Florida's Kamelot are among the emerging breed of progressive-tinged Metal that`s been coming out of the states for the last several years or so. Most derive not a little bit of their sound from Dream Theater, and, like that aptly named band, usually have the same effect on me as 2 sleeping pills; in other words, this kind of music bores the HELL outta me! There ARE, however, some bands that do this style well, Kamelot being one of the better ones.The band is; Roy Khan, vocals, founding members Thomas Youngblood, guitars and Glenn Barry, bass, and Casey Grillo on drums. "Karma", the band`s 6th album, is more European than one would expect from an American band, and the arrangements, while complex at times, are accessible to the "average" listener. Most groups mining the same territory usually come off sounding like a bunch of MIT graduates showing off; Kamelot seems to concern themselves with the songs, although they are all highly proficient on their respective instruments. And they ROCK, too! Crunching riffs, clever arrangements, memorable hooks; Kamelot hits all the right buttons on "Karma". Some of the standouts include "Regalis Apertura", the beautiful "Don`t You Cry", the haunting "Temples Of Gold", and the 3 part mini epic "Elizabeth", which concerns the infamous Countess Bathory, she who took midnight baths in the blood of virgins to gain eternal youth. [couldn`t she have just gone with a face lift?] The overall sound on "Karma" is not too far off from some of the various Prog Metal acts coming out of Italy [Time Machine, for example], but without some of the pomposity and musical excess that mars these types of releases. This is my first exposure to Kamelot, and I`m hungry for more; definitely a case of good "Karma"!


Wayne-"Metal Church"-2001

Metal Church vocalist David Wayne goes the solo route with his new band "Wayne" and their Nuclear Blast debut titled "Metal Church". Confused? Good; so am I! While neither the band name nor the album title will earn Mr. Wayne any points for originality [or any points at all, as it appears that this move has irked some of his MC bandmates, but after the last album they put out, who CARES?], "Metal Church" is, for the most part, a solid release. Sound wise, the album falls somewhere between Metal Church`s S/T debut and their second album, "The Dark", having more in common with the latter. David`s vocals here are pretty much unchanged from the Metal Church [the band] days; no one`s ever gonna mistake him for Geoff Tate, but he DOES have a distinct vocal personality nonetheless. And the band are no slouches, either. They are: [former?] Metal Church guitarist Craig Wells, guitarist Jim Bell, drummer B.J Zampa and bassist Mark Franco. No stand out musicians here, but they`re team players, one and all. The 10 tracks here display a band who sound like they`ve been playing together for years! Stand out tunes for me include "The Hammer Will Fall", "Burning At The Stake", my favorite track, the Power Metalish "Nightmare [Part II]", and the haunting "Ballad For Marianne". The only let down: a rather uninspired cover of Mountain`s "Mississippi Queen"! Gee, what a NOVEL idea; no one ever thought of covering THAT one before! [heavy sarcasm] Basically a Meat & Potatoes Metal album, but still a worthy purchase. Hopefully, Wayne [the band AND the man] will go on to do bigger and better things, but they`re off to a good start! There`s no official band site yet, but you can pick up the album here:

Buy It Here!

Grave Digger-"The Grave Digger"-2001

These guys have been around since the early `80s`, yet THIS is my first introduction to them; never heard a note of their previous material! One of the very first bands to be signed by the then fledgling Noise label, Grave Digger was among the more prominent acts of the great German Metal explosion of `84-`86 [along with Sodom, Kreator, Destruction, Running Wild, Helloween, etc], yet never attained quite the same notoriety as their fellow Teutonic Terrors [but considering the recent releases by Helloween and Kreator, maybe that ain`t a BAD thing!] The band consists of founder/vocalist Chris Boltendahl, guitarist Manni Schmidt, bassist Jens Becker, H.P. Katzenburg on keyboards and Stefan Arnold drums. "The Grave Digger" is German Power Metal, thru & thru. Not that happy happy "brothers-in-Metal-flying-dragons of steel" slop that has, unfortunately, overtaken the European Power Metal scene of late [but I`d STILL rather listen to that stuff than Linkin Park!]. THIS is more akin to what Sodom is doing these days, although not QUITE as heavy or thrashy. But my GOD, it kicks!! HARD! Superior production, a guitar sound to DIE for, crunchy, melodic riffing, this bad boy has it all. Boltendahl`s vocals are something of an acquired taste, but they fit the music to a "T". Check out the piledriving riffage on "Raven", or my favorite track "Spirits Of The Dead", a total CRUSHER! My other fave, "The House" is spooky, with an ominous riff that retains its` power even in the quiet passages of the track. "King Pest" takes you right back to the eighties, with a KILLER main riff guaranteed to bring a smile [and a neck ache!] to any Germanic Metal Meister! The whole band just plays its` collective asses off on this album and there`s not a bum track to be found! The band manages to keep their sound fresh and up to date, not sounding like a nostalgia act, yet not adopting a "Nu Metal" sound. Obviously, great care was taken to ensure that "The Grave Digger" would be the best it could possibly be, and it paid off! So, what are you WAITING for? Get out there and buy, buy, buy!!!!!

Grave Digger


Forged in Steel Town USA [ aka; Pittsburgh, PA], Mindframe are one of the most promising Prog-Metal acts in North America. As stated earlier, I`m not a HUGE fan of this particular style; most of the time it just leaves me cold. Such is NOT the case here! On this Demo/CD, Mindframe evoke, both musically and thematically, the ghost of "Warning"-era of Queensryche [ah, the good ol` days!], while maintaining their own individual sound. The band is: Jen Martire [vocals], Drew Lyscik [drums], Scott Haggerty [guitars], and Johanna Balogh [keyboards]. *Note*: both Haggerty and Balogh have since departed. The band has enlisted the services of Bel Geode on bass, and is in the process of finding a guitarist/keyboard player as of this writing.** The sound here is of a surprisingly high quality, considering it`s a demo. Of course, as I`ve said a million times, great songs and performances will overcome ANY limitations in the production department! And Mindframe have both of these qualities in spades! The tracks: "The Mindframe", "In the Trees" [MY favorite], "Collision Course", and "The Veil" [killer opening riff on this one!]. In addition, the CD also includes 3 live bonus versions of "In the Trees" , "Collision Course" and the awesome [and previously unreleased] "Storm Winds of the Morrigan", as well as a Flash media presentation, cool wallpaper for your MAC or PC, and a free sticker! The musicianship on the CD is, of course, first rate, with both guitars AND keyboards achieving equal balance without going over the top, a major downfall of many in this particular genre. Reviews have [favorably] likened Jen Martire`s voice to a cross between `ryche`s Geoff Tate and Heart`s Nancy Wilson, and they`re not far off! Jen`s vocals help bring her lyrical imagery brilliantly to life, weaving in and around songs that actually ARE songs, not 8-10 minute excuses for bass/drum/keyboard/guitar solos! Hopefully, the band will soon fill their vacant guitar slot and bestow upon us more greatness in an "official" and full length release in the near future. DEFINITELY a band to watch! For more information, click below.......


Hirax-"Barrage Of Noise"-2001

Hirax is SOOOOO back! After a much too long hiatus, the legendary Bay Area Hardcore killers have returned with an 8-song CD of total chaos! Absolute carnage reigns supreme on this album, which is a follow up to their "comeback" of last year, "El Diablo Negro", but "Barrage Of Noise" is a much stronger effort. The years have been kind to vocalist/leader Katon W. DePena; one of THE unique [and sadly underrated] voices in this particular genre, Katon has lost NONE of his vocal prowess. No inarticulate death grunts or Nu Metal temper tantrums HERE! Katon wails like a man possessed, but at the same time adding a melodic flair that has always put him head & shoulders above his peers. The rest of the band drive DePena`s anger-fuelled lyrics viciously home like the well oiled death machine they are! The musicians on this album are: Justin Lent, guitars/bass, James Joseph Hubler, guitars, and Nick Seelinger, drums [Lent and Seelinger have been since been replaced by Dan Bellinger on drums and Mike Brickman on bass] The tunes; "Murder One", the title track, "Walk With Death", "Broken Neck", "Jade", "Mouth Sewn Shut", "Beyond The Church [Part One]" and finally, after pounding you senseless, the band closes with the delicate, moody instrumental "French Pearl". I`m not even gonna TRY to pick out the best tracks, `cause this whole album totally plowed me over like a steamroller from HELL! [did these guys even take a BREATH while they recorded this?] The only other album that`s ever done that to me is Slayer`s "Reign In Blood"; no lie! Don`t believe me? Go to the link below, buy the CD and see for yourself! Welcome back, fellas! We missed ya......

Reviews Index