The Metal Files

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Satan – Life Sentence Album Review

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Growing up in a house where I had parents who weren’t so keen on me listening to heavy metal, I had to be careful of what I brought satan-court-in-the-acthome to listen to.  Certainly a band called Satan wasn’t going to do me any favors with mom, no matter that the band wasn’t “satanic” at all.  I believe I had an unmarked dubbed tape version for years which got me through my teens.

Satan’s full length debut, Court in the Act, came out in 1983 and it didn’t grace my ears probably until about 1984 or 1985 after Metal Blade Records picked the album up for USA distribution.  To be straightforwardly honest, Court in the Act is probably my favorite NWOBHM release ever, Iron Maiden’s back catalog notwithstanding.  The album was perfect, mainly because of the clean vocal stylings of Brian Ross.  Easily one of my favorite singers of all time.  After Brian left, they followed up with 2 other releases, Into the Future and Suspended Sentence, and to be honest I thought they were terrible.  Looking back, it was the new vocalist that killed it for me.

Court has remained in steady rotation for the last 25+ years and will continue to be.  A year or so ago new came out that Satan was reuniting with the original lineup to record a new album.  To say I was hesitant about hearing a new album by a band that hadn’t done anything in almost 30 years is an understatement.  Typically reunion albums suck.

Satan’s 2013 release entitled Life Sentence, however, does not suck.  Not in the least.  To be truthful, this album is pretty stellar.  I finally picked it up last week and have listened to it at least 4 times.

Ross’ vocals sound great and not over-produced or “fixed”.  The album as a whole has a very raw sound.  Very natural and a perfect followup to Court.  Sure, Brian’s no spring chicken now and hitting those sweet high notes like he used to do isn’t really possible, but it doesn’t detract to a great vocal performance on Life Sentence.

The whole album just sounds like Satan should.  Clean, powerful, melodic.  True NWOBHM.  The songs are catchy and memorable.  I am SATANcover1400x1400quite pleasantly surprised as to how good the album is.  Time to Die, Twenty Twenty Five, Tears of Blood and Another Universe are the standout tracks for me.  If I had to pick a least favorite, it would be the title track, Life Sentence.  Not a bad song by any means, but just didn’t grab my ear like the rest of the album.

That being said, if you’re even a minor fan of Court in the Act, get Life Sentence ASAP.  You shall not be disappointed.

9/10

 

Written by The Metal Files

October 19, 2013 at 11:42 am

Power Trip – Manifest Decimation (2013) Album Review

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ptripHaving seen Power Trip several times since FUNFUNFUN fest 2010, I had always wanted a full length album from them.  Thanks to Southern Lord Records, I got my wish.

Power Trip take me back to quality mid-to-late 80s thrash…Nuclear Assault, Devastation, a little Slayer…and thankfully, I don’t hear any Pantera (Panterrible) influence.  A lot of folks mention the DRI crossover punk/hardcore thing, but I never really listened to any of that so I cannot say for sure.  I may hear a little Cro Mags, though.  And I do like the Cro Mags.  This young band from Dallas does it right.  It’s high quality thrash and unlike many of the screamo shit mall hot topic metal bands out there today, these guys play guitar solos.  You heard me.  GUITAR SOLOS!  Good ones, too.

I bought this CD (yes, a CD) last week and have spun it at least 10 times now.  I absolutely love it.  If you’re into classic thrash, I highly recommend this band.  There are a lot of newer retro thrash bands out there, but I think Power Trip is a cut above them all.

While I like Riley’s singing style, I think they could have been produced a little better.  They are washed in the mix too much for my tastes.  But it’s not much of a detraction from the overall vibe and sound of this album.  I also don’t think there are any songs worth skipping on here.  It works perfectly beginning to end.  The album runs through quickly and can easily be played through twice.

9/10 – Enjoy!

The Black Crowes Concert Review, Austin, TX 4/27/2013

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IMG_1806It was 1990 and The Black Crowes were all over the radio and rightfully so.  Shake Your Money Maker went multi-platinum.  I’m a big fan of their first 3 and like a handful of songs from 3 Snakes and a Charm and By Your Side, but they lost me throughout the 2000s.  In 1990 and 1991 I was drumming for a country band because I couldn’t find a metal band that played what I wanted to play.  The country band had She Talks to Angels in the setlist regularly and I think we did Hard To Handle a few times as well…of course with a country twang to it. It was an enjoyable gig and I was making decent money as we were the house band in a club for quite a while.

For whatever reason I had never seen them live.  It always seemed like something came up that had me miss them.  Finally last night I got to see them and it was worth the wait.  The brothers Robinson were on their game last night for the sold out show at Stubb’s in Austin, TX.  I had been watching the setlists from this current tour and they do like Cheap Trick where every night is a different list.  That’s really cool and tough to do, but it keeps the band fresh and they were fresh last night.

About 4 songs into the set it started to rain a little and I looked at the radar on my phone and saw that a huge storm was coming through so I went and stood under an awning.  Then the bottom fell out.  some folks crowded under the awnings where they could, some just left soaking wet but the majority of the crowd just stood there in the rain.  And it kept raining heavily.  I couldn’t see the band from where I was but I could hear them perfectly and it was still great.  When the lightning started, the band was apparently advised to cut it short.  They did an encore of 2 songs and that was it, unfortunately 30 minutes short.  Right after it ended, the rain stopped.  I met up with some friends who were also there and carried on with our night.  One friend I ran into said that they were surprised that I was a fan of the Crowes.  For me the explanation is easy.  While I’m not a big fan of the blues and bluesy rock, I am a Rolling Stones fanatic and The Black Crowes remind me of them so much.  For me it just seems natural to like them.

Fun show.  I look forward to their next trip to town.

Written by The Metal Files

April 28, 2013 at 9:45 am

Ignitor Mix Tape ’85 Review

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Mixtape_85_BS_cover-300My history with Ignitor isn’t that deep as I only picked up on them when Jason McMaster joined the band in 2009ish.  That doesn’t detract from the Erika Tandy era at all, I just went backwards with their discography.  Ignitor is quality metal, no matter which era you’re listening to.

Ignitor’s latest offering is a download only album of classic covers.  It’s a great mix of classic metal covering some of my favorites bands.

McMaster was made to cover all of these bands giving them his unique vocal flair and Ignitor in general stayed pretty true to these songs without taking any real liberties in the music.  The Stuart “Batlord” solos are all pretty incredible and the opening solo to Into the Coven gave me chills when I first heard it.  He completely nailed the tone.  While I admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Exodus’ Bonded By Blood or Exciter’s Violence and Force, these covers are well done.  I’m especially impressed with their version of Anthrax’s Deathrider.  Fistful of Metal often gets overlooked in Anthrax conversations.  The cover of Highway Star has the proper intro like Deep Purple’s original and the heaviness of Metal Church’s version.   I’m also a huge fan of Witching Hour.  And you gotta love that album cover!

You can stream the album here and I recommend that you buy it from iTunes or Amazon ASAP!  Both are under $8!

Quality metal covers from a quality metal band.

“DEATHRIDER” – Anthrax
“FAST AS A SHARK” – Accept
“VIOLENCE AND FORCE”  – Exciter
“INTO THE COVEN” – Mercyful Fate
“WITCHING HOUR” – Venom
“HELL BENT FOR LEATHER” – Judas Priest
“A LESSON IN VIOLENCE” – Exodus
“HIGHWAY STAR” – Deep Purple

Venomous Maximus – Beg Upon The Light (2012) Review

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I had seen Venomous Maximus at least 6 or 7 times before finally putting ears to any of their studio work.  They are always a treat live.  Super solid, energetic and G. Lee Higgins is the right person to front this band that calls Houston, TX its home.

A few weeks back at a show I bought their latest release, Beg Upon the Light.  It took me almost 2 weeks to finally get around to listening to it and now I feel like I have wasted 2 weeks!  I had to drive to Houston and back this week (2.5 hours each way) and listened to this 3 times on the drive.  Oh my!

This album is very well-produced.  I guess they are considered “stoner/doom” metal.  I hear so much more classic metal sounds that came from Metal Blade and other classic labels.  I hear elements of Tyrant, Damien Thorne, Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath and Cirith Ungol.

Higgins’ voice may take some time for folks to get used to.  I, for one, think they’re perfect for the band.  There’s no death growl that is so rampant in the stoner/doom genre these days.  His voice is clean and clear and typically lower than most metal singers today.  Think King Diamond’s low vocals with Mercyful Fate with a little more “umph” behind them or maybe even those from early Moonspell (Wolfheart).  He has a really good sorrowful wail to his style.

The rest of band is spot on with their delivery.  I especially like Christian’s solos (I always want more solos!).  His solo intro on Path of Doom is such a beautiful nod to Mercyful Fate.  Bongo and Trevi round out the rhythm section perfectly.
Favorite tracks would be Path of Doom, Battle for the Cross, Hell’s Heroes and Moonchild.

I highly recommend this album and so far I’d call it my favorite album of 2012.  10/10.  Go see them live!

You can stream the whole album here.  Find them on Facebook, too.

Written by The Metal Files

November 8, 2012 at 8:51 am

Talisphere 1996 Demo Review

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80s Texas metal.  I love it.  There was so much of it that I’m still playing catch up.  Back in Virginia in the 80s, my only real knowledge of Texas metal was Watchtower and Pantera (pre-Cowboys).  Since moving here in 2006 I’ve gotten an amazing education on the scene that they had here.  I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and become friends with guys who were in a lot of these bands.  Just recently the guitarist for Karion gave me a copy of the CD/DVD set of their old demo and it’s great.  Read about that here.  While doing some research on Karion’s history I found a demo by a band called Talisphere which featured Karion’s singer, Chris Cronk.

This 3 song demo is so damned good and it’s unfortunate that there’s not a whole album.  Chris Cronk told me a week or so ago that a new release by Talisphere is in the works.  The songs on here are great American traditional metal and almost what you’d expect from San Antonio.  I was pleased that this didn’t down like Pantera.  So many bands tried to emulate their sound but fortunately for me, Talisphere stayed true.  Chris’s vocals are powerful and soaring.  For those that don’t know, he auditioned with Fates Warning to replace John Arch before they settled on Ray Alder.  I think I may have enjoyed the post-Arch era stuff a bit more with Cronk.

Chris Cronk – Vocal
John Fiarro – Guitar
Sean Noone – Guitar
Henry Sanchez – Bass
Mario Sevilla – Drums

Download the demo here.

Written by The Metal Files

July 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Karion – Iron Shadows CD/DVD Review

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There’s no secret that Texas had a legendary metal scene in the early-to-late 80s with the likes of Watchtower, Militia, Wyzard, Syrus, SA Slayer, Juggernaut, Sentinel, Obliveon Knight, Assalant, Helstar, Pantera, Rotting Corpse, Gammacide and a ton of others.

Another band that deserves mention and praise from that era is Karion which featured Art Villarreal (SA Slayer), Chris Cronk (Jag Panzer, Fates Waring, Talisphere, SA Slayer), Pete Perez (Riot, Reverend, Spastic Ink) and Frank Ferreira (Helstar).

Starting sometime last year, Art and friend Bob “Dog” Catlin (Juggernaut, SA Slayer) began the process of cleaning up some Karion demos and the result is the 2-disc set entitled Iron Shadows.

Disc 1 contains 6 tracks which I believe are compiled from their 84 and 87 demos, although not all of the songs from the 87 demos are on the CD.  Karion brings that great style of progressive power thrash that was well-known in south central Texas at the time.  Good clean higher ranged vocals, solid guitar riffs and killer solos, great bass work and fine power drumming made this disc a valuable addition to your collection of true 80s metal, especially for the fans of Texas metal.

Disc 2 of a live DVD of a 1986 Karion show filmed from the balcony of the Villa Fontana.  The audio/video quality is much better than I expected and shows that the band had a really good fan base at the time.  Their performance is solid and makes me wish even more that I had lived in the area at the time.

One interesting thing that I found while doing a little extra reading about Karion is that vocalist Chris Cronk recorded 2 different demos with Fates Warning in 86 and 87.  I haven’t listened to them yet but a quick search will lead you to a download of those.

I can’t recommend this set of discs enough.  It’s been kicking my ass for a week now.  I recommend that you pick it up from Rockadrome Records in San Antonio.  Keep it local!

Written by The Metal Files

July 5, 2012 at 8:20 am

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