Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: Poisonblack, "Of Rust and Bones"

I could really use a new Sentenced album about now. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening, so I have to settle for the next best thing – singer Ville Laihiala’s Poisonblack.

My relationship with Laihiala’s side project turned main project has been up and down. I wasn’t wild about the debut record with a different vocalist, but the follow-up, Lust Stained Despair, with Laihiala back on the mic, was among my favorite records for 2006. When 2008’s A Dead Heavy Day came around, I couldn’t get into it. Granted, times were better then, so I just might not have been in the mood. Of Rust and Bones, on the other hand, has arrived with perfect timing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: Kiuas, "Lustdriven"

I’ve been telling everyone who will listen about Kiuas since I first discovered them with 2005’s Spirit of Ukko. It was a convincing blend of power, thrash, folk and just a touch of death metal that was a highlight of my listening that year.

They’ve gone through a few phases since then while keeping basically the same sound. Their last outing, 2008’s excellent New Dark Age focused more on the heavier end of their sound. The newest, Lustdriven, trends more toward the power and thrash end of what they do.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Review: Brainstorm, "Memorial Roots"

I’ve been a big fan of Germany’s Brainstorm since I discovered them with 2003’s Soul Temptation, and their last outing Downburst remains a favorite from 2008. When it comes to power metal with traditional leanings, the band is about as consistent as they come.

Their latest effort, Memorial Roots, which came out last year overseas and makes its way to the U.S. this year, doesn’t quite hit me as hard as Downburst did, but it’s still a solid and enjoyable effort.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ronnie James Dio, 1942-2010

There’s no shortage of great things to say about metal legend Ronnie James Dio based purely on his body of work, from his earliest recordings with Elf and Rainbow, to his multiple stints with Black Sabbath and his stellar solo career. Inarguably one of the greatest voices in metal and the guy credited with bringing the “horns” hand gesture into the metal world (his superstitious grandmother used it to ward off the evil eye) Dio made the kind of impact on his genre that few artists achieve.

But in the hours after learning about his death, it isn’t so much his music that I keep thinking about, but a moment in the summer of 2002 when I had the pleasure and privilege of spending about half an hour with him.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Review: John 5, "The Art of Malice"

To be honest, I’ve been over the guitar god shred instrumental album for a long time now, but in recent years, I’ve become more and more impressed with the work of John 5 every time he pops up somewhere. That interest was enough to get me to give his new record “The Art of Malice” a shot.

Granted, there’s a lot of showy shredding here, as on any instrumental guitar record, but by and large the songs here are actual songs, not just a conveyance for John 5 to pack as many notes as possible into. Like any good tune, the songs here follow progressions and have solid hooks, albeit musical ones rather than vocal ones.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Review: Extreme, "Take Us Alive: Boston 2009"

Extreme’s return to the music scene in 2008, “Saudades de Rock,” was a pleasant surprise, packing a 1970s hard rock flavor. They finished up the tour for that record in 2009 in their hometown of Boston and have captured that performance for their new CD/DVD “Take Us Alive.”

The record offers up a nice mix of new and old, even throwing in some tracks from their 1989 eponymous debut, which guitarist Nuno Bettencourt once spurned, and even the all-but-lost 1995 record “Waiting for the Punchline.”