Your occasional source for heavy metal, progressive rock and hard rock coverage. Whenever I feel like it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SIlver Ball Slayer

Slayer have joined the ranks of rock bands to release their own pinball machine. Sorta.

As a kid, I grew up playing rock and roll pinball machines. The legendary record store 'It's Only Rock and Roll' had three: the Kiss pinball machine, the Rolling Stones next to it, and one featuring Ted Nugent.

Then came the next generation, by which I mean the classic Guns N' Roses pinball machine that ate many of my quarters on many summer nights spent on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ.

Now, Slayer have released Slayer: Pinball Rocks for the IPhone, IPod Touch and the IPad. The game features band voices and music from the band's recent record, the superb World Painted Blood. On the bright side, at least the band didn't bash out a metal version of "Pinball Wizard."

Slayer: Pinball Rocks can be downloaded from the AppStore for $2.99. Cheaper than pumping in those quarters.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Album Re-assessment: Rush: Vapor Trails

Rush's 2002 comeback album (the band's 17th overall) was a cause for celebration upon its release. The band had been on a five-year hiatus and this was their first new material of the new millennium. So it's not surprising that as a huge Rush fan, I found the record...disappointing.

Upon first listen, the band's trademark interplay was buried in dark, guitar solo-less songs that roared out of the speakers at deafening levels. This distorted the band's "classic" sound. I was glad they were back, and some of the songs were OK but about half the record (especially the block of middle songs from "Peaceable Kingdom" to "Vapor Trail") simply didn't stick. Maybe it's because Rush didn't play those songs live?

Last night, I took the plunge and listened to Vapor Trails, in its entirety for the first time in maybe eight years. Maybe it's the excitement of the upcoming tour (Time Machine) and the new record (Clockwork Angels) but this time, the songs stuck.

Every Rush record has its time and place. Critical listening proves Vapor Trails to be an intelligent, thoughtful set of songs. The lyrics are heavy, focused on the 9/11 attacks and Neil Peart's own personal demons--which is probably why it was such a hard listen for me back in 2002.

The band plays like absolute monsters, ripping into deep grooves that recall(and sometimes quote) their past while digging into slabs of prog, metal and even jazz. Geddy Lee shows thje benefits of his solo work, sounding liberated vocally. His singing is at times stunning, especially on cuts like "Ceiling Unlimited", "The Stars Look Down" and "Freeze".

Although it sounded like a misfire upon its release, this is an album that's worth spinning. So load it back into your IPod and crank it, starting with "One Little Victory." You'll be glad you did.

Monday, June 14, 2010

V-Neck Sweaters and Erect Man-Nipples

Footage from Rage Against the Machine's free show in London at Finsbury Park, in response to the music lovers' of England's effort to get "Killing in the Name" as the 2009 Christmas No. 1 single--the first time in years that that has been accomplished by artists who have nothing to do with 'American Idol' or 'The X-Factor'.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Iron Maiden goes to "El Dorado"

Eddie is back, and looking to eat alien zombie astronaut brains!

Iron Maiden have announced that the first song from their forthcoming record, The Final Frontier, "El Dorado", is available for free download here.

The Final Frontier is Maiden's fourth album of new material since the return of Bruce Dickinson on vocals. It is scheduled for release on August 17.

The band has scheduled a North American tour for this summer. The opening act for these shows will be American progressive rock band Dream Theater.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The "Caravan" Has Arrived!

The new Rush single, "Caravan", has been released for download from, ITunes and various other digital media. The song, paired with the b-side "BU2B", is a taster for the forthcoming Rush record Clockwork Angels, which is planned for an early 2011 release. The new record finds the Canadian power trio reunited with producer Nick Raskulinecz, who worked with the band on the highly successful Snakes & Arrows.

The band has scheduled a North American tour from late June through September, with possible South American dates to follow in October. The tour, dubbed Time Machine, will feature a complete performance of the band's 1981 classic record Moving Pictures. Full tour information is available on

In other Rush-related news, the band has planned a series of one-night screenings of the Rush documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage dire. More information is available here.