Arch Enemy-"Wages Of Sin"-2002

Over the course of 6 years and four albums, Sweden`s Arch Enemy have developed a unique sound, blending the best of late eighties` Thrash with the intensity of modern Death Metal stylings. Yet somehow, unlike their peers, they manage to sound both melodic AND heavy as `ell! Not easy. Their fourth album, "Wages Of Sin", drives this home viciously with a jagged metal spike! The line-up consists of Michael Amott and brother Christopher on guitars, Sharlee D'Angelo [he`s played bass with Mercyful Fate, Witchery, Illwill, Sinergy, Dismember and gawd knows WHO else!] Daniel Erlandsson on drums, and the newest member, that beautiful and terrifying angel of death, Angela Gossow on vocals. ["Wages...." is her debut with the band] Featuring flawless production and razor sharp riffs, the album starts off with a somber piano intro, then dives right in with "Enemy Within". Picking out the choice cuts is damn near impossible for me, but tracks like "Burning Angel", "Heart Of Darkness", and "Savage Messiah" are just plain LETHAL! The album is a showcase for the band as a whole; the high-flying, death-defying guitar antics of the brothers Amott easily sets the band apart from most of their ham-fisted contemporaries. The CRUSHING rhythm section of D'Angelo and Erlandsson, which rolls over the listener like a Panzer tank from hell. And Gossow? Let`s face it, some of the earlier attention directed at this album was due to the fact the she`s a woman [a very, VERY attractive one, at that!]. But her performance here makes Linda Blair`s demonic display in "The Exorcist" sound like Britney Spears, fer chrissake! Radiating pure evil, Gossow makes short work of Glen Benton and the rest of that laughable bunch. The most amazing thing is that you can remember the tunes; they stay in your head afterwards, unlike, say, the overrated In Flames and their ilk. To quote the tag line from one of my favorite horror flicks: "If this one doesn`t scare you, you`re already DEAD!!"

Arch Enemy

Aftershok-"Unfinished Business"-2002

Rising from the ashes of Cleaveland Metal Mongers Shok Paris, the 4 man strike force known as After Shok are a no bulls**t, full throttle, go-fer-the-throat Heavy Metal band, pure `n` simple! Not Nu, Power, Thrash, Death, Black, White, Prog, whutever. Just straight up Metal which harkens back to the days before Metal "sub genres". The band [Former Shok Paris vocalist Vic Hix, guitarist George Mihalovich, drummer George B. and bassist Nick G.] recently unleashed "Unfinished Business", a blistering 10 track affair that will have your neck snapping in no time! No eighties nostalgia act, these boys kick ass and ask questions later! DIY`d in the best Metal tradition, the production is clean and clear, which only gives the tunes that extra added kick in the ass. From the opener, "Armed And Dangerous", to the pounding "War Machine", as well as the Accept-like "Bad Moon" [my favorite!] and the moody, melodic "Yesterday`s Gone", hell, the whole damn thing is a winner, start to finish! On every track, Hix shows that he has lost none of the fire and passion that earned him great praise with Shok Paris, reminding me at times of Biff Byford. George M. covers lead and rhythm with ease, and shows why he`s the only man for the job! With the tight-as-a-ducks-ass rhythm section George B. and Nick G., After Shok waves the Heavy Metal freak flag loudly and proudly! This band is more than willing to go "All The Way" to bring American Metal back into the spotlight kicking and screaming. And YOU can help! Click the link below, buy the CD, and play it good `n` LOUD, `til you hear the sirens. And then play it again, only LOUDER!!!



For all those poor, mis-guided souls who think Springsteen and Bon Jovi are all the New Jersey music scene has to offer, I can only say, er, actually NOTHING! Why the hell would any fan of the above mentioned listen to DTA? There`s no trendiness or commercial acceptability spoken HERE! Just 7 tracks of pure Metallic hell! DTA is Danny on Vocals, Jay on Rhythm Guitar, Jimmy on Lead guitar [Now replaced by returning lead guitarist Randy], Kris on Bass, and Joe on Drums. These guys have been terrorizing the Garden State for a couple of years, blasting out their ferocious brand of Metal mayhem, with a sound that often reminds one of "Fabulous Disaster"-era Exodus or Overkill; hardly the flavor of the month, and the boys wouldn`t have it any other way! This self-produced CD boasts a clean, professional sound, due as much to the band`s instrumental skills as the engineering. They have a genuine love for the music they play, a point which is made brutally clear on cuts like "Darkside", "Full Moon" and "Smack". No slouches in THIS group, that` for damn sure! So forget all those Nu Metal mooks; in 5 years, nobody`s gonna be listening to any of `em, mark my words! For some REAL Metal, go to the band`s homepage and grab this album NOW. Tell Joe I sent ya! [Thanks for sending me the CD, `bro!!]


Manowar-"Warriors Of The World"-2002

Yes, yes, YES!! The GODS have RETURNED! After enduring a spate of "True Metal" pretenders to the throne, the TRUE kings of Metal are back with their first studio album since `96`s "Louder Than Hell"! Let`s face it; neither Hammerfool nor their endless clones, possess a 10th of the power [studio OR live] Manowar has at their disposal. One thing I`ve noticed with this album is that the guys [Eric Adams on vocals, Karl Logan on guitars, Joey DeMaio on bass, and Scott Columbus, drums] seem to be playing in a way that Jimmy Page once described as "tight but loose"; the slight stiffness and rigidity of the arrangements on previous releases has given way to a looser, less restrictive feel, which enhances the 11 tracks on "Warriors Of The World". These magnificent soldiers of death ride in hard `n` fast and LOUD with the opener "Call To Arms", and that`s ALL she wrote! "The Fight For Freedom" is dedicated to those who lost their lives on September 11th. And there are some surprises here, as well. "Nessun Dorma" is a classic opera piece and Eric`s vocals here are, as always, breath taking! [the song is dedicated to his mother, who passed away during the recording sessions]. Also included is a wonderful version of Elvis Presley`s "An American Trilogy", which would`ve made The King proud! "Warriors Of The World" thunders and pulses with an intensity that is guaranteed to induce a severe case of `eadbanging! Yet ANOTHER instant Manowar classic! "Hands Of Doom", "House Of Death", "Fight Until We Die", AHHHHHHH!!!! [Hey, they`re from my area, I`m proud of `em, what can I say? Besides, my first concert was Manowar!] So if you know some poor, deluded bastard who thinks Metal means Linkin Park, show the fools a little compassion, smack `em over the head a few times, and then play this album for them, good `n` LOUD! They will learn......


Nightwish-"Century Child"-2002

In 2000, Finland`s Nightwish released what I consider to be one of the BEST Metal albums ever, "Wishmaster". So naturally my expectations were rather high for the band [Tarja Turunen, vocals, Emppu Vuorinen, guitars, Tuomas Holopainen, keyboards/lyrics, former Sinergy bassist Marco Hietala on bass and vocals, and Jukka Nevalainen on drums.] with the release of "Century Child". And while not as consistent as "Wishmaster", the album is, for the most part a fine addition to the group`s short but impressive legacy. Kicking things off is the powerhouse "Bless The Child"; one thing I noticed is that there seems to be a lot more low end, due no doubt to the presence of Hietala, which gives the track [all of them, actually] that extra "punch"! This is followed by the majestic "End Of All Hope", which is one my favorite cuts, and pretty much encapsulates what the band is about. Tarja`s vocals, as usual, are otherworldly! [and to think that, here in the states, Jennier Lopez gets the magazine covers for being a "great" singer! God, life is SO unfair.....] Other gems include the gorgeous "Everdream", the super heavy "Slaying The Dreamer", as well as a great rendition of a piece adapted from Andrew Lloyd Webber`s "Phantom Of The Opera" and given the full `wish treatment! The closer, "Beauty Of The Beast", a 10 minute trilogy that balances guitar, keys and vocals to perfection, something this band has always been able to pull off with nary a hitch. Holopainen`s lyrical themes, as always, run the gamut of emotions love, beauty, hope, loss, mixed with images of oceans, snow and the usual, but not in a "downbeat" way. The only glitch here [for me, anyway!]: why the HELL did they allow bassist Marco Hietala to sing on this album?! On several cuts, Marco lends his vocal "talents",with decidedly mixed results. It`s not that he`s a BAD singer technically, but he over reaches himself; in other words, his voice can`t deliver the intensity required to deliver Holopainen`s admittedly at times emotionally overwrought lyrics, whereas Tarja CAN! So his singing here sounds overly melodramatic, and very forced. Other than that, this is yet another step forward for a band who haven`t varied their formula much, but have ALWAYS stayed ahead of the pack! Get this one, `cause after the tour for "Century Child", the band goes on Hiatus while Tarja begins advanced opera studies in Germany, and a new album won`t be in the offering `til early 2004! [Note to the band: for the next album, PLEASE have Hietala reserve his drama queen vocals for his solo gig, ok?]

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