Archive for September, 2009

Review: Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue [2009]

Posted in Alice In Chains with tags on September 28, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon AICSeattle rock pioneers Alice in Chains are back with their first studio album in 14 years and since the death of frontman Layne Staley in 2002. The band enlisted seasoned professional and Staley sound-alike William DuVall in 2007 to steer the ship.

Black Gives Way To Blue features the band’s signature alternative sludge grooves, unusual uplifting tones, and lyrics that appropriately speak of a long overdue new beginning on “All Secrets Known.”

Of the eleven tracks, some of the major stand outs are the acoustic driven “Your Decision”  — imagine a happier rendition of “Down in a Hole” — and “When The Sun Rose Again,” serving as the “Heaven Beside You” of the album.

For those that still yearn for sweaty flannel-filled mosh pits, the gloomy “Acid Bubble” and “A Looking in View” are right up your alley.

DuVall’s vocal performance proves to be an adequate replacement for Staley, exceeding expectations of quality, capability, and image. He is no Brian Johnson to Bon Scott, but he does make the group better for what they are today.

As for the rest of the band, Jerry Cantrell reclaims his throne as a guitar god and great vocalist, Mike Inez rocks the bass as if he is still in his 20’s, and Sean Kinney is the premier drummer he has always been. The survey says: Black Gives Way To Blue was worth waiting for. In other words, this record makes Chinese Democracy eat sh*t.

3.5 StarsAlice in Chains is William DuVall (Vocals/Guitar), Jerry Cantrell (Guitar/Vocals), Mike Inez (Bass), & Sean Kinney (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “All Secrets Known”
  2. “Check My Brain”
  3. “Last of My Kind”
  4. “Your Decision”
  5. “A Looking in View”
  6. “When The Sun Rose Again”
  7. “Acid Bubble”
  8. “Lesson Learned”
  9. “Take Her Out”
  10. “Private Hell”
  11. “Black Gives Way To Blue”

aliceinchains.comamazon.comwikipedia.com

Review: Rick Rubin: In The Studio By Jake Brown [Paperback-2009]

Posted in Books, Rick Rubin with tags on September 28, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon Rick RubinThere is no doubt that Rick Rubin is one of the greatest music producers of all-time in genres ranging from thrash metal to rap, which is why news of the release of Rick Rubin: In The Studio by Jake Brown won my immediate attention. However, upon opening my paperback copy, the enthusiasm dwindled to immediate boredom; within the first two pages of chapter one it became apparent that this was going to be an exhausting battle to the finish.

It is not that Jake Brown is not a well-researched biographer or that he failed to provide accurate accounts of the production behind Rubin’s legendary albums such as Reign In Blood and Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The problem is that this book fails to tell the stories well — fostering little excitement which then prevents the reader from turning the page. Instead, it reads like a never ending series of quotes that you could Google or Wiki at anytime; like I said before, “exhausting.”

More than a majority of the content comes from various magazine articles and Rolling Stone interviews throughout Rubin’s career. Unfortunately, these sources rarely dig deep enough when it comes to compiling a biographical powerhouse. The flow of this biography is quite the opposite of how Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt reads or David McCullough’s 1776 for that matter. How can one compare the American Revolution and the production of Death Magnetic? Well, a great story teller will put the reader inside the studio with the band, behind the sound board, and in the midst of the decision making processes, much like McCullough throws the reader right on the battlefields of New York.

2.5 StarsIf you are an extraterrestrial visiting from 100 parsecs or more, then you will enjoy learning about the fundamentals to Rick Rubin’s minimalistic style and gain a satisfactory overview of his classic albums. Otherwise, as an avid fan of rock music, you probably already read many of the magazine articles that compose the content of Rick Rubin: In The StudioMeds

amazon.comecwpress.comwikipedia.com

Review: Pearl Jam – Backspacer [2009]

Posted in Pearl Jam on September 21, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon PJ BSThe best rock band from the early 90’s Seattle movement is back with another exquisite listening experience on their ninth studio release Backspacer.

Once again Pearl Jam takes the unpolished rock and roll approach, a page directly from the holy book of The Ramones. For most of the record, Eddie Vedder shows he has no shame in allowing his voice to rip and roar in a slew of continuous streams that lead us all to the chapel of rock (“Gonna See My Friend,” “The Fixer”).

In addition to Backspacer’s riff-soaring tracks, several songs employ melodic breathing room (“Just Breathe,” “Amongst The Waves,” Speed of Sound”) allowing the album to flow as a work of auditory art, a rare achievement in this day and age.

The guitars of Mike McCready and Stone Gossard work their complimentary magic during “Supersonic” and “Force of Nature,” and Matt Cameron’s drums are perfect on all 11 songs as expected.

Backspacer is an improvement from 2006’s Pearl Jam, and possibly their best effort since the underrated and underappreciated Yield-Binaural era. While this is not the greatest record in the band’s repertoire nor does it offer a stunning new direction, it is always refreshing to hear rock music that is done right –Meds

4 StarsPearl Jam is Eddie Vedder (Vocals), Mike McCready (Guitars), Stone Gossard (Guitars), Jeff Ament (Bass), and Matt Cameron (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Gonna See My Friend”
  2. “Got Some”
  3. “The Fixer”
  4. “Johnny Guitar”
  5. “Just Breathe”
  6. “Amongst The Waves”
  7. “Unthought Known”
  8. “Supersonic”
  9. “Speed of Sound”
  10. “Force of Nature”
  11. “The End”

official siteamazon.comwikipedia.com

Note: Pearl Jam has an exclusivity deal for this album. You are going to have to head over to Target or iTunes to buy it.

Review: “The Beatles: Rock Band” [Nintendo Wii 2009]

Posted in Guitar Hero, Rock Band with tags on September 20, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon Beatles RBMove over Guitar Hero: Metallica, the best rhythm game to feature a single artist has just invaded the gaming market. The Beatles: Rock Band offers the most pleasurable rock and roll gaming experience that you will come across this holiday season.

Featuring 45 original and remastered studio tracks from each era of the band’s career, with settings such as the Ed Sullivan Theater, Shea Stadium (my personal favorite), the Budokan, and Abbey Road Studios, the spirit is very much alive as the portrayal of The Beatles culture is absolutely fab.

But, Mommy is making me choose; Guitar Hero 5 or The Beatles: Rock Band?: If you are a casual player and plan to buy only one rhythm game this year, then The Beatles: Rock Band is the way to go. For what it is, this game is flawless. However, if you are a serious instrument-based gamer, you will spend more time playing Guitar Hero 5 due to the higher number of challenging songs for the guitar and drums in particular, and also due to the wider variety of musical content.

Rectangles vs. Circles, and the real challenge: I find the circular notes of the Guitar Hero games easier to read than the rectangular or squared notes of the Rock Band series, but that is a personal preference of mine. There are times during game play when it was difficult to see the scrolling notes and beats on the RB engine. However, the vocal highway is superior to Guitar Hero’s vocal paths.

The most challenging element of The Beatles:Rock Band is the singing, especially on the Paul McCartney songs with falsetto parts. The John Lennon songs fall somewhere in the middle while the George Harrison and Ringo Starr tunes are the least straining. There are two options for the vocals; you can sing the lead solo parts or the lead solo parts with all of the harmonies. The latter is for the real sadists. My father, a true Beatles aficionado, performed for three hours on expert mode last night. We hope his voice will be back by the end of the week.

I own Guitar Hero: World Tour, will those drums allow me to live out my Ringo fantasies: Yes, the Guitar Hero drum kit is perfectly compatible with The Beatles: Rock Band for the Wii. Thank the rock gods for this as the standard Rock Band drums are highly unauthentic compared to Guitar Hero which includes the cymbal pads without buying all sorts of add-ons.

4.5 StarsThe Guitar Hero microphone and guitars also work like a charm. Check out the full compatibility chart from Rock Band here. I’d also like to add that the  manual instrument calibration on The Beatles: Rock Band is far better than Guitar Hero 5 which you really have to screw around with to get perfect.

This game scores major points for the Rock Band franchise but the war ain’t over yet. The official release of Guitar Hero: Van Halen is on the horizon -Meds

official siteamazon.comwikipedia.com

Review: Ace Frehley – Anomaly [2009]

Posted in Ace Frehley, Kiss with tags on September 14, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon AceFreThe original Spaceman lead guitarist of the legendary Kiss lineup serves up a platter of 12 new tracks on his first solo effort since 1989’s Trouble Walkin’.  On Anomaly, Ace Frehley refreshingly sticks to his classic 70’s roots keeping all of the fundamentals of hard rock prominent. Frehley’s guitars come out in a chugging blaze from the very beginning of “Foxy and Free” continuing into “Outer Space,” while the drums of Anton Fig (David Letterman) and Scott Coogan (Brides of Destruction) bring the thunder. Almost all of the material on this album is hard rock in its most natural state with traces of melodic moments  spread throughout (“Pain in the Neck”). Frehley pays tribute to 70’s British rock band Sweet with a rendition of “Fox on the Run” that stays very true to the original performance. “A Little Below the Angels” is an honest acoustic ballad from a recovering alcoholic’s perspective. “Genghis Khan” is mainly an instrumental stomp rock tune with the random lyric “so long Genghis Khan, now your gone, so long” thrown in here and there, unlike “Space Bear” and “Fractured Quantum,” which are completely instrumental. All in all, Anomaly does not piss me off one bit and it should not piss anyone off. The riffs are hard, heavy, in some cases epic (“Space Bear”), and better than anything that Kiss has released in the last 20 years. –Meds

4 StarsAce Frehley is Ace Frehley (Vocals/Guitars), Derrek Hawkins (Rhythm Guitar), Anthony Esposito (Bass), Marti Frederiksen (Keyboards/Bass/Rhythm Guitar), Anton Fig (Drums), & Steve Coogan (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Foxy and Free”
  2. “Outer Space”
  3. “Pain in the Neck”
  4. “Fox on the Run”
  5. “Genghis Khan”
  6. “Too Many Faces”
  7. “Change the World”
  8. “Space Bear”
  9. “A Little Below the Angels”
  10. “Sister”
  11. “It’s a Great Life”
  12. “Fractured Quantum”

acefrehley.comamazon.comwikipedia.com

SOS Metal Reviews: Voivod “Infini,” Sonata Arctica, Danko Jones, Goatwhore, and more…

Posted in SOS Metal Update, Voivod with tags , on September 13, 2009 by gearsofrock
Amazon VoivodVOIVOD
INFINI
Finishing up where Katorz left off, the final round of posthumous musical output from deceased guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour has arrived in the form of Infini, a 13-track collection dutifully piecing together the remainder of the compositional odds and sods D’Amour left behind on his laptop before succumbing to cancer in 2005. The rest of Voivod had the tough task of not only grieving over a lost comrade, but rifling through material to draw up a tangible release as well, an undertaking the remaining members administer admirably. Spearheaded by Jason Newsted’s punchy production and roaring bass guitar rumblings (“Treasure Chase”, “From the Cave”), songs like “Volcano” rip out with a Motorhead punk-thrash vibe, while “Krap Radio” demonstrates the bands disdain via the troupe’s trademark slanted slash and burn style. Paying homage to a fallen friend, Infini is an inspired affair that fondly closes a chapter in this band’s legacy. www.voivod.comMike SOS
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TOURNAMENT
YEARS OLD
Jagged NYC quartet Tournament showcase a boisterous indie rock clamor with an acute metallic swagger on their 10-track offering Years Old. Unreservedly borrowing from the playbooks of Jesus Lizard and Melvins with traces of scathing punk strewn in for good measure (“Intake Controller”), tracks like “Smokelore” display melodies buried under walls of jaded guitars while the volatile man on fire vocal delivery guides scrawling guitars and rumbling rhythms through “Washcloth” and assists the brutal Helmet-esque low end tidal wave crashes on “Walking Negative Man” and “Snuff News”. Propelled by well-measured doses of heaviness and a disjointed sense anxiety cranked to the max, Tournament properly portrays what a dirty by design brand of balls out rock ‘n roll outfit should sound like. www.forcefieldrecords.orgMike SOS
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PITFIGHT
PITFIGHT
Queens, NY quintet Pitfight keeps the unbridled NYHC spirit close at hand on their eponymous seven-track sojourn, hammering out menacing chunks of aggression laden with burly breakdowns and hostile gang vocals. Songs like the Madball-esque “The World” and “All Hell Breaks Loose” (not the Misfits song) include the ingredients necessary to elicit a sea of flailing arms and windmill fisticuffs while the SOD meets Entombed feel on “Night of the Living Death” injects a dollop of punk metal attitude into the mix. Most in-tune with the urban metallic end of the hardcore spectrum chock full of chugging guitars and vocal abrasiveness, Pitfight delivers a solid hardcore-styled kick to the skull. www.myspace.com/pitfightnycMike SOS
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AMBASSADOR GUN
WHEN IN HELL
16 tracks of multi-faceted grindcore chaos come courtesy of Minnesota trio Ambassador Gun and their latest release When in Hell. Hyper and hostile, this troupe keeps up a relentless rapid-fire pace while furnishing their blistering Napalm Death meets Nasum assault (“So Pristine”, “Population Control”) with a plethora of contagious riffs exploding from the speakers and a stirringly vitriolic twin vocal onslaught whose apocalyptic imminence pounds through your cranium and sticks in your head long after the disc’s 28 minutes have run out (“When in Hell”, “Delorean”). Startlingly melodic with a punk rock precipice without sacrificing a lick of savagery (“Taylor Reign”, “Ignorance is This”), When in Hell is a triumphant affair specially crafted for well-rounded speed freaks and genre mashers to adore. www.myspace.com/ambassadorgunMike SOS
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Amazon GDGOD DETHRONED
PASSIONDALE
Veteran Dutch death metal mongers God Dethroned return with Passiondale, a harrowing 10-track frontline account of the little known horrors from one of the most deadly battles of World War I done over a scintillating modern death metal backdrop. Intertwining storytelling devices from other genres such as Viking metal to properly give reverence to the subject matter at hand, this quartet’s direct and durable warmongering delivery and blackened Swedish metal assault is equipped with a few surprises such as touches of clean singing (“No Survivors”), interludes adorned with keyboard-enhanced doom laden reflection (the triumphant “Poison Fog”) and a cohesively binding instrumental outro (“Artifacts of the Great War”), yet still packs the pulverizing punch expected from this seasoned unit (“Under a Darkening Sky”). Falling a bit on the short side yet not before succinctly fleshing out detailed accounts of the massive massacre, God Dethroned has whipped up a stunning portrait from one of the most notorious atrocities in modern history. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
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EXILIA
MY OWN ARMY
Italian female fronted nu metal comes courtesy of circuit vets Exilia, whose latest offering My Own Army slaps pieces Otep’s metallic rage, Lacuna Coil’s stealthy songwriting and My Ruin’s audacity together to form a solid but formulaic strand of rock. Teeming with a bevy of textbook modern rock twists that commercial radio craves with a punchy songwriting acumen that skillfully skirts the line between mainstream rock and action movie metal (“I’m Perfect”), this 12-track release falls prey to nu metal cliché quite a bit (“Far From the Dark”, “Magnolia”) yet redeems itself thanks to a brazen vocal performance whose tough and throaty delivery keeps attention spans alert under the generic brooding atmosphere. www.exiliaweb.comMike SOS
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RAVAGE
THE END OF TOMORROW
Instead of following the usual metal sound from the bands of their home state a la Killswitch Engage and Isis, Massachusetts crew Ravage masterfully capture an early 1980’s metallic vibe, channeling everyone from Mercyful Fate and Grim Reaper to Judas Priest (whose “Nightcrawler “ they cover) on the retro quintet’s debut disc The End of Tomorrow. This 12-track ode to traditional metal comes fortified with over the top rousing choruses (“Damn Nation”) and the sort of rollicking freight train musicianship you’d expect from the likes of Armored Saint, Metal Church, and fellow retread act 3 Inches of Blood (“The Shredder”). Tracks such as the meaty “Freedom Fighter” and the histrionic power metal-esque title track burst at the seams with an abundance of galloping rhythms, whammy bar solo trickery, evil riffage, and an unrestrained vocal attack whose wailing pipes are bound to expunge posers quicker than a hiccup. Steeped in classic wares, Ravage goes back to the formative days of NWOBHM, Bay Area thrash, and European power metal to create their inspired and cohesive assault on your ears. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
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THE DEFIBULATORS
CORN MONEY
NYC outfit The Defibulators import the down home sounds of truck stop country, bluegrass and honky tonk to the Big Apple on their provocative 17-track affair Corn Money. Any band that has its own coloring book has to be a guaranteed hoot, and this raucous septet is just that, embodying southern fried swing with just the right touches of tear in your beer country (“Your Hearty Laugh”), ragtime frolic (“Honey, You Had Me Fooled”), and whacked out mountain music (“X-mas Ornament”). Armed with hyperactive fiddle, stacked male-female vocal duels, jug and washboard accoutrement, knee-slapping melodies, and guitars whose twang cry out for a two-step (“Dum-Dum”, “Go-Go Truck”), this unit’s punkified take on old-time music turns Americana on its head with a bawdy and bodacious delight. www.thedefibulators.comMike SOS
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LAUDANUM
THE CORONATION
A bleak and desperate seven-track doom fest arrives thanks to Oakland’s Laudanum. The Coronation is a dreadful and discordant offering lumbering with an uncomfortable aura, as this quartet drum up an ominous affair draped in piercing horror movie ambiance (“Apotheosis”), noise metal clatter (“Wooden Horse”) and mechanized industrial nuances (“In Obscura”) while a devastatingly destructive sludge metal attack akin to molten lava oozing from a volcanic explosion rears its head and clears room for nefarious vocal growls and howls, binding the entire excruciating 50-minute excursion together. This disc’s foreboding atmosphere and woebegone wares are custom made for an impending full-on global collapse. www.20buckspin.comMike SOS
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Amazon SASONATA ARCTICA
THE DAYS OF GRAY
Finnish power metal quintet Sonata Arctica returns with a punchy pomp-filled endeavor titled The Days of Gray. Blending cascading commercial metal hooks with soaring progressive metal prowess into their lush yet visceral keyboard-heavy Euro metal approach (“Juliet”), this squad’s sixth release demonstrates a band well-versed in sweeping dramatics (“The Dead Skin”) and poignant balladry (“As If the World Wasn’t Ending”) as well as cranking out darkened over the top orchestral metal (“Zeroes”) while sneaking in a bit of homeland folk metal (“Flag in the Ground”) for good measure. Melodic and full of zest, The Days of Gray bridges the gap between Dream Theater-esque flash and Blind Guardian-like durability, providing an abundance of rousing metal moments for those who prefer a more elegant design in their metal. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS
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FIREBIRD
GRAND UNION
Laying down a concrete 70’s retro rock feel that you can’t help but groove to, Firebird’s fifth installment of classic hard rock Grand Union serves up a winning amalgamation of tooth-bearing hard rock and muscular blues in its journey across the hard rock timeline. Spearheaded by unlikely extreme metal luminary Bill Steer, the whiskey soaked guitars, thunderous bass and drum rhythmic interlocking, and sinewy compositions echo bell bottom heaviness from bands like Cream and Free (“Lonely Road”) while “Release Me” pairs up AC/DC and Deep Purple for a bloozy hard rock tour de force and “Fool For You” displays this power trio’s cleverness by turning a James Taylor song into a sizzling bongo-filled blues rock free for all. Dirty riffs collide with dashes of organ and harmonica (“Worried Mind”) accompaniments with a pulsating vibe straight from the arena rock glory days throughout, assisting Firebird ‘s triumphant throwback aura to fully encumber your rock ‘n roll soul. www.riseaboverecords.comMike SOS
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SHAKRA
EVEREST
Swiss troupe Shakra deliver a hard-hitting hard rock offering on Everest, the unit’s seventh full-length album. This quintet exhibits a modern slant on a discernibly 80’s metal foundation, as the influence of bands like Dokken (especially guitar wise) can be heard throughout the 12-track duration. Hooks on cuts like “Love & Pain” and “Dirty Money” mix the wares of Kix and Udo while “Insanity” displays a righteous Euro metal flare with a hearty dollop of Sunset Strip biker grit, kind of what a merger of Love/Hate and In Flames would sound like. Taking the everyman no frills rock from Tesla and slapping a set of BLS-sized balls on the frame, Shakra’s throbbing bottom end and steadfast dedication to hard rock melody make this album a solid album to throw on while cruising down the highway with the top down. www.afmrecords.comMike SOS
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CHURCH OF MISERY
HOUSES OF THE UNHOLY
Japanese stoner rock band with a liking for the tales of serial killers a la death metal band Macabre (all of their song titles are named after one) Church of Misery pour on a plethora of teeming lava riffage (“Blood Sucking Freak”), gravel-throated yowls and Black Sabbath bass and drum worship on the seven track Houses of the Unholy. Stocked with a sludge metal swagger and a stoner rock heft that swings as hard as it strikes, songs like “Shotgun Boogie” kick up the jams before the oppressive pentatonic pummeling and creepy bullhorn vocal intro of “The Gray Man” stomps your head against the curb. Channeling everything from COC to Cathedral to Sleep and Weedeater while carving out its own niche into the heavy metal tree of woe, Church of Misery showcase a catchy yet perilous collection of maddening metallic maneuvers slow cooked to savor every last drop of diabolical umbrage. www.riseaboverecords.comMike SOS
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LIGHT THIS CITY
THE HERO CYCLE
A posthumous re-release of comes from recently disbanded Bay Area death metal unit Light This City, whose debut The Hero Cycle gets the reissue treatment. Recorded while the band was still in high school, this 10-track endeavor sounds a bit undercooked overall yet burns with the fires of an upstart band fueled by a youthful reckless abandon following a paint by numbers Swedish death metal blueprint. Hardly essential but interesting for completists and rabid fans, this disc showcases a fine display of nubile aggression from a band’s humble beginnings. www.prostheticrecords.comMike SOS
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Amazon Danko JonesDANKO JONES
NEVER TOO LOUD
Veritable Canadian hard rock trio Danko Jones strays a few degrees away from the raucous all guns blazing design that gave them their reputation to make way for a much more streamlined and less dangerous change of pace on latest effort Never Too Loud. Opting to draw from the squad’s favorite classic rock nuances to comprise this 11-track affair, tunes like the more than ever Thin Lizzy-inspired “Ravenous” and “City Streets” maintain the trademark grit this European circuit favorite is known for and sophomoric romps “Let’s Get Undressed” and “Still in High School” quench perpetual teenage fantasies as only rock ‘n roll can fulfill, yet the slick Kid Rock-esque ballad “Take Me Home” misses the mark, sounding a bit too polished and contrived from a band that thrives on energy and rock ‘n roll rebellion to churn out. The album’s best moment however is the deliciously deliberate stoner rock direction the six-minute plus track “Forest for the Trees” takes, which boasts not only an undeniable hypnotic groove but boasts a pair of blockbuster guest vocalists in the form of John Garcia and Pete Stahl, who alongside Jones form a monsterous vocal stoner rock triad that is worth the price of the disc alone. Following the lead set by heroes AC/DC and Motorhead in providing consistence while digging deeper to display their roots, Never Too Loud is an album that will perplex some fans as it will take a few listens to fully absorb the changes, yet it is still armed with all the necessary elements to absolutely satisfy everyone who is about to rock. www.badtasterecords.seMike SOS
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DARKNESS DYNAMITE
THE ASTONISHING FURY OF MANKIND
French metalcore unit Darkness Dynamite pulls influence from a bevy of reliable high profile sources to compile the by-numbers blend of metallic ferocity heard on this quintet’s 11-track endeavor The Astonishing Fury of Mankind. While this squad won’t be praised for reinventing the metal wheel any time in the near future, they do craftily salvage scraps from cutting room floors of their peers, piecing feral chugga-chugga blasts from the deathcore sect, off-kilter song structures a la fellow countrymen Gojira (“Immersion Inner-Nation”), raging knuckle-breaking hardcore, and creamy melodic choruses from Soilwork (“15$”) and In Flames (“Hell Eve Hate”) together to form a bruising yet uneven batch of disjointed juxtapositions that emit a much-needed fresh scent yet seem a bit malnourished to make a perfect fit. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
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CHORD
FLORA
Four ambitious Chicago guitarists (most notably one of the dudes from Pelican) team up to present Chord, a drone project whose dedicated scope aims to “exploit and explore the depth of a single chord.” This four-track affair radiates with doom-like ambience, discovering sumptuous soundscapes within the unit’s self-imposed limitations that resonate with hypnotic beauty and sweeping splendor. While this disc would render a tedious experience for the laymen, aficionados of bands such as Earth and Sunn 0))) will have no problem fully embracing this far-out release bursting with tone and texture. www.neurotrecordings.comMike SOS
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MALFEITOR
INCUBUS
Harkening back to traditional black metal’s blistering and bastardized roots, Italian trio Malfeitor presents their sophomore effort in the form of the blistering 10-track Incubus. Vigilantly following the wares of  Dark Funeral and Gogoroth, tracks like “Typhonian Gods” features a crisp black metal crush and “Void of Voids” maintains a menacing black metal tempo while “Down With Me” provides the album with a proper kickoff of tremolo picked guitar blasts and demonic vocal rasps manning the hellacious helm. Supplying a significant amount of catchy riffs and tasty hooks into their cauldron of despair, this act’s carefully constructed black metal bashings do not boast originality yet showcase an unabashed admiration for the movement’s Norwegian and Scandinavian progenitors, making this release a dependable and solid foray into the abyss. www.agoniarecords.comMike SOS
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MOLOTOV SOLUTION
THE HARBINGER
Is deathcore still a dirty word amongst the metal sect? If so, no one has told Las Vegas quintet Molotov Solution, whose scalding 11-track endeavor portrays the nuances from the much-maligned genre with brash sociopolitical bite and a penchant for clever composition that falls prey to redundancy at times yet manages to hover a cut-above of the rest of the gang. The Harbinger is an album laden with malicious guitars runs (“Only the Dead”), threatening rhythmic bashings (“Corpus Imperium”), and a gamut-running vocal presence reminiscent of Despised Icon and Misery Signals yet at times remains on the treadmill a bit too long, taking easy chugga-chugga shortcuts to reach familiar bass-dropped moments of volatile nirvana a la every other damn band in the deathcore bunch (“Rule By Secrecy”). Nonetheless, this act seems to have a firmer handle on bludgeoning listeners into submission and throw enough intriguing treats into its mix to warrant massive moshpit activity as well as repeated listens. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
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MOSS
TOMBS OF THE BLIND DRUGGED
Slow churned sludge-ridden droning doom comes courtesy of veteran British monolithic metal troupe Moss, whose subtle and simplistic yet excruciatingly lethargic 40-minute excursion Tombs of the Blind Drugged reveals a viscous display of tortured vocals over a plodding and punishing musical backdrop despite containing only four tracks. Consisting of three new tracks and a curious doom adaptation of Discharge’s “Maimed and Slaughtered”, casual metal fans are sure to find this unit’s minimalist approach and significantly sluggish pace difficult to deal with, but for those cursed with firsthand knowledge of pain and suffering, this is the soundtrack of your life. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
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Amazon GoatwhoreGOATWHORE
CARVING OUT THE EYES OF GOD
NOLA’s nefarious blackened metal squad Goatwhore returns with another smattering of evil in the form of a hellacious hybrid of metallic fury entitled Carving Out the Eyes of God. This diabolical 10-track display of demonic aggression is armed with a discernible degree of thrash metal mannerisms (“Shadow of a Rising Knife”) but maintains the trademark menacing black metal gallop (“In Legions, I Am Wars of Wrath”) this quartet is best known for. Once again produced by extreme metal guru Erik Rutan, this disc teems with a rabid rapid-fire six-string ruthlessness (“Apocalyptic Havoc”) and benefits by another chalice raised to the netherworld performance by vocalist Ben Falgoust, whose crisp yet malevolent raspy roar leads the impious charge from the bowels of Hell to the Earth’s surface. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
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SUFFOCATION
BLOOD OATH
New York death metal masters Suffocation triumphantly return to the forefront of the game they basically created with the unit’s sixth full length offering Blood Oath. Retaining the veteran squad’s trademarked (and much plagiarized) combination of hulking atmosphere, jarring tempo shifts, raw barbarism, and awe-inspiring chops, this 10-track presentation crushes your cranium with a lethal display of intricate death metal insanity. Throwing out fierce fireballs of jolting staccato grooves (“Images of Purgatory”), tumultuous and technical percussion, complex twin guitar chaos (“Cataclysmic Purification”), seething growls telling depraved tales, and in a rarity for death metal, a rumbling bass whose pulverizing low-end and vicious plucking is not only audible but virtually leads the charge (“Pray for Forgiveness”), Blood Oath is yet another powerful presentation which admirably adds to Suffocation’s glorious extreme metal legacy. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS
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ERYN NON DAE
HYDRA LERNAIA
French troupe Eryn Non Dae brazenly throws conventional boundaries out the window on their debut affair Hydra Lernaia, opting to steer its brand of crushing metal through the same filters as fellow countrymen Gojira. Heavy on the atmosphere and off-kilter time signatures with a terse low-end snap dominant throughout, if you could imagine a somewhat awkward amalgamation of Neurosis, Meshuggah, and Mnemic, this quintet’s blend of sheer sonic bludgeoning with their bleak outlook on humanity seeping into the music as a sixth member constantly gnawing at your brain fits the bill most accurately. Despite a lack of memorable hooks to latch onto, Eryn Non Dae’s weighty offering provides the right quantity of jarring experimental lapses and provocative metallic moments to draw in those who enjoy their heaviness with angularity. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
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MERAUDER
GOD IS I
One of the first true bands that merged modern urban blight with metal, NYC metalcore pioneers Merauder sticks to its guns in their comeback bid, returning with a sinister slugfest on the 11-track GOD IS I. Stocked with a smorgasbord of the unit’s trademarked battering riffs intertwined with all of the nasty nuances acquired from inhabiting in the bowels of the Big Apple for over two decades  (“Never Surrender,” “Built on Blood”) Merauder’s cautious yet chaotic approach appeases the diehards, churning out a myriad of malicious metal riffs over jackhammer rhythms adorned with the raucous roar of longstanding member Jorge Rosado bellowing as belligerently as if it were 1996 all over again (“God Is I”). Ferocious and ready to reclaim their spot at the top of the metalcore mountain, Merauder deliver a passionate old school tutorial chock full of the blend of harbingering hostility they helped put on the map.  www.regainrecords.comMike SOS
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SUCCESS WILL WRITE APOCALYPSE ACROSS THE SKY
THE GRAND PARTITION AND THE ABROGATION OF IDOLATRY
Undaunted in their approach to bring the truth to light, Tampa, FL unit SWWAATS burst out the gate with brutish volatility, a nihilistic outlook, and a rabid death metal meets grindcore method whose rapid-fire technicality goes for the jugular (“Of Worms, Jesus Christ and Jackson County Missouri, “Cattle”). This sextet’s 13-track debut endeavor (produced by the renowned James Murphy) devastates with an intriguing presentation of baleful barrages of blast beats accompanied by arrays of chugging guitar goodness (“Despot”) resonating the utter chaos of a world in disrepair (“Automated Oration And the Abolition of Silence”). This act also pays close attention to society’s ills, highlighting global decay via their confrontational and suggestive lyrics, making serious pitch for exposing conspiracies and sounding off as a wake up call for all humanity to heed (“A Path”). SWWAATS provide a solid and thought-provoking hybrid of pummeling death metal and piledriving grindcore armed with burly breakdowns for the tough guys and mindblowing dynamics for those who demand more than the norm from their extreme music. www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS
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GRAVES OF VALOR
SALARIAN GATE
Featuring former members of Through the Eyes of the Dead, Graves of Valor play a standard form of death metal on their 11-track debut Salarian Gate. Despite a majority of redundant compositions that rarely climb above the median, this squad exhibits a seething selection of steamrolling chops (especially drum-wise) that lunge out the speakers to grab you by the throat (“The Clever Ape”). Durable but predictable, Graves of Valor possesses a wicked death metal gallop (“To Breath Blood”, “Suffocation of the Last King”) and can undeniably blow doors down when running at full capacity (“Pestilence”), yet display a think too much in the box mentality on this disc that renders only a few memorable moments. www.relapse.comMike SOS
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Amazon AntigamaANTIGAMA
WARNING
Polish powerhouse quartet Antigama return with a vengeance on their aptly titled 16-track excursion Warning. This exercise in extremity is teeming with the unit’s crushing amalgamation of grindcore blasts, blistering guitars, and anguished vocals (“Empty Room”, “Preacher’s Pray”), as this prolific squad pour on the punishment without a shred of remorse (“War”). Also included is another round of the band’s boundless experimentation, as Antigama’s now-patented unorthodox jazz atmosphere musings allow for short breaths in between the onslaught (“Paganini Meets Barbapapex”) while the adventurous percussive demonstration (“Lost Skull”) assists the overall release to resonate with an oddball brutality that distances this troupe further from the grind ‘em up and spit it back pack. Unrelenting and stark, Antigama stir up a callous and calculated blend of off kilter aural carnage that fans of grindcore will find hard to resist. www.relapse.comMike SOS
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DEJHA COLANTUONO
TEA AND VODKA
Breaking away from band life (Rotten Apples most recently) to get her solo groove on, Northwest by way of NYC songstress Dejha Colantuono secures her game by providing a rash of refined tunes intact with a firm grasp of rock dynamics on Tea and Vodka. This 11-track offering boasts the punchy production skills of Matt Bayles, fully capturing Colantuono’s versatile vocal delivery audible on the quirky jangle of “Poolside”, the Bjork meets PJ Harvey electro creep of “Something With You” and the smoky “Miss Fortune” while properly doing justice to bouncy guitar rock on cuts like “Anxiety” and “Color Blue”. Showcasing pop sensibilities built into a wider musical framework, this disc showcases a seasoned vocalist whose eclectic mix of rock-based music elicits a dash of soul straight from the heart. www.madmeowmusic.comMike SOS
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MUMAKIL
BEHOLD THE FAILURE
A frenetic exhibition of gruesome grindcore comes courtesy of Switzerland’s Mumakil, whose keep it real 27-track, 36-minute exercise in brutal brevity boldly pick up where grindcore masters Nasum untimely left off. From the opening strains of “Brothers in Slavery”, this foursome kick down the door and go ballistic, injecting a hearty dose of death metal into their lightning-fast tempos for an extra kick guaranteed to peel the paint off the wall and cause your immediate neighbors to phone the authorities (“Useless Fucks”, “Barbecue in Bhopal”). Strangled vocals projecting bile everywhere, dizzying riffs whose succinct savagery calls to mind Napalm Death (“Daily Punishment”), and incessant drum explosions combine forces to create a devastating batch of quick blows to the skull that will make you feel as if you’ve just stepped in the ring with a champion prizefighter. www.relapse.comMike SOS
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BIRDS OF PREY
THE HELLPREACHER
A Southern metal supergroup gone Swedish death ‘n roll, the quintet known as Birds of Prey churn out another raucous swampy sludge-ridden offering in the form of their third release The Hellpreacher. Ensconced in filth both lyrically (whose depraved storyline would make one hell of a movie) and sonically with a barrage of ripping blackened riffs (“Taking on Our Winters Blood”), blistering rhythms, and a bellicose lead bellow narrating the gruesome tale, Birds of Prey do a fine job of streamlining the wares of Goatwhore, Entombed, and Eyehategod into a wickedly bludgeoning bundle of southern fried death metal (“False Prophet”). Featuring Erik Larson, Ben Hogg, Dave Witte, Summer Welch, and Bo Leslie, this amalgamation of metalheads from below the Mason-Dixon have developed quite the macabre concept album. www.relapse.comMike SOS
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ASTRA
THE WEIRDING
Strap yourself in and dial back the time machine to the early 1970’s in order to fully embrace Astra’s eight-track, 78- minute journey The Weirding. This San Diego quintet does a marvelous job excavating classic sounds and vivid instrumentation from the psychedelic sunshine acid days when Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath were the latest craze, nailing down the majestic bass and guitar tones with a muscular but not overpowering presence perfectly (“The River Under”). Armed with a bountiful serving of Mellotron sprinkled with woodwinds enhancing the heady riffs and grandiose arrangements, Astra takes their time to build exhilarating monuments of sound straight from archival prog rock blueprints left behind by Hawkwind and Yes (“Ouroborous”). Chock full of lush melodies and tantalizing musicianship stimulating the type of shimmering jams that yield an authentically cosmic listening experience, if you remember a time when music was allowed to be pure and unfettered by industry nonsense and commercial pressures, this disc is essential. www.myspace.com/astrasoundMike SOS
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HAIL OF BULLETS
WARSAW RISING
Another old school death metal assault arrives via Hail of Bullets, the Dutch side project from members of Asphyx, Houwitser, Gorefest, and Thanatos in the form of a six-song EP showcasing this unit in both the studio and live setting. While the studio tracks are solid, dripping with the vintage death metal decay that draws comparisons to greats such as Death and Bolt Thrower (especially on the surprising reworking of Twisted Sister’s “Destroyer”), it’s the live cuts on this short and sweet sojourn where this quintet shines brightest, as the gravel-throated delivery of Martin van Drunen commandeers the voracious crowd through death metal’s murky underbelly with the passion and power necessary to summon the masses to revolt. Despite being a stopgap offering, Hail of Bullets bestows a nice mix of odds and ends before unleashing a fresh batch of menacing metal. www.metalblade.comMike SOS
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Amazon BGBONE GNAWER
FEAST OF FLESH
As if the band name and album title haven’t hinted enough, Bone Gnawer is a death metal unit that features the blood-curdling know-how of Kam Lee in its ranks. This splatter flick obsessed affair contains 10 tracks of chophouse death metal in tune with the glorious vibes from both the seminal Tampa scene and its Swedish counterpart as cuts like “Hammer to the Skull” and “The Lucky Ones Die First” strike with the subtlety of a jackhammer. Armed with a simplistically sick template of blood soaked grunts over galloping death metal with an air of catchiness, Bone Gnawer’s straight ahead blood and guts approach conjures up countless comparisons to Cannibal Corpse, both in attitude and sound, making this disc hardly an essential purchase, but a vile amount of fun for those who like a little horror in their metal. www.pulverised.comMike SOS
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RED EYED DEVIL
DEMO
Featuring three-quarters of bruising NYC hardcore veterans Everybody Gets Hurt, Red Eyed Devil crashes through the gates with a menacing four-track debut. Retaining the seething hostility of their former outfit with a rash of beatdown breakdowns while implementing some nifty fretwork fireworks into the mix (“LOV”), this troupe’s modern take on brutality screams nasty from start to finish and renders a surefire way to successfully jumpstart a circle pit anywhere its played. www.myspace.com/redeyeddevilMike SOS
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EYES OF NOCTUM
INCEPTUM
American black metal unit Eyes of Noctum stick to the Hot Topic black metal paradigm closely both in look and in sound on their 11-track offering Inceptum. Led by Weston Cage (who goes under the name Arcane here), son of Hollywood megastar Nicolas Cage, this sextet’s debut was recorded in Sweden (!) by metal guru Fredrik Nordstrom and features “appearances” by seasoned metal players Snowy Shaw and Hellhammer, both of whom apparently handled percussion duties when the band’s sticksman couldn’t cut it. Expect a garden-variety glossed-over keyboard-heavy Cradle of Filth meets Dimmu Borgir meets (enter Norwegian black metal band name) attack here, adorned with the symphonic accoutrements (“Eyes of Noctum”) and haunting melodic interplay (“Thy Fire Within”) ripped straight from the charred playbooks of their close at hand influences. www.eyesofnoctumofficial.comMike SOS
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KIM ROSE
YEAR OF SEVERED TIES
Angst-ridden and teeming with grit, Year of Severed Ties showcases a multitude of rock ‘n roll wares from NYC singer/guitarist Kim Rose. This 12-track offering supplies a significant array of hard rocking hooks (“Escaping Me”, “Reason Behind You”) that fall smack dab between the cathartic vibes of Evanescence and the refined edge of Incubus, complete with a slew of monstrous skin bashing (“Unjust”) and a vitriolic vocal delivery by a lady whose not gonna take it anymore. Laying down steadfast streams of punchy guitars over a rock solid rhythm section (“Broken Frames”), this disc exhibits Rose’s adoration for the harder side of ‘90s alternative rock with enough modern rock sensibilities that make for a well-rounded listening experience (“Made”). www.kimroseonline.comMike SOS
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KK NULL
OXYGEN FLASH
KK Null is one of the many projects emanating from the experimental mind of prolific Japanese noise monger Kazuyuki Kishino. His latest foray into the genre is a nine-track, nearly 50 minute offering entitled Oxygen Flash. Chock full with earsplitting skree, industrial strength electronic clanging, hypnotic delay, massive reverb invocations, and the type of white noise feedback that will drive your neighbors and pets insane, each track only goes by a number, further distancing this endeavor from resembling anything remotely accessible. This disc is most definitely for the most ardent of adventurous ears. www.neurotrecordings.comMike SOS
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Amazon LADLAZARUS AD
THE ONSLAUGHT
The neo-thrash movement still shows it has some gas left in the tank thanks in part to contributions from bands such as Wisconsin’s Lazarus AD, whose Metal Blade re-release of the unit’s 2007 offering The Onslaught nails the classic formula down pretty impressively. Sounding at times like the perfect blend of Death Angel and the newer incarnation of Exodus, especially vocally (“Damnation for the Weak”), this quintet embodies the bullet belt attitude, flashes the meaty yet slick chops (“Last Breath”), and sounds as ornery as a veteran band such as Kreator (“Revolution”) while integrating modern metal tactics into their airtight locked in a capsule from 1988 overview to make for a righteously retro yet intriguingly fresh sounding thrashing good time. www.metlablade.comMike SOS
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INFERNAL STRONGHOLD
GODLESS NOISE
Infernal Stronghold essentially are a black metal band by design, yet they trade typical genre uniforms in for a nasty punk rock disposition, giving their 10-track release Godless Noise the intriguing twist necessary to stand out. Fortified with a feral black metal bark (“Crippling Blasphemous Persistence”) and grindcore-esque bursts of rhythmic nihilism (“Buried by Grime and Crust”), this troupe’s combination of blistering speed, unorthodox angularity, and chaotic compositions tap into metal’s subterranean universe but arrive under a much different precipice, helping this Pennsylvania quartet spit out jagged shards of hate that have as much in common with Propagandhi as Satyricon (“ A Dog You Call God”, “Curb the Trend”) Infernal Stronghold has created a solid hybrid whose unique take on black metal excels with a bastardized but brutal integrity. www.forcefieldrecords.orgMike SOS
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NECROPHOBIC
SATANIC BLASPHEMIES
Excavated from the nefarious catacombs of Hell (also known as their old studio tapes), Satanic Blasphemies is a collection of three early demos from Swedish death metal squad Necrophobic. Containing nine tracks of uncompromising buzzing, this disc provides a glimpse of the formation stages of demonic death metal with a nice remastering job and in depth liner notes illuminating key aspects of this diabolical crew’s malevolent start to their mission. Resonant with a feral ferocity and bursting with an exuberant sense of evil, this disc will appeal to both genre completists and dark thrill seekers alike. www.regainrecords.comMike SOS
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Mike SOS is a frequent contributor and great friend to the Gears of Rock. Be sure to check out Mike SOS’ bands Seizure Crypt and SOS. They will rock your balls off!

Review: Megadeth – Endgame [2009]

Posted in Megadeth with tags on September 8, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon MegadethIt has been almost two and a half years since the release of United Abominations, a brutal allegory of destructive world events equipped with plenty of finger pointing to rattle your mama’s nerves. Needless to say, Dave Mustaine and company are back with an even thrashier and, once again, unapologetic lyrical effort on Endgame.

The guitars of Mustaine and Chris Broderick prove to be the best work since Rust in Peace and arguably the most compatible in Megadeth’s history.

Tracks such as “How The Story Ends” and “Head Crusher” unleash the classic headbanging euphoria that cannot be mistaken for any other group.

“Bodies” and “The Right To Go Insane” showcase the eruptive low end bass of James LoMenzo. This album’s flow is flawless. Endgame opens with a powerful instrumental titled “Dialectic Chaos” that clocks in at 2:25 of unadulterated thrash that never seems to let up.

The acoustic driven “The Hardest Part of Letting Go” refreshingly breaks up the speed later without altering the album’s spirit. The only awkward moments on the disc fall somewhere between the transition into the guitar solo of the title track (3:45) and the subsequent relentless Bush bashing which is now old news in this day and age.

Overall Endgame excels in all of the core areas of heavy music marking it another fine moment in thrash metal history –Meds

4.5 StarsMegadeth is Dave Mustaine (Vocals/Guitars), Chris Broderick (Guitars), James LoMenzo (Bass), & Shawn Drover (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Dialectic Chaos”
  2. “This Day We Fight!”
  3. “44 Minutes”
  4. “1,320′”
  5. “Bite The Hand”
  6. “Bodies”
  7. “Endgame”
  8. “The Hardest Part of Letting Go…Sealed With a Kiss”
  9. “Head Crusher”
  10. “How The Story Ends”
  11. “The Right to Go Insane”

megadeth.comamazon.comwikipedia.com