• 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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  • Kix - ROCK YOUR FACE OFF

    Image: Kix, Rock Your Face Off, Classic Metal, Pitriff, Review Kix
    ROCK YOUR FACE OFF

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    Kix might just be the last of the '80's bands to release new material. By now, it seems like everybody else you could name from the glory days of yesteryear has made a stab at making music in the new millennium. Of course, a lot of them, we wish they hadn't, and just left us to our misty-eyed

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  • Evergrey - HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN

    Image: Evergrey, Hymns For The Broken, Review, Progressive Metal Evergrey
    HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN

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    In the world of progressive metal, there are exactly 2 bands which I worship. Those bands are Symphony X and Evergrey. Both bands are immensely talented, feature incredible musicianship, and come full of great lyrical and musical representations that tell amazing stories to the listeners. Following their last release GLORIOUS COLLISION, it really seemed like Evergrey may have

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  • Ace Frehley - SPACE INVADER

    Image: Ace Frehley, Space Invader, Pitriff, Classic Metal, Reviews Ace Frehley
    SPACE INVADER

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    Am I the only one that is tired of not only Ace Frehley, but all members of Kiss past and present? Since they were nominated for the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF CORPORATE, it has been a steady stream of nonsense, bickering, anger, hurt feelings and now emotional trauma. It's over already. Get over it. It's 2014. Kiss is

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  • Blackberry Smoke - LEAVE A SCAR

    Image: Blackberry Smoke, Leave A Scar, Pitriff, Review, Rock Blackberry Smoke
    LEAVE A SCAR - LIVE IN NORTH CAROLINA

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    Right up front, Blackberry Smoke is not a metal band. They are a southern-rock band, in the classic, original sense. These days, the term "southern rock" has been applied to everybody from Black Stone Cherry to Nashville Pussy to Crowbar, all sounds that would be alien and extreme in the days of Skynyrd and

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  • Skid Row - UNITED WORLD REBELLION, CHAPTER 2

    Image: Skid Row, United World Rebellion Chapter 2, Pitriff, Classic Metal, Review Skid Row
    UNITED WORLD REBELLION, CHAPTER 2

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    Part two of the three part Skid Row series known as UNITED WORLD REBELLION has been unleashed. Dubbed as RISE OF THE DAMNATION ARMY, UWR2 picks up where the first EP left off. There's simple math here. Over the course of these two EPs you have 14 songs. If you put the two together, you've got

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  • Downset - ONE BLOOD

    Image: Downset, One Blood, Pitriff, Review Downset
    ONE BLOOD

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    As a fan of Downset, I wasn't really surprised when the band split up in 2009. They claimed that "the band has run it's course". As a fan, I believe that. They definitely had a huge influence on a lot of the bigger nu-metal bands of the 2000s. Certainly, anyone that heard releases like DO WE SPEAK A DEAD LANGUAGE

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Black Label Society - CATACOMBS OF THE BLACK VATICAN

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.

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