The more things change in the music biz, the more they stay the same. And you know what, that’s so cool. Because as I’m being exposed each day to more and more crap like the Jonas Brothers (uh oh, don’t get me started!) and these artsy bands trying to be hip, I’m realizing that the new stuff from some very familiar bands is good if not better. The legends are starting to realize that if the formula works, don’t stray from it. And if the band has already strayed, it’s okay to go back to their roots as the fans are forgiving and will welcome them back with open arms.

Metallica in concert, 2003. Photo by Mishka Gaikin.

Take for example, Metallica. Their new single, The Day That Never Comes, has just been released, and it kicks ass. Now I haven’t heard the complete album yet, but let me just say that this new single is pure bliss and was not what I expected at all. I was expecting something that sounded liked Nickelback. What I got was eight minutes of non-radio friendly fare that eerily sounds like their staple hit One with a bit more guitar shredding. The Metallica fans are going to love it. Why? Because it sounds like old Metallica. The casual music fan who doesn’t have time to appreciate anything more then three minutes won’t care for it. Metallica’s last album, St. Anger, was an atrocity because they were trying to broaden their horizons and experiment with a new sound. Guess what? The critics didn’t like it, the album was a financial disaster, and the fans figured it was the end of their band. So Metallica decided to stick to their guns and say to hell with the critics and new fans, we are going to make an album that will appeal to our real fans and will remind critics why we became as big as we are in the first place. Don’t think this trend just applies to Metallica. There are a bunch of other bands doing the same thing with successful results.

The Day That Never Comes – Metallica

Remember Dokken? They were one of the better hair metal bands in the 80s. They were still making albums in the 90’s but trying to compete with Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains. The results were extremely lackluster. Dokken just released a new album, Lightning Strikes Again. Guess what? It sounds like something they would have done in the 80’s and it sounds sweet. Maybe they are missing some of the original members, but Don Dokken is still belting out the high notes. The Dokken fans are happy, and the band even garnered some new fans as the album was their first top 200 album in 13 years Other hair bands of the 80’s have followed suit with the same success. Listen to Motley Crue’s Saints Of Los Angeles, Extreme’s Saludes de Rock, and Whitesnake’s Good To Be Bad . These bands have gone back to their roots to create albums that mesh with their original style that got them popular in the first place.

How about Journey? They may have had a Steve Perry lookalike/soundalike for years, but they were always going for a different sound with limited results. So they fire one Steve Perry clone, and hire a new one they found belting Faithfully on youtube. Neal Schon also decided to go back to the old Journey sound and made sure the album is only available at your local Wal-Mart. Their single, Never Walk Away, sounds like something right off Raised On The Radio from 1986. I wonder if Randy Jackson was playing bass on some of the tracks. Not only did the band go back to their original sound but they also recorded their greatest hits with their new singer, Ariel Pineda, on a bonus disc. The press was all over Journey, and the result was their first Top 10 album since Trial By Fire in 1995. Now if only they could let bygones be bygones and bring back Steve Perry.

Until somebody is ready to wow me with some original kick-ass music, I’m just waiting with anticipation for what my beloved nostalgic bands are going to do instead. Oh yeah, AC/DC’s new album Black Ice finally hits in October, but they never strayed from their formula, so I already know what to expect.

I’m back, and I’m taking names. 🙂