Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kreyskull-Tower Witch

Inverse Records
2014

Kreyskull is four-piece band from the south-east parts of Finland that is made up of ex-members of Demonic Death Judge, Kaihoro and Total Devastation. "Tower Witch" is the band's sophomore album and it serves as the follow-up to 2012's "Year of the Octopus". With a line-up that features Kari A. Killgast on lead vocals, Saku Hakuli on guitars, Timo "Ringo" Karvonen on bass and Timo Karvonen on drums this "heavy doom rock" band from the Kymi-Poitsila area defies easy explanation. On one end influences for this 70's-influesed hard rock/heavy metal band range from Black Sabbath/Trouble to Rush with even the sounds of ZZ Top getting in on the act! On the other end of the spectrum you've got flashes of psychedelic rock and jazz seeping into the mix with some groove and stoner rock riffs applied here and there as finishing touch-ups. Brawny and robust lead vocals and great, riff-happy and garage rock-worthy guitar solos add the requisite cherry to the top of this delicious treat and while it all might sound incredibly odd on paper (and lord oh mighty does it ever!) it's an entirely different matter all together when you hear the enthralling music of Kreyskull in the flesh! More fun and explosive than a barrel full of dynamite-wielding monkeys, "Tower Witch" is a righteously fun time with this very cool & slick Finnish four-piece offering up a sparkling fresh/buzz-worthy take on seventies-era hard rock & rock and roll! "Tower Witch" is easily one of 2014's most engaging LPs and it's one of those albums that I recommend with giddy schoolboy enthusiasm! For more information on Kreyskull be sure to head either here: https://www.facebook.com/kreyskull or here: www.inverse.fi

 


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Metal Machine-Free Nation


Dream Records
2014

For the uniformed, Metal Machine was a traditional heavy metal band that was fronted by seasoned vocalist Csaba Zvekan (Exorcism, Zvekan, Raven Lord, ex-Emergency, ex-Sardonyx, ex-Killing Machine, ex-Calling Toy, ex-Rough Angel, ex-Warpdrive ). The (short-lived?) group managed to secure support slots for the likes of AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Soulfly and even Alice Cooper(!) and for these live appearances Metal Machine was rounded out by guitarist Peter Scheithauer (Killing Machine, Stream, Temple Of Brutality, ex-Belladonna), bassist Jari Kainulainen (Masterplan, ex-Stratovarius, ex-Evergrey) and drummer Jon Dette (Iced Earth, ex-Slayer, ex-Testament). By all account audiences were receptive Metal Machine and there was even demo material recorded. For those recordings Csaba Zvekan was joined by his live band-mate Peter Scheithauer. With Csaba providing A SHIT LOAD of Rob Halford-like vocals (through much of this album he comes across like a hyperactive clone of the "Hell Bent For Leather" master himself!) it was up to Peter to take care of the guitar parts and drum programing. "Free Nation", which was mastered by TMS Studios, collects those recordings with the final track-listing looking something like this: 

1. Skull And Bones 
2. Nailed To The Cross 
3. Detox 
4. Morning Star 
5. World Of Temptation 
6. Hellraiser 
7. Lord of War 
8. Black Sun 
9. Free Nation 

So, what does it all sound like? Well, how about if we go back to that track listing once more and we'll jot down a few notes and pass out some grades. Sound good? OK....

1. Skull And Bones-Judas Priest anyone? How about "Painkiller"-era Judas Priest? How about just "Painkiller" rewritten? While it is a good opener it's a straight-up rip-off. If you can overlook that you'll dig it. Even with it's muddy mix (which BTW runs through the whole album!) A for the intensity, but this one gets a D for barely trying to cover up how much it rips off a superior track!

2. Nailed To The Cross-Decent enough traditional heavy metal with some modern touches. More Judas Priest love. B-

3. Detox-Pantera meets Iron Maiden? Craziness I say! Not bad though for what it is....B

4. Morning Star-Falling somewhere between Slayer and Mercyful Fate with Judas Priest as the connecting source of energy. Good stuff. If only the mix was better. B+

5. World Of Temptation-Here's a long lost Alice In Chains track apparently!  B-

6. Hellraiser-Dio-ear Black Sabbath as interpreted by Judas Priest. B-  

7. Lord of War-Sludgy Judas Priest C-

8. Black Sun-A 90's heavy metal ballad? Huh? C

9. Free Nation-God awful drum beats and speed metal guitars are not a good combination. And then it turns into a 90's hard rock number where the Judas Priest love continues. Odd doesn't even start to cover it! C+

And there you have it. Final verdict? Well, there are some choice cuts here on "Free Nation" but the awful mix nearly ruins everything. No lie folks it is rough. As in demo quality rough. If you can move past that painfully obvious trait  and/or you are a die hard Csaba Zvekan fan then go for it. For everyone else though I'd take a pass on this one.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mark Rogers & Mary Byrne-I Line My Days Along Your Weight

Important Records
2014

"I Line My Days Along Your Weight" is the debut offering from Brooklyn husband and wife duo Mark Rogers & Mary Byrne. Recorded live to analog tape over the course of a few cold days this past January (with Mark handling most of this album's instrumentation and Mary working as a vocalist, acoustic guitarist and pianist) this tranquil release is just now seeing the light of day. The fact that it is some nine months later is likely not lost on the pair responsible for this confident collection and it most certainly should not be lost on those wise enough to invest in this invaluable folk album. With "I Line My Days Along Your Weight" there proved to be no birthing pains though even as the delivery process of this folk release proved to be as natural and intimate as it's initial creation! Given the undeniable chemistry of the pair and warm and cozy sense of comfort that this album conveys it's not too surprising to learn that Mark Rogers & Mary Byrne stood some mere inches apart as they recorded this humble and humane release. From the onset Mark Rogers (a former member of indie-folk band The Loom whose fingers of gold have been heaven-blessed!) and his partner Mary Byrne (a onetime lead-singer, songwriter and guitarist for Atlantic trio Hot Young Priest whose peaceful vocal delivery unsuccessfully masks the true strength and confidence of this masterful singer!) went out of there way to make "I Line My Days Along Your Weight" sound as delicate and true to life as possible. Even the "minimal touches of lap steel, piano, and electric guitar" that were later folded into the mix as a bit of afterthought add little to what is essentially a bare-naked and (very much so!) intimate take on folk. And with such intimacy on display the differing shades that exists between sorrow and joy on an album such as this all but wash away. In the end as subtle as "I Line My Days Along Your Weight" proclaims to be it is as bold and bright a statement as one can make. And it's a statement that is more than deserving of a receptive audience.  

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blind Race-Come And Get It EP

Self-Release/Independent
2014

Blind Race is a Toronto, Ontario hard rock/alternative metal band that was co-founded by brother's
Costas and Stelio Kentros (guitars & drums/percussion respectively). Officially this band came into being in 2007 although prior to that (2005 to be exact) there was already demo material recorded. In fact there was enough music recorded for two EPs which is how this Canadian act evolved from a studio-only project into a full-pledged band that has already shared the stage with the likes of Breached, West Memphis Suicide, Left Turn City, Rise For Order, All But Over, Down In Ashes, Last Bullet, Polarity, Affinity, Kodessa, Revmatic, The Standstills, Rebel Hero, On The Verge, Sumo Cyco, Raised Emotionally Dead, Burning The Day, The Joy Arson, The Rabid Whole, Asleep Behind The Flame, Fallen Heirs and The Unchained! And that's just to name some of the group's that Blind Race has performed with since stepping out of the studio and onto the stage! The upcoming "Come And Get It" is actually the group's second overall EP and Blind Race's third release since first appearing on the scene with the 2008 LP "Seeing Red". Initially starting out as a four-piece, "Come And Get It" is the first recording to feature Blind Race's expanded line-up. Besides Costas and Stelio Kentros the new EP "Come And Get It", which incidentally is due out November 18th and can be pre-ordered at the bandcamp link below, features lead vocalist Tommy Geraldes, bass guitarist Mike Ferraro and keyboardist Joannie Cotten. If I had to take a stab in the dark I would say that Joannie Cotten is the latest musician to join Blind Race. But, seeing as this is my first sampling of this Canadian band such information is really neither here nor there when it comes to the 5-track EP on hand. If you are curious though here's what this bunch looks like:




 OK, now the we have that out of the way let's tackle this 16 + minute release. Produced by Mike Langford (Evans Blue, Parabelle, Charlie Hope, Rains, Hawksley Workman, Sloan, Ian Thornley, Jeff Martin, Crash Karma, Art Of Dying, Shiloh, Dane Hartsell, Rex Goudie, and Tupelo Honey) and mastered by Chris Crerar at Toronto's Metalwork Studios, "Come And Get It" isn't exactly what it appears to be at first. Very much in tone with the kind of great movies where a twist comes from out of nowhere to wrap everything up perfectly this EP starts out one way before going BANG! and turning the tables on you. Without giving away too many "spoilers" here opening track "Hypocrite" and then it's follow-up, "Come And Get It" are straight out of the playbooks of bands like Godsmack, Pantera, Slipknot, Disturbed and Five Finger Death Punch. So much so in fact that I swore I had this album pegged for what it was and that the track "Hopeless" would live up to it's name! But then "Hopeless" actually started and it showed a completely different side of Blind Race. The thing is "Hopeless" has a real Pearl Jam vibe going for it and while that would normally be a bad thing for me (as I honestly loathe Pearl Jam and all!) here on this EP it is amazing! "Truth Or Dare" is next where the band tackles "Black"-era Metallica by way of Stone Sour and while lead vocalist Tommy Geraldes shows off his versatility on the mic Costas Kentros shows off his solid skills as a guitarist. The pair even goes acoustic on the short, but sweet "Gone"! And here I was thinking that I could easily pigeonhole this band! Silly me! In closing this is one "new" band worth checking out and you can do that by heading either here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blind-Race/7691919182 or over here: http://www.blindrace.net/online/ And if I haven't already said it then I must do it now. Collectively the members of Blind Race do a bang up job of complementing each other on their latest release and if they can continue to grow as a band and mature as songwriters then who knows just how far they could get! It's going to be interesting seeing what comes next for Blind Race, but in the meantime you can pre-view and pre-order this EP at this location:

http://blindrace.bandcamp.com/album/come-and-get-it

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Mortician-Shout for Heavy Metal

Pure Underground Records
2014

Vorarlberg, Austria-based four-piece Mortician (who are not to be confused with the horror-obsessed U.S. death metal/grindcore band of the same name!) are a N.W.O.B.H.M-infused classic heavy metal act whose roots can be traced back to 1983. Early on the band's influences were said to be the likes of Kiss, AC/DC and Judas Priest and in 1987 the group released a demo entitled "Street Warrior" and a EP known as "No War". An additional demo followed in 1989 by the name of "Break The Rules" before the band call it quits in 1990. After taking a "few" years off (19 to be exact!) Mortician was reformed in 2009 with guitarist Thomas "Tommy Lee" Metzler (ex-Art of Fear, ex-Tyran Virgin, ex-Psycho Holiday) and bass player Patrick Lerchertook serving as the sole original members of the band. Since then the group has released a compilation album entitled "No War & More", a 2011 self-titled full-length release and now this (fittingly-titled) recording, "Shout for Heavy Metal". Rounding out Mortician these days we have lead vocalist Daniel Khan (formerly of power metal band Art of Fear) with a drummer by the name of Alex credited in the promo material's notes. It's actually the title track that opens this album and drummer Alex slips right into the fold with "Shout for Heavy Metal" finding this Austria act merging N.W.O.B.H.M. greats such as Saxon, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden with the likes of Accept! With the throaty vocal delivery of Daniel Khan giving Mortician a gritty exterior the band takes a number like "Eagle Spy" to soaring heights (no pun intended!) and it's rather cool to hear how everyone from Saxon to Guns N' Roses (and even the one and only Motörhead!) is worked into the program! While Mortician's early career might have been influenced by Kiss, AC/DC and Judas Priest here we find a reshuffled heavy metal band where Judas Priest is just the beginning with the end of the adventure (ie: "The Devil You Know", "Black Eyes" and "Inner Self") pointing towards the likes of Slayer, Exodus and Megadeth! The "string" section here makes those sort of links work with "Shout for Heavy Metal" certainly living up to it's title in more ways then one! Then again so do songs like "Rock Power" (where this well-rounded band had me envisioning a mash-up of Accept and Manowar!) and the album's darkest moment, the slow descent in madness that is "Hate". Meanwhile the Judas Priest/Megadeth vehicle "Wrong Way" is the perfect way to wrap this LP up as it ends things on a high note! With a run-time over 40 minutes Mortician's latest effort is a wet dream come true for fans of pure metal and one that I hope to add to my physical music collection in the very near future!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Dead Federation-Dead Federation

Red Hour Records
2014

With Halloween less then two weeks away right isn't it about time that we pull out all the party favors? And no, we're not just talking about hard cider and hot wings here (even if those two particular items are a must-have for all my horror-related excursions!). Or for that matter all the lovely ghouls that one can dig up for the evening's festivities! Rather we are talking about how no party would be complete without some maddening tunes for all the creatures of the night to get on up and get down to. Especially if all you want to do on October 31st is to shake a leg and wake the dead! That's where punk metal misfits of science like Dead Federation come in handy. This Akron-area group has been lurking around these parts since at least 2010 and even if some of the band's original freaks have succumbed to the environment (corpses actually do not last long in the hot sun friends!) there's always grave robbing as an option right? Right! With the current line-up featuring lead singer Tom Dark, guitarists X46 ( Jeff Hardy ) & Mike " Shoobs " Schubert, bassist Caitie O' Shea and drummer Tommy Rocker Jr Dead Federation now has a lively bunch of misfits on hand for what is merely the latest slab of horror-related punk metal madness from this Ohio lot. While the band self-describes their sound as being like "a werewolf howling at the moon on a rocking Halloween night" a closer examination of the crime scene reviles the DNA of a dark metal band with some old-school goth/horror-punk leanings. That might sound an awful lot like Danzig/Misfits worship (and even some Samhain love), but for Dead Federation this eight-track album rocks a different beat entirely with the cast of characters involved here reinforcing the notion that Ohio's punk, hard rock and heavy metal scenes sound unlike any other. One has to imagine that Dead Federation is an absolute hoot live, but no imagination is needed when it comes to this self-titled studio piece as you can hear it here: https://deadfederation.bandcamp.com/     

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dead-Federation/200599879953057 

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Nuckin' Futs-Slavery

Fair Warning
2014

Active since 2012, Nuckin' Futs is a Barcelona, Catalonia-based act with an additional EP (2013's "Evilution") to it's name. Now, The Metal Archives tells me that this Spanish five-piece took it's name from a scene from in the 2003 comedy film "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star". I wouldn't have a clue as to whether or that is the case. What I do know is this band features a couple of members with ties to fellow Barcelona' band Bastards. Oh, and they play thrash. As in thrash influenced be the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Overkill, Exodus, Testament, Municipal Waste, Pantera and Anthrax. Their bandcamp page tells me as much although so does their music. And in this case it's all good. Even the Metallica part! This band is not so much retro though as they are a late 2000 band influenced by some greats of old (I'd toss in some Possessed, Forbidden and maybe even Lääz Rockit). The key difference being "Slavery" pays it's due respects to the old-school but it knows it's a modern metal band and acts accordingly. This Spanish band seems to realize that you can't always depend on the past to get you through. New blood is needed otherwise you're just dragging around an old corpse and it's going to smell after awhile! 




http://nuckinfuts.bandcamp.com/

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Concert Review: Doro with The Mighty Swine October 14 @ The Agora, Cleveland, Ohio

This past Tuesday I had the good fortune to catch the Doro show at the Agora in Cleveland, Ohio. Up front I want to thank The Mighty Swine for providing me with a ticket and my pre-planned/post-show ride accommodations who provided me safe passage on my journey home (thanks Dad!). Having thoroughly enjoyed myself by way of one Angry Orchard after another I can honestly say that it was great not having to drive the 45 minutes back home! Like I always say kids, if you are going to rage away the night then do it responsible! As for the show? More honestly here, but I came to see The Mighty Swine and the evenings opening act, Julia Roberts Global Warning. But, here's the kicker friends. I stayed for Doro. And man was I ever glad I did! While I'll never claim to be a diehard fan of hers (or even really a casual fan as I don't have any of her music believe it or not!) she blew me away with her stage presence and more so her power! Wow! More on that in bit though as the evening's festivities actually started once I made my way through the front door and found the members of The Mighty Swine. Having pre-arranged an interview with Mike Skimmerhorn and his crew we briefly chatted by the club's back bar where discussions soon turned toward the importance of eighties metal of all things! You could blame that one on me although lead guitarist/world's other greatest Dad (as I would soon enough discover!) Stacey Donahue certainly helped me alone with that bit thanks to a shared love of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and eighties heavy metal in general! As the main area of the club proved ill-suited to our needs we all made our way back-stage where thoughts quickly turned to past shows. When was the last time I was at the Agora I thought to myself as we worked our way down the stairs to the club's dressing rooms. Was it King's X? Slayer? Or how about Motörhead? None of that mattered as this evening would prove to be the most enjoyable one ever spent at the Agora and I have the band to thank for that! I've been around bands now for the better part of my life and it never ceases to amaze me how the metal ones are by far the nicest! And let me just say that The Mighty Swine are at the top of that list! Bassist/vocalist Mike Skimmerhorn, guitarist Stacey Donahue and guitarist Jeff Tong welcome me in and I was reminded of the brotherhood that is heavy metal. Here I was talking with Chastain's long-time bassist, but it is hard to be start-struck when everyone is so laid back, kind and sincere! That went for the band and crew as I had the pleasure of meeting Stacey's son Nick who is serving time as a roadie for The Mighty Swine. From father to son there was a lot of love packed with the group's tiny dressing room and as we all talked about the band and how great Doro had been with this Cincinnati group we occasional drifted off towards the subject of fatherhood. As far as chemistry goes this band has it and it really starts with the homegrown nature of this act. Even the band's new drummer Ric Martelino (a Cincinnati native) has familiar ties to The Mighty Swine. Originally considered for the group's latest release, Ric Martelino has stepped right into the fold. With the hint of special things to come we wrapped up the interview as the band was finally getting ready to the stage. After allowing me the extreme pleasure of introducing them to a crowd hungry for more metal the band tore through a powerful set featuring not only the fantastic title cut of their latest album ("Last Man Standing"), but a blistering cover of "Hell Bent For Leather" by Judas Priest! From where I was standing the band sounded great and considering the fact that new drummer Ric Martelino had only been with the band a short time he brought his absolute best out and was like a beast on the drums! Mike Skimmerhorn's voice is as strong live as it is in the studio and while this exception bassist might just always be associated with Chastain there is little doubt the The Mighty Swine is his top priority! As the band members themselves say they are not out looking to reinvent the wheel, but instead they want to make their band and their music be the best possible! To that end they are heading there the right way and with a solid line-up now in place and the kind of dedication that leaves little doubt as to this band's potential and drive they are getting there fast! OK, what about the bands on this bill and the evening in general? Without a doubt this proved to be one of the best shows that I've been to in a long time! The Mighty Swine helped see to that, but they were hardly alone in sounding good!  Let's break down the rest of the evening's entertainment!

Having long heard good things about opening act Julia Roberts Global Warning I was anxious to see them live. And let me just say that they did not disappoint! How is this traditional/power metal band not signed? Julia Roberts is one of Cleveland's best kept secrets and as a vocalist and guitarist her skills simply cannot be beat! Instantly winning over all who see her live, Julia Roberts sent the audience away craving more and I know full well that I wasn't the only one there that evening who wished for a longer set and some merch to take back home! Extremely underrated by the community at large (or at least those who have never witnessed how wicked a power trio like this one can be when given a chance to tear shit up!) , Julia Roberts Global Warning should have been snatched up a long time ago as they rank right up there with the best that traditional heavy metal has to offer! I plan to keep in touch with this band and  I urge all of you to do the same! Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/JRGlobalWarning

Next up to bat was Westlake, Ohio's Blackjack Symphony (https://www.facebook.com/blackjacksymphony) and while the band's own blend of hard rock and heavy metal didn't do a whole lot for me at first by the second half of their set I found it a bit more inviting. Not bad for what and who they are, but they proved to be outgunned by Vulgar Devils!

And speaking of Vulgar Devils (and wicked power trios!) where did these guys come from? This heavy rock and roll/ hard & heavy three-piece plowed through the audience with a balls-out set and while they might come from the same school district that spawned Motörhead, Valient Thorr, Against The Grain and Lucky Bastardz the guys in Vulgar Devils prefer taking their own bus to the big game. With a release planned for the near future I'll be keeping an ear out for this band's rattle and roll! You can find them here: https://www.facebook.com/v.d.rocknroll 

Next we had The Mighty Swine and while I've touched on this band already let me just add that seeing them from the side of the stage as I did was a blast! These guys are going somewhere! "Last Man Standing" is such a good heavy metal album and with everyone now on the same page this could prove to be just the start of this band's ascent to the top of the heap. I sure hope so as The Mighty Swine deserve it!

So, what of Doro? In a word "wow"! I did not expect such a huge voice to come out of such a small frame! Seriously, Doro is not at all that tall and yet her stage presence is larger then life. The crowd loved her and she in turn returned the love with a set that made each and everyone in attendance raise their first to sky in appreciation. Doro has earned a reputation as one of heavy metal's finest vocalists and here in Cleveland she proved that she still has it and isn't planning on going anywhere anytime soon. If I wasn't a fan going in I most certainly left with a new appreciation for her and her backing band and it proved to be the perfect way to end my Tuesday evening out on the town! If I can part with any words it's got to be this. Heavy metal (real, God-given heavy metal) is an amazing thing. And whether it's local talent like Julia Roberts Global Warning, U.S. metal like The Mighty Swine or a national act like Doro it all comes from the same source and that voice inside all of us that wants to break out and be free! Believe in your local bands. Support the scene whenever and however you can. And finally go out and see your favorite bands live! Along the way you might just make new friends or discover new music that you previously never gave a chance to. Remember that the metal community is a brotherhood where everyone is invited in and welcomed. At the show I saw young, twenty something year old kids standing net to metalheads in their sixties! I personally witnessed a young fan in a wheelchair being treated to kindness from long haired biker types covered in tattoos! In-between sets I chatted with a gentleman old enough to be my father and some fans who could have been my kids! Everyone there was equal-young and old, black and white alike. If we can do that then maybe just maybe it can carry over to the rest of this world? That would be nice right? In the meantime though remember what I always say. Live life loud and proud friends. Loud and proud!  

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Death On Two Wheels-Death On Two Wheels




The Ghost Umbrella
2014

Self-produced and serving as the follow-up to "Separation Of Church And Fate", "Death On Two Wheels" is the sophomore release from the Atlanta rock and roll roadsters of the same same. Made up of members Trae Vedder (Vocals, Guitar) Jacob Bubacz (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Stuart Roane (Bass, Vocals), Greg Neel (Drums, Vocals) and Alec Stanley (Organ, Rhodes, Vocals) this Georgia-based act first appeared on my doorsteps by way of a free sampler. Exclusive to NoiseTrade and available by providing your e-mail address at the link below said sampler included the likes of "Look At The Sound", "Hey Amariah", "Blamed Your Friends", "Death Wolf" and "Giving It All Away". That proved to be more than enough of a tasty sampling as soon I found my way here (http://deathontwowheels.bandcamp.com/) to download the whole affair! Originally recommended for fans of band's like Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Queens Of The Stone Age and J. Roddy Walston & The Business (seeing as this band is indebted to 70's hard rock as much as they are the whole post-grunge and modern day garage rock scene) the actually truth of the matter is this Atlanta rock and roll band is less a copy of any of the above and more a complete original notion with "Death On Two Wheels" becoming one of those rare albums where the kids (ie: my two teens) and I wholeheartedly agreed that yeah, this one flat-out rocks! But hey, considering the fact that you can download half of this album for yourself for free and essentially stream the other half at the group's bandcamp page why not just check it out for yourself? 

You can download the free sampler be heading here: http://noisetrade.com/deathontwowheels/death-on-two-wheels

https://www.facebook.com/deathontwowheels 


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