Archive for June, 2008

It’s nice having my wife home on vacation from work…..today she decided to take the kids to the lake for the day to give me a break. I’m the stay-at-home Dad during the day and then I work at night, my quiet time is in the dark hours of the late night/early morning when everyone is sleeping.

So what do you do when the wife and kids leave for the day and all you have is the dog? You listen to as much music as possible!

Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008): There is so much debate on this album but I can’t stop listening to it, there is just so much to take in at once. Overall, I like it.

Motley Crue – Saints Of Los Angeles (2008): Playing this non-stop since Tuesday and I like it but there are a few songs that are filler…..then again, every Motley Crue album has some filler!

Night Ranger – Hole In The Sun (2008): Finally getting a release Tuesday (July 1) but it’s been out for about a year in Europe and Japan. It’s a more modern flavored AOR affair but there are still a lot of the trademark Night Ranger sound.

Infernophonic – Spark It Up (2007): Solid female fronted Hard Rock with a lot of guitars. I’ve been enjoying this all week so thanks to the band for sending it in, a review to come soon.

The Doors – Morrison Hotel (1970): I like me some Classic Rock and I have been a big Doors guy since I was a kid. How could you not turn on the local Rock station and not hear The Doors back in the early ’80s? This is my favorite Doors record, favorites here are ‘Blue Sunday’, ‘Ship Of Fools’, ‘Land Ho!’, ‘The Spy, ‘Indian Summer’. I used to sing ‘Indian Summer’ to my oldest daughter when she was a newborn.

The Doors – Waiting For The Sun (1968): Keeping with the Doors kick, I pulled this album out just to hear ‘Spanish Caravan’, ‘Yes, The River Knows’ and ‘Five To One’ but I listened to the whole thing. I love the riff in ‘Five To One’, you know the one Ace Frehley borrowed for ‘She’?

Krokus – Metal Rendezvous (1980): I have been on a huge Krokus kick the last couple of weeks. Many people think this is the debut but it’s actually the band’s 4th record, it is the debut of Marc Storace on lead vocals though. ‘Bedside Radio’, ‘Tokyo Nights’, & ‘Heatstrokes’ were big time players on the old boombox back in the day!

Armed Forces – Let There Be Metal (1984): I was looking through some old Metal Forces magazines from back in the day (I collect those too!) and the ad for this Brooklyn, New York Metal band stared me right in the face! I remembered this from my record store experiences as a kid but I have never heard it. Thanks to the good people at Vibrations Of Doom who were kind enough to post the E.P. up for everyone’s listening pleasure.

Armed Force – Heavy Artillery (1986): Well…..after a demo, Armed Forces split and became Armed Force. Original band name, huh? Lineup change at singer and drummer from the Armed Forces days and the sound is more Hard Rock than the E.P. Thanks again to Vibrations Of Doom who have this album up also for everyone’s listening pleasure.

My first concert of 2008 was last Friday night…..IRON MAIDEN!!!!

Not a bad way to start the concert season. I had been planning to go to the show for months but I never picked up a ticket. Money has been tight lately so a $75+ ticket for Maiden seemed excessive so I waited until the week before the show to grab my seat. I had been checking Ticketmaster weekly to see what kind of seats were still available, mostly grass lawn. The view from the lawn has been awful since the Comcast Center (formerly Tweeter Center and Great Woods before that) put actual seats on the lawn area, now the general admission section is just a waste of time. So about a week before the show I hit up Ticketmaster and found a single seat in Section 1, Row S, Seat 18 for around $75 total…..done!

I went up to the Comcast a little early because I knew the show sold well (Maiden always do in New England) and I didn’t know if there would be a long wait at the call window. No line, no waiting…..got my ticket and went over to the merchandise stand for a shirt. Most of the tour shirts were $35 but I need the fat size (2XL) because I’m a little out of shape so that cost $40. Nice tour shirt, has the front cover of the new greatest hits and all the countries on the back. There were some really nice trinkets there: Maiden soccer scarves, soccer jerseys for $125, a couple of pricey shirts over $50 and the usual assortment of tourbooks, keychains, and posters. I’m a KISS fan and they hit the fans with a wide array of goods that are not always of good quality and use. I’ve been a Maiden fan since the early days and I’m only now realizing what a true marketing goldmine the band has with the Iron Maiden logo, Eddie, and quality products…..people were buying 1, 2, even 3 shirts at a time because of the different Eddies.

Next on the pre-show agenda was to meet up with Justin and the crew from Raise Your Fists!.  Found the guys easily and I joined them for some beer and BBQ in the parking lot. Very nice to meet everyone, forgive me for not remembering all the names! These four guys are hardcore Maiden fans: two of the gents flew in for the show (one from Texas, one from California) and the foursome made their way from Boston an hour away. Obviously seasoned veterans at travelling to Maiden shows, the itinerary for this tour included some of the guys attending shows in L.A., New Jersey, Texas, & Mexico! Now that’s cool! Makes my trips around the Northeast following KISS look like a walk in the park! So after having a good time outside the arena, everyone went in. The Raise Your Fists! crew were in the pit in front of the stage (lucky bastards!) but I wasn’t more than 4 rows behind them, good seats all around.

First up was Lauren Harris, Steve Harris’ daughter. She opened with a cover of UFO’s ‘Natural Thing’…..very nice. The music was basically female fronted Hard Rock and Lauren gave a spirited performance. Aside from the UFO cover, I didn’t know any of the material but if I find her debut disc for a cheap price, I’ll check it out. One thing about Lauren Harris…..she’s hot! Clad in a black tanktop, painted on black leather pants, and barefoot…..this chick was smokin’ hot! She could have sang the telephone book and I wouldn’t have taken my eyes off her! High energy, good effort, on to dad’s band…..

Iron Maiden took the stage after their usual intro – UFO’s ‘Doctor Doctor’. The stage set was Powerslave themed with rotating backdrops (depending on the album), a moving lighting truss, and Eddie in his Powerslave & Somewhere In Time themes. My seat was on the right side of the stage in front of the riser/ramp that Bruce runs around on, I’d say I was about 25 feet from the stage with a perfect close view. Here’s the setlist:

  1. Intro – Churchill’s Speech
  2. Aces High
  3. 2 Minutes To Midnight
  4. Revelations
  5. The Trooper
  6. Waysted Years
  7. Number Of The Beast
  8. Can I Play With Madness
  9. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
  10. Powerslave
  11. Heaven Can Wait
  12. Run To The Hills
  13. Fear Of The Dark
  14. Iron Maiden
  15. Moonchild
  16. The Clairvoyant
  17. Hallowed Be Thy Name

Now it goes without saying that the band played flawlessly, even if they made a mistake or their performance was off, I would have never known because I was having such a great time. Take a look at that setlist, now that is some great music. Getting ‘Moonchild’ was a huge bonus and a definite highlight, my favorites of the set were ‘Fear Of the Dark’, ‘Aces High’, ’2 Minutes To Midnight’, ‘Powerslave’. Every song they played was a classic and, like everyone else, there were a couple of songs I wished they had played (‘Die With Your Boots On’ & ‘Flight Of Icarus’) but you just can’t complain with a set like this.

I was sitting five seats in from the aisle so there was a group of four to my left. The girl sitting next to me was somewhere in her mid-20s and a pure Maiden diehard…..and also some sort of dancer I assume because this chick moved like she worked with a pole. I’m not being mean or anything but this girl was dancing it up like a stripper, bumping and grinding to the pre-Maiden P.A. setlist, and she was also extremely good looking and very talkative. I always make friends at concerts so she ended up being my concert buddy for the night even with her man a seat away. As soon as the band hit the stage and launched into ‘Aces High’, we both lost our minds! Two complete strangers, arms around each other’s shoulders, metal horns up and screaming every word! This was the whole night until I blew my voice halfway through ‘Can I Play With Madness’! After I took ‘Rime’ off, the two of us launched into the rest of the set with Bruce…..we had a pretty good harmony thing going there for a while. Seriously, nothing is better than enjoying great Heavy Metal with complete strangers. Metal is something that binds us all together and creates a comraderie among strangers, I think my concert experience was that much better because I had a cool time with my new Metal friend. The two of us got some strange looks from the other three people she was with but it was all good fun!

Back to the band…..obviously they played great. Bruce Dickinson was in fine voice and it’s amazing really because this was the last North American tour stop and Bruce sounded like it was the first. I sat on the Janick Gers side of the stage so I got to see all of his flamboyant playing, as well as, a roaming Steve Harris. Unfortunately, Adrian Smith & Dave Murray kept to the other side of the stage most of the night. Too bad because I always like watching Dave Murray play, it’s always so effortless and the way he stands sometimes reminds me of Ace Frehley. (Note — I’m not saying Ace is better than Dave, obviously Dave is better.) Of course the maniac behind the kit, Mr. Nicko McBrain, was in fine form again…..he even broke part of his kit early in the set and we had a couple minute delay while they switched it out. Back to Bruce…..high energy, running all over the stage, hitting all the high notes and screams…..I felt like I was watching Bruce from back in 1988. Solid performance by the band all around, if anyone is planning on seeing the band on the European Tour, go for it! I can’t wait for another Maiden tour, they never disappoint.

 

Here are the first to promotional videos from Moonspell’s new album, NIGHT ETERNAL…..

‘Scorpion Flower’

‘Night Eternal’

Moonspell – Night Eternal (2008, SPV)

  1. At Tragic Heights
  2. Night Eternal
  3. Shadow Sun
  4. Scorpion Flower
  5. Moon In Mercury
  6. Hers Is The Twilight
  7. Dreamless (Lucifer And Lilith)
  8. Spring Of Rage
  9. First Light

Band Lineup:
Fernando Ribeiro – Vocals
Mike Gaspar – Drums
Pedro Paixão – Guitars & Keyboards
Ricardo Amorim – Guitars & Keyboards

Total Time = 44:20

Moonspell official website
Moonspell MySpace page
SPV USA

I haven’t picked up a Moonspell album in a long time, I think the last one was DARKNESS & HOPE (2001), and I haven’t given any of the albums I own a spin in a long time. When I started to read the press releases on the new album, NIGHT ETERNAL, I decided it was time to “re-discover” Moonspell and get prepared for a new album. Taking a listen back to older albums like DARKNESS & HOPE, WOLFHEART (1995), and IRRELIGIOUS (1996), I remembered the myriad of sounds and styles that the band has always used. On NIGHT ETERNAL, Moonspell have taken all those different styles and blended them into one of the most unexpected surprises of 2008!

Opening track ‘At Tragic Heights’ starts off with grand orchestration and a spoken word intro that continues to build until the hammer falls and the band kicks into high gear. The drums start to roll, the guitars get a little faster moving into the main riff, the keyboards build up the sound and then Fernando Ribeiro’s death metal growls take center stage. The music is sweeping and atmospheric, a very full heavy sound, a great start to set the tone for the entire album. The title track comes in next with another quiet intro that leads into the heavy guitar and Mike Gaspar’s double bass drumming. This song is absolutely driven by the drums mirroring the main riff and the growls and shrieks surrounded by the keyboard flourishes really helps enevelop the song with sound. ‘Shadow Sun’ sounds very gothic with a spoken word vocal that gives it an eerie/spooky feel until the drums kick in and Ribeiro growls through the speakers only to return to the spoken word chant. Three songs in and it’s very apparent that the vocals and drums are excellent but the guitars from Paixão & Armorim are heavy as hell intertwined with the keyboards.

Moonspell collaborates with former The Gathering singer Anneke Van Giersbergen on ‘Scorpion Flower’ to provide what is probably the most accessible song on the album, no surprise that it’s the first single and video. It’s a mid-paced song that reminds me of Giersbergen’s former band’s work on MANDYLION (1995) but with a deep male voice trading off with Anneke’s pure vocal beauty. Obviously I really enjoyed this song due to my allegiance to mid-90s Moonspell and The Gathering, I got into both bands around the same time. ‘Moon in Mercury’ immeadiately reminds us that Moonspell is powerful and the clean vocals from the previous track are replaced with a Death/Black Metal crush and driving guitars but with that atmpspheric keyboard. ‘Here is The Twilight’ continues the combination of the Gothic Metal mid-tempo spoken word with the Death Metal flourishes while ‘Dreamless (Lucifer And Lilith)’ sounds similar to ‘Scorpion Flower’ with it’s symphonic/gothic slower pace and swirling slower riffs. Back to a faster pace from the opening riff, ‘Spring Of Rage’ moves from mid-pace to fast pace and spoken word to growls giving the song continued variety. The last song, ‘First Light’, begins with an acoustic guitar/keyboard intro that moves into the main electric riff. Everything slows down for more spoken word from Ribeiro (until the bridge) where he uses his growls. The orchestration is superb with female choir vocals but not overbearing, a perfect blend.

Bottom Line:
The best Moonspell album I’ve heard in a long time! Every song is strong with a variety of styles blending into each other to provide a heavy, scary, and beautiful soundscape. Everything fits so well together: the different vocal deliveries, the guitars and keyboards blending together, the drums driving the album, and the orchestration enhancing each track. The album is dark and brooding at the same time it’s beautiful and grand, a solid blend of gothic with Death/Black Metal. One of the best albums so far this year!

Favorite songs: ‘Scorpion Flower’, ‘Night Eternal’, ‘At Tragic Heights’, Dreamless (Lucifer & Lilith)’, ‘Moon In Mercury’

Yes! It’s time for another Hunt!

The main reason I went out on the hunt was the new Motley Crue album, SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES, but I also wanted to cross off a few albums on the list of 2008 releases I’ve missed. Of course, I took my two daughters with me and, in the chaos of getting them out the door, I left my list on the kitchen table! Here’s what I grabbed…..

Motley Crue – Saints Of Los Angeles (2008) – $9.99: The new Crue was the main reason I left the house at 9:45am Tuesday to wait outside my local Newbury Comics. I had a coupon in had to get the album for $9.99 and I was more than happy to get the album on sale. Looking online today, I noticed that Best Buy had a limited exclusive with a bonus DVD for the same price! Ugh! Well, I’m not going out and buying the Best Buy version too because I don’t need the ‘Saints Of L.A.’ video, the press conference, and the two live tunes they did. I guarantee the band releases a new live DVD after this tour and this will be included.

Týr – Land (2008) limited edition – $12.88: I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of LAND from Napalm Records (thanks Napalm!) to review. I listened to LAND for weeks and posted a review but I wasn’t satisfied with owning the promo. The promo came in a cardboard slipcase (no booklet, etc.) and the music is watermarked with a few voiceovers on some of the songs saying, “You are listening to the new Týr album…Land.” Now I can’t have that! The limited edition is a double CD digipak with a bonus DVD of Týr’s performance at Wacken 2007 and a full color booklet of course.

Annihilator – Metal (2007) – $11.88: I have been waiting almost two years to pick this album up! METAL was available thru the official Annihilator website in late 2006 as a web-only purchase and then it got a proper worldwide release (except North America) on SPV in early 2007. Of course, the album finally got a U.S. release earlier this year but it was still around $18! There has been one copy floating around the local record store since last year and they just put a sale tag on it now…..bought! Saved myself $6 by waiting, I hope it was worth it because Annihilator is one of those bands I always look forward to hearing new material from.

Brimstone – Carving A Crimson Career (1999) – $10: This was actually a recent Ebay purchase. I recently got a press release from Metal Mind about their reissue of this album in the upcoming months, they have a licence to a lot of the Nuclear Blast back catalogue from the ’90s. Anyway, the cover art struck me as goofy so I wanted to hear the album. Picked this up for $6 plus $4 shipping…..now I don’t need the reissue…..I still haven’t given this a spin.

Heavy Metal In Baghdad DVD (2008) – $14.99: This was on my list for last week’s Judas Priest hunt but the local shop only stocked two and they were sold out when I got there. I always like hearing Metal from different parts of the world so this documentary on Iraq’s Acrassicauda was a must have. I bought the limited edition with 90 mins of bonus material.

A lot has been going on in my life this weekend so the posting was put on hold for a couple of days. I changed shifts at work for this week so my assistant can have a deserved vacation week, I am returning to my natural overnight shift (12am-8am) for one whole week. For ten years I worked the overnight shift and, almost two years ago now, the powers that be changed it to 6pm-2am. That means I have a little more time to listen to music this week! Here’s what’s been spinning the last couple of days:

Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008): Anytime the Priest returns with a new album, it’s a reason for me to celebrate. I’ve been a devout worshipper at the altar of Judas Priest since 1982 so I knew I would like the new record. The problem with NOSTRADAMUS isn’t the material, it’s the time. The album clocks in at over an hour and forty minutes! That’s serious listening. So far I like the record but I definitely need more time with it…..a lot more time…..

Moonspell –  Night Eternal (2008): I have had an advance of this album for a few weeks now and I am still listening to it. I haven’t really kept up with Moonspell in the last few years but NIGHT ETERNAL has me checking my Moonspell catalogue so I can fill a few holes. A review is coming…..

Headhunter – Parasite Of Society (2008): Destruction mainman Schmier has had Headhunter going since he left Destruction in 1990 and this is their fourth, and latest, album. It’s not Thrash like Destruction, more like Power Metal, and the vocals are a little hard to take. Review is coming…..

Heidevolk – Walhalla Wacht (2008): I’ve been getting into a lot of Pagan Metal/Viking Metal lately and Napalm Records has been very good to me by sending me some of the latest releases (Tyr, Hollenthon, Heidevolk, etc). The music is superb here, very grand sounding, but the lyrics are all in Dutch. That’s just a small complaint as I’ve just enjoyed listening to the music, it’s not always about the words. Review coming also…..

Iron Maiden – Fear Of The Dark (1993): I love this album! I remember back at the end of my high school years my friends and I were disappointed with 1990′s NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING. Maybe it was because SEVENTH SON was so good? When FEAR OF THE DARK came out in ’93, I waited in line for it at a local record store and got a free poster for my trouble! The title track is so good and ‘From Here To Eternity’ is just classic Maiden. A solid album that everyone forgets.

Iron Maiden – The X-Factor (1995) & Virtual XI (1998): The Blaze Bayley era! There were some good moments in the post-Bruce Maiden like ‘The Clansman’, ‘Man On The Edge’, ‘Sign Of The Cross’, ‘Futureal’…..those were the singles. I decided after the Maiden show Friday night that I had to revisit the Blaze era to give it a fresh listen. Hard to believe these albums were released 13 and 10 years ago respectively.

Krokus – Rock The Block (2003): Marc Storace returns to the band after an 8 year absence and Fernando Von Arb is still pumping out boogie riffs this side of AC/DC’s Angus Young. This “reunion” is basically the Storace/Von Arb show but it was the best Krokus album since HEART ATTACK (1988). This would be one of my Top 10 of 2003.

Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon (2007): What was one of my Top 15 Albums of 2007 (#13) has now become an afterthought. I’ve barely listened to it since the new year and I didn’t even bother to review it. I’m preparing a post on albums I missed in 2007 that I’ve finally bought and I decided to revisit this record.

Kamelot – Ghost Opera (2007): Kamelot is one of my favorite bands and I have been listening to this album once a week since it came out. I decided to really give it a fresh round of spins so I can review it. Another album that made my Top 15 Albums of 2007 (#10), I would rate it higher today.

Journey – Revelation (2008): I really like this record and I’ve been giving this a lot of time on the stereo…..just the new songs mostly.

The Iron Maiden show was Friday night and I didn’t calm down until late Saturday. I had some work to do Saturday morning so I put the headphones on and played some various Maiden tracks:

’22 Acacia Avenue’ (1982) – One of the best songs off THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST and a great live tune off LIVE AFTER DEATH. If they had played this the other night at the concert I would have gone mental! Wait…..I did go mental!

‘Flash Of The Blade’ (1984) – POWERSLAVE is in a tie right now for my favorite Maiden album of all time and this song is one that I can’t hear enough of.

‘Blood Brothers’ & ‘Brave New World’ (2000) – BRAVE NEW WORLD was an awesome reunion album and I saw the show twice that tour. I always thought that these two songs came off the best live.

‘The Clansman’ (1998) – Epic song from the Blaze Bayley led VIRTUAL XI. I really dug it when it came out but I thought it sounded better when Bruce sang it live when I caught the Ed Hunter Tour in Boston in ’99. Probably one of the best epics of Maiden’s career.

‘Die With Your Boots On’ (1983) – Had to have one off PIECE OF MIND (tied with POWERSLAVE for my fave Maiden platter) and I always look for the band to play this in concert. Last time I heard this live was when the band came to the Worcester Centrum with Dio and Motorhead on July 21, 2003.

‘Fear Of The Dark’ (1993) – Everytime I hear this song, I get chills. The band played it the other night at the show and I was lucky to have Bruce on the riser right in front of me bellowing it out. Probably in my Top 5 Maiden songs of all time.

‘Sanctuary’ (1980) – Probably my favorite Paul D’ianno track with the band, it just sounds dangerous.

 

I’m taking Heavy Metal Addiction on the road tonight to the Iron Maiden concert in Mansfield, Massachusetts at the Comcast Center. I took a personal day from work a while ago but I only just picked up my ticket last week from Ticketmaster: Sec 1, Row S, Seat 18…..that’s about 15 rows back because there’s a little pit area in front. I’m too old for that.

I may be flying solo tonight but I’m supposed to meet up with some Metal brothers from Raise Your Fists! Hopefully, I’ll find them in the parking lot! Expect a review up this weekend but it’s Iron Maiden, how can the show be anything but excellent?

Hollenthon – Opus Magnum (2008, Napalm Records)

  1. On The Wings Of A Dove
  2. To Fabled Lands
  3. Son Of Perdition
  4. Ars Moriendi
  5. Once We Were Kings
  6. Of Splendid Worlds
  7. Dying Embers
  8. Misterium Babel

Band Lineup:
Martin Schirenc – Vocals, Guitars, Bass & Keyboards
Martin Arzberger – Guitars
Gregor “El Gore” Marboe – Bass & Backing Vocals
Mike Gröger – Drums & Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Elena Schirenc – Vocals

Total Time = 46:17

Hollenthon official website
Hollenthon MySpace page
Napalm Records

OPUS MAGNUM is my first introduction to Austrian symphonic death metallers Hollenthon but the band has been around since 1999. Hollenthon is the brainchild of Pungent Stench mainman Martin Schirenc and the band has released two albums: DOMUS MUNDI (1999) and WITH VILEST OF WORMS TO DWELL (2001). The band has been on somewhat of a hiatus while Schirenc has concentrated on Pungent Stench but, now that they have broken up, Schirenc has focused his attention toward OPUS MAGNUM.

There is a blend of styles here aside from typical Death Metal, some call it Melodic Death Metal, but I hear more orchestration and folk in the music while retaining a pure heaviness. ‘On The Wings Of A Dove’ is a perfect example. The song opens the album with a heavy guitar riff and manic double bass drums but with an accompanying orchestration that includes choir vocals, keyboards, and strings (that probably come from the keys). When you add the harsh vocals of Schirenc then heaviness of the music stands out. Being a new fan of this type of Metal, ‘On The Wings Of A Dove’ is the type of song that gives me the general idea of the direction the band is going with the blending of many different sounds. The old saying is “you only have one chance to make an impression” and Hollenthon has made a favorable impression right away. ‘To Fabled Lands’ slows down a little bit compared to the opener but it is still heavy due to the double bass and crashing cymbals. There are more prominent choir vocals that remind me of some of Hammerfall’s output from their first two albums. I really dig ‘Son Of Perdition’, it has this hook between the guitar and keyboards that gets the fist pumping. The keys are a little more prominent at times but that main riff sticks right in my head. There are some more solid background vocals but it’s the gruffness of the main vocal that stands out to me. The song slows in the middle for some clean female vocals (a Symphonic Metal staple) and then they are incorporated in to contrast and compliment the main vocal towards the end. It’s a little different compared to the rest of the album, ‘Sons OF Perdition’ has more of a Power Metal vibe to it.

‘Ars Moriendi’ starts with a heavy orchestration and some serious soprano highs from Elena Schirenc that are kind of like Tarja (ex-Nightwish). After the beginning, ‘Ars Moriendi’ is a guitar feast with Schirenc and Martin Arzberger shredding all over the place, including a really good solo, until the orchestration kicks back in towards the end of the song. The tempo slows a little on ‘Once We Were Kings’ and incorporates the keyboards into the main vocal and also includes the choir like backgrounds and clean female vocals. This is one of my favorite songs on the album and it displays the myriad of sound that Hollenthon is using just like the album opener, ‘On The Wings Of A Dove’. ‘Of Splendid Worlds’ is more of the same Death Metal heaviness mixed with a Nightwish type orchestration at the beginning and then the symphonic elements kick out for the verses revealing the harshness. Towards the middle of the song a cool piano comes in to accompany the guitar. ‘Dying Embers’ starts out a little slow, a little quiet, with a clean vocal but everything picks up again with the blazing guitars and bass pounding.

The surprise of the album is the 8 minute ‘Misterium Babel’, a song that experiments with a Middle Eastern/Indian style along with the harsher elements. The contrast between the softer, cleaner side versus the harsher, Death side really makes the song. There is a perfect blend of sound between the heaviness of the riffs and drums to the subdued percussion and almost trance chanted vocals. The orchestration and female soprano weaves in and out almost mysteriously as does a flute! I was surprised to hear a flute pop in around the 6:40 mark of the song but it is there and done within the confines of the Middle Eastern flavor. Absolutely the best, and most different, song on the album!

Bottom Line:
I have only begun to explore the more extreme sides of Metal, my normal genres of choice being Traditional/Power Metal and Hard Rock. During the last year, I have started to listen to more Death and Black Metal and all of the spin-off styles that accompany them: Symphonic, Folk, Melodic Death, etc. So, while I’m not an expert, I do know what I hear and what I hear on OPUS MAGNUM is really good. There are plenty of guitar riffs that totally crush and some serious double bass pounding to go with the gruff vocals but what sets this band/album apart is the will to experiment. The orchestration is not overbearing, it’s blended into the heaviness. The female vocals soar and provide a good contrast to the death growls. One of the things that usually turns me off to Death Metal is that I can’t understand what is being sung, the good thing is that Schirenc is understandable under all the layers of vocal aggression…..to me, a big plus. The production is really great: everything is crystal clear, blended together well, and not overdone. It’s hard to understand how a band like Hollenthon has slipped under my radar but I can assure you that I enjoyed OPUS MAGNUM enough to give me the kick to go find the band’s first two albums.

Favorite songs: ‘Misterium Babel’, ‘On The Wings Of A Dove’, ‘Sons Of Perdition’, ‘Once We Were Kings’

Black Rain – Innocent Rosie E.P. (2008, Thundering Records)

  1. Innocent Rosie
  2. Rock Your City
  3. Nasty

Band Lineup:
Swan – Vocals & Guitars
Max 2 – Guitars
Heinrich – Bass
Iann Lewis – Drums

Total Time = 12:37

Black Rain MySpace page
Thundering Records 

If you take a look at the band picture on the back of this E.P. it’s quite obvious that Black Rain plays sleazy, glam Hard Rock. This new French band has the look but do they have the sound to compete with the new wave of Glam bands mostly coming from Sweden? The answer is yes!

INNOCENT ROSIE is a teaser E.P. of three songs that will be found on their forthcoming album, LICENSE TO THRILL. The three songs are fast paced Hard Rock songs that remind me of newer Glam bands Wig Wam and Crashdiet with a major dose of Hanoi Rocks and Guns ‘N Roses. The music is there, the band is tight but the most glaring aspect of the band is lead singer Swan’s vocals. Talk about high pitch! Swan hits all the high notes channelling a Vinnie Vincent-era Mark Slaughter especially during ‘Innocent Rosie’ and the chorus of ‘Rock Your City’.

‘Innocent Rosie’ has the OTT vocals but it starts out with a cool guitar/drum intro that blends into a nice groove. For some reason, I hear a little Kix in there as well. Of all the songs, I like ‘Rock Your City’ the best. It has the best hook and some trace elements of GNR with some serious fret work and big gang vocals. ‘Nasty’ has a little more dangerous edge to it, a little more grit to the guitars and harder drum sound.

Bottom Line:
I’ll be honest, the current crop of new glam bands has left me a little cold to the whole revival because a lot of them just sound the same. Black Rain isn’t reinventing the Glam wheel so to speak but what they do they do well. The musicianship is there and Swan’s vocals are definitely a trademark that separates the band from the other bands on the scene. I want to hear the new album, three songs is hard to judge a band with. I’d like to see if Balck Rain does some different things in the mid-tempo/ballad range. They can obviously play the Hard Rock stuff well but how do they do slowed down? I would like to see how Swan’s high delivery translates to a ballad. It sounds like Black Rain has a good future in front of them in a crowded scene, let’s get the full-length out and hear what else they can do.

Favorite songs: I like all three but ‘Rock Your City’ is the best.

Before the CD Scavenger Hunt there was New Release Tuesday. I changed the name a while ago but I always head to the record stores Tuesday mornings for the sale prices on the new releases. So here we are again, another Tuesday and another great album…..

Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008) limited edition book – $35: A must have purchase! If there has been any one album hyped more aside from the new Whitesnake & the new Journey it’s this brand new concept album by the masters of Heavy Metal…..Judas Priest. NOSTRADAMUS has been streaming online for a good month now but I’m old school and I wanted to hear the album when I bought it. I had my choice of the regular 2 CD edition in the jewel case for $16 or pay double for the limited edition book. Is that even a choice? I’m a sucker for special packaging and limited editions so I spent the extra money. I hate to admit it but if the record store had the vinyl box set too, I would have dropped the credit card down for that one. Just a quick review…..this album is kicking my ass! I will have a proper review soon, I have to give this special attention and listening time but it’s a great album. I bought this at my local Newbury Comics record store and I received a free glass with the Nostradamus artwork on it. You can check that out at Newbury Comics.

 

It’s hard to believe that the last CD Scavenger Hunt was way back at the end of April but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been out on CD safaris! I have been visiting the local shops but money has been tight (for everyone I think!) so I have only been picking up the major releases and a couple of used ones along the way.

I re-read all the Scavenger Hunts from this year over the weekend and I found two glaring omissions:

Benedictum – Seasons Of Tragedy (2008) – $13: I picked this up back in March when it received it’s U.S. release. The album was released everywhere else in late January ’08 but I wasn’t paying import prices for a Rainbow cover that’s the bonus on the European release. I became a fan of the band when I heard UNCREATION (2006) so I agonized over a month & a half wait, LOL!

Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007) – $20: I picked this up back in March as well thru CD Inzane. The band are selling the album themselves thru their website but at a price of $25 (includes S&H), I found CD Inzane to have the best price with shipping and I was impressed by the quick delivery. My version is the limited edition version that the band is selling as they currently are without a label.

So now we’ve caught up on the really late CDs, lets move on to the rest that I’ve bought since the end of April…..

Sledgehammer Ledge – s/t (1992) – $20: I found out about Sledgehammer Ledge about a year ago when I found this album on CD Baby. I liked the samples so I added it to my wishlist and that was that. A couple of months ago, I decided to update my wishlist at CD Baby and I saw that this CD was out of print so I started checking Ebay. Turns out that this disc was going for $20-$30 at auction so I waited to see if CD Baby would restock. I finally got fed up and used BUY IT NOW to buy the album for $15 plus the $5 for shipping.

Dokken – Lightning Strikes Again (2008) – $13: Another case of the European edition being available before the U.S. release…..I ordered the Euro edition from an online shop I usually frequent but there was a stocking problem so i cancelled my order. With shipping, the total cost was going to be $20 but there was a bonus track called ‘Sunset Superstar’. I decided to wait the extra month and saved the seven dollars but it would have been nice to have had the Euro edition right away.

Brother Firetribe – Heart Full Of Fire (2008) – $10: I’ve been wanting to check out Brother Firetribe since 2006 when I read many positive reviews on their album FALSE METAL. I’ve never heard much fron the band except for a few samples and some songs at their MySpace page but I couldn’t pass up the sale price and I grabbed my copy when I picked up the new Dokken.

White Lion – Return Of The Pride (2008) – $13: I’m a sucker for ’80s Hard Rock bands that were big on MTV and White Lion is no exception. My high school years were filled with songs like ‘When the Children Cry’ and ‘Wait’ so I have a soft spot when it comes to White Lion. I waited to buy this album because I read mixed reviews but I found this a few weeks after it’s initial release with a sale sticker attached! It rang up $17 but the sale sticker got me $4 off! I still haven’t listened to it…..

Royal Hunt – Paradox II: Collision Course (2008) – $10: Another album that has been out in Europe and Japan since late 2007/early 2008 and didn’t get a U.S. release until the end of May! I wish these albums could get released in all the territories around the same time! I couldn’t pass up the sale price and I’ve been a Royal Hunt fan since 1997 so I’m very interested in how new frontman Mark Boals (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen) sounds.

Journey – Revelation (2008) – $11.88: If you’ve read the site before then you know I like me some good ol’ American AOR whether it’s Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Sammy Hagar, or Journey. I’ve always liked Journey since I was a kid and I have very vivid memories of the radio and TV ads for the Providence tour stop on the FRONTIERS tour with the big emphasis on the band’s name (JOURNEY!!!) and a montage of their hits. Anyway, the new album is a 3 disc set available exclusively thru Wal-Mart with the debut of new singer Arnel Pineda on the new album, a CD of re-recorded hits with Arnel, and a live DVD from Las Vegas 2008. That’s major value for such a low price!