I initially started this music blog in 2007 as an off-shoot of The Metal Misfit, which was my main blog at the time, and had kind of a retro pop culture/junk food theme. Over the years, I’ve often felt like I was being pulled in two different directions when it came to blogging: “Should I review the latest album release or should I talk about imported gummy candy?” Life is full of tough choices.
What was once my main blog has become quite inactive as I haven’t posted there since November 2015 out of sheer laziness. Funny thing is, the blog continues to easily score more views than Metal Excess does. So, I’ve decided it’s time to consolidate and have one blog and one blog only and all future reviews will be posted on The Metal Misfit.
I don’t care if I post a Def Leppard concert review and then it’s followed by a post about discontinued cereals from the 1980s. Let my blog be totally random. Variety is the spice of life! So please direct your attention to metalmisfit.wordpress.com where I’ll continue to review albums and try to increase my post count in regards to weird old stuff!
2016, Frontiers Records
1. Distant Prayer
2. Livin’ Out Loud
3. Wash Away
4. Who Did You Run To
5. Fallin’ for You
6. Never Say Goodbye
7. Path of Love
8. Had Enough
9. Don’t Have to Fight No More
10. Silent Wonder
11. What You Take
Chas West – Vocals
Craig Goldy – Guitar
Sean McNabb – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums
Producer: Alessandro Del Vecchio
Resurrection Kings is another super-group project put together under the direction of melodic rock label Frontiers Records. The project built its foundation around a demo from guitarist Craig Goldy and vocalist Chas West. I’m not that familiar with West, but he’s been around the scene for awhile having sung in Jason Bonham’s band in the mid ’90s and a brief stint in Lynch Mob a few years ago. Obviously, Craig Goldy is known for his work in Dio (and Giuffria). Brought in to round out this group were Goldy’s former Dio bandmate Vinny Appice and bassist Sean McNabb (who has made his way around a number of classic hard rock bands like Quiet Riot, Dokken, Great White, and House of Lords).
This album is completely done in the style of ’80s melodic hard rock. I’ve seen some comparisons to Dio’s Dream Evil record, but what really springs to mind is Whitesnake at their commercial peak. In fact, Chas West at times sounds similar to David Coverdale and a number of songs on this album could easily have found a place on Whitesnake’s self-titled release from 1987 or Slip of the Tongue. “Livin’ Out Loud” definitely sounds like late ’80s Whitesnake just as “Never Say Goodbye” has a strong Whitesnake vibe as well.
This is a solid album of the type of slick commercial hard rock you would’ve heard in the 1980s and there is nothing wrong with that. Given the Dio connection, you’d think this album would be a bit gloomier and heavier but it focuses on a much more polished and melodic sound.
Highlights: “Livin’ Out Loud”, “Wash Away”, “Who Did You Run To”, “Fallin’ For You”, “Never Say Goodbye”, “Had Enough”
Judas Priest – Battle Cry
2016, Epic Records
1. (Intro) Battle Cry
3. Metal Gods
4. Devil’s Child
5. Victim Of Changes
6. Halls Of Valhalla
7. Redeemer Of Souls
8. Beyond The Realms Of Death
10. Breaking The Law
11. Hell Bent For Leather
12. The Hellion
13. Electric Eye
14. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming
Rob Halford – Vocals
Glenn Tipton – Guitar
Richie Faulkner – Guitar
Ian Hill – Bass
Scott Travis – Drums
Producer: Tom Allom
Well, it’s been seven years since the last one, so I suppose Judas Priest was due for another live album release. If nothing else, it’s as good of a time as any to show off Richie Faulkner, even if isn’t Richie Faulkner’s first live release with the band. He was previously featured on 2013’s Epitaph, which was only released on DVD & Blu-ray.
And just as this is Richie’s first live album with Judas Priest, that also means it’s the first live album to not feature founding guitarist K.K. Downing. As a fan, yeah, it sucks that Downing isn’t a part of the group anymore but, in my honest opinion, his exit did not hamper the band at all. I think Faulkner joining has energized the band on stage and in the studio. It’s hard to say that K.K. Downing is missed when the band is sounding so well without him.
Most of the tracks are taken from the band’s appearance at the Wacken Open Air Festival in August 2005. If you happen to pick up the video, the three bonus tracks included (“The Rage”, “Screaming for Vengeance” & “Desert Plains”) are taken from a December 2015 show in Poland.
We all know live shows are doctored up, but Rob sounds really good here. There’s a few tracks where he really lets loose. I think he sounds exceptional on “Beyond the Realms of Death” and “Painkiller”. And, yes, the setlist is a pretty good one. Thankfully the band doesn’t tour with the same tired “greatest hits” setlist that so many bands do these days. I love that Judas Priest switches things up for every year. Obviously they have to deliver a few songs like “You Got a Another Thing Coming”, “Breaking the Law” and “Electric Eye” but it’s great to hear “Devil’s Child”, “Painkiller”, “Jawbreaker” and the inclusion of three songs from Redeemer of Souls. Battle Cry is a worthy live release entry into Priest’s catalog.
Oh, and as is the trend these days, there is a DVD or Blu-ray that accompanies the CD. You can buy the CD/video bundle or buy either format separately. I’ve noticed that it seems like a lot of bands/labels push the DVD or Blu-ray itself more than they do the album or the bundle. Sometimes bands don’t even mention the album on their own official websites or social media pages.
Masters of Metal: Strikeforce, Volume 1
(1989, Warner Special Products/JCI)
1. Mötley Crüe – Looks That Kill
2. Triumph – Follow Your Heart
3. Ace Frehley – Into the Night
4. Megadeth – Mechanix
5. Accept – London Leatherboys
6. Dio – Rainbow in the Dark
7. Helix – Rock You
8. Faster Pussycat – Don’t Change That Song
9. Beastie Boys – Fight for Your Right (To Party)
10. Great White – Lady Red Light
There’s a number of generically titled “Masters of Metal” compilations out there and this is yet another one. I guess the full title is “Masters of Metal: Strikeforce, Volume 1” but I’ve seen this album listed as “Strikeforce, Volume 1” and “Strikeforce, Volume 1: Masters of Metal” on various discography sites. I’m not sure where the Strikeforce part comes in at all. I guess they didn’t want to be confused with K-Tel’s Masters of Metal compilations. It was reissued in 1997 as “Rock the Planet: Strikeforce, Volume 1”.
Released by Warner Special Products in conjunction with a company called JCI (both labels mostly released compilations), this looks like one of those cheap compilations you might see thrown in a bin at gas station or grocery store back in the day. That says nothing about the quality of this album though. This is a great collection of ’80s metal and I’m a sucker for these types of albums when I can find them for a cheap price out in the wild.
Though it was released on CD, I paid $2 for the cassette version at a flea market recently and have already given the album a spin. Too bad I don’t have a cassette player in my car because this is nothing but first-rate headbanging metal!
The Last Vegas – Eat Me
2016, AFM Records
2. Here We Go Again
3. Universe & You
4. Hot Fudge
5. Along For the Ride
6. Voodoo Woman
7. Love’s Got Nothing On Me
8. Hard to Get Over You (You’re So)
9. To Be Treated
10. Anything It Takes
11. From Hell
Chad Cherry – Vocals
Adam Arling – Guitar
Johnny Wator – Guitar
Bryan Wilkinson – Guitar
Danny Smash – Bass
Nathan Arling – Drums
Producer: The Last Vegas
Don’t be fooled by the Steel Panther-style album cover/title, Eat Me is the best effort from The Last Vegas yet. These Chicago rockers have been grinding on the road and in the studio for over ten years with a throwback sleazy hard rock style. The band describes this new effort as “pop trash” but there’s no real change in the band’s style. If anything, they sound a bit more old school rock (that tends to happen when you bring in a Moog and talk-boxes).
I do believe the band has matured as songwriters though. This album was apparently written and recorded in a very short amount of time, about 3 weeks, nothing feels rushed. The band continues to grow as songwriters. While I was a fan of Whatever Gets You Off, the next couple of albums didn’t grab me. Eat Me is different. Stylistically, not much has changed other than I just think the songs are stronger and catchier this time around.
The only song that somewhat sticks out as different is the final track, “From Hell”, which seems to almost take an industrial twist on sleaze rock. I like it, though. The band delivers some solid ballads here as well (“Universe & You”, “Love’s Got Nothing On Me”). What absolutely takes the cake for me is “Hot Fudge”. Just a fun dirty, sleazy rocker and the band is obviously having fun on that track.
Fans of Motley Crue, Buckcherry, Tesla, and Guns N’ Roses owe it to themselves to check this album out.
Highlights: “Bloodthirsty”, “Universe & You”, “Hot Fudge”, “Along For the Ride”, “Love’s Got Nothing On Me”, “From Hell”
Striker – Stand In the Fire
2016, Record Breaking Records
1. Phoenix Lights
2. Out for Blood
3. Too Late
4. Stand in the Fire
5. The Iron Never Lies
6. Escape from Shred City
8. Locked In
10. Better Times
11. One Life
Dan Cleary – Vocals
Timothy Brown – Guitars
Wild Bill – Bass
Trent “The Quantum Villain” Halliwell – Guitar
Adam Brown – Drums
Striker is an old school-styled power metal/heavy metal outfit based out of Canada. I’ve been meaning to check out for awhile. It just so happens that Stand In the Fire was recently released so I figured I might as well start with the latest & greatest.
I remember reading about the band and I remember the album art on Eyes In the Night when it was a new release but I don’t believe I ever listened to them until recently. Like many fan of classic metal, I quickly latched onto the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal bands that started picking up steam a few years ago. However, while I enjoyed the style of music, I started to think that many of the bands were pretty generic and forgettable. So I pulled back from following that scene. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve slowly started to give it another go.
What’s great about Stand In the Fire (other than the cover art which is now the wallpaper on my PC), is that they don’t forget about melody or sing along choruses. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t pop-metal, but Striker knows how to write complete songs. “Too Late” and “The Iron Never Lies” are both heavy yet catchy and feature a big choruses that will stick in your head. The instrumental (and awesomely-named) “Escape from Shred City” sounds exactly like you think it would given its name.
This album is memorable and anthemic heavy metal platter that will leave you and wanting more and Striker must be doing something right — they got to open for Metallica in their hometown of Edmonton, Ontario! Definitely going to be check out the band’s previous albums now.
Highlights: “Too Late”, “The Iron Never Lies”, “Escape from Shred City”, “Outlaw”, “One Life”
Steel Panther – Live from Lexxi’s Mom’s Garage
2016, Open E Music
1. Show Intro/Say Yeah!
2. Party Like Tomorrow Is the End of the World
3. Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)
4. If You Really, Really Love Me
6. Bukkake Tears
7. The Burden of Being Wonderful
8. Weenie Ride
9. That’s When You Came In
10. Michael Don’t Know
11. Community Property
12. Grindy and Sexy
13. Death to All But Metal
Ralph “Michael Starr” Saenz – Lead Vocals
Russ “Satchel” Parrish – Guitar
Travis “Lexxi Foxx” Haley – Bass
Darren “Stix Zadinia” Leader – Drums
With Steel Panther originally gaining buzz on the L.A. club scene as a hair metal cover band, it’s only natural to see them release a live album (a live DVD filmed in England had previously been released). The only question is: What took them so long?
It’s not surprising that the band would stick only to original songs but I found it interesting that the band chose to make this a stripped down acoustic/electric performance in a small setting with a female-only crowd. But then I guess that’s the joke, isn’t it? Lame brain sexist hair metal pigs posing as romantics. Like the old Monster Ballads commercial used to say, “every bad boy has a soft side” (or at least he pretends he does in order to get laid). I mean, what girl won’t soak her panties when listening to the acoustic versions of “Fat Girl” or “Community Property”?
There’s a few irrelevant short tracks that feature the band bantering, but what you’re left with is ten excellent tracks that show this band is just as awesome acoustically as they are in “plugged in” setting. Ralph Saenz has to be one of the best hair metal singers ever and Russ Parrish is incredibly underrated as a guitarist, IMO.
The band debuts one new track, “That’s When You Came In”. A very heartfelt ballad that I hope makes it to the new studio album.
For anyone that doesn’t like Steel Panther’s shtick, Live at Lexxi’s Mom’s Garage isn’t going to change their mind. As someone who is already a fan, I’m digging these stripped down tracks.
And, yes, that’s Bobbi Brown posing as Lexxi’s mom on the album cover.
Highlights: “Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World”, “Bukkake Tears”, “The Burden of Being Wonderful”, “Community Property”, “Death to All But Metal”
Last In Line – Heavy Crown
2016, Frontiers Records
1. Devil In Me
4. Burn This House Down
5. I Am Revolution
6. Blame It On Me
7. In Flames
8. Already Dead
9. Curse the Day
10. Orange Glow
11. Heavy Crown
12. The Sickness
Andrew Freeman – Vocals
Vivian Campbell – Guitar
Jimmy Bain – Bass
Vinny Appice – Drums
Producer: Jeff Pilson
If you bought this album expecting to hear music similar to the first three Dio albums, prepare your to be disappointed. Despite using their Dio connection for marketing purposes, Heavy Crown doesn’t attempt to make another Holy Diver, The Last In Line, or Sacred Heart. Instead, a lot of the music on Heavy Crown is quite modern sounding. While the group initially joined together to celebrate the music they created with Ronnie James Dio back in the 1980’s, the new material does not find itself dwelling in nostalgia or going for a “retro” feel.
These songs were not written for someone like a Ronnie James Dio to sing. Andrew Freeman sounds nothing like Ronnie. His voice is much more suited to a modern hard rock sound and that’s a lot of what Heavy Crown brings to the table — a more contemporary hard rock sound. There are a few old school moments with songs like “Devil In Me” and “Starmaker” almost seems a Dio-style sound brought into modern times. Other songs like “The Sickness” and “Curse the Day” could easily be heard on radio today. Some of this stuff songs like Alter Bridge or Shinedown.
Heavy Crown is a solid album but I think where it becomes a slight disappointment is in regards to the Dio connection. I mean, the band originally formed to play Dio songs and named themselves after a Dio album they all played. Then they release original material using that same band name, with an album cover that looks like something the Dio band might’ve had but the music inside really doesn’t sound like Dio at all. I think that’s a bit of an unfair game for the band to play with fans and it probably sells the band short a bit as well. No one is getting what they are asking for.
Also, there’s the lack of keyboards. Original Dio keyboardist Claude Schnell was originally part of the band, but was ejected when it came time to write and record new songs because Vivian felt keyboards weren’t needed. Great guy, that Vivian.
Taken on its own terms, Heavy Crown is a solid hard rock album with some definite leanings to the old school. It’s worth checking out for sure and perhaps it will grow on me more as I continue to listen to it. It seems I like it more with each spin I give it.
Sadly, this is last album to ever feature legendary Rainbow/Dio bassist Jimmy Bain, as he passed away shortly after the album’s released. If there’s a tour or second album, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jeff Pilson to step in since he not only produced this album but he was also a bassist in the Dio band for a few years.
Highlights: “Devil In Me”, “Blame It On Me”, “Curse the Day”, “Orange Glow”
Jani Lane – Catch A Falling Star
2016, Cleopatra Records/Deadline Music
1. I Want You to Want Me
4. The Ocean
5. Doctor Doctor
6. Electric Eye
7. Free For All
8. No Surprise
9. Lay Your Hands On Me
Catch A Falling Star is a collection of cover songs that the late Jani Lane had sung on for various Cleopatra/Deadline compilations over the years. It’s not a collection of unreleased songs or B-songs or anything like that. In fact, this set was previously released as Photograph back in 2007, except this time a cover of “Electric Eye” by Judas Priest has been added.
Cleopatra Records has made its name bring all kinds of ’80s rockers together to cover songs by other ’80s rockers. Jani Lane was one of the Cleopatra’s go-to guys for these types of projects. Generally, the talent that Cleopatra could assemble to perform on one song was pretty impressive. Unfortunately, I’ve always felt the quality wasn’t ever really up to par.
Still, I like Jani’s voice and I love all of the bands covered here (Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, etc.), so it’s nice to hear Lane’s take on these classics.
Nothing essential though, obviously.
Highlights: “Panama”, “Doctor Doctor”, “Electric Eye”
Axel Rudi Pell – Game of Sins
1. Lenta Fortuna (Intro)
3. Sons In The Night
4. Game Of Sins
5. Falling Star
6. Lost In Love
7. The King Of Fools
8. Till The World Says Goodbye
9. Breaking The Rules
10. Forever Free
Axel Rudi Pell – Guitar
Johnny Gioeli – Vocals
Volker Krawczak – Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
Ferdy Doernberg – Keyboards
I’ve never been a follower of German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell. I knew he was a known name in the world of heavy metal but I didn’t know anything about his work as a solo artist or in Steeler (the German band, not the American group that featured Ron Keel & Yngwie Malmsteen). I figured with Game of Sins, I might as well finally give Pell a shot. One thing’s for sure, I absolutely love the cover art for this album.
The first thing I noticed was Johnny Gioeli’s voice. There’s a nice slightly rough quality to it and I knew it sounded familiar… because he’s the singer from Hardline. The music itself is high quality melodic hard rock with great production that is reminiscent of House of Lords. Of course, you can ‘t speak in broadstrokes and ignore Axel Rudi Pell’s individual contributions. Great riffing and fiery solos.
And when all of that is combined with Gioeli’s melodic hard rock-ready voice, Game of Sins is an amazing effort and an early 2016 highlight that I wasn’t expecting. Definitely will have to check Pell’s earlier stuff now.
Highlights: “Sons in the Night”, “Game of Sins”,”Falling Star”, “Lost In Love”, “Forever Free”