• Megadeth - DYSTOPIA

    Image: Megadeth, Dystopia, Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Kiko Loureiro, Chris Adler Megadeth
    DYSTOPIA

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    More than any other metal band in history, being a hardcore Megadeth fan is truly a rollercoaster ride. This is a band with multiple duds in their catalog, and yet they always seem to rebound. Think about it, they’ve truly had some bad releases in their catalog. RISK was terrible. THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO wasn’t a lot better. And yet,

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  • Anthrax - FOR ALL KINGS

    Image: Anthrax, For All Kings, Pitriff, Chris Akin Anthrax
    FOR ALL KINGS

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    Depending on your perspective, Anthrax is either having a career resurgence or floundering at the end of their career. I’m stunned how many people actually didn’t like their last effort, FOR ALL KINGS. In these ears, that was the best effort of their career. What made it great, to me, was the mixture of crushing heaviness combined with some

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  • Sevendust - KILL THE FLAW

    Image: Sevendust, Kill The Flaw Sevendust
    KILL THE FLAW

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    When I first saw Sevendust’s new release was titled KILL THE FLAW, my initial thought was “what exactly is the flaw?” It leads you to wonder just what it is that caused this band to not break big, while bands with lesser quality catalogs like Disturbed or Korn had such crazy amounts of success at the same time. This

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  • Iron Maiden - THE BOOK OF SOULS

    Image: Iron Maiden, The Book of Souls, Review, Classic Metal, Pitriff, Chris Akin Iron Maiden
    THE BOOK OF SOULS

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    They don’t do it that often anymore, but there’s always excitement when Iron Maiden comes out with new music. Knowing that they are closing in on the end of their career, you really do end up hoping that when they go out for good, it will be with a bang. I think it’s universally agreed upon that

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  • Slayer - REPENTLESS

    Image: Slayer, Repentless, Pitriff, Review, Thrash Metal, Chris Akin Slayer
    REPENTLESS

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    Probably more than any release in their history, Slayer came into releasing this album at a crossroads. This WAS the album that, in many ways, dictated if the band could continue on or if it was indeed time to drift off quietly to Hell. The loss of guitarist Jeff Hanneman and the removal of drummer Dave Lombardo had almost every Slayer

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  • Operation: Mindcrime - THE KEY

    Image: Operation Mindcrime, Geoff Tate, Reviews, Music, heavy metal Operation: Mindcrime
    THE KEY

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    Geoff Tate’s falling out and subsequent two years of lawsuits, multiple versions of the same band and overall craziness in the press definitely tarnished a legacy that once seemed untouchable. Think about it. Even with over a decade of arguably bad releases (Q2K, TRIBE, AMERICAN SOLDIER, DEDICATED TO CHAOS), it wasn’t until the now infamous spitting incident and the

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  • W.A.S.P. - GOLGOTHA

    Image: WASP, Golgotha, Blackie Lawless, Pitriff, Review, Heavy Metal W.A.S.P.
    GOLGOTHA

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    W.A.S.P. is one of those bands that has a ridiculously loyal fanbase...and good for them, actually. Doing THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, we get shit on repeatedly anytime we say anything that is less than glowing about W.A.S.P., Blackie Lawless or any of the band’s former or present members. Oh well...comes with the territory, I guess. After what seems like quite a

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Image: Black Label Society, Catacombs Of The Black Vatican, Pitriff, Review, Classic MetalBlack Label Society
CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN

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When Zakk Wylde decides to release new music, the metal world definitely stops for a moment and listens.  They may not like it all, but they do listen.  It's a testament to how unbelievable the man is on guitar; a true legend who stands shoulder to shoulder with the Eddie Van Halen's and Dimebag Darrell's of the world of guitar playing.  If Zakk has a habit though, it's to release an album that's dull every once in awhile.  It doesn't happen all the time, but it certainly has been known to happen.  SHOT TO HELL was pretty lame, and 1919 ETERNAL was a little too full of concept instead of substance.  Still, the last two releases, ORDER OF THE BLACK and the acoustic THE SONG REMAINS NOT THE SAME left me thinking that Wylde was back to his creative best, and caused a lot of anticipation for his latest.  Unfortunately, CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN just doesn't measure up.  Slow, plodding and mid-tempo, the word that comes to mind throughout is boring.

If you are a BLS fan as I am, you won't hate this release.  All the elements of a traditional BLS release are here.  Zakk sings as he always does (although it's really time for him to stop singing through his nose and get back to the more gritty vocal style from the beginning of his career with BLS).  The songs are all melodic and simple.  The guitar playing?  As always, it's great with some truly standout solos mixed in here and there.  Without question, this release's best track is "Believe"; a midtempo rocker that's not only cool, but contains one of those trademark Wylde guitar blasts in the middle for good measure.  Other songs, like the first single "My Dying Time" will probably surprise a few people with the fact that there are no pinch harmonic squeals anywhere in the song (which, by my count, is the first time EVER on a studio track from Zakk in BLS or Ozzy).

Unfortunately though, that's really where the good words have to stop.  Not that there's any truly "bad" songs on CATACOMBS, but there's just nothing much that stands out at all.  So much of this release is midtempo and boring that it's just not a lot of fun to listen to.  It seems like since the success of "In This River", Wylde goes back to that writing well over and over again with further degraded results every time.  Listening to songs like "Angel Of Mercy", you just hear it as a b-version of "In This River".  Again, a great guitar solo in the break, but that's about the extend of it's goodness.  Further CATACOMBS just doesn't have enough ragers on it.  Songs like "Heart Of Darkness" try to be, but they never get all the way there.  The pace is just too slow.

PITRIFF RATING - 50/100 - Definitely a disappointment coming off of ORDER OF THE BLACK to say the least.  CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN is one of those releases that you might give a listen every now and again if you are a fan of Black Label Society, and it's not likely to chase any fans away.  At the same time though, it's not going to really serve to feed those current chapter members of the SDMF.  There' a lot of great soloing here, but it's mixed into some fairly dull music.

Image: Cause/Effect Metallica, Chris Akin

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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Image: Little Victories, Book, Chris Akin

The shockingly honest and emotional first book from radio personality and rock critic Chris Akin.

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