Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Andy says-
If it seems like it has been forever since we did a NWOBHM Wednesday that means it probably has been forever. Time slips away from you though the older you get and you know the old saying about how time flies when your having a good time and all. Well, here we are with the oddly named Ethel The Frog. An odd name for an odd band. After naming their band after a Monty Python sketch about the "Piranha Brothers" the group built up quite a sizable local following. As part of the early NWOBHM movement the group was known for being a high energy live act. The group made some noise thanks to their hard rock take on The Beatles song "Eleanor Rigby" in 1978. That song would help cement Ethel the Frog as part of the movement as would the track "Fight Back" released on the first "Metal for Muthas" compilation. The buzz created by these early songs helped the group to land a contract with EMI in 1979. Ethel The Frog re-released "Eleanor Rigby" as a single with "Whatever Happened to Love" as the B-side and dropped their self-titled debut album in 1980. And yet despite getting positive write-ups and the fact that things looked promising for the band the ride was all over. Reports vary some on when exactly the group called it a day. Whether or not it was before the album was released or afterwards isn't really the point. All that matters is that the band released one hell of a fine hard rock affair and then imploded. By 1980 the band's time to shine in the spotlight was over and all we were left with was the group's one lone album. Although what an album it is! As far as debuts go this one was a winner. Sure the production is shoddy and paper-thin. With that said I like to think it gives it a raw, youthful appeal. Frankly it also makes the record feel all the more real to me and also powerful.Though there might have been plenty of other bands playing similar music no one was ever quite like Ethel The Frog and this record really grew on me over the years. It is a great introduction to the movement if you've never checked out any NWOBHM for yourself and yet it is also different in it's approach. If only someone would take the time to do a proper re-release of this album and give it it's proper due. It is a timeless classic and a real gem of the movement and deserves a wider audience than what it now has!
Metal Mark says-
The NWOBHM movement was so a vast that not everyone was going to make it or even get noticed. If you only released one album chances were high you may be forgottten. That's the way it worked for Ethel the Frog unfortunately. The oddly named act had just the one album out rather in the movement. Their album is a raw affair with obviously more of a 70's metal influence since that when the bulk of the material was written. On tracks like "Apple of your eye" and "Why don't you ask?" they have a smooth flow. "What happened to love" and "Staying on my mind" are more groove centered tracks. "Bleeding Heart" starts slow and the pace goes back and forth between two speeds with some great solos mixed in. Now these guys seem like a get in and get it done kind of band with fairly short songs, but they do create a seven minute plus track in "Fire Bird". "Fire Bird" is a real showcase for the band's ideas and they make the best of it. So there are different approaches to the songs here yet all them are well down. These guys were very sharp at their trade for a debut. It's a shame they didn't stick with it longer as it would have been interesting to see where they wanted to go next. Definitely worth tracking down.

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Lotus Pedal-Pedal To The Metal


Ignorance is bliss or say they say. Mind you said ignorance does little to explain the mind numbing experience I call life and how forgetful I have grown in my old age. "Pedal To The Metal" is another album I stumbled across recently that I had meant to review some while back as a promise to a friend. Sorry. Really though this one was released in the later part of 2011 so the dust hasn't really settled on this album so let's roll up our sleeves and take this powerful muscle car for a ride shall we? This makes album number three for Cleveland's own Lotus Pedal. The band is made up off Race (Guitar), JB (Bass) and Machine Gun (Drums). Not sure who lays down the post-punk/garage rock lead vocals but they certainly agree with the wall of sound these three create. Yes folks, it is indeed power trio time again and like all good power trio acts these Cleveland rockers keep the riffs flowing like ice cold beer at happy hour. This one falls somewhere along the lines of fuzzed out space rock/stoner metal although the band does twist things about with influences ranging from metal to progressive rock to grunge. The album plays out with plenty of fuzz rock riffs and 70's hard rock love making Lotus Pedal sound other worldly not unlike Monster Magnet, Ted Nugent, Motorhead and MC5 riding a 100 proof alcohol fueled spaceship straight into the sun. Oh yeah. Check out the band's Reverbnation page below for more info.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One sixth of the way

So we are almost one sixth of the way through 2012. Not a huge chunck, but it does seem just like yesterday that the Christmas tree was up and now here we are not from from Spring. Last year was a very good year for music, just a lot of solid albums from numerous sub-genres. Now I am not one to look ahead at what music coming out. Seriously even though I review a lot of new material I rarely check ahead for release dates. Instead I just take what comes down the pike and plan on being surprised. So far 2012 has been a good year for music I think although it's been just weeks. I am just going to through out a few basic categories and pick for 2012 so far. Here you go.
Most overhyped album that wasn't worth it-COC-s/t-Oh so boring
Most overhyped album that was decent-Surprisingly Van Halen's A different kind of truth
Most surprising album (in a good way) Sunstorm-Emotional Fire-An AOR album made up of 80's leftovers? Doesn't sound like a good idea, but with Joe Lynn Turner belting it out it sounds like gold.
Album I have yet to hear to hear but want to-UFO-Seven deadly
Best album so far that I need to finish listening to-Sigh's In Somniphobia
Overall best so far-easily Black Breath-Sentenced to life
***What albums have you heard in 2012 that you like so far??

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The Cult-Lucifer Single

(Red) MRI

Color me surprised to find out that The Cult have a new single out. I must have been sleepwalking my way through life again because I love Ian Astbury and company. "Choice of Weapon" makes album number nine for The Cult and it is five years in the making. By the sounds of "Lucifer" it seems as if the long wait has paid off. The album was co-produced by Chris Goss (Queens of the Stone Age) and longtime collaborator of the band Bob Rock (Metallica, Aerosmith among many others). Yes, we do have Bob Rock partly to blame for Metallica turning into a shell of their former selves and all but from all accounts "Choice of Weapon" sounds like it will be a great return for The Cult. This single (and hopefully the whole record for that matter) is their take on heavy modern rock. The only difference is that The Cult make the genre sound cool again. Seriously how can you not like The Cult with their mix of hard rock/heavy metal and goth/punk sensibilities? For me at least I always thought that The Cult were what The Doors would have sounded like if bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath were their biggest influences. Dark and mysterious their music always intrigued me and this new single is no different. I've got my figures crossed that the new album will be just as wicked.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Forgotten Gems-Bang-s/t

In the late 60's to the early 70's there were a lot of bands playing heavy fuzzed rock of varying styles and degrees. Some got noticed and some didn't yet many made and impact on the sound that would become metal. One of the best who never quite got their due was Florida's Bang. Like many heavy bands of the day they had a blues rock based sound although not as outward as say someone like Cactus. Bang frequently get compared to Black Sabbath. There is definitely some similarities, but I would say a better comparison would be Virginia's Pentagram or at least this self-titled album from Bang is close in style what Pentagram would soon be recording. Bang still had their own flavor too and that's what made them interesting and in my book one of the more memorable early metal band's of the day. On this album in addition to the mandatory fuzzed out riffs they have an almost disjointed pace at times. It's almost awkward in some songs yet it gives their songs a real personality even if the flow in unexpected at times. What's most surprisinmg to me every time I hear this album is how confident this young trio sounds. They come across like a band that had been at this for years. There work after this isn't as powerful to my ears although some people prefer it. These guys were metal pioneers and you have never heard them before you need to check them out.

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Frozen Rain-Ahead Of Time

Avenue Of Allies

Belgian song writer & multi-instrumentalist Kurt Vereecke is the driving force behind AOR group Frozen Rain. Four long years has past by since the release of Frozen Rain's self titled debut album. With a new album comes new faces. Joining Kurt and original Frozen Rain members Jurgen Vitrier (keyboards) and Vincent De Laat (bass) are Carsten Schulz (Evidence One,Paradise Inc., ex-Domain) on vocals, Rik Priem (rhythm, solo and acoustic guitars) and Kurt’s brother Hans Vereecke (drums). The positions might have changed (for one thing on the debut five different singers shared the vocals) but one thing that hasn't changed is Frozen Rain's ability to craft excellent melodic rock in an era when melodic rock is sometimes a dirty word. The album was mixed by Alessandro Del Vecchio (Edge Of Forever, Eden’s Curse, Shining Line, Lionville) and mastered by Dennis Ward (Unisonic, Pink Cream 69, Sunstorm) which has resulted in a smooth, crisp and clean sound. Honestly it shines bright in this cold patch of winter and gives off an almost glossy and sunny sound. However that might sound (and yes it sounds crazy) it works out! With it's splendid mix of classic guitar, flashy keyboards, pop rock drumming and soaring vocals "Ahead Of Time" is a great follow-up and another great choice for AOR/Melodic Rock fans!

Massive Assault-Death Strike

massive assualt
FDA Rekotz

Hailing from the Netherlands this band has been around since 2001. They have knocked out a pair of demos, a pair of EPs and "Death Strike' is their second full length effort. This is old style death metal along the lines of Dismember and Entombed. The album consists of ten tracks clocking in around 36 minutes so the songs are brief. The music forges ahead from the start of every song. So that's a good sign and they waste time because every second is full of aggressive no-nonsense death/thrash. The vocals are of the usual sore throat variety, but they are consistent compliment the music. Really for this style and given the short track times Massive Assault do a decent job of squeezing in a fair amount of variation on each track. Those varied riffs and beats help make this more interesting than the usual old death metal style album. Definitely worth a listen.

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Zombie Inc.-A Dreadful Decease

Massacre Records
It's kind of like the old Reese's commercial. You know someone put chocolate in my peanut butter. Only instead of that someone put zombies in my death metal. Although really if you think about it they have been there all along what with Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" coming to mind right off the bat. Anyway, on this quite cold Monday morning and after a night of tossing and turning I find myself minutes away from watching this week's episode of The Walking Dead (yes, I read the comic first as well) and as a zombie freak myself (I hope to review Africa's first road zombie movie "The Dead" this week) I am slightly amused at yet again another death band paying homage to Romero's baby. After all we can all agree we have him to thank for introducing us to the modern version of the zombie right? With that Zombie Inc. is a newer name in the already crowded gore/death genre. Probably the most recognized name here is vocalist Martin Schirenc. The former Pungent Stench vocalist has joined forces with guitarist Wolfgang Rothbauer(Disbelief, Eisblut, In Slumber, Thirdmoon, GodHateCode), guitarist Gerald Huber, (Collapse 7)bassist Daniel Lechner (The Cascades, ex-Lacrimas Profundere) and drummer Tomasz “Nefastus” Janiszewski (Belphegor, Fleshcrawl, Debauchery). If you hasn't heard of anyone other than Martin (or for that matter if you haven't heard of any of these bands other than Pungent Stench) your not alone. Neither have I so lets all jump into the shark (and zombie!) infested waters together. Names like Entombed, Autopsy, Dismember, Obituary, Deicide, Edge of Sanity and Gorefest are tossed out by the promo and who am I to argue right? After the tried and true "the dead are coming to life and attacking the living" opening we are throw into some zombie movie inspired extreme death metal with samples of the living dead and lyrics that you can actually make out here and there. Somewhat surprising considering this is brutal, old school death metal and all. So, with aggressive riffs and horror movie samples aplenty your treated to an album that is fine in and of itself even if not breaking any new ground. What do you honestly expect though originality? It is what it is and unless I'm just a tad off thanks to my cold coffee it isn't anything I haven't heard a thousand times before. I will say the guitar work is nice and all even if it never breaks out into anything you could grab hold of. So, I guess the verdict is if you like zombies and gore/death get this. If you just looking for the newest death band though I'd leave this living corpse alone and move on.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Current Playlist

Here is what we are listening to...

AC/DC-Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Rock Goddess-Rock Goddess
Blue Öyster Cult-Agents Of Fortune
Slayer-South Of Heaven
Dark Wizard-Reigh Of Evil
Cutty Sark-Die Tonight
Anthrax-Spreading The Disease
Tarot-The Spell Of Iron
Deep Purple-In Rock
Alice Cooper-Trash

Metal Mark-
Dragon's Cave-Elektro Motion
Goatwhore-Blood for the master
Blind Date-s/t
Dark Angel-Leave scars
Menchen-Red rock
Hay Perro-Eastern Ideas of death
Anthrax-Fistful of metal
Post Mortem-Message from the dead
Harry Gregson Williams-Cowboys and aliens soundtrack

***What are you listening to?

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Forgotten Gems:Chozzen Phate-Chozzen Phate

Steel Legacy Records

Back in January I got a box of mix and match CDs from a fellow tape trader. Over the past month or so since that box (or late Christmas present as I like to call it) landed in my hands I have been listening to the various discs. Some discs have found their way into my CD player more times than others have with Chozzen Phate being in that list. Before that fateful day when I opened up the mystery box (I knew some of what my friend was sending with others being more of a surprise) Chozzen Phate was not a group I had heard off. So, away I went to the Internet to see what kind of good stuff I could dig up about these guys. This San Antonio, Texas five-piece was one of those bands who managed to crank out a demo or two before disappearing into the night never to be heard from again. Or not until Steel Legacy Records came along releasing this CD/DVD combo in 2009 that is. Formed in 1990 the group released a Rehearsal tape in 1991 (more or less a demo really) followed by a 1995 demo. For whatever reason though the music on this disc (pulled from that 1991 demo) just didn't catch on with the right people and somehow these guys slipped through the cracks. Such was the fate of many power metal bands back in the early nineties. Seeing as the music industry was changing it's focus seemingly overnight these sorts of quality progressive/power metal bands didn't stand a snowballs chance in hell. Now, not that it matters much to these ears but since the source material was from a demo recording the quality is so-so. That said fans of technical and progressive power metal would still do well checking out this re-release. Lead singer Paul Deleon has those siren-like vocals reminding me somewhat of the late-great David Wayne. Speaking of Wayne, musically I can hear a bit of early Metal Church in Chozzen Phate's sound as well as some Hellstar, SA-Sanctuary (where supposedly a member or two of Chozzen Phate spent some time) and fellow Texas act Syrus. Some reports also say that Syrus and Chozzen Phate shared members although I can't confirm that. On the progressive side of things I'd wager to say there is more than enough early Fates Warning and Queensrÿche to go around on these 5 songs as well as a layer of two of Watchtower. So if technical/progressive American style power metal sounds good to you then this should be an essential purchase. The bonus material may also be of some interest to you especially if you miss the old scene. Seeing the band live where they are captured in all of their glory (in other words loud heavy metal) made the disc all the more worthwhile. Good things do come out of surprise packages as this CD/DVD combo proved!

Firebrand Super Rock-Firebrand Super Rock

Rising Records

To steal a line from Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles "...What in the Wide World of Sports is a-going on here?" with that lame as all get out name? Are you serious? Pretentious much or did you purposely go out of your way to come up with the most goofy name you could think of? So many questions here for this hard rock/heavy metal four piece. Formed in Edinburgh in late 2004 this 10 track album is the band's debut. Just for the record the band lists bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica and Black Sabbath as influences and if it wasn't for the fact that I first heard one of the band's better songs on a Metal Hammer sampler disc (the cool "Wheel Of Pain") I'm not sure if I would have taken the chance to bother. It wasn't a perfect track or anything mind you but it did show enough swagger to at least get me interested in hearing the full-length. These Scottish rockers are lead by the very talented Laura Donelly and my first thought upon hearing more from this band was a more Black Sabbath shaped Skew Siskin. Although with the nods towards Black-era Metallica and some chunky (if not very inspired) Motorhead riffs one could argue that Firebrand Super Rock are more metal than Skew Siskin. If anything though the band's approach pulls in AC/DC barroom blues and a shot or two of sludge making the album interesting if not spectacular. For a debut it has a certain charm and I have nothing against bands wanting to play good old fashioned hard rock/heavy metal like this. But, if I was to be a cynic I'd say this doesn't stand out much from a slew of other female-fronted hard and heavy rock acts. That said they get an "A" for effort and with some work I could see these guys (and gal!) do some great things down the line. If I could chat with the band I'd say do your best to loosen up and dirty your sound some. Make it have some sweat and grit and maybe next time around try some more sludge/stoner rock as well. You can here a bit of Down in their music and a shade or two of Soundgarden. That said though it almost seems as if Firebrand Super Rock are afraid to really rock out and honestly they play it far too safe and too close to the chest. The sound tends to come off as almost flat at times even if it is high-end garage rock/metal. By their next album I would love to see the band let their hair down and just jam a little. If and only if the band commits to getting their hands dirty some then I could see a marked improvement with album number two. As the band grows and gets some miles under their wheels I could see good things coming their way. Right now though this is a decent enough album and I won't say do buy it or check it out since believe it or not after all is said and done I really did enjoy the disc and it does rock. But, at the same time I would never say this is a must-own. In the end it is just one of those albums that falls somewhere between decent and good.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Reviews for suckas-Queensryche-Operation Mindcrime 2

Over most of the last twenty years Queensryche have certainly been guilty of numerous musical atrocities, but none quite as bad as Operation Mindcrime 2. I asked Mr. T to share his opinion on this album.


"Those fools from Queensryche were bad enough with their crazy jibba jabba on the first Operation Mindcrime, but then they went and put out another one! I like to give out the pain not receive it! Nothing makes me madder than some idiot trying to get something for nothing and this pathetic albums is pretty close to nothing. Listen to these fool songs. "Murderer?" The only thing they are murdering is my ear drums with this garbage. Then there's "Sign says go", the look on my face says these suckas better go away from me after playing this noise. "Re-arrange you"? I'll re-arrange their faces for trying to pass this pitiful garbage off as music.
As I listened to this album I thought "Fool me once shame on you, try to fool me twice and I'll bust you in the head". Queesryche were trying to fool people into buying this junk. I pity these sad hasbeens and the suckas that bought this album."

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012



For the first time every Germany's AOR masters Tokyo will release "San" on CD. What does this mean for you the reader? Well, for starters it means you'll be able to fully experience this AOR classic in all of it's glory. For those who have never experienced Tokyo some have compared them to Toto while others have mentioned bands like Foreigner, Survivor, Journey and Kansas. Personally I'd say the Toto tag might be the closest fit but even then Tokyo possessed more pure pop and rock than Toto ever did. Also, despite being from Germany and for that matter having the name Tokyo these five guys had a very American sound to them. Traces of acts like Foreigner were present as was groups like Chicago. Very well you say but that isn't exactly rock bands your talking about. I hear what your saying. True enough Tokyo might be more pop than rock in their approach and nobody ever will confuse these guys with say even REO Speedwagon. But pop/AOR like this is classy and frankly timeless. Tokyo had the guitar hooks, flashy keyboards and thanks to having three vocalists they had the smooth vocals down flat. And even though album number three might not be as good as their other two releases it still sounds amazingly fresh and tight. With the bonus tracks "Diana", "You’re A Liar", "See You Again", "Ocean Of Love" and "Too High" added on this new re-issue is a real gem. With the exception of "Too High" (which is a newly recorded version of the original song) all of the bonus cuts were recorded during the eighties. Originally archived as demos they are previously unreleased and make this new version of "San" a real treasure for Tokyo and AOR fans alike. With a solid and upfront new sound (thanks to the excellent remaster job) "San" is a great option for those looking for new AOR acts to check out. In between songs I really got a good feel for what made these five guys tick and really while "San" might not be perfect AOR it is a great album with a classic rock vibe and feel.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Forgotten Gems-Inzest-Another religion.....another violence


Topping my "you probably have not heard this, but you sure need to list" is this album. This four song seven inch flexi disc was self-produced by Japan's Inzest back in 1987 . This is total noise (for the time) with some shades crossover mixed in, but mostly just noice. Although unlike more well known noise of the time like Cryptic Slaughter, these guys actually had some direction and knew how put their energy into it instead of just blasting around without a purpose. Every track is under two minutes in length so before you know it the whole thing is over. They look like little kids with nothing to do on the cover. Yet they knew how to put pure rage into their brief bone busting songs. The lyrics are rather barely audible rants about war, money, religion and other rather typical topics of the time. Yet where this band really excel is in how they mix power and speed into raging attacks. I so wish these guys had gotten to record a full length efofrt. Plus I definitely feel that any grindcore, hardcore or thrash band of today could certainly learn a thing or two by listening to this blistering little album.

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Earth-Angels of darkness, Demons of Light 2

Southern Lord

This is the second part to Angels of darkness, Demons of light from Earth. The first part was released early last year and was one of my favorite albums of 2011. Since this band is an instrumental drone band it's not easy to figure what the second part was going to be like. The length of the songs are similar to the first album and there are five on each album. Other than the two albums are rather different. This second part isn't nearly as dark and music is a bit less focused. However those are not complaints. On the contrary Earth use this album to be it's own entity and it certainly achieves that goal. Since there are five tracks it's perhaps easiest if I cover each one individually. "Sigil of brass" opens up the albums. It's rather short at under three and a half minutes long. It's an extremely slow effort that focuses on singular notes and getting the most out of those as well as the echoes they create. It's different for an opener, but in a way sets the mood by letting you know these songs are not going to be spoon fed to you. Instead you have to be a careful listener. "His teeth did brightly shine" comes on next with riffs that somehow have a tone surprisingly like AC/DC with some twang only the pace is of course much more stretched out. This track makes me think of someone going on a long journey. It's not a terribly adventurous song, but the bent notes keep it marching forward. "Waltz (A multiplicity of doors" certainly darkens the mood of the album for the first time. We get seriously deep and laboring tones with rich drum beats slowly thudding along as well. "The Corascene Dog" dog follows and despite numerous plays this was the one song on the album that didn't do much for me. Repetition and drone are a matter of course for Earth. This track had me for about the first two minutes, but then it never really opens or proceeds onto anything that different. For the first time on the album I felt my attention drifting away. They almost get back on track towards then, but this song falls short of the standard set by the first three tracks. "The Rakehell" is a twelve minute closer and again expects some patience from the listener. This one surprised with the mood rather neutral as I was expecting the final track to be either a dark, brooding type track or an upbeat winding song. Instead it just kind meanders around for over ten minutes. The tones are interesting, but the mood is rather one dimensional by comparison to the first three songs. Oddly the last 15 or so seconds of this one have more energy than the rest of the song combined. This album isn't the masterpiece the first part was. It's far more hit than miss, but given the talent of this band it should have been a much better album overall.

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Dark Empire-From Refuge to Ruin

Nightmare Records

With vocalist Jens Carlsson being replaced by Brian Larkinand this latest release from New Jersey's Dark Empire (album number three) finds the band in familiar territory only with a new and improved map to guild them. For those who might be concerned though by Carlsson's departure rest assured that this New Jersey band continues to churn out music that will appeal to older fans as well as those of you into the likes of Symphony X, Nevermore and Opeth. Lead by the skills of guitarist/backing vocalist Matt Moliti (who is the main songwriter in addition to being the death vocal counterpoint to Larkin’s more traditional sound) Dark Empire started off as more of a power metal outfit before morphing into a progressive/thrash/death tinged band. More than anything though the band is metal at it's core. Melodic and technical in nature the new album also features the talents of bassist Randy Knecht and the drumming of session player Matt Graff. Mixing in with the melodic and technical power metal/thrash and modern progressive metal is more vintage progressive influences from the likes of Genesis and King Crimson. Dark Empire works vintage Mellotron and Hammond Organ samples into the mix as well as 12-string acoustic interludes creating quite the counterpoint to their often commanding take on epic and dark riff-filled thrash. The work of lead guitarist Matt Moliti is nothing short of superb whether you are talking about the beautiful touch of class given to the title track or the classic doom of 13+ minute album closer “The Cleansing Fires” and new lead singer Brian Larkin gives a superb performance throughout. He steps right in replacing Jens Carlsson and offers more of the same in regards to commanding lead vocals. His voice helps make album number three a sort of walkway connecting the band's early work with the new stuff. It helps that he is more than capable holding his own and breath's life into the songs. Musically these new influences end up giving you an album full of various styles, textures and emotions making "From Refuge to Ruin" an album worth searching out. Throughout the album I found traces of prog, traditional metal, thrash, death, doom and epic metal making "From Refuge to Ruin" a enjoyable listen to say the least. I'll be listening to this one more down the road mark my words.


AFM/13th Planet Records

What happened to Al putting Ministry to rest once and for all? It sure does not seem like that lasted very long did it? Anyway, for the record this is Ministry's first studio album featuring new and original material since 2007's "The Last Sucker". Thankfully Al has moved past his George Bush is the devil nonsense and tackles new subjects on "Relapse". Thank God for that because personally I can only take so much political crap out of Al and company. Although, with the country in the state it is these days it does make me wonder why Mr. Jourgensen doesn't take pen to paper and write up some witty material about Obama? There is more than enough out there to fill up several albums. I'm getting off point though so here we find ourselves with another Ministry album to work out some pent-up rage to. And so with this new album Al joins up with pals Al Mike Scaccia (Rigor Mortis), Tony Campos (Static X), Tommy Victor (Prong) and Casey Orr (Rigor Mortis/Gwar) to craft more industrial metal insanity. With opener "Ghouldiggers" Al climbs his soapbox to name check dead musicians in an attempt to show the evils of the industry. It's fairly typical thrash/industrial mayhem and fans of Ministry's last few albums will eat it up. Same goes for "Double Tap" which offers blitzkrieg metal sown together with industry beats and a back edge that could cut through raw steel. On "Freefall" the Ministry gang weave various samples with bloody thrash to leave you feeling a little breathless. I'll give Al is due and say as usual this is pretty intense stuff and he never let's up throughout the album. "Kleptocracy" traces Al's roots back to hardcore bands like C.O.C. and S.O.D. And speaking of S.O.D. the band takes on the classic "United Forces" with pretty good results. "99%" was the first single to be released from the album and I'll let you figure that one out on your own. The title track is more wicked thrash from Al and reminded me of why I was first drawn to the band back in high school. "The Land of Rape and Honey" was my first introduction to Ministry and things have only picked up steam from there as far as Al's rage goes. While he has obviously moved more into thrash metal with each release (check out the sweet mid-song solo on "Relapse" for proof) he does still swim around in his underground industrial beginnings. Now, if there is one drawback to this album it is the same thing that has bothered me about most Ministry album's and that is the same-same quality of some of the songs. Granted industrial metal is like that to me and as much as I like Ministry (their older stuff admittedly) some songs do sound an awful lot alike. Thankfully the extra emphasis on metal riff age helps out. "Weekend Warrior" for example actually slam dances around in traditional heavy metal guitar riffs. Just so Al doesn't get accused of abandoning politics all together he gives us "Git Up Get Out 'n Vote". I couldn't agree more about getting out and voting although it would be nice if we didn't have to count your long-dead relatives vote in the next election. I'm just saying is it that hard to show some form of ID when we vote? Really? Moving on and "Bloodlust" and "Relapse Defibrillator Mix (Special Limited Edition)" wrap up this latest party in nice fashion. With it's mixture of industrial metal and primitive Bay Area thrash Al has delivered yet again an album that Ministry fans will lap up. Is it his strongest work yet like the promo proclaims? Maybe or maybe not depending on your view point. For me it is a solid release with some killer tracks and some I could do without. Then again most Ministry albums are like that for me at least so maybe I'm not the best judge of things. I'm certain of one thing though and that is that this album will sell like crazy especially with all the sense of frustration and loss out there these days. Al knows how to draw people in with his sense of anger and intensity and in a world living in chaos kids will listen to what he is preaching.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Van Halen-A different kind of truth




So one of the most anticipated and most hyped hard rock albums in some time is finally released. I loved the Roth-era of Van Halen and still do because I listen to those first six albums regularly. The Hagar-era never impressed me and that was more because of the writing than just because of Hagar's voice or the fact that he wasn't Diamond Dave. So a few years ago the band reforms with Eddie's kid in for Michael Anthony and Dave comes back in the fold. They tour and talk about a new album coming and we wait a couple of years and finally here it is. About a year ago I was listening to Van Halen's 1976 demo (AKA the Gene Simmons demo). Some tracks on it like "Runnin' with devil" would soon be on an album and others like "House of pain" would take years before being on an album. I wondered why tracks on that demo like "Big Trouble" and "Let's get rockin" never got put onto vinyl because they were certainly good enough. Well now over 35 years later these songs and several others from this demo get the re-worked treatment. "She's the woman" is the only track from this demo where they kept the original title for the new album although "Bullethead" appeared under the same name on another early Van Halen recording as well. So almost of this album is reworked material. Okay, that means it's not totally original, but it does help towards it having that classic Van Halen sound. So let's break it down and see what we have. We all heard "Tattoo" before this album hit the shelves and the reactions were mixed which is understandable. It's alright song, but rather repetitive. Next up is "She's the woman" which captures the early vibe of this band pretty well. "You and your blues" is a steady track with a strong opening and a very tight pace. "China Town" opens with Eddie noodling around and then lets loose into the kind of speed this band hasn't touched on decades and Dave keeps up well enough. "Blood and fire" definitely reaches back to the early 80's Van Halen sound. It's nothing new but maintains a nice flow and has a fun vibe too. "Bullethead" is a rather primitive song that plunges ahead pretty well, but it has some clunky moments. "As is" opens up the with an offbeat thudding sound before making way for a powerful attackthat may have been at home on "Women and children first" or "Fair warning". "Honey babiesweetiedoll" goes from static and noise to an odd pace and Dave talking a bunch of nonsense in a deeper than usual tone. Despite a longer than normal solo from Eddie this track still comes through as filler. "The trouble with never" comes on with some swirling guitar work from Eddie and Dave does more talking than singing, but the backing vocals and the totally tight pace keeps this one going. "Outta space" flat out rocks even though it's one of the borrowed tracks I mentioned earlier. However the lyrics and theme are changed around and this is one of the most impresive songs on the album. "Stay frosty" is vein much in the style of "Ice Cream Man" from the debut. Nothing special or surprising but above average. "Big River" revolves around another familiar riff and this song was"Big Trouble" on the band's 1976 demo. This track really works because it's so smooth and unlike a lot of other songs on this album Dave sounds very comfortable and they really take their time with this one. "Beats workin" is a simple song that drags in place. Not bad at all, but I may have liked it a little better if this song had been second to last and "Big River" was the closer. So overall this is a good album with enough high points to make it worthwhile. Is it perfect or one of their best? No, but no one should have expected that. There are not many new ideas on this one and Dave's voice isn't what it used to be. However it's a good effort and they manage to capture a fair amount of the spirit that this line-up once had.

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Liberty n Justice-Stretch Armstrong Single

Roxx Records

"Stretch Armstrong" is the new single by Liberty n Justice from "Hell is Coming to Breakfast" and in typical Liberty n Justice fashion we know two things: The first thing is that it is going to feature some top-notch guest stars. In this case the new single features the talents of Louis St August of Mass and Keri Kelli of Alice Cooper. The second thing you should know is that it is going to be solid hard rock. Sure enough this new single hits both marks and makes you hunger for "Hell is Coming to Breakfast" even more. The track is crunchy and offers great hard rock hooks. With just enough punch to make it light metal "Stretch Armstrong" is a real charmer and a sign of good things to come from Liberty's camp.

Current playlist

What we are currently listening to...

1) Fifth Angel-S/T
2)Exodus-Bonded By Blood
3)Ramones Mania
4)Geddes Axe-Escape From New York 1980-83
5)Anti-Nowhere League-The Punk Rock Anthology
6)Cold Steel-Freakboy
7)Pandemonium-The Kill
9)Cobra-Lethal Strike
10)Rapid Tears-Honestly/Cry For Mercy

Metal Mark-
Ted Nugent-Full bluntal Nugety
Sacred Few-Beyond the iron walls
Black Breath-Sentenced to life
Wo Fat-Psychodelanaut
Van Halen-A different kind of truth
Sigh-In somniphobia
Mystic Force-The eternal quest
Genocide-Submit to Genocide
Salem's Wych-Betrayer of kings
Zebulon Pike-Space is the corpse of time

***What are you listening to?


Forgotten Gem: Forever's Edge-Chaotic Silence

Nightmare Records

This particular piece of musical bliss was sent to me by my friends at Team All About The Music. In the past this group has sent me great promos from the likes of A Band Of Orcs, Above This, Krampus and Truth Corroded (among others). This latest one, "Chaotic Silence" continues in that tradition which means this is one fine release and that Team All About The Music really knows their stuff and doesn't get behind a band unless there is real talent. Now, since this release is obviously a few years old I have decided that the best way to present this album would be as a Forgotten Gem. With that I'm throwing this solid release out there to you the masses as a present. Those of you who love progressive power metal especially should perk up as "Chaotic Silence" was the debut album from New Jersey's own progressive minded power metal outfit Forever's Edge and ladies and gentlemen this one is easy on the ears and good for your soul. This is a release sure to appeal not only to Suspyre fan's (since it does feature Suspyre members Clay Barton on vocals, Andrew Distabile on bass, and Gregg Rossetti on saxophone) but also progressive power metal lovers and melodic power metal fans alike. The three Suspyre members are joined by guitarist Salvatore Pisano (Into the Dementia), drummer Sam "Samus" Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Eliminator, Reign of Vengeance, Abigail Williams, Abysmal Gates as well as many others!) and keyboardist Stephen Kain. Now, let me just start off by saying that even though "Chaotic Silence" does feature three members of the band before you go off thinking that all this is just some sort of Suspyre side-project that isn't always the case. From the word go all of this is the result of guitarist Salvatore Pisano ambitions and drive and despite the obvious connections to the Jersey's Suspyre this does have the ability to stand firmly on it's own feet. However much you might want to paint this as Suspyre part 2 the band started out as a vision of Salvatore Pisano and as such it has a somewhat different flow to it from it's symphonic introduction to album closer, "Closed Eyes" . "Everlost" and "In The Dark" are both great power metal numbers as is the solid “Damnation – We Rise". While these tracks might appease traditional power metal fans I much preferred the mellow number “Divide In I”. The number features guest vocals by Sharon MacPherson and her voice is nothing short of memorizing. The song features plenty of splashy keyboard touches but it is the duet between MacPherson and Clay Barton that really makes it special. This number spoke to me on a personal level and I just loved the softer approach it offered. I also really like "Demon Creation" which presented itself with more of a progressive metal edge. The contrast between these various songs made the album an interesting listen and one suspects that with time any flaws this debut shows (such as the lack of distinction between certain power metal numbers) will be corrected as the band grows and moves forward. For a debut album this is a great starting point and I can see great things from this band as they improve upon their humble beginnings. As they go forward I can see Forever's Edge gaining greater skill as a power metal outfit and hopefully a band that shakes things up thanks to other influences and genre samplings. Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect out of "Chaotic Silence" and as the album's ten tracks wrapped up with the excellent "Closed Eyes" I couldn't have been happier. This is certainly not an album that will appeal to each and every metal fan out there but for those who love the experience of emotionally driven music this is one release worth checking out!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Midnight Blue-Take the Money And Run 2012 Re-Release


For those of you not familiar with British melodic rock band Midnight Blue they are perhaps best known for having featured the one and only Doogie White. While he currently might be fronting British metal band Tank the fact is White has been at the game for a long time now starting off with La Paz back in 1984. Around the time of Midnight Blue's formation in 1988 White had been in Rainbow after having auditioned for and losing out to both Iron Maiden and Pink Cream 69. With Midnight Blue here was a chance for White to front a band and have quite the bit of input instead of simply just playing the hired gun role. Joining him for this lone 1994 release would be Heavy Pettin'/Gun/Bruce Dickinson guitarist Alex Dickson, Tobruk/FM/UFO keyboard player Jem Davis, ex-Blackwych bass player Niall Canning and ex-Tobruk drummer Eddie Fincher. Based in London at the time "Take the Money And Run" saw a Japanese release in 1994 on Zero Records. Despite a sound rich in style and substance and an eye toward the melodic rock of groups like FM, Heartland, Praying Mantis and Tobruk the band were never able to get that one big deal that would have put them over. Now, here it is 2012 and thanks to Yesterrock this top notch melodic rock masterpiece gets a second chance to shine bright and lest I mince words this is a stellar release folks. "Take the Money And Run" is melodic rock at it's best full of great guitar hooks, flashy keyboard driven numbers and wonderful sing-a-long chorus moments that will leave you grinning from ear to ear. Doogie White may still sound great to these ears now in 2012 but with Midnight Blue he was at the top of his game. He offers a commanding presence on numbers like the rocking opener "I Surrender" and the excellent "Till The Morning". The backing band gels together so well through cuts like "Call Me" "Little Heartbreak" and "Hands Of A Lover". Even the ballads "Remember" and "One Way To Heaven" sound great and offer moments of melodic rock bliss. While the original 13 track album was great with the re-release Yesterrock has tacked on two unreleased bonus tracks called "Hurts When We Do It" and "Only Girl'. Both tracks are easy on the ears making this re-release a must-own for melodic rock fans. With it's new cover artwork and improved sound (whoever had a hand in the remastered process really made this gem shine!) Yesterrock has put out one over the top release. Simply put this is the sound of melodic rock done right. "Take the Money And Run" is available for purchase at

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Top Of The Heap: Alice Cooper

Andy Says-

Of all the albums I could choose by dear Alice I come walking away with "Trash" you say to yourself? Especially with obvious choices like "Welcome To My Nightmare" out there? I'm not saying for one minute that Alice Cooper isn't a legend based solely on his work in the 70s. The hits are all there and then some. I could spend this whole bit just naming them all off and trust me when I say I love them all. So, what's the story then? Well, back in the day when glam and hard rock were busy tap dancing with pop metal the world needed someone to show them how to do it right. In 1989 I was feed up with sleaze and all the hairspray that went with it. Like many I felt as if the scene had imploded. Also, like many I had put our dear friend Alice out of my mind. Sure I heard the hits on FM radio and sang along. But for me Alice was old and tired. His day had past. "Trash" though proved if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. Alice took hard rock/glam/pop metal and gave it the boost it needed. He kicked it in it's sorry teeth and said "hey kiddos this is how you do it!". From the time I heard "Poison" onward I knew this was the comeback album Alice needed. With Desmond Child producing and writing alongside Alice the end result was an album that people either love or hate. Not everyone gets into this album and I honestly get that. Whatever it is that pulls me toward it remains a mystery as at it's heart this is pretty much just Alice Cooper fronting some random Hollywood glitter band. It is unashamedly pop metal and even if I do loathe that term/genre I just love this album. Muscle bound guitarist Kane Roberts (who played on Alice Cooper's two album's "Constrictor" and "Raise Your Fist and Yell") may have only received credit for his solo on "Bed Of Nails" but let's face it he co-wrote the album's music if only for the fact that he brought his love of heavy metal along to share with Alice. His touch is all over this album since he did play in Alice Cooper's band up until 1988. Between Robert's bare bone affection for heavy metal and Desmond Child's magical touch this album was gold from the get-go. With guests like Jon Bon Jovi, the late great Stiv Bators, Steven Tyler, Guy Mann-Dude, Joe Perry, Richie Sambora, Tom Hamilton, Hugh McDonald, Michael Anthony and Joey Kramer on board "Trash" proves to be a hard rock album full of great tunes. Besides the hit "Poison" you have great cuts like "Bed of Nails", "House of Fire", "Only My Heart Talkin'", "I'm Your Gun" and "Hell Is Living Without You". Since Alice teamed up with Desmond Child as well as songwriters like Joan Jett, Diane Warren, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora you get an album that while technically pop metal is quite varied. The outside contributions were what made this album for me and frankly (as odd as this might sound) it made me fall in love with Cooper's music all over again. It also made me realize that you can't count Alice out ever.

love it to death
Metal Mark says-

The first Alice Cooper I ever heard was either his Greatest Hits or 1986's Constrictor. I don't remember which it was, but I know I heard both around the same time in 1986. Anyways I took to early 70's Alice Cooper right away. I listened to his 80's and beyond material as they came out, but those albums never touched upon the outrageous style that he and his original band perfected. The first two albums were okay, but I think they really hit their stride between 1971 and 1974 and any of those albums from that period could be Alice's top work, but for me I'll always go with Love it to death. To me this album is the ultimate combination of the strangeness, dark humor and odd pacing that defined this period of Alice's career. "Caught in a dream" starts the album off with a slight upbeat swing, but it's never normal and it is a storng opener. Then we get radio staple "I'm eighteen" which is a timeless track that anyone of any age. The bouncing chrage of "Long way to go" quickly comes on and rips the listener along for a wild ride. "Black juju" is a dark, odd track that will have your attention the whol way through. "Is it my body" is a punchy track that is surprisingly catchy. "Hallowed by my name" is another very off beat song that the band really excels at. "Second Coming" keeps the strangeness as it leads on the classic "Ballad of Dwight Frye" which is one of my favorite Alice songs of all time. The album ends as it began with a slightly upbeat number in the form "Sun arise". The results are that this a true classic and not just my favorite Alice Cooper album, but one of my favorite albums of all time.

***What is your favorite Alice Cooper album?

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Forgotten Gems-Ogre-Dawn of the proto-man


One of the best stoner rock bands ever was Maine's Ogre. I say was because unfortunately they broke up a few years ago. In the ten years they were around they knocked out three full length albums, a demo and were on a split album. This their debut remains my favorite. It's not as polished as the other two perhaps, but that's part of the charm. This trio obviously grew up on early and mid-70's heavy rock including Sabbath, Pentagram, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Blue Cheer, Uriah Heep, Budgie and others. The approach is blues based heavy rock with constantly moving grooves and plenty thick sludge covered riffs. More than any of that is that these guys flay out rocked. Whether it was on the slow-winding "Colossus", the thick, hard driving "Skeletonized" or the twisted grooves of "Suicide Ride". No matter what they kept moving shattering your ear drums the whole way. They were not just a mere retro/copy/imitation band either. They had their influences, but they put their spin on it and that's what made them special. The album isn't even ten years old and I still consider it a classic of it's time and I think I'll feel the same way 10-15 years from now as well. Even if you missed them you should still go back and check out the mighty Ogre.

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Black Breath-Sentenced to life

Southern Lord

I remember the first time I heard this band a few years ago on their Razor to Oblivion EP. I was intrigued by their cross of old thrash, death metal and hardcore. Now a few years later the production values on their music have improved, but the band still has their raw musical foundation intact. If anything they have become even more savage. Think about the sounds of Celtic Frost, Venom, Slayer, Discharge and Broken Bones all being tossed into blender. Then set it on high pour it out, up the tempo and make it even nastier. That's a start for describing where Black Breath are at now, but that doesn't quite do them justice. The influences are there and always have been for this band, but with "Sentenced to life" I hear a band really coming into their own. They have been a vicious band since they first emerged, but now I hear them defining themselves and really going with this sound. You call their music death/crossover/crust or whatever you want, but whatever it is they are owning it and really taking controlling. The ten tracks here total around just 35 minutes, but during that time they spun my head around numerous times. One of the most brutal albums of the year so far and I firmly expect to feel that way at the end of this year as well. Definitely worth checking out.

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Witch-The Hex Is On...And Then Some

FNA Records

Just where does FNA Records unearth this stuff? If there is any band out there that deserves to have a nice re-package job on them then it is Witch. Now, Metal Mark has already done an excellent job already (back in April of 2011 with Forgotten Gems) of covering Witch's lone EP of superb hard rock/sleaze "The Hex Is On" ( Honestly that review alone gives you a great insight into this underground cult 80's band. Now while the "Damnation" version of this album was good in it's own right in that it featured a lot of non-EP tracks and lots of live material the fact is this new version is a real treat. This collection really allows the listener a golden opportunity to hear this raw heavy metal act (think Motley Crue, WASP, Twisted Sister and Lizzy Borden mixed together) in a new way. What FNA Records has done is somehow improve on that original EP by tacking on tracks with an impressive list of guest stars like Slash (on "Playing In The Rain"), Steve Stevens (on the killer cut “Black Magic"), Rowan Robertson ("Mad for Life" and "Games that People Play" among others) and Chris Holmes (of W.A.S.P.) on the cut "Crazy". Having all of these superstar guest lead guitar players is simply amazing making this collection stand out on top of the various other previous releases. While the bonus material is rough in some parts (since it was most likely transferred from tape sources) just the fact alone that you have all of these great musicians playing alongside this cult 80's act is unreal. I mean Slash alone of GNR fame should be a selling point for many! So, if your a fan of eighties metal like I am then you own it to yourself to pick up a copy of the "The Hex Is On...And Then Some" from FNA. Find out more below.

Hard Riot-Living on a Fast Lane

Pitch Black Records

I'll give you three guesses what Hard Riot sound like and the first two don't count. If you guessed Motorhead & AC/DC inspired biker rock then you my friend can take the rest of the day off with pay. Officially the promo lists AC/DC along with Metallica and the Scorpions but let's be honest for once and say these four young Germans pretty much just stick to the classics of heavy metal and rarely deviate. Is it bad? Well, two ways to look at this one folks. First off this young band who were formed in 2006 in the city of Heilbronn, Germany do loving embrace the timeless sound of hard rock/heavy metal and as such they do a fine job of paying tribute to the classics. Bands like Accept, Black Label Society and Skid Row find their way into Hard Riot's sound and said sound they do quite well. That said the other side of the coin is the fact that none of this is new. It sounds like a billion other similar hard and heavy rock bands and frankly many of these previous acts have done it much better. So it all depends on how you choose to look at this one. Is Hard Riot's debut a sign that hard rock/heavy metal is alive and well in 2012 and there are plenty of young bands embracing this style with love and skill to spare? Or, is the fact that the genre is alive and well again mean that yet again just like with glam before we get stuck with thousands of bands like Hard Riot? I am honestly on the fence with this one. Technically the band sounds tight and play through this record with love to spare. Problem is one song blends into another and the whole album ends up being kind of a blur. Guess when it comes down to it I wanted to love this album for the skill these four guys showed and the love they have for classic bands like AC/DC but in the end I walked away going "been there done that" and feeling nothing.

Landmine Marathon-Gallows

Prosthetic Records

Landmine Marathon's base of operations is Phoenix, Arizona and with three albums under their belt already it looks as if just maybe "Gallows" might be the one to finally break them to the masses. Fronted by the full-time political activist/part-time librarian and all around intense vocalist Grace Perry (who MTV called a "dynamic she-beast"!) this death-grind band have laid down a thunderous assault on the senses. When your raised on punk and hardcore like Perry was then fronting a blistering grind band like Landmine Marathon is going to have some seriously wicked end results. Looking to bridge the sonic gap between Bolt Thrower and Entombed and bring back the noise of crusty death means you have to lay down a fair amount of your own blood in the process and this five-piece band does that in bucket loads. This is one serious blow against the empire and even if album number four tones down the political banter in favor of more fantasy elements it never detracts from just have much of a budgeting affair this is. Intense doesn't even begin to describe "Gallows"....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Exciter-Death Machine



Exciter were one the first bands to really get the thrash scene rolling and one of the first thrash bands I got into. This album was originally released in 2010. It's the most recent effort from Exciter now it gets a North American release. This is the second release with this band line-up. They reach back to the formula that dominated most of their classic releases of the 1980's. They throw out a bunch straight froward thrashers like "Dungeon Descendants", "Razor in your back" and "Hellfire" that will remind you some extent of the kind of songs that they did so well years ago. However they are not totally limited to one speed as "Power and domination" and "Demented Prisoner" show what they can do with a slower pace. With all the young bands trying to recreate old thrash it's refreshing to see a veteran act (although with just one member from the classic line-up) do the style right. The good news is they old nothing back because most of it just raw thrash complete with rough production values that actually work very well with the music. Most of this album sounds it could have been in the mid to late 1980's. The down side is you have heard this style before and while good it doesn't do a whole lot new and it's probably not an album you will be reaching for every day. Still it has enough explosive songs to keep the interest of an old school thrash band. Obviously this line-up can still crank it out and hopefully they unleash another album at some point in the near future.

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Buck Dharma-Flat Out 2011 Re-Issue

Rock Candy Records

Blue Öyster Cult are a band that needs no introduction. When your talking about the cream of the crop of American rock these guys are it. Whether you choose to call their sound rock, hard rock or even heavy metal these guys created some of the greatest music of all time. "Godzilla", "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and "Burnin' for You" are all classics and their influence can be traced to everyone from Metallica to The Minutemen. One of the main driving forces behind the band (and the man who penned those three classics) has been vocalist and guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser. "Flat Out" was first issued back in 1982. Taking a break from his main responsibilities with BÖC allowed "Buck" the opportunity to work on this cult solo-release. Interesting enough "Burnin' for You" was originally supposed to be on this album before Buck's BÖC band mates heard it. After begging him to use it with BÖC the end result proved to be a commercial smash. "Flat Out" though has proven to be a strong release even without the hit song and this 2011 re-issue does a great job of making this cult album sound better than ever! For "Flat Out" Donald enlisted members of not only BÖC but Foghat and Alice Cooper's original band to create a thoroughly enjoyable rock platter. "Born To Rock" is the album opener and was co-written by Neal Smith (the drummer for Alice Cooper's band at the time). I love the track as it is a smooth rock number. "That Summer Night" has a very BÖC vibe to it as does the dark-themed "Cold Wind"."Your Loving Heart" was released as a single (as was "Born To Rock") and even if it did fail to chart it could be argued that it is a semi-classic in it's own right. Along with the moving instrumental number "Anwar's Theme" and "Born To Rock" it is my favorite album cut. The re-issue of this album really packs a punch with it's nice booklet and improved sound. Really, other than the (at least in my mind) weak cover of the Fleetwood's tune "Come Softly to Me" there isn't any tracks that fail to move a part of me. As a solo release "Flat Out" works that fine line between the eerie charm and vibe of classic BÖC and early eighties FM rock. Sadly it received little notice upon it's initial release so hopefully this re-issue will open people up to the wonder of Buck Dharma.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pilgrim-Misery Wizard

Metal Blade
This is the debut from this Rhode Island based trio. As you have probably already guessed from the cover and album title this is doom metal. The riffs come slowly on winding their way along. The influences are obvious as they include such legends of the field as Candlemass, Reverand Bizarre and Saint Vitus. So with influences like that then this must be good, right? Well, not exactly. The ideas are in the right place, but as I have witnessed before there is more to being good at playing doom then just being slow. That can be a promising start, but if you don't have a strong dierection to head in then solid doom can become boring. Unfortunately that's where this band lost me on several songs and that's where they differ from the masters of this style. They began their songs with promise, but but two minutes turned into three and then four or more with not much variation. While their riffs were decent they were not the kind of twisting, sick variety that could keep my attention under this kind of steady repitition. I went into this album hoping to like it even wanting to like it. They have some potential, but lack the ideas to really fill out their songs. Hopefully they keep the feeling of what they have, but push ahead a lot more for the next album.

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Help For Japan Charity-Help!

Avenue Of Allies

As someone who is 2+ years removed from a kidney transplant and has had to depend on not only the charity of friends and family but more importantly charitable organizations to survive I find myself all the more aware and sympathetic to the many needs this world faces daily. More than ever we are becoming one world brought together by love and the desire to help out our fellow man. As such these sort of benefit recordings are becoming more and more the norm as musicians realize the impact that can be made when they use their God granted talent for good. With that by means of an introduction we find ourselves presented with "Help!". This 4-track EP was made possible thanks to the dedication of Soul Doctor/Fair Warning vocalist Tommy Heart. With the first anniversary of the earthquake in Japan coming up (March 11th, 2012 to be exact for that devastating and destructive event) Tommy Heart put together a group of European musicians to benefit those affected. As we now know this disastrous earthquake had long lasting affects. Not only did the people of Japan suffer the lose of loved ones but many people lost their homes and were displaced as well. As a result of the earthquake these people found themselves dependant on the kindness of others. As I said before I have been there before in need and having to depend on others is not something that the people of Japan take for granted. They are still grateful for any and all help. Tommy Heart knew that and put together this EP as an act of kindness. Enlisted are some of Europe’s top rock musicians including Don Airey (Keyboard & Piano, Deep Purple), Leo Leoni (Guitars, Gotthard), Neil Murray (Bass, ex Whitesnake) and Hena Habegger (Drums, Gotthard). The singers are nothing short of amazing as you have Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia), Bob Catley (Magnum), Andi Deris (Helloween), Torstein Flakne (Stage Dolls), Marc Storace (Krokus), David Readman (Pink Cream 69), Claus Lessmann (Bonfire), Oliver Hartmann (Hartmann), Bernhard Weiss (Axxis), Michael Kiske (Unisonic), Tony Mills (TNT), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) and Carsten Lizard Schulz (Evidence One) joing Tommy Heart. Add to that guitar players like Cede Dupont (Downspirit), Kyoji Yamamoto (BowWow), Helge Engelke (Fair Warning), Roland Grapow (Masterplan), Leo Leoni (Gotthard), Henny Wolter (Nitrogods) and Robert R. Rodrigo (Airless) and you get an EP jam packed with talent! As you may have guessed from the EP's title this group of talented artists joined together to record a killer new version of the classic Beatles song “Help”! While nothing can ever top the original version obviously (since it is the Beatles!) this version is filled with passion. You get a real glimpse into the heart of the matter from Tommy and company as they sing this timeless classic. Along with this new version of the old classic is three other covers of "Help" creating a benefit album that is well conceived and executed. Perfect music for a perfect cause is always something we here at Heavy Metal time Machine can get behind. The EP “Help! For JAPAN” will be released world-wide on the German label Avenue Of Allies on March 9th, 2012 and I encourage all of you to pick up a copy. All income from the sales of this EP will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross and help those who lives were forever changed that fateful day.

Help! online:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Sound Of Thunder-Out of the Darkness

Nightmare Records

A Sound Of Thunder are yet another young band looking to bring back the sorely missed sound and style of classic heavy metal. Formed in 2008 by guitarist Josh Schwartz and drummer Chris Haren the band really found their mark when lead vocalist Nina Osegueda joined the following year. After releasing a self-titled EP in 2009 and supporting the West Memphis Three in 2010 with the charity single, "Justice at Last" the band released their first full length album, "Metal Renaissance" last year. By then they had been joined by bassist Ben Washburn and the release of "Metal Renaissance" drew positive reviews and proved to be just the right boost the band needed. With "Out of the Darkness" due for release in March the positive reviews should come pouring out yet again as the band draws on it's influences to create one killer follow-up. It is always a positive sign for me to see a promo suggest an album for fans of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Dio, Accept, Rainbow, Ozzy, Hammerfall, Primal Fear and Sabaton. Sure, once in awhile you do get PR folks who wouldn't know Accept from Avenged Sevenfold and as such the comparisons are a million miles off. Fear not though as this is no Avenged Sevenfold. Rather what we have the pleasure of hearing here is fantastic female-fronted classic heavy metal born from not only the sound of 80's metal but 70's hard rock/metal. Throw in some progressive touches, classic rock and modern power metal moments and what you end up with is a great LP sure to bring a smile to your face. Personal favorite moments included the killer power metal title track, the raging rock number "Kill That Bitch" and the metal or die feel of "The Nightwitch". Of the ten tracks those caught hold of my ear first and gave it a nice ripping although the whole platter was a feast. If this album is any indication then it looks like 2012 is going to be another year of old fashioned style heavy metal!

Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters-Bikers Welcome Ladies Drink Free

AFM Records

Metal Mark actually sent this promo to me back in January and as usual I dropped the ball on it. I have no real excuse as to why I let this "interesting" release sit for so long so with that let us take a stroll into the mind that is one Mr. Al Jourgensen. Yes, this is another side-project from Ministry's infamous founder/mad man. Rather than industrial metal though this is deep fried cow metal. And as a means of paying homage to his longtime country music hero Buck Owens the Ministry mastermind took the name Buck Satan. Somewhere Owens is smiling no doubt as Al takes country fried rock/metal and gives it the old one-two punch he is so well known for. Among many others Al (or Buck Satan if you will) enlisted Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, Tony Campos of Static-X and Mike Scaccia of Rigor Mortis fame. Alongside the bunch is a variety of guest musicians tackling fiddles, cellos, pedal steel guitars, mandolins and banjos all in an attempt at making this one as cowpunk as possible. The end result is sure to make for some line dancing and stage diving fun!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stone Axe-II : Deluxe Edition

It's only been about two years since this album came out, but as with Stone Axe's debut the people at Ripple music decided to release a Deluxe Edition. The Deluxe Edition contains the Stone Axe II album of the first disc and a second disc of songs released elsewhere over recent years. I'll tackled the first disc to begin with. As I said this originally came out in 2010 and I heard it, loved it and reviewed it in that order. However I honestly had not listened to it probably at eight months. So this Deluxe Edition gave me an excuse to hear the album again. Truthfully I realized that I liked this album even better than I thought. Tony Reed's band don't just copy or relay late 60's-early 70's hard rock/metal. No, they embrace the sound and they manage to embody not just the notes and beats of that style, but rather the soul that was present in the best bands of that time. Not an easy task and many bands today are influenced by acts from that era, but not everyone can really absorb that style and then create their own masterpieces. However Stone Axe certainly can and while their debut was amazing this album was even tighter and a little heavier. The second disc is full of songs that were originally on split albums, compilations and other assorted releases. I have a few of them before, but most were new to my ears so it was almost like getting a whole albums worth of new material from Stone Axe. The quality of the songs on disc two are just as stunning as on their other albums. I never quite know what to expect from Deluxe or special editions of albums, but this album was quite spectacular. Only thing is now my appetite has been wet for more Stone Axe material.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Forgotten Gems:Nightshade-Dead of Night

Music for Nations

Forget grunge for a second and take a moment to ponder just how great the heavy metal scene was in Seattle, Washington back in the day. I'm not saying it isn't still pretty intense. Wikipedia lists recent acts like Blood & Thunder, Sword of Judgement, Midnight Idols, Fallen Angels, Deathbeat, H.M.P, Big Business, Drown Mary, Vigilance, Skelator, Ceremonial Castings, Inquisition, Torture Box, Dead Soul Funeral, Inquinok, Pure Hatred, Riot & Rhythm, Tasty Lixxx, Deathmocracy, Wolves in the Throne Room, Future Disorder and Edge of Oblivion. I've just recently reviewed Skelator so the scene is obviously still striving. But, compared to what came out of Seattle before that list pales in comparison. Not only did you have tier one bands like Metal Church, Queensrÿche, The Accused (more of a crossover band really but still relevant), Forced Entry, Sanctuary/Nevermore, Heir Apparent and Fifth Angel but you also had cult bands like Watchmen, TKO, Q5, Reverend, Serpent's Knight, Taist Of Iron, Bitter End, Terrorist, Byrd, Waxwing, Rottweiller, Mistrust, Faustus, Braindead, Culprit, Coven, Death Squad, Re-Active, Cyperus, N.M.E. and Hammerhead. Heck, even the Christian metal band Bloodgood came out of this rain soaked city. Maybe it is all the rain and the fact that the area is so grey that has caused so many to turn to hard and heavy music as a means of escape. Who knows? Seattle is just one of those gold mine places when it comes to heavy metal. That brings us to Nightshade a band that has ties to several other Seattle metal bands. In fact you could consider Nightshade to be a continuation of Q5. Towards the end of Q5's days vocalist Jonathan Scott K, guitarist Rick Pierce and bassist Evan Sheeley decided it was time for a change. Along with the name change came a change in style as Nightshade is more power metal bordering on thrash. Q5 always played beautiful melody filled heavy metal. Note that Nightshade still has some melody although this is more power metal not unlike a heavier Lizzy Borden. Yes, I frequently dog on Amazon customer reviews so I know this next bit will shock. When I first looked into this band one of the reviewers on Amazon actually gave what would be an almost spot on description of this band when he stated that it was like "Lizzy Borden meets Testament". That really is a close call as Nightshade plays a nice and crunchy version of power metal with just enough of an edge and eye towards garage metal to give it this underground feeling. Sure this album might be fairly typical of 1991 and the American power metal scene in general although I'd wager a buck that Nightshade has more than a little amount of renegade appeal to them. This is certainly one of those albums that power metal fans will love and I can't rave enough about just how "metal" this album sounds.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Forgotten Gems-Entice-s/t


This six song demo was done by Michigan based trio Entice. Some sources say it was 1991 and one source said it was originally done in 1989 so I am not exactly which is correct. Now the band name sounds like a glam band to me while the rough cover made me think of a death metal band. Actually they are neither. They play a tight crunchy style of metal that gets beyond a mid-tempo, but only rarely gets up to the thrash level. The main influences I hear are Metal Church, Vicious Rumors and King Diamond (musically not so much vocally). They have tight fisted riffs and a fair amount of variation in the form of pace changes. The production is slightly fuzzy, but it's still good enough to hear the potential this band had. The guitars were everything they needed to be and the rhythm section was strong. The vocals are limited in range but blend in well enough with the music. Not too much is known about these guys which is a shame because they sure had some real potential. The first five tracks are about topics such as witchcraft and war. The last track "Kill the posers" is a joke song making fun of hair bands of the time. It's kind of dated and silly, but still funny although it doesn't fit real well with the other tracks. The Retrothrash division of Retrospect records re-issued this album a few years ago. I bought it around the time it came out and wasn't hugely impressed for some reason. So I stuck it in with my stacks of discs and this past weekend I was re-arranging some furniture and found this disc in a CD cabinet. After giving it a spin the other day I realized that I had certainly overlooked it because it's much better than I remembered it being.

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Interview with Cynic The Old Man's Jonah Asher Feintuck

Cynic The Old Man is an experimental rock/post hardcore band from Needham, Massachusetts. I recently had the chance to interview their lead vocalist Jonah Asher Feintuck to find out what makes them tick.

Andy-Cynic The Old Man is certainly one interesting band name. How did you come up with that?

Jonah-Well, I was just writing down random names in my journal one day, I had other names like "The Sore Etidorpha", "Jailbait Trigger", "Palindrome Society" and "The Coelacanth Disease". And Cynic The Old Man was one of them, and I asked our-then drummer, Matt Aubry, which one he liked and he liked Cynic The Old Man. That, and there's this band I like called Old Man Gloom and I've somewhat thought of myself as a cynical person sometimes.

Andy-When, where and how was the band formed?

J-We formed in March 2011 at this teen band program called Plugged In, it's in Needham, Massachusetts. Pretty cool place, by the way. hahaha. But the way Plugged In works is that you're put together with a bunch of other musicians based on musical tastes and stuff, and we all got put together as a band, and then we started doing our thing from there. We went through a ton of lineup changes and I'm the only guy left from the original lineup, but we've had our current lineup since November, so I'd say that's an accomplishment and that we're starting to go somewhere now with a solid lineup.

Andy--What sort of bands or artists have helped shaped your sound?

J-Well I know people have compared us to System Of A Down and my friend Matt says that we sound like this post-hardcore/screamo band, La Dispute. But I feel like band's like At The Drive In and Glassjaw have certainly helped shape our sound with their whole experimental post-hardcore flare and stuff. And our stage show is pretty nuts, so you could say that artists like Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan have helped shape us too. We're basically like an eclectic punk rock band.

Andy--Last time we checked in I reviewed lyrics you sent my way. Do you find the words to be just as powerful as the actual music?

J-Sometimes they can. Our lyrics are rather surreal and cathartic, and our music itself is eclectic and at the same time, aggressive, so I feel like the two compliment each other, at least in our case.

Andy-Last great album you heard?

J-Jane Doe by Converge

Andy-Last great book you read?

J-We just finished reading Macbeth in school, but I guess a book that I could say I liked was Blank Confession. I read it over the summer. That and I also like Speak.

Andy-How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard the band?

J-Experimental punk or Experimental hardcore. Or if that's too sophisticated then I guess simply experimental or eclectic rock might do the trick.

Andy-If Cynic The Old Man was a business venture what would your mission statement be?

J-"vos contra me, et ratio" that means, "me and you against the system" in Latin.

Andy-Name that one band or artist that no one knows about and yet they are the greatest thing since the invention of beer.

J-There are many bands like that, but I have to say that Neurosis really got me where I am right now, so yeah, Neurosis are pretty amazing. Though I don't drink beer but still. hahaha.

Andy-What is the most inspiring song you've ever heard?

J-Locust Star by Neurosis, I'm listening to it right now. That song got me where I am today.

Andy-What is one food that you just have to have when on the road?

J- We've never toured before, but if anything I'd probably just eat tons of candy corn. I eat that all year around, I really don't care what people say when they're like, "It's only for Halloween" I'm like, "Nope." hahaha.

Andy-OK, your band has conquered the world with it's music. What next?

J-...can we conquer the world a second time?

Andy-If you could play with any band living or dead who would it be?

J-I'd probably wanna do some kind of show with The Dillinger Escape Plan. My friend Enzo said that our stage presence reminds us of them. And our friend, Madison, said that she wants to see us do some kind of crazy stage show like they do.

Andy-Who should play you in the motion picture?

J-The first person that comes off the top of my head is Leonardo DiCaprio. No idea why. I really have no idea, first person that came to mind. hahaha.

A-Favorite movie of all time?


Andy-Your given the chance to play one video game with any person in history. What game and what person?

J-Pokemon with Jesus. That would be SO sick.

Andy-Famous last words?

J-"They say there's no such place... as Paradise. Even if you search to the ends of the Earth, there's nothing there. No matter how far you walk, it's always the same road. It just goes on and on. But, in spite of that... Why am I so driven to find it? A voice calls to me... It says, "Search for Paradise." - The opening lines of the anime, Wolf's Rain

Lust For Vengeance


Sean Weathers strikes again. In what claims to be the only American Gialli film ever made we have the story of rapist/murderer Michael Richards and his quest to get retribution against the women who he believes have wronged him. Shot in November 2001 (again on what was obviously a shoe-string budget) the movie uses the sequence approach to tell its story. We follow the lives of our five female victims (or leads) as opposed to the traditionally used time-line approach. As the film shifts back and forth from the point of view of each of the women the mystery unfolds and the violence escalates. Now If the story sounds at all familiar to you then give yourself a cookie. It is probably because half of the slasher movies made in the past 30 years or so have a similar plot. I'm not sure why but I kept thinking about the horror film Valentine (also released in 2001) starring Denise Richards and David Boreanaz. The film follows a similar path in that it tells the story of a man who goes out seeking revenge against the women who he believes are responsible for ruining his life. Now, honestly that is the only thing these two films have in common and frankly Valentine was lame so I gave Lust For Vengeance a shot hoping for some kind of sign of life. I will say that the retro feel works well as does the gritty nature of Lust For Vengeance. Certain scenes are shot in such a manor as to give the film an almost hidden camera feel. Sometimes you feel as if your watching this unfold before your eyes and some of the scenes feel quite real. That said the film does start to fizzle out as things unfold. The version I have is the 10th Anniversary Explicit Version which tacks on softcore footage making the movie less about being erotic and more about being sleaze. It does little to the film other than make it feel dirty and dumbed down. I won't divulge much more to you in case your interested in seeking this one out. It had it's moments and I have certainly seen much worse.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Agincourt-Angels Of Mons

Agincourt Music/ High Roller Records

Formed in the Holy land of heavy metal back in 1991 Agincourt looked primed to make some noise thanks to their classic style of British steel. Problem was grunge came into the picture and out goes this incredibly talented NWOBHM influenced act. Fast forward some years and in 2008 the band got back together and ended up releasing what just might be one of the better NWOBHM albums to be released since 1991! Drawing on bands like Saxon, Blitzkrieg, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Thin Lizzy helped shape this band into one powerful unit full of both melody and heavy metal swagger. Initially this one was a self-release until High Roller Records came along and re-released it. One can see what drew the label to these guys as here we have classic metal that recalls everyone from Iron Maiden to Saracen. Bits here and there bring to mind Cloven Hoof, Demon and Satan along with other bands from the movement like Angel Witch and Def Leppard. This is one of those albums that fans of NWOBHM will drool over and man was it ever a trip down memory lane for me helping me to remember why I feel in love with acts like Holocaust and Diamondhead in the first place! Killer album and worth tracking down.