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Archive for the ‘cd reviews’ Category

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

Anthrax – Worship Music Album Review

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Anthrax has dome some shuffling over the years in the singer department, that’s for sure.  Turbin’s out, Belladonna’s in, Belladonna’s out, Bush is in, Bush is out, Nelson is in, Nelson is out, Bush is back in, Bush pulls aside (or is put aside) to allow for some shows with Belladonna, Bush ih out, Belladonna is in.  Wow.  There’s no question that Anthrax’s most popular era is with Belladonna at the helm.  When we saw them last year, they sounded great overall and Joey’s voice sounded strong.

Anthrax released Worship Music last week and I’ve got 3+ listens into it which is enough to give it a proper review.  Let’s be clear in that while I love John Bush with Armored Saint, he just didn’t cut it for me with Anthrax, although seeing them live with John in 2006 on the We’ve Come For You All Tour and they were really good.

Worship Music opens with the selt-titled intro then blasts into Earth on Hell which starts out fast with blast beats.  That’s a twist.  The next 5 songs are pretty killer with Fight ’em Til You Can’t, The Devil You Know and I’m Alive are my faves on the album.  In the End rounds the last of what I consider the best tracks on the album.  From here they really start changing things up a bit.  The riffs get a bit chunkier and it starts sounding a bit more “modern”.

The last 5 songs really put me off a bit where the previous tracks all work well together.  That being said, Joey sounds great and you don’t hear a lot of “fixes” in his stuff although there are some spots if heavy layering and “harmonizering”.  I am sick of that sound in metal these days.  It’s used as a cover up.  Just get it out there clean and in the raw and of you can’t then don’t try at all.  But this is good stuff.  The ending tracks aren’t bad by any means but they’re quite a departure from the first half of the album.

I will call them out for ripping themselves off though.  Remember Make Me Laugh from State of Euphoria?  They totally jacked some of the vocal melody in the song for Fight ’em Till You Can’t.  It’s a goofy song lyrically (zombie apocalypse) but it’s well-sung and well written.

In general, don’t expect Spreading the Disease or Among The Living, although there are a few flashes from Among on here.  You get more of a State of Euphoria/Persistence of Time vibe in the whole thing with some modern metal vibes.  Benante is a badass on some of these tracks…in general he’s a beast on the drums anyway.  There are some really good guitar melodies here and there, something that you normally don’t get out of Anthrax.

It’s a good album and worthy of any Anthrax fan’s collection.  It’ll get more listens from me fore sure.  I give it a 7.5/10.  With more listens I see that number go up a bit.

Written by The Metal Files

September 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm