Monday, August 24, 2009

Thoughts Without Words: New school year, CSTs, & upcoming albums

ok so today was the first day of school and what do I think about it? Who knows...really can you tell much from the first day and only 32 minutes with each class? Here's what I do know;
  • have a lot of freshmen again, but with only one Alg. B class it shouldn't be too bad
  • 1 Alg. B, 2 Geometry, 2 Alg. 2
  • my room gets stuffy because a.c. won't go past 70, but with 38 bodies the room barely cools to 73.
  • 4th period will probably be my nosiest class simply because there are about 10 - 15 who are good friends in that class
  • it's gotta be better than last year...right?
  • only 179 days to go :-)
CSTs are coming in slowly. We have a new system, but we have been told that some of our students are missing and aren't in the right class. I looked at my Geometry and calculated it by hand and had about 56% proficient or advanced. I'm not too happy with that. 5th period was the smartest class I had and I expected a few more proficient or advances in there. 6th period nothing surprised me there. They skated through the whole year and it showed in their results. With my Alg. B classes I wasn't too surprised either. I worked it out to be 50% proficient or advanced. This was one of my lowest groups of students and I told my dean that before 1st semester ended that my scores would be down alot because of the students' inability to be responsible and proactive. Oh well life goes on.

New music in September should be a good one. New Shadows Fall & Megadeth. The 3 songs form Megadeth I have heard sound like it could be the best stuff since TWNAH. I like the guitar tone, thanks to Andy Sneap I suppose. And as for Shadows Fall, I have heard 3 songs from their new album as well and it sounds a lot better than Threads of Life. Hoping for two great releases this month. Right now, Susperia is probably my album of the year...who would have thought? Don't get me wrong, Susperia is one of my favorite bands, but this album didn't hit me like Unlimited or Cut From Stone. I will say they are writing some of the best thrash/heavy metal right now.

that's it for now. I gotta talk about 2 of my new favorite tv shows next time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tirades of Truth: Megadeth - The World Needs a Hero

So another "Tirades of Truth" review today. And the question might be, why review an album that is almost 10 years old? Well Megadeth does have a new album coming out on the 15th of September and I like to go back and look at where a band has been to see where they are going.

So I have talked about Megadeth's career in depth on this blog before, but I never spent any time looking at the albums specifically. Today I will look at one of the most underrated Megadeth albums of all time, The World Needs a Hero (TWNAH for short).

Now this album came out after Risk, which was a huge flop for metal fans. The album was nothing more than a pop rock album. It's so bad, I don't even want to talk about it. I mean for what it was, it isn't bad, but it's not Megadeth.

Dave Mustaine said it was a return to form, and there was even a track called Return to Hangar (sequel to Hangar 18). Now Metallica did the whole The Unforgiven II and it back fired, so right away fans were thinking this was bad.

Another problem was the 2 new songs on the greatest hits album. Kill the King was released and was awesome. The opening riff made you realize Megadeth was back. The solo was nothing great or special, but it didn't matter. This one song destroyed Risk and most of Cryptic Writings. The other song, Dread and the Fugitive Mind, was better than Kill the King. So what was the problem? Well people compalined that it sounded too similar to Sweating Bullets. Does it? Just the verses, but that's it everything else is different.

Then there was the voice overs. On two songs you have someone talking during the songs, to add something to the song I guess. I won't lie, it bugs me. I can't defend it.

Other problems that plagued the album were; it leaked on the internet over a year before it was released...huh? Yeah, they delivered the album to Capitol Records for it to be their last album ever. Then they changed their minds and decided we want it back. So CR released a greatest hits album instead, with 2 new songs (Kill the King & Dread and the Fugitive Mind). So the completed album sat there and was leaked. Now to Dave's credit, he went back and reworked some other songs to make them different, notably Coming Home and Moto Pyscho having their back to back connections (this was a lot better than what we got by the way). But since it was leaked the "fans" and naysayers picked the album apart before it even hit the stores. Complaints like "oh they copied Am I Evil? & Call of Ktula" or Dread and the Fugitive Mind is just like Sweating Bullets or Return to Hangar is a sell out song because it's a sequel like Metallica. Or, my favorite, Recipe for Hate...Warhorse sucks because it uses "..." like Holy Wars ... The Punishment Due. Seriously, these were all common complaints on the boards at

So what is good about it? Everything. The production is top notch. The guitar tone is perfect. It reminds me so much of Countdown to Extinction. Dave's voice sounds great and the treading off of solos is very reminicent of early Megadeth. Do you like playing air guitar? Then this is the album for you. How about solos that last 2 -3 minutes? Yes...2 - 3 minutes. It's simply insane. And it's not the solos that show off how well the guitarist can play the scales, but actual solos that carry the overall harmony of the song. A solo like on Disconnect isn't fast, but it is one of the most powerful solos on the album. Then you have insane solos like Recipe for Hate...Warhorse, Return to Hangar, Dread and the Fugitive Mind, and When. I should also mention Promises. It's the one ballad and it is a classic. It fits perfectly into this album and most fans really love this song. The strings in the background add so much to the song. Great song.

There is only one filler on here as well, Losing My Senses. That song sticks out like a sore thumb and shouldn't be on the album...Kill the King fits better.

Now how does it compare to The Sytem has Failed or United Abominations? Well I like it better than both because of the production and songs. TSHF was good, but after the first 4 songs or so it didn't feel like a Megadeth album. In fact, it wasn't supposed to be. It was supposed to be a solo album...I can get into that another day I guess. UA also starts off strong and finishes pretty strong, but the middle is eh. Overall, TWNAH is more of a complete Megadeth album then the others. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who Decides: albums of the year

So with 2009 quickly approaching its final quarter the question of album of the year starts to loom even more. I have made it quiet clear that this year has been a little disappointing for me. Maybe it's a natural let down from the awesome year that was 2008...who knows.

Here's what I do know. September will give us new Shadows Fall and Megadeth records. October was supposed to give us the new Anthrax, but they fired their new singer so that album is up in the air. And I really don't know of any other albums that are supposed to be released this year.

So what does that mean for my top 10? Well as of right now, I would probably give the album of the year to either Susperia, DevilDriver, or Nightrage. Now, some might be thinking ... ok those are good albums so what's the problem? Well the problem isn't in the albums, they are solid, but they aren't as good as their last albums. Attitude is a catchy and heavy affair from Susperia ... but is it better than Cut From Stone? No. Same goes for Devildriver, Pray For Villains is good, but it's not better than The Last Kind Words. The Last Kind Words built upon The Fury of Our Maker's Hand. It took was a nice step from really good to great. But Nightrage is probably the biggest offender. I love every Nightrage album. Tompa's vocals on the first two albums plus the guitar work of Gus G. & Marios made those At The Gates-like. With A New Disease is Born, everything was raised to a new level. Tompa was gone, but Jimmie Strimell did an excellent job of singing (not just screaming) on the album. I was totally ready for another Nightrage release. But something happened on the way to their latest, Wearing a Martyr's Crown, they got a new vocalist. I don't think he is bad, just not as dynamic as Jimmie or original as Tompa. The guitar work is still memorable and top notch, but the vocals Now I know that those were released in 2007 and it shouldn't affect 2009, but it does. After a great album, I guess I just expect more from a band.

So there are a bunch of new artists that have released really solid debut or second albums. Bands like Dirge Within (defintely for fans of Sanctity), Animals as Leaders (instrumental), The Sorrow, Arkaea (Fear Factory meets Threat Signal), and Evita (great metalcore) could make a run for that top stop.

Then there are some bands that have totally bounced back from disappointing albums. It Dies Today ditched the whole emo sound and went back to more of an original sound with Lividity. The new stuff they have released so far sound really promising. The other is The Autumn Offering. Fear Will Cast No Shadow was boring and unoriginal...and that's being nice. Throw in a new vocalist and you quickly forgot that The Autumn Offering was once a great band mixing modern thrash with some metalcore breakdowns in for good measure. Well, Requiem took me by surprise. It's a ton better than FWCNS, but it's not Embrace the Gutter. It still has it's emo moments, but they are defintely back on track.

The top spot is really wide open. There are a bunch of good to really good albums out there this year, but nothing great. Hopefully, Shadows Fall and Megadeth can change that.