Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Saint originally released ‘Crime Scene Earth’ in 2008 amidst many mixed reactions. Those reactions were primarily due to the fact that Josh Kramer only sang on three tracks and unknown to the metal community was that bassist Richard Lynch handled the bulk of the vocal work. Well after much outcry and hope Saint have issued ‘Crime Scene Earth 2.0.’

In computer terms 2.0 usually means new an improved with the bugs removed. (Hint, hint Microsoft…. But that’s a different issue…) In the case of this new and improved album I think Saint have given us all a huge upgrade! First off yes Josh Kramer is here wailing away in his entire God given glory. Hearing Josh blast out ‘Terror in The Sky,’ ‘Everlasting God’ or the title track ‘Crime Scene Earth’ is pure metal nirvana.

Richard Lynch has also been able to remix and in some places re-record portions of this soon to be classic album. The drums sound much better this time through as do much of the guitar parts. Frankly this a real upgrade across the board.

J Powell at Steinhaus said that when he mastered this release it felt more like a 70’s metal album to him so he mastered it that way. I can’t really argue with that statement as there are many elements that a 70s release would have. The songwriting has that feel more than anything I think. After hearing “Bended Knee” and “Lost” for instance I’m left thinking of Judas Priests ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ and ‘Sad Wings Period’ period.

Perhaps if there was one thing I wish they would’ve changed and didn’t are the high pitched harmonies on “Half a Times Measure” during the chorus. I wish they were more in the background as opposed to being right in the front of the mix almost overpowering Josh’s main melody line. I just found 'em to be too distracting and thought they should be mixed further back. A small item to me.

As another side note, Saint have actually released a 3rd version of 'Terror in the Sky.' Apparently the version on the first pressings is a scratch track that inadvertently made it onto the first pressings(according to Josh Kramer's webpage). The actual album version is available as a free download and here is the post directly from the Saint website.

"Well it sounds like everyone is enjoying Hell Blade and CSE has shipped out this last weekend. Here's a link to the updated Terror In The Sky


This is a newer version than the one on CSE 2.0 and is free. Merry Christmas everyone - Saint

I found this version to be even better than the one on the actual album. I don't know how long it will be available so I suggest getting it sooner rather than later.

After hearing the new album ‘Hell Blade’, which is a triumph in its own right, ‘Crime Scene Earth 2.0’ is like the second part of a one two punch. If you didn’t care for the original version this version should have you headbanging with joy. I disagree with those who think that Saint is living on a reputation from years gone by. There is still some metal on those bones.

Listen up Warriors of the Son, let it be said that Saint are still delivering the goods. This album is a rapid fire assault that leaves you screaming for vengeance that it’s too late for living because of the time’s end.

8 axes


It’s always a marvelous feeling to hear a new band just know they seem to have it. Blasting out of Brazil is Disaffection with their 2010 debut album entitled ‘Begin the Revolution.’ With a strong mixture of old school thrash metal, modern sensibility and clean production values make this release a keeper for sure.

A musical style that is very akin to early thrash metal of the 1980’s. Whether it’s the fast riff-a-matic style of Slayer, Destruction, or the tempo changes of Exodus, Disaffection bring it to a boil. Charging full speed ahead with ‘Metal Kombat’ through ‘I Wanna See the Chaos’ these guys rip the doors off. Power saw guitar parts with banging double bass and slicing vocals you know Disaffection mean business.

Cleiton Magno (vocals) and the boys should continue to make a name for them with this powerful brand of thrash. Vindictive and brutal guitar riffs courtesy of Daniel Neves & Paul Moraes complement Cleitons vocal wailing. Cleiton has a vocal sound that reminds me at times of Tom Araya and Dave Prado. Helo provides the bottom end blasting bass which drives along with Francuar Silva as he pulverizes his drums.

This is a band that thrives on the RIFF! Fast or slow Disaffection have a massive array of riffs stockpiled. Charging and pulsating are the rhythms that they deliver in no uncertain terms. The wall of superior guitar sound that was achieved leaves one air guitaring off the furniture. (Hey I said GET DOWN!!)….. If your head ain’t banging or your legs moving as you hear this you must be dead. Just listen to ‘Which One’s the Truth’ or ‘Mortuary Man’ and tell me you didn’t get the urge to pit right there.

For me, many times I hear ‘This band is great.’ Or ‘They bring it.’ And then I hear it and I just go… “What am I missing? Because this ain’t that good.” Usually it’s the weak song writing or the production doesn’t bring the energy home. Those are clearly defects that are NOT present here. The songs actually have hooks of a sort and the production is tight and clean.

The only thing that left me a little flat was the lead playing. The solos at times felt a little thin, but with time I’m sure that will improve. Of course this is thrash metal and solos aren’t always the main thing, but I always dig good playing and some good chops could only improve the band.

Bombworks Records has presented us with a thrash metal feast and it would be a shame to ignore it. So grab your leather jacket and your studs Rivet Heads, a new Sheriff is here. Begin the Revolution!

8 Axes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


After hearing so much praise for this release by Venia entitled “Victory by Surrender” I was excited to give it a spin. I kept hearing about engaging songwriting, wonderful vocals and superior musicianship. Coming from Finland I’m always anxious to hear new metal with a European flavor.

There can be no doubt that Venia have tremendous musicians. Each member shows that they’re well versed in using the talent they’ve been given. Veronica Solje has a wonderful voice; Viktor Fagerstrom is the driving force with strong guitar playing throughout. Jere Veijalainen adds a nice dimension with his rhythm guitar and Juhani Palttala is the backbone on bass. Apparently the drums were provided by guest player Dani Puolmatka.

Yet I find something lacking here. It took me 4-5 listens before I realized what it was, I didn’t find enough strong melody lines to keep me connected. That’s not to say there isn’t melody, there is but not enough to keep me going. When I finished listening I had to think about what I just heard, what was the chorus or melody that would pull me back again?

There are some great melodies in the two instrumentals “Towards a New Dawn” and “Eternal Sanctuary.” Both remind me of early Iron Maiden, with the guitar melody lines and galloping rhythms. These songs are standouts in my opinion and definitely worth more listens.

Of the songs vocally I found the title track “Victory over Surrender,” “The Blood of The Lamb,” and “Genesis” to be top players for me. The dynamics of these songs intrigued me and I definitely gave them deeper inspection. I was rewarded for those extra listens and found great enjoyment there. These compositions are guitar driven heavy metal with violin and keyboards which is right up my alley. There is a strong sense of ‘traditional’ heavy metal here which at times lends itself to a more symphonic sound.

I just believe that Venia is capable of so much more musically. Stronger vocal melodies with greater dynamics would be of great benefit. Those melodies should demand you listen again. In conjunction with that I do wish they were able to obtain a warmer vocal sound for Veronica. It would allow her to shine even brighter with more feeling and depth.

All in all, this disc in my opinion is good, but I know Venia are capable of more. They show it and hint at it. The promise is here hopefully the next album will show positive steps in the right direction. It’s because of the promise of bigger and better things I’m rating this album with.

6 axes

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Let me first say I love heavy metal in all its various forms. I look for the melody either in the vocal line or the riff. It’s the hook that gets me coming back to listen again and again.
So when it comes to the more extreme forms of metal such as death, black, and their various sub genres and the various ‘cores’ which are too many to mention, it becomes all to mind boggling to keep it straight.

That is why I was a little skeptical about reviewing this release. However I’m always up for a challenge and I love to hear new music, even when I don’t feel completely competent on a certain genre of music. Undoubtedly there will be many out there who will tell me “Oh it’s easy to keep track and hear the various differences.” You’re entitled to your opinion.

All of that said we come to the album we’re talking about which is the debut by "I Built the Cross". Their disc is entitled “Bridging the Gap between Mind and Heart.” I would love to be able to describe their sound in my own words, but their style of metal is not one I have particular expertise. On IBTCs MySpace it says they play a form of “Spirit-Led Technical Death Metal.” It’s short on memorable melody, but heavy on arpeggio style riffing, blast beats and deep growling vocals with the occasional black metal wailing.

Opening with a narration, which sounds like it’s from a film I should know IBTC tears right into it. With an average age of 18 IBTC are proficient on their instruments and show that they know what they want. Riffing through “Minus One Star for Christianity” to “Stand Together,” “To Deface Grace and “Borrowed Parts” IBTC are serious about their craft.

They are also serious about their message which is full of the love and forgiveness they’ve found through their lord Jesus Christ. They’re lyrics are insightful and honest. Yet I found it nearly impossible to follow along with the vocalizations because of the vocal style. That in one sense is really too bad because IBTC have a lot to say.

Musically I think my favorite song is “Misguided Ministry.” It’s heavy and has more discernable melody than most of the other songs. A powerful track.

The production is clean with good clarity and definition. All the instruments are evenly mixed save for the bass guitar. I couldn’t tell if he is playing the guitar parts or if he is playing along to the drums. Not a deal breaker.

IBTC play to a niche area of the metal market and from what I can hear is that they do it well. If you like brutal technical death metal this disc is for you.

7 axes

Monday, December 7, 2009


In the mid 80’s an extremely underrated and little known hardcore outfit from Florida released some extremely intense and LOUD albums. They played a brand of hardcore/punk that had an East Coast vibe with some So Cal feel. They did play Cornerstone several times and received rave reviews. That band was known as The Lead.

I say little, because I never hear anyone discuss them these days, even though they were popular in Christian circles. Having said that they did make a dent into the East Coast hardcore scene with a well received gig at New Yorks CBGBs. That really is too bad as they were doing true extreme hardcore before the entire Christian thrash/metal movement even had a glimmer.

However Retroactive Records has put together a complete anthology of The Lead. Their original demos plus all three of their vinyl releases appear here, remastered in full glory. Lovers of extreme metal should be grabbing this up. Yes there are punk elements but out of 49 songs there are more than enough face mashers to get your money’s worth. This is a double disc package that is worth every penny.

The Lead was a three piece comprised of Julio Rey (guitars/lead vocals), Nina Llopis (bass/lead vocals), and Robbie Christie (drums). They did add a second guitarist, Andy Coyle, for their final (and most metallic/thrash album) 1989’s “Burn This Record.”

Their original demos “The Lead” and “Three Equals One” were followed by three vinyl releases 1986 “Automoloch,” 1987 “The Past Behind” and 1989 “Burn This Record.” The last two releases were originally on REX Records and because of that there was a little bit more budget which did enhance the original recordings.

One of my favorite songs by The Lead was definitely ‘Calling out to You’ from “Automoloch.” It’s fast hardcore with a totally metal chorus that sounds so heavy and dirty it just rips. Another favorite of mine from “Burn This Record” was the thrash heavy ‘Internal Pain.’ It’s a true speed burner that is heavy as a tank. From “The Past Behind” ‘Abomination/National Pride’ a hardcore tune with punk attitude. They even did a Resurrection Band cover of 'Alienated' on the "Automoloch" release.

Lyrically they spoke more about social injustice, injustice in the church but most importantly salvation through Jesus. Fantastic commentary that we don’t see a lot of today.

This was released as a limited edition of 1000 units through Retroactive. Honestly I’m surprised there are any left because this is a treasure trove of great extreme music with a Christian conscience.

8 axes.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Instrumental music in the heavy metal genre is usually a mixed bag. It’s either an excuse for a grand indulgence in the area of the long guitar solo, long monotonous songs with no direction or songs with beautiful melodies that just leap out at you. In this regard Hguols delivers some rather unique musical offerings that often reflect the latter.

Hguols is a one man project with the one man being Thomas Eversole. He has worked up an instrumental album of black metal destruction that he calls "The Bombastic Black Metal Sountrack". However it must be noted that all of the songs written and performed were done a MIDI. For those who may not know a MIDI is an electronic program that is usually used by keyboards. However with computer technology a MIDI can be used there as well. So what we have is 50 minutes or so of blistering black metal played through the use of a computer or keyboard.

Thomas has dubbed this the ‘Bombastic Black Metal Soundtrack.’ That may very well be the case as he has composed some rather haunting melodies. There are some rather frightening harpsichord and choral elements that really will make you think of an old dark house.

The sounds Thomas has been able to attain are quite good. The drums really sound like drums and do the other elements of harpsichord and choir. The element that did take the most getting used to was the sounds used in place of the electric guitar. The replacement sound at times almost sound like the disc is stuck on one spot. That only seems to occur when the melody neither ascends nor descends.

My favorite tracks actually are the last five. All of those songs seem to have more variation and dynamics. ‘Of Sorrowed Hearts,’ ‘Of Winter Moons,’ ‘of Sovereign Toccatas’ and especially ‘of Threnodies Abided,’ all really have some fine melodies. A very gothic and dark feel, (is Dracula or the Phantom of The Opera menacing somewhere). I think this disc is worth your time if you like black metal or gothic instrumental music.


7 axes