Riot – Immortal Soul (2011, SPV/Steamhammer Records)
1. Riot … 5:03
2. Still Your Man … 4:16
3. Crawling … 5:52
4. Wings Are for Angels … 5:09
5. Fall Before Me … 4:55
6. Sins of the Father … 3:55
7. Majestica … 0:57
8. Immortal Soul … 4:46
9. Insanity … 4:40
10. Whiskey Man … 4:15
11. Believe … 4:17
12. Echoes … 4:57
Tony Moore – Vocals
Mark Reale – Guitar
Mike Flyntz – Guitar
Don Van Stavern – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Producer: Bruno Ravel & Riot
Riot has returned to deliver pure American heavy metal to the masses!
Immortal Soul features the reunited Thundersteel/The Privilege of Power line-up (with additional guitarist Mike Flyntz) that featured the gifted Tony Moore vocals. I’ve always said Riot has never released a bad album. They’re taken a few twists & turns when it comes to the style of rock/metal they would play, but it’s always been quality stuff. I really didn’t have any doubts about the quality of Immortal Soul and became even more enthusiastic for it when the excellent “Wings Are for Angels” was released for streaming earlier this year. That’s one of my favorite songs of 2011!
This album is a great trip back in time. The production is fantastic but the songs are written like this is the direct follow-up to Thundersteel. Anyone who was a fan of that album and Privilege of Power will NOT be disappointed with Immortal Soul. Yeah, this is American POWER metal at its finest. Mark Reale is still firing off some nice solos and coming up with great riffs, Bobby Jarzombek is a monster on the drums as always and Tony Moore is still killin’ it on vocals.
Riot is one of the great American heavy metal bands. It’s a shame they never got the widespread recognition they deserved in the 36 years of their existence. Mark Reale is one of metal’s best guitarists even now. Though the world at large may be unaware, for those of us in the know, we know that Riot’s place in the pantheon of heavy metal is secure.
This is an album not to be missed by Riot fans or anyone into a more tradition heavy metal sound from bands such as Judas Priest. This whole album is classic Riot full of the thrashers, speed, power and melodic metal that many fans fondly remember from the previous Tony Moore era.
Highlights: “Riot”, “Still Your Man”, “Crawling”, “Wings Are for Angels”, “Fall Before Me”, “Sins of the Father”, “Immortal Soul”, “Believe”
Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming (2011, Frontiers Records)
1. “Kicking & Screaming”
2. “My Own Worst Enemy”
4. “Dance On Your Grave”
5. “Caught In A Dream”
6. “As Long As I Got The Music”
7. “I’m Alive”
8. “Dirty Power”
9. “Live The Life”
10. “Dream Forever”
11. “One Good Reason”
12. “Lost In The Light”
Sebastian Bach – Vocals
Nick Sterling – Guitar, Bass, Backing Vocals
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
John 5 – Guitar (“Tunnelvision”)
Producer: Bob Marlette
Personally speaking, Kicking & Screaming has been one of the most anticipated albums of 2011. Angel Down was one of my favorite releases from 2007 and it has turned out to be one of those albums that I will still check out every once and awhile. Fans of that album will enjoy Kicking & Screaming as well. This album has a good mix of heavy metal and melodic hard rock. Though it is not as heavy as the last album it does indeed rock hard.
What I’ve always respected about Sebastian is that he doesn’t want to live in the past or get by based on what’s already been done. Whenever he puts out new music, he isn’t trying to make you think it’s 1989. While most of these songs have more melody than any new stuff you’re bound to hear on the radio, they would not sound out of place at all on radio because there’s no retro vibe going on here. It’s all modern melodic rock/metal and “Caught In A Dream” displays that perfectly and should be a hit on radio.
Anyway, as with Bach’s last effort it seems the more I listen to this album the more I like it. When I first listened to it there were some immediate standouts like “Kicking & Screaming” (fantastic), “As Long As I Got The Music” and “I’m Alive” (a great ballad right up there with Angel Down‘s “By Your Side” and “Falling Into You”). The second time around, I started to get into “Live The Life” and “Wishin'”. On my third listen I was picking up on “Tunnelvision”, “Dream Forever” and “My Own Worst Enemy”. Basically, it’s gotten to the point where I like every song. By the way, if I were to make a ‘best songs’ list for the year, “Kicking & Screaming” would definitely be on it. Great track.
Another trend is Sebastian continues to surround himself with some top notch musicians. Bobby Jarzombek is back again on drums and is just a monster. Underrated drummer, in my opinion. As for Nick Sterling? For some time Bach has been bragging a lot about his new guitarist and guess what? He’s right! Nick does a great job and even plays bass on the album. And let’s not forget about Baz himself — always a great vocalist, a standout in his field and this album is no exception. Bach comes from that rare breed of singers whose vocal abilities just do not wear down over time. Phenomenal.
So. The verdict? Kicking & Screaming is full of heavy melodic songs and zero filler. It’s one of the year’s best offerings and an album I can imagine I’ll be playing for some time to come.
Highlights: “Kicking & Screaming”, “My Own Worst Enemy”, “Tunnelvision”, “Caught In A Dream”, “As Long As I Got The Music”, “I’m Alive”, “Live The Life”, “Dream Forever”, “Wishin'”
Halford – Made of Metal (2010, Metal God Records)
1. “Undisputed” … 5:17
2. “Fire and Ice” … 2:52
3. “Made of Metal” … 4:01
4. “Speed of Sound” … 4:32
5. “Like There’s No Tomorrow” … 4:20
6. “Till the Day I Die” … 3:50
7. “We Own the Night” … 3:54
8. “Heartless” … 3:38
9. “Hell Razor” … 3:44
10. “Thunder and Lightning” … 5:28
11. “Twenty Five Years” … 7:01
12. “Matador” … 5:39
13. “I Know We Stand a Chance” … 3:51
14. “The Mower” … 4:40
Rob Halford – Vocals
Roy Z – Guitar
Mike Chlasciak – Guitar
Mike Davis – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Producer: Roy Z
Ah, this is more like it! The Halford band was one of the best bands to come out of the last decade but a reunited Judas Priest put the group on hold for a long time (even though that didn’t stop Rob from remastering and reissuing the band’s three albums previous ad nauseum). A comeback was made last year in the form of the odd, yet enjoyable Winter Songs but now Halford is back with an album that sounds much more like Resurrection than Crucible and that’s okay by me. Crucible was a bit too angry and heavy to me and lacked hooks. Resurrection on the other hand was one of the my favorite albums from the last decade and Made of Metal (sometimes referred to as Halford IV: Made of Metal) is easily one of the top albums of 2010 in the very least.
I was really looking forward to this album but the album’s first single “The Mower” didn’t thrill me (though I didn’t hate it). Luckily, “Made of Metal” was put online, accompanied by a very cheesy NASCAR-inspired CGI video, and gave me much more optimism for this album. By the way, what’s up with the NASCAR stuff? Even in press releases for the album they would mention the unofficial NASCAR connection with the “Made of Metal” video. There’s no licensing deal that I’m aware of but it seems like like maybe Rob was fishing for one.
As I said earlier, the album isn’t as heavy as Crucible, much of it sounds like the commercial metal that you might’ve heard from Priest during the mid-’80s. “Speed Of Sound” and “We Own The Night” have an obvious commercial flair, “Undisputed” is a lyrically cheesy but still very catchy anthem and “Hell Razor” sounds like late ’70s/early ’80s Judas Priest. On the flip side, “The Mower” is an absolutely brutal metal number in which Halford’s vocals get downright nasty.
Then there’s “Till The Die I Day” which is a surprisingly bluesy outlaw of a rocker that reminds me of something Whitesnake would do and “Thunder and Lightning” has a bit of boogie I didn’t expect from Halford either while “Matador” appropriately has a south of the border feel to it. I really like the variety on this album. The album is similar in sound to Priest, Fight and previous Halford efforts while a song like “I Know We Stand A Chance” brings to mind H.I.M. and other similar sounding goth rock bands.
I knew this album had potential to be good but I also thought it could’ve been a train wreck. Luckily Rob and Roy Z have turned in one of the best albums of the year and Rob’s voice shows no signs of slowing down. A lot of reviews have bashed the lyrics but who cares? It’s good MUSIC! Great album.
Highlights: “Fire And Ice”, “Made Of Metal”, “Like There’s No Tomorrow”, “Till The Day I Die”, “We Own The Night”, “Twenty Five Years”, “I Know We Stand A Chance”