Retro Reviews

Retro-Review: December Wolves – Completely Dehumanized

Retro-Review: December Wolves – Completely Dehumanized

“1996. Yours truly graduated high school and landed a job at what would end up being GameStop. At the Electronics Boutique I was working at (Rockingham Park, Salem, New Hampshire), I would sometimes be visited by a lanky, long-haired dude wearing various different black metal shirts. One shirt was of a band called December Wolves, and I told him that was an interesting name for a band. He smiled and said, “Thanks, man. I’m the bass player. Check us out sometime.” Yep, that’s my story of how I met Brian Izzi (now best known as the guitarist for crusty grinders Trap Them) and got wind of December Wolves.” Tales of wind and wolves shall trap them all.

Retro-Review: Blaze – Tenth Dimension

Retro-Review: Blaze – Tenth Dimension

Tenth Dimension got name-dropped in my “Top 15(ish) of the 2000s” from 2010 and I have mentioned it from time to time on the blog. Every time a few readers show up and say stuff like “Oh man, yeah! Such a sadly overlooked record!” And while it is sad that it’s been overlooked, Tenth Dimension was released in a pretty difficult context. Blaze Bayley was basically a musical leper who got signed to SPV because of his name and connections to Iron Maiden. The story of his first post-Maiden band is one where everything was stacked against them, including signing with a label that obviously didn’t expect the band to amount to anything. BLAZE‘s debut album, Silicon Messiah, got released on the same day as Brave New World, and (shock) no one heard it. Yet it was hard hitting, modern and conveniently in a key that worked for Bayley’s voice. It was also produced by Andy Sneap and was thick and heavy. Two years later, the band turned around and dropped a concept album called Tenth Dimension, which not only features some of my favorite artwork ever, but ranks among my favorite heavy metal records of all time. With a review of Blaze Bayley‘s Infinite Entanglement in the pipeline, it got me thinking about this amazing album again.” And rather than wax 800 words about it as an ‘intro’ to my review of the new record, I thought I’d give it its own post.

Opeth – Deliverance [Bruce Soord Vinyl Remix] – Review

Opeth – Deliverance [Bruce Soord Vinyl Remix] – Review

Deliverance has the honor of being my least favorite Opeth album prior to the release of Watershed. At the time, I was still seeing the band frequently on the road and enjoyed the records well enough, but I have to admit that I was much more a fan of Damnation than Deliverance. Early on I suggested that this may be due to the fact that the majority of the band’s best acoustic material was saved for the acoustic record. But as the years went on, I think realized that I always felt like the songwriting was choppier on Deliverance, a critique I later made of both Watershed and Heritage. After buying the remixes of Damnation and Deliverance released at the end of 2015 and reading Mikael Åkerfeldt’s liner notes, I have to say that I feel mollified.

Retro-spective Review:  Zao – Liberate Te Ex Inferis

Retro-spective Review: Zao – Liberate Te Ex Inferis

“I realize that my covering this album will be a little controversial for some readers out there. Yes, the cover is a close-up of a dude’s heavily made-up eyeball, accentuated by black fingernail-polished hands. And yes, it’s metalcore.” We dont often highlight metalcore albums (for obvious reasons ), but Grymm has a soft spot for this golden oldie of the core scene.

Retro-spective Review: Powermad – Absolute Power

Retro-spective Review: Powermad – Absolute Power

“The third and fourth waves of thrash washing ashore in the late 80s and early 90s saw their share of dead fish and used condoms. But even amongst that flotsam were a few hidden gems that had they arrived a few years earlier might have been regarded as genre classics. Powermad‘s sole full-length was one of those ill-timed pieces of precious driftwood. Absolute Power was a slick, surprisingly mature debut loaded with high level progressive playing and even higher writing standards.” Avoid Coney Island whitefish, but don’t avoid this forgotten treasure.

Retro-spective Review:  Funeral – From These Wounds

Retro-spective Review: Funeral – From These Wounds

“Classic doom metal is wrought with tragedy. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the pain of watching one’s dreams turn to dust, or just lamenting something that was never there to begin with, great doom metal can be both depressingly cathartic and strangely uplifting in its dirges and sadness. In fact, a series of tragedies would befall a very young doom band from Norway rightfully named Funeral.” This is a sad tale, my friends.

Retro-spective Review: Dark Angel – Darkness Descends

Retro-spective Review: Dark Angel – Darkness Descends

“When historians look back at the original thrash wave of the 80s, it’s usually Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth that get the lion’s share of the attention. It’s admittedly hard to deny the timeless nature of the early works by such seminal acts and it’s obvious these were the bands that defined the sound and style. That doesn’t mean they were the only ones who released genre-defining works however. Case in point was the sophomore platter by California speed freaks, Dark Angel.” Steel Druhm is back to shower much deserved accolades on one of the best thrash albums of all time.

Retro-spective Review: Lizzy Borden – Master of Disquise

Retro-spective Review: Lizzy Borden – Master of Disquise

“Lizzy Borden was the charming tyke famous for chopping up her folks with an axe (allegedly). Lizzy Borden the band (and the man) are much less famous, and that’s why I’m casting the attention nets back through time to land their magnum opus for your consideration. As part of the wave of slightly glamy hair metal acts that spewed from L.A. in the 80s, Lizzy and W.A.S.P. were basically cut from the same animal print cloth. They wanted to be metal, but sought to incorporate lots of radio friendly hooks and glam, sleaze n’ trash theatrics.” Ready for a hair metal rock opera? Wait, come back, it’s really good!

Retro-Spective Review:  Anacrusis – Screams and Whispers

Retro-Spective Review: Anacrusis – Screams and Whispers

“I get sad when bands don’t get their just due. I get sadder when I find out about that band after they had disbanded. One fateful night in 1993, I was watching MTV’s Headbangers Ball and caught a video of “Sound the Alarm” by St. Louis, Missouri’s progressive thrashers, Anacrusis. From what I’ve read online, “Sound the Alarm” was played once and only once on that show, and it was after the band had called it quits earlier that year. I was fortunate enough to be floored by that song.” Join Grymm as he shines a light on a truly under-appreciated metal treasure.

Retro-spective Review: Warrior – Fighting for the Earth

Retro-spective Review: Warrior – Fighting for the Earth

I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to this little gem of an album. It pretty much defines the term “forgotten classic” and I’m sure many never even heard of Warrior. They’ve had an extremely stop-start career, having released only four albums in 30 years, but their 1985 debut Fighting for the Earth is a classic piece of 80s metal loaded with top-notch, super memorable anthems that straddle the line between a classic, old school style and gritty hard rock. Sounding like a mix of early Savatage, Obsession and Armored Saint, it’s one of those platters that epitomized the early American metal sound and after this release they were often spoken of in the same breath as Queensryche as the “next big thing.” Steel Druhm grew up with this album and he’s always annoyed nobody knows about it. So…know about it!