Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Throw some Motorhead, Ramones and Danko Jones into a blender and what do you get? Cleophus a three piece rock n roll outfit from Europe with the drive to kick some serious rock n roll butt! The passion and drive puts the pedal to the metal with this their first full album.
Released in 2009, The Battle of the Sinner and the Saint isn’t pretentious but from the gut. High energy and straight to the point with solid production, this album is the complete package. I was surprised myself at how high quality this package is, and why aren’t more people talking about this band?
With songs like True Rock N Roll, Rodeo Rider, Old & Alone; Cleophus has created the complete street vibe gritty and dirty with plenty of dark shadows. The Battle of the Sinner and the Saint is catchy and ballsy without losing its soul. Not necessarily always a happy ending lyrically but that is more like life isn’t it? There is one f bomb dropped in the song dealing with spousal abuse, but it fits. Some won’t understand that but so be it.
Many folks were disappointed with the production elements of the Wonrowe Vision album released last year. May I suggest you grab a copy of this album as this release by Cleophus doesn’t suffer from that apparent problem.
This is the kind of music you’d hear in a small bar or club with sweat pouring off the walls. The electricity is crackling in the air and it’s infectious. True rock n roll is a great way to get your game on. Pick this one up from Cleophus and turn it up.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
After a much prolonged wait all three of Saint’s first releases have been gloriously remastered and reissued with original artwork. As part of Retroactive Records ‘The Original’ series Warriors of the Son and Too Late for Living join the already issued Time's End to complete this metal tri-fecta.
Warriors of the Son was originally issued in 1984 on Morada Records, prior to Stryper’s Yellow and Black Attack. Actually Saint issued this 6 song EP independently on Rotton Records. The cover art was different and had some different mixes, particularly the vocals on Vicars of Fate. Retroactive has reissued the Morada version. (This EP was re-recorded in 2003 with 2 extra tracks. A solid find if you can snatch a copy)
The recording hasn’t aged quite as well as one would hope, but according to Saint mastermind Richard Lynch they spent about $1000 on the original and that was 25+ years ago. Even though I fondly remember this EP as a metal masterpiece only Vicars of Fate and Legions of the Dead have transcended the years gracefully. The songs at times are a little too simplistic but laid the groundwork for what would come later. I dig this disc but if you’re a new comer to the Saint catalog I might suggest some of their other releases first. The elements of Judas Priest had yet to spring forth in this field.
J Powell at Steinhaus oversaw the remastering and was able to bring the bass drum back into the fray. The guitars still have a little more bite than they probably should (at times almost shrill) but chock that up to source material. Remaster from vinyl if my information is correct, again far and away better then what was previously available.
Warriors of the Son is still a headbanging feast, just a little primitive compared with Too Late for Living. Too Late… is the third release for Saint and was their second release for Pure Metal Records back in 1988. Light years ahead of WOTS in the production department and song writing as well.
Too Late for Living was the follow up to Time’s End and in many ways delivered the proverbial goods. Starting with the rather Accept like mid tempo title track, things seemed to move in a faster heavier direction with Star Pilot. An up-tempo metal anthem that highlights a stellar guitar solo from Dee Harrington. Accuser delivers some of the heaviest material on this release but clocking in at 1:59 it is far too short.
The next two tracks The Rock and On the Street feel almost commercial in their fast hitting choruses and short running times. Good songs but the vibe is just a little to polished. A thematic 4 song end of day’s story line next greets the listener, Returning, The Path, Through the Sky, and The War is Over.
Returning is a solid metal instrumental highlighting the guitar histrionics of the aforementioned Harrington, but not to be outdone by drummer extraordinaire John ‘The Machine’ Perrine. Through the Sky is Saint at their most powerful and fastest, double kick courtesy of Perrine but the vocals of Josh Kramer with his Halford like screams put this track in the stratosphere. Why more fans don’t recognize the brilliance here is beyond me.
The remastering brings greater clarity and power to an already powerful album. Metal like Priest, Armored Saint and Accept. The one flaw here is that this album is far too short, clocking in at only 33 min! Commercial considerations? Based on the costuming the band posed in for their promo shots that is a fair assumption.
It just seems to me that there should’ve been two more tracks to get this close to 40 minutes. Perhaps that is why this album takes a back seat to Time’s End.
Traditional metal of the highest order, both of these releases deserve to be in your metal collection. Leather jackets, bullet belts and denim jeans harken back to the time when heavy metal meant songs that stuck with you and you screamed your lungs out in unison. Both of these albums provide that in spades.
Warriors of the Son 7 axes
Too Late for Living 9 axes
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tales of the Sands is the third release from progressive metal act Myrath. I was introduced to them early last year with their sophomore effort Desert Sands, a progressive metal album that caught me and a lot of other people by surprise. I’ve been waiting for this album for a while and I wondered would I have too high of expectations?
No need to fear as Myrath has really come into their own; this album is a tour de force of melodic progressive metal that pulls the listener into a journey of musical delight. Large patches of musical influences from distant lands are woven into this tapestry of sheer musical genius. Tales of the Sands has a strong influx of oriental textures which fill the landscapes throughout.
The songs are all a bit tighter on the length front with nothing clocking in over 6 minutes. Having said that, I find it makes this album more effective and more direct. The progressive time changes are woven seamlessly within some of the most beautiful melodies and arrangements I’ve heard this year.
Zaher Zorguatti provides yet another stellar vocal performance. Almost ethereal in its effect his voice soars throughout this release with ease working seamlessly with the other instruments delivering a tailor made bow which wraps this package. Malek ben Arbia’s guitar heroics which include songwriting not just soloing, is the stitching by which the songs derive their attack. Just check out Beyond the Stars for his most driving riff on this album!
Tales of the Sands is much like a fine painting which you must just sit and observe. The various brush strokes and textures each add another layer that can be dissected, viewed and enjoyed. The bass playing of Anis Jouini is again superior.
So how about some of the specific songs you ask? Well if you’ve caught a hold of the video to the song Merciless Times that is this release in a nutshell. The dreamy songwriting of Under Siege or Braving the Seas with its epic feel moves you to the title track which sounds like it’s sung in a language that is not English. Sour Sigh rocks the house down with it’s staccato like riff and flush oriental sounding keyboard treatments.
A rich and fluid release this album is with solid production and top drawer performances. Kevin Codfert returns as producer once again and again has done a wonderful job. The sound is flush but is able to breathe with each instrument assigned a specific part of the mix and within that part given complete freedom of movement.
Tales of the Sands should open the doors wide for Myrath as this release shows a band who has come into their own. Fans of metal in general should grab this album as it should cross many genre boundaries. I love this album and find its lyrical observations positive and refreshing. Lance Kings Nightmare Records has a major release here, grab this one or be left behind.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
A new Grave Robber album is a cause for carnivorous celebration! Our favorite quartet of living dead ghoulies has produced another collection of frightfully allegorical punk metal ditties. You’re All Gonna Die! Is the latest and greatest from Wretched and company.
All of the trademarks are here, Wooooaahhhh Wooooahhhh!!! The songs are even stronger this time out, whether the full tilt punk of the title track, the poppy punk metal of Invisible Man, the shoveling swing of Something This Way Comes, the cow eyed punk of Last Man on Earth and the metallic Curse of the Werewolf. You’re just gonna find yourself hitting the replay button over and over. The homage to Alice Cooper, The Misfits are still evident but GR really seem to be finding themselves musically.
You’re All Gonna Die! Has taken the Grave Robber zombie’s to another level as far as songwriting and production goes. The guitars sound crisp and punchy, the strong rhythm section is tighter than a body bag, and the vocals are even stronger than what was on their previous releases (Inner Sanctum, Be Afraid and Exhumed). The extra effort here has paid off in spades.
If you don’t get the spiritual metaphors interwoven throughout this album, I’m not gonna explain them to you. Having grown up on the horror films of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s they are very evident to this listener. Not to mention the appearances of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price through out this album. The art presented is crafted for a niche audience and if you’re not familiar with it you’re probably not gonna get it.
An outstanding album that has me excited (not to mention looking over my shoulder for a long boney finger…). Do yourself a favor and obtain this album legally while supporting a legitimate group of creative artists. You’re All Gonna Die! is the real deal without reservation. Where’s my mask????
Saturday, October 8, 2011
For those not in the ‘know,’ Kreyson are a heavy metal act out of Slovakia. They released two albums back in the early 90’s (1990 & 1992 respectively) which have been pretty difficult to obtain. Well thanks to Ulterium Records that difficulty is no longer an issue.
Angel on the Run and Crusaders are now readily available. Kreyson deliver traditional heavy metal with elements that remind me of Hammerfall, Judas Priest and Saxon, straight ahead metal with a European flavor. Angel on the Run I found to have a slightly more ‘commercial’ vibe. That is, the songs don’t put the hammer down without continually and often.
While a more hook driven release Angel on the Run offers several prime cuts such as Kreyson or Deep in the Night. On this album Kreyson even breaks out some ballads that show a softer side, Faraway and Dreamin’ are prime examples. As a package Angel on the Run is solid and works quite well. Released originally in 1990 it has aged with grace.
Crusaders is a much heavier album right out of the gate. Some have even gone so far as to identify this release as speed metal. I’m not quite sure if I’d say that, however the fast songs here outweigh everything else. The heavy factor is much more evident as well. It’s as if Kreyson wanted to show everyone that they could crank up the heavy factor. The songs are still strong with memorable melodies from the driving title track as well as Commandments and The Prisoner. They include a ballad here as well Still, not unlike some of Judas Priests ballads such as Before the Dawn.
The production elements are a little dated, however they still stand up to the test of time and in comparison to many other releases from that era both of these releases are superior.
These releases are for fans of the aforementioned metal acts as well as Saint, Jacob’s Dream and Faith Factor. Kreyson have provided a couple of strong heavy metal platters with a message of hope. Thanks Ulterium Records for these reissues! Grab these albums and your air guitars!