• Slash - WORLD ON FIRE

    Image: Slash, Myles Kennedy, Conspirators, World On Fire, Pitriff, review, classic metal Slash
    WORLD ON FIRE

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    Hey Gene Simmons. The corpse of rock n' roll just had a baby. That baby is not an average baby at all. That baby was not stillborn, but came out kicking and screaming with an intensity rarely seen. This baby is destined for greatness. This infant is out to prove you wrong. While your days of spitting fire and

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  • Davey Suicide - WORLDWIDE SUICIDE

    Image: Davey Suicide, Worldwide Suicide, Pitriff, Reviews, Modern Metal Davey Suicide
    WORLDWIDE SUICIDE

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    I had the pleasure of working directly with Davey Suicide as he prepped his debut release a few years ago for release. I got to work with him on some promotional stuff, some publicity stuff, his website and a lot more of that kind of stuff. In that work, I quickly found him to be far more than the

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  • Ministry - LAST TANGLE IN PARIS

    Image: Ministry, Last Tangle In Paris, Pitriff, Review, Industrial Metal Ministry
    LAST TANGLE IN PARIS

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    Al Jourgensen of Ministry has been threatening to take his ball and go home for a long time now. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I believe that he'll ever retire. Every time he says he's retiring, he seems to come right back with more music that's stronger, meaner and just better than anything in his past. Being quite

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  • Kix - ROCK YOUR FACE OFF

    Image: Kix, Rock Your Face Off, Classic Metal, Pitriff, Review Kix
    ROCK YOUR FACE OFF

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    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

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  • Evergrey - HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN

    Image: Evergrey, Hymns For The Broken, Review, Progressive Metal Evergrey
    HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN

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    In the world of progressive metal, there are exactly 2 bands which I worship. Those bands are Symphony X and Evergrey. Both bands are immensely talented, feature incredible musicianship, and come full of great lyrical and musical representations that tell amazing stories to the listeners. Following their last release GLORIOUS COLLISION, it really seemed like Evergrey may have

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  • Ace Frehley - SPACE INVADER

    Image: Ace Frehley, Space Invader, Pitriff, Classic Metal, Reviews Ace Frehley
    SPACE INVADER

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    Am I the only one that is tired of not only Ace Frehley, but all members of Kiss past and present? Since they were nominated for the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF CORPORATE, it has been a steady stream of nonsense, bickering, anger, hurt feelings and now emotional trauma. It's over already. Get over it. It's 2014. Kiss is

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  • Blackberry Smoke - LEAVE A SCAR

    Image: Blackberry Smoke, Leave A Scar, Pitriff, Review, Rock Blackberry Smoke
    LEAVE A SCAR - LIVE IN NORTH CAROLINA

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    Right up front, Blackberry Smoke is not a metal band. They are a southern-rock band, in the classic, original sense. These days, the term "southern rock" has been applied to everybody from Black Stone Cherry to Nashville Pussy to Crowbar, all sounds that would be alien and extreme in the days of Skynyrd and

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  • Skid Row - UNITED WORLD REBELLION, CHAPTER 2

    Image: Skid Row, United World Rebellion Chapter 2, Pitriff, Classic Metal, Review Skid Row
    UNITED WORLD REBELLION, CHAPTER 2

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    Part two of the three part Skid Row series known as UNITED WORLD REBELLION has been unleashed. Dubbed as RISE OF THE DAMNATION ARMY, UWR2 picks up where the first EP left off. There's simple math here. Over the course of these two EPs you have 14 songs. If you put the two together, you've got

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  • Downset - ONE BLOOD

    Image: Downset, One Blood, Pitriff, Review Downset
    ONE BLOOD

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    As a fan of Downset, I wasn't really surprised when the band split up in 2009. They claimed that "the band has run it's course". As a fan, I believe that. They definitely had a huge influence on a lot of the bigger nu-metal bands of the 2000s. Certainly, anyone that heard releases like DO WE SPEAK A DEAD LANGUAGE

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  • Madball - HARDCORE LIVES

    Image: Pitriff, Madball, Hardcore Lives, Pitriff, Harcore Madball
    HARDCORE LIVES

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    As a total fan of hardcore metal, it's a genre that doesn't always make a lot of sense. Certainly, there's no real questioning why a band like Agnostic Front is the "Black Sabbath" of the genre. Equally, it's not much of a surprise that Biohazard was so well regarded as they broke the style into the mainstream with the big

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  • Accept - BLIND RAGE

    Image: Accept, Blind Rage, Pitriff, Clasic Metal, Review Accept
    BLIND RAGE

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    Accept continue to rage on. Since his debut with the band, it's as clear as can be that vocalist Mark Tornillo has completely revitalized this band. His first two discs with the band, BLOOD OF THE NATIONS and STALINGRAD, were both masterpieces that sit near the top of the Accept catalog...regardless of who the singer is. This is not to

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  • John Garcia - JOHN GARCIA

    Image: John Garcia, John Garcia, review, stoner metal, review, pitriff John Garcia
    JOHN GARCIA

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    VINYL

    For many of you, the name John Garcia doesn't mean a whole lot. I get that. For some of us - people that have long loved the world of Stoner Rock and Metal, John Garcia is every bit the musical God that people like Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson are in the world of "classic metal". With

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  • Godsmack - 1000HP

    Image: Godsmack, 1000hp, review, pitriff, modern metal Godsmack
    1000HP

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    I must be getting old, because recently, I've noticed my attitude softening toward the dreaded "nu-metal" bands of fifteen years ago. Maybe it's just nostalgia for what I now perceive (incorrectly, I'm sure) as a simpler time, but the burnout and disinterest I felt circa 2002, the year I quit seriously listening to mainstream rock radio has mellowed of late. Don't

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  • Wovenwar - WOVENWAR

    Image: Wovenwar, Pitriff, CD Review, Modern Metal Wovenwar
    WOVENWAR

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    More singers should try to have their wives killed if the resulting project to come from that nightmare sounds like Wovenwar. Holy shit is this project great! Being perfectly honest, I wasn't much of an As I Lay Dying fan, so hearing that the surviving members were forming a new project and carrying on with a new singer and new name

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  • Overkill - WHITE DEVIL ARMORY

    Image: Overkill, White Devil Armory, Pitriff, Review, Thrash Metal

    Overkill
    WHITE DEVIL ARMORY

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    Holy shit! Who saw this coming? In an astonishing detour off the band's well-trampled musical path. Their latest album ventures into heretofore uncharted territories, embracing such unexpected sonic offshoots as Eastern-tinged black metal, polka-dotted folk-metal, and, in what is sure to be a harbinger of trends to come, Tuvan throat-singing.

    Nah, just fuckin' with you to see if you

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  • Fozzy - DO YOU WANNA START A WAR

    Image: Fozzy, Do You Wanna Start A War, Pitriff, Modern Metal, Review Fozzy
    DO YOU WANNA START A WAR

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    All the stars are aligned for me to be an absolute worshipper of Fozzy. And yet, I'm just not. It's not that I don't want to be. I'm a huge fan of the WWE, which is where Chris Jericho calls home professionally at least part of the time. To that fact, I'm a fan of Chris

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  • Goatwhore - Constricting Rage Of The Merciless

    Image: Goatwhore, pitriff, review, death metal Goatwhore
    CONSTRICTING RAGE OF THE MERCILESS

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    Here's one for the stout of heart and strong of neck: New Orleans's Goatwhore have just barfed up their sixth album, and if you liked the last few releases, Constricting Rage of the Merciless is sure to appease your charred heart. If you haven't been following along, Goatwhore is sort of a supergroup, if having members of

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Blackberry Smoke - LEAVE A SCAR

Image: Blackberry Smoke, Leave A Scar, Pitriff, Review, RockBlackberry Smoke
LEAVE A SCAR - LIVE IN NORTH CAROLINA

CD
MP3

Right up front, Blackberry Smoke is not a metal band. They are a southern-rock band, in the classic, original sense. These days, the term "southern rock" has been applied to everybody from Black Stone Cherry to Nashville Pussy to Crowbar, all sounds that would be alien and extreme in the days of Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet. Atlanta's Blackberry Smoke, on the other hand, would have fit comfortably in that era. In fact, in 2014, their music sound more like hard, modern country music than anything you would hear on rock radio. The band seems to know this, and in the years since their 2003 debut, Bad Luck Ain't No Crime--produced by Jackyl's Jesse Dupree, who more or less discovered them--they seem to have steered their music in that direction. To that end, they've worked with hot Nashville producer Dann Huff (a reinvented rocker himself, formerly the lead singer and guitarist for the band Giant), and sanding away the rough edges of their music and lyrics.

You want to know the hell of it, though? They are super-talented musicians and songwriters. If you like classic southern rock, or even stuff like the Black Crowes without the sophistication or irony, it's impossible not to root for Blackberry Smoke. They've done it the hard way, by relentless touring and toiling in relative obscurity for over a decade, before being signed to Zac Brown's Southern Ground label and enjoying a modicum of success.

Now it's time for their live double CD and DVD package, Lave A Scar: Live In North Carolina. You get twenty-two songs, spanning the band's three and a half albums so far (eighteen songs on the DVD). The band plays every song from its 2012 release, The Whippoorwill, but still has plenty of time for older (and often harder-rocking) favorites like "Sanctified Woman," "Up In Smoke" and 'Shake Your Magnolia." The band is tight like only a band that plays constantly can be. The musicianship is excellent, the songs are catchy and fun, and the crowd is fired up.

So why am I underwhelmed? The answer, I think, likes more in the overall feeling of the show, rather than any faults of the musicians. For starters, most live albums feature more energized, fiery performances than what you hear on studio releases. On the other hand, Blackberry Smoke sound very laid-back after the first couple songs. Many of the tunes actually seem a bit SLOWER than their original versions. Then there's the guitar sound. It's like both lead singer Charlie Starr and guitarist Paul Jackson are playing on the neck pickups of their instruments, pretty much the whole time, and there just isn't very much bite to their sound. It lends the music a muffled quality. Maybe it's just that I, as a metalhead, am used to a sharp, cutting guitar tone on modern live albums, but I found myself constantly repositioning my headphones and fiddling with the equalizer on my stereo, trying to get the sound dialed in right. Even songs that sound like they should really roll, like "Leave A Scar" or "Shake Your Magnolia," sound flat and mild. Adding to the nagging boredom is the fact that so many of the songs from The Whippoorwill are on the slow side. Not ballads, exactly, but they just kind of mosey along, and the band is occasionally given to meandering jams that really get the mind wandering. Then there's that keyboard player, tinkling along on the piano or warbling along on the organ, further blunting the band's sound.

When it works, though, it works well. Muddy sound notwithstanding, the opening uptempo one-two punch of "Shakin' Hands With The Holy Ghost" and "Sanctified Woman" get things off to a head-bobbing start. The two songs from the band's pure-country EP, New Honky Tonk Bootlegs--"Son Of The Bourbon' and "Lesson In A Bottle"--are really nice, and work better than some of the middle-of-the-road country rock of more recent material. Charlie Starr sounds exactly like somebody named Charlie should sound--a little rough and raspy, but capable of pulling off some stunningly clear harmonies with Jackson when you don't expect it. Not a silky-voiced country crooner, even when he tries to be.

I also give the band points for still occasionally steering clear of the skull-hammering lyrical cliches of current country music. On their first album, they sang about running off with bad women, and a girl who dumps you to peddle her ass in New Orleans, but on later releases, they seemed to consciously sanitize things a bit. That gave us songs about wanting to drink a beer after work before listening to the wife's litany of complaints, letting off steam by driving around and going fishing, and the like. Even so, they refuse to sing about how wonderful small-town life is. "One Horse Town" portrays Charlie as "an old married man at twenty-three, with two little boys on the baseball team, 'cuz that might be their only ticket out." Their bittersweet songs are often tinged more heavily with bitterness and regret in this way. Their fun songs tend to be a bit raunchier than your typical country fare as well. "Shake Your Magnolia" is clearly a strip-club anthem, while "Up In Smoke" hints at on-the-road debauchery. Even the requisite country checklist/backwoods party song, "Good One Comin' On," gets a bit naughty. Onstage, Charlie swaps in a new line, "Skinny-dippin' in the Chattahoochee ..." to which the audience gleefully responds, "Got my finger in your sister's coochie."

PITRIFF RATING - 68/100 - I wanted to give Leave A Scar a higher rating. I swear I did. Blackberry Smoke are great at what they do, and I'm glad for the success they're finally starting to achieve. I can't even really blame them for selling out somewhat to Nashville; clearly, they would never be welcome in today's rock environment. They're too good a band not to be popular. I would've rated this CD higher if they had done something about that toothless guitar sound, and maybe cut out some of the more boring, easygoing songs that just sap the energy of the set.

And lose that fuckin' keyboard player!

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

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Read Reviews and Excerpts from LITTLE VICTORIES: A TALE OF DIVORCE, DEBAUCHERY AND FINDING HAPPINESS HERE!

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