1. Sister Sin - "Black Lotus" - Taking the number one slot of 2014 is Sister Sin with "Black Lotus." The fact that a band so early in their career can deliver earth shattering metal of this magnitude is simply astounding. Even within their Euro-metal style, they show the ability to be diverse on "Black Lotus" with killer tracks like the acoustic driven, "The Jinx." While each of our "Top 10" have great songs and other musical merits, this 'rookie' band amongst it's group of 'veterans' are taking the torch of metal by demand, proving that they are the front runners of the future of this genre.
2. Body Count -"Manslaughter"- Ice T shocked the metal community in 2014 with the return of Body Count by releasing the best album of their career with "Manslaughter." Whether it's their remake of Suicidal Tendencies' "Institutionalized" or the advance single, "Talk Shit, Get Shot" this album is real deal metal and Ice-T's vocal delivery is beyond words. A beginning to end master piece that came completely from left field in 2014.
3. Sebastian Bach - "Give Em Hell"- One of the biggest singers from the 80's that seems to have a love/hate relationship with the metal community, and at times, his own fan base, continues to prove to his critics that he can still deliver the goods. "Give 'Em Hell" is the perfect example of taking a classic hard rock approach and adding nu-school metal production values, giving the listener a solid body of work and something really enjoyable and 'new' to listen to. While there are a few clunkers on "Give 'Em Hell," the ones that rock, REALLY kick ass. Steve Stevens guitar playing on "Gun To a Knife Fight" is the worthy of the number 3 spot alone.
4. Slash - "World On Fire"- Finding a comfort zone between a current hard rock sound and the Guns N Roses type riffage, which attained the guitar icon the legendary status which he possesses, Slash and his Conspirators have truly set the "World on Fire" with it's 2014 release. Again, demonstrating a real 'band feel' on this album, "Word on Fire" is not a record the average listener can digest in a single listening, as this 17 song opus clocks in at just over 77 minutes of music. The amount of classic sounding GNR type licks are unreal and his soloing is as about as perfect as you can get from Slash.
5. Sixx:A.M. - "Modern Vintage"- Motley Crue mastermind Nikki Sixx's side-project, Sixx:A.M., which oddly enough was never intended to be a 'band,' shows growth once again, as this rising phoenix continues to spread it's wings and shows it's musical expansion on their 3rd full length release, "Modern Vintage." Although, the band has moved away from some of their signature musical stylings, the core has been left intact, which is great song writing by Sixx, vocalist James Michael and guitarist DJ Ashba, which there is plenty of on "Modern Vintage."
6. Overkill - "White Devil Armory"- Another band that refuses to sell out or alter it's sound, are the New Jersey kings of Thrash Metal, Overkill. Releasing perhaps the best and most consistent album since 1996's "Killing Kind" CD, "White Devil Armory" is the most convincing, old school sounding metal album I've heard in years. Songs like "Bitter Pill" are pure riffing genius and the Metallica influenced "Where's there's Smoke" sounds like it could have come right off of "Master of Puppets."
7. Accept - "Blind Rage" - Since the reformation of Accept in 2009 by original members, Wolf Hoffmann and Peter Baltes, this band can do no wrong. This is Accept's third release with vocalist, Mark Tornillo, and they just keep getting better and better with each record. Brutally intense riffs with screaming banshee vocals are mixed together, resulting in an anthematic metal masterpiece.
8. Dave Constantino Band - "Touch"- Buffalo, NY music legend, Dave Constantino, triumphantly returns with his second solo release. 'Touch' is a ten-song, blues-rock masterpiece, with incredible musicianship that features well-crafted, late-night bar room rockers, fueled by a unique and uncompromising nasty guitar tone that would warrant the attention and admiration of any guitar-loving fan. This is a release that deserves to be heard over and over again.
9. Red Dragon Cartel - "Red Dragon Cartel"- After decades in obscurity, ex Ozzy/Badlands guitarist, Jake E. Lee, returns with an ambitious new band. But, its Lee's amazing guitar that is still the focal point on this diverse and impressive release. Interestingly, Lee utilizes five guest vocalists, which include Robin Zander, Maria Brinks, Paul Di'Anno, in addition to full time singer-Darren Smith. The first single, "Feeder," which features Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), has a bit of a modern edge, and was well received. However, songs like the riff-heavy, Black Sabbath-influenced, "War Machine," are the style of songs that fans of Jake E. Lee desire the most.
10.Tesla - "Simplicity"- Jeff Keith and the boys are like a late 80's version of AC/DC. Never straying from their signature sound, and in 2014, they released another album of the signature Tesla brand of 'straight ahead rock and roll.' While some of their recent releases have been better than others, "Simplicity" definitely falls into the "better" category. While "Simplicity" didn't deliver another "Modern Day Cowboy" or a "Little Suzi," this release is solid from beginning to end and rightly deserves to be part of our "Top 10" for 2014.
By John Jeffrey
Take some 90's power pop, mix it with some 70's garage rock, and sprinkle in some 50's do-wop, and you'll have a pretty close recipe to Roxie 77's "Ameriswede" EP. Ryan Roxie has been at the helm of the number one guitar slot in Alice Cooper's solo band for the better part of the past 20 years, and has figured out what Kane Roberts, Vinnie Moore, Al Pitrelli and a slew of other guitar shredders could not. Being the lead guitar player in Alice Cooper's band is not about cramming as many notes as possible into eight bars of a classic Cooper track or figuring out what the mode of the month is, but it's about being authentic and playing for the song, which is exactly what Ryan Roxie does on the "Ameriswede" EP.
While the material on Roxie 77's follow up to their 2009 release, "Two Sides To Every Story," is definitely guitar driven, it's certainly not shredder fodder and Ryan knows exactly where to throw in tasteful leads where it counts. And any guitar lover will appreciate Roxie's homage to Judas Priest's "Turbo Lover" guitar solo in the standout track, "The Solution."
The "Ameriswede" EP features 6 new songs from Roxie & Co, with 2 different mixes of each song. This release was pressed exclusively on vinyl, but when you buy the vinyl, you receive a digital download and a CD copy. Although the band originally formed in 2002, when Ryan moved to Sweden in 2006, he assembled the current lineup, which features Anton Korberg (drums), Magnus Wikstrom (Bass) and Eric Rydman (guitar/saxophone/keyboards).
At an Alice Cooper concert in 2013, Bellyache Records owner and Alice Cooper fanatic Scotty Hagen approached Roxie about the possibility of releasing a two-track 7” single on the label. The project eventually blossomed into what has become "Ameriswede." The EP features an “American” side mixed by fellow Alice Cooper guitarist Tommy Henriksen, and a “Swedish” side mixed by producer Jon Bordon.
The "American" side has a much more polished sound and the "Swedish" mixes of the songs have a much more raw sound, with an almost live/demo type quality to them. Although the arrangements for both versions are pretty similar, I think prefer the mix of the "American" side. Although, I do like the guitar tone more on the "Swedish" mix and the fact that Ryan went with an electric guitar on the "Swedish" version of "Anna" as opposed to the much too clean acoustic on the "American" counterpart.
With Roxie again on the road with Alice Cooper, continuing as the supporting act for Motley Crue’s farewell tour, fans have the opportunity to interact with Ryan as part of Roxie’s International Rock & Roll Parking Lot, his nightly pre-show meet-and-greet, where you can get your copy of the "Ameriswede" release directly from him or if you can't make it to one of the shows, you can order the vinyl (w/CD copy & digital download) directly from www.Bellyacherecords.com
by John Jeffrey
When speaking with one of the greatest drummers in rock and roll about the creative aspect of music - specifically regarding song writing - I learned that at times, there can be a tendency to wear your musical influences on your sleeve. KISS drummer Eric Singer could not have been more right when it comes to his former Alice Cooper band mate, Chuck Garric, and his new band, Beasto Blanco.
When listening to Beasto Blanco's debut CD, "Live Fast, Die Loud" (Rat Pak Records), at first glance, some may easily dismiss Beasto Blanco as a Rob Zombie wanna-be, but when you peel away the layers and get to what this band is really about, you will discover "Live Fast, Die Loud" is really a beast(o) all of it's own. While the White Zombie, Motorhead and post-2000 era Alice Cooper influences are all clearly audible, the strength of Beasto Blanco lies within the songs, as the assortment of tracks on "Live Fast, Die Loud" is one of the most consistent and cohesive records to come out in a long time. This is due in large part to the excellent production work by Tommy Henrikson. Henrikson created a strong, in your face sound, without over thinking things, and giving each song straight forward arrangements that don't sound pro-tooled to death, like a lot of other producers tend to do these days.
Garric tapped Cooper band mate Glen Sobel to lay down the drum tracks for the first three songs recorded for the "Live Fast, Die Loud" CD, which were "Freak," "Live Fast, Die Loud" and "Breakdown," which really set the tone for the rest of the album. In addition to Sobel, the remaining drum trucks were provided by Tim Husung & Jonathan Mover. The remaining cast of "Live Fast, Die Loud" features Jan Lebron (bass), Chris Latham (lead guitar), Tiffany Lowe (synth), Mr. Beasto Blanco himself - Chuck Garric (guitar/lead vocals) and Calico Cooper (backing and lead vocals during the breakdown of the song, "Live Fast, Die Loud"). Calico did a great job matching Chuck's intensity on this record, as her maniacal, twisted counterpoint backing vocals do a great job offsetting the testosterone driven guttural growls provided by Garric.
What really puts Beasto Blanco a step above most bands of their genre is the fact that they can pull off the sound of what they created on this record in a live setting. In order to recreate all of the layering and synth sounds, most acts would require the use of pre-recorded backing tracks and canned vocals, but judging from what I've seen online of their recent performances, Beasto Blanco pulls it all off live, without any 'audio augmentation.' Beasto Blanco is the real deal, and "Live Fast, Die Loud" is an album every rock music fan should own.