Thursday, May 31, 2012

Current playlist

Here you go....


Listening to:
Attila-Rolling Thunder
Phantom-Dead Or Alive
Vanadium-A Race With the Devil/Metal Rock
Upper Echelon-Surface Tension
Inherent Sin-Children Of the Night
Zadok-The Sign
Rex Begonia-Rex Begonia
Ironhawk-To The Point

Old Dr. Who

Killing Lincoln

Metal Mark-

Iron Maiden-Somewhere in time
Cardinal Sin-Resurrection
The Hangmen-East of western
Hibria-The skull collectors
Juliet's Vice-s/t
The Misfits-Boxed set
New Bomb Turks- Destroy-oh-boy!
Possesser-City built of skulls
Dr. Know-The unknown

Third rock from the sun season three

They never came back

***What are you listening to, watching and/or reading?

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Lita Ford-Living like a runaway



The last time Lita Ford did an album was in 2009 with Wicked Wonderland. That album was a huge departure from anything she had previously done however it was overall a total mess with her sounding completely uncomfortable and totally unconvincing. When I heard another album was coming my thoughts were that she would get back to doing more of a rock album probably similar to her late 80's-early 90's albums. Was I right? Not exactly. To be honest I think the last good thing Lita Ford did was "Dancin' on the edge" in 1984. Even though 1988's "Lita" made her a radio darling and earned her some money, it was still a watered down hard rock album that records that followed were even fluffier. The new album seems to have two types of songs-those that tired, worn out material like the title track and those that sound like half hearted attempts at modern hard rock like the lifeless "Relentless" and the almost promising but eventually tedious "Hate". She sounds better on the slower songs because on the medium tracks her voice begins to sound flat like she is struggling to keep going for the whole duration of the song. I think the best song on this album is "Devil in my head". It's a actually a good combination of a semi-modern sound with a strong riff and decent vocals. It's a shame there wasn't more of that kind connection on this album. It's a better attempt at doing something worthwhile than Wicked Wonderland  was, but the results are only slightly improved.

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Gaskin-Edge Of Madness

High Roller Records

Raise your hands if the first Gaskin number you ever heard was "I'm no Fool". Same here. Raise your hand if you then rushed out to pick up more Gaskin only to be disappointed to discover that the band's other material was not the same. Again, same here. Gaskin was more of a blues-based hard rock outfit then the "I'm no Fool" single let on. While I was at first let down by this notion there music did grow on me over time. That said there has always been this one issue for me when it comes to this N.W.O.B.H.M. band and that is how hot and cold they would run. On 1981's "End of the World" and 1982's "No Way Out" it seemed as if the band would either knock it out of the part or hit foul after foul. While the number "I'm no Fool" (which gave Lars Ulrich a serious....) is the one number the band will most likely allows be remembered for that isn't to say Gaskin does not offer plenty on their older material or for that matter on "Edge Of Madness".
The fact is this is a pretty strong album all in all. Now, it looks as if two tracks were already released on the 2012 EP, "The Contract", those being the title cut, "The Contract", "Bedlam" and "Man's World". It is interesting to note that originally Gaskin recorded 16 tracks in the studio for this album, but due to the time restrictions of vinyl and CD only 10 tracks were chosen for “Edge of Madness”. Knowing that it does seem odd that they choose to included the three cuts from the EP. Especially as the instrumental rocker "For absent Friends" and a "couple of simple head banging tracks" were left off. As Paul Gaskin (vocals, guitars, keyboards) himself says "It’s a shame about the instrumental, as I think it contains my best ever recorded solo. Who knows when they will appear? We could use them on the next album, or maybe release some singles in the future. We really don’t know at this point." Oh well what can be said? Getting back to this release though (the fourth full-length Gaskin album) and after the intro "Just Before Dawn" the track "Damnation" kicks in. According to the promo material this is an older number and, as such, it does have a rather distinct early eighties British metal feel to it and that is frankly cool. As an opener (supposedly it is a set opening to which makes sense) it is works as it sets the album off on the right foot. "Heart like Thunder" is another good hard rock number and as the promo itself mentions to sound's a lot like "early 1980's Rainbow". Now, since Paul Gaskin himself has such a good range the cut "Man's World" works really well. Nik Turner of Hawkwind plays saxophone on the song and before you run off screaming let me just say that, even as a somewhat AOR number, it actually works. "Man's World" does seem like an odd number when stacked next to some of the heavier material like "The Contract". Moving on and, just like on their earlier material, number's like "Wake Up Dead" do leave you wanting a bit more. I understand that Gaskin pulls from so many different influences from British metal like Diamond Head to AOR like Journey, but this song just fizzles. For every good song ("Bedlam") there is one I could take or leave ("Lost & Lonely"). The album does have another intro cut, "Te Amavi", which shows off Paul Gaskin's guitar skills. He is certainly one of the most underrated guitarists of the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement that is for sure. Overall "Edge Of Madness" is a good album and a release I can recommend. Just be forewarned that not every song is an absolute winner. For a band that never got their proper due the first time around this album does present strong material and is a good hard rock/blues rock/British metal affair. I just wish that every cut was as strong as "The Contract" or "Damnation". If that was the case this album would be an absolute stone cold killer.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Forgotten Gems-Cardinal Sin-Resurrection

 cardinal sin

Back in the olden days bands used to record demos on cassettes (little plastic cases with things that looked ribbon). These bands would give out or sell their demos to get attention from labels and fans. Bands still record demos of course, but these days it's quicker and easier to get their music out to people. Anyways bands would frequently send their demo tapes to magazines (yes, print like with pages) in hopes of getting a good review. Well around 1989 or 1990 I read a review in a metal magazine (don't remember which one) and it was a thrash band called Cardinal Sin. The review was positive and I could obtain a copy of their Infanticide demo for three bucks so I sent away to the band to get it. The tape arrived in the mail (depends on a person driving a little vehicle that on occasion puts the right package/letter into your mailbox) and I gave it a listen. This band began in their native Puerto Rico, but had relocated to the Boston area. Yet their sound was pure Bay area thrash along the lines of earlier Testament, Forbidden and others. That was during the peak of thrash so having that sound wasn't unusual, but these guys went beyond the typical plunge ahead style and mixed in some sharp tempo changes while managing to be heavy all the way through. I was hooked on it right away and played it frequently. To me these guys were ahead of the curve and I figured they were sure to get signed even though Boston wasn't the thrash hot spot that some other cities were. A few months later I read in a magazine that indeed they had signed with Maze records. Maze records had also signed another band whose demo I had heard around the same time. The band was Biohazard and their demo stunk, yes I said it. Unfortunately for Cardinal Sin their short lived label Maze records sunk so much money into Biohazard's debut that the label ended up going under. So Cardinal Sin were left without a label. Eventually they got out another demo, it's a bit more basic than the first but still pretty potent. However the window of opportunity had closed for them, the change in musical climates of the early 90's probably had much to do with that and pretty soon the band folded. Fast forward about ten years or so to 2004. I was looking at items for a sale from  an eBay seller and saw an album by Cardinal Sin as I recognized the logo from the demo. How could this be? I thought they didn't get to release their album and they broke up. Well the seller quick answered that question because in the item description it said that this was their two demos plus more. I quickly ordered it. So this album was done by Khaosmaster records. It includes the two demos which both sound very good even now. The bonus tracks begin with Pinnacle of ignorance which is a demo track. It's of similar style and quality to their other material. Unfortunately the other three bonus tracks are live songs, at least that's what is says on the case. They are total noise and it sounds like they were recorded by a microphone that was covered by a blanket and placed outside a closed door of whatever club they were playing it. Oh, well at least the demos were released with one good bonus track. Also the  booklet includes lyrics, a band history and comments on Cardinal Sin from members of others bands. All in all a great package that I am surprised got released, but I'm glad it did.

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Skelator-Agents Of Power

Metal On Metal Records/RAW Metal

Awhile back I covered Skelator's "Death To All Nations" in a Forgotten Gems article (link below) so imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail from Metal On Metal Records toting the band's third full-length album. I quickly sent off a request for promo materials (this and several other albums on the label I hope to review) and let me just say that I was not disappointed. My only minor complaint with this promo is (and I can understand why they do this is a day and age of extreme digital piracy) how often you keep hearing "you are listening to Skelator the king of fear Metal On Metal". That does take away some of the impact of an otherwise enjoyable listening experience. Obviously that is just for press copies so I wouldn't lose sleep yet Skelator fans. Now, the big selling point here is aimed towards Michael Moorcock fans: “Elric: The Dragon Prince”, a 40 minutes epic in 12 parts. My guess is most people will not know who Elric of Melniboné is anyway so what does it matter? If your curious just do a Google search and you'll find out for yourself. It's a concept album and truth be told Skelator are not the first band to tackle the subject matter and they probably won't be the last. What matters most to most people (including me) is the meat of the matter. How is the sound? Is it a step-forward from their last album? Yes, although the two albums are also so very different. This being a concept album there is a certain feel to the album in the way it flows. While the last album just assaulted you with hard-hitting old-school metal this newest one follows it's own game plan and seems a tad more focused on the job at hand. There is still plenty of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio worship going on. Obviously other bands in the same ballpark would be Virgin Steele, Hellstar, Metal Church, Sacred Steel and to a lesser extent Manilla Road. With Skelator though the band doesn't just repeat all the same the same notes, in different order, like far too many newer traditional/U.S. power metal bands. No, these guys seem well-suited at crafting epic metal without any of the added flair that often times drags down modern metal revivalists. More importantly they seem to be making more of a move towards an individual sound with album number three. Slowly the band is carving out their own unique sound and I'd suspect that by album number four the comparisons will be less and less and Skelator will just sound like....well, Skelator.

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Generation Of Vipers-Howl and Filth

Translation Loss Records

Knoxville, TN three-piece Generation Of Vipers is made up of members of U.S. Christmas and A Storm of Light. According to their Myspace bio the band was formed in April of 2004 and solidified a permanent line-up in September of 2004. They hit the scene (playing out live that is)in the early months of 2005 and issued their self-released album "Grace" the same year. In 2007 the band released "Dead Circle" and now we have their new album, "Howl and Filth", which is made up of 6 tracks of various lengths. This is also the band's Translation Loss debut and it was recorded and mixed by Kurt Ballou at God City Studios in Salem. Since their own bio also mentions that they have been referred to by some as "Dark Metal", "Dark Rock", "Post-Metal", "Ambient Sludge" and a psychedelic version of Crowbar that seems like a good place to start. The music itself borrows themes often heard in all of the above "genres" while it also seems to have come from a place that some of us used to just call "alternative metal". Where was that place? Well, the map itself was lost back in the eighties or nineties so if someone was to go looking for it I suspect they would have a hard time locating it. Of course it's an easy enough cop-out to just throw some generic label on Generation Of Vipers, but honestly they have an old familiar sound that still retains enough originality as to avoid throwing out obvious band names. While I'm being fairly cryptic on the music, other than to say it is ambient and dark, the vocals used here are almost death metal in nature. So, while the music is more dark sludge rock/metal with psychedelic doom elements (how's that for a description?) the vocals are harsh and punishing like old-school death metal. That makes "Howl and Filth" all the more menacing and worthwhile.

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The year was 1976 and the place was Liverpool, England. Four young men (two of whom were brothers) decided to form a band even though, supposedly, not one of them had ever played in a actual band before. In addition to the two brothers (Robbie & Brian Burrows - drums and bass respectively) the band would feature guitarist/vocalist Dave Bryce (Sniffa) and vocalist/guitarist Colin Harkness. All totaled Spider would release three albums including 1982's excellent "Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsies", 1984's "Rough Justice" and 1986's "Raise the Banner (For Rock 'n' Roll)" before calling it a day in 1986. Of course the band also released more singles then you can throw a stick at. Or so it seems as I'm listening to the band's "Singles Collection 1976 - 1986". Starting off with the band's first single, 1977's "Back to the Wall" and moving forward it's interesting to see the band's growth. For those who don't know the band was often dubbed a poor man's Status Quo and sure enough this early single showcases a down and dirty boogie style. While Status Quo is a matter of interpretation here, and I surely wouldn't disagree with that assesment, I'd also suggest band's like Eddie And The Hot Rods as a point of reference. Seeing the band play full-tilt boogie style rock, which is certainly on the fringe of the movement admittedly, and then transforming into something with a bit more...well, backbone is interesting. Not that album's like "Rock 'n' Roll Gypsies" completely abandon the boogie. Rather they give it a good kick in the pants. The music on 1982's "Rock 'n' Roll Gypsies" offers more of a familiar NWOBHM sound with louder guitars and an unashamed "let's just have fun with this guys" attitude. It certainly would never be confused with Saxon, Tank or Iron Maiden and yet, even as it is stripped down rock and roll at it's purest, if we are to be honest it deserves every bit the attention these other bands got just because it is so much fun. In the end, despite countless gigs and single after single, the band simply called it quites. None of the members managed to stick around in the field of music really if truth is to be told. Even now some will no doubt cast snide remarks about whether or not Spider were really a NWOBHM band as they were more rock then metal. But, from their early days on the boys just wanted to have fun and play music that was no-frills, rock and roll with the same sort of D.I.Y. attitude that made the genre so sweet to begin with!

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sardonis II out soon

I don't normally post press releases, but I'll post this one because I am a fan of theirs and they asked nicely. Here you go...
SardoniS - 'II' out soon.

Belgian two man army SardoniS signs with Hammerheart for the release of its second album. The new album - aptly titled 'II' - offers 7 hammers of instrumental heaviness in the brutal, grooving tradition of the band but is more uptempo, divers and more metal than the debut. 'II' will be available on CD, limited LP and digital download on June 18th 2012.

You can pre-order now through
On tour in June;
11/06 London (w/ Acid King + Saint Vitus)
12/06 Manchester (w/ Acid King + Saint Vitus)
13/06 Bristol (w/ Acid King + Saint Vitus)
14/06 Arnhem (w/ Acid King)
15/06 Luik (w/ Acid King)

More info via

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Ugly Kid Joe-Stairway To Hell

UKJ Records

Metal Mark and I have differing opinions when it comes to Ugly Kid Joe. While he tends to write them off completely I prefer to look at them as pop metal's dirty white trash neighbor. In an era when big hair and make-up were the norm for men (really?) along came this punk/funk hard rock band that listen Black Sabbath as an influence. Sure, the joke was old as soon as it started and there wasn't much to back up the band's humor. At best they were decent with some songs better than others. On "Stairway To Hell" (clever title boys...) it seems to be more of the same. Or is it? First things first though. The EP will come out on July 9 as a physical release, but digital copies are found on Amazon and Itunes. As well it is being streamed (link below) at Sleaze Roxx which is what I am listening to right now. Now, this is the band’s first release since they called it a day back in 1997. Of the six tracks present there was only one "Love Ain’t True" (which features guest appearances by Angelo Moore and Dirty Walt of Fishbone) that I had heard before and it left me feeling so-so. Well, that track did which you can read below as. Anyway, the other five numbers fans will probably love. It sounds like the old band only with a slightly modern edge. Of the cuts it was "No One Survives" that stood out to me and that was only because it reminded me of Whitfield Crane's short-lived band Medicine. Otherwise the cuts are not bad, but they don't really stick out to much either. Maybe with a few more listens I might be able to hear something to get excited about. Maybe...

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Bible of the devil-For the love of thugs and fools


Cruz Del Sur

So here's the latest from Bible of the devil. We know from their past work that we'll likely get some stoner/classic style metal with influences from Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and NWOBHM bands.  "For the love of thugs and fools" falls into that formula more or less. That's not a bad formula to subscribe to and it has worked for them well enough in the past. The thing is this time around we get an album almost of of halves as far as quality. "Sexual overture/While you were away" kicks it off with the first half being an alright introduction and the second part is a just slightly better but rather typical stomping kind of track. "Out for blood" steps the tempo up a bit and sounds kind of like Zoetrope only more basic and with less spectacular drumming. "Raw and order" is a mid-paced hard rocker that benefits from decent solos. "The Parcher" attempts to be steady, but begins and ends the same-mundane. "I know what is right  (in the night)" has a bit more punch, but all too often feels like the band is holding back in places. "Anytime" and finally they get into their mandatory Thin Lizzy style song, nothing wrong with that because they excel and they mix some other parts in with it as well. "Can't turn off the sun" reminds me of early Dio at first, but ventures off into an anthem and they hold it together pretty well. Woo-who "Yer Boy" is up next and it's more Thin Lizzy inspired rock that they handle so well. The closer "Night Street" has a NWOBHM flavor and it's nothing new or spectacular, but it's very tight and pumps along nicely. This was an uneven album although it eventually leans over to the positive side a little more.

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Hard to believe it's just a few weeks away from being the middle of the year. Seems like 2012 just because. I always a approach a year hoping that everyone has a good or great album. Seriously, I hope everyone hits it out of the park because I don't want to waste my time hearing junk. Fortunately it's been a mostly good year for music so far. Some surprises and some consistent bands continued to put out solid releases. I won't go into details about my favorites so far because...
A-there are still a few more weeks left before the mid-year point so more good albums could come out.
B-I'd like to do a post just on my favorites of the first half of the year about a month from now.

I also like to do a mid-way list that way when the end of the year comes around I'm not scrambled to figure out my favorite albums of the year all at once. The half-way list gives me a head start on the end of the year list.
So here's hoping more fine releases assault out ears in the rest of 2012 and I'll work on a best albums of the year so far to have out the end of next month.

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Fear Factory-The Industrialist


"The Industrialist" (due out June 5th in American and set to be released in three formats – standard CD, a limited edition deluxe digi-book with two additional songs and 180-gram double vinyl) is the second release to be written by vocalist Burton C. Bell and guitarist Dino Cazares since reuniting in 2009 after a seven year split. It also finds the band once again working with producer Rhys Fulber who also brought his keyboard skills to the record.It was mixed by Greg Reely (Paradise Lost/Skinny Puppy/Machine Head), with additional tracking done by Logan Mader (Gojira/Divine Heresy) and is a conceptual record based around a story written by vocalist Burton C. Bell. Formed back in 1989, and originally going by both the names Ulceration and Fear the Factory before it was decided to stay with the shorter Fear Factory, this L.A. band started out with more of a grindcore/death metal sound before transforming themselves into the Ministry/Godflesh industrial metal vibe that they would become known for. On their new album Fear Factory follow the blueprints fairly closely as set by 2010's "Mechanize". The only difference between releases seems to be John Sankey who replaces Gene Hogan. Obviously no one can really "replace" Gene Hogan so the best you can hope for is a suitable replacement. Sankey does a decent enough job, but Hogan is missed. Otherwise Fear Factory sounds like Fear Factory here and listening to this album offers no real complaints. If your into the band you know what is in store by this time so this new album should hold no surprises. If your new to the band then I would probably start with their landmark album, "Soul Of A New Machine", and work your way up. Other then some disappointing years in between that album ("Digimortal" is still a head scratcher to many including me) and this release the band has managed to release more good albums then bad. "The Industrialist" isn't a groundbreaking release by any stretch of the imagination, but it knows what it wants to be and it pushes itself as much to the limit as Cazares and Bell can muster after all these years.

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Delain-We Are The Others

Sensory Records

For those of you not familiar with the Dutch band Delain they were formed in 2002 by former Within Temptation keyboardist Martijn Westerholt and former To Elysium/Infernorama vocalist Charlotte Wessels. Now, it should be a no-brainer that in the hands of ex-Within Temptation member Martijn Westerholt the keyboard is used in such a majestic fashion that it reaches it's full capacity with ease. Saying they are lush arrangements would be a gross understatement. They are simply stunning. Equally stunning (talent wise although she is easy on the eyes as well) is vocalist Charlotte Wessels. As she has been trained in both jazz singing and classical singing she adds an unreal beauty to Delain that, while not too surprising given her skill-set, is as epic as it is charming. Usually symphonic metal bands are hit or miss for me. While the skill and beauty can be present there must also be an urgent sense of addictive appeal if I am to be kept interested. Delain seems to understand that concept well as on the band's third album the music seems to have been crafted in such a way as to maximize the appeal of symphonic metal. At that end the band enlisted a huge production team for the recording, including Jacob Hellner (Rammstein, Apocalyptica), Fredrik Thomander and Anders Wikstrom (Scorpions, Backyard Babies). This seems to have made all the difference as the extra elements (goth, alternative rock, traditional heavy metal,etc) that creep in, while not obvious upon first listen, bring out a variety of different feelings. Even the addition of Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell (as a guest on the album) seems aimed at making the album as varied as possible while still retaining the band's familiar sound and appeal. Joining Charlotte Wessels and Martijn Westerholt is bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije (ex-Detonation) guitarist Timo Somers (ex-Vengeance) and drummer Sander Zoer (ex-Nemesea) and the band, as a whole, emerge at the end of "We Are The Ones" strong and triumphant. Delain's third full-length studio effort is great from start to finish and a sign that the group is on the right track.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Circus Maximus-Nine

Frontiers Records

I'm not sure about you, but I hate it when a record teases you with it's opening (with samples or softer instrumentation) and you expect it to explode out of the gate with something truly HEAVY and then.....nothing. Well, not quite nothing but it is more like a little "poof" then a big explosion of heavy metal fury and RAGE. They could be forgiven if they didn't throw out something like this: "offering the most melodic and at the same time heaviest moments of their repertoire". If this is the heaviest moment of their repertoire then I'd hate to see their softer moments. Would it put you to sleep? Maybe I'm being too mean here, but when your second track is over 10 minutes long and your still wondering when the band is really going to take off well, with great boasts comes great responsibilities! This album might offer mature song-writing, but in the end none of it every catches on. It's classy enough and will surely please those who love a lot of pose and polish, but what it really comes down to is you have an album that elicits very little in the way of excitement. In the end it was just another album to get through which, while technically all shiny and bright, left me feeling rather ho-hum.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weekly Playlist

With Metal Mark tied up with work and outdoor activities I decided to simply post my own lists.

Listening to:
Rogue Male-First Visit
Leather Nunn - Take the Night
The Best Of Indie Metal-Various Artists
Desolation Angel-Same + While The Flame Still Burns Demo Sessions
Hardware-Heavy Nights
Angel Witch-As Above So Below
Stallion-Various Demos
ATC-Cut In Ice
Heir Apparent - Graceful Inheritance

The Wolf Man-The Legacy Collection
Escape From L.A.
The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
MS3TK (various episodes)
Night Of The Creeps
Sherlock Holmes (1939 film series)
Forbidden World
Alien 3

The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes

What are you listening to?


Friday, May 25, 2012

Hellwell-Beyond the Boundaries of Sin

High Roller Records

Hellwell (which is named after Manilla Road keyboardist/bassist E.C. Hellwell) is a new side-project of Manilla Road guitarist/vocalist Mark "The Shark" Shelton. In addition to Mark Shelton and E.C. Hellwell (who played bass and provided vocals on the 2011 Manilla Road LP, "Playground of the Damned") the album also features Jonny Thumper Benson (drums, guitar,bass) and has special appearances by Bryan Hellroadie Patrick and Josh Castillo from Manilla Road. Now, rather then try to explain the concept behind the album I'll just let the promo speak for itself (start here!):

"Beyond the Boundaries of Sin" has much to do with literature and a certain E.C. Hellwell. Mark explains the whole concept of the album: “Side one of the album is just a collection of songs but side two is a complete concept based on the short story 'Acheronomicon' which was written by E.C. Hellwell. He has not been published until now but he has a few other stories that Manilla Road has based songs on before like 'The Riddle Master' and 'Cage of Mirrors'. E.C. came into my life when I was in school way back when and has been a fairly big influence on my philosophical approach to horror. Side two of the album is a trilogy concept that is based on this apocalyptic tale that Ernie came up with not long ago. After reading it I knew that I must put it to music.”The story itself does have some H.P Lovecraft traces. The Shark agrees: “Yes, I would say there are traces of Lovecraft in the story. There are maybe even more traces of Robert E. Howard in it. E.C. has a style that is based out of Poe, Lovecraft and Howard but it is a bit of a style of his own also. He tends to like to do first person stories instead of narratives. Although I read a part of a novel he was working on at one point and it was a narrative style filled with lots of action. I don't think he ever finished it though. I should ask him about that one. E.C. has lots of stuff that he should try and get published.” (end here!)

So, there you have it. We're looking at a concept album here. The track list looks like this:
1 The Strange Case of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes
2 Eaters of the Dead
3 Keepers of the Devils Inn
4 Deadly Nightshade
5 Tomb of the Unnamed One
6 The Heart of Ahriman
7 End of Days

How does it compare to Manilla Road? That is a hard question to answer. With Manilla Road your talking about epic/traditional heavy metal. They are no doubt a classic band. With Hellwell you get a slightly weirder Mailla Road with a heavy dose of keyboard/synthesizer added on. Again I'll head back to the promo as I like what Mark Shelton had to say about the band. When he was asked to describe the project he said "To Manilla Road fans I would say it's like Manilla Road's evil twin". That does fit the description rather well. The music is slightly creepy and bizarre while still retaining that familiar Manilla Road feel. He went on to say "To outsiders that don't know Manilla Road I would say it is like a cross between Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, early Metallica and Manilla Road. Still had to throw the Road in there, ha, ha." I like that and you can really hear the Deep Purple and Uriah Heep influences. I'd say there was some Iron Butterfly, Rainbow and B.O.C. thrown in there as well. It's one of those albums that works as a side-project because it takes the familiar (Manilla Road) and tweaks it (heavy use of keyboards and synthesizers) meaning it will appeal to old fans as well as new people who are out looking for something different to try. Overall the album has a rather eerie feeling with the heavy use of horror elements adding to the dark and creepy feeling. This is just a fun listen start to finish. Hopefully this isn't the last we hear of Hellwell.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Murder Of My Sweet-Bye Bye Lullaby

AFM Records

Sweden's The Murder of My Sweet was formed in 2006 by drummer and producer Daniel Flores. The band's name was inspired by the 1944 film noir "Murder, My Sweet"
which is kind of interesting as the music itself is said to be influenced by movie soundtracks (as well as various books) and movie soundtracks. Rounding out the rest of the band is the talented Angelica Rylin (vocals), Andreas Lindahl (keyboards), Teddy Westlund (bass) and David Sivelind (guitar). Prior to the release of the band's 2010 debut album, "Divanity" the band released the single “Bleed Me Dry” which reached the No. 14 spot on the Swedish National Singles Charts. Two more singles (2010's "Tonight" and 2012's "Unbreakable") were released before this female-fronted five-piece issued "Bye Bye Lullaby". On this album then, the band's sophomore LP, (which by the way was produced in their own Sound vs. Science Studio and mastered at the Cutting Room) (Gorgoroth, Candlemass, Glenn Hughes) the music is full of hard rock and progressive metal moments as well as traditional heavy metal and modern rock influences. With well structured numbers that are full of both biting edge rock/metal and stunning keyboard work the added guest appearances by Jesper Strömblad (In Flames), Peter Wichers (Soilwork) & Fredrik Åkesson (Opeth) just ends up being icing on the cake. While the promo mentions that one track was featured on the soundtrack for the movie “The Ice Dragon”, which was featured at the Berlin Film Festival, they don't mention which one. The thing is it's easy to tell that the music is influenced by movie soundtracks as the whole album has a special feel to it. It carries the various highs and lows of personal emotions well and with it's musical inspirations moving about from more hard rock music to melodic alternative rock and everything in between it ends up as a truly epic experience. In a normal setting the idea of a soundtrack-based band would not sit well with me. Does anyone else remember U2's side-project Passengers? "Original Soundtracks 1" left me less then impressed and from that point on I dreaded the idea of album's where a band would purposely try to craft something soundtrack in nature. The Murder Of My Sweet could have been a disaster if not for two things. The first is singer Angelica Rylin. Angelica (pardon the bad pun!) has a voice like an angel. A rock and roll angel that is. She has an amazing and powerful voice. Between that little fact and the reality that The Murder Of My Sweet can write music that is indeed well-rounded and epic in quality and the album ends up working on so many levels. This promo does not do the band justice as these five musicians have written actual rock songs that contain a pop sensibility along with a mean hard rock/metal attitude. It's electronic and natural, full of energy and emotion while knowing at it's very core that the music has to have serious substance and charm. Otherwise this would be on flat album full of fake emotions. It isn't though. Far from it actually. With it's fair share of melody and driving power rock this is a fun album and a sure fire winner! Here's hoping the future is only brighter for this Swedish band.

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Jorn-Bring Heavy Rock to the Land

Frontiers Records

With a career spanning over 30 albums where does Jorn Lande find enough time to release yet another solo LP? Actually, this is already the seventh "solo" studio album for Jorn as crazy as that seems to me. Does this guy ever sleep? Is he even human? For those who don't know the name Jorn is probably best known for Masterplan although he has played Ark, Millennium, Vagabond, Beyond Twilight, etc. With his new album, "Bring Heavy Rock to the Land" Jorn welcomes back guitarist Jimmy Iversen who previously appeared on “Spirit Black”. Also involved in this latest album is bassist Nic Angileri, second guitarist Tore Morenis (Wild Willy's Gang, Carnivora, Arcturus and Skitliv) and drummer Willy Bendiksen (Wild Willy's Gang, Bad Habitz, Blonde On Blonde, Flax, Høst, Perfect Crime, Road, etc). If you have heard Jorn before then you should already know what to expect. This is another album that walks the line between traditional heavy metal and classic hard rock with Jorn's vocals serving as the highlight. While I wouldn't say he sounds like Dio he has the same kind of powerful voice that the late great Ronnie did (incidentally Jorn released a tribute album to Dio back in 2010 called "Dio"). The promo suggests that Dio, Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Whitesnake are like-minded bands. Those first three do come to mind as does acts like Judas Priest, Warlord, Bible Of the Devil,
Oliver Magnum, Saxon, Riot, Overdrive and Iron Maiden. In other words the perfect blend of classic heavy metal, eighties hard rock/heavy metal and progressive metal! With eight new tracks (all of which are just great!) and two cover songs (Christopher Cross’ "Ride Like the Wind" and a new version of Masterplan's song "Time To Be King") this is an album sure to please the Jorn faithful while potentially pulling in some new fans as well. This one is highly recommended.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012



When I first happened upon Seattle, Washington-based band Snail and saw that a comparison had been made to Alice In Chains well, naturally I suspected that grunge would be in order. Released at the start of May the album had just sat there for awhile (actually, "album" isn't the best word choice as this was simply a download link provided by a friend so there was no physical album to be had) and it was only after a moment of curiosity that I listened to some of the songs. The Alice In Chains comparison is, at best, slight as this is more in line with psychedelic rock/stoner metal. For the sake of clarity the band members themselves list Black Sabbath, Monster Magnet, Sleep, Fu Manchu and the Melvins on their Reverbnation page. You can form your own picture from all of those listed bands, but be assured that this is far from the Seattle grunge that I had anticipated. The band was formed in 1992 by vocalist/guitarist Mark Johnson (who had briefly played bass with The Crucified), bassist Matt Lynch (Plugusher) and drummer Marty Dodson. In 1993 they released their self-titled debut album on Big Deal Records. Snail's second release was a 5-song EP entitled "All Channels Are Open" followed by a four-way split in 1995. After that release Snail disbanded before resurfacing in 2008. Armed with a new guitarist (Eric Clausen) Snail released "Blood" (reviewed by Metal Mark) on Meteorcity Records. "Terminus" marks the band's latest release and my first exposure to their take on psychedelic rock/metal meets stoner/doom metal. This is excellent stuff and well worth a look if your into the any of the bands listed above. This album is also another "pay what you can" download. Granted money is tight for all of us, but at least throw the band a meager dollar or two if you can. Snail seem like the kind of band that creates music for personal gain and nothing more, but even they have to make ends meet so in the spirit of supporting underground metal help out if you can.

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Cleveland's Millennium, who are a relatively obscure N.W.O.B.H.M. act, came to prominence in the early part of the eighties. The five-piece band was formed in 1983 and managed to score an appearance on the "Pure Overkill" split the same year. Playing alongside the bands Risk, Spartan Warrior, Incubus (who we recently covered in another NWOBHM WEDNESDAY feature) and Tokyo Rose helped boost the band's presence on the English heavy metal scene. The three cuts that the band laid to tape ( "Steal Your Heart", "Rock Was Meant For Me" and "Magic Mirror") for "Pure Overkill" were added to the band's lone long-player, the self-titled "Millennium". From the opening number, "Gang Wars", (my favorite cut on the album!) to the album's closer ("Try To Leave Me") there was a sound that combined the best part of eighties metal and the British metal scene. Despite rave reviews (Including one in "Kerrang" magazine) the band seemed to lose their way after the album's release. First came some line-up reshuffling before a brief name change (Tyrone Power? Really?) nearly ruined everything. Having to go it alone (as in no more label support) the band issued a 1985 demo. The demo announced a shift in style as no longer was the band content to play Desolation Angels-style metal, but instead they took on a more Helloween sound. Another demo ("Metal Era") followed in 1986 on which the band made an unsuccessful return to their earlier style. The band took one last shoot at regaining their lost glory with another demo in 1987 before calling it a day. Other than vocalist Mark Duffy (who would go on to have success in with thrash act Toranaga) the band members faded away. Their one self-titled album has been issued on CD by Guardian Records. It is more than a worthwhile addition to any N.W.O.B.H.M. collection.

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Forgotten Gems: R.U. Deadly-Various Demos

This particular Forgotten Gem is going to be a little different. For one thing Salem, Ohio's R.U. Deadly were never able to secure a record contract. The band, which was active from 1987 to 1998, released three demos ("Burial at Sea" in 1990, "Into the Light" in 1992 and "R.U. Deadly" in 1995) and shared the stage with such acts as Manowar, LA Guns, Bruce Dickinson (solo tour), Chastain, Blue Oyster Cult, Slaughter, Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, Noisy Mama, and Pat Travers. Despite a sizable cult following and positive press this four-piece remained unsigned. While a reunion did take place in November of 2006 (it was a benefit concert with all proceeds going to offset the costs incurred with the murder of Shaun Maloy's son Damian) for now it looks as if the band is more or less on hold. Especially since the band members themselves are spread across the country according to their old Myspace page. Below I will post a link where you can preview and download these demos yourself. So, why choose to cover an unsigned band? Why was the band never able to achieve greater success despite playing out frequently and shopping their demo to any and every label known to mankind? Well, for that first question the answer is quite simple. R.U. Deadly were made up of four guys who obviously love metal first and foremost. The band (who I believe I actually saw live at least once back in the blur I call my younger days) was made up of the same four guys throughout their decade-long run. R.U. Deadly included vocalist Shaun Maloy, guitarist Rick Wright, bassist Mike "Metal Pete" McCollum and drummer Rich "Mad Max" McIe. They played killer power metal/thrash along the lines of (early) Death Angel, Exodus, Omen, Heathen, Metal Church, early Testament and Chemikill (who incidentally bassist Mike "Metal Pete" McCollum played live with at least once) that was played with an equal amount of intensity and skill. This U.S. steel band, whose influences were "Savatage, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Alice Cooper, Pantera, Metallica, Metal Church, Trouble, and metal in all it's forms...." managed to sell some 2000+ tapes by themselves plus t-shirts and other forms of merchandise. Not band for a band that never managed to attract major label interest. Which brings us back to the question of why exactly did major labels (or even independent labels for that matter) miss what was almost certainly a sure-thing? They had a built in fan club and band stability throughout a whole decade('87-'97). Not many bands can claim that right? The songs are just cool. That's right. They are just cool slabs of power/thrash with catchy riffs and sweet lead guitar work. These four guys knew how to write fun heavy metal. All I can think is that they were either not thrash enough for labels who wanted the next Metallica or Slayer or two heavy for a band to be in the era of grunge. Thankfully the demos are all well-produced so there is (more or less) a full-length album's worth of great tunes sure to please U.S. metal fans. With good bands like this just waiting to be rediscovered I'm glad we have places like Strappado's Rare And Obscure Metal site.

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Power Theory-An Axe To Grind

Pure Steel Records

Tullytown, Pennsylvania act Power Theory released their debut album, "Out Of The Ashes, Into The Fire... And Other Tales Of Insanity" in 2011. Now we have the follow-up album, "An Axe To Grind" which looks to prove that traditional U.S. heavy metal is alive and well. It's only after that shock sets in that you begin to acknowledge the huge debt owed to acts like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Cirith Ungol and Saxon. Onward the record spins and it becomes more obvious that their sound also pulls in some American traditional metal like Savatage, Sanctuary and Metal Church (this is especially evident in the David Wayne like lead vocals of Power Theory's Dave Santini) as well as some minor aspects of thrash (Metallica and Megadeth). More then anything though this is straight-shooting, no-frills U.S. power metal and for that there is cause to celebrate. Thank the maker above that modern metal hasn't made these sort of bands all but obsolete. Power Theory (in addition to lead singer Dave Santini) is Bob "BB" Ballinger (guitar and backing Vocals), Jay Pekala (bass and backing Vocals) and Lorin Savadore (drums) and even though the group are still young, having formed in 2007, they play with a level of maturity that is quite refreshing. Seldom have I seen (or rather heard) a band this young pull off an album that sounds fresh and timeless, relaxed and yet epic. "An Axe To Grind" is not quite in the same league as the bands that Power Theory idolize, but man if this still isn't some of the best power metal I've heard this year then I need my hearing checked! These 9 tracks seriously kick the crap out of modern metal and recall everyone from Savatage to Anthrax, Grave Digger to Metal Church, Cirith Ungol to Accept and, well you get the picture. This is classic power metal with a modern flair. From the insane lead work of Bob Ballinger (check out the number "A Fist in the Face of God"-wow!) to the serious bass work of Jay Pekala everything just clicks. And there is no way we're leaving out Lorin Savadore's high energy drumming! The whole band fits together perfectly giving "An Axe To Grind" this urgent sense of power and fury. Power metal fans (especially those that obsess over American power metal) would be well-advised to add this one to their collection!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rose Tattoo-Live in 1993 from Boggo Road Jail

MVD Visual

What was going on in the music world in 1993? Seems like there was a bunch of grunge and alternative bands moving to the forefront of the scene over here. However one music event of note was taking place on the other side of the world. Rose Tattoo had reformed to open for Guns -n- Roses and they also played at an event to celebrate the closing of the Boggo Road Jail. This DVD is from that show. What a show it is. This band has always been compared to AC/DC and rightfully so with the sound being similar in it's basic style. However AC/DC lightened up after a few years while Rose Tattoo stayed very raw. The heart of their music really shines through in this show from almost twenty years ago. They plow through some great songs including "Assault and battery", "Rock  -n- roll is king", "One of the boys" and "Tramp". I tried to think of highlights, but really the whole show is highlights. There are no filler, no off moments just a down and dirty rock band hitting on all cylinders. The thing hits me most watching them in this show was it's like a big party as far as the relationship between the band and their fans. This isn't some rock stars putting on a big, it's just a band and it's fans feeding off of each other's energy and that's how it should be. The sound and video quality are decent. My only complaint was for about the first half of the show we kept getting the same angles of the crowd. This was a big show with a wide area to film from, surely they had more cameras capturing the action, but that's a minor complaint. This was a heck of a show from a band that hasn't always gotten it's due outside of their home country. It's also hard to believe that both guitarists who played on this show-Peter Wells and Mick Cocks have both since passed away. So this DVD is definitely worth seeing to view this line-up giving their all.

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Ice Dragon-Tome of the Future Ancients


Ice Dragon, who were formed in 2008, hail from Metal Mark's home state of Massachusetts. This is the band's third full-length album (they also have done a split) and is one of those wonderful "name your price" downloads (the site does say that a vinyl edition of the album will be released on Yersinia Pestis Records later this year). Fans of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus and Electric Wizard would do well to check out this three piece band although there is more to the picture than just stoner/doom metal. This Boston act likes to keep things interesting with the addition of psychedelic rock and Middle Eastern instrumentation. Definitely worth track down.

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Michael Thompson Band-Future Past

Frontiers Records

Michael Thompson is a guitarist known for his studio work with a list of who's who in the music industry. He has worked with Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, 'N Sync, Toni Braxton, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, the Scorpions, Vince Neil, Christina Aguilera, Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey, Bette Midler, Madonna, Babyface, En Vogue, Gloria Estefan, Stanley Clarke and Ricky Martin. "Future Past" is actually the second release from this talented guitarist to be issued under the Michael Thompson Band (M.T.B.) moniker. The first was the well-received 1988 album "How Long". Now just like on "How Long" what you get with "Future Past" is top of the line AOR/Melodic Rock. In addition to Michael Thompson himself (Guitars & Keys) the M.T.B. is made up vocalist Larry King (Soleil Moon), bassist Alan Berliant and drummer Khari Parker. Guest musicians include keyboardist John Blasucci, bassist Dave Hiltebrand (bass on tracks "When You Love Someone", "Beautiful Mystery", "Future Past", "Here I Am" and "Break Me Down"), drummer Matt Walker (on the track "High Times"), Sahara Thompson ( background vocals on "Can’t Miss") and keyboardist/backing vocalist/saxophonist J.P. Delaire (also on "Can’t Miss"). The album was produced by Larry King and Michael Thompson themselves and comes off as clear and clean. AOR and melodic rock fans will find plenty to rejoice about with "Future Past" from the smooth vocals of Larry King to the top-notch playing of Michael Thompson (not to mention the lush keyboards!). All in all there are 11 tracks of easy on the ears melodic rock from a guitarist who knows his way around the studio.

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Napalm Records

Nachtblut (German for Nightblood) were formed in 2005. On "Dogma", the band's newest album, the mood is grim and bleak. Sung entirely in German, the band's latest release is unique in that it opts for a style that combines elements both symphonic metal and melodic black metal with the faint echo of Rammstein. "Dogma" will most likely not appeal to everyone as is a dark, depressing and morbid affair that takes all of these different elements and turns it into something unnerving. While it is dreary it also makes for an interesting listen as the band takes apart the eerie electronic/industrial sound of Rammstein and mixes it with melodic overtones and different elements that recall the works of such bands as Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. As stated the music is dark and dreary with the heavy use electronics only serving to keep the listener off guard. What could end as a glorious mess though (as a mixture of black metal, symphonic metal, goth and electronic/industrial rock/metal does not sound that appealing on paper to many) is helped along by an excellent set of highly skilled musicians and a strong performance out of vocalist Askertoh. The band mates combine forces to create a release that is as atmospheric and natural in sound as it is electronic and synthesized. This is an interesting release that is sure to please Nachtblut fans as well as raise up new followers to their cause.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Forgotten Gems-Hibria-The skull collectors

I remember around 2005 or 2006 a friend passed on an extra copy of a disc called "Defying the rules" by some band called Birbria. Eventually I gave it a listen and was shocked. It was a mix of Helloween, Gamma Ray, Iron Maiden, Dio and others. It was also pretty spectacular and they showed some real poise for it being a debut LP. Most people think it's their best album to date. So why then did pick their follow-up to highlight? Hey, good question and here are two answers-A) This album doesn't get as much recognition as "Defying the rules" and B)I prefer the "The skull collectors". That last answer surprises me because I didn't think they could that they could surpass "Rules" but they did. This album is everything that the previous album was-heavy, slick, sometimes fast. However this time around there are no gaps, every ounce of the music is tight. The pace changes are automatic, there is no hesitation because everything is right on. They take the power of classicmetal and merge it with European style power metal. It's is definitely album that gets even better with each play. It's only a shame that the cover doesn't live up to the level of the music. They did another album last year, but I have yet to hear it.

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Jump Ship Quick-Where Thieves Cannot Tread

Punk Roxx Records / Thumper Punk Records

Jump Ship Quick are a Colorado based punk rock band featuring former members of Focused and Ultimatum. Their debut album, "Where Thieves Cannot Tread", was produced by Five Iron Frenzy saxophonist “Jeff the Girl” (aka Leanor Inez Ortega Till) and mixed and mastered by Masaki Liu (Five Iron Frenzy, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Echoing Green and The W’s). While the promo suggests bands like NOFX (sure) and The Crucified (really?) it's more likely you'll hear bits and pieces of bands like 7 Seconds, The Ramones, S.N.F.U., The Dead Milkmen, Jawbreaker, Gorilla Biscuits, Agent Orange, Pennywise, Sloppy Seconds, Gang Green, Dayglo Abortions, Green Day, early Sum 41, Murphy's Law, Youth Of Today, Zero Boys, D.R.I., Descendants/ALL, Street Dogs and Bad Religion. So, if you look at that list and the first thing you think is "that's a lot of old school punk, pop/punk and hardcore punk love going on" your right. This one sounds more mid-eighties then anything else and, if it wasn't for the politically charged lyrics, it could easily have slipped in unnoticed among my high school tape collection. How politically charged is it? I mean seeing as I was Anarchyboy long before I was a responsible father of two why wouldn't this sort of punk rock co-exist in my tape collection? Well, while it is straight edge and political it is probably not want your thinking. This isn't your typical anti-government/anti-authority punk rock we're talking about (which is what a teenage Andy was all about!). "Not My Fault", for example, is a number that preaches personal-responsible in a world where we can blame anything and everything (our parents, public school, movies, music, etc) for our problems. What a radical concept! Taking personal responsibility for our actions! Wow! Meanwhile "Killing For Convenience" (which by the way reminds me a lot of "Killing the Innocent" by ex-The Crucified guitarist Greg Minier) is a pro-life number. Again, having a number that addresses the butchering of unborn children is certainly not your typical "punk" topic. It's not likely that either number will go over well in a politically correct world, but it's obvious that Jump Ship Quick could care less. I give them props for standing by their convictions and not bowing to increasing public pressure to conform to a certain mindset. Jump Ship Quick offer a nice alternative for those seeking quality punk rock with a positive message. Sure the band are bound to cause waves and wrinkle more than a few feathers, but isn't that the true spirit of punk anyway? Isn't punk about standing by your convictions no matter what society thinks?

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Forgotten Gems: Vavel-Vavel

This Greek band was formed in 1986 and ended up releasing this self-titled LP (on the record label Famous) later that same year. That LP would end up being a very hot ticket item. It ended up being on the rare side of things and before it was eventually re-released on CD by Unisound it was heavily bootlegged on CD. As for the vinyl copies? Well, if you could actually find one for sale it could end up going for as much as $200! Rather amazing for a band that people seem to have extreme reactions to-they either love the band or hate them. It should be noted that the CD re-release (which I have-mine being number 212 of 3,000) can be had for under $10.00 (the copy I got on Ebay sold for $3.00!) so if your adventurous (and/or curious) there is not much of a financial obligation involved. This one release would prove to be the only album the band released until 2002's "The Second Death". Supposedly the band's collapse was due in part to bad management and the lack of interest from record companies. Whatever the case this is an interesting album through and through (if not consistently at least in the sense that it keeps your interest) and a cult eighties heavy metal release. "Epic Power Metal" is the term most people opt for when describing this Greek band. That term doesn't quite cut it for me though. This is far more traditional heavy metal meets early progressive metal then epic power metal. To be fair there are moments when things get heavy enough to qualify as power metal, but more then anything this is heavy traditional metal. Everything from the guitar work to the bass and drums (and even the keyboard/synthesizer arrangements ) is right in line with everything early eighties heavy metal had to offer and I'd be ever so tempted to call this is a must-have if not for one slight problem and that is vocalist Pavlos Gavrilidis. To say he's uneven is putting it mild. More often than not he falls flat on his face making the music seem so out of place. There are very few moments when he gets everything just right and I suspect that has a lot to do with the various feelings associated with Vavel. If the band had been blessed with an average lead singer then this good album could have been something quite magical. As is his voice drags the release down a notch or two. It isn't enough to say skip the whole affair, but it must be noted that he is below-average at best. Still I find this one album to be quite enjoyable if for no other reason than the fact that it is a bit of an unknown release and that it represents everything I love about early to mid-eighties heavy metal. Is it worth $200.00 for an LP? Not for me. How about under $10.00 for a CD? Yeah, I could go for that especially when it means Greek heavy metal that is rare and fairly unknown. It isn't a sure thing, but it is certainly interesting and has the unmistakable feel of old-school hard and heavy music.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Forgotten Gems: Criminal-Dead Soul

Inferno Records/Metal Blade Records

Criminal are a South American band that are relatively unknown here in the United States, but have a sizeable following in their homeland. No doubt it is thanks to their potent brand of death metal/thrash with a hardcore bent. This was actually the band's sophomore release and the first album I heard from the band. Originally it was released on Inferno Records, but seeing as it sold some 10,000 copies in Chile alone it wasn't long before someone took notice. Metal Blade records came along to publish the album in America and Europe. Right from the start the band drew comparisons to Incubus (the Brazilian death metal band) and older Sepultura ("Beneath The Remains" & "Arise" era). The Sepultura influence can be heard especially in the vocal deliverance of Criminal guitarist/vocalist Anton Reisenegger. He bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain Max Cavalera. Style-wise there is also some Slayer to their sound especially in the lead work. Add that to some Pantera, Machine Head and Pissing Razors influences and what you get is certainly more than just run-of-the-mill death/thrash. This one is every bit as heavy on the thrash side of things as it is brutal with the death metal bits and the hardcore influx. While this isn't hardcore like Black Flag hardcore (rather it is hardcore like Pantera/Machine Head and Pissing Razors hardcore) it is everybit as heavy as early hardcore like the Cro-Mags and C.O.C. What the band might lack in originality (some of the songs do feel a bit similar in nature the more the album unwinds) they make up for in shear intensity and brutality. There is more going on here then simple Brazilian death/thrash. There's just something in the band's mix-up of hardcore, death and thrash that almost reminds me of the band Cave In (in their early days) is they were to pay homage to older Slayer. This is one band that needs more of an audience up North. Those who answer the call to Criminal will not be disapointed. This is underground metal that needs to be heard to truly be appreciated.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012


Metal Revelation

Hailing from Sweden, members of this band had been in other bands here and there learning their way in the business. Eventually this band came together, but over the course of three year they went through line-ups changes and various other struggles before finding their way to recording. Now we get a four track album of progressive edged hard rock. I hear some Savatage, Queensryche and others. The production is very full and helps give each song a boost. The songs generally start fine, in fact they begin with some smooth melodies and engaging vocals. However, try as I might I felt rather cold after listening to three of the four tracks.  Each track started alright, but none of them ever pushed very hard. Instead I felt myself waiting for the songs to unfold or build up something-anything. Yet they felt satisfied with cruising on repetition and just holding on until the songs ended. The final track "Poison Lies" was the one exception where I really felt like had a formula in place and tried to make a complete song that kept my attention for the whole time. The playing talent is there, there's no doubt about that. What they lack is the ideas and the hooks. That's not a small problem because that's the meat of any real songs no matter what the style of music is. Confidence are lacking in that area and it's too much of a problem to overlook. I wish them the best of luck and hope they can develop their ideas to a greater extent for their next release.

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Tysondog-Hammerhead 2012

Global Music

Well, now what do we have here? This is a bit of a surprise all things considered. I didn't know that Tysondog had apparently reformed. And yet here we have Tysondog releasing a 4-track EP with new versions of the tracks "Hammerhead", "The Inquisitor", "In The End" and "Painted Heroes". According to a Youtube teaser for this EP the band's current line-up includes members Clutch (vocals), Paul Burdis (guitar), Alan Hunter (guitar and vocals), Kev Wynn (bass) and Rob Walker (drums). If I'm not mistaken everyone but Rob Walker played on their 1984 debut album "Beware Of The Dog" (where you can find the original versions of these four tracks). Rob though played on the follow-up album "Crimes Of Insanity". Both LPs were released on the famous record label Neat. Tysondog were a fairly typical Neat signing with a sound that recalled fellow Neat artist's like Blitzkrieg, Raven and Cloven Hoof or if you like Iron Maiden/Judas Priest-style NWOBHM. When Neat decided not to pick up the option for a third album it spelled the end for these heavy rockers. Kind of a shame too as I have Tysondog's "Painted Heroes - The Anthology" and, even if it is fairly typical heavy metal, it is rather fun through and through. This four-track EP (which I assume is to be followed by a new album in 2012 or 2013?) is nothing new. Well, I mean it's new versions of old songs so it is new in that regard. But, if you have the original versions there is not much sense in getting this. Sort of wish they would have put a new track or at the very least unreleased track on here, but it is what it is. If you've never heard these guys then I would start with either of their albums or the anthology. Someday soon Metal Mark and I should do a proper write-up on these guys for a NWOBHM WEDNESDAY. In the meantime here's hoping Tysondog has a new album up their sleeves seeing as this EP might not offer much new, but the guys at least all still sound good after all these years!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Nukes-Demonstration Cassette 2012


Ok, here's the bio for this band: "Uh... We're like a band or whatever." That is so very helpful. Unfortunately doing a search for this band and/or demo didn't help much either. No link to a website so other than the free download (from Sereokiller below) nothing to go on with this full-length. By the way in this case full-length means eight fast and furious punk/hardcore tracks in under 6 minutes. A good time was had by all. Just get it.

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French Metal Friday: Der Kaiser

For today's French Metal Friday article I've decided to cover the (somewhat) cult 80's band Der Kaiser. The band (whose name means "the Emperor" in case you couldn't figure it out) was formed in 1981 by bassist Thierryi and drummer Philippe. In short order the pair recruited guitar players Beno & P’tit Tchong and then lead singer Pascal. The band would go on to record a self-titled/self-release demo (1983) before being signed to the one and only French label Devil's Records. Name a good French heavy metal band from the eighties and chances are that Devil's Records had them on their roster. "Vautours", which was released in 1984, is rather typical eighties heavy metal and yet it ranks among my favorite French metal releases. It was followed in 1985 by "La Griffe De l'Empire" which saw Claude Thill (ADX, Alannah) take over the vocalist position. The band was supposedly working on a third album when they broke up. Several factors contributed to the band's break-up but chief among them was lack of interest from their label and a changing metal scene in France. The first to bail was drummer Philippe followed by the rest of the outfit. All would be silent on the Der Kaiser front until January 2009 when the band played for the first time in something like 23 years! Since then the band has played out and are considered active, but with their last release being "La Griffe de l'Empire" there isn't much new musically. To be honest I'm not so sure either album are available on CD so for those interested in checking out this fun eighties heavy metal band it's either search out their LPs on places like Ebay or download their music online.

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Current playlist

Here you go:

 Listening to:
Testament-The Legacy
R.U. Deadly-Various Demo Tracks, 1990 - 1996
Sapient-Unreleased Recordings, 1984
N.W.O.B.H.M.: Very Best Of Dragster
Tindrum-Drums Of War
Children – Death Tribe EP
Shock Tilt-Night Flight/Elinor-Where Do You Go
One Nature-Mutilated Children/ Perfect Birth Defect 7 " Releases

Messiah Of Evil
Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
Star Trek The Next Generation

Various origami books 

Metal Mark-

Listening to-
Uriah Heep-Salisbury
Bible of the devil-For the love of thugs and fools
Discocks-Long live Oi!
Steel Aggressor-From ruins to dust
Holland Heavy Metal vol.1
The music of DC comics
Van Halen-Demo Daze 
Mighty High-Legalize Tre bags
Untimely Demise-Full speed metal

The Alligator People
Tales from the darkside season 3
Rose Tattoo Live in 1993 from Boggo Road Jail

Various books for work
Daredevil comic books

***What are you listening to, watching and reading?

The Cory Smoot Experiment-When Worlds Collide

Metal Blade Records

On November 3, 2011 guitarist Cory Smoot passed away from a heart attack. He was only 34 years old. According to the autopsy report Cory died from a "coronary artery thrombosis brought about by his pre-existing coronary artery disease,” (per North Dakota coroner William Massel). He left behind a family so, before I get too far into this review, I feel that I should mention that all proceeds from this album will be donated to the Smoot Family Fund to help provide for those Cory left behind. "When Worlds Collide" is available at the link below where you can listen to samples from the album as well as donate to fund. The album will be available on June 5th, 2012. If you can please consider helping out the Smoot family. Back to the actual album now. A little back story is in order I suppose. Originally this project (which was recorded back in 2010) was to be Cory's version of Probot (although without all the different types of metal represented). The project was to be concept album called "Religion is Fiction" with Cory recording all the tracks himself and then having some of his favorite singers from the Richmond metal scene (including GWAR lead singer Dave Brockie and Lamb of God's Randy Blythe) handle the lead vocals. Due to scheduling issues it just didn't work out that way so Cory recorded the vocals himself. The project, now known as "The Cory Smoot Experiment", was wrapped up before his final tour with GWAR in the fall of 2011. With that said this is kind of a hard album to listen to if only for the reason that Smoot obviously put a lot of hard work into this album and passed away before he could hear how people felt about it. From that standpoint this is a sad album to listen to. It represents Cory Smoot's last (personal) creative outpouring. However, it is also an album that showcases Cory's many skills. From the sounds found within he obviously took his time crafting this album. From the song structures to the lyrics to the actual music everything is just spot-on without being too fancy. Here you have a record that showed his love for the music first and foremost as well as his skill with not only the guitar (a given), but also as a vocalist. He handles both aspects with a certain level of ease and comfort. The album is (overall) modern metal in feel, but the way in which it is presented is the key point. Cory gets to play the lead role here and he makes the most of it. No longer just a bit player he relishes the chance to shine in the spotlight and as the album unfolds one can't help but wonder why Cory Smoot didn't take more chances like this. I know he had other side-projects (which I have not heard, but received so-so reviews from others), but this "experiment" was a real success. It is not brilliant or groundbreaking, but it is real heavy metal through and through filled with emotion, power and conviction. If he had done more "solo" work like this he very well could have found a certain level of success on his own away from GWAR. As is though he has left us with an empty hole that cannot be replaced, but (as little consolation as it might be) at least he has left behind this album for all to enjoy. It is a testament to his vision, skills and creative outlook. In a world where heavy metal can become too bland and colorless, too familiar (or if you will by-the-numbers) this was his attempt to stand out in a crowded room. While some might choose to just look (listen) to the album on one level it is a record whee you need to look beyond the obvious. Look past the "modern metal" tag and you will find an album that was created out of a need to express everything Cory had going on inside. For his friends and family and for GWAR (who will no doubt miss Cory and his skills) this album is a memory of a man who may have left us all far too young, but he left us also with the knowledge that he was more than just a character in a band. He was real flesh and blood with a deeper understanding of this world around us. This is a really good metal album and a great cause. Find out more at the link below.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Divider/Colony-Split 7 inch.


Here's the thing kids. This is a split from our friends over at Stereokiller. Not sure if they posted it first or if they just choose to highlight the darn thing. Either way that is where I found it so due credit must be given. That was point A if you like so here is point B: This is a split that has been out for a few months now, but seeing as it is new to me that makes it alright! If it's not new to you then move along...nothing to see here. But, if it will be new to you then take notice. First thing striking about this two band split is the fact that both bands represent the New York hardcore scene and that my friends is something to pause and consider. New York has a rich tradition of blood on the streets, fists in the air, broken bottles/broken bones real hardcore. The fact that there is new blood (no pun intended) being spilled here is a good thing. Keep the scene alive and well whatever it takes. That said these two particular acts-Divider (Long Island, NY) and Colony (Hudson Valley, NY) are not straight-up hardcore per say. Rather both of these bands are hardcore with any extra helping of sludge. Does that make them any less a part of the New York hardcore scene? In my opinion the answer is no, but feel free to argue that point if you like. On the split Divider come up to the plate first with the mid-paced "Tide Lungs". This is the band's only contribution (which is a shame) and it places more of an emphasis on low-end heaviness than the typical crazy speed of street hardcore. It is gritty, raw and quite real with a serious attitude problem and a dead-serious heavy guitar sound. Meanwhile Colony get three tracks to work with and (without simplifying what they do) come across as a bit more blood-soaked and ugly version of Eyehategod. Of their three tacks it was the last number, "Dead Ends" that was my favorite. It has a little bit of everything from frenzied hardcore to face melting sludge to (believe it or not) some weird progressive tendencies. Different in a good way...a very good way. Otherwise on the other tracks Colony still deliver vicious sludge/hardcore that is just plain nasty so if that progressive bit scares you don't worry. They know who they are and what needs to be done to get their point across. Both bands do the scene proud and play with professional pride. Even though most people will just scoop this up as a free download (which I would not blame you for doing as money is tight for everyone!) the split 7 inch is available to purchase in 3 different vinyl colors. Well worth it if your a fan of sludge/hardcore. You can find the link though for the free download below.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Electric Wizard-Witchcult Today re-issue

Metal Blade/Rise Above

This album  originally came out in 2007 but now it's getting the re-issue treatment from Metal Blade and Rise Above. This was their sixth album and was recorded on vintage 1970's equipment. This wasn't as much a departure in style as it was more of a stripped down approach to some extent. The couple of albums before this had seen some experimentation and plenty changes in tone. The two albums before this definitely had more layers of fuzz added on.Witchcult Today in many ways saw the band getting back to their doom roots to some extent and we definitely got to hear more of Jus Oborn's vocals and they were mostly clean. The themes are much the same as on their previous work, which means witchcraft, drugs, horror literature and British horror films. We do "Black Magic rituals and diversions" which is a lengthy mixture of spoken word excerpts and occasional drum thumping. Raptus is a brief venture into spaced out sounds and "Saturnine" is a long more involved voyage to another planet. However we also get the title track, "Dunwich" and "Satanic Rites of Drugula" which are perhaps some of the most traditional doom that the Wizard have done. Of course that's all relative because this band has always been about being extreme in terms of heaviness and sludge. I like this album as much now as I did when I first heard it in the fall of 2007. It lacks some of the oddness of their previous releases but it shows this band could really focus in deliver some massive waves of pure doom. Instead of just merely sitting a smoke-filled haze this time around they stepped up and really hammered out some straight out, deep down metal that reminded us that this band can still play.

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Order Of Nine-Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror

Nightmare Records

Pittsburgh's Order of Nine trace their roots back to the progressive/power metal band Templar. Under that name the band released one lone album ("A Touch of Winter's Discontent") before opting for the name change in 2001. Not sure what to make of the name as I wonder what the origin is for it. That is neither here nor there, but rather just an observation. Of interest though is this "useful" tidbit from the promo (in regards to lead vocalist Michael Degrena)-"with the dark voice of a Seven foot Vampyre, reminiscent of Peter Steele and lower register Geoff Tate albeit having a rather engaging airy rasp that neither the aforementioned share." Given that introduction how does one avoid the Queensryche comparison? Will get to that in a bit though. After changing their name (and style a bit as I'll also explain later) in 2002 the band would issue the self-released album "Of Once and Future Kings". Shortly thereafter the band's independent release helped attract the attention of Nightmare Records. After signing with the label the Pennsylvania act released "Season of Reign". Since then there have been a few more albums and the band has also appeared on various tribute releases including "Rebellion - a tribute to Queensryche" (again with the Queensryche eh?) and "Evil Lives - a tribute to Black Sabbath". Also of note was the untimely passing of guitarist/founding member Michael Chiccitt in 2008. All of that brings us to album number four (or five if you look at Templar and Order Of Nine as being one and the same band), the interestingly named “Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror”. This is one of those rare albums where you could describe the music within as "real heavy metal" while still mentioning the modern metal appeal it has. An album like this is more than just a Queensryche clone. Templar was more straight-ahead progressive metal as compared to this. In addition to other progressive acts (Fates Warning, Dream Theater and Symphony X) there is some Helstar, Seven Witches, Metal Church, Sanctuary/Nevermore, Iced Earth, Jag Panzer, Destiny's End and Icarus Witch (which is also kind of interesting as Order Of Nine includes ex-Icarus Witch guitarist Steve Pollick in there ranks) in their sound. Throw in a bit of thrash (maybe Heathen is what I hear?) and there you have it. Everyone of those bands mentioned has helped shape what could (loosely) be called progressive power metal/dark thrash. Sure, that sounds like more than a mouthful, but all you need to know is that this is heavy, technical and somewhat dark power metal than has all the best parts of the American scene and European scene without any of the crap associated with either.

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