Heavy Metal

Dawnbringer – Nucleus Review

Dawnbringer – Nucleus Review

Interesting release we have right here folks. For those unaware, Dawnbringer is a project band of sorts for Chris Black (Pharaoh, Nachtmystium, Superchrist) and his guitar playing buddies and together they create something like a mix of NWOBHM, straight up American metal, black metal, thrash and doom (there’s even moments of quasi-southern rock). Tell me that doesn’t sound intriguing, I dare you! Nucleus is their fourth full-length and yep, it’s one humdinger of a rickety metal contraption. At times sounding like a weird mash-up of Iron Maiden, Slough Feg, Motorhead and Black Sabbath, this thing rumbles and rambles all over the place and always seems ready to come unhinged but it just screams METAL! From the production, riffs and vocals, there’s an ever present rough and tough vibe and despite the myriad of styles and influences Dawnbringer tries to squish together, they somehow managed to craft some great metal songs that will stick in your head for a long time.

Virgin Steele – The Black Light Bacchanalia Review

Virgin Steele – The Black Light Bacchanalia Review

OK, what the hell is going on here? Why are metal’s elder statesmen forgetting to include metal on their metal albums? First Halford and now this? Virgin Steele has been around since forever (1982), and singer, keyboardist, pianist, composer David DeFeis is a near legendary figure in the metal scene who happens to hail from my neck of the woods in New York. Growing up, I always considered Virgin Steele a poor man’s Manowar (and I think these guys felt the same way). Although I was never a die-hard fan, they had some good early albums and DeFeis is a talented musician and truly gifted and versatile vocalist. However, on album twelve, the pompously titled The Black Light Bacchanalia, DeFeis and company have opted to create nearly ninety minutes of what can best be described as Manowar meets chamber music meets Vegas lounge music. Conceptually, easy listening/lounge Manowar is the equal of other such self defeating ideas as room temperature fire and Shakespeare performed by mimes. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Ross the Boss – Hailstorm Review

Ross the Boss – Hailstorm Review

Is this new Manowar? No, that it ain’t. So it’s Rossowar? Closer, but still no. What we actually have before us is Hailstorm, the second album by Ross the Boss. Mr. The Boss was of course the original fret master for the legendary Manowar and he played on all their classic, seminal albums before riding off to seek glory on his own (yes AMG, there really are classic Manowar albums [I resent that statement. – AMG]). So what type of music would one of the founding fathers of sword and furry loincloth metal create in this day and age? Well, those hoping Ross assembled a merry band of Manowar imitators will be disappointed. While there are several unsubtle stylistic nods to his original band (the most unsubtle band of all time), this is way less Mano-thematic than 2008’s New Metal Leader and focuses more on early 80’s style metal and straight ahead power metal. In some ways this departure from his musical comfort zone works, in others it falls just a bit short.

Halford – Made of Metal Review

Halford – Made of Metal Review

This will come as an unwelcome surprise to Angry Metal folks everywhere, but the new Halford album Made of Metal isn’t angry and is only partly made of metal. Despite the deceptive title, Halford’s third solo album is a diverse but confusing mix of awkward, mostly flawed metal anthems, cheesy love songs with a metallic edge and poppy bubble gum metal/rock. Amid this confusion, only a few quality metal moments can be found. With all due respect to one of the founding fathers of heavy metal and a living legend to many (myself included), the results here are wildly inconsistent and just flat out disappointing.

Sahg – III Review

Sahg – III Review

Retro is the new new, apparently. Everyone and their dog is doing retro bands doing old school things with better (or at least louder) production and with the sensibilities of generations who have listened to a lot of music and decided that it’s time to come back to the thing that really seems to unite them: the 1970s. I, myself, have been listening to a lot of stuff from the 1970s lately, and especially the progressive rock movement that influenced many of the musicians from Scandinavia seems to be rearing its head in an interesting combination of traditional hard rock, heavy metal sensibilities and dudes who used to play black metal. Sahg’s III embodies this movement sonically, and does it very, very well.

Grand Magus – Hammer of the North Review

Grand Magus – Hammer of the North Review

It seems a sad fact that when one anticipates something and really looks forward to it, the chance of being disappointed increases exponentially. After Grand Magus unleashed their wildly impressive Iron Will album in 2008 (which was one of my favorite albums that year), I was extremely stoked for a follow up by this cadre of Swedish metal mongers but wondered if they could match or top the quality of that massive platter. Now that I have the anxiously awaited follow up in the form of their fifth album, Hammer of the North, my fears of being let down seem silly, because once again Grand Magus shows that they know how to craft top quality traditional heavy metal songs with a slight doom tinged edge.

Iron Maiden Moons the US

Iron Maiden Moons the US

In an attempt to not re-post Blabbermouth’s news like many of the blogs out there (since yes, I, too am unfortunately tied to Blabbermouth for my news), I try to do a bit more analysis and opinion on certain things. Think of me as the pundit to your regular news hour. Anyway, I have often given Iron Maiden shit about their American tours. Now once again they’re skipping the midwest in the US for the most part, and unfortunately they’re not coming to Sweden except for the stupid Sonisphere festival which costs way too much to just see Maiden (RIP Dio.). But one of the things I’ve often complained about is Maiden’s reluctance to do new tours in the US or to play deep cuts on tours (can’t you play Alexander the Great JUST ONCE!?).

Blaze Videos in Stockholm

The Swedish blogger (and ridiculously fucking metal) Demonia has posted some pictures and videos (in Swedish, though, she’s got Google translator embedded for the foreigners) from Blaze Bayley’s show in Stockholm. I, being Poor Metal Guy, managed to miss this one, but hopefully they’ll be back soon (though, what with shedding their manager and drummer in the last few days I’m not sure when that’ll actually be). Anyway, the turnout seems like it was actually pretty damn good and the band is on. I have to say that their bassist (David Bermudez) is one of the best heavy metal performers I’ve ever seen. I commented on it from the live DVD, the dude is just a fucking beast. Los hermanos Bermúdez are pretty awesome in general, I’d say. I’ll post four here, but she’s got others on her blog and some on YouTube as well.

Bison B.C. – Dark Ages Review

Bison B.C. – Dark Ages Review

Another record from Metal Blade’s Canadian installation and the third record from Canadian 70s-metal-meets-hardcore band Bison BC. This record took me totally by surprise, as I’d never heard of this band before and wasn’t really sure of what to expect. Honestly, all I had to go with was the look of the record and it looked very 70s. That fact alone hasn’t been very reassuring, while there are some bands out there trying to push the sound a bit, it just feels like another nostalgia movement that isn’t going anywhere to me so I tend to be pretty skeptical of such records.

White Wizzard – Over the Top Review

White Wizzard – Over the Top Review

There is an interesting irony to throwback bands like White Wizzard and a lot of the other thrash throwbacks that are coming out right now, which is that at one point in time what these guys were doing was forward thinking. I know it’s hard to believe, in a world where metal is used to support stupid ideologies, backwards thinking or just generally brutish and retarded behavior, it’s hard to think of metal as progressive, but in 1980, metal was outside of the box. Bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard were just cutting their teeth, Lars Ulrich was busy stealing their riffs and ideas and heavy metal was fresh, young, innovative and above all rebellious and really, really interesting.