The Metal Files

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Archive for the ‘cd reviews’ Category

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 sound 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

Pure Sweet Hell – Spitting At The Stars CD Review

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Pure Sweet Hell features Van Williams (ex-Nevermore), Dean Sternberg (Onward, ex-Into Eternity, WithinAnother, Toby Knapp) on vocals and Chris Eichhorn on guitar/bass.

This album is pretty damned good, especially Van’s drumming.  I know that should go without saying as he’s such an incredible player and personally I feel he’s severely underrated in the drumming community.  This album is heavy, and that’s a good thing.  There are some good technical spots here and there and this is pretty much just up in your face.  Dean’s clean vocals on here are killer, albeit a bit over-layered in this writer’s opinion.  In general this album is quite enjoyable except for Dean’s more “brutal”-esque vocals.  I’ve just gotten to a point where that singing style just doesn’t do it for me anymore.

There needs to be a renaissance of clean vocal metal again!

This album gets 8/10 though, as the music and clean vocals sound great.  I’d go see them live.

Written by The Metal Files

June 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Graven Rite – The Summoner’s Pit (2012 demo) Review

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From the ashes of Iron Age, Integrity and featuring current members of Ancient VVisdom comes Graven Rite from Austin, TX.  I was handed cassette and CD demos a week or so ago by the singer at a St Vitus show .  I know all the guys in the band and have been told several times that I’d like it.  “Like” is a poor choice of words, really.  I love this demo.  This is good ol’ American traditional metal that sounds like it could have been on one of the old Metal Massacre compilations.  I understand this is a demo, but it really is too short.  I really like Jason’s vocals on this much more than what he did with Iron Age, which wasn’t bad either.  I just prefer cleaner vocals in general and that’s what you get with this demo.  It’s primarily mid-paced, but flows well.

I believe the 2-song cassette demo will be available in July 2012, not sure about the full 5-track CD.  If you’re into that classic Metal Blade sound, you’ll want to pick this up when it’s released.  A bit derivative?  Probably, but what isn’t these days?  It’s worth the listen for sure.

You can listen to 2 of the tracks here.

Tracks:

  1. Preface
  2. The New Faith (Wulfhere’s Prayer)
  3. The Summoner’s Pit
  4. A Slave To The Night
  5. Bloodstone Ring

cassette cover

Written by The Metal Files

June 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Militia – Strength and Honor (2012) Review

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Militia just released an album of all new material a few weeks ago. Yes. Militia. You know, Militia from Austin, Texas that’s been around since forever.

Before moving here I didn’t know who they were although I had heard their singer on the track Dangerous Toy by Watchtower as Mike Soliz was the interim singer between Jason McMaster and Alan Tecchio. It wasn’t until I moved here that I ended up meeting Mike and subsequently the rest of the band as they were doing some reunion shows. The original pressing of their EP The Sybling has fetch a few thousand dollars on eBay. Cult classic to say the least.

I was excited a year or so ago when they decided to start writing for a new album. I love all of the old Militia stuff and the other stuff that Mike has been involved in (Assalant and Oblivion Knight) so I was surely excited to hear some new product.

Strength and Honor is a self-engineered and self-produced record by he boys and because of logistics, Mike also played the drums. I got my copy on Monday and on my drive to Dallas yesterday I gave it several good listens. It’s fantastic. Really. Front to back the album flows well and I think the track order is perfect. Mike’s vocals are still superb. He’s taken good care of it over the years. Mike is also an underrated drummer. I was pleasantly surprised by his drum work on the album. The riffs and solos by Tony and Jesse are really quality and as always, Robert’s bass work is top-notch.

The songs that really stand out for me are Before The Fall, We Need A New Enemy, And The Gods Made War and The Judas Dream.

Now, I only have one complaint and that’s in the production. It’s a bit rough but it’s not un-listenable. To be honest, it almost gives it more of an 80s metal feel to it. The production value doesn’t detract from the quality songwriting, though. This album has it all and I highly recommend it to any who is a fan of 80s underground power thrash. You can get the CD directly from the band HERE.

9.5/10

Thrash to destroy!

Written by The Metal Files

April 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm