Stryper / God Damn Evil

God Damn Evil

Stryper is an American Christian metal band from Orange County, California. The group’s lineup consists of Michael Sweet(lead vocals, guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Perry Richardson (bass guitar), and Robert Sweet (drums).

Formed in 1983 as Roxx Regime, the band soon changed their musical message to reflect their Christian beliefs, and the band’s name was also changed to Stryper. They went on to become the first overtly Christian heavy metal band to gain acceptance in the mainstream. In 1983, they signed with major label Enigma Records and released their debut album The Yellow and Black Attack. In the mid-1980s, Stryper enjoyed their most successful period beginning with the release of To Hell with the Devil, which achieved platinum sales status. Stryper went on to release two more gold albums before disbanding in 1992. In 2003, Stryper came out of retirement for a reunion tour and subsequently signed a multi-album contract with Big3 Records in 2005. In 2013 they signed a multi-album deal with Frontiers Records, and have released Second Coming, which includes 14 re-recorded songs from their first three albums and an album, No More Hell to Pay, released on November 5, 2013, and Fallen on October 16, 2015

God Damn Evil is the seventeenth release and twelfth studio album by Christian metal band Stryper, produced by frontman Michael Sweet and released in April 11, 2018.

The Analysis—-

Take It To The Cross—-If you have followed this somewhat iconic band at all, you pretty much no what to expect. I guess my initial and enduring attraction to this band was not necessarily the message…but the voice and the talent of the band. I love how tight they play….and it has not changed in all of these years. The message is the same…but so is the voice and the energy…..very nostalgic…..amazing how well Sweet’s voice has held up. I don’t really care for this chorus…but the multi vocal track is nice.

Sorry—-Fairly sdate at the onset, it seems like production turned down the volume on the whole damn thing. Sweet comes out of the dark with a nice strong and soaring vocal. The chorus is damn addictive…..it sucks you in whether you buy into the message or not. I like the slight blues tinge as well…this is nice.

Lost—-To be honest with you….this reminds me of something that would have fir on Styx Paradise Theater record…the vocal is overly operatic and Broadway tinged. The music is sedate and predictable. Sweet does really scream sometimes…which really pleases me. But this all seems very contrived and theatrical.

God Damn Evil—-A return to a bluesier sound and some incredible vocals, this is like being transported back to 1984. The message remains strong….but the delivery makes it worth listening to over and over again. This is directly sent to our current times and turmoil. I rather like this song…..the delivery is key!

You Don’t Even Know Me—-Classic 80’s riffs open this track….and some fantastic drums! The music reminds me of classic Queensryche at times…..the vocal is a bit off for me at times though. I love the energy of the chorus….this saves the song from becoming obscure.

The Valley—-Fantastic drums and short sharp guitar bursts kick off the track. Sweet enters and sounds so fresh and young with his vocal….you catch every word and the chorus sucks you in. The soaring quality of his voice is remarkable….I love how effortless his vocal sounds. The marching instrumentation makes the song feel huge.

Sea Of Thieves—-At this point of the release, the album begins to suffer from a very same-like quality….everything blends from the previous song…making it seem like a long drawn out operetta. There needs a ballad here or there…or some variety.

Beautiful—-Offering a bit of differential musical delivery, the drums are just stellar here. The guitars are in perfect unison. The vocal sounds a bit to theatrical….but it is passable. Will I listen to this release on a regular basis….no….not even once in a while…I prefer the classic releases.

Can’t Live Without Your Love—-Finally we get a bit of diversity….the song is delivered nicely…..but nothing stands out as fantastic. The chorus IS huge….but it is replayed and over done. I wish there was a little bit more variety.

Own Up—-Nothing new here……at this point it all seems like one long song…..when boredom sets in so quickly that is not a good sign. This sounds like I backed up 6 songs and am going through the same thing again.

The Devil Doesn’t Live Here—-A bit more power Metal to end the release, the message returns. The music is faster and more varied…..the drums are huge. The voice soars and the song has a nice catchy element to it. I like this.

** out of 5

Nightwish / Decades

Decades

Nightwish is a symphonic metal band from KiteeFinland. The band was formed in 1996 by lead songwriter and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, and former lead singer Tarja Turunen. The band soon picked up drummer Jukka Nevalainen, and then bassist Sami Vänskä after the release of their debut album, Angels Fall First (1997). In 2001, Vänskä was replaced by Marco Hietala, who also took over the male vocalist role previously filled by Holopainen or guest singers.

Although Nightwish have been prominent in their home country since Angels Fall First, they did not achieve worldwide fame until the release of the albums Oceanborn (1998), Wishmaster (2000) and Century Child (2002). Their 2004 album, Once, has sold more than one million copies and was the band’s breakthrough in the United States. Their biggest US hit single, “Wish I Had an Angel” (2004), received MTV airplay and was included on three US film soundtracks to promote their North American tour. The band produced three more singles and two music videos for Once, as well as a re-recording of “Sleeping Sun” for the “Best of Nightwish” compilation album, Highest Hopes (2005), before Turunen’s dismissal in October 2005. Her last performance with Nightwish was during a concert recorded for the live album/DVD End of an Era. After the concert, the other members informed Turunen with an open letter that she was no longer a member of Nightwish.

In May 2007, Nightwish announced Anette Olzon as Turunen’s replacement. That September, the band released their sixth album, Dark Passion Play, which has sold almost 2 million copies. The album’s lead single, “Amaranth“, became one of Nightwish’s most successful in Europe. The supporting tour, one of the band’s largest, started on October 6, 2007 and ended on September 19, 2009. The band released an EP/live album, Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places), in March 2009 as a CD/DVD, and their seventh studio album, Imaginaerum, was released globally on various days in late 2011/early 2012.

On October 1, 2012, Nightwish announced that they had parted ways with Olzon and would be finishing the tour with ReVamp and former After Forever vocalist Floor JansenIn October 2013, Nightwish made Jansen and longtime session uillean pipes player Troy Donockley permanent members of the band, and they were featured in the acclaimed album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, released on March 27, 2015.

Nightwish is the third-best-selling band and musical entity in Finland with certified sales of nearly 900,000 certifiedcopies. The group is also the most successful Finnish band worldwide, selling more than 9 million records and receiving more than 60 gold and platinum awards, having released five Number 1 albums and thirteen Number 1 singles.

Decades is the seventh compilation album from Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, and contains remastered versions of the original material. It was released on March 9, 2018, which is the same day that they began touring for the Decades: World Tour.

The Analysis—-

The Greatest Show On Earth—-Wow….what can you really say about this epic piece of music? Please note that this ‘song’ clocks in at a whopping 24 minutes in length and plays like a modern day symphony piece. This has complete movements and moods….as the music takes you through a complete set of emotions. The strings and the urgent pace of the underlying music is just fantastic. The song truly plays like a movie soundtrack to me. The vocal that finally erupts at about 6 minutes is not as you would expect if you are a follower of the band…although it does clear and becomes much more clear and epic as it continues. The song…once you get to the meat of the damn thing is addictive as hell. The nice mix between the clean and the rougher vocals keeps your attention. This is epic-ally brilliant.

Elan—-With a brilliant and immediately recognizable intro, the flute that begins the entire thing is just perfect. There is a wonderful mix of metal and beauty all mixed in here together. You would never think such a thing would work…but it does…and brilliantly well. The vocal wraps around your head…while the music gives you a huge energetic boost. This is masterful.

My Walden—-With a huge almost pop inspired intro, the guitars sing in an upward arc that sucks your brain in from the first note. The music settle to allow for the vocal….and then comes right back at you as the chorus smacks your forehead and settles in for a day or so. This recipe works so well…..Tarja was brilliant…..and continues to be so.
Storytime—-Airy and wonderfully constructed, the keyboard ushers in guitars and drums that take the song to a faster and bit heavier sound. The music stays strong despite the entrance of the ‘pretty’ vocal…..the song still comes across as muscular and driving. The voice just soars with a melody of the chorus that is instantly devoured. the strings are incredible…perfectly mixed with huge guitars to create a curtain that you have never seen hanging before…..just brilliant.
I Want My Tears Back—-With Tuomas offering the entrance vocal, the music has a slight bagpipe sound to it that is accessible and addictive. Sometimes the vocal is almost too pretty…..suffering at time like Kate Bush did on some of her recordings. The chorus is huge…full of muscular crashes and guitars and more vocals from Tuomas. This is brilliant when they combine the voices…something I wish they did more often in the early days.
Amaranth—-What can I say about this track that I have not already said. It has had a long life…and still stands the test of time for me. The vocal is so strong and well delivered…matched perfectly with the aggression of the guitars. The combination that this band managed to develop is just remarkable. This is a track that will always be a favorite of mine…especially when the vocal switch happens and the tracks takes on an even more meal direction…this is magical.
The Poet And The Pendulum—-Seeming to meld from the previous track, this is epic in scope and length…..at over 13 minutes long. The track is layered and full of movements that lull you into a dreamy state as you find it easy to become one with the song. This is remarkably well done. I love the swells of the strings…the urgency of the music….the epic soundtrack feel to the symphonic feel. This is brilliance on a piece of plastic to enjoy forever. I love this band.
Nemo—-Another instantly recognizable tracks that will live for a very long time. The voice is like no other…delivered with beauty and practice….the ability to wrap itself around aggression but still remain beautiful is simply amazing. Even though there is all this stuff happening in the backdrop of the song….the voice literally rides on top of everything and remains true…crystal clear and full of beauty. What a band!
Wish I Had An Angel—-Perhaps the most ‘famous’ Nightwish song, this never gets old or sounds aged. I literally love this track to death. This was my introduction to the band and I have never stopped collecting them since then This strikes a chord with me. It combines beauty and power magically well….and still plays like it is brand new to me. A perfect blend of vocals with Tuomas adding in a rougher edge to the song….allows it to become huge. This is brilliant.
Ghost Love Score—-Brilliant in scope…a nice jaunty and masterful intro full of bright strings and swells……matched by a muscular guitar delivery creates a perfect storm. The song takes a nice turn…becoming a bit more metal before falling away for the almost too sweet vocal. But the chorus…a band effort….escalates the song to new highs again. This is fabulous.
Slaying The Dreamer—-Much more Metal right at the onset, this is big and a bit boisterous for this entity. The vocal is even lacking that pretty edge…sounding a bit more aggressive and driving. This is fantastic….the moods come and go…..but you never lose the urgency of the song. This is really nice…I love the great guitars. Tuomas makes this a great freakin track
End Of All Hope—-Beginning like a huge epic symphony movement of voices and sounds, the guitars enter and turn the track into a literal masterpiece. Again, sometimes the voice is almost too pretty for the huge and muscular delivery from the band…but somehow, they always manage to settle things out in the aftermath and deliver a masterpiece of a song. This is a well oiled machine that never seems to fail.
10th Man Down—-Creaking ship sounds and atmosphere take you right into the heart of the song. The music builds slowly…giving you a sense of anticipation….and the entire thing becomes the rhythmic Metal kind of thing. I don’t really care for the vocal here….but it is passable. The chorus vocal is almost drowned out by the aggressive music…perhaps a production misstep…..but still great none the less.
The Kingsslayer —-A nice return to the epic and huge Nightwish sound, the guitars are literally blazing on this joint. There is an urgency and speed to the music that is perfect for me. Even the vocal comes at you as if in an emergency situation. This is a huge song….delivered with perfection and emotion that keeps you on the edge of your seat with energy. Wonderful.
Dead Boy’s Poem—-I hate to say it…but I have to…..there is nothing about this track that inspires or moves me. I’m not really even sure why it is on here…this is not a shining moment for the band…in mu opinion….I remain unmoved.
Gethsemane—-Blazing back with this keyboard heavy track, there is a perfect combination between the keys and the guitars….with the vocal soaring over your head. Again…there is a nice urgency and muscularity to the song….it is full of driving riffs and excellent drums. a perfect storm once again blows from the homeland.
Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean—-Large in sound and filled with driving drums that are just incredible. The male vocal that begins the entire thing is in such sharp contrast that it puts me off a bit. I’m really not into the evil sound of the vocal…it puts me off a bit…sounds more like German Industrial than my beloved band.
Sacrament Of Wilderness—-Here we have a ice return to the more familiar……upfront keyboards and incredible drums…..a huge guitar line that drives the song to new heights…..a vocal that literally soars above your head….it all comes together to create an epic composition….and there I go….in love once again.
Sleeping Sun—-Beautifully constructed and moody, I love this. The vocal is so well delivered…filling you with epic emotions. there is a nice double tracking on the voice that gives the song an even more full bodied sound. This is really nice…..the swells of music suck you into a daze that allows you to daydream and catch every single word at the same time.
Elevenpath—-Beginning a bit dark and mysterious, the song becomes epic with huge guitars and barely a string or oboe to be heard. The vocal…delivered in a deeper tone is really nice…this plays like some huge fairy tale that takes place in the deep forest……oh those foreigners….lol.
The Carpenter—-This takes a bit to get used to…but settles into your brain with remarkable ease. The blend of voices add a new dimension to the song….the low male vocal sounds like an Alternative band from the 90’s…the the chorus hits and everything opens up….this is perfect.
Nightwish [Demo]—-For a demo, it is apparent the vision of the band and of Toumas was clear….because of course he is the true leader of the band without any doubt. the stripped down feel is very nice and leaves me only wanting even more new materail from the band. This has been an epic journey for me….I remain…truly in love with this band.
*****out of 5

Judas Priest / Firepower

Firepower

Firepower is the 18th studio album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest. It is the first studio album since 1988’s Ram It Down to be produced by Tom Allom, and the first one with Andy Sneap as co-producer. Music videos were made for “Lightning Strike” and “Spectre”.

The Analysis—-

Firepower—-A pure classic introduction here, carrying the trademark Priest sound in every single note. The guitars are blistering and the drums sound better than I have heard in years. What can be said about Halford and his vocal…this is a 66 yr. old man who defies age and ability. I have not heard him sound this powerful since Painkiller….this is just brilliant!

Lightning Strikes—-With another powerful intro, the band is off and running with a rhythmic driving guitar line that makes the track sound monstrous. The trademark vocal…full of screeching overdubs is just incredible. Faulkner has added a new life and dimension to the band and it is all over tracks like these. Halford always amazes…..there is nothing weak about this….not one note is out of place.

 

Evil Never Dies—-With a more classic 80’s sound to the intro, Priest refuses to deliver even one weak track on this release. Halford delivers a vocal that seems a bit more comfortable as it begins….but develops into a slight demonic scream. The twin guitar sound is huge and boisterous. This is just classic in every sense of the word. There is even a slight bluesy feel to the track….really nice.

Never The Heroes—-A staccato and almost airy intro slowly introduces a wall of guitar sound that is dense and complicated.  The drums are so present on this release…..and Halford, despite his powerful vocal…allows every member of the band to shine in their own right. The chorus is a huge addictive thing that is built for huge arena shows and a sing a long from the crowd. Fantastic!

Necromancer—-Bolstered by the huge wall of guitar sound, the band is playing blistering fast and so incredibly tight. This has a nice slight evil twist to it….made even more intense by the fantastic double tracking that Halford manages to produce in the studio. This is just classic in every sense of the word. Priest has not sounded this good in years.

Children Of The Sun—-A higher tuned guitar intro and a slow plodding pace at the onset you are set up for the Nostradamus type vocal from Halford that is delivered here. The amazing thing…you can catch every single word that Halford passes along to you. The chorus finds either band participation or a perfectly back tracked vocal that makes the song even larger. This has moodiness…power…melancholy and aggression. Perfect.

Guardians—-A nice surprise as a gentle piano/keyboard ushers in the song….filled with an airy atmosphere that is layered with moodiness and beauty. The guitars…in the backdrop soar with beauty and the drums usher in….

Rising From The Ruins—-Still carrying some of the moodiness from the guardian interlude, this again reminds me of something from Nostradamus….An album that I literally adore. I love when Halford sings in that dramatic quasi-theatrical style. This is powerful….musically dense…vocally sonic.

Flame Thrower—-Returning to full on blistering Metal that is slight in blues…full of powerful guitar chords and led behind the scenes by incredible drumming. Halford sounds incredible…singing in an acceptable lower range that is still full of power and vitality. The ability of this band to still deliver after all of these years is literally amazing. I am stunned by this release!

Spectre—-Somewhat of an odd intro, quickly falls away to the classic powerhouse sound of the Priest machine. The guitars…down-tuned a bit…are just a literal wall of powerful sound. Halford enunciates every single word in a classic well delivered vocal style. I love everything about this. Atmospheric in a sense…full of power in another.

Traitors Gate—-Slowing things down…allowing for a bit of a respite…excellent song placement….the song quickly sheds it’s mellow sound and becomes a huge devouring serpent head that wants to snap your neck. The guitars are blistering…full of sharp blasts that just swallow you up. The drums gallop as fast as the vocal lines from Halford. The chorus, addictive as hell will live in your head for days. just remarkable.

No Surrender—-What can I say…..this finds a perfect place on this release…delivering a modern yet somehow classic Priest sound. This is as sing a long as anything Priest has ever released. The crowds will go wild for this track….the remarkable melody line is unforgettable and wraps around the front of your brain. Halford hits some exquisite notes that will live forever.

Lone Wolf—-Dense and thick at the very onset, this becomes a huge guitar swaying bluesy affair that is classic. Halford delivers line after line of lyrics that are understandable and crystal clear. This is remarkable…the quality as the release continues just seems to get better and better. This is terrific.

Sea Of Red—-Ending this release…far to soon, the Priest machine gives us a thoughtful track that just leaves you wanting more and more. Halford delivers a mournful vocal that leaves you sad and full of a melancholy. The theatrical quality of his vocal….it is just incredible. The chorus of the song is HUGE and will play live so very well. This should be single material…it will play well on any Modern-Rock radio station. The Priest is BACK!!!!

***** out of 5

Marilyn Manson / Heaven Upside Down

Heaven Upside Down [Explicit]

Brian Hugh Warner (born January 5, 1969), known professionally as Marilyn Manson, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, composer, actor, painter, author and former music journalist. He is known for his controversial stage personality and image as the lead singer of the band Marilyn Manson, which he co-founded with guitarist Daisy Berkowitz and of which he remains the only constant member. His stage name was formed by combining and juxtaposing the names of two American pop cultural icons: actress Marilyn Monroe and cult leader Charles Manson.

Manson is best known for his band’s records released in the 1990s, most notably Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals, which, along with his public image, earned him a reputation in the mainstream media as a controversial figure and a negative influence on young people. In the U.S. alone, three of the band’s albums have been awarded platinum status and three more went gold, and the band has had eight releases debut in the top ten, including two number-one albums. Manson has been ranked number 44 in the Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists by Hit Parader, and has been nominated for four Grammy Awards.

Manson made his film debut in 1997 as an actor in David Lynch‘s Lost Highway. Since then he has appeared in a variety of minor roles and cameos. He was interviewed in Michael Moore‘s political documentary Bowling for Columbine, discussing possible motivations for the 1999 Columbine massacre and allegations that his music was a contributory factor. On September 13–14, 2002, his first art show, The Golden Age of Grotesque, was held at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions center. He revealed a series of 20 paintings in 2010 entitled Genealogies of Pain, an exhibition showcased at Kunsthalle gallery in Vienna, Austria, on which he collaborated with David Lynch.

Heaven Upside Down is the tenth studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released on October 6, 2017 by Loma Vista Recordings and Caroline International. The record was originally due for release on Valentine’s Day, and had a working title of Say10. However, its release was delayed, principally due to the eponymous vocalist being unhappy with the quality of the record by that date, and also because of the band’s touring commitments and producer Tyler Bates‘ schedule scoring films, as well as the death of Manson’s father during production, to whom the album was later dedicated.

The album was recorded by many of the same musicians who performed on The Pale Emperor, including Bates and Gil Sharone. The band’s longtime bassist Twiggy Ramirez did not take part in recording sessions, despite Manson initially suggesting otherwise. Twiggy was dismissed from the band soon after the record’s release, following sexual assault allegations made against him by a former girlfriend. He was replaced on subsequent tour dates by Juan Alderete. The Heaven Upside Down Tour has seen the band’s vocalist injured on multiple occasions, namely fracturing his ankle after jumping off a stage, and then being crushed by a large stage prop. The latter incident resulted in the rescheduling of an entire leg of the tour.

We Know Where You Fucking Live” was released as the lead single on September 11. This was followed on September 20 by “Kill4Me“, which went on to become the band’s highest peaking single ever on BillboardMainstream Rock Chart. Three music videos have been released to promote the album: the two aforementioned singles, as well as “Say10“. The music videos for the two latter songs featured actor Johnny Depp.

The Analysis—-

Revelation #12—-The long awaited return of Manson is ushered in by this quasi-punk rock track that is noisy and full of a throwback sound that makes me so excited and energized I almost lose my mind. the vocal is full of effects…but true to the feeling we have all become accustomed to. This is noisy and full of an underground sound that fills me with energy and a magical joy. I love this!!!

Tattooed In Reverse—-Sound effects and a draw out intro ushers in a slight blues tinged track that allows Manson to really shine on vocals. The voice is still so strong…the energy seems to be magically energized and delivered with a vehemence and energy not displayed in recent years. Marilyn sounds like the driven young man he was when this Manson-movement began…I’m entranced by the energy and the detail in the songs….this is magical. The king of mayhem returns!!!

We Know Where You Fucking Live—-The contagious bass line that begins this track threatens to over take your brain cells as it leads the song down the rabbit hole. Manson comes in with that unique and classic style full of wordplay and a contagious chorus that makes you literally lose your mind. The Industrial/Rock sound is in full effect….this is literally like a step back 10 years in time…the sound and material sounds re-energized and delivered with a remarkable vehemence. This is incredible…..I love this record!!!

 

Say10—-Kicking off with a nice genuine Industrial sound, this reminds me of something I have heard already…but none the less…my ears perk up with interest and anticipation. Manson has an undeniable energy that you can’t escape. the sound is so genuine and throwback, if you will, this is perhaps the best Manson release inn 10 or 12 years. The creaks and the escalating musical urgency is damn magical. This stays true to the Manson message…and it sounds fresh and electric…not old and beaten down. a magical musical moment for me.

 

Kill4Me—-Perhaps the greatest single Manson has released in recent history, I even hear this on area radio stations…which usually only plays classic rock. Manson can construct a magical chorus that no matter how perverse will stick in your brain no matter what. This is a huge track…the chorus sucks you in and gives you an energy that is unmatched by anything recently released….this is fantastic. I love this man…so happy to see his return.

Saturnalla—-Coming out of a sonic fog, this track builds and builds…giving me goosebumps of anticipation. The layers of sound build upon layers of sound….making the anticipation almost too much to bear. The song finally emerges….an odd sound at the onset….but fills in line with the rest of the release as it progresses. The rough vocal from Manson makes this masterful and mysterious..I love this…the energy…the bursts of musical genius….the almost vocal growls….a perfect landscape. As this progresses….it becomes damn contagious…this track has something for everyone.

Je$u$ CriSi$—-This is what I have come to expect from Manson…constant rails against all that seems to be the modern day reality. Take the reality and twist it into a giant Manson pretzel and lay it on the altar of the believers and let them feast of the results. This is a spectacular track…full of effects….drama….energy and everything that you need from the mastermind of the band. This is brutal….driving and delivered with an energy you can’t escape. I can’t imagine the crowd during a live delivery of this song.

Blood Honey—-An almost Church organ sound ushers in this track….Manson creaks a vocal that is eerie and filled with an evil sound. the music becomes huge…and the melody line that runs underneath of the song is addictive as hell. This is a fantastic track…redeeming in the ability of the man to deliver the sound and material the fans crave. Just fantastic.

Heaven Upside Down—-An odd almost acoustic guitar sound….following a really melodic guitar driven song that sucks you right into the melody. Even Manson delivers a nice modern sound that makes you shake your head and wonder where all of this stuff as been for the past few releases. Truly a safe bet for a 4th single release…this is really accessible and playable for everyone.

Threats Of Romance—-Ending the release as powerful and masterful as it began, this again has a slight blues sound to it that sucks you into the guitar based instrumentation. I love the drawl that Manson delivers his lines with…the chorus is a huge affair…..calling on the audience for lighters and mosh pits combined. This is a masterful. triumphant release. A true return to form…..all hail Manson…..Fantastic.

***** out of 5

Queensryche / Condition Human

Condition Hüman

Condition Hüman is the fifteenth studio album by American progressive heavy metal band Queensrÿche. It was released on October 2, 2015 through Century Media. It is the second studio album recorded with vocalist Todd La Torre, after Geoff Tate was fired from the band and gave up the rights to the name after a two-year lawsuit regarding the rights to the Queensrÿche brand was amicably settled.

The album’s first single, “Arrow of Time,” became available for streaming on July 20, 2015, the day the album’s title and release date were announced. It was recorded in early 2015 at Uberbeatz Studios in Washington and produced by Chris “Zeuss” Harris.

The Analysis—-

Arrow Of Time—-Everything about this opening track including the vocal reeks of classic Queensryche. It is amazing how much Todd sounds like Geoff Tate. The song is catchy as hell…reminds me of the classic sound the band started to develop around the Rage For Order time. The vocal is extraordinary….the music this band is making is just not much in demand anymore…it is glad to see bands still trying to keep this sound alive. This is a fantastic start.

Guardian—-I like the speedier guitar on the opening of this track…the guitar is very reminiscent of stuff off of Operation: Mindcrime and Rage…with vocal effects added in the backdrop. The double track vocal gives a nice full sound…and make no doubt…this dude can scream with the best of them. This is really nice. This has such a ‘classic’ Queensryche sound to it.

Hellfire—-Delivering the requisite ‘Hair Metal’ ballad, the band stays true to the recipe that cemented so many metal bands in history. This is such classic in sound…you will think you stepped back in time and listened to a ‘lost’ Queensryche record. I’m not sure if this is purposeful or not. Scott must get a lot of Tate comparisons…you can’t deny it. Even the vocal phrasing is the same…none the less…it is nice to see the band still plugging along. Really not a ballad s it progresses.

Toxic Remedy—-A nice huge guitar intro…..a landscape of sound followed by the trademark drums. The vocal at the onset of the song is a bit weak for me and uninspired…I love the double tracking though. It makes the song so large. The music is really the star of the show on this track for me. The band sounds better than ever.

Selfish Lives—-From the onset, this is like stepping back in time and listening to a track that would fit perfectly on Mindcrime. I wonder if some of these tracks were actually leftovers….the sound is perfect and the lyrics seem to cover the same subject manner. Add the vocal style and you feel like you have discovered old gems from a time long ago.

Eye9—-Beginning with a seldom heard awesome bass line, the song is a bit convoluted at the onset…but the muddled feel clears up as it progresses. The sharp guitar blasts give me a sense of energy. The vocal and the lyrics are pure Progressive Metal…this is a great track…no wonder it was released as a single…perhaps the highlight of the release.

Bulletproof—-Intricate guitar kicks off the track….the classic ballad sounds in full effect here. The vocal literally soars on the chorus…making this a huge addictive song. the guitar delivery delivers emotion and the drums…understated but very present are key to the feel of the song. This guy can really sing!

Hourglass—-Powerful and with a huge wall of sound from the very first note, the music dies away a bit to allow for the vocal. Again, the double track voice gives a fullness to the song. The chorus is huge..a sing a long chorus that does tend to stick with you a bit. This is classic in sound…but fresh enough to keep my attention.

Just Us—-In full ballad form for this track, the vocal is right in your face as the song begins. The gentle sounds of the band allow for the voice to be the star of the show. The lyrical content…a bit juvenile is classic required ballad material on every record. I could do without this…nothing really new here.

All There Was—-Great guitar effects and drums open up this track. There is an aggression and urgency to the music that catches me attention right at the onset. The vocal is pretty predictable…for me, the drums….really in the front of the mix, and the guitars keep the track interesting. I rather like this.

The Aftermath—-An odd little snippet that could have been a great song…..

Condition Human—-Ending the release less than aggressive, I would have preferred a huge galloping track that was designed to leave me hungry for more from this new entity of a classic band. Instead I am left with a feeling of relief that it is over. The saving grace for this track is the huge chorus…the guitars seem to float over my head. For me…it full form. this is a bit of a disappointing release.

*** out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

Borknagar / Winter Thrice

Winter Thrice

Borknagar is a progressive black metal band from Bergen, Norway, founded in 1995 by Øystein Garnes Brun. The band’s style combines black metal and folk metal with progressive and melodic elements. Borknagar’s lyrics often deal with philosophypaganismnature, and the cosmos.

Winter Thrice is the tenth studio album by the Norwegian band Borknagar.

The Analysis—-

The Rhymes Of The Mountain—-Epic in sound right from the onset, the vocal that emerges is amazing. The edge of the vocal is rough, but accessible enough to allow even the casual listener to become intrigued. The drums here are amazing. The vocal play…between the pleasant clean snaps and then the surprise guttural rants keeps me really interested. This is fantastic.

Winter Thrice—-I really love moody music….I mean you can almost feel the coldness as this track begins. I love the drums as usual…the vocal here reminds me of the clean vocals from Dimmu Borgir…..so high and clear. The guitars come and go….sharp blasts and then an almost acoustic sound as the song progresses. This is epic…. the song is huge…I can’t imagine this live! As usual the song takes a turn for the dark as the Death Metal quell enters midstream…..really nice.

Cold Runs The River—-Much more aggressive right from the onset, I love this song. The vocal is brutal…seeming to be driven to madder limits by the relentless drums. The clean vocal does emerge…but the star of the show on this track is the aggressive nature of the music. The instrumentation is so thick…it just seems to swell and swell…this is literally fantastic. My favorite track on this release.

Panorama—-Returning to a more orchestral intro, the epic swells of music are magnificent. I really don’t care for the opening vocals here…it all seems mechanical and uninspired. It is the music that makes this song so incredible. The keyboards are incredible…and the drums always steal the show with this band. This song really does get better as the song progresses.

When Chaos Calls—-A gentle keyboard opens up this track before pure musical mayhem ensues. The clean vocal has a nice demented delivery to it…the drums…so fuckin fast I have whiplash. This is moody in it’s own way…but the band begins to suffer from the ‘sameness syndrome’ after a bit on this release. Thank God for the Death Metal elements that emerge here and there to keep everything a little more interesting. Sometimes this bands music just sounds like on long continuous song.

Erodent—-At this point in the release,and I don’t want to sound hyper-critical, this just sounds all the same to me. The music is very very, to much, consistent. I wish I could get an entire track with just the eerie, maniacal death rattle vocal. The clean vocal rarely has any musical differentials…everything seems to be in the same note. I would like a soaring scream here and there.

Noctilucent—-Slow and measured from the very first note, this is an even track. The music is fairly sedate and reminds me of a very peaceful, cold dark night. The sounds from the keyboards are incredible..it’s amazing what you can produce with a good machine. This is nice. The vocal finally enters….delivering much the same as we have had thus far…nothing new…this would have been a great instrumental track…in my opinion.

Terminus—-YES…..brutal and aggressive right from the first note…this is what I needed from this band. The dirty vocal [if you will] is extraordinary and driving. Much to soon everything is interrupted by a slower pace and the clean vocal…but the mayhem returns. I am very thankful for the variance in the sound of the song. You never quite know what to expect…I like this a lot.

Bonus Track:

Dominate Winds—-Really offering very little new, you can definitely say this band is very consistent in sound. This track sounds like the first…third and 8th. The variance is so minimal…it leaves me empty. I need a little differential to keep my attention. this release for me…was a disappointment.

**3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

Cannibal Corpse / Red Before Black

 

Red Before Black [Explicit]

Cannibal Corpse is an American death metal band from Buffalo, New York. Formed in December 1988, the band has released thirteen studio albums, two box sets, four video albums, and two live albums. The band has had little radio or television exposure throughout its career, although a cult following began to build after the release of the 1991 album Butchered at Birth and 1992 album Tomb of the Mutilated. As of 2015, they achieved worldwide sales of two million units for combined sales of all their albums, making them the top-selling death metal band of all time.

Bassist Alex Webster came up with the name Cannibal Corpse. They have had several lineup changes since their inception, with bassist Alex Webster and drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz as the only constant members. The members of Cannibal Corpse were originally inspired by thrash metal bands like Slayer and Kreator and other death metal bands such as Morbid Angel and Death. The band’s album art (most often by Vincent Locke) and lyrics, drawing heavily on horror fiction and horror films, are highly controversial. At different times, several countries, such as Germany and Russia, have banned Cannibal Corpse from performing within their borders, or have banned the sale and display of original Cannibal Corpse album covers.

The Analysis—-

Only One Will Die—-There is never any guess work involved with the emergence of a new CC release. You can expect consistency and general mayhem…this is no exception. Although the grotesque lyrics seldom differ, the band remains as tight and practiced as ever. George delivers a blistering vocal that leaves me breathless…this is both consistent and incredible. The double tracked vocals at the end of the track are incredible….the break neck guitar delivery leaves you exhausted!

Red Before Black—-The intro of this song delivers a surprising melody line that is catchy as hell and remains underneath the noise for the entire song. One of the best CC songs in years, this is catchy almost and irresistible to my ears. I never tire of this band….brutal and accessible.

Code Of The Slashers—-Deeper in tone and almost plodding at the onset, this creates a whole mood all of its own from the first note. George delivers a belly growl that is slow paced and demented in tone. The entire track has an eerie and bloody feel to it…even when the track picks up speed at the second bar, the song still keeps it’s structure. This is really a bunch of talented guys…any one who thinks playing this type of music is easy is mistaken.

Shedding My Human Skin—-Again…a slower intro opens the track. The guitars are in perfect unison with each other…giving the song that classic heavy metal swing of the guitars back and forth with each other. George belies age and times with his consistent and incredible ability to growl from the depths of hell and then toss in a demented shriek here and there. This is actually catchy…the chorus is a proper thing here and you can actually make out some words!

Remaimed—-Intense and deep in tone, the vocal comes out of the dark in a slow growl that seems to grow with intensity as the drums egg him to keep up the pace. The song has actual movements…the pace slows to a crawl…then rips itself wide apart again in a fierce gallop. Just incredible….not disappointed one iota.

Firestorm Vengeance—-A perfectly blended shitstorm of noise and electric perfection with a healthy dose of demented Corpsegrinder. This is very reminiscent of Evisceration Plague….I can almost here the track playing over it….but it stands on it’s own very well. This is fantastic.

Heads Shoveled Off—-Kicking into full gear from the very first note, this leaves you no time to catch your breath. The music is so tight and well delivered….the vocal seems to glide right over the mayhem that is going on everywhere in the track. The drums are stellar…as always with this band….this is perfect to me.

Corpus Delecti—-Dense and layered with some nice breaks at a moments notice…how can you play so fast and brake solid and then magically pick back up again…this is a well honed science the band delivers. The classic CC guitar squeals are here…and the ever present drum onslaught is masterful.

Scavenger Consuming Death—–The lead off ‘single’ to this release, the sound of the song is unique to the other things on the album…although consistent with the sound of the band, I find this a little ‘cleaner’ and filled with soaring lead guitar interludes. The vocal is a bit lighter….the melody line underneath of it all irresistible. Midway through the song, the bass line that kicks in is just phenomenal.

In The Midst Of Ruin—-Classic CC guitar squeals ride throughout this track…bringing to mind classic tracks from the past. George burps and growls his way through the song…the bass line leading the song over blackened hills and hell fire storms of hate and gross imagery. This is everything I could possible ask for!

Destroyed Without A Trace—-With an almost funky little bass line underneath of the track, the mayhem is still firmly intact throughout the song. One of the weaker tracks on this release, it is the ‘chorus’ that saves it from trash.

Hideous Ichor—-Deep and intense dark music introduces the final track on the release. Delivered with finesse and practice, the classic onslaught follows with much as you would expect. This is well constructed…the back drop bass line almost becomes a curtain of noise behind the song. This is a fantastic track….I’m ready for more.

****out of 5