Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Andy Says-

When Tokyo Blade formed in 1981 (first as Killer, then Genghis Khan before finally settling on Tokyo Blade) the NWOBHM movement had already been in full swing for a few years. Bands like Saxon, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard had already paved the way and as their 1983 self-titled debut album hit the stores this new band was all set to light the world on fire. With a sound that took the best parts of those three giants and added touches of Praying Mantis and Angel Witch here was a band that was simply straight up heavy metal gold. With their strong first album they should have had the world by the balls. And yet they are another classic example of how you can start out having it all and blow it big time. Of all the NWOBHM bands to emerge from the late 1970s /early 1980s very few had as much potential and then wasted it. The story of Tokyo Blade has been heard before (poor management, line-up changes, trying to be commercial in nature), but it is never pretty. Theirs' is a confusing story and as such I suggest sites like Wikipedia for more information. What is certain is that they had the look, sound and talent to take them to the top. If the band had played their cards right and built of the strength of their debut album there is no doubt in my mind that we would talk about Tokyo Blade in the same way we talk about Saxon, Iron Maiden and the like. I remain curious about Mark's take on them and if he views them in the same light. That first album is a must hear as it is timeless heavy heavy full of melody and madness. Beyond that the music is hit or miss with certain songs and albums better than others. The band is still active with guitarist Andy Boulton being the one constant member. Although it should be noted that in late 2009 two older members rejoined the ranks in the hope of adding new life to this most interesting band. It probably is too late for the band to suddenly become huge as the band has always been more for those in the know. Perhaps though with time Tokyo Blade will get the proper respect for their 1983 album as it is a landmark in the genre.

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Exxplorer-Vengeance Rides An Angry Horse

Pure Steel

Has it really been 15 years since Exxplorer's last album? "Coldblackugly" came out in 1996 and man has the metal landscape changed since then! We went from grunge to nu metal to metalcore. It's only been recently that we've seen a rise in traditional heavy metal once again. Thank the metal gods that Exxplorer are back together again. My only question would be what took you guys so long? The world needs your brand of traditional US power metal. It has been sorely missed guys! Welcome back Exxplorer. What a triumphal return "Vengeance Rides An Angry Horse" is. It is everything heavy metal should be and then some! For 15 years away Exxplorer sound better than ever. Vocalist Lenny Rizzo has returned to the fold and folks he is in top form. In fact if anything his voice has matured with time and from opener “Gypsy” on he is as forceful as ever. And the rest of the band? Same thing. As good as ever if not better. Lead by guitarist Kevin Kennedy this is on tight unit. "Vengeance Rides An Angry Horse" is a top notch heavy metal album. An actual album of real heavy metal tunes from start to finish. When was the last time you heard that phrase? "Glory Hunter" enters the picture after "Gypsy" and is full force American power metal. Same goes "Chasing The High". "Chasing The High" is one of the better numbers on Exxplorer's comeback album. Some real heavy metal guitar moments roar like a hungry lion on "The Vengeance" and (European Edition bonus track) "Return Of The Cycle". The lead guitar work throughout this album is over the top and "Return Of The Cycle" is Exxplorer at their very best. Speaking of killer lead guitar work check out the tune "S.N.O.E.". Here is another track where the band works their magic crafting power metal that is some of the best of 2011. "Valley Of Doom" is the same sort of highly crafted power metal that has everything it takes to make people finally notice just how killer Exxplorer are. "Hardcore" is another bonus cut (for the American version I believe though don't quote me on that) and is heavy and (no pun intended) hardcore power metal. Up tempo "Spirits Of The Wind" kicks in next followed by album closer "Freight Train To Hell". "Freight Train To Hell" is a little groove laden number that brings to mind old Exxplorer. What a good way to end "Vengeance Rides An Angry Horse". With nods to their past with an eye firmly set on the present Exxplorer has made one of my favorite power metal albums of 2011. I've already listened to this one close to a dozen times through and it just gets better with each listen. The production is just right. Not overly slick or over-produced. No, this is damn near perfect production. Rizzo's voice sounds incredible and the music is crisp and clean without too much gloss. "Vengeance Rides An Angry Horse" has my vote for comeback album of the year. Along with Hell's "Human Remains" and Death Mask's "Sitting In The Dark" this is one of the best "reborn" heavy metal offerings. If you haven't had a chance to listen to any new Exxplorer then try out “Chasing The High". One of the album's best numbers it allows this New Jersey act to shine. Ladies and gentlemen/ boys and girls this is a band on fire once more. Don't fear the fire. Embrace the fire. Exxplore are back and like the heavy handed track "Freight Train To Hell" suggests the fire is calling you and I.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hull-Beyond the lightless sky

The End

I remember being terribly bored by Hull's Sole Lord album back in 2009 and I seemed to be largely alone in that viewpoint. Yet repeated plays let me know that I was correct in my view. The other week the new Hull shows up in my mailbox. I vow to approach the new disc with an open mind and be as fair as possible. The cover and packaging are quite spectacular so it's off to a good start. I slide in the disc and hear their slow, heavy glides. The first couple songs were interesting enough. The rhythm section is a bit low and basic, but the grooves are strong. They manage to be active enough on the first few songs to keep my interest. After a few more songs I was reminded of why I wasn't a big fan of them before. Their music can be very tedious an eventually several songs here fall into that category. There were some decent songs here and there others where I am waiting for them build up a good storm of sounds and instead they get it to a simmer and sit there. Overall it's better than the last disc, but they still the character, soul and spirit to really be memorable in this style. There are some ideas going here and there, but all to frequently they never get fleshed out enough and the band doesn't maintain enough energy to much going. An improvement over the previous release, but still nothing special.

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Heavy Metal Thunderdome

It's been a while since I did one of these so here you go. Remember you are judging by the music in this one.

Dio-The last in line


Judas Priest-Defenders of the faith

***Based on the music which album do you prefer?

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Thrall-Vermin to the Earth


Austrailian black metal act Thrall made a splash in 2010 thanks to their full-length debut album "Away from the Haunts of Men" . Here it is a year later and "Vermin to the Earth" looks likely to make the same sort of impact. While the album's lyrics are a dedication of sorts to man's downfall (cheerful eh?) the music is darker, more sinister and can you say rockin'? Yeah, "Vermin to the Earth" is just the latest example of rock n' roll black metal. Not all of it mind you (as there are still crusty nods to classic black metal) but there is enough zombiefied 60's/70's rock touches to make you wonder what you ever did without this new genre. So, if you do the math black metal+garage rock+evil=Thrall. Good times.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Forgotten Gems: Not Fragile-Who Dares Wins

Metalother/Mean Machine

In preparation for my Labor Day weekend garage sale I've been going through my vinyl in a hope full attempt to thin down my collection. Part of the fun of it all (well, fun might not be the word as I've been frequently distracted by LPs I either forgot I had or didn't know I had) has been revisiting old albums. Dusting off some of these old fashioned favorites (and some albums that I have no idea why I kept) had given me the idea to feature a few here in Forgotten Gems. Now in order for me to have a second chance to relive albums I first need to be drawn to them. I put this one aside more than a few times until finally deciding to see what it offered. In a classic case of "what were you thinking with this bland album art" Who Dares Wins is a hella good heavy metal album. No doubt having taken their moniker from Bachman–Turner Overdrive 's 1974 album of the same name Not Fragile formed in the summer of 1980. After two demos this German speed metal band made their official debut with 1988's "Who Dares Win". Given the state of German heavy metal by the late eighties and the dozen plus number of bands who were doing this before Not Fragile (and maybe even better) one could ask what makes this LP worthy? I'm not entirely sure myself. All I know is that putting this album on had a great effect on my heavy metal loving soul. This my friends is speed/thrash heavy metal played with such love it's bound to melt even the most cynical listener's heart. Formed when the members were still in their teens Not Fragile obviously loved the genre. They listened to the greats and tried to capture that sound. Somewhere in between all the grooves on this piece of vinyl is intense heavy metal waiting to get out. Too bad it's hidden behind such an awful album cover. While Not Fragile have soldiered on and only improved upon their sound there is something to be said for their humble start. This album is hungry, raw and sloppy at times. It's also full of a simple rage that cuts to the core of what heavy metal is all about. Hopefully I'll come across other such albums hidden among all the excess Ratt, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Kiss and Guns N' Roses' LPs I have. This one was such a pleasant find!

Clash of the album covers

It is...

Great White-Rising


Alex Masi-Attack of the neon shark

**Which cover do you prefer?

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wolves in the throne room-Celestial Lineage

Southern Lord

Celestial Lineage is the fourth full length from this band and the third and final album of their trilogy that began with sophomore album. Many bands attempt to create an atmosphere and some succeed and some fail. However for Wolves in the throne room it never feels like as much the atmosphere just flows out of the sounds they create. Putting on one of their albums is like opening a masterfully written book where these other worlds just come to life as soon as the author/creator begins their tale. Like with other WITTR albums you know there are going to be some long songs and you know you will many different sounds worked into the mix. This album is no exception as we get both of those.They handle smooth, lengthy passages with the same enthusiasm as they do the low down, aggressvie, growling moments. The styles support the bands overall sound very well. This is not an album that will please everyone and of course it's not an album you can race through. It's one that requires time and patience to some extent, but it is definitely an album with plenty to offer.

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Abused Romance-Shine

Freeway Records

Freeway Records (which is a division of Freeway Entertainment) is a relatively young label. Formed in 2009 by Russ Regan (former president of Motown Records, 20th Century Records) and general partner Kent Jacobs (Police, Kiss, Prince, REM) one of their first acts to be signed was Los Angeles based melodic rock band Abused Romance. After discovering the band in July of 2009 Regan and Jacobs helped Abused Romance secure a management deal with Velocity Entertainment, Inc. and a distribution deal with Bungalo/Universal Music Group Distribution. What makes this latest Los Angeles find so special? Why all the hype? Simply put if they play their cards right Abused Romance look very likely to be the newest act to make Los Angeles a rock music destination. Not since the Sunset Strip music scene has a band come along with this much raw talent and nowhere to go but up. There is no way that Abused Romance's brand of melodic rock should be as addicting as it is and yet I can't put this one down. Abused Romance is made up of Meir Yaniv (Vocals, Guitar), Amit Ofir (Guitar), Roy Chen (Drums) and Aetam Jakob (Bass). Right off the bat on Shine you notice their strong musicianship. This band is killer tight. Next your captivated by Meir Yaniv's vocals. Just listen to the title cut and you'll be drawn in. The albums first single was the excellent "Overcome" but honestly it's not the only song that's appealing. "Hit and Run" is good as well as "Rise" and "Bleeding". "Room 2238" features a smoking hot guitar solo from Amit Ofir that makes me think here is a band that good easily make an impact in the hard rock scene. Musically Abused Romance push themselves into hard rock territory on Shine although they are also equal parts melodic rock, alternative rock/metal and even some nu metal (don't let that put you off as they do it so well). "Shine" was produced by Justin Gray ( Joss Stone, INXS members and many more), mixed by Randy Staub (U2, Metallica, Nickelback, Bon Jovi) and mastered by Ted Jensen (Paramore, Metallica, Green Day). It sounds incredibly professional. It's clear and crisp with just enough "snap" to leave you wanting more. The best part about "Shine" though is the fact that the band is offering it as a free download from their site. There is also a 2 CD set for sale with the second disc being a live affair. With the band set to tour with Alien Ant Farm (odd I know!) there is no telling how far these guys will go. In the meantime be sure to check out "Shine" at the link below.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hëssler-Bad Blood


You would be forgiven if you looked at Hëssler's Bad Blood album cover and thought "great, just what the world needs another Ke$ha". I know that is what I thought when a friend dropped the album into my hands. Vocalist/model Lariyah Daniels is the woman in question on Bad Blood's cover. Thankfully she is not another Ke$sha. Rather, Chicago's Hëssler are a little hard rock, a little heavy metal and a little pop/punk. Playing with more attitude than they can always pull off the band (Lariyah Daniels - lead vocals, Igz Kincaid - all lead/rhythm guitar, all bass and backing vocals, Dano - lead/rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Alex Spadavecchia - bass and backing vocals and Marcus Lee Cox - drums, percussion and backing vocals) sound like they grew up on a steady diet of Lita Ford, Lee Aaron, Doro and Bitch. They also sound like they mean business even if they haven't figured out to express themselves clearly every time. What makes Hëssler appealing is the old school quality of their music. It's nowhere near original honestly. This whole album you've heard a million times before and done better. And yet it does have this charm to it like it's been dropped out of time. If you believe in reincarnation then you could look at Hëssler like they were another 80's metal band reborn for the kids out there. Knowing that they need another option to all the horrible pop diva's killing rock and roll then Hëssler should be looked at as a blessing.

What's coming up?

For the upcoming week we hope to review albums from Abused Romance, Wolves in the throne room, Absu, Hull, Hessler, Falloch and more. Plus Top of the heep, Clash of the album covers and possibly more. Living on the east coast I am expecting to get hammered by hurricane Irene and could lose power, but Andy lives a bit more inland so hopefully we will make it through the storm and get some great posts out this week! Stay safe!

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Extreme Noise Terror-Holocaust in my head


Holacaust in my head is the latest offering from Extreme Noise Terror. This one has 21 tracks of crust/grind/hardcore that range from fairly short blasts to more multi-placed attacks. These guys have been around since the mid 80's and have been largely doing this same style that whole time. In many ways the songs here sound like they could have been done in the late 1980's even down to the production and that's part of the charm of this album. The sound frequently reminds me of a mix of the likes of Discharge, Broken Bones, early Napalm Death, Cryptic Slaughter and others. They like speed and noise, but the raw old school hardcore sounds come into play frequently too. They also avoid the trap of having the songs sound so much alike because they really do mix up the sounds quite well. Certainly a good offering for fans of speed and noise.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

French Metal Friday:Strattson

Heavy metal act Strattson was formed in 1982. Hailing from Paris, France they managed only one full-length album and yet they remain an important part of French metal history. Apart from being one of the earlier hard and heavy acts on the scene (in and off itself that should make them early legends) they were one of the earlier bands to feature a black front man. In an age when heavy metal was still considered a white man's genre here you had a killer band that was racially diverse. While it shouldn't matter either way I do find it interesting that it took a French band to make this happen. Although I guess it shouldn't be much of a surprise since Europe has always been ahead of American when it comes to be more tolerating. Now as far as the band goes after releasing a decent enough 1983 demo they would explode on the scene thanks to the excellent Ouf Metal album in 1985. Other than the 1987 "You Are a Man" single that one album is all we have to go by when it comes to Strattson. Fronted by underrated J.C. Stratt (who also handled lead guitar work) this French band sang in their native language and played a hardened brand of heavy metal that bordered on thrash. While they were somewhat similar in nature to fellow French act Sortilege the big difference was that Strattson relied more of actual rock elements giving them an interesting twist. Granted it might not always come off as 100% original or inventive now but for 1985 Ouf Metal is a high energy affair. The album is filled with hard rock and power metal/speed metal twists and turns. It pushes itself right up to the thrash border dancing dangerously close to edge without ever going over. It's also a little twisted and dark which gives the album a powerful stance. Vocalist J.C. has an incredible vocal range and at times the album goes from sounding like NWOBHM influenced rocking heavy metal to sinister Merciful Fate style hardcore doom (effect wise if not so much style wise). Along with Vulcain, High Power, Sortilege, ADX and H-Bomb High this five piece band made the early eighties French heavy metal scene a powerful force. Thankfully the label Brennus re-released Ouf Metal in 2003 with three additional bonus tracks. The sound is excellent on this re-issue and as I listen to the album now I'm captivated by the brute force that Strattson achieved. This is time-less heavy metal full of quality and intensity. The ability that J.C. has as a front man and lead guitarist is evident from the get go. It's a shame this band had such a limited output, but for those looking for a hidden gem Ouf Metal will certainly please. You can find the album on Amazon and Itunes. As a parting note let me quickly mention the bonus material. Along with the one demo cut you two tracks recorded in 2002. Honestly, the demo cut leaves a bit to be desired. Those two cuts from 2002 are more than a little interesting though. With more of a modern flare it showcases how good this band was even after all those years away. It's really a shame they couldn't have managed a comeback like so many other eighties acts. If they had maybe Strattson wouldn't be so unknown outside of their native country.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Clash of the album covers

Here you go.

Nazareth-Big Dogz


Saxon-Call to arms

***Which cover do you prefer?

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Krampus-Kronos’ Heritage


Italy’s melodic death folk metal band Krampus was formed in 2009. Following a 2010 demo the group released the independent EP Shadows of Our Time in 2011. Now hot on the heals of Shadows of Our Times comes this killer three song EP titled Kronos’ Heritage. After spending the past summer playing various European Festivals Krampus has started to make a name for themselves in the folk metal scene and this three song EP will only help them in their cause. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure yet of hearing Krampus comparisons have been made to Switzerland's Eluveitie. Sure enough Krampus plays the same kind of fast-paced folk/death metal although for my money this young band offers quite a bit more thanks to their in depth lyrics. Their bio sums it up best though as it states: "the band has a powerful message behind the lyrics as they deal with the ever changing state of humanity, nature, and social issues. As clearly seen in the lyrics, the band is adamant about making their fans aware of the current state of the world and bringing to light the need for change and for humanity to take responsibility for itself as the world heads into darker times". Sure enough the lyrics truly do make a difference here as you can actually make out what is being sung. Starting with the title cut Krampus unleash three tracks of epic metal. "Kronos' Heritage" gives way to the stunning track "Aftermath". This one track is worth the price of admission alone. "My Siege" ends things the right way making you yearn to hear more. So far we have only been teased with these short releases so let's hope that Krampus gets picked up and given a proper budget to release a full-length. Melodic folk/death is something to behold when done right and Krampus have all the tools to become a serious force in the scene. Their music is melodic and intriguing while retaining enough edge to give it that extra something that metal fans crave. Be sure to track this one down because Krampus will be huge before you know it and frankly it's always good to be able to say you were in on something great before the masses came along.

Aittala-Haunt your flesh


Aittala is the project of songwriter/musician Eric Aittala. I remember hearing Aittala's previous album "Bed of thorns" last year. It had promise, but there were clunky parts and a very rough production. Eric Aittala obviously spent some time over the last year or so sharpening his writing and his playing because the album shows a definite improvement in both. The style is somewhere between metal and hard rock with both older and newer influences mixed throughout. The is a definite dark mood to many songs, but Aittala seem very comfortable in that realm and the lyrics help to shape that approach as well. Eric isn't a superb vocalist, but he can convey emotion and his voice works well on these songs. The biggest improvement I hear from the last album is just how smoothly the music and vocals handle pace changes. On the previous album this was a real stumbling point on several songs, but this time around everything has been worked out and the songs flow so well. Still hope that Aittala keeps moving forward and growing, but a vast improvement this time around.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Glorior Belli-The Great Southern Darkness Three-Song Sampler

Metal Blade

Glorior Belli are a French black metal outfit that was formed in 2002. The Great Southern Darkness will be their fourth full-length album and from the sounds of this three-song sampler it is going to be quite good. While opener "Secret Ride To Rebellion" is nothing more than common black metal the other two cuts here left me wanting to hear more. "Negative Incarnate" brings in elements of classic heavy metal while the title cut has an almost gothic/alternative rock edge. While both of these cuts have your typical black metal landmarks (shrieking vocals from hell) they bring in these different sounds making them way more than just interesting. The production is clear for the most part although it does have a fuzzed out back end to it that makes it sound as if it was made sometime in the late 70s. This is another example of black metal on the edge and honestly these are the sort of black metal bands I get most excited about listening too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Neurosis-Sovereign EP [2011 reissue]

Neurot Recordings

Given the fact that Neurosis has been offering up reissues of their back catalog it was only a matter of time before they got to this EP. This EP was the first release that Neurosis would issue through their newly founded Neurot Recordings although the vinyl releases were handled by Hydra Head. Sovereign was released after 1999’s Times Of Grace and served as a short pit-stop if you will for the band before they put out 2001’s A Sun That Never Sets. Seeing as Times Of Grace and A Sun That Never Sets were both such well received albums one would think that Sovereign should follow in it's steps. Yes and no. While there are some brilliant ideas present here as a whole Sovereign seems a bit out of focus. Sometimes this can happen with EPs. "Prayer" for me is a shade too grey and it sums up part of the problem I have with Sovereign. While I love how Neurosis has always done the soft/loud/soft/loud bit "Prayer" just drones on a tad too long. "An Offering" has that same problem although "Flood" I've always liked. The title cut and the new bonus track “Misgiven" both offer prime Neurosis for me. While this EP might not be essential it is nonetheless a good example of how Neurosis was always trying to push the bounds of their music. For that reason alone Sovereign remains a unique listen.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Anthrax-Worship Music


It been a long time coming, but finally a new studio Anthrax album is upon us. The last several years saw the band go back and forth with vocalist changes, they did some tours and began recording. Finally they settled upon longtime former vocalist Joey Belladonna to fill the void. No surprise that the new albums sounds like some of their old albums. In fact must of this release sounds like an album that could have been done between State of Euphoria and Persistence of time. So let's break the new album down. "Worship" is a humming intro that's alright, but doesn't add much. "Earth on hell" comes on with a steady pace, but furious drum beats pick it up and help give it a gigantic sound. The overall control has me thinking back to
1990's "Persistence of time" only Joey's voice is slightly deeper now. "The devil you know" rides on a simple but blistering riff. Yet the slow part around 2:40 in and the swirly solo that follows it drag the song down for me. "Fight 'em till you can't" emerges with a stomping beat and the song sounds a lot like late 80's Anthrax except that Joey's vocals are a bit more melodic. They really keep the energy high on this song all the way through. "I'm alive" comes on slow, but quickly builds steam as it grows to become a heavy monster. Although the lack of ideas around 3/4 of the way through has them trying to glide this one out to it's five and half minutes plus run time. "In the end" is a song of halves. The first half slowly comes on and unfortunately lacks the focus to really pull me in right away. Halfway through the song steps up and hears the band crank out some of the strongest parts of the album so far. Again they overstay their welcome just a bit. "The giant" is an appropriate title becomes this big killer comes on with mighty twisted riff and Belladonna is just on top of every word. A powerful song which has the band doing everything right. "Judas Priest" is a thick choppy tune that does a decent job of making an impact while keeping the power level relatively high. If there is filler on this album it's "Crawl". It's an okay track that never quite steps up enough to develop any real identity of it's own. "The constant" goes on a low simmer and despite being a little below the surface it still works out. Joey Belladonna sounds slightly different here, but comfortable and he helps to really sell this song. Without him it's pretty basic, but he definitely elevates it. "Revolution Screams" has Charlie all over his drum kit and the beginning part is good, but not totally different from other songs on the albums. However the last 3 or so minutes hear the band let go and show some force that they only use sparingly before this song. I was hoping for a more full throttle closer, but this will work well enough. So it's not perfect as an album. There's some filler, some similar sounding songs and a few light moments. Perhaps a few old timers might proclaim this album a return to the glory days, but it doesn't quite get to that level although the band tried hard. Still it's easily their best album since The sound of white noise. I really hope that this albums sells well in so that they maintain this line-up and release albums more frequently than they have in recent years.

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Crowned Warrior-Demo Cuts


Kemptville, ON, CA is home to the one man band known as Crowned Warrior. A Christian power metal act it's one and only member is Steve Mark Phillips. While it might not have started out as a solo project various members left and circumstances changed making Crowned Warrior Steve's lone project. Steve was influenced by not only traditional metal icons like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and solo Ozzy but also bands like Led Zeppelin, Rush, Queen, Yes and Deep Purple. It would be Randy Rhodes though who make the biggest impact on Steve as a guitarist. After spending time in various secular rock bands Steve would hit a low point in 1986. Having abused drugs and alcohol Steve was burned out. Close friend and drummer Hany Bishay stepped in and after Steve gave his heart to Christ he became a changed man. Determined to not only make a difference, but also play Christian heavy metal that was both heavy and real Steve formed Crowned Warrior in 2007. While drums were originally handled by Hany these days it is just Steve. Obviously Steve is a real fan of power metal first and foremost as Crowned Warrior delivers positive messages that are wrapped up in well crafted hard and heavy music. His music draws from old school heavy metal (new demo track "Thunderous Dawn" has a killer NWOBHM feel), but still feels somewhat modern. The classic power metal on display in cuts like "Thief In The Night" feels natural. "Fall On The Rock" comes off like it had been pulled out of 1980's and given an updated heavy metal treatment. Considering the fact that Steve handles all of the instruments himself this is some splendid power metal. It has a low-budget charm all it's own. Much like 80's heavy metal bands Crowned Warrior plays with conviction. The production is fairly standard which only adds to the appeal. Christian or not Crowned Warrior deliver the type of heavy metal that a lot of other bands only dream about. This is the type of heavy metal that too many have forgot all about.It has passion and power. With some work and a full band Steve could be onto something. Currently he is working with a management company called Incubator Creative Group. Their purpose is to help new artists like Crowned Warrior establish their music ministry, both artistically and as a business. Let's hope that Crowned Warrior gets that help because Christian heavy metal needs more acts like this. Too many new Christians acts are all about modern metal. With Crowned Warrior traditional heavy and power metal are on full display. Between that and a positive message it's hard to go wrong. You can check out Crowned Warrior for yourself below.


Forgotten Gems-Warhorse-Red Sea

Vertigo/Angel Air

When bassist Nick Simper was out of Deep Purple in 1969 he joined Marsha Hunt's backing band. Meanwhile he was also on the lookout for others to possibly form another band. When Marsha Hunt became pregnant Simper and a couple other members of her backing band decided to form their own band. Rick Wakeman was originally to be part of this group, but he missed so many practices that he was booted out. Soon the line-up was complete with Simper on bass plus former Marsha Hunt band members guitarist Ged Peckand drummer Mac Poole. Also in the line-up were keyboardist Mac Poole formerly of the Rumble and Ashley Holt who had tried out for Deep Purple in 1968. The band cut a demo "Miss Jane" in 1970 and interest from several labels before signing to Vertigo. The band's self-titled debut came out in November of 1970, but was not released in North America. Not long after that Ged Peck left and was replaced by Peter Parks. In 1971 the band was ready to record again, but their label informed them the budget would be tighter on their sophomore release. Yet Warhorse came up with an album that was as good if not a little better than their debut. "Red sea" is a mix progressive rock and early metal. The sounds range from hard punches to lengthy intense jams, but there are smooth grooves throughout. A few songs do parallel what Deep Purple was doing at the same without Simper. It was obvious that Warhorse had quickly became a very tight outfit and their ideas seem to come to them easily as well. I think they sounded more confident than on the debut. However things were not looking up for the group. By 1973 they had fallen out with their label and were released. The band recorded some demos and began shopping them around. During this time drummer Mac Poole left and was replaced by Barney James. Warner Brothers initially showed interest in the demos and some handshakes were exchanged, but no contract came. Eventually Warhorse did get a contract from a sub-label of Tamia Motown, but the day it arrived Barney James and Ashley Holt announced they were leaving. So the band called it a day. Fortunately they left two good albums. Angel Air released a version of "Red Sea" with bonus tracks including a live version of "Ritual" and five demo tracks.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Atriarch-Forever the End

Seventh Rule

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when it came time to listen to this four-track release from Portland deathrockers Atriarch. With Buzz Osborne of The Melvins and Decibel Magazine both offering endorsements this debut album has created quite a buzz lately. Forever the End was tracked in Portland with the help of William Holloway before it was mixed and mastered by Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios in Oakland, California. Wilkinson has worked with acts like Ludicra, Asunder and Saviors and on Forever The End he works his magic once more. Forever The End has a thick layer of doom over which Atriach's epic crust metal feels natural. The music is lo-fi and blackened. All at once it is both dreary and enlightening. This album truly is worth the praise. It's ear candy for the chronically doomed.

Forgotten Gems: Mania-Changing Times

Noise Records

This Mania should not to be confused with the previous Forgotten Gems' Mania (who released the excellent No Lullabies Full-length album in 1986) or the numerous other bands who have taken that name. No, this Mania was formed in 1982 in Hamburg, Germany. A speed/power metal band, Mania released a hand-full of demos before releasing the Message/Deliverance single in 1987. The single would be followed by the excellent 1988 EP Wizard of the Lost Kingdom before Changing Times was released in 1989. Incidentally one of the tracks from Wizard of the Lost Kingdom ("Break Out") would also appear on 1989's "Doomsday News II" sampler album. One would have thought the extra exposure would have helped Mania's brand of speed/power metal catch on. That wasn't the case though and Changing Times would prove to be Mania's swan song. What a shame that is because Changing Times is a great mix of Kai Hansen's era Halloween (Walls Of Jericho-Keeper Of the Seven Keys) and early Metal Church. This is simply one inspired album. Vocalist Chris Klauke (who would go on to front the equally awesome power metal act Abraxas) sounds quite a bit like Michael Knoblich from Scanner on Changing Time while the rest of the band (Thies Bendixen and Frank Nottelmann-guitars, Didy Mackel-bass and Rainer Heubel- drums) could easily form the world's greatest Helloween tribute band. There are no real bad tracks to be found here as Changing Times is simply one of those great heavy metal albums. I don't really know why Mania got lost in the shuffle of German heavy metal acts. Being signed to Noise Records should have allowed them better exposure but as their title suggested those were changing times. The late 80's saw the arrival of grunge and despite the good it did by killing off some awful glam metal bands it also made the speed/power metal genre suffer. Mania just didn't stand a chance. Thankfully Changing Times was re-released with Wizard Of The Lost Kingdom EP tacked on as a bonus. The CD can be found if you have time to search and money to spare. Otherwise it is pretty easy to find online through various blog sites. The copy I have in my collection has their 1987 single tacked on. What I like about that is the fact that you get a wonderful overview of what made Mania tick. Fan's of Halloween, Scanner, Grave Digger and Rage would do well to check into Mania's potent brand of power metal.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Generators-Last of the pariahs

DC Jam

The Generators have been on the forefront of the Southern California punk scene since 1997, and were recently mentioned in USA Today as one of America’s most underrated punk bands. Recorded and produced by award-winning producer Richard Mouser (Weezer, Chris Cornell), Last of the Pariahs is the band’s eighth full-length release and their debut on DC-Jam Records. Frankly this is a bit more melodic/pop oriented than I normally like my punk rock. However the Generators do a fine job of selling their songs by just being so instantly catchy. Tracks like "Angel looking down","Condition Red" and "Prime time from plastic city" were just so easy to enjoy the first time around. Nothing deep here, but just slick and riffs with likable choruses. It's not as raw as edgy as I was hoping for perhaps, but still fun for what it is.

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What's coming up?

This week we hope to have out reviews of albums from Atriarch, Neurosis, The Generators, Wolves in the throne room, Aittala, Anthrax,Crowned Warrior and Falloch.
Plus French Metal Friday, Clash of the album covers,NWOBHM Wednesday, Forgotten Gems and maybe more.

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Agonia Records

Towards The Ultimate makes album number two for Norwegian black death band Svarttjern. Formed in 2003 Svarttjern (which is Norwegian for ''black tarn'') fit in nicely within the current black metal scene. Since the early part of the 90s Norwegian black metal has erupted and Svarttjern are the latest band looking to make a name for themselves with twisted tails of evil. Always the blasphemers, Svarttjern are lead by the capable HansFyrste (of Ragnarok fame). While this isn't anything you've heard a million times before it does captivate you with it's darkness. HansFyrste knows how to draw you in and the band offers a mixture of true black metal and melodic death. It might not win black metal release of the year, but it does have a certain appeal especially if you can't get enough of Norse black metal. Straightforward black metal has a charm all it's own and Towards The Ultimate is true to that spirit. This is more than a worthy follow-up to 2009's Misanthropic Path of Madness and with time Svarttjern just might develop into something truly fierce.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Electric Earth-Touching the void


Sweden's Electric Earth formed ten years ago. They knocked out several albums since thin. The band claims influences from the likes of KISS, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and Led Zeppelin. My first exposure to this band was 2007's "VOL.2-Words unspoken". Their basic sound is that of a stoner band with some fuzzed out 70's type grooves only mixed in with the hooks of 90's grunge. The results are quite appealing.
The music varies between thick doses of sludge and more melodic, but still heavy passages. They handle both approaches with the same amount of precision and enthusiasm which makes all of the songs quite spectacular. They styles may vary, but the level quality stays high throughout. Many of the songs are basic as far as the riffs go, but they know how to the structure the songs for maximum impact. The grooves are probably the common denominator in most of the tracks.This was one of those albums that I took to immediately, one play and it all felt very familiar to me. Definitely worth checking out.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011


At A Loss Recordings

San Francisco's Totimoshi are an odd entity. While their early music was born from the same hell fires that birthed the Melvins and Black Sabbath their music soon evolved into something else. Growing twice as wicked this trio crept about in the shadows of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart's hometown all in an effort to take in that dark side of nature. They breathed in all that they could and as much as their very essence would allow. The end result is a sampling of this and that with an open eyed tuned to free-form weirdness. While Avenger features guest spots from Dale Crover (Melvins), Brent Hinds (Mastodon) and Scott Kelly (Neurosis) don't expect that to make this one any easier to define. At times the bizarre styles recall music from another era (60s-70s counter culture music?) while other moments put out what can only be described as a heavier Mother Love Bone morphing into Saint Vitus. Honestly you just can't pigeonhole a band that won't be defined by traditional genres. That makes Avenger such a frightfully exciting listen and one that I couldn't turn away from once I plugged in.

Chthonic-Takasago Army

Spinefarm Records

Taiwanese metal band Chthonic have been around since 1995. Despite years spent building a following and honing their sound it would take a slot on the 2007 Ozzfest tour for them to gain worldwide acclaim. While the band is often labeled symphonic black metal that term is rather limiting as their sound incorporates influences ranging from traditional Taiwanese music (including the use of the erhu, an oriental violin) to goth rock and power metal. Chthoic are also well known in Asia thanks to their outspoken political views as well as their lyrics which touch upon Taiwanese culture. This ten-song album marks the band's sixth full-length release.Produced by Rickard Bengtsson (Arch Enemy, Nemesis) at Sweet Spot Studios in Halmstad, Sweden the album sounds clean and clear. You can clearly make out the individual instruments and vocalist Freddy Lim (Left Face of Maradou) is up front in a manor that is powerful but never overwhelming. Part of a trilogy, Takasago Army joins the band's Seediq Bale and Mirror Of Retribution albums (released in 2007 and 2009 respectively) to create an album that is both interesting and intense. For comparison sake I'd look to bands like Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Children Of Bodom, but for my money few are as splendid as this Taiwanese act. Takasago Army won't be for everyone obviously. However for those that do choose to explore it's many layers I suspect you'll be as impressed as I was.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Arch / Matheos-Sympathetic Resonance (Sampler)

Metal Blade Records

Sympathetic Resonance is the new album by Fates Warning/OSI guitarist Jim Matheos and former Fates Warning singer John Arch. Joining the pair are Joey Vera (Armored Saint, Anthrax, Fates Warning, Seven Witches) on bass, Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Fates Warning, Sebastian Bach, Riot) on drums, and Frank Aresti (Fates Warning) on additional lead guitar. This 2-song sampler offers the tracks "Midnight Serenade" and "Stained Glass Sky". "Midnight Serenade" reminded me a lot of classic Fates Warning while "Stained Glass Sky" actually had me thinking about Seven Witches at times. That is when it wasn't playing out like Fates Warning on overdrive. Of the two "Stained Glass Sky" is much more majestic and intense. Clocking in at well over 13 minutes the track is both heavy and melodic. This is what technical power metal sounds like when it is played by a powerful progressive rock group. With only 6tracks Sympathetic Resonance should be quite interesting as the whole affair clocks in at just shy of 55 minutes! If these two songs are any indication of what awaits then Sympathetic Resonance will be a hell of an album!

Forgotten Gems:Rox-Violent Breed

Music For Nations

In 1982 Manchester, England's Rox came out of nowhere and made a splash with their semi-hit single “Hot Love in the City”. While most bands at the time were striving to be the next Iron Maiden or Saxon this five piece band opted instead to take the hard rock/glam sounds of Sweet and make it there own. Despite being more influenced by not only Sweet but Starze as well the band still fits in nicely with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. With Wrathchild being the only other real glam metal band at the time to make an impact in Europe Rox should have had a larger following. For whatever reason they failed to catch on despite being picked up by Music For Nations. While their 1983 Krazy Kuts EP borrowed a tad too much from Wrathchild (Wrathchild could have sued Rox it's that obvious!) Violent Breed had a more beefed up sound and edge. The band was coming into their own and label owner Martin Hooker took the group under his wing and even produced this record for them. By today's standards the production is not perfect truthfully. But for the time period it works giving Rox a more menacing approach. If you can look past the obvious Gary Glitter influences you'll find opener "Love You Like A Diamond" is pure rock and roll overdrive. Nature is filled with odd tracks like this and if I didn't know better it almost comes across as a heavy metal Eddie and the Cruisers. "I Wanna Be A Hero" sounds like LA metal. Others before me have pointed out how much it sounds like a certain W.A.S.P. song and you'll get no argument from me. "Dressed To Kill" is less glam and more heavy metal. I've it before and will say it again that nothing is better than early eighties heavy metal and this tune has it in spades. "Say Goodbye To Love" tries a little too hard to be both Tokyo Blade and Wrathchild. "Daylight Robbery" is the better take on it and is an album highlight for me. With the majority of bands trying too hard to capture Saxon's sound it is nice to see that Rox tried their hands at something different. Sure their are times when you hear Saxon come into play on Violent Breed. But, other times you hear other acts like Thin Lizzy, early Overkill, Praying Mantis and Tigertailz. Or maybe it is just me? “Wild and Crazy” sounds a lot like other early 80's heavy metal songs as does the number “Jailbait”. Is that bad though? Rox wore their influences out in public were everyone could see them. They might have just had a brief stay on the scene because they couldn't quite decide if they were heavy metal or glam but this one LP stands out because it is honest in it's approach. It is loud rock and roll more than anything and a fun album to put on when you just want to escape the modern metal world. If only someone would see fit to re-release this one though on CD. It is better than half the stuff that gets re-issued and would appeal to both glam fans and hard rockers.

Interview with Stefan Kaufmann

This past May U.D.O released their 13th full-length album Rev-Raptor. A hard-hitting affair, the album finds Udo Dirkschneider and Stefan Kaufmann playing with a renewed sense of purpose and energy. These former Accept band mates are still in top form and U.D.O. continues to be a driving force in heavy metal. Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing U.D.O guitarist and producer Stefan Kaufmann. I want to thank Stefan for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with Heavy Metal Time Machine. Below the interview I've included a link to my review of Rev-Raptor. Enjoy!

Andy-Stefan, first off thank you for taking the time to do this interview. It is a great honor for me as I've followed your career from your time in Accept to playing with Udo in his solo project. You've had an amazing career. Could you tell us some of the highlights?

Stefan Kaufmann: Well, I guess the first big highlight was supporting Judas Priest in 1981. I was a big fan of this band and all over sudden I'm playing on the same stage like them. The next big thing was playing together with Kiss in the U.S. in 1984. That was the time, when our career really took off! A really big highlight for me personally was the"Eastern" tour in 1998. We played the big venues in Kazakhstan and Russia ... and the people were singing along our songs! Maybe this was the biggest highlight up to now!

Andy-How did you become involved with producing albums?

SK: After Accept split up in 1989, Dieter Dierks - our former producer - suggested, that I should produce U.D.O.'s newest album, Faceless World. I got together with Udo and we talked about it. Udo was very happy about the suggestion and so I started producing my first album. I guess I did a pretty good job and after that I produced a lot of other bands - first in the Dierks Studios and after that in my own one.

Andy-You started off playing drums but were forced to give it up due to health problems correct? Do you prefer playing drums over guitars?

SK: Here's the chronology of my main instruments: in 1963 I started to play the accordion, in 1968 I started to play the guitar (my mother was playing in a mandolin and guitar orchestra, so she showed me the first chords on the guitar) and in 1974 I had to start playing drums, because the local band I wanted to join wasn't looking for a guitar player but for a drummer. So my father bought a second hand drum kit from a colleague of his (it was an old Rogers Londoner V) and two weeks later I had my first gig (the first song I had to play was "Take Five" by the "The Dave Brubeck Quartet" in an unusual quintuple (5/4) time, played with brushes). In the local music scene I was looked at as a drummer, and four years later in 1978 I joined Accept ... as a drummer. So from 1974 until 1994 (with some discontinuances) I played the drums. From 1968 until today I play the guitar. I definitely prefer playing guitar over drums!

Andy-U.D.O. has grown from a simple project started in 1986 to a full fledged band with it's own style and sound. How does it feel to be a part of it?

SK: I'm very proud of it! In the beginning it was just "Udo's solo project" and Accept was the big shadow over it. But already during the first U.D.O. period (1987 -1991) the band developed its own style and stepped out of the shadow. In the second period (1997 - ...) the band became more and more self-confidence and is successful all over the world until today! And I'm very happy to be a part of it!

Andy-Does the band feel a need to compete with the new Accept on some level or are you and Udo beyond that?

SK: I think Udo and I are beyond that! Accept to us is just another heavy metal band. In the past we were part of it, of course, but there are so many bands around and it would be impossible to feel the need to compete with all of them.

Andy-On Rev-Raptor Udo sounds hungry again. The album is up front and very heavy. What was the driving force behind it?

SK: To simply make the best album possible ... as we always do! And I'm profoundly convinced that with Rev-Raptor we did the best album up to now!

Andy-How much of a hand did you have in writing it?

SK: Musically I wrote most of it. Udo and myself did the lyrics. But it's the whole band who performs the album, and that's the most important part! You need good songs, of course, but a bad performance, a bad production or a bad sound can destroy a lot!

Andy-Many bands have grown up listening to Accept and U.D.O. How does it feel to know that you guys have influenced a whole generation of metalheads?

SK: Well, I'm proud of it, of course! I still remember myself sitting in front of the record player and listen to my favourite bands. Trying to figure out the guitar parts or the drum parts. To imagine, that other people did the same with our own music is a big sensation of pride!

Andy-What is your take on the heavy metal scene these days?

SK: I don't know. Is there a new metal scene? When we're playing the big festivals, for example, there are mostly the same bands like in the last twenty years. I haven't heard anything about any really new heavy metal bands. Maybe I'm wrong or deaf, dumb and blind, but to me the metal scene is more or less unchanged since at least two decades.

Andy-Any new bands you personally like?

SK: Well ... I guess, Q9 already answered it. I like bands like Rammstein or Unheilig, but they are not really new!

Andy-What does the future hold for you Stefan? How long would you like to be doing this? Life on the road takes its toll doesn't it?

SK: I will do this as long as I have fun with it ... and the fans want it! I don't want to end up being a caricature of myself! As long as I'm authentic to the fans I will carry on!Life on the road was never my favourite part of being a musician. And still today I try to keep it as short as possible. When we're playing festivals I fly in and out as quick as possible, and on tour I'm flying home on every possible day off. It's not playing live, what I don't like, it's all the time wasted while travelling. And I simply try to waste as little time as possible!

Andy-Favorite Accept album and why?

SK: Objection Overruled. It's the best performance and the best songwriting of all Accept albums.

Andy-Same question with U.D.O. Of the albums you've played on which was your favorite? Other than Rev-Raptor of course!

SK: Now that's hard! My two favourite albums are Faceless World (I didn't play on it) and Rev-Raptor (I'm not allowed to mention). So I guess it's Dominator then, because after the two albums mentioned before it's the one with the best songwriting and the best production (but the worst cover ever)!

Andy-What were some of the bands you grew up listening to? Who influenced your work as a drummer? How about as a guitarist?

SK: I grew up listening to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Sweet, Rainbow, and many more. My work as a drummer was clearly influenced by Mick Tucker, Cozy Powell and Buddy Rich. Unfortunately all three are dead and I never got the opportunity to meet them.As a guitar player I was influenced by Ritchie Blackmore, Andy Scott and Chris Rea. All three are still alive and I would love to meet them!

Andy-Tell me something about yourself that no one knows. Any hidden talents or hobbies?

SK: I guess that after more than thirty years in public there is not much of a secret left. I love animals (especially my six cats), I'm highly interested in everything concerning aviation and aeronautics, I love to cook, I'm doing a lot of photographing and video filming (and editing) and I'm addicted to books. If there are not at least ten unread books on my bookshelf, I'm getting really nervous!

Andy-Last great album you heard of any genre.

SK: Unheilig - Große Freiheit

Andy-Favorite book?

SK: Lionel Davidson - Kolymsky Heights

Andy-Favorite movie?

SK: James Bond - Quantum of Solace

Andy-What words of encouragement would you have for young bands today who are just starting out?

SK: Be authentic and do your own thing. You can (and must) get influenced by other bands or musicians, but don't try to copy them. The original is always better than the copy! So you better become the original!

Andy-Any last words for fans like myself?

SK: In the name of the whole band I would like to thank our fans worldwide for their support all over the years! Without them we wouldn't be there where we are today! And I hope to see a lot of them during our upcoming tour September - December 2011!

Sigh-Scorn Defeat


Japan's Sigh originally releases the seven track album Scorn defeat back in 1993. The band sometimes gets lumped in with the black metal genre, but that's not an exact match for what they because they are so much more than that. Even though this early album is different from their later work it still showed many sparks of their odd brilliance. Sigh were opening boundaries for metal and pushing beyond the limited confines of the style to some extent even back then. Tracks like "Gundali" and "Ready for the final war" hear the band creating their own style and sounding very comfortable with it. This re-issue includes much more than the original album. We are treated to a pile of bonus tracks including covers, demos and songs from split albums. All together this package serves as a decent time capsule for Sigh. The Scorn Defeat songs are my favorite here, but the bonus tracks are solid as well. In a year that has already seen some great re-issues this one still stands out as one of the best so far.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Mr.Death-Descending Through Ashes

Agonia Records

Just as the old saying goes "All that glitters is not gold" not all Swedish death metal can be as good as Entombed. Mr. Death is made up of musicians who have spent time in Treblinka, Tiamat and Expulsion. With that consideration you would expect something....anything interesting from these guys. Hailing from Sweden though isn't enough to get you by though. I'll give them props for their outfits. Bloody business suits I can chuckle at. The music though is quite a snore. Very uninspiring death metal that honestly left me wanting more. There have been enough bands lately toying with this style. Old, dirty death metal I can get behind. Even horror obsessed ones that are a shade one-dimensional have a certain appeal. Mr. Death though really do play as if they are dead. There is no sense of urgency in their music. It just plods along never really doing anything to make itself stand out. With the state of death metal these days seeing an upswing in interesting acts a band like Mr. Death does little to put themselves over. Skip this one and do yourself a favor and just pick up anything by Entombed. You'll be much happier in the long run.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Megaton Leviathon-S/T

Volatile Rock

Hailing from Portland, Oregon this band plays a brand of doom/drone/psychedlic rock. This is a five track EP running around 35 minutes. However the relatively short time frame does little to restrain Megaton Leviathon from achieving a vast sound that makes the album feel much longer and I mean that last part in a good way. The music is frequently downtuned and they vary between slow barely moving drone and twisting more active passages. The moods vary as wellas something like "Time Fades" has a slightly upbeat twist and manages to be relatively vibrant. While "Turlock" manages to have a more sullen undertones despite the steady pace. As far vocals go they chose the under the surface approach you do have to strain a little or adjust the volume on your player to hear it the way you might like to. This band's greatest skill is no doubt their ability to convey emotion with fairly simple chords and beats. That's not a skill that is easily achieved, but they may it look easy. Definitely worth a listen.


Forgotten Gems:Breaker-Get Tough!

Original cover
Re-issue cover

Ohio's Breaker formed back in 1982 naming themselves after an Accept album. This album was originally recorded in 1984, but various problems delayed the release and it didn't come out until 1987. That delay doesn't change the fact that this is a tremendous album. It went out of print quickly and in the following years this album became highly sought after. Even a bootleg version made the rounds until 2000 when the album was re-issued and included a second disc of bonus tracks. Breaker sound is solid classic style metal influenced by the likes of Accept, Judas Priest, Saxon and others. Tracks like "Lie to me", "Razor's Edge" and "Black and white" are just a few of the solid pounding tracks on this album. Actually every song here is good and after just one listen you'd be singing these songs along with the album. They are truly that memorable. They have their hooks down and a wonderful attention to detail. They knew how to hit hard and keep the momentum going on all ten tracks. It's a shame that the album didn't get released in 1984 and that when it was released that they didn't get more notice because they sure deserved it. They achieved a cult statue of sorts on the underground, but these guys sure had the chops to really be a major player in the 80's. Still one has to be glad to hear this album again. For the re-issue the second disc contains some gems and some just okay songs, but if you get this version you can't really argue a whole bonus disc worth of Breaker. Get Tough! is highly recommended.

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It's like Christmas in August! Death metal is always appreciated of course. But what is even better? How about Swedish death metal! This six-song MCD features Per Boder on vocals (Macabre End, God Macabre) leading the charge through music that recalls the early Swedish death metal scene. True to it's promo packaging this one truly does embody the true spirit of the old days and as such is a pleasant surprise for those that love their death metal with a classic edge. Is this a side-project or a full time band? Let's hope for the latter because Mordbrand are onto something good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Clash of the album covers

Here you go.



Ted Nugent-State of shock

***Which cover do you prefer?

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Jorn-Live in black


The concert was recorded live on the 10th of June 2010 in front of more than 25 000 people. "Live in Black" has 17 songs taken from Jorn's solo releases. It contains tracks from his "Worldchanger" era up to his last album "Spirit Black". I hate when you get a live album and it sounds just like the studio versions only with some scattered audience noise in between songs. When I hear albums like that I wonder why they were even released or I just assume they plopped them out to fulfill a contract commitment with their label. Fortunately Jorn and his band brought their A game for this performance and actually it sounds like the audience did as well. A number of the songs here are even heavier than their studio counterparts and the band pushes hard to give a solid performance. Jorn himself gives a great performance both with always consistent vocals plus he feeds off the obviously thrilled crowd and vice versa. His band keeps up the same kinds of energy. We are also treated to a drum solo and two guitar solos. This album reminds me on some of some classic live metal albums of the past where it's okay to just give it all be a bit over the top. Really a fine album that I hope to listen to even mopre in the next few weeks.

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Untimely Demise-City Of Steel

Sonic Unyon Metal

Formed in 2006, Untimely Demise are a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based thrash/death trio. Already comparisons have been made to acts like Megadeth, Arch Enemy, Death, At the Gates and Carcass. In addition to having shared the stage with acts like 3 Inches Of Blood, Into Eternity, Toxic Holocaust, Evile, Gama Bomb and Bonded By Blood these Canadians were able to tab ex-Megadeth/King Diamond guitarist Glen Drover to produce and guest on this seven-track debut album. Originally released in 2010, this self-release has already been well received by the media and fans and as such it was picked up for distribution by Sonic Unyon Metal. This re-release does well to showcase why Untimely Demise are more impressive than your run of the mill retro-thrash worship bands out there though. Not only is this stuff firmly rooted in the heavyweights of thrash (Megadeth,Exodus,Testament), but it also comes with a touch here or there of classic, traditional metal like Iron Maiden and Sanctuary. Toss in a nod to German metal and you have over 30 minutes of professional thrash metal. If this wasn't enough they also managed to recruit Kreator's Miland "Mille" Petrozza to sing on City Of Steel! OK, not really but man does Matt Cuthbertson (Guitar, Vocals) ever sound like him on certain tracks. If you just can't seem to ever get enough speed/thrash/death then Untimely Demise will be just what the doctor ordered.!/UntimelyDemise1

Anthrax-"The Devil You Know" Single

Megaforce Records

Anthrax has obviously taken a page out of Metallica's playbook and decided the best way to build anticipation for their album is to release random singles before the whole affair drops later next month. With Worship Music due in the stores on September 13th Anthrax has momentum on their side thanks in no small part to the Big Four tour appearances and the fan enthusiasm for the return of Joey Belladonna. Well, at least some fans seem happy to have Joey back on board again. While some feel that John Bush gave the band a much needed boost I have always felt that Anthrax lost their appeal once Joey was let go. For me Anthrax always had their own brand of metal and when they were on top (everything up to 1988's State of Euphoria is killer Anthrax in my opinion with 1990's Persistence of Time being the last one I could listen to the whole way through) there was no stopping them. Now though for a band that was formed in 1981 it seemed as if they were showing their age and were washed up. In no way am I saying that Worship Music will be Anthrax's comeback album. With only two songs released so far it is way too early to make that call. But, if "The Devil You Know" is an example of what we have in store then just maybe the band has a little left to prove. So far Worship Music is two for two with "The Devil You Know" reminding me of vintage Anthrax. Honestly for me at least these two new songs are better than anything off of Metallica's last album. I am sure I'll catch hell for that little one, but Anthrax sound inspired. Worship Music just might surprise folks.

Demolition Train-Kill Your Boss


Nothing beats listening to Greek thrash early on a Saturday morning while enjoying your coffee. Not much information came with this demo so I assume it is a self-release from Demolition Train. For point of reference this four track EP is prime early Metallica. Obviously these guys grew up listening to Kill 'Em All and Ride The Lightning because Kill Your Boss sounds like it is more Bay Area retro thrash worship. The only draw back I can see (or rather hear as I listen to this one a second time through) is the fact that these tracks all sound a tad similar. Well, at least the intros to the first three tracks do. That said though there are plenty of riff happy moments and flashy solos throughout to keep things interesting. With time this sounds like another act that should be able to shake off the obviously influences and create thrash that has more of a unique sound. At this point in the game it is going to be hard for new thrash bands to sound one of a kind. It just isn't going to happen with well over 20 years of the best of the bunch already setting the bar pretty high. For bands like Demolition Train it isn't going to be easy to break out. It isn't enough to just love acts like Metallica, Megadeth, Overkill, Exodus and the rest. You've got to find your own path. It can be done and for this Greek band time will tell. Still though this one is at least fun if not overly original. Find out more below.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Top 25 hard rock/metal bands

I love to make lists and I have not done my favorite hard rock/metal band list in a while so here is my current top 25 in order.

1-Iron Maiden
2-Black Sabbath
3-Led Zeppelin
4-Hanoi Rocks
6-Van Halen
7-Judas Priest
8-Deep Purple
12-Acid King
13-Ted Nugent
19-Cirith Ungol
20-Electric Wizard
21-Lizzy Borden
22-Slough Feg
23-Saint Vitus
25-Armored Saint

Feel free to add your own top bands list.

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Ex- Warrant front man Jani Lane (born John Kennedy Oswald, February 1, 1964 – August 11, 2011) was found dead on Thursday in a hotel room in Woodland Hills, California at the young age of 47. While I have been critical in the past when it came to Warrant there is no doubt that their brand of pop metal made an impact. The band crafted hard rock/heavy metal that caught on thanks in no small part to it's catchy nature. Jani Lane was a huge part of their popularity and during his heyday he was a more than capable front man. He left the world way to early and he will be missed by a generation that was brought up on the "Down Boys".

Sinister Realm Interview

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing traditional heavy metal act Sinister Realm. I would like to thank the fine folks at Shadow Kingdom Records for making this possible. If you have not had a chance to read my review of their new album then please see the link at the bottom of this interview.

Andy-Introduce yourself for everyone. Whose who in Sinister Realm?

John Gaffney- My name's John Gaffney, I'm the founder of Sinister Realm, I play bass and write all the music and lyrics. Alex Kristof is our vocalist John Kantner is our guitarist whose been with us since our first CD and Chris Metzger on drums and John Risko on guitar came on board shortly after we recorded our first CD.

Andy-Could you tell us how the band was formed?

John Gaffney-I formed the band in late 2008 with drummer Darin McCloskey. We used to play in a band together called Pale Divine. When I left the band Darin asked me if I wanted to record some of the songs that I had brought down to Pale Divine but never used. As we started working on stuff we realised the stuff was sounding really good and that we should get a proper singer. I found Alex who was singing in a local metal cover band. The three of us recorded a 4 song demo and got a good response on some forums and a few labels showed interest in what we were doing. We added our guitar players and recorded a full length in 2009. Now we have just released our second album "The Crystal Eye".

Andy-That is one sweet ass name. Where did it come from?

John Gaffney-Well...anyone out there in a band knows how hard it is to come up with a band name as it seems every name in the English language has been used already. I really wanted a name that screamed classic 80's metal and had a dark vibe to it. I was reading a magazine that was talking about 80s metal bands and it said that they would often sing about dragons, castles and sinister realm's, I immediately thought it was a cool name and ran to my computer to check to see if anyone else had used it, to my surprise no one had so I claimed it as our own.

Andy-I hear a lot of Dio in your music. Who else was an influence?

John Gaffney-Classic early 80's metal bands like Judas Priest, Ozzy (first 5 albums), Black Sabbath, Savatage and I also like doom metal especially Candlemass.

Chris Metzger-I have been influenced by many bands. I carry over my influences from KISS, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest into Sinister Realm.

Alex Kristof-Dio changed my life! I'm honored that people are hearing the impact Dio's voice has had on me.

John Risko- Personally, my first rock influence was Ace Frehley (KISS Alive!), then Judas Priest...Tipton and Downing & the whole band had a big impact on me.

Andy-What is the metal scene like in Pennsylvania?

John Gaffney-I think it's pretty good actually, especially in our town there are a number of places for original bands to play and there are people who seem to like classic metal here. Of course it's a bit more money in being in a cover band but it's probably like that everywhere.

Chris Metzger-The metal scene is growing back to what it was. More people are starting support metal bands, but not just fans from the 70's and 80's. Fans in their 20's are also starting to come to shows.

John Risko- Alive and well...hell yeah!

Andy-How has the fan response been to the new album guys?

John Gaffney-So far it's been really great! people seem to like it.

Chris Metzger-So far, so good. You can see the progress the band has made and it shows in the second album. And from what I have heard, everyone who has listened to it would agree.

John Risko- Just about every comment I've gotten about it has called it a "step up" from the 1st one, whether it's in terms of the songs/songwriting, the playing and performances or even the "overall" sound of it.

Andy-Tour plans?

John Gaffney- Right now were playing a lot in our area but one of our long term goals is to do some small tours and go over to Europe.

John Risko- I love the road!!! bring it on \m/

Andy-Black Sabbath with Ozzy or Dio?

John Gaffney- Impossible for me to answer as I love them both equally but with Sinister Realm I would say Dio era is more of an influence.

Chris Metzger-Ozzy

Alex Kristof-Dio

John Risko- Depends on my mood, both are excellent eras for the band.

Andy-Judas Priest or Iron Maiden?

John Gaffney- Another impossible question..haha..but if you force me to answer I think I would say Maiden.

Chris Metzger-Priest

John Risko- Judas Priest got to me first so...Priest.

Andy-Any favorite young bands?

John Gaffney- There's a progressive metal band from our area that I really like called Necromance, their guitar player Jeff Teets is amazing.

Chris Metzger-Shinedown

John Risko-Avenged Sevenfold, Black Veil Brides, Buried At Dawn (local), Silhouette Lies (local).

Andy-What would a dream tour be like for Sinister Realm?

John Gaffney- I'd love to tour with Candlemass all over Europe and Scandinavia.

Chris Metzger-Touring with Kiss or Judas Priest

John Risko-Hmmm....big clubs/arenas? Playing with "big" name bands? Personally, just getting OUT THERE playing and bringing the music live to people who appreciate it....meeting new bands and cool people....that's livin' the dream, right there.

Andy-The new album shows growth and quite a bit of maturity. And yet it still sounds like Sinister Realm. How would you describe your sound to those who have never heard the band?

John Gaffney- I always describe us as a traditional metal band in the style of Priest, Maiden, Sabbath, Dio and Ozzy with some doom influences from Candlemass.

Chris Metzger-I think we sound like a melodic Judas Priest. The music has the heaviness and drive, but the vocals have more harmonies and hooks. John Gaffney is an incredible song-writer.

Andy-What does the future hold for Sinister Realm?

John Gaffney- Hopefully getting our music out to as many people as possible, keep growing and keep playing live, hopefully with a trip to Europe in our near future.

Chris Metzger-Things can only get better. We are all professionals and take this band very seriously. The sky is the limit.

Alex Kristof-Hopefully Sinister Realm becoming a house hold name, the future is Sinister Realm.

John Risko-More touring I hope and a 3rd CD.

Andy-Thanks for the time. Any last words? The stage is all yours.

John Gaffney- Thanks for the interview, please buy our CD and look for us on the road..and Long Live Heavy Metal!!

Chris Metzger-Thanks to Alex and John x 3 for bringing into the Sinister Realm world! Metal Forever!!

Alex Kristof-Thank you so much for supporting Sinister Realm. Thank you to our great friends and fans all over the world, we love you.

John Risko- Looking forward to the ShoD XI festival and meeting up with friends we made on our Midwest tour....and hearing some new bands, awesome music, and meeting a shit-ton of cool people!!! The road RULES!!!! \m/

(Review of Sinister Realm's latest album The Crystal Eye)

What's coming up?

This week we hope to have reviews of albums by Untimely Demise, Electric Earth,Mordbrand,Sigh, Mr. Death, Jorn, Wolves in the throne room. Plus interviews with Sinister Realm and Stefan Kaufmann, NWOBHM Wednesday, Forgotten Gems and Clash of the album covers.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Atomic Rooster-s/t

Angel Air

Atomic Rooster formed in the 1969 and quickly set into knocking out albums. They were an early proto-metal time band. The heavy bits were scattered and there amidst funk bits and organ blasts. However there was enough fuzzed up chunks to lump them into the realm of early semi-metal acts. They put out five albums between 1970 and 1973 finishing the funk oriented "Nice n' greasy". Two years later they called is quits. Several years later guitarist/keyboardist Vincent Crane revived the act pulling guitarist/vocalist John DuCann back into the fold and they welcomed newcomer drummer Preston Heymon. This line-up knocked out the 1980 self-titled album. In 1980 other older acts like Black Sabbath and Budgie were re-inventing their sound to keep up with the times. Not the case there though because even though it was the 80's this new version of Atomic Rooster sounded like it was still 1972 and I mean that in good way. Many of the tracks are similar to Deep Purple style organ rock only with quirky vocals and less jams. I can't imagine a lot of fans of NWOBHM acts like Maiden and Saxon being thrilled by this album in 1980, but that's their loss. This was a solid slab of slightly off kilter heavy rock with enough bursts and odd ideas to keep it interesting. Certainly an overlooked album. This re-issue includes two bonus tracks. Definitely one of the better re-issues of the year so far.

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Crossforce-Rockin til the Final Day

Roxx Records

Rockin til the Final Day is a long overdue release. Honestly I never thought I'd see the day when Crossforce's 1986 demo would get an official release. This 6 song cassette only release was limited to just 500 copies and became widely traded among collectors. With original copies going for well over $100 on sites like eBay if you wanted to hear the demo you either had to shell out hard earned cash or settle for a secondary copy. What made Christian heavy metal act Crossforce so special you ask? Well, let me tell you a little about this one of a kind gem and then you can decide for yourself if all the fuss is warranted (trust me it is!). This underrated San Francisco band was formed out of the ashes of Christian metal act Golgatha. While part of Golgatha went on to form the cult heavy metal/speed metal act Valor (who released the excellent full-length Fight For Your Life in 1988) the pair of vocalist Tony Crider and drummer Mark Cassettari would go on to form a band called Crossfire. As we now know Crossfire would of course go on to be known as Crossforce and with a young guitar virtuoso named Phil Castillo (known for instrumental Christian Metal bands like Mercy and Krush) on board the band would craft some of the best melodic metal you've never heard. Rounded out by Jeff Scott on bass and Mark Wrapley on keyboards the band had everything going for them and should have been as big as Stryper. With the white metal explosion in full swing Crossforce was featured in Christian heavy metal fanzines like Heavens Metal, White Throne and Risen Roxx and saw their song "Rockin til the Final Day" receive serious radio airplay on Christian hard rock and metal shows of the day. It looked as if Crossforce were on their way to the top as the band played at two Christian Metal festivals in Southern California. Not only did Crossforce play at the first annual "His Festival" event but also they were invited to play the first Christian Metal Festival ever assembled entitled "Metal Mardi Gras". Sponsored by the church Sanctuary (a church where Christian hard rock and heavy metal fans gathered in the early days when white metal was still not totally accepted among all Christians) "Metal Mardi Gras 87" saw the band seemingly destined for stardom. Such stardom would allude the band though. After their top notch 1986 demo failed to secure the band a contract (again who knows why as it is such fine heavy metal) Crossforce entered the studio again the following year. The result was a demo (entitled the "Frontline demo") that was never meant for the general public and sounds as if it was recorded live in the studio. Intended for former Frontline Records Exec Jimmy Kempner the "Frontline demo" was a last ditch effort to get the band a record contract. For reasons known only to God, Kemper and the band it never happened though and until now that demo has sat in a vault somewhere collecting dust. It has taken 25 years but finally both demos will now see the light. Sadly Tony passed away in early 2002 and didn't get to see his music get a proper release. This energetic and genuine young man (who also played rhythm guitar and piano for the band) was an amazing vocalist who should have been more well known. Tony was a talented musician and this collection allows us a chance to hear music that was just as good (if not better!) than the bulk of Christian heavy metal in the mid eighties. In addition to the two demos this CD includes a long lost practice session version of "Rockin til the Final Day". The song was the band's anthem and is filled with power and emotion. Like the rest of the tracks "Rockin til the Final Day" is well crafted hard rock that showcases Crossforce's ability to write music that will appeal to both the Christian community and secular heavy metal fans as well. This is a band that captured the sounds of eighties hard rock/heavy metal and made it not only have a positive message but also made it fun. All in all you get over 60 minutes of top notch heavy metal from one of Christian metal's most underrated bands. Fans of Dokken, Bloodgood, Guardian, Stryper, Whitecross, Queensryche and Iron Maiden would be well served to check this one out. The CD is set to include a 16 page booklet, liner notes, bios and tons of never before released photos in what will surely end up being a collector's item. Now just like Crossforce's original 1986 demo the CD is limited to just 500 copies so if you want one it is best to act fast as it is sure to sell out!