Painkiller

Manimal – Trapped in the Shadows Review

Manimal – Trapped in the Shadows Review

“This is quite a surprise, as I never expected to hear from these guys again. Manimal (who’s name I hate because it reminds me of the ultra cheesy 70s sci-fi show) dropped a promising debut in 2009 then proceeded to fall off the edge of the world. I forgot them, life went on and then, BOOM! A new Manimal album arrives in my promo bin.” No one knows when the Manimal may strike!

Satan’s Host – Pre-dating God Parts I and II Review

Satan’s Host – Pre-dating God Parts I and II Review

“This is a strange metal saga, so bear with me. Satan’s Host formed way back in 1977 as a classic American metal band not far removed from Priest and Maiden. Though lurking in the shadows for years, they weren’t able to get anything released until 1985 when the band was joined by the ever mighty Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin of Jag Panzer fame. Their Metal From Hell debut attained a sort of cult status for its hijacking of Mercyful Fate’s sound and the mystery of who was and wasn’t in the band (thus making them the original Ghost).” Steel Druhm didn’t see this coming and got sucker punched…twice!

Wolf – Devil Seed Review

Wolf – Devil Seed Review

Wolf has been running at the forefront of the retro metal pack for a while now, surpassing even the vainglorious cheese meisters of Hammerfall. They’ve done so with slick, memorable song writing and a healthy respect for their elders like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate. Although they’re utterly devoid of originality or new influences, they’ve been uncannily skilled at aping and raping the past for golden metal moments of steel. 2011s Legions of Bastards had a strong Painkiller vibe, but Devil Seed slows things down and adopts a darker,more restive, simmering mood, like a filthy mob of commoners perpetually on the verge of rioting against the haughty upper crust.” Honey, the Wolf is at the door again!

Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls Review

Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls Review

“What I’m about to say comes after a long and devoted love affair withJudas Priest: they should have broken up after Painkiller. Don’t agree? Well, let’s review. The Ripper era was reheated rhino shit and as our reward for steadfast loyalty we got the lukewarm Angel of Retribution only to be punished with the double length dumpster fire that was Nostradamus. Still not convinced? Maybe Redeemer of Souls will be the straw that breaks the law.” Hear that? It’s the sad wings of destiny flapping overhead.

Helstar – The Wicked Nest Review

Helstar – The Wicked Nest Review

Helstar is a band I’ve always held close to my metal heart. I grew up with them and their early albums were always big favorites. Their Burning Star debut was a classic slice of early American metal and featured the godly “Run With the Pack,” which I slotted in at #8 of my best metal songs of all time. Follow-ups Remnants of War and Distant Thunder were pure, balls to the walls, classic metal with attitude, and 1989s Nosferatu introduced a more thrashy, yet neo-classical style that hit hard and left a lasting impression.” Can the 2014 Helstar still wow Steel the Fanboy?

Aska – Fire Eater Review

Aska – Fire Eater Review

“There aren’t many modern bands that pull off that vintage 80s American metal style without sounding contrived or cheesy or both. Aska is an unheralded, mega-obscure band that can count themselves among the few with that magic touch. Though in existence since 1994, they’ve only managed to release six albums, and Fire Eater is the long-awaited (by thirty of us) follow-up to 2007s Absolute Power. Apart from the glaring lack or productivity, they’ve had long-running issues with the consistency of their material. While they were capable of penning some real old school scorchers, they also had a tendency to drop a few stinkers per album that would leave me shaking my head. Still, when they nail their brand of traditional metal, it rings loud and trve across the land.” If Steel Druhm doesn’t get to review retro metal every few weeks he gets all bent out of shape. Maybe the old timey charm of Aska will get him back to his usual grouchy self.

Angels of Babylon – Thundergod Review

Angels of Babylon – Thundergod Review

“During my tenure at AMG Industries, I’ve made my opinion on super groups well known. For those who missed that memo (and shame on you), I’ve found that whenever various and sundry artists collaborate on some highfalutin side project, the results are often a mixed bag and prone to being weak and/or tepid. Even worse is when third or fourth tier artists get together to form pseudo-super groups. Angels of Babylon is one such minor league collective, featuring the likes of Kenny “Rhino” Earl (ex-Manowar, ex-Holy Hell), Steve Handel (Seventh Calling, Protest) and Diego Valdez (Skiltron, Helker). If you just thought “Who? Who? What? Who?’, I’m right there with you.” Okay, so we have a third tier project band. That doesn’t mean they can’t write some godly tunes, does it? Pack a lunch as Steel Druhm takes you cherry picking.

Riot – Immortal Soul Review

Riot – Immortal Soul Review

Steel Druhm is as happy as a pig in shite! You see, one of my all time favorite metal albums is Riot’s Thundersteel. Although it was released way back in 1988, I still listen to it regularly and felt the burning need to write a Retro-spective Review of it a few months ago to spread the gospel. So masterful was that platter, Riot never even came close to equaling it with their later output. In fact, the immortal Thundersteel lineup only recorded one more album together (the very good Privilege of Power) and after that, things dropped off a lot. Now, twenty-three long years later, that powerhouse lineup has reunited to record a proper followup to their magnum opus. Naturally, I was skeptical they could re-bottle the might and magic and create something as brilliant, especially after so many years. Well, I was wrong to doubt, because Immortal Soul is the modern day version of Thundersteel and the best album of 2011 (so far). It has everything that made the Thundersteel sound so intoxicating. There’s speed, power, wailing vocals, blistering guitars, top-flight song writing, amazingly catchy melodies, choruses and smart lyrics. It’s a winner every way an album can be and its the record I’ve been praying for Riot to write since ’88. If you love the classic, traditional sounds of Judas Priest (think Painkiller), Iron Maiden and especially American acts like Jag Panzer and old Agent Steel, this will blow you away. If you, like me, loved Thundersteel, prepare to be stunned, stupefied and shellacked.

Retro-spective Review: Riot – Thundersteel

Retro-spective Review: Riot – Thundersteel

Unlike the other bands featured in these Retro-spective reviews, New York’s own Riot is a seminal, long running and well known act. Slogging away since 1977, they released classic albums like Rock City and Fire Down Under. So why are they included here you ask? Well, one of their albums seems to have been lost in time and forgotten even though I regard it as their best by far. That album is, or course 1988’s Thundersteel. This release marked a stark departure in sound for Riot. Forgoing their more traditional, slower 70’s roots, Thundersteel was all about intense Painkiller-like aggression, soaring vocals and speed speed and more speed. Maybe it was the arrival of vocalist extraordinaire Tony Moore or just something in the NYC water that year but this album is one non-stop explosion of blistering guitar, air raid vocals, superb writing and unreal energy. It was a sound and urgency they never recaptured despite very strong moments on their 1990 follow up The Privilege of Power. Since this album is a true buried treasure of speed/power, I felt it was job, nay, my DUTY to bring it back out of the shadows in 2011. Commence the learning!

Vicious Rumors – Razorback Killers Review

Vicious Rumors – Razorback Killers Review

2011 is turning out to be a great year for metal thus far. I find myself giving out 4.0 and 4.5 left and right and there’s lots of new stuff I’m really enjoying. With all due modesty, I caused this to happen by predicting the new Belphegor would be one of my top picks unless we had a truly banner year in metal. Well, you can thank your beloved Steel Druhm for the self-jinx by sending him all the finest ales, meats and cheeses from across the lands. Moving on, we come to another surprisingly good release, this time by long running San Francisco vets Vicious Rumors. These chaps have been knocking around since 1979 and put out some great albums early in their career like their self-titled opus and Welcome to the Ball (their debut even featured mega guitar ace Vinnie Moore). After the tragic death of vocalist Carl Albert in 1995, there was a long dry spell of lackluster and mediocre albums and not until 2006’s Warball did they truly get back into vintage fighting shape again. After a lengthy wait, they finally return with Razorback Killers and once again show themselves capable of much ass kickery and name takery.