Archive for June, 2010

Nza’s Review: Against Me! – White Crosses [2010]

Posted in Against Me on June 29, 2010 by gearsofrock

Two Albums For The Working Class Punk Out There (Part II)

Ever come across an album that you can listen to from start to end, then repeat the process over and over? I’ve had the privilege of getting not one but two in the same week. The Gaslight Anthem’s American Slang and Against Me! White Crosses are two 5 star albums that I’ve been listening to in rotation since getting them.

White Crosses harvests the anger but in a good way. “White Crosses on the church lawns, I wanna smash them all”  is howled on the first track. Now taking a step back and really thinking about that line, Against Me! are not atheist or heathens, they are just attacking organized religion: the real evil.

The first single, “I Was A Teenage Antichrist,” makes you remember how we were all young once and how trendy trends tend to get, and how we realize that they are all bullshit and lies after a while. “Because of The Shame” has a beautiful piano opener accompanied by a great “Woooo” sing along that gets you at first listen. It’s about burying an old girlfriend and trying to move on with “my name tatto’d into your skin.”

“High Pressure Low”  has so many words and it truely is amazing how you can rock to a song with the following line: “7 missiles flying over the Sea of Japan. Tales of feral children sleeping in wolf dens. And the pious preacher commands. I hold my breath in anticipation.” Hahhaha. It rocks , oh yes it does!

“Rapid Decompression” is a great mosh pit (do those things still exsist) tune. Against Me! like Gaslight Anthem also have great harmonies as well. I see alot of influences here ranging from Tom Petty to Bruce Springsteen to The Clash. You wont be disappointed -NZA

Against Me! is Tom Gabel (Vocals/Guitars), James Bowman (Guitars), Andrew Seward (Bass), & George Rebelo (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “White Crosses”
  2. “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”
  3. “Because of the Shame”
  4. “Suffocation”
  5. “We’re Breaking Up”
  6. “High Pressure Low”
  7. “Ache With Me”
  8. “Spanish Moss”
  9. “Rapid Decompression”
  10. “Bamboo Bones”
  11. “One By One”
  12. “Bob Dylan Dream”
  13. “Lehigh Acres”
  14. “Bitter Divisions”

Nza’s Review: Gaslight Anthem – American Slang [2010]

Posted in Gaslight Anthem on June 29, 2010 by gearsofrock

Two Albums For The Working Class Punk Out There (Part I)

Ever come across an album that you can listen to from start to end, then repeat the process over and over? I’ve had the privilege of getting not one but two in the same week. The Gaslight Anthem’s American Slang and Against Me! White Crosses are two 5 star albums that I’ve been listening to in rotation since getting them.

I’ll start with American Slang. Gaslight Anthem just plays the right hooks and gives us a great rock album clocking in just under 33 minutes. Kicking this jem off is “American Slang.” The build up in the first measure gets you hooked and soon there after, GLA cuts you to ribbons with a song that Generation Now can grasp and associate with.

Now think if you mixed Young Springsteen and Mellencamp with a little polished Social Distortion you get  ” Bring It On.” I don’t understand how a band could give you such a catchy chours and amazing harmonies in 3 minutes. GLA pulls it off 10 times because I kid you not, this album does not have one bad song on it.

Part barbershop quartet, part awesome Tom Petty “The Diamond Church Street Choir” gives you the chills posing the question “Who does it better than we do?” At this point, I cant answer that. They are killing it and this album is simply amazing.

“Boxer” reminds of a John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown circa Eddie and The Cruisers tune, and personally they rock even harder than they ever did. Just go get this because I promise you, this is going to be the next BIG thing -NZA

Gaslight Anthem is Brian Fallon (Vocals/Guitars), Alex Rosamilia (Guitars), Alex Levine (Bass), & Benny Horowitz (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “American Slang”
  2. “Stay Lucky”
  3. “Bring it On”
  4. “The Diamond Church Street Choir”
  5. “The Queen of Lower Chelsea”
  6. “Orphans”
  7. “Boxer”
  8. “Old Haunts”
  9. “The Spirit of Jazz”
  10. “We Did It When We Were Young”

SOS Metal Reviews: Culted, The Scorpions, The Forecast, and more…

Posted in SOS Metal Update on June 27, 2010 by gearsofrock


Destroying with a dastardly mix of doom metal for the digital age, the three-parts Canadian and one part Swedish quartet Culted return with a foreboding four-track affair OF DEATH AND RITUAL. This stopgap release by this unit who rumor has it have never ALL been in the same room at the same time doles out an arduous array of skull-crushing heaviness complete with a meticulously concocted barrage of sprawling tempos luring listeners into their chilling chamber of despair. Laden with an abundance of alluring yet disturbing atmospheres while enriched with lush instrumentation and a suffocating vibe that simultaneously channels Sunn 0))) and Celtic Frost, Culted latest offering yields a blackened blend of nightmarishly bleak metal excellence whose pointed attack assaults the psyche for days on end. -Mike SOS


Exploratory German metal troupe The Ocean returns with a decisively mellowed-out vibe on the collective’s latest forward thinking 10-track endeavor (the first half of yet another double album from this prolific unit) entitled HELIOCENTRIC. Never ones to shy away from thinking out of the box, the topic of Christianity from its influence on the medieval period to its relevance in the modern world is what this ambitious crew tackles this time around, projecting a powerful poignancy both lyrically and musically. Imbuing a noticeably increased influence of the likes of Cynic and Opeth at the few interludes that find the outfit shifting into overdrive while siding with a piano-heavy and highly-orchestrated instrumentation approach overall, this disc’s luxuriously melancholic overtones come at the expense of the band’s decision to subdue their sinuous sludge metal sound and all but eliminate a fierce sonic crush in lieu of constant streams of apathetic ambiance. New lead singer Loic Rossetti’s displays a stellar range that follows dynamic shifts well while the rich compositions exert the softer side of post-metal with an adroit sense of gracefulness that allows tender piano and vocal deliveries to resonate with stark conviction. Those familiar with this constantly evolving band should proceed with caution however, as the soundscape has been significantly altered and is a much different release than expected, an aspect bound to turn off those expecting something similar to previous outings. Yet what HELIOCENTRIC lacks in syrupy density it makes up for by producing a sleek atmosphere that is fearless enough to veer off the grid to capture raw emotion from the other end of the scope. -Mike SOS


Rebellious NYC rockers TSI (a.k.a. The Situationist International) crank out 10 cuts laden with angst-ridden rock ‘n roll righteousness on HANGING BY A THREAD. Mashing up the best parts of old school punk, hooky hair metal and cleverly crafted pop to form an unrestrained strand of danger perfect to bust out to keep the party going all night long, this Big Apple collective features only two full-time members yet relies on the rich NYC underground rock community to fill in the gaps, truly making their uncompromising efforts a Gotham City family affair. Throwing in a barrage of Guitar Hero-ready antics while employing a vocal sneer that falls somewhere between Iggy Pop, Warrior Soul and Bang Tango, TSI display a hard-edged AC/DC by way of Dead Boys delivery that celebrates the unhinged nature of rock right down to its chaotic core. -Mike SOS


Finnish symphonic folk metal clan Kivimetsan Druidi blend traditional musical ideals from their homeland with soaring modern Euro metal and operatic imprints on BETRAYAL JUSTICE REVENGE. This nine-track affair boasts an epic quality similar to the like of Nightwish and Finntroll thanks to utilizing keyboard-drenched and traded off female/male beauty and the beast nuances that, when intertwined with a smattering of thrash metal speed and classic metal precision, stir up a theatrical emotional range that does both the metal realm and their native land well. Chock full of elegant interludes and choice moments of aggression, Kivimetsan Druidi showcase a brand of melodic metal with an Old World twist that should leave fans of the genre satisfied. -Mike SOS


After a pioneering four-decade career in rock, German metal icons Scorpions are calling it a day, and do so in top form on their farewell offering STING IN THE TAIL. This quintet plays it safe and sticks to the basic formula that yielded them worldwide success, unleashing a 11 track swan song chock full of the histrionically sing-a-long hard rock anthems (“Raised on Rock”, “No Limit”) and moving balladry (“Lorelei”, “The Best is Yet to Come”) that has defined this globally renowned group’s triumphant career through the years. With the classic tandem of Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs throwing down an abundance of vibrant six string energy  (“Rock Zone”, “Turn You On”) and Klaus Meine’s vocals sounding as sharp as ever, it’s hard to believe that this is the end of the road for this veritable band of veterans, yet Scorpions leave the rock realm with dignity on their last studio effort, putting forth a durable album which arguably is their most raucous work in the past 20 years as well as proudly stands up alongside some of this legendary band’s most lauded work. -Mike SOS


After numerous lineup changes and other problems that plague many bands flying below the radar, the much delayed sophomore release by The Abominable Iron Sloth finally gets to see the light of day. Retaining a harbingering sludgy doom metal slant while applying a loose garage punk veneer to their caustic mix striking a not so surprising middle ground between Nirvana, Gaza and Entombed in the process, the unit (now whittled down to a lean and mean trio) present an excruciatingly heavy excursion entitled THE ID WILL OVERCOME. Buzzsaw guitars, thunderous percussion and thick layers of bass collide to comprise 12 tracks of mid-paced mauling with decisively decreased levels of metallic heft trading spots with an unsettling slathering of dissonance whose moments of grungy melodics yield the band memorable hooks underneath the harsh apocalyptic aggressiveness. Relentlessly exuding nihilism through sonic punishment while a rash of shorter song lengths suggest a significant punk hardcore sphere of influence working in the band’s psyche, this disc provides followers of the more abrasive end of the metal spectrum a potent and at times psychotic post metal experience. -Mike SOS


Featuring members of NY hardcore mainstays Killing Time and Uppercut and NJ high-octane punk rockers Electric Frankenstein, the debut two-song 7” by Brooklyn-based quintet Kings Destroy sounds nothing like their respective past works. Instead, this troupe opt to tune low, keep tempos slow, and go out in a hazy blaze of glory a la Sabbath, Sleep, and Melvins, creating a black-lit atmosphere laden in American doom metal and stoner rock of the ‘70s. Despite the jarring musical stylistic shift, Kings Destroy manage to salvage the benevolent spirit of their hardcore backgrounds by sponsoring two local basketball teams that helps to keep kids out of harm’s way through the benefits of team sports, a noble gesture from an unlikely source that ultimately gives back to their community by investing in its future and is worth a listen if not for their charitable work then for their worship of the almighty riff. -Mike SOS


Beloved ex-Scar Symmetry frontman Christian Alvestam resurfaces with a fierce new band that sounds pretty damn similar to his last project on FOR AEONS PAST, the debut album by Swedish quintet Solution 45. Boasting members of Miseration (one of Alvestam’s other bands) and Essence of Sorrow in addition to Alvestam in its ranks, this experienced and capable squad delivers a cohesive strand of textbook progressive aggressiveness that follows melodic death metal blueprints with a reverence that comes off as a bit too stringent (“Lethean Tears”), often at the expense of breaking out of the box to do something bolder than blend redundant nuances of choice acts together. Nonetheless, this disc boasts a winning array of sanitized metal tones complete with keyboards (“Through Night-Kingdomed”) and is bound to do the trick for both the loyal fan base that enjoys Alvestam’s patented back and forth singing and screaming and those who favor the super clean yet pummeling sound of modern Euro metal. -Mike SOS


After splitting with Victory Records and taking some time away from the road to shore up their musicianship, Peoria, IL-based indie rock quartet The Forecast have returned with a jubilant eponymous 12-track effort in tow that packs the band’s trademarked two male and one female triple-harmony singing (“Life’s a Garden, Dig It”) with a seemingly endless supply of hook-laden pop-punk melodies direct from the heartland of America (“Illinois”). Tugging on heartstrings with punchy emo-punk guitar trajectories and driving indie rock rhythms meshing the wares of Hot Water Music, Jimmy Eat World, and Against Me (“I’ll Set You Free”), this reinvigorated band showcases its knack for composing steady streams of head-bobbing rock with a twinge of country twang, genuinely sounding as liberated and unhinged as ever (“A Better Man”, “Lost At Sea”). -Mike SOS


Prolific Japanese grindcore quartet Unholy Grave champion a relentless work ethic that has yielded a staggering discography as well as helped this veteran outfit survive in the underground metal scene for almost two decades. This act’s latest effort is a 23-track excursion entitled GRIND KILLERS and it displays the squad’s raw delivery and contagious crusty energy from end to end, sounding like the fitting marriage of Discharge and Napalm Death. Benefiting from being recorded live in the studio sans any sense of production sterility, songs like “Murderer” and “Morbid Dark Angels” demonstrate this group’s explosive intensity and in your face volatility that is both something to behold and be afraid of. Exhibiting a furious barrage of blast beat drums, jabs of primal garbled grunts and generally unhinged vocalizations, and riffs oozing with depravity, Unholy Grave continues to provide authentic and passionate punishing music while upholding the core values of grindcore. -Mike SOS


It seems as if crushing Canadian quartet Bison BC closely followed the heavy footprints left by the likes of Baroness, Mastodon, and High on Fire when developing their third offering, the seven-track DARK AGES, and tweaked the influences with just enough of their own flavor to comprise a cohesive concoction of epic metallic proportions. Dousing listeners with a salvo of skull splitting sludge metal and dollops of doom metal atmosphere, this unit showcases the innate ability to merge metal sub-genres together to form a hulking entity capable of wreaking havoc and causing utter destruction with a few sweet NWOBHM moments and a strain of hardcore punk attitude strewn in for good measure (“Two-Day Booze”, “Die of Devotion”).  While some may dismiss this troupe’s combination of twisty compositions, tortured howls and tumultuous layers of thickness as merely jumping on the modern metal gravy train or go so far as to accuse them of trying a bit too hard to emulate what’s hot in metal today, the confidence exuded by Bison BC when executing these similar shifts in style and tone cut through any beleaguered comparisons that can be made which label these guys merely as a knockoff and instead assists this act to stand proud alongside the very bands they draw inspiration from. -Mike SOS


While Doom metal trailblazers Cathedral never shied away from experimenting with their musical output, this daring British veteran unit always managed to dole out sufficient slabs of doom metal in the process, and their latest offering, the 13-track double disc endeavor entitled THE GUESSING GAME displays this well-versed crew’s artful balancing act working on overdrive. Laden with a smattering up-tempo grooves associated with the band’s latter day work (“Casket Chasers”) and enough slow and plodding riffs to please longtime followers of Lee Dorrian and company’s rides through the cosmos (“Requiem for the Voiceless”) accompanied by eccentric dashes of trippy instrumentation and radical stylistic shifts that dial inspiration up from the drop acid and love everyone psychedelic era (“Funeral of Dreams”, “Cat’s, Incense, Candles & Wine”) as much as from the cauldron of Sabbath (“One Dimensional People”), Cathedral ambitiously tries its hand at juxtaposing conflicting styles here with a jarring array of progressive rock nuances that lend an odd yet intriguing flavor exhibiting an discreet charm yet dilutes the band’s trademarked foreboding aura considerably. Presenting an eclectic mixed bag of metal, folk, acid rock, and doom, even though the rich hues and vibrant textures this aptly-titled album radiates are bound to make fans looking for something a bit more traditional disappointed, THE GUESSING GAME is an album that when given undivided attention toward renders a ripe experience for adventurous fans to delve headlong into. -Mike SOS


Stripping down a bare essentials model consisting mainly of his voice, sparse percussion, and an acoustic guitar, NYHC and post-hardcore pioneer Walter Schreifels takes matters into his own hands, literally, playing nearly every instrument on his debut solo effort, the 10-track AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SCENE. From melancholic (“Shootout”) to rousing (Civ’s “Don’t Gotta Prove It”) to nostalgic (Agnostic Front’s “Society’s Suckers”) and witty (“The Ballad of Lil’ Kim”), this departure disc veers into folksy indie rock territory with a pronounced poignancy while the majestic grace of Schreifel’s songs, normally belied by amplifiers set to stun, clearly ring with a newfound resonance. The man best known for taking part in some of the most incendiary acts to come from the underground of the Big Apple eschews the volume and volatility of his salad days for some “new scenery” (“Wild Pandas”), steering his masterful songwriting skills into places that naturally fit Schreifels’ never-fail emotional outpourings and snappy refrains.  This intimate offering is a giant leap forward musically yet it looks back lyrically with many snapshots from yesteryear popping up topic-wise to appeal to both trained acoustic pop-rock ears and curious hardcore music connoisseurs alike. -Mike SOS


Long Island post-hardcore quartet Kills and Thrills deliver a non-stop white-knuckle joyride on their sophomore effort LIARS. This 10-track endeavor is packed with a plethora of meaty riffs (“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World”), dastardly bass and drum punch, and invigorating vocals inducing as many pile-on sing-alongs as raised fists in the air (“Liars”). Exhibiting a barrage of nasty twists and turns with a rapid-fire rawness that reveals noticeable touches of The Bronx, The Hope Conspiracy, Everytime I Die, and Cancer Bats intertwined, Kills and Thrills blend crunchy melodic punk tendencies with a multi-faceted frenetic hardcore approach with a pugnacious old school attitude fueling this Strong Island unit’s assault. -Mike SOS


After taking a bit of a musical detour, veteran Canadian trio Danko Jones crank out the jams and returns to form of old with a characteristically ballsy and raucous rock ‘n roll record on the 11-track offering BELOW THE BELT. Keeping the hard rock riffs flowing freely with sleaze rock swagger (“I Think Bad Thoughts”), this crunchy collection of tunes dutifully echoes the waist-down philosophy of KISS and adds in a slew of fuzzy Thin Lizzy meets UFO six-string sting to the mix, resulting in a head-bobbing rock stomping good time that once again succeeds in resonating a retro vibe without coming off as dishonest or forced. Featuring an endless supply of thinly-veiled lyrical innuendos that scream rebellion, hook-laden choruses that are custom made for rock radio takeover (“Active Volcanoes”, “Tonight is Fine”), and Frehley-esque solos (“Like Dynamite”), Danko Jones unleashes a cowbell happy and down and dirty rock album that plays up sturdy subtleties from the likes of AC/DC or Motorhead with a heightened punk rock energy supercharging the entire affair. -Mike SOS


NY Hardcore punk outfit Straphangers are known for their capacity for developing dizzying songs that hit harder than the average punk band, but now they have considerably beefed up their sound thanks to a newly acquired twin guitar attack, giving the fierce troupe a discernibly tighter and overall more intense sound. On their latest six-track excursion, the buzzsaw six-string presence assists the band’s pounding bass and drum tandem to drive home the pummeling rhythms while the patented female/male vocal dynamic continues to project punk rock at its most coarse and dangerous. Making a volatile concoction of furious beats, sneering vocals, and rapid fire riffs that righteously fall smack dab in the middle of punk and hardcore, Straphangers proudly fly the DIY aesthetic with a bombastic soundtrack behind their charge. -Mike SOS


Jessica Delfino’s songs are meticulously crafted, contagious as a cold and glide through a wide array of styles from folksy acoustic (“No More War”) to bluesy shuffle (“I Was in Love With You”) to poppy hip-hop (“My Pussy is Magic”) without a hitch, but use caution when sharing with small children or the easily offended, as Delfino’s purposely filth-driven and ribald lyrical content is bound to be an intentionally surefire dealbreaker. The 15-track endeavor I WANNA BE FAMOUS boasts a host of sharp songwriting that matches Delfino’s fork-tongued retellings about her clumsy sexual exploits (both real and surreal) and other controversial situations, implementing intriguing instrumentation such as ukulele, handclaps, and Moog organ to assist these tracks in being memorable for more than their outrageous refrains and down and dirty main topics. If you can handle the truth, this disc’s dark and twisted sense of humor provides a musically appeasing yet comedically shocking jolt to the system that requires a penultimate tolerance for blue material from the listener. -Mike SOS


German metal unit Armas Gathas provides the brutal yet done to excess balance between Pantera-esque grooves and modern metalcore tonnage on their debut offering DEAD TO THIS WORLD. Featuring former members of Euro metal acts such as Cataract and Born From Pain, this brazen outfit turns to bands such as Hatebreed, Kataklysm, and Throwdown when churning up a slightly stagnant chugging metal inspired experience while tweaked hardcore-tinged sensibilities draw out rashes of anthemic group chorus parts perfect to start up some moshpit activity to. Unleashing an all too familiar stream of sonic excess, this release’s ruthless sense of modern metal aggression is aces but the disc’s glaring lack of originality ultimately fails to establish a distinct identity for this squad, thrusting them headlong back into the oversaturated and faceless metal middle ground. -Mike SOS


Adding a blues-laden and jazzy sense of swing to their NWOBHM-inspired stoner rock shuffle, California quartet Gypsyhawk have developed an intriguing aura teeming with the majesty and wonder of yesteryear’s heavy metal heroes and the gargantuan melodies of 70’s arena rock staples. This unit’s eponymous eight-track endeavor is a collection of tunes steeped in the bell-bottom era of hard rock, complete with stinging guitar lead fills, fluid bass and drum runs, form-fitting whiskey-throated vocals and an underlying charm that gets away with the sheepish admission of the owners of sound and style they heavily employ (“For Those Who Love the Lizz”).  Doling out an authentically organic blend of heavy music that references everything from Sabbath to Skynyrd with a vintage reverence, Gypsyhawk triumphantly beefs classic tones up without losing any hint of their hard-charging retro vibe, giving traditional hard rock fans something meaty to gnaw on. -Mike SOS


Long-running Queens, NY based unit Damsel aim straight for the melodic hard rock heart on their latest 10-track endeavor QUEENS OF ROYALE. Displaying a knack for writing catchy rock containing a startling amount of bite while employing an adaptable style that switches from reggae to alternative to hard rock, Damsel’s soaring choruses and keen use of dynamics reinforce their versatile delivery and ready for rock radio presentation. This trio’s powerhouse drumming and tasty guitarwork combination displays a blend of the primal drive of Lita Ford with the stark grace of Lacuna Coil sans the imagery, while pinches of bubblegum Top 40 magic frequently resound in the sharp vocal lines, keeping mainstream ears tuned in. Expressing a musicality that hard rock with a female perspective usually skips over, Damsel’s latest effort is as well rounded as it is big sounding, showcasing the band’s penchant for making memorable melodies that rock with toe tapping tunefulness. -Mike SOS


Ohio based Christian metal troupe Woe of Tyrants return with a 10-track offering entitled THRENODY. From the standout devastating percussive performance to a somewhat formulaic yet at times complex twin guitar assault, this quintet reveals an arsenal fully stocked with brazen metallic devices from streams of tweaked-out tech metal (“Tempting the Wretch”) and rage-induced blackened thrash (“Descendit Ad Inferos”) to textured keyboard fills (“Threnody”) and beefed up galloping rhythmic bursts, dexterously straddling the line between metalcore and melodic death metal (“Lightning Over Atlantis”). Emulating the style of Black Dahlia Murder and All Shall Perish with a smattering of their own progressively punishing perspective added, Woe of Tyrants presents a potent potpourri of modern melodic death metal placing them in the thick of the endless mix of bands vying for the metallic crown. -Mike SOS


Comprised of scene veterans from notable acts such as Exhumed and Phobia experienced in the art of apocalypse, California extreme metal troupe D.I.S. unleash a menacing 10-track excursion that displays the firepower of their tenured positions entitled CRITICAL FAILURE. This disc supplies devastating D-beat style malevolence a la Discharge and Entombed with a couple of hardcore, thrash and doom detours strewn in for good measure, complete with blasts of blistering tempos, quality crust-laden rhythms, and filthy guitar and gruff vocal tones abrasively dispensed for maximum discomfort (“CF”). Far from original yet equipped properly with the nefarious nuances necessary to dole out palpable portions of pervasive punishment (“Legion”), this veteran unit has developed a disc tailor made to throw on when the desire to destroy everything around you requires a soundtrack. -Mike SOS


Prolific metal master Peter Tagtgren takes time from his seemingly endless schedule and fires up his industrial metal machine once again, resulting in the creation of the 11-track CYNIC PARADISE. Dispersing digitally diabolical pulses of throbbing bass and drums with rounds of distorted guitars and manipulated vocals steeped in electronic heaviness (“I’m Going In”, “Don’t Care”), this disc resonates with the clinical songwriting atmosphere Tagtgren favors when working on this project, as songs like “Not Your Kind” falls somewhere between Static X, Mudvayne, and NIN while departures like “Have a Drink On Me” display a cowboy-esque merger of Ministry and Depeche Mode. Delivering a cyber friendly hybrid of sinewy synthesized metal that wouldn’t sound out of place in a futuristic action movie scene, Pain sounds off with another brash pairing of electronics and metal with a two-track guest spot from Annette Olzon that steals the show, adding a stark new dimension to Pain’s single-mindedly sinister plan of attack. -Mike SOS


This affair offers three songs by two projects clocking in at over 42 minutes with a singular goal of creating atmospheric drone metal layered in despair, and while each band takes different stylistic routes, each artist comes up successful. Up first is the Montreal-based unit Aun, whose Hawkwind-y acid rock predilection and loopy cosmic leanings launches their mechanized metallic thrust to the furthest reaches of the galaxy known to man. Up next is the more ominous and mysterious French project Habsyll, whose one-track contribution takes up more than half the total running time while emitting a decisively creepier and foreboding vibe thanks to its doom-laden sludge metal tendencies. Requiring an increased attention span and a basic comprehension of the genre’s nuances in order to appreciate in full, this split disc celebrates the art of drone metal with a disjointed defiance tying this collection together. -Mike SOS


Monolithic and foreboding, French black metal trio Aluk Todolo utilize repetitiveness and minimalism to the fullest on their latest two-track offering FINSTERNIS. Broken down into five movements retaining a singular drumbeat while progressively shifting evil via waves of shimmering guitars and haunting synth-like sounds along the way, this release draws strength from its lo-fi mechanized soundscape lulling listeners into a hellacious hypnotic state while unloading a maddening blend of redundant Krautrock, swirling reverb and delay, and avant-garde black metal shrieks both vocally and guitar-wise. This affair is best absorbed in a solitary sitting with the lights dim and the weather gloomy, as the tedious TELLTALE HEART vibe and the incrementally creepy instrumental manipulations make for an menacing listening experience that needs to be taken in its entirety at the risk of significantly altering the overall effect of this boundary breaking squad’s latest aural experiment -Mike SOS -Mike SOS


Billed as an alternative marching band, the 19-piece Providence, RI collective known as What Cheer? Brigade proves to be a raucous mob whose debut 11-track album stretches the band’s already waning novelty way past its elasticity point. While the music captured here is executed with a jubilant cadence necessary to rile up college football games and holiday parades, this unit’s weepy ragtime and woozy Dixieland gone metal and punk references everyone from Slayer to Squirrel Nut Zippers, going beyond the threshold of hip to border on mildly uninspiring when laid down on disc. Undoubtedly way better experienced in a live setting (of which this band is known to raise quite a stir with their guerilla styled impromptu performances) with a cavalcade of visual stimulus at the most or a lawn chair and your grandma at the local fair at the least, What Cheer? Brigade’s brand of fun time translates awkwardly in the recording studio, resulting in an uneven offering. -Mike SOS


Canadian metal enthusiasts Rusted Dawn do an admirable interpretation of the golden era of thrash metal with a couple of intriguing tweaks along the way to freshen it up on the quartet’s debut full-length offering THE BLACK TIDES OF WAR. Combining pure thrash a la Exodus and Kreator with hints of crossover and hardcore punk like Municipal Waste and Cancer Bats, this 10-track disc packs a potent thrash metal punch chock full of chugging guitars, rapid-fire drum patterns, and rabid vocals set to keep heads banging all night long. Despite coming off a bit formulaic, Rusted Dawn’s presentation is an honest and heartfelt recreation of the breakneck pace and devil may care attitude exuded by the elite of thrash metal, both in the past and from today’s current wave of revivalists. -Mike SOS


The Rhode Island fearsome foursome named Howl has released a rhythmically charged nine-track gritty and raw debut properly entitled FULL OF HELL. This sinewy squad comprises their furious foundation with slow-churned sludge metal heft, Swedish death metal at its most sinister, and deliberate doom metal pacing, allowing for every massive percussive rumble, bellicose vocal snarl, and blackened guitar riff to blow a hole through your chest and resonate with wicked resolve. Striking a middle ground between High On Fire’s warmongering tones and Mastodon’s southern-fried sonic crush, Howl conjures up an organic rage sounding akin to the summoning of nature’s most destructive forces to wreak havoc on the Earth, kicking off the apocalypse in fine form. -Mike SOS


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! Many of the above releases can be found in our store.

Nza’s Review: Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots [2010]

Posted in Stone Temple Pilots on June 26, 2010 by gearsofrock

It’s been 9 years since Shangri La Dee Da has been released and about 1 year since I personally wrote off the Stone Temple Pilots. Or Have I? When I first learned that STP was putting out a new album, I couldn’t care less. I’ve been let down by this band simply for the fact of Scott Weiland being the ultimate frontman and always fearing he would throw it all away. So, I set aside my personal politcs about them/him and gave STP another shot.

Well, it was a good choice. The new self-titled STP Is quite the album. Tapping into a Nirvana-ish chours in ” Between The Lines,” the song isn’t so bad after a second listen. ” Take A Load Off ” easily can be a Core Purple B-side (maybe it is). The irrestible Aerosmith-esque “Huckleberry Crumble” gets you instantly hooked; seeing that the STP boys love that 70’s rock sound that WE all love.

Paying homage to the Snot/Punk God Johnny Rotten, Weiland gives you a little more than syllables on ” Hickory Dichotomy.” The DeLeo Squared and Kretz band are tighter than ever and makes you believe that these boys were definitely not on hiatus when Weiland fronted Velvet Revolver.

The album does have its share of fillers but it really doesn’t slow or lose its focus in the process. Lyrically weird but acceptable, makes you continue to think, what the hell does Weiland think about while penning these tunes? As for a stand out tune on this album, “First Kiss On Mars” is sooo groovy that you feel you are listening to some real good David Bowie.

All in all, STP is back…hopefully they stick around this time.

Stone Temple Pilots are Scott Weiland (Vocals), Dean DeLeo (Guitars), Rob DeLeo (Bass), & Eric Kretz (Drums).

Track Listing:

  1. “Between the Lines”
  2. “Take a Load Off”
  3. “Huckleberry Crumble”
  4. “Hickory Dichotomy”
  5. “Dare if you Dare”
  6. “Cinnamon”
  7. “Hazy Daze”
  8. “Bagman”
  9. “Peacoat”
  10. “Fast as I Can”
  11. “First Kiss on Mars”
  12. “Maver”

Top 100 Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Bands of All-Time

Posted in Top 10 on June 25, 2010 by gearsofrock
After polling the little demonic beings living within my thick fat hairy skull, an imperfect list of the Top 100 All-Time Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Bands was born. We hope you despise it.

Insincerely Yours,

The Management

P.S. When you are done vomiting blood all over the list, test your metal wits on the Sporcle quiz: “Gears of Rock Top 100”


  1. Black Sabbath
  2. Metallica
  3. Iron Maiden
  4. Slayer
  5. AC/DC
  6. Judas Priest
  7. Motorhead
  8. Led Zeppelin
  9. Megadeth
  10. Pantera
  11. Ozzy Osbourne
  12. Kiss
  13. Aerosmith
  14. Motley Crue
  15. Anthrax
  16. Guns n’ Roses
  17. Alice Cooper
  18. Scorpions
  19. Queen
  20. Van Halen
  21. Def Leppard
  22. Alice in Chains
  23. Deep Purple
  24. White Zombie
  25. Venom
  26. Dio
  27. Rush
  28. Overkill
  29. Accept
  30. Mercyful Fate
  31. Cream
  32. Marilyn Manson
  33. Diamond Head
  34. Machine Head
  35. Thin Lizzy
  36. The Misfits
  37. W.A.S.P.
  38. Ted Nugent
  39. Ministry
  40. Poison
  41. Exodus
  42. Type-o-Negative
  43. Ratt
  44. Sepultura
  45. The Ramones
  46. Pearl Jam
  47. Journey
  48. Bon Jovi
  49. Dream Theater
  50. Twisted Sister
  51. Danzig
  52. Fear Factory
  53. Tesla
  54. Quiet Riot
  55. Soundgarden
  56. Metal Church
  57. Joe Satriani
  58. Steve Vai
  59. Sammy Hagar
  60. Kreator
  61. Lamb of God
  62. Testament
  63. Faith No More
  64. Cinderella
  65. Tool
  66. Corrosion of Conformity
  67. Saxon
  68. Mastodon
  69. Stone Temple Pilots
  70. Cannibal Corpse
  71. Skid Row
  72. Korn
  73. GWAR
  74. Helloween
  75. Suicidal Tendencies
  76. Hatebreed
  77. Armored Saint
  78. Down
  79. Rage Against The Machine
  80. Primus
  81. Whitesnake
  82. Life of Agony
  83. Vision of Disorder
  84. Slipknot
  85. Biohazard
  86. Warrant
  87. Queensryche
  88. Extreme
  89. Mr. Big
  90. Living Sacrifice
  91. Black Label Society
  92. Deftones
  93. Sick of It All
  94. Living Colour
  95. Sevendust
  96. Foo Fighters
  97. Lita Ford
  98. King’s X
  99. System of a Down
  100. Nirvana

Now that you have studied the list, test your memory with the “Gears of Rock Top 100” game at

Track-By-Track Review: Ozzy Osbourne – Scream [2010]

Posted in Ozzy Osbourne on June 20, 2010 by gearsofrock

Ozzy Osbourne employs guitar great Gus G. on his latest release Scream. Here are some of my initial track-by-track thoughts on the Prince of Darkness’ latest album.

“Let it Die” The six minute opening tune has a great percussive tribal vibe in the beginning, a powerful intro solo from Gus G., and a sweet and sludgy cool down. After the main guitar solo (4:18), there is a wonderfully demonic “Children of the Grave” part that almost does not fit into the song, but it is still awesome. The worst part of the track is the vocal part during the verses. At this point, i just hope that this album is not another victim of too much ProTools.

“Let Me Here You Scream” As a radio single, this track roars as a modern rock hit in the realm of “Perry Mason,” as it includes several similar elements (such as unison bends on the guitar). Although the lyrics and melody during the chorus are very catchy, they are also extremely hokey.

“Soul Sucker” The best part of this track is the speedy change at around 2:40 that sets the stage for another sick Gus G. guitar solo. The main riff goes extra heavy on the talk box, similar to “Fire it Up” by Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society. Unfortunately, there are about a gazillion layers of instrument tracks on “Soul Sucker” that deny it a natural rock feel.

“Life Won’t Wait” Remember Filter’s “Take My Picture?” This tune begins in a similar manner, but alternates between  heavy choruses and acoustic verses. Obviously Ozzy’s band is far superior to Filter. Therefore, this track rips in comparison mainly due to the six string brutality. “Life Won’t Wait” will most likely be released as a single at some point.

“Diggin Me Down” With a “Diary of a Madman” feel in the beginning, this song quickly becomes the most interesting one on Scream. In fact, I am already sitting in front of my computer, guitar in hand, working out the classical style intro riff. However when the track kicks in, the heavy riff defiles some of that early magic. That does not mean this track is not awesome. It simply means that Ozzy is old and Gus G. is not quite Randy Rhoads.

“Crucify” It is interesting that Ozzy released a track titled “Crucify the Dead” on Slash’s solo record and a song titled “Crucify” on his own record the same year. Overall, “Crucify” does not stand out on Scream; seems like album filler. Like most of the other tunes, the lead guitars are the one interesting component of the track.

“Fearless” A heavy hitting tune that serves as a slight redemption after “Crucify.” There are great guitar fills during the verses reminiscent of the “Mr. Crowley” style.

“Time” Ozzy is no stranger to throwing the word “time” somewhere within his song titles (“Time After Time,” “Running Out of Time”). On this reflective piece, Ozzy’s vocals are the focal point with the guitars taking a small breather for a track. This is like the “Dreamer” of Scream, except this one has “woo ooo ooo hoos” which I have never heard from the Ozzman before.

“I Want It More” An eerie piano intro sets a somber mood. Then an awesome main guitar riff thrashes through the verses. The choruses slow the track down, disappointing at first but then refreshingly sounds like “Revelation (Mother Earth).” This tune contains a masterful composition with many different parts that mix well together; an attribute that some of the other tracks have struggled with.

“Latimer’s Mercy” The one poor vocal tactic that Ozzy overuses these days are the spoken-worded verses. This song is a hard and bluesy tune with a rad Faith No More keyboard structure.

“I Love You All” Ozzy just wanted to let you know that. He is a legend, hero, and god. However, we are the ones that made him really really rich. You can here Ozzy’s love for The Beatles on this one minute album closer.

In conclusion, Scream is a lot of fun to listen to since there is a new axe master in Ozzyland to get acquainted with in Gus G. The best tracks are “I Want It More,” “Diggin Me Down,” and “Life Won’t Wait.” It is interesting that many of Scream’s best riffs throughout the record are the ones that come right before the guitar solos. Overall, this feels like a slightly better album than 2007’s Black Rain and a far superior record to 2001’s Down To Earth.

Ozzy Osbourne is Ozzy Osbourne (Vocals), Gus G. (Guitars), Rob “Blasko” Nicholson, and Tommy Clufetos (Drums).

Top Ten Albums of 2010 [Mid-Year Edition]

Posted in Top 10 on June 20, 2010 by gearsofrock

We are now at the half way point of a great year for heavy music. The first 6 months of 2010 have given a great assortment of powerhouse releases. If the year was to end right this second, these are my picks for the Top 10 Albums of 2010.

1.  Overkill – Ironbound Legendary New Jersey metal mavens, Overkill, deliver an astonishing 15th studio album Ironbound, a delectable thrash frenzy that will kick your teeth through your ass. Overkill is solid, far too underrated, and always unfairly riding in the shadow of East Coast thrash colleague Anthrax. Ironbound is a 10-track blitzkrieg that displays not only the fury, but greater depth than 90% of all thrash and power metal acts out there today.

2.  Fear Factory – Mechanize 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.”

3.  Soulfly – Omen The Brazilian god of doom brings the shit on Soulfly’s latest righteous masterpiece, Omen.  Max Cavalera’s guerrilla army of guitar hero Marc Rizzo, bassist Bobby Burns, drummer Joe Nunez, and producer Logan Mader (ex-Machine Head/ex-Soulfly guitarist) attacks mercilessly with 11 brutal cuts of earth pounding grooves and virtuosic riffs. Omen’s energy is relentless from the opening assault of “Bloodbath & Beyond” to the closing spiritual instrumental onslaught of “Soulfly VII” Everything in between is fierce and aggressive, and includes dashes of tribalism that never ceases to devastate.

4.  Charred Walls of the Damned – Charred Walls of the Damned 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.

5.  Coheed and Cambria – Year of the Black Rainbow Year of the Black Rainbow prominently features impressive rhythmic patterns, striking lead guitars, and tantalizing lyrical melodies.  Together the ingredients form a vicious concoction of heavy ear candy…Coheed is one of the few bands capable of saving mainstream hard rock from the one-dimensional Nickelbacks and Linkin Parks that have dominated mainstream charts for the last ten years. Year of the Black Rainbow is an A+ musical effort that goes unmatched by 99% of the rock albums released these days.  Album highlights include the single “Here We Are Juggernaut,” “In The Flame of Error,” “World of Lines,” “This Shattered Symphony,” and “The Broken.”

6. Exodus – Exhibit B: The Human Condition Vocalist Rob Dukes really comes into his own here, reverberating with a harsh and menacing tone that sits squarely between former singer’s Steve Souza and Paul Baloff while the rhythm section pound out a flurry of the blistering and brutal tempos that Exodus helped to spawn nearly 30 years ago (“Burn, Hollywood, Burn”). Chock full of neck-snapping fretwork, jackhammer rhythms, and dizzying thrash metal expedience, the latest affair from Exodus portrays what the epitome of thrash metal excellence sounds like and is a must-listen disc for any self-respecting headbanger.

7.  Ratt – Infestation With hard rock vibes reminiscent of the Out of the Cellar days, Stephen Pearcy and company invoke the spirit of ’76 Aerosmith. Pearcy’s voice soars on all 11 tracks of Infestation; at 50 years old, he has not lost much of anything.  He belts out anthemic melodies and infectious choral lines as if it is still 1984…For the masses that still yearn for blazing riffs, thunderous drums, melodramatic lead guitars, and heavy fist pumping then this record will be a treasured delight. These fundamental and core ingredients converge, forming an undeniable and timeless sense of Sunset Strip debauchery.

8.  Airbourne – No Guts No Glory If you dug the tunes from Runnin’ Wild then you will love the latest from Airbourne. 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

9.  Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2 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.

10.  Bullet For My Valentine – Fever Well-orchestrated guitar riffs and diligently executed breakdowns don Bullet For My Valentine’s ferocious third album from Jive Records titled Fever. The album starts off with a rush of pure power and adrenaline due to tracks such as the earth pounding “Your Betrayal,” the title track, and “The Last Fight.”…Bullet For My Valentine continues to soar as one of metalcore’s most talented and thrashiest outfits.

Other notables from the first half of 2010 that didn’t quite make the cut include Deth Red Sabaoth from Danzig, Sting in the Tail from the Scorpions, Diamond Eyes from Deftones, and Scream from Ozzy Osbourne. Albums that did not even come close to making the list include the latest releases from Slash and the Stone Temple Pilots.

What are your picks for the best albums of 2010 thus far?