Sunday, December 18, 2011

God Rest Ye Merry Metalheads

Holy Grail – Season’s Bleedings

Prosthetic Records - 2011

Bangers, the Holidays are upon us and Holy Grail has a cool little gift for all you good (or more likely, bad) Metalheads. Season’s Bleedings is a 7” vinyl EP containing two cover songs - “No Presents For Christmas” (originally by King Diamond) and “Kill The King” (originally by Rainbow). Both tracks are superb, with James Paul Luna effortlessly pulling off vocals from both King Diamond and Ronnie James Dio. The band sounds electrifying, with Eli Santana and Alex Lee ripping it up on guitar and Blake Mount and Tyler Meahl holding down the bottom end.

In addition to the 7” vinyl release, Season’s Bleedings is also available as a four track digital download. The two additional tracks are also covers – Judas Priest’s “Exciter” and Accept’s “Fast As A Shark.” Both of these songs were previously available only on the CD version of the Improper Burial EP. Again, the band does a fantastic job on both with the Priest cover being particularly crushing.

The band have produced a short promo sampler for the EP which you can check out below:


The Bottom Line: Season’s Bleedings is a great little collector’s item from Holy Grail, and it would really liven up the Christmas festivities with the family. You need to hurry up if you want to get the vinyl version because it’s strictly limited to only 250 red and 250 green copies worldwide. How festive! The Metal Blog Of Metal already has one of each in the vaults.


Widow's Peak

Widow – Life’s Blood

Listen up Muthas! The year 2011 will certainly be remembered as one of the strongest years for Metal. There have been many excellent releases, especially in the genre of traditional Metal. One such release is the newest album from North Carolina’s Widow. Their latest disc, Life’s Blood, is loaded to the gills with superbly crafted songs. Life’s Blood is clearly the band’s best output to date and this is due, in no small part, to the elimination of the multiple vocal styles that they employed on prior albums.
Widow had previously used three different vocalists, including a female singer, and a harsher, almost Black Metal vocalist on choruses. This really didn’t meld that well with the traditional Metal on their albums and was the one factor that held them back from having truly great releases. Thankfully, they have eschewed the harsh vocals on the current album, with John E. Wooten IV singing in a clean, mid-range style throughout. The band is also down to a three piece, instead of a 37 piece with 17 different vocalists.
Life’s Blood is composed of nothing but fantastic cuts with not one crap song to be found anywhere. This is a varied album that features fast tracks like “Lady Twilight,” “Take Hold Of The Night,” and “I Scream For The Ice Queen,” as well as mid-paced songs like “In Dreams” and even the ballad, “Another Fallen Angel.” Widow clearly understand that it’s perfectly acceptable and even desirable to vary the pace of the songs on a Metal album. They also grasp that it’s paramount to have memorable songs loaded up with hooks to hold the listener’s attention. Not once did any of these tracks just blend together into a forgettable lump as so often happens with many other albums.
Widow have produced a promo trailer for the record and it’s a sampler of the excellent Metal contained in Life’s Blood. Check it out below:
The Bottom Line: Life’s Blood is one of the best albums of 2011 and certainly the best of Widow’s career. The songs are perfectly executed and chock full of tasty riffs and memorable, anthemic lyrics. The Metal Blog Of Metal gives this album its highest recommendation. Run out and snap this up Hellions, because you will not be disappointed.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Disturbing The Priest

Reverend - Reverend

Caroline Records 1989

Bangers: back in June, The Metal Blog of Metal reviewed Heretic’s 1988 album Breaking Point, and in that review we pointed out that Heretic, Metal Church, and Reverend were all tied together by common personnel. When David Wayne left Metal Church, his replacement was Mike Howe from Heretic. Wayne decided to form his own band, and recruited three members of Heretic! In essence, Metal Church and Heretic swapped lead singers, which has to be a first in the world of Metal.

Reverend kicked off their recording career in 1989 with the superb Reverend EP. The EP consists of four tracks of excellent power-thrash with David Wayne’s gritty, powerful vocals and riffs a-plenty. This is primo, crunchy Metal of the highest order. We here at The Metal Blog Of Metal consider this EP to be the best release of Reverend’s career.

The EP roars to life with “Power of Persuasion” which chugs along like a Sherman tank with Lemmy at the wheel. Wayne’s vocals are fantastic as he hits plenty of high notes effortlessly. Lyrically, the song explores the corruption of politicians. Chris Goss of Masters of Reality appears on the song but the liner notes don’t say what he did on the track. “Dimensional Confusion” grinds along at mid-pace with staccato riffs and more of Wayne’s commanding vocals. The quirky, stop-start structure of this cut is very cool and the guitar solo is superb.

The third track, “Wretched Excess,” is a molten slab of power-thrash, featuring an absolutely ripping solo. This song is the thrashiest of the four and is very reminiscent of something that Overkill would have cranked out in the 90s. The final cut is “The Ritual” - it’s the best song on the EP, and thus is the best song that Reverend ever put out. It's five minutes and 41 seconds of Metal perfection that even the mighty Metal Church had difficulty achieving. Truly this is an epic track with Wayne really stretching his vocals when he sings “there’s nothing left sacred.” Amazing. Check it out below:

Unfortunately, Caroline Records has never reissued this disc and it’s very hard to locate. In fact, this EP is the most expensive item in The Metal Blog Of Metal's vaults with a per track cost of $12.50! However, the EP is now available for download on iTunes for a mere $3.96, which is clearly preferable to $50.


The Bottom Line: If you like Heretic and Metal Church, you will love the Reverend EP, so track it down or download it. You won’t be disappointed.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Delivering The Goods

Judas Priest – Single Cuts Box Set, The Chosen Few, Single Cuts

Metallians, no one can dispute that Judas Priest is the living embodiment of HEAVY METAL. They forged the template that legions of bands have followed – a charismatic front man with incredible vocal range; screaming twin lead guitars; thundering bass player; crushing drummer - with all members decked out in studs and leather. Priest has been gracing the grateful Metal world with pure steel all the way back to 1969. The band is as old, if not older, than the genre of Metal itself and has been releasing metal albums since their 1974 debut Rocka Rolla.

One would think that with a 40+ year history, the band would have a plethora of unreleased material including demos, b-sides and bonus tracks, but actually they have very little left over. Judas Priest is renowned for being very efficient in the studio; most tracks get used on the album. In fact, most of the band's unreleased material has its roots in the Turbo recording sessions when the initial plan was to release a double album entitled Twin Turbo. This was scrapped and most of the remaining tracks were re-worked for the follow-up album Ram It Down. The vaults were swept clean for the 2001 remasters, with the remaining unreleased tracks appearing as bonus cuts.

Contrast this situation with Iron Maiden, who have so many b-sides that they actually released a double disc set of b-sides, and even that wasn’t complete! Judas Priest is The Metal Blog Of Metal's favorite band, and most, if not all their rarities are in our vaults. The faithful are in luck because in 2011, the band has churned out 3 new releases -two are mostly worthless and one is a very cool collector’s piece.

When The Metal Blog Of Metal first heard that The Chosen Few was coming out, we assumed it was a collection of cover tunes by Metal luminaries such as Alice Cooper, James Hetfield, Lemmy, Accept and Ozzy. That would have been incredible! Who wouldn’t want to hear David Coverdale doing a version of “The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)?” Unfortunately, The Chosen Few is merely another greatest hits collection with each track chosen by one or more musicians. Yawn. The commentary is very brief and mostly uninteresting. Also, it’s absolutely unacceptable to have that shithead Jonathan Davis of Korn on any release involving the mighty Priest. He is a world-class douchebag who refused to appear on a magazine cover with Bruce Dickinson because he didn’t want to be associated with “old” Metal. He’s not even worthy to be mentioned in the same paragraph as Bruce. So, in short, fuck you Jonathan Davis. The Chosen Few is as non-essential as a release can get.

Up next we have Single Cuts (The Complete Columbia UK A Sides) which is a single disc of exactly what it says – the UK A Sides. It’s really a sampler for the next release, and as a result it’s essentially another greatest hits collection. It does feature some cuts not normally seen on Priest collections such as “Evening Star,” “Take On The World,” and “(Take These) Chains,” but there’s really no reason to buy this disc, as it has nothing on it you haven’t heard before.

Unlike the other two releases, the Single Cuts Box Set is an excellent collection for the Judas Priest afficionado. It consists of 20 CDs which replicate every single that was released on CBS/Columbia in the United Kingdom. Each disc is a CD replica of the original vinyl single. The original A-side labels are reproduced on the CD itself, which are black and engraved with grooves to look like vinyl. Check out the photos above and you’ll see what they look like. All 20 discs are housed in a slip-top box, each one of which is numbered. The Metal Blog Of Metal has number 157, but the set does not mention how many have been produced and the promotional materials only say that the set is “limited.”

The B-sides are included as well and some of them are quite interesting. Of note is the B-side to “(Take These) Chains” which is the “Judas Priest Audio File (Biography).” This is a relic of the pre-internet age as it consists of about 8 minutes of audio clips from all the Priest albums up to that point, with a narrator introducing each track. It’s actually really cool to hear what the label selected as representative of the band’s catalog.

It’s also worth noting that there were no singles released at all for Ram It Down. The Metal Blog Of Metal remembers “Johnny B. Goode” being released as a video, but that was to coincide with the long forgotten movie - Johnny B Good. Compare this to Painkiller, from which three singles were issued, including the “Nightcrawler” single that came with a green rubber worm!

The set also includes a thick booklet with commentary by Geoff Barton, and a ton of photos and detailed liner notes for each single. The Metal Blog Of Metal's set also came with six Judas Priest magnets as a bit of compensation for the release date being pushed back three times. Unfortunately, we are sure most readers will be completely unaware of this box set's release, as there has been virtually zero promotion for it. It’s only available on Priest’s website for $99.


The Bottom Line: If you are a Judas Priest collector, you may want to pick up all three of these releases. Average Metal fans will have little reason to pick up The Chosen Few and Single Cuts. The limited edition Single Cuts Box Set, however, is a nice collector’s piece with slick presentation, and well worth picking up.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tales From The Crypt

Black Sabbath - Live In Paris 1970

Check out this live show in HD from Paris way back in 1970. In fact, this was filmed a scant two months after Paranoid was released. The quality is excellent and the band is one fire here. Watch this and witness the originators of Heavy Metal laying it down at the beginning of the genre.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fat Beats

XL Rose

Welcome to the all you can eat buffet is more like it. Call Slash, Duff and Izzy and get back on the cocaine buddy. WTF is the yellow coat about - are you the Gorton's Fisherman?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Flying High Again

White Wizzard - Flying Tigers

Earache Records 2011

Bangers, one of the leaders of the NWOTHM is back with their second full length release and the question is did they succumb to the dreaded sophomore album slump or did they rise to the occasion. The Metal Blog of Metal is happy to report that White Wizzard’s new album Flying Tigers is even better than their superb first album Over The Top. The band has kept their core sound intact but has added some progressive elements to make one of the best albums of 2011.

Once again Jon Leon has written all the songs and plays all the guitars and bass on the album. Wyatt “Screaming Demon” Anderson is still on vocals and Giovanni Durst is back on drums. It should be noted that Anderson does not tour with the band and as a result, Mikey Gremio (formerly of Cellador) is the touring vocalist. I had the good fortune to see White Wizzard on tour this summer and Gremio does a great job with both the James Paul Luna tracks as well as the Wyatt Anderson material. He also works the crowd well and goes to great lengths to get the audience involved in the show. The picture belows shows yours truly (the bearded fellow with the super-awesome Acccept shirt) with the touring lineup of White Wizzard.

The new album, Flying Tigers, is composed of two parts with the first six tracks being thematically unrelated and the last six tracks are tied together by the same concept. Prior to the release of Flying Tigers, Jon Leon had mentioned in interviews that he was listening to a lot of Rush and my guess is he wanted to emulate 2112’s suite of seven songs. I admit that I had trepidation about the concept tracks before I heard them because I can’t stand concept albums. I find them to be turgid affairs full of crap tracks and end up being masturbatory wastes of time. Luckily White Wizzard knows both Metal and how to craft a killer album that maintains the listener’s interest.

The album kicks into gear with “Fight To The Death” which is a fast burner of a track with a message or fighting for what you believe in and never giving up. Next up is “West L.A. Nights” which is an ode to rocking in the City of Angels and hanging out at the Rainbow Bar and Grill. “Starchild” is not about Paul Stanley but is the first single from the album and it’s a ballad. Now don’t let this worry you as it’s a ballad in the tradition of Iron Maiden’s “Children Of The Damned” or Judas Priest’s “Beyond The Realms Of Death.” I really dig this song as it starts out slowly but builds to a fantastic climax by its end. I salute White Wizzard for having the balls to release a ballad as their first single. Check it out for yourself below:

The title track is a speedy number about the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force who fought against the Imperial Japanese in 1941-1942. “Night Train To Tokyo” is about a Japanese lady and is chock full of superb bass work and hooks galore. The non-concept portion of the album wraps up with “Night Stalker” which is an excellent track that would have been right at home on Killers with its cranking delivery.

The next six tracks are all linked conceptually with lyrics that involve Atlantis, ancient aliens, demons, The New World Order, warfare and a star man’s son. What’s it all about? I have no idea really as my promo copy has no lyrics but frankly, it doesn’t matter as each track is excellent and could stand on it’s own. That is high praise for concept albums which usually have tons of filler tracks as transitions in the storyline. White Wizzard have successfully crafted a concept suite that holds the listeners attention the entire time. My favorite cut off of the last album was the epic “Iron Goddess of Vengeance” and these six tracks remind of that song writ large.

Iron Maiden should listen to Flying Tigers for tips on how to craft another progressive album that is not a total snooze-fest (cough – The Final Frontier – cough.) We are served riff after tasty riff with varied tempos, shredding solos, a thundering bass and killer vocals. I can’t imagine that this is a Metal fan on earth that won’t like this album as it is pure metallic excellence with not one filler track. I never reach for the skip button in the car which is a real test of an album for me. It flows well with a superb mixture of the progressive and the aggressive.


The Bottom Line: Flying Tigers is an amazing slab of pure steel and is another superb release from White Wizzard. I encourage everyone to go out and buy this release when it hits the racks in the United States and if you are in Europe get it now because it’s already out. Jon Leon and crew once again have earned our support so back these defenders of the faith with your hard earned coin.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Spirit of ‘71

Orchid – Through The Devils Doorway

Church Within Records – 2009

Muthas, I don’t know how I missed this news but apparently a time machine was invented in San Francisco in 2009 by the band Orchid. Clearly these guys took a trip to 1971 and snuck into Island Studies in London while Black Sabbath was recording Master of Reality. Having soaked up the all the crushing doom that they could, the band hopped back in the time machine and headed back to 2009. Using all that they had learned on their trip through time, Orchid crafted the Through The Devils Doorway EP.

Maybe that’s not exactly what happened, but I'm having difficulty figuring out how Orchid managed to record 4 songs that perfectly capture the essence of Black Sabbath circa 1971. The guitar, bass, drums and vocals are all superb and the songs themselves are extremely catchy. The EP roars to life with “Into The Sun” which has an intro that recalls “Symptom Of The Universe” with its pummeling riffs. “Eastern Woman” is up next and it’s one of the hookiest songs I have heard all year. It will burrow into your brain and live there for days on end. It’s a totally badass jam of 70’s guitar tone heaven. Check it out below:

“Son Of Misery” is the next cut and it sails by quickly as it’s only 2:14 minutes in length. I really wanted this song to crank for about 8 minutes but alas, that was not to be. It’s a mellower tune a la “Planet Caravan” but it’s still two minutes of perfection. Lastly, Orchid serves up “No One Makes A Sound” which is an amazing track that obliterates lesser quality metal with its grinding riffs and hooks. This is doom metal of the highest quality and execution. These guys are talented as all hell.

Unfortunately it is somewhat difficult to obtain this EP at an affordable price. Luckily for us, the good folks at All That Is Heavy stock it for $10.99 and you can also get it from iTunes for a mere $3.96. Also, Orchid have released the LP Capricorn this year and it’s more of the same superb doomy goodness. The Metal Blog Of Metal will review the LP at a later date.


The Bottom Line: If you are a fan of Black Sabbath, Trouble, Witchfinder General, Candlemass and doom metal in general you must buy this EP. This band deserves your support for gracing the Metal world with these 4 amazing cuts.