Thursday, August 19, 2010


Our friends at Roxx Records have offered another treat from the past. Crystavox, were a melodic metal band from the Southern California area circa 1988-1991. Bringing elements of Skid Row, The Bulletboys and the attitude of Van Halen, Crystavox were the real deal, however not being content with just putting out the same recording from 20+ years ago, Roxx has given us a completely re-mastered album.

Re-mastering will usually give a chance to breathe a little new life into a release. Perhaps certain audio frequencies were absent or overdone in the original releases. The volume is generally enhanced as well, which will contribute to the overall listening experience of the fans. Yet even more work was done to this special recording,

'These tracks have been completely remastered and totally redone; new guitars, drums and an over-sampling method vastly increasing the mastered volume of each song to today’s standards making for an optimal sound that brings these tracks straight in to the modern day.' Roxx Website

Such is the case with the release of Crystavox – the 20 Year Mix. Eight tracks were taken from their sophomore effort ‘The Bottom Line’ and the remaining four were taken from their self titled debut. They've never sounded this good!

Listening to this album I really think these songs have stood up rather well, especially in comparison to some of the recent releases by Liberty N Justice or Line of Fire. With oodles of energy and swing Crystavox offered a high quality listening experience, no lack of chops here. Quick melodic rockers throughout this 12 song compilation provide a great summer time listening experience.

Break Down the Walls and Stick to Your Guns are my favorite tracks here, lots of energy and melody that will stick to you like glue. The mid tempo’d slice and dice on The 20 Year Mix is rather catchy. However the bands one attempt at a fast more straight metal tune, Paradise, leaves me flat; almost like the song wasn’t finished.

No album from this time period would be complete without a few power ballads, Home Again and No Boundaries fit the bill nicely. Home Again scored a bit of radio play back in the day and Roxx was trying to bring that back again by issuing that as the first single. You can see the lighters going up in unison.

The members of the band have all gone on to other endeavors, but have all thrown their support behind this release. It’s a good thing too, because the quality here is not to be missed. Roxx even included an extremely high quality DVD as well, live footage, interviews and reminiscences by the band. Vocalist Adam Lee Kemp provides some written insights as well, amongst the liner notes.

One item that did elude me is what happened to their bass player? No mention of him in the liners that I could see, yet on the DVD he’s right there. Just a question, not a criticism.

Grab that leather frilled jacket and snake skin boots, big hair is back. If you missed ‘em back in the day pick this one up and see what the excitement was about. For the fans, this release is an absolute must that will delight and engage you, while reminding you about all that was good about Crystavox in the first place.

8 axes

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Take The Downward Spiral and you’ll end up in a pit of sheer thrash brilliance. The Moshketeers really did deliver some strong thrash metal. If you’re a fan of Overkill, Exodus and Anthrax this Roxx Records release should be right up your alley. Prior to the band taking the moniker The Moshketeers they had previously been known as Rapture. Several demos of theirs have floated around for years with the Vacation From Hell demo added as a limited edition special bonus disc for this release.

With plenty of dynamic riffs and powerful songwriting The Moshketeers have delivered a long forgotten classic to the masses. It’s really hard to believe this is only a three piece band, yes I understand how the studio works with guitar tracking and such. While that may need to be taken in account it just sounds like a solid wall of guitar goodness. The guitar sound Paul was able to get really is phenomenal.

Powerful songs like Sin, The Myth and Self Extinction show a band that was on their ‘A’ game when they originally recorded this material back in 1990. I must say its aged very well; they’d find no trouble finding an audience today. The riffs still sound fresh and vocalist Paul Scozzafava is very reminiscent of Kurt Bachman on the vocal side.

The varied tempos across this album are one of its greatest strengths. At one moment you could be moving at light speed as during The Downward Spiral or punching a groove like Epicurus, maybe even some doom like riffage, just listen to Self Extinction. There’s a nice palette of heavy sounds waiting for you to engage with.

The song Grease the Duck is a total rant against televangelists who claim more than they could possibly achieve. Thematically close in style to The Crucifieds, The Insult Circus. Throughout the album themes of sin, salvation and authenticity are explored. Lyrically very up front and in your face about where they’re coming from; The Moshketeers are ministry oriented and don’t apologize for it at all.

The Downward Spiral delivers great tonality and the mastering done by everyone’s favorite, J Powell at Steinhaus, shows once again why he is one of most requested studio engineers around. The mix is solid, and with Powell’s EQ mastery, it comes together like a bullet. The sonic feast that awaits you which is tight and punchy, with great bass and drum tones.

The Downward Spiral is a reminder that to be heavy doesn’t mean light speed. It also doesn’t mean a tune down sound, with a rumbling bottom end, courtesy of Michael Parkin locks in so well with the guitar it contributes to a sound that is pounding. Hearing this material now, its suspect as to why they didn’t get a deal 20 years ago.

Scott Waters of Ultimatum wrote the three pages of liner notes inside. Several great live color photos are included, along with photos of several demo covers. Nice touches which help to make this a great package. There is even their four track demo from 1997 added as bonus tracks.

With the unleashed strength of The Downward Spiral, don’t be surprised to witness a break out of the waltz that is toxic across this fine globe of ours. Powerful thrash metal played to perfection.

8 axes


Thursday, August 5, 2010


Wonrowe Vision is the creation of Steve Rowe, bass player vocalist for Australian headbangers Mortification. That being said this album sounds NOTHING like Mortification, aside from Steve’s vocals and rumbly bass playing. Mission Invincible is the title of the bands debut album and it rocks.

Lincoln Bowen plays guitar and Andrew Esnouf rounds out this trio on drums. Between the three of them they have created some high energy rock n roll with some Metal and Punk overtones, Think Ramones and Motorhead, wrapped up and delivered in a slightly less volatile package. Taylor made for an underground college metal show.

Spirit of the Rock is a motoring rock tune with a great hook. Don’t look for a vast array of power chords or complexity here, simplicity with melody and rawness. Most of the songs could easily be heard at a skate park or bar or motorcycle rally. Resident Spider and Radical Parrot have perhaps the most ‘metal’ on the frame as it were.

Vaporizer, The White Rock and Smile Your way Through Life just scream of Motorhead. After making that observation it should be pointed out that ‘head have always viewed themselves as just a rock n roll band. In the same way Wonrowe Vision offer quite a bit of power and rawness while delivering a lot of bang for the buck. Not a rip off buck a tribute in which an artist pays homage to those who’ve come before them while delivering a map on how to get it done.

Rowe’s love for the Ramones is quite clear on the title track, I’m Not Afraid of the Dark and Wreath the Passion of My Fire. While the influence is obvious, the songs themselves are original. Perhaps the one song on this album that felt a little out of place to me is the single entitled Run in Circles. While I think it’s a good song, I don’t really think it’s a good representation of what this album is about. It veers toward a mellower or balladry (?) feel which is in direct contrast to the rest of the album.

Steve Rowe shows that he still has it crafting top drawer rock tunes with an appeal that is universal. Honestly, too many folks want to focus on Steve’s early work without giving his later work its due. I find that tragic and shortsighted. In one sense this release should silence those critics who claim that Steve is washed up. Mission Invincible puts all those doubts to rest once and for all.

For a limited time the album also comes with a DVD of two of the bands concerts; one at a skate park and the other in a club setting. I should also mention the quality of the cover artwork which I think simply screams PLAY IT LOUD! A great illustration I’d wear proudly on shirt.

Mission Invincible brings the load home and drops it right in your driveway. Greasy and dirty with a decade of dirt (from the Outback no less), the sweat spent during this records construction is quite clear. Direct pumping and raw rock n roll with an infectious groove that would fit nicely in any hard rock fans library.

8 axes

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


An album of intense emotion and takes the listener on a journey through some of the darkest human emotion, Coriolis, The Endless Funeral. Not being familiar with the band at first I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, however regardless of the unknown this release is one which should be heard by all.

If you too are not familiar with Coriolis, by way of musical introduction perhaps Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails are familiar places of reference. This is industrial/electronic hard rock, not quite as heavy as Klank but something for fans of that genre.

Jonathan P. Staments is the brain child behind this disc, by his own admission he has no life, yet it would seem that his life and experiences have been preserved in a musical episode that is catchy, unique and metallic. They referred to their style as synth-metal and that might not be too far off. The production values are of superior quality, which begs the question why can’t more bands put out material of this caliber?

The tracks are layered with industrial and synthesized brilliance, and contain enough metallic bite to smash you up one side and down the other. Songs such as Thank You and All For One shine with enough vibrancy and power to force an immediate replay. Moodier tracks such as Lie? or See You in Hell are gripping and force the listener to look within.

This symphony to the hard times of life is revealing and honest, with enough reminders that we don’t always know what God is up to. Yet we are reminded we can still trust and follow the Creator who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Young Side records has a gem here, I can only hope that the public at large will appreciate the level of integrity being presented here. This is art from the heart with a reminder that the heart is the target of the life we live, whether Christian or not.

(p.s…. a t-shirt in the offing???)

8 axes