Every now and then a release comes along that deserves attention but for various reasons, a full blown review isn’t in the cards. Since two April releases fit that bill, we’re doing this rare and unusual music alert for the more discerning metal mavens (i.e. people with the good taste to share our tastes).
In short, knowledge is power and music (and whiskey) costs money.
Fates Warning //Awaken the Guardian Live
Fates Warning has been around forever, and for most of their long and storied career they’ve been helmed by frontman Ray Alder. But for old timers like me, the glory days of the band were back in the early 80s when John Arch led the troupe through Maiden-esque flights of galloping prog fancy. Albums like Night on Brocken and The Specter Within were killer platters of early prog-metal artistry, but their magnum opus was 1986s Awaken the Guardian. It was there the band’s ever evolving style exploded into a bigger-than-life experience blending traditional metal and progressive tendencies with near-perfect song craft. It still felt metal but there was so much going on musically and lyrically it could make your head swirl1.
To mark the album’s 30th anniversary (that makes me feel really fookin’ olde) the band reassembled the classic lineup for a series of appearances at the Keep It True and ProgPower USA XVII festivals where the album was played in its entirety. This 2 CD and DVD package documents those shows in rich, vibrant sound. For fans of the album and the Arch-era, this is like a time portal back to 86 and it’s unbelievable how little Mr. Arch’s voice changed over the decades. He delivers an amazing performance and it seems as if he never left the band at all. Metal Blade Records assembled a really nice package sure to ring nostalgia dollars from geezers like me, but every prog and classic metal fan should check it out.
Written By: Huck N’ Roll
Steve Grimmett // Personal Crisis
2017 has not been kind to Steve Grimmett. Partway through a South America tour, the veteran Grim Reaper warbler lost a limb due to an infection. Props to Mr. Grimmett, though, who has had a fantastic attitude during recovery, and will be hitting the stage once again this summer. As luck would have it, Dissonance Productions is re-releasing Steve’s 2007 solo album, Personal Crisis. For those of you who haven’t heard it, now is as good a time as any to give it a spin. If you were a little disappointed in last year’s Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper release Walking in the Shadows like we were, Personal Crisis will make up for it.
Aside from the superb Grim Reaper cover “Wrath of the Ripper,” Personal Crisis is very much a straight-up metal album – and a good one, at that – with no real Grim Reaper feel. The songs are catchy, with top-notch axework and a killer rhythm section. At times the keyboards are a bit too dominant, lending a couple of songs a slight power-metal quality, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. And Grimmett himself is in prime form here, his voice full of power and his upper range as good as ever. I’ve always thought of him as a metal version of Lou Gramm, with his classic-sounding airy rasp, and Personal Crisis is a perfect backdrop for Steve’s vocal prowess.