Monday, June 24, 2024

Review: Dominum, "Hey Living People"


Pitches at Napalm Records must be crazy.

Band: Our gimmick is that we're not musicians, we're actually ...

Napalm: Say no more. Here's a contract.

I joke, but pirates, werewolves, dwarves, gladiators, dinosaurs, and apparently, now zombies.

Dominum is an artsy power metal band with a zombie gimmick and an interesting sound that sets them a bit apart from the pack with flavors of Savatage, Queen and others.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Review: Kiuas, "Samooja: Pyhiinvaellus"


Kiuas was one of my favorite mid-2000s discoveries. They had a sound that was really all their own at the time -- a blend of power, folk, and death metal, with occasional forays into thrashier territory or blackened realms (though there's really none of the more extreme end here). They released four great albums on Spinefarm Records, including two fantastic ones in their debut for the label Spirit of Ukko and their 2008 album The New Dark Age, then after 2010's Lustdriven, they disappeared.

I was surprised a few months back to see an unfamiliar song from them pop up as a recommendation from Spotify, and I immediately clicked on it to find that they had released a new EP, Samooja: Pyhiinvaellus, which translates to Samoa: Pilgrimage. I was thrilled to hear new music from them again.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Review: Blackberry Smoke, "Be Right Here"

I consider Blackberry Smoke’s 2012 album The Whippoorwill to be one of the greatest Southern rock albums of all time, and yet I haven’t listened to it in years. It was a record that arrived in the darkest hour of my life and seemed written for me.

I identified with nearly every song on it, and I’m not being dramatic when I say that it played a huge role in helping me survive the turmoil and return to the land of the living again. And therein lies the problem. While I’ll still occasionally rock out to “Sleeping Dogs” or “Shakin’ Hands with the Holy Ghost,” some of my favorite songs from The Whippoorwill – like “Ain’t Much Left of Me” and the title track – are too tightly tied to that darkness for me to comfortably revisit. They hold emotions and feelings that are better left in the past.

For years now, I’ve wished that Blackberry Smoke could release another album that hit the way that The Whippoorwill did so I could enjoy it in better times. While I’ve liked most of what they’ve done, it’s never quite reached that pinnacle. But Be Right Here may be the record that I’ve been waiting for them to make.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Review: Durbin, "Screaming Steel"


After years of trying to cash in on his "American Idol" fame with more radio-friendly rock fare, James Durbin turned to his passion for 1980s metal on his 2021 album The Beast Awakens. While the style is not likely to land him on top of the charts, it did seem like he was having more fun. He's continued that on the follow-up Screaming Steel, wearing his influences on his sleeves and basically writing another love letter to classic metal.

What's hot?

The record is a treasure trove of Easter eggs and inside references for fans of classic metal. It starts in the title track, where Durbin throws out references to classic bands and songs almost non-stop. Is it campy? Absolutely. Do I care? Not at all. I'm banging my head and shouting them out along with him. The strongest performance on the album, in my opinion, though, is one of the shortest tracks here, the Dio tribute "The Worshipper 1897." I love the whole delivery, and it makes me wish that Dio was still around to maybe do a guest shot on it.