CD Scavenger Hunt – July update

The Heavy Metal train keeps rolling to my 30th Anniversary of being a proud Metalhead (August 16th I turn 40!) and there is always plenty to buy! Lots of new releases, used CD treasure and great sales made of another productive, and expensive, month…..

Newbury Comics North Attleboro and Newbury Comics Warwick

Jorn Lande – Bring Heavy Rock To The Land (2012) – $13
Nile – At The Gate Of Sethu (2012) – $12
Machine Head – Unto The Locust (CD/DVD) (2011) – $15 used
Savage Messiah – Plague Of Conscience (2012) – $0 used

My first trip into the North Attleboro store was to take advantage of the sale price on the new Jorn Lande CD. Knowing it was out on Frontiers Records, it was an easy $20 but the sale price saved me $7. I didn’t have to run out for it because the label sent me the promo download but I always support my favorite artists and Jorn is one of the premier Metal singers out there. My second trip was to pick up the new Ozzy DVD and the new Nile album. When I got there, the two copies of the Speak Of The Devil ’82 DVD were sold out so I opted to take advantage of the “buy 1, get 1 free” sale on used discs…..I grabbed the last Machine Head album, Unto The Locust, and the new Savage Messiah record. The Machine Head cost me $15 used but I got the Savage Messiah free so what could have been $35 at regular price, or $23 used price, only cost the $15…..saved more than half on albums I needed. I snagged the new Nile on the way to the counter…..I never got into Nile back in the late ’90s but I’ve always wanted to pick up their 1998 debut full-length Amongst The Catacombs Of Nephren-Ka. Everytime Nile releases a new record, I get the same urge to buy up some of their CDs so I fired up Spotify this time to stream their back catalog…..real solid Death Metal with Egyptian themes…..and the aren’t Egyptian, they are from South Carolina! Saved $6 buying the day of release and got the deluxe version with the two bonus instrumentals.

Ozzy Osbourne – Speak Of The Devil (Live From Irvine Meadows ’82) DVD (2012) – $13
Icarus Witch – Rise (2012) – $16
HellYeah – Band Of Brothers (2012) – $12
Defender – They Came Over The High Pass (1999) – $2 used
Glenn Tipton – Baptizm Of Fire (1996/2006 reissue) – $3 used
Broken Teeth – Viva La Rock Fantastico (2009) – $4 used
Superjoint Ritual – A Lethal Dose Of American Hatred (2003) – $4 used
Agent Steel – Skeptics Apocalypse (1985/1998 reissue) – $5 used

My trip into the Warwick store in mid-July was to get the new Ozzy DVD because it was out of stock in North Attleboro. While I was there, I picked up the new Icarus Witch and HellYeah albums. Ozzy and HellYeah were on sale so I saved a few bucks but I had to pay full price for the new Icarus Witch…..it was a must buy because they are one of my favorite traditional Heavy Metal bands of the last 6 years and I’ve been following them since their first E.P. While I was there, I decided to grab a few used CDs that were low in price and I had put together in a certain section of the used Metal CD racks…..the Defender CD was nice and cheap for a Power Metal album and I’d been watching it for awhile, same with the Superjoint Ritual album, but I scored a great newer album with the used Broken Teeth CD. The Agent Steel CD was set aside in my hiding spot because I thought I already owned it but I didn’t and I grabbed the Glenn Tipton reissue because I passed on it when it came out in 2006. Baptizm Of Fire wasn’t that great of a record back when it was first released in 1996 but I can’t resist bonus tracks forever!

Luca Turilli’s Rhaposdy – Ascending To Infinity (2012) – $12

Is it Rhapsody, Rhapsody Of Fire or Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody? The whole Rhapsody name change saga is a big pain in the ass: first they were Rhapsody and I got into their Symphonic/Epic Metal, then 10 years into their career they got sued by another band named Rhapsody for copyright issues and they went on as Rhapsody Of Fire to avoid confusion. Now founding guitarist Luca Turilli has left on good terms and formed a new Rhapsody as Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody and Rhapsody Of Fire is continuing on their own path. Did you get all that? All I know is that I like the Metal and I have two band’s to get my fix from. I went to the North Attleboro store quick while running a few errands and I grabbed this because it was the last copy I saw…..they had stocked at least 6 or 7 when it came out and I grabbed the last one with the sale price tag on it to save $6.

Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue (2012) – $18
Running Wild – Shadowmaker (CD/DVD) (2012) – $18
Baroness – Yellow & Green (Deluxe) (2012) – $0
Testament – Dark Roots Of Earth (CD/DVD) (2012) – $16
Gojira – L’enfant Sauvage (2012) – $12
Crucified Barbara – The Midnight Chace – $0

Last day of the month and an awesome sale…..”Buy 2 get 1 Free on new & used CDs”. I got in the man-van (my rockin’ Kia Sedona!) and raced to North Attleboro when Newbury opened. Everytime I buy on one of these sales, the clerks always group like priced items together so I knew I had to pay a few extra dollars on a couple of CDs to get a similar one for free. Like the Jorn Lande album, I already had the digital promo of the new Crazy Lixx album from Frontiers but I wanted the actual CD for my collection and the new Running Wild disc has been on my list ever since Rock ‘n’ Ralf decided not to retire the band. Both of those CDs were regular price at $18 each but I scored the new Baroness double album for free. Yellow & Green just came out and I have the latest issue of Metal Hammer to thank for adding them to their free sampler CD, so I splurged on the deluxe packaged double disc album and saved the full $17 sale price ($22 regular). The new Testament album was the big release of the week so I bought the deluxe version on sale for $16, added the last copy of the new Gojira album that came out a few weeks ago (thanks again Metal Hammer!) and got the new Crucified Barbara CD for free and saved the full $10 sale price ($18 regular). I was going to buy the latest Dragonforce album that I didn’t get earlier in the year but I opted for the cheaper, and less available, option with Crucified Barbara.

Ebay

White Tiger – s/t (1986/1999 reissue) – $16 used
The Rods – Wild Dogs (1982/1997 reissue) – $12 used
Venom – Cast In Stone (1998) – $6 used

I got an Ebay alert for The Rods – Wild Dogs and I decided to finally try and win one of these CDs. I collect the now defunct German reissue label High Vaultage because of the genuine fan enthusiasm they put into each reissue, each one is chock full of bonus tracks, pictures and extensive liner notes. I noticed the same seller had a copy of Mark St. John’s post-KISS band White Tiger up for auction too so I bid and won on that as well. I added in the Venom album when I did some research and found out it was a 2CD set. All total with shipping was$34 for three albums I didn’t own.

Human Cometh

Human Cometh – HC II (2011) – $13

I was going through all my saved emails and I happened upon my email from the band Human Cometh promoting their second album, HC II. I ended up getting a promo download for review but I like to support the bands so, even though the band already sent me the digital download last year, I decided to go and ourchase the actual CD from the band’s website. Can’t beat any CD that has free shipping so I paid with Paypal and it was a done deal. Unfortunately, the CD hasn’t arrived in the mail yet but I checked and it’s on it’s way!

Total = $222

Total (year) = $1393

Average Price (per item) = $8.99

Total CDs (year) = 149

Total DVDs (year) = 5

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

Icarus Witch – Draw Down The Moon (2010)

Icarus Witch – Draw Down The Moon (2010, Cleopatra Records)

  1. Black Candles
  2. Aquarius Rising
  3. Reap What You Sow
  4. Dying Eyes
  5. Draw Down The Moon
  6. Serpent In The Garden
  7. Funeral Wine
  8. Haunting Visions
  9. The Ripper

Band Lineup:
Matthew Bizilia – Vocals
Jason Myers – Bass
Quinn Lukas – Lead Guitars
Steve Johnson – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Eric Klinger – Rhythm Guitars & session Drums
Jim Dofka – Guitars on Tracks 7 & 9
Keith Hurka – Drums on Track 9

Producers: Eric Klinger, Matthew Bizilia & Jason Myers

Country: USA

Total Time = 35:41

Icarus Witch
Icarus Witch official MySpace page
Cleopatra Records

There has been a resurgence in the Traditional Metal scene in the last few years and Icarus Witch has been right in the thick of things along with bands like Slough Feg, White Wizzard and Wolf trying to revive the old school Metal approach. I’ve been a fan of the band since their 2005 ROSES ON WHITE LACE E.P. and the band hasn’t disappointed so far, I’m an old school metalhead and I like the Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio influences Icarus Witch makes no excuses emulating. DRAW DOWN THE MOON is the band’s third full-length record and it definitely has more of a darker feel to it, a more Black Sabbath influence, but the basics are there: vocals, guitars, bass and drums. Icarus Witch has been known just to be a straightforward Metal band and that’s exactly what they do, they give you the basics and run with it. This being their third album, I expected a little more of an expansion to their sound.

The album starts off with the very Maiden influenced ‘Black Candles’, one of the few faster songs on the album. The first thing you notice right away is (now former) vocalist Matt Bizilia’s unique vocals, he has this high pitch dramatic wail that can either be eerie and cool or very annoying depending on your tastes. There are definitely times on DRAW DOWN THE MOON where I think Bizilia is too dramatic but that’s the point of the band’s style. ‘Aquarius Rising’ continues the uptempo old school vibe reminding me a little of Saxon at times but with a darker edge. The song is pretty good but the drum sound is a little distracting and takes away from the song but you can definitely hear the band start to get a little darker with their delivery. The one thing that Icarus Witch does is fall into a mid-tempo pace on a lot of their songs and that gives them that darker, sludgier sound but also makes the songs drag out at times. The first of these kind of tracks is ‘Reap What You Sow’, it’s definitely darker, definitely more Sabbath influenced especially on the guitar but it sounds too dramatic at times with Bizilia’s high pitched vocals. ‘Dying Eyes’ follows a similar pattern although I don’t like the spoken word parts and that’s what kills the song for me. The title track is the third song in a row that is mid-paced, darker and utilizes Bizilia for dramatic effect…..are you starting to see a pattern? Let’s mix it up a bit guys!

The crown jewel of the album for me is ‘Serpent In The Garden’. It’s another slow, plodding Sabbath style song but there is more depth to it and the guitar work is excellent. ‘Serpent’ is the fourth song in a row using this mid-tempo style but it sounds a little more exotic and there are a few twists to the vocals that add a new wrinkle to the basic formula. It’s a very ’70s sounding track and I could easily hear a lot of Ronnie James Dio influence on this maybe in Rainbow or Black Sabbath. Listen for the bass in this song, it really stands out and adds a little extra. Another slow song follows with ‘Funeral Wine’, this is the fifth in a row! Then we get a sixth mid-tempo Sabbath inspired song with ‘Haunting Visions’! At least the pace picks up a little in the middle of the song to almost a ’70s Judas Priest chug but it’s not enough. Speaking of Judas Priest, the band offers up a cover of the Priest classic ‘The Ripper’. I hate cover songs on studio albums, I’d rather have an original song, but this is a welcome addition because it breaks the slow formula of the last six songs. This is as traditional of a cover as you can get, the band doesn’t stray too far from the original and Matt Bizilia does his best Rob Halford imitation and sounds like a cut below Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens.

Bottom Line:
I’m disappointed. I really like Icarus Witch and I really wanted to like DRAW DOWN THE MOON but the problem is that there are just too many slow mid-tempo songs and they all start to sound the same after a while. I like the whole retro style because I grew up on traditional styles rooted in Sabbath, Priest, Maiden and the NWOBHM but Icarus Witch takes it to the Sabbath extreme this time around with the plodding pace and there’s not enough bite to the songs. There needs to be some variety, a good mix of slow and fast songs to keep the listener listening. I’ve listened to this album a lot and I come away bored and disappointed. There are some bright spots because the first two songs show what the band is capable of if and ‘Serpent In The Garden’ is the best mid-tempo song on the album. Since this album’s release, Matt Bizilia has left the band and has been replaced by Christopher Saner and the band added Ed Skero as a second guitarist. It will be interesting to hear the band’s next album to see how these new members influence the overall direction. One last thing…..make a longer album. DRAW DOWN THE MOON is just about 36 minutes long, way too short in my book for a full-length…..then again, it’s a good thing it’s a short album!

Favorite Songs:
‘Black Candles’, ‘Aquarius Rising’, ‘Serpent In the Garden’

CD Scavenger Hunt – 30 day update

I got my taxes done in early February so the annual refund windfall my family receives is always a welcome event to start the new year. I’ve spent a lot of money in the last 30 days between paying down debt, buying new furniture, a big T.V. and a long-awaited Playstation 3. I spent a little bit of money on music but not a lot, I’ve just been keeping up with some of the newer releases and a few that I missed in 2009. So here’s what I picked up in the last month or so…..

Foreigner – Can’t Slow Down (2009) – $12: This was one of the albums that I missed in 2009 that I had heard so many good things about but never got around to setting foot in a Wal-Mart because I hate it so much. If I have to go into a Wal-Mart for any reason then it means that either my wife has brought me in or whatever I need is only available there. The last time I was in Wal-Mart was when I bought another exclusive, KISS – SONIC BOOM (2009). I should have just bought this new Foreigner album then but I didn’t for some strange reason. Same deal as other Wal-Mart exclusives: a 3 disc set including the new record, a CD of re-recorded hits and a live concert DVD. Great value, bad retail environment.

Overkill – Ironbound (2010) – $10: I hadn’t set foot in the record store in a couple of weeks so I went in specifically to get the new Overkill after I went to the Wal-Mart to buy the Foreigner album. I can’t remember the last time I missed an Overkill record and I wasn’t going to miss this one especially with a great release day sale price! How can you beat saving $6 off the regular price by picking the album up the day of release, or at least the week of release?

Icarus Witch – Draw Down The Moon (2010) – $9: Of course going to the record store means that you’re probably going to buy more than one CD and I started going through the Metal section. I completely forgot that the new Icarus Witch album had come out and I was shocked by the low sale price. If you’ve followed this blog for a while then you know that Icarus Witch is one of my favorite new bands of the last 4 to 5 years so this was an easy purchase.

Heavenly – Carpe Diem (2010) – $15: Can you guess by the album cover what type of Metal this is? If you guessed Power Metal…..you’re correct. CARPE DIEM was released on AFM Records everywhere but North America in the Fall of 2009 and I’ve had the digital promo from the label since then. I just can’t embrace downloading as a form of ownership yet (a topic for another time!), I’m an old school collector and I still like the CD, cassette, vinyl, or DVD in my hands. Like I said, AFM Records sent me the digital promo and the album is really good so I put this on my want list to physically own. The problem is that all the online stores I shop at, including Ebay, offered the European import from 2009 for $20+ and then a shipping charge on top of that! I wasn’t about to pay $25+ for a CD when I could wait patiently for a U.S. release. Same label, same packaging, same music but at least $10 cheaper by waiting.

Keel – Streets Of Rock ‘n’ Roll (2010) – $13: Same situation as Heavenly: I received the digital promo from the label, it’s a great album, put it on the want list because I want to own the physical product. I always wondered why Keel never got back together during the reunion boom of the last 15 years but it was definitely worth the wait because this new record is solid. Sale price was unadvertised and there was only one copy at the store so I snatched it up and saved a few bucks off the regular price and the online price at my online shops.

Keel – The Right To Rock (25th Anniversary Edition) (2010 reissue) – $13: It’s hard to believe that 25 years has gone by since this album came out. I have been a Keel fan since 1984 when they released their debut LAY DOWN THE LAW and I bought THE RIGHT TO ROCK on cassette when it came out back in the day. In the late ’90s when I got the Internet, I started to fill holes in my collection and there were a few Keel albums I needed to get on CD. I picked up a used copy of the 2000 reissue CD on the Metal Mayhem label but there has been some debate over the years if that was an official release or a bootleg (I always considered it an official release). Same situation as the new Keel album: I received a digital promo from the label and put it on the want list even though I already owned it…..I got a little excited over the reunion, the new record and the bonus track – ‘The Right To Rock (Reunion version)’.

Manowar – Hell On Earth V DVD – $30: I have been waiting for the latest installment of HELL ON EARTH to hit my local record store ever since Manowar’s website announced the release for all territories due in late November 2009. Unfortunately, North America was skipped! It’s been available through the Manowar website, online stores and Ebay ever since but for $40 – $50 + shipping depending on where you look. I was going to buy it directly from the band but it was $40 + shipping and I thought that was too much for a 2 DVD set. I caught the Newbury Comics weekly email on Monday and saw this was a new release with a $30 sale price so I figured I better get down there first thing Tuesday morning in case there was only a couple of copies. Manowar may have released some subpar albums in the last 10 years but their DVDs are awesome…..they rival both Iron Maiden and KISS for the top spot in Heavy Metal DVD releases. The only problem I had was that I got home and found out I’m missing HELL ON EARTH (Part IV) from 2007! Guess what just made the want list?

I spent a few bucks online at Ebay and a couple of shops also…..here’s the online take…..

Lynzee – Lost In America (2009) – FREE: That’s right…..a free CD! I entered a contest over at the Hair Metal Mansion and Andrew picked my name to win one of the three Lynzee releases he was giving away. Not a bad deal! This album is released through the excellent reissue label Retrospect Records and it’s a compilation of songs from Lynzee’s first two demos, some unreleased material and four new tracks re-done from the original masters way back in the day. If it’s free then it’s for me! It’s a cool way to discover a new band.

Dream Evil – In The Night (2010) – $15: I could have bought this one in the record store but it was the regular jewel case version and not the limited edition with the 2 bonus tracks, extended artwork and patch. Which one do you think I wanted? I checked all the online stores and the limited edition was going for $22+ so I started watching Ebay. I found a seller I’ve done business with in the past and he/she had 5 sealed copies with a BUY IT NOW price of $15…..one click of the mouse and it was mine!

Uncle Slam – Say Uncle (2010 reissue) – $15: The original pressing and the Japanese import always go for big bucks on Ebay and I have had this on my want list for a long time. When I got the press release from Tribunal/Divebomb Records about the reissue, I made a mental note to watch the street date closely. Of course, then I forgot all about it. The label had a special sale that ran for a limited time where you could get this reissue for $12 + $3 shipping, saving at least $5 off the regular price. I received a reminder email that the sale was ending soon and, with an hour to spare, I ordered my CD.

Krokus – Pay It In Metal (1978) – $10: I’m a big Krokus fan and I have always kept the first few Krokus albums on my Ebay watch list. I’ve had the opportunity before to buy PAY IT IN METAL but I’ve always passed because there was always something else to buy. This is actually a vinyl LP, in mint condition, and I won it at auction for $5. Add $5 for shipping and you get the total paid. PAY IT IN METAL is the third Krokus record and it is the same exact album as PAINKILLER (1978)…..the only difference is that the artwork and album title were changed for different countries. There are supposed to be five different covers for this record but I have only seen three: the PAINKILLER album, this U.S. version of PAY IT IN METAL and the German version of PAY IT IN METAL that has the peeled banana of coins. See the Krokus website for more details.

Knightmare – Unholy (2008) – $5: Another Ebay purchase at a great price! I’m not sure how I stumbled upon Australia’s Knightmare but I did and I did some research. UNHOLY is a 5 track E.P. that was limited to 500 copies worldwide and it is now out of print…..that means I had to have one! I found this one on Ebay for $1 and I waited until the last minute of the auction to make a bid…..add the $4 shipping and I got a great bargain on a rare CD.

Total = $142

Total (year) = $179

Total CDs (year) = 20

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total LPs (year) = 1

Metal Mixtape – 1/25/09

Tale Of The Tape:
Dell DJ 30 (1st Gen)
4482 songs (387 albums)

I’ve got the MP3 player shuffling as I’m creating a new master list for my CD collection so here’s the first 20 songs that have come up (band-song-year)…..

  1. Tygers Of Pan Tang – ‘Bad Times’ (1980)
  2. KISS – ‘Hard Luck Woman’ (1976)
  3. Icarus Witch – ‘Mirror Mirror’ (2007)
  4. Iron Maiden – ‘Man On The Edge’ (1995)
  5. Def Leppard – ‘Bad Actress’ (2008)
  6. Black Sabbath – ‘Black Sabbath’ (1970)
  7. Scorpions – ‘Obsession’ (1999)
  8. Daylight Dies – ‘A Portait In White’ (2008)
  9. Iron Maiden – ‘Remember Tomorrow’ (1980)
  10. Dio – ‘Straight Through The Heart’ (1983)
  11. Quiet Riot – ‘Overworked And Underpaid’ (1999)
  12. Primal Fear – ‘Fighting The Darkness’ (2007)
  13. Q5 – “Our Love Has Come And Gone’ (1984)
  14. Vinnie Vincent Invasion – ‘Burn’ (1988)
  15. KISS – ‘The Oath’ (1981)
  16. Westworld – ‘Bring The Water To Me’ (1999)
  17. Running Wild – “The Poison’ (1998)
  18. Girlschool – ‘Metropolis’ (2008)
  19. Rainbow – ‘Street Of Dreams’ (1983)
  20. Black Sabbath – ‘Die Young’ (1980)

Bonus Track: Saxon – ‘Forever Free’ (1993)

Metal Mixtape – 10/12/08

Tale Of The Tape:
Dell DJ 30 (1st Gen)
4555 songs (385 albums)

One of the problems with taking a weekend off is that you need to take care of all the little things around the house that you let slip when you are working and doing all the things you need to do to keep life going. I had some chores around the house to do, bills to pay, a dog to walk and a house that needs it’s Halloween transformation. The only way to get through it is to put the headphones on, press SHUFFLE, and go about your business! Here’s the first 20 songs that played…..

  1. Tygers Of Pan Tang – ‘Badger Badger’ (1980)
  2. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Angel Eyes’ (2008)
  3. Uriah Heep – ‘Tears Of The World’ (2008)
  4. Icarus Witch – ‘Queen Of Lies’ (2007)
  5. Alcatrazz – ‘God Blessed Video’ (1985)
  6. UFO – ‘Hunger In The Night’ (1988)
  7. Alice Cooper – ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’ (1971)
  8. Extreme – ‘Slide’ (2008)
  9. Iron Maiden – ’2 Minutes To Midnight’ (1984)
  10. Mogg-Way – ‘Totaled’ (1997)
  11. Motley Crue – ‘Down At The Whiskey’ (2008)
  12. Judas Priest – ‘Wheels Of Fire’ (2005)
  13. U.D.O. – ‘ The Devil Walks Alone’ (2007)
  14. Mogg-Way – ‘Death In The Family’ (1999)
  15. Krokus – ‘Shotgun Boogie’ (1990)
  16. Scorpions – ‘Mind Like A Tree’ (1999)
  17. Saxon – ‘Empty Promises’ (1986)
  18. Krokus – ‘Backstabber’ (1999)
  19. Balance Of Power – ‘No Place Like Home’ (2003)
  20. Black Sabbath – ‘Zero The Hero’ (1983)

Bonus Track: KISS – ‘Charisma’ (1979)

Icarus Witch – Songs For The Lost (2007)

Icarus Witch - Songs For The Lost (2007)

Icarus Witch – Songs For The Lost (2007, Cleopatra Records)

  1. Out For Blood
  2. Written In The Stars
  3. The Sky Is Falling
  4. Nature Of The Beast
  5. Mirror Mirror
  6. Queen Of Lies
  7. Devil’s Hour
  8. House Of Usher
  9. Afterlife
  10. Smoke & Mirrors

Band Lineup:
Matthew Bazilia – Lead & Backing Vocals
Steve Pollick – Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals*
Jason Myers – Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Eric Klinger – Drums, Keyboards, Backing Vocals and Rhythm Guitar on ‘Afterlife’
Quinn Lukas – Guitars, Backing Vocals**

Additional Musicians:
Joe Lynn Turner – Vocals on ‘Mirror Mirror’
Katherine Blake – Backing Vocals on ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ and Spoken Word on ‘Afterlife’
Cassandra Sotos – Violin on ‘Smoke & Mirrors’
Jere Jameson – Drums on ‘Mirror Mirror’

(* left the band shortly after the album’s release)
(** joined the band after Steve Pollick’s departure)

Produced by: Eric Klinger

Total Time – 46:41

Icarus Witch official website
Icarus Witch MySpace page
Cleopatra Records

I have been a big fan of Icarus Witch since the ROSES ON WHITE LACE E.P. (2005) and I am really psyched for this new album. The review here is long overdue because I picked this album up the day it was released and it easily came in at #5 on my Top 15 Albums of 2007. The band plays old school Traditional Heavy Metal with a major nod to the NWOBHM…..it’s easy to hear the Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden influences.

‘Out For Blood’ starts off with the trademark galloping Maiden bass line and main riff, making you wonder if it’s actually early Iron Maiden. Absolute driving song, attacking the listener by the throat right away. ‘Written In The Stars’ has an eerie and evil feel to it, definitely in the vocals. When Matthew Bazilla shrieks, …”the Zodiac”… a few lines in, it sends a shiver up your spine and makes you raise that fist. Almost like old Judas Priest, pre-British Steel, and a touch of Guns ‘N Roses.

I like the acoustic intro to ‘The Sky Is Falling’, it adds a bit of mood to the proceedings. The song is slower compared to the first two but it still maintains a sinister feeling while invoking melodic stylings. The Iron Maiden influence is back big time on ‘Nature Of The Beast’ with the opening instrumental. It gallops about, a la Maiden, but the song slows down and finds a moody groove until just before the chorus where it picks up again. Good Metal gives the listener a lot to listen to and the different pace changes keeps things moving nicely. I hate cover songs but it’s nice to hear the band’s take on an old lost track from Def Leppard’s HIGH ‘N DRY album. ‘Mirror Mirror’ is done extremely well, rivaling the original to my ears! It also doesn’t hurt to have one of the best vocalists in Rock to guest on your cover song, Joe Lynn Turner turning in another flawless performance  accompanying Icarus Witch.

‘Queen Of Lies’ is slow and moody and ‘Devil’s Hour’ adds more of a Hard Rock groove with a NWOBHM influence. Both songs remind me of Queensryche a bit probably due to the overall grandness of the sound, excellent vocals on these two songs just like the rest of the album. Doom-laden Sabbath influence all over ‘House Of Usher’ with the bass right in your face. Very heavy track with the guitar and bass dueling and complementing each other while the drums are the heaviest yet on the album. ‘House Of Usher’ has that retro heavy ’70s Classic Hard Rock feel.

‘Afterlife’ has some different elements to it: I like the spoken word intro by Katherine Blake and the Who-like acoustic guitars mid-track. It’s a very melodic track especially toward the last minute of the song with all the solos, etc. ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ ends the album on a slower note with violin complementing the acoustic guitars, courtesy of Cassandra Sotos, and backing vocals by Katherine Blake. Another melodic ’70s Classic Rock styled song that reminds me of Led Zeppelin mixed with Queensryche. I’m always a sucker for acoustics so this is one of my favorite songs on the album.

Bottom Line:
Icarus Witch has taken the best from all of their influences and incorporated them into there best recording so far. SONGS FOR THE LOST is as melodic as it is heavy and shows that the band is using as many elements as possible to create well-crafted songs. The music runs from the Maiden/Priest/Queensryche Metal to the ’70s retro Sabbath and Zeppelin with unique vocals and solid solos. I really like the whole album but if I had to pick a couple of favorites: ‘House Of Usher’, ‘Smoke & Mirrors’, Out For Blood’, and ‘Devil’s Hour’. Watch this band closely because Icarus Witch is a major force already!

The Top 15 Albums of 2007

It’s been another solid year for new releases, hundreds of bands released new albums in 2007 and it’s been very hard to keep up. I missed out on many new releases in many different genres because I spend my hard earned money. That money I put aside for my music fix has to be spent wisely and some bands/albums just fall through the cracks. I’ve started to get the attention of some labels and distributors so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to review more new releases in 2008.

Another factor is availability. Today anything can be bought online but the prices can be too high, sometimes it’s better to save a few dollars by holding off on a European or Japanese import and waiting for the U.S. release. In a few of those cases, some albums released around the world in 2007 won’t be released properly in the U.S. until early 2008 (Night Ranger, Airbourne, Primal Fear).

Looking back on 2007, I noticed that some bands got more of my attention than others and I picked up a lot of new releases from 2006 that I had missed. I only expect more of the same as my Want List grows and my musical tastes expand. The only criteria I followed for my Top 15 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. So here it is, my Top 15 Albums of 2007:

#1

Scorpions - Humanity Hour 1 (2007)Scorpions – Humanity Hour 1

The surprise of the year! The Scorpions experimented enough over the last few years but they planted the seeds with 2004′s UNBREAKABLE for a major comeback, not that they ever went away. I admit that I was apprehensive when I found out Pop Rock guru Desmond Child was aboard but the relationship produced a solid Hard Rock album full of melody, emotion, and attitude. This album has remained in my playlist rotation since it’s release and I haven’t tired of it yet, that’s the mark of a great album. I missed the band when they came to Boston this past Fall but their is a rumored tour with Judas Priest in 2008, that will make HUMANITY HOUR 1 even better. Another surprise was the advertised price ($7.99 at Best Buy) and the exclusive bonus track ‘Cold’. A great album AND value!

#2

Joe Lynn Turner - Second Hand Life (2007)Joe Lynn Turner – Second Hand Life

Very close to being my #1 album of 2007. So close in fact that I’ve had to listen to this and the Scorpions more in the last week to make the final decision. All the songs are strong and the music is a pure blend of classic AOR and Melodic Hard Rock. The songwriting is intelligent and emotional and the vocals are the best I’ve heard in 2007, JLT is in fine voice, probably the strongest of his career…..he just sounds so smooth, so effortless in his delivery. There were also a couple of Rainbow influences that gave the album a classic sound without sounding dated. Like the Scorpions album, there was a lot of value: the U.S. release on Friday Music was $12.99 and included an exclusive track (‘Freedom’s Wings’) and all the European and Japanese bonus tracks.

#3

Saxon - The Inner SanctumSaxon – The Inner Sanctum

THE INNER SANCTUM was the album of the year for me until the Scorpions and JLT released their albums. Saxon are one of my favorite bands and they have consistently produced great albums since the late ’90s, this record is no exception. Saxon blends their current approach of blazing fast Power Metal with their NWOBHM roots and creates an album of ten really great songs. Saxon are elder statesmen in the realm of Heavy Metal but they do things better than many of the younger bands. The focus is on the songwriting and then translating it to the live show. Every one of these songs could be played alongside the classics, that’s how strong they are. Add the bonus DVD to the studio album and it turns into a great package, also one of my favorite album covers of the year.

#4

Great White - Back To The Rhythm (2007)Great White – Back To The Rhythm

A successful comeback by a band no one expected to do anything. After all that has happened, did anyone think that Great White would actually make an album? They did and they made a great Blues based Hard Rock record. Getting the classic lineup back together rejuvenated the writing and getting singer Jack Russell sober made all the difference as he put in probably the best vocal performance of his career.

#5

Icarus Witch - Songs For The Lost (2007)Icarus Witch – Songs For The Lost

One of the best new bands out there playing a cross between NWOBHM and Traditional Metal. This is their second album and it doesn’t suffer from the “sophomore jinx”, this is a solid slab of straight up Heavy Metal. I even like the cover of Def Leppard’s ‘Mirror Mirror’! A band worth watching for the future.

#6

Primal Fear - New Religion (2007)Primal Fear – New Religion

Primal Fear just make good Heavy Metal records…..period. NEW RELIGION has a bit more melody and harmony within the power of their Metal assault, making the album more accessible and diverse. Everytime I hear a new Primal Fear record, I always wonder how vocalist Ralf Scheepers lost the Judas Priest gig to Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. Ralf has grown from being complete Halford clone to being one of the best Metal singers alive. Had to pick this up on import in September, the U.S. release is January 2008.

#7

Airbourne - Runnin’ Wild (2007)Airbourne – Runnin’ Wild

I bought into all the hype and rave reviews and I picked this up very late in the year. I was skeptical because I had heard only two songs and I wondered if AC/DC clones could produce a strong album. Everyone likes AC/DC, and with them out of the picture for now, Airbourne has picked up where Angus & company left off. It’s simple bluesy Hard Rock like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, and The Angels but with a youthful energy built for party Rock. Had to get this one on import late in the year also because their U.S. distribution starts in January 2008.

#8

3 Inches Of Blood - Fire Up The Blades (2007)3 Inches Of Blood – Fire Up The Blades

A big thanks to a loyal reader, and devout Metalhead, Rene for pushing me to check out this band. Good thing I listened because 3 Inches Of Blood is a great young band that blends many different styles of Metal into their overall sound. Cam Pipes is one of the better Metal vocalists that can incorporate clean/traditional singing with growls. grunts, and groans. Another young band making their mark.

#9

Ted Nugent - Love Grenade (2007)Ted Nugent – Love Grenade

Terrible Ted came roaring from the woods to deliver his best album in years. Continuing with his gonzo attitude and hunter instinct, Ted took his love of the Blues, added his Hard Rock blend and tongue-in-cheek humor, and built the LOVE GRENADE. Jack Blades’ (Night Ranger/Damn Yankees) produces and co-writes here and does a spectacular job at getting the best from the Nuge. One listen to ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ and ‘Funk U’ and you’ll understand.

#10

Kamelot - Ghost Opera (2007)Kamelot – Ghost Opera

Another end of the year addition and it’s a shame I waited so long, it’s a good album. A little more Progressive and Symphonic than their past Power Metal style but still good. Kamelot proves that heavy music can be intricate and diverse while retaining the power…..I really dig the orchestration and strings and the lush backgrounds. Is Roy Khan one of the most underrated singers in Metal or what? Added value to this one is the bonus DVD on the limited edition.

#11

Megadeth - United Abominations (2007)Megadeth – United Abominations

At first, I wasn’t excited or impressed, Megadeth hadn’t regained my trust from 1999′s RISK debacle even though there had been two decent studio releases since. It wasn’t until mid-May when I saw Megadeth open for Heaven & Hell that I stood up and took notice. It’s having classic Megadeth back with Dave Mustaine more focused than ever.

#12

Helloween - Gambling With The Devil (2007)Helloween – Gambling With The Devil

Helloween were kind of put in the same category as Megadeth because I just couldn’t get into their last two albums: RABBIT DON’T COME EASY (2003) & KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS – THE LEGACY (2005). There was too much experimentation and enhancements on those records while the band tried to regain their signature sound and promised fans such. This album was more straight ahead Power Metal that Helloween is known for. Andi Deris puts in a spectacular performance and the band has shown that all the lineup changes of recent years hasn’t disrupted their core.

#13

Iced Earth - Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Pt.1) (2007)Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Pt.1)

Hard to believe that this is only Iced Earth’s third album since 1998′s masterpiece SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. It’s also hard to believe that after releasing two very spotty concept records, the band would come roaring back to form with another concept album based on the SOMETHING WICKED theme. Unfortunately, recent lineup changes (Owens out, Barlow back in) and some late year additions to my collection have pushed this album down the list, I had it Top 10 easily up until the last couple of weeks.

#14

Endeverafter - Kiss Or Kill (2007)Endeverafter – Kiss Or Kill

Endeverafter came out of nowhere to deliver solid party time Hard Rock. A blend of classic L.A. Hard Rock with today’s edge, I couldn’t find a bad song. I’d like to hear how the do on their next record.

#15

Masterplan - MK II (2007)Masterplan – MK II

I’ve had this CD since early April and I’m still enjoying it. Unfortunately, it ranks a little lower due to my getting used to Mike DiMeo replacing Jorn Lande at the mic and the fact that many top bands released excellent albums later in the year. Really good Power/Progressive Metal here, hopefully the lineup stays stable.

In case my list wasn’t enough, or you simply don’t agree, some other great Music blogs have listed their Top Albums of 2007:

Axeman

Bring Back Glam

Hard Rock Hideout

Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes

Layla’s Classic Rock Faves

The Metal Minute

Raise Your Fists

Rock & Roll And Meandering Nonsense

Rock Of Ages (Dave’s Best of 2007)

Rock Of Ages (Bill’s Best of 2007)