Posts Tagged ‘rush


Opeth – Swedish metal fun!

Recently during the wee hours of the morning when I was having trouble sleeping I decided to check out my list on Tivo of shows that I randomly decided to record and check out later; one was another installment of the 2011 Sonisphere concert.  I had seen the past installments with Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica, and Megadeth but not some of the lesser known acts.  For example, this particular artists featured this included Sum 41, Cavalera Conspiracy, Diamond Head, In Flames, and Opeth.  To be fair, these are not household names around the halls of HiFi Central, but perhaps they are in your abode.  Clearly they are “popular” to someone otherwise they would have never made the bill for Sonisphere in the first place. 

Out of the fore-mentioned bands I found myself listening to the Sum 41 set, which was more nostalgic than eye opening, the guys are good and still popular perhaps, say in Indonesia these days. Sadly, Sum 41 is not involved in the main music scene in the US these days; an underground fanbase I would assume keeps them alive here.  Sum 41 has not put out any radio worthy music in years; and in some ways reminded me of a goofy Green Day wanna be band on Sonisphere.  I’m sure the shoppers at Zumiez or Hot Topic may think they still are incredible, but here at HiFi Central we use their poster as a dart board and cd’s as drink coasters.

Cavelera Conspiracy had my attention for about 25 seconds and then I quickly found them utterly boring, especially when the lead singer Max Cavelera opened his mouth.  It wasn’t until I realized why I knew the name Cavelera and then zingo – Sepultura!  I always liked Sepultura’s instrumentals but never liked the vocals, hmmm, guess what?  Still don’t! After listening to the reincarnation with Cavelera Conspiracy, it was like trying liver again at 40 – I still think it sucks, sorry.

Diamond Head was merely a special reunion for a 1970’s metal band that some of todays bands merit (Megadeth and Metallica) with being highly influential.  Ok I guess, personally for me it was a bunch of old geezers having a good time and if they played my town I would disregard them as a decent garage band, the music was nothing worth really noting and I pressed fast forward (thank the Lord for TIVO!!!) 

After watching this chapter of Sonisphere 2010 the only bands that stood out for me were Swedish metal bands In Flames and Opeth.  I was familiar with In Flames since they recently had a show locally and I am kicking myself for missing the show; they are REALLY good!   Opeth was a complete mystery to me and I was amazed how good they were.

In Flames and Opeth are equally talented bands and exemplify some of the best Death / Progressive metal coming out of Sweden.  I found myself entranced with both bands sound and vocals;  these bands are accomplished masters of the metal sound and have discovered the ability to make quality music.  In Flames, although very good, is somewhat one-dimensional when compared to talents of Opeth. Opeth is clearly more of  a mix of conceptual progressive rock, death metal, and classic rock.  To make it a bit more precise, it would be fair to say that Opeth is a culmination of Dream Theater, early Rush, and Lamb of God mixed all together to create a tasty goop of hard driving riffs, strong choral arrangments, constant time changes, acoustic breaks, and the occasional growling vocals added at the right times. 

What I think appeals to me most about this band is the variety of music they have created over the past decade, albums range from mellow acoustic arrangments echoing with haunting vocals exemplified by the concept albums My Arms, Your Hearse (1998) and Still Life (1999).  Both albums remind me of an early Rush concept album like Hemispheres, not in the vocals but the story line.  In Still Life a character returns to his town after years of banishment due to his faith, a faith that contrasted with the majority and he comes back years later to find his true love. As the album moves forward it introduces those who originally banished him and the bad things that follow. 

Concept albums can be fun; especially when artists use the songs exemplify the chapters and progression of the character and development of a story as a whole; I think Opeth does a good job in these two albums.  As a sidenote, and clearly coincidental, the album My Arms,  Your Hearse offers three instrumental songs, one is named “Madrigal” (as found on Rush’s Farewell to Kings (1977)) luckily it’s not a cover.  Regardless, I still found this humorous; and “Rush-like” quality can be found on the first song off of Still Life called “The Moor”; very Cygnus-X1-like with a journey of soft haunting guitars setting the tone for a deep story full of twists and turns.

Opeth has been smart not to rely on the same recipe for their albums; they keep to a constant style, yet manipulate the arrangments very smartly.  This constant shift from acoustic to metal can be reflected in more recent albums where a much more hard driving non-stop Death metal style of growling vocals and blistering guitars is introduced sparingly.  I liken their albums to a “metal roller coaster ride”, albums may start off with a soft haunting vocal and guitar backdrop and then transition into fast paced dark anger and fury, then back to mellow.  Much of this style can be highlighted on an album such as Blackwater Park (2001); at the same time you can find a mix of both acoustic melodies and metal offered Watershed (2008).  So far I have found that Opeth put out very solid albums that keep the listener enthralled and not yearning to advance to the next song.  It’s actually more anticipation to see what’s next and I like that.

As much as I want to continue writing an indepth analysis about the the body of Opeth’s work, there is simply too many albums and not enough time for me to fairly be overly critical  (positive or negative); however, I can say with great conviction that from what I have heard so far, I am very impressed!

 This band is clearly on to something and I can’t wait to see if they ever have a show in HiFi Central’s hometown of Albany, NY.  If you are interested in learning more about Opeth see if you can snag their Still Life album as a starter; Still Life is one of my current favorites.   If you have seen Opeth or like their music please drop us a comment, we’d love to hear what you think.  If you have not heard them before and decided to check them out via this blog, please let us know if we made a good suggestion or whether we suck at making suggestions.


Rush Documentary: Do yourself a favor and watch!

I know that this documentary was released in select theaters last summer prior to the launch of the bands Time Machine Tour; but finally I had some personal time to sit back and enjoy re-discovering a band that is still one of my all time favorites since discovering them in middle school.

As one of my friends stated, “this movie will not neccessarily make you a fan, but if you are already a fan, after watching you will become an even bigger one”.  Rush is one of those bands that has lasted longer than most playing today; actually forming in 1968!  I think the most incredible thing about Rush, and it is highlighted smartly in this movie, is that they adapted with the changing times of music and new technology as it was introduced.  Every album they have created has catered to different audiences, but at the same time for those of us who are die hard fans, never discard the original formula that got us hooked in the first place.  That’s not to say that every Rush album has trumpted the prior; often when you ask a Rush fan if they like everything they’ve released they will often say “no”, but one thing that is constant is that they have one or two albums that are their absolute favorites time and time again. 

There is such dynamic difference between Rush’s self-titled release and that of others released during their first decade of performing.  Their first 3 albums (Rush (1974), Fly By Night and Caress of Steel which are both released in 1975!) are pretty much straight forward hard rock albums yet albums like 2112 (1976), A Farewell to Kings (1977), and Hemispheres (1978) they introduce the concept albums and define the style of “progressive rock” that have stood the test of time.  With the introduction of New Wave, we see the later incorporation of synths and other effects that take the band on many new directions that have helped the band evolve into the sound they have today.  As a true Rush fan I do like everything they have released, but personally tend to consistently listen to everything up to Signals (1982).  With a band like Rush that has lasted so many decades it’s not that hard to find the album or albums that remind you of a sentimental time in your life at some point.  They are just that meaningful of a music group to so many people.

The documentary is a facinating look at the origins of the three original founding members  and the “new guy” Neil Peart; it is interesting to learn about the adversity they each faced growing up in the suburbs Toronto in the 50’s and 60’s.  The recollections of both Getty Lee and Alex Lifeson are so earnest and one is riveted who their freindship has stood the test of time.  I found their revisiting the basement of a church where they held their first show was great.  They take time to eat lunch in a cafe where they use to drink tea and smoke cigarettes back in the 60’s, only to have a waitress walk up and ask for Getty’s autograph yet ignore Alex.  It was priceless. 

The documentary provides rare concert footage in their infancy as a band straight to the arena size shows they play today; however, the most incredible footage is a 17 year old Alex Lifeson argueing with his parents at their dinner table about why he wanted to drop out of 12th grade and play music; it’s almost a surreal experience to watch since it is so random.  Many people I have talked to have mentioned that as the highlight of the movie often finding it unbelievable that the footage even existed.

Although the documentary focuses on their development as a band and as individuals over time, it also provides a brief intimate glimpse into tragedies they have faced and even their hobbies.  For the real Rush fan this movie is a treat, it’s what we always hoped for but figured would never happen.  One of the best moments of the movie is at the end when  you the fan get to be the proverbial “fly on the wall” and watch all three of them reunite at a hunting lodge and enjoy a three course meal.  The banter is hilarious and the chemistry between them is simply magic, clearly they enjoy each others company after all of these years.  It is my understanding that there is an extended version of the movie whereas you can watch all three hours of the dinner in its entirety, totally geeky yes, but for us fans just a bit more something something!  The band is not in denial that they are clearly  a successful “cult” band and perhaps may never become mainstream; for them it’s about the fans and it is what keeps them going.  God knows that true Rush fans don’t need an inducation or acknowledgement from the cheesy Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to validate the contributions they have made.

This movie is a must for the Rush fan in so many ways!


And the 2011 inductee is…the Beastie Boys?

I felt compelled to comment on the newly announced inductee’s to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2011.  One of the main acts is the Beastie Boys; talented yes, but deserving?  I’m not really sure.

I grew up listening to the Beastie Boys in high school and college; although I must admit that at this point in my life I absolutely dread when I hear “Fight For Your Right”; however, I do remember it as a pivotal song in my early adolescent years that contributed to the legitimacy of Rap as a form of artistic expression.

With that said I still find myself at a crossroads with regard to the recent announcement that the Beastie Boys will be inducted into the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  First of all, clearly the hall of fame should be “The History of Music Hall of Fame” and not Rock and Roll. Clearly the Beastie Boys are not a rock act, however they may have contributed some influences to the evolution of todays rock music, but only slightly if so.  Actually, if I were to think of a contemporary band that has incorporated both Rap and Rock and would be more deserving of this award I would consider bands like Rage Against the Machine or perhaps 311; clearly these bands have played a larger part in influencing todays Rock/Rap style, no?  Sorry, but the Aerosmith / Run DMC doesn’t count folks, actually that is probably the tipping point for any respect that I had for either of those groups (makes me cringe just thinking back, yuck!).  Yes, Kerry King of Slayer did play guitars on “Fight For Your Right” and “No Sleep Til’ Brooklyn” but I think he has contributed more to Rock than the album Licensed to Ill.

What the Beastie Boys DID do was change the social perception of Rap;  Rap was  no longer restricted or defined to be performed by African-American artists. White kids (and further, Jewish White kids!) could participate as well, and be taken seriously.  Although I’m not sure how much of the African-American community ran out to by anything they have released.  The Beastie  Boys clearly expanded the diversity of that form music as a whole.  Acts like Vanilla Ice, may have inspired some at the time, but as we all know who lived in the 80’s, that reality came crashing down in full form and very little respect was earned in the end. 

When the Beastie Boys originally entered the scene with the realease of Licensed To Ill (1986) I thought they were more of a goof act that was attempting to disassemble the Rap stereotype, intentionally or not.  Clearly after the commercial success of the Licensed To Ill and the release of Pauls Boutique (1989) they were for real, and clearly were intent on making their mark in music business.  Pauls Boutique, although not the strongest follow up album initially,  has become a landmark album for the band and is probably the most popular by hardcore fans if asked today.

Check Your Head (1992) was a much stronger album and in my opinion did much in revitalizing the band after the lukewarm reception that Pauls Boutique initially received.  Subsequent albums have been successful, actually every one going Platinum or multi-Platinum in the US.  Although they have sold millions of albums and touched the lives of many, perhaps inspiring some successful bands today, I still don’t feel that inducting them into the Hall of Fame is still deserving, if it is, ahem, a true “Rock and Roll” hall of fame.  Actually, we know that it isn’t and perhaps my blog entry should be more about bashing the Hall of Fame rather than the Beastie Boys, which is not my intention.

It has been noted that the RR Hall of Fame inductions are kind of a joke; they are not basing their decisions solely on those groups who influenced bands of today, rather on bands that will draw attention (and a crowd at the ceremony) and ultimately increase funding towards its expansion and growth.  There are so many groups from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s that paved the road for todays music scene and will never be recognized;  the Canadian band Rush (third all  time in album sales under The Beatles and The Rolling Stones!) are not worthy of being inducted this year, but the Beastie Boys are? Huh? It just doesn’t smell right in my opinion.  “Popularity” is what reigns supreme in the induction process and not bands that no longer draw a crowd or are no longer household names.  It’s sad but true, and perhaps the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has seen its sustainability and longevity in having to take the low road and cater to popular music of today rather than yester year.  Granted they have inducted some old timers, but its often rare.  Oh, don’t forget that LL Cool J is being inducted as well, great.

What are your thoughts about the induction process?


Rush – 40 years performing and still loving it!

I know I’m on a bit of a Rush theme in the blog lately, but after the recent announcement by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to (once again) overlook granting praise to these influential guys and the music they have created for 40 years, I felt at the very least, HiFi Central can give them some much deserved “limelight” . 

I came across a recent interview with the band on CNN; it’s an excellent look at why they still play after 40 years; how they see each other, and what their music means personally.  It’s a bit long but well worth the time.  Try not to get snagged by your boss!

Click here to see the interview.


Rush – Colbert Report

Although many of people have seen this I felt it was worth posting; especially with the recent release of the Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock on 9/28.  Rush visited the Colbert Report studios last year and had a chance to play Tom Sawyer on Rock Band (competitor to Guitar Hero), below is the clip, enjoy!


Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock – 2112 a highlight!

I could not resist and had to post what I consider “groundbreaking news” for us dorks, geeks, and super nerds; the newly released Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock game features the album 2112 in its entirety!  What an epic album to feature on Guitar Hero; the entire 21 minute masterpiece!

Rush worked with game developers assisting with various parts of the game and complex time changes and signatures of the music.  Apparently this will be the ultimate test of how good one is a Guitar Hero.

I thought it was cool and worth reporting; it also peaks my interest of perhaps going out to purchase a 360 just for this game.  If you have already purchased this (it was released yesterday), please let us know if it is worth all of the hype.  Other bands featured on this are Megadeth, Ozzy, Anthrax, Steve Vai (wow!), and Slayer.

I find it odd however that Rush was looked over (yet again) for induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, what gives?  However, LL Cool J and The Beastie Boys make the list?  Clearly the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not to be taken seriously these days; no wonder the Sex Pistols refuse ever to be recognized by that goofy museum.

You can read more on this game by clicking here.


Rush Movie- “Beyond The Lighted Stage: A Documentary”

Yes, it’s true!  Announced today the movie “Beyond The Lighted Stage” is a documentary on the legendary Canadian band Rush.  Although they have been around for over 30 years and have had a very faithful fan base, they have largely been and underground non-mainsteam rock band, so this movie is well deserved in many ways.

I’m not sure where the movie will be playing specifically, but I would assuming checking your local independent movie house for sure.  This movie will be released around June of this year; this will happen at the same time of their 2010 “Time Machine” Tour. 

The movie premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was received very well; as if there was a doubt?  Finally the mystique of the band will be lifted and fans can rejoice that these guys finally are getting their due.

This will be an incredible movie and I have supplied a trailer for you to see; looks like fun!

Let us know at HiFi what you think!


Dream Theater – Systematic Chaos (2007)

If you have been following this blog over the past few months you may have noticed a slight evolution in the interest of a band called Dream Theater.  In March I posted a video of lead guitarist John Petrucci performing at The G3 guitar tour in Tokyo (performing his solo work – Damage Control); then I came upon a video of the band in the studio recording the blistering composition The Dark Eternal Night and posted that in April.   Yes, I have to admit that I really like what this band is doing.

The Dark Eternal Night  is off a 2007 album called Systematic Chaos, which as it turns out was a change in direction for the band; it resulted in a much harder album than prior releases.  So, I decided one day while in Boston to pick up a used copy for $7 at my favorite music store  in the whole wide world..the one and only Newbury Comics. 

As with all albums one song  normally tends to create an unfair expectation and at times,  disappointing result of what the rest of the album actually sounds like, often leading to regret, bitterness, and overall resentment for spending the money.  Not this album, although it will take the listener a few times (in my case at least 10-12 listens to and from work to the entire album for it to really grow on my ear) I now play it quite regularly.  It is a solid album with a few somber moments (appropriately placed); it is simply just a fun addition to my music collection.

Clearly Dream Theater is influenced heavily by  bands like Rush, Queensryche, and even a bit of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer; this can be reflected in the bands complex and unorthodox time changes, blistering and catchy tempos, and compositions that make one shake their head in disbelief.  Dream Theaters songs focus around the normally geeky stuff like science, fantasy, and the human condition.  There are three songs on the album that veer off from those subjects and focus on themes like “meaningless war “(Prophets of War) and the other two on “redemption” (Forsaken) and “forgiveness” (Repentance).

The album is not a  bubblegum metal album, nor is the band. Like Rush, the members of Dream Theater are what they term “musicians musicians”. Although the members of Rush are not classically trained (at least that I know of) the members of Dream Theater all attended Berklee College of Music; meeting there initially and forming a band called Majesty, that then evolved into Dream Theater.

I have not taken the plunge and purchased any other of their albums released earlier or later than Systematic Chaos, but I’m up for the challenge.  If you are a DT fan and think there is one album in particular (or several) that would compliment this introductory album, please comment and let us know.

The band has recently announced a world tour with Iron Maiden..should be awesome!  Please let us know if you go.

Dream Theater’s Systematic Chaos gets 4.0 out of 5 stars.


a very “moving” rush tour!!!

Excuse my giddy excitement this morning, but I just found out that not only is one of my all-time favorite bands doing yet another tour this summer, but they will be playing one of their albums in its entirety each show.  The tour: The Time Machine Tour.  The album:  “Moving Pictures.”  The band:  RUSH.


Sorry, had to let that out.  Now as long-time Rush fans know, they do play a good deal of that album every time they tour; Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ and Limelight – all the songs on side one of the album – have been staples throughout the years.  The second side of the album, however, is relatively unheard in the past 25 years or so.  “The Camera Eye,” a 10-minute piece of musical craftsmanship (their last recorded song over 10 minutes long), hasn’t been played live since 1983.  “Witch Hunt,” which they actually did pull out for their Snakes and Arrows tours of 2007 & 2008, hadn’t been played live since 1989.  And “Vital Signs” has also been a rarity during the past 20 years.  But come this summer, all those songs will be played in order!  Now I’m sure there will be Rush snobs who will complain to the effect of, “Why are they playing their most mainstream album?  Why didn’t they decide to play ‘Hemispheres’ instead?”  I’ll admit, the same thought crossed my mind, albeit briefly.  But to those complainers I retort:  “Dude!  They’re going to play ‘The Camera Eye!’  Dude!!!”  Hopefully that gets my point across.  I’m ecstatic – check out for all the tour dates.

And a quick congrats to the band (mainly Neil Peart) for getting inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame!  Anyone who doubts that validity, just check out the lyrics to “Subdivisions” and “Witch Hunt” and tell me it’s not poetry that still rings true today.


Free Rush Radio

RushUpon reflection of my recent trounce of Rush’s soon to be released Working Men dvd I felt perhaps I can make amends by providing readers (Rush fans specifically) a link for streaming Rush radio for their listening pleasure.

It’s not bad with about 40+ songs in the selection, some recent and some vintage Rush mixed together. I was pleasantly surprised to see that 2112’s Overture & Temples of Syrinx, Cygnus X-1 part I & II, and Passage to Bangkok are featured, nice! Find your favorites by dragging the small gray rectangle on the right up and down.  You can go to it by clicking here, and then click in the middle of the snake icon; it should launch.

After listening to Digital Man a few times already, I’m going home tonight to blow the dust off my Signals cd and get re-aquainted with Sir Geddy, Sir Alex, and Sir Neil; it’s been far too  long.

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