• 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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Helstar - 30 YEARS OF HEL

Image: Helstar, 30 Years Of Hel, Pitriff, CD ReviewHelstar
30 YEARS OF HEL

After 30 years, you could safely assume that a band still existing but having never had mega-success might just be a tired shell of their former selves. We've all seen these second tier bands reunite and embarrass themselves from time to time because it becomes more about hanging with their buds than it does to being serious about their music and their craft. After 30 years though, it's clear that Helstar might actually have more direction and aggression than they ever exhibited before. Led by diminutive vocalist James Rivera, the ferocity of Helstar is definitely far greater now than it was at any time in their long career. With the release of their new live collection 30 YEARS OF HEL, Rivera and company have proved that they were not only a great band back in the day, but still continue to bring it as strong as any thrasher band out there today.

There's really not much question that Rivera is the leader of this band. He may be small in stature, but his voice is as big as a mountain throughout. To me personally, Helstar has always been a much better metal version of King Diamond, and Rivera was always the key because his voice was always far more appealing. Throughout 30 YEARS OF HEL, he proves in the live setting that he's lost none of his edge; be it in the growling vocals or the much higher pitched screams that permeate each and every song. From the opening of "Angels Fall To Hell" to the closing "Run With The Pack", you quickly realize why Rivera has not only had a great career in Helstar, but has been one of those guys who is always sought out to appear with other bands. He is complimented brilliantly by guitarists Larry Barragan and Rob Trevino, who still have the fire they exhibited back in the mid-80s. Their punishing riffs on rockers like "Harker's Tale" prove that these two axeslingers still have the drive and skills they possessed as far back as the band extends to.

Without question though, the incredible pacing of this show captured on 30 YEARS OF HEL comes from the powerful work of drummer Mikey Lewis and bassist Jerry Abarca. Both are thunderous throughout as they lay in the bottom end of songs like "Burning Star" or "Angel Of Death". For a live album, this is musically one of the most solid things I've heard from a thrasher band such as this.

PITRIFF RATING - 93/100 - Helstar may not have been a breakthrough artist like a Megadeth or the like, but there are few people familiar with them that would deny they were every bit as good. 30 YEARS OF HEL revisits a lot of their classic material, but it also proves that they still have a lot of piss and vinegar to share with those of us that are still into the band. Great release.

Chris Akin

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