Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Resolutions


Now these are from me and just for this blog. I think I wrote some last year, but I am not even going to look to see what they were because I may be writing the same thing again this year. Still it applies again in 2012.

-I will be honest in all of my reviews. Expect it. I am not writing these to be liked, I write reviews to tell how I feel about an album. However if I find problems I will offer reasons why I felt that way. I never bash an album just for the sake of bashing it although had some thin skinned artists accused of me that before.

-I will try to write several reviews per week. Having Andy write here has helped because he is far more consistent at getting reviews than I am. I have no excuses for that, but I do hope to stick to getting several reviews done per week.

-If you write something nasty about a review we wrote then that's great. I welcome it. I post every comment I get unless it contains spam or links to illegal downloads. However if you rip us for something you don't agree with then give some reasons for why you think we are wrong. If you write something nasty and don't give reasons why you disagree or your reasons are something like "you are an idiot" or "you must be deaf" then I respond in a not so nice manner. Opinions I respect, but have some good reasons for your views. I love to debate about music, but if you post a comment talking like a jackass then I'll give you the response you deserve.

-I hope to continue to be as objective as possible when reviewing music. I review all kinds of metal, hard rock and punk rock. I give it all a chance, but I have my favorite styles. Still I hope to continue to be as objective as possible when reviewing any and all material.

There you go, hope you keep coming back in the New Year.

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2012-The year of big releases or big busts?

I'lll be honest with you I read a lot of music blogs and music sites. I look at numerous sites almost every day. However it's always to read reviews both past and present. I rarely look at any kind of music news site. So I don't keep up very well with what new album are coming out unless the link is sent to me review it. However recently I heard some buzz about veteran bands who have albums due out in 2012. Now before I get into that, I have to say that 2011 saw some fine releases from some veteran acts including Alice Cooper, Saxon, Megadeth and U.D.O. However some of the acts who have new albums on the horizon next year may not be as promising. I am going to briefly breakdown a few and give you my initial predictions for these.


Black Sabbath- Okay, so the original line-up is back together again and an album is finally supposed to happen next year. The Heaven and Hell album with the late RJD on vocals was quite mediocre. That was surprising considering Dio had been so consistent in his band. So I wonder how many ideas Iommi and Butler really have left? Add into that instead of a steady performer like Dio they now have to prop up Ozzy and hope whoever mixes this album can make what comes out of his mouth sound like words you can actually understand. Good luck with that. Maybe the music pulls it over and there is some magic left, but I doubt it.

KISS-Oh, look the kings of merchandise actually decided to record some music instead of issues more action figures and shower curtains with their logos on it. Although you know when the album comes out there will another onslaught of merchandise coming out to coincide with the album's release. Sonic Boom was above average and plenty of silly KISS fans ate the junk up like 1977 again. Really it was just a re-hash of their old style. It was better than most of what they have done in the last almost thirty years, but nothing special. I expect the next album to be another round of the same old thing as well.

Aerosmith-Remember the last time Aerosmith put out a good album? Yes, I have to think about that. Uh, well it's been a long time. Their last really good album was back when I was in grade school and I am over 40. So does anyone really care that these guys are putting out a new album? Probably not.

Judas Priest-Now a new Priest album should be a good thing because for so long they were one of the leaders of the scene. However things have changed. Two poor albums with Ripper Owens at the helm tarnished the good name Judas Priest. Yet we all thought when Halford came back that they would be back on track. Instead it got even worse. Two ridiculously terrible albums ensued. This band still acts like they think they are still the metal gods. Well it's been over twenty years since they have done a good album. Most of the material Halford has done outside of Priest since the early 90's has been decent to good. However with Priest it's been different matter. Now KK Downing is out and the band has promised ( or threatened) to release a new album next year. My hopes are that they get back to basics, forget about epics and concept albums and just crank out a solid metal album. I think they may have it in them, but the badness of their recent album has me dreading what kind of crap they will conjure up next year.

Van Halen-This one is a better to gauge just because no one involved had recorded much of anything in some time. Neither Roth or the brothers Van Halen have done anything remotely decent since the 90's and even that's debatable. Their reunion tour generally received positive reviews a few years ago. However can that translate to the studio? Are we going to get the natural follow-up to 1984 or re-hashed garbage that will make us wish Roth hadn't returned? Logic would say the second choice. However, I don't if it's because I am a fan and have some hope or what, but whatever the reason I think there is a glimmer of hope for this one. Not a lot of hope and I wouldn't be surprised if it stunk like a mound of garbage under the August sun. Still I think maybe these guys find some magic and release an alright album. We'll have to wait see.


Primal Fear-Unbreakable

Frontiers Records

Since I wasn't too impressed by Ralf Scheepers last solo album I honestly expected "Unbreakable" to be the same sort of release. Instead I must admit that this German power metal band sounds good here. It has to have something to do with the rest of Primal Fear's players because "Unbreakable" is some nice straightforward speed/power metal with just enough of that glossy European style of power metal to make it enjoyable. As a one time potential replacement for Rob Halford in Judas Priest the skill is obviously there with Ralf Scheepers. Formed in 1997 by the former Gamma Ray vocalist and bassist/vocalist Mat Sinner the band has become one of the most well known European power metal acts. With eight studio albums to their name Primal Fear has remained a rather reliable band. While they might never break from the mold of what made them so good at least one knows what to expect. I know I should have expected that "Unbreakable" would be something heavy and worthwhile with the group's track record. There is a reason Primal Fear is one of the most respected German metal bands out there. All "Unbreakable" does is add to the group's impressive catalog.

Friday, December 30, 2011

What's coming up?

Next week (the first week of the New Year) we hope to have out reviews of albums by Primal Fear, Orange Goblin, Poison Idea, Patrick Hemer, Nails, Skin like iron, Wizard's Beard, My life's Burden, (drama), Necrotic and maybe more.

So party responsibly, watch football and get ready for 2012.

***Have a great week!

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Macabra-Blood Nurtured Nature


Macabra is the joint project between Belgian vocalist Adrien 'Liquifier' Weber and American illustrator and multi-instrumentalist Mark Riddick. This is highly influenced by old style death bands like Asphyx and Death. The style is extremely basic and the production borders on a bare bones variety. If it wasn't for the volume and the production on the vocals then this album might pass as some long lost demo from around 90-91. That sound has both positive and negative traits. The vocals certainly capture a ferocious style that relies on deep, thick vocals. Plus the vocals even have some variation that helps to add some much needed depth. The music is far more one dimensional at times. They keep the pace going and the music never sits gliding on one tempo for too long, However the guitars often lack the heaviness needed even when the speed picks up. The results are that some of the tracks sound a bit thin and I certainly found my eyes checking the running time to see how much more I had to listen to. I admire their dedication to adhere to a retro style and they capture some of the spirit of the style. Yet they never manage to capture the power and steady attacks that defined the best bands of this style say twenty years ago. Plus they never really add any of their own ideas. Which makes this at best a slightly above average effort with a few sparks here and there.

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The cover of this album from US outfit Immolith just screams out black metal in large, growling tones and indeed in this case you can judge a book (or album) by it's cover. This old style black metal owing much to 90's acts. So expect swirling rhythms intermingled with bludgeoning attacks and occasional mid-tempo marches bridging the gaps. The music is frequently relentless and they benefit from throwing out chaotic passages and just changing up the tempo frequently. The vocals are of the sore throat growling variety. However they are slightly low in the mix on several songs and this robs them of some of the power they could have had. Most of the songs are around 4-5 minutes in length and the band manages to keep the momentum going throughout. The only complaint I have is that this has been before and that's where it's difficult for a band like this to establish their identity. Everything they do they pull off well enough, but it's hard to find a reason to listen to this band instead of listening to 90's acts they are influenced by. However they do enough to prove how tight and focused they are. So hopefully they keep at it and the next time around they work on developing some of their own ideas and working them into the solid foundation thy have already created.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Trucker Diablo-The devil rhythm


Ripple Music

I received this disc a few weeks ago. I don't if it was due to the holidays or just laziness on my part, but whatever the reason I didn't get around to taking the plastic off it today. So today the weather in my area didn't get above 40 degrees, but when I put this disc into my car stereo it sure melted away the chill. They have some big nasty riffs at their disposal. However this isn't the straight ahead total rawk fest I was figuring it might be. There are definitely some 70's and 80's influences mixed in there from AC/DC to ZZtop. However they are display a knack for writing some catchy choruses and they easily use the melodic approach needed to really put this off as you can hear in tracks like "Rattlehead" and "Big truck". Now don't read that last part as a weakness because they can still still stomp you flat with massive storms of gritty rock like Juggernaut (with Ricky Warwick of Thin Lizzy) and "Drink beer, destroy". Almost every song is the kind where you here it once and it seems like and old favorite right away. I guess that is due to the fact that this band knows the correct buttons to press to get and keep your attention. Trucker Diablo have managed to put out a selection of tracks that proudly disblay their spectacular writing skills and they have the chops to pull the songs off as well.

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Forgotten Gems: Alternative Attack - No Turnin' Back

Loony Toons Records

This three-track EP would prove to be the only release for punk thrash three-piece Alternative Attack. Formed in the mid-1980s the band would change their name to Destroy Babylon after this sole release. Seeing as this one was supposedly only released on 7" vinyl digital downloads are the only option for those seeking this somewhat crossover band. The band is mostly known for featuring Spike T. Smith (or Spikey) on vocals and drums. For those who don't know drummer Spikey played with English Dogs and Sacrilege. I have the blog site "Who Killed ET?" to thank for this EP. Really it isn't much more that just raw thrash with a punk streak and yet for crossover fans and those that appreciate the sounds of punk metal this is a fun little album. With a total playing time of only 07:22 things are over with before they even start sadly. Just when your getting into some seriously fun basement thrash the EP wraps up. It is a shame this is all we have of Alternative Attack. For whatever reason it seems like these sort of bands and releases were a dime a dozen in the 80s. Still it is a nice little trip back in time to a world where punk and thrash were not that far apart and bands like this were doing their best to unite different fans.

Beyond The Bridge-The Old Man & The Spirit

Frontiers Records

Beyond The Bridge is a German band that was started in 1999. Originally going by the name of Fallout things looked promising for the young group. Before long though the band would dissolve. This was partly due to the fact that the band members were all still in school. With their university studies and professional careers awaiting Fallout was put on hold until 2005. At that point guitarist Peter Degenfeld-Schonburg decided to revive the band and work on a project he called "The Old Man and The Spirit". Without giving too much away this concept album deals with the search for meaning and how one man transcends this world into a higher realm. Pretty heavy stuff indeed and yet it is all handled in such a professional manor that one can't help but feel transfixed by the journey. Musically this is progressive metal with an opera mindset. Male and female vocals share the stage and frankly the whole affair is a stunning achievement. Even for a label like Frontier Records this is classy stuff and obviously it won't appeal to everyone. For those with a sense of adventure and a willingness to let the music soak in the end result is rewarding indeed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011



Chicago's Degradation have been around for a decade, but their total output is an EP in 2007 and this full length. Their style is very much of the Bay area variety with Exodus, Testament and Vio-lence are major influences. They have a tight style with quite a few pace changes. They certainly get beyond a basic approach on every song. There is more of a technical leaning to their approach than their is a straight ahead steamroller type of attack. However the music is heavy enough and they mix their tempo changes in with solid thrash blasts. The vocals of Alex Manske fall a bit short for me as he alternates between a talking style and a slight barking sound. However he lacks the force and variation that would really fit with the music. Every track here is decent, but certainly not anything that you didn't hear twenty plus years ago by more memorable bands. These guys show enough promise enough to keep me interested. However I hope they work at developing their own sound to add into the mix and the vocals need to be stronger for this band to really get to the next level.

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77-High Decibels


Everyone has their influences and some are more obvious than others. Then on occasion you get a band who flat out just tries to copy a more established band. In more recent years this trend has become more commonplace. 77 have done just on their sophomore album as try emulate 70's AC/DC. That of course has been done by acts before as along with Black Sabbath, I would AC/DC are one of the two most copied hard rock/metal bands of all time. It's not just the simple riffs of Angus Young and the vocal stylings of Bon Scott that 77 try to copy, but even the tones and the production attempts to make this album sound as though it were recorded around oh, 1977 of course. They get pretty much no originality points for doing this. However I like Bon Scott era AC/DC and as far as that goes they do a far better job of copying it than do bands like Rhinobucket and Airbourne. They hit the pumping groove lead tracks like "Gimme a dollar", but what really impressed we was they sounded even better on slower tracks like "Let's beat it up" and "Since you've been gone". I think that last part shows that 77 have a good grip on what made early AC/DC so special. That is not just the riffs, but the attitude and the control and patience to really build the song up. Vocalist/rhythm guitarist Armand Valeta tries to be Bon Scott and he's decent singer, but not original because of course there was only one Bon Scott. Still this album is fine effort and better than anything the real AC/DC has done in a long time.

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So Is The Tongue-a Child of Divorce

Nefarious Industries

I've always found experimental rock to be an odd description. It makes me think of some mad scientist taking rock and rock and doing illegal experiments on it. It is also a rather loose term. Really it can mean anything and lets face it when you don't know how to describe a band's sound it is a easy way out. All of that brings us to New Jersey-based experimental rock outfit So Is The Tongue. As the group looks to release their sophomore LP, "A Child Of Divorce" I find myself as a loss how to describe it. It truly is experimental rock as these New Jersey musicians grab blindly from various genres to create a very odd creature. Post-rock, jazz, folk, and progressive metal all get pulled into the picture and frankly it is all rather confusing. A better term for the group might be post-rock as "A Child Of Divorce" hits quite a few of those familiar chords. Even so that doesn't do a proper job with describing So Is The Tongue. The best I can do is suggest you check out this band for yourself. It is all so odd and yet maybe you the reader can make sense of it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mollo/Martin-The Third Cage

Frontiers Records

Mollo/Martin (formerly The Cage) is a heavy metal project made up of former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin and Italian guitarist/producer Dario Mollo. "The Third Cage" is really the 3rd album from The Cage. While both "The Cage" and "The Cage 2" were well received by the press and fans this is the first time I had heard the collaboration. As I am a Tony Martin fan I was looking forward to hearing "The Third Cage". Now honestly I have to say I found the album hit or miss and since I've never heard the previous two albums I can't say if this is something new or the way this outfit has worked out. For the record album opener "Wicked World" is pure heavy metal not unlike something out of the Black Sabbath/Dio hard rock camp. The same could be said for "Wardance" really. Now since Dario Mollo handles guitars, bass and keyboards the music is solid if nothing remarkable. He is backed up by drummer Roberto Gualdi, bassist Fulvio Gaslini and two additional keyboard players in Dario Patti and Brian War. The whole group gels rather well even if the album does sound quite like every other Frontiers Records release at times. In the end the album is as stated earlier hit or miss. Production wise there are not any problems as everything is clear for the most part. It is just that nothing here really reaches out and catches hold of you in the end. Not a bad record by any means just a rather standard hard rock/melodic rock affair from a record label that is flooded with similar acts.

Grigori 3-"Inferno" Single

Dark Star Records

I'm never quite sure what sort of promos will show up in my Inbox. On any given day you can get flooded with various requests from bands, promoters, PR folks and upstart Record Labels. I'm not quite sure what to make of this one honestly. From what I have been able to gather this single has been out now for a month or so. Certainly this is something interesting and different from Dark Star Records. "Inferno" is the latest single from this young Chicago band. Apparently the band has been a big hit among the goth and industrial crowd and has had plenty of write-ups in alternative music magazines. Based on web research it sounds as if their early work fit into a sort of goth/industrial/alternative rock area with only a slight hint of heavy metal here and there. On “Inferno” the obvious point of reference would be Amy Lee and her work with Evanescence. You've got a song not too far removed from said rock band only with a heavier edge and more intimating approach. Supposedly the group's sophomore album “On Your 6” (due in the stores in 2012) will focus more on the their heavy metal roots.The band has been working with Grammy nominee producer Matt Mercado in an effort to showcase more that metal edge and draw in legions of new fans. "Inferno" is one of those songs that should appeal to the goth metal crowd while also drawing in those who enjoy heavier rock radio. Hopefully I'll be able to snag a copy of "On Your 6" when it hits stores as I'm always interested in finding new alternative rock bands that embrace their heavy metal roots.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What's coming up?

I hope to have reviews of albums by Orange Goblin and Patrick Hemer out in the next day.
For next week we hop to have out reviews of albums by Primal Fear, 77, Mollo/Martin, Degradation, Beyond the bridge, Immolith, So is the to tongue, Macabra and Trucker Diablo.
Plus Forgotten Gems and more.
***Have a great week!

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Majestic Downfall-The Blood Dance

Chaos Records

Majestic Downfall is a one man doom death project from multi-instrumentalist and composer Jacobo Córdova (Ticket to Hell, Antiqua, Zombiefication). While the album does feature a guest guitar solo from Roberto Granados (Denial, The Suffering) and a partial studio drummer "The Blood Dance" is all the vision of Jacobo. On the Majestic Downfall's sophomore release things might start off all peaceful (thanks to a deceiving intro) but soon they dissolve into a nightmare of dread and utter despair. Jacobo has obviously suffered the ills of his own inner demons as "The Blood Dance" is a desperate reach for some sort of peace. He never achieves it as "The Blood Dance" marks one man's slow descent into madness. Doom death is a hard genre to tackle if only for the reason that it can end up as a pitiful mess. Majestic Downfall avoids those dangers by making this sophomore album both dreadful and inviting.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Iron Savior-The landing

iron saviour


For me power metal is a genre that's normally hit or miss for me. If a band gets too caught in lofty passages I normally say forget it. However they remember their metal roots and do more of a mix of metal and soaring melodies then I can normally get into it. Fortunately the latest album from Iron Savior certainly falls into the second category. This is old hat for these guys because they have been around for 15 years. However this is there their first album in four years which is the longest gap they have had between albums during their career. This is a slight upgrade from 2007's Megatropolis. The songs here are pure metal at their core and they just add in melodies and even some fast surgin passages as well. This style has been done before, but they do it very well. They bring a steady stream of strong riffs and heavy beats. Even a song with cheesy lyrics like "Heavy metal never dies" sounds splendid from Iron Savior because they know that forceful music and vocals can make it work. This album turned out so well because the band just forges ahead and you go with them. The only negative thing I can say about it is I wish that I heard it two weeks ago because it may have made my lsit for best album of 2011.

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Top Of the Heap: Scorpions

Andy says-

Its mind boggling to think that the Scorpions were formed back in 1965. When you consider that fact and that they also didn't start out as a heavy metal band then the transformation that took place over the course of six albums is amazing. "Lovedrive" was released in 1979 and proved to be the start of the group's transformation into more of a radio-friendly style of heavy metal. With Uli Jon Roth quiting the group UFO's Michael Schenker returned to the fold for what would prove to be the band's most metallic offering. The disc kicks off with the stomper "Loving You Sunday Morning" followed by the cut "Another Piece of Meat". Both of these tracks are pure 70's heavy metal and classic Scorpion tunes. I love the title track as well. It sounds like something UFO would write even though it wasn't written by Michael Schenker. Speaking of UFO the instrumental "Coast to Coast" is another song that sounds remarkably similar to Schenker's earlier band. Changing gears somewhat "Is There Anybody There?" is a song that doesn't get enough airplay even though it stands well on its own. Yes it is a tad odd structure wise and yet I love the song regardless. The fantastic "I Can't Get Enough" is a song I can't get enough of and I even dig the song "Holiday". Sure it is a ballad and more or less started the trend of having all of these slow songs on their albums. But it is what it is and frankly it is a damn fine ballad. I can't forget about "Always Somewhere". This is another tune that few Scorpion fans know of and yet the arrangement is top notch. All in all "Lovedrive" is just a killer hard rock album and one of the band's most consistent LPs.


Metal Mark says-

This is a tough choice. I would say that anything between "Virgin Killer" and "Love at first sting" would be a good choice for their best album as I think that was their real prime. I go back and forth between "Lovedrive" and "Blackout", but usually it's the latter. I was first introduced to the Scorps via the radio around 83-84 as they were frequently played on my local channel and I actually I think they still are. No surprise there because alongs with the likes of Motorhead I would say that the Scorps are on of if not the most consistant metal bands of all time. There is a certain formula to their music although to the extent of say AC/DC. There sound has changed some depending on what guitarist was teamed up with Rudy Schenker at the time. However for me "Blackout" is the ultimate combination of heavy rockers, steady stompers and solid slow tracks. These guys were always ahead of the curve in many ways. One example of that is while I may cringe when many hard rock/metal bands did a ballad, that normally didn't happen with this band. Even most of their ballads were cool because they were talented enough to know that slow song could still be tough if you didn't wrap it in silly sappy nonsense. Now I feel the need to pull out some of these albums again and give them the playing time that they deserve.

***What is your favorite Scorpions album?

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Dies Irae-Secret Veils of Passion

Chaos Records

Let me start off by saying that this is not the Polish death metal Dies Irae or any of the other dozen plus bands to opt for this name. Instead this is the Mexican version. Any band that plays "melodic dark death metal" (so says the Encyclopedia Metallum site) is worth a listen even if said band seems to have started out as some sort of post-metal/post-rock project. What could best be described as standard melodic death metal flirts with progressive touches resulating in a rather standard production. Formed in 1994 and disbanded in 2002 (only to reform again) this Dies Irae doesn't offer anything new at all though. The album isn't a drag or anything. It has moments when things look promising. It is only that feeling like you've heard it all before and that when you did hear it things were done better. A decent enough release.

Blood Mortized-Bestial

Chaos Records

Swedish death metal on a Mexican metal label? The world is a crazy place. What we have here is four tracks of old school death from a band made up of members of Crypt Of Kerberos, Amon Amarth, Malfeitor and Stigmata. Nothing more and nothing less. I wouldn't break down doors to snag this EP but then again I wouldn't pass it up as a stocking stuffer for the holidays either.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Forgotten Gems-Deathrow-Deception Ignored


I first heard Germany's Deathrow on their 1986 debut Satan's Gift/Riders of doom and enjoyed it. I was huge in the thrash at the time and this album filled that need. It was basic German Thrash not far off from what Kreator and Sodom were doing around the time. The next year Deathrow released Raging Steel and the band sounded even heavier and tighter. By 1988 the band was on to it's third album. Again there is a progression, but perhaps it doesn't follow a course that everyone thought they follow. It's still thrash, but instead of just going in one speed they mix it up. The styles and the tempo receive some changes and the band handles this approach with expert hands despite the fact the previous albums were far more basic. They show great technical skill that the other albums never really hinted at. There are three tracks here that are over seven minutes a piece yet they fill the time with as much sound as they can. Now don't think for a minute that technical and progressive elements take away from the heaviness of this album. I have heard that argument stated in reviews by people who obviously did not have a clue. This is still killer thrash only you get even more ideas and changes mixed in. They sound great from the pounding of "The Deathwish" to the swirling chaos of "Bureaucrazy" to the unbelievable instrumental "Triocton". This was one of the most pleasant thrash metal surprises of the late 1980's and it still holds up well today.

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King Giant-Dismal Hollow


Graveyard Hill

Northern Virgina-based quintet King Giant return with their second album. I remember hearing and enjoying their debut just a little over a year ago. So they have been busy in getting sophomore releases out so quickly. Really "Dismal Hollow" follows up a similar sound to the debut. This is groove inspired fuzz rock that blends 70's influences, stoner rock and even acts like the Cult and Danzig to some extent. The major strength here are the huge hooks that dominate tracks like "Tale of Mathias", "O' Drifter" and "The Fog". They know how to use and manipulate simple riffs and beats and squeeze all they can out of them. The only problem here is a number of the songs are quite similar. Since they are mostly basic to begin with this means a few songs lose some of their momentum before the running time is over. Not an album I could listen to all of the time, but certainly an album that's worth a listen.

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Blackfinger- All The Leaves Are Brown (single)

Dark Star Records

When Eric Wagner left Trouble in 2008 many people were left with the impression that he was not just walking away from the band but music as well. While he had been with the band since the very beginning it appeared he just simply had had enough of the constant touring. So he didn't completely cut off music as is evident by this new single. For the record Eric has been recording under the band name Blackfinger since ending his time with the doom metal greats. It is hard not to expect this new project to sound like the band Trouble. Since Eric's voice is one of the things that made Trouble stand out so much with Blackfinger I'd wager that others will get the same sort of vibe I did. "All The Leaves Are Brown" isn't going to suddenly thrust Eric back into the spotlight obviously. What it does do though is make me wonder what a full-length album would sound like. While Eric's other post-Trouble project Lid sounded like an acid soaked Led Zeppelin this song reminds me more of the white metal warriors work. There is a real 70's heavy metal feel here along with an obvious nod to Trouble making Blackfinger a intriguing project. I'm keeping my figures crossed that this leads to a full-length album in 2012!

Black Skies-On The Wings Of Time


From the same area that brought us the Archers of Loaf, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Southern Culture on the Skids, Superchunk and of course Ben Folds Five comes the very interesting Black Skies. So what are we to make of Chapel Hill's latest gift? At first listen this three-piece band lays down a sort of Discharge induced sludge rock. Repeated listens though give the listener a heavy, proto-metal psychedelic lesson in rock. Drenched in feedback and layers of fuzz this hybrid band take a page from Sleep's playbook and then give it the garage rock treatment. Things get somewhat warm and hazy along the way as progressive rock does acid with Halo Of Flies resulting in an unholy sound that is strangely invigorating. Call this post-punk, psychedelic grunge if you want. I'll just call it intoxicating.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Arise The Titan-Our Collective Destroyer


Hockey mask killers won't be the only thing to fear in January of 2012. It seems as if Ohio's Arise The Titan have opted to unleash this 8-track EP on Friday the 13th as well. Twice the bloodshed and mayhem then from the sounds of it. As debut albums go this one is a brute. Extreme metal is the name of the game and I can't quite decide if what we have here is a hardcore band influenced by thrash metal and death metal or a thrash/death hybrid band gone hardcore. Either way the end result is the same and that is crushing heavy metal that is both technical and terrorizing. Arise The Titan front man Michael Leone often pushes his vocals into death metal territory while the rest of this 5-piece outfit tries to keep him in check. This is hand- crafted Ohio metal made by people who have no doubt had to endure one too many bleak Ohio winters. It seems to be that our area is producing more of these extreme metal bands everyday and sooner or later the mainstream press is going to have to wake up to the fact that Ohio's heavy metal scene is more crushing than ever. Maybe this isn't groundbreaking metal here but it is certainly neckbreaking metal.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What's coming up?

This week we hope to have reviews out this week of albums by Black Skies, Orange Goblin, Arise The Titan, King Giant, Blood Mortilized, Patrick Hemer, Dies Irae, Pact,Majestic Downfall and Iron Savior. Plus Forgotten Gems and more.

***Have a great week!

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Friday, December 16, 2011


AFM Records

Almah originally started out as a solo project of Angra vocalist Edu Falaschi. For those of you not familiar with Angra they are a long-standing progressive power metal outfit from Brazil. In fact next to Sepultra they are arguably the most well-known heavy metal band to originate from Brazil. While Edu Falaschi might have intended for Almah to be a solo project when he put everything together back in 2006 by the time 2008's "Fragile Equality" was released it had morphed into an actual band. Also, unlike the progressive power metal that Angra does so well this band has more of a modern metal feel. The sound is flat out heavy and seeing as the album was recorded with 7-string guitars, tuned a half-step down (B flat) along with layered rhythm guitars things are technically savvy in addition to slaying. Falaschi's Angra band mate Felipe Andreoli handles bass duties offering plenty of crisp and crunchy riffs. Joining the pair is Berkley-graduated guitar wizard Marcelo Barbosa (Khallice, Dark Avenger), drummer Marcelo Moreira (Burning In Hell) and technical guitarist Paulo Schroeber (Fear Ritual, Dies Irae, Astafix). Falaschi has yet again chosen to surround himself with top-notch musicians and the result speaks for itself. "Motion" is simply a stellar heavy metal album in every sense of the word. Musically you hear tiny bits of Falaschi's other band Angra as well as some of the group's earlier influences like Helloween, Kamelot, Dream Theatre and Masterplan. But those previous albums have nowhere near the serious heavy appeal of "Motion". Here we are talking about Pantera like gargantuan riffs. Fast and furious solos compete with modern metal in a battle to the death. The band worked hard to reach a balance of "heavy, modern metal and beautiful, catchy melodies". Edu Falaschi has certainly achieved that goal and then some. Here you have a group that pulls in the sounds of Pantera and even Alice In Chains while still sounding every bit as good as power metal acts like Blind Guardian. Yes, Almah sounds good at both ends of the spectrum and even if my description sounds odd the impact this album has should bring some attention to Falaschi and his band mates.

Rising-To solemn ash

Exile on Mainstream

Kind of an odd siging for Exile on Mainstream who normally have experimental/avant gard/ stoner rock bands. Rising are more of a modrn sludge act with elements of classic metal tossed in. Their sound is fairly basic without a whole lot of depth or all that many pace changes. Yet the excel in just attacking with pure brute force.They propel themselves forward with short blasts and ride those throughout. A few songs could have really used some development and perhaps a few more tempo changes would have helped. However I cannot deny that Rising manage to frequently hit like a bad of bricks being swung by a gorilla. Both the music and vocals are frequently guided by enough heaviness to maintain my interest. However a decent outing overall.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011


Handshake Inc./Grindcore Karaoke

((Thorlock)) play a brand stoner rock with plenty of twang wound into the fuzzed out riffs. There's definitely some 1970's influences at the heart of their sound with perhaps some Allman Brothers, Hawkwind and others mixed in here. However they apply plenty of reverb and thick twists to their formula. Most of their tracks like "Deuce" and "Assneck" are short, straight-up stompers. Just when I thought I had this band completely pegged they haul out to tracks that are 18 minutes plus a piece in "Mississippi Wheelwash" and "Beyond cosmic dimensions". Both have a similar groove to the shorter tracks, but the structures are different. It's on the two long tracks where they demonstrate not just their musical chops, but there skills as songwriters as well. They show their patience and their control and building the song up and keeping it going for the duration. If there is a shortcoming for this band is that several songs have a very similar sounds to the music and the vocals which causes some of the songs to bleed together. Overall a fun album that keeps bouncing along enough to keep your interest.

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Andy's Top 30 Heavy Metal Album Reviews of 2011

This year I have decided to do things a little different for my 2011 best-of. Instead of risking a list that would just be a mirror image of Metal Mark's I have decided to post a best-of based solely on my own album reviews. In other words these are the best albums I reviewed personally over the past year with some notes here and there just to keep things interesting. Obviously it is no particular order. Enjoy.

1)Ichabod Crane-Brimstone (Local hardcore, metal, thrash mash up band does good)

2)Bloodbound-Unholy Cross

3)Conflicted-Never Be Tamed

4)Totimoshi-Avenger (Weird and yet so powerful)

5)Ear Danger-Full Blast At Last (Just one of many older bands to grace my list)

6)Hell-Human Remains (What a great year it was for older heavy metal bands!)

7)Exxplorer-Vengeance Rides An Angry Horse (Power metal from the masters!)

8)Death Mask-Sitting In The Dark

9)Satan's Host-Celebration: For the Love of Satan (Re-recorded and re-worked classics!)

10)The Approach and The Execution-The Blood March (Protest The Hero meets Iron Maiden?)

11)Ana Kefr-The Burial Tree (II) (The new face of black metal!)

12)Junius-Reports from the Threshold of Death (Majestic and stunning!)


14)Bitches Sin-The Rapture (NWOBHM greats return!)

15)Thurkills Vision-For The Sleeping (Modern metal done right!)

16)Priscilla-Eight Lives Gone (Sleazy industrial trash metal?)

17)Times Of Grace-The Hymn Of A Broken Man

18)Praying Mantis-Metalmorphosis 30th Anniversary Special Edition EP (More great NWOBHM!)

19)Sign Of The Jackal-The Beyond (Limited Edition EP) (Horror movies, heavy metal and a female vocalist? Oh yeah!)

20)Voivod-Warriors Of Ice (A live album that showcases just how good these guys are)

21)Deadiron-Deadiron (More local metal like Iron Maiden meets Bay Area Thrash with an Ohio touch!)

22)R.U.S.T.-Forged in the Fire of Metal (Classic heavy metal from a new band. What is not to love?)

23)Benedictum-Dominion (The best in female fronted heavy metal)

24)Saxon-Call To Arms (Welcome back mates!)

25)Megadeth-Thirteen (Maybe Bay Area Thrash isn't dead?)

26)Dexter Ward-Neon Lights (Some of the best heavy metal out there!)

27)Skull Fist-Head öf the Pack

28)Killing Joke-Live at Hammersmith Apollo (Another excellent live album from a classic band!)

29)Slander- Careless Talk Costs Lives (Seriously good metal from a newer NWOBHM act)

30)Riot-Immortal Soul (American heavy metal at it's finest!)

All in all a pretty good year for heavy metal. Lots of local acts proved worthy of praise while plenty of older bands put out new albums that were just killer. There was great releases in straight up heavy metal, thrash, modern metal and black metal. Hopefully 2012 will prove to be as good!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Metal Mark's top 35 albums of 2011

What a year 2011 has been for music. It's been such a spectacular year that instead of doing my usual top 25 albums of the year I had to expand it to 35 and it was still hard to narrow it down.
It was definitely the year for stoner rock, doom and experimental metal. However there were also good classic style metal albums, hard rock, thrash, prog-metal, death metal, power metal and I even considered two AOR albums for this although they didn't quite make it. It was a just a fantastic year for music and weak albums were few and far between. So like them or not here are my top 35 albums of 2011.


1-Black Cobra-Invernal
A slightly different approach for them, but still amazing.
2-Admiral Browning-Battle Stations
More great instrumental stoner, prog-rock from this trio.
3-In Solitude-The world the flesh, the devil
Total Mercyful Fate worship but so well done.
4-Beehoover-Concrete catalyst
Beehoover have gotten better with each album.
5-Grand Astoria-Omnipresence
Powerful rawk and roll madness.
6-Lo Pan-Salvador
Fuzzed out goodness.
7-Alice Cooper-Welcome 2 my nightmare
A big surprise and a great effort from Alice.
8-Ethereal Riffian-Shamans visions
Slow and thick layers of stoner rock and doom.
Six years since their last album and they come back better than ever.
10-Across Tundras-Sage
A mass of surging tones.
11- Saxon-Call to arms
Metal veterans still have plenty left in the tank.
12-Pentagram-Last Rites
Welcome back to the fold, Victor Griffin.
13- Argus-Boldy stride the doomed
Even better than their previous album.
Their best album in some time.
15- Brotherhood of sleep-Dark as light
Hypnotizing doom.
16-Earth-Angels of darkness, demons of light 1
Spectacular tones throughout.
17-Gypsy Pistoleros - Duende :Last of the Pistoleros
Lee Pistolero and his backing band still pull this one off.
18-Scale the summit-The collective
Not always a prog-rock fan, but these guys are easy to get into.
19-Enablers-Blown realms and stalled explosions
A wild mix of off the wall sounds, scattered music , spoken word and more.
20-Blaspherian-Infernal Warriors of death
Pure raging death metal.
21-The Rotted-Ad Nauseum
One of the best at mixing death metal and old style hardcore.
22-Mastodon –The Hunter
A disappointment for them, but still solid enough.
23-Jag Panzer-The scourge of the light
Impressive outing.
24-Brainstorm-On the spur of the moment
Still one of the best power metal bands around.
25-Amon Amarth-Surtur Rising
Predictable, but heavy.
Different from his usual work, but still engaging.
27-Vektor-Outer Isolation
Great blend of technical talent combined with old style thrash.
28-TYR-The lay of Thrym
Viking themed power metal with incredible melodies.
29- Between the buried and me- The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues
Only EP, but these guys are still brilliant.
30-Wolves in the throne room-Celestial Lineage
Drone done right.
31-Twisted Tower Dire-Make it dark
Another solid outing from this classic style metal act.
32-Dixie Witch-Let it roll
Southern fried, groove driven rock.
33-Portrait-Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae'
The second best Mercyful Fate inspired album of the year.
33-Iron Claw-A different game
Their first album since the 1970’s and what a great comeback.
34-Einvera-In your image
Constantly changing chaos.
35-Witch Mountain-South of Salem
Slow and noisy works for this band.

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Slander-Careless Talk Costs Lives

Stormspell Records

Wait just a second here. Didn't Metal Mark just cover this one at the beginning of the month in our Forgotten Gems section? Why yes he did. And it was his excellent review that made me hit Amazon looking to snag a copy of "Careless Talk Costs Lives". And you know what? A funny thing happened when this arrived in the mail later on. In addition to Slander's old demo recordings was a second disc of 2010 material! So, cheating a little here since it was released at the start of 2011 and all (at least officially) I thought I'd do a quick write-up so I could get it included in my year end best-of. Why? Well, for one thing this re-recorded material is some of the best heavy metal to come out this year that's why! For the record the track listing is different for the second disc as Slander choose to add in so cuts that didn't get released the first time around. Actually about half the tracks are different here. You have newer numbers like "Shadows","Land of Darkness", "Midnight Train", "This Time You Lose" and "Ends of the Circle". Tracks like "Hangman" offer up more of Slander's NWOBHM worship only with a modern slant. Metal Mark was right on with his list of influences (I'll tack on his original review at the end of this one) although from the sound of this second disc I'd say there was some Diamondhead, Satan and even Witchfinder General running through Slander's veins. Seems a crying shame these guys didn't get their proper due the first go round as this second disc kicks serious heavy metal ass. This 2-disc set includes the original demo material, the 2011 re-recorded material and a nice booklet with the band's history. Stormspell Records has done a nice job with this one. Man I hope Slander keeps at it this time as music like this never grows old.

The Devil's Blood-The Thousandfold Epicentre

Metal Blade Records

I can't be the only one who thinks this is an odd signing for Metal Blade Records. Or am I alone in that thought? Here we have a band obviously influenced by the likes of Heart (musically) and Coven (musically as well as lyrically). Seems a tad odd for a label like Metal Blade Records. Even so these Dutch occult rockers make for an interesting listen. Light the candles if you must and sit back and soak in the sounds of sixties and seventies rock. This is a long lost underground psychedelic infused rock LP right? Sure sounds like it. The Heart and Coven sounds are pretty up front although buried in there is some Jefferson Airplane, Black Widow and the like. It all sounds equally spooky and charming even if they are pledging some oath to death or what not. All in all a pleasant journey even if I half expected to hear Ann and Nancy Wilson turn up at some point.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top 5 best album covers of 2011


A great use of a simple image and basic colors, but the results are impressive.

Weedeater-Jason the dragon

Metal covers with dragons are commonplace, but many are pure cheese because they show a close-up of a snarling beast that looks poor if it's not drawn well. However here we see the dragon from a distance and can take in all the detail.

Saxon-Call to arms

Simple yet classic.

Enablers-Blown realms and stalled explosions

Album covers with skulls are commonplace. I found this one to be basic yet intriguing.


A fine combination of colors and depth.

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Five worst album covers of 2011

Midnight Chaser-Rough and tough
Don't judge an album by it's cover because the music here is pretty good.However the album cover is an eyesore. A brightly colored, silly eyesore that looks like it was drawn by a high schooler and colored by someone wearing a blindfold.

Sebastian Bach-Kicking and screaming.
This is an odd and very messy cover. I am not sure what they were aiming for, but the end result is sloppy.

Holy Grail-Seasons Bleedings
Messing with Santa is never cool.

Sometimes a band can just put a logo on a cover and it works. Van Halen II and Twisted Sister's You can't stop rock and roll are examples of good covers with just a logo. However in order for that to work you first have to have a good logo. That's the main reason why this cover fails. Dull logo=dull cover.

Arch/Matheos-Sypathetic Resonance

It's hard to have something on fire on a cover and still be boring yet this one manages to do just that. Maybe it's the generic logo or the plain blackground or the fact the flames look subdued, but this whole cover is very unspectacular.

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Metallica-Beyond Magnetic Digital EP

Universal Music

One has to wonder about the timing of this 4-track digital EP. After the train wreck that was "Lulu" was this released as a last ditch effort on Metallica's part to salvage any cred they might have left? Obviously Metallica have bought into their own hype and are beyond caring what the average listener thinks. The saving grace for them is the blind fans who will lap up anything with the name stamped on no matter what it looks, smells, tastes or sounds like. Fanboys are like that. Heck I remember buying into that "well it is still Metallica so it must be good" argument when the "Black" album came out. Even though I knew inside that it was the sound of Metallica going corporate rock I chewed it up like a good metalhead. With "Load" and "Reload" I knew they had taken the "metal" part of their name and washed it over. By the time "St. Anger" came I was done. Even seeing the band live couldn't erase the knowledge that these Bay Are thrashers had gone nu-metal. "Death Magnetic" was supposed to be Metallica returning to those long forgotten roots. Reading an interview with them in which they still believed they were the best thrash metal band out there made me chuckle. For all it's hype "Death Magnetic" was a decent enough thrash metal album. Nothing more and nothing less. It was almost paint-by-numbers thrash. As if Metallica was saying "who says we can't put out a thrash album anymore?". These four left-over tracks seem to be Metallica making the claim that "Lulu" wasn't really them. And sure enough the faithful are eating these songs up. I'll be honest and say these four tracks are not the worst thing I've ever heard. No, "Lulu" takes that prize. These tracks sound like "Death Magnetic" material alright. Again, more paint-by-numbers thrash metal so who wouldn't like that right? Except it is the same sort of Metallica trying to be modern thrash material while acting like Bono metal. I'll pass. Let the fanboys attack me for daring to question the greatness of their hero's music. It won't bother me. It doesn't bother Metallica to put out crap with their name on it and call it music so why should getting called a few names bother me?

Dexter Ward-Neon Lights

Iron On Iron

Where have these guys been all my life? If there is such a thing as pure heavy metal then "Neon Lights" fits that bill. This Greek heavy metal band were formed in 2009 and took their name from a character in a novel written by HP Lovecraft in 1927. Dexter Ward features members who spent time in Battleroar where they obviously honed their skills. When I first stumbled across this album (on a blog I frequent quite often-Stay Heavy) I did a quick search on the band to see what I could dig up. I was quite surprised that no one seems to have reviewed the album even though it seems to have made the rounds on various free-share sites. Needless to say this is rather weird considering how straight up this album is in regards to classic heavy metal. Sure there are bits and pieces of speed metal and power metal typical of new retro worship bands. Not that I would place Dexter Ward into a retro-loving category though. No, their sound is modern and doesn't just come across as a new version of an old classic. Instead "Neon Lights" is classic heavy metal for 2011. The production is spot on and the playing is professional without morphing into neo-classical worship. I've tried thinking up bands to compare Dexter Ward to. The best examples would be bands like Culprit or Cites although there is more of a almost European flavor to the act. Maybe take Culprit, Cites and similar traditional metal bands like Metal Church and add some Iron Maiden and Judas Priest? Even then Dexter Ward don't work quite like that. Maybe some references to cult eighties bands like Phantom and Ray Gunn are in order? Either way "Neon Lights" is refreshing heavy metal and an album I'm so glad to have found. I've already listened to it several times over and thank the heavens that modern metal hasn't killed these sort of bands off.

Vise Massacre-Expendable Humans

Gorilla The Horse Records / Earsplit PR

"Expendable Humans" is a self-recorded release from Brooklyn-based Vise Massacre. At only 31 minutes or so in length this 14 track album comes into the room, smashes the joint up and the leaves. Good hardcore should leave you with one of those "what just happened" moments and "Expendable Humans" does that. There are no fancy words needed to describe this album or the band for that matter. Vise Massacre merge some speedcore and noise with basic hardcore for a style that is all but gone from the scene. This trio rip through these tracks creating aggressive music for aggressive people and in the process leave no doubt that true hardcore hasn't been killed off by mallcore. I'd wager Vise Massacre were influenced by the likes of Black Flag, Cro-Mags, Circle Jerks and even Cryptic Slaughter as "Expendable Humans" is old school infused hardcore. That said Vise Massacre give us their own rough take on the genre and have forged their own style. Good, heavy and ready for the rumble this is gritty and real music. If only more bands carried this much integrity.

Forgotten Gems-EXE-Stricken by might


In 1987 the thrash scene was on fire and there were tons of bands wearing white high top Nikes, black thrash band shirt and ripped jeans popping up everywhere playing thrash. Since there were a lot of bands playing this style that unfortunately meant that not every band was going to make or get a ton of notice. So plenty of bands slipped through the cracks. Now that doesn't mean every thrash act was good because there were plenty of stinkers. Back around 1985-1990 I was listening to every thrash album I could get my greedy hands on. One day after school and before work I went into my local record store and looked over the cassettes and saw one called "Stricken by might" by an act called EXE. I had never heard of them but one look at the in your face logo and the snarling monster had me knowing that this had to be a thrash album. When I got it home and in my player I realized that indeed it was thrash. It has some definite earlier influences like say speed metal that would have played more around say 1985 and there is even some more mid-tempo classic style metal as well. The influences were all over the place, but include Exciter, Agent Steel and maybe even Jag Panzer for starters. This album is very raw both in playing and in production, but that doesn't hinder it but rather it adds to the charm. I remember the group of metal fans I hung with remembered this album most for a track called "Crib Death". That song was remembered for the cheesy lyrics and title, but also for being a powerful song. I just heard this album again for the first time in over twenty years and was enjoyed it plus Crib Death is still as corny and powerful as I remember it being. "Martial Law" and "Fatally wounded" are two other favorites of mine on this album. These guys went on to do one more album with "Sicker than I thought" in 1990 which is good, but not quite as forceful as "Stricken by might". I had actually forgotten about this one for years but when I remembered it I searched and found a free download and gave it a shot again. Glad that I did.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Top 10 best re-issues/re-releases of 2011


Our top album lists we be out later this week. In addition to a list of new releases I started doing a list of the top re-issues and re-leases two or three years ago. This year was had so many good entries that I decided to expand the list from 5 to 10. So here they are in order from 1-10.

1-Twisted Sister-Under the blade CD/DVD set
It's one of the best Twister Sister albums with bonus tracks and the DVD is a live show from when they were still raw and angry.

2-Orange Goblin-5 disc box set
Five great helpings of pure thick stoner rock and bonus tracks on each one. WOW!

3-Jethro Tull-Aqualung 40th anniversary special edition 2 disc set
A great sounding remix on Aqualung and a whole disc of bonus tracks.

4-Mos Generator-s/t
Their debut debut re-issued with bonus tracks.

5-Sigh-Scorn Defeat
They had a rougher sound nearly twenty years ago, but just as impressive.

6-Stone Axe-S/T CD/DVD set
The original just came out a couple of years ago, but this version has bonus live tracks and a whole DVD full of live songs.

7-Uncannny-MCMXCI -collected works
Their one album plus demos equals a massive attack of classic early death metal.

8-Thin Lizzy-The boys are back in town, Live in Sydney, Australia 1978
Not their greatest live album, but it's a prime Thin Lizzy show with the band sounding very relaxed.

My favorite Warlock albums got the re-issue treatment this year.

10-Atomic Rooster-s/t
A very underrated album.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Metalian-Rock Solid

Heavy Artillery

Since forming in 2004 the trio known as Metalian has been waving the flag of traditional heavy metal proudly. These guys hail from Montreal and so far have released two demos, a split venture and one full-length album. While a underground favorite, Metalian are not well known this side of the border which is truly a shame. That is where New York’s Heavy Artillery Records comes in. As part of the label’s “Wax Maniax” demo series Metalian will be issuing "Rock Solid" in limited vinyl and CD pressings. Available exclusively from the Heavy Artillery web store this six track affair is aptly titled. This is indeed rock solid traditional heavy metal with a nice raw edge and a no trick plays kind of attitude. This is the sort of sound that is making a comeback and I for one couldn't be happier as true heavy metal never gets old. As the fourth installment in the label’s “Wax Maniax” demo series "Rock Solid" is a pretty good pick-up for those of you out there that still believe regular hard and heavy metal can be dangerous. Good stuff.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Jethro Tull-Aqualung 40th anniversary special edition giveaway


I have a copy of the 2 disc 40th anniversary special edition of Jethro Tull's Aqualung to give away courtesy of Capitol/EMI . All you have to do is to the contact link over to the right that says "contact me HERE" and send me e-mail telling that you want to be entered in the Jethro Tull giveaway. Make sure to include an e-mail address that I reach you at. Contest will run until December 9th and at that time I'll draw a winner and contact you for an address that I can send your prize. Good luck!

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What's coming up?

This coming week we hope to have out reviews of albums by Metalian, King Giant, Vise Massacre, ((Thorlock)), Patrick Hemer,The Devil's Blood and Rising. Plus Forgotten Gems and our top albums of 2011 and some other 2011 awards.

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Top Of The Heap: AC/DC

Andy says-

I know that I have mentioned this numerous times in the past but the first album I ever bought was AC/DC's "Who Made Who". Prior to that though I was aware of the band and their stardom. My older brother had "Highway To Hell" on tape and I can remember more than a few times when he played this as loud as possible to get under my parents skin. Back in the day many parents placed AC/DC high at the top of their list of satanic rock and roll acts so it is funny these days to see AC/DC's logo on toddler clothing. How far we have come! While "Who Made Who" would be the first tape I ever bought by AC/DC it wouldn't be the last as my obsession with the group only grew with time. The more parents and authority lashed out against these Aussie rockers the more I was drawn in. Soon enough I had most of their music on tape and eventually LPs. For many people it is a toss up between "Highway To Hell" and "Back In Black" for AC/DC's top album. I don't plan to dive too deeply into said argument as honestly they are my two favorite albums. That said "Highway To Hell" has always been an album I turn back to time and time. Maybe it has something to do with how overplayed "Back In Black" is but this, their sixth studio album and last with Bon Scott is just perfect hard rock for me. Sadly Bon Scott would pass away after this album only for Brian Johnson to join the band right as they exploded. As the band was always blues-based there is a raw energy to be found here. In a way too I have always seen this album as Bon's way of showing the punks that he was still the top dog despite the change brought on by groups like the Sex Pistols. Bon's swagger and strut on "Highway To Hell" put Mick Jagger to shame. From the album opener which chronicles life in a rock and roll band and all of it's vices (a popular subject for AC/DC) Bon Scott and the Young brothers grab you by the balls and squeeze as hard as they can. This was the sound of bar room rock and roll. It was sweaty and filled with enough sexual tension to knock down the building! Sure the album's title number might not have spelled out what was on AC/DC's mind but the rest of side A left no doubt! . "Girls Got Rhythm", "Walk All Over You", "Touch Too Much" and "Beating Around the Bush" all find Bon Scott on the prowl with Angus right there by his side ready to pick up the scraps! The flip side of the record opens with the classic "Shot Down in Flames". Bon and company lay it out there and let us know that they have been given the old brush off as well. I've always liked the little rocker "Get It Hot" while "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)" might just be my favorite AC/DC number of all time! That drum opening from Phil Rudd is classic and when the rest of the track comes rolling in it hits you hard and fast. The band keeps ladies on their mind with "Love Hungry Man" a track that has grown on me over time. Now as far as "Night Prowler" goes and the controversy surrounding it thanks to Richard Ramírez too much ink has been spilled on that one already. No song alone is going to turn a person into a serial killer. If someone is going to kill people I firmly believe that is already in their DNA and that they were born with some screws missing. Show me someone who was a serial killer and listened to heavy metal and I'll show you someone who went to church and was supposed to be normal and killed people tons of people (I'm looking at you Mr. BTK!). Music, video games, movies, books, etc. do not drive otherwise normal people to kill. The fact that we live in a fallen world leads people to kill. But, that is another article for another time. I love how the band choose to wrap up the album. With the final words spoken by Scott, "Shazbot, na-nu na-nu", I always get a little smile thinking about watching "Mork And Mindy" as a kid. To me it just shows how much of a goof Scott was and that he left this world way too young. "Highway To Hell" is a genre classic. It is hard rocking, catchy and full of raw energy just like Bon Scott was. He left us at the top of his game.


Metal Mark says-

I love Bon Scott-era AC/DC and consider most of the Brian Johnson-era material to be forgettable. Glad I got that out of the way. To me all of the early albums are either very good or great and it is tough to choose a best album. I think it boils down to Let there be rock and Powerage and I'll go with Powerage by a hair. One of the first albums I heard by AC/DC and certainly one where I like every song. Still to this day it's an album I could listen at any time from start to finish. To me it represents the raw power of the early days of the band, but it's right before they began to polish off their rough edges. It's not their most known album due to the lack of songs that get played on the radio a lot, but it's certainly their most consistant album and to me the one that defines all that was great about this band in their early days. "Down payment blues" and "Up to my neck in you" are prime examples of the kind of odd yet humorous lyrics that this band could easily pull off. "Gimme a bullet", "Gone shootin" and "What's next to moon" demonstrated the band's ability to control the pace and get as much as they could out out of every beat and note. "Kicked in the teeth" and "Riff raff" are both tracks that get the blood pumpin' with their heavy, churning grooves. "Rock 'n' Roll Damnation" and
"Sin City" are probably the two best songs out of this great batch with just great attention to details and every band member pulling his weight. To me this is this the most solid album from this band. It's a shame that Scott died because thet were very tight. However after Scott was gone Johnson just didn't have the voice or the presence to ever replace Scott and really no one could replace him. The downfall of AC/DC wasn't all on Johnson's shoulders either. The Young brothers writing became more predictable in the 1980's and formula became the name of the game for AC/DC even through today. They would never be the same without Bon Scott, not even close. The have have been a mere shell of what they once were. However at least Scott left some great records to remember him by.

***What's your favorite AC/DC album?

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