Monthly Archives: November 2009

Review: Nonpoint – Cut The Cord EP [2009]

Alternative metal veterans Nonpoint serve up a five-track EP that features so-so acoustic renditions from their eight year old studio catalog.

Luckily the band chose to leave the annoying “Bullet With A Name” song off of the Cut The Cord EP. The five songs chosen however offer a somewhat eclectic mix that displays their ability to rock with a Spanish guitar flare (“Rambia”), mainstream rock radio pizzazz (“What A Day”), an aggressive strumming screamer (“Victim”), and a profound ballad (“Your Signs”).

Even though the guitar harmonics in the verses are done well, “Circles” turns out to be the least interesting tune in the mix due to the highly predictable and repetitive chorus; Incubus covered this concept better on 2001’s Morning View.

Overall this effort is a decent extended play disc that should hold off fans until Nonpoint finishes recording their next studio album –Meds

Nonpoint is Elias Soriano (Vocals), Zach Broderick (Guitar), Ken Charman (Bass), & Robb Rivera (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “What A Day”
  2. “Circles”
  3. “Rabia”
  4. “Victim”
  5. “Your Signs”

Cut The Cord on Amazon.comOfficial SiteWikipedia.com

Review: Halford 3 – Winter Songs [2009]

Rob Halford offers the most highly anticipated Christmas album of the season Winter Songs, another fantastic contribution from the world of heavy metal to the most wonderful time of the year.

To be honest, I did not feel the holiday vibe in the beginning as I did on A Twisted Christmas and We Wish You A Metal Xmas. However by the fourth car ride to work with Winter Songs, the metallic yuletide spirit orchestrated by Halford III forced itself upon me in a somewhat uncomfortable manner, that wasn’t as far as a violation of my soul, but not far from it.

While there are a couple of gems on the first half of the disc such as the blistering opener “Get Into The Spirit,” ironically it is the second half that was responsible for this hostile spiritual abduction. The last five tracks consist of brilliant interpretations of the Christmas ballads “Come All Ye Faithful” and “Oh Holy Night.” It is on these slower tracks that Halford allows his voice to shine bright, resulting in a very moving listening experience.

I am sure there are many metal heads that would disagree and argue that Winter Songs is not a true Halford record because of the ballads, but you simply cannot discount great music because it is not as heavy as “Painkiller.”

In addition to the devastating tunes in the beginning and the aforementioned ballads, “Christmas For Everyone” features an upbeat and quirky boogie that will even please your girl, hence the title.

Winter Songs is the must own holiday album of the year. If you have difficulty embracing it in the beginning, do not give up. Within several listens, the Metal God will once again own your soul. It is your responsibility to give it that chance –Meds

Halford III is Rob Halford (Vocals), Roy Z (Guitars), Metal Mike Chlasiack (Guitars), Mike Davis (Bass), & Bobby Jarzombek.

Track Listing:

  1. “Get Into The Spirit”
  2. “We Three Kings”
  3. “Oh Come O Come Emmanuel”
  4. “Winter Song”
  5. “What Child Is This”
  6. “Christmas For Everyone”
  7. “I Don’t Care”
  8. “Light Of The World”
  9. “O Holy Night”
  10. “Come All Ye Faithful”

Winter Songs on Amazon.comOfficial SiteWikipedia.com

Review: SwampDaWamp – Rock This Country [2009]

Imagine for a moment the bastard child of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the 90’s WWE character Papa Shango (the singer’s image bears some resemblance), and you get something along the lines of SwampDaWamp. Rock This Country features 12 tracks of good Southern Rock music. SwampDaWamp is a great garage and bar band that you would be happy to throw a few pints down to, but would not expect to hear anything epic or legendary from. Unfortunately, as long as Kid Rock is around the rock country scene, there won’t be much room in the mainstream for SwampDaWamp, even with a giant stage show –Meds

SwampDaWamp is Gig Michaels (Vocals), Michael Hough (Guitars/Vocals), Keith Inman (Guitars/Vocals), Mike “Scooby” Huffman (B3/Keyboards/Vocals), Cody Bennett (Bass/Vocals), & David Lee (Drums)

Track Listing:

  1. “Lady”
  2. “Helluva Night”
  3. “Double or Nuthin'”
  4. “Good God”
  5. “American Man”
  6. “Six Tons”
  7. “Daddy Said”
  8. “Rock This Country”
  9. “Half My Life”
  10. “Shame”
  11. “Welcome To The Inn”
  12. “Stoned”

Review: Artie Lange – Jack And Coke [2009]

Howard Stern Show personality Artie Lange has released his first stand-up CD Jack And Coke, a set of mediocre material that he built and tested — on the show and in clubs — over the last several years.

If you are a listener of Stern’s Sirius Radio Show, you will find most of the jokes and stories told on this Gotham Comedy Club set to be very redundant. You have heard many of the stories from simply being a fan of Howard Stern and, it is widely known, that Lange’s best material comes naturally in the moment on Stern’s show, not in a club.

On the night club stage, Lange is more of a character than a genuinely funny comedian. The crowd seems to over-applaud jokes that are decent at best, cheering mainly because they are loyal to Lange and the Stern Show.

There are several funny bits on the disc such as his Chris Rock story, Eagles Fans story, and the Mike Tyson bit, but even these fall just short from making you laugh out loud.

Lange is not afraid to drop f bombs galore during his routine and I have no problem with strong language either. The problem is that the usage of the f word rarely advances his story telling and the punchline.

Overall, Jack And Coke is fun for fans but weak on the laughs. I love the Howard Stern Show and know Artie is the master of quick one-liners, but his planned stand-up routine is disappointing from this fan’s perspective –Meds

Track Listing:

  1. “Gay Cowboys”
  2. “Drugs And Hookers”
  3. “The Fattest Cokehead”
  4. “Tom Brady”
  5. “Lawrence Taylor”
  6. “Swine Flu”
  7. “Oscar Host”
  8. “Hiking”
  9. “Afghanistan”
  10. “Mike Tyson”
  11. “YouTube”
  12. “Over/Under”
  13. “Eagles Fans”
  14. “Special Olympics”
  15. “A-Rod And Uecker”
  16. “Italian Mother”
  17. “Chris Rock”
  18. “Political Correctness”

Track Review: Volbeat "A Warrior's Call" [2009]

Danish metal outfit Volbeat offers all you freaks “A Warrior’s Call,” a brand new and fresh anthemic fight song. Without sounding too contrived (remember Megadeth’s “Crush ‘Em”), Volbeat has created a tolerable and memorable arena track suitable for any competitive event. After all, the track was written and recorded specifically for boxer Mikkel Kessler’s recent fight. The band employs their signature rockabilly and swing-heavy beats, which draws some comparison to Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People,” only Volbeat is equipped with significantly more talent. The only possible addition the song could use, is a brief guitar solo at about 2:15. If you dig “The Human Instrument” and Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood, then you’ll definitely sink your soul into this beast as well. Download the song for free at volbeat.dkMeds

Volbeat is Michael Poulsen (Vocals/Guitar), Thomas Bredahl (Guitar), Anders Kjølholm (Bass), & Jon Larsen (Drums).

Track Review: Fear Factory "Powershifter" Mechanize [2010]

Update: Read the Mechanize full album review here

The new single “Powershifter” from Fear Factory is the most devastating and brutal tune in metal at the moment. The long awaited return of Dino Cazares on the guitars combined with Gene Hoglan’s drums most likely account for the powerfully aggressive rhythmic patterns that leaves the listener with facial blisters and a battered-in skull. Burton C. Bell continues to be one of metals greatest front men, alternating between his signature death grunts and trademark melodies.  The frenetic breakdown at 2:10 just rips and tears through flesh with pure ferocity. The new album Mechanize is due out February 9, 2010 on Candlelight Records and is promising to be the band’s best work since Obsolete and possibly Demanufacture, if “Powershifter” truly is an accurate representation of the new material –Meds

Fear Factory is Burton C. Bell (Vocals), Dino Cazares (Guitars), Byron Stroud (Bass), & Gene Hoglan (Drums).

Review: Age of Evil – Get Dead EP [2009]

When the Age of Evil Get Dead EP arrived on my doorstep, the two cover tracks — Skid Row’s “Slave to the Grind” and Judas Priest’s “The Hellion/Electric Eye” — immediately gained my attention. “This is going to be a killer disc,” I thought to myself. The band has a cool name, some teenage angst, and a sick taste in music, therefore how can this CD possibly fail?

The covers themselves aren’t half bad as the band consists of talented musicians, especially the lead guitarist Jordan Ziff. However, the original tracks are disappointing and lame, resulting in some mild and unfortunate hilarity.

Clearly, AOE worships Dave Mustaine and the early thrash giants of the 80’s as heard in their style, but the lyrics are just awful. “You think you’re tough, think you wanna die, well kiss my bullet then you’ll wonder why,” sings Jeremy Goldberg on “Get Dead.” Fascinating.

On a different song, the exact same topic, the words are, “you can run, you can hide, but in the end you are going to die.”

The band’s image does not seem to match the style that they are portraying. If they were trying to be for metal what Steel Panther is to glam, I would totally get it. But the band seems to be dead serious.

I would suggest that they keep making heavy music since they can play hard and fast. But come on, put some genuine emotion into the lyrical content, tell a story, and provide some sort of intelligent message. Yes, heavy metal can be thought provoking, just ask Dave Mustaine and Tom Araya.

Age of Evil is Jeremy Goldberg (Vocals/Guitar), Jordan Ziff (Guitar), Jacob Goldberg (Bass), & Garrett Ziff (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Cruel Intentions”
  2. “Get Dead”
  3. “Slave to the Grind”
  4. “The Hellion/Electric Eye”
  5. “Eye for an Eye (Live)”
  6. “Glimpse of Light (Live)”

Concert Review: Metallica Live at Madison Square Garden November 14, 2009

11-14-09 JamesFor the second time this year, Metallica played the New York metro area, this time taking the critically acclaimed live metal show to the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Still supporting the Grammy award-winning Death Magnetic album, the band opened their set with the album’s first two tracks and proceeded to tear through the required classics like “Master of Puppets,” “One,” and “Enter Sandman.”

There were several pleasant surprises in the mix such as “Holier Than Thou,” “Helpless,” and “Whiplash.” The only shortcoming of the show, was the lack of “Creeping Death” in the set.

After the show, drummer Lars Ulrich acknowledged that it was pathetic that Metallica has not not played MSG in over a decade, although the band did play the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary show two weeks ago.

The supporting acts for this leg of the World Magnetic Tour are Danish rockers Volbeat and Lamb of God.  However, I much prefer to see Machine Head support Metallica over Lamb of God any day.

11-14-09 James LasersA friend texted me during Lamb of God’s set, “these guys so want to be Pantera.” I never understood the big deal either.

If you have not seen Metallica on this tour yet, you are missing out on a huge and an important rock show experience and should do everything in your power to get there.

Over the last year, the band has been more than making up for the disappointing St. Anger album and tour of 2003-2004 –Meds

Setlist:

  1. “That Was Just Your Life”
  2. “The End Of The Line”
  3. “For Whom The Bell Tolls”
  4. “Holier Than Thou”
  5. “One”
  6. “Broken, Beat And Scarred”
  7. “Cyanide”
  8. “Sad But True”
  9. “Turn The Page”
  10. “All Nightmare Long”
  11. “The Day That Never Comes”
  12. “Master Of Puppets”
  13. “Fight Fire With Fire”
  14. “Nothing Else Matters”
  15. “Enter Sandman”
  16. “Helpless”
  17. “Whiplash”
  18. “Seek & Destroy”

Top-Left: Frontman James Hetfield at the mic with Lars Ulrich on the drums by R.Meds on 11-14-09; Bottom-Left: Hetfield in lasers

SOS Metal Reviews: The Black Dahlia Murder "Deflorate," Leaves' Eyes, Midnight Fistfight, and more…

Amazon BlackDahMurderTHE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER: DEFLORATE

The Black Dahlia Murder returns with a terse homage bountifully bursting with Swedish metal influence with their unique blackened thrash twists embedded within on their 10-track, 34-minute collection Deflorate. Showcasing swift jabs of focused aggression with a familiar brutality behind it all (“Eyes of Thousands”), this Michigan troupe’s delectable twin guitar tandem craft some niftily nefarious solos (“Throne of Lunacy,” “Necropolis”) while Trevor Strnad’s varied vocal approaches continues to spew venom although exhibiting a tad more restraint than usual, allowing the unit’s trademark maniacal melodic side to commandeer the bastardized blitz (“I Will Return,” “A Selection Unnatural”). Despite claims by some who lament about the band being a bit stagnant (“interchangeable” seems to be a buzz word flying around regarding this band’s output), TBDM continues to dole out a brutishly consistent strain of metal that does a stellar job of unleashing the beast in us all. www.metalblade.comMike SOS

DESPISED ICON: DAY OF MOURNING

Canadian cripplers Despised Icon continue to outshine the majority of peers from the deathcore pool as the troupe’s latest 10-track offering Day of Mourning aptly displays with both a vitriolic viciousness and a durable grip on both Hatebreed hardcore and Dying Fetus death metal firmly intact (“Day of Mourning”). Despite a solid yet somewhat surprisingly atmospheric one-two punch closing out the affair (“Entre Le Bien et Le Mal,” “Sleepless”) and a tremendous percussive performance courtesy of Alex Pelletier whose blazing speed, relentless battering, and dastardly doses of dexterity make a serious bid for this squad to be thrust into the upper echelon of extreme metal, this sextet’s undeniably blistering array of mosh-friendly riffs and ripping twin vocal attack at times come off stock and formulaic (going so far as ripping themselves off from previous works), ultimately falling prey to the maligned genre trappings similar acts often get lambasted for. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a modern take on heavy music and can withstand the done to death breakdown-happy parts, Despised Icon’s latest does get the job done while demonstrating this act’s leadership position in deathcore’s day-glo trenches. www.centurymedia.comMike SOS

CIRCADIAN SKIZM: CIRCADIAN SKIZM

NYC metal trio Circadian Skizm unleashes a brutal barrage of progressively inclined extreme metal on the squad’s latest four-track excursion. Featuring two studio cuts and two lesser-quality live tracks that provide an adequate feel for the unit’s live show yet drag the collection’s vibe down considerably, this act incorporates an unorthodox concoction of early forward thinking death metal tones a la Death with a steady stream of off-kilter metallic mayhem to forge the type of menacing heaviness that keeps the listener engaged with headbanging delight while slightly uneasy as to what’s to come. If you like your metal bruising with an unsettling tint, this band delivers. www.circadianskizm.comMike SOS

EVERGREEN TERRACE: ALMOST HOME

Now in their 10th year as a band, Evergreen Terrace confidently dole out an unashamedly hybrid melodic hardcore onslaught on fifth album Almost Home. This audacious Florida-based outfit’s scathing screamo, Warped Tour punk rock, and tough guy metalcore collisions yield a myriad of hook-laden crushers whose infectious bite manages to comfortably combine the wares of Death By Stereo, Fall Out Boy, All That Remains, and Comeback Kid (4,8). But don’t discount this troupe’s thunder just because some of their songs contain parts that make your girlfriend swoon, because underneath lie plenty of chunky chuggers and moshpit movers that keep the floor occupied in a constant state of flow (9). While Evergreen Terrace’s stylistic balance may not appease all, this troupe’s latest album is sure to please the more open-minded sect of metal fans with modern sensibilities. www.metalblade.comMike SOS

Amazon Armed For ApocARMED FOR APOCALYPSE: DEFEAT

Armed for Apocalypse features former members of California metal units Will Haven, Ghostride, and The Abominable Iron Sloth, so those familiar with the sheer sonic sludgefest employed by those acts will have no problem embracing Defeat, as this disc demonstrates logical sound progressions emanating from those particular starting lines. This eight plus a bonus track (a rousing cover of “Tempatation’s Wings” by Down”) endeavor is a soulshaking affair equipped with a dark heaviness explosively fusing a set of menacing vocals, cavernously churning guitars, devastatingly deliberate doom-laden rhythms (“You Are Alive When They Start To Eat You”), and crushing basslines to comprise a merciless and malevolent melodic metal assault (“Torch Light Search For The Dead”). Constructing a viscous wall of sound that steamrolls your senses, Armed for Apocalypse stomps you to the ground without a shred of remorse, making this wallow in the mire a crucial purchase for those who enjoy their music lurching and downtrodden. www.metalblade.comMike SOS

ABACINATE: A KING’S THIRST FOR THE FROSTY BREW

New Jersey deathcore mob Abacinate’s album title projects the notion that this band might be a pirate metal troupe, but after one listen of this quintet’s dastardly mix of downtuned death metal crunch and slam-worthy staccato, that idea is dispelled right quick. Decked out with flurries of six-string acrobatics and potent percussive pounding aplenty (“Rife with the Stench and Squalor”), Abacinate exhibits an uncanny knack to gracefully blur lines between tough guy hardcore and death metal by throwing in an authentically ass-kicking cover of Sepultura’s “Nomad” as well as utilizing rounds of gang vocals in “Shake the Spot” as welcomed reprieves from beleaguered formulas. While this type of metal can get tiresome both physically and mentally, this squad’s innate ability to throw down burly breakdowns or simply blast away as needed assists this group’s righteous mission to destroy all in their way without losing an ounce of street credibility. www.abacinate.netMike SOS

SANCTIFICATION: BLACK REIGN

Swedish death metal squad Sanctification return with their latest nine-track excursion Black Reign. This unit, who boasts members of Dark Funeral, In Battle, and Demonoid in their ranks not to mention production by the team of the Tagtgren brothers and Dan Swano, adopts a decisively Americanized approach a la Deicide and Morbid Angel with leanings towards an old school influence by such luminaries as Entombed, Bloodbath, and Grave to diabolically fulfill nightmares across the globe (“Storm”). Complete with relentless deluges of low-pitched vocal growls a la latter day Cannibal Corpse (“Hear This”), a salvo of crushing blast beats, and rapid-fire rounds of muscular fretwork manning the helm (“Black Reign”), this disc juxtaposes two of the more scathing death metal styles together to form a juggernaut of a release that ardent supporters of early underground metal will gleefully bang their head to. www.pulverised.netMike SOS

MY OWN DEATH: NECROLOGY

Sweden rarely fails when it comes to churning out mass quantities of quality death metal, and the latest endeavor by raging quintet My Own Death once again proves the theory to be true. This seething squad’s sophomore effort Necrology nary shows a sign of slump, as these macabre metal merchant’s blend of gore-inspired subject matter, fast-paced rhythmic frenzy (“Age of Torment,” “Carnal Revelations”), punishing grooves, bellicose vocal bellows, and thrash-y twin guitar assault of menacing riffs and tasty solos yields a warmongering fury from the opening strains of the march-like “Awaiting Death” right until the last note of “Incineration” is played. Brutal and bludgeoning, this disc delivers the goods with all of the delectable devastation a solid death metal release should. www.pulverised.netMike SOS

amazon karnivoolKARNIVOOL: SET FIRE TO THE HIVE

Eclectic Australian rock troupe Karnivool returns with a mixed bag EP that previews the unit’s new sounds in addition to revisiting old ones on the four-track Set Fire To The Hive. This quintet’s forward-thinking approach immediately brings to mind a combination of System of a Down, Dredg, and Incubus, as Karnivool’s hard rock hooks, unorthodox melodies, and left of center arrangements (just check the horns on “Roquefort” as an indication of what to expect) switch from furious to fragile in the blink of an eye, all with a captivating vocalist skillfully tying the entire grandiose offering together. Exuding the capability to stretch rock music’s boundaries past normal limits, Karnivool’s stopgap presentation provides an ample overview of how this band works. www.karnivool.com.auMike SOS

GWYNBLEIDD: NOSTALGIA

Brooklyn, NY by way of Poland quartet Gwynbleidd establishes a name for itself on the prog death metal front with the release of Nostalgia. Despite an obvious Opeth inspiration infused either purposefully or merely by design, this unit champions a grandiose presence, wondrous compositional flow, and epic songwriting techniques that work in symbiosis to form a refined eight-track affair custom made for those who appreciate the sounds of sweeping and majestic metal with a sinister growl spearheading the movement (“Thawing Innocence”). Fleshing out intriguing dynamic twists without losing an unwavering density that keeps the album’s pace brisk notwithstanding lengthy arrangements and the mood ominous and foreboding, this album’s lush acoustic interludes woven into waves of somber and reflective melodic death metal deftly hammers home a solid sense of metallic melancholy.  While the sound-alike references this act is bound to face may be a dealbreaker, this squad’s elegant sense of musicality and masterful manipulation of the death/doom/folk metal triad reveals an enjoyable listening experience for those who like to adventure with ambient metal. www.blackcurrantmusic.comMike SOS

PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS: IN MEMORIAM III OMEN

Black metal isn’t just coming from normal channels anymore, as Australia’s Pestilential Shadows demonstrates with a mutual blast of the cold and bleak temperance shared amongst their northernmost peers This unit’s latest elegiac eight tracks of evil titled In Memoriam III Omen features a feral battering of twin guitarwork to guide the affair into black metal’s murky depths and pits of despair on cuts such as “Of Loss And Suffering Inherit” and the ethereal instrumental “Ecclesia Moriendi”. Everything else from authentic production values to the vitriolic vocals is not only solid, but a cut above genre specifications, stamping menacing mid-tempo numbers such as “Beautiful Demise” with the right measure of glacial isolationist tendencies and significantly somber musicianship for a hearty combo of melancholy and mayhem (“With Serpents I Lay “). www.pulverised.netMike SOS

ANNUNAKI/ ANTICOSM: SPLIT CD

New Jersey metal merchants Anticosm and Annunaki join forces for a six-song split of unadulterated power and malevolent metallic fury. Up first are Annunaki and their pristine blend of dark thrash-infused melodeath leaning slightly towards the Swedish side of the spectrum a la The Haunted and Dark Tranquility. This act’s controlled chaos rips skulls apart on cuts like the vehemently blackened “Blunt Scapel Extraction”, whose wailing whammy bar abusing guitar solo slays with barbaric stealth. Anticosm closes out this malicious melee with a lesser produced yet similarly spirited blend of metal, as this unit’s bold warrior look (complete with fur and spikes) is accompanied with a sinister stream of traditional power metal, black, and groove metal evoking the wares of bands ranging from Goatwhore to Three Inches of Blood on “Necrolepsy Slumbershock”. Sharing a common interest of interpreting modern nuances into old school extreme metal templates, this split disc steers listeners past crowds straight to a place in the underground where hellacious hybrids reign supreme. www.myspace.com/anticosm & www.myspace.com/annunakibandMike SOS

amazon leaves eyesLEAVES’ EYES: NJORD

Symphonic metal sextet Leaves’ Eyes return with Njord, a sweepingly orchestral offering perfectly crafted for a theatrical production. Led by the powerhouse vocals of Liv Kristine and adorned with an enormous wall of music encompassing everything from waves of singing choirs and world beat woodwinds (“Irish Rain”) to effective beauty and the beast vocal tradeoffs and killer melodic death metal underpinnings (“Emerald Island”), this disc dramatically delivers with an over the top grandiosity considerably less fluffy yet decisively more consistent than previous works. Fans of Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, and Nightwish will have little problem diving headlong here, as this 12-track disc goes above and beyond the call of duty with providing a refined and robust symphonic/goth/folk metal platter. www.napalmrecords.comMike SOS

AMY LYNN AND THE GUN SHOW: AMY LYNN AND THE GUN SHOW

A staggering dose of genuine soulfulness spews from the latest eponymous four-track offering by Amy Lynn and The Gun Show, so much so that you could probably get away with conning friends into believing this disc is a remastered collection of gems from days gone by. This nine-piece band champions a bevy of stylistic tricks from Phil Spector’s patented Wall of Sound technique while lead singer Amy accompanied by a proficient duo of backup singers push the Supreme-esque approach to the moon and stars on cuts like the dynamically shapeshifting “My Only One.” Making the most from having the luxury of having nine musicians working in unison, Amy Lynn and The Gun Show produce an organically enriched musical experience that sizzles with snappy melodies and shimmying rhythms where modern pop sass, old school AM radio R&B and classic soul collide. www.amylynnandthegunshow.comMike SOS

FAUST: FROM GLORY TO INFINITY

Displaying a dastardly dichotomy of tumultuous technicality and savage bludgeoning, the latest nine-track offering from veteran unit Faust demonstrates the barrage of intense and involved guitar runs, unearthly vocal growls, blazing tempos and cascading melodies that helps to round out this seasoned crew’s multifaceted evil attack (“Carnal Beattitude”). Emitting a enriched and refined aura while blasphemously blasting the masses with the type of hellaciously hate-filled vitriol heard on cuts like “Golden Wine Countess”, this band pounds out aggression with a sense of progression at the forefront of their blistering assault, interchanging dynamic musical interplay with dramatic atmospheric swings that masterfully captures the wicked grace and grave glory of the pioneers of death metal in their heyday. www.paragonrecords.orgMike SOS

POWER PELLUT: POWER PELLUT

Louisiana sludge trio Power Pellut mix Am Rep style vocal barks with a slew of fuzzed out Eyehategod-esque viscosity to comprise its eponymous six-song swampy sojourn. Solely released on 180g vinyl and limited to a 500 copy run, this uniquely presented offering specializes with an amps cranked to 11 ballistic rhythmic explosiveness seemingly derived from endless hours of jamming in the studio with the bloodshot intent to crush all in its path firmly at the forefront of the mission.  Not unlike fellow purveyors of dissonance such as Melvins, Unsane, and Black Sabbath, Power Pellut’s purge to plod provides a skull-rattling good time for those who choose to take their metal with a side of ugly. www.imbetterthaneveryonerecords.comMike SOS

amazon midnight fistfightMIDNIGHT FISTFIGHT: THE MAIN EVENT

NYC’s Midnight Fistfight recall a time when denim and leather was the uniform and the attitude was fast and loose on their Sunset Strip soaked five-track debut The Main Event. Equipped with a gritty guitar tandem whose nimble fretwork and on the money Guns ‘n Roses and Skid Row by way of AC/DC and Faster Pussycat riffs (“My Cocaine”) gel with lead vocalist Dan Pyro’s Dionysian lyrical double entendres and credible cock rock delivery (“Booze & Bitches”), earning this offering an all access pass back to the glory days of arena rock and hair metal’s excesses and successes. www.myspace.com/midnightfistfightrulesMike SOS

KRUM BUMS: SAME OLD STORY

Austin, TX punk quintet Krum Bums return with its high-energy attack and sinister snarl fully intact on Same Old Story. This six-track affair authentically exudes punk’s rebellious nature without sacrificing melody on cuts like “Sons of Nothing” and the street punk sing-along “No Apologies” while cranking up the heat in true Krum Bum fashion on the rapid-fire “Coliseum,” satisfying all ends of the genre’s spectrum with an angst-ridden  punk-metal powderkeg ready to explode. www.tkorecords.comMike SOS

THRONEUM: DEATHCULT CONSPIRACY

Polish blackened death metal troupe Throneum exhibit a nefariously necromantic blend of Celtic Frost, Possessed, Sepultura, Entombed, and Obituary on their nine-track descent into the catacombs entitled Deathcult Conspiracy. Raw and relentless, this disc’s fitting murky production, maniacal and ferocious vocal performance (“Rituals of Fire and Sulphur”) evil arrangements (“His Shadow”) and sturdy guitar riffs and fills are far from groundbreaking yet hypnotize with a catastrophic cadence whose blasphemous brutality and unabashed underground approach is bound to earn points for those who choose to embrace the sunless universe (“Wizzard’s Testimony”). www.paganrecords.plMike SOS

WHILE HEAVEN WEPT: VAST OCEANS LACHRYMOSE

A histrionic strand of sorrowful and forlorn progressive metal comes courtesy of seasoned sextet While Heaven Wept and their latest disc Vast Oceans Lachrymose. This veteran unit’s six year in the making melancholic collection features discernibly less epic doom than previous works while showcasing pervasive Dream Theater-esque melodic flair with Fates Warning-like lengthy instrumental passages. The band stunningly pulls off this graceful shift in styles without completely extinguishing their once dominant doom-laden flame (“Living Sepulchre”), surely a relieving thought for longtime followers. Boldly using the wide array elements in their vast arsenal to form a grandiose strain of majestic yet somber metal falling squarely between Katatonia and Solitude Aeternus, While Heaven Wept display elegant and forward-thinking metal at its best. www.cruzdelsurmusic.comMike SOS

amazon destroTHE DESTRO: HARMONY OF DISCHORD

Proud to proclaim a breakdown band they are not, Dallas, TX squad The Destro instead opt to unleash brutal barrages of thrashy and sludgy death metal on latest release Harmony of Dischord. Containing nine-tracks of non-stop teeth-gnashing groove-laden metallic goodness, this quartet strikes with Carcass-esque precision (“Angel Killer”), dastardly deathcore rage (“Thorns of Truth”) and a boatload of southern-fried by way of Sweden downtuned guitar licks that wouldn’t sound out of place in a jam between Exhorder, Meshuggah, Exodus and Down (“Mouth of the Heretic”). Yielding a one-dimensional yet utterly punishing entity, this troupe pushes levels to the brink of disaster (“Persistence of Ignorance”) truly revitalizing an extreme aura back into modern extreme metal. www.metalblade.comMike SOS

HELEN MONEY: IN TUNE

Alison Chesley uses her creativity, an effects board or two and a cello to make music on Helen Money’s sophomore effort In Tune. This captivating and unique offering dishes out nine unorthodox compositions whose brooding metallic base and overcast experimental flourishes rival those championed by the current crop of post metal acts (“Untitled”) and wouldn’t sound out of place as a score to a quirky indie flick (“Waterwalk”). Uneasy by design and deceptively chilling yet hauntingly memorable (“Too Heavy”), this disc exhibits the sonic might, foreboding darkness, and crushing heft a cello is capable of when put into the hands of a performer with an adventurous mind, a boundless spirit, and a rock ‘n roll soul. www.tableoftheelements.comMike SOS

DYSE: LIEDER SIND BRUDER DER REVOLUTION

The wildly eclectic two-man rock ‘n roll machine known as Dyse turns discordant punk upside down with the avant-garde 11-track Lieder Sind Bruder Der Revolution. This German duo’s fearless songwriting tactics, sensational use of loud/soft dynamics, tightly wound hardcore guitars (“Supermachineeyeon”), and raucous robot metal outbursts (“Shop Sui”) are likely to be ravished by those who can’t get enough Queens of the Stone Age or Refused. Cuts like “Dysenfischdyse” feature vocalizations salaciously switching between whimsical and brutal while the sinewy swagger of “Trick” and the majestic “Baubaubau” is doused with triumphant trumpets to spice this unit’s bottomless barrage of spastic schizophrenia. Possessing the kind of unbridled passion and boundless ambition that fosters repeated listens, Dyse’s latest release is a perfect choice for disaffected listeners who clamor for their heavy music to go beyond genre norms. www.mainstreamrecords.deMike SOS

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Mike SOS is a frequent contributor and great friend to the Gears of Rock. Be sure to check out Mike SOS’ bands Seizure Crypt and SOS. They will rock your balls off!

Review: W.A.S.P. – Babylon [2009]

amazon waspFriends, countrymen, and Tipper F*cking Gore, it is time to once again lend W.A.S.P. your ears in the most undivided of manner. Blackie Lawless and company return to deliver another powerful onslaught of classic heavy metal on Babylon.

As you already know, when an album’s subject matter centers around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an exciting rock exhibition is only imminent.

First off, this record is certainly an improvement from 2007’s politically driven Dominator,  however a blistering cover of Deep Purple’s “Burn” from the Dominator sessions has been resurrected for Babylon. It is not quite as awesome, as their classic interpretation of The Who’s “The Real Me,” but still a great track.

Of the nine tracks, “Into The Fire,” “Godless Run,” and “Crazy” are the best, emitting darkened rays of bestial bliss at every bar. “Babylon’s Burning” and “Live To Die Another Die” are sure to be fan favorites serving up some classic 80’s flare, as well as the fist-pounding “Seas of Fire.”

The 44-minute running time is perfect, as most albums these days are far too long, and that practice does not accommodate the realities of our A.D.D. infested planet of today. Another commendation is that this album contains a strong ending in “Promised Land,” an upbeat Chuck Berry cover.

Babylon represents yet another solid year-ending release, which makes me wonder: where were all of the good hard rock records hiding during the first nine months of 2009? -Meds

3.5 StarsW.A.S.P. is Blackie Lawless (Vocals/Guitars), Doug Blair (Guitars), Mike Duda (Bass/Vocals), & Mike Dupke (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Crazy”
  2. “Live To Die Another Day”
  3. “Babylon’s Burning”
  4. “Burn”
  5. “Into The Fire”
  6. “Thunder Red”
  7. “Seas of Fire”
  8. “Godless Run”
  9. “Promised Land”

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