Year 3, Day 36: Guns N’ Roses -Appetite for Destruction

Year 3, Day 36: Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction

Track List

  1. Welcome to the Jungle
  2. It’s So Easy
  3. Nightrain
  4. Out ta Get Me
  5. Mr. Brownstone
  6. Paradise City
  7. My Michelle
  8. Think About You
  9. Sweet Child O’ Mine
  10. You’re Crazy
  11. Anything Goes
  12. Rocket Queen

About the Album

Appetite for Destruction is the debut studio album from American hard rock/metal band, Guns N’ Roses. The album was recorded in March and April of 1987, and released mid-July 1987 through Geffen Records. The album didn’t immediately top the Billboard 200, as it debuted at 182 on the chart. It topped the chart in 1988 after touring and several songs (Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City) receiving regular radio airplay. The album spent four non-consecutive weeks at number one on the chart, as well as a total of 147 total weeks on the Billboard 200. The album is certified 18x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (or RIAA).

Thoughts on the Album

As we wind down the third year of the project, it seems the albums I have picked down the stretch have had a hard edge to them in one form or another. Today is no different. Today’s album is the 1987 debut release from Guns N’ RosesAppetite for Destruction. The album has had significant cultural impact as several songs from the album still receive regular radio airplay on many hard rock, metal, and classic rock FM radio stations nationwide. Plus, I’m pretty sure if you go to a sporting event somewhere in the United States, you are bound to hear the album opener, Welcome to the Jungle played AT LEAST once.

The album openers with the aforementioned, Welcome to the Jungle. A track about moving to the big city (ex. Los Angeles/Hollywood) and searching for everything you thought you wanted, only to wind up getting much more than that. It is pretty much heavy metal’s version of huge and soaring arena rocking anthem. No seriously it is. Go to a sports event, you will wind up hearing it in some form. Between the opening guitar riff and the bass and drum groove, this track sets the tone and pace for the album.

The midway point of the album is marked by the track Paradise City. The track opens with a clean guitar riff before the drums kick in and the a chant of the chorus starts. While the chant prepares you for the rest of the song, it also highlights a wide range of vocal tones. The track features some synthesizer riffs, but they are not the main selling point as they are more heard during the chorus. At one point during the song, it stops, and then all hell and chaos reign. The guitars come in loud, fast, and heavy. It’s musical chaos, but in a good way.

Three tracks later comes the power rock ballad, Sweet Child O’ Mine. It is an overall outstanding and amazing song that was a massive success probably eclipsing both Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City. The song opens with some clean guitar riffs that compliment the rest of the band nicely. Everything about this song is excellent. From the guitars and bass to the drums and vocals.

Conclusion

You know, I understand why critics say this album is overrated. Between tracks like Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City, Sweet Child O’ Mine, and Rocket Queen, there really isn’t anything on this album that hasn’t been done before by some other faceless heavy metal, or hair metal, or hard rock band of the 1980s. While we can debate whether this album is overrated, one can’t debate the fact that it spawned some of the most iconic hard rock/heavy metal tracks ever recorded. As always, give it a listen.

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Year 3, Day 35: Namco Sound Team – Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies Official Soundtrack

Year 3, Day 35: Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies Official Soundtrack

Track List

Click here for the full tracklist of this official soundtrack.

About/Thoughts on the Album

Today I decided to combine both the about and thoughts sections. More so for the sake of cleanliness and aesthetics. But today’s album, isn’t really an album at all, it’s a soundtrack. It’s a soundtrack from one of my favorite video games on the PlayStation 2 (and all time). It’s the Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies Official Soundtrack. Now before you go, “OMG THIS IS VIDEO GAEM MUSIK! IT SUKS!”, I want you to listen to it. It’s fully orchestrated with a mixture and combination of modern day musical styles.

The soundtrack features a variety of musical styles, but most prominently features a sweeping combination of orchestral, synthesizer, electronic, and rock elements. The Namco Sound Team also employed a Latin Chorus for this game’s soundtrack; which if you have played later releases of the Ace Combat franchise, you’d recognize instantly. This Latin Chorus is no more recognizable than on the tracks Rex TremendaeRex Tremendae for those unfamiliar with Christian hymns or Mozart, is from the fifth movement of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor. The lyrics of the brief track (in game) as follows…

Rex,
Rex tremendae majestatis,
qui salvandos savas gratis,
salve me, fons pietatis.

When translated…

King,
King of tremendous majesty,
who freely saves those worthy ones,
save me, source of mercy.

Rex Tremendae in-game serves as a musical prelude to the final mission.

Another portion of the soundtrack of where the Latin choir is featured prominently is the final mission track, Megalith -Agnus Dei-Agnus Dei, or “Lamb of God”, serves as the song playing in the background as the final mission begins after the intrude from Rex Tremendae. It continues with the musical style of soundtrack; it combines electronic elements such as percussion with a complete orchestral backing. The lyrics of the song are the fusion of the Introitus, Agnus Dei, and Lux Aeterna sections of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor. The lyrics in Latin are as follows…

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi
Dona eis requiem.
Qui tollis peccata mundi

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi
Dona eis requiem.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi
Dona eis requiem.

Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine
Domine
Cum sanctis tuis in aeternum,
Quia pius es
Agnus Dei, dona eis requiem.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi
Dona eis requiem.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi
Aeternam dona eis Domine
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

When translated…

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world
Grant them rest.
Who take away the sins of the world

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world
Grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world
Grant them rest.

Eternal light shine upon them, Lord
Lord
With your saints for eternity,
For you are faithful
Lamb of God, grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world
Grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world
Grant them eternity, Lord
And let perpetual light shine on them.

One of my favorite tracks from this soundtrack is titled Comona and plays during one of the missions titled “Shattered Skies”. It is a rocker featuring heavy electronic elements such as synthesizer and percussion fused with traditional western rock elements (guitar, bass, drums).

Or there is the quick symphonic track that plays at the closing scene of the mission titled “Invincible Fleet”. That track is titled USEA National Anthem -Hymn of Liberty-. It’s a quick 22 second tune accompanied by radio static as it was meant for the pilots in game to be singing it.

O’er azure skies
And emerald plains
Where freedom and justice prevail
With courage and strength
We’ll fight to the end
For liberty in our land

Conclusion

When it comes to any kind of music, I take the mantra of never judge a book by it’s cover. When you listen to this soundtrack it’ll kick you in the butt and make you go “whoa”. With it’s combination of modern instrumental elements such as electric guitar and synthesizer and more classical elements such as orchestral instruments and a Latin chorus, it definitely not your run-of-the-mill video game soundtrack. It’s one that paved the way for others to add in more classical music elements. As always give it a listen, you never know, you might like it!

Year 3, Day 34: Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A

Year 3, Day 34: Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.

Track List

  1. Born in the U.S.A
  2. Cover Me
  3. Darlington Country
  4. Working on the Highway
  5. Downbound Train
  6. I’m on Fire
  7. No Surrender
  8. Bobby Jean
  9. I’m Goin’ Down
  10. Glory Days
  11. Dancing in the Dark
  12. My Hometown

About the Album

Born in the U.S.A. is the seventh studio album from New Jersey native and rocker, Bruce Springsteen. The album, recorded over a span of two years from January 1982 to March 1984, was released June 4 1984 through Columbia Records. The album was a massive commercial success having sold as of this year, 15 million copies in the United States alone (30 million worldwide). The album peaked at number one one various charts worldwide, including number one on the United States Billboard 200. The album is certified 15x platinum in the United States. The album also helped popularize the genre of Heartland Rock in the United States.

Thoughts on the Album

It seems that this year on the project, I’ve busted out more of the classics. Seriously, I wasn’t expecting to do that. But hey, people need to hear the classics, so they can better appreciate how music has evolved. Anyway, today’s album is none other than Born in the U.S.A. from The Boss, aka Bruce Springsteen. It’s another album that has held up to the test of time and has left a significant cultural impact.

The album opens with the titular track, Born in the U.S.A. with it’s majestic synthesizer chords and pounding drums. As awesome and amazing the song is, it is often misappropriated as a song that is pro-American; a song that celebrates American patriotism. Whereas the opposite rings true about this song, it’s a protest song if I’ve ever heard one. Incredibly anthemic, instantly recognizable, and probably the strongest track on the album.

The tenth track, Glory Days, is another arena rocker much like Born in the U.S.A. except maybe not as huge. The track opens with some bluesy guitar riffs; it’s a cautionary tale of lost youth and adult resignation/acceptance of where you have ended up. It’s a big arena rocking anthem.

The following track, Dancing in the Dark, for me, kind of lacks a bit of freshness. While the track is an easy listen, probably more so because of it’s pop tendencies. It’s a more layered and commercial song that still however maintains Springsteen’s heartfelt and pained tone and lyrics. The guitar line on the song fades in and out in tune with the ever present drum line. The album closes with My Hometown. If Born in the U.S.A. was an incredible opener, My Hometown is an incredible closer. The track sonically and musically offers a contrast to the rest of the songs on the album as it is a softer tone. This softer tone gives the track an underappreciated and understated sense of beauty.

Conclusion

I probably could have picked any four songs of feature in this review. There is really isn’t a dud on the album, which is awesome. This album is now 31 years old and still gets regular airplay on classic rock and rock radio stations nationwide. There are very few artists and bands that can write songs that touch the more stereotypical Average Joe in the way that Springsteen can. It’s a hell of an album that has obviously influenced a generation of musicians and artists and will continue to influence generations to come.

Year 3, Day 33: Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon

Year 3, Day 33: Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon

Track List

  1. Speak to Me
  2. Breathe
  3. On the Run
  4. Time
  5. The Great Gig in the Sky
  6. Money
  7. Us and Them
  8. Any Colour You Like
  9. Brain Damage
  10. Eclipse

About the Album

The Dark Side of the Moon is the eighth studio album from English progressive rock band, Pink Floyd. The album was recorded from June 1972 to January 1973 and released early March 1973 to mass critical acclaim. The album topped the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes for a week and remained on the charts for over 15 years (741 weeks). The album has sold well over 50 million(!) copies, which makes it the most commercially successful Pink Floyd album ever and as well as one of the best selling albums worldwide.

Thoughts on the Album

Let me tell you guys something, it’s always an amazing sensation and feeling when we discover a new artist or an artist whose music that speaks to us in some profound way. Whether we find them in a local record store or through the internet or through a music streaming service. It is such an awesome thrill, a surreal experience when we first hit play, and the music comes on and immediately blows us away. For me, discovering these artists and bands that were well before my time makes that feeling hurt even more.

Regardless of whether or not they’ve actually heard Pink Floyd before, everyone knows the band’s name. Most of the time when you mention Pink Floyd one of two albums comes to mind… The Wall and of course, today’s album, The Dark Side of the Moon. Of course regardless of whatever I have to say today about this album, it’s probably has been said millions of times before.

Pink Floyd is an acquired taste. They made some weird and strange music, but at the same time its some unbelieveable music. There is a good reason as to why the album has held up to the passage of time over the last 42 years. One of these reasons is that the songs of this album deal with the problems of life; and the production of this album is well of its time.

Beginning with a 90 second instrumental titled, Speak to Me, the album begins with a gradual fade in of a synthesized heartbeat. The song perfectly sets the tone for the album. It’s a mesmerizing track that is richly layered with a mix of sound effects, maniacal laughter, and bits of speech. The track ends with the pained and soaring vocals of Clare Torry, whose same vocals are found on Great Gig in the Sky.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is the sixth track, Money. The Track seemingly presents a paradox…

Money, it’s a crime. Share it fairly, but don’t take a slice of my pie.

The paradox, is tongue-in-cheek commentary on greed and capitalism. The track is an epic mix of looping cash register, ripping paper money, and coins clinking together with Roger Waters’ rolling blues bass line. The track tempo starts at an unorthodox 7/8 and gradually changes to 4/4. This tempo change sets the tone for what I can only describe as an epic and justly awesome guitar solo from David Gilmour.

Brain Damage, is a track that was inspired by the mental breakdown of Syd Barrett. One could argue that Brain Damage is the culmination of all the songs prior to it. It has a recognizable guitar arpeggio that cascades before the introduction. The song starts off slow and gradually builds to it’s soaring chorus.

Conclusion

A mix of subtle lyrics and brilliant musicianship, The Dark Side of the Moon is a classic. Whether it’s tracks like Money or Brain Damage, or the iconic album cover, the album should be instantly recognizable by everyone, regardless of whether or not they’ve heard it before. It’s tongue-in-cheek commentary of everyday life issues is absolutely brilliant. Everyone can relate to one or more of these issues that songs on this album offer commentary on. Give a listen.

Year 3, Day 32: Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head

Year 3, Day 32: Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head

Track List

  1. Politik
  2. In My Place
  3. God Put a Smile upon Your Face
  4. The Scientist
  5. Clocks
  6. Daylight
  7. Green Eyes
  8. Warning Signs
  9. A Whisper
  10. A Rush of Blood to the Head
  11. Amsterdam

About the Album

A Rush of Blood to the Head is the second studio album from British alternative rock band, Coldplay. The album, recorded from September 2001 to May 2002, was released in late August 2002 through British record label Parlophone and through Capitol Records in the United States. Upon its release, the album topped the UK Albums Chart its first week in the United Kingdom. The album is also the eighth biggest-selling album of the 21st century in the United Kingdom. The album peaked at number five on the United States Billboard 200. The album is certified 9x Platinum in the United Kingdom (2.7MM sold) and 4x Platinum in the United States (4.925MM sold).

Thoughts on the Album

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know: “OMG U LIEK COLDPLAY! OMG UR SO GAY! U SUK ND UR TASTE IN MUSIC SUKS TOO!” I get it. people don’t like Coldplay. I do. The band’s softer and mellower sound helps keep my more harder, louder, and in-your-face taste in music grounded. But it’s whatever, you know? As I said before, people like what they like. Music is completely subjective.

That said, ANYWAY… if people were expecting a sophomore slump from Coldplay, yeah that wasn’t happening. Their sophomore release, A Rush of Blood to the Head was so incredibly big, that in the United Kingdom alone, it is nine times platinum. Almost five times platinum in the United States. That’s how big it was. The album itself has been lauded as one of the greatest of all time. While some will obviously debate that, what the album is, is a truly brilliant and excellent second album. A Rush of Blood to the Head is an album that proves that less equals more.

The album opens with something odd from Coldplay: a rocker. Coldplay isn’t exactly known for hard rocking songs, but they made one with Politik. It is a mix of a rock ballad and hard rock, an odd combination. It begins like thunder, and calms back down, and builds back up all powerful like thunder again. What stands out on this album is the songwriting and lyrics, something that has usually frontman, Chris Martin’s writing. There are no cheesy clichés or anything that is considered cringeworthy bad mush or drivel.

In My Place follows PolitikIn My Place, the first single off the album, is a very contagious track. It is a song that blooms like a flower in the sunlight. It opens with a chiming guitar riff which is carried along by Martin’s crooning as well as filled in by the that’s enough bass from Berryman and drums from Champion.

Probably the most recognizable song from the album and from the band overall, Clocks, is the fifth track. Instantly recognizable from it’s opening piano riff, as the rest band joins in. While repetitive, I highly doubt anyone could really say anything bad about this song. Hell, I’m pretty sure this is probably the one Coldplay song everyone as on their music playing device. The beauty of this song, besides the piano riffs, is the bass work. Why? Because if it was any more difficult, complex, or highly technical sounding, the song would be ruined. In fact “just enough” perfectly describes it. What makes this song a classic is the bridge. The Bridge features Martin going through vocal ranges on the power-filled line “And Nothing Else Compares“.

Other highlights include The Scientist with it’s beautiful piano and gradually building sound. God Put a Smile Upon Your Face could be Yellow part 2, except it’s more hipper and uplifting.

Conclusion

A Rush of Blood to the Head is a more diverse sounding album when compared to the band’s debut. Give it a bit of patience, and I believe you will love this album. Majority of the songs on the album either brings something new, or builds on previous successes, or reworks previous failures. It’s all about taking chances with this album… so why don’t you? This is an amazing album, definitely needed for any collection.

Year 3, Day 31: Metallica – Kill ‘Em All

Year 3, Day 31: Metallica – Kill ‘Em All

Track List

  1. Hit the Lights
  2. The Four Horsemen
  3. Motorbreath
  4. Jump in the Fire
  5. (Anesthesia) – Pulling Teeth
  6. Whiplash
  7. Phantom Lord
  8. No Remorse
  9. Seek & Destroy
  10. Metal Militia

About the Album

Kill ‘Em All is the debut studio album from heavy metal band, Metallica. Recorded in May of 1983, the album was released in late July of the same year. The album was released through independent record label, Megaforce. Since the album was released, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has certified this album triple platinum, selling well over three million copies in the United States of America alone.

Thoughts on the Album

If you are searching for the birth of thrash metal, look no further than Metallica‘s 1983 debut release, Kill ‘Em All. What Metallica did on this album was take the new wave of British heavy metal acts such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and fused it with the velocity of hardcore punk and Motörhead. What drives this is album is James Hetfield’s high technical style of playing rhythm guitar. But if you think about it after listening through, the rest of the band is just as ambidextrous, adapting and playing with a sense of highly controlled righteous fury, even when the tempo kicks it up to breakneck speed.

The album starts off with the track, Hit the Lights. The track begins with the guitars slowing building and fading in before drummer Lars Ulrich starts blasting away on a pattern. Guitarists Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield then begin to figuratively set their guitar’s frets on fire with fiery riffs. The highlight of the track is the careening and crashing and almost screeching guitar solos. The only issue I have with this song is the production quality. In fact there are quite a few songs on this album with terrible production.

The next track, The Four Horsemen, is about just that. Arguably the most complete song on this album (see also, Whiplash and Seek & Destroy), every instrument on this track does it’s own thing; has it’s own part. The chorus is pretty amazing and the highlight has to be the guitar solo towards the end of the song.

Track six, is my personal favorite off this album. Whiplash. It is the probably the fastest paced song on the album that comes at the listener with the velocity of an Aroldis Chapman fastball (est. 103.3 miles per hour). The guitar riffs on this track empower it; the guitar work on this song is what turns it into a complete (and epic) masterpiece. If you want to be a thrash metal guitarist, you need to listen to this song and study it.

Seek & Destroy arguably Metallica’s most successful songs in the history of the band. The production on this song is next to perfect. Every member of the band is in perfect cohesion and harmony on this song. While slightly slower paced when compared to other songs on the album, it was like the band said, “okay, okay, fine. we’ll it slow it down for like 30 seconds”. But that doesn’t mean the face-melting rock music stops. Highlighting the track are awesome riffs, an amazing solo, and of course a huge soaring chorus.

Conclusion

Adrenaline starts to flow, you’re thrashing all around, acting like a maniac… here we go!

That’s right. WHIPLASH! I remember in high school a friend of mine got me listening to Metallica. I was hooked. For a debut album, it’s a hell of one. Face-melting guitar riffs, blistering guitar solos, head banging, etc etc. I understand this album would have turned off some metal purists because interspersed the album is a mixture of metal and hardcore punk. I also understand that some would be turned off from the sheer rawness of the sound; but lets be honest here, you don’t listen to thrash metal for squeaky clean quality. But seriously, this album, along with Ride the LightningMaster of Puppets, and even the controversial Black (self-titled) album have to be owned in any metalhead’s collection. Listen for some of the most awesome guitar work.

WHIPLASH!

Year 3, Day 30: Brand New – The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

Year 3, Day 30: The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

Track List

  1. Sowing Season
  2. Millstone
  3. Jesus Christ
  4. Degausser
  5. Limousine (MS Rebridge)
  6. You Won’t Know
  7. Welcome to Bangkok
  8. Not the Sun
  9. Luca
  10. Untitled
  11. The Archers Bows Have Broken
  12. Handcuffs

About the Album

The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is the third studio album from alternative rock band, Brand New. The album, recorded from March 2005 to April 2006 was released on November 20 2006 through major record label, Interscope Records. The album debuted at number 31 on the Billboard 200 in the United States

Thoughts on the Album

In the world of music, it is usually very rare to see such an emotional and personal album be almost universally well received by a mass audience. With The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, it seems as if it’s frontman Jesse Lacey doing battle with his inner demons in this album, rather than making this something his fans would enjoy more. But therein lies a difference between most other bands and this album… this album beautifully (and brilliantly) balances battling inner demons and creating an album that fans would enjoy, all whilst leaning towards the former.

Compared to previous releases, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, brings a new level of aggression and passion that wasn’t seen before. Every track on this album has a story to tell: whether it’s Sowing Season‘s account of the death of friends. Or Millstone‘s almost inner monologue about faith in God and one’s love for their parents. And while I can see this being consider “depressing” from some listeners, but I believe the album reflects the battles are raging on the inside of every one of us.

The album opens with Sowing Season, track that opens with lulling guitars before they explode into a seeming wall of aggression. This aggression brings with it, melodic wails of “Yeah”. It’s the drums and guitars that help create the a kind of emotion that Jesse Lacey wants you to hear and feel. The guitars are wailing, crying, while the drums are the heartbeat. Millstone continues on with the sound of this album, while appealing to older Brand New fans… it combines a melodic and ear-catching chorus.

Jesus Christ is an incredibly beautiful song with minimal instrumentation. This minimal amount of instrumentation sets the focus on the lyrics. It’s the lyrics we should be focused on. It’s beautiful, subdued, and sublime song that has a transition into a soaring chorus. If you are looking for the track with the most energy, look no further than The Archers’ Bows Have Broken. The track does not slow down at all and one of highest points of the album comes towards the outro of this song where the chorus is played with the addition of background vocals. For me, I just can’t really explain it with words.

Conclusion

You know, whenever I listen to this album, it is almost like I am listening in on someone. My personal favorite tracks other than Archers are: Sowing Season, Millstone, and Jesus Christ. But in all honesty, there are no bad songs on this album. It’s one of those albums designed to make you feel something. There are songs that will cut into you deep and other songs that will remind you to check yourself in check. Remember, while you will probably feel some emotional connection to any album you listen to, the main point of music is to enjoy yourself while listening.

spotify:album:2BRqfk8jL7y3egZqlc5MkU