Reviews

Night Demon - DARKNESS REMAINS

Image: Night Demon, Darkness Remains

Night Demon
DARKNESS REMAINS

There are plenty of people out there that bitch and moan about today’s metal. Fair enough. The overall direction of this next generation of metal may not be for everyone. I certainly can understand that people who came up on NWOBHM bands might not dig Killswitch Engage, Asking Alexandria or any of the Screamo Emo bands of the latest generation. That’s fair. Aside from them showing respect to Dio, is there really any way to compare Rainbow to Killswitch Engage? Probably not. This said though, those that spend their time endlessly bitching about the new era of metal almost universally DON’T support those bands that keep the traditional sound alive. This is most prevalent in the thrash world, where bands like Havok and Warbringer brilliantly carry the torch and are virtually ignored by fans that can’t move past AMONG THE LIVING or BONDED BY BLOOD. The same in the more traditional metal. If you love straight up metal, then you should be almost required to support Night Demon.

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Night Ranger - DON'T LET UP

Image: Night Ranger, Don't Let Up

Night Ranger
DON’T LET UP

I have been listening to this release for a few weeks now, and I really was struggling on the words to say about the latest release, DON’T LET UP. As I do on occasion, I googled the record and read a couple of reviews to see what other people were saying. Then I found the one that seemed to awaken me to writing. Spill Magazine’s Aaron Badgley reviewed DON’T LET UP pretty accurately, although something he said didn’t jive with what I’ll assume is the intended goal of this release. He talked about how DON’T LET UP will do nothing to win new fans. On that, I think he missed the obvious. At this stage in the game, after 35 years, I don’t think Night Ranger is looking to win any. They are still creative guys, but in the end, they are making music to appease their tried and true, longtime fans that still come to the casinos to see them and have been since 1982 when DAWN PATROL came out on LP, cassette and 8-track. New fans? I think they’ve had several runs at that (albums like FEEDING OFF THE MOJO, NEVERLAND and SEVEN) all failed and forced them into “heritage band” status. They are officially what they are...and new music is simply to feed their creative need and the hardcores that feel like music stopped being cool with the release of 7 WISHES.

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Accept - PLATINUM REISSUES

Image: Accept, Platinum Reissues

Accept
PLATINUM REISSUES

Let’s just be honest here. The record labels put these reissues out, almost universally, as a cash grab. It’s certainly unlikely that someone is discovering Accept for the first time in 2017. The more than likely scenario is that old metalheads like myself have CD or vinyl versions of these releases that now skip, and will at some point buy this material again. So we are faced with a choice. We can merely listen to them on Spotify and have something defective in our collection on the wall that will drive us nuts, or we can buy these again and get a little extra something (a song or two here and there) if we drop an extra couple of bucks for the “platinum reissue”. And we’re all old and stupid, so we’ll just spend the money. Am I wrong? Of course I’m not.

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Davey Suicide - MADE FROM FIRE

Image: Davey Suicide, Made From Fire

Davey Suicide
MADE FROM FIRE

There’s a tendency at the end of each musical era for fans to bitch that there’s nothing “new” to listen to. Almost universally, that’s false. Reality usually proves that there’s plenty of music within just about any style that has once found success. It’s just not spoonfed to the masses the way it once was, to where you have to dig a little deeper to find it. There were millions of people that quite literally worshipped the emo-industrial rantings of Marilyn Manson two decades ago. There were equally as many that were into the horror-industrial uptempo vibe that Rob Zombie was creating after disbanding White Zombie. Those fans now all cry that there’s nothing new to listen to. Wrong. Davey Suicide is on his 3rd release that should fulfil the musical needs of any fan of either Manson or Zombie...that is, if you can stop waiting for the radio to tell you the material is good.

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Havok - CONFORMICIDE

Image: Havok, Conformicide

Havok
CONFORMICIDE

It’s not a secret that there was a lot of light on Havok at the end of 2016...and not for a very good reason. The thrash band got into a very public spat with Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine’s son and his tour management company over their contract, which caused them to be removed from a very choice spot aside Megadeth on their DYSTOPIA touring cycle. Not taking sides on this issue here, but it’s clear that this kind of dismissal simply didn’t help Havok while on the cusp of releasing CONFORMICIDE. Still, the band is one that’s been on the cusp for many years now to break through. While the negative attention may have hurt, it certainly didn’t quell them in the least from putting out what may just be the strongest thrash album of 2016.

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Eclipse - MONUMENTUM

Image: Eclipse, Monumentum

Eclipse
MONUMENTUM

Eclipse is one of those bands that’s never going to be a stateside household name. Facts are just facts. Far too often, that happens to bands that really deserve better. It is certainly true in this case. While you have to be pretty deeply ingrained to the world of Melodic Rock to know a lot about Eclipse, you can regularly experience great music from them by digging that far past the surface level dreck that pollutes the music scene. Continuing the excellence that 2015’s ARMAGEDDONIZE provided, MONUMENTUM is a very tasty, fun and appealing slab of classic, melodic hard rock that will prove more than adequate for those that love this style of music.

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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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