Music Reviews: DECEMBER 2005

Orange Hat," Ponytail" (Cringe)
Orange Hat is back! Well, maybe not with a full-length CD, but the 4 songs on PONYTAIL are truly a pure adrenaline jolt for the listener who wants to reach power-pop psychedelic nirvana in a mere 4 songs! Gone are the authentic '60s-sounding keyboards of Kenny Howes…and while I really miss those, the added guitar of Lee Flier more than makes up for their absence. In fact, Lee's Beatlesque guitar fills and leads pushes Orange Hat's music to a new level to a sort of Merseyside-psychedelia. "Snooze Button" has a solo John Lennon meets solo George Harrison psychedelic vibe that is really cool. Of course there are the trademark clever Orange Hat lyrics. This CD really makes you salivate for more from Orange Hat!

The packaging merits special mention with a 3-D cover reminiscent of the Stones "Satanic Majesties" and a scratch-and-sniff on the back! Who says the good old days of great packaging are gone?
www.orangehat.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Ronnie


Consumption,"Out Of The Ashes" (Indie Release)
This three piece outfit formed in late 2002. After a year of steady shows they spent the next year in studios trying to define and refine their sound. In 2005 they emerged from a year long hiatus to record this EP. “Out Of The Ashes” has received considerable college airplay in the U.S. and Canada. Their sound is a bit sparse at times which is refreshing because it gives the songs room to breathe. Fronted by Gina Turner who sounds like a mix of Shirley Manson of Garbage and Patti Smith with a little Suzanne Vega thrown in for good measure. I especially liked the Police flavored song “After The Last” and the full out feel of “Lights Out”.
www.consumptionmusic.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Glovebox,"Glovebox" (Baria Records)
Think Macy Gray fronting a techno band. This Australian band sounds like a funky disco band from the seventies with a beatbox at times and a polished Mariah Carey production at others. “Superstar” is about as much fun as you can have without cracking up at the stupid dance moves it evokes. “Flying Free” takes a trip into Madonna style dance hit territory. Other songs worthy of a special mention are “The Girl I Love (Black & White Mix)”, “Serendipity”, “The Human Condition” and “$10 Whore”. If dance mixes are your thing then Glovebox has your number.
www.glovebox.net.au
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Think Of 3,"Dawn Of A New Day" (Indie Release)
Early eighties hard rock with new wave tinges. Loads of guitar fret cadet acrobatics, keyboard riffing and Rush style fills from some sort of drum machine. Don’t take this wrong, this is pretty good it’s just that it’s about twenty years late or maybe there’s a second coming on the horizon that I’m unaware of. Musicly speaking of course. If you still have bands like Men At Work, Flock Of Seagulls, Kansas, Toto, Duran Duran and Journey in your collection then I’d say Think Of 3 is right up your alley. Oh yeah, this is a concept album that seems to have a heavy Christian tone. Again, nothing wrong with that, just stating what’s offered.
www.thinkof3.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Tony Travalini,"Silence & Obscurity" (Peasant)
After recording two rock n’ roll albums with All The Rage back in the ‘90’s, Travalini decided to go for a more laid back approach with this album. A collection of intimate songs with a much quieter acoustic feel is what Mr. Travalini offers up on “Silence & Obscurity”. Proving himself to be a credible songwriter may have not been his goal but it’s exactly what he did. Songs like “Broken Promises”, “Filling Up The Days” and “Leave This Town” show what he’s made of and capable of creating as a songwriter. For fans of Springsteen, Dylan and the such.
www.tonytravalini.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Various Artists,"Looking To The Future As Well As The Past – Compilation CD" (Indie Release)
Actually, the various artists consist of James D. Harvey and Walt Collins and all but one song is Harvey. This is a collection of songs recorded over a ten year period. The songs cover such ground as the tragedy of Columbine, environmental issues, lifes journey, suicide and triumph over evil. Some pretty heavy stuff no doubt. Fourteen tracks with a decidedly Christian slant. Influenced by everything from the eighties guitar heroes to Christian metal to Alternative.
www.thinkof3.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Motorhead,"Ace Of Spades" (Sanctuary)
“Ace Of Spades” has always been my all time favorite Motorhead album. All the planets were in perfect alignment for Lemmy and the boys on this one. Motorhead is the ultimate “what you see is what you get” band. They never bother with trends or hype. Hell, there’s no need for hype when you can deliver the goods and deliver is exactly what they did in 1980 with “Ace Of Spades”. This album just pounds you with one after another after another and every blow is just as hard as the last. “Love Me Like A Reptile”, “Shoot You In The Back”, “Live To Win”, “Fast And Loose”, “(We Are) The Roadcrew” and that’s just half the way through. Sanctuary couldn’t have picked a better bunch of albums to reissue. I believe I said the same thing back when they reissued the Undertones stuff, but it’s the truth. This comes with a second cd of bonus tracks and alternate takes that will raise the ante a notch or two as well. If your thinking about buying your first Motorhead album,make this one it.
www.imotorhead.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Motorhead,"Iron Fist" (Sanctuary)
The guys took a lot of flack when “Iron Fist” came out because it was their first studio album since “Ace Of Spades” and it had a bit of a slicker sound. But, if you listen to this closely you’ll see the band is still exactly the same as they were on “Ace Of Spades” and the slicker sound is, for the most part if not completely, just the recording method itself. All the loud, fast rules still apply and are in abundant supply. Just listen to “Go To Hell”, “Sex & Outrage”, “Speedfreak” and “(Don’t Need) Religion” and try and tell me otherwise. The bonus disc on this one is a live concert from Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens in May of 1982 that will show you just how much this band had and has stayed true to themselves. This one isn’t my favorite Motorhead album but it kicks the shit out of 75 percent of my other favorite albums in my collection.
www.imotorhead.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Motorhead,"Overkill" (Sanctuary)
Lemmy, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke and Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor were light-years ahead of their time when they recorded this album back in late ’78 early ’79. I mean, think about what we were hearing on the radio at that time. Stuff like, McCartney’s “With A Little Luck”, Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded” and the Village People’s “Macho Man”. The whole punk thing was building but you didn’t get any of that from radio because they were out to squash it. The Plasmatics thought enough of Motorhead to cover “No Class” and most all punks list Motorhead as a favorite. I think that’s because the only thing Motorhead is trying to sound like is Motorhead. Songs like “Stay Clean”, “Damage Case”, “No Class” and the title track sound just as fresh today as they did then because Motorhead is still the same Motorhead and Lemmy is always gonna be the same Lemmy. This comes with a bonus disc that includes some live stuff from ’78 and ’79 as well.
www.imotorhead.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Motorhead,"BBC Live & In Session" (Sanctuary)
Live, loud and fast rules this double disc full of rock n’ roll. The cd kicks off with a live BBC session from September of 1978 by the late great John Peel. It’s followed by a live concert from Paris Theatre, London recorded in May of 1979 that includes such road tried and band staples of the time as “No Class”, “Stay Clean”, “White Line Fever” and “Capricorn”. Disc Two starts off with a BBC broadcast from the David Jensen Show in October of 1981 that ends with a little medley of “Bite The Bullet” and “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch”. The double album is rounded out with a session from the BBC’s Friday Rock Show recorded in August of 1986. This is a great look into what the band was like in the early years and gives you younger fans a good glimpse at what you missed.
www.imotorhead.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Jukebox Zeros,"Four On The Floor" (Steel Cage Records)
Half Rolling Stones and half Replacements with a little Ramones and Chuck Berry thrown in for good measure. This is rock n’ roll with no commercial potential or social value. In other words, rock n’ roll just like it’s supposed to be played and just like I like it. “Yeah You”, “Ch. 48”, “You’re my Favorite Drug” and “Fun Suck” are just a few of the highlights on this album. “Don’t Tell Me (More Than I Wanna Know)” is a garage rocker that grabs you by the collar. “Cigarettes And Sorrow” brings out the Supersuckers in the boys. This is another keeper from Philly’s own Jukebox Zeros.
www.jukeboxzeros.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Juniper,"Escape" (Indie Release)
This album doesn’t make any sense to me at all. “Something Wrong” is a half assed attempt at industrial music. Silly drum machine beats, dismal guitars with the hammering of metal (ala Billy Joel’s intro to Allentown). In “Drowning Me”, the singing is real whiney. In some parts it even sounds like someone is really drowning her like they were pouring water on her when she was singing or something. In “That Look” she sounds like Madonna singing about the doctor making her look good so she can be a rock star. They even have a terrible version of The Eurhythmics, “Sweet Dreams are Made of This”. If they didn’t see that Marilyn Manson’s version was horrendous around ten years ago, that’s the perfect reason not to cover it again. If you’re going do a cover do it right and do it better, give it some justice please!!! Anyway this album feels like an ill-fated attempt to please the musical senses. The closest thing I can think of to describe it is in the movie “Boogie Nights” when Dirk Digler and Reed Rothchild are all dressed up in their red suits writing songs in the studio singing (Feel, Feel, Feel…. Feel My Heat!!! ) Instead the album captures the ultimate in silliness lyrically, musically, and with the production. They should rename it, “Escape from the Music Industry”.
www.happygreentrees.com
Rating:

Review by jrumbass


TV For Dogs,"Roller" (Wampus)
On London band TVFOR DOGS’ second release “Roller”, they give it the one two punch delivering tight song structures with strong melodies making a few of these radio worthy hits. It’s power pop rock that’s Sugar sweet from your head to your feet, yeah. Comparisons to Foo Fighters, late RHCP’s, and Everclear fronted by a raspy Bob Mould are definitely warranted. The opening cut, “The Universe is Blue”, is produced by Jack Endino of Nirvana and Soundgarden fame. It has a nice big loud sound so you’ll never forget it. “Monolith”, borders on Seven Mary Three infused with a Stone Temple Pilots direction. Very heavy beat based on a nice crunchy riff complete with some guitar slides and squeals. The song “Drive” has a nice flow that has that old humble feeling of “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young but yet intertwined with a late RHCP type sound. If you’re into the old alt-grunge dealy this is right up your alley.
wampus.com/artists/tvfordogs
Rating:

Review by jrumbass


Self Delusion,"Happiness Hurts Me" (Magnatune)
If Depeche Mode had a little brother that was a bit more techno, who is a little more spaced out, likes to dance, and sings with a British accent (but yet they are from Barcelona Spain), he would be called Self Delusion. Self Delusion takes the reigns and pushes it out a little more with a sci fi twist. But this time they take it to the rave and back. It sounds otherworldly in a sense and more ambient as well. On the opening track “Unemotional” they sing about the end of the world with; “We will shine like a wandering star, life is easier on the other side”. They maintain their brother’s dark demeanor and oddness though it will always be lacking in Martin Gore’s unique lyrical angle. But I’ll tell you what, if these brothers were to have a nock down drag out fight, the older Depeche would royally kick its younger brothers ass.
www.magnatune.com
Rating:

Review by jrumbass


Nirvana,"Sliver-The Best of the Box" (Geffen)
This best of the box edition spans the early and late life of Nirvana. It gives you a peak into the early demos and lineups the band had gone through before conquering the airwaves and screwing with your musical tastes. It ranges from the early pre Nirvana demos when they were named Fecal Matter. Acoustic demos of “Lithium” and “Sliver” and a ghetto version of a rehearsal of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” pre MTV blitz. Even a version of “Heart Shaped Coffin” later changed to “Heart Shaped Box”. This also shows David Grohl taking over the drum kit in the band. From there the timeline progresses to its’ worldwide explosion to it’s obvious self destructive implosion with Cobain’s untimely death. It’s so raw and appeasing to see it all from this angle, mistakes and all. No slick production here, it’s gritty and not so pretty. It gives great hope to any new band just starting out. Love them or hate them this is a reflection of their depth, pain, passion and overall internal struggle with themselves and the rush of stardom thrown at them. This material reflects a very intimate point of view to say the least.
www.nirvana-music.com
Rating:

Review by jrumbass


Morricone Youth,"Silenzio Violento" (Country Club)
NYC hipsters Morricone Youth are well known for their live shows performing renditions of film and television scores from the days of yore. Ranging from classics Rosemary’s Baby, To Sir With Love, Escape from the Planet Apes, and one of my faves Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. In this debut release they tackle all original material, and as you would guess, pull from those past influences to create their own dazzling arrangements and savory compositions that range from fast jazz in the song “Heist”, to the spooky “Monster” which wanders into Spy Hunter/James Bond territory with a fast moving pace with additional horns and keys to make it especially haunting. “Bonniewood” ventures around poppy melodies and straight rock sounds complete with horns and has a nice eccentric ending to this great song. There is something so unique and appeasing of their mix mash vision and angle. The outcome would be best described as great soundtrack material that can stand-alone by itself without a film and I’m sure it’s been done before but I wonder, is there anybody up for making a film around this soundtrack??
www.morriconeyouth.com
Rating:

Review by jrumbass


Brian Wilson,"What I Really Want For Christmas" (Arista)
From the man who gave us the long overdue masterpiece Smile album last year I kind of expected a little more from a Brian Wilson Christmas disc. But then again, Wilson's solo catalogue is a gamble, with peaks and valleys. While there are some interesting arrangements, classic Beach Boys' harmony and nods to the styles of various Beach Boys classics, the end result often sounds tired and stale. If you have the 1963 Beach Boys' Christmas Album, you really don't need this disc because Brian Wilson's "What I Really Want For Christmas" pales in comparison to the Beach Boys' classic. Plus, he re-recorded many of the songs of the Beach Boys album, without any improvement. It's not a bad album, just Brian Wilson playing it safe. Kind of like that Christmas present from the relative that you’ve gotta say nice things about even though you don’t like it.
www.brianwilson.com
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Michael McDonald,"Through The Many Winters-A Christmas Album" (Hallmark)
When year after year we get stale Christmas albums from every singing star under the sun, it is refreshing to hear a great Christmas album. Michael McDonald gives his 'blue eyed soul' treatment and distinctive voice to various Christmas standards, as well as two original tunes and the results are fabulous. His "Deck the Halls/Jingle Bells" medley is the best "new" version of a normally worn-out standard that I have heard in quite some time. Of his two originals on this disc, "Christmas on the Bayou" is the most memorable, delivering a unique Cajun yuletide greeting. From slow ballads, soulful horns, rock and roll to Cajun-flavored tunes, Michael McDonald has shown what a Christmas album should sound like.
www.michaelmcdonald.com
www.hallmark.co
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Adam Evil & The Outside Royalty,"Adam Evil & The Outside Royalty" (Indie Release)
Bowie meets Bolin on this release from Evil and his cohorts. Lots of glam, lots of hooks, lots of fun! This has to be one of the most fun listens I’ve had in a while. Somewhere between Elton John during his “Bennie And The Jets” years and Sweet around “Love Is Like Oxygen” is where I’d put this one. There’s also a lot of John Lennon spirit in the vocals on “Heavy” and “Love Song At The End Of The World”. “Goodbye” gets a funky soul filled workout while “Liquid Leather Lover” is a U2 hit that Bono isn’t even aware of. If you want something different this is the ticket.
artist's web site
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Malcolm Palmer,"Between The Womb And The Tomb" (Orange Van Records)
Malcolm Palmer is a renaissance man. A singer, songwriter, poet, actor, playwright and hip-hop artist. His music brings to mind Everlast’s acoustic hip-hop flavored album “Whitey Ford Sings the Blues”. I’m not a huge fan of rap or hip-hop but stuff like this is more like beat poetry than rap. I’m not saying I’m into beat poetry either but this gives you a lot to think about. The lyrics have lots of meat to them, this ain’t some light-hearted album full of fluff. This is an excellent album that should open a few doors as well as a few minds.
www.orangevanrecords.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Cainrazers,"…After 5 Long Years" (Indie Release)
This is a lot like the alternative pop, new wave stuff from the eighties. Catchy melodies, hook filled harmonies, light hearted lyrics and all that. As a matter of fact I would have guessed this was an eighties reissue if I hadn’t checked them out on the web. They sound a bit like an old Atlanta band called the Producers or maybe even the Romantics. Do you remember “What I Like About You” or “Talking In Your Sleep”? Hey, I enjoyed the thing from start to finish. Great music, lyrics that don’t tax your brain, this would be great to put on when friends are over and your just sitting around shooting the breeze.
artist's web site
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Joshua Schramm,"February" (Folk Off! Records)
Mellow is as mellow does whatever the hell that means. Don’t ask. Anyway, Joshua Schramm is mellow but not boring by any means. An acoustic singer /songwriter in much the same vein as someone like Dave Matthews. Actually, he sounds like Elvis Costello and Dave Matthews stitched together in Tom Petty’s laboratory / studio. A folk rocker, and folk rockers are few and far between these days, with a great sense of how to command your attention without clubbing you over the head with loud beats or profane lyrics. He sort of sneaks up on you like a Pink Floyd song or middle age or your girlfriends cat. The next thing you know you’re caught up in the middle of it all.
www.joshschramm.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Tommy And The Terrors,"Unleash The Fury" (TKO Records)
Old style hardcore punk from Boston’s Tommy And The Terrors. These guys remind me of some of those great bands of old like Agnostic Front and Suicidal Tendencies. This latest outing on TKO was produced by Matt Kelly (Dropkick Murphys) so the feeling is dead on. 15 tracks of unrelenting punk attitude designed to wind you up like a top. Songs like “All Together” and “Pay You On Tuesday (For A Hamburger Today)” really have that old style feel. Both are great tracks but there’s a lot more where that came from. Get your copy and unleash the fury on your friends today.
www.tkorecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Boils,"From The Bleachers" (TKO Records)
These guys have been around for almost a decade now. Fighting their way up the ranks to become the premier punk rock, Oi! they are today. “From The Bleachers” is packed to the hilt with street punk, old school punk, oi! and reggae flavored songs, 25 songs to be exact. Some of my favorites are “Into The Enemy”, “The Promise”, “Bed Of Whiskey”, “Declaration Of War” and “Skinhead Reggae Beach Stomp”. The last song mentioned being a Joe Strummer Clash dead ringer. The Boils bring a refreshing listen to the table of a somewhat stagnant genre.
www.tkorecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Isaac Hayes,"Ultimate Isaac Hayes-Can You Dig It?" (Stax)
If you want a great collection of ‘70s R&B/soul, look no further than Isaac Hayes. Of course this compilation has “Shaft”, but I wasn’t fully aware of his other talents. Especially his soulful renditions of some well-known songs such as “Never Can Say Goodbye” (which kicks the ass of the Jackson Five version), “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” (Yep, the Glen Campbell hit), “For the Good Times”, “Walk On By”, “Baby I’m-A Want You” (puts the Bread version to shame!), “Let’s Stay Together”, and “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You” (Hank Williams). Isaac Hays true talent was being able to take these well-known songs and truly make them his own, giving them true soul! There is also a bonus DVD for those who don’t know that Isaac Hayes is the immortal “Chef” on South Park! This collection is one, bona-fide R&B classic – can you dig it?
www.concordrecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Scott H. Platt


John Fogerty,"The Long Road Home" (Fantasy)
I’ve often wondering why a combined collection of greatest hits by John Fogerty and Creedence hadn’t come out before this. But making a “greatest hits” collection from an artists that has already had so many greatest hits collections in the past (I’m talking about Creedence) is a daunting task. But – this collection comes mighty close to being the “ultimate John Fogerty/Creedence Collection” like is stated on the cover. While all the great Creedence songs are represented, it is the gaps in the selections of Fogerty’s solo career that make this a little short of “ultimate”. While all the great songs off “Centerfield” are included, there are scant few from his little-known 1975 solo album. With a few live tracks thrown in for good measure, this is still one hot career retrospective of John Fogerty.
www.johnfogerty.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Scott H. Platt


Troy Lukkarila,"Unsafe Structure" (LukaLips Destruction Co.)
Something just ain’t right with this guy and I think that’s what makes him so damn interesting. Remember the Beatles trippy, LSD inspired period. Well, you can take a trip without the LSD just by giving Mr. Lukkarila a listen. “When You Get Home” is a great example of how you can feel totally punch drunk just from listening. The lyrics fly by faster than your mind can take them in and even if you do take them in you still don’t know what the hell they mean. I like to call this a cd collection of blotter songs made to entertain and maybe even enlighten your brain.
www.LukaLips.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Donuts,"The Monkey Wrench Gang" (Chapter 7 Records)
These guys remind me of Dwight Yoakam one minute then Styx the next and that was just the first two songs. Needless to say your gonna get quite a bit of variety from this disk. “The Monkey Wrench Gang” is Elvis Costello at his best. “Leonard’s Coming Down From The Mountain” is a cool, funky little ride through Violent Femmes territory. “Arrive” is a department store mega-hit. You get everything from Bob Dylan to Beck and everything in between from this bunch of holes. “Red From Mississippi” is radio worthy and catchy as all get out. Lots of fun for the taking.
www.thedonuts.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Vincent Black Shadow,"The Vincent Black Shadow" (Heartbreak Beat Records
This was an unexpected surprise. I wasn’t very impressed with the cut and paste paper sleeve that came with this promo cd. First off, it has no information on it other than the bands name. No song list, band members, nothing. I was thinking this was another home recorded, one man band with a drum machine kind of thing but boy was I wrong. These guys play hard and nasty. They sound like Black Sabbath on acid. So I did a google search and found a website for a real band. As a matter of fact I found three different bands using the name so I’m not sure which, if any, is responsible for this cd. With that said, I can’t tell you anything more about the disc. Sorry.
www.heartbreakbeatrecords.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Electric Frankenstein,"Dead And Back" (Magnatune)
Electric Frankenstein is a rock n’ roll machine that just keeps on rolling and picking up steam. These guys are the real deal and “Dead And Back” is proof of that. “Sweet Baby Arrogance” is what I see as a fist pumping stab at mainstream radio but they’re back to their old ways on the very next track. You get the nitty as well as the gritty on “Good For Nothing”. This is like early Kiss meets Stiv Bators. If you want a band that delivers the good then EF is what your looking for. Highly recommended, especially tracks like “Not This Time” and “Leave It At That”.
www.magnatune.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Various Artists,"I Am The Resurrection: A Tribute To John Fahey" (Vanguard Records)
John Fahey,"The Yellow Princess" (Vanguard Records)
Vanguard has put together an incredibly nice tribute to the late John Fahey. “I Am The Resurrection” includes Fahey tracks performed by such indie rock singer / songwriters as Sufian Stevens, Devendra Banhart, Howe Gelb, Grandaddy and Calexico. Fahey had a dark and powerful style of playing. His acoustic guitar music could reach right down to your soul and give it a squeeze until its last breath was about to be reached only to let it go so it may soar to a greater height than it would have otherwise. If you’ve never heard of Fahey then your missing something pretty special. If your familiar with Fahey then you owe it to yourself to get the tribute.

In addition to the tribute, Vanguard will re-release Fahey’s 1968 album, “The Yellow Princess”.
www.vanguardrecords.com
www.johnfahey.com
Rating:
(for "I Am The Resurrection: A Tribute To John Fahey")
(for "The Yellow Princess")
Review by J.R. Oliver


Various Artists,"Numbers From the Beast: An All Star Salute to Iron Maiden" (Restless)
After hearing this disc, I’m going to have to take back everything I’ve said about tribute albums! It rocks from start to finish, delivering hard rocking versions of some of Iron Maiden’s greatest songs (although I am curious as to why the actual song “The Number of the Beast” is not included even though the title is “Numbers From the Beast”!). I listened to the whole CD before I even looked at the liner notes, which would have told me why this is such a kick ass album: the players are like a whose-who of heavy metal royalty. Each song is a combination of different players, making each track almost a super group of heavy metal. Just a few of the cast include players from: Motorhead, Judas Priest, Dio, Styx, Deep Purple, AC/DC, Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Twisted Sister, and many more. While there isn’t a bad song in the set, the highlights have to be: Lemmy singing “The Trooper” (pure rock and rock nirvana!), Ripper Owens singing “Flight Of Icarus” and Michael Schenker’s guitar playing on “Run to the Hills”.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and this same group of players will do yet another excellent tribute album! This shreds dude!
www.rykodisc.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Scott H. Platt


Rick Springfield,"The Day After Yesterday" (dke records)
Yes, this is the same Rick Springfield who had several hits in the '80s. But this ain't no "Jessie's Girl", but the "new" Rick Springfield. His voice is really amazing; with an almost raspy quality to it that really does justice to the songs. And what about the songs? Well, the are mostly cover versions (with one original) ranging from the 60's, 70's and '80s. Springfield covers artists from 10cc, The Church, Peter Gabriel, Foreigner, The Beatles, John Lennon, and Gerry Rafferty. The only thing that makes this album good but not great is some of the choice of tunes, with some of the most horrid songs from the '80s ("Broken Wings", "Human" and "Waiting For a Girl Like You"). Its always tricky covering the Beatles, but he does a great job on "For No One", with a mellotron infused arrangement like "Strawberry Fields" complete with a snippet of "Flying" which will have Beatles fans saying, "cool combination!" His version of John Lennon's "Imagine" uses violins instead of the expected piano giving the song a very unique style. I just can’t get over how great his voice sounds, and its too bad he didn't do an album of all original material. Although it is mostly covers, it is still a good album. What a surprise out of left field!
www.rickspringfield.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Scott H. Platt


F5,"A Drug For All Seasons" (Deadline)
Former Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson returns with an unexpected slant with his new quintet F5. Drawing from the lineage of nu-metal such as Sevendust and Disturbed, A DRUG FOR ALL SEASONS is a far cry from anything Megadeth did, even at the band’s most safe offering RISK Instead, Ellefson combined a stellar twin guitar assault and former Sick Speed throat Dale Steele to handle the melodic metal duties, allowing his new band the inevitable comparisons. Solid and succinct, tracks like “Dissidence” and “Bleeding” mesh hard rock’s rough and tumble approach with a modern twist, making F5 a viable outfit rather than a famous metal musician’s new side project.
www.cleorecs.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Various Artists,"Armageddon Over Wacken Live 2004" (Magick)
Bringing the power and energy of Europe’s largest annual music festival directly to your CD player, ARMAGEDDON OVER WACKEN commemorates the festival’s 15th year of pounding audiences with all types of metal. From the death metal mayhem of Cannibal Corpse to the power metal offering of Destruction to the veritable displays of hard rock majesty from Dio and Motorhead, this three-disc set reads as a who’s who of the underground metal world and faithfully captures the spirit of the festival without braving the weather and drunk and rowdy European metalheads. If nothing else besides being an awesome collection brimming with top-flight metal acts, this disc serves as a reminder as to not only how huge heavy music is abroad, but also how intense the fans are, as they truly make the disc a must-listen with their singing along at every refrain and unbelievable enthusiasm.
www.magickrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Various Artists,"Masters of Horror" (Immortal)
Released to coincide with the launching of the Showtime anthology series of the same name, the soundtrack to MASTERS OF HORROR is a mixed bag of tracks from all types of heavy bands from the likes of Mudvayne and Shadows Fall to lesser-known acts such as A Change of Pace and Fall River. While the bulk of the material is heard for the first time here, many of the submissions have a b-side feel to them, and for the most part, aren’t really all that scary. For argument’s sake, would you consider bands like Gratitude and Armor for Sleep bands you’d associate with horror movies? While there are good choices represented here such as Alkaline Trio, Shadows Fall, and the haunting Murder by Death, there’s also a bevy of screamo and punk bands here that are better suited for a Warped Tour comp. The twin-disc set may not represent horror movie music as much as it does the current climate of heavy rock acts currently storming the market, but at least it does a stellar job in showcasing all facets of that spectrum. Just a word to Immortal: for next time guys, try a little Slayer and Misfits.
www.immortalrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bullet For My Valentine,"Hand Of Blood" (Trustkill)
Bullet for My Valentine is a melodic metal clan from Wales whose six-track release storms through your speakers with New Wave of American Metal flare. From the opener “4 Words (to Choke Upon)”, a barnburning number that throws in every metal trick in the book, you can tell that this quartet that hails from the same landscape as Funeral for a Friend and Lostprophets are on to something big. And big also describes the mammoth guitar tones heard all over HAND OF BLOOD, as well as the awesome usage of dynamics on “Curses” and the overall thrashing production put in place by Colin Richardson. Worshipping Maiden, Metallica, and Testament while embracing the newer screamo and current metal mindset of Killswitch Engage and Atreyu, Bullet for My Valentine are the next band to blow up from across the pond, and rightfully so, as they display the riffs, the love for metal, and the chops to deserve the accolades.
www.trustkill.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Playing Enemy,"I Was Your City" (Hawthorne Street)
Rising from the ashes of seminal hardcore act Kiss It Goodbye, Playing Enemy return after a two year hiatus with I WAS YOUR CITY, a disjointed metallic concoction whose 11-tracks take you ears on a wild ride through broken relationships via ambient noise rock and angst ridden dissonance. Unstable and unsettling, “The End of Something” has a vertigo-like effect thanks to its swirling guitars and its monotone trailed off vocals underneath the gravel-swallowed lead throat, while “And The Engine” tackle a full-on left of center hardcore attack with driving bass lines which complement the intentionally jagged guitar work. Somewhere between Keelhaul, Mastodon, and Every Time I Die lays I WAS YOUR CITY, an album that will haunt as much as it threaten.
www.hawthornestreetrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Project X,"Straight Edge Revenge" (Bridge Nine)
Leave it to champions of the hardcore scene Bridge Nine to re-release Project X’s landmark five-track album, with a few live cuts to boot. Originally released in 1988, this is the first proper release of this seminal recording featuring members of Judge, Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today, and Warzone. This is where it all started, boys and girls, and it doesn’t get more real than this. If it’s an education in hardcore you seek, STRAIGHT EDGE REVENGE is a foundational album to check out, as tracks like “Dance Floor Justice” and “Where It Ends” are templates of the NYHC sound.
www.bridge9.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Index Case,"Index Case" (Mortal)
Iowa’s Index Case may have a lot of heavy hands in the mix of their eponymous debut, but ultimately, the quartet suffers from a bout of over saturation. It’s not that the band’s mix of mopey nu metal, teeth-gnashing modern rock, and spooky Slipknot-esque horror rock is poorly executed or sloppily presented; in fact, the album, assisted by ex- Tears for Fears frontman Curt Smith and mega-rock knob twiddler Jimbo Barton sounds pretty damn impressive. But, it’d sound way more impressive if there was no Taproot, no Mudvayne, no Flaw, no Dry Kill Logic, or even Staind already enshrining the hallowed halls of modern metal. Instead, Index Case falls a bit flat, sounding too much like a carbon copy that its own entity, subsequently taking the zing out of mid-tempo burners like “Perfect Season”.
www.mortal-music.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Stratovarius,"Stratovarius" (Sanctuary)
Finnish melodic metal masters Stratovarius make a full-fledged return after an absence marred by drama with a nine-track eponymous offering. While the steadfast power metal crew has abandoned speed for heaviness a la Metallica on THE BLACK ALBUM, there are still many moments like the Queensryche-esque soaring vocal performance meets dark melodics of “Back to Madness” and the balls to the wall rocker “Fight!!!” that should keep loyal fans at bay. Stripping down its symphonic side, slowing down the pace, and toying with new ideas may not be the ideal sound ardent fans will embrace, but Stratovarius seem content with the changes for now, as they’ve helped to put this landmark power metal troupe back on the map. Whether or not these devices remain in the band’s arsenal to be seen, but for now, at least the group has returned from the wreckage it once was, albeit not in the same form its fans are accustomed to.
www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


No Turning Back,"Rise From the Ashes" (Bridge Nine)
Dutch hardcore mavens No Turning Back were undoubtedly weaned off of the wares of NYHC stalwarts Sick of It All, Madball, and Warzone, evident on the band’s latest full-length release RISE FROM THE ASHES. Exuding a tough guys stance and complementing it with chugging riffs found on the title track and the sneering delivery of “Poisoned Tongues”, No Turning Back’s sturdy hardcore approach will nudge you into throwing on your wifebeater and throwing a few windmills around the living room in no time.
www.bridge9.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


He Who Corrupts,"The Smell of Money" (Eugenics)
He Who Corrupts slice and dice though five tracks of aural madness, complete with unorthodox samples, grindcore instrumentations, and foreboding interludes on THE SMELL OF MONEY. Displaying a sound technical background as well as a sharp sense of sarcasm, tracks like “Your Mama on the Rocks” juggles jack hammered rhythms with shards of whimsical lyrics like “Just got a bone to pick with you sexual chocolate Catholics”. Huh? Yep, and by the time you dissect that amongst the other phrases that are abrasively screamed at you, a thunderous breakdown like the one on “Pain in the Tight Pants” destroys your senses. Then, poof…the CD is over. Short, sweet, and severe, this Chi-town treat turns up the heat and cranks out a whirlwind of mayhem.
www.eugenicsrecordlabel.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Beautiful Creatures,"Deuce" (Spitfire)
Beautiful Creatures’ sophomore outing, appropriately titled DEUCE, rides the wave of bands like Dope, Murderdolls, Velvet Revolver, and Shinedown, despite the fact that this outfit comprised of vets from notable acts such as Flotsam and Jetsam and Bang Tango were kicking ass way before the inception of the aforementioned. Taking equal parts of Sunset Strip bravado and modern rock’s arena rock swagger, songs like “Empty” connects the dots between hair metal hooks and mope rock melancholy, while “Straight to Hell” lines up in the Harley line with all engines roaring. Ballsy, whiskey soaked cock rock never dies: it just gets reshuffled, restyled, and churned out with the attitude missing from much of today’s sanitized rock. While Beautiful Creatures do tend to sound a bit too rehashed at times, their Motley meets BLS stance still shakes the asses and warrants the fists to pump.
www.spitfirerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


1349,"Hellfire" (Candlelight)
Norwegian black metal clan 1349 returns with another crushing metal offering, as the eight-track HELLFIRE is as abrasive and scathing as any album currently waking the dead. From the sinister voice on the title track that commences the excursion to the abyss to the impending evil that continues throughout, this quintet has created a maelstrom of mayhem. Raspy growls, ripping guitar riffs, machine gun turret drumming, and a sadistic overall viewpoint are some of 1349’s main devices of destruction, and when all put together into a cauldron of chaos, songs like the harrowing “From the Deeps” and the demonically charged “Nathicana” are born. If you enjoy the depravity of black and death metal and are looking for a band that takes a more traditional approach to the genre, HELLFIRE is an album that belongs between your Emperor and Satyricon discs.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


In Arcadia,"If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It" (Handstand)
Sounding a bit whiny at times, yet way more powerful than a whiny band should at others, the Detroit-based band In Arcadia intertwine Warped Tour pop-punk with elements of ‘90s post-hardcore a la Quicksand and Far and slices of Nirvana’s grunge on IF IT BLEEDS, WE CAN KILL IT. Well-textured songs like “Megadeth Fiero” (which sounds nothing like either, by the way) combine Thursday-esque guitar lines with a metallic sneer, while emo’s self-awareness rears its head on “Olsen Twins Pornography” and “Fathom The Brig’uns”, sure to illicit air guitar solos and group choral shouts alike. If Story of the Year somehow merged with Open Hand, the strained angst of In Arcadia would be the result.
www.handstandrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Weapon 13,"Weapon 13" (Indie Release)
Featuring ex-members of Bay Area stalwarts Hirax, the quartet Weapon 13 portray an old school punk-metal outfit nicely on the band’s three-track release. Meshing DRI with Suicidal Tendencies, songs like “Empty” righteously thrash out with the skater punk vibe, while the crushing opening of “Monster Reborn” yields a crossover metal jam that combines the primal output of Death Angel, Slayer, All, and NYHC circa 1989. Looking to revisit the glory days when metal bands didn’t wear mascara? Then Weapon 13 is a release to check out.
www.weapon13.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Trouble,"Nobody Laughs Anymore" (Bridge 9)
The Trouble is a Boston punk rock band whose latest release is a comprehensive reissue of the locally influential quartet. Reuniting this year after a long layoff, this band’s run lasted from 1995-1999 and bridged some gaps between genres. Fitting snugly between the punk, oi, and skin scenes, the group’s three-chord stomps and belligerent vocal attack falls somewhere between Cock Sparrer and Sex Pistols, and is recommended listening for people that crave the need for real, no bullshit punk rock played sans fashion savvy with loads of heart and spirit leading the charge.
www.bridge9.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Earth,"Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method" (Southern Lord)
Dropping the heavy and replacing it with a more barren country-tinged feel enrobed in echo and reverb, the Washington-based project Earth have produced an album bursting with innovation. Psychedelic in tone and atmospheric in mood, HEX; OR PRINTING IN THE INFERNAL METHOD is not sonically weighty like other Earth releases. Instead, songs like “Lens of Unrectified Light” enchant and enlighten, replacing the massively heavy drone with budding expansiveness and down home downtrodden picking and grinning. If you like Queludes and Neil Young, or a penchant for ominous desert rock, you’ll love what this album will do to you.
www.southernlord.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sunn0))),"Black One" (Southern Lord)
Experimental masters sunn0))) returns with another crushing offering in the form of BLACK ONE, a seven-track journey into uncharted territories of heavy sound. Enlisting some of the most revered names in American black metal and avant-garde rock, this dastardly duo’s constant quest to enlighten while breaking down barriers continues with a nefarious drone unheard on previous releases, unveiling this project to be unpredictably brutal and utterly bleak. While the laymen will have a challenging time knowing what and how to use songs like “Orthodox Caveman” to their advantage, those that crave the rattling ambiance and sonic abuse should feel right at home.
www.southernlord.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Miles Away,"Miles Away" (Bridge 9)
Australian hardcore troupe Miles Away sound like an old school East Coast act on their 10-track endeavor, right down to the gang choral shouts and breakneck rhythms found on “Worlds Apart”. It’s that kind of authenticity to both the music and subject matter that assists this band brimming with intensity and conviction to ascend to hardcore’s greater heights right alongside seminal acts like 7 Seconds, Comeback Kid, and Champion. If you’re looking for a shot of no nonsense hardcore, Miles Away deliver.
www.bridge9.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Detonation,"Portals To Uphobia" (The End)
Melodic death metal mongers Detonation’s latest release showcases a band that can dually whip up frenzy as well as they do a melody. On the Dutch quartet’s 10-track sojourn, a barbed wired vocal attack leads the charge of pummeling percussion, timeless twin guitar runs, and bombastic bass-driven rhythms on tracks like the In Flames versus Shadows Fall title track and the atmospherically technical, almost Swedish sounding “End of Sight, End of Fears”. Displaying a penchant for both fist-pumping anthems and darker, more intricate death metal posturing, PORTALS TO UPHOBIA isn’t anything earth shattering, but does a sufficient job providing some memorable melodic death metal a la At the Gates and Arch Enemy.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Absu,"Mythological Occult Metal 1991-2001" (The End)
Absu is a black/death metal clan from Dallas, TX whose odds and ends are tied up quite nicely on this twin disc collection. From every 7” to some demo and unreleased material, Absu has covered all the bases to please its fan bases with MYTHOLOGICAL OCCULT METAL 1991-2001. While some may feel the set to be a bit excessive (who really wants to hear poor quality demo versions of songs you’ve never heard of), ultimately, if you’re a fan of this outfit currently on hiatus, this lengthy package gives you everything you’d ever want and then some. Bonus points go towards the death metal treatments on the covers on Disc 2, featuring the likes of Mayhem, Iron Maiden, and Possessed.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Epica,"Consign To Oblivion" (The End)
From the majestic horns that open CONSIGN TO OBLIVION, the Holland-based sextet Epica set a regal tone that carries over throughout the entire 11-track disc. Melding the cinematic feel of film scoring with opera, Goth rock, and metal, this multi-layered, overblown, and grandiose offering is laden with strings, a choral section separate from the band, and a slew of catchy songs that sound as much at home on a Broadway stage as they do in a metal club’s PA system. Tracks like the calming beauty of “Solitary Ground” make Evanescence sound like The Spice Girls, while songs like “Force of the Shore” join melodic death metal with traces of “Bohemian Rhapsody”-era Queen, ushering in a whole new movement in metal. Equipped with a symphony that rivals any city’s in the world and unafraid to take Stratovarius-like breaks to rage, Epica’s latest release is triumphant, but at times falls far off the metal radar into show tune land, but as long as you’re properly prepared for the drop off, you’ll be able to marvel in the mystique of this disc.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Age Of Silence,"Complications: Trilogy Of Intricacy" (The End)
A supergroup of sorts, Norway’s Age of Silence’s latest foray into the land of prog rock insanity finds these black metal veterans rolling up their sleeves once again and getting all Opeth on your ass. Drawing influences from virtually everywhere in the heavy music realm (and from other places as well), this three-song endeavor acts as a cohesive holdover until the next time members of Winds, Borknagar, Mayhem, and By Pale Light reconvene for a full-length progressive slaying. Sounding folksy at times while retaining a classic crunch (albeit deep in the mix), COMPLICATIONS exhibits a revealing side to these musicians who go sans gimmickry and headlong into prog rock revelry.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Audrey Horne,"No Hay Banda" (Candlelight)
Norwegian left of center metal sextet Audrey Horne successfully blend the wares of Faith No More, Marilyn Manson, and Foo Fighters on the 11-track NO HAY BANDA. Creating pulsating music with an slightly eerie tone underneath, songs like “Crust” place an ominous vocal on top of a shimmering guitar line while the band keeps a heavy backbeat, while “Confessions and Alcohol” toys with both Goth rock posturing and nu metal loathing, yet adheres to neither, instead supplying a soaring chorus and heavy riffing a la Staind meets HIM. If you’re looking for a rock band that is not only original, but a bit off the mark yet still maintain a common ground that rock fans of every walk of life can identify with, then NO HAY BANDA is an album bursting with the music you need to hear.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mikoto,"Mikoto" (Level Plane)
Mikoto are no strangers to the hardcore scene and its way of life, as members of this quintet have logged in time with bands such as Taken and Preacher Gone to Texas. It’s that vast experience that shines through this five-track offering and makes something really special here, as these cagey veterans wrestle with the legacy of hardcore while struggling with their own lives on songs like the sarcastically charged “Traditional Anthem”, a track that denounces the Hot Topic-ization of the scene that these guys love so much. Brazen, heartfelt, and oh yeah, pretty damn heavy, Mikoto brings it back to a time when the music and the message were uncorrupted by the multimedia feeding frenzy.
www.level-plane.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Grimfist,"Ten Steps To Hell" (Candlelight)
The wrath of the Norwegian metal bands continues with Grimfist, a pummeling trio with a scorching 10-track release. From the carnage unleashed from the opener “The Power” to the foreboding feel of “Unborn”, a massive display of metallic might has unfurled on this album. Forming from the ashes of stoner metallers Deride, and with a new drummer in tow, TEN STEPS TO HELL displays a more experimental, yet equally relentless side to this band of three that unknowingly redefines the term power trio with their unabashed black meets death metal attack found on tracks like “Reap the Fire”.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Akercocke,"Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone" (Earache)
The best dressed Satanic metal band returns with music as sharp as their matching suits on the 10-track WORDS THAT GO UNSPOKEN, DEEDS THAT GO UNDONE. Channeling Fear Factory, Morbid Angel, Godflesh, and Nevermore simultaneously sounds like an arduous task for your average metal troupe, but the four evil dudes in Akercocke handle it like true pros. Explosive blast beated madness prevails on “Seraphs and Silence”, completed by Cookie Monster vocals and technical death metal instrumentation, while more musically expansive moments can be found during songs such as “Shelter from the Sand”. Throughout the entire album, Akercocke’s versatile arsenal of all things metal is never compromised, while a progressive rock edge is intertwined, sparking a monumental sound that encumbers evil with both a reinvigorated sense of ferocity and an undercurrent of elegance unlike any other band heard today.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Linea 77,"Available For Propaganda" (Earache)
Italy’s nu-metal sensation Linea 77 return with another sanitized hard edged offering that sounds quite similar to their American counterparts Papa Roach and POD. Perhaps a common producer in Dave Dominguez steered the band in the very radio friendly direction, but it’s no matter. AVAILABLE FOR PROPAGANDA is the title of the latest 12-track endeavor from this quintet, whose faux punk attitude permeates throughout cuts like “Charon” and “Evoluzione”. Even a sneering delivery and a hearty dollop of surliness can’t save this disc from third-ratedom, especially if they keep writing trash like “Lost in a Videogame”.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Masterplan,"Aeronautics" (Candlelight)
German metal veterans of acclaimed acts such as Helloween, Ark, and Iron Savior join forces on Masterplan, a melodic metal troupe whose sophomore effort rocks hard. On AERONAUTICS, power metal is displayed prominently, as the pounding drums and harmonic keyboards found on “Into the Arena” aim straight for the gut, while “Back for My Life” matches Coverdale-era Deep Purple with shards of prog metal a la Queensryche and “After This War” showcase the quintet trying a bit of tenderness in a power metal style with stunning results. Falling somewhere between the heart-tugging hard rock of MSG and the odes that make you stand up and shout from Dio, Masterplan’s most recent release should appease the metal fan that demands powerful guitars and vocals with an air of rock cliché intact.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Infliction,"The Silencer" (Cruz Del Sur)
Infliction play a hybrid of styles that shouldn’t match up as well as they do, but somehow this Italian quintet succeed in meshing melodic death metal with radio ready Goth rock leanings on their second album THE SILENCER, The 11-track collection jumps around from genre to genre with relative ease and astonishing cohesiveness, as tracks like “Redhouse” find the band trading Nevermore-esque choruses with frenetic death metal a la The Haunted without batting an eye, while the Gothic rocker “Nocturnal” chimes in with a creepy aura and a sense of Paradise Lost’s better works. Arguably, THE SILENCER’s focus seems a bit askew and purists will be disenchanted, but songs like “Sleepers” more than make up for the lack of discernible identity by uncoiling a vitriolic slab of melodic death metal madness. If you can withstand some piano-led darkened tracks like “Paperlife”, this disc is a salvageable effort worthy of a few good spins.
www.cruzdelsurmusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Fireball Ministry,"Their Rock Is Not Our Rock" (Liquor and Poker)
THEIR ROCK IS NOT OUR ROCK is an apt album title for the third installment from retro metal act Fireball Ministry. The 10-track foray into the land of muscle cars, leather jackets, and airborne horned hands finds the quartet continuing to save our rock ‘n’ roll souls. From the sturdy riffs of “Save the Saved” and “It Flies Again” to the driving rhythms of tracks such as “Hellspeak”, it’s evident that Fireball Ministry are doing everything they can to resurrect that old time organic hard rock/ heavy metal feel. Sounding as retro as your uncle’s old Judas Priest LP’s but emblazoned with the timeless haziness of bands like Black Sabbath with the chops and memorable choruses of groups like Blue Oyster Cult, this is the ultimate antithesis to what the kids are currently hopped up on, and Fireball Ministry wouldn’t want it any other way.
www.liquorandpokermusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hoods,"The King Is Dead" (Eulogy)
The Sacramento, CA troupe Hoods return with another unremitting hardcore offering that embodies tough guy hardcore. THE KING IS DEAD displays this outfit’s decade-long mission of laying down beatdown riffs with the struggles of the street in the forefront. Much like Hatebreed, Madball, Sick of It All, and the like, Hoods have never strayed from the formula of combining heavy riffs, heavier subject matter, and the unbreakable NYHC spirit, spilled over to the West Coast. While this disc doesn’t cover any new ground, the undeterred spirit and imminent delivery of tracks like “26 Seconds of Hate” and “This Time” provide the proper backdrop for Hoods to convey its hardcore wares.
www.eulogyrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Thunderstone,"Tools Of Destruction" (Nuclear Blast)
Finnish metal troupe Thunderstone’s third offering finds the band straddling the line between progressive and power metal, as the 10-track TOOLS OF DESTRUCTION is armed with a bevy of arena shaking anthems and enough technicality to cajole your average prog-metal fan into giving this a spin. Packing the punch of hair metal’s most prominent players in addition to laying down some flashy fretwork and heartfelt acoustic numbers like “Another Time”, this metal juggernaut displays great depth, tight chops, and a melodic element that fuses it altogether that gives this quintet a wide appeal.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ektomorf,"Instinct" (Nuclear Blast)
Hungarian quartet Ektomorf’s blatant lifting from Sepultura/ Soulfly is so obvious it’s distressing on the band’s latest offering INSTINCT. Utilizing the same low-end heaviness and vocal growls employed by Max Cavalera and company to death throughout the entire 12-track release doesn’t showcase the band to be much else besides a third-rate ripoff of an incendiary sound. While tracks like “Fuck You All” and “Show Your Fist” are rabble-rousing numbers guaranteed to rip heads off, they went down way better when you first heard them…on ROOTS or CHAOS AD. Emitting an admirable delivery with zero creativity, Ektomorf need to broaden their musical influence scope before they get written off as just another knockoff.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Secret,"Luce" (Goodfellow)
Italian skullcrushers The Secret unleash a mammoth display of decadent discord on the eight-track LUCE. This quintet’s uncanny knack for composing cohesive yet experimental metal propels this release, as songs like “Close to Me, Inside My Heart” bounce from Meshuggah-esque brutality to Neurosis-esque ambiance within a six-minute time frame. The Secret also succeeds by being able to alter moods as quick as they can make lightning fast tempo changes and dissonant chord changes on tracks like “Oslo”. In all, The Secret excels by merging a multitude of extreme styles with startlingly stellar results. If you dig Mastodon, Isis, or Converge, there’s something here for you.
www.goodfellowrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Betrayed,"Addiction" (Bridge Nine)
Betrayed’s irrefutable hardcore stance stems from the fact that this straight-edge crew’s members are not your typical idealistic teens, but 30 year-old men from established scene acts Champion and Carry On. It’s this level of commitment and dedication that shines through the quartet’s six-track release ADDICTION in both musical output and lyrical content, as tracks like “A Light in the Dark” contains the buoyancy of the youth crew group of the days gone by with the sage-like wisdom of eyes that have seen all sides of the spectrum. Uplifting yet not overly preachy, Betrayed’s lifestyle choice may not be for everyone, but their energetic display of melodic hardcore is way harder to ignore, especially if you dig Sick of it All or Comeback Kid.
www.bridge9.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Icarus Witch,"Capture The Magic" (Magick)
The nine-track offering by the torch carrying metal troupe Icarus Witch bares no surprises, as the quartet’s unabashed heavy metal assault hits right between the eyes much like their ROSES ON WHITE LACE EP. Harkening back to the glory days of majestic metal a la Dio and Queensryche, CAPTURE THE MAGIC embrace the old school approach with little alteration, creating an enticing array of metal that, despite taking much of its influence from the ‘80s, doesn’t sound all that dated or forced. They even employ six-string metal heroes George Lynch (Dokken) and Frank X. Aresti (Fates Warning) for a shot of star power, but ultimately it’s this Pittsburgh group’s classic metal leanings on tracks like “The Ghost of Xavior Holmes” and “Darklands” that shine brightest.
www.magickrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Osyrus,"Osyrus" (Latticesphere)
Nu-metal quartet Osyrus (who take their name from the Egyptian god of life and death) have an eclectic mix of influences from Fates Warning to Trapt seeping through the outfit’s self-titled endeavor. The 12-track disc boasts a friendly, big rock radio ready sound, as the crisp vocals and massive rhythm section are very prominently displayed on tracks like “Never Change”. The guitar work is stock nu-metal, reminiscent of Godsmack meets Crossbreed on tracks like “In My Corner” and “World Disorder” while the lyrical content and song titles lack the depth of much of the music underneath. If you’re looking for some meat and potatoes rock without a lot of heavy brain work a la Three Doors Down meets Taproot, Osyrus more than fits the bill.
www.osyrus.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Black My Heart,"Before the Devil" (Eulogy)
Tough guy straight edge is what Boston hardcore quintet Black My Heart uncoils on the nine-track BEFORE THE DEVIL. Gang shouted choruses, more chugging than a locomotive, and an essence of beatdown hardcore a la Bury Your Dead, Throwdown, and Terror can be found on “What You Know About” and “Remember Me”. Radiating the tones of East Coast brutality with conviction, Black My Heart may not be the most original or bloodthirsty band on the scene, but they do a stand-up job by providing concise chaotic hardcore concoctions.
www.eulogyrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Conspiracy of Thought,"Dance of the Revolution" (Indie Release)
Conspiracy of Thought is not your run of the mill rock band. This socially charged, politically aware quartet’s 10-track release exhibits a brand of funky hard rock a la POD while spouting out social injustices and the ills of society. Tracks like “Siege Engine” and “Back to Back” share revolutionary sentiments and barrages of heavy rock riffs crashing against bouncy rhythms. The band’s dynamic side also rears its head on “Bloodstained” and “Dia de Los Muertos”, taking a sojourn into U2’s more impassioned moments. Displaying a keen sense of their surroundings and a finger on the pulse of the rock crossover realm, DANCE OF THE REVOLUTION contains more than your average listener is ready for, but when properly prepared, will take you on a trip laden with solid facts and flavorful hard rock.
www.jointheconspiracy.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Lines Into Phoenix,"Aries" (Less Avenged)
Washington based Lines Into Phoenix’s frenetic display hits like Glassjaw meets Thursday via At The Drive In on the sextet’s six-track offering ARIES. Cascading melodies on tracks like “Epiphany 210” fit snuggly between swirling guitars while the screamo feel of “Coma Induction Via Aquarium” interlocks with the post hardcore rhythms. Taking the eclectic wares of bands like Coheed and Cambria and Open Hand and crossing them with the mainstream senses of Story of the Year, Lines Into Phoenix have created a captivating array of sounds that you get more and more from after repeated listening of ARIES.
www.lessavangedrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Various Artists,"Take Penacilin Now" (G7 Welcoming Committee)
This compilation screams revolution, literally, as this 19-track mish-mash of punk, rap, and rock contains bands that have graced the G7 Welcoming Committee catalog at one time or another. From the politically charged punk of Propagandhi to the militant rap stance of warsawpact to the chaotic metal of Malefaction, TAKE PENACILIN NOW is as diverse a comp you’ll find on the market. Emblazoned with eclectic acts such as Clann Zu and Consolidated and solidified with tracks by bands like The (International) Noise Conspiracy, this comp is long on cleverness and thought provoking material and is recommended for the free thinking spirits that like the harder edge of the spectrum.
www.g7welcomingcommittee.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Communic,"Conspiracy In Mind" (Nuclear Blast)
Scandinavian trio Communic displays its progressive leanings throughout the outfit’s seven-track CONSPIRACY IN MIND. This group showcases its savvy by writing long, intricate songs laden with twists and turns like “They Feed on Our Fear”, yet still find the right place to throw in heaping dollops of headbangingly good thrash metal on tracks such as “Ocean Bed”. Communic liberally borrows from bands like Nevermore without aping them completely, opting instead to fuse technicality and tumultuousness into an intriguing package that fans of all types of metal can find no fault with.
www.nuclearblastusa.co
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Old Man's Child,"Vermin" (Century Media)
The apocalyptic vision of black metal luminary Galder continues on Old Man’s Child’s sixth release, the menacing VERMIN. Now on break from his guitar duties with Dimmu Borgir, this Norwegian pioneer of the darker side of the metal realm returns to his pet solo project, playing everything sans drums on this nine-track opus to boot. From the blistering guitars of “Enslaved and Condemned” to the majestic maelstrom of “Lord of Command” to the keyboard-driven assault of “Black Marvels of Death”, this release is bursting with ferocious riffs, scalded vocals, and undeniable evil while retaining the initial raw black metal feel. A must have for the corpse painted contingent.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Iggy And The Stooges,"Telluric Chaos" (Skydog International Records)
Finally the fans that haven’t been lucky enough to catch the reconstituted Stooges in concert, we get this live CD. It’s Iggy, the Asheton brothers, Mike Watt and Steven Mackay on sax. Recorded in Tokyo in March 2004, this record absolutely rips. All the favorites from the 1st 2 records are here. Two songs from 2003’s Skull Ring fit in quite nicely with the older material-“Skull Ring” and “Electric Chair” are even more raw live. There’s even a preview of next year’s new record with “Idea Of Fun.” Iggy is in great vocal form-pushing the crowd into hysteria. Ron Asheton’s riffs still burn like hot sake shotgunned down your gullet. Brother Scott also rocks with reckless abandon. Mike Watt ably fills Dave Alexander’s shoes with his bass guitar histrionics. This is a worthy addition to The Stooges legacy. “No Fun” in 2005-who would have thunk it?
www.iggypop.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


Candygram For Mongo,"Candy For Strangers" (Indie Release)
Two man duo out of LA that is sure to cause a riot on the Sunset Strip in no time. As soon as they play live that is. 10 song sonic blast that covers all the punk rock bases. The record starts off the surf rock antics of “Moon”-think Agent Orange with Lemmy on guest vocals. “Porkchop” falls off the bone with some meaty riffage that Steve Jones would slobber over. “Nothing’s like your porkchop”-yummy! “Letter To A Friend” barrels along with Circle Jerks ferocity. “Rich Girl” is not a cover of the Dee Dee Ramone classic, but it pummels your eardrums just the same. This too short album ends by throwing your head against the wall with “Story Of Triumph.” I have no idea where this band of roughnecks came from but I smell Warped Tour 2006. Check the site to get your grubby little hands on a copy today.
www.myspace.com/candygramformongoband
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


The House Of Love,"Days Run Away" (Art and Industry Records)
After too many years to count, the band returns with a new line-up but their old sound still intact. Principals Guy Chadwick and Terry Bickers are joined by Pete Evans on drums and Matt Jury on bass. The results are thoroughly enjoyable. “Love You Too Much” should be a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Acoustic and electric guitars seamlessly interact on each track creating deep textures throughout. The title track is an upbeat rocker that has Guy Chadwick singing-“speak of angels, sunlit stories/freaks who get it right/losers take the winners/and the dullest make the brightest light fade/.” “Already Gone” has some nice female background vocals that may remind listeners of the band’s early days as a five piece. The record ends with the acoustic “Anyday I Want” that offers a nice coda to this release. “I’ve been saved” Guy and Terry harmonize, but the fans are the lucky ones with this one. Now maybe a US tour in 2006-that’s not asking too much, now is it?
www.thehouseoflove.co.uk
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Sean Koepenick


Roma 79,"The Great Dying" (Ascetic Records)
San Francisco trio that comes across as some bizarre mix of Jawbox and Rich Creamy Paint (before they became “born-again” of course). But somehow it does not sound like a rehash. It’s a living, breathing, beating thing. The band consists of Jeremy Patfield on bass and vocals, Aaron Bonsall on the trap kit and Andrew Skikne on guitar. This is their first full length, but it does not show from the material. The sound is tight, the playing crisp, the songwriting focused. “Kill The Sun” soars higher than that guy who tried to get to the sun by air. We all know how that turned out. “Angel Message” sports some bouncy bass lines that drive the song along with a pleasant backbeat. But the title track is the highlight on this one. Clocking in just under 7 minutes, it’s an epic piece of work. Head to Roma 79 and you’ll quickly forget where you were yesterday. I think that’s the point.
www.roma79.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


Hilken Mancini and Chris Colbourn,"Self titled" (Kimchee Records)
A collaboration between two of the heavyweights from the Boston music scene-Buffalo Tom and Fuzzy. Colbourn switches from bass to rhythm guitar while Mancini’s vocals and guitars anchor down the duo’s sound. The results are powerful and mesmerizing at the same time. From thrashy rockers like “Saint Agnes Eve” which features guest guitar from J. Mascis to somber ballads like “Moonbeams”, this record has it all. There’s so much variety here because they either trade vocals lines within a song, or take turns singing lead. It lends a intriguing feel to the whole proceedings. I can’t pick favorites here but Mancini shines on “Party Town” while Colbourn aces “Bad, Bad Little Bird” on this second version of a tune that first appeared on a Vital Cog single. Able back up is provided by Winston Braman (Consonant), Mike Savage (The Count Me Outs) and Phil Aiken (Crown Victoria). Get this and be the envy of all your unhip neighbors.
www.hilkenmancini.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Sean Koepenick


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