• Wretch - WARRIORS

    Image: Wretch, Warriors, Review, Power Metal, Chris Akin, Pitriff Wretch
    WARRIORS

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    There's an unwritten rule that I rarely follow here in Cleveland. That rule is that if a band is from Cleveland, I'm supposed to write all glowing things or else be called a hater by the local community. It's sad that it's like that, but the truth is what it is. For years I've lived with that stigma, to the point

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  • Machine Head - BLOODSTONE & DIAMONDS

    Image: Machine Head, Bloodstone & Diamonds, Pitriff, Review, Thrash Metal Machine Head
    BLOODSTONE & DIAMONDS

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    What happened to Machine Head really is a crime. Unfortunately for them, it's a crime they perpetrated upon themselves. With a mistake so many made in their youth, this band singlehandedly torpedoed themselves from ascending to the heights in metal held by only the select few like Metallica and Megadeth before them. After THE MORE THINGS CHANGE came

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  • Nashville Outlaws - TRIBUTE TO MOTLEY CRUE

    Image: Nashville Outlaws, Motley Crue Tribute Nashville Outlaws
    A TRIBUTE TO MOTLEY CRUE

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    With the music industry pretty much dead anymore, nothing really comes off as shocking. After all, you have very desperate companies trying to hang on and make money from an industry that has about as much relevance today as the typewriter ribbon makers of the world still do. The current trend for the last half decade

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  • Texas Hippie Coalition - RIDE ON

    Image: Texas Hippie Coalition, Ride On, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Review, Classic Metal Texas Hippie Coalition
    RIDE ON

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    I tell this story often, but it's one of my favorites of the past year. I had the chance to interview the Texas Hippie Coalition earlier this year at Rock On The Range in Columbus, Ohio. I was in a small tent with a bunch of photographers. The tent was fairly quiet really, as the much bigger adjacent

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  • Sammy Hagar - LITE ROAST

    Image: Sammy Hagar, Lite Roast, NonMetal, Review Sammy Hagar
    LITE ROAST

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    I get it. You are Sammy Hagar. You've seen huge success in virtually every world you've entered. In music, he was the main focus of Montrose. He parlayed that into a very successful solo career. That wasn't enough, so he joined the world's largest band at the time (Van Halen), and took them to commercial heights that even they

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  • Cavalera Conspiracy - PANDEMONIUM

    Image: Cavalera Conspiracy, Pandemonium, Pitriff, Death Metal, Review Cavalera Conspiracy
    PANDEMONIUM

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    There's always good news and bad news whenever Max Cavalera gets busy with new music. The good is that you get a whole lot of new music, seemingly all in a very short time. The bad news is it's generally spotty at best, because he simply writes and releases too much music at the same time. His band Soulfly released

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  • Slipknot - .5 THE GRAY MATTER

    Image: Slipknot, .5 The Gray Matter, Pitriff, CD Review, Modern Metal Slipknot
    .5 THE GRAY MATTER

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    With a ton of speculation and even more wonderment on this band's ability to continue on without founding members Paul Gray and Joey Jordison, Slipknot has returned after far too long of a layoff with .5 THE GRAY MATTER. I've listened to this release multiple times a day for the last week or so that I've had it,

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  • Opeth - PALE COMMUNION

    Image: Opeth, Pale Communion, Pitriff, Review, Progressive Metal Opeth
    PALE COMMUNION

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    Opeth simply fails as a band, at least to me. While I'll admit to never fully understanding the amazement and awe so many have for this band, I've appreciated them from afar. I've listened, and I've at least wrapped my head around what they were trying to do. Their fusing of death metal with progressive elements always made for an

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  • Cannibal Corpse - A SKELETAL DOMAIN

    Cannibal Corpse, A Skeletal Domain, Review, Death Metal Cannibal Corpse
    A SKELETAL DOMAIN

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    So really, what does anyone expect when you get a Cannibal Corpse release handed to you? Ballads, love songs and fun? Not hardly. There's an expectation of severe brutality which the band delivers time and time again. Certainly, it comes with different levels of acceptance to one's ears, but ultimately the only thing that matters if it says

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  • Exodus - BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT

    Image: Exodus, Blood In Blood Out, Pitriff, Review, Thrash Metal Exodus
    BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT

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    Unless you call Testament a "thrash band" (which I don't personally), Exodus would rank as my favorite true Thrash band of all time. They have had good times and bad. Occasionally, like on FABULOUS DISASTER, they have misstepped along the way. But overall, they are one of the true powerhouses in the history of thrash metal. Since 2004

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  • Mr. Big - ...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL

    Mr. Big, The Stories We Could Tell, Reviews, Classic Metal, Chris Akin, Pitriff Mr. Big
    ...THE STORIES WE COULD TELL

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    As a fan of Mr. Big, I can't honestly say that many people thought that their reunion was much more than a cash grab opportunity for the guys in the band who, while immensely talented, failed to find solo success to match their collaborative efforts. It was never a question of if they could still play.

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CD Review - Sepultura

Image: Sepultura, The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart, Pitriff, ReviewSepultura
THE MEDIATOR BETWEEN HEAD AND HANDS MUST BE THE HEART

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It's been years and years at this point, and it's astounding to me that there's so many people that still talk about the former vocalist of this band each and every time they put out a new release. It's so silly at this point. I'm the first one to agree that releases like ARISE and CHAOS AD are some of the best that have ever been recorded. For so many though that have just written off Sepultura as "dead without Max", you've missed out on a lot of truly great metal. Two of the very best albums released under the Sepultura name (A-LEX and DANTE XXI) have come fairly recently and were fronted by vocalist Derrick Green. Going back to Ross Robinson to produce it and with more fire than they have had in 15 years, THE MEDIATOR BETWEEN HEAD AND HANDS MUST BE THE HEART is the most blistering release Sepultura has put forth since SCHIZOPHRENIA, MORBID VISIONS or the aforementioned ARISE. This is some seriously punishing metal, folks.

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Newsted - HEAVY METAL MUSIC

Image: Newsted, Heavy Metal Music, cd review, pitriff, heavy metalNewsted
HEAVY METAL MUSIC

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This review is being written at the request of a longtime Pitriff reader, who hit me up this week and reminded me that I had not yet reviewed this release from former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted. Being honest, I'm not sure how that happened exactly. Since he came out with his 4 song EP METAL, and right through to today, the new solo music from the project called Newsted has not been away from my iPod for more than a day or two. It doesn't feature anything overly special or anything. Jason Newsted is not the best vocalist in the world. The music isn't the best or more cutting edge heavy metal ever created. In essence, it's a fairly average offering with one mighty exception - attitude. That undying, undeniable metal attitude literally forces HEAVY METAL MUSIC to be loved in the ears of most metalheads. A release full of piss and vinegar without a shred of apology for any of it, HEAVY METAL MUSIC is one of the most enjoyable metal albums of 2013.

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Shades Of Remembrance - VEIL

Image: Shades Of Resistence, Pitriff, Cleveland, hard rock, heavy metal, veilShades Of Remembrance
VEIL

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For years and years, there have been many progressive metal bands that have struggled to be heard.  For many, they never get the chance, and therefore never truly get out there.  For others, their sheer will to be known pushed them to be discovered by fans.  With progressive metal, it's difficult to really make a statement about your sound.  Everyone looks and claims to sound like the next Fates Warning, Dream Theater or Queensryche, but with such lofty names to put as an equal to yourself, the actual music behind it lets you down somewhat.  For Cleveland's Shades Of Remembrance, they can loosely claim the name Fates Warning as somewhat of an influence, but ultimately they are not a good counter to any of those named bands.  While VEIL is a very good release, it's not really comparable to big name progressive metal bands.  They are much more metal; more gritty and more raw then the uber polished approach the bands listed about have exhibited.  Don't take that as a bad thing either, as it's refreshing to hear powerful progressive playing without some studio engineer "cleaning it up".  This is a solid listen.

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SpiralArms - FREEDOM

SpiralArms, Freedom, Pitriff, CD ReviewSpiralArms
FREEDOM

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There are great recordings, and then there are releases that just get better each and every time you listen to them.  SpiralArms new release FREEDOM is one of those releases.  I loved it the first time I heard it, and it's done nothing but get stronger with each and every listen for me.  Maybe it's the mood I'm in these days, or maybe it's just that great music is coming out fast and furiously, but it seems like for the past two months, each release has been better than the last.  In the last 3 months alone, I've proclaimed "album of the year" twice before...Vista Chino's PEACE and Scorpion Child's self-titled debut.  Now, I'm proclaiming it once again.  Full of diversity and influences from all the right bands in the history of rock and metal, FREEDOM stands as the lone perfect listening experience of 2013 for me.  This one is a stunner.

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Testament - DARK ROOTS OF THRASH

Image: Testament, Dark Roots Of Thrash, Pitriff, CD ReviewTestament
DARK ROOTS OF THRASH

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On my radio show, THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, we have a long running argument about the Bay Area Thrash bands. We talk about if you could only keep one band's catalog, whose would it be. Would it be Metallica? Megadeth? Or would it be this band, Testament. Certainly there is no denying the greatness of MASTER OF PUPPETS or RUST IN PEACE. But with Testament, you have no ST. ANGER. There is no RISK. There is no sellout period, with the exception of DEMONIC where they sold out to the darker side and took a stab at being heavier than they had been to that point. It's a tough debate, really. While I think I'd still take Metallica based solely on the brilliance of the albums up to and through the Black album, there really is no way you could go wrong with the Testament catalog.

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Ministry - FROM BEER TO ETERNITY

Image: Ministry, From Beer To Eternity, Pitriff, Review, heavy metalMinistry
FROM BEER TO ETERNITY

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Ministry has been retired before, but this time might really be it. With the death of guitarist and collaborator Mike Scaccia just three days after the initial sessions for FROM BEER TO ETERNITY were completed, this might just be the final statement that Al Jourgensen wants to make to the world under the moniker of "Ministry". If so, he goes out in very strong fashion. While certainly not the best Ministry album, FROM BEER TO ETERNITY is an angry effort that is every bit as reminiscent as anything Jourgensen and company have done.

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Black Label Society - UNBLACKENED

Image: Black Label Society, Unblackened, Pitriff, heavy metal, reviewBlack Label Society
UNBLACKENED

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It's no secret that I'm a very big fan of Zakk Wylde. I've gotten to know him over the years, and more to the point, I've truly apprecated the music the guy creates. For many, they just love hearing him play guitar. I can see that. For me though, my go to moments are not the heavier albums like STONGER THAN DEATH or ORDER OF THE BLACK, but the stuff that strays from the heavy where Zakk just lets loose as a classic rocker. My favorite thing Wylde has done is his solo release BOOK OF SHADOWS, followed closely by BLS efforts HANGOVER MUSIC VOL. VI and THE SONG REMAINS NOT THE SAME. "Darkest Days" from THE SONG REMAINS NOT THE SAME is, by far, my favorite song he's ever done, based solely on the raw emotion he puts forth singing it acoustically. Wylde has returned with a very interesting live show called UNBLACKENED; a sort of acoustic show where he and Black Label Society rework a lot of songs from his entire career for a one night only performance. It's pretty good stuff.

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Dream Theater - DREAM THEATER

Image: Dream Theater, Pitriff, CD Review, heavy metal, hard rockDream Theater
DREAM THEATER

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...and once again I prepare for the argument that I always have when writing a review of a new Dream Theater release. It's the argument that I always make, and that every one of you musicians out there that worship this band always fight me tooth and nail on. That argument is simple - that Dream Theater are the most talented, and yet most undisciplined band in the history of recorded music. There is no person in their right mind that will say that they aren't a collection of some of the most talented virtuoso performers on the planet. With all their talent though, they are simply not disciplined enough to write songs that aren't bloated, pompous and designed to be more of a showcase of their musicianship than to creating something instantly memorable to anyone but their hardcore fans. There's a reason that casual fans don't know that they ever had another song after "Pull Me Under" - it's the lack of discipline in their songwriting to write concise, brilliant songs. They have brilliant performances all over each and every release, but few brilliant songs. I'd argue that Mr. Big was a much better band. They are a band of equal talent individually, but were also a band that honed their individual talents to create a lot more memorable songs. Let the hatred begin!

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