Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Bad Touch-Half Way Home

Self-Release/Independent
2015


Formed back in November of 2009 while it's members were still serving time in high school and college, Bad Touch are a up-and-coming classic rock and roll band based in Dereham, Norfolk. Comprised of vocalist Stevie, lead guitarist Rob G., rhythm guitarist Seeks, bassist Bailey and a drummer named George, with the bluesy rock of "Half Way Home" serving as their full-length debut, Bad Touch list their influences as being bands like Guns 'N' Roses, Aerosmith, Led Zepplin, Skin, AC/DC and Little Angels. Despite hailing from the UK the band has more in common with the American hard rock scene of the seventies and early eighties as well as the southern rock sound of the band The Black Crowes. And all of that is fine and dandy when it comes to the enjoyable "Half Way Home" as what the band might lack in originality they make up for in enthusiasm and charisma. Having just returned from a 18-date UK tour with The Answer, Bad Touch are all about spreading the gospel of classic rock and barroom blues to the all of those who are dear to their hearts! And of course that has to includes the faithful fans of bands like Led Zepplin and The Black Crowes as Bad Touch drinks from the same cool waters as their heroes once did! If you live in or around that part of the world and you get a chance to check these young rockers out live and in all kinds of brilliant colors then by all means make it so! These young and hip guys are on their way onward and upward with the easy rockin' of "Half Way Home" sure to be a classic album in so time at all! I don't know about the rest of you, but this is the kind of bad touching I can't help but crave! You can find out more about Bad Touch by heading here friends!

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Tony Tears-Follow The Signs Of The Times

Minotauro Records
2015

It might not be obvious at first, but Minotauro Records has quietly amassed a strong catalog of doom metal releases. Now you can add another one to that note of distinction as "Follow The Signs Of The Times" is arguably one of 2015's better doom metal recordings in addition to being Tony Tear's greatest solo release to date! I realize that's high praise considering just how good Tony Tear's solo career has been up to this point. Even so it's the truth and that judgement call on my part has everything to do with the strength and consistent nature of such delightfully sinful tracks as "Mark Of Evil", "The Road To Research", "Queen of Darkness". and one of this album's better instrumental numbers, "Covenant of the Lords of the End". On instrumental numbers like this one, "Demonic Puppets" and "Deep Misanthropy" Tony  Tears (ex-Zess, Soul of Enoch, ex-Abysmal Grief, ex-Helden Rune, ex-Ignis Fatuus, ex-Kathekon, ex-Lux Obscuritatis) handles everything otherwise he is joined by vocalist David Krieg (Hexenfaust, Neith, Progeria, Toolbox Terror, Soul of Enoch, ex-Hastur, ex-Malignance, ex-Ignis Fatuus, ex-Kathekon, ex-Lux Obscuritatis) and bassist/drummer Regen Graves (Abysmal Grief, ex-Malombra). In addition to Tony's own material there is a Paul Chain cover ("Armageddon") and this album's eerie intro track, "Sighs of Time's Fear", shows how fantastic it can be when you add Dario Argento film scores to Italian doom metal of this caliber! Some are calling "Follow The Signs Of The Times" Tony Tear's HEAVIEST and best-produced release ever (!) and I would be hard pressed to argue with either of those points seeing as Tony's new album is so f**king good! This one most certainly comes with my highest recommendation!

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Raging Dead-Born In Rage

Self-Release/Independent
2015


Heavy punk/hard metal band Raging Dead was formed in 2014 by Cloud Shade (vocals, guitars) and Matt Void (lead guitar). Bassist Simon Nightmare and drummer Traci Decadence complete the line-up of "Born In Rage" and this horror-infused EP opens strong with the track "Awakening The  Damned". From there you'll be treated to numbers like "Scratch Me", "Redemption" and "Nightstalker" with the heavy rock thrash of "Vengeance" closing things out just as effectively as "Awakening The Damned" opened things up! With influences such as Rob Zombie, Marylin Manson, Wednesday 13 and the Murderdolls listed you'd be forgiven if you thought that this EP might just lean towards the electronic side of horror rock. Thankfully that's far from the case as the group's horror-inspired debut offering is more in line with The Misfits and The Exploited than Marylin Manson and Rob Zombie! Otherwise listing Skid Row as a source of inspiration, Raging Dead errs on the side of caution with this EP drawing a straight as can be line right through gritty hard rock, raw heavy metal and horror punk/hardcore. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Oscar Burato at Atomic Stuff Studios in Isorella, Brescia, Italy, "Born  In  Rage" is full of rage and fury and for that I offer a tip of my hat in appreciation towards this up and coming Italian band ! 

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LostPray-That's Why

Pure Steel Records
2014

LostPray is a relatively new metal band that was formed in Istanbul by childhood friends Tufan Çiğdem (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Burak Gündoğdu (lead guitars, backing vocalists). Independently-recorded, "That's Why" is the band's full-length debut album and with LostPray rocking the thin line between hard & heavy and power metal it's easy enough to see why Pure Steel Records approached this young band to begin with! These days bassist Vyacheslav Babienko and drummer Nikolay Dovdopolov round this quartet out and considering the fact that it started off life as a independent studio product and all the 8-track "That's Why" is a remarkably smooth and consistent affair! For a debut album it not only shows this young band's raw talent, but it also points toward this band's full potential! "That's Why" has a run-time of over 41 minutes release and at the end of the day it should easily help LostPray make a name for itself. Recommended for fans of "Black" and "Load"/"Re-Load"-era Metallica, "That's Why" is a stand out release in a day and age when sadly two many new bands just blur together. Hopefully we'll be hearing more from this Turkish band in the near future.

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Monday, May 04, 2015

Free Metal Monday: CrashDollz-CrashDollz

Self-Release/Independent
2013

They hail from the same bad streets that brought us MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, and the punk band Death. They've played with everyone from Jello Biafra to Great White. They have song titles like "Dumpster Punk", "Bad Taste Barbie", "Female Anarchy", "Sugar Rocket", and "U.S. Punk Bombs". And their lead singer's name is Nikki Darling. Yep, I'm talking about the legends in the making, CrashDollz! Let's all give them a hardy welcome and then be sure to thank the band for this special treat that they have brought for us today. It's called "CrashDollz" and boy is this self-titled affair ever fun! Well, maybe "fun" isn't the right word choice to describe this full-length party in the making. How about "wild"? No? Maybe "crazy"? No? OK, maybe "mischievous"? That's still not enough? Well, I'm stumped for a description then as the truth of the matter is "CrashDollz" is all of that (fun, wild, crazy and most definitely mischievous!) and then so much more my friends! "CrashDollz" serves as my first introduction to this four-piece band and as far as first impressions goes this was truly one of my better first dates! At it's core it's definitely rock (as is R-O-C-K!), but not in the way you might think. It's more rock and roll in the fine traditional of Detroit's previously mentioned greats (MC5, Iggy & Stooges, Death, etc...) or even a band like the Ramones. It's rock and roll the way Motörhead would do it or rock and roll by way of The Runaways if the Sex Pistols had been their greatest source of inspiration! Yes, it's that kind of rock and roll and it is absolutely glorious! But then again, "CrashDollz" is as much about fierily punk rock as it is rock and then it's also about honest to goodness heavy metal! So, you've got rock, punk and heavy metal in an album like "CrashDollz". What more could you possibly ask for? Oh, did I mention how it's available for free on the group's bandcamp page? That's right kids. "CrashDollz" is free for the taking and with a new album planned for sometime later this summer now is as good a time as any to join the party! Recorded at Union City Studios in Flint, MI, "CrashDollz" was made possible thanks to the joint efforts of Nikki Darling and her equally awesome bandmates (guitarist Rachel Rekkits, bassist Kevin "Krank" Kekes and drummer Mikk Mannikk) and with nowhere to go but up it's easy enough to see this band going from being one of Detroit's premier punk bands to world-wide favorites in no time flat! Especially seeing as their live show is reportedly ever bit as righteous as this self-tiled album is! I want to thank the band for contacting Heavy Metal Time Machine about their free album and encourage all of our readers to check out CrashDollz's online site for more information about this very cool band!

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Free Metal Monday: Angel Sword-The Midwinter Tapes

Self-Release/Independent
2015

Formed back in 2010, Angel Sword is a heavy metal band from Helsinki, Finland. The group's first release, "Where We Are Going You Cannot Come", came out in mid-December of 2010 and that demo was followed by the 2013 EP, "Ripping the Heavens". While their name didn't ring any bells at first the artwork of "Ripping the Heavens" did and upon hearing the group's latest release I was immediately taken in and transformed by this band's sharp mixture of traditional heavy metal, N.W.O.B.H.M. and thrash! The band, which is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Jerry Razors*, guitarist/backing vocalist Sylvester Shredder bassist Eviltaker and drummer St. Peter, "worships the heavy metal gods of old, fallen into slumber decades ago and now angered by the polished plastic sound of modern metal" and that ideal is never more evident than on a track like "Midnight Survivor". With just four songs this EP is obviously a tad short, but there is still more than enough heavy metal love to go around as evident by the sweet "Heavy Metal Night"! With it's cool chorus of "It’s all good, it’s alright heavy metal binds us all tonight" we are reminded of the brotherhood that is metal and how this bound is stronger than steel and eternal! Opener "Lords of Thunder" sets the pace nicely with it's rock-infused take on N.W.O.B.H.M while the EP's last cut, "Break The Chains", makes you long for the old days when heavy metal was more about the sound and message and less about selling out and making the cover of Rolling Stone magazine!
It's hard to forget artwork like this!

Since 2010 Finland's Angel Sword have been waving the old-school flag proudly and from the looks and sounds of things they don't have any plans to suddenly stop this wonderful cause! You can read more about this band on their Facebook page and you can download this one for free by heading here. Angel Sword is oddly unsigned, but based on the strength of music like this that shouldn't be the case for too much longer!



*With a nice punk snarl and a voice that channels the greatness that is the one and only Lemmy, Jerry Razors is about as close as you can get to having the perfect front-man for this kind of old-fashioned goodness!

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Broken Rain-Here Comes The Pain

Self-Release/Independent
2015
 

Listen up everyone as introductions are in order. Broken Rain is a hard rock/heavy metal band Banská Bystrica, Slovakia that is comprised of Martin Rybár (lead vocals), Filip Prašovský (guitars, backing vocals), Imrich Šimig (keyboards, guitars), Vladislav Gális (bass, backing vocals), and Branislav Končír (drums). The 12-track "Here Comes The Pain", which was produced by Ľubomír Lichý (Hematit, Liquid Boogie Roll, Metalinda, Clear, JB...) and is proceeded by a 2009 demo, is Broken Rain's debut full-length album. Formed in 2006, Broken Rain initially started out as a cover band before making the gradual move over to original material. As their early set-lists featured material from the likes of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest it is not exactly difficult to pinpoint Broken Rain's influences. At the very least these four bands make for a good starting point of reference even if Broken Rain's sound is quite a bit more in tune with 2000-era rock radio than their cover band roots suggest. Available on CD or as a digital download, "Here Comes The Pain" is a great first step for Broken Rain. It's uplifting and catchy and it is a release that gets better with each new spin! At the end of the day "Here Comes The Pain" works as well as it does because this band's fusion of heavy guitar rock, classic hard rock and straight-ahead heavy metal is both steeped in traditional and modern and relevant. For more information on Broken Rain and their full-length album "Here Comes The Rain" be sure to check out the group's online site right here.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dogbane-When Karma Comes Calling

Heaven and Hell Records
2015

"When Karma Comes Calling" is the latest release from Greensboro, North Carolina metal band Dogbane. At just under 36 minutes it follows the group's sadly overlooked debut album, "Residual Alcatraz", and it once more finds this largely unknown New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal act channeling the spirits of many a great doom and N.W.O.B.H.M. band that came before them. Four or so years removed from "Residual Alcatraz", "When Karma Comes Calling" was recorded and produced by Dogbane bassist Kevin Davis and the rest of the gang at Studio 5 in Greensboro, NC. Lead as always by the Rob Halford-esque voice of Jeff Neal (ex-Steelwolf) and featuring guitar performances from Jeff Rinehart and Mitchell Allred that should make fans of Trouble, Pentagram and Black Sabbath weep with joy, Dogbane is about as close as you can get to having the perfect combination of doom metal (Witchfinder General, Trouble, Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Witchfynde, The Obsessed, etc.) and classic metal/N.W.O.B.H.M. (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Satan, Pagan Alter, Manilla Road, Brocas Helm, Savage, Motörhead, Saxon, Thin Lizzy, etc)! With drummer Jerry Cloer (Crucifice, ex-Rictus Grin) rounding out the line-up, Dogbane is one traditional/doom metal band that deserves every bit of good fortune that could possibly come their way. For a band that was formed way back in 2010 it is a little bothersome that Dogbane are not more well-known within the metal community. Hopefully this spirited follow-up to "Residual Alcatraz" changes all of that as Dogbane is far too good to be kept under wraps for any longer! Mastered by Gary Long (King Diamond, Solitude Aeturnus), "When Karma Comes Calling" picks up where this band's debut album left, but for comparisons sake let's just say that album number two from these North Carolina merchants of metal would get a ***** rating if "Residual Alcatraz" was a *** release. In other words, "When Karma Comes Calling" has the same calling cards but it is a more focused and mature affair. But, you don't have to take my word for it. Right now (and mind you this is for a limited time only so go here right now!) you can download "When Karma Comes Calling" for only $1! You heard me right friend. For only one measly dollar you can pick up a digital copy of this killer album so that you can see what all the fuse is about for yourself! And let's face it, $1 is literately a steal for an album like this! Especially seeing as (heavy metal-wise) "When Karma Comes Calling" is (if nothing else) a straight-shooter of an album where speed rock ("Warlord") gets the same kind of special treatment as a slow, Black Sabbath-like number does ("Devil by the Horns"). That means whether you are a fan of Trouble of Tytan there's just got to a better than 50-50 chance that at least one song on this one dollar download should appeal to you. Although I've got to think that more than a few of you will appreciate this band's doom metal approach to traditional heavy metal. Need more info on Dogbane? Be sure to check out the group's Facebook page then and we'll you're at it be sure to snag a copy of "Residual Alcatraz"!

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Pneuma Hagion-Trinity I

Self-Release/Independent
2015

Formed at the start of 2015 by R. (The Howling Void, Hordes of the Morning Star, Intestinal Disgorge, Tethered to a Dying Animal, Serpentine Tunnels, Endless Disease, etc.), Pneuma Hagion is a one man black/death/doom band from Texas. Written, recorded, mixed and mastered by the "band" itself, "Trinity I" is Pneuma Hagion's first demo and it was actually released back on January 28th. For those of you who are keeping count at home that is indeed a remarkable turnaround time as Pneuma Hagion went from it's official formation to finished product in less than a month! To quote the old TV show of the same name, "That's Incredible!". High fives all around! Wait, what was that you said? You say you want more information before you take a huge bite out of this three-track demo? That's fair enough. How about we start from the beginning then? Good? OK. "Trinity I" was actually first sent to me back in mid-February by my good friend and fellow blogger, Metal Mark. Incidentally, Mark received the demo from the mysterious R himself and it came with the heading "Beherit meets Teitanblood". As to the question of why I didn't knock out a review of "Trinity I" back then? Who knows? I have no idea why I do the things I do anyway so who bloody knows why I'm just now getting around to this ghastly beast of blackened death doom. Besides, it's not like it's important to the story at hand. So anyway, I was told by the forwarded e-mail to "Imagine a blend of Beherit's "Drawing Down the Moon" and Teitanblood's "Seven Chalices" mixed with a touch of Coffins". So I did as the email requested and you know what? "Trinity I" is all of that and more. But, it's also none of that but rather a horrific sneak peak into the nightmare world of R. That's an odd response to this demo I realize, but "Trinity I" isn't your typical black/death/doom release. For sure it's plenty sick and twisted and main man R does a good job handling everything from the vocals & instruments to the demo's production. So yeah, "Trinity I" is every-bit the apt descriptions it's been giving. And yet there is something more here that I can't quite put my finger on. Even with it's short length the demo has plenty character and Pneuma Hagion's mixture of all things dark and oppressive produces quite the emotion response from the listener. The demo is atmospheric and most certainty evil in all the right ways. "Trinity I" is creepy and it paints the picture of a man that is being hunted and haunted by something otherworldly and assuredly unholy. It's all these things, but still I feel as if I'm missing a huge piece of the puzzle. Maybe you can find that missing piece for me? Head here
if you dare try!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rockstar Frame-Rock 'n' Roll Mafia



Musicarchy Media
2015

Every bit as hotblooded and a hundred plus times as sexy as it's artwork suggests, "Rock 'n' Roll Mafia" is the soon to be released (to great fanfare and widespread joy no doubt!) debut LP from Rockstar Frame. It was not even a week ago (last Wednesday to be precise) that I first introduced you to this hot new hard & heavy rock band and their even hotter single, "She's Hot". That pulse-raising piece of rebel rock was just phase one of this band's plan for world conquest. Now this Milan five piece is back in black and ready to finish the war that they started with "She's Hot" and I for one welcome our new conquers with open arms and raised first! To paraphrase The Ramones "I'm all revved up and ready to go" and I've got this band's first studio release all but CRANKED up as loud as if can be in the background so that every living soul can experience the next evolutionary & revolutionary leap in female-fronted hard rock for themselves! Or at least all the living souls in my little corner of the world as they are the ones getting rocked and rolled all over by what some people have been calling the "New Guns N Roses with killer female vocals"! That's not entirely unfair as Rockstar Frame do strike a similar pose to Axl Rose and company. Well, later day Axl Rose and his pals (as in G 'N R "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II") as this Italian hard rock band also likes to utilize the winning combo that is screaming guitars and flashy keys! Still, Axl Rose comes across old and cranky when compared to Rockstar Frame's sultry lead singer Faith Blurry! A killer artist all her own, Faith has a set of pipes on her that can't be beat and her range is quite impressive (to say the least). There's a red hot fire burning deep down inside her that keeps the music of Rockstar Frame blazing! Faith Blurry could easily strike gold on her own as a singer so having someone this talented behind the mic gives this hard rock/heavy metal even more bite! There's also enough attitude in feisty front-lady Faith Blurry alone to make the Misfits' number "Attitude" sound like a silly love song! In other words she is the perfect weapon for these smooth criminals! But, let's take a step or two back as "Rock 'n' Roll Mafia" is actual the end of a journey that was first started back in 2012 by founding member and drummer extraordinaire Max Klein. At it's core,  Rockstar Frame is very much a tale of how one man's unfortunate accident would transform the lives of many in a truly healthy and positive way! The story begins with Rockstar Frame's Max Klein taking a nasty tumble down a cliff. That bit of misfortune left Max in a coma. While his loving and supportive family stayed by his bedside they played him rock music. As he lay unconscious Max soaked up all the good vibes that the music had to offer and when he eventually woke up he found that he was now inspired to create great music of his own! To that end the talented Max went out and recruited equally skilled musicians and with one thing leading to another we now find ourselves staring down the barrel of a gun named Rockstar Frame! That might be oversimplifying the whole history of this female-fronted heavy rock/hard rock band a wee bit, but just as Max believes that it was the rock music that his family played for him that helped to bring to him back around to the waking world I have to believe that it was more than just mere coincidence that these five musicians found each other. The music of "Rock 'n' Roll Mafia" suggests as much as this kind of band chemistry doesn't pop up everyday! As for the other key players involved? They would be guitarist Morris Steel, bass guitarist Andy Di Bella and keyboardist Ace Wave. Collectively these five good friends have turned a simple vision into a spectacular reality where eighties hard rock, blues rock and sleazy/pop metal are smoothed over by the sounds of heavy rock radio. It's a place where this band's colorful influences (from Guns 'N Roses to Aerosmith) are touched up and turned inside out in order to give all the dearly faithful something fun and catchy to scream and shout about! With it's electrifying material, "Rock 'n' Roll Mafia" is primal rock and roll from a one-time-in-a-million/billion hard and heavy act. Needless to say you are going to want this one for your own collection friends!

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Monday, April 27, 2015

White Mantis-Fukkin' Demo

Self-Release/Independent
2014

Charmingly-titled as it just might be, "Fukkin Demo" is the first release from Germany's White Mantis. It was self-released in mid-November of 2014 and the four-song demo opens with a rocking little number called "My Favourite Chainsaw". The other three songs on this short but sweet EP are "Singularity", "The Seer" and "Nuclear Assassin". If you had to make a guess as to what this band's specialty was what would it be? I know it's a stab in the dark and all, but what you guess? If your answer was thrash metal and/or speed/thrash then congratulations are in order! Pat yourself on the back as you my friend are spot on! This is thrash metal 101 from a Munich-based band whose first and foremost aspiration in life would have to be thrashing out! Sounds simple enough I know, but believe it or not there is much to love about this four-piece band and their take on speed metal/thrash. Besides the kookiness that is "My  Favourite Chainsaw" that is! For one thing White Mantis is old-school through and through. And it's not just the band's style of thrash metal we're talking about either! Without sacrificing quality,  "Fukkin' Demo" has a production job that is straight out of the mid-late eighties and it turns this recording into another fun trip back to a time when things were a bit more simpler. "Fukkin' Demo" rewinds the clock to a scene that was still young and growing and yet every-bit as hungry and aggressive as today's bands are. Even more so some would say and I for one would gladly stand up for that argument as this demo's vintage vibe is right in line with everything that special about yesterday and all the days that proceeded it. White Mantis, which for future reference is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Matthias Pletz (ex-Lurid Trace), lead guitarist Andre Krimbacher, bassist Stefan Weihe and drummer Boris Kannowski, reminds me more of the early U.S. thrash and speed metal sound than the German scene and the name that I am going to throw out next might be lost of many but I have to use it. Kindly keep in mind that this band reference is also more about said band on the live stage, but nonetheless "Fukkin' Demo" reminds me the Christian thrash metal band Sacrament! As crazy as that sounds I actually saw Sacrament open for Deliverance on their Weapons Of Our Warfare" tour and White Mantis here sounds insanely close to what I remember Sacrament sounding like live! Hold your horses friends as that is actually a compliment! At the time Sacrament was breaking in new singer Robert Wolfe and their live set was nothing but rough and rugged thrash metal with slightly punkish vocals and the occasional melodic/technical moment. It was raw and aggressive and in the same environment that I was in everything bounced around frantically before it went straight into your eardrums in order to DESTROY you inside! The night I saw Sacrament they came across dark and frenzied and I was left thinking to myself if this was a normal thrash band it would be cooler than shit! White Mantis are all of that (aggressive thrash that is slight raw yet just technical enough to keep everything interesting), but on a larger scale and they are way more evil in everyday imaginable. For a first recording this shows promise and it makes you want to hear more. Good times are ahead for this lot if they can stay the course and I for one hope they do just that!









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"Thunder And Steel Down Under"-A Tribute To Riot

Skol Records
2015


It's another fine Metal Monday so check this one out my friends and fellow metalheads. It's way past the point of being long-overdue, but Skol Record's "Thunder And Steel Down Under" is the first ever Riot tribute album. The fact that it has taken so long to put one together is wrong on so many levels, the least of which is A) how universal Riot's form of U.S. power metal is and then (as heard on this limited edition CD) B) how easily it lends itself to being covered. Thankfully this 14-track compilation not only addresses this gross negligence, but it does so in grand fashion and with the exact kind of style and grace befitting of such a classic band as Riot! And speaking of classics, "Thunder And Steel Down Under" features more than a few golden gems from Riot's amazing back catalog and they are given the royal treatment by many a great band that has already been featured here on Heavy Metal Time Machine! We're talking about the likes of Crystal Viper, Night Demon, October 31 and Rocka Rollas  (to name just a few) and here on the limited-edition "Thunder And Steel Down Under" these four bands join up with ten other great artists in order to pay homage to one of heavy metal's true unsung heroes! Obviously not all tribute albums are created equally and compilations in general can be so hit or miss. We all know this to be a sad fact of life. But again, we are talking about Riot and if any band has a back catalog that is perfectly suited for covering it would be this one. And it should go without saying, but on "Thunder And Steel Down Under" the list of bands that Skol Records assembled for this project is impressive. Besides those mentioned we have Savage Master, Attacker, Dexter Ward and Axel Rudi Pel (again just to name a few!) and it all adds up to one album that was so damn-near perfect that I had to stop and ponder the fact on more than one occasion! So, without further adieu let's jump right into this Riot tribute album! Produced by the one and only Bart Gabriel (Sacred Steel, Crystal Viper, Jack Starr's Burning Starr), "Thunder And Steel Down Under" is indeed a rare specimen in that it offers a tribute album that is actually worthy of the band of which it covers! Crazy right? Well, as strange as that sounds its the truth. We start things off with Ferdy Doernberg's brief instrumental take on "Soldier" before we are bowled over by Axel Rudi Pell's version of "Warrior". So far so good right? It only gets better friends as "Fire Down Under" sounds great in Attacker's hands! Already we see how right Riot's music can sound in the hands of those who share a true love and appreciation for the band and their remarkable brand of traditional and power metal! It should be noted at this point that income from the sale of this special album will be given to Sir Tony Reale (father of the late Riot guitarist and founding member, Mark Reale) so we're talking about great metal music for a great cause! It's win-win time all around! But anyway, Walpyrgus is up next with "Outlaw" and if you haven't figured it out for yourself by now let me just say again how well-suited this band is in regards to being covered! Wow. Riot is really something in regards to their back catalog and how many killer songs they have and it's a treat to hear how easily it transforms into straight-ahead metal and heavy power metal/thrash! When we are talking about Riot we are talking about the kind of traditional heavy metal  band that should be huge! Their form of power metal is absolutely slamming and yet it's so well-written and constructed that it can be turned on it's head and still sound fantastic! Few bands can stake that kind of claim, but then again Riot is in a league of their own. All of which begs the question why it hasn't happened sooner? Why has it taken so long for this classic American band to get a tribute album all their own? I wish I knew. Anyway, Savage Master is on board now with "Swords And Tequila" and it's at this point that we hear one of the only so-so tracks on the compilation. It's not that Savage Master is bad or anything. In truth I happen to love the band and their debut album received high marks for all of us here at Heavy Metal Time Machine. Even so I will admit that their cover of "Swords And Tequila" sounds coldly hollow when compared to the original. And that's a shame as "Swords And Tequila"is an absolute classic in it's own right. But hey, they can't all be winners right? From Savage Master we turn to  the neoclassical style of Angelo Perlepes' Mystery. I enjoyed their cover of "Sign Of The Crimson Storm" as it has a Dio flair to it. Next up is October 31 and they take on "Loanshark". Now the guys in October 31st are no strangers when it comes to cover songs so finding them on a Riot tribute album isn't all that surprising. What is surprising though is how little their cover of "Loanshark" sounds like the original. It's more of a punk thrash take on Riot and depending upon whether you are a fan of October 31or not you will either love it or hate it. I like it quite a bit as it is different in a good way and it offers a unique perspective of the music of Riot. From there we are served up one choice cover after another from band's here in the U.S. and bands from over in Europe. To save a bit of time and space the remainder of this tribute album looks something like this:

Alpha Tiger- "Flight Of The Warrior" (A solid cover that is a nice mix of flash and fury)
Stallion-"Rock City" (Good even if it can't touch the originals appeal)
Rocka Rollas-"Riot" (Nothing fancy or anything it's just the Rocka Rollas doing their thing)
Evil United-"Altar Of The King" (A Straight down the middle of the road shooter that hits it's target dead on)
Night Demon-"Road Racin'" (One of my favorite Riot numbers done by one of my favorite new bands)
Dexter Ward-"Running From The Law" (Totally kicking cover choice done right)

Crystal Viper feat. Todd Michael Hall-"Thundersteel" (A nice way to end this tribute)

As they are all really good covers there is no reason to get too technical about each track. Still, highlights for me (band-wise) would have to be: Rocka Rollas, Evil united, Night Demon and Dexter Ward. Especially Night Demon. Their cover selection has always been a guilty pleasure of mine so having one of my new favorites cover one of my old favorites was simply cool. And that's really what this tribute album is all about
when you get down to it! "Thunder And Steel Down Under" is all about a great group of bands and artists (both new and not so new) coming together to celebrate one of metal's finest bands and the life of one of it's finest members (Mark Reale). If the actual music isn't enough to sway you though then consider the fact that this compilation comes packed with a nice booklet with notes from each band. Consider it a little bonus if you will. In the end "Thunder And Steel Down Under" makes up for a great deal of lost time. It addresses a  gaping hole that previously existed and it honors not only Riot, but the bands that Riot influenced. As it is limited to a mere 1,000 copies I would definitely recommend that you not wait too long to buy this fantastic CD. It's worth every penny and it's for a good cause. What more could a Riot fan ask for?

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Free Metal Monday: False Prophet-Murder or Mercy Live 1990

Heaven and Hell Records
2013

Formed in 1988 during the height of  the thrash metal explosion, False Prophet is a Greensboro, North Carolina band whose 1991 album, "The Second Death", won me over a long time ago thanks to it's wickedly raw take on death-laden thrash! Bootlegs of said album seem to pop up every now and then, but this digital-only(?) release is officially sanctioned by the band. "Murder Or Mercy" is a live EP from a band that should have been at least somewhat bigger than they were and it is available as a name-your-own-price download here. It includes four tracks of heavy thrash/death and with a run time that is over the twenty minute mark it is the perfect thing to get you up and going on this Monday morning!






With it's memorable artwork and heavy thrash/death metal sound "The Second Death" is a hidden gem!

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