Thursday, February 26, 2015

Embryo-Embryo

Logic(Il)Logic Records/Andromeda Dischi
2015

The first of two promo CDs to recently come my way from the fine folks at Atomic Stuff Promotion and Logic(Il)Logic Records (Badmotorfinger, Twintera, Steel City, Hex, Nightglow....), "Embryo" is the latest release from this long-standing melodic death metal band from Cremona, Italy. Formed in 2000, with vocalist Roberto Pasolini and guitarist Eugenio "Uge" Sambasile the sole original members and influences listed as Fear Factory, Meshuggah, Strapping Young Lad*, Embryo first hit the scene with the demo "The Source of Hate" in 2001. Following the release of "Promo 2002" the band issued their full-length debut album, "Chaotic Age" in 2006. Another demo ("Promo 2009") appeared before the band would release the highly-rated "No God Slave" in 2010. It was "No God Slave" that truly brought the group into the limelight with stellar reviews pushing the band upward and onward. Here it is 2015 and the band is finally rolling out album number three, the self-titled "Embryo". Currently rounded out by keyboardist Simone Solla, bassist Nicola Iazzi and drummer Enea Passarella** this five-piece band falls somewhere between melodic death metal and standard death metal with the harsh voice of lead singer Roberto Pasonlini often times moving this metal band into deathcore and/or extreme territory!  With a grand total of eleven-tracks and a run-time of over forty minutes the recently-released "Embryo" (recently-released as in the 10th of this month!) is all at once intimidating and intriguing. Lyrically-speaking the album "Embryo" is "a descent into the Maelström of human soul 'til the door to the abyss that is the denial of being part of mankind" even if you'd have a hard time catching on to that given the otherworldly/demonic delivery of Roberto Pasonlini. As stated it's his unapologetic approach to "singing" that gives this Italian band that extra edge making this self-titled studio recording excessively brutal! By balancing out his beastly voice with complex arrangements that are deep and soul-steering an album like this becomes much more than merely a LOUD death metal release. That isn't to say that "Embryo" isn't LOUD as it is! It's also extremely HEAVY as touched upon. But, thanks in no small part to the fact that "Embryo" was recorded, mixed and mastered by the skilled hands of producer Simone Mularoni (DGM, Empyrios, The Modern Age Slavery, Vision Divine...), it is all that (LOUD and HEAVY) and so much more! This Italian band plays with purpose and the various musicians involved with this recording did more than just unleash unholy amounts of hostility and vulgarity dressed up as "music". These numbers offer interesting riffs and imaginative keyboards. The bass parts are progressive and the drumming (while certainly pummeling!) shows passion and personal pride. When brought together the music gives the listener a reason to pause and reflect what Embryo is really about. "Embryo" is worth tracking down as there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to this particular death metal band.     

*Given the band's complex arrangements and the compelling ingredients that found their way into this mix those three influences don't even begin to scratch the surface when it comes to everything that "Embryo" has to offer. Whether you are into melodic death metal or extreme metal this album has something worthwhile to say to you if you should choose to listen!

** Drums on "Embryo", which by the way are freakin' smashing(!), were performed by the talented Francesco Paoli (Fleshgod Apocalypse).

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Night Demon-Curse Of The Damned



Century Media Records
2015

"Curse Of the Damned" is the long-awaited debut album from Ventura, California's Night Demon. Following in the footsteps of the phenomenal Night Demon this recently-released full-length LP is also the soundtrack to the non-motion-picture graphic novel "Blood Sacrifice". At least that is what the booklet reports. "Soundtrack" or not this 47-minute plus CD (which I am listening to as we speak with the aptly-title anthem "Heavy Metal Heat" just killing it!) is an absolute stone cold-sensation from killer opener "Screams In The Night" (a rocket-fueled speed metal number that beautifully rips your head off!) through album closer (and "bonus track") "Road Racin'". Everything that there was to love about the group's independently-released 2012 EP "Night Demon" has been modified and amplified here on this 12-track CD with the wide-open range of influences sure to appeal to anyone and everyone claiming to be a heavy metal maniac! On Night Demon's first album (available on CD as well as LP friends!) lead vocalist/bassist Jarvis Leatherby channels a young Sean Harris (Diamond Head) while his bandmates (guitarist Brent Woodward and drummer Dustin Squires) help navigate "Curse Of The Damned" through wave after wave of N.W.O.B.H.M-inspired & influenced numbers with the likes of Iron Maiden, Saxon and Judas Priest resting comfortably next to bands such as Angel Witch, Satan, Jaguar, U.F.O., (early) Demon, Grim Reaper and the aforementioned Diamond Head! That said, it's not just the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement that gives this album such a bright glow as influences such as Dokken, Motörhead, Kiss, Riot, Black Sabbath, Metallica and even Budgie squirm their way into the mix making "Curse Of the Damned" a must-own! Naming just one or two fave numbers would be a near impossible task when it comes to a release like this one as there is really no dub to be had and whether we are talking about the title track (80's metal anyone?) or a number like "Save Me Now" (more magical 80's metal that features sort of spooky guest keyboards from one Owen Bucey) you simply can't go wrong! Heavy rock and roller "Satan" actually reminds me of the band Satan only with some (again early) Demon tossed in for good measure while "Full Speed Ahead" plays like a time-honored/"We're your biggest fans guys and we're not afraid to show it!" tribute to N.W.O.B.H.M. heroes Diamond Head! Yes, "Full Speed Ahead" does dip into the likes of Maiden and Priest, but it's Diamond Head all the same (as if there is anything wrong with that!). Black Sabbath is somewhat mirrored in the epic metal track "The Howling Man" and on "Run For Your Life" (a sweet as can be speed-rocker with fantastic gang vocals from Blade Killer members Jonathan Rubio and Carlos Gutierrez!) we're treated to some faint hints of what could just be "Kill Em All" days Metallica! And yet despite all of these influences a band like Night Demon sounds remarkably like no one other than Night Demon. All of these different influences simply blend together like the perfect after-dinner cocktail with the sweet taste of  "Mastermind", "Killer" and "Heavy Metal Heart" not once disguising the higher-than-average alcohol content of this "Drink it up lads as if there is no tomorrow!" intoxicating party-pleasure! There are no after-affects with this mix though! I mean other than the fact that you might find some of these songs stuck in your head even days later! Theirs is the sound of sincere, honest-to-goodness true/traditional heavy metal and just like 1999-era Lex Luger it is "The Total Package"! Catchy, hook-heavy and highly enjoyable/addictive heavy metal like this has few equals and just going by a memorable number like "Run For Your Life" this debut album has hit release written all over it! Anytime you come to the party this prepared you know that there is nowhere to go but up so predicting big things for the trio Night Demon isn't rocket science! No bones about it these guys will be huge soon enough so now is the best time to join in on the festivities! You can find these guys online at their Facebook page here
or at their official site here. As far as picking up a copy of "Curse Of the Damned" for yourself goes either check out their webpage or head to places like Amazon or Ebay. Rightly so this album is everywhere
so there is no good or justifiable reason why you shouldn't own a copy of this A+ masterpiece by weeks end!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Defyance-Reincarnation

See note below*
Minotauro Records
2015

Well, well, well what do we have here? Is it really you Defyance? Apparently so. Yes, it's the same Defyance that was covered here, here and here. And now they are back with their forth full-length album in "Reincarnation"! For Defyance (a U.S. progressive metal/power metal whose roots can be traced all the way back in time to 1989!) the title of their upcoming release on Minotauro Records could not be any more accurate if they tried! "Reincarnation" is a spot-on title as the sound here reflects a band that has been reborn while A) Retaining everything that made them so fantastic to begin with (the fact is the style and substance of this Iowa-based band has never been called into question!) and B) Evolving to the next great plain of existence! And as a reborn act they have the majestic quality of a newborn. They have that extra sparkle that comes from experiencing a new life form for the first time. "Reincarnation" is the past and present colliding together and it is (simply put) great. Well, not just "great". It's more like Tony the Tiger "GREAT!!!!" but with an extra helping of sugar heaped on in the form of two bonus covers! Those who be Fifth Angel's "Wins Of Destiny" and Riot's "Sign Of The Crimson Storm" and as a fan of all three of these bands (Riot, Fifth Angel and Defyance!) all I can say is "Wow"! It's something special how album number four for a band such as Defyance rolls out bone-snapping winners like the one-two punch that is opener "High Ground" and the LP's second track, "Rangers Lead The Way", while balancing out the back end of "Reincarnation" with the two smashing cover choices! Between the sheets you're likely to discover gems like the slow rocker "Devil Dogs" and the emotional "Deeds Not Words". Even if I can't quite put my finger on what makes "Reincarnation" so wicked to begin with (Is it the material on hand or the way in which it's delivered? Is it the band members themselves (as individual standouts) or is the way these four emerge as a collective? Or is it simply a case of all of the above and then some?) the end result is always the same. "Reincarnation" just rocks! The classy nature of a number like "Love Honor More" mixes so well with the classical structure of "From The Ashes" that you can't help but feel as if this release was custom crafted by some mystical force. The individual songs pack plenty of punch as "singles" while the album as a whole flows effortlessly from the speakers and into your eardrums where they are gobbled up in glorious delight! From the same four original (read: AWESOME!) band members that gave us the great "Time Lost" we are treated to one of 2015's best power metal releases and it doesn't get any better than this! Maybe we should just stop the competition this year and just award this four-piece the title already? Frankly, this one's going to be hard to top my friends. Unfortunately though it looks as if most of you will be waiting until spring time to find that out. At least that time frame is the last I heard for this album's release date, but it will be well worth the wait. All eight of the new numbers are near perfect in form and execution with the two aforementioned cover songs nicely rounded out by a original demo version of "Passing Of The Night". Said number original appeared on the group's 2002 effort, "Transitional Form", and the rougher version presented here easily fits the overall feeling of Defyance's latest work. Quite obviously I highly recommend  the album "Reincarnation" with the though process that this CD should really appeal to all fan's of U.S. power metal as well as our readers out here in cyberspace that just love high-quality progressive power metal! For updates on this release be sure to follow Minotauro Records online here and be sure to bookmark their official site right here.

*Album artwork presented here may or may not reflect end product.

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Free Metal Monday: Wacken Metal Battle Canada Compilation Vol. 3


Today's Free Metal Monday offering is a real slam dunk! How about a free compilation with over 80 tracks? Sounds good right? For those of you who don't know all the details of Wacken Metal Battle Canada I've provided part of the press release below. Otherwise sit back and enjoy this LOADED compilation...

Official press release:
   
Wacken Metal Battle Canada is part of an international competition where band's from across the country iVictoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City will battle each other for one to be selected and join over 30 other countries for an international battle of the bands at the world's largest outdoor metal festival Wacken Open Air, which has been taking place in Wacken , Germany for the last 25 years. Toronto's Crimson Shadows (2013 winners - video at Wacken) and Montreal's Mutank (2014 winners - video at Wacken) have had that honour playing in front of thousands. This year's festival will be taking place from July 30th to August 1st.

 Download this HUGE compilation here:

https://wackenmetalbattlecanada.bandcamp.com/album/wacken-metal-battle-canada-compilation-vol-3

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

MarysCreek-Incubic Twin

MarysCreek Records
2014

Swedish heavy & hard rock? Now, where have we heard that phrase before? Seriously though this Linköping , Stockholm-based collective is merely one of what seems like BILLIONS of sweet heavy & hard rock to come out Sweden and with a sophomore album on the horizon this EP seems to be just a taste of what's to come. And as an appetizer it does the job just fine! It makes you want to lick your fingers clean and leaves you dreaming happy thoughts about the meal that's to come! For the heavy hard rockers involved with MarysCreek it's all about the mighty riff as they offer up their slick take on modern hard rock/heavy metal. There's a subtle hint of melancholy that bristles throughout MarysCreek's EP and when that combines with the band's meaty trash rock licks and pop sensibilities it's simply one glorious explosion of prime-time rock and roll as that is 100% Swedish and 100% MarysCreek! Here's hoping the band's next studio set is every bit as slick and wicked as this EP is!

https://www.facebook.com/maryscreek 

http://maryscreek.com/

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Grenouer-Unwanted Today

Mausoleum Records
2015

Due to drop on March 20th, "Unwanted Today" is the eighth full-length album from long-standing band Grenouer. That's not even taking into account the various demos, EPs, odd single and splits that this four-piece outfit has released since first forming way back in 1992. How that makes this band a "New breath of modern rock-metal from Saint Petersburg, Russia" then is beyond me! As odd as a opening/rant as that might be those are the exact words that open up Grenouer's promo for album number eight so it does seem a bit strange to toss out a word like "new" in regards to a band that first formed when I was still in high school! Maybe just maybe this Saint Petersburg band, with their Dualized (Mnemic, Voodoo Highway, Travis Cold) -produced new 13-track album here, is talking about their latest style as the Metal Archives has them taking the leap from thrash/death metal early on to industrial metal before finally landing squarely on rock/metal map that stands before us? If so that would make a bit more sense as (frankly-speaking here friends) that seems to be a trend for quite a few of Russia's more long-standing acts. The pogoing from one genre to another that is! Which brings us all the way back around to the latest "styling and profiling" sound that is Grenouer. Let's have more of the promo material if we can as the following statement is actually more telling about this band's latest LP. "The vocals reminiscent of Devin Tonwsend type prog-metal, while the guitars produce radical riffs not unlike Meshuggah" we read from Lukas Hendrik over at Rock Hard Magazine and (true to form) that's as good of a start as any for "Unwanted Today". Lead singer Andrey Ind (ex-C.O.D., ex-Tartharia) does have some Devin Tonwsend going for him, but quite honestly I prefer Grenouer's front-man over his "name that vocalist influence" counterpart! The truth is Andrey has a nice range going on and he breaths life into what can often-times be a difficult form of metal to fully embrace. Modern metal like this has it's own kind of built-in audience (of which I'm admittedly not a regular attendant) and there are plenty of sales figures to back that fact up. But, while I love the emotional vibe of rock/metal like this it always feel a tad artificial to me. That's not necessarily the case with these rockers. Together with Alexander Motor (guitars), Al Bolo (bass) and Danny D (drums) our main man Andrey cuts a nice path across Russia's cold landscape with material that is warmly-inviting. When Grenouer is in deep those ill feelings I have for modern metal lighten up even if I would be hard pressed to point towards any particular stand-out numbers. Even with all the special guests that invited special guests that Grenouer invited to the party it still strikes me that much of "Unwanted Today" blurs together. For the curious those guests would be Eddy Cavazza (John Wetton, Anthony Phillips) on guitar along with vocalists such as Demian Von Dunkelwald (Overunit Machine) and Enrico "Erk" Scutti (Figure Of Six). There is even an opera singer in Dmitriy Yankovskiy (Helicon Opera, NeoClassic Project) which one would think might add a little zing to the mix. Sadly it's still just Grenouer doing their thing. So, what does all of that exactly mean in the end? Well, as an outsider looking in the album "Unwanted Today" made for a pleasant enough listening experience even if it was one which I'm not likely to indulge in ever again. For everyone else it would simply depend on how much you were into the whole rock/modern metal sound. For those who are crazy about the scene a release like "Unwanted Today" might be worth a listen. But even then it's not likely that this will be the album to push over Grenouer over the hump. Just like every other form of metal the one that Grenouer is stepping into is way over-crowded! It's takes a lot for your voice to be heard with thousands of other bands vying for attention especially when you are late to the main event to begin with! That's not to say that Grenouer cannot pick up a few more fans along the way. They likely will especially with a label like Mausoleum Records behind them. But as far as being the next big thing in modern metal? I'd take a pass on that bet friends.....

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tysondog-Cry Havoc

Rocksector Records
2015

Friends, family and fellow followers of all things loud and proud (and flat out the almighty f**kin' power cord!) this LP before us is hand's down the most eagerly-awaited releases of 2015! Or at least it was for me! Let me explain. Back in May of 2012 I covered this N.W.O.B.H.M. band's EP, "Hammerhead 2012", and at the time I made the remark that I hoped it wouldn't be too long before we would see a new full-length release from these Newcastle heavy metal merchants. Needless to say, "Cry Havoc" is long-overdue! Where have you been hiding Tysondog? Why the long wait? What took so long between then and now? I do have to wonder. The thing is that's neither here nor there. "Cry Havoc" is finally here and therefore we move on to the bigger question of the day. Was "Cry Havoc" worth the extra long wait? Is it everything that a long-time N.W.O.B.H.M. fanatic/Tysondog fan could ask for? For this N.W.O.B.H.M. fan/collector the answer is short and sweet. Yes! Yes, "Cry Havoc" is everything I could have hoped for and yes, even more! From the material to the overall production everything is just so right about Tysondog's latest. So much so in fact that it's almost hard to believe that this band goes all the way back to the early eighties and yet sounds this INVIGORATING and overall INTENSE! Credit that to the production job if you must seeing as it was handled by the one and only Jeff "Mantas" Dunn (founding member of Venom of course, but also with Mantas and Mpire of Evil!). Or at least it starts there as "Cry Havoc" feels like a release that Mantas would have his hands all over! And that my friends is a damn fine thing as Mantas is HUGE when it comes to REAL metal! Working with the material at hand (which is beyond heavy as it hammers away at your eardrums from the word go!) Mantas took what Tysondog had (strong as steel material!!!) and presented it in such a perfect way! Everything from John "Clutch" Carruthers's commanding lead vocals to the fabulous (read: shredtastic!) solos of new lead guitarist Steve Morrison (Judas Rising) is spot on and from the moment this one opens with the heavier than hell title cut it's all over! You are hooked from the start and treated to a very rare kind of album where traditional heavy metal, N.W.O.B.H.M., speed metal and even Motörhead-inspired heavy rock all combine in absolute perfect harmony! With Kev Wynn (bass), Paul Burdis (lead guitar) and Phil Brewis (drums) rounding out this mad pack of dogs things get nice and hot the move this long player moves along! With their N.W.O.B.H.M. roots still firmly in tack the band is never shy about branching out into new areas of hard rock and heavy metal as "Cry Havoc" showcases a seemingly reborn band infused with additional elements/influences such as AC/DC, Soundgarden (or really the very early days of Soundgarden when they were still heavily into all things post-Black Sabbath!), the aforementioned Motörhead and even early (solo) Rob Zombie/White Zombie! Lest you think that Tysondog is simply trying to appeal to modern day tastes pretty much everything about this five-piece band comes as as sincere, real and downright-honest with "Cry Havoc" sounding as close to classic metal as you can get! If you take anything away from this new release (other than how remarkable it is that they sound stunningly fresh!) it should be how Metal the album is compared to what's on the market these days! Pound for pound this LP is is as Metal as it gets which only helps to reaffirm the fact that there has never been a better time to be a N.W.O.B.H.M. fanatic then now! Due to drop on on April 20, 2015, "Cry Havoc" is yet another great release from a record label that is also home to such great N.W.O.B.H.M. bands as Avenger, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Quartz. "Cry Havoc" includes 12 brand new songs with not a dub to be found amongst the lot! You can actually hear one of this LP's cooler tracks, "Shadow of the Beast" (which features some prominent bass playing by Kev Wynn!) right here:https://soundcloud.com/rocksector/tysondog-shadow-of-the-beast although like I said there really isn't a bad song to be had here! "Cry Havoc" opens with the grueling punishment that is the title cut and from there it just heavy hitter after heavy hitter with solid tracks such as "The Needle",  "Parasite" and "Nemesis" leaving little room for doubt as far as the integrity and intensity if 2015-era Tysondog! Doom metal fans should enjoy "Into The Void" as it has tasty classic metal licks sandwiched in-between vocals that out Ozzy even the Ozz man himself while "Playing with Fire" takes the harsher side of Judas Priest and gives it a heavy dose of heavy rock and roll! Speaking of the harsher things in life (or at least when it comes to the boiling hot "Cry Havoc"!) there is the number "Relentless" which could be seen as the missing link between old Tysondog and Pantera!  And that's just a sampling of what's in store with "Cry Havoc"! The album, which is available for pre-order now as a special CD Fanpack direct from Rocksector Records at www.rocksector.com, is really the next evolutionary step for a band early releases balanced hard rock and heavy metal/speed metal so perfectly. It's N.W.O.B.H.M. after getting a face lift and a shot of adrenalin and at the end of the day it's simply an album that I can't help but ramble on and on about! "Cry Havoc" is not only a essential pick-up for fans of Tysondog, but it's a mandatory must-buy for those who still claim to love tried and true heavy metal and everything that it represents!

Review of Tysondog's "Hammerhead 2012":
http://metalmark.blogspot.com/2012/05/tysondog-hammerhead-2012.html

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

N.W.O.B.H.M. Wednesday: Venom-From the Very Depths

Spinefarm Records U.K.
2015

If you do a quick subject search on the term "Venom" on our site you are likely to see that that particular word appears in plenty of our reviews. As far as being an influence on other bands (from punk metal groups to the extreme metal variety) there are few acts like Venom. Save for maybe Motörhead (a band which, along with outfits such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, actually influenced Venom) there are not too many bands that can claim to have such far-reaching influences and overall impact on really HEAVY metal. That being the case and all (and seeing as both Metal Mark and I really enjoy Venom's early albums) you would be forgiven for assuming that HMTM has covered Venom time and time again. After looking through our archives though in anticipation of this review it seems as if we haven't really talked about the band since our first N.W.O.B.H.M. Wednesday coverage of them and that was actually back in mid-March of 2011! For the curious I've provided the link to that article at the bottom of this review, but I still admit to being somewhat puzzled by that realization. Whatever the case, Cronos (Venom's main-man and the group's lead singer/bass player) returns with studio album number fourteen(!), "From the Very Depths". The group's first full-length release since 2011's "Fallen Angels", "From the Very Depths" features 14 tracks and has a total run-time of 51:51. Now, two further admissions before we move on. First, "From the Very Depths" is the first new album from Venom that I have heard in it's entirety since 1984's "At War with Satan". Sure, I've heard my fair share of misc. Venom songs along the way and I've had other album's from this N.W.O.B.H.M. outfit played for me. But, as far as hearing Venom's other albums start to finish and all that jazz? Well, it just hasn't happened. All of which ties into point number two. This CD is actually the first new Venom album that I have picked up since snagging a re-release of 1982's "Black Metal" on CD about a month or so back. It just so happened that I was at my local music, movies and video games store (no names please unless they want to pay me for advertising! LOL!) and on a whim I picked the group's latest release up. Quite honestly I had read mixed reviews for this album before getting it with a trade-in slip, but I had also heard one the album's stand-out tracks in "Long Haired Punks" and I figured "Why not?". As others have rightly pointed out, "Long Haired Punks" exists somewhere between the sloppiness of "Welcome to Hell"-era Venom and the music of Discharge. In no way is that a bad thing if you ask me, but it does stand at the fore-front of one of this album's greatest arguments/chief points. "From the Very Depths" is oftentimes Venom sounding more like other bands than themselves. Or if you will, "From the Very Depths" is not the Venom of old, but rather Venom just being Venom (or Cronos just being Cronos!) and playing music for their own sake with the mentality that definitive and distinct genres be damned! The very cool track that is "The Death of Rock N Roll" pays homage to that ideal as Cronos and company (guitarist Rage and drummer Danté) maximizes the impact that is punk rockin' metal by pumping it up with large amounts of heavy rock & garage metal! The result is spectacular and to me this one number makes the price of admission justified!! Meanwhile we have the title cut of album number fourteen having been made especially for old Venom fans! Insane solos combine with crushing riffs and the over-the-top vocals of Cronos for what just might be classic Venom for the new age of metal. Glorious! With "Smoke" channeling the doom influences of old (Sabbath anyone?) and Venom's ability to slip their other early influences such as Motörhead and Judas priest into this album's mix there ends up being more here to love then hate! Crushing numbers such as "Stigmata Satanas" give hope that Venom has turned the corner while the evil "Crucified" further shows how the addition of guitarist Rage and drummer Danté has really paid off! While Rage might not be Mantas his soloing is still good enough to make a speed metal track like "Grinding Teeth" truly rattle and shake! Yes, other friendly folks before me have rightly pointed out how songs like "Grinding Teeth" and "Rise" bear a slight resemblance to thrash metal bands like Testament and there are even moments when Venom might just be trying to emulate (early) Metallica and (to a lesser point) Slayer. But, for what it is (and thanks in no small part to the enduring growls of Cronos) it's not all that shabby as even a thrash metal version of Venom has a lot to offer for those willing to take a chance! Moving on, "Crucified" isn't this album's only evil-sounding track as the evilness of "Evil Law" is spelled out in the song's title! Even if it isn't all that good it's still a distinctive Venom song which nobody can deny! It's as cheesy as the Venom of old which kind of counter-balances it's overall stupidity! Of the 14 tracks here on album number 14 there are 10 or 11 that are worthwhile (album closer "Rise" being one that I happen to like even if the consensus is still out on it!) with some cuts ("Overture", "Mephistopheles" and "Wings of Valkyrie") simply screaming "FILLER"!  Had Venom trimmed a few of the weaker tracks out of their new album it would have possibly been seem as a bit of a comeback for these N.W.O.B.H.M./black metal warriors. But, even as an album where you will want to have the skip button handy it's still a worthwhile release and I for one do not regret trading for it on CD.


Metal Mark and I talk about Venom:
http://metalmark.blogspot.com/2011/03/nwobhm-wednesday-venom.html

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seth-Seth (2CD Complete Discography)

Minotauro Records
2014

Straight up front class I've just got to say that this review is long overdue. And the reasoning behind that early morning admission reads a little something like this. As deep and expansive as this career retrospective is for Boston's Seth the actual music in question here is twice as explosive and captivating! Frankly-speaking there is far too much (top-of-the-shelf) hard rock and heavy metal here to cover in one sitting! Or if you will, "Seth" is one of those rare treats where you could write a full-pledged article on the band and still not even scratch the service as far as just what it is about these rockers that made them so great! And yet the band name Seth remains largely unheard of which is absolutely criminal! I was only a year old in 1974 and yet there was Boston's Seth, lead by the incredible voice of guitarist (occasional bassist/keyboardist) Gerald "Gerry" Stafford, starting out of the gate on a pathway towards personal glory. Yes, there were covers likely to be found in the band's initial start, but cover tracks merged with original compositions and over time a band like Seth covered an unreal amount of territory. Seventies hard rock mixed with progressive rock and the blues plowed headlong into the emerging N.W.O.B.H.M. sound. There was commercial rock and even folk with every new avenue bearing the fruits of their labors! For Seth it was seemingly all too easy as the strong songwriting and catchy melodies found on this 2CD set suggest. Covering everything the band did from the seventies to modern day, with the 2014 recording of "The Abbey of Thelema" posting proof-positive that a band like Seth never runs dry when it comes to top-tier material(!), "Seth" is jam-packed with material with each CD here filled to maximum capacity! With their self-titled LP from 1980 opening up this wonderful set I was hooked from the very start and left wondering out loud who it was that a group like this wasn't a bigger threat to eighties rock radio? Along with unreleased singles, demos, live material, home recordings and rehearsal tapes it's all here on this expansive set with Minotauro offering these Boston rockers the royal treatment! You'll find the band's history covered in the booklet as you find out more about not just band founder/chief songwriter Gerry Stafford, but fellow bandmates (and talented musicians in their own right!) Rich Santapaga (bass, synthesizer, and vocals) and Dom Marrtignetti (drums, percussion, and vocals). The mini LP gatefold Japanese-style paper-sleeve packaging holds a nice poster featuring colorful live shots of the band in action and thanks to the extra polishing that fantastic album received "Seth" rolls out of your speakers in grand fashion! I've provided a link below with the full track listing, but suffice to say  there's very little about this 2CD career-spanning collection not to like! For this sadly-forgotten band this double CD release is a start, but really Seth deserves all the high-praise and recognition that they can get! For fans of 70's hard rock, (light) metal and prog I simply cannot recommend this package enough! This Boston band ruled the local scene in the late 70s and early 80s and this magnificent 2 CD set helps show you exactly why that was and why you should not only care about Seth, but be vocally loud about their contributions to hard rock and progressive rock! On sale now for the incredible low price of only $16.90 (it's worth it's weight in gold if you ask me!!!!) you can now hold a piece of history in your own hands by heading here: http://www.minotaurorecords.com/#!cds/cnec And (as promised) for those who might want to check out this sweet set's full track listing in advance (and why not as it packs a real punch!) I suggest going right here: http://www.minotaurorecords.com/#!product/prd2/3279545621/seth-2-cd-complete-discography

PS: While there really is too much in the way of material here to cover in advance I would like to add the following note. Musically-speaking there is strong material here that would appeal to fans of Rush as well as fans of Kiss, Judas Priest and even Diamond Head! Seth were nothing short of masters when it came time to crafting heavy rocking songs and they covered so much ground that this 2CD set should easily appeal to just about everyone who values real rock and guitar-oriented hard rock. Any band that can move this easily between clean hard rock and complex progressive rock is worth investing time in and in a day and age where everything retro is suddenly hip a trio like Seth should be on the tip of every one's tongues!

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