Savatage

Circle II Circle – Reign of Darkness Review

Circle II Circle – Reign of Darkness Review

Circle II Circle keeps chugging along, tirelessly offering a stripped-down, threadbare reminder of what Zak Stevens era Savatage sounded like – just in case those albums get raptured away or something. This is their seventh album of mid-tempo metal with hard rock and AOR influences, and though the blueprint delivered some good moments (Watching in Silence, Burden of Truth), the past few outings felt increasingly watered down and bereft of inspiration, culminating in the dissipated lethargy of 2013s Seasons Will Fall.” With two spheres in the title, how can you go wrong?

Queensrÿche – Condition Hüman Review

Queensrÿche – Condition Hüman Review

“Against seemingly impossible odds, Queensrÿche roared back from the adult-contemporary abyss two years ago with their self-titled album. The band had parted ways acrimoniously with vocalist Geoff Tate, replacing him with newcomer Todd LaTörre (Crimson Glory) and reconnecting to their prog and metal roots. The resulting album was shockingly good, proving that the band could indeed survive without their former frontman. Now that that’s been settled, the band’s 2nd act continues with Condition Hüman. How many Bitcoins would Gëoff Tate pay for this bad boy?

Jorn Lande and Trond Holter – Dracula: The Swing of Death Review

Jorn Lande and Trond Holter – Dracula: The Swing of Death Review

When word of this rock opera treatment of Dracula from none other than The Rock King and Trond Holter (current guitarist for Rock King’s solo albums) hit the streets, let’s just say there was a difference of opinion between AMG and myself as to the merits thereof. Never much of a Jornophile, AMG wanted no mention of it on his pristine webpage. But how can we ignore a Broadway-inspired concept album about that immortal Lord of Darkness, Dracula Von Impalerstein?” Are you ready for the Dracula Spectacula? Jorn is and he’s chewing on your scenery.

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: 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!

Hell – Curse and Chapter Review

Hell – Curse and Chapter Review

“There’s an interesting history behind Hell. As a part of the original NWoBHM, they were close to releasing an album alongside contemporaries like Saxon and Iron Maiden, but bad luck and personal tragedy brought them low and derailed their best laid plans. Though they never made it past the demo stage, they were influential in the scene and championed by folks like producer and former Sabbat guitarist Andy Sneap. So taken with their old demos was he, that he encouraged the members to reform and give it another go with him on guitar, which resulted in 2011s Human Remains opus. That platter featured some ancient tunes loaded with NWoBHM flair and a noticeable Mercyful Fate influence, and while the music was highly enjoyable, I struggled mightily with the delivery of front man David Bower, which was overdone, uber-theatrical and at times, very cheeseball parmesan.” Now that they’ve had some time to sort things out, can Hell deliver some metal for the ages or are they still suffering from Drama Overload Disorder? Steel Druhm has the prognosis.

Warbringer – IV: Empires Collapse Review

Warbringer – IV: Empires Collapse Review

“With Hallow’s Eve in the air and the holiday season just around the corner, I feel safe looking back on 2013 and saying it wasn’t the greatest year for metal. It’s certainly true that the better stuff seems to be coming out on the back-end, but overall, it has been a lean time for top-notch albums. This is especially true for the rethrash/thrash genre, with very few albums jumping out and smacking me in the gob. Keeping true to form, the better stuff is seeping out now, with solid releases from Death Angel and Toxic Holocaust and now, a winner from Warbringer. IV: Empires Collapse sees these California rethrashers take a big step from the effective, but somewhat generic Bay Area Thrash sound exhibited on Worlds Torn Asunder by adding a host of classic metal influences along with punk and blackened twists.” October was a good month for rethrash and it looks like Warbringer wanted to end things on a high note with their latest slice of speed.

Newsted – Heavy Metal Music Review

Newsted – Heavy Metal Music Review

“By now most of you are familiar with the dysfunctional soap opera that led Jason Newsted to jump ship from Metallica prior to their execrable St. Anger album. Anyone who watched the shockumentary Some Kind of Monster can see why he bailed and most probably wonder why he didn’t beat copious amounts of Danish ass and kick over the Hetfield Table™ on his way out the door. Since his exodus, Jason has shown himself to be a productive and versatile musician’s musician, recording with Voivod, playing with Ozzy Osbourne, keeping his Echobrain project running and finding time to launch his eponymous solo project Newsted.” Jason Newsted has this solo thing going on and finally released the debut album. Steel Druhm gives you the lowdown as Lars and James download it illegally out of spite.

Oliva – Raise the Curtain Review

Oliva – Raise the Curtain Review

“I’ve been following Jon Oliva’s career since I was a wee metal lad. I loved the classic Savatage albums like The Dungeons are Calling and Hall of the Mountain King and while I didn’t enjoy their eventual metamorphosis into a Broadway-like, show tuney act on later albums like Gutter Ballet and Handful of Rain, I always had a soft spot for Oliva’s singing. I also enjoyed a lot of the Jon Oliva’s Pain material even though it could be inconsistent. It was somewhat of a surprise to see him appear with this new eponymous act, but apparently Mr. Oliva felt the new moniker was more appropriate since this features music written by his deceased brother and former Savatage bandmate Criss Oliva.” A tribute album to a fallen brother is about as metal as it gets and Jon Oliva sure knows his metal. Join Steel Druhm for the red carpet review.

Colossus – Wake Review

Colossus – Wake Review

I’ve spent the last few minutes trying to stick a label on Wake. Not that it matters anyway and, to be honest, watching MTV on mute while listening to “Ruinbuilder” with my headphones on is a valid alternative to tiring out my brain. Ms Germanotta is out of sync in this peculiar, extemporary world of mine as she moves about trying to keep up with the pace imposed by the nervous beat of a Swedish drummer. This unrepeatable choreography slowly fades into the background as Niklas Eriksson’s vocals, sometimes reminiscent of Savatage’s Zachary Stevens and Jon Oliva’s melancholic elegance, boldly sets the record straight with the opener “A Stir from Slumber”.