Threshold

Steel Druhm’s Top Ten(ish) of 2012

Steel Druhm’s Top Ten(ish) of 2012

Neither snow, holiday hangovers nor lackluster apocalypses can keep Steel Druhm from showcasing his picks for Top Ten(ish) of the year in metal. He did all the work, you just need to read carefully, nod approvingly and give some harrumphs to the Steel One.

Iron Fire – Voyage of the Damned Review

Iron Fire – Voyage of the Damned Review

Historically speaking, I think the main reason our esteemed AMG hired me, the ever humble Steel Druhm, as a reviewer/minion [I prefer the term “bitch,” actually – AMG] was to make me the resident power and traditional metal nerd (my amazing prose and rugged good looks didn’t hurt none either). While I’m predisposed to drool over most old school stuff (cause I’m old), I’m actually quite the elitist snob when it comes to power metal. There’s some good in that genre, but there are way more generic, bad and monumentally awful things lurking in the ether. Case in point, I’ve had a love/hate/meh relationship with Iron Fire over the years. Their Thunderstorm debut was decent and moderately rabble rousing, but things have been inconsistent since then and their discography reads like the good, the bad and the WTF? After being unmoved by their past few releases, I hoped for more from their seventh release, Voyage of the Damned. Turns out, I heartily appreciate the new lyrical slant toward outer space themes, as it’s a nice diversion from the usual “dragon ate my wizard’s maiden” schtick. It’s also safe to say, this is much better than expected and it slowly won me over, despite initial doubts. Roping in elements of Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Grave Digger and Metalium, this features some highly enjoyable Euro-power with some surprisingly heavy moments. It also delivers far less generic freight than past Iron Fire shipments. While not exactly a “must hear” album, Voyage ends up being a solid release from a band with a spotty track record.

Star One – Victims of the Modern Age Review

Star One – Victims of the Modern Age Review

Arjen Lucassen, I may have misjudged you. You see, Mr. Lucassen and his projects tend to invoke very different reactions depending on which segment of the Angry Metal demographic one asks. To some, his celebrity studded prog-rock and metal projects with Ayreon and Star One are overblown, self-indulgent, pretentious and worthy of scorn and ruthless mockery (I’ve heard “Gayreon” tossed around more than a little). Others will tell you the man is a musical genius and crafts some of the most adventurous progressive metal out there today. Yours truly was firmly rooted in the former camp (as is AMG, admit it!!) but I’ll concede that parts of Star One’s first album Space Metal ended up being a guilty pleasure despite the cheesy and lightweight “sci-fi metal” concept and sound [Whereas, I reviewed it back in the day on Unchain the Underground and thought it was self-indulgent shit. – AMG]. Well, I’m mighty shocked at the direction Mr. Lucassen has opted to take album number two, Victims of the Modern Age. This is a far FAR heavier, more metallic album, taking the basic foundation of Star One and toughening it up in every way. This is so metallic and straight forward that it sounds nothing like any of Mr. Lucassen’s other works.