heavy metal

For what probably amounts to a couple of decades all said and done, Zakk Wylde was a hero of heavy metal, the everyman kid lucky enough to find his way onto the world’s largest metal stages. His was a modern story reminding us all to not forget our musical dreams; that the big break could be just around the corner.

Now, the genre judges Zakk much differently. Following some self-important antics, two uninspired, pedestrian Black Label albums and a split from longtime paycheck Ozzy Osbourne, we now see Wylde back at the drawing board with “Order of the Black.”

With their surprise debut at #1 on the Billboard Independent charts, Black Veil Brides are single-handedly trying to resurrect the type of metal/glam fusion that made Motley Crue and KISS rise to stardom. Cloaked in black and layered in shadowy makeup, the band is well on their way. I had a chance to get a few minutes with bassist Ashley Purdy and get some questions answered.

Well, this is a new idea. Up and coming female-fronted heavy metal outfit Valora is slowly unveiling their new songs one at a time through the lens of a motion video graphic novel. Part 1 (check it out below,) is the first of five, and also serves as the launching point for their single, "Live." The story isn't terribly convoluted, but like my love for Tom and Jerry cartoons, it appeals to my admiration for the ability to tell a concise story without dialogue. The art isn't super fancy, but it's crisp, and the video rolling inside the comic panels is a unique touch.

Normally, greatest hits albums, whether they're masked as "career retrospectives" or some other convoluted term, go unnoticed by me. I remember coming to the conclusion at a younger age that most greatest hits albums are simply shams by record labels to perpetuate sales of a band that might have gone stale. This was the principle reason that Soundgarden's "A-Sides" release in 1997 garnered no interest from me, even though it contained the previously unreleased (and pretty solid) track "Bleed Together."

Metal fans are a fickle lot, aren't we? We demand material worthy of our fandom, and one day's hero can be the next day's goat. Fortunes change both for better or worse in an instant with one album release, one radio hit, or even something as elementary as a haircut.

Sully Erna's solo album "Avalon" seems to serve two purposes. First, he finally gets to explore his fascination with tribal drums and acoustic music to his heart's content, without the weight of the Godsmack name and subsequent label expectations. Second, he created a vehicle which allows him to create all the songs about longing and soul-searching emotional torment that it seems he's been brimming with since his band's eponymous album.

There are a certain number of things that must be said in regard to Serj's album, and they relate to both the man and the music. He possesses a nearly flawless sense of the dramatic. Sometimes teetering on the precipice of melodrama, Tankian has an innate talent for crafting music of grand context. This album, not unlike any of his solo adventures, would be well adapted for stage, complete with larger-than-life characters, exotic sets and resplendent costumes.

Just a handful of hours before they would ravage the stage, I was invited into the private confines of the tour bus for the Australian powerhouse Sick Puppies. What I encountered was not the metal powerhouse of inexhaustible energy that the band is on stage. Rather, I was presented with three young, appreciative and thoughtful musicians who are humble about their beginnings and proud of their product. We talked conversationally about music, about how they broke it big, and of course, about horror movies. So here are Shimon Moore, Emma Anzai and Mark Goodwin