heavy metal

Talk about a band that's been through the wringer. Despite lineup changes, multiple periods off, a rumored fight over the production of 2001's "God Says No," and just on November 3rd, the departure of longtime guitarist Ed Mundell, Monster Magnet rolls on.

We've all been to concerts, seen the splendor of our favorite bands, and walked home happy. Behind those pressed, clean and/or theatrical experiences, there lives an entire society of road crews, bus drivers, long hours, bad food, managers, technicians and venue staff who make all that possible. Pedro Rodriguez just got off the road, and is heading back out in November for another grueling experience. In the meantime, I got to share some words with him about touring, Dimebag Darrell, horror movies and venues across our great country.

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.