Reviews

Ex Deo - THE IMMORTAL WARS

Image: Ex Deo, The Immortal Wars

Ex Deo
THE IMMORTAL WARS

Without question, my favorite death metal band on the planet is Kataklysm. They are a band that has never failed me in their now 20 year career. Their brand of metal is beyond intense, and yet still maintains an ounce of melody that makes them far more than a “play as fast as you can on every instrument” type of act. Nine years ago, vocalist Maurizio Iacono announced the side project known as Ex Deo, which would be somewhat more of the same, only with a theme of the Roman Empire. Their two releases before today, ROMULUS and CALIGVLA, were OK but something wa missing. To my ears, they have found it. THE IMMORTAL WARS is a very solid, intense and enticing listen.

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Six Feet Under - TORMENT

Image: Six Feet Under, Torment

Six Feet Under
TORMENT

It’s really not reinventing the wheel, now is it? When you get handed anything at all that says Six Feet Under on the cover and features Chris Barnes, there’s not a lot of mystery in what you’re getting. Some releases are better than the others, and they seemingly all seem to feature new personnel on them, but in the end, there’s a consistency to Barnes’ work since he left Cannibal Corpse. With TORMENT, it’s not especially different this time around, although it’s a far more direct release than their last studio offering CRYPT OF THE DEVIL was. Now working with a new drummer and a sort of new guitarist (Ray Suhy played on one song on CRYPT OF THE DEVIL and none here, but is listed as a member of the band), the result is to be expected.

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Psycho Kiss - GRIT

Image: Psycho Kiss, Grit

Psycho Kiss
GRIT

The first of the surprises of 2017 has come to my inbox. For no other reason than I thought the name of the band was lousy and their press release mentioned Halestorm, I decided to download this release and see what was going on. I’m so glad I did. While Psycho Kiss is not breaking any kind of new ground to speak of, they are just a kick ass band. The Halestorm comparison is fairly legitimate musically, as they have a slightly heavier but ultimately the same musical style as Lzzy Hale’s band. But the voice - damn. Just damn! Helen Ceri Clarke is fucking amazing. She’s got some of that Lzzy Hale swagger, but sounds more like Tesla’s Jeff Keith than Hale. It’s a whiskey soaked, powerful woman’s voice and it’s truly compelling.

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Stephen Pearcy - SMASH

Image: Stephen Pearcy, Smash, Ratt

Stephen Pearcy
SMASH

With all the ridiculous nonsense of the last year surrounding Ratt and Bobby Blotzer using a lawyer’s decree while pretending there’s a single bit of legitimacy that fans will swallow to his tribute band, vocalist Stephen Pearcy got to work and recorded his next solo release. Being honest, Pearcy has been REALLY hit or miss outside of the confines of his rodent band. Arcade 1 was great. Arcade 2 wasn’t. Vertex wasn’t. His solo releases SOCIAL INTERCOURSE and UNDER MY SKIN were decent. FUELER was abysmal. It’s a mixed back with Pearcy, which sort of fits his personality, really. He’s back with SMASH, and he’s back on the upswing. While not brilliant by any means, SMASH is the strongest of his solo releases, and probably second only to Arcade 1 outside of Ratt.

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Overkill - THE GRINDING WHEEL

Image: Overkill, The Grinding Wheel

Overkill
THE GRINDING WHEEL

There are very few constants in the world of heavy metal like Overkill. They are, quite literally, a band that for over 30 years now you can purchase something new from, sight unseen, and KNOW it’s going to be excellent. There’s a part of me that feels like I could just dig up any review I’ve ever written on any of their releases, change the names of the songs, put it up as new and have it be deadly accurate. That’s the level of consistency Overkill has had. Nothing has affected it. Not age. Not lineup changes. Not success or lack thereof...absolutely NOTHING. THE GRINDING WHEEL is Overkill...period.

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Sixx A.M. - PRAYERS FOR THE BLESSED, VOL. 2

Image: Sixx A.M., PRAYERS FOR THE BLESSED VOL 2

Sixx A.M.
PRAYERS FOR THE BLESSED, VOL. 2

I don’t think it’s a secret to many that Nikki Sixx is kind of an ego fueled dickhead. At least to me, that’s the impression I get. I guess that when you add a lot of money to someone that was an anti-social punk in his youth, the result becomes just that as they get older. In any event, dickhead or not, I do admire the fact that he has taken chances with his career outside the box of “Motley Crue” and tried some different things. Sixx A.M., while it feels pretty corporate and sterile, is one such vehicle for Sixx. It’s been an OK ride for this band, pretty much because of the other guys to be honest. PRAYERS FOR THE BLESSED, VOL. 1 was a bit flat. The new VOL. 2 is somewhat stronger.

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Sepultura - MACHINE MESSIAH

Image: Sepultura, Machine Messiah

Sepultura
MACHINE MESSIAH

Yet another excellent Sepultura has been released, and no sooner does it come along than the same tired internet trolls start with the same ol’ bullshit about how it can’t be good because the brothers are no longer in the band. It’s been 20 years, cocksuckers...we know your opinion. Really, it’s only you that is hurt by this stance, as you have missed some excellent extreme metal along the way...specifically over the last 3, now 4 releases. MACHINE MESSIAH takes some chances along the way, but in the end it’s Sepultura and it fucking rages!

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Nine Inch Nails - NOT THE ACTUAL EVENTS

Image: Nine Inch Nails, Not The Actual Events, Review, Pitriff

Nine Inch Nails
NOT THE ACTUAL EVENTS

Maybe time passing has taken the luster away from most people when it comes to the release of new Nine Inch Nails music...but not this guy. For whatever reason, there’s just something satisfying about a trip into the abyss of Trent Reznor’s mind that makes any new release entertaining. Maybe it’s the fact that it can be so different from release to release, or maybe it’s the fact that regardless of the changes employed, there’s a universal vibe to his music from release to release unlike any other prolific releaser of music in history. While I’m not sure what it is, Reznor always delivers material that is challenging, entertaining and, ultimately, a realistic representation to the brand “Nine Inch Nails” which he has created. Add one more release to that score with NOT THE ACTUAL EVENTS. This is exactly what you would hope for from Trent.

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Jack Russell's Great White - HE SAW IT COMIN'

Image: Jack Russell's Great White, He Saw It Comin'

Jack Russell’s Great White
HE SAW IT COMIN’

Let’s just all be real for a second, folks. This whole trend of having two bands with the same name because members don’t get along BUT are legally attached somehow is just plain stupid. Yes, we all get that everyone has to make a living, and yes, we get that it’s worth more money to each side to use the established name instead of starting over. That said, music is entertainment, and nothing is entertaining about confusion. Nothing at all. Further, in most cases, the parts never are as good as the whole. While not awful by any stretch, HE SAW IT COMIN’ is a prime example of this. Again, while a decent release, vocalist Jack Russell does himself a disservice by having “Great White” as part of the band’s title, because this simply doesn’t sound like anything that’s previously been associated with the name. In fairness, ELATION from the “other” Great White wasn’t that much closer either.

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Kreator - GODS OF VIOLENCE

Image: Kreator, Gods Of Violence, Mille Petrozza

Kreator
GODS OF VIOLENCE

There must be something really fucked up going on in Germany these days, because every last one of these German bands releasing music are providing the most fierce material of their career. Accept, Primal Fear and now Kreator have all released some of the most fierce music in their existence in the last couple of years. For Kreator, GODS OF VIOLENCE is a masterpiece that absolutely obliterates their last release PHANTOM ANTICHRIST (which many considered as their album of the year in 2012). The comparison is not even close. While many might point to their releases of the 1980s, I would argue that Mille Petrozza and company are packing far more rage into every song than they ever have before. GODS OF VIOLENCE...indeed.

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