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Album Review: Doom Crew Inc. by Black Label Society

Black Label Society is back with album 11, aptly titled Doom Crew Inc. “Set You Free” opens the album with a sorrowful acoustic guitar that abruptly ends with Zakk Wylde’s signature chugging guitar riffs. “Set You Free” is one of the more radio friendly tracks on this record, but still packs a punch. “Destroy & Conquer” is a hellish blues metal track one could easily hear in a biker bar. The opening riff is a bit generic, but the slowed down doom riff during the song’s midsection and twin guitar leads save the song. “Forever And A Day” is an introspective ballad that shows Zakk’s soft side and is one of my favorite tracks on Doom Crew Inc. The chorus is beautifully haunting and the guitar solo heightens the feeling of loss. “End of Days” is eerily reminiscent of Alice In Chains, but is certainly not an imitation. The heavy, somber guitar riff hovers over the song like a dark cloud. Still, the dual guitars of Wylde and Dario Lorina are the track’s centerpiece as they transition from soft phrasing to sweeping arpeggios. The spirit of Black Sabbath overlooks the plodding “Gospel Of Lies.” The volcanic, foreboding opening riff sounds like something Tony Iommi wrote. The heavy blues jam during the bridge again showcases Wylde and Lorina fusing blues with shred to great effect. “Farewell Ballad” is a fitting closing. The downcast lyrics and weepy guitar evoke the reluctance of saying goodbye to a loved one. However, there is a feeling of acceptance as we realize that we have reached the end.

Doom Crew Inc. has great production. Zakk produced this album at his home studio, the Black Vatican. Each instrument is audible and the vocals sound fine. The guitars are the focal point of any Black Label Society album and they are loud and clear on this album. There is little to critique production wise.

Ultimately, BLS fans will enjoy Doom Crew Inc. The album is diverse offering cohesive blend of doom laden metal, sad ballads and blues tinged hard rock. Perhaps the one sticking point is the album’s 63 minute length. However, that is eclipsed by the band’s musicianship and the monolithic riffs of Wydle and Lorina. Doom Crew Inc. is a dedication to the band’s road crew and fans, and the band pull out all the stops on this one.

Check out the band’s offical website for news and tour dates

http://blacklabelsociety.net/

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Live Photos: Eric Johnson in Atlanta March 11, 2020

On March 11, Eric Johnson played his “A Night with Eric Johnson Tour

At the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta.  TAM Photographer Chuck Holloway

was on hand to capture the evening.  For more tour dates, visit the Eric Johnson

website.

Eric Johnson – The Center Stage – 2020

 

CD Review: “The Things We Can’t Stop” by Cold

Florida somber rock band Cold are back with its newest release in 8 years, The Things We Can’t Stop. “Shine” the initial single off the record is a rather banal track with its dreamy riff and simple drum pattern. This is not the best choice for a single as it is generic and sounds like a run of the mill alternative rock song from the past 20 years. “Snowblind” is a slow, haunting song with dissonant riffs and vocalist Scooter Ward’s melodic croon. Guitarist Nick Coyle lays out several melancholy phrases that add to the disturbing serenity of this song. The rest of the album is rather trite as each track is barely distinguishable from the other. Cold returns to its roots on the industrial tinged “Without You,” which appears in the album’s second half. The mid-tempo rocker breaks up the monotony on this record. “Quiet Now” is another notable track with its urgent vocals and saccharine vibe. “Systems Fail” has a hypnotic melody over a gloomy musical landscape. Album closer “We All Love” opens with a piano while Scooter urges everyone to stop the hate and love. It is certainly a needed message in today’s social climate, however, the track is still schmaltz.

The Things We Can’t Stop falls short of being a good record as it is too homogeneous. Cold is known for producing dark, gloomy rock but the band backs itself in to a corner on this album. There is no “Suffocate” on this record or even a “Wicked World.”Things is a somewhat aimless record where the tracks run together. This album would have sounded better with several heavier songs sandwiched between the softer tracks. However, what is done is done.

Cold fans may enjoy The Things We Can’t Stop, but this is a letdown from a band that is capable of making better music. Cold was never at the top of the hard rock or nu metal hierarchy in the early 2000s but the band carved its niche. There are things you cannot stop, however Scooter and company can certainly make a better record than this.

Check out Cold’s official website here:

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Live Photos: The Smashing Pumpkins with Noel Gallagher in Alpharetta August 21, 2019

On August 21 , The Smashing Pumpkins and Noel Gallagher played Ameris Bank Amphitheater.

TAM Photographer Chuck Holloway was on hand to capture the evening.

For more tour dates, visit Noel Gallagher and The Smashing Pumpkins websites.

Smashing Pumpkins – Cadence Bank Amphitheatre – 2019

Noel Gallagher – Cadence Bank Amphitheatre – 2019

 

Live Photos: Judas Priest & Deep Purple in Atlanta August 14

On August 14, Judas Priest and Deep Purple, brought The Firepower Tour 2018 to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

TAM Photographer Chuck Holloway was on hand to capture the evening.

For more tour dates, visit Judas Priest’s or Deep Purple’s websites.


Judas Priest – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – 2018


Deep Purple – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – 2018

Live Review: Hush Money, Magnolia Moon, and Whiskey Tango at Smith’s Olde Bar

Photos by Tori Radcliffe (Gallery at the Bottom)

The evening of August 15th hosted a slew of events in Atlanta that pulled people out of their weekly routines to venture out into the city. Dave Chappelle was in town causing a ruckus of laughter as is his style. Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling were also gracing Atlanta with their talents in a joint tour. However, the right place to be was at Smith’s Olde Bar for their showcase of some of Georgia’s own rock and roll acts. The lineup, consisting of Hush Money, Magnolia Moon, and Whiskey Tango, brought down the house as each band put years of practice into action to entertain their fans. Even some of the usual barflies drifted over to Smith’s venue to witness the talent that took the stage that night.  

First up was Hush Money, a band hailing from Ellijay. These guys played some solid hard southern rock and really showcased their talents in their performance. Hush Money is your classic four-piece band with two guitarists, a bassist with a five string bass, something that adds extra depth to their music, and a drummer. However, they don’t just have one lead singer, as that would be too dull for these good old boys. During their set, the band switched between their two guitarists and drummer taking the vocals on different songs. Yes, Hush Money has three lead singers, each with a different register. These guys are definitely a band to check out as they bring their unique multitude of talents to the Georgia music scene.

Next up for the night was Magnolia Moon, another four-piece band that graced us with their presence all the way from Macon. On first look, these guys have a very southern appearance with the expectation of possibly some country or light southern rock, but Magnolia Moon is anything but light. These guys hold true to their tagline of “grit, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll” with their wicked sound of true southern rock. Imagine if Hendrix and Lynyrd Skynyrd had a baby and you might get close to the mind-blowing music of this band. Their entire performance I had a breakout of goosebumps all over, unable to turn my attention anywhere but at Magnolia Moon. Their frontman and lead guitarist Zack Horton really owns the stage when he plays. With his band behind him, these guys are going places.  As it was their first time playing at Smith’s Olde Bar, I am really looking forward to them coming back to Atlanta. At the very least I want a taste of their cover of “War Pigs” as it would give Ozzy a run for his money.

Closing out the night was Canton’s own Whiskey Tango, yet another four-piece band that is hard to nail down just what they are. To take a stab at it, they are a glam-punk-southern rock band that puts the show in showmanship. Their lead vocalist/guitarist came out on stage to an intro by his bandmates dressed in an open-front purple leotard with a stylish coat. But instead of the standard glam 80s rock sound to match this glorious introduction, Whiskey Tango went right into their set that was brimming with savage guitar riffs, stage dives, behind-the-head guitar playing, and even a backflip. The energy they put off well exceeded the needed quota for the night as the crowd kept their attention on the stage for the next antics the band would get into. And overall, Whiskey Tango looked like they were having a blast up on stage, like the band equivalent of when your favorite song comes on the car radio and you break out in a small musical number. They even threw in a cover of “Under Pressure” that got the entire venue involved in a sing-a-long. Whiskey Tango is truly an experience, not just a band, that you have to witness in person.

Photo Gallery – Magnolia Moon & Whiskey Tango

CD Review: “Pop Evil” by Pop Evil

Pop Evil’s self-titled fifth album is centered around empowerment determination in a world of chaos and corruption. “Waking Lions” with an industrial beat before breaking out with pounding down tuned guitars. Frontman Leigh Kakaty proclaims in the chorus that he will stand tall and awaken the lions within himself to convincing effect. “Colors Bleed” is an abstract but scathing commentary on everything that has transpired in the U.S. over the past few years. The twisting, dysmorphic riffing gives wave to a tranquil midsection with a bluesy guitar lead and a spacey bass line. This will certainly become a staple on the band’s set list. “The Art Of War” sounds like a watered down Rage Against The Machine track with its rapping vocals and staccato riffing. It is not a bad song, but one of the weaker tracks on the record. “Nothing But Thieves” is the longest track on Pop Evil, and is notable for its haunting intro of piano and bells. This tracks borders on industrial rock with pop sensibilities, which makes it an interesting listen. “A Crime To Remember” is the most radio friendly track on this record. It features the schmaltzy rapping accompanied by somber piano and hip-hop beat that is all the rage these days. Rock bands need one potential hit song per album and Pop Evil are no exception.

Pop Evil stretches its musical wings on this record. There is a healthy mix of heavy songs and ballads thus avoiding any monotony. One can hear the band’s influences on these tracks which is the album’s main weakness. When you hear a track like “Art Of War” it is clearly inspired by Rage Against The Machine. However, Pop Evil are no Rage and it sounds like a cheap copy. Pop Evil’s best songs are those that are not blatant derivatives of other bands. The more mired the influence, the better the songs. “Birds Of Prey” is a good example of this as it is a mesh of hard rock, pop and electronica.

Five albums in and a decade since the release of its first record, Pop Evil are not slowing down. Pop Evil is a diverse rock album that should satisfy old fans and win over some new ones. The rock scene is fairly bland in America and Pop Evil are certainly poised to be one of the biggest rock bands in the U.S. This album, while not groundbreaking, shows a confident band ready to seize the crown.

For news and tour dates, check out Pop Evil’s website.

“The Way Life Goes” – Interview with Tom Keifer

Tom Keifer, former lead singer and guitarist for the 80’s rock band Cinderella has had a long career built around doing what he loves the most: playing the guitar, singing, and entertaining crowds all across the world. In 1986, Cinderella broke onto the hard rock scene with their debut album Night Songs and became one of the most beloved and easily recognized rock bands of the era.