• Fozzy - DO YOU WANNA START A WAR

    Image: Fozzy, Do You Wanna Start A War, Pitriff, Modern Metal, Review Fozzy
    DO YOU WANNA START A WAR

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    All the stars are aligned for me to be an absolute worshipper of Fozzy. And yet, I'm just not. It's not that I don't want to be. I'm a huge fan of the WWE, which is where Chris Jericho calls home professionally at least part of the time. To that fact, I'm a fan of Chris

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  • Goatwhore - Constricting Rage Of The Merciless

    Image: Goatwhore, pitriff, review, death metal Goatwhore
    CONSTRICTING RAGE OF THE MERCILESS

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    Here's one for the stout of heart and strong of neck: New Orleans's Goatwhore have just barfed up their sixth album, and if you liked the last few releases, Constricting Rage of the Merciless is sure to appease your charred heart. If you haven't been following along, Goatwhore is sort of a supergroup, if having members of

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  • Blues Pills - BLUES PILLS

    Image: Blues Pills, Blues Pills, Stoner Rock, Pitriff Blues Pills
    BLUES PILLS

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    It's not a secret that this whole retro movement in the worlds of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal has been an absolutely God sent for my musical palette. For so many years now, probably 20 or more, the ONLY band I've had to hold onto when I wanted new music from a band who's influences were steeped into the

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  • Unbreakable - KNOCKOUT

    Image: unbreakable, knockout, review, classic metal, pitriff Unbreakable
    KNOCKOUT

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    Retro has become in these days, and there are more and more bands creeping up that have harkened their sound back to a time that left well over 30 years ago. The last 2 years have seen an influx of bands reaching back to the '70s. Bands like Blues Pills, Vista Chino, Scorpion Child and Rival Sons have all emerged with

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  • The Treatment - RUNNING WITH THE DOGS

    Image: The Treatment, Running With The Dogs, Pitriff, Classic Metal, Review The Treatment
    RUNNING WITH THE DOGS

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    Admit it: you've just about given up on England when it comes to producing quality rock 'n' roll. The land that brought us the Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin, and of course the revered NWOBHM--in the past twenty-five years, what have they given us? The Wildhearts? Come on. The Darkness? Come the fuck on!

    The Treatment are a

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  • Arch Enemy - WAR ETERNAL

    Image: Arch Enemy, War Eternal, review, death metal, kip massey, pitriff Arch Enemy
    WAR ETERNAL

    The big story surrounding Arch Enemy's ninth studio album is that the band has done the impossible. They replaced their lead singer calmly, quietly, and without anybody knowing about it until it was already done—and somehow didn't miss a beat in the process. It's hard enough to replace a singer just once, but Arch Enemy has done it twice, and while

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  • California Breed - CALIFORNIA BREED

    Image: California Breed, Pitriff, Non Metal, Review California Breed
    CALIFORNIA BREED

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    It definitely sucks when you watch a band that you are REALLY a fan of implode. For me, that's just what I had to do with Black Country Communion. As the band that I think a lot of people compared head to head with Sammy Hagar's supergroup Chickenfoot, BCC stormed out quickly and recorded three tremendous releases. Still, as

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  • MuckRaker - KARMAGEDDON

    Image: Karmagaddon, Muckraker, Pitriff, Stoner Metal, Review MuckRaker
    KARMAGEDDON

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    One of the hardest things I'm tasked to do when reviewing bands is to look past the individual history of the members when a new project pops up. Many times, you really can't help but to think about a guy's past work in another band. That's especially true when the guy is the singer. MuckRaker is one of those bands for

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  • Judas Priest - REDEEMER OF SOULS

    judas priest, redeemer of souls, power metal Judas Priest
    REDEEMER OF SOULS

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    Judas Priest has a lot to atone for in the eyes of all fans except for Jim "Nostradamus" Bartek. Given the fact that Bartek's 524 day listening streak to NOSTRADAMUS probably doubled the count of the rest of the Priest fanbase combined, it's clear that the once Mighty Priest needed to do something very, very metal this time

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  • Quiet Riot - 10

    Image: Quiet Riot, Jizzy Pearl, 10, Pitriff, reviews Quiet Riot
    10

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    I'm generally excited when Jizzy Pearl fronts any band. He's one of my favorite singers out there from the classic metal era; a distinct sounding guy who has proven to be a chameleon while maintaining a sound there is no mistaking. Jizzy joining Quiet Riot was a welcome thought to me, personally. While I've never been a huge Quiet Riot

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  • Black Stone Cherry - MAGIC MOUNTAIN

    Image: Black Stone Cherry, Magic Mountain, Classic Metal, Review, Pitriff Black Stone Cherry
    MAGIC MOUNTAIN

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    Well, they finally did it. After nearly a decade of being hailed as the new kings of southern rock, and receiving favorable comparisons to Zeppelin and Skynyrd, western Kentucky's Black Stone Cherry have released an album that's worthy of all the praise.

    I've always liked the IDEA of Black Stone Cherry. I mean, what's not to like about

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  • American Dog - NEANDERTHAL

    Image: Neanderthal, American Dog, Classic Metal, Pitriff, Review American Dog
    NEANDERTHAL

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    God bless American Dog! For fifteen years, a bunch of blue-collar working stiffs from Columbus, Ohio have been churning out their brand of greasy, grimy redneck metal, and doing it all themselves. You gotta respect a band with American Dog's tenacity, toiling away in obscurity while other, much lesser bands soak up the major-label success. Oh yeah, and the tunes

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  • Hurtsmile - RETROGRENADE

    Image: Hurtsmile, Gary Cherone, classic metal, review, pitriff, chris akin Hurtsmile
    RETROGRENADE

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    For so many people, they hear Gary Cherone's name and immediately think about the failed Van Halen album III that he fronted. I get it. How can you not? It was such an unbelievably bad effort, and really should never have had the Van Halen name on it at all. Unfortunately though, Cherone has always been the blamesake of that release,

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  • U.D.O. - STEELHAMMER: LIVE FROM MOSCOW

    Image: Steelhammer, U.D.O., classic metal, review, pitriff U.D.O.
    STEELHAMMER - LIVE FROM MOSCOW

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    I really have no idea why U.D.O. is not a much, much bigger band than they are. Without question, everyone is all too quick to celebrate Accept, both with and without vocalist Udo Dirkschneider in the band. And yet, for all the love fans have for Dirkschneider's era of Accept, U.D.O. has really remained an afterthought instead of

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  • Ronny Munroe - ELECTRIC WAKE

    Image: Ronnie Munroe, Electric Wake, review, thrash metal, metal church Ronny Munroe
    ELECTRIC WAKE

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    One of the most disrespected singers in all of heavy metal, Ronny Munroe has more than ably fronted Metal Church for a decade now. Fronting Metal Church since 2004, the band has been a touch inconsistent (A LIGHT IN THE DARK and GENERATION NOTHING being great, WEIGHT OF THE WORLD and THIS PRESENT WASTELAND being a bit forgettable), but

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  • Vader - TIBI ET IGNI

    Image: Vader, Tivi Et Igni, Pitriff, review, death metal Vader
    TIBI ET IGNI

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    I could write all kinds of stuff about how Vader are the icons of Polish Death Metal. I could put all kinds of praise on them, and talk about how they and Behemoth are the trendsetters that allowed people to understand that Poland had some death metal brilliance coming out of their country. I could talk for a long

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  • Tesla - SIMPLICITY

    Image: Tesla, Simplicity, classic metal, review, pitriff Tesla
    SIMPLICITY

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    Even as a fan of Tesla, it's not hard to look at the band and find them to be somewhat less than energetic when it comes to putting out new music. They've now come forth with just their 7th studio album of new material since 1986. Let's be honest here, folks...that's not a lot of material over a VERY LONG period

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  • Tankard - R.I.B.

    Image: Tankard, R.I.B., thrash metal, review, chris akin, pitriff Tankard
    R.I.B.

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    I really don't think that, of all the bands out there, Tankard could ever do anything I don't appreciate in some way or another. Let's face it, if ever there was a "Chris Akin" band, Tankard would be it. They make the kind of metal that is closest to my heart - Thrash with just a touch of melody to make it

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Tesla - SIMPLICITY

Image: Tesla, Simplicity, classic metal, review, pitriffTesla
SIMPLICITY

MP3
CD

Even as a fan of Tesla, it's not hard to look at the band and find them to be somewhat less than energetic when it comes to putting out new music. They've now come forth with just their 7th studio album of new material since 1986. Let's be honest here, folks...that's not a lot of material over a VERY LONG period of time. Still, where they lack in over-productivity, they have always made up for it in quality. While fans and casual listeners may not love everything the band has done, there's really not a release in those seven where you go, "what in the fuck is this". To the contrary, when Tesla does decide to release a new disc, it generally comes with a certain certainty of what the listening experience will be. While SIMPLICITY has been beaten up a bit for being slower and lacking of the faster rock tunes of the past, I might argue that it's the closest to what this band has always wanted to be. A seriously strong release that fuses all the greatness of rock's history with that "Tesla vibe", SIMPLICITY is one of the stronger releases in the first half of 2014.

To agree with a lot of the critics that have given SIMPLICITY a bad time, it is slower than pretty much anything Tesla has ever done in the studio. There's a few songs, like "Richocet", that have a bit of that electricity and power the band is known for, but they are few and far between. That's not what they were going for here. Throughout their career, Tesla has always had a litany of mid-tempo songs and ballads that were the soul of the band. On SIMPLICITY, that's most of the release. Songs like "Honestly" are about as deeply emotional and honest as anything the band has ever release. Vocalist Jeff Keith's lyrics let you into his feeling of loss for his own needs as he battles the fact that he's too willing to help others...even at his own expense. It's a moving song, and one that we can all relate to at one time or another in our lives. Other songs, like "Cross My Heart" are EXACTLY the kind of song that Tesla fans like. This one is a fun song that's almost certainly going to be a big hit in the live setting for the band. This is another slow song, but just has that "let's all raise our drinks and party a bit" vibe to it. In short, it's a mature party song for a mature band with now maturing fans. It's a perfect fit for the band.

When they do bring the rock, it's almost a countrified version. Maybe that's due to Keith's second career as a country singer, but whatever the reason, it does work for Tesla. Songs like "Flip Side" are fun and interesting, and feature some cool guitar work from the always solid Frank Hannon and Dave Rude. The mixing of acoustic guitar with powerful riffs in the bridges and choruses just works on this song.

PITRIFF RATING - 96/100 - I'm sure people will argue this is rated way to high, and that's fine. With Tesla, one of the unfortunate aspects of the last two releases (INTO THE NOW and FOREVERMORE) was that they wore out and didn't have enough substance to become staples in the longer term. SIMPLICITY reminds me a lot of the material on albums like BUST A NUT that even after 20 years I still visit regularly. Songs like "Shine Away" or "Mama's Fool" that have just never gotten old. Casual fans will almost certainly not get SIMPLICITY, but for the harder core fans of the band, this might be one that stays in your mind for years to come. It's just got that kind of vibe all over it.

Chris Akin

 

Image: Tesla, Simplicity, Review, Classic MetalTesla
SIMPLICITY

Once upon a time, there was a pretty cool rock band called Tesla, who sang a song eagerly forecasting a "change in the weather." They were the younger generation, singer Jeff Keith asserted, and they had come to face the day. And how sweet it would be when that day finally came. They didn't have to wait long, as it turned out. Even as 1991's masterpiece Psychotic Supper was still on the charts, the mainstreaming of hip-hop, the rise of alternative rock, and the new popularity of "young country" for people who didn't like either of the above, all worked together to ring in what was to be a fairly strange, fairly shitty decade. Especially for Tesla.

Now it's 2014, and on their seventh studio album, Simplicity, Tesla are rethinking their stance on all that change, and have decided they wanna go back. To that end, they've produced an intentionally raw, unpolished release, stripping away all the modern trappings of their 2004 comeback Into The Now, and even dispensing with the singing/playing-through-a-phone sounds heard on 2008's Forever More (a recording technique commonly known as the Fucky Effect.) This is just five guys in a room, jamming on guitars tuned at or near E-standard and plugged straight into amps, and occasionally somebody pounding on the piano in the corner. In this way, Tesla weren't bullshitting when they said they were taking it back to their roots.

But of course, you can never REALLY go back. So, if you were still expecting Mechanical Resonance II, you really haven't been reading the writing on the wall.

Simplicity begins with the sound of a vinyl record spinning, or possibly milk being poured into a bowl of Rice Krispies. Then the album's de facto title track, "MP3" kicks off with what sounds like a promising opening, one where you can just tel it's going to explode into a nice, head-banging groove ... except it doesn't. The song is stuck in first gear, as Uncle Jeff pines for the days of yore, when families ate dinner together and then gathered around the Victrola in the parlor. Or some damn thing. I'm being a smartass here, sort of, and there's a point to be made about society's overreliance on technology having some disturbing side-effects. But "MP3" is just a bad way to start off a record, and unfortunately, it sets the tone both thematically and musically.

It's not so much that Simplicity is a slow record. You could see that coming, as Tesla's albums have been steadily decelerating since 1994's Bust A Nut, and as the band has frequently shown throughout its career, slow can be very, very good. Here, however, slow proves more often to be one big bore. That's partly Jeff Keith's fault, as he croaks out lyrics that are often as predictable as a Hallmark card, one painful syllable at a time. A good example is the album's second track, 'Ricochet," where, after another slow-building intro, we finally get that fist-pumping riff we waited for through the entire first song. And then the vocals start. I'll give you the first line, you fill in the blanks:

"Me and the boys've got a rock 'n' roll band From town to town, playin' __________

So call your friends and get down to the show

The crew got it ready for __________

Rollin' down the tracks on a runaway train

Movin' so fast, enough to __________

So here we are, we're back again

With a brand-new record all ready to __________

We love our fans, wanna make 'em proud

So start that amp and __________

Seriously, what's supposed to be a fun crowd-pleaser ends up coming off totally pandering and embarrassing, and this is the case with most of the handful of uptempo tracks on the album. Want to play another round? Try these, from the fot-stomping, slide-guitar-laced "Flip Side!":

My mama always told me since the day I was born

She said "we're all right, it's the world that's __________"

So now I'm thinkin' I wanna __________

I wrote down the words so everyone can __________

Having fun yet? Even when the songs are pleasing to the ear, the lyrics make you feel dumber for listening. Like on "Cross My Heart," a cool boogie (at half-speed, but still) spiced up with honky-tonk piano. And then Jeff starts warbling, reassuring his chick he's not fucking around on the road. AAAAWWWWWW!

I'm trying to be fair about the whole thing. And Simplicity does have its moments. "So Divine..." is a nice semi-ballad, always one of the band's stronger suits, with Stryper-y is-he-singing-about-Jesus lyrics. "Break Of Dawn" is a more successful rehash of "Ricichet" with a heavy grind. "Other Than Me" and "Burnout To Fade" are good, melancholy songs, but after a while, and crammed in with similar songs like "Honestly" and "Life Is A River," the whole heart-on-sleeve trip gets tiresome. I mean, how many more times do we need to hear Jeff Keith remind us that he's just a simple man doing the best he can, reflecting on his checkered past?

There's one more heavy song, in the form of "Time Bomb." The lyrics to this one seem like an attempt at a new Tea Party sing-along, complete with a call to "load up your guns" that I'm sure is figurative. It's a different kind of rallying cry from past power-to-the-people numbers like "Solution" or "Action Talks." But still, and not before Jeff fakes an orgasm halfway through, Frank Hannon and Dave "The New Guy" Rude rip it up to end the song, "Cumin' Atcha Live"-style. And then it's more "circle time" with the album closer "'Til That Day," Tesla On Parenting, with piano accompaniment, and Jeff doing that godawful voice-cracking-on-purpose thing he does now.

PITRIFF RATING - 60/100 – Look, don't get me wrong. I'm a huge Tesla fan, and have been since the Great Radio Controversy days as a kid. Their music has been a big part of my life, good and bad. Maybe I hold them to a higher standard than I do other bands because of that, but I find myself increasingly disappointed with, and disinterested in, the new-millennium incarnation of the band. The last great thing these guys produced, either as a group or on their own, was Jeff Keith and Tommy Skeoch's Bar 7 project, circa 2000. Like the previous two albums, Simplicity has its good points, but you have to ignore more and more cringe-worthy lyrics to enjoy them, plus deal with Jeff's smoke- and coke-ravaged voice. Even then, the best songs here still aren't as good as the worst ones on Bust A Nut, or any of the band's pre-breakup albums. And yes, there's the tempo issue. It's one downcast trudge of a release for the most part. They could have gotten a cheap five or ten more points from me by including last year's single "Taste My Pain" which showed some real piss and vinegar. As it stands, I feel like all the glowing accolades I see this disc receiving are more because people have such respect and reverence for the name Tesla, and not so much because it's such a great listen. It's not. Sorry.

Doghouse Reilly

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