Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Architect-Ghost of the salt water machines

Black Market


I like spicy foods and I also occasionally enjoy adding more hot sauce to make foods even spicier. The thing is that the food needs to be good for the sauce to enhance the existing flavor. If the dish isn't that good to begin with then adding hot sauce just seems it trying to cover up something. What does all this food nonsense have to do with Architect? Well it applies to Arcitect's sophomore effort. There are definite moments where it sounds like the music is going to take off as they hit upon some brief, but effective swirls of stoner rock and hardcore. However they tend to just tantalize us with these sounds because all too quickly the music become loud, but mundane. Then they wheel out some hardcore vocals that growling, relentless and unfortunately lacking in spirit. Architect seem to be firm believers in the idea that mounds of volume make up for any other shortcomings. Of course all this approach is severely limit what this band can do. It's a shame because down below the surface I could catch glimpses of what this band was capable of. The ability is there, but they seemed so intent on the idea of playing a very limited brand of hardcore. So they push out their chests, suppress their ideas and scream and storm their way to the end of the song. The result is an album full of missed opportunities and a headache for me after sitting through it.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mortifier-Underground Noise




Hailing from Canton, Ohio Mortifier are yet another young group trying to revive old-style thrash metal. It seems like this genre is more and more crowded each month. That's great if you are a fan. However, just like twenty years ago once the thrash market got flooded it's difficult for a band to get noticed when many of them sounder very similar. So what we have on this offering are eight tracks all largely founded in the earlier years of thrash say around 84-86. I hear Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, early Metallica and even "Killing is my business" era Megadeth. It took a few songs for them to really warm up as both the opener "Mountain killings" and the second track "Dead by dawn" seem to lack firepower. The heaviness is sort of there, but everthing is more routnine than I was hoping for. Although at least part of this may be a production shortcoming. The guitar is a little low in the mix at times. Particularly when the drums pick up the guitar seems to fade into the background more than it needs to. However the band pick up the pace considerably on "Black Plague" and even more so on "Viking Rampage". They settle in and the energy level goes up a notch. Plus they take a few chances and mix up the pace. On some the later songs the guitar has a raw, primal sound that reminds some of demos from the mid-80's. I feel like the potential is there and they certainly got better as the album went along. However there is no doubt they could be a little tighter at times and taking some more risks would help. They differ some from other bands coming up because the sound is a less polished and their influences vary a little more, but they need to keep working at it to really leave the kind of impression I am sure they want to make.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Clash of the album covers

Since this will be the last Clash of 2008 I figured it would be good to throw out two covers from this years. So it is...



The Sword-Gods of the earth

***Which cover do you prefer?

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

What's coming up?

Well, the New Year is coming this week. I hope to have these topics out.

Reviews of..
Architect-Ghost of the salt water machines
Mortifier-Underground Noise
Weird Owl-Ever the silver cord be loosed
plus one more.

Interview with Marc Johnson formerly of Executioner
and a Clash of the album covers

Have a great week!

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Top 5 worst albums of 2008

This year was a good one for music, but there were a few clunkers as well.

5)Uli Jon Roth-Under a dark sky
A huge dose of self-indulgent pulp.

4)Dragonforce-Ultra Beatdown
This band just seems to be getting worse with each album.

3)Judas Priest-Nostradamus
A bad concept, bad music and definitely some bad writing. It's a shame how far the once Priest have fallen.

2)Bret Michaels-Rock my world
If this is the best he can do then he needs to stick to reality shows.

This album was forced and painfully dull.

That's going to wrap up for my 2008 awards.

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Top albums of 2008 links

I have been doing my top albums of 2008 all week. If you missed some then scroll down and check them. Here are some other sites that are posting their top albums of 2008 lists this weekend. So check them out too.

Hard Rock Hideout --

Bring Back Glam --

Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense --

All Metal Resource --

Imagine Echoes --

Metal Excess --

The Ripple Effect --

Rock Of Ages --

Layla's Classic Rock --

Hair Metal Mansion --

The Metal Minute --

Heavy Metal Addiction --

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Numbers 5-1

My top 25 albums of 2008 wraps up with the final five.

5) Soilent Green-Inevitable Collapse In The Presence Of Conviction
Certainly the album that grew on me the most in 2008.

4)Ancestors-Neptune with fire
Two long tracks packed with huge slices of sludge and killer jams.

3)The Devil and the sea-Heart vs. spine
Just crazy chaos flying everywhere.

2)Big Elf-Cheat the gallows
Spectacular blend of various 70's influences resulted in one of the most interesting albums of the year.

1)Byzantine-Oblivion Beckons
Byzantine were pushing the boundries of their genre with some of the most spectaular metal in some time. It's a shame that they broke up just as they were coming into their own.

The worst five albums of 2008 up next.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Numbers 10-6

My top 25 albums of 2008 continues.

10)Leaded Fuel-Inhale and get pale
Really solid glam outing with a slight punk rock edge.

9)Randy Piper's Animal-Virus
Former WASP guitarist really hits with this awesome slab of melodic metal.

8)Enforcer-Into the night
Outstanding effort that sound like early thrash.

7)Gypsy Pistoleros-Para Siempre
Okay, it is the first album shifted around and with some new tracks, but it was new enough that is deserved to be on this list. Now if the band can just keep a steady line-up then they are poised to go somewhere.

6)The Sword-Gods of the earth
The Sword's sophomore effort saw them really coming into their own.

Numbers 5-1 coming up next.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Numbers 15-11

My countdown of the top 25 albums of 2008 continues.

15)Reino Ermitano-Rituales Interiores
Dark and stormy doom.
(Scroll down about half way for the review)

14)Bonded by blood-Feed the beast
Retro-thrash band with a heavy sound.

13)Shannon-Angel in disguise

Very tight 80's style hard rock.


Just another good Motorhead album.

11)Ogre-Plague of the planet
One song and it's around 37 minutes of face-melting stoner rock.

Numbers 10-6 up next.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Numbers 20-16

The countdown of the best albums of 2008 continues.

20)War of ages-Arise and conquer
Metalcore isn't always my thing, but these guys are one of the best that are doing that style.

Really thick and heavy outing that came out lat in the year.

18)The Rotted-Get dead or die trying
This one grew on me, but it's a killer.

Amazing power metal from this long running outfit.

16)Alice Cooper-Along came a spider

Alice took his old sound and brought it into this decade.

Numbers 15-11 will be out Wednesday.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Honorable mentions and 25-21

I had to award honorable mentions for two bands who just missed the cut. So here they are.

Exmortus-In hatreds flame
Very cool blend of old thrash and death metal with some progressive touches.

Cowboy Prostitutes-Swingin' at the fences
They were one good rockin' song away from making my top 25.

Now numbers 25-21 of my countdown of the top 25 albums of 2008. I put a link if it's one that I had reviewed during the year. I normally only review items that I get promos for. If I don't have a review for it then I'll just write a few words.

25)Black Rain-License to thrill
Catchy glam from France.

24)Guns -n- Roses-Chinese Democracy
A pleasant surprise for sure. Not everything worked, but most did and Axl brought a lot of ideas to the table.

23)Dead Man-Euphoria
Likea folk band playing early metal.

Classic style doom sure to suck you into their black pool.

Journey's best album in 25 years. Not a lot they hadn't done before, but just a solid AOR/hard rock album.

Numbers 20-16 coming on Tuesday.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Top ten re-issues of 2008

This list includes re-issues, re-releases and first time to CD releases. It was going to be just a top five, but I was having trouble narrowing it down so I expanded it to be a top ten list. Here they are in order with links to my reviews.


2)Artillery-By Inheritance

3)Trashcan Darlings-Real Fucking make-up

4)Defiance-Beyond Recognition

5)Held Under-Dying Breed

6)Fates Warning-Perfect Symmetry



9)Vyper-Prepared to strike

10)TKO-In your face

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Top Five Demos of 2008

I heard a number of demos this year and most were above average and in fact it was a little tough to narrow it down, but I did. So here are my top five in order with links to my reviews.

1)Damaged Dolls- demo

2)Vamps-n-Gypsies-Wine stains and smashed glass

3)HMP-The undead hour

4)Skull Hammer-Fear the truth

5)Danger-First Touch

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Kreator-Hordes of chaos


It doesn't seem that long ago that Kreator were ruling the thrash scene, but has gone by quickly They really tore up the scene from the mid-80's until the very early 90's, but have been hit and miss since then. Now we get their latest offering and it's been almost four years since their last release. That is a fairly long time and during that time span a number if younger thrash bands have emerged trying. These youthful acts seem bent on replicating the sound 80's thrash acts like Slayer, Testament, Anthrax and of course Kreator. Many of those acts do not add to the sound as much as they do just take the basics and charge ahead. What does this have to do with a proven veteran act like Kreator at this point? My impression of much of "Hordes of chaos" is that they went back in time to point before their most recent albums and they tried to capture a more basic, forward approach. Was it done to keep up with the wave of young thrash bands? I have no idea, but several songs on this album sound like the band focused more on their thrash roots. Granted they are obviously still capable of blowing away bands who are much younger than they are. Kreator had grown over the years as song writers and they still attempt and succeed at some more complex songs here. Still I could not shake the feeling on several tracks on this album that they play fast and simple just to prove they could keep up. That is not a huge shortcoming, but this band is capable of so much more. The other real sticking point for me was that the album feels front-heavy with many of the faster, more aggressive tracks coming in the first half and most of the mid-tempo songs finishing out the second half of the album. A powerful album for sure, but I think that they are capable of doing much more.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

What's coming up?


Let's see I hope to have that Kreator review out on Saturday. Then next week will be dedicated to my 2008 end of year awards. I will have the top 5 demos list and top 10 re-issues on Sunday. Then from Monday through Friday I will counting down my top 25 albums of 2008 at a rate of 5 per day. Then Saturday I will round out the week with the 5 worst albums of 2008. I might post a few album reviews as well if I get time, but I won't commit to any in case I don't get time. So if you get a break in your last minute shopping or need a breather from the holiday hoopla then pop by here and see my favorite albums of the year.

In the New Year I will continue reviewing new CDs as I get them and I will resume doing interviews as best I can. Clash of the album covers will continue as an almost weekly feature. I will attempt to do Lesser of two evils once a month. Some of the bands that I have in mind for that feature in 2009 include Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Steve Stevens, George Lynch, Dio, Twisted Sister, Dirty Looks, White Sister, Whitesnake, White Lion, Roxx Gang, Roxy Blue, Damn Yankees, Contraband, Tangier, Tyketto, AC/DC, Van Halen and more. That's right, you put out a sub-par album and I'll write about it.

I may also attempt a monthly feature where I pick my favorite album by a veteran band and tell why it's my favorite and maybe toss in a story about when I first heard it and then I will you ask what your favorite album by that band is. The feature will be called "Pick of the litter".

***Have a great week!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Interview with Little Caesar


Little Caesar arrived on the scene in Los Angeles in 1987. They first appeared on Metal Blade's “Street Survivors” compilation. The band then released a four song EP titled “Name Your Poison” (produced by Joe Hardy of ZZ Top fame), which subsequently led to a deal with Geffen records. Little Caesar’s self-titled 1990 Geffen debut was produced by Bob Rock. The band is back together again and I recently got to interview Loren Molinare (Guitar+Vocals), Apache (Guitars) and Tom Morris (Drums).

Hello, so what are you currently working up to or working on?

We are in the early 1st phase of recording the new LC album.

How and when did you guys first form?

The band got together in LA in 1987, through mutual drug dealers.

You were on a compilation on Metal Blade called “Street Survivors” back in 1989 along with Bang Tango, Black Cherry and others. Your EP came out around this time, were you already in negotiations with Geffen at this time or were you ever offered a long term deal from Restless or Metal Blade?

We were already in talks with Geffen when we did the Metalblade EP.

How did you come to get signed by Geffen records? Did any other labels make you offers?

All the labels were interested but we felt Geffen was the best label.


What was it like working with Bob Rock on your debut?

It was great till Motley Crue went NO. 1 while we were in the studio with him and all of a sudden it went from Bob making our record to us making his record...with the labels approval.....much to our disdain.

Didn’t you have to compromise your sound some on that album? Were you satisfied with how the album turned out?

We wanted to make a record that consisted of 16 tracks and it would up on 128 tracks....sort of we wanted to make"Back in Black" and we wound up making "Bat Out Of Hell"

What was your relationship with Geffen like during this time? Wasn’t their some change in management some time after your debut was released?

Lets give you short history:
1) We signed with Geffen and we get shifted over to the new launch of DGC records with Marko Babinaue at the helm.
2) 3 weeks into our release David Geffen sells the label to Matshushita and while our record is just released our records are sitting in WEA's warehouses and the distribution gets switched to BMG. We are on MTV heavy rotation and you can't find our records in the stores.
3) 3 weeks later Marko gets fired for masturbating ON his secretary and he gets there's no one at the helm. He gets bought out for millions...his secretary gets bought out for millions, and we get dicked.
4) One month later our manager Jimmy Iovine starts Interscope records and tells David Geffen he will not be using his publishing wing of Geffen or using his distribution and Geffen strongly implies that we will be caught in the crossfire if we don't change management....conflict of interest reasons of course.
5) Geffen hires a new head of marketing, Robert Smith, who decides that all 300 acts on the label need to be peared down and the cash faucet is being turned there we were....we sold 150,000 copies despite the drama yet that didn't meet with the expected hype. We are $100,000,000.00 in the hole with no label manager, no artist manager and they decide it's best to move on to another record, shelve the first and go into denial.


When and why did Little Caesar break up?

We were so beat up at that point , the second record was an exercise in bitterness and frustration. When our option expired, several labels said they wanted to pick us up, but David Geffen would not allow a band that failed on his label to potentially succeed on another. So he decided to keep Ron Young on a key man clause so that the band couldn't reform on another label....similar to the fights with Neil Young for years. David Geffen actually said "I collect artists like I collect art and will do with them what I please".

You reformed back in 2002. How did that come about?

We all love each other and missed making music's that simple.


What has the response to your band and your shows since you reformed?

The response has been great...the band is better now because we play simply for the pleasure of making music with all the other bullshit removed from the equation.

What have been some of your favorite shows that you have played?

The Sturgis 50th anniversary, opening for Iggy Pop at the Scream in LA....and playing to a packed house at The Shamrock....with all of the 75 people it held, every couple of weeks.

What do you think about the hard rock metal scene these days? Is it better, worse or about the same as it was say twenty years ago?

We stopped listening to hard rock music after 1976 so we have no idea what they are even calling hard rock these days....but we appreciate that you call it hard rock ...we were never metal.....and we never used hairspray....on the Sunset Strip that was considered sacrilegious and blasphemous....let alone having facial hair.

What advice would you give to a young band just starting out?
Have good time all the time and be your own label on the internet...a gift we never had the chance to engage in.

What kind of music are you listening to these days?

Lets just say that it was all issued on vinyl originally.Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you picked them.

Aerosmith or Alice Cooper:
Aerosmith...way bluesier and it had one of the greatest guitar hero/frontman pairs ever.
Little Caesar formed back in the

Tom and Loren and Apache

Circus of power or The Four Horsemen:
Considering Ron fronted the Four Horsemen for a tour of Canada after Frank was in a terminal coma, we would have to pick them....just for sentimental reasons.

The Cult or Guns and Roses:
G-n-R is way deeper of an act than the Cult

We bow to the alter that is Bon Scott every day.

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

No, but thank you for asking insightful questions.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Willie Basse-The Money Grind

New Empire Media

Bassist/vocalist Willie Basse is perhaps best known for his work in LA based Black Sheep back in the 1980's. The group at times included the likes of Slash, Paul Gilbert, James Kottak and Randy Castillo. That's an impressive alumni list as all of those members went on to bigger acts at some point. This is Basse's first solo release in eight long years. This release certainly focuses on a style of metal from two decades ago as at least half of "The Money Grind" could very well have been done around 1986. The music oftentimes reminds me of KISS, Dokken, Van Halen, Britny Fox and others. His vocals are hit and miss as he handles the mid-tempo parts well, but he sounds way off key when he tries to extend his range. The music is generally decent with heavy enough music and some solid production work, but there isn't much going on here that wasn't done twenty years ago. I suppose that it's fine for fans of this style, but it's certainly nothing special. I think that I was expecting more after an eight year wait and from such a veteran of the genre. There are also several tracks that really lack focus because it's almost like the band begins okay for a minute or so and then they just ramble on. The album would have been far more concise had they cut it from 14 tracks down to 10. That would have taken away the filler tracks and made it much tighter album.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Clash of the album covers

Here you go, it is...

Dio-Lock up the wolves


Exciter-Long live the loud

***So which cover do you prefer?


Mighty High-Drug City


I remember as a teenager being careful with the volume level on my stereo as I listened to something like "Sweet leaf". I was afraid my mom would freak if she caught me listening to it. My mother was one of those people that thought the lyrics of rock music would lead to no good and I would be on the downward spiral to some sort of hell. Maybe she was right, but bands are still singing about the same topics that they have combing over for the last few decades. Obviously this band isn't shy about their topics as the moniker and album title broadcast that this will be ode to drugs. It's all fun though as Mighty High take us on a spirited ride through their hazy, smoke-covered little world. They remind me of mid-late 1980's crossover similar to post 1986 Gang Green mixed with some early 70's classic rock. I think the cover and band name had me expecting them to be more like stoner rock. They are not though because instead of laying back and taking it slow they plow forth with a relentless assault. So this band forgoes any gloss as carve out jagged chunks of music mixing it metal, punk and more. It's an enjoyable romp though because Mighty High never get bogged down in trying to do or be too much. They have an agenda and they get in and get out while giving just enough to have us hooked. Not an album that I could listen to all the time because it's nothing do, but it's a fine effort that I could certainly play on occasion.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Eighteen Wheels Burning-tweak'd out, strung up & redlined

Meteor City

Eighteen Wheels Burning are a power trio who take the fuzzed out sounds of the late 60's-early 70's and drag them into the present. Their music is based more around big swirling grooves than heaviness although there is enough of both to go around. Instead of hitting hard from the get go these guys tend to make their approach more of a slow and steady push. They know how to bring the jams though as they often work themselves into a good frenzy of sounds in the middle of a song. The drums have an under produced quality to them like they were recorded live in a basement. The other instruments have a similar tone and the bass really gets it's due in the production as well because you can hear and oftentimes even feel each note. I would say the influences include but are no limited to Hendrix, Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Grand Funk Railroad and early KISS. That's the good about the band and there is a lot to like, but I wasn't exactly doing cartwheels over the music or at least not the whole time. They know rip it up plus the tone of their music is very cool. Still I felt that there are a number of occasions where the flow of their music is stiff and doesn't move as easily as they would like it to. There are parts of every song that I like, but they produce a number of average and tedious passages as well. There are some moments where they just shred. Yet in between those bursts of fire are also times where the music can be dull and just meanders around waiting for some sparkle to come and save the song. An above average album for sure, but not one consistent enough to put on my "A" list.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Artillery-By Inheritance

Metal Mind

In 1990 Denmark's Artillery released their third album. It is a departure from both “Fear of Tomorrow” and “Terror Squad”, but it succeeds in being their most ambitious effort to date. The previous two albums were awesome displays of bludgeoning, straight forward thrash. However, it had been three years since Terror Squad and Artillery were ready to spread out and take a few chances. They became a much more technical band on this release.The album begins with the 7:00 From Tashkent an introduction with Middle-Eastern influences. Right away this let's us know that the band had made some changes in their approach. Next up is "Khomaniac" which has a long build-up, but then tears into a rapid fire approach. "Beneath the clay (R.I.P) " emerges with a barrage of drums and then cuts and swerves through a storm of riffs and raging vocals. By this point it's obvious that this is Artillery only now they were bringing even more to the tables. The title track and "Bombfood" follow a similar pattern as Artillery start stacking up the layers of guitars and just surge forward with a constant assault of heaviness. My favorite track might by the closer "Back in the trash" because it contains enough riffs for three good songs. They know how to structure the song though and get the most out of each note. The only song I couldn't get into is their cover of Nazareth's " Razamanaz". It's an okay cover, but it's the second to last track and breaks up the feel of the album. The album had a great flow going and this cover songs really seemed out of place. This re-issue also has six bonus tracks including some demo tracks. Former Metallice producer Flemming Rasmussen produced it and fortunately the treatment is closer to "Master of puppets" than it is to his work on "...And justice for all". "By Inheritance" is just a fantastic album that much like this band was just unfairly overlooked. Artillery knew how to created some of the best thrash of it's time plus they actually progressed over the course of three albums. Definitely a must buy for thrash fans because you will not be disappointed.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's coming up?


My kids went and saw Santa this week. My son asked for Super Heroes and my daughter asked for Scooby Doo figures. Well, they are both in luck and Christmas is drawing near. Here is what I hope to have out this week.

Reviews of...
Artillery-By Inheritance (re-issue)
Kreator-Hordes of chaos
Mighty High-Drug City
Eighteen Wheels Burning-Tweak'd out, strung up and redlined
Willie Basse-The money grind
and maybe one more

Interview with Little Caesar

Clash of the album covers

***Have a great week!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Hades-Bootlegged in Boston, 1988

Cruz Del Sur

This is DVD contains a rather raw recording of Hades playing nine tracks live twenty years ago. The bootlegged part of the title is no lie as the sound and picture quality are at best rather crude. We are treated to the show as filmed by someone who close to the stage, but off to the left and with a bit of an orange haze hanging around the picture for most of the show. Diehard fans are going to love it because it captures the band playing at their peak. Hades played a style of metal that was caught between classic metal like Maiden and the popular thrash of the times. They could play, but for me they really just decent at best. The talent was evident, but Hades just came across as a band who would have benefit ted from letting loose more often. They were one of those bands who were kind of on the brink of being really good, but they didn't push enough. Still this show back to a time when metal like this was still thriving as the band and the audience are feeding off of one another. Of course being a bootleg it's the view the whole time which gets a little old because I kept wanting to be able to see the band from the front, but that wasn't going to happen. The disc also includes a documentary that was far more interesting to me than the concert. They go back to 1978 when the band originated and work their way trough time telling of the significant events in their history. The tale they weave is one of a band who had high hopes for success, but eventually they gave up when the realization hit them that is going to more difficult than they thought. The band played various reunion shows in the 90's and then a reformed for a series of albums. Band members have also been in various other projects over the years. This package is much more for the very dedicated fans only.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Defiance-Beyond Recognition


Metal Mind


By 1992 the thrash scene like many other genres of metal and hard rock was falling out of favor. That didn't stop Defiance though as they were actually getting better on this their third album. On their first two releases Defiance were very much like fellow Bay area thrashers Testament only maybe an album behind them style wise. However while many other bands of this style were slowing down, Defiance actually became heavier and faster as they went along. Unfortunately the fan base for this type of music was slimming down so not as not people were witnessing the fairly impressive transformation that Defiance made over the course of just a few years. The lyrics were the same old thing, but the playing had gotten tighter as they worked on more pace changes. The sense of control that the band administer to the tracks on this album is certainly worth noting. Unlike a number of their peers, Defiance were not out to become more accessible. They knew the brand of metal they wanted to play and they just kept chipping away at it and growing stronger at their craft. Their music is the same type of thrash that was so big say around 87-90. It still worked in 1992 because their songwriting had grown leaps and bounds from their 1989 debut "Menace to society". This re-issue includes seven bonus tracks with some live songs and some demos. Once again another impressive package from the kind people at Metal Mind who know to add on the extras. So the third release from Defiance is definitely worth getting for fans of old school thrash.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Maxine Petrucci-Don't hate me


Former Madam X guitarist handles all guitars, bass and vocals on this solo album. My favorite part of Madam X's 1984 release "We reserve the right" were Maxine's guitar parts. However I never shook the feeling that the whole Madam X was held back somehow. There were songs where they begin to bust loose, but then everything just became very restrained and I don't think they ever pushed for their full potential. Years later it seems that Maxine is getting a chance to open up and play the style that she really wanted to. The style here is as much metal as it is hard rock which puts it a notch past Madam X on the heaviness scale. The opener "Arithmetac" flies on in fine fashion with a solid driving riff. This track might be the one that reminds me the most of Madam X musically. "Check me out" has an even stronger groove and a catchy chorus. It has more of a pop edge to the vocals, but it flows along well. "Don't hate me", "Razzed" and "My QT" are some of the heavier songs on the album as all rely on some killer riffs flying off of Maxine's fingers. The most surprising song on the album is "Generation Me" with it's almost punk rock approach and attitude. Still there is enough punch and fire to it that it turns out to be one of the best tracks on the disc. Maxine's vocals are raw, but they suit the music well enough. The majority of the material is rooted in hard rock from two decades ago. However the energy behind the songs keeps it fresh enough. Listening to this album had me thinking that's a bit of a shame that Maxine didn't get more of a chance back in the 80's. However at least we are getting to hear her now playing in full force.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Clash of the album covers

Here is a match-up of two glam bands. It's.....

Motley Crue-Shout at the devil


Poison-Look what the cat dragged in

***So which cover do you prefer?

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Cirkus-Let the madness begin


Looking at the cover of this CD had me believing they were going to be a glam band of the 1980's variety. Sweden's Cirkus certainly took a few lessons from that sound, but they are far more influenced by 1970's rock and hard rock. Actually it took a few songs for me to warm up to them because they start out sounding jumbled and messy. By "Hard headed woman" they seem to settle in and pull everything together. Cirkus subscribe to a raw guitar sound that adds some much needed to texture to their fairly basic approach. They bring in a variety of influences including T.Rex, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper and maybe even BTO as the push and stomp their way through. I enjoy the guitar tone and see some potential here for certain, but even after repeated plays I still felt cold towards this album. The vocals are going through the steps, but they lack depth and that certain soul that this type of music demands. The music fares much better and the band knows to create some powerful grooves, but they don't always know how to sustain them. On several occasions they launch into a song with some real promise, but then fail to do enough to keep the ball rolling. It was almost like they shot their load early and then tried to tromp through hoping to just skim on to the end. There were just too many moments where the peak came too soon and they just didn't have enough going on to maintain my interest. I liked some of their ideas, but couldn't shake the feeling that could have really benefited from spending more time on pulling together their ideas. So in the end this Cirkus wasn't as fun as the big top variety and they far too restrained to release any kind of madness. Maybe next time though.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Adrenicide-Natural Born Thrashers


I am sure that at one time or another that almost everyone thinks about what it would be like to have a time machine. If there was such a device then some people would love to visit the past and others would be content to stay there. Adrenacide might fall into that second group because they obviously hold some bands from about 1985-1989 up on a pedestal. Adrenacide wear their influences on their sleeves and actually they even try to look like they popped right out 1987. The main influence I hear is DRI around the time of "Four of a kind" and "Thrashzone". I also hear some Anthrax and Nuclear Assault in there as well. The lyrics include songs about drinking, drugs, violence and other topics that have been many times over. The positives here would be that they bring in some hardcore touches and that sets them apart from many retro-thrash bands. I also enjoyed the slightly under produced sound which I think gave their music more of an underground feel. The downside is there isn't much here to recommend to fans who heard this type of music twenty years ago. It took me less than 30 seconds into almost every song on this CD to know exactly what they were going to do during the whole song. They rarely varied from that format and instead just plunked along like they had something to give. Unfortunately the style they are playing wasn't even that spectacular when it was in it's "prime". It's not that heavy, it's not that fast and the lyrics certainly don't help elevate the album either. I am a long time thrash fan, but Adrenacide just remind me of a band who know the basic skills and that's about it. It's find to love a style from the past, but when you don't add any of your own ideas then it's just like you are spinning your wheels.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bible of the devil-Freedom Metal

Cruz Del Sur/ The End

I have heard the band name for some time, but this is the first album that I have had an opportunity to hear from Chicago's Bible of the devil. The flying V and motorcycle chase on the cover already had me thinking that I might be in for some gritty metal. The opener "Hijack the night" emerges with a huge chunk of Sabbath like sludge before it really takes off. Then we are treated to some Iron Maiden-like guitar bursts pushed in here and there. In fact much of the album is an obvious tribute to some of most influential classic metal acts. Primarily I hear Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio for starters. Although "Ol' girl" is the big exception as it sounds like prime mid-70's Thin Lizzy. These guys might get put into the stoner rock bin, but that's not entirely accurate or fair. Bible of the devil tap into the soul of real metal and most of these songs sound like they could have come right out of about 1983 or 1984. Even though many of their influences are big name bands, the sound and the production on this album bring in more of an underground metal feel. These days it seems like you can't spit without hitting a "retro" or "throwback" metal band. It's easy to capture that sound from twenty years ago, but not everyone can really pin down the spirit of the best bands from years ago. Bible of the devil certainly are not perfect and they could benefit from a little more energy and a little less repetition at times. Still they do a fine job because they know how to create catchy, head-banging tunes.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

What's coming up?


Hard to believe it's December already so the end of 2008 is near. I am working on my top 25 albums of the year and will be doing that here soon. My stack of new CDs is growing and beginning to lean over so it's time to make a dent in it before it falls and hurts somebody. This week I hope to have the following out.

Reviews of...
Adrenicide-Natural born thrashers
Hades-Bootlegged in Boston 1988
Cirkus -Let the madness begin
Kreator-Hordes of chaos
Defiance-Beyond Recognition (re-issue)
Bible of the devil-Freedom Metal
Maxine-Don't hate me

plus a Clash of the album covers

***Hope you have a great week!

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Lesser of two evils

It's been a while since I have done one of these, but let's give it go. We have


Cycle Sluts from hell-s/t (1991)


Lita Ford-Stilleto (1990)

So we have a joke band (the Cycle Sluts) who made the mistake of trying too hard to be a serious band on some songs. Then we have Lita Ford who was once a good musician when she was with the Runaways and on her first two albums, but by this point she had become a bit of a joke. The years 1990 and 1991 saw a huge outpouring of hard rock and metal releases. There were some good ones, but there were a lot of misfires. These two would be included in that second group. One difference this time around is that the credits for the Cycle Sluts from hell don't actually list who played drums or bass. I know the names of people who played in the band around that time, but since it's not confirmed I can't credit anyone. I will still be judging those instruments anyhow.

Lord Roadkill


Venus Penis Crusher, Queen Vixen, She-Fire Of Ice and Honey 1 %'er for the Cycle Sluts take on Lita Ford. Quantity doesn't mean quality as the Cycle Sluts foursome are not exactly bursting with talent. They handle the funnier songs alright, but on many of the other songs they just sound like a bunch of goofy bartenders who somehow lucked into getting signed to a record deal. Oh, wait maybe they sound like that because that's what they really were. Lita's vocals much like most of this album suffer from overproduction. However she hits enough moments to show her talent.

Point to the Lita Ford


Lord Roadkill is up for the Cycle Sluts and he is taking on Lita Ford. Lord Roadkill's playing is fairly average, but he hits a few decent solos. If Lita had shown the playing she did around 83-84 then she would have won this battle easily. Unfortunately it was 1990 and Lita was letting the quest for success overshadow her skill. So her guitar parts are very subdued and limp.

Point to the Cycle Sluts

Rhythm section

Lita Ford's rhythm section on this album was drummer Myron Grombacher and bass player Donnie Nossov taking on some unknown person or persons for the Cycle Sluts. I was close to giving a tie except there was a song or two where I heard the bass for just a few instances on the Cycle Sluts album. That trumps hearing the run of the mill, slicked up sound of Lita Ford's hired guns. So...

Point to Cycle Sluts


Originality? Uh, I guess these two acts were in the bathroom when that was being handed out. Production? It's like Mike Chapman just smoothed and fluffed up Lita's album in every way he could. The result is a lot of polish and not much else. Glen Robinson handled production duties for the Cycle Sluts album and he did a very standard job. Nothing special, but everything is as should be.

Point to the Cycle Sluts

Who rocks more?

Lita Ford only hit on a few songs here. The ones that were alright were pale versions of where she had been earlier in her solo career. The Cycle Sluts are at their best on their joke songs like "Wish you were a beer" and "Bad Ass Mama". Unfortunately they spent almost half of the album trying to do some semi-serious metal songs that just drag along. Their album would have been much better had it been an EP with just the joke songs. Still they didn't have to do much to best out the lifeless effort of Lita Ford.
Point to the Cycle Sluts

Here are few other items of note on these albums. The Cycle Sluts had a demo out way back in like 1988 and it got some notice. By the time they got signed and released an album, the whole hard rock scene was fading. Lita Ford did a cover of Alice Cooper's "Only women bleed" on this album". While the music was fine, it's a prime example of the fact that it is difficult to cover Alice. He could take even an okay song like "Only Women bleed" and elevate it with his odd and unique vocals. Rounding out Lita's band was keyboardist David Ezrin. Ezrin had previously played with Witch and of course is the son of producer Bob Ezrin.

Okay, the Cycle Sluts take an easy 4-1 victory, but neither album was a joy to listen to. Hoped you liked reading it though. I will try to be more regular about doing these again. The next one will probably be Ozzy's Ozmosis vs. Black Sabbath's Never say die.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dir En Grey-Uroboros

The End

Japanese band Dir en Grey have been cranking out their bizarre and exciting brand of chaotic metal for over a decade. If I was slowly going insane then I imagine that this album would be very appropriate soundtrack to that journey. The band manages to tap into normal even soothing moments, but they quickly break open the shell and various sounds and tones coming spilling out all at once. One of the bands best traits is their ability to keep these odd pieces moving rather than letting take on too much of a life of their own. They do manage to build and maintain intensity while interjecting enough melodic moments to keep the mood from becoming too dark. Unfortunately they do fall into the self-indulgent track at times and get further off track than they really needed to.There are moments of repetition that don't contribute a great deal to the overall feel of the album. However they do manage to rectify those situations rather quickly. Like blood pumping through your body Dir En Grey manage to keep producing ideas and then slip them into the system to keep things working. I think they do a fine job of keeping a balance between styles and tones as well. That is something that sets them apart from other artists playing experimental metal these days.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Underride-One of us


"One of us" is the fourth release from Seattle's Underride. However their sound is much more rooted in the rooted in the glitz of 80's hard rock from the LA area. However, don't get it into your mind that they are a direct copy of those big-haired bands of two decades ago. No, this band sounds more like a descendant of that style. Certainly they are influenced by the likes of LA Guns, Ratt, Motley Crue, Poison and others. Still they manage to takes the essence of those bands, drag it into this decade and step it up just enough that it seems fresh. It took me a few spins to determine the above, but eventually it became clear. Perhaps the music is closer to an older hard rock style than the vocals are. Where I hear songs like "Side by side" and "On the radio" I hear enough in the grooves and hooks that I feel like temporarily transported back to about 1987. Still the music pushes ahead more as they don't just live on one riff like many popular hard rock acts back in the day. Underride make and effort to drive forward and keep the ball rolling . The vocals have as much in common with this decade and the 1990's as they do with the 1980's. They are strong and gritty, but not exactly like the throat searing vocals of many of the bands they are likely influenced by. I think that they manage to do a good job of bringing hard rock into today's time or at least they come closer than a lot of other bands. If there is one downside to this album it's that many of the songs are the speed and some of them do blend together a little. I would like to see them mix it more the next time around. Underride have done an admirable job of taking an established style and adding some of their own ideas to it. The result is a gleaming, fired up blast of heavy music.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Clash of the albums covers

Here you go.

AC/DC-Black Ice


Guns n' Roses-Chinese Democracy

***So which cover do you prefer?

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Interview with Zebulon Pike


Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Zebulon Pike is an instrumental prog-doom metal band that formed in late 2002. I recently had the opportunity to interview guitarist Erik Fratzke to find out more.

MM-Please introduce the members of your band and tell what instrument you play.
Erik Bolen on drums. Morgan Berkus, guitar, Erik Fratzke, guitar and our newest member Tom Berg on bass.

MM-Who are your musical influences?
>Judas Priest, Black Sabbath,Rush, just to name a few. Mostly stuff from the 70's and 80's. Bands that are heavy and progressive on some level.
Also many 20th century classical composers such as: Bartok, Ives, Philip Glass, Schnittke among many others.

MM-Tell us a little about your new album “Intransience”?

>It's our third album, and our first with our new bassist Tom Berg.

MM-How do you think it differs from your previous releases?

> I think it has a more hard rock and prog tinge to it. We seem to be moving away from our doom/stoner beginnings.

MM-What did you set to achieve on this album?

> Compositionally speaking, I wanted to each tune to use a few themes and then transform those themes throughout the song. In the past the songs had tons of riffs, that weren't necessarily developed or tied together as tightly. The new album is not drastically different, but our approach is becoming more refined, yet a bit more exploratory.

MM-Zebulon Pike was of course an explorer’s name. Why did you decide on that name for your band?

> At first we attempted to find a more metal sounding name, and in the process, we ran across this one. The more we thought about it, the more it seemed right.

MM-Was the decision to be an instrumental band an easy decision or was there a time when you considered having a vocalist?

> In fact, the band was initially conceived as a group with vocals. When the vocalist we had in mind didn't work out, we went instrumental.
The decision was fairly easy as our drummer, Erik Bolen and I (Erik Fratzke) had played in instrumental outfits before, so it wasn't virgin territory for us.


MM-Are any of the band members in any side bands or is Zebulon Pike the main focus for everyone?

I play bass in the jazz trio Happy Apple, and guitar in the prog-punk band The Gang Font. Tom has been playing bass Self-Evident for many years now and continues to do so. We all do other projects from time to time, but Zebulon Pike seems to be the main focus for all of us.

MM-Your music is fairly complex and incorporates different styles of music. How does your writing process normally work? Do you just bring a riff and build from there while you jam or do you get a mental idea and then try to work it out?

> I usually have a set of riffs that I see as being "a song", then I bring them in and we flesh them out and connect the dots a a group. There is not much jamming in this group. We spend much more time sculpting the music, than creating ideas by jamming. I always have an over-abundance of ideas, so we end up working on a lot things that eventually get cut from a given tune. Consequently, there's not a lot of time or a need for us for us to jam.

MM-What are you guys doing that sets you apart from other bands?

> Sensitivity to dynamics, and also a sense of melody and melancholy.

MM-In what areas do you think that you need to improve upon?



MM-I noticed that you a few dates coming up. Do you have a more extensive tour in the works?.

> We plan on doing a few weeks of touring in 2009. Right now, it's all our lives will allow. We hope to do something more extensive in the future.

MM-I don’t think that I know of a lot of other bands from Minneapolis. What’s the music scene like there? Are there any great unsigned bands in your area that you would like to mention?

I've lived in the Twin Cities for almost 20 years, and the music scene here has always been vibrant. The arts scene as a whole has always been happening. There's always a steady crop of high quality bands here, so it really helps bring out your "A- game". The heavy music scene here seems to move in cycles, but never dies!! As far as the number of bands, I think heavier music is going through a renewal phase here right now. There will be a lot more in a few years. Some of our favorite local groups right now include: Chooglin', Gay Witch Abortion, Dosh and Self-Evident.

MM-This is minor yet I can’t help but notice that you changed the band logo on the new album. Why?

With a new bass player and our sound continuing to evolve, we wanted to have a more elemental look. Also, I think metal bands in general suffer a bit from having a sameness to their album artwork. Don't get me wrong, I love the traditional metal imagery, but sometimes it's too much of the same good thing!


MM-What kind of music are you listening to these days?

Mostly modern classical. It seems to provide much inspiration and many musical ideas for me these days. One can only rip off Iron Maiden so many times, ya know?

MM-Pick the band from each of the following pairs that prefer and tell why you picked them.

Cactus or Mountain
Mountain. A great combination of blues-y riff tunes and amazing power ballads. That band had a lot of depth, and each member had a recognizable voice on their instrument.

Iron Maiden or Judas Priest

Even though Maiden were a big early influence, I'd have to go with Judas Priest. Priest had so many different phases. I didn't even "get" the early stuff until I was in my late 20's. They helped define metal, and also had a lot of contrasts in their sounds. Not many metal bands would attempt a song like "Last Rose of Summer". The contrasts between light and dark, heavy and soft are what really made a lasting impression on me with Judas Priest.

King Crimson or YES

Yes. Though they are monster players, I really admire their melodic sense. Not many groups can be as musically progressive as they were, and have a great pop sense, but they pulled it off. I really look up to Yes and Rush more and more as I get older. The body of music they created is mind-boggling!
I love King Crimson too, but not nearly as much as Yes.

Pentagram or Rush

Bobby Leibling was one of the most prolific songwriters in rock and is not yet fully acknowledged by the general music listening public. The Victor Griffin-era Pentagram is some of my favorite heavy music , period. Victor's guitar sound on those recordings has been a model for my own.
After saying all that, I'd still have to go with Rush. I became obsessed with them when I was about 10 years old, and they made a deep, deep impression on me. "Caress of Steel" and "Hemispheres" still loom as large pillars of influence form me.
Those were some brutal choices, as I love ALL of the bands that were mentioned.

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

When we started this band, we weren't sure whether it would make it out of the basement and out into the world. It's been really amazing for us to be able to have great gigs, release albums and see that people that are into what we do.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Ross the boss-New Metal Leader


It's hard to believe it's been so long since guitarist Ross the boss parted ways with Manowar. However his absence has certainly been felt over the years as Manowar seemed to have slipped from the high level they once occupied. Filling put Ross the boss's band are Patrick Fuchs on vocals and guitar, Carsten Kettering on bass and Matthias Mayer on drums. Manowar helped to define power/epic metal over two decades ago and the pounding guitars parts were a huge part of that sound. We hear much of that same sound on this album as well. Unsurprisingly the bulk of "New Metal Leader" sound like Manowar mainly around the 1985-1988 period. In fact Patrick Fuchs even sounds quite a bit like Eric Adams only with a little less range. Tracks like "God Of Dying" and "Immortal Son" sound very much classic Manowar anthems. The sound here is solid, booming metal that blatantly follows a mid-tempo 1980's metal style. The only real difference being that the production on this album might be better. So there is really nothing new or particularly unique about this album, but fans of Manowar's peak are sure to lift their fists high in the air and enjoy the majesty and cheese of this kind of music. Indeed Ross the boss never lost sight of the heavy sound and memorable choruses that were very much part of the appeal of the band that he helped form. Metal trends have come and gone over the last to decades, but I can't deny that there is still something about this kind of music that I still enjoy on some basic level.

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