Album Review- Ross The Boss: By Blood Sworn

 

Image result for ross the boss by blood sworn

Ross Friedman is a guitarist who needs no introduction. Being a member of the highly influential Power Metal group Manowar through their golden era in the 80’s and eventually his own solo career, Ross The Boss always dominated a high macho guitar sound that most others would kill for. After touring relentlessly with a solid backing band performing some of the best Manowar songs, Ross comes back in 2018 with another solo album featuring a lot of original material to dig into as well as a couple bonus Manowar covers.

Opening with the title track, the band go right for the epic mid paced sound of Manowars classic days. It is quite refreshing to hear as it has a good catch to it. The production definitely reminds me on this album overall of the first Manowar release. It has that Power Metal feel definitely but the sound is a lot more raw and unfortunately in some aspects the guitars feel a bit buried at points. However, besides a few nit picks most of the songs presented here are catchy, true gritty classic Heavy Metal! The next song “Among The Bones” has one of the most infectious main riffs to any song I have heard this year so far. The chorus comes in very strong as well it is definitely one of the highlights among many others. “This Is Vengeance” is the obvious epic speed metal piece presented and is just as glorious as ever. This track really showcases the raw power of Marc Lopes vocal style from his high screams to his low almost extreme growls from time to time. Even the bonus Manowar tracks he handles perfectly just as he does live with them. Even a track like “We Are The Night” he is able to perfectly balance melody and intensity throughout. But overall, the album presents a lot of fantastic riffs that don’t feel stale. The softer and more acoustic/piano driven “Faith Of The Fallen” is a nice change of pace as well and is definitely a song that I feel would work terrifically live. Another favorite is the almost Ted Nugent-like “Devils Pay” that is a really simplistic catchy rocking tune. The more simplistic songs are the best I feel because they really show off the chemistry of the band and the solid groove they have. Most of the later tracks such as “Lilith”, “Play Among The Godz” and the really upbeat “Circle Of Damnation” which is just a pure dirty hard rock song, all have something different to offer and in a fresh yet familiar way.

This album is really one that gives and keeps on giving, showing the Boss has not lost his step at all. If you are an old school Manowar fan, you will not be disappointing with this album. From the dirty Hard Rocking tunes to the epic Power Metal moments, this album will surely satisfy any classic Heavy Metal fan or anyone who is a fan of Ross The Boss. Now hopefully he brings some of these songs on tour soon enough.

9/10

 

Heavy Load have released a teaser of new song “Walhalla Warriors”

 

After Heavy Load announced their return to the music scene, many wondered if they would ever produce new music. Well the wait is over as the band have released a demo of the first half of the track “Walhalla Warriors” off of an upcoming album due in 2019. It definitely has a good heavy mid pace and feels like the production for the demo anyway is similar to their albums way back when. However, it is just nice to see such a cult band come back to life. Check out the new song above!

Cirith Ungol retrospective part 2: King Of The Dead

After the release of their debut album, Cirith Ungol sort of fell by the wayside. The band took two years slowly crafting their second album mainly because of it being self produced by the band and unfortunately their first didn’t make so much of a bang. However, by 1984 the landscape was changing with American Metal becoming more popular, but not in the way everyone had initially thought. Glam metal was on the rise and Thrash was becoming the hottest underground sensation. However, the band still forged on and released “King Of The Dead”. The album is definitely a lot different compared to “Frost”, but is it better?

Well, spoilers, it is a hell of a lot more of an exciting album.

 

Track Rundown

1.Atom Smasher- Opening with a very bouncy and heavy mid paced riff, this song definitely shows that the band has evolved. From Bakers hard shrieking that really drew me in the first time I had heard the song to the band production-wise sounding much better and focused than the first album. The drumming especially is very hard and heavy hitting with a very doom metal vibe to them. The chorus really catches you and has a very mid paced power metal feel as well. We also see Jerry Fogle taking over full guitar duties on this album as well and his soloing is very distinct with a crisp distortion that is a staple of his guitar tone. Overall, this is a fantastic opener simple as that.

2.Black Machine-This song has become a fan favorite as it really is a live kind of song. It is quite a simple song but the main riff which plays through the whole song is very infectious. It has a doom vibe as it trudges along but with the epic vocal style, it retains a very unique heavy dingy power metal feeling that is reverberated throughout the whole album and something I was able to pick up on on my first listen as it really is pronounced in the songwriting. Another great mid paced simple yet effective song.

3.Master of the Pit-This song retains some of that 70’s progressive edge mainly throughout the soloing aspects of the first album. Their is definitely a lot going on in this track which rides mainly on the rhythm and groove of the bass and drumming. It really picks up towards the end making this perhaps one of the most intense song Cirith Ungol had recorded up to this point.

4.King of the Dead- Much like “Master of the Pit”, there is a slow build to this song before it gets to the more brooding verses and short but epic chorus lines. The beginning reminds me a bit of Black Sabbaths “War Pigs” (perhaps where the doom-esque influence comes from) but with a bit more going on within it. The title track has perhaps become one of the bands most recognizable songs for the simple but almost mid tempo power metal feel blended with brooding doom metal riffing. I also have to note that this is one of Bakers best vocal performances on any of their albums just from how he can sustain notes with so much grit and grain in his voice not being lost. Simply put, if you ever have to listen to one Cirith Ungol song, this is very high on the list.

5.Death of the Sun-This song takes a more simple hard rocking route with some frantic riffing that is a bit reminiscent of the first album as well, however it feels like a much more focused song. I do like how around the mid mark, the main riff takes on a weird time signature with solo’s plastered all over. It really shows the musicianship the band really holds on the album. Straight forward underground heavy metal at some its best and creative.

6.Finger of Scorn-The acoustic guitars are a nice change of pace but when the main guitars kick in I feel they are set way too far back into the mix but they do get up front again for the main bulk of the song which im sure was the intention but it just feels a bit awkward in execution. The song still carries the notion of “epic metal” very high with a more melodic hard beating chorus that is one of my favorites on the album.

7.Toccata in Dm-A cover of the classical piece by Sebastian Bach done through guitar and bass which is not a bad cover. It still conveys a sense of dreading emotion to it and is played with precision. Not much to say about it but an interesting inclusion.

8.Cirith Ungol- This song is definitely one of the most “out there” ones on the album with a lot of very unique riffs thrown into the mix and very odd time signatures tossed around. The verses are even a bit strange but work. While it isn’t my favorite on the album, it is a good ending showcasing the band really putting a lot of creativity in their music.

 

Overall, the album solidifies itself with an 8.5 out of 10. Looking between the first two albums, it is easy to see why “King of the Dead” production and musicianship-wise is such an improvement. The songwriting has become much more focused into creating a steady sound that the band has since been identified with. From becoming a strange proto metal/prog hard rock band to a more straightforward progressive epic doom act, Cirith Ungol really shaped their sound with this album. While the production isn’t quite perfect and is still kind of spotty in some areas, it doesn’t quite hinder the experience the album gives. The band would stick to this harder sound with their next album entitled “One Foot In Hell” two years later.

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.

Vescera release new video “In The Night”

 

 

Well here is something pretty cool for you melodic metal fans! Heavy Metal group Vescera led by acclaimed singer Michael Vescera have released a new video for their song “In The Night” off their barnburning new album “Beyond The Fight” released April 7th with the vinyl edition coming soon this month. I definitely think they chose a good song off the album for this video as it shows the whole bands versatility and the interesting sound they managed to create with a lot of melodic edge but very big hooks that alot of US power metal bands utilize. The album is definitely one to check out but don’t take it from me, listen below and see what you think! I would love to see these guys come to Chicago some day and definitely think their debut is a strong record to tour on over here.

 

Order the album here!

http://www.puresteel-shop.com/VESCERA-Beyond-The-Fight_1

Album Review: Walpyrgus- Walpyrgus Nights

“Walpyrgus Nights” is the debut album from American Heavy Metal band Walpyrgus and was released June 6th, 2017. This album was definitely on my most anticipated list this year because ever since I heard the first Walpyrgus e.p. I was hooked with how these guys didn’t just have that traditional metal staple to them, but just how they also had this almost horror punk aspect to them it almost seemed like especially in the vocal work. They are definitely one of the most melodic bands out there and after seeing them crush Legions of Metal, I was so excited to finally get my hands on this album. So is it work the hype?

 

Track Rundown

1.The Dead Of Night-Opening with some heavy melodic guitar lines and those soaring melodic vocals that are a trade mark of the band. The song has a relatively simple melody and chord progression but it is done in a very tight way and I also have to admire the production with how clicky and up front the bass is but still lets the guitars shine. The melody of this song is extremely strong and works very well as an opener it really gets you singing along. The keyboards are also a nice addition giving the song some added atmosphere.

2.Somewhere Under Summerwind- The overall progression of this song has a very Michael Graves era Misfits style to it yet played in a more metal style. It is a very easy melodic song to sing to with a very strong solo with a lot of feeling to it as well. Definitely one of the strongest songs on the album.

3.Dead Girls- This song has the punk feeling right up front with the standard punk chord progression going on but it works with the melodic guitar lines that are as infectious as a lot of Iron Maiden guitar lines are. The lyrics are straight up Misfits meets King Diamond and it works very well and gives the album this feeling that makes me want it to be October. Avery simple but very infectious metal tune with an awesome organ solo that comes out of nowhere.

4.Lauralone-Opening with the toll of a bell against hanging guitars going into a bouncy metal riff, this song has more melody like the last songs but has almost a progressive feel to the riff with it bouncing up and down but changing up a lot. The chorus is quite infectious as well and I think at this point this album has that going as the biggest thing for it. The band know how to make a song get stuck in your head. The guitar solo on this song is also my favorite on the album as it is very intricate and fast when the song take a more mid tempo feel.

5.Palmystry-Thus song opens similarly like Iron Maidens “Running Free” but with a lot more melody to the guitars going into a more simplistic approach in the main progression of the song. It has a very similar feel to “Dead Girls” but the more chugging chorus saves it from sounding like a repeat of another song. The quick slower parts are nice but at first listen, they feel a bit disjointed like they just happen but you soon forget about that as you hear it more and more.

6.She Lives- The opening riff has a very Mercyful Fate feel to it with with this being one of the more slow songs (at first) on the album but still having that mid point between heavy and melodic. The chorus feels like it should be a slight faster tempo as well possibly because the song ends up at a more galloping tempo but kind of abruptly ends.

7.Light Of A Torch-The opening on this song i think drags a bit but damn the riff it leads into pays off. This is overall probably my favorite on the album as the band really homes in on their craft and creates a very high energy melodic classic metal song with an enormous chorus as well. Overall this is an amazing tune that has its melodic edge but still has this dark tone about it.

8.Walpyrgus Nights- I love the synths on this song and how they just engulf your speakers as they give just a great even heavier atmosphere to the song. Thus us essentially the bands magnum opus on their debut. This is definitely one that is  meant for a live crowd as it has so many parts that beg for an audience to sing along to. As the song stay in the slower tempo, it really works as an atmospheric closer to the album akin to bands like Night Demon and the like. However, at the end it really picks up with some intense catchy vocal work and soloing. It really ends the record on a high note.

 

Overall, I give the album a solid 7.5 out if 10. I am overall happy with how Walpyrgus’ debut has come out. It has the dark atmosphere with the more horror punk mixed with mercyful fate type song writing but with the band really making it their own. From going from more simplistic riffs to more intricate twin guitars, the album is very solid with giving the listener what they came for. Besides a couple of parts that felt a bit disjointed, this was a good debut from a band that I would definitely recommend!