Sunday, January 11, 2015

Heavy Metal Heat

Night Demon – Curse Of The Damned

Century Media Records – 2015

Muthas, how many times have you loved a band’s first release, particularly an EP, only to have their subsequent full length follow-up completely suck?  You know the story - a big label gets ahold of the band and grinds all the sharp edges off their previously gritty sound, or the band doesn’t have much good material beyond what they put on the EP.  That brings us to the first full length LP by Night Demon and this time nobody’s going to disappointed!  Curse Of The Damned kicks all sorts of ass and picks right up where the EP left off!  No letdown here! No sir, no way!

If you’re not familiar with Night Demon just imagine the best NWOBHM band playing melodic, hooky Metal with loads of conviction and sincerity.  This isn’t some cynical ploy by some corporation to make a few bucks based on the resurgence of Traditional Metal.  Rather, it’s the product of a band completely dedicated to the DIY ethos of the NWOBHM.  These guys mean it and live it like few bands do anymore.  They are tireless roaddogs and seem willing to play anywhere, anytime no matter how big or small the crowds are.  From European festivals to basement parties in an old house, these guys are out there laying it down.  That’s as Metal as it gets!  But how's the damn LP sound you ask?  Well read on my friend.

The album is crammed full of killer speedballs like “Screams In The Night,” "Run For Your Life," and “Full Speed Ahead,” but also features a couple of longer songs such as “The Howling Man” and “Save Me Now.”  Both of those tracks are excellent but “The Howling Man” is the epic centerpiece of the album with a very cool intro.  Lyrically it’s based on an old Twilight Zone episode of the same name that deals with a man imprisoned in a church.  Spoiler Alert – he’s Satan and it's probably better for all parties if he's kept locked up. Trust me on this one.

The hard rockin’ “Heavy Metal Heat” is a rollicking cut that celebrates both the Metal fans and the bands out there crushing skulls for a living.  Call it cliché but we can’t get enough of songs that extol the glories of Metal and rocking in general.  “Livin’ Dangerous” is another complete party of a tune that  is sure to get any crowd going.  “Curse Of The Damned” is the first single and is an amazing track that initially reminds of “The Zoo” by the Scorpions and then plunges headlong into even more excellence.  Check out a live version below:

Musically the band is tight as hell and their songwriting is top notch.  Jarvis Leatherby’s vocals are excellent and fit the music like a glove.  At some points, he reminds me of Zeeb Parkes of Witchfinder General – particularly during the chorus of “Satan”- but he’s got his own style and displays it magnificently.  His bass playing is very good as well and it’s mixed upfront as it should be.  Brent Woodward’s guitar playing is great and always serves the song - he plays with subtlety or flash depending on what is required.  The drumming by Dustin Squires is also exemplary and helps tie every song together perfectly.  Night Demon is the very definition of a power trio!

Curse Of The Damned will be available in several formats – CD, Vinyl and digital download.  The Vinyl features a cover of Riot’s “Road Racin’” and the download has that cover as well as a re-recording of the song “The Chalice” from their EP.  Century Media has several pre-order packages available and the band is offering an exclusive vinyl edition and a die hard bundle.  You can order that here.

The Bottom Line:   Curse Of The Damned is all killer no filler, as we old people used to say back in the days of yore.  It’s well worth your coin and I urge all fans of the NWOBHM, Traditional Metal, or just good music in general to go out and buy it.  Don’t suck at life – support Night Demon and their mission to take over the world one listener at a time.  BUY IT!!!!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

You're The Best Around (No, Not You, But Fourteen Albums Are)

Muthas, 2014 is in the books and once again we’ve picked the top fourteen Metal albums of the year. We’ve also picked the best live albums, best reissues, best live shows, and the biggest disappointment of the year. Read on!

The Fourteen Best Albums of 2014

2014 offered up tons of quality Heavy Metal for your listening pleasure and here are the fourteen releases that dominated our turntables, CD players and mp3 players at The Metal Blog of Metal.

Grand Magus – Triumph and Power

The Magus cranks out yet another rock solid album that is loaded with epic tunes.  Drink some mead and crank this up! Read the full review here.

Overkill – White Devil Armory

The Wrecking Crew delivers another stellar Thrash opus. Read the full review here.

Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls

The Priest is back!  An unexpectedly good album that manages to overcome a weird mix.  Check out the full review here.

Orange Goblin – Back From The Abyss

A bludgeoning masterpiece of burly, manly, beardy Metal!  Orange Goblin serves up a disc that may just be best of their career.  If we gave out a best of the year, this may have been it.  So damn good! BUY, BUY, BUY!!!

The Dagger – The Dagger

Sweden strikes again with an album that’s full of excellent 70s style Metal.  Imagine a tasty brew composed mostly of Rainbow and sprinkled liberally with Thin Lizzy, and Judas Priest.  It’s a very impressive album especially considering ¾ of the band is composed of former members of Dismember.  Highly recommended!

Striker – City of Gold

The first of three awesome Canadian releases in our best of 2014. Strikers third album is a smashing combo of Speed Metal and Traditional Metal.  The band they most recall is the godly Vicious Rumors.  All of their albums are excellent and this is as good a place as any to start.  Buy or die! 

Midnight Malice – Proving Grounds

Canadian band number two on our list crushed 2014 with a killer Traditional Metal disc that is hooky as all hell.  They completely delivered the goods after being mostly silent since their 2010 demo Pray For Death.  The only negative is they advertise this as a CD on their website, but it’s actually a CDR.  That’s kind of shitty, but the quality of the music more than offsets this minor disappointment.  If you dig Riot and other good Traditional Metal bands you need to add this to your collection post-haste.

Bullet – Storm of Blades

If you don’t know about Bullet by now here’s their obvious description - take one part Accept and one part AC/DC and mix in a metric shit-ton of fun.   Storm of Blades is a focused and blistering offering, and it's a definite step up from the average Full Pull.  Don’t miss this one.  Killer Anvil-esque album cover too! 

Skull Fist – Chasing The Dream

The last of our Canadian trio, Skull Fist brought out their best album yet in 2014.  They cranked back on Jackie Slaughter’s insane vocals a tiny bit, but kept the excellent songwriting and hooks.  Some complain that his vocals are (possibly?) auto-tuned, but we didn’t because the album kicks all kinds of ass.  Hail Canada! 

Stallion – Rise and Ride

German bangers Stallion’s first full album is a cool combo of Heavy Metal, Speed Metal and a bit of a Sleaze Metal edge.  Fun. Fun. Fun.  They completely embrace the early 80s Heavy Metal aesthetic  of songwriting and fashion.  Tiger stripes and bandanas ahoy!  They even have a song called “Wild Stallions.”  Party on dudes!

Primal Fear – Delivering The Black

Something of a comeback for these Power Metal veterans, with great songs and a real sense of urgency to the writing.  Read the full review here.

Grave Digger – Return of the Reaper

Speaking of Germany, these stalwarts have brought out a killer album that’s NOT a concept album!  Hooray!  It’s a pummeling platter of muscular Power Metal.  Also, the album cover is amazing.  Highly recommended!

Stone Dagger – The Siege of Jerusalem

A little bit of cheating here, but were adding this to our 2014 list because the original 2013 release was very limited to a few cassettes and it didn't get a wide release until 2014.  This two-tracker recalls all of the best of the NWOBHM and is an absolute must buy.  Go get this now. Seriously.  NOW!

Wolf – Devil Seed

Wolf are one of the bands that kicked off the whole NWOTHM movement way back in 1999 and they are still going strong today.  They always seem to get lost in the shuffle, but Devil Seed is another great addition to their legacy of high quality Traditional Metal.  It’s definitely worth your coin if you dig music that doesn’t suck.  

Live – After Death! – The Best Live Albums of 2014

Satan – Trail Of Fire – Live In North American

Documenting NWOBHM legends Satan’s first tour of North America, Trail Of Fire is a very good set of classics that will please any fan of the band or the genre. The band sounds great with Brian Ross's vocals being just as good now as their were way back in the 80s.  The crowds are very excited to hear them which makes this a really special live album.  Pick it up.

Whitesnake – Live In ’84 – Back To The Bone

Here’s a song for ya!! This is a deluxe CD + DVD package that showcases Whitesnake’s killer 1984 lineup at Super-Rock Japan.  Also included are several other live tracks from the same time period as well as Jon Lord’s final show with the band.  This is Whitesnake at their peak with John Sykes before 1987’s “Whitesnake” album.  Just get it.

Born Again – The Best Reissues of 2014

Revered Reverend EP, World Won’t Miss You, Play God, Live EP

Divebomb Records deluxe reissues of the entire Reverend Caroline Records catalog.  These are mandatory for any Metal Church fan or fans of Power Thrash in general.  Get ‘em before their gone.

Picture – Picture 1, Heavy Metal Ears, Diamond Dreamer, Eternal Dark

Divebomb Records strikes again with four albums from the Netherlands own Picture!  Superb Traditional Heavy Metal that will please fans of 70s and early 80s Judas Priest.  Pitch those shitty Greek bootlegs and pick these deluxe editions up.  Great stuff!

S.A. Slayer – Prepare To Die, Go For The Throat

Finally!  A legit 2 on 1 reissue of the legendary “other Slayer” from San Antonio, Texas.  This is from the excellent Polish label Skol Records and is very nicely done – just like all of their reissues.  Buy!

Satan’s Host – Metal From Hell, Midnight Wind

It’s another excellent, finally legit reissue from the good folks at Skol Records. Get this and see where it all began for Leviathan Thisiren and company way back in 1986.  By the hands of the devil indeed!

Black Conventicles – The Best Concerts of 2014

Metal Church – March 7th, The Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, PA

A great set of classics and very little new material from Metal Church on a Friday night in the Steel City.  They were filming a concert video so we actually got to hear “Start The Fire” and “Ton of Bricks” twice back to back!  Very cool.  Unfortunately, this proved to be the last tour with Ronny Munroe, as he left the band shortly thereafter.  Here’s hoping they can continue with another vocalist before they lose the momentum built up from their return. 

Black Label Society/Down – May 15th, Stage A.E., Pittsburgh, PA

It was nice to see BLS, but the real attraction was finally getting to see Down and Phil Anselmo.  Phil and the boys belted out a great set of Down classics and left us wanting more.  This is the fourth or fifth time that we’ve seen BLS and Zakk always delivers his guitar hero antics with style and flash.  A fun time was had by all.

Primal Fear – May 24th, The Altar Bar, Pittsburgh, PA

It was quite unexpected when Primal Fear announced a United States tour and that it would be hitting Pittsburgh.  Seeing as this was their second-to-last show in the States, their performance was excellent and they band was tight as hell.  They delivered song after song of top-notch German Power Metal to the faithful that ventured out that night.  It was a damn good set that showcased a band thats far from running in the dust.  Hailz!

King Diamond – October 19th, Stage A.E., Pittsburgh, PA

It was a definite treat seeing the revitalized King Diamond and his theatrical stage show of evil awesomeness right before Halloween!  It was pure chance that had him book a show here in the Steel City, and everyone there was glad to see him back in action.  Here’s hoping that more tours and albums follow.  A new Mercyful Fate album and tour would be great too!

Message In Blood – The Best Album Cover of 2014

Grave Digger – Return of the Reaper

Now that’s an awesome cover!  The Grim Reaper, a graveyard, fire, a casket, and ravens all presented as if they are coming right at you as they bust out of the graveyard.  Sweet! Looks exceptionally good on vinyl.

The System Has Failed – The Biggest Disappointments of 2014

Sebastian Bach – Give ‘Em Hell

We keep waiting for Baz to unleash a worthy follow up to the smoking Angel Down and he’s never gotten close.  The album sounds uninspired and his vocals are weirdly strained on much of the material.  WTF?  Also, the album cover is an abomination. Boo!!!!  Get Metal Mike Chlasciak back and write some better material.  We'll be waiting. 

Accept – Blind Fury

It’s a pile of meh.  Full review here.

The 124th Annual The Metal Blog of Metal 
Comeback Of The Year Award

Chromium Dioxide Magazine

If you don’t read this Canadian Metal ‘zine I pity your shallow, colorless existence.  It’s packed full of hilarity, Metal, VHS bargain bin treasures, and everything else the 1990 version of me thought was great. Main men Philthy Chromium and Dave Slimer hadn’t been able to put out an issue since 2011 due to various fires, health scares, and other shittiness, but now they are back for the attack!  Buy it here and know what it is to live life to the fullest as a man should do.  Hoist a midnight champagne with me in celebration!  Cheers! 


Have a great 2015 and as always, MAKE MINE METAL!