Sunday, August 31, 2008

What's coming up?


I was watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High the other day after not having seen it for years. It's still good although the two characters above are of course the highlight of the film. It's also a decent flick for hard rock/metal references. Van Halen, Zeppelin, Ozzy, Cheap Trick and Blue Oyster Cult all get mentioned plus you can spot Zeppelin and Van Halen shirts in a few scenes. Anyways this week I hope to have the following out

Reviews of...
The Underwater-Forces
Joetown-Pills and Ammo
Whitechapel-This is exile
Extreme-Saudades de rock
Netherbird-The Ghost Collector
and maybe one more

Interviews with...
Ann Bolyn
The Dead End Kidz

and possibly a Clash of the album covers.

Have a good Labor Day and a great week!

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Dragonforce-Ultra Beatdown


I approached the new Dragonforce album trying hard to be objective and went into it with an open mind. Several plays later I emerged, a little worse for wear yet very much sure that I had not misjudged this band on their previous albums. This is speed for the sake of speed and if it was thrash or death metal then is might work out in the end a little better. However this is power metal and they slop out some soulless riffs that lack any real depth. Unfortunately that's not the end, no they bring out the theatrical vocals that are thick on the ham and although have a definite range the larynx ripping pace robs them of any real emotion or richness that might have been present. The keyboards just help to make the overall feel even fluffier than it already is, if that is actually possible. Don't get me wrong, I love power metal and that's exactly why I felt unsatisfied by this album. Power metal in general thrives on soaring riffs, multiple pace changes and oftentimes powerful vocals. Dragonforce thrive on the gimmick of being over the top yet they sadly just appear to be light weights at best and at the worst they seem to be a bad joke. I was trying very hard to dig deep and get into what they were doing here. Yet that wasn't possible because they are not that, deep everything they have is just on the surface and it all revolves around rather thin layers of flash. The eight tracks here are in keeping with the band's previous outputs although they may show just a little more control. Unfortunately, I think there are enough fans out there who will buy into this candy-coated, smirking style of hollow power metal and keep fueling Dragonforce's efforts for a few more years to come.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interview with Post Mortem

The first time I heard Post Mortem was back in 1986 on their Coroner's Office album. Right away I thought that they were odd and crazy. After interviewing vocalist John McCarthy and guitarist John Alexander it sounds like some things never change. Enjoy.

MM-First the big news is that Coroner’s Office and The Missing Link are going to be released on one CD by New Renaissance. The original release has been delayed, so why the delay and do you have an idea of when it will be released?

John Alexander: New Ren is probably just trying to stagger the releases a little.

MM- Are the albums being re-mastered? Are there any bonus tracks and what can we expect in the booklet?
John Alexander: There are some alternate edits of 3 songs. I have no idea what will be in the booklet, this is something new ren is doing.

MM- Now you list your definitive band line-up as being solidified in 1985 which is three years after you formed. Was it difficult keeping a stable line-up those first few years and if so then why?
John Alexander: The line up that plays on most of the LPS etc came together in 85.

MM-How did you get signed to New Renaissance records? Did you have any other offers back then if so then from what labels?
John Alexander: We sent them a tape we did and I guess they liked it. Metal Blade was also interested, but, we recieved no concrete offer. So, we took the first contract that arrived in the mail and were done with it. After all, we were in high school!!


MM-Now “Festival of fun” was recorded in 1989. Was the first it saw the light of day on the 1994 version from Red Light? If so then why was that?
John Alexander: 2 LP versions came out in 89. The record was recorded for a big label (not New Ren) and they hated it, dropped us, and refused to put it out. So, we did.
John McCarthy: CIRCUS BEARS.
MM-Who was the label that you originally recorded "Festival of fun" for?

MM- What’s you favorite album that your band did and why?
John Alexander: I like bits and pieces from them all, musically my fav is the "Ring Around the Rectum" EP. My best playing is on that record.

MM-Why did you break up in 1994?
John Alexander: We broke up?
John Alexander: I guess you could say things were put on hold in 94 for many reasons.

MM-What have you and the other band members been doing since then?
John Alexander: Cooking, cleaning, working, paying bills, taking showers on a semi-regular basis.
John Alexander: I play/played in some projects http://www. myspace. com/banddread and


MM-What were some of the first albums that you really got into?
John Alexander: Volume 4, well, really all Black Sabbath with Ozzy. Oh and the Bay City Rollers "Rollin'" if you wanna go way back to when I was a little kid.

MM-What was the Boston metal/punk rock scene like in the 1980’s and early 1990’s?
John Alexander: hmmmm
John McCarthy: WE DID'NT CARE.
John Alexander: The scene was not something I was interested in.

MM-What’s the scene in Boston like these days?
John Alexander: No idea
John McCarthy: I'M LOST ON THAT ONE.

MM-What are some of your more memorable shows with Post Mortem?
John Alexander: Opening for Cannibal Corpse and playing an instrumental acoustic set. People hated us and wanted to kill us, you could really see the anger, it was great. Best show by far. Well, getting attacked on stage in Detriot was also great. They threw bottles at us and some people rushed the stage and took my guitar and started to beat me with it. That was almost as good as the Cannibal Corpse show.
John Alexander: yeah, I just loved when people hated us. I could not get into playing to a crowd that liked us.
John Alexander: I think I wanted them to try and fight us or something, but, most people spoke tall games and then did nothing.
John McCarthy: EXACTLY.
John Alexander: Thankfully, I am mellow now.

MM-Do you have any regrets in your musical career?
John Alexander: No
John Alexander: yeah, that did suck and we came sooo close too
John McCarthy: IT DRIVES ME TO TEARS......


MM-What kind of music are you listening to these days?
John Alexander: The kind that uses instruments? Miley Cyrus, Cianide, and Aly and A.J.
John Alexander: satan keeps his shit tight

MM-Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you picked each band.
Wargasm or Meliah Rage
John McCarthy: THE BEE GEES.
John Alexander: Are these Jim Nabors cover bands?
John Alexander: How does a Meliah Rage anyhow? Sounds painful. or do you mean mariah carey?

At War or Medieval
John Alexander: I pick both
John McCarthy: DITTO.

St. Vitus or Pentagram
John Alexander: St. Vitus

Megadeth or Slayer
John McCarthy: NEITHER.
John Alexander: Slayer, but, they owe us. I think I am gonna write a song called Slayer....

Is there anything else that you like to say about your band of your music?
John Alexander: Just say no
John Alexander: Were your horns up while keeping it brutal?
John Alexander: Damn...

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Plan 9-Man Made Monster

Nickel and Dime

Plan 9 originally formed in San Francisco around 1997 as a one shot, one time Misfits tribute band. Now they have gone from being a tribute band to being full fledged act, well sort of. When you call yourself Plan 9 plus dress and sound like the Misfits then inevitably you are going to be compared to the Misfits. That's a tough standard to live up to because they did a lot of things so well despite lack of playing skills and decent production values. In fact those last items actually turned out to be part of the charm. Plan 9 aim for the sound and spirit of the Misfits with tracks such as "War of the worlds" and "Black dragon". The style is most similar to "Walk among us" material although a few of the faster tracks lean more towards the sound Earth A.D. One of the main things I learned from listening to this CD is that the Misfits' music is rather easy to simulate. However I also learned that Glenn Danzig's vocals (at their prime) are not as easy to copy. Vocalist Aaron Fuller shoots for Danzig's style and he does okay, but his lack of a real bit makes this feel a bit pale. They cover "Teenagers from Mars" and "We bite" in one selection that turns out alright. Yet their version of "We bite" had me realizing how ridiculously simple the music was yet Danzig attacked his part like a mad dog and turned it into a great song. Plan 9 lack that kind of energy, however they sound more comfortable on their original tracks. This is a fair enough tribute in it's own right and despite the credits it still is basically a tribute album. Ultimately it's fine, but after a few songs I just felt the urge to stop it and put the Misfits on instead.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Interview with Steel Assassin

Steel Assassin hail from the Boston area and formed back in 1980 as a cover band. They broke up in 1985, but reformed a few years with a 4/5 original line-up and now have released a CD called “War of the eight saints”. I recently got to interview bass player Phil Grasso and guitarist Mike Mooney to find out more.

MM-Who are your musical influences?

Mike: I have a lot of influences but if I had to just name a few and say they're the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place it would be in no particular order Ritchie Blackmore, Ace Frehley and Brian May. I know that's diverse but in the 70's growing up, these guys just made my hair stand on end and I decided THAT'S what I wanna do. Musically my favorite band is still Rush for all their diverse subject matter and the intelligence of the song writing. The thing that makes SA work is that all 5 of us have completely different listening preferences and it's that small portion where we all overlap that creates our sound, whether it be unique or not, it seems to work for us still.

MM-So this band actually formed in 1980, but didn’t officially become Steel Assassin until 1983.
What kind of covers were you playing? What brought about the name change and the change in musical direction towards doing originals?
Mike: The progression towards writing our own songs was only natural, that's what every musician aspires to I think. We were playing just about every NWOBHM band you can think of, Saxon, Raven, Accept, Priest, AC DC, Maiden, Tygers of Pan Tang, etc. We were originally called Assassin but we and others thought the name a bit generic so we decided to add the Steel to sort of make sure there was no mistake in what they were about to hear or see.


MM-You broke up in 1985. Why did you break up back then?
Mike-There were many reasons, some the same old stuff, but we were being managed at the time by some folks that had major label contacts and were really pushing us to write radio material. That didn't bode well with us and though we were diluted and somewhat misdirected, it eventually got the best of us. Once it was clear that we were going to have trouble getting "signed"(the big term of the day back then), a few members got frustrated and decided to move on. We've all remained truly the best of friends all these years though.

MM-Did you ever get much interest from any record labels back during your first run?
Mike: The interest we got was minimal from major labels, we did have some offers from indies, but our management at the time kept pushing for something bigger....regrets? maybe a few. ha ha

MM-Did everyone stay in music or not? If so then what did everyone go to?
Mike: Pretty much we all stayed playing in one way or another, although we each branched out into other careers and families. Kevin and I actually had a great Thin Lizzy tribute band going for a few years in which we were able to play in Dublin, Ireland for the annual Vibe for Philo which we were very proud of.

MM-Now you did a brief reunion in 1988. What that just a show or did you work on any material at that time?
Phil: "Don't know anything about that. The band did get another singer and bassist after Doni and I left. I think that lasted about a year. Maybe in '86 the band and Doni got back together around '86. They asked if I was interested in rejoining, and I declined. Our friend Ed Keeke from SPLIT IMAGE joined on bass. It lasted one show, and then it broke up for good, until our reformation in 2005.
MM-The 1988 reunion was mentioned in the paragraph on the back of your CD.
Phil-I think that reunion was in '86, because I used the "reunion band" to do an instrumental tape of some S.A. songs that I put my vocal on, and that was '86. '88 was when I was doing my AQUITAINE band, and Mike and Ed was in that band, so the reunion must have been before then.


MM-When and why did you guys decide to reform the band?
Mike: It actually started at a cookout in my backyard, Phil asked me and Kevin if he could get some label interest would we be interested in giving it a try. We were so intrigued at the prospect of getting together and writing all new metal that we truly just could not resist.

MM-Vocalist John Falzone is new to the band. Where did you meet him and what does he add to your sound?
Phil: "We've known John for a while. He was in TRIPHAMMER back in the day. It was Rich (Spillberg) who suggested John to the band. And the rest is history...

MM-Are all the songs on “War of the eight saints” brand new? If so then how do the new songs compare with the material you were playing back in the 1980’s?
Phil: "All the songs with the exception of "Barabbas" were written during the Reformation period in 2005.


MM-What has been the response to the album so far?
Phil: " Great!"
Mike: Myself I've been truly humbled at all the great responses we've had to the album, it has totally exceeded my expectations and become something we're all VERY proud of. By the way, wait until you hear the next one.

MM-Since Steel Assassin didn’t exist for like twenty years, do you think that a lot of people outside of your home area remember the band?
Phil: "It was acutally the people from our area that forgot about us. Everywhere else they remembered us, which took us all by pleasant surprise!!"

MM-What was the Boston metal scene like back in 1980’s? Who were some of the other top club bands back them?
Phil: "Better than it is now, but it still wasn't as good as RI, CT, NY. The clubs we played with some sort of regularity back then was Celebrations at The Kenmore Club, Paradise, Channel, Salem Theater.

MM-What is the metal club scene like in your area these days?
Phil: "Still better in RI, CT, and NY", at least for our style of Trad. Power Metal. Death, Hard Core, and that type is doing well here from what I hear."

MM-What are some of your favorite albums of 2008 so far?
Phil: "I don't follow the Metal scene too closely to be honest. I can tell you the newer bands that I really like are DREAM EVIL, FIREWIND, CIRCLE 2 CIRCLE and KAMELOT. I listen to more of the old stuff, although I don't listen to too many other bands when I'm busy writing for STEEL ASSASSIN."

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Malamute-Breath deeply, horse

Acerbic Noise Development

You know how something can sound good on paper or in theory, but then it just doesn't come through in the end? Malamute from Hattiesburg Mississippi are on what my opinion is one the best independent heavy music labels around (AND). The actual sound on this album contains punk rock, metal and various other heavy and melodic tones swirled around a rather liquid, non-structured type of format. The vocals are quirky yet coherent and the effort and enthusiasm are just bursting out as this band seems to go for the everything, but the kitchen sink approach. Now to me that sounds like it would be a fantastic album. So why am I wrinkling my forehead as I write this review? Well, despite including all of the above I just couldn't get completely into this album. Indeed Malamute loaded their bags with their wares and then dumped them out on this recording. They are not lacking angles or ideas, but they are lacking an edge or a hook or something that would really make this album engaging. I thought that after one play and that feeling loomed over me after three more plays of the CD. The wild and sometimes frantic stance they take had me interested, but they just seem to lack enough depth to really finish the deal. It's like wanting to dive into the water, but you know it's not deep enough to dive into so instead you end up staying on the edge just kind of kicking your feet in the shallow part. Perhaps my opinion is influenced by the fact that other artists on this label (The Devil and the sea, El Chupa Cobras and Ganon) have released outstanding albums this year and maybe I was expecting more. Altogether this is a somewhat likeable album, but it's from a standout and they need some work to really become a memorable band.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Black Stone Cherry-Folklore and Superstition


Kentucky based Black Stone Cherry return with that all important sophomore release. What I enjoyed about their 2006 debut was the strong, gritty vocals and the fact that a number of the main riffs often sounded like a cross between Metallica and southern rock plus they ripped. What I didn't like about that album was that these guys would start begin a track strong and then have problems sustaining the energy level throughout the entire song. Well, apparently they decided not to pick up directly where they off on the first album because the style here heads off in a slightly different direction. First off it's not as heavy and many of the killer main riffs are gone and instead we get a more steady approach. Instead of Metallica there is a bit more Led Zeppelin scattered throughout. At first my thoughts were "oh, these guys went mellow over the course of one album" and although I miss the heavier approach a little they do perhaps run a more well-oiled machine here. Tracks like "Blind Man" and "Soulcreek" have Black Stone Cherry pulling off a nice balancing act while sustaining the momentum throughout with a fair amount of style. What they lack in hard hitting punches they make up for with some degree of emotion and soul. Those are not traits they were able to deliver all that often on their debut. The vocals might even be more effective this time around as there is a bit more more focus on building a real feel in the song and they take their time a little more. Still there are moments where it just feels a bit too accessible for my liking because on a few tracks they seem to just kind of glide through without much edge or change in moods. My final thoughts are that it's different from the debut and it took some time for me to adjust to the change in their style. I still think they could use a bit more of hard hitting spirit from the first album. However, they have managed to be far better at maintaining my interest throughout an entire song and that's a worthy skill that may serve them for a longer period of time. What I really hope for is that down the road we they go in to record album number three that they bring the bring the control and spirit of this album together with the fire and energy of the debut.

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Orange Sky-Dat iz voodoo

Star City

Orange Sky hail from Port of Spain, Trinidad and have opened for the likes of Skid Row, Hatebreed and Yngwie Malmsteen. This is primarily late 80's/early 90's influenced metal with tinges of hard rock and flashes of reggae thrown in on occasion. The first things that I noticed about this album was the fine production as the guitar often has a very rich sound to it. Orange Sky make a decent effort at varying the pace and pulling in different, styles, sounds and influences. I can hear some Scorpions, Guns and Roses and on a few tracks even some "And justice for all" era Metallica riffs crunching in there. The effort and the ability to take some risks are certainly here, but the knowledge of really building up excitement and their energy level are a bit more inconsistent. The end result is something of a mixed bad although it falls a little above average. Tracks like "Dark Room" and "Roses" come on and you just know that these guys have a firm grasp on where they taking these songs and just gallop forward taking you along. Other tracks like "Rainbows" and "Is there anybody there?" seem a bit more awkward primarily towards the middle of the track. There are several songs where they start out in fine form, but then try to change things up with that parts just tend to bog down the flow instead of making it more diverse. They have a decent grip on heavy parts, but not so much on melodic parts and sometimes transition between different parts seems a little rocky as well. The playing skill is generally high and that's giant plus, but their ideas and writing are not as stable. I think that there is enough here to build upon so hopefully they keep working at it.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Anima-The Daily Grind

Metal Blade

Anima hail from Germany and all of the members are in their late teens. I am not sure that either of those items has a real impact on their music or not, but whatever the case this band has proven that they are capable knocking out seriously hard-hitting progressive death metal. Granted it actually took about three tracks for them to warm up because at first they storm on and just cruise at one speed which is a like a blur and they don’t really slowdown or pause enough to really put any kind of inflection into their music. However after a while they settle in, take charge and began to vary the pace in music and vocals. The older style of thrash comes in and out and the sounds become much more defined. All of a sudden they are beginning to sound comfortable, focused and they begin to build songs rather just roar through them. Now if only the vocals were a little more defined at a consistent rate then they would be even better. Still they showed a good share potential and more than that they showed a fair share of control which I think is very important in the style of music.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Held Under/Discovery-Anthology



This band from Preston, Washington began as Discovery as was formed by the Stevens brothers Michael (vocals) and guitarist Patrick. They formed in 1983 and plugged along recording demos and an EP, but didn't get signed. In the early 90's they changed the band name to Dorian Gray and had changed a few members as well. They were set to record, but decided to go with "Held Under" as the band name since they learned that there were other acts using the name "Dorian Gray". They recorded another demo and could still not get signed, but plugged along some more into the 1990's before disbanding. Okay, now I need to close the book on this history lesson since I have given you the background. That will also free me up to get at the important matter, which is what is the music like? This is a two disc set with the first disc being the Held Under material which was recorded in 1991, 1995 and 1997. They follow a style of early power metal similar to Leatherwolf and Fifth Angel. They obviously were strongly influenced by classic metal acts like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and the Scorpions, but they also have a definite touch of early progressive metal bands mixed as well. The Held Under disc has the bands more complicated and balanced songs plus the production is better. These guys were tight and knew how to manipulate their music with equal amounts of control and finesse. The vocals compliment the music with a broad enough range, but were a little low in the mix on several tracks. The Discovery disc finds the band playing a style that's in the same ball park, but certainly more basic and little more loose in the structure. You can still certainly hear the potential and the talent even if the production isn't always spectacular. My only real complaint on this set is that I think I would have enjoyed it more if it were in chronological order with the Discovery disc coming first and Held Under second. That way you could hear the musical growth like it happened, but of course I can listen to it in that order now if I want to. I had never heard of this band before and don't know if their failure to get signed was due to the crowded market or that they just got overlooked. However the bottom line is that they were talented and they knocked out and fortunately for us they recorded these 29 tracks between 1986 and 1997 so they we can now enjoy them.

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War of Ages interview

Heavy metal/hardcore act War of Ages have been going it at for some time. They recently released their latest effort "Arise and Conquer" on Facedown records. I had the pleasure of interviewing vocalist Leroy to learn more about this band and their new album

Hello, tell us a little about the history of your band?
Steve, our lead Guitarist, and I started WOA in 2003. A friend of mine mentioned one day Steve was looking for someone to jam with. I asked Steve, that day, if we could get together that night. We wrote our first song in about an hour at our first practice. The rest is history haha!

Who are some of your musical influences?
It’s different for every member in our band. Steve, Branon, and Tj hold down the metal side of things with bands like Soildwork, In Flames, Iron Maiden, old Metallica, and Behemoth to name a few. Alex and I hold down the hardcore end of things with bands like Earth Crisis, xDisciplex a.d., Shockwave, Buried Alive, and Hatebreed.

Tell us a little about your new album “Arise and Conquer”.
This album is an artistic collaboration of every struggle we’ve been through individually. We’ve just expressed this in different ways, both musically and lyrically.

What are some of your favorite tracks on the new album and why?
Each track acts as a reflection of something I’ve gone through in my life and to be honest I don’t have a favorite track this time around I like all of them. Every member of WOA feels the same way I do.
Instead I’ll explain one track that I find most important. The first song on the album is called “All Consuming Fire”. This title is referring to the power of the one and only living God. We’ve all felt pain before and during those times we might even feel helpless. God is All-Powerful and he’ll never leave our side. We just need to have faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

How did the writing and recording go? Did you approach this album any differently than on previous albums?
We approached this album way different than our previous albums. Every album we’ve released in the past we wrote under a microscope. By microscope I mean in our minds what would be consider as “culturally acceptable” without allowing ourselves to stray to far away from truth. In other words what would sell better! Sometimes we allow our human nature to take over what our hearts are telling us do. It makes me angry that we’d allow fear to creep in to something that’s supposed to be so passionate. “Arise and Conquer” is straight to the point both musically and lyrically. This album is exactly what we wanted to say and play!! As far as recording goes we had both a producer and a large amount of time, which were two elements that were non-existent in the previous albums.

Let’s say someone had never heard your music before and could only afford one album then which one would you recommend and why?
“ARISE AND CONQUER” ALL THE WAY! If you want to know what War of Ages is all about both musically and lyrically than “Arise and Conquer” is your jam.

You seem very passionate about your music and the messages in your lyrics. Is it difficult to deliver that kind of energy and spirit night after night?
If I said no then I’d be lying. The truth is touring most of the year along with playing shows almost every night is very taxing on our souls. What it all comes down to is passion. God gave us these gifts and talents and he can take them away just as fast as they’ve been given. Right now the passion to use our talents as WOA is flowing, so as a gift to God we play for Him.


Would you call yourself a Christian band? Do you think labels like that are necessary for music or not?
Yes, we call ourselves a Christian band. It’s our human nature to name and labels things. We’ve been doing it since the dawn of time. I wish this wasn’t the case in the music realm, but I feel identity gives people a sense of security. If I were wrong you wouldn’t be asking me this question, because no one would care. You see?

How do you keep yourselves motivated and on track?
Well it depends, are we talking musically or spiritually? Both are equally important and run parallel with each other. War of Ages shares one common goal between each of its members and that’s to serve God with all our hearts. We have daily devotionals to keep ourselves motivated and on track. Our devotions lead us to many discussions, which is very important for relationships. Our lines of communication are always open with each other. If there’s a problem we address it quickly and in a loving way. We’re very close and would do anything for each other. Everything falls into place for us musically because we work very hard as a team for our goal.

In what ways has this band changed since you first started out?
In the beginning we were young kids in a band trying to play music in order to gain the respect of fans. Now we’re men in a band playing praise and worship for our father in heaven.

In what areas would you like to progress or improve at?
I’d like to improve Spiritually. I realize now that God put me here to help save lives and share His life story in my own way. He carried me through every obstacle in my life. It’s time for me to give back what He deserves and that’s Worship!

What have you not done in you music career that you still hope to accomplish?
I stopped caring about goals musically a long time ago. But if I had to list one I’d like to us scan over 100,000 records.


What have been some of your most memorable shows so far?
I’d have to say any one of the Fests we play each year. Tons of kids come out to support us each year. It’s an amazing experience to say the least.

What should someone who comes to see you live expect?
A heavy and energetic live show!

What do you think are some of the best albums of 2008 so far?
I’ll list my top 5 starting with my favorite:
1.) As I lay dying- An Ocean Between Us
2.) Take It Back- Can’t Fight The Robots
3.) Thieves and Liars- When Dreams Become Reality
4.) Austrian Death Machine- Total Brutal
5.) The Glorious Unseen- Tonight The Stars Speak

What are some of the best things about the metal/hardcore scene in general these days?
I like how much it’s grown over the years. The opportunity to see your favorite band in your hometown is far greater then it used to be. There’s far more opportunities for bands than before.


What are some of the worst things about the metal/hardcore scene in general these days?
The metal and hardcore scene is way over saturated with bands. Touring is much harder then it used to be. Gas prices are higher than ever before and money for touring is spread way to thin across the board. To many bands and too many tours--there just are’t enough kids or money.

Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band or your music or anything else?

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Trigger the bloodshed-Purgation

Metal Blade/Rising Records

Variety is the spice of life. Have you ever that one? Sure you have, but I am not sure that UK death metal act Trigger the bloodshed are very familiar with it. If they are then they obviously didn’t take it to heart when writing and recording their full length debut. We are given a platter of seventeen (!) tracks of blazing, lighting fast, growling death metal. It actually seemed longer than 17 songs at times and other times it just felt like one big song that went on forever. It was a bit like being on a Merry Go Round that’s going too fast for too long. I get a left with a headache and a sense that this ride went nowhere. They just seem to grab their instruments and hammer away with very little thought pace changes, altering tones or building any type of structure. Now don’t get me wrong, they hit on some decent tones and even squeeze out a few nice bone jarring bursts of thrash. Yet most of that was and far between because too often they seemed so focused on just getting into one mode and just grinding it out until, stop and then do the next track the same way. A few of the later songs were a bit more spread out in style, but by then it was hard to really care that much. I just can’t imagine a lot of people wanting to listen this thing over and over because once was enough for me.

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Clash of the album covers

I think that I had this one in mind for some time, but just now got around to it. So we have....


Judas Priest-Sin after Sin



Led Zeppelin-Physical Graffiti

***So which cover do you prefer?

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Spread Eagle-s/t


The debut from New York's Spread Eagle was originally released back in 1990, then it was re-issued in 2006 and when I saw being distributed again in September so I decided to get a copy to check it out. I remember seeing a few half-page ads for it in the metal magazines back in 1990. I don't know if I read negative reviews or if I just couldn't find it at my local record stores back, but for whatever reason I never got around to hearing it back then. In more recent years I began to see a lot of very positive reviews on it so I decided to check it out and see what all of the fuss was about. "Broken City" comes bursting on with more guitar changes in the first thirty seconds than many of their peers had in a whole four minute song. The groove is undeniable as they just ride this one out of the gate and hang on as it bucks and kicks all the way. Tracks like "Back on the bitch" and "Switchblade Serenade" are a bit more typical of the times, but just active enough to rise up and stand out. My two biggest complaints about hard rock back then and in general would be that they settle for bland rhythm sections and that the guitarists either can't or won't just rip loose on the rhythms enough. The rhythm section of Rob Deluca on bass and Tommi Gallo on drums are certainly well above the average and not afraid to step up and be heard. Guitarist Paul Di Bartolo is a monster just peeling off riff after riff with plenty of skill and precision with everything focused towards making the songs stronger as a whole. Vocalist Ray West is right in there screaming all the way and leading the charge. As a whole they remind me some of Skid Row, but more groove oriented and maybe a bit more versatile. Should Spread Eagle have been big? I wouldn't say that necessarily, but they probably should have gotten more notice than they did. Yet it was a crowded time with so many acts being signed at one point, it was inevitable that not everyone was going to emerge successful and sometimes it was just luck of the draw or having your single or video hit at the right time. However Spread Eagle debut stands out as an example of enjoyable hard rock of the time and it has aged rather well to boot.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's coming up?

It's difficult to believe that we are almost 2/3 of the way through 2008. It's been a pretty good year, but last year a lot of the best albums came out in the last third of the year. Could that happen in 2008 as well? Let's see, Metallica's album is coming out next month and some people seemed hyped on that. AC/DC's new one is due in October, but I can't see that be anything other than rather ordinary and the same old thing. Other than those, I don't know. Guns and Roses could release their album, but I don't think that's likely until we start hearing some statements from their label and/or their management. Plus who really cares at this point? The best album of the last third of the year might likely come more unexpected sources as that's already happened throughout 2008 thus far.

This week I hope to have out the following.

Reviews of...
Trigger the bloodshed-Purgation
Anima-The daily grind
Spead Eagle (re-issue)
Malamute-Breathe deeply, horse
Held Under/Discovery-Anthology
Orange Sky-Dat iz voodoo

Interviews with....
War of ages
Steel Assassin

and maybe a Clash of the album covers as well.

Have a great week!

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Lesser of two evils

The year 1991 saw an outpouring of hard rock releases, most were on major labels and many of them had little or no impact as the days for this style of limp, thin music were numbered. There were good bands who didn't get their due, but there were plenty more weak and generic acts as well who were just fortunate that labels were signing them based on image rather than talent. So that brings us to this match up between Baton Rouge and Wild Horses (not the UK band, but rather the U.S. one). I seem to remember Baton Rouge getting a fair amount of mentions back then in the metal mags of the day. Not just fluffy nonsense like Metal Edge either, I think they got some notice from RIP as well. Wild Horses got less notice as I just barely remember hearing about them. Yet they had more connections with two former Kingdom Come members (drummer Kottak and guitarist Steier), Dokken bass player Jeff Pilson is listed as having played bass although I don't know to what extent and former King Kobra vocalist Johnnie Edwards was originally in this band until he had the opportunity to jump ship to front Foreigner. In the end neither act made much of an impression in the crowded and dying poofy haired hard rock scene of 1991. Yet both get a chance to earn a slight amount of respect (or at least not lose) as they square off in the arena of forgettable hard rock acts, so let's get ready to rummmmmmmble! It is.....

Baton Rouge-Lights out on the playground


Wild Horses-Bareback


So it's Kelly Keeling for Baton Rouge against John Levesque for Wild Horses. Keeling went on to sing for a lot of different acts and his range his fine, but he just really lacks personality. He's going through the motions and he's doing enough to be steady yet it's very dull. Levesque might be the best thing about Wild Horses. He sounds something like Sammy Hagar on several occasions and manages to liven up a few songs that would have died otherwise. He's never really completely on fire yet he does manage to remain fairly consistent.

Point to Wild Horses


It's Lance Bulen and Tony Palmucci for Baton Rouge taking on Rick Steier and John Levesque for Wild Horses. Bulen and Palmucci run through a rather routine delivery of hard rock/AOR licks with all the passion and feeling of someone tying their shoes. Not that this put them below standards for this style in the early 1990's. Their tones are alright and they try to put some blues rock tinges in there, but it's all rather watered down and they sound rather reluctant about put any edge into the playing. Steier and Levesque play a rather routine sound as well, but the excitement level and the tone is adequate enough. They don't know much about conveying any soul either, but they have a fair handle on pacing and they kept my interest.

Point to Wild Horses

Rhtyhm section

For Baton Rouge it's Scott Bender on bass and drummer Corky McClellan squaring off against Wild Horses' drummer James Kottak and bassist Chris Lester (and as I noted above Jeff Pilson is listed as having played bass as well). If the guitarists had a difficult time standing out then this contest was even tougher. As with most hard rock bands of the times, the rhythm sections here just kind of exist in a rather stale state, chugging along in the backgroundin a state of minimal existance. There really wasn't a whole lot here to distinguish any of these guys from the other. I could just close my eyes and pick at random, but it seems like the drum sound of McClellan stuck with me a little more after the albums were over or maybe I was just amused that his first name war Corky. So...

Point to Baton Rouge


As for originality, Baton Rouge are kind of like a cross between Whitesnake and Bon Jovi only scaled down quite a bit. Wild Horses are more like Hagar era Van Halen at best and at worse sort of like Warrant. So neither band would get their pictures placed in the dictionary under the definition for "originality". Both bands were on divisions of Atlantic so production was decent enough on both, but definitely sharper on Wild Horses.

Point to Wild Horses

Who rocks more?

I save this category for last because I know it will likely be the toughest to figure out because if these bands rocked to begin with then they wouldn't be chosen for Lesser of two evils in the first place. However this one was a little easier to determine than some of the bozo battles in the past. Baton Rouge struggle to put together a solid minute of real rocking music during this whole album. They hurt themselves even more by feeling the need to squeeze in some keyboards that should have had a label that said "please use by 12/31/1987" on them. Wild Horses aren't knocking it out of the park either and they were also kind of dated for 1991, yet they do string together some parts for long enough to be alright in this department.

Point to Wild Horses

Wild Horses win a not too tough competition by the final score of 4-1. I am sure the Baton Rouge fans (all three of them) will now proceed to swarm me with such criticisms as "U suk, Baton Rouge roxx!" or "you're just mean, critical and don't like fun music".

Anyways, I made it through another segment and somehow soldiered on through these CDs all in the name truth, justice and producing a daily blog post.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Billy Idol Giveaway

I might be a little late on this or maybe it's never too late to try and win free stuff. I have a copy of Billy Idol's Idolize Yourself CD and a litho of the album artwork to give away to one lucky person. Just go up to the contact section in the upper lefthand part of my blog and send me an e-mail. Just put "Billy Idol giveaway" in the subject or the body of the e-mail and include an e-mail address where I can contact you if you should win. I'll draw a winner next Wednesday.
Good luck!

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Clash of the album covers

Here are your choices.


Dream Theater-Images and Words



Testament-Souls of black

***So which cover do you prefer?

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Cream Pie-Dirty Job


So far 2008 has been a good year for heavy metal, but not as impressive for hard rock. I have heard some good demos, but not a whole lot of really iinteresting full-length albums. However Italy's Cream Pie seem to have done enough to really earn some notice on their this their debut album. European bands summoning up 1980's Sunset Strip style glam is nothing new these days as bands seem to be popping up constantly. Cream Pie obviously recognized the fact that genuine hooks and a solid rock backbone go a long ways. So while some bands may be throwing a great deal into their image, these guys dug their heels in deep and obviously practiced their chops enough to construct some head bobbing tunes. The sound is overall more of a mix between old and new as I hear acts like Motley Crue, Faster Pussycat and early LA Guns, but also there are glimpses of bands like Crashdiet and Vains of Jenna as well. If you listen hard enough there is a slight punk rock edge lurking down underneath the surface on a few songs. The vocals are raw and maybe a little like Taime Down at times. They are slightly heavier than a number of younger hard rock bands trying to put their feet in the door these days. The sound is a bit more like the grittier glam of the mid-1980's than it is like the fluffier more radio friendly glam of say 1989-1991. There are a few songs that get a little bogged down by repetitive riffs and lack of movement, but the majority of the material plugs along with enough attitude. Cream Pie have many to work up a collection of songs that proves they can hang with the better young hard rock bands of today.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Iced Earth-The Crucible of man: Something wicked part 2


No strangers to line-up changes, Iced Earth now bring back vocalist Matt Barlow to replace Tim Owens. That change alone stirred up some interest in this release and the results are pleasing enough. Nothing fancy here and not a great deal that’s unexpected, but rather it’s another good round of true to form epic style power metal. Admittedly it took me a couple of plays to really warm up to this album as a whole. I think much of it was due to the fact it does take this album a few songs to really get started. The first few tracks are largely pulled along by Barlow’s vocals and the music is decent, but perhaps more subtle than it needed to be. However, the album does pick up and once it catches fire they run with it. The music is all that you would expect with heavy, well defined chugging guitars with Jon Schaffer easily leading the way. The music is far more on the mark than the last couple of efforts plus Barlow just has the personality and chemistry with this band that Tim Owens quite honestly lacked. Here they take their time, focus in and concentrate on what made this band click in the first place and that’s why it works. Now “The Crucible of man” is more of a comfortable kind of album than it is a real barnstormer, but it’s the kind of familiar album that will have me playing it repeatedly for the next few weeks at least.

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Cathedral-The carnival bizarre (Earache Classic re-issue)


I remember being curious about Cathedral when they popped in the early 1990’s. I liked the tone on albums like “The forest of Equilibrium” and “The Ethereal Mirror”, but they always seem to wander around without enough structure to really make them that interesting. Heavy sludge is all and well and good, but Cathedral seem to be drowning in it rather than being able to manipulate their sound. However by “The Carnival Bizarre” they seemed to be realizing the need for some real direction and they kept the same rich tones they had been doing for several years and plugged them into a much tighter format which is a whole lot easier to take. Maybe this wasn’t their original vision, but the flow on this album was steady and interesting. This change in approach was a far cry from the almost unbearable crawl of their earlier releases. Lee Dorian’s vocals were a bit more level and actually more effective here because they compliment the music instead of just kind of floating around. The Sabbath influence was more recognizable here, but Cathedral were making their own path to some extent with a pitch that was very much doom yet different as well. This album sounds as intriguing now as it did 13 years ago and holds up rather nicely. This re-issue also includes a DVD which has “Our God has landed” which includes 8 promo clips and five songs from a show in 1992 of “The gods of Grind tour”.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Blackberry Smoke-New Honky Tonk Bootlegs


Georgia’s southern rock outfit Blackberry Smoke reached back into their roots, leaned back and churned out some whiskey and sweat soaked honky tonk with a whole of grit on these six tracks. They have composed some dirty and sad, twangy ramblings that will immediately soak into you. The best thing about this album and this style is how they pull and twist the absolute maximum ounce of emotion out of every note, beat and word. They now the meaning and the importance of inflection in the vocals and they have truly mastered patience in the music. The approach is from a style oh around the 1970’s and much further back. Yet they don’t stop there as they add their own boot heeled stamp by punch in finger bending southern rock solos that help make the total sound thick as molasses. Blackberry Smoke have poured out an album that just has all these little touches that lead to a very genuine sound that obviously came right from their heart and you easily identify that they love this style and wanted to create a complete package. Indeed they did, this isn’t always my favorite style yet this album is just spot on in so many ways. My favorite track is likely “Livin Hell” (and we get both a clean and dirty version) due to the matter of fact way in which they talk about misery yet you feel even more alive for having heard this song. Definitely an album that’s worth checking out.

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Singapore’s Impiety have been around since the early 1990’s and have put out quite a few releases over the years. This EP contains “Black Vomit” which is a Sarcofago cover plus several originals. What we have is a noisy and dizzy display of death metal with some thrash bursts worming their way in every now and then. There’s a whole lot constant double bass smashing through and some guttural vocals chanting on about Satan and other such topics. The guitar actually tends to get lost in the steady stream of assault on ears and I think that is a slight production shortcoming. The overall is actually somewhat dimensional and actually a bit of a throwback to early-mid 1990’s death metal. The vocals are probably not as aggressive as they were hoping and they are terribly consistent. When they really hit is when slow the pace down some and shoot in some thrash guitar licks. Not only do these parts stand out as the best bits here, but they actually sound more comfortable during these parts then they do during the chaotic whirlwind approach that dominates most of the running time. There are a few moments of interest and a great deal of material you have likely heard before many times over.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Falconer-Among Beggars and thieves

Metal Blade

Falconer return for their sixth album "Among beggars and thieves" which has a theme that revolves around misery, poverty and hard times in their home country of Sweden during medieval times. In my book, power metal is one of the sub genres of metal where it's difficult to stand out these days. That's just because so much has already been done and you get some moderately skilled bands who don't really stand out because they just can't or aren't bringing anything new to the table. Falconer do an admirable job of setting themselves apart and they succeed to an extent. They blend in chants, female accompaniments and a few brief passages of renaissance music that help to give it a folk-metal feel. I am not sure those parts add a huge amount to the overall sounds, but they help to pull in your attention and change the pace which does add some texture to the songs. The other aspect that may set Falconer apart is that they seem to have a stronger grasp in how to make use of their classic metal influences. All too often power metal acts soar off on big streaming melodies forgetting about any real "power" or "metal" in the traditional sense. Falconer have a decent knack for knowing when to fly off on a blazing riff yet they also know when to reel it all back in and crunch out some real metal as well. The result is a more balanced sound than many of their peers and it's also what helps keep them as interesting as they are. Now there are still times where Falconer fall into the trap of playing some rather typical power metal and the theatrical vocals can be a bit much at times yet for the majority of the time they really have this album rolling along in their favor.

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Steel Assassin-War of the eight saints

Sentinel Steel

I was going through various Myspace pages back in the beginning of summer an stumbled upon this band. The band name sounded very familiar then I was enlightened to the fact that they were on Metal Massacre 6 back in 1984. That would be were I knew them from as I heard most of those compilations back in the 1980's. They actually formed as a cover band back in 1980, but broke up in 1985 after failing to secure a record deal. However fast forward two decades and in 2005 the band reformed with a 4/5 original line-up, added a new vocalist and begun work on their debut which would be released 27 years after the band first formed. Talk about better late than never, this is pure denim and leather, hard hitting mid-1980's style metal. Steel Assassin have grinded out a seriously monstrous assault very much influenced by the likes of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Armored Saint and Dio. They even combine some of the influences in the same track and bring some ideas of their own in the form of oftentimes rapid pace changes and twists. The lyrics are of the fantasy/mythology camp and it works just fine here. We get eleven songs with six of them going over six minutes including the closing title track which is just a crushing epic that clocks in at over ten minutes. It's a shame these guys didn't get signed back around 84-85 because I would have loved this back, but I love it now too. Steel Assassin work and maneuver as they create some finely crafted songs that are strong on melodies and backed by a blistering array of hooks and ripping guitars. Not a whole lot of new ideas here, but just a tremendous stampede of killer metal.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Interview with Michale Graves


Vocalist Michale Graves is probably best known as having been the vocalist for the second version of the Misfits. Since then he has played with Gotham Road and has done solo albums. I recently interviewed him to find out more about his past and what he is currently up to.

Hello, what are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a new release called "ILLUSIONS LIVE/VIRRETA PARK". It is a live album with 5 brand new studio recordings that were put together while I was in Romania working on a film I am in called "Perkins 14". I will also be appearing on a new show on FUSE called "The Daily Grind" right before I leave for the fall tour in Sept.

What kind of music are you listening to these days?
I've been listening to old blues...Leadbelly, Robert Johnson....some old 80's rock I got on my ipod, Nirvana, The Police, Living End, Dredg, Bob Dylan.

Let's go back to when you tried out for the Misfits in 1995. How did prepare for the audition and what was the audition like? Did you think you had the gig right away or did you have to wait to find out?
I prepared myself by learning the songs inside and out and just singing the tunes best I could. It was a long while and and even longer process for me to find out that I got the part so to speak. It really wasn't until Halloween night when we played at "Coney Island High"after that I was sort of ...kind of ...sure I was in.

So you went from a small band to being in the Misfits, on a major label and playing big shows in like two years or less. How fast were things going for you at that stage?
Lightening quick.

What was the most difficult thing about adjusting to being in the Misfits?
All of the new relationships. I had only known these guys for maybe a year or so and then all of a sudden we're traveling the world and living on buses and tiny European hotel rooms and hostels. I was the youngest of the bunch...these guys were all 10 years older then me...I was just a kid.

What were some of your favorite moments while in the Misfits?
We accomplished so much favorite moments are the memories of us laughing together. We really did have a lot of fun together.

What was the writing process like with them? Did you get to have much input?
I got to have a lot of input. I wrote a great deal of the compositions that are Misfits songs, that's a fact. It was clear and still is that I am the strongest writer of the bunch without a doubt...but everyone back then would record there ideas and songs on tape and hand them out...the songs that stuck we worked on and kept.


Why did that particular line-up break-up?
Because there was nobody around that was mutually respected and trusted by all four of us...and that had the ability to step in and manage all of the different personalities and dynamics that were happening. Everyone one of us had our grievances and they were all relevant .... no one spoke up when it was time to speak up.
I left because I felt I wasn't being respected and looked after the way I should've been after contributing so much. I was always shuffled to the back. If I didn't like the way things were...I could go I did.
I knew that without me it would come apart and be so totally different that it would prove my point.

Then you went from being in a fairly big band to kind of having to start over again. How difficult was that and did you jump right back into music or did you take some off first?
I got right back on the horse. It was difficult because I was and I did have to start over and couldn't springboard off of my accomplishment and work I did with the Misfits because no credit was ever given to me specifically which it should have been.

Then you were in Gotham Road, how was that band different than being in the Misfits?
For all of the obvious reasons. I was now the oldest guy with the most experience leading a bunch of guys just starting out. It was different, too because of the mind set we had. It was just a bunch of guys making real good music together.

Is your current set list a mix of solo material, Gotham Road and Misfits' songs or what?
It is a mix of all of material from my entire career

Under the "Influences" section of your Myspace page you have a quote from "Some anonymous fool out there". The quote is too long to write here, but it's criticizing you. Where was this originally posted and why do you have it on your Myspace page?
I think someone sent that to me or posted it somewhere. I put it up because it was just such a fine example of the disdain some people have for me and it made all of us that work here with me laugh. Its pretty funny, I think.

Which of your post-Misfits albums are you most proud of and why?
I'm proud of all of them equally for different reasons. Each one of them has such an amazing story behind them and took such effort from so many people...I am proud of all of them.

What would be your advice to young people just getting into the music business?
Learn your craft. Learn how to do it yourself. Learn how the music business was, and is now, and how and why it is changing. Do something that is yours and no one elses...contribute to the world somehow through your efforts, educate yourself or learn how to do something .....that you like to do..... that will help you pay your bills. Practice, practice, practice.

What have you yet to accomplish in your music career that you hope to achieve at some point?
I would like to win a Grammy someday.

Is there anything else that you would like to say about your music or anything else?
I wrote some music on my last album with Damien Echols who is a death row inmate in Arkansas, He is one of the West Memphis Three in jail for crimes they did not and could not have committed. In September these guys are going back to court for the last is Damien's last appeal for his life. Please go to and find out more about this case and why its important and relevant to our generation and how you can get involved. Free The West Memphis Three!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

New songs from Villain


I checked out and wrote about some demo tracks by South Carolina's Villain very early this year.

Well, they have some new songs and I went over and checked them out at the band's Myspace page. I must say that they have made great progress judging by the new songs. Villain crank out very much a mid-80's hard rock/metal sound with lots of squealing guitars and a real sharp edge. I hear some Motley Crue, early Ozzy, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot and a few others. The guitar is still the best part of the band with a definite Randy Rhoads influence , but I can hear the rhythm section much more this time around and they are solid enough. The vocals are far more consistent in both skill and sound quality plus I now get a better sense that everyone in the band is on the same page musically. Perhaps the sound would benefit from a little more energy from the vocals, but that may just come in time with more experience. Their previous songs sounded like a band still trying to get things together and figure out a direction. Now they sound like they have the line-up and direction they need and they cranked out some solid demo tracks that show their progress. So hop over an check them out.


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Star Wars-The Clone Wars soundtrack



This CD made me remember the days back in the early 1980's when I was just getting into music and didn't have the funds to purchase much of anything. Back then my prime source for music was the public library because I didn't drive yet, my parents went there and of course it was free to check items out. Of course I repeatedly checked out the few hard rock releases they had from the likes of Def Leppard, KISS, AC/DC and a few others. However I was a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy as well so I grabbed up various movie soundtracks including those from Star Trek, James Bond, Indiana Jones and Star Wars films. So I remember sitting back on my bed listening to these soundtracks and oftentimes closing my eyes and letting the images of various characters come into my as they were summoned from the various tones of each selection. I can't say that I have listened to a huge amount of soundtracks over the years, but I have watched many movies. The first Star Wars film really set the standard made an impact as far as soundtracks go because it contained a defining theme where we only have to hear a few notes and images of huge spaceships and immense laser battles fill your mind's eye. John Williams certainly knew what he was doing while creating music that was going to be one of a handful movies themes that have an instant and long lasting impact. So I think that right away a certain standard was set for all films sailing under the Star Wars banner. At this point we get long time die-hard fans, those under the spell of nostalgia and a whole younger generation of Star Wars fans all having various level of interest in the new film. The Clone Wars soundtrack contains 32 entries and like most soundtracks there are high points and there are fillers. The music was composed and conducted by Kevin Kliner and performed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. There are definite moments where I can close my eyes and try to visualize what activities might be taking place and there are others that are a bit more tedious to endure. The tracks contained range from dazzling down to bland. For the most part it's decent, but it certainly has it's share of mediocre tracks that just kind of take up time and space. Not something I could listen to at any given time, but possibly a disc that would stick in when I wanted some moderately active background music.

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Wild Machine


Wild Machine hail from Athens, Greece and originally formed way back in 2000 as War Machine (taken from the KISS song of the same name). They went through various line-up changes and eventually a name change as well. This three track demo by this hard rock/glam outfit was recorded live in the studio. My initial impression is that sounds like late 70’s AC/DC as funneled through 80’s acts like Krokus, Motley Crue, Guns and Roses with maybe a dash of early Skid Row tossed in for good measure. The music is basic, but revolves around strong grooves and a real sense that the band is in the driver’s seat. Yes, I have heard this style many times before yet where Wild Machine really excels is in how they take charge of the pace and twist it to their strengths. Many bands playing this same of music just charge forth, peak early and then clock in three and a half or so minutes and stop. Wild Machine head off in that direction, but instead of falling into being repetitive they actually even get more interesting several minutes in as they add as they change up the pace or save their most interesting guitar parts towards the end. The rip roaring solos and strong push at the end of each song gave me the sense that they had a lot of ideas and just really knew keep the songs pounding and keep their pulse going strong to the finish. The vocals were rough and gritty which was a perfect union for the music. Really the only problem I had with this demo was the production on the vocals. I had to go jump through three CD players and twist and flick numerous switches to get to a point where I could really hear the vocals fairly well. That’s a shame because they are very much a big part of this band’s appeal. Still they took rather standard ideas and beefed them up with a commendable execution and a nice degree of style.

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What's coming up?

It's been a fairly average week and I have been plugging away at trying to keep up with reviews and everything. Here is what I hope to have out this week.

Reviews of...
Wild Machine-demo
Daylight Dies-Lost to the living
Steel Assassin-War of the eight saints
Blackberry Smoke-New Honky Tonk Bootlegs
Iced Earth-The crucible of man
Cream Pie-Dirty Job
Star Wars-The Clone Wars soundtrack (okay, it's not metal, but I received a copy so I am reviewing it)

Interview with...
Michale Graves
***This is the only interview I currently have in, but I have several out so I'll post another if one comes in this week.

Clash of the album covers

***Have a great week.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Year end project starts now

For the fourth year in a row I will be doing my top ten hard rock/metal albums of twenty years ago which means 1988. Here is the process...

August-I pick 20-25 releases from 1988 that I think have a chance of making my top ten.

August to October-I listen to all the CDs and narrow them down to 10.

November-I work out the rankings as to where each album places in the top ten.

December-On December 1st I reveal number 10 and then continue doing the countdown at a pace of one a day until number one is revealed on December 10th. Immediately after that I also do awards for the top five album covers, bottom five albums covers, most improved band and of course the Golden Turd Award. If you are not familiar with the Golden Turd then just wait until December because I always give a brief explanation before I award this great honor to a band.

Why do I do this project? It allows me to re-examine older albums and I always find an album or two that I underrated and some that I overrated plus it's fun.

So I have already started picking CDs and listening to a few as well. I need to start early because also in December I am going to do my awards for 2008 which I will expand to a top 25 albums because I have heard so much and I will do top five for re-releases and a top five demos. So let me know if you have any questions or suggestions and I hope you will enjoy the lists once December rolls around.

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This was actually recorded back in 2001-2002, but the writing credits extend all the way back to the late 1980’s. So we what we have here is Christian hard rock/metal that surprised me with the variety of sounds that it contained. The opener “Wake up” is a mid 80’s melodic hard rock with a strong rhythm section and the mildly rough vocals. Next up was “The sun will shine again” which came across some kind of stale pop/rock that might have jammed up the airwaves back in the late 1970’s, but it’s really the only weak track on the CD. After that it’s just a big roller coaster of different influences as we get about three tracks that sound like Poison, one kind of sounds like Twisted Sister, a couple that come near a British Steel-era Judas Priest sound plus one that musically reminded me of a cross between early Pentagram and mid-70’s Alice Cooper and more. I suppose the fact that the writing credits span a time period of 15 years has much to do with the wide variety of sound swirling around on this disc. I think that the strongest part of this disc was the rhythm section of bassist Anne Kachline and drummer Bob Kachline as they just kept solid pounding beats going and remained fairly consistent throughout. The guitars of Bill Hunt are solid and competent enough with a rich tone despite some slightly low production on a several tracks. Hunt’s vocals are mostly on track with a fair amount of range yet he certainly sounds better on the heavier tracks. The biggest shortcoming to me was that on several occasions the lyrics seem a bit jammed in like they are trying a bit too hard to squeeze everything in and the result is serious lack of any kind of flow. Still this is an album was a bit like grab bag because you never quite knew what was coming next because of the mix of sounds and largely the band handles most of the songs just fine.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reflection-When shadows fall

Cruz Del Sur

I hate it when I can't remember something, but usually there is a reason for my momentary lapses in memory such as being preoccupied or tired. Now what does my lack of memory have to do with this album or any album? Well, I set out to review this album by Greece's Reflection days ago and ended up listening to the whole disc four times. I wish I could say that it was because this album was so riveting that it pulled me back to it repeatedly, but that unfortunately was not the case. I would listen to the disc and then a little while later go to set fingers to keyboard and I would draw a blank. It was metal, I remembered that yet I just couldn't summon up enough of what went on to write a review. So by the fourth time I concentrated and I realized that the reason I couldn't recall much it's a rather forgettable album. I don't mean it's totally bad, but rather that it's all kind of plain and just lacking enough character or hooks to really make any impression. The music is kind of a cross between early progressive metal like Queensryche and Fates Warning and a little bit of 80's classic metal. The guitar tone is fine, but it's kind of drawn out and I kind of sit there with my mind starting to wonder off and I hoped they get to the point or any point soon. Sometimes they would get somewhere, but oftentimes it's just kind of there. Some powerful vocals may have been able to pull them out of the pit, but the vocals are kind of overly theatrical with mediocre range and more ham than range. I get a sense that Reflection had big ideas about constructing some grand epic tracks yet they just didn't have the skills to pull it off. So we get a rather hollow sounding release that takes a great deal of effort to make it through. Quite honestly in the end it certainly wasn't worth the effort either.

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