Monthly Archives: March 2010

Track Review: Stone Temple Pilots "Between The Lines" Stone Temple Pilots [2010]

Stone Temple Pilots present a stinky heap of rhino feces on their latest single, “Between The Lines,” from the upcoming self-titled release.

It sounds like Scott Weiland and company were going for a brilliantly crude hard rock sound, similar to their classic album Tiny Music.  Unfortunately, the less than 3 minute track misses that mark, almost entirely.

The drum beat is exhaustively repetitive, and not in the likes of “Vasoline’s” awesome redundancy, but flat-out boring.

Conceptually, “Between The Lines” is not Weiland’s best.  The content focuses around the concept of love being the most important part of life even when taking drugs.  The lyrics, in typical STP fashion, offer many drug-inspired images like magic planes, penguins, and smiling crocodiles.

There was a time when Weiland was on his way to becoming one of the greatest frontman of all-time.  His stage swagger and commanding presence put him on path to Jagger-dom.  Perhaps, that day will return but seems unlikely on this effort.

“Between The Lines” is not all bad though.  Guitarist Dean DeLeo provides a silver lining as he delivers a forceful guitar solo that salvages the track from epic failure.

Let’s see what STP has in store on the rest of the album.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ve heard the worst track, or maybe this was the best.  The self-titled release is scheduled to debut on May 25, 2010 on Atlantic Records.

Stone Temple Pilots are Scott Weiland (Vocals), Dean DeLeo (Guitars), Robert DeLeo (Bass), & Eric Kretz (Drums).

Track Review: Deftones "Diamond Eyes" Diamond Eyes [2010]

The title track from the upcoming Deftones record, Diamond Eyes, has surfaced on deftones.com this week.  This single is a heavy and brief ditty suitable for modern rock radio domination.

The chorus melody sounds more like 30 Seconds to Mars than classic Deftones.  However, the monstrous guitars of Stephen Carpentar sludge the track to the end, making up for the aforementioned mediocrity.

Lyrically, Chine Moreno delivers on “Diamond Eyes,” giving the fans another “run away” song in the likes of the band’s breakthrough hit, “Be Quiet and Drive.”

This is one more prominent glimpse into what to expect on Diamond Eyes.  In terms of relative awesomeness and brutality, “Rocket Skates” is a little bit better than the title track.

Deftones are Chino Moreno (Vocals/Guitar), Stephen Carpentar (Guitar), Sergio Vega (Bass), & Abe Cunningham (Drums).

Diamond Eyes comes out May 4, 2010.

Review: Scorpions – Sting in the Tail [2010]

Time to give it up for some more German heavy metal this week on Gears of Rock with Sting in the Tail from the legendary Scorpions.  The latest studio effort is a 12 track affair that goes heavy on the sting and light on the filler as it clocks in at about 44 minutes.

I’m not going to lie to you here.  The riffs and progressions push no boundaries.  This is pure 80’s hard rock.  It is predictable, catchy, and yet irresistible.

The best tunes on the album are the ballad and closer “The Best is Yet to Come” and the poppier sounding “Slave Me.”  Even the cheesy opener “Raised on Rock” is a solid track even though I feel like Saxon accomplished the feel better with last year’s “Live to Rock.”

“Turn You On” opens with a “We’re Not Gonna Take It” drum vibe before taking on its own unique 70’s rock feel.  “Lorelei” is the heartbreak tune and “Rock Zone” serves infectious rake guitar riffs.

The title track is a good song once it gets going, however, parts of it remind me way too much of something that the alternative geek rock band, Weezer, would have put on the Green Album (yuck!).

The Scorpions are still alive and stinging on their latest.  You can bet that I’ll be looking forward to the US tour this summer.

The Scorpions are Klaus Meine (Lead Vocals), Matthias Jabs (Lead Guitar), Rudolf Schenker (Rhythm Guitar), Paweł Mąciwoda (Bass), & James Kottak (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Raised on Rock”
  2. “Sting in the Tail”
  3. “Slave Me”
  4. “The Good Die Young (feat. Tarja Turunen)”
  5. “No Limit”
  6. “Rock Zone”
  7. “Lorelei”
  8. “Turn You On”
  9. “Let’s Rock”
  10. “SLY”
  11. “Spirit of Rock”
  12. “The Best Is Yet to Come”

amazon.comofficial sitewikipedia

Review: Gamma Ray – To The Metal [2010]

German power metal week continues here on the Gears of Rock with the latest release from Gamma Ray titled To The Metal.  The melodic unit offers 10 tracks that go heavy on the groove while maintaining a fierce thrash sound.

“Time to Live” features a sweet guitar riff throughout its intro before taking on a feel similar to Dio’s “Holy Diver.”

However, in terms of the album’s comparability, it falls more towards the Judas Priest side of the metal spectrum; somewhere between British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance.

The album’s title track brings back classic memories of Steel’s “Grinder” while “Shine Forever” feels like “Painkiller.” That’s enough on the Priest similarities.  “Shine Forever” begins with a sick bass guitar eruption.

To The Metal deserves a special credit to the drumming especially during “All You Need To Know” and “Rise.”  These two tracks are the album’s fist throwing  face pummelers.

“Empathy,” the opening tune employs great Middle-Eastern tone during the guitar solo. Interestingly, or rather confusingly, the drum fills during the track sound like something out of 80’s new wave.

“No Need To Cry” is a reflective piece that closes out the assortment.  It plays like a creepy lullabye but the lyrics are very cliche.

Gamma Ray has produced an album that is a pleasurable experience overall due to its heavy riffs, fast drumming, and eclectic moments.  This is the best German metal album so far this year.

Gamma Ray is Kai Hansen (Vocals/Guitars), Henjo Richter (Guitars/Keyboards), Dirk Schlächter (Bass), & Dan Zimmerman (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Empathy”
  2. “All You Need to Know”
  3. “Time To Live”
  4. “To The Metal”
  5. “Rise”
  6. “Mother Angel”
  7. “Shine Forever”
  8. “Deadlands”
  9. “Chasing Shadows”
  10. “No Need To Cry”

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Review: Helloween – Unarmed: Best of 25th Anniversary [2010]

Classic German power metal group, Helloween, offers new twists on classic cuts on Unarmed: Best of 25th Anniversary.  Some of the bands favorite tracks have been rerecorded with new arrangements that display anything but heavy metal.

Most of the tracks incorporate a feel similar to 80’s adult contemporary radio hits in the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon. The band employs saxophones, jazzy beats, and acoustic guitars to the nth degree while maintaining their signature operatic styled vocals.  The opening track “Dr. Stein” as well as “Eagle Fly Free” featuring Hellsong’s Harriet Ohlsson exemplify these characteristics well.

The two high points of the disc are the 17-minute “The Keeper’s Trilogy (Medley)” and the sexy girl (Yesenia Adame) wielding a cello on the album’s cover.  “The Keeper’s Trilogy (Medley)” features both an evil and joyous feel while maneuvering through old favorites “Halloween,” “Keeper of the Seven Keys,” and “The King For a 1000 Years.”  The best element of this epic journey is the work of the Prague Symphonic Orchestra.  If you enjoy Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Christmas Eve then you would enjoy this one on Helloween.

The album’s major flaw is the under-utilization of the electric guitar, or rather the non-existent utilization of the electric guitar.  Another problem I had was the mix during the early songs of the record.  There is a lot of slurring sounds between the vocals and the high hats.

All in all, Unarmed is a fun listen for the band’s long time fans.  It is not a heavy metal album and does not offer any spectacular breakthrough performances.  In one line, this record is Fantasia meets Phantom of the Opera. If that is your thing, then enjoy. Did I mention the hot girl on the cover?

Helloween is Andi Deris (Vocals), Michael Weikath (Guitar), Sascha Gerstner (Guitar), Markus Grosskopf (Bass), & Dani Löble (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Dr. Stein”
  2. Future World”
  3. “If I Could Fly”
  4. “Where the Rain Grows”
  5. “The Keeper’s Trilogy”
  6. “Eagle Fly Free”
  7. “Perfect Gentleman”
  8. “Forever And One (Neverland)”
  9. “I Want Out”
  10. “Fallen to Pieces”
  11. “A Tale that Wasn’t Right”
  12. “Why”

amazon.comofficial sitewikipedia.com

Track Review: Asia "Finger on the Trigger" Omega [2010]

80’s progressive supergroup Asia administers “Finger on the Trigger,” a spanking new ambrosial treat from their upcoming album Omega.

The single and future album opener features commanding lead vocals from bassist John Wetton and the smoldering guitars of Steve Howe. “Finger on the Trigger” has a drive that contains a contentious edge from the opening note due to the heavy beat employed by drummer Carl Palmer.

Since this track is a rocker, Geoff Downes’ keyboards take a back seat for much of the song which is a responsible and, of course, a veteran move.  Omega will be the follow-up to the reunited band’s 2008 effort Phoenix which placed the band back on the Billboard 200 for the first time since 1985.

Asia is John Wetton (Bass/Lead Vocals), Geoff Downes (Keyboards/Backing Vocals), Steve Howe (Guitar/Backing Vocals), & Carl Palmer (Drums).

SOS Metal Reviews: Orphaned Land, Mnemic, AM Conspiracy, and more…

ORPHANED LAND: THE NEVER ENDING WAY OF ORWARRIOR

Israel’s Orphaned Land dazzles the senses and gives a bang for your buck with their latest 15-track offering. This unit’s multi-faceted metallic approach contains an abundance of ingrained native musical influences with genuine instrumentation intertwined with a progressive mix of ornate death metal underpinned with elegant epic power metal tendencies a la Nightwish. Weaving intricate guitarwork and a meticulous percussive attack into complex tapestries bursting with world beat rhythms and cascading melodic metal hooks (“New Jerusalem”), this squad’s solid metal attack and authentic nationalistic appeal yield a chameleon-esque release for fans of metal with an ethnic flair to thoroughly enjoy. www.centurymedia.comMike SOS

NORIEGA: DESOLO

Scouring the bottom of the barrel to gather the filthiest and nastiest metallic sounds possible, Los Angeles quartet Noriega punishes past the threshold of safety by delivering an abrasive five-track offering titled DESOLO. Merging the bowel-shaking bombastic breakdowns from metalcore’s heavyweight acts, forward thinking hardcore’s spastic irregularities and foreboding auras from doom metal’s highest ranked harbingers of nihilism, this sludgy squad produces a cavalcade of viscous tones driven into your skull with a belligerent bark brimming with despair steering the entire affair into murky malevolence. Showcasing a fair amount of Meshuggah, Eyehategod, and The Acacia Strain trickery as an influence while stamping their own jostling jazz metal footprint, Noriega’s apocalyptic anger-ridden anthems dole out an insufferable amount of aggression that will leave welts on your ear canals. www.viablerecords.comMike SOS

VTT: SYMPTOMS OF SIN

VTT display a versatile hard rock style that spans a few decades on their nine-track affair. Pumping out modern metal melodies a la Trivium with an electronic pulse not unlike that of Mudvayne or Static X (“Never Died Before”) while retaining the classic rage of acts like WASP (“You’re My Punishment”), this troupe’s cavalcade of strong riffs is sprinkled with a bevy of intriguing acoustic flourishes (“Looking For Serenity”, “Deleted Scenes”) providing the album a proper foundation that supports its constant switches in mood and atmosphere. Developing a style where Nu metal immediacy collides with metalcore’s rhythmic chug yet doesn’t forget to consult the vintage blueprint from where both were spawned, VTT’s gritty sensibilities and memorable hooks hit hard and are bound to leave an impression on anyone with an ear for the sound of today’s aggression. –Mike SOS

SONS OF AZRAEL: SCOUTING THE BONEYARD

Blasting down the gates with cartoon sense of blasphemy and gore and a skillful set of extreme metal chops to back up the frivolity, Sons of Azrael let loose with a barrage of dastardly black metal with a Swedish death metal twist that is competent but relies too much on traditional treadmill ideas and the modern cut and paste cookie cutter card to be considered a cut above. Despite a rash of demonic dive-bomb riffs and scorching rhythms with a proper death croak growlingly guiding the affair, the sophomoric splatterhouse vibe is a tough one to shake, rendering this disc a durable quick fix that reveals a fair share of Emperor, Immortal and Entombed influence. www.metalblade.comMike SOS

WHITE WIZZARD: OVER THE TOP

Carefully dissecting the NWOBHM spirit, White Wizzard displays a knack for classic metal tones and structures on their latest nine-track offering. This unit stepped up with a pronounced early Maiden street punk vibe running through their high-octane compositions while a tasty Thin Lizzy-like twin guitar interplay and top-notch bass presence (“High Roller”) keeps the inevitable histrionic clichés away from teetering towards glam rock grandiosity, opting to stay somewhere in between Manowar, Motorhead, and Mercyful Fate. Presenting a well-versed set of metal influences ranging from power metal fury to classic metal grace dispersed throughout, there’s enough variety in the traditional songwriting and arrangements to warrant repeat listens despite blatant attempts to recreate the glory days of the initial denim and leather era. Demonstrating the audacity to namecheck themselves in their own songs, White Wizzard  confidence level is pretty high but they earn the right. by doling out an array of mammoth metal chops with a convincing vengeance to back it up. www.earache.comMike SOS

ARSIS: STARVE FOR THE DEVIL

STARVE FOR THE DEVIL marks the return of technical thrash outfit Arsis to the fold and the Virginia-based band wastes little time to proclaim an exhilarating comeback from the opening strains of “Forced to Rock”, a full-throttle thrash anthem with intricate musical interludes nestled within. Destroying all speakers with their vitriolic riff and piledriving rhythms combinations (“Sick Perfection”) while band leader James Malone slices and dices his six-string machine with a shredding virtuoso style and delivers venomous vocal shrapnel to boot (“Escape Artist”), there’s no denying that this group can light it up at a moment’s notice when their Swedish melodeath predisposition kicks in at full force (“From Soulless To Shattered (Art In Dying)”, “Beyond Forlorn”). Arsis succeeds in whipping up a dexterity-driven 10-track adventure giving fans complex arrangements and pounding aggression with a comprehensive understanding of the genre that allows this squad to stand out amongst modern thrash metal’s elite acts. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS

LIQUID DIVINE: AUTOPHOBIA

Germany’s Liquid Divine is a EBM project with a plethora of darkwave elements that allows this 12 track collection to tear up the dance floor with dramatic synths and Peter Murphy-esque vocals leading the charge (“Sojourner”). Mixing in some robot rock with a dramatic edge not unlike the merger of New Order and Kraftwerk (“Comagirl”), this shadowy and sinewy release resonates with jabs of electronic throb and layers of haunting atmosphere that will make you groove in the dark recesses of your mind (“Planet Zoo”). www.metropolisrecords.comMike SOS

HYDROVIBE: NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE

Explosive yet formulaic female fronted hard rock comes courtesy of Hydrovibe and their latest 15-track excursion NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE. Bolstered by a massive production value that beefs their brand of commercially savvy rock ‘n roll up considerably, the snarling guitar drive and revisited nu metal rhythms leave a modern radio rock impression while the impassioned vocals are steady and packed with power (“No Fury”), rarely missing a moment to accentuate without going overboard (“Suture”). Featuring a pristine polish with a down and dirty approach that displays all the tools needed to rock out arenas (“Savior”), Hydrovibe meshes a menagerie of modern rock tones with a penchant for writing memorable choruses and down home melodies, developing a brand of larger than life hard rock with enough of their own identity intact to sit snugly between Evanescence and In This Moment. www.hydrovibe.comMike SOS

BARNBURNER: BANGERS

A rumble of ‘70s heavy metal thunder comes courtesy of Montreal’s Barnburner and their gnarly 11-track disc BANGERS. This four-piece unit kicks out the jams with a stoner rock pretense fuzzing out the entire affair (“Half Past Haggard”), at times sounding like a hybrid of middle-era COC, Baroness, Clutch, Every Time I Die and CKY. Swampy blues cranked to 11 and a classic metal swagger are the backbone of this band’s heavy boogie stomp, showcased on tracks like “Medium Rare” and the Thin Lizzy meets Pantera inspired “Brohemoth”, but Barnburner hurl a couple of stylistic curveballs out within the disc that add the necessary spice to give their organically-grown groove-laden heavy music approach a wide-ranging crossover appeal that transcends across decades. www.metalblade.comMike SOS

LESION: SENIORS BALL

NYC by way of Germany rock act Lesion have enjoyed much underground and indie success from their brash musical adventures, live performance mash-ups and raucous film escapades, yet this time it’s their latest 10-track album SENIORS BALL that gets the spotlight. Ripe with punk rock chaos (“The Witch’s Tit”) and an early new wave edge with an unorthodox shock metal foundation, imagine Danzig collaborating with the B 52’s (“Back of the Shed”) or Devo jamming with System of a Down (“So Well, Oh Well”) with a dramatic flair and over the top theatrical vibe reminiscent of early Alice Cooper wrapped in a combustible package ready to unravel at any given moment.  This fearless troupe’s versatile knowledge of heavy music from Queen to The Dead Boys to AC/DC (“Jump Ramp”) and horror-movie lyrical topics project a vivid first-hand picture of what living in Lesion’s debauchery-laden land of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll excess is like. www.lesionallevil.comMike SOS

AETERNAM: DISCIPLES OF THE UNSEEN

Montreal’s Aeternam adapt many different forms of metal into cohesive blend of their own for the duration of 10-track endeavor. From symphonic keyboard neatly tucked into the mix to bludgeoning metalcore breakdowns to black metal growls and shrills to touches of dazzling musicianship to modern metal’s cleansed choruses, this group strikes with a force whose familiar furies can easily be traced back to influences such as Swedish melodeath (“Ouroboros”), even going as far to throw in a pinch of ethnic flair to render a different Nile-esque slant (“Iteru”). Retaining a majestic death metal presence isn’t easy, yet this crew switches up styles without losing an ounce of might, slashing and burning a mix of At the Gates, Dark Funeral, and Vader through speakers that forms a credible effort with a tenacious warmongering spirit. www.aeternum.comMike SOS

INDYUS: ASHES OF DYSTOPIA

Austrian death metal quartet Indyus have cultivated their sound in a live setting, having played over 90 shows throughout Europe before heading into the recording studio, and this type of precision is apparent on their debut 10-track full-length ASHES OF DYSTOPIA. Shards of Obituary, Deicide, Moonspell, and Napalm Death can be felt flying overhead as this band strives to resurrect the old school aura of fast beats and pounding rhythmic punishment with a barrage of wild guitar solos and a menacing guttural throat at the forefront of the mayhem. Despite some cheesy production work, this 10-track endeavor’s hard hitting retreads carry an early death metal eagerness to destroy, assisting every borrowed nuance from dive-bomb solo to tribal percussive strike in registering with resonance on this spirited but scattershot offering. www.indyus.netMike SOS

AM CONSPIRACY: AM CONSPIRACY

Former Drowning Pool vocalist Jason “Gong” Jones returns with AM Conspiracy and the quintet’s eponymous 14-track excursion. Meshing the heavy accessibility of Gong’s past group with an arena-rock immensity championed by the likes of Godsmack and Disturbed, this troupe dials in the middle of the road paint by numbers hard rock formula as a template for their multi-faceted grungy modern rock meets nu-metal assault (“Myself”, “Far”). Brazen with an exceptionally in your face bass performance, intense guitars that take a page or two from Sevendust here and there and a vocal style that can rip out a roar as easily as croon with convincing emotion (“Down”), even though much of their presentation is bogged-down with derivations straight from the commercial rock carousel featuring Shinedown, Soil, and Saliva to be considered mandatory listening, AM Conspiracy’s songwriting techniques seem custom made for today’s rock radio in mind and prove durable enough to go toe to toe with any other band on the circuit. www.burnhillunion.comMike SOS

FACE VALUE: RIDE HARD PUT AWAY WET CLEVO HC ’89-93

Digging through the archives to document their stint as hardcore go-to band of the Midwest, Cleveland, OH’s Face Value exhibit a prolific span of activity from 1989 to 1993 on this 31-track CD and live performance DVD collection. Taking songs from all of their releases and sharing video footage that ranges from crude to surprisingly crisp from their countrywide treks, this compilation serves to remember the salad days of the DIY scene from the perspective of an unruly squad of dudes with unbridled energy who thrived in a live setting with a songbook that bridged the gap between punk, crossover, and hardcore and is recommended for enthusiasts to give a spin. www.smogveil.comMike SOS

THE DEADLYZ: THE DEADLYZ

NYC quartet The Deadlyz play a brand of rock best falling into the garden-variety modern metal category, as they boast the beefy bottom end and stinging riffs of bands like Staind with soccer-stadium cheering choruses of Papa Roach with the underlying brash attitude that a band earns from beating the streets of the Big Apple apart to make their distinct heavy melodic concoction. This four-track sampler demonstrates a Buckcherry on steroids vocal presence (“Take It”) with the salvo of explosive grooves, gritty rhythms and dirty riffs working together to get the job done (“Poisoned”). But it all comes crashing to a complete halt with “Cut You”, the band’s shameless attempt to impact hit radio in the form of an overwrought and awkward ballad. Nonetheless, The Deadlyz are pretty tight when they keep it away from conformity and are a reliable unit to choose when you need the music that helps you rear back and push the pedal to the metal. www.thedeadlyz.comMike SOS

MNEMIC: SONS OF THE SYSTEM

Opinions on Danish metal troupe Mnemic are definitely divided amongst the metal community, as this squad either rates at the top of fan’s best in the world list or are labeled as offenders of the worst rip-off scheme in recent memory. While the unit’s modern metallic mash-up is sanitized to specifications and comes off as a bit too cleansed for its own good for those who can’t stomach the newer versions of metal, there are points on this 11-track disc that demonstrate undeniable melodic mastery intertwined within an all-too familiar Devin Townsend meets Soilwork by way of Meshuggah thought process actually rendering a nifty sense of soaring pop music catchiness that you’d be hard-pressed not to hum as you walk down the street (“March of the Tripods”, “Diesel Uterus”). Unfortunately, Mnemic’s cheesy clasp on industrial-tinged progressive metal produces an overload of messy polyrhythmic mish-moshes, overblown keyboards and jarring stylistic clashes whose blatant attempts to synthetically force square pegs into round holes misfires more than hits the bulls eye. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS

A FAMILY PLOT: A FAMILY PLOT

A Family Plot is a NYC based quartet that supplies an intriguing amalgamation of indie rock splendor on their six-track self-titled disc. Fueled by a damning darkened twang pulled straight from the prairie, this troupe of skilled players (featuring members of Candiria) have created a unique musical pulse fusing secrets from the shadows of NYC streets with desperation from the heartland. Fortified with hunks of gut-wrenching post-hardcore twists and a sly Goth rock by way of Americana sensibility (“If I Only Knew”), this band teeters the line between rock and country more than you’d expect a band of city slickers to but ventures into wondrous layers of chilling melody through it all (“Till It Bleeds”), striking the nerve between the outlaw hardcore of Poison the Well, the boozy blues of a Desert Session and the technical prowess of Coheed and Cambria. www.afamilyplot.netMike SOS

VULTUS: VULTUS

Vultus is a NYC sludge metal band at heart whose three-track effort reveals a predilection for classic metal pretense and haunting doom tempos turned sideways via a bevy of hardcore dissonance and swampy Sabbath-esque rhythmic grooves. Meshing Iron Maiden, Lamb of God, and Goatsnake sounds like a mess, yet Vultus pull off a middle ground of moshpit majesty subdued by a side of sinewy stoner rock, complete with tasty lead guitar breaks, bare-knuckle drumming, and volatile vocal screams and wails. Blending metal genres into a thick and thunderous concoction of undeniable power, Vultus provide a shape-shifting heaviness that blends quite an intriguing concoction of metallic power. www.vultusnyc.comMike SOS

XP8: DROP THE MASK

Rome, Italy’s hard electronic unit XP8 keeps the dance-floor immersed with a sensual sweat on the duo’s latest 13-track offering DROP THE MASK. Fortified with an electric pulsating beat perfect fit to be played in a dark and smoky environment (“Born Dead”), this techno squad retains its audio authority to keep the crowd moving (“Out of Control”) yet demonstrates an ominous vibe that permeating throughout  each track on the entire affair (“Blind”, “Want It”), adding a refined mystique to their darkened throb approach and overall brooding atmosphere (“Our Time (pt II)”). www.metropolisrecords.comMike SOS

BONA TO VADA: BONA TO VADA

Queens, NY quartet Bona to Vada pull off a pleasing pack of punchy pop-rock tunes on their eponymous four-track offering. Sounding like a cross between The Smiths, REM, and Death Cab for Cutie, this band maintains an edgy guitar jangle and a bustling rhythm section (“Hormones”) while the jaded vocal melodies echo a slightly angst-ridden post-punk sentiment (“Heaven or Below”) and the lead guitar pours copious lines of syrupy melodic goodness. Solid across the board and bolstered with an excellent production that reveals every snazzy drum lick and undercurrent of xylophone, Bona to Vada display an uncanny propensity to successfully create a somber and shimmering blend of rock ‘n roll. www.bonatovida.comMike SOS

BALACLAVA: SHAME

On latest four-track offering SHAME, crusty Richmond, VA punk metal troupe Balaclava steamrolls over the competition with an underlying feeling of grime oozing from every one of the quartet’s thick twin guitar riffs and muscular multi-vocalist’s roar. Exuding a forward-thinking hardcore mindset armed with the musical acumen to whip up a soothing interlude before lapsing into sweet sounds of savagery (“Shame”), this unit’s delightful d-beat damnations carry the power to shatter eardrums and propel the pit into a tizzy. If you dig Tragedy and Cursed, this album is chock full of the downshifting debauchery and anarchistic tendencies you crave. www.forcefieldrecords.orgMike SOS

REVENANT DEAD: TWO EVILS

Versatile UK metal troupe Revenant Dead unloads a bountiful blend of heavy styles on their 11-track sophomore effort TWO EVILS. Armed with an overpowering modern metal stance that slyly delves into darker areas on the metal spectrum with an emphasis for destruction, everything from black and industrial to Goth punk and symphonic death metal take part in this quartet’s potent equation to create a band that the band themselves wants to see and hear (“Severance”). With a perpetual black cloud seemingly hanging overhead at all times, this band weaves an ornate tapestry enriched with solid melodies and bursts of clever interludes ridden with a majestic multi-faceted attack of suspenseful shifts in mood and atmosphere. Ever think what a bastardized combination of Dimmu Borgir, Danzig, System of a Down and Sisters of Mercy would sound like? Wonder no more, as that is just a fraction of the type of hybrid concoctions Revenant Dead develops, truly supplying a flair for the dark and dramatic. www.revenantdead.comMike SOS

SOCIAL STANDARDS: NOT SO FAST

Five tracks of hyper-speed punk metal graced with unexpected twists and turns galore is what NY trio Social Standards specialize in on NOT SO FAST. Schizophrenic and volatile vocals collide with a three-prong nimble guitar, hulking hardcore punk bass and technically sound and tenacious drum attack while oodles of unorthodox influences from ska to death metal meander in and out of this hybrid display of spastic rock (“Out of Luck”). Fusing the brevity of punk, the adventure of progressive rock, and colossal clobbering nature of metal, Social Standards present a confrontational and cathartic whirlwind release whose in your face tendencies and cohesive chaos leaves a lasting impression that fans of Fugazi, Propagandhi, and Strung Out will surely appreciate. www.myspace.com/socialstandardzMike SOS

KILLING TIME: THREE STEPS BACK

After a lengthy hiatus from releasing new material, seminal NYHC unit Killing Time returns with a brand new studio album, the 12-track THREE STEPS BACK. Settling in back where it all began some 21 years ago (drummer Anthony Drago’s parents’ garage) before hitting the studio, this offering reflects what an assured band’s delivery of a genre they helped to found should sound like, as songs such as “Mingus” and “Lookout” showcase the reliable slash and burn burly style that doesn’t try and be something that it’s not just to get over (“Inheritance”). In fact, this collection rarely deviates from the slamming bass lines, gruff matter of fact vocal confrontations (“Crouch”), and melodic guitar chugs (“Rope a Dope”) that made Killing Time such a revered entity in the worldwide punk and hardcore sect alongside Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, and Sick of it All. Genuinely resonating an underlying raw sound while liberally building new jams from old school schematics, Killing Time’s latest disc is an unapologetic and rugged affair that could easily be mistaken for something from the band’s vintage era, a testament to the stark strength and gutwrenching honesty of the songs on this triumphant comeback release. www.deadcityrecords.comMike SOS

VALKYRJA: CONTAMINATION

Swedish black metal mob Valkyrja return hot on the heels of Metal Blade’s re-release of the THE INVOCATION OF DEMISE with another whirlwind of blistering black metal entitled CONTAMINATION. This misanthropic 10-track entity showcases this Scandinavian squad’s rekindled relentless intensity, boiling over with an evil intent and summoning a darker set of spirits for this quartet to broadcast their dastardly demonic wrath with (“Welcoming Worms”). Fluctuating between warped tremolo blasts, memorably majestic riffs and powerful and precise guitarwork locking in with a rampaging rhythm section while an aptly suited raspy roar leads the entire punishing processions through creepy catacombs and barren ice fields (“Solstice in Withdrawl”), this troupe’s dead-on black metal belligerence, while easy to trace, is as authentic as it gets. Despite lacking derivation from a checklist of obvious influence’s catalogs, Valkyrja present a durable slab of hostility with the detail-attentive structures and beefed-up songwriting ardently demonstrating a band with a comprehensive understanding of the extreme. www.metalblade.comMike SOS

KILLCODE: TAKING IT ALL

NYC hard rock quintet Killcode are no strangers to the rock scene, as their members have been in many high-profile Big Apple acts prior to their formation. This veteran status, alongside an enriched set of divergent musical tastes, make for a huge-sounding and raucous six-track offering entitled TAKING IT ALL. Merging the swagger of a band commandeering the Sunset Strip with a brazen only in NY attitude, this squad’s radiates a take no prisoners approach containing a surprising array of mass-market friendly melodic moments that trails off the synthetic Nickelback-esque pedestrian path with a rash of distinct twin guitars and a gritty outlaw underbelly which complements the pristine production polish, allowing Killcode a luxury of reaching multiple sets of hard rock listener’s ears.  www.myspace.com/killcodeMike SOS

SECTIONED: PURULENT REALITY

UK death metal merchants Sectioned eschew the genre’s modern nuances, dialing their seven-track affair back towards classic ugly with the vicious tones championed by the pioneers at the forefront of their warmongering charge on PURULENT REALITY. Chock full of depraved death growls (“Village of the Sun”), frenzy-inducing riffs (“Mirrors”), and pulverizing rhythmic hammerings, Sectioned displays a vintage death metal assault that resonates like a buzzsaw blade searing through human bone while blood uncontrollably splatters everywhere. If you yearn for a dash of destructive metal without all of the bells and whistles that cuts right to the chase, Sectioned has got you covered. www.paragonrecords.comMike SOS

NASSAU CHAINSAW: THE ASPHALT CHRONICLES

Everything about NYC outfit Nassau Chainsaw is over the top, from the quartet’s street credible hip-hop meets NYHC by way of industrial metal hybrid sound to their extended live performance that regularly features a crew of suspension artists (known as the Disgraceland) and explosions galore. The troupe’s latest eight-track excursion is bolstered by a trio of heavy-hitting guest spots by Carly Coma, Tim from VOD, and Sal from Sworn Enemy during the first-half of the album, beefing up the overall presentation and giving it a vicious start. From there, Nassau Chainsaw swings towards a discernibly more rap feel, as guitar crunch is swapped for pulsating synthetic rhythms while frontman Razor Tongue spits truths that hit hard. This band is not for everyone and at times their conflicting styles may deter purists from checking it out, but Nassau Chainsaw undeniably provides a spectacle that truly expounds rock ‘n roll’s virtues at their most visceral. www.nassauchainsaw.comMike SOS

IMMOLATION: MAJESTY AND DECAY

Veteran NY disharmonic death metal outfit Immolation returns with a scalding new release, the 12-track MAJESTY AND DECAY. This seasoned quartet once again throws down a volatile blitzkrieg of technical and brutal death metal that builds off the group’s strengths without changing the unit’s complexion a lick, complete with trademark wailing guitars solos, exemplary percussion, and unearthly roaring vocals that seemingly get stronger and better upon every new release. Equipped with a set of superb composition skills and a true passion for doling out captivating rounds of punishing death metal, Immolation’s experimentally-tinged yet focused musicianship truly shines here, while this squad’s penchant to implement off-kilter interludes, unique structures, unorthodox switches, and clever climaxes into its viscous and dissonant viciousness forges their unique extreme music blend past the ordinary into a category where they have few peers. Mind-blowing without being overwhelming and absolutely heavy as fuck, Immolation’s latest collection of death metal supremacy is a triumphant offering from the band and truly essential listening for enthusiasts of the darker edge on the spectrum. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS

ATROCITY SOLUTION: TOMORROW’S TOO LATE

Rambunctious ska-punk crew Atrocity Solution rolls out a treble-charged screeching seven-track offering entitled TOMORROW’S TOO LATE. Meshing the chaotic crunch of bands like Anti-Flag and the Casualties with a flurry of reggae-infused moments (“Scales of Injustice”), this raging Wisconsin quartet still need to overcome some growing pains yet manage to provide enough heartfelt punk charm and solid chops to keep them at the top of the heap, especially if you dearly miss the music of bands such as Operation Ivy. www.myspace.com/atrocitysolution666Mike 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! All of the above releases can be found in our store.

Track Review: Deftones "Rocket Skates" Diamond Eyes [2010]

“Rocket Skates” is a brand new Deftones tune that surfaced in late February.  It is the first single from the upcoming album Diamond Eyes that is due out on May 18.  Unfortunately, injured bassist Chi Cheng is not yet able to resume his duties for this record.  Stepping in for him is Sergio Vega from Quicksand.  Even though Cheng’s bass is not around for the latest material, “Rocket Skates” turns out to be a well-crafted song that is heavy, melodic, ferocious, and beautiful.

The guitar riffs of Stephen Carpentar in the intro and throughout the rest of the single are hypnotizing.  Abe Cunningham establishes a powerful groove on the drums while maintaining a very chill ambiance.  Chino Moreno continues to be one of metal’s most interesting frontman especially from a stylistic perspective.  He owns a voice that he can call his own, a modern day rarity.  Yes, it is very upsetting that Cheng is still recovering from his tragic car accident and could not be part of this, but Vega is probably the best hired gun for the Deftones at the moment.

“Rocket Skates” is a good effort, perhaps the best single since “Minerva” and is absolutely worth the free download at Deftones.com.  Diamond Eyes will certainly be an album to watch for this spring.  Click on the link below to play and own this dangerous concoction of “guns, razors, knives,” wooh!

Deftones is Chino Moreno (Vocals/Guitar), Stephen Carpentar (Guitar), Sergio Vega (Bass), & Abe Cunningham (Drums).

“Rocket Skates” is currently available for free download at deftones.com.

Announced Tour Dates: Iron Maiden and Dream Theater Summer 2010

Tour dates for the Iron Maiden/Dream Theater run are as follows:

June 9 – Superpages.com Center – Dallas, TX

June 11 -The Woodlands – Houston, TX

June 12 – AT&T Center – San Antonio, TX

June 14 – Fiddler’s Green – Denver, CO

June 16 – The Pavilion  – Albuquerque, NM

June 17 – Cricket Wireless Pavilion – Phoenix, AZ

June 19 – San Manuel Amphitheatre – San Bernardino, CA

June 20 – Sleep Train Pavilion – Concord, CA

June 22 – White River Amphitheatre – Auburn, WA

June 24 – General Motors Place – Vancouver, BC

June 26 – Rexall Place – Edmonton, AB

June 29 – Credit Union Centre – Saskatoon, SK

July 3 – Molson Amphitheatre – Toronto, ON

July 11 – PNC Bank Arts Center – Holmdel, NJ

July 12 – Madison Square Garden – New York, NY

July 14 – Post Gazette Pavilion – Pittsburg, PA

July 15 – Blossom Music Center – Cleveland, OH

July 17 – DTE Energy Music Theatre – Detroit, MI

July 18 – First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre – Chicago, IL

July 20 – Nissan Pavilion – Washington, DC

Source: http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/news/Dream-Theater-To-Tour-With-Iron-Maiden-This-Summer-21029.aspx?utm_source=exacttarget&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dreamtheaterironmaiden