Friday, February 28, 2020

Ozzy Osbourne- Ordinary Man (Epic Records)

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   Mad, iron, miracle, vertical and now ordinary man. Ozzy has seen, done, snorted and drank it all in a life that so far has been extraordinary. The stories are out there and I've been told a few by people who were there. So what about the music? Well it's been 10 years since the release of his last solo album Scream, for many a disappointment, as was Black Rain and Down To Earth. I got something from all three, they weren't great but each had its moments and I would loved to have seen Gus G given a chance to write an Ozzy album. You would have to go back to No More Tears in 1991 for a classic Ozzy release. An album from him in 2020 gets these responses:

   The glass half-full guy: "Hey, Ozzy is a living legend and he's given me so much joy with his music since Sabbath. If it wasn't for him nobody would have heard of Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee or Zakk Wylde. The Osbournes was groundbreaking and one of the funniest shows I've seen in years. C'mon man he's 71 years old and if he wants to make a new album then more power to him, anything at this stage is a bonus, right."

   The glass half-empty guy: "Ozzy's voice is shot and has been for years, he hasn't made a decent album in nearly three decades because Bob Daisley is not there to write the songs. Zakk should be on the album, what's the point of introducing another guitarist now. The Osbournes made him a laughing stock. He's made his money and should have retired years ago when he announced it".

   So is this another disappointment or a late career comeback? Lets talk about the sound of the album first. There's no expense spared here and producer/guitarist Andrew Watt has the thing sounding amazing, Ozzy must have recorded this in a very expensive kitchen with the best blenders and filters used to get a pitch perfect performance. So much so that at times it doesn't sound like a real person singing the songs at all, there's effects on his vocals everywhere and there are a lot of vocals.

   I could live with that if the songs were great and I don't feel the majority are. Andrew Watt can play but outside of the opener Straight To Hell the album is missing great memorable riffs and solos. Goodbye and Under The Graveyard try to capture that old school Sabbath sound but are ruined with industrial sounding parts, when it comes to copying Sabbath sometimes less really is more. The trying to be punk sounding It's A Raid with Post Malone is dreadful. Eat Me goes nowhere as does Scary Little Green Men. It's the songs where Ozzy channels his love of the Beatles that save the album. All My Life is brilliant with the same vibe as I Just Want You from Ozzmosis, the title track featuring Elton John is heartfelt, listen to Today Is The End and tell me you can't hear Alice In Chains doing this. That brings me to closing track Take What You Want that should have featured Ozzy singing the whole song. If it is his last solo album and let's be honest it's looking like it I don't need to hear Post Malone sing half of it.'s ok and no victory like Priest's Firepower. A new Ozzy album that everyone will talk about for a couple of weeks before putting back in their collection where it will most likely gather dust along with the other latter day Ozzy albums. It's ordinary. Man.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

House of Lords & Autograph Guitarist Jimi Bell Guests on This Weeks Focus on Metal

Episode 449 - Jimi Bell Returns

Guitarist Jimi Bell returns this week to talk about everything he’s got going on. He’ll give us some insight into the upcoming House of Lords album and also lets us know what’s going on with his latest gig in Autograph. In case you hadn’t heard Jimi joined the band when Steve lynch left in 2019. Jimi is definitely one busy dude but he always has time to sit down and talk about stuff.

And as always Focus On Metal…Everything Else is Insignificant.

Get the this episode from the Focus on Metal SiteThe Focus on Metal RSS feed, or subscribe on iTunes.

You can hear us every Tuesday night on Pure Rock Radio
and each Wednesday afternoon on Metal World Radio

Visit for information on all the past episodes and to find the links to all our other social media sites.

And as always
Focus On Metal…Everything Else is Insignificant.

Monday, February 24, 2020


One of heavy metal’s all-time greats, Judas Priest will be celebrating their 50th anniversary this year with a world tour coming to the US in the fall. The 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour will also feature Sabaton as openers and is being fueled by the highest charting album of Priest’s career ‘Firepower’ which peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200.

“Judas Priest are primed and ready to deliver the goods with our 50 Heavy Metal Years anniversary celebration stage show spectacular! Performing a blistering cross section of songs from our lives in metal - we can't wait to raise horns with you again at this once in a metal lifetime event!” - Judas Priest

Judas Priest originally formed in 1970 in Birmingham, England (an area that many feel birthed heavy metal). The original nucleus of musicians - Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, KK Downing & Ian Hill (along with several different drummers over the years) would go on to change the face of heavy metal. Throughout the 70's Priest were responsible for helping trail blaze metal with such classic offerings as ‘Sad Wings of Destiny’ (1976) ‘Sin After Sin’ (1977) and ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ (1978) as well as one of the genre’s top live recordings ‘Unleashed in the East’ (1979) among others.

But it was during the 80's that Priest conquered the world, becoming a global arena headliner on the strength of such all-time classics as ‘British Steel’ (1980) and ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ (1982), as well as being one of the first metal bands to be embraced by the then-burgeoning MTV, plus performing at some of the decades biggest concerts (1980’s Monsters of Rock, 1983’s US Festival, and 1985’s Live Aid) and being the first to exclusively wear leather and studs – a look that began during this era and would eventually be embraced by metal heads throughout the world. Priest’s success continued throughout the 90's and beyond with the addition of drummer Scott Travis, as evidenced by such additional stellar offerings as ‘Painkiller’ (1990) ‘Angel of Retribution’ (2005) and ‘A Touch of Evil: Live’ (2009) the latter of which saw Priest win a Grammy Award for a killer rendition of the classic 'Dissident Aggressor'

In 2011 new guitarist Richie Faulkner came in to replace the previous guitarist who had left in 2010 - the move seemed to have reinvigorated the band, as evidenced by a show-stealing performance on the 'American Idol' TV program that also served as Faulkner's debut performance with the band (also in 2011 was the release of a new compilation 'The Chosen Few' which included Priest classics selected by some of metal's biggest names) and the 'Epitaph' concert DVD in 2013.

Priest’s next studio effort would arrive in 2014 ‘Redeemer of Souls’ which was supported by another strong tour.

In 2017 (and again in 2019) Judas Priest received a nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and got ready to unleash their latest studio album ‘Firepower’ (produced by Andy Sneap and Tom Allom) which received global success and critical acclaim.

Few rock or metal acts remain as much of a must-see live attraction as Judas Priest. And the forthcoming 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour will undoubtedly drive this point home.

9/9/2020 in Oxon Hill, MD at MGM National Harbor
9/11/2020 in Uniondale, NY at Nassau Coliseum
9/12/2020 in Ledyard, CT at Foxwoods Casino Arena
9/14/2020 in Philadelphia, PA at The Mann Center
9/15/2020 in Newark, NJ at Prudential Center
9/17/2020 in Charlotte, NC at PNC Music Pavilion
9/18/2020 in Orlando, FL at Central Florida Fair - Rebel Rock Fest
9/21/2020 in Grand Rapids, MI at Van Andel Arena
9/23/2020 in Detroit, MI at Fox Theatre
9/24/2020 in Youngstown, OH at Covelli Centre
9/26/2020 in Chicago, IL at Rosemont Theatre
9/27/2020 in Minneapolis, MN at The Armory
9/29/2020 in Milwaukee, WI at Miller High Life Theatre
9/30/2020 in St. Louis, MO at Saint Louis Music Park
10/2/2020 in Oklahoma City, OK at The Zoo Amphitheatre
10/3/2020 in Dallas, TX at Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
10/5/2020 in Austin, TX at HEB Center
10/6/2020 in San Antonio, TX at Freeman Coliseum
10/8/2020 in Albuquerque, NM at Sandia Resort and Casino
10/9/2020 in Denver, CO at The Mission Ballroom
10/11/2020 in Salt Lake City, UT at Vivint Smart Home Arena 
10/13/2020 in Phoenix, AZ at Arizona Federal Theatre
10/15/2020 in Los Angeles, CA at Microsoft Theater
10/17/2020 in Las Vegas, NV at Zappos Theatre at Planet Hollywood



Friday, February 21, 2020

Black Swan- Shake The World (Frontiers Records)

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   I interviewed bassist Jeff Pilson last year and he told me Frontiers Records had asked him to put together and produce some of their newer projects. Black Swan is one of the first and features Robin McAuley on vocals, Reb Beach on guitar, Jeff on bass and Matt Starr on drums. This is not your normal Frontiers cut and paste project, there's real history here. Jeff played on the last McAuley Schenker album and was best man at Robin's wedding, Robin's twin boys are the 2 kids pictured on the booklet for the Lynch/Pilson Wicked Underground album. Reb played on Dokken's Erase The Slate with Jeff. Matt played with Robin in Vegas as part of the Raiding The Rock Vault show. The band recorded the album at Jeff's studio under his stewardship.

   Robin has also never really been involved in something like this, a supergroup if you want to call it that. Reb hasn't done a project for Frontiers since The Mob in the early 2000s. Jeff is a class act, you know anything he gets involved in will have quality written all over it. So having lived with the album what does it actually sound like? It sounds like MSG, a little bit. Dokken, a little bit. Winger, a little bit. Reb's guitar tone on this at times is very different from what you hear on a Winger album especially on Big Disaster and Johnny Came Marching. It's great to hear a different aspect to his playing so late in his career.

   Wisely Frontiers left the band alone to write the album and from what I've been told are ecstatic with the result. This really is it's own entity and at times is a little darker and more modern sounding then expected. Sure the likes of Make It There have that 80s sound, it's Black Swan's version of John Waite's Missing You and Sacred Place is the other big ballad but then there's brooding stuff like She's On To Us and Long Road To Nowhere. Unless We Change and Shake The World are great up tempo rockers and the album closes with the piano led Divided/United that is very Beatles sounding.

  It's a grower of an album for sure and hats off to the 4 guys for coming up with something that doesn't sound jaded and dated. Robin told me he feels it's the best vocal performance he's ever performed on an album, he might be right and he still sounds great for someone approaching 70. This album is brilliant, man I would love to hear some of this live. With Revolution Saints, Dirty Shirley and now this Frontiers are off to a strong start in 2020.


Magnum- The Serpent Rings (SPV)

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   The Serpent Rings is Magnum's 21st studio album and they've hit a late career purple patch recently with their newer releases. When I say "they" I really mean vocalist Bob Catley and songwriter/guitarist Tony Clarkin who have been involved since their beginnings in 1972. My introduction came with their classic Wings Of Heaven album from 1988 and I've been championing the band ever since. Their sound is hard to put a finger on. Yes it's hard rock not metal with elements of prog, a hint of Queen and then I'm only halfway there. They have a very traditional British sound. It is a travesty that they are not bigger and are the Birmingham band that don't get enough attention. Polydor tried to break them in America hiring producer Keith Olsen and outside songwriters including Jim Vallance to "radio up" their sound that wasn't broken anyway. Inexplicably the label failed to release the resulting Goodnight L.A. album in the US, maybe the storm clouds of grunge could already be seen on the horizon.

   They soldiered on for the early nineties but seemed to throw in the towel until reuniting in 2001 and since then have made ten studio albums including this one. I don't know how Tony Clarkin keeps turning out one great album after another, you would figure at this stage a man in his seventies would have a bare cupboard of top drawer songs left or just be rehashing the same stuff, well there is an element of that with every band but this is not some normal "stuff". These are epic beautifully written songs that are a true joy to hear, highlights for me are the uptempo opener Where Are You Eden?, Not Forgiven and the near 7 minute title track that features a guitar solo to die for. Bob Catley still sounds great on vocals, no he doesn't have the range he once had but he has identity, you know it's him when he sings. It's comforting to know that as I near 50 this band are still out there and I can count on them every two years to come up with something that will still rock my world. They really are the old pair of slippers that still fit.




Thursday, February 20, 2020

Andreas Kisser & John Wiederhorn Guest on This Weeks Focus on Metal

Episode 448 - Raising Hell

Two guests this week. First we talk with author John Wiederhorn about his new metal volume “Raising Hell” Backstage Tales From Metal Legends. Definitely a great read and belongs on every metal heads bookshelf. 

After that talk with guitarist Andreas Kisser about Sepultura’s new release “Quadra”.

Get the this episode from the Focus on Metal SiteThe Focus on Metal RSS feed, or subscribe on iTunes.

You can hear us every Tuesday night on Pure Rock Radio
and each Wednesday afternoon on Metal World Radio

Visit for information on all the past episodes and to find the links to all our other social media sites.

And as always
Focus On Metal…Everything Else is Insignificant.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Brian Tichy Returns on This Weeks Focus on Metal

Episode 447 - A Farewell To Kings

And we’re back…

Ok maybe we’re a week later than planned but shit happens. The important thing is we’re back and we’ve got some great stuff for ya. Besides some discussion this week, Richie had a timely discussion with Brian Tichy about the influence of the legendary Neil Peart.

Here's the vid for Huck Finn from A Farewell to Kings

Get the this episode from the Focus on Metal SiteThe Focus on Metal RSS feed, or subscribe on iTunes.

You can hear us every Tuesday night on Pure Rock Radio
and each Wednesday afternoon on Metal World Radio

Visit for information on all the past episodes and to find the links to all our other social media sites.

And as always
Focus On Metal…Everything Else is Insignificant.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Sons Of Apollo- MMXX (Inside Out Music)

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   Mike Portnoy is one busy dude. He was definitely one of the first guys to feature on multiple albums from different projects especially after his high profile split from Dream Theater, for many he was the poster child of the movement. Now everyone is at it. You have to put food on the table. He can be a very polarizing guy because he's intensely driven when it comes to his music and highly opinionated, he tried to tackle the comments made on Blabbermouth years ago and wisely backed off, a battle you never win even if you are right and actually know stuff. I like the guy, I've interviewed him once and he came across as down to earth and a huge music fan. He really lives and breathes the stuff and needs multiple bands to let it all out. Many of his projects are very different: The Winery Dogs, Flying Colors, Sons Of Apollo, Transatlantic, Adrenaline Mob. None of them to me are projects, he actually plays or has played live shows with all of them unlike say a George Lynch or Rudy Sarzo.

   Sons Of Apollo released their debut a few years ago and it was a great album. Nice to see Mike team up with Derek Sherinian again. The selection of rest of the band members did surprise me not because they didn't have the chops its just that they weren't known for this type of epic music. Billy Sheehan is known for Talas, David Lee Roth and his long association with Mr. Big. Jeff Scott Soto with Yngwie and probably his stint with Journey and Ron Bumblefoot Thal with Guns 'N' Roses. Five minute tracks, huge hits,big choruses. I caught the band live promoting the debut and they blew me away especially the enthusiasm of Jeff Scott Soto and who knew Bumblefoot was such a great singer? Not me for one.

   Hot on the heels of their live album from late last year comes this, the highly anticipated follow up. No real curveballs this time as we kind of know what to expect sound wise. Opener Goodbye Divinity with the athmospheric intro before the heavy riffs. The closing New World Today clocking in at almost 16 minutes. The fantastic musicianship on display. There's no instrumental this time and the album is more cohesive because of it and it's great to hear Jeff Scott Soto on every song. There's a bonus disc of all tracks without the vocals if you are that way inclined, I have it and will never listen to it. How can taking something away make it better? Most of the other tracks are in the five to six minute range, King Of Delusion being the highlight at close to 9 minutes featuring some beautiful piano passages from Derek giving the music a greater impact when the rest of the band kick in. All in all another winner.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Dirty Shirley- Dirty Shirley (Frontiers Records)

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   If ever the saying "don't judge a book by its cover" applied to anything then this is it. The album cover is godawful and whoever at the label thought it a good idea needs their eyes examined. Also a sticker on the front identifying who plays on it would help, for the store browser you get a crap cover and a band name revealing nothing. Eddie sold Maiden records. Try harder. I saw many negative comments on the Frontiers Facebook page about the artwork, the response from the label was many smiley faced emojis. Swell.

   A pity because there's nothing really negative I can say about the actual music. This is the latest in a long list of recent projects featuring George Lynch, at this stage the guy is on 3 or 4 albums a year and even with that level of output all are far from shit. The star of the album for me though is singer Dino Jelusick (the Frontiers website spells his name without a k at the end, the cd has the k) who would be singing in Lynch Mob if his name wasn't Oni Logan and he lived in the US. The guy has a fantastic set of pipes. Musically the album is very similar to what George has done in Lynch Mob and last years The End: Machine, that's where I have a small issue with it. KXM and Ultraphonix had George playing a little outside his comfort zone trying different styles of music, some of this feels a little safe and repetitive. It's hard rock with a bluesy twist, even the closing acoustic based ballad Grand Master sounds exactly like The Forgotten Maiden's Pearl from The Brotherhood a few years ago.

   All in all though a really strong album, I love the third song I Disappear. Those dark brooding rockers from George are always my favorite similar to When Darkness Calls from the second Lynch Mob album or For A Million Years from Wicked Sensation. Opener Here Comes The King is also really strong. Hopefully Frontiers will pony up the cash for them to do another one and do away with the crap cover art. Adrian Vandenberg should have picked Dino to sing in his revamped Vandenberg line up instead of Ronnie Romero in my opinion. Yes he's that good.



Revolution Saints- Rise (Frontiers Records)

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   Revolution Saints are another Frontiers project put together from a brainstorming (don't you love that word, the label uses it a lot) session featuring Deen Castronovo on drums/vocals, Doug Aldrich on guitar and Jack Blades on bass/vocals. The original label concept was to start this as a Deen solo project and have Jack and Doug guest on it. The label changed its mind, came up with a band name and now here we are 3 albums in.

   These projects can be hit or miss for me. In general I find it hard to truly get invested in something that I know is one and done and this coming from someone who has had artists on the show to help promote it, case in point being the Andrew Freeman/Mike Slamer The Devil's Hand album. Love it yet in talking to Andrew I knew the whole thing was already done and dusted. Then there's the touring question or more like the lack of it. Is it lack of label tour support? Apathy from music fans and promoters only nostalgic for the past? Scheduling issues with musicians who often make these albums in separate locations, what makes you think they want or need to share the same live stage? The answer is all of them and more.

   Some stick with me more then others and Revolution Saints are one of them. Yes it sounds a lot like Journey, the label know they they aren't making new music so why not get their former drummer who sings a lot like Steve Perry and make the next best thing? They've tried it on their first two albums but I think this one betters both. Doug Aldrich and more importantly Jack Blades have become invested in the songwriting and performances. In the beginning it was Frontiers Alessandro Del Vecchio who wrote and handed the songs to all 3, it felt more like a band covering songs. On Rise Jack and Doug have co-writes on six of them, one written by Jack alone and another with Tommy Shaw. Deen told me in an interview last year he wanted Jack more heavily involved, well he got his wish.

   This one consistently rocks more then the previous two, opener When The Heartache Has Gone features a fantastic guitar solo by Doug, the title track Rise moves along at a brisk pace, Talk To Me would have been a huge hit in the 80s but there's a lot of Frontiers songs I could say that about. The ones that work best feature Deen and Jack on lead vocals, a full album of that would be something. Honestly, anything with Doug Aldrich on guitar I'm buying. Now let the 3 of them write the next one please.