Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hear N Aid - Stars

The concept behind this whole project is, in my eyes, a massive hypocrisy. To gather huge names like Dokken, Dio and Judas Priest together and do an album to raise one million dollars is folly and a clear attempt at "softening" the image of heavy metal. If these musicians wanted to help famine in Africa, they could have each reached into their deep pockets and simply written a check instead of dropping the load of dung that "Stars" is upon us. The release of this album is none other than a combination of covering up personal selfishness and reaping the rewards of an easily digested commodity / format. "Rewards? All the profit goes to charity!" you say? After you take off your blindfolds and eye patches, read the news; money isn't the only prize to gain from participating in an incredibly successful collaboration. Every single person participating in Hear N Aid knew that the single would sell like vanilla umbrellas during a chocolate syrup hurricane. Every single person involved knew that this would attract attention to their own projects, make parents slightly less likely to throw out their son's albums, and buy them a ticket to the promised land - and in the name of Heavy Metal they did this shit anyway. Blasphemy...

Now, I can't knock the music too much. It sounds like Dio except for the first solo which sounds like an alien spaceship recorded using a microphone and a rainbow scented distortion pedal (no pun intended). The solo actually makes me laugh if I listen to it several times in succession. The solo afterward is much more metal than the Martian tomfoolery of the first solo. Considering that the song was written almost entirely by the Dio gang, the traditional style of the tune is no surprise. While I can't complain that the song sounds like Dio, I can wholeheartedly wish that there were other people involved in writing the actual music for the song. There are a ton of awesome song writers on the album that could have contributed ideas and excellent riffs: Dave Murray and Adrian Smith (who only get a chance to contribute a barely audible melody line to the chorus), Ted Nugent, and George Lynch. I'm kind of surprised that Ted Nugent would ever agree to do a song like this or even take part in such a project. He seems like the "let them fend for themselves, and let me kill the boar on my acres of farmland" kind of character. Ultimately, the song is a generic 80's metal anthem-styled song with a raging hard-on for itself, "shredding" solos (notably in the extended version where the solo section is bearable (why did they chose the two worst solos to put in the single track?) and contains some actual interesting guitar work from egoist overlord Yngwie) and a catchy general melody that flows along like a nice little river from which deer drink happily and bunny rabbits fornicate besides.

I do really love the guitar tone on the single and the whole sound of the song. It is crisp, and has that vintage lots of mids and treble tone. It is clear throughout the whole track. The song would be laughable without the classic tone which is almost the only thing that allows this atrocity of metal history to survive without sounding like a joke. The cheese of the song is supported by the cheese we associate with the guitar tone. The keyboards are buried though you can hear them at points. The drums are clear too though I wish the snare was louder in the mix. The kick drum tone is beautiful though and sounds like a kick drum and not the marching band kid in math class tapping on his desk with his untrimmed fingernails. I also appreciate the clean, booming bass that cuts through the the rest of the instruments. Sadly, Jimmy Bain is not doing anything at all interesting. His plodding makes me wonder if he originally brought the idea to Ronnie as a joke. Like telling your friend "Hey lets go eat those ants that are always crawling near your front door" and then he says "Sure!" and you are pulled into eating insects off his stoop.

The huge chorus would be awesome if they were not shouting "We're Stars." No shit you're stars assholes - your all singing on a heavy metal fund raiser album with the Dio. Is it possible that this song is a hidden attempt at making fun of the mentally handicapped? "Hey guyz! I'm da Staaauurrr!" If they were shouting something like, "We're Napalm Warriors!" it would be total kick assery though not at all appropriate for a famine relief fund raiser album. I get the same basic feeling from the chorus that I get from Dream Evil's (Hah, Its like everything is a Dio reference) Made Of Metal - big balls to the wall chorus with lame lyrics. If there is one thing I always prided Dio for, it was his lyrics. He has written some of the best lyrics in metal in his time with Sabbath and with Dio but the lyrics here are trite and meaningless. Does Ronnie James Dio really "cry for the children?" Or how about Chris Holmes? Maybe when he was floating his Vodka filled pool in the blue raft he looked to the 'stars' and wondered if the hungry African children were looking at the same night sky. Holmes wondering if famished African children have anything to eat while downing bottles of vodka in a pool is an image I would love to see a renaissance painting depiction of. Maybe David Alford really cares for "the shrunk up kids" as he gives his best Tom Hanks in Forest Gump impression. The attitude towards the starving children is less than concerned by almost all those involved. I think Rob Halford is the only one who actually says anything meaningful in the interview.

Don't get me started on Gale Murphy from Rock Network Affiliate KLOS in Los Angeles. The title for the interview is misleading. It's not four and a half minutes long. It's five grueling minutes of strung out rock stars trying to sound intelligent. But then, so is the single track itself.

No comments: