Cirith Ungol

Sinister Realm – The Crystal Eye Review

Sinister Realm – The Crystal Eye Review

I think we’re finally approaching the tipping point for 80’s retro metal. By that I mean if these 80’s worship albums keep coming, the space-time continuum will shift and we’ll all get dumped back in the 80’s for reals. That would pose problems for me since I no longer own parachute pants and high tops. Despite the obvious perils we all face, if the retro releases sound as good as Sinister Realm, I’ll take my chances. These stalwart retro rockers from Pennsylvania released a killer self titled debut in 2009 and it was one of the best albums that year that no one knew about or heard. Undeterred, they rise again with The Crystal Eye and its more quality, righteous metal for the masses. Sounding like a mash up of Argus, Manowar, Cirith Ungol and Heaven and Hell era Black Sabbath, Sinister Realm excels at stripped down but classy traditional metal with a doom influence. Its straight forward, no nonsense, rocked out metal and I have to say, I love it. There’s more balls on display over the course of this album than a lot of bands show over a career. Simple at times, heavy all the time and exceptionally catchy, this may finally get these sinister ones some well deserved attention.

The Living Fields – Running Out of Daylight Review

The Living Fields – Running Out of Daylight Review

Now this was a tough album to review. I had a devil of a time trying to get through the music and honestly couldn’t even figure out what genre, sub-genre or sub-sub-genre these Chicago progressive metallers belonged in. You see, The Living Fields are so all over the place with their sound on their sophomore release Running Out of Daylight, they utterly defy conventional pigeonholing. At various times during the album’s playtime, they touch on ambient, darkwave, post rock, black metal, death metal, doom metal, folk and power metal. Yes, they cover their bases fully. In some ways these chaps could be called a more linear and rational version of Therion. They have all the same orchestration, pomp and variety and sport multiple vocalists of varying styles. However, they lack Therion’s lunatic charm, off the rails approach and overall entertainment factor. Although far more restrained in their songwriting, their compositions have a cold feeling and lack of cohesion that made it very difficult to get into. While I can’t dispute their creativity and musical ability, this is a strangely distant album that has resisted all my efforts to enjoy it in a meaningful way. It’s also a very challenging album to describe so stick with Steel Druhm and he will do his bestest.

Manilla Road – Playground of the Damned Review

Manilla Road – Playground of the Damned Review

Manilla Road, thy name is cult! These aged metallers from Kansas have been keeping it “true” since before the 80’s. Over their long existence they released no less than fourteen albums of old school, vintage metal to the acclaim of a small but loyal niche following. Led by guitarist/singer Mark “The Shark” Shelton, they’ve plumbed the depths of 70’s and early 80’s metal, some albums sounding like old Cirith Ungol, some moving closer to Manowar, Doomsword and Slough Feg. They’ve always lived in that realm between classic metal and doom and their discography has its great moments (and a few missteps as well). In some circles these guys have attained legendary status and while they clearly deserve it for dedication, I never thought their material was all that consistent. However, I always find myself rooting for them to succeed. I did so again with their fifteenth album Playground of the Damned, but I’m not too thrilled with the end product. Like some prior albums, there are great moments but some cringy ones as well. Definitely an acquired taste and not for everyone, this is one of those bands you really have to hear for yourself. However, I will endeavor to do my humble best to describe what lies within as only the Lord High Protector Steel Druhm can.

Steel Druhm’s Best Heavy Metal Songs of All Time 40-31

Steel Druhm’s Best Heavy Metal Songs of All Time 40-31

You know, I’ve had some quiet, introspective time to think about this whole “best songs list” thing. Maybe we’re wasting our time preaching about our metal cred. Maybe Gibson’s list is just as valid as Angry Metal Guy’s (50-41, 40-31) list or my list (50-41). I’m sure many of you out there have your own lists and they’re great too. As I mulled this over and over, I more I was forced to finally accept that my list is the one true list and superior to all others (except mine, of course – AMG). Now that we cleared that up, here’s more of THE List (that is right below Angry Metal Guy’s list on the pecking order – AMG).