FIVE HEAVY ARTISTS FROM ARKANSAS: 4. Black Oak Arkansas

OK, so when you think of the state of Arkansas, do you think of… anything?  Maybe not unless you’re from the southwest.  When it comes to the tuneage, Evanescence is to Arkansas what Nickelback is to Alberta, but that’s not to say the Razorback State hasn’t produced its share of much, much heavier acts–including one that’s hitting Toronto on Friday.  So go do whatever they do in Arkansas, and crank up some of the bands on this list!

5. Iron Tongue

4. Black Oak Arkansas

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The original Arkansas heavy-rock outfit, named after its hometown (pop 262), put its home state on the map with a string of records on ATCO in the early 70’s.  Their southern-rock sound blended stirring country-rock ballads with raunchy funk/blues and no shortage of hilbilly charm from heavily-accented frontman Jim Dandy, he who has been known to come to the rescue a time or two.  But the band was at its best when it was at its sleaziest, and there’s perhaps no sleazier piece of vinyl than Side A of 1975’s X Rated album.  From the porno-funk strut of “Fightin’ Cock” to the love ‘em and leave ‘em road anthem “Highway Pirate”…even semi-tender ballad “Strong Enough to be Gentle” has got balls!  But there’s no ballsier number than the opening cut, “Bump ‘n’ Grind.”  Let’s just say that if this thumping chorus doesn’t get ya in the mood, you might wanna get that tested:

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FIVE HEAVY ARTISTS FROM ARKANSAS: 5. Iron Tongue

OK, so when you think of the state of Arkansas, do you think of… anything?  Maybe not unless you’re from the southwest.  When it comes to the tuneage, Evanescence is to Arkansas what Nickelback is to Alberta, but that’s not to say the Razorback State hasn’t produced its share of much, much heavier acts–including one that’s hitting Toronto on Friday.  So go do whatever they do in Arkansas, and crank up some of the bands on this list!

5. Iron Tongue

Not sure whether they’re officially considered a supergroup, or just a side-project, but this heavy southern blues-rock outfit from Little Rock features members from all kinds of other bands, including at least one that appears later in this list.  Their debut album, The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown dropped last year on Neurot, and while not quite as leftfield as some of that label’s other acts, she’s still a heavy vegetable.  Check out the pulse-pounding “Witchery” below:

2014 CFL POWER RANKINGS: Week 17

As the CFL season comes to a close, only one of the two divisions is really heading down to the wire.  Out West, Calgary and Edmonton clinched their spots with wins last week, while the CFL Least Division remains a one-armed scissor fight with the off chance that three teams actually might make it.  For what it’s worth, I think B.C. beats Loseapeg next week to claim the crossover spot, and the Argos won’t get to make use of their lack of a homefield advantage.  But hey, that all remains to be seen.  Here’s how I see things right now:

Preseason Predictions

Last Week’s Rankings

Rankings Archive

1. Calgary Stampeders (13-2) Last Week: 1.  With Bo Levi back behind centre, the Stamps clinched homefield advantage for the West Final with a relatively easy win over Loseapeg.  Clearly, their QB is fully healthy, and he made a huge difference on offence (full disclosure: I only watched the first half) for Calgary.

2. Edmonton Eskimos (11-5) Last Week: 2.  Although they’ve got absolutely no chance of catching Calgary–what with their three losses to the Stamps this season–the Esks are a solid second place out West.  Here’s hoping they make it four losses come November! :P

3. B.C. Lions (8-7) Last Week: 3.  Even though they didn’t play last week, I guess I’ll keep B.C. at 3 for now.  Hey, unlike the entire Least Division, they’ve actually got a winning record–and unlike Saskatchewan and Loseapeg, they haven’t lost at least four straight.

4. Montreal Alouettes (7-8) Last Week: 4.  I gotta say, though, Montreal is number four with a bullet, after picking up its fourth straight win.  At the start of the season, I picked ‘em to finish third in the Least–and while my projected 8-10 record might actually be accurate, this team is starting to look like the class of the division right now.  It’s still too early to call, of course, but there might actually be a game at the Big O this postseason…

5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-8) Last Week: 6.  OK, so they just beat the worst expansion team since the last time Ottawa had an expansion team, and by a mere 16-6 margin, at that…but a win is a win, and with the W, the Cats keep pace with the Als in the Least.

6. Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-7) Last Week: 7.  Well, it’s safe to say that, even at 41, Kerry Joseph’s a better quarterback than the two kids they had backing up Durant…and starting in his absence.  Who knows, they might even win another game between now and the end of the year–I suspect that Calgary and Edmonton might rest a few of their starters in the coming weeks. ;)

7. Toronto Argonauts (6-9) Last Week: 5.  Not only are they the team with the league’s smallest fanbase in the country’s largest city, but the Argos are also a sinking ship.  After scoring just 12 points in Montreal last week, Toronto might hafta win out just to make the playoffs…and only one of their remaining games is against the REDBLACKS!!!!!

8. Loseapeg Blue Bombers (6-10) Last Week: Last (tied).  Though they still didn’t really come close to winning, Loseapeg’s 33-23 loss to Calgary was just enough to break the tie between them and the REDBLACKS!!!!!, who only scored six points last week.

9. Ottawa REDBLACKS!!!!! (2-13) Last Week: Last (tied).  Don’t have much to say about this team at this point, other than that the Riders ultimately decided to bring 41-year-old Kerry Joseph out of retirement rather than trading for the REDBLACKS!!!!! “franchise QB.”  And with that, it’s time for another installment of Ottawa’s greatest attractions, back after a two-week hiatus:

It’s the Ottawa Public Library!  Cuz let’s face it, where else are ya gonna go after 7:30 on a Saturday night in the nation’s capital? ;)

AMATEUR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: KING DIAMOND @ Sound Academy, Toronto, October 18, 2014

I usually don’t tend to go to the Sound Academy–it’s a little out of the way, and not entirely TTC-friendly, especially when you’re coming from downtown.  It takes somebody that I really wanna see to get me out there…somebody like King Diamond.  The dude’s stage setup rivals some stadium-touring bands–reminded me a bit of Maiden–and while there was no animatronic Eddie, let’s just say the guy *might* have some grandmother issues, even at age 58.  King can really still sing, though!

Anyways, I wasn’t quite front-and-centre for this gig, so keep that in mind.  But I do think these are better shots than some of the other large concert hall (Danforth Music Hall, Sound Academy) editions I’ve done.  Of course, I do have a slightly better camera these days…

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AMATEUR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: SATAN @ The Garrison, Toronto, October 17, 2014

All hail Satan!  The NWOBHM cult icons’ original lineup reunited 28 years after the release of their seminal Court in the Act album and have since recorded a comeback effort, along with playing Wacken and whatnot.  But this was their first time in Toronto–probably in Canada, for that matter–and man, I dunno who they’ve got doing sound on this tour, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t just as good as the record…both records, at that!

Let’s just say I might have been too busy headbanging to take too many pictures.  I musta been possessed by Satan. ;)

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CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED: Satan – Court in the Act (Neat/Roadrunner, 1983)

We break from your regularly-scheduled King Diamond programming to bring you…Satan! No, not the Dark Lord Lucifer himself, but rather the recently reformed British heavy metal band, whose debut album, Court in the Act, remains one of the NWOBHM’s semi-lost classics. (And hey, comeback effort Life Sentence ain’t too shabby, either!) Just for the record, these guys aren’t Satanic, nor do they crank out concept albums about the British legal system …

After instrumental intro “Into the Fire,” the succeeding “Trial by Fire” cranks out a fast-paced piece of proto-speed metal, surprisingly melodic vocals soaring overtop. “Blades of Steel” slice and dice with some steady chuggage, though things get surprisingly slow and mellow for a little while there. “No Turning Back” is another vintage speedster, with a bass-heavy verse alternating between vocals and riffs. “Broken Treaties” ends side A with some speedy, soaring riffs, shades of early Maiden and mid-80’s Priest, though the vocal style is distinctly Satan.

“Break Free” opens Side B with a flourish, launching into a jaunty speed-metal romp that snaps skulls and breaks necks. “Hunt You Down” throws some stop-start action into a vicious chorus, another vintage tune that just screams “Metaaaaal!” Extended instrumental “The Ritual” maintains a brisk, galloping pace, not unlike Maiden’s “Losfer Words,” before the album ends with a bit of jailhouse humour. “Alone in the Dock” features a slow, plodding verse that builds up to a more mid-paced metal anthem. Many repressings mislabel this one as “Alone in the Dark”—much to Chuck Billy’s behest, I’m certain!

KING DIAMOND REVISITED: Give Me Your Soul… Please (Metal Blade, 2007)

King Diamond’s most recent recording actually dates back over seven years—this tour is actually in support of a two-CD greatest hits set that hits stores next month. Coincidentally, this record came out right when WWE wrestler Chris Benoit killed his kids and then himself…as it’s a ghastly tale of double-infanticide/suicide and the undead spirits that linger as a result.

Organ-backed spoken-word intro “The Dead” makes it clear these kids are no longer among the living, before “Never Ending Hill” picks up the pace, a pretty standard speed-metal opener that I swear I’ve heard on two or three different KD records already. “Is Anybody Here?” is a pretty decent piece of power metal, with a serpentine riff slithering throughout, while “Black of Night” finally sees King let loose his falsetto on a sword-wielding stomper without much fanfare.

“Mirror Mirror” is more of that slightly more than mid-paced stomp ‘n chug, solid but unspectacular. “The Cellar” actually sounds sorta like Dokken, with some very Lynchian guitar flourishes interspersed within a throwback 80’s romp. Whispered-word interlude “Pictures in Red” leads into “Give Me Your Soul,” only this time, King doesn’t say please on this rather stock stomper with a child-sung chorus. Maybe if I paid more attention to the lyrics, I could comment on the character development, but the fact is, this album isn’t all that interesting.

“Floating Head” only sounds like it has a guest riff by Dimebag, a staccato chugging that sounds sorta nu-metal. Kinda makes ya wanna snap yer fingers, snap yer neck… “Cold As Ice” also leans pretty heavy towards the bottom end, though this one’s more of a power-metal dragon-rider. Let’s just say the chorus is slightly heavier than Foreigner.

“Shapes of Black” actually begins with some old-timey piano trading off with the guitars, a meandering number that never quite moves away from the fun-house feel. “The Girl in the Bloody Dress” is also pretty synth-heavy, this one giving off a bit of a new-wave/gothic feel. OK, so maybe more goth than new wave. “Moving On” actually starts off like some new-age meditation soundtrack, though it eventually progresses to metal-ballad territory. That said, I feel like I mentally moved on six or seven songs ago…