Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Random Ten - #2

1. Tool "The Pot" from 10,000 Days

One of the hit singles (if you can call anything Tool does a "hit single") from their latest album, 2006's 10,000 Days, "The Pot" sounds a lot poppier than a lot of things Tool has done in the past, but that doesn't mean it doesn't rock. The bouncy bass and drums really propel the song, with some cool riffs thrown in throughout, and a great atmospheric part in the middle where there's some lead basswork, always a plus, in my book. Many people thought Maynard's voice was a lot different on this song than it had been in the past, but he uses a lot more of his higher register on this song than he had done in quite some time, bringing to mind some of the groovier, less-complicated material found on Undertow.

2. Amon Amarth "Without Fear" from Once Sent From the Golden Hall

This album, to me, is Amon Amarth's best. From The Avenger-onwards, they basically turned into the AC/DC of Viking Death Metal. This album had a lot more speed and melody than their later releases, before they started sounding like a watered-down hybrid of Entombed, Dismember, Unleashed, and "insert Swedish death metal band here". "Without Fear" is a decent track from this album, with some good riffs and great drumming from Martin Lopez, just before he joined Opeth. I'm not a fan of what this band has done since; it's solid, but just not my cup of tea. This song is no "Ride for Vengeance" or "Victorious March," but it's solid nonetheless.

3. Judas Priest "Screaming for Vengeance" from Screaming for Vengeance

Title-track from one of Priest's best albums, and probably the best song on that album. Halford absolutely wails on this one, and the riffing is reminiscent of older Priest classics like "Hell Bent for Leather" and "Tyrant". One of my favorite songs in the Priest catalogue, and one that was greatly covered by Iced Earth on Tribute to the Gods. Check it out.

4. Green Day "Are We the Waiting" from American Idiot

This song is more or less a glorified intro to the song "St. Jimmy," but it also stands alone as a very solid song. A sing-along ballad of sorts, the arpeggiated guitar chords are almost U2-esque, but the lyrics and vocals are undoubtedly 100% Green Day. One of the mellower songs from American Idiot, this and "Homecoming" are my two favorites from that album. I was a Green Day fan in my early teens, and sort of "outgrew" them as I matured and started listening to heavier, more complex material, but the songwriting on American Idiot is about as good as it gets for innovative, modern rock. And I don't think I ever thought I'd use the words "Green Day" and "innovative" in the same sentence, but an anti-Bush America rock opera released in 2004 was pretty ballsy, and also a great album to boot.

5. Ryan Adams "Off Broadway" from Easy Tiger

I saw Ryan Adams and the Cardinals open with a rocking version of this acoustic ballad in Boston in early September, and it made me seek out the studio version. The live version was reminiscent of "There, There" by Radiohead, whereas this album version is a stripped-down ballad with just acoustic guitars, sparse piano and very light percussion. Probably my favorite song of Ryan's from his last few albums, the lyrics tell a great story and the music is somber and subdued. I'm no hardcore Ryan fan, but I do like a great deal of his material, and this is a great song no matter how you slice it.

6. Alice in Chains "A Little Bitter" from Last Action Hero - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

I'm a huge AIC fan, and I almost forgot that this song existed until it showed up on my shuffle today. The "other" song from Last Action Hero ("What the Hell Have I?" was the big hit), this song has an atmospheric verse with those sinister Layne Staley harmonies, with a funky bassline underneath, but the chorus is some chugging, metal-esque riffing. For such an AIC die-hard, I've always overlooked this song, and I'm not really sure why, because it's really clicking with me today. I think I'll start listening to this more often.

7. Voivod "Astronomy Domine" from Nothingface

Voivod's first and only exposure to MTV in the early 90's was due to this Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd cover, from the fantastic Nothingface. This song isn't a heck of a lot different than the Floyd version, just adding a lot more distortion to the guitars, and some heavier pounding on the drums, but it's basically a hard rock version of a psychedelic classic, and if you liked the original you'd probably like this. Probably the most mainstream that Voivod ever sounded, aside from some of the songs on 2003's Voivod, that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Great cover of a great song by a great, underrated, legendary metal band.

8. Dave Matthews Band "#40" from Listener Supported

Not one of my favorite DMB songs, to be honest. I know a lot of fanboys love this song because of it being a rarity and all that, but it's a pretty standard, low key DMB song, with nothing too great on the instrumental front, at least not on this version. I know it's pretty much just a segue to something more upbeat and rocking, but it's not really my type of DMB song.

9. Black Sabbath "Hand of Doom" from Paranoid

You really can't go wrong with any song from this album, and "Hand of Doom" is no exception. The mellow opening with just the bass and tom-toms, with Ozzy lowly singing over them just prepare you for the chorus to unleash fury on you, which it does massively. Essentially a loud blues jam, "Hand of Doom" is very rooted in Sabbath's early days as a bar band called Earth, where they played jazz and blues standards amped up to hard rock levels. I love how about 2 minutes into the song it changes completely and goes into a more swinging, rocking Sabbath anthem, almost sounding like a completely new song, but it all flows together great. Everyone thinks of "Iron Man," "War Pigs" and "Paranoid" from this album, but this song is just as powerful.

10. Kiss "I Want You" from Rock and Roll Over

One of the heavier, more dynamic Kiss songs from their post-Destroyer 70's output, "I Want You" opens up the very underrated Rock and Roll Over, which is almost as good as Destroyer, and blows Love Gun out of the water. Hard to believe all of those albums were released in under a 2 year span, so it's no surprise that a majority of the output is filler. "I Want You," however, is not. The opening acoustic guitar and Stanley's vocals have you thinking they've gone soft into ballad territory to open an album, and then the song kicks you in the teeth. One of my favorite songs by Kiss, and some could argue it all went severely downhill after this album.

Well, that does it for the second installation of the Random Ten. I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and musings yet again. Stay tuned for more excitement tomorrow.


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