StarBuck’s top musical influences

Posted: January 6, 2012 in Music
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Working in the Finnish music industry as a lyric coach, vocal pronunciation/enunciation coach (English), as well as a songwriter and vocalist myself in three bands currently (Crossfyre, Overnight Sensation, Angel of Sodom), people often ask me what my top musical influences are.  Therefore, I thought to write a little blog about the subject and touch briefly on my personal Top 10.

MÖTLEY CRÜE – I fell in love with their Shout at the Devil album back in 1983 when I was 10 years old.  I have always identified with the classic Mötley vibe, and their first five albums will always hold a special place in my heart.  When I was growing up, I had three real life role models: Don Johnson from Miami Vice, Arnold Schwarzenegger and vocalist Vince Neil from the Crüe.  Not that Vince is the best vocalist out there, but he is unique, and as Nikki Sixx told me back in 2006 when I met him in Helsinki, “It’s better to be unique than to be good”.  Raw, testosterone-charged, kick-ass hard rock.

TROUBLE – Chicago’s doom and stoner metal pioneers Trouble were introduced to me through my old buddy, fellow wrestler Chris Jericho, who has since gone on to incredible international fame – but his music tastes have remained the same (at least when I spoke to him last).  Trouble’s self-titled 1990 album knocked my socks off with it’s colossal riffs and dire heaviness.  One of the most under-the-radar bands of the past 30 years, no doubt about it.  If you want riffs, real riffs, this band can deliver like Tony Iommi in his prime.

BLACK SABBATH – boy, big surprise here.  It’s not like 99% of the metal and hard music world ranks Sabbath amongst their favorites.  Why beat a dead horse?  All that needs to be said of Sabbath has already been well documented elsewhere a million times.  My favorite album in their catalogue is Master of Reality, with the best set of back-to-back solid material the band has ever written.  Plus, it’s the heaviest of their albums overall.

OVERKILL – New Jersey thrash metalheads Overkill have always had the one thing that all other bands in the genre missed – the lyrical brilliance and glass-shattering, pissed-off screetch of Bobby “Blitz Ellsworth.  With some of the most poignant, sarcastic and parable-like messages in all of metaldom, Blitz is undeniably the Al Pacino of thrash metal.  That little selling point, in and of itself, should say everything that needs to be said about Overkill to anyone out there.  Riffs aside, that is.

EXODUS – another thrash metal standout for me since my teens.  Pleasures of the Flesh, Fabulous Disaster, Tempo of the Damned and Shovel Headed Kill Machine are all stellar examples of relentless and savage thrash that isn’t missing the element of groove, which is oftentimes the defining factor between good and great in this genre.  In addition, Exodus has managed to sound current throughout the years, evolving in fashion until their last two Atrocity Exhibition albums, which for the most part are badly lacking the tried and true Exodus vibe, instead trying to sound somewhat akin to Lamb of God or something in that vein.

OZZY OSBOURNE – I am not counting anything after No More Tears, since it seems that any band that was worth anything in the 1980’s fell off the map and dabbled in dire shite post-1992.  Like Mickey Rourke said in the movie The Wrestler, “The 90’s fucking sucked!”, and for the most part, he was right.  The Ozzman might have been messed up in the 80’s, but his music in that period was brilliant.  I would wager to argue that Ozzy actually had the ability to write good music back then, but as soon as he tried to keep with the times and sound modern he lost the golden ball.  Ozzy is an 80’s phenomenon, and his magic is found in that era.  And we really didn’t EVER need to see The Osbournes.

BRIDE -a lesser-known Christian hard rock and metal band, whose best material is found in the 80’s to mid-90’s.  Vocalist Dale Thompson really deserves a larger audience to appreciate his immense talent.  It’s tragic and sad that most people can’t get their prejudices out of the “Christian rock” roadblock and just enjoy bands like this for what they are: ultra-talented.  For the most part, their best period was one of great songs, wicked vocals and internationally-viable musical fare.  Must-hear albums: Live to Die, Silence is Madness, Kinetic Faith, Snakes in the Playground, Scarecrow Messiah.

VAN HALEN – now when I mention Van Halen, I am talking about the David Lee Roth era.  The DLR Halen was raw, ambitious and edgy.  One cannot say the same of the Sammy Hagar-era of Van Halen, which was surefire, commercial, over-produced and oftentimes sappy (way too many love songs).  Roth proved that you don’t need to be auto-tuned and in-pitch to be great and become classic.  Another stellar example of being unique taking precedence over being good.  Even though VH has always been good.  Except with Gary Cherone.

RUNNING WILD -Rockin’ Rolf and his band of merry metal pirates forged some of the most powerful heavy metal that these ears have heard, even to date.  Sure, other German bands like Helloween and Gamma Ray were producing music much in the same vein, but there was a blunt, straight-forwardness to Running Wild that set them apart.  They weren’t in it for the bells, whistles and artistic masturbation.  Running Wild was a raw punch between the headlights when others were showing off how fancy they could be.

BLACK STONE CHERRY -The perfect mix of southern rock, metal, hard rock and blues.  The fact that these fellas are still so young and manage to sound twice their age is a mystery to me.  They have a sense of maturity that belies their experience.  On top of that they have the kind of songwriting aptitude that I have heard few others master, especially considering that they are not veterans.  I still vividly recall being in Kemi, Finland back in December 2006, where I coached Sonata Arctica vocalist Tony Kakko for the band’s Unia album, and outside of my work with him I would incessantly listen the BSC’s debut album.  Gritty, honest and true, all the way through.

ENTOMBED – Sweden’s metal powerhouse, from death metal to thrash metal to metallic punk, Entombed are so vicious and brutal that few can follow them at their best.  Colossal in sound, aided largely by the bowels of Hell-vocals of LG Petrov, Entombed stomp like a massive dinosaur, crushing all in their path.  How can you NOT like that?  Chunky riffs, visceral aggression and thundering rhythms.  An ideal combination, say I.

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