Helloween

Holy Grail – Ride the Void Review

Holy Grail – Ride the Void Review

Holy Grail is one of these new-wave, big-named bands that got picked up by Nuclear Blast in the last couple of years that I had never really bothered to check out. Mostly my apathy can be blamed on crankiness ’cause I’m old. But their specific brand of nod-to-the-old-school power metal with a modern edge seems to perfectly encapsulate a lot of what’s going on in the metal scene these days, and their 2010 release Crisis in Utopia was met with generally positive responses. Still, I somehow managed to ignore these guys when they dropped their first record and given all the chatter I figured I’d make up for that by giving Ride the Void a go.

Seven Kingdoms – The Fire is Mine Review

Seven Kingdoms – The Fire is Mine Review

Through hellstorms, hail and snow, Steel Druhm keeps delivering the power metal like a creepy, metal-obsessed mailman in full battle armor. Today’s package includes the classic power stylings from Seven Kingdoms. If you like the super catchy Hammerfall and Gamma Ray sound, this will blow your mind as it did Mr. Steel’s. It seems there’s no end to the power metal destruction he plans to unleash on these here pages in the coming weeks, so batten down the hatches and prepare accordingly.

Vision Divine – Destination Set to Nowhere Review

Vision Divine – Destination Set to Nowhere Review

When I was an Angry Metal Lad I discovered what was then the burgeoning europower scene in the late 90s early aughts. Deeply influenced by the likes of RageHelloween, and Stratovarius I began to be taken in by any band that had a lot of double bass, virtuoso keyboard and guitar solos and a dude who sang moderately operatically but wasn’t too annoying. This held me over for a long time, discovering bands that still stick with me to today as some of my favorites including [Luca Turilli’s] Rhapsody [of Fire]Blind Guardian, Sonata Arctica and myriads of others (as well as their aforementioned influences). But like any scene, this one had its boundaries and excesses and after a while I started to get bored. In that process, I missed Vision Divine – an Italian power metal band that includes Rhapsody’s vocalist Fabio Lione who released their first record in 1999.

Blind Guardian – Memories of a Time to Come Review

Blind Guardian – Memories of a Time to Come Review

I commented yesterday on Twitter and Facebook that if a band I listen to deserves a Best Of record, it’s Blind Guardian. That wasn’t just a comment out of nowhere, instead that was me reacting to this monster of a digital edition of Memories of a Time to Come. But after three hours of listening to Blind Guardian, I have to say that their ideas of what their best material is and mine don’t seem to quite overlap. Let me explain…

Iron Savior – The Landing Review

Iron Savior – The Landing Review

In the “Barons of Bombast” wing of the Pantheon of Metal, no band has a pedestal quite as lofty as Manowar. Since their birth in the late 70s, they’ve pretty much cornered the market on over-the-top cliches, cheese-wizardry and shameless loincloth abuse. One of the few pretenders to that furry, mead-stained throne of excess (besides Rhapsody, Rhapsody of Fire, Rhapsody of Luca, etc. etc.) are these Germanic purveyors of silly sci-fi lyrics, steely anthems and lusty over-production. It’s true, Iron Savior has never shied away from painful cliches, absurdly goofy concepts or exaggerated paeans to things metallic. If their multi-album concept about the misadventures of a sentient spaceship called “Iron Savior” wasn’t proof enough for you, don’t pursue a career in investigative services. In case you missed the back story, Iron Savior is the creation of one Piet Sielck, a close friend and former band mate of Kai Hansen (Helloween, Gamma Ray). The early Savior albums were close collaborations between Piet and Kai, firmly rooted in Germanic power metal but injected a lot of traditional and NWOBHM influences into the mix. Their material was so damn catchy and fun, I didn’t mind the silly space-opera lyrics or their propensity to sound overdone (a friend dubbed them “the most overproduced band ever”). The Landing is the first new Savior release since 2007’s Megatropolis and long-time fans can breathe easy, because absolutely nothing has changed! The bombast, the cheese, the vintage sound and style, it’s all back, bigger than ever (if that’s even possible). This is big boy power/traditional metal with attitude, balls and delusions of grandeur. In other words, its stupid fun and really rocks!

Angry Metal Guy’s Best Heavy Metal Songs of All Time 30-21

Angry Metal Guy’s Best Heavy Metal Songs of All Time 30-21

Closer and closer we draw to the best heavy metal song of all time, but indeed there is much in between and none of it has been come to lightly. I actually have spent a lot of time mulling over this list since its creation and I am pleased, thus far I can’t think of anything major that I’ve left out, which must mean that they are not indeed ‘top songs’ at all. But let me get to one note of concern that people have raised. They say that one of the reasons that a list like Gibson’s travesty is valid is because “it’s hard to know if these songs can stand the test of time!” I just want to take a minute to call bullshit.

Jag Panzer – The Scourge of the Light Review

Jag Panzer – The Scourge of the Light Review

Jag Panzer has been an American metal institution since the early 80’s and they’ve always been a band that you could rely on to clobber you with enormous, powerful, top-notch heavy metal of the traditional school. They’re also the original American power metal act. Their take on power metal being far different than the textbook European approach, Jag Panzer were always much heavier, tougher and had more balls than the Helloweens, Gamma Rays and such of the Euro-school. Built around the mammoth, masculine and powerhouse vocals of Harry “the Tyrant” Conklin, the Panzer sound was always hard-edged, large and much closer to the NWOBHM style of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. After a wait of nearly seven years since 2004’s Casting the Stones, The Panzer finally rolls again and we get album eight (nine if you count the long shelved Chain of Command opus), The Scourge of the Light. Was it worth the long wait? Does Moonsorrow piss in the snow? [Was the Pope a Nazi? – AMG] Of course it was worth it! Scourge is a welcome and mighty return to the metal throne by Jag Panzer and they brings us ten new slices of old school metal glory.

Tankard – Vol(l)ume 14 Review

Tankard – Vol(l)ume 14 Review

Wow, back in the day when the first few Tankard albums stumbled into the light like a wino from a dark alley, I never imagined these guys would be around very long. While amusing, they were the essence of a third tier act and didn’t stand out all that much even in the heyday of thrash. Well, since I now find myself reviewing album fourteen by these alcohol fueled Germanic thrashers, I would say I was pretty wrong about my initial impressions. While these guys were never in the same league as Sodom, Kreator or Destruction they still managed to become an enduring and productive minor league team. Unlike their bigger peers in the German thrash scene, Tankard was always silly, tongue-in-cheek and largely wrote on the few topics they knew best: drinking, partying and alcohol. Since I myself was a hard partying youth, I casually enjoyed their Chemical Invasion and The Morning After releases for their good humor and frantic pace. After that they dropped off my radar and only in the past week did I start getting to know the Tankard again. Although the goofy, “anything goes” feel is still there, the music and writing doesn’t hold up like I remember it. Once the nostalgia factor wore off, things started tasting a little skunky.

Stratovarius – Elysium Review

Stratovarius – Elysium Review

Stratovarius is a name synonymous with European power metal and right up there with Gamma Ray and Helloween. Over the course of their long recording history they’ve created stellar examples of the style and several of their albums reside on my all time power metal playlist (Destiny, Visions, Episodes, Fourth Dimension, Infinite). Along with these past successes, Stratovarius had their share of ups and downs, including their infamous and acrimonious split with founding member/guitarist/chief songwriter Timo Tolkki (Revolution Renaissance). Both before and after this split, Stratovarius released some uneven albums and went through a phase where they indulged in bloated, overly orchestrated symphonic styles and for many long time fans, this was regrettable (Elements Parts I and II). While 2009’s Polaris seemed to right the ship, Elysium shows considerable backsliding toward these past missteps. While still a decent album with some great moments, it fails to rise anywhere near the level of past triumphs and ultimately bogs down amid ponderous pacing and overwrought orchestration.