Monday, October 16, 2017

October 16th, 2017 - Born Of The Flame: An Interview With Jag Panzer Guitarist/Keyboardist Mark Briody


Good evening!  A very special treat for you tonight rockers and rollers...

Formed in 1981 by guitarist Mark Briody, vocalist Harry Conklin, bassist John Tetley, and drummer Rick Hilyard and heavily influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Jag Panzer exploded on the metal scene with their debut album "Ample Destruction", which was released in 1984 with the addition of lead guitarist Joey Tafolla.  Although they never received the commercial and critical success they more than deserve, the band has persevered, releasing 10 amazing studio albums over the years that have heavily influenced and inspired the power metal scenes in not only America, but Europe, Asia, and South America.   Their latest album, "The Deviant Chord" was released on September 29th, 2017 and is a testament to the artistic prowess, strong songwriting, and the pure talent Jag Panzer has been known for all these years!!

I recently sat down with founding member Mark Briody at the Trinity Brewing Company in Colorado Springs to enjoy some brews and discuss the band's history, the release of their brand new album, "The Deviant Chord" (see my pairing here: http://brewsandtunes.blogspot.com/2017/10/october-10th-2017-one-naked-ear-and.html), and heavy metal in general.


B&T: So brand new album out, "The Deviant Chord.  Can you tell me a little bit about putting this together? This just came out last week?

MB: Yes, September 29th.  It took us a couple of years to write it.  I'm a slow writer and I like to throw away anything that isn't good.  For this album, we had a meeting as a band.  It was really, really important for us to have a lot of variety on this record to completely cover the spectrum of metal.  We wanted to cover a lot of ground with different tempos, different key signatures, different time signatures.  So that added to the length of the time writing it.  We are pretty happy with it though.  People seem to like it.

B&T: Yeah, it's a wonderful album.  I probably listen to it 3 or 4 times a day since it was released.  I'm kinda obsessed with it.  I've been telling a lot of people about it.  I read in one interview you did that the song "Foggy Dew" is a traditional Irish song I guess your father used to sing, right?

MB: Yeah, he used to sing it all the time.  He had a great voice.  My mother couldn't sing at all.  They gave her crayons during choir class.  Hence my average, mediocre singing voice.  He was a very good singer.  He used to sing all the time.  And "Foggy Dew" was something he would sing several times a week.  So I liked the song for as long as I can remember.  By the time I was about 16 or 17 and learning how to write songs, I had that arrangement in my head.  I would hear my dad sing the melodies and I would think "this could be a metal song".  So I've had the rough arrangement for years in my head so it was really trying to find the right album to put it on.  So for this record I actually just recorded an instrumental version of myself and sent it to the other guys and didn't even tell them it was a cover.  "What do you think of this music?"  And they all liked it so I told them it was actually a cover.  They all gave the green light to do it.

B&T: Well, it's a beautiful song and you guys do a great job with it.  There's a bit of a Thin Lizzy vibe to it and not just because it is Irish, but also with the dual guitar work.  Were you going for that?

MB: Yeah, Thin Lizzy is definitely an inspiration.  Irish music was music I heard as a very, very young child.  And Thin Lizzy sort of bridged the gap for me with the dual guitar work because I was a big Thin Lizzy fan when I started playing guitar.  Eventually, Iron Maiden became my favorite band so Thin Lizzy was definitely a stepping stone for me.

B&T: Who influenced you in your early years and how did you get into music?  What was the inspiration to become a guitar player and a keyboard player?

MB: Our singer Harry was... well 3 of us, John, Harry, and I have known each other since we were 6 years old.  And Harry always sang.  So I think I was about 13 or 14 and he got a job singing with much older guys like 18 year olds, high school seniors.  I liked to go support Harry and watched one of his gigs and the guys he played with weren't handsome guys, but they all had pretty girlfriends.  And we talked "and we should try this!"  That was really the sole inspiration [laughs].  So we started originals pretty early on.  We were playing clubs when we were still in high school.  These were the small clubs in little towns in Colorado.  They didn't allow originals so we would play an original and call it like "B-side of Black Sabbath's Paranoid Import".  We were recording originals at the time as well.  I didn't anticipate a record deal.  I thought our music was probably a little heavier than anything around so I didn't make any kind of deal.  Then I discovered the New Wave of British Heavy Metal... "oh, maybe our music isn't too heavy!  Maybe there is a market for this."  That was a huge eye-opener for us... Angel Witch, Diamond Head, Demon.  As far as a group, I guess our biggest influences were Thin Lizzy, UFO, Rainbow, Black Sabbath with Dio, Uriah Heep, Rush.  We don't really sound anything like Rush, but Rush was always a huge band for us.  Oh, Budgie.  We used to play "Impeccable."

B&T: What do you listen to now?  Are there any local bands that you like or what do you listen to nowadays?

MB: I listen to about everything.  I still love the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.  I'm a huge Iron Maiden fan.  Later bands: Blind Guardian, Iced Earth, Gamma Ray.

B&T: Are you going to be touring to promote the new album?  Do you have any gigs lined up right now?

MB: We actually are getting a ton of gig offers, but it is really a matter of making something work.  We have a lot of tour and show offers coming in so just trying to get one that works.

B&T: Do have plans to tour the States at all?

MB: We'd like to get everywhere as long as we can make it work financially.

B&T: It seems now with digital music, it has become even more complicated and tricky for bands to make money now.

MB: It is.  It's hard.  Our first 3 albums with Central Media, they would bankroll anything.  Like Wacken.  We'd get offered a certain amount and they'd cover the rest.  It was great.  Those days are long gone.

B&T: Joey is still in L.A., right?

MB: Yeah, and our drummer Rikard is in Phoenix.  Our bass player is up in Golden so he's an hour and half away.  Harry's about an hour east.  So I'm the only one in Colorado Springs.

B&T: So did you record the new album here?  Where did you record the new album?

MB: We've done the past 7 Jag Panzer albums the majority of it in my studio here.  And then we'll do drums somewhere else.  We did drums down in a studio called Clamsville owned by a jazz drummer in Phoenix.  He has a specially built room just for drums.  Joey did leads in his place.  So with this album it was really just Harry and I at my place.  All the keyboards at my place as well.

B&T: Now that brings up another question... with Joey so it had been 20+ years since you've recorded with Joey.  So what was the impetus for Joey coming back to the fold.

MB: Well, he came back when we got the offer to do Keep It True [Festival], which was 3 years ago.  We did Keep It True and then we did a couple shows in Greece.  So he came back just for those shows and it went really well.  Not only did it go well on stage, but we got along really well.  We liked hanging out and we had really good chemistry.  So we followed that up with some more shows in San Diego and Chicago, 70 Thousand Tons, and New York City.  We decided let's do an album with this lineup.  We have good chemistry and chemistry is everything when recording an album.

B&T: Do you foresee doing more albums with Joey?

MB: Yeah, we think so!  I could see a couple years from now.  I don't like the album a year thing.  I think we did it once.  I don't like it.  I don't like rush the songwriting at all.  I'm a slow writer anyway.  I hate being rushed with it.  I'll spend a month on 1 song if I have to.

B&T: You've been rereleasing and remastering albums, correct?

MB: Yeah, 5 years ago we signed a reissue deal with High Roller over in Germany just for our first EP and the original demos, "Ample Destruction", "Shadow Thief", which was our demos after "Ample Destruction", and "Chain Of Command".  So they bought the rights to all of those for 5 years.  They did a fantastic job.  I transferred all the original albums from the analog masters.  They paid a mastering engineer, a talented guy, they paid him to remaster everything.  It's the best sound quality these records have ever had.  They used the original covers.  They did deluxe packaging.  They did posters with it.  They did a really, really great job!  The initial run sold out pretty quickly so they ended up doing 3 other additional runs.  So the 4th and final run came out a couple of weeks ago.

B&T: What gear do you use, both guitars and keyboards?

MB: That's a good question.  My main live guitar is an ESP EC1000... sort of your higher end of the import series.  It is a single cut... kind of a Les Paul shape.  It is a good guitar.  I play that live and used it on the record.  I also used my Les Paul on the record.  Also used my Telecaster on the record.  I used my Strat the record too.  I tried to mix it up with lots of different guitars.  As far as an amplifier, my own personal amplifier, I have an Engl Powerball and I have an EVH.  I used both of those on the record.  Live, I use whatever they get for me.  All I ask for is a tube amp.  I can usually go with any tube amp.  Keyboards... I switched to all software-based keyboards years ago.  I have a Fatar Master Keyboard.  I like the Native Instrument Suite a lot.  I use Contact for any sample-based.  I'm also a big fan of Omnisphere.  I'm a big fan of Alchemy.  I actually love software synths.  We don't have a lot of synthesizers in our music, but I really love them.  I've always been a big fan.

B&T: In terms of writing, how does that work?  You're the primary writer, correct?

MB: All the songs start with me... in this era of Jag Panzer.  I'm not a good drummer or bass player, but I can get by.  So I will do a demo of all the songs myself playing all the instruments.  And then I'll send it out to my band members and they'll hassle me about my weak drumming and bass playing and then once we get past laughing at my drum skills [laughs], we start talking about the real songs.  And then Harry will come in on vocals and he usually has some arrangement ideas like, "hey, can we change this? Extend that?  How about we move this?"  He writes the lyrics.  I'll write a vocal melody, but I won't let anybody here that.  I'll hide it, mute the track.  Harry will come in with his own vocal melody and 90% of it is better than what I had.  Then Harry and I will release a whole set of demos of the rest of the guys.  We get more input from them.  At that point, we start getting arrangement input from the other guys.  Then we'll do a 3rd set of demos and Rikard will play drums on it.  We get the comments again and suggestions.  There are a few songs on there where we got to 5 stages of demos before everybody said, "okay, we got it".  And sometimes it is really little things.

B&T: So it is a very collaborative process then.

MB: It is.  Although all the songs start with me, it was definitely a team effort.

B&T: Has it always been that way?  Has it always been collaborative like that?

MB: It changes album to album.  With Chris Broderick [ex-Nevermore, ex-Megadeth, Act of Defiance], I'd deliver half the songs, he'd deliver half the songs, and we pretty much went right into the studio.  And we got some good material out of that era so I wouldn't say one way's better than the other.

B&T: Do you have favorite festivals you guys like to play?

MB: Keep It True is always great!  They put us in this little village.  Any of the European festivals are great and treat you right. It is amazing how well they treat the artist.  So that's a great festival.  Bang Your Head is awesome.  That's about 25,000 people.  They put the American bands in a bed and breakfast about 20 minutes away.  So that's a great show.  Wacken's great... very, very well-organized.  We played the Rock Hard Festival.  It backs up against a river, which is really cool.  Lots of cool festivals in Europe to play.

B&T: I know you've played with a lot of amazing bands over the years.  Are there any particular bands that you've played with that really stand out for you?

MB: I think the ones that stand out are the ones that were best to work with.  The ones that were really, really nice guys... definitely Iced Earth!  Gamma Ray was great... great guys!  Hammerfall is great!  Helloween as well!  These are bands that they all share the idea that it's just important that the audience has a good show.  We've played with bands in America where they have the attitude that they only care that they have a good show.

B&T: Do you do anything else besides Jag Panzer musically?  Do you have any other musical outlets?

MB: No I don't. You know played a bit with some other guys locally.  They were good players, but I thought it was a disaster.  I left that.  I'd play in a Celtic punk band if someone asked me... like Flogging Molly or Drop Kick Murphys.  I'd do that.  I like that kind of music.  So Drop Kick Murphys, if you are reading this and you need a guitar player.  [laughs]

B&T: Tell me about the album cover and how that came to be and the artist.

MB: Well, I always wanted to do a mad scientist theme.  Tesla had his famous laboratory about 5 miles from here.  So we grew up hearing stories of Tesla.  Back then they called him a mad scientist.  He knocked out the power grid of the whole city with his lightning experiments.  So that always fascinated me.  So I always wanted to do a mad scientist theme.  Couple of the guys in the band said "can we do a Jekyll and Hyde thing as well?"  So that was the decision.  1800s mad scientist theme.  And I insisted that we give a nod to Tesla on the cover so that's the lightning.  Finding an artist proved much more difficult.   I went to ComiCon and I started talking to artist and much to my surprise none of them would be hired for art work.  And I'm thinking "why are you here?"  I did that for 2 years in a row and it was a terrible experience.  So then I just started looking on the Internet for artists.  I found some stuff I liked emailed a couple guys and they emailed back and I instantly didn't like them.  And then I saw Dusan's art work who we hired for the cover and I was blown away.  This guy is great!  He had a reasonable, fair rate and he is cool!  I exchanged emails with him.  I told him what I wanted and he sent me a rough sketch and we went from there.  The idea was initially based in the band, but that cover art work is all him.  I did all the inner sleeve photography.  I actually took all the... I didn't want to use CGI.  I love CGI.  I'm a fan of it, but with the graphics on this, I wanted no CGI.  Tammy took photos of everybody's heads and we just kept experimenting.  We tried to wrap the photos on laminated paper in jars with food coloring.  So that took a couple of weeks of experimenting.  I went to the print shop every day.  "Here.  Laminate my dismembered head photo."  I took all the gear off my desk and set up lights and had a "photo session."  I had a very specific guy I wanted to do the layout whose name is Carston.  He does the Iced Earth records.  We also put some Easter eggs in there.  There are some math formulas.  One of them is a vibrating string and the other is energy distribution after a drum is hit.  The text of our names and of the song titles is Einstein's handwriting.  One guy does the Einstein font.  He has permission from the family.  So I had to e-mail him and pay him for the use of the font.  I really wanted to make it an interesting layout.

B&T: How long have you been with SPV Records now?

MB: It was a 2 album deal and this is our second album so we're done.

B&T: So Jag Panzer has been around for 30+ years now.  '81 was when you first formed originally?

MB: Yeah, we did our first demos when I was 15.  My mom drove me to the studio.

B&T: Looking back, would you change anything you've done or the way you did things?

MB: Yes, well, there's one thing I would change.  After "Ample Destruction" came out... initially it was a slow starter, but after about a year it really pick up with a lot of interest.  And we had major labels come out to see us.  We had a guy from Atlantic Records come out one time.  We had a guy from A&M.  We had the next album written, which today is known as the "Shadow Thief" that High Roller did and we had some great offers from indie records like Combat Records wanted it, but we held out for the majors that didn't happen.  In retrospect I would have... we should have set a date saying, "If we don't have a major deal by this date, we're gonna release on Combat.  Because that would have put us on tour.  We didn't get on tour until the '90s that was really late.  We were always poor.  Our very first demo, we had to come up with $100 each and a couple guys were short.  So I drove them to the blood bank right before a recording session.  [laughs]  We clearly had to come up with money to do all this stuff, which is good.  We clearly know how to stretch a buck.  We did this whole thing with about a third of what most bands get for a recording budget.

B&T: Is there anybody you would like to tour with now that you haven't toured with?

MB: I'd like to go out with Sabaton just because I like their music.  I actually love Sabaton.  Half my workout when running is a mix of Sabaton.  They draw a huge crowd so that would be a great show.

B&T: A lot of kids are discovering older heavy metal bands.  Are you seeing that as well with your music as well?

MB: Oh yeah, absolutely!  I see younger people at our shows and they talk to me and their first exposure will be "Casting Stones" or something like "Mechanized Warfare"... yeah, I think that's really cool.  We have a certain part of our fan base whose whole initial start with the band is was our mid-period and that's what they are fans of and they sort of ... I see them argue online with the old school "Ample" guys.  "Age Of Mastery" is the hot new album for some reason.  In the band, that's our least favorite.  We like all of them. We played on them, but among the band members, that's probably our least favorite.

B&T: Do you have a favorite song to play live personally?

MB: I like to play "Black" from "The Fourth Judgement" because I can play it without having to look at my guitar. [laughs]

B&T: Will we see a live Jag Panzer album come out in the near future?

MB: I'd like one.  But that's tough though.  Getting a live mobile unit to a show is expensive.  Those are custom trucks that are grounded... expensive.

B&T: So Mark gets home from a long day of recording or touring or whatever, what beer do you crack open and what album do you put on?

MB: Oh, I put on some Kate Bush!  I'm a huge Kate Bush fan.  As far as beer, I'm a wheat beer fan.  I would crack open a local wheat beer.  I like Gristles Bee Hive.

"The Deviant Chord" released September 29th, 2017


"The Deviant Chord" inner sleeve

Left to right: Mark Briody, Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin, and John Tetley

Sunday, October 15, 2017

October 15th, 2017 - The Naja Imperial Red IPA Is Ready To Strike!


Good afternoon headbangers and hop-heads!  Your pal the Meista here today pairing King Kobra's debut album "Ready To Strike" with a Naja Imperial Red IPA from Copper Kettle Brewing Company!

Album Info:
  • Artist: King Kobra
  • Title: "Ready To Strike"
  • Recorded: 1985
  • Release date: November 9th, 1985 (1st album by King Kobra)
  • Record company: Capitol Records / EMI
  • Production: Spencer Proffer and Carmine Appice
  • Album cover art: Vigon Seireeni (art direction and design) 
  • Personnel: Carmine Appice (drums and percussion), Mark Free (lead and backing vocals), David Michael-Philips (lead and rhythm guitars, synthesizers, and backing vocals), Johnny Rod (bass and backing vocals), and Mick Sweda (lead and rhythm guitars, synthesizers, and backing vocals)
  • Musical style: Heavy metal, glam metal, hard rock
  • Sound: Fiery, fast, melodic, powerful... just a few terms to describe the overall punchy sound of King Kobra's "Ready To Strike".  Mark Free's vocals are huge, the combined guitar/bass work of Michael-Philips, Rod, and Sweda is passionate, honest, and pure, and Appice is a monstorous driving drumming force!
  • Major themes: Power, aggression, desire, passion, rock and roll, darkness, rebellion, lust, etc.
  • Tracks:   
  1. "Ready To Strike"
  2. "Hunger"
  3. "Shadow Rider"
  4. "Shake Up"
  5. "Attention"
  6. "Breakin' Out"
  7. "Tough Guys"
  8. "Dancing With Desire"
  9. "Second Thoughts"
  10. "Piece Of The Rock"

Brew Info:
  • Brewery: Copper Kettle Brewing Company (Denver, Colorado)
  • Website: http://www.copperkettledenver.com/
  • Brew: Naja Imperial Red IPA
  • Style: Imperial India Pale Ale (IIPA) / American Strong Ale
  • Serving: 22 ounce bottle
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • IBUs: 110
  • Pour: The Naja pours a deep, opaque mahogany red with fiery red flecks in the light and a firm and creamy light tan head that dissipates to a thin ring and spotty, soapy lacing.
  • Nose: The nose is very sweet, very malty, and hoppy.  There are aromas of sweet caramel, honey, grapefruit rind, orange peel, black tea, light spices, bitter herbs, and a hint of booze.
  • Taste: The taste of the Naja is sweet, bitter, earthy, and malty.  There are big notes of black tea, sweet bread, burnt toffee, orange peel, light pine, and bitter herbs.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium to full-bodied with moderate carbonation, the mouthfeel of the Naja is very thick, oily, and sticky and smooth with a very dry and slightly bitter finish.
Overall pairing: The bold, sweet, punchy flavors and aromas of Copper Kettle's Naja Imperial Red IPA make for a great pairing with the straight-forward hard-rockin' goodness that is King Kobra's "Ready To Strike"!  'Nuff said!

Cheers!!  Rock on!!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

October 14th, 2017 - Angel Witches Brew




Good evening evil-doers!  The Meista here tonight pairing a newly released ale from Talisman Brewing Company with the self-titled, debut album by NWOBHM monsters Angel Witch!  This pairing is dedicated to Mark Briody of Jag Panzer!  Cheers my friend!!

Album Info:
  • Artist: Angel Witch
  • Title: "Angel Witch"
  • Recorded: September through October 1979 at Roundhouse Studios in London, England
  • Release date: March 12th, 1980 (1st studio album by Angel Witch)
  • Record company: Bronze Records
  • Production: Martin Smith
  • Album cover art:  "The Fallen Angels Entering Pandemonium" by John Martin
  • Personnel:  Jay Evans (lead guitars), Kevin Heybourne (rhythm guitars and lead vocals), Dave Hogg (drums and percussion), and Kevin "Skids" Riddles (bass, keyboards, and backing vocals)
  • Guest musician: Sev Lewkowicz (keyboards)
  • Musical style: Heavy metal, proto-speed metal, proto-thrash metal
  • Sound: Considered by many as one of the most notable NWOBHM albums of the era, "Angel Witch" was released in 1980.  Characterized by the ferociousness of Rob Downing's blistering guitar assault, Kevin Heybourne's soaring vocal delivery with a touch of early English '70s glam, and the thunderous rhythm section of Kevin Riddles (bass) and Dave Hogg (drums), Angel Witch incorporated the bluesy heaviness of Led Zeppelin with the dark thematic approach of Black Sabbath and the fierce speed of Motorhead to create a wonderful, solid, metal album.  Songs like "Angel Witch," "White Witch," "Gorgon," "Sweet Danger," "Loser," and "Angel Of Death" are intense, fast-paced metal classics.  While songs like "Sorcerer," "Free Man," and "Devil's Tower" channel the slow, dirge-like heaviness of early Black Sabbath.  "Sorcerer" even has some nice Hammond organ toward the end of the track that is reminiscent of John Lord's work with Deep Purple.  "Atlantis" is fast and exciting, but with its harmonies and high-pitched chorus, it sounds almost like a metal version song by the Sweet, and yet it still fits the album perfectly.
  • Major themes: Evil, witchcraft, magic, evil, the occult, mythology, death, etc.
  • Tracks:   
  1. "Angel Witch"
  2. "Atlantis"
  3. "White Witch"
  4. "Confused"
  5. "Sorcerers"
  6. "Gorgon"
  7. "Sweet Danger"
  8. "Free Man"
  9. "Angel Of Death"
  10. "Devil's Tower"

Brew Info:
  • Brewery: Talisman Brewing Company (Ogden, Utah)
  • Website: https://www.talismanbrewingco.com/
  • Brew: Witches Brew Fall Ale
  • Style: Kölsch
  • Serving: 16 ounce bottle
  • ABV: 6.4%
  • Ingredients: Traditional Kölsch brewed with spices, orange zest, and cranberries
  • Pour: The Witches Brew pours a very cloudy peach hue with a frothy, bright white, 1-fnger head with good retention and lot of sticky, soapy lacing.
  • Nose: The nose is fruity, spicy, and grainy with a hint of sulfur. There are aromas of cranberries, raspberries, lemon juice and zest, orange peel, crackery grains, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and a hint white pepper.
  • Taste: The taste of the Witches Brew is fruity, spicy, sweet, and grainy.  There are notes of spicy cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon along with and tart cranberries, bitter orange peel, tart lemon, crackery biscuit, and grassy hops.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation, the mouthfeel is crisp, slightly tart, and very refreshing with a clean finish.
  • Notes: "In the 13th Century England, one-third of women brewed for sale.  Commonly referred to as "Beer Witches", their tall hats, brooms, and cauldrons were symbols of their trade used to identify them.  As an adage to craft, this annual beer is brews b all the "Bad Brew Witches" at Talisman!  Cheers to women in brewing!"
Overall pairing: The Witches Brew Fall Ale is a very sold, very festive fall ale with lots of crisp and fruity flavors and aromas... perfect for the melodic heavy metal onslaught that is Angel Witch!  Those spicy notes work really well with the blast of guitars as well!

Cheers!!  And hails!!

Friday, October 13, 2017

October 13th, 2017 - Ya Better Watch Out For The Amputator On Ten 13!


In celebration of Sammy Hagar's 70th birthday and Friday the 13th, today I'm pairing an Amputator India Pale Ale from Butcherknife Brewing Company with "Ten 13" by Sammy Hagar and The Waboritas!  Oh hell yeah!!

Album Info:
  • Artist: Sammy Hagar and The Waboritas
  • Title: "Ten 13"
  • Recorded: 2000 at the Blood Bank
  • Release date: October 24th, 2000 (2nd studio album by Sammy Hagar and The Waboritas)
  • Record company: Beyond Music
  • Production: Sammy Hagar and Jesse Harms (as "The Agave Bros.")
  • Album cover art:  Susan McEowen (art direction) and Matthew Welch (photography) 
  • Personnel: Sammy Hagar (lead vocals and guitar) with Mona Gnader (bass guitar and backing vocals), Jesse Harms (keyboards and backing vocals), Victor Johnson (guitar and backing vocals), and David Lauser (drums and backing vocals)
  • Additional musicians: Roy Rogers (slide guitar on "The Real Deal")
  • Musical style: Hard rock with elements of heavy blues rock and pop rock
  • Sound: The thing I've always loved about Sammy is both his straight-forward rock and roll attitude and his sense of melody.  And with "Ten 13" he definitely does not disappoint!  There are elements of Montrose, Van Halen, and his solo work incorporated into the overall sound of the album.  And Sammy's vocals... rock perfection!!
  • Major themes: Living life to the fullest, love, rock and roll, relationships, loss, heartbreak, partying, celebration, etc.
  • Tracks:   
  1. "Shaka Doobie (The Limit)"
  2. "Let Sally Drive"
  3. "Serious Juju"
  4. "The Message"
  5. "Deeper Kinda Love"
  6. "A Little Bit More"
  7. "Ten 13"
  8. "Protection"
  9. "3 In The Middle"
  10. "The Real Deal"
  11. "Tropic Of Capricorn"

Brew Info:
  • Brewery: Butcherknife Brewing Company (Steamboat Springs, Colorado)
  • Website: http://butcherknifebrewing.com/
  • Brew: Amputator India Pale Ale
  • Style: American India Pale Ale (IPA) 
  • Serving: 16 ounce can
  • ABV: 7.2%
  • IBUs: 75
  • Ingredients: Nugget and Centennial hops
  • Pour: The Amputator India Pale Ale pours a clear, copper-amber hue with a thin, but creamy off-white head with good sustain and sudsy lacing.
  • Nose: The nose is malty, earthy, and piney.  There are aromas of sweet and bready malt, caramel, pine resin, cedar, and black tea.
  • Taste: The taste of the Amputator India Pale Ale follows the nose with a balance of sweet malt and bitter hops.  There are notes of caramel, fresh bread, bold pine, black tea, and bitter herbs and spices.    
  • Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation, the mouthfeel is sudsy, bitter, sticky, and punchy with a hoppy, dry finish and lingering bitterness.
Overall pairing: The hop-forward aggressive punchiness, yet balanced flavors of Butcherknife's Amputator India Pale Ale is a great brew for celebrating Friday the 13th and celebrating the rock and roll lifestyle of the Red Rocker!!  Those biting hops and caramelly malts are great for the chunky guitars and Sammy's amazing vocals!

Cheers!!  Happy birthday and hails Sammy!!  Keep on rockin'!!

October 13th, 2017 - A Hopzeit For A Lonesome Crow In Autumn


Hello and happy Friday the 13th!  Your drinking buddy the Meista is here today pairing the Scorpions debut album, "Lonesome Crow" and a Hopzeit Autumn IPA from Deschutes Brewing Company!

Album Info:
  • Artist: Scorpions
  • Title: "Lonesome Crow"
  • Recorded: October 1971 at Star Studios in Hamburg, West Germany
  • Release date: February 9th, 1972 (1st album by the Scorpions)
  • Record company: Brain Records
  • Production: Conny Plank
  • Album cover art: Kerstin Davies
  • Personnel: Wolfgang Dziony (drums, percussion, and backing vocals), Lothar Heimberg (bass guitar and backing vocals), Klaus Meine (lead vocals), Michael Schenker (lead guitar and backing vocals), and Rudolf Schenker (rhythm guitar and backing vocals)
  • Musical style: Hard rock, psychedelic rock
  • Sound: A very different sounding Scorpions, with "Lonesome Crow" their sound is dark, melodic, psychedelic, yet heavy and hard-hitting!  A very young Michael Schenker tears it up with amazing guitar acrobatics heavily influenced by Hendrix, Clapton, Green, and Blackmore!Of the album, Meine once stated: "With Lonesome Crow, we were just a young band trying to find our way, trying to shape an artistic style to find the Scorpions DNA. There was a ballad with “In Search of the Peace of Mind”, and a psychedelic rocker with the title track, “I’m Goin' Mad”, [which] was a great rocker with Michael Schenker playing great solos. We were just a young band with talented guys, with no idea on where to go from here."
  • Major themes: Insanity, seeking knowledge, love, desire, passion, loss, etc.
  • Tracks:   
  1. "I'm Goin' Mad"
  2. "It All Depends"
  3. "Leave Me"
  4. "In Search Of The Peace Of Mind"
  5. "Inheritance"
  6. "Action"
  7. "Lonesome Crow"

Brew Info:
  • Brewery: Deschutes Brewing Company (Bend, Oregon)
  • Website: https://www.deschutesbrewery.com/
  • Brew: Hopzeit Autumn IPA
  • Style: Oktoberfest / Märzenbier / India Pale Ale (IPA)  
  • Serving: 12 ounce bottle
  • ABV: 7.0%
  • IBUs: 60
  • Ingredients: Munich, Vienna, and Pilsner malts with Herkules, Sterling, and Hull Melon hops
  • Pour: The Hopzeit Autumn IPA pours a hazy red-amber with a 1+ finger, light tan, frothy head with good sustain and lots of intricate lacing.
  • Nose: The nose is malty, bready, floral, sweet, hoppy, nutty, and herbal.  There are aromas of roasted walnuts, sweet bread, burnt toffee, caramel, orange peel, grapefruit rind, orange tea, pine resin, and spices.
  • Taste: The taste of the Hopzeit Autumn IPA is a balanced blend of sweet and bitter along with more subtle fruit flavors.  There are notes of floral hops, sweet biscuit, toasted wheat bread, sweet caramel, light orange peel, light pine, and black tea.    
  • Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation, the mouthfeel is crisp, smooth, and somewhat heavy and with a dry, bittersweet finish.
Overall pairing: The bready, malty, sweet, yet piney and bitter flavors and aromas of Deschutes' very interesting and unique Hopzeit Autumn IPA is a great brew to enjoy whilst rocking out to the psychedelic hard rock grooves, melodies, and harmonies of the Scorpions' very underrated and underplayed "Lonesome Crow" album!

Cheers!!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 12th, 2017 - Scream For Me Brews And Tunes Fans... Scream For Me!! or... The Trooper's Brew After Death


Evening rockers!  How about a double dose of Eddie?!  That's right... the Meista is here tonight with Iron Maiden's "Live After Death" (release this week 32 years ago!) and a Trooper Premium British Beer, an ale created by Iron Maiden and brewed by Robinson Brewery!!  Hell yeah!!

Album Info:
  • Artist: Iron Maiden
  • Title: "Live After Death"
  • Recorded: Live at Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California on  March 14th through 17th, 1985 and at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, England on October 8th through 12th, 1984
  • Release date: October 14th, 1985 (1st live album released by Iron Maiden)
  • Record company: EMI / Capitol Records
  • Production: Martin Birch
  • Album cover art: Derek Riggs
  • Personnel: Bruce Dickinson (lead vocals), Steve Harris (bass guitar), Nicko McBrain (drums), Dave Murray (guitars), and Adrian Smith (guitars)
  • Musical style: Power metal, heavy metal
  • Sound: In a word, revolutionary!  This is probably one of the most important live heavy metal albums in the history of metal in my opinion.  It is the definitive Iron Maiden sound and just so wonderfully written, performed, and produced; truly astonishing! "Live After Death" is monster of live album!  This is high-octane, in-your-face, heavy fucking metal!!  With perfect renditions of songs like "Aces High," "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner," "Powerslave," "The Number Of The Beast," "Hallowed By Thy Name," "Run To The Hills," "Wrathchild," "Die With Your Boots On," and "Phantom Opera" (among others), this is the ultimate live Maiden album and a wonderfully rich and captivating album in general... quite possibly my all-time favorite live album by any band!
  • Major themes: Evil, war, life and death, power, perseverance, pride, mythology, the occult, the ancient world, torture, fear, etc.
  • Tracks:   
  1. "Intro: Churchill's Speech"
  2. "Aces High"
  3. "2 Minutes To Midnight"
  4. "The Trooper"
  5. "Revelations"
  6. "Flight Of Icarus"
  7. "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner"
  8. "Powerslave"
  9. "The Number Of The Beast"
  10. "Hallowed By Thy Name"
  11. "Iron Maiden"
  12. "Run To The Hills"
  13. "Running Free"
  14. "Wrathchild"
  15. "22 Acacia Avenue"
  16. "Children Of The Damned"
  17. "Die With Your Boots On"
  18. "Phantom Of The Opera"

Brew Info:
  • Brewery: Robinson Brewery (Stockport, England)
  • Website: robinsonsbrewery.com    
  • Brew: Trooper Premium British Beer
  • Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)  
  • Serving: 16 ounce can
  • ABV: 4.7%
  • Ingredients:  Brewed with roasted malts along with Bobec, Goldings, and Cascade hops
  • Pour: Trooper pours a clear, deep copper hue with a 1-finger white head.
  • Nose: The nose is both malty and hoppy and slightly fruity with notes of freshly baked bread, roasted nuts, apple and a slight hint of lemon zest. 
  • Taste: The Trooper is definitely a true English ale with a good balance of hops and malts and true "depth of character."  
  • Mouthfeel: It is medium-bodied and moderately carbonated.  It is very smooth and easy drinking with a nice, clean and hoppy finish.
  • Notes: Trooper Premium British Beer was not only inspired by Iron Maiden's song "The Trooper," but vocalist Bruce Dickinson played a major role in the development of this classic English ale.  "I'm a lifelong fan of traditional English ale; I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when we were asked to create our own beer. I have to say that I was very nervous: Robinsons are the only people I have had to audition for in 30 years. Their magic has been to create the alchemical wedding of flavour and texture that is TROOPER. I love it."

Overall pairing: Visually and theoretically speaking, this pairing is pretty obvious.  And coming in at only 4.7% ABV, you can through back a few of these easy drinking Troopers whilst pumping your fist and banging your head to the might and brilliance that is Iron Maiden's "Live After Death"!!

UP THE IRONS!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

October 10th, 2017 - One Naked Ear And A Deviant Chord


After 6 long years, the mighty Jag Panzer has just released a new album... and the wait was well worth it!  Good evening!  The Meista here tonight pairing "The Deviant Chord", the latest from American power metal pioneers Jag Panzer and a One Ear, A Naked Saison from Trinity Brewing Company!!  Hell yeah!!
 
Album Info:
  • Artist: Jag Panzer
  • Title: "The Deviant Chord"
  • Recorded: 2017 at Clamsville Productions, Marvelous Margene's Metal Manufacturing, Soggy Bottom Studios, Blake Eberhard Bass Studios, House M-sound Works, and Open the Portal Studios
  • Release date: September 29th, 2017 (10th studio album by Jag Panzer)
  • Record company: Steamhammer / SPV
  • Production: John Herrera
  • Album cover art: Dusan Markovic (illustration) and Mark Briody (art direction)
  • Personnel: Mark Briody (guitars and keyboards), Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin (lead vocals), Rikard Stjernquist (drums), Joey Tafolla (guitars), and John Tetley (bass)
  • Guest musician: Shawn Lucero (spoken word)
  • Musical style: Heavy metal, power metal, speed metal, hard rock
  • Sound: Wow... where do I start?  This is American power metal in the grandest sense of the style!  The tracks blend multiple elements of heavy metal and hard rock with strong, heartfelt songwriting, rich melodies, soaring harmonies, and that focused and masterful musicianship Jag Panzer is known for!  In the tradition of Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden, the dual shredding guitar work of Briody and Tafolla is soaring, paint-peeling, face-melting brilliance!  Their combined tone is perfect and the soloing is mind blowing!  Conklin's vocals sound as fresh, powerful, and youthful as they did 30+ years ago!  His range is huge, honest, and awe-inspiring!  And the combined thunder of rhythm section Stjernquist and Tetley hold it all together with machine-gun fire aggression, passion, and precision!
  • Major themes: The pursuit of power, fear, lust, revenge, war, might, the battle of good vs. evil, life and death, the pursuit of knowledge, courage, etc.
  • Notes: "The Deviant Chord" also sees the triumphant return of Joey Tafolla to the Jag Panzer fold!  That alone should prompt you to pick up a copy of this amazing album!!
  • Tracks:   
  1. "Born Of The Flame"
  2. "Far Beyond All Fear"
  3. "The Deviant Chord"
  4. "Blacklist"
  5. "Foggy Dew" (traditional Irish folk song)
  6. "Divine Intervention"
  7. "Long Awaited Kiss"
  8. "Salacious Behavior"
  9. "Fire Of Our Spirit"
  10. "Dare"

Brew Info:
  • Brewery: Trinity Brewing Company (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
  • Website: http://trinitybrew.com/
  • Brew: One Ear, A Naked Saison
  • Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale
  • Serving: 12 ounce bottle
  • ABV: 6.5%
  • IBUs: 35
  • Ingredients: Barley, grist, oats, rye, free-rise fermentation with proprietary yeast, and Styrian and Saaz hops  
  • Pour: The One Ear pours a hazy straw-gold hue with a frothy and firm, bright white, 1+ finger head with good sustain and lots of intricate lacing.
  • Nose: The nose is earthy, spicy, malty, herbal, and fruity.  There are aromas of banana chips, pink bubblegum, lemon, orange peel, pepper, Chardonnay, and hints of wet leather.
  • Taste: The taste of the One Ear follows the nose with earthy, spicy, grainy, and fruity flavors.  There are notes of orange peel, white grape, bitter herbs, soft banana, grassy hops, and spicy rye.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and moderately carbonated, the mouthfeel is crisp and very dry with a dry, slightly bitter finish.
Overall pairing: Both the complexity of flavors and the overall punchiness of Trinity's One Ear, A Naked Saison work perfectly with the bombast, musical prowess, and metal integrity of Jag Panzer's brilliant "The Deviant Chord"!  As with the brew, the album provides its audience with sweet, bitter, and very complex notes.  I can't say enough about this album and this beer!  GET SOME!!

And stay tuned rockers!  Yours truly recently sat down with guitarist Mark Briody and over a couple of beers discussed the release of "The Deviant Chord", his gear, Jag Panzer's career and influence, and heavy metal in general!  That interview will be posted soon!!

Cheers and hails!!

Me with Mark Briody at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs