on the list except for one or two that are relatively new (to me) compared to the rest.  This all-time list is an ongoing effort started by our friends at The History of Metal page on facebook.  Each day we list another album until we get to the end which should take us close to the end of the year.  Below is my next list of five as we near our way to #1.  Enjoy!

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Video of the Week – Seemingly Endless Time

This video, like the song of the week, is also from a band I haven’t listened to in a while. Bay area thrashers Death Angel were elevated to new levels upon the release of Act III. Unfortunately, their career was cut short when they broke up shortly after their tour in support of that album in 1990-ish. These guys were definitely on the path to bigger and better things and still so young. If I am not mistaken, some of these guys were still teenagers when their third album was released. This is the video for their first single off Act III, Seemingly Endless Time.

Theme Thursday – Fundamental Instrumental

Call it a filler, call it a waste of space, or call it bits and pieces of leftover music.  Better yet, call it art.  However you want to describe an instrumental metal melody, they seem to be part of many artist’s repertoire.  You can usually find an instrumental song at the end of an album or at the beginning and sometimes somewhere in the middle where it seems purposeful.  An instrumental can be used to set up the feel of an album.  Just ask Ensiferum about that, they do it well.  An instrumental can be used to close out an album; a nice subtle way to say “until next time my friends.”  Chimaira’s last two albums were closed out with instrumentals…damn good ones too.

One might think that a prog band is more likely to produce instrumental songs.  Actually, a wide variety of metal genres produce instrumentals some more than others.  Maybe prog tips the scales a bit more than most, but you can find instrumentals in just about any genre even in death metal.   Some bands surprise you with an instrumental.  Check out Megadeth’s Dialectic Chaos off the album Endgame.  Megadeth isn’t a band that mass produces instrumentals.  It was a nice surprise to hear one from them.

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Theme Thursday – A Decade of Thrash

What is your opinion of the standard thrash recipe?  Do you think thrash as become weak over the years, stayed the same, got better, or a little bit of everything?  Does thrash make you want to puke or snap your fingers…snap your neck?  The theme for this week is going to focus on thrash from 2001-2010.  Not so much the bands themselves, but the songs that define the music.  I will cover the last 10 years with a few words on what’s out in 2011 already. Part II of this theme is that all the songs I talk about fit onto one CD-R.  If you like the tunes I picked it makes for a great mix.  I  will let the playlist do the talking and by all means feel free to comment.

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Song of the Day – A Room With A View – 28 Mar 11

The Bay Area’s Death Angel was at the top of their game when they released Act III in 1990.  From Frolic Through The Park to Act III, the band underwent a pretty amazing transition; it was obvious that a major label got a hold of the band and polished their sound.  Some might argue against such a thing, but for Death Angel it really worked out for them.  Act III is a solid album and one of a few albums I can honestly say every song rocks!  Their previous record Frolic Through The Park is much more raw than Act III, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  FTTP is also a great album and one thing you should know is that when Death Angel was putting out these albums back in the late 80’s they were merely teenagers, very young and very talented.

Today’s song of the day is A Room With A View; one of the slower songs on Act III.  It starts off with guitarist Rob (at the time) singing which then transitions to singer Mark O for the rest of the song which is barely noticeable.  They sound similar.  The acoustic beginning leads its way into a more metal yet melodic sound.  It is really a powerful song and showcases some Death Angel talent and how much they matured between Frolic and Act III.

Also, Death Angel has one of my favorite rockin’ instrumental songs.  It’s called The Ultra-Violence off their first album The Ultra-Violence.  To sum it up it’s basically 10:34 of brutality.  Do not quote me, but I think the drummer was 15 when this album was released.  This album showed the metal world that Death Angel was not screwing around.

Shortly after I saw them at The Channel in Boston, MA, August 1990 with Forbidden opening, Death Angel was in a bus accident and pretty much disappeared.  Death Angel minus the singer then reformed a band called The Organization which released a couple of albums, not up to par with Death Angel IMO, but still decent.  Death Angel later reunited with some new band members and in 2004 released The Art of Dying and then released two more albums with the most current (Relentless Retribution) being the best of the three, IMO.  Death Angel also holds a record in my own personal life for the longest running concert shirt in my wardrobe…I think I had that 1990 concert shirt for 12 years.  I do not usually keep them…I like to wear them and update them to newer shirts.  Below is a short video diary showing you Death Angel over the years featuring the song of the day, of course.  Enjoy!

Here is a YouTube link for A Room With A View

Here is a link for 3rd Floor – Live – off the album Frolic Through the Park

Here is  a link for Truce off Relentless Retribution

Photo Credit

Top 10 of 2010 by Plantera7

The year is about to close, and I am about to lose internet until Sky gets me online at my new house; so I thought I would post my top 10 of 2010 to close out my year in metal.  The only rule is that the bands I select had to release an album in 2010 and I have to own it.  Sorry, I can’t buy everything so this is comprised of music I own which was released this year.  Ok here goes:

Number 10:  Death Angel – Relentless Retribution

This is a quality CD and easily the best DA has put out since Act III 20 years ago.  Placing Relentless Retribution at number 10 on my list is in no way degrading this CD.

Number 9:  Helloween – 7 Sinners

Perhaps benefitting from its recent release, this album beat out some other tunes I have been listening to all year so that says a lot about helloween…a band I lost track of for more than a decade.  7 Sinners is a great album and will be in my car stereo rotation for some time to come.

Number 8:  Nevermore – The Obsidian Conspiracy

This is one band I only just got into this year.  I wish I had heard them years ago, as they do seriously rock.  The Obsidian Conspiracy impressed me greatly.  I like their musical diversity. They cross the lines between metal and prog – only their songs are much shorter.

Number 7:  Stone Sour – Audio Secrecy

I have mentioned before that I am glad Corey and Co. do not sound like their other band Slipknot.  Audio Secrecy is a bit more toned down than Stone Sour’s previous material, but it is still great music.  I have a lot more appreciation for Corey Taylor after seeing him solo at Sonisphere this year.  The dude is talented.

Number 6:  Kamelot – Poetry for the Poisoned

This is another band I only got into in the last year or so.  They are super talented and every time I listen to Kamelot it is an experience.  There is so much more to their music than just some dudes playing instruments.  The range of guest singers on this album is a real treat.

Number 5:  Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier

What can I say about Maiden?  At their age you would think they would be putting out another album just to keep their livelihood going, but these dudes hit the nail with the hammer with The Final Frontier.  It is really a throwback to some old school Iron Maiden; quite impressive.

Number 4:  The Sword – Warp Riders

The Sword takes that 70’s metal sound and updates it.  You can easily hear that Austin, Texas blues-rhythm in their music.  Warp Riders is a great album and if you like that old school grungy (not Seattle grunge) metal feel you should like this album.  It’s a great 70’s meets modern rock fusion.  They do this quite well!

Number 3:  James LaBrie – Static Impulse

It may seem I am biased because I am a huge Dream Theater fan, so naturally you would think I would love James LaBrie.  Truth is, I only heard his solo stuff this year for the first time.  The best thing about James LaBrie is that he does not sound like Dream Theater.  Static Impulse impressed me right from the start and I find myself listening to this album quite regularly.

Number 2:  Bullet For My Valentine – Fever

Again, a fairly new band to me.  I actually did not like BFMV the first time I heard them.  I can’t remember which song got me into them, but I started buying their stuff and listening to them regularly.  I like BFMV like I like Trivium.  They are a no frills metal band.  They just rock and there is no more or less generalized way to put it.  The only thing I don’t like, and it’s probably the record company’s fault, is that the singles released to the public tend to be more “pop” sounding than the rest of the album.  I think it’s just a cheap way to market to the masses, and like I said, I think record companies push that on the bands.  So if you base your like or dislike of BFMV on what you hear on the radio or see in videos, try picking up an album you might be pleasantly surprised.

Number 1:  Overkill – Ironbound

I am a huge Overkill fan, but I am also not afraid to say music sucks when it sucks.  Overkill has put out a fairly steady flow of music over the last decade or so.  Some of it was good, some great, and some not so great.  I love the band and I am a fan for life, but I will tell you this; Ironbound blew me away.  I was so surprised at this Overkill release.  I figured it would be standard predictable thrash which is not a negative comment.  Ironbound is just one truly heavy album.  If you haven’t heard it yet it will stomp you in the gut.  Whether you are a new or old fan, Ironbound will not disappoint.

So there you have my personal top 10 of 2010.  So what didn’t make the cut?  Well, not to say that any of these bands are bad, but the top 10 above gave me warm fuzzies more than these bands that didn’t make my top 10 – Korn, Soilwork, Sabaton, Kingdom of Sorrow, Apocalyptica, Fear Factory, Cradle of Filth, Hellyeah, Flotsam and Jetsam, Soulfly, and Dimmu Borgir. 

There were numerous albums that were released this year and what I have presented is only a small chuck of what I purchased in 2010.  So if you think I missed out on something that you think was super great let me know. I am all ears.  I hate to miss out on good music so I am happy to hear any input.  Thank you and have a great 2011.  Personally, I will be looking forward to new releases I know are coming from DevilDriver, Dream Theater, Trivium, Anthrax, and hopefully Megadeth.