Release Date: January 29, 2016
For all of the basic, Just looking to cash in on their names super groups that come along, every now and then there’s one that’s actually very good. Such is the case with Resurrection Kings. Resurrection Kings consists of Chas West (Red Dragon Cartel, Tango Down) on Vocals, Craig Goldy (Dio, Giuffria, Roughcut, Dio Disciples) on Guitar, Sean McNabb (Dokken, Great White) on bass, and Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell) on drums. Honestly, with a line up like that how could you possibly go wrong! Resurrection Kings came together while Vinny and Craig were playing sporadic shows as part of another super group Black Knights Rising. They enjoyed what they were doing and found Chas and Sean to round out the lineup and from there didn’t waste any time in writing and recording their first album. So in the same spirit, they had let’s check this out.
We start off with a solid rocker entitled “Distant Prayer”. This track had an energetic feel and drive to it and definitely sets the bar for the rest of the album. It is a great way to start the album. Nest is one of the standout tracks “Livin out Loud”. This is an off-kilter rock and roll gem that has an amazing feel and canter. Chas’s vocals are strong throughout and the rhythm section is as tight as can be. Phenomenal track. “Wash Away” is a great example of how to add tempo and intensity changes successfully. It has an energetic intro and then backs down into a slower softer verse. Then it builds back up into a full throttle chorus before hitting overdrive for the solo. This is another amazing track that only seasoned professionals could write and thankfully they did.
Next we have “Who do you Run To” Which is a mid-paced off-kilter rocker. This track is reminiscent of Dokken but with more gusto. Very well written and it is just a solid track all the way through. This is some great guitar work by Craig Goldy. I haven’t heard him sound this good in years. “Never Say Goodbye” has a nice piano and guitar intro which turns into an exceptional ballad. Craig Goldy’s guitar work on this is perfect. He accentuates the song with some tasty little fills and doesn’t overpower it at all. “Silent Wonder” has some very tight interplay between the instruments while maintaining one hell of a groove. Chas’s vocals are strong throughout this album and he sounds phenomenal on this track.
All in all, this is an example of how musicians from different groups can come together and make something that’s worth listening to and not just a bunch of noise and ego’s flowing through the speakers. You can tell they all had mutual respect for each other and worked together to create something memorable and to let each individual member shine without stepping on top of anyone. This was very well done Resurrection Kings. Thank You for the lesson on how a super group is supposed to be and for a pleasurable listening experience.
Reviewed by Dave 1340
Rhapsody of Fire
Into The Legend
Release Date: February 5th, 2016
The absolute masters of cinematic, theatrical power metal return with yet another magnum opus, this one entitled Into The Legend. One would be hard pressed to find a more fitting title, as not only are these guys legendary in the genre of symphonic metal but their lyrics are always deep, fantasy based tales of magic and might. If you are familiar with Rhapsody of Fire (or Rhapsody, as they were called prior to changing their name in 2003 for legal reasons) then you know what you’re getting into here. Rhapsody of Fire create epic, oftentimes operatic metal which appeals to a certain demographic, which is most certainly not your average, casual listener. Rhapsody of Fire is to metal music is what ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ is to ‘Monopoly’. There’s a whole lot more going on, and that just will not appeal to most. But if you’re of the D&D mindset, then grab on tight because you just found your next session’s soundtrack!
Beginning with “In Principio” a two minute operatic intro, which includes a chorus singing in what I assume to be Italian (the musician’s native tongue, though they’ve also been known to use Latin in their vocals) the album creates a growing sense of majesty and anticipation. Then come’s “Distant Sky” which is pure, classic Rhapsody of Fire. The instrumentation that these guys bring to bear is just amazing, and the instantly recognizable vocals of Fabio Lione is totally on point. What *really* gets this party started however is the next, and title, track Into The Legend. Take everything you love about this band, the operatic vocals, the fast paced shredding guitars and frenetic drumming, the sublime melody, and jack that up to 11. If this tune does not get you pumped then my friend you just might need a coroner as you could very well be deceased. “Winter’s Rain” mixes things up a bit by slowing down the tempo, upping the angst and including some bagpipes (which admittedly could be synth). I don’t know these things, just like I don’t know the difference between Latin and Italian when sung by an opera singer. All I know is it sounds friggan awesome. And that is a good a way as any to describe Into The Legend: Awesome in the literal sense: “extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration.” Valley of Shadows is another noteworthy track, amongst an entire album of them. It includes Lione’s trademark soaring vocals, an opera chorus, a phenomenal female operatic singer and some entirely unexpected death style backing vocals! Holy crap! Can this album get any more epic?!? Well, it turns out it can! The album closer is a full on monumental slab of majestic grandeur clocking in at 16:45. That’s a heapin’ pile of metal right there.
Fabio Lione (lead vocals) Roby De Micheli (guitar), Alessandro Sala (bass), Alex Staropoli (keyboards), and Alex Holzwarth (drums) are musicians of the highest caliber. Combine that with superb production, creative and passionate songwriting and an attention to detail that would make an FBI detective envious, and you’ve got something truly special.
I must admit that in recent years I’ve found Rhapsody of Fire to have become somewhat stagnant and boring. But Into The Legend brings it all back to what drew me to these guys to begin with. It’s a step back and a major step forward to solidifying their status as true metal legends.
Reviewed by: Farron 1340
Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: February 5, 2016
Italian technical Death Metal stalwarts, Fleshgod Apocalypse, return with King. This is the follow up to 2013’s utterly astounding Labyrinth, and it does not disappoint. The album opens slowly with the two minute symphonic march of “Marche Royale” before slamming into the epic “Into Aeternum.” Just after the symphonic elements reach a fever pitch, the guitars begin to play a very cool, and very fast, back and forth with the symphonic parts. It makes for a tremendously dynamic song where the brutality blends brilliantly with the choir and symphony. The brutality is front and center so when the clean vocal comes in midway through it transcends into this grandiose, soaring, so much more than Extreme Metal song. It’s absolutely brilliant! “Mitra” and “A Million Deaths” don’t quite reach the same fever pitch, but they are both excellent tunes in the same vein as “Into Aeternum” as well and will surely satisfy longtime fans.
“Cold As Perfection” is another one of the album’s many highlights. It’s slower grind and haunting choir remind me of a mix between Khold and King Diamond. The feel of “Syphilis” also reminds me of King Diamond’s darkest moments. From the narration to the growling vocal to the operatic vocal, the song becomes haunting as hell without losing the heavy elements that so often get lost in the mix when bands do this. The instrumental piano track, “King,” takes “Syphilis” out on a more intimate note and closes the album out in surprising fashion. There is no question that these songs were born to be played on theatrical stages.
This could have easily been a mediocre record after the exhausting creativity that I’m sure it took to make Labyrinth. The fact that this is better than Labyrinth is a testament to the fact that Fleshgod Apocalypse are one of the genre’s most important bands. King is the first great Extreme Metal release of 2016 and you’d be wise to check it out.
Reviewed by mark1340
The Doom In Us All: A Tribute to Black Sabbath
Release date: January 20, 2016
No matter how you feel about Black Sabbath, the band has become musical and cultural icons. Since the release of their eponymous debut in 1970 their music has attracted devoted fans and equally enthusiastic detractors. The chugging, distorted guitar riffs and dark lyrics that are the formula for a Black Sabbath song set the tone for all heavy metal to come. It’s hard to find a corner of the rock world that hasn’t been touched by the work of these forefathers of all things heavy. While several Black Sabbath tributes have been released over the years, none have really captured the essence of what Sabbath offered. Ted Kirkpatrick, known as drummer and mastermind of Tourniquet has rectified this oversight with the release of The Doom In Us All: A Tribute to Black Sabbath.
I can hear it now. “Tourniquet is a Christian band, and Black Sabbath promoted Satanism!” OK, calm down, Freddy Fundamentalist. Black Sabbath never openly promoted Satanism, nor did any of its members. While their lyrics were dark, they often condemned the darkness of which they spoke. In some ways the band’s themes of environmental responsibility and ending war bridged the gap between the hippie rock of the 60s and the rise of heavy metal in the 70s. Surely these themes are universal, even if one doesn’t prefer the way they are presented. In that light, there should be no reason a Christian artist can’t record a set of Black Sabbath songs. The track list, hand selected by Kirkpatrick, contains songs that are fairly inoffensive, save the pervading sense of menace and doom that comes from those early Black Sabbath albums.
The list of musicians who contributed to The Doom In Us All is rather impressive. Ted Kirkpatrick himself performs drums and guitars on each track, aided by Dug Pinnick of King’s X on bass. Add to this vocalists like Chris Jericho (Fozzy), Corey Glover (Living Colour), Trevor McNevan (Thousand Foot Krutch), Eric Wagner (Trouble), and Tim Ripper Owens (Judas Priest) and you know what you’re about to hear is top quality. Lead guitar is provided by Scotti Hill (Skid Row), Bruce Franklin (Trouble), and Karl Sanders (Nile). The pairings put together for each song provide for strong performances, and careful production ensures a consistent listening experience. Rather than the disjointed sound of a tribute that spans multiple bands and genres, The Doom In Us All easily flows from song to song without the jarring changes that often come with a tribute album.
On to the performances themselves, Kirkpatrick took care to ensure that each track is faithful to the source material. “War Pigs” opens the album with all the fuzz and despair of Black Sabbath, but the updated production gives it a new shine. Chris Jericho’s vocals are a grittier take on Ozzy Osborne’s own vox. Scotti Hill’s guitar work is spot on. This trend continues throughout the six songs presented. Corey Glover provides an outstanding vocal on “Into The Void.” Karl Sander’s lead guitar tone on “Children of the Grave” is sharp and piercing, as fits a song with such a threatening tone. Kirkpatrick, who has played guitar on many of Tourniquet’s releases provides all of the guitar work for “Into The Void,” “Embryo,” and “Electric Funeral.” There isn’t a single song in this collection that can’t boast a stellar performance by all involved.
The Doom In Us All: A Tribute to Black Sabbath is the only Black Sabbath tribute created the way such albums should be: carefully, through the eyes of a devoted fan. Ted Kirkpatrick shows great respect for Black Sabbath by not reinterpreting these songs, but by meticulously crafting faithful versions, recruiting some of the best musicians in heavy metal to join him, and ensuring clear, high quality production. With Black Sabbath retiring after their current tour, Kirkpatrick has sent them on their way, not with a set of hastily thrown together covers, but a true tribute to a band which has left a lasting mark on him, and on the world of heavy music overall. There is a bit of doom in us all, and Black Sabbath forged that into worldwide acclaim. Finally, there is a tribute album worthy of their legacy.
Reviewed by Jim 1340
The Anthropocene Extinction
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: August 7, 2015
I first heard Cattle Decapitation when ThreeOneG released Homovore. Like many others, my initial interest was because members of The Locust were involved. Over the years and through seven albums, though, the band have developed their own unique breed of Death Metal that continues to keep my attention as fully as their first release did. The Anthropocene Extinction is ample proof that Cattle Decapitation are at the top of their game.While the band have always experimented with things to make their sound more dynamic, this album really brings all of that experimentation together into one pummeling album.
“Plagueborne” is the perfect example of everything coming together in a new way. Clocking in at nearly five minutes, the songs kicks off with a slow, heavy lick and the guttural vocal the band turned heads with back in the day. The band quickly shift gears to Grindcore though, with the vocals tightly switching between the hardcore, Pro-Pain style, bark and the guttural growl. By the end of the song though, the band have incorporated a higher vocal that brings a way more sinister element to the mix. This is by far my favorite track on this album as it brings everything I love about this band into one heavy as hell song.
Another highlight here is the insanely chaotic sound of “Not Suitable For Life.” It also blends together a lot of elements, but it’s the bass and drums that really keep it all moving. I swear that by the end of this song my legs ache from listening. The song just punishes the listener from the grind to the groove. “Manufactured Extinct” is another jaw-dropping moment with a slow, sludgy build that ends up switching off with the grind elements that the band staked their name on. The almost Black Metal “Mammals in Babylon” is another dynamic moment that incorporates clean singing in addition to all the Black, Grind, and Death elements.
Overall, I can’t believe that this one passed me by last year. Somehow I missed it though and when I realized it, the kind folks at Metal Blade and Earsplit PR hooked me up with a review copy. I’m grateful that they offered because this is Cattle Decapitation at their very best. If you enjoy any of their other releases, or bands like Cryptopsy, Impaled Nazarene, and Napalm Death, then you need to own this. This is one of 2015’s best extreme music releases and it deserves your attention!
Reviewed by mark1340