Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Metal Blade

Falconer have been trotting down the folk metal road for some years, but they opted to go a slightly different path for their latest release. The bulk of Armod leans much further towards a folk sound and the metal parts serve more to fill in some gaps. Also the lyrics are sung entirely in Swedish this time around. The band sounds comfortable with this sound, but fans may not adjust quite so easily. I found the change different of course, but warmed to it after a while. Folk metal isn't always my thing, but Falconer have been one of the bands playing that style that I have always liked. The approach this time around may take some getting used and it did for me. Still there's always been a sincerity in Falconer's music that leads me to know that they love doing this style. This album is no exception and in fact it's extremely tight despite the mixture of styles. Falconer always excel at showing emotions with their songs and that easily comes across in tracks like So be forewarned that the folk passages are more prominent this time. Falconer not only make it work they make it sound good. I can't say I would listen to this every day, but a strong album none the less.

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Unisound Records

Sleepy Hollow was one of those bands who released classic 80's inspired metal, got great reviews, had a huge cult following and then for whatever reason just disappeared. Featuring the one and only Bob Mitchell (Alchemy X, Attacker, Vyndykator) on vocals this New Jersey band formed in 1989 and played metal inspired by Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and the NWOBHM movement. With Steve Stegg on guitar the band recorded a demo shortly after forming (later it would be released as A Legend Retold) before recording their self-titled album in 1991. Released on Azra the album quickly became a cult favorite among the metal community. Sadly though the original line-up broke up after the release. While Bob Mitchell attempted to carry on Sleepy Hollow (at times featuring Attacker guitarists Pat Marinelli and Jim Mooney as well as Symphony X's Mike Lepond) by 1993 the band were done for good. Unisound Records released this album in 2002. Collecting both albums it allowed old and new fans a chance to experience a piece of this legendary band. With crunchy guitars, pounding drums and Bob Mitchell's trademark voice this is easily one of the better examples of prime American heavy/power metal. While the band flirted with speed metal they really were more about laying down heavy and flashy metal not unlike Mitchell's work in Attacker. The band may have faded into obscurity if not for the fans that embraced them and their upfront and straight shooting style. In late 2010 the band announced that they had reformed. With an album due out shortly I just now had the chance to listen to one of their new tracks, the song "Midnight". First thing that struck me is that Bob Mitchell and Steve Stegg sound just as good together now as they did all those years ago. The metal is still crunchy with enough force behind it to make one drool with anticipation for the new disc! Hopefully the new album will secure Sleepy Hollows true place among metals greats. They deserve that. The band played with a lot of heart and gave their fans what they wanted: no frills metal that stood the test of time. With so many of these older bands reforming now it would be easy to be cynical and assume for some it is all about the money. You can tell when you hear the music for those types of bands in that it lacks true passion. Not so with Sleepy Hollow as "Midnight" is a well crafted number offering hope that time has been good to the band. The skill is there as well as the drive giving us a chance to see Sleepy Hollow finally get the due they deserved. If the rest of the album is as good as "Midnight" then Sleepy Hollow will have a winner on their hands. I truly hope so.

Barn Burner-Bangers II: Scum of the Earth

Metal Blade Records

Montreal, Quebec, Canada natives Barn Burner are an odd entity. Sounding like the unholy union of Metallica, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath and any/all crossover band of your choosing (C.O.C., D.R.I. or S.O.D. would be good calls) Barn Burner create such heavy end and wicked fuzz/metal/thrash its amazing their speakers don't melt! It's weird how a band who sound so modern in their metal approach can also sound as if they have been pulled right out of the seventies. Having only heard Barn Burner's debut in passing I must say that Bangers II: Scum of the Earth oozes with enough doom to appeal to sludge fans who sit outside the lines while still pulling in those Gwar/Valient Thor loving freaks. I don't recall their first disc being colored so much outside the lines of traditional metal as this one. Here you have a wall of sound built to destroy everything it lays it evil eyes one. Honestly I can say without hesitation that Barn Burner march to the beat of their own drummer. The march might be straight to hell from the sound of it. Worthwhile indeed Barn Burner might turn some heads with this one!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In solitude-The world. The flesh. The devil


Metal Blade

Sweden's In solitude have been knocking around for almost a decade now. The cranked out a few demos and a debut full length a few years ago. Now we get treated to their follow up. In recent years we have certainly seen so many bands that are trying to resurrect a sound from the early-mid 80's. That's fine by me since that's a sound I first got into back in my early days of discovering metal. However copying an old style isn't enough. You have to add something of your ideas into the sound as well. These guys look like they climbed right out of 1983 and they sound like it too only with better production values of course. If Mercyful Fate had been slightly more upbeat and had a touch of Diamond Head thrown in then they would sound like In solitude. So the influences are obvious, but this band puts their own stamp onto their music as well. The sounds range mind spinning riffs to absolutely haunting. Certainly one of the better old style metal albums that I have heard in recent months. Fans of classic metal should find, plenty here to enjoy.

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Shining Steel-Heavy Rockers


I like it when an album's title describes what's waiting for you inside. On Shining Steel's 2010 demo "Heavy Metal Shock" I was treated to shockingly good 80s style French heavy metal. And now on their latest album "Heavy Rockers" I'm greeted by some true metal that flat out rocks! Formed in 2009 Shining Steel are the latest in a long line of killer French heavy metal bands. Picking up where the likes of Blaspheme, Warning and Sortilege left off Shining Steel are a good sign that the French heavy metal scene is indeed growing again. Like many hometown bands before them Shining Steel choose to sing in their native language. This will limit their appeal to many although the language of heavy metal is universal to people like me. Loud and proud is the way to go no matter what part of the world your from! "Respirer" might be sung in French but that doesn't stop it coming through as a hard edged/ traditional rock number. "Liberte" proved to be my favorite track. The band is able to mix melody with the metal without losing any spark. Never mind the fact that even in French the chorus is addictive! ADX, High Power and Satan Jokers all might stake a claim to the sound on this album but Shining Steel sound fresh and modern. I've tried without any luck to knock the cobwebs out some and pin-point American or European bands that sound like Shining Steel. You'll just have to take a leap of fate and understand that Shining Steel stand for true metal. With this review I must mention that within the next week or so I hope to start up a new segment called French Metal Friday. For such a rich history of heavy metal bands France has been overlooked. I hope to correct that and shine some light on the history of metal in France with articles and reviews. Beyond maybe the band Trust most people don't realize how many great bands there were/are in France. Shining Steel might be the latest but they won't be the last. Their debut full length is available on CD as well as LP. I picked it up on both and have no regrets! A simply stunning and refreshing album that showcases Shining Steel's ability to craft true heavy metal.


The Maple Forum

BLACKWOLFGOAT is the solo drone/ambient project from ex-HACKMAN/MILLIGRAM guitarist Darryl Shepard. "Dragonwizardsleeve" was the debut album released last year if I'm not mistaken. "DRONOLITH" follows closely in the footsteps of BLACKWOLFGOAT's first album. Limited to just 100 hand-numbered gatefold digi-sleeve copies if you want a copy I'd suggest jumping on it a.s.s.p. With a 46-minute run time you will discover how quickly this album comes and goes. Shepard continues to improve upon his product. Progressive is the name of the game as his music creates a shifting landscape of fuzzed out guitars/ambient noise. His creative use of atmosphere is most striking of all. The album creates the impression that this was an act of improvised music. Its as if Shepard just sat down and let his mind carry his music wherever it would go. Consider this album to be the art of experimentation at it's highest peak. Simply gorgeous!

Witch Mountain-South of Salem

Self -produced

Of course you can't always judge a book or an album by it's cover, but I was interested in this album after just seeing the cover. This is the sophomore album from Portland's Witch Mountain, but it's been ten years since their debut. The band formed back in 1997, but have been on and off again as with activity over the years. I was in love with this album about two minutes into the opener "Wing of the lord". This album is for fans of Sleep, Electric Wizard, Acid King, YOB as well as Hendrix and Black Sabbath. Prepare for plodding doom with some thick barely moving riffs and a thundering rhythm sections. When Ula Plotkin's mesmerizing vocals kick in I was completely riveted. Her style is clean and very much influenced by an early 70's metal approach. At first I thought was very different from what I am used to with this type of music. It is, but after a play or two I found that it not only works, but that it actually sounds quite spectacular.
Music-wise many of the songs drone on with simple yet haunting patterns. They not only use repetition, but rather they manipulate it and pull you into their swirling path of down-tuned destruction. The epic Hare's Stare might be the album's strongest track due to the heavy grooves that are so easy to get into. This isn't a truly original album, but it quickly pulled me in and I look forward to listening to repeatedly over he next few months at least.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Night Ranger-Somewhere in California

Frontiers Records

"Sister Christian" came out in 1984. Let that sink in for a second. I realized this while doing the normal leg work involved with album reviews. Who knows how many drunks have sang this song since it first hit the radio. If your like me you'll be honest and own up to having song along when this came on the radio. This is especially true if you've already had a few too many and some wanker puts this on the jukebox in the bar. Who knew that Night Ranger were still cruising along after all these years? So, the promo came with this juicy plug "Night Ranger truly epitomizes the sound of the 80’s while at the same time transcending it. Since their reunion in 1996, they have brought their guitar-crunching, melodic brand of Hard Rock into the 21st century with unparalleled talent, energy and creativity." With that I hit play and "Growin' Up In California" came tumbling in. One tends to forget that in the eighties along with those crunching guitars bands tended to employ the use of layers of synthesizers. Jack Blades (bass guitar, lead & backing vocals) has wrote songs for some pretty big names. His credits include Aerosmith, Cher, Alice Cooper and Ozzy so you know he can write. It begs the question of why use cheesy synthesizers? Night Ranger I will argue were at their best when they waved the hard rock flag for everyone to see. Sure they have always used keyboards to make a point but synthesizers should have gone on permanent vacation in the eighties. "Lay It On Me" offers hope though. Solid hard rock it isn't going to erase the fact that Night Ranger are still Night Ranger but at least it has a backbone. "Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)" is softer edge melodic rock. "Follow Your Heart" though pushes itself to rock out. Reminds me somewhat of Damn Yankees. "Time Of Our Lives" could have very easily been written by Journey or Foreigner. This one would have made the girls swoon back in the day. If this was 1989 or so this would have been a huge summer hit. "No Time To Lose Ya" moves things back into rock territory and had me thinking about Bob Seger. Night Ranger's influence on pop culture can't be ignored. With the band being in the Broadway musical “Rock of Ages” and hit video game series "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero" it is obvious that they have a firm grasp on rock and roll legacy. At this point though who knows if anyone will give them a chance since they are Night Ranger. The band has this reputation as being fluff to those on the outside. From the sounds of it no one outside of Japan has given them a chance since they dropped the hard rock in favor of a more keyboard-driven sound. Somewhere in California does sport some good rock moments like "Rock n' Roll Tonite". It's actually a well balanced album mixing ballads with rockers and is crafted the way bands used to do albums. It honestly feels like a classic rock album you could listen to on LP. That is when bands worked at the true art of LP albums. But with that said chances are only Night Ranger fans will be excited about this. For the record "Coming of Age" will be a bonus track for Amazon (digital only) and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" (AC/DC cover) will be bonus track for ITunes (digital only).

Hair Metal Hell-The WIld Boyz-Unleashed!


Welcome to the debut of hair metal hell where we'll take a hunk of junk and give it the ripping it deserves.

Polaris Records

Andy says-
Unleashed is the perfect title for this turd. In the toilet bowl word of glam (otherwise known as 2nd and 3rd generation glam) Wild Boyz (who of course made their name tougher by changing that "S" to a "Z") were a last gasp of a dying genre. Thank the dear Lord above it died too with albums like this floating around. Let me state my own shame here and now. I had bands like Firehouse and Mr. Big in my tape collection. Blame it on the drugs or the company I kept (big haired girls were a weakness I'm afraid for a moment or two in time) but even I would have hurled at this offering. I'd say the band "borrowed" from bands like Poison, Warrant, Bon Jovi and Pretty Boy Floyd but the better term would be that they "stole" these riffs. Listening to this was a chore. Maybe chore is to kind as it was more like torture. With that here is my judgement:

Rating out of 5.

Out Of Tune Vocals-4

Wanna Be Rockstar Guitars-4

More Hairspray Than Bass-5

One Dimensional Drums-5

Make Me Wanna Puke Ballad-5

Final words-
In other words avoid at all costs! I'm not sure who exactly this would have been targeted too other than said big haired girls and guys who dressed in drag. Awful. Who needs water boarding when you could just play this album over and over again!

Metal Mark says-

Now I like some glam bands, but unfortunately in the late 80's-90's the flood gates opened up and labels were signing every hair farmer without considering things like talent and originality. So fans ended up with a few years of lame guitar solos, poor writing and of course nauseating ballads. For the debut of this column we chose Unleashed! by Wild Boyz. Never heard this album until recently, but fans of the genre mostly spoke highly of it. The Wild Boyz didn't have an original bone in their bodies. As Andy stated all they did was copy other popular bands and mainly it's Warrant and Poison. So if the best you can be is second rate Warrant then you really shouldn't be making music.This is lame, watered down, sugary slop at it's worst. The music has no soul and very little energy.

Out of tune vocals- 3, he wasn't so much out of tune as he was just boring. Lots of lines like "take me honey oh sweet honey" or some true crap like that.
Wanna be rockstar guitars- 5, they didn't overdo the guitars ad much as some other bands, but that's because they don't have the skills to quite do that. However there are some weak squeals, forgettable solos and throwaway rhythms.
More hairspray than bass- 5, definitely because you don't hear the bass. Which if his skill level was equal to his bandmates may not be a bad thing.
One dimensional drum beats-3, he kept time I guess. Still very weak and typical of the style.
Make me wanna puke ballad- 5, the Wild Boyz even made the mistake of "creating" two stomach churning ballads. One just as putrid as the other.

Final words-I guess these guys were that some clueless radio stations would give them a push and that fans with no taste would take to them. Didn't happen and I can see why. There were more annoying bands, but not many that were as generic as this.

5 or less - There might actually be something bigger than their hair on this one.
6-10 - The music may have held up as well as their hairspray.
11-15- Aquanet probably made up at least half of their gear.
16-20 -So bad, it'll tease your hair (and turn your brain to mush).
21-25- This will do more damage to your ears than the band's hairspray
did to the ozone layer.

Andy's score- 22
Metal Mark's score-21


Clash of the album covers

Here you go.

Dark Angel-Darkness descends


Testament-The Legacy


**Which cover do you prefer?

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Friday, May 27, 2011


Hammerfist Records

Back in 2002 Overkill guitarist Dave Linsk let the vicious beast known as SPEED\KILL/HATE out of it's cage and things got crazy. Pulling in some familiar faces (Derek Tailer and Tim Mallare of Overkill) he went out and recruited vocalist Mario Frasca and the result was 2005's Acts of Insanity. Things were never quite the same again as the band was like Overkill with rabies. The style was fast and furious New York style hardcore street metal/thrash. Truth be told even with a new cast of characters surrounding him the song remains the same. Bringing in Bob Barnak on vocals, Dave Bizzigotti (Ripping Corpse) on bass and Tony Ochoa (Sindrome, Jungle Rot) on drums has only made the sound angrier. Speed Kill Hate's style is still go for the throat thrash. Similar in nature to a charging rhino Dave Linsk brings his guitar to the forefront. His licks slash everything in sight. Album opener "No Remorse" offers us the first glimpse that this band is for real. From there things just pick up speed. Sure this still tends to sound like Dave's regular band on a hardcore binge. But I picked up bits of Exodus, early Metallica and Exhorder. Intense is the word on OUT FOR BLOOD. By the album's closing number "The Cleansing" is a stack of bodies that have been left bloody and bruised from this 10 song onslaught. Pure face ripping thrash.

What's coming up?

Over the next week we hope to have out reviews of albums from Orange Goblin, Falconer, Shining Steel, Voivod, Night Ranger, BlackWolfGoat, Barn Burner, Job For A Cowboy and Speed/Kill/Hate. Plus we will have Forgotten Gems, NWOBHM Wednesday, Hair Metal Hair and more!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

S. A. Adams - Unearthed

FnA Records

This one is a little past it's sale by date (in other words this review is a little late in coming) so if that offends you move along. Fact is I got it along with the excellent Eight Lives Gone ( Priscilla http://metalmark.blogspot.com/search?q=priscilla ) with a request that I do a write up of it if possible. Why not I figured? With S.A. Adams (The Fury) on vocals/bass/guitars and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Yellow Matter Custard, Hammer of The Gods, Transatlantic, John Petrucci, Inner Sanctum, OSI, John Arch, Liquid Tension Experiment, Liquid Trio Experiment, Neal Morse, Rising Power, Avenged Sevenfold, Cygnus and the Sea Monsters) on drums the album Unearthed began back in the summer of 1985. Long Beach, NY guitar hero S.A. Adams decided to make a life change after attending a Motorhead/Wendy O/S.O.D concert. He left behind a band that played Judas Priest/Iron Maiden style metal and decided instead to form a part punk/part metal act. Drawing from punk bands like GBH & The Stooges the band would round out their sound with harder edge groups like Motorhead, Exciter, Raven, early Megadeth, Venom and Tank. Along for the ride was a young teenage drummer by the name of Mike Portnoy. The project was financed by vocalist/lyricist Bob Muldowney of Kick-Ass Monthly magazine (the mysterious fan who got Metallica's demo into the hands John Zazula of Megaforce Records). The 9 song "DeSade was a Feminist" album generated a huge underground buzz and the story goes that Combat Record's "Bootcamp" series offered the pair a 7 year / 7 album deal. Upon hearing from Muldowney about the deal Adams contacted Portnoy and between December 28, 1985 and January 11, 1986 at Mike Portnoy's Long Beach apartment the pair banged out the tracks that would come to be known later on as these "Unearthed" songs. Upon reading the contract "details" (remember young bands out there the devil is always in the details) Mike Portnoy figured out that Combat would own them for life. Knowing that it was doubtful that Combat would allow him to play (and record with) a band known then known as Majesty he bailed out. As a result Mike would play on Majesty's legendary 1986 demo and the rest is history. Majesty turned into Dream Theatre of course. And as for Adams? Adams went on to play with The Fury before starting a successful solo career. So, obviously things worked out. Now onto the meat of the matter. Those looking for any of the progressive rock that Portnoy does so well should park themselves at the door. His work here is pure garage metal. While it shows just how good he was even at such a young age this is first and foremost furious punk thrash. "Paste The Glass" starts things off with the sound of Motorhead jamming with S.N.F.U. Adams has the perfect voice for these early sessions. With a bit of a snarl he spits out "Kiss Of Death" a song that borrows from Anthrax and the early punk of the Beastie Boys. "Love Dies" is Twisted Sister doing Black Sabbath while "Too Far Gone" is part Tank/Sodom and part punk rock New York style. "Sex" is what Motorhead would sound like if Sid Vicious had his way. Now there should be no doubt this album would have been a goldmine for Combat once crossover became all the rage as this is the sort of album that could be a soundtrack for a lost generation of kids. "War" would have fit right in with both the metal heads out there and punk/skate kids. The thing is does it sound as fresh today though? It plays like it is straight out of the mid-eighties although "2 Steps" and "High Plains Drifter" could pass for 90's grunge if the lights were turned down real low. "1986" (a track not intended for the original album) outdoes George Thorogood while "Chapter Closed" is just punk thrash n' roll. So, some of it does quite well and is worth more than a few listens while other tracks might be too old school for today's music fans. "You Smell Like..." is a novelty track taking 50's boy groups and giving them the S.O.D./M.O.D. treatment. As a bonus cut it is funny if nothing to stop the presses over. The last two cuts are also bonus cuts/demo numbers. "Degeneration" with it's "D..D..Degeneration" chorus is pure Green Day. "The Stage Door" is sloppy garage/street metal and a good closing number I'll admit. Had this "band" worked out a better contract with Combat back in the day then yeah, this would have been a hit within the metal community (or at least made them a must-hear cult band). As you approach it now though it depends on your mindset. Are you the type that still likes to pull out those old S.O.D., C.O.C., D.R.I., Murphy's Law, Crumbsuckers or Gang Green albums now and then and enjoy them like I do? Or do you scoff at the 80s as being dated? If your the former then you'll enjoy this. If not then it might not be your thing. I'm sure Mike Portnoy fan's would enjoy seeing where he started. His drum work on Unearthed is similar to what he was doing with the band Rising Power (who by the way might be a good point of reference for what these two were shooting for on this material). S.A. Adams fans would of course like this since they were the ones who really pushed for this release in the first place. For me I'd say I'll be checking out this release again from time to time as I did enjoy the crossover/DIY style.


Listenable Records

There must be something about Sweden that it keeps rolling out old school metal acts. Hailing from Gothenburg, Katana (named for a type of Japanese sword often referred to as "samurai sword") released their first EP, Heart Of Tokyo in 2006. Heads Will Roll is their full-length debut. Said to be influenced by British and German bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Accept the band are another act looking to bring back the sound and spirit of "true" metal. As the one person here at Heavy Metal Time Machine that is heavily into 80's metal (as well as NWOBHM) Mark thought this one would be right up my alley. Taking one look at the band and I knew right away this was going to be fun. With a female bass player who looks like that how could you go wrong? Between the leather and spikes just look at those clothes!

Decked out in clothes that look like they were torn straight from the 80s (even if that jacket reminded me of Kevin DuBrow) Katana offer up a throw back album sure to please those who liked their metal loud and proud! Even the name seems to be a knowing nod towards NWOBHM acts Samurai and Tokyo Blade. If it wasn't obvious at first take with their name that these four guys (and one girl) were into life lived in the far east the songs like "Heart of Tokyo" and "Asia in Sight" should clear up any doubt. I'm getting ahead of myself though as opener "Livin' Without Fear" is pure Iron Maiden worship at it's finest. "Blade of Katana" (another wink towards their love of Japan) offers up a can of 80s metal madness that reminds one of a day and age surely missed. While the Iron Maiden influence is obvious (as well as Judas Priest and Accept on the excellent track "Rebel Ride") I thought I caught a glimpse of Riot and the Scorpions in their sound. "Phoenix on Fire" has such a mesmerising chorus you would think it was a long lost NWOBHM cut dusted off and revamped. "Neverending World" is another track that seems ripped out of time. "Across The Stars" perhaps was the one number that brought to mind U.S. metal while the album's last number "Quest for Hades" is an epic number wrapped up in Iron Maiden imagery. If I had to choose one flaw it would be vocalist Johan Bernspång. Let me be clear Johan is a top notch singer no doubt. He reminds one of Andy Mück (of Stormwitch fame-another clear influence) although not as consistent. There were just a few moments here and there where he sounded like he didn't match up with the music. Maybe it was something lost in production (which is stellar by the way) but once or twice his voice sounded off. Nothing I couldn't live with. I suppose also there is one other downside to bands like this. Katana needs to carve more of their own identity. Drawing from your influences is fine and all if you make the music your own. There are moments on Heads Will Roll when it seem fairly obvious that these songs were just re-worked from their heroes. With time though Katana will knock out more of a well rounded style of their own you can tell. Enforcer has and so can Katana. Either way this is a refreshing blast from the past that true metal fans should check out.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Andy says-

Formed in 1976 Heavy Metal/NWOBHM act Savage is known mostly for the fact that Metallica covered their song "Let It Loose" on one of their early demos. With that said there is actually more to Savage than just that particular song. Along with Venom, Avenger and Raven the band Savage were at the forefront of what would become speed metal and thrash. While their debut album Loose 'n' Lethal (released in 1983 on Ebony) is filled with top notch NWOBHM tracks the fact is that "Let It Loose" was ahead of the times and is one of the all time greatest songs of the movement. While their debut album was a success their follow up album left many scratching their heads. Having moved on to to a bigger record label (in this case Zebra) 1985's Hyperactive failed to catapult the band into stardom and amidst personal and record label problems they called it a day. It wouldn't be until 10 years went past that the core duo of Andy Dawson (guitars) and Chris Bradley (vocals and bass) put aside any differences and resurrected Savage. While the band is still active they haven't released a studio album since 2001's Xtreme Machine. While their new material is by all accounts still rooted in the traditional sounds and styling of NWOBHM it is doubtful they will ever be able to top their debut. Indeed it is a land mark album and an essential part of any NWOBHM collection.

Metal Mark says-

Seven years is a long time to wait before releasing your debut. Still glad they stuck with it. I am listening to Loose n' lethal through headphones as I write. "Let it loose" is a killer song. Kind of like Saxon only stepped up a few notches. I love the guitar sound particularly on songs like "Berlin" and "Dirty Money". The fuzzy layers just adds to the texture of the overall sound. "On the rocks" is another stand-out in my mind as well. Maybe almost a late 70's/very early 80's sound kind of like Saxon meets post Michael Schenker UFO. "The China Run" rocks too with a great galloping riff and a fantastic flow plus the vocal howls are great as well. Savage had a very relaxed feel with their music. Every ounce of music just seems to come out so natural. Even though they formed early I think the fact that the debut didn't come until 1983 hurt them because the field was so very crowded by that point. It was difficult for them to make an impact. The fact that follow-up wasn't along the same lines probably sunk them quickly. I think this band is all too often forgotten even today. That's a shame because they had some real talent and some fantastic songs. So check them out.

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Metal Blade

The first time I heard Sweden's Sister was listening to some very rough versions of some tracks they had on their myspace back around 2007 I think. It was raw, but good. I know they knocked out some demos around that time too. By late 2009 their image had changed as they went from looking like Motley Crue circa 1983 to wearing all black leather and lots of black hair coloring on their mop tops. Also the sound had a punk rock edge to it and quite a bit more energy. Then last year they were signed to Metal Blade and now we get their debut on that label. "Hated" definitely picks up on the same style demonstrated on "Deadboys making noise". In fact it overlaps as a few tracks from the 2009 album show up on the new release as well. Imagine if the Murderdolls/Wednesday 13, Crashdiet and Faster Pussycat were swirled up together and you would understand the starting point for the Sister's sound. Sister sure aren't your fluffy, ballad-loving kind of glam band. Tracks like "Bodyblow", "Spit on me" and "Bullshit and backstabbing" are kick to the gut kind of tracks. It's also obvious that these guys are growing as songwriters because the hooks are sharp and almost every song flows with ease. I almost can't believe that this is the same band I heard over three years ago. Sweden has been a hot bed for glam bands over the last 5-6 years, but many have not made a huge impact on these shores. Here's hoping Metal Blade knows what they have in Sister and that they promote them accordingly. Hard rock fans need to check this one out for sure.

2008 Interview

Deadboys making noise review 2009

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Marduk-Iron Dawn EP

Regain Records

Since I mentioned Marduk in an earlier REV 16:8 review I thought it would be fitting to cover the source of inspiration for not only REV 16:8 but legions of other black metal bands. With just three songs chances are if your not a Marduk fan then this wouldn't be a disc you'd want to check out. While it features Marduk trade mark shrieks and blasts of Hell on Earth black metal destruction it does feel different than his normal work. With a soundtrack drenched in war this seems more like a "for Marduk fans only" type of release. While the opener “Warschau 2: Headhunter Halfmoon” isn't too far removed from his current standard of black metal goodness (maybe using black metal and goodness together in the same sentence isn't the best idea!) the other two tracks seem like throwaway numbers. Not bad mind you, just more like B-Side material or numbers that just didn't make the cut and were tossed on here instead of being left to die a peaceful death. Maybe if these two numbers were touched up and presented in the grander scheme with better music to support them it could work. As is not bad but unless your a die hard collector I wouldn't lose sleep over this one.


AFM Records

Revelation 16:8 reads as follows- "The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, which then was allowed to burn people with fire". Not your typical AFM signing, REV 16:8 (formerly known to the world as Scythe and then Bloodshed) play raw black metal. With vocalist Themgoroth departing before the band's 1st album was even released (at which point former guitarist Talon took over the mic) you still can hear some of the Dark Funeral influence. While the album also features guest vocals by Acerbus of Ondskapt this is Talon's show. Bleak and dreary the cryptic black noise is on display here that at times recalls Marduk and other similar death dealers. Some makings of actual death metal shows up as well as thrash. Overall this is black. While it is nothing new under the (blood red) sun it still shines a light towards the better end of the black death movement. More so for the fact that there are modern touches throughout it will remain more memorable and perhaps relevant in today's metal scene. Maybe not worthy of the "super group" tag I've heard associated with the band but a move towards making REV 16:8 stand the test of time.


HHH Recordings

U.S. power metal has never sounded so good! Keansburg, New Jersey cult band Exxplorer formed in 1982. This was an epic debut album that showcased straight ahead metal that took power metal and provided it with a much needed spark. With high range vocals from Lennie Rizzo the band presented an album that pulled from speed and thrash while keeping an eye planted on power metal's true edge. On opener "City Streets" Ed Lavolpe and fellow axeman Kevin Kennedy start the show a vintage sound born of classic metal. By 1984 the yard was filled to the brim with dime a dozen metal band. 80's metal is a fine art in and of itself and some got that better than others. Exxplorer fell into that second camp. Including a piano moment with "Prelusion" showed that power metal could be eventful. Anyone could enjoy your band down the lane playing two fisted metal. Having that band step out and make a statement though showed that these guys were on to something good. "Run For Tomorrow" is much more than a true headbanger of a number. Powerful riffs swirl in and out allowing Lennie Rizzo to do his best work. With riffs thick enough to cut with a knife Exxplorer had bottom end Black Sabbath/Motorhead heaviness down pat. With a voice that recalls Paul DiAnno (Iron Maiden) Lennie could take a number like "Objection Overruled" and make it a lost Iron Maiden classic. The title track is a statement that the band meant business. "World War III" showed the band making epic metal their own. Between the mellow guitars and Lennie's softly spoken plead for a better world the song builds to a monster rock. Yes it is a ballad from an age when they were all the rage. While not the best of the bunch it does enough to get by. "Metal Detectors" was born of W.A.S.P and Shout At The Devil ear Motley Crue before it picks up speed spelling out 80's metal. While set in a time when the world was more about NWOBHM and glam was picking up speed Exxplorer stuck to their guns and pulled out true metal. A one of a kind gem Symphonies of Steel stands the test of time. It has been re-released and re-issued a handful of times with different album art and bonus cuts. With the band working on a new album (due sometime this summer if things work out) the time has come to see where it all began.

Pharaoh-Ten years

Cruz Del Sur

Pharaoh fans waiting for the full length follow-up to 2008's "Be gone" will have to wait a little longer although they are working on the next full length and it is set to be released later this year. For now we get a six song EP including two unreleased tracks from the "Be Gone" session, two tracks that were previously released as bonus tracks and two cover songs. Still fans will appreciate what is offered up this time around. Title track "Ten Years" is a pounding track with some real force behind it. A bit more bite to it than their usual material.Next up is "When we fly" which is smooth, instantly likable and more typical of Pharaoh.
The cover of New Model Army's "White light" is decent, but mellow. "Reflection and the inevitable" has a great main riff and surges forward. Although it is a bit more repetitive than it needed to be. "Nothing I can say" is clunky at first and it did work out, but definitely took time to warm up. Covering Slayer's "Tormentor" was an interesting and inspired choice plus a good way to wrap up the album. This album is perhaps more for die-hard fans, but it will serve the purpose of filling the gap until the new full length album arrives.

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Lake Of Tears-Illwill

AFM Records

It has been 19 years since Lake Of Tears first set foot upon the Earth. Formed out of the ashes of a death metal band by Daniel Brennare, Jonas Eriksson and Michael Larsson ( after which point they hooked up with Johan Oudhuis ) Lake Of Tears has been an on-again, off-again project. The band has also morphed in style and sound over the course of their career pulling in various different genres to fit their needs. On Illwill while the band still maintains some of the experimental nature that made them so interesting and refreshing the bottom line is heaviness. With a raw metal sound Illwill is Lake Of Tears as both a goth metal entity as well as upfront thrash onslaught. The title track recalls Slayer at times while "U.N.S.A.N.E." grasps at old school hard rock/metal. "House Of The Setting" is mid-period Lake Of Tears (meaning a Pink Floyd vibe). On "Behind The Green Door" one can sense a slight nod of appreciation towards early goth rockers that have come before. "Parasites" is an odd mash-up of Motorhead and classic metal showing an understanding that bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden rule the world. If I wasn't dreaming I even thought I caught a touch of early Metallica. Something is up on these ten tracks. It is as if Lake Of Tears want to pull in legions of new listeners while retaining their fan base. It just might work. Check out "Out Of Control" for example. This metal rocker wouldn't be out of place on a Motorhead disc. "Taste Of Hell" is Judas Priest, Megadeth and Slayer paying homage to a Black Sabbath influenced Metallica. Once "Midnight Madness" comes knocking you'll be eager to open the door to find out what is left to finish you off. This might just be one of the strongest albums of Lake Of Tears long career.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Debauchery-Germany's Next Death Metal


The story of Thomas Gurrath losing his job as a teacher in May of 2010 because his performances were "a form of mental instability that made him unsafe to be around children" is nothing short of funny. Being told it was his job as a teacher or his music Gurrath chose the latter and quite. Maybe it had something to do with the bands love of all things sex and violence? Formed in 2000 this is already the seventh album from Germany death rock outfit Debauchery. Like a teenage metal maniacs wet dreams Debauchery creator Thomas Gurrath mixes brutal death rock with gory artwork, blood covered women and (in a live setting) porno video clips. Too bad that Tipper and the PMRC isn't around today as they would have a field day with this act! More or less a solo outfit these days (with Gurrath hiring studio musicians to fill on record and in a live setting) Germany's Next Death Metal gives us what it promises "blood and tits". Cue songs like "Zombie Blitzkrieg", "Animal Holocaust" and "School Shooter". Mixing hard rock roots (born of AC/DC and Motorhead) with death metal isn't a new game. One would like to think there are bands that can make it work better than others and Debauchery falls into the latter. Throwing in a death drenched cover of "School's Out" (Alice Cooper) keeps things interesting. Worth a check if sex, violence and death n' roll are your thing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fill in the blanks

Remember fil in the blank tests from school? They could be fine when you knew the answers, but horrible if you didn't. I made some easy ones for you because there is no right or wrong so have a go at them.

1-The best band of the last decade is ____________________________________.

2-If I was stuck on a desert island and could only to three albums made since 2000 then I would pick _______________________________________, __________________________ and ____________________________________.

3-The best album you probably never heard that was released in the last 11 years is

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Crashdiet-Generation Wild

Frontiers Records

Crashdiet (often spelled Crashdïet) was originally formed in Stockholm, Sweden in the year 2000. Born and raised on rock the group drew influences from the likes of Guns N' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, W.A.S.P and Hanoi Rocks. Looking to bring back the "big shows, the rough-edge sleaze anthems and the rawness" that made early heavy metal and glam rock acts so unpredictable and dangerous Crashdiet built up a loyal cult following while releasing several demos. In 2002 the band split up with vocalist Dave Lepard eventually reforming the band. 2003 would see Crashdiet release their first self titled EP which was a limited edition pressing. In 2005 Rest in Sleaze was released making Crashdiet a popular act in their home country. Despite the fact that the band had embarked on a successful Swedish tour and played at Download Festival in the United Kingdom things fell apart for Crashdiet. On January 20, 2006 vocalist Dave Lepard committed suicide at the young age age of 25. As someone who has struggled with depression my whole life I can tell you the worst thing you can do is keep it to yourself. David Lepard hid his depression from family and friends and let it eat him alive. If you or someone you know suffers from depression don't be ashamed to ask for help. While I don't know what was going on in his life that would have caused him to go to such extremes the fact is that often times depression can be caused by chemical imbalances in your brain and with help (as well as medication) you can begin to see the world in a new light. Now, after the death of Lepard the band originally broke up again only to decide to carry on as a tribute to their fallen friend. The Unattractive Revolution came out in 2007 which saw the addition of new vocalist H. Olliver Twisted. Despite a strong showing the album would prove to be the first and last with Twisted as he decided he couldn't fully commit to the band. Now with the new singer Simon Cruz (Foxy,Jailbait) in place we have Generation Wild. Produced by the RamPac and mixed by Tobias Lindell Generation Wild is one of those albums that should appeal to fans of 1980s and early 1990s hard rock/sleaze. While not as good as their debut album the album is still a fine piece of hard rock/glam metal. With not only the above "inspirations" coming through in their music you can hear bits of Alice Cooper, Ratt and Skid Row on Generation Wild. The opener "Armageddon" is one of the best on the disc. A full on metal stomper it makes the case that Simon Cruz is the right man for the job. "So Alive" and "Generation Wild" are both strong hard rock numbers as is the forceful rocker "Rebel". "Save Her" is an odd one as it slows things down into modern rock radio territory. While it might be a marketing move aimed at bringing in new fans it comes off as forced. Following it up with the "Down With The Dust" might not have been the best idea. While it aims to be a garage rock foot stomper it comes off as pop punk gone hard rock. Not pretty at all. "Native Nature" shows of the "18 and Life" side of the band while "Chemical" brings to mind Enuff Z Nuff. Next up is the solid hard rock "Bound To Fall". This great number would have been the way to end the disc off right. Sadly though what follows is the weak "Beautiful Pain". Probably the albums weakest cut it seems like fluff filler and not something to expect from these hard hitting sleaze rockers. The eighties called and they want this song back Crashdiet. It's too much like Poison for it's own good. With these few missteps though Generation Wild still has it's moments and is a good slab of hard edge glam. If your still rocking the teezed up hair you could do a lot worse!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hell-Human Remains

Nuclear Blast Records

Without a shadow of a doubt this has been one of the hardest reviews I've had to write. This would have nothing to do with the quality of this release or the material available to fill in the blanks in regards to the band Hell. If anything it is how do I convey just how good this album is without sounding like I'm over hyping it? Maybe the best way to start is to say there is one thing I would change about this recording (thus making it in reality less than a perfect album) and that is some of the lyrical content. While the music sounds both classic and modern (thanks in no small part to the production of Andy Sneap) the lyrics due tend to sound a shade to 1980s for me. Just the overly satanic content that is almost tongue in cheek. While Kev Bower (guitars,keys,vocals) is a good song writer (and must keep in step with the original music/lyrics of the late great David Halliday whose music is covered here) this "Lord Lucifer" spooky lyrical vibe can make the album sound dated. With that said though the album is still fresh and yes folks....one of the best albums of 2011! Classic NWOBHM/heavy metal is on display here and with that we must dig a little deeper behind the album. Hell were truly a one of a kind band. With a sound that screamed "METAL!" Hell were a sight to see. Originally dressed in character the late David Halliday was a master of the mic. He could capture an audience and toy with their very souls! I've said it before probably way too many times in fact but Hell really should have been huge. The songs were there. The image was there. They had it all and then some. If they would have gotten the right kind of attention this band would be mentioned in the same breath as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. I would put my good name on that. But, right after Hell signed to the Belgian label Mausoleum fate stepped in and dealt them a cruel blow. Two weeks prior to the recording of what would have been their debut album the label collapsed. Kev Bower would quite the band and though he was briefly replaced by Sean Kelly the band split up. Sadly this led to the suicide of Dave Halliday by carbon monoxide poisoning in 1987. All these years later though the band is finally releasing their debut album. While tackling some of these old songs without the one and only David Halliday would seem impossible Kev Bowler's brother David (who is known as David Beckford in his career as a stage and television actor) gives us a dead on take. For those of you who have not heard Dave's original voice I suggest you buy the 2 disc collection which features a full disc of nothing but demos and live material from this amazing prophet of doom. The extra disc has also been touched up by Andy Sneap and sounds great. If I was forced to make another point of reference Warrel Dane would be a close fit for the sounds that come howling out of David Bowlers. His ability to take this older material and make it sound new and explosive is nothing short of magical! With Andy Sneap not only handling production duties but also guitars the band is rounded out by bassist Tony Speakman and drummer Tim Bowler. As I said the old material comes across as both classic and modern as does the new material. The production is crisp and upfront making Human Remains sound epic! Hell sounds like no other. The music is forceful like U.S. power metal while mixing in what made NWOBHM and traditional heavy metal great. My predication is that this will make many top 10 lists at the end of the year and for good reason. If you call yourself a metal fan then you must add this album to your collection! It is available in single and double CD format as well as digital download. For the true collector though Human Remains is available on LP (just a hint for those looking to buy me something for my birthday in July I would love this on vinyl!) and from what I've seen of it man that is the way to go. With both discs comes a nice booklet. Disc one features lyrics to the songs as well as pictures while disc two's booklet covers the bands history, has rare pictures and has Andy Sneap (who was taught guitar by David Halliday) giving us the lowdown on what made Hell such a hidden classic. This album really is "a labor of love" as Kev Bower puts it and far too long in coming. When you look back and see these bands who were plastic having released album after album and then see acts like Hell who fell through the cracks you can't help but fill troubled. Thankfully time has corrected this great injustice and Human Remains is now available the way David would have wanted to have it.

Gypsy Pistolero-Duende-Last of the pistoleros


Without a doubt the most impressive glam band of the last five years in my book is the Gypsy Pistoleros. Their blend of glam, punk and flamenco music had me hooked from the first time I heard them. They have received positive reviews and played some large festivals. The one thing that I think has really held them back is the numerous line-up changes. Lee and Iggie had soldiered on until Iggie left to form a new band Wildside Riot last year. This left vocalist and main songwriter Lee and fortunately he decided to keep marching on taking the sound with him but now going by the singular handle of Gypsy Pistolero. Lee brought in guitarist Mark Westwood and drummer Johnny Peligroso to complete the line-up for what is essentially a solo album. There are ten tracks, but only six new ones. The biggest difference I noticed on this album was that there is less glam and punk rock to their sound. I think this stems from Mark Westwood's playing style being different from Iggie. The sound this time around has more of a classic rock feel. Don't fret because this change works out very well. The other change is that the writing has become even stronger if that's possible. The confidence in what he is doing just shines through in Lee's performance. The blend of flamenco and rock joins together in a smooth flavorable blend as we can hear in "They call me Django, Sangra De La Rosa and Johnny Peligroso. There is a bit more oif a focus on the ballads this time around, but again the attention to detail yields fantastic results. A great album worth checking out.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Interview with Aura


Aura are a very talented progressive hard rock/metal band. I recently reviewed the impressive album "Deliverance" and had the pleasure of interviewing them as well.

MM-Tell us a little about the history of your band.

We’re from Sapri (Sa) and we formed the band in 1996 because we wanted to give vent to our creativity.We have made four demos and we went from the old paper fanzines to the modern webzines with no difficulty and we signed a contract for our first album in 2008.We did a lot of live gigs either in small venues and in more important festivals, in example the l'Agglutination Metal Festival, the I-tim tour and The battle of metal bands.

MM-Tell us about your new album “Deliverance”.

Our new album “Deliverance” came out on April, 15.It’s a concept album where the protagonist talks about a dream wherein he lives the sorrows of the Israeli people during a journey to Palestine.It’s not simply a spatial trip, but mostly an intimate journey to reach his own final redemption.
We tried to be more direct and concretes than in our former record and we gave more space to the melody and to a more mature songwriting.

MM-What are some of your favorite songs off the album and what do you like about them?

We think that Deliverance is beautiful as a whole because the tracks are connected among them musically and also lyrically,so we don’t have a favourite song.

MM-What has been the response from fans and critics to “Deliverance” so far?

Every review has been positive until now,and that’s really unexpected, we are really curious about next ones.

MM-Who did the cover art for “Deliverance”?

The artwork has been done by a Chilean artist, Claudio Bergamin, who worked with us in the past.

MM-What would be your answer to someone who asked “why should I buy your album”?

First of all, to buy all album means to help music and this is a general discourse especially today when bands are no longer promoted. Then, we’d like you to buy our album because it’s delighting and interesting and done by heart; so if you want, you can buy it so that your money will be spent to make new music.

MM-What is the music like where you live?

Easy to ansie:there’s none!

MM-What bands have you shared a stage with?

During past years we played with some famous italian metal bands. Some days ago we played with DGM in Rome, in the past we played with Athena and Fabio Lione was the singer,also with Glacial Fear,or with Le Vibrazione,which are a pop band famous in Italy.

MM-Who would you love to share a stage with?

Whoever from the rock of the seventies.

MM-Do you have many shows lined up for the upcoming months?

We don’t have many because we don’t have enough money to throw into the hands of a profiteer…ahahahaha you see, my dear foreign friend, promoters do gain on the concept of “tour support” and I could give you their names if there was a great echo.

MM-Are there any great unsigned bands in your area that you would like to mention?

There were many in the past but most of them gave up because they didn’t receive the right support from Italian labels, most of them have even been used by labels.

MM-As a band what would you say are your greatest strengths?

Our strenght is honesty. We just want to express ourselves with music,that’s fundamental for a band,every other thing is secondary.

MM-As a band in what areas do you think that you need or would like to improve upon?

If you’re not critic with yourself you can’t grow .We have read what they wrote about our two albums and we’ve seen the differences . Obviously there’s a lot to do but we’d like to improve the sale of the album…ahahahah.

MM-What are some of the best albums that you have heard so far in 2011?

We didn’t have the time to listen to new music because we spent all our time working at the cd. Then again music is not a competition so there aren’t best and worst ones.

MM-Pick the band from each of the following pairs that you prefer and tell why you picked them.

Porcupine Tree or Spock’s Beard
Rush or Yes
Dream Theater or Queensryche

Rush or Yes with no doubt, because they have given a lot more to music than other bands.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band, your music or anything else?

We want to thank you for the space and time you’ve given us and we’d like to invete your readers to visit our page "www.auraprog.it". There are all the links to our social networks’ pages and the link so buy our cd if they’re interested.

Aura on Myspace.

My review of their album Deliverance.


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Clash of the album covers

It is...

Napalm Death-Utopia Banished


Obituary-Back from the dead

***Which cover do you prefer?

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Hatriot-4 Song Demo


For those of you who don't know the name Steve "Zetro" Souza let me fill you in a little. This one time vocalist of Exodus has been around the block a few times. With a resume that includes stints in Legacy, F-Bomb, Testament, Dublin Death Patrol and Tenet (as well as his two stints in Exodus) Steve Souza is a true thrash metal legend. Having spent time recently in an AC/DC tribute band called AC/DZ it looks as if Steve is turning his attention back to his true calling. With a one of a kind voice Souza is now fronting the new thrash project Hatriot. While I'm not so sure how I feel about the name (either it is cooler than cool or lame...can't make up my mind) the band is pure Exodus style thrash and I've been enjoying this demo quite a bit. While Steve has said he is happy for the direction Exodus has gone recently he is not interested in reliving the past. Now, nothing brings a smile to my face like old school thrash and Souza sounds in fine form here. Featuring the songs "The Fear Within","Weapons Of Class Destruction","Globacidal" and "The Mechanics OF Annihilation" this demo features top notch production and is easily in league with the current thrash metal scene. You can check it out for yourself as Hatriot is offering their four song demo as a free download!


Friday, May 20, 2011



This 7" single is the sole recording of New York's Rex Vector. Having seen it floating around the web on various blogs I finally decided to check it out thanks to the encouragement of some friends (who like me live and die for obscure 80's metal). This rare single goes for top dollar whenever a copy pops up for sale and has appeared on numerous bootleg comps. Rather a shame this was it for this three piece band. "Breathe Fire" is more like smoking fire! Pure 80's this track is a barn burner of a number. It's wild and out of control sounding almost like it was recorded live. From it's guitar solos to the drums (which make frequent use of the cymbals) "Breathe Fire" is like a step cousin to Exciter and Motley Crue (circa Too Fast For Love) by way of bands like Steel Vengeance. Meanwhile Side B gave us the number "Sit Tight". Not as good as "Breathe Fire" the song has more of a tradition metal feeling not unlike L.A. metal (without the glam). It makes you wonder just what this band was aiming for? Either way "Breathe Fire" is an 80's must have number. U.S. metal in the early eighties produced so many great bands who never made it. I would be curious to find out more to what made Rex Vector tick. Little information is to be found online about the New York band. I imagine though somewhere these guys are sitting around with their kids telling them all about the glory days when U.S. metal was where it was at.

Iron Maiden-From fear to eternity:The best of 1990-2010



Iron Maiden are no strangers to best of albums that's for sure. This time around we get material from "No prayer for the dying", "Fear of the dark", "Brave new world", "Dance of death", "A matter of life and death" and "The Final Frontier". The songs from the Blaze Bayley are live versions and we get Bruce singing them. This album goes along with the band's current set list as they are featuring more recent material while on tour. The 1980's was without a doubt Maiden's best decade. The
1990's however saw the band losing their grip and their writing began to crumble badly. Fortunately we get some of the better tracks from that time included here such as "Tailgunner" and "Afraid to shoot strangers". Unfortunately they also included "Bring your daughter to the slaughter" which had so many Maiden fans scratching their heads as to why they recorded it. The Blaze Bayley era saw even more problems with the sound and it wasn't all due to Bayley although I don't think he was the right choice for the band. The writing became even more mellow. Although the live versions included here with Bruce on vocals help the songs to sound a bit stronger. By 2000 Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith had returned to the fold for "Brave new world". Some of the better songs from it including the title track and "Blood Brothers" are included here. So is the "Wicker Man", but it's not one of my favorites. "Brave new world" was a huge improvement over their four albums from the previous decade, but still it lacked the spirit from Maiden's prime. However better days were in store and 2003's "Dance of death" finally saw this band hitting their stride again. The songs were a little longer, but the spirit was there and the old sound was being combined with some new ideas and resulting in some brilliant songs. On this collection we get some strong entries form this album including the title track, "Rainmaker", "No more lies" and "Paschendale". Not only did Maiden keep up the quality, but they became even more impressive with 2006's "A matter of life and death" which is easily one of the best albums of this band's long career. Here we are treated to "Different World", "These Colours Don't Run", "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" and "For the Greater good of God". All of these songs are standouts on this album. Fans had to wait four long years before getting another Iron Maiden studio album, but at last "The Final Frontier" came out in 2010. Not quite as impressive as the previous two releases, but impressive none the less. Less than a year old, but "Coming home", "El Dorado" and "When The Wild Wind Blows" represent "The Final Frontier" on this new collection. I doubt we needed another Maiden collection and as I said earlier the 90's were a low point for the band. Still they choose mostly decent selections from those albums and "Brave New World". However it's the tracks from the last three albums that have me thinking it's been too long since I have heard the whole albums and need to pull them out and give them a spin. Also if you have been living under a rock and have not heard any of Iron Maiden's material in the last 21 years then it is a good sampler.

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Bloodbound-Unholy Cross

AFM Records

Many wondered what would become of Bloodbound after lead vocalist Urban Breed left for the second time. I'm quite happy to report that new lead vocalist Patrik Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen, Stormwind) fits right in with the bands new direction. A direction that saw them start out power metal before moving towards more of a traditional heavy metal style on 2009's Tabula Rasa. Formed in 2004 this Swedish band has been through three singers throughout their four full length albums (Urband Breed left, came back and then left again). On Unholy Cross the band sticks close to their Iron Maiden/Judas Priest/Halloween style of metal while mixing in more of an American traditional style. These 11 tracks smoke and will find a way into the hearts of not only fans of European metal but also U.S. power metal. You have to like the fact that the band has a straight forward and accessible metal sound that while flashy isn't over polished. I like where they are going with Unholy Cross and if they can only keep a steady band together they could look at making a run for the big time.

What's coming up?

Over the next week we hope to have out reviews of albums from Bloodbound,Iron Maiden,Debauchery, Orange Goblin, Lake of tears,Kinetick, Rev 16:8, Pharaoh, Hatriot, Hell and Gypsy Pistolero. Plus an interview with Aura and Forgotten Gmes, Clash of the album covers, NWOBHM Wednesday and Hair Metal Hell.

***Have a great week!

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hair Metal Hell and the 2011 M3 Rock festival

Like any genre of music has both good and bad, but I think that hair metal is definitely a style with far more bad acts than good. Back in the 80's/early 90's it was like for every stand out band like Motley Crue or G-n-R you had 6 or 7 awful bands like London, Trixter or Tuff. This past weekend's M3 festival had me thinking more about how many bad hair bands there were and still are. The Rocklahoma festival was a joke a few years ago and I am sure it's nothing great even now though the bands booked have shifted from all hair bands to more of a combination of bad hair bands and bad bands from more recent styles. However now the aging hair bands have picked up what few original members they have left and moved their creaky sideshow east to not far from where I live in Maryland. That's fine if they want to have a festival and if people want to relive their past and hear these bands play their "hits". However it gets a bit sad when fans of this style try to act like these bands still or ever did matter. Don't get me wrong I like some of these bands or did twenty years ago, but it's fluff music. There are some good up and coming hard rock bands around, but so many fans of this style seem to choose to throw their money and time into reliving the past. Granted some bands at this last M3 festival like Tesla and Whitesnake probably put on decent shows while others like Kix had to be relieved to play in Maryland because it's not like anyone outside of this state cares about them anymore if indeed they ever did in the first place.

Anyways this long grouchy, but spot on rant leads to a new feature that Andy and I will start next week. It's Hair Metal Hell and we'll pick a hair metal stinker and give it what it deserves and do a checklist on it to see if it has certain attributes that many albums of this style had. So stop by next week and praise us, chew us out or do whatever you want.


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Interview with Sanktuary


I recently had the pleasure of interviewing classic/thrash metal band Sanktuary.

MM-Tell us a little about the history of your band.
-The beginning of the band dates back to 2003 when there was just two of us, myself on drums and Alan on guitar. We Started jamming in grade ten and, well long story short and a few good soldiers later we ended up as the trio now known as Sanktuary. This was in late 2005. We later were joined by our fourth member Glen Emond who helped us siege forth for a year or so but later departed us, leaving us as the hard pounding trio we once were to continue our quest for the metal gods.

MM-Who are your musical influences?
-Well that's a question that can be answered a few ways. We could give the generic bands, you know Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden that kind of thing, and don't get me wrong all those bands are really good and we do blast them in our band van, but I think our main influences come from more underground Canadian metal and underground metal from all over the world. We play music that we would love to listen to and don't type cast ourselves into any particular genre. If we write a slow heavy song that will shake the earth, we'll roll with it, and if it's a riff rippin double kickin bass lickin tune that will tear a house off of its foundation...… well, you guessed right, we'll roll with that too.

MM-Tell us about your recently released EP.
- Well the new EP "Black Magic Brew" is our second EP. It came out in late 2009 with the help of our always trusty and all around great producer Jim Holland. It was a little rushed on our part so the songs probably could be polished up a bit, but Jim did the rabbit in the hat trick and out came a great sounding EP.

MM-Do you have a favorite song off the album? If so then which one and what do you like about it?
- We enjoy all the songs on our EP. More than others obviously. It's hard to say, I think we each have our own favorite song. For myself it's a tie between "Waking The Dead" and "Beasts Of Lore". Beasts Of Lore is allot more fun to play live though.

MM-Obviously you are into old school metal. What is it that you like 80’s style metal?
- We're into metal that has grove, energy, catchy vocals, catchy riffs, lyrics you can understand and just hard hitting in your face metal. Whether it's from the 80's or from the 21st century. If you get chills up and down your spine and the energy to conquer the universe when you listen to it then your good to go. Why do people like Lady Gaga? Still haven't figured that one out. Then again they probably think the same about us metal heads.

MM-What would you say to someone who said that you are not playing anything new, but just copying a style that has already been done?
-I would say it may not be new but it's fucking good music haha. Everyone is copying something these days. Whether its hip-hop and sampling other peoples music, or metal bands having riffs that sound similar to the past. No matter what kind of metal you play your always going to be compared too other bands past or present.

MM-What do you think about today’s metal scene in general?
-It's making a comeback. We just need to keep chipping away at the block.


MM-What could make today’s metal scene better than it is?
- When you turn on your shit box and see real musicians playing real instruments and playing real music. Not that auto tuned, I can't really sing, I just prance around on stage bullshit haha. The metal scene is making a comeback but still has a long journey ahead of itself. It's all about money and unfortunately metal isn't a heavy weight in the music business. The metal scene is great already, you just need to know where to look, and that's the underground metal scene whether it's Canada, USA, Europe, Asia, Middle East or wherever. Great metal is out there so look out.

MM-What is the music scene like in your area?
- We're new to this area so we haven't played to many shows. But just an hour away is Halifax and there's lots going on there. We play most of our shows there and it has been great. Really great bands and really great fans in the city.

MM-Who have you shared a stage with so far?
- We've shared the stage with so many great and talented bands that it would take up the entire page to list them all. We've played with bands that no one has heard of right up to bands like 3 inches of blood. They've all been great, and I think I speak for all of the bands when I say we're happy to play alongside our fellow warriors on the metal quest.

MM-What bands would you love to share a stage with?
- Oh man what a question. There's so many, again probably take up the entire page to list them all. For starters it would have to be some of the up and coming canadian artists such as, Cauldron, Skull Fist, 3 inches of blood and Striker which we have played with but would love to share the stage with again. Obviously we would love to play with some of the other bigger bands that are making an impact but we need to think realistically for now. Maybe in the future.

MM-What are your plans for the near future? Any touring plans?
-We have split EP coming out soon with two other bands, one from Montreal and the other from Halifax. Still in the works so I won't spill the beans. We also have a canadian tour brewing with a band from Halifax called Black Moor, again still in the works so I won't give to much away. Just have to wait for the tour dates. Sorry folks.

MM-Have you begun writing material for a full length album or another EP?
- We're always writing new material whether it's for a single, album or just another EP. But I'll say that we have a shit load of new material cooking up that will blow your socks off so watch out because a full length is on the horizon.

MM-Pick your favorite from each of the following pairs of bands and tell why you picked them.
-Can we just pick them all? Haha.

Raven or Venom
-I'm going to say Raven over Venom. We listen to more Raven and we've actually been listening to a lot more of there old school shit which is really good.

Annihilator or Exciter
- I'll go with Annihilator over Exciter. Love Annihilator.

Megadeth or Metallica
- I think Metallica over Megadeth. This one is always a tough one but Metallica I think takes the cake (older metallica that is). Just faster and more in your face which is what we're all about

Judas Priest or Motorhead
-Last but definitely not least, Judas Priest over Motorhead. Yes I know, I can already hear the hate mail coming haha. We're just more into the Judas Preist style I think.

P.S. All those bands are fucking great and we listen to them all.

MM-Is there anything else that you would like to say about your band, your music or anything else?
- Listen to metal, check out the underground shit, and look out because Sanktuary is on a blood thirsty rampage and we're coming to tear you a new asshole. BEERS and CHEERS to all you metal heads out there.


Review of Black Magic Brew.


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Something Involving A Monkey- Demo

Self Release

A 3 song demo from a 3 piece band. I'll leave it to Something Involving A Monkey to discuss their demo "Our 3 song demo we did at Closed Door Studios in Willoughby, under the guidance of Jerome Cylin, who was involved in the group ControlAltDelete, with Matt Lucy from 5 Fifths Studio, who also plays in the band Pale Creation, who once played in Baltimore.......". This demo found it's way into my hands at a local show I attended (for The Approach & The Execution who headlined and stole the show but I digress) for a reasonable donation of $5 (hey, I got a sticker when I mentioned that I was a writer for Heavy Metal Time Machine!). At the show I remember thinking that the band (who played a set filled with enough samples to make Ministry proud!) sounded like the Butthole Surfers meet Old Lady Drivers at a rave party. The demo (I'm thankful to say) follows the same sort of mental madness although obviously for legal reasons (thanks corporate music lawyers!) the samples are not there. Otherwise this is some whacked out stuff. Call it "Avant-Metal" if you must all I know for sure is that this three piece band of motley misfits are like The Monkees in that people say they "monkey around" but really they're just trying to make music the only way they know how and that is with cup loads of metal, special brownies and maybe some of that "Kook Aid" all the kids have been talking about. Forget "planking" kids. Why not get down with some cool chimps who may (or may not) have escaped from a medical laboratory!


Whitesnake- Live At Donington 1990

Frontier Records

On August 18th, 1990 Whitesnake headlined at the premier UKfestival, the legendary Monsters Of Rock at Castle Donington, now known as Download. This 2 disc collection captures the band (Steve Vai & Adrian Vandenberg on guitars, bassist Rudy Sarzo, drummer Tommy Aldridge & singer David Coverdale) at thier best in a live setting. While my knowledge of Whitesnake might be limited (I enjoy their hits but never explored their catalog beyond that) I do know one thing and that is that Whitesnake sound good live (or at least on this collection). David Coverdale has aged well and sounds great on hits "Is This Love" and "Here I Go Again" while Steve Vai's "Adagio For Strato" and "Flying Dutchman Boogie" are like manna from heaven! "Crying In The Rain" (featuring Tommy Aldridge Drum Solo) is top notch as well and its cool to see all the band members get a chance to shine. Usually I wouldn't go from all the over the top solos (they can tend to be a bit much) but on this album the guys are all so good and play with such magic that I didn't mind. The band certainly sounded as if they were on fire and this recording does do the concert justice in that you can almost feel like you were there. Whitesnake fans will love this release. Casual fans should check this out too. Hearing "Still Of The Night" as a live powerful rocker will make you think twice about Whitesnake. They had the goods to lay down powerful performances and this collection proves it.

Twisted Sister - Under the Blade Special Edition

Armoury Records

This just might be the holy grail of reissues. This package has the works. On the heels of Armoury Records 25th anniversary edition of Stay Hungry (which in and of itself was amazing) now we get the royal treatment with Under The Blade. Seeing as Armoury Records had been re-releasing Twisted Sister's back catalog you knew if was only a matter of time until this bad boy dropped and sure enough they saved the best for last! Despite the fact that Twisted Sister seem dead set to ignore this release (one which many fans including yours truly believe to be their shinning achievement!) Under The Blade is a landmark album that took far to long to unleash upon the masses! It is hard to imagine that Twisted Sister spent years tolling away in clubs and that it took going to Europe to get the ball rolling. Granted Twisted Sister would have fit right in with the hard and heavy style of rock that was all the rage in the early 80s in Europe. Having just recently played this classic on my record player (vinyl isn't dead boys and girls) I was thankful that this CD release captures the power that was felt on said record. Wearing their influences on their sleeves at the time "What You Don't Know" is pure Alice Cooper. "Bad Boys" is part AC/DC while "Sin After Sin" is Judas Priest. How fitting is it that Motorhead would choose to cover "Shoot 'Em Down" later on when the song owes so much to Lemmy and company! This was a band that grew up on these bands and more (New York Dolls, Kiss, Black Sabbath and the sort) and took what they could from the masters like any great student. They crafted an album that has been a hard rock stable since day one. What Armoury Records has done is take that masterpiece, dusted it off, touched it up and added to it. Including the original Ruff Cut EP is in and of itself one thing (seeing as it is the 1st time it has seen release on CD if I'm not mistaken) but a bonus DVD that has their 1982 Reading Festival? Simply a stroke of pure genius. The tacked on interviews are priceless as well. Hearing some of these stories well....let's just say you need to check it out for yourself! If you thought Dee Snider and the Sisters were crazy before you haven't seen anything yet! Bottom line is this Special Edition CD & DVD is a MUST BUY for Twisted Sister fans! Now I know how Indy must have felt when he saw the Ark for the first time!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Panzerchrist-Regiment Ragnarok



Did you ever start watching a movie or read a book where the beginning is promising, but then it just feels like not enough happens to advance the story or the ideas? I was left left feeling that way on several songs of the latest from Panzerchrist. They play aggressive blackened death metal with lots of gnashing of teeth and growling spitfire vocals. There are plenty of brutal moments and the sound sure is thick. Yet they fail to avoid the trap of having several songs bleed together due to just how similar they are. Some times the songs seem to stop rather than being lead to a proper end. They bring up some interesting tones here and there. Yet all too often I found myself growing tired on this album and hoping for some more variation to break the rat-a-tat-tat rhythms that seem to just be going over and over. Heaviness and pure force can go a ways and it does on this album, but not enough to make it an album I would listen to over and over.

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Andy says-
As you can see for this weeks NWOBHM choice Metal Mark has already done a great job covering the short career of England's Rogue Male:
What more can be said than has been said already by Mark? Being dubbed by Kerrang as the "Next big Thing" does not in fact guarantee success. Rogue Male were a late entry into the NWOBHM movement. Formed in the early eighties by vocalist/guitarist Jim Lyttle (who had been in the Northern Irish punk band Pretty Boy Floyd and The Gems) after he had relocated to London. Exposed to the British metal scene he decided to take his punk rock roots and mix in some metal and thus Rogue Male was born. With a band put together Jim hit the road to bring his "new" sound to the masses (think Motorhead, Tank, Raven, Saxon and Judas Priest all mashed together) and sure enough before too long a record deal was in place. First Visit (released in 1985 on Music For Nations) established the band. Animal Man (also on Music For Nations) was released the following year. Both albums were well received and things looked promising for the band. As is par for the course with far too many NWOBHM acts though label issues would deal a death blow.The band would play their final show in late 1987. Fast forward to 2009 and Lyttle picked up the pieces and carried on. No doubt helped by the positive response to the Metal Mind re-issues Rogue Male released Nail It in 2009 to positive reviews. With retro metal bands all the rage these days Rogue Male just might be able to grab that glory that eluded them the first time around. If you haven't already make sure you check out First Visit. Despite the bands futuristic space theme (which made them look like they shopped at the same store that David Bowie did!) their music is what matters. First Visit is an album that while dated by 1985 is still a worthwhile NWOBHM release.

Metal Mark says-

Poor Rogue Male, every time they have or will ever be mentioned that unfulfilled prediction from Kerrang will always be brought up. I think that Kerrang was looking a new British band to hang their hopes on, but this wasn't the right pack. Now that doesn't mean these guys were not worhtwhile. Despite the prediction and their rather silly look this band were quite decent particularly on their debut. They sound like kind of a Motorhead lite with some early Tank thrown in. So they couldn't be accused of being the most original acts of all time. Yet they handled their rough and ready style of metal quite well as eveidenced in songs like "Crazy motorcycle", "Get off my back" and unemployment. The hooks are solid and I took to most of the tracks on this album right away. I can't quite say the same for the follow-up "Animal Man". Their sophomore album lacks the punch and the good production values of "First visit". It's not bad, but comes across as being rushed and contains ideas that are not quite fleshed out all of the way. I have yet to hear "Nail it" so can't really comment on it. Truthfully this is a band I was surprised to see return just because it had been so long sice they broke up, but credit to Lyttle for giving it another run. They may always be strapped with that label they never lived up to, but that doesn't change the fact that their debut is certainly worth a listen.

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