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Sunday, July 31, 2011

REVIEW: Jag Panzer (US) - Dissident Alliance (1994)

Jag Panzer from US released one highly praised us full-length heavy metal album at 80's, along with some demos and EP, before fading into a silent period. Ten years after the release of Ample Destruction they decided to reform and put out long awaited album - many old fans probably had their expectations high. Afterall, Ample Destruction was quality and pure heavy metal record, with great powerful high pitched vocals of Harry Conklin - melodic great guitar leads and biting rhythm section as well.

I can see how many fans were totally disappointed about the outcome, after ten long years of waiting for a new record. Dissident Alliance sound like completely different band - with mostly all characteristics that made Ample Destruction classic album now gone. The band took turn into heavier, thrashier outfit (but with not high tempo and pace), with some groove-metal like influences as well (were they trying to follow the path Pantera was showing at the time?). Some of the line-up changes may have influenced the change in musical direction as well (although the band commented in an interview (Jag Panzer, Era of Kings And Conflict), that most of the material was written prior to the arrival of the new members, but they put their own touch to the sound for sure).

First of all, Harry Conklin is no more with the band - the singer who's voice dominated Ample Destruction. Instead, we have a new man called Daniel Conca on vocals. Conklin later on rejoined the band and Conca left after this record, and one can definitely see, why. Conca sounds quite lame on Dissident Alliance, and definitely doesn't fit to the style, what were the heavy metal roots of Jag Panzer. He sounds like a sloppy modern thrash singer with modern metalcore edge - his weak unmemorable performance is not helping for average songs at all. I don't know why they hired watered down version of Phil Anselmo (Pantera)? Also, second guitarist Joe Tafolla was then swapped to Chris Kostka, which may also have been the influece towards different style in music.

Riffs have only occasional slightly brighter moments but mostly are very generic and sloppy on Dissident Alliance, rather uninspired. Some of the leads and hooks are cool, but mostly song construction and rhythm sections are just purely poor. Jag Panzer managed to turn from a great heavy metal band into a modernized groove-influenced thrash metal band with garage sound within a decade. Most of the original melody has been sacrificed in the name of heavier thrashy sound of what was commercial in the mid nineties. This does not work, since it's not thrash in a good way but powerless, sloppy and generic instead, with modern edge. The fellas seemed to lack enthusiasm in their playing, with their new shattered identity.

Standout points would be melodic lead riff in speedy GMV 407, which is boiled by otherwise unmemorable riffs and metalcore'ish vocal shouts. Decent and probably the best song on the album is The Church with pretty standard 90's metal sound and some decent lead guitars and melodies - but even it doesn't do much. Gloomy Eve of Penance has some bright moments and is perhaps the second best track. The Clown has some early 90's Antrax'esque riffing which is allright but then again vocals and lyrics are rather awful:

"Little boy, little boy, tell me true
Johnny does the nasty, do you know who?
Little boy, little boy, did you cry?
Momma’s gone away, daddy tell a lie
He was a clown
She was a clown
We was a clown"

I usually don't care about cheesy lyrics if music is good itself, but in this case music is below average and lyrics are so stupid they actually do bother. Besides there's more to it than only lyrical stupidity in Dissident Alliance. Edge of Blindless is listenable groove metal influenced track with nice acoustic parts in the middle that actually works. Last Dying Breath sounds like 90's skater metal and is listenable, but oh so unmemorable. That's about it. Whisper God is average at it's best.

One can tell right from the start that Jag Panzer have hit their own rock bottom this far. Opening track "Jeffrey - Behind The Gates" opens with chugging marching rhythm guitars, which soon turns into groove metal with lousy metalcore-influenced vocals, and you'll lose interest towards the rest of the album immediately, there's no return from the gates of un-enthusiasm. Forsaken Child is weird acoustic/tribal influenced track, almost sounding like alternative rock or something. Oh man. Not really fitting into Jag Panzer album.. Plodding Psycho Next Door's slowdown moments with Conca's weak hardcore growling is total low blow. If you ever made that far.

In 1994, Jag Panzer had turned from a traditional us heavy metal band with great vocals, into lousy band band what one could simply describe with word "metal" - with metalcore/groove/skater metal influences. Enthusiasm and creative moments were far off from this one. Standout riffs are only a few, mostly related to some lead riffs (Briody can still play?) - which are left to minimum, making space for sloppy rhythm guitars. Rhythm section is not tight, it's generic and powerless. Last nail to coffin are the metalcore vocals of the new singer. Is this album as bad as many metal fans state it to be? I was skeptical at first, since I could understand simply a style change to influence such opinion. But, I'm no skeptical anymore, Dissident Alliance is far off impressing even for the style it is.

I would not recommend getting this album unless you are a fan of Jag Panzer and want to collect their all albums, despite the fact that this one's quite poor. "Highlight moments" are average at the best with The Church, Eve of Penance, Edge of Blindness, Last Dying Breath, GMV 407 and Whisper God, whereas the first three mentioned raise perhaps very slightly above average. It just does not cut it, since sound is mostly lousy and generic, over half of material is less than average by far, and the best of the rest is about average at it's best. Without the songs mentioned above this album would deserve "Disaster" rating, but now I'll just just "Very Poor". Even Conklin's vocals could not have saved this album. It's something of a crossing between mid nineties Pantera's groove and second tier US band Meliah Rage's (pretty solid band, most of the time) trashy version, with laid back tempo. Fans of the latter mentioned will surely run back to Meliah Rage records any day, far away from Dissident Alliance. Luckily this phase did not last long, until Harry Conklin rejoined for the album The Fourth Judgement (1997) and style changed back to better. It's great that Jag Panzer didn't end career with a flop such as Dissident Alliance. That would had made me quite sad.
44/100 (Very Poor)

  • Daniel Conca (R.I.P. 2004) - Vocals
  • Mark Briody - Guitars
  • Chris Kostka - Guitars
  • John Tetley - Bass
  • Rikard Stjernquist - Drums

  • 1. Jeffrey - Behind the Gate 07:20
  • 2. The Clown 03:11
  • 3. Forsaken Child 05:29
  • 4. Edge of Blindness 03:59
  • 5. Eve of Penance 07:14
  • 6. Last Dying Breath 05:12
  • 7. Psycho Next Door 04:04
  • 8. Spirit Suicide 05:44
  • 9. GMV 407 04:32
  • 10. The Church 05:01
  • 11. Whisper God 04:18
    • Total running time 56:04

Friday, July 29, 2011

REVIEW: Jag Panzer (US) - Ample Destruction (1984)

Jag Panzer are a band formed in US at 1981. They were originally named as Tyrant but legacy issues concerning the name forced them to change into Jag Panzer later same year. Earlier Jag Panzer was mainly US sounding traditional heavy metal. The band released only one full-length album in 80’s called Ample Destruction which got some praise among metalheads so I’d consider the band semi-obscure. Along this they released Tyrants EP earlier at 1983 and Deathrow single same year as well as Demos at 1985, twice 1986 and later on after silence period at 1993 – which led them to reunite and release Dissident Alliance at 1994. Jag Panzer have been quite active after this releasing eight albums ‘till 2011 all together after reuniting at 1993. Their newest being The Scourge of Light The Light released earlier this year.

At earlier times on the 80’s Jag Panzer had bit sharper toned Maiden influenced approach than what they sound today. Singer Harry Conklin has a voice a reminding slightly of Bruce Dickinson with melodic clean mid to high range falsettos that makes this record sound very classy. The music has influences of Maiden sure but is not a copy, sound is melodic, yet melodies used here don’t remind Maiden that much. The sound is more sharper US sound with more aggression. Especially guitars bite with sharp cutting high distortion (thrashy even at times) and melodic guitar passages sound very good. Guitarists Mark Briody and Joey Taffolla do a great job on Ample Destruction. The band reminds maybe a bit more of heavier Fates Warning with melodic traditional heavy metal approach to music.

Ample Destruction is a great example of melodic soaring 80’s heavy metal album with some – but not too much cheesiness – and yet manages to sound sharp and biting same time without losing all the heaviness to the melodic parts. Theres strong usage of power chords creating simple but effective wall of sound, some strong biting palm muted riffing and then melodic lead guitar work & shredding with Conklin’s soaring melodic yet aggressive voice on top of that making this sound very enjoyable indeed. Vocals are quite much dominating the music – in a good way – and backing vocals are used quite well also.

The albums consists of ten songs (one short instrumental) all together clocking over 40 minutes which is about enough. Speedy Licensed To Kill opens up the album with stomping palm muted riffs in your face and Conklin’s powerful wailing falsettos dominate. While not my favorite track here it gives a promise of quality. Other speedier moments include: Generally Hostile with upbeat rhythm section but has a bit generic side riffs - and Reign of The Tyrants with some more forward driving ripping palm muted riffage fest. Reign of The Tyrants has great gloomy yet melodic chorus part where “under the knife - you'd better run for your life - 'cause you're under the knife!” lyrics and lead guitar melody just sticks to your head.

There’s more reasonably fast material than above mentioned. Bombastic drum intro and Conklin’s falsetto scream leads into Symphony Of Terror – which sounds patriotic track with it’s marching rhythm and has nice lead melodies along great usage of falsetto screams. Harder Than Steel is lyrically a bit on cheesy with it’s “Oh, you're harder than steel, yeah, ya feel - All for yourself and no one else”. Yet it’s not musically falling any behind. It’s a mid fast headbanging piece with strong palm muted riffs driving it forward dominating the track other than the chorus where Conklin once again shines. Bassist does very good job here promoting the rhythm section with heavy speedy basslines. Cardiac Arrest presents more lead guitar heavy groovy and rocking sound and melodies here are quite wicked. Conklin’s falsetto shows also slightly more dirtier/grittier side here sounding awesomely strong.

The good thing is not only Jag Panzer sound on a prime here when they speed things up - more laid back marching tempo seems to work great also - there's three songs on the album with laid back speed (not necassarily less heavier though): chugging rhythm guitars of Warfare kick in right from the start and rip you up. One of the heavier tracks in the album with laid back tempo and slower power chorded parts mostly focusing on Conklin’s aggressive and melodic vocals and chugging sharp palm muted main riff take turns leading eventually in a nice guitar solo. Shouted out loud backing vocals in chorus also sound great making one wanting to shout along “Warfare!”. Simple, heavy and effective song – one of my favorites here. The Watching brings up patriotic rhythm sections with riffs and tempos that remind me of army march of some kind – only presented in form of heavy metal. Lead guitar riffs are just insanely catchy here. This mid tempo and strong forward driving battle anthem is also one of my faves on this album. Vocals sound awesome on this song. The album closes with seven and half minutes long epic piece called The Crucifix starting as acoustic track with keyboard interludes - turning into slow and doomy and gloomy marching anthem - eventually speeding up in the end. This being perhaps the only track that has not grown on me that well (maybe because of the slow start), although wicked lead guitar melodies and shredding on the end side of the song are pretty impressive.

Very good album with nice shredding, catchy melodies, sharp and aggressive guitar playing with cheesy falsetto screams from Harry Conklin who despite all the cheese manages to sound great. This is how you should do high pitched vocals with aggression needed to sound effective. Overall very upbeat tempo album with some patriotic influences. Sounds remiscent to Maiden and Fates Warning but is more heavy and biting without sacrificing melody. For all fans of traditional 80’s heavy metal. This is classic in melodic traditional heavy metal field. 91/100 (Awesome!)

(As used CD)

  • Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin - Vocals
  • Mark Briody - Guitars
  • Joey Tafolla - Guitars
  • John Tetley - Bass
  • Rick Hilyard - Drums

  • 1. Licensed to Kill 03:02
  • 2. Warfare 05:11
  • 3. Symphony of Terror 04:24
  • 4. Harder Than Steel 04:54
  • 5. Generally Hostile 03:20
  • 6. The Watching 04:10
  • 7. Reign of the Tyrants 03:33
  • 8. Cardiac Arrest 03:12
  • 9. The Crucifix 07:19
    • Total running time: 39:05

(Jag Panzer - Warfare presents more thrashy and heavy sound on the album)

I found my Ample Destruction LP from a second hand internet store almost ten years ago. The one I own however has not as cool cover as first pressing - this is the second and least valuable official vinyl pressing (Metalcore '90) with different cover.

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction -
my bet is you can double them up)

Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

There's a four known releases of Ample Destruction LP in 80's and a few bootleg re-releases after that. Official pressing are quite damn valuable so here we go!

Label – AZRA/IW1001 (Indie issue, first cover: horsemen)
Type – LP/US/84
Near Mint – $80
Very Good+ - $50

Label – AZRA/ (Clear vinyl, pressing of 25)
Type – LP/US/84
Near Mint – $160
Very Good+ - $90

Label – AZRA/ (Red vinyl ("Chain of Command" is a boot))
Type – LP/US/84
Near Mint – $125
Very Good+ - $70

Label – Metalcore/ (Only official vinyl re-release at 90')
Type – LP/US/90?
Near Mint – $20
Very Good+ - $12


Sunday, July 24, 2011

REVIEW: Samain (GER) - Vibrations of Doom (1984)

Samain is traditional heavy metal / hard rock band that was formed in Germany at 1982. The band then went on recording "Thunderbolt Giants" demo at 1984 and released their first and only full length album the same year, titled "Vibrations of Doom", under label of Roadrunner Records. Despite releasing a quality album, they never recorded another full length album again. They released two more demos and two VHS tapes after the debut, before fading into nothingness.

Musically, Samain sounds like a rather typical German heavy metal band from the eighties, with slightly rough-edged vocals accompanied by German accent, and hard rock flavored guitar riffs, of which kind we have probably heard several times - but this style never gets old! Samain plays heavy metal which borders hard rock, and would well suit played in a dirty, but oh so homey hard rock pub. The album in general isn't very furious or vicious by it's style, but rather more laid back jam-along type heavy metal / hard rock (slow to mid paced), based on chugging rhythm guitar riffs by the guitar duo Dave Herod and Ralph Veety creating quite thick wall of sound behind lead guitars, playing simple, but effective, and rather groovy lead guitar melodies. The result is effective - like with Accept and Judas Priest. No frills, but certainly enjoyable. There are occasional great guitar solos and leads thrown in, which saves the material from being too monotonous. The singer Peter Ancaster reminds me a bit of Udo Dirkschneider, but being also more laid back and less aggressive with his delivery - more moody, also. Samain remains mellow form of aforementioned mentioned bands, but with some brilliant and really catchy melodies.

"Vibrations of Doom"'s positive quality is, that the album is strong throughout from the beginning to end. The quality of the material brings no big surprises, but never really lets one down, either. Album opens with slightly gloomy ambient keyboard notes in instrumental "Vibrations", which leaves listener to wonder what on Earth is up to come - since at this point one doesn't really know what to expect. This leads to chugging, gloomy, and a bit doomy blaster called "The Metal Breaks My Senses", which is laid back mid paced number, but truly catchy and enjoyable ride - sounding almost epic. Album then continues in veins of same chugging palm muted rhythms with "Straight Hammered Creed" - being just tad more rock'n'rollish. Simple yet effective chorus just nails it with very good guitar solo part. Another strong number by the band! "Seal Of A Jidda" is also quite rocking number, but less gloomy one. It could well be fit in some of the late 70's/early 80's Judas Priest album in terms of riffs. "Thank The Aerosmith" is heavily lead riff driven rock'n'roll blast with it's jingling main riff. You could just imagine cranking this up while riding a bike or driving car on highway at a summer night. "Thor" is your slower pounding heavy hitter with bit more heroic melodies. A bit more NWOBHM'ish sound and elements can be found in "Diamonds and Discgrace", which at least to my ears, sounds reminiscent of Witchfynde's "Cloak And Dagger" album at some parts, while the others just rocks like the rest of the album. "Gonna Swing My Chariot" is a great upbeat track in veins of bands like Saxon and Judas Priest, a bit mainstream but very catchy. The rest non-mentioned songs here are not suckers either.

"Vibrations of Doom" is a good mix between band's more authentic gloomy melodies and atmosphere, versus more mellow hard rocking mainstream sound, mixed with early 80s Priest and Accept-laden straight-forward rhythm guitar riffing. The band's sound is simple and effective, and quite easily approachable - yet catchy, with some tricks under the sleeve with good lead guitar melodies and guitar solos - not forgetting a few of those rare stand out moments with gloomy keyboard interludes, which at times almost bring an "epic" layer on top of the deliberate Accept-laden delivery. A few more surprises, however, would had made this album close to be a classic, since the band seems to like to sail on the "safe waters" in terms of the tempo and changes of it. They never really seem to speed things up, and the guitar patterns may be slightly repetitive, but not overly so. Yet the band plays very tightly overall, the performance is good, and they manage to present pleasant heavy metal number after another in veins of Priest, Accept, and Saxon. I just cannot get enough of this kind of music - whether I've heard similar before or not. "Vibrations of Doom" presents nothing groundbreaking to the genre, or the sub-genre, yet it delivers quality German heavy metal / hard rock worth the full album, and truly deserves a listen by any heavy metal fan who has a respect for eighties heavy metal music. Just another no-frills-but-enjoyable-quality forgotten heavy metal / hard rock album, which raises the bar well above average.


  • Peter Ancaster - vocals
  • Ralph Veety - lead guitar
  • Dave Herod - lead guitar
  • Bernard Eams - bass & backing vocals
  • Marc Newman - drums

  • 1. Vibrations 00:52
  • 2. Straight Hammered Creed 04:32
  • 3. The Seal of Jidda 03:22
  • 4. Thank the Aerosmith 03:57
  • 5. Seven Tears 03:26
  • 6. Thor 03:29
  • 7. (Tale of a) Giant Man 03:16
  • 8. Diamonds & Disgrace 03:25
  • 9. Gonna Swing my Chariot 04:29
  • 10. The Metal Breaks my Senses 05:40
    • Total running time: 36:28

EDIT: corrected the band member information 3th of September 2015. Check out the band's official website!

Fortunately I found this great LP once at a gig booth (even though it has a small cut). Here's my piece :-)

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction
my bet is you can double them up
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Roadrunner/RR9836 (Also CAN Roadrunner)
Type – LP/N/84
Near Mint – $20
Very Good+ - $12 | Tane Norther

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

REVIEW: Ostrogoth (BEL) - Too Hot (1985)

Ostrogoth are a heavy metal/power metal band from Belgium. During their career they released three full length releases: Ecstasy and Danger (1984), Too Hot (1985) and Feelings of Fury (1987), along with one EP called Full Moon's Eyes in (1983). 'Too Hot' is their second full-length album.They have your typical 80s German style hard rocking edge on their music at times, but do mainly sound like a traditional middle European heavy metal band, with some power metal influences to be heard in their music also. Dirty and powerful yet melodic guitars are featured, along with pounding bass that's very audible in the mix. Group shouted choruses are also featured in several songs. Ostrogoth may not quite be up there with 'a-tier' bands, but they do play their traditional eighties heavy-/power metal better than many lesser known average bands do, for example, compared to their country-mates Crossfire or German 'Tyrant' (which is pretty decent band on it's own).

Guitar tone on the album is dirty, sharp, and ripping when palm muted. Ostrogoth's sound is quite bombastic and ballsy, yet melodic same time. They sound something like late eighties era 'Cloven Hoof', mixed with little bit of early Helloween's power metal and Sinner's roughness. Marc "Red Star" de Brauwer delivers vocals with fine quality. He's got similar roughness than many vocalist from Belgium or Germany from corresponding era when he uses the style, but most times he just sings with quite deep and clean soaring voice. Brauwer has quite strong voice and this supports well the overall quite heavy sound of the band.

The songs vary from dirtier rockers to more power metall'ish melodic tracks. 'Sign of Life' is for example of one of speedy power-metal tracks, which have chorus that sounds something like late eighties 'Cloven Hoof' combined with early Helloween-like happy and melodic guitar riffs that pop up occasionally. 'Shoot back' is a very strong track, being a pounding heavy rocker with gloomier melodies and features well made strong backing vocals in it's simple shout-along chorus: "shoot back! (shoot back) shoot back! (shoot back!)", along with some very skillful guitar shredding and soloing. This track would very well fit in German band Railway's third album 'Climax' for example. Title track 'Too Hot' starts with pounding bass and drum rhythm, which soon turns into a bit more speed metal style track with a melodic edge shown in it's vivid pre-chorus and chorus which sounds damn good. It's just an energetic and strong track where De Brauwer's soaring strong vocals really shine. Main rhythm-riff in the song is very simple but works and there's a lot of fast-paced lead guitar shredding and soloing adding some complexity - this is rapid, powerful and melodic heavy metal right here!

Instrumental 'The Gardens of Marrakesh' starts a bit silly way with Arabic sounding acoustic guitar intro that leads into very melodic shredding interlude piece, which sounds like taken straight out of some nineties power metal album such as Gamma Ray's. The three minutes of majestic shredding leads us finally to 'Love In The Streets': a bit pompous sounding power metal track. Despite the song's poor name and wacky lyrics, it's decent song with strong chorus where backing vocals shine. 'Night Women (Don't Like Me)' then takes a turn from majestic power metal towards dirty, rough and bombastic strong sound, with slower tempo, pounding bass and drums, led by chugging guitars. It's one of those fewer songs where De Brauwer also shows his rougher side of vocal delivery, and it truly works! This track just kicks so much ass, and it's perhaps my favorite of the album along with title track 'Too Hot', and perhaps with 'Shoot Back' also. 'Endless Winterdays' is a bit more happy rocker and decent. 'Catch The Sound of Peace' is your regular ballad with some electric guitar parts, a bit cheesy and forced effort. 'Halloween' is average closer for the album with more gloomy melodies, but is perhaps a bit too generic in terms of riffs, and the spoken "evil" interlude in middle of song is a bit unnecessary addition.

Too Hot is one of the better albums released by Mausoleum records, who had many of German and Belgium bands under their wings. The album mixes hard rocking sound with rough and dirty edge together with late eighties/early nineties majestic and melodic power metal shredding. Ostrogoth manages to raise quite high ranking in Mausoleum Records catalogue with 'Too Hot' being better than many other bands with similar style. Guitar solos are strong, lead guitars are quite well above average when they come into play, overall atmosphere is quite energetic, and songs are well paced avoiding mostly to sound plodding and boring efforts. Rhythm guitar riffing is overall strong and De Brauwer's vocals are actually very good with little bit of rough edge mixed with strong melodic delivery. Is overall sound a bit generic? Maybe yes, but album's all well made, the band shows talent in playing and composing department, and thus I don't have much bad to say about this album, except the ballad could be left off (I guess melodic bands feel they 'have to squeeze one in'?). Too Hot is also a bit short on material considering it runs only about 35 minutes, of which there is one instrumental and one ballad. This is your pretty standard eighties heavy/power metal from Belgium, but with bit more hooks and shining melodies added in. Too Hot is pretty well made and enjoyable ride, though not quite raising up to be a first hand classic record. 

80 | reviewer: dungeoncrawler

See any Ostrogoth records available in Amazon

  • Rudy "White Shark" Vercruysse - Guitars (lead)
  • Marc "Red Star" de Brauwer - Vocals
  • Hans "Sphinx" van de Kerckhove - Guitars
  • Marnix "Bronco" van de Kauter - Bass
  • Mario "Grizzly" Pauwels - Drums

  • 1. Too Hot 03:50
  • 2. Shoot Back 03:45
  • 3. Sign of Life 03:12
  • 4. The Gardens of Marrakesh 03:13
  • 5. Love in the Streets 03:38
  • 6. Night Women (Don't Like Me) 04:31
  • 7. Endless Winterdays 04:08
  • 8. Catch the Sound of Peace 04:40
  • 9. Halloween 04:28
    • Total Running Time: 35:25

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction
my bet is you can double them up
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Mausoleum/8374
Type – LP/B/85
Near Mint – $10.50
Very Good+ - $5.50

Friday, July 15, 2011

Used record prices added to album posts

Prices are added only to those records that are included in Martin Popoff - Goldmine Heavy Metal Record Price Guide. That book was released in 1999 (US) and has majority of 80s heavy metal EPs and full lenghts included in it. However it lacks singles mostly - so those will be left out. The book also hasn't got much of the 90s records and newer than that.

I thought it would give some direction and chance to compare prices between the old records presented on Dungeons Are Calling. The book is quite good and large despite it being a decade old. Keep in mind that prices have gone up quite a bit within ten years - probably especially with the records were very rare already at 1999.

Nevertheless, have fun!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

REVIEW: Reverend (US) - Live EP (1992)

I found this record collecting dust so it's time to crank it up again.
Reverend is a power/thrashmetal band from United States. Their lead singer David Wayne died in 2005 following the complications from a car crash. May he rest in peace. Wayne used to be original front man for Metal Church (US) in earlier 80's. After leaving Metal Church for his replacement Mike Howe, Wayne formed a new band called Reverend in 1989. Maybe you guys and gals remember Metal Church's two first albums - self titled and The Dark having thrash influences. Not sure if it was Wayne's influence, but Reverend continues pretty much in veins of early Metal Church with slightly thrashier approach. Reverend released one EP (Reverend EP, 1989), one single and two full lenghts in late 80's-early 90's. Full lengths were called World Won't Miss You (1990) and Play God (1991). They reunited in around 2000 and released one promising EP called Gathering Demons but never had change to release full lenght after this which is a shame.

This is Reverend's short live EP consisting out of six songs released in 1992 - slightly after Reverend's second and last full length album. Despite containing only six songs, they are well picked from whole small category of Reverend up 'till 92: Three songs from World Won't Miss You, two from Play God and one from Reverend EP.

This is powerful thrash and powermetal mix here. Wayne's vocals have always been highly appreciated by me. He uses mid-high to high wailing shrieks that cuts like razor. His vocals very much fuels the music itself to sound quite evil. The riffs on this live album are sharp. Drumming is energetic. What also pleases is that this little EP has pretty clear and sharp sound mix, even though it might be slightly thin, it's not at least muddy at all. Quality is quite good actually.

Gunpoint and World Won't Miss You start strongly with slaughtering chainsaw riffs and Waynes' ripping vocals. These are more in your face thrashing headbanger songs. Scattered Wits offers half acoustic more haunting and depressive melodies with Wayne singing partly shierks and partly clean voice. This proves the guy can sing clean vocals well also. B.O.B (Butcher of Baghdad) offers more bay area style riffing and drumming - being really gloomy, dark and heavy. Promised land then offers more laid back mysterious sounding song - being more jam'along thrash. It has its gloomy and mysterious slowdown parts combined with regular thrashing moments and some groove. Last track out of six - Power of Persuasion - is probably my favorite though. It's only song here from Reverend EP. Guitarists play strong chugging palm-muted riffs that are all over the song with overall evil atmosphere.

Overall just good little live EP that should please any bay area thrash or early Metal Church fan well. Only matter here is that this little EP is EP - one would had wanted to hear more material in form of full lenght live. Band performance is solid and energetic. Backing vocals are used well. Worth of buying even for just six tracks. 79/100 (Good)

  • Brian Korban - Guitars
  • David Wayne (R.I.P. 2005) - Vocals
  • Stuart Fuji - Guitars
  • Dennis O'Hara - Bass
  • Rick Basha - Drums
  • 1. Gunpoint 04:35
  • 2. World Won't Miss You 04:52
  • 3. Scattered Wits 04:49
  • 4. Butcher Of Baghdad 03:53
  • 5. Promised Land 02:58
  • 6. The Power of Persuasion 04:05
    • Total running time 25:12

REVIEW: KAT (POL) - 666 (1986)

Kat is a polish band formed as far back in time as 1979. Kat is polish and stands for "executioner". Metal Encyclopedia describes their music as Heavy/Speed/Black Metal/Thrash Metal. On this album is evil sounding speed metal with occasional thrash moments thrown in and sounds very evil indeed. This album was released a year before in almost similar song lineup. I've never heard that one so I don't know if it was sung in english, but lyrics are written in english on that album which is called Metal And Hell. What we have here is totally great album.

This is speed metal with early thrash influences and some traditional heavy metal leads thrown in. Vocalist Roman Kostrzewski has totally hoarse powerful mid-range voice that sounds totally wicked and evil, with some high shrieks used time to time. Oh by the way vocals are sung in polish but doesn't bother quite a bit although one can't understand much of the lyrics except they are about evil, satan and occult. Fits the music perfectly. Material is made for headbanging and moshing with strong palm muted riffing and some additional melodic hooks from traditional heavy metal added. Guitar solos are also very good. Bass is audible and drumming is strong. Only thing really that is not so strong here is rough bit thin production. But even it cannot overshadow this album's greatness. Gloomy but energetic riffs with lots of sharp palm muted riffs and lost of flying guitar solos along evil atmosphere dominates this album. It's a mix of Running Wild's Gates to Purgatory and some middle european early thrash. Speed metal versus thrash metal battle.

Material is very good overall. No much filler to be found. Ultra fast speed metal riffing in Metal i Plekto with totally strong commanding chorus shouts makes you want to raise your fist along. Mid-fast Diabelski Dom cz i with it's riding-rhythm is a nod to more traditional 80s heavy metal but sounding more evil than anything traditional heavy I can fastly think of. Ripping bit more groovy Masz Mnie Wampirze is total headbanging moment. Noce Szanata sounds like something faster material from first TANK album Filth Hounds of Hades but is just very much sharper sounding. Wyrocznia is probably the most bottom heavy moment of the album in veins of something like bay early area thrash and just smokes. Last but not least is mid-fast very eerie sounding 666 with horror-style scream "iaaaarrrghhh" included in chorus with Satan!! Satan!! shouts. Quite winner combination in my opinion. Cheesy? Maybe. Cult? Definetely.

If you want to find a good slavic 80s band, be it early speed metal or thrash metal. Be sure to check KAT out. Some totally awesome stuff to be found in this album. Not too complex base riffs, but just energetic and guitar solos kick ass. But it is really the vocals that just nails it. Prepare for evil speed'n'thrash assault. 91/100 (Awesome)

*Currently unavailable to buy as new, but there's currently one used LP available!

  • Piotr Luczyk - Guitars
  • Ireneusz Loth - Drums
  • Tomasz Jaguś - Bass
  • Wojciech Mrowiec - Guitars
  • Roman Kostrzewski - Vocals

  • 1. Metal i Piekło 02:43
  • 2. Diabelski Dom - cz. I 04:46
  • 3. Morderca 03:15
  • 4. Masz Mnie Wampirze 03:11
  • 5. Czas Zemsty 04:47
  • 6. Noce Szatana 03:32
  • 7. Diabelski Dom - cz. III 03:41
  • 8. Wyrocznia 03:41
  • 9. Czarne Zastępy 03:30
  • 10. 666 03:26
    • Total running time 36:32

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – KPR/RLP013ZSX782
Type – LP/P/86
Near Mint – $25
Very Good+ - $14

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekly metal videos - week 28

Weekly metal videos for week 28/2011 are up. Vote your favourite. I will update them every second week now unless we get some more votes than last time.

Check what music videos week 28 has to offer here

Saturday, July 9, 2011

REVIEW: Cobra (UK) - Back From The Dead (1987)

Cobra are band from England formed in 1984. Metal Encyclopedium classifies them as power/speed metal band. I would put them more on heavy/speed myself. They released two full-lenght albums in their career Warriors of The Dead and this one here - Back From the Dead.

Not much here that we haven't heard before. The songs are mostly mid-fast traditional 80s heavy in veins of something like rougher Ostrogoth/Tröjan meeting the melody of Iron Maiden/Omen falling somewhere in between. Just not quite as memorable. The sound is dirty and rough yet melodic. This is partly because the sound mix is quite rough edged. Partly because the vicious singer Paul Edmonson uses kind of shrieky high vocals. He's decent and at times even good, but quite often he sounds a bit out of key and out of place. He's bit unstabile but not totally bad. Just average shrieker who can use cleaner classic heavy vocals also, but he uses them quite little on this album. Riffs here are quite good standard, not too shiny but manage to keep album enjoyable. While riffs may be a bit generic, on the good side they are energetic at least to say. This album rarely sounds slow and plodding..

About half of the songs are quite good while other half is more unmemorable but decent. Opening track We're Going To Take What's Ours is more anthemic Maiden'ish track - especially the chorus - which would be cool to shout along. Speedy Devil's Daughter with doublebass drums, some cool shredding/soloing and uplifting atmosphere is very good track. Edmonson's vocal delivery is also very good here. Some good palm-muted melodic riffing can be found on more dramatic Night Creatures (even though vocals are bit out of key at times). Royal fast melody lead riffs open up Longest Night, which is great speedy song with very good lead guitar work - total headbanging material and probably best song on the album. Rest of the songs are just decent, except keyboard-laden half-acoustic Life's Door with clean vocals feels like it doesn't fit here and closer Quick Off The Mark is just unmemorable.

Conclusion? Speedier tracks generally work better than mid-paced. At best overall atmosphere is energetic. Worth of getting for We're Going To Take What's Ours anthem and speedy Devil's Daughter & Longest Night and some decently good shredding and guitar leads. Your quite standard speed/heavymetal from 80's with enough nice melodies and hooks to make it enjoyable album despite it's flaws - falling above average category. 75/100 (Good)

  • Steve Hughes - Guitars
  • Paul Edmonson - Vocals
  • Sean Parker - Bass
  • Chris Greer - Drums
  • Ian Beck - Guitars

  • 1. We're Going to Take What's Ours 04:48
  • 2. Maiden Flight 03:54
  • 3. Devil's Daughter 03:55
  • 4. Night Creatures 03:27
  • 5. Longest Night 03:55
  • 6. Curse of Eden 05:23
  • 7. So Close 03:04
  • 8. Life's Door 05:36
  • 9. Quick Off the Mark 05:08
    • Total running time: 39:10

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Ebony/EBON39
Type – LP/UK/86
Near Mint – $11
Very Good+ - $6.50

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

REVIEW: Black Fate (GER) - Commander of Fate (1986)

Black Fate were a German heavy metal band in the eighties releasing only one full length album in 1986 called 'Commander of Fate'. Compared to the more rocking material that their country-mates such as Sinner, Railway, and MP (Metal Priests) were putting out at the time, Black Fate leaned more towards purest form heavy metal, perhaps influenced more by early eighties era NWOBHM. Music on the album could be described as a combination of Accept and early Running Wild riffs with healthy dose of NWOBHM influence. Averagely powerful singer Michael Hüttemann is able to use both more rough mid range voice (as in 'Champange'), as well as classic clean mid-range heavy metal vocals (majority of the time), and despite being German, with his good pronunciation he almost resembles of Angel Witch's Dave Tattum at times, with similar dramatic sounding tone, just not as powerful. Hüttemann's clean, non-soaring and stable wailing does hold some magic on it's own.

Rhythm guitar riffs by Stefan Witt and Michael Roll are quite straight-forward, with standard mid-fast palm muted "chainsaw" riffing and power chords in roots of Judas Priest, Accept and earlier Running Wild. Melodic, dry, and gloomy sounding deliberate lead guitars spice up the songs very nicely nodding towards NWOBHM influence. This can be heard especially in songs like epic mid-tempo Child Of Hell with it's gloomy and dramatic atmosphere, where distorted and clean electric guitar passages take turns. The classy and haunting chorus echoes in spirit of the most honest and pure early eighties heavy metal with lots of emotion. This song could very well be fit somewhere in Angel Witch's second album Screamin'N'Bleedin', being perhaps the best track of the whole record. Other melody driven tracks include speedier 'Wild In The Streets' and mid-paced 'Warchild'. Both tracks have great NWOBHM'ish vocals and strong memorable chorus lines. 'Champagne' is speedy track in style of "early Running Wild meets Motörhead", where Hüttemann uses his rougher singing style quite successfully. 'Frozen Tears' is standard half-ballad with acoustic versus electric guitar deathmatch, with some keyboards thrown on the background. 'Heaven Can Wait' is your standard upbeat palm-muted rhythm-guitar-laden Accept influenced track, while 'Midnight' reminds me of 'Head Over Heels'.

All in all 'Commander of Fate' is rather good effort, but I feel that the guys could had made it even better by pressing "gas pedal" further towards the floor. It definitely sounds like mix of traditional German heavy metal and NWOBHM. Rhythm guitar riffs are quite standard but solid, and riffing is more tight than sloppy, and deliberate lead guitars are rather non-flashy but beautiful, adding some quite memorable well thought out melodies in the songs. Every band member can hold his own. The sound production is decently good, though maybe slightly thin. Bass playing is audible in the mix and sounds pleasant. Drumming is rather standard, but I like Ralf Berndt use of cymbals/hi-hat. Generally speaking 'Commander Of Fate' is not one of the most generic albums around and does have it's fair share of gloomy quite memorable melodies and good clean mid-range vocals. Being quite enjoyable ride, Commander Of Fate lacks the biggest classics. Epic Child Of Hell is potential candidate for a minor classic, Heaven Can Wait, Midnight, and Warchild are semi-great, but the rest of the material doesn't quite reach the same status, despite being "good". That being said there are no real fillers either, meaning that the performance is quite solid from the first to last song. If you enjoy Breaker-Restless And Wild-era Accept, Running Wild's Gates To Purgatory, or melodic NWOBHM such as Grim Reaper, then I'm sure this album has a place in your collection.

77 | reviewer: dungeoncrawler

  • Frank Sondermann - Bass
  • Ralf Berndt - Drums
  • Stefan Witt - Guitars
  • Michael Roll - Guitars
  • Michael Hüttemann - Vocals

  • 1. Heaven Can Wait 03:18
  • 2. Champagne 03:36
  • 3. Child Of Hell 06:03
  • 4. Wild In The Streets 03:16
  • 5. Warchild 06:00
  • 6. Frozen Heart 06:04
  • 7. Prelude 00:42
  • 8. Midnight 05:12
    • Total running time: 34:11

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Fate
Type – LP/G/86
Near Mint – $135
Very Good+ - $75

Sunday, July 3, 2011

REVIEW: Railway (GER) - Railway (1984)

Railway was a German traditional heavy metal band formed in 1977. They play traditional heavy metal with very hard rocking edge. Closest bands musically that comes to my mind would be their country-mates Accept and Warlock, as well as perhaps a bit more commercial side of Judas Priest there. Accept and Warlock lean averagely more towards heavy metal, while Railway takes the more hard rock approach.

There's no much bad to say about this record. It's very 80's glitché in a good way, straightforward and entertaining. The riffs are just flowing, simple, and fun to listen to. Drum patterns are also rather simplistic, yet bombastic and heavy, and fit to the theme. Riffs have a good straight-forward energy on them, and they are really heavy on mid-paced rhythm-guitar chugging. Guitar solos, however are bit more complex and stand out of the otherwise rather straight-forward compositions. Bass is very audible in the mix, giving the needed low-end punch. Vocals by Walter Wicha are perhaps the weakest point of the album; not over-the-top way of bad, but not certainly pushing the otherwise fine material to another level, either. While he seems to "blend" in to the music rather well, he can also be slight annoyance at times. Wicha sings with mid-pitched slightly rough nasal voice which is definitely okay when he stays at this level of vocal range. But, he also uses quite much higher pitched screams which come out little wacky sometimes; out of the key and unstable, so to say. I'd imagine if Railway ever had more stable and bit more professional singer - they could had pushed things bit more far. That being said, there were plenty of middle European metal bands from countries such as Belgium, Germany, and so on in the 80s, which had really terrible singer trying to do vocals in English. Wicha isn't one of the actually really bad ones; you who have heard some of the worst singers of the era know that there were some of really "bad apples" among the decent and great ones.

Despite the plain non-complex riffs, yet energetic hard-rock flavored riffs, and  simple drumming patterns, the record still manages to sound enjoyable, even great one would say. Atmosphere is bombastic and dirty, simplistic, but not hollow. Backing vocals by the rest of the band in choruses are used often and work very well. Choruses are definitely great to shout along. Material is also very consistent throughout the whole album. One of the best tracks is uplifting opening track "Heavy Metal Fever" with cheesy but great sing-along chorus: "Heavy metal fever! Heavy metal fever! Heavy metal fever! C'mon let's go!"; you just cannot listen that with serious face. This album's all about energy and fun. Mid-paced rocker "Screaming After Midnight" is another high point of the album. More chugging palm muted rhythm guitars can be found in "Take It Away" and especially in "Out To Kill"; both very good songs. Bass driven rocking "Crazy" is always fun to listen to. Some more good gang sung choruses can be found in speedier tracks "Nightrider" and "Hell Soldiers".

Railway's S/t album is a very good hard rock bordering German heavy metal record in veins of Accept and Warlock; take the straight forward riffs from early Accept and the more commercial side of Warlock, and tone it a few steps into hard rock direction, and you pretty much get what's offered here, but with less professional singer. If you can tolerate a bit wacky vocals at times when the singer hits the higher notes (backing vocals are often used and good, though) - you're in for a good fun ride. The guitars are good enough, and the vocals not bad enough, that the records ends easily on the upside of 80s heavy metal, by far. This record just screams for heavy metal party with beer; not to be taken too seriously, but to be moshed with fists pumping into the air. Simple, effective, rocking, easy to sing along and dirty (as many "mid-range" German bands in the 80s used to do things). Unlike some other truly nice albums of this kind by other bands, which I just forget (by accident), there's some magic in this Railway's debut, which occasionally makes me remember it out of the blue and listen it again. 82/100 (Great) -- (Updated 12/4/2016: improved the spelling of the ancient review)

  • Werner Thaller - Bass
  • Hasi Haslinger - Drums
  • Robert Haslinger - Guitars
  • Walter Wicha - Vocals
  • Hermann Janowitz (R.I.P. 1988) - Guitars

  • 1. Heavy Metal Fever 03:28
  • 2. Out to Kill 03:29
  • 3. Screaming After Midnight 03:04
  • 4. Take It Away 02:53
  • 5. Nightrider 04:16
  • 6. Dirty Boys 03:21
  • 7. Crazy 03:47
  • 8. Stone In My Bed 04:13
  • 9. Hell Soldiers 04:03
  • 10. Break It Up (Bonus Track) 04:16
  • 11. Can’t Stand It (Bonus Track) 03:43
    • Total running time: 40:33

For Collectors:
(Following prices have raised since ’99 but will give you direction)
Used album price @ Martin Popoff’s Heavy Metal Record Price Guide (1999):

Label – Roadrunner/RR9821
Type – LP/N/84
Near Mint – $12
Very Good+ - $7

Friday, July 1, 2011

Impressed with Portrait (SWE)

I happened to stumble upon band called Portrait from Sweden in Youtube, after recommendation by a friend. I was quite impressed with their speedy traditional heavy metal approach flavoured with Mercyful Fate influences obviously. Singers quite high pitched King Diamond'ish wailing combined with rough mid-range screams sound quite non-standard and cool. Riffs scream for 80s heavy/speedmetal.

Sweden seems to be a mecca of new and old but active 80s sounding traditional heavy metal bands these days. Theres just plenty: Torch, RAM, Helvetets Port, Steelwing, Enforcer, Overdrive, Ghost, In Solitude and now also Portrait.

What do you think?