My apologies, Dragonforce!

I like my music LOUD! Or creepy. One or the other, thank you. So when I first heard the band Dragonforce (and only a snippet mind you), I thought they were a bit. . .well. . . foo foo. Another power metal band trying to merge Helloween with Dream Theater. Lovely.

They were on the main stage at Ozzfest, and to be honest, I didn’t really listen all that carefully. My mind was made up, there was no changing it. “Fuck them and their power foo foo shit”, I thought. I knew better. Mind you, I STILL hadn’t really listened. Shame on me.

Then, while watching the Headbanger’s Ball one night, they piqued my interest when Jamie Jasta said “up next, a video from the fastest guitarists in the world”. Or something like that. . .I was drinkin’. Anxiously, I waited. “Who could Jamie be referring to?? Steve Vai? Joe Satriani??” I had to know.

After the commercial break, the video to “Operation Ground & Pound” came on. The rest is history. I finally ACTUALLY listened. And boy did I get some serious schoolin’. This wasn’t possible, was it? I mean, HOLY MOSES! What an assault those boys have on the senses. Is it humanly possible to play a guitar that fast!? I mean, Yngwie who? He ain’t got nuthin’ on Herman Li and Sam Totman (Sorry Yngwie).

Call me a convert. There is nothing foo foo about Dragonforce. Ok, they have a more positive vibe than many, but that ain’t so bad is it? And they can play, I mean seriously PLAY! Now I’m truly sorry I was in the beer line at Ozzfest rather than in the lawn listening, where I should have been.

Learn from my mistakes children. Judge not a book by it’s cover (or cover song). Musicians are artists, and as artists they should be given ample opportunity to show their mettle.

Sorry Boys. I apologize.

Rosie O’Donnell leaving ‘The View’ early

I’m not a big fan of the ‘The View’, or as a friend of mine refers to it “Four Witches & a Cauldron”, but like many folks I’ve been curious about the hub-bub between Rosie O’Donnell and fellow host Elisabeth Hasselbeck that erupted on the Wednesday, May 23rd show. Apparently the two are known to spare over political differences (O’Donnell being fairly Liberal versus Hasselbeck’s more conservative viewpoints) but this particular discussion involving the Iraq war led to the two being ‘split screened’ in an impromptu point-counterpoint face-off. Feelings were hurt, yadda yadda yadda. You get the picture.

First off, let me just say this about Hasselbeck. Oh baby. She’s still just as hot as when her mousey little frame was paraded around on ‘Survivor’. But I digress.

My REAL point behind all of this is regarding Rosie. Love her, hate her – she is undeniably a powerhouse personality and her presence meant better ratings for The View. In addition to a well documented on-air feud with Donald Trump, among other things.

I’m sad to see her go despite the fact that I rarely, if ever, have agreed with her. I respect her ability to speak her mind and hold her ground – even if public (or producers) support might be lacking. The View will undoubtably return to the days of Star Jones’ blandness and I’ll no longer watch the occasional show recaps to see what level of craziness ensued.

Although if the producers DO want an increase in the male demographic, they should entertain re-enacting some ‘Survivor – Australia’ moments with Elisabeth. . . .

Just a thought there, Barbara

Ozzy Osbourne – Black Rain [Epic]

First off, I should start by saying I’m reviewing the ‘free Ozzfest’ ticket version of this CD. And by that I mean that I paid $18.99 for a CD in bare-bones packaging so as to get a code to use for 2 free Ozzfest tickets (jokingly referred to as ‘freefest’ but somehow I’m not seeing the free part of this yet). While in truth, one could get codes absolutely free of charge via the official Ozzfest site (among other places) and redeem said code on June 12th for the show of choice, by purchasing Ozzy’s new disc you get a ‘reserved’ code that can be redeemed on Jun. 8th. The smart gambler bets on most, if not all, tickets being distributed before June 12th, so wait at your own risk! I chose not to risk it, obviously.

As I said, the packaging is pretty sparse. It’s basically a cardboard gatefold sleeve with minimal graphics, a tracklist and very little else. Oh, and a coupon with the aforementioned ticket code. yippee. After the ticket rush is over, a lusher version will undoubtably be available.

Press releases to this disc herald it as the true successor to 1991’s No More Tears, which may be good or bad depending on your viewpoint. Personally, I was hoping for a successor to Blizzard of Ozz instead.

Ozzy is joined on the songs once again by the formidable Zakk Wylde on guitar & ex-Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin as well as adding ex-Rob Zombie bassist Blasko. The new songs are as crunchy and heavy as could be hoped, many sounding like leftover rifts from Zakk’s Black Label Society sessions. It’s Ozzy’s own vocal stylings which tend to water down the mix but hey, at his age I respect the guy for still adding some decibels to his output.

As with many Ozzy recordings, the appeal runs the gamut from definitely crank-worthy (“Not Going Away” and radio heavy “I Don’t Wanna Stop”) to not bad (“Trap Door”) to so-so filler material (“11 Silver” & “Black Rain”). Nothing is truly bad of the set, but very little stands out as legends-in-making. I do applaude the attempts to go in a more experimental direction with the longer, funkier “The Almighty Dollar”, the comparatively lethargic “Countdown’s Begun” (which does sport a nicely blistering guitar solo) and the faux-industrial “Civilize the Universe”. There are also two ballads on the bill, “Lay Your World on Me” & “Here For You”, both very reminiscent of earlier Ozzy snifflers.

Lyrically, many subjects are tackled again by his Ozziness that he has covered in the past such as war (“Black Rain”), environmental concerns (“The Almighty Dollar” ironically enough) and good old fashioned defiance (“I Don’t Wanna Stop”). Sadly, the concerns he voices are just as topical today as when he first broached them in Black Sabbath.

All in all, this is a decent effort by a true pioneer of the genre. Ozzy cannot be accused of laying on any well-deserved laurels, either for his musical output or for clever concert ticket marketing strategies. It shouldn’t disappoint loyalists but it’s doubtful many of these songs will be played live in 5 years. God willing, Ozzy will still be though!