Alcatrazz was designed to be a vehicle for showcasing former Rainbow vocalist Graham Bonnet. Instead it ended up being famous for being a springboard for some of shred guitar’s biggest superstars. The band’s first guitarist was a 19-year-old Swedish upstart by the name of Yngwie Malmsteen. With the support of MTV, who played both singles from the band’s 1983 debut album No Parole From Rock N Roll in fairly heavy rotation, Malmsteen would become a superstar and forever revolutionize what it meant to be a guitar hero. Unfortunately, Malmsteen and Bonnet did not see eye to eye for very long and the guitarist would exit the band before the end of the first album’s tour cycle. He would go on to form his own band, Rising Force, and within the span of a year record two of the greatest neo-classical heavy metal guitar records to ever exist.
The Metal Masters clinic held their annual concert on January 22, 2014 at the House Of Blues in Anaheim, CA, where members of metal giants like Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Testament, Pantera, and more shared the stage to play songs together from their respective back catalogs.
Pro-shot footage of the 3-hour headbanging event, Metal Masters 5, is now online and you can watch it here below.
Some of the songs played were Iron Maiden and KISS covers, but most were from the aforementioned bands, like Slayer’s “South Of Heaven” and “Raining Blood” and Pantera’s “I’m Broken,” “Strength Beyond Strength,” and “Mouth For War.” And the all-star jam finale? Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile,” sung by frontman Phil Anselmo and Testament’s Chuck Billy; a nice touch was seeing bass titan Billy Sheehan playing along on this one, and on Slayer’s “Mandatory Suicide” WITH the guys from Slayer. Too awesome.
How jam packed was your iPod this year? Were you someone who kept up with all the great music that was released in 2012, or did all the awesome tunes seem to pass you by? If you fall into either category, check out this a list of some great albums from 2012 that are definitely worth your time!
Theatre Is Evil
Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra
If you’re an avid reader of this site/user of social media and you don’t know who Amanda Palmer is, there is no better time to become a fan. A performer in every possible sense of the word, Ms. Palmer got together with her band, The Grand Theft Orchestra, and created one of the most diverse and emotionally resonant albums of the year. Palmer is famous for her brand of cabaret inspired art punk-rock, and while that theme is certainly present on Theatre Is Evil, many other influences come out to play. Synths and effect-soaked vocals begin the album on “Smile (Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen),” and that kind of shoegaze meets electro pop shimmer reappears on other album highlights like the rolicking single “Want It Back.” “Do It With A Rockstar” pulsates with a punk rock fury that will supercharge your morning commute. “Trout Heart Replica” is an emotional, string laden piano ballad. By the time “Olly Olly Oxen Free” crashes to its thundering close, you will have fallen in love with this alternately exciting and gentle art rock record.
Today is the birthday of one of music’s more original voices, the one and only late great Frank Zappa, a musical maverick who spanned 3 decades, who created a sonic jambalaya of genres, which he drew and quartered, sifted through a meat grinder, reconstructed, deconstructed it, and threw it up in the air and let the musical notes fall where they may; a producer, record company mogul, and progenitor who gave genesis to ions upon ions of musicians who followed in his footsteps directly or indirectly; and on top of all this, the cherry on his layer cake was enhanced by the fact that he was one downright kick ass guitar player, arguably one of the finest of all time and of all genres, the incomparable crazy, mad genius about town, about globe, and about universe.
The catalog and work of Frank Zappa is impossible to break down here in a short tribute such as this; there really isn’t, save for an immensely scant couple of singles and radio songs, much accessible or friendly to the casual listener or layman. For the most part, to them, Frank Zappa remains a total and unequivocal enigma, misunderstood with the music he parlayed, leaving listeners completely perplexed and turned off, quickly dismissing his work as noisy, jumbled arrangements which have no rhyme or reason to them, sung in a droning, bored vocal style via Zappa himself. In short, it was primarily a black eye on more “high brow” classical music, which they firmly believe that Zappa was simply parodying with dripping contempt and sarcasm. These examples couldn’t be further from the truth.
Birthday greetings go out today to guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, who’s hyper-fast, impeccable taste, and flexibility on his instrument have not only solidified him as one of the greats of the 1980s, when he gave one Frank Zappa a new musical shingle to build his long and storied career on, but it also solidified Vai as one of the greatest guitar players of all time.
Born on June 6th, 1960, it’s even more spellbinding when you realize that Vai is only 52 years old today; he’s had a Grammy-winning career that seems to have spanned generations and lifetimes. He started playing guitar at the age of 13; a year later, he was mentored and taught by another guitar virtuoso, Joe Satriani. Vai’s influences were the A-listers of rock and roll: Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Brian May (Queen), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Glen Buxton (Alice Cooper band), and even jazz guitarist Allan Holdsworth.