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For Fans Of: Journey, Whitesnake, Night Ranger, Y&T
Supergroups are a hit or miss proposition. Often, what sounds good on paper doesn’t deliver in the studio. Fortunately, this is not the case with the highly-anticipated debut release from melodic rock buzz band Revolution Saints.
The band is fronted by journeyman Journey drummer Deen Castronovo whose soulful, slightly-raspy vocals are pitch-perfect and unapologetically display the influence he’s absorbed singing those beloved Steve Perry songs behind the kit for years.
For those of us who were bummed to hear of guitarist Doug Aldrich’s departure from Whitesnake last year, this album serves as a welcome showcase for his unique, fiery style of playing. In fact, Aldrich’s six-string prowess sounds even more inspired and unchained on this album. At times you’d swear he was possessed by Randy Rhoads as he effortlessly peels off one blistering lead after the next. His rhythmic sense and tone are well-suited for this style of laid back, SoCal rock -- perhaps dating back to his pre-Dio years with Lion.
Rounding out the power trio is Night Ranger frontman, Jack Blades who functions primarily as the bassist on this outing, though his trademark vocals are evident on “Turn Back Time” and “Way To The Sun.” Jack’s name isn’t usually thrown around in “bassist of the year” conversations, largely due to the fact that he’s never been an overly showy player. Yet the man has a more important knack for knowing exactly which low-end notes a song needs and doesn’t need to be a hit. It’s served him (and his famous melodies) well for over three decades.
Revolution Saints have hit a home run on their first at bat. This album crackles with energy, captured by the meticulous, modern production (and keyboards) of the project’s mastermind and primary songwriter Alessandro Del Vecchio. This collection features a steady balance of top-down summer highway jams (“Turn Back Time”) and ballads (“You’re Not Alone,” “Don’t Walk Away”) that “Faithfully” invoke the sentimentality of Journey. Speaking of Journey, fans of the San Fran legends will find much to love on this platter, including guest appearances by Neal Schon and Arnel Pineda.
There’s even a surprising cover by Swedish melodic rock masters Eclipse whose key members appear more than once in the album’s song-writing credits. What more could a fan of hook-heavy hard rock ask for? Okay, maybe a tour to cement the lineup as more than a one time studio dream team.
While most bands mellow like wine with age Sweden's Eclipse have followed a different trajectory becoming heavier over the course of their thirteen year career. Bleed & Scream, the band's fourth release, showcases these stellar musicians at the apex of their creativity and aggression. Having slowly shed the melodic hard pop of their early days, this album is pure unadulterated metallic rock of the classiest variety.
Each song glimmers strongly with its own unique identity proving the Swedes have worked hard at evolving their craft rather than finding a "formula" and riding it out. Stand out tracks like "Bleed & Scream" "SOS" "Wake Me Up" & "A Bitter Taste" are as different from one another as they are from any other bands in the melodic metal scene. After a decade of writing, this skill deserves more applause than it gets.
The trademark high pitched vocals of Erik Mårtensson are powerful and harmonious without ever grating or sounding cliche. Mårtensson's penchant for hooks, harmonies and multi-instrumental writing are largely why the man has become the go-to producer and backing vocalist for the melodic metal elite such as Jeff Scott Soto (Journey, Yngwie Malmsteen, W.E.T.) and Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner). This collection of songs features Erik handling four string duties quite convincingly as well as penning his darkest most epic lyrics to date.
As expected the guitar mastery of Magnus Henriksson is on full display. Magnus is one of the most underrated six string virtuosos in the business. His impeccable right hand keeps the rhythms chugging at light speed while the chord choices and phrasing are constantly pushing the boundaries without treading the same tepid waters as many shred-by-numbers metal guitarists. When it comes to guitar solos Magnus has a knack for the tasteful, tearing off subtle neoclassical flourishes and soulful melodic bends with equal aplomb.
Perhaps the most notable advance between 2008's Are You Ready To Rock and this new platter is the prominence of drummer Robban Bäck and his increased role in the mix and tempo of the music. With a crisp, modern metal production that pushes Bäck's percussion to the front of the mix, the songs become more dangerous and immediate. Increased amounts of double kick overdrive and outstanding ride cymbal technique showcase the drums more than previous releases giving the album a power metal pulse that was only hinted at in years past.
Rounding out the production are the layers of lush synth provided by keyboardist Johan Berlin which add both a timeless vintage quality as well as a progressive edge not felt on earlier recordings. As the title implies, Bleed & Scream is not an album for the laid back AOR set to relax to while they read the Sunday paper. This beastly Mach IV version of Eclipse is unapologetically pissed off metal to blast loudly, pedal to floor as you race your car to the edge of a cliff.
RATING - 100/100 - The only thing preventing their past two LPs from perfection was album art that didn't match the quality and style of their music. This time they got it right and the high quality digipak is worth the "add to cart" wait. While Eclipse have cultivated a fresh sound that is 100% unique and identifiable, the nods to the past include: the ferocity of Bark-era Ozzy, the musicality of Odyssey-era Malmsteen and the songcraft of 1987-era Whitesnake wrapped up in an exciting cutting edge package all three bands wish they still possessed. Yeah...it's that good.
This review originally appeared on Pitriff.com
While the Red and Blue albums certainly shimmered with moments of grand brilliance, the masterful Yellow & Green is Baroness' most complete majestic offering to date. Filled with melodious surprises the new platter is genius from alpha to omega — no small feat considering its 1.2 hour play time spread over 18 disparate yet somehow analogous sonic puzzle pieces.
Where Baroness rise above their peers is in their expert use of dynamics. The band's best trick is an uncanny ability to lull listeners into a hypnotic state with delicate droning passages only to boisterously break trance an instant later with a wall of fuzzed out intellectual cacophony.
Lush layers of sonic bliss carry voices that bellow melodiously as they wind though and crash over mountains of solid rhythmic groove. Guitars jangle like the Cure on quaaludes as effectively as they harmonize in Lizzy-esque flourishes only to refrain to a grungy wall of dissonance. Occasional acoustic interludes hint at the group's Georgian heritage with a blue grass hue that acts as sinew binding the muscular riffs that surround.
Cuts like "Take My Bones Away" and "Board Up The House" resonate as obvious singles in their deft popish swagger. Meanwhile the gorgeous "Eula" ebbs and flows, nodding to emo's 2nd wave when the term referred to emotional maestros like Sunny Day Real Estate, not foppish swoop haired scenesters. If a vinyl version of "Yellow & Green" were left to slightly warp on a dashboard before being played through a dirty needle, the instrumental sections of "Psalms Alive" might be mistaken for a lost B-side of Drama-era Yes. The album is that quirky.
Where it all coalesces is on "Cocanium." This pièce de résistance ramps from Syd Barrett worthy art rock mystique until a final minute crescendo that Hetfield might have coined had he remained in the garage rather than hitting the metal lottery. Drums and bass are on lockdown, playing off each other in a way not unlike those scenes from "Song Remains The Same" where John Paul and Bonzo seem to be holding their own private concert while the crowd focuses on the pretty stars.
The final star of this show is the consistently brilliant and magnetic artwork of vocalist/guitarist John Baizley. For anyone considering downloading this opus, the smart money is on purchasing the discs. Two CDs with amazing iconic imagery woven through a booklet of insightful lyrics...all for under $10? Someone would have to be stoned not to buy this album.
RATING - 95/100 - Much respect to Baroness for bravely following their prog muse and sloughing the constricting skin of stoner cliches that bury genre hopefuls in pits of molasses. Moving toward the center with emphasis on hooks while maintaining a legitimate artistic integrity is a shrewd career move that should position these dark horses in the race with major label mainstreamers Mastodon & QotSA.
This review orginally appeared on Pitriff.com
A music & lifestyle blog about shit the Witch digsRead More