• Sweet & Lynch - ONLY TO RISE

    Image: Sweet & Lynch, Only To Rise, CD Review, Classic Metal, Pitriff Sweet & Lynch


    Being completely honest here, I really didn't expect a whole lot out of this. I'm not the biggest Stryper fan in the world by a long shot, and the truth is that I just never could fully get into Michael Sweet's vocals. There's just always been something about him. I'm not sure what it is. I guess

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    Image: Rock Or Bust, AC/DC, Chris Akin, Pitriff, Classic Metal, Review AC/DC


    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


    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


    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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Image: Kix, Rock Your Face Off, Classic Metal, Pitriff, ReviewKix


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 memories. Others have released music that, while not stacking up against the old favorites, at least doesn't embarrass the band or tarnish the legacy. A bare few have been able to create something that rivals the classics.

There's no doubt Kix is as good a live band as they ever were in the '80's. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic, you've had plenty of changes to catch them live since their reunion during the holiday season of 2003, and the band has begun playing outside their home base more and more. Barring that, one viewing of the Live In Baltimore DVD, shot in late 2010, should answer any questions about the band's onstage prowess. But playing the old songs is one thing? How would they fare when it came to actually sitting down and writing songs, let alone without bassist Donnie Purnell, Kix's main songwriter during their first run (and the only member not included in the reunion)?

The answer comes in the form of Rock Your Face Off, the first new Kix material since 1995's oddly lackluster, tree-falling-in-an-empty-forest swan song, Show Business. And while it would have been damn near impossible to top the holy trinity of Midnite Dynamite, Blow My Fuse and Hot Wire, Rock Your Face Off is more than satisfying. Singer Steve Whiteman's band Funny Money have written a handful of songs on each of their albums that rise to near Kix-like quality, but having the twin guitars of Ronnie Younkins and Brian Forsythe, along with drummer Jimmy Chalfant and Funny Money bassist Mark Schenker, gives the overall sound that extra spark that sizzles for most of the album. Kix were always known as a very high-energy band, and songs like "Wheels In Motion," "Mean Miss Adventure," "Rock 'n' Roll Showdown" and the title track keep the accelerator jammed. Maybe even more rewarding are the big singalong choruses in songs like "Rollin' In Honey," "All The Right Things" and the disc's first single "Love Me With Your Top Down." Younkins and Forsythe show what an underrated guitar team they are, their approach deceptively simple, Forsythe with a twangy, Telecaster tone he's been using in his other gig with Rhino Bucket. Whiteman, perhaps owing to his day job as a voice teacher, is in fine form, putting most of his contemporaries to shame. Just watch him shriek through "She Dropped Me The Bomb" or Midnite Dynamite" on Live In Baltimore for proof. He isn't as over-the-top on Rock Your Face Off, but still gets his licks in here and there. He's bitched the most in the past about Donnie Purnell hogging the songwriting, so I would hazard the guess that most of the new songs are his. In a way, it sounds like if Funny Money could write most of an album full of "Boogie Man" and "About Women".

Say what you will about a bunch of 50-something men singing about chasing pussy and living the life of wild, freewheeling rock 'n' roll bandits, but what the hell did you expect from Kix? If they'd squeezed out a prune-fed turd of a song like "MP3" off the latest Tesla release, I think I might have lost faith completely. Besides, I hope chasing pussy, or at least thinking about it, never stops being fun. The one exception here is "Inside Outside Inn," which, unfortunately, isn't a paean to a no-tell motel. Instead, it's a tender, middle-aged-guy love song to his wife "and those two kids you talked me into." Gotta sing one for the little lady who puts up with all your bullshit, right? Not coincidentally, the song blows, the weakest track on the album, and Mrs. Whiteman is the only one diggin' it. But then, the band has never quite topped 1983's "For Shame" in the ballad department anyway. Aside from that, and a couple other below-average songs ("Can't Stop The Show" and "Dirty Girls"), it's hard to find much to complain about.

PITRIFF RATING - 81/100 - I ain't gonna lie to ya: Rock Your Face Off can't replicate the heard-it-at-a-million-parties familiarity of the band's best work. To expect that in 2014 would be ridiculous, and the same goes for the studio polish of 1988. But it's by no means a disappointment, either. Give the band credit for taking the trouble to write new material, rather than raiding the vaults, Van Halen style. (And there is a ton of unreleased Kix material out there in the dark corners of the Internet, in demo form from the old days.) Rock Your Face Off may not quite live up to the lofty standards of fan favorites from the past, but the band is generally successful in capturing the sound, and just as important, the intangible FEEL of Kix. They made the effort and got most of it right. What more could you ask for? I'm satisfied.

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.


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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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