• Halestorm - INTO THE WILD LIFE

    Image: Halestorm, Into The Wild Life, Pitriff, heavy metal, reviews, interviews Halestorm
    INTO THE WILD LIFE

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    With the release of THE STRANGE CASE OF…, I fell in love with Lzzy Hale. So much so, in fact, that I jokingly got down on one knee and asked her to marry me at Rock On The Range two years ago (a proposal that she didn’t flat out turn down, so maybe there’s still hope!!). Let’s be

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  • Marilyn Manson - THE PALE EMPEROR

    Image: Marilyn Manson, The Pale Emperor, Pitriff, Modern Metal, Reviews Marilyn Manson
    THE PALE EMPEROR

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    Let’s just call it the way it is. It’s been a very, very long time since Marilyn Manson recorded a really good, memorable release that any of us still listen to on a regular basis. To many, the would probably says that it’s been since MECHANICAL ANIMALS back in 1998. For me personally, I’ll be a bit more

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  • Black Star Riders - THE KILLER INSTINCT

    Image: Black Star Riders, The Killer Instinct, Review, Classic Rock, Pitriff Black Star Riders
    THE KILLER INSTINCT

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    When Black Star Riders made their decision to record under a new name instead of as Thin Lizzy, it was met with a lot of opinions. For most, I would assume they were happy that they decided to move away from the name they had been touring under. For many, I'm sure there was a lot of

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  • Lynch Mob - SUN RED SUN

    Image: Lynch Mob, Sun Red Sun, George Lynch, Classic Rock, Reviews Lynch Mob
    SUN RED SUN

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    On THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, George Lynch is regularly a topic of conversation. Maybe that has to do with the fact that Neeley is a personal friend of Don Dokken and I work for Don on his website, but I like to believe that he becomes a topic because, first and foremost, we are big fans of the

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  • Karma To Burn - ARCH STANTON

    Image: Arch Stanton, Karma To Burn, Pitriff, Stoner Metal, Reviews Karma To Burn
    ARCH STANTON

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    There are those of us who know. We will forever be known as the "fortunate ones". There are those of you that have no idea. You will be known as the "unfortunate ones". What is it we know that you don't? We know the sheer greatness of Karma To Burn. For those that are unfortunate ones, let me

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  • U.D.O. - DECADENT

    Image: U.D.O. - DECADENT, Classic Metal, Reviews, Pitriff U.D.O.
    DECADENT

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    I'm sure I'm not in the minority here, but I'm glad that we now have a killer version of Accept with Mark Tornillo as well as the continuation of U.D.O. with Udo Dirkschneider. In short, it's led to both bands stepping up their game and creating great music. While neither side will admit competition with the other band, the fans certainly

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  • Sweet & Lynch - ONLY TO RISE

    Image: Sweet & Lynch, Only To Rise, CD Review, Classic Metal, Pitriff Sweet & Lynch
    ONLY TO RISE

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    Being completely honest here, I really didn't expect a whole lot out of this. I'm not the biggest Stryper fan in the world by a long shot, and the truth is that I just never could fully get into Michael Sweet's vocals. There's just always been something about him. I'm not sure what it is. I guess

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  • AC/DC - ROCK OR BUST

    Image: Rock Or Bust, AC/DC, Chris Akin, Pitriff, Classic Metal, Review AC/DC
    ROCK OR BUST

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    In a year that has see a foundational piece of AC/DC succumb to a debilitating illness and another to his own personal insanity, AC/DC emerges after seemingly forever away with ROCK OR BUST. To be fair and truthfully honest, expectations on this release were pretty low. I know that AC/DC is a band that's been in business almost 50

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  • Whitesnake - BACK TO THE BONE

    Image: Whitesnake, Back To The Bone, Pitriff, Chris Akin Whitesnake
    LIVE IN '84 - BACK TO THE BONE

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    David Coverdale and company have had a very long and successful history that started even before he formed Whitesnake. There's no denying the legacy here. Coverdale has had a fantastic career with Whitesnake, and his time in Deep Purple was every bit as strong to that band as a Sammy Hagar was to Van Halen

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  • 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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Images: Obey, Benedictum, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, PitriffBenedictum
OBEY

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Some bands just don't get the love they deserve from metal fans around the world.  One of those bands is Benedictum.  In a large way, I put them in the same bucket as an artist like Jorn Lande.  Musically, they are continually stronger than most of the trendy dreck that's out there, but they are constantly overlooked for reasons that are just not fair to them.  With Lande, he's got the stigma of sounding like Dio (which, to be fair to the metal fans out there he helped to perpetuate) which has led people to not take him as seriously as an individual artist as his music demands.  With Benedictum, I'm quick to believe that the imagery of the beautiful and voluptuous Veronica Freeman does more harm than good, as the dumb metal stereotype of "chicks don't rock" will cause some to not give Benedictum a fair shake.  For those metalheads, I can only say, "your loss, dumbass".  As a band that simply gets better with each and every effort, Benedictum has created their best release yet with OBEY.  Full of speed, heaviness and frenetic energy that is far above their previous releases, OBEY has high jumped the bar the band previously set with DOMINION, and cleared it by a mile.

While most focus on vocalist Veronica Freeman when talking about Benedictum (with cause, she's not only the leader of the band but also amazingly talented in her own right), the focal point of OBEY is guitarist Pete Wells.  While playing without the false benefit of downtuning to make him sound heavy, Wells is a behemoth on guitar throughout OBEY.  His riffs on the title track are blasting.  On "Fighting For Your Life", Wells' riff drives the song as it interweaves old school thrash with a bit of more modern metal changes in the bridges of the song.  It's subtle in the way he does it, but it's one of the most recognizable signatures of not only this song, but of Wells' overall style.  It's clear the guy grew up listening to the greats, but unlike so many, he didn't stop growing as a player in 1990.  His work on OBEY is amazing.

The band plays an equally impressive part supporting Wells.  Bassist Aric Avina and drummer Rikard Stjernquist are the basement of this band; a rock solid foundation that does far more than just drive each song forward for Wells and Freeman.  They sound great on OBEY; specifically Stjernquist who takes songs like "Scream" and showcases both a soft, subtle beat at time and a titanic sized thump when the song gets cranked back up.  He and Avina team throughout and play brilliantly off each other.

This leads us to Freeman.  Knowing that she was working on a solo album at the same time she was crafting OBEY, it's not surprising that she comes to the table this time with some new vocal ideas.  Songs like "Fighting For Your Life" and "Fractured" find Freeman trying sounds other than her fiery deep vocals and patented screams.  There are times when Freeman is a bit softer in her delivery throughout OBEY, although I would not say there's a moment where you'd mistake her vocal sound as "going soft" or overly feminine.  To be blunt, you won't be mistaking anything here on OBEY for music by Kesha or Lady Gaga any time soon.  She's still all metal, and songs like the biting "Evil That We Do" or the interesting duet with ex-Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin called "Cry" will convince you of that.

More than any other release in this band's career to date, OBEY is not as much about the parts as it is about the collective sum of the individuals in the band.  In short, they simply wrote better songs than in the past.  "Retrograde" is, without question, the very best song Benedictum has crafted to date.  I'll compare it to a song that only you hardcores will even know and only about half of you will appreciate, but this song reminds me of "The Raging Storm" by WASP from their NEON GOD, PART 1 release.  It does so not so much in the overall sound (ultimately they don't sound the same), but in the way it builds up and explodes with emotion and pain.  "Retrograde" has this same characteristic.  With most of the other material on OBEY, the impact is more direct and fast, but with "Retrograde", you get the biggest example of their growth as songwriters as a band.

PITRIFF RATING - 94/100 - Definitely a contender for the top spot on my Top 20 list their year, OBEY continues to improve on the winning formula that has made them one of the best, and yet completely unheralded, bands out there today.  Benedictum is a band that many have yet to discover.  All I can offer to you if you are one of them is, "stop waiting and get it."  There;s too few great bands out today to miss the really good ones.

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