Attila – Rage (2010)

Attila – Rage (2010, Artery Recordings)

  1. The End
  2. Make It Sick
  3. The Invitation
  4. Rage
  5. Lights Out
  6. Temper
  7. Girls Don’t Lie
  8. Strikeout
  9. Cheyenne 420
  10. Jumanji

Band Lineup:
Fronz – Vocals
Nate – Guitar
Chris – Guitar
Sean – Drums
Comrie – Bass

Producers: Eric Rushing & Stephan Hawkes

Country: USA

Total Time = 27:01

Attila MySpace page
Artery Recordings

One of my goals for 2010 was to open up myself to different styles of Metal that I normally wouldn’t listen to. If you’ve read this website regularly then you know that more extreme forms of Metal outside of Thrash really don’t find their way on my stereo except for maybe the occasional “big name” group in a specific genre. I didn’t want to limit myself to just hard Rock and traditional forms of Heavy metal, I wanted to explore more Black Metal and Death Metal because I know that there are great bands that I’m missing out on. When Attila’s third album, RAGE, crossed my desk, I really didn’t give the band much though. Then I went over to their MySpace page and saw that they describe themselves as a “party death metal” band, that was enough for me to wonder what was inside the jewel case.

Like I said, extreme forms of Metal aren’t my strong suit so it’s a whole new world for me as I check out different bands but I had an open mind going into RAGE. Opening track ‘The End’  is actually a quick intro (26 seconds) and it moves right into ‘Make It Sick’, probably the best song on the album or at least the one I most enjoyed. Basically I can describe the entire album by describing ‘Make It Sick’ — buzzing guitars with good solos, double kick drums, “cookie monster” growling, high pitch vocals like Dani Filth from Cradle Of Filth and clean vocals that sound like Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit. It’s a complete mash of influences all rolled into each song and it all adds up to a distraction for me. Musically everything is good as far as I can tell, I like the traditional guitar solos on some of the songs, it’s the three different vocal styles that are throwing me off. Then there’s the songwriting which is either about partying, being a bad ass or not “giving a fuck”. Granted, most albums have the same themes running through most of their songs but it just feels like Attila’s writing is still a bit immature but, like the line in ‘Make It Sick’, Attila says, “I don’t give a fuck if you like this song!”.

Bottom Line:
This just isn’t the album for me. I tried…..I gave RAGE a ton of spins and I tried hard to make sense of the songs but I just kept coming back to the three different vocal styles, especially the Fred Durst-sounding clean vocals, that whining wail that made me want to punch Durst in the face! I like the music, I think the instruments are all tight, especially the guitars…’s the vocals that are killing it for me. Go either growls or screams, even both but lose the clean whines. Like I mentioned, this is Attila’s third album, and they look like a young band, so their influences might be all over the place. I wouldn’t mind hearing their next album to see if their songwriting matures and the vocals tighten up but I’m not going out of my way. Not a bad record but nothing really stuck except for a couple of songs.

Favorite Songs:
‘Make It Sick’, ‘Rage’

As Cities Burn – Hell Or High Water (2009)


As Cities Burn – Hell Or High Water (2009, Tooth & Nail)

  1. ’84 Sheepdog
  2. Errand Rum
  3. Into The Sea
  4. Made Too Pretty
  5. Lady Blue
  6. Petty
  7. Daughter
  8. Pirate Blues
  9. Capo

Band Lineup:
Cody Bonnette – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keys
Colin Kimble – bass, guitars, backup vocals
Aaron Lunsford – drums, percussion
Chris Lott – lead guitar
Produced by: Tyler Orr & Cody Bonnette

Total Time = 38:14

As Cities Burn MySpace page
Tooth & Nail Records

2009 has been a great year so far for Hard Rock & Heavy Metal new releases but there is always a few albums that cross my desk that are awful and a waste of my time. The first suspect of 2009? HELL OR HIGH WATER by Christian Indie Progressive Rock band As Cities Burn.

I got this album a couple months ago for review and I put it in the pile because I have a massive backlog of promos but I read the press release and the band sounded interesting. Tooth & Nail Records is home to the popular Metalcore band Underoath so I figured that As Cities Burn would have some sort of Metal slant to their music. The album cover looked promising although a bit different but you should never judge an album by it’s cover!

As Cities Burn plays a very mellow brand of Indie Rock that I would here on my local Indie rock station instead of my local Rock station. There is nothing hard, heavy or fast to the music, it’s more ambient (not in a Gothic Metal style) and mellow. Lead vocalist & guitarist Cody Bonnette sounds very whiney and subdued with no display of vocal range or ability, kind of like a younger Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins). The music itself sounded primarily the same over the entire album, the sound effects were distracting and the performances were boring. On the positive side….the production was crystal clear and there is a bit of melody in the songs. I liked the middle section of ‘Lady Blue’ but that’s it.

Bottom Line:
I’ve played this album at least 10 times to try and find something interesting or something that relates to what this website is about: Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. I didn’t find anything worthwhile, what I got was the most boring 10 spins I’ve ever listened to (and I really listened). The album is so mellow and boring that I actually fell asleep a couple of times and had to go back! There is nothing Metal here, nothing Hard but fans of Indie Rock will eat this up I’m sure. There is crossover Pop Rock appeal to the music so I’m sure that Indie rock stations will pick this up. This type of Indie Rock music gets played all the time at the record store I shop at weekly and I am always annoyed when I hear it. There is good interesting Indie stuff out there but HELL OR HIGH WATER is just boring. If you like Smashing Pumpkins with an Indie/Punk flavor then this is for you. If you are looking for any piece of Metal or Hard Rock…..avoid this album! This is my lead candidate for the worst album of 2009.

Favorite Songs: none

Psychostick – Sandwich (2009)


Psychostick – Sandwich (2009, Rock Ridge Music)

  1. Metal?
  2. Caffeine
  3. Shower
  4. A Lesson In Modesty
  5. P Is The Best Letter
  6. Minimum Rage
  7. Don’t Eat My Food
  8. The Hunger Within
  9. Grocery Escape Plan
  10. Too Many Food
  11. This Is Not A Song, It’s A Sandwich!
  12. Girl Directions
  13. Orange
  14. Beer (Pt.2)
  15. Do You Want A Taco?
  16. Attempt At Something Serious
  17. #1 Radio Single
  18. Vah-jay-jay
  19. Die…A Lot!
  20. You’ve Got Mail Enhancement
  21. Passive Vengeance
  22. 373 Thank Yous
  23. OUTTAKES!!!1
  24. We Ran Out Of CD Space


Band Lineup:
Rob “Rawrb” Kersey – Lead Vocals
Joshua “The J” Key – Guitars & Vocals
Jake “Jakermeister” McReynolds – Guitars & Vocals
Jimmy “Jimmychanga” Grant – Bass & Vocals
Alex “Shmalex” Preiss – Drums

Produced by: Psychostick

Total Time = 75:55

Psychostick MySpace page
Rock Ridge Music

Spinal Tap, Tenacious D, Bloodhound Gang, and Weird Al Yankovic…..all these bands play a comedic Rock style. Add some M.O.D. and you get Psychostick. The Phoenix, Arizona band has returned from a two and a half year stretch of touring the U.S. to release their third album titled SANDWICH. Psychostick blends Metal, Hardcore, Punk and Alternative together with a comedic lyrics to create their own unique sound called “Humorcore”. When I took my first look at the CD I knew this wasn’t my usual type of Heavy Metal, anything remotely resembling Punk or Alternative usually finds it’s way to the trash pile, but their was something interesting in the song titles that reminded me of Billy Milano’s M.O.D.

SANDWICH is 24 songs clocking in at over an hour and fifteen minutes long: some songs like ‘Metal?’ and ‘Vah-jay-jay’ come in at a few seconds while the fan tribute ‘373 Thank Yous’ tops out at over fourteen minutes. The band spoof a wide range of normal topics from an ode to coffee (‘Caffeine’), to good hygiene (‘Shower’), the grocery store (‘Grocery Escape Plan’) and the Internet (‘You’ve Got Mail Enhancement’). First thing you notice is that the band can play: Psychostick can lay down some serious music and the vocals have a ton of attitude, sarcasm and irony. There are some songs that you could easily put some serious lyrics too and get a regular Rock song…..but Psychostick obviously aren’t a regular band!

There are a lot of entertaining songs on SANDWICH and most of them have to do with food! I’m not sure if the band has had some hard times and missed a few essential meals or they hit every buffet in town, they seem to like anything to do with food. I counted 9 songs that had to do with some sort of food either by consumption or purchase but the song that I liked the best of the “food tunes” was ‘Minimum Rage’. If you’ve ever worked in retail (I do) and you’ve dealt with idiot customers then this is the song for you! Outside of food, I liked the rage filled take on getting directions from a woman in ‘Girl Directions’, the washing instructions in ‘Shower’ and the pride in lovving the female anatomy in ‘Vah-jay-jay’…..these songs had me laughing out loud. The problem I had with the album was that it was too long and a lot of the songs sounded like the previous ones. I hate to use the word “filler” but I found the last few songs a bit boring. ‘373 Thank Yous’ is 14+ minutes of the band singing the names of fans who donated money for the band’s studio time. Using an epic length tune to thank the fans instead of the liner notes is a unique idea but after hearing it once you don’t really need to again. Same thing with ‘OUTTAKES!!!1’, a song which is basically a musical blooper reel for the album, and ‘We Ran Out Of CD Space’ that really runs out of space. These songs are funny ideas but by the time you get through 21 songs it ends up being too much.

Bottom Line:
Psychostick is not my usual style of Metal band but they are entertaining. I had no idea what to expect when I read the band’s bio and first put the album on but I was pleasantly surprised. SANDWICH kind of reminds me of M.O.D’s 1987 debut album USA FOR M.O.D. because of the number of songs, the length of some are just a few seconds and both records are hilarious. The difference is that M.O.D. are very controversial and politically incorrect while Psychostick compose humor from normal things in everyday life… food! Overall I liked a lot of the songs but I used the <SKIP> button a few times. Metal fans are a serious breed and I’m not sure how SANDWICH will resonate in the Metal community but it’s a change of pace that is good from time to time. I heard enough interesting tunes to go back and check out Psychostick’s 2nd album, the 2007 Xmas record, THE FLESH EATING ROLLER SKATE HOLIDAY JOYRIDE but I’m still not sure what to expect.

Favorite Songs:
‘Shower’, ‘Minimun Rage’, ‘Grocery Escape Plan’, ‘Girl Directions’, ‘Vah-jay-jay’

In Shadows Reign – Phoenix (2008 demo)


In Shadows Reign – Phoenix (2008, demo)

  1. Through The Dark Labyrinth
  2. Eye For An Eye
  3. Wheel Of Time
  4. Raising The Torch Of The Empire
  5. Depredation
  6. A Shadow From The Past
  7. Phoenix

In Shadows Reign

Band Lineup:
Alexander Austad – Bass
Daniel Elisenberg – Guitars & Vocals
Stian Elisenberg – Drums
Kristoffer Gravdal – Guitars

Producers: In Shadows Reign

Country: Norway

Total Time = 42:00

In Shadows Reign MySpace page

In Shadows Reign is a new band out of Norway that plays a blend of Hardcore, Thrash, and Traditional Metal with a touch of influence from The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, specifically Iron Maiden and Metallica. The guys in the band look pretty young but their collective ability and attitude won me over right away. There is a ton of energy on PHOENIX and it’s evident by the overall attack that the band has paid specific attention to having a great dual guitar sound like Maiden and Metallica. Listen to the guitar intro to ‘Through The Dark Labyrinth’ and it screams Iron Maiden and NWOBHM, it’s really good! That opening guitar sold me immeadiately on In Shadows Reign because it gave me the feeling that these young guys have a good understanding about what came before the current Metal trends and they know how to incorporate both into their own style.

‘Through The Dark Labyrinth’ (live)

‘Eye For An Eye’ has an early Metallica influence musically and Daniel Elisenberg trades off clean and harsh vocals very well. On ‘Wheel Of Time’ there are some very melodic guitar lines to go along with the speed and heaviness and those harsh vocals. I’m not usually a fan of that vocal approach but I like Daniel’s because I can still hear the words. To me, the lyrics are just as important as the music! One of my favorites on the demo is ‘Raising The Torch Of The Empire’ because of the soft acoustic intro that makes it sound like an epic but then the band kicks into high gear with a speed Maiden riff that really gets the blood flowing and the head banging. The bass and drums are a little further up in the mix and they cane be heard a lot better, Alexander and Stian really pound away and keep things very heavy even when the pace slows.

‘Depedation’ is a fast thrashing song that reminds me a bit of Slayer mixed with the NWOBHM when it gets a little more melodic with the cleaner vocals., a very powerful song. The crown jewel of PHOENIX has to be the 11+ minute ‘A Shadow From The Past’. This song showcases every strength that In Shadows Reign possesses: a solid rhythm section, good vocals, excellent guitar and diversity in sound. Most of ‘A Shadow From The Past’ is slow/mid-tempo but the band also kicks the power into gear halfway through for a Thrash attack. I also think the best guitar solos are here, there is emotion to them, as well as my favorite drum performance from Stian. The title track ‘Phoenix’ brings the band full circle again to the heavy riffing and speed that makes up the overall In Shadows Reign sound.

Bottom Line:
PHOENIX was released in November 2008 and it’s a demo so the production is a little raw but that can be helped when the band gets signed. I think the band did a good job in capturing their sound, it’s definitely a good sounding demo, I’ve heard some real bad ones over the years. What jumps out at you when you spin this disc is the dual guitars, the different styles and the pure energy the band has, you can just tell that these guys live for Metal and enjoy playing it. In Shadows Reign is a band I am going to keep a close eye on…..

Favorite Songs:
‘Through The Dark Labyrinth’, ‘A Shadow From The Past’, ‘Raising The Torch Of The Empire’