Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: Spiritual Beggars, "Return to Zero"

I remember being a little taken aback the first time I heard Michael Amott’s side project Spiritual Beggars. Being familiar with his work in Carcass and Arch Enemy, what I heard was not at all what I expected, but being a classic hard rock fan, I enjoyed it.

The band’s latest effort, Return to Zero, doesn’t change the formula a whole lot. Perhaps it dials back the psychedelic and puts a little more hard rock edge out front, but it won’t be a foreign sound to fans of previous records. There’s a heavy 1970s rock vibe on this record and a strong Deep Purple influence.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: Firewind, "Days of Defiance"

Firewind has long been one of the steadiest, most reliable acts in the power metal genre. Despite guitarist Gus G.’s newfound stardom as Ozzy Osbourne’s latest guitarist, nothing has changed on the band’s latest record Days of Defiance.

The record comes blazing out of the gates with “Ark of Lies,” a tune that has everything fans have come to expect from Firewind. It’s a fast-paced, melodic and memorable. If anything, Gus’ guitar work here is leaner, meaner and more focused, as on the traditional opening riff of “Chariot,” the chunky riffing under the keys on “Killing in the Name of Love” or the almost thrashing opening of “The Yearning.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: Kamelot, "Poetry for the Poisoned"

I’ve always liked Kamelot, and over the years, I’ve enjoyed just about everything they’ve done. But I’ve never been a hardcore fan. So maybe it’s a little strange that a record which is somewhat experimental for them has quickly become my favorite offering in their catalog.

The elements that have always made up Kamelot’s music are still there – strong melodies, operatic and dramatic flair, and, of course, Roy Khan’s powerful and hypnotic vocals. But there’s certainly a more progressive direction here. That’s always been a part of their sound, but it gets pushed a little more to the forefront on some of the tracks. There’s some flirtation with electronic sounds and a harsher vocal here and there, and the usual bombast, though still present, is dialed back in places.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: White Wizzard, "Shooting Star"

So it’s been about six months since White Wizzard’s full-length debut, Over the Top, blew me away. It’s a record that will most certainly be near, if not at, the top of my year-end list. But much has changed for the band in those few months. They’ve lost a guitarist and singer Wyatt Anderson, who turned in a such a fantastic performance on that record. This single serves as both a tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio and the introduction of new singer Peter Ellis.