• Wretch - WARRIORS

    Image: Wretch, Warriors, Review, Power Metal, Chris Akin, Pitriff Wretch


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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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Image: Hurtsmile, Gary Cherone, classic metal, review, pitriff, chris akinHurtsmile


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, even though it's pretty much recorded history at this point that III was Eddie Van Halen's attempt at experimentation at the same time he was using or drinking himself into oblivion. Still, for most VH nerds, it's always impossible to admit that EVH could ever do anything badly. So blame it on the new guy, right? The sad truth though is that both before and after Van Halen, Gary Cherone has proven to be a pretty damn great frontman. I'm sure I'm near alone with this, but I look at PORNOGRAFFITI from Extreme as one of the top 10 albums of hair metal history. They followed with another brilliant release in III SIDES TO EVERY STORY, and then bested all of that with the widely underappreciated WAITING FOR THE PUNCHLINE (one of the top 10 albums in my entire collection). When Extreme reconvened, they put out another great release with SAUDADES DE ROCK. Simply put, Cherone has proven to be a great rock song writer over a long career.

In 2011, Cherone teamed with his brother and some other cats to release HURTSMILE, a project that at once feels a bit like Extreme, but is starkly more political and, dare I say, heavy. That album rocked, and paved the way for this latest release RETROGRENADE. I have to give it to Cherone. He knows how to play with A+ guitar players. Nuno Bettencourt, Eddie Van Halen, and now Marcus Cherone. The non-famous brother of Gary should be a star, as anyone that has now heard the two Hurtsmile release can attest to. This guy can flat out play. His tone is very rich and heavy, powering songs like the politically charged "Big Government". Cherone teams with Tantric bassist Joe Pessia and an unknown drummer named Dana Spellman to provide the music. They do a great job. So many songs on RETROGRENADE are full musically, almost like Extreme but with an upgraded touch. Listening to songs like "I Still Do" will naturally remind people of "Hole Hearted", although it's more updated and a bit darker so as to fit in with today's more modern rock sound.

As for Gary Cherone, he sounds like he always has. He's always had one of the strongest and easily recognizable voices in rock. That hasn't changed. Listening to him on songs like "Where Do We Go From Here", you realize immediately that he's every bit the singer he ever was. This song is particularly strong (probably the best of the disc), as brother Marcus opens the song with an almost 70s sounding groove to open the track before kicking loose with a riff that would make Richie Blackmore smile after Gary leads him up the proverbial mountain. In a lot of ways, this song reminds of a dark, bluesy Whitesnake song. It's a slow, driving blues number that was so successful in the classic rock days of the late 70s.

PITRIFF RATING - 96/100 - Hurtsmile is a great band. With far more diversity than it's predecessor and a heaping helping of talent from both guys with the last name of Cherone, you can't help but love this release. As someone that just loves to rock out, Hurtsmile now takes it's permanent position in my "rock out" playlist. Great stuff here.

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.


Buy Now:  Paperback    Digital

Image: Little Victories, Book, Chris Akin

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

CLICK HERE to learn more about LITTLE VICTORIES.

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Available January 13th in Paperback and Digital Formats on Amazon and iTunes.

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