Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Infernal Legion-The spear of Longinus


Infernal Legion return with their album and their first in six years. The title of the new album is named after the spear that proved that Christ was dead. So that kind of sets the tone as we know this is brutal death metal with strong anti-christian themes. The vocals are of the growling virtually incoherant variety. However the music speaks volumes. This is thick, powerful death metal with some classic influences at the heart of their sound. In a word they are relentless with all their energy going towards maintaining a constant onslaught. It's not about speed as they are just lethal going at a mi-paced tempo. No matter what the sound is incrdibly dense and they waste no note or beat because everything create goes into creating a dark, dismal atmosphere. My only complaint is that the vocals were not nearly as varied as the music. The vocals are very limited and don't always keep up with amount of force that's behind the music. Overall a crushing effort with decent results.

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Chasma-Declarations of the Grand Artificer


Consisting of just three tracks this album runs a little over half an hour. They are part of the Cascadian black metal scene. The sound could be described as experimental, but they bring in elements of black metal, thrash and more melodic styles as well. What I like about them is there is nothing subtle in their approach. Whether it's a hit or a miss they dive right into it and give all they have. If they go slow they bring in deep, dark tones and if they go fast they scream and blaze their way through. Considering two of the tracks are over 10 minutes in length and the third is just under, they really need to have a lot going on to keep their listeners interest for that amount of time. The production helps push their thick sounds to the surface and get the most out of all that is transpiring on these songs. I couldn't listen to this album every day, but it's a spectacular display of what happens when a band throws all their ideas into the mix.

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Forgotten Gems-XINR-Beyond Woodword


This is a different kind of forgotten gem I guess. This one was recorded a while ago, 1984 to be specific. However it was not released back then and was just released a few years ago. Hailing from Portland this band was very much into classic style metal and the NWOBHM too. The sound here is similar to 70's Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Cirith Ungol, early Iron Maiden and others. The sound quality is more like a demo, but that's alright because the fuzzy sound and slight rawness add to their rather loose sound. They sound at times like a band practicing in a basement and doing some real improvisation which really works with their style. The guitars have a great tone and the riffs are plenty. The vocals very from mid-range to slightly high and frequently seem spread out. The rhythm section was solid although the drums get buried in the mix on a few tracks. XINR have a slight quirkiness to their sound like Cirith Ungol. They don't always follow the normal course and the metal world could use more bands like this. Being a bit unpredictable helped define their sound. If this album had been released in 1984 I think it would have at the very least be a cult classic by now. At least it did eventually see the light of day. This release includes some bonus tracks as well. Fans or early 80's metal are going to love this one.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

JuiceheaD-How to Sail a Sinking Ship

Misfits Records

Chicago has long had a history of producing killer punk rock bands. Legendary acts like Naked Raygun have made Chicago one of the true hot spots for straight ahead punk rock. JuiceheaD are just the latest power punk outfit to take a stab at unleashing politically-charged 3 cord fury. "How to Sail a Sinking Ship" is a great follow-up to their debut album "The Devil Made Me Do It" and finds guitarist/vocalist Rob Vannice doing his best to entertain folks with old school punk. Listening to this album took me back somewhat with images of Bad Religion, the Ramones and Rancid dancing in my head. At their best JuiceheaD rattles the cage with quality tried and trusted punk like a hungrier Good Riddance. At their worst though the record tends to level out and lose some of its youthful charm. Most punk records that have 20 songs are usually wrapped up in under a half an hour. The fact that this one lasts a little over an hour means JuiceheaD risk overstaying their welcome. Still though this is some fun punk with rock steady riffs and youthful energy. Longtime Misfits & Ramones collaborator John Cafiero does a great job capturing JuiceheaD's youthful spirit on this record. His production is sound enough while retaining enough punk edge to make the album feel like an old familiar friend. The album has unreal hooks and feels like honest to God punk. This is a rare event these days with corporate pop/punk bands and mallcore crashing our industry. These kids sound like the real deal and write songs full of honest rage, frustration, hope and sadness. With guests like Osaka Popstar frontman Cafiero (who does backing vocals for the awesome “Rotting from the Inside”), cellist Melora Creager (Nirvana, Rasputina) and The Punk Pipers (who add traditional bagpipes to the track “When I Fall From Grace”) the album has loads to offer. One of my favorite cuts would have to be the old school thrasher "Death to Democracy". Talk about punk rock 101. "Death to Democracy" was a flashback moment for this old guy and really had me thinking about the glory days. It is good to know there is still traditional punk bands out there like JuiceheaD who play with a chip on their shoulder and a thirst to right the real wrongs of this world.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Savage Messiah-Plague of Conscience


British band Savage Messiah was formed in May of 2007. This London-based band plays energetic thrash metal/heavy metal that is face ripping in its awesomeness. "Plague Of Conscience" isn't officially due out until 2012 in physical form but the band has teamed up with Earache Records to offer it as a free download just in time for Christmas! It is the band's wish that you share this heavy shredded with your friends and family. After all nothings says holiday cheer like killer thrash metal! This 3rd album is full of insane solos and crazy thrash that will help any headbanger mosh away those winter blues! Follow the link below fellow thrash freaks and enjoy this bad boy!

Get your free download now at

Speedwolf-Ride With Death

Hells Headbangers Records

Speedwolf hails from Denver, Colorado and features ex-DDC front man Reed Bruemmer in it's ranks. Bruemmer runs Splattered Records and seems to have a thing for old school sounds as Speedwolf continues the trend started by DDC. This is a perfect fit for Hells Headbangers Records since they love all things retro in nature. Here Reed teams up with guitarist Kris Wells, bassist Jake Hoffman and former Havok drummer Richie Tice to take a walk down memory lane. In other words this is the sound made famous by Motorhead, G.B.H., early Metallica and the others. You could call this punk biker metal and no one would be the wiser. I hear what your saying though out there. "Why not just listen to your old Motorhead, Tank or Discharge albums and save your time and money?". What would be the fun in that though? "Ride With Death" is a fun album even if it isn't breaking any new ground. You can tell Reed loves those older bands and just cranking out punk metal. Check out the title cut or numbers like "I Can't Die and "Death Ripper" where Speedwolf just sit back and let it all hang out there. Sure Motorhead had the same thing going for them 20+ years ago and admittedly some of the material washes into the next. And yet one can't help but smile at that album art and music that doesn't take itself too serious. This is "Balls To The Wall" heavy metal. Nothing more and nothing less.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Metal Blade

This year long running doom act Cathedral announced they would disband after recording their final in 2012. So we know the end is near for them, but we are treated to this two disc live set that was recorded last year. The first album features the original line-up playing their Forest of Equilibrium album in it's entirety. The second album which was also the second set of the show features the long standing line-up doing a selection of their well-known songs including Midnight mountain and Carnival Bizarre. I have been a fan of this band since the start, but hearing the Forest of Equilibrium album again reminds me of just how slow and drawn out they were on their first few albums. Although back then I loved them and would sit back and soak the whole thing, but nowadays when I re-visit them I have to take it in smaller doses. Of course being live they pick up the pace on it a little on these versions. Still in the early 90's doom wasn't the major genre it is now and Cathedral were not only one of the leaders of the scene, but one of the few still sticking with it as well. Fortunately they progressed as the 90's went along. The second set on this set shows that growth as they pound and twist their way through those songs. Somewhere a long the ways Lee Dorian and the rest of the band figured out that playing doesn't mean every song has to trickle along. Now the songs from the second set are a bit different from their studio counterparts. They are not totally tight and doing this for two decades has taken a slight toll on Dorian's voice. Still they bring the volume and the energy plus the crowd is very excited about it. The sets here are not perfect, but they do a fine job of showing all that's likable about Cathedral. Which is that they were not as concerned about being perfect as they were about being heavy and delivering pounding tones in the form thick crusted songs. A solid live album that I'll be spinning for the next few months for sure.

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What's coming up?

I still owe a Cathedral review and hope have that out later today. This week we hope to have up reviews of albums by Savage Messiah, Encoffination, Speedwolf, Hypno5e, Chasma, Infernal Legion and Jethro Tull. Plus Top of the heap, Forgotten Gems and more.

***Have a great week!

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French Metal Friday: Mystery Blue

French traditional heavy metal act Mystery Blue was formed in 1982 by guitarist "Frenzy" Philippon . After a 1983 demo the band released their self-titled debut on the cult French label Axe Killer. Their debut album featured AC/DC inspired hard rock not unlike fellow countrymen Trust. While nothing groundbreaking it was one of the few albums to make an impact outside of France and I still find myself drawn to it when straight up heavy metal is in order. Two years later the band followed up with "Circle of Shame" on Dream Records. As with many other young bands from the era Mystery Blue just couldn't keep it together and after a 1987 demo they disappeared. While a 1995 demo would show up eventually it wouldn't be until 1998 that their 3rd album, "Spirit of Your Song" was released. By that point Philippon had recruited a new line-up including vocalist/keyboardist Nathalie Geyer. With a more mature sound and a renewed dedication Mystery Blue has endured with their last album being 2009's "Hell & Fury". These days the band's sound is less about AC/DC style hard rock and more about classic heavy metal.
In addition to Philippon and Grey the band's line-up these days includes drummer Vince Koehler who played with cult thrash band Altar.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sunn 0)))-ØØ Void

Southern Lord

ØØ Void was initially released in 2000 by HydraHead in North America and Rise Above in Europe, with only a limited number re-issue from Daymare Records in Japan in 2008. So now Southern Lord has re-issued it for everyone to hear. Sunn 0))) are a band that I have wanted to like, but have never gotten as much as I'd hoped. I can appreciate drone, but oftentimes the music from these guys is a bit too much like background chatter for me. Very slow drawn out chatter, but still not as focused as I would like. However this their second album appealed to more than a number of their albums that had come out it. We get four tracks each around 14 or 15 minutes. They have the reverb up high and they operate with a great deal of repetition. If you can have patience and sit back to absorb each note and beat being extended then you can appreciate it. On this album I was album to do just that. I think the closer Ra at dusk was my favorite track with it's thick resonating tone absorbing all my senses. It was heavy without be overwhelming and forceful without being too ham fisted. So maybe it's time I went re-visited some of their other albums I have not heard in a few years to see if I feel any different about them.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Enjoy the day with your family and friends!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Katarina's Nightmare Theater: Humongous

Scorpion Entertainment

Humongous was always one of those films that was on my DVD want list. I first saw it at a friends house back when I wore a younger man's clothes. It would take until 2011 for the film to see a proper DVD release and let me just tell you that picture wise this is such an improvement over the old version. The new DVD transfer is hosted by the lovely Katarina Leigh Waters. Waters is a former WWE and current TNA star and seems natural in the role of host. She is quite witty and offers interesting observations about the film. It obviously doesn't hurt that she is easy on the eyes. Scorpion Releasing has tapped her to host a slew of underground horror films including American Nightmare, The Carpenter, Final Exam, The House On Sorority Row and The Incubus with the DVDs called Katarina's Nightmare Theater. With a great set of extras (the trailers alone are insane) this uncut version of Humongous is well worth the wait and price. Directed by Paul Lynch (who went on to direct episodes of the awesome Star Trek: The Next Generation) the film stars Janet Julian and David Wallace. Janet Julian is perhaps best known for having played Nancy Drew in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (which I just rented from my local library for the extended weekend!) while David Wallace played Todd Chandler from 1985–1986 on Days of our Lives and Dr. Tom Hardy from 1987-1993 on General Hospital. The plot concerns a group of "teens" who decide to take a boat out for a little bit of fun. Finding themselves lost in fog they run aground on the rocks of the mysterious "Dog Island". With their boat destroyed by fire they make it to the island. After one them goes missing (since it is always best to split up you know) the rest of the group decides to search out shelter. Of course dogs are not the only thing to worry about on "Dog Island" as they soon find out! Originally there was two versions of this film floating around. The American version was cut in order to secure a R rating while the Canadian version was unrated. As mentioned this DVD version is uncut and contains all of the footage removed from the US version. The most obvious cut is in the opening part of the movie. The DVD presents the movie uncut as stated although they do provide the R rated opening as a point of reference. Without giving away any spoilers (hopefully) the film opens on Labor Day weekend, 1946. The family that owns "Dog Island" (apparently it is only a father and daughter) is throwing a huge party and the young daughter (Ida Parsons) is playing with her German Shepherds. The very pretty Ida is in her early twenties from the look of things and is still a virgin (not that there is anything wrong with that). While her father is busy hosting the party a drunken man named Tom Rice comes outside and propositions Ida. She refuses of course (since drunken older men really don't have a lot to offer pretty young ladies) and after he chases her into the woods he brutally rapes her. The dogs hear her cries for help and break out of their pens. The dogs are of course very protective of Ida and race into the wood where they attack and fatally maul the man. Ida's rapist really should have thought twice before he attacked her. After she finally calls off the dog's attack Ida justifiably finishes off her rapist with a log to the head. In the R rated version it only appears as if Tom Rice is going to rape Ida before the dogs come along to attack him. It really doesn't make it clear that Ida becomes pregnant. The uncut version includes the actual rape and shows more of the dog attack. While the rape scene is horrible to watch it provides a stronger statement and helps the viewer to understand Ida's actions later in the film. Humongous is not a movie for the faint of heart then or kids as the rape scene alone is brutal and ugly. The rest of the movie features gore fairly typical of eighties slasher flicks with the killer only show briefly. Having watched it a few times already I can tell you that it's good points outweigh it's flaws. Honestly though if your a fan of eighties horror films then you have long ago learned to throw logic out the window and just enjoy it for what it is.

Royal Hunt-Show Me How To Live

Frontiers Records

Denmark's one and only melodic progressive metal band Royal Hunt have been around for quite sometime. It's something to consider that this is the band's 11th studio album. It is also the first one to see the return of lead vocalist DC Cooper. With DC Cooper on board again (he was partly responsible for two of Royal Hunt's most successful releases, "Moving Target" and "Paradox") founder and keyboard player Andre Andersen seems rather inspired. For any band to not only survive to make eleven studio albums but have the material still sound fresh and invigorating well that is truly something. While keyboardist Andre Andersen might be the driving force behind Royal Hunt here on "Show Me How To Live" DC Cooper does his best to say "Hey, who missed me?". There is a reason this guy has fronted so many quality bands (Silent Force, Missa Mercuria, Steel Seal, Explorers Club, Amaran's Plight). He can sing. His voice is as classy as Andre's keyboard arrangements. That isn't to say that guitarist Jonas Larsen can't hold his own. He can and then some. His guitar solos are classical in nature but it is obviously from the word go that it is all about DC and Andre. These two are the bigwigs and Royal Hunt is a statement. Sure it is majestic, melodic and progressive. It's very epic sounding with clear and crisp production. I'd even say its flashy. But it is also a chance to highlight the skills of these two musicians and in that regard they succeed!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sit on it-Rock 'n ride


Okay, so the other day I was in Wal-mart buying painting supplies to paint my kids walls. I was passing the automotive section on my way to the paints when I passed a display with these rock car seat covers. I noticed Ozzy, KISS, AC/DC, Judas Priest and others that I don't remember offhand. If I had seen these when I was like 16 I probably would have been like "cool". Now I was more like "ehn, big deal". Maybe it goes along with seeing bands like KISS and AC/DC slap their logos on everything that doesn't move in recent years. Even though I like or did like some of these bands I do get sick of seeing so much merchandise with their logos on them. I guess it also has to do with not being impressed by items that are not so rock related even though they may have a band's likeness slapped on it. While I appreciate a a shirt or button with a band on it I wouldn't really think much of putting my rear end on Ozzy's likeness while I drive to work. Each to his or her own I guess.


Beggars & Thieves-We Are The Brokenhearted

Frontiers Records

Beggars & Thieves are one of those interesting case studies in what happens to a successful band when the musical landscape changes overnight and what was once popular is now shunned by the masses. Beggars & Thieves was formed in NYC in 1989 by singer Louie Merlino and guitarist Ronnie Mancuso. From the start good fortune seemed to shine on the band as it only took them 5 gigs to land a demo deal with the one and only Desmond Child (producer of such acts as Bon Jovi and Aerosmith). With Child on board as well as former Billy Squier/Alice Cooper drummer Bobby Chouinard and Bon Jovi bassist Hugh McDonald the band had a demo that put B&T right in the spotlight for Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun to scoop up. With a critically acclaimed self-titled debut album and a fast rising single (“Beggars & Thieves”) things looked good for the band. Its the same old song and dance though. First the band lost their A&R man and then their management team. The next thing you know B&T left the label that put them on the map and signed with Epic/Sony. The group recorded a solid enough second album in “Look What You Create” but by the time it was released the public had moved on. Grunge was in and anything that looked, smelled or acted like a hair metal band died a sudden death. B&T were put to rest until only just recently when singer Louie Merlino and guitarist Ronnie Mancuso hooked back up. With legendary NYC drummer Thommy Price (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Billy Idol, Scandal) and fellow Blackhearts bassist Enzo Penizzotto joining them the pair unleashed "We Are The Brokenhearted". From the album opener "We Come Undone" onward your treated to top notch melodic rock from a group out to prove they never should have been lumped in with the whole hair metal movement. And truth be told they make a great case for themselves as "We Are The Brokenhearted" is loaded with the kind of timeless melodic hard rock that people can get into. People might want to lump Beggars in with the majority of Frontiers Records AOR radio acts but for my money these guys offer a bit more bang for the buck. Louie Merlino sounds amazing and the lead solos out of Ronnie Mancuso are scorchers. There are tracks like "Innocence" that have plenty of smoking guitar riffs. Modern radio won't understand the appeal but for those of us old enough to appreciate real guitars and bands that crafted catchy rock B&T offer a glimpse at what the world is missing. Then again who cares if stations don't get it. Beggars does and frankly that is what matters most.

Salem-In The Beginning...

High Roller / Pure Steel Records

This 2010 compilation from Salem is a remastered anthology of nearly everything the Hull-based band ever put out on vinyl or tape. At close to 85 minutes in length this collection gives you a perfect overview of what made Salem such a killer band. From their rare “Cold As Steel” single to various demos its all here in one well assembled package. With a booklet that features lyrics, a brief history of the band and photos this best-of collection is a fitting tribute to this unsung rock-influenced NWOBHM act. If you haven't had the chance to check out my interview with Salem I've included the link at the bottom of this review. Also, since I recently did a write-up on the group's latest material (that thankfully continues in the fine tradition of melodic British heavy metal) I've included that in the link as well. While Salem was formed from the ashes of Ethel The Frog they were able to forge their own path thanks to strong songwriting and lyrics of the epic/fantasy/hero variety. Salem were not content to just be another Iron Maiden or for that matter even fellow epic metal band Saxon. Instead they created music that was bold and fresh while still hard and heavy. While bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon and Def Leppard are of course interesting there was just something about Salem that set them apart from the rest of the pack. They choose to spin tales that were mythical in nature dealing with things like the battle between good and evil. Musically they were different too as I earlier hinted at thanks to their wide range of influences. In the interview we touched upon what made these guys tick. Really, in addition to the usual Led Zep./ Black Sabbath influences the band was inspired by traditional rock music and even progressive bands. Everything from Thin Lizzy to Kansas to Rush found its way into songs that were shaped around kings, the devil and magical keys. The more I listen to these two CDs the more I pick up on different things that hint at not only 70's rock admiration but also 60's rock. This collection really has something for everyone and is another great overview of how amazing the NWOBHM scene was. Sadly Salem was just one of many bands to release a single and a few demos, build up a sizable following and yet not be able to take it to the next level. They were like Deep Machine in that regard. They put out wicked material and had the fans and yet that golden record contract just didn't appear. Thankfully there are record companies these days that exist solely to release material from these long lost bands. "In The Beginning..." is a amazing collection of lost gems from the killer "Cold As Steel" single to the 2009 bonus track "Run For Your Life". While personally I love "Hangman's Noose", "Make The Grade" and the Keys trilogy there really is no filler to be found here and everything on this 2 disc set is killer. If you call yourself a NWOBHM fan then you need this anthology in your collection. That said even if you find yourself into classic rock/prog influenced bands then Salem will have a sound that peaks your interest. While Itunes does have this collection it doesn't seem to have all of the material so I'd suggest springing for the actual CD collection. With it's booklet it is a good buy and both CDs have found their way into regular rotation.
(interview with Salem and review of their newest material)

Vektor-Outer Isolation

Heavy Artillery

Vektor hail from the Phoenix, AZ area and this is their second release. I remember when their debut came out a few years ago and it received some praises, but I wasn't so thrilled by it. "Outer Isolation" is a bit more impressive to my ears. Since they are on Heavy Artillery you know they have to be a retro-metal act of some sort and they are. Mainly retro-thrash, but that's not all there is to Vektor. No, they are not content to just copy, but instead bring their own comples structures to the thrash formula. The results are a constantly pumping style that will have your senses spinning. Just when you think you know where the music is heading they change it up and then do it again and again and you get the picture. Don't think this is some self-indulgent wank-fest either. They have the skills, but they stay and heavy throughout and never lose sight of that fact. The only part of this album that didn't thrill were the vocals. At times they work when the tone is deep, but when they go higher they don't quite mesh with the music. That's a minor complaint though because overall this is a brilliant blast of well-played thrash. This is creative and well-planned so it's definitely worth tracking down.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Mass - New Birth (Anniversary Remasters Edition) [Import]

Retroactive UK

Heavy Metal band Mass hail from Boston, Massachusetts and were formed in 1981. Originally going by the name Axes they were forced to change their name to Mass after some legal problems arose. Since I have already covered some of the history of Mass in my review of "Fighter" (see link below) I won't dwell too much on the bands long and complicated (maybe frustrating would be a better way to describe it) career. After releasing a self-titled EP (reissued as "'84 Unchained" the four-track EP was originally released in 1984 as a self-titled, self-financed and self-released affair selling over 10,000 vinyl copies) the band looked at this 1985 album as a fresh start for the band. Despite often being labeled a Christian heavy metal act (the title alone is often mistaken to be a nob toward  salvation in Christ) the album's title reflects the outlook Mass had as they saw their new contract with RCA as a new birth. Produced by Tony Platt (Uriah Heep, AC/DC, Motorhead and Iron Maiden) "New Birth" saw the band adopt a slightly more glossy style. The album is still heavy in much the same way "Fighter" was. Only this time around the sound isn't as raw. While pop rock and glam metal was busy dominating the airwaves here was Mass sticking to their roots. No doubt these Boston band boys were raised on the likes of Kiss, AC/DC, Van Halen and Sweet as "New Birth" is more about rock and less album eighties glam. It is also interesting to note that while a few of these tracks came from "Fighter" ("Watch Her Walk", "Too Far Gone", "Voyager" and "Do You Love Me") and originally featured more of a raw heavy metal sound on "New Birth" they are more polished. Some of the lyrics have been changed and different tempos are present. "Do You Love Me" is more of a pop rock ballad on "New Birth" while on "Fighter" it was a slower ballad. Both are quite good although I prefer the "Fighter" version. Even so "Do You Love Me" was the first single for "New Birth" and helped Mass gain some footing in the hard rock/heavy metal market. Overnight it sold  40,000 copies and the video received airplay on MTV. It should have helped make Mass a serious player and a band that could have competed with bands likes Stryper, Kiss, Dokken or Quiet Riot. If only a bad management deal wouldn't have come back to haunt Mass. Getting back to "New Birth" though and the track "Crying Alone". Simply put it is a great hard rock number with flashy guitar solos and pounding drums. So is "Time" which is a great track that had me thinking about a heavier White Lion. "Back To Me" is another flashback to eighties hair metal. Don't let that description scare you off though as vocalist Louie St. August does such a good job of catching you off guard with his instantly likable persona. Falling somewhere between Van Halen and a beefed up Warrant the track again features insane licks from guitarist Gene D'Itria. Seriously underated and sadly unheard of  Gene D'Itria pulls off these smoking hot leads. "New Birth" is another pounding heavy metal number. It does bring to mind White Lion on steroids or possible Whitecross. "Left Behind" is a number that helps make the case that Mass were no doubt interested in bands like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath or to a lesser extent early Queensryche. "Day Without You" is the band trying to be Stryper too much for my taste. Obviously I've left out the re-recorded tracks from "Fighter" for a reason. I just wanted to mention the tracks exclusive to "New Birth" first and foremost. With that said the tracks that were re-recorded work just as well on "New Birth" as they did on "Fighter"! Even in their new form here on "New Birth" they fit like a glove. The album as a whole has a natural feel to it with each song fitting in just right with the others. My overall feeling is that while "Fighter" might be more of a raw example of eighties heavy metal "New Birth" is a suburb slice of American hard rock. Not overly glam or pop in nature but straight up hard rock with a Boston attitude! Now, while  "New Birth" was made available on CD in 2007 (thanks to Retrospect Records) that reissue featured a less than perfect mastering job leaving many fans scratching their heads. So fast forward some to 2011 and Iowa based Christian label Retroactive Records worked with Mass to give the fans a real re-issue of "New Birth". Featuring packaging that is more faithful to the original vinyl release (including lyrics) the album was also mastered from the original tapes. Leaving off the original bonus track from the 2007 reissue might seem odd at first until you actually listen to these 10 cuts start to finish and realize it isn't needed. "New Birth" sounds insane this time around with an eye towards making everything sound just right...and right means loud and rocking! If nothing else that is what "New Birth" is all about just rocking out. One can't help but wonder what life would be like for the band if they would have gotten a golden record contract with money for a serious push. I've always maintained that Mass could have been bigger than Stryper (even if Mass are not technically a Christian band the lyrics reflect faith on a very basic level). Instead Mass tried to become Stryper losing some of that edge along the way. Anyway, even if you already have the 2007 version of "New Birth" I would pick up a copy of this new one. The sound really is clearer and more in line with the sound of the original vinyl.

 (review of "Fighter")

Yes-In the present-Live from Lyon



This live album fro prog rock legends Yes was recorded in Lyon, France back on December 1st 2009. I am not totally sure why they choose a nearly two year old show for release instead of choosing one from this years "Fly from here" tour. This band has gone through numerous line-up changes over the years. They have gone through style changes too having been real pioneers and leaders in their genre and then dabbling in more pop leaning styles although they have always kept some of their original prog sound too. This long set mixes up the selection fairly well as they of course have a large catalog for which to choose. We are treated to classics like “Roundabout", but we inevitably get tracks like the 80's megahit “Owner of a Lonely Heart" as well. Of course every track here is extremely tight as I would expect nothing less from this band no matter who is in the line-up. Although precision is more important that raw energy because you'll never hear them pick up the tempo more than on the studio versions either. New singer Benoit David does a fine job handling his duties really hitting every note perfectly. We get 14 tracks here and several over ten minutes yet it never seems too long, instead it just flows very well and I felt very satisfied with the album as a whole. While listening to it I could really appreciate the impact Yes has had on progressive music over the years. It did strike me slightly funny that in between each song there seems to a controlled splatter of hand clapping from the audience. This is perhaps a far more contained response than the band would have received say 35 or so years ago. I suppose this may have to do with the fact that much of their audience is now at least somewhat grey haired. Anyways this was an enjoyable enough live album and fans of the band will surely be pleased.

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Exxplorer Contest

I have one sealed copy of Exxplorer's new album to give away. Just go over to the right on this page where it talks about contacting Mark and click on "HERE". Send Mark a message that you want to be entered in the contest and list an e-mail we can contact you at in case in win. Be sure to put "Exxplorer Contest" in the subject area. On November 21st, 2011 we will draw a winner. Good luck to all who enter. For an interview with the band and a review of "Vengeance Rides an Angry Horse" be sure to check out the link below.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Abnormal Thought Patterns-Abnormal Thought

CynNormal Lab Recordings

Abnormal Thought Patterns is made up of members of technical/progressive act Zero Hour. In fact what you have here is founding members and brothers Jasun and Troy Tipton (also of Cynthesis) and drummer Mike Guy taking another step towards being all about the music only. With that said Abnormal Thought Patterns is a (more or less) self-titled instrumental album in every sense of the word. The whole affair seems poised to offer praise to the technical aspects of their instruments. "The Machine Within" opens things up with quirky progressive rock.  Is that the best way to describe it? A better way might be technical rock that feels more electronic than organic. Electronic rock is fine and all if there is an emotional drive behind it. That does not seem to be the case here though as this is  overly electronic in nature and less about being emotionally driven. With this EP you have music that is  great from a technical standpoint but does it evoke any response otherwise? From the four-part epic "Velocity and Acceleration" to the bass-only track "Ulnar Nerve Damage" the EP is more about being mathematical brilliant than making any lasting statements. For me at least this new prog project feels too self-obsessed.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Forgotten Gems-Executioner-Break the silence

New Renaissance

I am sure that I have mentioned this album before but I don't believe it has gotten the Forgotten Gems treatment, but it certainly deserves it. This Executioner was a trio that hailed from the Boston area. I first heard them with their song "Victims of evil" on the Speed Metal Hell compilation in early 1986. Fast forward to the fall of that year and someone ended up loaning me a copy of a copy of the cassette version of their debut "In the name of metal". Now the production on this album and almost every album on this label was poor so it sounded even worse on cassette. However despite that the power of this band easily shown through. In the summer of 1987 they released their sophomore release "Break the silence" on the same label. Bassist Ari Vainio was gone from the band and the late Seth Putnam (Anal Cunt) was in on bass. Their debut was a mix of NWOBHM, easily thrash and even a slight punk edge. Break the silence has several songs that were re-recordings of tracks that originally appeared on "In the name of metal". Yet the overall sound on this album is heavier and faster. They had obviously been listening to more thrash albums since the time when they recorded their previous album. I bought this one on cassette the week it came out and loved it. It's messy at times yet the excitement they had for their music shines through. They won't earn a lot of style points, but they just got it and that kind of approach shines through. Every time I hear this album I wish that so many other bands had half the energy this band had. Unfortunately this releases and the band's debut have never been released on CD. You can easily find free downloads for it online. So if you never heard then you should give it a shot.
Here is an interview I did with vocalist/guitarist Marc Johnson a few years ago.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Forgotten Gems: Mainiax - Boys Night Out

Sharps and Flats

If today's young bands think they have it bad just consider for one second what it must have been like in the days before the Internet made your music accessible to the whole world? While these days you have Myspace, Reverbnation and Facebook in the eighties you had to hope that word of mouth and good press would be enough to get record labels to notice you. With so many bands just unable to get anywhere with the majors and independent labels coming and going many heavy metal bands turned to the private press to reach audiences. These private press LPs now reside in thrift stores and small record stores mostly collecting dust. In the U.S. alone there were hundreds upon thousands of these heavy metal bands that made just enough noise to get noticed by a small handful of loyal fans before fading into history. Spartanburg, SC heavy metal band Mainiax was one such band that put it all on the line hoping that someone with taste would swoop them up and make them stars. Obviously it never happened as "Boys Night Out" is the sole release from this unknown band. While some may claim that Mainiax was a schizophrenic heavy metal band I prefer to think of them as a band that summed up 80's heavy metal in a nutshell. While opener "Life Of Crime" is eighties power metal the title track runs through Motley Crue sleaze while headed towards Judas Priest territory. Nothing shocking at all about any of that until "Night Of The Polizei" comes out of nowhere sounding like old Blue Oyster Cult! If that isn't enough you have the 9:35 epic number "The Witching Hour". With creepy organ work it brings to mind Deep Purple as much as it does Dio! Vocalist Don Garrison goes from sounding like Rob Halford to Eric Bloom between songs. Apparently he also handled the synthesizer work present throughout "Boys Night Out". Since the band was capable of writing 3 minute songs ("Love Machine") they could be lumped in with any number of 80's metal bands. What made these guys different though was the longer, more epic numbers like "Yellow Star". This number (at a little over 7 minutes!) showed off the bands skill. Live and in color Mainiax must have been one for the ages as every color of the heavy metal rainbow gets covered on "Boys Night Out". Many have called this one of the best private label power metal releases and I'm not going to argue with that. While they sometimes bring to mind another cult 80's band called Ray Gunn the fact that Mainiax pulls out the Deep Purple and B.O.C. love puts them in a class of their own. Since this one has never seen a CD release other than a bootleg version it is pretty easy to find floating around on the net. Totally worthwhile downloading for fans of eighties metal and those that liked their heavy metal with creepy organs,etc.

What's coming up?

This week we hope to have out reviews of albums by Abnormal Thought Patterns, YES, Beggars & Thieves, sunn O))), Salem, Vektor, Mass, Cathedral and Royal Hunt. Plus French Metal Friday, Heavy Metal Thunderdome, Reviews for suckas and Forgotten Gems.

If you have not entered the Exxplorer contest there is still time. Plus keep an eye out for an upcoming giveaway for a copy of the 40th anniversary edition of Jethro Tull's Aqualung.

***Have a great week!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Forgotten Gems-Fuzzy Duck-s/t


Fuzzy Duck formed in London in 1970. This their 1971 debut was issued with a limited pressing and years later when it was released on CD it had added bonus tracks. Like many British acts of the time Fuzzy Duck combined progressive rock with hard rock. Their sound is similar to the likes Wishbone Ash, Atomic Rooster and Deep Purple. Not as essential as any of those acts, but they were extremely tight and the music flows beautifully. They also had the ability to go from simple chugging riffs to surging blasts and back. Their debut easily shows their ability to create smooth grooves and they could ride those grooves out and keep the song twisting in and out around those grooves. If I had to describe this album with one word it would be "active" because they never settle down for a second. Instead they are in constant motion at all times. Plus every member is an equal force in Fuzzy Duck because you hear each member contributing on every song. Never heard this one until recently, but certainly worth checking out.

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Cirith Ungol-Servants of chaos

Metal Blade

This is a re-issue of a compilation of rare and unreleased stuff, demos, live songs and other assorted material from Cirith Ungol. In case you were living under a rock in the 80's Cirith Ungol were one of the absolute best American metal bands of all time. Yes, I said that and I stand by it. They formed years before finally releasing their debut "Frost and fire" in 1981 and it was the first of their four studio albums. These guys were a blend of the likes of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, early Rush and others. Yet there is no doubt they developed their own sound and really establish themselves as not just a solid band, but as a rather unique sounding act during their run. This album has 31 tracks and we get a lot of material that will give you a taste of what was so great about this band. Which is the heavy riffs, the controlled pacing, the quirky vocals and just their stellar ability to create interesting moods. Even live they excelled as you get hear on the handful of live songs included on this collection. The album also has some odd ball choices too. We get some seriously under produced tracks that show promise, but lack the attention to detail fans have come to expect from at least their first three studio albums. Towards the middle of the collection there are several tracks that sound like noodling around. These tracks had me thinking the guys were jamming around one night and someone switched on a cassette player and they poked around for a few minutes. Not that it isn't worth a listen, but these few tracks are certainly for the die hard fan and even then I doubt most people would want to hear these songs more than twice at the most. Still out of 31 tracks the bulk of the material is a treat for fans and more than enough to convince those unfamiliar with them about what was special about these guys.

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The Dogs Divine-The size of the fight


The Dogs Divine formed in 2007 and this is their sophomore release. They sound like a bit of a cross between Brand New Sin, Slave to the grind era Skid Row and Pantera. Almost every song begins promising enough because most of their riffs really pack a wallop. The vocals are loud and raw plus they fit well with the spirit of the music. The major problem with this album is not the energy because they have plenty of that to spare. No, the things is they can start songs well enough, but the ideas seem to quickly run dry well before the running time ends. We get left with the same riff going over and over with the same line being yelled out over an over. It's like they thought sheer volume might make up for their lack of originality, but that doesn't quite work on every song. The results are this in album with some promise, but I came away feeling like they really to spend more time developing these songs. Not bad, but they need some work for sure.

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Maria's B-Movie Mayhem-Night of the Demon

Code Red

If you've already read my review of Code Red's "Mardi Gras Massacre" then you know I can take or leave Maria Kanellis. Nothing against her personally as I'm sure she is a nice person. It's just that for a host I find her slight better than worthless. Considering I've just starting watching Scorpion Entertainment's uncut version of "Humongous" (review coming next week) and that it is hosted by the much better Katarina Leigh Waters it is quite obvious that not everyone has the natural talents to be a host. With that out of the way let us dive right into "Night of the Demon". Another long sought after low budget horror flick (before this official release the film was only available in so-so bootlegs) "Night of the Demon" was released in 1980 and is another film with the claim of being on the UK's "Video Nasty" list. At the start of the movie we are told that the source material is a 1 Inch master tape since a film print could not be found. The image is full screen and despite being shot on 16mm (and blown up to 35mm) the image is actually good. Not great mind you. Just good. As good as a movie made in 1980 on a shoe-string budget can get good.  On to the plot which despite the title has nothing to do with demons. "Night of the Crazed Bigfoot" would have been a better title but it is what it is. The plot as it is goes something like this- A professor and some students decide to go up into the mountains to investigate reports that a psychotic Bigfoot has gone on a LSD induced killing rampage! While that part about the LSD is made up for my amusement the film really is another "classic"  bonzo for Bigfoot film. Seems like the 70s and early 80s were filled with these sort of "Bogey Creek" inspired films. I'm guessing though that of all the low budget knock-offs none were as gory as this one. From Bigfoot swinging around a sleeping bag victim (wait, didn't we see some hockey mask killer do that once?) to a scene that had me covering my manhood (ouch is all I have to say!) the gore (while low budget) is pretty high. Throw in boobs and this is a pretty standard 80's horror flick all around! This movie though has to be one of the only Bigfoot films where you actually get a pretty good look at old Harry (Harry and the Hendersons joke) and let me say it isn't horrible. Sure it isn't CGI Bigfoot or anything. It's a rubber mask but for some filmmakers who didn't have a major studio backing them it isn't that bad. As far as the acting goes it is wooden with the only "star" being California Dream's Michael Cutt. The bonus material  includes three  movie trailers. While I have seen "The Hearse" (staring the wonderful Trish Van Dever-who I secretly had a crush on in my younger days for some reason) both "Killpoint" and "Lowblow"  are new to me. Both look promising in a sort of 70's cheese fest kind of way. So, do I recommend "Night of the Demon"? Yes, I do if only for those who love these kind of "shock" films. It isn't much on plot or for that matter logic but it is fun in a "six beers, a pizza and a night with friends" kind of way.


Debemur Morti Productions

Since much of  what appears on IHVI was composed between 2003-2004 and released already on their 2005 self-release album old fans might not find much here to get overly excited about. With maybe a better production job and the exception of "newer" tracks like  "The Flesh Begat"  (2008) and "Raising My Temples (2006) this is all older material and may or may not be a reflection of what these guys are all about now. For those of you new to this French band though black metal is the name of the game. Crusty black metal with what sounds like the cookie monster (possessed by what I would imagine is a horde of pissed-off demons) for a leader. The song titles and lyrics all point this one away from God if you catch my drift and there isn't much here that would appeal to anyone but the hardest of black metal fans. If dark and depressing is the way you view life these days then this might be the album for you.

Salem (UK)-New Recordings

Hairy Monster Recording

Sometime next week I hope to do a proper review of Salem's excellent compilation "In The Beginning...". In the meantime though I thought I'd do a quick write-up of their new recordings. Available at their website (link below) the new tracks (which were just released this November) include "Retribution", "This Heart Is Mine" and  "High Stakes" . Right of the bat let me just say "Retribution" and "High Stakes" are both killer heavy rock/metal numbers. "Retribution" reminded me a bit of what French band Trust were all about. Hard rock and heavy riffs set this number up to be a classic down the road. "High Stakes" is heavy as well. That said it has this really addictive classic rock vibe to it and had me hitting the repeat button a few times. So what of "This Heart Is Mine"? Obviously more mellow by way of the title it is still crunchy enough to make a mark with the melodic hard rock crowd. It is a well written number bringing to mind bands like Dokken as well as Tokyo Blade. The one thing about these three new recordings I really love is that they sound modern enough while having a real classic feel to them. Also the three new tracks could easily become "hits" with fans. With no filler or leftover riffs these numbers show a band that has matured with time away and could very likely have a new album that blows away people's expectations. If Salem release a new album that is even half as good as these three tracks then I can certainly see them get that fame that sadly eluded them the first time around! (Interview with Salem)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Interview with Salem (UK)

As many of you regular readers know by now I am a huge NWOBHM fan. With that said it is always a thrill for me to talk with various bands from the scene. Salem were a band that were considered to be part of the movement even if their sound had as much to do with rock as it did with heavy metal. Of course that was the great thing about the movement as some of the best bands were all different in style and sound. Despite never getting a proper release the first time around (Salem released several demos and a single in the early eighties) that has been rectified thanks to High Roller / Pure Steel Records. Could you possibly ask for a better compilation that Salem's "In The Beginning"? It collects the band's previous recordings and tacks on a bonus cut for good measure. Prior to it's release if you wanted to add Salem to your collection the only realistic thing to do would be to search for MP3s from the band. You'll understand why after reading the interview below. Let's just say that single alone was a bit of a rare one. With a nice booklet and 2 discs full of material "In The Beginning..." is a great addition to any serious NWOBHM collection or just those looking for some great rock/metal! By the way the band had to add the "(UK)" to the back of their name to avoid confusion with and to reduce conflict with the Israeli band of the same name. So, with all of that said recently I was able to talk with Salem's Paul Macnamara (guitars), Ade Jenkinson (bass) and Mark Allison (guitars). I want to thank the band for taking the time to sit down with Heavy Metal Time Machine and chat.

Andy: Let me start off by saying that Salem's latest material sounds killer. You were away from the scene for over 25 years. How does it feel seeing Salem back together after all that time?

Paul: It feels great to be playing together again. When I was approached to release our 1980s recordings - on what became the "In The Beginning..." album - we all got together (for the first time in over 25 years) for a chat and few beers [Mark: I think it was several!!] - ha, it was just like the old days. With the release of the album, the next thing was to play a gig. Starting our first rehearsal, we were a bit rusty but very soon we just "clicked" like we'd always been together. And, now with our first recordings in 28 years - and with more gigs in the pipeline - we really feel we're Salem again.

Mark: Yeah. Being back with the boys is great.

Ade: For me, it felt very strange and awkward at first - but not for long ! After a couple of days it felt like we had never been apart, all the old, old jokes and banter started coming out, but more importantly, the music was just as good as ever.

Andy: Salem was formed out of the ashes of NWOBHM cult act Ethel The Frog. What was it like to be featured on two of the most important NWOBHM compilations of all time? The "Metal for Muthas" compilations played such an important role in the development of the genre.

Ade: To be fair, none of the current members of Salem actually appeared on Metal for Muthas (although the current lineup is certainly the 'classic' lineup from the 80's). The two original founding members of Salem were ex-ETF, but they both left the band after a short time.

Paul: Yes, that’s true. However, when we were starting out, the fact that we had that heritage to build on, really gave us a certain gravitas - and is probably still important today.

Andy: You released your first demo in 1981 followed by the "Cold As Steel/Reach For Eternity" single in 1982. The current market value for that single is $120! That has to blow your mind eh?

Paul: I couldn't’t believe it at first! But since, we’ve seen one single sell for nearly $1000 on Popspike – and it’s also in the “Rare Record Price Guide”, which is really cool.

Ade: And I’ve seen another sell for $500 recently. It's amazing to think some people still care about the music we made back then.

Mark:  We only had 500 singles pressed, so I suppose it’s rare from that point of view. But what has got people really interested is the 25-or-so with a (so-called) "special sleeve."

What happened was: we’d had some posters printed with the 'demonic' image and Salem logo so that the lower section was blank for us to write - by hand - and advertise the upcoming gig(s). Now I was “in charge” of sending the singles out around the world, and after our last gig I still had a few of these 'blank' posters left over, so I sent out a few of the singles wrapped in the spare posters. I would never have guessed that these would be so sought-after!!

Andy: Even though you guys are considered to be a part of the NWOBHM scene you don't fit in with the Saxons/Iron Maidens of the genre. Your sound was more classic rock in nature. While it was hard and heavy it featured quite a bit of guitar rock and progressive moments. What were some of the influences that Salem drew from?

Ade: Sabbath, Rainbow, Led Zep, Hagar for me (at the time).

Paul: Yes, I’d totally agree with those. I was (and still am) keen to get the most out of using the two guitars – so for me, other great influences were Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash. And the more progressive hints, may well have been inspired by Rush, Kansas or Barclay James Harvest – but could well come from Brahms, Tchaikovsky or Borodin!

Mark: I was particularly influenced (and I suppose, I still am) by the likes of Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne (or more’s the point, Randy Rhodes), Extreme and Def Leppard (esp the Pyromania album)

Paul: I must say that we are very pleased to be considered part of the NWOBHM movement. I was a very important period in the development of hard/heavy rock/metal -whether it was the more thrash-style that echoed the energy of punk like the early Maiden, or the much more melodic rock of guys like Praying Mantis [did you know that Simon (Saxby) is good mates with them ?]. It was about being heavy AND creating music, at a time when the alternative was the New Romantics!

Andy: Does it bother you that you've had to take on the "UK" bit these days? You were the original Salem after all!

Ade: It's an annoyance - as you say, WE are Salem, but I guess it's a bit unreasonable to request the whole music fraternity to stay away from our name while we hibernate for 27 years.

Andy: The "In The Beginning" compilation does a great job of introducing people to Salem. My question is what took everyone so long to catch on to your sound?

Ade: We couldn't get a deal! How ironic that 27 years after the fact we now have what we always dreamed of back in the 80s!

Mark: It was great to have our 1980s music released on the “In The Beginning” album –I always dreamed of having double, gate fold album. You’ve got to remember that all that music was recorded and mixed-down in only four days! Now, we did play plenty of gigs and always rehearsed hard so we were able to record much of this music on the first take – it was basically recording the band live, and adding vocals and extra guitar lines afterwards – up to five songs in a day! Some of the recordings are stronger than others – but I suppose all albums are like that. It is interesting to see how Salem developed as a band, and in terms of musical ability and songwriting maturity, over a very short period. … and it’s awesome to see how well it has sold, too.

Andy: How did the compilation come together?

Paul: I have always played guitar and composed music. A few years ago, I started dabbling with some recording at home. At the suggestion of my brother Phil, I uploaded some of my music to MySpace - then also at his suggestion I also uploaded some of our Salem recordings. I was surprised that very soon people were listening to this music and subsequently I was contacted by a number of these, including High Roller Records who were keen to release all of the Salem recordings. So I worked with High Roller to put out the vinyl edition – and we linked up with Pure Steel Records for the CD version. I really enjoyed working on the album arrangement, the sleeve notes, and cover design – the record companies were very happy with these ideas. And you’ve got the final product in your hands!

Andy: Where you guys ever close to signing a contract with a label?

Ade: Sadly no.

Paul: Well, we visited a number of record companies – but only got the answer, “Yeah. It’s really good – but not quite what we’re looking for.”

Mark: I remember that we had some fun though - going down to London, having a few beers and sleeping on friends’ floors at night, and bothering these record companies in the day – but we got no contract.

Andy: With Salem re-formed now after all these years what are your new plans?

Paul: Well, after our first gig we all wanted to do more, so we decided that we would first record some new Salem music and arrange some select gigs. We’ve been delighted with the great reception to the new recordings – and we’ve started securing appearances at festivals in Europe, such as “Up The Hammers” in Greece, and the “Metal Forces Festival” in Germany. We’re now working on more new pieces, and looking for the next opportunities to play suitable gigs and festivals. Perhaps following bands like our friends Jaguar are doing. [Hey - I know that they're keen to play in the US too!]

Andy: I've already mentioned how solid the new material is. It is modern enough to appeal to today's young rock and heavy metal fans while still retaining that classic edge. Was it hard to just pick up and start again or did you find the magic was still there?

Ade: Frankly it was easy. Four of us are prolific songwriters and to be honest I will be surprised if the speed of recording ever catches up with the speed of the writing!

Paul: And I'm pleased that you feel our new music is appealing to today's rock fans too. Well, we all have kids and they are keen to keep us up-to-date, you know "Hey Dad, have you heard the album by So-And-So" or "You must go to see So-And-So - they're awesome." Whether it's Avenged Sevenfold or (I don't know ...), My Chemical Romance or Paramore. It's all cool!

Andy: Fill us in a little on what you were up to post-Salem.

Ade: Where do I start? Married, 4 kids, 9-5 job for many years, made redundant 3 years ago, went self employed, never looked back. In terms of music: Formed Kashmir with Simon, gigged and recorded in much the same way as Salem used to. After that, formed Mayfair with Simon, the music was a bit lighter, more melodic, managed to get a deal with Link Company based in France, recorded an album at the famous Marquee studios in Soho, regrettably it was never finished, due to the old chestnut of 'musical differences’. I continued Mayfair with another singer, John Lynas, and we self-released a vinyl EP. A couple of the Marquee tracks made it to the EP. I continued to keep my hand in, in terms of engineering and recording, working occasionally at various studios. Built my own studio last year, just in time to record Salem's new album!

Paul: Yeah. Got married, had two kids, gathered a bunch of professional and academic qualifications and tried to work up the corporate ladder until I too was repaid for my hard work and loyalty by being made redundant and like Ade, I set up my own consultancy. As I said, I’ve always played and composed music. I played in a function band (ha!) in the 1990s, and since then slowly got into my own recording. I currently teach some guitar, and play with a couple of local bands – great guys, good fun.

Mark: After Salem, I got qualified in Karate and opened a Martial Arts Academy. Then a few years later, I opened along side it, a weight's/fitness gym. I started bodybuilding and went on to compete and win a number of competitions, including Mr. Britain (light-heavy weight class)! Out side of the band, I am currently enjoying my work as a personal self-defense instructor/coach. I know that Simon and Paul (Mendham) have always carried on playing music. Paul has played in many bands (incl. supporting Michael Schenker and WASP) is now in Innersylum. Similarly with Simon, who now also plays in Deep Fix, and he also teaches guitar.

Andy: Does it feel as if the scene has changed much?

Ade: In some respects the scene has changed, there is not so much emphasis by the fans on the musicianship now, and the obligatory studded leather jackets are not so prevalent. On the other hand I haven't heard anything in terms of music that is giving rise to doubts about our ability and contemporary relevance - as you have already witnessed yourself after hearing our new material.

Paul: Yes. There are a lot of changes. Obviously, computers and the Internet have made a huge difference to how music is recorded, distributed, promoted, watched and listened to. This opens up so many more opportunities for us, and for all bands – although this brings greater competition too. But on that point though, I feel that this competition is now much more positive and helpful – we share links to our music on Facebook, MySpace, ReverbNation, etc, and then comment and “like” other people’s music too. Another point for me, is that people are generally much more receptive to a wider range of music styles – for example, when I was a kid you couldn't  like pop AND punk, and even within genres you couldn't  like Black Sabbath AND Deep Purple, or Yes AND Genesis (I hope that makes sense!). I feel that nowadays this more open and tolerant approach helps to promote a more mature and healthy attitude.

Andy: Is a new full-length album in the works for Salem?

Ade: Definitely! Watch this space!

Andy: And finally the stage is yours now. Last thoughts?

Ade: Salem is giving 5 old blokes a chance to add an extra angle to their lives once again. Whether we actually achieve any kind of success the second time around remains to be seen, but the main point is that we are all enjoying what we are doing, and I think you can hear that in the new material. While we are all enjoying it, I see no reason to stop, so keep looking out for us, you never know what may happen!

Mark: We’ve all matured (?) as people and musicians, and that really makes a difference!

Paul: We’ve been really pleased with the new music - the way the band is working together – and the massive interest in Salem all around the globe. I’d like to thank all our supporters joining us and playing our music – new and old –on our website ( as well as Facebook, MySpace, ReverbNation, etc. We are now recording more new music – as Ade said, we are working on a full album – and looking for the opportunities to play at the right events.Thanks again for the opportunity to talk with you. Looking forward to playing for you in the States!! \m/

Archgoat - Heavenly Vulva (Christ's Last Rites)

Debemur Morti Productions

At only 16 minutes in length there isn't much to this new Archgoat release. What can I say or add to the conversation that hasn't already been mentioned about this Finnish act? While this EP features just a small sampling of Archgoat's brand of blasphemous death/black sound it is still enough to leave a lasting impression. Moving from slow crushing doom to insane blast beats this three piece have put out another fine addition to their career that began back in 1989.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Metal Blade

I keep coming back to Whitechapel hoping there will be something about them that will click for me. This is a five track EP with one new track, a cover and some re-mixes. They open with the new song Section 8. It's typical for Whitechapel in that it's loud, simple and fairly routine. I have always wondered how a band this loud could be so dull, but they always fall into that trap. This song is a little better than others, but after two and a half minutes I've had enough of their one dimensional noise. Next up is a cover of Pantera's Strength beyond strength. It's okay, they try to put their own brand onto it, but they bogged down badly about 2/3 of the way through and the song painfully creeps to it's end. After that we get some really irritating re-mixes and I mean just excruciatingly awful versions. As if Whitechapel original versions were not bad enough these version twist and bend them in with sounds that remind like a malfunctioning machinery mixed in with the sounds a dying cow might make. Just a totally misguided mess. So we get two mediocre tracks and three really bad ones. Don't bother with this one.

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The history of Careless goes back around 25 years. While attending college three friends Edward James Collins (Dirty Looks), Walt Kosar and Nolan Ayres were writing and recording some original music. Over 20 years later the three decided to get back together to record again. Some of the songs on this album were written over twenty years ago and others were written recently and you would be hard pressed to figures out which ones were which. All of the tracks have a classic metal sound to them. I hear Iron Maiden, early Queensryche, Armored Saint and others. Plenty of other bands try to resurrect the classic metal sound. Many miss the spirit and come up short. Careless have the spirit, the sound and manage to connect on every level. On the twelve songs here I kept thinking there had to be some filler, but nope every song is powerful. Real metal with some melodies plus strong vocals and steady playing. If it wasn't for great production you might believe this was some long lost gem from 1983 or 1984. Definitely worth a listen.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Blut Aus Nord-777 - The Desanctification

Debemur Morti Productions

Blut aus Nord (which translates from German as "Blood from the North") hail from Mondeville, Calvados, France and are another one man black metal outfit. With all all instruments handled by the excellent Vindsval (originally he went under the name "Vlad") two demos made the rounds before opting for the name change. 1995 saw the release of "Ultima Thulée". The first full-length studio album by Blut aus Nord, it established them as a force within the genre. As with many other black metal bands though there was obviously a strong desire to branch out and incorporate other elements and sounds. To that end Blut aus Nordin has incorporated avant-garde elements into its music as well as industrial leanings. As such the band has been seen as many as true innovators in the extreme metal market. By the time 2003 rolled around Blut aus Nord were leaders in the black market field thanks in no small part to the excellent "The Work That Transforms God". Now with "777 - The Desanctification" Blut aus Nord have unleashed another album of sinister sounds that helps to transcend the all too common black metal sound into something innovative. It won't be for your average heavy metal listener as rarely does this type of "band" crossover with no mainstream sound. Yet for those who see black metal as music of passion this French band will leave no doubt just how remarkable they are.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Forgotten Gems: Dead On-Dead On


By the late eighties record labels had signed just about any band that was sort of thrash. Thanks to the popularity of the "Big Four" and thrash in general there were bands like Dead On who were snagged up, signed for an album or two and then sadly dumped like yesterdays garbage for the next big thing. The only thing is with Dead On you didn't really have a true thrash band. Sure that album cover might lead you to believe that this one was some sort of Death Angel or Forbidden type of band. Truth is Long Island, New York's Dead On were more like Metal Church than Metallica. Raised no doubt on bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (or really even NWOBHM band Raven) here was a band that sometimes acted like a thrash band but were more in line with power metal. A good starting point would be the technical thrash of Megadeth. Dead On seem to get lumped in with Dave and the boys quite often. But here the sound also brings to mind Overkill, Meliah Rage and even a more beefy Metal Church. There is power metal riffs, left-over NWOBHM parts and a nasty punk outlook to be found on Dead On's only full-length album. While for most people the band are remembered for having their song “Different Breed” appear on the soundtrack to 1990's horror film "Shocker" (along with Megadeth, Alice Cooper, etc) Dead On were a more than capable band that for better or worse got caught up in the whole thrash craze and when it died so did they. They did manage a EP in 1991 called "All Four You" but after that it looks as if the band just disappeared like so many other heavy metal acts of old. Since this album has yet to see a re-release it is a rare treat. Hopefully someone will come along and see just what Dead On was getting on about and re-issue it for today's generation of metal fans. Something tells me Dead On could find a home with today's listeners.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Forgotten Gems-The Brainz-Elementary Monster/Terra

Self produced

Back around 1988 I was ordering JFA albums from Placebo records. I saw this 7" from some band called The Brainz in their short catalog. I ordered a copy with the motivating factor being that in only cost like a buck or two. I got my package of stuff and I remember this was the last album I played from that package, but it ended up being my favorite. This 7" was recorded in 1979 and it's pretty wild. Frequently lumped in with the punk scene, but it's more than that. There's a definite early Sabbath influence, but both songs are just frantic mixes of early
70's fuzz rock and punk attitude. Yet even that description doesn't completely do these songs justice. Unfortunately this was the total recorded output from The Brainz. They released it themselves but Placebo Records would end up selling it into the mid-80s. The band consisted of Wayne Frost, Doug Clark, Clark Stokes, Joe Albanese, and John Stewart. Wayne, Doug and Joe would all later end up in Mighty Sphincter. Although that band had a far more theatrical image, their music wasn't nearly as interesting as this album.

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Clash of the album covers

Here you go.

Sinister Realm-The Crystal Eye


Twisted Tower Dire-Make it dark

***Which cover do you prefer?

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Hatecore Inc-Rise Above All


Released late last year Rise Above All is an album filled with anger, sorrow, darkness, despair and suffering. Not one to mince words the band lays out how they feel with opening songs like "Wish You Were Dead" and "I Kill You". I don't know enough about what drove this Akron- based band into the darkness but one can imagine their surroundings didn't help. I've said it before and will say it again that Akron and Cleveland are two places where there is hurt to be found in bucket loads. Society in general has always pushed the underdog into a corner but life in places like Akron only looks to make it all the more tough. With Hatecore Inc. you have a band that has been raised on hardcore acts like Hatebreed and Throwdown as well as the hostel metal of Pantera. It all ends up boiling over into rage and there is no question that vocalist James Barrett is another lost voice of hopelessness crying out to be heard above all the static noise. Crying out really isn't quite right as James has more of an old school hardcore attack going for him. He grabs hold of your throat and shoves songs down your throat. The rest of the band plays like post-Sabbath loving punks thrashing about like feral dogs looking for their next meal. If you can get past the awful album art what awaits you is something not quite hardcore thrash in the strictest sense of the term but more like streetcore from the sewer.

Black Sabbath To Reunite For New Album And 2012 World Tour

Black Sabbath announced on Friday that after 33 years they plan to reunite for a new album and a world tour in 2012. Since April is still a good 5 months away this appears to be legit. So the question remains can the four of them truly put out a real Black Sabbath album or will we be awarding a Golden Turkey award this time next year for the LP? Thoughts?

Dead-Hardnaked...but Dead

FDA Rekotz

Gore porn death metal maniacs Dead are quite the trip. With rotted tongue firmly planted in sawed apart cheek these guys bring to mind bands like Autopsy and Pungent Stench only with more of an eye toward getting your "groove thing" on. Obviously this one isn't going to appeal to everyone but for those of you with a brutal and sick sense of humor Dead are just what you need to get your daily does of poison. Ten tracks of slash and burn grind/death await those who dare crack open this crypt.

Five things in metal that I am thankful for in 2011

Obviously I have been inspired by my fellow co-writer and friend to think about what I am most thankful for this year. So, with that and without taking away any thunder from Mark's post (which has always been a great idea) here are five of the things I am most thankful for in metal. Just like Metal Mark's post these are in no real order.

This year has seen many great bands from day's of old come together to release not only new albums but in my mind comeback albums. We have seen top notch new releases this year from bands like Hell, Exxplorer and Death Mask. We have also seen older bands release killer albums out of the blue (Bitch's Sin, Saxon and Satan's Host) and long lost bands like Ear Danger and Wolf/Kruizer get their proper due thanks to vinyl re-releases. As a fan of eighties metal and the NWOBHM scene it has been wonderful seeing so many older bands get a second chance.

Speaking of vinyl releases I am thankful for smaller labels that take the time to craft amazing sets for bands that only a select few knew about it the first place. Again bands like Hell, Ear Danger and Wolf/Kruizer were given great releases on LPs showing that no matter what people still want to collect these great pieces of entertainment. With multi-colored releases it has been a great year to be a record collector.

One band that just keeps on trucking year after year showing no signs of slowing down is Motorhead. Despite the fact that they have pretty much released the same album every year for the past couple of years they are if nothing else consistent. With many of our favorite bands of yesteryear taking strange detours (Metallica for example with everything from "St. Anger" to "Lulu") its so good to see a band that plays for themselves and the fans without every trying to go with the times or get to artsy for their own good. The day Motorhead finally calls it a career with be a sad one indeed.

This year I have also had the opportunity to meet some amazing local bands like The Approach and the Execution. I've also had the extreme pleasure of reviewing material from insanely talented local bands from all across America like Trustkill Vision. With these up and coming bands and their passion for the art of heavy metal the genre is in good hands for years to come!

Finally I am most thankful for Mark and this website. Until I started writing for Heavy Metal Time Machine I had no idea the amount of hard work and preparation that goes into writing columnes every week for a website. For all the abuse we receive I still wouldn't trade this opportunity for the world. In a year that has seen me lose my wife and best friend after 17 years and my house I don't know what I would have done without this site and Mark's friendship. It is amazing how much listening to and writing about heavy metal with your friends can help you move past the heartache of separation and shattered dreams. In a world that has been tossed upside down for me this site has been my one constant (other than my friends, parents and two wonderful kids!) and I can't ever begin to thank Metal Mark enough for that!

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's coming up?

For this week we hope to have out reviews of albums by Archgoat, Blut Aus Nord, Whitechapel, Rex Mundi, Careless, The Dog Divine, Dead, Sun through a telescope and Cirith Ungol. Plus NWOBHM Wednesday, Forgotten Gems, Clash of the album covers, Movie reviews, interview with Salem and hopefully Mr. T will tackle one of the worst albums of the last decade in another Reviews for suckas.

***Have a great week!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Top 5 favorite metal best ofs/greatest hits/anthologies


Now I am definitely a whole studio album kind of guy. I feel like any metal band that's worth their weight recorded their studio albums for you to hear and take in all of those songs in that order. That's why best ofs/greatest hits and anthologies don't appeal to me so much. However back in my younger days when I was just getting into bands these kind of albums were a great way to be introduced to a band and there are several of these albums that really made an impression on me. Here are my top five in no real order.

Motorhead-No Remorse
The anthology came out just as the band was putting together the four man line-up that would record "Orgasmatron" two years later. For this album we got a great blast of Motorhead's then relatively short past plus a couple of tracks with the new line-up. Killer anthology.

KISS-Double Platinum
KISS had plenty of faults, but this collection had a lot of their best songs on it. They have always been about making a buck, but at least back then they at least sounded like they were having fun and brought us along for the ride.

Ted Nugent-Great Gonzos! The best of Ted Nugent
This one was frequently found in the bargain bins of most department stores in the mid-1980's and because of that reason it became my introduction to one of the craziest performers of our time. Great collection that I still play fairly often.

Black Sabbath-We sold our soul for rock 'n' roll
Black Sabbath lasted for a long time through numerous lione-up changes and they churned out many albums. However I hear the name Black Sabbath and I think of the first six albums because they are essential Sabbath. This collection pulls songs from those classic albums.

Alice Cooper-Alice Cooper's Greatest hits
Like with Sabbath and KISS, Alice Cooper had a short period that was definitely the peak for this band. For Alice it was with original band and lasted from Love it to death through Muscle of love. It has some of their more accessible songs and less of the quirky and odd tracks, but it's still a fine collection with a great cover to boo.

***Be sure to add in any that you like.

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The Rotted-Ad Nauseam

Candlelight Records

The Rotted are an English death metal band formed in early 2008. Now just like Frankenstein's monster was assembled from various body parts this monster was also put together from various death parts. The Rotted in fact were formed from the ashes of death metal / grindcore act Gorerotted (by ex-members Ben McCrow, Tim Carley and Phil Wilson) along with ex-Cradle Of Filth, Christian Death, Screamin' Daemon guitarist Gian Pyres and ex-Screamin' Daemon drummer Nate Gould. The group's debut album, "Get Dead Or Die Trying" was a fusion of death metal and punk earning The Rotted some positive press. In between their debut album and 2010's "Anarchogram" (a self-funded, self-released EP that featured two new songs and four bonus covers) The Rotted chose to tour like crazy and build up a sizable following. All of that brings us now to The Rotted and their newest album "Ad Nauseam". With Ben McCrow on vocals the rest of the band is currently filled out by guitarist Tim Carley, drummer Nate Gould and bass guitarist Rev. Trudgill. With producer Russ Russell (Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir, The Wildhearts, The Exploited and Evile to name just a few) on board The Rotted have unleashed a proper follow-up to "Get Dead or Die Trying". More of the same is never a bad thing when your talking about punk drenched death metal and this album has that well-loved genre down pat. 11 tracks of death n' punk make up this new album and man if there isn't a charm to be found in newer bands dusting off what made Entombed so awesome to begin with. It's got as much punk grove as it has early death metal swing so take it for what it is. Like moshing it up like a crazy punk while banging out to old school death? The Rotted should work wonders for you then.