• 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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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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