Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Forgotten Gems: Timeless Hall


Interesting story about this particular album. I originally had ordered a different CD from a secondary seller on Amazon. After not receiving the disk and putting up with e-mail after e-mail to the seller I finally received a refund. As a means of making it up to me (and to avoid my inevitable nasty feedback) the seller offered to send me another CD of my choice for free from his store. Sure, why not I figured. So, after sorting through page after page of awful modern metal and nu metal releases I can across the Steel Legacy Records re-issue of this self-titled 1994 album. Having read up a bit on this Danish band I decided to roll the dice and hope for the best. Formed in 1994 this Danish heavy metal band featured American vocalist Andrew "Drew" David Heart and managed to have their self-release co-produced by Michael Denner of Mercyful Fate. Their sound recalls classic Queensrÿche at times as well as the melodic power metal of groups like Helloween. In fact those lead vocals almost sound like Geoff Tate mixed with Michael Kiske. Snagging an American on vocals ended up being a smart move for this young band as the end result is a solid melodic power metal/progressive metal release. The copy I got was from Steel Legacy Records (re-issued in 2010) and contained 3 bonus tracks (the three tracks are from the 1996 "True Love" single) and came with new cover artwork. The band did eventually morph into another outfit called Breed although from what I have read the end result wasn't as good as this album. Really classic heavy metal fans and fans of melodic infused progressive power metal would do well to seek out this rare release. The band's sound is tight and their music is both melodic and powerful. Sometimes not getting what you wanted the first time around can result in surprising treasures.

Raymond did it

R Squared Films Inc.

Raymond did it is an independent film that was directed, produced and written by Travis Legge.
The plot revolves around mentally challenged Raymond. Raymond is getting picked on and his brother Bryce tries to protect him. Bad girl Paige shoves Bryce and he ends up getting killed. Paige quickly invents a story to blame it on Raymond. Three others in the group go along with that idea. Only Tammy shows some compassion for Raymond. Fast forward six years and Raymond has been locked away for years and the rest of the group have kept the secret to themselves. As you can probably guess Raymond escapes and goes after all those responsible for causing him to be locked away. Obviously this film was influenced by the liked of Halloween and Prom Night. Even the score sounds kind of like Halloween. When I first saw the part when the characters as young teens I thought the acting was quite horrible. Fortunately their older counterparts are better with the acting ranging from acceptable to good. Lindsay Felton (Scream Queens) as Tammy is probably the top stand out as she is troubled by what happened and still feels sympathy for Raymond. Kyle Hoskins plays Raymond and even though he doesn't have many lines he handles his roll well enough plus and at six foot five and sporting a bulky frame he makes an imposing figure. The body count is fairly low and you get a few simple almost cheap killings, but some strange ones too. Raymond manages to turn a lawn mower, a washing machine, a bong and a shower curtain rod (yikes) all into lethal weapons. The effects and make-up on the more brutal killings is pretty well done. So the characters who set up Raymond all at one time or another drink, do drugs and have sex so traditional horror movie lets us know they'll get theirs soon. One aspect of the film I liked was that when the group finds out Raymond has escaped they don't panic too much. Instead lead by the always evil and selfish Paige, three of them plus Paige's dope head boyfriend decide prepare for Raymond and get him before he gets them. I liked the is aspect because it made me dislike them even more because they never felt remorse and they were going to put Raymond away for good. That plan almost works except of course they never make sure he's dead before tossing the body away and Raymond comes back angrier than before. So there are plenty of good points to this film, but there are some holes too. While the action parts and characters are generally good the dialog and pacing has some problems. A lot of the parts in between the action just felt like throwaway dribble that very little. There were times where characters rattle on while they sit on the couch. These parts don't advance the story nor do they add to the characters, but instead I got the impression that filmmaker Legge realized he needed to stretch the film some to get it to feature length. So even though he may have been chomping at the bit to bring Raymond in, Legge needed to pad the film some so he quickly scribbled how some nonsense and had the already unlikable characters chew on those lines for a while. My other major complaint *spoiler alert* involved the final confrontation between Raymond and Paige. Given that Raymond knew she was the leader behind framing him and how brutal the killings were on the others involved I expected Raymond to get his revenge in grand form. Instead Paige throws a fit, jumps Raymond and he breaks her neck in a not so believable fashion. That part could and should have been much better. Overall a decent film though. The ending leaves things open for a sequel so we'll see if that ever comes about. The DVD also includes a making , a trailer and Raymond's song.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 30, 2012

Top ten albums of 1992

1-Sleep-Sleep's Holy Mountain
Great stoner rock, a real stripped down feel.
2-WASP-The Crimson Idol
Blackie Lawless had come a long ways as a songwriter.
3-Dream Theater-Images and words
I played this album to death back in 92-93.
4-Trouble-Manic Frustration
I actually liked these guys better in the 90's than I did in the 80's.
5-Thought Industry-Songs for insects
Insane and brilliant.

6-Obituary-The end complete
Loved it since the first time it knocked me senseless.

Mean and relentless album. The lyrics are crap, but you understand them anyhow.

8-Bolt Thrower-The IVth Crusade
Pure chaotic noise from this sometimes overlooked band.

This album was simple yet it hit me hard back then.
10-Tie- Star Star-The lovedrag years and Shooting Gallery-s/t
Virtual unknowns Star Star connected on their second album.
I might be the only one that liked Andy McCoy's short lived Shooting Gallery, but what a great real glam album it was.

Labels: ,

Top Ten Albums Of 1992

1992 was the year I finally said goodbye to high school and moved on with my life. It was a year of transition not only for me but for metal as well. Grunge had done its best to try to kill hard rock and heavy metal. It certainly did enough damage to the genres. And yet in the fields of doom, death and grind we ended up with some of the all time best albums. This list is what I was listening to at the time although there have been many other great albums I have discovered over the years from 1992 that I missed the first time around. This list of mine is in no real order.

1)Megadeth-Countdown To Extinction

I was a huge Megadeth album having tasted thrash thanks to their first three albums. This release ended up getting a lot of airplay from me.

2)Neurosis-Souls At Zero

I've stated my love before for this album so there is no need to repeat myself other than to say how classic it is.

3)Eyehategod-In The Name Of Suffering

Very few albums come right out the gate and destroy minds quite like this one did. Almost like the sound of someones soul being put through a meat grinder.

4)Napalm Death-Utopia Banished

Call it grind or death metal either way a great album. Brutal and heavy this one also got a lot of air time on my stereo.

5)Alice In Chains-Dirt

Ok, as much as I loathe what grunge ended up doing to heavy metal I have to admit that I listened to a lot of Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden in 1992. And even if this album did get played to death on the radio it is still a landmark release.

6)Holocaust-Hypnosis Of Birds

I first got turned onto Holocaust by way of Metallica. This album came by way of a tape trader and showed off a different side of these NWOBHM forefathers. More progressive rock infused and just different. In 1992 though different was good as I looked to find myself.

7)Kyuss- Blues For The Red Sun
Stoner rock in all of it's bliss. Both Sleep and Kyuss really opened my eyes and ears to real stoner rock. I was never the same.

8) Celtic Frost-Parched With Thirst Am I And Dying

My introduction to this band. Really this is a compilation of album cuts, demo tracks and other misc. tracks from the band.

9)Trouble-Manic Frustration

A doom classic from these white metal warriors. I was really into Trouble for a time there in high school having managed to assemble a nice collection of their albums from a friend.

10)Sleep-Sleep's Holy Mountain

Another stoner rock classic. Let's just say that this was another album that saw a lot of spins back in high school and college and leave it at that.

OZ-Burning Leather

AFM Records

With the release of their "Fire In The Brain" LP in 1983 and the 1984 follow-up EP, "Turn The Cross Upside", OZ managed to gain international fame with heavy metal fans. Before that this Scandinavian hard rock band was relatively unknown outside of their home country. Formed in 1977 the band's first album (Heavy Metal Heroes) was a decent enough (if nothing else) affair. It was decidedly more hard rock/generic heavy metal than anything else. Certainly not the serious slab of heavy metal thunder of their 1983 and 1984 releases. And yet despite the cult status of these two releases OZ remains a rather unknown band for today's metalheads. If you mention OZ then chances are people will think your talking about Mr. Sharon and not this hard and heavy leather bound group of metal maniacs. And since the last time they were seen was with 1991's "Roll The Dice" it almost seemed as if OZ might slip away without reclaiming some glory again. With "Burning Leather" though I doubt that will be a problem. The group didn't even need to add revamped and re-recorded versions of their classic tracks "Turn The Cross Upside Down" and "Fire In The Brain" to get the point across that they were back. I understand that they wanted to reintroduce themselves to today's audiences and all but the opening number "Dominator" (with it's kick down the doors take on heavy metal/thrash) does that good enough. It is certainly a "hey, how do you like getting your head thrashed?" kind of moment and from there on out things never slow down and OZ never looks back! This is one nice slab of heavy metal/thrash/power metal. If you've never had the pleasure of getting hit in the face by OZ the metal here is similar in nature to Accept, Metal Church and Painkiller era Judas Priest. Tracks like "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie" are just nasty little tunes that recall traditional heavy metal acts like the above mentioned. "Seasons In the Darkness" is another great classic metal sounding number and the title track grabs you by the throat and never lets go. "Gambler" is a rolling number and at times OZ recalls the greats like Iron Maiden, Dio and Judas Priest. Vocalist Ape DeMartini sounds better than ever and cuts like "Enter Stadium" (with it's Kiss on steroids take on hard rock) just make "Burning Leather" one of those albums that just screams classic heavy metal. Really there isn't a bad cut to be found on this 11-track affair and from start to finish "Burning Leather" pulls you in with it's take no prisoners attitude. It's good to see a band like OZ get another chance to prove that classic metal is alive and well. Welcome back guys.

Ten things I think about hard rock and metal in 1992

When I started this blog almost seven years ago one thing I wanted to do was briefly reflect on metal from twenty years ago. So each year I make a top ten album list from the year that was twenty years ago and my 1992 list is coming soon. The other thing I do each year is a lits where I reflect on ten things I think about metal from that year. My perspective now may be different from what it was back then. The year 1992 was a bit of an odd year. The musical wave of heavy music was changing as grunge was in full swing and plenty of metal and hard rock acts were either getting the axe from their labels or really feeling the heat. So here are ten things I think about metal and hard rock in 1992.

1-With Fear of the dark Iron Maiden proved that No prayer for the dying was no fluke, they were having serious problems.
2-This was a big year for death metal, maybe one of if the best ones of the decade.
3-It was also a fine year for doom and stoner rock too even though that genre was still a few years away from the seeing a real explosion of bands.
4-Revenge from KISS was a decent attempt to be better, but the results were just alright. However it was enough to keep KISS afloat during a rough time for hard rock.
5-Despite being a big fan of John Bush I still think firing Joey Belladonna and hiring John Bush was not a good move. Anthrax were better with Belladonna and Bush was better with Armored Saint.
6-Tora Tora's Wild America isn't very original, but it's a very catchy album.
7-No matter how many time I have played Black Sabbath's Dehumanizer I still think it's a mixed bag at best.
8-Thought Industry's debut "Songs for insects" was one of the most original albums in some time, but the band never quite came close that level again.
9-As poor as Def Leppard's Hysteria was 1992's Adrenalize was even worse.
10-Despite the changing musical climate G-n-R were still huge even in a year where they were just touring. It's a shame that a new album of original songs wasn't coming any time soon.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Forgotten Gems: Rat Attack

Self Released

In the early eighties there wasn't much of a metal scene to be found in Hawaii. Most clubs there catered to New Wave and Top 40 music. That didn't stop this young heavy metal band though from putting out what would be a well circulated demo. Despite the fact that the band never got beyond the demo stage this 8 track affair made the rounds among tape traders and ended up getting radio play locally. In fact it received praise in numerous metal mags (including Kerrang) and was heard in internationally markets. Now though if people do know about Rat Attack it is only because of Tom Azevedo (vocals, guitar) who ended up in another cult eighties band by the name of Hawaii (he also spent time in Liquid Mirror and Vertigo Children). While the band Hawaii is cool in their own right I just love the raw and primitive metal sound of Rat Attack. It has a real early eighties metal charm all it's own. It was bootlegged for awhile before being re-released on CD in 2008 by Old Metal Records. This is the version I have and it includes 6 bonus tracks. The bonus tracks ("Rat Attack", "Holocaust", "Lose Control", "As The World Burns", "Fast Get Away" and "Diamond Dancer") are all live and showcase a young hungry band that was playing the music they loved. In a day and age when metal has become modern and glossy it is good to have albums like this that remind of us how things were when the scene was just starting off.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Forgotten Gems: Soothsayer-To be a real terrorist


I remember back around 1989 hearing about an album called "Have a good time" by a Canadian band called Soothsayer. I am not sure if I remember any reviews of it, but for some reason I remember hearing that this band was supposed to be good. I didn't hear it then and it would be a few years before I would hear it. Once I heard it I wasn't too thrilled about it. It was alright, but it as much a joke album as it was thrash. The problem was it wasn't that funny and it was quite honestly messy. So I forgot about this band for years until a little over a year ago. I stumbled upon a discussion about Soothsayer where one person was saying they heard good things about Soothsayer, but didn't care for "Have a good time". The other person said that the band's 1986 demo was much better and that people should track that down. I did find a download of it and indeed it's great blast of thrash mixed with some hardcore bits. Actually it's fairly heavy for 1986 and I hear Slayer, Destruction, DRI, Broken Bones and others including fellow Canadian thrash act Sacrifice. The sound on this demo is thick and tight with the vocals screaming along too on songs like "Death Radiation" and "Deadly fear". Okay, now with this demo I could see why fans would speak some praise for this band. I am not sure why their musical direction changed by the time they did their full length LP. A lot of things can change for a band in three years as it did here. I also discovered that a few years ago there was a CD release of "To be a real terrorist" with a remastered version of the demo plus a live show from 1987. I picked that up and the demo sound good cleaned up plus the band sounds solid live although on the show they get into some of the silly tracks that would end up on "Have a good time". Whether you download the demo or find the CD with the remastered version, I would definitely say this is worth a listen.

Labels: , , ,

Sunstorm-Emotional Fire


AOR is one of those genres I struggle with. It's not heavy and no one in the fields today is doing much of anything that wasn't done thirty years ago. Yet when it's done right it's just too catchy to ignore. Now that doesn't mean it's always done right, but every year there are normally a few AOR albums that really impress me. That leads me to Sunstorm which is the project of Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple and a pile of others). This is Sunstorm's third album and like the previous two Turner reaches back to some songs he wrote for himself and other in the 80's. Although there are a few songs here written by others as well. So with that background you know this will be 80's style AOR/hard rock. However the difference is of course Turner. Much like Jeff Scott Soto, Tony Martin, Robert Mason and other s he has spent much of his career as a long time journeyman vocalist, but he has always been busy and it's no wonder. Even he has so often loaned his voice to other people's bands he has such a fantastic instrument. There are very few people I can say this about but he sounds just as good as he did 30 years ago and I doubt that producers have to do much in the studio to get his voice to this level. No, I am pretty sure he just still has the pipes to knock out whatever he wants to and still have it sound like gold. On this album he hits everything perfectly. Turner manages to not only convey emotion, but to really control every word and movement. Going into this I was hoping it wouldn't be just another album leftovers and even if it was Joe Lynn Turner easily transforms the songs into something worth hearing over and over. Great release.

Labels: ,

Friday, January 27, 2012

Vendetta-Feed the extermination


Germany's Vendetta came out in the late 80's when thrash was heating up. They knocked out a pair of decent albums and then broke up not too long after that. Fast forward to just a few years ago and they reformed and knocked out "Hate" on 2007. Now they are back again with ten new songs. This is a mix of old school thrash, some classic metal edges and even few layers of more modern metal here and there. Despite hailing from Germany I always felt that Vendetta owed more to the Bay area sound from our shores than they did to the thrash scene from their country. That is still the case as this album has far more Metallica and others than say Kreator, Sodom or any other German thrash act. Where this band excels is in creating some instantly likable and catchy riffs. You start with those and you get the listeners attention and that is a sound approach that works here. Off the top of my head I would say that "Cancer","Storage of anger" and "Trust in God" has some of the best main riffs and are prime examples of how this band can capture your attention early on. They don't hold back and obviously their experience comes into play here and they could sure show some younger bands a thing or too. So if you want driving riffs and solid vocals you get that, but don't expect Vendetta to go beyond that style. There are not a lot of solos or much of any attempt to progress beyond a limited sound. Maybe I didn't expect that, but there are a lot thrash bands both young and old playing this style and to get noticed a band probably has to push ahead a little more. This is still a likable album, but not really impressive enough to be anything special.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hair Metal Hell:Slave Raider - Take The World By Storm

Bmg Music

Andy says-
Consider this a confession. Well, two confessions really. The first is that this week's Hair Metal Hell group is actually more hard rock that hair metal. Secondly despite that groan inducing album cover I have nobody to blame but myself for buying this load of crap rock back in 94 or so. I don't recall the exact date but I do remember finding a used copy (on tape) at a thrift store and saying to myself "Self, maybe this is some decent traditional heavy metal". Decent would be too good for this album. Try dull and boring. That is my biggest complaint. If there is a musical equivalent to watching paint dry then "Take The World By Storm" takes the prize. While it doesn't surprise me that a band from the eighties has a singer called Chainsaw Caine I am surprised by how many people swear by this album. From reviews on the web you would think these guys were some unsung heroes of heavy metal. Take this review from Amazon (where the asking price is over $100 for this "classic"): "Should do plenty for fans of W.A.S.P., Exciter, Omen, Hellhammer and maybe Destruction." Notice I didn't bother fixing that sentence because quite frankly the whole thing is wrong. Slave Raider are awful and generic hard rock. They are not even close to sounding like any of those groups. Not even W.A.S.P. my friends. This is why I never go by reviews on Amazon. There is something seriously wrong with the people that post there.


Out of tune vocals- 4, There is something to be said for a guy with the name Chainsaw Caine. And that is man, he is one flat vocalist. Very one dimensional in fact.

Wanna be rockstar guitars- 5, From the way these guys "rock" out you would think it would all lead somewhere. Instead these guitars just wail away creating the most boring riffs in all of hard rock history.

More hairspray than bass- 3, Even though I don't hear a lot of bass there doesn't seem to be much interest in hair spray. Not that Slave Raider were any better than your normal sleaze rocker of the eighties.

One dimensional drum beats-4, Sort of like one of those clapping monkeys.

Make me wanna puke ballad- 5, The whole album made me want to stick a finger in my mouth and puke. Did I mention how dull and lifeless this album was?
Metal Mark says- I remember first hearing of this band probably not long after it came out. I read a review on it back then and although I remember none of the specifics I am sure that it was positive. In fact every review I read on this over the years has been positive. So here recently I downloaded it (for free) and came to the conclusion that those who like this are either.
B)tone deaf
C) both of the above
Based on the album cover it looks like the only raiding they did was to raid their sister's closets and make-up kits. Obviously they spent more time on their look than they did on umiportant aspects of being in a band like rehearsing and learning how to play your instruments. No that's not a compliment to their image either.
Out of tune vocals-4 Uh, yeay dude the tape is rolling so you may want to spit that wad of gum out of your mouth and take a drink of water first. Oh, that is your singing voice? Too bad...for us.
Wannabe rockstar guitars-5 It's like bad Poison riffs only ever so slightly heavier. Yes it really is that bad.
More hairspray than bass-4 There is a lot of things that I hear on this album more than the bass and none of them sound very good. Maybe I am giving them a point off here for not making us hear another bad instrument.
One dimensional drum beats-5 Somehow I picture whoever formed this band finding some friend he thought had "the look" and pulling him in as the drummer. The fact that he didn't know how to play the drums didn't matter. So I picture the other band member slapping his knee and saying this is all you have to do on the drums "slap-slapa-slap-slap-slapa-slap" and once you get the hang of it just mix it up a little from there. Needless to say "the drummer" never rose to the level of mixing it up a little.
Make me wanna puke ballad-These guys tried to be heavier than glam bands of the day, but the results were just as abusive on my ears and digestive system. Stomach Churner would have been a more fitting band name than Slave Raider.
No thanks to Slave Raider for making this album.

Labels: ,

Church of misery-The second coming

Rise Above, Metal Blade

Originally released in 2004 this was more stoner, psychedelic rock from Japan's Church of misery. You get some straight out groove driven songs like "Candy man" and "Filth bitch boogie" which the band really excels at. Then you get something like "Red river blues" which sounds like early Sabbath being played on a trip to another planet. As you get get some space rock tossed in with the thick, fuzzed out gliding riffs. We get some cover tracks here as well. Those being "One way... or another" by Cactus and "For mad men only" by May Blitz. Church of misery's proto-metal influences are obvious on their originals and that be a large reason why they really do justice on these cover songs. You can tell when a band is covering a song because they enjoy and when they are just going the motions. Church of misery are obviously thrilled to be playing these songs and treat them a such. Compared to the previous album "Master of brutality" this album is similar, but there is definitely more space rock components tossed in. The previous album has so much of a Sabbath influence and this one does too, but you can tell they were listening top Hawkwind and others as well. The results are perhaps even more impressive as this album saw the band branching out a little. I never heard this album the first time around, but am glad it was re-issued so I found out what I had been missing out on.

Labels: , , ,

Forgotten Gems: Abattoir - Vicious Attack

Combat Records

For this week's particular Forgotten Gem segment Metal Mark and I decided to tag team the classic album "Vicious Attack" by Abattoir. As with Top Of The Heap and Hair Metal Hell we have broken things down into our two separate parts.

Andy says-
Given the fact that "Vicious Attack" was originally a demo recording it can be forgiven for being a bit raw production wise. The story is that Combat Records loved the pure raw energy of the demo and decided to release it as is. Chances are though that Combat Records either didn't have the money to allow Abattoir to re-record "Vicious Attack" or they were too cheap. Regardless this 1985 album is pure speed/thrash gold. Almost punk like in it's approach it has a Motorhead on a Metallica bender feel to it. That is probably a fitting description as the band choose to cover "Ace Of Spades" for the album. Don't let the raw thrash title fool you though as the band plays tight heavy metal. While the album originally listed Mark Caro and Danny Olivero as guitarists the real credit should go to Agent Steel's Juan Garcia. Vocals were handled by Steve Gaines (Bloodlust, Pagan War Machine and Bitch among others) and are rough while still giving it a thrash metal feel. Overall the album is raw and gritty with a punk streak a mile long. It is also a classic of the genre and a must have for thrash metal manics.

Metal Mark says-
I enjoyed their 1982 demo and really this album is similar. However my first exposure to this band was hearing their cover of "Ace of spades" on Hit Parader's cassette only compilation "The Wild Bunch". I liked it, but couldn't judge the band very well on just a cover song. It was almost another two years after that before I heard this album. This is kind of early speed metal in that it's fast but doesn't hit on the level that thrash soon would. Still it's well put together with plenty of speed and heaviness. Plus perhaps most importantly it still holds up well today. I listen to it a few times every year. They never quite made it though probably mostly due to there being so many speed/thrash bands pouring out at the same time. You just knew some good bands would fall through the cracks and Abattoir were one of those. Their second album "The only safe place" the next year saw 3/5 of the band change (!). The sound was similar to the debut to some extent as there is still plenty of speed metal, but there is also Judas Priest kind of classic metal feel to many songs as well. It's another solid album, but the band broke up not too long after that. Like many 80's metal bands they did reform in recent years. Both albums are worth checking out.

Labels: , ,

Crypticus/Scaremaker-split album

Denver, Colorado's Crypticus offer up four tracks of old school death metal with some thrash undertones. It's only two guys creating all this noise and they do an admirable job of creating some intense metal. The plus side is they are relentless and do an excellent job crossing dark tones with some spine cracking riffs. There isn't much of a technical side to their, but they push hard at the style they play in. The slight downside for Crypticus is that they are not overly creative, the music can get repetitive and the vocals are average for the genre. Overall on these tracks the power wins out and I enjoyed it. Scaremaker are a newer band who have only been around for a few years, but this trio is intense. They also play death metal, but with some black metal and thrash tossed in. They contribute five songs to this split album and every track is dripping with anger and wrapped in harsh often chaotic sounds. They excel at this style and they can go from thick battering marches to blasting bursts and back again while retaining the same energy throughout. Their final track "Mansion of the macabre" is their longest at over seven minutes, but it's their most accomplished track with calculated tempo changes and a true sense of control and they build the song to it's peak. Overall a decent split disc although I was slightly more impressed by Scaremaker.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Slingblade-The Unpredictable Deeds Of Molly Black

High Roller Records

Female-fronted Slingblade hail from Stockholm and were formed in 2009. The band released their debut 7" single on High Roller Records the following year. This past November the group issued their debut album creating quite a bit of underground buzz. Seeing as it is on High Roller Records you just had to know that "The Unpredictable Deeds Of Molly Black" would be classic metal. While early comparisons have been made to NWOBHM groups like Girlschool and Rock Goddess it would be safe to say that there is more of a traditional heavy metal sound to be found with Slingblade. It is easy enough to point out other female-fronted heavy metal acts like Girschool, Satanic Rites, Rock Goddess, Taist Of Iron, Warlock or Hellion as a way to try to pinpoint the sound. Especially since in Slingblade's music one does tend to pick up on those sounds as well as older acts like Coven. But for a band like this that has made it their mission to create an album similar in nature to a King Diamond album there is so much more. Warlord, Malice, Obsession, Accept and even the classics like Rainbow/Dio/Saxon/Iron Maiden/Judas Priest have helped shape Slingblade. I'd even wager to say artists as diverse as Grace Slick have helped shape this group. For a band like this to survive in 2012 there obviously has to be more and Slingblade have that little edge thanks to the detail oriented nature of their sound. Getting back to the King Diamond bit for a second with this new album Slingblade has created a ten song conceptual album that is highlighted by the sensual vocals of Kristina Karlsson. With all the songs making up the story it is almost as if your listening to Kristina tell you this dark and twisted tale on a cold, dark and stormy night. You get caught up in it and become a part of a story that is chilling. It does have the feeling of an old King Diamond or Merciful Fate album where you get those shivers. You know where you have the feeling that things are not quite. Fan's of traditional minded heavy metal will want to hunt this release down. It is well-crafted, features a wonderful production job and has a sincere nature to it that will leave you longing for more.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Corrosion of Conformity-s/t



Strap yourself in because this is liable to take a while. COC started out as a hardcore punk band in the early 80's and then they released their debut "Eye for an eye". "Eye for eye" was full of short bursts or noisy and fast tracks. After that the band parted ways with vocalist Eric Eyke and bass player Mike Dean took over vocals for "Animosity" in 1985. "Animosity" saw the band going to more of a crossover path with elements of hardcore. Then the band added Simon Bob Sinister to be their vocalist for the "Technocracy" EP in 1987 which was similar in style to "Animosity". After this we get into more drastic changes. Simon Bob left and bassist Mike Dean both left as well. The band replaced both guys and added a second guitarist in Pepper Keenan. The next album was "Blind" in 1991 and is was a huge style change. It was a stoner and doom mix which was a huge departure from where the band had been in the 1980's. The revolving door kept moving as vocalist Karl Agell and bassist Phil Swisher were out after one album. Mike Dean came back and Pepper Keenan took over on vocals. This would be the line-up they would have for most of the next decade and the sound would continue in a stoner style with southern influences mixed in. Early last decade drummer Reed Mullin departed and the band knocked out another album before the members left to do other projects although no one involved said COC was done for good. In 2010 it was announced that the "Animosity" line-up of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin would reform and record. Last summer Pepper Keenan indicated he would like to record with them at some point on some "Deliverance" type material. So that brings us to 2012 and the band's self-titled release with a line-up that has not recorded an album together in 27 years and the first album without Pepper Keenan in over twenty years. That's their background and now I need to lay down my thoughts at them before I get to the new material. "Animosity" was the first album I heard by them and this was around 1986. It blew me away, the raw mix of speed and crazed vocals had me hooked. I heard the debut "Eye for an eye" next and admired the energy, but knew Animosity had been a step up. "Technocracy" was almost as good as "Animosity" and many of my friends preferred it, but I liked Mike Dean's chaotic style more than that of Simon Bob. Fast forward more than four years to the fall of 1991 and "Blind" comes out. All traces of hardcore are gone and the band has slowed down. Now I knew that they liked this style because Woody Weatherman always had that Saint Vitus sticker on his guitar in the 80's and he wore Sabbath shirts frequently at that time as well. However the new approach was a shock, it was alright but not what I hoped for. However for me the band got worse after that. Pepper Keenan seemed to take over and all traces of the band's early days were wiped away. Now I love stoner and doom, but` those next several albums from the band calling themselves COC were quite honestly dull to say the least. However they certainly became more popular during this period. I heard that the "Animosity" line-up was returning, but didn't hold a lot of hope that they would return to that style because it had been so long and they made more money going with the slower style. Now after that long rant I'll get to the music here. I have been playing this thing on and off for two weeks trying to pin down what I think. The album is a mix of the styles that the band has done during their long career. There are slow winding tracks and some fast ones, but it's not an even mix because there are definitely more slower tracks. So out of 11 songs we get four where they kind of step the pace up. "Leeches" is the closest they get to the "Animosity" style. They even toss in some guitar squeals on this one, of course the difference is here it was planned. It's a solid track even though Mike Dean's vocals are much more sedate than they were back in the day. "The Moneychangers" is a fast chugging track but nothing like the old COC hardcore. It's more of a southern rock with some charge behind and it has slow parts too. "Rat City" is fast, but slick with a decent groove going. "What we become" is probably my favorite track on the album. It's pace is similar to say material from "Blind" and "Deliverance", but the spirit and heaviness is closer to their mid-80's output. The result is a hard punching song with Mike Dean's vocals leading the way. The other seven songs are slow and of varying quality. Mike Dean sounds far better than Pepper Keenan and there is more of a doom sound mixed instead of just southern fried stoner rock. However some of these songs eventually go somewhere, but there is still plenty of filler. Like much of their output over the last twenty years there are too many songs where what I hear in the first thirty seconds is all I am going to get for the next four minutes. The riffs are decent, but they never really do enough to build the songs but instead just glide along. I have no problem with a band changing styles if they have something to really give in that new style and they attempt to progress. To me COC got worse with each album during the stoner rock period with this new release being the one exception to that. This new album has several good songs and this may be favorite album from them in a long time. However overall it's a rather average album because the number of memorable tracks are about equal with the forgettable ones. They claim it's a return of the "Animosity" line-up and it is just a return of the line-up, but not the sound other than on a couple of songs. Instead it's mixed bag of what they have dabbled in over the years. There are a few sparks, but this band will never be nearly as good as they were around 1985-1987.

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Steel and Fire Records-True Metal Never Rusts Vol. 1

Steel and Fire Records

I happen to love compilation albums. In fact I've been collecting them now for longer than I can remember. From "Rising Metal" to the "Metal Massacre" series to "Metal For Muthas". You name it and more that likely I have it (even if they are mixed and matched between tapes, CDs, LPs and MP3s). So, with that I had to check out this compilation from upstart label Steel and Fire Records. First things first this is a free download although they are asking for a donation if you can swing it. It is well worth it and it will help the label out. I'm all for new record labels especially when their goal is to sign and release material by traditional heavy metal style bands! Really though the bands here cover all sorts of genres from NWOBHM inspired to power metal, thrash and speed. Pretty much everything except for doom. And you know what? These bands actually sound good. Where did they find 14 bands this good that were unsigned? Do yourself a solid and check out this compilation and if you can throw them a bone or two to help out.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Church of misery-Master of brutality

Rise Above/Metal Blade

This album was originally released back in 2001 on Southern Lord. There have been other re-issues prior to this edition as well. Japanese band Church of misery play stoner rock/doom with many of the songs being about serial killers. This is fairly typical swirling down tuned fodder with basic structures nd not many turns and twists. However the tones and the way they hit on every note and beat is what helps make this one better than just ordinary. They chug and churn their way through their songs with a definite 70's influence s underneath the layers of sound. One of my favorite tracks was their cover of BOC's Cities on flame. I have heard so many bands of this genre misfire on covers because they put nothing of themselves into it. However these guys remain faithful to the original, but put their own stamp onto it as well. Hearing most of the songs being about serial killers isn't really my thing, but I loved the music and on that level they certainly kept my interest throughout the album. I didn't hear this when it first came out, but certainly enjoy it now. This re-issue from Rise Above includes bonus tracks.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Forgotten Gems: Johnny Touch-Fight For It Demo

Abysmal Sound

Can a forgotten gem be only two years old? Sure, why not. We have not set any firm rules in stone or anything right? Besides, I'm not sure how else to go about reviewing this 2010 demo since it isn't a modern day release. Or at least modern in the sense of under six months. So with that (and since I've been on a real traditional heavy metal kick lately) I thought why not just share this demo with fellow minded rock and heavy metal fans? Seeing as it is making the rounds at all the various heavy metal blog sites I visit there must be something to this three-track demo. By way of the group's Myspace page (link below) I'm directed towards groups like Judas Priest, Loudness, Metal Church, Cloven Hoof, Diamond Head, King Diamond, Rainbow, Cities, Megadeth, Van Halen and Toxik as a point of reference. Fair enough I'd say. Maybe throw in some Black Sabbath and Dio although neither quite reaches the dark corners Johnny Touch aim for. Heck, if one didn't know better you might even swear you felt some of that punk metal (Motorhead, Tank, Venom,etc) that we grew up on although it could just be my imagination. Anyway, this particular hard, heavy and somewhat fast group comes straight out of Australia and features Sam Marzden on lead vocals, Jamie Whyte - lead guitars (which are a blast from the past), Damon Good-bass and Denny Blake -drums/guitar. Given the song titles ("Knife Fight Night", "Master Your Masters" and "Leather Reputation") you should know that this demo is a nod to the old school or the "lost scene" as they put it. This one was a cassette release limited to only 300 copies so I've provided a link below for the download. If you like your music (metal) to be heavy/speed/power then you'll want to check this out. I must give props to the excellent site "Cassette Back to Rock Again" for the link. That is where I first ran across this three-track delight. I'm not sure who originally posted this demo but whoever it was had good taste!



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Forgotten Gems-Arabia-1001 Nights

Having been released in 2001 this album isn't quite as old as many of the other albums we feature in this segment. However it certainly is forgotten or just overlooked, but more importantly it really is a gem. I believe I won something form a seller on eBay like 7-8 years ago and saw this CD going from the seller for a buck with no bids on it so I picked it up too hoping the music would be as good as the album cover. This is an album that either came out too late or too early depending on how you look it. Too late in that the style here was first popular around the late to mid 80's so they were too late for that. However 80's hard rock has seen a slight resurgence in recent years that wasn't quite as big back 11 years ago when this album came out.So first who were these guys? The only two guys you may have known from other work are drummer Bobby Marks (Keel, Scarecrow and others) vocalist John Blaze also of Scarecrow. The sound here hard rock/melodic metal along the lines of Whitesnake, Blue Murder and Dokken although there are some AOR touches too. Blaze's vocals are wonderful, the kind of marvelous pipes this style of music really needs to make it stand out. The music is very much together and catchy. It's an album where you hear it wonder why you didn't hear of these guys sooner? I would guess part of the reason for that is the one I mentioned above. They probably didn't get a great deal of noticed 11 years ago, but it's worth tracking down now. Fans of this style will likely take to this album right away. These guys did knock out a second album just last year with only Blaze returning from the first album. I have not heard that one, but did read in one source that it had more of a modern rock sound than "1001 Nights".

Labels: , ,


Metal Blade
RAM formed back in 1999 with the founding members wanting to form a real metal band as they were unhappy with the current metal scene of the day. RAM hails from Gothenburg, Sweden which is a place known mostly for it's melodic death metal. These guys went a different route though going back to classic metal roots. "Death" is there fourth album, third full length and first on Metal Blade. Most the tracks are mid-tempo with a few slower bits worked in the middle here and there, but only breifly. The two most common influences I hear are Mercyful Fate and Judas Priest, but I am sure that plenty of lesser influences can be heard throughout the album.
"...Comes from the mouth" is one of the top tracks with it's winding early Mercyfal Fate type passages. The early Judas Priest inspired "Release Me" is another top track here with it's pounding beats and searing vocals. RAM stick to a fairly predictable script, but they do it very well. All the licks, solos, beats, thumping bass lines and every word of the vocals just scream out late 70's to early-mid 80's metal. They just jump it and rip it up and they are strong in every aspect except of course originality. If you enjoy metal from years ago then this is definitely a treasure.

Labels: ,

Rocka Rollas - The War Of Steel Has Begun

Stormspell Records

After reviewing Rocka Rollas previous demo material (and loving it!) I am still not sure how I let this one slip by me. Released in November this LP is a perfect fit for Stormspell Records. After all this Swedish band sure knows a thing or two about crafting pure speed metal bliss. Given the name of the band you might be tempted to expect more of a Judas Priest vibe. I'm sure these guys have listened to Halford and company of course (after all doesn't every young metal musician at one point or another?) and know a thing or two about traditional metal. That said what you have here is more of a Running Wild party going on with a side order of Helloween and a shot or two of liquid courage (or some New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal love if you will).
With great song titles like "Metal The Posers To Death", "Fight For The Loud" and "More Metal Than The Steel" you just can't go wrong folks. Tack on a cover of "Heavy Metal Machine" by Steel (a band that Dan Swäno and Mikael Akerfeldt took part in briefly) and what you end up with "The War Of Steel Has Begun" is a nice slab of old school loving traditional/speed metal fun.

The Sacrificed-III

Roxx Records / DMD

The Sacrificed have brought in two new members for their aptly titled third album and the results are nothing short of amazing. Really this new album speaks volumes about the difference new blood can make for a band. With new guitarist/ backing vocalist Michael Phillips (Deliverance, fasedown) and new bass player Daniel Cordova (Vengeance Rising) joining founding members Eli Prinsen (lead vocalist) and Jay Williams (drums) "III" has ended up being not only the best album so far from this Christian metal band but also one of the more enjoyable power metal/progressive metal albums I've heard in quite sometime. When the promo promised to take the band to a whole new level both musically and lyrically it wasn't kidding. On this new album the group has finally started to form their own sound as they look to move away from the comparisons to bands like Queensryche and Sacred Warrior. Sure the group was influenced by those two acts and there is no doubt that this new album will appeal to fans of Queensryche, Symphony X and Dream Theater. That said there is some excellent power metal to be found within and you can tell we have the two new members to thank for that. While the Queensryche vibe is still present it comes off more as early Queensryche when Geoff Tate and crew were more power metal and less progressive rock. This album also makes a turn into the heavier side of metal much like where Deliverance started off. Opening with "The World Is Changing" (which is just news clips) the album tackles topics ranging from The Ark of the Covenant to The Nephilim Agenda. The band has never been shy about tackling controversial topics while also wearing their faith on their sleeves. As with the groups previous efforts ("2012" and "The Da Vinci Hoax") "III" is a release that might turn off those who are not Christian. Even the cover (which is a symbol and representation of the three nails that pierced the hands and feet of Jesus Christ) makes a bold statement that The Sacrificed are not going to hide their faith. Take the song "Behold The Power Of God" for example. No confusing the meaning behind that one. Yet here is the beauty of this band as they get their message out while laying down seriously intense power metal. My guess is you won't hear a praise song like that everyday! Even if your not a Christian there is plenty to enjoy about this album as honestly well crafted progressive/power metal like this really pulls you in. A great effort and an album I will be listening to a lot down the road.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Forgotten Gems-Medieval Steel-s/t

Medieval Steel formed in Memphis, Tennessee back in the early 1980's. They soon cranked out this four track self-titled EP in 1984. The sound here is a mix between classic style metal such as Iron Maiden, Jag Panzer and Omen mixed in with early prog-metal like Queensryche and Crimson Glory. Since there are only four songs I'll take them indivually. For "Battle beyond the stars" I am guessing they had received enjoyment from the 1980 Roger Corman film of the same name. This one kind of sounds a little like early Crimson Glory with a pounding beat. It's basic and very controlled, but tight. "Warlords" is heavier with a churning riff reminding me some of Omen, but the vocals are of the higher variety reminding me more of early Geoff Tate or Midnight from Crimson Glory."Echoes" is a very mellow track that almost feels out of place. Not bad, but not so much metal. It features the vocals above all else and they sound fine yet this still sounds like a song that might have been tucked away in a soundtrack for a mid-80s romance film. The solos help though too. "Medieval Steel" is the real gem here. A more expansive track with great melodies and a real bite to it. A definite headbanger with great squealing riffs and some mighty vocals. I loved three out of four songs and the other was just alright. Still a definite gem that I never heard until recently although I had heard of the band for years. The band reformed back in 2005 and were active in recent years. I have heard so many bands over the years, but it's still great to find albums like this with so much to offer.

Labels: , ,

Forgotten Gems: Dr. Skull-Wory Zover

Ada Muzik

Turkish band Dr. Skull was formed in 1983 by a group of high school kids. Originally the band was known as Skull with the Dr. being added later on when members were in medical school. Even though they have been described as a "Turkish Iron Maiden" the group's 1990 debut has more in common with hard rock/traditional heavy metal bands than the NWOBHM sound. Actually "Wory Zover" (War Is Over) sounds to these ears like a cross between a more metal Blue Oyster Cult (without the keys) and several bands from the FWOSHM (First Wave Of Swedish Heavy Metal) movement. As one of the first true heavy metal bands from Turkey Dr. Skull was able to manage three albums before folding. As stated "Wory Zover" is the band's debut album and has more of a traditional heavy metal/hard rock feel than Iron Maiden making me wonder who ever connected the two bands? According to my sources the group's later material took on more of a punk edge although I have honestly not heard the other two albums so I can't say for certain that is the case. What I can say for sure is that "War Is Over" and "The Gate Of Brandenburg" open the album up and give you two slabs of true heavy metal. The album is good like that in the way it presents such a straight ahead metal sound. Sure for 1990 this LP is dated. That sort of regular hard rock/heavy metal sound was just about played to death and yet this album has it's own little charm. "Lonely Nights" is a great rock number with great guitar riffs as is "Rock The School". There was a lot of garage rock to be found in Dr. Skull as well and one can't help but wonder if the group actually started off as greasy hair rock and rollers. For me any rock band from Turkey is a bit of a novelty because frankly it just doesn't seem like the sort of place that produce hard and heavy guitar loving maniacs. Yet here it is and it is really worth tracking down online if for no other reason than the fact that it is a piece of heavy metal history. Who knew history could be such a fun topic?

Blood Ceremony-s/t


Rise Above/Metal Blade

This is a re-issue of Blood Ceremony's self-titled album which originally came out in 2008. I remember a couple years before this came out someone had sent me a link to their Myspace page and I checked out the rough versions they had of their songs. So I was very excited by the time this album finally came out. They embrace the very early days of metal and slightly before. Think Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Pentagram, Jefferson Airplane, Dust and others. Although don't think too heavy because there is a definitely a hippie edge to their sound with flutes, organs and more chiming in frequently. As you may have guessed from the band name magic is a prime theme as in songs like "A wine of wizardry" and "Into the cover". Honestly I had not listened to this album in a while and I can appreciate it even more than I did a few years ago. Alia O'Brien's haunting vocals fit in nicely and really compliment the mood on so many songs. Like Withcraft, Blood Ceremony are not just influenced by early 70-s acts, but instead they try hard to really re-create the sound from that period. In that they certainly succeed. Like the bands they love, this is an album that isn't going to run you over but instead you need to lean back and let it soak in a gradual level and indeed it will. I was expecting to enjoy this once I spun the re-issue, but I actually enjoyed it enough to play it three times in a short period time. I found more to enjoy about it with each turn. If you missed it the first time around don't make this time.

Labels: ,


Svarga Music

I'm not sure which is weirder for this Ukrainian act the fact that the lyrics are written in Ukrainian, Russian and German or the fact that they mix folk, industrial and death metal with black metal and symphonic elements? The album is said to explore "problems of mankind’s relation to the past, ideas of greatness and boundless possibilities of the human spirit, and the strength of will and character". Combine that with "Cosmology concepts are also represented, albeit leaning toward the social aspects explore problems" and you end up with a release that is certainly compelling. The group's sophomore release is certainly experimental and from all signs this is the direction they wish to go. If you find yourself looking for something different and don't mind that this Ukrainian act really does march to the beat of it's own drummer then this is an album you must hear. Folk black metal is one thing. Mixing in electronic elements though transports this one to a whole different realm. Interesting to say the least.

Monday, January 16, 2012



This is actually a re-issue of an album that originally came out in early 2010. This version comes with new cover art. Formed in 2006 South California's Witchaven are old style thrash with some tinges of early black and death metal tossed in. The most obvious influences are Show no mercy-era Slayer and Kreator around 86-86. Almost every song starts with some tightly wound swirling riffs with the drums pumping hard to keep up. Instead of Tom Araya type growls we get an approach that's closer to several German thrash bands back in the early days of the style. The whole album reaches back to about 84-85 and doesn't try to go beyond that time period. The energy level is high and that helps to a certain extent. The problem here is that most of the songs were around two or three minutes yet I still felt myself growing bored all too quickly. I have been listening to old style thrash well since it was new and not old. So for a band playing this style to really impress me and draw me in they are going to have reach out a little and do more than just re-hash their influences. This is a little better than a lot of bands playing retro-thrash these days. I could imagine them possible being pretty entertaining live due to the energy. Yet on "Terrorstorm" they are above average, but a bit too routine to really make an impression. You have heard this before many times over before.

Labels: , ,

Midnight-Satanic Royalty

Hells Headbangers

It's hard to imagine that a band like Cleveland's Midnight (who have been around since 2003) are just now releasing a full-length album. This more or less one-man project (obviously with demons helping out now and then live and in studio) has had plenty of demos, splits, EPs, compilations and even a live release and yet this is the first real album to see the light of day. Jamie Walters (A.K.A. "Athenar") is the main driving force behind Midnight. Walters is pretty well known around Ohio having spent time in Abdullah, Destructor, Boulder (who I actually have several LPs from!) and Mach II. With Midnight the name of the game is gritty, raw and black Venom inspired thrash and man if this thing doesn't leave you feeling a bit bloody and spent by the time it is all said and done. This one isn't for the faint of heart or those that like their metal to be technical and precise. This is ugly, sweaty and just as nasty as the hell from which it was spawned. In other words it is METAL!!!!!!!!!!

Forgotten Gems-Saint-s/t


If you of a certain age you probably recall a time when AOR bands ruled the airwaves. Whether you enjoyed that style or not is up to you. For myself I liked some bands but it seemed like for every solid band like Journey you had two annoying bands like Loverboy. AOR to me is a style I have to be in the mood for, but having it burned into my eardrums in the early 80's has giving me somewhat of an appreciation for bands that do it right. That brings me to an overlooked gem in this style. Not to be confused with the christian metal band of the same name and not to be dismissed for the lame album cover, this Saint played pure AOR with some hard rock touches. Their self-titled debut was released in 1984 and was hard to find. Retrospect released it on CD in 2006, but has since gone out of print. So were they any good? Opener "Desperate Times" is so much like Journey that you might be wondering if it was some bonus track that was left of the "Frontiers" album. Much of this album has definite similarities to what Journey did between 1978 and 1983 with maybe a touch of Foreigner thrown in. They don't earn many originality points for that approach, but if you are going to copy someone you may as well copy the best. I am not trying to dismiss Saint as just a copy band because that's not fair or entirely true. They possess a good knack for controlling the melodies and pace. Every song has plenty to offer for fans of AOR. When I am in the mood for this kind of music I frequently find myself pulling this one out for a spin. Definitely worth tracking down.

Labels: , ,

Forgotten Gems-Cancer-Death shall rise


I remember buying this one on cassette back in 1991. This was back in my death metal phase so anything that growled and flew by at 100 MPH was up my alley. In the early 1990's one of the top death metal scenes around was in the Tampa, Florida area. Cancer didn't hail from there. In fact they were from England, but the sound here was pure Florida death metal. Obituary, Death and Autopsy are all influences. A large part of the sound and the quality is likely due to the fact that James Murphy (Death, Testament and a pile of others) came to the band for this album. That probably explains the influences too, but he also brings his experience and his flair. I wore this one out back in the early 90's, but my tastes changed and I hadn't heard this album in about 17 years. Until the other day I decided to download it and give it a shot. Not every album of this style from back that has held up well, but fortunately this one has. Only eight songs and it's fairly predictable for the style, but it's actually even better than I remembered. It retains the speed and heaviness, but there are also some real grooves that many acts of still were sadly lacking. On "Death shall rise" every song is solid with a strong attention to detail. That last part is likely what has made this album hold up so well for 20 plus years. My only regret was that I waited so long to give this one a chance again.

Labels: ,

Wykked Wytch-The Ultimate Deception

Goomba Music

What do you make of a band who plan to release an album called "The Ultimate Deception" on February 14th? Anyone else see the irony? Wykked Wytch (not to be confused with J.J. Merciless' Wicked Witch) is fronted by the one and only Ipek (one of the few female vocalists I can think of who can go from death growls to high pitched screams to operatic and not even blink) and features session drummer Kevin Talley (Daath, Six Feet Under, Chimaira) and new lead guitarist / songwriter Nate Poulson. Musically this is a mixture of black metal, gothic metal, technical thrash and melodic thrash. Production work came courtesy of engineer Daniel Castleman (As I Lay Dying, Winds of Plague) who recorded & mixed Wykked Wytch's fifth full-length and gave the group an upfront sound. Finishing touches were handled by Alan Douches (The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Black Dahlia Murder) and the result is an album that captures the raw nature of this unique band. What I liked about the album was the fact that it moved along keeping you on your toes with it's technical drumming and guitar solos. Musically this release is very interesting. The down side though is of the nine original tracks there wasn't any in particular that really stood out. So as good as the album is there isn't that one moment or song that really did it for me. The group throws in a black metal inspired cover of Metallica’s “Fade To Black” which is interesting even if it doesn't add anything to the original. As the promo states Ipek and company were determined to break new ground on this release and judging from the different elements I would say they succeeded. It's a good release even if it doesn't scream "must own".

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Young Blood-Transfusion


Angel Air is a label known for specializing in quality re-issues. Their re-issue of "Transfusion" is an import album that actually was released this past September although it just recently came to my attention. It supposedly comes complete with a nice booklet/package however my copy came from Itunes originally so all I have is the music to go by. "Transfusion" is made up of some Young Blood demo cuts, Young Blood's "First Blood" (Young Blood's 1984 debut EP) and a 1989 demo of the band when they had changed their moniker and become known as Saviour. Before we go any further I know the question your asking right now. So, who exactly was Young Blood to begin with? Well, the group was formed back in the early 80s out of the ashes of pop band Civilian. As part of the NWOBHM movement (the later part actually) the band's sound garnered critical acclaim from Sounds journalist Garry Bushell and they were (like so many before them) predicted to be the next big thing. With what was more of a melodic take on the genre (no doubt leftover from the band's days as a pop group) the band had a style not too far removed from the likes of Praying Mantis, Samson or Tygers Of Pan Tang. Lead by frontman/guitarist and chief songwriter Stewart Goodchild (who is the only thing that connects Young Blood to Saviour by the way) the group was a power trio from Darlington that managed to play with acts like Grand Slam (featuring Phil Lynott), Tokyo Blade, She, Thor and even Motorhead! The tracks by Young Blood are worth the price of admission alone especially if your into the NWOBHM scene. Goodchild had a knack for crafting catchy hard rock and had Young Blood not been done in by bad management, line-up changes and health problems things might have turned out different for the three-piece act. Following Young Blood's folding some years passed before Saviour appeared in 1989. By this point Goodchild had hooked up with drummer Geoff Armstrong (of Tygers Of Pan Tang fame) and former Pauline Gillan Band bassist/keyboard player Chris Wing. With the new members came a new sound and a new demo to be shopped to labels. The new sound was still melodic although this time it had more in common with AOR acts like Journey, Foreigner, Bad English and Survivor. By 1989 that was not really what people were pinning for and with no takers Saviour was laid to rest. Despite it's production set backs (Saviour just screams eighties AOR) the material isn't that bad and again if Goodchild would have had better luck (lets say it was released in the early parts of the eighties) it could have possible gone somewhere. Instead it sat collecting dust somewhere until Angel Air came along. "Transfusion" is really a tale of two cities and unless your a fan of melodic NWOBHM/pop metal and AOR this release will fall on deaf ears. For me it is a nice little gem from an era long since past.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Zebulon Pike-Space is the corpse of time


Thanksgiving was almost two months ago, but that doesn't mean that I still can't thankful for the return of Zebulon Pike. So we get the first album from since 2008's Intransience and their forth total. If you are unfamiliar with this band they are prog/stoner/doom instrumental masters. They have an electric yet elaborate sound because it encompasses so many styles, but unlike some other bands of similar genres they don't to caught up in themselves. They realize it's about the music not about the individual players. Each of the five songs here has it's own personality. Each track clocks in around the ten minute mark. Given the length and this band's ability for diving into different styles you are treated to so many various sounds and tones on every track. At times they meander around a bit longer than most people might like, but hold on because eventually they are going somewhere with each musical passage. I found this album to be slightly darker in tone than some of their previous work, but that was with me because they weave that mood into the proceedings on spectacular fashion. Probably an album that requires some real patience from the listener, but well worth the effort.

Labels: ,

On Top-Top Heavy

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions

Don't let the album cover fool you into thinking this is some sort of sleaze rock release. Far from it! This three-piece band are another fine example of throwback metal. By way of the album cover you'd think that this would be a waste of time. Yet again this is why I preach the right art for the right band. Here we have a group spoon feed stuff like Motorhead, Saxon, Accept, Judas Priest, Malice, Dio, Metallica, Grim Reaper and Helloween. The band has even been compared to cult acts like Obsession. So this band has some serious metal chops. With that about as sleazy as this thing might get is the subtle nods of appreciation towards early Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Scorpions, Ratt, Dokken and W.A.S.P. Even then it is only the hard rock essence of those groups and not the glitz and glam. This album is a solid debut from a group bound to get better with age. Listening to this one is sure to remind you of heavy metal's heyday when you raced down to Mom and Pops record store looking for the latest albums from the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Armored Saint, Loudness, Saxon, Megadeth and Iron Maiden. Back when the genre was still dangerous a band like On Top would have been on top of the metal charts thanks to this foot stomping metal romp. This is another band I am excited about watching grow into a serious contender.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hate Squad-Katharsis


Germany's Hate Squad started up in the 1990's and sound wise they are still very much stuck in that decade. The positive part of that statement is that their music is straight forward, there's no apologies just plowing forward like they hate everything and they'll let you know. The music is basic, but heavy and aggressive. Obviously they enjoy this style and just crank it up and churn it out. I like this album for a few minutes or so, but it's old really fast. The power of metalcore has a certain appeal, but we've all heard this before from these guys and better acts. Many of the songs bleed together if you take enough of the repetition of a song to listen to the whole thing and last into the next song. There is plenty to be said for being heavy and steady, but lack of any attempt at putting in some variation or different hooks is what kills this album for me. I admire their spirit to a certain extent, but there just isn't enough going on here to keep me interested for the whole album or make me return to it. Those that loved these guys years ago will probably embrace this album too, but fans looking for metalcore with some depth to it will need to look elsewhere.

Labels: ,

Steelwing-Zone Of Alienation

Noiseart Records

Swedish metal band Steelwing are one of those acts that like to pretend they are a product of the eighties. As Metal Mark pointed out in his review of their debut album, "Lord Of The Wasteland" (link provided below) their sound was born out of groups like Iron Maiden, Saxon and Anvil. Following their 2010 EP ("Roadkill (Or Be Killed)" which included two Judas Priest covers-another influence) the group set out recording this new concept album. For their sophomore release the group choose to work with producer Rikard Löfgren (Deathstars, Manakin and Enforcer) and the result is another fine example of NWOTHM (New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal). Who wouldn't appreciate a young group like this who pays tribute (through their music) to groups like Dio, Megadeth, Riot and Omen? This is the sound of heavy metal at it's finest from a band that no doubt grew up spinning all the classics in their bedrooms. It might not be groundbreaking or anything you haven't heard before. If your willing to move past that thought for a moment you will find that what you have with Steelwing is a young group that is actually playing heavy metal. Good, old fashioned heavy metal. That alone isn't a novelty per say I know. With so many bands these days trying to recapture that old sound the market actually has been flooded. What with Enforcer, White Wizzard and the like. What strikes me though about Steelwing is the fact that it doesn't come off as cheesy or retro even if this sound was made famous in the eighties. Instead it comes across as modern metal influenced by older metal. And since the band is made up of top-notch musicians and a lead vocalist who can hold his own this concept album proves to be a winner. This is a great sophomore release from a band on the rise.

Strikemaster-Vicious Nightmare


Hailing from Mexico these guys formed in 2005 and this is actually a re-issue of an album originally put out in 2009, but it's my first time hearing it. I hear a lot of throwback thrash acts and that's fine by me as I loved this style back in the late 80's. Yet therein lies the tough part, that being how do these young bands do enough to make me want to care about them instead of just listening to the bands they are influenced by instead? I am an old metal fan and kind of picky too so I certainly don't feel that I have to embrace every band just because they play a style I enjoyed twenty some years ago. So for me these bands have to prove something other than they can just copy a classic thrash band. Strikemaster pull upon influences that are both numerous and obvious. They include Bay area acts like Exodus, Testament, Vio-lence but also bands like early Dark Angel as well. The sound is definitely based around what were going on about 1986-88 so right before many thrash acts began to tone down the speed. So there is nothing earth shattering to their sound. Yet they manage to tap into the power and the pure chaotic part of what made so many bands worth listening to back in the prime days of thrash. If I had to describe Strikemaster in a word it would be "relentless" because they never stop. If you love classic thrash then you need to hear this one.

Labels: ,

French Metal Friday: Nightmare

French power metal band Nightmare formed in 1979. Originally the group was greatly influenced by the NWOBHM movement (their early sound coming off as a cross between Iron Maiden and Def Leppard) before morphing into the power metal that they are now known for. As one of the first French heavy metal bands to sing in English they ended up signing with Ebony Records (home at one point to Savage, Demon Eyes, Blade Runner and Grim Reaper) for their first two releases. Their big break came initially after opening for (then) NWOBHM rockers Def Leppard in 1983 at the Alpexpo of Grenoble. Playing for a crowd of well over 4,000 the group impressed fans with their brand of traditional heavy metal. Despite a built in fan base and two well-received albums the group was unable to hold things together. Done in by musical differences, problems with the record label and a changing landscape (traditional heavy metal was out and thrash was in) they folded in 1987. French metal bands (like their NWOBHM brothers) never seem to really die so in 1999 Nightmare was back in action. This time around though they were led by former drummer turned lead singer Jo Amorereb. The "Astral Deliverance" EP followed. It was released as a tribute to their late singer Jean-Marie Boix. At that point the music changed as well as the band gravitated toward a power metal sound. Since then the band has remained committed to putting French metal back on the map.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Grindcore Karaoke

For those of you who don't know Jucifer is a two-piece sludge metal band. The band was formed in 1993 by Gazelle Amber Valentine and her then-boyfriend Edgar Livengood. According to Wikipedia their name comes from a comment made at O.J. Simpson's trials for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman: "If he's guilty, then he's the devil and The Juice is Lucifer." Certainly an interesting name for this nomadic band that more or less just lives on the road. "Nadir" features some of the earliest music the band ever recorded. Since it was laid to tape in a home studio the sound is primitive and raw although honestly so is much of the later day music of Jucifer. Sure this EP has been remixed and mastered by Scott Hull (meaning the sound isn't as rough as it would be otherwise) and yet you still feel the underground vision that drove Jucifer then as it does now. While Grindcore Karaoke is handling the release for now this EP (which is must-have for Jucifer fans) will see a vinyl release by Handshake Inc. in 2012.

Arise The Titan Interview

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing vocalist Mike Leone of Columbus based metal act Arise The Titan. For those who haven't read my review of their album I have pasted the link at the bottom of this post. If crushing hardcore metal is something that brings a smile to your face then be sure to check out their new album.

Andy-Tell me how did Arise The Titan come about?

Mike-About 3 years ago our guitarist, Kyle, just started it up with a group of friends who wanted to play metal and bring something fresh to the Columbus scene. Over the years the lineup slowly formed into what it is today, with me being the most recent addition. When I joined the band in August I had a full CD of instrumentals to write to, got them done and recorded the album with the guys.

Andy-Somehow the name seems to really fit. Is there a story behind it?

Mike-Yes, actually there is! I was not personally around for the name selection, but when they were determining the name they wanted it to embody the thought of something huge coming from nothing (which is exactly what we’re trying to do by reaching as many people as possible with our music). The exact phrasing, however, was taken from a Robot Chicken episode. Once Kyle heard the quote ‘Arise, chicken, arise!’ he and his band mates at the time put that together with their original idea and Arise the Titan was born.

Andy-The usual question asked of all bands is what are your influences. Why break with tradition then. What makes the band tick?

Mike-With 5 members in the band all contributing to our music, this is a pretty broad question. All in all, we love metal in all of its various forms and just want to produce something fresh. In our music you can definitely hear bits and pieces of all sorts of metal sub genres, but as far as specific bands go, I’ll say that Bleeding Through/Unearth are very big influences. We like to mix our thrash with breakdowns, and those are some of the very best bands from the earlier days of metalcore that we’ve been able to look up to as we produce our own music. As a vocalist I can say that I’ve been influenced in many ways by many different bands, and I like to bring a bunch of different vocal styles to the table when I perform/record. Of these bands, I’d say that All Shall Perish has had a very big impact on me: their lyrics are passionate and emotional and the delivery is brought with a metric fuckton of power, which is along the same lines of what I like to do.

Andy-This is a similar question then. I caught the hardcore in ATT's sound. Is there a background in hardcore or is that just an interest?

Mike-There definitely is a background in hardcore/metalcore in ATT. Adam, one of our guitarists, and myself have both performed in smaller hardcore bands in the past, so we tend to be the driving force behind the hardcore sound in our band. Like I said earlier, I like to write my lyrics from the heart and deliver them with passion, which is a characteristic that I see in a lot of the good hardcore that’s out there. Hardcore is very much embedded in our background and is something that will continue to come in and out of our songs

Andy-Fill us in on the scene in your part of Ohio.

Mike-The central Ohio metal scene is, in my humble opinion, one of the fastest developing local metal scenes in the country. There are so many great but these are some of my favorites. Shores of Elysium are definitely the first band I’ll list: just go fucking listen to these guys, they are heavy as fuck and bring a great live show with them wherever they go. My other favorites from the area would definitely be Flawless Among the Fallen and Shall Be the Conqueror, each a very different take on progressive metal.

Andy-What bands have you shared the stage with?

Mike-Some notable bands that we’ve shared the stage with are Sylosis, Psychostick, Gwen Stacy, Mushroomhead, Bury Your Dead, God Forbid, For Today, Macawber and Reaping Asmodeia. In about a month we’ll be able to add the mighty Children of Bodom, Revocation and Threat Signal to that list: I couldn't’t be more pumped.

Andy-What bands would you like to play with?

Mike-In addition to Children of Bodom, who I’m incredibly excited to play for, I would absolutely love to play with Whitechapel, After the Burial, The Black Dahlia Murder, Born of Osiris, All Shall Perish, Arsonists Get All The Girls, Attila, Within the Ruins, Veil of Maya, The Ghost Inside, Stick to Your Guns, etc. I could list bands that I love all day, but I think that’s a good list for you.

Andy-Fill in the blank time. One thing people would be surprised to know about ATT is?

Mike- Our age spectrum! Our youngest member, Shane (drummer) is only 19 years old while the ‘[grand]father-figure’ of the band, Adam, is 29 years old. Adam graduated high school when Shane was only in second grade: who would have thought that they’d end up melting faces together later in life? The rest of us are pretty evenly spread out across that 10 year difference.

Andy-Favorite film you can never get enough of.

Mike-This is a very tough question, haha. I know you asked for one, but too bad, I’m giving you a small list! The LOTR trilogy (I’m a fan of the books first, don’t get me wrong, but the films are brilliant as well!), anything that Quentin Tarantino has touched (especially Four Rooms, Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind, and, er… Mrs. Doubtfire!

Andy-Last album you listened to?

Mike-This may come as a surprise, but the last album I listened to was The Spill Canvas’ Sunsets and Car Crashes. I have a softer side too! The last metal album I listened to was After the Burial’s Rareform.

Andy-Any favorite pit stories?

Mike- Haha, I have so many good pit stories it’d make your head spin! Mind you, moshing is a large part of how I got into heavy music in the first place, and is definitely my favorite pastime. One story worth mentioning is from all the way back in Warped Tour in ’08. It was a good day for moshing in general: I was going hard all day to the likes of All that Remains, Evergreen Terrace, Hit the Lights, A Skylit Drive, etc and in the afternoon I finally made my way into the Bring me the Horizon pit. The pit was absolutely fantastic: I started a wall of death at one point, there were circle pits aplenty and life was just good. At some point, though, someone’s skull collided with my knee. Now, this particular hit hurt a bit more than most, but I shrugged it off and kept going for the rest of the evening. When it came time to walk back to my car, I had a pretty significant limp as the adrenaline wore off, but I didn't think much of it. When we arrived, I had to physically lift my leg into my car, but still I thought I would just sleep it off and have a lot of bruises to deal with for a while. Wrong. We stopped at IHOP on the way home and once I got into the booth I could not move my leg at all. I had to have my friend carry me back into the car and then I (yes, my friends really made me fucking drive… they said they were ‘too tired’) drove 3 hours back home while the pain developed. I went to the ER to find that I had torn my knee all to hell and I spent the next couple months in a leg brace and going to physical therapy sessions.

Andy-What was the worst gig you ever played?

Mike-I wasn't in the band at the time, but at some point they all played a show in Middletown, OH where they had to carry all of the gear up 4 flights of stairs during the summer only to play a show with basically nobody there (the local bands that showed didn't bring anybody out, and a few of them dropped off altogether). After playing the set for those who were there and dragging all of the gear back down, the club owner simply vanished as he went to go get the gas money that they were promised. So they drove down to Middletown, carried extremely heavy gear up and down 4 flights during extreme heat, only to play in front of just a few people and get stiffed for promised gas money.

Andy- That is really messed up. Tell me, if the world were really going to end in 2012 and you could play one last gig where would it be?

Mike-If we could only play one more gig this year, it would HAVE to be at download festival in the UK. I want to travel overseas so badly, and that is one of the biggest festivals offered in Europe during the summer. It would be amazing!

Andy-A major studio approaches you and says there is a soundtrack being put together and they want ATT to do some covers of punk songs. What songs would you choose?

Mike-I’m sure that the answer to this would vary greatly depending on who you asked within the band, but I would love to do a metal cover of some Blink 182 or New Found Glory songs, specifically "First Date" and "Head on Collision", respectively.

Andy-Other than these interview questions what is the weirdest thing anyone has ever asked the band?

Mike-We were asked recently on a radio interview who we would have play each of us if there were a movie made about Arise The Titan. I was home sick during the interview, unfortunately, and my band members decided that I would be best portrayed in cinema by Sandra Bullock. (I mean, we both have great hair, right? Or something… haha)

Andy-Where would you like to see the band this time next year?

Mike-I would like to see us sign with a great metal label, such as Sumerian, Prosthetic, etc, or at least a booking agency that works with some talented metal acts, like Pantheon. Even if neither of these things happens, though, you can certainly expect us to be on the road full time by this time next year. We’re getting our first taste of tour when we go out for 10 days in March, and I’m sure over the course of a year we’ll be going out more often and for longer periods of time.

Andy-How can people get a copy of the new album if they can't make it out to see you live?

Mike-Our Collective Destroyer will be available on iTunes and Amazon as of Friday, January 13th. If fans want a physical copy, they can send us a message on Facebook and we’ll ship it out to them.

Andy-Final thoughts? The Captain's log is all yours...

Mike-Wherever you may be, I hope that everybody does what they can to support local music and live music in general. Go to live shows, mosh your faces off, and show support to whatever music you like the best. Artists are allowed to succeed and do what they love to do (and what you love for them to do) because of the community that supports them. The metal community is an amazing group of people worldwide that, chances are if you’re reading this interview, YOU belong to. Take part in what makes us as a community amazing by going to see live shows in your area to support both the local bands you love as well as the touring bands that are trying to get heard Also, as a metalhead, I find that it always pays off to keep your eyes and ears open for new music: chances are that you’ll find something great that you did not even know was there.