Reviews

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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Tango Down - BULLETPROOF

Image: Tango Down, Bulletproof

Tango Down
BULLETPROOF

There’s a part of me that wonders why new bands make music that would have done very well from 1988-1992, knowing full well that it’s not going to make much of an impact in 2016. The thought is very real, but it makes me wonder if these otherwise talented musicians are wasting their time creating music for the few instead of the masses. Then there’s morning’s like today; a cold winter morning where I just want to sit home and rock to something fun, energetic and anthemic that I haven’t had 30 years of burn on to where I’m bored with it in about 2 minutes or less. It’s those moments when I am glad I can fire up the Amazon Music and find something like Tango Down’s BULLETPROOF in the collection.

Featuring new vocalist and one of my favorites, Chas West (Bonham, 3 Legged Dogg), Tango Down have created a very cool release that probably won’t find much of an audience under 30, but probably doesn’t care about that anyway. Songs like the mid tempo “Give Me A Reason” come with huge hooks, strong harmonies and enough “oomph” to make them appealing. Other songs, like the title track “Bulletproof” feature some big, standard tuning crunch provided by guitarist Scott Miller.

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Ranger - SPEED & VIOLENCE

Image: Ranger, Speed & Violence

Ranger
SPEED & VIOLENCE

Can someone please take the time to review and correct the press releases I receive? The press release for this release says Ranger was formed in 2008, not 1978. That can’t be true. Hailing from Finland, Ranger sounds exactly what you would expect if you scored a box set containing NWOBHM rarities dedicated to the speed metal of the time. Recorded completely in analog, these Helsinki lunatics have created a raw, monstrous collection of material full of great songs and a sound that would make any of us old tape traders proud. Songs like “Without Warning” and “NIght Slasher” blaze, with a sound that is so reminiscent to KILL ‘EM ALL or KILLING IS MY BUSINESS...AND BUSINESS IS GOOD (Being clear, they don’t sound at all like Metallica or Megadeth, but the audio sound does).

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Metallica - HARDWIRED...TO SELF DESTRUCT

Image: Metallica, Hardwired...To Self Destruct

Metallica
HARDWIRED...TO SELF DESTRUCT

Like any other Metallica release that has come after MASTER OF PUPPETS, it comes with lots of questions, lots of haters hating, and even more diehards bitching about the haters. After 8 years of waiting, Metallica returns with a strong, somewhat confusing and definitely the most pure definition of what this band is that they’ve ever done. More than anything else, the band seem to have tried to give something to everyone that’s ever listened to the band on HARDWIRED. There’s fast songs like “Hardwired” and “Spit Out The Bone” for the old guard. There are a lot of more mid-tempoed songs like “Halo On Fire” or “Dream No More” for the Black album crowd. There’s a few tribute songs for their heroes (“Murder One” for Lemmy, “Ronnie Rising” for Ronnie James Dio). Finally, there’s even a bit of stretching out artistically, as songs like “Am I Savage” point out. In the end, when you try to pack that much into one release, you get a bit of a mixed bag, which comes down to your level of fandom for that band. As a Metallica fan, there’s enough for me to really like. If I was a hater, I’m sure I’d still like 4 songs...maybe 5.

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Stuck Mojo - HERE COME THE INFIDELS

Image; Stuck Mojo, Here Come The Infidels

Stuck Mojo
HERE COME THE INFIDELS

When a band moves on to singer #3, it generally comes to the point of “do or die” for them. For many bands, it’s the point where fans and the band alike realize that it’s over. For far too many, it’s proof that they’ve hung on too long. Certainly, that’s the first thought that comes to mind. Every once in awhile though, it works. While not perfect, Stuck Mojo’s latest release, HERE COME THE INFIDELS, does showcase that there’s still some gas in the tank for the band. While certainly not as strong as SOUTHERN BORN KILLERS (with vocalist Lord Nelson) or any of the classic Bonz led material, HERE COME THE INFIDELS introduces vocalist Robbie J. to the world. He’s strong as a performer, and brings fire to songs like “Rape Whistle”, while guitarist Rich Ward brings his signature sound to songs like “Worst Person On Earth”.

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Eden's Curse - CARDINAL

Image: Eden's Curse, Cardinal

Eden’s Curse
CARDINAL

There is a flood of melodic metal bands out there these days...so much so, in fact, that more times than not, the very good ones get missed by fans and critics alike. One of those bands is Eden’s Curse. They have been around for several years, and while they have made significant strides internationally, they have always seemed to get lost in the shuffle with their releases. While I don’t see that trend changing, I would hope that fans of the more symphonic power metal type music would take the time to discover them. CARDINAL is a very different release for Eden’s Curse; easily the most metal release of their decade long career, and probably the best written material they have ever done. They are one of the tightest bands on the circuit today, and that shows on CARDINAL. Songs like “Sell Your Soul” or “Find My Way” prove the cohesion these guys have developed musically as both songwriters and performers.

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Mad Margritt - LOVE, HATE AND DECEPTION

Image: Mad Margritt, Love Hate and Deception

Mad Margritt
LOVE, HATE AND DECEPTION

Mad Margritt is one of those bands that’s been slugging away in the trenches for a long time, but just never has been able to break through. Sure, their style has always been steeped in the 80s hard rock/hair metal genre, but there’s been a ton of Swedish bands that haven’t been as good that have still gotten more attention. So be it, I guess. With LOVE, HATE AND DECEPTION, Eddie Smith and company have heavied up their sound significantly and created the best release of their career. It’s old school, but there’s something to be said for the sound of talented guitar players just tearing up a solo in the middle of a song. While I’d still love to hear them work with a studio engineer that captures a huge arena rock sound, there’s no denying the addictive fun of rockin’ numbers like “The One You Love To Hate” or “Never Enough”. This music is strong.

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