CD Scavenger Hunt – more catching up!

I have a few CD purchases to update from the last month and a few on the way when they arrive in the mail! There are a few Ebay purchases and a big one from Newbury Comics on a great sale!


Tokyo Blade – Night Of The Blade (1984/1997 reissue) – $13: Cross another High Vaultage release off the list! I could just kick myself for not buying these High Vaultage reissues 12 years ago when they first came out, back then they were $15-$20 at the import record store. Now they are out of print and harder to find. This reissue has the original album with original vocalist Alan Marsh and includes 8 bonus tracks from three different EPs.

Autograph – Buzz (2003) – $11: Cross another CD off the WANTED list! I have been looking for this Autograph album basically since it came out. I saw it as an import in the record stores for $20 and I always passed on it. Now it’s harder to find and it goes for a higher price on Ebay. I was able to get this CD cheaper because the seller misspelled the album title by one “Z”.

Eden’s Curse – s/t (2007) – $9: Eden’s Curse has been on my radar since this debut album and I actually have their last two albums. Everytime I go to order this album online, it’s out of stock. Everytime I would watch an auction, the price would skyrocket in a bidding war. The seller that I bought this from had a bunch of these up for sale so I was able to pick this up at the $7 starting price with $2 shipping…..a great deal!

Twenty 4 Seven – Destination Everywhere (2002) – $7: Another CD off the want list and another CD that I should have bought years ago. This band features Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), John Corabi (ex-The Scream, ex-Motley Crue, ex-Ratt, ex-Union) and Robert Marcello (ex-Obsession, ex-Iron Horse, current Danger Danger). I read reviews on this disc back when it came out and I always meant to grab it but never did. The online ordering price is usually $15 + shipping but I got this from the same seller as Eden’s Curse for $5 plus $2 shipping…..another great deal!

Talon – Fallen Angels (2008) – $9: I had this on my want list when it came out in 2008 but I never got around to it. I read some good reviews online hailing it as one of the best albums of the year so I bumped it up the list but I never found it in the stores and the online ordering price was always around $20. This is the 3rd CD I bought from the same seller, and just like Eden’s Curse & Twenty 4 Seven, he had a ton of these up for auction at once. The deal was too good to pass up for $7 and the cheap shipping!

Newbury Comics

Bon Jovi – The Circle (2009) – $13: I haven’t picked up a Bon Jovi album on the day of release since CRUSH back in 2000…..even then I hadn’t bought a Bon Jovi album on the day of release since NEW JERSEY in 1988! For some reason I wanted this album. Maybe it was the media blitz the band put out? Maybe it was the various documentaries I watched on cable TV? Maybe it was seeing my wife’s excitement at the tour announcement? For some reason I wanted it…..maybe to believe that Bon Jovi had returned to their old form? I was wrong… my review. At least it came with a bonus DVD for value.

Halford – III: Winter Songs (2009) – $13: I will buy anything Rob Halford puts his name on because he is one of my favorite singers and Judas Priest is my second favorite band. It’s the holiday season so why not a holiday record from Halford? I was going to preorder this through the Halford website but I forgot. I was able to pick this up at a decent sale price that ended up being cheaper than buying direct from the Metal God but not by much. Read my review…’s the Album Of The Month for November!

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Night Castle (2009) – $12: I’ve been waiting for the new TSO album for the whole year! They had a free download of one track at the beginning of the year and they delayed the album’s release to coincide with the band’s annual holiday tour. NIGHT CASTLE is a double disc set but it’s not a holiday album, it’s a concept album. TSO is usually known for their holiday music but they have branched out before on BEETHOVEN’S LAST NIGHT in 2000. It’s definitely mandatory listening, especially when one of my favorite singers, Jeff Scott Soto, is involved! Hard to believe it’s been 5 years since their last record.

Slayer – World Painted Blood (2009) – $10: If Slayer releases a new album, you buy it! I waited a week to get this one and I opted to buy the regular version instead of the deluxe with the bonus DVD and packaging…..I ended up saving an additional $10 by picking up the regular version. I haven’t even cracked the cellophane on this one yet because I have so many albums to listen to! I will probably get to listen to it this week.

I was going to Newbury Comics anyway but I ended up getting an email from the store with their new weekly “Flash Sale”… 1 used CD, get 1 free. How can you pass that up? There was a limit to how many you could get (5 used and 5 free) so I searched every used bin they had but I could only come up with 3 discs and 3 free…..that’s what happens with a big collection! The very cool thing about the sale was that they charged you for the most expensive used CD and then they gave you the next most expensive free…..and so on. Usually the protocol is they charge you for the most expensive CDs and give you the cheaper ones free. I ended up saving more than I thought the way they did it this time!

King Diamond – Abigail (1987/2005 reissue) – $14 used: I’m filling the holes in my King Diamond and Mercyful Fate collections and ABIGAIL was on the list. I had my choice: the original pressing single CD for $10 or the deluxe reissue with the bonus tracks and bonus DVD for $14…..I went with the reissue because it was pure value. So I got the ABIGAIL album, 4 bonus tracks, and a DVD with 7 songs from Sweden in ’87 and 3 videos…..a great deal!

Slayer – Reign In Blood (1986) – $11 used (FREE): Saved $11 right off the bat with the sale! A lot of you are wondering how I don’t already have REIGN IN BLOOD in my collection and I admit it’s a MAJOR oversight on my part. I had it on cassette back in the day and I thought I had it on CD already. I’ve been filling the holes in my Slayer collection so when I saw it was missing I bumped it to the top of my list. Not bad getting it for nothing!

3 Inches Of Blood – Advance & Vanquish (2004) – $11 used: I started my 3 Inches Of Blood collection with their second record FIRE UP THE BLADES (2007) and I have picked up their new album and the reissue of their first independent record this year. I have been waiting to get ADVANCE & VANQUISH for a decent price for a long time, it’s usually $16-$18 regular price and I’ve never seen it used. This was the first used CD I found.

Metal Church – The Dark (1986) – $8 used (FREE): Another awesome free CD and that brings my savings up to $19! Of course this is another classic record that you might be wondering how I don’t have it in my collection. This CD replaces a long worn out cassette. The crazy thing about this CD’s price is that there were two other used copies but for higher prices. I went with the cheaper used disc trying to save extra money but the way the sale worked out I got it for nothing.

The Doors – L.A. Woman (1971) – $7 used: I’ve always been a big Doors fan and L.A. WOMAN has been that missing record for years. The singles are all on various greatest hits packages but I needed the actual album to complete the Jim Morrison led discography (I haven’t bothered to seek out the vinyl albums the band released after he died). I wasn’t going to pick this up because it’s always there used but I went through the entire store and it came down to this being one of the only albums I didn’t already own.

Helloween – Keeper Of The Seven Keys (Part 1) (1987/2006 reissue) – $7 used (FREE): I already own KEEPER (Part 1) on CD but I started picking up the expanded reissues back in 2006 when I filled in some holes in the Helloween collection. I’m a sucker for bonus tracks and this expanded reissue has four bonus tracksand deluxe packaging. Normally I find these reissues for $20 in the stores so I couldn’t pass up finding one used in perfect condition and getting it free.

Metal Church call it quits!

(scroll down for the update…..)

From Metal Church:

July 7 , 2009

To all of our fans and friends…

We regretfully announce that Metal Church is calling it quits.

The performance at Rocklahoma will be our last show. We have had to cancel the shows scheduled for August and that, among other things, has led us to have to make this decision.

There has been far too much frustration and disappointment in trying to keep moving forward. The collapse of our record company, SPV, has made it next to impossible for us continue in any kind of professional manner due to lack of tour support. This decision was not made lightly.

We do have unfinished business in the studio, and with any luck we will have something that will be of interest to Metal Church fans in the near future.

We would like to thank all the fans that have stuck with Metal Church through all these years, the line-up changes and the ups and downs.

We can’t tell you how much your support has meant to us, we appreciate each and every one of you.

It’s been a great ride… thanks for being a part of it.

Metal Church

UPDATE 7/8/09:
The band have clarified their statement: “The situation with SPV is NOT the reason that we have decided to stop, it is just one small part of the trouble this band has had in trying to keep going. SPV has always been great to us, and it’s very sad that they are not going to be around in the same capacity anymore. Our original statement didn’t make that point clearly, and we apologize to SPV for any confusion.”


I didn’t see that one coming! Metal Church was scheduled to play the Showcase Live ay Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA in August and I was going to head up there to see the show…..I guess I won’t be going! Maybe the SPV bankruptcy has a lot to do with this? I thought the last few albums were strong so I’m surprised they are calling it a day and not looking for a new label. Too bad…..a solid Metal band.

— Steve

Metal Church – This Present Wasteland (2008)

Metal Church – This Present Wasteland (2008, SPV)

  1. The Company Of Sorrow
  2. The Perfect Crime
  3. Deeds Of A Dead Soul
  4. Meet Your Maker
  5. Monster
  6. Crawling To Extinction
  7. A War Never Won
  8. Mass Hysteria
  9. Breathe Again
  10. Congregation

Band Lineup:
Ronny Munroe – Vocals
Kurdt Vanderhoof – Guitars
Rick Van Zandt – Guitars
Steve Unger – Bass
Jeff Plate – Drums

Total Time = 57:23

Metal Church official website
Metal Church MySpace page
SPV USA MySpace page
SPV Germany

I have been a Metal Church fan from way back in the beginning with the debut album but I started to lose faith as the years went on and the band kept changing members. After the self-titled debut in ’84 and THE DARK in ’86,Metal Church just became another Metal band. Fast forward to 2004 and lead guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof brought in new vocalist Ronnie Munroe and the core of a new Metal Church was born. Since then the band has released three albums that exemplify what American Heavy metal is all about: loud guitars, great vocals, and solid songwriting.

The new album, THIS PRESENT WASTELAND, is a continuation of the sound that the band has laid groundwork for with the last two albums THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD (2004) and A LIGHT IN THE DARK (2006) with monster size guitar riffs, solid drumming, and impressive vocals.  Opening song ‘The Company Of Sorrow’ sounds like a speedy Judas Priest cut, it’s fast and aggressive with a twin axe attack from Vanderhoof and Rick Van Zandt and double bass pounding from Savatage/Trans-Siberian Orchestra skinsman Jeff Plate. Ronnie Munroe does a good job of channelling a cross between Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and former Metal Church singer David Wayne (R.I.P.) with his deep voice and his splitting screams. When I reviewed A LIGHT IN THE DARK, I was thrown off by his style but now I like what Munroe brings to the mic…..he really puts on a top notch performance all over this album. ‘The Perfect Crime’ continues the assault with a more controlled pace: it starts out slow and Ronnie sounds almost Dio-ish but the tempo builds into the main riff. The song has more of a Hard Rock style than all out Metal but it sounds so heavy. Things slow down for ‘Deeds Of A Dead Soul’ with it’s Black Sabbath-like brooding plod. The downfall of this song is that it’s way too long and it gets repetitive after a while, it’s a change of pace though and shows that the Church can do some different things. I don’t really like the keyboard that gets sprinkled in a little as it sounds out of place.

‘Meet Your Maker’ is another speed demon rocker that shows off the pounding from Plate and the riffery from the Vanderhoof/Van Zandt duo. This song chugs along as Munroe adds some high pitch highs and a bit of a growl around the chorus. This is one of the more varied vocal performances of the album, Ronnie uses all his techniques and gives the song some different sounds. The song breaks down in the middle for the solo and it slowly builds up speed again. The fast pace continues with ‘Monster’, one of my favorites on the album. Vanderhoof keeps churning out big riffs and Munroe sounds completely in control of the song but the genius here is the rhythm section of Steve Unger and Jeff Plate, both the bass and the drums sound so thick and make a great foundation to build a song.

‘Crawling To Extinction’ has the same pace as ‘The Perfect Crime’ but it’s not as good… sounds like I’ve heard it all before. The opening of ‘A War Never Won’ sounds like early Queensryche with Ronnie doing a good Geoff Tate over an acoustic intro. The song builds into a more heavy guitar line but it’s a mid-tempo song that sounds all too familiar. Things kick in again with the faster ‘Mass Hysteria’ and ‘Breathe Again’. ‘Mass Hysteria’ sounds like the rest of the faster songs on the album but it has some melodic parts especially around the chorus while ‘Breathe Again’ has a breakneck main guitar and a soaring vocal. The song breaks down to a ballad in the middle and you’d swear you were listening to present day Queensryche because that lower vocal register sounds like Geoff Tate. I like the duelling guitars thoughout the song, they give that added punch that the last few songs lacked. The closer is ‘Congregation’ and I swear that I can hear a little ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ in the opening bassline! It’s brief but I swear it’s there! That aside, ‘Congregation’ continues the uptempo metal attack that has been deployed on all the faster songs but then there’s another breakdown mid-way through that also appears on many of the songs. This is where things gets repetitive and the album takes on more of a generic feel.

Bottom Line:
Overall, I would classify THIS PRESENT WASTELAND as a solid Heavy Metal record but not a great one. The first five songs are really great but the second half of the album, aside from ‘Breathe Again’, is just more of the same. You can almost predict what the band is going to do: some sort of intro, moving into a fast main riff, slow breakdown in the middle, move into the fast riff again. With four or five songs like this it’s obvious Metal Church is following their formula too closely…..a little diversity would go a long way. Even though there are some repetitive parts, I enjoyed the album as a whole. If you’re a Metal Church fan then you know what to expect, especially if you own the previous two records.

Favorite Songs: ‘The Company Of Sorrow’, ‘The Perfect Crime’, ‘Breathe Again’, ‘Monster’, ‘Meet Your Maker’

Vacation Playlist – 8/31 thru 9/7

I’m back from a quick vacation! I didn’t realize that I had to use some vacation days up quick or I would lose them so i took a quick unscheduled vacation from work. I love being in a union! I decided that I was going to also take the week to get away from my dependence on the Internet and television and just concentrate on listening to music and reading a good book or two. I won’t lie and say I cut both totally out but I did limit my time to an hour for each every day. Sometimes I just need to tune out!

Some other things I did last week involved birthdays, my youngest daughter turned 5 and my mom turned 59 the same day, so there was a birthday barbecue. The return of regular season NFL Football came last Thursday with the reigning champion New York Giants facing the Washington Redskins. As many long time readers know, I’m a New England Patriots season ticket holder so I had the opening regular season game today (I am not discussing Tom Brady’s injury at this time), so I tried out a few new recipes on the grill for the pre-game tailgate in the parking lot. Add my 4 hour fantasy football draft Saturday morning and you can see that I may have been on vacation but I still had a lot going on!

I spent a lot of time with new albums and live albums this past week. I have to catch up on reviews and I want to do a “live album week” at the end of the month so I pulled out a few candidates for those reviews.

Metal Church – This Present Wasteland (2008)
Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (2008)
Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008)
Cloudscape – Global Drama (2008)
Maiden Heaven: A Kerrang! Tribute To Iron Maiden (2008)
Venom – Hell (2008)
Motorhead – Motorizer (2008)
Ayreon – 01011001 (2008)
Royal Hunt – Collision Course – Paradox II (2008)
Avantasia – The Scarecrow (2008)
Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008)

These are the new albums that I have been rgiving serious rotation to the last couple of weeks. I’ve never really taken Avantasia and Judas Priest out of my weekly playlist, same goes for the new Ayreon but I’ve given it just a little more focus because there is so much to hear. The new albums from Royal Hunt, Motorhead, Cloudscape and Alice Cooper are all very good and I haven’t stopped enjoying them. I just picked up the new Venom recently (along with something else I know I’m forgetting, watch for an update on my purchases soon) and it’s…..well, Venom! Venom and Motorhead are so much alike in that they do the same thing over and over. Most of my listening went to advances of the new Iced Earth and Metal Church that I’ve had a few weeks now…..I’m preparing the Iced Earth review for this week, Metal Church next week.

KISS – Alive! (1975)
KISS – Alive II (1977)
Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985)
Scorpions – World Wide Live (1985)
UFO – Strangers In The Night (1979)
UFO – Werewolves Of London: Live In Wolverhampton 1998 (1999)
Royal Hunt – Live In Japan 1996 (1996)
Michael Schenker Group – Live Unforgiven World Tour (1999)
Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982)
Black Sabbath – Reunion (1998)
Queen – Live At Wembley ’86 (1992)
Queen – On Fire: Live At The Bowl ’82 (2004)
Judas Priest – Priest In The East (1979)
Judas Priest – Priest…..Live! (1987)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed (1982)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Pt.2 (1998)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Pt.3 (2006)
Krokus – Alive & Screamin’ (1986)
Jeff Scott Soto – Live At The Gods (2003)

That’s a pretty good list of live albums! Some of these albums were instrumental in my discovering studio albums from the bands, some were important in my understanding of different eras of the bands, but all of them had a profound influence on me. The first two KISS ALIVE albums are cornerstones of my love for Heavy Metal and KISS but I would also have to put LIVE AFTER DEATH and WORLD WIDE LIVE right there with them because they were cassettes I played to death back when I was kid. I should probably add the Krokus and Judas Priest live records to that list too.

I did a lot of comparisons: PRIEST IN THE EAST vs. PRIEST…..LIVE!, LIVE EVIL vs. REUNION, all 3 Saxon live albums. Some are no brainers so I expect everyone to comment how bad PRIEST…..LIVE! & REUNION are to two all-time classic live albums. Some of these albums like the UFO records, the Royal Hunt, MSG and Jeff Scott Soto have become favorites over the years and you can’t dispute Queen’s legacy in the live arena. My plan for the “live album week” is to pick 7 out of this list, or maybe pick 6 and throw in a surprise, for reviews and memories.

Late Sunday Playlist — 8/24/08

I’m off work tonite due to a last minute schedule change. Am I tired? Of course! I slept all day after I got home from work this morning so I’m good, I could always use extra sleep though! So I’m unexpectedly off from work, the family is asleep, and I am locked in my music room spinning CDs…..

Cloudscape – Global Drama (2008): What a great album this is! Cloudscape is high quality Power/Progressive Metal, akin to Balance Of Power. GLOBAL DRAMA came out last Tuesday officially but I have been enjoying the disc for a few weeks now. Review this week!

Biloxi – III -In The Wake Of The Storm (2007): Another album I’ve been enjoying a lot lately and it’s a top candidate of my year end list of albums I missed in 2007. Founding vocalist/guitarist Clyde Holly sadly passed away during the recording process so he only sings on 2 songs and contributes guitars to 5. Mark Allen Lanoue has filled in very well in place of Clyde and the band pays tribute to him by creating some good melodic Hard Rock.

Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Pt. 2) (2008): This doesn’t come out for two more weeks but let me tell you this…’s awesome! Bringing Matt Barlow back to the band is probably the smartest thing Jon Schaffer has done since the original SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES in 1998. Another solid release for 2008!

Iced Earth – Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked Pt. 1) (2007): I’ve been a big Iced Earth fan since BURNT OFFERINGS (1995) but I just didn’t get into the Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens era of the band. I thought that THE GLORIOUS BURDEN (2004) was boring and I didn’t get into this album until the end of last year. It made my list of the Top 15 Albums Of 2007, coming in at lucky #13! I figured I’d give it a fresh listen.

Metal Church – This Present Wasteland (2008): Another album that doesn’t come out until the end of September. I will be reviewing this one soon so I’m not giving much away right now.

Grim Reaper – See You In Hell (1984): I had to put a classic in there with all the new releases! I haven’t given this a listen in a long time and I needed a NWOBHM fix. I remember being a kid in ’84 and getting a poster of the album cover from a metal mag, I had that poster on my wall until I moved out of my mom’s house…..14 years!