Album Review- Leathurbitch: Into The Night

Leathurbitch

Back when I saw these guys at Legions of Metal in Chicago in 2018, I knew they had something special and unique. Their E.P combined some really catchy speed metal with hard driving late 80’s sleaze metal to create a killer release showing how hungry these guys are. Finally now we have a full length release coming out May 31st and I have to say it really is a sleazy metal masterpiece.

Opening with a very 80’s synth piece, the album goes into full blast with “L.U.S.T” showcasing some tight instrumentals led by Joel Stair’s unique vocals. This tune has a very catchy chorus as well and shows virtually the same band I remember seeing live with a slightly polished production working in their favor. Next up is “I Want What You Got” which shows the sleazier hard rocking side of the band but still works with the sound they are going for with some moments that stray into speed metal as well. “Sleaze City” is next up and is another catchy tune that doesn’t let up and features one of my favorite solo’s on the album. “Killing The Silence” goes for more straight forward speed with Joel’s soaring vocals really making this one of the major highlights. I also really love the groove going on with “I’m Insane” and it feels like if early Queensryche stepped off the sunset strip and I really dig it. The final tune “Killer Instinct” may just be my favorite song on the album with how razor sharp the band is.

Overall, Leathurbitch are really coming out swinging with this debut. If you are into Sleazy metal dripping with speed and major attitude then this album is for you. The band essentially take the formula they established on their E.P and refined it time ten. Grab this album May 31st from High Roller Records, its worth it and definitely will be on repeat for my summer playlist.

Album Review- Hexx: Wrath of The Reaper

 

“Wrath of The Reaper” is the fourth album by San Francisco based Heavy Metal group Hexx and is to be released September 15th, 2017. Hexx are one of those bands like Riot where they sort of have a different sound with each of their records. For example, their debut entitled “No Escape” had more of a power/thrash metal feel where by their third album “Morbid Reality” they had adapted more of a death metal-esque sound. Either way I always thought that it made them more of an interesting band with more substance to them. Now in 2017 we have their first album in 27 years. This album is sort of a combination of all their styles and even adds the legendary Bob Wright of Brocas Helm infamy. But lets see how the album really stacks up.

Track Rundown

1.Macabre Procession of Specters- Opening up with some marching drums we get a very raw heavy riff that has a lot of groove to it as the song goes on. I really like the production on the album as it has a very raw sound especially in the drums in how well the bass drum clicks, it just sounds very live and I really like when drums have that sound captured on a record. The sound has sort of a traditional? speed metal feel to it especially with the thrashing chorus that is quite catchy as well. Eddy Vega’s vocals I have to say hold up amazingly with that heavy grit but with the ferocious high screeches that make him such a powerhouse. Overall, this is a great old school sounding tune that would fit in well with their older material.

2.Screaming Sacrifice- This song goes right for the jugular with no holds barred speed metal with a very Priest feel to it but the band put their stamp on it well with a lot of frantic heavy riffing all throughout. it almost has a progressive metal feel to it and is done very well and very tight. The verses I find very catchy here it definitely warrants for multiple listens with some melodic solos sprinkled out as well making it a varied and very original speed metal tune.

3.Slave In Hell-This song has a very old school progressive metal feel to it with a lot of bouncy time changes throughout but still having a heavy traditional metal feel as well especially with the scratchy yet epic sounding vocals. This is one of my favorites on the album with a hard galloping pace and memorable chorus. A must listen for sure.

4.Swimming The Witch- Opening with this pulsating fuzzed out guitar that is epic as hell, the song has this really infectious almost Egyptian sounding main riff and another infectious set of verses as well. The band definitely utilize a lot of early US power metal feeling on this record especially in its pacing. They also are very good at writing original songs as so far no song has sounded the same or even that much similar which is very good. I love the solo in this song as it almost sounds like something from Mercyful Fate. Another absolutely winner of a song.

5.Dark Void Of Evil-This song has a more slower epic pace to it opening with cleaner guitars but still having that raw atmosphere the rest of the records has as well. This is one of the best on the album with some very intriguing riffing that have a sort of ominous melody to them and a lot of soaring vocals that are always a treat and show the band in top form. One of the most original tunes offered here.

6.Unraveled- This song has more of that Power/Speed metal style that we heard earlier in the record and is so damn energetic. It is definitely one of the more simple songs on the album but it is also one of the most fun with a classic as can be solo that just sends the song as a whole over the top.

7.Voices- This song has a bit of a modern feel to it with the vocals singing along with the bass and it works very well. Hexx today sounds like what modern popular Heavy Metal groups should sound like. This is another track that shows the very tight playing between all members as well.

8.Exhumed For The Reaping- I get a very Iron Maiden feeling from this song just for the sheer power and epic notions it carries however with a bit of a heavier kick to it. I love how heavy and grooving the solo is for this song making it my probably my favorite moment of the album with both legendary guitarists trading off and getting seemingly more intense. Definitely one of the most fun tracks on the album.

9.Circle The Drain- The opening of this song does drag a bit but it is a good build to the main beat with a straight almost Exciter sounding tune. The punk roots here cannot be denied as it keeps to a very simple chugging riff at least most of the time. This is an absolute barn burner of a song and for being this far into the album, it definitely holds your attention all the way through.

10.Wrath of The Reaper- This tune sounds like it is straight out of 1985 with the band sounding just like they did on their first few records. The production like I said before really helps this album sound vintage but the bands performance is just as amazing as it was beforehand as they don’t let up to the very second. Definitely one of the best closing tracks I have heard all year!

Overall, this album gets a very well deserved 9 out of 10. With Hexx added to the growing scene of underground acts being revived, they have managed to be one of the best in having the ability to create a record that is not only continuing a very faithful old school sound but also showing a lot of creative writing and progression within a lot of the songs presented here. However, there are some more simple moments that are just as fun if not more sometimes. This is an album you positively don’t want to miss out on this year.

 

Album Review: Jack Starr’s Burning Starr- Stand Your Ground

 

“Stand Your Ground” is the seventh studio album from Power Metal group Jack Starr’s Burning Starr and is to be released August 25th, 2017 via High Roller Records. If I am being honest I am sorta new to the band as up to this point I had heard only four albums from them. However, from what i have heard this band is a powerhouse and a must if you are a fan of Power Metal in general. Jack Starr himself has a reputation also being in Virgin Steele prior to forming Burning Starr in the mid 80’s and is a hugely underrated guitarist as well. So here we are with a release six years after their last album, does it stack up against their solid discography or does it fall flat?

Track Rundown

1.Secrets We Hide- Opening with some great solid drum rolls by Kenny “Rhino” Earl, this song hits hard right out of the gate with a solid upbeat power metal riff and one of my all time vocalists today Todd Michael Hall really belting it out. His voice is just as strong as some of the greats in Heavy Metal history. The chorus is a big stand out and is definitely made for a live crowd with how catchy it is. The solo works very well being equally heavy and melodic showing off Starrs capabilities and that he really still has a solid lead tone. Overall, this is a grad A power metal opener for the album.

2.The Enemy-The beginning of this song almost sounds like an old school slayer riff but goes into a straight melodic galloping rampage. This is one of my favorites on the album really for the sheer power it packs and I feel that has something partially to do with how well the production is on the album. It feels very live and natural with a lot of bass mixed with the drums it just sounds so organic. The chorus is full of so much melody it soars and is very infectious. Another total barn burner of a song that packs a lot of punch.

3.Stand Your Ground- Damn this is quite an epic song being over ten minutes long. It definitely never lets up with a lot of cool melodic riffs that adds a lot of character to the song. The chorus goes for more of a melodic fist pumping mid tempo that i cant help but sing to even three listens through. The solo is probably my favorite on the album with Starr going all out for this song. Overall, this is definitely one of the best on the album with band showing a bit of a progressive side that definitely feels very original.

4.Hero-The main riff for this song is very interesting. It definitely has a progressive metal feel to it until the verses start with a traditional galloping to it. The song definitely has character and works very well for what its going for. As for the chorus, this song has one of the best on the album it just screams classic to me. This is another great song that deserves multiple spins.

5.Destiny- I almost get a more modern feeling when this song began and almost a bit of a hard rock edge as well. This song sticks to a more mid tempo and up beat chord progression and it works and is one of those songs you just play as loud as you can. This is another track that would work very well live. The hooks are just all over this song. One of the most melodic and infectious songs on the album.

6.The Sky Is Falling-This is another very epic tune that sticks to a similar tempo as the last but has a bit more chugging guitar in it. The bridge to the chorus feels a bit disjointed here or lacking a bit of power but once it gets to the actually chorus it works very well. The solo or the song is actually very well done as well. Compared to the last five songs this one falls a bit flat in parts but overall it isn’t an overly badly written track.

7.Worlds Apart- This song is definitely more ballad like than any of the last but those leads are great and have a lot of feeling in them. I really like this song because it gives off a great melodic and soft yet heavy atmosphere. The guitar soloing is definitely the biggest highlight overall for how much feeling they have any deserve a lot of repeat listens and show how well of a player Jack Starr is.

8.Escape From The Night-This track has a great build at the beginning and goes into a more maiden-esque kind of gallop but still retains a more power metal feel with Hall’s vocals still holding up well and fresh this far into the album. I really enjoy the epic chorus here as well. This is definitely one of the best mid tempo songs on the album.

9.We Are One- This is another softer song on the album which shows more variety throughout the record….well it opens that way. This song caught me off guard as it goes into of this almost Gothic sounding power metal kind of song with some almost ominous riffing that takes repeat listens to really get a grip on. I wasn’t sure why but it helped me understand the chord progression more. This is definitely one of the most unique songs on the album just for the interesting sound it has with almost these subtle little note changes that catch you off guard at least on the first listen. It definitely isn’t bad though as it still packs a lot of power and melody throughout.

10.Stronger Than Steel- This song goes for more of that traditional faster power metal feel and is my favorite track on the album overall. the pacing is solid and the chorus is definitely the highlight on the album. It is just pure old school fist pumping heavy metal. Another reason it is one of my favorites on the album is that it includes a very interesting guest vocalist(sorta). Rhett Forresters old demo vocals are included on the track which is one of the coolest inclusions on any record ive ever seen. Rhett Forrester was always my favorite vocalist for Riot and to hear a tribute to him here is amazing and just makes the song even more worth it. Even if it is very rough and is included at the very end its very cool.

11.False Gods- This is one of the heaviest tunes on the album with a lot chugging guitars through the verses leading into a monumental chorus. This song is very well done especially this far into the album, it doesn’t feel forced or generic. A very solid headbanging track.

12.To The Ends- The final song on the album and it ends in true power metal fashion with a very infectious mid tempo riff and soaring song a long vocals. This is a very solid closer that I would hope the band plays live because this song is another that is meant for crowd participation. It does sort of go by the books but the band really put their heart into it with Starr adding some nice melodic guitar solo’s in to make it feel more original. Overall a pretty solid closer to the album.

Overall, I give the album a solid 8 out of 10. While the middle of the album does fall a bit slow, the original that the band put into writing these songs cannot be denied. They definitely put their all into the playing on this album. Every member sounds like they are really giving it their all and have created a very modern power metal album that will satisfy the old school and new school crowds alike. I definitely recommend this album as it will definitely make my top 10 for the year and once i get my hands on the vinyl edition, it’l definitely be on the turntable quite a bit.

Jag Panzer announces new album to be released in september

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One June 10th, legendary Heavy Metal act Jag Panzer announced online that their next album entitled “The Deviant Chord” will be released on September 29th, 2017. The album will be distributed through SPV worldwide as well. This is the first album from the band since their last entitled “Scourge Of The Night” released in 2011. Personally I think this is a great time for the band to reappear on the scene. With a lot of the more obscure bands on the spectrum releasing material, this hopefully give them a chance to spark up some good ideas once again. Are you excited to see Jag Panzer return?

Album Review: Shokker-III

Shokker

“III” is the debut album by Chicago traditional Heavy Metal group Shokker and was released on May 9th, 2017. Now Shokker have been on a list of newer Chicago bands such as Spillage, Scars Of Armageddon and others that are definitely have chops when it comes to their original sound retrospectively. Finally Shokker have released their full length and it’s time to delve into hopefully a great start for these Chicago mainstays.

Track Rundown

1.III-Opening with some really raw sounding chugging guitars into a more old school Heavy Metal beat with some more hard rock feeling , this tune has a really cool groove with Rachl Quinn’s vocals punching through super hard. She is definitely a powerhouse of a vocalist and it shows with this tune. Overall, this is a good opener with a good groove to it all around.

2.Hammerhead- This song has a very Y&T feel to it and is definitely one that I imagine works very well live. This tune also sports one of my favorite choruses on the album as well it really hits you hard and has a good hook to it. Casey Tremont really lets loose on his solo on this song and is a very solid guitarist, I just wish his solo’s were a tad higher in the mix. One of the heaviest tunes on the album.

3.Snake Eyes- This is another good tune in the vein of that early 80’s american metal vibe. It has a good simple straight forward beat to it that almost has a Dio-esque feel to it. The evil sounding background vocals are definitely a nice touch and the chorus is pretty strong as well and retains a more hard rock feel to it. A very straight forward but very fun song.

4.Life & Despair-The vocals on this song are some of my favorite on the album as they really seem very up front and with the infectious and simple hard driving riff it makes for a good song with a timeless sound. The chorus is one of my favorites as well with the shouting backup vocals. However, I do wish they were a bit higher in the mix so they could pop more. Overall, it is a good oldschool heavy metal tune done faithfully.

5.Adrenaline-This tune is probably the fastest on the album and is definitely my favorite for the power it packs. From the very strong vocal deliveries to the very on point guitar soloing, this is a tune that I would show everyone when being introduced to this band. This is definitely a prime example of a song that is made to be played live.

6.Blessed Be-This tune opens with some very shimmery flanged guitars and even though it is a more somber opening than the last few songs, it still has a catch to it that sets it apart from being a ballad. It soon enough kicks into a more Priest-esque riff and is done quite well. Shokker I think would have faired well in the 80’s with the very big hooks that their songs I could just see them turning up on MTV in 82-83. The chorus for this tune is possibly the strongest on the album for me and really hits hard. Overall, this is another song that has a solid structure to it that doesn’t feel monotonous especially this far into the album.

7.Turn Around And Run-That fucking scream that opens this song always gets me going even on my eighth listen, it still catches me by surprise. The song is yet another offering of that Heavy Metal/Hard Rock feel and at this point in the album I’d like to see these guys get to the size of Halestorm or bands like that because I honestly think they pack as much power for that size of an audience, possibly even better. Especially with how solid of an album this is seven songs in, this band is definitely one of the most solid I’ve heard from the Chicago area in recent times.

8.Midnight Sun-This tune has a major Thin Lizzy “Thunder and Lightning” era feel to it from the Sykes feeling riff to the very melodic backup vocals in the chorus that are a very nice touch as well. This is one of those songs that you play over and over just to hear the chorus again and again the band just hits the nail on the head really well with this one.

9.Hello-This song is definitely the most ballad-like track on the album and has a lot more of a melodic tone to it than any other song and is definitely the highlight of the the album vocally as Quinn really gives it all she has. It isn’t a bad tune at all as it does break up the pace a bit and the more raw production does tend to help this song as the guitars seem to pop a bit more during the clean parts. Overall, not a bad tune but it is kind of short for my liking

10.Justified-This is a decent closer as it is one of the more straightforward tunes on the album but does feel a bit lacking as every time I hear it, it just kind of ends. I feel like a bit more time would have made this song just be an epic raging closer. It does end on a weaker note compared to the quality of songs earlier on the album.

Overall, I give the album a good 7.5 out of 10. Shokker definitely managed to create a raw good heavy metal record with some hard rock ideas mix about and it shows in the songs. While the production can be a bit muddy and the band are definitely not reinventing the wheel, the charisma in how these songs are performed on record are more than enough to show that this band has good things to come. Hopefully this record gets around enough for them to branch out further and get people interested. Definitely if you are into that Y&T/Krokus sound or early American metal kind of sound, Pick this one up for sure it is a good time.

E.P Review: Rock Goddess- It’s More Than Rock N Roll

rock_goddess_imtrar

“It’s More Than Rock N Roll” is the brand new E.P by classic Heavy Metal trio Rock Goddess and was released May 19th, 2017. This marks a long comeback for the band since it is their first time releasing new music since their 1987 album “Young and Free”. So after all this time, is the e.p worth the wait? Or do we see a band unfortunately fall flat on the pavement all these years later?

 

Track Rundown

1.It’s More Than Rock N Roll-Opening with some heavy slow drumming with a suspended guitar riff with Jody Turners heavy hitting vocals which are my favorite thing about this ep and the band in general. The vocal work has always been quite strong. Unfortunately this song seems stale to me. It just lacks a lot of creativity mainly in the verses it just lacks a lot of power. The production feels really flat too with he drums sounding too hmm up front I suppose? They sound too shimmery to me. Overall the song has a good chorus and fun solo, but unfortunately it drags too much and lacks a lot of power that you hear on those early records.

2.Back Off- this song has more of a simplistic NWOBHM feel to it mainly in the riffing and I feel the production works a bit more in this songs favor. I do feel the bass could be a bit higher in the mix but this is definitely an improvement over the first song. It isn’t anything mind blowing, but its an alright tune.

3.We’re All Metal- Now this song has those lyrics that I am always a sucker for, no matter how cheesy they are. Those “Metal lives forever” kind of lyrics are always great but the song unfortunately suffers from the same shortcomings as the title track. Although I like where the band were heading with this song, I feel it again lacks a bit of power which mainly is because of the production. It’s another track that is okay but feels somewhat uninspired.

Overall, I give this e.p a 2.5 out of 5. Rock Goddess’s return to the metal world is one that leaves a bit to be desired. The songs although not terrible, lack a lot of staying power and are hindered by a production that seems way too shimmery sounding on the drums and just doesn’t sound as organic as they could. I still hope that the band puts out a full length again at some point but for right now, I feel this e.p is mainly if you are looking to complete a collection or something to put on once in a great while.

Album Review: Stallion- From The Dead

STALLION-From-the-Dead-LP-BLACK

“From The Dead” is the second full length album from Traditional Heavy Metal group Stallion and is to be released June 30th, 2017. Stallion have been slowly on the rise since their mini album “Mounting The World” released in 2013. Since then, they played Keep It True, released their first full length entitled “Rise and Ride” and are gearing up fpr their most ambitious release yet. Personally I have not been extremely familiar with the band but I know from a lot of others that they definitely are a band to check out. So does this band pass with flying colors or do they get mixed with the hundreds of other Traditional Metal bands out today?

 

Track Rundown

 

1.Underground Society- The opening track on the album and wow, this is honestly one of the openers I have heard all year. The band absolutely rips into this number in absolute classic speed metal fashion with a very echoed production akin to how alot of bands sounded back in the day, and it is done faithfully here. It really captures the raw sound of the band. The vocals are something I have always loved from Stallion as they really have a grit to them but have that classic 80’s traditional metal style which I really like. Overall this opener packs that classic speed metal such as bands like Exciter and done in a faithful and strong way.

2.Down And Out- This song packs more of a mid tempo to it with a really infectious riff and vocals that you can’t help but sing to. It really is a catchy and heavy tune that has become one of my favorites on the album. This is a tune that shows Stallion are bound to get bigger and bigger. The middle of the solo goes more into a frantic tempo showing the capabilities of the band and just how tight they play as well.

3.Hold The Line- This sounds exactly like a tune that Priest never released around 83-84. This is 1005 pure fist pumping heavy metal that could have put Stallion on the top back in the day. These guys would have been huge in the 80’s especially with the power they pack in their songs and their abilities to create big powerful hooks. Overall, this is a simple fun heavy metal tune executed brilliantly.

4.Waiting For A Sign-This tune has a very Dokken “Dream Warriors” feel to it I mean can’t you see this tune in the credits to a Night On Elm Street movie? I can especially with the keyboards that really are an awesome touch, they add more power to the song and are used sparingly during the chorus to give it a bigger sound. This tune even though it has a more 80’s ballad feel packs a lot of power and is one I could listen to over and over. However, around the three minute mark it speeds up into a full speed metal assault. It really catches you off guard but adds a lot more substance to an already fine written song but it just adds an extra layer which I really dig. It does flow back into the more mid paced section of the song and works quite well.

5.From The Dead-I love the acoustic guitar opening to this track it just has a very shimmery and emotional feel to it. The song goes immediately into a break neck speed pace with some cool starts and stops and a lot of different riffs but the  main riff against the verses is just so lethal. The chorus on this track is also one of the best on the album as well. This song has more of a classic thrash feel to it in some areas as well especially in the bridge to the chorus. Easily one of the most epic tracks on the album, definitely worth repeat listens.

6.Kill Fascists-Stallion pulled an SOD here, with a very short song with a tasty riff…all that needs to be said

7.Lord Of The Trenches- The band are yet again on fire with this one and once again proves how these guys would have been huge during the golden age of 1980’s heavy metal with powerful soaring vocals all over the place that could easily get a crowd to sing along to them. In fact Pauly’s vocals honestly are some of the strongest I have heard in years and really push the band over the top.

8.Blackbox-This song has a very NWOBHM sounding riff to it and with the tempo as well. The bridge almost has a frantic hard rock pace to it as well. Overall, this is another strong heavy hitter that is definitely worth multiple listens!

9.Step Aside-This track keeps the album flowing along with the classic speed metal formula in hand however this is definitely one of the fastest tunes on the album with a very Jaguar (i.e speed for speeds sake) feel to it and I really like it, the band just goes as hard as they can here. Another favorite of mine(hell I cant diss one song on this album honestly).

10.Awake The Night-Opening with a more bruding heavy riff going more into a classic mid to fast tempo traditional heavy metal riff, this song possibly is where the band puts most of their progressive tendencies on the album. Their are some more interesting riffs on this tune like in the chorus and some cool melodic moments all throughout as well with the drums doing a lot of different tempo’s. I also like the Manowar ish mid section with the guitars slowing down and the low epic vocals, it just screams epic metal. I also really like how in one section the guitar goes faster and faster with some palm muted strumming like a clock before going into one of the wildest solo’s on the album. This is one hell of a closer on definitely one of the most quality heavy metal albums I have heard all year.

 

Overall, From The Dead gets a strong, very strong 9 out 10. Like I mentioned how Night Demon got their sound absolutely as close to the vintage NWOBHM sound, Stallion did that with the classic 80’s speed metal sound but adding small influences here and there to make this record entirely faithful and shows a band that is really hungry and definitely knows how to handle the sound they have created. Stallion definitely are one of the top bands on my list especially from this year and are one that proves the future of metal is in the right hands.