Kataklysm – Prevail (2008)

Kataklysm – Prevail (2008, Nuclear Blast)

  1. Prevail
  2. Taking The World By Storm
  3. The Chains Of Power
  4. As Death Lingers
  5. Blood In Heaven
  6. To The Throne Of Sorrow
  7. Breathe To Dominate
  8. Tear Down The Kingdom
  9. The Vultures Are Watching
  10. The Last Effort (Renaissance II) (instrumental)

Band Lineup:
Maurizio Iacono – Vocals
Jean-François Dagenais – Guitars
Stéphane Barbe – Bass
Max Duhamel – Drums

Producer: Jean-François Dagenais

Total Time = 44:08

Kataklysm official website
Kataklysm MySpace page
Nuclear Blast USA
Nuclear Blast USA Myspace page

Montreal’s Kataklysm just released their ninth studio album, PREVAIL, and are considered one of Death Metal’s most consistent bands. Being that Death Metal is not my expertise, I turned this new album on and was completely surprised. To my ears most Death Metal sounds the same: a lot of unintelligible growls, blastbeats, and Thrash. I found some of that on PREVAIL but what I noticed almost immeadiately was that I could understand the vocals and there is a real sense of melody. Maurizio Iacono’s vocals are harsh and range from gut-wrenching growls to a higher scream but the main thing is that I could understand every word. One of the things that turns me off to Death, and even Black Metal, is that I can’t understand what the hell any one is saying! It doesn’t matter to me if the music is high quality, if I can’t understand what the singer is singing, it throws off my enjoyment.

Most of the actual music sounds more like Traditional or Power Metal than regular Death although there are times where the Thrash/drum blastbeat foundation is featured. I listened very closely to the album but when I got to track 7, ‘Breathe To Dominate’, I realized that there was more here than just my pre-conception of what Kataklysm was about. The chorus of ‘Breathe To Dominate’ is, for lack of a better word, catchy…..I found myself singing along to the chorus almost immeadiately so I went back and restarted the album to seek out the other melodic hooks in the rest of the songs. I think that because the music has a balance between Thrash and Traditional Metal, there is more room for the band to explore different styles than be caught within a certain set of rules. Now this sense of melody doesn’t mean that Kataklysm has become less heavy, they are a very intense and brutal sounding band. There are miles of crushing guitar riffs and blistering solos and the bass and drums sound powerful and huge keeping in line with the band’s self description of their music as “Northern Hyperblast”. Take a close listen to the ending track, ‘The Last Effort’, an instrumental that shows Kataklysm’s heaviness and their melodic sensibilities, a perfect blend.

Bottom Line:
I have listened to a lot of music that’s been released this year, everything from Hard Rock to Metal to AOR and now to Death Metal. Of all the new releases I’ve heard this year, PREVAIL is one of the albums that has received more spins than most. I honestly expected not to like this record because Death Metal is not my usual Metal but what I discovered is that this melodic hybrid of Death is starting to become part of my usual Metal. Kataklysm has opened my ears to a solid album and a genre of Metal I’ve been neglecting.

Favorite songs: ‘Breathe To Dominate’, ‘Prevail’, ‘Taking The World By Storm’, ‘Blood In Heaven’


Gigantour 2 DVD (2008)

Gigantour 2 DVD (2008, Image Entertainment)

Concert footage – (66 mins):

  1. The Smash-Up – ‘Effigy’
  2. Sanctity – ‘Beneath The Machine’
  3. Into Eternity – ‘Severe Emotional Distress’
  4. Overkill – ‘Necroshine’
  5. Overkill – ‘Rotten To The Core’
  6. Arch Enemy – ‘We Will Rise’
  7. Arch Enemy – ‘Nemesis’
  8. Opeth – ‘The Leper Affinity’
  9. Lamb Of God – ‘Vigil’
  10. Lamb Of God – ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’
  11. Megadeth – ‘Take No Prisoners’
  12. Megadeth – ‘The Scorpion’
  13. Megadeth – ‘Washington Is Next’

Bonus Material – (60 mins):

  1. Behind The Scenes documentary
  2. Megadeth – ‘Peace Sells’ (bonus track)

(Region 1, NTSC, Total Running Time = approx. 126 mins)

Gigantour official website
Megadeth official website

Megadeth mainman Dave Mustaine founded the Gigantour in 2005 to bring different styles of Metal, and some of the lesser known Metal bands, to more fans and bigger arenas annually. Currently the tour is in it’s third North American run, headlined by Mustaine’s Megadeth, and is bringing bands like Job For A Cowboy, High On Fire, and Children Of Bodom out of the underground and straight into the mass markets. That is now, what this DVD celebrates is the second Gigantour, featuring some of the big names in Metal: Arch Enemy, Opeth, Lamb Of God and Overkill, and most of the footage is from one of the tour stops in Florida in October 2006.

The DVD breaks down into two parts: the concert footage and the bonus behind the scenes documentary. The concert footage is pretty good…..both audio and video are flawless, everything is crystal clear and there are plenty of cameras. The only complaint I have, and it’s a minor one, is the editing. The edits are fast and furious…..one second you’re looking at the singer, then it’s a quick hit to the drums, quick to the audience, fast to the drums, to the bass, to the audience again, to the singer…..you get the idea. The editing is as fast and frantic as some of the music. Personally, I prefer some long wide shots of the full stage and some lingering shots on band members for more than a couple seconds. That said though, the picture and camera work is well done. I did notice that some of the swearing in the onstage banter (watch Lamb Of God’s set) is deleted, kind of odd for a Metal DVD.

The performances are top notch of course, each band is at the top of their game. The whole DVD is a sampling so it’s not each band’s full setlist but only a couple of songs. I have never heard the music of The Smashup or Sanctity and each only gets one song, as does Into Eternity who is a superb Metal band. I would have loved to get a couple more songs from Into Eternity but there is only so much room and ‘Severe Emotional Distress’ has to satisfy. Thrash legends Overkill sound just as good now as they did almost 25 years ago pumping out the classic ‘Rotten To the Core’ and the title track from 1999’s NECROSHINE. Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy showed me that she has an intense vocal delivery, I knew that from the albums already but to see her on stage was pretty cool. This great singer delivers some of the most brutal, almost painful looking, growls and screams I have ever heard/seen over some serious guitar work.

I was a little disappointed to only get one song (‘The Leper Affinity’) from Opeth but it was a seriously long one from BLACKWATER PARK (2001). Only so much time on the DVD for every band but you could tell that Opeth had to have put on a great show because it was a flawless performance. Lamb Of God gets the audience up to a moshing frenzy with ‘Vigil’ and ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’. I remember when Lamb Of God debuted as Burn The Priest and now here they are second billing to the legendary Megadeth! The headliners get the most songs on the DVD with three barnburners in ‘Take No Prisoners’ (from 1990’s RUST IN PEACE), ‘The Scorpion’ (from 2004’s underrated THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED) and ‘Washington Is Next’ off the latest record UNITED ABOMINATIONS (2007). If you count the bonus track of ‘Peace Sells’, that’s four big ones from the headliner!

The Bonus Material section breaks down into two parts: the ‘Peace Sells’ bonus track and a 60 minute tour documentary. The documentary is a behind the scenes look at the tour from load in to break down, from backstage drama to on the road hi-jinx. What is cool is the commentary from Dave Mustaine on each band and why he hand-picked them for Gigantour and the interviews with the other bands. It’s a solid supplement to the actual performances and is something more than just a bonus.

Bottom Line:
I missed the tour last year (and now this year too!) but this DVD gives me a sample of what I missed. Audio and visual are professionally well done, the band’s are all in top form, and the performances are brutal, headbanging, and amazing. Some of the bands on the tour I was only a casual fan of (Arch Enemy, Opeth, Lamb Of God) but now I will pay a lot more attention to them. Into Eternity and Overkill were already bands I enjoyed but seeing a bit of live stuff has me looking forward to their next tours. Megadeth never disappoints…..I’ve seen them live many times and they always put in a solid show. If you want to see some different bands, some heavy bands, some bands that are huge in the Metal scene then go pick up Gigantour 2 DVD.

There’s also a CD version with a slightly different tracklisting but I haven’t picked that one up yet.

Swashbuckle – Crewed By The Damned (2006)

Swashbuckle – Crewed By the Damned (2006, Bald Freak Music)

  1. Under The Black Flag
  2. Welcome Aboard
  3. Drink Up
  4. Set Sail
  5. Walk The Plank
  6. What A Ship Is
  7. Dead Men Tell No Lies
  8. The Wooden World
  9. “X” Marks The Spot
  10. Rum Runners
  11. Upon The Spanish Main
  12. The Bazaar
  13.  Jolly Roger
  14. Paradise Defined
  15. Crewed By The Damned
  16. A Fool’s Errand
  17. (untitled track – 2:05)*
  18. (untitled track – 0:26)**

* Some websites have this song listed as ‘Pirate Jargon’.
** Some websites have this song listed as ‘Nautical Nonsense’.

Band Lineup:
Admiral Nobeard – Vocals & Bass
Commodore Redrum – Guitar & Keyboards
Captain Crashride – Drums
Rowin’ Joe Po – Guitars (no longer in the band)

Produced by: Swashbuckle

Total Time = 42:33

Swashbuckle official website
Swashbuckle MySpace page
Bald Freak Music

New Jersey Thrash metallers Swashbuckle bill themselves as “Pirate Metal”. An interesting concept, take one look at the album cover and band pictures and you see that the band have taken to using the pirate concept to the extreme in their indentities, costumes, language, and attitude. Heavy Metal using pirates as subject matter has been around for a long time with the German Power Metal band Running Wild…..they started things off in 1987 with UNDER GOLLY ROGER. So when I put CREWED BY THE DAMNED on the stereo and heard the opening intro ‘Under The Black Flag’, a cool Spanish style acoustic sea shanty, I figured I’d get a faster version of Running Wild. I had no idea that Swashbuckle would use a Death Metal growl!

Normally, bands that use a gimmick come off as a joke. Well, the joke is on us because ‘Welcome Aboard’ is a brutal Thrash feast with the unexpected Death vocals of Admiral Nobeard and the searing guitars of Commodore Rerum & Rowin’ Joe Po. A pirate and his ale are never parted and Swashbuckle’s ‘Drink Up’ is a celebration of just that and has become the band’s signature song with the slogan emblazoned on some of the band’s merchandise. ‘Drink Up’ is another really good old school Thrash song with big time riffs, something that Swashbuckle has all over the album.

‘Set Sail’ is another acoustic sea shanty that starts a pattern for the album. From now on, each thrash beating will be separated by this type of musical interlude using acoustic guitars, keyboards, and percussion. The instrumentals are quiet, almost soothing, and set the listener up by sailing them on calm seas and then turning them over to the dangerous waves of each Thrash storm. I like the calm sense of melody on these shanties and each one sets a mood for the overall concept. There are six other shanties after ‘Set Sail’ — ‘What A Ship Is’, ‘The Wooden World’, ‘Rum Runners’, ‘The Bazaar’, ‘Paradise Defined’, & ‘A Fool’s Errand’. Honestly, these instrumentals remind me of Rennaisance music, especially ‘The Wooden World’, and I bet these guys could also carve a career out of that type of music just like Blackmore’s Night.

Back to the Thrash, ‘Walk The Plank’, ‘Dead Men Tell No Lies’ and ‘X Marks The Spot’ continue the fast pace and it’s only now I realize that the songs are sequenced to take us on a pirate journey. We’ve boarded the ship, drank up, hit the open seas, made a traitor walk the plank, and no we have the map to the treasure. The adventure continues with more Thrash and Death vocals on ‘Upon The Spanish Main’, ‘Jolly Roger’ and the title track. Each one of these fast heavy bursts is full of speedy riffs and solid drumming that drive each song. The musicianship is pretty damn good when compared to other bands out there and the vocals, even though I expected a clean sound, suit the music’s style. Nobeard uses his growl, scream, and guttural voice to really lend an unexpected punch.

There are two untitled songs tacked on the end of the official 16 song album: ‘Pirate Jargon’ & ‘Nautical Nonsense’. I looked all over the band’s offical website for titles to these two unlisted songs but I found them at another website. Either way, it’s a nice quick double bonus! ‘Pirate Jargon’ is one of the musical interludes and ‘Nautical Nonsense’ is a quick speed burst clocking in under 30 seconds.

Bottom Line:
I didn’t expect Swashbuckle to surprise me. Not knowing anything about the band, I expected Power Metal like Running Wild and I got well done Thrash with Death-laden vocals. I like the pirate concept, it’s an idea that not many bands use today and I’m surprised because of the popularity of all the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies has really carved a new niche of entertainment. Aside from Swashbuckle and Running Wild, I could only think of Alestorm and Verbal Deception sailing the same high seas looking for plunder. Swashbuckle has raised the flag high on their mast and they are sailing along a true course and I’m looking forward to another solid record from this crew soon.

Favorite songs: ‘Drink Up’, ‘Walk the Plank’, ‘Crewed by the Damned’, ‘X Marks The Spot’…..and I like all the shanties!

Engel – Absolute Design (2008)

Engel – Absolute Design (2008, SPV)

  1. In Splendour
  2. Casket Closing
  3. Next Closed Door
  4. The Hurricane Season
  5. Propaganda
  6. The Paraclete
  7. Scyth
  8. Descend
  9. Trial & Error
  10. I’m The One
  11. Calling Out
  12. Seven Ends

Band Lineup:
Niclas Engelin – Guitars
Marcus Sunesson – Guitars
Mangan Klavborn – Vocals
Michael Hakansson – Bass
Mojjo – Drums

Producer: Anders Fridén

Total Time = 46:42

Engel official website
Engel MySpace page

(NOTE — ABSOLUTE DESIGN was released in Europe in late 2007, the U.S. release was May 20, 2008)

Engel is a band from Gothenberg, Sweden that plays Melodic Death Metal with Industrial influences. Usually I can’t get by the growling vocals and overdone blastbeats of Death Metal but I do like some and I find that the Melodic sub-genre of Death is more to my preference when done well. As for Industrial, I don’t like sequencing, sampling, and synth overclogging my Metal, it’s too Nu-Metal (Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach) for me and I’m more of a traditionalist.

Right away I noticed that the songs have more to do with the Nu-Metal and Metalcore movements than actual Death Metal. There are those trademark growling vocals (sometimes) but most of the vocals are clean and remind me of Linkin Park and the like. Actually, the growls are better than the clean vocals but the screams sound processed and not guttural. The background vocals seem out of place as well. I also don’t like the down-tuned guitars and the lack of speed. Good Death Metal has at least some element of Thrash to it and this sounds more like every other trendy band out there. Nothing really jumps out and makes me take notice, aside from the band members’ pedigrees: In Flames, The Crown, Evergrey.

Bottom Line:
Nothing really impressed me and I really tried to enjoy this album. I must have listened to this CD a couple dozen times over the course of the last few days and all I could picture in my head was some of the bands I’d seen on Ozzfest — Papa Roach, Linkin Park, Static-X, Incubus, Drowning Pool, Limp Bizkit, Korn. Everything sounds the same to my ears and, if I want to hear down-tuned guitars and a light mix of growls, screams, and clean vocals, I can turn on the local Rock stations that specialize in this type of music. I knew I should have known better when I saw pictures of the band with matching outfits!

Favorite songs: none

R.I.P. – Michelle Meldrum (1968-2008)


From Bravewords.com:

On May 18, Michelle Meldrum, leader of the band Meldrum and former Phantom Blue guitarist, was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank in critical condition. She passed away late afternoon Wednesday, May 21, 2008 as a result of a cystic growth on her brain that had restricted oxygen and blood flow to her brain rendering her brain dead.

Meldrum had just completed writing and recording the bands soon to be released album with drummer Gene Hoglan, along with the new lineup Michele Madden (vocals) and Laura Christine (bass). The surviving band members plan to release the album later this year in tribute to their fallen band-mate.

Those who knew Michelle recognize that she lived every moment for the music, and was regarded as both an exceptional guitarist and a nurturer by her associates, friends, family and son.

Meldrum, 39 is survived by her parents and three year old son, Jake Thomas. Her family and band members appreciate all the support that has been shown over the past few days through this trying time. A memorial tribute benefit will be announced in the following weeks.

Michelle Meldrum was born on Sept 28, 1968 in Detroit, Michigan to a family of musicians and actors. At 13, Meldrum moved to Los Angeles, California and started her career in music by forming the thrash metal band WARGOD with drummer Gene Hoglan (DARK ANGEL, DEATH, and STRAPPING YOUNG LAD). When WARGOD disbanded Meldrum continued her search for a band and become both co-founder and lead guitarist in all girl metal/rock band PHANTOM BLUE. PHANTOM BLUE released their self-titled debut album on Shrapnel Records as well as Roadrunner Records, and eventually landed a deal with major label Geffen.

Once PHANTOM BLUE disbanded after a successful run at fame, Michelle Meldrum moved to Sweden and formed her current band MELDRUM. After many triumphant tours with such acts as MOTÖRHEAD and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, she reunited with Hoglan in 2006. Hoglan had appeared as a special guest on the MELDRUM album prior and played several events. Inspired to once again collaborate, Meldrum moved back to America where she and Hoglan began writing the aforementioned third MELDRUM album together.


Another life taken too soon. I became a Phantom Blue fan when I picked up their self-titled debut when it came out in ’89. Unfortunately, I hadn’t really kept up with the band or Meldrum. Thanks to Michelle for being a part of the soundtrack to my life and my condolences to her family, friends, and bandmates. Rest In Peace Michelle…..

— Steve

Týr – Land (2008)

Týr – Land (2008, Napalm Records)

  1. Gandkvaedi Trondar
  2. Sinklars Visa
  3. Gatu Rima
  4. Brennivin
  5. Ocean
  6. Fipan Fagra
  7. Valkyrjan
  8. Lokka Tattur
  9. Land
  10. Hail To The Hammer

Tyr - Land Promo pic 2008

Band Lineup:
Heri Joensen – Vocals, Guitars
Terji Skibenæs – Guitars
Gunnar H. Thomsen – Bass
Kári Streymoy – Drums

Produced by: Týr

Total Time = 1:08:28

Týr official website
Týr MySpace page
Napalm Records

LAND is my first listening experience with Týr. I had heard of the band in 2002 with the release of their debut full-length HOW FAR TO ASGARD but I really began to take notice when the band started to get major media attention following 2006’s RAGNAROK. I started to read up on the band and I saw that they were touring the U.S. on this year’s Paganfest. Not many bands from Europe, especially from the small Faroe Islands, tour the U.S. and generate a major buzz among fans, but Týr has.

Týr’s sound is a combination of traditional Folk and Power Metal mixed with Progressive elements. Some call the music Traditional Folk Metal, some Pagan Metal, but most use the term Viking Metal to best describe the Nordic and Icelandic themes that run through the music and the lyrics. Many, if not most, of the songs are sung in a combination of Faroese, English and Norwegian. For some this may be a turn-off but I find the different languages make the overall sound that much better. Language is a reflection of culture and an influence to the overall musical structures of the songs, using traditional rhythms and language adds a regional flavor and an exotic tone, especially to a listener in the U.S. that only knows English. Musically, Týr is technically sound. The guitars are really great and the rhythm section is tight but the vocals, especially the choir style, are particularly striking.

‘Gandkvaedi Trondar’ opens the album on a grand scale and is mostly instrumental with some vocals mixed in. I’m not really sure how this translates to the rest of the album because I think that opening with an instrumental can be a mistake. If the band is looking to establish a mood/feel to the album, then ‘Gandkvaedi Trondar’ sets it well. A grand Viking choir vocal opens ‘Sinklars Visa’ and it sounds great, it really hooks me in. It’s more of a mid-paced song with the non-English lyrics and the guitars are very heavy. ‘Gatu Rima’ is very similar to ‘Sinklars Visa’ but the song picks up pace a bit and the Viking chorus has a good hook to it, almost like a melodic traditional chant. English lyrics are mixed in to ‘Brennivin’ and the song is another mid-pace affair with a few quick guitar bursts. The are a few interesting drum fills as well as a very good solo section.

The 10 minute ‘Ocean’ is a solid track with excellent instrumental passages and English lyrics. Musically, it’s along the same lines as the rest of the album but I think I identified to it more because I could understand the words. ‘Ocean’ is a perfect example of the Progressive influence on Týr’s traditional folk style. The same goes for the 16+ minute ‘Land’, another Progressive song with English lyrics and exploring musical insturmentals. The Viking and Nordic themes to the band’s music are perfect tools to create musical epics and Týr has succeeded with both of these songs. The three songs between the epics (‘Fipan Fagra’, ‘Valkyrjan’, and ‘Lokka Tattur’) are very similar to the first few songs of the album. Of these three, I enjoyed ‘Valkyrjan’ most because it starts off quietly and slowly builds as the song progresses. ‘Hail to The Hammer’ was first released on the band’s debut HOW FAR TO ASGARD (2002) but it is included on LAND re-recorded by the current lineup. I’m not sure why this is relevant to the proper album but I’ll assume it’s to give fans an idea of what Heri Joesen sounds like on the early material from the first album.

Bottom Line:
For my first Týr experience, I really enjoyed the record. The band is technically sound and the song structures are very interesting but the Viking choir vocals are so powerful that they hooked me in right away. I know it might be a sticking point with some fans but I also liked the use of different languages on the album. When the band uses their native language, it adds that traditional folk element to the music, giving it variety and a uniqueness. I’m not sure how LAND compares to the first three Týr albums but I’m going to track them down because Týr has gained another fan. Now I’m kicking myself for missing the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival last month because the Paganfest played the NEMHF and Týr played live.

Favorite songs: ‘Ocean’, ‘Land’, ‘Sinklars Visa’, ‘Valkyrjan’

Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007)

Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007, independent release)

  1. This Is Thirteen
  2. Bombs Away
  3. Burning Bridges
  4. Ready To Fight
  5. Flying Blind
  6. Room
  7. Axe To Grind
  8. Feed The Greed
  9. Big Business
  10. Should’a Would’a Could’a
  11. Worry
  12. Game Over
  13. American Refugee

Band Lineup:
Robb Reiner – Drums
Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Glenn Five – Bass & Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Ivan Hurd – Guitar solos on ‘Burning Bridges’, ‘Worry’, & ‘Room #9

Producer: Chris Tsangarides

Total Time = 51:07

Anvil official website
Anvil MySpace page
‘The Story Of Anvil’ movie

Legendary Canadian metallers Anvil have taken matters into their own hands by self-financing and self-releasing their 13th album of their long 27 year career, THIS IS THIRTEEN. It turns out that Anvil couldn’t get any interest from labels around the world to release the new album so they decided to do it all themselves and release it through their website in October 2007. Only 1000 copies were made and it’s strictly limited edition…..it’s my opinion if they sold 1000 copies independently, then a label would come calling and distribute it worldwide.

So what does Anvil really have to offer with a new record? Well, if you’ve been even a casual fan then you know that Anvil stay pretty much within a certain framework when creating music. The band plays straight forward Heavy Metal…..sometimes it’s slow and pounding, sometimes it’s fast and furious…..there are great songs, there is filler. It’s similar to AC/DC not straying from their blues boogie Hard Rock roots, Anvil doesn’t stray too far from the formula that produced Metal classics like METAL ON METAL (1982) or FORGED IN FIRE (1983). The difference between the two bands is that AC/DC is revered and Anvil is thought of as a joke.

The joke is on everyone who didn’t pick this up yet because Anvil has created one heavy record. Lips is still a monster riff machine, Robb Reiner pounds his kit as hard as anyone in Metal and Glenn Five has the wild thumping bass to keep up with Reiner. ‘This Is Thirteen’ heavily plods along in a mid-pace pound that made Anvil famous in the early ’80s while ‘Bombs Away’ picks up the pace with some fast double bass drumming and a speedy main riff, a serious ’80s Metal feast! The old school feel continues with the heavy plodding ‘Burning Bridges’. The riff is classic early ’80s and the song sounds like it came out of 1986 on Metal Blade Records. Speed picks up again with the barnburning ‘Ready To Fight’. It’s similar to ‘Bombs Away’ in that it’s basically the same style (fast Heavy Metal) but there are some different drum patterns that make the song seem faster. Notice the balance? Mid-paced song, fast one, mid-paced song, fast one…..Anvil’s formula is predictable but so is their album sequencing!

Of course, ‘Flying Blind’ breaks the pattern because it’s another fast one but, aside from a decent riff, it’s sounds of filler and the chorus is way too repetitive but that’s what we expect from the old dogs. I swear that ‘Room #9’ is the same song as ‘Flying Blind’! The choruses sound almost exact but there are a couple of different guitar parts along with a really good solo…..I wonder if the band realizes how similar the songs are musically? ‘Room #9’ is about being committed due to insanity and I will be if I hear another copycat song! Anvil decides to pound their point home with their third burner in a row with the excellent ‘Axe To Grind’, a serious metaller with a big sounding main riff and bassline to go along with Reiner’s insane drumming. The band is tight and Lips sounds like he’s really putting top effort into his pain-filled vocals as he has into his excellent guitar work on the whole album. ‘Feed The Greed’ continues the fast pace with another solid tune, this has go to be a song Anvil plays live because it gets the fist pumping and the head banging! The band moves into familiar slower territory with ‘Big Business’, a commentary on the state of the world’s economic state and a companion piece to the faster ‘Feed The Greed’.

I don’t like ‘Should’a, Would’a, Could’a’, the lyrics just come off as second rate and it sounds like I’ve heard it all before. It’s a fast song but it sounds like all the fast ones before it, the band just doesn’t take many chances. Same with ‘Worry’, it’s fast but the lyrics are weak and sounds like it was thrown together too quickly. ‘Game Over’ has a totally different guitar tone and, finally, Lips and company take a new chance. Even the vocal sounds a little different, almost like Lemmy. Now that I think about it, Anvil has a lot in common with Motorhead too because Lemmy doesn’t stray far from their sound either. ‘Game Over’ sounds like a Motorhead tune. Anvil saves one of the best for last with ‘American Refugee’, another scorcher with great guitar work and drumming.

Bottom Line:
If you like straight forward, bare knuckled, traditional Heavy Metal that Anvil plays then THIS IS THIRTEEN is an album you want to check out. The band doesn’t stray too much from their usual style but that is what bands like Anvil do and that is what fans expect. If Anvil came out and played a brand of Progressive Metal or Glam-tinted Hard Rock, we would all be scratching our heads wondering what went wrong. It’s good to get what you expect, especially when it’s well done. Anvil sticks to their guns, plays their Metal, and does it with pride. THIS IS THIRTEEN is one of the most underrated records of 2007 and I have no idea why a label would pass this up!

Favorite Songs: ‘Axe To Grind’, ‘American Refugee’, ‘Game Over’, ‘Feed The Greed’, ‘Burning Bridges’

New HEAVEN AND HELL Album In 2009; More BLACK SABBATH Rules Of Hell Box Set Details Revealed

From Bravewords.com:

BLACK SABBATH Online’s Joe Siegler reports:

“I received a press release today regarding the upcoming Rules Of Hell box set, as well as the Metal Masters Tour. Most of what is contained within is information we already knew, but there were a few tidbits in here worth pointing out before you check out the full press release.

New Studio album in “Early 2009”: Previously it was expected that the new album from HEAVEN AND HELL would have been out late this year, but apprently that’s not happening.

According to this press release, the album will be out in “early 2009”. Now before a lot of fans go and get their panties in a knot, remember “early 2009” means more than “Up to January 10th”. Don’t forget, we’re getting a new Sabbath (yeah, yeah, yeah – It’s Black Sabbath, and you know it), album with Ronnie Dio – let’s give ’em a chance to do it right before bitching about WHEN, eh?

Album tracklistings: The track listing for the Rules Of Hell box set is below. As expected, no new tracks are here. It’s five discs, with Live Evil being put back to its original two disc configuration when released back in the day. The three Dio era studio albums have no new or unreleased tracks. I did notice that the version of Dehumanizer being used is now confirmed to be the US version, which means both versions of Time Machine will be on there.

Tour Dates: Not every date below on the Metal Masters tour will have all the bands. One date will not have JUDAS PRIEST, and one will not have MOTÖRHEAD (not the same date). If you’re in one of these cities, you’ll want to check the listing below.

Box Set Pricing: If you’re into buying your tunes from places like Apple and their iTunes store, the pricing will be of interest to you. The box set will be available the same day as the physical version (July 22nd) for a suggested retail price of $24.99. 25 bucks for all the Dio era albums is quite a nice price, so if you’re into buying your tracks digitally, that will be of interest to you.

Here’s the entire press release for you to check out:

Five-CD Boxed Set Features Newly Remastered Versions Of Every Dio-Era Sabbath Album, Available July 22 From Rhino

Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice Are Currently Recording Long Awaited New Heaven And Hell Studio Album, Set To Be Released By Rhino In Early 2009

Heaven And Hell Will Return to the Road This Summer for the Metal Masters Tour With Judas Priest, Motörhead, and Testament

LOS ANGELES – Heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath were reborn in 1980 when founding members Tony Iommi and Terry “Geezer” Butler added vocalist Ronnie James Dio to the lineup. The band’s short but memorable time together added an unforgettable chapter in Sabbath’s storied history. Rhino relives the demonic fury conjured by the Dio era with The Rules Of Hell, a boxed set featuring all three of the band’s studio releases (Heaven And Hell, Mob Rules, Dehumanizer) and their double live collection (Live Evil) – each recently remastered for the first time. The set comes packaged in a deluxe slipcase with extensive liner notes featuring all new interviews with the band. This five-disc boxed set will be available from Rhino on July 22 at all physical outlets, as well as http://www.rhino.com, for a suggested list price of $54.98. The set will also be available the same day at all digital outlets for a suggested list price of $24.99.

Two years ago, Dio, Iommi and Butler and drummer Vinny Appice reunited to record a trio of new songs for Rhino’s Black Sabbath: The Dio Years before launching a highly anticipated and greatly acclaimed world tour under their new moniker Heaven And Hell. Revitalized by the reunion, the lineup is back in the studio now recording the first ever full-length studio album from Heaven And Hell, set to be released by Rhino in early 2009. To whet the fans’ appetites for the new album, Heaven And Hell will return to the road for a short stint on the Metal Masters Tour, a month-long North American trek with Judas Priest, Motörhead, and Testament. This blistering metal juggernaut will launch August 6 in Philadelphia.

The Dio-era’s first effort, Heaven And Hell, hit the racks on April 25th, 1980. Greeted by ecstatic reviews, the album peaked at #9 in Britain. In the U.S., its Top 30 success gave the group its first platinum disc in six years. Opening with the chugging anthem ‘Neon Knights’, the album also includes the epic title track, ‘Wishing Well’, ‘Die Young’ and ‘Lonely Is The Word’.

The group’s follow-up, Mob Rules, was the first without original drummer Bill Ward, who was replaced with Appice. The album bristles with Iommi’s signature dark riffs, Butler’s elaborate bass lines, Appice’s hammering behind the drums and Dio’s inimitable growling. The album includes the high-octane tracks ‘Falling Off The Edge Of The World’, ‘Turn Up The Night’, and the title track – plus the mid-tempo rocker ‘Voodoo’ and the slow-churning epic ‘The Sign Of The Southern Cross’, a favorite among band members and fans alike.

Released in December 1982, Live Evil stands as a modern metal masterpiece and a testament to the power of the Dio, Iommi, Butler and Appice lineup. Recorded in Seattle, Dallas, and San Antonio, the sound is upfront and aggressive, a virtual front-row seat for epic versions of their classics including ‘Neon Knights’, ‘Children Of The Sea’, ‘The Sign Of The Southern Cross’ and ‘Heaven And Hell’.

Dehumanizer (1992) is seen by many metal aficionados as one of – if not the most – underrated work to ever carry the Sabbath name. After the lineup fell apart in 1982, the group reconvened a decade later to release this lost classic. The album forged something new, pushing its legend to a new generation of metal heads with incredible tracks like ‘I’, ‘Computer God’ and ‘TV Crimes’.

The Rules Of Hell tracklisting:

Heaven And Hell – ‘Neon Knights’, ‘Children Of The Sea’, ‘Lady Evil’, ‘Heaven And Hell’, ‘Wishing Well’, ‘Die Young’, ‘Walk Away’, ‘Lonely Is The Word’.

Mob Rules – ‘Turn Up The Night’, ‘Voodoo’, ‘The Sign Of The Southern Cross’, ‘E5150’, ‘The Mob Rules’, ‘Country Girl’, ‘Slipping Away’, ‘Falling Off The Edge Of The World’, ‘Over And Over’.

Live Evil – Disc 1 – ‘E5150’, ‘Neon Knights’, ‘N.I.B.’, ‘Children Of The Sea’, ‘Voodoo’, ‘Black Sabbath’, ‘War Pigs’, ‘Iron Man’.

Disc 2 – ‘The Mob Rules’, ‘Heaven And Hell’, ‘The Sign Of The Southern Cross/Heaven And Hell’, ‘Paranoid’, ‘Children Of The Grave’, ‘Fluff’.

Dehumanizer – ‘Computer God’, ‘After All (The Dead)’, ‘TV Crimes’, ‘Letters From Earth’, ‘Master Of Insanity’, ‘Time Machine’, ‘Sins Of The Father’, ‘Too Late’, ‘I’, ‘Buried Alive’, ‘Time Machine'(Wayne’s World Version).

Heaven And Hell North American tour dates (except where noted, all shows also feature Judas Priest, Motörhead, and Testament):

6 – Philadelphia, PA Susquehanna Bank Center
7 – Washington, DC Nissan Pavilion
9 – Holmdel, NJ – PNC Arts Center
10 – Wantagh, NJ – Jones Beach Theater
12 – Hamburg, NY – Grandstand Stage/America’s Fair **
13 – Toronto, ON – Molson Amphitheatre
15 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Arena##
16 – Pittsburgh, PA – Post-Gazette Pavilion
18 – Detroit, MI – DTE Energy Center
19 – Chicago, IL – First Midwest Band Amphitheatre
22 – Dallas, TX – Superpages.com Center
23 – Houston, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
24 – San Antonio, TX – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
27 – Albuquerque, NM – Journal Pavilion
28 – Phoenix, AZ – Cricket Wireless Pavilion
30 – San Bernadino, CA – Hyundai Pavilion At Glen Helen
31 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre

**Featuring Motörhead and Testament ONLY
## Featuring Judas Priest and Testament ONLY


Press Release: Tesla – Comin’ Atcha Live! 2008 DVD tracklisting & release date

From Bravewords:

TESLA’s Comin’ Atcha Live! 2008 DVD (Tesla Electric Company Recordings) is due out on July 15. The long anticipated live concert DVD was filmed live in Minnesota this year (on February 28th) and is the first live concert DVD released by Tesla since Five Man Acoustical Jam. The release includes many bonus features including an exclusive look at the band’s gear and behind-the-scenes life on the road.

The complete tracklisting is as follows: ‘Comin’ Atcha Live’, ‘What A Shame’, ‘Modern Day Cowboy’, ‘Miles Away’, ‘Heaven’s Trail’, ‘Mama’s Fool’, ‘Hang Tough’, ‘Dear Pvt. Ledbetter’, ‘Paradise’, ‘Love Song’, ‘What You Give’, ‘Song And Emotion’, ‘Heaven 911’, ‘Freedom Slaves’, ‘Rock Bottom’, ‘Into The Now’, ‘Signs’, ‘Little Suzi’, ‘Edison’s Medicine’.

“This DVD marks a new era creatively for Tesla because we put it all together ourselves, capturing the band’s concert and life on the road,” says lead guitarist Frank Hannon. “Nowadays, we are more involved in every aspect of our music career than ever before. We are very excited about the creative results and it really shows in the new DVD.”


Press Release: Hammerfall to release Rebels With A Cause – Unruly, Unrestrained, Uninhibited DVD & Masterpieces CD as limited edition package June 27, 2008 (video trailer included)

From Bravewords:

On June 27th Swedish metal Gods HAMMERFALL will release their new DVD, Rebels With A Cause – Unruly, Unrestrained, Uninhibited, along with a covers album called Masterpieces. The strictly limited edition features both releases in one package.

A video trailer can be seen below…

Rebels With A Cause – Unruly, Unrestrained, Uninhibited (DVD): “The DVD will be a continuation of the previous two (The First Crusade and The Templar/Renegade Crusades) and contain newly recorded interviews with the band interspersed with footage from their own cameras. The time span is six years, from the beginning of 2002 til the end of 2007, and it’s edited together as a documentary of sorts, i.e. one continuous film, but of course with chapters. Also included will be all six promo videos made during the time in question plus some behind the scenes, four professionally filmed live songs from Filderstadt 2005, five TV clips they have purchased the rights to from SVT (the Swedish national television network) and some more home-made stuff as bonus. The complete running time is estimated to 1h 30-1h 45 plus 1h 15-1h 30.”

Masterpieces (CD):
‘Child Of The Damned’ (Tsamis) – Originally recorded by WARLORD
‘Ravenlord’ (Spengler) – Originally recorded by Stormwitch
‘Eternal Dark’ (Lovell/Jaarsveld/Vreugdenhil/Manen/Bakker) – Originally recorded by PICTURE
‘Back To Back’ (Hammer/Owen/Atkins) – Originally recorded by PRETTY MAIDS
‘I Want Out’ (Hansen) – Originally recorded by HELLOWEEN
‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ (Blackmore/Dio) – Originally recorded by RAINBOW
‘Head Over Heels’ (Accept/Deaffy) – Originally recorded by ACCEPT
‘Run With the Devil’ (Wahlquist) – Originally recorded by HEAVY LOAD
‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ (Snider) – Originally recorded by TWISTED SISTER
‘Breaking The Law (Downing/Tipton/Halford) – Originally recorded by JUDAS PRIEST
‘Angel Of Mercy’ (Chastain) – Originally recorded by CHASTAIN
‘Rising Force’ (Malmsteen/Turner) -Originally recorded by YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN’S RISING FORCE
‘Detroit Rock City’ (Stanley/Ezrin) Originally recorded by KISS
‘Crazy Nights’ (Takasaki/Nihara) – Originally recorded by LOUDNESS
‘När Vindarna Viskar Mitt Namn’ (Holmstrand/Jansson/Dahl) – Originally recorded by ROGER PONTARE
‘Flight Of The Warrior’ (Reale/Van Stavern/Moore) – Originally recorded by RIOT
‘Youth Gone Wild’ (Bolan/Sabo) – Originally recorded by SKID ROW
‘Aphasia’ (Norum) – Originally recorded by EUROPE


What’s going on this week…..

As usual, I’m way behind listening to CDs. Right now I have a pile of 40 CDs that are either new releases I bought or albums I’ve received from bands/labels to review. There’s a lot of different styles and a ton of new music so things are going to get very review intensive around here.

The reviews that are definite this week are the latest from Engel, Shannon, Anvil, Swashbuckle, Tyr, and the Gigantour 2 DVD. I was supposed to have these last week but it’s safe to say I’ll never catch up!

The reviews I’m going to TRY to fit in are the new MSG, new Dokken, & the upcoming Kataklysm and W.A.S.P.’s DOMINATOR. Not sure if that WASP record will get in, I’m still listening to it.

An ambitious week for sure…..wait and see what happens!

I’m working on a couple of things to be posted later in the year:

  1. I’ve already started compiling my Top Albums of 2008. It’s never too late to start and I’ve been good at keeping up with major releases so this year’s list should be a Top 25 at least.
  2. I started a list of 2007 albums I missed and would have made the Top 15 or an expanded list.
  3. I have a list going of releases I haven’t picked up yet this year and why.