Tag Archives: thrash metal

My Top 10 Albums of 2017 (even though it’s 2018)

I know what you’re thinking. Who the hell needs another end of the year Top 10 lists. Well to be fair, no one. But if everyone else gets the fun of making one so should I. Let’s be honest, these are fun. I love sitting and writing down all the great releases that came out. Crossing out and revising the list over and over again. The scanning other peoples list and cursing the fact that I forgot something. Then going back and redoing my list one more time.

I am a but more anal about making lists than others. There has to be rules. If its a Top 10, then there should only be 10 on the list. No two way tie for first or 5 honorable mentions.

Top 10 is 10.

Period.

End of story.

10-Europe-Walk The Earth

If you would have told me in 1985 when “The Final Countdown” was earworming its’ way into our brains. That I would be a huge fan of Europe, so much that I would pre-order their albums, I would have wondered what gave me brain damage. Yet, I am a huge fan and you should be too. I heard a interview with the drummer that when the band reformed they changed the way they wrote songs. Apparently, the old method was singer Joey Tempest writing everything and then bring it to the band. Now they get together to create. Thankfully those annoying keyboards have been replaced with powerful old school organs. Europe seems to have given in to their childhood and have channeled the bands they grew up on. Influences ranging from Rainbow and Deep Purple are evident. The title track would have been a monster hit back in the day. Honestly, it still could be if someone uses it in a sports highlight reel.

9-Godflesh-Post Self

It was so refreshing to hear some new Godflesh. I remember the first time I heard them. I was drinking at Emo’s, R.I.P., and Streetcleaner came on. It was a revelation. The heaviness and dissonance was so different that anything I had every heard. Godflesh was first of the industrial bands that soon flooded the scene. However,to me they were always different. Maybe it’s because they were on Earache and there was an extra level of heaviness. There was always level of noise in their sound that was amazingly inviting. Post Self gave me the same feeling. I’ve seen people say that it doesn’t have metal leanings but it sure does sound like it to me. Still brutal and awesome. Like an army of orcs rampaging over a field of keyboards.

8-Riverdogs-California

I’d venture to guess that most people have no idea who the Riverdogs are and why I would have them on my Top 10. Those people are seriously ignorant and deprived. At first glance people will assume that since Vivian Campbell, of Dio, Whitesnake, and Del Leppard fame, that it would be in that vein. Riverdogs are so much more. The key to the band is singer Rob Lamothe. His voice is magical. Emotional like a mutha fucka. First time I heard these guys was when they were doing a radio tour promoting their debut album in 1990. Vivian and Rob were on Z-Rock, R.I.P. again, and they played acoustic versions of the songs. It was amazing. Those two gave the songs such life and meaning that I was instantly hooked. Great thing about it was that it showed how good the songs were that they would work with just two guys with guitars. So I was ecstatic to see that California was coming out. Frontiers Records did something brilliant by having the band play acoustic versions of these new songs in advance of the release.

Describing their sound is tough. While it is definitely rock there are hints of soft rock, alternative, and alt-country mixed in with Jeff Buckley. It worked. “Welcome To The New Disaster” and “You’re Too Rock N Roll” drip with brilliance that make you wonder if you’re worthy. It’s the perfect record for driving with the top down and sun glaring down on you.

7-Tau Cross-Pillar Of Fire

I had never heard of Tau Cross until December. Sarah Kiteeringham from Banger TV was talking about them on her Album on the Year list. Naturally, she violated the rules and had about 10 different albums. Nonetheless, one of her choices was Tau Cross. When she said Away from Voivod was in the band, my ears pricked up. This is a really interesting band. It does have some of Voivod-ness on here, this is a bit more abrasive. Rob Miller, formerly of Amebix, plays bass and sings with a gravely tone that elevates this above the fray. He shows his range by smoothing it out some and injecting some bass and it gives the band a Killing Joke vibe. The title track showcases that with the added acoustic guitars and violins.

Only complaint is the album is a tad long. Sort of. The vinyl is 11 songs which I think is perfect. But the CD/MP3 version adds 3 songs. Not that they’re bad but as I’ve gotten older i’ve realized that Aerosmith’s Rocks has only 8 songs and that kind of tough to top. Get in, get out leave them wanting more.

6-Power Trip-Nightmare Logic

You remember what I just wrote about getting in and getting out? Well that is perfect exemplified on Nightmare Logic by Power Trip. This is 8 tracks and 32 minutes of Texas thrash that if these guys had access to a DeLorean and flux capacitor would tear it up at Ruthie’s Inn in 1987 San Fran. It is note perfect old school thrash but doesn’t sound dated. These guys wear their influences on their sleeves. Proudly. Heavy, nasty riffs with dive bombs that would make Slayer proud. Riley Gale’s vocals are very reminiscent of Kurt from D.R.I. but with more intensity. They aren’t afraid to tackle some big lyrical issues. From the dependence on OTC drugs to extreme right wing religious politics feel their wraith. Not a bad note on this.

5-L.A. Guns-The Missing Peace

It’s been a rough couple decades for L.A. Guns. After having some solid success in the 80’s and 90’s, they rapidly became a punchline. They went from being known as a solid act to having two versions of the same band touring around the country. Silly fighting through the media made it even worse. However, time heals all wounds and singer Phil Lewis and guitarist Tracii Guns kissed and made up. Thankfully so, because we got The Missing Peace.

THIS IS A MONSTER ALBUM!!

They did not miss a beat and it sounds like it was recorded by their 20-something selves not the 50 year olds they are now. They looked father time in his face and spit on him. High energy guitar rock that traverses time. Phil’s voice hasn’t aged at all and the British snarl he had in Girl is still present. Tracii is one of the most underrated guitarist of his generation. He can play with feel as well as power, plus writes terrific riffs. He also shows some humility by deferring to Michael Grant whose playing injects some adrenaline into the album. From opener “It’s All the Same To Me” to “Sticky Fingers” (not that Sticky Fingers) to “Baby Got Fever” the album transports you to a packed Gazzarri’s and you don’t care that you have half a can of hair spray on your head and you’re a dude. Rarely does a successful band make their best album 3 decades into the game.

4-Code Orange-Forever

I have a system for the way I listen to new albums I’ve never heard of. I’ll look up what’s coming out that Friday, then find it on Google Play Music and add it to a playlist called Decide. That’s how I came to hear Code Orange. I was not prepared.

HOLY SHIT, is this a brutal album.

They’re called a deathcore band but I don’t know how accurate that is. Mainly because I have no idea what deathcore is. These kids and their uber specific genres . Anyway. Code Orange is power personified. Not fast but HEAVY. Starting with the title track, it’s just simple quarter notes that are delivered with such force its unbelievable. They get schizophrenic with some hardcore stuff on “Kill the Creator” but the power is still there.

OK, I get what deathcore is now.

I think what’s impressive is they are not afraid to record a song like “Bleeding In The Blur”. They use clean vocals and the song is more Octane than Liquid Metal. Or something like “Spy” with is a hybrid stoner metal song with electronic elements. “Ugly” is more industrial/alternative than metal but fits right in with the other songs. Forever is actually a very diverse album and shows that Code Orange will do whatever they want.

Forever is a fantastic album that has put Code Orange on the map. I am really curious what they’ll do next, should be interesting.

3-Mutoid Man-War Moans

Someone on Metal Riot had the best description of Mutoid Man. They described them as the perfect blend of cockrock and mathcore. There is plenty of harmonies in their music balanced out with some insane technical playing. The songs are very catchy, fun and surprisingly smart. I don’t want to make it seem like they are tough to grasp like a Dragonforce or Dillinger Escape Plan. A song like “Kiss of Death” is a standard hard rock song but they put enough of a twist on it to make it their own. Imagine High on Fire guitars with a Josh Homme melody. Without assaulting a camera woman though.

“War Moans” and “Irons In The Fire” would be prototypical metal songs in anyone else’s hands. Here they are delivered crisply but with enough attitude making them Mutoid Man.

Look at the two bands that preceded them on the list. If they opened for L.A. Guns or Code Orange they would be received quite well. Honestly I think Mutoid Man would like both of the gigs too.

2-Integrity-Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with SiriusXM. In theory it should be a godsend for music lovers. Unfortunately, what you end up finding out is that they have the same lazy programming as terrestrial radio. That’s why I end up listening to MLB Radio more than any of the music channels. The one time I was listening to Liquid Metal and they weren’t playing a Soulfly or Sepultura song. Honestly, you would think these were the biggest bands ever the way Jose rams them down everyone’s throat. Anyway, that’s where I heard the new Integrity. The song “Hymn for the Children of the lack Flame” came on and I was entranced. These brutally fast guitars came out of the speaker accompanied by some nasty shedding. Very reminiscent of early Slayer. Back when Kerry had hair. Then Dwid Hellion’s vocals came on. He’s got a big shouty growl that works so well on the metal tracks as well some of the more hardcore ones. Most of the songs are barely over 3 minutes long but I don’t think the human neck could sustain much more headbanging. Then the second half of the album and it changes. The songs get longer and the band starts stretching their wings.”7 Reece Mews” has Dwid channeling Tom Waits over bursts of stoner metal. Then on “Unholy Salvation of Sabbatai Levi”his voice sounds like its pleading or warning us over ominous droning guitars. Even though Integrity is Dwid and whomever he wants, he gives a lot of room to guitarist Domenic Romeo. Domenic shows lots of old school flash while maintaining a contemporary feel.

1-Wayward Sons-Ghosts Of Yet To Come

I realize this is the 3rd album from Frontiers Records on my list. What can I say, they had a good year. Like other titles, they released several songs ahead of the albums release. The first Wayward Sons track available was “Until The End”. I was hooked instantly. Just a quality hard rocker accompanied by some sharp pointed lyrics about dealing with less than honorable people.

They are the ones that try to hurt you

They are the ones that cause it all

They are the ones that have no virtue, at all

Toby Jepson’s words take what would be a good song to a great one by injecting some thought and wit into them. Some may know him from the band Little Angels. Some may know him from acting in Gladiator, Angela’s Ashes, Band of Brothers. Or from him producing Saxon, Chrome Molly and the Virginmarys. Either way, you need to know him for Wayward Sons. It’s a little dismissive to say this is just a hard rock band. While they are, the music is so good it’s almost insulting to lump them in with others. There is a definite English feel to the songs, ala Wildhearts, Therapy, Terrorvision. However, Wayward Sons songs seem to have an extra layer to them. The music is very simple, but Toby’s voice is truly an extra instrument. As the guitars are playing 4 chord rock . He’s singing in a style that adds another riff to the song while adding a harmony to it as well. “Crush” and “Give It Away” are audio heroin with the way it sucks you in and wraps it self around you.

Good rock songs are simple yet tough to write. Every track on here is a diamond. This is the bar band you want to see that is so good the lady you meet at the show ends up being your wife.

Two wrap it all up, Wayward Sons has been the definite #1 in all incarnations of this list. I will say that numbers 2 through 6 could be rearranged in any order and I would be fine with it. It was tough keeping Enslaved off the list but I thought Godflesh was a stronger album. Hopefully you’ve found some new music to listen to. So grab your phone and open Spotify or Beats or Google and get to searching.

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Overkill-White Devil Armory

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The first time I saw Overkill I really didn’t want to see them. They were the opener on Slayer’s South Of Heaven tour that also featured Motorhead. The only exposure to Overkill I had was their “Hello From The Gutter” video. It was alright but didn’t grab me. Me and my buddy Kevin went to the show late to miss them and catch Lemmy before Slayer destroyed the place. In true metal club fashion the show was running late and we ended up seeing Overkill. They were unreal. A perpetual thrash machine was on full display. They annihilated during the allotted time. I was a fan of theirs until the lineup carousel started and they faded into the woodwork. However, with the release on Ironbound in 2010 they have been on a roll. Now we get White Devil Armory and the momentum hasn’t stopped.
All the staples are here. Bobby Blitz sounding as good as ever. DD Verni’s signature bass sound. And some quintessential thrash riffs from David Linsk. White Devil Armory punches you in the gut from the start. “Armorist”, “Down To Te Bone” and “Pig” are a lethal triple threat. The band was wise to put “Bitter Pill” next since it starts off slow and gives you a chance to breathe. However “Where There’s Smoke” is next and they’re off to the races again and they don’t stop until the album finishes. My version of White Devil Armory has 2 bonus tracks. “Fight Song” has a tinge of soccer singalong to it. Lastly there is a cover of the Nazareth track “Miss Misery” with fellow New Jersey thrash legend and current Accept singer Marc Tornillo
It’s amazing to think that after 30 years Overkill is still killing it. Playing high level thrash nonetheless. Ponce Del Leon went looking for the fountain of youth in Florida, when apparently it’s been in New Jersey and Overkill found it. In today’s scene I don’t think there is another metal band that has released 3 quality albums in a row like Overkill has. White Devil Armory doesn’t show that Overkill still has it, it shows that they never lost it.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space

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Iced Earth-Plagues of Babylon

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I have never been that big a fan of Iced Earth. Every time I heard them, I enjoyed it but it never really grabbed me. Their brand of traditional metal has always been well executed and main man/guitarist Jon Schaffer seems like a cool guy. I remember reading interviews over his frustrations of being a metal band with Korn and Limp Bizkit being called “metal”. He wasn’t bitter or angry just adamant about his love for metal. Plus he’s a history geek and as a history major myself, GO COOGS!, I have to appreciate that.

Regardless of my previous indifference, Iced Earth has returned with a new offering in Plagues of Babylon. It is chock full of what has brought them this far, good ole metal and some above average lyrics. The title track starts us off with galloping guitars and some tasty duel playing between Schaffer and lead guitarist Troy Seele. With a lyrical theme that continues from the “Something Wicked” album, it tales a lovely tale of the ruling class suppressing the masses by unleashing deadly viruses. Several of the songs convey a deep hatred for the way society has gone but is done in such an open ended way that it allows the listener to draw on their own feelings.

The conveyor of said lyrics is vocalist Stu Block . His voice is pretty nondescript and average. He has a touch of gruffness but it is almost always mid-tone. He doesn’t get really high and subsequently his sound gets swallowed up by the music. And it’s not a mixing problem as the album sounds terrific. To be fair, on “Cthulu” and “Spirit of the Times” he sounds awesome. Those two tracks do have a ballad feel, “Cthulu” end up pretty heavy though, and his softer delivery works perfectly. Hansi Kursch takes the mic on “Among The Living” but you can’t really tell. I didn’t know it till I read the notes. Most surprisingly, Jon Schaffer takes his turn on the just as surprising cover of “Highwayman”. Cool idea but to “metal” that song up comes across as silly.

Plagues of Babylon is not a bad album. Good writing, great playing, terrific production, passable singing, but it just seems eh. I know that Iced Earth is a popular band but it just doesn’t click with me for some reason. I want to like them but just don’t.

It’s like a George Costanza break-up, its not you it’s me.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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GWAR-Battle Maximus

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For a band like GWAR, releasing their new album Battle Maximus is an interesting quirk. They are well known as a visual live band, is new material truly necessary? If you saw them perform on AXS TV early this year, their over the top outrageous-ness is still evident. You also heard singer Oderus muttering gibberish instead of singing the actual lyrics but no one seemed to mind. The stage antics had already seeped over to the music side previously. GWAR had gone from being a metal band that played funny songs to a comedy band that played metal eventually becoming more of a punk act.

 

A couple years back they acknowledged the wrong path taken and went back to making some great sounding metal. Question is, does Battle Maximus continues that path or do they veer off track once more. There is some very heavy, catchy stuff here. “Triumph of The Pig Children” and “They Swallowed The Sun” are two nice heavy tracks that will get the heads bobbing. I think the highlight of the album is “ I, Bonesnapper” which features, not ironically, Bonesnapper on vocals. He has a much different style and sound than Oderus and it is pretty welcoming. Refreshingly, the title track is an unexpected and very well done instrumental. One of the more curious tracks is “Falling” which would be a hit on Octane from one of those Hot Topic metal bands.

 

On the whole Battle Maximus is kind of flat. Not coincidentally this is the first album since guitarist Cory Smoot aka Flattus Maximus passed away. Beside that, there is also a new Beefcake the Mighty aka the bassist. Besides the uninspiring music, the lyrics are not nearly as clever nor as funny as previous releases.

 

Battle Maximus is not an album one will play over and over again. It seems like it will be background noise while the band and its’ minions lambasts Kim Kardashian, decapitates the President, feeds audience members to the grinder.

 

In the end that’s why we all came in the first place.

 

 

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

 

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

 

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

 

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

 

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

 

$0-Not worth the drive space

 

 

 

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Trouble-The Distortion Field

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Trouble has always been one of those bands that not a lot of people know of, but those that do LOVE them. My introduction to them was their classic 1990 self-titled release. Their Sabbath inspired sludge instantly hooked me. What ended up setting them apart from other bands was singer Eric Wagner. He has a distinctive high pitched style that elevated their sludgy sound from their contemporaries.

 

However, like every other band Trouble has had a revolving door of band members. The core sound courtesy of guitarists Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell are still here. Wagner’s on again off again relationship with the band is in the off position. Replacing him is Kyle Thomas, formerly of thrash band Exhorder, who had replaced Wagner before but never recorded with the band.

 

Although it may be unfair, the success of The Distortion Field rests on the vocals chords of Thomas. The band did not go for a Wagner clone as Thomas has a much gruffer sound. The music is still the same awesomeness though. For those that have not heard the band before, Franklin and Wartell have a very distinctive style. While still sludgy, many times the songs have a bounce to them. The second track “Paranoia Conspiracy” is the perfect example of this. Thomas’ voice seems to work when he can get in that groove. Same thing can be said for “Sink or Swim”, these are two of the best tracks on The Distortion Field. They really crank up the Sabbath influence on “One Life” and “Hand Of Doom”. Two crunchers that make you forget all about Wagner.

 

There are a couple of times that Thomas’s voice turns a song into just a typical metal song. “Glass of Lies” could have been recorded by a hundred bands. Then there is “One Life”, a curious yet out of place ballad. Plus, Thomas sounds like Mike Howe from Metal Church here.

 

The first time I listened to The Distortion Field, I really did not like it. Maybe it was my loyalty to Eric Wagner or maybe this is one of those albums you have to give a couple spins to. I think the more you listen to the music you will adjust to Thomas’ voice. Either way, Trouble did a good job in retaining their core sound while adding a new flair with Kyle Thomas.

 

 

 

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

 

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

 

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon purchase

 

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on a MP3 sale

 

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

 

$0-Not worth the drive space

 

 

 

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Megadeth-Super Collider

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Growing up in the 80’s Megadeth main man Dave Mustaine was the mouth that roared. From his constant bashing of ex-band mates Metallica to his socially conscience lyrics. He had no fear in speaking his mind and we loved it. Plus his band created some of the greatest albums ever. Just like his Behind The Music, act 3 was not kind to Dave. Declining sales, drugs, and a hand injury broke up the band.

 

After rehab and becoming born-again, Mustaine reassembled Megadeth and has released some good material. Unfortunately it has been over shadowed by his mouth. Between him getting a band removed from a festival slot because he was offended by their name, to his latest tirade against the President. I will use the term latest because by the time I upload this we will have had at least two more. It’s a shame because that was something that we all like about him but it has now gone into the Alex Jones area and that’s one crazy fucking area.

 

Super Collider is the bands latest effort and hopes to put the music back in the headlines. It gets off to a great start with “Kingmaker” a perfect example of Megadeth. The band is tight and everyone knows how to play. Returning bassist Dave Ellefson and drummer Shawn Drover form a great rhythm section that allow Mustaine and Chris Broderick’s guitars to play off of it. You get some vintage thrash with “Dance In The Rain” and it’s classic riffs and politically tinged lyrics of disappointment. “Don’t Turn Your Back” has some nice riffing and shows how good Mustaine can be delivering pissed off words. The album closes with a cover of the Thin Lizzy classic “Cold Sweat”. They do a real nice job and Mustaine’s vocals really work here. Unfortunately the rest of the album is not as good. The title track is an out and out pop hard rock and seems like a leftover from Risk. There are banjos, yes banjos, on “The Blackest Crow” and weird blues infused song that seemed like it was a better idea than an actuality. For some reason they decided to have David Draiman appear on “Forget To Remember” and naturally the song is as good as the title is clever.

 

The past couple of releases from Megadeth have been pretty good but got over shadowed by Dave Mustaine’s mouth. Super Collider is a decent album with a couple of nice songs and some real head scratchers. Megadeth is in this weird space in that they have this great legacy but are not resting on their catalog. However the new stuff is average at best and the fans still come. It will be curious how it will play out as the aging audience may get tired of the sideshow and just listen to the old stuff at home.

 

 

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

 

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

 

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

 

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

 

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

 

$0-Not worth the drive space

 

 

 

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The Dillinger Escape Plan-One Of Us Is The Killer

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Many just got their first taste of Dillinger Escape Plan at the recently televised Revolver Golden Gods Awards. If you had never seen or heard them before, that had to be quite a shock. Lots of screaming, banging on instruments, and blood.

Awesome.

Those DEP virgins might have been scared away from buying the newly released, One Of Us Is The Killer. But they shouldn’t. While there is till the frantic madness that they witnessed on TV, you get a better sense of the band. There is still the craziness, just not as much. The album leads off with “Prancer” & “When I Lost My Bet” the first two songs they played that night. They are the very definition of mathcore. If there is one. Best way to describe it is Dream Theater in a blender. I love the fact that they led off the album with those tracks. They are not accessible and DEP has this attitude of not caring what people think, they’re just going to do what they like. It shows.

After that Killer is a lot easier to get into for a first timer. The title track is a great radio track that owes a lot to Faith No More. There is some more FNM influence on “Nothing’s Funny”. However right after that is some more of the craziness which some might think sounds like the musical score of a NASCAR crash.

The first time I saw Dillinger Escape Plan they opened for Mastodon. The whole time I just stood there because I could not figure out what I was witnessing. If you just relax and let it happen I think most metal fans will enjoy it. One Of Us Is The Killer makes is easier to wade into those waters.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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Anthrax-Anthems

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Cover albums can be hit or miss and have a tendency to be a cash cow for the band. Lots of time they should just be called contractual obligation. Thrash metal icons Anthrax have just released Anthems a 6-track nod to their youth. I say their youth because all the songs are from the 70’s just very beefed up. Since there is only 7 tracks, I’ll go one by one.

First up is the title track originally done by Rush. I am not a Rush fan, only had a couple of their albums. However, Anthrax does a real good job on this Fly By Night original. The band chunks it up some and Joey Belladonna does a terrific job in singing Geddy Lee’s unique vocals. Next is “T.N.T.” by AC/DC’ All I can say is “eh”. Does anyone really need another AC/DC cover? Unless you are going to do it death style like Six Feet Under did, why bother. That is followed by album radio mainstay “Smokin’” from Boston. This is my favorite song off Anthems. Anthrax stays true to to the original just heavy-ing it some. Big highlight is the outstanding organ work from Fred Mandel. This is a perfect party song.

When the news leaked of what songs were on this, the one shocker was “Keep On Runnin” from Journey. While it is not of the best known tracks from their classic album Escape, it is still a curious choice. How are a bunch of New York metalheads going to treat a San Fran pop hit? Thrash the fuck out it. It is played faster than it has ever been played before and Belladonna’s high register works well mimicking Steve Perry’s voice.

Then some familiar artists get a second song covered. Anthrax had already done a Cheap Trick song before, “Auf Weidersehn” from the Sounds Of Black Noise expanded version. This time around it is “Big Eyes”. Music wise it is fine, but here Joey’s voice doesn’t work for me. I really wish they would have done “Gonna Raise Hell”, that would have killed. The other second timer is Thin Lizzy. On Sounds they did an awesome version of “Cowboy Song” this go round we get “Jailbreak”. I have the same feelings about this track that I do about “T.N.T.” Why bother? Again, Joey’s vocals do not work here. On the original Phil Lynott’s voice drips with a confidence and swagger that Belladonna can only dream about. I believe that “Cold Sweat” would have been a much better choice but if they wanted to stay in that same era for Lizzy, “Waitin For An Alibi” would have been an interesting choice.

The album is rounded out with two versions of “Crawl” from last years Worship Music. An album version and the orchestral version which sounds like if one of these “sad bastard” metal bands covered it.

All in all, Anthems is a good buy. While I do not love all the choices they are still enjoyable when they pop up on iTunes. Plus it is only $7 so you can’t be all that mad.

Oops, almost forgot that there is several different album covers for Anthems. The one I got has an homage of the Boston artwork. Looks pretty cool. Tough to tell which version you will get as the slipcase only has a small cut out for you to view the artwork.

Again, adjust for the fact you only pay $7 for this. This is too much math involved for me to re-calculate this. Sorry, I was a history major.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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A look at Sirius/XM for the Metalheads

 

sirius-xm-radio

 

Satellite radio has been around for awhile and I finally jumped on board a year ago. My job requires me to drive a lot so I am in my car a lot. I used Pandora and my iTunes a lot but there is just something about a radio station. I heard Sirius/XM when I was with an ex. Driving around in her car I got a good opportunity to hear what was offered. Sadly, that was the only positive experience I got from that horrible horrible woman. I loved how this product satisfied my musical tastes, all of them. However I just want to focus on the ones that service the heavier stuff. With the Clear Channel effect all over our terrestrial radio dial, satellite is something that metalheads should really look into. The channels I want to concentrate on are Channels 38 to 40, Ozzy’s Boneyard, Hair Nation, and Liquid Metal.

ozzyBoneyard, I refuse to use the Ozzy label because of the horrible woman that is Sharon Osbourne, is a really good classic hard rock/metal station. They do a real nice job of mixing stuff up so you are not hearing “Iron Man” every 30 minutes. Band selection is nice, besides the obvious, Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, you get Tank, and Diamond Head and a plethora of others. You will find yourself saying “I haven’t heard that in a while” a lot. No shows except for an hour hosted by Jim Norton and Ultimate Sinner where a listener gets to pick 5 songs. A nice little feature. They occasionally play some new music from veteran bands already on the play list. Music wise, it is a great listen that you will have no problem leaving on for hours straight.

The big drawback to me is the Ozzy affiliation. Granted I probably hate Sharon way more than anyone else. And that hatred has tarnished Ozzy’s music to me. I cannot even listen to his era of Black Sabbath anymore because of her but I can overlook that most of the time. What bugs me is that every promo for the station is Ozzy related. From him mumbling about some story from 1984 or hearing Sharon or one of their idiotic kids tell a story about him, it’s stomach churning. The ball washing gets worse when they have famous metal musicians talk about how great Ozzy is. It is really sickening and it is the main reason I change the channel.

hairNext on the dial, is Channel 39 Hair Nation. As the name suggests it has all the bands from 80’s and 90’s with big hair that were the lifeblood of Headbangers Ball. This was the station that really hooked me one getting Sirius/XM. I remember driving with the awful ex and on came Sleez Beez. C’mon where else are you going to hear Sleez Beez? When I first got the radio I remember hearing a D:A:D song and thinking this was the greatest purchase that I ever made. What I didn’t realize is that they would play that same song over and over again. I know I am in my car a lot but it is like bad FM radio overkill. Then I noticed that they did this a lot. Heard “Gimme Your Love” from McAuley Schenker Group and got that D:A:D happy feeling. Then I heard it again and again. The station has a pattern of pulling out a band and playing their hit. Then they play that song over and over and then put that band back on the shelf. Why they won’t play another song I have no idea. They will however play the fuck out of Bon Jovi. Someone there loves them some Bon Jovi because you will l hear a BJ song every 30 minutes and that is not a good thing. I seriously think that Bon Jovi has a deal with this channel similar to what Ozzy has with Boneyard. This station never plays new music even though many of the bands the play have released new material. They did however play the new Richie Sambora single, furthering my Bon Jovi conspiracy theory. Plus they do not have a listener show like the other two stations do. This went from being one of my favorites to being one that I hit and run on. Hair Nation is also the home to Eddie Trunk who has a show on Monday night. However he plays more stuff you hear on Boneyard but that vile cunt Sharon had him kicked off that channel because he dared to criticize Ozzy.

sirius_xm_liquid_metalLast but not least is Channel 40, Liquid Metal. They play all of the new metal bands plus lots of the originators. When I say Metal I mean METAL. Cannibal Corpse, Slipknot, High On Fire, real heavy stuff. They do a nice job of crossing the many genres of Metal. Thrash, death, stoner, black you name it. Liquid Metal also does a great job on featuring new bands and letting listeners know when an important album is coming out. Occasionally they play some bands that are better off on Octane, a channel for new Hard Rock, but that is being picky. They also have Listener Domination, their show lets a listener a chance to pick three songs and say why. One of my favorite things about the station is Bloody Roots a show hosted by renowned Metal author Ian Christie. He will have a different theme for each show and does a fantastic job of giving tidbits and back story plus lots of the stuff he plays you will not hear any other time.

I think the reason that Boneyard and Liquid Metal are run so well is that Jose Mangin seemingly is in charge of both. His voice is on promos for both channels and they both have a listener show. He is the afternoon host and some may remember him when MTV did a Headbangers Ball special. He is a nice enough guy that obviously loves Metal. However he kind of bugs me. Maybe because he is always UP or maybe it is that he still has a faux hawk and still wears Affliction shirts. Logic would dictate that he would be in charge of Hair Nation as well and if so he is doing a shitty job.

Earlier I mentioned Octane on Channel 37. They play modern hard rock a long the lines of In This Moment, Chevelle, and Sevendust. It’s not a bad station I listen occasionally but a lot of what they play I don’t care for.

Yes I do realize there is a huge “Kids these days” factor present.

While I have become disappointed in Hair Nation and the Ozzy ass kissing makes me want to puke on my passenger seat, but I cannot recommend getting Sirius/XM enough. It really satisfies my musical desires plus there is a bunch of other great stuff available. I love being able to go from Mastodon to Glen Miller to listening to an Astros game. I got the Onyx model and I am able to take that from my car to another car or inside. Terrific if you drive more than one vehicle plus you can listen to it on your smartphone or online from your computer.

Seriously go get it.

Now.

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Skull Fist-Heavier Than Metal EP

There seems to be this rash of bands that think this is 1982 and we are in San Francisco hanging out at Ruthie’s. No matter how hard this wave of neo-thrashers tries, it is still 2010. Canada’s Skull Fist has debuted with an EP of said neo-thrash called Heavier Than Metal. The retro-ness of the album is obvious from the cover. With a skull headed monster towering over a city with the band’s lightning bolt font logo in the background I feel like I am in junior high and going through the bins at Texas Tapes & Records. The thing is I am not 13 and Texas Tapes has long been closed, and this is has been done.   Many times before and better.
Which I think is the inherent problem with this new wave of bands. To the younger crowd it will come off as fresh and a way to experience the scene that they read about in magazines and online. They can throw on their tight black jeans with puffy white sneakers and top it off with a sleeveless jean jacket covered in patches.  All of this will still not change what year it really is. Those that experienced it the first time can enjoy a band like Skull Fist a little but it comes off more like a thrash version of Steel Panther than anything.
Just in case you did not realize how metal this band is, they hammer home the point with the song titles. While only 5 songs in length, two of them have the word “metal” in their title. There is the title track plus the battle cry mantra of “No False Metal”. The bands sound evokes the past as they have the thin sounding guitars that dominated the henre back then. The real puzzling part is the lead singer’s voice. It is very high pitched but not in a good way. It maintains the same level in every song no matter the part and sounds more like Mark Slaughter than anyone.
It affects the bands sound so much that it makes the ironically titled track “Heavier Than Metal” comes across more as a hard rock song rather than a thrash battle cry. That is the best way to describe the EP. This band wants to be one thing but since they are not authentic they come across as the poseurs that they have are railing against.

www.myspace.com/skullfisted

http://www.skullfist.bigcartel.com

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