SPV

Domination Inc. – Memoir 414 Review

Domination Inc. – Memoir 414 Review

“Greek thrashers Domination Inc. (minus the “Inc.” back then) released their debut Infants of Thrash. Take one look at the band’s name, and it shouldn’t surprise you that Infants sounds a cowboys from hell of a lot like Pantera. Fast forward four years and sophomore effort Memoir 414 finds the band wanting to “slightly move away from our initial old-school sound” and hoping that it will sound “heavier and more modern.”” Vulgar display of diary entries.

Freedom Call – Master of Light Review

Freedom Call – Master of Light Review

“If you didn’t listen to the lack of God in the lyrics, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Freedom Call’s newest record, Master of Light, is chock full of so-called Christian metal. It’s a consistently uplifting record, focused on what sounds like good, beauty, and wonder instead of evil and/or nihilism. If the astoundingly good DOOM reboot (easily the best game of the year) showed us anything, it’s that good can easily be an order of magnitude more “metal” than evil.” Power, pecs and pizzazz.

Vicious Rumors – Concussion Protocol Review

Vicious Rumors – Concussion Protocol Review

“Originally Steel Druhm was going to write this review, but I used my Inception-like powers to convince him I should handle it. I’ve spent the days since, chewing on my nails, wondering what the hell I’ve gotten myself into – no pressure at all! What to write?” Don’t screw this up, rookie!

Stormzone – Zero to Rage Review

Stormzone – Zero to Rage Review

Way back as a newbie first year reviewer for the world-renowned Angry Metal Guy, no release floored me quite like Stormzone’s Death Dealer. Although I’d never heard of these Belfast hooligans, their hardcore NWOBHM worship and excellent song writing really got my blood riled up. Accordingly, Death Dealer got Steel Druhm’s only perfect score for 2010 and ended up my album of the year as well. Fast forward to 2011 and it’s a grizzled, jaded, cynical Steel Druhm that greets their new release, Zero to Rage. So, do things look different now that my doe-eyed youth has been drained away by long hours, crappy releases, zero pay and spiteful hate mail? Not really! They still embody the very essence of the NWOBHM style that I love dearly and still traffic in the ways of Saxon, Grim Reaper, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. When they hit their stride, they’re as metal as metal gets and no school sounds older. They also prove once again they’re capable of writing metal anthems that rock my metalverse. While this is a little less immediate than Death Dealer, it’s yet another mammoth dose of old style metal with enough hooks for a month-long fishing trip and enough muscle for an amateur bodybuilding contest. These guys have an infectious swagger and charm all their own and it’s still coming through loud and proud. So, don your high tops, skin-tight jeans and bullet belts and climb aboard the Way Back Machine as I set the dial to 1983!

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.

Pagan’s Mind – Heavenly Ecstasy Review

Pagan’s Mind – Heavenly Ecstasy Review

Every now and then I find myself sweating a new release and sincerely worrying a band may have already seen its best days. This is one of those perspiration inducing albums. After three platters of excellent progressive metal that reminded me of the halcyon salad days of Fates Warning and Queensryche, Pagan’s Mind really screwed the pooch hard with their last release, 2007’s God’s Equation. Ditching nearly all of the things they had working for them in favor of a stripped down and more commercial approach, it was one of those albums that leaves fans befuddled, bewildered, betrayed and generally in an foul humor (I won’t go into the David Bowie cover, but it was bullshit ass!). With my confidence and fanboydom thus shaken and stirred, I didn’t know what to expect from these Norwegian metallers. Would it be a return to the prog-tastic spacey glory of their Enigmatic Calling and Celestrial Entrance works or a dash further down the path toward commercial oblivion ah la Krokus (yes, Krokus damn you, they were good once!). After much consternation and intestinal distress, I can report their fifth album, Heavenly Ecstasy is way better than their prior misstep, though it doesn’t fully return to their previous levels of excellence.

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.

Thunderstone – Dirt Metal Review

Thunderstone – Dirt Metal Review

Whenever an established band parts ways with their original vocalist and brings in a replacement, long time fans rightfully get concerned. How will the new singer impact the band’s sound and style? Will he fit in or change the dynamic too much? That’s the situation facing Finland’s Thunderstone for their fifth album, Dirt Metal. After four pretty solid albums of Euro power metal with original frontman Pasi Rantanen, Dirt Metal starts the era of Rick Altzi on vocals. With this new era also comes the much dreaded and despised shift in sound and approach as well. Are you scared? Are you on edge yet? Read on.

Stormzone – Death Dealer Review

Stormzone – Death Dealer Review

Neal Kay, for those who don’t know, is widely credited with discovering and championing Iron Maiden way back in the day. Well, if that wasn’t service enough to the metal world, now he has helped bring us Northern Ireland’s classic metal masters Stormzone and their new album Death Dealer. This is no small accomplishment because, quite simply, this album is an absolute masterpiece of classic metal and full to the brim with top quality metal anthems. Stormzone is a band deeply entrenched in the early NWOBHM style and composed of musicians like vocalist John “Harv” Harbinson, with ties to bands of that era (Sweet Savage, Fastway). All the trappings of the British metal invasion are here and fans of that sound and seminal masters like of Saxon and Grim Reaper will immediately hear it in the sound and attitude exhibited on Death Dealer.

Beardfish – Destined Solitaire Review

Beardfish – Destined Solitaire Review

“Apparently, someone forgot to inform Beardfish that 1970 has graciously left us behind to suffer without it. If they’re not careful, these guys are going to get lost in a pile of pet rocks, bell bottoms and turtle necks. Still, it’s hard to argue in matters of taste, so I’m going to try to be as fair about this record as I can be. While these guys aren’t really doing something that I enjoy intrinsically, I do appreciate certain things about them and their new album Destined Solitaire.” Angry Metal Guy weighs in on Swedish proggers who will never forget the feeling of ’68.