• Megadeth - DYSTOPIA

    Image: Megadeth, Dystopia, Dave Mustaine, David Ellefson, Kiko Loureiro, Chris Adler Megadeth


    More than any other metal band in history, being a hardcore Megadeth fan is truly a rollercoaster ride. This is a band with multiple duds in their catalog, and yet they always seem to rebound. Think about it, they’ve truly had some bad releases in their catalog. RISK was terrible. THE WORLD NEEDS A HERO wasn’t a lot better. And yet,

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  • Anthrax - FOR ALL KINGS

    Image: Anthrax, For All Kings, Pitriff, Chris Akin Anthrax


    Depending on your perspective, Anthrax is either having a career resurgence or floundering at the end of their career. I’m stunned how many people actually didn’t like their last effort, FOR ALL KINGS. In these ears, that was the best effort of their career. What made it great, to me, was the mixture of crushing heaviness combined with some

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  • Sevendust - KILL THE FLAW

    Image: Sevendust, Kill The Flaw Sevendust


    When I first saw Sevendust’s new release was titled KILL THE FLAW, my initial thought was “what exactly is the flaw?” It leads you to wonder just what it is that caused this band to not break big, while bands with lesser quality catalogs like Disturbed or Korn had such crazy amounts of success at the same time. This

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  • Iron Maiden - THE BOOK OF SOULS

    Image: Iron Maiden, The Book of Souls, Review, Classic Metal, Pitriff, Chris Akin Iron Maiden


    They don’t do it that often anymore, but there’s always excitement when Iron Maiden comes out with new music. Knowing that they are closing in on the end of their career, you really do end up hoping that when they go out for good, it will be with a bang. I think it’s universally agreed upon that

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  • Slayer - REPENTLESS

    Image: Slayer, Repentless, Pitriff, Review, Thrash Metal, Chris Akin Slayer


    Probably more than any release in their history, Slayer came into releasing this album at a crossroads. This WAS the album that, in many ways, dictated if the band could continue on or if it was indeed time to drift off quietly to Hell. The loss of guitarist Jeff Hanneman and the removal of drummer Dave Lombardo had almost every Slayer

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  • Operation: Mindcrime - THE KEY

    Image: Operation Mindcrime, Geoff Tate, Reviews, Music, heavy metal Operation: Mindcrime


    Geoff Tate’s falling out and subsequent two years of lawsuits, multiple versions of the same band and overall craziness in the press definitely tarnished a legacy that once seemed untouchable. Think about it. Even with over a decade of arguably bad releases (Q2K, TRIBE, AMERICAN SOLDIER, DEDICATED TO CHAOS), it wasn’t until the now infamous spitting incident and the

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    Image: WASP, Golgotha, Blackie Lawless, Pitriff, Review, Heavy Metal W.A.S.P.


    W.A.S.P. is one of those bands that has a ridiculously loyal fanbase...and good for them, actually. Doing THE CLASSIC METAL SHOW, we get shit on repeatedly anytime we say anything that is less than glowing about W.A.S.P., Blackie Lawless or any of the band’s former or present members. Oh well...comes with the territory, I guess. After what seems like quite a

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Image: Blue Sky Riders, Finally Home, Pitriff, CD ReviewBlue Sky Riders

The term "supergroup" is thrown around very loosely these days. In the most general terms, most people associate that term with a collection of "name" players. By name, we generally mean famous. Certainly, if a band was formed featuring Mick Jagger, Joe Perry, John Paul Jones and Neil Peart, that would qualify in the broadest terms as a "supergroup". That said though, peripheral fame is all relative, while a collection of unquestioned talent that has had tremendous success in the music industry should also be considered as a "supergroup". For many reasons, Blue Sky Riders are a musical supergroup. They do have a very name player in Kenny Loggins, but probably more impressively they have a unheralded in public yet legendary songwriter in Country Music Hall Of Famer Gary Burr, and a tremendous, well heard songwriter who's written massive hits for other artists in Georgia Middleman gracing this group.

Unlike most supergroups though, the proof is in the musical pudding. I know it's early in the year, but having listened to FINALLY HOME a few dozen times now, I'm pretty sure I've stumbled on a finalist for album of the year in 2013. With the musical heritage of the three of them as songwriters, combined with some brilliant three part harmonies and the rare combination of all three musicians sharing lead vocals without anyone taking the dominant role as the "leader", Blue Sky Riders is a band that deserves attention - A LOT of attention. In the world of modern country-pop, FINALLY HOME is as good as it gets.

While certainly the band will gain attention largely because of the presence of Kenny Loggins, FINALLY HOME will stand as the launch of Middleman as a mainstream, brilliant singer. While she has penned hits for some of the biggest artists out there today (Reba McIntyre, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban), Middleman's long been overlooked as a singer and performer. That is until now. Her smoky voice pushes relatable songs like the uplifting "Little Victories" into your soul. Her voice, combined with lyrics that literally everyone can relate to, power this song. At other times, like on "Another Spring", she finds her space between Burr and Loggins to raise the spirit of the song. Middleman is one of the single best vocalists out there today, regardless of if she's been heralded as such before now.

This is not to say that Middleman is the dominant performer. She's not, and that's the beauty of FINALLY HOME. All three vocalists share, almost equally, vocal leads. Not only do they do that, but it's a very organic way in which they split the vocals. On a project like this, you would envision that they would all be looking for equal time, and yet, that's just not how it works. Instead, they find their places well, and simply combine their collective sounds where necessary. There's really no songs where Loggins or Burr dominate vocally as the "lead"; instead combining their collective talents to hook listeners in. Songs like "Dream" and "Feeling Brave" have a brilliant characteristic of vocal tradeoffs between all three vocalists on lead, as well as tremendous hooks that are powered by the band's best attribute - their ability to harmonize vocally. Simply put, the three part harmonies provided by Loggins, Burr and Middleman are as strong as anything you can reference. While the music isn't the same by any standard, their harmonies hook you in the same way a classic Crosby Stills and Nash might have 30 years ago.

While musically excellent though, what makes FINALLY HOME an incredible listen is the characteristic where they are simply as strong or stronger than any group working today. That is their songwriting ability. The lyrical craftsmanship on songs like "Windeer Woman", "Feeling Brave", "A Thousand Wild Horses" or almost every other song on the album is stunning. Clearly, FINALLY HOME is the work of three master writers who understand how to write memorable, hook filled hits each and every time they put pen to paper. They have done so here.

PITRIFF RATING - 98/100 - I discovered this band a few months ago as a fluke. I have lived with "Feeling Brave" and "Dream" for months, and have played the two songs over and over - just enjoying them and building anticipation on what I hoped would be a full album of songs to compliment these two great numbers. Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned that the rest of the album would dwarf these two songs, but that's exactly what they have done. FINALLY HOME is a lot of things. It's fun. It rocks. It can make you laugh, and if you absorb the lyrics it can probably make you cry due to lyrics that tell stories we've all lived. It's musically great, vocally immense, and simply as good an album in the modern country/pop world as will be put out this year or in any other. This is as good as it gets.

Chris Akin

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.

Buy Now:  Paperback     Digital


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

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