Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Pharaoh, "Ten Years"

As fans await the follow-up to 2008’s Be Gone, Pharaoh offers them a little teaser with this six-song EP featuring two new tracks, two rare tracks and a couple of covers. It’s not the four-course meal we may have wanted, but it’s a nice little appetizer.

The new tracks are the title track, “Ten Years,” and “When We Fly.” Of the two, I prefer the title track, which is more of a straightforward traditional metal song with a chugging power riff from Matt Johnsen and some great, aggressive vocals from Tim Aymar. “When We Fly” is a great track in its own right, though, leaning more toward the power metal side of the band’s spectrum. It’s a bit more complex than “Ten Years,” with Aymar soaring a little more and an occasional heavier break showcasing Johnsen and drummer Chris Black. Hell, on second thought, I’m not sure I prefer either of the new tracks over the other. They’re both awesome.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: Sebastian Bach, "Kicking and Screaming"

If there’s one act from that morass of hairy hard-rock bands from the late 1980s that I’d love to hear some new music from, it’s Skid Row.

Often you hear people try to separate bands from the “hair band” stigma by saying they got a bad rap. With Skid Row, that might be at least partially true. After being discovered by Jon Bon Jovi, the band released its self-titled debut in 1989. Though it was a great commercial success, producing their two biggest hits in the ballads “I Remember You” and “18 and Life,” it wasn’t entirely what the band was about. We found that out in 1991, when they released the follow-up Slave to the Grind, a much heavier and nastier record than their debut. The songs ranged from the down-and-dirty hard rock of the lead single “Monkey Business” to the near-thrash of the title track to darker and much more interesting ballads “Quicksand Jesus” and “In a Darkened Room.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Still Spinning: Anthrax, "We've Come for You All"

As I await the release of Anthrax’s Worship Music, the band’s reunion with 1980s singer Joey Belladonna, I’ll try to drown out the soap-opera drama with changing lineups and re-records surrounding it by cranking up their last record — and one of their best — 2003’s We’ve Come for You All.

Don’t get me wrong. I grew up on the 1980s version of Anthrax with Belladonna, and I still love it. But when he exited, and they tapped Armored Saint singer John Bush, the band became something different, and while I know a lot of fans will disagree with me, something better, in my opinion. The Belladonna era of the band was perfect for my teenage years. It was fast, brash and a little cartoonish and goofy. The band with Bush, though, was Anthrax for my adulthood. It was a little slower, a little heavier and a lot more thoughtful. Plus, Bush is just an all-around better singer to my ears. There’s more soul and a greater range of emotion in his voice, and if I’m being honest, I actually preferred Bush’s version of a lot of the Belladonna songs.

Freebies: Download Iced Earth's re-recorded "Dante's Inferno"

In anticipation of Iced Earth's upcoming album "Dystopia," the first with Into Eternity vocalist Stu Block, the band is giving away downloads of a re-recorded version of the epic "Dante's Inferno," from their "Burnt Offerings" album. The new recording, which will feature Block's vocals, allows the band to replace the click track, which was erased from the original, enabling them to play the song live again.

To get the new version, go to Iced Earth's official site.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Review: Sepultura, "Kairos"

I’ve had the same problem with the last few Sepultura records. They all struck me as pretty good albums straight out of the box, but after a few weeks I put them away, and most of them haven’t gotten any play since that initial listening period.

This is the second record with guitarist Andreas Kisser now, more or less, fully in control of the band’s sound, but if you’re expecting the future direction of the band to be established here, you shouldn’t. Instead, Kairos leads us on a trip back through time to various eras of the band from the chugging thrash of the Arise/Chaos A.D. era to the hardcore influence of the first couple of Derrick Green outings, to the more concepty stuff they’ve done with their last albums. Perhaps it’s an intentional move, given that the theme of this record is something about the passage of time, but you’ll find a song or two that represents almost all of the band’s various incarnations.