• 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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  • Slash - WORLD ON FIRE

    Image: Slash, Myles Kennedy, Conspirators, World On Fire, Pitriff, review, classic metal Slash
    WORLD ON FIRE

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    Hey Gene Simmons. The corpse of rock n' roll just had a baby. That baby is not an average baby at all. That baby was not stillborn, but came out kicking and screaming with an intensity rarely seen. This baby is destined for greatness. This infant is out to prove you wrong. While your days of spitting fire and

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  • Davey Suicide - WORLDWIDE SUICIDE

    Image: Davey Suicide, Worldwide Suicide, Pitriff, Reviews, Modern Metal Davey Suicide
    WORLDWIDE SUICIDE

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    I had the pleasure of working directly with Davey Suicide as he prepped his debut release a few years ago for release. I got to work with him on some promotional stuff, some publicity stuff, his website and a lot more of that kind of stuff. In that work, I quickly found him to be far more than the

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  • Ministry - LAST TANGLE IN PARIS

    Image: Ministry, Last Tangle In Paris, Pitriff, Review, Industrial Metal Ministry
    LAST TANGLE IN PARIS

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    Al Jourgensen of Ministry has been threatening to take his ball and go home for a long time now. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I believe that he'll ever retire. Every time he says he's retiring, he seems to come right back with more music that's stronger, meaner and just better than anything in his past. Being quite

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Toby Jepson - RAISING MY OWN HELL

Toby Jepson
RAISING MY OWN HELL

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I can't tell you the number of strange looks I've received over the years when I claim two of my top five hair bands of all time to be Love/Hate and Little Angels.  The overwhelming look of confusion is only equaled by the number of people that simple say, "who the fuck is that?"  Little Angels was, without question, the single most underappreciated band of the hair band era.  In a time that saw Def Leppard become one of the biggest bands ever, it simply should have been Little Angels.  They were better musicians.  They wrote much stronger songs than Leppard did with HYSTERIA on forward.  They didn't sell out to make it.  Most importantly, their singer Toby Jepson was just flat out better.  I've always felt that "Don't Pray For Me" and "Broken Wings Of An Angel" are two of the very best ballads ever recorded in an era where careers were cemented based on a solid ballad (Motley Crue, Poison, Mr. Big, Warrant, Skid Row all found their groove based on huge ballads). It's been a lot of years since then, and big success always eluded Jepson and Little Angels, but RAISING MY OWN HELL proves that nothing has been lost with this vocalist.

An acoustic-like EP, RAISING MY OWN HELL makes it clear that the powerful pipes of Jepson have never faded.  he sounds as good now as he did when the band debuted; a total crooner with amazing range, depth and soul in his sound.  Listening to songs like "Patience Of A Saint", you realize right away that Jepson still brings a raw emotional aspect to everything he sings, but still has far more natural skill than most singers today.  While most of his contemporaries have needed to downtune to simply make their songs presentable, Jepson showcases the fact that he sounds as good now as he did back then, going up and down the octave scale naturally and with both power and ease.  The brooding "Four Letter Word" has the grit you would want from an attitude ladened song like this, and yet his sound is so smooth that you can't help but be sucked in by it.  "Raising My Own Hell" sounds like it could have been ripped from the Little Angels' album YOUNG GODS, in large part because of Jepson's ability to tell a story in a compelling, and yet fun manner.

PITRIFF RATING - 96/100 - When it was announced that Jepson was a part of the Dio Disciples sharing vocals with legendary metal throat Tim "Ripper" Owens, I think most were surprised.  Certainly, it didn't seem like a match.  That is, unless you know Jepson's career and the wide vocal range he possesses. The acoustic RAISING MY OWN HELL is an exquisite collection of unplugged rockers that's about as good a listen as it gets for this kind of release.  I may be in the minority since most never gave his band a chance back in the day, but I'm more than thrilled he's back releasing music.

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A look at one of the most polarizing, iconic and best selling albums of all time from author, rock critic and shock jock radio host Chris Akin.

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