“Gold” by Styx

Artist: Styx
Title: “Gold” (remaster)
Label: Universal Music
Release Date:
Genre: Progressive Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

Styx is a band who many feel were one of the finest of the Progressive Hard Rock outfits ever established and this view finds little argument when you add up the number of hit makers they have in their songbook. “Gold” has done right by the fans in its issue because unlike a typical greatest hits package that gives you but a sampling, this as an anthology works very well and touches upon a lot more music. While no release can ever capture every single amazing song that a group might have I think that 35 selections is a great start for any fan. As you peruse this particular track listing you do find a representation from some of their most pivotal and respected albums. The band was started in the early 60’s under a different name eventually becoming Styx for the release of their first record in 1972. The brothers Panozzo, Dennis DeYoung and James “JY” Young formed the nucleus of what was to become a musical blockbuster. Eventually recruiting Tommy Shaw the band would mix powerful Melodic Arena-styled Rock with elements of Progressive bands of the day. Listen to “Lorelei” on Equinox if you have any doubts on that. The band would find a breakthrough epic in their release “The Grand Illusion” and lead them to the chart-topping “Paradise Theatre”. Songs from all of these albums are here to enjoy (with five of them from “Paradise” alone). There is even some music from the confusing “Kilroy Was Here”, an album that essentially caused the end of the band of the time before the reunions with varied memberships would take place in the following years.
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“Live To Win” by Paul Stanley

Artist: Paul Stanley
Title: “Live To Win”
Label: New Door Records/Universal Music
Release Date: 10/24/2006
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

Paul Stanley of KISS is a man who needs no introduction as for over 30 years he has been the Starchild, a front man without peer, a legendary performer and the epitome of the words “Rock Star”. Paul is truly a man who has done it all and now to the delight of his millions of fans he has recorded and released his second solo album of totally new songs. Fans of KISS need not worry about this being a cloned record of his career highlights or a revisit to the killer solo album he released in tandem to the other KISS members in 1978, but instead will find a tasty and well-produced Hard Rock recording. Entitled “Live To Win”, the album starts off with a positive message on how to handle ones life and it is a classic sounding rocker. The album itself is full of mixed feels and this is probably because of the various writers Paul had helping him. The presence of Desmond Child, a long time writing partner of Paul’s is there and that is fine by me but I was left wondering why he felt the need to use other song-writers who are more geared to the contemporary Pop scene than to that of a classic Hard Rocker like Paul. Fans will not find the same impact on this recording like the old 1978 album, but this is because time and musical climate has changed since then. Songs like “Lift” sounds like something you would expect to find Evanescence doing but Paul’s pure and powerful voice makes this style work. “Bulletproof” and “Where Angels Dare” have some KISS-like vibe ala their “Crazy Nights” or “Smashes, Thrashes, Hits” years with a sleek and polished drive and highly catchy lyrical content. The key that all listeners must be aware of is the fact that this is NOT a KISS record, and just new music from Paul. His band is largely studio players but he also has former KISS band mate Bruce Kulick and John 5 handling some guitar. On the coming tour Paul will have the “House Band” from the hit television series Rock Star: INXS & Supernova. That should be exciting since those guys could play.
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“Hide From The Sun” by The Rasmus

Artist: The Rasmus
Title: “Hide From The Sun”
Label: DRT Entertainment
Release Date: 10/10/2006
Genre: Melodic Rock
Rating: 4/5

The Rasmus are another one of those “overnight sensations” from Helsinki, Finland who are not overnight at all and instead have been releasing albums since 1996. Yes, it seems like Finland is giving the world another band that is set to become the “next big thing” and watching the countries output over the last few years with Children Of Bodom, Nightwish, H.I.M and The 69 Eyes this could be a very good thing. “Hide From The Sun” bears some uncanny resemblance to the sound of Gothic Melodic Rockers H.I.M., yet unlike their Finnish Brothers in music, The Rasmus are not as Dark and Melancholy with their songs. There is a slightly similar groove to be found on tracks like “Keep Your Heart Broken” and “No Fear” but beyond that it is a totally different band. There is little emphasis on Death and lost love like H.I.M. is delivering on a regular basis. The resulting hit potential in tracks like “Night After Night” and “Sail Away” are quite high (I come to this conclusion based on my humming the chorus parts after only a couple of listens). The album is their sixth but is only the first to reach the US shores and the amount of sleek tracks that it has there is little doubt that they will be one of the most successful bands of this type of genre to hit the music scene of today. It’s a lot better than some of the other music the young listener is focused on so let’s hope for that niche to make room for them. The band does not truly bear the Gothic label, but does have a twist of it tossed in for taste with “Lucifer’s Angel” and “Don’t Let Go” and if that demographic catches on to the group is could cause them to give Ville a run for his money. Lead singer Lauri Ylonen has a wonderful texture and passion to his voice and by the look of his photos, he will soon adorn the lockers of students in schools across the nation. The other members of the group are Pauli Rantasalmi (guitar), Eero Heinonen (bass) and Aki Hakala (drums) and the quartet rocks.
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“The Best Of Type O Negative” by Type O Negative

Artist: Type-O-Negative
Title: “The Best Of Type O Negative”
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 9/26/2006
Genre: Gothic Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

Slamming down a mix of Gothic meets Doom Heavy Metal is Type-O-Negative from Brooklyn, New York. The band formed out of the ashes of Peter Steele’s Thrash/Hardcore band Carnivore would blend interesting melodies along with some crunching Doom-laden riffs ala Black Sabbath. The mixture would find them being labeled as a tad Gothic and the singer’s often dismal outlook on life and humanity along with references to death and suicide made him become an idol to the Goth scenesters. However if you listen to Type-O-Negative music and review their back catalog you will find a number of different styles present on each release. They use certain melodies on regular occasion to tie the releases together and as a result offer a little sense of consistency from record to record. Despite it all Type-O-Negative does not fall under one sub-genre classification and instead falls under several different explorations which make each album an individual standing in a crowd. This “Best Of” collection features a healthy sample of the music released while the group was under the Roadrunner Records artist roster. Albums such as “Slow, Deep & Hard”, “Bloody Kisses”, “October Rust”, “World Coming Down” and “Life Is Killing Me” each bear some representation while their “faux live” CD “Origin Of The Feces” and their first compilation release “Least Worst Of” do not get any. The twelve selections find the heaviest focus on the bands two blockbuster releases “Bloody Kisses” and “October Rust”, which are in my opinion the two albums you must own after you taste this sample offering of their content. This would have been better as a double CD anthology piece but doing one disc allows Roadrunner to guarantee its purchase among old and new fans alike. Members of Type-O-Negative on the featured tracks are Peter Steele (bass/vocals), Kenny Hickey (guitar/vocals), Josh Silver (keyboards), Johnny Kelly (drums) and Sal Abruscato (1st drummer).
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Queensryche @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (9/21/2006)

Logo - Queensryche

Artist: Queensryche
Venue: Nokia Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: n/a
Date: 9/21/2006
Label: Rhino Entertainment

“I remember now, I remember how it started” – For me the experience of Queensryche started in July of 1984 as the band KISS, while on tour for their album “Animalize” had brought a new band from Seattle as their opening act. The newly signed group was as new to their recording contract as they were to the stage but believe me it did not show like this at all. The group delivered an impressive set from their new (and first) album entitled “The Warning” and while a KISS crowd is often unreceptive to the opening act, lead singer Geoff Tate was clearly a man who could handle them and hold their attention. He also sounded incredibly close to the recording and as a result, legions of KISS fans became followers of Queensryche as well. They would follow this release with their sophomore effort “Rage For Order”, and while it was an album that would give some fans pause they did not suffer a Sophomore curse and give you sub-par music. Many fans actually cite this album as a personal favorite and songs from it often bring resounding response from the audience. For their third album, there would be no resting on ones laurels and instead this would be the one to do it. The third record would be one of the best albums to hit the Progressive Metal genre ever and come to be regarded as one of the most important pieces of music of all time. The album was “Operation: Mindcrime”. It was a recording that would set Metal fans and the genre on its ear, as it was a tale full of intrigue, political viewpoints and mind control. To its credit, the album remains as strong in the minds of fans today as it did when it was originally released.
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Where Heavy Music & Pop Culture Collide

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