Monthly Archives: June 2009

New Release of the Week: Twisted Sister "Stay Hungry 25th Anniversary Edition"

Amazon Twisted Sister StayThe new rock release of the week is Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry, a double-disc celebration of the album’s 25th anniversary. Disc one features the remastered classic cuts (“SMF” still has the greatest groove of the bunch) and the second disc contains demos, outtakes, unreleased tracks, and a new song.

“30,” the first brand new track in 11 years opens with an aggressive drum and wah assault. Featuring a very twisted country and blues vibe, it could represent a new direction for the band’s future releases. Unlike Bret Michaels’ lame country effort, Twisted Sister knows how to bring their own identity and edge to the genre (Hear “30” on MySpace).

Twisted Sister is still Dee Snider (Vocals), Eddie Ojeda (Lead Guitar), Jay Jay French (Rhythm Guitar), Mark Mendoza (Bass), & A.J. Pero (Drums).

Track Listing (Disc 1):

  1. “Stay Hungry”
  2. “We’re Not Gonna Take It”
  3. “Burn In Hell”
  4. “Horror-Teria (The Beginning)”
  5. “Captain Howdy”
  6. “Street Justice”
  7. “I Wanna Rock”
  8. “The Price”
  9. “Don’t Let Me Down”
  10. “The Beast”
  11. “S.M.F.”

Track Listing (Disc 2):

  1. “Death From Above”
  2. “Prime Motivator”
  3. “We’re Not Gonna Take It [Early Demo version]”
  4. “Death Run”
  5. “This One’s For You”
  6. “S.M.F. [Early Demo version]”
  7. “We’re Coming On”
  8. “Call My Name”
  9. “Burn In Hell [Early Demo version]”
  10. “Pay The Price”
  11. “What’s Love Without You”
  12. “Our Voice Will Be Heard”
  13. “You Got To Fight”
  14. “The Price [Early Demo version]”
  15. “Stay Hungry [Early Demo version]”
  16. “Radio Spot”
  17. “30 ­[New Track]”

Read the GOR review of “A Twisted Christmas on Broadway” from Dec. 2008.

Track Review: "The Best of Times" Black Clouds & Silver Linings [2009]

Amazon Dream Theater BlackIn order to celebrate the release of Dream Theater’s latest studio album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, I am offering detailed reviews of each of the six tracks throughout the week.

Track 5: “The Best of Times”

On “The Best of Times,” Rudess delivers the prettiest keyboard intro heard on any Dream Theater song to date. The acoustic accompaniment that Petrucci offers is a slower phrased version of the beginning lead to “Hollow Years” from 1997’s Falling Into Infinity; that is until an eruption of soul and a burst of speed, in the style of a classic Rush track, fades in towards the first verse.

“The Best of Times” takes on an uplifting spirit in orchestration and lyricical composition (“I’ll always remember, those are the best of times”) compared to the previous songs of the album. The glorious “Hollow Years” riff and theme can be heard once again in the instrumental mid section (6:12).

Labrie belts out many feel-good lines (“Thank you for the inspiration, thank you for the smiles”) while Myung’s bass and Portnoy’s thunder holds down the fort. The final guitar solo carries the song to its ending; it is safe to say that true fans will love every bar of it because it is reminicisient of Petrucci’s legendary “Hollow Years” solo from Live at the Budokan. Now that the song is over, I am going to go out and do something good for someone –Meds

Track 5 of 6 — Length 13:08 — Roadrunner Records

4.5 StarsDream Theater is James LaBrie (Vocals), John Petrucci (Guitars/Vocals), John Myung (Bass), Jordan Rudess (Keyboards/Continuum), & Mike Portnoy (Drums/Percussion/Vocals).

Be sure to check out the reviews of track 1 (“A Nightmare To Remember”), track 2 (“A Rite of Passage”), track 3 (“Wither”), and track 4 (“The Shattered Fortress”) as well.

Review: Blood of the Black Owl – A Feral Spirit [2009]

Amazon Blood Of The Black OwlBlood of the Black Owl is a one-man metal band whose latest disc A FERAL SPIRIT embraces the worship of nature and its aesthetic beauty but not before it takes you by the throat to drag you down into the depths of the abyss. This sprawling nine-track excursion enlists unorthodox Native American instrumentation, animal and nature soundclips, enlightening use of organ, and crushingly slow funeral doom tempos to comprise a haunting aura (“Void”) while the troll under the bridge spoken-word into hysterical-crying vocals chronicle the painful journey from the throes of addiction (“Forest of Decrepitude”). Setting a deliberately straggling pace dripping with fuzzed-out black metal despair interspersed with left of center interludes, Blood of the Black Owl’s malice-filled ambiance and steady streams of atmosphere illuminate a mystic journey from damnation to salvation. www.bindrunerecordings.comMike SOS

3.5 Stars

Track Review: Dream Theater "The Shattered Fortress" Black Clouds & Silver Linings [2009]

Amazon Dream Theater BlackIn order to celebrate the release of Dream Theater’s latest studio album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, I am offering detailed reviews of each of the six tracks throughout the week.

Track 4: “The Shattered Fortress”

“The Shattered Fortress” is the fifth and final track of the Twelve-Step Suite, which began with “The Glass Prison” from 2006’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Opening with aggressive riffs and fierce pounding, a thunderous groove laced with a Mid-Eastern tone is molded from thin air. A demonic and unnecessary vocal accent begins each line of the first verse and predictable lyrics fill the bridge (“look in the mirror, what is that you see, the shattered fortress…”).

Following a strong keyboard ditty by Rudess, the song transitions into a pretty mellow ballad until a strange narrative from a voice that sounds like an artificial Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) or Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction); it gets in the way of LaBrie’s brilliant vocal performance.

There are many headbangable moments throughout the track especially during the intro, after the first chorus (3:30), after the second chorus (5:23), and pre-guitar/keyboard solo (9:20). Petrucci blazes through the guitar solo while demonstrating his tight control and action of the wah-wah pedal.

In the final minute of the song, the Twelve-Step Suite is brought to its end via the intro to “The Glass Prison” and fades into the tone of “The Root of all Evil.” “The Shattered Fortress” is a good compliment to the “Black Cloud” theme of the album despite its hokey moments; remove the “scary guy” voices and this is another excellent track –Meds

Track 4 of 6 — Length 12:49 — Roadrunner Records

3 StarsDream Theater is James LaBrie (Vocals), John Petrucci (Guitars/Vocals), John Myung (Bass), Jordan Rudess (Keyboards/Continuum), & Mike Portnoy (Drums/Percussion/Vocals).

Be sure to check out the reviews of track 1 (“A Nightmare To Remember”), track 2 (“A Rite of Passage), and track 3 (“Wither) as well.

Track Review: Dream Theater "Wither" Black Clouds And Silver Linings [2009]

Amazon Dream Theater BlackIn order to celebrate the release of Dream Theater’s latest studio album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, I am offering detailed reviews of each of the six tracks throughout the week.

Track 3: “Wither”

The shortest track of the album, and most radio-friendly, begins with an acoustic riff on the same path of Sixx A.M.’s “Life is Beautiful” before shifting into a more technical piece. The vocal melody of the chorus combined with the backing vocal harmonies are the catchiest on the record thus far. “Wither” represents a detente of the album’s dark tension; you can feel that the silver lining is going to rear itself soon. Petrucci’s guitar solo is very brief but offers shades of Brian May (“Bohemian Rhapsody”). This is the best radio-ready ballad Dream Theater has offered since “The Silent Man.” –Meds

Track 3 of 6 — Length 5:25 — Roadrunner Records

3.5 StarsDream Theater is James LaBrie (Vocals), John Petrucci (Guitars/Vocals), John Myung (Bass), Jordan Rudess (Keyboards/Continuum), & Mike Portnoy (Drums/Percussion/Vocals).

Be sure to check out track 1 and track 2 reviews as well.

Track Review: Dream Theater "A Rite Of Passage" Black Clouds And Silver Linings [2009]

Amazon Dream Theater BlackIn order to celebrate the release of Dream Theater’s latest studio album, Black Clouds And Silver Linings, I am offering detailed reviews of each of the six tracks throughout the week.

Track 2: “A Rite of Passage”

The progressive metal gods released “A Rite of Passage,” the first single from Black Clouds about a month ago. The eight and a half minute epic-single opens with John Myung’s sinister bass riff that cements the foundation for the song, before unleashing the fierce guitars of John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy’s face pummeling drum accents. It becomes clear at this moment that “A Rite of Passage” is the most straight forward headbanger the band has offered their loyal followers since 2007’s “The Dark Eternal Night,” however this one’s better.

In addition to triumphant riffs, the tune is marked with haunting licks [4:33] and an early 80’s thrash influence [4:56]. Old school fans will rejoice the sections that contain the signature — and sometimes awkward because they are so advanced — rhythmic patterns and the duel solo section between Petrucci’s guitar and Jordan Rudess’ keyboards [5:23]. James Labrie’s vocals have consistently grown stronger with every album producing a more aggressive edge since the release of Images & Words in 1992. Pump your fist in the air, honor thy talent, and greet the ongoing brutality that Dream Theater has come to embrace as of late -Meds

Track 2 of 6 — Length 8:35 — Roadrunner Records

5 StarsDream Theater is James LaBrie (Vocals), John Petrucci (Guitars/Vocals), John Myung (Bass), Jordan Rudess (Keyboards/Continuum), & Mike Portnoy (Drums/Percussion/Vocals).

Track Review: Dream Theater "A Nightmare To Remember" Black Clouds And Silver Linings [2009]

Amazon Dream Theater BlackIn order to celebrate the release of Dream Theater’s latest studio album, Black Clouds And Silver Linings, I will offer detailed reviews of each of the six tracks throughout the week.

Track 1: “A Nightmare To Remember”

What better way to begin a record with the words “Black Clouds” in the title than to include a disturbingly haunting intro on the first number — think stormy earth like the opening to “Black Sabbath” combined with the spooky keyboards of Jordan Rudess that would make the Crypt keeper grin. After 1:42 of the opening horror show, John Petrucci shifts gears with a heavy riff for James LaBrie’s vocal entrance. Mike Portnoy’s double bass drum playing during the first movement is as fast and devastating as ever.

The highlight of “A Nightmare To Remember” is the clean interlude at 4:56 which might as well be a different track altogether. At this point, you will be walking on the clouds in arpeggio heaven. The lyrical melody combined with the progressive groove in this section is purely exhilarating.

Petrucci’s solo (8:33) is infused with the blues before heading off to Shredsville USA with the keyboards. Towards the end of the instrumental break the dark side of the tune, the side heard in the intro, is brought back to life with an intense and demonized vocal performance that has been consistent with recent Dream Theater releases. This dark tone carries the song to its ending, cuing the creepy keyboards as the album transitions into the glorious intro of the second track and first single, “A Rite of Passage.” –Meds

Track 1 of 6 — Length 16:10 — Roadrunner Records

4.5 StarsDream Theater is James LaBrie (Vocals), John Petrucci (Guitars/Vocals), John Myung (Bass), Jordan Rudess (Keyboards/Continuum), & Mike Portnoy (Drums/Percussion/Vocals).

Review: Insect Warfare – World Extermination [2009]

Amazon Insect WarfareRe-released from 2007, Texas grindcore trio Insect Warfare’s WORLD EXTERMINATION gets the re-release treatment courtesy of Earache, and hail Satan for that! This disc yields a blindingly-fast and corrosively abrasive metallic mauling, essential for fans of Brutal Truth, Napalm Death, and Nasum to get their crusty claws on. Broken down into 20-tracks clocking in at a violent 23-minutes, this now-defunct squad blasts through a hellacious barrage of musical misanthropy (“Hydraphobia”), savagely ripping apart your aural cavity with an endless stream of drum pounding and crushing guitar riffs (“Nuclear Deterrence,” “Self Termination”) while the demonic rasp proceeding over the battle barks with belligerent grunts and yowls with desperate wails (“Enslaved by Machinery,” “Mind Ripper”). Insect Warfare’s warmongering shredding and rapid-fire tempos are not for the weak-willed metal fan, as this band solicits a primal need unapologetically rip off your face like a vicious animal would without a shred of remorse. www.earache.comMike SOS

3 Stars

Review: Tombs – Winter Hours [2009]

Amazon TombsNYC trio Tombs masterfully juxtapose metal subgenres to develop a blend of bleak yet menacing shoegazing sludge on the 10-track disc WINTER HOURS. Post-hardcore pondering and black metal brutality collide many times over on this stirring affair (“Filled With Secrets,” “Gossamer”), creating explosive waves of intense aggression laden with dense dollops of doom and darkness (“The Divide”). Channeling the corpsepaint contingent, the experimental voyager and the esoteric metal crew for inspiration, Tombs embrace each party’s unique sense of bombast without giving into genre excesses, resulting in this lean and mean 37-minute endeavor emblazoned with sweeping tempo changes and dramatic dynamics shifts (“Story of a Room”). www.relapse.comMike SOS

3.5 Stars

Track Listing:

  1. “Gossamer”
  2. “Golden Eyes”
  3. “Beneath The Toxic Jungle”
  4. “The Great Silence”
  5. “Story Of A Room”
  6. “The Divide”
  7. “Merrimack”
  8. “Filled With Secrets”
  9. “Seven Stars The Angel Of Death”
  10. “Old Dominion”