• Halestorm - INTO THE WILD LIFE

    Image: Halestorm, Into The Wild Life, Pitriff, heavy metal, reviews, interviews Halestorm
    INTO THE WILD LIFE

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    With the release of THE STRANGE CASE OF…, I fell in love with Lzzy Hale. So much so, in fact, that I jokingly got down on one knee and asked her to marry me at Rock On The Range two years ago (a proposal that she didn’t flat out turn down, so maybe there’s still hope!!). Let’s be

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  • Marilyn Manson - THE PALE EMPEROR

    Image: Marilyn Manson, The Pale Emperor, Pitriff, Modern Metal, Reviews Marilyn Manson
    THE PALE EMPEROR

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    Let’s just call it the way it is. It’s been a very, very long time since Marilyn Manson recorded a really good, memorable release that any of us still listen to on a regular basis. To many, the would probably says that it’s been since MECHANICAL ANIMALS back in 1998. For me personally, I’ll be a bit more

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  • Black Star Riders - THE KILLER INSTINCT

    Image: Black Star Riders, The Killer Instinct, Review, Classic Rock, Pitriff Black Star Riders
    THE KILLER INSTINCT

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    When Black Star Riders made their decision to record under a new name instead of as Thin Lizzy, it was met with a lot of opinions. For most, I would assume they were happy that they decided to move away from the name they had been touring under. For many, I'm sure there was a lot of

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  • Lynch Mob - SUN RED SUN

    Image: Lynch Mob, Sun Red Sun, George Lynch, Classic Rock, Reviews Lynch Mob
    SUN RED SUN

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    On THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, George Lynch is regularly a topic of conversation. Maybe that has to do with the fact that Neeley is a personal friend of Don Dokken and I work for Don on his website, but I like to believe that he becomes a topic because, first and foremost, we are big fans of the

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    Image: Arch Stanton, Karma To Burn, Pitriff, Stoner Metal, Reviews Karma To Burn
    ARCH STANTON

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    There are those of us who know. We will forever be known as the "fortunate ones". There are those of you that have no idea. You will be known as the "unfortunate ones". What is it we know that you don't? We know the sheer greatness of Karma To Burn. For those that are unfortunate ones, let me

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    Image: U.D.O. - DECADENT, Classic Metal, Reviews, Pitriff U.D.O.
    DECADENT

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    I'm sure I'm not in the minority here, but I'm glad that we now have a killer version of Accept with Mark Tornillo as well as the continuation of U.D.O. with Udo Dirkschneider. In short, it's led to both bands stepping up their game and creating great music. While neither side will admit competition with the other band, the fans certainly

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

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    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: Jeff Loomis, Plains Of Oblivion, Pitriff, heavy metal reviews, newsJeff Loomis
PLAINS OF OBLIVION

It didn't seem like a coincidence that after the critical praise Jeff Loomis received from his last release, ZERO ORDER PHASE, that he left his main project Nevermore shortly afterward.  Admittedly, I have no idea how the story goes.  I don't know if Loomis was unhappy in Nevermore and was feeling out his options outside of the project, or if he just did a solo album and saw he could have success outside of the band.  To be fair, it might just have all fallen into place without either of those two scenarios playing out.  Whatever the case, Loomis left Nevermore a while ago, and now that puts all the pressure on his latest album, PLAINS OF OBLIVION, to launch his new career past the great band he was once a member of.

To be clear here, it can be argued that Jeff Loomis is the very best modern guitarist out today.  Sure, some will argue that point, but there really is no denying that Loomis' skills are about a zillion times more profound than 99.99% of the players out there today.  That said though, great guitar players don't always make great albums.  You need to look no further than Yngwie J. Malmsteen's career to see that firsthand.  Loomis though, at least on PLAINS OF OBLIVION, has created one of the single most monumental guitar-focused albums I've ever listened to.  PLAINS OF OBLIVION is a literal clinic of guitar perfection.

I think what makes PLAINS OF OBLIVION so much better than the average album from the virtuosos out there (Satriani, Vai, Johnson, Bonamassa, etc.), is that Loomis has not given up any of the heavy, thick sound for which he's so well known.  In short, a lot of the riffs you hear on PLAINS OF OBLIVION could easily have been the underpinnings of Nevermore songs, and some parts are even heavier than the framework that band defined for Loomis.  To listen to songs like "Escape Velocity", the bulk of the song feels like a Nevermore track.  That is, until Loomis replaces the vocal track with some of the single most blistering guitar work he's ever played.  This song also features a great near acoustic interlude in the middle that separates the two halves of intensity that could stand as the most proficient playing in Loomis' entire career.  To say Loomis' playing is masterful throughout is the equivalent of saying that the sun might keep you warm.  Tracks like the vocally led "Tragedy and Harmony" would have, without question, converted nicely to his old band's music.  The dichotomy of Loomis's soloing between the female vocals provided by Christine Rhoades and Loomis' raging guitar is incredible.

PITRIFF RATING - 98/100 - Without question, this is the single most masterful exhibition of guitar playing I've heard in years.  Being a Nevermore fan, I had high expectations for PLAINS OF OBLIVION, but seriously didn't expect anything close to this level of potency.  People always seem to throw bigger names into the equation when talking about the best guitarists out there, but it's nearly impossible to say that Jeff Loomis is ANY less unbelievable than any Satriani, Malmsteen, Wylde, Friedman or Vai out there.  I don't even like guitar albums much to be honest, but PLAINS OF OBLIVION is on a far different level of musicianship than anything else out there today.  Masterful.

Chris Akin

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