Reviews

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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Armored Saint - CARPE NOCTUM

Image: Armored Saint, Carpe Noctum, Review, Pitriff

Armored Saint
CARPE NOCTUM

In the world of heavy metal, there are some "givens". It's a given that any time Metallica releases anything, the haters will line up to bitch and moan about whatever they do not being as good as their first three albums. It's a given that with every release Slipknot puts out, an army of guys over 40 will put on their "keyboard warrior" capes and start whining about how that band is NOT metal. Any time Cannibal Corpse releases music, there will be a stream of people to tell you how it's no good because "cookie monster vocals suck". And, like clockwork, with every release of anything at all from Armored Saint, the metal people will take to the internet to proclaim them as "the most criminally underrated ever". It really is quite funny to watch all of this, to be honest. 

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Niterain - VENDETTA

Image: Niterain, Vendetta

Niterain
VENDETTA

It’s interesting that in their press release, Niterain’s publicity team calls them the “heirs to the throne” of the now retired Motley Crue. Hearing the blatant ripoff of the disc’s first song, “Lost and Wasted” from the Crue’s “Wildside”, they might believe that. But when all is said and done, Niterain seem destined to be another in a long list of forgotten foreign sleaze bands of the last 15 years that wanted that title but just didn’t have the spark to get there. VENDETTA is about as plain as it gets. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t especially good either. There have been bands that had much more of that “spark” to raise up in this genre over the last decade. Crashdiet comes to mind. Listening to songs like “Come Out” or “#1 Bad Boy” (no, not a Poison cover song, which somehow makes it worse), you can tell these guys really WANT to be the next wave...but just don’t have whatever it was that separated the winners from the losers back in 1985.

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Enuff Z'nuff - CLOWNS LOUNGE

Image: Enuff Z'nuff, Clowns Lounge

Enuff Z’nuff
CLOWNS LOUNGE

We all have a guilty pleasures; bands we are not supposed to like because they don’t fit what people expect us to be into. One of my biggest is Enuff Z’nuff. I have always loved them. While a ton of people really only know “Fly High Michelle” and “New Thing” and think the band disbanded after that, I have loved most of their albums. TWEAKED, PARAPHERNALIA, SEVEN and PEACH FUZZ are soundtracks to my 30s that I still play often. Sadly though, the core of the band, Chip Z’nuff and Donnie Vie, have a real Dokken/Lynch Van Halen/Roth type of relationship between them. The difference though is that Z’nuff and Vie have never had success away from Enuff Z’nuff, which always leads back to releases like CLOWNS LOUNGE being released.

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Devilskin - BE LIKE THE RIVER

Image: Devilskin, Be Like The River

Devilskin
BE LIKE THE RIVER

I’m a sucker for a female fronted hard rock band. Give me a band like Halestorm or Lacuna Coil, and I’m pretty much good for weeks. Give me a band that combines the two, and I’m about as musically good as a person can possibly be. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Devilskin!

Featuring music that you might find created if Sevendust and Lacuna Coil’s tour buses collided, Devilskin has a very strong sound that is at once diverse, emotional and entertaining. Without question, the appeal of the band is vocalist Jennie Skulander. Her smooth, yet powerful vocals soar throughout songs like “Pray”, which also does the old Lacuna Coil thing of enhancing the vocals with a snarling vocal accompaniments here and there. Musically, they are pretty solid, although they keep things a little too safe from song to song for my taste. I’d like to see a bit more diversity to match the incredible range that Skulander showcases...but that’s just me, I guess.

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