Archive for January, 2010

Review: Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls, and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool [2010]

Posted in Rob Zombie with tags on January 28, 2010 by gearsofrock

Heavy metal icon Rob Zombie delivers his fourth solo effort, and first with Roadrunner Records, Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls, and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool. While having its ups and downs, the sequel to his 1998 masterpiece retains much of the ghoulish ambiance and spookshow aura that has catapulted him into a rock and roll legend.

The best all-around tracks are “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” and the opener “Jesus Frankenstein.” “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” features an incendiary groove and beat, along with strong lyrical content, while “Jesus Frankenstein” demonstrates the growth of the band’s compositional skills. Compared to the previous album openers “Superbeast,” “Demon Speeding,” and “American Witch,” “Frankenstein” contains less of a straightforward and hard-charging assault, and opts for more musical depth with exciting and explosive changes.

From a lyrical perspective, “Werewolf, Baby” harnesses this album’s most classic and premium lines such as, “I’m a monster/ Can I come over?/ Some kind of demon/ to get you screaming.”

For the great graveyard programming and orchestration that many fans missed out on Educated Horses, “The Man Who Laughs” will please the Zombie purists. This closing track also features an extended drum solo from Tommy Clufetos who at one point attempts to provide you with a “Moby Dick” experience.

Unless you have been living under a tombstone, you have already been exposed to the two singles, “What?” and “Sick Bubble Gum.” And yes, these are the catchiest tunes of the album despite “What’s?” sometimes irritating “uh huh, uh huh, uh huh…”

There are several tracks that leave the listener with a mixed taste. For example, “Cease to Exist” is half annoying-half bad ass, which is most likely due to the vocals sounding forced and restrained.

John 5 offers good guitar riffs on “Burn,” but unfortunately is accompanied by hokey Jonathan Davis-esque vocal-play. I want to love the Sabbathy guitar riff in “Virgin Witch,” but its familiarity (Clutch? Down?) makes me feel a bit uneasy.

One of the blandest songs on the record is the one with the most interesting title, “Death and Destiny Inside the Dream Factory.” It plays out more as an album filler. However, the lyrical freestyle breaks are absolutely sick and most likely the reason why this song made the cut.

Even though “Mars Needs Women” contains a powerful acoustic guitar intro before morphing into a catchy headbanger, the overly-repetitive hook pulls it to the duller side.

One thing is for sure on Hellbilly Deluxe 2, Zombie has his best backup band to date in terms of song arrangements and group chemistry. Does that make this his best record yet? No. Does this album feel like a followup to the 1998 classic? Yes and no. Does it outshine Educated Horses and represent a return to Rob Zombie’s original form? Absolutely—and that is what makes Hellbilly 2 so important.

Rob Zombie is Rob Zombie (Vocals), John 5 (Guitars), Piggy D (Bass), & Tommy Clufetos (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Jesus Frankenstein”
  2. “Sick Bubblegum”
  3. “What?”
  4. “Mars Needs Women”
  5. “Werewolf, Baby”
  6. “Virgin Witch”
  7. “Death and Destiny Inside a Dream Factory”
  8. “Burn”
  9. “Cease to Exist”
  10. “Werewolf Women of the SS”
  11. “The Man Who Laughs”

amazon.comofficial sitewikipedia.com

Concert Review: Rob Zombie live at Hammerstein Ballroom December 1, 2009

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Review: Charred Walls of the Damned – Charred Walls of the Damned [2010]

Posted in Charred Walls Of The Damned with tags on January 27, 2010 by gearsofrock

Will 2010 be the strongest year of the decade for metal music? Typically, I try to refrain from being overly optimistic—and try to exercise some degree of caution—when making bold or what may seem as premature predictions. However, 2010 continues to amaze me with monstrous metal offerings; only several weeks into the new year and several seemingly landmark albums have been dropped. Charred Walls of the Damned continues this wonderful streak with a nine-track blitzkrieg of brutality on their self-titled debut.

The sound produced by Charred Walls of the Damned features an exceptional understanding of the classical methodology of heavy metal. By combining and highlighting the best components of thrash, power, and progressive this quasi-supergroup delivers a punishing assortment of songs, such as “Blood on Wood” and the opening track and first single “Ghost Town.”

Leading this effort is the percussive talent of Howard Stern personality Richard Christy, providing the band with an ever-important strong backbone. Not to say the vocals of the legendary Tim “Ripper” Owens are second-rate in Charred Walls of the Damned; his operatic range is an absolute necessity and priceless asset to the group.

Performing on the bass guitar is long time technical metal veteran Steve DiGiorgio while well-established metal producer Jason Suecoff provides the predatory lead guitar work.

The nine-track length of the album is ideal as the ferocity of the record is never given the chance to let up. This is a very classy move that even experienced bands forget to practice.

While the first half of the record crushes your balls in, some of the deadliest assaults are saved for the end (“The Darkest Eyes,” “Manifestations,” “Fear in the Sky”).

“In a World so Cruel” comes the closest to slowing down the album with its somewhat ballad-styled framework, that is until the progressive mastery sets in during the extended intro. It is on this track in which DiGiorgio’s work shines.

Charred Walls of the Damned is an excellent album overall. Christy may want to consider leaving Stern for a full-time supporting tour and Owens should probably make Charred his current primary focus. I cannot wait to see what 2010 brings us next…keep the madness coming!

Charred Walls of the Damned is Tim “Ripper” Owens (Vocals), Jason Suecof (Guitars), Steve Digiorgio (Bass), & Richard Christy (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Ghost Town”
  2. “From the Abyss”
  3. “Creating Our Machine”
  4. “Blood on Wood”
  5. “In a World So Cruel”
  6. “Manifestations”
  7. “Voices Within Walls”
  8. “The Darkest Eyes”
  9. “Fear in the Sky”

amazon.comOfficial SiteWikipedia.com

Review: Fear Factory – Mechanize [2010]

Posted in Fear Factory with tags on January 23, 2010 by gearsofrock

Early this year it is becoming increasingly apparent that 2010 is going to be the year of Fear. With the long-awaited and highly anticipated return of guitarist Dino Cazares to Fear Factory and the addition of the brilliant drumming of legendary Gene Hoglan to the group, Mechanize lands in early contention for album of the year.

Mechanize is the heaviest and most aggressive record from Fear Factory to date. Vocalist Burton C. Bell offers his ballsiest work ever while keeping his signature melodic grace in balance.

The intense seven-string (or is he up to eight now?) rhythmic patterns of Cazares leave the listener with facial blisters and a battered-in skull—surely, you must have heard the first single “Powershifter” by now—exemplified on all ten tracks, but especially prominent on the opening title track, “Oxidizer,” and “Fear Campaign.”

In addition to all of the brutal death magic displayed by the band, “Christploitation” presents creepy keyboard programming to coincide with Hoglan’s insane double bass work; don’t just respect Hoglan, worship him.

“Final Exit” is the aptly titled closer to Mechanize and the most ambitious song on the album, clocking in at approximately eight minutes. Fear Factory utilizes this extended time to employ every tool in their arsenal; Bell’s twisted death-gruntled vocal melodies, Cazares’ quick right hand (not a masturbation reference!), Rhys Fulber’s atmospheric programming, Byron Strouds’ solid bass-work (finally allowed to record his own bass tracks after Christian Olde Wolber’s departure), and of course Hoglan.

It is great for metal music that Fear Factory is back and performing at such a professional and iconic level. For all of you that bow down to likes of Slipknot, Disturbed, and Static-X, you best remember and recognize that  Fear Factory was here first, making it possible for your bands to exist -Meds

Fear Factory is Burton C. Bell (Vocals), Dino Cazares (Guitars), Byron Stroud (Bass), Rhys Fulber (Programming), & Gene Hoglan (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Mechanize”
  2. “Industrial Discipline”
  3. “Fear Campaign”
  4. “Powershifter”
  5. “Christploitation”
  6. “Oxidizer”
  7. “Controlled Demolition”
  8. “Designing the Enemy”
  9. “Metallic Division”
  10. “Final Exit”

Buy at Amazon.comWikipedia.com

Track Review: Airbourne “No Way But The Hard Way” No Guts, No Glory [2010]

Posted in Airbourne with tags on January 16, 2010 by gearsofrock

If you dug the tunes from Runnin’ Wild then you will love the latest single from Airbourne, because “No Way But The Hard Way” is identical in feel to “Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast.”

AC/DC modeled guitar riffs are combined with stomp rock beats to ensure a head banging good time. However, in order to truly appreciate this band, you must take in one of their live shows.

The band’s recorded material consists of great stuff, but like any AC/DC album, can easily be played out –Meds

Airbourne is Joel O’Keefe (Vocals/Guitars), David Roads (Guitar), Justin Street (Bass), & Ryan O’Keefe (Drums).

No Guts, No Glory due out February 23, 2010

SOS Metal Reviews: Nile “Those Whom The Gods Detest,” Scar Symmetry, Slayer, and more…

Posted in Nile, SOS Metal Update with tags on January 8, 2010 by gearsofrock

NILE: THOSE WHOM THE GODS DETEST

Those Whom The Gods Detest is the sixth studio endeavor from South Carolina’s technical death metal mavens Nile. Blisteringly brutal as previous works while maintaining the band’s trademarked Middle Eastern influence both lyrically and musically, Nile’s flurries of dastardly twin guitars and consistently jaw-dropping percussion work remain the envy of every death metal outfit, as this band’s inimitable prowess raises the bar of extreme metal once again for other bands to try and attain (“Kem Khefa Kheshef”). Fortifying their colossal attack on the cranium by interjecting smatterings of memorable vocal lines that you will surprisingly find yourself shouting in the shower (“Kafir”) while implementing a fair share of dynamic downshifts and mid tempo chugging riffs into their ruthless arsenal to assist listeners to latch on a bit easier than before (“4th Arra of Dagon,” “Iskander Dhul Karnon”), Nile ascends to the forefront of the metal world with a stunning 10-track display of renewed aggression tweaked with just enough differences to stand out way ahead of their peers and slightly ahead of their already lauded catalog. amazon.comwww.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS

THE ERUPTORS: SEDUCE AND DESTROY

Explosive UK punk troupe The Eruptors return with a scalding 14-track offering on Seduce And Destroy, playing their raucous brand of punk rock as if it were a collegiate-sized tutorial in kicking ass. Despite a couple of these tracks appearing on this tumultuous trio’s previous albums, they contain a similar devil may care attitude that fits right in with the new material’s sinewy swagger and gritty traditional feel, completing the band’s mission to rock your face completely off of your skull. Meshing infectious bits of street punk (“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!), chunks of rock ‘n roll rabble rousing, and a volatility of something freshly escaped from the garage (“Tow the Line”) spiked with a newfound bad boy hard rock spirit, the down and dirty amalgamation employed by The Eruptors simultaneously channels the essence of Cock Sparrer, The Misfits, Motley Crue, and Motorhead to create a supercharged sojourn chock full of a true sense of danger that proudly proclaims this act as the real deal. www.theeruptors.50megs.comMike SOS

MR. DEATH: DETACHED FROM LIFE

Unbelievably, no band used this name before in death metal prior to this Swedish (surprise) squad of hardened veterans, as Mr. Death is a pretty basic yet effective moniker. This quintet’s 11-track debut (recorded at the seminal Sunlight Studio) prescribes a brazen death metal assault that captures almost to the point of paying tribute the definitive old school sound championed by the likes of Dismember, early Entombed and Grave. There’s nothing flashy or excessive to be found on this terse and thunderous release, as songs like “Black Blood”. “Misery’s Womb” and “Combined Agony” exhibit the furiously fuzzy ferocity straight outta Stockholm whose gruesome grooves and slash and burn style rings out with familiar yet ass-kicking conviction. www.agoniarecords.comMike SOS

SCAR SYMMETRY: DARK MATTER DIMENSIONS

Swedish metal unit Scar Symmetry return after lead singer Christian Alvestam’s abrupt departure with not one, but two singers in tow on their fourth album Dark Matter Dimensions. This now sextet’s 11-track offering showcases an outfit who keep things moving along without skipping a beat despite their inner turmoil, as both new growler Roberth “Robban” Karlsson and clean throat Lars Palmqvist suit the bill and make a respectable clean/harsh vocal duo while the technically gifted musicians behind them hammer away with the mechanically-inclined complex mix of power metal and melodic death metal with emphasis on guitar gymnastics (“Radiant Strain”) that they’ve been lauded for since their inception (Sculptor Void,” “The Consciousness Eaters”). While Alvestam’s absence is apparent, the new guys do an adequate job of assisting Scar Symmetry rebound with a solid if somewhat unspectacular offering whose clinical feel and formulaic approach stays the course, not really gaining ground but picking up right where previous release Holographic Universe left off. amazon.comwww.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS

RAISE THE RED LANTERN: RAISE THE RED LANTERN

The latest album by Chicago quartet Raise the Red Lantern is an eponymous eight-track offering ripe with shredding metal chops, prolonged prog-metal jams with the right balance of bombast and grandiosity, and a off-kilter melodic edge that could be passed as merely a surrogate for acts such as Baroness or Pelican in haste. Upon closer inspection however, this unit’s 80’s thrash metal roots become apparent thanks to some gnarly guitarwork as well as a homage-like bass solo seemingly to Cliff Burton (“Deliver Us/ Deliverance”), while a predilection to intertwine progressive sludge metal a la Kylesa with New Wave of American Heavy Metal like Killswitch Engage can also be found smashing its way within tracks like “Oracle”. Comprised by members of Yakuza and Emperor Custom Cabinets and recorded by Windy City metal guru Sanford Parker, Raise the Red Lantern features an impressive cast of hands on deck whose penchant for pushing the envelope falls in line with many of the bands they’re constantly compared to, significantly spicing up their sumptuous stoner rock stew. www.atalossrecordings.comMike SOS

WHITE MICE: GANJAHOVAHDOSE

Shocking Providence, RI outfit White Mice get as whacked-out as possible without losing musicality on their latest release (the band’s 20th) Ganjahovadose. This oddball trio’s 10-track smorgasbord of reckless sonic excess is not for the squeamish or prudish, as this act’s crude and unrepentant demeanor via the defamatory album artwork aiming its rage against religion and song titles like “Placenta the Crotchtower” are every bit extreme as the hypnotic stoner rock pounding meets cold industrial metal clangs and bangs thrown into their chaotic centrifuge of metallic venom (“The Narcomacaul-eeekalcoholicost”). Assaulting eardrums with an intriguing setup of gargantuan bass and drum rhythmic explosions, destructive electronic manipulations, and humorous dialogue samples without a trace of guitar allows the incessant harsh barrages of wild and warped grooves (“The Ape-Caca-Lips”) to infiltrate hips before scrambling headspaces. Known just as much for having an outrageous stage show where the trio performs in horror movie mice men garb as they are for their diabolical black metal vitriol meets ambitious anarcho-punk rock musical output, this eccentric unit’s dark noise rock aesthetics and sludge-ridden evilness reveals a startling wealth of tightly-wound depravity, fueling their technically intense soundtrack’s mission to make a stark impression. www.20buckspin.comMike SOS

HANDFUL OF HATE: YOU WILL BLEED

Handful of Hate are a blasphemous black metal band from Italy whose fifth disc You Will Bleed doles out a relentless demonic assault dripping with evil intent. While the unit’s malevolent rhythmic strikes, atmosphere draped in despair, and piercingly glacial riffs are diabolical and durable, those fully immersed in the world of darkness can find this squad’s by the book song structures a bit too commonplace, as it sticks to a tried and true established gameplan a bit too stringently to overly excite an already tough to please underground metal sect. Nonetheless, this band blend of violating lyrics and volatile vocals with shards of sinewy guitar riffs explodes with serpentine fury and work to get the blood pumping, while the percussion’s hardware abuse is definitely a cut above the normal black metal mixed bag. You Will Bleed isn’t going to change your miserable existence, but it is definitely worth a spin if you’re looking for a reliable source for expressing your hatred for the world by. amazon.comwww.cruzdelsurerecords.comMike SOS

EXEMPTION: HARMONY OF THE SPHERES

Childhood buds and Long Island trio Exemption return with a six-track encounter entitled HARMONY OF THE SPHERES, a robust release that thrusts this unit’s kicking and screaming cosmic blues metal into parts unknown. Featuring a healthy dollop of wailing guitars whose modern shred and classic soul mix one part Hendrix and one part Dimebag, a restless chameleon-esque frontman comfortably fluctuating between punk yowls and barbaric wildman screams, rhythms from all walks of heavy music from Warped Tour punk to cock rock to freewheeling rawk to sludge metal, and a penchant for penning unorthodox compositions (“I Wanna Die”), Exemption provide a bountiful cornucopia of aggression garnished with lush dynamics you’d expect from Muse (“Bleeding Blue”), an impressive sense of hard rock history, suspenseful songwriting, and triumphant genre juxtapositions. Exemption’s black-lit world of wonder renders a solid collection of multi-influenced off-kilter metal that routinely takes roundtrip galactic voyages into the void. www.mtheadrecords.comMike SOS

HYPOCRISY: VIRUS

Hypocrisy touched down from their recent forays into space long enough to compose a batch of volatile tracks reacquainting the masses with their early traditional death metal feel and the end result is VIRUS, arguably the band’s most punishing album to date. This veteran Swedish unit features a revamped lineup under the guide of acclaimed metal producer and performer Peter Tagtgren that adroitly balances melodic mega-chorus gloss, menacing modern death metal roars, an abundance of nifty guitar leads and a decisively more raw vocal delivery cramming evil yet technical metal into “Warpath” and “Compulsive Psycho” with an impious immediacy. Seemingly more varied than prior offerings, Hypocrisy’s disparate tempo-shifts go from raging black metal to moody Pink Floyd without losing an ounce of brutality, as the double kick drum remains busy and the guitars ring out sinister throughout. This 11-track installment’s amalgamation of alternating aggressive atmospheres showcases a surprisingly broad range of death metal derivations for Hypocrisy more akin with the music Tagtgren produces from behind the board with a heaping helping of the stellar solos and contagious heaviness ardent followers have grown to love, making this release essential for diehards and something interesting to check out for the casual metal spirit.   www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS

TONIGHT WE RIDE: OF THE WEST

Raucous Montana trio Tonight We Ride play unapologetically over the top bar punk that recalls straightforward and snappy yet loose cowpunk at its best and sappy punk rock at its worst, falling somewhere between impassioned and clichéd on their 11-track Of The West. Setting tales of drinking and carousing to a countrified rock ‘n roll beat that channels everyone from Blink-182 and Offspring to Supersuckers and Dropkick Murphys, Tonight We Ride’s inebriated rowdiness assures an abundance of frat boy bonding sessions and hell-bent for bender kicked up heels by the dozens, as their simple yet effective melodies, cool interludes (“Prelude to Hell on Earth”) real life drama inspired lyrics (some of which beg for audience call and response), and scratchy vocal projections give this disc an edgy Against Me quality that trumps the serious case of modern rock redundancy that manages to seep through . While there are a few cuts that emit a blatantly unoriginal quality (“For Richie Rowe”), this squad’s passionate pursuit of storytelling via their modern prairie punk approach contains an outlaw rawness and backbeat swagger to keep the party hopping, the dance floor busy, and the drinks flowing. amazon.comwww.myspace.com/twrmtMike SOS

WIZARDRY: WIZARDRY

Buzzworthy Brooklyn metal troupe Wizardry proudly recreates the barbaric pomp and circumstance of the pre-hair metal ‘80s era on their crunchy yet ominous eponymous seven-track affair. Steeped heavily in doom and classic metal genres, this troupe’s chalice-raising ruckus is influenced by the likes of Mercyful Fate, Celtic Frost, early solo Ozzy, and Candlemass in both musical style and dramatic feel. Wizardry’s well-versed sinister stew packs an authentic punch whose throwback fur and makeup exterior add a fitting texture to their music, yet easily could be mistaken as some sort of hipster irony by the uninformed. Those in the know however will totally appreciate this unit’s stark attention to metallic musical detail and comprehensive understanding on how to create a properly foreboding atmosphere necessary to pull this specific strand heavy music off correctly, a task that Wizardry nails straight away with lengthy murky instrumental interludes and oodles of histrionic effects on the guitars and vocals. Adorned with flurries of formidable guitarwork with murderous virtuoso solos and a versatile rhythm section whose boisterous presence and granite-solid chops keep the doom oozing and the thrash galloping, some may cry foul from the spectacle of it all, but Wizardry’s level of camp never surpasses their sensational musical acumen, making their quest for the metal grail one every self-respecting metal fan can respect. www.myspace.com/wizardrylivesMike SOS

DIABLO ROYALE: GREEDY DOGS

NYC quintet Diablo Royale’s latest hard-hitting effort entitled Greedy Dogs cuts to the chase and delivers a potent and polished hard rock affair. This Big Apple squad’s seven-track offering brandishes an barrage of brash guitarwork (“Beholder”), rough and ready driving rhythms and whiskey-drenched vocal soul (“Promised Land”) to comprise this circuit fave’s visceral strain of meaty melodic hard rock that keeps girl’s hips shaking and guy’s fists in the air (“Remedy”). Containing a striking balance of timeless commercial appeal and balls to the wall attitude, Diablo Royale’s blazing twin guitar assault, uncompromising crunch and down and dirty hard rock swagger captures the grittiness of their hometown with a bevy of hooks ready to rock the masses. www.diabloroyale.netMike SOS

GORGOROTH: QUANTOS POSSUNT AD SATANITATEM TRAHUNT

Known of late as much for endless legal battles and inner turmoil as their stark musical catalog, Norwegian black metal veterans Gorgoroth’s latest affair Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt puts this ever-changing revolving door lineup back at the forefront to claim the flag for despondent metal supremacy. Only guitarist Infernus remains for those with the corpsepainted lineup card at home, reforming the band with both old (notably returning ex-vocalist Pest) and new soldiers for Satan to continue the quest to spread evil across the globe. Implementing an increase in dynamics, most notably trading in the incessant hyperspeed of the Gaahl/ King Ov Hell version for a varied volatile tempo assault, this excursion executes its nefarious and nihilistic nuances with technical prowess and the classical feel of the band’s early works. Equally adept at building bonechilling atmospheres (“Rebirth”) as well as composing raging yet surprisingly melodic tunes a la Enslaved (“New Breed”), Gorgoroth’s latest collection of chilly clamor launches a message of triumph from the newly-empowered Infernus while providing longtime fans a return to form of sorts whose consistent sinister disposition carries this 35-minute experience through Hell and back. amazon.comwww.regainrecords.comMike SOS

BELPHEGOR WALPURGIS RITES: HEXENWAHN

Sacrilegious Austrian black/death metal mavens Belphegor have rapidly returned to the frontline with their latest nine tracks of nihilistic aggression titled WALPURGIS RITES: HEXENWAHN merely one year after their last offering BONDAGE GOAT ZOMBIE. This contemptuous unit wastes little time in doling out another batch of woebegone wickedness, as this particular batch of bastardized anthems is cut from the same cursed cloth in many areas and stays the course in so many ways, it may as well be labeled as part 2.  There are some alterations though, as Helmuth and company do lend their collective rasps and cackles to Satan with a greater sense of melody, showcasing the group’s demonic diatribes and fleeting rhythmic batterings spewed forth with a tumultuous tunefulness not heard on previous records. A barrage of dastardly death metal solos, churning slow riffs a la Morbid Angel and a bevy of shockingly explicit lyrics remain the core components of what makes this squad tick though, displaying an immediate evil soaked up from “Destroyer Hekate” and the utterly outrageous “Hail the New Flesh”.  Belphegor is still a band in transition, as lineup shakeups have plagued the last few excursions, yet this godless group trudges on with a trademark intensity and the bona-fide brash and scornful overtones guiding their ascent from the pits of the netherworld to concert halls worldwide.  www.nuclearblastusa.comMike SOS

TIN HUEY: BEFORE OBSCURITY: THE BUSHFLOW TAPES SMOG

The fertile rock ‘n roll soil of Ohio has brought the music world many eclectic bands through the years (no wonder it’s the home of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), and Tin Huey is no exception, as this post-punk meets new wave by way of artsy rock outfit’s collection of live and studio recordings entitled BEFORE OBSCURITY: THE BUSHFLOW TAPES demonstrates. Cutting their teeth in the same scene as bands as Pere Ubu and Devo, Tin Huey took full advantage of the vast resources at their dispose from the funky use of rock horns and clever female/ male tradeoffs to an underlying pop sensibility and quirky sense of humor propelling fearless streams of musical explorations. Tin Huey never caught a big break besides wooing critics, ultimately falling flat in the commercial market and fading out of national favor back into the regional circuit. Thankfully Smog Veil picked up on this Steely Dan by way of Zappa 14-track release of odds and sods chock full of the type of forward-thinking compositions, college level creativity and off-balance atmospheric shifts that display a band way ahead of its time worth checking out for those who enjoy rock music complex with a shot of strange. www.smogveilrecords.comMike SOS

GAMA BOMB: TALES FROM THE GRAVE

While the third release by Irish thrash metal troupe Gama Bomb album contains a solid array of well-done retro thrash, the bigger story regarding Tales From The Grave is that the entire available is available to anyone (providing they provide their email address) on the web absolutely free. No red tape, no kidding. Label Earache Records (check out their official site for info) takes a risk here that can be viewed as either revolutionary or completely asinine, but regardless of the business arrangement between band and company, this breakneck 12-track offering fires out endless streams of whiplash riffs, lightning fast rhythms and histrionic screams that efficiently emulate the thrash metal onslaught of yesteryear. Liberally applying methods and practices from the likes of Overkill, Exodus, Gwar, and Nuclear Assault to compile their chaotic mix of heaviness and speed, this unit’s fantasy land meets sci-fi by way of B-movie kitsch lyrical subject matter delivered with an over the top vocal performance gives Gama Bomb a whimsical edge that helps keep the fun flowing, even when things get a bit redundant or too close to their influence’s comfort. If you dig Municipal Waste and have worn out your Violence cassettes (yes, some people still have them), then get into the 21st century and download this album and be ready for this release’s frantic frolic to thrash you until your neck is sore and you can’t thrash no more. amazon.comwww.earache.comMike SOS

FIGHT AMP: MANNERS AND PRAISE

New Jersey punk metal trio Fight Amp increase their intensity threshold tenfold on sophomore effort Manners And Praise. Anchored by a pronounced bass assault whose bombastic offerings propel a cathartic hardcore riff-fest falling in between Unsane, The Hope Conspiracy, and a kaleidoscopic blend of the dissonant end of the Am Rep repertoire, this unsettling unit’s viscous viciousness intertwines Hessian hardcore heft with syrupy sludge metal, developing a garishly loud, noisy and ugly 13-track din whose foundation-shaking sonic attack defiles virtually any structure that unwisely tries to contain it. Armed with a chugging metallic undercurrent while wound with an explosive anxiety-stricken aggression thanks to a dominant drum and bass rhythmic drive, Fight Amp’s complete caustic coarseness bridges the gap between metal, hardcore, and punk with an abrasive abundance of seething anger, making this disc a perfect accompaniment while traipsing along the path of destruction. www.translationlossrecords.comMike SOS

GODS GREEN EARTH: THREE SONG SAMPLER

NYC quartet Gods Green Earth dishes out a dastardly dollop of debauchery courtesy of the squad’s three-song sampler. Not for the easily offended, this unit’s bawdy blend of stoner metal shuffle, heavy metal guitar hero-dom, and cringe-worthy and racy lyrical content fleshes out the best of the worst in rock ‘n roll excesses, pulling no punches while comprising an outlandish Clutch meets Pantera by way of 2 Live Crew vibe perfect for a wild night out on the town.  Crude and crass yet totally kick ass thanks to a workmanlike rhythm section, whiskey soaked vocals, and blazing fretwork with a live show as decadent as their songs suggest, Gods Green Earth brings out a Bacchanalian spirit whose rough around the edges stature embodies rock ‘n roll at its most primal. www.myspace.com/godsgreenearthMike SOS

WALKEN: WALKEN

On their 11-track eponymous effort, Bay Area quartet Walken offers a tumultuous ride through an array of metallic genres, comprising a forward-thinking yet hellacious hybrid sound. Combining an ingrained Death Angel meets Testament thrash metal know-how with gallant swigs of epic metal, nimble classic metal interludes, soaring instrumental passages, a smoldering death ‘n roll churn, and jagged shards of punk metal sludgery, this crew’s versatile crossover metal fricassee employs a multitude of atmospheres from doom-laden to d-beat, ultimately doling out an adventurous listen chock full of top-notch twin guitarwork, a powerhouse percussive presence, and massive waves of brazen bottom-end bass striking a middle ground somewhere in between Intronaut, Between the Buried and Me, and Baroness. Soulful, heavy and raw, this foursome skillfully delivers a well-versed form of savagery with a tenacious technical edge while retaining an aggressive undercurrent of seething metal and hardcore, keeping everything just askew enough to warrant multiple listens in order to catch all of the dynamic sweetness Walken brazenly injected into their sophomore release. www.walkenroll.comMike SOS

DEVIN TOWNSEND: ADDICTED

Eschewing the lifestyle demands of the album, tour, and repeat cycle of metal warrior-dom by disbanding his musical projects, enigmatic guru of heaviness Devin Townsend took his time away from the grind to recharge, reconnect, and enjoy his family. Now achieving a balance which included getting fully clean and sober, an inevitable comeback was realized, and latest collection Addicted is the second installment of the four-part series of albums by this prolific metal artist, showcasing his newfound musical paradigm’s direction. Discernibly throbbing and upbeat throughout yet fortified with the trademark Townsend soul-stomping wall of sound (think more Sevendust and Static X structures with parts of Swedish melodic metal strewn in), this 10-track disc’s affable approach flexes its melodic muscle with an electric energy that radiates an buoyancy illuminated by vocals from the stellar Anneke van Giersbergen of The Gathering, who lends her unmistakable charm and grace to a surprising majority of this affair, most notably on the pop-metal sensation “Bend It Like Bender!” and the rousing closer “Awake!”. While ending song titles with exclamation points seems a bit pretentious, it further accelerates an overall feeling of celebration, acting as an extra ingredient that assists the shared exhilaration of the heavy guitar, massive keyboard presence, and tremendous production value smorgasbord. Never predictable, Townsend’s flowing creativity coupled with a focused sense of clarity warrants the excitement that resonates from this album, giving adventurous metal fans everywhere something to sink their teeth into. amazon.comwww.hevydevy.comMike SOS

RUBY BULLET: SPLITTING HEIRS

Avant-garde NYC metal duo Ruby Bullet return with a complex and compelling five-track EP entitled Splitting Heirs.  This unit refutes traditional song structures in favor of an unorthodox fusion of artsy left of center heaviness that maintains an oppressive metallic density and a deep seeded sense of darkness while blasting off into advanced musical explorations (“One”). Thanks to a flawlessly fluid bass and drum connection known for its quirky time signatures, the band’s rollicking rumblings and sinewy shape-shiftings drive cuts like “Machine” with the pronounced rhythmic presence on full wallop, combining a startling blend of blunt force and skilled musical interplay. The pair’s odd cluster of funk, jazz, Goth, and prog metal fronted by an edgy female melodic vocal once again delivers an adventurous selection that simultaneously summons the cathartic powers of Tool, Led Zeppelin, Rush and Tori Amos, effectively fusing dynamics and dramatics.  www.rubybullet.comMike SOS

DALI’S LLAMA: RAW IS REAL

Independent desert rock quartet Dali’s Llama make good in their quest for a heavier sound on their latest stoner rock smattering Raw Is Real. This unit’s eighth self-released offering features ex-Kyuss bassist and desert rock guru Scott Reeder behind the board once again, resulting in a sharper yet discernibly more snarling presentation of this brazen squad’s amalgamation of unadulterated attitude, swampy smoothness, galactic guitar missions, and robust rhythm section phrasings. Thanks to a gruffer vocal showing and a deliberately array of darker riffs and melodies coming to the surface (“Grump”, “Raw is Real”, “Eve’s Navel”), this 10-track endeavor’s accentuated air of aggression champions a rash of noticeably heftier tones yet Dali’s Llama’s staple set of hypnotic groove goodness, free-form jam sensibilities and syrupy sweetness (“Always”, “Fluids”) remain intact, fortifying this band’s viscous and visceral foundation while rounding out arguably the most well-crafted album this genuinely passionate act has released thus far. www.dalisllamarecords.comMike SOS

ICHABOD: 2012

Daunting Massachusetts metal squad Ichabod celebrate its 10th year as a despondent doom-laden musical force with an appropriately labeled eight-track ode to the year the world is supposed to end entitled 2012. This crafty quartet creates waves of cosmically mighty riffs and meaty melancholic meanderings that dole out a smorgasbord of stoner-metal fury not unlike an amalgamation of the superlative sludge of Eyehategod and the freewheeling ferocity of Today is the Day ripe with heavy 70’s jam-rock jamboree sensibilities (just check out the flute in “Gentlemen of the Choir”), a teeming Clutch-like confidence and oodles of psychedelic tricks and treats, going as far to include a sprawling yet electric 10-minute sonic touch-up of Pink Floyd’s “Nile Song” to give an indication of this collective’s intent to explore into the outer limits. Bolstered by swirls of black hole melodies that fall somewhere between Crowbar and Acid Bath carefully stacked to form an unorthodox yet durable left of center metal foundation able to hold attention spans through song lengths that creep past the five-minute mark, this haunting offering provides a foreboding stoner metal soundtrack to the apocalypse, laying down the blueprint to humanity’s last hurrah with a chilling tone gravely burying the planet in a cloud of smoke through a viscous wall of sound. www.myspace.com/ichabodMike SOS

DOA: KINGS OF PUNK, HOCKEY AND BEER

Canadian punk rock veterans DOA cut to the chase on their latest release Kings of Punk, Hockey And Beer. This 13-track affair, featuring many previously released tracks by this staple act, ties together their loves via some clever liner notes into a cohesive raucous sing a long collection perfect to get incoherent by. If you can’t tell a slap shot from a slap chop or prefer bubbly to brew, you’re best off skipping this one, but if you’re a diehard blue-seater or enjoy a pint or 10, there’s little here you can deny stomping your feet and getting your drink on to.  www.suddendeath.comMike SOS

THE RED CHORD: FED THROUGH THE TEETH MACHINE

The Red Chord leans toward a back to basics approach chock full of unabashed savagery on the group’s latest 12-track offering Fed Through The Teeth Machine. Interchanging a bulk of the experimental elements from prior record Prey For Eyes for an amplified amount of gutwrenching grindcore goodness and destructive death metal (“Embarrassment Legacy”), this adventurous unit has significantly increased its level of intensity beyond the usual catastrophic noise-laden rawness taken from a multitude of extreme metal genres stance. Thanks to furious fits of spastic guitars equally in tune with Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse (“Demoralizer”) and schizophrenic drums doctored with arrays of insane intermittent time signature switches (“Face Area Solution”), this Massachusetts metal machine celebrates 10-years of metal service (and first release as a quartet) with its spiraled out of control dissonance bolstered with melodic progressive metal passages (“Hour of Rats”, “Sleepless Nights in the Compound”) and an advanced sense of muscular musical technicality leading their off-kilter charge. www.metalblade.netMike SOS

SLAYER: WORLD PAINTED BLOOD

The latest release by Slayer finds the thrash metal titans as ferocious as ever, pulling off a convincing return to fleet-footed glory on the 11-track World Painted Blood. Armed with chaotic spurts of aggression (“Psychopathy Red”, “Unit 731”), violent hardcore punk tendencies (“Public Display of Dismemberment”) and haunting mid-tempo menacings (“Playing With Dolls”), this disc recaptures the classic feel of Seasons in the Abyss and Reign in Blood in clever yet familiar inflections, fully supporting the evil aura concocted by the dual shredding of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman ripping through Tom Araya’s raging vocal flurries and punishing bass poundings and Dave Lombardo’s blasts of masterful percussive madness. Fueled by a seething anger audible in Araya’s impressive impassioned grab you by the jugular vocal performance and the overall rapid-fire musical output, Slayer proves to still be a measuring stick for the extreme music world by laying down a triumphant album after two decades plus of sticking to their guns and remaining a dark and diabolical underground metal monster that consistently churn out slabs of dependably depraved heaviness. www.slayer.netMike 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!