• 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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  • 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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American Dog - NEANDERTHAL

Image: Neanderthal, American Dog, Classic Metal, Pitriff, ReviewAmerican 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 are consistently great, too!

For their seventh full-length album, Neanderthal, the guys find room at the pound for another canine compadre, guitarist Vinnie Salvatore. After existing as a trio for so long, and with Steve Theado's guitar tone being so thick and beefy, you almost wonder what they need with a second guitarist, or if you'd even be able to tell. On listening to the record, you can tell all right, even though Salvatore's style matches the band perfectly. There's lots of left-channel/right-channel interplay that you just didn't hear when Theado was handling all the guitar duties. Otherwise, the band's sound has remained essentially the same: a thick, gloopy stew of '70's metal influences, with a few dashes of dirty punk and psychobilly. Throw Motorhead, Ted Nugent, Molly Hatchet and Thin Lizzy in a barrel, and mash it all up with the Supersuckers and Nashville Pussy, and you get American Dog. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

There are no real surprises on Neanderthal beyond the extra guitars, but the quality of the songs is better than on their somewhat-average last album, 2012's Poison Smile. "Carnivore" stomps right out of the gate with a heavy guitar grind and Michael Hannon's best bass sound yet. This isn't the band's fastest album, as much of the record follows suit in a similar mid-paced thump. But there is, as always, some amped-up boogie, a couple punk blasts reminiscent of the band's first two albums, one and a half slow blues numbers, a cover tune, and a drinking song. Everything you want from American Dog, all bases expertly covered. This time out, the cover is of Ted Nugent's "Dog Eat Dog." The band puts their own stamp on it, and it feels completely at home among their own songs, but really, the original is so nasty to begin with, what more could you add to it? 2014's addition to the band's repertoire of songs in praise of alcohol is the low-down, countrified sneer of "We Ain't Gonna Not Get Drunk Tonight." George Thorogood would be proud.

The band's performance is, as usual, top-notch. Enough can't be said about Steve Theado's effortless, unpretentious shredding and instantly-recognizable tone, and Vinnie Salvatore fits right in. Hannon's bass-playing rumbles throughout, and his bouncy string-popping elevates a song like "Stuck In The Mud," one of the faster songs that I usually find to be American Dog's least interesting. His vocals are still the snarly mess they've always been, but that's part of the band's ragged charm from the beginning, and his attempts at real singing get better with each album. Relatively new drummer Michael "Hazard" Harris is a monster on the kit, easily filling the shoes of his predecessor, Keith Pickens, as spotlighted on the long jam at the end of "Sun Won't Shine."

PITRIFF RATING - 90/100 - Neanderthal is one of the band's bluesier releases, but also one of its heavier ones. I would put it close in line behind 2007's Hard and 2009's Mean in a ranking of their best albums. It's the same old reassuring bag of tricks from American Dog. They're all tricks the band does very well, and the disc's relative brevity, at just ten songs, keeps things varied and interesting. And one of the things the band does best is making the working-class existence, lived in dive bars after shitty jobs and where the rewards don't extend much beyond getting drunk and chasing questionable women, actually seem FUN.

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