BravePicks 2017 - The Scribes Speak! Rich Catino

January 10, 2018, 11 months ago

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BravePicks 2017 - The Scribes Speak! Rich Catino

BravePicks 2017 - The Scribes Speak!
Rich Catino

Top 20 of 2017
1) THRESHOLD - Legends Of The Shires (Nuclear Blast)
2) ICED EARTH – Incorruptible (Century Media)
3) SORCERER - The Crowning of the Fire King (Metal Blade)
4) MARK SLAUGHTER - Halfway There (EMP)
5) ACCEPT - The Rise of Chaos (Nuclear Blast)
6) FIREWIND – Immortals (Century Media)
7) OVERKILL - The Grinding Wheel (Nuclear Blast)
8)  ECLIPSE – Never Look Back (Frontiers)
9)  EVIL INVADERS - Feed Me Violence (Napalm)
10) PORTRAIT – Burn The World (Metal Blade)
12) POWER QUEST - Sixth Dimension (Inner Wound Recordings)
13) WARRANT - Louder Harder Faster (Frontiers)
14) HOUSE OF LORDS - Saint of the Lost Souls (Frontiers)
15) JEFF SCOTT SOTO – Retribution (Frontiers)
16) VULTURE - The Guillotine (High Roller)  
17) APPICE – Sinister (Steamhammer)
18) CRAZY LIXX - Ruff Justice (Frontiers) 
19) LYNCH MOB - The Brotherhood (Rat Pak Records)
20) NIGHT DEMON – Darkness Remains (Steamhammer)

Top 3 Concerts
IRON MAIDEN/GHOST - Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
DIRKSCHNEIDER - Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ

Top 5 Brave Embarrassments
STEELHEART - Through Worlds Of Stardust (Frontiers).  
Ok, Miljenko Matijevic still got the voice and pipes, but what band is he singing for? I’m all for a group trying different things, evolving, but this surely isn’t the same Steelheart who recorded the self-titled 1990 debut and Tangled In Reins (1992).   
HAVOK – Conformicide (Century Media)
I really like their last two albums, Unnatural Selection, and especially Time Is Up.  Smoking throwback ‘80s thrash metal that balanced between the fast and mid tempo songs.  On Conformicide - was hoping they would grow with the vocals, less yelling more singing, and expand on the melody within structure. Also, I’m not feeling the Suicidal Tendencies influenced funky bass. Still, Conformicide does have a couple enjoyable grooves, thrash and dynamic moments.
QUIET RIOT - Road Rage (Frontiers).  
Kind of felt they ran out of steam years ago for making new music, but the kid from American Idol as the new singer? Geeze. Should have choose a more seasoned person. Better yet, just stick to living off your past. 
WITCHERY- I Am Legion (Century Media).  
I’m a long time fan, and dug the balance between thrash and black metal in their style. They really hit the nail on the head with the albums Restless & Dead, Symphony for the Devil, and Don't Fear The Reaper. But the last three albums not so much.
STEEL PANTHER - Lower The Bar (Open E Music). 
Boy, have they. And yes, I get the joke, but its unfortunately because there is so much potential if you heard the album Balls Out. Problem is they took the parody too far and continue writing like juvenile middle schoolers, beating a dead horse. And what’s worse they are giving a bad name for the great ‘80s hard rock metal bands, and the newer ones like Crazy Lixx, or Eclipse from Sweden.  
What/Who Needs To Stop In 2018
All this attention and support for a stupid corporate studio band like Baby Metal, LOL.  Hello, people, they didn’t even know what heavy metal music was. It’s like the Milli Vanilli of “metal”, and as bad as a Limp (Dick) Biscuit. So disingenuous. Real bands, those who love the metal deserve this kind of support and attention.  And while not as bad, even a band like Gloryhammer, who appear to enjoy what they do, those ridiculous costumes and song lyrics add to the stigma of “cheesy” European power metal. It’s like a second generation Dragonfarce.
Thoughts On 2017
 With webzines like BraveWords always giving as much press as possible to newer younger bands - artists from the new generation to carry on hard rock and heavy metal music for the future…why are more bands not growing bigger than just playing clubs in the US? It seems band’s continue to tour more in European countries over North America because the music is not supported like it should…unless of course if you are a retro name from the ‘70s and ‘80s.  Damn, people, at least the masses…why do you continue to live in the past?  So much great music from the past 15-20 years to secure the future and those musicians continue to struggle because the support is not there, be it cd sales, downloads, concert tickets, etc.  
As the cycle of life moves forward we lose several more to the grim reaper this year, and a couple greats close to my musical heart. Joey Alves, former guitarist of Y&T who played on all those classic songs from the albums Earthshaker up through Contagious, Warrel Dane, singer for Sanctuary and Nevermore, and Paul O'Neill, founder/musical director of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and producer for Savatage. 

Nevermore were one of those bands from the ‘90s/early 2000s who I rallied behind, saw many times live, always spoke about regularly with hopes they’d be bigger over time.  The Politics of Ecstasy, Dreaming Neon Black, Dead Heart in a Dead World are a trilogy of thrash/doomy progressive brilliance. So sad now there is not chance for a reunion. 

Paul O'Neill, what he did for Savatage is epic. He took the guitar, songwriting, musical style of brothers Criss and Jon Oliva to another level on the albums Hall Of The Mountain King and Gutter Ballet, culminating into the concept album Streets-A Rock Opera.  Edge of Thorns followed but was sadly the last album with Criss who passed away.  Still, O’Neil’s vision for Savatage came to life with the song “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)” from the album Dead Winter Dead, leading to the formation of the Trans Siberian Orchestra, and releasing said hit single on their debut album  Christmas Eve and Other Stories in 1996. Hopefully the Savatage/Trans Siberian Orchestra co headline show from Wacken in 2015 will see the light of day on DVD. 
The Kulick brothers, guitarists Bruce and Bob, perform their first show together on the Kiss Kruise playing almost an entire set of songs Kiss rarely or never play anymore.  “All American Man”, “Hide Your Heart”, “Nowhere To Run”, “Tears Are Falling”, “Tough Love”, “Tonight You Belong to Me”,  “Who Wants to Be Lonely”, “Turn On The Night”, to name a few. I need this tour to start NOW!!
Ok, we all know the European countries always have the best hard rock/heavy metal festivals, but damn is Rock Fest Barcelona not pulling quality over quantity every year. And that’s the whole roster, not just headliners. Too many bands to name, just check out the lineups from 2015-18, its ridiculous. For 2018 Ozzy, Kiss, Judas Priest, Scorpions, and Helloween are headliners. We need this to come to America!
Metal Predictions For 2018
 HELLOWEEN REUNION TOUR WITH KISKE AND KAI HANSEN IS LIFE! LOL. Yes, this Pumpkins United tour brings joy to this long time fan. The New York show in September can’t come soon enough. All three singer’s eras represented. Best of setlist from Walls Of Jericho, Keeper Of The Seven Keys parts 1 and 2, to Master Of The Rings, Time Of The Oath, Better Than Raw, to a couple from the recent albums. The new single “Pumpkins United” maintains all the band’s trademarks, sounds fresh and spirited.   
Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast tour. Hoping this also comes to the US featuring a very different setlist with songs rarely, or never, played before.
The Nightwish “Decades” World Tour will be awesome. Love how they are playing a special setlist featuring rarely heard tracks from the earlier albums. Not the same old same old, something more bands can learn from. This keeps the fans coming back to each touring cycle. Udo Dirkschneider will be doing a similar tour in North America with a new setlist of Accept songs different from last year.   
I was fortunate enough to be the representative from BraveWords to hear the new Judas Priest album Firepower in advance, and speak to Mr. Halford, Richie Faulkner, and Scott Travis. My report will be posted closer to the release date, but I can tell you the album title says it all. The Priest is back, and they have lost none of their Firepower!!
Looking forward to of course more and more new music from the younger bands to secure the future for hard rock and heavy metal music. This kind of music if not meant to be thought of as a moment of nostalgia. Sure, the past is to be celebrated, but the present and future need to be looked at as important. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept, Saxon, Dream Theater, Overkill, Testament, Metallica, to Warrant, Winger, W.A.S.P. and Whitesnake all continue to record new music and play it live.  

Check out the thoughts of our other scribes:

Mark Gromen
Greg Pratt
Carl Begai
Aaron Small

Check out our BravePicks 2017 countdown where Overkill took the top spot here.

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