• 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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  • 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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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

CD
MP3

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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