Hard Rock Daddy presents Music Discovery Monday – 2/15/16.
Each week, the HRD team shares songs that fly below radio’s radar, ranging from lesser-known artists to deeper cuts from both up-and-coming and established artists.
In addition to exposing the Hard Rock Daddy audience to new music that isn’t getting the attention that it deserves from radio, Music Discovery Monday also features a segment called “Hard Rock Music Time Machine,” which showcases older songs (from the ’70s to today) that hard rock music fans may have missed at the time of release.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlists beneath each section, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles.
This week, Music Discovery Monday features an exclusive interview with Mike LePond (Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins, Symphony X), who discusses a powerful tune off of his debut solo album and the health issues that he has dealt with that made playing slower songs with Symphony X in concert very difficult.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
Mike LePond had two songs featured on Hard Rock Daddy’s Top 135 Hard Rock Songs of 2015. Both of the reviews from that list are featured below, giving readers a chance to discover these songs in a more meaningful way. In addition to the reviews, LePond shared some of his insight about the songs in a recent exclusive interview with Hard Rock Daddy…
MIKE LE POND’S SILENT ASSASSINS – “Apocalypse Rider”
Symphony X bassist Mike LePond dials it up a notch on “Apocalypse Rider” (from his debut eponymous solo project), a song that has the same pulse-racing feel as Metallica’s“Motorbreath.” The band features fellow Symphony X member Michael Romeo (guitar), in addition to vocalist Alan Tecchio (Watchtower, Hades, Non-Fiction) and guitarist Metal Mike (Halford, Testament). Though much more straight-forward metal than his work with Symphony X, the band manages to weave some melodic vocal harmonies into “Apocalypse Rider” without ever slowing the freight train momentum that starts with the first note. This is pure, timeless heavy metal.
Mike LePond on the meaning and inspiration behind “Apocalypse Rider”…
“I always wanted to put out a record in the classic heavy metal vein. My guitar player from Symphony X, Michael Romeo, really helped with Silent Assassins in a number of ways. I got a couple of really good guys from New Jersey to help record the album (Alan Tecchio, ‘Metal’ Mike Chlasciak). Things turned out great with all of the local guys.
My favorite music in the world is raw, in-your-face, no frills heavy metal. I wanted to write a song that made the younger generation of today feel like I did when I listened to Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All album, or like when I first listened to Judas Priest, you know, that punch in the face that you get. I think that a lot of metal bands today don’t give you that heavy riff right in your face, so I wanted to put that out there.
I came up with this riff that’s kind of a combination of Motorhead and Exciter. The lyrics are about Attila the Hun riding into battle. I wanted to make it like Attila the Hun, but also, if you ride a motorcycle, you can get into it too. I thought that it was cool to start off the record because it’s full-on, in-your-face, raw metal.”
SYMPHONY X – “Without You”
You have to wonder where Symphony X would be if the band had launched in the mid-‘80s instead of the mid-‘90s. Other than timing (and maybe luck), there is very little separating them from the hard rock and heavy metal bands that rose to stardom and carried that momentum forward when the grunge movement began. If their timing was better, it’s easy to imagine them being mentioned in the same breath has Queensryche and Dream Theater. Vocalist extraordinaire, Russell Allen, gets his fair share of attention from other artists and fans in the know, but it’s fair to say that his talent exceeds his fame by leaps and bounds. The same can be said for founder/guitarist Michael Romeo, bassist Mike LePond, keyboardist Michael Pinnella and drummer Jason Rullo. ‘Without You’ showcases the immense talent and chemistry of this powerhouse quintet. From the outstanding vocals and vocal harmonies to the subtle nuances that are best heard though headphones and the interesting arrangement, ‘Without You’ is everything that you want in a song from this genre. Sadly, this American band has a sound that is appreciated much more by overseas audiences than right here at home.
Mike LePond shares an interesting story about the health challenges that he had to deal with when playing “Without You” live…
“I think that touring is a thing that you either love or hate, and I love it. I could do it all day long. I think that I’m just made for it. If someone would have told me in the early ‘90s (when I was working a desk job) that I’d be touring the world, I would have told them that they were insane. I always feel blessed and lucky to be doing something that I dreamed of doing as a kid.
I’ve had to deal with some health issues, but I’ve been doing really well since 2013. I had Crohn’s Disease (which is a really bad stomach issue) for about 20 years. I had surgery in 2013, and things have been good since then. I’ve gained all my weight back, so hopefully things will continue like this.
One of the biggest nightmares was dealing with the disease on tour, where often times, you end up eating whatever is around. I’ve played some shows in unbelievable pain. I don’t even know how I got through them. It must have been adrenaline. It would be a situation where I’d be laying down with a heating pad all day long in pain, but then, five minutes before the show, I’d force myself to get dressed and go on stage. Once the adrenaline kicked in, I’d be ok.
The funny thing is, when we would break into a ballad like ‘Without You,’ the pain would come rushing back. So, I used to dread the slower songs. If there were any songs like that where there was no bass, and just a piano section or something like that, I would go behind the amplifiers and just sit down and rest. I’m all good now, so I can play ‘Without You’ now without any fear.”
JON LOVELESS – HRD Music Scout
HOLY GRAIL – “Descent Into The Maelstrom”
“Descent Into The Maelstrom” is the first track that I’ve heard from Holy Grail’s new studio album (the third from this California-based band that formed back in 2008). Although this is not my first exposure to the band, this song does mark the first time that I’ve ever consciously noticed a vocal resemblance between James Paul Luna and M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold. Going back through their catalog, I do hear the resemblance in earlier work, but this song brings it out more to me. This track has a more modern sound than some of their previous, (more traditional) metal sounds. It’s a promising direction.
VANILLA WOMEN – “Shakin’ My Cage”
There’s a line – somewhere – between “supergroup” and “new configuration of familiar artists.” I won’t begin to attempt to define that line here. What I will say, however, is that this new outfit (which includes former members of Puddle Of Mudd, Shinedown/Fuel and Mofro/Cold) stands up very well compared to some more heavily-hyped rosters. Musically, it’s definitely a first taste that has me interested in hearing more.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
INTUITIVE – “Start The Show”
Guitarist/songwriter Rui Martins (ex-Faithfull) put together this melodic hard rock band, set to release their debut album (Reset) at the end of this month. The Portugese quartet strikes up a nice groove on this early release.
THE PHOENIX – “My Turn To Deal”
The Phoenix is a brand new, all-female Italian band exporting hard rock with an attitude. Their first album has only four songs, but there’s some addictive headbanging going on here. Great vocals, driving riffs, and an in-your-face delivery, makes for a great combination.
CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout
WAKEN EYES – “Palisades”
“Palisades” is a stellar track from Waken Eyes’ debut album, Exodus. This intricate song delivers on all fronts, starting with a brilliant staggered entrance. The vocals are excellent, as is the lead guitar and solo. Listen to the top-notch coordination and articulation of the bass and drums.
JEFF HUGHELL – “The Crook Won’t Cool It Down”
Virtuoso bassist Jeff Hughell takes you on a great ride through a fusion of different genres and styles in this track from his new album, Trinidad Scorpion Hallucinations. A departure from the death metal that he is known for (Six Feet Under, Assylym, Vile), this jam and album features only Hughell using a 7-string bass and Marco Pitruzzella on drums.
To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com
HARD ROCK MUSIC TIME MACHINE
SKID ROW – “Get The Fuck Out” (1991)
Skid Row has been in the news once again this week as rumors persist that the band has found their replacement for Tony Harnell, whose tenure with the band was much briefer than expected. While no official announcement has been made, it looks like there will not be a reunion with Sebastian Bach, something that fans wanted, and thought possible in light of the GNR reunion. The two bands played together in their heyday, so the hopeful speculation was understandable. As of now, it looks like the band will move forward with ZP Theart (Dragonforce). No matter how good of a fit that Theart may be with the band, the clamoring for a Baz reunion will never subside. Even if you could find someone to match the vocal talent, it’s the personality of the charismatic frontman that is impossible to replace. It is that personality that made songs like “Get The Fuck Out” so powerful. Bach has a way of infusing humor into rage, as is the case with this song, which does NOT appear on the “clean” version of the band’s classic album, Slave To The Grind.
MONSTER MAGNET – “Space Lord” (1998)
Spinefarm Records has just released newly remastered versions of Monster Magnet’s classic albums from their A&M days (Superjudge, Dopes To Infinity, Powertrip and God Says No). One of the most notable songs from those releases was 1998’s “Space Lord.” Like fellow New Jersey rockers Skid Row (above), salty language forced this psychedelic rock band to censor themselves…replacing the line “Space Lord, motherfucker” with “Space Lord, mother, mother” so that it could be played on Mainstream radio. Thankfully, the change was seamless, keeping the integrity of the vocal melody intact. Either way, “Space Lord” is one of the better songs of the late ‘90s, coming at a time when the hard rock genre was emerging from the doldrums (at least in the mainstream).
HOLY GRAIL – “Dark Passenger” (2013)
“Dark Passenger” is a track from the band’s second album, which I think of as being more their typical style. A more traditional metal sound (to my ear at least) than the latest release, but it really shows that they’re quite capable in more than one specific style.
JOE WALSH – “Analog Man” (2012)
Title track from a very fine album that did well (in spite of relatively limited airplay). The guitar sounds are classic Walsh, with strong production provided by Jeff Lynne. It’s a less aggressive form of rock than my tastes frequently run, but it’s really a treat of a song and an album.
CHRIS LANEY – “B4 It Is Too Late” (2010)
With extensive production and engineering credits on the hard rock and glam scene (Crazy Lixx, Zan Clan, etc.), in 2009 and 2010 Chris Laney put out two solo albums. On those albums he sings, plays both guitar and bass, and is accompanied by an impressive array of other musicians and background singers. This favorite comes from his sophomore effort, easing in with piano and his yearning vocals, before exploding with guitars and layers of background vocals. He has spent the last few years developing a new band (Laney’s Legion) that is busy writing new songs.
CORNERSTONE – “Wicked” (2007)
Lead singer Doogie White was the voice of Rainbow during their brief revival in the ‘90s, so it’s no surprise that his work with Cornerstone builds on that classic sound. This wonderful piece is beautifully representative of how they were able to adapt that fine tradition to the new millennium.
CRYSTALLION – “Burning Bridges” (2006)
Bavaria’s Crystallion plays fantasy-themed heavy metal that is straight-forward and uncomplicated. “Burning Bridges” showcases Thomas Strübler’s very good, very clear voice that brings solid melody to traditional metal power chords with some up-tempo/speed metal percussion.
SAINT DEAMON – “My Judas” (2008)
Swedish power metal outfit Saint Deamon has been around since 2006. “My Judas” is from their debut album, In Shadows Lost From The Brave. Jan Thore Grefstad’s tremendous voice underscores the anguish and resentment of the song’s unmistakable theme. Although this fine band is still active, they’ve been relatively quiet, with no new recordings since 2009.