Today in “the worse thing ever,” Who thought “Metal Disney” was a good idea?

Wanna hear something you’ll instantly wish you never heard? Destroy you hearing (and your sanity) with this:

 

Metallica release (another) new song, Moth Into Flame”


Here’s the video for “Mouth Moth Into Flame,” the second track from the upcoming album, “Hardwired … To Self-Destruct.”

I like it, but I’m biased in favor of most things Metallica. See what you thing.

Is anyone else already sick of the Dokken “reunion”?

Dokken

Dokken, circa 1985 — presumably before Don Dokken and George Lynch couldn’t stand the sight of one another.

Here’s a confession, I like Dokken.

I started listening to Dokken back in high school, probably after seeing the video for “In My Dreams,” either on MTV’s “Headbangers Ball,” or on the MTV daily video countdown.

I don’t think I ever saw Dokken live, or at least not the entire show. They did a big summer tour with Poison and a buncha other 80s hair bands about 15 years ago, and I was there … but we’d been drinking corn liquor, and we arrived late and … um … yeah, it’s all gone now. I’m genuinely sorry about that — as an old fan, it’s a band I always wished I’d caught the band live (while sober, that is).

So I should be excited that, after eons, vocalist Don Dokken, guitar god George Lynch, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Mick Brown are reuniting for one U.S. gig and a mini tour of Japan. After all, Dokken did some really great albums in the 1980s, including one bona fide hair metal classic “Tooth and Nail.” The new tour will be a chance for old-school fans to hear some of their favorite songs, played by the original artists.

Also, there’s sure to be plenty of video, a DVD from one of the shows is planned, and Don Dokken told DJ Eddie Trunk the guys even wrote a new song for the tour, which we’ll all get to hear on the DVD, if not sooner on YouTube.

Yeah, it should be exciting. But frankly, this “reunion” smells like a ripoff.

For that, blame motormouth Don Dokken, who has been a font of negativity ever since the tour became official. He has been all over the place lately, talking about the band’s motivation for the tour, which is money. Or, rather, MONEY.

Don Dokken told “The Classic Metal Show,” that when a tour offer came in that finally fit Dokken’s asking price, he called Brown, Pilson and Lynch: “You guys want to make a sh*tload of money for a week of work? … Basically, they could make more money in one week than they could in a year.”

Don Dokken was equally blunt with Eddie Trunk: “It’s not glorious. But when someone sticks an ‘X’ amount of dollars with a lot of zeroes attached, what are you gonna say? ‘No, I’m busy’? I mean, c’mon, man. You think David Lee Roth went back with Van Halen because he just felt like it? I mean, it’s about money. And Guns N’ Roses — do you think they’re doing it ’cause they’re all madly in love with each other? I don’t think so.”

It’s hard to find a definitive explanation for why Dokken broke up after “Back for the Attack,” which was probably the most successful of their three-album run of hits. I heard or read somewhere that Don Dokken blames Lynch — Dokken says Lynch wanted to control the band — but I imagine Lynch and Dokken were equally to blame.

Places like Allmusic.com say the breakup was over “creative differences,” but that’s just shorthand for “Lynch and Dokken both had ego-problems, neither was willing to compromise, and they got into a major pissing match that resulted in pretty much killing the golden goose and blowing up both of their careers.”

What’s funny, however, is the bad blood lasts until this day. In his recent interviews, Don Dokken can’t help but moan about how he’s already expecting trouble from Lynch, and that once the tour is over, Lynch and his band, Lynch Mob, will go back to playing dive bars. Dokken is full of faint praise and subtle jabs at Lynch’s expense.

I’m not naive. When Guns N’ Roses got back together earlier this summer, money was a major reason why. But Guns N’ Roses also had something to prove — they they were worth the hype — and from what I’ve seen, they pulled it off. I don’t have similar hopes for Dokken. It’s rather off-putting to hear Dokken go on and on about how money is the ONLY reason he’s doing the tour and that he’ll never, set foot on stage with Lynch again once he finishes the shows and cashes the checks.

I don’t need band members to love each other … but it’s hard to get excited about a band that says, “we’re just in it for the cash, man.” Don Dokken couldn’t sound less excited, so it’s impossible to believe the shows are going to be anything other than lackluster.

My guess is a lot of those Dokken fans in Japan are going to leave the shows feeling disappointed, as if something was missing. Those fans will be right — hey Don Dokken, you can’t substitute a paycheck for heart, and think the fans won’t notice the difference. Enjoy the payday, though.

 

 

Metallica to release “Hardwired … To Self-Destruct” on Nov. 18

metallica

For months (years?) the members of Metallica have been hinting around about the possibility of recording a new album.

Truthfully, I didn’t think they’d ever be done — and at times, it was hard to believe they’d actually started work. I mean, they always been to be so busy doing something else, like touring, or doing fashion shoots, or making movies, or losing all of their best riffs when their phones got heisted, or whatever.

So it’s hard to overstate my surprise when the Metallica Web site, announced today the band’s next album, “Hardwired … To Self-Destruct” will be released Nov. 18.

Here’s a bit from the band’s Web site:

It really does exist! We know it’s been a long time coming, but today we proudly introduce you to Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, the long awaited next Metallica studio album that is the follow-up to Death Magnetic! Two discs, nearly 80 minutes of music is coming your way on November 18, 2016… yes, THIS YEAR!

Hey, and the band even premiered a song and released a quick vid on YouTube. If this is a representative sample of the rest of the album, then I say bring it on: Frankly, the band sounds pretty vicious and angry. They haven’t sounded this mad since … I dunno, “Dyers Eve.” That’s a good thing, very good. Check it out:

This is the band’s first album since “Death Magnetic” in 2008 (“what about “Lulu”? you say. “Don’t you count “Lulu”? NO, DAMNIT, I DON’T! Oops, got carried away. Sorry.)

Needless to say, I’m stoked. The album is a double-disc with about 80 minutes of music. An optional third disc full of riffs that made up the songs, and the track “The Lords of Summer.” People who order the album through the Metallica Web site will get an instant download of the title track.

Whew. I’m glad at least one good thing happened this year.

Attorney for officer in Exodus song lyrics case seeks suit dismissal

An attorney representing the Muhlenberg County police officer and Muhlenberg County, who are being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, has filed papers in U.S. District Court, asking that the lawsuit be dismissed.

In response, ACLU attorneys who sued on behalf of Muhlenberg County resident James Evans restated their argument that Officer Michael Drake filed a probable cause affidavit against Evans, while making “materially false statements” that led to Evans’s arrest on a charge of felony terroristic threatening.

 Evans was arrested on Aug. 26 and held in jail for eight days, after officers from several law enforcement agencies began investigating a post Evans placed on his Facebook page Aug. 24. The post contained lyrics from the song “Class Dismissed: A Hate Primer” by the metal band Exodus. The lyrics are about school shootings and are written from the perspective a student committing a mass shooting.

The lyrics posted by Evans included: “Student bodies lying dead in the halls/A blood splattered treatise of hate/Class dismissed is my hypothesis/Gun fire ends the debate … My hate primer’s the result of my rejection/You’ll die for it, and I’ll die for thee.”

The lyrics were posted without attribution to the band or the song title. The ACLU complaint says officers from several agencies began investigating on Aug. 24, and at least some investigators determined the post contained song lyrics, and that Evans had posted lyrics in the past without attributing the lyrics to the song or songwriter.

Evans was interviewed by Central City police, who did not file any charges against him. Drake, who is a school resource officer for the Muhlenberg County Police Department, filed his affidavit after Central City police conducted their interview; the affidavit says Evans “committed the offense of Terroristic Threatening, to wit: by threatening to kill students or staff at school.”

The charge against Evans was eventually dismissed. The ACLU complaint says Evans suffered malicious prosecution and suffered “a deprivation of his liberty” when he was jailed for eight days.

In his motion to dismiss, Justin Schaefer, of the Louisville law firm of Schiller, Osbourn, Barnes & Maloney, says while it’s true Evans had posted lyrics before Aug. 24, “none of those prior lyrics had the threatening tone and pure vitriol that fervently clung to (Evans’) August 2014 post.

“As such, (Drake’s) concerns about (Evans’) intentions were reasonably aroused,” Schaefer writes in his motion. The motion says Drake reviewed Evans’ “criminal history,” which “included prior charges of terroristic threatening, menacing” and other charges not related to threats.

“Given these facts, and the very loose investigations conducted by some other investigating agencies, Mike Drake believed (Evans) had, in fact, intended his post to be a true threat,” Schaefer writes, and Drake “submitted his findings” to county attorney Darris Russel, “who agreed with Drake and asked Drake to sign an Affidavit/Criminal Complaint against” Evans.

Schaefer argues Drake receives “qualified immunity,” which means he can’t be sued for his conduct “under the color of the law, as long as that conduct does not violate clearly established rights of which a reasonable person in their position would have known.” Whether an official receives qualified immunity depends upon the “objective legal reasonableness” of their actions,” given the laws that were in place at the time.

“Here, Mike Drake had probable cause to seek out a warrant for (Evans’) arrest and prosecution for terroristic threatening,” Schaefer writes.

Drake did not specify which degree of terroristic threatening he was seeking on his affidavit, but the arrest warrant issued by District Court was for first-degree terroristic threatening, Schaefer’s motion says. State law says that to qualify as first-degree terroristic threatening, a threat must include a false statement that a person “has placed a weapon of mass destruction” on public property or school property. A person who places a simulated weapon of mass destruction can also be charged with first-degree terroristic threatening.

Schaefer argues a charge for a criminal offense “may include with it all lesser included charges,” such as the lesser charges of second- or third-degree terroristic threatening. Evans’ Facebook post qualified as third-degree terroristic threatening, Schaefer writes, which state law defines as threatening “to commit any crime likely to result in death or serious physical injury to another person, or likely to result in substantial property damage” or when a person “intentionally makes false statements for the purpose of causing evacuation of a building” or other public place.

“Thus, given that any threat to commit any crime likely to result in death or serious physical injury to another person (qualifies as) terroristic threatening in the third-degree under Kentucky law, Drake had probable cause to believe (Evans) committed such an offense,” Schaefer writes.

“(Evans) stresses that his post consisted only of song lyrics from the heavy metal band Exodus. Does that somehow make his particular post less threatening?” Schaefer writes. “… Surely, one can adopt the words of another as his own and use those same words to threaten others … His post plainly reads as a threat to kill students at a school.”

Schaefer also writes Evans’ complaint against Muhlenberg County should also be dismissed, because even if Evans’s allegations are true, “a plaintiff must show that the incident resulted from an existing, unconstitutional (government) policy.” The charges against Evans were “nothing more than an isolated incident, which involved individual deliberation and discretion of one Muhlenberg County official,” Schaefer writes.

In their response, ACLU attorneys William Sharp and Brenda Popplewell write Drake should not receive qualified immunity because he “made false statements or omissions in his affidavit … that, had it been included, would have established the absence of probable cause to arrest” Evans.

The ACLU attorneys write Drakes affidavit didn’t include several facts, such as that the post was song lyrics, that the “threat” was a Facebook post, that Evans had been interviewed by police and cooperated with investigators, and that Evans did not have any connection with county schools.

At the time the affidavit was submitted, Drake “knew that (Evans’) post consisted of song lyrics … and that (Evans) had previously used Facebook to post other song lyrics,” the ACLU attorneys write. “Drake also knew … (Evans) denied intending to make any threat by posting the lyrics online (and) knew (Evans) did not work at any school, nor did he have any apparent motive to threaten students or school officials.

“Here, the knowledge Drake learned from the multiagency investigation was sufficient to confirm that (Evans’) Facebook post was nonthreatening,” the ACLU attorneys write. The attorneys also rejected the argument that Muhlenberg County should be dismissed from the suit, saying the complaint contains enough that the courts can “draw a reasonable inference” that the county is liable for Drake’s “constitutional violations under a single act theory.”

Schaefer filed a brief reply to the ACLU response, again claiming the Facebook post fit the state’s definition of third-degree terroristic threatening.

The posting was made “for everyone to see” and the “alarm it caused the public resulted in a police investigation,” Schaefer writes. “That investigation confirmed the (Evans) had, in fact, made the threatening post of his own free will and volition.

Schaefer reply says Evans has not shown his constitutional rights were violated, or that Drake “knowingly or recklessly violated those rights.”

“Instead, they show that Drake made a tough call in a dynamic situation, based on public protection concerns,” Schaefer writes. “Consequently, even if that decision violated (Evans’) constitutional rights, it should not eviscerate the immunity Drake enjoys from suit under clearly established federal law.”

No hearings are currently scheduled in the case.

James Mayse, (270) 691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

Babymetal is good for metal

babymetal

The metal world — or at least the metal blogosphere — has been pretty shaken up lately by Japan’s latest metal eruption, Babymetal.

A mishmash of metal and schoolgirl pop, Babymetal is one of the those crazy ideas that could only have originated in Japan. Now, Japanese metal has long been strange, as anyone who has seen or heard X Japan can attest, but Babymetal takes the weird to new heights.

Fronted by three teen girls who range in age from 14 to 16 (and look much younger), Babymetal combines Slipknot style instrumental brutality with a pop sweetness and wholesomeness that causes some metal fans to rip out their beards. Instead of blood, fire and death, Babymetal’s three singers/dancers sing about bullying, being happy and, yes, chocolate.

The band has sold out the few shows they’ve played in the U.S., have been praised by Lady GaGa and have been treated like royalty at major metal fests by bands like Slayer, Metallica and Anthrax. But for every fan of the band, there’s another foe on the metal webs, ready to accuse Babymetal fans of being poseurs or pedophiles.

Just how bizarre is Babymetal? Maybe you just have to see it for yourself.

So, is Babymetal bad for metal? Is it “true metal,” or is it a bad parody at best, or a abomination and practical joke at metal’s expense at worst?

Frankly, Babymetal is probably the best thing that’s happened to metal this century, at least in terms of breaking boundaries and growing metal’s audience.

Despite protestations to the contrary, metal is a boy’s club. Sure, there are women in metal bands, and women who are metal fans, but the culture that still rules the scene is sexist and full of macho bullsh*t.

You don’t have to look hard to find examples, but here are a couple just off-hand. Exhibit A: “Porn Star Dancing,” by My Darkest Days. Let’s put aside the fact that the song is musically terrible (how much did Zach Wilde drink before cashing his check and widdling his way through that “guest” solo?) and look at what the song is about. That’s right, it’s about a douchebag who can’t understand why girls don’t like him (hint: he’s a douchebag), so he spends his days at the strip bar. “I know a place where there’s always a show/the dollars decide how far you can go,” the singer, whoever he is, warblers in all his epic douchebaggery. So, essentially, we have a song that objectifies woman and portrays them as prostitutes. Well, that’s what I want my daughter listening to, don’t you?

Exhibit B: The Pretty Reckless. Musically, this is a band where the sum never adds up to the musical parts. It seems everyone in the band is talented, but the end result is always less-than interesting. But again, let’s put the music aside and look at how the band’s lead singer, Taylor Momsen, is portrayed.

As you might expect from a former teen model and “Gossip Girl” star, TPR’s videos are full of shot’s of Momsen wearing scanty clothes and posing seductively for the camera. Sex sells CDs as much as it sells beer and everything else, but I’m not sure there’s much in TPR’s image for teen girls. “Look pretty and the boys will like you” is a message girls get from every other aspect of pop culture. Force-feeding it to them yet again in metal (which is allegedly an escape from pop culture) seems demeaning.

Enter Babymetal, who are both musically adept and not-at-all sexualized. Even Babymetal haters have to agree the band is musically first-rate — and anyone who says lead singer Suzuka Nakamoto (aka Su-Metal) can’t sing are simply being dismissive for hate’s sake. There’s some real talent here — and I’d argue a genre that invented death metal can’t really complain about a singer’s vocals (disclaimer: I also love death metal).

While Babymetal may seem like “metal for kids” or, perhaps “metal for teen girls,” neither of those things are at all bad. Metal needs new fans, and more women fans, if the genre is going to avoid stagnation. The generation of kids gravitating to Babymetal today will be taking that influence making their own brand of metal tomorrow. If you want metal to stay exactly the same, you’re just like a classical music fan who hates modern classical and only listens to Mozart.

Also, the sexist attitudes of metal (foisted upon us, perhaps, by the hair metal bands in the 1980s before the stereotypes took on lives of their own) are outdated and degrading to everyone involved. Metal isn’t a boy’s club anymore, and needs to start accepting that women at shows are not just groupies or girls dragged there by their boyfriends.

There need to be strong women in metal, especially for young girls, who are hypersexualized and bombarded with negative images pretty much from puberty on. Babymetal, by putting absolutely no emphasis on sex, gives girls a cool, tough and yet sweet set of metal icons.

We, the metal community, needed Babymetal. Thank god they finally arrived. May others — equally fearless, empowering and innovative — follow in their wake.

Book Review: “Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal”

meandeviation

If you think you’re pretty knowledgeable about progressive metal, as I did, you’re in for a rude awakening with Jeff Wagner’s “Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal.”

Wagner, a former editor of Metal Maniacs magazine, is an apparent aficionado of progressive rock and metal — which makes him a particularly good guide into the world(s) of metal’s most adventurous auteurs. By the time I was finished, I had compiled a long list of “must have” bands I’d never heard of before meeting them through “Mean Deviation” (and then YouTube).

Wagner knows his metal and I have a suspicion the man could write fluently about music theory. But Wagner has a conversational writing style that never becomes dry or gets bogged down in discussions of time signatures or sixteenth notes. He’s also not a sycophant; Wagner can appreciate classic Celtic Frost — while still admitting “Cold Lake” was a shocking, embarrassing disaster.

As Wagner describes it, the stirrings of progressive metal can be found in albums like King Crimson’s “In The Court of the Crimson King” and with 70-era Pink Floyd, Yes, Kansas, Genesis (pre-Phil Collins, of course) and mid-career Black Sabbath.

Sabbath? Progressive? I doubted as well — but Wagner makes a strong argument that Sabbath ventured into uncharged musical territory on classic albums like “Sabotage,” “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” “Technical Ecstasy” and even the maligned “Never Say Die.” Today, Sabbath is considered sacred, untouchable and calcified metal gospel, due to the overplaying of “Paranoid,” “War Pigs” and “Iron Man” by lazy rock radio — but Sabbath reached for something new on albums like “Sabotage” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” Really, go find the track “Am I Going Insane?” and you’ll agree Sabbath were a lot more progressive than people might suspect.

Any history of progressive metal must visit with Rush, and Wagner pays the band their due — even if he acknowledges the band left most of its creative masterworks behind after recording “Moving Pictures” in the early 1980s. But even while we can fault Rush for, essentially, sticking with a winning formula in its post “Pictures” work, the band’s influence can’t be dismissed. My tolerance for Rush is somewhat limited, but certainly the band heavily influenced some of the bigger names in progressive metal, particularly Dream Theater.

Along the way, Wagner examine bands like Fates Warning (also one of Dream Theater’s biggest influences), Queensryche, Voivod and the Dream Theater boys themselves. It was nice to see Fates Warning get some deserved recognition — they were never commercially as successful as Queensryche or Dream Theater, but they’re the band people like Mike Portnoy name check when discussing their inspiration.

Wagner makes some interesting stops along the way and finds the progressive gene in the death metal swamps of Florida, the arctic cold of black metal and in the hearts of Swizerland, Germany, Finland and Japan. You’ll want to take notes, because many of the bands Wagner highlights — like Coroner, Mekong Delta, Anacrusis, Nocturnus, Atheist, Sigh and Amorphis, to name a few — are worth your time. Death gets particular mention, and rightly so — go back and listen to “Human,” “Symbolic” and “Individual Thought Patterns” and you’ll be amazed at the innovation.

History aside, “Mean Deviation” particularly shines when Wagner digresses into an min-essay on the difference between progressive metal and “Progressive Metal.” The progressives with a small-p, Wagner says, were (and are) the bands willing to throw out their own rule books in order to push themselves musically. Large-P “Progressive Metal” is largely a formula founded on Dream Theater that, at its core, isn’t terribly progressive, Wagner argues.

For example, compare Voivod to Symphony X. Going into the 1990s, Voivod had a cult of followers after bludgeoning metal albums like “War and Pain,” “Killing Technology” and “Dimension Hatross”  — but Voivod lost many of those fans when the band followed its muse (and Floydian influences) on somewhat controversial albums like “Nothingface” and “Angel Rat.” Taking musical strides while risking alienating fans makes Voivod small-p progressive, Wagner says.

Symphony X, however is large-P “Progressive Metal” in that they took Dream Theater’s style, did it as well or better than Dream Theater, but never deviated much from that style. Now, don’t get upset — Symphony X is a stellar band, with excellent musicianship and vocals, complex musical arrangements and fascinating songs. But really, there are few surprises with Symphony X. They’re great at what they do … but they’re never going to shock us with a unexpected left hook. Symphony X is never going to produce its own “Angel Rat.”

The final third of the book is a series of mini-biographies on a host of bands Wagner found significant in the progressive genre. Frankly, I found myself skipping some bands — look, I can appreciate what Therion is doing, but I don’t find it overly interesting. But many of the bios were intriguing enough to keep me adding names of my list of bands.

With the exception of Opeth, Wagner doesn’t spend much time on the current crop of progressive bands, which makes sense. Who knows what those bands will sound like tomorrow?  But what I found myself doing after reading “Mean Deviation” was listening to current progressive metal bands with new ears — now, it’s hard for me to listen to Mastodon or Opeth without hearing bits and pieces of Voivod, or classic progressive bands like Kansas.

If you’re a fan of progressive metal — or if you always wondered what the fuss of progressive bands was all about — you’ll find something of interest in “Mean Deviation.” You’ll also find about 30 to 50 albums you’ll discover you have to own. Prepare your wallet to take a bit of a beating.

You can read an interview with Wagner about progressive metal here.