A Tribute to the Misfits
Energy hailing from the Boston area's New World's of Fear was one of my favorite punk releases of last year. Tank and company just released a brand new EP "A Tribute To The Misfits" and it's already made a number of rotations on my play list this week. Thanks to the band's front man, Jason Tankerley, I was able to get an early listen before the masses.
I'm a huge fan of the Misfits who basically invented the "Horror" punk genre. Energy have been carrying on the tradition in their own youthful Horror meets Power punk style. These guys know the Misfits sound inside and out. While many tribute albums can be a mixed bag, Energy do the horror forefather's real justice.
The setlist nails down some of the greatest Danzig era Misfits tunes in their catalogue. The crisp riffs and sing along chants of Astro Zombies kick off the cd. What an opener! Tanks' smooth delivery allows the lyrics to really set in. Looking back at this song you realize how much the Misfits borrowed from the 50's and 60's doowop beat. This is quite possibly the best traditional cover of the song that I've heard. The quintessential assassination song, BULLET, is up next. Energy injects a nice bit of soaring AFI style background vocals into the song which really adds a new dimension to the song. While not as dirty as the original it definitely sounds much more current and gives the track a sense of urgency.
The ominous opening riff of WE ARE 138 has always been one of my favorite punk riffs. Energy once again nails, I say nails, the Misfits tone. The final background shouts are classic! Another one of my personal favorites, ATTITUDE, is short and in your face. I can't say it enough, Energy do these songs justice. The band's take on Hollywood Babylon reminds me a lot of the Grave's era Misfits sound. I might be rare as a diehard fan but I appreciate both band's era's equally so I'm completely digging hearing the two legacies come together. I carry that statement over to probably one of the most popular 'fits tunes, Die Die My Darling. Another great cover that blends the eras and clearly showcases the band's own affection for these tunes. I'm extremely happy to hear that Energy closed out the EP with my personal favorite, Where Eagles Dare. The pure confidence and vitriol of the lyrics nailed it for me the first time I heard it on the The Misfits Collection Vol. 1. This specific cover comes from Energy's early recording days and hell if you're gonna include an older song on an EP, it's gotta be a classic.
Overall, this is what I have been hoping to hear from a tribute album for literally years. I recall the disappointment of picking up compilations in the 90's and early 2000's when everyone and their brother were putting out some type of Misfits tribute to capitalize on the rebirth of the band's popularity. So many bands talked the talk but never walked the walk. The band Energy is the product of the history of bands like the Misfits, Ramones and AFI. There is an absolute love for the music and respect for the fans of those bands. When Energy cover one of those bands, say like they did with the Ramone's Pet Sematary on New Worlds of Fear, you can hear how much they respect the songwriting and craftsmanship of the music. I'll give a band like that all the respect in the world. So I say, if you're a real Misfits fan, pick this cd up or download it off the bandcamp site. Support the bands that keep this music alive.
Tank - Vocals & Guitars
Conor O'Brien - Bass & Additional Guitars
Kevin Thompson - Drums
Robert Cheeseman - Additional Guitars
Conor O'Brien - Bass & Additional Guitars
Kevin Thompson - Drums
Robert Cheeseman - Additional Guitars
Official Website: http://ThisEnergy.com
Official Label Site: http://MonsterPartyRecords.com
Official Label Site: http://MonsterPartyRecords.com
Red Dragon Cartel
After years spent at the bottom of bottle, Lee makes the best of his "comeback" conjuring up some of the classic early to mid 80's Ozzy sound. D.J. Smith is the perfect compliment to Lee's soaring guitar riffs and solos. Smith has amazing range and his tone at times harkens to the mid 80's Ozzy sound as well. Overall the band rocks. The guest appearances showcase Lee's ability to work with pretty much anyone. The rest of the tracks are just as great. This is honestly the best guitar driven band I've heard in a long time. Welcome back Mr. lee.
Ashes of Ares - Self Titled LP
reviewed by Grownman
Iced Earth's former frontman Matt Barlow has been in and out of the metal scene throughout his career. Ashes of Ares is a reentry point for Barlow. I first heard Barlow's vocals on Iced Earth's covers cd Tribute to the Gods. I loved the album. I think Barlow's voice had a lot to do with it. His work on covers of Kiss songs were top notch and I'm not a huge Kiss fan. I wasn't an Iced Earth fan either before that cd and I really haven't listened to them since. He left, returned and once again left Iced Earth since that album. He's been a police officer and a member of an officer's band during hiatus's. His focus hasn't always been 100% according to some of his critics. I chose to review this album based on good faith and my love for that Tribute to the Gods album.
|ASHES OF ARES|
Ashes of Ares is Matt Barlow. Yes, the band is made up of some well established players. Freddie Vidales also of Iced Earth does a great job as both guitarist and bassist. Nevermore drummer Van Williams hasn't sounded better. But don't be fooled, Barlow is the true focus of the album. Ashes of Ares is the bloomin' Barlow onion. With so many Barlow vocal tracks being dubbed over each other throughout each song how the hell do they plan on playing this live? To coin a phrase, these songs are BARLOW-centric.
Barlow's voice is distinct. It's Paul Stanley in the highs and Gene Simmons/Zack Wylde in the "mean guy"low end parts. When it's great, it's phenomenal. When it's bad, it's laughable. Barlow's forte is in the Paul Stanley register. The lower register really lacks balls and doesn't exhude the ominous nature that the lyrics are trying to represent. For the better of part of listening to this I've found myself wondering when I'll hear one cohesive song in the lot. The album is the equivalent of one actor playing many parts yet looking the same as each character.
A big fault in some of these songs is the songwriting. Soft parts are forced into heavy songs and you're never quite sure where they are really trying to take a message. I just hear a lot of Barlow's vocal theatrics and it gets to be too much.
Musically the band plays some pretty mean heavy metal. "WHAT I AM" starts off with a pretty menacing intro, up there with the best Iced Earth songs and then launches into a hybrid of Zack Wylde singing over Paul Stanley parts that completely requires me to extend my disbelief that this isn't just merely a stage for Barlow's vocal acrobats to be put on display. Vocals for vocals sake get tired really quick.
The 80's hair metal lyrics are hard to get past as well. I hear the words "Wings of Warrior", "Crimson Eyes" and my mind starts to go places outside of the landscape of enjoying anything this album has to offer. The bonus track is the acoustic version of "The Answer". Sadly it's too late to redeem itself as Barlow's voice sounds like sour milk as he performs his "I'm trying to sound genuine as I sing the awful lyrics of this song in my best try at a David Coverdale impression". Jack Black's Dio Impersonation sounds more legit.
Overall I'm disappointed with this cd. Maybe it's trying too hard to be something it's not. The musicianship is top notch. If they set out to create a really heavy and modern sounding album, I think they may have succeeded. If they set out to showcase Barlow's range, I'm not sure layering different octaves and harmonies of his voice in almost every song accomplishes that. If they spent as much time crafting well written songs as they did playing with the vocal tracks maybe this would be a much better showing for three guys who've known success with their alternate bands.
CHAOS - Violent Redemption
reviewed by Grownman
I recently found this band just by chance as I did my daily walk through of new bands and titles on bandcamp. After listening to Violent Redemption, I just have to say Chaos is one hell of a band of musicians. Let's talk shop.
Chaos has a nice mix of the classic crossover style with a more modern style of playing. If you're sick of hearing bands that intentionally rip off DRI albums to give instant gratification to the ears of those who just don't know better, you've come to the right place.
|CHAOS from India know how to shred!|
The lead and rhythm on this entire album is on par with just about any of the Big 4's best efforts. JK's vocals are crisp, cutting and pissed. They never get completely out of hand or to the point of really taking the listener out of the songs. Lead riffmaster Nikhil's delivery is reminiscent of some of the most skilled players in the business, Dimebag and Ian to just name a few. Vishnu on Bass and Rohit on drums deliver a thrash attack on par with some of the best rhythm sections in the genre.
"Saint" is by far my favorite track on the album. It instantly brings to mind Anthrax, Slayer and Pantera all balled up in one. Nikhil's solos on the track are really a class act.
That said there are a few moments on the record where I think the band starts to get a bit repetitive. Luckily the band pulls out of those moments to display some great musicianship. "Heaven's Gate" is a prime example of where the feel of the song hits a lull and the vocal delivery starts to be too much of the same jag. The song rights itself with a really quality instrumental interlude before picking back up into the chorus at the song's close.
Overall, the band is super polished and craft songs that are worthy of being on the same shelf as the big names I've mentioned. Moments where they go out on a ledge are pretty brilliant. Some of my favorite parts of songs are where they get lost in a riff or get out of their comfort zone like the title track "Violent Redemption". With all the weapons in their arsenal it would be nice to see them break down the doors of their practice space and go exploring more in their next release.
For fans of Anthrax, Slayer and Pantera I think you'll like what you hear.Listen to Chaos on Bandcamp
WRITHE - a sexy and slow burn track with a cool drum/vocals combination that builds to the signature American Head Charge in your face chorus. Nice textures in the song without being bogged down with too many effects. Perhaps you could call this a more stripped down sound. The powerful chorus is used quite effectively to contrast the slow build of the beginning of the song
Set Yourself On Fire - this song feels really dark from the start. Heavy bass and drum intro. Almost tribal beats transitioning into menacing guitars. The vocals start low and transition into a really great pissed off delivery. What sounds like the whir of a bone saw swirls beneath the mid point of the song works perfectly with acoustic strumming coming over the top of the effects. The song continues to develop throughout the song with a really dark and memorable chorus that sticks in your head.
Sugars of Someday - This is a real rock sounding song. The light and airiness of the song complete with Hand Claps lead into dark and sinister places. Cameron really set's the tone with a delivery no short of a carnival barker from hell. The song rounds itself out returning to the chorus and closes with the rock sound the song began with.
Sand - absolutley my favorite track on this ep and perhaps one of their best. They definitely succeed in bringing back a sound that's been missing for many years now. The vocals enter at almost a whisper and build with deadly intentions. When the chorus kicks in, the band grinds out a heavy dose of sludge as Cameron delivers a scream that could peel paint and turn sand into glass. This song is worth the price of the EP itself.
Rock n Roll N*gger - This is an unexpected Patti Smith cover, delivered in the vein of bands like Monster Magnet and Rob Zombie. This track is hell raising fun. The provocative nature of the song fits well with AHC's rebellious and "take no prisoner's" attitude. For a song that was way ahead of it's time, this is the band to do it justice.
Overall Assessment: 95%
The Shoot EP is just the beginning. AHC is a band revitalized. This is not a comeback album. This is a WELCOME BACK album. Out of the scene for 6 years and having 3 stellar releases under their belt, this release puts AHC back on the map.
Shoot really showcases the band's growth in song writing and musicality. The songs are really focused. Sugars and Writhe build slower, draw you in and deliver that powerful punch towards the chorus. They have a much more rock sound and the tone of the two songs are more upbeat. Set Yourself on Fire and Sand are beasts. These songs develop quickly into the signature heaviness many fans know from their earlier work. The tracks are slick, dark and sinister.The Patti Smith cover feels like a release for a band that has had to face a lot of adversity in their downtime. It really highlights a fun side of the band. They have always been a band that loves to create powerfully driven music. I look forward to see what direction Shoot takes the band, I'm sure it'll be a hell of a ride.
SEE BELOW FOR TOUR DATES
and Check out AHC's Website at:
Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals
Walk Through Exits Only
1. Music Media Is My Whore
2. Battalion of Zero
4. Ursuper's Bastard Rant
5. Walk Through Exits Only
6. Bedroom Destroyer
8. Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens
HEAVY METAL TEXTBOOKS REVIEWWritten by GROWNMAN
1. Music Media Is My WhoreThe song is a steady war march of aggression. The track really feels like the album's mission statement.
"Regurgitation is boring!Emulation is death!Agitated, anthemic, discordant, chorals,Take over beginsNow."
2. Battalion of ZeroPhil and the illegals release the heavy artillery on this one. The band strafes the listener with an auditory barrage of strained guitars, bile scraping screams and the gallop of bass and drums only the four horsemen of the apocalypse could compete with. Phil's delivery is as strong and confident as I've ever heard. He transitions from what sounds like a pissed off general to an unhinged berzerker flawlessly.
3. BetrayedA really cool punk feel to Phil's delivery over a really heavy and crunchy rhythm. Blast beats, chugs and sludge permeate this track. Phil rages"I believe in mass obliquity…I’m convinced of a hidden agenda…I’m amazed at the mass hypnosis (I see)…"Now aint that some shit?
4. Ursuper's Bastard RantA very badass tune with really heavy riffage. Phil's rabid beast delivery breaks into deadly and gutteral screams. The feel of the band's performance is akin to Slayer on steroids. Guitars wailing and stretching so high I can almost hear the frets snapping.
5. Walk Through Exits OnlyThis opens up so fast you're gasping for air by the time Phil delivers the lyrics "I walk through exits only…Because I can." It has a breakneck pace that crushes you over and over. The power of the riff is definitely compelling as the track drops down into a slower dirge and chug. Phil is at the top of his game from the moment this track opens. His delivery is agressive and exudes a really cool confidence singers half his age lack. The Illegals destroy and play phenomenally fast.
6. Bedroom DestroyerCommence the beatings. This is a punishing track. Time changes, fast chugs, blood chilling screams and the urgent pace of the song is dizzying in a great way. A brief atmospheric outro gives you a few seconds to collect yourself before everything just gets destroyed again on the following companion track. EPIC!
|Photography by Estevam Romera|
8. Irrelevant Walls and Computer ScreensA 12 minute epic! A combination of grinding guitars with hints of a bluesy jam meandering deep beneath the surface. A diaspora of despair, neglect, achievement and overcoming the trappings not only of the outside world but of one self.
The last 4 minutes of the song turn into a really bluesy and haunting jam.
HEAVY METAL TEXTBOOKS REVIEW SUMMARY = 100% SUCCESS
This album is epic. It's brutal as fuck. Phil's lyrics reveal a sober minded individual with clearly a lot more to say than the standard tough guy bullshit found in alot of the dick swinging metal community today.This is music for now. It's a much needed kick in the collective ass of society. The album's overall message about social awareness and personal responsibility shouldn't be overlooked. This is as good of a wake up call as any. Are we living the best we can or are we just cogs in the machine?
|Photography by Jimmy Hubbard|
Walk Through Exits Only • Project Credits
Philip H. Anselmo – voice and handmade special FX
Marzi Montazeri – axes and landscapes
Jose Manual Gonzalez – drumbeats
Bennett Bartley - GWB bassdose
Produced by Philip H. Anselmo and Mike Thompson
All songs written by Philip H. Anselmo
Recorded in 2011 at Nodferatu’s Lair, New Orleans
Tracked, engineered and recorded in 2011 by Stephen “The Big Fella” Berrigan
Mixed in 2013 by Mike Thompson at The Riff Factory
Mastered by Scott Hull in 2013 at Visceral Sound
Label: Housecore Records (Megaforce MRI)
Queensryche - Self Titled
X 2 - Intro sounds like a movie trailer score with the overall tone that fits with Operation Mind Crime
Where Dreams Go To Die - Great opening to this track. The march of drums and the echoing riff are a sounding call for what Queensryche fans have been waiting for. The vocals kick in slowly and build as the chorus comes into view. The songwriting is strong and harkens back to the Pre Burlesque era of Queensryche. Todd's range is what is most noticeable. His ability to hit the highs gives the band a new lease on life. A nice touch to the song is the added muffled voices that are reminiscent of "Operation Mind Crime" and "Empire". By itself this track can compete with some of their finest work.
Spore - Another strong track that could easily match their earlier success. A really tasty chorus. Todd's vocals are a perfect fit for the band and really makes the band sound much more current. I'm not missing Geoff Tate on this at all. The drive of the band which was missing for the last several albums is back.
In This Light - One of my favorite tracks. The songwriting is really enjoyable on this. While it's a slower paced song, it has direction and builds to a really cool chorus. Something I haven't heard by other bands in a long time. It's a song fans will definitely be singing along to. The band leaves room for the guitarists to be experimental in areas but the song doesn't lose it's focus. Todd's highs at the end of the song really cement him as a great Rock/Metal vocalist.
Redemption - Strong start to the song but I feel that this is the one track where they throw too many of their signature sounds into the song. This was the original track released as a teaser for the album. Todd's vocals sound tweaked and the dueling guitars are a bit too upfront and one dimensional for my liking. They are firing on all cylinders but maybe a more subtle approach to the mixing of this song would've improved it's overall feel.
Vindication - A strong driving track with a Maiden-esque feel. Todd has such great range pulling off highs in the chorus Geoff Tate hasn't seen since before Promised Land.
Michael Wilton: Guitar
Todd LaTorre: Vox
Scott Rockenfield: Drums
Eddie Jackson: Bass
Parker Lundgren: Guitar
Midnight Lullaby - The baby sounds remind me of the beginning of Silent Lucidity but maybe with a darker twist leading into the next track.
A World Without - A slow burn beginning with a touch of grunge reminiscent of Alice in Chains. Feels like an "EMPIRE" song and Todd sounds like Tate when he was at his strongest. Much darker feel similar to when Digarmo was writing for the band. Great use of violin at the tail end and a nod to the introductory Midnight Lullaby with the sounds of the baby again. Also a guest background vocal by Pamela Moore, original Sister Mary from earlier Operation Mindcrime albums.
Don't Look Back - This track kicks back into a fast paced attack. Scott Rockenfield's drums march through this entire track. I find myself waiting for a chorus that never seems to come. The drums and an echoey moment in the vocal delivery towards the end of the track reminds me of Whitesnake.
Fallout - Here's a song that focuses more on musicianship than hooks. Begins with a crunch and transitions into flourishes of duel guitars. It's not an extremely memorable song with very few things that I could go back and say stand out compared to the songs that surround it. Still compared to the last three QR releases this shows a band finding it's way.
Open Road - Great song to go out on. Mid paced, strong chorus and that signature "EMPIRE" era sound. Todd's vocals are very strong and the chorus is anthemic. A real quality guitar solo that I haven't heard on a Queensryche release in some time. The band leaves you wanting more with the track concluding a 40 minute adventure that puts this version of the band back on the map.
Heavy Metal Textbooks Assessment: 90% out of 100%
After reading about all the drama that has been taking place between fans and media over dropping original lead singer Geoff Tate, I was really relieved to hear this release. This indeed is what true Queensryche fans have been waiting for years. They have pulled from their greatest assets, great song writing and stellar musicianship and injected a talented vocalist with range to create much more inspired music.
This is the start of something the fans will be getting behind for years to come. While I would've left a few tracks off like Redemption and Fallout, the overall feel of the album is incredible. Anything else called Queensryche(Tate's rag tag bunch) out there is barely a sad shadow of what they once were. Do your homework pick up the self titled and say FU to the rest.
A diehard Sabbath fan's review
The big question, END OF THE BEGINNING OR THE BEGINNING OF THE END?
End Of Beginning - (4 out of 5) - track opens with a classic Heavy as F*ck Iommi riff and sets the stage for this dark and haunting epic. Ozzy hasn't lost a step as he reincarnates the mad man we all know and love. The strain and slight warble of a journeyman stripped of all the effects that fans have been accustomed to since his solo Ozzmosis back in the 90's. Originally leaked on youtube, this was the track that set my mind at ease about this long awaited album. Geezer and Wilk are indeed a strong unit that flow under the assault of Iommi and Ozzy.
God Is Dead? - (3 out of 5) - I admit the track is still growing on me. This being the first single off the album, I've probably listened to it the most. In it's entirety it touches all the bases of what I was expecting. Ozzy is his quintessential "lunatic trapped in his own head" self on this one. While the song is what I expected, full of doom, gloom and maintains its Sabbath character. I felt that the song may have been too deliberate. Plus the lyrics "Give me the wine, you keep the bread" really gets under my skin.
Loner - (3.8 out of 5) - a real 70's style rocker. The main character of the song feels very much like the subject of Iron Man. Not so much the musicianship but definitely the lyrics. A threatening and singular figure to the outside world. Tony throws in some really nice bong water soaked shag carpet licks towards the latter part of the track. It makes one wonder how many Iommi riffs we have yet to hear blasted through our stereo cabinets in mom's old basement.
Zeitgeist - (5 out of 5) - This is my favorite track on the entire album. Hand drums, acoustic guitars and the classic distorted vocals of Planet Caravan make this more of a sequel than an homage to the aforementioned classic. It is the one track that could honestly have fit on any of their earlier work without a hitch. A psychedelic film of despair and solitude covers the entire track.
Age of Reason - (5 out of 5) - the entire band hits it's stride with this one. With swinging drums, bass and more Iommi riffage than you can shake an old man's gloomy cane at. This is indeed Black Sabbath of the new millennium. Everything I could hope for and more.
Live Forever - (4 out of 5) - great follow up to the track before it. Ozzy sounds great and the lyrics are pretty honest coming from men in their later years who indeed have confronted their own mortality(drug overdoses, health scares and ultimately Iommi's Cancer diagnosis) It's a contemplative song with some great transitions. Of the many songs on the album this track stands on its' own as it carries an upbeat tempo that harkens back to the masterpiece "Hole in the Sky".
Damaged Soul - (5 out of 5) - This is straight up Blues from Hell. The groove of the band is exceptional and you can feel all the members losing themselves in the music. No longer a band out to prove that they can stand the test of time. Ozzy pulls out the harmonica on this one and reminds us of where the band started. Dirty old Birmingham Blues never sounded better.
Dear Father - (3.5 out of 5) - Plenty of riffs, bass and swinging drums. The vocals are plodding and the lyrics speak about the hypocrisy of religion and molestation. The chorus sounds more like one you'd find on one of Ozzy's Solo Albums. The song closes with a throw back to the band's beginning. A real call back to the opening track of this cd. Is 13 the Beginning of the End for the greatest Heavy Metal Band that ever existed or is this just the End of the Beginning of what's yet to come?
DELUXE EDITION ADDITIONAL SONGS
Piece of Mind - (4 out of 5) - Another strong intro riff. Ozzy finds a really good rhythm in his delivery on this one. The song pace is slower and more straight forward. As the song transitions it fits more of a Ozzy solo template. This type of song allows Ozzy to deliver his lines with more purpose.
Medthadenmic - (4 out of 5) - Every time I hear this I'm kinda thrown off by the opening riff. A repetitious grinding guitar riff Iommi uses throughout the song. Ozzy himself has penned this song's lyrics and his delivery is reminiscent of his mid eighties hey day. The steady patter and swing of the drums later on in the song bring this track back around to a fast paced juggernaut. This is definitely written by a man who's as close to the subject of drugs and addiction as anyone on the planet.
Pariah - (4 out 5) - Slow intro leading into a real classic sounding Rock and Roll swing with a touch of dare I say Rage Against the Machine slowed down a half step. Another track that harkens back to Sabbath's signature sound with a gritty rock feel. The imagery hits upon drugs, the antichrist and even one verse is a call back to "Suicide Solution". The chorus is pretty simple and catchy. I'm glad that it was included in the three song deluxe version. All of these songs have a place but I think they work better on their own rather than in the mix of the much heavier songs.
OK, that's my take. What's your take?