Hello Screamer Readers!
I have been writing about music since 1988, and it’s fair to say that 2020 was the most challenging year ever for all involved in creating, recording and performing live music. There is hope that 2021 will be better, but realistically, it may be until summer or later before live concerts return.
Because there are no venues available for live performances, musicians have been putting out recordings at an ever-increasing pace. While that flood of creativity may be cathartic for musicians, it creates a dilemma for journalists. There are simply not enough hours in the day to listen to everything that gets sent to us, which is a shame because there are so many talented bands that deserve to be heard.
Because of that, Screamer Magazine is introducing a new feature: The Screamer Magazine Mixtapes. While listening to every song from every band is not possible, listening to a single song from many bands is more practical. This column will feature a review of one song each from five different bands, and will also be a big boost for newer, lesser-known bands who are getting lost in the mountain of new product being released. So, with that in mind…we present The Screamer Magazine Mixtapes, Volume 1.
With the popularity of YouTube, the concept of non-traditional instruments playing hard rock and heavy metal is no longer a novelty. Examples can be readily found of musicians playing violin and cello, covering songs by Metallica, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden. However, an accordion player doing metal? The accordion is arguably the most un-metal instrument ever, more famous for doing polka than Pantera. With that buildup, you can guess what’s coming. Feast your eyes on this video from Brazilian-based Rage In My Eyes. The song is called Winter Dream 2020 (Quarantine Version), and it will most definitely change your preexisting ideas about the accordion.
Kickin Valentina: Somebody New
Despite continuing predictions of its demise, there will always be a place for traditional hard rock with a melodic edge. Kickin Valentina is a band whose music and fashion would not seem out of place in Hollywood circa 1989. If they were a mere copycat band spitting out reruns of vintage rock it would be forgettable. However, listen to the song Somebody New. Sure, the video is pure cheese, but the song itself is a driving rocker that begs to be played at two volumes: Loud, and louder.
The Road (formerly Road to Jerusalem): John Henry
Before thrash metal, death metal, black metal, nu-metal, grind core and metal core, it was just “heavy metal.” The single John Henry will definitely appeal to fans of traditional heavy metal (dare we call it “classic metal”?) The music is heavy, but traditionally heavy in the spirit of Black Sabbath with crushing chords and a memorable, slightly disturbing dissonant guitar riff running through the song. The tempo is plodding, not rapid fire and the vocals are sung, not growled. It’s accessible enough to be edgy and brutal without taking you too far over to the dark side.
You may not know his name, but you will recognize his resume. He’s a bass player who has put in time with Dokken, Great White, House of Lords, Quiet Riot and many others. He is also an actor with credits in film, television and commercials. Sean McNabb’s latest work is a cover of the classic Albert King song Born Under a Bad Sign. It takes balls to remake such a well-known classic, but McNabb nailed this one. He’s a world-class bass player, but his talent on the four-string takes a supporting role in this case to his vocals: It’s the perfect bluesy, soulful, earthy performance that makes this song soar. As a bonus, the tune features a blistering guitar solo from Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses).
When you hear the phrase “heavy metal band from Sweden,” what are your first thoughts? Dark metal, lightning-fast double bass drum beats, screaming vocals, cryptic, unreadable band logo. Music that is not for the faint of heart, right? Even the band’s name “Dead Lord” would seem to fit the part.
Naturally, there are exceptions to every rule, and Dead Lord is at your service to shatter the stereotype. Their music is a throwback to classic hard rock: Think Deep Purple, KISS, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy. Twin guitar attack powered by a wall of Marshall amps. Even better, not only do they rock, they also have a sense of humor, as is evidenced by the trailer to their live show:
The live show will be online until February 15, and it’s worth it, so don’t wait!
Send submissions to: Richard Rosenthal at Richard@ScreamerMagazine.com