The Metal Files

My Life. My Music. Your Voyeurism.

Posts Tagged ‘record reviews

Satan “Atom By Atom” Album Review (2015)

with one comment

cover_onlineSatan have returned again with a new offering for 2015 on Listenable Records entitled “Atom By Atom” and it’s everything you’d expect after 2013’s Life Sentence.

This album rolls hard from beginning to end and proves once again that the guitar duo of Steve Ramsey and Russ Tippins is damn near untouchable.  Brian Ross’ vocals are on point and his patented high wails are ever prominent in all the right places.  After their Richmond, VA show in 2013, my friend asked Brian how he’s maintained his voice so well since “Court In the Act”.  Brian simply replied with, “It’s my job.”  And he still does it well.

“Atom By Atom” features 10 tracks and one thing I’ve noticed is that this album seems a bit darker lyrically than their last album and even “Court In the Act”.

Let’s go track by track:

  1. Farewell Evolution – The album opens with Brian’s falsetto, and lyrically tackles the lack of critical thinking in modern society.
  2. Fallen Saviour – “Some still believed that he’d return to save them”.  I think you can figure out the rest of the sentiment here.  I love the guitar solos in this one.
  3. Ruination – This is one of my favorites on the album so far.  The combination of the riffs and rhythm section matched with Ross’ descending vocal pattern just makes for a clean song.
  4. The Devil’s Infantry – Sean Taylor and Graeme English open this one with a marching pattern.  Lyrically what you’d think based on the title.  It all works so perfectly.  The breakdown/transition mid-song is killer.
  5. Atom By Atom – The opening riff on this gives me chills.  “Out to get you, atom by atom.”  You can hear Russ’ distinctive vocals in that part and it just sounds wonderful.  The solos are both crushing as well.
  6. In Contempt – What Satan album would be complete with a song dealing with judgement?  No worries here.  You got it and shan’t be disappointed!
  7. My Own God – Brian lays it out in this one with, “I am my own God, I made myself, broke the mold, life is what I make it, I will not be told.”
  8. Ahriman – Lyrically dealing with Zoroastrianism, of which I am not too familiar.  Great song though.  Love the backing vocals in the chorus.
  9. Bound In Enmity – This is a total fist pumper.  Riffs and licks for days.
  10. The Fall of Persephone – Final track on the record.  A bit of a slow roller and took a few extra listens to warm up to completely.  English has some great bass licks that really stand out.  This one clocks in at almost 7 minutes and has several parts.  The dueling guitar solos are perfect.

I really cannot praise this album enough.  It’s everything I expected and more and I can’t wait to get a physical copy in my hands and especially can’t wait to catch them live again.  If I could give only one critical opinion about this album, it would be in the drum production, mainly the snare.  On much of the album it’s just a bit too bright but really doesn’t detract from Sean’s solid playing or from the album itself.

Long live Satan and thanks to Listenable Records for letting me review this!

10/10!

Satan are:

Brian Ross
Russ Tippins
Steve Ramsey
Graeme English
Sean Taylor

l-r: English, Taylor, Tippins, Ramsey, Ross

l-r: English, Taylor, Tippins, Ramsey, Ross

Written by The Metal Files

September 19, 2015 at 11:20 pm

Uriah Heep – Demons and Wizards

with one comment

There’s really something special about listening to vinyl.  One of my all time favorite records to spin was Uriah Heep’s Demons and Wizards.  The record was a hand-me-down from my brother who was a pretty big Heep fan.  I believe it was the very early 1980s when he exposed me to this band.  As I was converting my CD version of this album to MP3 today, it really made me realize how much I missed spinning records.  This is certainly one album that is best heard through a needle.  Sure, the CD sounds good but there’s just something about this album that screams to be heard on vinyl.

I sold off most of my record collection years ago.  Sometimes I regret it, but generally I don’t think about it too often.  But today I am certainly missing it.  Sometimes you just need that hit of nostalgia, ya know?

Demons and Wizards was Heep’s 3rd album and the 2nd of what I call their Holy Trilogy.  Look at Yourself and Magician’s Birthday being the other two.  That was a good run of albums!

I’d say the only song on this one that I don’t care for is All My Life, but I never skip it.  When anyone ever asks me to recommend a Heep album to them, this is the one I tell them to start with.

So, if you don’t own this and you like classic prog and psyche rock, this is something you should check out.

Who couldn’t love this song?

And this may be my fave from the record:

Written by The Metal Files

October 10, 2010 at 5:19 pm

White Witch – S/T 1972

leave a comment »

Here’s an odd one from my old vinyl collection.  Danile and I were at Electric Smiles Records in Virginia Beach about 15 or so years ago rummaging through their $1 bins and I ran across both LPs from White Witch.  They were automatically interesting for 2 reasons…band name and imagery.  I bought them without hearing them.  Why not?  They were only $1 each.  I think that was the same day we saw Pantera’s first 4 albums on LP as well, but they were like $15 each and I wasn’t into spending that kind of cash that day.

I had no idea what to expect from this band.  Seeing that they were an early 70s band, I expected something sort of Sabbath-esque and maybe a little proggy like YES.  Instead it’s a little more psychedelic with a few flashes of prog rock.  Maybe a little Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash thrown in for good measure.  Overall this first eponymous album is pretty good with some catchy chorus and musical hooks here and there.  I bought the CDs for these several years ago and they apparently sell for decent cash on eBay these days.  I sold their 2nd CD on eBay a year or so ago for $40.  I preferred the debut album so I kept it.  Now it’s in the stack to be sold with much of my CD collection and I am making the transition to going almost completely digital.  Interesting that they toured with Alice Cooper.  That would have been a cool show to see for sure.

So if you’re into the trippy 70s rock, I highly recommend that you download this.  It’s been out of print for a few years.  Read up more on the band here.

I really dig the guy’s vocals.  He has a Barry Gibb tenor thing sans the falsetto.  Favorite tracks are You’re the One, Don’t Close Your Mind, And I’m Leaving, Illusion (double bass!) and Help Me Lord.  I do tend to skip over Home Grown Girl and It’s So Nice To Be Stoned.  They’re both a bit goofy but pretty normal for the time they were written.

Download here.

Iron Maiden – No Prayer For The Dying (post facto review)

with 2 comments

I used to be a collector of all vinyl Iron Maiden.  I had a ton of stuff.  I didn’t have every pressing of every album or EP, but I had most of them.  It was crazy.  My OCD always had me looking for Iron Maiden records the minute I’d hit a record store.  Then No Prayer For The Dying came out and it seemed that Maiden had gone on marketing steroids.  Sure, they were the kings of releasing stuff since day 1, but it seemed to get crazy in 1990.  It was just too much.  I did buy a lot of the related EPs and such but decided to end it.  One reason was that the album, as I saw it at the time, wasn’t that good.

I saw that tour as well and had a good time although seeing Gers prance around on stage was utterly annoying.  Anthrax opened up on their Persistence of Time Tour.  They got pissed at the crowd for sitting down during their set.  It was a former friend from high school, Rogerson and myself at the patriot Center near Washington, DC.

Last night I decided to listen to this album again.  In a previous review I dogged it out pretty badly.  Listening to this again last night I really only cringed a few times.  I think I detested it so much back then because Adrian wasn’t on it, even though he gets partial credit for writing the worst song on the album, Hooks in You.  Musically it’s fine but the lyrics are silly.  Most likely they were written by Bruce Bruce.  I blame him.  The song sounds like it could have been on Tattooed Millionaire.

Overall I found listening to No Prayer rather enjoyable.  It was a nice trip down memory lane and there are a lot of songs on here that I actually like…a lot!  But Holy Smoke, Hooks In You and Bring Your Daughter are just dumb songs.  Absolutely horrible.  My absolute favorites would be The Assassin, Public Enema Number One, Run Silent Run Deep and even Mother Russia.  Tailgunner is just a mediocre track.

One thing that was blatantly apparent on here was the differences in the guitar solos.  There are no doubts as to who is soloing in each song.  To put is in simple terms, all of Jannick’s solos suck.  Seriously.  All of them.  I still think he sucks and still wish that he’d just go away.

In my original review I gave this album 2/10.  I am going to change it to a 6/10.  It’s energetic and Steve Harris was still a prominent feature in their sound.  Nowadays he’s just in the background.  What a pity.

If you were like me and hated this album back then, give it a new chance, especially after hearing how much they have changed in the last decade.

My ticket stub and a sticker that Maiden dropped from the ceiling at the end of their opening song, Tailgunner. (click to enlarge)

Written by The Metal Files

August 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier Review

with 8 comments

What a terrible album cover!

I’m at a loss for words (pun intended) on trying to review this album.  Anyone that knows me knows I always have words, especially when it comes to talking about music.  But this is a little bit difficult.  But now I am reviewing an album by my all time favorite band ever…EVER!  There is no other band that could be #1 for me, it’s just not possible.  But for the sake of my adoring public *cough*, I’ll try to scribble out some drivel for your voracious reading palettes.

I don’t need to go back into the annals of The Metal Files and rehash my love for Maiden, it’s all there for you to peruse on your own.  But for as much as I have loved them since 1984, I have not been so blinded by fandom to think that they can do no wrong.  They’ve released their share of shit over the years.  What?  You want that list?  It’s ugly and many will disagree, but here goes:

  • Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (I can tolerate it better now than when it was released, but I detested it for years upon years)
  • Fear of the Dark
  • The X-Factor
  • Virtual XI
  • Dance of Death

Did you notice that The Final Frontier didn’t make the list?  Look again, it’s not up there.  Don’t get me wrong, this album is not ‘awesome’ or ‘great’ or ‘brilliant’ or even ‘ground-breaking’, but it is quite a solid album…with some warts.  It’s the album that I expected after A Matter of Life and Death, which I loved.

I heard 30 second clips from each of the songs about a month ago and noticed something going on with either Bruce’s voice or the production of his voice.  It sounded raspy, unclear and low in the mix.  I honestly thought Maiden leaked rough mixes as a joke to fool their adoring public.  I was wrong.  Bruce sounds tired on this which is a bit surprising as he sounded great on the tour.  While I don’t hear any auto-tuner done on his voice,  it is pretty clear that much of his vocals were punched in.  There are too many areas where even the mighty Air Raid Siren would physically not be able to catch his breath if he tried to sing some of this stuff straight through.  And that’s not a big deal, bands have been recording vocals like this for decades.

When first seeing the tracklistings and the lengths of the songs, I knew what we were going to get; lots of intros and outtros and long repetitive choruses.  We get some of that on this record for sure, but it doesn’t seem as much of the repetitiveness as we’ve seen on recent recordings by “Ron Maiden and the Dixie Chickens” (aka Iron Maiden).

Something I noticed on this album and the last one is the “absence” of Steve Harris.  Sure you can hear him in the intros and in the main parts of the songs clanking along on his P-bass, but where are the signature ‘Arry bass runs?  I just don’t hear them and have missed that in recent years.  There are some areas where Nicko’s right foot still lets you know that he’s a bad mofo, but some of his fills seems to lack the energy and creativity that my favorite drummer used to have.  Yes, he’s always been “Mr. 4-on-the-floor”, but it seems to happen way too much on this album.

While it pains me to say this, my favorite track on the album was penned by Jannick Gers:  The Alchemist.  It’s the shortest song on the album clocking in at a mere 4’29”.  It’s also the most energetic and upbeat song on the record.  Everything else is mid-paced with a few bursts here and there.  But still, get Jannick out of the band already!  Sure he’s been there for 20 years now but make him go away.

Adrian Smith has writing credits on 6 of the 10.  Some of his stuff in the classic Maiden era were Maiden’s best songs.  He’s a talented guy and I loved his solo album, but what I am hearing on here doesn’t have the classic “H” feel to it.  Of course, this isn’t your father’s Maiden either.

Dave Murray gets some credit on The Man Who Would Be King.  Upon my first listen to that track, I thought to myself, “Self?  This one must’ve been written by Dave Murray.”   It just seems like a Dave song, I don’t know any better way to explain it.  Neither good nor bad.

I’ve read some other reviews of this album where people are giving accolades to the closing track When The Wind Blows.  It’s 10+ minutes long, Maiden’s 3rd longest song ever.  In general I don’t care for it.  I don’t like the way that the guitar follows the vocals or vice versa.  But the last few minutes of this song give us a flash of classic Maiden.

It took me a few listens but I realized something…this album reminds me a lot of one of their older albums…No Prayer For The Dying.  I’m not sure exactly why it brings back memories of that album but it does, sans the retardedly goofy lyrics of NPFTD.  Since Dance of Death, Maiden has been plodding along, playing it safe.  It’s worked well on some songs, on others not so much.

All in all, The Final Frontier isn’t terrible and I’ll spin it several more times before this week is over, but it won’t rank up there in my favorite Maiden albums, not even close.  Still, it’s better than what some of the other “classic” metal bands have been putting out in recent years (Nostradamus anyone?).  If you’ve liked Maiden’s stuff since Brave New World (or anything from the Gers era), then you will not be disappointed.  If you only care for the pre-1990 stuff, don’t bother with this.  It will be a waste of time for you.

6.5/10 is my rating.  It could have been a lot worse, and like anything else, it could have been a lot better.  I guess I really wasn’t at a loss for words…big ‘orra!

Written by The Metal Files

August 18, 2010 at 8:16 am

Overlife – Between Passion and Madness – 1998

leave a comment »

1998.  I was really buying a lot of music at the time betweenwhat I was selling through my online music store and what overlifeI was buying for myself.  A lot of the stuff I was buying for myself was from Denis Gulbey at Sentinel Steel Records.  Back in the old days when you could call in and jibber jabber, Denis recommended Overlife to me.  So…thanks Denis!

Overlife hails from Alicante, Spain.   I built their first website (long since gone) and used to correspond with Fabricio quite a bit.  What really drew me to them was Leandro’s voice.  Very unique and a lot of emotion.  The music itself was a little sloppy in places and even the vocals seem a bit out of key sometimes, but this album is really good overall.  It’s sung completely in English but I included 2 bonus tracks in Spanish.  They are good European power/prog metal with a hint of wanting to sound like Dream Theater.  Their later albums sounded more like DT type prog which was a turnoff for me.  So, this album it is.  I still listen to it a few times a year.  It’s a bright memory of a darker time in my life where the death of my father and my divorce seemed to dominate my every day life.

So if you’re into the aforementioned style of power metal, I recommend this highly.

Download here and enjoy.

Quiet Riot – Metal Health (1983)

with 3 comments

Let’s just be straight here, I love this album.  I have since it was released.  1983.  I was 13.  It was a tough year for me…I MetalHealthQuietRiotguess 83-85 were a little difficult.  Not necessarily because of going through the typical teenage bullshit, but there were other things going on that really made those some tough years.  But hey, I got through it.  I spent a lot of days and nights listening to this album.  I used to have this little one speaker GE boombox that I would put under my pillow at night to keep listening to music as I went to sleep and so my parents wouldn’t hear it.  Not that they had a problem with QR, they just had a problem with my obsession with music.  haha  It was a thin cassette player so I only needed to remove my bottom pillow to make it fit and not kink my neck.  Usually sometime in the middle of the night the player ended up on the floor and the second pillow was back in its proper place.

I picked this up right after hearing Metal Health on the radio.  “huhuhuhuhuh, the song says bang your head.”  It was catchy.  I never cared for Cum On Feel The Noize.  It was goofy…still is.  I was never a Slade fan, but I don’t dislike them, just never really got exposed to them beyond the 2 songs that QR did, which are goofy.  Beyond the goofiness of COFTN, this album is pretty great.  Especially songs like Breathless, Run for Cover, Don’t Wanna Let You Go…the whole damned thing.  When I pop in the CD I never skip any tracks, not even COFTN, it’s just part of the flow of the record.

In 1999 I got to see them with this lineup.  They did an autograph signing earlier in the day at Mars Music and of course I went.  They were all in good spirits except for Frankie Banali who seemed to have his ass on his shoulders a bit that day.  I brought a few things to get signed like some odd QR EPs, a few CD covers and a few WASP CD covers.  Apparently Frankie didn’t have one of the WASP CDs that I brought and asked if he could have mine.  I told him no and he got a little peeved about it.  “Well I’m not signing anything else.”  “Fine, dude, no biggie,” and I finished out my time with the rest of the band who were gracious.  Cavazo gave a head nod towards Frankie and just shook his head at him in disapproval.  They had about 200 people show up to meet them which I thought was a decent showing for a concert that was getting no promotion and was at a shitty venue.

I came home after the signing to chill out for a while before the show and realized that I had 2 of the WASP CD/EPs so I brought it to the show.  We got to the Riverview Theater and I swear it looked closed.  This place was trying to get revitalized and they were bringing some decent bands there but it never seemed to take off for them.  For this show only about about 40 people showed up…FORTY PEOPLE.  I felt really bad for them.  They came out and played like there were 20,000 people there.  Kevin never once commented on the size of the crowd.  They were awesome.  After watching Cavazo play I gained a lot more respect for him as a guitarist.  That guy is really friggin’ good.

After the show the band came back out to hang out with everybody.  I was talking with Rudy Sarzo about his days with Whitesnake and such Frankie came up to me and said, “Hey, come here a second.”  “Sorry I was such a dick earlier.  I was having a bad day.”  I told him it was no big deal and pulled out the spare  copy of the WASP EP that I had and handed it to him.  He was shocked and gave me a big sweaty hug.  haha.  “Until today I didn’t even know that this EP existed.”  I ended up talking with him quite a bit for the time they hung out.  I told him that his first 2 albums with QR were big influences on me when I was learning how to play drums.  All of them were nice and Kevin seeked out every person in the room and thanked them personally for coming out.  That wasn’t the asshole Kevin Dubrow that I had read about in the ‘zines, this guy was actually nice.

It was a fun day and night and I finally got to meet a band that I had loved for 16 years.  The news of Kevin’s death in 2007 really brought me down.  I had read just prior to that that he had gotten himself clean and sober.  It was too bad that those demons continued to haunt him and that he wasn’t able to continue down that path to recovery.

RIP Kevin.