Friday, September 28, 2012

Forgotten Gems-Highlight-A night at Valhalla


Hailing from Sweden Highlight were a trio of brothers. These Leufvenius brothers knocked out two demos in the 80's. This was the first one and it was from 1983. Keep in mind that this is a very much an early 80's demo as the production is very raw. There's also a spontaneous feel to the playing that makes it sound fresh. They were obviously big fans of Judas Priest and vocalist bassist Magnus Leufvenius has a very Rob Halford style voice which is a definite plus. They also have some NWOBHM influences mixed in as well. For instance the second half of "Pilgrim" will give you an example of what it might have sounded like had Rob Halford fronted Maiden in 1980. Most of their tracks start out with simple patterns and then heat up with the best bits coming in during the solos. I think they did an admirable job of being both heavy and melodic and they always seem sure of their direction. Lyrically they are all about vikings, warriors and battle. Lyrics might be their weakest trait, but the music and vocals makes up for it. They have a lot going for them for a first demo. You can hear the potential in all of these four tracks. I have yet to hear their second demo that was made just a one year later, but "A night at Valhalla" is a great example of powerful early 80's classic style metal. You can find this one easy enough online to download. Worth checking out for sure.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Current playlist

Listening to:
Rancid-Indestructible (Guilty pleasure of mine...)
Buffalo-Battle Torn Heroes Single (Just love the guitar solo in "Woman of the Night")
American Head Charge-The War Of Art (industrial metal...)
Rare Earth-The Millennium Collection (Old school rock)
INXS-Kick (I never get tired of this album!)
Crayon Death-John's Dad (rare as f**k album from this post-grunge/doom/thrash band)
Meatloaf-Bat Out Of Hell (Don't ask...)
Dead Milkmen- Beelzebubba (One song alone defines how cool these guys were: "Punk Rock Girl")
Shiva-Firedance (So good....)

Resident Evil:Retribution (Review coming soon)
Taste The Blood Of Dracula (Cool Hammer film)
Cabin In The Woods (surprisingly good horror comedy)

The Complete History of The Living Dead (Even though they made it so zombies could talk, run and, pretty much NEVER, die I have always liked the original Return Of The Living Dead)
Metal Mark-
Listening to-
Overkill -Feel the fire (this resides in my car and gets played almost every week and it's the version with Sonic Reducer on it)
Stryper-Yellow and black attack (Michael Sweet annoys me frequently by going too high, but Robert Sweet is a highly overlooked drummer)
Transgresion-Demo (Review posted yesterday. Solid old school thrash)
Witchsorrow -God curse us (This is doom ala Electric Wizard. Need to review it soon)
Doro-Raise your (Still need to review this one too)
Liege Lord-Freedom's Rise (It's Liege Lord, I shouldn't have to say anything else)
The Gathering-Disclosure (Not metal and I am still trying to figure out my thoughts on it)
Dio-Angry Machines the demos (Demos for my least favorite Dio album. Less sound effects does help a little).
Grim Reaper-Fear no evil (Any time is right for this album but even more so as Halloween approaches).
Hanoi Rocks-Back to mystery city (I listen to this one a few times months and probably have since 1989)

The Avengers
Remington Steele season one

various early 70's Marvel horror comics
 ***What are you checking out?


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Pro-Pain-Straight To The Doom

Goomba Music

With Pro-Pain the more things change the more they stay the same. Formed in 1991 by vocalist/bassist Gary Meskil and drummer Dan Richardson (both formerly of the under appreciated Crumbsuckers), this New York based hardcore/metal band has seen it's fair share of line-up changes (Gary is the sole original member these days), but has never deviated too far from their original purpose. With their latest album, "Straight To The Dome" (lucky number 13 for the gang!), Pro-Pain unleash a furious mixture of hardcore and metal. "Straight To The Dome" (which was recorded at Little Creek Studio in Gelterkinden, Switzerland) is 11 tracks of fury designed to melt faces. V.O. Pulver (of Switzerland's Gurd) was brought in to handle the production of album number 13 and the result sounds like Pro-Pain all right. If anything though it's probably closer to where the band started then where they ended up. Sure Pro-Pain have always been Pro-Pain, but the band did incorporate some groove elements along the way. But, sometimes life brings you right back to where you started or even where you should have started from...or continued from (perfect example is my life now with my girlfriend-it's where I started out at and should have continued from originally) as is the case here. With "Straight To The Dome" bassist/front man/Pro-Pain's spiritual leader (after all Pro-Pain is not just a band, but a way of life!) Gary Meskil sounds just flat-out PISSED. More so then usual. I can only imagine what his blood-pressure must be like. Wow. It's good for us those that love old-school hardcore though. Look at the album's second cut fpr example. "Payback" is old-school hardcore that is full of so much pissed off frustration that you can imagine the veins just popping out of Gary's head as he screams into the mic! Same goes for "Nothing Left" which is 99 % hardcore (the extra 1% is some slamming metal guitar riffs). "Nothing Left" is a track where you do here some of that groovy shit that the band has dabbled in, but more then anything this sounds like the Pro-Pain that laid down the sonic ass whipping that was on display on their 1994 album, "The Truth Hurts", It's heavy and crushing and makes you want to break things. It makes you want to slam dance (which for a 39 year old like me with brittle bones is a REAL BAD IDEA) and do the "Toxic Waltz". All that is good and well, but if your sitting there waiting for the big "BUT" moment here it is: It all sounds a bit too after song after song. So, you weigh that factor against the heaviness, pent-up rage and fury that album number 13 showcases and you have to decide if it is worth it or not. As the band flirts with crossover (take a track like "Sucks To Be You" that has punk, hardcore and charming 80's thrash riffs) and, in the process also lays down an album that is more Cro-Mags and Warzone then groove metal, tries to recapture some of the lost energy of the scene you do have to admit that this is a strong album that shows Gary Meskil still has some tricks up his sleeve.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Transgresion-“…de sangre y represión…”

Transgresión - Carátula

Self-released Demo

This is a two song demo from Transgresion ; a Female fronted Speed/Thrash Metal band from Puerto Rico. So there are just two songs I'll break them both down. First up is "Guerra Civil" and right away this song channels old style mid/late 80's thrash with influences including Slayer, Testament and Cardinal Sin. Estrella Sola attacks the song with a deep growl. The music follows a tight gallop lead by guitarist Angel Mario. The rhythm section is bassist Raly Vega and drummer Nicolas Burgos who do a solid job of laying down some heavy beats and guiding the pace effectively. The second track "Cerdos De Azul" starts out with plodding beats for nearly forty seconds before a simple riff comes on in a deceptive turn making you think this track might be mellow, but they quickly step it up and crank up the tempo considerably. Again this old school thrash that's simple but captivating. The guitar solos on this one were particularly impressive as they added a smoothness that helped balance the raw fury of the rest the track. After this track bounces around with an off the cuff feel that works just because it's unpredictable enough to stay interesting. This is a strong demo that will certainly appeal to fans classic style thrash.



“Cerdos De Azul"
“Guerra Civil”


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Green Day- ¡Uno!


Like everyone else my first taste of Green Day came from "Dookie". The band's third album (and first for a major label) made them the face of "punk". The group went from underground rockers to media darlings in the blink of an eye. "Dookie" would prove to be the first (and last) "new" album by Green Day that I would buy. After picking up the band's earlier work and then hearing "Insomniac" I decided to leave well enough alone. In the meantime Green Day went from a bunch of punks to another U2. Only instead of songs about God, love, freedom and hope Green Day got stuck in what I like to call the "Ministry Loop" where every damn song was about the "evil" Bush. Wasn't punk supposed to be a rebellion against all politics? When did it start to sound like a commercial for the Democratic party? Thankfully Green Day has moved on. Thankfully and mercifully. So, here we stand looking at the group's ninth studio album (the first in a trilogy) and the first album from Green Day that I have heard start to finish in a long time. Sure, I've heard the singles over the years. Some I've liked and some I haven't. Speaking of singles the band's first single from "¡Uno!" was actually a winner in my eyes. "Oh Love" was released back in July and nice bit of pop punk/radio rock with the very distinctive Green Day flavor. I have to admit I downloaded it, threw it on some mix CDs (one for myself and one for my lovely girlfriend) and thought maybe, just maybe, I should look into the new album. To paraphrase a all too familiar song "I heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another that this CD was floating around" that is. Soon enough I was listening to Green Day's new album and my overall general impression? Well, it's not too bad at all. There are some good tracks to be had.The first two cuts, "Nuclear Family" and "Stay The Night", set the tone for the album. While they are both classic Green Day (face it, just like bands like U2 the boys in Green Day long ago established their own trademark sound) "Nuclear Family" is punk rock and roll rage while "Stay The Night" is rock and roll with a little bit of punk soul. Lyrically it's nice to see the band tackle things other then politics as "Stay The Night" and "Oh Love" offer a look at love and loneliness and "Sweet 16" is Billie Joe Armstrong looking back over his life. With the recent news of a "breakdown" Billie Joe might be better off being reflective rather then vindictive? I mean "Kill The DJ" is pretty self-explanatory right? "Let Yourself Go" is Billie Joe letting himself go...into a fit of rage. At least it is pointed at the haters instead of zeroing in on any one person in particular. With love and hate and a look at right and wrong the album ends up a good listen if a bit too familiar. And while the world "punk" is used a lot when people talk about Green Day (even I'm guilty of that in this review) it is more fair to say that this is pop rock/power rock for a generation too young to remember what punk really looked like.It will be interesting to see what the other two albums in this trilogy have to offer.


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Bristol-based Shiva are another act that are sadly ignored when people start to discuss the nwobhm movement. When it comes right down to to it most people have never even heard of the band. I'm hopeful  that today's piece might helped that even a little and open up discussions about this unheralded power-trio that had more in common with Rush then Iron Maiden. You can hear Rush, Yes, Deep Purple and even Blue Öyster Cult in the excellent "Firedance" (their sole studio album as "Continuance", the 2004 follow-up compilation, is just a mix-up of demo-cuts and material for a second album that never materialized"). Before we get too far off course though (which is easy enough for me to do- just ask my girlfriend or kids!) the band was formed in 1979 and featured three highly-skilled musicians in John Hall (lead vocals/guitars/keyboards)
Andy Skuse (bass/vocals/keyboards) and Chris Logan (drums). Now, unlike Rush and Yes what Shiva brought to the party (as far as progressive rock goes) was the ability to write songs with interesting cord progressions that never got too winded or just plain "out there". Shiva never seemed to lose focus on the "rock" part of progressive rock. And even as I say that they were more influenced by acts like Rush then Iron Maiden the band certainly did know how it let lose when the time called for it.On "Firedance" there are plenty of moments where you hear the likes of Judas Priest sneak in through the back door.It is never quite on the level of the heavier bands of the day, but you do get the feeling that the band was quite aware of the sinister power of bands like Black Sabbath. Even if they were not going to be breaking out doom metal riffs there are moments here and there on "Firedance" where it all seems to come together. A little Rush, a little Black Sabbath, some B.O.C. and a hair of Judas Priest all converging in the same spot and tearing up the night. I'd even wager to say that Shiva burned through some copies of Deep Purple's "Machine Head" on their way up. Sadly the band released "Firedance" and then proceeded to call it a day in the summer of 1983. They did do one more show in 1986 and offered up "Continuance" for their fans. Nothing though tops "Firedance". It is simply a great collection of tracks that are technical and yet still rock the doors off. Fans of progressive rock will no doubt enjoy Shiva although they may also have a bit of an appeal to heavy rock/hard rock junkies. Especially as they are the very definition of a power-trio! 

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Monday, September 24, 2012




So 421 represents the latest from Texas trio Honky. This act includes JD Pinkus on bass (Butthole Surfers), Bobby Ed Landgraf on guitars (GMC) and drummer Justin Collins. This album was recorded at Willie Nelson's famed Pedernales studio. So what we get is a selection of songs that mostly provide some active frequently twangy grooves. They mix heavy beats and simple rhythms in with some infectious boogie driven passages yet still manage to keep it simple. I think I was expecting more western glide and less pounding energy, but it definitely leans to a powerful delivery. They even mix up fairly well with various tempos here and there. For about the first six or seven songs they were really pulling me along and I was far more impressed than I figured I would be. However they lost steam on the last tracks and lost my attention to an extent as I tried to get into it but felt like they were running out of ideas and even heading to area of doing some rather average material. That slowed down their momentum, but most of this album manages to pull some of the more exciting elements out of a couple of different styles and make it look all too easy.

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As I Lay Dying- Awakened

Metal Blade Records

Having now been together for two decades (which, let's fact it folks, is a long time for any band to be together) San Diego, California's As I Lay Dying offer up their sixth studio album. Having moved on from producer (and Killswitch Engage guitarist) Adam Dutkiewicz (why I have no idea) the band opted to work with producer Bill Stevenson (The Descendents drummer). Stevenson had previously worked with bands  likes of Rise Against, Comeback Kid, and NOFX  so it does seem like an odd team-up at first. Thankfully Stevenson is able to bring out a lot of the fury that made As I Lay Dying so appealing to begin with. Sure, this metalcore band still sounds a lot like Killswitch Engage to these ears, but Stevenson does a good job of bring out the full-range of vocalist Tim Lambesison and bassist/clean vocalist Josh Gilberthis. His production also does a good job of highlighting the individual instruments.Everything comes off just about perfect. Those people out there who can't get enough of Killswitch Engage type metalcore (or bands who seem to also own a Slayer album or two )would do well to check this one out. There is no doubt As I Lay Dying are in a dying genre, but when you can pull of breakdowns like this and still sound both sincere and epic what does it really matter right?

Don't believe the part about As I Lay Dying owning a Slayer album or two? Then be sure to check out tracks like "Wasted Words" and "No Lungs to Breathe". Pure Slayer love there my friends...

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GTS- Tracks From The Dustshelf

Avenue Of Allies

 "Tracks From The Dustshelf" was the debut-album from GTS. It was originally released in 1995 (a bad year for me as I did something that would haunt me for the rest of my life, but I won't hole that against this album...or at least too much!). The band was formed by three fellow London musicians-Greg Hart (guitarist in Moritz and, a fave group of mine now, If Only), former YAYA vocalist Sam Blue and ex-Samson, White Spirit and Mrs Loud bassist, Toby Sadler. If your wondering, no this does not bear any resemblance to any of those bands as this sounds more like Tony's other previous band Airrace. Or the band FM. If you love AOR then you'll want to hear this one.The album was recorded in the UK during 1995 (again, that year ugh!), when the members each had "down time". The one thing of interest from the promo is this tidbit: "The album was, at the start, a batch of unused ideas from their previous bands, hence the title of the album, but they quickly found a spark to their writing, and the new songs came thick and fast". Be that as it may this still does sound like a dash of this and a dash of that of other bands especially what I've heard of Airrace. With it's ballads and pure AOR-style keyboards and guitars this one actually sounds more eighties in nature then anything else. It's sort of hard to believe that this album features two guys who were in Samson (drummer Charlie Mack came to the party as well) given how much it sounds like typical AOR. It is what it is and, as AOR, it's fairly solid. The one down side though is that the production sounds thin...paper then in fact. It just lacks any sort of punch. I am kind of at a loss as to why they didn't do a re-master job on this one so that it would really POP OUT! With a bit more BANG this would really be sweet music to my ears. As is it is a solid AOR album that is held back by it's flat production as well as the fact that it sounds a little too much like Airrace to me. Of course if your a Airrace fan is that a bad thing? 

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dio-The very beast of vol. 2



We all know about Ronnie James Dio's life and his death. He gave a lot for decades no matter what band he was working for at the time. In addition to the many studio and live albums that he was part there have also been numerous anthologies dedicated to his work over the years. This one is a follow-up to the 2001album which spotlighted the band Dio's work from 1983's Holy Diver through to 1993 "Strange Highways. So this volume covered from 1996's Angry Machines onward. Now anyone whose favorite Dio comes this later time period would definitely be in a majority. Clearly the better albums were the earlier ones including "Holy Diver", "The last in line" and in my opinion the frequently underrated "Dream Evil". There were some decent albums from this time period like "Magica" and "Killing the dragon", but even at his best from this time Dio was repeating what he had done better in the 80's. The collection presents some very likable songs from this period including "Push", "Better in the dark" and "Along came a spider". Unfortunately also included are "Fever dreams" and "Feed my head" which represent Dio at his most tedious and unimaginative. Those last types of songs didn't happen  much in Ronnie's long career, but when they did it was mostly on some his later albums. This disc also includes some rarities including "Electra" (which was previously part of the "Tournado" box set) as well as "Prisoner of paradise" and "Metal will never die". "Electra" is probably the most interesting selection from that batch. Ronnie James Dio was always one of the most powerful and consistent vocalist going so hearing him sing anything is always pleasing to some extent. There are some good tracks on this album, but there are some throwaway songs too. I love the album cover and was glad to listen to some of these that I have not listened to it a while. Really this collection is just for die hard fans.

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Seven Kingdoms-The Fire Is Mine

Nightmare / Sony / RED

Daytona Beach, Florida is home to Seven Kingdoms. The band, who formed in 2007 by guitarist Camden Cruz and vocalist Bryan Edwards (who had played together in This Solemn Vow) went through the typical line-up changes over the course of three albums. On "The Fire Is Mine" (album number three) the line-up includes vocalist Sabrina Valentine, guitarist Camden Cruz, guitarist Kevin Byrd, drummer Keith Byrd, and bassist Aaron Sluss. Right off the bat the focus seems to be on their lead vocalist Sabrina and well it should be. Sabrina is a very talented singer and brings a remarkable sense of class to the album. As this is her second album with Seven Kingdoms she seems to have more then settled in as her vocals sound smooth and natural. I'm tempted to say that Sabrina almost has more of a voice suited for contemporary pop/rock then heavy metal, but it offers a wonderful contrast here. Comparisons could be made to Iced Earth as this band treads similar ground. While Sabrina is all about the melody the band is more about heavy power metal/thrash. Simply put this is quality power metal with plenty of talent to spare.Iced Earth fans should definitely check this album out.

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P.O.D.-Murdered Love

Razor & Tie

Let's start with the obvious shall we? First, P.O.D. is not the type of band I would purposely choose to review and secondly, this album is several months old. Usually I'd stay from an album like this for those two reasons...or even one of those reasons. But, since this album "fell" into my lap and I have a friend who raves on and on about P.O.D. I decided to just toss it in and see what is what. I will say that pound for pound there are few "rap" metal bands as good as P.O.D.(Payable on Death). It's hard to fathom that these guys have been at it since 1992 (man, that makes me feel old-as if I needed another reason!) and, to be fair, they have evolved somewhat from a simple rap/nu metal band into something more unique and heavy (if this album is to be any indication that is). On this, their 8th album (and the first I've heard all the way through truthfully!) the band teamed back up with producer Howard Benson and, from what I've heard from fan's of the band, tried to recapture some of the power and intensity of their early work. Never one to shy away   from their Christian faith tracks like "Higher" and "I Am" question this world we live in with all of it's hate, despair and the feeling of going it alone. Obviously the group are pointing upward, but the real question is how does the album come across right? Well, album opener "Eyez" (that features a cameo from Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta), does a quick gut-punch with it's HEAVY take on nu metal. brings forth this hard Nu-metal sound that demands attention from the first listen. The next track is a bit of a wash. "Murdered Love" fell flat, and honestly, "Higher" risked the same fate. It was almost way too much nu metal for me but, just like "Lost in Forever," the album's first single, the lyrics really make it worth while. This is especially true on "Lost in Forever". It's easy enough to get caught up in the number as it's both crunchy and catchy. Musically it's also closer to alternative metal/ heavy radio rock/metal then plain nu metal. Rap metal (rock really) is up next with "West Coast Rock Steady". Sen Dog of Cyprus Hill guests on the number. It's all about west coast love and all about trying to be Rage Against The Machine. At least that is better then trying to be Limp Bizkit. And so it goes. "Murdered Love" is one part heavy, crushing metal and the other part message. I suppose though that about sums up P.O.D. in a nutshell. From "Eyez" to the emotional and powerful closing number, "I Am", P.O.D. lay it all out there. It's metal with a message. While I had thought that the band had moved a bit on from their Christian message it does seem louder then ever and it's kind of refreshing in a way. The band obviously cares about ti's fans and the youth of America today and have found a way to offer up bone crushing metal that has a motivational message behind it. It might not be completely my thing (I found the tracks to be either really good or just so-so), but fans should eat this album up.

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Witch Cross-Fit for fight (re-issue)


Hell's Headbangers

This is a classic for sure and that's certainly enough of a reason for me to listen to it and I do regularly. Now it has been re-issued so I get another chance to give it a listen and I sure can't complain about that. Formed in 1979 in Denmark this band knocked out a number of demos both before and after this 1984 LP. What an album this is. It often gets some Mercyful Fate comparisons due to the high vocals and the rambling musical style and the frequent pace changes.  That's a fair enough idea and there is a definite NWOBHM sound too, but Witch Cross had enough of their own style to set themselves apart as well. For 1984 this actually may have sounded a couple of years behind the time likely due to five years of playing before getting a record deal. No matter because what matters is Witch Cross stepped up and positively killed on eight tracks are pure metal on this album. They never stop moving on tracks like "Face of a clown" and "Fight the fire". Songs like "Light of a torch" and "Alien savage" just have the band throwing open the gates and going at it with everything they can bring. It's just constant notes and beats and they change it up whenever they want to, but it also sounds like it's fits perfectly. They really had a knack for getting the most out everything they put into their songs. There is certainly no wasted space. That's a large part of why it's such a great album. For this re-issue the cover is slightly different, really it's the same cover only without the border. Some of the running times are different that on the version I heard before I can't hear much difference in the songs themselves. Still any chance to hear this album again is very welcome. This version will be out on CD, LP, Picture LP and tape.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Dare-Calm Before The Storm 2

Legend Records

Why "Calm Before The Storm II"? What happened to the "Calm Before The Storm" you ask? Well, this is Dare's second attempt at releasing this older album. Seeing as it was released ten years ago in Europe it certainly is not "new" per say although it is a different album then the original "Calm Before The Store". It took Darren Wharton (founder/singer/songwriter) sometime, but he has since obtained the rights to the album. Not happy with the way it turned out the first time around Darren has seen fit to completely re-record the album, add a new running order and toss on a few previously unreleased tracks.  While I had never heard the original album I highly doubt it sound as clear and crisp as it does now. So, who is Darren Wharton then? Well, Darren came into the limelight playing keyboards with the one and only Thin Lizzy. Joining up with Philip Lynott and company when he was only 18 (that must have been something!) Darren spent 5 years with Thin Lizzy. He was with Thin Lizzy when the band recorded albums, such as "Chinatown", "Renegade", and "Thunder and Lightning" In the process Darren co-wrote 3 songs, including the hit single "The Sun Goes Down". That was then and, as they so often say, this is now. So, what to make of Dare or at least this album? Well, those of you looking for heavy metal will be sadly disappointed. You can stop reading right now....go ahead, I give you permission  The rest of you who have stuck around might be happy to know that this is some pretty slick Hard Rock/AOR.  Well, it's more of the latter to be fair. As if you couldn't tell from the art work right? What is the deal with that? It's almost as if they want you to know this is AOR before you even take the record for a spin. Anyway, Dare are AOR through and through. "Calm Before The Store" is very smooth and sticky sweet. This is the kind of AOR that was all the rage back in the day (and still is in Europe) where heartache and loneliness can be expressed over waves of keyboards and music that would make Bon Jovi  look like a thrash band! That is not to say this is bad. The new running order as it were creates a nice transition. The two previously unreleased numbers, "Precious" and "Cold Wind Will Blow", are both good slices of melodic rock/AOR. As for the other numbers? The first three cuts seem to be in the same order as the first time around. "Walk On Water" is awash with heartache and, even as cheesy as it is, really spoke it me. "Someday" and the title cut round out the first three numbers and, really just being honest here, offer very little new to the genre and yet I enjoyed them all. I could be way off and be misreading it (it wouldn't the first time I have misread something folks), but it seems as if it just isn't "Someday" that paint a picture of Jesus. Not that this is outright Christian, but it does seem as if some of these lyrics offer a spiritual perspective. Again, I could be wrong (yes, I know it wouldn't be the first time and won't be the last time either!) so don't read too much into that. It does nothing one way or the other to take away from the fact that this is very slick melodic rock/hard rock/AOR.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Current playlist

Andy- Listening to:
Ghost-Opus Eponymous (Simply a wonderful, old-school, traditional metal/doom metal album from this new mystery outfit)
Kat-Metal And Hell (If a kid were to ask me "what is heavy metal?" I would hand him this album. Hope to cover it soon for a Forgotten Gem segment)
Witch Cross-Fit for Fight (Another classic that is sadly unknown to far too many of today's metal fans)
Shiva-Firedance (NWOBHM band that was more about bands like Rush, Deep Purple and B.O.C. then Iron Maiden, Angel Witch or Samson)
The Hates-Greatest Hates (Killer Houston punk act)
N.J.B.-Various Demos ( short for Night Jamming Band. Great melodic hard rock band from across the pound)
Sloppy Seconds-Destroyed (What can I say I just like punk!)
Demon-I Still Believe Single (Not as good as the classic stuff, but still a nice little rock song) Fleetwood Mac-Mirage (Not considered a classic, but there are a lot of cuts on this album that I simply enjoy)
Diana Ross & amp; The Supremes-Number 1's (No explanation needed as it's Diana Ross & The Supremes!)

Juan of the Dead (Not as good as I hope, but my second time watching it made me appreciate it a hair more)
Curse Of The Werewolf (Gem of a werewolf film!)
Return Of The Living Dead (Never cared for the whole part about how you can't really "kill" them, but it is still a fun film!)
Twins Of Evil (I bought the new Blu Ray/DVD combo and the picture quality is unreal!)

Various short stories with my daughter to help with her reading.

Metal Mark-

Dio-The beast of volume 2-Review coming soon.
Legion-Legion of deth-Forgotten Gems just posted. Forget the lame outfits and the generic band name because these guys were good.
Doro-Raise your fist in the air-About what you would expect, review coming in the next few days. Witch Cross-Fit for fight-I'm with Andy. This is an awesome classic.
MFD-Music for the deaf-Virgiia/DC based punk band. I saw these guys when they were around back in the late 80's.
Avengers-Penelope E.P-Production stinks, but it's the Avengers so of course it's a must hear.
Blondie-Eat to the beat-If you grew up during a certain time then you have to like Blondie.
Liege Lord- 1985 demo-A huge fan of these guys, but I prefer the earlier material.
DRI/Raw Power-The dirty rotten power EP-I remember when this came out and I passed on it. Finally got around to hearing it.
Oblivion-Rebirth demo-Very raw demo from the late 80's. Kind of cool though.

Remington Steele season one Prisoners of the lost universe-Yes I watched it for B-movie icon John Saxon and Battlestar's Richard Hatch. It's kind of like a more comedic and far less exciting version of Beastmaster.
Star Odyssey-In space no one can hear you snore. Boy was this ever a dull movie.
Ghostbusters- My kids and I are all big fans.

Reading- Red Shirts-Sci-fi comdey novel about red shirt security people who finally get wise to their situation.
Various books with the kids

***What are you checking out?

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Forgotten Gems-Legion-Legion of deth


The 80's truly saw puffy haired, spandex or denim and leather wearing dudes popping up all over the place. Everyone hoping to be the next Iron Maiden, Van Halen or whoever. Many were not in that league or ballpark or division or well, you get the picture. If you look hard enough can find plenty of bands from the 80's you have never heard of. Frequently there is a good reason why you have not heard of. Could be they stunk like raw sewage or it could be they were a short lived club in a not so hot music scene. I am not exactly sure what the case was for Cleveland's Legion because I could not find out much about them. I did find out that there have been a ton of metal/hard rock bands called Legion over the years.  In addition to this band's location I do know they were a trio who as far as I can tell released just this four track EP on Reeltime records in 1986. Now these guys were certainly not ready for the big time because this is a rough album. However it has a certain charm to it and a whole lot of energy. There is almost a live jam feel to it like they just squeezed their equipment into one of their basements or a garage and just played while they recorded straight through. It's not smooth production, but you can hear all of the instruments well enough. The real questions here are what did where they any good they sound like and what they sound like and? Of course you can guess the answer to that first question as I hinted at the answer and I would waste my time or yours putting them in this category if they sucked eggs. So yes they had some definite talent. For sound they were somewhere in between hard rock and metal bringing to mind other bands of the time like Vyper and Axtion. I wouldn't say they sounded a lot like Ozzy although it's obvious that their guitarist was very much influenced by Randy Rhoads and Jake E. Lee. This album was a fun listen and one of those bands where I really would have to seen what they could have done a full length album because I like where they were going on this album. Don't judge this one by the cover because this Legion put out a very likable album so many years ago.

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Nightmare / Sony / Red

  Spheric Universe Experience (let's just call them SUE for short) was formed back in 1999 by guitarist Vince Benaim and John Drai. This French progressive metal band utilizes symphonic elements to offer up a rather "interesting" take on the genre. While progressive metal is certainly nothing new (and really neither is the additional of symphonic components) what SUE has going for them is this slightly twisted, almost industrial, bleak and dismal vibe that, somehow, still somewhat upbeat. A contradiction no doubt, but for every moment in which darkness creeps in there are softly spoken undertones of melodic rock and a sense of  beauty. Maybe I'm getting far too mellow in my old age (and man, do I ever feel old, especially when the cold weather we have been having makes me all achy and sore!) and insist upon looking for the hidden beauty in everything, but when a prog metal act takes a chance like this everything feels a bit more "vibrant" even in the imposing face of misery. A very interesting  releases and, as the band's forth album, a good sign for the future of prog metal far beyond 2012.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Talk like a pirate day


Arg and ahoy there, mateys. 'Tis "talk like a pirate day"!
What does that have to do with metal? No much. So change it. To go along with talking like a pirate start pulling out those Running Wild and Alestorm records and blasting them as a soundtrack for today.


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Eugenic Death- Crimes Against Humanity

Heaven and Hell Records

This North Carolina band was formed in late 2010. The band released a demo in 2o11, "The Devil Waits", before Heaven and Hell Records stepped in and signed the group. Having already built up a sizable cult following, the 4-piece band (Jonathan McCanless: Lead guitar, Keith Davis: Vocals, Shane Lucas: Bass, Ian Pasquini: Drums) give us another retro-thrash loving album. Eugenic Death's "Crimes Against Humanity" is one of those LPs where the more you listen to it the more likely you are to say "alright, now I get it". Despite the usual "Bay Area" worship that you're probably as tired of as I am (look, I love early Metallica, early Exodus, Testament, etc. as much as the next guy, but when your band sounds like a carbon copy it's just tiring!) and people saying that Eugenic Death are "Bay Are thrash" in nature there is a minimum amount of that influence. Maybe some Exodus and Testament, but more then anything this almost sounds like all those charming second-wave thrash acts that pooped up following the likes of the Big Four. The first run-through of this album (as I was looking for "name" bands to describe this as) had me noting that the album's closing number, "The Practice", sounds a bit like Slayer. On round two the title track (and album opener) brought to mind some early Exodus, but this band is anything but a carbon copy of any of the name brands. There is some Testament and Sepultura (not surprising as they were both influences) , but a huge debt is owed to Demolition Hammer. That right there is the golden ticket! Especially singer-wise as these are some nice gruff vocals the band has going on! That alone brings up out the Demolition Hammer flavor and the flavor is down right tasty! Given the previously listed influences (as well as Iron Maiden, Morbid Saint, Razor, Nuclear Assault, Flotsam and Jetsam, Attacker, E.X.E, Anthrax, Annihilist, Lethal Shock, Tombstalker, etc) and the fact that these four guys approach their music with intensity and integrity this is an album that while not perfect in the sense of being 100% original (although they still don't sound like anyone else in particular and the old-school production makes them seem more genuine then retro anyway) is at least heaps better then the bulk of newer thrash bands coming out of the tunnel. This is a band to keep an eye on.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Therapy?-A brief crack of light



I had no idea that Therapy? had a new album coming until it showed up at my residence the other week. Thinking back it's hard to believe these guys have been around for about two decades. Must mean they are getting up there and so am I since I remember when they were regarded as a "new" act. Anyways despite having been around for a while they have certainly not become stale or predictable. Their new album certainly proves that fact. They don't cater to anyone or serve up soft comfortable, fluffy sounds. Their music frequently revolves around unsettling tones and sounds that set up the mood right away on these tracks. It's never about being frantic or forcing something in their music. Instead they have a patient glide as they ever so carefully reveal their plans note by note. It's never about being showy or getting caught in just a technical side of the music. They have a plan and they stick to it. You might understand fully the direction there are going until they are right into it pulling you along, but you will thankful they took you along for the ride. I found myself playing this entire album then when it was repeating that process because it was that good and because I wanted to try and take in all they were throwing at me. Certainly an album I will be listening to in upcoming weeks and again towards the end of the year when I start working on my top albums of the year list.

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Juan of the Dead

Entertainment One

Meet Shaun (I mean Juan!) the "hero" of this 2011 Spanish-Cuban zombie film. When Havana, Cuba does the whole "the dead are returning to life to attack the living" scenario it is up to this 40-year-old slacker (and his unlikely and unlikeable group of "friends") to, not only survive the whole zombie Armageddon, but possibly even make a buck or two in the process. What begins more or less as a "subtle" nod of appreciation towards "Shaun of the Dead" (zombies start popping up everywhere and nobody seems to catch on to what is happening) quickly takes a turn into Romero territory (political message read out loud and clear) before finding it's way into an ending that was not only disappointing (no spoilers though and, based on the hundreds of glowing web reviews I read prior to picking up this DVD, I seem to be alone in my assessment of said ending), but a bit of a head-scratcher. Before the angry comments show up about how wrong I am in my review let's begin with this little tidbit. Over the past 20 or so years I have managed to fill up my movie collection with hordes (pun intended) of zombie films from the obvious (Romero's films, "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things", "Zombie", etc) to the not-so-obvious (Blind Dead series, "Rabid", "Hell of the Living Dead", etc.). I've also forced myself to watch some real turds ("Automaton Transfusion", "Special Dead", "Zombie Lake", etc.) just to say I had seen them. Since seeing the original "Dawn Of The Dead" (which is still the best zombie movie ever in my eyes!) as a teenager I've been obsessed with the whole living dead genre. I've sought out rare "gems" (going back to the days of video tapes that I bought from overseas) only to find out they were (at best) lazy and/or sloppy works of "art". So, I kind of know a thing or two about what works and what does not work. To be fair to "Juan of the Dead" there were things I really enjoyed and thought were clever. Having a outbreak on an island that is tightly controlled by the government and, in return a media that is run by the government (which, incidentally, has ties to not only "Diary Of The Dead", but practical implications of our own media here in the states which has turned a blind eye to the obvious), turns an ordinary situation into something much more interesting. Sure, it a bit of a stretch to to think that the Cuban government (and thus it's state-run media) would be able to convince the public that all these flesh-eating ghouls are just dissidents steering up a revolution. It's one think to be revolting against the government and all, but most of the time dissidents don't rip out huge chunks of flesh from their victims for an afternoon snack!. Even so it is an interesting idea/funny explanation that our "heroes" don't quite buy. Speaking of interesting, some of the dialogue is just that. The question of slow verses fast zombies is finally addressed by a character. Rather clever. Another positive is the location of "Juan of the Dead". This movie features a different landscape in which you get a real feel for what it would be like to live in a run-down country where everyone seems to be in the same boat-poor and just trying to scrape by. And finally there is the bloodbath. There is A LOT of killing going on in the movie and the special effects are surprising top-notch considering the fact that this is a independent horror film. Zombies are killed left and right and in unique ways. Simply enjoyable. The bad then? Well, first things first the obvious. "Juan of the Dead" is one of those movies where lots of things are "recycled" from other films of the zombie genre. This becomes a problem is your are someone like me who has spent a lot of time wrapped up in the living dead scene. Sure, it is hard to knock out an original zombie film after 40 years or so years of living dead films. I wasn't expecting a home run here, but this film seems old as if most of this we've already seen. At 100 minutes this isn't so much of a problem, but if the film was any longer I suspect it would have been a serious drag. My final gripe is in the characters. We all understand that, as humans, we are flawed. So, having flawed characters makes perfect sense. What does not make sense though is why there are no likable people in this film. Even our "hero" Juan is selfish, fueled by greed, a womanizer, etc. Of course it is all about redemption as he spends a nice chunk of the movie trying to make up for his past with his daughter Camila while also trying to protect her. It's a plot line as old as time itself. Having Juan (and everyone else for that matter) a flawed human being is fine it's just that all these characters are just not likable at all. It is probably not a good sign when your only 30 minutes (more likely less) into
a movie and your hoping that all of these people get eaten for dinner by the dead. I just kept waiting and hoping only to have my dreams crushed. Again, no spoilers here, but there was a much better spot to end the movie (when things looked hopeless). Granted that scene was followed up by a wonderful, gore filled, scene of zombies getting....well, I don't want to spoil it for you if you have not seen the film. Let's just say it is a creative way to take out a bunch of creeping ghouls all at once. The film would have worked well to end on a "what happens next is any one's guess" note. The ending though...well, I suggest seeing it for yourself. So, the good parts are the setting, dialog and zombie killing scenes (again, great FX for a indie film!). The bad are unlikeable characters, too many "borrowed" scenes from other films and an ending that defies logic when you really think about it. Considering all the hype surrounding this film (which, like a fool I bought into!) I was let down. I wanted to love this film as people were saying it was another "Shaun of the Dead". Sure enough it is, but it's more like Shaun's young & annoying co-worker who ends up as a chained-up zombie in the end. It isn't horrible. It is just that in the words of Public Enemy: "Don't Believe The Hype".

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Set Free-Set Free

Eulogy Recordings

I have so many questions. Too many questions really. Is it rock (where iTunes has it filed) or metal (filed there as well) or hardcore (not real hardcore, but the new league of hardcore)? Do they get extra points for wearing their faith on their sleeves or will that (no pun intended) damn their intentions? And my final question is why did I download this? That is the big question at hand. I know I was pulled in by the number "A Force to Reckon With", but why/when I downloaded the rest of the album is more of a mystery. Such is the ultimate penalty for checking out new releases while indulging in "a" glass of wine and a zombie flick ("Juan Of the Dead" which I hope to review before the end of the week as well) at the same time. It is (as they say) what it is and here we find ourselves with Florida based melodic "spirit filled" hardcore band Set Free. Formerly known as A Hope for Tomorrow this four-piece band are skating thin ice with their self-titled debut album. By that I mean genre wise. Is this sort of melodic hardcore (with "all that jazz' mixed in for effect) played out or does Set Free actually have a chance to stake claim to being better then the bulk of the bunch? I'll say this about Set Free. They have the talent. Excellent bands like this that have the crazy skills to pull of tasty, riff-filled hardcore explosions and then just stop on a dime are deadly serious. These cats can play. You also have to give props to any band that utilizes hardcore growls and clean vocals (here me out first as I know it isn't new!) and has, dare I say, great options in place for both. Their "clean" singer can actually sing. As in "carry a melody" sing. You don't see that very often in these sort of bands and for that I must say good job guys. Obviously your waiting for the hammer to drop down and here it is: not much about Set Free actually blows my socks off. Really it doesn't even tug on my socks. Here we see another band (or rather here we hear another band) that, in small doses, sounds especially inspired. But, with these same sort of groups the hole package tends to suffer when you listen all the way through. "Believers" (featuring Daniel McWhorter of Gideon) is a slick way to open an album and there are good moments like "Go", "Search and Destroy" and "Strung Out", but as a whole album this one gets an "A" for effort and "C+" for effectiveness.

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Mortor-Shoot 'Em Up


This is a self-release? Really? Someone, somewhere must have had this band's music slide across their desk and then (you can't see it folks, but I'm shaking my head in disbelief) passed on it for yet another lame radio metal band. In the words of our good friend Mr. T-"I pity the fool!". There should be a special place in hell for record labels that let band's like Ottawa, ON based Mortor remain unsigned while subjecting us to the same crap "metal" bands over and over. Mortor, who formed in 2008 and were "Born from the creative mind of rhythm guitarist David Paquette", give us the follow-up to their 2010 debut release "Metal Ride". Over my second cup of coffee I am (pleasantly) having my ears assaulted by a band obvious influenced by Sodom (as well as Slayer, Testament, Kreator, Motörhead, Sepultra and Morbid Angel) that sounds like they have been at it for longer then their bio suggests. This is mature, well-crafted, perfectly executed death thrash with sinister vocals, meaty guitar hooks, barbaric drumming and gritty bass (the bass especially reminded me a lot of Sodom or, to a lesser extent, Slayer). What is really nice though is the fact that there is nothing "paint-by-numbers" about Mortor. While a lot of death metal/thrash bands sound nasty enough it almost sounds as if they are just going through the motions. Not Mortor. On their sophomore release Mortor tear a hole the sky and thrash and bash their way through it. Again, Mortor are one of those bands that is not for your casual "metal" fan. No, this is for those who like it LOUD, FAST and HEAVY. Simply put good stuff and an album made by metal fans for metal fans. If only every Monday morning could be spent with a band like Mortor. That would be bliss folks...pure bliss. Do yourself a favor and just get this album.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Hess-Living in yesterday



Harry Hess was the front man for Canada's AOR masters Harem Scarem for years. This is his second solo album. Now in addition to contributing his always stellar vocals he also plays the keyboards, contributes additional guitars and backing vocals. The rest of the music is done by a number of guest musicians and I'll list those after this review for anyone who is interested. This list of course includes a number of his his old Harem Scarem band mates. If you enjoyed his old band then you will likely be thrilled by "Living in yesterday". It's simple and finds it's roots in 80's-90's AOR tinged hard rock, but the choruses are catchy and it's one of those where you hear it and take to the songs right away. The vocals are smooth and Hess has not lost a step over the years at all. I wasn't expecting him to venture too far away from the style of his long band and he didn't. That may not speak well for his adventurous spirit, but what real matters is the quality and this album should go over very well with AOR fans. Definitely worth a listen.

Additional Musicians:
Peter Lesperance: Guitars & Bass
Creighton Doane: Drums
Howie Simon: Guitars solos on “ What If “ & “ It’s Over “
Magnus Karlsson: Guitar solo on “ Living In Yesterday “
Chris Green: Guitar solo on “ Where To Run “
Tommy Denander: Guitar & Keyboards on “ I Don’t Wanna Want You “
Strings on “ What If “ & “ It’s Over “ arranged by Pete Whitfield, performed by Pete Whitfield, Sarah Brandwood-Spencer, Paulette Bayley (violins) Simon Turner, Nick Trygstad (cellos).
Marcie Free: Backing vocals on songs 1,2 & 3.
Darren Smith: Backing vocals on songs 4 – 10.

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French Metal Friday: Treponem Pal

Who you may be asking are Treponem Pal? Well, chances are if you were born anytime after 1985 you probably would have no idea. If you are (ahem) "older" like I am then you might recall that this French band (named for the bacteria that causes syphilis believe it or not!) were at the forefront of the industrial metal movement. Formed in 1986, the band would release their self-titled debut album three years later. While I can't remember when (or how) I first heard the group (I suspect it was off of a comp.) I still remember the impact it had on me. If it was not for their debut album I'm not so sure I would have ever moved past Ministry or Godflesh as far as industrial metal went. Treponem Pal were different then those two acts though. For one thing it did seem as if Voivod were more of an influence early on as much as bands like The Young Gods, Swans, Die Krupps, Skinny Puppy, etc. Without getting too far into the band's history (or numerous line-up changes!) the first few albums are more of interest I'd suspect to industrial metal fans then their later material. Mixing in the traditional "sounds" of industrial music along with razor blade guitars and hoarse hardcore vocals made Treponem Pal are a bit of a "buzz" band back in the day. All those wonderful moments soon gave way to more sampling then slashing guitar and with more and more electronics finding it's way into the mix the band took on more of a techno rock vibe. "Higher" (1997) is more techno then industrial so, again, those looking for crushing metal sound give the first few albums a spin. The band did reform at one point and, although I have yet to hear it for myself , reports suggest that 2008's "Weird Machine" (which features both Ted Parsons of Prong fame and the late Paul Raven of Killing Joke fame) is a return to their older form. I keep telling myself that I really should be giving their "new" album a chance. Especially if it is more in tone with the older material.

Thursday, September 13, 2012



Where to begin with Craaft's debut album? Maybe it's best to start of by saying that I rather did enjoy their 1988 sophomore-release, "Second Honeymoon", as it was a nice mixture of hard rock and AOR. On their 1986 self-titled debut album (which Yesterrock has remastered and tacked on numerous bonus tracks) Craaft seems more interested in mimicking the sound/style of Air Supply then playing actual "rock". That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with this release. It would be one thing is the band were capable (at that time) of writing material as strong as Air Supply did (yes, even as I love bands like Slayer, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, etc. I like Air Supply so I know what I am drawing from for said argument), but instead (more often then not) it just sounds kind of silly. Yes, I know all too well that a lot of the eighties was lost in pop-rock silliness. The eighties (for as good as it was) also offered a very distinct "sound" and Craaft's debut sounds so "eighties". It's telling that the keyboards come off as powerful as the guitar solos and that the drums were originally programmed-Sandy Gennaro (Cindy Lauper) did step in (per the promo) and handle the drums, but having the drummer from Lauper's band (again, I love Lauper so that isn't the point) does not make you into a rock band! Both of those are a sure sign that this was/is an eighties release. Please don't think I'm dogging on eighties rock or pop-rock as I happen to have a lot of both in my personal collection. My gripe is that this sounds like everything that was wrong about the eighties. It just sounds "artificial" and, as a result, does nothing to stand out. My personal preference would still be "Second Honeymoon" where the band started to craft (no pun intended) their own sound. "Craaft" is simply too much of too many other eighties acts (not just Air Supply, but I could rattle off so many other similar acts that were better and that Craaft seem to try to emulate here-The Outfield, The Babys, Hall & Oates, Mr. Mister, etc.) and not done in a way to improve upon that.

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Current playlist

Here you go-


Listening to:

Free: The Best Of Free: The Millennium Collection
AC/DC-Greatest Hits-Double CD (Hell's Hits)
Best Kissers In The World-Puddin'
Ramones-Rocket To Russia
Anthrax-Among The Living
Suicidal Tendencies-How Will I Laugh Tomorrow
Rolling Stones-Forty Licks
The Jam-In The City
Fight-Home Is Where The Hate Is
Faster Pussycat-Wake Me When It's Over

Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Double Feature
The Hunger Games
Zombie 3

The Sherlock Holmes Collection

Metal Mark-

Listening to-

Trashcan Darlings-Real fucking make-up (One of the best real glam bands ever. I remember finding out they were breaking up when I interviewed them. I was sad for weeks)
Dust-Hard Attack (awesome except for a few flower child type tracks)
KIX-Live in Baltimore (painful, but being from Maryland I had to give it a listen)
Koji Kondo-Super Mario World SNES soundtrack ( every once in a while I'm in the mood for video game music)
Belzebong-demo (as cool as the band name)
Mos Generator- Nomads (Tony Reed never sleeps)
Exciter-Feel the knife (the first Exciter song I ever heard)
Witch Cross-Fit for fight re-issue (review coming soon I hope)
Liege Lord-Burn to my touch (I saw they were playing some festival soon and it made me listen to this one)
The Bomboras-It came from pier 13! (trying to squeeze in some surf music while it's still warm out)

Bones season 2
Laverne and Shirley season 5
Remington Steele season 1
Warriors of the wasteland (Dear Lord, all kinds of badness)
Cosmos -War of the planets (Dear Lord, all kinds of space)

Vincent Price-the art of fear
Scooby Doo Comics (with my kids)

***What are you checking out this week?

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Blackened Wisdom-The angels are crying

blackened wisdom

Hell's Headbangers

Blackened Wisdom formed in Omaha, Nebraska in 1992. A year later they recorded three songs in 1993 with the intent of releasing a 7-inch EP. That never happened as the band broke-up not long after that and there the songs sat. Now Hells Headbangers are putting out the 7-inch some 19 years after it was recorded.
The band line-up was Bill Taylor (Immolation, Angelcorpse, Xenomorph, Feldgrau, etc...) - guitar/vocals
, Dan Kohler (Laceration) - Guitar, Rich Sheibal - Bass and Mike Gushar (Laceration) - Drums. So the fact that Bill Taylor was in this band before he went to Immolation is liable to draw some interest to this album. Normally I always an interest in these kind of lost or forgotten album so I wanted to hear this one. It's early 90's death and black with a few burst of grindcore pushed in between. Now it's very and that's alright with me because raw can be good. Here raw means messy and not energetic kind of messy, but just sloppy. To add onto that they never really bring to the surface any riffs or passages that really had me thinking they were onto something. I tried several times to find something of interest. That didn't happen as instead it just sounded like a band were trying to play fast and heavy, but they didn't know much about style or original ideas. It's all rather ordinary and unspectacular. Fans of Taylor's other bands might want to check it out once, but I can't imagine anyone being thrilled by this.

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Acid Witch-Witchtanic Hellucinations

Hells Headbangers

No, your not mistaken at all. This one did originally come out in 2008 on Razorback Recordings. Hells Headbangers is just stepping in to offer up this album once more on
CD, LP, Pic LP and yes, even Tape! For those not in the loop (and for that I am truly sorry!) Acid Witch are just one of those "different" bands that has to be heard to be truly appreciated. Thing is once you do hear them chances are good you'll never be the same (in a good way!). Imagine a mix/mash-up of Black Sabbath, death metal, stoner/psychedelic rock, horror movie soundtracks and even some NWOBHM moments. Odd on paper and yet, when it's all said and done, it works. Given the fact that this album has been reviewed already THOUSANDS of times I won't break it down too much. All I will say is this is different, underground music and, with Halloween right around the corner, the perfect gift for those who love all things heavy, creepy and crawly!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dokken-Broken Bones

Frontiers Records

It's confession time again. Since it's good for the soul and all (or so they say) I should come right out and just admit that I didn't get into Dokken until much later in my life. While I of course knew the name I (shamefully I admit) wrote them of as another one of those limp-wrist hard rock acts back in high school. Looking back it had more to do with those who liked Dokken (the same group of kids that liked awful crap like House Of Lords) then with the band themselves. Such was the reason I missed out on such a great hard rock/metal act. It wasn't until sometime after my daughter was born that I heard a full album from the band. Soon enough I was searching out/enjoying albums as “Tooth and Nail”, “Under Lock and Key” and (to a lesser extent) “Back for the Attack” (although I find "Dream Warriors" to be killer). Even so I was/am more of a casual Dokken fan. I may have loved those classic albums, but I didn't bother to hear their last studio album, 2008's "Lightning Strikes Again". A quick run-down of the line-up shows founding members Don Dokken (vocals) and Mick Brown (drums) are involved along with guitarist Jon Levin ( despite rumors to the contrary George Lynch he is not folks!) and bassist Sean McNabb (Quiet Riot, House Of Lords, Rough Cutt, Great White). Now, given that this is their eleventh studio album it's only natural to expect some grey hairs to start to show right? Don Dokken is not the same man he was on those first couple of albums that I have enjoyed. That said he isn't bad or anything. It just sounds as if old age has caught up to him and, after years on the stage, his voice is starting to quiver a little. "Broken Bones" seems a fairly fitting title as this could be seen as Dokken with broken bones that have not healed properly. Is it a distraction though? Really, before we go any further I have to say that as it stands this is a fine hard rock album. It sounds as if Don (who I assume is the chief song writer?) has become rather reflective in his own age as a lot of these songs (at least to me with my own grey hairs starting to come in) seem heart felt. Maybe it's just that I carry a torch myself for very "personal" lyrics (I'd say it's a side-effect of growing older, but I've always found great meaning in lyrics and, thus, songs as a mirror reflection of life), but Don does seem as it he has opened up a little. Moving on to the music though and while Jon Levin might not be as good as George Lynch was/is he still lays down some tasty licks. Granted not much of this album really stands out, but as far as hard rock releases go this is above average materiel. I just wish it was something I could get more excited about about. When you put it side by side with their older material there is just no comparison. Maybe that is part of the release I couldn't get completely behind this. Having just listened to some older Dokken a week or so back (a mix I made) this seems flat by comparison music wise. I suspect if I had not listened to any of their older material before this showed up in my inbox then I would have enjoyed this a tad more. What it comes down to is die-hard Dokken fans will no doubt pick this up, but if you are a casual fan not so much. And, most certainly now, if you and never heard Dokken and were to say "hey, I should finally check out Dokken today" then it is obvious the place to start is with any of the following albums: “Tooth and Nail”, “Under Lock and Key” and “Back for the Attack”.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Wet Nightmare-s/t


Handshake inc.

The press release described this one as being for fans of Pig Destroyer, Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Assuck. Wet Nightmare are a two man act from Delaware. This album consists of short bursts of grind, death and other noise loosely slapped together. Some times they are very loose like rehearsal type loose. That's what we get here, it has a real live in the basement or garage feel. Many times that would be a good trait, but this time around it's not. It's heavy and it's loud but then again so is a jackhammer on concrete, but I take no real pleasure is listening to that for any period of time either. Normally this kind of short blasts of grindcore noise appeals to me but this band never really caught my attention. Even if the songs are brief there should still be a direction of some sort and Wet Nightmare miss out on that more times  that they hit on. The results are that this very tedious to listen to. It's need to have more of a focus for me to find something to latch onto. Try again please.

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Forgotten Gems-Meghan-s/t

Meghan - EP 1987

I listen to a lot of albums and frequently I just give them a listen without looking up and information about them beforehand. Maybe this leads to me having to hear a lot of crap, but it quickly becomes obvious whether an album is worth me continuing on listening to it or not. I had a few downloads of hard rock stuff form the 80's and 90's that I was going through recently. I was going through them quickly which is a sign that most of them were lousy. However I came upon this EP from 1987 and just a few seconds into the opener "Don't think twice" had me knowing I had a found a gem. As the album continued the fact that is was a gem was confirmed.I couldn't  find much information about Meghan or this album. It was an independent release in 1987 and one source said it was only put out on vinyl. Beyond that all I know about this album is what's in the music. This is a blend of hard rock/AOR with a touch of metal. The vocals remind some of Ann Wilson from Heart which is a huge compliments. The vocals really make this album and I very impressed with the range and power of the vocals on every song. Musicly think Dokken and Lion as they band kind of goes between melodic and heavy. Honestly they are better than just a backing band because the music is almost as good as the vocals and that is saying something. Whoever twisted the knobs on this album deserves a shout out too because the production is equal to good major label production values of the time. A shame that there isn't more information about this one and it's too bad that Meghan didn't record more because this is a solid and impressive album.

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Pure Rock Records

Intro tracks are supposed to pull you in and make you inspired/hopefully for what is to follow. I can't imagine then that anyone would be inspired to continue on to the rest of "Superfly" after the sounds of an airport terminal. Being the trooper I am I carried on though and two observations strike me right from the start. The first is the that album artwork seems all wrong. To me it conveys a hair metal/sleaze affair which is most certainly not the case. The second observation is can these three guys really be from Germany? They really sound as if they should be a west coast outfit. Anyway, Punchline could best be described as alternative hard rock although even that title is a bit off. Starting things off (after that intro of course) is the title cut and for better or worse it comes of as late 90s alternative rock. Early on the album came off as more retro then anything (some alternative rock, some grunge, some punk, etc-you get the picture), but by the time "Killing Me" kicks in I'm beginning to feel a bit more helpful and intrigued. While the promo states "modern-rock-fans will absolutely love PUNCHLINE" I'd say the band would more realistically appeal to those who loved 90's rock (again, the alternative rock, grunge, punk, etc that all mixed and morphed together) then modern rock fans. What's interesting as well about Punchline is the man fronting the three-piece. Punchline is lead by Jörg Juraschek and, while that name might not ring familiar, he is partly responsible for an album that both Metal Mark and I enjoy. Lead singer/bassist Jörg Juraschek was also the singer and bassist for Warrant (no, not that Warrant, but rather the original one) who released “The Enforcer” on Noise Records in 1985. That Warrant was a nice and nasty thrash outfit and, while Punchline sounds nothing like Warrant, it is interesting to see a guy like that go from one extreme to another. Anyhow, back to Punchline and names tossed about on the promo include Weezer, Green Day and Sum 41. The later two are pretty close, at least riff wise, as there is a lot of punk-pop and punk metal floating under the surface, although let's be clear about one thing, neither of these acts are as focused on straight ahead post hard rock/grunge as Punchline is. There is some Nirvana/Soundgarden as well Gruntruck to be found so its safe to say that Punchline will appeal to those of you that loved the nineties (after that one song came along and mercifully killed off the hair metal/pop metal scene) or those that enjoy bass heavy, alternative hard rock.

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Saturday, September 08, 2012



I've got a soft spot in my heart for Boston's Mongrel. Merging punk and metal might not be a new concept obviously. No need to dredge up the history of the two, and thus where/when they first meet up and shared a beer together, as there is a list a mile long of bands who had crafted the perfect blend of the two genres. Boston's Mongrel therefore might not be treading new territory, but man if they don't at least take punk metal and give it a nice kick in the underside! Mongrel (Adam Savage: guitars & backing vocals, Dave Kazukiewicz: drums, Jessica Sierra: vocals and Rev: bass & backing vocals) seem to have used the time between albums to really polish their craft as "Reclamation" sounds like a band with a mission. Album opener "Bored to Death" is downright groovy (yes, I said groovy) while "Pseudocide" sounds like the Ramone's "We're A Happy Family" on speed. Walking dead fan's should appreciate the killer "Zombies of War" while a track like "Crucifiction" talks to all of us who still hold Lemmy and act in such high regard. "Reclamation" is an album that finds Mongrel pulling in it's affection for punk and metal (which is to be expected), but how about groove and even straight up rock? Yeah, again not exactly new as there are waves of bands that did the same thing, but when it's pulled off this well? Even my 12 year old son (who prefers The Beatles over Metallica) was bopping his head along to the sound's of Mongrel. That is universal appeal and that is a winning formula. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how good tracks like "Revisionist", "Stillborn Savior" and "No Gods No Masters" were. Vocalist Jessica Sierra has settled into a style that, not only works, but sounds so nature that it's as if she just stood there and the band grew up around her perfectly evolving to suite her sound. Without sounding too far fetched this is an album that might just find it's way into my best of list come years end. Sure, for those who know me well enough punk metal is something I can always get behind so I'm a homer when it comes to this kind of thing. That does not mean I can't spot the fair from the fantastic. With "Reclamation" the band has recorded an album that, if life was fair (which we all know it certainly isn't) and this had been released on a major label, Mongrel would be the new....well, let's say they would be a new (and much better) version of The Offspring for today's kids to gravitate to. Only difference is that The Offspring are nowhere near this metal or good and The Offspring don't have Jessica Sierra to lead the way!


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Friday, September 07, 2012

Heaven's Cry- Wheels of Impermanence

Prosthetic Records

It's rather unusual to find a band that released a demo (in this case "Sampler") a year before forming. But, that seems to be the case from everything I have read about this French-Canadian progression rock act. "Sampler" was released in 1993
while this Montreal, Quebec outfit is said to have officially formed in 1994. Whatever the case since forming the band has had a rather sporadic history when it comes to studio albums. "Food For Thought Substitute", the band's debut full-length album, was released in 1996 and, from most accounts, was fairly well-received by fans and critics alike. The band's follow-up release, "Primal Power Addiction", was released in 2002. It took 10 years, but now we finally get to the band's 3rd release, "Wheels of Impermanence", and , from what I can tell from a bit of research (in other words I did some random Google searches for descriptions of previous albums) , it's more of the same for Heaven's Cry. At least if progressive, melodic rock/metal is still the game being played? You know it probably does not say much when possibly the biggest claim to fame for the group is not their own music. That would almost make too much sense. Rather, quite possibly the biggest claim to fame for the band seems to be the fact that Heaven’s Cry member Pierre St-Jean was a session bassist on Voivod’s album "The Outer Limits". Not that that is a bad thing. I'm as much of a Voivod fan as the next fellow, but wouldn't it be nice if Heaven's Cry could stand on their own talents? I'd say that is more then a possibility as album number three is fairly solid. Not remarkable or anything, but, for what it is, it's well-written and executed. Everyone seems to be on the same page and while nothing really stands out there isn't anything that falls completely flat on it's face. If you like your progressive rock/metal more on the melodic side of things (and I certainly wouldn't blame you if you did) then Heaven's Cry would seem to be a sure fire bet to get your juices flowing. The band seems content to keep things fairly care-free and some tracks almost come off as extended jams that have been squeezed into four minute songs. Yeah, I'm aware that does not quite make sense when I type it, but the music warrants such a description. Certainly a release to check out if you love all things prog in nature.

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Die hard-Conjure the legions



This is the latest from Swedish death/thrash act Die Hard. These guys knocked out five EPs, but this is only their second full length effort. These guys are all about old style thrash and death metal as they put heaviness (and Satan) above style and technical precision. Creativity isn't their best trait as far as lyrics go. So if they were planning on making any headway it had to be done through their music. They obviously like Venom, early Slayer and late 80's death metal. They make no attempt to hide their obvious influences and they don't try to hide the fact that maybe they could have spent some more time practicing. Then again their move ahead at all costs approach frequently delivers some off the cuff riffs and they never stop trying to pound out as many sounds as they can. That last part is where they pulled over to their camp. This is messy at times and at times it's hard to fathom a band trying so hard to sound like nothing on this album was made after 1989 even though it was. They just stay in motion which such fire that keep your attention. The vocals however come up short at times. The energy and depth of the vocals never gets close to the level of the music. In fact at times it seems like they tone the music down a little for the vocals to catch up. If you worship 80's thrash and death metal and don't care if it sounds like the song is being made up as the band goes along then you'll probably be able to enjoy this album.

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Current Playlist

Listening to:
Murder Suite-Murder Suite Single
Dirty Looks-Cool from the Wire
Tester-King Of The World
Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Girl On Top-Cherry Blossoms
Demon-The Unexpected Guest
Accused-Martha Splaterhead's Maddest Stories Ever Told
Roxy Music-The Best Of Roxy Music
Across The River-N.O. Demo
Twitching Tongues-Sleep Therapy

The Thing From Another World
The Walking Dead Season 2
The Blob (Remake)


Swedish Sensationsfilms: A Clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers, and Kicker Cinema
Metal Mark-
Listening to-
Overkill-Feel the fire
Die Hard-Conjure the legions
Hess-Living in yesterday
Anthrax-Fistful of metal
Mos Generator-Nomads
Razorwyre-Another Dimension
Big trouble in little China soundtrack
Heavy Cross-Street Wolf
Dream Death-Journey into mystery
Wet Nightmare
Bones season 2
various cookbooks and comic books
***Let us know what you are checking out.