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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

Riot – Immortal Soul Review

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I’ve talked about Riot more than once on this site and about how I really love the Thundersteel era over the Fire Down Under era.  Don’t get me wrong, FDU is a great album and extremely influential, but I prefer the more metal/powermetal version of Riot, partially because of Bobby Jarzombek.

I was fortunate enough to see the Riot reunion show in June of 2009 in San Antonio.  It was quite special.  They mentioned at that show that a new album would be forthcoming, then I believe Tony Moore left…then came back.  Great news!

Once the album buzz started getting posted around the web, it got me excited.  I love this band with Moore on vocals.  He sounded really good live in 09.  I finally got the album via iTunes a while back after hearing a few songs that had been posted around the YouTube and such and liked what I heard.

Upon getting the full version, I gave it several listens, at least 15 now.  This is a strong album and well worth owning if you’re a fan of that era of the band’s music.  Bobby Jarzombek shows off his amazing skills as expected.  That guy is awesome, period.  The guitar work is really good, some of the best I’ve ever heard from Reale.  I assume that Flyntz is doing some of the solos too, but not 100% sure.

Lyrically it’s what you would expect.  They obviously made an effort to make this sound like the followup to Thundersteel and not necessarily the followup to Privilege of Power.  The songs are strong and some have their fair amount of lyrical cheese, but it works well.  It’s a fun album.

If I had to make a complaint, it would be on the vocals.   To my ears there sounds like a lot of fixes to Tony’s vocals.  Lots of harmonizer.  It does get annoying in spots but generally doesn’t detract from the album as a whole.

Highlight tracks for me would be Still Your Man (which is basically Johnny’s Back pt 2), Riot, Sins of the Father, Fall Before Me, Wings are for angels.

If you don’t have this album yet, get it.  8/10

Written by The Metal Files

December 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Eric Johnson & Sonny Landreth Concert Review 09/30/2011

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I was introduced to Eric Johnson’s music when Ah Via Musicom was released in 1990 by my friend Mike W.  Mike enjoyed he “shredders” like I did and dubbed the cassette for me.  I liked it a lot and went back and bought Tones as well.  We were excited to see him at the Boathouse in Norfolk later that year.  It was a great show all around.  I didn’t follow Eric’s career, probably because of the time in between the follow-up which was 6 years.  Out of sight, out of mind, eh?

I live in Eric’s hometown now and he rarely plays here but it’s not uncommon to see him do a guest spot when other guitarists roll through town.  He recent jammed with Dweezil Zappa and I’ve seen hm hit the stage with Oz Noy.  I hadn’t see EJ live since that 1990 show and was pretty excited to finally catch him last Friday.  I think he may have done 1 or 2 shows in the last 5 years here (I could be wrong) and I missed them all for one reason or another.

We had good seats and day of the show I was pretty excited about it, even after driving home 3 hours from Dallas.

The opener was Sonny Landreth who I had never heard of until this show was announced.  I was really impressed with his set.  He’s a very unique rock/blues/jazz fusion/country-ish player.  He predominantly uses a slide but does a lot of intricate harmonic techniques and chord structures with both hands.  It was pretty neat to see.  The guy has been around for a long time and had played with John Hiatt and Jimmy Buffett (blech!).  It was a good set and his drummer was great.  I think the bassist was good too, but I couldn’t hear him due to the mix.  The Paramount Theater has strange sound and I think I may try to get seats further back in the venue next time.

There was a short intermission and then EJ and his band took the stage.  It started out with him just doing a few acoustic pieces, one of which was a Paul Simon lullabye.  The band comes out he’s got the phenomenal Chris Marsh on bass.  The drummer was some young guy named Mark something-or-other.  Solid player, obviously schooled.  Eric’s set consisted of a lot of newer material and some covers, including John Coltrane’s Mr. D, which was awesome.  I will be up front and say that I was rather bored with EJ’s set as there wasn’t much of his rock stuff.  So bored as a matter of fact that I left about 3/4 through his set.  I was sitting there about to fall asleep.  As good as EJ is, his stuff does get a bit “samey” sounding and I tend to get bored quickly.

Chris Marsh was certainly the highlight for me.  He’s an astonishing bassist, effortless and awesome.

Other than seeing him sit in with other players, I doubt I’ll go see him live again.

Written by The Metal Files

October 2, 2011 at 9:28 am

Evil United – S/T Album Review

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I’ve been meaning to post my review of this one for months now.  I was given an advanced copy  and have even seen them live 3 or 4 times now, but yet, no review.  So here it is.  Who is Evil United you may ask?  Evil United features some legendary dudes like Jason McMaster (Broken Teeth, Dangerous Toys, ex-Watchtower, Ignitor etc), Don Van Stavern (Riot, SA Slayer, Pitbull Daycare), JohnValenzuela (Pitbull Daycare), TC Connally and Json West (Muderdolls, Sebastian Bach).  Not  a shabby group of folks to get together and make a band, eh?

This album is…well…this album is HEAVY.  Very heavy.   From beginning to end it’s in your face.  McMaster’s vocals go from his shrill to a good tenor backed with power.  I really like it when he’s in his lower registers.    It’s a nice change and he’s got a great clean voice which he has used with Ignitor.

The band is as solid as it gets.  The riffs are tight and the drums are as solid as you would want.  In a live setting this band is especially tight.  Again, the drummer is a badass.  The styles on this album flash from old school thrash and some power metal to some nu-metal sounds with some homage to Pantera.  The production is the one thing that bothers me on this.  It’s a bit too clean and the drums are overtriggered (at least they sound that way to my ears).  But that’s my opinion.  I want all albums to sound like an old Omen record.  haha

Highlight tracks include Walking to Sodom, Dawn of Armageddon, Rise and Fall of Earth and Man, Blasphemer and Hexorcism.

If you need a dose of heavy that’s not of the normal cookie cutter brand, I recommend this album for you.  And thankfully there’s no screamo/growling/cookie monster vocals.  It’s a nice change of pace.

You can stream the whole album on their Reverbnation page.

Thrash!

8/10

Written by The Metal Files

September 27, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Arch/Matheos – Sympathetic Resonance Review

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First and foremost, John Arch is in my top 2 or 3 singers of all time.  Personally I feel that man can do no wrong vocally.  His 3 albums with Fates Warning are easily the best 3 consecutive albums a band could ever dream to put out.  From Night On Brocken to Awaken the Guardian his voice progressed along with Fates’ music.  By the time Awaken came out, I felt the band had set a standard for themselves that would make a follow-up album tough to compare.  Then I read in one of the metal magazines that Arch had left the band.  Seriously?  Then out comes No Exit, a serious let down for me.  It wasn’t that Ray Alder was a bad singer, but that certain something that only Arch could bring to the table wasn’t there.  No Exit is a good album in its own right and I’ll be the first to admit that Perfect Symmetry is a great record, but still, it didn’t have John and after that one I was done with Fates Warning forever.  They got too light and proggy for me.

In 2003 Arch released the 2 song EP A Twist of Fate and it was great to hear his voice again.  At the beginning of this year it was announced that he had signed on with Jim Matheos to do an album.  The band was dubbed Arch/Matheos and also includes journeyman bassist Joey Vera, Bobby Jarzombek and Frank Aresti.  Wait, why not just call it Fates Warning?  I’m sure respect for Ray and probaby some legal issues abound that keep that from happening along with John probably not in the mode for touring.  Fair enough.

But for me, this is a Fates Warning album.  This is the album that could have followed Awaken the Guardian.  I finally bought this from iTunes this past Friday night and have listened to it about 8 times all the way through along with the new Anthrax album.  This one’s better by a county mile, no disrespect to ‘Thrax.

I am loving this album on so many levels and for so many reasons.  John’s voice and lyrical phrasing, the lyrics, Bobby Jarzombek’s drumming, Aresti’s contributions, Matheos’ riffage and song structures.  I only wish the bass was a tad more prominent.

The album consists of 6 songs that all seem to flow together very well, much like they do on Awaken.  Under a stained Glass Sky is my favorite so far, but the whole album just great.  And seriously, Bobby Jarzombek is easily one of the best drummers in metal today along with Van Williams (Pure Sweet Hell/ex-Nevermore).  Bobby doesn’t suck and he is perfect for this project.

This album is beautiful from front to back surely a must for any John Arch-era Fates Warning Fan.  I am calling it the album of the year and it gets a 10/10.  This will stay in steady rotation and I can’t get enough of it already.  While it’s not Awaken the Guardian or Spectre Within, it is a wonderful new Fates Warning album with a phenomenal singer/lyricist.

I hope that a second album could be in the works somewhere down the road.  This is good enough to warrant a follow-up.  A tour?  Please?  Doubtful I know, but a man can dream, yes?

Again…10/10.  Buy it!

Written by The Metal Files

September 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm