Saturday, December 7, 2013

This Ain't The Summer of Love

Hell – The Age of Nefarious

Nuclear Blast Records – 2013

Muthas, we’re back with a tasty treat of diabolical deliciousness straight outta Hell!  Well actually, it’s a new, four track, mini-LP from the band Hell. The Age of Nefarious features one new track from their second full length Curse & Chapter, and three live tracks from the Bloodstock 2013 festival. 

The new cut “The Age of Nefarious” blasts your ears with rifftacular guitars, theatrical vocals and occult lyrics.  Once again, Hell sounds like a combination of NWOBHM and Mercyful Fate – so no radical changes from 2011’s Human Remains.  The song title and chorus are a spoof on The 5th Dimension’s “Age of Aquarius,” and lyrically, it skewers the hypocrisy of Christianity.  It’s an excellent track and a great preview of Curse & Chapter.  Check it out below:

The other three songs are all live from Bloodstock 2013 – “On Earth As It Is In Hell,” “Blasphemy And The Master,” and “The Oppressors.” These live cuts sound superb and are a good indicator that Hell delivers in a live setting with no problems. “The Oppressors” kicks much ass in particular and will cause you to revisit Human Remains.  

The Age of Nefarious is offered as a digital download from the usual suspects as well as a 10” mini-LP in various colors. The cool thing about the vinyl is that the A-side is 45 rpm, and the B-side, with the live songs, is in 33 rpm!  Now that’s some vinyl weirdness for ya.

The Bottom Line: Hell has returned with a ripping lead-off single that will please fans of the NWOBHM, Mercyful Fate and music that doesn’t suck.  Get it and buy Curse & Chapter ASAP.  Your immortal soul will thank you.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pounding Steel?

U.D.O. – Steelhammer

AFM Records -2013

Muthas, the Teutonic Titan Udo is back with an album of original material following last year’s Live In Sofia and the compilation of rare tracks, Celebrator.  There have been some changes in the lineup with the exit of guitarists Stefan Kaufmann and Igor Gianola.  Kaufmann’s leaving is most surprising considering that he had been with the band for years, and was in Accept with Udo.  Kaufmann was also the producer for the last few U.D.O. albums, and his leaving was potentially disastrous.  So how did Steelhammer turn out?  Did U.D.O. shit the bed or did they rise to the challenge presented by the re-energized Accept?   

Fortunately, the answer is mostly positive.  When Stefan Kaufmann left, he took that horribly shitty and sterile guitar sound with him.  I doubt the guitars on Dominator and Rev-Raptor were ever even plugged into an amp.  The production on Steelhammer is miles better than what Kaufmann had been offering up.  The songs also exhibit a new sense of urgency that seemed to be missing from the last couple of albums. Udo the man, and U.D.O. the band, are nothing if not prolific, and the quality of their output may suffer from their high rate of production.  The couple of years between albums in this case has helped the band make most of these songs razor sharp.

Right off the bat, it’s clear that U.D.O. has renewed passion and vigor, because the first two tracks are good and the third track, “Metal Machine” is excellent.  Check out the video for it below:

Unfortunately, the flow of the album screeches to a halt during the next three tracks.  “Basta Ya” is fine musically, but the song is in Spanish, and frankly, I don’t want to listen to a non-English track.  Next up is the horrific ballad “Heavy Rain.” Udo needs to stop it with these ballads as they just don’t suit his voice at all.  No thanks. Then comes “Devil’s Bite” which has incredibly annoying, cheap-ass sounding keyboard flourishes. We are talking 1982 Casio keyboard here, and that shit is not acceptable. Ever. 

The rest of the album (except for the last track) is vicious, pounding Metal that rips faces off.  Check out “Death Ride,” “Never Cross My Way,” and “Take My Medicine.”  If Udo wants to slow things down he should do more cuts like the mid-paced “Love Becomes A Lie” and not that “Heavy Rain” turd.  Oddly, the last song, “Book of Faith” has a bizarre, almost jazzy intro and should have been cut from the album as it's kind of a clunker.  

The only other criticism is that the album is simply too long at fourteen tracks, and would have benefited from some judicious pruning.  Chop out “Basta Ya,” “Heavy Rain,” “Devil’s Bite,” and “Book of Faith” and put them on one of those EPs that AFM is so fond of churning out, and the resulting album would have been ten tight tracks of excellence. 

The album cover is killer, and very evocative of the music that lurks within its steely confines. Album art and design is sadly neglected in the digital age, but it's still important.  More artists should get their shit together and offer up great artwork like that on Steelhammer. Thankfully, that stupid clown/juggalo/whateverthefuck mascot that started with Mastercutor is history. Fuck that guy.


The Bottom Line:  U.D.O. have released their best album since 1999s Holy, with great production and many cuts of anthemic, crushing steel.  It’s great to see them finally answer the challenge presented by the last couple of Accept albums.  Buy it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Metal Is On The Rise!

Night Demon – Night Demon

Independent Release – 2012

Muthas, every once in a great while, a new band blasts onto the scene from seemingly nowhere and vaults to the head of the pack. Such is the case with Night Demon and their eponymous debut EP. This all-killer, no-filler thirteen minutes and fifty-five seconds of pure steel, is the best EP we’ve heard in ages. It’s not just The Metal Blog of Metal that thinks this, because Night Demon has already been invited to play the Keep It True festival! They have only released four songs in their entire career, and they are already playing KIT! 

Also, Night Demon is only a three piece band with Jarvis Leatherby on vox/bass, Brent Woodward on guitar and John Crerar on drums. Woodward rips it up on the guitar, Crerar is pounding away like Thunderstick and Jarvis sounds like Sean Harris. Fucking amazing power trio!

So what does this EP sound like? Quite simply, it sounds like the best NWOBHM record that you’ve never heard. Upon hearing this gem, you would swear that this was released in 1980 on Neat Records, and not an independent release in 2012 by a band from Ventura, California. Imagine Diamond Head, Grim Reaper, and D’ianno-era Maiden all mixed together and you can get an idea of the awesomeness. 

The EP kicks off with the blasting rip-ride of “Night Demon” where the band declares that they are coming to destroy your town with the power of Metal. Yes, please. “The Chalice” is a mid-paced, epic track with a tasty, grinding guitar tone. “Ancient Evil” is a galloping cut that recalls the excellence of  Grim Reaper and features lyrics about Cthulhu.  Hell yes!  “The Ritual” closes out the EP with searing guitar riffs, pummeling drums and more superb vocals from Leatherby. 

The band actually has a video for “Night Demon” on YouTube. Check it out below:


The Bottom Line: This EP kicks ass, and you should buy it. Right now you can download it from Night Demon’s website:  If you need a physical release, the good folks at Shadow Kingdom Records are putting out the EP on CD with remastered sound on 08/06/2013.  Also, the EP is being released on vinyl by Reinig Records and cassette(!) by 7th Pact Records. What you should do right now is buy the $5 download as well as a $12 shirt, so the band can continue producing top notch Metal. Don’t be a shitheel.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Anthems To The Mosher At Dusk

Anthrax – Anthems

 Megaforce Records – 2013

Muthas, Anthrax has cranked out a ton of covers in their career, and this year they have released an eight track EP - Anthems - that features six covers of songs from the 70s.  The band offers up songs from Rush, Boston, AC/DC, Journey, Cheap Trick, and Thin Lizzy. The EP also features two versions of the song “Crawl” from Worship Music.  So how does all this sound?  Read on dear reader and we’ll tell you.

First off, the inclusion of not one, but two versions of “Crawl” is ridiculous.  This song was one of the weaker tracks on Worship Music, and the last thing we need is a shitty sounding remix of a mediocre song.  What a waste.  Anthrax should have put two new cuts on this EP to whet the appetite for the next studio album.  Second, do we really need both versions of “Crawl” back to back on the album?  WTF? Oh well, at least they are tracks 7 and 8, which makes it easy to skip these turds.

When it comes to cover songs, bands have a choice: make the song their own, or play it exactly as the original artist did.  Anthrax chose the latter rather than the former and Anthems is a bit disappointing because of it.  Almost all of the covers are exact, note-for-note reproductions of the originals with nary a variation.  It would have been nice to hear a more expansive take on each song by the band. On a more positive note, Joey manfully uses the full scope of his great range to easily mimic everyone from Geddy Lee to Bon Scott to Phil Lynott. 

The highlight of the EP is Journey’s “Keep On Runnin’” which is a bit heavier than the original and is much better as a result.  As the liner notes mention, Joey auditioned for Anthrax by singing Journey songs and he effortlessly pulls off Steve Perry’s vocals.  Check it out below:

Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” is also very well done and a favorite here at The Metal Blog of Metal. Incidentally, we loved Anthrax’s earlier cover of Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song” from when John Bush was in the band.  Such a great cover!   

One place where this release does excel is in the packaging.  Each CD is a digipak wrapped in a slipcase.  Each slipcase had a die-cut pentathrax on it that shows a bit of the artwork underneath.  Upon pulling the digipak out of the slipcase, one of six different covers is displayed – one for each different cover song.  That is very cool and will be sure to drive OCD fans crazy as they try to collect each cover variant.  Good job boys!


The Bottom Line:  This is a decent little EP with sweet packaging that has definite collector appeal.  It’s not essential by any means, but if you like cover songs, run out and get it.  Also catch the band on the Metal Alliance Tour as they are throwing a couple of these songs into their set.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

10 Inches of Doom!

Orchid – Wizard of War

Nuclear Blast Records – 2013

Muthas, the band that can do no wrong is back with a sweet 10” vinyl EP that features their new song, “Wizard of War.” This is a pre-release track from Orchid’s greatly anticipated second LP, The Mouths of Madness.  So, did Orchid shit the bed and succumb to pressure from their new label and change their sound?  Of course not!

The EP contains three tracks of doomy perfection straight out of some dreary, mist-shrouded graveyard.  Starting things off is the ripping title track, which cranks the tempo up and conjures images of interstellar destruction, madness and tyranny.  In other words, the kids can dance to it!  Uh, maybe not, but they certainly bang their heads to it. Check it out:

The second cut finds the band stretching themselves a bit and incorporating some early Alice Cooper sounds on the creepy “Demon’s Eyes.”  It’s a kickass mid-paced tune that is stuffed full of hooks and a memorable chorus.  It was previously released on the Grave Command: All Hallowed Hymns compilation from Unseen Forces last year, but this is the first widely available release of the song.  Take a listen:

The final track was previously released on the Capricorn album “Albatross.”  It’s a somber, spacey song that recalls “Planet Caravan.”  One huge difference between this and “Caravan” is the lyrical content.  “Planet Caravan” was about floating around the cosmos making love to your girl, but “Albatross” is about fleeing the Earth and settling Mars, only to have the Sun snuffed out by the dopes left on Earth. Bastards!  The Mars relocation plan was a dismal failure, but this song is excellent. 

The Bottom Line:  Orchid have once again offered up a killer EP to placate the faithful until April 26th when The Mouths of Madness kicks the Metal world straight in its ass.  If vinyl is your thing, get out there and buy one.  If you like downloads and have no soul, you can download the title track from the usual suspects.  If you like CDs, you are shit out of luck.  Sorry man.

As always, MAKE MINE METAL!   

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Dirty Dozen

The Top 12 Metal Albums of 2012
 (and some other stuff)

Muthas, 2012 was a great year in Metal, and we here at The Metal Blog Of Metal have picked the twelve best albums of the year.  We have also picked the best reissues of the year, the best concert of the year, the best live albums of the year, and the worst releases of the year.  Read on!

The Twelve Best Albums of 2012

2012 proved to be a very good year for Metal and we got great releases from across the various genres.  We won’t number these this year, but encourage you to check out all the skullcrushers below.  These twelve dominated the turntables, CD players and MP3 players at The Metal Blog Of Metal. 

The Sword -  Apocryphon (Razor & Tie)

Back with more 70s influenced awesomeness, The Sword cranked out the excellent Apocryphon.  It’s another superb entry into their growing discography and features the band really exploring the power of the mid-paced song.  Every track is superb and we have listened to this album countless times.  Get it.

Gypsyhawk – Revelry & Resilience (Metal Blade)

Another band that channels all that was great about 70s Metal, Gypsyhawk kills it Thin Lizzy style with this awesome disc.  Check out the snaking and twisting guitar melodies, as well as the sweet fantasy based lyrics.  These guys are doing it right.

Orchid – Heretic (Nuclear Blast)

This band can do no wrong.  Period.  Sure, it’s only a 4 song EP, but damn, do they know how to craft witchy, hooky and crushing Doom Metal.  We love this band and eagerly await their next LP.


Testament – Dark Roots of Earth (Nuclear Blast)

Thrash legends Testament really know how to write wicked good songs that are both melodic and heavy as hell.  There’s a reason why they were able to soldier on when so many other lesser Thrash bands shit the bed in the 90s.  Dark Roots of Earth is an excellent platter that surpasses their previous album and is a fine addition to their legacy (Get it? See what I did there?  Ah, forget it.)

Accept – Stalingrad (Nuclear Blast)

Damn fine follow-up to Blood of the Nations, which erases any doubts about the new Accept lineup (not that there should have been any doubts.) Stalingrad kicks ass as only Wolf and the boys know how, with anthemic, rifftacular, melodic Metal.  Poor Udo, his latest album, Rev-Raptor, really sounds like complete shit next to this. 

3 Inches of Blood – Long Live Heavy Metal (Century Media)

Canadian crushers 3IOB came roaring into 2012 with a killer album that celebrated all that is great about Heavy Metal.  Long Live Heavy Metal featured tracks reminiscent of Priest, Dio, Rainbow and other legends of the genre, as well as 3IOB’s own brand of shredding Metal.  Check out the infectious “4000 Torches,” “Metal Woman,” “Leather Lord” and “Look Out” for a taste of their steely mastery.  Posers leave the hall!

Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth (Interscope)

This was easily the biggest surprise of the year.  We expected this album to be a crapfest of old man rock.  You know, a mid-paced collection of boring garbage that some out-of-touch 50 year-old would pen in hopes of staying relevant.  The first single, “Tattoo,” did little to change our opinion because that song is complete shit.  Why in the hell was that chosen as the lead single?  Thankfully, the rest of the songs are absolutely primo DLR-era Van Halen.  The swaggering, balls-out hard rock that everybody wanted them to make was finally delivered!  Sure, Dave’s voice is a bit limited by age and Michael Anthony’s harmonies are sorely missed, but the songs are damn good.  Ed had the good sense to go back to all of his old demos and pull out some 70s and 80s cuts and flesh them out.  Well done gents, now get back out on tour.

Cauldron – Tomorrow’s Lost (Earache Records)

Canuckistani Metal maniacs, Cauldron, forged another LP that celebrates the glory of mid-80s Heavy Metal.  It’s great that there is a band out there that eagerly embraces the more commercial side of classic Metal.  Jay Decay and Ian Chains know how to write a memorable and heavy mid-paced tune that would fit beautifully on Metal Massacre’s I-IX.  Buy the LP, get their patch and sew it on your vest. We did!

Grand Magus – The Hunt (Nuclear Blast)

Do you like Vikings and Metal?  You do?  Well go buy this album immediately because Grand Magus loves both more than you do and are masters of their craft to boot.  The Hunt features nothing but songs about Vikings, wolves, Odin, Thor, ravens, longships, etc…  You’ll want to grab a longsword and run out to the nearest monastery for some plundering!  Think of them as the traditional Metal brother of Amon Amarth and you’ll get the right idea.  The band has completely moved away from Doom Metal and focuses entirely on Scandinavian Glory Metal a la Heavy Load, Overdrive or Torch.  Join them in the mead hall, won’t you?  To Valhalla!

Ugly Kid Joe – Stairway To Hell (UKJ Records)

Yes, that’s right, Ugly Kid Joe actually made it into the best albums of 2012 with this awesome EP of new material.  UKJ have managed to record six cuts of snarling, venomous hard rock that has Whitfield Crane sounding like Bon Scott.  Damn it’s good.  Check out “Devil’s Paradise” or “You Make Me Sick” for a taste of hate, or get the funk out with “I’m Alright.”  It’s good to have these guys back and we hope they crank out a full length LP soon.

Overkill – The Electric Age (Nuclear Blast)

New Jersey’s favorite bangers unleash another superb album that harkens back to their more groove oriented late 90s albums.  It’s a bit more From The Underground and Below and a bit less IronboundOverkill never fail to deliver the goods and they do it once again.  Fuck the Big Four, Overkill has been defending the faith while those assholes meandered aimlessly from one mediocre album to the next.  Hello from the gutter! 

Icarus Witch – Rise (Cleopatra Records)

Want a more modern sounding album stuffed full of anthem after anthem?  Well, then Rise is exactly what you are looking for.  The album was a real shocker following the tired-sounding Draw Down The Moon and the departure of former vocalist Matthew Bizilia.  All signs pointed to Icarus Witch disappearing into obscurity, but instead they roared back to life with this LP of peppy and hooky melodic Metal.  New singer Christopher Shaner fits the new style perfectly and adds much needed energy to the songs. Hopefully Icarus Witch will continue rocking for years to come!

The Best Reissues

DioHoly Diver & The Last In Line (Audio Fidelity Reissues)

If you want to hear how remasters should be done, check out these two releases from the sonic wizards at Audio Fidelity.  We have all heard these albums a million times before, but these remasters uncover all sorts of sounds that were previously buried in lesser versions of this album.  Superb!

Dio – Holy Diver, The Last In Line & Sacred Heart  (Deluxe Editions from Universal Music)

More Dio?  Yep.  These UK Imports have nice mastering and tons of bonus tracks.  Essentially, you get every single and B-side released by Dio during this period, as well as the entire Intermission EP. They may be expensive imports but the value is incredible for what you get.  Buy!

Dammaj – Mutiny (Skol Records)

It’s awesome!  We reviewed it here and we still urge you to buy this album of rock-solid, blistering, U.S. Power Metal.  This is Heavy Metal at its very best.  Hailz!

Desolation Angels – Desolation Angels (Buried By Time and Dust)

Another very late NWOBHM album that got lost in the Thrash deluge.  Thankfully, the Metal archivists at Buried By Time and Dust records have resurrected this gem in both vinyl and CD formats.  They have also included the Valhalla/Boedicea single as a bonus in both formats!  We will review this in depth coming up, but get out there and buy it because supplies are limited.   

Witch Cross Fit For Fight (Hells Headbangers)

It’s about damn time that this legendary 1984 album from the not-so-melancholy Danes of Witch Cross got reissued!  Hells Headbangers serve up Fit For Fight on CD, vinyl and, believe it or not, on cassette, with good remastering and lyrics for the whole shebang.  We’ll review this album in the near future, but get out there and buy it. 

The Best Live Albums

Pickings were a bit slim this year so we only picked these two:

Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder – Live Eagles Over Wacken (UDR)

Bangers, gorge on this metal feast from the venerable Saxon!  This is an essential release because it includes a DVD that features 31 tracks from three different years at the massive Wacken Open Air festival.  The band sounds great as they crush and destroy the huge crowds of Metalheads.  Also included are two bonus CDs recorded at a Glasgow show in 2011, which feature many new songs from their latest studio effort, Call To Arms.  It’s well worth the coin.

Vicious Rumors – Live You to Death (SPV)

Keeping up their momentum from last year’s Razorback Killers, Vicious Rumors offers up this single disc live show that was recorded on their 2011 European tour.  The album features nine live cuts, including two songs from Razorback Killers alongside other classics such as “Digital Dictator,” “Down To The Temple,” “Abandoned” and “Don’t Wait For Me.”  The band is tight and Brian Allen does a commendable job on both the new and old material.  The album also includes two new studio tracks: a cover of Black Sabbath’s “The Sign of the Southern Cross” and Judas Priest’s ”Running Wild.”  Pick this up if you are a VR fan or if you like music that’s not terrible shit.

Best Live Show

Accept – The Newport Music Hall Columbus, Ohio 9/14/2012

The Teutonic Terrors absolutely killed it on a beautiful Friday night in Ohio and blew the roof off the place with pure Metallic fury!  Wolf Hoffman appeared to be having the time of his life as he blasted out riff after riff of molten steel.  Mark Tornillo was in fine form and sounded great.  Udo who?  Poor old Kreator was a mere afterthought when Accept left the stage.  The only complaint was they still didn’t play ”Midnight Mover.”  Damn it!  Even so, it was a great night of Metal in the Buckeye State!  Catch them live if you can.

Worst Shit Foisted on Metaldom in 2012

Metallica – Beyond Magnetic (Warner Brothers Records)

We reviewed it here and it still sucks ass.  Sometimes talent just dries up like an old turd left in the sun.  

Chris Holmes They All Lie And Cheat

Holy shit!  This makes Beyond Magnetic sound like a choir of angels.  What the fuck is going on here?  Holmes looks and acts like the alcoholic, toothless bum that he was always destined to be (see here.) Who is the random crackwhore swearing in the video?  Is this the worst lip-synching since Milli Vanilli? Why was this made?  Baffling.

Have a great 2013 and may your year be Metal!