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Crazy Lixx – Crazy Lixx [Review]

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Crazy Lixx – Crazy Lixx
2014, Frontiers Records
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1. Hell Raising Women
2. Sound of the Loud Minority
3. Outlaw
4. Girls of the ’80s
5. I Missed the Mark
6. All Looks, No Hooks
7. Ain’t No Rest in Rock N’ Roll
8. Call to Action
9. Heroes Are Forever
10. Psycho City
11. Wrecking Ball Crew

Band:
Danny Rexon – Lead Vocals
Andy Zata – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Edd Liam – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jens Sjoholm – Bass
Joel Cirera – Drums

Producer: Danny Rexon and Andy Zata

I love this album’s cover art. How awesome would it be to have that on a vinyl sleeve?

This self-titled effort is the Swedish band’s fourth release (third on the Frontiers label) and delivers more of the sleaze ‘n’ glam metal goods. I’ll admit, it took me a few spins before some of the songs really started to click with me but “Girls of the ’80s” was an obvious standout for me from the get-go.

I’ve seen a number of people comment that “Psycho City” reminds them of KISS… Not getting that at all, although I do think the song is one of the best from the album. One song that does remind me of a band is “Ain’t No Rest in Rock N’ Roll”, which has the band sounding a bit like an AC/DC clone.

Other highlights for me are “I Missed the Mark” and “All Looks, No Hooks”. Great melodic hard rock that at times reminds me of Danger Danger, just not as polished.

I heard all three of the band’s Frontiers Records releases. While I don’t think the band has delivered a knockout release just yet, all three have been good. Nothing here matches the intensity and catchiness of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” or “Church of Rock” (both from Riot Avenue) but this may be the band’s most consistent album yet.

 Highlights: “Hell Raising Women”, “Girls of the ’80s”, “I Missed the Mark”, “All Looks, No Hooks”, “Call to Action”, “Psycho City”

Motley Crue – All Bad Things [Single Review]

motleyMotley Crue – All Bad Things [single]
2015, Eleven Seven Music
Buy the song

1. All Bad Things

Band:
Vince Neil – Vocals
Mick Mars – Guitar
Nikki Sixx – Bass
Tommy Lee – Drums

While I’ve never truly believed Motley Crue’s “final” tour is really the final tour (comments from band members have now stated they’ll still occasionally record or do live performances), I was hoping a new tour might bring about some new music. It’s been too long since the band released a follow-up album to Saints of Los Angeles. I think the idea for any future new Motley music is so to either attach the songs to soundtracks, EPs or release them as singles, but it’s been announced that some type of Motley Crue release is in the works that will include the band’s latest single and the one new track they are playing on their farewell tour, “All Bad Things”.

Whatever the project is, it’s being called “the ultimate collector’s album package” (by Motley’s press release). I’m guessing either another greatest hits collection or another box set. I’d rather get a whole new album.

To the music at hand, when snippets of this song first appeared online in the form of a teaser for the tour, I liked what I heard. Live recordings popping up on YouTube weren’t that great so I’ve been impatiently waiting for MONTHS for a proper release of this song.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the new music Motley Crue has made since 2005. It’s the perfect marriage of the Motley Crue sound and modern hard rock. I loved the few new tracks they did for Red, White & CrueSaints of Los Angeles was good and I liked the band’s previous single, “Sex”. If you’re a fan of their newer stuff, you’ll like “All Bad Things”. It sounds like something that could’ve been on SOLA and it’s a step up from “Sex”. I would love to see both of those songs get a proper physical release so I’m hoping whatever album is in the pipeline, both of these songs will appear on it.

It’s Crue, it’s good, check it out.

Lonewolf – Cult of Steel [Review]

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Lonewolf – Cult of Steel
2015, Massacre Records
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1. The Cult of Steel
2. Hordes of the Night
3. Werewolf Rebellion
4. Blood of the Heretic
5. Hell’s Legacy
6. Funeral Pyre
7. Force to Fight
8. Open Fire
9. Mysterium Fidei
10. The Grey Wolves
Bonus Digipak Tracks:
11. Made in Hell
12. Children of the Unlight

Band:
Jens Börner – Vocals, Guitar
Alex Hilbert – Guitar
Rikki Mannhard – Bass
Bubu Brunner – Drums

Producer: Lonewolf

With a history dating back to 1992 and seven albums under their belt, Lonewolf are a French heavy metal outfit that plays in the traditional heavy/power metal style.

What initially grabbed me about this album was the cover art. It’s an excellent piece of work. I don’t think I had ever listened to Lonewolf before this album. There’s a couple of other ‘wolf’ metal bands out there (Powerwolf, Wolf) and I haven’t followed any of them too closely so I wasn’t sure what to expect from Lonewolf. Judging by the band name and album title, I was hoping for a traditional heavy metal/power metal sound and that’s exactly what they deliver, though their sound leans more towards power metal rather than old school heavy metal.

Cult of Steel is a melodic metal affair full of everything you’d expect from the power metal genre: galloping drum beats and speedy riffing and solo work. Jens Börner growly vocals give the band’s sound a bit of an edge. Don’t worry, he’s actually a good singer and a good fit.

My complaint about this album is that many of the songs sound too similar. I had to check iTunes to make sure the song wasn’t set on repeat. Those galloping drums and speedy guitars don’t really change tempo at too much. That’s a shame because when the band decides to play things slightly different, the album gets interesting with songs like “Mysterium Fidei” (well, at least with the song’s intro) and “Funeral Pyre”.

Lonewolf could benefit on the next go around by trying to get each song its own identity and not playing ‘Power Metal 101’-type songs but this is a solid slab of metal and I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled and ears open for what this band comes up with next.

Highlights: “Cult of Steel”, “Funeral Pyre”, “Open Fire”, “Made In Hell”

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators – World on Fire [Review]

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Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators – World on Fire
2014, Dik Hayd Records
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1. “World on Fire”
2. “Shadow Life”
3. “Automatic Overdrive”
4. “Wicked Stone”
5. “30 Years to Life”
6. “Bent to Fly”
7. “Stone Blind”
8. “Too Far Gone”
9. “Beneath the Savage Sun”
10. “Withered Delilah”
11. “Battleground”
12. “Dirty Girl”
13. “Iris of the Storm”
14. “Avalon”
15. “The Dissident”
16. “Safari Inn”
17. “The Unholy”

I came into this album expecting more of the same from Apocalyptic Love. That is, an album that is solid but uneventful and not memorable at all. In fact, with 17 tracks and 77 minutes of music, I’d actually been putting off listening to this album for quite some time. I didn’t want to devote the time to something I was afraid wasn’t going to make a lasting impression anyway. You may ask yourself, “Why even bother listening to it at all then?” Well, because it’s Slash. That’s why.

Okay. So, my thoughts? Well, the album is indeed too long. All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine stated that the band “gives the impression that they continue recording because they simply don’t know when they’re done”. He’s not too far off the mark. I’m a big proponent of albums being 10-12 songs long. Once you’re beyond that, in most cases you’re really just putting down filler and that’s the case here.

Luckily, the thing about an album that’s 17 songs long is there’s has to be a few good ones in there somewhere and there are. The first three tracks are pretty good until the album ventures into the land of Generica, then album comes alive again with “Too Far” and “Beneath the Savage Sun”. Unfortunately, not much rest on the album has made an impression on me.

Personally, I’m still hoping that someday Velvet Revolver reunites or that Slash will go back to working with a different singer on each song just as he did on his self-titled solo debut from 2010 because I found all of that much more interesting and varied than what’s been going on when Myles Kennedy is featured (as great of a singer as he is).

Highlights: “World on Fire”, “Shadow Life”, “Automatic Overdrive”, “Too Far”, “Beneath the Savage Sun”

Wolf – Devil Seed [Review]

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Wolf – Devil Seed
2014, Century Media Records
Buy the album

1. Overture in C Shark
2. Shark Attack
3. Skeleton Woman
4. Surgeons Of Lobotomy
5. My Demon
6. I Am Pain
7. Back From The Grave
8. The Dark Passenger
9. River Everlost
10. Frozen
11. Killing Floor

Band:
Niklas Stålvind – Vocals, Guitar
Simon Johansson – Guitar
Anders G. Modd – Bass
Richard A Holmgren – Drums

The first and last time I listened to a full album from this band was with their 2009 album Ravenous. It was a solid album, but when I listened to a few tracks from their Legions of Bastards follow-up in 2011, I guess I wasn’t in the mood for these Swedish metal-heads because I’m certain I never listened to the whole thing.

With the release of Devil Seed, I decided to give these guys another chance and I’m glad I did. The first track I heard was “Killing Floor”. I think it might’ve been made available as a streaming preview and it perfectly captures the traditional heavy metal vibe. It’s a great way to close the album. As an opener, the instrumental “Shark in C Minor” sets the pace for what’s to come with yet another fantastic wallop of headbanging metal. “Overture in C Shark” smoothly flows into “Shark Attack”, which does not disappoint after the anticipation already built upon from the opening of the album.

I’ve seen some reviews stating this album is mediocre, but I’m digging it a lot. Much more than I thought I would. In fact, I think I like it better than Ravenous (which I can’t even remember) and I seem to recall that one getting high praise.

Wolf are firmly in the camp of the “new wave of traditional heavy metal” (Enforcer, Cauldron, White Wizzard, Skelator, Skull Fist, etc.) but I’m finding them to be among the cream of the crop as I think they have a better grip on melody and are superior at writing metal-tinged ballads and mid-tempo songs.

Highlights: “Overture in C Shark”, “Shark Attack”, “Skeleton Woman”, “My Demon”, “Frozen”, “Killing Floor”

Mike Tramp – Museum [Review]

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Mike Tramp – Museum
2014, Target Records
Buy the album

1. Trust In Yourself
2. New World Coming
3. Down South
4. Better
5. Freedom
6. Commitment
7. And You Were Gone
8. Slave
9. Mother
10. Time For Me To Go

Producer: Soren Andersen & Mike Tramp

Mike Tramp returns with another heartfelt and emotional collection of acoustic rock/pop tracks. Last year’s Cobblestone Street was good but I enjoyed it less than I did 2011’s Stand Your Ground. Luckily, Museum is an improvement over last year’s effort and the music is slightly more upbeat (although the album is still very mellow and slow-tempo songs).

One thing I’ve always loved about Tramp are his lyrics. You can tell they are very personal to him. Whether he’s talking about his mother, his life growing up or making a statement about society, the lyrics are very intimate and you know he means them.

Tramp’s solo material is not something I pull out (or queue up) often, but when I do, I always end up enjoying it. I think you have to be in a more laid-back mood to listen to it. There’s no hard rock to be found here. If you’re expecting something to sound like White Lion, you really aren’t going to get it. The closest he gets to rocking out are the songs “Down South” and “Slave” which are very bluesy and sound like something you might hear from The Black Keys. The music is all acoustic-driven and while I prefer good ol’ riffing on an electric guitar, whenever I sit down and listen to Tramp’s solo material, it’s always an enjoyable experience.

Museum is not in-your-face and bombastic. Mike Tramp albums never are, but this is a good disc to spin if you’re just looking to kick back and relax or possibly get a little introspective.

Highlights: “Trust In Yourself”, “New World Coming”, “Better”, “Time For Me To Go”

Sammy Hagar with Vic Johnson – Lite Roast [Review]

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Sammy Hagar with Vic Johnson – Lite Roast
2014, Mailboat Records
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1. Red Voodoo
2. One Sip
3. Finish What Ya Started
4. Eagles Fly
5. The Love
6. Father Sun
7. Dreams
8. Deeper Kinda Love
9. Who Has the Right?
10. Sailin’
11. Halfway to Memphis

Well, it’s no surprise that Sammy’s latest release comes from Jimmy Buffett’s record label as it seems like Hagar has tried to emulate elements of Jimmy Buffett over the last decade (right down to covering his songs and touring with him). As the album cover and title would suggest, Lite Roast is a laid back and mellow acoustic affair. What’s notable is that Hagar’s longtime guitarist, Vic Johnson from the Waboritas, is featured on the cover and the album is officially credited to them both.

Essentially, this is kind of a compilation of solo/Van Hagar tracks reworked acoustically. “The Love”, from Hagar’s 1999 album Red Voodoo is excellent in this setting. I think I might actually prefer this stripped down version over the original. It’s also nice to see the inclusion of that album’s title track as Red Voodoo holds a special nostalgic place in my heart. Yes, I’m nostalgic about a Sammy Hagar album that was released in 1999.

There’s a couple of tracks that fall flat with me (okay, more than a couple). “One Sip” is from Hagar’s Buffett-inspired Livin’ It Up! album which was co-written with another Buffett emulator Kenny Chesney. That was an album I passed on and “One Sip” proves to me I was right. I doubt the original version is any better. “Sailin'” is also from that album is, frankly, a bland ballad. Van Halen’s “Finish What Ya Started” holds up well, as expected, when given the full acoustic treatment. “Dreams” also sounds good here. MelodicRock.com said this version of “Dreams” is “horrible” but I don’t get that at all. I think it holds up well.

Despite the spotty picks of tracks, one thing I like about this album is the production. It sounds like there’s not a whole lot and I mean that in a good way. It really sounds like Sammy and Vic simply pulled up a couple of stools, started playing and recorded everything live. I’m not sure if that’s what actually happened, but every track sounds like it was done that way in an intimate setting. There’s no attempt to set the atmosphere with a piano or anything. Just a couple of guys with acoustic guitars singing.

I guess it’s no surprise that I found myself most enjoying the songs that I already knew. Much of Hagar’s solo work beyond Red Voodoo has been very uninspired and, dare I say, lazy (although I LOVE “Serious Juju” from Ten 13). Lite Roast is a mixed bag of varying quality coffee grounds. There’s really only four tracks here that I think are enjoyable. The rest is kinda forgettable and boring. A Sammy Hagar acoustic album isn’t a bad idea, it’s just that the song selection is pretty poor. I’d like Hagar to revisit the acoustic setting at some point with the idea of doing a greatest hits package.

Highlight: “Finish What Ya Started”, “Eagles Fly”, “The Love”, “Dreams”

Bloodbound – Stormborn [Review]

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Bloodbound – Stormborn
2014, AFM Records
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1. Bloodtale
2. Satanic Panic
3. Iron Throne
4. Nightmares from the Grave
5. Stormborn
6. We Raise the Dead
7. Made of Steel
8. Blood of My Blood
9. When the Kingdom Will Fall
10. Seven Hells
11. When All Lights Fail

Band:
Patrik Johansson – Vocals
Tomas Olsson – Guitar
Henrik Olsson – Guitar
Anders Broman – Bass
Pelle Akerlind – Drums
Fredrik Bergh – Keyboards

Producer: Bloodbound

When I first came across this album, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Either some type of cheesy heavy metal or perhaps something extreme? Well, while power metal is known for having quite a bit of cheese factor, I wouldn’t call Bloodbound cheesy: the keyboards don’t drown out the guitars and there’s plenty of riffing, big anthems and frenetic drumming here.

While I’m not too familiar with the band, I can tell you that Bloodbound have been around for about 10 years and they hail from Sweden. Stormborn is their sixth album and if you’re looking for a point of comparison, their music reminds me a lot Edguy, Avantasia, Dream Evil, Hammerfall, Manowar and Halford. “Made of Steel” sounds like it could’ve come from Manowar or Halford’s Halford IV: Made of Metal album while “When the Kingdom Will Falls” sounds like it came right from one of Tobias Sammet’s bands (Edguy and Avantasia… your choice). Patrik Johansson’s vocals are similar to Sammet’s as well but a little Halford comes through on songs like “Made of Steel” and “Satanic Panic”.

I’ve listened to this album a couple of times and I can’t help but think I’ve heard it all before but I don’t mean that in a bad way. Many of these songs reminds me of other power metal bands. Bloodbound are not plagiarizing or ripping off other bands but their influences do come through. Anyone that is into good old fashioned power metal should be able to find plenty to enjoy on Stormborn. As for myself, going by this album alone, the band has gained a new follower and I’ll have to see if I can check out their previous releases.

Highlights: “Satanic Panic”, “We Raise the Dead”, “Made of Steel”, “Blood of My Blood”, “When the Kingdom Will Fall”, “When All Lights Fail”

Riot V – Unleash the Fire [Review]

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Riot V – Unleash the Fire
2014, Steamhammer/SPV
Buy the album

1. Ride Hard Live Free
2. Metal Warrior
3. Fall From the Sky
4. Bring the Hammer Down
5. Unleash the Fire
6. Land of the Rising Sun
7. Kill to Survive
8. Return of the Outlaw
9. Immortal
10. Take Me Back
11. Fight Fight Fight
12. Until We Meet Again

Band:
Todd Michael Hall – Vocals
Mike Flyntz – Guitar
Nick Lee- Guitar
Don Van Stavern – Bass
Frank Gilchriest – Drums

Producer:
Bruno Ravel, Joshua Black & Riot V

After the unfortunate passing of Riot founder/lead guitarist Mark Reale in 2012, Riot called it a day… temporarily. In 2013, longtime Riot band members guitarist Mike Flyntz, bassist Don Van Stavern and drummer Bobby Jarzombek announced the formation of an off-shoot band called Riot V with the purpose of keeping Mark’s music alive in concert as well as recording new studio music. This was done with the blessing of Mark’s family.

The “V”, I assume, is in reference to the 2010s being the fifth decade of Riot’s existence. I’ve read elsewhere that it’s because this is the fifth line-up of the band but that’s ridiculous and absolutely not true. This band gives Black Sabbath a run for their money with line-up changes… and probably beats them!

After some touring, by the time Riot V got around to recording new material, Bobby Jarzombek was out of the band and in his place is Virgin Steele drummer, Frank Gilchriest, who previously played in Riot from 2003 – 2007. Longtime on again/off again Riot vocalist Tony Moore chose not (or was not asked) to partake in Riot V. In his place is vocalist Todd Michael Hall. Hall does a fantastic job and sounds similar to Tony Moore, which helps this album retain it’s classic Riot sound. As much as I would have loved for Tony and Bobby to remain in this group, Hall and Gilchriest are more than able to step in for them.

So how does Unleash the Fire fare in comparison to Riot’s catalog? Quite well. While Riot always stayed within the realm of hard rock and heavy metal, they took a few twists and turns. With Immortal Soul and Unleash the Fire, it seems like the idea has been to get back the band’s traditional metal roots. Even the title of them album seems like a nod to the band’s 1981 classic Fire Down Under, while there’s also a sequel to that album’s “Outlaw” in the form of Unleash the Fire‘s “Return of the Outlaw”.

As much as I liked Immortal Soul, I think Unleash the Fire may be a bit better. It has more of that classic ’80s melodic power metal sound that Riot had in their glory days. Like a lot of Riot fans, I use Thundersteel as the measuring stick (although I know there are many who would say Fire Down Under). Unleash the Fire does a good job of capturing both eras, even if the heaviest moments here aren’t as heavy as some of the Judas Priest Painkiller-like moments found on Thundersteel.

There’s a couple of songs that are obvious tributes to Mark Reale — “Immortal” and “Until We Meet Again” (and “Land of the Rising Sun” sounds like the band was trying to do Maiden). Even the album art features a nod to Mark Reale with a street sign. While we unfortunately do not have that gifted and severely underrated songwriter/guitarist with us anymore, Riot V is carrying on the legacy of Mark Reale and Riot in grand fashion.

Any fan of Riot should be able to appreciate this album. Despite losing the founding member and lead creative force of the group, Unleash the Fire still sounds like Riot. For myself, and like when I listen to many of Riot’s releases, this album takes me back to a simpler time and headspace. Anytime an album can do that for you, it’s a win.

Highlights: “Ride Hard Live Free”, “Fall from the Sky”, “Unleash the Fire”, “Land of the Rising Sun”, “Immortal”, “Take Me Back”, “Until We Meet Again”

Ranking the Judas Priest Discography

UltimateClassicRock.com recently published a list ranking Judas Priest’s studio albums from worst to best. Lists are always fun and good for debate. It got me to thinking about how I’d rank the band’s discography. It goes something like this…

17. Rocka Rolla – Yes, the band’s debut album is their worst, IMO. #SorryNotSorry That said, I don’t think it’s bad but I don’t think it’s very memorable. It’s really only notable because it was the band’s debut album; they were still finding themselves.

16. Jugulator – Most fans who can stand the Ripper era prefer this one, but I don’t.

15. Nostradamus – Said it before and I’ll say it again, this album is a bloated in every fashion possible. Trim it down to one disc and you’d have something decent, but as a double album it’s a bore and chore to sit through.

14. Point of Entry – An okay album with one excellent song (“Desert Plains”) that was nowhere near a follow-up worthy to British Steel.

13. Demolition – This is the Ripper-fronted album that has a greater number of songs that I enjoy. I have a soft spot for it because I bought when it was first released; it was my first “new” Priest album.

12. Turbo – A lot of people dislike this one but it’s a guilty pleasure to me and features a few great tracks.

11. Ram It Down – A harder-edged version of Turbo, it too falls under the category of being a guilty pleasure.

10. Angel of Retribution – Another album I have a soft spot for since it was Halford’s return to the group. I was very excited for this one. It was a good but not great reunion album.

9. Redeemer of Souls – Given that this album was only released a few months ago, it’s hard to truly determine where it stands in the Priest catalog. I feel like it is definitely a top 10 album for the band. It’s certainly the best album the band has made since 1990’s Painkiller.

8. Sad Wings of Destiny  – While the band’s debut didn’t offer up much of interest, their sophomore effort saw the band heading down a heavy metal road that would eventually end with them being crowned as Metal Gods.

7. Defenders of the Faith – Released between the classic Screaming for Vengeance and the controversial Turbo, this one delivered a few classics in its own right.

6. Sin After Sin – The very first Priest album I ever bought.

5. Stained Class – This one is a near tie with the next album…

4. Hell Bent for Leather – …except this one wins out thanks to tracks like “Hell Bent for Leather”, “Before the Dawn” and “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown)”.

3. British Steel – I know there’s a strong case to be made for this being the band’s best releases, but there still some filler on this one.

2. Screaming for Vengeance – The band’s commercial breakthrough. I could go without ever hearing “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” for the rest of my life, but I’ll never get tired of “Riding on the Wind”, “Bloodstone”, “(Take These) Chains”, “Electric Eye” or “Screaming for Vengeance”.

1. Painkiller – This one, thought well-reviewed, still does not get enough love as far as I’m concerned. It’s the heaviest, fastest album the band ever did. A lot of people point to this album as having simple comic book lyrics, but who cares? Every track is an atmospheric heavy metal classic. It’s just too bad it was released in 1990 just as heavy metal was starting to slip a bit in popularity.

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